Sunday, January 23, 2011

that i am listening to mellon collie right now should say a lot

I am trying to work through some issues concerning what my life currently is, what Life in the capital L sense is (or, more truthfully, what I believe it to be, or want it to be, or am told by poets and writers it should be), and whether or not my current life fits in that broader idea about what life should be. Specifically I am thinking about dreams and aspirations and how they fade for so many people, how lived reality and the day-to-day activities that soon become part of a working person's life trying to pay their bills sometimes runs up against that. I am thinking about aging and careers and supporting myself and growing old. I am thinking that soon I will be 30, that I wanted to be a writer and sometimes tell myself I am and sometimes will even tell people drunk at a bar that that is what I do, and then I think about what I actually am - a person who does very little writing, only really the stuff here you may or may not read on this blog, on this website, that every project, small-scale mind you, that I have set for myself as a goal has fallen by the wayside, never even really gotten started. I am not entirely happy with what I am doing, my job, the thing that pays me money each week, deposits into my bank account each Friday morning, it there by the time I wake up and check my account balance online.

And I want to be doing something else, but really it is very likely that any other job I might get would be another boring job, low-level, that would probably require little of my brain, would require less of my soul, and would have a set of minuses, that though different, would probably be just as annoying as the current set that I stew about sometimes. These days I wonder if at some point, and at what point that is, a person, myself say, essentially throws in the towel, spaces out, and forgets about these things, embraces life as it is rather than stressing that it is not what you thought it would be, not what you believe that it should be.

I have been doing the same job now for over two years. It is a really mindless thing that only involves my ability to tell various people things they want to hear, knowing the right things to say. And at this point, it has become rote. I can hear the full questions from the first words, a question I have heard asked in some many ways so many times before, and I say the answer and transfer them here or bring them this or that, and it is so boring. The problem however is that most jobs are boring. Most jobs do kind of suck. I have worked a lot of them and they have all had big minuses attached to them. And really when I think in the context of past jobs, this one far and away beats them all. It pays nearly twice as much as my last job I had doing copy editing for a magazine.

And it is that, the pay, which is the thing keeping my bound, keeping me in check. That this guest services job in hospitality pays so much more than many of these jobs I see online that interest me really troubles me. There are these jobs doing copy editing and assistant editorial work that I would love to do even though they are usually for boring scientific or medical publishing companies, and I even apply to them despite my doubt about taking a large pay cut, because it is at least something involving words and language and the arranging of text, and yet even these jobs I never hear back from.

These thoughts have really started to intensify in this past week, a lot of factors at play here, all colliding to create an existential crisis, a pre-mid life crisis for your narrator here, a one Mr. Charlie Q. A lot of factors involve time and its quick passing: that a new year just occurred and yet is already almost gone, that time for a new start running out, and that I also have worked at this job for over two years now, the time for changing already long past for a job that I don't want to be doing when I am old. There is also the factor of changing personal relationships, that in the past two months so many of the people I worked with since the hotel opened have all left, that I am feeling left behind and am now working with a large amount of new, younger faces. And more to the point, the thing that brought it all to a head this week, the sense that a change needs to occur now, is that two of the jobs I had applied for within the hotel, both did not work out. One because the position had been eliminated, which was stressful and sad news because it was a job I would have really enjoyed, and the other one because it went to one of my friends who is certainly more qualified for it.

After hearing this news, I had two very lovely talks at work. One of the HR people asked me how I felt about this news and I was really honest with her and we had a nice heart-to-heart talk where I talked about my concerns about adulthood, about falling into a career that you don't necessarily care about, and about life. It was actually amazing and she relayed that she went through much of the same stuff, that she didn't plan on her job, that she still isn't sure what she wants to be doing. It was a really nice human moment and she is going to help me with my resume because I told her that I have to change my life, that I just can't keep doing this same job because it pays well, that I need to be challenging myself and doing something new at least. I am really grateful that she is going to help me with my resume, something that is way beyond the call of her job and actually may even be counter to what her job might be considered to be. It was really nice, almost motherly, advice. She also told me not to leave just for any job, that I should take my time, use this opportunity I have now of an easy, well-paying job to think about what I would like to be doing and to do it, rather than taking any job that comes along, just because it's a new job. She told me to make sure I only left for a job I wanted and a job that paid me well.

The next day my boss wanted to talk with me. He is friends with this lady and she had relayed the gist of our talk to him. I was worried that he would be upset that I had talked openly about wanting to leave and get a new job elsewhere. We walked into this room behind our office and I was a bit tense about what he was going to say, but also happy that I had put this truth out there into the world, that I now needed to make it happen. Instead of a tense talk, I had another really beautiful human moment, so not what I would have expected from this man. I told him the gist of what I had told this other lady. He told me that I shouldn't leave just because I didn't get this one job. He complimented me a lot, which was nice to hear and surprising. I assured him that that was not why I wanted to leave, that I had never intended to work in hospitality, that I needed to do something else. And he told me about his life. He is 36 and told me that it was never what he intended either, that it just happened, telling me the events in his life that brought about his current life, that life just takes you places. And he told me that he didn't love it but that it does pay well. And he said it's a job. You come to work and then you go live your life. I'm not doing justice to either of these moments, but it was the first time I connected with either one of these people in so human a way, where I really got them, saw them as close to me, realized that life is a fucking weird thing, that just because you are not a paid writer, or a professional actor, or in a touring band, that your life is not any less lived, that life is about these themes, about coming to terms with these things, about disappointment, that that's what true art should be about. I mean, surely the narrative we would all like for ourselves is a wildly successful and glamorous one, but when that one doesn't work out, you become more aware that just about getting by, living your life, coming home to someone you love, eating well, delighting in the senses of your body, and enjoying your friends.

The show Party Down really articulated these themes beautifully for me. I am amazed by that show because though it is a really funny show, there is also this undertone of slow-motion tragedy to the thing, because you see these characters who are so much like yourself and they are working in the service industry just like you and just like you are somewhere around the age of 30 and they are at that point in their life where they are having to perhaps resign themselves to not making it, to moving up the catering ladder. There is disappointment and the readjusting of reality. That these caterers all are aiming for success in various artistic fields, are poor now, and all are working parties for the rich and successful in LA just throw this them about success and the desire to make it into stark relief. That this life is filled with images of glitz, of LA and NY, and money and Fake Housewives, and it is expected, these lives for some reason, is what adds to the small little heartbreaks that occur when people readjust their dreams, modify them, put them on hold, to work, to live.

I don't even know! I was supposed to work on my resume this evening to bring in this week to show this lady but instead watched the Jets game and ate Mexican delivery. I am going to LA in a week and I cannot wait to escape this city for a short while and see it from a distance, see it for the small speck it is.

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