February 05, 2004

Do people do this every day?

I went into the world today, again. I'm always amazed that this amazes me. Once I lived and worked in the world. It's been almost a year now that I've been doing the freelance thing, and aside from the occasional client meeting, I enjoy my life writing on my laptop from the living room couch.

Most days the closest I come to a meeting is meeting the mail lady at the mailbox to see if clients are paying fast (yay!), slow (boo!), or not at all (shit!). These meetings are much less complicated than the BigPRCo brainstorms of the past, the overnights at the office during RFP time, the sometimes hour-and-a-half commute. The mail lady is my best vendor, and I think I'm her cheeriest client.

So, me and my chipped tooth made our way into town. I really liked this prospective client. We laughed about my tooth when I told her why I was scanning the menu for something soft. She's cool. Lunch was delicious. I felt like one of those people who lives in the real world. That part was disconcerting. And yet vaguely, and I mean vaguely, familiar.

I've been to more offices this week than I have in several months. I've had one particular client for nine months. We met for the first time yesterday. They said they had been betting on whether or not I really existed. I wished I'd been in on the bet. I'm not saying which side I would have put my money on. We laughed.

I have, actually, only met three clients this year in person. Six of my clients from this past year I've never met. It's kind of like blogging that way. I know them as well as any client I've met, except I haven't met them.

Anyway, what I started out to write about was how strange it has been to be in an "office" this week that is 1) not a pediatrician's office, and 2) boasts beautiful office furniture and prized windows and doors, a commodity you forget about when you sit on a scratched up couch drinking water out of a ball jar glass in your pajamas most days.

I remember when those things meant something to me--windows, doors, and administrative assistants. Now, I'd rather have 102 friends on Orkut than a credenza facing Peachtree Street from 22 floors up.

Who am I?

I floated around these offices of the last few days (with one more to go tomorrow) feeling quite dissociated. I was sitting at a meeting table watching myself sitting. I forgot how much perfume is "the right amount" to put on for a meeting, and was overwhelmed by my own realworld smell. I smelled myself smelling myself.

The client's office yesterday was adorned with sleek dark wood, beautifully classic furniture, and high ceilings. I felt swallowed up and awkward in this vast, dark, roomy place. I was on the underside of floor 7 and 1/2 in On Being John Malkovich.

Today's lunch with the really smart, warm client reminded me, though, that sometimes -- maybe more often than I do... okay definitely more often than I do -- I need to get myself back into the physical presence of people who do what I do, or people who need me to do what I do, or hell, maybe just *people*, to connect in a way that pulls me back out of my net-connected mind and into my own wrapper, better known as my skin.

You want the truth though? The truth is that me, my chipped tooth, my portfolio, my business cards, my Heaven perfume, my empty coffee mug, and my kid swept up from art class were all happy to get home this evening, back here to blogland at the end of an unusual usual day.