On the tenth day out…

Tracking preventatives
Grotesque underlying emails
Their rough surface makes entrance and exit easier

— the latest #spamcommentary.

I finished NaNoWriMo on November 20th. Unlike previous sorties, it wasn’t a strain: more like receiving a daily flu shot than suffering from a post-apocalyptic plague, pun fully intended.

[NaNoWriMo 2019 Winner]

I will give credit where credit is due to 4TheWords.  I signed up for it in 2016, and never activated my membership, for ReasonsIDon’tEvenRemember.  This time around through NaNoWriMo, I decided to give the app a legitimate try just to see if slaying monsters with words could help me think of creative writing as something I want to do as opposed to Yet One More Thing I Have To Get To And Ideally Through Before I Get Whatever Sleep I Can Manage.  I did enjoy Habitica in my early days using it (before it became Just Another Grind for me), and I figured that I might get the same sort of boost from 4TheWords.  It was a sound assumption:  the app did help, in a ticking timer sort of way that was more fun to keep pace with than any of the actual ticking timers that I use daily.

I didn’t get anywhere close to a first draft on the literary science fiction thing I was poking at, but I wrote enough of a skeleton to realize what critical body parts the novel is missing:  mainly, a compelling reason for the protagonist not to spend his next Wednesday afternoon trying to get run over by a self-driving bus.  Correction, a compelling reason to keep his author from wanting him to spend his next Wednesday afternoon trying to get run over by a self-driving bus.

Actually, I’m not sure that would be a terrible opening scene.  A reader could have so many questions, like …  why is this guy out running around in traffic trying to get run over?  Why is he so frustrated that it isn’t working?  How are the passengers reacting to all this?  Are they even noticing, or are they lost in their personal entertainment/communication/portable computing devices?  The downside to the scene would be that I’d have to come up with a character motivation more uhm, something than “I am doing this because my author has it out for me”.

Speaking of such things, work is still trying to eat my life, despite my occasional best efforts to coat myself in hot pepper sauce, metaphorically speaking. During my more awake moments I have been questioning if I am just wired to take on projects and roles that will keep me insanely busy because I have some pathological need to have someone else set my priorities, or at least give me a reasonably lucrative excuse to get out of doing laundry or deciding what I want to be when I grow up.

Not that work is stopping me from accomplishing stuff outside of work.  Ref: NaNoWriMo, mostly keeping up with the Duolingo French practice, parenting, unpacking, studying, decorating, and dealing with approximately a hundred different contractors while we were prepping the old house for sale.

And it is now freaking sold, so we can celebrate by, uh, buying a lawn tractor.  Also, furniture.  Curtains.  A composter.  Yay!

Twenty-Nine Days’ Sort

Clearly I need to do NaNoWriMo this year and get this sorted. Maybe whatever dogs we wind up getting will agree.

– Me, just last month.

We do not have any dogs yet, though we have met several in the past month, as we’ve been settling in here while trying to untangle ourselves from the other house.   If all things go well, we’ll be out before the end of this month. Considering that we spent three hours today at the old house trying to reconnect a dryer vent that had mysteriously come undone between our move and the time the buyer had it inspected … yeah, it’s been like that.

Fortunately, that should all be squared away tomorrow.  One positive outcome of this move is that we’ve begun to be more realistic about what we can accomplish ourselves in the time we have available.  We fought with the dryer vent for three hours.  We swore at it.  We lost blood to it.  We gave up and called in a professional.

Speaking of sorting things, yes, I did sign up for NaNoWriMo this year.  Thanks to work and school and all of the other things I do in and around work and school (e.g. parenting, laundry, gardening, sleep), I won’t have a lot of time for it, but  I think I can do some damage within those chunks of time, as long as I manage to keep them out of the same daily soup bowl as everything else.

Will I fight with this for thirty — er twenty-nine days?  Will I swear at it?  Will I lose blood to it, and eventually give up?

Maybe.    Or maybe not.

Let’s find out, shall we?

I’m tackling a completely new project, rather than trying to make sense out of any of my old ones.  I can’t make up my mind whether it is science fiction, or dog help us all, literary fiction, so I’ll just write until it sorts itself out.

Place and Perspective

Along the tumbleweed way
I met someone like me.
He drives, sometimes.
Other times, I do.
For now, our son sits in the back,
Eats raspberries,
And sings along with the radio. 

 Next year, we may all be from here,
And if not, then, well, maybe the year after. 

– excerpt from “I’m from everywhere, man…”, a mandatory  ‘introduce yourself to your fellow classmates in the form of a poem’ assignment, circa 2013ish.

Place and Privilege was the original title of this blog post, but it sounded too much like a  Jane Austen reboot.

Continue reading

Playing In The Dirt

I made it to Day 82 of my Duolingo streak before I got hit by a bus, logistically speaking. I’m now back on that horse, after chasing after it for a week and some (ish), and then being bounced off it a few times before I figured out which direction I should sit on the saddle … metaphorically speaking.

But, our son’s in his new high school now, and I’m in my new academic program, and have already gotten through two of the classes, despite the usual reasons I generally list after despite, and the unusual ones I generally don’t.

Unusually speaking, I have started planting things again, and this time around, I have been giving them names.  One of my co-workers gave me a Limelight hydrangea, which I’ve named Felix.  Felix is still a little uncertain about being in the front mulch, but (s)he’s put on some new growth, so I think (s)he’ll be okay. I also have Chloe, a mystery treeling that I discovered growing in the mulch and decided to rehome into a large terracotta pot until she was large enough to plant in the yard. @bhoneydew suggested she might be a Triffid, not a tree, so I tucked the pot behind our lamppost, so she could be well positioned to fill up on bugs until she gets big enough to intimidate solicitors … or she turns out to be some less beneficial variety of exotic invasive.

That much said is enough for now, I think.  It is 9:00 PM and I am already getting sleepy: getting up at 5:00 AM almost every day, and every day being a very busy day these days is making me a very boring sort of Shai.

At least it’s the cheerful sort of boring.

 

 

C’est là que commence la folie

I’m on Day 73 of my Duolingo streak, and into the second week of my video game boycott.  The boycott isn’t anything political:  I was just parked in a low mental activity rabbit hole1, and I finally had enough sleep to realize that.

With a few exceptions this past month, I have gotten myself moving toward bed around ten at night, and asleep by eleven.  I know it will be a while before I am completely crawled out from under the chronic sleep deprivation, and I keep reminding myself of that, especially when I notice that in general, I’m doing better.  Yes, really.  I am running just a single load of laundry every day. On very good days, it gets put away semi-immediately. It is in no immediate danger of becoming another low mental activity rabbit hole.

I even have “Begin Blog Post” (which was Monday, August 5th) and “Publish Blog Post” (booked for Monday, August 12th) tasks blocked into my planner, just like I had last month.  We’ll see if I get sick of working on this post before the 12th and chuck it over the fence ahead of schedule like I did last month2.

…and obviously, I did not.  It is five minutes until ten on Monday, August 12th, and here I am not really knowing how to finish this blog post other than to say yeah, I can really notice it now when I don’t get into bed by ten, and setting my alarm clock for an hour later to try to compensate for the lack of sleep only makes it worse because I start off the morning feeling like I’m behind and I’m running to catch up all day.

Yeah, I did that last night.  @bhoneydew was in the living room watching the first episode of Another Life when I was heading to bed last night, and I got drawn into the story-based entertainment black hole before I could escape.  I won’t say that I should know better, because I already do know better.

I also am better.  Despite getting up an hour later than usual, I still managed to do everything I had planned to do today — including this blog post.  Boom.


1This sounds better than “place Shai goes to hide”, I think.
2Because it takes a surprising amount of effort for me these days to write anything (work related, non-work related, school related, grocery lists) that doesn’t read like I threw it together on my cell phone while parked in a waiting room.  Our son currently has physical therapy for his ankle twice a week, and I’ve hit the beginning of my fall checkups.

Refresher Course

In these cases, the unusual
Answering questions is outstandingly grave
Do not begin
Words can just be presented in a behavior that minimizes anxiety
The side effects vary

-the latest #spampoetry

It is no longer February. It was March. It was April. I barely remember any of them, but the paychecks did show up on time. My hyacinths were beautiful, my azaleas were beautiful (despite being rain battered), my landscape roses are still beautiful, and my tulips yet again got munched before they even opened, so much for my hypothesis that the bears turning up in our neighborhood scared off the deer as much as they seem to have the rabbits and foxes. The lilies are already tall enough to suggest they are considering taking over the world this summer, or at least the cul-de-sac.

The Monster is now taller than both of us, and still will be taller than both of us, once he recovers from tendon surgery. He shot up before he was entirely prepared to be as tall as he is (and well ahead of when we would have been ready for it). He’ll be in a cast for the first half of the summer, and a brace for some undetermined amount of time after that, which is certainly a fantastic way for him to spend his last summer before high school.

Not that this seems to bother him, but not much does.  Every day and everything is a new adventure.

I could take a lesson from that.  I believe I will.

 

=NVL(Number,24)

Started new
My novel number
It is error
– The latest #spampoetry

Toward the end of July, I had a work week with three 24 hour days in it.  It’s not like I’m not predisposed to insomnia anyway and haven’t worked those kind of hours before1,2, but this time was different, because I’d promised I wouldn’t do that anymore, and it took me to the end of that third day to realize that I hadn’t even felt a pang of self-preservation. Nope. None. There was work to do that needed to be done, and I was there to do it, and…

It was ridiculous. I wasn’t saving lives or putting out fires or keeping the streets safe or trying to make the world a better place through sweat, patience or holding the line against the darkness. At best, I was helping get people into jobs, or keep the ones they had.

At worst?  Well. For a while, my work hours had been compressing my life to the edges of the day:  I was staying up late to get homework done, or getting up very early to handle household chores and basic self-care3.  It was manageable. For a while.  Then my work started eating those hours, too, and the hours I’d ordinarily spend sleeping.

Which was insane, but I didn’t really notice it until @bhoneydew drew my attention to it. I went huh, he’s right, and around then was when I promised I wouldn’t work any 24 hour days unless it was necessary.

Like I said earlier, I wasn’t doing anything strictly necessary.

So, I gave my two weeks’ notice. I did consider negotiating an hours cap for my role, but the nature of the business made that impractical: sales and business development waits for no one, even sanity.

I quit. I’m back in school. I have an unexpected opportunity to get some hands-on experience with big data, which is something I honestly enjoy working with — in a purposeful manner, not just because I stumbled into it years ago.

I do stay up late sometimes, but it’s no later than 2:00 am, and it’s because I’m working on homework or something like this blog post. I sleep well when I go, and I remember my dreams when I wake up. Food tastes like food again.

I think this will work. We’ll see, won’t we? Who knows, I might even finish that sweater this year.


1I was on call during a lot of days while I worked the graveyard shift for Altavista during 99-2000, and overall so sleep-deprived that when I got the phone call inviting me to come interview for Lucent, it took me three days to realize that I hadn’t talked to someone from Genentech. I’ve been told my in-person interview at Lucent (this at three in the afternoon after I’d worked double shifts for a week straight while also planning a wedding) was hilarious: I was clearly asleep, but able to answer every question I was asked. I don’t remember more than pieces of that day:  the dull grey carpet, the rectangle of sunlight on the conference room table and the white and green hedges out in front of the building that smelled like Ivory soap and gardenia.

2Other than a brief glorious period of three long naps a day, the Monster barely slept until he was seven.  Ergo, I barely slept until he was seven.

3Ironically, I took better care of myself when I was traveling. Being forced to be out of the house meant I showered every day, instead of just the days when I was able to make it to the gym. I tried very hard not to give up on that, even during periods when scheduling became a nightmare. I don’t eat when I’m stressed. Going to the gym forced me to eat even when everything tasted like sawdust.