11 July 2009

My Malaise

I haven't been writing much lately but that's of a piece with my general mien. I've been unmotivated and unproductive since December or January and going through the motions.

I wake, exhausted and drained, and drag my ass out of bed. Despite the CPAP I still feel worn down by sleep. (Or maybe it's because I usually stay up until two or three and get up at six.) I'd traditionally go to the gym when I get up at this hour but that would put me into the office around nine, keeping me there until long past my breaking point. I rush to the office so I can leave it sooner.

What's odd is that I don't hate my job. I don't like it, not one bit, but I don't hate it. This is my second go around working for this company and it's incredibly relaxed this time with precious little stress or drama. I don't interact with other business units much, have no crappy secondary responsibilities beyond backing up the build manager, and am not even mentoring anyone right now.[1] I work, take ample mental health breaks during the day for Twitter and Tumblr, go to lunch,[2] go home. Easy peasy.

Why do I hate it so?

Beyond doing work I don't enjoy - writing software is neither emotionally rewarding nor mentally stimulating - for a company I don't particularly like,[3] I realized a few weeks back I don't like anyone at work. I don't actively dislike anyone which is nice, but there is not one person on my team, in the rest of the department, or anywhere in the company I want to talk to or spend one minute more than necessary with. In 25 years in the work force, over 15 in software, I've never worked somewhere and not struck up at least one friendly relationship.

Most of those friendships are fleeting, blinking out of existence when the ties of a common job are severed. A few have lasted years. And of course there's TheWife, whom I met when we worked on opposite ends of the country for the same company.[4] But I don't have that now. I don't have a single connection, close or casual, at work and it's very draining.[5]

Then again, I don't really have any friends here in AZ that I see with any regularity. There are maybe a half-dozen people in the area I genuinely like and enjoy spending time with but very rarely see any of them. Which, beyond the obvious social isolation, means no tennis, no basketball, and no volleyball. So I haven't worked out regularly in months and haven't played any sports in something like three years. Do the math. It's not pretty. I'm out of shape and out of practice and haven't had the beneficial boost of exercise's neurochemical cocktail in months. And of course I've not had the bonding benefits of team play and competition in far longer.

Did I mention I don't like AZ at all?

Yeah there's that, too. We're stuck here for the foreseeable future in a house I can't find the energy or interest to maintain properly[6] in a place I just don't enjoy. For the first two years we had Suns season tickets, giving me a little local rooting interest, but the greed of R. Sarver and the incompetence of S. Kerr killed that for us.

Hell, I haven't eaten sushi in almost four years.[7]

On top of all this, I've almost given up on my dream job. I didn't realize it last fall, but my Pushing Daisies spec failing to crack even the semis of ABC-Disney[8] was like a J. Frazier left hook to the liver. Which body blow didn't put me on the canvas immediately but took the fight right out of me. I know the road is long and twisty and cratered but starting late as I am, I don't imagine having much success with the traditional route. Who wants a 41-year-old assistant getting them coffee and copying scripts? Also: with responsibilities and debts, how could this 41-year old even take a job like that if offered? No, the way in for me needs to be non-traditional and the Fellowship was one of my best hopes.

In December I stretched an old sketch out into a script for a short and submitted it to a few competitions. I continued writing reviews and sketches after that, but haven't taken any idea longer than a sketch beyond rough outline through the first half of 2009. I skipped ABC-Disney this year, rationalizing to myself that focusing on the YA novel I've been noodling these past few months instead of cranking out more specs might more effectively open a backdoor into a staff job. Eminently logical...if only I were actively working on the novel.

The ultimate sign that my malaise is worsening? I skipped Sketch War last week. Hell, if I don't manage to crank out a sketch tomorrow I'll have skipped two weeks running. A consistent, unbroken run that lasted for a year and a half, shot to hell because right now I'd rather stay up till all hours playing with my new drawing tablet than writing. And I love to write, especially the short stuff. Longer pieces can get wearing after the fourth or fifth draft, leaving just the joy of "having written," but sketches? That's like candy to me. And right now I can't find the drive and motivation to spend two short hours writing one.

I'm fucked.

Notes:

  1. They could use a great deal of mentoring; I'm thankfully hip deep in a long and critical project at the moment. I imagine I'll take one or two under my wing in a month or two.
  2. The hour a day I spend basking in the AZ sun - the only good thing about this godforsaken state - reading, and leisurely eating are my solace. I drag us out of the house for dinner far too often in a doomed attempt to recreate that state of bliss of a good lunch hour.
  3. If you know me well, you'll know where I work, what they do, and some or all the reasons I don't like them. There's nothing immoral or unethical about the business or its management; I simply don't care for them.
  4. She was just so funny and caustic and cute on the phone. I was a goner from go.
  5. I'm pretty sure this is why I've backed off my personal blog in favor of Tumblr. I've never been one to belong to online communities despite having made my share of friends online through the years. But now, the only people I feel a connection with while I'm at work are the ones I know online and some of the small circle I know on Tumblr.
  6. A year and a half after having a beautiful stained concrete floor installed through most of the house and I still haven't finished the baseboards. I'm lazy. I'm not that lazy.
  7. Yeah yeah. RA this and Hiro that. I tried sushi in AZ a few times and every time I got sick after. Why? Well, it could be because this is a mother-fucking land-locked state! Seriously, you don't eat raw fish that traveled six hours by truck through the desert. That's right up there with Harry Anderson's rules about eating at a place called Mom's or playing cards with a guy named Pops.
  8. Should it have? I certainly thought so; still do, obviously. Judge for yourselves.

4 comments:

BlackMamba said...

I so totally get it. I've been there and am just starting to post regularly on my own blog again.

I've not even been reading my favorite blogs or commenting. Strictly twitter for me. And some days, even that wasn't appealing.

I'm not even watching TV. So many great shows were killed in the last year. What endures is mostly crap. And the fact my TiVo broke keeps me from recording the shows I still like & watching them when I'm able. Completely out of the loop.

I hope you bust out of this malaise soon.

2old4this said...

I can empathize.
I have been in a similar state, though not as severe as yours.
I haven't been reading the sketches, and I do enjoy them. I haven't touched my blog until just recently, and so on.
Just a few weeks ago, I started on a little side project and I've found that it has given me renewed energy.
Perhaps there's something you haven't tried in the past that you'd like to give a shot? Maybe something different will pull you out of the rut as it has for me?
I dunno, I aint not shrink.

I also sympathize with disliking where you live, I would love to switch with you if I wasn't so locked in here for the next few years.

I hope you run across some folks that are more interesting and fun for you. It's the worst thing having no real friends.

I too hope you bust out of this malaise soon.

Michele / akkasha said...

I am sorry to hear you are feeling this way. I can understand how challenging it is. I really hope it improves soon. Though I can't imagine at this time of year AZ does anything but sap the strength out of you. The heat can be so oppressive. Getting out of bed would be a challenge.

My friend Karen is back in AZ. You might want to email her as she can be quite a good person to spend time with. (I am sad she left PA, but glad she is happy baking in the sun.)

Michael Brownlee said...

Brotha, I smell what you're stepping in.

Shake it up.

Whatever that means.

It's a short fucking life that's going to be over in a blink. If you're not doing what you love, then get crackin'. Screw the pay. You can live without weekly trips to Costco/Target/Best Buy.

I know from what you speek because I went through it myself over the past year. Totally fell off the wagon.

I'll be in LA by October 1. I'm selling everything I own. I don't care if I'm working in a Starbucks, cleaning toilets, to make money. I just want to be there writing.

What have you got to lose?

If nothing else, know that there's a couch - er - floor for you to sleep on come Oct if you wanna check it out. We can write the next hit sitcom while you're there.