Work · Writing

Schedules Are There For a Reason

You know, I’ve been thinking. About my probably most likely undiagnosed ADHD prognosis. I know it’s not good to self-diagnose mental health issues, especially with the help of only Google, but, if the shoe fits I mean…? Kathleenlights basically thought she had OCD (clinical, that is) and then she did this whole video about the things she does and compared them to OCD symptoms (again, clinical, so much more than just ‘oh they’re just picky’ kind of things), and I was like, uh…yeah, I think she has a convincing case. (And kudos for her being so brave about it!) Anyways, regarding myself – so yesterday I set out to work because I was feeling better although not 100%, and then I didn’t work a lick, because I felt like “I can’t concentrate so might as well cut myself some slack. It’s the weekend and I’m not 100%, yeah?”)

No. The answer is NO. If I really do have ADHD, and I think I do, then the hard truth is that I probably will never be able to concentrate without some outside help. I’m not on medication, and even if I should be, I can’t because I think if I want to get pregnant they don’t recommend I take any ADHD medication. So I won’t be getting any help anyway aside from sheer will, and so, when I sit down in front of my computer to write, 9 out of 10 times I won’t be “in the mindset.” It will always, always be a struggle, and I have to develop some ways to cope with it. Them’s the breaks, you know. So I decided, literally this morning (you know, when we just wake up and groggy is apparently the optimal time for life-changing epiphanies), that that’s no longer an excuse. “I can’t concentrate so give up for now, try again tomorrow” is not going to fly if I literally cannot concentrate ever. Tomorrow is going to be the exact same as today. And the solution is, obviously, fuck your brain, push through, and work anyway.

Yeah yeah, easier said than done and all that. I’ve talked with my therapist about some of this (without thinking I had ADHD at the time) and he suggested to try some caffeine just to see if this makes a difference. I did, and I think it does, so I have caffeine to help (and of course have to give that up too if I want to be pregnant, ugh). Another thing is that strict scheduling seems to help me a lot. Which is kinda bad because if I deviate from this schedule even a little bit, like if I were sick, or something else comes up, I don’t really adjust and instead just falls completely off the wagon every time. I think the problem is that I feel like I have to make up for it. Like, I had a sick day on the 2nd, right? I was supposed to work 4 hours that day. Well, I didn’t, and so I thought, I’ll just work 4 hours on the 3rd, which was Saturday, which I initially scheduled to work 2 hours (weekend quota). Well, this little change apparently messed me up mentally enough that I didn’t do any work at all! Had I just completely written off the 2nd as “sick day” and moved on to the 2 hours slotted for Saturday, I probably would have gotten that done. Like, today, I’m also supposed to work 2 hours. I decided to not “make up for lost time” and just follow my initial schedule, and guess what I’m doing right now? Working! I feel like a robot that will just shut down if it deviates from its programming, so I guess the key is to never deviate ever?

(And if you’re like ‘wtf girl you’re only working 4 hours a day holy crap you lucky/lazy person’, yeah, I know. And it’s doubly shameful that I can’t even achieve that much. I want to up it to 5 hours eventually but right now I just want to get anything consistently done at all).

So my solution for now is set a schedule and don’t change it ever. If I’m sick or something big happens then just write the whole day off. Just pretend in your brain that you’re not behind, which apparently is the key to actually be not behind. I’m going to try this for the rest of Camp NaNoWriMo and see where it gets me. And if that doesn’t work either, well, May is a new month too.

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #3

Yes, another installment of this Friday Fictioneer thing. Great writing practice when you’re trying to get yourself back into writing again. So let’s go!

Photo Prompt:

© Roger Bultot

Moving Up

Ronda put the box down at the bottom of the apartment stairwell. It was done – she was finally moving out of this dump of a place and into that posh loft downtown. It’d add another 15 minutes to her commute, but she didn’t have to worry about double-locking her windows and keeping her gun within reach of her bed anymore. Her son could also go to a much better school. All it took was to wait for her boss to finally retire. It was time for younger folks to take up the mantle. It was now her time to shine.

Life · Writing

Yep, It’s February

Well hello folks. New month, new entry, per tradition. Really, I should post more often, but sometimes things just get in the way. Plus, it’s not like every day there’s some major crises like Insurrection or Second Impeachment and the like. “May you live in interesting times” really is the worst curse ever.

Anyway, I just want to give a general update on my life right now. The first month of 2021 has passed and I used most of it to basically establish a routine – writing, skincare, chores, everything. Of course I hit snags when I just was not up for it, which was kind of excusable considering the turmoil that happened in the US, but just barely. I had no excuse not to work as much as I could the past couple of days, for example, except I just really didn’t feel like it. I did finally give my bedroom a thorough dusting. It lead to many more chores, however, now that I took a proper look at the mess the house has become over the past few years. I know we accumulate stuff just from living, but there’re surely ways to organize things better. I’m not going to Marie Kondo everything, but at least I should clear all the papers from all the surfaces (and they’re literally on ALL the surfaces) so I could give that a thorough dusting too. I mean I don’t think I’ve seen the top of the living room coffee table for a long time. So, yeah, more to add to the to-do list.

I feel relatively okay when it comes to work, surprisingly. I’ve been keeping more or less on track with writing, and I feel like I got a little more done each week that passed. It’s like I’m starting as an overweight person trying to run for the first time in years. Of course it’s going to be slow and miserable and sporadic the first 100 miles (aiming for 1 mile a day as the metaphor). But as I build more muscle I can run faster. Same thing with writing. I’m not working as much as I want right away, but it’ll build upon itself, so eventually I’d be able to actually keep a consistent schedule. The pitfall is stopping. And yes, your body needs at least 1 day of rest a week if you exercise regularly, so I carried that over to my writing too. Five days of work and then one day of break. I found that if I take more break days I tend to just, well, get lazy and not do anything for more days. So I have to keep up the momentum. That’s the goal of this month – keep going, and see how far I can run.

Life · Writing

The Last Month

It’s December, y’all! I hope you had a good, safe Thanksgiving, and are keeping up with the safety precautions for the Christmas holidays, too. We had a tiny Thanksgiving dinner – small 12 lb smoked turkey, stuffing, asparagus, cornbread, and cranberry sauce just for my husband and I. (No dessert, but I think next year we might change that. I did miss having a good slice of pie at the end.) We invited no one and zoomed with my parents, who also invited no one and had an even smaller Thanksgiving dinner. None of us have plans for Christmas either, so with the crazy rising cases, I think we’ll be relatively okay.

I feel like this month is akin to whatever that’s going on in the White House right now, i.e. a transition period to 2021. I cannot wait for this horrid year to be over, and mentally I am already in next year mode, even though I still have a full 31 days to slog through. I started using the Hobonichi Techo I bought already, as its calendar starts in December of this year, and I’m pretty delighted. It’s going to be solely a work journal – I’m keeping a separate bullet journal for all the life things, including my endless journey to getting pregnant via IVF. I will start that again next year, after I get my flu shot and depends on distribution rate, the Covid vaccine. I am an avid pro-vaccine person, but I’m not going to get this fast-tracked vaccine if I get pregnant, because it definitely has not been tested on any pregnant women. Anyway, I bought a new nuuna journal for next year. That format is perfect for my bujo needs, and since I want something cheerful, I bought this super colorful one. Gives me a little more optimism, and god knows we all need more of those.

This month is also for me to catch up, writing-wise. I have not gotten much work done in November due to election, miscarriage, holiday preps, etc. Hell, I didn’t even get any fun things done because of those. And no, I’m not proud of that. So December is for resting and re-energizing. I will take care of myself physically and mentally, and I will have more dedication, more drive, to work. Yes, it’s going to be hard, but I believe I can do it. Of course I’ll keep y’all up to date on whether I succeed. Does this count as a new year resolution already? No matter. Everything in my life is a marathon, not a sprint, and so many things are out of my control that worrying, or even planning, is mostly useless. So why give myself anxiety? If I just keep on trucking regardless of what happens, I believe I will get far, even though it doesn’t feel like it any one day of the week.

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #2

Wow, it has really been a while since I attempted this, huh? Time to pick this up again, and hopefully make it a habit.

Photo Prompt:

© Dale Rogerson

The Wait

It’s stopped snowing but Jessi still haven’t left the house. She can see the bench where Stephen’s supposed to be, but he’s nowhere in sight. He’ll show up, she thinks. He’s a little scatterbrained but there’s no way he’ll forget her birthday.

She shuffles her feet as she keeps looking out the window. Her red jacket and matching boots are ready by the door, and she’s already clutching the housekeys. He’s only five minutes late; no big deal. Stephen is always running behind anyway. Surely he’ll show up, and they’ll go out to dinner, and everything will be fine. Really.

Work · Writing

A Case of the Mondays, on Tuesday

I’m feeling super unproductive today. The most appropriate phrase would be I’m ‘having a case of the Mondays,’ except it’s 5 o’clock on Tuesday, because my weekend was Sunday and Monday, because I actually worked a “normal workweek” and decided yes, I do need two days off just like everybody else that’s toiling away do.

Why is this significant? Well, this is the first time in a long, long time, that I actually took two days off. As in, I did the work I’m supposed to do, and in the two days that followed, not only did I not do work, I also didn’t worry about work. It was utterly and completely freeing, and I haven’t had that feeling in so long that I really don’t remember the last time that happened. Every day I spend either working but agonizing over that I’m not doing enough, or getting completely burnt out and unable to work and then agonizing over the fact that I’m not working. Every. Single. Damn. Day. For the past however many months – years even. I seriously do not remember how it felt to…not do that. To be honest it was a pretty weird experience for me the past two days. Like, the lack of pressure was so new that I have no idea what to make of it. Good thing I’m seeing my therapist tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll have loads to talk about over this.

I got out of the cycle because I had to submit to my writer’s group last Saturday, so I basically worked nonstop until I finally deemed my submission “good enough,” which was around 11 pm Saturday night. After that I just crashed. But the point is that I was done and more or less satisfied with what I needed to do, which was new, and so the days that followed were spent at peace instead of in mental agony. I’m hoping to keep this up – not that I’ll work nonstop or anything, but that I will keep a manageable schedule and take regular number of days off. And keep that up. Because it’s the only healthy way forward, I think. I’ve been mired in an unhealthy mindset for so long that to get a breath of fresh air is almost too overwhelming.

This doesn’t help today, though. I’m supposed to get back to work but I’m procrastinating like no tomorrow. The only difference is that I think I’m experiencing what normal people with a normal job feel like on a normal Monday, not what a depressed person feel like on, well, any day really. But let’s not jump the gun. I’ll update on how my therapist interpret this later. Right now, I just need to get back to work!

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #1

Yep, continuing to do this now. Should be fun. I really need the accountability and the practice. There’s just something about having to post at a certain time to keep me…writing? Creating? Freaking out less? Either way, wow, more rusty than entry #0 if possible. And I’ve decided I should make an account just so I can be part of a community – ish. Might offset the perils of social quarantining for the past (and future) months.

Photo Prompt:

© Jan Wayne Fields

Closure

She stares at the hat stand in the small shop. It’s such an obvious tourist trap, with price marked up by at least 200%, yet she is contemplating a purchase. She’s always preferred physical souvenirs to Instagram memories. The handful of black sand from the volcanic beaches of Hawaii lets her relive her honeymoon. A colorful, cheaply made hat from a beachside shack in Samoa marks her first trip alone after a messy, emotional divorce.

She buys one with a neon bright print. It will sit on the shelf next to the black sand. A suitable bookend for that affair.

Work · Writing

How Would You Know If You Don’t Try?

I am having some serious issues concentrating on work these past few days. I don’t know if it’s fatigue or anxiety or what have you, but I’ve got no motivation to do work. I mean, so what else is new, but instead of pure panic I just feel demotivated and drained. I’m not fearful of my work, at least I don’t think, but regardless I’m still not working due to… depression? Boredom? Fatigue? I really don’t know.

It doesn’t help that I’m submitting some chapters for my writer’s group’s upcoming April meeting. (Don’t worry, it’ll be via digital means; we’re not going to someone’s house like we usually do.) I was hoping to submit 2-3 chapters but at the rate I’m writing them now it might not even be one. I’ve half a heart to cancel my submission already because I’m afraid I won’t have enough time to make it “good enough.” But you know, I still have two solid weeks to drum out a single chapter, at the most, and since I haven’t even started, how do I know I won’t have enough time? My fear of that deadline is creeping on me. Maybe that’s why I’m dragging my feet? Kind of like giving up before I fail rather than trying to win and then fall short. Ugh, yeah, I think that’s it. Well, the only solution is to stop scaring myself silly or give in to depression, but instead pick up my busted ass and try.

Didn’t mean to turn this into a semi random peptalk. On another unrelated, much lighter note, Amazon delayed my Animal Crossing: New Horizon copy by a week, so I just canceled it and opted for digital instead. It’s all ready and pre-loaded for release day (midnight tonight), which makes me happy, although I’m not going to actually start playing until tomorrow. Why? Because it’s in real time, so all the stores and other things are closed at night. (Yes, they have an overnight box but it’s not quite the same feel). I rather just play it 10 hours later when I wake up and am refreshed, and it’s beautiful daylight in the game, too.

Work · Writing

Depression Comes in All Different Sizes

I took a look at my bullet journal work log yesterday, and found out that I worked so little that I should be ashamed of myself. Granted, I had a few other things on my mind this past month but the amount of work I didn’t do was atrocious. I’m glad I looked, though, because it basically gave me a kick in the teeth about how much I’m not getting done, so now I know to get down and do it. Seriously. Sometimes I really hate the way I don’t operate correctly, like a robot stuck on a loop of non-productivity.

Depression is a crazy thing, eh? I know there are folks are so depressed that they don’t feel like doing ANYTHING, like not even getting out of bed. I don’t think that’s how depression ever manifested in me except for like a very short period of time. My depression seems to manifest so that I struggle to do creative work, which is devastating for someone who writes fiction for a living. I’m functioning in life, but not functioning at work, and I don’t know how to deal with that. They say that insanity is the process of doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Well, I want different results certainly, but I also feel like I’ve tried different tactics and none are giving me that. I guess the best way now is just to pick the one that works the best, even if it’s like at 25% instead of 100%, but hey, it’s better than 0%, and go from there. For me personally it’s setting a time (like 3 hrs every day or something like that) and stick to schedule. (And also avoid all procrastination websites like Reddit, which I actually did alright on.) It worked for at least a few days in the past, so maybe this time I just need to keep it going every day, like a recovering alcoholic who’s struggling to stay sober, one day at a time.

If I have a 3D printer I might just print some imitation AA tokens but for writer’s block. Or rather, working block – and see if I can get myself to not fall off the wagon. Because hell I’ve tried everything else.

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #0

I’ve done Friday Fictioneers on other blogs before, and then stopped when I switched blogs or just didn’t feel like doing it anymore. Basically you write a short fiction of 100 words based on a weekly prompt. Now I’ve decided to pick it back up but there’s apparently a new system of posting links? It required me to sign up and all that so I didn’t bother with it last week. But I did write an entry, so I’m just going to post it here all by my lonesome. I’ll try to do it properly this upcoming week, but no promises.

And like I said, it’s been a while, so I may be very, very rusty.

Photo Prompt:

© Ted Strutz

A Prickly Narrator

I found a box of old photographs at my neighbor’s yardsale. “It’s not for sale,” she explained, “but sure makes a pretty centerpiece, no?” I’d only spoken with her a handful of times, so who am I to judge what she deemed as appropriate deco?

“Lemonade?” she offered me, and I said sure. It was too sweet, but I didn’t complain, only looked at the collection of knickknacks that littered her lawn. Compared to those the photographs were practicaly pristine, the only things worth any value.

“It’s not for sale,” she insisted. That just made me want to ask more.