Kitty Cat Distractions

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Watching Hannibal while getting a couple articles written or rewritten. Marceline decided the TV needed more cats.

Monday, pleasant Monday

Today turned out to be one of the more pleasant Mondays in recent memory, and I think it may be because I found out I have thirty-two unused hours of vacation time. I’m ignoring how such knowledge would have been valuable around the time of my move as I don’t want to defile such a good thing.

Perhaps the wonderful nap I took earlier (I know, I know, I said I needed to stop doing that, but sleep is just so nice after being so busy with something like moving while still working a forty-hour-a-week job). Or the dinner Brianne made.

Beginning to play catch-up on NBC’s Hannibal isn’t hurting, although I will admit that it’s not the best dinner accompaniment in terms of TV shows. I’m only about seven episodes into it, give or take a few (I actually can’t remember at the moment as a lot of things are just sort of blending together lately). I’m trying to remember why I stopped watching it for as long as I did, especially since I have such easy access to season one on DVD.

Admittedly, Monday and I don’t always get along and so having such a laid-back, relaxing start to the week is almost unsettling. I realize there’s something genuinely ridiculous in saying Monday is an inherently bad thing, especially given the number of people who no longer find their work-weeks confined to the Monday-through-Friday nine-to-five. This isn’t a post about “Well, it’s all a matter of how you look at something” or blah blah blah positivity. Nope. Just enjoying a particularly pleasant Monday just a little more before I head off to bed and prepare myself for…well, another day at work.

How did everyone else find this Monday? Hopefully it wasn’t too unpleasant.

Finding balance in work and play

Today was a suitable counter-balance to yesterday, I think. I cut the grass at my new apartment, moved a good deal of things in (though there are still many box-loads to go, I’m afraid), and decorated a little. It certainly was no day of playing World of Warcraft and relaxing in my current home, but not every day can be like that (I mean, they could but I would end up very unemployed, very fat, and quite unhappy, among other things), and so the work was both a necessary evil and a nice change of pace.

However, as far as daily balances of work and play (or leisure or whatever) go, I am not particularly good at finding such a nice equilibrium. Some days are very work-oriented, with me accomplishing a great deal of productive tasks. By nighttime on those days, I am tired but I feel fulfilled. It’s all very positive, really, ignoring the exhaustion and that there are some such days I still feel like I fell short of where I should have been. There are other, very similar days, when I have shirked responsibility in favor of relaxing and recovering. Days filled with video games, movies, books, and so on. They don’t really serve a practical purpose, but they leave me feeling rejuvenated and prepared for the next day of hard work.

It’s very possible to make those two days into a daily thing. I realize this is all very “hey, that’s obvious” territory, but I excel at the obvious.

What I’m talking about in this case is a total revamp of my schedule as I know it. It’s probably going to be Hell for a while, but I think if I can pull it off that it will provide me with tremendous benefits. That’s what I’m going for here, by the way. A Phil who can find a daily balance of hard work and relaxation time in the face of working eight hours five days a week and trying to become a writer, all while pretending very well at being a responsible adult. A lot of this will revolve around me making a number of relatively large changes over however long it takes, and I imagine it will involve a great deal of swearing along the way. Continue reading

A day of recovery

I’m going to focus largely on the good here, as today was actually an excrement sandwich sprinkled with shards of broken glass and used hypodermic needles of questionable origin. There may be a touch of hyperbole there, but to be fair I also just realized my next post-vacation day off is fourteen days away from when my vacation occurred (with some of those days involving multiple shifts). It makes me tired to even think about it, so I’m going to shift my focus elsewhere.

The stuff – After work, I headed over to Walmart to pick up some ingredients for dinner. I had no actual game-plan in mind, but I figured I could probably mange to make something relatively edible without too much effort. Keeping in mind I didn’t want to do more of the usual, I picked up some chicken (off to a poor start on avoiding the usual) and I wandered around a bit. The end result was I bought some yellow and orange bell peppers, some sugar snap peas, and some baby carrots (which didn’t end up in the dish anyway). I wasn’t quite sure how I’d prepare the chicken until I walked by a display of dressings and spotted a bottle of raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing, which I’m not ashamed to say I’m actually too lazy to type out repeatedly, ended up being a marinade for the chicken. Tossed it in a bag and let it hang out in the fridge for a bit while I took a nap. Brianne had a very busy day with a doctor’s appointment followed by work followed by one of her grad courses, so I had some time between thinking up dinner and making the actual meal.

Bragging that isn’t really bragging – I managed to get into a Looking For Raid iteration of The Dread Approach after minimal waiting. I was probably one of the lowest DPS players in there, but I also managed to not die. Something about half of the people in our raid couldn’t say about themselves, unfortunately, as people seemed pretty intent on standing in the fire whenever possible. This was my first time really doing any raiding in Mists of Pandaria (ignoring that I did get into an LFR group right at Sha of Fear last week; that was fun). I nabbed a good few pieces of gear and generally enjoyed myself. The best part, however, was that my queue for Terrace of Endless Spring popped right after I completed The Dread Approach. As I’ve not gotten anywhere in my Legendary cloak questing, I was pretty happy to get to 4 of each…er, Mark I guess. Marks of Wisdom and Power? I’m not looking it up. The point is I got to kill things I’ve never killed before, and if that’s not what raiding is all about then I must be doing it wrong. Note to self: I still need to try my hand at getting the other Thunderfury binding before next Tuesday (damn it).

Dinner turned out really well. It’s Brianne-approved, so that’s a plus. It was absolutely awful to look at, but it was a nice and healthy sweet meal I’ll have to try my hand at making again soon.

The best part of tonight is that I feel pretty rejuvenated. It’s a bit surprising, actually, as I ended work and shopping feeling very stressed out. A lot of it is a matter of accepting things that aren’t presently within my control and moving along with the things I can handle in the present (shocking, I know). The nap certainly didn’t hurt.

In closing – Here’s wishing everyone a relatively insanity-free next fourteen days, and in doing so sending the same wishes to myself. Victory is just ahead, right?

Pumpkin spice season has (almost) arrived

At some point or another, September apparently showed up. Or every single calendar I’ve encountered since Sunday has been telling me horrible, cruel lies. I’m slightly more inclined to believe the former is true, however, because I’m not all that big into outrageous conspiracies on most days. This summer provided many opportunities for hilarious misadventures, but it also somehow managed to be entirely draining. From the work-related madness to the life-related madness (with a friendly reminder there was a goddamn bat in my house not too long ago), this summer has felt less like a season of vacation, rejuvenation, and fun in the sun, and more like a time of frustration, bad news so bad it bordered onto comedy, and both minor and major setbacks. That’s not to say all of the summer was bad, of course. I won a book contract, which I then over-thought to the point of making it a good and a bad thing (if you missed that you should count your blessings and move along). Brianne and I have found a new place to live, which I’m quite excited about (save for now having to cut the grass, which is far from ideal). I could probably go on for a dozen more posts about my trip to Chicago, but it’s probably for the best I don’t. You were all right, Summer of 2014, but you certainly tested me. For that I should probably be thankful. Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Forty

Four days until I’m officially on vacation. It’s so close I can practically feel the waves of awesomeness generated by the crowds at Intervention washing over me. Naturally, I have to do some road to Intervention and Chicago posts because I am really damn excited about next week. The promise of great times with terrific people is just overwhelming.

I’ve got a couple pretty rough ideas where I’d like to go with these posts (tomorrow’s post is my 200th post, by the way; how time does fly). As always, there’s some element of doing things as I feel like it and hoping they turn out okay.

Day Forty – A road trip is only as good as its driving music

Not only am I traveling to Rockville, Maryland, with my good friend (and brother-type person) Jason, but I’ll also be making the trip to Chicago to see his new, very first bought-for-himself-like-a-responsible-adult house. And what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t appreciate the journey as much as the planned destinations? These trips need to be absolutely amazing. Especially the one to Chicago, as that will be the furthest I’ve ever driven. Ever.

I am tremendously fond of all varieties of music, though I still have aversion to rap and country. I hate to admit it, but the CD in my car has gotten quite stale. I can’t possibly drive from Carnegie (the starting point after this upcoming weekend) to Chicago without at least some new tunes to drive by. It’s also the easiest part of preparing for my trip. Clothes and stuff can wait, but picking music so I have CDs ready in time? That’s important stuff.

What kind of music makes for a good road trip, though? When Jason travels, I know he likes to listen to audio books. I’ve tried that, but it just doesn’t feel right. Also, I’m far too easily distracted. Traveling to a new place while trying to focus on a story is probably a recipe for disaster (and also worthy of note is that audiobooks are really goddamn expensive, but that’s spoken like someone who has no concept of money or money-management). Generally speaking, I prefer energetic music. However, to keep some level of balance, I also enjoy some more peaceful music. To avoid falling asleep, the tracks are arranged in a way that makes for jarring transitions.

But what music should these vacations have? Two years ago, Jason and my Intervention soundtrack included Gangnam Style, so nothing is really off-limits. I mean, almost nothing. I’ve been really considering getting (getting, picking up, etc, are all ways of saying buying on iTunes, by the way) some stuff by St. Vincent. So You Think You Can Dance has all sorts of wonderful music, but I’m afraid I’d start trying to do some sort of flailing version of the dances associated with those songs on the show. I’m only half-joking there.

Suggest music, people! I have until Thursday night to burn CDs. As part of my travel journal, I’ll post the playlists that ended up keeping me company along the way.

Sixty days remaining.

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Twenty-Four

There has to be some universal threshold for too much bad news in a day, and today crossed it. I acknowledge that it’s pretty easy to argue that I don’t handle bad news very well. I’m willing to accept that. It was a lot of work woes, none of which will be mentioned here.

One of my stories I sent out yesterday was already rejected. It’s a little disheartening, especially on top of bad news, but these things happen. On top of the rest of my day, it was more of a blow to my mood than I care to admit.

After work, I could have written stories or worked on other projects, or a number of other things. I didn’t. Today’s post is about why I’m okay with Continue reading