Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Workin' (Nick Annis)

From yesterday's Writer's Almanac:

Today is Labor Day, first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. The holiday was the idea of the Central Labor Union in New York City, which organized a parade and a picnic featuring speeches by union leaders. It was intended to celebrate labor unions, call for the eight-hour workday, and to recognize the achievements of the American worker.

Many of the labor laws those early activists wanted were passed in the 1930s, including the eight-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek. Most sociologists predicted that in the coming decades Americans would work steadily fewer and fewer hours. But in fact, the opposite has happened. Today, more than 25 million Americans work more than 49 hours each week. And 11 million spend 60 hours or more at work each week. Americans also take fewer vacation days than employees in any other industrialized nation, making Americans the hardest-working (or most overworked) industrialized nation on the planet.

Most writers have worked day jobs at some point in their careers to support their writing, and many have been inspired by those day jobs. Salman Rushdie was an advertising man, and so was Allen Ginsberg. Wallace Stevens worked for an insurance company. Charles Bukowski worked, among other things, as a janitor, a truck driver, and a bouncer for a brothel. Walt Whitman worked for a while as a teacher in series of windowless, poorly heated, one-room schoolhouses for almost no money. While teaching at one school, he wrote to a friend, "How tired and sick I am of this wretched, wretched hole! — ... O, damnation, damnation! Thy other name is school-teaching."

I had the most wonderfully unproductive Monday, basically segueing from my nightgown to my bathing suit and back again - I finished the new Anne Lamott book... and a mix that has been in my head for years (believe it or not, songs showcasing the fiddle, my favorite instrument) finally made it onto a CD, which I then test-drove while I floated in the pool. The 76-minute compilation came to an end just as the dark clouds rolled in - the time was enough to add a layer of pigment to my skin and a newly-discovered calm to my demeanor. With E traveling, we're short-handed again at work this week, so my stress symptoms will soon reappear - however, tomorrow's Hump Day already!

Is the great work
Though every heart is first an
That slaves beneath the city of Light.
This wondrous trade,
This magnificent throne your soul
Is destined for-

You should not have to think
Much about it,
Is it not clear
An apprentice needs a teacher
Who himself
Has charmed the universe
To reveal its wonders inside his cup.
Happiness is the great work,
Though every heart must first become
A student
To one
Who really knows
About Love.

QUOTE: "Yield who will to their separation, my object in living is to unite my avocation and my vocation.... Only where love and need are one... is the deed ever really done for Heaven and the future's sakes." ~ Robert Frost

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