Old Habits, Don’t Die

Many of the things I used to do, I don’t do so much anymore:

  • Read books. (As opposed to the constant stream of news and magazine articles I half-read at work). 
  • Watch movies. (“Drive” was the last film I saw and sitting in the dark room with a large screen felt almost foreign.)
  • Go to the library, which, I suppose, goes along with reading, though more and more I find myself missing the quiet atmosphere and smell. Ah, musty paper.
  • Cook/bake. (We had our Thanksgiving potluck at work today, something I had thought for a long time I would certainly bake something for, but the week rolled by and the only thing I contributed was my appetite). 
  • Clean my room. (Not that I ever needed to do this before; from ages 6-25, I had the energy to keep my room neat as a pin on a daily basis. I made my bed every morning, fluffing the pillows and tucking my sheets in just so – I liked that I could come back to a room that seemed like a freshly turned hotel room. In college, my roommates stared at my half of the room which seemed like a set from a stark, war-time barracks where everything was rationed. They wondered if I had perhaps spent some time at some women’s boot camp. When my roommate’s father visited, he whistled and said, “You could bounce a quarter off your sheets. That was the test back when I was in the army.” I merely shrugged, “I like things neat.”) 

Even after college, when everyone said, “Oh you’re not gonna have time to do that stuff anymore,” I found the time to watch a movie, visit the library and read a book at least once a week. Twice a week, I would bake hearty oatmeal cookies and banana bread to give to my relatives.

I had no idea these were all indicators of unemployment or poorly defined internships.

There are women at work who can do all of the above and their jobs quite well, but they were blessed with enviable energy reserves. Or perhaps not reserves at all, but energy. After a normal week at work I spend weekend mornings zoned out, putting from room to room in my pajamas and standing in front of my bookshelf, wondering if I should attempt to read something longer than a NY Times column. Though I do light up briefly in the evenings – just long enough for me to drive to LA, dance for two hours max (before my feet hurt), and drive back, only to spend the next day in an exhausted daze. On Sunday nights, I often go to bed at 8PM to prepare for the following week.

“You need to exercise,” my mother said, and like a good daughter, I recommenced hot yoga – but that is a false remedy. For some people, exercise is taxing. I feel better in theory; walking out of the studio, I think, “Ah, I am more energetic,” and for two hours following the class, I am – but when I really need to be energetic is at work, between the hours of 8:30AM to 5:30PM, when things need to be done with clarity and precision.

Instead, I smile as brightly as possible; say everyone’s name in a sing-song voice to mask my fatigue, and let my tired tail show anyway, by doing things like making coffee for my boss without that vital element.

This morning he walked into his office and then out again, holding his mug.

“Get me some coffee from the Keurig,” he said, handing me the mug filled with water tinged with brown. It seemed more like a weak earl grey than bold Sumatra roast coffee. “Look at this coffee. What’s the matter with it.” 

I stared at the water, wondering why the coffee had turned out so impressively weak. Painstakingly, I retraced my steps. I had filled the pot, poured the water in, closed the lid, pressed the button…


“I forgot the coffee.”

“Yeah, the coffee,” my boss said, then he tapped his head and pointed at mine, “You need to put some beans in here.”

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