Friday, May 08, 2020

life and work and other work

About once every couple weeks, we are warned, either from the internets, or the weekly e-mails from HR, of the importance of drawing firm lines between life and work. They use phrases like "work-life balance" which seems as an artist and someone who runs a business on the side of a full-time job like a foreign continent or a unicorn I've never quite understood to exist. Perhaps the greatest difference between pre-coronatine life and present is that I do not travel anywhere to do certain kinds of work. This does cut a couple hours of commuting from my day. Even before, my hours not at the library were surrounded by other kinds of work--either writing and editing, making books, making art. My "life" if separated out, was more like eating and sleeping, maybe occasional social outings or family visits, but even these were littered with other sorts of mental labor attendant with something I was working on--a manuscript, a cover design, some library scheme that was exciting but involved more concentration than a busy service desk area can provide.

When I was in college, I was terrified at the idea that one had one's "work," where most of your day was spent toiling, and then a "life" where the other half of you existed.  It seemed a sad lot, especially if you were an artist.  Because then you not only had "work" but also "more work" and maybe "life" happened in those in-betweens, on the fringes.  But then maybe you were sustained if your art was also your life, which blurred the lines a bit more. Since I am a super introvert anyway, it's even rougher to parse out what that life means, especially since my wants there are pretty simple. Sleep, food, ample horror movies on Netflix.  Occasional outings or date nights, weekly visit from my signifigant other.  A few family visit trips per year.

When I gave up the studio, people would occasionally ask if I would miss the separation between home and work, and I wondered if there really was one.  When I had the etsy shop, I would spend weekends posting and creating things for the shop on the weekends,  Later,  I spent my weekends working on covers and art things.   Sure there were tasks that specifically had to be done there, but much of my "work" is more a way of breathing, in and out, but not really defined. Surely, 20 years ago, the lines were a little firmer before the press. Before my library pursuits were interesting enough to devote time to them off campus. Then I worked and came home, but even still I spent that time writing mostly. I always laugh when I see memes about being a writer and basically committing to having homework your entire life.  Because its pretty much true.

These weeks have been odd.  I don't feel like I have firm lines.  Nor do I clock in and clock out in any regular fashion.  While I don't check email on the weekends for the library or do zoom meetings, I do still work on things is their pressing or the mood strikes me.  Outside of  creative work, which is hard right now, I split most of my days between library and press work.  My "life" time is about the same--meals, cleaning/organizing,  Netflix, sleep. Even so, with nowhere to go, there doesn't seem to be more of it..this mysterious "life" that is separate from "work"  There is just work, and work, and another kind of work, for different things and with different aims, some paid, some unpaid, but still all the lines blurry.

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