I've talked about this in my newsletter, but lately I've been home more than I have been throughout 2017 and it feels GOOD. I've used the opportunity to truly slow down, reconnect with friends, hang out with my husband, go to the beach a lot and try to solidify my work and work relationships. I'm happy to report that all is well.
After a slow August--though I had a lot of interesting work, not all of it was well paid--I'm hoping to get my income back up to where I'd like it to be for the fall. Freelancing is often feast or famine, but I'm not finding the correlation that more work = more money. Sometimes, it just means more work because it pays shit. So, I'm working on my mix of assignments. Trying to find more recurring work, more interesting work, and easy work that I can fire off quickly and build off of.
And while I can't always control the rhythm, as sometimes clients drop you for no reason or because they, too, have no money or any other number of things, I do feel like I'm controlling my destiny to a certain extent. There's two sides to the same coin: there's a great risk inherent in freelancing. Maybe nobody likes or needs your ideas, which sometimes can be back to back to back to back. Maybe you don't get paid for months. Maybe they've decided to go in another direction or discontinue your column, or maybe your editor left and the new one isn't interested in getting to know you. But the other side of that coin is the strength and freedom that comes from knowing you have the capability and skills to drum up your own work. That you, as your own entity, are a force. That when one door closes, there are, literally, tens of others open if you're persistent and creative enough. That, in a pinch, you know how to offer, sell and market yourself. It's scary but satisfying.
I have also found a nice community of women writers and photographers online and through assignments, press trips and events. Some women who, though I've never met most of them, seem like good, like-minded friends already. They've offered advice, contacts, an ear to talk to and much more. I have a lot of friends in my life, and I would have rolled my eyes hard at having online friends a few years ago. But after freelancing for about a year and a half, this community is invaluable.
Through them I've learned to be open, honest and confident, which I wasn't when I first started out. I've learned that that there will be work for me if I do a good job and make myself useful. There's simply no need to be envious--we all have different stories, perspectives, voices and experiences--so I simply stopped thinking that way. It's the reason I help whomever I can, besides also knowing how it feels to need guidance and have no co-workers or mentors to turn to. Maybe they're struggling with feelings of inadequacy or jealousy, too. If I can help dispel that, show them that we need not be enemies, but co-workers and maybe friends, then I'm happy to try. Learning to be genuinely happy for someone else's successes and confident in my own remains one of the best life lessons I've learned from freelancing, so far.
I am going back to New York for a family wedding next week and then am home for a couple of more weeks before going back to Europe. I'll spend a week in Barcelona researching a story, seeing family and friends, wishing I lived there and finalizing the itinerary for the spring Salt & Wind trips and then heading to Milan to run our first northern Italy tour. November will find me in Tucson for a food-oriented trip and then my first Travel Classics. I am hoping to go to Puebla in December. Then, over New Years, my husband and I are kicking around the idea of driving down the Baja peninsula to Cabo San Lucas. And, just like that, it's 2018. I can't think about it too much or it'll stress me out.
Last week, I went on an afternoon jaunt to Playas de Tijuana, which is the beachfront part of Tijuana that buts right up against the border "fence," We went to check out an art festival, which ended up being a truly half-baked affair. I got a squash blossom huarache out of the whole thing though, so no problem there. Playas is a weird place. It's quite run down and there is an interesting mix of people there. The ocean is as gorgeous as it is on both sides of the border, though, so it softens the town's hard edges. Being near the border fence never feels good to me--it's always imposing and looming--and here it's even weirder as it's where the fence juts out into the ocean, continuing for a few hundred feet.
I get pushback about my comments re: the wall from time to time, most recently from an instagram follower who accused me of not believing in borders without my ever saying so and a latina public relations woman in San Diego who told me all countries all over the world have highly militarized border walls and was offended when I said I didn't think the United States should have one. She then blocked me on all social media accounts and blocked my IP from viewing her website. So, clearly a touchy issue. Not that I care.
Here are some things I recently published:
At Roads & Kingdoms, I wrote a feature about the man trying to save Mexico's heirloom corn. I am really proud of how it came out and it is inspiring me to do more farming-related stories. The more I write, the more I'm drawn to sustainability, sourcing, politics and preservation. I think it's impossible not to be once you get into food.
At Life & Thyme, I wrote about vertical aquaponic farming in Los Angeles. With the right growth and investment, using this technology is completely achievable for families. While a lofty goal, I do think we all need to think harder about growing some of our own food.
For Contract Magazine, a commercial architecture trade rag, I published a story about Michael Graves-designed Aventine's lobby repositioning in San Diego. It was a nice opportunity to learn more about the architectural chops here along with some more technical aspects of design writing.
For Salt & Wind, I wrote about Franciacorta, which is the wine region we visit on our trips. They make sparkling wine in the Champagne style there and the area is right in the middle of the Italian lake district.
And at New Worlder, I profiled my friend Lulu Martinez Ojeda, an Ensenada, Mexico native who after spending 10 years in Bordeaux working for the Lurton family of Chateau Brane Cantenac has returned with their investment to start a Baja-based brand, Bodegas Henri Lurton. I love her story (and her) so much.