Saturday, February 26, 2022

under cover of night

The past couple of weeks, I've been feeling out something like a schedule, which is challenging when you actually have something of a choice about how you set up your days, which for so long, I did not. Am I better at writing in the morning?  And if so. what?  Lessons? Poems?  Blog entries? Maybe fiction?  I've been rather liking diving right into the lessons in the morning, when my mind is fresh and clean. By morning, of course, I mean my morning which happens somewhere around noon usually. I've been falling victim to late night streaming marathons, which is actually okay, but it does give me a later start if I am just falling asleep at dawn. When I was in college, and left much to my own devices, I eventually reverted to being mostly nocturnal.  I would get up around 2pm. and go to bed at 6 a.m.  I would drink tea and coffee and read all night, journal or write, or watch weird random things on the big screen in my parent's living room (the only satellite hook up, so if I wanted to watch anything, it had to be after everyone else went to bed.) Of course, those were the days when if by chance I did have to be up earlier the next day, I could swing it (this is the thing that I've maddeningly confronted most about aging, too little sleep and my body just starts shutting down.) While there have been a couple days in the past week where I've seen the sunrise on the other side, I try not to make a habit of it, since I do like to take advantage of daylight to work on things as much as I can. But even when I was working, my ideal wake up was 10-11am. Whenever someone asked me how I could possibly work such a late shift at the library, it was easy, those are my most awake hours. 

The other maddening effect of getting older is that my batteries seemed to drain faster over the years each day.  While a decade ago, I could keep going all day, doing whatever kind of work whenever.  Slowly it got harder.  I don't know if it was age or burnout, but I started saving more work-intensive, concentrative tasks for earlier in the day and easy, rote things for night. By late afternoon, anything that involved problem solving or concentration was just not going to happen. I had a few brief hours of brilliance and I was a goner.  I could write poems in the morning over breakfast, tricking myself before I settled into the day, but I wouldn't have been able to do one at night.  While I could probably do a layout for a chapbook, there was no way I had the creativity after 6pm to design a cover or do serious proofing. When I had the studio, I was never as good at finishing things in the summer, when I left the library earlier as i was during the regular academic year's early hours.  I simply learned to live with these limitations.

Over the past couple of weeks, though, a strange thing has started to happen. Like it was in the past couple months as I prepared to freelance full-time, I've been starting my day with the lesson writing, as soon as I my feet hit the floor. I'll usually do my research while I eat breakfast then start writing for the next couple of hours til I finish. They are 1000-2000 words, depending on the subject matter, and take me about 3 hours unless it's something that needs a lot of images, quotes, sources.    Then I'll stop for a break, a shower, get dressed if I'm actually going anywhere (and for now, that's just been short trips out to the alley, the lobby, or the mailbox.) Then I'll fix something for lunch and sit down to answer and sort e-mails, then start working on shop orders, printing, shipping a couple days per week. Layouts and design the other days. Proofing and editing on others.  Everything that was crammed into a couple hours in the morning, late nights, or weekends is now blssfully  the largest chunk of my day.  I have twice as much time and can work until I pause for dinner at around 8pm or even beyond if necessary. It's  a lot of stuff to do, but I don't feel stressed  anymore cramming it all in. 

And perhaps the biggest change is how I feel at night, when suddenly now, after I've had dinner, done whatever I needed to do in the apartment, maybe even gotten in some exersize, I've been WRITING at midnight.  Poems and blog entries mostly, just  little bits, but something. I'm finishing up something poem-sh right now, but I might even return to the short stories I started last fall.  It's like maybe my brain, so badly broken by just too much going on, has been repairing itself.  I don't hit the end of the day (or the week, or the month) exhausted and babbling.   I'll eventually settle in for some Netflixing (in bed, though I do have a new Fire stick that allows me to watch things on the couch after two years of a missing Roku remote.) Or even some insta scrolling mindlessly before I fall asleep.  But I don't quite feel like I'm dying by the day's end, and that is something. That is everything. 

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