At Our Leisure

Today was an exceedingly lazy day. Asa didn’t have school and was tired from acting in a play nearly every night for the last three weeks, and I was fighting a cold, so we stayed in. Chris woke up late, nine o’clock, but still made it to work for a nine-thirty meeting.

I called the property manager to tell her our bathroom fan had died again. She told me that she used to live in, and manage, the same building at the same time, and how hard that was and how she’s happier now, and how probably they’ll need to send over a contractor to punch a bigger hole in the ceiling. We’ve been airing out the bathroom for weeks with a floor fan, so there’s more condensation on the windows when it gets cold, especially when I make a big pot of soup (like today) or have to hang the wet laundry indoors when the building’s one dryer breaks (also like today).

While Asa was eating breakfast, I read them a section of a new novel I am writing. No one had read it or heard it before, Asa was the first. Asa really liked it, they even started to tear up at one point, but they felt that the protagonist’s character (her perspective, her experience of the events) needed more development. Asa was right and I was quite amazed (not for the first time) that one so young (thirteen) could be that insightful about a piece of writing.

The doorbell rang in the afternoon. I ran down all the stairs and found the postman with a package. Many weeks ago, someone left a kind of scent dispenser in the foyer with the mailboxes, a mysterious little glass pot with a handful of black sticks sticking out of the top, reminiscent of incense. The postman had moved it to the interior stairs. He said it reeked so bad he literally got a headache every time he came in. He said he was going to have to talk to his supervisor. I said, “You know, I’ll just throw it away.” So, I did, executive decision, right in the big bin outside. Postal carriers suffer enough, they’re even on a rotating strike right now. No reason they have to huff that nasty perfume. No need to involve the supervisor.

Upstairs I opened the package. Amazon had sent me Michelle Obama’s new memoir. Cool! I suspect my publisher ordered it, another book for a Goodreads review. I’m happy to read about someone heroic like her, even if I won’t relate at all. As we all know, she’s extraordinarily high-achieving and charismatic, a brilliant power house with an against-all-odds story. Last night some new friends loaned me two books: The Master and Margarita, and The Language Instinct. I’m already slowly reading three books, one of them is by an author new to me, A.S. Byatt. Even on a lazy day though, I rarely read during the day. I’m almost exclusively an in-bed reader.

No, to really be lazy, Asa and I needed to watch a movie. Today we watched an episode of Star Trek. An alien woman in a shiny purple mini-dress, with matching thigh-high boots, appeared on the bridge of the Enterprise and stole Spock’s brain. Spoiler alert: they got it back. We also watched Mike Mills’ beautiful film Twentieth Century Women, which is really excellent, and if you haven’t seen it, you should.

During Star Trek, I finished sewing a sweater I’ve been making from two sweaters. I am constantly making demented recycled clothing. I don’t mean for the clothes to look demented, that’s just how they come out. I suspect this will be one more difference between me and Michelle Obama.

Before the package arrived, delivered by the postman with two earrings and a headache, I taught a Spanish lesson over Skype to my friend Jacki in California. Today is the day after American Thanksgiving and she was at her parents’ house in Ukiah, in her old room where decades ago, in high school, we used to hang out. She had written in her Spanish homework that she was thinking of visiting the Azores in the Portuguese Atlantic. I told her that I knew an island that she should visit, namely the big island that I live on (Vancouver Island) because I like to skew these lessons to my own purposes when possible. But she did say she was also thinking of visiting my island, and I said, “¡Muy bien!” because this was indeed the correct answer.

Now, as I write this, I am lying in bed, winding down from this leisurely day into a night of sleep. Full disclosure, my lazy days don’t differ hugely from my productive ones. It’s slightly analogous to the narrow margin of difference between my daytime clothes and the clothes I sleep in, and while I may not be proud of it, I don’t seem to be able to change. However, since it is my reading hour, I will resume with my new friend A.S. Byatt. Actually, I don’t know if A.S. and I will be friends or not; this thing is too new. But I’m hopeful. I always have room for a new friend.

My review of Elementals by AS Byatt, 4 stars:

Eerie, strange, mystical tales, each presumably a kind of metaphysical riff on a real object of art: a still life by Velazquez, a 17th century goblet from Venice, etc. I was particularly sucked in by “Cold” wherein an ancient princess discovers her nature, inherited from a forgotten ancestor, that drives her, at first, to dance naked in the snow. Later, wooed by a king from a desert kingdom, the two lovers must find an impossible solution to be able to be together. Strange drives and longings permeate these stories. 

See more of my book reviews and more about the books I’ve authored on Goodreads.