9:30am. No alarm; my eyes simply open, and the act of focusing is slow and arduous. On these mornings, when I have little on a to-do list and even less of a plan of how to spend my day, even the process of awaking is slow and intentionally laborious. I even forget for several minutes that I need glasses to see.
Once I finally muster the kinetic energy required to sit up, the evolution of the day is spread before me, like a 3D map of possibilities. Statistically speaking, at least as far as statistics of my choices exist, I will probably not be too adventurous on this day. The extent of my decision making will be whether or not to attempt the Sunday Times crossword.
10:00am. Speaking of the Sunday Times! I step carefully down my spiraling New England staircase to the first floor and the front door, opening it to whatever weather is happening to us, and to the blue bag of reading that gets delivered to me every morning. On a Sunday, this pouch of information is particularly enticing, and symbolic of long-drawn cups of coffee and the smell of bacon and eggs.
The paper properly dropped on the kitchen table, I greet my cats with a bowl of food and ear scritches, and turn on the coffeemaker, stretching and mussing my own bedhead, excited to relax and read.
12:00pm. The remains of the paper and my breakfast lie on the table, and I contemplate cleaning up, but this responsible impulse gives way to sitting in the easy chair instead and looking over the upcoming week’s money situation. I log on to my bank’s website (Simple, for those who care about such things), and budget money for this and that, and those too. Bills are checked and accounted for.
I also contemplate shopping. This contemplation can last for several hours while I finally wash the breakfast dishes and also see what needs acquiring at the local shop. Milk? Eggs? Olives? I can never have too many olives. I have two cans now. Why not make it four?
2:00pm. I’ve finally managed to shower and get dressed, but probably not shave. Oh well, I think, there’s always tomorrow for that. Procrastination is my friend, or at least my enabling acquaintance. I check for the bus time. Not for another fifteen minutes.
I go to the computer. Let’s check Facebook for a few minutes!
4:00pm. I finally stop watching YouTube videos and following 438 Wikipedia links and various articles about GMOs and orange fields and decide to go shopping.
I love grocery shopping. I couldn’t tell you why, because it’s an abysmally boring activity that no one should enjoy, but I find it relaxing. This trip is no different; I compare different cucumbers and onions, looking for an optimal and enduring specimen that will get me through a week. I compare the carbohydrate content between different rices, which is silly because I’m not even going to buy rice. I count the number of ingredients in the new sugar-free cookies I just found. Not too many. In the cart it goes.
I get in line to check out, having mentally prepared my dinner. While waiting for the lady in front of me to slowly finish penning the required info on a paper check, I wonder how half my day is already gone and I have nothing to show for it. I begin to feel anxious, because I know I should be making the most of each day but there is too much to do—chores and ambitions, necessary things and writing, which is also necessary—and so what I valued this morning I no longer value: time to stop and smell the roses. Or just to relax.
6:00pm. The anxiety settles into acceptance, and I am catching up on magazines. I only get three—Wired, Nat Geo, and Cook’s Illustrated—yet somehow I am three issues behind on each. I glance at them, then I put the iPad away.
My brain catches fire! An idea has tripped over it, and now lies flat-faced in my head while I try to revive it and formulate it and turn it into an article idea, or something useful for one of the books I’m working on and never seem to finish. I rush to the computer, open a blank document, and start to put it all together. As soon as I’m done, I’ll start dinner.
8:30pm. I’ve sketched out an article, my stomach is grumbling, and I realize I’m about to eat at 9:30 by the time I finish cooking some hunk of dead animal I bought and the vegetables that I didn’t grow. I consider the possibility of moving to or owning a farm, so I can live off the land and my own wits, and by the time I decide I don’t have the wits necessary to live off the land, it’s almost 9:00 and I frantically start to cook dinner before the day ends completely and I’m stuffing my face at 1 in the morning.
9:45pm. I sit down to eat, and because there is no one to talk to across from me at the table, I put on an episode of Law & Order, slowly cutting my near-perfect steak and picking at my green beans (French-cut, for those who care about such things), while I pay half of my attention to the show and the other half on finishing my article. That half of my attention also wanders to the daydream I have of getting paid to write, or should I say the pipe dream of being a professional writer. I remember that I do get paid sometimes, and that makes me feel a little bit professional. I also remember that being taken out to dinner and putting out on the first date is coincidental and not professional, either. Hmm.
11:00pm. Oh, shit. I remember I need to do laundry.
11:15pm. There’s still some of the newspaper left. I put on some tea, Explosions in the Sky, and put the cat in my lap as I skim over the Sunday Styles and Travel sections of the Times, so I can look at things I will never own and places I will probably never see. I think about the fleetingness of our days and vow to slow it down so I can do things in this life that is possibly near half-over. I reflect on the day that is nearing an end, any remains of it stewing in the coldness of the night that doesn’t care about regrets or nostalgia. I wonder how much of my life has mattered.
But I think back to the people I’ve loved, and who have loved me. Some people have never had this basic need fulfilled, and I have had a measure of it that has been satisfying. I may not have had the drive to see the world, but I see worlds in people, and explore those. That is worth something.
12:30am. I take a look at the article I plan to post tomorrow. I touch up a few things, and take notes on things to change and finish. I watch an episode of MasterChef that’s been sitting on my TiVo for three weeks now, while folding my clothes. I play with the cat in between shirts and boxers, socks and shorts.
I look around my apartment. It’s not awesome, but it’s mine. I think about things I’d like to do with it. I think about leaving it for another in the city. I think about leaving the city for another city or for the suburbs or the woods. I think about change. I see I am changing, but maybe not fast enough.
I set the coffeemaker up for the next morning, which will not be lazy but will have purpose. I set my alarm. I will wake up quickly and hit the day like an atom bomb.
1:00am. My head hits the pillow. I see visions of people I knew, people I know, people who are gone from the earth. I see a future I want, the past I had, and mixed in with these reveries, what the upcoming week holds. My love I had when I was 14. The meeting I have at the end of next week. An interview for a new position. My best friend who hasn’t spoken to me in a month. A doctor’s appointment. My father who passed away in January.
Until, finally, sleep. Eyes close. Unconsciousness comes and seeps around the edges of dreams. And another week will turn and turn, until next Sunday, when we’ll do it all again, and some things will change, but so much will be the same.