Day of the Living Dead [I will get to real updates soon]

Some are going to find this really funny, and others are going to find it a little sad. As always, fair warning.

I was thinking earlier about my daily routine, and how it breaks down. It’s funny, when you don’t really do anything, you have a lot of people call into question your level of productivity, so I thought maybe for my vindication, I might write something up, and just show people [mainly myself], how I fill the hours, and the semi-schedule I’ve got myself on.

I should preface by saying this is an outline of my “ideal” day – not ideal in the sense of what I want to do, but ideal to the description presented here. Real days tend to fall on one side of this or other, but I figure if you were to average my activities together on a much larger scale, this would be about accurate.

As most of you know, I’m currently living with my grandmother, and remain unemployed, with the possibility of a sorta cool job/opportunity come December/January. Because of that, and because I’m apparently the least employable person to ever fill out a resume, I’ve been using this time to assist her, and focus on some of the artistic projects I’ve had in mind lately.

To the matter at hand. My day tends to start about 11:00 in the morning, which for most people isn’t morning at all, but I haven’t been sleeping well, so the few hours I get as the sun is coming up has become pretty important. I keep things from 11-2 pretty loose – I sometimes read, get up, have coffee or a soda, watch TV news, look through the paper, or take down some notes. I also grab a shower, and occasionally breakfast. Sometimes, usually Sundays, I’ll just take this time to sleep if I can.

A literature professor of mine used to praise post-sleep time as excellent for coming up with new ideas – and my imagination does seem quite a bit more fertile then. So it’s not at all odd for me to get 2-3 pages of notes/writing/dialogue scrawled out on yellow legal pad without ever having put pants on or getting out of bed. I won’t say my best stuff is done during this time, but my most out there stuff usually is. Plus, I’m a real sucker for my own dreams, and if there’s anything I can remember that strikes me as funny or cool, I like to jot it down just for my own sake [“That one’s going in my dream journal.”]

I find this is a good time too to deal with/make contact with people on “normal schedules” – any phone calls, any resumes that I’ve sent out, or jobs I’ve applied to, I like to give a check-in or follow-up call on, plus anything I have to do to manage my financial aid with VSAC or similar adult-type activities. Calling earlier like this tends to make people feel more comfortable, and assures them you haven’t been sleeping all morning [hah].

After all that, I get on the internet, usually to take a look at my e-mail, Facebook, read the blogs of friends of mine to see if Justin has posted anything on the new comic [Re: Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name], or if John has a new Bathroom monologue up. Then news sites and entertainment news sites – I use as my hub for the most part, unless I find something that I’d like to see from a Republican/conservative POV [useful AND infuriating], throw up anything I find interesting on Facebook [rare], and just generally dick around on Wikipedia and the like for ideas, things of interest, and useless trivia, until roughly around dinner time. I’ve also been playing video games around this time, and just generally spending the 2-7 hours doing things that I can easily get up from and leave for later, or not have to pick up later at all.

The reason for this is mainly because these are the hours when my grandmother is most active, and usually needs my help, so the majority of chores – taking care of the dog, cleaning up, getting the mail, doing dishes, taking out the trash, grocery shopping, drug store and convenience store runs, even some dinner-related activities take place in this span, and I just like to be available during this time. A lot of this stuff she can still do herself pretty easily, but its nice if I can manage to get out ahead of her and take care of some of the day’s little annoyances so she just doesn’t have to mess with them.

I also take about an hour of this time to go on a walk. I know I’m not really the type, but I’ve been thinking about my health a lot, and even though there’s no way in hell I’ll ever take up running, a nice long walk around the neighborhood makes me feel a lot more active, and gives me time to order my thoughts. I’m vaguely worried about getting hit by car one day while I’m out talking to myself like this, but hopefully the paramedics will marvel at my resolve and environmental consciousness. Because deep down, that’s all any hipster can hope for.

My nights and evenings are when I watch television the most… there are a few shows I follow, but rarely do I find something to fill the whole four hours. Of course, I’m not all that attached to any particular show – maybe House – and I tend to miss shows pretty regularly, but have always managed to catch up later. The benefit of having cable again.

I tend to get back on the internet near the end of this, talk to people on AIM as they’re headed to bed, just to say hi, see how everyone is doing, what’s up with their days and in their lives.

My grandma goes to bed around midnight, and I usually turn on South Park or Adult Swim, Viva La Bam, Law and Order, Scrubs, or sometimes a movie, and hop on the computer to get the brunt of my writing done for the day [night]. My goal is usually to get about 5 [rough] pages done on whatever I’m working on, or if I’m just doing notes, 10 pages.

Whether you could count these pages as actual accomplishments is probably up for debate. The biggest part of my writing tends to get deleted or tucked away as “useless,” only to be cannibalized later for other projects. Notes are the same way – I periodically have to go through my stack of legal pads to see what’s even relevant anymore. Still, another professor once told me doing 5-10 pages a week was exemplary, especially as far as scripting is concerned, and since the bulk of my work is either screenplays or comic scripts, I actually feel like I kind of surpass that these days.

There’s also editing – usually older, finished work. It’s rarer that I’ll take that on, since it’s especially rough going, but in some cases [with a little help], I’ve managed to use this time to completely finish something like my screenplay “Unfilmable,” which had been begging to be polished off since the first time I “finished” it in college.

So that is typically my night, with some research and mild distractions – nothing that gets too much in way. Since I don’t sleep, writing during this time is really the best decision I could make, as it gives me the privacy I need to talk lines out loud. The solitude is a little hard to manage, and yet with the television or a little music I never have to sit and work in complete silence, something that I never particularly cared for.

I do get occasionally derailed, either by video games [I’ve been playing some old SNES games, not mention Fire Pro Wrestling on the PS2], or with the mandatory resume time I force on myself. Resumes and cover letters is real teeth grinding work [for so far zero pay-off], but I try to keep at it, and send out as many resumes I can. Lately I’ve only been getting out a few each week… five last week, for instance, but I also include in this sending out writing samples and looking for possible jobs online, which I don’t have to tell anyone in my situation can get involved and [sometimes] pretty depressing.

I try to make myself available on AIM to Justin on the nights he’s working on the comic, too. Which coupled with everything else takes me well into the morning hours until I have a cup of detox tea, write in my blog [which seems to save even the most unproductive day], and crash until I start over.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

And that, generally, is my day. It gets shaken up occasionally – I usually go out with friends once a week [do wish it was more], and usually no writing gets done then, and if my parents – not Dad, I see him pretty regularly without incident, but Doug and Mom – want to have dinner or something, that’ll usually be my whole day, since there’s never any telling just how its going to go. And even though I try to write every day, it seems actually finishing stuff comes in “sprints” – so sometimes I will spend all night and well into the following day putting an end on a project. I would imagine in rare cases, like when I wrote that vampire script, I would probably set this whole schedule aside and only work on the one thing – but this has yet to happen since starting this routine.

Having gone written all that out like this, I’m seeing some patterns, some I like, some I’m not wild about. On the one hand, it’s really cool being able to map my time out like this and see that I can and do give myself almost 6+ hours a day just to write. Remembering doing the 9-to-5 thing, I really appreciate how little you can actually get done when you have to clock in somewhere – this time last year, I had all these ideas, some of which I’m only getting to start on now, which really speaks to how much time and energy the crappy job took back then. A lot of it is about momentum, just having the time to really get going at whatever I’m working on, and not have to work on it in spurts – stop, start, stop, start. In some ways, it a privilege having this time.

On the other side, I have no money and no social life, something painfully apparent by just looking at this, and seeing how little people-to-people interaction I really have. It’s a trade off, one I can afford for the time being, but not for long, certainly. I don’t like being this lonely. And I think the same might be true for my sleeping habits, but that’s not a new problem, and it doesn’t feel unmanageable yet. Still, I am tired, even though friends of mine have assured me that doesn’t really mean anything.

As far as time wasting goes, I’m surprised my television/video game time is as little as it is – little over 4 hours of real television watching everyday [really expected that to be more], and unless I get on a tear, barely an hour on the emulator or the PlayStation. I guess the television number would be significantly inflated if you took into consideration that I usually have it on while I work – but TV has never been a distraction for me [I wrote my first comic script while watching “Casino”], and as long as I’m not editing, it helps to have some other stimulus going while I work.

The things that are impeding me – even though I have this time, not having my own computer, not having the laptop to work from, not being able to go into town for better internet – all this literally slows everything down, and I just no from prior experience that resumes and just my day-to-day web surfing [that bit I talked about after I get out of bed] takes a lot longer on dial-up, and I have to wonder if not needing a chunk of my evening for that – if the internet could go back to being a side-thing like in college, instead of a pointed operation every day, would be a helpful thing. Then again, since I do like to be available for Grandma, it may not be as much of a game changer as I think it might be. Still, I miss the laptop, and the convenience of my own computer.

And the other thing is, again, the social aspect, because it seems like I get a whole hell of a lot more done with things I’m working on when I have someone to bounce things off of, and talk me through them. Without that, its exceptionally easy to get off-track, follow stupid ideas and plans for too long, or stall out completely and have to wait for unprovoked inspiration to kick in. Never underestimate having someone to talk to.

I think it’s good to take stock of yourself sometimes. I feel much calmer than I did when I started this.

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