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How The Fuck Do You Do It? or Why I Can Never Work a 9-5

This week, I did something that I did not imagine I’d be doing for a long time.

I worked a 9-5 week.

Now don’t misunderstand me: it’s not the 40 hour week that got me down.  40 hours in a week is a moderate week.  I’ve done longer hours in three days, and 60 hour weeks are nothing to get hot about in our world.  No, what’s unusual is that I did it within completely normal hours, 9:00am-5:00pm, just like normal people do.  Five days in a row, just like normal people do.

See, usually my world is structured a little differently in that it’s usually completely unstructured.  Generally I only work when we have a show, and the hours we work are dictated by the needs of the show, so it’s a little different everyday.  2pm-midnight, 6am-noon, nine days on, three or four days off, working every other day, working every hour or hardly working at all, it just depends on what’s going on in which theatre.  Every week looks a little different, and sometimes even I have trouble keeping track of where I am on any given day.

But this week there weren’t any shows in either space, so I was busy doing maintenance on my lighting rig.  No show to dictate what the hours needed to be, so my boss (and by “boss” I mean Kyle,) had me doing the classic 9:00am-5:00pm, just like a normal working stiff.

And it’s absolutely killing me.

Seriously guys, how the fuck do you do it?  Working 9-5 like that, all while keeping up with the household and still having time to do all those personal things that keep you lovely and sane?

Along with the erratic hours, my work days tend to be compacted at one end of the day or the other; meaning I either go in stupid fucking early and finish by noon or don’t go in until late afternoon and finish sometime around 4th meal.  So I either have all afternoon and evening or all morning to get my have-to’s and want-to’s done.  (Not counting, of course, the 9am-2am day, in which case the entire day is useless for anything save Taco Bell.  But that’s a moot point.)  And during all but our most busiest of seasons, we’ll usually have a day off in every three or four days on, which gives me a chance to find my asshole.

But this 9-5 thing.  Work plopped down right smack dab in the middle of the day.  We leave for work a little after 8am, drive 40 mnutes, work 8 hours, drive another 40 minutes, and now it’s 6pm.  Include another hour or two for the making and consuming of dinner, and now you’re looking at only a few hours to care for my house and myself.

It’s like at the beginning of the week I was given a worksheet headed:


(Choose two.)

And below that was the list of all those things–those have-to’s and want-to’s–that as a sane and responsible adult need to be done.

do and fold laundry


fix and paint my poor shredded fingernails

clean the apartment

half-marathon training run

work on updating my professional website


play with the cats

socialize with friends

clean our my car


read everyone else’s blogs

grocery shopping


make the cookies I promised Kyle two weeks ago

go to the farmer’s market

get enough sleep

In my case, I chose “half-marathon training run” and “socialize with friends,” and even making those happen was a struggle some days.  And god help me if I tried to do both in the same day.  There just wasn’t enough damn time!  From the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep, I had a precisely timed schedule, down to the minute.  I was going, going, going, and the only way to get everything in that I wanted to was to stick to my plan.  And everything that didn’t have a place in my schedule went straight to hell.  My car is three feet deep with wrappers and empty water bottles, my nails look like the cats have been chewing on them, and Kyle’s out of his favorite underwear.  There just wasn’t enough motherfucking time.

And the part that really, really blows my mind is that I struggled to get everything done while only being responsible for the health and happiness for 2.5 creatures!  (The cats are a 1/4 person each, and their needs are simple and easily met, mostly revolving around ham and clean places to poo.)  I cannot even begin to fathom how in the hell I would get anything done with a couple kids running around.  I mean, think about, for my few, precious hours after work I got to run and socialize, both things that are important to me.  But with a couple Kyle Jr’s in the picture, my choice would be made for me: “Spend time with kids.”  No time for running, no time for drinks with friends, and certainly no time for going downtown at midnight and getting drunk in dive bars.  Those few precious hours in the evening would all need to be devoted to keeping the kids happy, healthy, and un-traumatized.

So how do you do it?  How the hell do you do it?  I realize that I am one of the exceptions in this world, not one of the rules.  The normal thing to do is to work a 9-5 on a successful career with a couple of happy kids who always bring the most adorable cupcakes in for class parties.  Oh, and run marathons on the weekends, write for a successful blog, and be a smart and well-read reader, all while looking fresh and clean and impeccably dressed.

How the hell do you do it?

Luckily for me, this was a one-week-only type of thing for me, and I’ll be going back to my usual all-on-or-all-off messed up schedule that I enjoy so much.  But it opened my eyes to the way the rest of the world lives, and it leaves me asking the same question over and over.

How the fuck do you do it?

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Chelsey McCardell July 24, 2011, 11:13 am

    As a teacher I am still trying to figure out how people can be with kids all day and then go home to their own offspring and still be a good parent…

  • Camels & Chocolate July 24, 2011, 4:00 pm

    DUDE, I FEEL YA. While a 60- to 80-hour work week is probably the norm for me, I went in for one of my employers last summer for three days (and that’s it) and worked 8-5 days and I was absolutely zonked. How did I used to do that daily? While I’m still at my desk in my apartment more hours a day than that, somehow it’s not nearly as draining as logging the time in a cube!

  • Kate July 25, 2011, 8:35 am

    Dude. For fucking real. I have a regular schedule b/c I work for a tv show, BUT the hours are very odd–my earliest day is at 3:30pm and my latest days get me home at 12:30am. So I’ve got time in the mornings/early afternoons to do whatever the fuck I want. It’s so nice!
    I would hatehatehate to have to go back to the ” normal” workday.

  • Lauren July 26, 2011, 6:27 pm

    Hear hear! During college — for just one month of one summer — I worked my campus office job (which was normally a part-time gig) the full 9-to-5, five days a week. Slowly my soul evaporated through the window out of which I stared for 7 of the 8 painful hours each day. There was irreparable mental scarring. I haven’t worked a real job since.

  • Annah July 26, 2011, 7:55 pm

    Trust me it is NOT something I would choose if I was rich. But while these bills have to be paid 🙁 Must be done. Waaaaah.

    I missed you!

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