Freelance writing is going, but right now I feel like a mouse on an exercise wheel. I’m writing about some things I love, sure, but I’m not cut out for hardcore journalism (sounds dirty!). I’ve never been that into interviewing, and I don’t sit down with blurry eyes and coffee in the morning to read BBC. I usually go for Storychord, dooce, The Diagram.
I’ve been bouncing around some other options in my brain for more lucrative ventures. Living with an engineer is starting to rub off on me I guess, or maybe it’s that he customizes his code in such cool colors that I think, Hey, I can do that. It looks interesting, stimulating and intellectual; let’s give it a try! Ohh, purple keywords, I liiiiike! Are keywords even a thing in codespeak? Who knows. Not I.
This sort of “code crush” coincided with a family member asking me if I could make a website. I’m rocking WordPress, yes, but can I make a website? Can I make it from scratch? Can I figure out how to extract data from an Excel file on the web or even figure out how to link my domain name to my hosting service? Can I? Of course I can! So, as I’m scrunching my face and googling “how to blahblahblah” (and wondering what the hell I should even start with), I say to my smartypants engineer boyfriend, “Um, I don’t even know where to start? I don’t know what to google…”
And he of infinite answers says, “Try AcademicEarth.org. They may have free lectures on web design.” And lo and behold: free lectures on building dynamic websites, from a Harvard professor no less. So it gets real.
After watching one lecture (just under two hours in length), I know much more about the web than I really ever did. But I still can’t make a website. I don’t know that I’ve ever been patient in learning a craft, but I’m fairly certain patience will become my best friend if this website-designing thing is really going to pan out. I realize that I’m lucky to have the time to watch such long, involved lectures, and I also realize that you don’t learn anything unless you really want to. The hardest part will be to stop daydreaming of being a website developer, and to start biting away at all the things I need to learn.
Step one: Find out what these elusive acronym-like names mean. PHP, XML, SQL, Ajax. Brain freeze!
Step two: Eat the elephant.
Okay, universe. I put it out there. Now I must hold myself to it.
My good friend the psychiatrist informed me of a way I could make some extra cash. She gave my information to one of her colleagues that teaches at a medical school in the area. I will not disclose here which school.
Before I know it, I’m asked to be a Standardized Patient for a full body exam. I would be the guinea pig that taught med students how to test reflexes, how to properly palpate the liver, how to feel for glands and other exciting things of that sort. The director told me to wear a bathing suit top and shorts, so the doctor could check for horrible diseases without having to disrupt too much clothing.
To my complete and utter horror, when I walked into the exam room, there was only a bed, a doctor, and a cameraman. Whaaaaaat????
And in my head I’m trying to figure out what on EARTH my friend signed me up for. Don’t porn videos have similar beginnings? Where are all the students? I was ready to be funny and witty in front of a group; I was not ready to have my body parts zoomed-in on and then broadcast to a lecture hall of students.
But I quickly forgot my anxieties when I reminded myself how much money I was racking up per hour. I could do this. I can do anything.
The exam was strange, and I was constantly trying not to look directly into the camera, pick my nose, burp, or embarrass myself to the mysterious people watching me. After a while I completely melted away. As the doctor’s hands were percussing, palpating, I was on a boat feeling wind in my hair. I was lying on my own bed, staring at the ceiling, counting sheep. I was calling upon my deepest meditation powers. I barely heard the doctor address the class, and then me.
“Female patients have breasts. But they also have lungs underneath them. Just ask your patient to move their breasts out of the way.”
And then to me: “Could you please push your breasts to the sides?” Done. “Could you push only your left breast to the left?” Done. Listening, breathing, listening. “Now lift your left breast up.” Done. It’s normal, fondling yourself on camera. After three rounds of “lift up your left breast”, I was the perfect puppet. I knew exactly when he wanted to listen to the underbelly of my boob.
After four hours of poking, prodding, palpating and percussing, we were finished. I had made it through a slightly mortifying yet financially lucrative situation. When they asked if I would come back again two days later for another demonstration, I accepted.
Somewhere in here, there’s a poem. I haven’t found it yet. But the things we English majors do for money never ceases to surprise me.
Does anyone want to pay me to write a poem? Or move my breast to the left? I’m pretty good at both.
In just a few days, I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotions, mostly related to my job(s). The talented group of Hello Metro writers were let go, and oddly enough, I didn’t even receive the email stating that oh-so-sad fact. BURN! My friend and former HM Cleveland writer informed me of our day-bumming news.
I write my editor an email, confirming the news and wondering why I wasn’t included in the first place. Maybe all the writers were let go except me! No, that was not the case. So getting fired is bad enough news for one day, but having to email your editor to ask if you’re fired, worse. Humiliating.
So this past week I’ve been wallowing, sulking, (drinking), rebounding, trying to pump myself up for better opportunities. I’ve also been finishing up my final articles for Hello Miami.
Including Pasha’s Healthy Mediterranean Cuisine, a restaurant I’ve eaten at several times and really like a lot. Clearly I wanted to do what I could to promote their business, even if it’s the last one I’ll get to promote for that particular publication.
As I’m walking up the steps to Pasha’s, I have my camera out and I’m snapping a few pictures. I have a sinking feeling in the tummy, one that says This won’t be the glorious finish you were hoping for.
When I enter the restaurant, it’s lunchtime, and I snap a picture of the inside. I was planning on ordering my favorite dish, too, even though I wasn’t that hungry. But uh-oh. The guy behind the counter in his white hat and white shirt looks unhappy. He’s staring at my camera like it’s a bomb.
I step up the counter and sit my camera down. He’s still afraid of it. “Miss, you cannot take photography in here, it is highly illegal.” (Obviously then I want to tell him he means “photographs” and not “photography”, but I refrain.)
“Sir, I’m doing a restaurant review. I’m taking photos to accompany my article, which is already written and very positive, I might add.” I try to smile when I say this, but it was probably closer to an animal baring its teeth.
“I cannot allow photography. For trade secrets. This is private property.” I’ve heard this before. I even worked at the Gap for a long while, where corporate did not condone photography in our stores. I understand, even though I’m furious. I mean DAMN, it’s my last article! I was fired! Cut me some slack, dude! But I cannot break down in front of this man, will not break down in front of twenty business people eating kebabs and wearing heels and pencil skirts.
“I understand. I will just put in my article that I was not allowed to take pictures.” Lie. I won’t even have the balls to do that. “I’m going to take photos of the outdoor area.”
“No no no. That is private property, too. If you’d like, you can go across the street and take pictures there.”
Play detective? No thank you. I’ll just use the photos I already have. Arrest me? Fine, at least I’ll get fed in prison. I hear they have good food.