Friday, April 23, 2010

One Month Out: Self-Employed Update

So, one month on my own, and so far so good. I've landed a pretty steady freelance gig with, AOL's venture into local news, working in the exact same geographic territory on the exact same kinds of assignments with some of the exact same reporters who got laid off or left my old newspaper. It's been a pretty seamless transition, except now I'm using my Canon 5D Mark II to shoot video, and I can be a lot more creative. Plus, I set my own schedule.

The money? It is enough to pay myself the same amount as my old paycheck every two weeks, buy a sweet 300-mm f2.8 sports lens off eBay, invest in Final Cut Express software (iMovie was making me pound the couch cushions in frustration in a very nutty, nutty fruitcake kind of way as it took years to import clips and register keystrokes) help repave our driveway and the rest gets socked away for taxes. It is enough. It is enough. I will stay cool, calm and collected and believe that it will continue to be enough. Ahem.

But! I've booked my first international wedding, which means Joel and I get to go to London for week in August and stay with Jo. I'm trying to figure out a way to work in a road trip to Scotland and swing by Stonehenge because Joel hasn't seen it, but that's like saying you're going to New York for a wedding, trying to plan a road trip to Maine and want to swing by, like, Erie, PA, but like, an Erie PA with a cool prehistoric pagan stone circle.

I got a call from the New York Post for an interview about pregnant brides, which- alas- I haven't photographed any EXCEPT holy moly, were there a TON of pregnant brides down on at the city clerk's office last week, so at least I could give the reporter a solid lead for someone who actually good weigh in.

I'm doing a workshop presentation about photography for a camera club in New Jersey, where people will ask me questions and want me to, like, teach them stuff. Okay! Why not?

I've also planted a small vegetable garden and spend a couple extra hours every day with my dog. I read that if you sprinkle dog hair around a vegetable garden, rabbits will keep out if they smell a predator. Bella took one for the team and got furminated in the garden, but some critter came and ate my buttercrunch lettuce. They left the broccoli alone though.

Bella has always been one of my most loyal companions, and I'm loving the extra time with her. Yeah, yeah, man's best friend and all that, but seriously, I beat depression with her chin resting on my ankle, wrote my undergraduate thesis with her chin on my foot, drove to Florida with her chin on my leg and started a business with a laptop on one knee and her chin on the other. This dog.... she's just the best. :)

Ollie and Fred are awesome too, in a very cuddly snugglemuffin trip hazard way (Ollie) and a very quirky, oddball, try to dart out of the house and dash under the deck to sniff the house kind of way (Fred.) Seriously, yesterday Fred got out THREE times in a row, all so he could run under the deck and sniff the side of the house. That's what he does. Uh huh. Not making that up. I'd let him be an indoor/outdoor cat except I'm afraid he'll get killed by a coyote, and my vet once told me, "Indoor cats live long lives and eventually have to be put to sleep. Outdoor cats get hit by cars." Plus, I'm not sure how the neighbors would react to my weird-ass cat wandering around, particularly if he sniffs *their* aluminum siding. I mean, it's one thing for Fred to be a house-sniffing weirdo at home, but I think it's a relationship he ought to keep under the deck, so to speak.

But yeah- I caught up on all my scrapbooking and have free time to like, read (OMG! Mennonnite in a Little Black Dress! So funny!) and garden and have lunch with colleagues and hang out at the dog park and see Broadway shows with my parents and take naps with my husband and go out drinking in the city until 4 a.m. and stuff. So yeah- Operation Work Entirely For Myself On My Own Terms is doing well, one month out.

The other night I thanked Joel for believing in me, since we both had moments of panic a month ago about the whole "quit the steady paycheck" thing, and he said, "It's easy to believe in you, honey. You work your ass off." True, but lovely to hear anyway. So yeah. That's how it's been.

How 'bout you? Are you good? How are your pets? Going anywhere fun this summer?

Monday, April 12, 2010

I got bitten by a venomous spider, and all I got was this tetanus shot.

When I was 13, I saw the national tour of the musical "Les Miserables" in Philadelphia and fell so completely in love with the score that I got the original cast recordings and listened to them over and over again. Eventually, I would switch my allegiance to "Phantom of the Opera," but really- nothing would have made me happier than having a chandelier crash into the middle of the French revolution.

My mom tolerated the non-stop musical assault coming from my room, telling me she did the same thing with the first musical she ever saw: "Promises, Promises," on her senior class trip to New York City in 1969. The story of the class trip was always accompanied by anecdotes about her classmates throwing water balloons off the balcony onto pedestrians below and drinking Robitussin to get drunk. Just sayin.'

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine- also named Angela- emailed me about visiting New York and listed all the shows she potentially wanted to see. "Promises, Promises" was on the list. I jumped at the chance and asked if maybe I could bring my mom along? Long story short, plans were re-arranged and tickets re-counted and counted again. My mom wasn't feeling well the last few days and still wanted to come but wasn't feeling up to the drive. So my dad came to and took the remaining ticket and even though we couldn't sit together, we all got to see the show at teh same time.

And it was GREAT. I've never seen Kristin Chenowith perform live before, so that was awesome. Sean Hayes (Jack from Will and Grace) was so funny, but the coolest thing was the give and take of energy between the audience and the cast. The script- or perhaps just Hayes handling of the material- breaks the fourth wall a lot through audience asides. His schtick was a little... well, more than reminiscent of Jack from Will and Grace... but it worked. The more we laughed, the funnier they were. Katie Finneran shines in a supporting role in Act II as Marge MacDougall, and somehow this blog entry started sounding a lot like theater review.

Bottom line: show = good.

Anyway, I haven't even gotten around to the title topic, have I? Yeah, I got bitten by a venomous spider and had to go the emergency room on Thursday. I woke up with a welt on my right arm that eventually swelled to the size of a softball. It was hot to the touch and excruciatingly painful. Any bug bite with its own pulsing alternative energy resource is alarming to say the least. A course of anitbiotics, a tetanus shot, and some Benadryl seem to have done the trick, though my right arm still smarts where I had the shot. I'm still waiting to wake up with rippling muscles, web-slinging capabilities and extra-sensory perception- Peter Parker style. Nothing yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Tempest Fugit- Dayenu!

Time is just FLYING over here. I'm sorry I haven't updated much; I have been crazy busy since leaving the paper. I really didn't expect things to pick up this much this fast, but I am most definitely not complaining. :) Plus, the sun has been shining, and Joel and I are spending a lot of time outside... WORKING ON THE LAWN. I know! Who are we?

Truth be told, it sounds hopelessly suburban of us, but actually, the yard looks like crap. The house sat empty for two years and no one paid much attention to the lawn. We have grubs, apparently, and they've eaten large swaths of grass. The goal is not to make it look like a suburban shrine to carefully cultivated landscaping but rather to make it look... well, like Not Crap. The studio/my office seems to have two modes these days... pristine or hovel of a crazy woman. There's not much in between, but the goal for the front yard is more balanced than that.

Still with the warm weather, longer days, constant flow of freelance work and freedom from the impending doom of the newspaper industry, I feel positively giddy. I'll post photos from Easter later this week, but for now I'll just say that this photo of my sister's dog pretty much sums up my mood right now. Like Jackson, I'm spending a lot of time playing with Bella and there's a new spring in my step.

Joel and I went to Lancaster for Easter, after my first half-hearted attempt at a mini-seder on Friday night. The Shiksa does Passover! I had almost everything all planned out or prepped ahead of time. I was on my way out the door to pick up the shankbone for the seder plate when I got a call for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I rushed back home, got my camera gear, changed out of my "I've Been Working on the Lawn" clothes and told Joel dinner would be an hour later.

I ended up doing "heat an serve brisket" from the fancypants grocery store with the delicious ready-to-eat options (Think Dorothy Lane Market, Wegman's, or Stauffer's on a really good day) I had to substitute romaine lettuce hearts for horseradish for the maror, and I bought the cheaty-cheaterson, pre-washed, pre-grated carrots. The matzah balls came from a jar, but it was a jar of deliciousness. Also, I made ham and eggs for my mother-in-law (who is totally reading this and was very worried that I hadn't updated in nearly three weeks- hi Mom! :) Also, it helps that she likes baked ham served cold and the eggs to order were sunnyside up: easy peasy.

So yes, I ended up cheating on the meat course for my first seder, but Gwen made me feel infinitely better on the phone- "If Angie only warmed up the brisket, and hadn't also provided ham for Joel's mom, it would have been enough. Dayenu!" :) My father-in-law really, really appreciated it, which was nice. Joel's dad's particular commitment Judiasm perplexes me, in a way. He never attends services. He doesn't read Hebrew. He got confused at Hanukkah and thought THAT was the holiday people opened the door for Elijah last year, but he keeps strictly kosher at Passover and always has. When it comes to Middle Eastern politics, Isreal is right. Period. He was very hurt that we didn't get him a Passover card the first year Joel and I were dating, which I didn't really think was, like, A THING. (As I understand it, it isn't for most people generally, but I haven't forgotten since). He insisted Joel and his brother be bar mitzvahed, but didn't care at all that our wedding was a Catholic/Jewish/New Age-y fushion as long as he and Joel's mom got to walk him down the aisle.

Still, on Friday night when we all broke off a piece of the matzah, and he made a little sandwich with the charoset- one thing I did make from scratch- he closed his eyes and said it tasted exactly right and thanked me for evoking a very happy memory. We didn't have haggadahs or do anything formal, but when I asked if we could all just take a moment and remove a drop of wine from our glasses for each of the ten plagues, he said, "I'm with you, kid!"

He did ask if he could say a blessing over the wine, the first Hebrew I've ever heard him recite from memory. When I busted out dessert- Easter cupcakes for me, Lyse, and Joel, and an entire box of jelly rings for Marty, he positively beamed. "You were raised right!" he said, and somewhere both my mom and Gwen's mom (my Jewish mother of the heart) are rippling with pride. Even if the matzah balls came from a jar.