what I mean to say is, be more like me

Firsties, I am not a morning person. I haven’t been a morning person since I was six years old and had –had– to be up at the butt crack for the Saturday morning lineup of cartoons.

If I remember correctly, the Smurfs came on at 5 a.m. And I could not miss it.

It was probably around middle school that I came to realize the benefits of sleeping in late. Namely, there wasn’t much going on before noon, and most of it didn’t start until I got there anyway.

I was the kid in college who never scheduled a class before 9:00, and I stayed up until at least 1 a.m. every night. Four hours, and I was good to go.

Now I need a comfortable nine hours if I am to feel remotely worthful in the morning, and I try to be in bed by 9:45.

So if I seem a little grumpy today, it’s because I’ve been doing the morning workout thing all week and it usually starts to catch up with me right…about…now.

I go running in the morning out of sheer necessity and nothing more. Those 95° days were damn near killin’ me. Plus, the hubs is home in the evenings now and I am highly unmotivated to exercise when I get home and my best bud just wants to hang out with me.

who could resist this mug?

While it’s not getting any easier to get up at 5:15, I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve actually stuck with it.

And really, I’m none the worse for wear except that sometimes I hit a wall around 3 p.m., in which I stare blankly at my computer screen and cannot find it in me to have a coherent thought. Oh, and I get hungry for lunch around 10 a.m.

My point? If I have one?

It occurred to me that it’s not the morning workout that’s getting to me. It’s that too much of my day is spent at my job.

If I could just get up, eat a decent breakfast, run, make coffee, read the paper, shower, and then go to work, and still be home before dark, I would be blissfully happy.

And it’s not that I dislike my job — I love it. I get to do interesting things, use my talents, be challenged, yada, yada, yada. I just have to do it so damned often.

All because I was born in a place that values work over leisure.

Did I mention we’re going to Europe in 10 days? So it’s been on the brain a lot lately.

Our friends in Germany want to know why we can’t stay longer. We explain that I just started a new job and I don’t have a lot of vacation time yet. But when two months off a year is the norm (and the minimum at that), it’s kind of a hard concept to grasp.

Last time we were in Europe was 2004. Other than, “what is wrong with your president,” the #1 question we were asked by Europeans was, “why do you Americans work so much?”

And the answer is, we don’t know. Somehow this whole idea of the American Dream got mixed up with the American 40 Hour (if you’re lucky) Week.

Read this, from RickSteves.com (who just happens to be my and my husband’s travel idol):

Europeans produce virtually the same per worker hour as Americans, even though their per capita income is about a third less. Why? They work fewer hours. Europeans prefer to work less, earn less, live more simply, and play more.

And this:

Let’s look at the numbers. Though the United States and Europe have comparable GDPs (both around $11 trillion), a few things need to be factored in to assess the overall quality of life. GDP figures count the entire economy — productive and non-productive. The United States spends half a trillion dollars ($500 billion) each year on its military (not counting the Iraq War), while Europe spends only $150 billion. The US spends more on legal services and health care. The United States consumes a third more energy. Europe has more doctors per thousand people (3.22 vs. 2.79), while the United States has higher infant mortality and shorter life span. When rated for healthcare fairness among developed nations, the United States was dead last. While the United States spends more per capita than any other nation on health care (over $5,000 per person), we’re one of only two developed nations (with South Africa) that don’t provide health insurance for their citizens. (We have more than 40 million citizens who can’t afford health insurance.) Compared to Europe, the United States has four times the murders per capita. With more than two million Americans in prison (a quarter of the world’s prison population), we have over seven times as many people in prison per capita than Europe .

America clings to the belief that more money and material wealth bring us happiness and the “good life.” But when all of these intangibles are factored into the big picture, you can see why Europeans believe that, while our economies may be roughly equal, their quality of life beats ours.

I’m not “bashing America,” okay? I don’t want to get into a big nasty debate on health care. I don’t want to talk about decriminalizing marijuana. I just think working less makes a whole lot of sense. And if everyone was a little more like me, we’d probably all be a lot happier.

Good day.

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13 thoughts on “what I mean to say is, be more like me

  1. But of course, the benefit of a capitalist society is that we have a RIGHT TO WORK 60 HOUR WEEKS! In those damn socialist countries, they expect you to take breaks! And pay you living wages! And take care of your health care! We as ‘mericans have the right to take on 10s of thousands of dollars of debt and have to work our asses off to never be able to repay them. I mean, on Soviet Russia…country pay you!

    Oh wait.

    😀

    Also, have I mentioned I HAVE NEVER BEEN ON A VACATION IN MY ENTIRE LIFE?

    Also, If you find anybody in Germany who would like to enter a fake marriage give em my number.

  2. I completely hear ya on the “morning workouts suck, but so does tearing yourself away from the fam at the end of a workday.” If I still had time to get the boy to school after a 6am run, I’d still be on it. But NOOOO, I’m waiting for it to cool down in the evenings before getting back into it again, and in the meantime I can hear myself getting fatter.

    Re: working like the Europeans: Hell yeah, I’m down with that. If you hear of any openings in the Ducati factory in Bologna, lemme know. I’ll even promise not to do the one-piece-at-a-time trick.

  3. I have a 4 day work week- but work 10 hour days! Sometimes I find myself wishing for more time during the work day (but only when I work days and get up at the buttcrack of dawn).

    Not a morning person either and totally wish America would figure out the European Lifestyle Secret. Oh, and driving like Germans. 😉

  4. I’m glad you’ve stuck to the morning workouts.

    I totally agree with the workday being too long. Especially since I could probably get most of my work done in well under 8 hours if I got the option. I mean… I’m here right now reading your blog… so yeah…

    Don’t mind me… I’m just at my cube livin’ the dream…

  5. I get up between 4-5am every morning…WORK! I run at night…because getting up at midnight to go running is not an option.

    sarcasm…Because of that, my brain blurred when I started reading your Marxist rant.

    Go over to Europe, don’t shave your legs for a week and come back here to be mistaken for Big Foot…/sarcasm

    I lived on the economy in Germany for a few years…and they cannot make television shows, movies or snack foods with Curry.

    Where are you headed?

  6. I’m not a morning person either. I sympathize.

    Not going to even touch the America vs Europe debate, other than to say that: if the gov’t instituted a mandatory 8-week vacation policy right now, it would not benefit the economic recovery process.

    But I understand the frustration. I was in Europe a couple of summers ago and was like, “what the? Why are they all drinking coffee at sidewalk tables at 11 AM?”

  7. There is no way in hell I would get up in the morning and exercise. I’ve planned on doing it many times, but the desire for more sleep is too strong. So now I go to yoga on my lunch break, and I go to yoga immediately after work. That doesn’t give me time to get comfortable at home, because once I get on the couch, I won’t get off it.

    And, yeah, I don’t understand why Americans work so hard. I’m pretty lucky. My job seems to understand there is a life/work balance, and they are flexible to a point, but it’s still a job that requires me to sit in a cube for 40 hours a week.

  8. Oh ma gawd, you’re getting up at 5 to run??! I know that must be rough for a non morning person. I will lie, cheat, and steal to get out of waking up early for anything. But like you, my job is scheduled for everyday.

    Damn those Euros. They’ve got the right idea about work.

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