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Un-Free Time

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I am so over "free time." I am one of those neurotic types who thrives when every second of my life is plotted out.

tired looking woman

Jennifer Ginsberg: I actually feel high when I am doing 15 things at once -- even when I "relax" to watch TV, I am simultaneously doing the crossword puzzle while having an in-depth phone conversation with a close friend. As I write this, I realize the absurdity of this behavior. What the hell am I avoiding with all this hyperactivity? Why am I afraid to sit still?

Well, I actually got some answers to these questions the other afternoon.

My son had a playdate, my babysitter took my daughter to the park, and my stepdaughter had volleyball practice -- so I had a few free hours all to myself. I had writing to do, a book proposal to finish, bills to pay, a house that was in desperate need of decorating, and an insidious stack of papers from the Board of Behavioral Sciences that will not stop following and taunting me, no matter how many times I move houses or stash them away in some folder. My nails were chipped and my hair was a rat's nest.

So, I decided to make croutons. Seriously. You see, my friend Jill is an amazing personal chef, and I decided that if she can make her own croutons, I can, too. So I chopped old bread and doused it with olive oil and shredded Parmesan cheese, at which point I realized I had no lettuce. It was a beautiful afternoon in Santa Monica, so I decided to walk to the market.

The second I stepped outside, I felt a profound sense of guilt ... why am I wasting my free time to walk to the market and buy romaine lettuce? Why am I not with Kiki right now? She is so sweet and cute, and I would rather be with her than be alone. This is my free time -- if I am not with my children, I should be doing something productive, like writing or dealing with those f*cking BBS papers. But now that I am outside, all I want to do is walk down to the beach.

F*ck the lettuce, I am going for a power walk. Exercise is a good thing to do with free time, right? But when I exercise, I feel like I should be writing, and when I am writing, I feel like I should be with my kids, and I really need to finish this proposal which may or may not amount to anything ... so is this where I should be putting all of my time and energy right now?

I wonder what my baby is doing at the park. I should be with her -- how selfish am I to send her off to the park with my sitter when I am not even doing anything relevant or important -- just making f*cking croutons and obsessing.

I took the stairs down to the beach, and while my intention was to take a power walk, before I knew it, my shoes were off and my feet were sinking in the hot sand and carrying me down to the water, where I sat in my regular spot, as close as possible to the shore without getting wet. I felt my feelings of shame for once again having squandered my free time, but I was melting into the sand.

And for just one moment, I didn't care.

next: Mommy, Why Am I Fat?
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