Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Early Mornings, Late Nights

I've been leaving for work at 6:45 a.m. and not getting home until 9 p.m. lately. More developments in the Red Lake, Minn. school shooting means more news to write about. I'm exhausted, but just wanted to post a couple of things before I collapse on the floor.

Running: A big fat zero today. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Niente. My ass was pretty much glued to my chair for 13 hours and my phone stuck to my ear in trying to reach everyone from officials in Red Lake to the FBI to the National Association of School Psychologists.

Saving and Spending: I took the Metro today, which meant I had time to read other news in the world besides the Minnesota school shooting case. I read a thought-provoking essay in Monday's Wall Street Journal, called "Keeping Our Balance." It's about how we have to make all sorts of complex financial decisions - i.e. managing our 401ks and stocks, socking away enough in our retirement plans, paying off our mortgages and graduate student loans - and how sometime we're not sure if we're making the right decisions.

So to counteract that feeling of not being in control, we tend to micro-manage our smaller, quotidian financial decisions. Here's a small excerpt of the essay, by WSJ news editor George Anders:

"So how do we cope? The ballast ... is the small stuff over which we do have control.... Those spending patterns become our emotional counterbalance. We can adjust them up or down until we feel safely stabilized again.

"Take something as simple as refilling the gasoline tank. Sometimes we refuel without paying the least attention to price; other days - days we feel out of financial control - we drive forever in search of a service station that can save us three cents a gallon. The stakes are puny as can be: 50 cents at most. But this isn't about pocket change. It's about needing some way to seem responsible and shrewd, when our conscience is whispering: "Most of the time, you're flighty and stupid."

I understand what Anders means. However, I'm the exact opposite. For instance, 99 percent of the time, I'm a proud penny-pincher. I usually seek out the gas station with the cheapest gas. Even though I'm a coffee addict, I only go to Starbucks a few times a month. And on the rare occasion I drive to work, I park a half-mile away from the office, in the free (but illegal) lot next to a county park, instead of forking over $8 to a parking attendant in the garage next to my office.

So I don't go on the Big Save when I feel financially off-kilter, as I'm doing all right in that arena. But when I'm emotionally off-kilter, my defenses are down. I feel like I should treat myself just a little bit.

Little Splurges: So I've been to Starbucks three days in a row for $4 grande skim, extra-dry cappuccinos instead of drinking the office swill. I've eaten lunch at my favorite little Japanese diner for the past two days instead of bringing my lunch from home. And on Friday I'm getting a manicure - something I've done maybe only three times in my life.

What do you guys do when you're overworked and stressed out? Besides run, I mean.


  1. What do I do? Well, EAT! Yeah, I'll buy some food I don't normaly eat and have at it. A pint of guacamole? You bet!

    That and make chocolate. I don't get alot of time to make it so its become a real treat to have the time.

  2. Good points in that article. It good to see it from the psychological point of view.

    I destress by shopping for shoes and purses, then I feel guilty so I hide them in my vehicle until I nearly forget at which point I decide if I want to keep them or return.

  3. What do you mean 'besides run'? There's something else I could be doing?!


    I'm a big fan of mindless-movie-night with bad-for-me snacks and lots of cuddling with the canines and the hubby.

  4. I like to have a bottle or two of red wine...then see if I can run or ride or swim what ever is on my schedule the next day. I find some of my best work outs are with hangovers due to stress.

  5. I shop for indulgent things like candles, incense, perfume, chocolate, DVDs, nothing I need. I also order sushi !

  6. I am a stress-eater from way back. A feel-sorry-for-me fest. All the bad stuff. So my goal is not to get stressed too often!

  7. Ahhh, yes, the late night. I left work Friday night at 10:00 after getting there earlier than usual. Working late, I get this nervous twitch at about 6:15 and I tell myself I won't be much longer. Then the clock read 7:45 and my stomach starts to sink because I don't think I can leave anytime soon. By 9:00 I dig in, and with a last mile burst, finish what needs to be done before the clock "officially" hits 10:00.

    Ironically, I tend to work late when I get stressed out. Huh. But what I'll do to "treat" myself when I'm in stresser mode is not turn on my computer at home. It makes me feels like I can be part of the analog world for a little while, escape the digital paralysis I get at work with the hundred of emails that can flood my Inbox on some days.