working for the man every night and day

Last week, in my fit of despair and wretchedness, when I was swooning on the couch, feeling isolated and miserable and poor and just the tiniest bit trapped, I decided that I needed to Make A Change. Maybe I would–no, not exercise. Exercising is hard. Take up a new hobby? I had enough of those, and enough half-finished scarves and quilts and decoupaged…things. Maybe I would get a job at a coffee shop! Awesome people get jobs as baristas–it would be like getting paid a salary to make friends! And I’d get out of the house! And I’d get free coffee! And possibly also pastries.

This vision was so real and possible and true, despite my complete and total lack of coffee shop experience and utter ignorance of how, exactly, a latte is made (these things would work themselves out!) that I immediately pounced on my laptop and started surfing Craigslist, looking for the barista position I knew was out there for me. I was going to be a coffee girl, and it was going to be the start of a hip new lifestyle for me! I already have the tattoos! I’m sure I could pull together the hipster-indie wardrobe, and I’ll get a facial piercing if I have to! I was very excited about my new facial piercing and also the tip jar (and the free pastries). My excitement lasted through a long and fruitless search of every single entry in the craigslist retail job postings, none of which were for coffee shops.



But I knew that it had to be there, because that was the vision I had.
My vision had to come true! It wasn’t a crazy, internal bolt of
ill-thought-out insanity; it had clearly come from outside me, this
idea, and thus was my destiny. Except destiny lied to me, and I was
mad. There weren’t even any bookstore positions open. Sure, if I wanted
to work at Claire’s Accessories, or Limited Too or Footlocker or be a
telemarketer I was totally golden. I did not want to be golden in that
terrible way. It did not seem fair.

I kept poking around the job postings–did anyone want a writer? I bet I
could edit the shit out of something. Maybe someone needed a young, hip
freelancer for a young, hip company full of–something. My imagination,
so vivid just a moment ago, suddenly failed me. Maybe that’s why, when
I saw the advertisement for an advertising agency proofreader, I found
myself clicking on the email address and telling them hi, I have agency experience, and attaching my resume. I sent it, and I thought well,
that was dumb. I don’t want a full-time job. I don’t want a career in
advertising. I am not going to be a copywriter when I grow up. Probably
they won’t call me.

They called me, this morning, and I have got an interview tomorrow. It
turns out there is a dearth of qualified professionals with agency
experience in Utah, and they want me to be Senior, and they want to pay
me X amount of dollars (which is a good amount of dollars for this
market here in the desert) and they want me to know that they’re a
great company with many good qualities and we will be friends.

I don’t want the job, but a part of me–kind of wants the job. The idea
of a routine is suddenly delightful. Coworkers who are not my cat, or
crazy dogs! People to talk with, meet, have drinks after work with.
Gossip. A steady paycheck from which tax is taken. Health insurance.
But. I didn’t come out here to work full-time at a job for someone
else. I came out here to write, to build a freelance career, to support
myself without having to deal with a desk job. I hated having a desk
job (though I did love the one I had, at the agency. If you have to
have a desk job, that was the one to have). I love having time to
myself, freedom, flexibility. But I’m also tired of being scared about
money and taxes and the cost of healthcare. I’m tired of feeling guilty
because I’m not writing the way I’m supposed to. Shit, do I want to
take the job to smother the guilt? It would make a little more sense to
just write, already, hello.

I’m going to the interview tomorrow, and I’m going to talk to them, and
maybe–maybe they’ll be so excellently cool I’ll want to be their best
friend and maybe the job will be so interesting and exciting I’ll have
to take it. Maybe they’ll like me enough to take me on as a part-time
person, a contract person, a freelancer. Maybe they’ll hate me on sight
and this will all be moot! I don’t know what to hope for.

  4 comments for “working for the man every night and day

  1. anon
    September 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Ack, I don’t know what to wish for you either, but I will say this:

    I was so swooningly jealous when you quit your job and moved to Utah to be with your guy and to work freelance from home, that I’m a little perplexed that you would consider returning to the 9-5 drudgery.

    You are working from home, you are writing, you are editing, you are mentoring future writers…you have it made, sister.

    I think perhaps this has something to do with E working so much lately? It’s been lonely, and you’re suddenly thinking the return to comfy chit-chat around the water cooler is enticing?

    If you really want it, then of course I want it for you, so good luck and rah rah and all that.

    But I also think perhaps the first idea was a good one. A little coffee shop gig, where you could put down your copyediting and your writing for a few hours and get out of the house and make a few bucks and maybe some friends. A place where you could talk to creatures other than dogs and cats for a while.

    But without committing to a full-time job. Because, hello, did I mention the 9-5 drudgery? Take it from me–I’m typing this very comment from the oh-so-lovely cell of my 9-5 prison.

  2. Anonymous
    September 10, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I don’t know that it would be so bad if the job seems interesting. I’ve found that having the structure of a job helps me be more organized and I get more done. There is something about having a long day that seems like so much time to get stuff done…then next thing you know the day is gone and you haven’t done anything.

    And then there is always the “well, you aren’t working, can you just do this little thing for me?” that ends up taking up more time than expected. You end up not getting anything done even though you supposedly have all this time.

    Also, having the money/insurance stress reduced could help give you that creative burst that you need.

    It sounds ideal, but I found that I hated not having the structure of place to be. Sure, it sucks to have to get up some mornings, but I enjoy my job for the most part and it gives me the freedom to be creative in the down time.

  3. September 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Don’t hope for anything. Just go, dazzle them, maybe be dazzled by them, or maybe not, and see what happens. Just think, either way, get the job or not, you have NOTHING to lose. There’s no down side, so just enjoy the experience of getting out and strutting your workplace stuff for a day.

  4. nolafwug
    September 10, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    I’ve been working exclusively freelance for 3 years now and there are times that I start whining about how I’d love the security of a 9-5. That’s when my boyfriend looks at me like I’m nuts and says “You hated working 9-5! It blows!”

    And I realize he is right, right, right! I love the freedom to do whatever I want with my time. I am complimented for my self-discipline often. I am able to be very productive. I do definitely feel the pull to goof off all the dang time (and read blogs, for example!) but I handle my business.

    If you want the security and social opportunities of a real job, I reckon a part-time coffee shop is a fantastic idea. Forget Craigslist – why not walk through your neighborhood and see if any of t he local places are hiring. You might meet some super cool people in the process!

    I wish you lots of luck, whatever you decide to do!

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