No doubt to the dismay of my multi-million readers, this blog’s been living a white lie for the past year. Its title gives the impression that I am a stay-at-home Dad who cooks, irons, shops and does the kids’ homework for them while they pretend to understand my (Queens of the) Stone Age method for calculating long division. But until last Friday I was something different – a stay-at-home journalist.
After an eleven year career break, I resumed the perennially dubious career of hackery-pokery, as editor of and contributor to a football website. The conditions suited me well – I could work from home, setting my own agenda, writing about something I think I’m supposed to love, tied to colleagues only by a Monday morning conference call, during the course of which I usually swept the floors while saying “yeah” and “uh-huh”.
However, in my zeal to make up for eleven years out of the business, I took it all too seriously and achieved burnout after just 13 months. Also, something got broken that couldn’t be fixed, and my previous professional verve evaporated overnight into a hollow existential void wherein echoed the question, “Exactly why the fuck am I writing a piece about the Colorado Rapids’ off-season signings?”
Some people have expressed surprise that I quit my job. That’s because they didn’t realise I’d gone back to work in the first place. When I told them I’d quit working, they assumed Frau Indie-Pop had thrown me out. “Were you so bad at the shopping?” Having to explain that I’d actually resumed my career and now I’d jacked it all in again somewhat blunted the impact of my dramatic decision to get back in slack.
Frau Indie-Pop was suspicious too. Was this going to be like my recent decision to retire from playing football that lasted exactly two weeks? On top of that were all the grand proclamations last year about how happy I was to be working again. Followed by all the declarations this weekend about how happy I am not to be working again. Given this time scale and my history of vacillating enthusiasms, I should be taking up a 90-hour-a-week CEO position at a top blue-chip company in around 24 hours (offers notwithstanding).
“My stepson’s worried because he’s 16 and he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life,” a friend told me on the phone today. How we laughed. Wait until he’s 42 and still hasn’t got a fucking clue. How could you ever trust someone who thinks they have a clue what they’re doing with their lives?
And another question, in counter-response to those who have asked me why I quit. Why not? Who in their right mind doesn’t want to quit working? Never mind walking the streets in your underpants barking quotes from Leviticus in Latvian dialect – the only true rule of an individual human’s insanity should be his or her willingness to stay in the job.
So it’s back to slouching around Safeways at a decent pace instead of muttering curses at pensioners standing in the middle of the aisle peering at the instructions on the soup cans as they try to work out if cream of broccoli will knacker up their intestines for a day. “Out the frikkin’ way,” I’d seethe before. “I’ve got to get back and check my e-mails to see who Real bastarding Salt Lake picked up in the waiver draft.”
Now it’s: “Cream of broccoli? One of my favourites too, sir. Beautiful out again, eh?” Which it is.