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Holy crap is Portland looking beautiful these days. Yesterday I walked around in the strange bright sunlight, croaking at crocuses and high fiving the homeless (who are in a decidedly better mood when it’s not pouring rain).IMG 0202

Remember last year when I resolved to be a real live freelance writer? Well I did write a bit (including this little gem) and that was great, but I also planned an exhausting two-month Europe trip followed closely by a summer/fall of non-writing work in Sitka, Alaska. Shipping salmon was interesting, barista work was pretty great and guiding kayaks was amazing, but combined they left little time for tickling the ole plastics.

After salmon season, I returned to the lower 48 and spent a spectacular second annual San Francisco birthday bash with by beloved cuz-sin and the gang from Cesar Chavez. I whirlwinded through Idaho and Montana visiting great people and chasing that elusive summer feeling I’ve missed for seven years now. It’s been about a year since I’ve felt any weather above 70 degrees. How am I supposed to get that leathery socialite look without sun exposure?

The solo road trip also gave me a chance to round up any possessions scattered to the four corners of friend storage, get rid of what I could and deposit the rest at mom’s. I decided the next move was back to Portland, but that left all of December before my move. Rather than sipping tea and laboring for free at my ma’s, I headed back to my barista job in Sitka. It was my first taste of Alaska in the winter, and it was snowy and rainy and dark, but not unlike winter in northern Idaho. By winter solstice, night fell at 3 p.m.

I flew home Christmas Eve and saw a whole lot of family in little time. That’s the best way for me to swing the holidays. A day or two after Christmas, I loaded down the Suby caravan and drove through a Palouse blizzard with shit-you-not over-6-foot snow drifts. Despite a failing wheel bearing, I landed in Portland and within minutes had a visitor. My friend Mainard came down from Seattle to help me unpack, and the next day we left for Corvallis to visit Rose, another Excursion Inlet friend, and to celebrate the New Year.

With the new year came a renewed commitment to freelancing and the self-employment life. I landed a part-time job with a non-profit organization in Portland that encourages and enables Latino involvement within the community. They offered me an opportunity to develop, market and teach an adult ESL (English as a second language) class. A few days ago they offered me another part-time gig teaching basic literacy skills in Spanish to Spanish-speaking elementary students. Hell yeah Spanish degree!

As a freelance free agent, I have decided to offer Spanish and English tutoring (perhaps classes eventually), translation, interpretation, copy editing and proofreading all on a per project, self-scheduled basis. ‘They’ say specialize, and I spit in their faces. Will I regret it? Perhaps. But I’ll never be bored, and it will help me discover what I’m best at and what I most enjoy.

Did I forget to mention writing? Oh yeah. Other than that other stuff on the nights, weekends, crooks and nannies … I am primarily a freelance travel and feature writer. Yesterday I began Jessie’s Pitch-A-Day-For-A-Month-Or-So. ‘They’ also say successful freelance writers churn out a pitch (or query letter) every business day since they can expect a decent chunk of their ideas to be rejected. I have a whole notebook full of story ideas, but following their ‘write what you know’ counsel, I have thus far pitched two Sitka stories with different angles to different themed travel magazines. Shockingly (as editors are notoriously uhhh…. tortoise-like) I received a positive reply half an hour later for the one I sent today. Huzzah!

Last week I visited Sitka again, probing for stories, talking to local folks about the ideas I already had and gathering resource info. As the days wear on, I’m sure I’ll run out of Sitka and even Southeast Alaska ideas, but I shall keep y’all posted on the impending ulcers of my improbable livelihood.

And for my last tidbit – This morning I received by post an envelope from my dear sweet mother containing all my W2s. With my tax code savvy and Turbo Tax’s assistance, I wrangled a refund of nearly $2,000 from the feds and, well, $6 from Idaho. Take that, ulcers…and government.