August 2012 Column: I could spare a moment if I could only find the time

I work a lot.

I’m sure this is true of many people. I work seven days a week, eight hours a day; two of those days on a night shift. I’ve been doing this for eight years now, and no, it’s something to which I’ve never really gotten acclimated.

After returning home from my jobs, I have other work waiting for me- whatever freelance design project I have going on at the moment, or computer repair job that needs attention. Always something to take up my time. I tend to work so much that when I do have free time, I don’t know what to do with myself. Usually, I find more work to do. Either because that’s just what I am used to doing, or more likely, because there is always something to do- dishes, laundry, floors, taking a shower, exfoliating, what have you.

Or, writing a column. That’s work I like to put off until the last minute. I like to think it is because I work better under pressure, but secretly, I’m fairly certain that I’m too lazy to actually attempt to be funny unless something (like a deadline) is forcing me.

It’s always harder when I don’t have a topic; I tend to ramble in hopes that something cohesive will suddenly show up and give me something with which to work. Like now. Hopefully, you hadn’t noticed.

One of the can’t-be-put-off-any-longer jobs I recently did was to shampoo the carpets in the house. It hadn’t been done since … erm, a long, long time ago. I think they used to be white. Personally, I have nothing against a deep, rich off-gray color, but other people seem to, and they were really starting to smell in the summer heat (the carpets, not the other people.) Living with an incontinent dog for a few years will do that. To carpets. And probably other people as well.

We spent the day moving furniture and running the carpet cleaner, and at the end had a not-so-off-gray carpet any more, and a house that smelled much better.

Afterwards, I nearly killed our cat.

It was an accident- turns out mothballs are poisonous to pets, and you shouldn’t sprinkle them around your skirting to keep animals out from under your house, no matter what Mother Earth News in the 70s may have told you. (A chemical substance that kills insects can also harm a cat? Who’d’ve thunk it? Not me, apparently. Sorry, kitty. It was a rough few days during which he lost his meow, but a full recovery was made.)

I never know what to say when someone asks me what I do in my spare time. Usually, I say I work. What do I do after work? Other work. But what do you do for fun? Work is fun.

And what is spare time, anyway? Time is relative. While, for the most part, it’s a constant and never changes (Unless you’re travelling close to the speed of light, but I’m assuming no one reading this is doing so. If you are, you’ve probably already seen the ending I wrote, so save me some time and tell me now and I’ll just copy it down. No? Fine then.) But our perceptions of time vary wildly. That’s why a week waiting for a week’s vacation takes longer to traverse than the week of vacation will take. And watched pots never boil. And the hungrier you are, the slower a microwave takes to cook (However, if you ever find yourself standing in front of a microwave screaming at it to hurry up, you probably have a problem that needs helped.)

Add in that the perception of time is influenced by the frame of reference in which we are comparing the passage to, which is usually ourselves- when we are young, the wait between birthdays seems very long because one year equals a significant percentage of our entire life so far; but when we’re older, we’ve had so many birthdays and they come quicker every year that we tend to just forget about them unless we’re reminded by other people who can’t see that we’d really rather just be left alone. With cake.

The end result, however, is that no matter how we perceive our passage of time, there is still a finite amount for us to perceive before our time is done. How can any of it be spared? As long as you’re not hurting anyone else, who’s to tell you how to spend your time? If I do a lot of work after I work and I take vacation days to go do more and different work, and I enjoy it for the most part (why I enjoy it is probably something I should discuss with the same person who helps those who scream at kitchen appliances) who else has the right to tell me that I’m doing fun wrong, or that my hobbies should include something other than ‘being right all the time’?

The answer is, of course, no one. I know it’s the correct answer, because I’m an expert at my hobby.

Okay, fine- I’ll admit, occasionally, I’ll look at funny pictures of cats on the internet.

But really- who doesn’t have time for that?

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