As summer begins to crest and Pittsburgh experiences more rainy, 84ºF days rather than 35º and rainy, I’ve been spending my “downtime” (which is time spent on the bicycle or on foot while hanging posters, or while winding down at night) brainstorming ways to make an income during my time on the road. If anyone follows social media accounts, (s)he is likely aware of the fake lives people life: the freedom, endless vacations, and luxury of so many lucky ducks. Instagram is possibly the most guilty, filled with accounts of people living dreamily in their Westfalias, spending nights under starscape to wake beachside and spend the day surfing and mountain biking. But who, or what, pays for van repair? Or gas? Or food? We often joke about our sweet pooch (who at this moment is throwing up in my back yard, in front of me) and his tender tummy. He currently eats a mixture of dry food for small senior dogs with sensitive stomachs as well as added snacks to help his digestion, skin, and happiness (who doesn’t love yogurt and blueberries?). How am I going to pay for his gourmet chow, or for my very necessary occasional chocolate bar? The answer is that many of the inspiring ‘Grammers are techies who have temporarily cut themselves loose from their desk job ties. Many more have trust funds that allow for the luxury of endless summer.
But what about a lowly writer/bike mechanic/poster distributor? I’m sure there is a way to make a halfway decent living while I’m hitting the reboot button on my sanity. Here are some ideas of things I have to offer the world that don’t require a home base:
As a published author and dedicated educator, I can teach online—or in person—writing workshops to aspiring poets and essayists. I have a modest stack of thank-you letters from students of the past few years as my credentials, and plenty of proven methods for bringing out the best in every hopeful writer. Keep a look out on this and my personal page for the link to sign up for a writing class with me!
As a passive income, I have a list of prompts I’ve collected that I’ve been considering releasing as either a weekly or daily blast, either through email, text message, or on a secret blog for those who’ve signed up. This has actually been posted on my personal site for a while, but I haven’t made it active just yet.
Over at Lifting Weights At Midnight, I’ve been working my way through product reviews for things I’ve been acquiring over the past six months or so in preparation of my many trips coming up (and some that have passed). I’m not a slave to the gadget, but I do enjoy innovation and seeing development work its way into more user-friendliness and capability with each redesign, and also love the chance to become involved in a new sport. More than that, writing for me isn’t an echo chamber, and I think it’s helpful for a person who uses something in a number of ways (since I live a number of lives at once, like a foolish cat) to post an honest review of what I think is truly a great product.
While I do this currently, it’s not always the most time-efficient way to make a quick buck. But I do love it. I love being inspired by something I see, do, or read, then research it to find out more, take some photos, and see the product of my labor on the printed page (or website). My most recent publications have been for the Pittsburgh City Paper’s music section as well as a poem found in the latest issue of Majestic Disorder.
For special events, holidays, and fundraisers, I’ve opened up the option for people to purchase a poem written for or dedicated to a loved one (including themselves). While my trusty electric bass isn’t quite street-ready, and even though I can *usually* carry a tune okay, my typewriter is the original print-on-demand machine for the ultimate limited edition poetry. All I need is a little banner and I can already see the money cascading into my little typewriter case while I pound the keys on the sidewalk (though I may also have to sing…).
Trailside Bicycle Maintenance
If there’s a surefire way to ruin a good day at the bike park, it’s getting a flat tire dropping a chain and not having the skills or tools needed to fix it. I got a stand, a toolbox, and years of experience in my apron to help a wayward rider get back in her saddle.
So, there are plenty of options and more things to consider every day. I’m currently embarking on a 30-day overhaul of my general writing practice to get my best food forward, but I genuinely feel good about the many roads ahead of me. Last night, I lamented to Evan that becoming involved in bicycles was the worst and best thing to ever happen to me. My life would be very different if I had chosen to take an internship at one of the local papers or magazines when I was in college, but I opted for a job that paid (albeit poorly) and accepted a job at my local bike shop, where I was taught the correct way to fix and build bicycles after years of winging it. In that sense, I’m 12 years behind schedule from where I could have been if I was more forward thinking at age 19. On the other hand, I have an invaluable skill that not only pays the bills, but also helps my community and myself. I’m fortunate to not have to pay $100 every time my bikes need to be tuned up (which is often). I’m fortunate to be able to get myself rolling when I get a flat on a ride or break a spoke on a tour. I feel grateful for the independence provided by bicycles, and the virtually endless ability for mobility.
Being able to construct a decent sentence doesn’t hurt, either.