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NYC, What Is It about You?

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May. 4th, 2010 | 07:07 pm
location: A Vision Lab in Berkeley, on a Sunny Tuesday Evening in May.
mood: chipperchipper

etler and I went to New York for a few days to celebrate Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music being married for six months. Which, for the record, went by really really fast.

It was a very busy, very delightful weekend -- we saw three shows (two on Saturday and one on Sunday), went to a party of a bunch of my college friends, ate tasty nibbles and drank delicious cocktails at a number of excellent establishments and even managed a bit of shopping (we went to the Prada store in SoHo, which was a totally surreal experience... worth visiting even though we had no intention of actually buying anything). Oh and we serendipitously met up with ternarybits and guardmisfit at Serendipity for coffee in the middle of the night and had lunch the next day with eisenbud at a tasty place in KoreaTown in between acquiring tickets to West Side Story and actually *seeing* West Side Story.

It was an awesome, awesome trip... and it got me to thinking about efficiency. NYC runs nonstop and it does it well (provided subterranean transit is your thing. But even if it's not, there's always walking, and the city is very flat and very compact). I was less tired on fewer hours of sleep than I generally am here in CA, and some of that, I think, is because of the palpable energy, the hum of 8 million very busy people all going about their lives... but also because I don't waste energy fighting against a feeling that I'm supposed to be asleep at a certain time and awake at a certain time and focused at certain times and unfocused ... I can follow the schedule of my body's clock with few if any repercussions. It's very relaxing.

As I sat down to write about it, though, it began to dawn on me that I am often guilty of calculating time in terms of the time it takes to commute. Since my daily commute is 45 minutes if I drive and don't run into traffic or 75 minutes on public transit in each direction, I tend to assume that if I don't have a full, unscheduled hour in which to work at something, it's simply not worth doing or must be done later. It also leaves me totally exhausted, because, aside from periods of hyper focus, my attention span, like that of any adult, really only lasts for about 45 minutes at a stretch.

So I feel guilty of unproductivity and guilty of poor time management and, guys, all that guilt is exhausting.

I made a decision, somewhere along the flight home or a couple days after, to simplify and organize my life. To acknowledge that commuting exhausts me and, therefore, to set limits for myself. I am allowed to be too tired to go to the South Bay on days when I've also had to be in Berkeley. I am allowed to acknowledge that commuting takes a lot of time and energy and therefore I will only cross the bay four days a week. I am allowed to leave for work at 10:30 or 11 am if I know I will have to stay late to collect data. Boundaries are good.

I am adding shelves and drawers and cabinets to my life because, while clutter doesn't bother me per se, it can intimidate me and definitely distracts me. (It doesn't distract me in an "I need to clean this" way... more a "OOH! PROJECT!" way)... And it seems to accumulate more when there are large, flat surfaces nearby because I tend to use those surfaces as shelves. Which results in a visually disorganized environment. And I don't actually have time for disorganization right now. I'm honing in on writing a dissertation, and even if none of these resolutions last, I need an environment that allows me to feel rested and focused.

I also may have decided that when I graduate, I'm going to the Ecuador and the Galapagos and Machu Picchu... because the world is always getting smaller. And I want to see them while I am young and fit enough to enjoy them and before they get so overrun with tourists that they stop being what they've been for so many centuries.

When I graduate... it's scary to think of how much work there is between here and there, but it's also kind of delightful to realize that finally, graduation feels real, tangible... like I can imagine the workload and map out a road for myself and do some real work toward getting there.

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from: catachthonian
date: May. 5th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)

Hey...I was in NYC this past weekend too! Sorry we missed you.

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from: stellae
date: May. 5th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)

Oh! No worries... I was actually there like 3 weeks ago... just haven't gotten around to update LJ till now. ;-) Still, if I end up in Maryland anytime in the not-distant future, it would be lovely to see you. :-)

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