Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Tuesday report

Yesterday the power washing of my house commenced. The house smells faintly of chlorine, which is (I think) what gets the mold off of the siding. The parts that are done so far look much worse than they did before the washing, but that's how it works -- everything gets cleaned up and then the new stain goes on. I'm very excited.

I could hardly sleep last night for thinking about my November novel. I finally settled down and almost fell asleep when my eyes suddenly popped open because I remembered I'm getting a new office and I just picked it out yesterday. Thinking about the novel had subsumed all other thoughts, but I'm also pretty psyched about getting an office with a door that closes and with two very large windows. And with an old-fashioned, gorgeous wooden desk. I've been editing in a cube for a year. I'll be in a different building, which will add some extra exercise to my life -- one of my friends said "it's not just work, it's a workout!"

That's all for now. Are you sure you don't want to write a novel in November???

Monday, October 29, 2007

Let's write a novel!

Oh, come on, it'll be fun! November is National Novel Writing Month, in which large numbers of people write 50,000 words in 30 days et voila! a novel! Or a lot of blather, or some combination of both.

I've never done it before, but this year it seems like just the ticket! Something creative to occupy me during the month of my birth. Perhaps it will delay my midlife crisis for 30 days or so...

You don't have to be good. You don't even have to think about whether or not you're good. You don't have to have an idea. You don't need a plot. You just write, a lot, for 30 days and at the end you see what you've come up with. You win if you just finish!

Here's the website to sign up:


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Peecture Sunday

Thought I'd share a few pictures today, while waiting for my organizer to come help me, uh, get organized.

I carry my camera with me everywhere; my purse is actually a camera bag cleverly disguised to look like a messenger bag.

This little guy was singing his heart out one windy morning near the hospital:

A week or two ago, there was a really beautiful sunset as I was leaving work. The first of these two pix has some strange artifacts in it -- I don't know what all those moon-like circles are. They are creeping me out a bit, and I realize that I am probably one crazy picture away from becoming a spiritualist...

This one shows the perfect little crescent moon:

Here is my little goofy dog, Max. It's unfortunate that he doesn't know how to chill out and relax:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Poll results: Favorite colors

A third of respondents picked blue, a third picked red, and a third picked other. I wonder what "other" is -- the little poll doodad won't let me have a fill-in answer, alas.

And when I say "a third" I mean one out of three, as in three people responded. Where's the love, people???

Friday, October 26, 2007

Simple pleasures and complicated feelings

I began the day feeling pretty upbeat. I was singing at the top of my lungs to the soundtrack of "Hairspray" and when I got to my parking spot, I bundled up and took out my umbrella. My umbrella is one of the best purchases I have ever made. I never had a really good one before -- two jobs ago, I worked in a place with an excess of cheapo, left-behind umbrellas so I used those, and then my last job had parking right outside the building, so I went on using a cheapo umbrella when needed.

I can't park near my current job, and I realized that if I was going to handle rainy days well at all, I was going to need a large umbrella, and being me, I was hoping to find a large AND pretty umbrella. I found just what I wanted at Studio Art in Charlottesville:

Isn't it purty, and cheery? This picture is actually of the compact version -- mine is hunormous, with a wooden structure/handle. It covers me completely, protecting my clothing and it can usually be held in the "Morton Salt Girl" position, unless the rain is going sideways or something:

So I was walking along this morning with my giant, cheery umbrella and enjoying the rain.

Once I was here, I saw a health news story that has me reeling. It's about serious mental illness shaving 25 years off one's life expectancy. 25 years! Most of the problem is the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The only link I have is to Medline which requires registration. It's worth registering there, in my opinion, to get up-to-date health information, but you can probably subvert them with bugmenot.

Anyway, since I already have high cholesterol keeping my depression company, I sent this link to my doctor in the hope that we start treating that aggressively, with medication. But with my 49th birthday looming, I am gloomily feeling that I may not have much more time here, and that scares me a lot! So that's where I am, heading into the weekend, which will probably be a combination of meditative rumination and running around appreciating every good and beautiful thing I see...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A leaky roof and another chemistry experiment

Yesterday I mentioned that the rain would be a good test for my new roof. The roof flunked. I got home to find a small amount of water on the floor. I didn't really panic per se, but I put a bowl under the leak and listened to the plunk, plunk of the water drops in a kind of vague stupor. Of course I called the roofer, and he said he would come out this evening. But instead he was there first thing in the morning (how am I going to get up in the morning when the workers have left???), saying that he couldn't sleep last night, it just didn't sit well with him, his roofs don't have leaks. He was really very sweet and conscientious. The leak was in an area that had plagued the owners before me -- and when he saw where it was, he said he knew what it was and went up and fixed it. It's still raining, so I'll see if it has stopped leaking when I get home.

My rheumatologist convinced me to try another NSAID, even though I had a severe allergic reaction to the last one I tried. She said that it was unlikely I would be allergic to all the different classes of NSAIDs, but I have to say I am scared. There are a lot of articles on the internet saying that if you've had a severe reaction to one, you shouldn't take any, but you know how the internet is. I myself sort of feel "better safe than sorry" but the dr wants to find something that will help with my chronic pain and I have to say that I felt great on the last NSAID right up to the point that I broke out in hives. So we'll see how this one goes.

I think we all have a natural fear of taking too many drugs and of being chemistry experiments... the dr had good reasons for prescribing this one and I hope she's right. I'll be pretty worried about it for the next week or so, though. I really don't think those "erythema multiforme" posts would make a good ongoing serial!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm not complaining!

Remember when I promised not to complain if it began raining when it came time to paint my house? I just want my props now because I am NOT complaining. We need the rain and the house can wait. The new roof is on -- it's a good test!

The painting contractor stopped by this morning so that we could sign the contract and I could pay him half the money in advance. With all the work going on, I'm getting very used to writing extremely large checks to virtual strangers. So if you want to stop by, you might be able to convince me to give you one.

Wednesday is Queenie's daycare day -- I love dropping her off and seeing her play with the other dogs. This morning she and a Golden Retriever were playbowing endlessly at each other and it was way cute.

That's all for now. I'm feeling shallow lately. I'll try to work up some deep thoughts for a later post.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A dreary day

How I wish the weather didn't affect me so much! But I found it hard to get out of bed this morning, hard to get motivated at work, hard to walk what with the aches and pains, plus I wish I could have stayed at home today enjoying MY NEW ROOF. I'm not posting pictures yet, because there's not *that* much difference between an old roof and a new roof, although there's no moss on this one and it will last until I'm 78 and it features the famed "architectural shingles" which I think is a hilarious term. Aren't most shingles architectural in nature? Why can't we just call these "especially nice looking shingles, featuring variations in color and texture"? Ok, that's a long phrase, but "architectural" just doesn't seem right. Despite their gorgeousness, no one gets to see the house until it is completely done.

The best part of living with animals (yes, another brilliant segue) is that no matter what kind of mood you are in when you wake up, you *will* laugh before breakfast. There was nothing too unusual this morning -- Rosalie almost hurled herself off the bed in an attempt to get me to pet her belly and soon Max will be jumping as high as my head while waiting for his meals -- but they're just fun and entertaining all the time.

Last night I finished "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England" and I highly recommend it, especially for those who read a lot or have studied literature. It was really funny and, while absurd, never descended into the incomprehensibly absurd as some writers tend to do. Warning: as a result of reading this book, you will feel that you are a bumbler. But do not be afraid, for it is the human condition.

Just started "Away" by Amy Bloom this morning and have enjoyed the first few pages and look forward to an evening of reading tonight. My current lunch-time book -- I keep an e-book on my Palm at all times -- is "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" and I can't believe I put off reading it until now. Somehow the reviews never made it sound as appealing as it actually is -- the main character is extremely appealing. And I keep laughing out loud in the cafeteria.

Well, I'm blogging myself right into a much better mood. I wonder why that happens... and whether it is at all connected to the delicious apple dumpling I had for dessert today.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The best alarm clock ever!

Nothing says "hey, it's time to get up and start the day" like people climbing on your roof and tearing off the shingles. The crew arrived at 7 am, making my actual alarm clock entirely superfluous. So that's all it takes, a crew of men tearing my house apart. I wonder if these guys can stop by every morning?

Not only did I get up at a reasonable hour, but I'm also having fun saying "calm down, it's not like the roof is falling!... oh yeah, it *is* falling!"

At last, the pressure is off

Reuters Health reports that "emotions do not affect cancer survival." Cancer patients can now feel free to experience their emotions, including depression, without feeling that they may somehow be making themselves worse. I'm happy to see this particular "mind over matter" myth debunked; we're humans and humans get sick and die. People can't think themselves well when stricken with a terrible disease, and it's a disservice to sick people to pretend that they can.

Friday, October 19, 2007

And last, but not least...

...Rosalie the cat! Aka "the Roser" and "Roosevelt." Here is a glamour shot, in which you can see how exceedingly pretty she is.

Rosalie lived the first three years of her life at Piedmont Virginia Community College, where she had a litter of kittens who I imagine were the cutest little things on earth. Rosalie eventually trusted the person from Animal Connections who was feeding her enough to jump into the person's car on a rainy night, whereupon she was taken to a fabulous foster home. I visited that home to find a cat after my dear Madeline died. I loved all the cats there and it would have been hard for me to decide, except that when I approached Rosie, she chirped at me. The foster care provider said "that's funny, she never talks to me!" I took her home, where she hid under the bed a lot of the time, as she wasn't quite tame. She was, in the way of cats, extremely curious though, so I lured her out with toys.

Here she is in vicious killer mode:

I have no doubt she could get a real mouse -- I'm sure she has, many times.

I had to go very slow with Rosalie and not get discouraged when she didn't warm up to me right away. I do have a lot of patience, though, and I understood why she was scared. She would let me scritch her ears a bit and pet her a bit, but it was months before she would sit in my lap and months after that when she let me pick her up. Now she is the sweetest, most loving, snuggliest cat in the world.

She still loves to play, and the chirp she gave me when we first met has been repeated zillions of times now. She'll chirp before coming to see me, and if I chirp she will trot over to see me. I really feel like she picked me, and I'm so glad she did.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The joys of being single

No, seriously. I woke up in a great mood this morning, despite more than usual morning achiness, the bad day of yesterday shaken off. And I experienced one of the great joys of being single this morning -- the ability to make decisions about one's living environment all by oneself. No consulting with others! No arguments! It's just between me and the Lake Monticello Environmental Control Committee. Oh yes, it sounds like it would be concerned about, you know, the environment around the lake but it is actually concerned with exterior home improvements around the lake.

I'm having my house painted! And a new roof installed! Despite the cost, which initially caused more dread than excitement, I am now happy to be making these changes. And despite the sarcasm about the LM ECC in the above paragraph, they like the colors I've chosen and I like the community aesthetic, so we get along pretty well.

The work starts on Monday, weather permitting -- the drought is permitting a lot of building and home improvement, but I *promise* not to be irritated if it ends just in time for my home project -- first the old shingles come off, and the entire outside of the house will be power-washed. I will post before and after pictures (I know what you're thinking, "at last, something to look forward to!") and possibly "during" pictures if they are interesting.

Anyway, I love having everything about my house, both inside and out, being just what I choose.

Poll results: Animals in the house

First off, we seem to have a little trouble with terminology. We are animals, people. Only 60% of you said that you had humans in the house. You're a human! Did I *say* "other humans"?? Ok, enough chiding.

80% of you said that you have one or more dogs, and 60% have one or more cats. 20% said they had one or more other non-human-canine-feline animals (I wonder what they are?). How lovely! For me, sharing my house with animals is what really makes it a home, even if some days I think:

1) I'm outnumbered!
2) Who let the dogs IN?
3) And there are days I go upstairs to hang with the cat, saying "please don't make me go out there with the dogs again!" This feeling always passes.

Yes, I was a cat person for many years before I got my first dog. Sometimes the dog rowdiness can overwhelm me, but not very often -- normally, I love it! But cats are quieter.

Thank you for responding to the poll. Don't forget to check out the new poll, whatever it may turn out to be.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bad dreams

When I have a bad dream at night, it seems to follow me around all day. I always try to think about it when I wake up, and analyze it, hoping that will neutralize it enough for me to proceed as usual. That often works. But last night I had a dream that was so vivid, and that touched upon such deep fears of mine, that I found myself unable to let go of it. I'll spare you the details, mostly because the dream took a rather disgusting graphic turn, so we'll just skip to the analysis, and it was really a dream about not feeling good enough. That fear that I haven't earned my place at the table, my place in the world. It also hinged upon a real-life dream, which I'm also not going to share, except to say that I ought to have given up on it a long time ago, because it's not going to happen, and that's been clear to everyone except me.

Realizing that a real-life dream is not going to happen and that your subconscious still thinks it's your own fault is a lot of weight to put on a typical day, and this day didn't really hold up under the strain. I just felt kind of blue and am glad to be at home, with the dogs and cat, and not out there in the world. I expect I'll feel better tomorrow, and be able to face the day more effectively and productively.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Animal week, now in its second week

It's not that I have *so* many animals; it's just that I only managed to post about two of them last week. Today I will introduce Max. All the animals have a million nicknames, but Max's are especially silly. Most often I call him Mooshla or Smooshla. Do not ask me why.

Max is a cute little Pomeranian who was found wandering somewhere in southwest Virginia, and then sent to my favorite local animal rescue group, Animal Connections. I had been joking around that, since I had a medium and a large black dog, I now needed a tiny one (as I refuse to go in the other direction and get a Newfoundland). And then I was checking the AC site and the dear mooshla popped up. I went to meet him at his foster home and this is what happened: I sat down in a chair, and he jumped onto my lap and immediately rolled over for belly rubs, gazing into my eyes. How could I fail to be charmed?

The above picture shows him in a rare, contemplative mood. Usually he is playing or performing the traditional dances of Pomerania. Here he is with his girlfriend, Queenie, in the middle of an intense bout of playing:

You can see that he gets quite vicious and eeevil at these times, and some have referred to him as Batdog. Here they are when all the excitement is over:

Max has really made our household complete. He walked in the door and immediately got along with everyone. He is very polite but also full of fun. He will play anytime anyone wants him to. He likes to fetch, which I discovered rather late in our acquaintance, since neither of the other dogs like to. My little friend Jules came to the house one day and threw a ball, which Z & Q ignored, but Max leapt after it and trotted right back with it. Now we try to play fetch every day, since he likes it so much.

Max grins all the time and to look at him is to laugh. Now that the weather is getting cool again, he has taken to sitting on my lap, and snuggling up if I'm lying on the sofa. For some reason his fur smells delightful and when we snuggle up, I feel sure it's good for my heart.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Creative women and authority

Someone posted this NY Times article on a newsgroup of which I'm fond (hint: it has to do with dogs!). It's a little sad to me that young women are still feeling this way, although I certainly empathize:

Midway through lunch one day a young woman asked me if I noticed a difference between the writing of men and the writing of women. The answer is no, but it’s a good question. A writer’s fundamental problem, once her prose is under control, is shaping and understanding her own authority. I’ve often noticed a habit of polite self-negation among my female students, a self-deprecatory way of talking that is meant, I suppose, to help create a sense of shared space, a shared social connection. It sounds like the language of constant apology, and the form I often hear is the sentence that begins, “My problem is ...”

Even though this way of talking is conventional, and perhaps socially placating, it has a way of defining a young writer — a young woman — in negative terms, as if she were basically incapable and always giving offense. You simply cannot pretend that the words you use about yourself have no meaning. Why not, I asked, be as smart and perceptive as you really are? Why not accept what you’re capable of? Why not believe that what you notice matters?

It was inspiring, though, as well -- because it made me want to move forward in life with more confidence and to believe that my vision matters. And so does yours!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A lazy Sunday post

I am sitting at my desk, puttering around on the internet, and came across an article that I realized was probably the most affirming thing I've read in years. I'm not going to tell you what it's about lest that put you off. Go read it, and remember what I always say: there is no right answer.

And when I say I am sitting at my desk, I mean that I have on a huge hooded sweatshirt (that my mortgage broker gave me) and some cozy fleece slippers (that my brother gave me) and I feel warm and happy. It's fall! My favorite season, long in coming this year. Here in Virginia, we usually get a month or more of divinely perfect weather during which neither the a/c nor the heat need to be on. The dogs and I are feeling bouncey!

And I believe I should leave you with a picture:

Ok, two pictures, of two lovely fountains at Maymont (I was having "black and white" week with my camera).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tagged by a meme!

June from Bye Bye Buy tagged me with a meme -- I'm a real blogger now! So here goes:

Jobs I've had:
1. Babysitter -- I was very popular and made a small fortune at this in high school. One of my families had a grand piano, so I would put the kids to bed as quickly as possible. One mother showed me where the wooden spoon was in case the kids got too rowdy. I didn't go back there.
2. Auctioneer's assistant -- My first full-time summer job, and an exciting one. We did estate auctions. I learned a lot about old glass and spoke with Helen Hayes on the telephone.
3. Child care worker -- My first grown up job, working in an institution for kids who had been removed from their homes by the courts. It was exhausting but very rewarding.
4. Secretary at a food brokerage -- We brokered food. I used a teletype machine. I could have made a fortune suing for sexual harassment, except we had never heard of sexual harassment at the time.

Places I've lived:
1. Lockport, NY, land of my birth
2. Garrison, NY
3. Boston, for college the first time
4. Salt Lake City, where I went as a Mormon and left as a heathen

Food I love:
I think you can see from this list that I am a major gourmet, major!
1. Cake
2. Ice cream
3. Baba ghanoush
4. Doritos -- Cool Ranch! Nothing else will do!

Websites I visit:
1. Chickarina
2. The Happiness Project
3. Reuters Health News
4. Cute Overload

Places I'd rather be:
1. At home -- this is true about 90% of the time.
2. Flying
3. In a pool or hot tub
4. Paris

Movies I love:
1. It's a Wonderful Life (I'm a sap.)
2. Ordinary People (Not a good thing to mention to someone you don't know.)
3. LA Story (I'm a sap.)
4. Chariots of Fire (I like to feel inspired, even though I can't run anymore.)

TV shows I watch:
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. How I Met Your Mother
3. Ugly Betty
4. Dirty Sexy Money (it's not my fault, I'm being compelled to watch it by Peter Krause!)

People I tag:
Don't hate me for this, and don't feel compelled either.
1. Chickarina
2. The Boomer Chronicles
3. Catch Her in the Wry
4. I don't even know anyone else to tag, how sad is that???

Whew, that was exhausting! But I feel that I've undergone some rite of passage.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Poll results: Perfectionism

The results are in! None of you would admit to being total control freak perfectionists. I know they exist, but I guess none of them are reading my blog, which probably makes sense -- although 16% said they would like most things in their life to be perfect.

Two-thirds of you said that you like a few areas of your life to be perfect, such as work. WELL, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. Ok, I'm kind of kidding. But I hope you are letting yourselves off the hook when you or your coworkers make mistakes, because it's bound to happen, and perfectionism at work can cause a lot of stress. Still, I do think it makes sense to try to do your best at work.

16% also said they didn't worry too much about being perfect. Slackers! (Again, just kidding.)

Thanks so much for taking the poll!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My big girl, Queenie

This is Queenie. She just ran into our yard one day. It turned out that she belonged to a neighbor, who after a while decided he didn't want her anymore. She and Zoe got along great, and it was love at first sight for me, so she came to live with us.

Note the goofy expression, long snout, and ridiculous ears. Her mother was a Golden Retriever, believe it or not. Her father is unknown, but I think there's Border Collie in there. Queenie is exceedingly happy-go-lucky. She's up for anything and loves to play.

In the next picture, she had a few things to tell me. She's very talkative. She's the only one of my dogs whom I've been able to teach to "speak."

Here she is rolling around on her back and playing. She is tall and slender and I love seeing her stretched out like this.

And this one is a quiet moment -- you can see how gorgeous she is in this picture.

Queenie was a handful when I first got her. Her previous owners had let her run wild, and she had never really bonded with them. As a result, she took a while to bond to me, but now she's very attached and frequently comes to me for loves or to play. She has a boundless, infectious enthusiasm for life and the world around her. If I need a pick-me-up, all I have to do is look at her and she will grin at me.

Queenie goes to day care once a week at All Things Pawssible -- it's a great place for dogs with lots of energy -- she meets up with her buddies for an entire day of playing, and she loves it. If you have a high energy dog whom you just can't seem to exercise enough on your own, I highly recommend day care -- although of course it's great for any dog who loves to play!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Animal week

This week I thought I'd introduce my pets, for those who don't know them. I would be lost without them. They are all very dear to me and I wanted to write about them, beginning with Our Lady of Perfection herself, Zoe.

Come on, how pretty is she? She's my gorgeous girl. I got her as a puppy from the SPCA. She is half cocker spaniel and half chow chow, so I like to refer to her as a cockerchow -- but she's not a so-called "designer dog," but rather part of an "oops" litter. She is sweet as pie and is completely devoted to me. She's a one-person dog who would never let me out of her sight if she had her druthers. She loves other people once she gets to know them, and she likes goofy, playful dogs who bow down to her need to be alpha, such as her "siblings," Queenie and Max.

Here she is with one of her favorite small people. Zoe believes she has a mission to kiss every child on the planet, and she's a stealth kisser. We'll be standing there, a child will be petting her, she seems perfectly calm and then suddenly swoop! She jumps up and kisses the child on the cheek. I have tried to stop her from doing this but to no avail, so now I warn the kids in advance. They always laugh when it happens.

The little girl in this picture once offered me money for Zoe, or she said I could just give her Zoe after she (the girl) grows up. From her mouth to God's ears.

Zoe loves to play and romp around. Here she is enjoying a fall day out in the yard -- last fall, that is, it's still summer here now, alas.

Zoe has a great sense of humor and likes to play tricks on me and her pack. Once, before we had Max, she and Queenie each had a new nylabone. Zoe decided that Queenie's bone was better and she wanted it, so she walked over to Queenie and stood there. Queenie ignored her. Then Zoe went over to the window and barked. Queenie got up to see what was outside, whereupon Zoe ran over and started chewing on Q's bone.

She and I have a game where we stalk each other, or really, get close to each other and then freeze and stare at each other. The first one to move "loses" but lots of love and hilarity ensues. She also likes to go into another room and bark until I come in to see what's wrong. There's nothing wrong -- Zoe is sitting there wagging her tail and grinning.

She's clever, smart, funny, protective, and well-behaved. She is all I could ever hope for in a dog.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

When loneliness rears its ugly head

As a favorite person of mine used to tell me "you are a human being with the full range of human emotions." I needed to be told this because I used to judge my emotions and blame myself for having any "negative" ones.

So, having the full range of human emotions, I sometimes feel dreadfully lonely. I try to remind myself that everyone feels that way sometimes, whether they live with other people or not. But since I live alone, I tend to think that's why I'm lonely.

I also remind myself that it's good that I'm not afraid to be alone -- I think that many people are afraid of loneliness and thus avoid being alone. That's not a problem I have. I'm not afraid of loneliness, but I don't like it when I experience it.

I was feeling lonely and jealous the other day when I heard a doctor talking lovingly to his significant other on the phone. It wasn't smarmy or sexy, just very loving and kind. And suddenly I was feeling a strong desire to be in a loving relationship and a lot of sadness that I wasn't.

Naturally, this feeling, like all other feelings (for better or for worse) passed in time, and not very much time at that. I've spent time with friends this weekend, both in person and on the phone and through email, and I don't feel lonely anymore.

It's easy to blame my single status for feelings of loneliness, which is a short jump to blaming myself for my single status. But I think that's an error in logic, and also it's railing against unavoidable circumstances in life. I don't have an intimate relationship in my life right now, but I do have close friends and the animals I live with, who provide nurturance and comfort and who are all very dear to me. Everyone feels lonely sometimes, but it's a feeling that passes and doesn't have to be feared or avoided.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sleep, depression, Peter Krause, and procrastination

I know what you're thinking: what an ambitious topic! I can't wait to see what this is all about!

Ok, after sleeping for 10.5 hours for 3 days straight, I think this just isn't working. I mean, I do feel well-rested! And I don't feel groggy or anything. It's just that after sleeping that long, then putting in 8.5 hours at work, and my 1.5 hour round trip commute, there's just not much time left. And I really don't like that. Plus, I was thinking that I cut back too radically when I tried the 7 hour/night plan. Now I am going to try cutting back gradually and see how it goes. I'm going to start by RADICALLY cutting back to *9* hours per night, and then each week cut back by 15 minutes, with the goal being to get down to 7 hours, or to find some kind of happy medium that works for me. I'll keep reporting. Part of the problem that I haven't addressed on the blog before is kind of fundamental (and a bit scary to confess): I have depression and I need to take sleep meds in addition to antidepressants. And the sleep meds account for the morning grogginess if I get up "early," i.e., before I've slept for 10.5 hours. This is a constant source of tension for people with depression. The meds allow for a superficially normal life, but still leave one with other difficulties. But hey, at least I *am* getting up in the mornings, which is an improvement over the past.

And fall brings the beginning of the unfortunately acronymed SAD, seasonal affective disorder. Most people with depression have a problem during the winter. Mine starts when the light starts changing and hits its peak at the solstice -- then improves as the days grow longer again.

On less weighty subjects, I mentioned in an earlier post that I was afraid to finish Six Feet Under, because how would I live without Peter Krause in my life? And then I discovered he has a new show on ABC, Dirty Sexy Money (I just typed "Monday" -- don't you wish Mondays *were* dirty and sexy?? oh, maybe for some of you they are...). I've seen both episodes and I'm not too sure it's going to last. Anyone else watching this show? What do you think of it? It could be one of those shows that's kind of a mess at the beginning and then grows on you, which is how I felt about Studio 60 last year, but of course the networks don't tend to like that kind of show...

I had another good non-procrastinating day on Thursday, and I'm feeling really good about that. I hope I can build on these good feelings so that this habit becomes ingrained. One place I often fall down is needing to think about things, to let them percolate. That technique is necessary for some projects, and it doesn't really happen if I'm working on another project that's fully occupying my mind. I'd be interesting in hearing how other people deal with this aspect of work. I'm thinking that I could just sit and stare at the problem, forcing myself to think about it, thus perhaps speeding up the process, but I have often found that not thinking about a problem for a day or 2 is the most efficient way to solve the problem! It's a pair-o-ducks, I know...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A new resolution

So I tried something new today at work -- monitoring and cutting back my web browsing time. It's just too easy to get carried away and the internet is too great a distraction from work. I decided I would have timed internet breaks, and only a few of those. I am happy to report that it worked very well. I usually have to have a web browser open to use PubMed and my online dictionary, but I closed any personal tabs, including my personal email and also my newsreader.

I found that during my internet breaks I was very focused and discerning about what I wanted to read -- much more selective and less of an information junkie. Although I kind of like that I'm an information junkie, it really isn't good to be pursuing one's personal goals on the job, unless they pertain directly to that job. I am an absolute Googling wiz -- but there's only so far that skill will take you in life. And I'm sure it's good to stay in touch with housing trends by browsing property online, but I can do that on my own time.

I wound up getting a lot more done than on those days when I let myself be distracted. I had one paper that I really had to buckle down and concentrate on, and this was at the end of the day and I was sorely tempted to procrastinate. But then I put on my headphones, played some white noise (tip: do not accidentally refer to this as "white music" in public), and edited some pages. At the end of the day, I felt productive and invigorated.

Well, the invigoration might have been because I had 10 hours of sleep last night. Yes, I'm still sleeping as if I am sleep-deprived. I think I just need a lot of sleep.

The capstone on my good day was meeting my neighbor's new beagle puppy. She is exceedingly cute and friendly and active and we had fun. Puppies next door are the bestest -- easily accessible, without the responsibility!

Sleep poll results

The most recent poll on this website asked "How much sleep do you get?" as an adjunct to my sleep experiment. The results are in! 44% said that they didn't get enough, while 33% said they get just the right amount. 11% said they got way too much sleep, and 11% felt the question was too personal.

See how I made those results fascinating? I used to write and edit reports like that all the time in my last job.

Don't forget to vote in this week's poll, whatever it turns out to be...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Perfectionism and its evil twin

I was thinking last night about the name of this blog, and how I bet a lot of people expect it to be about problems with perfectionism, or at least a blog by a perfectionist. I really did come up with the name because I had been calling Zoe dog OLOP, but it's true that perfectionism has bedeviled me ever since I was raised by a perfectionist.

Most people react with surprise when I say I have problems in this area: "Wait, you think *you're* a perfectionist??" That's because perfectionism walks hand in hand with its evil twin, fear of failure. And these two little monsters conspire to turn a certain subset of perfectionists into procrastinators.

My recent career change -- editing for a living -- was a definite move into a field that demands a person to be nitpicky about language and grammar. I am trying to get all the errors out of a document so that it can be perfect. Luckily, I'm pretty well-suited to this task -- and yet I still freeze up totally when confronted with a new project. It's a terrible vestigial feeling that I haven't been able to shake my entire life: "what if this time, I just can't do it? what if this is the project that shows me to be a complete fraud?"

I was thinking about this last night because I received a really great performance evaluation, which I'm not telling you in order to brag (ok, maybe just a little) but to show that I am good at my job and yet I still have these fears of failure. It's as if failure is lurking around every corner.

This isn't a post with a lot of answers. It's a topic I expect to explore more as time goes on. Usually, when procrastination rears its ugly head, I try to somehow muster the strength to just start the project, which in itself is the hardest part! Once I've started, I'm more than halfway there. More on this in later posts.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Sleep experiment goes awry

My 7 hours per night sleep experiment went all to hell last night.

I thought I might have some trouble on the weekend, because I have a deep-seated resentment of the alarm clock. And on Saturday morning, I turned off the alarm and woke up one hour later, getting 8 hours of sleep. I didn't think that was too bad.

Saturday night I fell asleep in the den and just decided to stay there (I was on a futon, which was pretty comfortable). I woke up naturally at 7. I thought that was very interesting, as 7 is the time for which my alarm is set.

Last night I was exhausted. I decided to go to bed early and set my alarm for 6 am. I totally blew it off and slept until 8:30 -- getting 9.5 hours of sleep! I slept like a person who was sleep-deprived. I feel well-rested today.

I'm thinking of abandoning the experiment in favor of honoring my body's wisdom in knowing how much sleep I need. If that's more than the optimal amount, that may be due to the chronic illnesses I have, and I think I might just need to accept that. And to accept that it raises my risk of death or coronary event (but without stressing overly much about that).

As I said in my first post on this subject, the studies that have confirmed the "7 hours is optimal" theory have shown correlations, not causes, and it's possible that people who sleep more have more health problems and are thus at a higher risk anyway.

I think it might be wisest to just listen to what my body needs, while staying on top of the problems that might be disrupting sleep.