Saturday, March 31, 2012

Like Chocolate Pudding Scraped Across Too Much Ham*

There was a time last year where I was totally driven. I was actively running a food blog, drafting a new novella, submitting work to publishers, spit-polishing my house in preparation to sell, exercising regularly (and purchasing a new bikini to celebrate my efforts!).
Now? Not so much. Granted, I’ve had a busy year. I sold a book and got massively distracted by attempts at promotion and bookkeeping.  I moved and got massively distracted by packing and unpacking our junk. The day job has been getting busier—instead of working four days a week and leading a team of 2-4 people (of which I was one), I’ve been averaging five days a week (frequently more than 40 hours) and leading a team of ten people.
We have a house still on the market, which saps my energy just thinking about the mortgage payments, the constant pressure to make sure it is perfect, the constant feedback detailing all of the house’s flaws. We have a new house that is not completely set up the way I want it—mostly because we are spending every spare dimes (and a few that shouldn’t be spared) to pay the mortgage on the old one. That leaves nothing left for landscaping or a few pieces of badly needed furniture (oh how I miss having actual dressers in the master bedroom), or even for contemplating use of the basement.
I think the biggest culprit in the whole litany is that extra day of work. Yes, I know that many people work over forty hours per week, every week. I think the pool of them that do that with two school-age children (who get way too many days off school, IMHO) might be smaller—especially as I have no close-by family to help out in a pinch. The number who work that much, with children, without near family support, and with a second whole job (i.e. writing)—I think I’m in a minority. My particular combination of jobs doesn’t help—engineering and writing are both very cerebral involving lots of logic, scheduling, problem solving, recall of facts, etc. You know, all the same skills I also have to employ at home to help solve the financial puzzle, scheduling nightmare that children-with-extra-curriculars create, help with homework and answer my youngest’s endless stream of  why’s. Some days I wish I were a janitor or a gardener instead.
It is amazing how much saner I used to feel having a dedicated day per week, without people around to distract me (i.e. no husband or kids), where I can run errands or do complex tasks in peace, where I have no one’s schedule but my own to meet. I have given up way too much time--time I used to be able to count on for making phone calls (away from the giant, open cube farm at work where my coworkers can hear every last word), time I used to be able to use for house cleaning, or squeezing in a Zumba class, or pounding out a thousand words on a manuscript, or just staring numbly at the TV to give my brain a break from the constant stress and problem solving of the day job + the mom job + the writing job.
I want to set a deadline for myself. To sign up to finish my current work in progress, to edit last year’s novella, to submit more work to publishers, to do more marketing and attend more meetings and generally feel human again. I also kinda want to crawl under the covers and sleep for another month or two, then spend a couple of months watching dozens of movies, then start running five days a week until I feel physically fit again. But I hate to set goals that I know I can’t meet.
Instead, I think I need a break from goals.

* My title is a quote is from Lord of the Beans, one of our family’s favorite Veggie Tales movies. It’s a hilarious spoof of the first Lord of the Rings and full of literary gems like the appetizing image I have borrowed to describe my current state of mind.

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