Independence Day

July 4th, 2007

fireworks.jpgA woman I’ve known for a long while recently gave me grief because (a) I bought a matchbook-sized cosmetic fixer of a house, (b) I’ve lived here two years and have yet to finish unpacking, paint the walls, and make the place sparkle like a newborn’s freshly wiped ass, and (c) my work is varied (though I believe “chaotic” was the word my acquaintance used), fluctuating from article assignments to book deadlines to one-week editing projects to four-month onsite temp gigs.

I know this woman means well and just has a hard time relating to my way of working/living and my (quasi-obsessive) creative drive, and I know I’m being overly sensitive here, but still. I went back and forth about whether to add this detail, but I think it bears mentioning: The woman in question — who, by the way, is childfree — wouldn’t have a home of her own, a housekeeper, the ability to not work for long stretches of time, and half the amenities in her life if she was not married. (I say this knowing her financial history, not as a judgment of married life.)

Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. I’m not looking to start another careerwoman/stay-at-home-wife-slash-mom smackdown. In fact, if I ever merge households with my sweet beau, I could mayyyyyyyyybe see us trading off supporting each other so we could spend significant chunks of time focusing on our writing or whatever the heck floats out boats. (Maybe. After all these years standing on my own, it’s hard to wrap my brain around being kept or being someone’s sugar mama. But ask me if/when I get there…)

I’m saying this: Sometimes the digs against hard-working single women get really fucking old, know what I mean? And this is hardly the first time my freelance friends and I have been judged for our lack of housekeeper, breadwinning hetero bedwarmer, and predictable 9-to-5 lives. (Want proof? Read this book.)

I’m saying this, too: I’m so freaking proud to be a highly employable — and for the most part, decently paid — bootstrapping babe with multiple job skills/talents that put food on the table and insulate me with four mint-green-aluminum-sided walls. As in, you will neh-ver hear the words, “I just want to marry a rich doctor so I never have to lift a finger again,” seep from my lips. (Sorry, Grandma Etta.) So today I plan to celebrate all the self-made freelance and small-business-owning babes out there. Tonight, ladies, I raise my Roman candles, bottle rockets, and all other figurative TNT implements to you. Rock on, DIY women, rock the fuck on!

And if you need some financial inspiration, here are a couple of nifty resources I found this week:

  • Fab new book! Whether you’re flying solo or shacked up, see On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance. Because, ladies, let’s be real: Financial life does not begin when you start sharing a bed with someone; it begins the second your parents cut you off. If you don’t have a financial clue, there’s no time like the present to get one.
  • Fab web calculators! While researching an article on financing a career change (which I’ll link to once it’s live), I discovered that Kiplinger.com has a bunch of cool tools that can help you figure out such essentials as how long it will take to pay off your credit card debt, how much (if any) mortgage you can afford, how much raising a bundle of joy will run you, if you’re saving enough for retirement, and whether you and your sweetie can afford to jettison one of your jobs so the other can go back to school, write a screenplay, or stay home with that wee bundle of joy.

Entry Filed under: Money honey,The singles table,This freelance life

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jill  |  July 4th, 2007 at 10:30 am

    All I wanna say, is AMEN SISTER. As I sit here, a single woman living in my matchstick-sized loft in downtown Denver, sans housekeeper, Martha-Stewart-style amentities, and paper threatening to take over my desk as I try to meet yet another writing deadline, I feel overwhelmed, yes, but free. What I don’t get is why the smug marrieds ( or smug unmarrieds) can’t resist judging everyone else–especially their single friends. Hmmm. Could it be because it’s not all Ozzie and Harriet, roses, and hot sex in their neck of the woods?? I don’t want to start any single/married takedowns either because it’s not about that; it’s about being freaking supportive and happy for each other and the circumstances we’re living in–which are hopefully chosen with purpose. Live and let live, y’know. Anyway, rock on you cool single chicks out there. I’ll raise a sparkler to all of you tonight! And thanks most of all to Michelle for raising this issue and as always, keeping it brilliantly real.

    P.S. Love those resources, too. Will check them out.

  • 2. naomi  |  July 5th, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    all i would say to your “friend,” is that you’ve been a slovenly pigpen since we lived under our parent’s roof, with a housekeeper! maybe not as messy as i was, but well, you get the picture

  • 3. Rhebe (Michelle's mom)  |  July 5th, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    You go girls! Your “friend” will never get it. Unfortunately the words you write Michelle still need repeating and good for you for doing so.

    I thought in the 70′s, while marching for the “right” to say and live the life I chose as a woman, people would understand in the future. Alas, many of us are still preaching to the women who are trying to follow someone else’s plan. It took me a long time to break with some of the last conventions that held me back also.

    I am so proud of you Michelle, and Naomi too, for marching to your own drummer as well as trying to educate those who are still trying to live up to “other’s” ideas of what life should be.

    Follow your dreams women at any age. It is never to late.

  • 4. Michelle Goodman  |  July 6th, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    for the record, dear sister, *i* used to be the clean one. (!) remember how i’d help you clean your nastyass room after the parents had given you an ultimatum? “first you bring the dirty dishes growing mold under your bed to the kitchen, then you put your stinky clothes in the laundry hamper, then you put your books and games away, etc. etc.” bwaaahaaahaaa!

  • 5. heymarci  |  July 9th, 2007 at 4:34 am

    excellent post, michelle…and great way to link your book to “independence day.’ someone just sent me the book “the art of being a woman alone,” which i’ve yet to crack. but it’s next on the reading list and based on the cover copy alone (and the appealing author website) i’m just about ready to send it to every alone-and-thriving woman i know. i’ll report back once i’m done (or get to it on my blog). but thought you’d want to check it out.

  • 6. Lauren  |  July 10th, 2007 at 6:17 am

    I agree that your “friend” is way out of line, but I don’t think its a married/single issue. I am married and freelancing while my husband works a “regular job.” I don’t have any children yet. My house is not perfect by any means because I spend a great deal of my time at my laptop writing, researching, finding work. Problem is that my inlaws still consider me “between jobs” and tell me constantly that “something will come along.” They don’t think that what I do is work because I don’t go to an office or have a boss or get all my checks from the same company.

    I guess my point is that women can’t win. They stay home and they are soccer moms, berated for choosing family over carreer or they continue working and are chastised for not being “maternal.” I think that the most important thing is that women do what they want. Isn’t that what it was all about in the first place?

    And lastly… if your married friends fall into the “smug marrieds” category, why are you friends with them? Friends are friends, married or otherwise. You should treat eachother as such and just be supportive of one another.

  • 7. Michelle Goodman  |  July 10th, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Lauren, great point re whether it’s a married/not married or freelancing/working 9-5 issue. I think judgments are lobbed over both fences; I’ve certainly experienced both in my life. Without getting into a full-on dissection of the incident that prompted my post, I felt I was getting shit from an acquaintance for my career/lifestyle, not my choice to be single, which I attempted to make clear in the original post. But maybe it wasn’t clear… oh well. For the record, I don’t hang out with any smug marrieds. ;)

    And I do have to say, as I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into this freelancing/writing life, those who don’t “get” my career/worklife and aren’t supportive of it are easing further and further out of my social strata. There simply isn’t the time. Hell, I once dumped a guy who said I had to choose between freelancing and him. EASY CHOICE! Still, every once in a while, it’s curious to see how “the other half” lives, so we do wind up occasionally in the company of those who don’t entirely get us… and sometimes snide comments arise. I consider it all grist for the writing mill.

  • 8. Michelle Goodman  |  July 10th, 2007 at 7:48 am

    One more thing: The reason I harped on the whole “stop giving single women” shit thing in my original post is because the person giving me lip wouldn’t have the luxury to have a perfect house and a life that didn’t involve working for an employer if she did not have the financial support of her spouse. Again, I realize this is not the case for all married people, just this person. Not trying to start a singles/married war.

    But I totally agree with you, Lauren: This isn’t any different than women being damned if they do stay home with the kids or damned if they go to work in an office. Someone will always judge. Maybe we all just need thicker skin? Or to totally shut those people out? Not sure what the answer is. But I think as long as people will be people, we will continue to get our panties in a twist over something insensitive or shallow that someone else says.

  • 9. Lauren  |  July 10th, 2007 at 7:52 am

    Definitely true, Michelle. Judgements come from all sides. It’s sad really. I also have worked at phasing certain people out of the circle because they just don’t understand my life choices. Since I can’t phase out the inlaws I just opt for shrugging it off and changing the subject. It does burst my bubble at times, but there isn’t really much I can do about it. Unless anyone has advice out there for phasing out in-laws… just kidding… sort of ;)

  • 10. Michelle Goodman  |  July 10th, 2007 at 7:55 am

    LOL. Start blogging about them. That should do the trick. ;)

    Hear ya about family woes. I’ve begun teasing them gently about the “when are you going to get a real job?” years. They deny ever saying it, of course.

  • 11. Amy T  |  July 13th, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    This is a tricky topic, huh? I hadn’t seen the thread when I posted my piece on Escape Artist about the support I’ve received from my husband, which makes the timing pretty spooky. (And this is hardly a first–sometimes I think Michelle might scatter her leftover, unwanted brain cells in my own head at the end of the day.) :)

    Anyway, what I want to clarify (hopefully without stirring the pot) is that just because a freelancer is married doesn’t mean she is supported–financially or otherwise. The first time I tried to freelance, I faced a lot of uncertainty and resistance from my husband. This time around, we have played all kind of financial games to keep this freelance endeavor “my” project, and feeling successful. But to an outsider I am getting a fat ride on his paycheck. Marriage is really f*%$ing complicated, and it’s hard for anyone to ever really know what’s going on inside.

    Bottom line: Let’s be freelancers first! That’s why we visit this site in the first place, right?

    This blog is fantastic.

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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