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Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Curse of the First Born

On the Sidewalk
Photo by myself, in Midtown.

Not the best photo I admit, but one that expresses the spirit of a given street corner.

From left to right: a woman with a dog in a bag, a guy on a cell phone, a woman smoking, a guy on a cell phone, a woman either adjusting her baggage or about to eat lunch, and a woman walking by on a cell phone.


It's been a long work week. Mark is fortunate because he's in-between projects. One big project ended and he's been free for a couple weeks.

Perhaps it's because I have what I call 'the curse of the first born'. I could never live the life of a freelancer, which is what Mark does (he's the younger of two in his family.)

A freelancer's life is feast or famine. You're either working yourself to the bone, or you're lollygagging about, waiting for the next thing. I imagine vultures or lions feel the same way, just waiting for the next big meal.

I could never do it. The anxiety would eat me away inside, until I'd become a quivering nervous wreck driving people around me nuts. I need the security, or rather, the sense of security that a regular, grueling job provides.

Mark handles the pressure and on-again, off-again workload very well. Our energy levels reflect this difference - he is high energy, wake up early and go full blast until conking out early, while I am a slow waker upper, who potters on and on until the wee hours.

Many people in creative fields are freelancers who work on one project at a time, or on an as-need basis. Advertising, especially, has a high turnover rate, while architects sit in one spot and stay at offices for long periods of time. Rome wasn't built in a day, right?

Anyhow, freelancers explain why, on any given afternoon, Starbucks and Barnes and Noble are packed. The subways and sidewalks are crowded too, and not just with visitors. It's the freelancing, freewheeling lifestyle of non-first born children that populates the coffee shops and diners and sidewalks and bookstores.

Oh to be an artist in the city. Perhaps in my next life.


The Barber Bunch said...

Oh how I would love to people watch in NYC!!

I think I would have trouble freelancing too. Not knowing if or when the next pay day was coming would scare me to death!( I too and the first born!)


Tammy said...

Have a great long weekend!

Kitty said...

lol, Carolyn. We can commiserate with one another about our birth order.

People-watching can be so entertaining. There is just so much material out there.

Hi Tammy
have lovely weekend too, m'dear!

Spandrel Studios said...

Ah, so *that's* the heart of why I couldn't stand freelancing - the firstborn issue!

While I'd always chalked it up to the isolation, the lack of team atmosphere, which I really thrive on, you're right, the feast or famine aspect of freelancing gave me a nervous twitch. But in my industry, full-time work isn't necessarily any more secure, so it's a comfort knowing I've got freelance-able skills to fall back on.

Kelly said...

Great slice of life shot! I love watching people on the street!

Dana said...

This could easily be a shot of from the streets of downtown San Diego.It's amazing how you can be in different places but things are pretty much the same. I totally agree with you on the security (even if it may a false sense sometimes) of having a steady something. it opens up more space in your head for dreaming :)

Sonia A. Mascaro said...

I like so much urban photo!

Have a nice Sunday!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Well, I freelance these days and mostly I cope OK although sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering if the work will dry up.

I am a first born.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

Kitty said...

Hi Spandrel
lol, it's just my homegrown theory, more for laughs than anything. But I'm with you. Being in a consistent place does wonders. It takes someone who can adjust to or thrives on change.

Thanks Kelly!

Hi Dana
I'm sure this is the modern predicament - cell phones, eating while you walk, and doing just about anything else other than what you're doing at the moment.

Thanks Sonia!

there goes my theory, lol! Congrats for being able to swing that lifestyle. It sounds both precarious and thrilling.

jesslovesnyc said...

I'm a first born too, and I am a writer at a magazine at the moment. I've thought about doing the freelance thing but then I get worried I'll get lazy and not actually hunt down and look for jobs - and I'm not really big on self-motivation. ;) Having a steady job definitely puts me at ease. :)

Andrea said...

Hi Kitty,

I am a first-born like you and I am also the worki in the office - sense of security job type. At the moment. I also dream of the life of a second-born and sitting in cafes creating things :-)