Work Binge

I got back from Belize two nights ago, very late. I secretly love coming home from vacations: there's almost always one piece of good mail, and for a little while the cats aren't jerks because (they hate to admit it but) they were a little lonely. Sometimes I look forward to coming home from a vacation so much that I fail to enjoy the vacation itself properly. I tried not to let that be the case in Belize, although I found parts of Belize to be a challenge: namely, when you are there, you are supposed to relax.

By "relax" I do not mean doing what I do when I want to wind down. For me, the most relaxing scenario is sitting at my desk with very dark coffee, drawing, scanning pictures, and sending e-mails simultaneously. I feel this deep thud of satisfaction when I am effectively multitasking. It is so perversely gratifying to me that I could safely designate it as a sickness. 

No, in Belize, relaxing means taking your shoes off, sitting by a crystalline ocean, listening to the waves, and maybe drinking a beer while wearing sunglasses and a sarong. Every time I did that (sans the beer, because, as we learned last week, I cannot handle being even a little bit drunk), I looked around at the other people doing it and wondered what they were thinking. That was amusing for approximately one minute. Then I tried to meditate with the sounds of the waves, which I was also able to do for approximately one minute. Then I went to get a New Yorker so I could feel like I was accomplishing something.

I read a lot of New Yorkers in the past four days. It's a really good magazine. Read enough of them, and you get spoiled on those 7,000-word profiles of out-of-place Christian chefs in war-torn Saudi Arabia. I'm digressing.

I enjoy people-watching for a while, too, but eventually that gets overwhelming. Sitting at a street restaurant in San Pedro, I watched a little girl wearing a purple shirt that said "I'm So Cute I'm A Cutie Pie." (As an aside: Can someone explain this shirt to me? How did this shirt come into existence? Here is what I imagine. A T-shirt company exec was like, "Hey, we need to use this pie graphic from on a shirt if we want to keep using their services." And then an intern was like, "Oh! We could make it say 'CUTIE PIE.'" And then the exec was like, "Mmm.. that's a good start, but ultimately it's too confusing. No one is going to buy that shirt! No one is going to know what a cutie pie is! It's going to be confusing with the graphic! We need to make it something that the person wearing the shirt could SAY. Let's have it say, 'I'm so cute.'" And then the intern was like, "But... there's no 'pie' in that." And the rest was history. Is that how it went? Just... THEY SHOULDN'T GIVE SHIRT-MAKING PRIVILEGES TO JUST ANYBODY, is what I'm saying.) I wondered where she was going. Then I wondered what she wanted for her birthday, and if she had any crushes, and where that little bit of red paint on her ear came from, and whether she picked out her own shoes (pink, glittery), or if they were hand-me-downs, or if they were her mom's choice. Eventually, she walked away, and I was left with ONLY QUESTIONS, which was torture. So you see how people-watching can only last for so long before a person needs a psychological breather. 

The point is, I didn't want to be looking forward to coming home, but I was. Everything about Belize was amazing, beautiful, and slow-moving. The air was warm; there were exotic rainbow fish to watch; you could really spend the time to savor your food. My travel partners were interesting and adventurous. There were no obligations; no one could reach out to me and need me to do anything, because I was in Belize. It was impossible not to love it. But I secretly yearned to be buried in piles of work with Vivaldi on as loud as possible. (Not only am I work-obsessed, I also have snobby taste in music. I'm so datable!)

When I got home, I binged on work. I woke up way too early for a person who had gone to bed at 2:30 a.m., and spread four projects out in my room: book-making at the sewing machine, paper-stamping at the drafting table, letter-writing my desk, and everything-that-has-to-be-on-the-computer on the computer. Soon I had accumulated piles: half-finished letters, scraps of paper, threads and bits of fabric. I was in heaven. No one was home, so I turned up "The Four Seasons" to the maximum volume and flitted from project to project like a butterfly with ADHD. 

I think I understand that this isn't necessarily good for me. I wake up every morning at 4 so I can have the space to do work like this without anyone interrupting me. When I say that to people, they give me a pitying look comparable to the kinds of looks you give people who are going through break-ups, or who just lost their jobs. I don't tell people I get up at 4 so I can get sympathy; I tell people I get up at 4 so they won't make come out and sit at a bar with them after 8 p.m., since that sounds like hell. I'm always shocked that people think it's a fate worse than death to wake up that early in the morning; in my mind, I am giving myself an enormous present every single day. However, it has come to my attention that this mindset is not necessarily normal or healthy.

But you know what's LESS healthy? HEROIN. So as far as addiction goes, I'd say I'm doing just fine.