I figured I would be able to sort of skim along in the everyday work world. I figured my creativity, my drive, my ambition, would keep the monsters of retail life at bay. I was so wrong. I was so so very sadly and pathetically wrong. My job is soul sucking at the worst of times. Mildly amusing at others. And I, as with everything I do, threw myself into it wholeheartedly. I have learned everything they have asked me to learn. I have learned how to stretch a canvas, perfectly centred. I have learned how to cut glass, how to cut mats, how to mount posters and how to design frames that works with art that people bring in. Sometimes it's not even very nice art. I've learned all of that. I have learned how to do cash transactions and debit transactions and credit card transactions with ease. I have obeyed the rules and kept a smile on my face even when stressors were everywhere and the temperatures were either too hot or too cold. I've taught art classes and hosted birthday parties and I have stocked shelves and cleaned and I've done floral arrangements and I've made bows and all and all and all. I've done everything they have ever asked me to do and I have done it with a smile on my face as much as humanly possible. I've done all this for mere cents above minimum wage. I've been bringing home about $1000 per month. I'll let you do the math on that one to determine how many hours of my life have gone into this job. I've been there 14 months now.
I've tried to rise, but lately, it has dawned on me that there isn't really anywhere left to go. And now I am bumping along against the ceiling like a balloon that's about to deflate.
I have a lot less time to paint. I have just enough time to study. I have plenty of time home with my kids in the evenings and throughout the week, but I do not get to see my husband much at all.
This is how people live? I guess.
Well. The sense of never-ending repetitiveness is what gets me the most. I can do just about anything as long as I don't have to do it over and over and over again without a break. This week, I have over 20 hours of doing the same thing, over and over. It was the same thing last week. Ring in the stuff that people buy. Make chatty conversations. Try to get other stuff done in between. So it goes.
But I thought all my other pursuits would keep the ugly, acidic stress monsters at bay. Alas, I was wrong. My boss is cranky and likes to point out all the things I have done wrong instead of what I have done right (one thing wrong, five hundred things right. Maybe it's a time issue?) but he works his ass off and he never stops and I admire his work ethic even if he fails to smile for weeks at a time.
But this is not the life I want. This is not why I moved my family here to get out of the small town life and the small town mentality. I moved here to regain a sense of agency, freedom, and possibility. But it is a slow process.
I have been getting excellent grades in my creative writing class. In fact, my professor has suggested some of my work (flash fiction, to be precise) is ready to submit to publishers. I was so excited to learn that. But, here I am, too busy with this other job to have the time to wrap my brain around that other enterprise.
I am whining, I know.
Why am I fussing with this blog instead of looking into of using my time to send my stuff away to publishers? Good question. I suppose I am stalling. As stress-ridden as this current situation is, I am savouring it. My next step will take me to a place where I am alone in my room for a long long time. Writing is a solitary endeavour and I like people. I really really like people. You might not believe it, but it is true.
So I am waiting. I am treading water. I am enjoying the steady paycheck even if it is not all that big.
But I do believe that society has lost its bloody mind. I can't believe that people are so willing to give their lives away for years and years at a time to work at these jobs that are completely fine, if you already know who you are, but are the kiss of death to anyone without a will to fight for their self-identity.
But that's just me. That's just my perspective.
I work with a lot of artists. It's hilarious if you look at it a certain way. My boss is always cranky (not an artist by any stretch of the imagination) and my husband (who manages the night shift at a local food plant) said no doubt he is. Working with a staff of artists would be--so he said--comparable to trying to herd goats.
I laughed and I laughed when he said that. It's so true. We are all whip-smart, but we are all uniquely off in our own heads too.