It is 2:34 p.m. and I am in my pajamas with my hair lookin' pretty. I certainly hope Hugh Jackman became an Avon lady and knocks on the door today.

I'm BUSY. Doing HOLIDAY things. What do you want from me? But I also took time out to crown a new Commenter of the Week, and you will stitch up your sides when you get the funny, funny pun I made right there.

Ma Ingalls didn't like puns. Did you know that? Have you ever seen a picture of the real Ma Ingalls? You know how the one on the TV show was all pretty and smiley? Yeah. Not so much with the real one. And what buck teeth? She could often be found eating corn on the cob through a mail slot.

Because mail slots were so common out on the Dakota prairies.

So, hey, I got an email from a faithful reader yesterday who wanted to know about becoming an at-home proofreader, and since I get this query a lot, I thought I would address it here in a post, and then from now on when people ask me, I could just say, "Please see my post from December 20, 2008" and with my luck some distant relative of Caroline Ingalls will tune in and get really offended.

But really. She came in handy during logging time, Ma Ingalls did. Girlfriend had some choppers.

So, I didn't set out to become a proofreader, first of all. I had no career ambitions whatsoever. The only thing I ever wanted, ever, from about age 12, was to get the SAM HILL out of Saginaw, Michigan, where I fit in about as well as Ma Ingalls' uppers (okay, I will get over it), and move to a big city and live in some swank old apartment with big windows and have cool friends and go to trendy clubs. The job part was always nebulous, but in my mind I got to wear pink pumps to work.

And you know I pretty much achieved that goal? Except by the time I got to Seattle in 1992, pink pumps were tres outre. But I wore a lot of angry, thick-soled black boots.

Anyway, I had thought I wanted to be a public relations person, but my first real job outside of college was so nightmarish that I got totally traumatized by PR. I got to Seattle and on one of my first days went downtown and opened a checking account, got to talking with the banker there, and immediately got a job on the 12th floor of the bank building, as a receptionist. I took the job because (a) it was there, (b) the building was really pretty, (c) the view of the water from my desk was fabulous, (d) the people I worked with were hilarious and (e) there was a bar on the first floor and we all went to it every single night after work.

Have I mentioned I have no career ambitions whatsoever, really?

And here's the thing. Turns out? I LOVED LOVED LOVED being a receptionist. Like bartending, which I also did, everyone has to walk in and focus on you. Hello! Also, your job is to talk to people all day. Plus, in Seattle, there are these bike messenger boys who deliver things to offices, and they all had long hair and really athletic bodies, and who do you think dated every single straight messenger boy in town? Was it what-career-angry-black-boots-receptionist-bar-hopper, over here?

So I am sorry to tell you that I was a receptionist in Seattle for, oh, FOUR YEARS until I started dating Marvin and he said, "What are you doing? You have a degree IN ENGLISH." So when I moved to LA he basically made me become a proofreader, which I did by applying for a job and taking their proofreading test and apparently I passed it. The end.

So that's the story. I didn't start proofing at home until I had worked full time as a proofreader for two years, and even then I still worked full time and then did extra work at night and on weekends. I think it'd be hard to get someone to trust you to proof their stuff if you haven't been a full-time proofer before.

But let's say you have, or you have incorporated proofing into your current job. How can you find at-home work? Here is some of the stuff I have done. Go on Craig's List. If you work anywhere near a big city, they sometimes advertise for freelance proofreaders and copy editors. If anyone offers to pay you 8 dollars an hour, write them and tell them they are horrid people to expect you to do all that work for that small of an amount. Never, ever work for $8 an hour. You will kick yourself. Proofing is hard, tedious, and did I mention hard?

I have had people offer me everything from 25 cents a page to $100 an hour. It depends on who is hiring you and the kind of work it is. Court reporters are often looking for proofreaders — not all of them work in courtrooms; some of them go to offices and take depositions. They have to keep what everyone says verbatim, but you look for spelling errors, things like the reporter using the wrong their/they're/there or something. In 1999 in LA, they were paying 25 cents a page for people to proof their work, but if you find a court reporter who works five days a week? That is steady employment, right there.

Try Monster and other big hiring sites, as well. You never know when they will advertise for freelance proofers. Usually what it takes is you passing a company's proofreading test. And of course temporary agencies may hire you, but you will not work at home at first, you will go to companies as a temp and perhaps later you can start working at home as those companies come to trust you.

I worked full time from home for four years and I made about half what I do now. But I didn't have to get dressed, or drive anywhere, or eat lunches out, or do any dry cleaning or haul any dog's blonde arse to day care. So it really wasn't bad, moneywise. Some people might get lonely. I had a very close relationship with LaTonya, our mail lady. We still exchange Christmas cards.

I went back to work when Marvin became a teacher, to supplement our income. I have to tell you that those four years at home were the happiest in my career, other than that receptionist job with the bar on the first floor. So if you can do it, do it. But if you are thinking you can proofread with seven kids running around, you absolutely cannot. I have to close myself up in a room and all I have are pets and one husband. You need absolute focus to proofread, no matter who you are. So keep that in mind.

I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Hey, did I mention Caroline Ingalls had a bit of an overbite?

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At one point, I was sort of hot, in a "she's 27 and probably a 7" kind of a way. Now I'm old and have to develop a charming personality. Guess how that's going.

29 thoughts on “SAHP”

  1. I agree that Michael Landon was cute, but I thought Pernell Roberts, who played Adam, was sexy. Given a choice, I’ll go with sexy.


  2. it has always been my dream in life to date a bike messenger guy. really. it’s even on my list of things to do before I die. they’re just such hotties. too bad I got married to a non-bike messenger guy and my dream is practically ruined. he does ride a bike, however, and he’s pretty hot. but it’s just not quite the same.


  3. Oh my. The post had me rolling and now the comments have tears streaming down my face. I’m about to go out shopping (Yes, it’s 5 below, about 15 below with wind chill and YES, I realize it is the SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS) but first I need to check picture of Ma Ingalls.


  4. Dear Bell,
    Back pain is not listed, but achiness is, which the wheel says could be SARS.
    And Bonnie,
    I would not invest in any style book, particularly the $55 Chicago, until you work for someone and they make you get one. Every company uses a different style. Plus, no one sticks with the style guide. So irritating. Yes, it’s not Chicago style, but here we spell it “haus.” You have no idea how hard it is to be me.
    Not that Chicago addresses how to spell “house.” It’s kind of a given.
    Oh, and Tee,
    Tallulah is a different dog. It’s like they gave us another, much calmer dog, by accident one night. Well, she’s humping Winston as I write this. But generally she’s much calmer.
    Oh, and Paula FROM NY DAMMIT!
    When I was a receptionist I put a moratorium on “good morning.” I got sick of having to say it 40 times when each person walked in, so I told them they could say it to me, but I wasn’t saying it back. Also, I used to point a pen at the spinny thing that held everyone’s messages? And wherever it stopped that day? That was the person I got to abuse all day. I think they were glad when I left. I know they told me they were freaked out when the new receptionist said, “Good morning!”


  5. What did Marvin do before he became a teacher?
    LOVE that wheel of misfortune. Should we write in with a symptom and you tell us what we are dying from? I can report some lower back pain. How long do I have?


  6. Thanks for the info, June, about proofreading. Do you suggest purchasing the Chicago Manual? (Is that what it’s called?)


  7. Proofreading can be very hard. I have done some of that in some of my administrative positions I held during my 37 years of working. Receptionist can be a really fun job. Speaking of blond dog, how’s she doing in day care?


  8. Back when you were dreaming of wearing pumps to the office I was trying to find someway to supplement my military husbands pay. I was a stay at home mom and my career had always been in Nursing Home management. I had no background in proof reading. This was long before Al Gore invented the internet. I answered an ad in the green sheets in San Diego. They sent me historical novels and I had to mark them up then mail them back. By the time I got them they had so many red marks on them they looked as if they had been stuck like a pig. I would proof them and use my own color grease pencil and send them back and then they would send it on to someone else and pay them 10cents a page. (Hey I said it was a long time ago.) That is what I did for four years and I loved it. I read some pretty bad novels and I read some pretty good ones too.


  9. Wow Ashley…small world. June got out of Saginaw (Draginaw) but, i didn’t. 😦 My niece goes to SVSU also.
    June, you brought up Ma Ingalls and “Pretty” teeth. Maybe her Tv character didn’t match her dentally but, her Tv daughter had some scary teeth as we discussed before. They were bein’ pretty! Sometimes viewing Half-Pint’s teeth made me think Walnut Grove really could have used a Dentist.


  10. Wow Ashley…small world. June got out of Saginaw (Draginaw) but, i didn’t. 😦 My niece goes to SVSU also.
    June, you brought up Ma Ingalls and “Pretty” teeth. Maybe her Tv character didn’t match her dentally but, her Tv daughter had some scary teeth as we discussed before. They were bein’ pretty! Sometimes viewing Half-Pint’s teeth made me think Walnut Grove really could have used a Dentist.


  11. Wow Ashley…small world. June got out of Saginaw (Draginaw) but, i didn’t. 😦 My niece goes to SVSU also.
    June, you brought up Ma Ingalls and “Pretty” teeth. Maybe her Tv character didn’t match her dentally but, her Tv daughter had some scary teeth as we discussed before. They were bein’ pretty! Sometimes viewing Half-Pint’s teeth made me think Walnut Grove really could have used a Dentist.


  12. OH, how I wish you were my receptionist. At my old job (law firm) our receptionist was an old curmudgeon we jokingly called Mary Sunshine. She retired and was, unbelievably, replaced by Someone Even More Annoying. At my current job (bank) the receptionist spends the entire day bemoaning the state of her hair. Her hair has not looked one iota different since I have known her and I suspect it resides on a styrofoam head at night. But, you! YOU would be a FUN receptionist! I weep.


  13. Oh yeah, I DO remember the “Is June lying or is Marvin inept” drama. Thanks for clearing that up. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else for fretting.
    Well, I hope you guys are all happy and settled in Greensboro(?) now. Seems like it’s a workable compromise btw LA and TT? (And Michigan, holy mother. We visited grandparents in Cheboygan(sp?) when I was a kid, and all I remember is the snow. Up past the roof).


  14. I am still in my pj’s too, and it’s 3:30p.m. here in Milwaukee. Sometimes you just need to do that..and besides I’m getting Christmas things and house things done too, plus playing with the kit kats. Here’s to pj’s all day!


  15. Rachel, I too was traumatized by that, and try not to think about it. I don’t think I’d have liked Rose much.
    And What About Mom, let me lay it out for you. Marvin got his teaching credential in 2006 and was looking for jobs in LA. Remember that drama? And he could never find a teaching job in LA? And I used to get irked because people would say, “But they’re DYING for teachers!” and I always wondered, are they implying that I’m lying or that Marvin is inept?
    Anyway, so I got a “real” job in LA thinking Marvin would teach there and then he didn’t. The job he quit there, before we moved to Tiny Town, was not a teaching job.


  16. I think that being a receptionist would totally rock. I’m imagining putting lots of thought into the contents of my candy dish (a la Pam from The Office), thinking up clever ways to greet people that will leave them puzzled throughout the day, flirting with cute delivery boys and making it my daily mission to make everyone I talk to SMILE. SMILE BIG. Aside from the no dollars an hour, I could see that being a totally satisfying job.
    When I reread all the Little House books last year I spent some time reading about the family. Aside from being unfortunate looking, there is a lot of speculation that Laura didn’t even write those books, that it was her daughter Rose. This kept me up for DAYS I was so crushed by the thought. Painful memories…


  17. “Eating corn on a cob through a mail slot”. Guffaw!!! Loved it!!!
    Of course now I’m busy googling photos of the real Caroline Ingalls. I think you should post your favorite. 🙂


  18. Oh, and the funny parts of this post were REALLY funny. And the informative parts were extremely informative. I didn’t know you had it in you to play the straight man for that long June. Date, yes? Play, no.


  19. Well, since I’ve been stalking you for almost two years now, I do have a timeline/congruity question for you.
    I thought when you lived in LA right before Marvin quit his job and you moved to TT that you were always writing about the traffic and an office? So was that when you went back to working in an office? But didn’t you move to TT right after Marvin quit his job?
    So confused.


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