Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Euro-Tribers: The Quality of Your Work/Play Life?

by whataboutbob Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 07:28:38 AM EST

As the issue of work and play is an area I am trying to get some perspective on for myself, it dawned on me that it would be very interesting to hear what the rest of you in the European Tribune community are doing with your daily lives. I am particularly interested in anything you can say about the the quality of your work and play life.

Here are some questions I will pose, and you can choose to any of these that you care to answer...

*    What is your work?
*    Do you look forward to going to work each day?
*    Or, are there certain aspects of your work that you love, but there are other aspects of work that aren't so fun and impact in a negative way the work you like?
*    Do you wish you could do more of what you like?
*    What are the main stresses of your work?
*    Are you feeling burned out by work? (And if so, why do you think?)
*    Do you feel fortunate that you have the job or career that you do?
*    How are your relations with peers, or with bosses, or employees?

Anything else you care to say about your work?

And/or...what about the play/fun part of your life?

*    What do you like to do for fun?
*    Is the fun/play part of your life also your paid job?
*    Is this involvement really your ,,life work", and you just do your paid work to support this?
*    How much time do you get to spend doing your play/fun part?

Anything else you care to say about your fun/play life?

Anyway, I think you get my drift...I am really interested to hear about how you spend your time and what the quality of your experience is, and with as diverse a community as ETs, I think this will be very fun and interesting to learn about!

Thanks!!


Display:
I'm definitely contemplating the importance of the quality of work and play life. Having involvements you love is a good thing...and lucky too.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:09:54 AM EST
Where does the "Work/Play" concept come from? I was reminded of the cliche "I work hard and play hard", so the diary made me crack a smile.

Is "I work hard and play hard" an American thing? I haven't heard it in other languages.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:25:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably is American (sounds like it, doesn't it?). I first heard something like this back in the 70s, when they had these community games where they said something like "play hard, have fun, don't get hurt"

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 09:17:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, but I've always thought it smacked of victorian/edwardian boarding school.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree: it's hard to translate "play hard" into any language I know. Probably comes from how seriously anglophones have always taken "playing" sports. It also makes it easier in our puritanical cultures to justify "play" if we in effect make it hard work!
by Matt in NYC on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 11:31:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can say "juego duro", but if you translate it back into English you get "play rough". "I work hard and play rough" seems to me a more apt description of what most people are actually describing when they use "I work hard and play hard".

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 11:25:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is participating to ET work, or play?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:58:57 AM EST
for you it's (great) work, for me it's play, letting off steam.

i like it when you let your humour through, you crack me up!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 09:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well?

For me, play...99% of the time...though I'm certain we have all been through our times when it felt a little less playful...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 09:18:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking in here over the course of the day helps me to keep my perspective. In that sense it's probably more therapy than anything else.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 01:20:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nice one bob!

i feel especially lucky, if someone had asked med as a teenager if i might become a massage therapist, i'd have laughed...not that i knew what i wanted to become, other than a guitarist.

now i love this job...

i realised during the training, i had tapped the motherlode of satisfaction, giving of oneself.

i t permits me to play music, compose in peace, and i get paid for music too, even it's more symbolic than sustainable.

the only downside is driving to clients' houses, hotels, etc.

bad posture in cars....too much tension from traffic sometimes, especially when it's 40+ degrees, in summer, when most tourists come.

they're onn their 2 week vacation from stress, i'm humping my table upstairs and trying to project ease and cool.

some clients i know well enough to pop into the shower first.

the only thing better would be to get royalty checks in the mail from songwriting, that would be a crowning achievement, without tailoring my approach to marketing.

lotta talented folks with that dream...

meaninwhile i'll rub my way there, and eagerly await a tech alternative to the infernal combustion engine.

massage wouldn't be for everyone, but for self-centred people, like i was, even just taking a weekend course in it might open a whole world to them.

it's literally impossible to describe the quiet joy that is the hallmark of my working environment, and the pleasure in helping people in such a gentle, immediately gratifying way.

i listen to a lot of my own music driving, reviewing out-takes usually, or trying different harmonies.

i left school at 16 and had no formal training in anything, did 5$ p. hour jobs till my late thirties.

picking fruit, making sarnies, schlepping organic fertiliser bags around warehouses.

i was attracted to those firelookout or mountain shepherd jobs too, but never followed through, tho' i was a dj in zermatt ski resort for a whole winter once....no cars, lotta fun there, ski-ing all day and spinning r'n'b at night.

i just loved to read....and surf.

then it was books and the ocean in hawaii, now it's blogs and websites.

i like work that permits me time off for other fulfilling activities, (like blogging, lol), and doesn't involve powergame politics.

 in and out, as simple as a service could be, as basic as dirt, and older than god.

i bow my balding noggin in awed gratitude daily for what life has wrought out of such dull clay... and there is a feeling of acceptance, knowing whatever the future holds, someone who knows how to use their hands to rub away the aches of life will always find bread and a spot by the fire.

and when i can't do that anymore i'll happily take on compost duty!

meanwhile i want to learn what you guys know, while we still have these toobs...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 09:09:28 AM EST
Melo, you definitely got the drift...thanks!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 09:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah i've been called a drifter many times.

i also happen to find driftwood beautiful.

flotsam and jetsam, everything about me...

just another piece of kelp, waiting for someone to pop the rest of my bubbles.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 11:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are very lovable, Melo ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 11:00:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
takes one to know one...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 11:43:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My job in very general :
  • reach the targets with
  • efficiency and the
  • lowest possible costs.
  • the low pay doesn't affect
  • your motivation nor your motivation to
  • motivate the co-workers.

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?
We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.

How about achieving 103%?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26,

then:

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and,

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E

11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But,

A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E

1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And,

B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T

2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

and, look how far ass kissing will take you:

A-S-S--K-I-S-S-I-N-G

1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can then conclude with mathematical certainty that:

While Hardwork and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, Bullshit and Ass Kissing will put you over the top!                




The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 10:46:49 AM EST
Huh!? You must work at the same place my wife does!

(excellent comment, Elco!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 12:41:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I love the concept of this diary! I should be writing my essay but I am still waiting for inspiration to hit, so perhaps this will help. But if not, I'm sure it won't be time wasted, since talking about the things I love in life can never be a bad thing.

In my last job I would be up early and in early so that I could get out early - 3.30/4pm and no later.  I felt that way that I had more of the day to spend on the things I enjoy, including going to the gym, seeing friends etc.
I turned up, did my work, escaped as soon as I could. Yet it wasn't the job itself I wasn't happy with but the organisation I worked for. It didn't value me, so I didn't value it.

Now in this job, I quite like to take it easy getting ready for work and I saunter in, by whichever mode I feel like using. I walk or cycle, or sometimes hop on a local train or a bendy bus and catch a different view, watch the people wandering by, stop at the fruit stall to stock up for the day.  I chat to whoever is in the office as I walk in, switch my computer on and see what's what for the day.  I don't mind that I leave at 5 or maybe 6. On occasion much later but I keep it to a minimum.

I use my flexi and I take my leave and I try to leave my work at work, even though it tempts me to take it home at times.

I love my job. I work with talented people who genuinely care about their work, who share their knowledge and expertise. I work with people across many different organisations, within the trade union movement and the equality movement, and within politics as well. One of my key strengths is my ability to think strategically and spot opportunities for joint working, for targetting gaps and needs and improving the capacity and knowledge of organisations in Wales.

I organise training and events, develop resources, run campaigns and do research, develop good practice - it's a hugely diverse job and suits me well since my boredom threshold is hideously low.  It caters to my love of working with different people, learning new things, making things happen, having a positive impact on people's lives, influencing national policy direction, promoting equality... being a social research and data anorak. I get to travel across this beautiful country and see the contrasts, always learning. I will never stop learning.

The stress occurs with the way that a whole load of stuff suddenly needs to happen at once. Usually coinciding with a whole load of stuff going on outside work. But it is usually very manageable, although there is nobody to cover for me if I am ill, since I manage the project I work on.

I had a previous job (an elected role that I held) which was 24/7. In the year of my term of office, I was off sick for 3 days, on holiday for 10 days and had no more than 3 work-free weekends. I rarely worked less than a 60 hour week. My job was my life and when I left, I felt as though I'd lost everything. I had nothing that I'd kept for myself, I'd given everything.  I have no idea how I survived the pressures of that year and much as I loved the job, I would never put myself through it again. I'm acutely aware of the importance of work-life balance now. I'm glad I learnt the lesson young.

So I decided to develop my interests and hobbies and have a life back again doing things I love.

So I started ice hockey, I picked up creative writing again, I started going to the gym, I got a bike again, I started volunteering with young people, I learnt how to do stencil art, became obsessed with graffiti, developed my photography skills, went out more with friends, made new friends and went out with them too, travelled more, started a social policy degree, continued procrastinating on my PhD and learnt to fill my life with things I love, my job being one but with plenty more outside of work so that I always have something to look forward to doing and someone to look forward to seeing.

I look back 10 years to when I left home and started Uni.  I didn't have a clue who I was or where I would go, I didn't think anyone would like me, I didn't think I would succeed with anything.  I'm glad life has taken me to rock bottom on more than one occasion because it has made me who I am today. I have unfaltering self-belief now.

I like who I am and I love my life.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 03:35:23 PM EST
<wow!> Thank you for this!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:49:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh...and good on you!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cheers! I was inspired by your entry!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 04:54:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you, my dear, are an inspiration....

wow

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:07:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As are you, Melo!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:39:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
*    What is your work?
I'm running part of a computer network in a small rural university, mainly concentrating on email and security
  •    Do you look forward to going to work each day?
  •    Or, are there certain aspects of your work that you love, but there are other aspects of work that aren't so fun and impact in a negative way the work you like?
That depends, by preference I'm somewhat nocturnal and I do tend to find that work interferes with my prefered day/night cycle. (you may have noticed that I'm usually still wide awake at 2 in the morning)  I do like the challenge, if things are going wrong, although the day to day can be somewhat dull if i'm not in the right mood.  Overall though my Job is excellent, I get reasonably well paid for messing about with computers, and can walk out of my office into the middle of the countryside. What more could you want? There's relatively little heavy lifting and I get to work at mostly my own pace.
*    Do you wish you could do more of what you like?
Well it is Eight hours nine and a half hours a day taken from me, that could be spent meditating, making music, messing around on the internet, vanquishing Cybernetic hordes, writing a novel, maybe even finally getting round to writing a diary on here ;) I don't get to visit my friends half as often as I would like either.
*    What are the main stresses of your work?
Students, Academics, nothing major. I'm somewhat difficult to stress.
*    Are you feeling burned out by work? (And if so, why do you think?)
Not particularly today
*    Do you feel fortunate that you have the job or career that you do?
Yes
*    How are your relations with peers, or with bosses, or employees?
Fine, we're a fairly close knit team, to the extent that we can shout at each other and storm off, and everything will be over the next day.
Anything else you care to say about your work?
And/or...what about the play/fun part of your life?
*    What do you like to do for fun?
I play anything, I read, I'm just  getting back into being musical for the first time for about 30 years. I mess about on the internet
*    Is the fun/play part of your life also your paid job?
Well messing about on the internet is a portion of my job, but most things I do wouldn't make me any money.
*    Is this involvement really your,"life work", and you just do your paid work to support this?
Well paid work puts food on the table, a roof over my head, and feeds the cat, but all in all I was probably more content when I was unemployed.
*    How much time do you get to spend doing your play/fun part?probably about six hours a day


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 06:57:48 PM EST
excellent!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:03:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I think being a member of the "EuroTribe" has appeal.

Provided it's not all work and no play.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:04:22 PM EST
well it's mostly fun, but you do have to do your bit when we're hunting Mammoth.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 08:17:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A 20 year career at a global Illuminati company in an R&D capacity as an engineer.  We have consistently maintained a diverse group who's contributions drive real innovation.  Our boss is top notch, we could ask for nothing better.  I love my job.  I'm thankful to have worked there and my skills gained in real science keep me grounded and sane in today's world.

The bad parts.  Well, how about the deliberate destruction of it all.  By this I mean the latest round of American business practices each designed to "enhance productivity" but in reality end up turning out to be deviously, and I mean devious to the point of being Satanically inspired, outright destructive. Our innovation increasingly stifled by galactically retarded business pablum.

Fun.  Nature, animals, most recently horses and camping deep in the backwoods.  We get so absorbed by modern technology we loose that connection to the earth.  Pieces of hardware come and go yet these are not the moments I will remember.
Watching two bull moose lock horns in the woods with my second daughter.   They fought for about twenty minutes and we forgot the videocamera.
Swimming on a hot summer night in a rushing mountain stream.  Spending the afternoon with the horses and getting him into a nice trot, canter and realizing my riding skills and bond with an animal growing.  At night, a  cookout with the family and my new seven month old grandson.

Why political boards?  I see far to many parasites in the world, eager to exploit others using "information" in this "information age" in evil destructive ways.  If I can shed some light on this, influence even a few people that might be another day the Biblical Apocalypse gets put off.

by Lasthorseman on Fri Apr 20th, 2007 at 10:03:45 PM EST
  What is your work?

I'm a Federal public servant. More specifically, I'm an outposted staff member attached to a 'natural resource management' funding program called the Natural Heritage Trust, which is jointly administered by the Departments of Environment & Water and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

I have a unique bureaucratic position in that I'm field-posted, and I am a Facilitator - my role is to represent the Australian Government on water policy within a team where others represent biodiversity, sustainable production and coastal & marine policy. We engage stakeholders ranging from state and local government to industry, community groups etc.

*    Do you look forward to going to work each day?
no easy answer. AS far as working conditions go in Australia, mine are some of the best. I am well paid, particularly by my state's standards, have good leave conditions, superannuation etc. My job is also varied, my boss is remotely based and is great to boot, as is the rest of my small team, overall. The downside is representing a despicable government that despite all the lip service (to the tune of billions) is still actively undermining efforts to make Australia environmentally sustainable. I see my role as - someone has to work with current programs and policy and get the best possible outcomes from them.

The other aspect is I'm afraid I am one of those people who resents having to give 40+ hours a week to a job that has ultimately little relevance to being human. I would much prefer to be on my property cultivating a large organic veggie garden and living in tune with the earth, rather than being driven by this vast artificial construct called western consumer capitalism culture.

Schizophrenically, I'm also seriously contemplating pursuing a political career.

*    Do you wish you could do more of what you like?

see above. My job itself also could be, with a better government, vastly more meaningful.

*    What are the main stresses of your work?

hiding the fact that I'm Green; being contaminated by the worst choices this government makes, even if I am public service. Having to shake hands as a lesbian green feminist with one of my Ministers, a rabid fundamentalist Christian conservative who would fit well in with Bush's set. Also my position is a contract position, so the lack of permanency, even though I've been rolled onto new contracts, is not fun.

*    Are you feeling burned out by work? (And if so, why do you think?)

Nowhere near as badly as other jobs I've had - certainly don't miss working in a large consultancy, that became hell in 5 years. This job's workload is as much up to me to set as my superiors; it is unique in that because it's about engaging people, you could go on forever, so part of the skill is setting your limit. As I did mentally and physically burn out at only 26, I learnt that lesson and now am very strict about going home at a decent hour, etc.

Mentally though, if I couldn't pour effort into the Greens I'd be dead inside by now. But I get incredibly frustrated about not being able to do the meaningful stuff full-time.

*    Do you feel fortunate that you have the job or career that you do?

hell yes. I am incredibly privileged, and never forget it.

*    How are your relations with peers, or with bosses, or employees?

overall excellent.

Anything else you care to say about your work?

I think I've been verbose enough!

*    What do you like to do for fun?

movies, reading, music, veggie gardening, bushwalking (hiking to you European types ;-) ), dinner with friends, trips away, although we can't afford overseas travel at this point, so I often wonder if my travelling days are over. Talking politics and being active in a political organisation also takes a considerable part of my time, and varies between incredibly stressful to dull, to intensely exciting and rewarding.

*    Is the fun/play part of your life also your paid job?

definitely not, although my job does provide some very rewarding moments.

*    Is this involvement really your ,,life work", and you just do your paid work to support this?

the Greens may well be. My paid job doesn't support it substantially except that it supplies the funds for concferences and that sort of thing. Obviously it also funds books, music etc.

*    How much time do you get to spend doing your play/fun part?

Not enough! My dream in this current job would be to work 4 days a week. Of course if I do decide to follow a career as a politician, I can kiss that notion goodbye, so I do wonder at myself. The basic thing is if I'm passionate about something, the time commitment is far less daunting.

Anything else you care to say about your fun/play life?

Western civilisation is screwed up so badly when it comes to work-life balance, and meaningful work. I feel my energy is often so sapped I don't play as much as I want to, or feel I should - just blob.

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:59:58 AM EST
Very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to elaborate. And please keep us in the loop if you decide to run for office!! (we already have at least one of in office, in Germany...jandesm!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:05:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should be clear I'm talking a 5 year strategy here. I'm only 32!

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow
by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:11:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You asked for it.

;)

In the spirit of your research project:

*    What is your work?

I train people how to use the computerised administration system in an NHS trust (= hospitals plus some extras.)  This has a basic cycle of: Here come(s) the new bit(s); We learn the new bit(s); We show (some of the staff) how to use the new bit(s).  Due to staff turnover there are also the old bits to teach to the new staff.  Training sessions typically last about three hours, I do two a day, though at the moment we are running special one hour sessions for a new bit, and because everyone needs to know quickly we're pushing through five of those a day.

*    Do you look forward to going to work each day?

No, but I don't mind going.  Preferably, I wouldn't do a job which involves me having to turn up every day, but see below.

*    Or, are there certain aspects of your work that you love, but there are other aspects of work that aren't so fun and impact in a negative way the work you like?

The fun part of my job is training the staff.  We have a laugh, we break the bits down into manageable chunks so it's rare (very very rare) for someone to finish training and not to have "got it", so we have a laugh and they learn something, and I get to meet them all.  Because of the modular nature (learning all the bits), I often see the same people over a period of time--in 3 hour bursts.  A sober pub with regulars and many newcomers...that kinda thing.

*    Do you wish you could do more of what you like?

Weeell, I could do more of what I like right now.  It's more about energy levels--I'd like to have more bounce and curve in my energies.  I tend to intensity and enthusiasm, peaks of activity followed by valleys...and often different peaks...'tis hard to find a rhythm that balances...but it is something I'm working on.

*    What are the main stresses of your work?

Crap managers.

*    Are you feeling burned out by work? (And if so, why do you think?)

Nope.  I work a three-day week.  However, this makes me take less holidays (I get four days off a week!) and over the months this builds up (it can sneak up because it's slow moving.)

*    Do you feel fortunate that you have the job or career that you do?

I'd say that I am happy (enough) (for now--we're about halfway through the kids' cycle, our daughter is nine, and work "steadiness" is an asset, at least for me, during this period because it means work doesn't dominate)...so I'm happy, for now, doing what I do for money for three days a week.

*    How are your relations with peers, or with bosses, or employees?

Peers--good to great.  Direct manager--great.  Employees (my trainees): great.

*    What do you like to do for fun?

Music, cook, go dahn the pub, walk in the hills, along the beach, read (the internet has taken the place of books.)  As I said, I'm an enthusiast and so I often get crushes on things.  Sometimes they last, sometimes they don't.  Right now Gaianne has me working out the night sky.  Migeru put me onto Go.  These two will, I think, be staying with me.  Oh, and just living in the (recently enlarged) flat is fun in that I just mostly enjoy being home (as opposed to going to work.)

*    Is the fun/play part of your life also your paid job?

I try and place as much fun/play into my paid job as I can, given that the raw materials (bits of a computerised administration system) are not intriniscally fun or playful.

*    Is this involvement really your ,,life work", and you just do your paid work to support this?

I only do my paid work to support my non-paid activities.  If I could do them (this would include eating, drinking, going dahn the pub, going walking etc...living in the flat...)...if I could do them without working, I would leave my job and ponder new directions.

*    How much time do you get to spend doing your play/fun part?

I work for about six hours a day, but have to be at work about eight hours, and that's from Monday to Wednesday.  The rest, I try and make as fun and playful as I can.

There you go!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:46:20 AM EST
RG!!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:08:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well i'm Jealous of the three day week ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what. a. great. thread....

what a diverse group of peeps...

viva internet!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:08:53 AM EST
I'm self-employed and work at home, and my work life entails taking mainly indifferently written German texts and transforming them into polished English. Sometimes, when the texts in question are actually about something (e.g. technical documentation, annual reports), my work provides some fascinating insights; on the other hand, a certain amount of my work involves texts intended not so much convey information as to create the spurious impression that they contain information, or that the information is other than misleading or banal - i.e. marketing texts, news releases or (this week's gag-me-with-a-spoon) management training seminar materials. To that extent, cynicism is probably my greatest occupational hazard.

I don't dislike my work (occasional deadline terror aside). I'm good at what I do, I have the satisfaction of a job well done, and what feedback I get is almost always positive. But the work no longer challenges. I could walk away from it with no regrets. (As a matter of fact, I did bail at one point; I was doing something entirely different for a while, but unfortunately that company chose to commit suicide by management.)

From my perspective the most difficult thing to deal with is not the workload (although it can be pretty consuming) but the fact that virtually all the human interaction in my work is electronically mediated. I have never actually met most of my clients. This makes the whole business seem rather abstract at times, which I don't think is ultimately good.

I have to say, though, that my peers - the other freelance translators with whom I have contact - are as wonderful a wonderful group of people as one could ever hope to meet, interesting, interested and open.

Work-life balance is something I have to wrestle with seriously at the moment. Like many self-employed persons, I am often tempted to take on as much work as I can get (as long as the price is right). At the moment the market is about as hot as I've ever seen it. There are lots of things I would rather by doing right now - scratch that, right this minute I'd like to be cycling - or maybe rollerblading - but I am seriously oversold through the end of the month.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:18:59 AM EST
Ok, another freelancer translator experience, not so diffferent than yours, dvx.

·    What is your work?

·    I'm a literary translator, from English to Spanish. I translate mainly fiction, but I've also translated some essays.  Most important authors I've translated are: Nadine Gordimer, William Somerset Maugham, James Ellroy, Edward Rutherfurd.
*    Do you look forward to going to work each day?
·    I don't need to go anywhere. I work from home. I've started 22 years ago with an Olivetti typewriter, so now, with computers, word processors and Internet, I feel like I've been working in two different ages.  And this new age is kind a happy one for my work. I think it is something I envisioned in the eighties when I decided to become a translator, that someday in the near future I could work from everywhere I wanted, and I've already done so, combining long travels while translating with my laptop. Like this I've got to see California and live there for a couple of months while translating James Ellroy or renting a room to translate in an out of season Goa and then keep the laptop safe somewhere and start moving around Rajasthan or the Himalayas. So, even if I don't look forward to starting to translate each day, it comes easy enough after I've checked the news, email, ET, and so on ;-)

    Or, are there certain aspects of your work that you love, but there are other aspects of work that aren't so fun and impact in a negative way the work you like?

·    I love many aspects of my work: the freedom of movements it gives me,  the self -discipline I've had to develop as it is very useful in all other areas of life,  the creativity angle...

·    There are few aspects that aren't fun at all, and sometimes I forget them, bu there is a very recent experience so I think I will vent about it. I've just discover that on the back cover of a book I've devoted 36 hours/ week during 12 weeks (about 300.000 words), someone at the publisher house has made a very ugly and big orthographical mistake just in the last sentence of all.  I'm sure that many people who is deciding if they want to buy the book will be put off by that error. If there is something like this on the back cover, they will not trust in the quality of what they will find inside.

*    Do you wish you could do more of what you like?
I think I've got a good balance.

*    What are the main stresses of your work?
·   
The deadlines, especially when something out of your control happens in the last days. I mean if it happens at the beginning, you always have time to catch up.
  Do you feel fortunate that you have the job or career that you do?
Absolutely.
*    How are your relations with peers, or with bosses, or employees?
My relation with colleagues is through my professional association mailing list and I meet the ones from Barcelona for dinner 3-4 times a year. They are really nice people and the relation and the flow of information are great. I've have no bosses no employees, only clients. 95% are based in Barcelona, so I meet with them and comment every time I start/finish a book.

What do you like to do for fun?
 Going out with friends, photography, cooking, movies, travelling, swimming...  

by amanda2006 on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:34:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. We've been doing this for about the same length of time then. I too started with a typewriter, but acquired a computer shortly after. (I never did enough work on the typewriter to earn back what it cost me.)

You must be at the top of your game with authors like that.

Are you going to be at the meet-up?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:25:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, these four I've mentioned are the best, the others are just the usual crime novels or historical fiction or Feng Shui manuals that nobody knows or cares about. It would have been much better for the planet if nobody had ever written 90 per cent of them in the first place, much less translated them to Spanish, but the market rules and the market is hot. (70.000 new titles in Spain in 2006).

On the other hand, a first class author is not a guarantee of selling success, with Da Vinci Code, Patricia Cornwell and the likes. And a great author requires much more work and the difference in terms of money is small. It's like a lottery, somehow.

I don't know if I will be in the Paris meet up. I've booked a quick trip to Amsterdam for the end of May and I'm afraid I will not be able to get another three or four days break for middle June and I don't like the idea of going only for the lunch, as I've not been in Paris since... really long ago.
 

by amanda2006 on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 12:05:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I guess that's the advantage of technical/commercial translation. Plus, in my few encounters with publishing houses (not a representative sample, admittedly) have always left me wondering about their professionalism.

Oh well. Have fun in A-dam!

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 01:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a French speaker.
I've been reading Ellroy in English.
Always wondered - How you translate it.
So many sentences. So short.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:25:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you are right. It is very hard and sometimes it can be very frustrating. You have to reach a compromise between content and form, as you would do with poetry. You have to transmit all the information that it is contained there, all the different layers of meaning, and at the same time you need to respect the form, sometimes with all his alliterations, pimps, punks, prostitutes panty-sniffers and so on. "The Cold Six Thousand" was especially hard because of the telegraphic style. Latin languages need more words to express the same idea. Ellroy is my "bête noir", a real challenge.
by amanda2006 on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 03:34:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, could it be that someone (else) is working against a deadline on a Sunday morning? ;-)

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 04:39:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 09:52:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dvx & Amanda, my wife just passsed the Cambridge English test...and I wonder if you would be willing to give her any advice as to how she could get started in the document translation field? How does someone first make contacts? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 09:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, the first question is, what does she want to translate, exactly? "Documents" covers a lot of ground.

If she has specialized knowledge from a previous line of work, that might be a starting point for cold-calling (soul-searing as that is).

For commercial and/or technical work, she might want to consider putting her profile up on proz.com. That will be agency work (= not particularly well-paid), but that would at least be a way to build experience. Plus that site has a killer terminology resource. :-)

Also, she should look around for a local translator "Stammtisch". Translators are very helpful to newbies (and can often pass on jobs at better terms than agencies!!).

But I guess I have to come back to my first question: what exactly does she want to translate. They answer is not written in stone (and will change over time), but the more differentiated an answer she can give to the question "What areas do you work in?", the more she will be seen by prospective clients as being knowledgeable.

OTOH, if she wants to do literature, the foregoing  might well be absolutely useless (as I am almost totally clueless in that sector).

And she's welcome to email me if she has any questions.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 02:29:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks dvx, I will be in touch this week...appreciate it!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For some reason, this strange article reminded me of this thread.

Calculating Paradise
Beach Economics

By Laura Blumenfeld
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 21, 2007; Page D01

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos -- The plane came from the north and landed near warm sand. Rachel Friedberg, a Brown University economist, stepped out, holding her black wool pea coat, squinting.

"Skin cancer. Dehydration. Sunstroke," she muttered. "Sand sticking to your body." The New England professor had arrived for vacation in Turks and Caicos, one of the Caribbean's fastest-growing economies. "Why would people on purpose, on purpose, go where the land ends, and stare at undifferentiated nothingness? Think of the opportunity cost of that time."

Lucid blue water makes most travelers forget about work. But for Friedberg, economics infuses everything: the equilibrium price of conch shells; the asset-value implications of Bruce Willis's beach compound; the labor market impact of a Filipino, rather than a Bahamian, massage therapist digging her oiled thumbs into Friedberg's sacrum.

For the constant economist, Turks and Caicos offers something more exciting than night scuba diving: a case study on the economics of hyper-growth....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:15:04 AM EST
What is your work?
I am an engineer of electronics. Presently I work on RF timing systems for particle accelerators. Specifically, high precision, wide bandwidth phase measurements. In the future it is likely that I will expand to other low level RF systems for beam instrumentation. I'm attached to the CLIC study.

Do you look forward to going to work each day?
Yes, indeed I do! When I finished my university degrees in 2003 the tech market was in a bit of a downer. I had just finished six mad years of working/playing hard, hard, hard, and never sleeping enough. Some time off was appreciated, and I slept for about 2 months... Then something funny happened to me. I would wake up in the morning full of energy! Shit, that had never happened to me before. But then there was the other side. I didn't know what to do with myself all day. I found myself in a vacuum after a long time of overload. (Very stressful overload, but I loved it. A lot. Working right at the very limit that I could endure, sometimes a bit over, it was very exciting, and quite enjoyable...) Having nothing to do, on the other hand, made me very tense. I mean, what does one do with all those hours every day? I designed a lot of silly circuits that I never built then, and wrote a whole lot more silly code. But I much prefer to have a job, to have something to do each day, to occupy that time.

Or, are there certain aspects of your work that you love, but there are other aspects of work that aren't so fun and impact in a negative way the work you like?
I like to design things. Debugging is usually fun for quite a while, but at some point I reach start feeling done with a project before it is finished. Those last 10% are oh so hard. I also don't like very much having to write about my projects. Bleh. But, being in quasi-academia, I have to publish my work.

Do you wish you could do more of what you like?
No, not really.

What are the main stresses of your work?
Too many variables, and none of them are constant... Having to interpret measurement data. Sometimes it is hard to tell what it is saying. To measure something with great precision, it is not all together clear what one is doing. There is not a clear reference for the current system, as in it is not entirely clear how one would tell that it does in fact measure up to specifications. I do it in bits, measuring various parameters while attempting to hold the others constants, and hoping that they then combine to give the overall performance required. But the basic problem is there, I am supposed to build a system that is 'better' than anything we can buy, and it is impossible to generate well known input signals, so, in bits, yeah, I verify performance, but there is no overall test to confirm the full function...

Are you feeling burned out by work? (And if so, why do you think?)
Burnt out? What is this? I don't understand...

Do you feel fortunate that you have the job or career that you do?
God, yes. Always.

How are your relations with peers, or with bosses, or employees?
I love them! They are very awesome, always fun to talk to. They come from all over Europe, and some from Russia. It is great fun to have some different perspectives in one place. I'm always bugging people to explain the politics of their home nations. Sometimes they do.

What do you like to do for fun?
Having conversations with people! People are awesome, I love them! Much, much cooler than circuits or code when it comes down to it... Other than that: Write code? Design circuits? Read books and internet. In the winter, snowboarding. In general, I don't really like to go places or do things...

Is the fun/play part of your life also your paid job?
Yeah, some of it.

Is this involvement really your ,,life work", and you just do your paid work to support this?
Nope, I do my paid work, 'cause what else would I do? There is no real 'thing that I would like to do'. What I have is good, I am content.

How much time do you get to spend doing your play/fun part?
My life doesn't divide that way...

Anything else you care to say about your fun/play life?
I cut my hair today. It was time, it was getting long. I prefer to do it myself, since I find it much easier to just start and cut until it looks right than trying to explain to someone how to do it. I might have gotten a bit carried away, though. It is very, very short now. It just kind of happened... Don't know how... It was a fun adventure.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:28:15 AM EST
I am on leave from my work and am playing at being a full-time student now. I was a systems administrator at a large university. I took care of the university e-mail system, the usenet news system, and did all kinds of fiddlig with Unix servers and networks.

I enjoyed many parts of my work. The people I worked with are wonderful. There are so many brilliant, nice, interesting people there. Of course not all of them are like that, but definitely most. I consider myself very lucky with that. Also, I loved solving technical problems and seeing plans realised - I was a group leader so I had some responsibility over planning and budgeting.

What I did not like was the stress. There were always too few people working at the university IT department. It's hardly competitive when it comes to salary and benefits. On the other hand, the work environment was very free. If you did your job and attended compulsory meetings, it did not matter if you arrived at 11 in the morning. Nobody was watching over you. But this freedom had a flip side; you were also supposed - not officially but anyway - to take care of problems whenever they appeared, whether it be one pm on a work day or three am on a Sunday. And because email is one of the most important IT services, I was supposed to get problems fixed ASAP. There was just not enough people to divide the responsibility. I ended up working quite a few nights and weekends. Now, I was never told by the boss to go and fix stuff at night, but it was always expected and I always did it. I rarely got overtime pay for it. I'd just mark the hours and take as many hours of vacation time. If I had the time and was not too busy..

The late nights and the occasional 24-hour workdays contributed to the stress, but I think that the feeling of responsibility stressed me more. I sometimes thought that I should have stayed at a lower level, without any managerial responsibility. But then, I also loved being part of the decision-making and having an effect on how we did things.

Writing this has made me realise how much I miss work at the moment.. I am now on a two-year leave from my job. My husband is a post-doc in Holland now so we live here. We will soon have to decide if we go back to Finland this summer or stay here for a while longer. I expect that the university will not let me lengthen my leave, so if we stay, I'll probably lose the job. My husband has been offered a short continuation contract and he is looking for research grants. For him, it would be better to stay here. For me, career-wise, it would be better to return. It's a tough decision.

Two things which make the decision even tougher is that I don't know how career-oriented I really want to be, and that I never planned to stay in the IT sector indefinitely. Originally I was supposed to work as a part-time helpdesk person to finance my studies (I did not want to take out student loans). Well, pretty soon it became a full-time job, and then I went from helpdesk to admin, and just stayed there for eight years. I started my studies as a computer science / maths student, but changed quite quickly to history, which I have been studying now. I find it much more interesting, but of course the job opportunities just are not the same..

What I do for fun: I take photographs. I have been trying to get into photography for a long while. I've applied to a photography school a couple of times, both in Finland and here, and gotten rejected. I'm applying again this spring. I would love it if photography could be even a part-time work for me. If not, I will surely continue to keep it as my main hobby.

I guess my biggest problem is that I have been waiting for a sort of epiphany, a revelation, a grand idea of what to do with my time & life. I still don't know. I am interested in so many things, and they are not that compatible. I sometimes envy my husband, who decided early on that he wants to be a theoretical physicist, and really enjoys being one now. That kind of clarity would be nice.

I'm sorry that this became so long. :-) I guess I've been thinking about these things a lot lately.

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--

by tzt (tzt) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 11:27:36 AM EST
No apology please! It is very interesting to hear your process! Thank you!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 02:43:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Similar to you tzt, I'm wrestling with my work process too, that involves living in a new country requiring different work skills. This sort of situation can be challenging, as I am learning. But, what can we do? Keep on moving forward...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 02:55:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading this It reminded me of the stress when things go wrong with email, Although as I mentioned above, that is the point when my computer skills really come alive. Reading how you only started part time and it all got out of control, I strated with a job that only was meant to last 4 weeks. nearly eight years later, I'm still doing a vastly expanded job.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:27:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading this It reminded me of the stress when things go wrong with email, Although as I mentioned above, that is the point when my computer skills really come alive.

Yeah, I know what you mean. The userbase for the system I admin'd was a bit over 40.000 people and when something went wrong, it seemed they all wanted to call me and yell at me. But it was really nice to tinker with the system and make it better..

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:48:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
only a tenth of the size of your userbase, but when I started that meant there were only two technical staff to do everything, we now have 4 tech staff and a manager to keep meetings off our backs.

Being in Academia it does mean that you have the odd person who apparently knows more than you about how email systems work, because they have a PhD in Medieval history, (and no experience in computers, naturally)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 08:05:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
*    What is your work?

Graduate student.  

Previously, cog in evil Swiss corporation I commonly call the Devil in retrospect.  (The Devil paid really well.)  Nothing is more soul sucking than working in the medical industry.  Hence the joy of returning to school.  The look on the HR reps face in the exit interview, priceless.  

*    Do you look forward to going to work each day?

I don't really consider it work.  I do (little) research, mostly I just ponder what I will do my dissertation in, and hope to understand  mixed signals of my lady friend.  So it goes.

*    Or, are there certain aspects of your work that you love, but there are other aspects of work that aren't so fun and impact in a negative way the work you like?

I work with my friends. My department is the most diverse in the nation, with the notable exception of actual people from the state I'm in.  Ironically, I'm the minority.

*    Do you wish you could do more of what you like?

On those days I sleep.

*    What are the main stresses of your work?

Gauss-Markov conditions.  Germans and Russians together, clearly a conspiracy to confuse me.

*    Are you feeling burned out by work? (And if so, why do you think?)

I write, yet not here.  You guys are much neicer than my professors.  

*    Do you feel fortunate that you have the job or career that you do?

Sometimes, the Devil paid much higher.

*    How are your relations with peers, or with bosses, or employees?

I don't know if I'll have funding next year.  I only recently found out that they yank funding for in state students first, evenly though we make up less than 10% of the TAs. Always nice to prove that even white men can be discrimated against because of where they come from.  

I'm much happier now that I'm back in school, absent the frustration of the indeterminate lady friend, no longer working for the Devil is a relief.  Seriously, when you realize that you actions lead to people living or dying (and have to review the work of your overworked coworkers, and point out to management that cutting talk time gets people killed so they can make more cash) is stressful.  

Poor graduate life?  At least know one dies if I make a mistake.    

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:58:08 PM EST
I'd like to preface my response with my general attitudes towards work and career in general.  Ever since I was a young child, I've had a deep antipathy towards the notion of the all-important and all-consuming career.  From about age 6 or so, there was nothing that I wanted to "be" when I grew up.  I thought the question itself was pretty stupid.  I've never wanted to be my work, and have always thought the notion of deriving satisfaction from one's work was a cruel joke, and the very notion of "career" a tool of class reproduction at best, and false consciousness at worst.  Obviously, I learned how to describe all this later, but I nonetheless think this a fairly reasonable description of my attitudes at the time.  I was an angry, cynical, and spiteful child.

Nonetheless, I ended up starting college at 12, and stumbled into an endless grad school/academic career.  The internal contradictions between that environment and my deep antipathy towards careerism eventually became too great for even heroic levels of willpower and self-denial to manage.  About 4 years ago I snapped, and quit grad school, and have been wandering around aimlessly ever since.

I've had discussions with people on these topics, many times, and am always kind of surprised that people don't agree with me.  Even reading the responses here, I have trouble understanding, at a gut level, the notion of finding real and abiding satisfaction in a career.  Part of me thinks that people who enjoy their jobs are just lucky, and that one can't reason from the lucky few to the suffering masses, whom I am certain I will someday join.  Part of me thinks that I'm just wrong about everything, even if I can't understand why.

I also find myself in yet another state of cognitive dissonance, as I sort of enjoy my current employment.  I teach English to Japanese schoolchildren.  My job is really quite simple.  I spend little time in preparation, no time in evaluation, and no time in meetings.  I get paid a fairly reasonable salary, have some of my expenses covered by my employer, and am fairly well taken care of.  The teaching is fun, the kids are nice, and I get along well with my other teachers.  Furthermore, a lot of the time at work I have nothing to do, and am free to do more or less whatever I want.  In many ways, it's like a dream job - I get paid to do next to nothing.

Because it's so nice, I can't bring myself to think of it as "work," because I know in my gut that work is some horrible, miserable, soul-destroying thing.  Furthermore, I feel really uncomfortable with the thought of staying on in this job past the current extension of my contract, becasue nothing this good can be "Real," and somehow it's important to get a "real" job and do "important" and "useful" things.  Being young, I had a few years to waste doing something like this, essentially being played to socialize and travel and play computer games.  Now that I'm getting on in years, I should get a "real" job, one with a "future," etc, etc, etc.

My main frustrations currently are, one, that I don't know where I'm going or what I'm doing with my life, and somehow feel that I should.  Two, that I'm really not allowed to do as much at my job as I could, or be nearly as effective a teacher as I could, due to the structure of the Japanese educational system as a whole.  Three, I seem to have exactly what I always wanted, but I can't stop thinking that enjoying it is funamentally immoral on some deep level.  My fourth main frustration is that I'm more or less permenantly single, and thus quite literally frustrated, but that's a somewhat different issue entirely.

I realize that I'm fairly screwed up.  Any suggestions?  :-)

by Zwackus on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 04:13:42 AM EST
My very very very humble suggestion:

Put together:

I've...always thought the notion of deriving satisfaction from one's work was a cruel joke, and the very notion of "career" a tool of class reproduction at best, and false consciousness at worst.

with:

somehow it's important to get a "real" job and do "important" and "useful" things.

...and watch the sparks fly!

My take on "a job":

I think it is important to do real, important and useful things, but I don't see any necessary association between those kinds of activities and payment.  Sometimes they intersect (no no!  I won't mention ecliptics or solar and lunar eclipses!), but often they don't.  So, negatively, a job that is unuseful (or positively damaging), unimportant (or positively pointless), or unreal (or positively ridiculous)...would be, for me, the worst.

Money is either necessary for an individual or it isn't.  If it is, "a job" or "jobs" is what the individual does to obtain that money.  If it isn't, then a job isn't necessary.  (This is my view.)

My take on a career:

It is finding a sector of life you are interested in and then following a course through that sector.  Those who view life in terms of rigid hierarchies will see a "down-up" path, but there are as many strange and kinky paths as the shape and size of the sector make possible.

Sometimes a career links with paid employment: as you develop skills in a sector, you become economically useful to someone.  There is the idea that all sectors of life contain some economically useful functions, but many sectors of life offer few economically useful functions ("economically useful" being, itself, a sector and relating to the "money structure" in culture...cough cough!...ahem...cough cough!)  

For sectors that

a) interest a lot of people:

and

b) have a limited supply of economically useful functions:

there will be a lot of people applying for those limited functions.  This often (but not necessarily) means entry wages are low and promotion (moving "up and through" a sector, which I take to mean having more influence and control over decisions) difficult.

The reason a lot of people will be applying for those functions is that people would like to make a unity of the two concepts "career" and "paid job".

I prefer the view of career as in "crazily" and "woah, watch out!"...more in the spirit of "careen"...though those who can find balance and direction, it seems, often do find over time that their career is also infiltrating itself into their paid work (the two will naturally pull together?)

The "rigid hierarchies" part is the negative aspect, I think.

...Zwackus!  I bow...humble humble...you just got me thinking.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 05:57:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Money is either necessary for an individual or it isn't.

Should read "Earning money is either necessary..."

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 06:00:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Put together:

I've...always thought the notion of deriving satisfaction from one's work was a cruel joke, and the very notion of "career" a tool of class reproduction at best, and false consciousness at worst.

with:

somehow it's important to get a "real" job and do "important" and "useful" things.

...and watch the sparks fly!

Oh, believe me, I'm quite aware of the obvious contradictions there.  I'm just not at all sure what to do about it!

by Zwackus on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 07:22:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
;)

I recommend:

  1. Enjoying your cash!  (Issa pisser not earning a decent wage, so enjoy!)

  2. Fuggedabout careers.

  3. Confirm to yourself that teaching english to japanese kids is a worthwhile activity (sounds worthwhile to me.)

  4. Go back to 3) and think.  Ah!

  5. Whatever you enjoy doing (outside of paid employment): do it sideways for a month or two, or slantwise...any direction that doesn't have an obvious up/down movement.

Related to 5)....(and this is just for me):

Ponder the following:

a) the world spins on its axis in an easterly direction:

b) this means that if, at night, you stood on top of the north (or south) pole and looked east you would see the stars running (okay, moving slowly) from left to right across your line of vision (though the stars aren't moving: it is you who is moving anticlockwise and so the starts appear to move as you spin past them.)

and

c) if you then rushed to the equator (a 90 degree shift)--and looked east, the stars (some the same, some different) would now be rising up from the horizon in front of you, going over your head and down behind your back.

But!

During the day the sun wouldn't follow either of these paths because the earth, relative to the sun is not standing straight up down but is tilted by 23.45%.

Plus!

Unless you stand at the north pole or the equator, the stars won't go straight across or straight over your head, no, they will describe arcs because we are all on a large ball and few of us live around the middle or on the top or bottom, so we all live on a curve and the stars--and the sun, and the moon--describe arcs across our vision as we go....down...and round...

ach!  Blows my mind, Zwackus!  I need a way to visualise the FOUR  (!!!!) movements:

--mine (I'm heading east at all times--if I put a steering wheel on an east facing wall then grabbed it, I could imagine I was driving this ball...forward and...over the horizon...and down...as if I were endlessly going over the top of a big dipper...)

--the stars (they're doing some funky curve up from somewhere in the east and then off and to the left-ish, relative to me on my curvy ball, though they're not actually moving: I am driving my ball "past" them, though really I never get anywhere, I'm just going round in circles!

--the moon is also going round the planet AT AN ANGLE (of 5 degrees, I think), so it comes up from the east (I'm driving towards it) but on different days it comes up slightly different places...AND 50 MINUTES LATER EACH TIME! because it, too, is moving...around the planet in the same direction we're going...only we're going faster, but in circles so we keep seeing it but each time it's got a bit further round its track.

--the sun...we're going round the sun, but it looks as though the sun appears in the east (coz we're driving our ball round and soon enough we see the sun), only at a different place each morning (just a bit, but noticeable--a bit less than 1 degree a day so that after a year we are back where we started--we've done one cicrle--one orbit!  And a bit more!  Madness!)...and then it arcs up and out into the sky because we in the northern hemisphere are currently tilted 23.45 degrees towards the sun...

It's a madness.  Once I understand it:

No one will pay me any more money
My job will not have changed at all
The world will still be the way it is

...but maybe, just maybe in twenty two years' time I will say, "You know, if I hadn't struggled through to understand that, I wouldn't have met Zwackus, who wouldn't have given me the model, which means I wouldn't have thanked him by sending him that eighteenth century japanese print, which he then wouldn't have taken to his japanese friend, who then wouldn't instantly have offered him a superbly paying job working in a fine arts studio in Japan, where he wouldn't have met Miko, and then...

...but alas and alack.  I still can't get a visual picture of all those movements in my head, though I am on the verge, on the cusp of understanding that all those moving balls out there are...are...well, they're all moving, but the ball moving fastest is the one I'm sitting on, typing this to you!

;)

Which no makea de sense--!  I type it to makea you smile!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 07:56:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that it did.  Thanks!
by Zwackus on Tue Apr 24th, 2007 at 06:44:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In some ways I'm fairly similar, mainly in my lack of direction. I'm motivated by what I enjoy doing and by what I feel has a positive impact  or contribution.

I'm 28 and I've changed 'career' 3 times already.  Not a deliberate thing but when I became unhappy with a previous job, I moved on. My new directions took me into what others would descibe as a completely different career.  

I've never even clocked up a full 2 years in the same job, I seem to stay until I feel that I have learnt as much as I am likely to, contributed as much as I feel I can, and when I lose my vision for where I want to take a role or project, I know it is time to move on. Equally if I don't like my employers and feel that they are not making best use of me, I leave. Their loss. I have talents to use elsewhere.

I give myself purpose, my job/career doesn't define me and my general outlook is to enjoy my life and make the most I can of it.  Feeling as though I can make a contribution and enjoy my job at the same time fits into my overall objective.

My enthusiasm for life drives me really, I have so many interests and I get absorbed following them. I think this distracts me from what could have easily been a tendency to hate the world and hate authority and the system that tries to define me and make me conform to expectations and values that I don't hold. Because I can hold my own in the system that immediately surrounds me, I can break the rules within reason and get away with my subversive attitudes.

But I am lucky because I have had the opportunity to develop my skills so that I can transfer across and do just about anything I feel like doing.  My skills and talents provide me with a buffer zone to keep people off my back enough to let me get on with doing things my way.

Work doesn't have to be miserable and soul-destroying and there is no need to feel guilty for finding something you like doing. What do you enjoy doing outside of the teaching? Plenty of experiences out there, soak it up!

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 06:58:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally In Wales, I really admire your attitude...Right. ON!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 09:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, I'm although I'm usually told that I have an attitude problem (that's what got me kicked out of Girl Guides!!)
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 11:13:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who hasn't been sacked for having a "Bad attitude to management"?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:29:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I got sacked for something similar to "bad attitude towards managment", and I was management!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's an achievement that  deserves a framed certificate on your wall.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 07:19:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you are told that, please consider
  1.  the other person is jealous of your courage
  2.  the other person has a nasty need to control others by undermining their self-confidence.  Very commonly used against women and mean and unfair becaue we question ourselves way too much, as it is.


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 03:45:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very right you are there. Something I wished I had realised a lot sooner than I did. Plenty of people knocked my confidence and self-esteem into the ground this way when I was younger.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:31:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at this, I can seed myself ten years ago, and in a way now. Do I have a career? no I'm just doing something at the momnent. Do I feel guilty about that? No If I was to become unemployed tomorrow would I feel guilty about it ? onced again No I'd be happy to have more time on my hands, but I would slightly worried about paying my bills. Would I be worried about it being immoral? No.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 08:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My work is my life is my play is my work...

When I decided in 1996 to leave what had been a marvellous job as a Director of the International Petroleum Exchange it is clear to me now that I was determined never to work FOR anyone ever again.

I like to work WITH people not FOR people. ie the distinction between "Work" and alienating "Labour" where Marx, in his early writings, made such a profound observation in advocating the "Abolition of Labour".

But it is only in the intervening years that I have discovered how difficult this "will to freedom" is to achieve.

In the course of my "journey" in these years I have become entirely focused upon the ways in which individuals interact with each other economically and legally, since it seemed to me that it is in this field that our problems lie as a Society.

And my epiphany came in the realisation - the corollary of Joni Mitchell's refrain that "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" (ie you don't know what you haven't got 'til you see it) - that new partnership-based legal forms such as the UK LLP and the US LLC actually permit us to achieve this freedom to work WITH each other in new and satisfying ways..

Now for me the problem of these years - and the pain, suffering and emotional and spiritual turbulence of complete financial and relationship breakdowns I experienced - was that while the "work" I am doing is hugely satisfying in terms of its integration of work/life/ play it simply did (and barely does) not meet my existential needs and the needs of those dear to me.

I distinguish between three levels of "work":

(a) "Commercial" - where I will attempt to maximise the value in exchange I receive;

(b) "Social" - where I wish to cover my costs, and live reasonably comfortably;

(c) "Charitable" - where the exchange/ return is not tangible but spiritual and emotional.

Since it is the case that I am merely observing and analysing an emergent phenomenon - which like all such is emerging because it is "superior", with the result that those who do not use it are at a disadvantage to those who do - then I believe that my future prospects as an "expert" in the field are reasonably good.

But in the meantime, the greatest problem is that I do not have the resources necessary to adequately develop and communicate what I believe to be the single most important advance in human development of the last 200 years.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 08:28:12 AM EST
Somehow...I have a feeling you will though, Chris...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 09:51:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Bob.

I read this yesterday, in FT's weekend paean to conspicuous consumption, by an amazing designer called Naoto Fukasawa.

My motivation is to find the simple answer that everybody knows but which doesn't yet exist

It says it all.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 10:28:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is so inspiring form e to hear everyone's thoughts and experiences so far. It reminds me of something I read a few years back, which stated to the effect that...on average...everyone in our world today will have 5 or 6 careers in their lifetime. Let's see...where am I in this?

My first work was in a kitchen of a local restaurant as a kid, so I could have money to do stuff. Later, I traveled a couple of year's with a folk-rock-jazz band as a road manager/equipment guy...made zero money, but had fun. Then moved to Hawaii, where I at first worked as a teacher's aid in a private elementary school for 2 years (and was sometimes as much a challenge as the kids were!). Then some friends and I moved to the Big Island and bought a lease on a coffee farm, which I worked on for almost 3 years, supplemented by doing gardening in the local town. I must pause and say here that up and including these jobs, I was just working and I was much more focused on my ,,outside" interests, though the coffee farm life was idyllic in many ways, and also incredibly therapeutic, as I was there during the time my mother died, and really needed a place where I could work outside in the sun everyday (sun-up to sundown), being very physical, and yet caring for coffee trees, weeding, planting and caring for papaya & banana trees, plus caring for an ornamental plant nursery. This farm work literally and mythologically changed me. (Let's see...why did I leave there???)

Then I moved to San Francisco, where I continued doing landscape gardening for the next 7-8 years, which paid for my basic expenses while I worked myself through MA and PhD programs in psychology/counseling & psychotherapy. During this time, I had my first ever internship where I counseled individuals in April of 1982...25 years ago this month!! I just realized that this week!

Finally, in 1988, upon completion of my PhD I begain working in San Francisco Community Mental Health system, managing a psychiatric half-way house for people with severe mental illness, substance abuse, homeless, HIV/AIDS, etc. etc. I would say this was my first serious career, where I was really focused on my work...in the role as helper...and this continues to be my career today, though I have explored different aspects of this work since 1988. I have done a private psychotherapy & consulting psychologist practice for 4 years,  was a Clinical Director of a huge psychiatric day services program (again as a part of the SF CMHS) for 2 years, then helped to start an inpatient gero-psychiatric hospital program for 2 more years.  I made a little hop over to work for 2 years as a manager in a human resources membership association, then went back to my ,,real" work as a senior manager in a nonprofit that offered housing, vocational and psychiatric support services to people with severe mental illness for 2 more years. I absolutely LOVED this job, and thought I would work the rest of my work there, as it was in my neighborhood, and it was really my area of expertise, in a role where I had influence over an organization's policy and practice...

BUT...oops...I fell in love with a Swiss woman! And when we decided we wanted to be married, it was me that finally decided to make the move here...and while I am quite glad I have come here (in many ways), it has also been quite challenging for me. My current incarnation is as a research psychologist, but only paid very part time (despite working almost full time to develop my projects). And...while somewhat grateful to have this work, and excited about developing research in a new area...it is not enough. I am a social person, who really thrives working in organizations that can utilize my management, HR, training, supervising & clinical skills. So I am trying to figure out how to integrate my new research with my old expertise...and all at age 55...which is both exciting, and at times terrifying. Who am I? And the reality is hitting home, that I am looking at...what?...maybe 15-20 more years of work? Maybe a little more?

When I look back at all this, I see that I have steadily worked more and more, and received more pleasure out of the work as I have gotten older...and at the same time, I have always made sure to take time to do things I love...a lot...be that visiting friends, going to hear music, see baseball games, and for sure to go traveling. So finding a balance has been important, and I have always used up my vacation/holiday time! Right now, what feels out of balance, is that I am not getting paid enough for the work I am doing, and I am not feeling enough connection with people, nor getting enough acknowledgement. I am not a person who can sit in an office and work at a computer all day...its just not me. And this is where I am right now...working to integrate more of what I am good at. And when this happens, then I will be happier and more at peace with the free time I have.

<whew> Long winded...but that's my story, which is similar to In Wales, in that I have really kept moving, changing pretty much every two years to do something new. I can't actually imagine ever retiring...maybe semi-retiring...but I think I would go crazy without something meaningful to do (though ,,meaningful" will probably transmogrify as my life does!).


"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 10:38:43 AM EST
Thanks so much whataboutbob, for the contribution and for starting such an interesting thread!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:44:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are welcome! I think these kind of topics are both refreshing and enlightening for us all...so it is often in the back of my mind to post this sort of thing, as well as to hope others do too!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 03:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks all for sharing.

I am a self-employed (for now over 25 years) Teacher/Facilitator, whatever that might mean. I teach Yoga and other Seminars and I do one-to-one work with clients.

I really love what I do and feel very lucky about it. When I look back somehow many of the things I did for fun and pleasure ended up becoming part of my work, like Yoga .

It is difficult for me to separate work and play, as they are more or less the same.

I am always amazed when people tell me that they admire me for my courage to do what I like. Funny I think it would take much more courage for me to do what I do not like. When I did what I loved somehow it naturally unfolded into my work, there was nothing I needed to do, it just happened.

Stress is not such a problem, as my stress is mostly homemade and thus I can also act on it. Though not always as easily as I would like to.

For fun I like music, reading, walking, traveling, though the later I have been doing less lately.

by Fran on Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 02:24:50 PM EST


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