The exhaustion cuts, shards-of-broken-mirror style, contusions in the psyche realizing there have been twenty-eight jobs in fourteen years since I started my first at age fifteen. (To Joshua’s twenty-three since sixteen.) My mind experiences it most acutely, always trying so hard just to pay rent and maybe eat something, and of course the incessant criticism that chides, “And you’re glorifying God, how exactly?” Then the body manifests the fatigue, and at last the spirit gives in. And I’m not even counting the nights at Ralph’s in Costa Mesa where he would take glamour shots for eighty bucks, or making aspen bar stools and scattering the wood shavings in the forest, or dealing Texas Hold’em for Vincent and his restauranteur friends, or working weekend events like flea markets and bridal conventions selling leather belts and compiling sponsors’ so-called “literature” (don’t insult me) to hand out in goody-bags for zealous fiancés and their Disney-princess bridesmaids who were way far off from the soul of the matter. (Maybe I’m just especially bitter about that last one, a weekend gig in Anaheim that stiffed me and I had to write three or four emails to the supervisor just to get my seventy-five bucks five months later.) Oh, and all those random nights working private catered parties with my little black bow tie and ugly black slacks, driving all over the city to find some needlessly giant house in an equally as needless gated community and spend my New Year’s Eve serving deviled eggs on a silver platter and washing endless dishes while the party counted down to the end of philanthropy season and kissed each other’s wives. With the exhaustion, the traffic, the feeling of being disposable, and the starving soul, it’s a wonder I never really got into drugs. I was around them enough and without a doubt the narcissism they breed rubbed off on me some. But I knew — and they knew — I was deeply unaffected by their spells somehow. Not only was I not part of that opaque secret society, but I was protected, as if in a society all on my own that threatened their constructed agenda and dank sparkly illusion. But yes, some of the residue rubbed off on me, the stuff, those who take it and slowly become it, the scheming and dreaming emanating from them, it all got to me. But like creamy paprika’d egg yolk on my white blouse, I just washed it all off.
©2013, Amaya Engleking