February 9, 2018
Nevada City, CA
Someone has left a pot of cooked rice on the stove for two days, I discover as I walk into the kitchen. I’m not taking the lid off: if there’s one good way to ruin your morning it’s by inhaling a noxious smell accompanied by the guilt of wasting food. Nobody else lives in my house but me, so I’m pretty sure who’s responsible. And it might be three days, now that I think of it. I only came in here to get my keys.
I am dressed already, because that’s how I roll. Teeth brushed, face washed, shoes on, about to go out of the house and find some coffee and breakfast. I used to work in offices and eat meals in my own kitchen, but now that I work at home much of the time the danger of staying in a nightgown all day has driven me to going out for breakfast just to ensure I’ll at least put some clothes on.
You have to outsmart your bad habits in this life, since actually getting rid of them is so difficult. My most effective tactic is eating in public. I like to eat, I hate to appear bedraggled, therefore I’ll get dressed and even wash my hair if necessary. Yes, of course, it’s more expensive to eat this way if you only look at the cost of food. I could make something at home for $3 that I pay $9.50 for in a coffee shop. But if you amortize in the cost of behavioral therapy to try to get me to dress in the morning when my commute is only seven steps and two stairs, the equation changes radically. Plus, it’s fun to have someone cook for you, so it reduces my need for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, too.
This morning it’s the Curly Wolf Espresso House and then a meeting with the head of our county’s arts council. I hate meetings and refuse to attend them, so we call this “having tea,” but it’s a meeting all the same. She is English, born and raised. I listen in a slight haze of delirium, imagining which Austen novel I would cast her in and remembering how much I like the word plummy when applied to vowels. Plans are made, lists generated, very innocent gossip is exchanged. Even her lipstick is kind of plum colored.
Then it’s down to my office to encourage a few clients to imagine that they could have what they want, if only they can figure out what that is. This is the bulk of my life-coaching job, fighting the culture’s vast inculcation of confusion and despair in the minds of women. I am very good at it. Not all my clients are women, but even the men seem to need permission to do things, even to think about doing things. I grant them permission, tell them they’re entirely normal and well intentioned even if divorce is involved, and hug them goodbye.
I go home and change into ratty old clothes so I can take a walk. I’m a little bit sick of weighing more than a Toyota Sequoia and have been wheedling myself out on walks now and then as a show of resistance. They can’t be at a regular time, or I will rebel. I can’t tell anyone about them, because people get overexcited and want to help me stick to a regimen, which also makes me rebel. Outsmarting a rebellious nature is not easy. I have to fool myself into thinking that whatever I do is fun, and also a little bit revolutionary. How might taking a walk be revolutionary, you ask? Well, it’s fighting big oil, it’s a direct rebuke to the pharmaceutical industry, and since the places I tend to walk are beautiful, it’s a vote for art instead of commerce. These are subjects I support wholeheartedly, whereas losing weight is a mixed bag, since it can include the idea of conforming to cultural/patriarchal norms and the unfriendly notion that I’m not perfectly fine the way I am.
I am perfectly fine the way I am, I say to myself, kindly, but I’m also feeling very stiff when I go to get up out of chairs, which is boring. I’d like to be able to dance in the street, come the revolution (see Emma Goldman), and at the moment that would be painful. I might, God help us, wheeze.
After the meandering walk, I come home and get into my nightgown. The sun is down but the sky’s still light. My rule is that I can go to bed the minute it gets dark.
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