The third instalment in an ongoing series which was born of me not wanting to keep dealing with people’s incredulous looks when I tell them what I do.
I slept badly on Sunday night because my body was angry again for no obvious reason. On both weekend nights I got under two hours’ sleep. At 2:00 on Sunday night / Monday morning I gave up and decided to get some reading done instead. I also queued up blog posts for the next few days.
Exercise is meant to help with the specific kind of problem they think I might have, so at 6am I went to the pool and did laps for half an hour. Even when I’m exhausted, in pain and not really up for anything, I love the pool. The feeling of dipping your head under the water and moving gently through another world is incomparable.
I downed some coffee, queued up articles and social media posts for a couple of clients, went through my inbox, and then had a break for breakfast. Over breakfast I read Life Of Pi by Yann Martel.
Following breakfast I ran payroll for Bohemiacademia, my biggest company and the one that employs around 50 freelancers, plus two full-time employees. Then I grabbed my bag and headed out to the mailbox to pick up my business mail. I also went to the bank to do some business banking, and to the library to print off a giant stack of things I need to read and review over the next few days. The librarian now knows me and automatically goes to get more paper for the printer when she sees me coming.
Quite a pile I’ve got there. Luckily the hospital have told me to take it easy for the next few weeks, which in my case means not much socialising and early bedtimes. Reading papers is one of those things that’s easy to do in bed though, so this confluence of ill health and giant stacks of paperwork is in fact quite handy.
Once home I ordered my payday sushi from Yo! It’s a bit of a tradition now: every month when I’m running payroll, I do so alongside some takoyaki and salmon & avocado temaki. I also normally have a glass of wine while I’m doing my business accounts, but I’d taken some pretty hefty painkillers so I decided that probably wouldn’t be such a great idea.
I had a client call at 5pm, which ended just as the doorbell was ringing with my monthly wine delivery from Your Sommelier. I put the wine away and then ran a bath, which I sat in for a bit reading Life Of Pi and marvelling at the magic of warm water. How does it stop pain so effectively?!
After an hour or so I got out the bath and went to lie on the bed on my towel: at some point I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up a couple of hours later with my face on a book and my neck in a weird position. Looking at the clock I realised I had just enough time to fit in a final swim for the day, but standing up was a bit of a challenge so I turned around, got under the duvet and finally managed a full night’s sleep.
I woke up at 8 and immediately went swimming. The joys of having a broken body that doctors don’t quite understand is that they give you weird advice: rest as much as possible, but also exercise more than you have been doing. This fits in quite well with my plans anyway: I’m trying to swim a mile a day in May, as well as walking for 2.5 miles per day. The walking is because eventually I want to walk around the coastline of Britain, and the swimming’s just for the hell of it. How in the world I believe I’m going to manage to walk 3,700-odd miles when it’s currently difficult to get out of bed in the morning I don’t know, but we’ll see. Maybe the doctors will fix me.
I spent the morning working on client stuff in quite a fractured way: it wasn’t a great day concentration-wise and I found that my mind kept wandering. I’m running about one day behind schedule at the moment: I ran payroll on Monday which was the correct day for it, but I forgot to tell the freelancers I’d paid them, which I did on Tuesday. I’m meant to send out work for each month on the first day of the month, but I forgot to do that on Tuesday, so it got moved to Wednesday instead.
In the afternoons I have a standing appointment, which I went to, and then I went for brunch at the garden centre and spent some time thinking about Kierkegaard.
I wandered home with some plants, which I planted outside my house. So far no one’s stolen them, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
I’d been a bit worried about choir: there was a rehearsal scheduled for the evening, but I’m trying to go to bed early and I was pretty sure I wasn’t really up for staying awake until 10pm, not to mention socialising. In the end it was cancelled anyway, which was a great relief. We should be back to normal rehearsal scheduling next week though, at which point I’ll have to decide what to do.
In the absence of a rehearsal, I spent half an hour going over the songs on my own, trying to get the timing right. My body wasn’t quite up to singing but I made myself speak the words in time, which at least meant I got a bit better at the rhythms.
At some point a box of books arrived, which made me very happy. When the doctors told me to take it easy for a few weeks I emailed the lovely people over at FMCM and said I had some extra reading time available, and asked if they could send me some stuff to review. I find it much easier not to end up filling my evenings with exhausting things that make me ill when I have a pile of books that have to be read by a specific deadline. They sent me these ones, which are up for Debut Book Of The Year at the British Book Awards:
I curled up in the bath with Why Mummy Drinks, which was exactly what you’d expect from the title. Then I got out of the bath and decided that since I was wet anyway, I might as well go swimming before drying myself off, so I went back to the pool for another half-mile swim, then came home and fell immediately asleep.
Woke up, went swimming, came home, sat down to work. I’m still trying to find a to-do list solution that works for me; I much prefer using paper and pens but at the moment my desk is too tiny (it’s shoved in the corner of the kitchen while I renovate the flat) so I’m trialling Omnifocus instead. It’s actually pretty good, and I decided I liked it even more when I discovered the ‘Forecast’ tab which shows you what you’re meant to have done yesterday, and then what you’re meant to do today, and so on for however long you’ve added deadlines to your projects.
As you can see, I’m a bit behind with… well, everything. Although on Wednesday evening after my driving lesson (I went on the main road for the first time! And I didn’t hit anything!) I did manage to watch Life of Pi and study for my theory test. So I’m getting somewhere.
By about 6pm I found myself exhausted so I went to bed, fell asleep on a book (Sirens by Joseph Knox, if you’re interested) and woke up fifteen hours later, somehow still tired.
I decided to have a quiet day since I was so tired when I woke up. It took me three hours to get out of bed, but eventually I did, and I worked for a bit on client stuff before deciding to focus on the proposal for my next book. I asked around and two publishers were recommended, one specific to the tech industry and one a wider academic publishing company who are apparently great to work with.
I spent the afternoon drafting proposals in line with both publishers’ guidelines, then I saved them in my drafts because I wanted to take a fresh look at them in the morning.
By evening I was pretty exhausted, so I went to bed. I fell asleep at 8ish, but then woke up at 1am. At the moment I seem to be sleeping in shifts for no obvious reason. I read Sirens by Joseph Knox until I fell asleep again.
Woke up, went swimming, came home, started work. I worked for a few hours on client projects, then went to pick up some prescriptions and schedule some more appointments with the doctor. While I was outside I walked to the mailbox to pick up my business mail.
When I arrived home I was exhausted, so I got into bed and spent the next several hours doing a fairly mindless repetitive task for one of my clients. I really enjoy these: I find I get into a kind of semi-meditative state, which is quite pleasant. Unusually, when I finished I felt like watching a film, so I found Good Will Hunting on Netflix. I feel like I must have seen it before, but I can’t remember doing so. I have a very bad memory for films I’ve seen, but an excellent memory for books I’ve read.
Watching it reminded me how long it’s been since I’ve spent a day working on some maths. I miss maths. Sometimes when I’m stressed, I take a big maths textbook and just work my way through it until I’m happy and clear-headed again.
Hey, I never claimed to be normal.
I woke up like OH THANK FUCK IT’S THE WEEKEND NO ONE WILL EXPECT ME TO BE AT MY DESK ANSWERING THEIR EMAILS. I decided to take a day off from the computer. I still had a bunch of books to read for the British Book Awards, so I settled down under the covers and started the next one.
After a while I decided to move my book pile outside, since it was a hot day and I thought it might be fun to work on my tan.
I stayed there for long enough to read a book, so about two hours – I finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, which was an amazing feat of literature. Then I came back inside. Walking up the stairs sapped most of my energy, so I went to bed for a while. In bed I read Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney, and started reading My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent, but fell asleep.
At 7pm my alarm woke me: I’d booked a ticket to see Bill Bailey at the Hammersmith Apollo several months ago, and I was determined to go, because when he’s good, he’s very very good.
Happily he was good, and I stumbled home at 10.30pm feeling like it’d been worth the extra exertion.
When I woke up there was blood on my pillow. Never the best sign, but I felt vaguely OK so I stayed in bed for a bit reading more of My Absolute Darling – the final book on the British Book Awards list – before getting up and cleaning the flat a bit. I shoved a load of laundry in the washing machine and decided I probably had enough energy to get on the underground and go visit my friend and her roof terrace.
I arrived in the mid-afternoon and we sat outside, alternately reading, working and chatting. Friends you can ignore some of the time you’re with them are the best friends.
At 6pm I decided it was time to go home to bed, so I got on the tube, came home and watered the outdoor plants. (“Scarlett!” said my busybody neighbour, the only person who calls me by my full legal name except for my mother when she’s angry, “I was going to put a note through your door! Thank you for planting the plants! I’ve left a note out for my neighbours to tell them not to trample on them!” She’s a busybody, but she’s sweet-hearted. I think she’s just lonely and desperate for some form of interaction. I spent a little while with her – she took me upstairs in her apartment block and showed me the viewing terrace from which she surveys her neighbours, which made me feel special – and then I excused myself and went home.)
By 7.30 I was in the bath finishing My Absolute Darling and still finding it immensely relatable, and by 8.30 I was sitting in bed, typing this. Which is now. So, hi.
I’m planning to call my mother for a quick catch-up, then start queueing up blog posts for the week. I’ll probably fall asleep at some point during that, and hopefully when I wake up tomorrow morning the pillow will still be white, with no suspicious red spots.