in two minds & W1L 018: Write one leaf about doing nothing.

I wore this outfit on Pi Day (yes, I have that much of a photo backlog), which I've always felt a bizarre affinity for because I memorized 75 digits of pi for school when I was twelve or so. I think I probably only have around 25 digits now (let's find out: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288... thing - okay, so more than 25).

In any case, looking back at this outfit makes me think I must've clothed the upper part of my body, walked away from my closet, and then dressed my lower half when I was in a completely different mood.

(Wait, I said the same thing the last time I wore this sweater with these gloves and these shorts. It was like my upper body and lower body had a serious miscommunication, except I like this version much better. Maybe it's the tights.)

Sweater: uncle's. Fingerless gloves: Bancroft Clothing Store. Floral shorts: DIY. Tights: H&M. Rain boots: Hunter.

W1L 018: Write one leaf about doing nothing.

This is an unedited version of my original response to this prompt, written in the throes of the worst semester of college I had had to date.

There are a lot of things I’m not good at. Among them are contact sports, crying on cue, backflips, doing manly pushups, verbal restraint, learning dance routines, not taking criticism personally, running, talking to adults, diets, tactfully turning down men, being patient with kids over the age of three but under the age of ten, memorizing historical facts, resisting dark chocolate, blogging on a schedule, drawing naked people, appreciating the beauty of math, digesting lactose, pattern drafting, and doing nothing.

I kind of flip out whenever I find myself with unanticipated downtime. Usually my idea of downtime involves scheduling a bajillion blog posts in advance, reading ahead for classes, cleaning, laundry, or cooking dinner early. Real downtime, though, of the lying in the sun pleasure-reading variety, I can’t handle. But doesn’t downtime have to be different for everyone? Someone might think of blogging or reading as a chore. I think of it as downtime. I think of showering as a chore. I’m sure some people think of it as downtime.

Anyway, this is just to say that I’m not very good at doing things I judge unproductive, or pretending to appreciate people I judge to be wasting my time. Time is money! When I was little, my brother and I would go to the arcade with our fistfuls of quarters, and he would play his alien shooting games, and I would go for whatever involved winning tickets, because tickets meant tangible rewards in the form of plastic Army men and bouncy balls and scented erasers: a productive use of my time. College has made me ruthless about cutting out people who are not worth my time, because I have so much more of it now than I did in high school that it suddenly became imperative to funnel it into something productive and self-indulgent.

Yesterday I was talking to A and V, my ex-theater group accomplices for whom my love runs mad deep. We were sitting on a bench overlooking the Australian plant section in the Botanical Gardens, observing/abusing a roly-poly with a stick while A flipped through his binder for pictures of the parasitic worms he was researching, having just wrapped up our conversation about how deeply religious people had touched and killed parts of all of our lives, when A destroyed any semblance of content we might have had with the overloud, overdramatic lamentation of “I’m so lonely.”

And then I was laughing and taking off my glasses to dig my grubby t-shirt into my eyes, laughing because it was such a shock to hear it from the undergrad who was just accepted into Harvard’s summer research program, and to hear V’s and my own “Me too,” and crying because I hadn’t admitted it to myself yet, and then I was sitting on a bench overlooking the Australian plant section in the Botanical Gardens with two of my favorite people to work with, and with whom I did remarkable work, marveling at how lonely and not alone we were.

And then I thought, poking the roly poly, Is this real life? Why is this happening to me? Is this gonna be forever? Does life only get more and more tragic the older we get? Where are all the books about this? Am I growing up ahead of the learning curve or behind? What would it be like if a giant stick came down from the sky and beat me across the back and limbs until I curled into a ball? Do people only go through this sort of transitional, existential, where-am-I-going, what-am-I-doing, who-will-be-there crisis once, some people too early, some people six months into post-college unemployment, and some people after two kids and twenty-four years working in an office? Can I extrude the answers from someone older and wiser, or do I have to get dented and dulled until I’ve found my own? Are there answers?

When I left our scheduled each-other downtime, I had a stomach happy with crepes and donut holes, a newfound knowledge of parasitic worms, an armful of Questions For Further Self-Reflection, and a little flaming talisman of relief.

Then I set to work picking through my questions. Downtime, indeed.

Like I said, I don’t do nothing very well.
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