2003-11-27 / Arts & Entertainment



©2003 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Missing Five Hours

Often about 5:30 in the afternoon, I sit at my desk and try to remember where the day went.

I usually go to bed by 10:30 p.m. because I get up early. I don’t know how anyone with a job watches Letterman or Jay Leno. My alarm is set for 5:27 a.m., but I wake up before that and turn it off. That’s about seven hours. Spending a third of the day sleeping seems like too much.

I’m in the bathroom for maybe 15 minutes. I shave with an electric razor. I used to shower before I shaved, but I read where a beard cuts better if it isn’t soft, so now I shave first.

My dermatologist said you shouldn’t use real hot water and you shouldn’t stay under it for long so I don’t linger. I dress in five minutes.

It takes me an hour getting to and from work every day. I think or listen to the radio. You can’t do both. Driving home, I listen to two men who do a terrible sports show. They are so annoying that hating them makes the time pass faster.

I estimate that I spend about an hour and 15 minutes eating on an average day.

I make coffee in the office in the morning and have a grapefruit at my desk but it takes only 10 minutes. The same with lunch. I hardly ever go out.

In the evening after I get home at six, Margie and I spend a pleasant hour having a drink and watching television news.

We have a dining room but don’t eat in it more than 10 times a year. We eat in the kitchen or the living room. Margie usually gets dinner but if I get it, doing the dishes takes longer. I figure an hour for dinner and cleanup. Dinner in a good restaurant takes longer, but we don’t eat out often.

After dinner, I read the parts of the paper missed in the morning. Some-one should publish a digest of the morning newspaper. There’s too much in it.

I watch some television at night. I’ll assign an hour for that. You can do two things at once if one of them is television, so I go through a pile of mail while I’m watching, separating the wheat from the chaff. It’s mostly chaff.

Everyone complains about television but there’s often more I’d like to see than there’s time to watch.

The telephone both saves time and wastes time. There are people who enjoy talking on the phone but I’m not one of them. I’m not lonesome. Even so, I suppose I spend half an hour a day on 20 calls. I talk to one or more of our four kids every day.

Most of the day, I sit at my keyboard, writing. I write quickly but hardly ever get it right the first time and usually have to do it over, so it’s a slow process. I start to write a lot of things that don’t work out too, so I’m at it at least five hours a day. People ask me how long it takes me to write my newspaper column and my "60 MINUTES" comments. I always tell them if it’s any good, it doesn’t take long but if it isn’t good, it takes all day.

I waste time. I must waste at least an hour a day pretending I’m doing something necessary that isn’t. Instead of working, I’ll clean out a desk drawer, rearrange the bookshelves, or wash the car. It’s the little time that’s hard to count. The elevators in the building where I work are slow. I wait 10 minutes a day. Friends drop in and we talk. I wait in line at the store. I decide to cut my fingernails. I sit and stare.

Now, all that comes to a little over 19 hours. What I want to know is, what did I do with those five missing hours?

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