The problem of how to spend, mark, and assess the worth of my research leave has been bugging me. It’s a high-class problem, believe me, I know. Still… My husband is reading Murakami’s running book, which, I read, got its start as a training journal. This and my own goals have got me thinking, mostly jokingly, about writing an amped up version of those tired year-in-the-life memoirs: how many pages written and read, how many minutes of what kind of exercise, how many WeightWatchers points consumed, how many pounds lost and gained. It’s a 9-month leave, if you include summer, and maybe I could just keep track of my progress and setbacks.
All of this, however, seems too depressing and too far from the real goals of having fun in the gym while losing weight, and, more to the point, of contemplation, reading, and writing something that makes a real contribution to a meaningful conversation.
It’s not that I’ve lost my sense of humor: heaven forbid! Just that I feel my energy draining away in the triviality of witty comments on friends’ status updates or bits of self-deprecation about my latest sampling of the children’s macaroni.
I was shocked recently when my mother, stern-voiced, told me that she hoped I would work very hard during my leave: “Why don’t you put in four good days each week,” she said, as if imposing a strict limit. All I could think was four? Only four? “and then do something nice for yourself on Fridays: go to a museum or a movie.” My girlfriends agreed with my mom.
Frankly, Fridays “off” hadn’t occurred to me. But it has now. I’ve been to the gym. I have a small task to do for my spouse, and then I’m heading to a matinee. See you on Monday.