Weekly Wanderings: Not a Kid Anymore Edition

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▪ I turned 34 in the middle of October, meaning that I’m now in the last year of ever qualifying for any “____ under 35” lists. Getting older doesn’t, in and of itself, bother me, although I have been having a few more “Whoa, [incredibly successful person] is only X years old, what have I been doing with my life????” moments lately. (For example: say what you will about Ivanka Trump, but she’s also 34; Lin-Manuel Miranda is 36.) But although I’m rather surprised to discover my new affinity for Better Homes & Gardens, I’m not combing through my hair searching for gray strands or signing up for Botox. (Yet.)

I am definitely, however, realizing that I can’t push myself in some of the ways that I used to and not pay for it later. This is most apparent in my long-standing tendency to let things pile up and then work extra-hard to complete them at the last minute. On Sunday, I pulled a near-all-nighter to finish an article I’d been working on, getting maybe three hours of sleep. On Tuesday night I was up past midnight completing a copy-editing job I’d agreed to take on. Working into the wee hours is something I used to do frequently in grad school, and while maybe I wouldn’t be at top form the next day, I could more or less shake it off. Not the case anymore; instead, it yields Zombie Maura.

This realization has reinforced something I already knew but hadn’t really thought about from a health angle: the importance of routine and a manageable workload. If I had planned better and done a little bit of writing every day over the course of a week, I wouldn’t have had to work on that article all night when the deadline bore down on me. Same for the copy-editing, which I had started a few days earlier with the intention of completing it in pieces, but subsequently put aside to finish the article and then catch up on sleep, necessitating a marathon work session at the end. And if I had taken on a reasonable amount of work rather than too many things, none of this would have been a problem at all.

A lot of writers talk about the importance of routine, of writing every day, of the effectiveness of steady progress over “binge” writing. All of that is definitely true from a workload and work quality standpoint. What this past week has taught me is that it’s also true in terms of physical well-being: binge-writing or binge-working in the face of a looming deadline is bad for me because it means I feel more stress, don’t get enough sleep, consume too much caffeine, and feel like I don’t have time in my life for things like relaxation or exercise. I can’t promise that I’m going to change long-standing bad habits overnight, but I can say with certainty that I would be very happy if I could go the rest of my life without attempting another all-nighter, and I have finally (it only took 34 years) realized that if I adopt good consistent work habits, I can avoid them.

▪ Since its release on Tuesday, I’ve watched the trailer for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life … ohhh, a couple of dozen times. I’m not 100% in love with everything about it—the jokes before the “Experience a year in the life” title card are too long and drawn-out—but things get better, and by the time Carole King kicks in I’m fully on board. Plus, Emily Gilmore trading in her Chanel suits and pearls for jeans and a t-shirt? I’m there.

▪ Over at Goodreads, I posted a short review of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis*. For an interesting look at the book in a broader context, check out Jeremiah Jenne’s essay, “Reading Hillbilly Elegy in Beijing,” at the LA Review of Books China Blog.

▪ HOW can it be the end of October already?!?!? Winter is definitely approaching here, although the weather is see-sawing a bit at the moment; the last two days were rainy and so cold that I had to pull my winter coat out of the closet, but today is sunny and will reach the high 50s, if weather.com is to be believed. I’m slowly accumulating the necessities for my first Michigan winter: my parents bought me snow tires as an early Christmas gift, my brother sent an ice scraper/brush and small shovel for the car, and my grandmother got me heavy-duty flannel sheets. I’ve managed to avoid turning the heat on so far (#Heatwatch2016), but I’ve been wearing my Wicked Good Moccasins from L.L. Bean full-time at home. I still can’t believe I spent $69 on slippers, but they are, indeed, wicked good. As soon as I find my favorite fingerless mitts (or, failing that, knit a new pair), I’ll be in business.

▪ I’m also bookmarking every hibernation-appropriate recipe I see. Smitten Kitchen’s chicken chili will be in my slow cooker this weekend, with cornbread in the over to accompany it.

* Amazon Associates link. If you make a purchase via this link, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. Thanks for your support! ~Maura

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