Uh oh. Someone's exploring the meaning of life.

I spent this weekend on a mission to get the house back in working order. Because you can't sit and chill when there are packing peanuts all up under the end tables, or when you've got to put the boxes of new cutlery on the floor in order to get a good view of the television set. I worked until I felt that the level of organization was sufficient, and believe me, my standards were high. I rubbed stains out of the carpet and washed the dogs and put new collars that smell new on the dogs. It was serious business. I worked so seriously that last night, for the first time in what seems an eternity, I was able to make dinner (clean kitchen floor nothing sticking to my bare feet) and relax reading a magazine (one of 5 or so, not one of hundreds, piling up for months...and months on the coffee table...), drink a glass of wine on the couch (old and without legs because we had to saw them off to get it in the house but we bought a new one yesterday to be delivered next week!) surrounded by a space where, you know, I could get stuff done. My worries regarding everything from finishing thank you notes to the generalized "doing more with my life" were so hard to really act on when I couldn't even get in the front door without stubbing my toe or hitting my head - multiple times. Then when I arrived at work this morning, at a desk I'd cleaned off before leaving Friday, I finished my stories. That's right. I wrote all my stories. I didn't let myself eat lunch or look at emails til I'd finished. I started to think about how awesome it would be to get home later tonight after the Pittsboro Planning Board meeting and have done so much today because I'd finished my work so early. And I had a whole afternoon free! I could...I could...Well, for one thing, I could check Friendster, which has once again become an evil and enticing distraction for me after months of ignoring it. But after that bout of indulgence I realized I was out. I was out of frantic measures in which to procrastinate and so I ran some errands and opened up "Personal Finance for Dummies," which I toted along with me today. I ate my lunch and read. Can I tell you how many times I've said I'll eat my lunch while reading a helpful and enlightening book? I can. 873,383 times.

This all followed jogging with the dog this morning and eating a healthy breakfast. Also having the time to enjoy a full cup of coffee and therefore forgoing the usual bringing the coffee cup in the car with me, where it gets chipped, and then having J ask, "Jeez. Why do our coffee mugs all get chipped?" and my responding, "Huh."

But I suddenly felt a rush of panic as I wondered if reading a financial strategies book, which I realize isn't the pinnacle of responsibility but I honestly do think will be helpful, was the best way to spend my precious time - time made even more precious by the fact that due to my rash and obsessive actions this weekend - I now feel...caught up.

I feel caught up.

I've still got a hell of a lot of bills to put in the mail. I've still got the thank you notes and sure, there will be some dishes to do later on, but I've achieved that always-elusive togetherness that I've scolded myself for not having in the past. Watching a movie and eating popcorn when the kitchen's all messy because I'm so, so tired, or driving back and forth to DC every single weekend to plan a wedding and never getting a chance to catch up. I don't feel like that today - and I didn't know what to do.

I started wondering how to make each day worth it on the grand scale. How much do I need to do in order to say I'm working hard to achieve my personal goals? I realize it's different for every person, so where do I fall? It really started to get to me.

Then, for no reason other than I was up for another distraction, I pulled up the pictures my friend Sarah had sent us all after the trip to Vegas for my bachelorette party. And I started flipping through the album on my computer and remembering the adventures - from champagne in the limo to handstands in the pool at the Mirage to the cop in the hotel room. The cop. Who arrived because of the noise violation. For which we needed to be frisked. And then, you know, he got hot, and seemed more comfortable in his thong...

It was very enlightening. Not all the debauchery, heavens no, but the pictures of the girls I loved. And I mean, I couldn't fit all the people I love in Vegas, not on that one weekend anyway, but you know, I got to thinking.

The other night at a party my friend Eric and I were talking about the wedding, people he'd met, and I told him how great my high school friends were. "We write emails to one another every day," I said. "Eight of us."

And he said, "No way."

And I said, "Yeah, we do."

And he said, "That's awesome."

True, it is. I thought about that conversation after going through this misery of wondering how to best spend my time and stumbling upon some pictures from a few months ago for a reason, I think. And that reason is that I needed to remember that things like that weekend are important, too. They're just as if not more important as making a living and furthering one's career and managing your finances. In fact, most of us do those other things in order to feel good about ourselves, and to be able to let loose with nine friends in Vegas.

Ok. Maybe not just to be able to do that, but you get what I'm saying. My family and all the friends I've even known - and I mean since childhood and also the ones I've met in the past couple of years or only recently - give me a reason never to feel the way I was feeling just a little while ago, at least if I can stop and remember that the experiences I've had with those people - like Vegas, getting married, nights talking at the James Joyce pub, giving and receiving Christmas presents, going to concerts, talking over coffee, celebrating new babies, hatching hot new business plans and on and on - those experiences drive me to do the things that matter. Like writing. Not getting the house all settled. That doesn't quite do it. Although I can't downplay the sweet joy of having a clean path to the refrigerator.

Of course Justin is a huge part of all this. I swear I could die happy right now just knowing the people I've known and having the chance to be with someone who - and I mean it - I can't imagine living without now that I've met him. And I don't mean because I'm lost without a partner, or that I can't live life on my own. I mean that everything is just so much better because I'm with him. Better than I thought it could ever be.

I've sort of lost my original line of thinking here, but I hope the point is still loud and clear. It's a beautiful day here in North Carolina. Josephine brought me some homemade baked goods she'd purchased at a church fundraiser this weekend a little while ago, and a dog is sleeping contentedly at my feet. So I really had no reason to feel worried in the first place. But when I did, when I wondered what to do next, and had no prospects, I realized I was being a little hard on myself. And I realized that through thinking about all the people who mean so much to me, because there's just no way - no way! - my life couldn't be good with them in it. It's so good. I'm so lucky.