A Letter To My Younger Self

The Power of Words
The Power of Words

I’ve experienced a lot of personal loss and upheaval in the last couple of years. The dust still hasn’t settled, though I keep waiting and hoping.

Huge life changes have a tendency to disconnect you from crap that that doesn’t matter while excavating stuff that’s important. Those things you unwittingly buried long ago in favor of the other demands of life come erupting to the surface, demanding your undivided attention, threatening further erosion of your soul should you refuse to comply.

I’m so there.

Recently, a dear friend of mine who, just like me, has been bitch-slapped by the last couple of years was comparing herself now to who she was in her early 20’s.

Yes, we’re both 40-something. Don’t you know it’s not polite to ask a woman her age?

As she lamented about the lack of balance in her life now versus then, it struck me that while I definitely enjoy the “wisdom” that comes with the life experiences and responsibilities I’ve racked up over the years, I too have most certainly lost something. Sure, there are parts of that innocent 20-something-year-old me that I can and do laugh about. But she also had a certain spark, a kind of effortless magic, if you will, that my older self can no longer seem to conjure.

She’s gone, and I want her back.

So right along with grieving for the people/situations I’ve lost, in many ways, I’m grieving for myself too.

How sad. That’s not how I envisioned living my life! And I don’t think it has to come with the territory of aging.

So, in honor of that younger me which is commanding my attention, I am taking this opportunity to write a letter to her, because maybe, just maybe it will help me recover that soul part that seems to have splintered off somewhere along the way.

Dear Younger Me,

You don’t know this yet, but you’re a magical creature in danger of extinction. Who is going to kill you?

You are.

Please don’t.

Bear with me for a moment while I try to impart some advice to help you circumvent your own death.

You have a constant sense of waiting for your life to begin. Understand that this isn’t yours. Instead, it’s a result of everyone around you, those who pound into your head over and over that in order to be a success, you must go to school, get a degree in something conventional, get a good corporate job with a big corporate paycheck, and that anything not matching this scenario is not success. That you must have something, many things, to show for yourself. That your identity will depend on your title and your role in society rather than the person you are within and the values you hold.

They are wrong. The thing is, you inherently know they’re wrong, but their fears will start to creep under your skin like a hidden mold, always there, even when its spores are dormant.

If I could save you from this one thing, it would change your entire world.

Your life is right now, and trust me on this, it’s more amazing than you can possibly realize. If you could see yourself the way I see you, you’d understand what I mean.

Being an artist is never easy, but art chooses you and not the other way around. And it chose you. Don’t ever try to deny that. And don’t try to escape it out of fear that isn’t even yours. If you do, you’ll end up with a gaping hole inside you that you’ll never be able to fill.

Speaking of escaping, there is a difference between adventure and running away. You are more brave than you know. Sure, you feel scared a lot, but you face your fears to do the things you want to do anyway, and that’s the definition of courage. That, plus your cat-like curiosity, prompts you to do things other people consider reckless and stupid, like selling everything you own and moving across the country without knowing anyone or having a job. But that turned out okay every single time you did it, didn’t it?

So why exactly, over the years, does your fear start to get the best of you?

I ask because if you continue down the path you’re on, your adventuresome spirit will morph into one of continually hiding by running away. Yes, it’s okay to remove yourself from harmful situations in which ultimately, you can never win. It’s even good. But you will keep running and running and running. Who will you be fleeing from? Will it be yourself? Please think about that now before it’s too late.

Sometimes, everything you’re looking for is already right under your nose. Think about that too before it’s too late.

You know this, but you are incredibly intuitive, so much so that it often scares the crap out of you, and you do everything in your power to shut it down. So it’s kind of ironic that someone so intuitive doesn’t trust their own gut, isn’t it?

It’s not that you don’t trust yourself, actually. When you do follow your instincts, you know magic happens. Every time.

It’s really that you worry so much about what everyone else thinks rather than what you feel or what you know without knowing how you know. You second-guess everything your inner world is telling you in favor of bad advice from an outer world. This will get you nowhere. This will bring you nothing but unhappiness. Trust me.

I know you’re in a very body-conscious industry, and it’s hard not to be extra self-critical when everyone else is. But please understand this can become a kind of sickness where you can no longer see clearly, and if you’re not careful, you will begin to sacrifice your own mental and physical health over unrealistic ideals. Also try to understand that these so-called ideals you see around you in various forms of media are merely sales pitches and not reality. Don’t be a victim of marketing. You’re better than that.

Stop worrying so much about what you think being responsible looks like. You’re 20-something years old, and to be quite honest, nobody expects as much from you as you think they do. Try to enjoy this as much as you can, because it won’t last.

Oh, and when faced with what you think are responsibilities and what you think are limited financial resources preventing you from going to visit a sick friend, get over it. You will never regret borrowing money or taking time off and risking a job you don’t care about anyway, but you will always, always regret not being able to say goodbye to a loved one because you were too late.

Please read these words with the love they were written with. Live your life, not anyone else’s, right now.

Love,

Older You

I wish I had a time machine to deliver this to my younger me. I wonder if she would listen?

Picture by Antonio Litterio via Wikimedia Commons

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The Gig Economy, Sweatshop Mentality, Worker Misclassification, and You, Part 1

Ghost Writer
Ghost writer, key word being ghost…

There’s a lot of talk these days about Uber, Lyft, and other companies providing so-called “independent contractors” opportunities for work.

It is being said this is all part of the so-called “new” gig economy.

I have news for you, kids. There is nothing “new” about any of this, as this practice has been going on for years, right under the radar. Yep, sweatshops are alive and well in America, and they’re handling your private health information and other data. Only you don’t know about it because they’re like ghosts, behind the scenes, unseen and unheard.

Welcome to the world of medical (and other types of) transcription, where years ago, hospitals (and other types of entities) decided it would save overhead to outsource their transcription to home-based workers, thereby resulting in increased profits.

Picture this: You are given an audio file dictated by an emergency room physician with a heavy foreign accent and an even heavier patient load. He’s stressed and in a hurry, so he speaks faster than an auctioneer as he loudly shuffles through paper charts and lab tests, all while simultaneously forgetting that the microphone for the recording system is across the room and not nearby.

Your job is to accurately transcribe what he is saying, because after all, it’s only someone’s life in your hands.

No problem, you might be thinking. It’s just typing. How hard can it be?

Let’s start with his accent and probable broken English. I’m not saying all foreign doctors speak English poorly. The truth is, some of the absolute worst dictators I’ve had were born right here in the United States. Some of the most stellar, eloquent dictators I’ve worked with spoke English as a second (or third, or even fourth) language. But they were cognizant and considerate of the fact that a human being was at the other end of their recording, turning their words into a medicolegal document, so they made an extra effort to be clear. For that, I appreciated them to no end.

But usually, that’s not how it goes.

Imagine in this case, you have to struggle with being an interpreter, on top of fighting the constant onslaught of garbled words run together as one and background noise drowning out what is being said.

We haven’t even touched on the fact that medicalese itself is a daunting language. As a medical transcriptionist, you need to not only understand the meanings and usage of such words such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, and pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis, but you also need to spell them correctly.

And despite the difficult dialect muddled by extraneous noise, you, the transcriptionist, had darned well better be able to discern whether the doc is saying “fluocinonide” (a drug for skin conditions) or “flunisolide” (a drug for respiratory conditions).

With the poor recording quality and the accent, they will sound exactly the same. But obviously, there’s a big, big difference that could lead to big, big problems if you’re wrong.

And we haven’t touched on the fact that as a medical transcriptionist, you’re also tasked with being responsible for knowing, and therefore catching, when the rushed doctor mistakenly dictates an incorrect thyroid medication dosage such as Synthroid 25 mg, which should be Synthroid 25 mcg, or starts the report talking about the patient’s left shoulder and incorrectly finishes the report talking about the patient’s right shoulder.

Wow, you might be thinking. For such a wealth of knowledge you have to possess for such an important job, you must get paid really well, right?

Yeah, um, noooo. Not so much.

Did you know you’re paid only for what you produce, on a per-line basis? That’s regardless of whether you’re an employee or an independent contractor, though this post is only discussing the latter. It used to be an industry standard that one line equaled 65 characters, black and white. Unfortunately, a line can be defined in numerous ways these days, none of which benefit the transcriptionist.

With pay rates hovering around an abysmal 7 cents per line and lower, despite your years of experience, to make an hourly wage of just $10.00, you’d need to transcribe 143 lines per hour. And with a constant stream of dictators like the one mentioned in this example, that just isn’t going to happen.

Instead, you’ll end up making way less than minimum wage, and because you’re a contractor, not an employee, you’re not entitled to a guaranteed minimum wage. You have no protection whatsoever. And to top it all off, as an independent contractor, about one-third of your measly earnings will go to paying self-employment taxes.

Woohoo! You’ll have enough left over to buy a Happy Meal!

Now, if you haven’t already run screaming, which you should, know that ultimately, some faceless member of a quality assurance team (QA) will go over your transcript with a fine-toothed comb. They will decide that you perhaps put a comma in the wrong place. Maybe they will claim you didn’t follow account specifics correctly. Very likely, they will fill in a blank you left when you simply couldn’t discern what the hell the doctor was saying, because your ears were bleeding after eight hours of listening to this garbage.

And for those sins, you will be reprimanded, treated like a small child, and quite possibly have some nebulous percentage of your earnings deducted from your paycheck as a penalty.

Don’t get me started on the fact that a lot of this work these days is “editing” transcripts produced by voice wreck recognition programs, at half the going rate for straight transcription. Yep, 3.5 cents per line, folks. Never mind the fact that much of the time, the transcripts produced by these programs are so poor, it is easier to transcribe them from scratch rather than to fix what’s wrong.

Can you say sweatshop, boys and girls? And are we having fun yet?

The point of painting this dismal picture for you is to establish the background for the subject of my next post—worker misclassification. And as this injustice is something I’m feeling fiercely passionate about, there will be several posts in this series. Until then…

photo credit: Ghost Writer (P365-336) via photopin (license)

Remote Viewing 101 – Developing Intuition

Getting the Picture
Getting the picture, or are we?

If I asked you to describe—from memory only—the exact contents and layout of a familiar room in your home, how detailed could you be without cheating?

There are plenty of arguments that our smartphones and other techno toys are making us dumber. I will respectfully defer that topic to others more educated on the matter. But I will venture to say technology is making us less intuitive.

And it doesn’t even have to do with the fact that it seems every commercial for a smartphone, iPad, or other device is accompanied by similar grating, irritating, mind-numbing music.

I’m sorry. Was that my outside voice again? I digress.

My husband and I are avid music fans and attend a lot of concerts when we can. I understand the thrill of taking pictures or even short videos at such events to capture the moment, to create a memory.

But are we really making memories? Especially when the entire concert is watched through the small screen of a cell phone, something I see people do repeatedly at these shows. Why would you pay money for a ticket to a live event only to experience it through a lens other than your own eyes? If you’re going to do that, you might as well sit at home and wait for someone else to post it on YouTube.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to record a moment in time for posterity. In fact, it’s good. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Only it’s worth way, way more than that.

Pictures are the language of the subconscious. The subconscious is the engine of intuition. And intuition is the key to remote viewing.

Welcome to Remote Viewing 101.

So how does one begin to make friends with their subconscious and develop intuition? Well, for starters…

  • Step. Away. From. Your. Gadgets.

Seriously. Your senses pick up an incredible amount of information from all sources around you at any given moment. You are not aware of it all, but your subconscious most definitely is. And the reason you cannot be aware of it is because you have this little thing called an ego that functions as a lifeguard to prevent you from certain drowning due to information overload. It’s like your subconscious is an ocean, your ego is a kiddie pool, and you’re the kid in the pool with the inflatable water wings on.

The ego is not the bad guy, folks.

The ego allows you to survive as a sane human being in this world, in that body of yours, even though you are infinitely more than that meat suit you’re wearing. Smartphones, tablets, [insert gadget name here], etc., can short-circuit your attention span and, therefore, your true sensory capacity. Next time you’re at any kind of event that seems to warrant a selfie, tweet, Facebook post, or otherwise, think twice. Go ahead and take a picture or three, then put the phone away. Open the shutter of all of your senses and capture the experience sans devices.

  • God is in the details. The devil is in the details. Key word here? Details, details, details.

Back to that exercise of describing a room…the more details you are able to pull from your own memory rather than a picture, the more of a link you’re creating between your conscious and subconscious mind. Strengthening that link strengthens your intuition.

When you’re able to accurately re-create an image of a place you know using only your mind and not your eyes, you’ll be far more likely to do the same with a place you’ve never seen. The possibilities just blossom from there.

So practice that.

Quick, without looking, write down every single thing on your kitchen counters. Be specific. Do you have boxes of tea? What flavors and how are they arranged? How many bags of tea are left? What do they smell like? Do you have a bowl of fruit? How many pieces of fruit are there? Are any bruised? How far is the bowl of fruit from the boxes of tea?

You get the point. Be as obnoxiously detailed as possible. See it in your head but also feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it. When you’re finished, compare what you wrote down with the reality of your kitchen. What did you get right? What did you miss? The simple act of paying attention to what you missed trains your conscious mind to be more aware of and receptive to your surroundings, as well as open to communication from the subconscious.

  • Dream big.

The subconscious and intuition speak in dreams. And we all have a personal dream language that is pertinent only to us. But to learn that language, we have to actively participate in our dreaming.

To dream big, start small. If you don’t have good dream recall, or even if you do, a dream journal is your bridge.

Record any and all details of your dreams upon waking, no matter how ridiculous or insignificant they seem. Pay particular attention to your emotions. You’ll find as you do this, your recall will grow exponentially. And that’s when the real fun starts.

But more on that later. This is merely the starting point. Give these things a try, and stay tuned for more on learning how to strengthen your intuition and ultimately perform remote viewing. And remember, I’m still watching you, just not through my smartphone.

photo credit: Getting the picture via photopin  (license)

Introduction to Remote Viewing

Sunrise Haleakala. My head looks like this inside, sometimes...
Sunrise Haleakala. My head looks like this inside, sometimes…

One of my flavors of psycho psychic-ness is this ability I have to remotely view people and places. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always totally comprehend what it is I do. And perhaps “remote viewing” isn’t the most accurate description. But that’s what a family member started calling this disability gift of mine, and it stuck because to me, it fit perfectly.

Basically, when I say remote viewing, what I mean is I can tell you from a distance, sight unseen, where “it hurts” and how to move back into balance so it stops hurting. That means physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

And I can do the same for your home/surroundings.

Many times, I do this by working with the symbolism of archetypes. See what I mean? I never don’t always understand it either. But the people I work with do. Usually, what I see and say makes WAY more sense to them than it does to me, so I just try to go with it.

This ability has expanded of its own accord over the years, though I never realized how much until just recently.

Someone very close to me had some concerns about a certain harmful toxin being present in his dwelling. He asked me to “look in” and see if I could detect anything he should be concerned about.

I didn’t want to play. This person was distressed, big time. The concern he had over the toxin was a symptom of something else going on entirely, and I knew it. I felt like I’d be enabling him to continue projecting around the issue rather than dealing with the real problem.

And I had no intent of doing any such thing.

Except…

I didn’t get a choice.

Later that same evening, I was wasting two hours of my life on a really deplorable Hollywood blockbuster for which I still want my time back. I think because my subconscious brain was irritated and cranky like a tired little kid having a temper tantrum, it decided that was a perfect time to hijack my conscious mind with unsolicited visions.

Thanks a lot!!

In a matter of seconds, I was seeing not the plotless wonder in front of me but the specific layout and the two potential trouble spots present in this person’s house.

Despite the fact that I’ve never set foot in or even seen pictures of the home.

Despite the fact that said home is a world away on the opposite end of the country from me, in a state I have no intentions of ever setting foot in.

This is not like an out-of-body experience. No, no, no. This is like being totally in and aware of your physical body while simultaneously being somewhere else in your head that’s so vivid, it’s also viscerally real.

Or something like that. It’s hard to explain well. I’m sure I’m failing miserably. Sorry.

As usual, I felt kind of nutty, afraid to share what I had seen, especially with how the imagery had arrived.

Unasked for. Unwelcome. Since when did THAT start happening? It used to be I had to focus and concentrate and stuff. I used to need pictures or whatever to tune in.

Boo on spontaneous remote viewing with hijacked brains!

But, given how it did go down, I decided maybe I needed to or was supposed to divulge the information.

This person was, after all, in crisis mode.

So I carefully and nonchalantly inquired about the two areas I found questionable, not trying to raise concern, just trying to clarify what, exactly, I had seen. Because I needed more information.

And what had I seen?

Upon entering the front door, a room directly to the left, all the way to the left. Black. A black mist, so oozing and so cold. Dead. Not bad, necessarily, just certainly not vibrant in any way.

Move to the right, go up the stairs. (Yes, somehow I knew there were stairs. I still have no idea how.) The rightmost corner of the room at the top of the stairs, facing the back of the abode, almost feels like it’s not even in the room but behind a wall, maybe outside and not inside. Ditto on the black cold mist goo stuff.

Here’s where it got very curious. According to this person, these were the only two areas in the entire home that were never, ever used. The room on the left was an extra bathroom, collecting dust as the main bathroom was more functional and convenient.

And the other area? A bedroom closet, empty because some gross stain on the inner wall apparently had him so skeeved, he never did store any of his stuff inside after moving in.

What I saw and felt, combined with his feedback, led me to deduce the black stuff was simply stagnant energy. Perfectly ordinary, nothing to be worried about in the home.

I am not now nor was I ever claiming to be able to detect the presence of the toxin in question. Like I said, I was just looking for something “off.”

But apparently the impressions I relayed were indeed enough to soothe this person out of sheer panick until later on, actual testing could confirm there was no toxic goo present in the home.

Yay for soothed nerves, and yay for science!

My point to this little story? I don’t have one. Well, no, I do, I guess.

My point is, this is just a small example of what can be done with this type of ability. And I know this sounds all woo-woo (sorry about that too), but I think this is a skill anyone can develop. If they wanted to.

Which really, I don’t know why you’d want to develop it, but it seems people do, given some of the questions I get.

I don’t think it’s nearly as hard as it’s made out to be, either. But I could be wrong on that.

Stay tuned for the next part in this series, where we’ll start with some basics to wake up the portion of your brain that does the remote viewing. Until then, I’m watching you.

Just kidding. I only watch when asked.

photo credit:  Sunrise Haleakala via photopin (license)

How to Waste Time and Money in One Easy Step

Answer: Do a study.

San Francisco 1906
San Francisco 1906

My city will be “toast” when the Cascadia subduction zone goes, according to the recent article in The New Yorker that scared the bejesus out of many of us Pacific Northwest residents. The fear I have over the potential event itself is only compounded by the fact that people I love work in the bowels of buildings not built to withstand a bad windstorm let alone an earthquake of that magnitude.

Now, the seismic potential of this region has been known for some time. So why aren’t there better codes and regulations for retrofitting the buildings and bridges that are certain to fail?

In one word, money. Apparently, it costs a lot to be proactive with this stuff. And nobody wants to be the one to cough up the dough to do it.

So when I learned that four west coast universities recently received $5 million of funding for an earthquake “early” warning system, I had to scratch my head.

This reminded me of something.

Oh, yes, anyone remember the laughingstock that was Cover Oregon?

I do.

Cover Oregon, the state’s answer to the health insurance marketplace that never quite got off the ground. To be polite, it failed miserably and left many Oregonians with a bad taste in their collective mouths.

And instead of spending money to, oh, I don’t know, FIX the problem, what did “they” do?

A study.

Yep, they spent more money to figure out why they ran out of money and what went wrong.

They could have just asked me. Because I would have told them to quit wasting resources on the annoying commercials with the wispy-voiced, ukulele-sporting Portlandia look-alikes, singing in hushed tones like they’re afraid of waking a baby.

Cover Oregon
Cover Oregon

Those commercials did nothing more than instill me with the sudden urge to listen to Pantera. Loudly. For hours.

But I digress. That’s just a personal thing. Back to the earthquake scenario…

Essentially, this “early warning” system seems a lot like…a study. I mean no disrespect to the professors and their crew and the incredibly important work they are doing. I really don’t. In fact, I’m happy they got their funding.

I merely fail to see how a few seconds is going to save anybody when the skyscraper they are in flattens like a pancake or the bridge they are stuck in traffic on crumbles into the water below.

The early warning system is a Band-Aid on a festering wound. The leg is still going to need to be amputated.

I know it’s complicated and political and way beyond my comprehension. I know the funding isn’t easy when every entity involved is trying to hand off the responsibility to any department that isn’t their own.

But for crying out loud. Less studying, more DOING. Lives depend on it.

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Right now, my sacroiliac joint is locked tighter than the Cascadia subduction zone. And this is because the stress in my life, like the tension on those tectonic plates, has been building for some time. Usually, my initial response to a lot of chaos and uncertainty is insomnia. Then the insomnia joins its pal, the raging panic attack. Why those are worse at 3:00 in the morning than at any other time, I’ll never understand. And finally, the mental and emotional discomfort becomes physical.

Voila!

Headaches that would kill a small child?

You betcha!

Severe back pain and sciatica?

Check!

But wait, there’s more! Act now and we’ll throw in nausea and digestive woes along with rapid weight loss. Plus, we guarantee that you’ll rebound up to three times your normal weight when you least expect it!

You get the point. Things are a bit rough in my world right now.

Yoga, dance, or puke-in-a-bucket workouts are usually my answer to a clear head. But because those options are not on the menu right now due to this very cranky SI joint, I opted for a simple walk around my neighborhood the other day.

I live in a fairly hilly area, and about a third of the way through my normal route, I realized I might be making my back worse, not better.

Do I turn around and go back home, I wondered? Do I stick it out because it might help, and gosh, the sun just feels so good today? What if something pops and I suddenly can’t walk and have to crawl home?

These questions and more were plaguing my worry-addled brain.

So I asked.

About two car lengths from the corner at which I would have to make a decision on which way to turn, right or left, I offered my query up to the Universe, pleading for some kind of omen or sign, asking for direction on which way I should go.

Since I’m cynical and kind of jaded, I didn’t expect squat, really.

But lo and behold, I got an answer.

Right as I reached the corner, this gal came from out of nowhere, crossing the street with a big silly grin on her face, looking at her cell phone. Before I could utter a polite “hello,” because yes, I do have manners and some social skills, sometimes, she blurts out, “There’s a deer over there.” She turns and points to my right, going on and on about said deer, her enthusiasm and joy enveloping me in a cloud. “It’s so beautiful, I had to get a picture with my phone. You have to go that way and see it.”

Okay then. I’ll go that way and see it, nice stranger girl.

Deer
Lovely deer

She continued on her way. And in mere moments, I was standing and watching, in awe of the grace and calm exuded by the deer who was just trying to grab some lunch.

My path was chosen. I finished my walk feeling much lighter and happier than when I started.

But why can’t it be that simple all the time? Why don’t we get answers so clearly and immediately every time we ask? Because surely that would help me navigate the storm that is currently my life, wouldn’t it? And it’s not like I haven’t been asking.

I mean, am I just not asking the right questions or what?

Did I miss the map to the yellow brick road I’m supposed to be following, and if so, where can I get another copy? Do they sell them on eBay?

I posed these questions to my husband later that day while showing him the pathetic picture my cell phone managed to capture of that deer. Given that he is even more cynical and jaded than I am, his response kind of shocked me.

“I think it is that simple all the time,” he said. “We make it harder than it needs to be. The answers are put right under our nose, but we either don’t recognize them or we complicate them needlessly when we do see them.”

My response to that was, “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?”

Is it that easy? Maybe. In thinking about it, I do suspect there is some action involved here. Dorothy had to be walking down that yellow brick road, not hanging out and doing coffee with Glinda while admiring her new ruby slippers. She had to actively start her journey to find the “wizard,” blisters and all.

Follow the yellow brick road
Follow the yellow brick road

Truly clear answers aren’t handed out on a platter while you remove yourself from your life. And perhaps answers aren’t given when you’re paralyzed by fear into inaction (um, like I am, right now). You have to be taking active steps toward your goals, no matter how scary, and asking your questions along the way.

In the meantime while I figure this out, I can only hope my SI joint unlocks soon and that the Cascadia subduction zone doesn’t. At least, not while any of us are alive to see it.

Does This Job Make Me Look Fat?

You’ve heard the saying if you’re a fan of certain movies (or you just have a really interesting life).

I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

soulcrushingjobWell, for me, I could tell you what I do for a living, but you’d die from boredom before I ever got around to killing you.

When people ask me about my work, the conversation usually goes something like this:

“So where do you work?”

“I work from home.”

“Oh, really?” Their eyes alight with big interest as their heads fill with visions of sitting around in their tighty-whities and Marvin the Martian slippers all day, whilst ingesting copious amounts of bonbons. They want to know how they too can get away with working from home. “So what do you do?”

“I’m a transcriptionist.” At the resultant blank stare, I usually have to qualify this one and explain what being a transcriptionist means, but that’s the part that will bore you to death.

And I don’t want to kill you. Because if you’re bothering to read this, I like and appreciate you already.

Suffice it to say, I’ve been doing this kind of work for a very, very long time. And I’ve realized for a long time now, this particular job is kind of like a favorite pair of jeans that’s been in your closet for far too many years. They were so hot and flattering once, but now they’re shabby, out of style, and just no longer fit properly.

They make you look fat.

There are a number of pros (fits) and cons (fats) to working from home doing transcription.

Fits:

The flexibility of making my own schedule rocks.

The ball-and-chain and I move. A lot. Blindly. The fact that I can hit the ground running as long as I have an internet connection is definitely appreciated.

I love working with language and conducting the research required to do my job well. I’m a geek like that.

Cats are the best office mates.

Catnaps are the best breaks.

Having nobody directly breathing down my neck, requesting TPS reports, or annoying me with their take on the latest winner of [insert whatever reality TV show name you want here] is a big plus. Especially for someone as empathic as me who tends to pick up other people’s goo like my Swiffer collects dust.

I have the shortest commute of anyone I know, and therefore, I save lots of money on gas, car maintenance, and insurance.

Yes, I can work in my PJs when I so desire. And I do. Frequently.

Fats:

With making my own schedule comes the harsh realization that no work means no pay, and every second my hands aren’t on that keyboard is time I am not making any money. Period. This includes not only time off but every snack break, coffee run, trips to the bathroom, etc. Trust me when I say that an eight-hour day at a traditional office type job is much easier and shorter than four to five hours of hands-to-the-keyboard time.

Computer/equipment failure happens, and often at the worst times, financially and otherwise.

When English is the fifth language of the dictator for whom I’m interpreting transcribing, it’s a bit…challenging.

When transcribing for someone who believes it is correct to use “I seen” and “She come” instead of “I saw” and “She came” and that it’s okay to sandwich “like” between every other word, it’s a bit…like, irritating, like, okay?

When the audio I get to work with sounds like it was recorded with the microphone shoved in the armpit of an individual who was locked in an iron casket under water during a tsunami, it is…downright soul sucking.

The more soul-sucking audio I get, the less money I make for my time. I know of no other profession where the harder you work, the less money you make. None.

The more burned out I get from the lack of reasonable compensation, the less time I end up working until my bills catch up with me. This is a vicious cycle that never seems to end.

Most places hire me as an independent contractor (don’t get me started on this industry trend), which means on top of no benefits, holiday pay, sick time, vacation time, or guarantees of work, I have to fork over way too much of my hard-earned money for self-employment taxes. Way. Too. Much.

My cats generally don’t have an appropriate idea of when play time, cuddle time, or hairball time is. At all.

No commute means no excuses for me when everyone else gets to goof off on snow days. Unless my power is out, in which case, I have even bigger problems to deal with.

Working from home can get lonely. Then again, neighbors seem to have no concept that working from home actually entails work. Neither do the door-to-door evangelists who don’t seem to notice my “No Soliciting” sign, despite the goat’s head and upside down pentagram. Sheesh.

These lists are by no means complete, but regardless, I have a pretty good idea that my fats list outweighs the fits.

Therefore, my conclusion is that yes, this job makes me look fat. Well, in every way except for in my wallet, of course.

And my new mission is to figure out how to keep what fits and eliminate the mind-numbing fats while mixing in a dose of creativity and passion. I guess I want more fun, less drudgery. I want to feel more like I have purpose and less like I’m a waste of space.

Is that even possible, or am I asking way too much? We’ll see…