I don’t take typical vacations. They seem like something for established adults. And by “established” I mean “people who don’t work freelance.” I’ve been an independent contractor since graduating from college 20 years ago. I’ve been a freelance writer for the past nine years. What does that have to do with vacations, you wonder? Let me tell you.
- No paid vacation time. Like health insurance and retirement benefits, unemployment insurance, sick leave, paid family leave, pregnancy disability leave, paid leave for jury duty, and the eight-hour workday, a specific time allotted to be away from work is the stuff of fantasy for me and the other 9,999,999 independent contractors who made up this critical 7.4 percent of the U.S. labor market as of 2010.
- No predictable work schedule. There’s a constant risk that a pile of pricey work will land at my door the minute I decide to skip town — and disappear the second I come back.
- Expense. Not only the expense of plane tickets, accommodations, food, travel, and attractions, but the expense of missed or cancelled work.
- Not actually relaxing. When you write online, every vacation is a working vacation. And by “vacation” I mean “difficult trip to an out-of-the-way locale to visit family.”
I Don’t Take Vacations — With One Notable Exception
There is one vacation I’ve taken religiously for the last nine years. And by “religiously” I mean “pay a bunch of money to show up once a year,” and by “vacation” I mean “Burning Man.” Now how could survival camping in a 115 degree Fahrenheit desert while sharing a few Porto-Potties with about 50,000 of my not-closest friends possibly qualify as a vacation, you may ask?
Plenty is already written about the transcendent, spiritual, ecological, and social elements of Burning Man. Each of these is enough to keep me coming back year after year. Also, there’s nothing I like as much as Jewy stuff, and there’s nothing quite as Jewish as spending a bunch of time wandering through a harsh desert, confronting the ferocious beauty of nature, transitory splendor of humanity, and Immanent Divine Presence. That said, this ain’t the year.
Project Baby 2014
I’ve attended Burning Man by myself, with others, five months pregnant, alone with my eight-month-old, and with family plus my 20-month-old (not the best year, let me tell you). But this year involves adoption from foster care. While I’m 100 percent sure it’s possible to safely attend Burning Man with a child and have an awesome time, I am not crazy enough to try this with someone else’s child … and until a court declares differently, that’s what foster-adoption involves. So goodbye, Burning Man, see you within the next few years … but not you, Normal Summer Vacation — not going anywhere with you.
Allena Tapia, “What Is a Freelance Writer, and What Kind of Writing is Freelance Writing?” About Freelance Writing
Burning Man Home Page
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Home Page
“Independent Contractor Defined,” U.S. Internal Revenue Service
Jeffrey A. Eisenach, “The Role of Independent Contractors in the U.S. Economy,” Social Science Research Network
John Mosbaugh aka Moze “Spirituality and Community,” Burning Man
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Home Page
“A Lifetime of Exploration Awaits You,” Friends of Black Rock – High Rock
My Jewish Learning Home Page
“Posts for Category Spirituality,” The Burning Blog
“The 10 Principles: Exploring the Values of a Community,” The Burning Blog