why hating work is useful

I was glad to be back to steady work. Steady work is steady money, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean the feeling of loathing that washed over me – here I am again, everything looks the same, everyone is the same, even if they’re not.

I know that’s not really clear, not the way I mean it to be, at least. 

There’s a chance to find yourself in work, especially in work that you dislike. There’s a framework imposed upon you, and you’re forced to create yourself inside it. Now of course I’m not advocating that everyone go out and find soul-crushing employment. Nor am I saying that people who are really really happy with their jobs are missing out on something. I guess what I’m saying – what I’m trying to say, rather – is that there’s a certain unpleasantness inherent in life, like chores. Like wiping runny noses or poopy butts, like bleaching the toilet bowl or cleaning out the bits of half-chewed food at the bottom of the sink. There are those things, then there’s getting terrible news – a teacher is quitting! A parent has decided to find his/herself and has abandoned the rest of the family! The latest guinea pig has gone to heaven and the pet store is going to close in ten minutes! The inspectors are here! 

And in those moments, the terrible as well as the mundane, I learn more about myself (and sometimes those around me) that I ever did meditating, as good and head-clearing as that was, or traveling, as amazing and eye-opening as that was.

So I walked in the door, hung up my car keys and old bag on the same hook, put on the same old name tag, and thought I hate working. Isn’t it great?

 

new spam is the curse of this town

My spam folder isn’t the cheerfully sodden corner it used to be – I am, although it would have previously defied all belief, actually nostalgic thinking of it. The new spam is far too long-winded, definitely rated-G and severely lacking in the ‘dirty imagination’ department. It should probably be styled as new spam! because it’s so terribly positive.

I don’t know if I can adequately convey the completely oppressive nature of it’s technical positivity – well, once when I’d stayed up all night I entertained the director and her accountant with an impromptu sketch of ‘when Mormons go bad’. There was even a dance (energetic but not sexy).

to need a man

“I need a man in my life,” I told Vicki, poking at the green foam in my glass with my straw. Green. Inventive. Her eyes widened. “Oh come on,” I told her, “a guy. You know?”

“You need a man?! Like,” she leaned in closer, “Like your body needs a man? Or like, marriage?”

“Oh my – ” I choked before I could finish. Maybe green was not an indicator of potability. “Is that all that men are good for? I mean, I clarified, I said a ‘guy’, and that’s what I mean – a guy. A friend.” She seemed confused. “To fall in love with slowly?”

“No, when I say a guy I mean just a friend, a dude, a bro. I’m just tired of talking to girls right now.”

“That means me too, doesn’t it?” She frowned. “Did you just drink that whole thing?”

“That’s what I’m talking about! Every time I go out with you and your friends,” I sighed, rephrased. “It just seems whenever I go out with girls I’m told how inadequate I am, we all are, and I’m sick of it because the minute I challenge any of it I’m told I just don’t understand yet, or accused of being anti-girl.”

“What?” She was completely still, watching me.

“I’m tired of hearing about diets, and surgeries, and body modifications, and what this or that article says about when you should biologically reproduce. I don’t want to make the point of my life – why did any of us go to school or do anything other than embroider if it all leads up to this? I don’t want my life to be this one huge search for a ‘wonderful man’ with the right lifestyle it’s just sickening it just . . . My life needs to mean more than a huge diamond one day.”

Vicki looked at me steadily. I was looking down at my folded hands but I could feel her eyes pass over the bridge of my nose, my glasses, the top of my head like a hot searchlight. “You can get a sapphire, you know. They’re beginning to be in style so if you wait to get married it’ll most likely be in vogue by whenever that is. Sapphires are really pretty so you shouldn’t feel badly about not wanting a diamond – ”

“Was there some poisoned well I neglected to drink out of?” I interjected, even though I knew there was no stopping her description of wedding trends.

Or reaching her.

more advice

Why does anyone feel the need to advise me, anyway? Is it because I’m polite? Because they know I’m never going to tell them to get lost, just grit my jaw and look bored and hope that the body language conveys my point.

“Why do you let people burden you with their baggage?” Isolde asked me with a snort. I frowned. “Don’t oink at me – its not something I want happening to me. I’m actually like, kind of torn up about it. Really.” I looked at her feet, propped up on my bench. She looks like a vagabond but the soles of her feet are always clean. “Do you get unsolicited advice?”

“Constantly.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“What do you do about it?”

She sat up and looked at me, annoyed. “I tell them to go fuck themselves.”

“Really?”

“No, not really.” She sighed. “I try to cut them off before they get to the advice part, and if that doesn’t work I try to politely like, hand it off, you know? Like ‘oh that’s nice look at those strawberries’. And if it stilllll doesn’t work I say ‘Well we all have our lives to live, don’t we? And nobody can learn from anyone’s mistakes but her own.’ ”

It actually sounded good to me. “Think I could use that at work?”

“Sure . . . when you want to get super-fired.” She mimed a giant explosion.

payday

It’s payday! I exult to myself, momentarily, until I begin to pay my bills, and then – and then, you know. You know, unless you’re incredibly wealthy or maintained by someone else or are still a child. The terrible sinking feeling of watching it go away, the counting backwards and down until the money is gone or mostly gone, fingers folding into empty fists.

If you do manage to keep one of those fingers straight, to carry a little heap of earnings from one month to the other, the muffler will fall right off your car, or a branch will fall on it, or through your roof, or the door handle will come off in your hand, and that will be the end of the little heap.

sub

I shouldn’t let myself be called in when I’m on supposed vacation. Not even to sub.

I wonder how often the ‘thing that is best for me in the long run’ is also not the textbook-right-and-virtuous thing to do. I really, really wonder.

I guess I’ll wonder forever. I guess the sort of people who wonder and guess about it are the sort of people who keep doing the right thing, and the people who don’t are the ones who, well, don’t.

Are ruthless people really so much happier? Or at the very least, do they have to think of less things, have less white noise in their brains?

recent universe

The funny thing about violence – violence isn’t funny, I think, but somehow the sentence just started that way – the funny thing is how quickly everything changes. One minute I am walking down the street in the sun and air among other human beings and the next I am in a sewer fathoms below, in the dark, and all I can remember doing was walking.

The funny thing is that you’re suddenly in an alternate universe or the sewer analogy but wherever the hell you are it isn’t quite right, it isn’t reality, and somehow no one seems to understand the urgency, the terror, the chokey weird feeling of not being physically safe anymore. The police have these sad, understanding and exhausted eyes that make them look just like bloodhounds, and nice normal people have a tendency to exclaim “That’s crazy!” and follow it quickly with “Tell me more!”

I kept having this fantasy the whole time that someone, anyone, would put a hand on my shoulder and ask me if I were okay, and I could take a long, deep breath and feel a little better, because someone was – oh, I don’t know, reaching to me from the universe I had just inhabited. It wasn’t a fleshed-out fantasy because I knew it wouldn’t happen.

It didn’t.

A lot of people asked, of course. They wanted details, they were surprised it wasn’t at all related to men or romance, as if that’s the only kind of ugly that ever reaches out to touch women; slap-happy boyfriends, jilted stalkers, abusive husbands. But the hand on the shoulder, the kind tone of voice – I’ve seen it before, a long time ago, and it hurts like the memory of a bruise.

targets

I dislike it when my ‘hello, good morning’ is met with “I AM SO BUSY OH MY GOD LOLA YOU HAVE NO IDEA.”

I watch the back turned towards me and briefly superimpose a cartoon bullseye. You know the sort – one of the ones that’s always on the receiving end of arrows with big rubber suction cups for tips.