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Ode to an Office Job

17 Dec

Retro-Looking Office Waiting Room

Ah, the weightless fulfillment of full-time work! After four years of contracting and freelancing, a temporary yet full-time position with a local employer has been rapturously simple. When you spend so many months in self-employment land, a numbness to the pressure of the juggling act slowly seeps into your mind, dulling but not eliminating the swirling, colliding to-do lists and goals.

From the first day I set foot in the artificially lit, cubicle-laden office in November, I could feel the burden of self-employment being silently peeled off of me. How wonderful it can feel to have a solution to empty days—an agent of deeply relaxing, frivolous weekends. I had forgotten (had I ever really known?) about the freedom of a full-time job.

It is the freedom to feel that what you’re doing is enough, and that the time when you are not at work is truly your own to do with what you like. Although my current work is not forever, it bears with it the reminder that the demands of a job are not necessarily infinite—requirements do not always span across weekends and week nights and complicated client lists.

I’ve written a poem that attempts to capture the funny reality of office work—the wonderful security, the comfortableness, the predictability, the prosaic simplicity that is both wonderful and completely absurd.

The Good Water

Back and forth behind my cubicle door
strangers silently trudge over the grey carpeted floor
to a grouping of items that calls out homey comfort
with drippers and chillers and brewers at alert.
They come to heat and fill and rinse at the sink.
They like to say hello, but mostly they drink.
Because it’s well known through office chatting and fodder
that this spot in the corner’s got superlative water.

This clear-bodied stuff doesn’t cure boredom or depression.
It won’t make you tingle or laugh.
The good water doesn’t taste special or splendid.
It’s not bubbly or sparkly, not served by carafe.
It comes out of a machine that’s plugged into the wall.
Push a button or two and it fills your glass tall.
When examined up close, the difference is miraculously small.
It’s just a bit colder and warmer, that’s all.

###

The Happiness List

25 Nov

Up Close in Seattle The Flowering Bush in Victoria

The other day was my birthday and I went back to my parents’ house to share a nice meal with my family. At one point someone complimented me on my pants, and I explained, with surprise, that I’d found them in a free box on the side of the road off of Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. To this explanation, my dad offered a piece of oft forgotten wisdom: Things that are free are not without value.

I spend so much time focused on bigger picture items like my Career and my Schedule and my Best Case Scenario that I fail to appreciate the little things. The catch about living a good life is how easy it is to glaze over the awesomeness all around you. So, in honor of Thanksgiving week, here are some of my favorite joies de vivre.

10 Good Things:

  1. flowers, whether wild, bought, or grown
  2. the scent of a fresh pomelo
  3. a new notebook
  4. bookstores
  5. warm breezes
  6. hot showers
  7. clean laundry
  8. exploring a new neighborhood
  9. sunny windows
  10. a good story

The Japanese Garden in Seattle

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