Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chronicles of a Resident Mover

There may be no greater responsibility for an unemployed friend than to be the resident mover. On the occasion that you come across the week-day move, when all the normal friends are at "work," the jobless friend sure as hell better be there. She just has to be. The obligation is not suggested of the friend--oh, no--but the perk that came with the package of becoming jobless in the first place. It's why I did it. Why I left my job, essentially. To help a friend move ... and more. I did it to have more time for friends, for people who need me or could need me, and for myself who needed me a little, too. I got legitimate work done this morning and I'll do a bit more tonight, but today--today--I could flex my bulging mascles and make a serious dent on the work someone may have had to do alone. It's not all for the other person, either--for me, manual labor is very therapeutic. And I also get a kick out of imagining that we're playing hooky or something and I've just corrupted my friend against the corruptible corporate workosphere. Ha HA! I'm just kidding...I don't really know what that means. All I mean to say is that I enjoy it--helping someone move--for exactly the reason I intended to.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Meetings in Random Places

I was meeting with my tax guy at an undisclosed, central location off of one of the metro stops in suburbia Virgina today when I thought of the strange meetings that must happen all over the city, just like this. People who must meet people, things to discuss over the course of a coffee or lunch, and how much a person's world could expand by taking a more outgoing approach to life. To network, in essence. I'm not naturally one of those people who networks because it's good for the career. I think of the idea of a random meeting with a person I barely know and wonder how low my life has sunk so low as to bring me to this point in my life. You don't have to agree with me. I don't agree with me, most of the time. But you have to wonder if adapting to a world that is a piece of bologna, when you know better, is really the only option a person has. At the moment, I like new conversations. But I didn't. And I wonder if I'm a sell-out or becoming more normal.

I haven't written a lot lately because I've been busy. Not just busy, but overworked, though not in the clear-cut literal sense that you expect from the word "worked." In any case, thanks for still reading this nonsense, if you are still reading it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The boomerang: Dangerous Weapon, Harmless Plaything or Oracle of the Future?

An afternoon with the ol' boomerang yesterday... the heat is unbearable and I refuse to leave the shade until the last minute. One throw, that's it, I'm too hot for this crap. But the boomerang has the power of the potato chip: I can't resist compulsive tendencies after the first bite. My objective: to throw with considerable force 45 degrees into the wind at perfect gradient, then stand still and wait for the glorious moment when it soars right back into my gentle, loving hands, like magic, like the world has meaning and order and symmetry.

Fucking thing never soared back. Alas, life is chaos and destiny is a cruel joke. In the park - as in life - we have no way of knowing what we're going to get when we let go of the boomerang, what plans it has in store, whether this chiseled weapon will return out of love or with the intent to slice off our head. In actuality, it has no intent at all. It's an inanimate object made of wood. Instead, one is forced to ask: Did I intend to slice off my head, deep down inside? I'm embarrassed to say that I kind of feared the boomerang in the past, like my future would be revealed if I touched it or something - I mean, there's quite a bit of potential meaning for a piece of wood that's thrown high in the air, only to return! No crystal balls this time, but I did learn one truth: Some things just won't come back full circle, even if you think you want them to.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alone Again

JBO came back last Sunday - he had been gone for a month - but he left again today, leaving me alone for another 3 weeks. I wonder what I'll do with my time, this time, since something tells me I won't go through the hours of TV and bad chick-flicks again. I'm different. I've changed. I still have a few big tasks to attend to, actually. And my little brother is coming to D.C. next week for his first big trip out of the small town where we were born. Still, three weeks is plenty of time for... life to happen, I guess. Look at all the living that's happened since I went to Buenos Aires in April. And in three-week increments, coincidently. July 15th... it's a lot to look forward to.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fridays Make Me Want to Watch a Movie

I'm guessing that many of you out there have to find a pretty darn good reason to say you've had it with this crazy week, you're spent, it was fun and all... but see ya, I'm heading home to watch a movie. I, of course, without boss or coworkers to answer to, may do so if I so please. After all, I was a champ this week. I got some serious shit done, and so much in fact that my assistant (iPhone) says he can cancel my appointments for the rest of the day. That means I get to lay around and watch a movie this afternoon, guilt-free, in my underwear, thankyouverymuch.

Having a flexible schedule is the custard-cream filling of any freelance existence, and the reason we put up with the epochs of poverty and blows to our fragile self-esteem. In my ex-job, I remember spending hours just staring at my computer, too fried to even move or decide what to do next. I don't know if it's the field I used to work in, a phenomenon of the nonprofit world, or a hiring stipulation of my then-company to work to the point of delirium, but I did it. And so did my friends. We could be found in the building until 7, 8pm... which is to say we were either working too hard or taking too long to get things done.

I can admit that now, in retrospect, because there is a crucial part of understanding personal productivity that comes with working your own gigs on your own schedule: Time is money. No, actually, it's something else: It's easy to do what you love. Or wait, I think it's more that: Many full-timers perform nonsense to fill certain 8-hour days, work like maniacs until midnight on others, and still can't take a goddamn afternoon off once in a while just because they feel like it.

Also, oxygen and sunlight are pretty nice things to have. My health collapsed at one point last year, and I had horrible back pain, headaches, I slept a lot during the weekends, called in sick, and experienced some depression, I think. Nothing was happening in the rest of my life--my life was work. A chiropractor informed me I spent too much time looking at my computer which was just a hair to the right. He gave me a shot of steroids and a prescription for more activity during the day, especially outdoors. Since I needed to be at my desk in case a supervisor came by ("Where were yooou at?" they'd say, with an accusing smile), I didn't take the daily walks I should have and things got worse.

I recently learned that lower-class monkeys who were given the option of high-fat foods overindulged while the leaders, despite being given the same choices, took the healthy, low-calorie snacks. Scientists believed this was a sign of stress eating, since the lower-class monkeys often had to submit to the whims of these rulers, and give up their cozy patch of grass or food on demand. There were no other variables to explain the different eating habits. Just that stress had pushed them to an eating disorder.

I went to see an acupuncturist who undid the damage of the steroid shot and restated that if I didn't get daily activity and fresh air, that I was the one to blame, I had to make the time, and to just do it already. So near the end, I started going for tea, like, 5 times a day and went to the gym at lunch. Telling my boss I had gone for a "walk" was out of the question, but tea and even the gym were things that other workers were doing, so I could do them, too... kind of like the way I've heard people smoke for the guilt-free outdoor breaks.

The kicker is, I went back to work so energized that I was unbelievably productive, and I got out of there at a more reasonable hour as each day went by. So let's see: I was taking breaks during the day, I was leaving work "early"-er than before though still full-time, and I was healthy, happy, and not only finishing my work but coming up with new ideas. Every reason for a boss to hate my guts. If I was not working the same amount or more hours than my boss did, than it was easy to believe that I was not "working hard." I guess this was probably like those monkeys asking for their patch of grass back because they need grass too, you know.

Which brings me to the problem here: Guilt. Worker's guilt runs rampant, it's serious, and it needs to be acknowledged for what it is: Unwarranted, toxic and a contradiction in terms. If you work hard and find a little balance in your life and you become even better at your job, it seems crazy that you should feel bad about it. And you probably don't... Unless someone is telling you should be.

Now, when I feel guilty, it's because I'm slacking, I know it, and I deserve it. Because I say so. So I'll watch a movie this afternoon... and I hope you can, one day, too.