“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.”

Lately I am all about work work work. With this new blog project on the horizon I am excited that my second job is ending pretty shortly after the holidays. At first I was berating myself for being so freaking tired all the time, but I realized there is a difference between last year at this time and this year. This year I am working forty hours doing techy stuff and creative-ish writing (well, original, anyway. Until it is poems about unicorns and corndogs I feel I will not have achieved my dreams), plus I am working 10-15 hours a week doing sales. Last year I was cobbling together forty or so hours a week working this same holiday job, coffee, and doing a little writing on the side. My schedule was odd then–I often wasn’t expected in until eleven or later, so I could run after getting the girls off to school in the morning. I miss that. Now I leave in the dark and get home in the dark, sometimes eleven or later.

Someone asked me recently why I was doing this and I wonder. I replied it was because I need a steady exposure to degenerates and weirdos or else I feel like my brain is stagnating. Yet with all this work I barely have time or energy to write about the degenerates and weirdos, so I tell myself I am going through one of those phases where I am collecting ideas, people, and stories again. I also tell myself I am making a little extra holiday money, and getting a discount on products I like and things my friends like. This is partly true.

There is another little slice, though. I have this nagging voice in the back of my head that chimes in with “lazy, lazy, lazy” when I am only working one job at a max of forty hours. I was raised by a workaholic with a job and a side business who worked sixty hours a week without complaint (we were the ones who complained since this schedule made him borderline psychotic). Is he happy now? Does he sit on his pile of money and celebrate? No, apparently he is miserably unhappy and in terrible, foolish debt. My stepfather is not the most self-analytical person I have ever met, to say the least, so I wonder what he was thinking. His father did it too, and was also miserable. Why live like this? I get tastes of this life and ask myself that. Pride. The illusion of getting ahead, though life is just as short if you take weekends off or not. Ultimately, what else is there to do with yourself, if not stay busy? Why is it so hard for me to be happy when I’m happy?

I am thinking about this today because I am transitioning out of my current temporary job, though I don’t know when, exactly. On Monday my replacement came on and now I am back to looking for work in case they decide to cut me abruptly, because you never know.

P. and I were talking resumes. He is an excellent second person to look at mine most of the time. He brought up the fact that he usually drops the “library” from his “library and information science” degree on his resume now. We argued about this one a bit. I felt as if he was implying I should drop it too. Some people say leaving the l-word on hurts your chances of getting employed in a tech capacity. Others say that people recognize that librarians receive a considerable amount of tech training anyway, and the field is attracting people who have the skills and interest coming in.

It stung a little, and I wasn’t sure why. I am always careful to tell people that while I am a librarian by training, I have never worked as one. Why is it so easy for him to drop it, and not me? I offended him back by saying I was not ready to let go of the idea that I had a professional degree, which lead to more discussion about what IS an information scientist, and could you tell that to people and they would just get it? No. People have a picture of what a librarian is. The profession is almost as old as books. There are professional organizations and guilds for librarians, OK, I countered. He rattled off a bunch of organizations that are specifically for IS folks.

We did not come to any real conclusions except to say that librarianship is gold leaf you can lay over your tech skills, I guess, and some people hate that Rococo shit. Where is librarianship? Is it stuck in a crack in Plato’s cave somewhere?

8 thoughts on ““The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.”

  1. Librarianship is still very much around, I think, but there aren’t nearly as many job opportunities in “pure” librarianship as there are in information science. What you say about librarianship being a more established profession is true, but I think that this goes both ways – sometimes it has a negative effect because librarianship has a stuffy, old-fashioned image. That’s not really fair at all considering how much most librarians rely on information technology these days, but unfortunately a lot of people still think of them as people who sit among vast stacks of dusty books and glare at anyone who makes a sound. Information science, on the other hand, is associated with recent advances in communications technology and systems, and has a general reputation of being advanced and up to date. Like you said, though, that is only if people know something about what information science is in the first place.

    (I got a LIS degree with a concentration in archives and I have ended up working in one of the classic traditional librarianship fields – cataloging, albeit largely for rare documents in a historical archive.)

    I’ve never been a workaholic – I’m much more someone who likes to sit back, take their time, “smell the roses”, etc., but I often feel guilty for NOT being more driven, and I wonder if I am somehow wasting much of my life. Then again, I am capable of feeling guilty for almost anything.

  2. It’s amazing how much stuff we pick up from our parents and continue passing down the line. It isn’t just recipes, quilts and holiday traditions that we walk away with – it’s the fucked up stuff that is hard to break away from.

    Dope link to Atmosphere. I liked this song, but didn’t know the name or artist before.

  3. I love ‘stuck in Plato’s crack.’ I dunno about librarianship but the job market is weird.

    It is interesting to read your post because I was working 60 or more hours a week and dying from exhaustion and then all the sudden I became SO LAZY. Because I sort of could. And what I am doing is spending time with my kid. So how bad is that? She is happy. But I can’t be happy because when I’m not working I am anxious and guilty. And yeah, what the hell is that about?

    There is a lot to do if not busy, I think. There is reading and hanging and having friends and sleeping in the bed with your kid while she watches DVDs of Fraggle Rock, like I did today.

    The weird thing is that the relative I have who makes the most money works the least. He’s just very effective and good at something that makes him a lot of money–when he works, he works. When he doesn’t, he just goes to the gym to take a steam bath or watches TV. So there’s also that–the whole super efficient work thing. That’s where I want to go. Hah!

  4. Why not change “library” to “archival and information science” in your resume? It’s both true and more broadly marketable. I’m just sayin’.

    Lo! there on the hillside–
    Gamboling in muted shine,
    A unicorn scarfs a corndog
    Whilst I continue to pine…

    Somehow, I just don’t feel fulfilled…

  5. “Ultimately, what else is there to do with yourself, if not stay busy?”

    Sit back, relax, spend time with friends and loved ones and enjoy life.

    I have worked 60hr weeks, 70hr weeks and even 80hr weeks. I have worked seven days a week for months in a row. Recently I reclaimed my weekends and have even started working a 40hr/week job. I couldn’t be happier because I now have the time to do what I want with the people I enjoy.

  6. I think people, in general, are standing back and redefining happiness in a way that is MUCH different from what it was even 10 or 15 years ago. There is a paradigm shift on what it takes to be happy, and it has a lot to do with downsizing. People are really seeing that less is more. Less work hours, less materialistic, less money, less additives.

    Is it the economy? Or are people asking themselves, “Hey, I was sold a bunch of horseshit!” What’s the point of working all these hours, having these advanced degrees, making this much money if I don’t get to see my kids grow up, shuffle through a couple of marriages, renew my prescriptions, exhausted.

    I have my heart set on a farm somewhere.

Comments are closed.