“Free” IS a lark

It’s called “freelancing.” It actually comes from mercenary terms. Those fighters who did not serve any particular lord were “freelances.” They would sell their skills to the highest bidder.

Since the pen is mightier than the sword, it is now up to the poor and starving artists to sell their swords. Pens. Whatever.

I love freelancing. Nothing is better than that feeling of landing a gig and knowing you’ll have one paycheck, at least. Unfortunately, at least in the beginning, almost all of your work is spent looking for work. So you get to spend hours not getting paid… looking for a way to get paid.

My steady gig I’ve been doing for the last couple months finished yesterday, so I’m back on the hunt. If you can put me on a scent, I certainly wouldn’t complain.

My Literary Great

A few days ago, I asked what 5 classics you would recommend based on enjoyability and how much they’ve permeated the culture.

I am not up to my own challenge.

The first challenge was thinking up classics I’ve read and enjoyed. There aren’t many. While I did get to the point that I could read a work and appreciate its value regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it, there aren’t many that I’d say to people: “You simply must read this!”

If you have a great deal of patience and a version with good footnotes, I’d definitely recommend Paradise Lost. I also like most of Shakespeare (Titus Andronicus might top that list) and the dystopian novels like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984.

But the only one I could think of that would definitely make “the list”:

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s wonderfully written and quite different than anything that has been adapted from it. It has an emotional depth and profundity far surpassing any sci-fi rip-off. It’s just all-around awesome. So if you’re looking for a painless way to add a little more culture to your life, go buy a copy of Frankenstein. You can probably find a copy at a used bookstore for a quarter. Painless to read and to buy. What could be better?

Hapless Hens

One of my favorite dinners growing up was chicken and rice, and it’s one I make fairly regularly. Usually, I take the easy route and just use chicken breasts, but my parents usuallly used Cornish hens. A few days ago, I saw Cornish hens on sale so I thought, “Why not?”

They stayed in the freezer until the night before I wanted to cook them. Then, I put them in the fridge to thaw overnight and the next day. Nearly 24 hours later, I pulled them out of the fridge, and… they were not thawed in the least.

That wouldn’t be a problem with chicken breasts, but with Cornish hens, you have to clean out the insides a little before cooking them or they … it’s just kind of gross. So I soak them in water for a little bit, then I pry open the smaller one just a tad. Normally, that would have been enough. I could’ve rinsed it, sprayed in a little butter, and been on my way.

But this was not an empty chicken.

Some sick person had decided to clean out the chicken, put all its insides in a plastic bag, then stick everything back into the chicken. What sadistic pleasure he got from that, I have no idea, but I can’t imagine what use chicken stomachs, livers, hearts, etc. would be to a normal person.

After much running water, prying, tugging, pulling, cursing, crying… everything I could think to do, I finally got the bag out of the smaller chicken. On to the bigger one.

I tackled it with the same tactics: Run some water, pull the bag, twist it a little, tug it, whatever… And the bag tore. So now I have a bloody, slimy, bag of mostly frozen chicken guts that STILL won’t come out of the chicken.

I finally got it out. By cutting it out with an oversized Ginsu knife.

From now on, I’m sticking to the safety of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and family tradition be hanged.

Literary Greats

Pretty often, I’ll come across literary allusions when I read. I’ll generally recognize that they are allusions but not get the full impact because, more often than not, I have not read the work to which the author is alluding.

Sometimes I am ashamed because, you see, my English degree was largely an English literature degree and I have not taken it upon myself to read many of the “great works” of the age. I must admit that is because sometimes, I try to read a “great work” and find myself wondering what on earth someone could get out of that. James Joyce’s Ulysses, for example. Although I almost want to read it simply because the main character is Leopold Bloom, and it makes me wonder why the main character in Mel Brooks’ The Producers is also Leopold Bloom.

Which brings me to my question: If you had to recommend five books to someone, basing your recommendations largely on how much they have permeated the culture, how often you see allusions to them, and whether you liked them, which five would you recommend?

Importance of the Space Bar

It’s not uncommon to read sentences like this:

It’s so great to be apart of this group.

The suffix “a-“, in this case, came from the Latin, where it means “not.” Therefore, “apart” means “not a part.” Ironically, then, to say it’s great to be apart of something means you’re not, in fact a part of it.

When we (teachers, editors, grammar nazis, etc.) insist on the space between the article “a” and the word “part,” we’re not just being sticklers–that space changes the entire meaning of the sentence.

FREEEDOOOOM!

Today is one of those rare days that being a freelancer does, in fact, feel freeing.

Last night, my husband came home with flowers and Krispy Kreme chocolate glazed donut holes. This morning, I still had some left, so I came to the coffeehouse 2 hours before my shift. I’m drinking free coffee, eating my donuts, and ready to work on my project.

Add to that the fact that it’s October and feels like fall, and it’s a great day to be me.

I Work With Crazy People

… and I’m afraid it’s driving me crazy too. After about 1 or 2 this morning, I woke up every half hour or so, and almost every dream I could remember was about work. Ahhh!

One girl I work with thinks the last 8 years (the Bush administration) have been “the worst this country’s ever seen, except maybe when it first started.” As a friend of mine said: “The Red Scare, the Great Depression, racial segregation, starving and beating suffregettes, reconstruction, the Civil War, the oppression of the Indians… These are all really just side notes compared to the Bush administration.”

And there’s the drama. Oh, the drama. It reminds me why I was so glad to have my own office when I was at Randall House. It meant I didn’t have to deal with people. Except when I wanted to. Even the throw-the-computer-out-the-window problems are looking pretty blase–and desirable–compared to this.