Sunday, June 01, 2008

Making downtime

I seldom stop doing stuff, even when I'm supposedly "relaxing" -- I fold clothes while I'm watching TV, or go through the stacks of magazines that accumulate by my bedside table or in baskets all over the house, or read the newspapers more thoroughly.

I'll watch Oprah or a movie while I'm cooking or cleaning the kitchen up, or ironing (something I don't often do, but with linen season upon us, the stuff just does better if it's ironed, even briefly).

My mother didn't sit still either, at least until painful osteoporosis forced her into a sedentary life. She sewed or ironed or read while she watched TV or clipped coupons, or something. So it's not odd that I do much the same.

And it's not even something I really MIND doing, usually -- it just needs doing, and for some of these chores, TV makes them more enjoyable.

But sit and read a book? Wow. Only if I'm sick, and then I'm usually really sick and sleeping, not reading. (Note: I read every day. I read the newspapers (two of 'em), I read magazines over lunch, and I have a huge stack of books beside the bed. I always -- ALWAYS -- read after I crawl into bed and before I turn out the light: it helps me transition into sleep, let go of the day and most stressors. Sometimes I can even stay awake long enough to read several chapters.)

But vacation is when I get to read as much as I want, or give myself permission to watch TV without doing something else. Last summer, when we went to Tennessee, I put a significant dent in the last Harry Potter book while we were visiting my brother, and plane trips -- irritating as they can be -- are hours when I get to read without the remotest hint of guilt.

We had a little taste of downtime this weekend when we visited a friend in Davis and went to see Phantom of the Opera in Sacramento. We wandered around Davis, visited the Arboretum, sat outside and enjoyed an al fresco lunch and then brunch today, and talked about nothing deep.

And Phantom was simply glorious, just as I remembered it being the first time I saw it on stage long ago in Nashville, Tenn. We reveled in the music -- played the CDs all the way to Davis -- and it's been playing again in my head all day today.

The weekend was wonderful. Restful, although not related to sleep -- which we did, and well, thankyouverymuch, but just in the down time. Being away from the little things that call to me all the time at home -- do a load of laundry, check the garden, wipe down the sink, clean the kitty fountain, organize the desk -- you know. Being away from the lure of e-mail and Web browsers, from notes that need to get written into articles.

Honest-to-god down time.

We've got a longer escape planned for later, and it shouldn't require doing anything other than watching ocean waves and reading the Jodi Picoult novel I've been saving for such an occasion. I can't wait.

Meanwhile, there's a laundry basket full of clothes that need to be folded. Let me check what's on the DVR...

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