FRANK TALK ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIVES

2011 Highlights

In Notes on December 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I’ll be putting Work Stew on a low simmer for the next two weeks.

As a philandering politician might say, “I want to spend more time with my family.” Seriously. They look ornery, but they’re actually quite appealing.

In January, I’ll go back to editing essays and conducting interviews.

I also plan to publish a second piece of my own: ‘lessons learned’ from the 60 plus essays and interviews collected so far. If there’s any particular take-away that you think should be included on that list, please let me know.

In the meantime, here (in the order they were published) is a rundown of the five most widely read Work Stew essays from this year:

Why I Don’t Work in an Office

By Samantha Cole

People who graduated from my high school were never supposed to need a tool belt for work. At the small private girls’ school in a wealthy Connecticut town, there were no vocational courses offered. Freshman year, my best friend and I signed up to take wood shop at the affiliated boys’ school, but the course was cancelled once it was clear that we two girls were the only ones who had shown any interest. Parents sent their kids to this expensive and exclusive prep school so they’d have an advantage getting into the very “best” colleges. When I attended in the mid-’80s, the parking lot was full of European imports with college stickers in the back windshields. The more Ivy League institutions you could lay claim to, the more cachet your BMW had. These were not people who built things. These were people who commissioned things to be built for them. Read on…

*****

From the Outside Looking In

By Lindsay Moran

Since I resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 and wrote Blowing My Cover, a memoir about my experience in the CIA’s clandestine service, I frequently field the same question from interviewers, friends and other curious parties: Do you ever regret leaving?

I have always answered truthfully, “No.” I left the CIA for reasons both personal and ideological. Personally, I didn’t want to continue leading a double life—lying to my family and friends, and becoming further isolated from them, and to a certain extent, reality. Ideologically, I had become disillusioned with the organization that I’d once revered, but which from the inside looking out had proved alarmingly dysfunctional. Read on…

*****

Stuck in a Moment

By Tasha Huebner

Damn, I was arrogant.

“Hmph,” I smirked, even with a bit of an eye roll thrown in for good measure. “I’ll never be one of those people trying to sell more cornflakes, or—god forbid—figuring out what color hats the Keebler Elves should wear. I’m going to do something a little more important than that.”

So, with Wharton MBA in hand, I set out to conquer the world, self-styled Master of the Universe that I was. And what kind of important things am I doing now? Let’s see. Today I was out at my garden plot fussing over the tomato plants, because I’m hoping that later in the summer I’ll have enough to sell and make at least a few hundred dollars. Read on…

*****

Watch Us Work It

A reflection on “work” by Devo founder, Gerald V. Casale 

Work. Workin’ it. Workin’ for the weekend. Workin’ for the man!

James Brown was “the hardest workin’ man in show business.” But was he workin’? If it’s fun, it’s not work. You “work” to make money so that hopefully some day you won’t have to work. Work implies a certain amount of drudgery. You work to survive. You tolerate your boss. You clock in and clock out. You feel compromised, unfulfilled, and would rather be somewhere else. You move down the line in quiet resignation. That’s usually what is defined as work (i.e. a job). But what if you like your job? Is it work? Read on…

*****

My Secret Identity

By Terri Rowe

Secret identities aren’t just for super heroes. You might not know it to look at me, but I have one, too. In my everyday life, I am an ordinary blue-collar worker. I have held a wide variety of jobs since my youth, from food service to factory. But there is more to me than what you see.

For the past 17 years, I worked at a tier-one auto parts supply plant. I assembled the components of automotive interiors: headliners, floor consoles, overhead consoles. These days, I continue to work in manufacturing. However, my role will soon be changing as I train to become a technical operator focused on the building of hybrid batteries. The work I do on a daily basis consumes my energy and time, but it isn’t who I really am. Read on…

Photos provided by Chris Walton, Samantha Cole, Lindsay Moran, Tasha Huebner, Gerald Casale, and Terri Rowe.

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