Monday, January 21, 2019

Sweeping the Room with a Glance

Now that I'm back from vacation, I find myself in a unique position.

Technically, I came back back to three assignments that came my way while I was in the Keys and which I automatically said yes to. No pressure, but one of them was due today so I knocked that out and set up interviews for the other two. But a freelancer's got to pitch to live, so I did that, too, scoring a few more assignments due the beginning of February.

All of which is well and good, but what's a relaxed and refreshed woman to do on a frigid day until those interviews begin?

I mean, besides go score an everything bagel from Nate's to get her Richmond groove back?

Despite morning temperatures in the teens with the wind making it feel like 7 degrees, I reunited with Mac and did our river walk, except with about three times as many layers as usual. Needless to say, we were in the minority choosing to be outside on a day like this and from Broad Street to Brown's Island, humans were in short supply.

If there was a bright side to freezing our patooties off, it was that by the time we got back, the temperature had climbed to a whopping 9 degrees, so at least it was warming up nicely.

But apparently not enough for my worrywart Mom, who called to tell me to crank up my heat because whatever I had it set on (64, as I always do during winter), she had just seen on TV that terrible things happen to people if their heat is too low during the vortex and she was quite sure mine was too low.

Because no matter how old you are or how long you've been taking care of yourself, Mom always knows best.

Once the work I could do was finished, I realized I had the time to do the housekeeping that I'd put on hiatus a month ago to meet all the deadlines I needed to in order to skip town for sixteen days.

Even though my apartment is pretty much always neat and organized, I can ignore dust balls and hairballs like Stevie Wonder. After a while, I don't even see the shriveled up leaves and flowers that the houseplants shed on the floor near the sunny front windows.

And those Christmas presents that never got put away? About damn time, don't you think?

So with resolve in my heart and absolutely nothing better to do, I set out to thoroughly clean house. And I have to say, polishing bookshelves, wiping down stereo equipment and dusting artwork and photographs is a solid way to remind myself that I like my simple life here, even if the polar vortex is fracturing and there are ice patterns inside my storm windows.

Granted, the vigorous cardio workout of sweeping and mopping floors to get my blood moving didn't hurt my motivation, nor did having music blaring as accompaniment.

I was so overcome by domesticity that I even - gasp! - baked a lemon poundcake, although that could be attributable to wanting to have the oven on, I can't be sure.

Once even baseboards were clean and picture frames relieved of their dust layers, it finally occurred to me. I could go out in search of culture like I used to do before deadlines overcame my life or the beach made such things superfluous.

News flash: I could go to a movie. My brain was so beach relaxed that I'd forgotten I could do something rather than just be.

Wearing nearly as many layers as I had to walk this morning - cut me some slack, it was feeling like 16 degrees out there and my body had gotten acclimated to lows of 67 - I set out for Movieland to see "If Beale Street Could Talk," the new film from "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins, the one I'd missed at this year's Afrikana Film Fest.

That it was based on James Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name only added to the appeal, especially after having seen the documentary "I Am Not Your Negro" based on Baldwin's unfinished manuscript.

Mesmerizingly beautiful, excruciatingly poignant, exquisitely acted and gut-wrenchingly on point about social justice, the movie was as compelling as "Moonlight" had been and every bit as important a piece of cinema. Scenes unfolded slowly and naturally, which I love, and the jazz-inflected score was a masterpiece.

My only complaint was that everyone else in the theater was part of a couple, none of whom hesitated to talk to their partner throughout the film. Generally, if there's a talker, I don't hesitate to shush them, but you can't shush 20 people.

Even so, the movie was so moving and gorgeously shot that nothing could have ruined it for me. Baldwin was a brilliant writer and Jenkins is a genius filmmaker and the result is a movie that all but casts a spell on the viewer, even when they have to put up with people acting like they're in their own living rooms.

And did I mention that my mine is spotless? Although now that I've remembered that I don't have to spend time in it, I'm not sure it matters.

Silly girl, I should have been catching up on my beach reading.

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