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Archive for the tag “work”

Crossroads

crossroads

First note to self: Every road has a crossroad, eventually.

This may be my last blog post.  Then again, it may be the first of another few hundred.  It all depends on what’s coming at the next crossroad.  Once upon a time, in a distant, bordering county to Los Angeles, I thought I knew exactly what the path of my life was.  With a wife and two kids, and a history of changing directions every few years, I believed I was cosmically chosen to move back to the land of my raisings, and begin all over again in the very same zip code my parents had once called home.

So we bought a nice, mid-sized home, half a mile from my old high school, and with plans and late-thirties dreams, we marched blindly ahead into the future.  I started a brick and mortar business.  Our eldest started the 9th grade. My wife stayed home with our youngest.  It was an early chapter in our book of the American Dream.  Now because this is an unread blog post and not an essay in some fine quarterly anthology, I will cut to the chase and tell you that in the years following, the business went bust, our eldest learned how to score meth, our youngest retreated into his own insomnia-fueled exile, and the marriage came to an end. 

And those weren’t necessarily the worst things that happened, just the highlights I felt like sharing.

Basically, it was a ten year stretch along a highway of failure after failure, bad choice after bad choice, crossroad after untaken crossroad.

Second note to self: Every crossroad has crossroad of its own, if you’re looking for it.

When I was younger, I would hear this phrase spoken a lot, “When God closes a door, look for a window”.  Now I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds a lot like breaking and entering.  And God being God, I figure if he closes a door, the least he could do is open another actual door, and I would not be required to carry a crowbar and a flashlight everywhere I go just to get into someplace I actually belonged.  Yeah, metaphors are tricky like that.

So anyway, crossroads. 

About ten years ago, give or take, I began two hardcore pursuits that, combined, still occupy nearly all of my waking hours, and a lot of my sleeping hours, too.  Those things are work and writing.  I know, work doesn’t sound like something you just decide to pick up in your late forties, and it’s not.  And frankly, neither is writing.  But the way I threw myself into them was.  Starting slowly, I forced myself to learn what it was to work.  Long hours of actual physical labor, with no human reward except the food it put in the fridge, the rent it paid, and the endurance it created in me.  And at the very same time, after thirty years of ignoring a calling I first heard in college, I began to write.  Then, after ten years of writing, a first book was born.  As much a tribute to the endurance learned from work as any questionable skill I may possess.

Both the work, and the writing, the result of slowing down long enough to look, and to see, the crossroads.

So now, because I sort of know what to look for, I know I am at the crossroads again.  After ten years of these twin occupations, I have decisions to make with them, and what roads to turn down on my way to something newer, better, and right.  One decision is made, and the other is in the making.  The first, I am quitting the job that is now damn near killing me.  That’s a done deal, even if the boss doesn’t know it yet.  The second has to do with the writing, and not even I know what the questions are, let alone the answers.  But I think the writing may be killing me, too.

You remember that line at the beginning of all this, “This may be my last blog post”? 

Maybe it is, maybe not.  But I know I can’t keep doing both the work and the writing for very much longer without becoming some cliché mashup that a friend of mine had called, Norman Rockwell-Bukowski.  So with that, and because I hate being a cliché, I’m taking a detour off of one of these roads before I have to take the other.  And we’ll see what calling it quits with the job does in keeping me from calling it quits with the writing.

But the truth is, I do not know what in the actual fuck I am doing.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Like a Grocery Store Trout

trout png

Sometimes, we are handed a life.  Cleaned and cold, gutted, like a grocery store trout, bones in, with all the skin and scales still attached, knowing nothing of the frying pan, and hoping only to avoid the fire beneath.

This is how I think most of us exist.  Unaware of our surroundings, except what directly affects us, and that, only if we ever are in actual contact, and hopefully with the right combination of tastes and smells that allow all to forget that we, in the big picture, are really nothing more than the stink of low tide and death.

Pick a metaphor.  Sardines in a can.  Lemmings on a cliff.  The people of Soylent Green.  Fast forwarding our way to an inglorious end, unaware, for the most part, what we are speeding toward.  That end always in sight if we only think to look.

This was me, until it wasn’t anymore.

I work a job that, in the couple hundred times I’ve tried explaining it to folks over nearly a decade, defies description.  And it’s not even the job description that defies it.  It’s not the job of Freight Runner, Certified Forklift Operator, Warehouse Night Manager, Inventory Control Specialist, Bookkeeper, and Small Parcel Courier that confuses people, it’s how the job gets paid.

The bottom of bottom lines is, I am not an employee.  I am a contractor.  This means there is no salary, no hourly wage, no insurance and paid time off.  There is only the job, or NO job.  Pay, or NO pay.  Don’t come in?  Don’t come back.  Every day for the last 8 years, 8 months, 13 days, 23 hours, and a handful of minutes and seconds, I haven’t taken a day off that didn’t cost me in docked pay.  That includes two major surgeries, bookended weekdays around weekend getaways, sick days, dentist appointments, family birthdays, national holidays, you name it. 

If I took it, I ate that day’s pay.

This also includes regularly adding duties to the job description at no additional compensation, four double-shifts per week at one flat rate, hours worked for free one night a week, as well as… now THIS is where it gets interesting… back pay stolen by the third party job broker who held my contract with the warehouse, and finally, intermittent pay cuts, just to be allowed to keep my job.  All that, and however many hours I find between the cracks to write and publish two books, and maybe mix in a nap.  Then today, one more demand for me to spend another $500 for additional licensing and commercial insuring, just to keep my job.  As I write this, I have less than three weeks until I pay, or get out.

Sometimes, we are handed a life.  Cleaned and cold, gutted, like a grocery store trout, bones in, with all the skin and scales still attached, living in the false comfort of the frying pan, and hoping only to avoid the terror of the fire beneath.

On this day, I see the frying pan for what it is, and no longer fear the fire.

Today, I decided to get out.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

End of Shift

end-of-shift-pic

Counting down the minutes till

the end of shift

is a lot like counting down the

minutes till

the end of life. 

Except you know where you’re going

when your shift ends,

and how to get there. 

You’ve planned for it. 

You even have things

waiting for you for

when you arrive,

like macaroni and cheese

and a cold beer. 

Unlike the end of your life,

when you hope there’s

a nice place for you to settle into,

that the fridge is stocked with

all your favorite things,

and that the

building management isn’t blasting

‘70s pop songs from

the speakers in the elevator

headed for the basement,

where you know the air conditioning is

sketchy at best.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

The Accidental Prophet

the-prophet-chuck

“A wish is not a goal, and hope is not a plan.”

I have a friend, a very close friend, who says that whenever I speak of the future, I already know what’s going to happen.  One year.  Five years.  Ten.  Every step and every stage, all mapped out, in my head and then, into words.  Thoughtful.  Methodical.  Concise.

Except I swear that, every time it happens, I have no conscious idea that what I’ve just said is, in fact, a plan.

So unbelieving am I that, after my friend who hears recites my future future back to me, I am left scrunch-faced, my head shaking, saying, “What are you talking about?  That wasn’t a plan, that was just wishful thinking.”  And yet, in the two years of our friendship, apparently, I’ve never been wrong. 

And it pisses me off every time.

It would seem that I hate being right.

If I were to put it in terms that I could understand, I would call myself, “The Accidental Prophet”. 

Over the last year alone, I called my shot about creating a job out of two other jobs so that I would have all the time in the world to sit undisturbed and, on company time, with the boss’ blessing, write another book.  That happened.  Before that, I called my shot about taking ten years of chicken-scratched poems, and publishing a first book.  That happened, too.  Somewhere in between the first book and the job, I said something about creating a publishing company and, yeah… yeah… whatever.

Now, says my friend, I’ve been saying things again.  Future kind of things.  The kind that, if you were to ask me, I wouldn’t call anything more than a few nice ideas.  A wish here, a hope there.  Just spitballing into the wind.  And if I didn’t have the big-eared friend with the over-developed sense interpreting irony in all its forms, I might dismiss these, too. 

Except now, I can’t.  Because I know better than to argue with a plan, even when I don’t know it’s a plan until comes true.

And all I can say right now is, if it’s true, 2017 is going to be a hell of a year.  And if none of it comes true, well like I said, I hate being right, so I’ll be the first to tell you I was wrong. But if by accident I was right, I’ll be writing another one of these next year. 

Complete with the “I told you so” from my friend who hears.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

WANTED: Couch

couch

WANTED: Couch.  With attached living area.  Kitchen and bathroom also a must.  Will sign one-year lease.  Rent-free preferred.  Location not an issue, but would desire within continental US.  Am available for immediate occupancy.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Christmas Twenty-Sixteen

broke-santa

I just paid my bills online.

My budget looks like crap.

I haven’t any money left.

I think I need a nap.

It’s almost time to go to work,

and start this all again.

An endless cycle I just circle,

back to where I’ve been.

There is no future hope for me,

I think my life is done.

Until I pay off all my bills,

and am too old for fun.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Lesson from a Bogus Journey

death

Death came to me,

in the middle of the night,

playing Battleship

for my soul. 

Have no fear of death,

as long as he plays his games

on your turf. 

And when he says to you,

“Best two out of three?” 

Tell him to

talk to the chain smoker

in the next aisle over.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

There Must Be Something More

more

There must be something more

than what is right in front of us. 

More than your next meal,

next crap,

next fuck. 

More than work,

more than the distractions of play. 

Traffic,

or unpaid overtime. 

Frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s,

or Wild Turkey on the rocks

to help you sleep at night. 

 

There must be something more

than what fights so hard for your attention. 

Bingeing on shows in a weekend

because you are too tired most nights

to watch just one episode at a time. 

And chasing,

always chasing whatever it is

you think will fill the hole,

complete the puzzle,

satisfy that unspoken need. 

But it isn’t really there,

because it doesn’t know your name. 

 

There must be something more

than what you’ve been told. 

More than what you haven’t been told,

or even dreamed with your

last moments of sleep before

you get up and do the same things

all over again,

until the day you can’t. 

Because you died sooner than

you were led to believe was possible. 

 

There must be something more

than what never satisfies,

always leaves you longing

or reminiscing,

or grieving.

And I would tell you what it is, 

but it doesn’t know my name either.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Post Office

mail

Hank had his post office,

and I have my warehouse. 

Dismal places,

on graveyard shifts together,

a generation apart. 

We also both had San Pedro. 

We both got out. 

One of us dead,

the other dying. 

Because we all die a little,

every day. 

Some of us are just better at it

than others.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Urban Lumberjack

 

urban-lumberjack

Into the silent night,

I look up.  

A pig iron forest,

rises. 

My feet,

balanced upon soft cement,

a meadow,

grey. 

Red and black checked flannel,

and hemp,

layered above denim,

covering. 

With wool upon my head,

to keep warm,

my thoughts. 

The urban lumberjack,

with fire,

built from circuits,

lit by words,

sparks,

from my fingertips.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

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