Eric Mayer

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This morning I woke to a pale pink sunrise. A few days ago, I admit, we didn't get up until nearly noon. Today, like yesterday, I will be working continuously, until I go to bed, on a legal article, with only a few breaks for necessities like eating and web surfing. Last month I mostly labored on the first draft of a mystery novel, knocking off whenever I finished a chapter, that being about as much exertion as my brain can manage in a single day, or so I've convinced myself.

I no longer have a schedule, aside from needing to get up early to haul the trash down to the road Thursdays, when there's enough trash to haul down, and a holiday hasn't pushed collection back until Friday, like this week.

Until my mid-forties I got up for school and work five days a week. Saturdays and Sundays were free along with the endless summers and long vacation breaks of my school days and, later, at my job, the few holidays marked in red on the wallet calendar given out for the new year, as well as those precious personal days. I wondered what it would be like to free of schedules, to be retired, because most of us who need to work for a living are required to show up somewhere every day whether we feel like it or not.

As it happens I won't ever be able to retire, unless I win the lottery, but freelancing at least liberates me from a schedule. I find myself reflecting on the situation only because it is unexpected, strange even. I had grown up believing sentient matter such as myself existed in only two states -- working at a job or retired. (And, perhaps the third state of "bestselling author" which sentient matter rarely appears in under normal conditions)

Now my life revolves around deadlines. Every job has a due date. Rather than juggling personal leave days and holidays I try to slide assignments this way and that. So many days on this, so many on that. If I agree to write this article by the end of January will I be able to finish the one I'm working on by the middle of March?

We have an old fashioned spring driven clock on the bookcase in the office. Sometimes, when I stop typing, I can hear it ticking, loudly, insistently. Better that than hearing the alarm every morning.

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