Thursday, September 29, 2016


I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I've been this excited about fall. I am absolutely drunk on the light and the smell of the air and the prospect of cozy afternoons indoors with a book. It has even come so far that my current enjoyment of Stranger Things is about 10% plot, 30% 80's nostalgia, and 60% gushing over fall scenery. (Plus about a million percent being utterly in love with Dustin. That kid is just awesome.)

Who cares about that missing kid? Look at the pretty leaves!
Ever since I was little, September has always been my absolute favorite time of the year. I think it's a lingering remnant of being such a huge nerd when I was in school, even though that was at least 14 years ago, because somewhere in the back of my brain I am still expecting the singular joy of getting my hands on new school books and secretly reading them all late at night with a flashlight before school has even started (always leading to disappointment when the teacher would finally come to my favorite parts only to skip them, of course).

It's not that I don't love summer, but those days on the cusp of decorative gourd season when there's a new crispness in the air and you know the entire back catalogue of The Cure is the only music you'll ever need in your life, are when all my senses are suddenly awakened and my blood starts buzzing with anticipation.

It's kind of funny how every year I get this rush of feeling like I am about to jump from the edge of a cliff on a hot windless day and maybe taking flight, that amazing things are just about to happen, while I should know as well as we all do by now that the only thing that lies beyond fall is Depression Season™, and then after what seems like decades, spring again.

But for as long as that heady back-to-school feeling lasts, I can use up every single last drop of it to tackle my to do list and all my projects and goals that have fallen by the wayside during the hot, sticky summer. So for the last couple of days I have been frantically solving the frustrating puzzle of "when the hell am I going to find time for this?".

I should probably tell you that starting September, I have gone back to working my old hours at work, which feels kind of fraudulent in the light of this post I wrote last year. I promise I still believe in all the things I wrote back then, but the truth of the matter is that my situation has changed and a girl has to look after herself a bit. It's pretty great to have money again and I'm certainly grateful for the opportunity. The trouble is that the whole reason why I cut back on my hours in the first place was that I felt (well, not just felt) like all I ever did was work, and outside of that I barely existed. As you can imagine, I am pretty determined to not let that happen to me again.

This means that while I finally feel like I am in a place again where I can get back to sucking at other things besides cohabitation (loooooooooots of sucking at that in the past few months) for a change, I'm having a bit of trouble fitting any of them into a week that has effectively lost an entire extra day to the thrills of customer service. Me being me though (and largely inspired by a conversation I had with my friend and hero Teros from NerdFitness), I figured all I needed was a system.

I talked here before about how sometimes my neuroses drives me to try and come up with the perfect life organizing app which then has me desperately trying to learn some programming language at 3 in the morning, but this isn't like that, and I'm sort of weirdly proud for not falling into that hole again.

What it is started with the knowledge that I once managed to fit a full class load of university courses around a 3 day work schedule for 3,5 years, and those were among the happiest days of my life. So instead of treating my hobbies as optional, why wouldn't I tap into that magical September-feeling and treat them like school?

So I started doing exactly what I did back then: first, I meticulously tracked every last bit of where I spent my time in an Excel file for a couple of weeks, to give me some base data (this is already pretty fun if you are an obsessive data nerd). Then I figured out from that that if I subtract all the time I spent eating, cooking, sleeping, working and doing chores and stuff, I end up with more or less 30 hours a week I can divide over the things that really matter to me. That's actually a lot!

Of course it's going to be color coded.
This is where the fun begins. What do you most want to spend your time on? It was enlightening for me to do this exercise, because even though I usually feel like I'm all over the place, as it turns out I do have some clear cut priorities at the moment and, surprisingly, losing 2 hours on a random Thursday morning because I suddenly have to Photoshop Britney Spears' hair onto a coworker's new profile picture isn't part of them.

I have a strange sense of duty.
What they are:
  1. Meditation (also yoga and journaling, which are the three pillars of "Let's Keep Trillie Away From The Deep End")
  2. Exercise (because I'm kind of doing a thing right now that has been super important to me for years and I'll probably talk about it later because holy shit)
  3. Writing (obv.)
  4. Guitar
  5. Reading
  6. Photography (or at least figuring out how my camera works and sometimes using it for a change)
  7. Hanging out with friends
  8. Staying up way past my bedtime because I just discovered this exists and I simply have to make some of my own right this fucking now and share them with the people who live in my internet so we can all piss ourselves laughing.
From here on, you simply award hour budgets to each thing, and then actually plan them into your schedule. Lemon squeezy.

There were a couple of things I realized as I was doing this. The first was how good it feels to have these dates set up with myself and stick to them. But then, as I slowly began to grasp just how much time 30 hours really is, it began to dawn on me how absolutely impossible it would have been for me to do this had I still been on the life trajectory I was on, and just how fucking spoiled I am, because what kind of mom with young children in which universe has 30 hours a week to spend on herself? It's gluttony is what it is.

And then it hit me: instead of going back to school, what I'm actually doing is playing truant. I'm skipping out on Life, or at least Life as I thought it was going to be, in order to work out and play games and do terrible midnight Photoshop. I don't just live in a teenager's room, I actually get to live like a teenager! That's crazy and wonderful and a completely unexpected consequence of all the heartbreak that went before. I just never realized that that was going to be what I signed up for. But I do now, and that is making me even more giddy than the prospect of falling leaves and the return of The Walking Dead. Because nerd or no, the very best part of going to school is when you get to skip it.

This is going to be awesome.

PS: Because I'm kind of serious about getting back into photography (or at least just taking loads of pictures), I now have an instagram account that you can follow and check out what I'm up to and also all the animals I encounter now that I live in the suburbs because apparently it's like a freaking zoo up in here. It's not public, but I accept anyone who requests to follow.