The coronavirus means business as usual for me, and that’s weird

It sounds a little absurd, but my life has literally not changed in the wake of closed schools, shuttered businesses, and social distancing following the spread of the novel coronavirus. As a freelance writer working for a major online publisher, it’s business as usual. I already worked from home and am well-practiced in social distancing (or, as I previously called it, being an introvert).

This has made me acutely aware of a certain privilege I have. Unlike many people who find themselves working reduced hours or being laid off completely, my job is not at risk (yet, anyway). In fact, the more people stay home, the more time they spend on the internet — a good thing for an online media business.

I also don’t have children — I don’t even have pets — which means I have no additional obstruction to getting my work done. (Yes, I know, I’m also missing out on the joys of parenthood). Many of my friends are single parents, and with Oregon schools closed until at least April 28, even those who can work from home are going to struggle to be productive as they balance work with caring for their children full time. (Of course, I also don’t have a good excuse for getting out of work, yet here I am writing a personal blog rather than working on an a story for the company that pays my bills).

Then there is the privilege of location, and I don’t just mean living in a developed country with (hopefully, maybe) access to good healthcare (sometimes, if you can afford it, if we #flattenthecurve). I live in a somewhat rural area, away from the crowds but not so far from civilization that I don’t have easy access to, well, everything. There is a hiking trail right across the street from my apartment. I can get outside, enjoy the sun, go for a walk, and potentially still not see another person. I’m a little bummed about not being able to hang out at a bar or coffee shop — locations where I tend to be more productive than when I work from home — but that is such an incredibly minor sacrifice that it doesn’t bear mentioning. But I already mentioned it, so…

Even as it feels like business as usual for me, I feel conflicted about wanting to get back to business as usual for the rest of the world. Gosh, that sounds horrendously selfish. Obviously, I want people to be able to work, to be able to care for themselves and their families, and even to go to escape rooms or whatever it is social people do. But the skies have cleared in China. The waters have cleared in Venice.

From an outside perspective, it’s impossible to not see the positive effects brought on by this global change in behavior. But China and Italy have been hit hard by the coronavirus, and if you lost a loved one to it, cleaner air or water is of little respite.

Yet this shows that we do have the power to make a positive effect on the environment when we come together. And this, too, can save lives. Ambient air pollution causes more than 4 million deaths per year, according to WHO. Yet we’ve never treated it like a pandemic; we’ve never changed behavior on a global scale to combat it. This is to say nothing of the looming threat of climate change.

I don’t say this to diminish the weight of the coronavirus. It, too, could cause millions of death in the U.S. alone if we don’t take drastic steps to limit its spread. But recent events have proven that despite everything — the enormity of the human population, the divisive political era we find ourselves in — we can still come together for the benefit of all.

And if we can do it to face the coronavirus, we can do it for other threats. Many people have said this recently, but I’ll say it again: We’re in this together. Let’s not forget that once we make it to the other side of this particularly dark tunnel.

2018 by the numbers

On the whole, last year didn’t seem overly positive, but there were several very big spikes in the excitement graph, like my first time traveling out of the country in a decade and a couple cool press trips. Here are some of the numbers.

  • 102-ish articles published in total
  • 36 product reviews/impressions published
  • 15 nerdy YouTube videos produced
  • 10 pounds inexplicably, but with appreciation, lost
  • 5 countries visited
  • 4 video documentaries produced for my artist series
  • 2 bad colds endured (OK, technically one started on Jan 1, 2019)
  • 1 absolutely delicious vegan shepherd’s pie baked and consumed in one sitting
  • Net 0 Instagram followers gained

For 2019, I would like to write a play and start a video game company. Nbd.

2017 in review, sort of

Last year, I talked about all the words I wrote in 2016 for my year in review. I also mentioned wanting to finish my book. Well, for 2017 I have no idea how many words I wrote. It took too much extra time to keep track of them, so I stopped.

As for writing the book, well, that didn’t happen, either.

I don’t feel qualified to speak about the practice of writing fiction because I have never finished a book (although, I have started many — most when I was much younger). Still, I feel confident saying one thing about my approach: Continue reading

2016 in review: Words by the numbers

Since June 2016, I wrote and published 146,067 words across 286 articles for four clients (not counting my personal work). I have no idea how this compares to the industry average, but if you had told me in May that I would write the equivalent of a couple of books’ worth of words in the second half of 2016, I would have laughed at you. (Like, I don’t even read books that quickly. Also, why didn’t I just write a book?)

I still feel like I’m faking it, not sure when I’ll really make it. I constantly need to remind myself that I get to write for a living, which is pretty dang cool, even if it comes with a host financial challenges. 2016 was a difficult year for numerous reasons and staying focused on the positive wasn’t always easy. I’m thankful that I have a supportive family and strong network of friends. (Even if I don’t really talk to y’all that much, know that I appreciate you. I’m just very introverted, so a little goes a long way.)

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but if I did, I’d say my job for 2017 is to better appreciate what I have. And to write a book. And to see Pinback in concert. Twice. February 6 and 7, Doug Fir, be there.

The power of a portrait: bringing free school pictures to inner-city students

This post was originally published on PICR, but disappeared after the company restructured. I have shared it here because it’s a story that should be seen.

When she was a child, Nicole Bozickovich took her school photos for granted. Most kids did. They’d show up on a particular day, wait in line, sit down, wait for a flash to go off, and then continue about their days. But when the 23-year-old college graduate landed a job teaching art at STEAM Academy of Akron, she found out that the majority of students planned to opt out of annual school photos due to the cost.

Bozickovich got her start in teaching while a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she studied photography. While there, she enrolled in a somewhat experimental course, titled “Putting Artists in the Classroom.” The elective aimed to provide CIA students with teaching experience by placing them in the classrooms of schools that couldn’t otherwise afford art teachers. Bozickovich fell in love with it.

“I realized my place was helping inner-city kids,” she said. She went on to repeat the course four times. Continue reading

Freelancing – the first two months

Freelance – noun. A mercenary warrior not sworn to any lord.

This will be brief. In my first two months since quitting my day job and working full time as a freelance writer, I have written 53,482 words spread out over 120 articles for four publishers. My desire to update this blog, therefore, has been significantly lessened.

A new chapter

It’s eighty-nine degrees in my house as I write this, so apologies for any typos.

Yesterday was my last day at Pro Photo Supply, my employer for the past six years. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities I had there to grow as a writer, which I am still a little amazed they let me do.

I will be taking the plunge into the terrifying world of freelance writing. In the same week, I was offered contract positions at Digital Trends and PICR, where I will be writing about photography news and related such things.

It’s impossible to say what comes next, but I’m excited. And right now, I’m very hot, so sorry for the sloppy blog update.