The Game Is Not Afoot

I read a very funny blog entry today, and laughed out loud a few times. Wow, that guy is good, I thought. Consistently good. I know my own blogging isn’t up to par lately, and I thought about why that might be.

You know how Sherlock Holmes was unhappy when he wasn’t on the case? If you’ve read the stories or know the Holmes mythos, you know that Holmes was only ever truly alive when he was figuring something out: “The game is afoot!” During his downtime, he found life so unstimulating that he rode out the space between cases with drugs, specifically cocaine and morphine. Yes, really. Sherlock Holmes was a habitual drug user, though admittedly people knew little about narcotics in Arthur Conan Doyle’s time, and cocaine and morphine lack the sleazy, death-dealing stigma they have now.

Every year I look forward to winter break, and every year I find it… absolutely dreadful. I go from 90 to zero in one day, with no time to reinvent myself. The first few days are fun. But soon I ride the tide of freedom, thinking I should be enjoying it, but only feeling anxious, bored, useless and alone.

And my blogging goes right down the tubes. Why? Because I have less to say when the game of learning is not afoot. Because I come to winter break mentally and emotionally unprepared for freedom and free time.

Of course, my typical modus operandi is to make a plan. I’m nothing if not pro-active. Am I happier with a planned-out day? Do I need to arrange my own entertainments? At the risk of extreme honesty making me look like a bit of a freak (people often do when being completely honest), I offer that being single is a lot like having guests that never, ever leave.

You know how with guests you have do always be doing something, planning something? How you never have the luxury of letting a day unfold lazily together? That’s what being single — especially under the double whammy of being single and self-employed without an office to go to — can be like. Monday is pub trivia, Tuesday is a walk in the park at sunset, Wednesday is Movie Night at home, Thursday is Knit Night at the local yarn store, Friday is unscheduled. Saturday is work-in-the-yard day. Sunday is a sock-knitting class.

Am I entertained yet?

It’s amazing the things I still have yet to learn, in an educated, privileged and sane adulthood: How to make a break from routine satisfying and worthwhile. How to relax and have fun. How to travel.

For me the Game is Not Afoot. I know that someday soon I will step into the elevator that takes me to the college math lab. The doors will close and it will be just me, enclosed within those four dull silver walls. And I know I will sigh with relief, an exile back in my country at last.

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