Some three and a half years ago, I took a sabbatical from work, ostensibly to do bigger, better, more worthwhile things in life. (Unfortunately, I settled back into more mundane living fairly quickly, without utilizing my downtime in any meaningful way. Clearly, the current break will have to be much more purposeful!)
This note below captures the heady feeling of the early days of that break…dated October 2009, location New York, NY.
Ah, the Art of Sleep. Or, rather, the Art of Waking-Up-Late. For some, waking up late means 8 am, which is such a pity – this artform is clearly wasted on them. For others, waking up at 11 am or later comes easy. Natural Born Artists. So you continue to hone this Talent each day.
Sometime mid-morning sleep eventually dissipates. Your eyes hook up with your iPhone/Watch/Media Center/Newspaper/Life. 10.55. You float out of bed around the same time as Worker-Bees all around town are hearing the first rumblings in their stomachs. After all, lunch hour is near. The Sun has already expended much of its morning energy, but you don’t notice that because the blinds are down (sensible move last night). Your first act of the day is to bring the Sound-and-Fury box back to life. You already made sure the remote stayed close at hand. Choices abound – there’s CNN, if you want to know how much your Life would Suck if you hadn’t been Goldman Sachs (but wait, you aren’t Goldman Sachs…). Then there’s Martha, who can teach you how to make Champignon French-something-or-other with mushroom caps and cheese, and craft decorations with discarded mushroom stems and glitter. Super talented woman. But best to settle with the Ladies of The View. Five women talking animatedly about important-sounding topics, you know, Jon and Kate, Balloon Boy and such. They can’t seem to agree between themselves that the sky is blue. And what greater pass time than to guess which dentures Barbara Walters chose to wear today – clearly, she rotates between several pairs depending upon her need for audible coherence?
Breakfast at 12. If you have made lunch (aka breakfast) plans with friends, food is taken care of. But each time you are out having lunch, you wonder why things appear rushed. Could it be that your Worker-Bee-Friend needs to get back to work? You are in no hurry yourself, but those Au Bon Pain soup bowls carry only so much soup. Even the Large ones. Though lunch plans are quick and easy, and your friends have suggested them a few times, you are a lazy sloth (painful to take a quick shower, get ready, and leave home by 1). So you plan to meet another day. Maybe later in the week – Friday.
Today, you are home for breakfast – things are much simpler. The Fridge holds the key to your happiness. Milk. Direct from a cow some two thousand miles away. Wholesome, pure…missing some fat, but with added vitamins. What else…there is Pepperidge Farms Bread – unspoilt even after a week. Fortified with cement, presumably. There’s some Swiss cheese. Organic Grade-A-Large-Eggs with yummy Good-Cholesterol. Gala Apples and Dole Bananas before they go too ripe. But you look beyond all that and grab the big box of Cheerios you bought yesterday. After watching that ad in which a grandfather is having Cheerios with his year-old grandson. They were loving it so! Nothing like a good bowl of cereal. Except carrot cake. Or any cake.
All through your miserable years at work, you have wondered about those folks who sit at Starbucks in the middle of the afternoon, sipping coffee and reading a book. WHAT is their profession – and how do you get to be one of THEM? Well, now is your chance. So you grab your great new Novel, in all its 700 pages of hard bound enormity, and lug it to the cafe two blocks away. You don’t really like coffee, so you order yourself a dessert drink. There is no one ahead or behind you in line, so you get a clear picture of how your Frappucciono is manufactured. Basically, they start with Heavy Cream. Then they add some mix (sugar syrup?) from a bottle. Followed by some fruity looking syrup from a second bottle. Off to the blender. Followed by a huge dollop of more Heavy Cream to top it up. Your heart fails just toting up the calories and Bad-Cholesterol count. The kid behind the counter smiles as she hands the Venti to you, her lips saying ‘Enjoy’ though her eyes clearly mean ‘Good Luck surviving that’.
Drink in hand, you seat yourself at a table with a so-so view of the Street. The best seats are already taken by Ferocious-looking-Hipsters. (Go back to your East Village, you Skinny Jeans Morons). Anyhow, you are not to be undone…you fish out your giant book with both hands (your bag and your shoulder thank you for it). You read. 3.15.
Outside the window, you spot a chick wearing mittens (already?). An old but well preserved lady with a dog. Back to the book. Two new visitors to the cafe. Marble cake…mmm, maybe you should get that, too. Two sips of the Frappuccino. Book. The visitors settle down at a worse table – take that, Losers. NYU Kids. Ah to be young in New York. Outside, the Mailman runs his block. Frappuccino. Book. Repeat. 3.30.
Only 3.30? Concentrate on the book. It is a great book, but this public area coccooning is new to you. The sounds and visuals are distracting. IPOD! Yes, take that out. Headphone all set. Playlist set to 500-Days-of-Summer. Go. Book. Frappuccino. Book. Repeat. Man running. Two giggly girls. One of the Ferocious-looking-Hipster starts to leave. Should you change you seat? No, that’s uncool, surely. Book. More Book. Even more Book. Frappuccino. Skip Song. Skip next Song, too. Frappuccino. Book. More Book. Even more Book. Now mainly Book and little much Else.
4.30. This turned out to be reasonably ok. You need more practice, so maybe you will repeat this again tomorrow. Or maybe, later in the week – Friday. Did 20 pages of the Book. The Brick goes back into the bag (groan). Onward home.
The Mega Million Lotto is now 108 MILLION DOLLARS! Stop by the neighborhood deli. Pretend you are there to buy something else…Snapple Grapeade, say. And just by-the-way ask for 3 Mega Million tickets. You know, to top out the 5 dollars you placed on the counter.
Finally Home. Free until 7 when you meet your friend over dinner. Go for a run? But you showered already, so perhaps tomorrow. Maybe later in the week – Friday. Catch up on recorded Jay Leno and Conans. Conan is still not funny…poor guy. But you want to be nice to him, so you continue to watch politely. You doze off…as your Natural-born-talent manifests itself again only after a few short hours. But, as Conan says bye for the night, you wake up as well. Perhaps time to change your shirt for the evening. You look through the closet to realize – 1) you still haven’t done laundry, and 2) you don’t have good clothes, anyway. Laundry and Shopping coming up. Maybe later in the week – Friday.
Off for dinner. Thai, Indian, Mexican or Chinese, typically. Usually cheap, and always worth it – there is a reason why New York apartments come with kitchens and smoke-alarms 1 feet apart from each other. Why would anyone want to cook in New York?
Home later. After 9, even your cellphone provider sets you free, so go yap as much as you want. But talking is so 2007, now that there is Facebook…Think of something truly witty for your Facebook status. Think hard. Continue to think. Eventually, give up – it’s not as if you have anything to report – you haven’t done ANYTHING today. Witty or otherwise.
Mr Sandman won’t visit for a while, so you extricate the Brick from the bag. Read the Book. It’s actually quite delightful…you wonder why you couldn’t concentrate at Starbucks. You continue to read. 1 am. You want to catch up on your sleep – there’s much to be done tomorrow. Or, at least, much to done later in the week – Friday.
This is Life you could get used to. You wish your parents had worked harder when they were younger…and left you a Trust Fund.