Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Fortnightly Blog

The speed at which I blog these days, I may as well be sending out a newsletter - by post. Ah, well.

I'm just shy of the six-month mark here in Austin and rather magically everything has become easier. I knew from Taiwan and Shanghai that six months is generally what it takes to get adjusted, and sure enough that proved true again.

I loved Austin from the first time I visited, but figuring out a work situation was stressful. Things aren't perfect, I'm still a freelancer, which means there's always a looming existential worry that the money train will dry up, but I've had a couple good months, and can at least kick that worry somewhat further down the line.

Transitioning back to the U.S. has greatly expanded my empathy for people suffering long-term un- or under-employment. I really didn't have to deal with this that long, but it is depressing and unmooring and is a surefire method of bottoming out your sense of self worth. What am I? and What am I good for? are terrible questions to face when you have no work. When I first moved here, it made me uncomfortable when people asked what I did. Now I say "I'm a freelance writer" with ease, though I usually feel I have to add something about how the pay is crap and some of what I do is bo-ring. 

James and I spend at least a couple nights a week at a local improv theater, The New Movement where we take classes, so we're always hanging out with funny, creative people and that helps Austin feel even more like home. This month we're going to three music shows, we saw a comedian last night, I went to a series of author talks yesterday and next weekend we're taking a sketch writing class from one of the Key and Peele writers. After three years in China, the amount of cultural wealth available here in Austin makes me giddy. 

But just as Austin really starts to become home, we may be giving it up soon. James is applying for jobs and internships. He's made it past the first round at a couple big national firms, one in Boulder, one in Chicago, and he still has quite a few more applications to turn in. We both wish there were more firms here in town, we really wouldn't mind staying.

Also, I finished a draft of my novel. It's terrible, but it's nice to have a whole draft done. At the author talk series I went to, Anthony Marra talked about spending a couple years on a novel he ultimately trashed, and Daniel Alarc√≥n said that he had a whole draft of the novel he was reading from that he threw out and started from scratch, which was a nice reminder that nobody builds Rome in a day, or whatever. 

Happy Easter, y'all!

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