No Routine

I love this time of year. No, it’s not because it’s summer. I despise summer. I love this time of year because, for me, life slows down.

I don’t teach at the university in the summer. That means I only have one job to go to. And while that one is routine, with the same phone calls and calculations and processing of cases, only having it as the one daily responsibility is a chance to catch my breath.

Having a break in the routine is freeing. I’ve started three or four new books–all at the same time. I am reworking my syllabus for the fall semester. I just finished helping direct a show at a local theatre. I’m catching up on some long overdue cleaning. I might even have a few days off coming up for a small staycation.

Don’t get me wrong. Routines are helpful. They give us order. They give us control over our circumstances and ourselves. They keep us from having to guess about what to expect each day. I find comfort in that as much as the next person. But having space to try new things can be comforting too.

Okay–maybe not at first. A lack of routine can cause stress and uncertainty.  A lack of routine can lead to boredom–believe me, I’ve felt that this week since the show ended. With no rehearsals and no essays to grade, I didn’t know what to do. Nothing on television or Netflix kept my attention. Every snack in the kitchen called my name, enticing me. I couldn’t get into any of those three new books I started (or the fourth one that I tried when those others failed me). I ended up going to bed early–my go-to when other options fail.

But today is a new day. I’m off from work. My husband has gone on a road trip with his father and I have the house to myself. I picked up my pen to write this piece. I got clothes washed. I got other clothes collected and sorted to be donated. I inventoried the freezer in the basement and found some things I’d forgotten were in there (POPSICLES!). I played with the cats. I practiced some choral music.

And I feel better than I have in months.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis once said, “The only routine with me is no routine at all.” With the rest and rejuvenation I’ve gotten the past few days from having my routine altered, I’m guessing she had the right idea. I plan on breaking my usual routine on a more regular basis from now on.

Marcie Herman Riebe

Marcie is a bilingual caseworker by day, a university adjunct by night, and an aspiring writer at times in between. An import to NEPA, she has been active in the arts for many years from theatre to forensics to music. Her interest in the arts continues as founder of Ink, an area writer's group, a founding member of Voce Angeli (NEPA's only all-female chamber choir), and as a columnist for Thirty-Third Wheel. She loves all things Pittsburgh, particularly the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her Master of Arts in Linguistics. She lives in Scranton with her handsome husband, Pete, and their horde of cats: Napoleon, King Ajax, Sam, and Dean.

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