Roller Coaster Ride

It’s taken me years to finally figure out the rhythm and the schedule of the grownup me. It’s hard when you leave behind the beginning and conclusions, the milestones, the counting down of your school life. All of a sudden, there are no logical breaks. You do not get a fresh start every fall. You do not matriculate, commence or otherwise change. It feels as though life is now a blur of barely differentiated days: a gradient instead of an ordinal scale.

But finally, after more than a decade of careful attention, I think I have it figured out. Beginning in January is a long, slow slog up the tracks of the year. We go seven or eight months with only a handful of three day weekends. There’s a particularly appalling stretch from mid-February to the end of May when every single week has five workdays in it. Before I had kids I resented this time of year as boring, undifferentiated, tedious. Now I find it enjoyable in its own right. That slog-uphill time is the time of year when not every weekend is claimed, when I have time to read novels or play video games, when yes-I-can-get-together-this-Friday happens. You spend a weekend doing something that doesn’t Make Great Memories and somehow it doesn’t matter as much. I mean, it’s not like you wasted great weather this weekend.

As the weather warms, the snow melts and May arrives, things start heating up. Suddenly, “it seems like a pity to waste” re-enters the vocabulary on Saturdays. I realize that the next three weekends are fully committed. Whole blocks of the calendar disappear under markings like “Camp Gramp”, “Gen Con” or (this year) “London”. These are, of course, completely awesome things. Summer is the high season for adventures. The pictures pile up on the memory cards, the laundry is carefully calibrated around how many bathing suits my eldest son has (and his !$@#$ summer camp t-shirts that must be worn twice a week) and take-out menus get a good workout. But still, there’s that feeling of space in life. It’s summer. Vacation is coming. This is going to be great!

Sitting in Ashland, sipping my 93rd cup of coffee at Dragonfly while reading “A Civil Campaign” (again), I had this sensation of being on a roller coaster. All winter and spring it had chugged its way up the mountain of tracks as I gazed around at the altitude-revealed scenery. That moment in Asland we were at the very top of the tracks, and only the weight of the cars behind us kept us from our full plummeting speed.

So today… wheeeeee!!!!!

From here to 2013 is a crazy ride. I’m conducting a wedding on Saturday. Adam goes to Gencon soon. I have approximately 93 batches of jam to make. We’re camping again. School starts. My MIL arrives. My birthday happens. I get started on the labor of love that is my Christmas cards (yes! In September!). Then Grey’s birthday. Somewhere in here we go apple picking and then make at least two batches of apple butter. Two weeks later, Adam’s birthday. A week after that, Thane’s birthday. Three days after that, Halloween. Two weeks after that, Mocksgiving. Two more weeks to Thanksgiving. (Ironically, the only breather in this schedule. Unless I get inspired to go somewhere … which knowing me I probably will.) Then holy-cow-how-is-it-Advent-already? Then Adam’s gone for a week for a work conference. Then Christmas, followed by New Years. And all that stuff? That’s the EVERY YEAR stuff. (Well, except the wedding this weekend.) There are always exceptional and unusual events added into that mix. Zoom! No wonder I feel like my schedule is picking up speed.

I find it funny that this month, of all months, I would decide to start a big new project ( that requires consistent attention. I think I do this every year. It takes me a few months after that ride to get my breath – and my courage back. But then my lizard-brain notices a pattern of several months of under utilization! Obviously circumstances have changed and I now have more disposable time! Let’s come up with some new ideas we want to try, ok? Great idea. My lizard brain has not figured out the pattern that my mammal brain lays out here.

Still, maybe this is the year that, uh, somehow that schedule is not jam packed? Maybe my new writing time plan (on the bus on the way home on a teeny netbook) will somehow mean I actually DO have more disposable time for my new blog? Even if not, in the most hectic days of October I will be able to remind myself that come January it won’t be quite so crazy.

Does your adult life have a consistent seasonal pattern? How much does it line up – or do you make it line up – with that old academic calendar? When are your busy times and your free times, or is it more consistent for you?

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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