Thursday, November 04, 2004

What Fresh Hell is This?

Sigh. I was going to write a post about how poorly my professional life seems to be going at the moment, but even I find that topic boring and self-indulgent. Instead, I'm going to share some of my novel - mid-stream as it is, inspired by recent work-related events.
This bit is about 1/3 of the way through the novel. A neurotic, unhappy project manager in an unethical, male-dominated software company has had a very bad day at work. With any luck, I won't have to tell you that it's supposed to be funny. My working title is "What Fresh Hell is This?" inspired by the intrepid Dorothy Parker.

"Stupid jerk," I mutter to myself before I even realize that I'm still rolling this mess around in my mind, turning it over and over, and poking at it in all the really tender spots. Just stop thinking about it. Go to your Zen place. But it's too late. A whole new indignation washes over me and I feel sorry for myself all over again. I can feel my emotions welling up, starting just below my esophagus, climbing up my throat and puffing up my nose. Now my eyes are all teary and I'm choking on my self-pity. I feel the need to sit and have a good cry in the middle of downtown traffic. A therapeutic, self-indulgent bawl in front of traveling strangers.

What in particular is making you so upset? I ask myself. I stop and think about it a moment. I sigh. I don't really feel like trying to figure that out - better just to stop crying. It works every time! I let out a last whimper and resign myself to grabbing some control. "I know you so well!" I say to myself. That makes me smile. There. That's better. I am composed and in control. I am not a product of my emotions.

I collect myself and continue driving. I think about my day with Maddie tomorrow. We shall do all things Girl and be pink-clad divas. We will go shopping for new outfits, have lunch at Blue Ginger, and buy (and eat) expensive, extravagant chocolate using her father's credit card. If there is time, we will have a manicure. Last, despite her father's trepidations, we will get our ears pierced. I am secretly relieved that I'll have someone to go with, especially Maddie. If it hurts, I won't be able to cry in front of her.

"Who the fuck does he fucking think he is, that spoiled, arrogant asshole?" Oh dear. I've caught myself thinking about it again.

What in particular is making you unable to let it go? I ask. But I know that its not going to work this time. And I don't really want it to work. If I want to cry, goddamn it, I'm going to cry.

"Because they're all assholes!" I shout out loud to no one in particular. "And maybe I suck too! "

Excuse me? I'm sorry, where did that come from?

Too late. I'm all phlegmy and weepy again. I'm relishing it now. I wipe my nose on the back of my sleeve. "That's right." I whimper, "Maybe some of this is my fault. I'm undependable and not proactive."

I'm really sobbing now. I know I'm half right. I am so incredibly unsuited for this job. I don't even like it. But they're the ones who promoted me. They're the ones who believed in me. How could they just throw everything at me and expect me to catch it all? Maybe it's a test. And I'm failing. Utterly, utterly failing.

Well, they'd all really miss me if I was suddenly hit by a large truck because I can't see where I'm driving through the tears, or I keeled over from a stress-induced heart attack! Or, or, my plane crashes down in the middle of Lake Michigan while I'm flying to clean up failed project in Chicago. I'm on a roll now. My nose is all snotty and I'm finding it difficult to swallow.

And then they'd all come to my funeral and they'd feel really bad. Hmmm. I wonder who would come? My mom, of course. And Arthur. And my sisters, and their husbands. And my cousins. And maybe my university pals. Maybe my neighbors. And the programmers. Hmmm. Probably. And everyone from work. And if I died on a Monday, they'd have to have the funeral on a weekday so they'd have to close the place down so everyone could come. Thousands of dollars in lost productivity just because they couldn't treat me with a little dignity and respect. That makes me smile. Now that I've figured out my guilt-inducing revenge plot, all is right with the world.

Now, if I could just make them feel bad without actually dying, that would work out much better for me.


At 10:38 PM, Blogger Amelia said...

You really are a very talented writer. I have no doubt that if you persist you WILL get published.

I love the 'guilt-induced revenge plot', it's SO something I would do!!

At 8:14 AM, Blogger Rachel - Wicked Ink said...

Well done! the crying jag description really works!

The most satisfying thing I find about writing, is taking a real life scenario and making it end exactly as I believe it should.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Trillian said...

Thanks very much for your kind words, Amelia and Rachel. I am hoping that when women read my novel (when it ever gets finished) they'll be able to laugh through much of it because they can see themselves doing the same thing. Most women are neurotic. I think that's why our men love us.

I do have to say that writing it was cathartic - I came into work feeling really good this morning even though absolutely nothing has changed (except me)!

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

I want to read more!

At 10:17 AM, Blogger withknivesout said...

i have to admit, as a man, i don't get into the overly emotional junk, but the peice is very well written. you have obvious talent. you should never doubt yourself, you have no reason.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Trillian said...

Thanks very much to both of you.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Carmi said...

I'm a fan of both overemotional junk AND your writing (which, as you can well imagine, does not qualify as anything even remotely approaching overemotional junk.) And you have every reason to hold your head high. I can't wait to read the rest of your work.

Words are bigger than workplaces.


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