Saturday, January 30, 2010

Are you as busy as I am?

It's unclear whether Outer Space is as busy as I am right now. Perhaps that fact that it hasn't answered yet is a sign of it being preoccupied with the stuff of space: creating supernovas, swallowing objects into black holes, and being infinite. The outer stuff of my life has also moved into full orbit these days. Work is picking up speed as I start some new projects with my students. Grad classes are full-speed-ahead with lots of writing and reading. Even my personal life is moving along after my successful solo trip to NYC and an upcoming adventure to California to visit the boy.

This past week I have also noticed my inner life take a stressful turn. It seems that during the most sacred part of my day, bedtime, my thoughts take on a never-ending stream-of-consciousness momentum. I lay in bed, trying to relax, focusing on my breathing, and progressively relaxing muscles. But the thoughts stay. They seem to have no where to go, so they stay inside my head bouncing off my brain and showing up in my tense shoulders each morning after a night of terrible sleep. That is, if I fall asleep. I've ended up averaging around 5 hours for the past few days. It all came to fruition Thursday evening (which is like my Friday) when I had what was probably the worst stress headache ever, and I skipped class to rest. But sleep would not come. I woke up Friday morning when my alarm, which I forgot to turn off the night before, went off at 6:45am and I could not fall back to sleep.

As someone with an attention disorder, I have learned that medication can only take me so far. So that's where my behavior changes come into play. I've set up my life in such a way that I can accomplish things with minimal distractions. I am highly organized, I don't have a lot of stuff around and I know myself well enough to manage my environment so that I can be most productive. This includes making sure I'm well rested, because being tired, hungry, itchy, sweaty, dirty, messy, cranky, or wired will set me off course.

I don't give myself enough credit though. I can focus. Even if I am a little [insert adjective]. Just as long as I am doing more than one thing at a time. If I'm reading, I should also be highlighting and taking notes. If I'm writing a blog post, I am also relaxing my shoulders with a hot compress. When I'm on the phone I'm constantly tidying up. Multitasking is my best friend.

I think this is why writing feels natural to me as a form of expression. Writing is multitasking. Even as I'm typing these words I'm thinking about what I'll be saying next. When I'm editing the line breaks in that poem I'm thinking about the beginning and the end, the shape, sound and hidden meaning. When composing an autobiographical essay, I've got all this material swirling around inside my head just waiting to be pulled out of orbit and put on the page.

Maybe that is where my sleep deprivation lies. All that time spent tossing and turning, wishing sleep to come, I should instead just get up and write. Even if it just means making a list of things to remember. This is part of the experience of living-like-a-writer; being willing to know yourself well enough to throw it all out the window and risk being tired the next day, because perhaps what you have to say at 1am needs to be put down, even if it only leads to sleep. Even if no one else ever reads it. That act of putting words down even at the most inconvenient times will mean the difference between being just someone who writes now and then and being a writer.


heidi daisybones said...

I *AM* as busy as you are, yet I'm nowhere near as productive. I want to know more about your organization systems. What are your tricks? I know we share a brain in many ways- but you seem to navigate your better?


Laura the Poet said...

Awesome questions my friend!

Google Calendar is my best friend ever. I seriously have to schedule blocks of time with things like "run errands" and "talk to Sal" This way I am sure to fit everything in, or at least I am able to move things around that are important to me.

I have a white board that I write things on in my house that I dont' want to forget, like grocery items or errands. That is helpful because I can never remember to get things like toothpaste, since you don't buy them each week.

I also buy food that's really easy to eat, like frozen lunches. It's unfortunate, but I just don't have time to cook. I'm currently eating a plate of tater tots and soy chicken nuggets with ranch dip. Ok an also cheese sticks. I swear I had an orange first.

I think there are other things that are really going to affect my productivity, such as the fact that I live alone and have Friday-Monday off each week. While I am working during that time, it's largely structured from the schedule I made on my calendar. Knowing that I set aside time to do everything, I can then focus on the task at hand.

oooh the other thing that helps is each night I spend like 15 minutes just tidying up. I dont' do dishes all week really, but I keep them organized. Same with dirty laundry. I just try to not let things get too out of control that I'm spending my free time doing chores. It helps immensely.

heidi daisybones said...

You're brilliant, my dear! I miss you so much, but it's so amazing to watch you chase down your dreams! Your students & Sal are very, very lucky:)