“Okay. So it’ll start like this: ‘You know those movies, those movies you can watch over and over and never get sick of? They might not be particularly good but for whatever reason they strike something in you and they become your go-to movies whenever you can’t figure out what to watch. I have three. In no particular order, they are: ‘Rock Star,’ which I love because the music reminds me of high school and it makes me nostalgic for my hometown’s illicit parties when parents were out of town. We’d lift our beers together and scream out Motley Crue and make out on porches and it honestly felt like life couldn’t get any better. The next is ’17 Again.’ I love this one because Zac Efron is brilliantly hysterical in it. No really, he is – ‘”
“No really, he is.” Marlie said nodding and took a sip of her coffee. We were wrapping up our Sunday-After-New-Year’s-Brunch at Park Avenue Winter and I was telling her about my next post.
“I know, that movie is so awesome!” I exclaimed. “Remember that part when his daughter is coming on to him and he mutters, ‘Oh, sweet baby Jesus?!'”
“Oh my god, so funny!” Marlie laughed and I laughed too.
I held out my hands to calm myself. Zac Efron always got me riled up. “Okay, so anyway – then I’ll say ‘I also love ’17 Again’ because originally I’d rented it from Netflix and after the first viewing, couldn’t stop watching it. And after I’d had it for 7 weeks, I was lamenting to my roommmates at the time, Samantha and Kristen, that I knew I had to send it back because Netflix would soon be coming after me and how sad that made me. The next day Samantha arrived home and handed me a brand-new copy of the movie she’d bought for me. And then I’ll talk about how it was one of those simple, small moments that is so sweet and so endearing that you know, even while you’re in that moment, you’ll never forget it. The last is ‘Father of the Bride’ – Steve Martin version. It makes me think of my Dad and how I wish I could see him more often and that makes me weepy. And it also has one of my favorite lines in movie history. Steve Martin is all stressed out and Diane Keaton says, ‘Do you have to go?’ And he turns to her and says, ‘My whole life is ‘have to’. It’s just so poignant, it gets me every time. And it’s just like, lately -”
“I think that’s ‘Parenthood.'”
I furrowed my brow. “You think what’s ‘Parenthood?'”
Marlie tucked a lock of platinum blonde hair behind her ear. “I think Steve Martin says that in ‘Parenthood.'”
“No. Are you sure?”
“I think so. Let me look it up.” She pulled out her phone and did a quick search. “Yep. Steve Martin says that, but he says it to Mary Steenburgen. In ‘Parenthood.'”
“Crap,” I said and put my head in my hands. “The whole post relies on that line.”
“Well, just open with ‘Parenthood.’ Talk about that,” Marlie said as she picked up the check and scanned it over.
I lifted my head and scowled. Not at her. Just at the situation. “No, I can’t do that. Then it won’t be authentic because it’s not one of my go-to movies.”
She laughed then. “Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”
I waved my hand in front of my face and then spoke with finality. “We’re just going to have to go with it. I don’t have time to come up with something new.”
“It will be fine.” She set the bill on the table and reached for her wallet. “So, do you just want to split it?”
“Perfect,” I said and pulled out my own wallet. “So what are you doing for the rest of the day?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t have any plans, so I’m not sure.”
I looked at her. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know what I’ll do.” She shrugged. “I guess whatever I want.”
“I don’t get it,” I said slowly.
She shook her head in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Are you saying you have nothing to do?”
“Nope. Not really. I might go shopping or watch a movie or maybe make a nice dinner. Whatever I feel like.”
I was flabbergasted. As I constantly reminded myself – there are always things that must be done. Immediately. More writing, more cleaning, more organizing of bills, organizing emails, organizing my life. The majority of my life, my head is spinning with all that needs to be done.
She continued on. “I figure – I work hard, when I have free time I should let myself do what I want.”
As I’ve mentioned, Marlie is one of the most moderate people I know. She eats well and goes to the gym and, while she has an enviable social life, never gets crazy drunk like the rest of us. Or, rather, like me. “Why, what are you going to do?” she asked.
“Um, cook lunches for the rest of the week. Work on the Venice book for a few hours. I have to go on Match.com, clean out the fridge, fix my dresser and organize my desk files.”
“That…sounds like a lot,” she said.
“Yeah, I’ll probably have to drink a few beers to get through it.” I lowered my eyes. “I’ve been drinking too much lately.”
She put her hand on mine. “Honey, if I demanded all the things of myself that you demanded of yourself, I’d drink too much too.”
“Really?” I looked up at her.
Another thing I loved about Marlie. No matter how different our lives, she never judged me.
I’d often thought about Dr. Shay’s menacing gaze when I’d told him how much I’d been drinking and how he told me to, “Knock it off.” Maybe it wasn’t the drinking that was the problem. It was how I was living my life. I never felt like I was allowed to relax. I always felt like I had to be DOING something. And a lot of the time, I resented it so much, I had to drink to get through it.
“So what do you do when you get off of work?” I ventured.
“Well, I go to the gym, take a shower, make dinner and then just watch tv or read or whatever…”
“So you don’t obsess about clothes needing to be put away or dishes needing to be done?”
“No,” she said with a laugh. “All that will get done. And if it doesn’t, who cares?”
I thought about this as I made my way home on that beautiful, crisp Winter afternoon. It was an ideal day to walk through Central Park or go have a latte at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or call Veronica in Portland to see how she was doing. Instead, I was heading home to my apartment. To do things. How I so wished I could have a day where I could do whatever I wanted. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d allowed that to happen. It was only 3pm and already I was dreading the span of time ahead of me.
“My whole life is ‘have to,’ said Steve Martin in ‘Parenthood,’ (not ‘Father of the Bride’, as we’ve now learned.) That’s how I’ve been feeling lately.
And it’s not working.
“TIME MANAGEMENT,” Anna had announced, those weeks ago in our Social Media Marketing Team Meeting. “That’s what you need to work on.”
But how could you manage your time if you literally didn’t feel you had enough time to get it all done? If you had work and a commute and a Venice book and needed to go on Match.com and make low-carb meals and go to the gym and see your friends and watch ‘The Bachelor: Countdown to Juan Pablo’ and clean out your emails and date and promote your blog on Twitter and quit smoking (again) and Swiffer the apartment because your pillow had disintegrated and there were feathers all over the place?
I didn’t have the answer but I did know that if I had created a life where the only way I could get through it was to drink too much, then I was off-track.
When I arrived home, I looked at my daily organizer with my lengthy list of things to do that afternoon and evening. I paused for a moment and then shut it hurriedly, looking away so it didn’t chastise me. I buried it in my purse, below my work badge and Ipod. Then I changed into pj’s, grabbed my Kindle, clicked on V.C. Andrews’ ‘Heaven’ and flopped onto the couch. I told myself I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do.
And then I read.
I made some tea. Then got back on the couch. I pulled a blanket around me and the cat came to wrap herself like a scarf around my neck.
After about 2 hours, I got bored of this and found that I wanted to do something. So I got up, washed some dishes, emailed my Venice book writing partner about some logistical business stuff, made a phone catch-up plan with Veronica, went on Match, went on Tinder, sent out some Tweets.
I didn’t finish everything on my list. But when I got agitated about it, Marlie’s voice would come into my head: “Who cares?” And that made me feel calm. I had done enough. At 9pm, I realized I hadn’t had anything to drink. It seemed too late to start now. And besides, I didn’t feel like it. So I read some more ‘Heaven.’ And at 10:30pm, I picked up the cat and settled her into the bed. As I turned out the light, I thought to myself, “This was not a bad night. Not a bad night at all.” I slept well.
Happy 2014 all.