Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crafty Christmas

As I do each year, I've made (or am making - not quite finished yet...) a portion of the gifts I'm giving for Christmas. For Mr. Chick's goddaughter I knit a dress. It's taken me months to finish (because of this work-from-home time suck I've gotten myself into I don't have the same time to knit as before) but it's now done and ready to give. I made it using 100% cotton yarn. The skirt was knit in the round, and the bodice was knit on straight needles in a lattice pattern. It was my first attempt to do such a pattern with knitting, and it turned out pretty well. A few mistakes here and there... oh well - it's what makes it unique.

For my moth
er and sisters I'm making sets of beaded napkin rings by crocheting with wire. This is so simple - ! The hardest part (well, not hard per se, but a royal pain) is stringing on all the tiny seed beads onto the wire before starting. There are seed beads rolling around all over my floor since it's so easy to drop the suckers as you string them. Gah! But using the colored craft wire and coordinating beads makes these napkin rings pretty (it's hard to see the beads on the wire in these pictures because they are so small and blend in with the color of the wire, but they're there, intertwined among all the wire loops and such.) I'm giving them cloth napkins inside the rings, too. And, to top off my "entertaining" theme for the gifts, I'm making each of them a serving set with wire wrapped beads on the handles. It's simple and dresses up any serving piece. Voila! I only have a few more to do and I'm done. I was able to find the various serving sets at places like Marshalls and Tuesday Morning pretty inexpensively. Things like ladles and serving spoons, cake servers and the like. No worries about buying something that will fit - this is one size fits all!

And except for my dad and three little stocking stuffers, my shopping is done. I'll be headed out today - my long day without the kids - to finish it all up. I'm nearly ready for the holiday - yay! Are you? Is anyone else making some of their gifts this year? Please share your creations - I'd love to see them!

On a completely unrelated note, I finished the copywriting project I was hired to do as a freelancer over the weekend. I wasn't supposed to spend more than 2-3 hrs on it, and I was able to complete it in the given time. I was hugely complimented when I learned that my first draft didn't really require any edits at all and was sent to the client pretty much as-is. I think that's fairly unusual, and I felt very good about my efforts in that light. I did a damn fine job, if I do say so myself. I'm not charging enough for my time, however, and in 2008 will be making adjustments to my hourly bill rate. As an independent contractor I have to pay self-employment taxes, which are very high. So I need to up my rates to make this worth the effort. As for my *other* gig, the guy is back from the big event, has bounced a couple of checks to the web design company (the people who hired me separately for the copywriting job) and still owes me nearly $2000. He assures me he'll be able to get me some money by Christmas and was going to be asking for a loan from a family member to see him through this cash crisis, but I have my doubts. If he doesn't pay me what he owes me, when he said he would, then I'm done. I will no longer accumulate hours on his behalf if he can't pay me for my time. Mr. Chick is ready to file suit if the guy doesn't pay up - it can be nice to have a lawyer in the family! I doubt it will come to that, but I'm covered if it does. He has until Friday, my birthday. It would be a very nice birthday for me if I got my money and the check was good. If that happens I'll have to reevaluate continuing my association with him. If I do, I'll need better assurances for timely payment and perhaps a different system of billing - every two weeks? Weekly? And a big long discussion about how many hours I'm willing to work before payment is due. Because this billing monthly and then waiting additional months for the money blows. Hard. Can't keep doing it. Won't. So, that's where things stand on that front. Everybody is now updated.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Since my last post I've had a whole week off from work. The guy I work for has been out of town at this big event causing a majority of the stress, so I've had the time off. It's been very nice and has allowed me to get more into the holiday spirit and prepare for the holiday. I'm feeling better and more grounded as a result, so that's good.

The web design firm I was working with has given me a very big compliment - a freelance gig! They so enjoyed working with me, despite my boss/client, that they've sought me out and asked if I would help them with a copywriting project. Yay! In my line of work (marketing communications, mostly) I've done a fair amount of writing. But I've never officially been a "copywriter", so I'm eager for the opportunity and challenge. And the gig is for a personal friend of the web designers, a philanthropist, so it's an even nicer compliment to me that they would think highly enough of my skills to give me the job. It should only take a few hours of time, but it's a good stepping stone. And they've already told me that they will be sharing with their friend/client who actually did the work (me) and promote me as available for other jobs that might come up. Huzzah! A very good opportunity indeed! It just goes to show that you never know when or where opportunity will strike.....

Now if I could just get past my writers block on my holiday card/letter I would have more confidence in my ability to do this job well!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


So this whole work from home thing? Right now, it SUCKS. I generally like the content of my job, LOVE the flexibility, am even OK with my hourly bill rate. And most of the time, I like the guy I work for.


What I don't like? I don't like waiting 2+ months to get paid. Consistently. For the 2nd time now, I've billed out 2 months worth of hours and am into the 3rd month before I can strong-arm a check from this guy. I'm now in my 5th month, stressed out with our huge event that kicks off TONIGHT, and I've only gotten 2 checks in total. Through September. October and now November are outstanding. And Christmas is right around the corner and I NEED that money.

The other thing I don't like? When he engages a professional company to do a job for us, asks me to manage the project, and then can't pay the people as we go, expecting them to just extend him credit, which they won't, and then he gets pissy and mad and thinks it's THEM, when it's HIM, and I'm in the middle. I'm trying to deliver a kick-ass website for the guy, but when he can't pay for it and yet still expects it, what am I to do? He's pointing fingers at them, they're saying "fuck off, we don't need you. We have clients who will PAY us," and I'm still expected to smooth things over and get the damn website. With no time or money. Like TONIGHT. He made it impossible to do this. Not paying was just one aspect. He also wouldn't allow the web designers (who have done an excellent job, in my opinion) to actually have direct communication with the guy who will be hosting the site. Who bent over backwards for my boss last year, which earned him this loyalty, but who CAN'T act as webmaster because he doesn't code in the language of the new site. Beautiful. What a colossal cluster fuck. So we have radio stations banging down the door demanding the links to the shows they'll be broadcasting, but we don't have them yet because of this mess. We have an excellent web company doing their best for us, but unwilling to extend credit per policy, so I doubt we can finish the job. We have a hosting company trying to help work out the kinks, but in a coding language he doesn't understand. Yeah, I'm stressed. And I blame my boss.

I haven't had time to even THINK about getting ready for the holidays. Again this year I'm making some of the gifts, but I haven't had a lot of time to do so because this job has now sucked up all my available free time. I don't even have the money I was expecting as a result of this job to go buy gifts. I'm wondering why I'm even bothering anymore - it doesn't seem worth it. Except that I take pride in my work and work ethic and can't leave him in a bind. I'm still trying to problem-solve and make it happen by some miracle. But I tell you, it's really not fun right now. And the worst part? I'm expected to be available on a moment's notice at this point, but my "wait by the phone/computer time"? NOT BILLABLE. Well, at least up until now it's been unbillable. I might very well charge him for this time, since I feel like I'm on the clock, even if I'm just waiting around for the next call. I only wonder if I'll actually see the money I'm charging for this time. So far, his track record for getting me paid is crap.

Anyway, that's my vent. I know it's nothing new or unusual for a lot of people out there. And it's a unique time for my boss, too, who is under a lot of pressure and experiencing a huge cash flow problem. I just get annoyed when someone expects other people to behave a certain way, and extend certain courtesies to him on his schedule, but seems unable or unwilling to be cool about it when the same is expected of him. He's all "do as I say, not as I do." You owe me money, pay now! But when he owes someone, it's all wait wait wait. And HE gets pissed when they won't do his bidding on his word. Utterly frustrating. It's like he doesn't seem to understand that people aren't clamoring to work with him at any cost. That the world doesn't, in fact, revolve around him. Big ego. Big ego who is over-extended, tapped out, and taking a bath in business. Why do I work here again?

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