Saturday, January 20, 2018

on routine

Today, I slept late and dreamed of house sitting a house full of kittens I couldn't find homes for. Maybe this is subconsciously about books or writing or art, but then my mother made an appearance, as she often does since the fall, so maybe it was about her and none of those things.  The problem with sleeping into the mid-afternoon is a lack of daylight left in the day this time of year.  Most days I am deep in the library with no windows by the time the sun goes down, so no matter how bright it is when I go in, I emerge into darkness, whether it's 5pm or 10.  But here at home, I notice it.  I let the apartment get as dark as I can stand it before I turn on a lamp, so I find myself squinting to see the keyboard and take slight underlit, fuzzy instagram pics of the cats in fading light.

It is more of the winter sameness. I've been watching WESTWORLD, and thinking about loops, the robots and their loops, me and my loops.  There is something sad about this, but also reassuring. I know that daily, I will take the same route to work, will stop at the same place to get coffee and breakfast. The same breakfast pretty much without variation. I will go to the library and have many of the same interactions.  I will spend my day doing much of the same things in various configurations.  I will close the library and go to the studio and fall into my usual routines of printing and binding and trimming.  I will catch the same bus home and spend my time there eating dinner, maybe listening to some music, maybe writing a little bit.  Then I'll go to bed and maybe watch something on Netflix until I start to drift off.   There are minor variations depending on what day it is of course, date nights thrown in on occasion, errands to run, social outings that are tempting enough to lure me away.  According to the time of year and my library work schedule, things get flipped--studio hours in the morning and work in the evening. But mostly, I have a loop, a groove, and while some more adventurous types might find it horrible I actually adore my routines and dailyness and find it very soothing.  Sure, I can vary off loop, but actually sometimes get really anxious when I have to. It is a loop, and I guess unlike the robots, it's  one I've wilfully chosen rather than one that's been forced upon me.  When I vary from it, due to being away from home or traveling or whatnot, I crave it's familiarity.

And this is not to say amazing things can't happen in that loop--new art projects and poems and stumbling upon things that are far more adventurous on a small scale. Maybe one can live very small but very big at the same time (ask Emily Dickinson).  As a kid, I used to watch my parents, in their own groove of routines, and wanted something so much more than exhausted  9-5ing and nights in front of a television, but now realize that to an outsider, you never know how deep or glorious someone else's experience goes. I do not travel the world, or go on exotic odysseys, but I would say there is definitely something rich and sustaining in the dailyness.

Maybe, again, it's the Taurus in me and her love of comfort and groundedness.  The pleasures of life, rather than grand or sweeping, are small and exquisite--yummy bath accoutrments, that daily raspberry iced latte.  Pretty dresses, books and cats and art supplies.     A really good peanut butter sandwich when I'm really hungry but don't want to go through the bother of cooking. A bit of tequila in some limeade for a faux margarita. The way my bed feels when I crawl into it every evening--the sheets cool and smooth (barring the warm spots of the cats I just had to make move out of the way. )  In winter, the pleasures are mostly indoor pursuits, but come summer and even the air right when it starts to rain becomes one of them--the smell that rises up from the lake when the wind is right.  Of ambling slowly to bus stops and down sidestreets instead of rushing to get out of the cold as quickly as possible. This longing for wide open windows (why I never really want A/C no matter how hot summers get.)

Change and upheaval makes me anxious, and crazy, and unable to function fully most of the time. I get itchy when I  watch other people change apartments, whole cities, several times in a year. Change jobs, change lovers, change entire identities.  I've been talking a lot about moving to New Orleans, but I probably won't, perhaps because no matter how desireable she is as a city, familiarity would only make her common, and perhaps more fitting as a place to visit on occasion, but to return home to my routines and loop.   Plus every time I've left Chicago, even for a bit, I've wanted badly to come back.

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