So I got a bit of proper time with jack, which was incredibly restorative and good. And illusive_shelle and her partner and two of his kids came to visit; illusive_shelle is one of the people I most enjoy talking to, she's both really interesting and a great listener. We're busy, and she's in a category beyond the scope of mere busy, being a vet and a stepmother of three, so talking to her doesn't happen nearly as often as I'd like.
I had to leave a bit early but for a good reason, which was to spend the evening with my OSOs. We had just a really lovely time, a reasonable chance to chat, and the littles being really affectionate while still giving the grown-ups a bit of space for conversation. We played Colt Express, a really lovely little game I should try to review at some point.
Sunday we went on a mass expedition to Duxford, to celebrate Benedict's 17th. So the four of us and partners' three kids and Benedict's father and his partner and fivemack. Lovely weather, and really Duxford is relatively quiet when there's not an airshow going on, or at least, there's an awful lot of museum in a big physical space compared to the number of visitors. ghoti brought a picnic, and jack learned how to install car seats in order to be able to transport small children safely in his car. And Benedict got to ride in a tank and be generally grown-up – he was doing a really impressive job of explaining late 20th century history to his little sister. I think jack found it a bit stressful how faffy large parties are, especially mixed age parties, but basically that was most of my childhood, being dragged more or less reluctantly to museums with a bunch of my parents' friends.
Annoyingly I had to travel back across country for a meeting first thing Monday morning, so missed the birthday dinner. And I was just ridiculously sad sad sad about it; I've been finding it really hard to settle to work, or any kind of preparation for Passover. It's partly hormones, and partly that work is in a stage where I have really a lot of medium-term things I need to get done, making it hard to prioritize, especially when I'm out of term-time routine. And partly, well, I was talking to a Christian friend and she suggested I need to go on a retreat, to have some time away from all the various responsibilities and demands on me, and I said, we don't really do that, we have Shabbat for that purpose.
Only, I'm not really getting to unplug over Shabbat at the moment. Not because I work, I have been pretty strict about not doing or even thinking about actual paid work on Shabbat since I was a teenager. But I don't really rest either, let alone make the day a proper spiritual space. Because I have commitments to both my community in Stoke, and my people in Cambridge, I spend from 8 to midnight Friday evening travelling just about every week. And I don't in principle eschew travelling on Shabbat, but that journey is completely the opposite of peaceful. It's been such a very long time since I was regularly lighting Friday night candles and sitting down with loved ones for a meal. And since I was anything like regularly attending Saturday morning services; given how much it's the norm at the moment I should stop being surprised to find myself sleeping in until about midday on Saturday. And Saturday afternoon I spend doing things that are definitely fun and restorative and good for me, but generally involve socializing of some kind, rather than just chilling at home.
I think being short of a proper Shabbat is part of a larger problem, which is that time with my husband and partners, let alone any other friends, is so scarce with so much geography, that I am inclined to overschedule and not allow myself enough down time. The thing is, I'm an extrovert so on any given occasion I'd rather be socializing than at home on my own reading quietly. But if I choose that all the time, I end up being exhausted.
Pesach: I have basically run out of time to do any serious cleaning of the flat here, and anyway it's complicated because my oven is broken, and my phone broke (probably another subject for another post) at just the wrong time for for getting it fixed in time. I kind of need to go back to Cambridge, most likely tomorrow, so that I can help my parents organize our family seder; things are extremely stressful at home this year and we're going to do a relatively low-key seder, but, well, immediate family is a dozen people, and it's very, very hard to cut corners when it comes to Passover prep. I have to turn round and come straight back to Stoke so I can run the communal seder second night, which is more aggravating travelling on Shabbat, but again I'm balancing obligations to my living, breathing community with those to the Sabbath Queen. My community have a very helpful tradition that I do the liturgy and people who are not me do all the practical stuff, the cleaning before and after the meal and all the cooking. But I do still need to plan that seder during some completely non-existent time between now and Saturday night. And I'm hoping to do a last night seder at the end of the week for my family of choice; it will be a seder where I'm the only Jewish person. I'm really quite excited about it, and ghoti is going to help with the cooking, and I do have the week of Passover to sort it out, but right now, with so much else on my plate and generally a bit low mood, it feels slightly daunting.
What's definitely helping is conversations with my awesome friends. Your thinky comments on my political posts help a lot with making me feel connected. And I've managed to chat to angelofthenorth and hatam_soferet (who has very wise things to say about Passover stress), and rysmiel, and basically my people are all being very good for me.
I have a big backlog of stuff I want to post about, but I'm scrabbling for time, so let's start with just a bit of babbling about what's going on in my life.
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