This is always a weird week, isn’t it, if you think about it? That dead week in between Christmas and New Year’s – the big shindig of Christmas or Hannukkah or whatever is past, but it’s too soon to really call the holidays “over”.
I’m back at work all this week, but a lot of people are still out on vacations or family visits, and the rest of us are kind of half-assing it – catching up on some long-standing niggling things that we had to keep postponing, and now we finally have the chance now that no one is bothering us. The office I work in takes a casual approach to work wear anyway, but a lot more people are turning up in jeans. I’m actually the only person in my entire section of the floor, and am indulging in playing music as I work (here’s where everyone who passes by discovers that lately I have a fondness for Macklemore and the Blues Brothers).
It’s the same at home – my roommate is still with his family in the Midwest, so I’ve been more putter-y there as well, tackling some longstanding closet organization projects and kitchen weeding. I spent most of the day Sunday reorganizing my cabinet o’ cookbooks (I have 126 of them, and that’s even after selecting 14 to get rid of; I think I have a problem). I’ve vaguely nudged my friends Colin and Niki about catching a local neighborhood custom with me, the sounding of the steam whistles at Pratt University; but other than that I’ve made no plans for New Year’s Eve, and if they can’t make it I may honestly just sort papers and then go to bed at midnight. Take a walk New Year’s Day, and otherwise just putter.
It doesn’t feel right to tackle anything big or begin anything yet. The real work will come on Monday, when the New Year has started in earnest and everyone’s back in the groove. Plus, the work of getting Christmas up and running – and let’s face it, it is work – is finally done, and you need a breather.
Honestly, it feels an awful lot like when I was doing theater, and intermission came along. I couldn’t be in-active – I often had a list of niggly things to do, props to check and lights to tend to, scenery to have moved, cast members and audiences to herd. The cast was also tending to niggly things like the button that they saw falling off their costume or the tag in their underwear or the fake moustache coming loose, or even such mundane things as having to pee or eat an energy bar or have a long drink of water. But we weren’t doing Big Tasks – it wasn’t ready for the Big Push of the next act just yet. We needed a break, and so did the audience, and we were all taking it; getting things sorted for the next push.
And I always got antsy towards the end of intermission, too – when everything I needed to do was done, but I still needed to wait for time to pass, for the audience to get back to their seats and the fifteen minutes for intermission to run out. I’d often devise entire fussy tasks for myself just so I could be doing something rather than just waiting out the clock. Ultimately they helped – the few seconds fussing with the prop table kept it more organized, or tying a curtain tie more securely ensured it didn’t unfurl itself onstage accidentally during the love scene or whatever. But it was mostly nervous energy burning itself out because I was anxious to just start on the next phase, but couldn’t.
I’ve got vague ideas about what I want for the year ahead of me and how I want that to develop – writing more, traveling more, returning to keeping a paper journal – and part of me wants to jump in now, but another doesn’t. It’d feel like starting things before the cue’s been given. And on New Year’s Day and that weekend I’ll finally crack open a journal and write or even sketch in it, and then maybe take myself out hiking like I’ve promised myself I’d do next year – but that’s 48 hours from now, and until then it just feels wrong. So I dig through my closet and find all the blank journals people have gifted me over the years and gather them in one place; or I salvage weird baking ingredients from my cupboard and use them up in making homemade granola bars I can slip in a day pack for a hike, or I finally sit down and try out the hundred pens cluttering my desk or I weed through the dozens of shoes cluttering my closet, getting rid of the ones that don’t work so I can more easily find the ones that do; and in time the next act will start and I can get going in earnest.