Posts filed under 'Hitting the road'
Confession: Usually five days in NYC has this nature girl clawing at the subway walls, dying to get back to the mountains and sea. Not this time. I soaked up every minute — and enough pizza and corned beef to last me till winter. In fact, I found myself in some trendy little East Village eatery one night with three other Seattleites who were also on VK and I couldn’t stop thinking, “Why are we not eating deli at this very minute?! WHY, GOD, WHY?!” (Needless to say, I was still starving by the time I was done with my fancy $25 French entree.)
For those of you who don’t know, I’m from the Tri-State Area (BonJoviLand, to be exact), which means I had piles of people to visit in NYC: my dad, my high school friends, my college roomies, a couple pals from my bad old days in NY publishing, and on and on and on. I had a blast seeing high school pals Heth and Jed rock the Union Square subway station. I was tickled to reunite with writerpal Beena, who I met at Hedgebrook, and happy to see Seattle expat Nina (sorely missed in the NW!) in her new Brooklyn hood. I was floored when my freaking prom date showed up at one of my readings. (Dude, where’s my corsage?) And I’m ever grateful for all the people who rallied to see me read at the supercool Bluestockings on the Lower East Side and BookCourt in Brooklyn, which made for a fab last chapter of my book tour.
Another highlight of the Big Apple was meeting so many email buddies — from fellow Single Staters Judy McGuire, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and Susan Shapiro to Anti 9-to-5 Guide interviewees Janet Rosen and Heather Swain. I also loved that I could just email a magazine editor I write for (or hope to write for) or an agent recommended to me by a friend and set up a coffee date, literally in a New York minute. I left the city thinking, “Damn, 3000 miles isn’t soooo far… I need to get out of my house more often… I need to come back here twice a year… Must keep a toe in the NY publishing pool…”
What about you? If you’re a freelancer who does a decent chunk of business in another time zone, do you travel periodically to score some face time with your clients and contacts? Does it boost your business when your contacts suddenly see your bright smiling face rather than just your email handle? Inquiring minds wanna know.
May 19th, 2007
Despite harboring a nasty flu and being in such close proximity to our nation’s so-called leader, I had a great time in the District. I visited my sis and bro-in-law and their crazy mutts, all recently relocated to DC from Seattle. And once I came down from my Jewish deli high, I was all about the fresh tacos at the pupuserias in Mt. Pleasant.
In bookland, I finally got to meet the dynamic (roommate) duo Julie Yoder, who set up my kickass Warehouse event,* and Kimberly Burge, who wrote this great piece about The Anti 9-to-5 Guide in Baltimore’s CityPaper. I broke fortune cookies with fellow anti-nine-to-fiver Lynn Thorne, who interviewed me for the Washington Post’s Express earlier this year. And I did a reading-slash-Q&A in John Waters’ hometown, at the ultracool Atomic Pop. There I met the fabulous Abigail Grotke and the women of Fell’s Point Ghost Tours, featured in the book. I also realized that even if just a handful of people show up to a reading, the world won’t slip off its axis and I won’t implode.
*Special thanks to Danomi for selling books. And for providing the tissues and Ibuprofin.
May 19th, 2007
Evidently you can come home from Vancouver, BC, so replenished and relaxed that you forget to blog. Now that I’m plugged in again, I’d like to report on the trip. Two things made this jaunt oh so much easier than my Cally trip: I had my badass new laptop and zippy Internet access at my hotel, and I stayed downtown, where I could walk to every meeting, event, and media spot. So much better than driving all over creation.
I love a city where you can get your ocean, mountain, and sushi fix at almost every dang turn. While there, I took in the swans at Stanley Park, the conveyer belt sushi at Tsunami, and the shimmering English Bay. Some other highlights:
- Chowing down with fellow Seal Press authors Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears of Boss Lady. (Their book is due out in 2008.)
- Watching the Vancouver Canucks (yeah, people — hockey) win in double-overtime in a sports bar with reader and blogger Laura. (Hi, Laura’s mom.)
- Soaking up the one day of sun with life coach Candice Bowles, on the swings in Stanley Park.
- Meeting the fabulous, hilarious owners of Sophia Books (they carry this highly entertaining book, which I had to buy), where I had my first Canadian reading, and where fellow Seal Press author Ariel Meadow Stallings has a reading-slash-offbeat-bridal-fashion-show this Friday night (May 4).
- Speaking to a crowd of 75 or more hopeful cubicle expats at the Vancouver Public Library, thanks to co-sponsor Banyen Books.
Then there was the media blitz. I did these four live shows in 48 hours. Web clip for the CBC spot.
Happy to be home, but not for long. DC, Baltimore, and NY beckon.
May 3rd, 2007
Found a new site that has some excellent resources for women looking to work far, far away: Expat Women. Especially useful: the forums. Especially juicy: the real-life confessions on topics like trailing partners and cheating spouses.
April 19th, 2007
I’m back from my week in the Bay Area. The trip was both hectic and lovely. I’d forgotten that there are places in the world where you can go a week without seeing rain. I caught up with old friends, ate a lot of burritos (in Seattle, the choices are limited to Taco Bell and Taco Del Mar), and stared at Mt. Tam a lot, which was in plain view from the Marin cottage I stayed in, courtesy of my friend Marcy, who was out of town herself. Some trip highlights:
Events: People came. Turnouts were good. I managed to elicit a couple chuckles from the crowd. And sell a few books. All in all, things went well. And Habitat Books and Borders sure know how to make a writergirl feel special. For that, I am very grateful.
Media: I did several radio and TV spots while in town, including a location shoot for the ABC afternoon show “View from the Bay” (sandwiched between “GH” and “Oprah”). Also included in the segment is freelance-pal-turned-mompreneur Deirdre Greene, who now runs the publishing company Roaring Forties Press. We did the interview at Deirdre’s house to show off her nifty home office. I’ll letcha know when that spot airs — it should be fun.
Meanwhile, check me out on the Morning Show on KPFA radio, with Elaine Lee, author of Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure, mentioned in my book. We were interviewed together about alternative career paths, especially self-employment and travel gigs. (Note: The interview’s at 8:30 a.m., though the show starts at 7.) And here’s a morning news spot I did on KRON 4 TV the Saturday before Easter; I think I could have used another cup of coffee — oops. More than anything, I’m sorry they cut out the anchors singing Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five” at the top of the spot — complete with jazz hands!
Meetups: Met Jill Rothenberg, my book’s fabulous editor who’s no longer at Seal Press, and camped out at the offices of Urban Moto magazine with her (she freelances for them) so I could steal some wireless time. Visited the Seal Press crew, too. Saw my friend Jeff Perlstein, who runs Media Alliance. And spent some time with these fabulous authors/bloggers/webmistresses you should know about:
Biggest lesson learned: Not being wired is a drag. It was crazy (OK, dumb) to think I wouldn’t need high-speed Internet access 24-7 while trying to coordinate interview plans with my publisher and various media producers. Happily, I already checked with the east coast pals I’ll be staying with in May and they all have wireless. Phew.
April 10th, 2007
After living in Mongolia for a year, attorney Lisa Herb went part time so she could found the Alliance for International Women’s Rights, a nonprofit organization that assists women’s rights groups in Central Asia. Since 2005, the Alliance has grown to 50+ volunteers serving women in Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan. Lisa — who’s featured in The Anti 9-to-5 Guide — lives in New York, telecommutes to her Seattle law firm job, and often travels to the far corners of Central Asia for her nonprofit gig.
Why I started a nonprofit from scratch: I saw that there was a true need for volunteer support in Mongolia, and I knew based on my telecommuting experiences that much work could be done over the internet and email from halfway around the world. When I started seeking employment in the nonprofit sector after coming back to the U.S., I quickly realized that if I wanted to do meaningful nonprofit work in a field that interested me, I would have to create my own nonprofit. So I did.
How I did it: I began the Alliance by using my savings and my current earnings from being a part-time attorney. I took a significant pay cut (by more than half) when I walked away from being a law partner, but luckily my life was intentionally streamlined before making the transition — no debt and no mortgage payments. The Alliance started with only four volunteers working short-term positions in one country (Mongolia), on one type of project, and at just one women’s rights organization.
Why I willingly sliced my paycheck in half: I never felt like I was being true to myself by working entirely in a for-profit environment. I wanted to do something that had the possibility of making the world a slightly better place, and that was more important to me than the potential to gain personal wealth. Founding and running the Alliance has given me the ability to feel like I am being truer to myself — although the longer I run the Alliance, the more I realize just how modest its impact is in light of the work that must be done.
My top money-saving tips: I designed the Alliance so that it required very little money in the first few years. Because I donate my time as well as the office space and equipment by working from a home office, there have been very few startup costs. Our in-country volunteers fund their own travel costs, and our remote volunteers use their own computers and internet service. We use Skype (a free computer-to-computer phone and instant messaging service) for our international phone calls and communications with our partner organizations in Central Asia. Therefore, our initial funding needs have been minimal and I’ve been able to operate the Alliance during this first year and a half on less than $5,000 a year.
My next move: There is a tremendous interest among Americans in long-distance volunteering, so we hope to really focus on growing our Armchair Volunteer Program and to make it run more effectively by helping our partner organizations take more advantage of our volunteers. To make sure that the Alliance is sustainable and has enough capacity to grow, we also hope to raise enough funds to hire several people and to support others with insurance, travel, and office supplies.
What’s that link again? Alliance for International Women’s Rights, where volunteers are always welcome.
[posted by Traci Macnamara]
February 6th, 2007
Actually American teens, boomers, and seniors are, according to today’s Christian Science Monitor, which ran an article called “Why volunteerism has reached historic high in US.”
It’s encouraging to see that 29 percent of Americans are lending a hand these days, no doubt driven by the realization that there’s more to life than staff meetings and stock options. Check out these excerpts:
…companies, including CVS, Best Buy, and The Home Depot, are giving employees time to volunteer and are rewarded with more productivity and higher retention rates…
“Americans want something more than a 9-to-5 job,” says Annmarie Emmet of Washington, who joined the Peace Corps at age 71. A retired government banker who never married, Ms. Emmet began volunteering at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall 18 years ago. In 2002, she journeyed to the African nation of Lesotho, where she spent two years helping those affected by the AIDS crisis. Her reason for volunteering is simple: She enjoys helping people.
“So many people sit in front of a computer in an office, and I feel sorry for them,” Emmet says. “I think so many people go to real 9-to-5-type jobs and don’t find a lot of reward in it, and I think maybe being able to help someone or maybe being able to offer something that is not expected, that can make people feel good.”
Yeah, but this woman is retired. I do wish the article had focused a bit more on recent grads who’ve just entered the workforce and want to do something other than park their rear in the cube for the next several decades but also need to make a living. Because merging service and commerce can be done, by starting your own social enterprise, doing paid work overseas, taking a volunteer vacation, etc.
You don’t have to look far to find younger women blending service work with a paycheck in the US and abroad. Sites like The REAL Hot 100 and There’s More to Life Than Shoes are filled with ‘em. And I interviewed many women for the book who have made a full-time or side career out of helping others, on just about every continent, too. If you have the book, check out chapters 7 and 8, on work that helps people and/or feeds your wanderlust.
January 30th, 2007
Rather than break from all the holiday hoopla to rant about the wage gap, opt-out myth, or maternal profiling, I thought you’d enjoy this winter wonderland tidbit. Evidently in Colorado, teaching women to ski and board is a snowballing industry.*
This Rocky Mountain News article lists some of the women-owned, women-centric skiing, snowboarding, and backcountry clinics in the state. And if you check out the Babes in the Backcountry website, you’ll see that at least one of these companies has expanded into other locales, seasons, and sports. Yeehaw.
*Paging Jill Rothenberg: This post is dedicated to you.
December 27th, 2006
Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Anti-Nine-to-Fiver’s Holiday Gift Guide.* In this Extreme Procrastination Edition, we focus on prezzies for expats, road trippers, and globetrotters.
(Since the jetsetters in your life are probably three continents away at this very moment and can only receive their mail by donkey every four to six weeks, they will have no idea that you purchased their gifts post-holiday season.)
OK, on with the recommendations:
Travel wallet. Keep cash and travel docs secure in one of these nifty stash belts from REI.
Hydration pack. For longer hikes, carrying your water on your back is the way to go. Besides, you can’t honestly tell me you’ve never fantasized about drinking out of one of those water bottles for pet gerbils. (I’m not the only one, am I? Am I?)
Hand repair creme. Whether she’s trekking through Nepal, putting out wildfires in the States, or picking grapes in some idyllic French countryside, chances are her hands could use a little love. Burt’s Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Creme gets the job done.
The ultimate guide to my neck of the woods. Headed to the Pacific Northwest in 2007? Seattle journalist Sally Farhat tells travelers where to go and what to do in the latest edition of Best Places Northwest.
Danger bag. This messenger bag isn’t recommended for airline travel (click the link to see why), but it’s infinitely cool for traipsing around one’s hometown.
*Thanks to my trusty assistant Traci, far lovelier than Vanna White could ever hope to be, for all her help with these gift guides.
December 26th, 2006
While all of you have been scurrying around buying holiday presents, the elves over here in anti 9-to-5 land have been hard at work on a new feature for this site. Starting, well, now, this site will begin running profiles of the many fabulous cubicle expats who were nice enough to share their experiences and ideas for The Anti 9-to-5 Guide.
Since my pal Traci Macnamara kindly offered to round up the first batch of anti 9-to-5 profiles, it only seems fitting that she should take the first turn. Besides, she just launched her travel blog Monday, so the timing couldn’t be more right. So without further adieu, meet Traci, globetrotter extraordinaire, who’s currently working in Antarctica, radioing scientists in remote field camps on a daily basis to make sure they’re alive and fully stocked with supplies.
My story: A year after I graduated from college and began working in the real world, I knew that office life wasn’t for me. I am currently working for the third time as a contract employee in communications at McMurdo Station, Antarctica’s largest station for scientific research and exploration.
The perks: The sun never sets during the summer, and the climate resembles a mild Colorado winter, so it is enjoyable here and stunningly beautiful — allowing things like skate skiing on the McMurdo Ice Shelf with a view of the impressive Royal Society Range in the distance.
The downside: Sure, doing contract work in Antarctica is an amazing experience, but there are drawbacks to the contract-job life, too: geographic instability, financial insecurity, and spotty benefits, to name a few. For instance, I know that I will have work during the five-month contract, but when my contract ends, I have to find my own health insurance and make darned sure my money lasts.
Dealing with health insurance: After a third season of contract work, I’ve learned to prepare for its challenges by saving money while working to pay for post-contract health insurance. It’s not as hard as most people believe, and sites like this make staying covered between contract jobs a cinch. Options include catastrophic coverage, premium coverage, overseas coverage, insurance cards sent by PDF, and so on. When I broke my ankle in France, I had insurance I’d purchased online and was able to submit receipts to the provider in both Euros and U.S. dollars. Plus, the customer service rocked.
More on managing money: While on contract, I also try to focus on saving money that I will need for travel and short-term residence hunting. The idea is to enter a contract job with zero debt and then to save while you work (often easier said than done). Before starting contract work in a remote area, I would also suggest setting up all your bank and credit accounts online. Many creditors will allow you to set up online bill paying as well, which can help you stay on top of your finances whenever you have access to the Internet. And it is also a good idea to designate a trusted family member or friend as your power of attorney (I use my mom). That way, they can help you with financial transactions and other tasks you specify. See this site for state-specific details.
The ultimate flex gig: Besides allowing me to live and work in Antarctica, contract work has given me the flexibility to do the other things that I love: reading, writing, and running around outdoors between jobs. In the past three years, I’ve lived eighteen months in Antarctica, nine in England, five in France, and the other months in various U.S. locations. Not too shabby.
You, too, can work at McMurdo: Think you might like to give Antarctica a try? Denver-based Raytheon Polar Services Company hires contract workers — from dishwashers to equipment operators — for the U.S. Antarctic Program and has an annual job fair in April. If you go, try to make personal contact with those doing the hiring, and follow up with a phone call or e-mail. Who knows? I just might see you out here next year.
What’s that link again? Down and Out, Traci’s Antarctica blog.
December 13th, 2006