Great Expectations

This is not the way it was supposed to happen.

Today’s blog post – as I started mapping it out weeks ago in my mind – was designed to be unabashedly celebratory. This was going to be the ultimate All About Me™ post, a new high point in the self-adulatory Golden Boy Chronicles. This was supposed to be the post in which I triumphantly crowed, bragged, and boasted to the rooftops of the blogosphere that I’d ARRIVED – or returned, depending on how you look at it – to that charmed place under the sun in which I so rightfully belong, and that all was once again right and good and exactly how it was supposed to be.

I was supposed to tell you that I’d accepted a new job. More than that, one that would make up for the dreariness and drudgery of one that I’ve come to resent for failing to keep me inspired and happy. This new job, I was supposed to announce, was shiny and wonderful, filled with wonderful, dynamic supervisors, and would provide an atmosphere where I could positively flourish. Because of this job, I would do wonderful, fucking fantastic things.

This is what I was supposed to be telling you today.

But you know what? I’m not.

As occasionally happens in life, things didn’t go quite the way I hoped they would. After weeks of interviews and a cautious escalation of hope, I got the final call late last week (on a Friday afternoon, no less. As an aside, who does that??). Apparently, my obvious brilliance was not quite as brilliant as someone else’s.

And just like that, it was all over.

Naturally, I was a little bit upset. (Did I mention that this was at 4:30pm on a FRIDAY afternoon???) There may or may not have been a few minutes of abject pouting (okay, I swore viciously under my breath and almost had to buy the university a new computer), followed by a short period of quiet mourning (in which I may or may not have packed up my entire office in a grown-up version of ‘fuck you, I’m taking my marbles and going home!’). After glimpsing the rosy utopian future promised by the new position, the prospect of returning, beaten, to the day-in day-out existence at my current office seemed too bleak to contemplate.

But…now that I’ve had a solid week away from the office and on the road, my thoughts have settled and tempered somewhat, and…I’m okay with this.

Not that I don’t cringe, shudder, and die a little bit at the thought of trudging back into my same old cubicle – now with carefully blank, sterile walls – come tomorrow morning, because to be completely honest, I do. I can still enumerate the things that fucking irritate me beyond all belief about this place from rote memory. But at the same time, I think I cringe, shudder, and die a little less than I did several weeks or months ago.

See, I’ve been thinking this over. A couple weeks ago, the great Steve Jobs departed for that great iCloud in the sky, and the world all of a sudden went mad. In the midst of the mass gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair, and rampant eulogizing, all I could think of was how cool it was that Steve worked to the very end because he loved what he had created, and how lucky any of us should be to find something we’re that passionate about in our professional lives. I mean, he found something he was both brilliant at and loved doing, and he found ways to make sure he never stopped doing them. There might have been a few bumps and obstacles along the way, but he didn’t let them sidetrack him. And right down to the very end, if you believe the reports that’ve recently come to light, he was still hard at work making sure his final products would come out just so.

Not that he needed to, mind you: he had a gazillion dollars, was dying of cancer, and could have simply just said ‘fuck it’ and plopped himself down in front of HGTV for his final days. Or, when he was pushed out of Apple the first time around, he could have sat moping in a cubicle, getting bitter and resentful.

But because he was passionate about what he did, he kept right on going, circumstances be damned.

And that? That’s what it’s all about, in the end. At the end of the day, I should be excited. I should feel like I’ve accomplished something. I should be passionate enough about something to want to do it because it’s gratifying, not because I need the money. I should inadvertently work late most days because I’m caught up in a project I want to finish. I should want to voluntarily come in on weekends and holidays, not sprint out of the office with a sense of relief that another workday is crossed off on the calendar.

If this is where I’m spending forty hour and another ten-plus hours a week in transit to and from, and is eating up time I could be writing or spending with Boyfriend, then it better be worth it. It better not just be marking time.

And maybe I’ve had it exactly backward all this time: maybe it was a mistake to believe it was my job’s responsibility to provide that. Maybe it’s MY job to make sure I’m making the most of every precious moment and getting what I need out of all this. I desperately wanted out because I felt like my job has been utterly failing me: there’s no validation for work well done, there’s no challenge, there’s no motivation to do better.

Well, maybe I’ve just been completely spoiled in the past and have come to expect entirely too much of my supervisors, administrators, and general workplace (Hi Savona, hi Scott, hi Kirsten!). Maybe I’ve depended too much on the thrill and personal gratification and job satisfaction to come from sources external to myself. And maybe, just maybe, in order to regain those cherished elements of my work, I need a little paradigm shift. If I’m not happy where I am? Maybe I need to find something in it to be passionate about.

So thanks to a little posthumous inspiration from My. Jobs, that’s my goal, now. I can sit around spinning in circles in my desk chair, sighing in frustration over the myriad little fucking irritations and disappointments of what I once thought would be the Greatest Job Ever…or I can make it the Best Job Ever. At least until the Next Greatest Job Ever comes along…

So…come tomorrow morning, bright and early (well, not too early, because I’m still wickedly jet-lagged from this latest trip), I’m going to find the things that excite me and thrill me about my current job if it kills me. I’m going to find the challenge. And I’m going to find the gratification; if the job doesn’t provide it, I’ll fucking gratify myself. And I’ll keep on doing it, giving 150% of myself – and not for anyone else, but for myself.

Eventually, another position will come up that sparks my interest and whets my appetite. I’ll go through this whole process again, and one of these times, the job is gonna fucking be mine, and I can walk away knowing that I haven’t been wasting my time here. Because there’s one more enduring lesson we can all learn from Steve Jobs: that some of us are just too fucking fabulous to be kept down in the muck.

Now…if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get to gratifying myself.

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Bitter, Hold the Sweet: In Which Zach Maybe, Hopefully Finds A Job (But Still Wants to Die A Little Bit)

If you’re a regular reader of pro(zach)nation, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been a little lackadaisical about my posting of late. That’s not because I hate y’all – I don’t – but is because…well…frankly, I’ve finally fallen into a bit of a slump lately. Which, you know, is an inevitable and perfectly natural reaction when one is suddenly and prolongedly unemployed while the inept upper-level administrator who couldn’t make a hard decision if it killed him and went with the easier solution of just getting rid of the last guy hired (and is it just me, or do I always go into run-on sentence mode when talking about my last boss??) still has a cushy office and a new car (and no, I’m not bitter, not ever).

More and more often, my morning gym session and writing time have been supplanted with lying in bed until noon, then watching re-runs of Drawn Together (best show ever, by the way, and yes, I totally am dressing as Xander next Halloween) until ennui is supplanted by panic and a fleeting bit of motivation to apply for a job or two. Then I nap, eat cookies and cake icing (cookies plus cake icing equals delicious yumminess, but yucky midsection gooeyness!), apply for another few jobs, take a couple sleeping pills, and drift back into happy oblivion for a preciously short amount of time before repeating the process. If everyone around me is lucky, there’s a shower and a change of clothes somewhere in there.

Give me a blonde wig, a couple more pills, and better cleavage and I’m practically Anna Nicole Smith. Only, you know, alive.

As much as I love a little angst and an opportunity to be a broody, martyred drama queen and channel my inner Evita (as played by Madonna, not Patti Lupone, cuz that would just be gross), luckily a sea change has come: I’ve got a job interview Monday.

This is big. This is exiting. It’s bigger than Toots’ ass and more exciting than Xandir’s (note to self: stop watching old Comedy Central shows before urge to sodomize cartoon characters sets in). It’s my first interview since the folks at ASU’s admissions office somehow forgot to call me back last month.

And not only do I have an interview, it’s one that I’m pretty sure I really, really can’t fuck up. At the risk of bringing karma down on my ass, I’m fairly confident I’ll have this job.

Why so sure? Because it’s something so beautifully simple I know I can do it. If I don’t get it, I might as well just crawl under a rock somewhere, because it means I pretty much universally fail and suck at life.

Yep…after five months of unemployment, it’s come to desperate measures and something I swore I’d never do: I’m interviewing for a position at the McDonalds down the block. Not only is it friggin’ McDonalds, it’s part-time. And it’s night shift. Nobody in the history of the universe – except maybe George and Babs Bush when they realized they’d given birth to a chromosomally-challenged troglodyte – has ever had more right to be utterly conflicted.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled at the prospect of work. The savings account is about tapped out and the stocks and bonds are long since liquidated. This ass is b-r-o-k-e. If I were still a little skinnier I’d be stripping on the bar at the local gay watering hole by now (which I’m pretty sure would bother boyfriend even more than me slinging fries and smelling like mystery meat). If I were a little more ethically challenged, I’d be considering the plus-side to having a pimp. Yes, money might be nice right about now.

But still…it’s McDonalds. Given the tanking George and Babs’ shoulda-been-coat-hangered-in-utero son gave the economy, I figured a plum job right in my career field might not just fall into my lap overnight. I was totally okay with that. I figured I’d use the downtime to totally do something cool, like be a scruffy-hipster-hot barista or a sexy-nerd bookstore clerk, or possibly be one of trendy pretty fags that work at trendy-pretty-fag Meccas like the upscale fashion mall in Scottsdale or the organic grocery store. Or maybe I’d lose my clothes and play go-go boy at a bar downtown, where I’d win the hearts and wallets of legions of men before going off to become a runner-up on American Idol and get hired by Paula Abdul to be her personal pool boy and pill counter.

Alas, that’s not to be. The trendy fun places aren’t hiring right now, even though any employer in their right mind would totally bend over (er, backwards) to employ someone who embodies sheer awesomeness as much as me. Also, it turns out a diet of cookies and cake icing do not lend themselves to abs anybody wants to see dancing on a bar. And also, I can’t sing, and Paula’s off the show. So…McDonalds it is, for now.

Le sigh. If ever scoring an interview felt like a hollow, Phyrric victory (which, as much as it sounds like a phallic victory, is significantly less fun), this is it. I was okay with being destitute, so long as I could be hip, sexy, or cool doing it.

Wish me luck, folks, and if anyone can think of a hip, sexy, cool way of saying ‘welcome to McDonalds’, please pull up to the second window and let me know.