Waking up happens as it does. Varying degrees of was it enough? and shaking off what I dreamed. I attend to the needs of the cats, I sip at something, and I sit.

This is the beginning.

Scheduling is the first work of the day, ensuring that all accounts are covered. There are seven. Somewhere in the first quarter of completion, I will inevitably fold my arms into parallel lines on the breakfast bar and enshroud my head within them for a moment that is always too short.

This is the first moment of dread.

It’s about 6:45AM and the sun is stretching itself into wakefulness, and I wish for the morning that feels still like night. Time is passing. I am in various stages of dress and makeup and who knows what my hair is about.

The only thing I think then is how much time is left until I have to leave the apartment for the office, the place where the real work ends and the bullshit begins.

I was hired under the premise that I would be using my brain, that my degree was essential because this would be an intelligence job, and I was excited for that, for being valued for my mind, for using my mind for more than regurgitating information over the phone. Now I regurgitate information into a computer, from one screen to another while they track how much keyboard vomit I can produce per hour, in terms of numbers and efficiency printed in a public spreadsheet weekly so everyone can see the Winners and the Losers.

The efficiency quotient is based on how much time you physically spend at your desk vomiting consistently, like a terrible bulimia that comes with a paycheck and maddening monotony and this is what I think of at 6:45AM when I lay my head down in something quite like despair, if it weren’t such a melodramatic word.

There is eight and a half hours of this to follow — 9-5:30 — where my eyes turn to glass and my motions become jittery and I can’t think of a thing to occupy my mind and keep the dopamine flowing. The podcasts become grating, and music is mood-influential, and my stomach churns and I will become physically sick on too much coffee or food that I’ve eaten out of boredom.

The sloth and torpor feeling is exchanged for a paycheck that is exchanged for bills and medications and booze, and if you tell me this is typical — I wouldn’t recommend it.

We are all supposed to be unsatisfied right now, in various stages of misery that arise from the deaths of our longstanding dreams, but it’s normal. It’s your quarter life crisis. It will pass, but into where?

Into suburban melodramas of which neighbor didn’t bring potato salad to the barbecue potluck, and gaining weight until my husband no longer finds me attractive, and having a child because I don’t know what else to do with myself and I’m still in the cubicle covered in forest green felt unless they’ve given me an office.

That’s unacceptable. I’d rather be committed and medicated into forgetting that life was anything more than a fever dream because my arms are tight with the want of boxing because I can’t flee right now, so what’s left is fight.

The Awful of it All is there’s no thing to fight. No specific face, or entity. It’s just normal, a thing to endure, and then life, once filled with such promise, comes to put on the mask of slow and torturous death.

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