June 09, 2013
I’m moving to Austin June 29th. I was dangerously close to having a real career when I decided to jump ship and see if I there is a more interesting way to squander my youth besides working as an administrative assistant in the Washington D.C. metro area.
I’ve lived in Maryland my whole life, in the D.C. suburbs. I went to college at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and graduated in 2010 with a double major in English and Art History. Due to the proliferation of government contractors in the D.C. suburbs, there is plenty of entry level office work available even if your major culminated in a very long paper about the invention of photography and how it impacted the conception of pictorial space in the paintings of a tiny group of Victorian artists called the Pre-Raphaelites. If you’d like to read it, I’ll kiss you on the mouth.
I thought I’d eventually apply for law school, until I cracked and LSAT prep book and swiftly realized that I’m not passionate enough about litigation and footnotes to make it worth the debt and lost weekends. Then I thought, maybe an MFA, to finalize my isolation from lucrative enterprise. I spent a hot minute reading literary journals and then thought, no. There are too
that make us wonder,
quietly, in the abyss of ourselves
tobetaken - seriously.
Unlike lots of my fellow 2010 graduates, I found an office job a mere five months after I graduated. It sucked and I forgot to be thankful for employment in a recession.
The next job, this time at a call center, didn’t suck worse, it just sucked different. I was laid off after 8 months, to my great relief. A few months later a friend’s dad helped me get a real office job that wasn’t so bad at first and paid real money. I was making more than people I knew who had real degrees, in respectable fields like curing Malaria.
I moved to a real apartment with a LAZY RIVER. If you don’t know what that is, find one and insert yourself in it immediately. If you find that you live in a benighted part of the world with no lazy river for miles around, dream big and work hard in school. One day, my friend, one day. I bought top shelf gin and contemplated replacing my (parent’s) 1994 Toyota Camry (with approximately 280,000 miles or so, bless its wise old Japanese transmission).
Sadly, the CEO of my latest company turned out to be a real dick. A dick of such magnitude I had hitherto not dreamed possible. Every time I saw the name "JJ" on the callerID my hands burst into clammy sweat and my heart raced. Our conversations typically went like this:
“I want to go to Dubai for Monday and Tuesday.” “Monday and Tuesday the what-th? Is that the 3rd and the 4th?” “No, Molly, that’s not what I want. I wanted to be there the next week.” “That’s when you’ll be in Bangkok.” “I thought I told you to cancel those flights?” “No...” “It’s very simple. Bhopal the 4th and 5th, no wait, Dubai the 3rd and 4th, and maybe we could also do the 5th, then Islamabad for at least four days, then I can leave on either the 9th or the 10th, or even the 11th, I don’t particularly care, then I have to be in Bangkok.” “And then how long do you want to be in Bangkok?” “Why are we talking about Bangkok? I don’t have the bandwidth for this. BHOPAL is that week. B-h-o-p-a-l.” His voice kept getting higher, until he was flat out out screaming. “You need to get your shit together! I’ll be quite candid with you, this cannot happen again!”
JJ’s accent was choppy, an Indian man that went to college in London. He had a set rotary of jokes. They went like this: “I have a joke about the FBI.” Pause. “Make software easy enough for a monkey to use, then make it easier.” Another. Pause. “Because they’re idiots.”
I was in charge of managing the entirety of his business schedule. On his most recent visit to the Maryland office, he called me to his desk so we could carry out the following conversation: “I can’t read what you’ve put on my calendar.” “That’s how you told me to enter things on your calendar.” “Well, I can’t read it. How about instead of doing literally what I tell you to do, you find a solution? Hm? How about that?”
Later he doled out oatmeal cookies. He kept asking me when I was going to eat mine. “I’ll wait til after lunch.” “You could eat half now and half later.” I pretended I hadn’t heard him, waited for a moment when no one would notice, and then threw the cookie in the trash with gusto. Whenever he was in town I daydreamed about how nice it would be if there was a bomb scare or if I suddenly had to have my appendix removed.
Eventually, one realizes crying in the bathroom is not a solution, so sometime in March I decided I would quit and try to do something for a living I didn’t hate. I went ahead and bought my dream car, a used 2005 Toyota Camry XLE with 48,000 miles and a moonroof. During the weeks before I quit, I stared at the calendar salivating over which day I would quit.
Before I left, JJ tried to have me plan as much as possible for his yearly, two-month long winter vacation in Thailand. Did I mention the company made software used to evince cyber evidence of illegal sexual deviance? JJ made no secret of his adoration of Thai women. I entered his receipts for our bookkeeping, which always included a handful from various Thai massage establishments around San Francisco, his main base of operation. He claimed them as expenses under his health insurance.
The day before my last JJ told me I could stay another week if I wanted. Thanks but no thanks, I said. “Ok, well let us know if you ever need anything!” “Thank you, that’s great to hear.” I hope the flight I booked you for you to Tampa crashes and alligators eat you.
Why Austin? Because you want to live somewhere cool? People say that with such persecution in their voices. I went there over New Years with a boyfriend, and we both liked it quite a bit. There’s music and swimming holes and the air shimmers with stray spores of psilocybin. Yes, it did seem cool. Sue me.
I’m well aware that I could get there, not be able to make enough money, not make any friends, suffer various traumas and end up moving back to Maryland. I am open to failure.
For the first month, I’ll be in a house that hosts bi-weekly blues band practice, then somewhere else. Speaking of Craigslist, that’s also how I found the freelance position that I’m hoping will help support me during the first few uncertain months.
It involves a man with a hidden warehouse full of baby products, and boxes full of open questions.