I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want. As soon as I figure it out.

I was sad when the schedule came out so that Adam and I could not spend Camp Gramp week in wild hedonism together, doing things like “sleeping in” and “playing board games”. BOTH weeks this year where my parents would take the kids, there were gaming conventions. I could hardly ask Adam not to go to Gencon, so that was just the way of it.

Is this what relaxing looks like for me?

The brilliant upside was this: I would be alone. All alone. No one else in the house. No cat, no dog, no kids, no husband. I even decided to take a day or two off from work, to do whatever it was I wanted to do. Just me and my desires to attend to. I wondered, in the cold days of spring, what amazing thing I would do with my free time. I imagined driving up the Atlantic coast, stopping to stare out at the wild waves of Maine. Or maybe I’d manage to find a friend and go backpacking! (That is actually what I really wanted to do. The problem is with the find a friend part. I’m reckless, but not that reckless.) Maybe I’d finally hike Mt. Chocorua. Maybe I’d slip my passport and a change of clothes into a bag and just go wherever the road took me. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I had a tumultuous lead time up to my great liberty. It went something like this:

Friday – work full day, pick up farmshare, drive 6+ hours to New York
Saturday – fail to find Appalachian trail
Sunday – hike Appalachian trail and drive back to Boston
Monday – work full day then fly out to Los Angeles on the redeye
Tuesday – have meetings in LA, watch Elysium with the sales team, fly back on redeye to Boston
Wednesday – all day company outing at Crane Beach. Buy plums.

Thursday I had originally planned for a day off, but I was so behind on stuff that I ended up working. Thursday evening arrived, and I relaxed by cleaning the kitchen, buying a new weedwhacker, getting my nails done and making 2 batches of plum jam.

Pie, red plum jam and golden plum jam – two night’s of labor laid deliciously out.

Friday was supposed to be the prime day of my great relaxing. But. Well. I started with an earlyish morning appointment at the chiropractor. (See also: twelve hours of long haul driving and two six hour redeyes in a five day period). And then I came home to a house that was a DISASTER. The kitchen was a mess. The living room was a mess. The dining room was a mess. The kids’ bedrooms made the rest of the house look downright clean. My bedroom was appalling. The carpets needed cleaning. And so that’s what I did.

I mowed the lawn. (I still need to edge it. Sigh.) I cleaned out Thane’s room. I cleaned his carpet. I cleaned out the upstairs hall. I cleaned the carpet. I cleaned my room. I cleaned the stairs carpet. I organized the living room and removed stuff we didn’t need any more. I cleared off surfaces in the dining room. I did the dishes. I cleaned the kitchen. I picked up the farm share. I cleaned the ‘fridge. I prepped all the farmshare food. I made blueberry pie. I invited friends over for a glass of wine and blueberry pie. Then I was GOING to SIT AND WATCH THE BASEBALL GAME, but it was a bad game and I practiced my trumpet and guitar instead, while flipping between the Sox and the Patriots. By 11 at night, the house was cleaner, but hardly done, and I was completely exhausted.

Saturday morning, I cleaned Grey’s room properly. (That was the hardest of them.) I dropped off dry cleaning. I went to the bank. I did the bills. Finally, I left to New York to go pick up the boys.

So what did I do with my precious, precious time of liberty? I caught up on chores. In fact, I pushed myself HARD to attempt to get as many chores done as possible.

“What” says the extremely ardent reader who has made it so far through my litany of “ohmygosh am I busy!” – “What makes you think we’re interested?” It’s this, oh Ardent Reader. It was something of a revelation of my sense of self. I think it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that being busy and engaged in satisfying labors is part of who I am. It’s not a small part either, and I think it’s growing. That’s no bad thing, because I am satisfied with being satisfied by labor.

But I think it also sounds the warning gong of a person too busy. I may fully utilize my time to be productive, but in exchange for what? Would I have been better off reading a book on the (overgrown) back lawn? Would my life be richer if I had gone North and left my farmshare to fend for itself? Or would I be less happy, heading into my busiest time of year in a chaotic and unrestful environment? How many days would I have to have off in order to feel like I was done with what needed doing? Or is that a goal that can even be accomplished? How do I draw the line between true work that needs to be done, work that I think needs to be done, things that I do that are like work but are also hobbyish (like canning), and true leisure and rest?

I’m curious how you, oh Ardent Reader, navigate these decisions. How do you draw the lines?

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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.

One thought on “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want. As soon as I figure it out.”

  1. You know, I also could have written this post! I’m not sure if there is a good way to navigate it. I try and balance the productive with the non-productive and hope it ‘comes out in the wash’.


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