Friday, April 06, 2007

Workers in the mist

"When is maht's last day?" The Worker I was mercilessly teasing craned his head so he could see past me and address this question to my supervisor, the guy who signs my invoices. His question indicated to all three of us that the office will be a more hospitable place once I have departed.

It's hardly my fault. He claimed that he was unaware of when Thursday happened. Or that yesterday was, in fact, an occurrence of the rare and elusive Thursday. I had no choice. Once I am gone, does that really mean that such a statement will pass by unchecked?

Whatever his motive, his question brought up a few very real things about my status among the Workers. First, that I am not really one of them, and as such, I do not really belong there; second, that my time observing them this closely is about to conclude; and third, that I have perhaps overstayed my welcome.

There are some in the office who will miss me, or who I will miss, and I will certainly miss the paychecks they used to lure me out of the safety of my home and into the strange industrial building to move among them in the first place. For the most part, though, I think the people in that building think I am just strange. Right back atcha, Workers.

Two days ago, the president of the company walked into the breakroom, where I stood talking to GoodThomas.

"Try to look busy," I said to GT in a stage whisper. "The president is here!" And then I departed.

It was later relayed to me that the man watched me walk away and then said aloud (it is unclear whether he was directing this remark to GT, or simply to the cosmos) "He reminds me of House." He meant the fictional character played by Hugh Laurie on television. I get that a lot. It is, perhaps, a thin distinction to point out that the character on television is usually mean when he is serious and joking when he seems kind. I think I work the other way around. Nevertheless, I take this as a compliment. Like the character, I am good at what I do, easily annoyed, and often difficult and/or funny. I get that.

So my time of Dayworking is drawing to a close. My time with my Dayworker persona also draws nigh. Soon I shall be back to being whatever it is about me that is different when I am not there. I will not often be compared to House for a while, unless I talk to my brother, who has drawn the same conclusion as the Workers. I have only a week remaining. Seven short days mark the divide between Dayworker and full-time unpaid novelist.

I have already told you of their strange immunity to free cake, these Workers. I have told you how one of them may have tried to poison me by tricking me into putting sea salt into my morning coffee. I have explained, I think, that they seem to find it nothing unusual to rise in the morning and travel to this building and perform their allotted tasks. In the morning! When decent people are sound asleep!

There are a couple of tales gathered during this interval that I have not yet had an opportunity to share. Perhaps those will appear here in time.

Most of the times I have been there for any duration come with some separation anxiety toward the end of my stay. I forget the cardinal rule of freelancing, and grow attached to these strange creatures, their habits and customs. I forget that I am not really there in the same sense that they are. This time is no exception, but I feel a little different inside than normal, for the simple reason that I know what I will be doing with my time once I depart. I have work to do of my own, Blogreader; the kind that is unlikely to garner me a paycheck, but which will be so much more personally rewarding.

I am excited to get back to what I have come to regard as my real work. I am ready.

I am ready to work full-time on my novel. I am ready to sleep when my body tells me to sleep. I am ready to walk the streets of Chicago with my camera to see what I can capture and bring back home with me.

In the coming months, free from the demands of the Daywork, I shall complete the first draft of the current novel (and probably another one as well). I shall submit short pieces to literary journals to begin the time-honored process of being rejection slips and self-recrimination. I shall take more pictures to share my city with you, and to try to wrangle a showing of my photography from the owner of Bite (and may look into other avenues for my photographs to get out into the public eye). I shall host my second GBA(s)FC which begins May 1st (mark your calendar) and which I hope will be as successful as the last one.

And, of course, it seems likely that I will blog and blog and blog.


Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Hi Maht,

If it's any consolation, to feel a misfit or to be marginalised by a situation or a group is a strange & painful but necessary gift for a writer. It will help you capture deep vivid emotions that create an added advantage for you as a writer, in the long run.

A full-time unpaid novelist? I feel enthusiastic for you, reading your courage over this. :-)

Nikki Neurotic said...

Enjoy the freedom of NOT being tied down to a "normal" job. wish I could do that.

Happy Easter!

Caroline said...

Have fun Maht.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure any of us fit in here (or are welcome) - I certainly hope not anyway.

You will be missed -- very much so. I can only speak for myself and our small groupage, but you will very much be missed.

Okay, I won't miss the ball bouncing off the wall in my office, off my desk, off my head, but other than that, yes, you will be missed.

Anonymous said...


I have used school as an excuse not to venture out into the "real world" of working. I'm not ready for the real world yet. I don't think I will ever be ready for it.

This is all to say that you have my empathy and support (not that you asked for it or need it; just wanted to let you know that it exists).

Good luck with your photography and with your writing.


Reading the Signs said...

But please before you go, take copious notes and pictures so you can write more about it. I don't quite know why but I really do relish the details. This life that for so many people is normal takes on an almost exotic quality when looked at minutely. Not that I want to be there - no. But I would like to read more. Who will replace you to bounce the ball in GT's office?

Anna MR said...

Mr Moon, I have brought you an Easter egg, you stingy b*g*er, as it seems you'll have nothing to eat in the coming months. Dig your bravery, though.

The Moon Topples said...

Susan: Courage and folly are a single coin with two faces. I suppose we shall see which side is facing up when the dust settles.

SilverN: Happy Easter to you, too.

Caroline: An excellent suggestion. I have added "fun" to my list of goals for the next few months. This is something that in all seriousness I tend to forget to do.

GT: You are so much kinder to me on my blog! You will be missed as well, although in your case, we still have the blogosphere. And if the ball bouncing thing really bugged you, we both know you'd have removed the cup from your desktop some time ago.

Minty: I think that some of us are not cut out for the "real world" life and its strange complications. I also think this is not necessarily indicative of a flaw in our design. Someone needs to stand on the outside looking in once in a while.

Thanks much for your empathy and support. They are both appreciated.

RTS: I never take notes, but I have some tales still to tell. I shall pour them out when the moment seems right. As for a bouncing replacement: I think they've initiated a nationwide search for someone with the right skill set. It's going to be harder to replace me than they think, though.

Anna: Blogger? Banger? Booger? I am not saavy to your Finnish insults. And thank you for bringing nourishment. I may need it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have never understood the peculiar qualities that make a person a lifer. I raised 3 children myself so I had to work at a lot of incompatible jobs, but never stayed at any of them very long because I have an almost pathological fear of boredom.

Nor could I bring myself to make a career of any of them because they were not what I was here for. While I respect and appreciate others for the work they do, I have never wanted to be anything but an artist of some kind. A life lived on other people's terms is, for me, not worth living.

I wish you luck in your personal ventures and I believe that you will accomplish what you need to do. (I'd like a signed copy, please.)

Unknown said...

Hope your last seven days are not as long as the week I've just had. Maybe it was the countdown to empty writing time that made getting here so long.
Good luck and look forward to seeing photos of Chicago (so far any visual images of Chicago are purely from ER!)
Oh and do remember to have fun. For instance I've just scoffed a Cadbury's Creme Egg. Hope Anna has bought you as nice an egg!

Liz Dwyer said...

There's so much pressure to just be the "worker" instead of really going for your dreams. I'm so happy for you that you're able to be in a position to shut the rat race off for a little while and work on the things that truly bring you happiness.

The Moon Topples said...

HinSF: I suppose that I'm also lucky in that my career is somewhat creative. Not really art, but creativity has always been encouraged in my moneywork. And I'll be happy to sign a copy of my crappy, self-published screeds for you. (just planning for the worst-case scenario)

Verilyon: Sorry your week was lengthy. Perhaps just coming off your trip made work seem more dreary. I'd be just as happy to be done already, but one more week isn't likely to do any lasting damage.

Chicago is not quite what they show on ER. Although they do a pretty good job of filming at least a few of their location shots here, and they have the El platforms more or less correct. I promise to show you a bit more in the near future.

Liz: I appreciate the support and well-wishes. Dreams are important.

Anonymous said...

Oh, a fantastic plan. I hope to be as brave one day soon.

Unknown said...

Yeah that and I think it's I just wanted to come home and write. I got caught rotten on Friday. I was meant to be supervising recess and two of my colleagues found me sitting on the sunniest bench and scribbling away in my notebook!