Friday, July 18, 2008

Obsess much?

My friends (the Modern Myth Makers actually) came over for a visit last week. In the course of the evening, I gave them a "home tour" of my room (I had just cleaned it, so I needed to show off the miracle). They took one look around and asked "Where is all your stuff?" It's strange how that phrase has stuck with me. It's true, I don't collect things (no book obsession if you can believe it). It might be because my family moved a lot when I was growing up and I got used to having enough. Some overly pious (stupid) person will probably say that I am somehow a better person to be so detached from material possessions. I think it's because I just don't like to spend money.

Similarly, I don't really have any consuming hobbies or activities either. For example, writers are supposed to have to write. It's something so deeply necessary to their existence that they are not alive without it. Notice I use the word "they" and not "I." Truth be told, I'm pretty sure I could live just fine without ever writing a novel. This begs the question, "Am I really a writer?" But I don't even care about the answer to that one anymore either. My question has for some time been "Do I have any passion or am I just living asleep?"

I envy passionate people. I love to listen to someone describe something they really love -- whether it be a new song they heard, a new book idea they are working on, or a piece of art glass they bought in Venice. Watching their eyes light up is a beautiful thing. I, on the other hand, always adopted other people's passions and obsessions when I was growing up. It has only been in the last few years that I have tried to find my own. I'm still looking. I know several things that I am good at, some that I am very good at and even enjoy to a degree. However, there is no consuming passion in my life. I truly seem more passionate about the idea of being passionate than I am about anything in particular. It's like being in love with being in love rather than with a living, breathing human being.

That last sentence implies that I have been playing around in the safe world of concepts and ideas without venturing into the reality of life. Maybe so, maybe not. I have pushed it many times and stepped out to try to use the "gifts" God has given me, to write that novel, to go to grad school, to make a movie. To get off my duff and do something with my life. Hey, even in this infant blog I have already made grand statements of the writing I will force myself to do. But my attempts at drumming up passion for passion's sake have all ended in disillusionment. Does that mean I should keep trying, keep fighting, keep pushing? I don't know.

I wish (and have prayed) that God would give me some clear purpose to move toward, but he doesn't. Instead, He keeps pestering me to choose to respect people at work even when they do something that annoys me. I try to drum up some grand passion for a cause and he reminds me to forgive my Dad for saying something stupid when I was hormonal. I beg him to help me write the great novel, but he keeps dragging me over to sit with him under the trees and listen to the wind. I keep asking be in love, and God keeps sending me the living, breathing human being.

I know, I know, I'll shut up now and get myself a hobby. Knitting sounds good.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Riddle

I come once a moon, not always at full.
Sick as I make you, you're not really ill.
I attack all the ladies and torture their men.
Oft' as I leave you, I come back again.
I don't take the pregnant, the young or the old.
Warped as I make you, you will soon unfold.
I ruin your week and make you feel lazy.
Mad as I make you, you's not really crazy.

What am I?
Leave your guesses on the comment page.

Surviving the Day Job

(cross posted on Modern Myth Makers)

There is no money in the arts. I discovered that fact a long time ago. Knowing such truth though -- like being an artist -- does nothing to pay the bills. Therefore, creative souls usually end up indenturing themselves to a day job of some form. The lucky few will find jobs that feed their creativity, but most of us spend our 40 something hours a week cultivating a cube farm. Others find themselves hunched up in front of a cramped desk in a closed room, whose windows give a grand view of the hallway. We live our lives surrounded by dirty-grey walls and lumpy, commercial-grade Berber carpet. The day job begins to overtake our personalities and sap our creativity. We feel trapped. Here are a few simple suggestions to help you remind yourself that yes, you are a human, not a secretary (or a business analyst).

Say it with a smile
You can get away with venting a lot spleen if you make a joke out of it. Emotional outbursts that might frighten the calmest cube dweller can be fully vented if accompanied by a grin. In fact, the more severe the outburst, the more willing your audience will be to allow it, because they will think you are exaggerating for their amusement. For example, you can tell your coworkers that the light from your monitor is burning a hole in your corneas. This may be true, but no one will notice if you laugh while you say it. Or, you can inform your boss that you will not live through the project she has assigned you (to make your complaint even more acceptable, describe the mode of your impending death in all it's gory detail), and if you season your woes with a pleasant lilt to your voice, she will not feel it necessary to fire you.

Embrace your gremlins
For the past three months, I have been working on three massive data entry projects for my boss. Two of the projects are copying books of data in order to save my boss's boss money by not buying the electronic copies from the people who compiled the books in the first place. I have learned through this process of time-altering boredom to enjoy the database gremlins who visit me every day. Don't get me wrong, I don't enjoy the databases themselves. That would be creative suicide. No, I enjoy the gremlins. They have such interesting personalities. There's Fred, Ned, Gred, Jed, and Alphonso. At first, I was kind of weirded out by the giant vacuum cleaners with which they suck my soul, but now I have come to appreciate the grems for their great senses of humor. Gred likes to stick the vacuum hose up his fat nostril and suck his head inside out. It makes a great party trick. Playing with the gremlins in your head makes the day just fly by.

Take notes
Office workers are amusing creatures. They have intense emotional connections to the strangest objects. I have witnessed the extremes during my time haunting offices -- It varies from wild cursing over a paper jammed in the copier to wild elation over the arrival of purple highlighters. I understand that no one likes a paper jam and purple highlighters are admittedly very cool, but the often violent reactions they engender can be food for survival of the creative soul. You get that many people trying to work together on mostly mundane and meaningless tasks and exciting stuff is bound to happen. When it does, write it down. You'll be able to look back and laugh about it when you finally quit your day job.

Got any more ideas for day job survival?