Archive for October, 2010

A Flurry of Activity

Monday, October 4th, 2010

I love my weekends with GAP.  They take on all sorts of flavors.  There is the household-projects weekend wherein we tackle various and sundry tasks in a whirlwind of productivity.  There is the lazy-on-the-couchweekend wherein we watch football, movies, and Tivo’d episodes of Tosh.0.  There is the our-dance-card-is-fullweekend wherein we have an assortment of plans (and were able to find a sitter) and flit about the town being social butterflies.  There is the obligatory I-have-to-get-some-work-done weekend of telecommuting.  And finally there is the last variety of weekend when one of us flies solo because the other one is out of town; the I’m-on-my-own-and-loving-it weekend.

GAP and I both not-so-secretly love the solo weekend.  There is something utterly luxurious about having the house to yourself.  No negotiating over dinner plans, household chores, or what to watch on TV.  No waiting for the other person to be ready before you can leave the house.  No sacrificing your own intentions for the weekend because they don’t coincide with his/hers.  I don’t mean to confuse the issue – there are drawbacks.  No snuggling on the couch.  No shared experiences.  No intense conversation or inside jokes.  Nevertheless, a weekend to yourself and with your own agenda is, from time to time, an absolute gift.  

This past weekend was one such gift as GAP was out of town for a friend’s bachelor party.  (I will pause here to clarify that I was more spoiled by these weekends alone pre-kids.  There was another little person in the house with me this weekend, but as long as there are graham crackers nearby he’s pretty much up for anything.)  And with a weekend to myself on the horizon I made a long list of plans.  Not lunch dates or spa outings, but a collection of things I wanted to get done!  My list included:

Walk dogs (twice/day)
Bathe dogs
Go to gym
Get hair cut
Touch up paint on bedroom walls
Brush dogs (they shed a lot after a bath)
Catch up on laundry (approx 5 loads)
Hang family photos
Go to church
Go to grocery store
Volunteer at the hospital
Go for a run
Sweep/vacuum as needed (based on immense quantities of shedding)

As I entered the weekend I was a little bit skeptical that I’d piled too many things onto the list.  (In the interest of full disclosure I did have to get a sitter for the haircut and the volunteering.)  But as the weekend drew to a close I was amazed and delighted to have gotten it all done.  I was actually quite proud of myself.  Even amidst such a flurry of activity I had some wonderful times with Isaac.  He loves to “help” with projects, of which we had many.  And we read extra books before bed each night because I thought he deserved some spoiling too. 

With the weekend now behind me I’m rather confident that had GAP been in town I would have been less productive, not more.  There were moments when an extra set of hands might have been helpful, but being on my own this weekend meant that I was free to plow forward at my own pace.  As I reflect back it’s not that having GAP around impedes my productivity; he can be every bit as goal-oriented as I.  It’s just that when we are together (which is much more on weekends than during the week) we want to steal away moments just to be together.  And those moments come at the expense of my to-do list.

We seem to have a decent balance in this department.  We’re each away without the other a small handful of times throughout the year.  We relish in the return to single-dom with its greater autonomy and fewer compromises.  But at the end of the weekend we are happy to be back in the same house and making plans for the following weekend which we’ll spend together. 

I suppose my point here is to remind myself that I am an individual, apart from my husband.  It’s nice to be reminded of that every now and then, and to be forced to engage with it by setting out into a weekend whose path is charted by myself alone.  This particular weekend was one of productivity.  Others are characterized by old black and white movies and extra long pedicures.  Either way, I get to choose.  And that is luxury indeed.

An Unfinished Product

Friday, October 1st, 2010

There are many reasons why I find Julia Child inspiring.  Her passion for good food is foremost among them.  But as I’ve been making my way through her posthumously-published memoir My Life in France I’ve fallen in love with her for many other reasons.

She was nervy and determined.  She was a bit of a bohemian.  She was an intrepid rookie with the French language.  She was a beloved misfit in a nation of prim and tiny women.  She was staggeringly in love with her husband.  She didn’t take herself too seriously. 

These are all both laudable and endearing in the same breath. 

But on pages 71-72 of her book she makes the following confession:

But I was bothered by my lack of emotional and intellectual development.  I was not as quick and confident and verbally adept as I aspired to be.  … Upon reflection I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which caused me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful “scientific” thought.  I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was.

It is well-known that Julia Child didn’t discover her passion and talent for cooking until she was in her late thirties, and her famous cooking show “The French Chef” didn’t debut until she was 50.  But the quote above resonated with me even more than her late-blooming career.  For her struggles in this vein are highly similar to demons I’ve battled many times myself.

I am thirty-three now.  I am a wife, mother, and professional.  I have a graduate degree.  I should be able to defend any position I have, right?  I’m not so sure.  What I do know with certainty is that I continue to struggle with many of the same issues that our beloved Julia describes.  When challenged I sometimes become nervous and emotional, rather than confident and knowledgeable.  I have become comfortable with many of my beliefs without first really questioning why they are so.  And when situations arise that call for me to explain or defend myself I rarely find myself short of words, but often find myself short of well-formed thoughts.  When I am flummoxed I get quiet.  And for any of you who know me in person you know that “quiet” is a highly out-of-character state for me. 

But it seems I am in good company.  I’m learning from her memoir that Julia Child was a work in progress – an unfinished product – throughout most of her adult life.  I find this heartening on a number of levels.  First, it spares me the shame of not having it all worked out yet.  Second, it means that I have a lot of living yet to do.  (How sad and dull life would be if by the age of 33 there were no mental gymnastics left for me to attempt.)  And lastly, it reminds me that no matter how much of my world view I am able to articulate, there is always more to learn.