Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Now that I've been working this job for over a year, I've gotten pretty good at my routines. I work about 12 hours a day, Monday to Friday, not including commute (30 minutes in the morning, 15 at night). I try to spend one weeknight a week socializing, two weeknights a week at the gym and Monday nights I usually give myself the night off (I'm usually a little jetlagged from the weekend hours).

This means one weekend day is (at least partly) taken up with chores: laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning up the kitchen, cleaning the house, because I don’t have time to do it during the week. I try to make myself a week’s worth of lunches for the week ahead too. This doesn’t always happen.

I have my behaviour pretty much set into a pattern that works really well. I’m missing writing time. So far, I still haven’t been able to figure out where to fit that in, apart from some 3 hour stints on the weekends. What’s hard is getting my head out of office mode and into writing mode. I’ve gotten really good at sensing what time it is, or how much time has passed. The other thing I’ve learned from work is a certain kind of split attention. I have real conversations at the same time that I’m listening to a phone conversation in my other ear at the same time I’m having an IM conversation. I monitor multiple email inboxes. I have a hard time reading a two page article all the way through without flipping through other windows, checking other information streams. It’s not a lack of concentration; it’s just broad concentration instead of deep concentration.

I’m looking forward to a future phase of my life in which I will be able to foster deep concentration once again.

Here are some famous people and their patterns. Often striking for their weirdness, which is great: to make great things, sometimes you have build your life around your own peculiarities, even if it’s not that healthy.

WH Auden:

He swallowed Benzedrine every morning for twenty years, from 1938 onward, balancing its effect with the barbiturate Seconal when he wanted to sleep. (He also kept a glass of vodka by the bed, to swig if he woke up during the night.) He took a pragmatic attitude toward amphetamines, regarding them as a "labor-saving device" in the "mental kitchen," with the important proviso that "these mechanisms are very crude, liable to injure the cook, and constantly breaking down."

Winston Churchill:

He awoke about 7:30 a.m. and remained in bed for a substantial breakfast and reading of mail and all the national newspapers. For the next couple of hours, still in bed, he worked, dictating to his secretaries. At 11:00 a.m., he arose, bathed, and perhaps took a walk around the garden, and took a weak whisky and soda to his study.

Mr. Rogers:

Mister Rogers weighed 143 pounds because he has weighed 143 pounds as long as he has been Mister Rogers, because once upon a time, around thirty-one years ago, Mister Rogers stepped on a scale, and the scale told him that Mister Rogers weighs 143 pounds. No, not that he weighed 143 pounds, but that he weighs 143 pounds.... And so, every day, Mister Rogers refuses to do anything that would make his weight change--he neither drinks, nor smokes, nor eats flesh of any kind, nor goes to bed late at night, nor sleeps late in the morning, nor even watches television--and every morning, when he swims, he steps on a scale in his bathing suit and his bathing cap and his goggles, and the scale tells him he weighs 143 pounds. This has happened so many times that Mister Rogers has come to see that number as a gift, as a destiny fulfilled, because, as he says, "the number 143 means `I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say `love' and three letters to say `you.' One hundred and forty-three. `I love you.' Isn't that wonderful?"

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