So, I have an obsession with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books.
They’re not the greatest books ever; the second and third desperately needed editing. The characters are interesting, but pretty self-absorbed and certainly alien to everything I am and do. So why the obsession? Okay, the endless stream of sandwiches and coffee may be part of it. You caught me.
I think there’s something else, though. When I envy Michael Blomkvist, it’s not his fame or his career or his status as a player, it’s the simplicity of his life. I envy his one room apartment in downtown Stockholm and his one room cabin on the shore. His lack of a car. His European-style fund of vacation days. His prison sentence.
Yep, I said that. I caught a glimpse of a crime show on tv today. A middle-aged, motherly looking woman sat there in a prison interview room, wearing a white t-shirt and jumpsuit. All I could think of was how comfy she looked. Then I started fantasizing about living in a clean, small room with no piles of stuff everywhere. I dreamed of having three meals a day served to me, however crappy the food might be. I positively yearned to have all my decisions taken away—wear this, eat now, shower now, with no thought required.
Add to that the descriptions of Michael Blomkvist’s Swedish prison—basically a “bad hotel room” with a locking cabinet for his laptop, time to work out, and low-stakes poker with the inmates—wow.
So that brings me back to this retro-revolutionary idea I have. Let’s bring back sanitariums.
Whoa! Hold your horses! Do not panic. Hear me out.
I know that the Victorian approach toward treating mental health and women and mental health for women led to generations of general effed-up-ness. I’m not saying let’s go back to hysterectomies and laudanum, for crying out loud. I don’t want people politely hiding pregnancies or dying of TB in these places. I’m calling for rest.
Okay, maybe not sanitariums.
I guess I we have spas these days, although that seems so ridiculously out of my reach. I’d really like longer than I could ever afford in a spa—like six weeks. That’s the number that keeps popping into my head. And so, when I think how I could never afford six weeks in a spa, my mind starts looking for things I might be able to afford—like six weeks in prison. And then I shake myself. Seriously, Rosanne? What’s wrong with you?
Maybe it isn’t me. Maybe it has more to do with this American “let’s work ourselves to death” pact. Maybe we need paid parental leave. Maybe we need to realize that 99% of our kids will never be famous and stop shuttling them to 17,000 activities a week. Maybe we should just let them be happy.
Maybe we need to accept that what’s truly healthy is having time in our day to make and linger over a nice meal, possibly with a glass of wine. And take a walk through the neighborhood after. Maybe we need to embrace vacation time as the savior of lives and health and productivity that it is.
Maybe we need to stop trying to beat each other to the finish line—which, in life, is death—and live in peace.