Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Did I Used to Do with All that Free Time?

When I started thinking the other day about what I do all day long I was taken back to the days of my youth; transported back to my teen years.  In an effort to try to find time to actually WRITE instead of just working full time as a sales & marketing manager promoting my first book (in addition to part-time editing, part-time book reviewer, and any other daily hat I may wear), I started thinking about a typical day in my life.

It suddenly hit me - I literally have no time to do anything.  And when I do find time to do stuff other than the above list my brain so resembles cleanup after a tornado that I can’t pull it together to get anything else crammed in there.  So I end up pulling back from everything instead.

Hockey games, favorite shows on DVR, I miss you so of course I’ll go to happy hour, editing writing for my critique group ends up waiting until the last minute, exploring new territory in AZ, helping people move, laundry, banking, don’t forget to use coupons, yes the printer is out of toner, ugh I forgot to write down my mileage again, you haven’t eaten lunch yet, you’re smoking too much, that pile of shit in the office should get posted on craigslist, be ready to exercise every day at 4:00, how much did we spend at the gas station, should I move money from the other account, I need to start packing to move, can I continue this career without bringing in a traditional salary and have us remain above water now that we’re buying a house, how much will a landscape crew cost, don’t skip your dentist appointment, we’ve been out of groceries for 5 days, what do you mean you’re not on pintrest, when’s the last time you created a treasury, how many books have I sold this week, what can I do to get out there more…

As you can see I’m a little frantic and could really use a break.  But I keep trying to figure it out and end up at a loss - what I need a break from I’m not really even sure.  I’d say all of it but that sounds lazy (and not my style).  I mean, I should have some responsibility as an adult.  I just wonder if it’s only me who ends up filling up to the breaking point with no release and then abandons everything in an effort to try to regain control.  Manic.

I can’t help but ask myself - What is it in my life now that causes me grave moments of stress not present in years past?

I’m old.  Old by internet standards anyway.  There weren’t even CD’s when I was a kid.  I grew up on Atari 2600, black & white Creature Double Feature on Saturday mornings, using a pen and paper in class to take notes, and we had a rotary dial phone.  We went outside to play most of the time or sat inside reading a book.  Was that just me?  I could’ve sworn everyone I knew did the same thing back then.  Tell me it wasn’t just those of us in Arlington.

My generation grew up without iPods and computers.  I spent a healthy chunk of my time writing fiction stories in a journal.  One of them is almost an entire notebook length and I didn’t feel like I was out of the loop while I was doing it.  Of course, I also wasn't selling my work back then.

These days, the pressure to network and mingle online is rampant.  You can’t swing a blog without hitting a tweet.  I probably dated myself just talking about an iPod…I’m sure there’s some new technology out already that replaces it and people reading this are shaking their heads asking what’s wrong with me being so behind the times.

We grew to embrace the internet, networking, blogging, connecting on Facebook, etc. but I keep thinking that there had to be an exchange of something in order to find the time to do all this stuff online.  Wasn’t there?  Or am I so stressed because all that life stuff is there and I added the online stuff to the mounting pile of ADD in my head?

So I ask, instead of ‘what did I used to do with all that free time?’ maybe the more appropriate question is ‘did I ever really have any free time to begin with?’

As a teenager my days were filled with yapping for countless hours on the telephone.  There were times I was told I should’ve been born with a receiver attached to my hand.  And obviously that meant I wasn’t alone in my addiction, someone had to be on the other end of the line with me.  In addition to phone calls I also found myself hanging out over friend’s houses, doing sports, exercising, going to the movies, seeing my boyfriend-du-jour, going out on a Friday night, shopping, laundry…

And all that got compounded by the world inside the monitor.  Keeping in touch has a whole new meaning today.  Writing has turned from penning cute little fiction drafts into countless emails and status updates.

So is all of this connecting, marketing, networking online and off really what my career is now?  Should I just accept the fact that dishes sit in my sink for three days, laundry piles up for weeks on end, friendships fall by the wayside, I have to spread myself so thin just to make it in today’s world?  Ugh, it’s exhausting but a Catch-22.

If you don’t stay connected no one finds your work, but if you stay connected there’s hardly time to do your work.

Some days I just want to chuck it all and disappear.  Today is one of those days.  Tomorrow I’ll probably be okay but right now the list of things to do has grown to the point of unmanageable again.  I’m tired of thinking, tired of time management, just tired.  I need a break.  I just can’t seem to figure out where to find the time to take it.


jamiessmiles said...

I feel lost without the constant connection. I grew up with texting. Yet even with my iPhone I struggle to stay connected these days. Hope things slow down a bit and let you catch your breath.

lettersfromlaunna said...

I am a blackberry fanatic but with my 30 day cleanse of social media, I found out I could handle it, it wasn't the end of the world... I did write a lot more then and I still try to write at least once a day plus read all kinds of blogs :)

Great post Jenn

Alice said...

Oh, hell yes!

Judi FitzPatrick said...

I'm right there with you, sista', er, daughta'. There was so much going on at once I couldn't do any of it well.

I finally decided to concentrate on one thing at a time, leave things undone if necessary, and then take time for me - just to be.

So far it seems to be working. I'll keep you posted!

Love, Mum

#1Nana said...

I remember those days...and don't miss them! There was a time in my life that I thought spending a weekend in jail would be heaven. No kids or chores and I could sleep all weekend. I never had the opportunity to test out that theory. Just today I was thinking how great it is to be retired and have no responsibilities. I don't need to go away for the weekend because it is quiet and peaceful at home. Damm, life is good!

Anonymous said...

Wow... you've read my mind, uncluttered it, and put it in a blog post. I actually read this two days ago and been thinking about it ever since, because there's a million different ways I could respond to it. I'll narrow it down to three:

...I have very few friends/online friends, esp. compared to most people. But the ones I do have (present company included) are interesting, engaging, and write as much--if not more--than I do. Which gives me the illusion of popularity... and the perils of being overwhelmed by it.

...I came upstairs to write, but figured I should respond to a few blogs before I got started. That was 90 mins ago. I no longer have time to write. WTF?!?

...I don't have an iPhone or an iPad, and my iPod is at least seven years old. The Nintendo Wii was too advanced for me, and I don't have a Twitter or a Tumblr or any of that crap--just a FB page and a blog. I used to tell myself never to fall behind the times, but ya know what? F*ck it. I'm happy to be an 80's kid, and I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. Our generation rules!

Well, it appears I've left an equally epic comment on your blog! Are we bloggy BFFs or what? ;-P

Linda Myers said...

I have a long list also. I used to think when I retired I would read, read, read. I do read more now than when I was working, but not as much as I thought I would.

I did manage to publish a book, but so far haven't gotten my arms around getting it out there. Next month!

Rosebud Collection said...

Funny how life is..When I was raising our five daughters, was very disciplined..I didn't waste time. Thought, when I have time, I will paint and do all that I wanted..Guess what? I am like a slug. Oh well, this is another learning experience..just hope I get my act together..