I’ve spent a lot of the last two days looking out the window. Partly because I am thinking, but partly because I am wishing it were different out there. So far, the winter weather has been pretty cheesy. Lots of precipitation when it’s strangely warm, lots of sun when it’s cold. This has resulted in no real snow and, frankly, it’s getting depressing.
I think I am feeling this way, however, because I am fat from Christmas and I am facing three good months of the Usual Routine. “Dum, dum, dum,” that phrase should be followed by. Every time I say it, I am reminded of John Bailey’s Usual Muck. Until we all boycotted it, we would eat this on our skiing trip every year. It was basically a stew with yesterday’s leftovers combined with a few fresh ingredients. John would add cumin and mustard and some other random stuff and then we would sit and eat. For the first few days, it was kind of fun, made you feel like you were camping. But after day three? Take me to a restaurant or take me back to Kentucky — I am sick of muck.
I feel this way after about three solid days of routine. At first it’s good. You stock up at the grocery, you get the laundry done, the kitchen mopped, you heat up Lean Cuisines for lunch because, again, you’re fat. But after Wednesday? How many days are there left in January again? Oh yeah, 28. How much do I weigh again? Oh yeah, too much.
Part of what makes it difficult is this particular week of the year. You want to be optimistic about the New Year, but you have all these resolutions controlling how much fun you can have. It’s not like the resolve that comes with back-to-school when the fall is pretty and the holidays are peeking over the horizon like a sunrise. Instead, it’s just dead and brown outside. Three months of it, our free time filled with eating healthy, exercising at the packed gym and learning Mandarin or something equally unattainable.
Of course, as much as I like to buck routine, there are a lot of people who take comfort in it. For example, my husband enjoys eating the same breakfast every day. It’s a piece of toast with peanut butter and Vegemite. I make it for him every weekday and place it in a piece of Tupperware. He eats it when he gets to work after he’s gone to get a cup of coffee.
I can imagine by then the bread is cold and the Tupperware is clammy from the steam that long ago rose to its lid. Probably the toast is hard and gets crumbs everywhere. Maybe it’s worse — it gets soggy and limp.
Whatever happens, the man eats it. He eats the same thing every morning.
I knew another woman who went to the gym every single day after work to take an aerobics class. The class would change daily, granted — Zumba, step, kickboxing, what have you — but it would still be an aerobics class in the same room. Every day. After work. Right around the time when you really just want to watch Judge Judy. She never complained and always seemed keen on going.
I can’t say for certain, but I bet this woman didn’t even need to make resolutions because she was already doing everything right. I know for sure my husband doesn’t believe in them because he feels it is a recipe for failure.
“There’s nothing magic about the New Year. If you’re going to do it, you don’t wait.”
I marvel at these people and I wish I were more like that. How nice would it be to gain deep, unyielding satisfaction out of being well behaved instead of always wanting to push the envelope and eat chocolate chip cookies? How much happier would you be? How much more would you accomplish if you had the discipline to never waver day to day, week to week? I tell you, my baseboards would sparkle. I’d have written three books by now.
But, alas, I’m just not made of that solid stuff. I like my days different, looking forward to newness, and I love surprises. If only it would snow. Snow would be enough to make everything fresh and wonderful again. Maybe if I look out the window a little more.