I thought I’d never write that title, but after almost three years in the freelance lifestyle, I have a wee bit of perspective. The gray, windowless cubicle farm is mostly a place of quiet (or not so quiet) desparation. However it has three advantages over editing in your pajamas in front of a bunch of windows.
1. Air conditioning
God, yes. It’s the dog days of summer in most of the United States, and if my dog is any indication, we should all be sprawled across the wood or tile floor like dead things. In my soul-crushing cubicle days, heat was an abstraction as I pulled a cardigan around my over-air-conditioned shoulders. I looked at the weather report and wondered what 96 degrees felt like. Once or twice a year I miss that.
2. Printing/faxing Capabilities
One of the secret joys of my time as an office drone was that I could print out my entire poetry manuscript (3 times if necessary) on the office printer. It printed quickly and easily, and I got to sneak around, picking up the illicit sheaf of poems when my boss wasn’t looking. Then I stole office envelopes and postage and sent my manuscript out to contests. If I had a side freelance project, I could print it out at work. Now I have to go out and buy paper and reload the printer 8 times.
3. Paid Vacations and Health Insurance
My Great Aunt Martha coming into town? Great, I could take a day off and get paid for it. Now I have to work long hours to finish my project and I don’t get paid to lie by the water and hold Great Aunt Martha’s parasol. As for the insurance? I’m one of the lucky bastards with a partner whose employer will cover my insurance. We once figured that his place of employ paid out more for our health insurance than he made in a year. Now that’s fucked up.
But all in all, I have no regrets. Yesterday I went swimming halfway through my day. Remember, if anyone asks? Oh I had a meeting.