Moving In

houseforsaleI thought to myself today “One of questions my dearest readers might have is how come I’ve decided to live in Chautauqua, or where I was before. So why not write about that?”

I lived in Cleveland all of my life. I was raised there, finished school, had my first girlfriend and so on. Life was pretty good there, but you could say I lived in sort of a bad neighbourhood. You know, drugs, violence, that kind of thing… It wasn’t really that safe to walk down the streets at night and I worried about Julia every time she left the house.

Once we got married, we started talking about having kids and the big problem was we didn’t want to raise him there. So we talked, A LOT. And we researched, A LOT.

There were a lot of places we liked, but none really stood out so we just kept postponing and researching and postponing and researching. Once Julia got pregnant though, then it was time to panic. But Julia soon got a marvellous idea – moving to her tiny home town I’ve never even heard of. [Read more…]

Recent Events

cutting grassA lot of people would say that beginning something new is hardest. For example: writing your first blog post. Well that’s not the case here as the main reason I finally decided to create this site is to vent my issues.

I’ve got nowhere else to vent because Julia just tells me to suck it up and my friends all call me a cry baby. So, you get to enjoy my rants 🙂

For example: just last week, I woke up on a sunny Saturday morning with Daiquiri (my cat) shoving his privates on my throat and crying for food while my better half was getting dressed and laughing at such *special* bond I have with such a poor excuse for a cat (he’s afraid of small insects, yes REALLY).

Anyway, I got into my morning routine – feed the cat, get my coffee, try and get my brain fired up enough to engage in a routine conversation, and I just smiled. I smiled because today is the day I get my new shiny iPad Air! It’s the new technological marvel  that will allow me to read my articles while I am sitting on the can, and perhaps some other work related stuff… but that’s not important. [Read more…]

That One Time The Pizza Guy Got Locked Out

A couple of weeks ago, I was down in Sydney catching up with my friend John when something hilarious happened.

I was at John’s place where I was staying. His wife was out for the night so we decided to relive our youth and order a pizza.

About 40 minutes later we hear a knock on the door. We open the door and see a young guy, no more than 18, covered in pimples looking sheepishly at us. It’s the pizza delivery guy, but with no pizza.

“Ah Hi,” he said nervously “I’m here to deliver your pizza, but I’ve just locked myself out of my car”.

I almost burst out in laughter right then. I looked at John and I could see the glint of humour in his eye too. That was until we realised something…

Our pizza’s were in the car too!

Ah shit. We let the kid in, feeling sorry for him and let him use our phone to call up someone to open up his car.

As we waited for a locksmith to come around an awkward silence had fallen on us as we sat there. The kid was obviously embarrassed so I decided to tell him a story when I locked myself out of my dorm room.

When I was at university, I use to keep my keys on a lanyard. Sometimes my door would lock itself so when I was out in the common room I use to just hang the lanyard with the keys on the door knob.

One time I had closed my door quite quickly. As a result, the keys on the end of lanyard swung onto the inside of the door looking me out. Dammit!

But it gets better.

I could see my story had lightened up the pizza delivery guy a little. John decided to chip in and tell us one of his awkward lockout moments.

John is a lot more adventurous than I am. I think he fancies himself a modern MacGyver. So when he got locked out of his home he decided to pick his own locks.

He had just come home from work and realised he had locked himself out.

He had watched enough out movies to know that you could pick a lock with nothing more than a paper clip. So finding himself locked out and with some paper clips from work, he thought he would give it a try.

Now what they don’t tell you in the movies is that picking modern locks with a paper clip is hard, if not impossible. A risk you take is the paperclip can get stuck in the lock and even break off.

What do you think happened? Yep, my mate failed to pick the front lock, leaving a broken paper clip inside it. Not one to be deterred he gave the back door a try. Nope, no luck. Just two stuffed locks.

He ended up calling a locksmith. In the end, his break-in attempts cost him his pride. The locksmith came to his house, cleared up the lock barrel (thank god he didn’t have to pay for replacement locks) and let him in.

The delivery kid had cheered up. He then shared a story that had myself and John almost falling off our chairs laughing.

This happened to a friend of his apparently.

His friend had met up with an ex-girlfriend as a bit of a “catch up”. She had got him to strip off and cuffed an arm to the bed. His excitement was quickly extinguished as she then proceeded to get up and leave, taking the key with her.

After two failed attempts at calling a locksmith (they apparently both laughed before hanging up) a locksmith finally came and unlocked the handcuffs.

Free of charge.

Freelancing is a Hard Business

business valuation

I’m willing to bet most of you think that being a freelance writer is an easy gig. After all, I’m really my own boss, right? I’m doing what I’m good at in life; I work my own hours and set my own schedule; I don’t even have to get dressed in the morning to start working so forget the suit and tie, right? Right?!

Technically, yes, all of that is correct. But there’s a lot more to it than that, and let me just say, so much of it isn’t gumdrops and rainbows. Being a freelance writer is deceptively hard. Some writers quit their “real” jobs to freelance, thinking it’s going to be an awesomely lucrative and flexible way to make money. It’s not.

First, freelance writers seem to be the only people who actually think freelance writing is a real job. If you’re a freelancer, I’ll wager that your family and friends questioned your decision to start freelancing, and perhaps have even told you on more than one occasion to “get a real job”. Other freelancers totally understand what you’re going through, but don’t count on that perspective from the rest of the world.

Also, even people who hire freelancers don’t seem to think those writers are real people doing real work. A lot of people who claim to be “hiring freelancers” are essentially looking for free or dirt-cheap writing, and they have this infuriating tendency to act indignant when a writer dares to ask for a pay rate that’s close to fair compensation for their time and effort.

As a freelancer, it’s up to you to constantly be searching for work and your next source of much-needed income. There is no guarantee of work. And when you do find paying work, chances are it’s not going to be “fun” writing. You will not be composing whimsical fantasy tales or steamy romance pulp novels for pay. Most likely, you’ll be writing instruction manuals for a series of low-quality foreign inkjet printers, or something equally mind-numbing.

And if you want to legally be your own business, there’s even more work involved in that whole situation. Another freelance writer I’m friends with online, he lives in Sydney and he’s working pretty much all the time to keep it all together. He went ahead and started his own business to make his freelance stuff more official, and he says there’s all this extra stuff he didn’t expect, like getting business valuations done, and filing taxes as a small business instead of as a freelancer, and so on.

I mean, even as a pretty experienced freelance writer myself, it’s not exactly easy. I’m constantly writing for any number of Chautauqua local businesses, from ads to press releases to new website content. But I’m also taking other one-off writing jobs from all over the world, and there’s never any consistency like you’d get at your average 9-to-5.

And I don’t really get “days off” – my hours are literally any time I can get to my computer and crunch out some words to make a deadline – and I often find myself working ten, twelve, God knows how many hours a day. Yes, it’s all from the “comfort” of my own home, but it’s not like I have a ton of free leisure time!

Anyways, now that those thoughts are off my chest, I have to say I’m still glad most days to be making money doing something I’m pretty darn good at. Julia is always supportive of my work, especially when it’s something that pays decent, although she makes pretty good money herself. No, it’s not the easiest career. But again, it really could be worse, so I’ll count my blessings where I’ve got ’em.

I’ve Got the House To Myself: A Weekend With Nature, Netflix, and the Cat

How to watch Netflix overseasWell, the wife rolled out of our driveway early Friday morning with the kid in tow. They’re off to visit my dear mother-in-law in Albany, way upstate. Julia (you absolute angel, you) decided last minute that maybe I should stay home, and I have to say, this guy is definitely not complaining! The last time I went along with them to see the in-laws was two Christmases ago and let’s just say, a few conversational disagreements here and there, and things somehow got a little… messy. Sorry, folks.

So I’ve got the run of this whole, big, empty place until Monday morning. Of course, Julia left me one whopper of a to-do list: Clean the leaves out of the gutters before it snows, fix that annoying squeaky stair, try to figure out why the whole basement smells like dirty socks, and on and on. Being the A-plus husband that I clearly am, I’m sure I’ll finish at least one item off that list before the family’s back. (Knock on wood.)

But on this sunny and crisp weekend afternoon, I couldn’t just stay inside whiling my time away on odds n’ ends housework and chores. The sky a brilliant blue and the last of those New York autumn colors lingering on the trees, I hit the beautiful hiking trails throughout Chautauqua and walked for miles, simply enjoying the bright sun and chilly air.

By the time I got back to my quiet, empty house some five hours later, I’d worked up a ravenous appetite and had worn myself out pretty good. Hitting the kitchen, I flexed every impressively talented culinary muscle I had in my body, and by that I mean I made an enormous, meaty, mayo-slathered sandwich big enough to feed the entire neighborhood! I even shared some choice meat scraps with my little furry buddy Daiquiri – I swear, I’m such a softy sometimes.

I made my way through the living room, plopped my tired body down on the outrageously comfy sectional, and settled in with my sandwich and the TV remote. A little quality time with my good friend Netflix is always welcome; there’s so much entertaining stuff to help you waste all that free time, and with a little help from a VPN, I can enjoy Netflix anywhere I go. Not that freelance writer househusbands really tend to go too far from home, anyways!

Yeah, I’m sure I’ll get around to checking out the leaf-clogged gutters or the squeaky step or the weird dirty sock smell that Julia was going on about. But I’ve got the whole rest of the weekend ahead of me, and right now I think that some solid binge watching the first three seasons of Sons of Anarchy sounds like a terrific plan.

Although, Daiquiri’s just jumped up next to me on the sofa and settled in like a champ. He says we should watch those delightful videos of fish swimming in aquarium tanks instead. We’ll just see about that, cat… we’ll see.

So These Christmas Trees…

Christmas Trees Sydney

I would’t go so far as too say that small towns have the absolute weirdest shit go on, but they sure are far more noticeable when they happen. I was walking my dog, fairly early in the morning, couldn’t have been later than 9:00, when this giant truck with Australian license plates blazed through my neighborhood.

Normally something like this would have put me on fury road (Tom Hardy as Mad Max? Color me intrigued) but I was far too bewildered by what the truck contained: it was stacked and tied five-feet-high with Christmas trees. It was the middle of August. I stood frozen, trying my best to analyze the world around me and make sure there hadn’t been some glitch in the matrix. After about a minute of eternity, I made the attempt to track the truck, hoping to see it and discover it was on of “Pimp My Ride”‘s last cars before the show ran out of funding – but the Christmas tree truck from Sydney and the man behind the wheel were nowhere to be found.

I went home and tried to put the whole incident behind me. The only problem was my curiosity. It got the better of me, much like every teen romance novel, I needed to investigate further. After a few empty searches within the New York area, I began spreading my wings across the sea and tapped into the great outback for any sign of a Christmas tree moving truck. I managed to find one hopeful prospect – Christmas trees Sydney, a tree delivering business where they prune and grow their own trees. The trucks looked identical, but it made no sense as the Christmas trees were made and cultivated in Sydney. Everyone else claims to have not seen anything.


It’s just another example of something I can’t wrap my head around in this place. Another day in the life of the 4400, I suppose.

And Then We Started Talking About How to Get a Proper Business Valuation in Sydney

Business Valuation SydneyDo you remember my friend Greg? He’s the one with the home cinema I mentioned a few posts ago. He called me last week to see if I wanted to hang out with him and his friend from out of town and knock back a few beers. A chance to have “guy time” is a rare treat for me, since Julia and I are both working full-time now.

As it turns out, it was the most boring night of my life.

I get to Greg’s house and knock on the door.  The door opens and I am greeted by a man who has a strange likeness to Crocodile Dundee. He had the tan, he had the accent and he was charming, his name was Paul. He invited me in and we made small chit chat as we headed to the cinema where Greg was already seated.

The game was on and the min-fridge was stocked with imported beers. Greg’s wife, Cindy, had made us game time snacks, and the evening appeared to be heading in a great direction. Beer, friends, snacks, and football, what more could a man ask for.

I made myself at home in one of the over-sized theater chairs and we began to watch the game.  We explained the nuances of American football with Paul and we were all enjoying ourselves.  It turned out that Paul owned a company in Sydney, Australia.  The night was going well.

Oddly, the more beers that Paul drank the less charming he became.   It didn’t really matter to me because the game was on and I could drowned out Paul and Greg’s business talk.  But then, the game was over.  I had nothing to do except join in their conversation or watch Unforgettable, but there was no way I could pull off proper interest in that.

Once Paul noticed I was listening he decided to give me some background into his company.  Did you know Paul’s company started in 1998?  Now you do.  Did you know that Paul’s company is the leading producer of weird gadgety things in the world? You didn’t? How could you not, gadgety things are everywhere!  Ugh, it was getting difficult to listen to.

Paul keep droning on and on about his business, and I felt my eyelids getting tired. As it turns out, Paul is trying to sell his gadgety thing business, and is looking for a proper business valuation in Sydney.  He’s tried this one company, Key Property Group, and insisted that they were all drunks and thieves becaus of the low valuation they gave him, until he also tried Valuator and they gave him the same valuation…

The only reason I’ve ever heard those terms before is from watching Shark Tank.  He talked about it as if I should know all the people who do valuations in Sydney.  As if I was going to make a living off of my pretend widget venture. By the way, if I did have a widget company I would name it, “Wacky, Wonderful, Widget World.”

It was getting late so I excused myself from the conversation under the ruse of an early morning the next day.  As I was leaving I walked through the kitchen where Cindy was to thank her for the delicious food that she made.  She looked at me with a sly smile and asked if Paul was talking about his business again.  I told her he was.  She just rolled her eyes and assured me he was going back home on Friday.

Living the dream

A lot of time has passed since my last blog post. I can say things are progressing rather well.

Neighbors daughter is taking care of Mike Jr. and Daiquiri the days Julia and I work during same hours. I’ve managed to find one guy in this little town that I actually like hanging out with, could be because he lives alone and have home cinema in a town without a cinema or any other entertainment, could be.

My baby boy is more popular with the ladies than I ever was, sometimes it feels like he is the main attraction of the town. Everyone asks about him, everyone have a story about him. I guess I have to admit, small towns are really great for a kid.

We are financially stable and made couple of friends, I still miss my home town considering there is nothing really to do around here. Or so I thought, wrong again.

We visited my parents in Cleveland about a week ago, was a great trip and it was great to see my town again. Except it felt like there were huge crowds everywhere, and too many cars, not to mention the noise during the night from the road and people partying. It was that night when I realized I got infected by a small town, and that I enjoy nearly all the things it provides.


Ladies and gentleman we have scored a job!

Which is in Erie… which is nearly one hour drive away… which is AMAZING. Every time I’m driving out of Chautauqua I pretend like its for good and my heart starts feeling all warm and fuzzy.

My first day driving to work was especially amazing. As I was driving out of town I saw an older man on the ground in front of his house, he was cleaning the gutters and ended up falling and braking his leg. I stop, go to him, tell him to calm down and I call the ambulance. Still on phone describing situation to guy on the line, hearing help is coming soon. I’m thanking god as I’ve no idea how to help the poor guy.

A garbage truck pulls over, and dudes come out to help. I just shout “Its okay guys, ambulance is on the way!”, but as I keep watching I notice they’re taking stuff out of the truck and… turns out they’re on double duty. This towns garbage men… are EMT’s.

How nice and unique is that huh? I hope I never need to go to hospital around here, god knows what might the doctors second duty be.