hh 297

On job interviews, when they say, do you have any weak points, I used to say, “Well, I’m a workaholic. I just can’t stop myself from continuing to do my work every waking minute.” They would look at me carefully like, am I really serious? And I wouldn’t laugh till I left the room. It’s a good line, I think. But in my case, maybe not completely true. That’s why I dropped it.

The Atlantic has an article about workaholics, “Are You Addicted to Work?” that explains that a true workaholic works all the time and doesn’t actually enjoy working but can’t get himself or herself to stop. One becomes anxious, depressed and sleep deprived, but can’t stop working. One needs exercise but prefers to work.

The article also mentions that affluent Americans are less likely to quit their jobs and retire than working class Americans. I don’t think this is related to being workaholics. I think that if you work in a factory or at Walmart or even as a cop, fireman or as some part of the military, you are pretty likely to want to retire as soon as you have enough Social Security to do so. Who wouldn’t rather live in a trailer park in Solano Beach, collect SSI, walk the beach, maybe work on a good game of poker rather than work in a department store or as a waiter?

On the other hand, if you work as a professor, a conductor, a writer, an editor, a scientist, an architect, an urban planner, a lawyer, a hedge fund manager, a psychologist, you might not want to quit because you might like your job. I have no retirement plans myself, but I do have plans of teaching less and working more on editing and writing. But I like my work. Arts administration is all about connections, and I think that’s something I like, although relationships with people are often fraught with a kind of madness. The questions pile up: What do you want from me? Am I doing this right? What happens now?

But I like to relax as well as work. I like to exercise. I like to have time to think. I like to breathe. I’d like to relax, exercise, think and breathe more. Definitely, take more deep breaths.

Ron Carlson’s new story, “The Contest” is why I bought this issue. I read it on the train from DC to NY. It’s about a happy Fifties America that I never knew, but he pulls you right in. You have to read it, it’s pure Carlson. About boys and summer and surprises and the way girls wake something up inside a boy and make him want to be something he’s never been and the way the old movies and television were about manly men. It’s about crossing thresholds, like the one from wanting to squirt girls with a squirt gun, to wanting to hold her hand.

Come see him read with Evie Shockley, Peggy Shumaker and Tess Taylor at Bryant Park, New York at 7 pm tonight.

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Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 7:33 am  Leave a Comment  

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