For several years now I have been completely besotted with the idea of working from home. It evokes images of tapping away imperiously on the 15″ Macbook Pro that I don’t own, swigging the chai lattes that I don’t like and barking things like “What’s the endgame?” and “I’ll SEO the shit out of it” into an iPhone 6. I don’t actually have a clue what either of those vague statements mean, besides something to do with Samuel Beckett or a fake skill on my CV. They just sound sort of work-from-homey.
I’ve given it a whirl on the odd day here and there with previous jobs; and ended up either A) forwarding calls to my mobile and going for boozy lunches with my Mum, B) watching Game of Thrones all day in between sporadic 100m sprints to the laptop to hit refresh on webmail, or C) not even pretending and just spending 24 hours glued to the rug in a hungover sludge of fear, misery and regret.
As of recently however, I am officially a Freelance Writer, albeit one without a 15″ Macbook Pro, any tolerance whatsoever for chai lattes or an iPhone 6. This Freelance Writer business looked so much easier from the other side of the fence. It turns out that I’m awesome at procrastination and really shit at working for myself. Instead of trying to get some work done, I wrote a list of obstacles I have slammed into over the past four weeks:
1. I live in Byron Bay and there is both sunshine and a beach. I had crazy ideas of working AT THE BEACH but then someone’s errant child kicked a grain of sand onto my notepad and I thought I’d better quit while I was ahead; or before I started holding toddlers under the water for extended periods of time
2. There is no-one watching me, so I can dredge through Facebook like a rusty fishing trawler all day. I have literally never taken so much interest in my friends lives. Its not just limited to Facebook. I now know everything about everything. I have pretty much read every word on The Internet. And because there’s no-one watching me, I can do it all naked with a flower pot on my head
3. I’m writing academic materials. Yawn. About management. Yawn yawn yawn yawn. I’m sure if I was writing about beer or venomous snakes or awesome books or Ancient Egyptians or haunted houses then I’d be a lot more productive
4. Despite the fact that I’m penning management diplomas as opposed to literary classics, I am suddenly a Hemingway/Williams/Fitzgerald hybrid and generally hit the booze at approximately 10.51am. There’s no-one to tut at me for cracking into my third beer of the day at 11.31, and the management diplomas really flow. “Mix things up! Have a meeting outside!!” I should lay off the grog really, before my ideas get too revolutionary
5. The Dothraki have no word for Willpower. I’m sadly not actually a Dothraki warrior, but I’m more inclined to learn a fictional horse-lord language than to do any actual work. I find it impossible to turn down any invite, whether its to a party, BBQ, waterfall, movie or prison sentence; when the alternative is to get some work done
6. Now that I’m at home all the time, all of the areas of my life that need organising are in my direct eyeline. When organising them means that I can put off working for another three hours at least, they tend to take on a burning sense of urgency. My iTunes could do with a bit of a groom – I’d better cull, reassign and illegally download for the next day and a half. My laundry pile has at least five items languishing in the basket – I’d better hand wash them reverently, wring them out for 20 minutes and then sit and watch them dry. My book collection should really be arranged in height order – time for a two hour reshuffle. I’ve never, ever managed a cartwheel – I should probably check that nothing has changed in that department for the next eight hours – plus an hour to nurse the bruises afterwards. I should put more effort into looking like Brigitte Bardot these days – it makes sense to hog the bathroom mirror for an hour to turn my head into some sort of sultry haystack.
There are downsides. As I’m at home for most of the day, I don’t really see many people. This means that when an unfortunate passerby enters my catchment area, they get a dose of my Cabin Fever induced madness and have to put up with me sweating and gurning and invading their personal space for longer than is strictly necessary.
Also, I am totally broke. The thing with doing no work is that you then don’t get paid; so my bank balance has now entered the point where I can’t physically withdraw cash from an ATM, and its just embarrassing to walk into Westpac to ask for my 71 cents. My phone has been cut off, so I can only get in touch with people when I’m hugging a wifi router; I can no longer afford beer and will have to take to licking frogs in the back garden – and I ran out of food. This could be pretty dire.
Yesterday I took my last $10 note to Aldi, mecca for backpackers, the unemployed, and those in desperate need of a wipe clean mattress protector or an olive tree for $20. I couldn’t afford an olive tree, so went in search of sustenance for under a tenner.
It turns out that Aldi is not as dirt cheap as previously thought – items were around the $3 mark. This would keep me in food for the next 30 minutes, after which time I would suffer a slow and lonely death; although with a non-existent laundry pile and fluency in the Dothraki tongue.
With no other option available to me, I stole 3/4 of my shopping list – strolling casually around the bargain bucket supermarket carrying a kilo of penne pasta and a bunch of bananas; whilst stuffing pesto, coffee and cheese into my beach bag. I did this quite brazenly, so that if questioned, I could claim that my lack of trolley meant that I had to carry cup mushrooms down the front of my knickers.
I paid for my pasta and bananas whilst my beach bag groaned with the weight of contraband tinned pineapple chunks and my clothes bulged in odd places, making me look like a Quasimodo type creature with bolognese-jar shaped deformations. No-one mentioned the fact that a sweet potato was peeking out of my cleavage.
Almost tasting the sweet, sweet air of freedom (although it could have been the grapes I’d hidden in the sides of my cheeks) I hobbled towards the doors praying that an avocado wouldn’t drop out of my pants. As I burst out into the sunlight sans convictions for stealing green beans, I heard my Dad’s words in my head, “if you’re going to steal, steal millions.” It has occurred to me that if I wasn’t going to pay anyway, I should have raided a fancy deli. Aldi – its a gateway supermarket.