Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Five: Beating Cabin Fever

Here in Maryland, we had a beautiful day - warm and sunny, with air that smelled like fresh laundry. I was at home for most of it, hand-picking pine needles out of particularly stubborn patches of carpet and trying to reason with a 3-year-old. (Yay me.)

But over at RevGal, Singing Owl is in a pickle:
Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?

I really have only one suggestion, which is:

do the thing you 'never' do. In every area.

Take a different route home. Get your groceries at a store you've never been to. Choose a new restaurant or takeout, order something you've never had, read a genre you'd never dream of reading, try on a garment that's not like anything in your closet.

Here's the good thing: It's an EXPERIMENT. Therefore, it cannot fail.
There is so very little to be lost by trying on a flowery blouse, wandering the aisles of a new market for a few extra minutes, picking up a cheesy paperback (or a scholarly tome, whatever) on your regular library trip. If you hate it, then your suspicions are confirmed and you can go back to your favorite dish/author/black t-shirt with renewed authority.

But now you're a different kind of person. You're not the kind of person who only ever orders home-style bean curd, with no rice, only ever listens to NPR, only reads contemporary literary fiction and food books. (Ahem. That would be me.) You could do anything! At any moment! You're full of surprises!

And who knows - you might find you like short boots or vampire books or Vampire Weekend. That would be like a bonus.

I occasionally go through a discipline of randomness. For a specified period of time (3 days - never as long as a whole week, that I can recall) I discipline myself that, whenever I am given a choice, I will choose to do the thing I haven't done before.

(Confession - I have not done this in the last 4 years, since parenthood (though often tedious) means that every day one is forced to do things one has never done before. And would not choose, given the choice.)

And in the coming days, I will be doing something I never, ever ever do. I will be having people over.

I have invited my co-workers over to this squalid hovel modest suburban townhouse to eat pizza and, presumably, watch my son have a tantrum. It's all about community, people. Like, authenticity n'shit.

I never invite people over - except people who have lived here, the veterans of suburban bohemia - not because I am embarrassed about the squalid hovel, but because I am totally totally greedy about my free time. Since reproducing, I feel like I have about 6 minutes to myself in a day, and 2 seconds with my husband. Have people over? Are you kidding me? Friends take time! I need that time!

So I can spend it on Facebook. Again, Yay me.

I went to my knitting group the other night. I never go, because that would be giving away my 6 minutes to, you know, other people. I went and finished the project (an alledged Christmas gift that I have frogged THREE TIMES. Panic disorder and knitting are a tough combination.)

But, aha, interesting that panic should come up in this conversation, because in the 2 hours of knitting and chatting with strangers about this and that, ex-boyfriends, clothes, jobs, yarn, whatever whatever....I did not have one second of panic, not an instant of obsessive pulse-checking or jaw-clenching.

(I raise a tiny, tattered, slept-with, chewed-on, 46-year-old pennant that says "betsy".)

(Yay me. For real.)


Elaine (aka...Purple) said...

Those minutes are precious aren't they. Enjoyed reading your post.

Stacie said...

The discipline of randomness I really like that a lot.

I kind of feel like the last few months have caused my life to be more random then I like. But there's also been an element of acceptance to it - I've found myself thinking, "you're still the same person just in uncharted territory" and it grounds me yet lets me go with the flow (or the freakin' flood as it may be.)

P.S. I'm picturing your tattered pennant as purple with white letters :) I'm a visual freak. What can I say?

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

This was a fun read--and I really think that doing all different stuff is a great idea!

Jadefeminist said...

Yay, you, indeed!

I'm having people over next weekend. It's also something I never ever do, but unlike you, I really don't want people seeing my squalid hovel. I'm getting over it, though. I don't have friends who judge people by how they look or how their houses look, so I'm not sure why I have this particular phobia about how my house looks. Sigh.

I finished an alleged Christmas gift and it's going to be a Chinese New Year gift instead.

Everytime there is a new post in your blog, I go "Woot!" I get as excited as I would when I got a big fat letter from you back in the day.

FuguesStateKnits said...

Oooh - I just love that thinking! One of the things I do when the spirit moves me is to take a non-Beltway route home (I work in Bawlmer County and live in Ellicott City, "Merlin") - and I've never regretted it!
Life is so precarious right now and yet,
and yet....