The dawn rips me from the arms of another nightmare. I haven’t been smoking, so I’ve been dreaming. Graphic, contorted dreams from the bowels of my septic psyche. Unsettling and derivative. A bathtub in a grimy basement. If you bathe in it then you unleash an unspeakable evil that haunts and murders you. Kind of like that horror movie, The Ring, only there’s no videotape or ring.
I only have a few morning moments to spare because I set my alarm as late as possible. Maybe ten minutes before I need to leave, enough time to brush my teeth, put on clothes and collect what’s left of myself. It’s an old routine, a stock, abbreviated start to almost every single one of my days.
I check my email for anything that isn’t work related. Anything to remind me I’m not alone. And it’s a work email. A helpful reminder from When I Work, an employee scheduling app. All my emails are from robots. I also get messages from career alerts, an email newsletter.
They send me messages every day with lists of jobs I’ll never check out. I don’t believe these jobs are real but I don’t unsubscribe either. I let my inbox fill up with automated, useless messages. I’m drowning in garbage. Nothing I have is worth keeping but I fail to get rid of it.
When I Work is always there to remind me of when I work. Like I could forget. Like there’s anything else. There’s no such thing as free time or leisure. When I’m not working, I’m recovering in a tiny, dank room with leaden eyelids and aching ankles. Drowsing and browsing through blogs and articles I won’t remember the moment I finish them. And yet I entertain the fantasy that I’m a dissident, independent scholar.
The first few hours of the day brim with hope for the future. I want to study population movements, demographics, history and politics rather than talk about single origin espressos and specialty drinks.
I want to write challenging papers, articles and books. Contribute to a field of knowledge. Become an authority, an example, maybe even an inspiration.
But instead I’ll perform repetitive movements all day and then go home and write repetitive phrases all evening. I’ll say the same things about coffee over and over again to government droids and then go home and say the same things about scale, technology, social decline and the service industry over and over again as well.
Those early, fleeting moments before I get on the bus feel like freedom. When the sunlight slants on the trees and the leaves are brushed by a tender breeze. Birds chirp, peck and play in the false promise of the morning. As the day grows old, so does my soul. There are things I want to do, but I need to sleep. Another round of disjointed, garbled, directionless scenes await. My dreams tell me nothing. They are a conduit of nonsense to another day of drudgery.