Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Working Girl

crack. snap.

I shuddered. The woman who had just sat down at the next workstation habitually cracked her knuckles.

Would it be rude to ask her to cut that out? This is a library! You’re not supposed to make noise. How do you say “knuckles” in Spanish? Not a clue.

She’d sat next to me yesterday too. I guess she also has a lot of work.

Yes, I’m in Barcelona. But no, I’m not on holiday. I'm not roaming the streets of the Old City, stopping for shopping and coffee. I wake up in the mornings and commute a few blocks (on foot) to the library. My library card gets me through the door and onto the wi-fi. I then proceed to work all day.

Which, as you may already be aware, is no way to live. And it does not jive with my new plan to stop taking on more work than I can handle and refuse any work that is not either 1) my primary job or 2) somehow beneficial to me personally (not only financially, which is how I got into this overcommitted mess in the first place).

I still have to finish last year’s commitments. Which all take time. Lots and lots of time. It's cutting seriously into my real job, but I'm trying hard to sneak in bits of real-job along the way. I can upload while I write, but I can't upload while I research (I use a buggy virtual hard drive that can't walk and chew gum at the same time).

The library is not a bad place to work, if one must spend ten days in Barcelona chained to a desk. It’s warm here, the wi-fi is free, and there are public toilets within the complex. The only problem is that my card only admits me six times, so I cannot leave for lunch unless I want my card punched again. I starve instead, until sometime after six, when I am so hungry I can’t function. Then I race out of the library and eat the first unhealthy-but-hot thing I see.

I know what everyone would say. You're in Barcelona! Live a little. But it's not a vacation. It's my life. I have to work just like you. The only difference is the surroundings as I walk home from work to my little apartment.

I know working all the time isn't much of a life, whether it's in Barcelona, Jersey City, or Kuwait. Michael Kraiger told me he'd read an article about people who had changed their lives.

"You mean people who have done things like sell their homes, quit their jobs, and gone around the world for a year without airplanes, and then become authors?"

Point taken, I expect. Lifestyle changes do not equal Cinderella-esque results. My prince is not stuck in traffic. Money does not fall from the sky once you follow your dreams.

Give me another week. The end is not in sight but it's just around the bend.


Marie Javins said...

Guess what? It's COLD here today. How can it be cold in Barcelona? I thought it was always sunny and beautiful here...

Amanda Castleman said...

>"But it's not a vacation. It's my life."

Amen, sister!

As I point out in my travel-writing class syllabus: "It's work. Nice work, if you can get it, but a far cry from slobbing on the beach with a margarita."


Linda said...

Southern California was chilly too! Nights were a cold 40 F; days warmed up to the 60's. At least the sun shone a lot!

Anonymous said...

Which library do you find to be the best for working in BCN?

Thanks for any tips,

Marie Javins said...

I've only been to one of them (over and over). It's behind Boqueria market, in an old hospital/monstery looking building.