That said here are my five least favourite days of the year in no particular order.
- Tax Day. It’s always stressful and confusing; even when I was single, had one job and no self-employment situations. Today, I’m married, have a child and multiple jobs (including one - writing, that I love but isn’t paying off yet) and there are so many other things to consider. Sometimes I agree with the notion of a ‘flat tax’ but sometimes I don’t. What really confuses me, especially when I was single and had only one job, was how there were times I still owed taxes on April 15 when I already had taxes taken out. And this was before they made you pay quarterly taxes in anticipation of what you might owe. Taxes, I suppose, are a good thing when they help provide common services to keep everyone healthy and safe - things like education, police, fire, medical care - but they’re so confusing that sometimes I wish I could just put my money (if I ever have any to speak of) under the proverbial mattress and live in a forest somewhere.
- The day after the end of the school year. Apart from the two or so years I worked as a personal trainer and ran my first Taekwondo school in the early and mid 1990s, right after I’d graduated from Rutgers and didn’t land a teaching job yet, I’ve been in and around schools all my life. As a result of that, for better or worse, I kind of live with a ‘10 month’ mindset; one that gives me summers off, a week or two off a couple times a year for Spring Break and the holiday vacation in December and the days off for national holidays (Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, etc). The day after the last day of school is nice because it means it’s vacation time and when many people around me - when most people around me - work the entire year and still have to go to work I guess having that vacation time is also a privilege. So, in this regard, it can fall as the 11th best day of the year. I’ve included it in this list of worst days of the year because, as much as I cherish my down time and time for myself to do whatever I want (like writing) and as much as I’ve become nostalgic for a simple life, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also come to treasure what daily routines give me. In some ways, even though I’m busier during the school year, I find that by being busy I’m actually more productive and better organised and, I believe, that is because of the regimentation a daily routine with greater demands gives me. I’m not saying that I’m lazy and a slacker, although, like many of us I have my slacker times. I’m just saying that routine helps (me) and the end of the school year does a lot to disrupt that.
- The end of the summer and the start of the new school year. This one might be a little evident. As teachers do, I love my summers because it offers me time to rejuvenate and get stimulated for another school year with new students, students who have gone from one grade to the next and who have become more (sometimes less) motivated. So, for the mere fact that I lose some of my down and me time, I’m sad to see the summer go and for the year to begin. However, this day is also on this list for the same reason that the day after the end of the school year is - it breaks up my routine. The start of summer is rough. Even though I work in the summer, I still have a fair amount of me (read writing) time. However, it’s because I work and don’t have complete freedom that I am able to structure a routine that makes me fairly productive and allows me to get a fair amount done while still enjoying time with my wife, son and dog. The end of the summer disrupts the existing routine, albeit forcing me to structure and get into the groove of a new one, but it’s that period of transition that is so detonation-wire sensitive that, if not greeted properly, can lead one to unstructured and undisciplined months of poor productivity and unhappiness. It’s really a conundrum life is, isn’t it? As good as change is for keeping us on our toes and nurturing creativity and as much as I enjoy my times off, there are many days when I wish I could work in one job that did one thing, like writing, where I could focus on one thing and not have to worry about putting on multiple hats each day.
- The end of the European football season. Thanks to the wonders of cable television and the internet, I was able to watch and/or listen to coverage of every Arsenal match this season. While it would have been a happier season had my team won more matches and, perhaps, a trophy or two, it was great those one or two times a week when I could shut everything off and enjoy my football and share it with my son. I love Arsenal and I love football. It’s one of those simple pleasures that always make me happy regardless of what else is going on. Arsenal is a team in England and the English league season ended in May. The entire club season ended last month, too, with Chelsea defeating Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final. (Although a fan of English football and a fan of SV Hamburg, a rival of Bayern Munich in the German league, Das Bundesliga, I was rooting for Bayern.) With the European club season over until August, I turn to the local MLS matches here in the US to get my football enjoyment. The quality has gotten better and many European players are coming to play here in the US even before they’ve hit their final legs. For me, though, there’s nothing like English football. When the season ends every May, my heart breaks a little. This year, however, the hurt is alleviated a little because it’s the European Championships, which are being held in Poland and Ukraine. For those of you who don’t know, the Euros is the championship contested between the qualifying national teams in Europe. It’s the World Cup for just European countries and there are also championships in Asia, Africa, South, Central and North American. So, I’ll still get to see some of my favourite European players in action and I’ll get to cheer on my favourite Germans. In the last Euros, in 2008, the German national team lost to Spain in the final. The score was 1-0 and Cesc Fabregas, a former Arsenal player and one of my favourite current players, set up the winning goal that Fernando Torres scored. I watched all of this during the party we had for my son’s baptism. Maybe this year the Germans can lift the cup.
5. Boxing Day. The day after Christmas is such a downer of a day. There is so much hype leading to Christmas, and there should be as a religious celebration and as a secular holiday, but once it’s over it’s like it never was. Is it that things today have become items on a checklist? “Christmas? Done. Check. Take down decorations? Check. Throw tree out? Check.” Everything and everyone seem to be in such a rush these days that no one cherishes and enjoys what’s in front of them anymore. Savouring moments. We don’t, as a society, do enough of that anymore. We should. One day, we’re all going to regret it.
So, those are my least favourite days of the year. Maybe they’re yours too or, perhaps, you’re thinking, “Who is this nut?” or “Dude, have you got some issues!” Whether I am or do, I appreciate your spending the time with me. Hopefully, something in this blog has made you think introspectively or, at the very least, entertained you or made you smile. And, if you want to share what your most and least favourite days of the year are, I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks again and enjoy your day. Who knows? Today might be your favourite.