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Striking the Balance Between Work and Play

April 20, 2009


How do people work full time and have social lives?  They make it look so easy on TV: Put in a few hours at the office, then join friends for cosmopolitans after work – all while wearing three-inch stilettos and carrying purses the size of Hummers.  On television, men and women under the age of 30 are required spend eight hours in a cubicle and then another six grinding on a club dance floor. They ooze into bed just before the sun comes up and crawl back into the box a couple hours later.  After a long day of sitting on my ass, I can barely muster the energy to put my car key in the ignition, and I’m asleep by eleven.

In my first two years of college I could make it to 1 a.m. easily, two with a little bit of effort.  By junior year midnight became my destination, and I was proud of how much writing I could get done after dusk. Even on school nights I spent time with friends, I went to performances, I auditioned for plays, it was great. But I also only had five or six hours of class a week and could sleep in ’til eight.

A perennial Erysimum capitatum, I ascribe to the ‘solitary writer’ stereotype, though I probably won’t drink myself to death. I watch TV and walk my dogs, see my friends or go to the movies on the weekend.  Yet somehow I found myself with something to do every night last week, from family functions to dinners with friends, theater tickets and television panels.  Which would have been fine, great even, if I hadn’t started a new job and a new allergy medication at the same time.

My body revolted; if I wasn’t falling on my face at six o’clock, I was fidgeting in my chair like a third grader who ran out of Ritilin. It wasn’t pretty. The human body isn’t meant to go from 0 to 60 without warning.

The last week made it clear that even if I spent the next two years training, and wore a hat so I didn’t have to worry about my hair, there was no way I could survive The Amazing Race.  It’s too bad, since I’d love to write a book about the experience, but even assuming I could run without hyperventilating, I’d never be able to stand at the Pit Stop at four in the morning, or go from Roadblock to Detour without a lunch break in between. I was desperate to get to sleep after a performance of Mamma Mia! (Granted, I did dance during the curtain call.)

So no Amazing Race for me. Still, I don’t think I have to eliminate all social engagements from my schedule, it’s more a matter of not cramming it all into one week like fun is going out of business.  And I really should get around to taking the plastic wrapping off my pilates mat.

But I still don’t know how other people do it – and I know people who do.  People who are on their feet from nine to five and still want to go out at night. I envy them the caffeine that must run through their veins as I crawl under the covers at 10:30 and watch The Daily Show on my DVR from the previous night.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 22, 2009 3:14 pm

    I know how you feel. When I worked in an office I was there 40 hours a week and the thought of going out afterwards just to see friends ended up feeling more like a chore because I was always tired by 5:00pm. I hate the term “living for the weekends” but that’s essentially what it feels like when you are in a working rut!

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