By Thursday things had reached a critical point. Four days into Spring Break, break nearly broke me. I was the following things:
Extremely bloated and engaged in a battle to stop my pants from falling down.
Bored and overwhelmed with things to do.
Annoyed at break but glad to not be at work.
Useful and redundant.
Tired and antsy.
Cranky as shit.
I mentioned a few months ago that I don’t do breaks well*. Time off doesn’t suit me in the least. If you really want to piss me off, tell me you’ve got nothing for me to do. Then, duck when I yank off my shoe and whip it at your head.
I’ve actually started to view these long spans of unstructured time as tests of character. While some people take a deep breath and think about how great it’s going to be to have a whole week to themselves to get their own work done, I dread the Friday afternoon that kicks off Spring Break^. Seized with panic, I freeze up at the terrifying notion of unstructured time. In my world, there’s no psychic rest for the idle.
And that’s true even of this Spring Break, one I was particularly looking forward to. In a mid-February haze of tired hysteria I realized that I might need to slow down a little. And I was looking forward to the official time in March when I could sleep until 8am. But just as I was thinking these pleasant no-obligation Spring Break thoughts, I got sick. And I rested for, like, TWO WHOLE DAYS (I felt pretty crappy). Which meant that I had enough time to reboot right BEFORE Spring Break started. So, as everyone was cycling down, my party was just getting started. And, to top it off, the week before Spring Break was planned to the seams while the Spring Break week had nothing except yoga written on it. The remaining white space was mine, all mine. And it scared me.
Related anecdote: According to my mother, none of this is new. Looking back, she thinks she should have wrangled a way for me to go to nursery school more. Getting me to come home from school required careful, detailed planning and concentration. While I was bossing around other children**, my mom spent the time before pick-up making sure the flow from school to home was seamless. This meant pre-setting the table with my open-faced grilled cheese (a cold sandwich was fine with all parties), checking to make sure The Letter People was on (my mom liked to eat her lunch in the 15 minutes of peace that gave her), and making sure there was an activity I could take up right after that. While I was a handful in general, I became more of a problem with lag time***.
Anyway, this Spring Break, I technically had plenty to do. And I’m experiencing immense guilt because I didn’t get a lot of it done****. Largely because my days were mine. While I might crave some time to just screw around in those weeks when my calendar is full, the truth is I don’t really want that down time. Because I really, really love a full planner.
I never feel more alive than when I can’t figure out when I’m eating lunch.
It’s not that I’m easily bored; I’m pretty good at keeping myself amused. I mean, I live alone and have a plethora of married/coupled friends. Saturday nights are a total effing rerun/laundry party around here. And I sort of like it that way. And let’s be honest: there are few, if any, better inventors of errands. And house projects! Ask me about my house projects and the ways I can have even more run-ins with my furniture!
But without the demands of other people and shortened time frames, those tasks that I should get done don’t get done in the many, many hours break allows me to focus on them. It’s not that I’m not a self-starter. I am. But blank spaces in the calendar paralyze me. It’s not that I can’t think of anything to do. I can think of EVERYTHING to do.
So, I assume a fetal position and attempt to slow my brain down.
What I should have done was go to Kansas. Kim and Tony, next time I’ll listen to you.
* While I’ve been able to fill the long breaks in interesting ways, the long-term time off is something I won’t miss when I leave academia. Blasphemous as it is, I’d rather push right on through the holidays/late spring and summer/the second week of March.
^ I also carefully monitor my emails that afternoon, as everyone knows that a scandalous resignation is most likely to happen at the end of the work day before a long break. I’ve only sort of seen in happen once, but the mystery/conspiracy/fake scandal fiend that lives inside my brain holds out hope that it’s personal Christmas is coming.
** It’s not my fault those kids were playing wrong. I still maintain that my attempts to correct their errors didn’t merit that many visits to time-out. (P.S. I didn’t come clean to my parents about the time-out situation until shortly before my high school graduation. Until that point, they had been under the pleasant notion that there had been few disciplinary issues with me at Townley Preschool and Saybrook Elementary.)
*** Looking back, it’s hard for me to understand why my mom hasn’t embarked on a 5-year nap after getting me to adulthood and out of the house. Because I definitely spent most of my childhood refusing to give that woman a break. I mean, I did use my brother’s nap time (as I refused to nap) as my opportunity to get my mom to work through a large stack of Berenstain Bears books.
**** Meaning, I didn’t get EVERYTHING done. An update from the World of Unreasonable Expectations: I didn’t complete my entire dissertation; find, apply for, and start a new full-time job; solve world hunger; or visit the recycling center.