People often ask, when I’m sitting on panels or giving workshops or talks, what a “typical” day is like as a freelancer. The great thing–for me, at least; for some people, it can be maddening–is that there’s no consistent structure. There’s always researching, writing, reading, taking care of my kids, and, hopefully, taking a shower, but outside of that, all bets are off and the ratios of some of these things against others shift from one day to the next.
A few weeks ago, some friends said they’d like a peek at my daily schedule, such as it is. I decided, what better time to indulge them than during the busiest week of my life?
Here’s how Monday went down:
7:00 AM: Wake up. Make oatmeal for oldest child, pack her lunch, and help her get ready for school. Take a quick shower, dress, pack my own backpack (laptop, agenda, book to read on train, journal, pens, press card, business cards, wallet, iPhone).
7:40 AM: Leave home and walk to school.
7:53 AM: Arrive at school, drop daughter off, make a donation of books to school’s used book drive. Walk to neighborhood coffee shop to work until it’s time to leave for a meeting in Manhattan.
8:05-10:32 AM: Work at coffee shop. Check bank accounts and note paid invoices. Send outstanding April invoices to five clients. Check and respond to email. Send an email to an editor with a list of upcoming articles. Check Facebook and Twitter for my own accounts and for Cultures & Cuisines, a website I’m launching with Christine Gilbert on Friday. Prep rest of the day’s to-do list and make note (mental and otherwise) of article deadlines this week. Read Mexican and Puerto Rican newspapers online. Download most recent version of the outline for the workshop I’m teaching with Conner Gorry at CUNY School of Journalism on Friday and save it on laptop for our 11:30 meeting. (Tickets are still available, by the way!)
10:32 AM: Leave coffee shop and get on subway. Head to Manhattan. Read Chester Himes interviews on the train and marvel how much and yet how little the publishing industry has changed since the 1940s, especially for people of color.
10:49 AM: Get off train in Times Square. Walk to bank to get replacement bank card for Girl Scout account and make a deposit for cookie money!
11:30 AM: Walk to NYPL. Meet Conner. Decide that we should change venues and work in a cafe across the street. Work on refining the outline for our How to Report on Cuba (Responsibly) workshop. Make a list of action items for each of us to follow up on before Friday.
1:15 PM: Leave Manhattan and head home. As I walk home from train, Francisco calls to say that we’re having an unexpected guest coming over for a light lunch at 3 PM. The apartment, he says, is a mess.
1:40 PM: Home. Francisco gets ready to go pick Mariel up from school. I put water on to boil–pasta’s always an easy lunch!–and start straightening up. We change the other kids’ diapers, get them dressed, and I vacuum.
2:00 PM: Francisco straps on his rollerblades and zips off to pick up Mariel. I add the pasta to the water and prep toppings.
2:37 PM: Francisco and Mariel arrive home. Orion falls asleep. I call a PR person to request photos for an article for The Latin Kitchen.
3:00 PM: Guest arrives. Lunch is served.
4:00 PM: Guest leaves. Francisco takes Orion and Mariel to the playground. Olivia naps. I work on action items for the Cuba workshop: finding and sending some photos to Conner; cleaning up our list of resources so that the formatting is consistent; pulling the email list for the participants to send them an update message about materials they should bring. I also draw up an evite for the May 24 dinner for Cultures & Cuisines and start working on the guest list. I follow up on a last-minute article opportunity, sending materials an editor has requested for a time-sensitive piece.
6:00 PM: Francisco and kids return home. Two oldest kids go into bathtub; Francisco starts cooking dinner. Mariel gets out of bath and we start homework. She goes to visit a neighbor. I play with “the littles,” submit the Girl Scout cookie order, and plan pick up with the troop co-leader.
7:10PM: I feed the littles.
7:30 PM: Mariel comes home and eats dinner. I make a cocktail and, of course, drink it.
8:00 PM: Start to get kids ready for bed, helping them brush teeth, choosing books to read, and getting them into bed. Read books. Talk. Do a last round of milk for the two youngest. Lights out by 9:00 PM.
8:20 PM: Francisco leaves to do some errands: grocery store, post office, pick up keys for a friend who needs him to let in guests while she’s out of town.
9:00-10:20 PM: Wait for Orion to fall asleep. I fall asleep in the process, waking up when I hear the wind blowing over a container in the kitchen.
10:20 PM: Wake up. Kids all asleep. I wash bottles and prep them anew, wash dishes, put away food, make Mariel’s lunch for tomorrow, and set out breakfast items for the morning.
10:30 PM: Francisco comes home. We talk and catch up and plan how we’re managing the rest of the week.
11:00 PM- 1:30 AM: I continue working on the Cuba workshop materials. Orion wakes up and has a stuffy nose so fusses. I bring him out to the living room to sleep and fall asleep with him around 2:00 AM.