I’ve been thinking about what’s important to me lately.  It’s become absolutely clear that I don’t have enough energy to do all the things I want to do or should do.  It’s frustrating.

So, I figured I should make a comprehensive list of what’s important to me (in no particular order):

  • My sanity
  • Having enough money to have food and clothing (i.e. my job)
  • My family & friends
  • My writing
  • Other creative pursuits
  • Becoming a better person

Honestly, “other creative pursuits” could probably drop to the bottom of this list, except when it relates to “my sanity”.

I’d be happy to drop “my job” off the list, except that I’d just have to replace it with some other source of money and/or food and clothing–which would probably take just as much time and energy as the job, so I might as well just stick with the job.

I struggle with “my family and friends”.  None of my family and friends gets to see me as often as they would like.  So, I think it ends up lower on the list than it ought–and so it definitely can’t fall off the list.

I think it’s pretty clear around here that “my writing” is a priority for me–but at the same time, it’s not as high on the list as it would need to be in order for me to become a professional writer.  I don’t write every day.  Sometimes I don’t even write every week.  *shame-face*  Maybe I’m just a hobbyist.  Since it’s one of the things I define myself by, I’d hate to relegate it to “hobby” forever, but … is it more important than the food & clothing that come with having a job?  Is it more important than my friends and family?  Is it more important than my sanity?

This is really the crux of my dilemma.  I put quite a lot of stock in “my sanity”.  I “need” 8-9 hours of sleep every night.  I “need” down-time, in which I’m not harassing myself about what I “ought” to be doing.  And when I get home, and the idea of figuring out how to switch my brain into thinking about something different–like, my current novel–is just so painful, I can’t even fathom it.  So I lie on the couch with a book, or a movie.  And then I get absorbed into the movie, or the book, and I don’t ever switch back into brain-functioning mode.

I wonder if setting a timer for myself might help.  Read for 30 minutes, then go pick up the notebook and stare at it with a pen in my hand for at least 30 minutes.  If the pen happens to scratch symbols onto the page, all the better.  I think that’s called BIC*.  When the 30 minutes are done, if I want to go back to the book or the movie, then I may.  Hmm…

This doesn’t resolve how to have time (and energy) for all those other things.  Like, learning to be a better person.  Spending time corresponding with the people who are interested in corresponding with me.  Knitting that hat I told Ben I’d make him for Christmas….

* I may have to remove the piles of paper from all around my office in order for this to work^.  And I seriously need a comfortable desk chair.

^ You say I’m procrastinating?  Who, moi?

I am up Early

It’s 6, and I’ve been up for an hour, and it only just occurred to me that I should blog about this.  Liza, awake before the butt-crack of dawn?  On purpose?

The idea was that I would wake up an hour early today, and go for a walk before getting ready for work.  (Ben would wake up early, too, but he doesn’t hate mornings as much as I do.)  Now, “an hour early” is a variable thing, since I wake up anywhere from 7:30 to 8:30.  But I figured 6:30 seems reasonable, until I remembered that the sun doesn’t rise until about 6:40, and we have a big ol’ hill that hides the risen sun for at least an hour.  So, 6:45, then.

And I don’t keep an alarm clock, or any clock, in the bedroom.  Which may explain my hour-long variation in typical waking-up time.  So I moved a nice analog clock with a charming bell into the bedroom last night, even though it’s been losing time for quite a while.  I reset it to “real” time last night, and set the alarm for 6:30.  But while I was lying in bed I thought, wow this could go really wrong when that alarm doesn’t even try to wake me up until 9am.  Not to mention that I can’t tell whether it knows the difference between AM and PM, or if it’ll just ding twice every day.  If it does know the difference, it probably thinks it’s PM now, not AM, and so we extra won’t get an alarm.

In light of this clock-problem, last night as I was falling asleep I told myself to wake up around 6:30 or dawn, whichever seemed easier.  (This often works for me, I just don’t usually bother.  I mean, who would want to be awake then?*)

So this morning when I found myself awake, and it was dark out, I scrunched up my eyes to tell whether it was really dark out, or just nearly-dawn and getting lighter.  (By the way, it’s just starting to get lighter now.  Charming, really, like watching sunset in reverse.  Huh.)  The house across the street has rather bright lights, and just over the hill from us is a greenhouse that keeps lights on most of the time, and we have these huge dark pine trees behind the house that look pitch-black against even the night sky, and the moon might have even been out.  So, there were lots of explanations for a light-colored sky that don’t involve it being nearly-dawn, but I was awake, so it must be close, right?

Wrong.  It was 5.  But I was already awake, and going back to sleep for an hour (or an hour-and-a-half, or two hours) would just make me not want to wake up again**.  So I got up.

And I worked on my vampire story revisions.  I’d had some pretty useful ideas as I was falling asleep last night (there’s something a bit disturbing, though, about falling asleep while thinking about a vampire story, even if I do know how it turns out), which I hadn’t gotten up to scribble down then because I was going to be waking up early and wanted to be rested.

It has yet to be seen whether this “walking” thing will be effective, or whether I’ll just be zonked all day.  (And I still have half an hour before I’ll feel justified in making Ben wake up to keep me company.)

* Aside from at least 3 of my favorite people, plus my father, who are all decided morning people. I don’t get it at all.  It’s still night-time.  I could be asleep.

** Not to mention that I suspect I’m allergic to our forced-air heat, and that part of my trouble with mornings has to do with the heater being on for an hour before I wake up.  And at 5, the heater isn’t on yet.  It’s on now of course.

Loose time

I have a loose relationship with time.

For example, getting places on time.  I can’t do it to save my life*.  There’s this joke in my family that there’s time, and then there’s Olmsted Time.  My dad was an hour late to his own wedding.  No question he was standing my mom up–they’d had breakfast together!  He was just late.  I’m late to things I want to go to, like dinner with people I love.  Whatever I’m doing now is right in front of me, and the other thing is farther away.

Then there’s estimating how long something will take me.  I know it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.  So why does it take all day?  What are those other things that come up?  Is it just that it takes me an hour to get into the right headspace to actually accomplish anything?  Is it that I’m interrupted too much?  Do I just not focus well enough?  Probably all of the above.  I know other people can’t plan around me if I can’t tell them how long I’m going to take to finish, but how do I estimate accurately without way overestimating?

I am most productive** when I’m right up to the wire, need to be finished by the end of today and now it’s 7pm.  Don’t even get me started on deadlines in college.  I almost never wrote a paper earlier than the night before it was due.  (But they came out good.)

Mornings are the bane of my existence.  I hate waking up out of a comfy sleep.  I hate having to go be functional first thing in the morning.  Why can’t I just sleep some more?  Or read in bed?  Have a relaxing breakfast?

Evenings are the opposite.  I can stay up later and later, regardless of when I woke up or how tired I am.  If I took a nap today?  Not likely to go to bed on time.  If I stayed at work late?  I still want to have my relaxing time at home before sleeping (since sleeping leads to waking, and waking leads to Eep I’m already late for work!).  And I’m most creative on too little sleep, too much caffeine, and/or not enough food.  Why?  Because my brain hates me.

In order to work a normal day job, I need to be at work at a reasonable hour in the morning.  I even see the benefit of it, when I manage to be there early.  I get way more done in the morning, it’s amazing!  But my bed was so much more amazing.

The positive sides to my fleeting acquaintance with time: I focus on what’s going on right now.  I get shit done on a tight deadline, and it comes out good.  And I’m creative when I push the boundaries of good-for-my-health.

But I don’t want all of my deadlines to be that short, it gets exhausting and has negative effects on my personal life.  And incidentally, self-imposed deadlines?  Not at all motivating.

Why do I still feel like I’m failing all the time?

* Slight exaggeration, merely because I allot myself ridiculous amounts of time when it really matters.  But I can’t live that way.

** For some definition of productive.  This only works with things that matter.  Fake deadlines don’t do it for me.  And truly interesting things get done regardless of deadlines.