I had a tumultuous month of December, including an unexpected move and right in the middle of that were the big brush fires, which resulted in one daughter, her husband, the grandbaby and their cat moving in with me (and my cat) for a week. The apartment I was moving to was also inside the area at most risk for burning to the ground. So…we did celebrate Christmas on the day itself but I never got out one ornament, much less trimmed a tree. Happy ending to all the fire stuff though – the wonderful firefighters were able to contain the particular gigantic brushfire after a week and neither my family’s apartment nor my new one burned.
I only wish everyone in the fire zones had been so fortunate…
And I was working hard to finish book two in my new series and get it released. Or at least to the editor.
So, long story short, I’m in my new place, still unpacking, but I’d been feeling a bit overwhelmed (gee, I wonder WHY???) and stressed, and one of my best friends suggested I just take an entire day OFF. No internet, no e mail, no writing. I added for myself: no TV news. I love MSNBC and regularly listen to the news and commentary but with all that’s going on in the world today, the events – especially in Washington DC – at times can be a bit too much and anxiety inducing.
Friday the 2nd was The Vacation Day.
It was a weird experience. Usually the first thing I do upon waking up is grab my cell phone and check my e mail from overnight, my Facebook notifications and the NYT and DailySkimm news updates. Even my cat knows he has to wait for breakfast until I’ve caught up on all of that. (It doesn’t take long and he’s NOT starving, I promise.) I don’t try to deal with any of it until after breakfast, but at least I know what’s out there, waiting for me. Usually. Well, not Friday. I’d put my phone face down on top of the bureau so I wouldn’t automatically take it from the nightstand and check it.
Breakfast was also odd because I usually have MSNBC, local news or ‘The Today Show’ on to keep me company while I eat. Nope. No news TV.
365 days of the year I turn on the computer immediately after breakfast and start dealing with the e mail, the Facebook, twitter, blog posts – all the stuff I do as part of my life and author life. Not Friday. I never turned it on at all.
I ran errands that I’d been wanting to do for quite a while. I found a lovely, cheap floral print for one blank wall of the apartment (I abhor blank walls.) I assembled a bookcase. I arranged the most breakable portion of my collection of ‘Egyptiana’ on its shelves and earthquake puttied everything down. I did a tiny bit of gardening (because all I have in this new place is a tiny sliver of ground outside my door – no balcony anymore 🙁 I petted Jake the cat. He, by the way, was quite unsettled by these changes in my routine. He’s a creature of habit too and knows for example when I’ll be at my computer desk and need his supervision from the chair next to it. If you call it supervision for him to be curled up sound asleep LOL. But he’s ready to waken and spring into action!
I caught up on episodes of three of my favorite TV series – ‘Top Chef,’ ‘Project Runway All Stars’, and a two parter of ‘The Brave.”
I sang in the car while driving the freeways in pursuit of my fun errands.
I went to a MOVIE. Now I very rarely do that anymore. I prefer the comfort and ease of watching movies at home, usually on my Kindle. But I took myself to “The Shape of Water” and enjoyed it very much. I did worry for a nanosecond that I was breaking my own rules for the day, and being “Veronica the Author” because I’m working on trying to get an interview with someone connected to the movie right now, which may or may not happen, so no one hold their breath. (UPDATE: Just got word the interview is NOT happening but hey, no harm in doing the pitch, right? I still loved the movie!) But then I decided I was going to the movie mostly to see it, and be transported out of my daily world, not to develop interview questions, so it qualified for my vacation day off. Yes, I do tend to overanalyze things – why do you ask?
The movie was great, many layers, needs to be seen again…
I treated myself to dinner out.
I resisted the temptation to watch ‘Rachel Maddow’ at 6PM. (I did console myself I could catch up with the show on Saturday on their web page, if I ‘needed’ to.)
I took a nap. Jake the Cat approved.
I watched two old, beloved scifi movies on blu-ray, one right after the other.
I went to sleep and had good, wildly imaginative scifi dreams, at least the ones I can remember…
So what was my overall assessment of the experiment?
It reminded me a bit of what it’s like to be a new parent and you finally get a real date night with your equally tired husband and all you can talk about at the restaurant is…the baby. Especially in the first half of the day I found my mind wandering off to various author tasks and puzzling over things I have to tackle and/or resolve.
But as the day progressed, I left that behind and was more in the moment of my ‘vacation’ activities. By the afternoon I found myself having a lot of fun book plot ideas, both for the series I’m writing now and for new books.
I was super tempted to sneak a peek at my e mail at least twice…it and social media really are addictive! But I didn’t.
I also realized in the midmorning that I’d put wayyyy too much on my wish list of what I wanted to get done, as far as making the new apartment more organized and unpacking more boxes. Too many tasks, not enough time. There’s a lesson for myself buried in there somewhere. But I’m happy I did decide to say the heck with it and go to the movie for the bulk of the afternoon. What I did get done was satisfying and I didn’t have to feel guilty that I “should have been” at my desk instead.
Will I do it again? Maybe. Possibly I’ll just try to be less intense and laser focused on my everyday routine and build in more time on a daily basis to do other things. I do feel much less stressed and wrapped around various axles today, which is a good thing.
And I do drop everything very happily if I get invited out to lunch by a friend or a chance arises to go see the grandbaby…see, so I’m not a total workaholic, right?
As far as Saturday morning, I didn’t like the feeling of not knowing what I missed but turned out there was nothing cataclysmic or impossible to be resolved if it marinated for 24 hours. After all, I’m dealing with scifi romance these days, not NASA missions to Mars as with the old day job. Hey, maybe I can be less intense! Concept…
And my family knows to text me if they need to get an immediate response. I kept an eye out for that on my vacation. Other than a text request from my teen age grandson for some Lego superhero minifigs, all was quiet.
I like juggling a lot of demands and I do it well as a rule, but apparently brushfires, moving and the holidays can overwhelm even me.
So there’s my report on the one day internet vacation, which all in all was restorative!
(NOTE: Images other than movie poster are either Author’s own or purchased from Depositphoto)