Hi friends! I don’t know about you but I am finding it increasingly difficult to be motivated to do anything right now. Work. Get out of bed. Reply to texts or emails. I went into my office this week for the first time in 203 days to grab a bunch of things at my desk. I’ve been told that I’ll be working from home at least through June 2021.
It was weird to be at the office. Like a time capsule. Calendars showing March, an unfinished puzzle on my team’s puzzle table. I was told that people were watering the plants at the office but it looks like no one watered my air plant (you actually need to water them) so, I suffered a casualty:
<image of brown, dried up air plant near a white ceramic planter shaped like a brontosaurus>
It wasn’t a complete bummer, though! I was able to grab one of my favorite mugs:
<image of pale pink coffee mug that has the text, “I’m a lot cooler on the internet” on the side of it>
Today I want to talk about jobs. Specifically, we have a really fucked up relationship with jobs in this country. The other day my friend used the term “dream job” and I had a realization that I don’t have a dream job. Because my dreams are not about working. Capitalism has us so twisted that we don’t even know how to dream anymore, because even our dreams often revolve around doing work.
I dated someone who was not American and something he said always sticks with me: “In the U.S., you live to work. Where I am from, I work so that I may live.” It was then, about 15 years ago, I really began to deliberately work on untangling my self-worth and identity from what I do for a paycheck. Doing so has been one of the best things I have done for my mental health.
When we are too busy working, or looking for work, or working multiple jobs, we don’t have the time or energy to protest or demand our rights. On top of that, we really, desperately need to stop glorifying working ourselves into the ground. I don’t want to grind. I don’t want to hustle. I don’t want every day to end with physical and emotional exhaustion. I don’t want my tombstone to read, “Well, she certainly got a lot done!” At one time, I did want that. I would cheerfully say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” and “Caffeinated and motivated!” What examples are we setting for those younger than us? What are we saying about the worth of people with chronic illnesses or disabilities who cannot hustle like some of us? What are we saying about the worth of the many, many people who have lost jobs this year? Or the worth of parents who stay home with their children instead of staying in the rat race? Don’t forget about people who are retired or who work for low pay, which is a large part of the population!
If you are unfamiliar with the Nap Ministry, I highly recommend you give them a follow on social media.
<image of black text on a white background. The text is highlighted in yellow and reads, “grind culture is a collaboration between white supremacy and capitalism. It views human bodies as machinery.”>
I know that my productivity is not my worth and yet, it’s still a hard thing to shake because it is in the air we breathe in this society. Every day, every single day, I feel like I’m not doing “enough.” Enough what? Fuck if I know. I feel guilty for not “making the most of the pandemic.” THAT IS A BONKERS THING TO THINK! I KNOW! Me, a person with chronic depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, living in a pandemic, with a fucked up government, while I’m also a Black queer woman and yet my brain is like, “If you would just not sleep so late and not stare at the internet so much, you could have written a book by now. Or at least, you could have been a lot better at the ukulele by now.”
It’s very easy for me to tell others that you are doing the best you can and your best looks different every day etc. etc. but it’s a hard thing to accept for myself. But, I’m trying. I hope you are as well.
I want to circle back to dream jobs. My job I have right now is in fundraising for a major university. It is not my dream job. In fact, if I’m going to be quite honest, in a perfect world, my job would not exist. If things were as they should be, billionaires would be taxed appropriately and the government would ensure that we all had our basic needs met, that we all have opportunities to go to university debt-free, there would be universal healthcare, and everyone would have a roof over their heads and food in their refrigerator. Taking it further, in a perfect world, billionaires wouldn’t even exist because you don’t make that kind of money without exploiting someone somewhere down the line. A quick note, that in countries where the government takes better care of their people, my job doesn’t really exist.
That being said, we are not there yet. So I work this job to do what I can to funnel the money to things like cancer research and STEM education.
But it is not my dream. My job is the tool, not the dream itself. And that's okay.
Here’s my dream: I dream of Nicole and I having a home with ample space for a garden. A space converted to a martial arts studio so she can teach queer folks how to fight. I would cook big meals and we would all eat together after their class. I’d give them a bit of life advice. We’d have an extra room in case there’s a young person who gets kicked out of their home for being LGBTQIA+ and we’d give them a place to stay for a couple weeks and help them get on their feet. I’d definitely improve my ukulele skills and move onto piano. Maybe I’d even start singing again! I’d continue to write, as I know I have a few books in me. I’d continue to podcast about books. Maybe start my own podcast. Each year I would rent a many-roomed home and host a reading retreat with scholarships for people of color who want to attend. We’d have a group read, but otherwise there would just be comfy places to curl up with books, freshly-baked goods, and ample tea and coffee.
I do not dream of working.
I dream of living.
I welcome you to reply and share your dreams!
<image is animated gif of a ouija board. The planchette moves and spells out the words, “bye Felicia”>
That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, share it with a friend, and/or give me a tip!