Rest Day

•August 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I went to bed around the time I would normally get up. I discovered that I’d scuffed my knees. I built a blanket fort out of the dining room table.

It’s official: I’m aging backwards.

It was a laid back Sunday day in which we *mostly* took things easy and relaxed. Some days you just need to rest and recuperate and this was one of those days. I slept in. I did a little tidying. I did a little laundry. I worked for several hours on my book and completed two new chapters- a statement that is as truthful as it is deceptive. I probably spent seventy five percent of that time messaging a friend on Facebook. The time that was spent actually engaged in the act of writing only produced about a page of text, but it was a critical scene that would end the chalet that I’d been slogging through all week and would provide the trigger for the next chapter, which was almost completely finished already, and which just needed a few final adjustments inn order to be coupled onto the main story.

It was not easy work. My mind felt like it was a thousand miles away from the task of reading and writing and every sentence felt like it was written in marshmallow: too soft, too sweet, and full of a lot of air. But no matter: the words are down on the page. The story can now go on.

In the evening, we went to a friend’s house for a dinner of vegan tacos, about which the Curmudgeonly Lion was extremely skeptical, but they were, in fact, delicious as deliciousness prevailed.

So all in all a good, low key day.

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Early

•August 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

“It’s six am, you wanna get up?”

It was, in fact, six am. It was also a Saturday. The Curmudgeonly Lion was nudging me and I reluctantly surfaced into a gray pre dawn.

“Yeah.” I mumbled, but it came out as an airy sigh like yeahuhhhhh. Less like I was awake and more like I was deflating. I had been the one who’d asked him to wake me up early after all. I struggled to open my eyes which were so dry the lids felt like they were glued to the lenses. I managed it on the third or fourth try.

I was dragging myself out of bed early in order to go for a run. I usually prefer to run in the evenings, but I had plans to donate platelets today and I wasn’t sure how it was going to affect me. I figured I could get up early, do my run while it was cool, and still have plenty of time to cool down and do breakfast with the Lion before the needle fell.

This turned out to be a good choice: the sun was just beginning to break through the morning haze and everything was still cool and pleasant. The roads and paths were quiet, and all the crosswalks were set to change on the press of the button instead of waiting for an approaching bus to hit the sensor. It took me about half a mile to get warmed up, but after that it was one of the best runs I’ve had in a while. It was almost worth getting up early for just by itself. We’ll see if I still think that tomorrow morning at six am.

Anyway, the platelet donation was a bust. Again. My blood iron was still too low in spite of a week taking iron supplements and vitamin c. I’ll have to reschedule: maybe third time is the charm. I’m a little bit frustrated: the reading said I was at 12.2. I needed to be at 12.5 to donate. I’m pretty sure I was at 12.2 last week as well, though, which means that even taking a supplement every day has not been enough to, pun not intended, move the needle. I have to wonder what this means for my overall health: my energy has been good and I feel pretty strong and lively so I evidently tolerate having a lower blood iron level pretty well, but would I feel even better/stronger/livelier if my levels were more robust? One way to find out, I guess.

So anyway, I feel like I’ve put in a full day already even though it’s only early afternoon. (Also, I just had an amazing nap) so now onto bigger and better things.

Fast Fridays

•August 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

My mind has not been my own today. I’m not entirely surprised: it is a Friday, which means that I’m fasting and it’s pretty normal for me to be a space cadet if I haven’t eaten in a while, but the effect seemed to be especially pronounced today for reasons unknown.

I’ve been doing this intermittent fasting since April. My routine is now to stop eating after dinner on Thursday nights and then to fast until dinner time on Friday. It took about a month to acclimate to the change- the first few times I did it I was super spacey and the hours seemed to crawl by without the usual distraction of snacks. But now it has become part of the weekly routine that is usually painless and even relaxing since I make an effort to give my self a break on fasting days. “Just take it easy,” I allow my mental voice to say. “You’re running on auxiliary power.”

I’ve even gotten to the point where I find myself relieved to know that a fasting day is coming up. If I’ve had a tough emotional week or I’m struggling with the mental rat-mill spinning out of control it’s nice to know that I’ll have a day to reset the system.

And Friday dinner always tastes amazing.

Also, now that it has been three months I can really see and feel a difference in my body. I’ve lost about eleven pounds (about a pound a week) and at first I could only feel the difference, but now I can see it as well: I’ve shed a noticeable amount of bulk off of my legs and butt, and, regrettably, from out of my bra. If only I could shed the stomach pooch I’d be good to go. I’m also seeing noticeable changes in muscle tone- both in the obvious places like arms and abs, but also in unexpected places like having more solid wrists and a firmer neck.

But my biggest takeaway from all this was how shockingly low maintenance it was to make these lifestyle changes. I don’t have to think about what I eat. Nothing is forbidden. I walk every day but I only break a sweat exercising twice a week when I go running. I’m not holding onto a ton of tension in my guts from trying to keep my stomach sucked in all the time: I do three to seven minutes of planking right before bed, and that’s it. The rest of the time I put it out of my head and don’t think about it..

So I feel great: probably better than I have in years. I think this might just be the new me starting to emerge. I like where it is headed.

Obscured

•August 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The sky is overcast and thunderous, but the clouds are more likely to be full of ashes than rain. The setting sun is round and red through the intermittent gaps.

I’m enjoying the rare break in the oppressive sunshine, even if there’s still no break from the heat.

I recently discovered that the sunscreen I was using was only protecting me from UVB rays, which are the ones that turn your skin red, as compared to the UVA rays that make it age prematurely. I mean, some protection is better than no protection, but I still feel the urgent desire to undo!undo!undo! Several weeks of outdoor activity, and to start slathering myself in zinc oxide from head to toe.

The things I do to cope with sunshine…

At any rate, the gloom has got me feeling like hibernating inside with a good book. Which is convenient because the heat also has me feeling like hibernating in the air conditioning to stay cool. Counterintuitively, it is the book part of that fantasy that I’m finding problematic. Generally speaking, I love books and reading, but lately I’ve found myself struggling to enjoy it. I’ll start a book and then struggle to finish it, or struggle to get into the story, or struggle to connect to the characters, or struggle to accept the books argument. Right now I’m struggling to even make it through a children’s book called “The World of Poo” by Terry Pratchett. This is how far I’ve fallen.

I can only speculate that the parts of my brain usually reserved for the enjoyment of reading have been repurposed for writing instead- like a car factory being used to make tanks or like an old shoe factory being repurposed into hipster artist lofts. I want to believe that the reason that I’m having so much trouble just enjoying the act of reading is because I’m so focused on the underpinnings of the craft that I’m losing sight of the forest for the trees. I keep thinking about writerly voice and scene structure and use of language and pacing instead of just getting immersed in the story.

I can only hope that it is temporary.

My hope is that once this draft is complete I’ll be able to relax my grip on the language centers of my brain and can go back to recreational reading. Until then, though, I’m finding books to be a slog.

Maybe it’s time to try some audio books instead.

•August 8, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The good news is: I’ve at last begun making forward progress on my writing again, but it is leaving me a little bit baffled about what to write here. My mind keeps wandering back to my work-in-progress as it grinds through the structure of the current chapter to try to fill in the blanks. Ironically, but unsurprisingly, when I sit down to actually work on my work-in-progress I find my mind wandering to everywhere else besides the chapter.

So my day has largely been an exercise in attention management. And presently my management faculties have been promoted beyond their competence level.

I wish I could say there was more to it than that, but that’s all I got for today. We’ll try again tomorrow.

WIP

•August 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The words elude me.

The chapter has not gone as planned. I’m reasonably pleased with the way it’s coming together, but I keep struggling with the feeling that I might be getting into a but of a set piece that I neither planned nor expected.

What began as a single chapter has now expanded to two. I originally thought that there would be a third chapter as an interlude between the two halves, but now that I’ve (nearly) completed part one I realize that the interlude chapter is too different tonally from the action to really work. Luckily, it’s not a chapter that is strictly tied to the chronology: I can easily move it to later in the story and it will fit just fine, but then it means that this new set piece: let’s call it The Jealousy Module will now have to take place in back-to-back chapters, and it is developing enough weight and momentum that I’ll probably have to resolve the whole sequence before I can move on with the plot. And that might require a third chapter in the module.

So the chapter has not gone as planned.

And it might be getting out of hand.

I realize that, since this is still only a first draft, I shouldn’t be worrying about big picture things until I get it all down on paper and actually have a big picture to look at. If I’m learning anything from this process it is that forcing myself to write chronologically is very helpful in forcing me to think about cause as effect and the way that long emotional tails from earlier chapters can affect later chapters in significant ways.

So it’s a dilemma that I’m still puzzling out in my spare time.

Deep/Wide

•August 7, 2018 • 4 Comments

So I learned something about myself: I don’t actually hate networking. It turns out that I just hate extravert networking.

Allow me to explain:

In an uncharacteristic sprint of social activity, I managed to attend two events in one week that one might describe, loosely, as “networking opportunities”. It was as if the universe had conspired to provide bookend examples of Introvert vs Extravert philosophies of socializing within a few days of one another.

The first event was the dinner party held at a club near the beach that I described in a previous post: a group of five individuals curated by a host based on the fact that each person Seemed Interesting. We had no other previous connections- we were essentially five strangers sitting together and talking for an evening over food and drinks. Let us call this The Salon.

The second event was an Alumni event held at a club near the beach in which a host of young alumni from different schools and classes and degree levels all gathered to talk for an evening over food and drinks. Anybody within the target age bracket was invited to buy a ticket. The ticket got you a in the door with a nametag and a free drink and everything after that was a free for all. Let’s call this one The Mixer.

I enjoyed The Salon so much I was sorry to have to leave. I went home feeling optimistic and energized: interested and invested in the people I’d just met and spent time with. I was still thinking it over days afterwards.

As much as I loved as enjoyed The Salon is exactly how much I hated The Mixer. I met the same number of people and had the same number of drinks, but I could not get out of there fast enough, failed to make any memorable connections with anybody except Jeff the Security Guy, who was a sweetheart and helped me track down the food, and left feeling completely drained, defeated and like I’d wasted my time. I came home and did a shot of whiskey and sat on the bedroom floor feeling sorry for myself for about twenty minutes before finally pulling myself together.

This was supposed to be fun? This was supposed to be productive? So far as I could tell it was neither: a hundred increasingly drunk people shouting at each other while their eyes roved and rambled around the rest of the crowd for someone better to talk to.

Real question: have you ever made a useful connection at a mixer? Ever? I haven’t. Why do I still go? Because the act of Networking is hammered into us so hard that we feel compelled to smash ourselves uselessly against glass walls because we think it’s the key to the wider world?

I don’t think I’m going to bother with The Mixer anymore. They really are a waste of my time. I think from now on I’d rather focus on Salon style networking- events where the emphasis is on depth instead of breadth, and where it’s possible to actually get to know a person a little bit instead of just shouting facts about yourself in their general direction.

A Mixer is a place you might meet a great contract, but a Salon is a place you might actually make a friend.

 
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