Working Hard at Goofing Off

I stayed home last week, intending to do housework, organize some of my hoarded entertainments, and generally be happily not at work. Instead I mostly sat on the coach, hating myself for being a failure of a Makie.

Four days into this, I finally recognized that I was again exhibiting signs of a downward spiral.

As I further reflected, I also realized that at some point I’d allowed my entire self-image to revolve around work. No matter what I did on my own time, I felt no sense of pride or accomplishment anymore.

That’s just stupid.

So I decided to do something — something new — just to be able to point to it and say “I did that!” I’ve been wanting to do a comic strip for years now, but I knew I’d need some references in order to turn out the artwork with any speed and consistency. So I downloaded a 3D modeling program (without knowing the first thing about making models) and whipped up a model of a cartoony angel.

"I did that!"

“I did that!”

It still took until well into this week to start feeling at all better, but damned if I’m not pleased with myself for having put together a clumsy, unarticulated model!


Climbing Past Sisyphus

It’s been a long summer. Extra hours at work… Well, that’s it, really. I haven’t had much time for anything else.

That’s not exactly true. I just haven’t done much else, even when I had the time.

At first I wondered if I was falling into another down phase. After all, one of the symptoms is a lack of enthusiasm for doing anything much. Also, I’ve been more irritable — another typical indication of a downward trend.

The weird thing is that I’ve been largely functional. I wash dishes, run laundry through their machines, keep up with taking care of the cats: all sorts of activity. But then I just sit, not doing much else.

I’m not sure what to make of it. It could be just a minor low, enough to keep me from writing but leave me otherwise okay. Or it may just indicate that I’ve made more chores so routine that they’re unaffected by my normal lack of motivation. Also possible is that this is situational, brought on by overwork, and not subject to my usual patterns of behavior.

What’s indisputable is that it’s been months since I’ve produced anything but these blog entries, and that’s been touch-and-go.

I don’t mean to complain, and I hope it doesn’t seem that I am. My intent is simply to reflect on my recent lethargy as I begin the climb back to productivity. I have a lot to do: finish an advice column, write a short story, finish one comic script and write two more — and those are just the tasks I feel obligated to do! I won’t have a lot of time for retrospection once I get going, so I’m doing it now.

And what I’ve decided is that I need to make writing an automatic task, like feeding the cats. Or writing a post for this blog (nearly) every week!

January Freeze

The lights and busy schedule of the holiday season carry me into January, but then I’m left standing in the cold, exhausted and confused, with no clear direction or purpose. This was a familiar rhythm in my life until almost a decade ago, and I’d almost managed to forget about it since then.

For the last 9 years or so I’ve gone to a 24-hour movie festival in Evanston, generally held near the end of January. (It’s a student-run affair, so on some years the date slips a little.) There are a few scheduled breaks for foraging and a raffle, but it’s pretty much a grueling, non-stop ass-a-thon. Several attendees, myself included, pride themselves on staying awake for nearly all of it. This is especially challenging as many of the films are selected precisely for their lack of quality.

Have you ever seen Meatloaf wage a losing battle against an odious yeti puppet? I have. And while I may not be better for it, I can now watch most Nick Cage movies without flinching.

Attending these gave me something to focus on, and my post-celebratory collapse moved to February — the worst month of the year, but mercifully short.

For various reasons, I’m no longer going to this particular film festival. This is a significant blow to my social calendar, but it’s also left me staring at a very long and cold month just to get to February. I’m a little numb, increasingly apathetic yet also irritable, and I just want to bury myself in my flannel sheets. In short, I’m depressed.

I hate this. I refuse to give in to it anymore, and simply delaying it isn’t a winning strategy. I may feel like hiding, but I have too much to do — stories to write, comics to make, a career to build, music to play. I can’t let myself just sit numbly on my couch while the cats wander over my body.

So while my friends are getting ready for their pilgrimage, I’m pushing myself to keep moving. Take out garbage. Put dishes away. The more I make myself do, the less hold inertia has on me, and maybe I can stay productive. At least until February.