thI’ve taken a two-month contract job and my head, she is spinning. At 8 a.m. Monday I had my first conference with the editor and by 9 a.m. I had four assignments, all due within one week.

The articles are all based on insurance, a topic about which I know as much as any other freelance personal finance writer. Translation: I’ve spent a lot of time researching this week.

By the end of the first day I was utterly wrung out and wondering just what I’d done. The only thing that kept me going was the memories of my first day at The Chicago Tribune and the first few weeks at MSN Money. In both cases I felt completely at sea but I managed to survive, and to thrive.


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Not dead, just busy.

th-1This morning I realized it’s been nine days since I posted. That’s not good, but it’s sometimes inevitable. Times are I get too bound-up in real life and can’t find time first to come up with a topic and then to write it.

Unfortunately, I may maintain radio silence for another week or so. Blame a combination of visiting relatives (they get here Sunday and will stay for a week), everyday deadlines, some fill-in child care for two families and a couple of special projects.

And, of course, the tail-end of a particularly amazing Alaska summer.

None of those things is particularly onerous (especially the summer part). Taken together, they’ve usurped all my waking hours. Occasionally they follow me into my dreams, e.g., waking up with a start and thinking, “Is that piece due today or tomorrow? Do I have enough research to finish it? Did I ever get in touch with that specialist?”


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thAlaska is full of kick-ass women, and I was privileged to meet a bunch of them during my 17 years of working for the Anchorage Daily News. That’s because I wrote for the features section, which meant getting sent out to interview women who’d either suffered great losses or done something intriguing. Sometimes both.

I learned something from all of them, and was fortunate enough to get to know some of them better. When I met Dana Stabenow she was at the tail-end of a carefully chosen yet potentially disastrous decision: to quit her lucrative job, get a master’s degree in creative writing and become an author.

She went broke in the attempt, but that’s not the end of her story.

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thToday I got my first paycheck since Nov. 29. At times this self-employment thing is for the birds.

My tax guy suggested I pay myself four times a year instead of monthly. It makes the paperwork easier, but part of me believes the quarterly system stinks.

That would be the part that’s been monitoring the checkbook balance – and suffering periodic panic attacks – since Thanksgiving.

Yet another part of me is glad that I’m not collecting 12 paychecks a year. The quarterly payouts help me keep my frugal edge.

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thLady Liberty is back. Or, rather, some dude wearing a Statue of Liberty costume is back, and standing outside a local tax-prep place. Instead of lifting a lamp beside the golden door, he’s waving a get-your-taxes-done-here sign at the passing traffic.

I’ve seen at least two dudes dressed this way lately, greenish robes bulging over winter wear and spiky crowns sitting uneasily atop messy mops. The facial hair is a bit jarring, since the real Lady Liberty is clean-shaven.

Being willing to don a silly costume and stand outdoors in the cold tells me something about these guys: They want to work.

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