I am not usually a “writing prompt” kind of girl. (DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!) But it is a little different when it is offered in the context of community. It is a rare occasion that it doesn’t burn my guts to be a “part of” something, but I do so enjoy being “part of ” the group of writers that is ChicagoNow.
So, a “one city, one book” for blogs kinda deal? Sure. Whatchu got? I’m game.
Then Jimmy Greenfield, community manager at ChicagoNow announces the theme, “Taking a Break” as I’m lying face up, motionless, on my bed: day one of a three day break.
How stinkin’ meta.
I haven’t had a three day break in ten years. No joke. I’ve been super busy, y’all.
(Wait. Sleep doesn’t count as a break, right? It better not.)
Oh, I’ve had vacation days, of course. I’m not saying I didn’t have time off. I did.
I’m saying I didn’t take a break.
I did the math. Of those ten non-break years, the first four were spent doing a lot of things of which I remember very little. I had only recently gotten my life back on track after The Decade of Stupid, and anyway we have to live in the moment because it’s all we really have and what’s done is done so why look back oh hell no I don’t keep my old calendars because that’s called hoarding!
For the next three years, I was raising a newborn to be a three year old. Here’s my advice about that: You can’t “take a break” from a newborn. (You’re welcome.)
For these last three years, I didn’t even have the luxury of the option of “taking a break.” I was earning my masters degree, and it was costing me about $5 a minute. Plus, I’m a slow reader. So even a fifteen minute nap would cost me $75 and five pages of a good book.
And for all ten of those years, I also had a job. And in that time, the evolution of productivity in the workplace also refrained from taking a break.
Communication reached into communion. Technology breached our trappings. Invisibility became invalid. Absence lost all integrity, what with everyone and everything being everywhere all the time, every time.
There were times I sensed I might need to “take a break.”
You want three days off from work? Sure, you can do that because our capacity for productivity has doubled, and oh wait, hold the phone, this just in; there’ve been some budget cuts and now we’ve all got to do more with less and now ironically you will have less time to do more so good thing, huh?
Never mind. I don’t really need a break. Breaks are for chumps. Lucky, lucky chumps.
The week leading up to this three day break was no more or less stressful than any other in my life: six work days in a row that included planning, packing, two overnight trips in four days, both to Milwaukee, one that included the surreal experience of sitting in the entrance way of the Wisconsin State Fair with a man who has a schizophrenia diagnosis and engages in a never-ending stream-of-consciousness voice-over for the world at large. He sat in a lawn chair at the entrance to the fair telling thousands of large Wisconsonites streaming by things like “I have had about enough of cranberries!” and “I’m gonna call up Barbara Streisand and tell her I think she is ugly!” …
…“Maybe give it a break,” I would suggest to him…
…and then, because my son was away on an Alaskan cruise with the ex, I raced home to pack for a quick jaunt to LA to bask in the orangey sun I love so much, when BLAMMO.
Several Big Issues plopped their asses down in the front of my brain and wouldn’t get back up. Not even if I promised them ice cream.
You know the Big Issues, right? We’ve all got them. The ones that raise their hand to be called on during those few short seconds of stillness at a red light, or when you’re walking from your office to the copy room, or just before you fade out of the day at hand.
Well this past Friday, those Big Issues got together and organized a sit-in in the center of my forehead. A protest.
It was a genius move. I couldn’t lift my head from my pillow they were so heavy against the front of my skull. In my last grunts of effort, I burned through the remaining fumes on which I had been running.
A break can be a verb or a noun. On Friday, for me, it was both.
Things I took a break from:
- Even one single other person’s agenda.
- Food with vitamins.
- Food with minerals.
- The outdoors.
- Giving a shit.
- Ignoring the Big Issues.
Things I didn’t take a break from:
- Staring at walls
- Staring at ceilings
- Calling my cat Kendall a “jerk.”
This break was kind of like a date night between me and the Big Issues. I made out with those suckers. I just macked on them in a dark room with the shades closed. It was actually delicious. I felt them up, gave them a nice ride, and now they aren’t all over me anymore.
“Break”fast in bed, baby…
I’m tidying up these words in the blue morning light between vertical plastic blinds. The window is open, and I can hear the morning commute. I’m going back in, today. Back for more. Back to the drag.
But before I even leave my home, here is what I have already noticed about my time on the “break.”
- The world still turned.
- Bad things still happened in the world.
- People were born.
- People died.
- My company did not shut down.
- It was f*cking awesome.
Why did I wait ten years for a three day break? That was dumb.
Okay. I’m back in underwear, and heading out the door, smelling like soap. Wish me luck as I take a break from “taking a break.”
(You can bet yer ass it won’t be ten years before I do it again…)
That’s my piece. And that’s my peace. Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world. Carry on…
Old Single Mom
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