The latest instalment in a series in which I answer the ongoing question “How do you fit it all in?”, which people ask me when I tell them what I do.
I used to have a client call at 2pm every Monday, then we moved it to 5pm for a while, but recently for some reason we’ve moved it to the unholy hour of ten o’clock in the morning. Now I normally get up between 4 and 8, so it’s not like I’m not awake at 10. But it takes until midday for me to caffeinate sufficiently to have a coherent conversation. So I’m finding our 10am calls a bit of a struggle, although it does help to get them out of the way and then have the day stretching ahead of me.
I’d woken up at 6ish and spent some time proofreading blog posts and updating my Buffer queue for the next couple of weeks, then I’d done a bit of client work and had the call.
After the call I did a couple of urgent bits of work, but then I couldn’t seem to settle, so I thought I’d go swimming.
I’d spent the previous day pulling up the flooring in the living room. I’d been very excited to find beautiful original floorboards. My back was less excited, though, as I found when I hobbled my way over to the pool.
“It’ll be fine when I’m in the water,” I thought. It wasn’t.
I normally swim a mile a day, which is 80 lengths of my local pool, but on Monday I managed ten before I had to concede defeat. I spent some time in the jacuzzi and then in the steam room trying to soothe my aching muscles & bones, then went home. In the afternoon it was difficult to stand up, let alone walk around. Luckily nothing required me to do much standing. In fact I took work to bed and stayed there for most of the afternoon.
Work was business-related stuff: sorting through mail, running payroll, doing my accounts. By 4.30pm I was done. A thunderstorm was edging its way across West London, so I went and stood outside on the green and enjoyed the rain. I’m probably known by my neighbours as ‘that weird lady who stands in the rain’ but I don’t care. I love the rain.
Back inside, I spent some time looking down the #FourDreamProjects hashtag on Twitter, which prompted me to think about my own:
– Write a paper on solitary witchcraft rituals through the lens of Kierkegaard’s individual/absolute distinction;
– Finish ‘Nighttime Blues’ which is the best song I’ve written, or it would be if I finished it;
– Write a Kierkegaardian take on George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss;
– Publish a novel.
Then I thought, why not start working on one of them now? So I settled down in bed with Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and a couple of papers about his philosophy, and started writing about the individual in relation to the absolute in relation to witchcraft. It ended up being a rambling essay about gods and Necessary Beings and necessity and contingency and individuals and teleological suspensions. I’m fairly sure it won’t make sense when I re-read it, but perhaps some of it will be salvageable.
I fell asleep surprisingly quickly, at about 10.45, and didn’t wake up until 8am. Finally I got my sleep mojo back.
Woke up, got up, started work. In the morning I queued up some content for a couple of my clients; went through my inbox; queued some social media posts for clients; went through one client’s 85 Facebook groups to check for spam; and did some business admin.
At 12.30 the piano tuner arrived, and at 12.35 I had a client call, which was a bit of a challenge considering the noise from the other room, but we made it work. Finally my piano is in tune again!
In the afternoon I had my usual appointment, then I went to the garden centre to continue my notes on Kierkegaard and see whether what I’d written the night before made any sense. It sort of did? It needs a lot more work though.
By the time I got home it was almost time to leave for my choir rehearsal. I did a bit of work for a client, then grabbed my stuff and headed out. Rehearsal finished at 9.45; I walked home, arriving at 10.30, and went straight to bed.
I woke up and worked until 3pm. I had a bunch of client calls – clients do tend to freak out when you’re going abroad, even if you’re working the whole time you’re there – and then dealt with some general admin. At 3.30 I had a driving lesson, which was predictably terrifying but slightly less so than the previous one, so that was nice.
I got home at 6pm, packed my suitcase for the USA, and decided to get an early night.
ALL the last-minute preparations. Money for the plant sitter: check. Travel money: check. Have I definitely packed everything I need: check. Etc.
I got to the airport at 11am and was on the plane by half one. I spent the nine hours of the first flight reading.
When I got off the plane I could barely move. The left side of my body is a bit fucked at the moment and no one’s quite sure why. They think it’s either nerve damage or my body trying to kill another organ, but until I’ve been for another round of tests they won’t know for sure. In general it gets worse at the end of the day, by which point I sometimes find it hard to walk. I’d been anticipating that spending nine hours on a plane probably wouldn’t be great for it, and I was correct, so I was glad I’d brought a mobility aid for the airport.
Let me tell you, walking through the airport leaning on a cane whilst carrying a travel bag that includes a pile of books that high in the other hand? Not easy. I should have ordered one of those little golf cart things you can be driven around in, but I’m very bad at asking for stuff so I didn’t.
My initial flight had arrived early and my connecting flight was delayed. I was happy about this, because I was moving at roughly the pace of a lethargic tortoise. Seeing this, one of the airport staff gave me a kind smile and said “Just take your time” and I almost cried. But I took his advice and stopped trying to move fast, and that made it a bit easier.
I got to the designated gate and plonked down on a seat, where I stayed until the next flight arrived. I read another book on that flight, and then I was in South Carolina! How exciting. My favourite place. I left the airport, got a cab to my motel, and was pleased to find it clean and supplied with a pool.
I unpacked, then went to bed – it was 12am local time, 5am UK time – and woke up a few hours later, at 5am local time.
I started the day off on the beach, because I remembered Myrtle Beach’s sunrises were quite pretty. I was not wrong.
Overnight my left side had got a bit better, and while it still hurt to walk it was no longer necessary to use the mobility aid, which I was happy about for a couple of reasons, the main one being that it’s annoying having one hand taken up with holding a stick all the time.
Following sunrise on the beach, I went for breakfast at a waffle house, where this conversation occurred:
I was very tired.
At 10am my time I had a call with a client in the UK, then I did a bit of work, and then the dual call of the beach and the pool was too strong, so I jacked it all in for the day and hung out in the sun.
In the evening I bumped into the motel owner, who asked: “Do you drink?”
I replied enthusiastically in the affirmative.
She recommended an oceanfront bar a few blocks away, which I decided to try out. Unusually, I ordered a cocktail from the menu, which turned out to be fantastic, and the bar’s balcony was a lovely location from which to watch the setting of the sun and look at the fishing boats bobbing around in the twilight. Motel Lady, I thoroughly approve of your recommendation.
I wandered back to the motel and fell asleep almost immediately. I slept for eight full hours without any interruptions, which hasn’t happened in I don’t know how long.
Saturday was my first full day of just chilling out. The conference for which I’d come to South Carolina would begin on the Sunday, and although I’d done some chilling on Friday I’d also done a bit of work. So Saturday was a day for doing sweet FA.
I pottered around indoors for a while, then went for breakfast, then at 9am I took myself to the beach, hired a deck chair and an umbrella for the day, and installed myself with some books.
I stayed there all day, apart from a couple of brief breaks to buy frozen yoghurt or ice lollies and use the loo.
At 4.30 they packed up the deck chairs, so I went back to my motel and swapped the ocean for a pool. I do love a pool, but there’s nothing like swimming in the ocean. The freedom of it, the way you can dive into the waves or wait for them to push you along towards the sand like you’re just another piece of sea debris.
By 6pm I was back in my room. I finished the book I was reading, then decided to get an early night and fell asleep unusually quickly.
I woke up at 6am and went to watch the sunrise on the beach again. Can’t get enough of this sunrise.
Then I took myself for breakfast at a nearby café. I am having some problems with the food here, or rather my body is. I’m not sure it’s going to be able to cope with it, and I may just have to stop eating and live off my fat reserves for the next week. To be honest that’s probably not such a terrible idea.
I didn’t have to leave for work until midday, so I spent the morning sitting on the beach with a Kierkegaard paper.
Then I came back to the motel and attempted to make myself look halfway presentable despite the humidity making my hair foofy and the sun making me bright red and the combination of pool chlorine and sea salt making my eyes permanently pink.
I arrived at the conference a bit late, because I’d forgotten that the cabs here work on beach time so when you book one for half eleven it in fact arrives at 12.15. But soon I was installed in the conference centre typing away on my laptop, live tweeting the presentations and schmoozing in the breaks.
There was a happy hour at the end of the day, then I went back to my motel and tried the Apothic rosé which I’d picked up from the corner shop a few days earlier.
It was fine – there wasn’t anything wrong with it – but it doesn’t have the same sweet velvety smoothness that makes their reds stand out. Nonetheless it was a pleasant way to end the day.