As I mentioned in my last set of quick takes, Scott was singing at First Friday Mass. He had to be at rehearsal at 6:15, so he took the bus straight from work to the church. (I packed him some extra food, same as I do on other Schola days. That time, he ended up just eating most of it when he got home.) I left our apartment around 6:15 and arrived at St. FifteenMilesAway (not to be confused with St. TenMilesAway, our usual Sunday parish, or St. TwentyMilesAway, Liza's usual parish) shortly before 7:00. Mass started at 7:15, ended at 8:00, we left almost immediately thereafter.
Since it is all late in the year and such, it was dark by the time we were driving home. At one point, I was driving along minding my own business when I caught a bit of motion out of the corner of my eye. I slowed down, because that is my default when anything unusual happens while I am driving.
I ascertained that the moving thing was a white grocery bag. A few milliseconds later I ascertained that it was being held by a man wearing a black hoodie and black pants, jogging nonchalantly across the middle of the road. He got to the other side and I went my merry way.
Hey, I don't have a problem with going and getting yourself some pop and cigarettes (or whatever) at 8:15 on an October evening. I don't even have a problem with you crossing nowhere near a crosswalk; sometimes going all the way up and down the street can be a total pain.
But if you are going to be doing those two things, WEAR REFLECTIVE CLOTHING.
That wasn't even the weirdest thing that happened on our drive back. At one point, we were approaching a railroad crossing when the lights started flashing and the bars started going down. I stopped. A train approached from our left and then stopped. Scott and I wondered what was up. Then, as we both watched in amazement, it started backing up and going the other way. The bars came back up. I hesitated a second before I went ahead and drove across the tracks, just to make sure the train was really gone.
I'm glad we were both there, or else we might have had to write it off as a sleep-deprivation induced hallucination.
This past week, I have been enforcing a "No computer after 10:00" policy. (Which turns into a "No computer after 10:15" policy sometimes, but hey. Nobody's perfect.) See, I "need" to be on the computer from 8-10 because that's when I can Skype my friends. (Mari is almost always on, and when other people want to Skype I tell them to catch me between 8-10 p.m.) But then after 10 it devolves into mindless surfing. Lately, I had been getting off at 11:00 or 11:30 and then doing my bedtime routine, which goes thus: Hibernate and unplug computer, put on pajamas, brush teeth, get a glass of water, set all 3 of my alarms, make sure the front door is locked, make sure the sliding door to the balcony is locked, resist the urge to go downstairs and make sure my car is locked, get meat down for dinner tomorrow, make sure the stove is turned off, make sure the front door is locked again, go into the bedroom and recheck all 3 alarms...etc, etc. When that happens I don't go to bed until 11:30 or 12:00 and lie awake for an hour because I'm too keyed up to sleep. This means, for those of you who are mathmatically challenged like me, that I fall asleep between 12:30 and 1:00. Then I wake up at 5:45 to start my morning routine and wonder why I'm so grumpy. (I do take naps, but naps are a band-aid on the gaping wound of not enough sundown-to-midnight sleep.)
I need to go to sleep earlier, because I can control that where I can't control my anxiety levels, and if I get more sleep the anxiety levels will drop of their own accord and I will have less trouble getting to bed (because of all the checking) and falling asleep (normal for me is 30 minutes, not 60). Screentime doesn't directly affect that (as far as I know), but it gives me something to do when I'm up late. I can "concentrate" on mindless surfing far longer than I can concentrate on reading a book.
Besides being more well-rested and less anxious, this "No screentime after 10:00" policy means that I've been reading again. Up until about my sophomore year of college I was a voracious reader. Then I got burnt out, and having my own computer with readily accessible internet made it easy to use my free time to just mindlessly surf instead of reading actual books that require concentration. (My blog reading actually shifted during this time as well. I used to read deep theological stuff online. Now I mostly read blogs that are cute or funny. I was a theology major; I didn't need any more treatises to read.) I think I really am getting less burnt out, too, because I've been wanting to read even when I could be on the internet instead.
The other thing that's been keeping me off the internet this week is my novel. See, I've been working on this particular novel for 5 1/2 years, and this particular draft of this particular novel for 2 1/2. The first draft, as you might guess, took 3 years of on-again, off-again writing. (2007 to 2010, so about half of that time was post college-induced burnout.) I let it sit for a few weeks and then tweaked it and sent it off to my beta reader, who reported that one day she went to read it and found herself hunting for a hard copy book, before she remembered that my book wasn't published yet and was in a file on the computer. I was very proud of myself. Then said beta reader decided to go through it chapter by chapter and tear it into tiny little pieces. So I've been rewriting it to make it even more better.
The first few chapters were easy; I just had to tweak some things and work on making the "voice" truer to the characters. (When I'm writing from the perspective of the character who doesn't like to read anything more profound than a bus schedule, I have to use different language than when I'm writing from the perspective of the character who likes epic poetry and philosophical tomes and such.) But then I started getting to the point where I had to kill subplots that weren't going anywhere and add subplots to set up for things that came out of nowhere in the first draft, in addition to paring down sections that were too wordy and beefing up sections that were too perfunctory. It was basically writing the whole book over again. It took a discouragingly long time, and half the time I didn't know if I was even making it better.
Now, though, I'm at the point that was the last half-dozen chapters in the previous draft. I had forgotten that when I get to the end the story just kind of sweeps me up. It's like I've been spending 100 pages setting up an elaborate pattern of dominoes and then I tapped the first one and now it's just a matter of keeping up with them as they fall.
So, yeah. I've been spending a couple of hours per day writing the novel. Doesn't leave much time for mindless internet surfing.
I am totally going to make these as mini-muffins this week. And I am going to make an apple crisp, because we have lots of apples and I just bought vanilla ice cream. (Okay, that sentence isn't quite logical. I bought the vanilla ice cream because I was going to make apple crisp, not the other way around.) After that, I am going to make a pumpkin roll. (Something like this. I picked that one because it has a pretty picture to go with it; I have not yet decided what recipe to use.) I have never made one before, but why should I let that stop me?
Now I just need a house elf to do all the dishes for me afterwards. And I might need to steal my husband's metabolism for a while.
Here is a picture of a baby rejecting his bottle in favor of an apple. Matthew is apparently enjoying having teeth. (Mom was trying to eat the apple herself.)
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