After a grading bender on Saturday and Sunday, I managed to finish all my work before Thanksgiving Break even began. So, when Monday morning rolled around and my husband prepared for work while I sat in my pajamas under my heated blanket like an elderly invalid, I quavered out this feeble question: “What should I do today?”
He replied, “Do nothing. Do absolutely nothing. Don’t clean. Don’t cook. Watch TV and read books all day. Seriously, if that empty bowl of yogurt residue is not sitting on the table when I get home, I’m going to find it and throw it against the wall to watch it shatter into a billion yogurty pieces, a symbol of your broken serenity.” (I might have made that last part up).
So I girded my loins and prepared for the daunting battle against my own sense of guilt. You see, I don’t quite know how to do lazy. I’m sure I’m not alone here. When I try to relax, guilty, wormy thoughts squeeze through the cracks in my brain and whisper obligations to me (guilt worms can whisper, btw, and they look like this):
“Lazy cow,” they whisper, “there are so many things you should be doing right now. Cleeeean something. Wriiiite something. Plaaaaan something, dummy! Harvest someone’s organs! Do something! If you don’t, your humanity will be revoked, and you will become one of usssss! Blaaaaargaaaagarrr!”
It’s usually just easier to acquiesce to their demands, but on Monday, I decided to make a concerted effort to not put forth any effort.
I watched movies. I read books. I stayed in my pajamas, curled up in my heated blanket burrito, drinking tea (dream big, people, dream big) and breathing. Most of the time I feel like I’m holding my breath, swimming upstream against a steady deluge of work. Monday I was finally able to take some slow, deep breaths into the brown paper bag of my first real day off in a long time.
Every now and then, another guilt worm would whisper in my ear, but I managed to stuff a sock in its terrifying maw long enough to enjoy my day.
Highlights of last week? Listening to a teenage girl on the bus tell her friend, “White people and light-skin people look nasty, like they sick. Look like somethin’ wrong with they skin. Ugh. I could never date outside my race.”
I get it. I’m pale. My skin is roughly the color of copier paper. Beetle-cleaned bones. Basmati. But, come on, it’s not like I look like Lord Voldemort:
My lily-white skin does react poorly to sunlight, though. On my honeymoon, despite emptying the entire contents of a family-sized bottle of sunscreen onto my body, I still managed to get sun poisoning. My whole face swelled up. I looked approximately like this:
Also, when I was working at a daycare, a little boy asked me, “Why you draw all over yourself with markers?” It took me a minute to realize he was pointing to the bright blue veins shining through my translucent skin.
I’m pale. Still, I like my skin. It keeps out pathogens and cat hair like most skin. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not trying to chat that girl up and get her number, though; she might just vomit all over me, and then who knows what color I would be?
Highlight #2: While having a discussion with my students about the purpose of higher education (whether it is simply to prepare them for careers, or whether it is also about shaping their character), one student raised his hand and said, “I think high school is when we shape our character and figure out who we’re going to be. I think when we get to college, we should pretty much know that stuff already, so college should just be streamlined and focused on our careers. We pretty much did all our growing up in high school.”
Did you think like that when you were a freshman? I don’t remember thinking that, and a cursory/embarrassing visit to my old journal confirms that I pretty much felt like a fetus when I was 18 (and wrote like a fetus, too – a depressed, angsty, hormonal fetus). Is this a common thought amongst college freshmen now?
I asked him, “Think about who you were when you were 13. Were you pretty much the same as you are now, or different?” (Obviously he replied ‘Pretty different’) “OK then, imagine yourself when you are 23. Does turning 18, legally becoming an adult, really put a stop to your ability or need to grow any more than becoming a teenager caused you to completely put away your childhood and suddenly become mature?”
Cue crickets and blank stares.
Anyway, I’m on break now, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy it with people you love (or at least tolerate). Go find some leaves and roll in them for me. All mine are covered in snow spat out by the encroaching winter demon who longs only to torment me with his jagged, icicle fingers. Oh warm fingers and toes! Would that I knew you still! Pray you return swiftly and reattach yourselves to my icy stumps.