Corporate Jobs & Writers Block
It is Wednesday night, and I’m wondering how I might write a new blog before Thursday. I know I do not “need” to write a new blog, but I’ve set an intention to publish a blog every Thursday and Sunday, come hell or high water (note to self: what is the origin of the phrase “come hell or high water?” it seems extraordinarily biblical, but what do I know? The pope said Hell isn’t real, or rather, someone said that the pope said Hell isn't real, and I prefer to believe that, for no other reason than I wouldn’t wish eternal damnation on anyone, primarily myself.)
“Today’s blog will be about X, Y, and Z.” I think to myself. Expect I don’t know what A is, much less what X is. People always say, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” but I’m not sure I agree with this pedagogy. (Note to self: identify the origin of the term “fake it ‘til you make it.” This seems like bad advice written by a self-proclaimed personal development coach who hosts expensive weekend retreats in a hut in the desert.)
The intention to write two blogs a week is either incredibly impressive or incredibly stupid, depending on your perspective. From my point of view, which happens to be the most unforgiving point of view, this intention feels like a really bad idea painted over with good intentions. Remember the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun, despite warnings from his father? He only saw the sun and didn’t feel the heat. I only see the good, and never fully realize the potential hazard of inflicting even more structure onto my already structured life.
Often, magazines or bloggers or newspapers will publish “day in the life” articles about interesting or famous people (interesting people are not always famous, and vice versa, but I have a feeling you already knew that). A day in my life goes something like:
5:30 am, my alarm goes off and I hit snooze
5:35 am, my alarm goes off again, and I hit snooze once more. By this time, Chub Chub (my cat) has risen and sits with his face two inches from mine as if the sheer power of his gaze is enough to waken me. He wants food, and he wants in now.
5:40 am I succumb to the inevitable and roll out of bed, dislodging earplugs and my retainer and feeling my way to the sink, where I pluck contacts out of watery solution and place them in my eyes. I dress myself, feed the Chubs, locate my headphones and head outside to run.
7:30 am After finishing my morning romp I head to the shower, cleansing my hair, then my body, then my face. I dry myself in the opposite manner and dress myself for work. Blazers are good. Sometimes a dress if I’m feeling inconvenient. Most days, I don’t think twice about my clothing because there are so many other interesting things to think about, corporate dress codes be damned.
7:50 am I consume two slices of sourdough bread topped with peanut butter and bananas. I drink one cup of coffee and pour 3 more into a tumbler to take to work. I listen to a podcast (the Guilty Feminist, Rich Roll, the Skinny Confidential, the Art of Charm) as I brush my teeth, do my makeup, and spray unidentifiable products into my lengthening hair, at a complete and utter loss at how to manage my growing locks.
8:25 am I am out the door, lunch and laptop in my bookbag and a tumbler of coffee in hand. I sing along to the radio if I know the songs, and float through traffic on autopilot. Sometimes a friend calls me, and we chat about anything and everything under the sun, or near the sun if you’re Icarus.
9 am I am at my desk in my office on the second floor of a corporate building in Santa Ana, California. The first thing I do every morning is respond to emails. I write grants, reports for those grants, letters, and hundreds of emails. I call people who don’t want me to call them, and some who do. I leave voicemails and gather data and do research and write all day, documenting each small action in an online system so someone, somewhere can qualitatively analyze my work.
12 pm I eat lunch at my desk, despite all the women’s magazines telling me not to. Damn them and their unrealistic expectations of a female’s workday. I spend all afternoon doing the same things I did all morning, because this is America and office hours are office hours.
5 pm I leave my desk in my office on the second floor of a corporate building in Santa Ana, California. Sometimes, I drive home. Sometimes, I drive to a running group or a nearby yoga class. Sometimes I drive to bars or restaurants or coffee shops or theaters. Sometimes I drive to the grocery store for organic romaine lettuce and tofu and Yukon potatoes. There is so much time between 5 pm and bedtime. Often, I spend these hours writing, talking on the phone with my parents or grandparents, exercising, or socializing. Sometimes, I fill my weeknight evenings to the brim so as not to feel lonely. By the time Friday night rolls around I want nothing more than to take a warm bath, read a novel, and go to bed exquisitely early. I realize I am privileged to have a job and a home and a car that allow me such frivolities as driving to the grocery store to purchase one, organic, item. Or, to buy expensive running gear to support my hobby.
10 pm I am curled up in bed with Chub Chub, reading a book (currently Atlas Shrugged) and trying not to fall asleep until I finish the current chapter. There are so many words I haven’t read. Sometimes this is daunting. Like Aristotle said, “The more I know, the more I don’t know.”
10:30 pm I turn out the lights and crawl under my large, warm, black and white duvet, where I think myriad thoughts until falling into a deep sleep for 6-8 hours until I wake up and do it all over again.
Of course, every day is not so structured or similar. There are times when I wish I had more freedom and times I am grateful for the loose structure of a 9-5 job, the comfort of my desk in my office on the second floor of a corporate building in Santa Ana, California. There are moments I crave discomfort or disorder, yet remain tied to my computer, inputting my outputs to prove to someone, somewhere, that I’m a good employee, worthy of the annual 2% pay increase and a hard-enough worker to warrant a bonus. An asset to the team. A hard worker, a team player, easy to work with, pleasant to be around, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Sometimes, when I leave my desk in my office on the second floor of a corporate building in Santa Ana, California, I want to laugh and tell crude jokes and run around in circles. I want to smile a real smile and have genuine fun because work is not fun. I want to lay in a floaty in a giant empty pool and sip sparkling water out of a huge glass mug and not say a word to anyone. Sometimes, I want to watch a sad movie, roast some brussel sprouts, or write a poem. Often after work I do more work, under the feeble impression that if I work hard enough now, my future will be filled with more laughter and fewer hours beneath incandescent bulbs, slowly developing carpal tunnel and re-editing things someone else has already edited. If it is insanity to do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, it is insanity to develop carpal tunnel doing work for someone else.
When I first entered the dizzying hamster wheel of the 9-5 corporate world, I thought I had made it. I had not made anything, and in fact, I made very little money. So little that I spent my spare time finding new, creative ways to earn a spare dollar. Babysitting twins. Freelance writing gigs. Dog sitting through Rover. Working an odd catering event. If there is one thing I know how to do, it is work. If there is one thing I know does not guarantee happiness or even success, it is also work. I started this blog because I am writer, a "poet at heart’" as I wrote in a my seventh grade journal. The nice thing about writing, or about poetry, is that it doesn’t have to be structured. There is no great takeaway from this post, other than to say that the practice of writing is (sometimes) more important than what is written.