Tag Archives: cubicle work

Should I Work From Home?

investorcatWhen I was a full-time erotic masseuse, my immigration status meant that, for the most part, I was not able to find regular employment. I spent more years than I care to remember giving sensual massages to corporate types during their lunch breaks, or whenever the urge overcame them. During that time, I worked exclusively from home, and I scheduled my own hours. I know that a lot of sex workers love the freedom that sex work gives them, but I, on the other hand, have come to realize how important it is for me to have a regular routine. I might not like going to bed at a reasonable hour, and getting up insanely early to go work for the Man, but, as somebody who suffers from depression and anxiety, I need that grounding. I also like seeing people at the office, and being able to socialize and connect with them. I missed out on all of that when I was an erotic masseuse and, of course, when I actually did meet people, there was an immediate barrier between us because I certainly couldn’t tell them what I did for a living.  My time as a full-time sex worker was a period of immense loneliness, and disconnection.

It has occurred to me recently, however, that there is a huge difference between enjoying seeing my colleagues (because, well, I’m human – and we’re social animals) and actually liking these same people. There are, of course, some nice, decent people in my office, but most people there are either mind-numbingly dull or – much worse!- backstabbing, fucked-up assholes. In fact, I have realized that for all of my self-identification as “somebody with mental health issues”, I am actually a damn sight healthier than many of the so-called healthy people around me. I may have my flaws, but I am at least genuine, sincere and honest. I would never intentionally hurt another person with my words or actions. Despite being thirty-five fucking years old, it still blows my naive mind that there are people out there who would do that in a heartbeat. I just don’t get it.

I have this one colleague, for example, who has a disturbing fetish for anything involving young Japanese women. He has also told me all about his nightly internet activities with online dommes while his wife and kids are sleeping. The fact that he told me this information about himself should probably have alarmed me, but I guess at first I stupidly felt “special” that he had chosen me as his work confidant. And, honestly, there are a lot of people out there with strange sexual quirks but it doesn’t make them bad people. Besides this one happens to be an Irish Catholic heritage-wise, and I pretty much assume that all Catholics are sexually screwed up.

Apart from his odd sexual confessions, there was nothing out-of-the-ordinary about this guy. In fact, I felt comfortable enough around him to open up about my own troubles – the divorce, my mental health problems, the loneliness I sometimes felt. He’s a chubby guy in his mid-forties with a friendly, smiling face who looks like he would be somebody’s favourite uncle so he has an air about him that almost invites you to open up to him. In fact, I’m going to refer to him from now on as “Mr. Avuncular”.

There came a day, though, when I realized that the things he said to me were somewhat passive aggressive and just generally “off”. Not “off” in a sexual way, but “off” in a “oh-fuck-I’m-now-seeing-an-entire-other-side-to-this-person-and-I-don’t-like-it” way. One time he yelled at a colleague and me for laughing at something while he was on the phone with an important customer. That in itself isn’t a big deal – when you work with the same people 8 hours each day, 5 days a week, you are bound to get mad at each other at some point. No, it was that when he yelled at us with such anger and contempt in his face I realized I’d finally seen the true him. The witty, self-deprecating “i’m a friendly chubby guy” act he puts on is exactly that – an act. I think it hides something much, much darker and I do not want to know what that is.

Recently this guy has distanced himself from me for no discernible reason. If I wasn’t codependent, I would probably just have thought “Oh, fuck him” and would have forgotten all about him, but my subconscious reacts badly to any form of rejection or what I perceive as abandonment. By this point, I didn’t care for him anymore, but that didn’t stop me trying to chat with him from time to time via the office chat system. I suppose I did that so I could feel that he still liked me, and that I “matter”.  Two Sundays ago, I was incredibly sleep-deprived, and hungover, and, since it was the week before my divorce was finalized, I was feeling particularly depressed and hopeless. I told him how I was especially upset by the comments a friend had made at the party the night before about how it’s “weird” I have so many cats, and I sorta joked (actually genuinely worried deep-down) that I was going to end up as a crazy cat lady. Here’s what the “kindly” and “helpful” Mr. Avuncular had to say to that via chat after I had expressed very clearly that I was absolutely not going to give up my pets to find a stupid boyfriend:

Mr. Avuncular: I’m sorry. I was hoping to persuade you that if you didn’t want to be alone you could have “giving them up” as an option. But clearly it isn’t one. You’re going to have to find someone very, very special to accept you with all of your cats into their lives.

Petrichor:You’re not really cheering me up here.

Mr. Avuncular: I truly hope you do. You can be cheered up knowing that you’ll always have your cats. They make you happier than a guy would. And that’s alright! If you can accept that, then you can be happy.

Despite my warped, codependent brain, I wasn’t far gone enough not to notice that there was something incredibly weird about that little exchange. He was clearly fucking with me in some sort of strange passive-aggressive, manipulative way – pretending to dispense “advice” and be my friend when really he was trying to hurt me. And I have no idea why. And I find it especially troubling that he would try to hurt somebody he knows was going through a divorce and who freely admits to being depressed. It’s almost sadistic. Maybe you don’t pick up any of that from the chat I posted above but, believe me, all my intuition tells me I am right.

These are the kind of people I work with. I have realized too late that I set myself up for these kind of experiences because I am far too trusting, and let people into my life who have no business being there, and tell them things they have no business knowing. Really there were two very unhealthy people involved in the above chat exchange – Mr. Avuncular, for obvious reasons, and me, for recognizing that people are unsafe but still keeping them nearby because I want them to like me. I also share inappropriate things with inappropriate people. I was beating myself up about that before writing this post (because, c’mon, oversharers are embarrassing!) but, you know what? It’s probably inevitable that I do that given that I am living in a foreign country by myself with no contact with my family. Looking for a connection with other people is intensely human, and intensely normal. I just need to make sure that I spend more time with my real friends outside of work, so that I don’t get lonely, and then end up getting too close to people at work.

My company has started allowing some of its employees to work from home if they want to. I dread the feeling of social isolation I know from my massage days that I would get if I stayed at home all day, but, on the other hand, I hate the fake and meaningless work interactions i have. Why not work from home so, at the very least, my cats and dogs will have me all to themselves?

Have any of you lot ever worked from home? If so, did you like it?


Death in the Afternoon


No, I’m not a big fan of Hemingway. He’s always been a bit too “masculine” for my tastes, but I have always admired the succinctness of his writing (and his fondness for cats). I don’t think I’m a pretentious writer (at least, I damn well hope not!) but I’m aware that I add in far too much – probably very unnecessary – detail. You could never accuse Hemingway of that. Oh no! There’s not a redundant word or phrase anywhere in his work. I hear he was a ruthless self-editor.

Why am I thinking about Hemingway’s writing style?, you may ask. Well, I’ve been away for this blog for a while now and every time I come back, I read over the posts I wrote months, or even years, ago, and my first thought is always: “God damn, get to the fucking point, woman!”. I bore myself. I just don’t have the attention span to read all of my posts, from start to finish. I think I need to write shorter blog posts.

Of course, the irony here is that I just spent two whole paragraphs lamenting the fact that I’m verbose and wishing things could be different!

OK, it’s 7:28 p.m. In the next seventeen minutes, I am going to write a brief Hemingway-esque synopsis of how I’ve been doing since the last time I wrote a post. Here goes…

Life is not bad but it is not good. This is probably my own fault. I think I should be more grateful for what I have instead of focusing always on the negative. I am now a “senior advisor” at work (instead of the lowly, underpaid contractor grunt I was up until December) and I’ve got to say my new $42,500 salary will come in handy. Recently, I’ve been working a lot of overtime, too (time and and a half!) and I’m going to have a fucking humungous pay cheque on Thursday. Every last penny is going to go towards the deposit for the new house (two doors up) we’re moving in to at the end of the month….but, still…it’s nice to have the money. We might even buy a second car soon, as it’s been a nightmare driving each other back and forth to work. I have my eye on a second-hand Mini Cooper, but I don’t know if we can afford it.

MM and I have a pretty disastrous relationship still. He is now physically violent and an extremely negative person to be around. He focuses always on problems – never solutions. I have mixed feelings about this because I know that I am violent and verbally abusive myself, and I think I have pushed him to the edge. No, this is not the deluded opinion of an “abused woman” who has been led to feel that everything is all her fault. I really do think I have driven him to this extreme behavior, at least, in a way; however, I also find it  rather pathetic that he blames me for what he does. He has a choice, you know. He could leave. He didn’t have to stick around and become a total arsehole.

Nine minutes left…Life is not gut-wrenchingly awful. I am thankful, for example,  that I am not some poor Afghan child, lying in a hospital with my leg blown off from a land-mine. I don’t know what real suffering is. And yet….I don’t really feel anymore. When I had my old blog, I was so lonely and depressed, and I felt cut off from everything and everybody. Now I work so much that I don’t really know what I think or feel anymore. But this is probably the way it is for most people, right? This is probably why there are so many fucking retarded, bigoted people out there. They probably don’t have the luxury to come home from work and actually think about life and their place in it.

I miss feeling excited about life. I miss passion. I miss really good fucking sex with somebody you’re deeply attracted to (even if it is for all the wrong reason) I miss looking forward to stuff. I miss thinking that it doesn’t matter if life is crap now because I will soon be a successful writer or singer. I’m thirty-four now. I ain’t getting any younger.

But I’m not sure if it’s right to feel this way. I don’t know what’s a valid emotion and what’s just me having a “grass is greener” complex.

Well, one minute to go, so might as well stop now. It sure wasn’t Hemingway. But, hey, you can’t say I didn’t try.

The Corporate Ladder

Next week I’ll be getting interviewed for the customer service position I’ve been doing since February as a contractor who gets no benefits and only six days unpaid days of holiday a year. It’s a stupid, low-paid job, but my contract is up in February and if I don’t get hired on as a regular employee at this company, God know what else I will find in this economy.

Also, I have to admit that I do, oddly enough, actually like this job. If you have to work in corporate America then this is really the only place that would be bearable. For the most part, my colleagues are nice, and very few people are total corporate whores. In fact, most people just do this job to pay the bills while they work on creative stuff on the side.

I am so tired struggling to make ends meet, so I will delighted to get health benefits, more pay and job security if I get hired. At the same time, I know deep-down that this could be a slippery slope. So many Americans get sucked into staying in a less than ideal job situation because they don’t want to lose their health benefits. I don’t want to be one of them.

I’m ashamed to say it but the whole “Occupy” movement has somehow passed me by. I am very much a part of the 99% but these protests just failed to move me, and I didn’t go to any although there was an “Occupy” movement in my own city. A part of me is happy that other people are, like me, now over-educated and horribly, horribly under-employed. I know it’s bad to want others to suffer just because you’re suffering, but now I don’t have to feel so embarrassed to have such a terrible job at the age of 34 because I’m just one of many.

Despite not having written in here for nearly two months now, there is not much to report. I go to work, come home, eat, watch an episode of “Mad Men” and then go to bed to do the same thing all over again. Métro, boulot, dodo indeed. I had imagined that changing my schedule to four ten-hour days (instead of the regular Mon-Fri, eight-hour day) would be the answer to all my creative prayers, but sadly this was not the case. Despite having a three-day weekend every weekend, I am usually so exhausted by the time Friday comes along that I don’t want to do much. The same goes for the work week; with a ten hour work day (and that doesn’t include the one hour for lunch, and the forty minutes I spend sitting in a car) there’s no time to do anything. I feel myself becoming stupider and less informed by the second.

Relationship-wise, MM and I are getting on “okay”. Just okay. I can’t remember the last time we had sex. Probably a rushed affair about a month ago. I’m so tired of always being constantly broke, and I feel that he is trapped in a poverty mindset. It’s the same old story – he wants to be an artist, or have some kind of visual arts job, but he doesn’t make much progress towards that, and he constantly changes his focus. I can’t imagine myself ever having a comfortable, normal life if I stay with this man. And, yet, of course, it’s the same for me – I don’t work on my creative ambitions at all.

One of the reasons – the main reason really – I haven’t written in here was because I didn’t really feel like sharing, or being judged for, what I’m going to write next. But I don’t think it’s healthy to keep it all to myself. A few months ago, I got tired of never having enough money, so I started to work as an escort again – behind MM‘s back. Yes, I know that I’m married, and that I’ve broken my marriage vows in what many would consider the worst way possible. Of course, I feel some guilt about it, but nowhere as much as you’d expect. I just feel that I’m doing what I need to survive. I don’t think about what I’m doing all that much but when I do I’m surprised at how normal it seems to me to be doing this. I don’t think of myself as a bad person, but of course I wonder if this means that I am.

Back at the altar

So here I am back at my sacrificial altar, having a less-than-appetising lunch of leftovers from last night’s take-away. My “bucolic” reveries have been interrupted by two people so far. I’m surprised more people don’t come out here from the office. But Americans are wusses when it come to heat, and they’re scared of their own sweat.

I’ve fallen off the NaBloPoMo bandwagon, so the urge not to post is strong.

I’m feeling hungover after getting together with my new friend from Pittsburg with whom I hope to make music. I only had two Bud-Lites, but, on last night’s empty stomach, even that was enough to make me feel nauseous today. I will drink Bud-Lite if that’s the only thing that’s on offer but it seems like such a pointless beverage really. It’s poor quality and it tastes like dish water. Why even bother buying it? I know I’m an elitist, but there’s part of me that looks down on the Bud-Lite drinkers of this world.

I don’t know how things are going to pan out music-wise with this guy. I have a feeling that I need someone with more direction who knows what he’s doing.

Of course, what I really need to do is to make music myself to accompany my vocals and learn how to record it, too. I’m taking piano lessons for that reason but it’s such slow going. And I haven’t even attempted to use GarageBand yet. Even though it must be the most user-friendly and simple music software around, I’m still intimidated by the technology. Plus, I need money for a mic and an audio interface….money I don’t have.

All of my goals seem so unattainable. Like I said in my last post, I wish that someone could just take over my life and tell me what to do.

And back to the office it is for 5 more hours of mind-numbing work.

Cubicle work is the opium of the masses

If Karl Max was alive today he’d have to revise his opinion about religion. We no longer need the promise of a golden afterlife to placate grey-faced, factory worker grunts. For most of us in the West, life has become a lot more comfortable and, for those of us who are still living in abject poverty and misery, consumerism has replaced religion as our insidious balm of choice. Who needs God when you can replace Him with things, or the heady dream that you’ll soon have those things?

In the grand scheme of things, my life is OK. I’m not exactly happy, and I do live from pay cheque to pay cheque, but I have food, clothes and a roof over my head. Life is a struggle, but it’s not the same soul-crushing, spirit-sapping struggle it was for people like me when Marx was alive.

But there is huge problem – I no longer think, or care about all the really important issues I should care about. And why is this? It’s because I spend 40 hours of my week, sitting on my arse in a cubicle. Sometimes I do get to interact with my colleagues in a normal human way (face-to-face!) but the vast majority of my daily interactions take place in online work chat rooms because I need to sit at my computer and get good “stats”.

The most “meaningful” work relationship I have (and I’m truly stretching the definition of the word “meaningful”) is with “T.”, a married, self-professed piece of white trash from some shitty Republican town deep in the heart of the state. I like him because he’s irreverent, very funny and is a Socialist, but I’ve barely exchanged more than a few sentences with him in person. All of our work relationship takes place via chat.

When I get home at night, I’m too tired to do anything except fall on the sofa, and watch episodes of “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” on TV, glass of red wine in hand. I barely read any more, and if I do, it’s usually 30 minutes snatched here and there in my lunch hour. I try to read “The New York Times” as much as I can (I’m old-fashioned…I get the paper version delivered every morning) but it worries me that I just absorb all the things I read there, without really thinking about them. I just go back to my online work chat room, and laugh at whatever new nyah nyah cat or Rebecca Black meme people have sent around.

I know it’s arrogant to think this like this, but ten years ago, when I had just graduated from university, I never thought my life would be this way. I thought I was destined for great things. Ha! I know I’m a good writer and singer, but there’s now so little time to get things done. Combine the lack of time, with my unfocused brain, crippling perfectionism and fear of failure, and it’s no wonder I never do anything creative.

I don’t know where to start, to be honest. I’m thirty-three years old, and I haven’t done anything much with my life. I can never seem to make the changes I should to be “successful”.

Is this it then? Am I destined to spend the rest of my life in a fucking cubicle, becoming more brain dead by the second?