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?
I guess I should say something about why I was gone so long, but am back now. I guess.
Did I write that book, after all? I did. It wasn’t about daycare, remotely. It’s in a drawer, and will probably never see the light of day. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the maturity to handle the aftermath of it being published, but you can think what you like to about my reasons. Everyone always ends up thinking what they want, anyway.
The other day – trite but true – I looked at this page for no reason, passing curiosity, and saw the number of followers had actually grown. I felt a little sorry and a little sad, because even if all those people aren’t waiting for my eventual return, it sort of looks like it.
I wanted to begin with a phrase along the lines of ‘can’t keep a good man down,’ but there doesn’t seem to be a place for it. I wanted to say something short and clean, but –
He crouched to look at the guinea pig. “So that’s Baxter, huh?” I tried to conceal the quick look of shock, but he saw it anyway. “Yes, Lola, some dads can actually still squat,” he smiled. “No, not that, I’m just surprised you know his name,” I said, feeling the colour creeping into my face, starting at my cheekbones. He noticed the blush, motioned towards the cage. “You have a tiny wooden sign with ‘Baxter’ written on it right next to the cage, Lola. I’d have to be much more tired, stressed and old than I actually am to not see it.” I nodded, in the usual way, where more of my head than my face is visual.
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).
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?”
“What do you do about it?”
She sat up and looked at me, annoyed. “I tell them to go fuck themselves.”
“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.
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.
The first time I saw him I thought only that he was very tall. I didn’t feel like meeting new parents – I had the most epically skinned knees from some good idea turned bad, had just returned from the doctor who had stopped just short of pronouncing me the most unmarriageable girl possible, and I don’t like it when only one parent shows up to the interview, especially sans children. They can tell you all they want about their kids as a description, but at the end of the day it can range anywhere from accurate to bullshit to complete delusion.
Anyway, he was tall, and he smiled at me as if we knew each other, so much so that I said “Do I know you?” just as the director asked him “Do you know our Lola?” and he shook his head. No, he didn’t know me, hadn’t met me, mouthed my name like I was a rare fruit. I sighed. I wanted no part of this. He came towards me with his brilliant smile – and neglected to see the plastic ‘gym’ at his feet. He fell head first, completely unprepared, and some little voice began yelling “Splat! Splat!”
I slipped out, still limping slightly. Like I said – I wanted no part of any of it, whatever it was.
I could live on vacation forever – I mean, if there were a way to extend this into a permanent way of life, I would excel at the occupation.
As far as I can tell all it entails is drinking far too much coffee and watching nouvelle vague films. There may be the occasional deep existential thought tornado involved, but nothing more coffee can’t fix.