Archive for September, 2012

Labor

September 27, 2012

When I was 23, I had a job as an office assistant. One of my duties was faxing.

The fax machine flummoxed me. I didn’t understand that it had an automatic function, whereby you could feed the pages in a quick scan and let it do the slow work of transmitting while you sat at your desk, eating Wheat Thins.

Instead, I stood next to it, feeding it one sheet at a time, waiting for the ludicrous beep, watching the paper get sucked in centimeter by centimeter, getting the confirmation page, dialing again. It was a process whose pace was best described as pre-Industrial-Revolution-ish. I faxed for three hours.

I got home grumpy, vented to my roommates about my terrible day: How maddening the fax machine was, how awful, how sometimes I entered a wrong number and had to start over. They nodded sympathetically, but somewhere between “paper cut” and “error message,” I realized I was telling the most boring story in history.

That was the day I decided to get a more interesting job. And I succeeded. It’s just lately, when I’m working past midnight, in windowless rooms, like Rumpelstiltskin without the magic, that I have my doubts.

Fiction

September 8, 2012

I’ve been having a fantasy lately of spending an entire afternoon, possibly stretching into the evening, lying on the sofa, reading a book.

As fantasies go, this one is so far on the “do-able” range of the spectrum that it strikes me as a little pathetic, and yet deeply human, that I imagined it — added all that mental embroidery: the fragrant drink I will have at my side, the plate of cookies, the degree to which any thoughts but the ones contained in the book will be absent from my mind — when I could just grab a damn paperback already and flop down on the couch.

So yesterday, that’s what I did. I got a pillow and read until it was time to take a nap.

When I woke up evening was coming, and the palm fronds were casting spiky shadows onto the trunks of their trees. The shadows swayed in the wind, just like the real thing, and I was so happy I was there, really there, to notice it.

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