This week marks two months since we packed up all our worldly possessions and journeyed west to Oregon. It’s almost real now. At least, it’s taken me this long to relax. But I finally feel like I’m here, like I’m myself again. Between work and life and school before it, I can’t remember a time when I was truly self-directed, when I got enough sleep, when I didn’t sacrifice all my energy to the demands of uncaring systems. It took more out of me than I realized. Or at least I think that’s why the first month here was a blur of gratuitous sleep and wild disbelief.
(Upon doing the math, I realize that going from 5 hours of sleep a night to 8 is not “gratuitous,” but logical and healthy. Who knew?)
Once catching up on sleep was out of the way, I was able to find the rhythm of this remote work thing. I’ve been training my replacement and he’s catching on even faster than I expected, which alleviates a lot of my worry. Even with one foot out the door, even realizing just how much the job was taking out of me, the Internal Recon team is still my baby. No word on an official end date yet, but I’m willing to stay on and train/help/whatever out as long as they’re willing to keep paying me.
No complaints about the commute, either. It used to be that my alarm starting going off at 5am. After a few – or more than a few - snoozes, I’d stumble out of bed, rush through whatever stress-related horrors my IDB had in store, take a shower, do a perfunctory blow-dry before winding my damp hair into a clip, donning something business casual, lint-rolling off the affections of the dogs, cramming something quick and pre-packaged into my face, and then hurrying up to wait in traffic.
Now, my alarm goes off at 6:30. I roll to one side, grab my laptop, and answer any morning emails. I can take my sweet time in the bathroom if I need to, and then it’s time to migrate to the couch, start the coffee pot, and make myself breakfast. The height of professional fashion, I’m currently rocking an Avengers t-shirt and some rubber ducky PJ pants. Sounds like a lazy day, right? But it’s amazing how much more productive I’ve been. I’m comfortable, relaxed, and strangely less prone to snacking. At work, there was plenty of stress and plenty of trips past the communal candy bowl. Here, if I get restless, there’s writing or reading or taking a walk outside - so many other things that can give me a little break.
The other bonus is that my work laptop is still on Eastern time. I spend so much time staring at it that when 5:00 rolls around, it feels like 5:00. I’m still surprised every day when I realize that it’s only 2:00 Pacific time. Bonus afternoon! It used to be that I’d get home around 6pm – later if there were errands to run – decide whether to budget those 2-3 hours of free time for writing, reading, gaming, practicing instruments, or finding dinner… and usually end up spending them exhausted on the couch. Now, the end of the work day involves an afternoon trip to the store, taking the dogs for a walk, or venturing up into the mountains to explore. Bobby’s been good about getting me out every day. If it were up to me, I’d close one laptop and immediately open the other (maybe with a few rounds of Overwatch in between).
Writing has been going well. There’s a lot of work that goes into a developmental edit and I can finally apply the bulk of my focus where it needs to be. The new Treatment for Terminus has zeroed in on pacing, stakes, and theme, while the detailed outline is over 7K words. My editor has made some amazing suggestions, especially in regards to stakes, and the new direction is a tighter, more thrilling take on the same themes. It’s better than I could have imagined... like a professional novel or something! Heh.
While I wait for the green light on rewrites, I’ve been setting up some other irons in other fires. I’ve finally started organizing multiple drives full of projects, about a decade's worth of writing. Some of the contacts that I’ve made during the Terminus process want to see some of my other ideas, and now I know how to do a proper treatment! I’ve also picked a few magazines/sites with open submissions and am marshaling my portfolio of short stories. Obviously, Terminus is where my focus is (I’m hoping to hear the rewrite starting gun before November’s National Novel Writing Month kicks off), but my inability to sit still plus a sudden increase in free time is yielding all kinds of productivity!
And it’s not just writing. There are so many things that I want to do and experience, things that I just couldn’t squeeze into weekends or those few hours at night. I’m all over Duolingo – focusing on Spanish (37% “fluent”), brute-forcing the French placement tests with what I remember from high school (27%), brushing up my terrible German (11%) and exploring Russian. Yes, I am a nerd. I love words. In any language. Communication. Globalization. Human togetherness. That’s my jam.
My violin is in tune and getting noodled upon daily. My bass and cello are primed for the same. I’ve also been reading like a fiend. Finally digging into the projects of my fellow Inkshares authors, exploring both quantum physics and philosophies of the afterlife, and currently enjoying the hell out of an anthology of ancient Egyptian writings. Man, I’ve missed studying! My brain’s been in exhausted hibernation for far too long. It’s aliiiiiive!
Not to say that everything’s perfect. Life’s still throwing curve balls – just watch the news. Last week my Aunt Sue passed away. I’m so glad that I got to visit with her one last time in August but, having spent all of our money getting out here, I couldn’t afford to fly back for her funeral. Bobby still hasn’t found a job, though he's been selling off his massive video game collection and he has some good leads. We’re still okay, but his depression has been creeping in during the quiet hours. Both of us need to relearn how to breathe. My brain certainly keeps looking for things to reasons to freak out. But the day-to-day is so wonderfully soothing. We’re together, work is much improved, and possibilities are on the horizon. Even if the biggest adventure of the day is a trip to down to the store for dinner ingredients, and then writing while he cooks… well, that sounds like a damn good day.
Oh my gods, does this mean we’re old? I do like to eat on the early side. Or maybe being old just means finding your balance, taking responsibility for your own happiness. We’re certainly doing that.
This has been pretty boring as far as updates go, right? But that’s such a relief. You can take control. You can be happy. You can be self-directed. This is a thing that’s allowed. If anything, I hope that we’re proof that it’s possible.