One perspective of academia that never seems to be part of the talking-head, anti-elitist yammering on Fox News is the work-till-you-drop work ethic. Being around research faculty at a doctoral institution makes a 40-hour work week seem like a walk in the park. Some of them work 12-hour days and straight through the weekends. Many of them are on second marriages…hmm…correlation or causation?

On the upside when I look exhausted and have bags the size of baguettes under my eyes, they are impressed rather than concerned. A visible sign of dedication, exhaustion = commitment.

Color me committed.

I know I am swamped and bailing when I have an impulse to burrow – just go shopping or read a novel, take a nap. Have Brazil-like moment and check out…

Enough whining,”some people don’t have any legs” as my mother used to say, which translates from Big Alice into “Shut up, you are lucky to have a job.” I am grateful and will be more so when I check a few major things off my To-Do list, get some work/life balance back and lose the hag bags under my eyes.

And just for the record – while I might consider a different kind of work (plate spinning maybe?), I would never consider an eye tuck.

There is an American reporter on NPR, whose name I always forget, that inexplicably speaks in a BBC cadence. He is not English, nor does he have an English accent. I am so embarrassed for him that I immediately change the station, no matter how dire and important the news he is delivering.

Seeing as I live in a Rock & Roll town, this means that I am now listening to either Pink Floyd or Led Zepplin.

I grew up listening to WXKY 1260 until WMMS took over the air by playing whole album sides – I think WXKY’s record was three songs in a row. From 1975 – 1981 I probably spent more time with Matt the Cat, Kid Leo and Denny Sanders than any blood relative. Somehow all that music, all those artists and styles, from all those years have been boiled down to a 2011 mix of four albums:

  1. Dark Side of the Moon
  2. Wish You Were Here
  3. Zep IV and
  4. Physical Graffiti

These were great albums. Even mentioning them I can picture the album covers which, of course, were studied for hours. As much as I enjoyed them, I am puzzled by being back in 1977 every time I turn on the radio.

There was a point around 1979/1980 where groups of friends began to split into musical sub-groups. I remember this wedge because of heated arguments about Adam and the Ants and Sugar Hill Gang. That was the first time everyone in my crowd did not immediately like or hate the same music. More divisions followed – Iron Maiden v Talking Heads, Judas Priest v the Clash, Tom Petty or U2. And what the hell was Bruce doing with Nebraska?!?

It was a time when music was much more elemental in my day-to-day life. Now it is a pleasure but not a passion.

I had another Groudhog Day moment the other night when I was having dinner at Lola and realized the ambiance music was all Floyd, Zepplin, Edgar Winter et. al. It did not enhance my meal, but it did remind me I was in Cleveland.

It would be great if once in a while all this nostalgia radio pulled out something that didn’t just take you back but let you rediscover. Or in the case of the 20-somethings at the Lola bar – discover.

Here is a favorite track of mine from vinyl that was borrowed from me and never returned. I might just have to go buy it on iTunes.

I am bored with my job.

My work contributes to the good in the world and I do it well. I am efficient, timely and organized and everyone I work with is thrilled with my performance. The problem is, I feel like it takes about 20% of my attention span and 5% of my creative thinking skills to earn those buckets of praise. So I am bored. Thrilled to have a well-paying job, extra thrilled that my boss is as flexible as a Yogi when it comes to my life duties with my child, but bored nonetheless. Like an onion being peeled a bit every day, I am feeling diminished.

My Dad’s response to someone saying they were bored was to say “Only boring people are bored” and then make you clean the basement or scrape peeling paint off the porch. So I am self occupying rather than waiting to be assigned some more onerous work.

I am taking a class.
I am committed to writing my blog.
I am pasting photos in the photo albums.
I am trying to think about how to change from this perfectly fine job and into a career that I care about. I have Time for Reflection and I am suffering from Reflection Block.

Once upon a time in the very distant past I hit a similar impasse and sat down one really awful night and wrote a list of things that needed to be different in one year or I would do X. I came across this list while moving out of that apartment several years later and had somehow managed to launch myself into X even though I didn’t have any conscious memory of sticking to the list. Maybe I will do that again and see what happens.

However at the moment I still feel like Sisyphus with his empty task, endlessly repeated. I keep trying to interpret my current time and place as a sand mandala, just a lesson in accepting the transitory nature of life. Haven’t been able to get there yet. What I desperately do NOT want to do is just fill up time or waste time. Soft addictions like books, movies and the Internet feel like acceptable entertainment, except when you know they are being used to deflect and distract thinking.

Time always runs out and cannot be stored. I better figure out what to do.