With everything going on, why don’t you take a vacation from the website? Even 1 week off might help refresh your “batteries”. Maybe take it the week Jae comes home.
I’m sure the reader who sent me this question isn’t alone in thinking it, and in fact others have made similar suggestions in the past (though nobody else has proposed a whole week). And while it’s very sweet and honestly quite touching, the fact is that I’m far too high-strung to even consider it. It’s absolutely true that I have a lot more short commentary-type columns than I used to, and my holiday columns are now basically greeting cards, and the diaries are so easy to do I literally knocked one of them out on my smartphone while waiting for a ferry. But the idea of actually skipping a column completely is so abhorrent to my well-ordered (by which I mean OCD) mind that on several occasions this year I actually battled exhaustion to finish by posting time, which is 3:01 AM here in Seattle. Remember the story “Surprise“? I wrote that after coming home from an orgy & hit “schedule” at exactly 3:00. The only thing like a vacation I’ve had in many, many years was the day I spent with Jae in Idaho…and given that her motorcycle wreck was the very next day, that doesn’t exactly strike me as a very good omen (if I believed in omens, which I kind of do). On top of all that, work is therapeutic for me; long-time readers know that I’ve battled depression for my entire adult life, and work I care about is one of the few things that lets me keep it under control. Indeed, in the years while my marriage was collapsing, creating this blog was what kept me going. Some of my friends have asked how I can manage to see clients right now, when I’m pouring so much of myself into caring for Jae; my answer is that the productive, closed-ended emotional labor of entertaining a gentleman is satisfying and restorative, because it lasts for a finite time and produces results I can clearly see, namely making someone happy. And that helps me to balance the seemingly-unproductive, open-ended emotional labor of caring for a badly-injured partner and navigating a labyrinthine medical system. I’ve always been a giver; it’s intrinsic to my sense of who I am and what my place is in the world. I could no more stop giving than I could stop breathing the air, and even relaxing and letting go for short periods of time is so incredibly difficult for me that I literally can’t do it without the assistance of trusted friends. So the idea of just skipping a day because I feel like it fills me with the sort of horror a struggling dieter might experience if locked inside the world’s best buffet.
But after I answered the reader who sent this question (a bit snarkily, I’m afraid), I started thinking. I’ve begun to do more self-care lately not to please myself, but to placate the friends who are demanding it and to make sure I’m fit to do what I have to do for Jae. So I could probably be induced to skip a column by a strong enough motivation, and when that thought crossed my mind I remembered this incident:
It was one of those really good calls in which one really feels a connection to the client and has a strong sense that she has made him very happy, the kind she feels he will remember for a very long time. Somehow in the pillow talk it came up that my birthday was in a few days, and he asked how I planned to celebrate; I responded that I was still planning to work, but might go out to dinner with my business partner at the beginning of the evening.
He got that look of someone who has had a sudden thought, and asked “How much is your agency fee?”
“$100,” I replied.
“So of the $300 fee, you keep $200?”
He then went to his wallet, pulled out $200 and gave it to me, saying, “This is so that you can turn off your phone at dinner and not have to worry about having missed a call, because I’m paying for the time.”
So here’s what I’m thinking: if anyone out there really wants me to take a day off, he could simply purchase my time for that day. Obviously it wouldn’t be right to charge my full rate, or even my social rate, because A) I’m not actually going to be spending the time with the donor, and B) I’m going to put up some column, even if it’s just a nice thank-you card type picture. So let’s go with half my social rate for 24 hours: for every $1500 donation I’ll take a day off. Yes, I’m shameless, but y’all already knew that; I’m a whore, after all. Now, I don’t actually expect anyone to take me up on this offer, but there it is. And if nothing else, the question gave me something to write about.