Since last Sunday (Jan. 26) I've been listening to concert recordings by my favorite rock band, and absolutely nothing else. Go ahead and look at the previous post. It's all there.
I started working at Time Out New York 12.5 years ago, as a part-time editor handling classical music exclusively. Two years later I became a full-time employee, maintaining my initial gig while also contributing to the larger section that covered all music not classical in the European-tradition sense of that term. I started to write regularly for The New York Times 7.5 years ago. Around a year after that, I became the Time Out not-classical music editor, adding more duties on top of those I was already handling, and, when I was most fortunate, hiring a short succession of talented, independent classical-music editors to work under my supervision.
In all of this I consider myself extremely lucky. However gruelling or dispiriting some aspects of those work situations could be, it's been an exhilarating ride, with more perks than I could ever count. That said, a substantial break has been coming for some time now.
This is it. I am on my first-ever sabbatical from both employers, and my first absence of more than two weeks' duration since college. I am not returning to the Time Out office, nor attending to any business relating to that publication, until Feb. 24. At the Times, where I took myself out of active rotation a week earlier, I plan to slip back into the routine two to three weeks from now – if everything else goes according to plan.
Those who know me personally are aware that Big Things Are Afoot in my so-called private life. Beyond that, however, is a need to step back, take stock and really think about what's next. As I posted elsewhere, this is not a hermitage; it's a recalibration, a rethinking of boundaries, a redirecting of energies and preparation for the future to come calling.
Or maybe the best word is reboot. Some things had started to malfunction rather badly; others were just stuck, frozen. And in a metaphysical sense at the very least, the situations to which I'll be returning won't be the ones I left. Meanwhile, for the time being I'm doing a lot of overdue housework, a bit of necessary homework and hopefully some long-delayed maintenance here on this blog.
As for that playlist, I thought about making up some official-sounding explanation about how listening to a long string of familiar songs in similar-yet-disparate performances was meant to sharpen my ear and hone my attention to detail. As if. I'm gorging on comfort food, plain and simple, and limiting my diet to music I know I'm going to enjoy – and toward which I feel absolutely no professional responsibility or obligation whatsoever.
See you on the other side.