Is Running The Best Procrastination Strategy Ever? Discuss

LIFE. It feels like I’m looking into fog or deep water, squinting my eyes and searching for defined edges among so many shifting priorities and goals, all moving in and out of focus at different times. Running has been the clearest priority for a while now. I’m also trying to prioritize simple and practical self-care. I hate to use the term “adulting”…but I tend to go from work to runs to social engagements without a lot of time in between, and I’ll leave the dishes in the sink or the work clothes in the pile because getting to the next thing is more important to me than cleaning up my space. I’m really good at working towards big, flashy goals. Training for a marathon, finishing NaNoWriMo, making everything spotless before a party or event. I’m less good at the daily upkeep that would help me feel less scattered and anxious in my environment. So I’m working on it, because it’s winter and I need every bit of positive energy I can get. I’ve also been watching Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot, and it is HIGHLY MOTIVATIONAL to imagine what the Fab 5 might say if they were looking around my apartment.

RUNNING. I am really proud of how much time I spend running…as anyone who’s talked to me for more than a minute has probably figured out. It’s hard not to mention it because any interesting thing I do in any given week probably has something to do with running or one of my running communities. Part of why I’m so proud is because it’s a GIANT CHANGE that I made in my life, and a change that I STUCK TO. I made this change not long after radically changing my hairstyle, which helps with my strong sense of “before” and “after,” and it’s reassuring to be in the “after” and to know that I’m capable of making giant changes. This is who I am now. And it’s a relief to no longer have the constant anxiety of feeling like I should be exercising regularly, because I do. That aspect of my life is now in place. I have different anxieties about whether I’m training properly or doing enough, but BARE MINIMUM I exercise 4 days a week. And even as I struggle with things I have struggled with for years, like keeping my space tidy, and even as I am sad about the things I am sad about, and mad about the things I am mad about (things that ended suddenly, without much closure), at least I am this person now. I ran 27 miles this week. I ran over 1,000 miles this year. This is who I am now, and that means a lot to me.

But… remember those shifting goals, edges obscure, some so vague you have to squint to see the shape of them? I started this blog to write about writing, and sometimes it seems like constantly crushing the running and physical goals has allowed me to slack off on other goals that are difficult, and that I’ve been working towards longer. I get a large or small sense of accomplishment after every single run, and if I’m feeling accomplished it’s easy to put off working on my book until another day. After all, I am tired. I earned this post-run beer. And my laptop is slow and bug-ridden, and I can no longer use it without a mouse and not plugged into the wall. So much hassle. I might as well just watch something on Netflix, or plan out my long run for the week and think about how accomplished I’ll feel after that.

I don’t really have an answer. Priorities shift and life comes in seasons. I may be failing miserably at my December Sketch Challenge, but several times over the past years I’ve been able to use my art training to design athletic T-shirts for one of my running clubs, which combined my big new running passion with my long-term goal to keep making art. Of course doing any of the art I want to do is hindered by my buggy laptop than can barely run Photoshop anymore and my broken drawing tablet…so the real answer here might be that I need to save enough money to purchase tech that would enable me to do the things I want to do. Which means finding a second or a different job and working more hours, which may be difficult to schedule with all the running and won’t leave much extra time for creative endeavors.

And those are some of the things I am trying to balance! Life is always messy and nothing is perfect. I try to make progress every day. Lately when I find myself sitting on the couch, exhausted from a late bedtime and early wake-up and body aching from my strength class the day before, I ask myself, “What can I do to work towards my goals right now?” Sometimes it’s writing a few cover letters and sending out some resumes—each one is a little easier to do. Sometimes it’s just washing my dinner plate and cup before going to bed, or doing a little foam-rolling and stretching to help my legs feel a little better. Maybe tomorrow it’s opening up my manuscript file and revising a chapter, or even a paragraph. A sentence. Who knows, right? Anything could happen. And this is who I am now. I have made changes, and I can make more.

-GM

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Day 18: Still Okay!

I’ve admired my Aunt Ruthanne’s consistent Wednesday blog updates for years now (A More Colorful Life! Erry Wednesday!). I don’t have any classes Wednesday afternoons this semester and, seeing as this is my third blog post in three Wednesdays, maybe I can follow her example and make Wednesday posts a regular thing.

I won’t write much, though, because I’m trying to get as far ahead on NaNoWriMo as I can before the weekend.

Here’s my progress graph! I’m at tomorrow’s goal, and I haven’t even started writing for today yet.

32,007 words!

32,007 words!

 

I like how this book is coming together. I like the shape of it. I like the characters that are popping up out of the darkness. I like my ideas for the ending. The book feels complete, somehow, in a way my books rarely do at this stage in the writing. I know there are some threads that are missing, and I know I will have to go back to the beginning to weave a few new colors into the story, but I feel like I can hold the whole thing in my hands and I feel it is good. This feeling probably means I am in for a lot of surprises, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s here.

I’m also having fun writing this book. I want this to be my job. How do I make this my job? Oh yeah. Keep writing.

Good luck on NaNoWriMo and every other thing, you beautiful people, you.

What I did on a Sunshiny Day

Yesterday was Sunday, and Mother’s Day, and perhaps the most beautiful day we’ve had in Maine yet this year. Temperatures in the 70s, sunshine, everything you could ask for. My apartment, which tends to be a little cold during the winter, has actually been overheating. I forgot it did that. This winter was especially brutal. I’ve always lived in places with cold and snow in the colder months, but this year it seemed to just keep coming. I’m still a little paranoid about this Spring thing. I don’t quite trust it. Warm weather? Us? Must be some kind of set-up. Where’s the catch?

Yesterday was too beautiful to stay inside, so Mr. Huntington and I took the ferry to Peaks Island, the most popular of the islands in Casco Bay right off the coast of Portland. My roommate Brackett met us at the ferry and gave us a quick tour; his family has a cottage on the island and he happened to be out there the afternoon we decided to take our impromptu trip. After walking around some rocks by the sea and getting a tour of Brackett’s cottage, we walked down Island Ave to the ferry landing and sat in the sunshine and ate ice cream while waited for the next boat back into town.

The rest of the day was taken up with dinner, and laundry, and not much else.

What do you do when it’s a beautiful day, and you’d rather be outside than at your computer desk writing?

Is there value in disciplining yourself to the desk, to the work? What sacrifices do you make to further your craft, and where do you draw your lines? How do you navigate the boundary between distraction and things you need, things that feed you?

A Tale of Woe

Three weeks ago, while on a flight from Philadelphia to Jacksonville, my computer died. I didn’t do anything to it, it wasn’t jostled or harmed in any way. I was just scrolling around while I drank my in-flight ginger ale. I let the macbook attempt to connect to the in-flight wireless, and took a look at that illustration I’d been working on for a couple weeks.

Guess who?

Guess who?

And then my macbook slowed down, and stopped responding.

So I restarted it!

And never got past the long-in screen.

So I tried again, and again. Eventually the startup screen showed a blinking image of a folder with a question mark. This was the exact opposite of reassuring.Pmhp4

Consensus was, I had a busted hard drive. There went all my plans of being a semi-productive writer and illustrator while on vacation. The good news—the really excellent news—was that I’d backed up my entire computer before I got on the plane that morning.

I had no choice but to enjoy my florida vacation completely guilt free. I spent a lot of time with family I don’t see very often. For most of my life, holiday gatherings have been a four person affair (my mom, dad, brother, and me), but this Easter I celebrated with…well, we never did get a head-count, but at least 35 relatives of some degree or other. In Florida, everything everywhere was green, a nice contrast from the Maine of a few weeks ago. I went running by the Suwannee river, went swimming in the ocean in APRIL, paddled a kayak through salty inlets to the sea, and saw dolphins, wild horses, an alligator, and many birds.

Back in Maine, my first prerogative was a trip to the Apple store. They checked my computer in on Monday and told me I could pick it up on Tuesday. I had both days off, and the half hour bus ride to and back from the Mall took a good chunk of time from both days. On Tuesday, there was good news! They hadn’t needed to replace the hard drive; only the connector cable. All my stuff was still there, and my computer was back to normal. Much rejoicing, etc. I brought it home, and commenced browsing the internet and getting caught up on my favorite webcomics. And then, my computer, staaarted    to       slooooooooow                 dooooooooooooowwn.

I restarted it, and got stuck on the log-in screen for a long time. Like, half an hour. It kept trying really hard to function normally, but it took an intolerably long time to accomplish anything, and eventually crapped out every time. The nice fellow on the Apple Support line was able to schedule me another appointment at the store for after work the following day, an appointment I missed because my work day started and finished a half-hour later than normal, without warning (this week, my schedule changed to two hours earlier instead). In the end, I couldn’t go back until Saturday, where my computer was again admitted for repair. Got it back on Sunday, good as new, this time with a brand new hard drive.

And that’s the story of why my productivity has plummeted for the past three weeks. Now it’s the weekend. I have three days off in a row, I’ve warmed up with writing a blog post, my apartment is less of a mess than it gets sometimes, and I just finished my second cup of coffee for the day. I’m going to get to work.

I probably won’t accomplish a lot in the next few hours. I probably won’t meet my goals this weekend, this month, or even this year. But I have to keep plugging away at it, a little bit at a time and in whatever way I can, or I’ll never get anywhere at all.

Summertime

Blog! Hi, Blog! Hello!

I have just eaten a tomato, sliced, with salt and olive oil. It was delicious. I bought it at Trader Joe’s the other night, along with zucchini and summer squash and prosciutto pasta. I pronounced prosciutto “pro-skwee-to” (it’s “pro-shoo-to,” for anyone who doesn’t know) while advertising what was on for dinner, and my dinner guest laughed at me. A lot. In my defense, I was raised by vegetarians. I was eighteen before I even tried steak!

It’s summer in a beautiful city, and life has been moving at a very fast pace. The social life thing has sort of exploded, due in large part to existing friends and connections and also to that beautiful thing called Happy Hour. I’ve become a responsible person with a job, and most of my friends also have jobs and responsible things to do in the morning, and so we’ve discovered that meeting up in the afternoon, right after work and well before bedtime, is the perfect way to hang out. Who knew?

Also, I have a new job. It’s a part-time cleaning position at a furniture warehouse, ten hours a week, and it fits perfectly into my existing schedule with RTP. Seriously, I can come in for five hours each on my two days off, and I still have weekends free. It’s not a whole lot of money or anything, but it’s exactly what I needed to pay off a few bills and generally be a lot more comfortable in my money situation… which will lead to a lot less stress in general. Yay!

And that’s what’s been going on. Nevada is leaving next week, and we have a new roommate moving in. We met her once, and I think she’ll be nice! I’m getting more comfortable at my bus-driving job, and the various components of it are becoming a little more routine. I’ve even been singing again; last weekend I joined my guitar-playing friend Tim and some other excellent folks for a gig back home, and on Wednesday Tim came to Portland for an open mic. Brackett finally got to hear us play! I have plans with friends in a couple hours, and I’m wondering if there’s any way I can get to the beach tomorrow, since I haven’t been in a body of water in a whole week.

To conclude: Life is busy, and good.

Also, Maine is beautiful.

Also, Maine is beautiful.

New City, New Job

Pop quiz: How long has it been since I’ve updated this blog?

The correct answer is, “Too Long.”

Moving is hard, you know? You’re in a new place, and you have to establish new routines and fight twice as hard to do all the things you had only just figured out how to do at the place you left behind. I also have a new job, and that’s been really taking it out of me. Eventually it will be a three-day-a-week job, but they’ve been giving me almost forty hours these past few weeks while I’m training. It’s been two years since I last worked forty hours a week, so that alone is exhausting. Worse, I have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning  to get to work on time, and I’ve never had to do that before. Also, the job itself is really overwhelming right now. It’s a lot of fun and I love meeting people and driving around the city and I’m determined to learn how to do it as best as I can—but finding my way around Portland (Maine!) is really tough right now. I don’t have the most sophisticated sense of direction to begin with (understatement alert) and, besides a few well-worn routes, the city is entirely new to me. I’ve borrowed my parents’ GPS, and that will get me where I need to go, but it doesn’t know anything about which side of the street you need to be on to pull the bus up to the curb, or which streets you should never drive down when you’re on a schedule because of all the stoplights. Also, did I mention the bus is huge? Eventually, when I get my own route, I think I’ll be driving a minivan, but I’m training on one of the small buses and backing that thing up is terrifying. I’m getting better, but still. At this point, because navigation is such an issue, I pretty much need to spend one to two hours the night before studying my route on google maps. That’s right, folks: I landed a day-job with homework.

Heh, this blog post went the way all my conversations have gone over the past week or so. It’s just, the job is all I’ve been doing, so it’s all I really have to talk about. And even though it’s tiring and stressful and overwhelming right now, I am so grateful to have a job, and I’m so grateful it’s this one. Everything’s a little harder at the beginning, is all. And it is challenging. Of the five of us who were hired at the same time, one already dropped out because he didn’t like the job. Out of the eight hired a month or so before us, only five stayed beyond the first few weeks. So I think if I just stick with it, and put as much time into learning my routes and studying the roads as possible, I’ll (eventually) be all set. And in the meantime, I’m really grateful for weekends.

Maine hit the nineties yesterday. It was glorious. I went for a four mile run in the absolute hottest part of the day, after guzzling some coffee and making some headway on Wanderlust book II. What I NEED to be doing are the illustrations for Wanderlust I, but progress on something is better than no progress at all. I went to the library, and started reading a middle-grade book called Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. It’s really good so far, and the illustrations are excellent. Then I went to the beach with Lady Anne, which was marvelous and will hopefully be a much-repeated experience over the course of the summer. I went for an equally lengthy run this morning, found a church with music I really liked, and then cooked fried plantains for lunch. I’m sitting at my desk now, about to [make a valiant attempt to] spend some time with those Wanderlust illustrations before I devote the rest of my evening to studying and making lunches for the week. Preferred bedtime is 8 O’clock, but if I make it there by 9:30 I’ll call it a win.

So that’s what I’ve been doing, in case anyone missed me. As my routine settles down a little, or as I get a little more accustomed to it, I hope to be able to spend more time with this blog. I’ve missed you too.

Twenty-Six Things

1.) Sometimes, writing blogs and communicating with people is really hard.

2.) As more time passes [without a blog post, an email, a tweet, a wordpress comment], it only gets harder.

3.) I haven’t gone running for two weeks.

4.) I’ve also had a cold for the last two weeks.

5.) I haven’t drawn much for the last two weeks either.

6.) I have been writing… in a way. Wanderlust II is fermenting, and coming together in bits and pieces. I’ve also been doing some brainstorming on an older project.

7.) I feel terrible that I haven’t finished the Race to the 8th bonus prizes yet. Absolutely terrible.

8.) The title Race to the 8th, in the context of a silly little contest on my silly little blog, sounds insensitive and unimportant after yesterday. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

9.) Now, talking about anything else feels insensitive.

10.) But there are a few more things on my list.

11.) For instance, I am moving to Portland at the end of the month.

12.) Portland: Maine, that is.

13.) I’m looking for a job.

14.) But not hard enough—see things 3, 4, and 5. It’s been a lazy couple weeks.

15.) I’ll fill out more applications tomorrow.

16.) I read this quote somewhere yesterday:  “Tomorrow is always the busiest day of the week.”

17.) Perhaps I should fill out more applications today.

18.) Today is Brother’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Brother! He was up this weekend, and we had a party on Saturday. It was fun.

19.) The ice cream from the party is still in my freezer. I have over-indulged.

2o.) In fact, I suspect I am sabotaging myself and my energies with bad food, and I suspect I am doing it maliciously.

21.) I want to take a nap.

22.) Leftenant Weatherby finished reading Wanderlust! He sent me a positive, one might even say glowing, review.

23.) I finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

24.) It’s a pretty heavy book. Don’t read it if you’re sensitive—I would have found it really disturbing six or seven years ago.

25.) I’m going to try to draw something tonight.

26.) Thank you for reading. I hope I can provide you with more content soon.