Lately I’ve been on a bit of a quest for a creative outlet (said the lady with the blog), though this isn’t necessarily a new pursuit. I seem to hit bottlenecks of pent up creative energy and have frequently found myself in this quandary. The problem isn’t wanting to do something, it’s trying to figure out what in the hell do to, and, as it turns out, there’s a fine line between exploring new things you might like and desperately searching for ways to reinvent yourself.
I’m zipping up my coat as I say goodbye and I laugh, I think, at something you say, throwing my head back, a dull whack against the door frame. It hurts, but the surprise stings worse. Much like a child who stumbles and cries belatedly at the realization of losing control, the tears form and start to roll, though mine are cathartic—perhaps more a desire to collapse than not. Your bewildered face pleads for a different course of action. I walk into the bathroom where I give myself 30 seconds to fall apart and pull myself back together. 30 seconds, as it turns out, is an eternity for melodramatic rebirth. I emerge an entirely different person, one with slightly smudged eyeliner, but a sharper resolve to at least keep my shit together.
The following is a live stream of my thoughts in an attempt to document the torture that can be the last hour of the work day. Time tends to get inversely slow as the day progresses, and much like water heating to boil, tends to stall even further with each glance at the clock. This post is better than ingesting an irresponsible dose of caffeine.
I just found some gum in the back of my desk, which feels like manna from heaven. I’m hoping it keeps me awake for the next 61 minutes, and is a nice distraction from the utter exhaustion I’m feeling today. I’ve spent a lot of time today pondering the history of shampoo, namely the logistics of using shampoo before the invent of the plastic bottle. My brief research has led me to conclude that chemists and Farrah Fawcett conspired to make it a daily necessity.
Five days a week I come to this physical place called work, where I do non-physical work that works out into a paycheck. The environment I work in is a typical office layout, though it is strikingly different from the set-up I was in previously. I have a cubicle, a fairly large space sectioned off with lovely fabric-covered, temporary walls. I have a large desk space which allows me to spread out my belongings, which mostly are comprised of the various containers I use to truck my food here daily. My cubicle is in a small sea of other cubicles, probably 15 in total, in the middle of an office surrounded by actual offices, i.e. spaces delimited by drywall that reaches the ceiling and doors that close. Prior to coming here, I was working in a building that was once a hotel, among other things, and there was no attempt to revamp the space for office culture. My office was fashioned out of a former hotel room, though nothing that would come close to being billed as a “suite.” I shared this space with someone else, and there was a bathroom adjoining our office to the one next door. This was, well, an interesting arrangement to say the least.
Sometimes when I’m in a stressful situation or a difficult conversation, I catch myself playing strange little mind games. I’m sure they’re some type of coping mechanism, and hey, they’re a lot healthier than, I don’t know, drinking. (In case I need to clarify this in a public forum, I don’t drink as a coping mechanism.) I might hone in on a pattern, like the fiber striations on my pants, and find myself tracing it with my finger, or I might start creating constellations with the veins in my hand. If I’m holding something in my hands I might start to build something. I’ve been known to create various temporary works of art, for example, with hair bands and my fingers. Yesterday, however, took the cake. I was facing an uncomfortable chat with a glass of water on the table in front of me. The way the light was filtering through the glass created a really intriguing hydro shadow on the table, and after a few minutes of blank staring, I realized I was pondering how I would screw the glass to the table with a power drill.
I have been in a relationship with Mr. Brain for 10 years to the day. (We count today as our official “we got together” day.) We have been married for 5 and a half of these years, though we’ve lived together for 9 years and 7 months, so I think we’re a fairly seasoned couple. Over these past 10 years, I have gained a much more mature understanding of what a real, committed relationship looks like, and while I’m both grateful and nostalgic for our romanticized, whirlwind of a beginning, I’m much more impressed with our grit. I don’t think true, committed love is really so polite, and without some real tenacity it’s possible I’d be writing a different sort of reflection 10 years later. This is my love letter to the down and dirty.
It’s Friday, and today I mean it’s more like Fryday. It’s been a long week of dealing with other people and frustrating situations, and as I’ve been sitting here marveling at the assholery that abounds, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the other crazy ass situations I’ve encountered in my professional life. So, in the spirit of preventing office fires, I’m compiled this handy Office Etiquette 101 guide for you, which includes things you shouldn’t do as a boss, things you shouldn’t do at your desk, and reasons you shouldn’t piss off the “quiet” team member. As a bonus feature I’ve also included appropriate times for: giving the stink eye, crying silently under your desk, and going ape shit crazy. Enjoy!
I walked into my office this morning to find this gentle reflection of the week, one lone bud that was too heavy to bloom. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect symbol.
Welcome back to Life Crisis Week here on Middle Name Brain. It’s me again, Sarah, your muddled, sometimes confused, host. As I mentioned yesterday, my lens color is tinted stepmother, and you can further deduce from yesterday’s middle-riddled theme that I do not have biological children. There is a moniker for my breed, the ever elusive “childless stepmother”. This time of year is a little touch and go, and perhaps a large contributor to the general feeling of lethargy that seems to be plaguing me lately. My least favorite day of the year is arguably Mother’s Day, and then of course we barrel right into Father’s Day. If you are neither a mother nor a father, it’s possible that you will want to fast forward through these pronatalistic festivities, opting instead to sit in a dark room, hugging yourself, and rocking back and forth. Too dramatic? Okay, maybe you’ll want to avoid all media (social and otherwise), go for a hike instead, then lay in the grass, imagining you are a meerkat and that your situation is a simply a result of cooperative breeding.
Hello, I’m Sarah. I’m 35, which is halfway between 30 and 40, also arguably between the end of my twenties, a first attempt at adulthood, and the beginning of an age that sounds much more mature. I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat bookish, and if you had asked me what I liked to read a few years ago I probably would have said something like “contemporary lit”, mostly meaning books/writers I plucked off the Booker Prize’s long list. These days, however, I seem to have a much shorter fuse with fiction. Unreliable narrator? Been there, done that. National identity mirrored by one tragic underdog? That’s so 2003. Similarly, if you had asked me what music I liked to listen to I could have rattled off a list of go tos: Beck, Cake, New Pornographers, Jenny Lewis. Now my musical curiosity seems to be limited to the stadium anthems that power me through my runs. In my professional life, I have always held positions that involve many facets and a random toolbox of skills, which really just means I sort of know a lot of things, but would have trouble specializing in any of the individual pieces. I am also a stepparent, which makes me a kind of, sort of, a parent, i.e. not a parent, but also not not a parent. Hell, at 5’4” I’m even in some middle zone of short and tall.