Thursday, March 11, 2004

I'm the President of This Life, But I'm Also a Member

I'm at a crossroads, here in the heavy wood vastness of my work area. I'm at that place where I am so bored, so utterly stiff with staring, that I am loathe to take action. It is as if I were watching television all day, and four hours have gone by, and I am still in the same slouchy coma, hand mildly tight on the remote. My mind wanders, my body atrophies. I find myself gliding along winding trails, each beginning with the thought, "Wouldn't it be great if..." and twenty minutes later I have made the life-altering decisions to cut raisins completely out of my diet as well as abandon my fluency in French.

I am the Spalding Gray of my desk. I am the Josh Kornbluth of the city beautiful. A poet with the trimmings of an office (paper clips, hole-punch, fake flowers) as her breeding ground. I peer deeply into my own navel, a.k.a. the computer screen, and I come out a sage, a master of the self, a harbinger of boredom. It isn't as easy as one may think. It takes effort, being this still. Often I am moved to epiphany, such as today, when I began to wonder, "Wouldn't it be great if I just left ? There isn't anybody in the office. I could go get a soy hot chocolate. I could wander the aisles of the grocery store, smooth jazz floating over me as I fill my eyes with cereal boxes, fresh meats, neon shampoos. I could be free. Occasionally a burst of panic will shock me to my senses - what if someone calls?! - but I will only chuckle wisely to myself, a zen-like calm peeling slowly over me. So what if they call. We all know that if I were to sit in my chair for one more second with nothing to do, with the quiet as still as glass, that I would turn into a nasty, bitter person, someone who rubbernecks on the highway and eats canned cheese, though still beautiful. Instead, I will make it my mission in life, as sure as I am standing here, in aisle three, with the baby food and foot odor spray, to set free all other imprisoned, blank-eyed legal assistants, ripping out the steel bars of boredom and shutting down ennui-induced blogs..."

But that is only a vision, my precious reader(s?). And what is real is ever so much more powerful. Can one dispute the sheer fact of the dusty mouse pad? And what of the glaring truth of the inbox, with its lonely, yellowing letter, which I have refused to file under the double guise of prosperity and solidarity? I move my chair seat up. This makes me feel too large. I move it back down. I feel larger. I notice a paper clip under the R on my keyboard, yet it is unreachable. The paper clip, mangled like a dried spider, is a metaphor for the "Wouldn't it be great if..." ponderings of the world. And that damn R keeps crushing it, though it is fueled by my index finger. Here I may infer an even deeper meaning, something like I am blaming the R's out there for keeping the paper clip down, but it is really my own inhibitions about being electrocuted that are keeping the paper clip from being free.

Here is what I know to be true: the paper clip may as well make himself comfortable down there, in the plastic, pumping dark. It's just a thin piece of metal that happens to be quite crafty at holding papers together, and it truly is irretrievable. The 8-hour day waxes, it wanes, and the flourescent glare beating down on the polished floors of the grocery store beckons to me like Circe and her posse. But like that industrial lighting, Circe is merely an imitation of Helios, and what I really want is to take a left on that crossroads, the sun pushing me as much as pulling me on the way to great.

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