Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Be you busy?

There are two kinds of people in the world: busy people and crazy busy people.

I don't know about you, but I've been crazy busy lately, mostly for the good:
  • The Animal Store sale coming up on November 14 & 15
  • challenging and exciting client work
  • checking out colleges with my girl
  • preparing for my son's bar mitzvah
  • writing and submitting (the best work)
  • cleaning and organizing (the worst work)
Busy, busy, busy.

According to Henry David Thoreau, "Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." Let's hope old Hank D. is right.

As I was trying to title this post, all I could think of were a couple of trite similes. Turns out that moldy oldy "busy as a bee" comes to us all the way from the late 14th century straight from Geoffrey Chaucer's pen in the Canterbury Tales:

"Ey! Goddes mercy!" sad our Hoste tho,
Now such a wyf I pray God keep me fro.
Lo, suche slieghtes and subtilitees
In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees
Be thay us seely men for to desceyve,
And from soth ever a lie thay weyve.
And by this Marchaundes tale it proveth wel."

Say what? OK, for those of you who need to brush up on your Middle English, here's a translation:

"Eh! By God's mercy! cried our host.
Said he:
Now such a wife I pray God keep from me!
Behold what tricks, and lo, what subtleties
In women are. For always busy as bees
Are they, us simple men thus to deceive,
And from the truth they turn aside and leave;
By this same merchant's tale it's prove, I feel …"

That Chaucer — always blaming the woman.

How about busy as a beaver, then? The origins of this idiom are a bit murkier, but dates it back to the late 1700s.

No offense to Chaucer, but busy bee has been done and done, and so for that matter, has busy beaver (not to be confused with plucky, Bucky Badger). 

Apparently, both Newfoundlanders and the Irish say "busy as a nailer" — no one knows why. (OK, someone knows why, but the explanation I found — that "those to whom the proverb applied did not use a treadle in heading the nails"  — was, well, yawn.)

In my search, however, I did unearth a couple of smile-inducing similes that I thought I'd share with you:
  • busy as a one-armed paper hanger
  • busy as popcorn on a skillet
  • busy as a cat burying shit
  • busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest
  • busy as a stumped-tailed cow in fly time
  • busy as a funeral home fan in July
Several great lyricists have also created stunning "busy" images, like Stan Getz in in It Might as Well Be Spring where he was as "busy as a spider spinning daydreams" ? Or how about when Henry Miller (not the Henry Miller) is called "just as busy as a fizzy sasparilla" in The Deadwood Stage.

And then there's, my current favorite — busy as a banjo player's digits. 

Of course, being busy with work is completely different than busywork, but that's a whole other post.

How busy are you? Not too busy to leave a comment, I hope. Here, I'll make it easy for you. Just fill in the blank: "I'm as busy as _______" and leave it in a comment by clicking here. And if you're not too busy, check out my latest Chicago Moms Blog post on the Premature Peace Prize.


Unknown said...

Like your view on, "busy!" (the human kind, that is!) I think with all our attempts at being good multitaskers we get too busy and tend to end up going round in constantly busier circles!

On that note, I am working at finding time for the occasional thought these days.

Beverly Patt said...

I'm stealing that funeral fan in July one.
Love it;)

Alane said...

Hi, Sorry I have been too busy to finish our conversations! Looking forward to seeing you and Molly next weekend. Besides the need to drive kids to and fro, I will not be too busy to spend time with you!!

Carolyn Brandt Broughton said...

...busy as an early birder on Black Friday.

I guess this explains why 1996 seems like just yesterday.