Busyness as a disease

I have decided to say NO to more things on the calendar.

busy.WaitingSunday, March 1 was a very full day. We went to the early service at church (8:30).

Then I taught a class for adult education about the book The New Jim Crow (9:30), sang at choir and read scripture at the second church service (10:45), and watched The Daughter and other kids perform The Gospel According to the Beatles (12:15). Afterward, the parents-in-law came over for dinner.

After they left, I said to The Wife that, had I not had all of those things on the agenda that day, I might have stayed home sick from church.

So you would THINK I would have had the common sense to stay home from work the next day, on Monday; I did not. I thought that, because I had a particular project to do on deadline, and since we’re behind on reference, and because I needed to take Friday off that week, I BETTER go to work.

What a mistake! I’m sitting at my desk, but I am unable to focus, with a sore throat, and probably a fever. I decide to take the next bus home out of Corporate (frickin’) Woods, but, unfortunately, there’s NOTHING leaving between 9:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. I muddle through the morning, find my way home and to bed. Stay home on Tuesday, I tell myself, and THIS time I listened to him.

Somewhere during my incapacitation, I come across an article that brought me up short: Busy Is a Sickness.

The American Psychological Association has published its Stress In America survey since 2007. They find that the majority of Americans recognize that their stress exceeds levels necessary to maintain good health. The most frequent reason they cite for not addressing the problem?

Being too busy.

It’s a vicious cycle.

When I used to call my late parents on the phone, and would ask them how they were doing, they’d almost always inevitably say, “Busy, but good.” Sometimes, they would reply, “Good, but busy.”

As the article notes:

It’s busyness we control.

Self-created stress.

I’m so busy that I decided that I don’t have time to be ill? I have about 125 sick days and get another day and a half each month. This is NO exaggeration.

And speaking of NO, one of the things I have decided is to say NO to more things on the calendar. There are plenty of good causes, learning opportunities, interesting events. Unfortunately, I’m not at a point to squeeze any more in.

Sidebar: have you noticed that more and more retired people say they are busier now than they were when they were working?

Last week, one of my library colleagues sent me UCLA Mindful Awareness – Free Guided Meditations, which I have just started to do, even though I might have otherwise argued that I don’t have time. I NEED to have less busyness, and this may help.

Taking the time to see

I need to remember to spend more time observing and less time with busyness.


I was waiting for the bus after work. Ofttimes, I’d pull out a magazine or newspaper to read, and I almost ALWAYS have something to read. But on this particular day – and it was a particularly lovely afternoon – I just didn’t feel like it. Using my backpack as a pillow, I lay on this granite slab in front of my work building and just observed. My goodness, the New York State flag is REALLY frayed, much worse than the US flag. I had never even noticed this before.

I tend, I think, to observe more than the average person, some of it, admittedly, mundane. Most of them get on the bus, or in their cars and immediately get on some sort of electronic device, lest not doing so would leave them adrift in the world. (That state law banning handheld devices while driving? A joke around here.)

One of the elevators in our building opens to let people on, then closes, opens, closes, opens, then when it finally closes, it buzzes as though someone had been holding the door open.

We have new phones at home. Actually, I bought them 14 months ago but didn’t install them for almost a year, when the phones suddenly going dead were too much of an irritation. What I didn’t know is that the phone announces the caller, usually badly. “Call from. Shen-ec-tdy. En why.” (That was supposed to be Skin-EC-ta-dy.) And it does it two times, then cuts out after ‘Call from’ on the third round. You have no idea how much silly, but cheap, entertainment value I get from that. (Some have suggested that I am easily amused…)

Friends are amazed by how well I know the WALK light patterns of irregular intersections in the city of Albany. I take it as a defensive measure against getting run over.

I need to remember to spend more time observing and less time with busyness, filling every available minute. It’s fun, and it relaxes me.

Feel the need to LISTEN to See by the Rascals.

The “no time to blog” blogpost

Our office may be moving back downtown.

This is how I know it was a busy autumn: this year will be the first in a decade that I did not donate blood at least six times, only five. To be fair, I DID actually go down to the Empire State Plaza (the Egg, for you Albanians) back in late October but could not get into the building. As it turns out the Governor was holding a booze summit and so I couldn’t get to the regular donor site, though I had time before my dentist appointment.

I seem to have taken off a lot of days from work in November, one for Hurricane Sandy, one to take the daughter to the ER, one to go see Wicked, two because my wife was having two minor surgeries and my daughter had a half-day of school, two for Thanksgiving, a half-day for a doctor’s appointment. As Yul Brynner regularly said, “et cetera, et cetera.”

The local bus company changed its routes, and I found myself waiting an hour for transportation that was never going to come.

The Daughter is going to bed later AND getting up earlier, cutting into my wife’s prep time for school, my blogging time, and both of our sleep times.

I performed in two different choir concerts, plus attended a Friends of the Library event, a comic book show, and did the usual stuff such as raking. Then Sunday past, attended TWO concerts.

Since it’s a low content/energy day, let me tell you the latest rumor at work: our office may be moving back downtown, I’m guessing around May, since we moved almost eight years ago in that month. I currently work in Corporate (frickin’) Woods, this soulless suburbany place with no sidewalks, and the drivers motor around it as though there are no pedestrians. Save for a bank, it has none of the amenities that downtown offering, such as going to the post office or a store or a restaurant, or MY bank, or my eye doctor or my dentist. I’d be taking off far fewer days if we were downtown. It takes me two buses to get to work now, but it would only take me one if we were back in civilization, with no fewer than six different buses that could get me from downtown to within three blocks of my home.

A real blog post manana. And the next day. And the 8th…

I saw someone on Facebook pass along the suggestion to send Christmas cards to “A Recovering American Soldier” at Walter Reed Hospital. PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT. As this Snopes.com report explains: “In these times of heightened security, mail from strangers to unnamed soldiers must, for everyone’s safety, must be discarded unopened.” You CAN send cards via Holiday Mail for Heroes, a Red Cross project, but it must be postmarked by December 7, or it won’t reach its intended destination either.

According to the NY Times, Bazooka, creators of Bazooka Joe gum, will be getting rid of their famous comic strips.

30-Day Challenge: Day 22- Picture Of You On This Day

This week is extraordinarily convoluted.

OK, I don’t know how to take a picture of me on this day. I gave my wife a digital camera for Christmas, 2007. She doesn’t know how to use it either. I have actually taken pictures accidentally with my cell phone but haven’t figured out: 1) how I did it or 2) how to retrieve them.

Now, to be fair, neither of us have put much effort into it; always something more pressing. I suppose I could have asked someone else, but I am disinclined.

So this is a picture I took of myself with a one-use camera a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I intentionally wanted to look crazed; I’m not ALWAYS looking crazed, I don’t think. And the Miles Davis puffy cheeks were affectations as well.

Arthur, the AmeriNZ guy, talks about the peculiarity of saying one is busy when one is always busy. Well, I’m not, usually. But this week is extraordinarily convoluted.

Monday morning: Carol had meeting, brings daughter to my work for a couple of hours.
Monday afternoon: I get long-needed haircut, not so much for the hair on the top of my head as much as the stuff on the chin.
Wednesday morning: donate blood.
Thursday evening: choir party, while the wife and daughter go to wedding rehearsal.
Friday morning: closing on a home equity loan. Actually, it’s a refi, for about 2.5 percentage points lower than it was originally. Well worth it.
And this weekend is the aforementioned wedding, which is a two-day affair.
This plus, you know, actually trying to get work done, writing the blog, living the life. Haven’t read the paper since Sunday.

So that’s all I’ve got today.
Except for this story, which REALLY irritates me:
Los Angeles Times | Sept. 2, 2010 | 8:31 a.m.

State prosecutors have asked a judge to reverse her decision to overturn the murder conviction of a man who was set free last year after serving 26 years in prison.

Bruce Lisker, who was accused of killing his mother in 1985, should be sent back to prison because the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in another case that inmates should not be allowed to file late petitions for release even if they can prove they are innocent, according to the attorney general’s motion filed late Wednesday.

Lisker had missed a federal deadline in which to file his petition but was allowed to pursue the constitutional claims in his case because he met an “actual innocence” exception, the judge had ruled.

Let’s not let a little thing like innocence get in the way of the process?
A Temptations song appropriate for the date.

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