And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
About a year ago, I started arranging my schedule so that I could take one day off every week. It wasn’t the same day…it fluctuates, a different day every week. This way, I am able to keep my client and class load, but still have a day that I can breathe. And my clients and students know that every five weeks, they will have a week off to either write ahead or take a break. It’s worked out very well, all things considered.
The way I arranged the order of the days, the week I have Friday off is followed by the week I have Monday off. So I regularly get a four-day weekend, kind of. A lot of times, the Saturday of that “four day weekend” is a Saturday that I teach, as I teach two Saturdays a month. But that’s fine.
Last week, I had one of these four-day weekends that included a free Saturday. My husband, who knows that I’ve been exceptionally busy and stressed lately, said, “You should go somewhere. Do something. Something fun that makes you happy.”
So I thought about that. And in the end, I did do something that I find fun and that makes me happy.
I stayed home. And I thoroughly cleaned, rearranged, and redid my office/writing space. It took me all day Friday, all day Saturday, and part of Sunday. Oh, I also went through my clothes closet and took out every sweater that I haven’t worn this winter and donated them.
I am a creative person, but I am also an organized person. My imagination and creativity goes crazy when I write, when I paint, and when I think about student manuscripts. But my organization makes my external world orderly so that my internal world has permission to go crazy. I write lists. I figure out an order for things and I do them in that order. I check the weather so I am prepared. Before I go to bed, I pick out what I’m going to wear the next day. When I was in college, I came home from the first day of classes and wrote in my calendar when papers and exams were due throughout the semester. And then I finished my papers at least two weeks prior to those dates.
And so this last Thursday, when I finished with my final client, I spent some time standing at the entry to my writing space, figuring out what I wanted to do. And then I spent the next few days doing it, even though some of it was very hard.
Several years ago, I bought a burgundy chaise for my room. I pictured myself sitting in it, my legs gently extended, ankles crossed, while I read student manuscripts. That vision was interrupted quickly by a big 18-pound orange cat. An orange cat who is a shorthair, but who somehow has more hair than any other cat I’ve ever known. And a cat who decided his place in this house was laying on my red chaise, his legs gently extended, all four ankles crossed, and orange hair being dumped everywhere, top to bottom.
I tried to keep him off. I covered the chair with aluminum foil. I took some extra car floor liners and laid them upside down on the chair, so that the rubber points stuck up. Edgar found ways to shove these things aside and still make room to stretch out. Eventually, I gave up and just set myself to vacuuming the chair often. But it wasn’t often enough, and soon the chair was more orange than burgundy, and no vacuum, even the ones with special pet attachments, could do a thing. I gave up further and only worked at my desk or downstairs in the living room, in my recliner.
Recently, when we switched storage rooms locations, I reacquainted myself with my rocking chair, the one I bought 40 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. It came from a resale shop and it was covered with thick blue paint. My then-husband set to work stripping it and staining it, and when it was done, I proceeded to rock a total of four babies. Now, I looked at it and ached to bring it home. I admit, my desire was not all nostalgia, but devious planning.
- the orange cat is old now and would not be able to jump up onto it. I’d bought a set of stairs for him so he could still reach the red chaise. I would not use the stairs by a rocking chair because…
- …it rocked. If he tried to get on it, it would rock back and forth, and likely dump him to the ground.
So the Got Junk people came and removed the more-orange-than-burgundy chaise. I brought the pet stairs to my storeroom, just in case, and then brought the rocking chair home. Where I proceeded to rip into the rest of my office.
I cast a hard eye on the knick-knacks on the bookshelves behind my desk. Only the most loved remained. Many were hard to let go…but I did it, and I think of them being loved in new homes.
I went through my long bookshelf, given to me by a lovely poet when she downsized, and got rid of the things I was keeping for no real reason. Old calendars. Books I thought I would read, but no longer had the desire to, because there were too many other books I wanted to read. Then I moved a shelf that holds 9 cubbies into another room and brought in a small table to put next to my rocking chair.
And I did the dirty work. I didn’t dust, I washed, scrubbing down shelf after shelf, furniture surface after furniture surface. I drove two slivers from my antique writing table into the palm of one hand, and one sliver still remains. I shredded paper. I got rid of things that I bought once, thinking I would use them, and I never used them, but I kept them just in case I might.
One unhappy big orange cat. But a place that I’ve fallen in love with again, where I can work without the pressure of too much stuff bearing down on me.
But I do feel bad about the cat. He sits, looking at the rocking chair, and then he sighs and curls up on the rug. I’ve bought two cat beds for him so far, both of which came from online and when they arrived, were much too small. This weekend, I’m going to a pet store where I can eyeball the beds and actually find one that is large enough for a now 16-pound cat (he lost two pounds during his illness a short time ago).
But spending a four-day weekend having fun and doing what makes me happy?
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.