never married, over forty, a little bitter


I try to look on the bright side of the roommate situation. He doesn’t cook, so I have the kitchen to myself. He’s quiet. He rarely has people over. He always pays his rent on time and is good about splitting all the other household expenses.

The internet addiction, and the anti-sociability it results in, continues to try my nerves though. I hit a point every week where the entire days he spends on his couch or bed staring at his iPad make me want to scream. I myself spend too many hours on the internet, but he neglects everything else in his life for it. He does read news sites but I think a lot of his time is spent looking at photos of attractive men.

I’ve also been miffed by his new habit of saying he just might apply for every desirable job that comes along that I’m interested in. He usually tosses in, “Then you can go for my job.” Oh thanks. I’m glad to know that my entire job history has somehow been erased and I’m now relegated to positions he plans to be promoted out of.

I gave him one chore around the condo– to clean the bathroom. I take care of everything else. Eventually the bathroom trash started overflowing on the floor, with no signs that he was planning to empty it. I had to remind him about it. He left the rest of the bathroom uncleaned. Sunday evening, after a day he’d spent mainly in the “recline” position, I finally burst. He whined, and I responded with, “You are the laziest person I know. For the record, I used to do everything I do now when I held a job. And I think you have an internet addiction.”

The only sentence I regret is the first one.

He is now looking at buying a condo for himself. If he moves out, the financial pressure will increase on me, but the emotional pressure will release.

It’s sad that I had been looking forward to having a roommate, but it’s another situation where I have to let go.

control freak

After a year in Los Angeles I realized that two of my main reasons for moving there– finding a relationship due to the bigger dating pool and/or making a career change– were looking unlikely to happen. I then shifted my focus to the things I could control– learning the history of the region, traveling around the state, taking surfing lessons, going to shows, and so on.

I’m employing that same strategy here. I applied to four jobs yesterday that, if I have to return to full-time employment, would be good deals for me, but I can’t control the outcome. Nor can I control any kind of outcome when it comes to dating and my social life. I’m holding up my end of the bargain though by continuing with my classes and making plans to volunteer on an organic farm in the fall. At least my time here won’t be a wash; in fact, I will probably look back at this opportunity for self-enrichment fondly.

My advice for anyone contemplating a location change would be to make sure that at least some of your reasons for moving are things that are within your control.

Another thing I’m trying to do lately is make this blog into a book using a nifty website called Blurb. It has all the features I need, but during the “slurp” it continually crashes. I’m going back and forth with tech support and hoping one day the bug is resolved. In the meantime, I gotta “let go and let God.”


“Ah,” he said, “the speedup.”

His old-school phrase gave form to something we’d been noticing with increasing apprehension—and it extended far beyond journalism. We’d hear from creative professionals in what seemed to be dream jobs who were crumbling under ever-expanding to-do lists; from bus drivers, hospital technicians, construction workers, doctors, and lawyers who shame-facedly whispered that no matter how hard they tried to keep up with the extra hours and extra tasks, they just couldn’t hold it together. (And don’t even ask about family time.)

Webster’s defines speedup [4] as “an employer’s demand for accelerated output without increased pay,” and it used to be a household word. Bosses would speed up the line to fill a big order, to goose profits, or to punish a restive workforce. Workers recognized it, unions (remember those?) watched for and negotiated over it—and, if necessary, walked out over it.

But now we no longer even acknowledge it—not in blue-collar work, not in white-collar or pink-collar work, not in economics texts, and certainly not in the media (except when journalists gripe about the staff-compacted-job-expanded newsroom). Now the word we use is “productivity,” a term insidious in both its usage and creep. The not-so-subtle implication is always: Don’t you want to be a productive member of society? Pundits across the political spectrum revel in the fact that US productivity (a.k.a. economic output per hour worked) consistently leads the world [5]. Yes, year after year, Americans wring even more value [6] out of each minute on the job than we did the year before. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Except what’s good for American business isn’t necessarily good for Americans. We’re not just working smarter, but harder. And harder. And harder, to the point where the driver is no longer American industriousness, but something much more predatory.

Sound familiar: Mind racing at 4 a.m.? Guiltily realizing you’ve been only half-listening to your child for the past hour? Checking work email at a stoplight, at the dinner table, in bed? Dreading once-pleasant diversions, like dinner with friends, as just one more thing on your to-do list?

Guess what: It’s not you. These might seem like personal problems—and certainly, the pharmaceutical industry is happy to perpetuate that notion—but they’re really economic problems. Just counting work that’s on the books (never mind those 11 p.m. emails), Americans now put in an average of 122 more hours per year [8] than Brits, and 378 hours (nearly 10 weeks!) more than Germans. The differential isn’t solely accounted for by longer hours, of course—worldwide, almost everyone except us has, at least on paper, a right to weekends off, paid vacation time [9] (PDF), and paid maternity leave [10]. (The only other countries that don’t mandate paid time off for new moms are Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Samoa, and Swaziland. U-S…A?)