Friday, January 08, 2010

Bridget Jones Redux

The problem of how to spend, mark, and assess the worth of my research leave has been bugging me. It’s a high-class problem, believe me, I know. Still… My husband is reading Murakami’s running book, which, I read, got its start as a training journal. This and my own goals have got me thinking, mostly jokingly, about writing an amped up version of those tired year-in-the-life memoirs: how many pages written and read, how many minutes of what kind of exercise, how many WeightWatchers points consumed, how many pounds lost and gained. It’s a 9-month leave, if you include summer, and maybe I could just keep track of my progress and setbacks.

All of this, however, seems too depressing and too far from the real goals of having fun in the gym while losing weight, and, more to the point, of contemplation, reading, and writing something that makes a real contribution to a meaningful conversation.

It’s not that I’ve lost my sense of humor: heaven forbid! Just that I feel my energy draining away in the triviality of witty comments on friends’ status updates or bits of self-deprecation about my latest sampling of the children’s macaroni.

I was shocked recently when my mother, stern-voiced, told me that she hoped I would work very hard during my leave: “Why don’t you put in four good days each week,” she said, as if imposing a strict limit. All I could think was four? Only four? “and then do something nice for yourself on Fridays: go to a museum or a movie.” My girlfriends agreed with my mom.

Frankly, Fridays “off” hadn’t occurred to me. But it has now. I’ve been to the gym. I have a small task to do for my spouse, and then I’m heading to a matinee. See you on Monday.


Rebecca Kaplan said...


My name is Rebecca Kaplan, and I'm working on a media list for Random House. It would be really helpful if I had an e-mail address for this blog so I could add you to get mailings from Pantheon/Knopf.

If you're interested, please send me a contact e-mail.


Rebecca Kaplan said...

Please send the contact e-mail to Thanks.

Anne Camille said...

I thought a lot about such schedules a few months ago when contemplating quiting my job to have time to pursue other interests, things not necessarily monitarily productive. One of my fears -- perhaps a primary reason for not following through on that plan -- was a concern that without the structure of the work world, time would be squandered on the trival. I think your mother's idea of a day off is a great one. Treat it as a sabbath, a day for rest and restoration, not for running errands.