Korinna McRobert

Contract

I can’t write poetically about this.

I have been ill since Wednesday. Nearly half a week unnecessarily ill. I had my first day at work on Wednesday. It was to be my only day.

Context: I got scared when I moved to a different country. Unlike a lot of people I know I do not have the safety net of parental or familial support, as I am estranged from my paedophilic bully of a father, my manipulative martyr of a mother, as well as my sister, my cousins, my aunts. I have not talked to my 92 year old grandfather in a while. When he dies I doubt anybody will tell me. My boyfriend is very supportive and open minded and brave but I am not quick to trust support from anyone. I decided I needed a shitty day job, London style, to have independence.

I was told about this job by a friend who works there. I had a couple of interviews beforehand. My only reservations by this point were the criminally low wage. After insurance deductions it worked out at £5 per hour, with a commitment of 20 hours a week. They made it seem flexible in the interview and said there were 24 holiday days per year.

Once I got there I found out it was 24 part-time (half) days, they prefer part-timers to stagger their hours and so come in almost every day, they offer a luxurious gift for the colleague who recruited me (my friend said nothing about this) and the company deals mainly with advertising pretty much anything under the sun available for purchase in USA, including FIREARMS. They had luxurious offices, ticking all the cool boxes. They were out-sourcing English-speaking ex-pats in Berlin for their USA offices, working for the US but in Berlin. My email address signature would have US address and phone number. There is no minimum wage in Germany. Dodgy.

So apart from the fact that this place promoted the buying of guns the contract that I was given had such a violent effect on me I still do not think I can express myself coherently about it. So there was this pile of paper with a German column and an English column. It told me how much I would work within a given time and told me how much I would be earning. It told me I would get insurance, the premium over which I had no control. No, excuse me, EVERYTHING over which I had no control. As I signed this thing, after asking lots of questions and catching out a few “translation errors” about unpaid overtime, I felt like I lost a part of me.

My principles? My integrity? My freedom? My energy? In that one day I spent hours tagging products on online adverts. No human contact. It was so  unlike the call centre for performance professionals I worked at in London for two years. No funny actors to sit next to. No incentives to do well. Nobody taking the job for what it was: A stop-gap. There was a sense that people had to pretend to care about this vacuous exploitative company. At least at the call centre our bosses knew how tedious it was and never sugar coated anything and none of the agents said a good thing about the job other than the flexibility. It was cut-throat and insecure but it was honest. I could be honest. I could be myself and we could all have a good old-fashioned British moan about everything. This American corporate sanitised shiny approach made me ill. Literally. The next day I woke up at 5 am with a terrible stomach ache. I had already talked about this firearms thing making me feel terribly uncomfortable and not being happy. I had to email in sick. I was sick the next day also. I decided to email and quit.

I had signed something and silenced a part of me. My entire being went into full rebellion. I swear I could not control my body with the power of my mind, however I tried to manipulate it. I realised what I am about. I do forget from time to time. I realised what I value. I do value security but I am not going to sell my spirit or shut my mouth to get it. I am still feeling ill and figure that if I express myself I will feel better. I do. I realise I got scared. We all do. I nearly made a long-term decision based on a short-term feeling of fear. Shudder.

I am back. Moving country, changing my living situation and learning a new language does not mean changing anything about myself or the way I have successfully lived my life in the past.

Everything worth doing involves risk. Everything is temporary. The greatest investments can yield the biggest return. I want my health and my happiness and I can’t let anyone take that away from me. Not without a fight at least.

Anxious Apathy

Today I went to a baby’s first birthday party. On our way to the party me and my boyfriend bickered. I feel I am making him miserable. He says I am very important to him. I need to get my head round the fact that even a life without trauma and hardship can be frustrating and confusing. One cannot be happy all the time. Once we got inside there were toddlers and babies everywhere. They were so sweet. They relaxed us. We were fine again.

On our walk home we came upon an open air free concert. We had a sausage with funky salad. We came home and had a nap before we planned to head out to see a friend play a small free concert in a local art space. I woke up a couple of times in that time and just checked the time, as we had not set an alarm. I woke up at the right time and got up immediately. My stomach was in so much pain. Something between acid/tensing/feeling winded. I had to crouch. I still made it to the space but could not stand up for too long. I was getting really hot too. I went home by myself. I had some fizzy water and my Crohn’s disease medication when I got home. Within half an hour the pain was gone but I felt exhausted. In sick mode. Strange how that happens. I got a call from him to see if I needed anything. I didn’t.

He is not back yet. It’s been three hours. Is it normal to wonder where he is and if he is alright? Maybe. Is it too much? It feels like it. Should I not wonder where he is? Should I not call him? Who cares. Who fucking cares anymore. I don’t get that impulse I used to to call people: my therapist, my friends, my muse, my lover. They are generally busy. It is generally a bad time for everyone. I have no interest in talking to people about my feelings. I am not response dependant, which I thought would be a good thing to achieve, only it is making me a bit more insular.

My film ReFraming was shown in Cyprus yesterday, to a very small audience in a new festival. I was sick about it for a week. I nearly fainted yesterday. I was so stressed. It went fine. It was like breaking the seal. A bit. That film would stress me out shown anywhere. It is so personal and slow. I get worried I am putting the audience through hell. This was not the response I got of course but it still doesn’t stop me from thinking it.

I called him. He called me back. He is fine. The concert went well. I feel better. Maybe I am response dependent.

I am putting the kettle on. Tea never solved the world’s problems but may have helped to manage them.

We are having tea. I feel better. I am glad I am here.

Today

Sitting at a desk made of a door

with some red wine

with very mild anxiety

and slight neck strain

Mostly excited and happy

Not believing how I could be unhappy

Remembering how when I am unhappy

I cannot believe I can ever be happy

Or that life is worth living

Life’s worth cannot be theorised or understood

An explanation is a waste of time

Life is felt

Love is a feeling

Beauty is a feeling

When you lose the feeling

life is lost

I’ve been swinging from branches

I’ve been hanging off branches

I’ve been letting go

and falling

Only to have to get up again

In this relentless cycle of

good vs bad feeling

The inescapable cosmos of feeling

Mixed states

Grey

never becoming white again