Being a freelance writer is a bit like being trapped in an iron lung.
You may still be hot to trot on the inside, but you are constantly in a state of inertia.
That's because you're always broke.
In the freelance game, it's always feast or famine. Well, these days, mostly it's famine.
As my friend, the musician Mose Scarlet once said about his own business, "you can make a lot of money playing music; too bad you can't make it everyday".
It's easy to say "hey there are lots of free things to do".
Sure, you can walk around your neighborhood or take the dog for a run.
But everything else costs money. If you want to ratch it up a notch, you can take the dog to the dog park, but that requires gas. If you want to get the best exercise of your life, eventually, you'll need new shoes. And sunscreen.
Even sitting in the house costs money. Like that $700 Hydro bill, or the Internet or the phone. Even a hot shower is costing me a King's ransom these days.
So I spend a lot of time looking out the window at my crazy neighbors. The cops were in front of their house twice this week. An ambulance came yesterday.
To the side of us, there is a house that seems to be a Muslim school or cultural centre. We don't know what it is because we've never met the tenants. I don't think anybody lives there. And yet, there is a chorus of minivans and SUVs that congregate in front the house blocking our passage from our driveway. I complained to the City, so they sent a snowplow to make sure there was more room for minivans.
Back to freelancing.
Since New Year's, I've made exactly $150 which I've yet to receive even though I did the work in February. This month was better. I had a piece published in the Ottawa Citizen and I did a radio gig for the CBC, so that means I'm owed, including the $150, a whopping $600.
I used to make money off this blog but I got shut down because my friends clicked on my ads too many times. Occasionally, I get a donation from a supporter of this blog, but mostly I do this as volunteer work. Besides, it's cheaper than therapy.
Fortunately, I'm not the bread winner in the family. If that were so, we'd be eating bread from the Food Bank. Still, I like to contribute to the house's bottom line and so any part of that $600 was intended to pay for the traditional family Easter feast which is taking place today.
As of Thursday, the only things in my mail box were flyers advertising things I cannot buy. As of Thursday, there wasn't a red cent in the bank account.
I felt like a louse.
Or Clark Griswold standing in front of the family with a certificate for the Jelly of the Month Club.
I had failed to delivery on my promise of a luscious Easter feast of turkey and all the trimmings.
There would be no feast unless I asked the family to bring it. Or lend me money, which I'm loathe to do.
Other years, I would have been downing zoomers and swilling vodka.
This year, I found Jesus.
Under my bed late at night.
He started to sing that Bobby McFerrin song.
Don't worry be happy.
I took it to heart.
Instead of panicking Thursday, I got realizing that it didn't matter what I served, be it the leftover spaghetti sauce and frozen bread or the Feast of Stephen. The get-together was about being a family, catching up on stories from my busy bartender son and about plans for Marissa's wedding.
And of course, watching little Skylar menace Gordie, the ailing pug.
So I was feeling a bit better about myself on Good Friday, resigned to my penniless fate. I said my usual prayers to Jesus and thanked him for all of my blessings -- a family, good health, the love of hounds, an affordable gym membership -- and I fell into a wonderful sleep.
And then something marvelous happened.
I got up early and let out the hounds and there, in my mailbox, was a cheque from the CBC for $250, less my union dues.
Impossible, I thought. The mailman came on Thursday, and there was no postal delivery on Good Friday.
What it was, was a freelance miracle. The cheque was cut on Thursday and in my box on Saturday, a day with no postal service.
It was as if my prayers were answered, sent from my mouth via the Jesus conduit to the ears of president of the CBC.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into this.
Perhaps the mailman got his drink on Thursday and failed to deliver his mail so he was coming round on Friday to catch up.
Perhaps my cheque was delivered to the neighbors accidently.
Maybe, it was an Easter miracle.
Devine delivery, as my pastor friend suggested.
Or maybe it was the Easter bunny who has resorted to doling out money instead of chocolate due to the current economic downturn.
Whatever it was, I'm taking it.
Happy Easter everyone.
Never give up hope.
Sometimes hope springs, and the Easter bunny -- or the mailman -- delivers.