“Fun” is not an F word

One of the funniest essays I have read comes from Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate. In it she describes a list of F words central to her Chinese immigrant family, and among them is the word “fun.” It’s funny to me because she’d might as well be describing my own life.

A combination of personality, culture and circumstances led my mother to raise me into believing that FUN is an evil temptation, a privilege to be enjoyed only after all dues have been paid, and then only in moderate doses. It’s the human equivalent to ice cream or supermarket cupcakes with blue frosting. Take a bite but only after you have eaten all your vegetables, meat, fish, grain and dairy and done your jumping jacks.

As a sheltered teenager my main indulgences were Seventeen magazine, General Hospital and Duran Duran (anything). Boys and kissing (or more) came in the form of visions and took place just inside my head. But I wasn’t allowed to enjoy these things until after all the homework was done and after my room and/or the house was cleaned. On weeknights it was just work. On weekends by the time all the “important” things were done the sun had already set, and my sheltered life precluded any noctural adventures unless they took place inside a television set. I remember getting caught with my Seventeen magazine inside my biology textbook on a Saturday afternoon and listening quietly to Dr. Ruth on the radio past 9 p.m. on Sundays (what I would do with all that information I learned I had no idea). I just consider myself lucky that my boyfriends were all invisible.

I don’t know if there is any connection, but as an adult I then spent nearly a decade in what has to be one of the most un-fun societies in the world (Japan). The Japanese bring workaholic to a completely new level. Stay-at-home mothers hand make their children’s book bags and smocks and make animal- and flower-shaped food for their children’s lunches. Businessmen stay in the office until the last train, usually around midnight.

So where does that leave me, on my first ever staycation? I’m going on Day 11 and I am having alot of trouble having fun. Call it poor planning, or the wrong attitude, but I feel I’ve wasted nearly my whole staycation. I’ve checked my work email (and done work) at least 4 or 5 times. I’m doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom. I’m standing in line at the bank and the grocery store. I’m fighting with customer service reps about an erroneous charge on my credit card bill. I’m sitting in traffic doing drop off and pick up at Fred’s camp. Doesn’t sound too different from a regular day in the life of me during the slow part of my work season.

But I did manage to do a few things this past week-and-a-half that I haven’t made a consistent habit of doing:

  • Used the dishwasher (heavenly!)
  • Got a massage
  • Went to the movies

In fact, yesterday – with three days left in my staycation – is when I decided to put together a list of my top grown-up indulgences, and they include (in no particular order):

  • nice smelling bath and relaxation products
  • good tea
  • chocolate and wine
  • movies
  • books

I’m going to fill our home with these things, and up until my shopping trip yesterday I already had half this list. So with two hours to spare before picking Fred up, I drove to our nearest shopping mall and did a mini-shopping spree at Bath and Body Works. With their special promotions and coupons I was able to stock up enough to start a mini at-home spa on less than $40, and I stocked up on great teas and chocolates at the nearby gourmet store’s summer inventory sale. We’ve been bathing on Lever soap bars since 2008, because you can get these packs of 16 at Costco for under $8. But there comes a time when you need to splurge on $12 fruity shower creme since nothing is more expensive than insanity. Just ask my husband. (He is telling me, “Go! Go shop! Please!”)

So I say, what the fun – I’m going to do it!

What do you do for fun? What are your indulgences?

18 thoughts on ““Fun” is not an F word

  1. What is it about this post that made me smile through tears? Is it me recognizing myself in it? Or is it the beauty of watching you shed your old skin and grow into your new authentic one?

    Whatever it is, it makes me smile with love and happiness for you.

    You are becoming a happy woman.

    • Aw, thanks Alexandra! I am trying…trying to be happy and simply more guilt-free! You see yourself in this too, you say?

  2. Love the new blog look! Good for you stocking up on some fun spa type supplies and as for the chocolate and wine, add ice cream (preferably Ben and Jerry’s) to the mix and I am right there with you.

    My number one fun activity is hiking. Not that I ever really get to do that these days but yet it remains my favorite thing. After that would be a spa trip or massage, maybe a pedicure, browsing a good book store, a starbucks trip with a good book and some peace and quiet, or a really nice dinner out with my husband.

    • Yes, I love, love all the things that you listed after hiking. I think we have alot in common! I have to say that I don’t mind walking/hiking but am such a couch potato that I decided to put exercise on my list of non-indulgences….not a good thing!

  3. I love the new look to go with the newing you (ing to represent a work in progress – at least until you exhaust your boring soap supply)! You are center stage in the photo! At last, a salute to Ony You, the lead role in making your family tick! You’re beautiful, and I loved reading and relating to your thoughts and experience. I don’t think I would be able to let the housework or domestic business go either…but I don’t know if that’s all bad, or a failure at a “stacation.” If you were on a vacation, you would still be in line at a money changer, or in a post office getting stamps for post cards, and spending a morning or 2 with a map and engrossed in logistic planning or packing…24 hours of glamour would be a challenge. Besides, it only takes 90 minutes to get through a Seventeen Magazine, during the commercial breaks of General Hospital or The Love Boat!

    I would say that wine, good coffee, and fresh fruit are indulgences and expenses for me. However, I don’t go a day without them, so is that a splurge? Do we classify daily habits that we like as an indulgence? Or do we reserve it for special occasions? I don’t even know the rules, which means that I probably don’t “treat myself” enough!

    I enjoy the scented lotions and bath products, but I haven’t had a bath without an (offspring) partner in 5 years…I guess that could be leading to what has made wine and coffee become DAILY! Even if it’s not “alone” or relaxing per se, I do count a hot spring bath / Japanese Inn meal as a luxury. Wearing the cotton kimono and being treated like royalty, not reality. That is something to try to mimic in a day to day!

    I’m glad you are making the best of it, and reflecting on it during it rather than looking back on should have or would haves. You are one of my biggest splurges too. I’ve never “wasted” a second of time on an email or blog with you! Thanks and welcome back!!


    • Thanks for all this, Kathryn – wow! The “newing” me – I like that, and it reminds me to not stop the -ing of the process. Funny how symbolic the masthead and FB photos can be, eh? I remember how it was a huge step in my identity the first time I could take and post a pic of me alone, without hubby and without child.

      Good for you for having the “indulgences” or splurges on a daily basis! That is what it means to take care of yourself – I really believe it shouldn’t be relegated to special occasions…

      The Japanese onsen – you are lucky you have that! Perfect example.

      And you brought tears to my eyes with your closing…thank you. I had left friends out from the #1 spot on my indulgences list…

  4. Love the new look Cecilia! So pretty and inviting. Don’t mind if I stay awhile.. 😉

    I’m glad you’re finally finding time to pamper yourself and enjoying the last few days of your staycation. I did that once with my Little Miss and she ran be ragged – LOL. No more of that for me, thanks…He he.

    I love the body washes from Bath & Body, Country Apple being one of my all-time favorite bath scents. It’s so rejuvenating.

    My indulgences? Very boring stuff really. Occasional shopping trips for myself rather than for the kid, spending a long time preparing a very involved meal in the kitchen (and not having to clean up – which is pretty often since we have a “I cook, you clean” policy at home), night outs with my own friends, a pedicure and napping on my backporch bench (a rare occasion indeed).

    • Thanks Justine – please kick off your shoes and stay as long as you like! 😉

      Oh, you need to do a staycation all by yourself! Someday – when your Little Miss is older you can do that.

      I love your list. I ditto the shopping and friends and pedicure and napping. I made a few attempts at an “involved” meal last week and ended up sorely frustrated…I am not a very good cook and messed up two recipes in a row…oh well – live and learn…

  5. Didn’t recognize your new page. NICE. It sounds like you have started to put into motion the ART of finding peace within your crazy life. Staycation might not have been fun but it seems that you will lead you to happiness in your noncation times.

    • Very good point – I did try to make an “investment” so that I can find ways of taking care of myself when my workload gets busier!

  6. Wonderful new look! Sometimes it is difficult to give ourselves permission to have fun and put ourselves first. I was just talking about this topic with my husband yesterday (he has no problem in this area). Why are we (you & I, and maybe women in general) so hesitant to give ourselves whatever we want/need? I am SO happy that you are taking steps to remedy the situation!

    My indulgences are expensive shampoo, shopping for myself, coke slurpees, and white tea from Whole Foods.

    • I agree – maybe it’s us women who have a harder time being okay about pampering ourselves. I think it is so much worse when you become a mother – I have always felt it was selfish to think of myself. We probably model ourselves after our mothers…good future blog topic! I will probably write about this next 🙂

      I just bought some white tea for the first time!

  7. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the new blog look!! 🙂
    Sounds like you’ve at least been quite productive during your staycation…which is more than I can say for myself this summer! And I must admit, I still have yet to use our dishwasher – and we’ve been at this house for 8 years now! (to be honest, it’s quite old and came with the house, so I’m afraid that if I use it, that water will leak all over the kitchen!) So I’m glad to hear that your experience using your dishwasher was a good one 🙂
    Indulgences…hmmm, let’s see – you know I’ve always loved Bath & Body Works products!! Dark chocolate – yummy. 🙂 Time with friends (rarely happens these days though…). Time to scrapbook and stamp. (I have SO many supplies, but not enough time…)A romantic getaway with hubby (once in a blue moon). And oh, my most recently discovered indulgence – facials! Love them! (have only had 2 in my life, but well worth the $$!) Oh, the list goes on and on…unfortunately, these indulgences are far and few between, but I can always dream, can’t I? 🙂
    Enjoy your “at-home spa”…you truly do deserve it!

    • Thanks Christine!

      I am so glad that you have discovered facials! I also have only ever had one, before our wedding, and now you’ve given me a new idea 🙂 I love your list. The romantic getaway is a definite indulgence. I also hope you can find time to do them more – maybe when K. gets a little older? And here’s an idea – maybe someday you and I can go get facials together 🙂

  8. Cecilia,

    I came back with a PS. I love how your blogs are so thought-provoking that they stay with me for a few days, then they pop in and out of mind when the situation applies! It happened this morning, I was on a walk and wondered why we feel so guilty about “treating” ourselves (in quote because it’s really not a treat if it’s burdened with questioning our actions).

    How about a step in a different direction? You had your first staca – but what about being “jogging buddies” (not really, but encouraging each other and trying together) to have a One Week Guilt Free. (OWGF) It can be any ho hum time – not a vacation period, just a start and end where we are conscience of dropping second guessing and resisting temptation! What do you think? Not quite a 12 step plan, but a start to try and make the next staca a bigger (with even more spa supplies!) success.

    Who’s with me? LOL. BTW, I loved the Mrs. Mayhem “Coke Slurpee” add-on. I had to read it twice. Makes me miss the Red White and Blue silly – side!

  9. I used to spend my summer pining for Frisco and wishing I was as pretty as Felicia. Oh, General Hospital, how I have loved you! As for fun … Aren’t finger painting and freeze tag fun?? Oh, wait, that’s fun for kids. I need to rethink this whole fun thing and perhaps schedule a massage. =>

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