Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The freelance wardrobe

If you’re proud to work in your pyjamas you might want to look away now. That said, each to their own. I’m not here to nag about your fashion faux pas!! Personally I hate working in my pyjamas. I feel lazy, unmotivated and sluggish, but that’s just me.

When I first started working as a translator back in year 2000, in a world without wifi, Google and decent Internet connections, I still lived with my parents. I’ve never been one to sleep in but I do like snuggling up in bed on a cold morning with a book or lost in my own thoughts. So sometimes when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed and had to proofread or translate a short text at the crack of dawn, I’d just reach over to my desk (conveniently located in the comfort of my room) and deal with the text before heading down to breakfast and a morning chat with the family. So... I guess that could count as working in my PJs. Oh, the horror!!!!

FF a few years on down the line and cut to me living in my first flat and suddenly being able to make my own rules. Sure, I’d been away on an Erasmus in Geneva and studying an MA in the UK but in both of those cases I actually had to get dressed and leave the house everyday to go to uni and I usually spent the weekends nursing killer hangovers doing my homework and can’t really remember what I was wearing. Although I was obviously free to do as I pleased I hardly ever lounged around in my PJs. Maybe the fact that my parents had a strict pyjamas ban had something to do with it. Pyjamas were to be worn in bed and occasionally on a lazy Sunday morning at the breakfast table. That was it. Shuffling around in pyjamas and a dressing gown when you had a cold was out of the question.

Soon after moving out I got a dog and as soon as Silva entered the stage the unthinkable thought of ever working in my PJs flew out the window since the first thing I'd do was get dressed and take her for a walk. Back then, my garment of choice was the tracksuit. Guess I could blame it on the tracksuit-clad bands I was listening to. Adidas was actually all the rage at the time, so I could get away with calling it a fashion statement. [Lamest excuse ever?]. I cringe at the thought. I now only wear a tracksuit on the occasional visit to a muddy park with the dog or when I’m making my way back from the gym on a cold winter night. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one in public for any other reason.

Instead of going through every single item in my wardrobe I’m going to fly with that last thought “I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that in public” because it crosses my mind almost every single day.

I’m no fashion guru and I don’t follow up on every single trend listed in the Vogue look book, but I do pride myself in being a somewhat stylish dresser with a strong penchant for the 90s when I’m out and about, but at home I seem to have become an onioner and a compulsive clothes-changer.

Being an onioner, for those who haven’t guessed, is all about layers. Working at home exposes us to ever-changing climates. My flat now has central heating, the kind that is decided for me by whoever runs this building, so being the early bird that I am, when I get up at 7am it’s freezing. I usually pull on a pair of leggings/jeans and a thick jumper and head into the office to get some work done check my Reader before I take Nara for a walk. I’m always cold and my fingers go numb (more on that in another post) so I put on an extra jumper, sometimes pull on a pair of jeans, a scarf and two pairs of gloves. When I get home I peel off layers of clothes and make breakfast. By the time I sit down I’m cold again so I'm back to adding layers, another cardigan here, a snood there and I throw a pair of thin gloves into the mix just for fun. Then the heating comes on at midday and I run through the opposite process, leaving my extra office chair strewn with clothes for the day. On “paper” this doesn’t sound as extreme as the combinations I put together are. You should actually take a look at the crummy leggings, bobbly dresses/jumpers and t-shirts that I sit around in. When couriers come round, I take a deep breath before opening the door and greeting them in my combination of old jeans, woollen dress, slippers, fleece, sweatshirt and scarf. All at the same time. Summer’s different, I usually type away in flimsy old dresses or an old t-shirt and girl boxers. The keyword to the disgraceful summer look is “old”. Holes are always welcome.

Hairstyles are also worth a mention. I wear my hair à la garçon at the moment, but I used to sport the Louise Brooks look and you don’t want to know about the state of my fringe when I needed a haircut. Barrettes, hairclips and bobby pins galore. Plus, without my GHD irons, I get cowlicks all over the place. Frizzle is my middle name, so my shadow during lunchtime walks with the dog makes me look like Tintin.

So to cut a long story short, my freelance wardrobe is all about jeans, woolly dresses, leggings, thick tights, sweat shirts and cardigans in the winter, and hot pants and a vest in the summer. No pyjamas for me!!

Now please excuse me as I hurry off to change because I have people coming round to watch the footie!!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Freelance Life (I)

Yesterday I decided to make the most of the freelance life. I handed in one of the books I'm working on last week and I had just sent out an estimate for a project that, if accepted, will have me up to my ears in work for the whole of the month. Before I start touching up and finishing the translation of the book I have due in June, I thought I'd chillax a bit and take advantage of the freelance life to check out an exhibition and catch up with some friends.
The best thing that can happen to a freelancer is to have other friends who freelance too and can join them in their escapades. One of my best friends works as a freelance stylist so on the rare occasion that we both have some free time, we team up and go for it. A couple of years ago we spent a whole long weekend lounging at my parents' beach flat, last year we were both too busy for words and this year seems to have started in the same style, so we made the most of the day instead.
We spoke at 9.30 am and decided on the Fundación Mapfre's Lewis Hine show. Highly recommendable.
As soon as I put the landline phone down, my mobile started ringing. A client. What to do? I decided to pick up, because it was one of my best and favourite clients and a phone call meant something was up... I mean, email is what normal work is for, right?
She was in a right pickle. She was heading off to the printer's when she realised she had a poster that was still in Spanish. She'd forgotten to send it to me to get it translated. It was just three sentences long, so I told her to send it over to me asap. Once I'd sent it off back to her (and saved the show), I switched off the computer, only to have her call me 10 minutes later to say she needed another quickie.
I finally managed to make it out at midday. The show was great, and the museum was a lot busier than I'd expected. Don't know if that had to do with the time of day or with the fact that it was a free show, but it was definitely pulling in the crowds.
We ended up having lunch with my family. My brother usually has lunch with me on Wednesdays and my parents happened to be in the Prado, so we all got together and giggled the meal away.
After lunch we made our way off towards our favourite café to indulge in a slice of carrot cake before we parted ways.
I got home to a sleepy doggie, who did not seem to have missed me a bit, and sat down to sort out my invoices.
All in all it was a great freelance day.

Afterthought: as I was writing this post, another one came to mind. "Smartphones, are they wreaking havoc on my 'freelance life' escapades?". Stay tuned for my conclusions on that!!