What I wouldn't have done with all this time on my hands. A clean slate, weekdays look like weekends. John's around to share the household duties. Chief among which, short-order cook. Breakfast and lunch are his domain, and it frees up more mental real estate than I'd ever imagined possible.
Back when the kids were little it was a different kind of vacuum, my hourly fantasies were about ways of escape, so racy. The setting: Coffee shop. Prop: Magazine. I would hurl myself into a car the moment help arrived. Vogue, Vanity Fair, InStyle. Food and Wine. The New Yorker. The stack of periodicals was never outdated. My daily/weekly/monthly objective: feed kids, walk them occasionally, stay abreast of the styles. Know what's happening, where people eat, how they dress, new entertaining themes and, of course, recipes, what causes are sponsored by whom, and most rivetingly (to a former marketing executive), what is the "feeling of living" as communicated in our advertising. It was like a master's degree in popular culture. The thesis: How does style drive our society and how does it speak to what is happening in the world.
On a recent TED talk, Isaac Mizrahi discussed creativity and reinvention, his own based upon the principle that one must simply "stay bored". www.ted.com/index.php/talks/isaac_mizrahi_on_fashion_and_creativity.html Mizrahi, even with his silly, "none of this really matters" sense of irony, stages himself as a guru of reinvention. He's come in and out of the popular world in the way I wish women in the workplace could, he rises out of the categories of his career to again create a new life in a new job, and the world applauds him, "yeah, he's back!", for what he's done both in and out of the public eye.
So, style. Here's the link: Magazines, popular culture, the Oscars, the Stars. Color, pattern, texture, color. Fabric, flow, comfort. Living room, closet, kitchen. In a vacuum, we yearn for connection. We want to feel informed, but self-protected. We're desperate to be in tune with the times, but we're forced into this passive mode, waiting for life as we know it to begin again. In the No Job Vacuum it may be tempting to write off popular culture, we have so many deeper things to worry about. Yet as I see it, the style journals are doing their very best to walk the line between showing what's out there, flesh and blood and beautiful, and the coveted invitation to come back in where it feels good, where we can still enjoy the warmth of living on the surface. "Style" Mizrahi says in the TED talk, "makes you feel great because it takes your mind off the fact that you're going to die!" Ironic in his invocation to keep doing what makes you feel good. It couldn't be more important.
I look left at my stack of periodicals, subscriptions I still hold dear and prioritize even with the shrinking domestic budget. My culture-tracking objective is way less ambitious than it used to be. The stack is disheveled, it reflects my sense of the world. Reading about style is not an escape in this vacuum but it is still a lifeline, it's what helps bring the world together when it all seems in pieces. The function of style is crucial in this age of reinvention.