Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Fall break, fantasies and realities

All semester long, I'd known something was coming up called "fall break." I knew it mainly as the reason planning syllabi would get tricky around that week of November - some of my classes have their "Week 9" before the break, others after, which seems entirely normal to me now, but which I found mega-daunting at the time. It's hard to say what I imagined fall break would consist of. Going somewhere? No - it's not a vacation. But maybe something like leisurely catching up on work? Getting dressed and going to a coffee shop, rather than determining that more work gets done if I just stay in dog-walking sweats and work during the non-poodle-stroll, non-classroom hours at home, in those? There was also the more ambitious variant of this, which also involved profound levels of reading, writing, socializing, and attending cultural events of all kinds.

I suppose I hadn't realized quite how busy this term would be, nor had I (fully) anticipated that every practical life-thing that couldn't be done during the semester would more or less have to happen this week. So it's basically a work-week, but without the physical act of being in class, and thus with more hours to work with.

But I must have absorbed - along with that inexplicable desire to own-but-not-wear highlighter makeup - those millennial mantras about self-care and reclaiming one's time and so forth, given that I decided, what must have been a few weeks ago, to preempt the likelihood that the week would be entirely sensible. I did this by making two reservations, both for Tuesday (that is, yesterday). The first was for a soba weekly pop-up night, on a night when I normally teach. The second: a full-on hair refurbishment, with cut and color and everything. (Well, those two things.)

Tuesday Of Break became this thing lingering in my mind as the day of bliss. Rather than scrambling from one task to the next, making 5pm 'lunch' out of various snack foods I keep in my office (bulk-purchased seaweed snacks from the Korean grocery store are now finished),  I'd be turned into a balayage'd Pinterest lady, eating at Toronto's answer to Sobaya. Rather than quickly grabbing whichever caffeinated drink also has the most sugar at the coffee shop near my evening class, I'd sit, all serene, drinking tea, say, somewhere inconvenient, just because I could.

It seemed maybe not the best omen for the week when, over the weekend, the man who runs the soba pop-up called to say there's an issue with the buckwheat and could I go instead next Tuesday, which... I cannot. (Maybe in December, I said, and oh, I meant it!) It wasn't about the soba - which is, obviously, far worse news for the soba-sellers than for this aspiring soba-consumer - but what the soba night represented. Everything seemed to be very much not falling into place, serenity-now-wise. I could already see how the hair appointment might also be a bit above and beyond (I'd gotten greedy!), and might also have to be cancelled. Between this and the time change gloominess, etc., etc., I was feeling mighty sorry for myself. Or however one euphemizes that mood in hyperaware, 2017 terms.

And yet, somehow (OK, I know how - it involved taking like my fourth-ever Toronto taxi ride) I made it to the hair salon, on time and everything. It was my first time going to the salon in question, but I was put at ease immediately by the presence of a wonderful, napping dog. While I don't look radically different, I think the ~balayage~ and haircut improved matters tremendously. If nothing else, I now look like someone who had the time, on one recent occasion, to be refurbished. At least as importantly, I came away from the experience feeling very time-reclaimed, and more than ready to spend the rest of fall break either working or (we all have our things) taking tremendous amounts of public transportation to the Japanese strip mall and udon restaurant in the sort-of-suburbs.

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