Dear Diary: Freelancing Has Made Me Question Everything About, Well, Being Human
Have I come to fully embrace the modern-day human form—or, in some way, devolved from it?
It’s not lost on me that I’ve spent a large chunk of my young adult life working remotely, the last three years to be exact. It was a vocational dreamstate that kept me somewhat sane and cheery as I served anything from ramen noodles to pizza slices in my early 20’s. Now, despite the unshakable olfactory memories spurred by waftings of either chili oil or molten mozzarella, I can now say that I’ve, indeed, seen it to fruition—or some semblance of it. Not all has been neon rainbows and Disney fairytale endings or beginnings. Allot of shit, fucked up shit has, in lieu of traditional working norms, risen to the surface. As if to rip a page of my own O Magazine recommended journal, here are a few self-inscribed passages that, to me, stick out more than the others.
Your Less-than-viral-morning-guru-YouTuber Routine
Sometimes you wake up to an alarm, but, more than often, you’re woken up by the industrial world outside your street-facing window rising into consciousness: the deafening echo of city car jams, slamming doors along your apartment hall, footsteps and all manners of auditory locomotion flood your cocleas. You look out from said window and see people, actually human beings, dressed in “casual work attire”; such iterations of their attires you vaguely remember seeing in magazines like GQ or Vogue or any other like-written publication displayed when you wade through Walgreens.
You’re, however, still naked...or there about, nothing more than two socks cocooning our feet from an unbearable draft. But, don’t fret, you’re getting dressed soon—in yesterday's ensemble. Your laundry mound isn’t yet elevated enough to elicit a large load cycle, the one your twenty-something-year-old washing machine’s option knob is stuck on. And has been since you moved in.
A pair of wrinkled gym shorts, bought on clearance years ago at Target, cover your private bits, layering on underwear seems too tedious.
Black Fruit of The Loom V-necks are the go-to option for hiding your nipples underneath, as they both mask spilt coffee stains and echo a subtle Steve Jobs-like level of acquired success, at least in your mind. (They also come in discounted packs of three or five, so that helps.)
It’s at this time, too, that you start to wonder if showering is more of a societal push than one rooted in hygiene. You begin to play off your body’s situational hydrophobia as an act of green-living: I’m saving the planet by using less water, didn’t you know we’re in a drought? (The latter isn’t true anymore, you know this.) When the only meaningful interactions you’ve had in the past two days were the short lived greetings offered by various Postmates—who all stood on the abysmal edge of your apartment door frame, coffee and scones in hand—a misting of Febreeze seems fit.
When 9am fast approaches, you muster-up the motivation to sit down behind your lopsided IKEA desk and check your email to gauge the day’s workload. But, alas, your roomates are gone; they have “real jobs,” as your mom likes to say. Now's’ the opportune moment to watch porn through your stereo speakers, not headphones, and masturbate free of any auditory shackles.
Tab closed, lube down, coffee mug cupped. The work-day-world is (now) your oyster to shuck from.
Sandwiches With Friends And Mundane Discussions About Human Life Await
In the eyes of your friends, you’re work-from-home, mobile, traffic-less situation seems utopian. They believe your days are filled with yoga breaks, contemplative readings, two-hour lunch breaks spent at Whole Foods. (They’re not all too off.)
Mindfulness and soul-spurred liberation sit in your hand; enlightenment rings your head in a corona of light. Above all, you have carved out a certain boundless freedom, Monday through Friday, one they so desperately crave.
Some of those friends are introverts who have flourcense lit desk jobs and insistent coworkers. One close friend in particular always seems to have a problem with Karen’s unnecessarily loud phone conversations with her ex-husband, especially when they plan “the kids’ schedules.” Others are extroverts who overcommit or sell himself or herself too large to board members: this friend complains about being “so fucking busy,” albeit never admits to their own hand in doing so.
They—your bright-eyed friends, brimming with misplaced optimism—gawk and marvel and lust at your ability to meet with them for lunch, virtually at the drop of a hat. But you—the at-home cave creature you’ve learned to embrace, smelling of a scented propellent—are acutely aware you need to see the sun. To see how the world exists beyond the apartment that now smells of Lysol, and the yet taken out trash you’ve used the aforementioned PNG branded product to mask. Trade off-white carpet for green grass.
When you do finally meet your lunch companion, you’ve already stretched your neck in anticipation for the odious amounts of empathetic nods you’ll take. Like agreeing to how problematic the commute into the city has become, how coworkers like Karen need to quote “leave their personal shit at the door,” the burnout that’s snuffed from taking on too much ego-driven work in order to show your boss you can “hustle” as well as an celebrity CEO who sports a 48% approval on Glassdoor. All these things, all these “normalisms,” you bob your shampooed head to. (Oh, and congrats: you took a shower and shaved in preparation to meet said friend! It’s all about the small victories, really. )
Because, remember: to them, found and cultivated an Eden. You’ve “figured it out.” You can’t let them now that this Eden is, in fact, a cum towel littered eleven-by-ten-foot room in a shared three-bedroom apartment in SoMa, smelling of artificial lemongrass and eucalyptus. That’s off-putting. And, frankly, depressing as fuck.
Weekends: When You’re Catapulted into the Outside World, and You Have to do the Things
Come Saturday and Sunday, you prepare your face in all manner of way, groom what needs to be groomed, pluck what needs to be plucked; cut your finger and toenails down to acceptable lengths, do your laundry in preparation for the social outings to come. WIth an inspired ease, you again assimilate yourself into the world around you. You finally do a bit of grocery shopping at Trader Joes, maybe Whole Foods if that one client's checked cleared Friday. SafeWay if it’s toward the tail end of a slower month. The gyms you frequent at 2pm on the weekdays are now—in lieu of nine-to-five happenings—busy, quaked by unspotted pseudo bodybuilders dropping 200-plus-pound racked weights onto the lunuloum foor. They, the gym goers, smell of sweat and bargain store body scents, an unpleasant sensory bombardment you’re simply not accustomed to during the week; no one has the time to frequent a fitness center at 3:10pm on a Tuesday, there’s no corporate structure that supports such an indulgence.
And then there’s the primal sociability and mere act of living nestled within the weekends, two factors that hit your chest like a loaded semi-truck going ninety. You, as well, again become acquainted with traffic, understand the communal woes shared inside a BART packed tighter than albacore tuna inside a four-ounce can, feel your knuckles whiten as you cross the Bay Bridge at noon. You pay for things using your physical Amex card, not via PayPal transactions.
Lyft's are ordered with the “me and a friend” option as you embark on dinner and bar and club ventures. There’s a welcomed tactility forced by the weekend—one that is, more or less, completely absent behind your nordic workstation.
Alas, Sunday evening settles into its familiar lull. You, time and again, embrace it with open arms, skunked by charred cannabis. It’s at this specific point—the eve’s end to one week, teetering on the near-morning of the next—that you reacquaint yourself with your reasons for choosing a work-from-home vocation.
As it happens, a friendly text often wakes your phone at this exact time, offering an affirmation.
“Thanks for coming out for champagne and ordering the Lyft,” one text, in some invariable iteration, always reads. “At least we got one more drink before fucking Monday comes, right?”
You reply warmingly, graciously, reassuringly. But you know that, while the said receiver sits in bumper-to-bumper gridlock come the ensuing morning, you’ll be softly rocked awake into the work week.
Bolivian Coffee and B-quality porn await you in just a few hours—so you, my dear, can rest easy.
Photography sourced on Unsplash