Somebody take me away . . . I need a holiday.

I wish I could sequester myself away from everything for two weeks. Imagine how much I could get done without any of the regular distractions!

I took a personal day today (booked it off last week), in part to attend a meeting about my daughter’s psychometric assessment and in part because I needed the boost. I’ve been hitting another wall, which is typical for this time of year, and if I don’t use the personal days, I lose them anyway. But I had hoped to use my day to accomplish some things while the kids weren’t at home, and guess what? I slept instead. Went to the metting, came home, conked out until lunchtime. Ate lunch and then napped again. As a consequence, I now have a bit more energy and patience than I might normally have at this time of night, which is good for getting things done.

But that would have to include not keeping up with two separate conversations at once.

I might be able to do some cleaning (other than the lizard’s tank). I could see doing that. However, it gets incredibly frustrating trying to clean while carrying on two separate conversations. Better to wait until the kids are in bed.

I just worry about the vicious cycle starting again: staying up too late in an effort to get things done, tackling overdue tasks, and then being dependent on coffee throughout the next day, crashing after work, only to scrampble to have patience and energy after the nap. This seems to be the story of my life.

School things to do:

  • marking
  • lesson planning
  • exam development (although that might mean just tweaking last year’s, or last semester’s)
  • writer’s craft anthology is ready to compile

Home things to do:

  • finish reading / checking the proof of Crystal and Wand, which should have been done two weeks ago (sincerest apologies to my publisher)
  • organize / sort stuff to be put away in the living room
  • sweeping and washing floors (or enabling kids to do that, once the floors are fully accessible)
  • garden planning (and I have to pick up top soil and compost, young plants, and do the weeding)
  • memorizing lines for The Comedy of Errors
  • planning a (potential) book release party
  • supervise sorting and folding of laundry . . . and the putting away of the laundry
  • supervise cleaning of the bathrooms
  • repair the torn cushion of our couch (thanks, Skittles!)
  • help Bridget to finish sewing her skirt and her doll clothes
  • sort and purge files
  • remove the thick layer of dust that is on everything that doesn’t get used frequently
  • budgeting and paying bills (SOOO close to having another loan paid off!)

The trouble with these lists is that a) they’re fairly perpetual, and b) even when I make a list of things to do, all it results in is pissing me off because I can’t get all the things done. I’ve been trying to focus on the priority issues, but that changes day to day. I try to focus on getting one thing done, and that helps. But then I feel pathetic for not being able to do more.

Imagine if we had a second Spring Break in May. That would mean having exams a week later, OR starting school a week earlier, at the end of August. I could really do with that change in schedule. I could do with a lot of things, though. Like a professional organizer. More storage. A system of labeled bins and drawers and shelves for all the stuff that gets left out all over the place. A place to exercise, so I can be physically healthier, too, without taking too much time away from the other stuff. I need a plan so I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.

I am going to make a cup of tea and then try to tackle something else in the living room. Hubby’s out for the evening at a meeting, so this might be a good time to clean a bit. Clean, or proofread. A bit of both?

Update: I have made progress on my proofreading! And I feel like I’ve got some momentum, now. I’m at the 34th page of 275 (pg 28 of the story), but I’m going to make myself stop for the night to make sure I’ve got enough energy for classes, etc. But progress is good!

A leap forward in making use of time

I broke my Saturday pattern today! Didn’t quite shatter it, but made a significant improvement in my usual list of activities, and without having to leave town to do it. Here’s what I did:

  • weeded the front garden
  • sorted three piles of mail
  • organized the vestibule
  • had two naps
  • took the dog and the daughter for a walk to buy garbage bags
  • put away the winter extension cords

There were quite a few other things I wanted to get done, but I count it as a victory that I didn’t sleep half or most of my day away. It helped that my son had to go to a karate workshop at 10 am, so I had to get up at a reasonable time to get him moving, too. And that the sun came out at 11 am, warming it up enough outside to be comfortable. 

I’m always so torn, at this time of year, between being outside as much as possible and using the sunlight to fuel spring cleaning on the inside. There isn’t enough time for both. I want my house to be aesthetically pleasing, as well as clean and organized, but that’s a losing battle. The outside is much easier to manage. It’s just dirt, weeds, and whatever useful plants I put in the ground. And dog poop, but I can handle that. On the inside, there’s the piles of laundry that never seem to end, the stacks of mail that ought to be sorted and filed (I’m sharing that blame with the hubby, because he’s just as bad as I am with opening and filing envelopes. I don’t open his correspondance, and he doesn’t open mine, so between the two of us, there’s a healthy pile of paper to manage!), and all the other stuff that adds up to clutter. 

The good news, though, is that my Bridget is getting better at helping out! She cleaned up her crafting mess this afternoon, without having to be told a second time, and she started cleaning her room (with the help, and perhaps urging, of her little friend Jason). And I have a promise from Jack to sort and fold ALL of the laundry this weekend for some spending money for his upcoming grade 8 trip to Toronto. I also surprised the heck out of myself on Friday evening by vaccuming the couch and finally putting the cushion covers back on — although I can’t find one of them in the laundry pile . . . Remember what I said about the losing battle, though? It’s not just the two-legged family members who are responsible for that. I found a bag of cookies (hard as a rock) and a bag of mashed-up hamburger buns in the couch, and the next morning, when I started on the love seat, I found a — wait for it — stick of butter buried between the cushion and the arm. And it’s not the first time Skittles has buried butter in the couch! But, still, we are making progress — Jack is helping out by cleaning up whatever mess the dog has made when he gets home, though I still have to ask him to do so 75% of the time. Baby steps, right?

Tomorrow, I have a meeting at 12 that will last most of the afternoon. My mission is to get more cleaning done inside and weed another patch of garden. Plus I have my marking, and I have to wrap up the edits / proofreading that are taking me far too long on Crystal and Wand — that latter has been a real struggle to complete. Doesn’t help that I’ve had more days lately where I can’t sit or stand comfortably for more than a few minutes, but the regular visits to the chiropractor are helping with that, little by little. I used a chair to help me with the weeding today, but I found that I couldn’t do much more than 20 minutes without pain. It’s hard to focus on certain things when you’re hurting. For my friends with chronic pain isues — I know I don’t have it as badly as you do, but over the last month or two, my understanding has definitely increased. 

So, goals are set and I will work on being easier on myself for not getting all things accomplished. I feel like I should be some kind of Super Woman, and it’s hard to accept that I am not. Would be much easier to be resolved either way, though.

On catching up with regular life…

Mentioned to hubby today that I wish I were more self-sufficient. Better at recycling (sadly, there is little evidence that our municipality does anything with our recycling, save storing it at the landfill) — I’d like to be better at repurposing, doing things with the stuff I’ve saved for the reason of making crafts and whatnot, making my own paper and improving my garden, etc. 

All of that requires me to get off my ass and DO . . . when all I want after work every day is to crash. 

Case in point: I’d planned to do so much with my day today, cleaning out the garden beds or tidying up the clutter indoors, and I got none of it done. I slept or snuggled with my hubby for most of the day, which felt good after so many stressful days in the past few months, but also left me feeling guilty. 

Tomorrow, there must be no laziness. I’ve got a play read through at noon, and it would be nice to head to that with other chores accomplished. 

I wish that I could get one of those professional organization shows to come up here. That would be so cool.

Spring Break is upon me . . . 

As always, my list of things-to-do is easier to visualize than it is to carry out. Cleaning happens far more effectively in my head than in reality. I have a bag full of marking, a house full of clutter, dog hair, and a mountain of laundry. 

But it’s spring break! It’s nearly warm enough to throw the windows open and air the house out! The ski hill has special hours, and Cinderella is playing at the movie theatre in Timmins. Laser tag beckons! Sewing projects that need finishing . . . swag needs ordering . . . bills paying . . . packages to mail and phone calls to make . . . Really, the only difference between a regular work week and this one is that I don’t have to stand up in front of groups of teenagers three times a day and get them to do learning tasks. I only have to deal with one and a half — my own son and daughter.

I could make a long list of priorities, but I know what needs to be done. Sometimes those lists are discouraging because of the number of things that DON’T get completed. 

Here’s what I see myself accomplishing this week. Theoretically, the chore stuff should be tackled first so that a clean house can be enjoyed for the remainder of the time, but then again, all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.

Monday — medical and hair appointment phone calls, shopping for necessities (including crickets for Elizabeth), arrange for diagnostic / cleaning / repair of my MacBook — and if required, shipping it off — sweeping and mopping, finish marking Writer’s Craft stories (ooh, and all the other marking too — wouldn’t that be ideal? To get the marking out of the way?), work on something creative (snowmobile story, knitting, helping Bridget to finish her doll project — did I tell you that one of her little friends told her she should throw out the doll she made? So it doesn’t get up in the night and walk around and scare her? I reassured her, this doll won’t do any of that, because she made it herself. Silly little girls!)

I also need to see about my next tattoo (or current tattoo expansion), vacuum the couches, clean off the dining table so we can actually eat at it sometime like civilized people, look into the details of the trip to Ottawa ComicCon, plan a display at Merchant Mania, and determine how to attack promotions for my next novel, including contacting reviewers who enjoyed Book One: Wind and Shadow but who haven’t necessarily read Book Two: Blood and Fire, and who might want to look at a copy of the latter before Book Three: Crystal and Wand gets released later this spring. Part of me really wants to hire my publicist again, to save me time and energy, but my red-faced bank book is screaming at me to do it on my own so I can redirect my funds toward paying off one of my loans instead. (sigh)

Tuesday — The kids would like a trip to Timmins for laser tag and a movie (Cinderella! Dress porn, yeah!). I would also use the trip to purchase big pieces of foam so I can rebuild the cushions that Skittles has destroyed over time. Plus getting the cracked screen on my iPad repaired, seeing as I’m going to be using it for a while until my MacBook is functioning again (sob). This could also be done on Wednesday, and Tuesday could be Laundry Day.

Wednesday — The scaling of the Great Laundry Mountain! Not a pleasant task. It’s not just the strain of folding and sorting, which I find hard on my upper back and arms. Hubby has been using the deep fat fryer a lot — A LOT — lately. He’s opted to plug it in at the end of the kitchen closest to the window, although he hasn’t been actually opening the window for ventilation. Meanwhile, that’s the end of the kitchen which houses the washer/dryer, the dog’s cage, and the Great Laundry Mountain (on the dog’s cage — no, her hair doesn’t get on it). So aaaaallll of the laundry in the topmost layers of the mountain now stinks like fryer oil. This means that now I have to sniff test everything and rewash whatever stinks. As the good queen once said, “We are not amused.” (We, as in, me — apparently the man could care less. Grrrr . . .)

Thursday — Skiing! If we haven’t gone yet. What if we went skiing on Monday? Of course, the day at the hill means absolutely nothing gets accomplished at home. Either way, I’m going to end up feeling guilty and inadequate at handling all the parts of being a grown-up.

Friday — Yeah, honestly, I can’t see myself starting any projects on Friday. This will be my panic day, my dash of ice water as I realize that the break is coming to an end and I’ve only managed a quarter of what I set out to do. I should add going to the liquor store to my list on Monday. 

Saturday — More panic. I’ll have to remember to get the kids’ skates sharpened, the laundry pile will have reproduced, whatever mopping I managed will have disappeared into the ether as though it never happened, I’ll be racing to get through the marking I didn’t finish . . .

Sunday — I will sleep all day as an avoidance tactic, wake up to the horrible feeling that I’m not ready to go back to work, and play FaceBook games all night in self-loathing at not being able to complete my impossible list. Either that, or it will be the opposite: I’ll have developed a routine and be feeling great, in control and on top of the world for a fleeting space of time before the regular rounds of work and home and extracurriculars begin again, and whatever progress I’ve made slowly falls apart . . .

Spring Break, you are deceptive. You’re all, “Come here! No, go away.” Luring us in with false promises of relaxation and accomplishment; beckoning with fictions of new grass and fresh flowers, when we’re still surrounded by two feet of snow. But we love you. Because it is a BREAK, a chance to rest a bit and relax, enjoy the warming weather and slough some of the regular pressures as the pines and cedars are sloughing their blankets of white. I am just torn, as always, between doing what I think should get done — trying to meet some idealistic expectations of being a wife / mother /professional, and being realistic and accepting that I can only do so much. The problem is that with the latter, I just end up feeling lazy and not good enough. I want to be Leslie Knope and Mary Poppins and Laura Ingalls and Anne Shirley, all at once.