Thursday, January 26, 2006

Careful Who You Listen To

This week, I unwrapped two Dove chocolate wrappers with questionable advice. One read:

Lose yourself in a moment.

I'm sure they want me to lose myself in the moment. But with my sense of geography, the misphrased motto takes on a sinister and superfluous meaning. I can get lost in less than a minute, thank you. Or perhaps I'm supposed to get lost in a moment? (Is a moment like a black hole? Will I spin throughout the universe, in and out of dimensions?) Maybe I should just get lost. Or maybe I should lose myself in the following experience, the rapture of which, to my mind, would be minute:

Send a love letter this week.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Working Girl

Do you ever catch a sudden glimpse of what your life looks like from a distance? The role you play, the stereotype you exemplify, the stock character you would be in a dime novel? This week, facing a massive deadline, the two other editors and I decided to trade in Martin Luther King Day for this Friday. We diligently toiled in an empty office all through Monday and stayed late. We worked late on Tuesday and came in early yesterday. The deadline met, we are now frantically catching up on other tasks in preparation for the next part of the project.

Now, normally, my mind is a far-ranging thing. Each moment I am thinking, daydreaming, musing, mulling, wondering, considering, and evaluating something or other, and it could be anything from what to eat to the role of women in the church to how in the world will I find a snazzy pair of boots that fit my feet and my pocketbook to whether Dorothy Sayers was a top-notch mystery writer or merely mediocre. It's an exhausting way to live.

This week, however, I have only been thinking about one thing: how to spend my day off. You would think I was one of those slaves from centuries past who only got one day off a year. The question has consumed my waking hours and has been lit up against the background of every other activity I've done like a marquee. I have brooded over it. It is a subject of as much importance as whom to marry or how to use a million dollars.

The challenge, of course, is to craft a day off that satisfies all my desires in a mere 24 hours. The sad thing is, my desires have imploded over the past two years of fulltime work. They now consist of the desire for sleep, solitude, and absolute freedom from the constraints of time. I feel like Meg Ryan in Kate and Leopold, uttering shrewish yet profound words: "I'm tired." I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm tired.

So, I tossed out the idea of taking a trip down Skyline Drive (I'd have a long drive back afterward), going to Annapolis or Alexandria (same objection), visiting my family (too much else to do this weekend), completely organizing my room (this is a day off, remember?), or hanging out with friends (I'm an introvert, remember?). Hunching over the remains of my day, I shaped it into a thing of jewellike precision:
1) Sleep in.
2) Slowly wake up.
3) Have a cup of tea.
4) Choose one or all of the following menu of options: hang pictures, organize a small part of my room, get a video from the library and watch it, read The Five Red Herrings. Wash down with a cup of tea.
5) Go shopping.
6) Go to Borders. Sit in the cafe and feel artistic. Drink tea because I can stay up as late as I want because the next day is Saturday.
"Traitor!" screams my idealistic self to my working-girl self. "What about your dreams? Your ideals? Your devotion to all that is beautiful and good, your service to humanity? How can you accomplish anything if your perfect day is summed up by being a lazy slob? Where is the poetry in such a life?"

Well, I've got news for you, Idealistic Self. Go take a hike. I've got better things to do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Isn't It Lovely . . .

. . . to realize that there is always another book by C.S. Lewis? I finished The Great Divorce last fall and now I'm meandering through a collection of his poems. Yesterday, my coworker reminded me that I haven't yet read Pilgrim's Regress. Pleasure is wonderful, but unending pleasure more so.