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Rites of Spring: A Self-Indulgent Weekend
PAGE ONE
March 2006

One of the items on The List is the somewhat-ambiguous “Have Self-Indulgent Weekend” and, with a couple hellish pre-conference weeks under my belt and The Husband-Type Man off for a week to Boston to help Sugarbear close on the house we’re going in on, it seemed like this weekend was an ideal time.

The initial inspiration for a Self-Indulgent Weekend likely came from my aforementioned horde of teen magazines when I was in Jr. Hi.; usually just in time for Back-to-School or the Prom, they always featured those makeover to-do lists… Beauty Guides and Fashion Planners and Nail Know-How and all those other countdowns and weekend schedules. The accompanying pictorials always featured fresh, pretty girls dressed in cute pastel sweatsuits and matching headbands or colorful robe-and-pj sets happily experimenting with hairstyles, organizing their wardrobe, steaming their pores, or planning a diet-and-exercise regime. And, as a teen, even if I could’ve managed the fluffy new sweats instead of the ratty navy sweatpant-things I dug out of one of those endless bags of used clothes Mom and Gram got from coworkers (to say nothing of affording the actual creams and toners and masks and other accouterments!), the likelihood of me having an uninterrupted weekend to hog the bathroom doing facial treatments or hang in my bedroom working out a fitness plan without someone interrupting or making fun of me was pretty unlikely.

When I was older, the idea of something intensely spiritual and emotional was more appealing: an entire weekend to meditate, dance, stretch, breathe, be! I could purify, like in Native American medicine sweat lodge ceremonies, cleansing my body and mind of toxins, focusing outward and inward…. Or what about a weekend writers’ retreat… a focused time of working on the stuff I never seem to find time to work on during the onslaught of school and conferences and papers and classes…? I could do writing exercises to tap my creativity. Journal for longer than 10 minutes at a time. Commune with my muse.

Or what about a weekend-away-from-it-all, where I refuse to wear anything but my coziest pajamas, eat cookie dough for breakkie and sugary cereal for dinner, veg in front of a few TiVo’d episodes of 90210 or watch that Hemingway special I’ve been meaning to get at for two years now, read bad magazines, re-install The Sims on my computer and play until 3am, shop online for trinkets and baubles- Heck, maybe I should go away to a spa and be massaged, acupressured, facial’d, and sauna’d into oblivion. Do I want health/wellness, or do I want naughty extravagance? Lots of water and fresh fruit? Or a Fatburger and a chocolate shake? How about both? Do I want to go away somewhere with all the bells and whistles, or stay home and hibernate, crab-like? Cashmere wrap or ratty old t-shirt?

So I decided to do it all.

My Self-Indulgent Weekend plans, needless, focused on Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being and Care. I pondered, and set some goals for myself:

Physical goals:

  • Eat five fruit/veg a day
  • Drink 8 glasses of water
  • Do one physical activity a day

Mental goals

  • Take at least one relaxing bath a day
  • Read some of those books – not associated with school/a class – that I’ve been meaning to
  • Watch one movie that I’ve been meaning to
  • Watch something (movie, telly) that I HAVEN’T been meaning to
  • Write something non-school related
  • Cook something

Emotional goals

Spiritual goals:

  • Spend at least 20 minutes a day in quiet meditation
  • Read poetry
  • Spend as much time outside as possible
  • Thanksgiving

To some, a weekend alone might sound depressing, but to me (Cancer, Virgo rising), I relish time alone to regroup… especially what with having to do the super-social conference thing this semester, along with regular classes. So I let my friends and family know that I’d be ignoring my cell phone (even more than usual) in favor of Hermit Crabbing.

Every one of those Weekend for You!!! lists that I used to see in magazines had neat schedules and plans for meals and activities, and my Weekend was no exception. Why waste precious Self-Indulgent time trying to figure out whether or not I wanted to dine alfresco on the back patio with my special veggie lasagna and a good book, take myself out to L’Orangerie, or just order a plate of messy BBQ for delivery from Saddleback Ranch? I prepared as much as I could beforehand, but always allowed room for the impulsive trip to Albano's Brooklyn Pizzeria. It also meant a lot of scrambling in the week before, because I certainly wanted to avoid (well, as much as Dwanollahly possible) the guilty, nagging feelings that I should be reading those essays on Postmodernism for class, or looking up one more critical article for my paper on The Dubliners, or reading through my conference presentation one more time. So the week before was a frazzled rush of reading ahead, making quick dashes to the grocery store, and reassuring myself that yes, it was really, truly okay if I took a weekend off from working. Honest.

*sigh*

So y’all can see why I might NEED a My Self-Indulgent Weekend of Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being and Care?

Things got underway-ish on Friday morning. I had class that afternoon, so I got up extra early, not only to see THTM off on his morning flight, but to do a little pre-weekend straightening and Foofing, so I wouldn’t have to waste precious time on that later. I collected used towels, stashed laundry baskets in the laundry room, threw out the two-day-old smelly Caesar salad left over in the fridge, and took out trash before skeedaddling to school.

Friday Night:

I hoped to officially kick things off Friday night when I got home from school, because with all of the week-before preparation plus real life insanity, I was feeling drained and crackly and agitated… which was why I needed a Self-Indulgent Weekend in the first place! Class got out at five, but I didn’t get home until well after eight, cursing the 101, sagging under the weight of my usual backpack, four bags of groceries, mail, UPS boxes- I was ravenously hungry, because all I’d managed was three bites of a soggy Greek pita-thing for lunch, and my shoulders were killing me from an hour traversing a three-mile stretch of the Hollywood Freeway. My plans for savory dinner, cute jammies and bad movies temporarily thwarted, it was all I could do to stumble to the bathroom for a hot bath. A LONG hot bath.

You know it’s bad when you LOOK as dog-tired as you feel.

This wasn’t really the idyllic escapism I’d planned. The thought of fixing any of the possible recipes I’d selected was far too arduous, so I finally ended up on the couch with a Lean Cuisine pasta thing (*kak*) and Can’t Buy Me Love on the telly. I redeemed myself, though, by later making a half-batch of Rice Krispies Treats, and eating a big wad of it while it was still warm. In order to do that watch-something-totally-dumb thing, I sat through an episode of The Anna Nicole Show (on DVD; me and The Slacker Hacker decided it was an investment), and maybe it was because I was worn-out and grouchy, but I ended up finding the Cousin Shelly debacle less funny and more depressing than on its first go-‘round. I tried to find some 90210 on TiVo, but it was all Noah-era episodes, which earned a quick flurry of “deletes.” I plied my skin with a lineless soothing mask in hopes that might help matters, chugged a couple bottles of water, and slowly started feeling human again. I only got through part of Pretty in Pink (ffwing to get to scenes featuring Iona’s apartment, so I could envy and drool) before flolloping in bed and, surprisingly for me when I’m home alone, falling asleep deeply and immediately.

Saturday

I slept in, needless, on Saturday. I slept in until EIGHT, y’all! LIFE! ON! THE! EDGE!

And I didn’t jump right out of bed and rush to start checking my campus email or sorting through my reading for the day or packing up to hit one of several libraries.

I lounged. I stretched. I peered up at the clouds drifting across the skylight. I pulled the covers around my shoulders and “burritoed” (TM THTM), wiggled my feet, and lounged some more. Mmmm.

When I finally decided to roll my hinder out of bed, instead of reaching for the usual weekend-grubbies, I took out a pair of my good yoga pants (not faded, not stretched out) and a bright fitted t-shirt, as if I was hanging out with the girls at Dysfunction Junction. (I did not do my hair in cute ponytails or braids, though.) I opened up doors and windows, cranked up my Hippies playlist, and, with Joni and Jim and Joan and Jimi and Judy in the background, put water on to boil. I dug into the china cabinet and the sideboard, and took my morning tea (including an insanely rich cinnamon roll I’d picked up when I stopped at the market on the way home last night) out onto the back patio on a silver tray. Purposefully leaving off the back patio speakers, instead I relished, for the first time in a long time, the peace and coziness of our back patio. It already felt like spring, with the trumpet vines blooming, the trees loaded with oranges and lemons, and the sun filtering warmly through palm fronds.

Blissful.

From the sounds of things, the big blackbird that I’ve nicknamed “the town crier” was well into his morning rounds, having abandoned the neighbor’s front yard tree for our backyard palm, and was squawking about this, that, and everything else. A few other peeps and pips sounded from other local avian-kind before I heard a familiar shrill: one of the backyard regulars, Harriet the blue jay, had decided to chill in the fig tree. It only took one or two of my very bad imitations of a blue jay sound, and one small chunk of cinnamon roll, and she and her boyfriend decided to breakfast with me. Forgiving them for the havoc they wrecked on my pots of herbs last fall when they were nest-building (I discovered them joyfully yanking out every sprig of lavender and rosemary they could, dirt everywhere, tipping over most pots and even breaking a couple), instead I chucked them bits of crackers and orange, which they scooped up, bore off to a few specific nooks in the fig tree, and then came back to wait for more. I dawdled over breakkie, dug through a few pseudo-inspirational books I’d decided were just the sort of reading for a Self-Indulgent Weekend like this, and tried to let my mind wander. And I realized, not for the first time, that it’s pretty fucking luxurious to have the time and means and solitude to even have a Self-Indulgent Weekend in the first place. I don’t have any kids screaming and running around, nor do I have an asshole husband who’d ridicule me or sulk or make demands. I have a backyard as cozy and beautiful as any garden patio. Why don’t I sit out here more often?!

After taking in my tea fixin’s, I stayed outside for a good while more. I stretched, watered plants, hosed off the porch, checked the fig tree for buds, discovered two small green oranges on the little orange tree I planted last fall, stretched some more, and listened to the wind chimes; it wasn’t windy, but every time Harriet would land on her favorite branch, it would shake the chimes. Show off.

Then it was time for Round One of Insane Mock Spa Self-Indulgent Weekend Bathing. Armed with an arsenal of supplies, I cranked up the bathroom heat lamp, heaped a stack of clean white towels on the counter, and began playing with oils and scrubs and serums like I was Mary Kay crossed with a mad scientist. Two hours, one facial, three different scrubs, one bath bomb, two washcloths, and one body-wash later, I was bundled moistly in several layers of towels and robes, generously applying another layer of sure-to-get-rid-of-cellulite serum to my generous ass. With hair still damp, I schlepped my lunch and a stack of books out to the back patio, flolloped on an old blankie, and dove into some of the stuff I’ve been wanting and meaning to read for months now. One of my interests, in case y’all haven’t noticed, is Victorian/turn-of-the-century era girls’ lit, and I’ve recently been piqued by the subject of girls in school: boarding schools, colleges. Anne, Emily, Betsy, Rebecca and Judy all went on to higher education; Lloyd, Mary Ware and Sara did their time in boarding schools. Jean Webster wrote a couple books about Patty Wyatt away at various schools. So I’ve gotten hooked on the details of American college-girl life at the dawn of the 1900s: fudge and rarebits cooked in chafing dishes, all-girl dances (Colette and Claudine would’ve loved that, huh?), white duck suits and calling cards, Browning clubs and sewing circles and philomathic societies…. So I’ve been researching and tracking down other, little-know books and serieseses covering similar ground: Betty Wales, Molly Brown, Grace Harlowe. There’s a pile of old books on my desk that I’ve not had time enough to do more than look at briefly, just itching to be read. So I sprawled out in the sun with Betty Wales, Freshman and a bowl of edamame. While I basked and read, I heard a familiar chattering, and Joseph the squirrel came out for a visit. He won’t take food from me unless I leave it for him and go inside, but he’ll doingeddy around and chatter and scamper up trees and twitch his tail at me. Another familiar sound – a little tinkling bell – and Contessa the cat from next door strolled across the top of the patio, daintily sidestepping vines. She was abused as a kitten, so she doesn’t let anyone near her, much less pet her, but as long as I don’t move too quickly, she’ll hang out and preen and smile at me. So she found a sunny perch on the top of the patio, and Joseph doinged around, rolling a rotten orange from one side of the patio to another, and I stuffed myself on soybeans and read about Betty’s adventures at Harding College. Betty’s pretty boring, especially compared to the aforementioned heroines; it seems like she exists as a central point for the more interesting characters – Helen, Eleanor, Ethel – to revolve around. She doesn’t really do a whole heck of a lot, and, other than her older sister mentioning that she has a knack for making friends, she doesn’t display much by way of character in general, much less by action. But she does buy a chafing dish and make fudge one night.

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