Monday, March 15, 2010

This is love.

Remind me of this when I get to "balance and boundaries" month: I need to set limits. On myself. On my to-do list. I need to stop seeing life as one giant, never-ending to-do list on yellow legal paper. With check boxes.

My need for ticking off check boxes comes, ironically, from wanting to live and enjoy life. The irony is that it really gets in the way of me doing so. I realized this today. I woke up at 7, way too early for a day off (my apologies to any moms reading this, who regularly get up before the sun). Michael had driven out to stay at the hotel with me Sunday night after an afternoon spent with one of our closest friends. It was divine. We had lobster ravioli and a fireplace in our room, which we made good use of. At 7 this morning, I was not ready to face the reality of strapping on skis for the first time in two years and getting my ass kicked in a PSIA (professional ski instructors of America, for the unitiated) clinic. In the rain. I checked and double-checked the mountain's website. It claimed there was snow. After roughly 118 days of rain (and massive flooding) I couldn't imagine skiing. But no matter how many times I refreshed my page, the claim remained.
So I showered. I dressed in layers. Starting with the leggings I've worn under my ski pants since high school. I'm not sure they still "fit" though I can still fit into them. Perhaps it's time for new ones. Maybe tomorrow I'll stick with sweatpants, even if they don't tuck neatly into my boots.

Anyway. Just after tucking my room key into my pocket, I checked the website one more time.


I was briefly annoyed, having woken up and showered and geared myself up for the day.

But then I remembered how MUCH I had hoped for it to be cancelled. And I relished the idea that it really was.

Which made me immediately paranoid that it wasn't. I mean, no one had called or emailed me. I'm staying at the only hotel in town--the mountain inn. I called the front desk. They confirmed the mountain is closed, though they know nothing of the clinic (despite the fact that clearly everyone else registered to take or teach the clinic must also be staying here.) I called the mountain--they confirm they are closed but don't have info about the clinic. I call the PSIA office. They are closed, so I leave a message.

Feeling better about my sudden freebie day, I am elated. My head immediately fills with a to-do list for a free hotel day. I have a magazine to finish. Danish to learn. A movie to watch. More sleep to be slept. Snacks to indulge in. A MASSAGE to indulge in.

I call the spa, and let them know my schedule has freed up. I book a 2:00 appointment and go back to bed. At 9, my phone rings. PSIA calling me back to let me know they are doing indoor training at the mountain after all. Not cancelled.

The guilt floods in, but I accept the reality that I've gone too far in my planning for the day to give in to the guilt that I've already paid for this clinic. That, in fact, I need to take the clinic. Unwittingly, the woman offers me an out, "I don't know how far away you are, or if you've already made other plans for the day." I don't tell her I am minutes away and that my grand plans involve a spa and some blueberries. I tell her I did, in fact, make other plans. She offers to schedule me for a replacement clinic. I tell her I had to take time off for work for this and it will be hard to reschedule. I ask if the second day will still take place, if I can still do that. She agrees to give me clinic credit for going tomorrow and assures me they will be skiing on the mountain. I thank her.

I still feel guilty when I hang up--I did pay for this, after all, and take off from work. But if I am honest with myself, this is the best possible outcome. Doing "indoor training" whatever that entails, for 7 hours does not sound like fun. While a totally free day away from my messy apartment and job does. I still get the clinic credit. I still get to ski. Skiing for one day will surely be less painful than skiing for two. I can get through anything for one day.

I go back to sleep. I woke up every hour last night for some reason, so I'm still really tired. At 11, I rouse myself and decide that I'll want to spend as much time in the hotel room as possible, so I decide to go out before my massage and grab lunch, and hit the grocery store to buy dinner and snacks. I venture out in the rain, and find a Barnes and Noble right next to the grocery store. I buy healthy (!) frozen pizza, two pints of blueberries, bottled water (who am I kidding? I have Dr. Pepper at the hotel) and two books before returning to the hotel.

I have mapped out my day. I want to enjoy the massage, maybe nap a bit more, finish my magazine, spend at least an hour on Danish, watch a movie, start my book, go through the folded down pages in my two magazines so I can recycle them and move on with my life, update my blog, and shop for my newest nephew. And get to sleep by ten.

Given that I get back from my massage at 3, this all sounds reasonable and delightful. I start with checking my email, though, and find I have some awful virus on my computer. I spend the next two hours trying to install an antivirus program and get rid of the virus. I only succeed on one count and get really frustrated before realizing this is a bad use of my fun time. I try one more thing before letting it go and drifting off into napland at 5:30. I force myself up at 7 and start some baby shopping. At 8, I turn on the tv to watch a new favorite: Life Unexpected. I shop through the show, and then Gossip Girl comes on. I don't want to watch it. I am taping it at home. But I decide to make dinner and it's hard to read while eating a frozen pizza in bed. Not enough hands. By the time I'm done eating, there's only 15 minutes left in the show and I can't not finish it. I will myself to just shut the tv off, knowing that I can watch the ending at home. I start the bath, but don't climb in until the credits roll.

I bring my magazine with me, and get out when the water has settled into lukewarm. I have somehow finished both pints of blueberries. Is that bad?

It's nearly 11 by then, and I haven't done half the things on my to-do list and instead of luxuriating in my hotel day I'm feeling a little stressed out. And I need to wake up even earlier tomorrow, to pack everything up before getting to the mountain early enough to figure out how to join a group that I didn't participate in today.

I decide I feel more like blogging than Danish. Maybe I can do double time tomorrow.

This is why I need limits. Like only 3 items on a to-do list at a time. ESPECIALLY a vacation day to-do list.

On the bright side, I am feeling joyful about my marriage. My husband. Last night was wonderful. And our time apart today--maybe equally wonderful, even though I would have said I'd rather he come back tonight. I am so thoroughly loving my life today that it makes a mockery of the last few weeks of hating it so thoroughly.

This is what happens over spring break, when the dorms empty. It makes me question this lifestyle, if you want to be honest. But I know this time of year is just like this. In May I will be enjoying the students as much as I will wistfully wait for summer.

Back to Michael, though. I asked him to check the basement, because of all the flooding. He reported back a little water seepage but nothing bad and asked if there was anything important down there. I told him there were boxes of books that I'd be sad if they got ruined, but if they weren't near the water he needn't bother about it. I assumed he'd shrug it off and go about his night. If I were in his shoes, I would have. A free night is not well spent in a damp basement, moving boxes.

I was shocked when, an hour later, he texted me to tell me that it was worse than it first looked. That some books had gotten wet but he moved everything at risk out of harm's way.

I don't care what you say. This is love.

And this:
On Saturday, I flopped onto the landing and sighed.

Michael: that was a big sigh.
Me: Yeah. (pause) I have a problem.
Michael: What's your problem?
Me: silence
Michael: looks up from computer with questioning, slightly worried look.
Me: I need want to do my laundry.
Michael: Why do you need me to want to do your laundry?
Me: Because I have no underwear left and I need to do laundry before packing. But I don't know what I can offer you to make you want to do it. (hopefully) Do you?
Michael: Umm.....(thoughtfully)...But the girls are gone.
Me: It was never about the girls. I hate laundry. It's overwhelming, with so many steps (and so many steps to walk down!)
Michael: Well, I guess I can do it.
Me: (speechless)

I don't know if you've ever heard of the five love languages? Well, this is mine: helping. Doing things for me that I am too lazy or tired or overwhelmed or weak to do for myself. Without complaint or asking for something in return. This makes me feel taken care of. In the best sense.

It's 11:35, so I need to stop and quickly tell my husband how great he is before quickly falling asleep. Wish me lots of luck on the slopes tomorrow. I'm gonna need it! Check back soon for an update of LOTS of Danish learning!

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