The title for this post is a shout-out to my friend Scott, who wore a “Sunday Funday” shirt on a Saturday night. I found this hilarious, but also a little unnerving as well. This past Saturday I struggled to balance work and fun while all of my friends were relaxing. In this new life I am trying to build for myself, one built on a balance of work and play, I don’t really get to have a weekend.
When I was teaching, the hours were so crazy and the work week was so intense that a weekend was necessary in order for me to keep my sanity intact. Most of the public high schools in Nashville start at 7:05 and end at 2:05. I usually left school anywhere between 4 and 4:30 PM. At the end of the school year, this became a running joke with the janitor who cleaned my classroom. He disapproved of me staying so late, and he probably wanted me out of the way so he could clean in peace, so when he would roll his supplies up to my doorway, I would pack up and say, “You’re here, so I’m going; you can take over now!” Needless to say, packing up meant that I would put all of the work (grading) that I hadn’t finished into a large bag and schlep it home with me. If I was lucky (or my students were lucky, I should say), I would actually get some of that grading finished between running, feeding myself, and going to bed somewhere around 9:30 so I could be up at 5:30 or 6. If I wanted to socialize on a weeknight or spend time with my boyfriend, Max, on the rare Tuesday or Wednesday night that he had off of work, no grading was finished. I began to form a shoulder callous that would make the Hunchback of Notre Dame jealous just from the bag of papers.
Then came the weekend. Friday night I was usually too tired to hang out with friends, or if I did, I would be a grouchy mess. You may have heard recently about a phenomenon called “social jet-lag” that makes 20-somethings fatter because their biological clocks are messed up on the weekends. This is because they stay out late at night with friends on weekends but get up early during the week, and it affects their bodies as though they were flying the red-eye from coast to coast every weekend. I felt this way all the time. I would stay up/out late waiting for Max to get off work so that I could spend those few precious hours with him, but I would pay for it Monday morning as my body couldn’t re-adjust to the work-week schedule.
Saturday and Sunday mornings were just chill time. Literally sitting on the couch and watching movies and not doing anything more than making breakfast and sitting. Which was wonderful after all of the movement and stress of the workweek. Sometimes, as we were training for the half marathon this past year we would get up and run several miles in the afternoon, but that was in the later afternoon. And definitely only one day in the weekend. Max and I used the weekend hours to our full advantage. I spent one Saturday this past year watching 8 hours of Netflix. Eight Hours. I wish I got paid for that.
As Sunday wound up to Monday night, I would start to get anxious. The giant bag of work I brought home to do for the weekend would start staring at me from my desk every time I walked through the room. I would begin thinking of all the plans I hadn’t made for the next week, all of the chapters I hadn’t read, all of the quizzes I hadn’t made, and all of the papers I could grade that were sitting in my bag. I would do everything I could to avoid opening that bag until the last possible minute. “Grocery store, honey?” I would suggest, and we would head to the grocery store. “Do you want to make dinner, too?” would be the inevitable question. Then we would make dinner, sometimes until 8 or 9 PM. Sometimes I would even fix my lunch for the next day, and at the end of the school year I was making 3 days worth of smoothies to supplement my vitamin intake as part of my 1/2 marathon training (and as procrastination). Once all of that was finished, maybe a load or two of laundry, all of the dishes, the toilet and bathroom, and the bedroom picked up, then and only then, would I open that bag. And usually that was with an “Oh Crap! I have to do____” before first block tomorrow.
A week later, repeat.
The reason I write about all of this is because Saturday I really made the effort to work on Saturday, and it worked, probably for the first time in 3 years. And then Sunday night came around, and I was antsy again. I had that horrid, untethered feeling. Perhaps it had something to do with Max taking the night off of work. He made a delicious dinner (brats with a spicy strawberry sauce and swiss chard from the garden– everything from the garden or the CSA except the lentils) and we ate ourselves silly and laughed and had a great time. After he expertly plated up our food, restaurant style, he asked me, “Do you want to watch a movie? Do you have any work to do?” and my from-the-gut answer was “I have work to do, let’s not start a movie.” But I did not have any work to do. And that almost freaked me out more. Sure, I could have written about the awesome day I had had the day before, or I could have worked on my resume some more, or I could have made the list of places to go in Santiago, Chile that I’ve been meaning to draw up for our upcoming trip (OMG 6 days now!), but nothing to do for tomorrow.
This always happens at the end of a school year, but the change of a lifestyle from workweek to set-your-own schedule is daunting. I started this post 12 hours ago. Here I am, 12 hours later finally finishing it up. But I am finishing it. And that is gratifying and different about this new life. The bag of grading never seemed to empty, but this blog post will be published in a few minutes, and you will be reading it in a few minutes or hours or days (months, years, who knows?), but I will have finished it. Teaching was a job that never seemed finished. And so, closing the book on another post, but not without some pictures of a really awesome Saturday.