One day until the end of the month and I am wondering who I am. Today I went to the beach wearing a dress and I am feeling like sparkly pens and writing all my feelings in a lockable journal. It's this goddamn weather, maybe, sunny today and doubtless miserable tomorrow. I want it to be summer, and I never want it to be summer.

I want a job and I want to move to New Zealand. Queenstown, in particular. I imagine weekends jumping out of planes and evenings by the lake drinking wine.

I've been doing that a lot, lately. Wine. Cigarettes. This bar or that hotel, this winery, that view.

Leave a girl alone in a dress with a pack of smokes and she'll have at least two guys approach her in the time it takes you to pop inside to the loo.

He's gone back across the world. I say back, but I never knew him as being from anywhere except here. Piss-poor German and too much familiarity with this city. This town. When you can sit on top of a hill at night and name all the major roads just for looking at the streetlights, well. It's time to be gone.

I am, I repeat, I keep repeating, very ready to leave this place.

I quit my job, see, and graduated. Two degrees leave me overqualified but under-experienced. I know a lot but I can't do much. There are jobs I'd like but I don't want a career yet; I want to travel. I want to see new places, and I want to meet new people.

Difficult, I am finding, to figure out who I am. To voice this to my friends. This restlessness is not merely with this city, it's with being stagnant. With him gone I have less to fill my time. Fewer nights playing blackjack (a good thing, no doubt), but fewer nights doing anything at all.

My friends are introverted. I know this, I cultivated them. But I am set in one way in their minds and am remembering I was not always this way, and I will not always be this way, and the less depressed I feel the more I want to do, the more bothered I am by something as much as half a day doing nothing. (This is push-pull, if I am doing something I am less depressed. I need to be busy to be happy.)

They are surprised, and faintly alarmed, when I mention even the most mundane aspects of the past month. There are more particular matters, nothing too exciting but far more personal, that have scarcely touched my tongue. They seem to think I am breaking.

I have a plan, of sorts: get a job, somehow, somewhere. Probably (hopefully) not in this state, what with its 9.2% unemployment rate. Hopefully in a different country; hopefully in New Zealand. We have unfinished business, that land and I. I'd like a full summer there, or a full year. Save enough money to do the teaching-English-as-a-foreign-language thing. China, Thailand, Indonesia. Learn pieces of the language, save a little. Live in Germany, like I've always wanted to do. Get this need to be elsewhere out of my system a little.

I want to be at Lake Wanaka for New Year's, and I want to go to Hong Kong with him, if the chance comes up. I want to see Aachen again, I want to visit Iceland, Spain, Cuba, Brazil.

Eventually I'll come back here, find a job. Settle down. Eventually. When I'm ready.

I am anxious about wasting time here, but still, I have so much. I have years and years, and I fit so much just into this last month. What can I do with a year? What will I do with fifty?

Last week, we heard from Jeff Bezos from Amazon, doing full damage control about how the company is run like a sweat shop. The New York Times reported about employees burning out rapidly, sleeping in their cars because since they were working so late on a Sunday, why bother going home. Managers pushing people harder and harder, and excusing the meat grinder conditions as just part of the collateral damage of Business 2.0.

In fact, their general gist, according to the article and many others, is simply to find an employee, work them until they quit, and just replace them with another. So unbelievably cavalier about conditions in their warehouse that they took the precautions of parking ambulances outside to cart away any worker that falls. (To be replaced by another agency warm body - and after too many complaints - to be replaced by robots.)

But realistically speaking, Amazon aren't the only one, even as Bezos, crying crocodile tears, invited any employee to email him personally with any concerns, as "this was not the Amazon he knows". (Presumably to rapidly fire the malcontents). 

Increasingly, folks are being asked to work longer for less pay. Productivity has skyrocketed, mostly on the backs of the dot com revolution and computerization, both of which are driven by IT professionals who find themselves sleeping with their laptops in hand, tethered to an immediate-response-required pager or phone with the expectations that any problems are fixed in SECONDS. Downtime expectation with the new "six sigma" means that your site, enterprise or whatever is down a maximum of five minutes, PER YEAR.

There's a cost to this. The fact that you can order books at two o'clock in the morning exists only because there's an army of people seated at desks, Christmas and Thanksgiving included. Seated and/or tethered to their homes being a condition now known to be more hazardous to health than smoking.

Thirty five years ago there was no expectation to be able to buy anything except perhaps gasoline and restaurant food on a Sunday. Now we're upset if we don't get a live operator at three a.m. Four to six weeks for shipping? Unthinkable. Get it to me via Federal Express. No, to hell with that. Use a drone, so I can get it within the hour. Unthinkable that people would be working retail jobs on Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving. Now it's expected, or don't come to work the day after Thanksgiving, you can just pick up your pink slip and show it to your family around the dinner table.

There's an exceedingly human cost to this. 

And a nice little parallel in the Bible. The Hebrews, being slaves in Exodus, didn't cry out for freedom, they cried out for rest. The response from Pharaoh, as it is recorded in Exodus 5: "Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves", but still requiring the same daily output of bricks as before. 

In fact, the Egyptians liked the economic output and unreasonable expectations so much that they ignored plagues, of blood, of frogs, of locusts. Only the wholesale murder of the firstborn of every house in Egypt was sufficient to get the Egyptians to consider the working conditions of the Hebrews. One can't but look at the technicolor rivers in China, the disgusting smog over Shanghai and heck, the nets they strung under the factory roofs in Chinese slave-shops to prevent people from leaping to their deaths and see the parallel. (Dying workers inhibit profitability).

And likewise, I have heard it told that in the days of applications and mainframes, being in IT was a great gig. You were well paid and there was an eight hour workday. Towards the end of a project there might have been some expected overtime, but you typically got some paid time off. Now we're on Internet time. Welcome to PagerDuty. Oh, are you quitting because you're burned out? That's okay, we'll just hire some younger and cheaper workers with newer and better experience. 

The Hebrews preferred a significant amount of time in the desert to where they were before, and one of the first rules they held to after they reached the promised land was simply to insist on a day of rest, which they enforced by KILLING anyone who broke that law. They became so extreme about it that in many Orthodox households they won't even turn on a light from sun-down to sun-up during the Sabbath.

And all we're doing is running the engines harder and harder and harder so fewer and fewer people can make mountains of cash that they could never hope to even reasonably use.

This isn't God's plan. 

 

 

 

 

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