David Hyde Pierce
and Billy Magnussen
David Hyde Pierce
and Billy Magnussen
I wake up groggier than usual. Take a shit. Drink coffee at my computer. I pull myself away from hot guy GIFs on Tumblr to do something else – ANYTHING else. What follows is 30-minutes of work, sorting some photos on my hard drive, cleaning my stovetop, the tub train - anything to avoid the pain in my back. I haven’t exercised in weeks so it’s feeling really stiff.
My bike ride to work is uneventful. I try to remind myself to not be too aggressive for no reason. Sometimes the feeling of moving fast and cruising on rails comes at the expense of being respectful to others. Since getting into a minor accident with a car a month ago, I always wear my helmet when I’m on the road – but on the bike path on a sunny day… I give myself a pass.
Lately, my days feel crowded and inefficient, so I sit outside on the bench in front of the building and organize my task list. With each addition or edit, I feel like I’ve achieved something, but after about 20-minutes it becomes a diminishing returns thing. “I just need to do the first thing on the list.” I tell myself. “Fuck prioritization.” I go back inside, review the protocol for the receptionists, send an email about card key use, check on construction progress of our new nursing room, deal with an IT issue. In need of a tangible result – I go to the basement and organize the supply room. I do that until the diminishing returns starts to set in again. I leave a bit of a mess, but a little bit more organized as well.
Later that afternoon, I have an 1.5 hour coffee with HR. Conversations I don’t really want to have, but there’s a lot going on and we need to get on the same page.The moment works slows down I slip off to the gym and do the laziest set of toe touches and pull-ups. In between I stare at the bulging triceps of another gym guy, at the sides of a waspy guy in a slut cut shirt. I leave after almost 30-mins.
Around 7:30, I bike home, take a shower. Heat up leftover Chinese food, pour a vodka and work in Toon Boom. Trying to get a pendulum to swing back and forth with a blur in the middle. An hour and a half and two more vodkas later, I’ve made some progress but don't nail it. I put it away so I can try again later.
In bed by 10. I fall asleep watching Dynasty on Amazon Prime.
In my personal experience, what tends to follow a productive week, is an unproductive one. And not one of lackadaisical doodling and procrastinating by cleaning the bathtub - I'm talking pure unadulterated, guilt ridden laziness. Like, not picking up a pencil, not making my bed, taking three naps in a day laziness.
I didn't need my new productivity charts to show me how much of my time was slanted towards one project or another, because I did absolutely nothing. This is something I have found that some people find acceptable. "You deserve it", "You need to recharge". But I know deep in my soul, it's my biggest weakness. The hurdle that keeps me away from the much desired momentum that can carry my work to the finish line.
Was I too social this week? Did I let financial or nutritional woes drag my enthusiasm down? These are the questions I'm asking myself as I pull out the charts for the upcoming week. I did do two things this week, that could be thought of as positive, but really are not - proof reading a recent script before sending it off to a friend to read and pinning up a bunch of old storyboard doodles as a means to decide what to do with them.
The script proofreading was good because, well, I needed to proofread that script. But it became a daily cycle of proofing - printing - binding - repeat every day of the week. And just when I told myself I could put it down and take a break. I started working on it again. And the storyboards... I'm not sure what my intention was there? I suppose I was telling myself I would build upon them with some second and third passes, but... I have other storyboards to tackle that I have not even touched.
Once upon a time, several years ago, I sat in my Nutritional Therapist's office complaining about my general disappointment in my eating habits because they were never what I wanted them to be. She, having heard this from me many times, simply asked me : "What does your ideal day look like?"
The question, as simple as it is, left me flummoxed. I had never actually considered it, what my ideal day looks like. Since then, I've spend a great many moment trying to figure this out for myself, not because I believe that I can actually achieve my perfect day, but because it might help me feel a little less bad about my actions when things begin to fall apart - or even better, show me when my goals are unrealistic.
Fast forward to current day, where I, right now, in the middle of my current "I wanna be productive but not following through on my productivity" period, put together two charts for goal and productivity tracking. And upon reviewing the results in preparation for doing it again next week, I'm not too surprised by the results.
When it comes to writing and drawing, it was no trouble reaching my goals of hours per week, however, much of that time went towards drawing towards no result - which is fine. But the real goal is picking up enough momentum to move a project towards completion.
Something as simple as checking my bank balances everyday to paying closer attention to my money required very little motivation at all, while spending time familiarizing my self with new software or going to the gym on a regular basis fizzled out pretty quickly by mid-week.
So, having about 10hrs left in the week to get some more traction, I decide how that time should be spent and then ask myself the "whys" behind my choices in hopes to have a better result next week.
To be continued...
In a reaction to me holing myself up in my apartment for practically days at a time, I have been experimenting with trying to get more out of my conversations when I encounter actual human beings.
I Googled up some decent conversation rules to use in social situations, they are rooted in the idea that you should be attempting to learn something about the other person rather than just talk about yourself. This involves asking open ended questions, not getting bogged down with details, being succinct and above all, not just saying anything that flies into your head.
A few days later, over cheese and prosciutto at my friend Gauthier's Christmas party in Brooklyn, I met Sarah and Ted, two friends who bonded over their love of Sufjan Stevens, they were small talk-y in a way that made you feel like you were that third guest on the end of a talk show couch: an audience to someone else's conversation. If you asked a question, Sarah would answer by turning to Ted to remind him of an old experience the two them had shared and Ted would make very declarative statements that were on-topic but were only uttered for their entertainment value.
The next evening, I was returning from a showing of The Last Jedi and got home to find a flood in my apartment - a leak really, in four places, mostly streaming through the light fixture into my kitchen. I cleaned it up, spoke to the Super, and then went up to my neighbor to see if he was involved. My upstairs neighbor, who I've only spoken to a couple of times, has the energy of a nervous spy. Like, if I were to suddenly realize I was living in a simulated reality or a Truman Show-like reality show universe, my neighbor would be one of those people who's only there to monitor me. For some reason, he refuses to open his door during our chat - I imagine it's because I will see all the monitors and screens he has to use to watch me through the many hidden cameras in my apartment. He stammers, "Oh, I left the water running but I turned it off -- " but then quickly backtracks as if he's implicating himself, "There's a leak? W-where-where is the leak exactly?" He's apologetic but inquisitive, as if him 'leaving the water running' and my leak were two unrelated events. I try to be clear. Brief. Ask direct questions but, frazzled from mopping up water and talking through a door, I cannot pull it together.
The next day I'm at the Genius bar at the Apple store waiting for someone to tell me that my iMac is dead beyond repair. I am early, I sit and wait and notice that a half dozen of the guys working on the floor have good arms - as if they were doing dumbbells curls in the back room before their shift. "An Apple a day..." I think to myself. There's also a customer who looks just like Christopher Reeve - but with a better body. One of those older guys (late 40's-early 50's) who has managed to keep it pretty tight, full head of hair - like 6'3" or 4", I watch his tricep flex and retract as he leans over the table, shifting his weight.
My "Genius", a generic Apple Store employee with normal arms, asks me how I am doing. I throw out my usual response: "Fine, thank you" and then I sit in the awkward silence before returning the sentiment. "Amazing Day. All that and a bag of potato chips." He says enthusiastically.
This is one of those moments that I don't really want to have a conversation. I just want to know what's wrong with my computer. So, I listen carefully to him pontificate's on my options - which are pretty grim as far as I am concerned. When he begins to veer into techno-speak that I don't understand, I cut him off with my facial expressions. When he asks a question, I respond quickly with as few words as possible. I ask a follow-up question for every one of his statements and then provide a summation for clarification.
After a week or two of attempting to connect and either following the rules for the first few minutes and then spiraling out into old habits just sitting an interviewing someone because they never think to say "And how about you?" I decide that every conversation should be like making a trip to the Genius Bar: just a detached, technical encounter that is decide-ly finite.
Well, without busted computer, of course.