Starting the Mental Countdown

Kevin asked me how I was doing last night, and I said okay, but that I’ve started the mental countdown. Three weeks left until fall semester starts for us. Trying to enjoy and relax summer as much as I can, while of course, we haven’t actually stopped working during the summer — I’m just doing 8 hour days instead of 10-12 hour days.

Trying to garden every day (gardening is meditation, exercise, nurturing, all at once), swim every day (swimming is particularly good for ADHD regulation), get myself into better habits that will keep me more mentally stable when the semester starts up again.

I can get into a bad place where I’m just in constant work-mode, go-mode; I think it’s common for people with ADHD, because we get that dopamine hit from finishing things, and it feels so good, and when we don’t get it, we get cranky and stressed — or at least I do.

But you can’t just produce produce produce all the time. That leads to falling down, going boom.

Having a schedule helps — this summer, I’m trying to work from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Mon-Fri; I’m theoretically ‘off’ after that, and usually do take a few hours to just relax, have mid-afternoon tea, watch TV, check in with the kids, make dinner and eat it. Often there’s a few more hours of work after that, though. And I work a fair bit on the weekends, even though I’m not supposed to. It’s hard to stop.

Some of this, I think, is still pandemic-related. I was really pretty depressed the first year of the pandemic; I didn’t realize it until summer 2021, when I emerged from the cave I’d made for myself in the basement, and started seeing people outside again, and saw what a pit my house had become when the cleaners didn’t come and we stopped doing more than the very minimum of cleaning. Is it too disgusting to admit no one here cleaned our floors or bathrooms for a year? Sorry to squick you. It grossed me out too, and made me miserable, but that year, I just didn’t care enough to actually do anything about it.

So coming out of that has been a long, slow process of cheering myself with completing little bits of work. And it wasn’t like the day job was helping, because going to online teaching for a year was its own kind of nightmare; even when we came back in person, I still had students Zooming in, and it was all much more challenging and much less rewarding than teaching normally is.

Honestly, the thought of having to start teaching again kind of makes me want to cry. It’s only knowing the students will make me happy (I do love seeing them improve, and just getting to know them generally) that keeps me from actually wanting to quit. I’m in dire need of a sabbatical, but my position doesn’t come with them. Alas. Teacher burnout is very real right now.

I’m also just lonely. The night before my birthday, I got pretty upset about it for a few hours, which I guess is why Kevin is doing a lot of checking in with me now. There was much crying, which is sort of ridiculous, because I am very lucky, I do have good friends, plenty of them. But.

Pre-pandemic, I was realizing that I was seriously missing time with good friends; most of them are in other states or other countries. We have great phone calls, but it’s just not the same. I started making an effort to spend more in-person time with them, and with my sisters, and with some local friends I wanted to get to know better, and then, y’know, pandemic. So all that shut down. And one of my local friends moved out to her family’s farm for the first year, and another one’s cancer recurred and she died, and it was just…awful.

I love Kevin and the kids, but I have been desperately missing fun. I used to get a lot of my dose of fun from board game potlucks every other week or so (which shut down for a few years) and from going to conventions every month. The SF/F con writers (and editors and agents) are my other main group of friends, and I miss them. I miss them a lot. They speak my language.

That’s all starting up again, which is good, but I think I spend so much time thinking and working pretty intensively, I do better when I have some actual fun — the kind of thing that leads to laughter. Kev and I spend a lot of time just snuggling and watching TV, which is perfectly nice, but it’s not the same.

I have some ideas for things that could help fix this, but the danger is that I don’t want to just throw everything at the wall right away, because then I’ll just exhaust myself with scheduling and nothing will be sustainable.

Kev and I are trying to think of things that would be fun to do together. Maybe some two-person board games. I signed us up for a private swordfighting lesson for two for my birthday, which might be good. We’re thinking of trying martial arts together as a family.

And as we go into the fall, I’m hoping to set up some regular board gaming and/or dinners and/or co-writing and/or knitting circles with some local friends. I just need the socializiation — working alone all the time gives me the dopamine hit, but that’s short-lived, and it doesn’t actually raise my spirits.

Working on it. This is 51. I hope it looks better than 48, 49, 50 — those were all pretty rough years. Stupid pandemic.

I did finish Vegan Serendib and we’re getting ready to actually start shipping it out, and I did finish writing the cancer memoir and turned it into the small press publisher.

I’m planning to go back to working on SF next week, hopefully finish book revisions and start a new agent hunt (mine is close to retiring, and I think he and I both agree that I probably would be better served with someone else, and ideally someone who can represent all the different things I write — we haven’t officially parted ways yet, but it’s looming).

So there’s a few summer things accomplished, or about to be.

Onwards. Here’s a little taste of summer at Serendib House.

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