Tag: Routines

My sleep schedule is breaking down again

(still keeping to the writing schedule though)

Last year, my sleep schedule was infamously shite, combining 36-hour periods of squinty-eyed waking with five-hour naps at like three in the afternoon because there are no easy life choices. This year I’ve been mostly exhausted, but until today I’ve at least been diurnal; now, however, it’s five in the evening and I’m going to bed for eight hours, so I can wake up for a seminar at ten tomorrow morning.


As ever, my busy schedule is an important factor, but not the critical one; I’m doing things, sure, but people have overburdened themselves with projects for as long as others have kept their schedules blank, so I’m hardly a trendsetter in having little down time. My problem is my inability to do anything in small quantities, or at half measures. I was burned out yesterday, so instead of having an afternoon off and doing some light work in the morning, I stayed up until three off the back of a 14-hour gaming marathon; similarly, right now, I’m hitting the hay so I can wake up early to publish an interview, translate some Old Icelandic, learn two verb tables and work on Game Shelf articles, all before breakfast. Whether it’s work or rest, I do things in big chunks, and with maximum effort.

Often, this is a good thing, as I work much faster and more efficiently than I used to, and when I relax I’m able to properly enjoy myself, instead of existing in that half-working, half-chilling, all-guilty combination of watching Persona 4 let’s plays on YouTube while making notes for a Middle English seminar. But these large, aggressive blocks of time do make scheduling my days difficult, as I’m moving a few huge jigsaw pieces around, instead of lots of little ones that can be manipulated and rearranged in a variety of patterns. My rigid scheduling of my life has only really broken down twice: my first term of university this time last year, and this last fortnight or so, both of which are one-offs: last year I was still getting used to the whole ‘living alone’ thing, and this year a series of unrelated but unfortunately timed poor decisions and deadlines have rather frakked with my head.

Whenever I run into this problem, or even think about it when I’m not trading logistical water, I wonder if the problem is that rigid approach to my time, rather than being a series of one-offs; and every time, I decide it’s the latter. I don’t stick to this way of applying myself to work because it’s easy, or because it’s what I’ve always done, but because I feel comfortable when I’m actually working the majority of the time. Looking at my timetable from a distance – on a Sunday afternoon as I assess the success of last week’s planning – it’s easy to spot these holes, and point out these flaws; but when I’m on Wednesday powering through some translation, two magazine articles and dodgeball training, I feel productive, satisfied, and that the resource that is my brain is being effectively deployed.

I might be wrong, but I think I’m doing fine, I just need to crash every few months or so; sadly, this crash takes place two seminars before reading week. So close.

Challenge Accepted!

(I don’t always accept challenges … who am I kidding, I take them on all the bloody time)

I met my tutor for the upcoming year today, and was set an essay on a text I’ve not read, in a historical period I know nothing about. It’s due in eleven days.

The faults here – if we can call them faults – are entirely mine; I’ve neglected large parts of my reading lists in favour of blogging and social media projects that I won’t link to now because I want to prove to myself that I can mention my hobbies without ramming them down the throats of the innocent, and am now living with those consequences. I need to learn about a thing I should have learned about, in a much shorter period of time than I would ideally have to learn about it.

But I don’t think this is a bad thing. Deadlines are great motivators, and now I’ll have to be enthused about the subject matter because my studying of it will be squashed into the sort of time frame that will require round-the-clock devotion to metaphors. It’s also good, for me anyway, to have deadlines imposed from others, as I value those to a far greater extent than ones I set for myself: if I fail to hit a reading deadline, it’s my knowledge that suffers, and I don’t really matter so it’s fine; but if I miss an essay deadline, my tutor’s life and (presumably) tight schedule of receiving and reviewing pieces becomes skewed. As a keeper of many colour-coded planning grids, this is an awful fate.

It’s also been good to engage with my degree; Facebook page renamings and sporadic mechanical emails, mass-sent to the unwashed masses that constitute the UCL English Department student body, because we’re interchangeable parts, are nice but face-to-face communication is a much better thing. In the heady mixture of article-editing, child-tutoring and breadline-living that is the vast majority of my life, it’s easy to forget that I’m actually studying medieval literature, a thing that I rather enjoy.

So bring it on, essays. I’m ready. Mentally, if not logistically.

Only Ninety-Four Days

(I’m a complete and utter failure)

So WordPress, after being slagged off in yesterday’s post by the epitome of wrath that is me writing at one in the morning, have now come back and made a nice little scrolly slideshow about all the things I’ve done on this site this year, complete with upload-based fireworks, sexy maps, and the mind-blowing titbit that I’ve had enough viewers on this blog this last year to fill up the Sydney Opera House. Three times. I’m sorry, what?

And all this makes me feel bad for having a go at WordPress like I did yesterday, a bit like having a one-sided fight with a long-term partner, only to realise a few days later that they had actually baked you a cake that day, which was why they weren’t answering your calls because they were at home and didn’t want to get flour and icing sugar on the landline you both use, and why they barred you from entering the kitchen for a whole day, so you had to get a KFC for tea and eat it by yourself on your bed and feel depressed and isolated, but really they did care all along and were just building up to a greater act of caring-ness, that you presumptuously assumed was a total absence of affection, making you a bit of a bastard really.

Or is that just me?

Either way, there was one stat that stuck out at me as being particularly discouraging, that my longest streak was a mere 94 days of posts, from January 1st to April 3rd; excuse me, but out of the 365 days in this year, I’ve been able two write continuously for less than a third of that? What kind of pussy-ass water jutsu blog am I operating here? I’m fully aware of my limitations as a writer – I can’t write dialogue for shit, I struggle to detail scenes that I myself find disturbing so often skip over the events with the most heartstring-yanking potential in my stories, I’m not very good at alternating between the two levels of narration I like to use, a close-up, play-by-play style focusing on individual characters versus a broader, more society-defining omniscient viewpoint, and I really have difficulty creating characters who aren’t basically gay, female, or black versions of me, tracksuit trousers and all – but I like to think that if I can do one thing rather well it’s write regularly. But the numbers don’t lie, and I would appear to suck at the one thing this blog explicitly sets out to do – be updated daily – and the one aspect of my writing I feel confident in saying ‘I’m okay at that.’

Returning to the cake analogy from earlier, this is like a second twist in which the cake turns out to be a combination of mud, greek yoghurt and the decomposing remains of Jimmy Saville’s twisted, grinning face, so you go back to hating your partner (and perhaps fearing for their sanity somewhat). But I can’t do the same thing; I can’t sit here and blame WordPress for simply presenting me with this information, the fault lies with me for not making good on my intention to write more often. I’ve often said on this blog, and it might even be on the About Me page to this day, that I’ll write this blog on a daily basis, real-life allowing, but I’m realising that that qualifier might be the origin of this year’s pussy-assed-ness; over the last five days, I’ve written a short story, and a blog post, while balancing making a run to the AFC Championship game on Madden, and ploughing 36 hours into Civilisation V, and spending an afternoon with family, going on walks, getting a haircut, and celebrating Christmas frakking Day in the process! I know that when I get back to uni, I’ll have more things to do, and more engaging, exhausting things because they’ll probably involve more people and general assemblies and seminars and God knows what else, but if I can manage these few days, I don’t see why I can’t manage daily blogging for much longer than 94 days.

I think I’ll use the rest of my Twelve Stories Of Christmas plan to test this theory; in my mind, for the convenient purposes of this system, a day spent writing 5,000 words, going for a walk, reading Empire State and playing Civilisation should be about equivalent in time spent to a day at uni, involving three hours of lectures, reading some Wordsworth, going to handball training (or whatever;s on that night) and a few hours of unspecified youthful hanging-outery. So if I can finish these next seven stories, I should be able to continue plugging up your Facebook feed with my bullshit until approximately the end of time.

Isn’t that wonderful for all parties involved?

I Keep Putting Stuff Off

(and it’s pissing me off)

I’ve not ordered my Christmas presents yet (yes ‘mine’ – I’ve got all the things I plan to give to other people because I care more about them than I do myself), and it’s literally six hours until the day itself; I’ve also not got any repeat prescriptions from my new GP, despite moving out four months ago, so I’m rapidly burning through the reserves I have left at home; and actually reading The Prelude for my course has been at the top of my ‘to do’ list for the last seven thousand consecutive days.

And I’m worried this is a result of the new, make-shit-up-as-I-go routine I’m sticking to now that I’m at uni and everything; I used to stay on top of obligations, mostly work but a crap-ton of extra-curricular shenanigans too, and take pleasure in getting them done quickly, so I could move on with my important life of playing Madden and marathoning season four of Game of Thrones. But now I just skip to those fun bits and ignore the, usually medical, things I need to do.

Amusingly, I end up getting all of these things done at one point or another, normally like five months after I first decide to do them, so there was no point in worrying about doing them early in the first place. Of course, this doesn’t stop me worrying about them, or writing a blog post about worrying about them, or even worrying about writing a blog post about writing about worrying about them, which is exactly what I’ve been doing for the last hour while listening to The Misfits.

But whatever, it’s Boxing Day Eve Eve; I’m gonna procrastinate a bit longer and go get a McDonald’s.

Frak You, Kronos!

(now that I have a friend doing a degree in Classics, I’m suddenly much less confident making casual references to Greek mythology, considering my knowledge of which stems exclusively from old Percy Jackson books)

Sorry if I’ve disappointed you by not talking about the new Hunger Games film as I hinted at yesterday, but I’ve ended up disappointing myself instead, and anger and self-blame are much more interesting topics for a blog post in my opinion. Essentially, after staying up for more than 30 hours yesterday to rest my sleep schedule, I went to bed at ten in the evening, anticipating a kip of, at most, twelve hours, so I could wake up today in the morning, and with an evening of decent sleep behind me.

Yeah, today I woke up at six in the evening, putting me exactly in the same position I was before I started trying to stay up all night. My whole sleep-deprived day, in which I did activities designed to keep me from falling asleep too early – walking four hours to get to and home from a four-hour football session when I could have taken the tube, an impromptu trip to the cinema that kept me up for another two hours instead of going to bed – has been wasted, and I’ll either have to try to go to sleep like now (ha.) or I’ll have to pull another all-dayer (like an all-nighter but worse) so when I go home for the first time in two months tomorrow I’ll feel like a zombie.

The alternative – going to bed earlier, instead of staying up for longer – is also out of the question, because I need to wrap presents and clean my room (i.e chuck my various piles of dirty clothes into one, less depressing, bin bag of clothes) in preparation for the aforementioned going home for Christmas. My best solution now is to stay up all night (again) and demand that my family wake me up tomorrow morning at a reasonable time, so I can get on with my life; like, I have post-it notes of things to do this Winter, things arranged by activity, and time required to do them! I can’t just ignore those for a few more hours in bed. But having a bed on the ground, instead of on stilts, and a school timetable consisting of ‘get in basically whenever the Hell you feel like it, your attendance isn’t even monitored five days a week), means improv naps are very much a thing, which actually kinda fits my impending lifestyle as a writer who sleeps ten hours a day, moans about not having a proper job thirteen hours a day, then spends one hour being unusually productive in a notebook. But I want to be more structured, and read things per month, and do pushups in z days, which is really hard when your days can last anywhere between eight and 32 hours.

And now I’m going home, adding probably rigidity to my schedule, but only for a few weeks at a time. I can deal with the cooking and cleaning of living alone, but the time management is still a bitch.

Join ALL The Societies!

(even that one)

Here at university, the archaic and infantile system of ‘after-school clubs’ has been replaced by a much more civilised and mature ‘society’ model, with the main difference being that now you have to pay fifty quid a year for the privilege of playing football on a muddy field with other unhealthy people, and now you have a Union to laugh off your trivial complaints about the inner-workings of this system, rather than the old deaf ears of teachers. Truly the ‘university experience’ is worth that nine grand a year.

For the record, the societies I would like to join are: Writers’, English, Cheese Grater (a magazine), Savage (another magazine), Pi Media (a necessary evil of a magazine that I need to rely on to write women’s match reports), Gender and Feminism (the source of those match reports), Hiking and Walking, Dodgeball, Handball, Karate, Parkour, Football (although I think I failed the trials), Book Club, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, YouTube, Watching Paint Dry, Stamp Collecting, The Theology Of The Twelve Human Gods In Battlestar Galactica, Needlework, Noodlework, Poodlework, Frugal-work, Dog-Walking, Being Walked By Dogs, Pipe Cleaner Model-Making, and Learning Ambidexterity To Benefit One’s Masturbatory Technique.

And only half of those were made-up.

There are obvious advantages to this system of sign-up sheet abusing – you make friends, find new interests, have something to do with your time that you don’t have to try to awkwardly arrange through Facebook messages and texts that leaves you with an incomplete group of friends going to a shitty bar no-one likes and feeling like a miserable bastard for making said unlucky friends choose this over going to a club where they’re giving out free drinks or something – and the standard disadvantages aren’t really an issue; sure, I’ve had to sacrifice Sci-Fi for Feminism, but these are mostly things I’m interested in anyway, and will be able to engage with without paying the four quid membership fee – I won’t start hating Battlestar because I don’t have Tuesday nights free to play board games about it.

The main disadvantage I’ve noticed is a physical one, rather than a logistical one, namely that after doing at least one vent a night, every night, for a week, my body is basically on strike; yesterday I felt so stiff I could barely move, and I gave up and came home last night when I couldn’t immediately find my friend at a show, whereas I would usually move Heaven and Earth to keep to a meeting I’d made a note of on my phone. And I had played football and dodgeball in the last two days, and am incredibly unhealthy for a slender eighteen-year-old who doesn’t smoke, drink, or take drugs, so my results are a bit biased, but it’s unlikely that I was reduced to a crippled wreck over two days. I’d probably gotten increasingly tired over that week of doing things.

If anything, this problem will get worse, as the stabilisers will come off these events as become full-on sessions, rather than taster ones; tonight’s Karate Club will be led by a member of the Irish national team who is, let’s be honest, probably better at Karate than the President of the society, a 21-year-old philosophy student (sorry man). There’ll also be a monetary aspect to this; even without the pocket-ravaging hundred quid needed to buy a year’s membership to both football and rugby, joining lots of societies does take money that would otherwise have been spent on food and other frivolities.

I suppose the system is self-regulating, that there literally aren’t enough hours in a week to do enough things to drive you insane or poor, so I probably won’t end up going insane or poor as a result of trying to do more varied things that write essays. But if I do end up homeless and nuts, I’ll blog about it; although it probably still won’t get as many views as the frakking Geography Pickup Lines post.

I Ate Some Food Today

(if I’d posted that title on Instagram I’d be a twat, but here I’m just being dull! Yay, WordPress!

When I was a young warthog, I’d eat all the time. Then I got diabetes, and had to eat all the time, with injections thrown in for the Hell of it, but it wasn’t a big difference; I’ve basically had three full meals a day, every day, for the last eighteen years, because my parents are the nicest people in the world.

However, I am now at university, where I have to cook for myself and, while I can, food has suddenly become less attractive when I have to prepare it and do the washing up myself, every time I want some fried rice (and takeaways and ready meals are astronomically expensive, so don’t even start on that). And so, I have bravely embarked upon a potentially-fatal, time- and money-saving initiative I call ‘eat one meal a day’.

*takes off sunglasses*

I tried a two meals a day system over summer, the results of which can be found here, and can be summarised as such: ‘it was frakking difficult, but I thought I’d manage’. But now that I’m actually an underfed student, it’s not so bad; yesterday I had breakfast at eight, went to uni until two, napped until five, then went out until eleven and came home to watch Bake-Off (and promptly drooled over everything I saw), and felt peckish, but not hungry enough to make something or spend money at Subway.

Perhaps I’m just too distracted on uni life – the work, the friends, the social stuff and the societies – that I’m less aware of the relatively minor changes in my own body that I’d be more aware of when I’m siting at home for seventeen consecutive hours trying to pretend to myself that occasionally clicking the ‘next episode’ button on Anime Palm.com counts as a form of exercise.

I know that this kind of diet isn’t very healthy – especially considering I plan to join not one, but five sports clubs here at UCL – and I’ll probably have to choose between eating more or not dying in the near future (my friends, flatmates, and probably family have all berated me in a concerned manner for not eating anything), but for now, one meal a day is working; I went 28 hours on a bowl of cereal and half a packet of crisps, and I can’t even see my ribs yet.

At the very least I can piss off the other people in the library with my growling stomach, which I can accurately claim to have little control over. Result!