Within a matter of days I signed two contracts – one for a full-time job, the other to write a book. With one freelance client continuing (a miniscule but daily time commitment) and my airbnb on the side, this – particularly given the long commute – has meant I have had no time to do anything else. Like filing, shopping, cleaning, laundry, or even personal hygiene. I am barely brushing my teeth. The book is progressing at a snail’s pace.
Actually, it’s worse than that, because the full-time job has turned out to be more than full time. Contracted to work 8.30 to 4.30, I am still there when the cleaners kick me out at seven. And in between it is pretty relentless. So far in nearly three months, I have made precisely two personal calls. So nothing gets done on the domestic admin front – everything is shut by the time I get home after 8 and I am not there for people to come and do the things that need doing (rats, repairs etc). I have left the premises during the working day just three times: to get keys cut, to buy headache pills, and, once, to meet a friend for lunch.
Most of the people at work are lovely. The boss is not. I have already been in trouble a few times for cock-ups (some of which were my fault) and I realised with a shock that my default attitude is that I am about to be in trouble again. So I am stressed, and sweat, and make mistakes. I check and double check and triple check everything I do and I still make mistakes. Not the most efficient way of working. I keep thinking I will be fired (I’m on a 6-month probation). Still, I am glad I am doing it.
I think I said elsewhere that all my life I have been frightened of just about any job, in case I fuck it up. I mean, imagine being a pilot and having all those lives in your hands! I feel incapable. The job I do now is quite lowly but the stakes are high and the buck stops with me. And sometimes I fuck it up, which is why I am not sleeping and feel like crying all the time (and have actually shed tears at work, to my shame).
I make less money (even without inflation) than I did when I gave up my career over 20 years ago. And I realise that in all the jobs I’ve ever had it was just a case of giving my opinion. No real responsibility. How lovely! Nothing hinges on anything, and you can feel terribly clever. But what a cop out. I am dog tired but I am doing something other than just spouting, just (essentially) liking the sound of my own voice. And (in case you thought I could write a single post without mentioning my bollockheaded ex) it’s not just a money-go-round, designed specifically for some of it to fall as crumbs into one’s own lap. (And, if he is to be believed, which he isn’t, not one penny of it is falling into his lap, so that in the years since he left us he has made no money at all and that is why he is not paying for his children’s food, and to hell with court orders and the law and his offspring.)
It’s hard work, but I hope it will get better. Because I do an honest day’s work, and – this is the best bit really – I am learning.