Saturday, October 29, 2005

I figured out what's bugging me

So I have this job with a mega mega corporation doing QA (that's Quality Assurance to the uninitiated) on standardized tests. I don't even know where to begin looking at the morass of implications I find myself wound up in--this job involves me, morally, financially, and personally with the No Child Left Behind Act, with corporate influence swaying our educational system, with the corporate sending of jobs overseas (we outsource a lot to India), with confronting the whole concept of standardization and statistical analysis of individuals, I find myself participating in the gas economy in ways I find disturbing (I commute 48 miles each way to work, that's about a tank and a half of gas a week, $50 a week) and the worst part is, none of this is what bugs me. See, I am socially irresponsible; I share this trait with my fellow americans (some of them). I even buy coffee at Starbucks, because I get up at 6 am and at the end of the drive I need fuel and it is the only coffee place near work. So. I find myself deeply implicated, and as a direct result of trying to jump off the grid, move to Big Sur, live organically and do something different.

A series of bad choices, catastrophes, and disappointments have landed me in the exact spot I did not want to be. And it's not like I even have a "family to feed"--so there's no excuse for selling out like this.

Why am I doing it?
Because I am living as a dependant in a house where I don't belong and I need to move which costs a lot in California.
Because I love the central coast and want to find a way to stay.
Because I need capital.

But are these reasons good enough?
I don't know.

But that isn't what bugs me.

What bugs me is that, in going over all these tests I remember taking as an elementary school kid and high schooler, my old dreams and certainties come flooding back. I remember who I used to be, how I hated school (after the 4th grade at least--the early grades were pretty fun) and how I vowed that once I grew up I would never, ever, ever EVER look at a bubble sheet again.

Twelve years later... Here I sit, at a desk covered in bubble sheets, and I think, and I wonder, how?
Is the burocratic gene just in my blood, like hemophaelia? Both my parents are burocrats-by-necessity.

But everything I have done or tried to do was an attempt to extricate myself, So how in the fuck?

I don't know.
I try to console myself by stopping at Moss Landing sanctuary on the ride home (I use the word advisedly) from work, but an hour with the waves and the seals doesn't quite quiet my conscience, my sense of dread, or the cold feeling I have in the pit of my throat (directly across from the lizard brain) that I will never be what I promised myself, and that I have become, by some process of naivete? stupidity? bad luck? impulsiveness? the very person I never imagined being.

So yeah, participating in the global economy, world domination, excessive consumption and a cubicular lifestyle is all very bad, but what really bugs me, what really bugs me is, here I am. Editing the very word problems that made my skin crawl 20 years ago, and still do.

And besides, I am lonely. I hoped that getting a job would throw me into a greater social milieu, but the office is laid out so that no one sees each other (it feels like a prairie dog village or a giant habitrail) and the few coworkers I do interact with are a good deal older. Not unfriendly, just unavailable. I see young people drifting in and out of the partitions, but they are gone before I can say hello.

I eat lunch alone, or at my desk. In that way, it feels a little bit like school, too.

So the terror is that I am losing the fight against my own mediocrity, that I have found my level.


Anonymous kvc said...

And go round and round and round in the circle game

5:30 AM  
Blogger Juan Bodley said...

For a lot of those reasons I feel a kindred spirit. I've gotten chances to go out of Indiana (the Republican stronghold...bastards) and I've passed to stay with my broadcast dreams (and that's apparently all they are.) I need to just pack up the Uhaul and get the fuck outta Dodge (in a Chevy!!) And abandon the drag-me-down world I live in where a factory job doesn't mean shit anymore...

1:49 PM  
Blogger Jonnie 7-11 said...

Speaking of standardized tests - I remember how they made a huge deal out of the placement exams in high school and reportedly there was this stoner kid who didn't give a shit - a teacher said the kid sat there for the 3 hours or whatever filling out the bubble sheet and when the teacher collected the tests at the end, the kid had filled out the bubbles to form a picture of a ship. He wasn't even looking at the exam questions hahha - I always thought that was pretty cool.

6:42 PM  

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