DATE: 4/20/2004 07:27:00 PM
All We Need Is Just a Little Patience
I live way too much in my own head. I'm like one of those cat ladies who nests among the filth and urine stench in a slum tenement, talking to herself, except the crumbling building is my skull and the nicotine-stained walls and filthy carpet inside are my brain.
I have no idea what anyone thinks of me. Half the time I'm convinced the guys at work hate my guts, half the time I think they like me fine. Half the time I think people are looking at me funny, the other half I know they're just thinking about their own problems, or probably wondering if I'm the one looking askance.
I go days sometimes before I realize I haven't actually had a substantial conversation with anyone.
I am alone.
It's not that I mind solitude so much as I often lose all perspective on myself. A typical day consists of waking up later than I planned, getting out of the house earlier than I planned, then still getting stuck in traffic on the way to work, and 90 percent of the time I'm on time anyway, but I still wonder if being on time really means being late, and why can't I be one of those go-getter people about whom other people say later, "You couldn't beat her to the office. She really busted her ass." The other ten percent I'm sure the first thing George is going to say is, "That's it. You're fired," like Donald Trump. And then he doesn't but all I think about that is, whew, dodged the bullet that time. And you must absolutely make sure to get here an hour earlier tomorrow.
Then the next morning, it's exactly, precisely the same.
But what's the reality here? Is my supervisor thinking of firing me? Is he keeping track? Or is it not really that big a deal? Does anyone really think I'm a better person if I'm at work early all the time? Seriously. Really. What is reality in this situation? Not a clue. I only know what I think, and that's not much help at all.
I set goals for myself in the morning. Get x amount of quotes and x amount of calls done, make sure the fax list is cleared, attend to all the side projects. By lunchtime I am never, ever, ever where I wanted to be. Then I start picking on myself again. Was it really necessary to update the blog? Couldn't I have saved the email for later? Why did I spend fifteen whole minutes straightening up my marketing file? I need to be more efficient with my time. I need to be one of those people about whom other people say later, "She was nose to the grindstone 110 percent. That girl never slacked off. I knew she was going to be somebody."
That's what I want. I want to Be Somebody. The other week I went out to lunch with some ladies from work and one of them said to me, completely serious, "I don't think there's any reason to be stressed out about work, ever."
I can't relate to that at all.
Worrying, the Wear Sunscreen guy says, is about as effective as chewing gum to solve an algebra problem. But. But. It's almost a superstition with me--like if I'm not worrying, something's coming to blindside me with devastating force. So I'm always ready. Always thinking. Always prepared and expecting the worst.
It gets kind of tiring.
So then I go to lunch and my goal then is to use that time wisely--writing. I tote along my notebook and sit in the car and eat and read. And I never, ever, ever get as far as I would like, and what I write is never, ever good enough. It just plain isn't enough. Ever.
So I come back and say I'm ten minutes late coming back from lunch because I get distracted writing. Then it's a repeat of the morning's anxiety. Why can't I be more punctual? Why can't I just plain be a better fucking person?
So I work the afternoon, and by the end of the day it's a choice between staying late and being a go-getter at the day job or leaving on time and going on to the second day within my day, which is when I try to stuff all the rest of my ambitions into the rest of my waking hours. Which is when the real problem surfaces, which is that I am not in the right line of work, which is, of course, tough titties, but what it means for me is that I have to cram everything else I want to do with each day and my life in general into the time surrounding work, which, if you factor in traffic, leaves about 13 hours per 24-hour period to divide among sleep and accomplishment.
Too bad I have about 12 hours of things I want to do.
I want to go to the library and do more research for the story I'm going to submit to the Red Sox fiction collection. I need to find out more about the 1975 World Series. I need to know more about 1986. I also have to go to the library and do research for a marketing project they've given me at work, which is both a good and a bad thing because they're giving me responsibility which must mean they're not as close to firing me as I think they are, and maybe this is a way to grow more attached and fulfilled by this work, but at the same time I resent it because it eats into my time outside of work even more.
But then there's laundry to do. And I haven't updated my paper journal in forever. And books I want to read. And poetry to edit and I have to fix my computer. And what is the world coming to when a hardworking person can't sit down and watch a ballgame?
Who am I? Where am I going? I'm on this gerbil wheel, here, and it's like I think running harder is going to get me off. And sometimes, as my favorite book puts it, "you get the sense that you may peel off the rock, and then you get the sense that your sense that you may peel off the rock may cause you to peel off the rock."
Never mind that I have to go apartment hunting. And I worry about my health. I need to lose weight. I need to eat better. No more Burger King in the car hunched over my notebook. I need to start making my own lunch. Save money. And I never talk to my boyfriend during the week and I need to be a better friend and more in touch with so many people. And the checkbook--I still can't seem to balance that stupid thing.
But I'm still not writing enough. I'm not doing enough stories for the Sun, and when I do a story four nights a week then I lose ground on my creative writing. And then all the sleep deprivation makes me less productive at work, which makes me even more anxious that I'm going to get fired.
If I didn't need to sleep, this would all be solved. I could work eight hours, with an hour lunch break and an hour on either side for the commute, but then I could get home, eat dinner, and just work all night. Then I could simply stand up from the computer, or desk, and work out, maybe, before getting in the car and simply driving to work.
Why sleep, anyway? Why is it necessary? I simply fail to understand why it's evolutionarily necessary that an organism lay unconscious for at least eight hours per twenty-four hour period. Even on the plains of the Serengeti, wouldn't not needing sleep be an advantage? Wouldn't a lioness who could hunt 24 hours be just the queen of the jungle? I don't get it. Sleep is stupid. I don't enjoy it that much, and it is such a waste of time.