Working From Home For Fun and Profit

I'm now a stay-at-home mom to a squealing, pants-pooping little freelance career.
Publish date:
April 2, 2012
working from home, sara benincasa, blogs, existential depression, M

As I said the other week, I'm now a stay-at-home mom to a squealing, pants-pooping little freelance career. Like any other child, it keeps me up at night, doesn't necessarily earn its keep, and is probably going to drive me even more insane than I already am.

After only a few days at this solo gig, I've discovered a few pros and a few cons. In the interest of staying positive, I'm going to focus only on the pros. It is possible that you work-from-home gals (and gents!) out there will relate to some or all of these nutty benefits. It is also possible that the majority of you, who are work-from-an-office types, will look at this and go, "Um, these so-called 'pros' ain't worth it, sugar." And you may not in fact be wrong! Anyway, check it out and see what you think.

PRO: I can sing Barbra Streisand as loud as I want at my home office, and nobody cares.

"Everybody says don't! Everybody says don't! Everybody says don't! It isn't right! DON'T! It isn't niiiiiice!" I shout at the top of my lungs. "…" my co-workers respond, BECAUSE I HAVE NO COWORKERS. This is a great pick-me-up when I'm feeling down, which is about, oh, 75% of the time.

PRO: I can work in my underpants…or a ballgown.

This seems to be the universal pro, as everyone I asked about working at home was pretty jazzed about working in their underthings. Quoth your own Julieanne: "I am the reason why people hate people who work from home. I often work in my pajamas (although I started at LEAST pulling on jeans to feel like a human being and because I actually get embarrassed when the old Latina evangelist ladies come by to try to give me their Jesus pamphlets and I'm like, "Uh, eff off, I don't need religion!" and I'm wearing terrycloth shorts)."

Valerie emailed me, "Occasionally I eat out of the peanut butter jar. In my underwear and a tank top with a towel in my hair." In contrast with Val et Julez, Susan wrote to me to say, " I get dressed for phone interviews. Kind of defeats the purpose of working from home!" And I have to say, I think Susan may be on to something. I notice that on the days when I dress up in ladyclothes (like today's skirt, boots, and deep V neck long-sleeved tee) I am less inclined to want to off myself during a particularly boring assignment. But when I'm in my jammie-jams, the thrill of being nearly nekkid soon wears off and I am left with a hearty dose of self-loathing.

PRO: I make my own schedule.

Here's Julieanne again: "Instead of taking a lunch break, sometimes I will get BACK INTO BED with a book and read for an hour. It's magical but also makes me feel like the worst POS in the history of the world."

I used to have this mysterious idea that I'd get up at 6 a.m. every day and go to a 7 a.m. yoga class, walk down to the river, meditate, go home, clean my house, watch the morning news, work on my novel, work on my XOJane stuff, work on my other freelance work, take a nap, wake up, write more, and go out to dinner with a handsome straight male friend who secretly loves me, but that has yet to materialize.

I'm sure I'll get there, like, next week. In the meantime, I take lunch whenever I want and sometimes I wake up, send in pitches to one of my freelance gigs, take a nap during their editorial meeting, and then wake up again in time to write whatever they assign me. I could probably not do this if I were at their office.

PRO: I can set up an office wherever I want.

Yesterday, I spent all day in my home office in my kitchen. This was a tragic mistake, because it led to my entering a sadness hole with no distractions.

Today, I smartened up, and got my ass out of the house in the morning and to a wifi-enabled coffee shop. I didn't really talk to many folks, but I looked at lots of adults and little babies and the occasional fun dog, and I ate something called an "ugly bar" which involved organic oats and tasted like fun.

Reader Abbi told me that during her stint as a solo writer, she rented an office for three months in order "to stop myself from deciding to tidy the kitchen/go for a run/clean all the things/separate recycling/calling my mother instead of getting down to it."

Jaysus Mary and Joseph, I wish I had her motivation. My stay-at-home distractions include the allure of the couch and the bed, where I am likely to curl into a fetal position and snooze away my worries. I decided to adopt the coffee shop as my office for one reason only: to combat loneliness.

PRO: I can travel.

I recognize that this is adjacent to the previous pro, but I think it deserves a place of its own. One reason I wanted to do the freelance-from-home writer thing was so I could travel to other places, namely Los Angeles, to see my friendly friends and try and obtain additional sources of revenue involving the entertainment-industrial complex.

So today I bought plane tickets for a week of couch-crashing in L.A., because why the eff not? All it means is I'll have to get up at a weirdly early hour, and that'll probably be good for my brain anyway. Plus there will be sunshine, and I'll be done by 3 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., which is the perfect time for a pre-going-out-to-do-L.A.-things nap.

PRO: I save money on foodstuffs.

You know what I did this morning? Ate some goddamned eggs. You know why? Because I was at home, and it was cheaper, and I'm on a budget, and it was easier than schlepping to some takeout joint with my buds like I would if I were at the office.

A few bucks got me the aforementioned ugly bar and an iced green tea to justify my stay at the coffee shop later in the day, and I ate a late lunch of extremely delicious Kashi cereal at home. You know what I'm eating tonight? Scrambled eggs with garlic and onion and probably some peppers and cilantro.

For a woman raised on McDonald's and Boston Market, making my own meals (even if they are all breakfast) is actually a big deal. I know it's pathetic, but it's growth.

PRO: I can run errands.

Pick up an order at the frame shop? Check. Open wide and say "aaaahhh" at the gyno? Done. Send off my tax crap at the UPS Store? You got it, dude.

As for the cons? Ahhh…the cons are many, particularly for an agoraphobe like myself who is inclined to depression. But! Here's to focusing on the positives! Either I'll adjust to this new lifestyle or I'll get a real job, perhaps as a professional gentlemen's dancer or a monkey wrangler. When one door closes, etc.