Take a Deetour

"I write to find out what I think." - Joan Didion

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Shanghai Divas

The Bubble Ball, Dahling...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Work Schmork… I’d Rather be at the Movies

A little piece I wrote for the mag, pre-fashion-editorized...

Lelaina: Well, I know this sounds cornball but I'd like to somehow make a difference in people's lives.

Troy: And I... I would like to buy them all a Coke.

Reality Bites.

That last bastion of über-hip Gen-X film-making. All of my youthful hopes and aspirations for life, love and career California Handrolled into one bite-sized 90’s package.

I remember watching the video over and over, day-dreaming naively that one day I too would graduate and live a life of glamorous struggle, flanked by an adorable yuppie and sensitive, sarcastic, guitar-playing slacker, both fighting for my affections.

You remember too, don’t you? The blissful existence of a pre-workforced you? C’mon, crank up your creaky old brains and take a little angst-filled walk with me back to the year 1994…
- Dancing to My Sharona at a gas station!
- Answering the phone like this, “Hello, you've reached the winter of our discontent.”!
- Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner making a cameo appearance!
- Janeane Garofalo’s far out vintage-dress-and-neon-tights-with-platforms ensembles!
- Lisa “Stay (I Missed You)” Loeb in her groovy granny glasses!
- The awesome soundtrack! Oo, Baby I love your waaay… Oh Yes!
- Ethan Hawk and Winona Ryder in their most career-defining roles!

Uh… that is, until Ethan became Uma’s ex and Winona became a shoplifter.

See? Reality really Bites!

My graduation came and went. So did the men (disappointingly enough, not one greasy-haired, guitar-playing slacker or adorable yuppie-type). And I got a job. Even made Assistant Manager in three years, thus relinquishing the right to uninterrupted sleep, long lunches and work-free weekends. I also relinquished the right to a social life, family life and heck – LIFE, period. I worked fourteen-hour days, kissed a lot of corporate butt and bought books like What Colour is Your Parachute? and How to Negotiate Effectively Without Being a Bitch (notice how men never have books like that written for them?).

Then one day, up to my blood-shot eyeballs in meetings, impossible deadlines, difficult clients, and staff appraisals, I pulled out my old Reality Bites video for some comfort viewing. Only that didn’t happen. I wasn’t comforted by the angsty characters who had made me laugh and dream and laugh again. Instead, I got angry.

My beloved cast-of-characters was suddenly a bunch of very irritating, irresponsible, whiney, good-for-nothing-slacker strangers. Why did they sit around talking shit and complaining all day? If they were all so witty and smart why didn’t they get off their asses and get better jobs? Didn’t they know smoking that many cigarettes was dangerous and unhealthy? Ben Stiller wasn’t really that annoying as a Yuppie anymore, was he?

Hitting the stop button on my VCR and fumbling for a swig of San Miguel, I pondered this alarming turn in perspective. What the hell was happening here? Not only did Reality Bites the movie bite, but my own reality was biting me too. The familiar cast had become strangers to me and wait – I was a stranger to me too. I felt cantankerous, judgmental and suddenly very, very old.

A year and a half later, I quit my job.

So now I’m what’s called a dreaded “FREELANCER”, which means I get paid pretty decently for doing a lot less than before. That also means I also get a lot of dirty looks and even dirtier words from those who are still being workforced. Bwahahaha, I get to work when I want and I can do it all from home! I have time for long lunches, high-teas and late night drinks. Best of all, I get to spend time with the people who mean the most to me, those same people I neglected during my years in the corporate wilderness.

Lelaina: I have to work around here and unfortunately, Troy, you are a master at the art of time suckage.

Troy: Oh well I'm sorry Miss “Poster-girl for the Worker's Party” but until I get that, uh, toe-hold in the burger industry, I've got a little time to suck.

That’s right, I do have a little time to suck and I’m gonna enjoy it. You can call me a lazy, good-for-nothing slacker if you want. A year and a half ago, I would have too. But know this: I work hard, take my freelance projects extremely seriously and have a healthy bank account to prove it. Which leaves me with plenty of time to get on with crowd-free afternoon shopping excursions, mid-day movie marathons minus the ridiculous $9.50 ticket prices and in Lelaina’s immortalized words to Troy, plenty of time to “eat and couch and fondle the remote control”. Plus, I can go to work in my Victoria’s Secret PJs anytime I want.

And if that’s not called job satisfaction, then I don’t want to know what is.