Spicing Things Up
When I get bored with my routine, this is the kind of stuff I do to spice things up a bit.
For a while, I was obsessed with getting into work ridiculously early. I don’t think I’m too affected by the winter blues* but who doesn’t love the sun? To relegate as much darkness as possible to the work day, as the days got shorter and shorter I started waking up earlier and earlier. The earliest I ever arrived was 5:50 a.m., because I couldn’t bring myself to set my alarm before 5:00 a.m. In my head, 5:00 is “morning,” while 4:59 and all the time before it remain “middle of the night.” For several weeks, I was home just after 2:30 p.m. and could go for walks in the daylight, read books without having to switch on any lights, and take showers with the window open. But soon, I grew perpetually tired, and even the daylight during which I was not sitting in my office was wasted on napping or being showered and in my pajamas by 3:30 p.m., which is pretty sweet as an occasional indulgence, but begins to feel like depression after a while. I needed to go back to more normal hours, but giving up a workday that ends at 2:30 p.m. was going to be really, really, really hard. Getting Out of the Office is a major thing for me. So, I decided to take the baby steps approach. One day, I set my alarm for 5:05 a.m. Every couple of days, I added 5 minutes. These days I’m getting home closer to 3:30 p.m., which is feeling less like middle-of-the-night-pajama-time as the days are getting longer.
I’ve also changed my routine for the middle of the day. I put myself on a budget, which was exciting because adhering to a budget is an exercise in being disciplined, and being disciplined is as much of a thrill as being routinized, and then altering those routines. I used to fritter away money on eating out. Now, I bring food to work and utilize my lunch time for Getting Things Done. A typical work lunch will feature a visit to the gas station, Target, or Walmart, so I get most of my grocery shopping, errand running, and gas pumping done during the work day. The problem with trying to shop on a 45-minute lunch break is my shopping list can never be more than 5 things. Some weeks, I’ve visited Target two, or even three, times, but that’s fine because I really like Target. Plus, I’m Getting Out of the Office. Also, since I spend my lunch break making sure I stick to my budget, it’s like double discipline and an extra little thrill.
While I’ve been trying to do more with my lunchtimes, I’ve been trying to do less with my hair. Thanks to my awesome stylist, I have a cut that requires almost no maintenance beyond a trim every 2 months. While I usually do put a bunch of styling crap in my hair (unless I’m trying to get to work at 5:50, in which case I have to skip tending to two of the following: hair, makeup, ironed clothes, coffee), if I didn’t even comb it, it would still fall in long, beachy waves. Still, I’d like to do even less. A couple of years ago, I briefly joined the No Poo Movement. Instead of shampoo, I used baking soda and vinegar, which worked ok until the skin on the back of my neck got raw. And I stank of vinegar. So I switched back to shampoo but only every other day. Recently, my hairstylist, whose hair is long and fine like mine, convinced me to shampoo every 3 days. She went down to twice a week one winter by “wearing lots of hats.” At my last appointment, she waved her beautiful locks at me and informed me she hadn’t bothered with shampoo in 4 days. Sold! It was a bit weird at first, but after a few weeks my scalp reconstituted itself as I weaned my hair off shampoo. Not long ago I caught sight of myself in the mirror at work and thought “Dang! You’re quite fetching!” It was a day I skipped the coffee and not the mascara, so that helped. Then, I leaned in for a closer look and thought, “Dang! You need to get some sleep.”
*I love John Donne’s “A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day.”