Hello, world!

Welcome to my blog: Living on Air Without a Prayer!

My name is Valerie and I’m an unemployed single mom who also happens to be vegetarian and atheist. I live in a rural suburb of Massachusetts, where I waffle between feeling like “I’m not from heyah” (as I often say, in my poor imitation of the Southie accent), and feeling like I can never leave here. I really hate the cold, long, dark (SO

snowfall Oct. 30, 2011

Happy … Fall? Digging out the car the day before Halloween.

DARK!) New England winters, which can be six months long. I write this as the sun sets on the blanket of snow outside from the freak pre-Halloween snowstorm a few days ago. In many New England communities, the first snow day of no school actually occurred on Halloween this year (Oct. 31st). That was a first for me, even after 21 “yeahs of livin’ heyah”.

But too many ties-that-bind keep compelling me to stay here: all my friends who have become family, my son’s friends, my family history in this region, camp, and frankly, I have nowhere else to go at this point. My parents moved away from hometown of Reno, Nevada long ago to a small town in the Southeast. Besides, I have a home, and in this economy (and in my situation), I’m lucky to still own it (knock on wood). So every fall, I pull the blankets up further around my ears and settle in for another long winter. At least I like to ski (whenever I can find a discount ticket.)

Many times people have told me, “You should write a book,” which was very sweet of them. “What a nice person,” I’d think as I ignored them and went back to clicking around the Internet looking for work. I don’t have enough money to live on while I take the time to write a book. Being unemployed does not mean you have oodles of free time. Unemployment generally means you are frantically spending every moment trying to figure out how to live, how to pay your bills with nothing but air, and in my case, without a prayer.

But it was a nice idea: Write a Book. The suggestion comes up sometimes when I get to talking about the things I’m an expert on, like managing to keep your house and car and high credit score despite being broke and pathetic. I’m also the self-professed Queen of Job Loss (present tense), and oh yeah, the Queen of Internet Dating (past tense). “Now you’ll have time to write that book,” said my dear friend when I was laid off Sept. 20th for the eighth time (or more technically, my contract ended). She said this possibly out of desperation to get me off topic when no consolation can be forthcoming. I am a writer, and have made my living (or not) that way for over a decade, so it’s not that far a stretch, even if I was a science & technology journalist.

My biggest problem is that I need a real job and writing a book is no way to make a living. Sure, if you’re Stephen King, you’re rich enough to sequester yourself in your cottage in Maine and just keep cranking out the pages day after day. English professors are given six-month sabbaticals and grants to write their books. Even housewives or “Mr. Moms” might be given the security of a working spouse that enables a stable environment from which to sally forth toward dreams of writing their memoirs. But nobody wants to pay the unemployed single mom to write a book, and anyway, she doesn’t have the time.

However, I might have time to blog every now and then, I thought. I’ve blogged as part of my duties in a salaried position (see my FABULOUS work at www.JAZD.net, if they haven’t removed it yet). And I wouldn’t have to commit to doing it every day–just whenever I had time. I could entertain my friends and family, while building a following for when it’s time to really write that book.

For now, allow me to welcome you to my blog, where I will be henceforth posting PG-13 slices of my pathetic but somehow miraculous existence: Living on Air Without a Prayer. ♦

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23 thoughts on “Hello, world!

  1. Hi Valerie…..you and I are in similar situations. I also am a single mom and woefully underpaid freelancer, trying to keep my head above water as the holidays (and both of my kids birthdays) approach. I actually just started writing a book…lol….and am trying desperately to figure out how to find the time to work on it when I can’t even get to the grocery store before we run out of everything. I have thought about starting a blog myself but I have never blogged and am not sure a) how to go about it; b) whether it will really serve any purpose, for me or anyone else; and c) whether anyone will actually read it. So thank you for yours. I will follow you and see what else you have to say. I’m in Louisville, btw. It’s warmer here, so I have that going for me. I’m from Chicago, though, so I know those cold, dark winters!

    • Tina–from my heart to yours, girl! I dread going through yet another crappy Xmas where I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. But I’m not homeless yet! It didn’t take me long to google around and do a little research of my own on whether to blog first or write a book; which platform to use, whether to host it elsewhere (not yet, but if I ever get enough clicks, I’ll transfer to a host where ads can be run), and whether it would serve any purpose (maybe someday…if I generate a following, a publisher might want the book-to-be. So far, it’s just therapy for me.). I encourage you to hit the blog-o-sphere when you’re ready! Louisville looked like a lovely place when I passed through 20 +years ago. Lots of horses, green fields, and white fences–beautiful!

  2. Nice Val! Congrats on a big step in a new direction…woot!

    “slices of my pathetic but somehow miraculous existence” sounds like a book title!

  3. Hi, Valerie, looking forward to reading more. I’m a fellow Massachusetts-based single mom freelance writer. It’s been a struggle to pay the bills, and will likely get worse next fall when I’m no longer on my ex-husband’s health plan. But….it’s better now than it was a few years ago, so I’m hopeful.

    • Hey Dana! Hope is good!! As far as health coverage, luckily, you’re in Mass where Commonwealth Care (www.mahealthconnector.org) is readily available and reasonably priced. My son and I have been on it since losing Cobra years ago and now it’s one of the advantages of being a freelancer–my health care insurance costs will go UP if I ever get a full-time job with benefits. You may have to switch doctors but you’ll have affordable coverage on a sliding scale. Best of luck and thanks for the nice words!

    • Thank you, Rick! You’re such a good friend to me! I’m a lousy actress–I think it’s YOUR upbeat attitude that rubs off on others! Freecycle I know about and have used with varying levels of success. The coupon site I think I used once long ago and forgot about… so I’m going to get back to that Super-Couponing! See you soon.

  4. Hi Valerie — you can judge by the comments that you’re Not Alone! No kids here, but I’m single and trying to support four horses on an increasingly-meagre freelance income. Two jobs have evaporated in the past two years despite my stellar (if I do say so myself!) work, so like you, I am back to going from niche-market assignment to niche-market assignment, trying to scratch out a living. I have the phone on ‘vibrate’ most days to tune out the calls from the collection agencies. Whee! (On the up side, at least I’m Canadian, so I don’t have to cough up vast amounts of money for health-care insurance. I really feel for American freelancers who have no such safety net.)

    Anyway, if it helps, I’ve followed you, and you might be interested in visiting my own nascent blog (writers MUST have one, apparently) at ridexc.wordpress.com … I just posted a little piece about my personal process of re-invention as a writer. Cheers!

    • Oh Karen, your column is great. I can relate, indeed!! I’m following! Best of luck to you with the New Year’s Resolution (almost time to renew) and getting through another Canadian winter. By the way, what is a Nag Mag, exactly?

      • Nag mag = horse magazine. You’d be surprised how many there are. And I’ve written for them all, but there comes a point where you’re not sure whether you have carved yourself a nice niche, or just painted yourself into a corner. I’m destined to leave some sticky footprints on the way out, I suspect.

  5. Hi Val! You know me from the Atheists meetings (see my email address). I am now in Florida for the winter (which is why I haven’t been at the meetings) and I am actually doing some software consulting.

    I have always admired your cheerfulness and your ability to charge ahead, even through unknown waters. I will be following you here (this is my 60th blog to follow).

    • Hi Bob! Is it that time for you to be FL already? Seems like you just got back. We’ll miss you at the Carl Sagan Day celebration. Thanks for the words of encouragement and for following! That’s a lot of blogs to read. I’ve discovered blogs are a great alternative to frequent trips to the library! 🙂

  6. Hi Val,
    I just read the book “Without a Net” by Michelle Kennedy (picked it up at a library book sale for a quarter!). It chronicles the life of a middle-class mom of three kids who winds up homeless. I found her to be inspirational. If you’d like to borrow it, just let me know.
    – Suzanne

    • Oh yes, I would love to borrow it, thanks! The past few years I’ve been reading my way through the biography section of the local library, reading memoirs of all kinds, which comfort me about the tenacity of people who have been through much worse than I. Some great modern stories of survival in the face of adversity: The Glass Castle, Breaking Night, There are Crocodiles in the Sea, The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Center of Everything. And anything about Henry the Eighth’s six wives is great succor–at least we don’t face political beheadings today!

  7. Love this first post! You definitely have a knack for words. I feel your pain my friend and get it completely… stay strong and keep moving forward. All i can say is ‘Be Ready for the Opportunity’. Just because you are a writer doesn’t mean it stops there… try building on other skills that enhance that skill set. You were starting off great with inDesign, why not dabble in PhotoShop…u dont have to write a novel…what about short stories? Coffee table book? Oh… i just read the ‘Blackberry diaries’. Maybe you can chronicle a story/blog for single momdom… ? Let’s the hungry inspire u! Love & Respect Sandra

  8. I agree with the first person who suggested, ‘you should write a book’. You should indeed. You have excellent communication skill enough to impress us all. Only that matters. While you are pursuing, you will have written and published one! Best wishes.

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