The alarm went off at 5:55 a.m. I groaned as four chords assaulted my ears over and over again for two minutes before I finally fumbled for my iPhone on the night table to turn it off.There's something just gross about a happy little song heralding the end of such a blissful thing as sleep. I dragged myself out of bed to Morning Edition's all-too-familiar theme song, motivated almost entirely by the paralyzing fear that I'd be late to my first day back in the corporate world.
My first and only day back, so far.
I interviewed yesterday morning with a placement agency for the marketing and creative industries. Somehow, by day's end — EOB, as the corporate world calls it — I had a call from a recruiter offering me an eight-hour proofreading gig the next morning in Rosemont. At a huge corporate client. Doing Very Important Things. But, ugh. "The next morning" quickly became "five hours from now" once I'd finished my writing for the night. My eyes were bleary and red when that stupid alarm went off, but I still managed to dress myself in matching clothes and both my shoes, a little victory before light even began to creep into the apartment. I leaned against the kitchen counter in the dark, sipped a thimble of orange juice and contemplated breakfast. An omelet. Six Weight Watchers points: two eggs, two cups of sautéed spinach and a strip of crumbled bacon left over from the weekend. Plus that four ounces of juice — 2 points, an indulgence I happily allow myself.
I obsess. And I'm not sorry.
Calories no longer exist; it's all about the points. Except the day before yesterday, Sunday, when the Bears unleashed serious hurt on the Seahawks, and Rockit tempted me with macaroni and cheese. And burgers with Brie and Medjool date aioli, nestled inside a pretzel bun.
A tall soy chai from Starbucks: four points. One tiny serving of Kraft macaroni and cheese: 10 points. As much damn steamed broccoli as I want: zero points. A package of Twizzlers — not the family pack I destroyed while I was in St. Louis, mind you: seven points. Ouch.
It's all about the points, and it's still just a big game. This "watching my weight" thing doesn’t even feel like work. Except earlier tonight, when all I wanted was to make and eat an entire batch of chocolate-chip cookie dough after a four-point dinner. I made these instead. And because they weren't that delicious, I ate only a few. So. There's that.
But I realized today that it's easier to ignore the constant temptation of delicious food when you're not sitting at a desk under harsh fluorescent lighting all day. Cubicles are the perfect incubator for budding obesity. The lunch I packed was tiny. Laughable. I'm so happy those people don't know me and didn't have much need to talk to me. By the end of the day, hanger —my favorite portmanteau, the combination of hunger and anger — had settled in with a vengeance. Herbal tea and the promise of broiled chicken with mustard and thyme were the fraying threads keeping me from going all Speed on the eastbound bus driver tonight. I could blame that on post–traumatic commute syndrome. Easily.
The gig itself: That I found myself thinking about food most of the day must say something. I proofread marketing copy about wood stains and used a barcode scanner to cross check hundreds of UPC codes against a master digital database and a beautiful fan of paint chips. In one shining moment 20 minutes before I put my boots on and headed out, I discovered a typo in a just-designed magazine ad. My work here is done, I thought. My tummy rumbled in agreement.
Now that I think about it, being a grown-up in general still feels like a big game for the most part. Every "little victory" — each gig offered, every dollar earned — is points gained toward some unknown grand prize. Or maybe they're awarded in tiers. The prize for making it through January is a big housewarming party and a new cat.
I half wish there were a helpful website to track my life's little victories, though I suppose this one's as good as any. Whatever winnings come my way, here's hoping I'll be able to accept them in those foxy Goal Jeans.