thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: jobs

the back nine

http://www.golocalprov.com/lifestyle/dear-john-midlife-boredom-how-do-i-get-excited-about-life-again

…nothing’s really wrong, but nothing is really great either. Like my job: I make excellent money in a prestigious career, but the truth is, I hate it. Quitting is not an option because I need this income, so I just grin and bear it. It’s a fake grin, though. I feel terrible thinking of all the good, struggling people who would kill for my job, but even knowing that, I feel how I feel. I don’t have a girlfriend, but I date as much as I want to, and it’s the same thing. Nobody really excites me. I feel like I’m on the back nine of my life and I’m just running out the clock, to use a couple of sports metaphors. To meet me, you wouldn’t know I feel this way, and it is a low-level kind of thing. I don’t think I’m depressed (because I feel like all my feelings are grounded in reality – I have a reason to feel this way) and don’t misunderstand me; this is not a desperate cry for help. I just can’t seem to shake this feeling that everything really good that was ever going to happen to me has already happened, and now everything pales in comparison.

Advertisements

the dark

And this is largely why I stay in the public sector, and why I feel lucky that some random things fell into place to grant me my current job:

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/02/how_the_middle_class_got_screwed_college_costs_globalization_and_our_new_insecurity_economy/

Amid these shifting economic tides and morphing definitions, many have lost their way. While old beliefs such as that hard work will lead to security and prosperity have fallen by the wayside, it’s unclear to many Americans what new truths lay in their stead. As President Obama’s pollster Joel Benenson discovered, this lack of direction causes a great deal of unease. “One of the big sources of concern for the people we talked with,” Benenson said, “was that they didn’t recognize any new rules in this environment. All of the rules they had learned about how you succeed, how you get ahead—those rules no longer apply, and they didn’t feel there was a set of new rules.” These kinds of examinations suggest that in the age of insecurity, Americans are not just trying to weather an economic storm, but they are also feeling their way through the dark.

the lulling

http://www.centerprogressive.org/lulled-into-numbness/

Successful movement through this Transition Zone accounts for some of the data about that upswing of happiness after the 40s, but not all. A larger source, in my experience, of later life happiness is more likely masked resignation and accommodation: People who more or less give up trying to grow and change. They decide, consciously or unconsciously, to lope along in the life they’ve been living and define that as happiness.

It’s illusory, though, because over time they tend to become “comfortably numb,” emotionally and spiritually. And, increasingly vulnerable to physical ailments, an upsurge of late-life depression, alcoholism or drug usage.

My daily meditation practice has provided me with a lot of benefits. My health has improved and I’m much calmer and more forgiving of others.

It hasn’t changed my actual circumstances though– despite the popular theory of “abundance”– and so, at the same time, I feel numb. Undeniably and remarkably numb. Numbly adapted to my circumstances.

I have trained myself not to expect romantic romantic fulfillment and not to feel disappointment over the lack of deep, meaningful friendships in my life or any kind of consistent intimacy. I have cultivated an appreciation for pleasant diversions and have stopped expecting much more than that in my time away from work. Having recently been bruised on the job market, I have stopped hoping for a job that truly engages me and instead appreciate the fact that I have one I don’t hate and that may allow me to retire early, if I hold my lifestyle steady.

All of this “accommodation” has taken a toll, but I’m unsure what choice I have. I could try online dating again, but chances are slim that anything will come of it, and I don’t particularly feel up to the psychic drain. I already participate in a number of social activities, but rarely do I meet like-minded peers. Occasionally I’m really, really enlivened by and drawn to a performer or artist of some kind, but outside of polite exchanges, nothing ever develops. I don’t see any solution to the job problem, but feel it could be greatly ameliorated by a satisfying personal life, but then that brings me back to the beginning of this paragraph.

I would like to keep growing, but I feel like I am reaching the limits of how much I can grow in solitude.

Accommodation. Resignation. I can’t see a way out.

the upside down

https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/help-desk/bank-robbin-in-brooklyn/#rf8-5159

Everything is upside down. Your life is sold to serve an economy that does not serve your life. So should you turn to crime, if you haven’t already? Do whatever it takes to avoid participating in this “construct,” risking hunger, imprisonment, or dependence on people with real jobs, who’ve learned to keep their heads down?6 Should you learn to do a better job hiding your soul from the oligarchs and make what is beautiful on nights and weekends, if you can get them, when you are not too tired, and have not drunk yourself into numb oblivion? Or should you sacrifice years of your life to educate yourself, incur massive debt,7 and “put in your time” to qualify for a job that might feel more like “creating something beautiful,” only to risk turning that very beauty into “the most soul-oppressing thing [you] can imagine,” too? Should you try to work harder, save more, get your hands on some capital, even though the game seems impossibly rigged, so that if you do work out how to make a profit, it will be incredibly difficult to do so without replicating the system of exploitation that enrages you?

[…]

What I will have to say to you, by the end of this, is that anyone who has found a way to transform anger into purpose and even some measure of peace about work has learned to reckon with two contradictory truths:

Most work seems designed to make you feel absolutely alone, and
Almost everyone, if they are honest with themselves, feels exactly like you about much of the work they do.

[..]

With my butt up in the air, I have meditated on how everything is an illusion and tried to learn to detach from my boredom with bending over, jumping back, and putting my butt up in the air, trying not to think about the possibility that one of yoga’s most important historical functions has been to help people cope with a caste system cultivated by the Aryan invaders of India in 1500 BCE and institutionalized by the British invaders in the 19th and 20th centuries, a system organized by color like South Africa during apartheid, in which the lightness of your skin coincided with your class and thus the kind of labor you might do. To believe that because you were born dark-skinned and a servant you must remain a servant until your next reincarnation is perhaps easier when you have learned to endure repetitive compulsory movements, especially when the dominant movement is to prostrate yourself with your butt up in the air, while practicing detaching from your desires. I have tried not to think about the fact that more and more Americans are finding this practice incredibly helpful, if not necessary, to keep this whole thing going.

[…]

But I suspect that for most of the members of the upper 10 percent, and even the 1 percent, the real story is different—it is the system that is exploitative, and they have chosen to fight for a position in that system that is the only way to have a kind of personal power that should be everyone’s right. Do you think that if they weren’t so scared of falling into our position, so many people would choose to work in finance, for example, an industry built, in large part, on preying on the debt of others? Employment in that sector is currently the one of the best bets for ensuring one’s basic needs are met, and sending one’s children to college, if they want to go, and getting to live where you most want to live, and traveling to other countries, and getting good health care, without going into debt. It’s not bad to want these things, it’s just that everyone should have them.

boosters

Of course I advocate for four eight-hour days, not four ten-hour days, as many governments have adopted:

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/24/5_reasons_its_time_for_a_4_day_work_partner/

Let’s be honest. Being on a treadmill where all you do is work, eat and sleep, is a crappy way to live. That’s why the four-day work-week is good for morale and worker happiness. Spending more time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies and interests outside of work, and engaging with the community are all things that boost well-being and keep employees, sane, focused and committed to their jobs.

Ryan Carlson of Treehouse says he finds his workers “invigorated and excited” when they come in after a three-day weekend. He also finds that it’s easier both to recruit and retain workers with a four-day work-week policy, because their lives are more balanced and they feel much happier.

And this is one reason I’m glad I don’t have kids (from a commenter):

How many young people, if they truly understood what the future held for them, would cheerfully embark on a working life made up of a soul-killing 5/7 or more of our weekdays spent working, 50 or more weeks out of every year, for forty to fifty years?

No one at age 18 thinks that’s what’s in store for them, just like everyone thinks they’re going to become (m)(b)illionaires someday. Yet by the time we’ve figured out that this is indeed what adult life is going to be – even in jobs we love – we’re committed, locked in, and find there is no reasonable escape from a system that considers it a virtue to sacrifice family and home for work.

And self-employment offers no solutions; the self-employed usually get to work even longer hours with fewer vacations, less time for family and less hope for a comfortable retirement.

If humans are so smart, how come we can’t devise an economic system that is more humane and is a better fit for our species?

adding up

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/fashion/From-Joan-Didion-to-Andrew-Sullivan-some-writers-leave-behind-letters-when-they-leave-new-york-city.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

For Ms. Didion, in other words, money was simply an excuse. The reality was, in the relatively cheap New York of the 1960s, even a Vogue junior staff member like her — making $70 a week — could secure a centrally located Manhattan apartment with a view of, she thought, the Brooklyn Bridge (“It turned out the bridge was the Triborough,” she dryly amended) and pay for taxis to parties where she might see “new faces.” Sure, the early days were tough — “some weeks I had to charge food at Bloomingdale’s gourmet shop in order to eat,” she wrote. But in general, she could afford to hang around long enough to determine when she had stayed “too long at the Fair.” In sum, she could afford to fall out of love with the city slowly.

Not so for the would-be Didions of today. In their New York, the nice apartments with the bridge views tend to go to the underwriters of bond issues, not to the writers of essays for literary anthologies. The unaffordability of New York on a writer’s budget is a theme running through several contemporary variations on the theme.

I’ve been enjoying the book Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York written about in the article above; in doing so it’s occurred to me again that many of our stresses are caused by the fact that there’s just too damn many of us:

http://www.populationmedia.org/issues/population/

The world’s population is now more than 7 billion and continues to grow by 82 million people per year. During the last half-century, the world’s population more than doubled. Between 1960 and 2010, the world population rose from 3 billion to 6.8 billion. In other words, there has been more growth in population in the last fifty years than the previous 2 million years that humans have existed. Currently the rate of population increase is 1.2% per year, which means the planet’s human population is on a trajectory to double again in 58 years.

Which of course makes the idea of this movie laughable (and I can’t help but think how much better off the planet would be with less baby food jars, diapers, toys, etc.):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/lifetime-lottery-infographic_n_5297746.html

The combined stressors of too many people competing for jobs, wealth inequality, and the lengthening lifespan (elderly parents to support, the idea of supporting one’s own self through all the extra decades)… it all adds up. It’s no wonder the number of childless women is increasing.

narcotics

I took a long weekend this past week and forgot all about work during it. I mean, completely forgot about my job. It was incredibly relaxing; I felt like I was on valium.

Of course, just from taking one extra day off, I came back to twice the amount of email to wade through. What should make life easier– and allow us to work less– has actually sped up the day and forced us to work like machines, churning it out hour after hour.

I don’t know how people take two weeks off at a time. I can’t imagine how I would ever catch up upon return.

cupcakes

A case of having her cake and eating it too?

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/04/i_accidentally_became_a_housewife_partner/

Perhaps it’s because I’ve had big serious jobs—though I never did reach my youthful dream of being a doctor, lawyer, or doctor/lawyer—and while I loved them, I can’t muster much wistfulness for days spent supervising the work of others, wrestling a budget and schedule into submission, and attending endless meetings. Even when my work was at its most fulfilling, I can’t imagine merging it with my home life as it currently stands—two kids, a husband who travels—without making serious sacrifices in both realms. Friends of mine who work full-time with kids are my heroines, and they are also so stressed out that every time I see them I want to offer them a cupcake and a glass of wine.

the seven-year itch

I love this idea, but if I take another break in seven years, I’m probably signing up for early retirement, because I’m not sure I could find another good full-time job as an unemployed woman in my early fifties:

https://www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_the_power_of_time_off#t-58

getting over it

By my reckoning, here are some things I have “gotten over” in the past decade:

1. Getting over the need for a social scene, getting over the need for a social group, getting over the need for a best friend. All while getting over the idea of a close and supportive family of origin.

2. Getting over the idea that there is an ideal place to live. Some are more suited to me than others, yes, but all seem to involve significant trade-offs.

3. Getting over the idea that there is an ideal job. Again, some are more suited to me than others, but all involve the daily grind of solving one problem after another, eight hours a day, and all involve a certain amount of indignities suffered at the hands of the public, bosses, and co-workers.

4. Getting over the realization that I have ended up becoming the type of person whom, at least in some part of my youthful psyche, represented the worst sort of loserdom: single and childless and without some sort of glamorous career to compensate.

5. Getting over the idea that I am guaranteed to find a satisfying romantic relationship, despite being just as able to engage in one as the next person.

6. Getting over the idea that I can truly rely on anyone but myself.

These are pretty big things to process, and it certainly took some time, time that others were often too impatient to grant me:

Being told to “just get over it” is devaluing. It implies that I am making a mistake in processing an event. It indicates that something is wrong with ME because I am in still confused about something that has not been resolved. The statement is emotionally abusive. – See more at: http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-problem-with-statements-like-%e2%80%9cget-over-it%e2%80%9d/#sthash.CzelJbbm.dpuf