It’s 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and tomorrow’s post is due at noon. Ordinarily, I’d make some crack about hugging my deadlines out of affection, but I don’t have the energy. I haven’t had the energy for much of anything this week. Not since Wednesday, when my landlords returned to slam doors—and leave them unlocked—and wake me up before my alarms—and confine me to a room that I’m forced to share with a mountain of boxes where my exercise equipment should be. And it hit me more forcibly than ever that my short course is officially over and that the money from the Employment Development Department (EDD) has given me more than the ability to pay my bills. It’s given me something I haven’t had in a long time: possibilities. The possibility of buying a new laptop. The possibility of fixing my car. The possibility of driving across country. The possibility of moving across country. The possibility of ending up in a ditch somewhere and good riddance because at least tragedy would be a novelty and even death would be a change of scene.
I’m tired of living the same small life. I’m tired of working for other people. I’m tired of working at all. I’m tired of acting like it’s acceptable to spend most of your life performing a job that has nothing to do with yourself, as if the company’s needs and desires are the only ones that matter and the business of making money is more important than the experience of being alive.
I’ve paid those dues. I’ve gritted my teeth—and nodded—and smiled—and been agreeable. As a minor “must.” As a woman “should.” And all I’ve gotten for playing by the rules is nowhere. No slap on the back. No, “Gee, I wish more people were like you” (“Why, thanks, me too”). People half my age and intelligence are commended for their selfishness, their looking-out-for-number-one-ness. We compare ourselves to influencers who’ve bought their followers. We follow self-published wannabes who can’t write for shit. And all the while we’re subjected to an unending litany of advice couched as a series of mandates: don’t use a career objective/statement, never include a photo, all writers are readers, all writers are writers, show up every day, only write what you know, don’t imagine that you’ll make it typing with two fingers, but do be inspired by this amputee who taught themselves to paint with their feet, and on and on and on, as if these are facts instead of opinions, held by fallible people at specific points in time, who’ll probably be saying something different next year but who still insist on descending from their manmade mounts, like Moses delivering the Ten Commandments, without so much as a scrap to shield us from their self-made glory or spare us the indignity of pretending to care. “It could be the head covering, but what I’m getting from you is ‘blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.’ I’ll be sure to immortalize that in a company-wide memo, sir. Your every fart is worth a thousand words. I’m taking notes on the notes.”
And don’t even get me started on books about flat-chested maids with chilblains who want so much more but still manage to end up with two desirable love interests who only have eyes for her. And what’s the point in being as hot as Michelle if your average-looking husband ends up cheating on you with someone like Ruth Galloway? Does that make me sound bitter? Do I even care?
I shouldn’t be writing this. I should be giving you my exposé on Matthew Hussey. Or my criticism of liberal Democrats. Or a list of my favorite classic films. But there comes a time when you arrive, not at perfection, but at the realization that faults or no faults, lifelong growth or no lifelong growth, you know enough and are enough in the here and now to be getting on with things. And any unsolicited opinions to the contrary are as impertinent as they are superfluous. And anyone who disagrees with you can lump it.
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