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Time for Pants is Over

August 30, 2011

For thirty-two days, I have been working. Of those days, any that qualify as “Monday to Friday” have run about fourteen hours in work-duration. Except for the day when the squirrel home-invaded me and with 48 hours till a friend’s fortieth birthday party north of the city, I booked a half-day off from the office in order to re-bake ten dozen cupcakes. And, that night, baking marathon completed, I only worked at home for about three hours, instead of five.

I rarely set out to become over-extended or over-committed, but summer seems to turn out that way. Last year, I juggled a bad job with a job search with a potential new job (after meeting and verbally extending an offer, my maybe-new- boss went incommunicado for five weeks, and so my search continue just in case he never turned re-communicado again), appearing on a television programme, baking for a large party, enduring and ultimately ending a really crummy short-term relationship, trying to learn to drive a car, and trying to spend more, better time with my family. Some of those ventures fared better than others.

This summer, the list is shorter, but the time-swallowing powers of two of my chosen (I admit that I did this to my self, voluntarily) activities has proven stunning. Like snakes that drop out of tropical trees and swallow cattle whole. The first time I heard about those snakes, I imagined a boa constrictor wrapped a couple times around a sturdy, low-hanging branch, waiting patiently for a cow to stroll down the path. Then, its prey lined up, the snake would unfurl its tail and drop straight as an arrow, a diver from an Olympic platform, jaws stretched wide, to plop over the cow like a mean umbrella. Gulp.

Similarly, I imagine my schedule to be this transparent, predictable, and clockwork entity. A thing that I can look at on paper, review and alter as required, and plan for unforeseen circumstances…which…of course…I cannot. A snake swallows that cow not by plopping out of the tree and sheathing the bovine in its gastrointestinal tract, but by slowly, persistently, agonisingly working its way up the cow’s body, mashing its ribs till it can’t breathe, crushing its little bones till they fold upon themselves and forcing the larger bones to gather in a bundle like kindling, all the easier to swallow. And, my schedule fills up, like a boat I cannot bail fast enough, like that Cold War torture where people were bound in wet sheets, which skimped tighter the more the person struggled to get free.

The difference, the big difference, is…I do it on purpose. Summer after summer. And, this week, I reached the point where, one night of afterwork-work remaining, I am totally done. Not finished…but done. Done in. Nothing left.

Tonight, the time for pants is over. I am tired of running errands and juggling the aforementioned lists of time-swallowing stuff. I’m tired that there’s no one but me to remember I need toilet paper or laundry soap, or to run that load of laundry once the soap is purchased. My cat refuses to learn to pull a chair up to the stove and sautee some vegetables for supper, you know, I don’t expect her to put meat in the grill or anything, just get the potatoes boiling and the beans blanching. A start, not the whole meal. I’m tired of remembering to go pick up this and drop off that. I’m tired of my schedule in the way I am angry when I stub my toe. There’s no one and nowhere to lay blame upon, except my own failure to say “no. Sorry, but no.”

And so, with time for pants over, I intend to spend the rest of the evening in my underwear, putting the finishing touches on my freelance editing project. But, not doing laundry. And, I intend to eat something freaky for supper. Once I finish this snack-sized grilled cheese picked up on the bike ride home from a cheese shop down the block. It even came wrapped in paper and a napkin provided, so I don’t have dishes to rinse, and don’t have to worry about the crumbs all over my lap and feet, seeing as I’m snacking without protective, crumb-blocking trousers.

And then, I’m assigning myself some penalty lines (that’s PENALTY, not panty lines…just to be clear), in hopes of driving the message home: in summertime, one job is enough. In summertime, one job is enough. The time for pants is over. The time for pants and three summer jobs is over.

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