The art of Uni-Tasking.

picture of my room while I lived in DC

I am on my winter break pleasantly being reminded of what life was like before this whole graduate school business. My dry erase board is absent of assignments, due dates, and To-Do lists. All that graces the board is this little Italian phrase: il dolce far niente…quite literally meaning ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’.
And right now, Life is indeed sweet.

I had forgotten how nice it is to sleep-in on weekends. There is no rush to get things done. I’ll lay in bed listening to the metro or occasionally just staring out the window watching the clouds pass by. If this becomes challenging I’ll pick up a book and read till I fall asleep again. The cycle is broken only when the cravings for coffee get too intense to ignore. A short trip to the kitchen, and I’m back in bed, reading, with a cup of coffee in hand.

I am enjoying the sweetness of Uni tasking. For the past three times I’ve done laundry while, well, just-doing-laundry. Usually, I put in a load and walk next door to the gym, where I read a case-study while “fast walking” on the treadmill. I was exceptionally efficient at finishing three tasks within the hour. But, it’s also good to just walk back to the apartment and watch TV or read a magazine while its time for the dryer.

I’m loving the fact that I’m finally reading something that has nothing to do with market segmentation, currency crisis, and Porter’s Five forces. All the pleasure reading that was being pushed to the back burner is now front and center. I’ve finished a really good book already and with the recent trip to the used book store, I now have seven new ones to indulge in.

I’m playing tourist in my own town. I’ve long ignored DC for the likes of Chicago, Germany, Italy, etc. Now that I have time to stroll about, I’ll just hop on the metro and find the closest museum to linger in for as long as I want. Or at least till I get kicked out, like yesterday at the Hirshhorn museum because I didn’t realize they were closing…time flies when you are having fun. DC is so pretty during the holidays, and the museums are finally free of the bevy of tourists that clog everything during the summer months.

Coffee has regained its original purpose (at least to me) of sitting about and people watching.

I have time to cook and bake to my heart’s content. Komal and I baked for three hours last Thursday. Yesterday, some friends and I cooked a kick ass dinner while listening to the sweet music of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. Being at the dinner table with them felt so nice and comforting.

Ok, so many be “the sweetness of doing nothing” really means the sweetness of doing everything that one loves. I’m happy to take the time to step back and enjoy life before it gets too hectic again. Sure I’m “wasting” time, but there is beauty in inefficiency. It’s like Kurt Vonnegut and his ritual of buying one envelope at a time…

Oh, she says well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.”

So while I count my days of freedom until the next semester begins, I’d like to dance around as much as I can.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. She writes about everything from travel, food, books, and family. Her current project includes a series of children's books to teach Hindi. She is a native Tar Heel who has also lived in Washington DC and Chicago.

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