Guilt-free zone

May 3, 2014

girl,painting,sleeping,book,flower,reading-d98de33061b00d2c076dbb929cb2dceb_hIt’s a Saturday. My To-Do list waits expectantly on my desk, pen nearby and ready to cross out my accomplishments.  But really, I feel like doing nothing. Nothing at all.  I could do nothing more often, if not for the guilt. We’re supposed to DO something, right? Be PRODUCTIVE.  Get our chores done.

cocktails on patio

Vodka-lime-tonic + excellent memoir = guilt-free Saturday in the sun.

Instead, I poured a slug of vodka into a large tumbler of ice, squeezed an entire lime over it and added tonic. Yes, the key to a delicious vodka tonic is plenty of lime. A quick stir and off to the sunny patio with a book I was halfway through. A pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove was my one attempt at productivity for the day.

Ri patio cocktail

Here’s one guy who doesn’t feel guilty.

Untroubled by guilt, my faithful (and naughty) companion napped in his favorite spot: by my side. When I’m on the patio, he insists on having a chair of his own and we usually position it so there’s both sun and shade so he’s always got a comfortable option. I was untroubled by guilt this day, as well. The blue sky and occasional cool breezes made for an idyllic reading room.

Ri lk up patio chair

“What me? Spoiled?”

  So I might as well talk about the book, which as you can see is called Off the Road and is by Carolyn Cassady, who was married to (and had three children with) the always restless Neal Cassady, a big figure in the Beat world and good friend to Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.   In fact, Neal was immortalized in Kerouac’s On the Road–he was the inspiration for the character of Dean Moriarty and in fact was Kerouac’s road companion for years.

Although I’ve read so much about the Beats, I didn’t know about this 1991 memoir and only ran across it accidentally a few months ago.  I was certain it would fill in my picture of these famous Beat figures and it didn’t disappoint.  I had no idea that Carolyn and Kerouac had an ongoing love affair they couldn’t indulge in very often because she was married to Neal.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Jack might’ve gone a different way if he and Carolyn could have been together, or if it was just a fantasy that couldn’t withstand fulfillment.

Her unembellished descriptions of her life with Neal make clear just how self-indulgent and self-centered The Beats were, something I’d never considered.  She manages to tell us so much about these Beat icons as humans, rather than icons: as men, as fathers, as husbands.  The book also reminds us of how sexist the times (and the Beats) were.

A Bennington grad who was smart and artistic in her own right, her weakness for charming rogue Neal Cassady is a cautionary tale for women. Reading with eyes informed by the way life is today, I found myself wanting to grab the author and shake her–she stuck with Neal far longer than most of us would have.  I was riveted to her tale, which she told very well. Carolyn died in September at the age of 90, leaving us a real gift: the missing pieces in our view of these men.

And for me? A lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  And the cocktail was good, as well.

31 comments on “Guilt-free zone
  1. Pat says:

    Sounds like a divine day. Life doesn’t get any better than a great cocktail & a good read. I am looking forward to checking out Off the Road especially after being shaped by On the Road growing up.

  2. Jay Lickus says:

    Good for you Carol, Good for you…….

  3. Oh, wait. We’re supposed to feel GUILTY about unproductive/lazy Saturdays? Hmm. I have a lot of back-guilt to catch up on, then. 😉

  4. Linda Roy says:

    This is exactly how I’d like to spend today. And after I vacuum, clean the window screens, and give the pugs a bath, that’s what I’m doing! 😉 Your little companion is adorable. I’m going to bring the pugs out with me.

    Thank you for this recommendation. I am a fan of Kerouac and the beats and I love a good memoir. I’m going to really enjoy this.

    Happy Saturday and cheers!

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Linda. I just cooked a big breakfast for us and made a shopping list. We’ll walk the dog, do shopping and then? the patio beckons and so does a really good book on India I started.

  5. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    I envy you. I have another two months to get to that guilt free summer reading day. The gardens beckon ( or rather, scream) for attention until the. You Calaifornians have all the luck….

  6. Doing “nothing,” IMHO, is an art. Love that you opted for the libation and a good read, sounds to me like time well lived!

  7. Val Newman says:

    I have a lot of guilt about not being productive. I have to give myself permission. It’ll be easier after reading your post. Thanks for the book recommendation, by the way. I read On The Road back in college. I’d love to read Off The Road.

    • admin says:

      Definitely give yourself permission. All work and no play? Not good! Let me know what you think of the book if you read it.

  8. Mary Buchan says:

    This is exactly what I want to do after I organize my office. I’m going to set my timer and go at it diligently for 2 hours then take a walk, take a shower, go out with my girl friends, have a glass of wine, come home and watch a movie.

  9. Lana says:

    Ahhh…my favorite kind of day. Will have to add that book to my reading list! Have a great weekend.

  10. Haralee says:

    It was really another era. Isn’t it funny how enlightenment can only go so far with men of that time?
    My primary care clinician actually told me to be more cat like. She knows I have cats. Sudden spurts of play and exercise and carefree rest. Your puppy has it down. We can learn from our pets.

  11. Good for you Carol. So many people don’t know how to relax and enjoy the quiet and peace of a lovely afternoon. (sort of like meditation 🙂 ) Hope today is EXACTLY that kind of Saturday1

  12. Barb Best says:

    Idyllic! Love the purple chair, the fluffy dog… Can smell the limes and feel the cool breeze.

  13. Karen says:

    I love your idea of relaxing. And I’ve asked myself the same question about the Beats: what happened to their families? I must have a look for that book!

  14. Days like this are the best! And the book sound good too.

  15. I love “me” days. Spoil yourself. xo

  16. I loved how you described the seductiveness of a day that begs to be enjoyed. I used to spend hours reading good books and seem to have missed that lately. Thanks for the reminder of how it can rejuvenate you. Must…do…more….often.

  17. We worked around the yard all day Saturday so I’m taking my day today! It’s been a beautiful weekend here and I’m going to enjoy it and nothing else!

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