DIARY of a 99%-er: The Struggle Between Survival and Creative Expression

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August 11

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” - Confucius

So with no job prospects on the horizon and with the freelance opportunities drying up recently, I get a call from a temp agency about a caterer who needs some help drumming up new business. So, I start going to this caterer’s house every morning and there’s another gal who’s been helping her on-and-off for years, who’s absolutely fantastic, and we listen to music while we’re working, and I’m thinking, “Wow, this is awesome – an environment that’s much more laid back than the company I used to work for. I am so enjoying this.”

And, the words are barely out of my mouth, when the gal I’m working for, who is a very nice person, starts taking on the identity of a controlling micro-manager and just wants me to “be a machine”, cranking out phone call after phone call and doing it robotically, exactly like this other gal, to the point where she has me sit and listen to her so I can mimic her.

As a journalist, I’ve never had a problem talking to other people and I am doing the best I can. But the woman running the show turns out to be just as controlling as the female managers at the previous company.

She also asks me not to talk to the other gal, even though we only talk when I go into the kitchen, and they’re mini-conversations. So, I ask the Universe again: Why am I being placed in situations with controlling women who just want to get things done as fast as possible? Who don’t even take a breath after one project is completed before moving onto the next? Who see their employees only as a means to an end, even in their own house? Who want someone who is a “machine”?

The caterer mentioned one day that she wants to get this project done as quickly as possible because her home is turning into “an office.” Well, that’s what happens when you invite people into your home and make barely any effort to connect with them personally. She just sits in her office in total silence, barely interacting with the people she has asked to help her because she is racing toward the end result. It is so awkward since this is her house and the environment is so tense.

So, another reminder that I need to keep laser-like focus on creating my own paradigm – creating income based on my skills and talents so I won’t be forced financially to fit into someone else’s paradigm. I crave creative freedom like plants crave carbon dioxide. So, I keep plugging away at my book and my other money-making efforts that I can do independently in my spare time.

I do, however, really miss working in a newsroom. What a great environment newsrooms are. There is an openness and vibrant energy – the energy of the collective creative consciousness, that everyone feeds off of (I know, naughty grammar, ending my sentence with a preposition!) There are absolutely no barriers to communication or collaboration. The reporters all sit in an open space, with no cubicles, offices or any physical barriers separating them. And, this is what’s going on, all at the same time: We are all writing our own articles, while other reporters are interviewing their sources on the phone; we are all talking, joking, laughing, sharing, asking each other questions, sometimes collaborating – all at the same, loud, noisy, chaotic time. And, you know what? It’s glorious! It works! We still put out a newspaper every day. We are not being constantly told, like in an elementary-school library, to keep it down and be quiet. We are actively engaged with our own creativity and with each other, and it is a beautiful thing.

It is the antithesis of working in an administrative environment and precisely why I am so loathe to go back to administrative work. The clampdown typically comes from the top and you are told to be seen and not heard and keep a low profile and just do your job and omigod, it’s oppressive and repressive and diminishes our natural creativity and productivity.

Maybe I can find another job in a newsroom. Hah! Newsrooms are like endangered species these days. In fact, someone should create an Endangered Newsrooms List of all the current newsrooms, see which ones are worth saving and do something to protect them!

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