At work I’ve gone from 3/4 time to full time for the next couple of months, to help fill in for someone on medical leave. Last week was my first 40-hour work week in ages. Let the whining commence!
Nah…I miss my schoolkid schedule, but it’s temporary. I’m cutting back on nearly everything else– no going to Chinuk wawa three times a week for awhile, and I don’t know how many walks with refgoddess I can fit in when I have to be at the office by 8:30. Running remains on the back burner. I think I’ll do best when I make things very simple: work, writing, and basic maintenance of health and household. Monastic contentment, right? And I can use the money, with a Colorado trip coming up and some furnace-and-roof debt still on the books.
But I do feel a rumble of resentment and panic when my time starts to resemble a sliding-tile puzzle, where I’m moving blocks around but constantly running into the walls of work and sleep. When I consider getting up a half-hour earlier to do something, and it won’t work because it will disrupt things back into the previous evening. Life shouldn’t be like that.
At least I’ve been better than usual this week about taking advantage of short writing opportunities. Ten minutes suddenly seems worthwhile, I’m writing on the bus a little because I might not get another chance all day, and an hour feels like luxury instead of obligation. I hope I’ll have a little to show for it after eight weeks, as I very very slowly conjure up this novel.
Today Sang and I got out to Powell Butte for a little hike– in fact we were all done and back at the house, with a grocery trip thrown in, by eleven o’clock! The wind was cold, so we hastened to the forested far side of the hill. Lots of yellow violets blooming, and the nettles are knee-high and looking pretty darn vigorous already. I was happy to hear a raven, after a winter of staying in town hearing crows.
Yesterday I got around to making soda bread, after buying the buttermilk just before St. Patrick’s Day. Warm with butter: so good.
Next book to read: Lisa Lutz’ Trail of the Spellmans, fifth in a series that makes me laugh out loud. (I’m currently finishing up Kage Baker’s The Children of the Company: satisfying to fill in some knowledge-gaps, but Mendoza is the heart of the series for me and she doesn’t appear in this one.) As for TV, Sang and I are re-watching the first season of Sarah Connor Chronicles, which feels much richer and more suspenseful than the first time around. (So many shows I’m iffy about the first season. Will they all seem better on re-watch?)
I have noticed something disturbing about my work habits or lack thereof. When I start feeling overwhelmed or feel like I have a lot going on, I give up on writing for the rest of the week. Instead of figuring out when the next actual available time to work will be, I look ahead to the whole week at once, shrink in horror, and spend any down time I do get rebelling and denying as hard as I can. And projecting to “next week,” when this will all be over and things will be different.
Something else, not related, that I have noticed lately: it is really, really easy to talk about television! Even KFC, a writing group full of book people, ended up talking about television a lot at our last meeting. And when I cast around for a conversation topic, TV usually works. Have I mentioned that Sanguinity and I are watching Twin Peaks for the first time?
It’s finally a sunny week here in Portland. On my bus ride this morning, the sky was blue with small perfect clouds in the distance. It was so storybook perfect that for a second I wondered if I might be dreaming, or part of a movie or simulation without realizing it. I am prone to this kind of paranoia on the bus, suddenly wondering if everyone but me is psychic and can hear my thoughts and so on.
Fourgates pointed me to a guy who’s testing the “10,000 hours” concept on golf! He’s at the one-year mark. I envy his metrics and coaching team.
How many inches of ramen in a packet? Cockeyed.com measured. I’m actually liking a lot of things on that website, including the costumes and how he documents failures as well as successes.
This morning I kept Sanguinity company on the early bus to downtown. She’s going to Seattle on Amtrak today. After we parted I walked to campus, and decided to try writing “5/24/15”: think about a five-minute period within the last 24 hours and take 15 minutes to write it down. Even if you end up ranging beyond the five minutes, there’s freedom from having to catch everyone up from the last time you wrote, or write only about important things.
(I can’t remember for sure where 5/24/15 comes from, but it may be Heather Sellers’ Page After Page. Which, now that I look up the link and read excerpts, has excellent advice about love, writing, and time.)
Anyway, here’s what I got.
As Thanksgiving weekend unspooled, I started thinking more and more frequently, “I have nothing on the calendar for Sunday. I can have all day just to write and putter!” It was like having money in the bank.
Then it was Sunday morning and I was on the couch with the coffee and the internet, and an email came in from Refgoddess wanting to borrow a Messiah score, and did Sanguinity and I want to take a walk with her and her dog when we made the hand-off?
Why, yes, and pretty soon we were chez Refgoddess while D wandered around getting ready for church, going to put a belt on only to find he was already wearing one. And then the rest of us were out the gate with Carbon and realizing we didn’t have to trace the same route we take on our commuting walks! We made a rambly loop around the neighborhood, and just as we were solving (retrospectively) the Thanksgiving Napkin Etiquette Disaster, Sang’s phone rang and it was Bookherd calling her back to arrange meeting up at a movie, and Sang asked me if she should bring Bookherd home for a visit afterward so I could see her too, and
Reader, I panicked. Standing in Refgoddess’ driveway where she has made a labyrinth in gravel. Days do not stay empty! A piece is waiting to be written and it’s due at the IPRC class on the 6th and then there is laundry. Sunday night blues started on Saturday night, this week.
There was still plenty of time, not that I used it well when I was on my own. (I resent using it well! I just want it to be there!) Bookherd came over for leftovers while I finished dealing with the turkey stock and carcass that Sang and Fourgates had got going Thanksgiving night. When the dog gave me his Meaningful Look, I glanced at the clock to see if it was eight o’clock (his suppertime) yet, and it was only six! I was so happy. You wish, little boy, I told the dog.
My relationship with time is really kind of fucked up. (I don’t want a relationship! I just want it to be there!) It was still a pretty good day.