Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Later, When I Have Time."

Hey there, to whomever is reading this.  It's been a while, huh?  The reason I haven't posted anything to this blog was because, earlier this month, I made the decision to stop writing.  
That's actually not completely accurate, though I did go the longest stretch I can remember in my adult life without writing a thing.  I want six days straight without writing anything.  Nothing in my journal.  Didn't work on any story, novel, script or blog entry.  I was trying to see if I really NEEDED to write.  I was trying to see if I could make a habit of "not-writing."  
It happened because of an expired driver's license.  My expired driver's license.  
It went something like this...
About a month ago I tried to use my FSA card to pay for a prescription and found out it it was suspended.  A "Flexible Spending Account" card is like a credit card, for those who don't have one.  It's part of the health insurance plan I have.  They take part of my paycheck out, before taxes, and put it into a fund I can use to pay for co-pays, prescriptions, doctor visits, things like that.  They give me a credit card that pulls money from that account.  
In recent years they've changed the rules on using it that make it less convenient.  Even though it works like a credit card at the time of purchase, I often have to provide "substantiation" for my purchases, copies of receipts or EOBs (Explanations of Benefits) to show that it was for a covered expense.  I get these requests for substantiation in the mail.  When I do, I often put them in a In Basket on my desk at home to take care of.  Later, when I have time.  
Remember that phrase; "Later, when I have time."  
When the pharmacy told me my FSA card was denied, I immediately guessed what might have happened.  "Later, when I have time," had become, "too late, gotta fix this now."  I contacted the company that handles my FSA and confirmed what it was they wanted (I could write a blog on dealing with them alone, since the charges they were questioning were reoccurring charges, making me wonder why they needed to substantiate them every...  Single...  Time, but I digress).  
That night, when I got home from work after speaking to the FSA people, I pull out all the paperwork that had been building up in my In Basket.  I needed to find the receipts, which I remembered getting, for the two charges the FSA people said I needed to substantiate.  I started pulling out all the papers and envelopes there, organizing them.  
There was one from the DMV.  It had been opened, which meant I had looked inside and then immediately set it aside.  This time I pulled out the papers from the envelope to get a better look.  
It was a notice telling me that I was eligible to renew my driver's license online.  As long as I had not any changes to some basic health related questions, regarding eyesight or passing out, or my address hadn't changed, I could go online, pay the $32.00 fee, and expect my new driver's license, using the photo they had on file for me, within two to three weeks.  
The notice warned me that I should take care of this before my license actually expired.  It had been mailed to me in February of this year.  A month before my license was due to expire in March.  
Feeling really stupid, I got online to see what I needed to do, if I could still renew online.  The DMV website is not the most search friendly portal on the internet.  Not by any means.  I did find a phone number to an automated help line.  I went round and round through the menus they offered until the computerized voice asked if my license had already expired.  When I pressed #1 for "Yes," I got a response telling me that I needed make an appointment to visit a DMV, bringing my original birth certificate and social security card, which would be verified while I waited, along with some completed forms, which I couldn't find on the website, in order to get my license reinstated.  
It was about this time that I sat down on my living room floor, surrounded by the papers I had been going through, and started to curse.  I cursed myself for being such an idiot.  I cursed myself for wasting so much time.  
You see, the reason why I had set aside this notice for "Later, when I have time," is because I had been putting myself on a very tight schedule.  I would wake up in the morning at 4:30 AM to put in my writing, going until at least 6 AM, sometimes even longer, before getting ready for work in a hurry and rushing out the door to the office.  I would then spend nine, ten, sometimes even thirteen hours a day, taking care of business for my employer.  If I managed to sneak out early, I'd try, as often as I could, to sneak to the gym to at least do 30 minutes of cardio.  Increasingly though, more often than not, I would come home in time to grab something to eat and go to bed.  The process would be repeated throughout the week.  
On Saturday, if I found a way to avoid going into the office to catch up, I would crash.  I would be lazy all day, not doing much of anything.  On Sunday, I'd be scrambling to catch up on whatever I needed to do to get ready for the week.  Laundry, bills, what little "Later, when I have time" stuff that I could pull from the In Basket.  
Like a tumor, the pile of stuff had been growing.  I kept telling myself I would get to it.  Later.  When I had time.  
At that moment, knowing I had been unknowingly (or forgettingly?) breaking the law by driving without a valid license for eight months or so, I felt completely stupid.  It was a similar feeling I had, years ago, when I added up what I owed on all my credit cards and discovered that I was over $16,000 in debt.  A problem had been created that I hadn't noticed until I couldn't ignore it.  
With my credit card debt, I had no one to blame for myself.  With my current situation, I focused my attention on what I thought was the culprit.  
My writing.  
More specifically, I decided it was the time I'd been spending writing that was the problem.  Every day, for an hour and a half to two hours, sometimes three or four hours on the weekend, I was sitting there trying to make up lies that other people would want to read.  And for what?  What had this effort, repeated almost every day for twenty, thirty-some-odd years given me in return?  A handful of publication credits.  A huge pile of rejection notices.  And recently, a mountain of frustration.  
Wouldn't it be better, I told myself, to use that time to take care of things truly important?  Like...  Renewing my driver's license in a timely fashion.  Or sending in my substantiation so I could buy my medicine.  Or even just washing dishes, so I didn't have a sink full waiting for the weekend, taking up some of that precious, "Later, when I have time," time.  
Or even more basic things, like getting a full night's sleep.  Or working out before I went to work.  
So I decided to give up my writing time.  I would make it my "Later, when I have time," time.  Or even just my getting the sleep I need time.  
And that's what I did.  And that's why I haven't written or posted anything since then.  I told myself that it was the adult thing to do.  It was the mature decision.  I was going to stop wasting time.  I was going to give up the writing habit as someone trying to quit smoking would do.  
Then, I got this email.  
To be continued...


Anonymous Ann said...


November 27, 2013 at 6:52 PM  

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