Schelli and The City (SATC)

Okay. I admit that this is a poor attempt at channeling Carrie. After all, she’s far more neurotic than I ever could be (Give me another year in writing, though). I couldn’t help but blog about this e-mail thread on the e-group that I have with my college roomies and friends for 13 years. Don’t get any ideas. We don’t look our age. Now, if I can just get past these disclaimers…

One of them, and I wouldn’t say who, got talking about this New York Times article The Case for Working With Your Hands. The article led her to daydream about leaving her job as as a program officer in a reputable foundation and becoming a barista. I said “daydream,” because I know that she would never actually do that. This spurred life into our almost defunct e-group–faster than you can say “Phoenix”–and so, we flooded each other’s inbox with exchanges on the kind of manual labor that we’d love to do. Of course, that’s after acknowledging that we do love the career that we’re in right now *coughs*. One said that she would make a good housekeeper. Another said that she loves doing laundry and cooking. And then there were “owning a farm,” “milking a cow,” and “churning (her own) cheese.” There was even a reference to Toni Collete’s character on In Her Shoes, where she traded in her career as a lawyer for a job as a dog-walker.

Being the wait-I-have-an-opinion-about-everything girl that I am, I had to say what I know to be true: we think we want something only because we don’t really know what it’s like. After all, I’m not from a place where one could earn $10-$20 by walking a dog. Ask a laundrywoman or an all-around housemaid how a regular day is for her, and I’m pretty sure she’d just smile dryly and slather on Pau D’Arco. I know this, because I’ve gone without Yayang for two months–and writing from home at the same time–and all I can say is this: even feeding the dogs can be tiring after a while, and I love my dogs.

Considering that today is Monday, which can both be lazy and manic for any worker of any gender, I think that the e-mail thread is just characteristic of those days when you “personal mail” like crazy, browse job sites, or blog despite the mounting workload–like what I’m doing now–to create an imaginary window which assures us that there’s more to life than what our career defines us to be. I don’t blame my friends for taking a glimpse outside that window like I’ve done a couple of times.

My grad school professor was shocked upon finding out that I’ve moved to the province, despite my futile “It’s a city… in the province.” She further remarked that I’m “too metropolitan” for provincial life. Actually, I didn’t think so. But I did realize that while I wanted to offer something to the community, the community seems to have developed a distrust for people who spent half their lives in big cities. Either that, or they’re secretly envious. It was far from the “city mouse gives back to the country” story that I had imagined it to be. So from time to time, I’d take a look outside that same window and say, “Damn! I’m in the wrong city!”

In conclusion, what I can probably tell my friends is this: “outside looking in” is always a different and unreal view. People would never really want to do manual labor if they had a choice. Sweating it off and breaking your back in a farm that you own, however, is a different story. Maybe you should marry a man who owns a farm. As I had written through e-mail, it wouldn’t hurt if it happens to be an olive farm in Greece.


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