Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Carving out a little "me" time

It's so easy to get caught up in work, especially something with teaching. Like a stray, the work follows you home and just will not go away. If I ignore it too long, it's liable to turn around and bite me at some point, and I'm not too keen to find out what sort of infections I can get from a rabid pile of freshman prose. So I appease the mutt, bending over backwards sometimes and all but holding the door open for it. Ooof, but it's an ungrateful houseguest, taking over the floor at an alarming rate and devouring my little desk.

Sometimes I have to say enough is enough, though, and lock the brute away for a spell in spite of its snarling. This is usually the point at which I've begun to fray, chafing from the demands of work. I have to carve out places for me. Selfish? Maybe, but I need it.

I blog, for one thing. If, as a friend asserts, writing is a fundamentally selfish act, blogging is doubly so. I make no pretenses of universal truths or infinite wisdom; all I know is my own self-contained world. Moreover, I write with the idea that someone, somewhere, may want to read about my little bubble. And I write to think things out, sometimes discovering new things by the end of a post. "I" is probably the most frequent word in this blog; it's navel-gazing at its most obvious. Toss in a little music in the background and a hot cup of tea, and it's practically a little oasis of self-indulgence.

Music is another obvious indulgence. I have certain "comfort" albums that I've been gravitating to again lately, playing and re-playing them to get pumped up on the drive to campus or to unwind after a disastrous day of teaching. I know when I pull up the My Chemical Romance again (yeah, I know...), the stress has gotten to me; Gerard Way's been getting quite a bit of play lately. Campy pop punk is a vice if ever there was one... Even grading seems a little less tedious with a punk soundtrack.

Sometimes quiet is in order; leisure reading is something that tends to fall by the wayside during the semester until I realize that I'd like to read something completely non-work related. I hit that point last week. With this week being Banned Books Week, I figured I'd take my own advice and read a book from the list: Of Mice and Men. Sadly, I've chosen it as much for the fact that it's short (meaning I stand to finish it within, oh, the next month) as for the fact that it's on my bookshelf and never been read. I'm only reading a few pages here and a few pages there, but it's voluntary reading and hence a luxury--it almost feels like stolen time to read for a little while, and stolen time certainly is sweet time.

As Eliza Doolittle once said, though, "Words, words, words, I'm so sick of words; I get words all day through, first from him, now from you...." I restlessly put the book aside in favor of doing something with my hands. That's where crocheting comes in. It's the perfect relaxation technique--it's repetitive, and it's constructive. I like having something to show for my efforts, whether it's for myself or for a friend, whether it's a pot holder, a baby blanket, or a warm winter scarf. And for extra indulgence factor, I can buy pretty yarns in funky textures. I just started a scarf for a friend, using two strands of yarn--a mohair blend and a... yarn of another texture, sort of like ribbon. It works up fast, so even in fits and starts, I make progress on it. I'm quite pleased with it, enjoying the play of the colors and the glints of sparkle in it. Crafting things by hand, while currently vogue, is still uncommon enough that giving something made by hand is usually enthusiastically received, so I take a bit of smug pleasure in doing so. Even the seemingly altruistic act of making and giving a gift is selfish. See? It really is all about me.

Two of my favorite laptop distractions.
Image quality is the camera's fault; I am to blame for the composition.

1 comment:

frizzzzle said...

Whoa... Of Mice and Men was required reading in our high school. Why must they ban the most profound ones? Kids are smart enough to understand what they're about.