at another agency, the sugary-sweet girl offers candidly that my resume lacks stability, which makes her a little nervous, but that they would not turn me away, because they don't do that here, and that they would try me out for a few things, and that she has a good feeling about me. my closing remark is the most polite way i can think of to ask how vigorously do i have to harass you to remind you that i exist in order for you to send me somewhere? call me monday, she said, and i did, and on tuesday i have a job that starts wednesday.
down here, at the bottom. in a small room. sniffle, sniffle. another woman is in the room. she is a nurse. sniffle, sniffle. she is nice. my job is to tally surveys. and later, i will help them move. the woman who normally sits in this chair is out, somewhere. i'm here, with the surveys. sniffle, sniffle. a necktie scratches against and irritates freshly shaven skin. a pencil in my hand, i try and sit up as straightly as i can, which is made possible thanks to a stinky old bandage beneath my white t-shirt, beneath my blue or white dress shirt, whichever one it was, all these layers that might make the forthcoming summer unbearable, but won't. sniffle, sniffle. it's here that i realize it is the light that does it to me; yes it's the not getting any sleep and the getting up early and showering and getting dressed and the fumbling with printed mapquest directions, it's all that but it's mostly the disgusting fluorescent office light that does my head in. i. have. to. get. the. sniffle, sniffle. fuck. out. of. here. i. have. to. get. out. of. this. light. it. is. so. repulsive. get. me. out. of. it. GET ME OUT OF THIS LIGHT GET ME OUT OF IT GET ME OUT OF IT GET ME OUT OF IT. sniffle, sniffle. one of the worst feelings in the entire world is being in an office without access to your own box of tissues. i excuse myself to the bathroom, which is soon regretted because it offers me access to even worse light; my own reflection. why is my skin so translucent? why am i so fragile? i have to get out of this light, too. i blow my nose with some toilet paper, and go back to the tallies. as soon as i get back, sniffle, sniffle.
my only armor against the zombifying dronery are two sentences that find their way through the light and into my head. they are, i am the one and i am going to do it. does this provider strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree? i am the one, i am going to do it. this company provides prompt service, agree. i am the one, i am going to do it. this company pays claims promptly, agree. i am the one, i am going to do it. this company provides helpful technical support, strongly agree, i am the one, i am going to do it. five, ten, fifteen, twenty, three, twenty-three agrees, i am the one, i am going to do it. sniffle, sniffle. fuck it, i'm stealing this woman's tissues. i am the one, i am going to do it. tea time, cheap green packets from the kitchen, i am the one, i am going to do it. the nice woman that sits next to me gets her paycheck, and she is happy. she tells me about her daughter. i am the one, i am going to do it. my ribs around my sternum are loose and unstable, and they wobble against each other and cause me discomfort. i am the one, i am going to do it. i breathe with my lungs, but not with my chest. i am the one, i am going to do it. i wander around the block at lunch, trying to find a place that will take my mom's credit card, because i have no money. i am the one, i am going to do it. the chinese restaurant doesn't take credit cards. i am the one, i am going to do it. at wendy's, a woman orders a kids meal for her son, but asks that the fries not have salt. i am the one, i am going to do it. back to the surveys, sitting here becomes very fatiguing, and i am exhausted. I AM THE ONE, I AM GOING TO DO IT. the fluorescent bulbs above me and the flimsy ribs inside of me drag me down in my chair, my feet stretch out in front of me. I AM THE ONE, I AM GOING TO DO IT. i want to go home. REPETITION IS A METAPHOR FOR I AM THE ONE, I AM GOING TO DO IT. my chest hurts so much. CAPITAL LETTERS IS A METAPHOR FOR I AM THE ONE, I AM GOING TO DO IT. it's so hard to breathe. EVERY WORD IN THIS DIARY IS A METAPHOR FOR I AM THE ONE, I AM GOING TO DO IT. i can't even brush my teeth without my chest wrapped tightly in a bandage. ONLY I CAN DO IT, ALL OF YOU STEP BACK AND WATCH ME DO IT. i've already tried twice and spent thirty-five thousand dollars of my own money, with no improvement. ONLY I KNOW HOW TO DO IT. it can't work. NOT WITH PHYSICAL THERAPY OR ACCEPTANCE OR ANY OTHER OF THAT RETARDED LIBERAL-HIPPIE BULLSHIT. i am a fool. ONLY WITH SURGERY. i should just be thankful to be alive. ALL OF YOU ARE JUST JEALOUS. i am so happy to be alive. ALL OF YOU CRUMBLE AT THE UNBEARABLE MAGNITUDE OF MY PERPETUAL ONE-NESS, I—
"could you move those boxes from there to over there?"
"oh, yeah, sure! no problem."
get home, lunge into bed, squeeze otter. go back the next day, to help with the boxes.
every day when i get home from work, i become sickened with what i am wearing, and it must come off immediately. wearing a tie makes me want to write my name on the wall in feces. that comes off first; usually in the car. look, i don't really want to write out my name in poo anywhere, okay? i just said that to get attention from you, all right? no need for anybody to lose their job or anything. next is the lame-as-fuck dress shirt from jc penny for $20—that's on the way up the stairs to my room. then comes the worst part, it makes me cringe just thinking about it—the plain, blank, ugh, white, t-shirt. white. i fucking hate white. it makes me feel hideous. i even had that phase in high school after i lost weight where i started wearing only white t-shirts in order to look skinny and that's what the cool kids were doing—yeah, i was a complete fucking moron. moron isn't even the real word i want to use. in fact, a problem i'm having in my adult life is that no matter when, and no matter how much time has elapsed, whenever i look back at myself, i can only envision myself as being something that cannot be described without the word "faggot" and the adjective "utter" placed before it. really, the only time in the past i can think of where i wasn't being an utter faggot was that one time at dinner with a girl when i conceded that in all our prior interactions i had been an utter faggot.
i remember, back when people would ask me what my favorite color was, and i would respond by saying that i didn't have one and thought the question was stupid because how could one color promote one response over the other? i was wrong. i'm always wrong about everything. white is so boring—it has no individual character, it just reflects up all the other light, when i wear it i feel like i have to get out of this light. i always have so much laundry every week because i wear so many different t-shirts—i rip off the perfectly clean white one after work and put on something that lets me feel like myself. of course i sat on my computer for hours doing color analysis research on the internet. most of it is wrong for me though. white, we've gone over white. black makes me feel fat. they say black is supposed to be slimming. it just makes me think i'm wearing a particular color in order to appear thinner, therefore i must be fat. and it sucks up all the light, blah blah. okay, what else. navy looks too close to black. red brings out the blood from under my skin. earth tones are out, duh. pink is nice. purple can be nice. pretty much i've narrowed it down to yellow and blue. in every video game growing up, blue was the color of good. i am good. i am blue. and yellow, i've been trying to explain this whole time why i like wearing yellow, but i'm only halfway done.
my second assignment is for a woman that has an entirely unrealistic expectation of how quickly a single human individual can stuff hundreds and hundreds of envelopes in the course of a few hours under the raining hellfire of office fluorescent bulbs above him. i have to get out of this light. i take a break, and go outside. summer is here in full-bore. oh god, the sun, i hate the sun, i have to get out of this light. i wander around, looking for shade. it's an industrial part of town, lots of construction companies. i see workers sitting on curbs next to their lunchboxes. a few moments under a short tree, watching them, i am comfortable. i like natural light, but only in the shade. i seek the darkness. a few more hours of stuffing envelopes, and the woman lets me go.
i get a phone call and within a couple of hours i am the receptionist at a mercedes-benz dealership. the thing about a luxury car dealership is that they have to actually attract people to stay in the building—so there is natural light abound. all i have to do is answer the phone—transfer to 203 for parts, 205 for service, page for sales—and the rest of the time i get to stare outside, or watch the car salesman show inside. one of them approaches a couple, they say oh no, they've already bought one, they're just waiting for the guy to go get it, and i watch the salesman's disappointment quickly morph into feigned excitement; "oh, congratulations!" he says. i think to myself, hiding under the veil of polite and energetic temporary-receptionist, congratulations? for buying something? uhhhh....i'm not sure about that one. i learn to like every single salesman, but my favorite ends up being raul. standing tall and proud in his sweater-vest, i hear him arguing on his cell phone in a corner, "i don't need to sell you this car" i hear, and later he hangs up and vents to me that they just want to give the customers their best, their experience, but sometimes, they just don't want it. later, i watch him spend some time with a couple. when they leave, he comes over to me again. he tells me that he always has to determine who is in charge—the person that is making the decision. she was the one—she was always walking in front of the man, she is a lawyer, he tells me. she is in charge. they want to come back tomorrow, to get the car. why not today, i ask? he laughs and tells me, that's what he said, and that i would make a good car salesman. finally, when he has fully warmed up to me, i tell him that i want to ask him about a rumor i heard once, and is it true? i ask raul if it's true that you should buy a car on the last day of the month, because the dealership has to meet its quota. he smiles, and stands tall, next to the desk where i'm sitting, both of us staring out into the light, and he shakes his head, and he tells me, that if you are a good salesman, in your mind, every day is the last day of the month.
and then, all of the interviews. job interviews are gay as fuck. i tend to suck at them, because the only honest response i can think of to every question is just give me the job, asshole. when i fulfill my life's passion of becoming a human resources manager, the person that comes in and says just give me the job, asshole will automatically receive employment, if for no other reason than they've clearly done their research. i feel quite passionately that the fact that i am willing to work for twelve dollars an hour conclusively demonstrates that i am qualified to do so. the CEO at the elevator company thinks my last job was absolutely perfect for me, based on my description of myself, and doesn't understand why i left it. i struggle to answer, and he decides to pass on me. whatever, i didn't want to work for his stupid elevator company, anyway. when have first impressions ever been right about anybody? the people we hire should be completely different from us. as an organization, is it not our duty to continuously strive to discover what is "true"? to know what is true, don't we need every possible viewpoint? i want to be able to see from every angle. all of the things i'm not and could never be; that's where i want to go. the guy that uses language like "gay as fuck"; we need his perspective, on everything. at the interview at the "doctor's office", i walk into the office to discover it's some kind of orthopedic surgeon's—the antsy waiting room full of people in every different kind of cast in every different part of their bodies—and i get very sad. i am taken into the back to meet the doctor, and he asks me how fast i can type, and i respond that it depends on the keyboard, and he already likes me, and he leaves to go get the office manager, and when he's gone i make my decision. when they return them, i interrupt them, and i watch the doctor's expression slowly change as i explain that i was injured at a young age, and that working in this environment would make me extremely uncomfortable, and that i would be declining the interview, and that i am terribly, terribly sorry for wasting their time.
on the first day of my new job, under the fluorescent lights, i'm asked if i've ever worked in an "office environment" before—codespeak for are you capable of sitting down, shutting up, and not bringing any attention to the fact that we don't actually do anything here; we don't make anything with our hands like we're supposed to. our hands that are for making things. all those organisms that came before us and perfected it for us and gave it to us as the legacy of their journey. from their odyssey into hell, they have returned with a gift, and given it to us. out of respect for them, we should use it. it may not be my job to make anything right now, but i will make something, anyway. i will tell this story. i only want to tell fucking stories. to me, every story is a problem that has to be solved. i wish my high school math teachers had been better at making me appreciate them—i wish they had taken me aside and shaken me and yelled at me, "barry, you fucking faggot, stop trying to be funny, don't you see? these problems of yours—they all have solutions." every entry here, has been a problem for me that requires a solution. as you may have noticed, the solutions are harder and harder to come by. every story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. how do we connect where we're going with where we want to go? to me, that is a problem worth solving. i only want to solve fucking problems. if this entry creates another problem for me, then that is just one more problem for me to solve. i needed to say all this, because when i do it, i want you to know how i did it. just in case i have to do it again. when i'm sad and can't remember how, you can remind me. you are the one. you can do it for me. you can say, all that time you spent in the darkness, was so that you could be the light.