My work schedule is screwy and it has been all my adult life. I have always worked counterclockwise to the regular turning of the world, but have not always liked it. I’d prefer to rise when the sun is out or rising, and come home when it’s still light or the sun is setting. I’ve worked too many early morning starts or second and third shift jobs, including both my first and second radio jobs. I worked second shift for the airline, which always seemed to finish after midnight. We were required to stay until the last aircraft was on the ground, bags off, and cleaned. Too many night were spent waiting for that last flight, sometimes coming in with a mechanical issue that required someone to wait for maintainance to make the two hour trip north from Boston. Sometimes I met the morning shift coming in at 4 am. It was times like these I kept repeating, “I’m in it for the flight benefits”, the mantra of all airline ground crews.
And I have always worked one or both weekend days – in every job I’ve worked. I always worked weekends in radio, but other jobs, including my current position at the hospital. Whenever I hear people in their 20’s an early 30s complain about having to work the weekend, I turn a deaf ear and think, “Suck it up and grow a pair. It’s called paying your dues.” You may not like it now, but it won’t last forever. I’d be lying if I said I like working weekends, but it would be nice to have one weekend off.
I have learned to adapt to my schedule. My days off are Monday and Tuesday. Who, in the real world, has Monday and Tuesday off? It’s not a problem. I have turned Monday into Me-Day. I don’t set the alarm; I let my body wake me when it’s ready. Unless it gets testy and decides to wake me up at 4 am, my time to get up during the work week. After allowing myself the time to become aware of my surroundings and find my way to the toilet, I return to bed and lounge. It’s the ultimate adult luxury – to give yourself the time to stay in bed, reading, making love or just laying back and contemplating your navel – with no obligations, appointments or “to do” lists to follow. I like to feel the warmth of being under covers, feeling the soft sheets against my skin. Sometimes I’ll pull the covers over my head and make a tent, just as I did when I was a kid. I’d do that at night and bring a flashlight and read a good book.
This morning, after I opened my eyes and wiped the gunk, the first thing I saw was the bedside bookcase. Not the one on the right, with the alarm clock and table radio and assorted paperbacks, but the other one. The bookcase on the left side of the bed. On the top of the bookcase is a reading lamp, a purple stone heart given to me by a wonderful woman; and a stack of books 5 or six high. There are trivia and reference books on the bottom shelf, assorted fiction in the middle, and travel guides on the top with more fiction mixed in. There are books I’ve read multiple times. One of them is “Forever” by Pete Hamill – a mystical, fictional account surrounded by historic fact, about a man, emmigrating from Ireland, whose life is spent in New York City from pre-Revolutionary times to the days just after 9/11. I have just started another of Hamill’s books, “Loving Women”. I have read only fourteen chapters but I’ve already become hooked into the story – an 18 year-old Brooklyn native, fresh out of Navy basic training, is sent to his first station in Pensacola, Florida. There are worderfully colorful characters, including the mystery woman he encounters on the bus heading south. I know I’m going to like this book. It’s the type of book I would choose to read in bed on this lazy “me day”, one I can throw myself into and splash around for awhile. I like to absorb books like this, reading them multiple times to pick up bits I’ve missed in the previous sittings.
I will bring my breakfast to bed on days like this. I make it simple: bagel and cream cheese, cheerios and blueberries, orange juice or fruit. I want to read without taking time to stop and eat. When I’m finished, I move the dirty dishes to the bookcase – the one on the right – and continue to read until my eyes start to hurt. I know that sounds pretty itense, but you could set off a fire alarm while I’m reading and wouldn’t notice. Okay, maybe I would but you get the idea.
I had a morning today similar to those on past Mondays. I did have one change: I made myself blueberry pancakes. Fresh Maine highbush berries, small and sweet taht are perfect for pancakes. I may take awhile to build a stack of hot circles from heaven, but it is SO worth it. Attention potential girlfriends: if you want me to notice you, make blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup. Then serve them to me in bed – naken, with an apron. Seriously though, skip the last part about the apron. That’s going overboard.
This is how I take care of myself in the post-My Love era. I know what makes me happy – the pancakes, the reading of good books, and the time well spent. I need to do more of the things that bring me pleasure. Last night I went to the beach and watched everything. Saturday night, it was a game of contraband golf. The challenge is to continue to encorporate those things consistantly, not to hole away in my apartment and allow the world to pass by.