Thursday, May 26, 2011

living out of a hotel

When I was a kid we moved a lot. There were times we would get to a new city and have to stay in a motel/hotel for weeks. Back then extended stays where not very common especially in the non tourist towns we were moving to. There was never a mini fridge or a microwave to reheat my Applebee’s leftovers. This week I have been living out of a hotel somewhere in the New South in anticipation of moving there. It was supposed to be a 3 day visit, find a place, go home and move. Well with two job offers in one week that plan changed then changed again. Currently I spend my days and nights in a 300 sq foot room, at least I have a mini fridge and a microwave.
Hotels have a certain mystique about them. They house people without homes. Travelers, business men, families on the move, celebrities, people like me. Who are these people and why aren’t they at home? Most of the time hotel guests revolve around business. During the day the halls of this place are empty. I get looks from employees that suggest they thought the hotel was empty, yet here I am.
It has been four weeks since I quit my job. The days start to blur without my day calendar to count for me. In a sense my cubical has grown in size. Now I have a coffee pot and a TV to distract me from working instead of co-workers and their problems. I turn on reality TV to feel more like an office.
My only task for the day is to write. I sit in the room staring at my computer and the blinking curser. I have written some and read some. The thoughts are churning in my mind, spinning a story others may enjoy one day. I find routines help. After the free breakfast I head back to the room with a cup of coffee and a cup of water. I sit and write something before doing anything. So far it is working. The progress is there but I find my mind wandering, forming a scenario where I’m in this hotel because I’m attending conference or con. While I’m in the elevator returning from breakfast I see fans. One gets in the elevator with me. How do I react? I don’t know. So I play it out, deciding to be gracious because I could use every fan I can find.
Reality seeps in as the bell dings for my floor and the shiny metal door slides back revealing the third floor. I walk the hall to my room and grab the ice bucket. It’s a long walk down the other end of the vacant hall to the icemaker. It would be nice to be closer but having worked in a hotel for years I recall that was a constant complaint. Then back to sitting and writing.
At noon I have lunch. Pick a place, any place. Reading fills my afternoon with some writing, a little TV in between the two. For inspiration I stare out my third floor window looking down over the office building across the street. I watch people come and go from their cubicles and offices. They rush back from lunch, trapped by a clock. After they have all gone back to work, I’m bored. I pace around the room or wander the empty halls. The idea I am someone famous like a rock star clouds my mind. Maybe this is how they live while on the road.
Trapped in a hotel room has been very productive for me. It has been conducive for my routines. Four weeks since I quit my job and I am finally starting to get this down. I still can’t tell you what day it is without looking at my cell phone. Despite my small success here in the hotel, I can’t wait to get home and see my dog.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For the office dweller

The days, the nights, just time passage captured by the tare of the daily calendar. That familiar crrrrreeeeeep triggered synapses to fire in John’s head resetting him for a new day.
His cubicle was smaller than a prison cell. Its grey fabric walls and black accented desk was void of life. A gift of office bamboo that was supposed to be good luck, turned brown. A shelf dusted once a week by the nighttime cleaning crew held one picture from 1938 of John’s grandmother and her siblings.
The grey desktop had two appearances. One was chaos, papers that should have been filed littered about, with pens and paperclips filling in gaps of desktop. A legal pad held phone numbers of missed calls, but mostly doodles. A spaceship with its tractor beam locked on to a car going off a cliff.
            One day a week the desk was wiped clean. Papers have the option of filed or tossed in a recycle bin. Pens and paperclips forced in their respective receptacles. It must be twenty minutes to five on a Friday.
            A call came in from the front desk receptionist. Her voice was nonchalant with a hint of deal with this underlying. John had a visitor. He was somewhat relieved because there was nothing left for him to clean at his desk and he had made the decision to stop working sometime before three. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quitting time

Full time writer. That is the end goal and that is what I do now. The day job went the way of video stores that did not rent porn.

The last day at the office passed with little significance in my life. I was there nearly four years with a good attendance record. I hate to miss work even when I hate my job. In the end, there was no speech, no final send off or last words. I simply clocked out and left. Sticking around isn’t really my thing. Too many times I have changed schools, towns and states to stay in touch with an expectation of more than a month or two. At least we have Facebook these days.

I had a (now former) co-worker approach me during my last week. She said, “Best week ever.” I paused from watching my coffee reheated in a microwave to ponder her statement. She was correct. I was indeed having a very good week at work. Things were moving smoothly that week, no angry students, parents, employers, nothing at all. I even completed all my work ahead of schedule. Her statement was making me nostalgic before I even left.

I left all the same.

Sitting in my 6x6 cubicle pondering my co-worker’s statement, I came to the conclusion that the best week ever was because it was my last. Nothing got to me. All the elements were there for a regular crappy week but it was my mental state, I was finally looking forward then looking back. I no longer felt stuck.

Since then I have been steadily keeping busy. The first week was filled with stuff I haven’t had much time to do, golf, fish visit family. Time for relaxing is over. The first day of the rest of my life has dawned.