Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Wanna Be Part of the Grind.

Call me crazy. Everybody else seems to be wanting to get out of this, but I want to get in. I want to wake up while it's still dark, wishing that I could stay in bed a little longer. Take a nice hot shower as I become lucid, get dressed, and head out. I want to see red tail lights in front of me and white headlights going in the opposite direction in the dark of the early morning as I ease my way to work.

I want to get a cup of joe, a comforting aroma to start the day. I want to walk underneath florescent lights, say hi to Jim and hey to Lorene. I want to sit at my desk, getting up a few times to use the copier, until noon, then spend an hour eating lunch and hangin out. Then I want to go back to work for a few hours, until that sweet relief at the end of the day. I want to sit in traffic again as I head home. Walk in and change into casual clothes, and sigh in relief as I sink into the chair in front of the TV. Me time.

I want to do this five times a week until Friday, when I get that big relief at the end of the day. Five o'clock, and everything seems to sing. I want to sleep in on Saturday, just because I can, and spend the day kicked back. Maybe go see a movie, or hike, or hang out with friends and family. I want Sunday night to be bittersweet, as I feel the weekend coming to a close. And I want to wake up on Monday and do it all again.

Maybe I'm crazy. I'm not supposed to want to be in the grind. Everybody wants to get out; to "transcend" it. But I want in. I guess I just want to feel like I'm a part of things.

Six years ago I got out of the military, still practically a kid at 23. Like everyone else, I wanted to be out of the grind. At the time I wanted to feel special. Not a part of everything, but extraordinary; standing out amongst the civilians. And I did feel that way.

After six months of unemployment, however, I began to go stir crazy. I needed something to do, people to talk to, and most of all, I needed to meet women. I finally got a job working security. I had romantic aspirations involving this job. I wanted to chase down bad guys and protect the innocent. Be a hero. Reality turned out to be much different.

I didn't get to be a part of the employees of the company. I could chat, but I wasn't allowed to fraternize, and I couldn't date any of the female employees (although that didn't stop me ;D). This didn't bother me in the beginning. That was what I wanted; not to commingle, but to stand out. I wanted to be the one who allows the others to commingle in safety.

For two years, I worked swing shift, 4 to midnight. And my weekend was Wednesday and Thursday. In the beginning it was pretty convenient to be able to do my errands when everybody else was working, but when my friends and family were off, I was working. It was a rare opportunity to spend time with someone I knew away from work. People would make big plans for the holidays while I sat in a big empty building. Employees would leave on Friday to go out and party, and I got to watch them leave.

After the first few months, I started school part time, as I had planned to do. It was nice as a student; to get to be just one of the students. But it still felt so part time, like I wasn't fully one of them. I yearned for the old days in school when I was one student among many. Of course I have to take responsibility for this situation, however, as I did still have this attitude of wanting to stand apart from everyone else. I wasn't one of these civilians. I had been in the military. I was experienced. (ha)

That attitude left during the two years I worked there. I quit my job to go to school full time, just wanting to be a part of things again. Ironically, this move took me further in the opposite direction. I would sit in class for two hours as the teacher lectured, then move to a different class with different people. Then, after three months, I would have all new classes, never really getting acquainted with anyone. I did get to spend some time with friends and family, which was a plus, but most of my free time was pent up in my room doing homework. When I wasn't doing homework, my activities were limited by my finances, or lack thereof.

During this time, I would listen to new agey types tell me I need to "transcend the rat race" and "be my own boss" etc. Corporations and anybody with power were out to use and manipulate me. Down with the man. So I would spend my time trying to figure out how not to be a part of things.

I switched my major to graphic design, which assuaged this feeling for a while. I got to go to classes with the same group of people for a year, getting to know them and being a part. But then after a year, I switched to web design. Classes were pretty much like they were before graphic design. No solid group of people; just fleeting faces. Things were better than before, however. My primary goal was to do well in school. Having a mission helped. When I was off, I would make time as much as possible to get to know the people I knew again. Plus I was wiser with my money, enabling more reserves and more opportunities. Things were much better than before. Still, I would leave school each day with this melancholy feeling of wanting to be a part of things.

Now I'm done with school and looking for work. I could go all for freelance, be my own boss and make my own hours, if I want to. But I don't. Six years after my term in the military has ended, I just want to be part of the grind. At least for now. Maybe a time will come when I just need to transcend it all. But not now.

When I get up in the morning miserable, everybody else is miserable with me. When I'm stuck in traffic, everyone else is stuck in traffic with me. Counting down the hours, so does everyone else. Feeling that sweet relief at the end of the day with everyone else. And then I want to do it all again with everyone else.

Either that or I just like coffee and pretty traffic lights.

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