Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Privilege of Doing Nothing

NOTE: I found this post supremely uninteresting, but hey, that's what happens when you write when you have nothing going on in your life to write about. It's either this or just stop writing like I did for about a month (as some of you kindly pointed out to me). So... yeah. Damned if you do and stuff.

When you're working hard for the money (so hard for it honey) free time is a rare commodity. Oh, to have free time", you say to yourself. "What I would do with it... I would sail the oceans, I would write a symphony, I would find and create meaning in ways I'd never imagined for myself."

And by that, what you really mean is you're going to sit around getting fat and surfing the internet.

Take this weekend, for example. I work almost every Saturday, but even with that egregious injustice I still had an entire day and a half to myself, free of work and all the heinous people and situations that arise there. "This'll be great", I figured. "I'll actually get to spend time with people who make me happy, I'll get to work on that screenplay and use the creative part of my brain. I HAVE SO MUCH TIME!" As you might have guessed, it is now Sunday night and I did no such thing. The small free time I'd built up was extinguished with the ease of blowing out a candle.

Where did it go? What did I do with it? I remember eating a sleeve and a half of almonette cookies, so that definitely happened. And I vaguely recall getting into an argument with one of the cats. The rest of it... like, there wasn't even TV on for me to watch. Normally I burn through most of my time trying to catch up on my TV, but I'm reasonably confident that this was not the case this weekend. What did I do?

What must have happened is that I fell into an internet abyss, refreshing Twitter and Facebook and going from article to article, video to video. Honestly guys, I genuinely don't remember if that's what happened, but I'm going to go ahead and guess since my free time was apparently sucked into a black hole.

My two hopes for the weekend: a) socializing and b) writing? Fail. My friend did text me about going to her friend's birthday on Saturday, but I declined. This would have entailed having to dress up*, a half hour bus ride to Wicker Park, having to pay for alcohol**, going to loud, crowded bars where I'm only going to know like three people anyway and pretending like I'm an extrovert, AND a cab ride home. In short, this was not going to happen. I'm an eighty year old man inside the body of a twenty(ish) year old one - this sounded just. totally. exhausting. I'm burnt out all the time, and this sounded like some major exertion for very little in return.

*'dress up' for me means putting the most minimal effort into trying to look halfway decent
**which as we've established I don't even like all that much

And working on that screenplay? Nope. Didn't do a damn thing. I feel really guilty about it too... I feel like I'm wasting my life, spending every precious second not doing anything meaningful or worthwhile. This morning, I remember getting up, eating lunch, and getting on the computer. It was roughly noon. "This is great... I have eight whole hours until The Good Wife is on, I'll get so much done." And now it's 10:30 and I didn't even make a dent. What's wrong with me?

Is this what working people strive for? Theoretically, you work and you work and you work so you can treat yourself, so you can have the kind of things you want to have. Does this mean what I want is to do nothing? Am I working so I can have the luxury of not working? At a glance, this seems to me to be... how do you say? Ah yes, completely fucking insane. It means all that crap and sweat and inanity is all done in the name of me laying around getting fatter? Really? This was what it was all for? That's why I put up with rude people and stress all day? This is the meaning of life and work? This is what deep down, I really want? Is to be lazy and let my creativity wither away? Now call me crazy... it doesn't really seem worth it.

Maybe for other people, they enjoy their work; they make meaning with their work. And maybe when I'm doing that someday, it'll make sense to do nothing with my free time. After all, if I'm writing at work, I don't have to write when I come home; it's already done! So I can laze around guilt-free knowing I did something worthwhile. That will be a fine day.

But today is not that day.

However, I'd like to point out something I'd forgotten, which is that there is a joy in doing nothing. Maybe it's not just laziness - when you work six days a week, there's a childlike glee in having nothing to do all day. I think I'm definitely selling doing nothing way short, because come on... you know it's fun; I have to admit it. So if it's that glee I'm chasing... and not simply me carving out time to waste away - then it ain't so bad.

Besides, I sat down and wrote this little ditty out? So that's something.

But seriously, screenplay next weekend. This time I mean it?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

In Which the Author Exposes His Criminal Side

If and when you were to meet me, you'd probably assume I'm not a dangerous guy. Too skinny and muscle-less to be at all physically intimidating, too self-conscious and self-deprecating to be threatening with my personality.

That, my friends, is where you would be wrong. You see, I have a darkness in me - a rebellious side, something I can't control or suppress. I have a hunger for crime that must be sated, and only one thing will quench it's thirst*...

...I must steal food from the office kitchen. 

Oh yes.

*I mixed my metaphors, going from hunger to thirst but I ended up liking it so SHUT UP ABOUT IT

Before you condemn me, listen up; I'm not stealing any individual co-worker's lunch or anything. I may be a superhardcorerebel* but I'm not an asshole. The food I am stealing is communal food; the office provides food for everyone to share. Technically, since the food is for everyone, I'm not even actually stealing. BUT IT FEELS LIKE I AM, and that, dear readers, is a thrill.

*Listen, I'm way bad, okay? I got a detention one time - that's where the middle school boys get separated from the middle school men (who are also boys)

The office caters in lunch on Mondays, which is, granted, incredibly generous. My goal: make that food last me through at least Wednesday. Last week we had Jimmy John's, and a pile of sandwiches were laid out across the kitchen countertop. One for lunch, sure. And now that my work scheduled me without asking to work until seven every night, I think the very least they can do to apologize for their general heinousness is buy me dinner as well. So another sandwich it is.

Now here's where the game gets fun. See, by this point, there's sandwiches left in the fridge - but not enough for everyone to have one for lunch the next day. Someone's going to get to eat them... it might as well be me, nay, it should be me, since I appreciate free food like no other. GOD I LOVE FREE FOOD*. 

*My freshman year of college, my cousin would always ask me to swipe her into the dorm dining hall so she could eat the food there; she was always so excited when I did this, which I couldn't comprehend. It was just cafeteria food! Only later, when I no longer lived in a dorm, did I truly understand the magnitude of a free-for-all buffet. I had a freshman friend of mine bring me into the dining hall several nights a week, taking plate after plate of hot food. So. Satisfying. Guys, food is the best. Food is way better than everything, WAY better than sex. 

(My friend came back from Europe and told me that whenever she and her friends met people on their travels, they would ask a simple question that ALWAYS led to heated debate, and defined what kind of person you were down to the core of your very being - if you had to give up one of these two things FOR LIFE and keep only one, which would you keep: cheese or oral sex? Um, CHEESE, is that even a question?! Ossers versus cheesers, as they referred to it: the debate that defines a generation.)

The trick now is to get out of the office with the most sandwiches as possible without letting anyone notice, because while technically I'm not doing anything wrong, it's pretty tacky and classless. Very me. So it becomes a little challenge, a thrill to spice up my day. I slip a Jimmy John's up my sleeve or hide it behind folders and quickly get it over to my backpack. I've now banked one sandwich*. This is only the beginning. I leave that sandwich in my fridge at home, then take one out of the fridge "for lunch" the next day, but instead place it in my bag. Then, at lunchtime, I take another from the fridge. I just banked two more sandwiches. I'll eat free Jimmy John's until Thursday.

*remember to say "BANK" when you get your sandwich or you could end up being The Weakest Link

There are more opportunities. On Fridays, the higher-ups get a bunch of desserts catered in from a bakery... these are delicious, hot-ticket items. Once they finish their meeting, the leftovers remain on the conference table, and we underlings fend for ourselves trying to get to them first. These missions are especially dangerous, because it's in full view of the office, and I don't want anyone to see me taking a brownie, pecan bar, AND a miniature bundt cake (see above, re: tacky and classless). So you have to be lightning quick... you need to just act like you're perusing, maybe you're not really hungry.... then BAM, grab as much as you can, quickly wrap it in a paper towel so it looks like you took just one, and then get it back to your bag to eat at home at your leisure. You could be caught at any moment... but if you're cunning, you won't be.

But that's not all! I've managed to get out of the office with hot peppers, pizza, entire trays of chinese food, and of course, there's that crystalline moment when you take a bottle of cholula from work. It's the simple things in life you treasure.

But let's examine this phenomenon: why does it give me such a rush? Well, the first thing I should consider is that I might be a kleptomaniac. I doubt it though, since I don't shoplift... much.* So what else could be driving this insane, pulse-pounding need to take free food? I think my love of free food meets this desire to rebel, to stick it to the man. "You're gonna treat me like shit? Well I'm not going to take it lying down! I'm going to take it home with me in a container!" I feel like since I can't speak out, I stand up for myself in other ways. Wonderful, tasty food ways.

*no but actually I don't shoplift

It's like the other day, when one of my bosses spoke to me with such rude condescension. Did I mention I love being spoken to like I'm an idiot?* It happens all the time. Two days ago, a not-so-nice lady acted like I was a moron for asking her if she wanted to take a call that was for her. She responded to me like I was an idiot child. Do I get to yell back at her**? To I get to call her out for being rude? Nope. But she'll pay... oh yes, she'll pay.

In brownies.

*no but actually I don't like being spoken to like an idiot
**In my head I imagined screaming at her, "I TEST VERY HIGHLY!" and running away