A bit more on life as a freelancer.
I live by short-term work. To pay the mortgage, put food on the table and provide for a basic living, I need about 100 days of work per year. Less than that means dipping into savings; more than that would be gravy.
Some of my work involves travel and some does not. A typical job is a mix -- go somewhere for two weeks, then come back and spend a week writing a report.
When I describe this to people their first reaction is often "oh cool, you get to travel a lot!" And that's true: I do travel a lot, and that is cool. But it's more complicated than that. For one thing, long distance business air travel is no longer the thrill it used to be. For another, a lot of my time in-country is like "wake up, breakfast, meeting meeting meeting meeting meeting, write up notes in hotel room, dinner, do e-mails, sleep". It can be really interesting professionally, but there's usually not a lot of time to wander around and play tourist.
And then there's the family. Claudia has things down to a routine, but there's no way to gild it: being a single parent of four small children for two or three weeks at a time is hard. It's just wearing, mentally and physically. And while the kids are used to Daddy being away, they still tend to get really wiggly-squirrelly for a couple of days after I leave, then again after I get back.
This is not to complain! I have work, and there are some parts of my life that are really quite pleasant. (Most obviously, I'm getting way more time with my kids than I would if I were working full time.) It's just... a little complicated, is all.
Anyway. So what short-term work is out there right now?
Burkina Faso. This would have been a very interesting job in one of the more obscure corners of Africa. It would have involved at least 50 days of work including at least two trips to Burkina. I bid on it as part of a team; alas, USAID decided to give the bid to someone else.
Uganda. Two and a half weeks in country, probably starting June 12. Total length of assignment is unclear. If I just do my own piece of the report, total 20 days of work. If I do more editing and integration work, could be more. That's what happened with Tanzania -- started out as 20 days, ended up as 33 because editing ten different consultants' work into a single report turned out to be such an awful job that nobody else wanted it. N.B., I was fine with that, and I'd be fine with it here. This would be my second trip to Uganda.
Tanzania. Might be a day or two of work left on this, though probably not.
Macedonia. Between four and six days of work coming up in June, including a short trip to Skopje in early June.
Congo. Would be in August or September. 20-30 days including a couple of weeks in country. About a 50-50 chance.
Kosovo. A couple of weeks of work later this year. I'm on a bid. We shall see.
Liberia. Similar to Congo, except lower odds -- maybe 10%? The issue is that it's a USAID contract, and the USAID mission there seems to be blowing hot and cold. That's very common, but the funds involved are FY 2010, which means all work would have to be done and charged by September 30. So they'd have to do the necessary groundwork to say "yes, definitely" no later than mid-June, and right now that looks unlikely.
Kazakhstan. This would be many weeks of work, about 50 days spread over a year or so. It's a bid, with an Italian company. It would be great, but for various reasons I'm not too hopeful about this one.
...hm. Part of the reason for a post like this is to make a snapshot. Another part, though, is to put stuff down for my own benefit. And looking at that list, I realize I need to go chase up more work. I've been hoping one of the long-term jobs from the last post comes through, and I think that's been making me lax. But I'll feel pretty stupid if I hit "send" on Uganda sometime in early July, then look up and realize there's nothing else in the hopper.
Anyway, that's probably enough about that. Next up, astronomy or gardening or some such.