Wordpress

30

I’m not an anxious person, and I’ve always had an OK self-esteem, but in the slow, quiet moments of my 20s I spent absurd amounts of time concerned about my identity. About not knowing who I was. About not knowing enough. About not getting enough done. About wasting time. About being a fraud.

Now that I’m 30 years old, all I worry about is my back. 

The small of it. See, it hurts more than it used to, mostly in the mornings.

But back to the tepid taming of my flaming identity crisis. The trick I’ve learned — and they don’t tell you this until you turn 30 — is to realize that everybody is having an identity crisis. All the time. We’re all faking. We’re all frauds. We’re all failures.

Fake it till you make it, then, isn’t just a saying, but a proverb. 

I see it printed on every bumper sticker, every t-shirt, every smile, every handshake, every campaign hat, every resume, every Facebook post, every blog. Fake it till you make it.

Give yourself a break

(more…)

Advertisements

29

At 29 years old, I’ve discovered the truth.

Everyone is lying to me.

It’s not so much a realization, but a confirmation. The truth is that getting old isn’t all that bad.

Sure, there’s the aches and pains. That much is true. The other night I got off the couch and proceeded to the bed and upon lying, realized that, somewhere along the way, I tweaked a back muscle. Lift, turn, walk, lie and… my back is destroyed? Guess I’m not as spry as I used to be.

And sure. The mind starts to go. I’m more forgetful than I’ve ever been. Words are becoming harder to recall, and I’ve never been a worse speller. This became all too apparent at work the other day when I created a flyer for a football-themed event, misspelling Cincinnati in big, beautiful bold letters.

And okay. I’m taking medication. Dermatology stuff, but still — medication. At the onset I experienced side-effects. Nothing drastic, just irregular doses of dizziness accompanied by brilliant flashes of drowsiness, like some ill-fated celebrity duo tromping down a red carpet determined to prove the world wrong only to wake up six months later in rehab. I lowered the dosage.

And yes. I can no longer fit inside my own clothes. My pants have shrunk like raisins, my shirts like voodoo heads. But it’s not the clothes! It’s me! You see, I didn’t know I could gain weight. But then 29 happened. That magical time in my life when everyone said, “You’ll fill out one day.”

That day is today. (more…)

Launching a Career in Freelance Writing: Leads, Clients and Pay Rates

Like a pack of baby seals conscious of the ever-pervasive and always hungry predator, writers stick together. One question I often hear is, “How can I make money on my writing?”

My answer is usually the same: build a blog, makes business cards, and network until you bleed.

Then I hear: “Shut up — it’s not that simple.”

I say: “Yes. It is.”

Them: “What can I do?”

Kevin: “Whatever they want.”

They say: “What if I’m not qualified?”

Me: “Can you write?”

Them again: “Do pigeons crap in the winter?”

Me: “Weird question, but yes. Then you’re qualified.”

#FreelanceMagic

There are too many obstacles keeping writers from working professionally. The biggest one is insecurity. That’s how it was for me, at least. I had been writing (creatively) since I was 10. Yet, I believed — before I could ever sell my skill — that I needed to be a perfect writer, that I needed to reach some rarefied echelon, some snooty status.

Then I realized: The only way I’d get there is if I started writing. And if I did it all the time.

Then I realized: I didn’t need to be Hemingway to write a business blog. Or advertising copy.

So then: I wrote.

And then I found: Most of my clients couldn’t write a sentence to save their lives. Or they hated the effort it took. Or they just didn’t have the time. Whatever it was, they needed my help for a reason. To them, I was the second coming of Hemingway or (depending on the client) Dr. Seuss. (more…)

Borrowed trouble: My 30 days inside a payday loan office

The cursor blinks and a man hovers over my computer. American flag t-shirt, sleeves off — he coughs into his hands and rubs them together. He’s nervous. On my desk lies his bank statement, three pay stubs and a driver’s license. They are the only items he has in the world.

“You can do $200?” he asks. “All I need is $200.”

“I can do $200,” I say, but I’m falsely distracted: I’m typing — clicks and clacks without regard to timing or rhythm. The store is stuffy today. I’m thinking about going home. Or crawling under my desk, holding my knees and rocking. I’m feeling loansome: i.e., the mental weight from a month’s work of digging irresponsible borrowers under insurmountable debt.

“Yeah,” he says, “that all?”

Sam, who sits next to me, swivels over. She reaches to tap my computer screen, making the monitor shake, her chubby finger with a fat force. Where she taps it reads,

TOTAL LOAN AMOUNT APPROVED: ………………. $750.00

Sam turns her head, smiling at me, nodding, as if to say, “Go ahead, Kevin, you got this. I believe in you.” So I swallow. I have to find my voice again, like a shy 12 year old being forced to sing the National Anthem in front of his friends; it’s in there, but it doesn’t want to come out.

Below my computer screen is a motivational sign:

GOAL: 100% of TLA

Next to the letters is a picture of a steaming coffee cup with a pastry.

The man, waiting, now growing impatient to my silence, stretches. He looks to his right, at the signage hanging on the wall. Big, beautiful green letters,

BE A RESPONSIBLE BORROWER, TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.

“You’re approved for $750,” I say.

He pretends to think about it: “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll take it. All of it.” (more…)

Final Semester Eve: A Terrified Toast to the Known Unknown

I remember finishing high school PE. That final time ever, you know? A 10th grader at Arroyo Grande High School, CA—sitting on a bench in a quiet locker room, closing my locker for the last time, holding my gross (unwashed) blue and gold garments in a bunch, thinking, Wow, this is the last time I’ll ever change back into my regular clothes after a PE course in high school.

Sentimental, I know.

But it was a big deal to me, back then. To be honest, I don’t even know why. I hated PE.

It was gross and awful.

In high school, once you learn the guitar, exercising becomes pointless.

Anyway, there I was. Just sitting there. Staring at my clothes. “Momentous,” I mouthed.

I did the same thing when the last episode of LOST arrived. Before the episode even aired, I became melancholic. Like, “Wow, this is the last time I’ll ever be disappointed by LOST.”

You get the idea.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I start my final undergraduate semester at the University of Rochester. It should be one of those momentous moments, you know. But I don’t think it will be.

Something’s different.

Maybe I’m just getting older and wiser. Or colder. I’m still terrified, certainly. Terrified about everything that’s coming. But ephemeral moments of sadness about things coming to an end. I don’t know. Just not my thing anymore.

Finishing college, for instance, it won’t grab me like other finishing moments have. That’s my prediction, at least. School, to me, is and has been nothing more than an incredible inconvenience. I’ve appreciated the experience, sure, but it’s time to move on. I’m 28, I’m working already, I’m proving myself to the (real) world every single day. (more…)

2014: See You Later, Alligator; 2015: Please Don’t Be a Reptile

The end of the year. How did this happen? One minute, I’m drinking champagne, the next, I’m drinking champagne again. One whole year, gone. Whoosh. Bam.

Throughout the year, it is important to take personal inventories. Did you grow? Did you fail? Will you do better? Writers like Peter Bregman suggest you should do this every day, for 18 minutes. For every other person on the planet, we do this once a year during New Years Eve.

It’s human tradition to procrastinate.

For me, 2014 was an incredible year. It was a hard year, of course. The most challenging year of my life, but worth it.

Here’s what I’ll remember

Growing

Literally. I gained 15 pounds. This is a HUGE deal for me. Up until recently, I’ve been the same weight since high school. I thought my wife was shrinking all my clothes in the laundry. Nope.

I don’t want to be huge or anything, but geez. I just want to be comfortable sitting in a chair.

Travelling

My time in the east coast may be coming to a close, so it made sense to make the most of my location. In 2014, I (i.e., my wife and I) embarked on as many road trips as possible. We also traveled a bit by air, seeing both familiar and new states.

On the road we hit Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Toronto, and almost every inch of New York State. Through the air we hit Texas, Washington, Idaho, and California. (more…)