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Ambarwen Oromendur: Interlude in the Shire


oromendur

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"The Hobbits named it the Shire…and there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk." (The Fellowship of the Ring)

 

Greetings Adventurers, it's your resident Tolkien-obsessed comrade here, checking in late as usual...

 

Since I respawned earlier this year, I haven't missed a single four-week challenge, and there has only been one in which I wasn't able to meet my stated criteria for success. I've got a pretty good thing going, I think, and it has really made a difference in many of the habits of my life. But this time around I just don't have the wherewithal to put anything together that would be well-considered and meaningful and positive. Of course, I could just keep swinging the same stick in the same way I have been recently, but honestly it's starting to feel perfunctory. I just don't want to, dammit. I need a change. So I'm not going to do a quantitative challenge this time. I'm going to hand the management of the quants over to Habitica (which frankly is much better at it than I am, despite its many UI problems) and just chill out here for a month.

 

I am NOT giving up my challenge streak, though! So, although I'm going to take a break from the excitement of my continuing journey through Middle-earth, I do intend to enjoy some quality downtime in the Shire.

 

Life quest: The Red Book of Westmarch

"I have done this and that. I have written some more of my book." ~Bilbo Baggins (The Fellowship of the Ring)

 

Unfortunately it just isn't possible to let this one go. My unexpected whirlwind adventures last challenge were exciting, but unfortunately I fell way behind on the dissertation front. I feel pretty good about how I've started to get myself back on track this past week, both in the patterns of writing and the actual production of paragraphs, and I need to keep it up. This is the only quantitative measurement I will report on here: I will write at least SOMETHING in my dissertation document every day. Without fail. To keep this from being a perfectionist trap, I am explicitly permitted to open the document and type some sort of self-pitying garbage about how I didn't win the battle against Resistance on any given day. That will count. Electrons are free, I have a delete key and I know how to use it, and there is nothing more mutable than the first draft of a dissertation -- so the next day, when I get back on the horse, I'll delete the crap and move on. So, yeah. EVERY DAY.

 

For the rest of my efforts this time around I don't have any specific quests. Instead, I am aiming at two soft targets; they are to be considered intentions, more guides to daily choices than specific demands or hard requirements, and while I will report on them when I check in here periodically, I won't be counting anything.


Target #1: Improve my external environment

"‘I shan’t call it the end, till we’ve cleared up the mess,’ said Sam gloomily. ‘And that’ll take a lot of time and work.’" (The Return of the King)

 

There are so many home things screaming for my attention right now: rodents chewing up the wires in my car, a nasty note from the fire inspector about the disaster that is my landscaping, never mind the leaky roof or the broken shower valve or the rage-inducing barely functional washing machine or...gods, the list goes on forever. It's overwhelming. In the next four weeks I would like to take some baby steps towards resolution on some of these. I will try to get my mind around the next steps on the big things that are beating down on me, with the intention of having a plan of action for when I start walking the challenge path again. Also, a friend is coming to stay for a few nights during Week 3. Those of you familiar with my recent challenges will know that having guests is pretty much the only thing that works to make me clean my house...  I will take the actions necessary to get my hobbit hole into a fit state to welcome my friend.  

 

Target #2: Improve my internal environment

"The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song." (The Fellowship of the Ring)

 

I'm tired. I'm grumpy. I'm stressed. I'm running out of money and time and I feel like the world is conspiring to spin me off my axis and prevent me from doing my work, with the hardest deadline in the history of hard deadlines menacingly looming just beyond the horizon. I can't afford to get distracted. I can't afford to waste energy on things that will keep me from finishing this dissertation. But still -- if I'm going to get through this, I need to make a conscious effort to perform regular psychological maintenance on myself. There are lots of things I can do to keep my mind and emotions hitched to the carriage and pulling rather than spastically bouncing around all over the place and yanking me off track. It's an effort to keep my attitude under control, but I will consciously work on making that effort. Julia Cameron talks about the benefits of Artist Dates; I'm not going to commit to anything specific like that, but I will make an effort to take my inner child out for ice cream once in a while :) I will do little things just for the fun of it in the next four weeks, and I will enjoy them, dammit. Watch this space for tales of Shire-fun!  

 

All of that said, I am not quite going to spend every moment in my quiet corner of the Shire this challenge; I am still an Adventurer, and there will be adventures... The reason my friend is coming to stay is because there is a big medieval camping event in central California over the holiday weekend in October: Great Western War. I used to do this sort of thing several times a year, back in the pre-dissertation days. Now I pretty much don't play anymore unless this particular friend is involved. She lives on the East Coast and needs logistics support to make events; I provide said support (storage of camping gear, rides to and from the airport, crash space before and after) and in return she pays pays my entrance fees and puts gas in my car. I know I really shouldn't go. It's a distraction I REALLY don't need right now. But I promised, and I don't feel right backing out just because I'm up against a deadline. So I'll drive us up, and I'll get to see friends I don't ever get to see anymore, and maybe play some music and eat and drink too much and remember what non-dissertation life feels like. I don't think I'll be fighting -- my armor is utterly unserviceable and needs more of an investment in time, money, and energy than I'm willing to contemplate right now. Besides, if I don't spend hours and hours on the field every day, I can huddle in the corner of the pavilion with my (very un-medieval) headphones on and type words on my (also non-period) iPad and not lose the entire weekend. But it will still be an adventure. Adventures are good.

 

Good luck to everyone else in your adventures this challenge!

  • Like 5

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 ]

[ Current: The Red Book ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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Studies show time and time again that working "crunch" may be effective short term (although debatable), but cannot work long term.*

 

Let yourself have your adventure. Prioritise your time around it to work on the dissertation knowing you're taking that time off. Yes, off I said! *affects Mum voice. She's been practising*

 

Rest is important. It's true. I read a book about it and everything :P

 

***

 

I've been having trouble with my challenges lately myself. They're not quite working out for me in their current form. Part of taking this challenge "off" is to reflect on that. I love the NF community, so I want it to work somehow for me. Maybe I'll have an answer for the next one. 

 

*Mr of Vries works in the video games industry, which is famous for its abuse of "crunch" time.

  • Like 3

Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Epic Quest: Tales of Owlshire 
Instagram

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Welcome back! I know well how chaotic life can be. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  • Like 1

Who am I? -- My NF Character

Current Challenge: WolfDreamer, The Mad Poet, Becomes Superhuman

Past Challenges: 

Spoiler

Winter is ComingWolfen Strengthens His Heart, Body, Mind, and Spirit, Wolfen Becomes One of the PeopleWolfen Strengthens His ChakrasWolfen Welcomes Summer and Gets Primal, Soulcon and Spartan, Wolfen Develops Mental ToughnessWolfen Joins the Wander SocietySoulcon, Spartan, School, and Stranger ThingsWolfen Becomes a Warrior EliteWolfen Goes Here and There and Back AgainWolfen Becomes a Soulcon Warrior EliteWolfen Returns to His RootsWolfen Wanders in Soul, Spirit, and BodyWolfen Owns the DayWolfen Searches for His Wild Heart, Wolfen Runs for His LifeWolfen Hits the TrailsWolfen Becomes an Explorer and Joins the ResistanceWolfen Goes Back to the SourceWolfen Begins the Hero's JourneyWolfDreamer Returns to the People,  WolfDreamer Pushes BackWolfDreamer PrioritizesBurpees, Books, and BrainworkBurpees, Books, Brainwork, and BodyworkWolfDreamer Masters the Four ElementsWolfDreamer Continues to Master the Four ElementsWolfDreamer Returns to SpartaWolfDreamer Returns to Middle EarthWolfDreamer Continues His Middle Earth AdventureWolfDreamer and the FallWolfDreamer Forges His Own PathWolfDreamer Has HopeWolfDreamer Returns to Middle EarthWolfDreamer Reads Harder, Breathes Harder, and Journals MoreWolfDreamer Embraces His Wild PoetThe Mad Poet Becomes Supernatural

I'd rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.” -- Jack London

“I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love.” -- Leo Tolstoy

"I feel love rising in my chest again
Rising like a burning sun into the day..." -- Gungor, "Hurricane"

"...wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17b

 

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[WEEK 1 UPDATE]

 

This first week of my non-challenge has been a strange combination of stressful and productive. The main stress centered around some emergency DIY plumbing repair and worry about the deadline for the fire re-inspection. But, in that curious way that busy people seem to be able to get more done the busier they are, the writing didn't actually get subsumed into the stress.

 

Life quest: The Red Book of Westmarch

Done Mon-Sun. Some days I wrote more than others, and some days I just cleaned up a sentence or two from my 4TW scratch pad and pasted it in -- but I opened my document and added to it every day. This is an enormous win, considering how easy it would be to let the demands of my external environment wipe this out (as it has, almost without exception, in the past). I think that allowing the absolute minimum -- even one word would count -- is the secret here. If I open the document I'm very likely to do at least a little bit of work. A wise writing mentor once said "It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write." This is very VERY true. Structuring  a challenge in a way that focuses on the sitting down rather than the writing is a good strategy, I think.  

 

Target #1: Improve my external environment

Well, this target ended up getting FAR more attention this week than I would have preferred :( 

 

Long and involved plumbing story:

Spoiler

 

On Tuesday morning, while heading to the kitchen to make tea, I hear a huge loud SPLOOSH from the laundry closet. Loud SPLOOSHes are never good (especially in my ramshackle place). I peek in, worried, but the water heater is still intact and there's no water on the floor or anything. I shrug and open the tap to fill the kettle, and the water comes out in a bare trickle. [BLEEP]. Instinctively I start filling a few big water bottles in case of total failure; the water never stops completely, though, it just keeps trickling. Clearly I have a pressure problem, not a supply problem.

 

I immediately think about the stupid pressure regulator valve installed by the busybody plumber hired by the solar install folks back in the day, when they demolished the old solar water system to make room for PV panels. Some quick internet research confirms that the failure of this valve could cause a low-pressure problem. Some more research convinces me it's a repair I can handle; the valve can either be reconditioned or fairly straightforwardly replaced. I grab a big wrench and head out to survey the situation, maybe take the cover off the valve and see what state it was in. Is my biggest wrench anywhere near big enough to handle the huge 3" fitting? OF COURSE NOT. Grr.

 

So far, so typical. But here's where the story goes off track... So I say to myself, "Well, [BLEEP]. I'm going to have to go buy a pipe wrench. But while I'm there, and while I have the water off, I might as well replace that broken shower valve, and take care of one of the things I wanted to start thinking about during this challenge. I'll get the supplies for that too." So off I go to the Home Depot for stuff. I get stuff. I get home. I have a repair kit and a new handle and a nice new pair of channel lock pliers. I do NOT have a replacement PRV because it was expensive enough to convince me to attempt the reconditioning. You know what else it turns out I don't have? A pipe wrench. I forgot the [BLEEP]ing wrench.

 

I don't have time now to go back. I turn the water off and pull off the pieces of the PRV I can get to (basically just the adjustment screw) and poke around for a while. I don't see anything wrong. I put the screw back in and turn the water back on and LO AND BEHOLD the pressure is now higher than normal. I shrug and head to dance class. 

 

On Wednesday (after I do my writing in the morning, well done me) the water pressure still seems all right, and I'm able to adjust it up and down at the valve just fine. I don't know what went wrong, but it's no longer an emergency -- so I figure I might as well tackle the stupid shower. This thing has been like this for YEARS. I'm not actually sure how many, but it's more than a couple.

 

image.png

 

I've been turning it on and off with a rusty old wrench that lives on the floor of my bathroom, banging hard on the wall at the end of my shower to get the valve to mostly close, and then using a bucket to catch the inevitable drips. YEARS of this, I tell you! I'm going to fix it now, dammit. Yay for internet challenges.

 

A quick YouTube refresher later, I've turned off the water and am attacking the thing with my new channel locks. It's stuck hard. I give it some oomph, and then some more, and then even a bit more -- and then it lets go far too quickly and I realize that, instead of removing the outer connector, I've torn the entire valve extension off the wall. Sure enough, it comes off in my hand, and there are now three completely unblocked holes staring at me out of a maze of copper pipes.

 

image.png

 

Mother[BLEEP]ing [BLEEP] -- now I won't be able to turn the water on again until I sort out this new (and far more complicated) repair problem.

 

Back to the internet. I am NOT prepared to risk starting a fire by inexpert use of a torch to solder copper, so at first I fear I'm going to have to go without running water for a few days until I can get someone I can't afford in to do a repair caused by my own stupidity. It turns out that push fittings are a thing now, though, so back to Home Depot I go. It's late enough when I get back that I resolve to seal the broken valve with some epoxy putty, get a good night's sleep, and tackle the repair the next day.

 

image.png

 

Unfortunately it turns out that I'm just as useless at applying epoxy as I was at removing valve covers, and the scene of aqueous chaos spewing in all directions when I turn the water on makes me say a lot of words I learned from sailors back in the day. I start trying to cut out the valve. It's tight quarters and unfamiliar work and I fail utterly. Finally, after an hour of hopeless flailing, I gave up on the project and resolve to call someone in the morning. But then I decide I might as well do as much prep work as possible to keep the cost down. 

 

I cut a huge hole in the drywall to allow the plumber easy access. Hm. It really is much easier to get at from this side. Maybe I can cut the valve out now? One less thing for the plumber to do? I try to cut the pipes again, and the satisfying POP made by the first pipe as it lets go is very encouraging. Four POPs later I have a badly-epoxied valve in my hand and an empty space in the wall.

 

image.png

 

I sit there for a long time, squinting down at the replacement valve laying among scattered push fittings on the floor. Could I? Maybe? An hour of sweating and swearing later, I HAVE INSTALLED MY NEW SHOWER VALVE.

 

image.png

 

I turn on the water. Anticlimactic silence. I feel like I should hear angels singing or something, but there's nothing. Not a drip. I breathe a deep sigh of relief as it appears the push fittings are doing their thing just fine.

 

The tub is yet unusable (it still needs a handle and a new faucet) and the mess in the bathroom is EPIC.

 

image.png

 

But it's 0130 and I am mentally and physically exhausted. The water is on, though, so finally I can give up and go to bed.

 

There's no making this particular long story short, but that's the end of the interesting bit. It took a few more days and a few more trips to Home Depot before I got the whole thing functioning again -- but now I feel like an absolute BADASS for conquering this dragon that has been snarling at me for many, many years. Oddly enough, I still haven't figured out what caused the pressure drop that kicked off this avalanche of plumbing adventures :)   

 

The next-closest alligator to my canoe is the defensible space cleanup. The fire inspector left a long list of requirements and a re-inspection deadline of Monday. By Friday none of the people I've contacted about it have gotten back to me, and I realize I've procrastinated far too long. Hell, I think -- if I can survive a plumbing project like that, surely I can cut down a few dead trees?

 

Less long and involved, incomplete, but still probably overwritten fire cleanup story:

Spoiler

 

It's no wonder the fire inspector was unimpressed -- I have basically ignored my landscaping for nine full years. Not a good plan in wildfire country. I have fescue bunches six feet high and four feet deep in places, and some of those places include the pavers of my driveway...

 

20180924_122026_smudged.jpg

 

I knew a reckoning was coming, and come it has. Staring at the legalistic nastygram, I start breaking the tasks down in my head in perfect NF style, and none of them seems completely impossible. I mean, I even have an old electric chainsaw in my shed I ordered four or five years ago, so I don't have to buy anything more, right? 

 

Well, I suppose I do need oil... In my plumbing flailing about I had discovered a fairly new hardware store chain in the area had given up and was going out of business, so on Saturday I head over there to see what I can see. I'm disappointed to learn I probably should have come here for those fairly expensive push fittings (sigh) but it's far too late for that, so I grit my teeth and let it go. I buy bar and chain oil, as well as an electric hedge trimmer to tackle all those fescues. (I also get some bits and bobs I don't need at reduced prices -- citronella candles, patio decor, a big lovely padded folding chair perfect for covering with a faux fur blanket at a medieval event -- because by now I'm kind of inured to the pain of swiping my credit card in a home improvement store.) 

 

I get home, run my extension cord, and spend a good hour figuring out how to install the bar and tension the chain on my el cheapo chainsaw. Then I put on reasonably protective clothing, plug it in, pick it up, and buzz it experimentally a few times. Good. I can do this. I try it out on a two-inch dead branch. It buzzes, tears, cuts a bit, and then [BLEEP]ING DIES. Seriously. It didn't even get through the branch. LESS THAN ONE INCH OF CUTTING. In the afternoon sun, precious time burning away, I go at the thing with a screwdriver. Everything seems fine -- it just won't start. I think the switch is dead. Can I get a replacement switch? To the internet! No. I can't. Of course not. Grrrrr.

 

Back to the discount hardware place. They only have one electric chainsaw left and it's missing an oil cap. They refuse to give me something that will work to replace the missing part and I am now nearly frantic with time-fear, so I leave it at the register and go to Home Depot to buy one that works. By the time I get back home and figure out the new and completely different chain mechanism, I only have a few hours of daylight left -- and it turns out (quelle surprise) that cutting down trees is slow and difficult work. I don't get through very much of it at all.

 

Which should be fine, because I have all day Sunday, but I have to do my writing (did it! Well done me!) and then I have to make a trip down to a friend's house to pick up my share of household gear to schlep to the medieval event in two weeks. It's mid-afternoon before I put on my jeans and my work shirt and my gloves and get started. Of course everything goes MUCH more slowly than I hope, and by the time the light fails I haven't even finished with cutting out all the dead trees, never mind the tall grass or the limbing up of the overgrown live trees or, heck, even breaking down the untidy tangled piles of the trees I did cut down. I am exhausted and disheartened. I drag tree carcasses down to the bottom of my back garden until it's too dark to see (and I can hardly walk). If the inspector returns tomorrow as threatened, will he count what I've done as progress and give me a pass? Or will there be an expensive fine to pay on top of all of this suffering? I have no idea.

 

Two gin and tonics later, I have read the San Diego County fire code and it appears that they have to do two more inspections before they can cite me. I go to bed somewhat relieved -- it's now just a matter of continuing this strangely functional pattern of writing in the morning and backbreaking work in the afternoon until I manage to tick off everything on their list.

 

So that's where things stand. I don't know what strange alchemical brew has granted me this odd combination of motivation and energy, but I'm going to take advantage of it as long as I can. It's like I've finally broken through some sort of wall; the me I've been living with for about a year now would never have started any of these things, much less had the mental toughness to persevere through them. Is it the deadlines? Is it the financial pressure? Is it just the fact that summer has finally started to recede and I can feel human again? I don't know. But I'm grateful that it looks like I might get through this after all.

 

Target #2: Improve my internal environment

Um. Well. Yeah -- I don't feel like I've been doing as well on this one; I hope very much that I'm not burning through all that aforementioned energy too fast, because I haven't been able to do much at all to replenish it. BUT I have a cunning plan: if I can get the fire cleanup done in the next few afternoons, later this week I am going to dig out a special tech toy I bought a while back. I had planned to save it for when I finish my dissertation. I'm not going to wait. I'm going to install it, and I'm going to play with it NOW instead of letting it sit in my closet gathering obsolescence while I fight with myself. I seem to have an unusual amount of Getting[BLEEP]Done mojo going on -- might as well use it for my second target too! Watch this space for further details, if I manage to prove successful :)

 

This update ended up being REALLY long, sorry... I don't really have anyone in my life now with whom I can routinely commiserate, and facing all of this by myself with deadlines looming is kind of overwhelming, so you guys are getting the brunt of my huge self-serving dump of "look at me, I'm a competent human being after all." Even though I know none of this is all that big of a deal, I've been so useless for so long that I feel like a damned superhero right now :) Thanks for being there, for reading this, and for being part of the weird NF magic of accountability for me!

 

"We have a long way to go, and there is time ahead for thought. It is something to have started." ~Treebeard (The Two Towers)

 

 

  • Like 2

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 ]

[ Current: The Red Book ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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On 9/18/2018 at 1:31 AM, Ann of Vries said:

Studies show time and time again that working "crunch" may be effective short term (although debatable), but cannot work long term.

 

Acknowledged. You're absolutely right, and I know it. But I'm kind of in a short-term mindset right now because DEADLINES.

 

On 9/18/2018 at 1:31 AM, Ann of Vries said:

Let yourself have your adventure. Prioritise your time around it to work on the dissertation knowing you're taking that time off. Yes, off I said! *affects Mum voice. She's been practising*

 

Yes Mum!

I mean, er, whatever... Shut up Mum

 

On 9/18/2018 at 1:31 AM, Ann of Vries said:

I've been having trouble with my challenges lately myself. They're not quite working out for me in their current form. Part of taking this challenge "off" is to reflect on that. I love the NF community, so I want it to work somehow for me. Maybe I'll have an answer for the next one. 

 

Feeling you on this one. It's been really hard recently. Surprisingly enough, as much as I hate its UI, I've found Habitica to be fairly useful for motivating me to do the little niggling things I'm supposed to be doing every day. When the morning or evening routine was a big challenge deal I sort of rebelled against it -- but for some reason, a desire not to break a streak on Habitica is enough to prompt me to get over myself, and I've maintained things like meditation and morning pages without a lot of fuss since the end of the last challenge. Habitica is NOT working for big things though, things that are big to me at least like routine housecleaning or one-and-done to-dos like the various requirement alligators pursuing me right now. I think I still need to do some challenge work around those. And we're not even going to talk about weight loss or exercise... But I think it's a matter of having lots of different tools in the toolbox so that when one thing quits working for a while, we can try something else, and maybe when we go back we'll have a new perspective. I don't know. 

 

Typing out that above description of the comically difficult week I just had was a very therapeutic exercise, though. Even if I know hardly anybody will read it. You are always pleasant and supportive and positive to me here -- thank you so much! I hope you don't give up on NF completely. I would miss you :)

 

I don't know that I'll do another full-on challenge until after December (conservation of energy and willpower and all that), but I think I might keep up these loosely-organized weekly ramblings. We'll have to see how things go.

 

On 9/18/2018 at 8:53 AM, Wolfen said:

Welcome back! I know well how chaotic life can be. Let me know if I can help in any way.

 

Thanks Wolfen! Hope you're surviving your own chaos :) 

  • Like 2

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 ]

[ Current: The Red Book ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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Re: crunch time

 

I hear you there. I feel as if most of my life has been forced into some sort of crunch time since April. But dissertations and projects do that. Hopefully, once this is up there can be more relaxing. 

 

Always happy to read up on the adventures. Long live the adventures! 

  • Like 1

Adventurer, Half-Dwarf Chaotic-Good Paladin

Ne me dites jamais les chances!  ¡Nunca me digas las probabilidades!

Character Sheet Training Logs Challenges Prepping for Adventure PrepAdventure Prep Fall BabyWhen Are We Again, Anyway?WhirlwindThe Leaf's LocusHarnessing Hamingja New Roots More Beginnings, More Roots Cleaning Up Facing The Hailstorm Yo Ho Yo The... Keto Life For Me? Taming the Beast Another Step Towards the Future Baking, Suburban Homesteading, and Health, The Adventurers of the Lucky Vale IIIIIIIVVVI, VII VIIIIX

Spoiler

Perennial goals: Sleep 7+ hours a night, retain (and continue to learn) French and Spanish as a family, increase Spanish Proficiency for work and play,  read like a maniac on my own and with my kids, carry heavy stuff

Long term goals: Cut to 13-15% bodyfat, And now that I'm grown I eat five dozen eggs, so I'm roughly the size of a baaaaarge! -> Someday I'll challenge a Disney world Gaston to a push up contest and win

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On 9/24/2018 at 9:47 PM, oromendur said:

I don't really have anyone in my life now with whom I can routinely commiserate, and facing all of this by myself with deadlines looming is kind of overwhelming, so you guys are getting the brunt of my huge self-serving dump of "look at me, I'm a competent human being after all." Even though I know none of this is all that big of a deal, I've been so useless for so long that I feel like a damned superhero right now :) Thanks for being there, for reading this, and for being part of the weird NF magic of accountability for me!

 

You are a damned superhero ^_^ I always look forward to your posts, and we all have a need to feel heard by someone.

 

 

  • Like 2

Druid and Adventurer

The Wye/Dean, UK

Epic Quest: Tales of Owlshire 
Instagram

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Oh, my. Yes. Something about a challenge? Was there a challenge here?

 

(sigh)

 

It's been a rough few weeks, honestly. I don't even know where to start -- maybe the last weekend in September? Yeah, that's kind of when things went off the rails.

 

So the San Diego chapter of USA Dance planned their annual National Ballroom Dance Week celebration for that weekend. When I wasn't looking I sort of got appointed to be a member of the board of that chapter, so I felt obligated to support the events; we went salsa dancing on Friday night, drove up to Orange County for a three-chapter combined dance on Saturday night, and had a picnic and performed a swing/foxtrot flash mob in Balboa Park on Sunday. None of these is a bad thing, and they would ordinarily make for a fun dancing weekend. But it was energy and time I couldn't spare, and things sort of went downhill from there.

 

I was talking about my fire cleanup woes with one of my dance friends at our traditional sangria-fest after the flash mob. She is newly unemployed, so -- recognizing that I was feeling overwhelmed enough that some outside perspective would be beneficial -- I asked her to come over the next day to help me get my head around the project. I think I was expecting an hour's walk around the property, the making of a list, some chatting about options and then maybe lunch and she'd head home, but no. I had made the mistake of asking a super-extroverted just-fired revved-up world-champion dancer to my house to solve a problem. Wow. She showed up full of vim and vigor and just steamrolled over all of my hesitance, whether over opening the box with the chainsaw on a pole in it or over piling up dead bushes and dragging mulch down to the canyon or even (gasp) over talking to my neighbor and asking if I could put a pile of palm fronds in his dumpster. We got SO much work done that day -- it was awesome. But it also wasn't. Because by about mid-afternoon, my body decided it was finished. The anemia I thought I'd banished a few menstrual periods ago suddenly reappeared with a vengeance and I nearly passed out carrying the last bin of leaves down to the canyon. She helped me clean up and headed home, still bubbling -- and once she was gone I collapsed into a limp pile of dishrags on my bedroom floor.

 

Did I mention that this was the one day I had set aside to clean up the house for my friend from the East Coast who was arriving on Tuesday?

 

The house didn't get clean. I did change the sheets and wipe down the guest bathroom, but I couldn't manage anything more. The next day, still exhausted and clearly symptomatic anemic, I dragged myself to the airport and got my friend, who needed chauffeuring all over creation for shopping and gear pickup and preparation. The next day was supposed to be a working day for me while she did all of the prep work for the medieval feast she had signed up to cook on Saturday. But she is so rarely in California that she made plans to see some mutual friends who were not going to make it up to the war -- and so we had breakfast with our Tai Chi teacher, lunch with a pair of early music friends, and dinner with another friend whose husband has been seriously ill. She didn't even start cooking until we got home at 9:30…and then the next day we drove up to the war.

 

I have to admit I had a pretty good time. I used my dissertation as my excuse for not fighting (bonus: I didn't have to admit to being weak and wobbly from the anemia, not to mention out of shape) and actually got some decent work done in the mornings on Friday and Saturday. There was music (a group of us put together a pick-up team to represent our Barony in a regional bardic competition and we won), and eating and drinking and partying, and I even got on a horse and rode for the first time in <mumblemumble> years. But having to pack up and leave on Sunday night was draining, and it was a long dark miserable drive back home, and then the next thing on the fun-but-exhausting conveyor belt was two days at Disneyland…

 

By the time I put my friend on the airplane this past Wednesday (she was leaving at 7 am and so we were up at quarter to 5 to do it) I was pretty close to shutting down completely, mentally and physically. I fell into a pit. I am only now clawing my way back out of it. Introvert recovery? Yes. Physical illness and exhaustion? Yes. Stress response? Definitely.

 

Did I really have time for any of that? Unfortunately the answer is a resounding NO.

 

Today, finally, with the calendar encouragement of a shiny Monday morning and a new week unburdened by any unexpected requirements, I have recovered enough physically and mentally to re-start the routines that were anchoring me to my work. The last time I typed anything into my dissertation was over a week ago, the last time I did any yard work was exactly two weeks ago. Painful deadlines for both of these efforts are looming.

 

It doesn't seem worth it to do a challenge wrap-up, but I guess I will, for process's sake if nothing else.

 

Life quest: The Red Book of Westmarch

WEEK 2: Done Mon-Sun.

WEEK 3: Done Mon-Sat.

WEEK 4: Done, um, nope, not done at all. Not one day (sigh)

I guess, even though it feels like forever, I really only lost a week. But I still failed to meet the (very low) bar I set for myself.

 

Target #1: Improve my external environment

The huge progress made on the yard cleanup with the help of my dance friend in Week 3 is a positive; the failure to clean up for my SCA friend (and the subsequent failure to do anything whatsoever in Week 4) is a negative. If I were to assess how well I managed to follow this intention, I'd classify it as a wash.

 

Target #2: Improve my internal environment

This one I have to class as a failure, I'm afraid. Things that should have been (and actually were) fun were also painfully difficult at the same time, and I don't feel like I managed things on this front very well at all.

 

I suppose the upshot of this long and self-pitying post is that I didn't meet my challenge goals. But it wasn't a very serious challenge anyway, and time marches on regardless, so I guess in the end it doesn't matter. I'm back now. I will pick up the pieces (again) and start (again) and I will put something together for the next four-week challenge (again).

 

All right, Resistance -- fine. You win this round. Next time, though... <shakes fist at sky>

 

"Tonight I shall sleep without fear for the first time since I left Rivendell. And may I sleep deep, and forget for a while my grief ! I am weary in body and in heart." ~Aragorn (The Fellowship of the Ring)

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hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 ]

[ Current: The Red Book ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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