Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Whole Day of Nothing

Our wonderful respite care worker, Joanna, watched Connor from 10:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night today. As a result, I've made a discovery. My entire life revolves around Connor's activities, and I no longer have any idea what to do with myself when I have an entire day alone. Seriously. No idea.

Here's how the day was supposed to work: I'd spend the morning at the zoo with a friend and her foster daughter. Then I'd eat a leisurely lunch, stop by the bookstore, and spend the afternoon watching a movie with another friend. Then I'd have just enough time to get back home before 7:00. Sounds good, right?

What actually happened was I got up and realized that on my shopping trip for diapers and wipes yesterday I picked up lots of groceries, none of which happened to be diapers or wipes. This meant that we were down to five diapers and three wipes. Not good. So I ran to the grocery store as soon as Joanna got here and picked those up. Then I called my zoo buddy, who as it turns out was also out running errands, and we determined that by the time we got to the zoo I would be out of time for lunch and movie. We canceled our zoo trip.

This meant that I had several hours to kill before it was movie time. I made a beeline for the bookstore. I wanted to pick up a copy of Slaughterhouse Five for my personal collection, because it's a fantastic book and I'm tired of checking it out at the library. Unfortunately they were out of stock. "So it goes," I told the lady behind the counter, and chuckled.

She didn't get it. That's what I get for throwing around literary humor.

Anyway, I settled for a copy of The Jungle, a lonely planet guide to Afghanistan, and Charles De'Lint's newest novel. By this point it was lunch time, so I stopped by a little tea shop to get some lunch. There was no dress code posted, and I didn't realize when I stepped inside that this was the type of tea place where you're supposed to wear a dress, a little pillbox hat, and possibly a pair of white gloves. At least that's what the two elderly ladies sipping their tea in there were wearing. I was hungry though, not within walking distance of any other restaurant, and there were about twelve empty tables, so I decided to eat there anyway. The waitress lingered over the only occupied table in the room, pointedly ignoring me. "Can I help you?" she finally asked after I failed to go away, looking in disgust at my jeans. Her expression suggested that she hoped not and that I would take my non-pillbox-hat-wearing disreputable person somewhere else, but I disappointed her by requesting a table. "All by yourself, are you?" she said, and tut-tutted when I replied affirmatively. So not only was I a slob, but I was a social pariah too. She made the mistake of letting me choose my own table and I picked the one most visible from the window in revenge and seriously considered tucking my napkin into my shirt and chewing with my mouth open.

I ordered a Princess Tea, which while described in dulcet tones on the menu proved to consist of a pot of tea, a small scone, two apple slices, a slice of orange, two paper thin slices of strawberry, two blueberries, and a tiny little sandwich with the crusts cut off. This cost me fourteen dollars after tax. No doubt these were blueberries harvested at midnight under the full moon at the peak of ripeness by pixies, because that's about the only way I could think of to justify paying $1.40 per blueberry, which is what it works out to if you split that fourteen bucks up evenly.

Pixie harvested blueberries taste just like regular blueberries by the way, and they don't seem to bestow any magical powers or wishes or anything. Disappointing. Guess I won't be back.

After my ridiculously priced meal, I dropped by the house to grab my journal, and then headed off to the park to do some writing. I found a nice spot down by the lake and wrote for a while, and then munched my way down a few trails. The dewberries and salmonberries I found were just as tasty as those blueberries, I might point out-- even if they were picked by ordinary me.

By this point I was expecting to hear from my movie-going friend; we hadn't picked a theater yet, and the movie times were fast approaching. Unfortunately due to a medical emergency she had to cancel, leaving me with another four hours left to kill. The mosquitoes were biting me through my clothes and the park was rapidly losing its appeal. I needed air conditioning. The library was closed and I didn't feel like walking around a store, so I ended up at a Starbucks curled up in a chair with one of my new books, nursing another cup of tea and a cookie.

After two hours or so I couldn't really pretend I was still drinking my tea, so I went down to the craft store and picked up a new canvas. I like to dabble in painting and we had a blank stretch of wall in our house calling me, so I thought I'd whip something together until I could find a painting by a real artist to hang there. You see the results-- it'll make a good place marker until I find something better. After that, I was completely out of ideas. I considered walking around Fred Meyer for the remaining two hours, but that seemed a little pathetic. I ended up going home (slowly) changing clothes (slowly) and walking (slowly) down to the gym, where I killed the last hour on the elliptical machine.

Though I enjoyed the day, I think I'll break up the rest of the respite care this month into smaller amounts of time. I've apparently lost the ability to entertain myself.



Audrey said...

your painting is just as wonderful as your literary work of art, your blog!

Julia said...

What a perfect day! It must be bewildering trying to remember how to do things just for fun, just on a lark, but I'm sure it's a skill that comes back with a little practice. Maybe you should gather up a friend, put on stuffy dresses and pillbox hats (don't forget the modest string of pearls), and go back to that teahouse, and *then* tuck your napkin into your collar and eat with your mouth open. Feel free to spit a little food when you talk. That'll learn 'em to judge a book by its cover.

Lin said...

I'm not sure you don't know how to entertain, or the job you do everyday is just so huge that most things pale in comparison. Yeah, there is a lot of work, but you do it with love for Connor and nothing else is all that important anymore, is it?

I'm glad that you got away and just did something for yourself--no matter how lame. If you do this more often, you 'll find more things to do with your time that actually seem like fun. I always found anything without the kids wasn't much fun anyway--isn't that funny how we change after motherhood??

Ellen said...

OK, I am still laughing over that description of you in the tea place (and the "So it goes" reference). I know just what you mean about free time; when I have some, I inevitably end up running errands. Clearly, I need some practice, too! You've inspired me. We have half days on Fridays at the office during the summer, I am going to go do some things I love--explore a local photography center, maybe get a facial, or just sit in a coffee shop and read.

Candace said...

Wow! I can really relate to loosing yourself in your child! I tried explaining that to my hubby one time, he didn't get it! May God bless you as well as your little boy!

wherever HE leads we'll go said...

The description of the tea place cracked me up. At least you don't have to spend another day on this earth wondering what pixie picked blueberries taste like - how many people can say that?

I can totally relate to what you are saying. What on earth would I do with time to myself? Nothing comes to mind. Even when my husband and I have a date night - we don't know what to do with ourselves. So sad!

Michelle said...

Nine consecutive hours of respite care?!! I wouldn't know what to do with myself either, so I appreciate hearing about your Connor-free day. I'm booking one four hour shift per week over the summer instead of three hours, hoping the extra hour will help me relax and thus focus and be productive! Don't you wonder what you did with your time before your son was born?!!

Love your painting - do you have a history with painting or are you just inspired from time to time?

And I especially love the story of the tea shop blueberries vs. the wild one - hilarious!

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