A Productive Revelation

Although I find the 6 a.m. alarm to be extremely unsettling — it doesn’t take long to remember why it is so rudely and obnoxiously invading my dreams. I have somewhere to be. My day has structure and meaning again. And it is a good feeling. I am employed… at least for now.

As a freelance graphic designer, the position is a contracted one. Meaning that it will come to an end when the workflow shifts and the company no longer needs me. But it is employment nonetheless and a paycheck and experience and a source for networking as well as a means to generate additional items to place in the portfolio.

However, after seven months of NOT working, it is a stark change when compared to my typical non-structured day of snoozing until I feel like it, noontime bagel eating, bad TV watching and mind-numbing internet surfing. So far (albeit surprisingly) my nostalgia for all things lazy has not overshadowed the joy I find in being productive. I know. No one is MORE shocked than I am at this startling revelation.

It seems I expend vast amounts of mental energy imagining and writing about what it might be like to NEVER have to work. To live a life of leisure and of privilege. To NEVER interact with others… that is, unless I want to. But thou shalt never underestimate the positive power of productivity. Here are just a few things no one ever tells you about going BACK to work…

  • That coffee tastes and smells so much better in your work mug than in your cups at home.
  • That the idle chatter of co-workers can be much more entertaining than Lifetime television.
  • That slipping into a great pair of heels boosts more than your overall height.
  • That too much time spent alone with bagels, bad TV and one’s own thoughts is a dangerous thing. (See previous post)
  • That leaving the house miraculously helps you to pinpoint precisely where you are.

Understanding that my time in this new role is most likely limited… I’ve got to follow the advice of 38 Special and Hold on Loosely. Yes, I know that reference dates me a bit. Please stop doing the math, I’m trying to make a point. Like willing oneself not to fall too deeply in love with a warm, squiggly puppy you realize you cannot keep — I must hold my affection for my new (temporary) lot at arm’s length.

And hopefully—when all is said and done—I will have been reminded of where I am, where I’m going, all I have to offer and how great it feels to be a participant again. Even if that means getting up at the unnatural, ungodly hour of 6 a.m.

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The Devil Wears Sweatpants

Today was a day of much celebration and cheer. A moment I have been waiting for — admittedly not all that patiently. The phone rang and on the other end were the magic words I’ve so longed to hear: “They want you to start tomorrow!”

As anyone who has searched long and hard for employment in their field knows… it is a thing of beauty when that call comes. Emotions of joy and relief wash over you as you stand just a tiny bit taller… feeling a little less loser-like and little more confident. You consider, for the first time in awhile that you may, in fact, have something to offer the outside world. And it is a good feeling.

I, for one, could barely contain my excitement. I did the proverbial “happy dance” while shouting THANK YOU at the top of my lungs scaring the hell out of the cat. Then promptly called my mother and counted the seconds until Lee came home. I considered how to celebrate. Hmmm… margaritas tomorrow evening with the girls at my favorite Mexican restaurant? Si. Perfecto.

After sharing the details of the new gig right down to the color of the carpeting and the window-to-wall ratio in my new “cube” I realized that Lee—although excited as well—was indeed weary of the sound of my voice. And perhaps it was time to consider prepping myself for my shift from stay-at-home-do-nothing person into 9 to 5 working gal.

And here is where the story takes a very dark and unexpected turn. No, this is not where I tell you that they called back and informed me that they had mistakenly called the wrong person and that I am, in fact, still a loser. Gotcha’ there for a second didn’t I? No, that has already happened to me so as I stated above… this is where the story takes an UNEXPECTED turn.

It was time to approach (gulp) the closet and see what I had in there (double gulp) to wear for my first day at the new office. I feel that here is where I should mention that I have known this day would come. Oh yes, this Day of Reckoning with my closet and my work clothes a.k.a. ALL things NOT made of super-stretchy-love-my-body-no-matter-how-many-bagels-with-cream-cheese-I-pound-and-glasses-of-wine-I-drink elastic and spandex was on the horizon.

I just kept operating in my fantasy world, walkin’ around with remnants of cream cheese on my face figuring “I’ll dust off those workout DVDs and my Ann Taylor pants with absolutely NO give will still look fabulous by the time I get THE CALL” and all will be well with the world. Well… such was not the case. The DVDs are still dusty and the Ann Taylors are still hangin’ in the closet.

This, my friends, is what the sweatpants industry never tells you in their happy commercials where everyone is blissfully snuggling on the couch munching buttered popcorn and watching movies or gathered ’round the breakfast table slamming pancakes. Sweatpants and their seductive cousins Yoga Pants, Pajama Pants, Lounge Pants, Flannel Pants and Fleece Pants are of the devil. Mark my words… they will be the death of your waistline, hips and butt if you spend enough time in them.

You’ve been warned. Your regular pants may be uncomfortable on occasion… but like a parent disciplining their child when they are naughty… they keep you in line. Oh, the waist is getting snug!… or, My ass looks like two pigs wrestling under a blanket in this pencil skirt!… or, I’m about to pop the button on these trousers and bust out a window in the breakroom! are all ways that your “working clothes” keep you from swimming in that murky River of Denial that can only be found deep inside the soft, warm folds of the evil embrace of Sweatpants.

Crashing My Pizza Party

The Romeo’s Pizza coupon hung on the bulletin board in the kitchen for months. With it’s piping-hot pledge for a free 1-topping pie whenever I wanted, I knew it was something to be savored and not squandered some random night after a few too many beers.

Thus, when the phone rang at 1 p.m. on an otherwise-quiet Thursday afternoon with a request for an immediate interview THE NEXT DAY with one of the leading, most-coolest, most-coveted employers in Columbus… I felt the time had come to redeem that coupon.

I know, I didn’t HAVE the job yet. I didn’t even have the awesome, knock-their-socks-off-they-will-surely-choose-to-employ-me-the-moment-we-shake-hands interview yet — the small, step-in-the-right-direction victory felt like cause for celebration. It’s either that or I just REALLY had a hankering for some pizza.

I made the call ordering up my FREE pie which would—in a mere 15 minutes—be sitting on my coffee table with an ice-cold beverage. I drove the 5 minutes to pick it up (so as to avoid the delivery charge, making it TRULY FREE) and settled down in front of a chick flick of my choosing.

At first bite, I was blissfully savoring the emotional high of the moment. The company of my man (yes I DID share the pizza), a DE-LI-CI-OUS, saucy pizza, a mediocre Sandra Bullock movie and the knowledge that my newly-organized portfolio and smoothed-over power suit were going to land me a killer J-O-B on the morrow.

With 2 slices down, I decided that it was too good of an occasion NOT to indulge in 2 more. (Don’t judge me… They were small pieces.) So I filled up my plate with 2 more pieces and settled in front of Miss Bullock for the remainder of her luke-warm performance in a so-so movie that could only be described as a romantic thriller.

It was at that moment that the phone rang again. I wonder what this is about? Maybe it’s another interview?! Wow, when it rains it POURS!! Rushing to the phone with bloated confidence and an even more bloated pizza-tummy, I was puzzled to see the same number as earlier in the day. Huh.

  • Job Rep on The Phone: “I’m sorry to inform you Joanna, but the interview for tomorrow has been cancelled. I just received word that the position has been filled.”
  • Me (to myself): “Damn.”
  • Me (to him trying NOT to sound desperately pathetic and crushed): “Oh? That is disappointing news. Any thoughts as to how this happened? … Well, I know you’ll keep trying to get me in front of them. Thank you for calling.”
  • Him (only the fragments I retained): “We will keep trying… This happens… patience… It will happen … stay positive … talk soon.”

After hanging up I looked down at my sad little half-eaten victory meal… then to Sandra Bullock’s frozen face on the screen where I had paused her… and back to my once-lovely slices again. At first I had no desire to finish eating it. I mean, it tasted great and I still wanted it. But somehow it felt wrong to eat it.

A few tears and an encouraging, sympathetic pep talk from my sweetie later I slowly picked up the remains of what was once my celebratory victory pizza and decided it WAS still worthy of consumption. But it’s purpose had changed. It had become comfort food.

Now the coupon is gone. It is—without a doubt—squished into a tiny, yellow and red paper ball, covered with half-eaten slices, greasy napkins and used plastic utensils… and sitting at the bottom of Romeo’s dumpster. Right next to my overly-inflated ego.