Saturday, December 09, 2006

Strings on me

I got up today at 5 a.m. to drive to Lawrence, Kan. to get my friend to take her to KCI so she could go to Costa Rica/Guatemala for a few weeks. I still do poorly on darkened highways and equally as badly when the winter sun of 7:30 a.m. is blocking all directional and exit signs from view.

We made it, though - and then I made it to work by 8:30.

That's the usual starting time during the week.

Hello, Saturday, I see that you are sunny and nice and that you contain numerous possibilities.

Such things don't matter much to someone who routinely has to go to things that don't begin until 7 p.m., or who spends the dark hours each Monday morning typing up copy until it's light enough to travel to work.

When's the last time I had a weekend, much less a "vacation?" (Six and three years, respectively.)

Do I envy educators, who, like my friend, or like college students, "get to" have a month off at holidays, a week off at spring, and then more weeks between summer school sessions? Everyone who teaches says that it's hard to be a teacher, and that educators need the extra time to catch up on themselves, after giving out so much energy to students, lesson plans, students, parents, conflicts, students, administrational whoo-ha, and incidents such as whatever happened at Westport High School on Thursday (assault times four, student-to-teacher, punches).

I know it is extremely trying to be "on" all the time for students - even good ones or adult ones (I've been a teacher of both such groups and had to run, screaming, into the night) - but, what about all the other jobs that require such sparkling social skills, organizational stamina and mental gymnastics?

Not to mention, a pay-scale that offers very little upward mobility.

Restaurant servers, retailites, office drudges, etc.

They put up with a lot of dolor, a lot of fake smiling, a lot of pushing and back-biting and customers and crap, without a lot of hope or real prospect of changing where they'll be or are at.

No one, likewise, laments what constitute a news-person's weekly life, it seems, the long hours, the outdoor elements, the "it's happening, so, of course, you'll be there, right?" or the tedious sitting-aroundness at "meetings," "hearings" and "sessions," the research, documentation and the sifting through lies that come long before any creative act.

Do we presume that the "adventure" and the "privilege" (of being there - where it's at, right when it's really happening) make up for having to run around like a fool?

Shoot, I don't recall this information being proffered at any of the places I took my education:

According to the Harvard study, 52 percent of the nation's top income earners — those in the top 6 percent of earners and often making six-figure salaries — work more than 70 hours a week. And 48 percent say they are working 16 hours a week more than they did just five years ago.

"Extreme jobs" are defined as ones that take up more than 60 hours a week and fit "various parameters regarding work flow, travel, responsibilities away from the office and outside commitments."

(They also are such that promotion, law-partnership, high-profile existence and money, lots of money, are rewarding elements, a-hem.)

I suppose my job is sub-extreme. Extremely unbalanced?

The article did list media as a potential extreme-job field. I believe they were thinking of "New York" or perhaps television.

Should I have been an attorney, then?

Such professional madness seems destructive to that other American beloved institution (aside from the "do well, make the economy good, succeed! one), the family. You can't very well say, as a father, that you are helping your kids much when your wife is the only parent they see. Sure, money is great, it buys surrogate parents like the soccer coach, gymnastics instructor, video games, and whatever else (research it for me, parents) kids of six-figure-earning families do with their time outside of school.

Personally, I don't think my job would be conducive to parenting either. And I'd like to see anyone determine, based on news product, which weeks this year did take up more than 50 hours of my life's 168-per allotment.

But I digress.

What I began here to say, besides that I love puppets (but not Puppets), is that my drive in "the car with the stereo" allowed me to mess around with memories as old as 11 years. That's what music does, and Plato would say it's a prime reason that art is bad, that it stirs up messy emotions. However, I have never pretended that I don't indulge in messy, stupid things.

Ergo, I give you the chopped-copyrighted lyrics to a more-hitting-home version of that popular psychology mandate to "follow your bliss":

Exerpt from Ani DiFranco's "Joyful Girl," 1996:

i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head

I'm aware that you can't hear what I hear, but if you know me, you know what I mean.

(It's been quite implied in these long, boring-you paragraphs:
unlike Pinocchio, I did not sin myself into a donkey, nor have I figured out how to cut these ties.)

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