Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Enter the Stand-Up Blogger

Word from the world of health news is “sitting is the new smoking” sans the nicotine buzz and toasty aroma. That is why I’m writing this standing up, all clear headed and spring fresh.

Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic specialist in obesity, devised the cheeky slogan quoted above. It comes from his research showing our bodies are getting fat and falling apart from spending too much time slumped in front of computers and television sets. Shortly after publishing his findings, his mother is thought to have devised the expression, “I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical school, and you come up with THIS?”

Levine believes people lose two hours of life for every one hour they sit, three hours if they are in a conference call. While this claim doesn’t explain the continuing existence of real scientist Stephen Hawking or the ongoing proliferation of third-string NFL quarterbacks, it nonetheless helped start the stand-up desks craze. This is unfortunate for Levine as, and I’m not kidding, he invented the far less-popular but more torturous treadmill desk.

(And none of this explains why a California start-up recently started selling a $6,000 desk that allows you to work on a computer while lying on your back. If they took Levine’s findings to heart, they would have determined their company has no future in repeat clients.)

My wife heard about this work-while-you-stand commotion and quickly became convinced the writer’s lifestyle was killing me, if not now then definitely before I got around to taking down the Christmas lights. She soon purchased me a stand-up desk – a truly touching gesture of how much she values my life once you overlook the fact she bought the cheapest one Amazon sells.

I protested her purchase because, as any person who ekes out a living pecking out sentences knows, the No. 1 killer of writers is not sitting: it’s poverty. It used to be alcoholism, which eventually led to poverty, but attention spans are much shorter these days.

Besides, writing is far from a sedentary profession. It’s one of constant motion, both physical and mental. In fact, being on deadline is when I tend to be at my most mobile. Getting up from desk to get a cup of coffee. Digging through my cabinets to find files. Getting more coffee. Reorganizing my files for future projects. Grabbing a third coffee. Washing the coffee pot. Washing the kitchen floors. Taking the dog out for a walk so I can organize my thoughts in the fresh air. Running with the dog behind a bush because I had too much coffee. It’s all part of what non-creative types call “procrastinating” but we in the business rightly call “process.”

However, on the subject of sitting and writing, there is a fly in the Preparation H. Ernest Hemingway most famously wrote standing up – his typewriter propped on a bookcase. Who can argue with his success? He was living so long he finally had to kill himself. And who doesn't want options?

So, I figured I might as well try out the stand-up desk my wife bought me so thoughtfully and so inexpensively. Thus, it is with great pleasure and pride that I give you my vertically induced Hemingwayesque "one true sentence," one I’m sure has never been written by anyone – or at least by me – before: I just spent the morning typing 600 words and, boy, are my legs tired.

-- A version of this was first ignored by the readers of The Stamford Advocate.

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