Saturday, February 23, 2013

New, Just No Different

This week I started (yet) another full-time temp job.

The good thing about it is that I get to do publishing stuff! (Hooray for that! I'm in my own office -- albeit a small, dark one -- and I don't have to answer phones or smile unnecessarily or order catering or make travel arrangements. And in general I like intelligent, odd publishing people a lot better than generic State Worker office people.)

The bad thing about it: An hour-long bus-trip each way to a barren work "campus." No more quick 20-minute jaunts to/from the workplace downtown; no more invigorating lunch hours sitting on a Congress Avenue bench watching people or walking a couple of blocks for library/post office/drugstore errands.

I've just been doing this for 3 days; and the job ends in maybe 3 weeks or so. What the daily lengthy bus-trips far away from the center of town remind me EXACTLY of, though, is the commute I had back when I lived in Weehawken, Jersey, and worked a 6-month temp gig at a publishing company further upstate. An hour and 45 minutes each way. And also a completely isolated, barren "campus" reached only after traveling through miles and miles of highway and strip-mall. (I enjoyed watching the Canadian geese hanging around the grounds and pooping bizarrely large dog-sized poops, but that was all that was interesting about the environs.) 6 months of that!

I guess the point about what I'm doing now is: "been there, done that." The first time in Jersey was physically draining (and I very much missed not seeing New York City daily for those 6 months--"I did not move up here just for this!"). And now I'm doing exactly the same thing: 2 hours of bus-commuting, 8 hours of a completely sterile environment. Yet without the promise of at least getting to go into New York City on the weekends or being able to look at its glamorous, inspiring skyline from just across the Hudson, a mere 5-minute walk from my Weehawken apartment...

When I was working for the past 4 months in downtown Austin, it was neat: Despite all my years here, I'd never experienced the downtown part of it (except going to bars after midnight). I LIKED it. It felt good going to work there. Not just because I had a new way of seeing "my" city, but because the "vibe," the "energy," was just plain happy and positive, and I gratefully soaked it in--regardless of my "thoughts" about it.

Today, though, I don't consider the highways/strip malls of the northern part of Austin to be "Austin," or to be anything. They're exactly the same as the highways/strip malls I saw while I was commuting in Jersey. (As said highways/malls are the same in any part of the country, I now know. Got it. Don't need to have the same picture shown to me again and again!)

I've completely stopped advancing. I'm just circling back over old, faded (because xeroxed) material. Is that what it means to be "middle-aged"? In the past, if I felt too antsy, there were always a couple of dreams in the valise (like moving to NYC) that I could unpack when desperate for their "getting me out of my rut" value.

There are no such reserves left right now. At this point, I've pretty much jump-started myself as much as I feel like doing. And I'm curious about the middle-aged thing: Seriously, is the only path left "the path of least resistance"?

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