Tuesday, August 30, 2016

No vacation for you

If you were to look at my dropbox and the many files added, tweaked, revised and re-revised last week you'd have a hard time telling I was on vacation. But I was.

At least the freelancer's version of a vacation.

One of the perils of my current position is never being able to schedule anything in advance. Because as the world would have it, jobs, assignments, projects, never come up when I'm looking for them. But always come up when I plan to wind it down.

Before my oldest daughter returns to college for her junior year or as I like to call it, "The $110,000 - $135,000 Semester", my wife thought it would be great to rent a little cottage in Newport Beach and just slum around for a few days.

She found this little frumpy flop house, a block from the sand, and we were in walking distance to a bevy of seaside restaurants and little dive bars where 60 year old surfers still wear tank tops and speak in monosyllabic beach slang.


Of course, as luck would have it, I also got a call from an agency that had never called before, so it was not one I could turn down. Or turn over to my many freelance copywriting friends eager to soak up my leftovers.

So while my wife and daughter were tanning on the beach, I was writing commercials.

While my wife and daughter were riding rental bikes between the piers, I was writing commercials.

While my wife and daughter were drinking mojitos made with fresh mint from our garden, I was writing commercials.

Ok, I was drinking mojitos too.

Drinking and writing are natural dance partners. See Hemmingway, see Bukowski, see Hepinstall.

But don't start the pity party just yet.

As any freelancer will tell you, there's something comforting in being booked, especially when you're an aging 44 year old copywriter. And it's sort of nice knowing the vacation you're partially enjoying is paid for in its entirety.

One night, we went to the Crab Cooker, a longstanding Newport Beach institution. There, knowing I was working and had earned a well-deserved reward, I ordered the market price lobster. I'm half Scottish and half Jewish and given to self denial. Meaning, I never order the market price lobster.

But I fought off the guilt and was eagerly looking forward to cracking into that inordinately expensive red shell, digging out the fleshy nectar of the gods and dipping it in high caloric melted butter.

You can imagine my disappointment when the waitress put the plate in front of me and explained how the lobster had been pre-shelled, cooked on a grill and placed on a skewer. It had all the visual appeal of a dirty dish sponge. And was 180 degrees from a Red Lobster TV spot.

OK, now you can start the pity party.

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