I realized today that the majority of my working life, and a disconcerting amount of my personal life, adds up to a long string of two- to 10-second computer vacuums. Thousands upon thousands of times I have sat, slack in a chair, eyes glazed over as some processor or network tried to keep up with my request. It dawned on me today that the publishing system at my job requires me to wait at least two to four seconds every single time I perform a task. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Open... edit... add... delete... enter... save... This is the life of a "web producer." And I have never, ever once in my computer life, worked on a machine where everything was up to speed. It's like a specially designated hell for someone with my temperament -- the person who, from childhood on, thrived on finishing the test, the race, the dinner, and apparently birth order, FIRST.
This adds up to a devastating loss of time and spirit, when you think about it (and maybe you've noticed: I have). In these micro-eons I imagine brain cells imploding, collagen breaking down, bones thinning and unquantifiable modules of life-force going irreparably dim. Is it better to spend most of your day waiting for computers to work? Or is it better to spend most of your day waiting for (and working for) something else to work, such as social justice or global rescue missions? This is what I thought about today as I waited for my employer's poorly-written proprietary software to accomodate a basic Web site change that perhaps three people might notice.
A bout of ennui? Perhaps.
Yeah, I've been grappling lately with the Parachute Rainbow. There's a great psychological question buried in all of this: Is more choice better, or worse? Objectively speaking, it's pretty fuckin' great to grow up being told you can be anything you want to be and have that more or less be true. Until you come up against your own personality and societal realities. Part of an e-mail to a friend today sums it up:
I can't close the other doors [in life] -- it's like, I *could* decide to be with [boyfriend] and stick with my current livelihood but... hey, what if I decide to move to a small, mountainy town and own a coffee shop as an independent single woman and then meet the rough-hewn-yet-brainy-and-hilarious man of my dreams and pen some outrageously popular book? I mean, we wouldn't want to shut off that possibility, now, would we?! So anyway... oops, I just turned 80! Time to go feed the pigeons and pick up my social security check...