Friday, January 22, 2010

A Toast to Buoyancy

A nice glass of wine is settling in my stomach, my heart feels warm, and my limbs have that luscious languid feel of the week’s knots and edges melting away. I’ve left work behind me for the weekend, all day just feeling the gradual shift of weight off my shoulders as I wrapped up the last of the projects that have kept me scrambling all month. Now I feel weightless and droopy at the same time, if that’s even possible.

A strand of white Christmas lights twinkles at me, entwined with the curtains framing my windows. The lights exhibit a firm decision on my part to sustain a bit of holiday cheer at least until springtime, if not beyond. They add just the right touch of whimsy, without making me look like a loafer with neglected cords of unlit multicolor lights and glaring Christmas decorations strewn about the place 365 days a year. Some of the trees downtown still shine with lights every night, too, and I love them (even if I could put the part of my taxes that probably powers them to better use).

There are always a million activities going on on Friday nights, but some Fridays I politely decline invitations in favor of coming home to relax, reflect, eat sinfully delicious food (sometimes), and wear washed out pajamas. That pent up exhaustion after a week of non-stop on-the-go can finally wash over me. I can ignore it and go out, which is sometimes the better choice, or I can tell my friends to call me on Saturday, after I am replenished. I used to jokingly call myself the “old lady,” as I love my eight hours of sleep whenever I can capture it, and enjoy time alone, curled up writing or reading, cross-stitching or watching television. This is not to say that I don’t have plenty of fun and social time (my friends can attest), but if I don’t have a balance, if I can’t find a space just for me amidst all the work and all the social energy, then I start to tread water. At the risk of obvious metaphor: the fast-paced swim is exhilarating, but you’ve got to take a break to just float every once in awhile. Let the water rush into your ears and block out the world, let your thoughts drift in and out like water lapping against your legs, let the tension drip out of your fingertips. That is what a do-nothing Friday night can do for you, and that is what it’s doing for me right now. I recognize it as a luxury that I will not always have--a luxury more easily captured when you have to be responsible for only yourself--so I am going to bask in it while I can.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter Confines

January feels out of balance. The month has been strange. I have been off-kilter, and by that I mean, well, I’ve been grumpy, crabby, and stressed out. I’m pretty sure that it’s just the winter doldrums. Winter is good, in general. Snow is beautiful, the cold is actually quite refreshing, and if I didn’t have winter, well, then summer wouldn’t seem so glorious and I’d miss the euphoria of spring creeping in. It’s just the lack of sunshine that affects me, and the diminished outdoor activity. I’m pining away for my runs by the lake.

Besides the indoors, business writing might be zapping my creativity. Most of the writing I’ve been doing this month has been hour after hour of data analysis for work. I actually enjoy it (let’s face it, I just love writing), but I’m losing my fresh lens on Chicago (hell, I’m losing any lens on the city altogether because I’m always trapped indoors), and I don’t have nearly as much time for introspection as I’d like these days. Most evenings, I can’t even begin to think about time for blogging. When I do have a few spare minutes, I open a blank Word document, punch out a few sentences, delete them, try again, select all, delete again, start a new paragraph, and eventually end up wiping out the whole thing and giving up for the night.

I’m starting to feel like I did in graduate school, when I was always researching and analyzing and writing long papers. Part of me loves it, with the challenge and the structure, trying to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together seamlessly, but at the same time, I get into this mode. And all the whimsy and metaphor in my body seem to get sucked out by the dry nature of the work. I become restricted, trapped. It’s strange to say it, but I actually start to feel a bit plastic when my writing isn’t fluid and imaginative. Or maybe it’s the other way ‘round, and it’s my writing that’s becoming as confined as me. Maybe this is why January has left me feeling out of kilter.

Right now I feel as though I’m merely looking at Chicago from windows. Here’s hoping that work subsides a little and upcoming weeks hold opportunities for me to relax, re-envision my surroundings, and dream up some entertaining tales.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

To Be a Bear...

It is weird that I feel like a little bear? This weekend, I have wanted nothing more than to stay home and hibernate. I’ve been curling up under blankets (it’s a little chilly in the apartment) and reading for hours on end. I feel incredibly lazy, but baby, it’s cold outside.

It was all I could do to haul my lazy bones to the gym this morning for spinning class, and the lethargy seemed contagious. Our high-octane instructor entered the room with her usual vim and vigor, but not one of the five people who’d braved the cold to attend her class seemed to share her enthusiasm. The over-sustenance of the holidays seemed to have taken a toll on all of us. I left class ten minutes early (I’ve never bailed on a class early before!), because an hour of cycling after three weeks of sparse exercise and holiday sweets was just too much. Somehow, I didn’t feel too badly about it, either.

Of course, after cycling, I enjoyed another high-calorie meal at the Pancake House, catching up with Kat. Afterward, I passed up an invitation to go shopping in favor of curling up at home with a book. Shameful! But it’s just my response to two weeks of over-stimulation. Really, how nice would it be to just be a bear? Eat and eat and eat, then sleep, sleep, sleep. And wake up when it’s warm outside. Mmmm, pure decadence! But I’m not a lazy bear, nor do I want to look like one, so tomorrow I’ll have to get my neglected muscles back to the gym and try to break the pitiful two miles I couldn’t seem to surpass on the treadmill this week. Plus, I’ll be working tomorrow in anticipation of the crazy weeks ahead. It’s going to be a busy month. Nope, no hibernation for this cub.