Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why I’m No Prada-clad Devil—And Never Will Be

In an attempt to beat the sweltering heat and clear my mind of the (productive and meaningful) clutter that accumulated at the fellowship program I am in, I went to see the Devil Wears Prada last night. For a movie based on witty chick lit (as witty as chick lit can be), the film did not disappoint. I laughed at the appropriately snide comments and hapless “why me” moments.

But mostly I stared at Anne Hathaway. Tall, lean, runway-ready Anne Hathaway (well, after her character Andy finally gets a makeover). She was a goddess.

I watched her race down the street in skinny boots, clatter up and down stairs in stilettos, and traipse around New York and Paris in the highest of Jimmy Choos. Ouch. All I could think of was how sore and achy my joints get from one afternoon of very (very) low heels. Between joint problems (bad ankles and inward hips) and adrenal failure (which makes most of my major muscles weak and sluggish and incredibly painful even to the touch), fashionable shoes are not for me, however much I love them.

I marveled at the hours our dork-cum-party girl Andy kept. She complained about the late hours and early mornings, the events that lasted far longer than she planned and the trips that sprung up at the last moment, but frankly I was jealous. Even if I got offered the job “a million girls would die for” (like Andy did), I’d never be able to accept it. One day, and I’d be done. Whether I am tired from not getting enough oxygen or tired because my adrenal depletion is particularly bad, I am always tired and always pushing my body to get through the day.

The movie came at an especially interesting time for me since this week is the first time I have been in a 9-5 routine in three years. Ok, to be fair, my fellowship runs from 9-3 everyday, so it’s not even the full daily grind. But for someone used to a more erratic schedule—teaching and attending courses later in the day and writing all day beforehand—it is an adjustment.

The last time I was a 9-5’er was the year after college when I worked at a publishing company, and that was in the WA Era—the With Adrenaline Era. It’s only Day 3 of my fellowship program, and already I am seriously dragging. As in John needed to help me get dressed and drop me off just so I could attend and I am in intense pain dragging. I have a feeling tomorrow may be one of those days where I can’t move my legs enough to get out of bed.

Clearly, I am not made for the 9-5 world anymore. Even when my adrenal condition improves, with all of my lung and immune problems, I doubt I ever will be.

Overall, my more flexible schedule is dictated by what I do: teaching at the college level doesn’t require me to be present on campus 9-5, though certainly a lot of the prep work and grading takes place when I am not in the classroom. And the beauty of freelancing is that as long as I have my laptop, I can do my work anywhere. It’s not as if this was all b y accident, though. On some level, I knew I’d never quite have the stamina to run the rat race and stay out of the hospital.

A lot of people envy telecommuting, and for the most part, I love it. I am at my computer by 8:30 every day like everyone else, and I stop only for a lunch break. I don’t have to deal with the hassle of an early commute and when I am having a bad day, I can pace things accordingly.

But the downside is that there is no “off” switch for me, no way to leave work at work because my office is in my home. Compulsive by nature, I feel really guilty if I am at home and not working, whether that’s a Saturday afternoon or a Thursday night. It’s not glamorous, but it works for me.

So I will never be someone who totters around in Minolo Blahniks until 3 am. But I’ll probably always be the girl who clatters away on her keyboard in her pajamas.

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