Playing catch-up is a losing battle

The e-mail from a friend was apologetic in its tone, an electronic explanation that a response to an inquiry was late in coming because she’d recently returned from a trip and was trying to play “catch-up.”

Good luck with that game, I thought to myself as the day’s new expectations I hadn’t even begun to process merged with a blur of things I had yet to do from yesterday, the past couple days, the recent weeks, the months previous, the years gone by, my life in general.

“Oh, the humanity,” as Newman would say on the sitcom “Seinfeld.”

All my behindedness – I feel like inventing words as I write this – has nothing to do with a trip, however, although I can sympathize with that aftermath of coming home after going away and finding there’s enough stuff that needs your attention, you feel as if you need another vacation – immediately.

Returning home from time away requires catching up on laundry, the mail, the newspapers, phone messages, the neglected flower beds and lawn, the news of the neighborhood, the talk of the town, you get the picture.

Probably been there, done that.

Just on the workfront alone I am in chronic catch-up mode, amazed by the avalanche of community news that never seems to stop.

I have a pile of papers and a stack of stuff to remind me that it’s an impossible goal to get everything done, to catch up and have an empty desk to show for it.

The pile and stack get lower just long enough to get higher and higher again.

It must be a conspiracy or something. Some days, I think my desk is treated with some work version of Miracle Gro.

Of course, sometimes I’m playing catch-up because I find myself distracted by putting out “fires” every day, solving one problem only to be rewarded with another one.

It’s the stop everything ’cause something needs done right now! And hurry!

Honestly, some days I think of myself as a firefighter putting out one blaze after another based on a phone call or request – let’s say an inquiry from someone, for instance – who’s desperate to know when something was in the paper.

It was just a couple days ago, the caller will assure.

I go in pursuit of the proverbial needle in the haystack, either finding something quickly or not at all, which makes me all the more crazed to find that before I do anything else.

And for my effort?

I’m the old hamster back on the wheel, around and around I go, faster and faster.

On the homefront, the catch-up plan in the name of making progress isn’t any prettier.

I start one project with the best of intentions only to get sidetracked by something else, usually another “fire.”

In the end, I guess it’s a pipe dream to think I’ll ever catch up, and if?I ever did, what on Earth would I do anyway?

Take a vacation?

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at