So . . . Here’s What Happened . . .

Yesterday, was my day off. I’d planned to use the gift certificate I received for Mother’s Day to get my nails done and then maybe blog about it because I know how much y’all adore every detail about my nail care routine.

But I also  had to buy a birthday present for Sunny’s friend, dishwashing detergent, pumpernickel bread, a specific birthday gift for my husband, balloons for Jane’s science assignment illustrating static electricity.  I needed to make dinner for a friend who just had surgery (which is why pumpernickel bread is mentioned in the previous sentence) and deliver it.  I then had to pick up the kids from school—because my husband graciously agreed to take them to school that morning—and get them home in time for my husband to take them to their respective music lessons.Dancing Cake

Piece of cake.

I perhaps slept in a little more than I wanted to but I did get on the exercise bike without too much whining.  Showered, dressed, and sufficiently caffeinated, I set off.

The first store had Sunny’s friend’s gift and the detergent,* but no pumpernickel, specific husband gift, or reasonably priced balloons.

The second store had reasonably priced balloons (plus the gift bags and birthday cards I’d forgotten to add to the list), but didn’t carry bread or gifts my husband would appreciate.

I zipped over to my nail appointment, by which I mean I followed at minimal safe distance a series of other drivers who seemed to be unclear about where they were going and how quickly they needed to get there, but were adamant about leaving their turn signals on to save time.  But I did make it with minutes to spare.

Say what you want about the frivolity of manicures, but it’s always lovely to have someone hold your hand for half an hour, add a little color to your life, and then massage pineapple oil into your sore writing muscles.  My nails are now a shade called “Imagination”, which might look beige under artificial light, but sparkles gold in the sunshine.  I like that.

I only wish I’d remembered my gift certificate . . .

The third store had my husband’s birthday present and every kind of bread I could have wished for, as long as I didn’t wish for pumpernickel.

The fourth store had pumpernickel.

I went home, hid some of my shopping,** and started scraping carrots, de-stringing celery, and denuding spuds for a vat of baked potato soup (this one with smoked sausage bits added to the onions—and yes, the cat still considers himself a key ingredient) to feed my friend’s family, plus enough for my family the next night.

Halfway through, my stomach demanded to know what I was going to do about its state of impending implosion, so I made lunch, ate it, and continued making soup.  Once soup had been achieved, I let it cool and called my friend for directions.  Her husband, who is a jwonderful man who fully intends to take on his beloved’s work load but had no idea she did quite this much, answered and gave me detailed directions that depended on landmarks that haven’t existed since well before we moved up here, so I secured the street address to their town house complex and dug out the GPS.

I love my GPS but its suction cup mount and I have a non-aggression pact, which it violated by popping free just as I reached the part of town I knew nothing about.  Figuring that GPSing from one’s lap was worse than texting, I pulled over and got my own back by licking the suction cup and slamming it onto the surface of my windshield, where it stuck . . . upside down.  I pried it free, tried again, and we all went on our way.  I don’t believe I was imagining the disapproval in the GPS’s voice, but I didn’t start it, so I didn’t care.

I delivered the soup, bread, a box of Godiva, and hugs to my medication-goofy friend and her exhausted husband, and went to pick up the kids.  While waiting in the Parental Line, I checked my e-mail and found that Jane’s Humanities teacher had cc’d me on an e-mail that supplied the four assignments Jane had missed that month, all of which were due the following day at 3:30.  To her credit . . . pun woefully unintended . . . she fully acknowledged that she needed to do them and told me she needed my computer.

I agreed, because legitimate excuses for writing avoidance are not to be ignored and I’m not interested in providing her with a scapegoat for her lousy grades, thank you.

Brain FailWhen we got home, my husband had put the potato soup in the fridge, which would have been perfect, except he’d inadvertently unearthed the roast I’d bought, which I’d meant to slow-cook Monday but had instead ended up dropping it into the black hole I have where other people keep their memory centers.  The date label suggested that I either cook it by the next day or lose it in the black hole we keep where other people have freezers.

So instead of spending the kids’ music lesson time doing a post on my busy day, I prepped the roast for crockpotting (it’s a Real Verb, Downith, I swear), and began gently reheating potato soup.

The kids came home, told me they didn’t like potato soup and would prefer Campbell’s, please, and dispersed to deal with their Humanities backlog and top up their RDA of cartoons, respectively, which may well have saved their lives and the state of Illinois the cost of a trial.

So I opened cans and heated things and kissed my husband good-bye . . . I think . . . and ended up burning the bottom of the potato soup, because of course.  But everyone was eventually fed and homeworked (she says) and showered, so I made good use of the dishwashing detergent, and sat down to write a belated post about I don’t even know.

And then my MIL came upstairs to complain that her toilet was bubbling, and the last time it did that, the sewer line outside the house had backed up into her back room.

It did that this time, too.

So that’s why my regular Tuesday post is being posted today and also why there will be no random Thursday post tomorrow.***

Because life is being random enough at the moment.

Time Flies

___________________________

*Which was so well-hidden behind a young man examining a bottle of drain cleaner and his full cart that I made three passes down the aisle before I realized he was blocking the shelf I needed.  When I finally stopped and said, “Excuse me,” he smirked and said, “Sorry, I have a girlfriend.”    I gave him Sunny’s best unimpressed look and said, “I’ll forgive you if you move so I can get that green box right there.”  Wait for the pitch before you lob it back, gentlemen.

**Not because my husband doesn’t know exactly what he’s getting, but to prevent the kids from opening the bag if front of him, pulling out the gift and saying, “Mom?  Who is this for?”  Bother birthdays and parenting often depend on plausible deniability.

***That and Sunny’s Girl Scout bridging ceremony Thursday evening.  And I just remembered that I have to iron all her badges on her vest.  And that the ironing board is in the back room of my MIL’s apartment . . .

 

 

 

This Post is a Fuggly Hack

I don’t have a Real Post™ today, because I lost my grip on the amount of time I’d planned to use to write something thoughtful and profound and ended up using all of it to scan images of the family for a school genealogy project due tomorrow; attempts to fix my printer’s sudden amnesia regarding our WiFi connection; and copying out Sunny’s math homework by hand, while squinting at a series of tiny, texted images sent by an angel of a fellow parent, whose child did NOT forget his math book yesterday.

The first of four pages.  And yes, the hand is supposed to have four fingers, though I'll admit that it does resemble a pinkie amputation, rather than the thumb-tuck i was going for.

The first of four pages.*

And then I had to finish up my wordcount, because if I want Thanksgiving off from Nanowrimo, I can’t start slacking now.

So instead of entertaining you with my quirks and eccentricities and the epic battle to keep our elderly cat as continent as possible—or at least incontinent in acceptable areas—here’s a link to  terrific article by Cory Doctorow, which was published in this month’s issue of LOCUS:

My theory is that the parts of our brains that keep track of other people and try to model them, the seats of our empathy, can be tricked into treating the adventures of imaginary people as though they were real. Even though your rational mind knows that imaginary people are inconsequential, the largely automatic, unconscious systems that organize information about the people around you in order to figure out what they’re likely to do — and that let you predict how they feel in given situations and sympathize with them — don’t differentiate between information about real people and imaginary people.

“Stories Are A Fuggly Hack” Cory Doctorow, LOCUS, November 2014, p.25

And while you’re reading that, I’ll be trying to get my printer to cough up those school project photos I scanned and/or hacking away at the fuggliest story I’ve written, to date.

Wordcount, ho!

______________________________

*And yes, the hand at the bottom is supposed to have four fingers, though I’ll admit it does resemble a pinkie amputation, rather than the thumb-tuck I was going for.

Priority Pie, with Bonus Balloons

True confession time:

The past few months, I’ve become nearly immobilized by my own expectations.

It’s as if I’ve been standing in the center of a room that’s slowly filling up with small balloons: blue wishes, pink desires, purple promises, yellow fears, orange assumptions, red determination, green guilt.

The pressure isn’t heavy, but it’s there and I’m surrounded, and I can’t move.

Not forward, not back.

But when I realized that I was the one blowing up all these balloons, I also realized that I was the one holding the hatpin.

So, I took last week off to figure things out.

And make pie charts.  Just because.

Why pie chart

 

First, I wrote down a list of things I want to do and have to do and don’t want to do and can’t do and have to do before I can do and do be do be do be do.

And then I wadded it up and threw it away, because I already know that even if I can, somehow, have it all, I’ll never be able to have it all at the same time.

So what are the daily essentials that I need to function?

 

Timepie

There’s some necessary overlap, because my family and friends and writing* can keep me sane, if they so choose, and I can’t spend time with them or write or work if I’m not healthy, and I don’t have health insurance without work . . . so it’s more of a Venn Pie.**

All I have to do is figure out how to balance the slices on a daily basis.

Here’s the plan, so far:

Work:

Professional LibrarianI don’t have much leeway here, except for what I do on breaks, which usually involves a combination of the other parts of the Timepie.

But at least work is on a fixed, steady schedule:  I put in a solid eight hours a day, five days a week, work one night a month and every other Saturday.

So it’s easy to plan around—and three cheers for the aforementioned health insurance and timely mortgage payments.

Moving on.

 Health:

I like the idea of being healthy, I’m just not very good at following through.

I don’t sleep enough, I overwear my disposable contacts until my eyes hurt, all of my favorite activities are  sit-ivities, I’m a wee bit caffeine-addicted and consider the Comfort Food Diet a valid lifestyle choice. . . And while I’m not afraid of doctors, I don’t bother making appointments for myself unless I’m coughing up something disturbing or that nagging pain isn’t going away—or the stick tells me I’m up the duff without a GYN-OB.***

But it’s past time I make the time to make some changes, which includes consulting medical professionals who will help me figure out what changes to make.

Therefore, I’m declaring this the Year of Health, because the Year of Sarah Finally Accumulating Medical Charts in One Place After a Decade of ERs and Drop-In Clinics takes too long to say.

I’ve already started:  last week, I went to the dentist, who inspired me to hurry up and find a regular doctor by showing me a chart of my enamel-less teeth^ and asking me questions about acid reflux, sleep apnea, and tooth-grinding stress.

But scheduled doctor appointments, while occasionally problematic, aren’t as tough to fit in as the daily stuff.

The dietary improvements I’m trying out—I won’t bore us all explaining them—take no more time than my old habits, and neither does exercise, or what passes for it around here, which I’ve already been doing.  Mostly.

SleepHowever, there’s no question that I need more sleep. And to get more sleep . . . I have to sleep more.^^

And that takes time.  Which means I need to finish up the stuff I need/want/have to do in a timelier manner so I can go to bed earlier or get up later.

I mean, I could warp the space time continuum in order to add a few hours between 02:00 and 02:01. But since I’m trying to reduce the amount of caffeine in my system, I’m not going to challenge the Laws of Physics anytime soon.

At least, not without the okay from my doctor. When I get one.

So . . .where can I make room?

Family and Friends:

Nope.  Not budging.  Or if I am, it’ll be towards more, not less.

That I need family and friends time is a given.

But though I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with e-mails and texts and lunches (with friends) and driving and feeding and hugging (the kids), I’ve been shirking a lot of invitations to girls’ nights out (R movies and art shows and nice dinners) and girls’ nights in (G movies and fingerpainting and pizza) lately because there’s so many other things I think I should be doing, so even when I’m out (or in) with them, I’m not really present.

Green BalloonInstead, I’m off somewhere thinking about  all the other stuff I should/would/could have been doing, batting those balloons back and forth—supposing there’s room in my subconscious—and occasionally holding the rough twine tethering a floating ball of maroon resentment, which will turn the color of guilt about five minutes after I escape leave.

My family is the biggest source of those green balloons.^^^

Because as much as I complain, as much as I occasionally threaten to mail them all to my parents in a cardboard box (“Breathing holes are a privilege, kids, not a right.”), or secretly plan to run away from the circus, I kind of love these guys.  A lot.

I may kvetch (and blog) about interruptions and distractions, bad timing and my apparent ability to render all other adults in the house invisible, but at the end of the day—the end of all my days—I’ve do understand that I’ll never regret a single moment I’ve spent with them.°

And that pretty soon, the kids will stop asking for stories or attention or braids or even a Mom-shaped beanbag to lean against while they watch TV.°°  Better get in that quality time where and when I can.

I’ve already started working on this, too—and I found out that I’m not as resentful now that I’ve learned to ask for time back—three hours a week to run away from home.

Look!  That Sanity slice just got bigger!

As for my friends . . .  when I’m with them, I think I’ll let go of all the balloons and just be.

Balloon free

Sanity

This is gonna fluctuate with the ebb and flow and jostling of the other parts of the ‘pie.

But there’s a couple of solid changes I can make that may help—a few adjustments in, shall we say, medication.

We all have things we do, little rituals, little habits, that help us center ourselves.

One of mine is reading.  Always has been, always will be, not giving it up—though “existentially incapable of giving it up” is probably the correct way to put it.

Computer games are another habit of mine.  Specifically, Time Management games—probably because I can have as many do-overs as I want and there are cheats and walkthroughs, interesting storylines set to a snazzy soundtrack, and plentiful rewards and applause for a job well done.

Makes a fine change from reality.

But there’s centering, and there’s avoidance—and there’s ignoring all the other things I would/should/could be doing instead, in favor of yelling, “Five more minutes!  One more level!” ay myself, until my eyes burn, my mouse hand hurts, and I’m restocking grocery shelves or harvesting pumpkins or doling out playdough in my sleep, which began a lot later (or earlier, depending on your POV) than I’d intended.

It’s past time to put some parental controls on my inner child and try a little Real Life® Time Management.

I haven’t decided whether to limit myself to playing on the weekends, or try to earn screen time with wordcount/chapters/pages.

Or use the time to reacquaint myself with one of the hobbies I seem to have traded in for pixels and points.

But I set my alarm for an hour last night, tore myself away from The Beardless Wizard, and had an early bedtime.

Booyah.

Time Flies

So . . . what’s left?

Right.

Writing:

Writing Pie

I like writing fiction and I like blogging my version of reality.

Both of them are worthwhile, both are beneficial, both can be a blast.

But one of my goals is to be a published author. More to the point, I want to be a paid published author.

Which means I have to scale down the time I spend writing posts and boost the time I use on fiction, both the writing of and the querying of.

To this end, I’m going to be dropping one post a week, to start, and I won’t be working on posts until I produce pages.

That also means the timing of publication—which has been holding steady at Noon CST for a while—is going to be more random.

Like today, for example.

And none of them are going to be as crazy long as this one, believe me—you’re getting all of last week’s at once.

Talk about your time savers . . .

Toy Balloons

 

__________________________

*To be honest, I write interesting stuff when my sanity slips.  But I wouldn’t want to live in that headspace full-time, and my family also prefers that I’m here more than there. Maybe; I’m told I can be amusing while on bookbrain.

**Off-topic Inquiry:  Can a Venn Pie be a Real Thing?  Strawberry, Blueberry, and Cherry, for example? Would I need to invent a new pan or just make and freeze seven kinds of pie (yes, I drew a Three-Pie Venn and counted) and carefully reassemble?  Or have I just proven (proved? indy?) that the Sanity Slice is just wishful thinking?

***No, I’m not trying to tell you something. The equipment still works, but the factory is closed.

^No cavities, though.  Weird.

^^This would’ve probably dawned earlier on someone who isn’t as sleep deprived as I am.

^^^Any guilt my friends give me is the motivational kind and much appreciated.  Thank you.

°Even the two-kid-solo-parent clothes shopping trips. Stay tuned for that post; it’s a lulu.

°°But not money; we’ll always have my overdraft.

 

 

This is Monday. This is Monday on DSTSD*

DST

The first Monday after the Spring time change . . . Anyone else feeling the pain?

It’s not really the early (by our bodies’ calculations) start that’s the real problem.  No, it’s bedtime the night before that nails us.

Not ALL of us, of course.

Jane, who spent the day riding her bike around the huge coral-like reefs of half-melted snow in our neighborhood, dropped off last night like a rock, bless her.   And my husband had taught his usual Sunday morning yoga and had also kept an eye on Jane from his own bike,  so he was ready to sleep by the time I put my precious wordcount to bed  around ten.

Sunny and I made slightly different choices.

I enjoyed a two-hour nap in the middle of Sunday—this was not a choice, mind you, it was a mandatory system shut down after an ill-timed midnight writing jag and a huge buffet brunch.  But naps haven’t stopped me falling asleep at night since . . . . well, Janie is eleven. So, I didn’t anticipate any problems as I turned off my monitor and set my alarm.

My mistake, in retrospect, was trying to sneak my nap past my husband by taking Sunny with me to “rest” for a bit while he had some him-time.   I figured she’d squiggle around, kick my shins a few times, ask me several questions about penguins, dinosaurs, and the real color of the sun (Yellow?Orange?), get bored, and go away, leaving me to pretend all those ZZZs coming out of my ears were a complete surprise to me.

And it was so.

Except she came back a little later. And since I was already down for the count,  I didn’t know until I woke up about two and a half hours later to see her  drooling into her father’s pillow like a damp advertisement for Children’s Ambien.

So basically, my nearly seven-year old had a two-hour nap on the first day of Spring Daylight Savings, and then—according to her inner clock—we tried to put her to bed an hour early.  That was never going to go well, especially with a kid who is so allergic to bedtime that she often beats us back to the living room after we tuck her in.

She was up and down for two hours, three drinks of water, one backrub, an enforced visit to the bathroom, two more Five Minute Cuddles™ and one “Get back in your OWN bed until Mommy’s alarm goes off—it’s a school night and you know the rules.”

And then I blinked and my Marquis de Sade alarm clock claimed it was morning and demanded submission.

Here’s how we all fared:

My husband rose and shone, as usual.   Must be all that yoga.

Janie slept so well, she even skipped the usual Good Morning Pre-Teen Sunshine Grumpypants Routine. For a while.

“Mom?”
“Wow, you’re up ten minutes early! Good for you.”
“Yeah. Can I have my inhaler? My lungs feel tight.”
“Sure, honey. Your Dad’s in the bathroom; he’ll get it for you.”
“Okay.”

Fifteen minutes later . . .

“Where’s Jane?”
“I don’t know,” my husband said. “She took two shots from her breather and went to get dressed. But all the lights are off in her room.”
“Jane? Janie, no. No.  Janie, UP.”
“But Moo-oom! You saaaid I had ten minuuutes!”
“Not anymore, you don’t.”

Sunny’s little face resembled a very sleepy fist.  She put her underwear on over her pajama pants and fought against their removal because she didn’t WANT to get dressed before breakfast.  She couldn’t find a spoon she liked in the fork section of the silverware drawer.  Or the shoes she was already wearing.

And me?

How did I fare on this Monday morning, when my body thought I got up at 4am, and I burned myself on the curling iron that I had to use because I forgot to wash my hair? And looked down at breakfast to discover one of the underwires from my only clean bra poking out from my neckline? And forgot to make coffee in time to drink much of it before I had to get two kids, one attitudinal and one manically-sleepy, into the car with all their stuff so that I could get them to school in time to haul my yawning carcass to the branch across town and moderate the library’s short story  group?  And waltzed out of the branch a few hours later with the meeting room keys in my pocket?

Not bad for a Monday, all things told.

You?

___________________

*Daylight Savings Traumatic Stress Disorder.  For those of you who live in saner countries, in Fall, most of the US resets their clocks an hour earlier (“Falling back”), and in Spring, we set out clocks an hour forward (“Springing ahead”).  There are several other countires and places that do this, too, though maybe not on the same schedule. There’s a reason behind all this, but I’m too zonked to explain right now.  Have a video:

Half-Nano Update #3: Excuses, Excuses . . .

Couch Potato

Okay, okay, I confess.

After bragging last Tuesday about the word-surplus generated by my long weekend away, I’ve fallen behind on my Half-Nano goal this past week.

Like, by a couple thousand.

I’ve made notes, I’ve done a little research, but the actual writing down of new words on paper or pixels . . . not so much.

But I did find the time to jot down several excellent excuses reasons why I didn’t couldn’t find the time to write much else:

1. Things were busier at work than usual, so I spent my lunch hours librarianing,* instead of writing.

2. I helped transform the kid’s playroom from this:

Jane's Room Before 2

Into this, for Janie:**

Jane's Room After

We also cleared out the kids’ formerly-shared bedroom, which is currently being painted an interesting shade of Sunny’s Favorite Pink— about which more later—in the hopes that the children will be settled in their own rooms by Thanksgiving, so the living room won’t look like this when my parents arrive:

Living Room Mess2

3. I’m prepping to teach two lifesaving classes this week— this afternoon and next Monday—and the second one is the first time I’ve led a class instead of assisted, so I’m going over everything and hoping I don’t choke . . . at least, not until we get past that particular section.

4.There was a major sale at the bookstore, and I had a coupon. 

5.  Hey, did y’all see the last two episodes of Agents of SHIELD?  The series is getting pretty good.

6. Our church celebrated its 50th Anniversary yesterday, which took most of the afternoon and evening, and since the choir sits up front and the deacon has very sharp eyes, I wasn’t able to sneak in my notebook.

7.Watson bought the extended DVD of The Hobbit.

See? Not my fault.

Exactly.

O-kaaaay.  Fine.

Most of these wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t tripped over my inner critic—who somehow wriggled free from the handcuffs, peeled off the duct tape, and picked the deadbolt from the inside of her cell—and did a total faceplant into editing mode Wednesday evening.

I’ve been wrestling with Ms. Critic ever since, but I’m wondering at this point which one of us should be wearing the straightjacket—that’s a rhetorical question, by the way, thank you.

So this week’s Nanowrimo Learning Experiences™ are as follows:

1. Never stop to re-read, even to see what you named a new character

2. The DVDs and DVR recordings will still be there on the first of December.

3. People will never grab their coupons and hightail it to the bookstore to buy your novel if you don’t finish it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me—pun more or less intended—I have to go teach a lifesaving class and then resuscitate my Nano-goal . . .

__________________________

*Yes, it’s a perfectly legitimate word and fun to say—spell check and Merriam-Webster can both take a hike.

**I did the clean up and heavy lifting (with the help of my husband) and Watson did the painting.