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Friday, September 2, 2016

How to take a day off

Low Tide, Old Orchard Beach, 8X6, by Carol L. Douglas
“Low Tide, Old Orchard Beach,” 8X6, by Carol L. Douglas
My life in the summertime consists of grueling road trips punctuated by short periods of paying bills. I live in America’s Vacationland. My career is what many people think of as a hobby. Every day should feel like a day off, right?
Most people have a structured schedule where they work a certain number of days and then have a few days off. That isn’t true for the self-employed, particularly artists who work another job to hold body and soul together. Many of us work seven days a week during the season. I’ve written before about how important it is to take a day off, but I can’t always do that on a regular basis.
People who only see me in public think I’m pretty high-key, and I am. I can work from early morning to late at night, turn out a lot of work, and chatter to passers-by at the same time. But after seven or eight days of that, I’m totally exhausted. The world starts to seem bleak. Little things irritate me. I start to develop cold symptoms as my body rebels.

"Early morning on the beach," 8X6, Carol L. Douglas
“Early morning on the beach,” 8X6, Carol L. Douglas
The first day of recuperation is horrible. I can sometimes sleep 24 hours straight. Even with that, it might take three days before my inner Imp is back, bouncing up to see what kind of trouble I can get into.
I am fully aware that this kind of hypomanic/sleep pattern could result in a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. However, I imagine this is how the human animal generally worked before he was stuffed into a cubicle for eight hours a day. Since I am not delusional, I don’t think I’ll seek treatment for it.
However, my lifestyle means I have almost no capacity for normal recreation activities. I hate shopping, eating out, and watching TV or movies. Parties make me almost insane with boredom.
This week, I’ve been sans car as our fleet of aged hoopties cycles through the local garage for their annual autumn fit-out. This has forced me into a quieter place. I have a friend taking a workshop nearby, and she’s stopped by with wine and cheese twice. I’ve spent a few evenings sitting outside contemplating the stars. I’ve walked around Rockport. It’s felt wonderful to slow right down.

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