To work, or not to work?

Sisyphus-for-web-2_0Longtime readers of this blog won’t need to be told that I have what could be politely called a vacation problem. It stands to reason, since I work at home, love what I do, and travel regularly to places I like as part of my job. Worse yet, I’m a professional writer, which means that even though I know better, a part of me can’t help but feel that no experience is complete until it’s been described in words. Add to all this the seductive ubiquity of the Web and you’ve got a recipe for…well, probably not outright workaholism, but certainly a state of being that will be all too familiar to anyone whose life and work, like mine, are very closely integrated. Am I “working” when I spend an evening at the Westside Theatre watching a performance of Satchmo at the Waldorf with a friend from out of town? Am I working now?

Whatever the answers to these questions, the fact remains that I rarely take full-fledged vacations. When Mrs. T and go out of town, it’s generally to see a show or visit a theater festival, and when we spend a longer stretch of time on our beloved Sanibel Island, I’ve usually got to work on a book, play, or libretto while we’re there, or at least knock out a couple of Wall Street Journal columns. The longest period of time that I’ve been away from home in decades was the five-week stint that I spent working on Satchmo and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington at the MacDowell Colony in 2012, and while it was near-pure bliss, it definitely wasn’t a vacation.

Stonington-CT-NoahsSo yes, I have something of a problem. It’s a nice one to have, but that doesn’t make it any less of a problem. Hence our plans for the week ahead: today Mrs. T and I are spending the evening at a family barbecue in rural Connecticut, and since we do love to be beside the sea, we’ll drive down on Tuesday to Stonington, the quaint little coastal town where we retreated for three happy days in between my visit to MacDowell and the start of rehearsals for Satchmo at the Waldorf. We’re staying there through Saturday, and I’ve already filed this Friday’s drama column and my monthly Commentary essay and pre-posted my blog entries for the week, meaning that I don’t have to do any writing during our holiday.

Will I break my professional fast? That remains to be seen. But I’ve packed a bagful of inviting-looking books and begged Mrs. T to do her damnedest to keep me from writing anything between now and Saturday night. (It’ll be a bad sign if you catch me tweeting.)

Cross your fingers, please.

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In memoriam: Handel’s “Dead March”

TV CAMERAThe “Dead March” from Handel’s Saul, performed by Howard Armin and the English Concert in 2009 in the Marktkirche Unser Lieben Frauen in Halle, Germany:

(This is the latest in a series of arts-related videos that appear in this space each Monday and Wednesday.)

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Almanac: Justice Holmes on duty

INK BOTTLE“It is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Memorial Day address, May 3, 1884

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