freelancing chaos

Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman is a great book. I read it while I was doing my master’s in Belfast. Goldman’s voice is nice-avuncular cynical, kinda like Kurt Vonnegut except he talks about his daughter more.

One of the things he writes about working in Hollywood is that you get fired a lot, at the drop of a hat. I remember when I read that, I was like, sweet. Really. I think it’s great to be changing things up all the time. Instability doesn’t bother me, and really, if you are gonna get fired it’s for the best, right? It hardly does you any good to be working with people who were gonna fire you but didn’t because it wasn’t a nice thing to do.

Haha, so my point is I just got fired from Porter Novelli. My coordinator from the school (Hamer Sharp, school that wasn’t paying me on time) says it’s because Porter is ceasing their contract with us due to internal issues.



My grandma gambles a ton. So did my first boss, an older Japanese lady named Ayako. They both smoked menthols, too. And they have both won pretty big, Ayako on riverboat slots in St Louis and my grandma on a scratch ticket.

I don’t really gamble too much, don’t really have the money for it. I thought about using my 2008 stimulus package to buy 600 one-dollar scratch tickets, but then I went to Miami instead. Twice.

However, I do enjoy gambling when I do it. Like properly, in a casino. I have been twice, to one in Hull, Quebec, and to another in Atlantic City. Hell yeah on both accounts.

And I think my favorite part is losing big. There are several tricks and strategies to gambling, like building yourself a buffer over time with conservative bets, for example. A strategy for enjoying gambling is to look at it as an expense rather than a wager. A weekend in Vegas is going to cost you X in airfare, Y in lodging/food, Z in entertainment, which includes gambling. That way you don’t view your losses as losses and you don’t have any illusions about winning. (Just fantasies.)

So that’s part of this enjoying losing thing. But I take it a little bit further than that I think. Like, of course winning is awesome too, but not likely. So if I am going to lose, it is going to be sweet. Embrace the fact that the source of the entertainment lies in squandering money on games. Piss it away in style.

This, I think, is related to a conclusion I reached in college about debt. It’s kind of liberating to be in debt when you think about it a certain way. Because you don’t actually have to pay it back; you can choose between paying it and the consequences of not paying it. Thinking of it that way, in terms of the consequences, helps you understand the value of the whole undertaking, not just your own part in it. The same goes with gambling. And for me that means me lo disfruto mejor.


I’ve been told I’m being a hypochondriac about this, but I am pretty sure that when women approach 30 they start to lose bone mass. And I have been craving milk like crazy for the past year or so. Last winter is when it started, and I thought it was for sunlight deprivation, lack of vitamin D, but now I have it here too and it’s pretty sunny in Mexico. So I was thinking maybe it’s that my body wants calcium. A lot of calcium.

Today I was IMming with my friend Diana who just had a baby. She was telling me about how fenugreek helps her lactate more, and then later on in the convo she told me she was going to go pump some milk and then have a glass of wine. I didn’t tell her this, but when she said that I got a craving for milk.

I thought about telling her, and I probably would have in person, but I dunno putting it down in writing seemed a bit much. Then I kind of weirded myself out by overthinking it and didn’t end up pouring myself a glass until now. It’s really hitting the spot.

This reminds me of when I worked at the Jharna, an Indian restaurant in Belfast. One busy Saturday night I was bustling through the kitchen into the refrigerator and the cook, Waheed, asked me pretty casually (in his awesome high voice and Bengali accent), “Mary Claire, your mother didn’t breastfeed you, did she?” I was like, dammit, it’s that obvious.

During my Strawberry Quik phase, Winter 2009.

speaking of businesses in homes

Referring to my last post, business-in-the-home is old hat in México of course. My neighbors have a store they run out of a window in their house, for example, basically with conveniences and snacks and micheladas, and you can get a gaffón of water from them.

And restaurants, too, are often adjacent to homes or in people’s courtyards For Christmas Eve dinner in Malinalco my family went to a guy’s mom’s hacienda.

Fernando, the son, doesn’t actually live there and I think his mom is in special care facilities for a health problem. Fernando lives in DF and works in advertising, and I guess he and his teenage sons come down on the weekends to the hacienda, which they have converted into a luxe-ish B&B. Since it is a place designed for visitors to the town, we figured go there for the holiday meal because it would probs be open.

We were the only guests.  It doesn’t seem like it was his plan to open that night, but Fernando of course agreed to serve us dinner when I called to inquire. They apparently normally have a chef, but he had the night off. So Fernando made us steak he had brought down from DF, as well as potato wedges (!) and some varieties of tacos and stuff. He and his kids were cooking and bring the things to us, and hanging out with us, making us drinks, etc.

A couple of months later, a spambot or something got into my yahoo account and sent Viagra email to a lot of my contacts, including Fernando the B&B owner. He responded to it and asked me out to dinner.

paris stuff

I really like Paris a lot. I like French people’s “attitude,” and I like that they are unwilling to do anything badly. It was also kind of awesome that one of the first things I saw after I got off the train at the Gare de l’Est was a gun store.

When I was there I went to this place, FAT Galerie, because Cosmic Neman from Zombie Zombie told me to check out some action from his other band, Herman Dune, that was going on. It was just a free show in a gallery, and super nice. I said my first full sentence in French there, too. I was super self-conscious about not being able to converse and spent a lot of the time trying to be cool about it. Neman and his gf were very hospitable though.

My mom just sent me an article from the New York Times about the trend in Paris that’s going on where people run businesses like spas and restaurants and galleries out of their homes, as if their customers were guests. And I suppose they are.

the world outside of miami

What a dorky title ^^^but it’s the essence of this post, so…

Just to say, it occurred to me yesterday that the world actually does continue functioning outside of Miami when Winter Music Conference is going on. I had forgotten.

It’s weird to think that this whole universe of awesome is happening over there right now yet, still, everything continues whirling around here in D.F. too. Pretty much unaffected.


It’s kind of like when someone you love dies, and in the middle of appreciating what an amazing person he was, suddenly you realize that the infinity you just lost actually exists 6-point-whatever billion-fold worldwide.

Talk about action.

informally working

Not that the work that I am doing is informal. But  in practice everything I do here regarding getting paid is pretty old school. I know what you’re about to say (not that!), but trust me, even if I did have a bank account here, it would still be pretty old school.

Case in point. A lot of my employers pay me in cash and would even if I did have an account. I guess that’s cool. But really I am actually gringa enough (surprise) to prefer NOT to pick up anything in person, be it cash or check or paperwork or whatever, over paying marginally higher tax rates or whatever trouble my employers save through paying me in cash.

Also weird because of questionable bookkeeping. No bank means no 3rd party involved to document anything.

Also weird because it turns out one of my schools, Hamer Sharp owned by Patty Hamer, is apparently having trouble paying me. I had to demand a check from January yesterday, and my coordinator paid me part of it in cash out of her own purse in small bills. Another sum she owed me, from work I did in February, she paid by endorsing another employee’s paycheck over to me. Uh… I guess that explains where my missing check from January went?

I haven’t tried to cash the endorsed check yet. Mind you, my coordinator endorsed it, not the nominee.

Pf. I think Hamer Sharp has PriceWaterhouseCoopers as a client, too. So I am assuming somebody’s getting paid.

I really want out of working with Hamer Sharp– mainly because I don’t work with bullshitters– but I am taking this anecdote as a hint that if I bow out I will lose the wages for the three weeks that would fall between my last day and the previous pay period. In other words, I need to get more fed up in order to actually risk that, I guess.

There’s also my students to think of. No wait, they would completely understand.

P.S. The reason I am posting this is because I have heard of especially the last paycheck bind happening to lots of other people here. Not just foreigners and not just English teachers.