Posted by: Mark Nielsen | June 19, 2008

Summertime, and the Living Is… Complicated.

Summer may not be beginning officially for a few more days, but for the Nielsens it has definitely begun — and with it, the sometimes delicate, often clumsy dance that we do when trying to make plans. Plans for weekends in Wisconsin. Plans for longer summer trips (which we never seem to be able to set up in February, when we stand a better chance of getting decent time-share locations, in places we actually want to go). Plans for the Fourth, our anniversary, my birthday.


And then there’s the plan for the day, or for the week: the goal being a balance of chores (now that we have the extended potential free-time) and personal interests from our individual and family lists (the beach, Millennium Park, read a book, go to the Chicago Botanic Gardens, write an overlong but hilarious blog entry, catch up on movies we’ve been meaning to rent, see a play, a concert, a class or two for Graham at the park district… you get the idea). Sue gets restless when her schedule is too open. She wants to fill it. And she can sometimes be a “work first and earn your playtime” kind of personality. That’s okay, but it ain’t me.


By contrast, I get loose and sometimes lazy. Freed from a world of deadlines and early rising, I want to make it all up as I go along. Maybe I’ll set a goal or two for the day, or the week. And usually I get to it, within a few days, or a few weeks. But it drives my wife nuts that I prefer to operate this way. In the summer, too often one of the three of us in the other’s face, or underfoot, and we can get kind of prickly. We love each other, but in seeing so much of each other, we can’t help but get under each other’s skin at least once a day. It’s complicated.


In theory, I was supposed to have another job by now, and we wouldn’t be doing this dance. And I have been looking. But it’s hard to stick with it, when there’s gardening to be done and Sue claims she hasn’t the strength to dig, and someone’s planning a camping trip I’d like to go on, and we’ve got a little cushion of money stashed away to prevent some desperate situation where I’ll have to take any old crappy job, just to make our bills. (That date is now somewhere around October, which will come quicker than I expect, I know…)

So if y’all know of a $75K per year job, at a museum or somewhere cool, one that’s a short walk from the beach, where I can spend my Friday half-days playing volleyball, and where they won’t mind that I have to drop my kid off at school at 8:30am and therefore can’t start early, be sure to let me know. Okay? And then when those pigs from the Lincoln Park Farm in the Zoo start flying, my life will be perfect.


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