It’s the dream of creative types, iconoclasts, and commitment-phobes alike: to work in pajamas while eschewing the demands of corporate culture. (Like wearing pants.) In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be writing about how I eat and drink on a freelancer’s salary—or lack thereof—in New York City; this is part one.
Some freelancers, I’ve been told, have figured out how to handle the juggling act that this lifestyle requires: the constant uncertainty of wondering when, exactly, those invoices submitted months earlier are going to pay out, and when they do, which bills need immediate attention and which can go another month or two, and how much wiggle-room is left on various credit cards before the banks demand nothing less than a first-born child in repayment. For me, it’s a low-grade anxiety—please excuse the overworked metaphor—that’s always simmering on the back burner, threatening to boil over at the slightest provocation. Unforeseen medical expenses? Summer weddings to attend? Excessive phone usage this billing cycle? Even a standard-yet-unexpected service charge on an otherwise normal account can throw my precariously balanced system (and I use the term lightly) into a state of disarray.
When that balance is at its most delicate, my diet becomes much less interesting. Fresh vegetables, meat, and cheese are all sidelined in favor of more cost-effective measures, and the variety I normally thrive on is a luxury I can’t afford; a pot of soup, legume-based and enough to feed me for a week, is a standard go-to. (This is hardly news.)