Kali Mama was talking about being busy. And in fact, everyone I know is talking about being busy. Too busy, mostly. Too busy to clean our houses, too busy to exercise, to busy to read… “Overwhelmed” is a word I’ve been hearing a lot lately.

It’s seasonal, I say. The transition back to the school year, so many activities right now, the upcoming holidays.

And I also say it has to do with attitude. Kali Mama asked if I was “happy busy,” and mostly I am. I enjoy my work, I love the music I’m involved in, I love my family, I feel committed to my volunteer work — and while I am busy, it is not like Back to School. I have a lot of choices.

I also say that being organized helps a lot.

But last night, The Nurse suggested something completely different. She said that our society forces excessive busyness on us. Not, as many of us might think, by holding up unreasonable examples of women who have it all and do it all, and men who provide that lifestyle and change diapers, too. No, she says that we are forced into this by other people’s lack of responsibility.

The nation, she says, is divided into people who take no responsibility and people who work like dogs to make up for the slackers.

Smoking, meth, and Big Macs came up in the conversation, probably because she was thinking about health care providers. But she meant it in a larger sense. If we always do things for other people, she said, they’ll just continue to be irresponsible. She thought it would be good to refuse medical care to people who continued to smoke, for example. Possibly also for those who continue to eat Big Macs.

There was a point in the conversation at which I felt I had to mention that Jesus never said, “Get it together or I’m outta here.” I don’t know that “What would Jesus do?” is always a useful question for health care providers, though, since “He would allow the sufferer to touch the hem of his garment” doesn’t offer solid practical guidance for them.

I went directly from this discussion to handbell practice, where I not only failed to hold up my end of the Handel, but also made excuses.

There is a woman in bells who normally keeps us all entertained with an unending stream of excuses. She can’t see properly, her wrists hurt, she can’t stand for long periods of time, the music is written wrong, she can’t play the particular bells she has been given …. it never stops. She wasn’t there last night. Perhaps I felt that I needed to cover for her. Perhaps I was driven by the thought of the other players having to work extra hard because I am too irresponsible (or too busy) to practice on my own and get better.

I have to say, though, that the only thing worse than having to pick up the slack for the slackers is having to listen to their excuses while you do it.

9 My cooking show for tonight is canceled. This means that I had time to make these virtuous sweet rolls. Whole wheat bread with half a teaspoon of caramel sprinkles.

No need for excuses.

I will be working during the show time on booking more shows for the future. I also have the day’s computer work, housework, and a clogged kitchen sink (doubtless caused by some irresponsible slackers) to deal with. So, even though I was counting on this show to meet a sales goal, I am also somewhat relieved not to have to go out this evening.