I see my salary as if it were a tangible thing, but I never see any of my money.
When I say I see it, I mean any thought, however small and glancing, of the number itself auto-projects a visual somewhere behind my eyes, as if I’m squeezing them shut and trying to look through my eyelids. A visual not of the actual digits, however, but of a distinct shape which seems born from and always already subsumed by the thought of the number like a cube and square in a rotating tesseract.
And it has a specific spatial orientation to me, this shape, very positional. Now—currently, my current salary—I see it from the right, strictly. From my salary’s right, whatever that means, since everybody knows that salaries don’t have sides. But mine does, because it’s as if it’s a translucent bar, appropriately greenish, like a sun-faded banker’s visor, rising up out of and within a faintly reddish black nothing and going nowhere, as far as I can tell, sitting—standing, rather—in an infinite empty space, like space (brilliant), of which I can only see a portion as if on a tv screen. And I’m there, of course, unembodied (un-, not dis-), just mind and sight, seeing it off to my left a bit, looking sidelong and suspicious. It is always like this. Or has always been.
Except for when it wasn’t. Before, maybe six or seven years ago, as the crow flies, when I worked a completely different kind of work and my salary was about half its current… uh… size, I saw it from its left, off a bit to my right, same angle, flipped vertically. I was truly on the other side. Metaphorical literalismos, that. Even now, when I think of my salary back then, this is how I see it, from its left. As if it just is, even though it’s now a was.
The time between was and is I don’t much remember. Who does, time in between being the most disposable, most memorially expendable of all times. So much of life is time in between. I wrote that down the other night, then last night I read in Lispector that human life can be divided into three main components: the pursuit of pleasure, the fear of it (pleasure), and the dissatisfactions of the time in between. I thanked her for reminding me where I am. She didn’t much care because she’s dead. I told her I’d rather be there than here. Sometimes.
The thing about my salary is it’s just a thing—it means absolutely nothing to me, either as a strange green bar or a paycheck, absolutely nothing. Has nothing really even to do with me; it’s just something in my everyday which I sometimes notice, like my toothbrush holder.
Unlike my toothbrush holder, however, as far as I know, it dictates quite a bit of my life, until I find cause to make decisions in spite of it, which is a special talent of mine, typically in pursuit or fear of pleasure. Then it ends up mattering more as I have to dig back out of my special talent, but still never meaning a thing. Mattering more, mattering less, always meaning nothing. It is an ugly, insipid relic of the time in between.
And that’s what gets me. Because “everything is always something else,” as Lish said. He also said television is “a great substitute for living.” So is life sometimes, the in between kind of life where matter eclipses meaning. It seems like living but it is not, it is just a substitute. It is just life, as they say. That’s life. And I’ve earned it.
I sometimes wonder why I can’t get my entire insipid monetary relic up front, at the beginning of the year, and then take all my vacation days at once and say, yeah, sure, of course I’ll be back, I’m just going to… be over here for a while pursuing and fearing pleasure because at least that’s colorful and I’m so sick of this otiose green in between. You guys keep earning it. And don’t call me because my salary doesn’t like me being on the phone when I’m on vacation. I’ll be back when it’s all gone and I have a few tattoos and a deep tan and a severe headache and a wife I don’t remember wife-ing who wants to go back to “our” condo in Puerto Vallarta because she doesn’t realize it’s just a timeshare and has no idea I’m broke again. I assume that’s her name on my neck. At least I could say I’d earned that laugh.
I’m not sure what any of this means but it’s strange and I think strange is worth writing approximately 832 words about. For illustrative purposes, here’s a photo of me earning my salary.
I don’t care if I never wake up. Keep me, if this is how it’s going to be, just in between.