Oh the mundanity of it. It’s time for my annual vacation at home: that indulgent time off that starts a couple days before Christmas and ends after the New Year. During this time I am not just off, but I am off. I spend my days doing nothing much and reveling in it. Altogether it is ten days of staying up late, sleeping in late (which for me might be 8 AM) and doing not much. My brain is in a different time and space. I enjoy all the comforts of home because, well, I am home.
And my wife and daughter are on vacation too. My wife happens to be unemployed so in a sense her vacation is about two months old now. This annual recess from real life is a perfect way to end a year that was full of work, school, extracurricular activities, doctors’ appointments, family crises and numerous other things, most of them necessary but no fun. So now it’s that time of year to turn off the dutiful part of my brain and recklessly, deliberately and insistently slack off.
I thought perhaps of starting a project to keep me busy, but that thought was quickly dismissed. There are some doors that need to come out and be replaced by drywall. We need to purchase and install a new microwave over the stove. But I can’t seem to summon the energy to start. I’d rather be lethargic. There was no hurry to do these things six months ago so there is no reason to do them now either. Even trying to sum up the energy to go see a movie is proving difficult. My wife is deeply into watching two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD that she got from me as a Christmas present. She doesn’t want to be disturbed by reality. My daughter is doing something similar. When she isn’t online (usually IMing her friend Laura) she is watching an Invader Zim DVD. When I can use the DVD player, which is not often, I am watching the appendices in the Extended Edition of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Mainly I exercise, eat a bit too much Christmas food, and surf the Net. It’s good to be a vegetable as long as the money keeps coming in.
Not that I’ve been permitted to totally zone out. There was the usual Christmas activities and obligations to attend to. The Christmas Eve dinner with the parents and my sister at our house went well. They arrived late and took off early, which was fine because we saw them all again on Christmas morning at my parent’s apartment. But by 3 p.m. my crew was anxious to rush home to do nothing in particular. There was too much socializing going on for their tastes. Time to go back to Gumby mode.
Once a year I use this time to go to areas of the World Wide Web I normally don’t bother with. I read obscure Usenet news groups. Foreign newspapers. Kos diaries that aren’t even recommended. Polyamory newsgroups. I watch online short movies at sites like Atomfilms.com. I even peruse the casual encounters section at Craigslist. (I have to wonder about some like this lady.)
I’ve decided though that with the remainder of the week I will reconnect with friends if I can. Since I’ve changed jobs I’ve lost regular contact with friends mostly made through work. It’s time to make a physical presence again instead of trading emails. My dance card is filling up. Tuesday I’ll lunch with my friend Sokhama in Silver Spring. But I will also show my friend Frank the virtues of my new Honda Civic Hybrid. And, as long as I’m near my parent’s apartment I’ll bring my wife’s laptop with me and do some modem diagnostics for my father. Wednesday I hope to see my friend Courtney for lunch, who also lives and works in Silver Spring. And Friday it’s Angela’s turn to endure me for lunch; we’ll meet at Union Station. And somewhere in there I hope to see Lisa and her husband Bill to fix a computer problem they’re having. But I’m hoping Lisa and I can abscond to a Starbucks for some long neglected chitchat.
Somewhere in all this time maybe I’ll see another movie. We’ll take down the Christmas tree and the outdoor lights. I’ll pay some bills. But mostly I hope to keep doing a whole lot of nothing. The most ambitious I’ve gotten so far on Day 4 was to work on the web site for the next class I will teach in January. Since it’s basically the same as the one it didn’t take too much time.
My wife and daughter are big into emulating vegetables. I have to admit there is something to be said for it. What’s the point of working hard for a living if there is not the reward of being able to recklessly slack off? I need to do more slacking. I need to chill. Instead more often than not (and mostly out of habit) I am running from one activity to the next. But for now I live in the moment and enjoy each day in its splendid mundanity while it lasts.