Three months. Home, Chicago. The real life. The life I oughta live the proverbial ‘they’ suppose. That’s a life in movement in so far as the bankers might be concerned. But it was never for me. Home is where the heart is. It is not Chicago. It is not a steady job, nor is it comfort around the silver screen. It’s the feeling you get when you leave or arrive or stay for a long period of time and know in your heart that that is the end all be all of the journey, that happiness exists in groups, or pairs. It’s love. And where love is concerned, it is always easier to leave than to stay.
Alas the tall buildings are gone now. The sinking feeling in my chest when I caught myself, walking down the office hallways high in the sky their highways, and I catch myself talking with you or you, or you you or you! I caught myself, heavy, when I conformed to the medial lingo, the brainwashing lingo of the cycle of days.
“Hey, how are you?”
“Good, I’m tired! But you know, MONDAY.”
“Yea, MONDAY. I only wish it were FRIDAY.”
“Yes then we’d be happy.”
“Yes we’d be Happy.”
The monotony of office work forces you to live in the future, for lack of time. You forget the days. Instead you name a routine of the sun by 7 names. On 5 of those cycles, you wake and become a member of the herd crowding the indifferent streets in the morning of some downtown somewhere. Most of the time you know how the cycle will progress, and how it will end. Only sometimes, you have to stop to pull up your socks.
But work is work, and you have to make your work truly your work, otherwise your time is trivial. I shuffled paper around, for the most part, or went on scavenger hunts down the stairs and into the vast file rooms… 29342….29342… 14930… the files hiding and whispering insulting. But make it yours! I was rubber band king! I donned a medallion ball of those elastic fasteners around my neck, and I was the king of my domain! A king and a thief of candy cane Hersheys kisses! Bah.
Sometimes I struggle to know whether I care to do something meaningful in eternity, or to respect the monotonous as life. Rather, there is nothing meaningful in eternity, as far as anyone knows. It’s too big, that. We think in weeks. We think in calendar time. When I talk to you, I see the dates and I see the weekend there at the end of every row, fluttering its eyes. It makes me bashful but I don’t care for it.
And those weeks in the office, getting shocked every time I reached for door handles by the static electricity built up in my shifting around. Those times at the copier that a coworker radiated fierce but muffled frustration, and the resulting sugarcoated politeness. Those weeks!
Most importantly, those Fridays. “Friday” in the modern workplace is the signal of optimism. Any day could be Friday, as long as you didn’t go back to work until Monday. Monday is a similar term I suppose. I wonder if one day these will be standard jargon, and wont mean a day anymore, but simply will mean when something is over or beginning.
Because after all, that is the nature of time. And you see it, in the horror of that morning alarm clocking away. The alarms are a reminder that time IS. BEEEEEEE EENNNNNNGGG GGGGGG GGGG… “Wake up you fucker, and remember your FATALITY!”
And what of my time at home? After so long on the road, my abrupt return home caused small aftershocks I hadn’t felt until now, back on the voyage. I remember a trip to Wisconsin for a day on the ski hills. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel. Good chicken fingers. But the sight of the made-to-order antiques clinging to the walls like prisoners to their bars disgusted me. The falsity. The lack of authenticity, the blatant disregard for originality in the name of prosperity. Commercialism. Consumerism. The mirage of plenty. Seeing my world creates in me a profound distrust of styles. The trends of the system hijack what is style, and rape it ravaging until it is nothing more than another pitch to the thirsty masses, devoid of taste or significance. But the tragedy of my immunity to this is that I am not, because I cannot escape having an image. It makes me tired.
I glance in my notebook and read some of the things I wrote during my time home. They are things I don’t care to explore beyond sharing them here, as they give a hint to the way my mind was working during those months. I wrote things like “Movies and TV are for lazy imaginations” “Fraternities regularize the misdirection of unchecked group testosterone” “Society has many of the right answers but few of the right actions” “Our systems make it too easy not to care” “The luckiest men are moneyed idealists” “The group emboldens, the most common shared traits are thus accented” “Why do I eat one oreo with two hands?” “What some call ‘real life’ I call the death of dreams. Not REM dreams. I’d flip a shit if those came true. I mean day dreams.”
Surprisingly critical. And here I am wanting to be someone who keeps his critical thoughts to himself. Why am I so offended by my times? They say every generation thinks theirs is the generation of Armageddon, or of great change in the way things are. I suppose ours is no exception to the rule that, no, change is slow. However, someone has said that the greatest key to courage is shame. I feel ashamed. I get sick at the thought of a sanitary life. I get sick at every Hollywood flick that has our protagonist in the end happy in his sanitary success and gleaming shoes and smile suits in their new coffinoffice. And yet how convenient that most suits are black. I remember something from the psychology class I took. It concerns the development of our neurological systems. I remember learning that at 25 our brains are supposed to be fully developed. If at 25 my brain is fully developed, then this is the year I’m losing my mind. Perhaps I’m losing my child. Isn’t it a shame to ever grow up? We care constantly for the children, and yet once they are no longer children, their new role is simply to care for the new children, and neglect themselves and their peers.
I shun that sanitary life. I shun that square predictability. I want to grab a lonely suit and shake him, shake the life to the surface and shake it out of him! I want to smack him and say “you! Walk away! Walk away and look up! I urge you to remember the sky! There is more than we can imagine!” Because the ordinary, the mundane, the routine, the monotony, the hegemony, the time the time the time, it erases our passion for living! You’re a slave to an office but you can be! Make it yours! It’s your damn life, do what you can to remember the sky!