Tag Archives: work

How Do You Spend Your Time?

14 Sep


American Time Use Survey – measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities, such as paid work, childcare, volunteering, and socializing.

Not much fascinates me more than what you’re doing in your house right now. I know that sounds weird, but I just want to know how you spend your time. When I walk the dogs at night I “accidentally” see people walking past windows. I see people on couches with magazines. I see people cleaning up dinner’s mess.

Yes, I look in your windows, but I assure you it’s passive voyeurism. I don’t stop to gawk. That would be different.

Most people sit around watching TV in the evenings. Tell me what you’re watching. If I walk by and I can see your television, in those few seconds, I’m trying to see if I recognize anything. I know right away if you’re watching rugby, cricket or football. (I’m in England so when I say football I mean soccer and if you’re in the USA, you’re probably not watching rugby or cricket, and probably not soccer.) Sometimes I see the Netflix home screen, waiting for the next selection. (Where’d you go? Are you asleep on the couch?)

So your task is to begin writing about how you spend your time as often as possible. It’s like a journal, but public and for my entertainment, not your self-improvement. I want to know the details of your activities and the thoughts you have during these activities. What did you eat today and why? Do you take long showers? What are you reading? Oh, you don’t read? Why not?

It won’t be fair if I don’t share. Here is my Monday morning up until noon.

Time awake: 4:30 a.m.
Time out of bed: 5:00 a.m.

I weighed myself and did 25 jumping jacks. I walked groggily down to the living room and meditated for 23 minutes. I couldn’t sit still and labeled the session a failure even though meditating at all is a success.

I washed some dishes by hand.

I fixed my “morning drink” which I can’t call coffee or tea because it’s weirdly both.

My Morning Drink: .25 teaspoons of matcha green tea powder, one scoop of decaffeinated instant coffee, and a scoop of Bambu coffee alternative, 200 ml of rice milk, and hot water to fill the rest of the mug.

I unrolled my wife’s yoga mat in the living room, set down my drink, turned on Netflix and started to watch the first episode of the first season of American Horror Story. I didn’t do yoga, but what I call deep stretching. Seven minutes later, I switched to a Hungarian film called “White God.” Some minutes later all stretched and limber I turned it off and went into the kitchen.

For months I’ve been eating a bizarre combination of foods mixed together like a thick stew because 1) I’m in a “health nut” phase of my life 2) I actually enjoy the taste and consistency 3) I always have food in my bag when I get hungry on my bicycle or out walking 4) I wanted to get down to my optimal weight.

Some of the ingredients are always the same and others are substituted in and out, especially the foods listed below in grams.

This was Monday’s Green Slop Superman Food:

One tablespoon each of hemp powder, hemp seeds, cacao powder, carob powder, nutritional yeast flakes, raw amaranth, chia seeds, oat bran, wheat germ, maca powder, cacao nibs, raw buckwheat groats, dried unsweetened coconut, pea protein, and bee pollen.

One teaspoon each of lucuma powder, spirulina powder,  and wheat grass powder.

Two teaspoons of cinnamon.
Three teaspoons of stevia powder.

In grams: rolled oats (37), dried cherries ( 18), plain soy yogurt (100), mashed tofu (50), raisins (30), mashed banana (82), pumpkin seeds (9), peanut butter (24), blueberries (150), spinach (79), matcha powder (3), and brazil nuts (18)

I add enough water to soak up all the powders and then I divide it into equal portions in small plastic food containers with lids.

As I whipped this up I listened to Tara Brach’s Buddhism/psychology podcast.

I fixed my daughters’ school lunches.

I walked the dogs and picked up two piles of dog doo.

I walked Ainsley to school.

I cycled 3.8 miles to Costa Coffee in Kingston where I bought a large soya cappucino.

I wrote for two hours.

I went to WH Smith and bought a cover for Ainsley’s history workbook.

I cycled 3.8 miles back to Twickenham.

Okay, now you go.

Don’t Bother Me, I’m Busy Stressing About How Busy I Should Be

21 Jun

For the record, lest you think I’m an arrogant jerk (which I may be anyway), my Father’s Day post was only about 15% serious. I think it’s easy to tell, but I kept thinking about it when it was “out there.” Let’s balance it out right now: I’m a shit father and your daddy is awesome.

Okay. I feel better. Moving on . . . .

Here’s a nice essay about how people think they need to be busy all the time. Sadly, I have to include myself in this.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

If I have a lazy day, I feel like crap. I should have done this. I should have done that. Everyone else is accomplishing what they set out to do today, but me . . . 

Late morning and early afternoon are especially difficult for me. Generally, no matter what I’m doing, I think I should be doing something else. Then . . . evening, when leisure is socially accepted.

I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.

This scares people, that most of what we do doesn’t matter one goddam bit, but it’s comforting to me. I take the long view: Will this matter in five, ten, fifteen years? Whatever you’re doing, arguing with your partner, trying to get something “just right,” ask yourself how important it really is.

Example. One of our stupid domestic animals barfed on a couch. It looked like hummus. Just . . . gross. I clean up fresh messes right away, but this blob was deposited in the middle of the night, so it had been sitting there awhile when I walked right by it Thursday morning. An hour later, Jennifer saw and left it. Yesterday, I noticed it, like, twelve times. Oh shit, I have to clean that damn mess up.

It’s still there.

I have some guilt over this. To help me get over this guilt I remind myself that “most of what we do doesn’t matter.” In five years the couch will be gone. It won’t matter that I let the hummus barf sit there for 24 hours. It feels like an minor emergency now, but it’s the tiniest blip.

Each day I there are dozens of situations or decisions that are ultimately insignificant.

  • Oh my God, I forgot to feed the girls lunch. And dinner. 
  • I’m wearing the same clothes for the third straight day.
  • I confused desert and dessert in a blog post.
  • I laid around and did absolutely nothing all day.

Short term, I stress about this stuff. But really. Who frickin’ cares?

We’re all staying busy and worrying about every little thing when we should be outside sitting under a tree reading a book sipping on ultra-sweet lemonade. Each day is a challenge to remember to chill the eff out.

So, people, chill the f**! out with me.

Getting it from Behind on the Bumper Cars

5 Jan

My life is like a ride on the bumper cars at the Illinois State Fair: I switch directions often and crash into things, and all I walk away with is a sore neck.

I’ve been making and selling t-shirts online for six years. It’s part-time, easy, and I don’t have to talk to people. It’s perfect for me.

Still, last winter I shut it down so I could write every day. Then in the Spring, I woke up one day and realized I was done writing.  I re-opened the online stores and worked through the summer and fall. Then one cold day, again, overnight, I woke up and was a writer again. I tried to do both, but found myself neglecting the “business.” I have put the store “on vacation” five times this winter to catch up (people get cranky when their little t-shirts are late).

And within these shift are mini-shifts. I began two other blogs and posted around 15 times to them. Now, the newness is gone and I don’t like to think about them sitting out there, feeling neglected. Yes, blogs feel. I began a long writing project, a middle school novel aimed at my middle school daughter. I’m still “into” it, but will that last? That kind of project takes some dedication; dedication I might have . . . until opening day.

Every day I try to decide what to do. Should I do what I enjoy or stick with making money at what feels like a real job? I’m almost certain that whatever I decide to do now will change in mere months.

So. What the heck is going on with me? All I can figure out is that I’m suffering from some kind of seasonal affective disorder that changes my brain chemistry from November to March. In warm months I think about baseball and bicycles, but when it turns cold I read philosophy books and think about death.

Dr. Oz told me (not personally) to consider light therapy for seasonal affective disorder. Yesterday, I browsed Amazon for just that. I didn’t buy anything. Yet.

The thing is, I don’t feel depressed. I don’t feel sad and hopeless. But when you’re buried in depression it takes awhile to realize you’re in it.  Am I in it? Am I–right now!–figuring it out?

If it’s not lack of sunlight, it could be what I’m calling the “Too Much Freedom Hypothesis.” I’m fortunate to have this problem. Most people are stuck in crappy jobs they can’t walk away from. But it’s not all ice cream and puppy dogs living with this freedom. My only deadlines are self-imposed. In College I had due dates. Write a ten page paper by next Friday!  At work they expected me to show up at the SAME TIME EVERY DAY. They kept track of how many days I was late or “sick.” That all takes discipline. They’d hand me a stack of papers and expect it to be taken care of by a certain time. It’s easy to be a corporate slave. Just tell me what to do boss!

Do you know why some men can’t handle retirement? It’s the loss of a sense of purpose, of a sense of accomplishment. All of a sudden, they’re no longer “productive” members of society. Former executives are working fast food drive-throughs.

I “vacationed” the store on Tuesday. Today, I’m feeling some of this retirement distress.

In the end, my problems are probably a dash of depression, two tablespoons of plain-ol’ neurosis, a half cup of social anxiety, and a third of a cup of “too much freedom.”

And for the record, I’ve never liked the bumper cars.

Oh, you like the bumper cars, huh? Oh, look, here’s the merry-go-round, let’s do that.

With the bumper cars, I don’t like the interaction with the other drivers. If you ram into me good, face to face, I don’t like that moment when we’re sitting there looking at each other. Wipe that smirk off your face. I don’t go after people randomly either; I attack jerky-looking men (however, at a young age I do remember trailing cute girls intent on little love taps and never from behind).

And at this age–pushing forty–if you blindside me at full speed, bring in the damn stretcher ‘cuz I’m not walking out.

No, this guy would rather be sealed into a private pod and taken on a leisurely ride. An hour would be nice. Is there a ride where they hand out (clean) pillows beforehand?

Excuse me Mr. Carny, can you tuck me in?