Yesterday, I was plotting out some timelines on my work calendar, and I started getting that familiar edgy, restless feeling. I actually felt a little jelly-legged, like a hamster that has run on its wheel for hours. It now has goo for leg muscles, but doesn’t know enough to get off the wheel.
I was staring at June, July and August, and not a single day had yet been marked down as “vacation.”
Talk about slacking. I’ve been so busy writing I haven’t taken time to do my usual vacation planning. Words are my priority. I don’t mind creating a new collection of dust bunnies or an overflowing laundry hamper while I glue myself to the keyboard. But let’s get real here. Even my words aren’t allowed to mess with vacation planning.
I am blessed to work for an employer with a pretty awesome leave package. I am not blessed with the money to take an actual “go somewhere” vacation. In this economy, I have many friends and colleagues in similar situations. They find themselves scrambling to take time off at the end of the year, as the “use it or lose it” deadline for vacation days looms.
“I can’t afford to go anywhere, and there’s no point in just staying home,” says one.
“I get bored if I don’t have plans,” adds another.
I try my best not to look like they’ve said they were abducted by aliens and now have a tracking chip in their right butt cheek. If everyone who said these kinds of things was passionate about their work, I could understand. But sometimes, it seems more like they are just so used to the endless squeaking of the wheel as they run that they are disturbed by the silence and lack of movement when they stop.
Sure, I’d love to travel across the country and visit off-the-beaten-track towns, or hop on a cruise ship and travel to some blue water, white sand paradise. But not being able to afford those kinds of vacations does not mean my days off will be “boring.”
I love the feeling of rising by my own internal clock. I love knowing there’s an extra day or two to write. I love losing hours in a book or floating in my parents pool without that nagging feeling that I’m losing all my primo writing time. I love an entire day spent barefoot and makeup-free. I am never, ever bored.
Maybe that’s the writer in me But I’m pretty sure that even if I had never developed the story-telling bug, I’d still cherish every day lived off the grid. There’s so very much to do when you can do things your way.
I took the scary right out of my calendar by plotting out several long weekends and mid-week summer days away from work. I spread my time out, taking lots of little breaks instead of using it all up at once and then having to stare down endless 5-day workweeks.
I am partial to taking off Mondays. They are the day everyone wants to get back “into the swing of things” and meet and buzz and rush. I don’t mind working Fridays, because everyone else is in wind-down mode and you can actually get things done.
My summer work calendar is now a little more Monday-free. I prefer my buzz and rush day to be spent with the internal buzz of my plots and characters. When I look at my calendar now, it no longer makes me feel vaguely vomitorious.
Perhaps our workaday lives have made us feel like hamsters, not quite sure what to do with themselves when someone takes away the wheel. Not me. I am a caged rodent who has no problem getting off that squeaky wheel for a while.
There are words to be written, tales to read, conversations to have and things to see, right here in my own little corner.