People often ask what a typical week is like for me. And I always smile and shake my head, because nothing is particularly typical here. Nothing is routine and almost nothing is the same week-to-week. Or day-to-day.
I thought about this the other week after two days in particular that so struck me as "classic" examples of how varied my day-to-day life can be.
8:00- Rise and shine. Shower. Breakfast. Bible reading and prayer.
10:00- Hop in a cab with Erin and the kids to go to Selgros, basically like Sam's Club or Costco. This is a bit of an undertaking, because it's in the far opposite corner of the city, and hey, when you're buying 20 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar, it's just... an adventure.
12:00- Eat lunch at a little shop outside Selgros.
1:00- Dump all my purchases on the floor of my kitchen and head back out to go to Carrefour, basically like a Target or Wal-Mart, but way heavier on groceries. I strongly dislike (hate?) this store because it's always crowded, they're always restocking in the middle of the day and have huge palettes everywhere, and it's just... such a draining place. But it's close to my house and cheap. So. I go.
2:30- Dump all my purchases on the now very crowded floor of my kitchen and head back out to the post office. I received a package slip, which means I have a package that I have to go and pick up... far from my house. I wait for the tram and ride it for about 15 minutes. When I get there I am surprised to find that I have not one but TWO packages, and it makes the journey somehow seem more worthwhile. Wait for the tram again and ride it back 15 minutes. With two boxes. At apparently the time when every college student goes home from class.
4:00- Return to my house and unpack all my groceries, try to find someplace to store 20 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar, and all the other staples I've stocked up on. Sit down to check my email for a quick breather.
5:00- Make cookie batter and a marinade for chicken that I will put in the fridge over night and use for a lunch I'm hosting tomorrow.
6:30- Make dinner and enjoy a quiet evening at home with my roommate, watch a movie, read a book.
Did you catch that? A full day, just like *that*. And it's all, "wait a second, where did that day just go?" So you see why I sometimes have trouble explaining what I "do"? Because errands can literally take an entire day. Because "life" here is, if not a full-time job, at least a pretty hefty part-time one.
So moving on to Day 2 (please take note of the times on this one):
8:00- Rise and shine. Breakfast. Mentally think through my day- 10am coffee date with Erin and Hollie, 12:00 lunch and Bible study with Tomi and Lilian, 3:00 Bible study with Luci, 5:30 dinner and "24" watching with the guys. All but the study with Luci will be at my house. Totally manageable right? Ready, set, go.
10:00- Coffee date with Erin and Hollie. Since I've marinated the chicken and have the cookie dough made, I basically only need to bake the cookies during this time and then stick the chicken in the oven.
12:15- Curious at their lateness, I text Tomi to see when they'll arrive. Receive text back saying they forgot to tell me their class was changed and will be over at 1:30, not 11:30. They'll be there shortly thereafter. Right.
12:20- Text Luci and tell her we're going to need to move Bible study back to 4, if that's ok with her. Yes, she's flexible. Phew.
12:30- Receive call from Oge, whose birthday it is today, and who has decided she wants to go play pool. Tonight. But she doesn't know about my dinner/24 plans that are with 3 of the 5 other people she wants to come. She says it's ok, she'll just grab dinner with Tomi at McDonalds and we can meet them after 24. I am definitely not ok with a friend having dinner at McD's on her birthday, and as I hang up I try to figure out how (if?) I can make this all work.
1:45- Tomi and Lilian arrive. We eat lunch. We study some Bible awesomeness. I propose that I watch 24 with the guys first and do dinner after so Oge and Tomi and Lilian can join us (averting McD's absurdity). Then we can all go play pool. Done and done. Thank goodness I bought extra ground beef so I can cook for 7 instead of 4.
2:00- Text Luci again to ask if we can switch... to tomorrow... because my whole plan for the day has disintegrated. In a good way. But unfortunately something's got to give. Tell her I'm thankful for her Romanian super-on-time-ness and flexibility.
3:45- Text the guys to see if they're ok switching up the order for the night. They're guys. So, yea, they're ok with it.
4:00- Whip up the best taco bar you ever saw in your life. Did I mention the guacamole? Oh yes, I found decent avocados (at least Carrefour is good for something) and they were even ON SALE. And homemade Mexican rice- booyah.
6:00- Guys arrive to watch 24.
9:30- Girls arrive for dinner. I teach everyone (all Africans) how to make tacos. We eat. A lot. We sing Happy Birthday to Oge over the cookies. All are happy.
11:30- We leave my house to go play pool. Do you even know the last time I LEFT my house at 11:30pm to go out? Yea, neither do I. Thankfully it's in the mall, a 3-minute walk from my house. And I'm totally wide awake because you can never be tired around a bunch of Africans.
1:30am- I arrive home, somehow manage to brush my teeth and crawl up the ladder-stairs to my attic-loft and crash. Bedtime.
So you see, I don't really have a "9-5" job, and I don't really have a "schedule" as most Americans would think of it. I used to have a problem with this, or should I say problemS. The kind and variety wherein I thought if I could just get myself a schedule everything would be alright. If I could just have a routine, then- yes then- I would have normalcy, continuity, and contentment. What a farce. It was only when I gave up all that and just started living life that I actually had normalcy, continuity, AND contentment to boot. I don't have a JOB, I have a LIFE. I don't have "personal" and "professional," I have perfessional. Or something.
Yes, I have busy days and weeks where I feel like I can barely keep up. Yes I have days that are entirely eaten up by errands that feel like they should take 30 minutes total instead of 3 hours each. Yes I do my laundry and finances and cooking and cleaning throughout the week. Yes I have days and even weeks where I feel like time is crawling by and I'm doing nothing to contribute to anything whatsoever.
And you know what I realized about a year into this whole shindig?
That. is. fine.
All of it. The fixed. The variable. The chaotic. The organized.
It's not east-coast, ivy-league, fast-paced, what's-your-next-career-move, keepin-up-with-the-joneses.
It's life. My life.
And I really, really like it.