Three weeks ago I resumed a more temperate version of my regular schedule. Since then I’ve seen plays in Washington, D.C., New Haven, and Chicago, from the last of which I returned two days ago. My trusty old iBook blew up and I bought a replacement. It wasn’t ready for me until yesterday afternoon, so I went downtown yesterday morning to write my Friday drama column for The Wall Street Journal on an unoccupied terminal, then picked up my new computer on the way back home and spent the afternoon breaking it in. Last night I went to a Broadway show, my first since the night before I went into the hospital. I had dinner with a friend after the show, then came home, answered my e-mail, and read a few pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop before falling asleep.
I woke up this morning at nine-thirty, an hour later than my normal get-up-and-go time. As I descended from the loft in which I spend my nights, it struck me that I had nothing whatsoever to do today: no deadlines, no shows to see, no meals with friends, no plans of any kind. For a moment I felt myself revving up, trying to think of culture-related activities with which to fill all those empty hours. Then a new, unfamiliar reflex kicked in. Why not do nothing? I asked myself, and a smile flickered across my face.
The New Me has one important thing in common with the Old Me, which is that we’re both having trouble getting used to the Concept of the Weekend. The problem is that while most people take Saturday and Sunday off, I don’t: I usually go to the theater, and for me that’s work, not pleasure (not necessarily pleasure, to be exact). I write my Journal columns every Tuesday and every other Wednesday, which means that my “weekends” fall some time between Tuesday afternoon and Friday evening. The habits of a lifetime tell me I ought to be working during that time, but the realities of my new life as a middle-aged drama critic with acute workaholic tendencies and a recent history of congestive heart failure demand a change of schedule. This morning–for the first time–I got the message, loud and clear.
So what am I going to do with myself today? Well, I think I’ll start by popping a Bocaburger in the microwave and a whole-grain English muffin in the toaster and taking a Fuji apple out of the crisper. After lunch I’ll put my clothes on (yes, I’m writing these words in the unclothed state) and stroll over to the Central Park reservoir for a nice long walk. When I’m done with that, I might go to the Metropolitan Museum, which I haven’t visited since well before my illness. Or not: I might come straight home. Either way I’ll pick up my laundry on the way back to the apartment, then take a nap, followed by an early, solitary dinner at Good Enough to Eat. I might spend part of the evening pruning my CD collection or cleaning out the living-room closet. Or not: I might watch a movie on TV instead. Whatever I end up doing, though, I’ll definitely round out the evening by calling up my mother in Smalltown, U.S.A., and finding out what she did all day. Then I’ll put on the new Chris Thile-Mike Marshall album, post Friday’s blog entries, check my e-mail, spend a few minutes gazing happily at the Teachout Museum, and climb back into the loft to read a bit more of Scoop before falling asleep.
Not very exciting, is it? I mean, here I am, a compulsive aesthete in Manhattan, swimming in a sea of cultural possibilities. How dare I fritter away a whole day and night when I could be hitting the boulevards in search of illumination? But I prefer not to. Instead, I’m going to spend Thursday doing what I want to do when I want to do it, not including anything remotely resembling work. What’s more, I expect to have a perfectly lovely time. How about that?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for lunch. See you tomorrow.