Sunday, June 14, 2009

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

It's at times like these that I realize that I've spent far too much time around old codgers who speak in cliches. Because I can't think about working hard without the accompanying "or hardly working? Hyuck, hyuck." It occupies the same mental geography as "hot enough for you?" and the answer to the question "is today Sunday?" (which is, of course, "all day!"). I'll just put on my sans-a-belt pants now and call it a day.

The point of this meandering, however, is that I've been rethinking my attitude towards work. In part because I've just spent the last week and a half putting in a goodly number of 10 hour days of manual labor getting our house ready to go on the market. Which, as my friend likes to say, sucks donkey balls. I painted, I cleaned, I painted, I moved stuff around, I found clever hiding places for all kinds of crap, I packed and moved stuff to friends' garages and basements, etc., etc., etc. Then I've meticulously maintained the cleanliness and uncluttered nature of our house for the last 4 days that the house has had showings. Much of this has been a solo effort, too, because Senor Fluff was away at a conference. Let's just say this for the record: it's been a long time since I've had sweat running in my eyes inside the house. This morning, I crawled out of an upstairs window onto the roof of my house with a broom to sweep up a pile of vegetal detritus because the realtor noted that the guy coming today asked specifically about the age of the asphalt. I've got some nasty form of tennis elbow from painting trim and windows. I've taken to wiping my cats' feet with a wet paper towel to prevent them from tracking litter dust across the tile floor.

Aside from my whining here (and internally), I've spent much of my time reflecting on my relationship to hard work. It occurs to me that for the majority of the last four years (give or take), I've been half-assing a lot of things. Class prep, research projects, home improvement. You name it. I have any number of reasons for this: I'm tired; I hate everyone, and particularly the person the work might benefit; hard work without a definitive payoff is akin to pouring sand down a rat hole. This last one is a particularly powerful rationale for me. I'm seriously unwilling to do something unless the payoff is clear, reliable, and valuable. But how often does that happen, really? And what the hell am I doing if I'm not working hard? (Lamenting the sad mis-use of Isaac Mizrahi on The Fashion Show for one, but that's a different story.)

So putting the house on the market has been a new experiment in hard work. There's a payoff, sure, but it's far from guaranteed, and at best it's going to be very probably a long, drawn-out ordeal. I'm hoping that by reminding myself what it is to work hard on the house without a definitive reward is to acquire some inspiration to work hard on my research. Meanwhile, my inner old man tells me that this is character-building. And wonders if it's hot enough for you?



Blogger Sisyphus said...

I've taken to wiping my cats' feet with a wet paper towel to prevent them from tracking litter dust across the tile floor.

Heh. I love this ---- this would be one of the comic details in some Arrested Development-style movie.

Monday, June 15, 2009 12:23:00 PM  

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