Today it’s the weekend. The laundry is unwashed, I haven’t vacuumed in about three months, and there is something I can only describe as guck all over the kitchen floor. The only edible thing in the cupboards is some novelty shaped pasta and a can of mandarin oranges. It all weighs down on me like a happy homemaker death sentence, but I don’t care, because…
I am not at the office! I feel elated and free. Sparkly butterflies are flittering across the vast expanses of my psyche.
The universe is mine. I can read. I can drink wine before lunch. I can add stuff to my Amazon Wish List.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like my job. Most days, I feel like a criminal mastermind for having figured out how to parlay a degree in Creating Writing into a paying job with health benefits and a window view.
But there’s something about the corporate office environment that sort of flattens me. Maybe it’s all the recirculated air, piped up through layers of steel and glass and spray-on insulation. Maybe it’s the fluorescent light that leaks down from the ceiling to give everything that cool overlit tone like the bridge of a spaceship. Or maybe it’s the fact that performing tasks for other people just so I can pay for food and shelter is DESTROYING MY SOUL.
I dunno. It could be any one of those things.
At least there are no meetings today. I don’t like the concept of meetings. It’s too draconian: You will be in this place at this time and do this thing.
(Aside and slightly off-topic, “draconian” is one of my favorite words. In the dictionary of my mind, it means “as commanded by dragons.” When someone complains of “draconian regulations,” I imagine a cruel wyvern overlord adjusting his golden chain mail necktie and raising a polished monocle up to his baleful serpent’s eye as he posts the new lunchroom etiquette rules.)
If they were called “work parties,” now that would be different. I would show up wearing a jaunty hat and I would bring cupcakes. Work party at 3 p.m. to discuss strategic operational tactics regarding initiative #37. See, doesn’t it sound awesome? I’ll bet there will be a DJ.
But “meeting.” Good lord, it’s drab. It smacks of that 1950s aesthetic when everybody thought it was the future but it was still very much the past, wholesome and hokey and hard as Bakelite. A world of slacks and cardigans and hair oil and reams and reams of paper, everything effused with the toxic yet alluring scent of the mimeograph machine.
I feel it every time I sit down in a meeting: the constricting wraparound of the business day, the grippy slice of pantyhose, the smothering cut of an off-the-rack suit. It’s in the air, like the smoke from an entrepreneur’s cigar: it promises career momentum, a rung up on the ladder, a chance at the golden parachute, but all it really does is leave your throat raw.
Work/life balance, what an insulting term. Like it’s some sort of circus act, a great feat of talent and sheer will, just to live through a Monday without taking your own life.
I know it could be worse, same as you. I mean, I’m not a coal miner, and I didn’t just live through the Dust Bowl, and my child isn’t dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
So excuse me for busting on the American Dream as I sit here in an affluent neighborhood of a prosperous city and drink my filtered water as I spy on the world through my broadband connection, but somehow, this just isn’t good enough.
I don’t want it all. I just want a little bit more.
Maybe it’s on Amazon.