Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unchained melody

I've been sitting around waiting for a crack to appear somewhere. The kind of crack that lets the darkness out. Not the light in. "Work" they call it. A bit of joke, if you ask me. Sitting in front of a screen for six, seven hours a day, harboring resentment when the sun is out, trying to stay conscious when it’s gray and rainy. Boredom like a brick wall. I want to paint graffiti all over it. Cutting and pasting snippets of text from one doc to another. Nothing new or interesting or actionable. Staring at numbers arrayed in a grid. Turning spreadsheets into graphs, graphs into a slideshow. Chatting with cube mates. Goddamn Yankees are getting old, the way the Tigers took them. Fucking Jets need a QB. Gossip. I lost my shirt at poker. So-and-so is showing -- when is the baby due? Some clown got drunk the other night at Lambertini's and puked on my new jeans.

I'm up to four, five toilet breaks a day. It's all that seltzer I've been drinking. Keeps the bladder active. But the effin bowels are slow as mud. Must be the sitting around all the time. I try to get up and do things: sometimes I go down to the lobby for some pretzels and a soda. Maybe buy a lottery ticket if Rashid isn’t on the phone. Or maybe head next door for a latte and a cupcake. Shite, I don’t even like cupcakes. Too effin sweet and way too cute. If there's one thing I hate it's cute.

I figure somebody's pulling my leg. To call this work, this waiting for The Man to come down and grant me another year of boredom or else fire my sweaty arse. Some choice. I gotta eat. The bills keep coming. Flood insurance, car insurance, home insurance, life insurance. Those bastards own me, just like the banks. Monthly service charge if I don't keep my minimum balance over $2,500. ATM withdrawal fees. I need another kind of insurance. Maybe I oughta go out and buy an effin pistol.

Cripes, even with this ergonomic chair, I still wind up with an itchy crack. And a bad back. Feels like some lunatic is twisting a penknife into my effin kidneys.

The blowhard in the corner office thinks I'm paying attention to this shitpile of a budget but I'm not. I've got my earbuds in, listening to Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question. A trumpet, some woodwinds, a string quartet. G major tending toward the infinite. When I was a kid my mother took me to Leonard Bernstein's Young Peoples' Concerts at the new Avery Fisher Hall. Music made me who I am. Sibelius' Finlandia. Brahms' Second Piano Concerto. Whenever my shitty day-to-day existence gets to be too much, I retreat into the chamber of melody, the hall of harmony. I close my eyes and hum. I let all the pain and boredom leak out of my heart. My bruised heart. Those people upstairs trying to run my life -- they have no effin idea how big my heart can get.

Work. As though getting involved in the minutiae, sweating the details, making the deadlines, coming in under budget -- as though that is gonna fill me up and feed my human yearning for meaning. Arbeit macht frei. Bullshit. Eichmann was a good worker. He hit his effin targets, didn't he? He incinerated his quota of human beings. He took effin pride in it, for Christ's sake.

The "work" that I've been asked to do isn't grotesquely evil like his was. Granted. But still. I can't question the results of my puttering around these goddamn sales reports. Who knows what the hell is really going on around here. I know one thing: I gotta do my part so some nitwit millionaire gets to vacation on Mustique every February. You can bet that he doesn't take out his own garbage. He's got little people like me to clean up after him. He looks at the Big Picture and issues an edict. "We need to cut expenses ten percent. Across the board." Which means cut headcount. "Do it by January 30th." Then he gets on his private plane and heads off to Sun Valley. Like Romney, like Welch. He's got a shriveled-up soul about the size of a cherry pit. That's why he smiles all the time -- his facial muscles aren't connected to anything inside him.

It gets me so worked up I could drive off a cliff. That's when I know I'm too messed up to go on. So I put my earbuds in, tap the little screen, listen to the music swell -- today it's Dexter Gordon tootin' "The Backbone" -- and play some solitaire. Secretly hope he walks by and sees me. Maybe take a couple of Advils. Stretch my legs a bit. Open the window and wait for the impending storm to blow in.

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