Crazy-Ass Shit

I'm freelancing at home but can't concentrate.

Lately more than a few of my friends have started pleading with me to quit my job. Apparently, it's torturing me. I suppose I have trouble discerning it from all the other things that are torturing me.

As you might have discerned from these increasingly sporadic posts, it's been busy at the office. I'm the editorial coordinator for 24 or so books a year. There are 2 other staff members in the book department –– both designers. So basically, I have a fuckload of work. Everying from contracts, to schedules and budgets, to witing flap copy and proofreading –– even if it's freelanced –- it goes through me.

2 months into the job, I suffered Ye Olde Tragedie. That didn't help, neither. But really, despite being distraught, I just took cry breaks and kept working. I decided not to stay late or come in on weekends -- that's it.

But I need to discern some problems from others. One is the nuts and bolts of too much work and too little time. Now that I *have* started staying late and coming in on the weekends, it's apparent that the river is rising and we need more sandbaggers. Not having resources to do your job is very bad, but you can work on it. I'm freelancing out a lot of stuff. I'm lobbying for an assistant. I'm ensnaring my more flexible-scheduled friends to come in and help with office stuff.

The second problem is always the kicker: the tone of your interactions with others. This is where it gets spooky, and simple situations suddenly turn into nightmares.

For example, the president of the company walked by my cubicle the other day and his foot hit a box. It was left there as a delivery. (I have a lot of boxes stacked outside my cubicle wall because there is no room for them inside the cubicle. I had an intern consolidate them. But when an editorial coordinator doesn't have a bookcase, and has to keep page proofs in a box under her desk, things tend to pile up quickly.)

I got up and pushed the box inside my cube.

"How is it going, Erica." The president has a way of making even simple questions sound mocking. Is he mocking me? He's chewing gum.

"It's okay. There's . . . a lot going on this season, but we're on top of it so far." I am profoundly uncomfortable.

"Yeah? Like what."

"A lot of stuff coming in, and going out." Oh duh. "Manuscripts are coming in, and I'm sending them out to be copyedited." That is about one one-thousandth of what I'm doing, but so be it.

"So, you're busy."

"Yes . . . I'm very busy." I raise my eyebrows and glare. Oops -- knock off 2 points for sarcasm.

"Well, then, don't let me keep you." he emphasizes the word keep. He walks off.


I instantly guess he saw me reading the Times online one too many times. But that strikes me as strange and superficial. Or did he hear me on the phone with my parents? As a rule, parents get unlimited phone access (all others cut to five minutes -- ten if it's a crisis.)

This exchange, after weeks of clocking extra hours and giving myself stomach cramps, made me want to flush my head down the toilet.

What remains strange to me is that, if there is a problem, it is not made explicit. If I'm doing something not kosher, a simple "please don't do that" would rectify it in a flash. So it must be something more.

I'm choosing to see it as a study in power. A person maintains feelings of power by keeping others off their footing, constantly guessing and being taken by surprise. I was the victim of the day.

But is this the reward I get for frying myself to get these miserable books out the door?

I am wading through some serious crazy-ass shit.



A while ago I had an idea of having a party for my thirty-three-and-a-third birthday. Anyone old enough to get the reference would be automatically invited.

The agenda to the party was not only to celebrate my ever-slowing RPM, but secretly to seal a deal with myself. By making it to 33.33 I will have outlived my mom. For a long time I had been convinced that, in her footsteps, I would be stricken with a failing body at an early age. Her death remains as much a mystery to me now as it was when I was 7.

Last winter I mentioned the party idea to Ben as we were watching "The Wire." "Go ahead, have a party," he said, "but don't tell people that last part."

33.33 hits on Saturday. In a painful coincidence, it's also the six-month anniversary of Ben's death.

I can't think of anything more to say. Except to that asshole who nearly ran me over on his bike this morning, careening down lower Broadway at top speed and sailing through a red light: