Lockdown: Shorter work weeks longer lives

A very long time ago, Cathy was giving one of her what’s-crazy-about-Hawaii monologues, this time about how many holidays we have here. It’s true we have some holidays people from outside the state would find puzzling. Prince Jonah Kuhio day, for example, right near the end of March. A state holiday. King Kamehameha Day in the early summer. A state holiday.

Okay, I said. But surely every other state has its own version of these holidays, right? Cathy insisted it just wasn’t so. So I looked it up, starting with her homestate of Oklahoma. And geez. Those poor Oklahomans. They pretty much had the full list of federal holidays plus maybe one more as a state-only holiday.

I went through some other culturally rich states, and pretty much found the same thing.

Here in the fiftieth state, we have New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January), Presidents Day (February), Prince Kuhio Day (March), Good Friday (March or April), Memorial Day (May), Kamehameha Day (June), Independence Day (July), Statehood Day (August), Labor Day (September), Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day (November), and Christmas Day (December).

The one federal holiday we don’t observe here is Discoverers Day, which our state has named Indiginous Peoples Day, but it’s not yet a state holiday. We traded it decades ago for MLK.

Thirteen state holidays for twelve months sounds thin to me, a far cry from excessive. If I didn’t also get something like eighteen vacation days each year (thank you thank you thank you thank you, lovely employer) I don’t know if I could take it.

Let me just say this, and consider it before you dismiss it. Despite a pretty terrible diet, people in Hawaii have the longest life expectancy in the nation. Every time some happiness study is released, Hawaii comes out on top (or at least second) as the happiest state. All this despite a crazy cost of living, sky-high taxes, a business climate super unfriendly to small businesses (mostly because of the taxes, but also because of regulation), and at least on Oahu, some of the worst traffic in the nation.

How does it add up? Weather for sure, but also those holidays and what they represent. Board shorts. Aloha shirts instead of coats and ties. “Hawaiian time.” I’m tempted to add an extremely secular culture, but that may be my own biases talking.

So although I didn’t sleep very well Sunday night, and certainly not enough, I woke up Monday in a mental state approaching peace. My body, still feeling a bit of tiredness from Sunday’s swim, relaxed into the late morning and into the sagging mattress (yeah, I’m due for a new bed). My mind thought about how nice it was to have nothing on the to-do list. I had a rough to-think-about-doing list, but whatever. It certainly wasn’t oppressive.

I had some clementines and dried apricots for breakfast. Read the news, did some puzzles, took care of some journaling. Listened to a lot of music. Did a few easy chores. Took a nap. Had a couple of quesadillas for lunch (just tortillas and extra-sharp cheddar).

I took some time to pay attention to some long-delayed online things I’d meant to contribute to — you know, responding to comments, chiming in with long-awaited opinions, that kind of thing — and made a few notes for my review of On the Horizon.

I hate to say it, but I was getting pretty close to bored or something around nine in the evening. Very unusual for me — there usually aren’t enough hours in the day for everything I want to do — so I was just about to do some decluttering for want of anything else to claim productivity with when I realized I hadn’t had dinner and I was kind of hungry.

So I blanched a whole head of broccoli and did the angel hair pasta thing again, with olive oil, butter, lime juice, and capers. It was delightful. I ate all the broccoli and (sorry to admit) all the pasta. Sated and spent, I noticed all motivation for doing any housecleaning was nowhere to be found.

I still did a wee bit o’ tidying, as it was a trash-to-the-curb night.

Can’t remember when I got to bed, but it was much later than it should have been, somewhere approaching three in the morning, I think.

I texted a couple of coworkers (Sharon was one of them) to mention something I discovered at our office when I was there Sunday. I would have texted them from the office that night, but it was February 14. I did not want to be the single guy texting female coworkers that evening. Embracing my loserhood does not mean necessarily communicating it all the time.

It was what a holiday should be. Weekends are for a mix of getting stuff done, getting some relaxation, and having some fun, and they’re never long enough for all three. A holiday lets you get two of those things done on the regular weekend and then the third for the day off. When I finally did drift off, it was with a feeling of anticipation for the coming work week, and while I love my job, this just doesn’t happen often enough.

More three-day weekends, please. More holidays. More sunny weather. More good music.

Things I’m saving to write about later: the music I listened to Monday and what I learned about tofu Saturday. And oh yeah, my resolutions. Next post.

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2 Replies to “Lockdown: Shorter work weeks longer lives”

  1. I don’t think Pennsylvania has any holidays unique to the state, or at least not ones my employer recognizes. After New Year’s, I don’t think we get a holiday until Memorial Day.

    I’m a very firm believer that either the work week should be four days or that we should have six hours at work instead of eight, and having a baby only keeps reinforcing this. We weren’t put on this planet to spend such a large chunk of our lives working.

    1. We should absolutely rethink the way we consider work in this country. Super hard work made this a great country, but happiness and rest also make it great.

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