First things first: I’m sorry about neglecting you guys. I have some very loyal readers, and I haven’t been good about updates. The reason why that is, though, is good. I’ve been getting a lot of freelance work lately (and getting paid for it!), so things like the blog and especially my manuscript have taken a back seat to work that has more concrete deadlines and dollar amounts attached. It doesn’t mean that I couldn’t budget my time a little better, but I’m working on balancing everything.
So what do I do about that? Experiment.
If you’ve never heard of the phenomenon of 24-Hour Comics Day, you can follow the link for a more in-depth explanation. Briefly, though, it’s something like the NaNoWriMo of graphic storytelling: individual comic creators spend 24 hours on a 24-page comic, and there’s no prize other than the satisfaction of having created original content (but if you finish, there’s an opportunity for inclusion in Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s national archive). This year, it took place on October 1st. There are artists like Katie Tiedrich of Awkward Zombie that use the opportunity to make a journal comic of the 24-hour period, which is where today’s post came from.
I’d been thinking about doing something like this since 2015’s 24-Hour Comics Day. I wouldn’t create a comic, because while I can draw, I can’t draw well enough that people would enjoy looking at what I create. Instead, I thought I would take a similar challenge in the form of a blog post documenting a 24-hour day.
My reason for doing this was threefold:
- To create content for myself and shake up the blog a bit;
- To see if I could make my daily life sound interesting enough to be an engaging read;
- To really look at where I could make more time in my schedule to devote to my own writing projects.
The result is probably the longest post you will ever see on this blog, so buckle up. You’re about to learn way more about my life than you ever needed to.
I chose to document yesterday’s events. Part of this was because the time crunch of documenting and then polishing a blog post by this afternoon would keep me from censoring or editing my daily routine too heavily: there are going to be some edits and omissions in the interest of being, well, interesting, but I still have to work with what I scribbled in my phone’s notepad application. The other part of it was because yesterday was an atypical day in my life that I figured would be slightly more interesting than just reading about how I sat down at a computer and wrote for eight hours. I know the goal was for me to make anything interesting, but there’s only so much you can do to describe the relationship between a writer, keyboard, and monitor.
All of that said, here’s my crack at a “24-hour blog.” In all, an interesting experience and experiment, but not one I’ll repeat anytime soon.
My alarm goes off with a stirring rendition of “Angel’s Feather,” which is a name that sounds far too majestic to be one of the default alarm sounds on my phone. It’s a better listening experience than a string of toneless mechanical beeping sounds, and it does its job, but that doesn’t mean I’m particularly fond of it at this hour.
My husband Tom and I try to keep similar sleep schedules, even on days like this one that otherwise don’t follow our typical routine. His alarms go off a little after mine, and he’s up right away. It’s not that I’m not a morning person: once I get out of bed, and as long as there’s light outside, I have no problems with being up before 10 or so. Getting out of bed, though, is a different story.
I huddle up under three layers of covers in the darkened room and listen to Tom shower. I turn down the brightness on my phone screen and begin the process of typing notes about my day into my smartphone and making mental notes about my plans for the next hour: what I plan on having for breakfast, whether I should eat it before or after the vet appointment that we’re up so early for, and the fact that at some point this morning I will need to put cat feces in a plastic baggie. I also catch myself trying to anticipate other events that might happen during my exercise in oversharing and prematurely think about how to write them in interesting ways.
Mostly, though, I think about the dream that “Angel’s Feather” stirred me from. The details are a little shaky, but I know that I was on the run from the law. This is a type of dream that, surprisingly, I’ve had a few times before, although the fact that one of the locations might have been a kindergarten classroom is new: two-dimensional shapes and bright colors seemed to be very prominent imagery. One of my game night buddies showed up as part of the plot, and I spent several of my waking minutes wondering if he and/or his boyfriend would be open to housing or hiding me if I was, in fact, on the run from the law. If you’re someone who’s into dream interpretation, allegedly I have guilt, stress, and/or avoidance issues: I’m not into dream interpretation much anymore, but it still seems kind of appropriate, considering my plans for today.
I decided to have breakfast before the vet appointment after all. I take vitamins with orange juice and eat Greek yogurt with coconut flakes and honey. I could tell you that it’s because I’m a health-conscious foodie that knows all kinds of things about nutrition, but no, that’s just stuff that I happened to have laying around: the coconut was from a series of baking experiments, and the other two are staple foods that are safe for my brand of gastrointestinal issues. It just so happens that the foods that are safe for me also happen to range from healthy to pretentious. It’s not bad, though. I’d eat it again. If it helps, I’m eating it with a table spoon because that’s the only kind of spoon in the silverware drawer that was clean.
I love Tom, but it’s too early to talk. He keeps trying to strike up conversations. In the space of about 10 minutes he’s tried to engage me about the following:
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its film adaptation (I haven’t seen the film, but I’m about halfway through the book and really liking it so far);
- Book genre and age categories (he needed clarification on the difference between middle grade and young adult);
- My plans for today and the rest of the week (I didn’t know what I was having for breakfast until I made it to the kitchen. I don’t plan days in advance very well);
- The fact that we need to get a new dish brush (there was an unfortunate encounter with some burned-on food bits);
- The butt as an underappreciated part of human anatomy (I have no opinion on the matter);
- The logistical nightmare that will be getting Muffin into her carrier at 8:30 (oh, believe me, I know)
It’s not that these are things I don’t want to talk about: I just don’t want to talk about them right now. Right now, it’s yogurt time. I do decide that the game night buddy from last night’s dream might vouch for me if I was questioned by the police, but not actually house me if I was a fugitive. I don’t think we’ve achieved that level of friendship just yet.
Getting Muffin into her box was as much of a struggle as I expected it would be. Tom didn’t grow up with pets and is therefore uncomfortable picking her up. We did enact our plan to close all of the doors to the rooms she can hide in, and we left the crate out for a few days so that she could get used to the idea of it. She still gave it a wide berth after three days, so it was going to be a matter of force, especially because she was on to us. Tom lulled her into a false sense of security with brushing and scratching, and I had to be the evil parent that grabbed her and shoved her into the box. She screamed right away and I’m sure woke up most of our neighbors, but gave up actually fighting the door of the crate after a few minutes.
She cried and hyperventilated all the way to the vet’s office and didn’t stop while we were there. I know that pets aren’t a replacement or comparable to children, and I don’t plan on having children anyway for a number of reasons. However, if the way I’d react to a human child going to the doctor is the way I react to Muffin being upset about the vet, I don’t think parenting would be a healthy thing for me to pursue.
Muffin was so worked up that the vet needed to give her a towel covered in Feliway just to calm her down enough that she could be examined. She handles needles way better than I do: you’d think after my medical history I’d be used to needles, and while shots are ok as long as I’m not looking, I’m the person that turns green and gets dizzy when you draw my blood. What she doesn’t care for is getting her teeth cleaned, but thankfully she behaved and didn’t need to be sedated for that.
She’s gained some weight since our last visit, which is not a trend we want to continue. We’ve been told to monitor her food intake rather than just kind of leaving it out for her all day. Too bad she’s the kind of cat that thinks that the bowl is empty if she can see the bottom of it through individual pieces of food and is very set in her ways because of her age. So we’ll be leaving out less food for her and restarting the flea medicine that we went to the vet to get the moment she regains our trust. Great. Currently, she’s hiding from us, probably under the bed.
I made some tea because I didn’t have time to do that before her appointment. It’s green tea. The more I talk about my food choices, the more pretentious I sound. It’s unavoidable at this point.
Tom doesn’t need to leave for work until 10:30 because he’s on a hospital schedule, so he turns on his Xbox to play Destiny for a few minutes. He ends up running into one of his college roommates online and they do a… nightfall, I think it’s called? There’s so much jargon here that it’s practically its own language.
This tea is still too hot to drink right now. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from a cup of boiling water. Maybe my tea experience would be improved if I actually kept track of the water temperature. It just seems like a lot of work.
I poked around on social media for a bit, mostly Facebook. It’s about my usual level of activity: I read a few pieces of satire, share some, and end up talking with a friend about the naming of musical instruments.
I see Tom off to work. He normally insists on checking everything before he goes—everything from chairs to light fixtures—but is a little short on time this morning, so he asks me to do it. He still checks some of the things.
Muffin needs space to recover from her emotionally devastating healthcare experience, and I need exercise. So here I am, at the local park.
This is when I first begin to notice how my thoughts have changed. I’m recording every hour of today, and while I’m not necessarily censoring or editing my thoughts as I go any more than I normally would—we all have those “Wait, where did that come from?” moments—but I am passing judgment on every thought that goes through my mind. Rather than taking the time to explore an idea, I’m immediately deciding whether or not it’s interesting or appropriate without a second glance.
I do get “performance anxiety” whenever I write for an audience, but this is a slightly different experience in a writing sense. In this case, it’s not my writing that’s being judged: it’s me. Pure, unadulterated, “This is probably boring and/or stupid” me. Most of my writing isn’t explicitly me: these days, it’s either freelance work done for clients or it’s fiction that’s characters and worlds that are pieces of me, but never completely me.
I’m a very private person when it comes to my inner thoughts and mundane routines. That’s why I’ve cleaned this post up a bit and why I very rarely write personal essays. It might also be why I ultimately decided not to major in music or theater in college: while I loved both (and can play just fine in ensembles), getting deeply invested and standing out in that kind of art involved making myself vulnerable in front of people. There was nowhere to hide.
In writing, I’ll bleed on the page. Happily, even. But you’ll never know that it’s blood: once I know it’s ready to be shared, all you’ll be able to see until you look closely is that it’s rust-colored lines.
I normally use my daily walking time to try and catch ideas and work with them, but it just didn’t happen today because I was scared. The fact of the matter is that it’s not always brilliance or adventure in my head. Sometimes, like today, it’s boring.
I wrapped up the walk and came back home. Muffin came out of hiding, but refused to purr for me even when I scratched her favorite places and opened the windows for her. I’m fairly confident that she’ll forgive me eventually, but she has a really nasty glare that’s calling that assumption into question.
As with the walk, I use showers as a place for ideas, but didn’t come up with much there today, either. I did come up with things that I might try to role-play at Thursday’s Dungeons & Dragons session, considering that I’m not a great role-player just yet. If you’ve never played before, I don’t recommend attempting to be a paladin for your first session. I like the class and my character, but trying to get the ropes of the game and simultaneously trying to be the group’s moral compass is tricky.
My third strike on my Pretentious Food Counter was lunch: gluten-free macaroni and cheese. Arguably, though, it’s not pretentious if it’s frozen and heated up in a microwave. Convenience food can’t be pretentious. Right?
I got Muffin to purr a little. She’s still visibly very angry, though, and won’t acknowledge me unless I go up to her. I give her some more space and get started on some freelance work. I won’t talk about who I do it for or even what most of it is in the interest of not disclosing anything I shouldn’t. I probably listen to most if not all of Kalafina’s body of work in this time: it’s very pretty music, and it’s not in English, which is the exact kind of music that helps me focus.
Other than occasional breaks to move around, pet Muffin, space out and think about how much I want to nap, and make hot cider, it’s pretty uneventful. The internet briefly froze at around 5:00, which I wasn’t particularly thrilled about. I ended up running virus, spyware, and malware scans on the computer after accidentally clicking on an ad in the process of researching erectile dysfunction because I’m paranoid and despite the fact that the sites I looked at were otherwise reputable, thought that this couldn’t go anywhere good. Thankfully, though, there was nothing terrible outside of a few tracking cookies, which is about normal. I quit at about 6:30 with two pieces finished and five others researched and outlined for the next few days. My goal is to get them done before the weekend so that I can visit my parents without having to worry about Monday’s deadline.
I’ve officially been at this exercise for twelve hours, even though a little less than six of them were spent working. I texted my mom for a bit to tell her about work and Muffin’s vet appointment. She was at work, too, so I didn’t call. In hindsight, I could have texted way earlier than I did.
One of our college friends had an idea that he, his girlfriend, Tom, and I would start to play Dungeons & Dragons as a group. Not only that, but he thought that we would write the campaign in the style of the podcast The Adventure Zone (which is quite good, by the way), but each write our own story arcs and take turns DMing them for the others.
And that, friends, is how I stumbled my way into writing a D&D campaign despite not even having completed my first game. My plan for NaNoWriMo this year is to write the bones of the story and setting for my portion of this campaign. On the plus side, it’s the perfect NaNoWriMo project because D&D stories tend to explode on contact with players and it therefore won’t need to be perfect right out of the gate: on the other hand, it’s a totally different kind of writing that I’m not used to, and it’s a lot of learning.
At the moment, I’m statting out a homebrew “weresquirrel” creature. Why squirrel? It’s mostly for the amusement of this group that’s in on this project. This was less complicated than I thought it would be: it’s functionally a reskinned wererat, but I swapped out some of the proficiencies, actions, and tacked a climb speed onto it. If you’re someone that didn’t understand anything about that sentence, I can’t say I blame you, because a few months ago that was me.
I have a few moments of guilt while doing this. In case it wasn’t obvious, I seem to have a thing about writing lycanthropy. I just find it to be a really interesting set of ideas to explore. It also happens to be part of the novel manuscript I’ve been neglecting lately. Am I writing this campaign because it’s the best idea for my group or am I doing it because I know I should actually be working on my novel instead?
I threw leftover dinner in the oven to reheat for when Tom gets home. Chicken casserole, which is not the healthiest thing I know how to make (and not pretentious aside from the quinoa-based pasta involved) but a recipe from my mom that’s definitely one of our favorite cold-weather comfort foods. I suddenly remember that it’s National Taco Day and decide that sounds really good, but I’m already committed to heating and eating this.
Muffin hasn’t quite reinstituted cuddling. She voluntarily came out into the living room to be with me and even sat down on the couch and allowed me to touch her. However, she stayed about a foot away from me rather than sitting on my lap or in the space between the arm of the couch and my left leg. I’ll take my victories where I can get them. She ran away from Tom when he got home at 8:30, presumably because he was an accomplice in our earlier misadventure.
Dinner has been eaten. As Tom waits for his friends for their planned Destiny time rather than the earlier impromptu session, I showed him a couple of internet videos that I discovered that day. There was a strange Pizza Hut ad about a homesick alien that made both of us a little uncomfortable and one of a koala that had a butterfly on its nose for the entirety of its photoshoot that was much cuter.
We have too many things in the freezer that include a giant bag of brown sugar. On top of that, we also have a carton with a single egg in it and a jar of peanut butter in our cabinet that’s been there since the Rio Olympics (Jif was a sponsor, apparently). I decided to remedy this problem by making peanut butter cookies in between loads of laundry. It’s strange: I wasn’t very domestic at home or even when I went away to college and was in an off-board housing arrangement. But apparently now I like cooking, which would have been good to know a few years ago. Still not a fan of cleaning, but that’s life for you.
The cookies and laundry are done. As I’m waiting for the cookies to cool, I’m catching up on my backlog of interesting online articles. Most of them are writing-related, but a few political and scientific ones are thrown in the mix. I also attempted to read up on creating NPC characters with combat statistics for the aforementioned written campaign, but it’s not going well. I’m sure that 80% or so of the problem is that I was trying to make a spellcaster NPC despite not yet having played a dedicated spellcaster.
Through Tom’s Xbox headset and Tom himself, I did talk briefly with the mastermind behind this campaign. When told that I made squirrels for his amusement, he was reportedly delighted. I teased Tom some more about how he should do NaNoWriMo with me to get his part of the campaign done, but he declined. I’ve been trying to talk him into NaNoWriMo since the end of 2013 and I thought I finally had a good enough excuse, but I guess I just need to keep trying. I still have time until November.
I was asleep. Admittedly, the first hour and a half of that involved accidentally falling asleep on the couch. I will never learn that getting under a very fluffy, very warm blanket when I’m tired and comfortable is not a recipe for staying awake, especially if I’m lying down. I woke up at about 12:30, found out that Tom was still up, and actually got ready for bed, for real this time. I’m pretty sure my dream involved an art gallery, but beyond that I can’t recall much. All I know is that this exercise is over.