Four Years of Mondays

Dream job

Four Years of Mondays is the title of my bestselling coffee table book to be published in 2019 by Phaidon. It’s a book about grinding it out, year after year, in a photographic form. From Slovenia to San Diego, all of us contend with Mondays.

Richard Scarry, Everyone is a worker

I don’t work in a 50-person office.  I don’t have NASA demanding I perform hardcore astrophysics to rescue a dying man from Mars (see The Martian). I don’t dial conference calls or pour through case studies.

That’s because I have a “job”, not a job, which is why I have a keen fascination of other people’s jobs.

When I drop my older kids off at school, the rest of humanity whisks busily off to work. What are they rushing off to do? What is a project manager of software at Qualcomm? What does a business strategist do all day long?

Dinner party guest: “Dina, so what did you work on today?”
Dina: “I have been thinking about pyrotechnics.”
Dinner party guest: “Fireworks?”
Dina: “Duh.”

fireworks show

I don’t support myself from my writing. Sure, I earn royalties. But really I am a depreciating asset. A tax write-off. Do I work? Define work.

So, then how do I spend my time? Thinking. Plotting. Printing. Reading. Imagining. Worrying. Making lists. Editing. Then, starting this process all over again.

A colleague of mine, Joe Turner Lin, from the Columbia MFA program created this poignant look at poet, Mary Jo Bang’s process of writing; it’s such a lyrical tribute to a grueling and obsessive process. Nicely done, Joe!

So, on Monday, do I write or ditch my highly disrespected “job” for something more stable like pyrotechnics?

Who designs fireworks? The career choice of middle children? What do pyrotechnics think about in the 45-seconds before they fall asleep?

Like all good professionals, they must attend a national conference. Brainstorming. Here is what I think happens at a pyrotechnic conference:

The stage ignites with fireworks. The pyrotechnician of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics tells his humbling story about launching his first horsetail explosive in his poor village. The crowd fires bottle rockets and waves sparklers.

Then, people rapidly disperse for breakout sessions of:

  • The good, the bad and the missing limb
  • The ghosts of last year and how to recover
  • What did you say? Hearing loss is real.
  • Unions – time for blast off?

A little poking around, and indeed there is a pyrotechnics conference, which is very well-attended. And here are some of the actual breakout sessions offered:

  • Commonly Used Household items for creation of powder rockets
  • Creating a Pyro musical
  • The next generation of pyros: ages 6 and beyond

I wonder: could my Mondays be about blowing Jumping Jack fireworks in a PVC pipe? My personal promise is that 2016 is my year to get a “job.” Or make a video about publishing a children’s book while shooting homemade Roman Candles from my desk.

candlerack

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

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