Now that I am an empty nester, I finally have the time I have dreamed of for years to focus on my writing -- to blog weekly or more often, to ramp up my song composition efforts, and most important, to get going, at long last, on that musical. Of course I have the time! After all, I am no longer juggling the demands of motherhood and full-time work. I have no more carpools to drive, far less laundry to do, and never again will I be expected to throw a little something together for a bake sale.
Well, one month into the empty nest, and these vast expanses of free time don't seem to have materialized quite yet. The past few weeks have brought the demands of the Jewish High Holidays -- and with them the requirement to bake my own challah and to ensure the proper 3:1, dessert:appetite ratio:
Even without the holidays, there is just so much to do! I have to iron the napkins:
(Note to self, potential plot for musical: menopausal empty-nester abandons her career in real estate finance to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a laundress. Hilarity ensues.)
I bought a nice bottle of brandy as a gift for a friend’s birthday, and I had to cover the box with stickers in lieu of wrapping paper:
And it turns out that without children in my house, I need to go to yoga class five or six times a week. Other people dither at their computers in order to avoid exercise. I exercise in order to avoid dithering at my computer.
The last few years that my younger daughter was at home, I got into a pretty good writing rhythm built around my driving obligations. Every Saturday, while I waited for her during her clarinet lesson at Symphony Hall, I would sit in the hip coffee shop around the corner with my laptop. It was a great opportunity to make sure that I got in at least a little writing weekly.
Of course, it didn't always work out so perfectly. There were lots of great conversations on which to eavesdrop at the Pavement coffiee shop. Staff and clientele alike were amply pierced, which was a distraction in itself. I found myself wondering in particular about the interaction between tongue piercings and the essential coffee shop activity of drinking hot beverages. Metals, as we all know, are excellent conductors of heat. So if your tongue is pierced and you drink a hot beverage, does the kinetic energy in the drink flow disproportionately to the metal tongue-stud, making the beverage feel cooler in the drinker’s mouth? Or does the stud heat up rapidly, burning the contiguous tongue tissue? Or does the piercing process kill all the nerve endings in the contiguous tongue tissue, so that it doesn’t really matter?
(Note to self, potential plot for musical: menopausal empty-nester spontaneously gets tongue pierced, and finds she can use the stud to channel signals from alien planets. Chorus of extra-terrestrials. Hilarity ensues.)
This afternoon I decided to try to re-create that weekend writing magic of yesteryear by packing up my laptop and walking over to the nearest coffee shop in our suburban town.
It is a much more conventional crowd here at the George Howell cafe in Newton. Today it is a quiet bunch, as well; no conversations on which to eavesdrop! And no distracting piercings.
So instead I am observing eyebrows.
A recent conversation with friends who are of a similar age focused on midlife loss of eyebrows. This was a new one for me, although it should not have been. I know all about midlife loss of head hair, muscle tone, reflexes, skin elasticity, memory, nerve, fashion sense, and aplomb. But eyebrows? Who knew??
Anyone who’d bothered to observe, apparently; something I have neglected to do until now. But I am making up for lost time. I am studying eyebrows on every face available. What is the median eyebrow density among 30-somethings? 40-somethings? 50-, 60- and 70-somethings? Is there a predictable rate of eyebrow hair loss? And if so, are we talking about a linear function, or an exponential one?
(Note to self, potential topic for musical: menopausal empty-nester develops miracle cure for midlife eyebrow depletion, and finds love, fame and fortune in the process; hilarity ensues. Eleven-o'clock-number done entirely in downward dog.)
I do not think that weekend afternoons at George Howell will become my new writing routine. For one thing, there are relatively few seats, and a long line of people, so I feel guilty hogging the table once my coffee is gone.
For another – and here is the real issue – there are entirely too many eyebrows coming in and out of this place. It’s just too distracting. I can’t posslbly write a thing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will head home to iron the dish towels. And I'd better hurry if I want to get them done before my 4:30 yoga class.