The Difficulty of Doing Nothing

I am a retired person, and  since retirement have remained mostly unemployed.  My forays back into the work world were brief, and taught me much.  Mostly, these tiny jobs taught me that I don’t want to be in the work world anymore.  But I retain a strong work ethic, and while the logical mind realizes I contribute to our happy household economically with my pension, I still feel the need to compensate for the reduction in income with what feels like incessant home improvement projects.  My thinking is, that since our home is our primary investment, maintaining and updating it is the best way for me to pull my economic weight, so to speak.

Growing up in a household which for most of my childhood was headed solely by my mother, it never occurred to me that not working was even an option.  My mother worked, her mother worked, my grandmother’s sisters both worked.  Falling in love and marrying was something I wanted to do, but I never thought that I would stop working once that happened.  And I didn’t.  For 16 years, the nice Roger and I worked mostly different shifts, in different divisions, with different days off.  He even installed a door to the bedroom end of our house, so that someone in the outer rooms could watch tv, talk, or otherwise live a normal life without disturbing someone who had worked a 12-8 shift, and so was sleeping at noon.  The sleeping someone was usually me, and given my notably surly disposition when I get insufficient sleep, this home improvement probably saved lives. And it is still doing its’ work, by blocking Roger’s news surfing when I’m in my study.

Prior to actual retirement, I had no problem taking the occasional ‘mental health day’, and happily spend it curled up with a book for hours, or schedule a double feature of movies.  But nowadays, when Roger goes off to work, I feel obligated to work, too.  And so I clean, I repair or update (both house and furniture), I garden, and otherwise do a raft of tasks necessary (in my mind) to life maintenance.  And very occasionally, I take an hour or two here and there, and finish Sunday’s NY Times, or watch a movie that I know Roger would hate.

Monday, I finally broke the pattern.  The house was clean (relatively).  I had no social or family commitments.  There was sufficient food in the house for my needs, and Roger agreed to import Asian take-out for supper. I was free.  And so, over breakfast, I watched “Bridesmaids”.  I wasn’t sure when it came out if it would be my cup of tea. I’m generally not one for gross-out humor but the bridal shop sequence was horrifyingly funny.  I also thought the movie was sweet, warm, and wonderfully human in its’ portrayal of some truly awful behavior.  Then, I happily read the NY Times (most of it). With lunch, I watched “Grandma”, starring Lily Tomlin.  I’ve been a fan of Ms. Tomlin’s since she first appeared on “Laugh-In” in the late 60’s.  She plays an untraditional grandmother, a poet and writer still grieving from the death of her lesbian partner.  She lashes out at everyone around her at the least provocation. Her granddaughter comes to her for money for an abortion, and a road picture ensues as grandma and granddaughter drive around, in grandma’s 1950’s vintage car, trying to raise the cash from various sources.  And, since this is a movie, various deep-seated emotional issues involving both women are dealt with in different ways.  But a particular pleasure of this film was watching Ms. Tomlin beat up her granddaughter’s baby daddy with a hockey stick.  After the second movie, I finished the Times, ordered dinner online to be picked up by the nice Roger.  With dinner, since I saw I had a feminist theme going,  we watched “The Hunger Games-Mockingjay Part 2”.   I thought it was a bit slow, but since we’d watched all the rest, I rather figured we were obligated to watch the last one.  And Jennifer Lawrence was amazing.

Three movies, one Sunday paper, no work at all.  I successfully did nothing all day.  It was probably the first weekday day off I’ve taken in six months.  It’s possible I’m not actually retired.

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