It’s late and I should be in bed but I’m not—I’m awake and thinking about money. Last week I went to lunch with a friend of Flint’s from Reed (who I, of course, recognized, but for whatever reason hadn’t officially met before). We had lunch and had a good conversation about life post-Reed, particularly how we, as English majors, had had a hard time getting back in to reading for fun (foreshadowing what will come later in this post, these days I mostly read about food). She works for Goodreads now, though, and they’ve started a monthly book club that has kept her on track. Last month they all read Lean In, and she lamented the fact that she’d somehow become the radical voice in her workplace—everybody else loved it, but she was annoyed by it’s flippant analysis of queer families (when it mentioned them at all) and it’s assumption that a person’s value is measured by how much they can accomplish on behalf of their employer. At Reed there was always someone more left-leaning than you, which was comforting. In the real world, Sheryl Sandberg is accepted, uncritically, as inspiring.
I wish I could dig up a link to it but I keep seeing an article popping up about “The New Domesticity” and how a lot of middle class women are removing themselves from the workforce and homeschooling their children and pickling things and then blogging about it, rather than working 80 hour weeks a la Ms. Sandberg. The author brought up a very good point about the fact that a lot of the most successful “Mommy bloggers” aren’t actually normal middle class people but incredibly wealthy (The Pioneer Woman, anyone?), but she (I think it was a she, but I may be making an incorrect assumption there) also took issue with the idea of women staying home. By continuing to work, they reasoned, women could change the system from within by working to create better conditions for the people/women who don’t have the choice to stay home—stuff like paid family leave or eliminating the wage gap.
I see their point—to work a nontraditional job or to not work at all requires a degree of stability that the vast majority of the population will never have access to. On the other hand, I absolutely hate the idea that I have to use my productivity to create profit for companies that I don’t give a shit about. I like most of my clients, and I love that I have a job that allows me to swan around in PJs eating granola and practicing calligraphy in the morning instead of commuting, but I HATE that I’m enabling my clients chronic overworking and that half of what they pay my company is going to support a growing infrastructure that encourages my Randian CEO to believe that she’s changing the world. And I really, really hate that I have to care about all this. I’m kind of behind on things right now because the last couple weeks have been kind of busy, and I feel bad about it, but really everything I’m doing is pretty trivial so why should I feel bad about it? None of it matters! I like to joke about general lack of meaning, but I don’t feel this way about everything and I do have things I really value. These things don’t have any monetary value, however.
I really believe that my current job shouldn’t exist. The whole idea is basically that our clients are so busy and important that they need to add an extra 10-50 hours a month to their life in order to get everything done that they need to get done. Why not just cut 10-50 hours of crap out of you life and take care of yourself? But apparently someone has to sell luxury adventure travel experiences to rich silicon valley tech entrepreneurs, or sell training videos to startup companies, or create better technology for affiliate marketing. And apparently it takes a lot of time, so here I am scheduling meetings and buying plane tickets.
I’m not totally ruling out the possibility that there’s a workplace out there that I’d want to lean in to, but right now (and here’s where I take this midnight rant to a new level of ridiculousness) all that crap is just making me think of Littlefinger’s deranged rant about ladders on Game Of Thrones last week. I mean, climbing is cool I guess, but what’s up at the top that’s so much cooler than what I have right now? I guess if I had more money I’d buy more expensive yarn, but I’d probably be working more so I’d have less time to knit. It’s always a tradeoff.
Basically what I’m trying to say here is that I would much rather live simply than work my ass off trying to create more profit for rich assholes in order to buy a bunch of crap I don’t need. And if it were ever an option, I’d like it even more if I could pickle things and raise alpacas all day. But when the vast majority of the population still lives in poverty, how self-indulgent would that be? Probably at least as self-indulgent as working in marketing and buying a new iphone every year. Or writing long tumblr posts at 1 AM on your $1500 laptop that’s keeping your boyfriend awake.
I don’t even know guys, maybe Zach is right and we should eradicate income inequality by eating the rich, as the bumper stickers suggest, and then we could all like together as happy members of the Socialist Kollective. Unfortunately I don’t think the Sheryl Sandbergs of the world would ever allow that to happen.