September 12th, 2010

Last Night

Sitting outside the bar I saw a man at another table in a wheelchair. He was somewhere between 65 and 80 and with a woman who was obviously his wife.

His hands didn't work. They were moving around all the time but clearly not in a voluntary way. His wife was drinking a glass of wine. He had a pint of beer with a straw in it. He would simply lean over and take a long sip whenever he wanted to.

The couple was flirting heavily with each other and leaning across the table to kiss every few minutes. When his pint was almost empty, she reached over and moved the straw a bit so he could get the last drop.

Both of them were smiling the entire time.

It reminded me that if you look around and pay attention you'll find people who have found ways to be happy no matter what challenge life has thrown at them.

There is almost never a reason not to smile.

10 Years

10 years ago I stepped off a plane in Paris with my then-wife and took the train down to Montpellier. We didn't know what to expect. I'd just signed up for Elance a week before and her boss at her job had agreed to this new wild thing where she would work remotely on her computer from here. I don't even think there was a word for it then. (And to be honest he wasn't paying her very much, something like $800 a month, which was much, much less than her salary from the same job in the office.)

At the time you could only get dial up Internet at apartments in France and they charged you by the minute. So we had to work out of Internet cafes, which had "high speed" access and only charged 10 Francs an hour.

But, "high speed" is a relative thing. Sometimes when we'd send an email off with a "large" attachment it would take up to a half hour for the email to send. Downloading a single song off of Napster (which still existed) could sometimes take 15 minutes.

Two years later my wife, fed up with us not making enough money and the general hassle that is life in France and my insistence that we were slowly making more money and that companies would start to outsource to freelancers really soon, left me.

I went home to try to fix things and my dad told me I had exactly 90 days to live in his house and then he was sending me back to France if he had to actually physically put me on the plane, because in his view losing my relationship wasn't worth losing my dream.

The next couple of years were tough. I had a nervous breakdown and had to try a wide variety of drugs before I could find one to stabilize myself. All the while working really hard to get new clients, develop new skills and make it all work.

Often I'd be the first person at the Internet cafe when it opened at noon and the last person there when it closed at midnight. There are more times than I'd like to admit that I needed loans from my dad. And more times than I'd like to admit when he wouldn't let me pay him back and more times than I'd like to admit that I couldn't pay him back.

I lived for years in what can only be described as the "shittiest apartment in France." But, it was over a pizza place and the guys there liked me and anytime they'd accidentally make the wrong pizza for someone they'd send it up to me.

Now, here I am today with a great girlfriend, living in a beautiful apartment. My home Internet is so fast I can download an entire movie in less than an hour. I have a laptop.

I was able to go into a wine shop yesterday and pick up a bottle of champagne without even looking at the price, because I knew I could afford it. I wear nice clothes. Last night I went to that pizza shop and bought two of their pizzas.

My vision that the freelance business model could work and that I was good enough to make it work proved to be right. It took a lot longer and required a lot more work and effort than I expected, but man was it worth it.

Today, Rome Girl and I will go bowling with a friend of mine and then hit the Vert Anglais and drink champagne.

Tomorrow we'll get up and bitch about our clients and write what they want us to write and things will keep moving forward like they have every day, in some way, for the past 10 years.

Happy anniversary to me.

9/11 Anniversary

Nothing went "boom" - that's all that matters.

Also, this is the one event that breaks a fundamental rule of the Internet. I spent a while searching for 9/11 fetish porn and could not find any at all!

The closest I could find was one single drawing of a giant woman crushing the towers with her boobs.

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