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It Doesn’t Bother Me…Much

One of the girls I know from the apartment complex was in the gym this morning — neither of us had been at the gym much since Thanksgiving, so we had a bit to catch up on. I don’t mind chatting, as long as it’s not for the entire hour I’m there — I enjoy using my gym time listening to audiobooks for review or working out the next scene in whatever short story or novel happens to be on my plate at the time.

Happily, we only chatted for about ten minutes before I turned on my iPod and got to work. She asked after my novel, which was sweet. We spoke a bit about the frustrations of losing weight…she said something about other people’s perceptions of her, to which I replied bluntly, “I really don’t care what people think about me.”

Because I don’t.

I know what it’s like, though, because I used to. For a very long time. It starts in grade school and takes the rest of your growing-up life to get over. Some people don’t get over it at all. I am very lucky with all the crazy adventures I have — magic and misery and all — those made me realize how beautiful and amazing and self-sufficient I am. (Because I am pretty awesome, you know.)

And then, right as our conversation was dwindling to an end, she said, “Oh, I’m so glad there are other people who don’t work during the winter.”

Sigh.

This whole issue of perception over a”normal job” has haunted me my entire life. I started working at the movie theatre when I was 16 and had become relief manager by the time I was 18. All through college I was an assistant and promotional manager, pulling down 25K a year, salaried with benefits and winning regional promotional awards, along with a courseload so full I graduated in three years. Granted, on any given day my schedule could be 11am until 4 in the morning, and my parents loathed the fact that I was still asleep at 10am on a Saturday (the time at which Mom inevitably turned on the vacuum). I had zero expenses and probably more money in the bank than they did, but it wasn’t a Real Job.

Fast forward to now. I am currently self-employed. I don’t get a check from someone once a week who takes 30% out for taxes, and I don’t have all those lovely benefits. I don’t drag my butt out of bed and go to a place I hate and pretend to fill a job description from 9 to 5 every day.

BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I DON’T HAVE A JOB.

I sold my last novel for more than I made in a year of being a librarian, yet I still have close friends who make thinly-veiled snide comments about my “lack of employment.” Even the maintenance guys who come to fix the dishwasher say things like, “Gee, must be nice to have Mondays off.”

No, I don’t have Mondays off. I don’t have ANY days off. I just don’t punch a clock and I don’t hate my life. I don’t fit into your box. I never have. And I’m not sorry.

There’s a scene in Bright Star where Mr. Brown explains to the new tenants that if they see him or Mr. Keats staring off into space, that doesn’t mean they are doing nothing; it means they are writing, and they are not to be disturbed. I’m like a turtle who carries my job on my back, everywhere I go. Even when I don’t have something to scribble with, I can always be working, any time of day or night. And I NEED to be, or I can’t afford all those lovely things I used to splurge on when I was being paid by The Man. (Like Dragon*Con.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get down this new plot line I came up with at the gym, sometime around the 45 minute mark. God willing and the Creek don’t rise, this will be the next novel…fingers crossed!

Originally published at AletheaKontis.com. You can comment here or there.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
p_m_cryan
Feb. 15th, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear!!!!!
sammikitten1981
Feb. 15th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
well, thank you for doing your job! you are awesome and your job reflects that. <3
princessalethea
Feb. 17th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you, sweetie.
mmerriam
Feb. 15th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
yet I still have close friends who make thinly-veiled snide comments about my “lack of employment.” ... No, I don’t have Mondays off. I don’t have ANY days off. I just don’t punch a clock and I don’t hate my life. I don’t fit into your box. I never have. And I’m not sorry.

Yes. This very thing. Go us for not allow ourselves to be stuffed in to little boxes and for not being sorry about it.
kelly_swails
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
Yes, ditto indeed.
squirrel_monkey
Feb. 15th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
It goes both ways though. Not everyone with a day job hates their life, and some even like their jobs.
zellandyne
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I would count anyone who makes "thinly veiled snide comments" about me, about anything, as a friend, much less a close one.
princessalethea
Feb. 17th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
The pros far outweigh the cons in any good friendship. And, as much as I sometimes want to disown my parents, I don't *really* want to.
cairech
Feb. 15th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
My mother used to say the same thing about raising 4 children.
madwriter
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
When Philip Jose Farmer lived next door to his mother-in-law, she used to call him to help her run errands while he was writing because since he was home, he must be available for errand-running.

Another friend of mine who is self-employed has lately been struggling unsuccessfully to explain to her mother that a self-employed person actually does get paid.
princessalethea
Feb. 17th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
It's such a bizarre life we lead. I dated a freelancer while I had a dayjob...it's hard to come home every day and not completely resent them. (Easier to justify, though, if they're playing video games and the house is a mess and there's no money coming in...but that's another story.)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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