Discomfited / Unstoppable

11 Nov

Weird couple of weeks here, all over the place.

Lots of strangeness and change and tension in some areas and then all of a sudden these amazing moments of grace and clarity and reenergizing.

I don’t know what to make of it all, so I won’t even try, but for a lot of this year I’ve felt like things have just been in this weird, boring, waiting lull, me waiting for things to happen or for things to present themselves instead of chasing or working toward them. These last few weeks have been the opposite of that with permanent change going on all around and me asking myself, “Well, are you going to do something or just watch?”

Mostly, I just watch.

But I also did a lot recently, a lot more than usual. I reached out to a few people I haven’t talked to in a while. I finished an archive/migration project for a new website that took me so much longer than I was expecting, but damned if it isn’t done now. I spoke to a group of mom bloggers and was able to Skype in my writing partner for a session that was supposed to only be about 20 minutes, but lasted much longer and really inspired and reinvigorated my energy levels for something that has been a long-term struggle.

(Here’s a photo of that a blog post about the event. The photo is from Nicole at Livemom.com, I believe)

And, weirdly, I volunteered myself to go to a (totally hypothetical) plastic surgery consultation, which I think honestly may be the bravest thing I’ve done in a while (more on that in a minute).

My daughters, who in recent weeks have been behaving like little, possessed zoo animals have turned a corner and are starting to behave like the sweet girls that I remember from before the new school year hours made them into cranky kids.

So, strange times lately, but I’m actually kind of excited about the rest of the year and hoping to take a few more risks after what’s felt like almost a full year of stasis with only the occasional curveball (like going to New York City or restarting an old project I hope to help debut before 2013).

A few days later… I wrote the above almost a week ago and since then, the 2012 presidential election happened, I went to Wurstfest and had another week just like what I describe above.

The holidays are on us like a loose freight train and, weirdly, I’m not stressed about it in the “gotta get stuff done” sense, but more in the looking back and wondering how so much time passed so quickly from summer till now. Outside of work, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much done at all even though I feel busy all the time.

We’ve been having a hard time with a few things like figuring out how to deal with two kids 5 and under who are angels half the time and tantrum machines at other times.

Work is still in major transition with a lot of things up in the air right now.

And due mostly to lack of sleep (caused by the above-mentioned girls who have also added waking up at 5 a.m. for no reason to the mix), I’ve had a really hard time staying up late enough to write anything, or being clear-headed enough to even have the energy to get myself to the keyboard. And of course, that leads to a self-loathing cycle of feeling like I should be doing more even though I know I don’t have the energy or the right mindset.

Really frustrating.

So instead of more whining, I’ll try to focus on some positives.

I’m working with my brother on something I’m excited about. I’m working with some old friends I used to work with in the Latino Comedy Project on a comedy thing for next year that we’re very excited about. And I’m working with a writing partner on the ongoing thing, which is still slow in progressing, but is still happening.

I don’t trust myself to work on stuff along right now outside of the usual freelance stuff because mentally I’m just not motivated right now. If something isn’t assigned to me or given a deadline or pushed along in some small way by someone I’m working with, I probably won’t do it And that’s frustrating too. Wait, positive! This was supposed to be the bright side.

OK, here’s this. I feel like the only place I’ve been really productive the last few weeks is at work (SEE ALSO: deadlines, teamwork, stuff assigned to me). I’ve written a lot of stuff, it feels like, but only there.

There was a Digital Savant column I was pretty happy with about how to spot online fakers and scammers, which I hope came in handy as the election craziness was ramping up (and which is an issue now that holiday shopping is in season).

Speaking of that, I did a column that runs in Monday’s paper about what’s new this year in online shopping. I tried to do a story like that a year or two ago and it didn’t seem like a lot had changed, at least not enough to warrant a big article. This year, I do feel like there are some new trends that are just starting to take off, so the piece is a roundup of those new shifts.

I had some hands-on time with Windows 8 and the Surface tablet (neither of which Microsoft was able to provide review units for, not that I’m bitter). I don’t think I held anything back in that write-up, but I’ll that for myself, I don’t really like using Windows 8 on a computer with a keyboard and mouse. It doesn’t seem built for that, and I don’t plan to go through the trouble to upgrade my PC (or my Boot Camp on Mac) to Windows 8 anytime soon.

I wrote about an Austin restaurant called Lucky Robot (where Zen on S. Congress used to be) that uses iPads for its menus and ordering. It was a mixed-bag experience.

For the Micro feature, I defined 4K TV (or Ultra HD), and what the deal is with Windows RT (the OS running on the Surface tablet).

And then there was the nose job story. We got pitched an item about this 3D plastic surgery image and both my (former) editor and I thought it would be fun, interesting story. Then, at one point, as we were trying to figure out if the story could lead the section and if we would have enough artwork to go with it, I suggested, “Maybe I should do the imagine and we could use those photos.”

That was when the story went from a pretty standard thing to me standing in an office with my face being swabbed and put in front of a machine to have my nose critiqued.

Dr. Jennifer Walden, a plastic surgeon, checks out the old Gallaga beak. Photo by Deborah Cannon / Austin American-Statesman

The trick to doing a story like that if you have even an ounce of shame and vanity is to have a deadline the same day as the office visit. When I got there, our photographer said she didn’t think she could do that and I told her that at that point, I had no choice; there was no way to back out with my deadline looming.

And that’s how I’m able to trick myself into doing things I would never, ever want to do otherwise — having my nose the focus of the front of the Life & Arts section on a Monday. I’m too numb about it to even be horrified at this point.

I’m sure there’s lot more I’m not thinking of at the moment, but those are the high/low lights. I’m really trying to get my energy back up and not end the year in the doldrums. I’m going to try to get to bed earlier and to stop stressing about the writing so much. It’ll happen when it needs to happen, I really hope.

I have some photos I want to post, but I’ll save those for a separate blog entry. If you can’t wait, you can probably see most of them over here on the Flickr or on my new Instagram profile page. For now, here’s one I really like that I took last week at Wurstfest:

One Response to “Discomfited / Unstoppable”

  1. Tracy O'Connor November 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    I feel incredibly energized for our project, too! I am also worried about taking my boy to a combo pediatric ophthalmologist/plastic surgery around the face doctor’s office. “Hey lady! While we realign your kid’s eyes, why not pass the time by seeing what you’d look like without the burden of triple chins! It will be FUN!”

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