Friday, August 17, 2012

Blanket Fort

Of all the bad habits I should be giving up, sleep is the one that seems to have been successfully kicked. Couple that with the fact that today is Friday, the golden child of the week, and all I can think about is going home. Since I got to work at 8 this morning, I've been signing off my calls by telling the customers to have a good night. No one has challenged me on it, mostly because I hang up immediately after saying it, and I keep thinking that the day is going to be over in just a little bit. I look at the clock to see it's merely 10:15 am.

Then I answer questions as I hear them, not as they are asked, confusing these poor people more than they already are. Today I'm more interested in playing Draw Something rather than focusing on the caller at hand. I've been tempted to use my blanket as a pillow and fall asleep at my cube. Then a fulltime staff member asks me what I'll do if I ever get a "real" job.

Hopefully my mind will be engaged in my "real" job. So maybe I should engage my mind here? Well, I have. This is what I've come up with:

I'm going to build the coolest blanket fort ever known to the cubicle world. I'm going to bring in piles of blankets from home and build a canopy over my desk. I'm going to bring in strings of lights and lava lamps, because no blanket fort should be without a lava lamp. I'm going to bring in a bean bag and I'm going to put my computer on the floor. I'm going to bring in popcorn and a GameBoy Color, even though I hate popcorn and I've never owned a GameBoy, color or otherwise.

I'm going to answer phone calls as if I am an airport claims agent from London. " 'Ello, love, Benedict here from British Air. We've got a claim here for a lost bag which I'm quite sure I told you personally to toss in the hatch before we left Heathrow." You'll have to imagine the accent on that one. It's quite convincing in my head.

Or as if I am an astronaut. "Houston? Are you there? I can't hear you very well from Mars." Click.

Or maybe like an angry father. "Who are you looking for? Janice isn't home right now. Besides, she doesn't want to speak to the likes of you! Good day, sir! Oh, it's ma'am? Pardon me. Janice will be right with you." Then I'll hang up anyway. It's their own fault for interrupting my game of Zelda.

I had a friend working here until midway through the summer. His goal for the last week of work was to get fired. It didn't work for him. I'm going to show him how it's done.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tear Down This Wall

Who coined the term "Hit a wall"?

"Dude. I just hit a wall. I have to go to bed."

Really? Punching walls does that to you, eh?

Well folks, I've hit a wall. It's the end of summer and my tiredness is borderline consumptive. I have less than three weeks to work at the bank, then I start school again. Change will be good, but I'm really just trading one form of busyness for another. Does life slow down, or do I just look for new and exciting ways to be busy?

"I'd love to hang out, but I don't have time! Maybe I will when I'm retired. See you in 40 years!"

I don't think it's worth it. Hitting one wall after another. Two week vacation here, three day weekend there. To what end? Big house, big truck, big yard, big fence, big headache.

I don't think there is anything wrong with these things. I think it would be wrong for me to strive for them, because it would be inconsistent with what I want to do with my life. I want to live with poor, broken people who need someone to love them. If that means owning a giant house, ok! Let the people come live with me. If that means a big vehicle, fine. I'll tote people around who don't have a car.

This type of life is what makes me come alive. While I'm trying to pay bills by sitting in a cubicle, direction can get muddled; purpose goes down the toilet; I start hitting a wall.

Then I remember that life is full of seasons. I won't always hit a wall. I may just have to break a few more down before I can be done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

City of Mirrors

I spent some time working at a hostel in Berat, Albania. Berat Backpackers is a fantastic little hostel, which I recommend you visit. If not the hostel, at least the website. There are some beautiful photos of the city and surrounding areas which will enhance this story for your imaginative pleasure.

I was volunteering at the hostel. I did some landscaping, cleaning, registering guests and a little shopping for the kitchen.

It was the end of the season, so the hostel was closing up. We helped board up doors and harvest some veggies from the garden and deplete the left overs from the kitchen.

The locals would come hang out with us in the evenings. We found some speakers and had dance parties every night. The bar was full at the beginning of the week. We did well at "depleting the leftovers."

When the week started wrapping up, we went out to celebrate a successful season, though my friends and I had just arrived. We went to a local bar and had dinner. Then we stayed until 5 am drinking delicious wine that stained our teeth purple and dancing to whatever pop music the make-shift DJ put on.

The next afternoon, my travel companions and I decided to go for a walk through the city. As you can see from the pictures, it's a gorgeous city with a lot of things to see: castles, mosques, orthodox churches, white washed houses with a wall of windows, cobblestone streets that only people and donkeys can pass.

As we strolled through the city, it was completely silent. It was during the afternoon call to prayer. I could hear it being sung from the speakers on top of the mosque. Our shoes clacked on the cobblestones, reminiscent of an old movie; the ominous clapping of shoes in a large corridor. Suspense.

But this was not suspenseful. It was peaceful. The birds welcomed us and sang to us. The white walls seemed to warm to us as we approached. The flowers sitting in their pots turned their faces towards us to say, "Hello! So glad you came to visit!"

It was warm and sunny. The singing from the mosque came to a close, and people started appearing, smiling to us, asking us questions that we couldn't understand. We visited the orthodox church. The doors were open and the sanctuary was empty. The carpet and pews were bright red. There were golden ropes to guide people where to sit and worship. Dried flowers were sprinkled on every ledge giving off the faintest hint of a garden aroma. The ceilings were high and intricately adorned. Mostly in gold.

We stopped at a cafe for lunch. We had sandwiches and coffee. People came to talk to us. Some left because we couldn't speak Albanian. Others wanted to practice their English with us. Most were friendly. Some were creepy.

Later that day, I was sitting on the patio at the hostel reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot and smoking a pipe. I was enjoying the scenery that spilled out in front of me. We were on the side of a hill facing a small valley. There was another hill opposing us. The houses crawled up the side of that hill. Every wall was made of large windows. The sun was setting behind me and the windows were singing her beauty. I was getting a little hungry. I leaned back in my chair and picked a pomegranate the size of my head. I cracked it open and thought, "I will never leave Albania." I truly believed, as I still do today, that I had found a magical world not of this planet.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week Stomach

I woke up this morning with a song stuck in my head.

I stumbled out of bed singing "I believe I am fixin' to die." I was singing in the shower. Singing as I drank my coffee. Singing as I put on my shoes and gathered my lunch.

Then Dana told me that I was not going to die, it's just Monday.

Fine. I'll go to work then.

I used to think people who complained about Monday were just whiny. They were stuck in a job they didn't like. If they just tried to find some enjoyment in their job and the people they worked with, Monday would actually be a good day! "Hey! I get to go to work this morning!" I was sure they would sing as they crawled out of bed.

I don't know if I completely agree with that anymore. I do not hate my job. I actually rather enjoy it. It's painfully boring, but I get to do things while I sit in my cube. I write, read, listen to music. Things that I would be doing at home, but here I get paid for it.

I'd rather be home, though. I'd rather be sitting on my couch, in my unders, with a bowl of chips. Not every day of the week, but I do on Monday mornings when the thought of getting out of bed makes me sick to my stomach. Like someone who walks past wearing far too much cologne. And not good cologne, either. Something like Bod. That's what it's like Monday morning. Bod cologne.

Tuesday, though, seems like a completely different story. The days aren't nearly as busy; getting out of bed isn't nearly as difficult, though my wife may disagree with that statement; and I feel as though the weekend is just around the corner. My co-workers don't seem to appreciate it when I say, "The week's almost over!" on a Tuesday. I don't know why...

I'm not convinced Wednesdays exist. I never remember anything that happens on a Wednesday. My supervisor told me I shouldn't put so much Bailey's in my coffee on those days, either, but I don't think the two statements are related.

Thursdays are slow. Not painful like a Monday, but it's the day before the day before the weekend. It's the armpit of the week. If Monday through Friday were a set of bathrooms, Thursday would be the dingy outhouse that no one wants to go to because a spider might crawl up his or her nether parts. There's not a lot one can do to spruce up a Thursday. It should probably just be burned.

Then the glorious Friday. The day that gets far too much credit. The day that is grossly overestimated. The day that holds her power over the other days of the week like an older sister with her first set of car keys. With her first un-shared bedroom. With her cute little sundress that mommy and daddy bought her. Everyone adores her and she knows it. She's a diva. She would be the bathroom with a clawfoot tub in the middle of the room. Just because she can.

I feed right into Fridays. I love Fridays. I try not to, but I can't help it. I get to go home and veg out for the next two days. Or go out of town. Or whatever I want. How is this a bad thing? And sometimes I get paid on a Friday. Those are the Fridays worth working for.

But, for every Friday comes a Monday. And these are the mornings that I wake up to face death. Or phone calls. Whichever comes first. I couldn't tell you which would be worse.