So it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, about 3:11 Eastern time, and right now I’m somewhere in the Atlantic, north of the Bahamas. I’m on on a cruise in celebration of a friend’s wedding, which actually takes place tomorrow on the Island of St. Thomas, if memory servers me correctly.
It’s actually my first cruise, and so far it’s been interesting, and even a lot of fun, although I think I’ll be done with it well before day seven. It didn’t occur to me before we left that even though I’d be hundreds of miles from home, and officially in another country, when not in international waters (actually, if I understand the map correctly, as well as maritime law, we may actually be in Bahamian waters, but no matter), I’d still be surrounded by Americans – many of them fitting the negative stereotypes that people abroad have of us.
It’s kind of like I went on vacation and took everyone from the local mega-mall with me. The most interesting people I’ve met have all been crew members – Russians and assorted Europeans, Filipinos and other Asians and whatnot.
As I sit here typing, I’ve noticed I’ve been getting stared at as people walk by – I’m in a public area of the ship, outside one of the main dining areas, where there is a wifi hot spot (pokey, shared-bandwidth satellite connection, that Carnival charges you for – they really nickel and dime you to death). Getting stared at more than I usually get stared at. I suddenly remembered the big-ass bumper sticker I have on the front of my laptop: “Stop Bitching, and Start a Revolution.” Not too many revolutionary types on the boat, apparently.
My first photo of the trip (which you won’t get to see until I return home, as this satellite connection won’t let me upload files), was taken at a pirate museum/tourist trap on Nassau, our first port of call on the trip (today is a “fun-filled day at sea,” as it says on the trip itinerary). Apparently, when the ship’s surgeon operated on an injured crewman aboard a pirate ship, they forced him to perform fellatio, to take his mind off the fact that the doctor was digging a lead ball out of his shoulder – at least that’s the only conclusion I could come to after happening on this tableau in the museum. So startling – I just had to take a picture.
OK, so obviously that’s not what is going on, but when you see the picture, tell me that’s not what it looks like. …
Well, more on the cruise later. And Sara, if you are reading this, yes, I am actually having fun, more so than not. Nyeh nyeh. So there.
My Foray into PR: From Bad to Worse
However, the three days leading up to the Thanksgiving weekend and this subsequent seven-day cruise were a bitch with regard to work. I wrote the following, in fact, about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday:
Do the paycheck and the perks really make me that happy? If I died today, in the last seconds of my life would I look back on the past six months and think “Wow, sure am glad I spent all that time drafting press releases and articles for things that I really didn’t care about, beyond the realm of work? I sure am glad that I spent all that time writing in such a way to please my corporate masters, writing that flies in the face of a lifetime of instincts, intuition, learning and training, writing that flies in the face of everything I believe makes for good writing, be it creative writing or journalism?”
If I died today would I look back on the past six years and say “I sure am glad I put all that time and effort into making compromises, compromises that also flew in the face of what I knew was right, compromises over things that I also didn’t really care about, ultimately?” In those last seconds, as the electricity grounded out of my brain and my mind dissipated away, would I say “I sure am glad I have spent those years leasing out my soul to corporate drones and minor-league Elsworth Tooheys for a paycheck, telecommuting and health insurance?”Am I really happy doing this?
I know the answer to all these questions. Shame on me. Even as I write these words, I’m debating internally as to whether or not I should post this on the blog that bears my name, and I’m angry with myself that there is any internal debate at all.
Part of myself counsels: “wait until after the forthcoming holiday and your ensuing vacation. Leave all this alone until you can rationally examine all the potential consequences of your actions. …”
To which another part of me responds “Enough! You’ve felt this conflict for years; you know bullshit when you see it; you’ve spent countless hours – no, countless days – pondering these questions. You know the answers; there should be no debate; you are just being a coward. If anyone else came to you with this quandary, you know what you would tell them. Why can’t you take your own advice? Quit being such a pathetic weakling and start living life the way you know you should.”
As I mentioned above, I debated about whether to post this or not. But the more I think about it, I don’t want to self-censor myself (within reason, of course), on this blog. After all, the most interesting personal blogs, at least the ones I find the most compelling, are the ones where self censorship doesn’t come into play – we get to see the author’s unexpurgated emotions, straight from the id (if ever change the name of my blog, it’s going to be renamed “Straight Outta Id, Y’all).
I’m not going to get into the details of what prompted the words above, but I did want to go ahead and post them. Now that the whirlwind of work that preceded the holiday and the hubbub of getting to Florida and getting on the ship, etc., is over, I have the perspective of distance to some degree; that little voice in my head that I was so quick to castigate was not entirely wrong.
On the whole, I have to say I like my job. And in many ways, I’m thankful I’ve been able to spend the last six years doing what I was doing. I really like the people I work with, for the most part, and that counts for a lot. And I really can’t complain about the compensation, by any measure.
And yet, I suppose anyone who is self aware sooner or later has to ask themselves if their chosen profession is really self fulfilling. Maybe this is what a mid-life crisis is; I don’t know. If that’s true, then I’ve been having one off and on, since I graduated from college. Why couldn’t I just buy a red convertible and try and court a young lady half my age? Well, the latter would be illegal for a few more years yet, for one thing, but you get the idea.
The older I get, the more inclined I seem to ask myself, are these things like the level of monetary compensation, benefits, etc., really worth it to perform a job that is just that, a job, and not a passion? I like being able to spend money when the urge strikes, and not have to worry about it. But does that make me happy? Just the fact that I’m raising the question to myself would seem to indicate that the answer is in doubt … and I think this is why perhaps I got so frustrated with work last week, prior to the long holiday weekend … I was really being unfair to my career, so to speak, both the profession and my current and previous employer. I think the issue lies more within me.
I guess when I’m wandering the deck of the Carnival Glory this week and soaking up the wind and the salt spray, indulging in the mysterious draw that is the sea, I’ve got a lot to think about …