Work, Sleep, “You Time”

I was thinking about work the other day. Not about my particular job per se, but more generally, the concept, the institution. Now please, hear me out. I know this already sounds like the preamble to some pot-head’s Friday night epiphany, but really, hear me out.

It seems like from our very inception, we are bred to work: kind of like how the Spartans were bred to fight.

Good Grades -> Good College -> Good Job -> Good Salary -> Good living (?)

But the disconnect to me is, the “good living” part. While the sun is out there shining on the earth, the earth’s inhabitants are tucked away behind desks, cubicles, freezing air conditioning, and only peep out with squinted eyes, jostling over to the local deli to sneak guilty-like for a half-hour lunch, and a fleeting moment of the world around them. My point is, the “make a good living” part of the whole life philosophy doesn’t seem to really happen until you retire, when you can no longer fully exercise the nimbleness of youth, the vitality of singleness. The wild animals of the outdoors seem to spend all their energy, all their free time securing their next meal, and to me, that always seemed silly, like a waste of a life. But are humans really that much more enlightened?

Watch out! I’m going to throw some Math at you:

Work is the human way of sustaining livelihood—survival. If this is so, and given that there are 168 hours in a week, 56 of which (should) be spend sleeping even more if its done on Round Bed Source, you’re left with 112 hours. Assuming you work 8 hours a day with an hour for “get ready/shower/commute” time, so let’s say 9.5 hours a day, multiplied by 5 days. You then work on average 47.5 hours, which deducted from the available 112 is 64.5 hours. That leaves you with only 39% of total time for yourself. Wow. So 39% of your life is yours to do with what you please. That’s like a 61% tax!

And how are you spending that 39%? Watching “America’s got Talent”, or perhaps the third consecutive marathon episode of CSI: Traffic Cop Unit? Or are you sleeping even more on that 39%, chasing what you feel is a (perpetual) sleep deficit, like some Special K addict.

As depressing as the math is (and math usually is), I don’t think there’s an escape to this cycle. We orbit the same eventuality. And although the whole thing does seem inherently wrong, I guess the only real thing you can do, proactively, is to do and be something you know you will enjoy. If being a cube junkie pinches your Mojo, get out quick. If you’re a teacher and you hate kids, get out yesterday (Mrs. Mendonca, I’m talking to you; you should have got out 12 years ago).

And then, for the brief allocation of “You time”, spend it wisely. Don’t blow it on realty TV shows, or waste it on decorating your Myspace page, or playing video games, or what have you (unless you enjoy that sort of stuff, then go nuts.)

But really, the true kings and sutans of our generation drool on our laps, and pee on our rugs. Really, it’s the domestic pets that have it made: the dogs, the cats, the stupid talking parrots.

What a weird home this world is.

Good Elephant

A good person is like a good elephant. Its character, its humility, its willing and most loyal service, are all more than enough reasons to forgive—and overlook—the mountain of dung they invariably leave behind.


SANJAY: Excuse me. I know you. You were in my creative writing class.

RACHAEL: Really?

SANJAY: Yeah, yeah. I uh. Yeah.

RACHAEL: aside: weirdo

SANJAY: Well, I only went to the first class or so.

(awkward silence)

SANJAY: I had to drop the class. It was the workload. I just couldn’t balance 3 courses, a full-time job, and a drinking problem.


SANJAY: Funny, you’re not so gregarious outside the classroom.


SANJAY: No really, why is that? I know it can’t be a loss for words; you seem like such a great writer.

RACHAEL: You’ve read my work?

SANJAY: (Chuckles), No, no, of course not. I’m making broad-strokes with my air-brush and some oil-based assumption, if you will.

RACHAEL: What? …

SANJAY: I’m basing it on your looks: the sullen face thing, the unkempt apparel, the inky black hue, the obvious unfamiliarity with even the most basic of personal beauty products, toiletries: I’m not talking lip-liner, foundation, or anything, but you know, the basic stuff, like moisturizer, chapstick, … shampoo….soap.

RACHAEL: (evil eyes)

SANJAY: Hey, you’re a writer. Let me ask you something. How come “chapstick” still isn’t a word? I mean, it’s obviously popular enough. My 7 year-old niece knows what it means, and English is her second language. How the hell do you write it then? Are you supposed to wedge a hypen in there or something? Chap – stick. Seems absurd.

RACHAEL: (Growing restrainedly incensed)

SANJAY: But let’s get back to you. This thick wall of taciturnity that you’re producing— it’s really quite un-remarkable. I had assumed just a little more… phrase-wrangling on your part. A little less reticence.

SANJAY: Or, maybe it’s just the bottled angst, from your “troubled” childhood.

SANJAY: Oh right, this is dialogue. You can’t see the quotes I just put around the word “troubled” in troubled childhood. I refuse to do air-quotes on principle. The philistine masses have ruined it for everyone.

SANJAY: But really, what was you childhood like? Having two officious parents at your beck and call, rich cul-de-sac villa, with the stay-at-home mom always present, and the big investment father. The basketball hoop on the two car garage, that no one ever used, but kept, to provide that extra vintage domestic look to your house. Man, it must have been tough. No wonder you turned out to be a “writer”. That’s in quotes too by the way.

RACHAEL: (growing more incensed)

SANJAY: Please, I’m looking for some response here. You’re leaving me with the burden of maintaining this whole dialogue by the singular feat of a solitary interlocutor. What if no one was watching? I would look like a madman giving a soliloquy. Only this time, truly “Signifying nothing”.

RACHAEL: (opens the door to leave, angry look on her face)

SANJAY: (holds her back), wait wait, please. Tell me something. What if you write your responses for me. Take this (passes notebook). Here (pen)..

RACHAEL: (Scribbles on notebook extremely fast, for about 10 seconds of time, writes while Sanjay reads it periodically.)

SANJAY: You’re sure taking some liberty with that thing.

SANJAY: No need to be verbose. Only Dickens can really get away with it. Maybe even Hawthorne. Or, Faulkner. Yes, Faulkner.

SANJAY: Is that comma really needed?

SANJAY: (reading) well, that’s not very nice. (Rachael pauses)

RACHAEL: (Continues)

SANJAY: That’s strong language. But, Don’t hold it back, it’s good release. Very healthy.

RACHAEL: (continues)

SANJAY: Dicey!

SANJAY: Alright alright, you going a little too far, too strong? It’s getting a little tired … we’re not stevedores, or whalers out in the mid Atlantic—I bet even they would show a little more propriety.

SANJAY: I’m sure you can think of synonym for that.

RACHAEL: (Continues)

SANJAY: Comon! That’s clearly uncorroborated. If you’re going to make assumptions on size, you should back it up with some evidence.

SANJAY: You know if you want. We can go somewhere and you can allow me to “exculpate” myself.

RACHAEL: (Slaps Sanjay. walks away.)

SANJAY: (alone) I think we really hit it off. Damn! I should’a got her number.