The hard part

I am absolutely supposed to be writing a riveting story for the Southern Neighbor right now. It’s due in six days and I haven’t interviewed a soul. Annie’s birthday party is on Saturday and I ought to be puzzling over the ten dollar princess dress pattern I bought on Etsy, but instead I’m here.

Nothing is more exhausting than dull, mindless work. I fill the day, sure, as everyone with an internet connection does. Data entry, pure and simple. In matters of data entry I am competent. In matters of personal beeswax (which today included many subjects ranging from comparing English translations of the Iliad by factors such as hexameter and alliteration to learning more about Cascading Style Sheets)–as I say, in personal interests I am supremely industrious and fairly unflagging. I’m an autodidact and proud of it. I’m as thirsty for knowledge as I imagine a prisoner in solitary confinement might be. My will is of iron and I am conscientious, dutiful, inquisitive, and generally rather hungry.

I spent today imagining pithy and devastating things that I will write on my sign for the next Moral Monday. Many breached even my own sloppy standards of Too Much Personal Information, and so I discarded them. I read things about Politicks and fumed at the gun-loving ignoramuses (ignorami?) whom I can’t bring myself to unfriend, because open minds and I can’t get past the niggling fear that they may be representative of AMURCA (in the spirit of ‘know thine enemy.’)

Between forays into bleeding heart blogs of the cognoscenti and sojourns gazing on His Littlest Highness, I took messages and answered the phone curtly. They love it, I tell you. I’m abrupt and it warms the cockles of our clients’ anxious little hearts. They are simultaneously cowed and delighted. In my mind this is a direct parallel to the fact that our lobby features only very boring magazines: the Scotsman Mortgage, Triangle Business Journal, Mortgage Servicing, Origination News. The more boring, the more professional. That’s how you know we mean business. 

I think they mistake my rudeness for efficiency, which, come to think of it, is correct. As soon as the first warm novelty of the mortgage industry wore off (which, to my credit, took many moons during which I Googled history of mortgages, FDA loans, balloon loans, and the like)– as soon as that became dull, I began to be merely competent. It was only when a year had passed without a promotion or a raise or health insurance that the iron entered the soul. If someone asks me how I like our “new digs” one more time I think I’ll scream. 

I want to write. I want to write anything and be paid for it, instead of snatching moments now and again like sneaking puffs off a cigarette. Or I want to make things with my hands, out of anything: leather, plaster, wood, metal, fabric. Hands too cold here, not used to the air conditioning. I want a window. I want to feel honestly dog tired after work because I’ve used my whole body instead of just my neck.  Wouldn’t it be nice to use your brain at work? To puzzle out JavaScript and make a widget, or a really slick website with jQuery and zippy little requests with XML? I’ve never minded hard work; I mind not being able to use my brain. 

It’s all black leather and cold gooseflesh up in these digs. I’m doing it for Annie, for me. Because as yet there’s nothing else for jobs. I’m learning discipline, which is something they don’t teach you in school, not really. I skated by with brains alone and skipped the hard part. This is the hard part. 


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