5:00 in the morning. Up and at’em, hands poised over the keyboard at this early hour, on the pretext that this is my habit. Writing.
I would just as soon roll over, settle back undercover, into the familiar warm depression and tangle of bedding. Close eyes and let sleep take over until sunrise. Another two hours to rest.
But no. No rest for the weary, sleepy, happy, dopey or grumpy, as they say. Seems it’s off to work I go, tapping on keys. “Beating the daylights out” (wondering where that expression comes from), readying myself for the drive uptown later this morning. . . headed to another desk in the office where I’m employed, the place I will spend the entire day in the same posture, the same activity as now, tapping away at a keyboard. Writing.
This is what I do. I have no wish to do otherwise today. I like my work, I am deeply habituated to it. I have no plans to retire, though the age looms and there will be decisions to make and a transition to navigate. Soon. Sooner or later. Not now.
Moments ago I opened an email from my brother-in-law, announcing his retirement. A short plat planner for the city of Seattle, he’s been working that one gig for thirty-five years, or something like that. He’s had no other job to my knowledge. One place, all those years. Steady work. Steady worker. Working right up and through the holidays, retiring with lunch at noon on December 31 with many Happy new years ahead.
Steady. I would say that describes my work-style, as well. I have worked nonstop since the summer I graduated from college.
How many jobs have I had?
Never counted. Let’s see: a dozen or so:
Four short “apprenticeships” as a copywriter and art director of sorts in retail, working in-house at department stores (good for the development of a fashion sense and shopping discounts)
Two short passages and two long journeys home as a writer and creative director in ad agencies. (Had my fun.)
A seven-year stint as a public relations writer for a non profit org. Good, serious hard work.
Four years of smoke, mirrors and alchemy as an exhibit developer for a science museum, until it closed its doors a year ago. (No worries, the museum is reopening after Christmas.)
One year as a web content developer, writing and editing a monthly newsletter.
Seems I’m an old dog. Still learning new tricks. Still running in the park, well, figuratively speaking.
If you’ve ever owned a dog, one you’ve raised as a pup, groomed and nurtured as “one of your own” dear members of the family, then you know, it takes many dog years to cultivate that mutual unconditional love which can exist between species, human and canine.
Old dogs are the best.
Long-time employment ain’t so bad either.
The pace of my new job is supposedly slower - a three-day work week gives me time and space to roam, to write, to pick up a camera and play. Old working dog that I am, I’m loyal, tenacious. Throw me a bone, I’ll chew on it for days. Still working with a purpose, on the short leash of people to reach and deadlines to meet. Sit. Stay.
I laugh when I think of my past work-lives. Bad dog! Running-crazy dog. Bitch. Ad show dog, Barking at strangers. Chewing up the furniture. Tearing up newspapers. Working in advertising, I had my run. I had my pups. I won some medals.
What irony: I’m a far better dog, an older but wiser writer now than I ever was back then, in the day.
Old dogs. Dang, if they don’t just keep getting better!
About the dog in the photo: he’s not my pooch. I just caught his eye and he stayed to chat with me as I poked my hand and camera through his gate during a walk down his street in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Photo taken September 2012.