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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘The Workplace’

Writing a novel vs tickling a cat

May 29, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, The Workplace 4 Comments →

work cats

I have to finish writing a novel in three months so I’ve been in lockdown for two and a half weeks. I only allow myself out of the house twice a week for appointments and chores. So far it’s been working: I’ve written down half of it, and expect to complete the first draft well before my August 31 deadline. Also, I’ve made a detailed outline so I know where it’s going. More importantly I can stand it, so it’s safe from the shredder.

Technically this is my second novel. The first one, I never published. I didn’t like it. However, it wasn’t total garbage so I took the parts that worked and published them as short stories. They’re in The Stories So Far, the ones where the protagonist is named Jude.

So I’m living inside my head these days, and the only witnesses are the cats. They are not the most cooperative creatures. They want attention. Saffy challenges me to staring contests.

saffy

Drogon invades my workspace in stages.

drog1.1
What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?
drog2.1
Would you like to rub my tummy? It’s very soft.
drog3.1
I’m sure you won’t mind if I park my butt on top of your notebook.
drog5
Fur! Soft!
drog4
I’m sleepy. This is a good place for a nap.

Why do we work so hard?

March 17, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: The Workplace No Comments →

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This goes out to my sister, who is in the office twelve hours a day, is raising three kids and taking her MBA on weekends. Just reading her schedule makes me tired.

One possibility is that we have all got stuck on a treadmill. Technology and globalisation mean that an increasing number of good jobs are winner-take-most competitions. Banks and law firms amass extraordinary financial returns, directors and partners within those firms make colossal salaries, and the route to those coveted positions lies through years of round-the-clock work. The number of firms with global reach, and of tech start-ups that dominate a market niche, is limited. Securing a place near the top of the income spectrum in such a firm, and remaining in it, is a matter of constant struggle and competition. Meanwhile the technological forces that enable a few elite firms to become dominant also allow work, in the form of those constantly pinging emails, to follow us everywhere.

This relentless competition increases the need to earn high salaries, for as well-paid people cluster together they bid up the price of the resources for which they compete. In the brainpower-heavy cities where most of them live, getting on the property ladder requires the sort of sum that can be built up only through long hours in an important job. Then there is conspicuous consumption: the need to have a great-looking car and a home out of Interiors magazine, the competition to place children in good (that is, private) schools, the need to maintain a coterie of domestic workers – you mean you don’t have a personal shopper? And so on, and on.

Read it in The Economist.

Saffy the cat reviews our column.

November 06, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, The Workplace No Comments →

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She’s a harsh critic.

Living by your wits: no security, but less stress

October 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Psychology, The Workplace No Comments →

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Saffy had dental surgery two weeks ago. We noticed that she’d been swatting her face and snarling, and figured she had a toothache. The excellent vets at Makati Dog and Cat Hospital extracted five rotten teeth (Saffy is 15 and has never brushed her teeth in her life, being a cat). Saffy has recovered completely and is slightly nicer than she was when she was in pain, though she could still be the reincarnation of Josef Stalin. She’s even started eating hard kibble again, after having demanded paté-type cat food for the last year or so.

If we had a “normal” work schedule and went to the office everyday, we might not have noticed that our feline overlord needed medical attention. The great advantage of being freelance, i.e. living by our wits, is that we can decide how we’re going to spend our time. In the 21st century, time is a luxury that even the rich and powerful can barely afford. They’re over-scheduled and have to hoard their holidays. As long as we finish our assignments, we can go to the movies in the middle of the afternoon.

In our observation, people who live by their wits are less stressed than people with high-paying jobs or successful businesses. We don’t have real financial security, and we’re always aware that periods of liquidity can suddenly give way to penury. We’re accustomed to uncertainty and chaos, so we’ve learned to ride out the lean periods. This does not mean we’re lazy. Freelancers who are lazy cannot pay the rent or buy cat food. We toil, but we get to decide when to toil, usually in intense bursts.

Living by your wits isn’t for everybody, but if you know how to improvise and you don’t have ten children to buy braces for, we recommend it.

All cats are critics

March 10, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, The Workplace No Comments →

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Saffy: It is faithful to its literary source.
Drogon: There are not enough cats.

Is krungkrung hyphenated?

January 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Language, The Workplace 4 Comments →

Our friend Noel sent us a video report that could very well be the definition of krungkrung. Then he asked something that, in our universe, is a vital question: Is krungkrung hyphenated? Krungkrung or krung-krung?

Read our column at InterAksyon.com.