Which is absurd: I've been at this job for almost a year, I should be settled in by now. But I haven't bothered accumulating an office wardrobe, for example, or getting a proper lunchbox or shoes that meet the dress code. (There's a dress code!) I figure, if I keep my presentation haphazard, barely passing, it's easier to convince myself that this is all just pretend, a costume I'm wearing, a role, nothing real or god forbid permanent. I am working in an office but I don't really work in an office - that isn't my life.
Before this, the longest I'd held an office job in the past 10 years was for about eight months, and most of it was part-time. In retrospect, that's pretty dreamy. But at the time it felt like I was chained to a rock in a cave with poison being slowly dripped upon me from above. Gray carpet walls. Fluorescent lights! The horror.
I mean obviously I'm just spoiled. I've been able for years to get away with doing work that was (a) on a pretty flexible, self-determined schedule and (b) essentially the same stuff I do for fun. My dad pointed this out the other day: up until recently, my life pretty much was my work. They were integrated. Now the two pursuits are entirely separate: I have to carve out time and energy for my real life from whatever's left over after my job. (Which, usually, isn't much. Ten hours of sitting on one's ass repairing legal documents might sound relaxing, but for whatever reason, it wears me out.)
Here's a thought I like, from a magazine interview with the poet Frank Bidart; in this section he's talking about the word "making":
"It's one of the principles of the world. We live in this awkward culture that tells people that they have to have a job, have money to buy things, but that the job does not have to be connected to one's soul, one's inner life or spirit or sense of self-worth. On the contrary, the aim of work seems to be retirement where you can fish all day or go to Florida or someplace -- which seems to me grotesque, an absolute impoverishing of the idea of human life. Human beings are makers. It's the only thing that gives human beings something approaching satisfaction. It's completely central to what a human being is, to living in a complicated process where one must constantly accept givens that one can't control."
"Making is a way of knowing and trying to embody what you feel you do know."
Anyway, I realize I'm being a complete pansy about the job. It's a perfectly good job, and I'm lucky to have one at the moment. But so often it leaves me too worn out to make things, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon, and I'm not sure what to do.
So then. Maybe just a trim?