My job requires no knowledge of physics. One need not have management experience, nor a knack for crunching numbers. While it’s a skill employers always appreciate, no one will ask to see your CPR certification. With internet proficiency and savvy research skills, a twelve-year-old could do my job.
The tedium of taking messages, coordinating meetings, and calling in service requests to IT often grates on me. How is it that I spent $200K and countless hours analyzing Foucault only to find myself, in my first post-college job, analyzing nothing but possible dates for conference calls? These days, work keeps me busy enough to resist dwelling on the tasks at hand; completion itself lends enough satisfaction. In this economy, a recent graduate cannot ask for much more. I count my blessings that I have any tasks at all, be they mundane or fulfilling, lucrative or merely resume-building.
After a beautiful fall day spent cooped up indoors, compiling a spreadsheet of researchers’ contact information, I could easily emerge from the office wallowing in bitterness over a wasted afternoon. Every so often, I emotionally indulge myself in this way, calling my mother as I walk to the train for a whine and a moan about the stupidity of it all.
Most days, I just get on the train. I sit in the last car, and while I gaze out the windows I think: “I could find a new job. I could pick up and move to Chicago, where I could rent a dirty little (cheap) apartment, and thus could afford to spend a year writing a book of (uninspired, but critically acclaimed?) short stories.” By the time the train pulls into the station at Fordham Road each evening, I have decided to delay this little dream perhaps a bit longer, relegating it to that fuzzy future where I will also finally speak fluent Spanish and dance ballet without eliciting grimaces from the teacher.
How could I trade away my current existence, one so blissfully uneventful? One in which, yes, I spend my days doing silly, if helpful, chores, but an existence that then permits me to escape into the night with nary a Blackberry nor a to-do list. I go to the gym! I cook squash for dinner! I have free time, and it is MINE, ALL MINE!
I may not have the money I dreamed I would have as a workin’ gal. I certainly have less free time. The beauty of a blissfully uneventful lifestyle, however, is the lack of guilt associated with that time. There are no papers I should be writing, nor texts I must read. If I want to sleep until noon on a Saturday, then spend two hours reading the newspaper in bed with some home-baked oatmeal cookies before moving to the couch to spend the rest of afternoon watching reality television, I can, and oh, I will. I repress no creeping voices, warning of impending academic doom. I frankly do not care what a responsible person would be doing with their time. I pay my bills, I eat my vegetables, my apartment is spotless, and as I have yet to decide what to do with my future, I certainly do not feel obligated to study for the GRE.
So, of course I could find a more rewarding job, or give up my gym membership and dance classes to try my hand at an unprofitable, if noble, art. More meaningful work would certainly allay my insecurity over being an unsuccessful empowered woman, but as my mother always says, “what you gain on the straightaways, you lose on the roundabouts.” With the abatement of career anxiety would come the stress of setting boundaries between work and play, responsibility to employers and responsibility to myself.
This year, I choose to indulge my inner sloth, the woman in me who prefers to stay home, who would rather take a dance class than apply to graduate school, and who would much rather have nothing to talk about than regale an audience with the drama of my life. And so, my life is blissfully uneventful.