Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why The Long-Weekend Face?

The Globe's Focus piece this weekend was about the so-called leisure gap between how much we should work - not much, given how much technology we have at our disposal - and how much we do work - all the time. It made the case for the standard three-day weekend, a luxury that had me breaking out in goosebumps: since starting my job a few months ago, I've been asked to give up two Saturdays a month in the name of work. It's a sacrifice that shouldn't be that big a deal, but instead has turned me into a enraged, stressed-out asshole. One-day weekends are just horrible. But three-day weekends! They're amazing.

The article, which seems to run under different guises in national newspapers every few months as "breaking news" but in reality is one of the hoariest old saws in a journalist's notebook, is how technological and societal advances should be leaving us with more leisure time. Time for the kids, time for the stack of novels on my bedside table yet to be cracked. More time for home-cooked meals and gardening. More time for working on hobbies, making art, making the world a better place. Less time has to be spent running around in cars, staring at a computer screen, picking up meals-in-a-bowl to snarf during the lunch (half-)hour, and commuting.

The articles always argue that, by cutting the workweek down, people are healthier, more in tuned with their families, less stressed, and more productive when they are at their desks. Even doing 40 hours in four days - working nine to seven, say - gives people more time. It's hard to argue with that; if I'm commuting 45 minutes each way on transit or on the highway, cutting one day of commuting out gives me an hour and a half each week to do other it things. Not to mention that whole other day of not working. It gives me a day to go to the doctor, or talk to my landlord, or attend volunteer meetings, or cook for the week.

At this point, I am like, obsessed with the idea of a part-time job. I'm not really a frugal person - I spend too much on frozen yogurt and second-hand clothes for that kind of thing - but I'm also not terribly expensive in my tastes. I want a nice little 25/30 hour a week gig; somewhere were I still I have a desk, but I'm not chained to it. I don't want to make tacos or make beggy phonecalls to patrons of the Harbourfront Festival or fold clothes at American Apparel, but I thrive when I'm in a professional situation that allows for freedom. Like most people, I chafe under too much work and too many demands, and I can only imagine that, as I get older and my responsibilities increase, I'll be even more horrible if I also have to hold down a full-time gig. Some people like to work. They claim to go a little nuts without it. I'm the opposite. Without metric tons of down time, I become a twitchy, bitchy bag of neuroses, temper tantrums and meaningless fights with my boyfriend (sorry, baby!).

In any case. The Victoria Day long weekend is stuffed with barbeques and bike rides, a few rainy bursts, and a chance to scrub my apartment from top to bottom. I've also read a book, done my laundry, and eaten a grape leaf sandwich. In other words, it has afforded me with leisure time that is remarkable only it its uninterrupted amount. Next weekend promises a Saturday of work and then a Sunday for alltheotherstuffIneedtodo, so this three-day block of time is a luxury of time and happiness that knows few bounds. I feel refreshed, recharged, and ready for another full week of - sigh - work.

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