I spent the first weekend of my vacation doing a tiny bit of outlining and a lot of lazing around. Not the good, relaxing kind of lazing around, but the kind that makes you wonder where the day went and what you’re doing with your time. It is just the first weekend, so I’ll let myself have this one. I think for the rest of my three weeks I’m going to need to put together a more proper plan, or else by the end of it the time will go in a useless blur that won’t even feel fun or really relaxing.

Maybe I will live out these three weeks pretending I am a proper writer, and see how much I can write. I used to love creative writing when I was a kid, and gradually that stopped in favor of programming for both hobby projects and work. My first story was apparently back in Ukraine, written in Russian and illustrated by me. It went like this: “A jellyfish saw a fish, and sat.”

You see, the “and sat” part was meant to be “and ate it”. In Russian “sat” is “села” (sela) and “ate” is “съела” (“syela”). I was young and did not know how to spell properly, so left out the “ъ” (called the “hard sign”) and “ate” turned into “sat”. But I guess sitting on a fish just makes for a more interesting story, anyway.

Over the summer break, I got back into writing. In English this time. I’ve been writing and publishing short stories since. It’s just for fun, but brings in about a hundred bucks a month, which feels nice. I think having a small stream of “hobby income” just feels like a nice security blanket for me. I know it doesn’t make much actual sense as $100 per month won’t pay the rent, but there is something about having multiple streams of income that just feels “safer”.

In general, I think it is the pandemic that made me feel that way. Not to mention, I ended up switching jobs and turning in my 3 months notice soon before COVID really hit, going from a stable job that would give me at least four months of notice as per collective agreement to a six month probation period. You can bet I cut my spending down drastically and signed up for unemployment insurance in a flash once the virus hit!

I think overall, that has been a good thing though. I have been sort of half-assedly saving for a few years, investing monthly in a few choice index funds. I am an impulse spender and have been putting strategies in place to curb that for years. I’ve gotten pretty good! But it wasn’t until the uncertainty of what would happen became clear that I really got my ass in line. Don’t get me wrong - I’m not one of those people who manages to save 50% of her income that you read about online, and I’m not much of a minimalist, but I manage to actually keep a stable monthly budget now and save the rest. I made sure I had a 12 month emergency fund before finishing up my 3 month notice period, and then invested half of that once my six month probation was up. Now, with six months of expenses ready to go in an emergency fund, insurance, and my little writing side gig I can “relax”. A little.

But really, the main part I like about the writing is not the tiny bit of income but the fun. I’ve had an idea for a novel and have started it many times, but my plotting, outlining, and actual writing skills never quite measured up. I always quit. So this time I started with short stories for practice. I’m getting better with outlining with each new story, and my vocabulary and wording are becoming better as well. In high school English teachers would always compliment me on my writing, and I took every creative writing elective I could find. The old creative writing muscles are still creaky, but I am sort of getting them back again!

Speaking of muscles, I have not worked out properly in forever. In summer when things seemed to be drastically better I joined a 24-hour gym and went to it twice, as early in the morning as I could to avoid any people. But even with just one or two other people there it did not quite feel safe, and then cases started to spike again. I decided it was a stupid idea and stopped going.

I originally planned to work out with my 16kg kettlebell at home, but motivation has been…low to non-existent. But recently I did finally order a pole! I started pole dancing courses last year and got 1.5 6-week courses at a studio out of the way. My goal was to complete at least 3 (I think) of those 6-week courses before I would allow myself to invest in a pole for my apartment (this is one of those impulse-spending-curbing strategies I mentioned). But after the pandemic hit I stopped going, and have thought about how much fun it was a lot ever since. Finally, I decided this is a special situation. I don’t think I’ll get to go back to the studio any time soon to finish my 3-course prerequisite, and considering I have been thinking about how much I miss pole dancing for a year now, it isn’t really an impulse buy anymore.

Unfortunately with a lot of supply chains being disturbed right now it seems like I may not be getting my pole until January or February. I’ve just been watching pole dancing videos and tutorials in the meantime, and dreaming about what kind of space I want to set up for my pole in the apartment when it gets here (you need enough free space around the pole and a mirror to train properly).

I have also discovered the wonder of grocery delivery. I order grocieries once a month, and also subscribe to a fruit and vegetable box delivery service that comes weekly called Karma Box. One small box lasts me just about a week. They use surplus fruit and vegetables that sometimes need to be eaten quickly before they go off, thereby helping reduce food waste and also reducing the cost. I feel like my isolation diet overall has gotten much healthier since I’ve started ordering the Karma box, because when I was just getting 1 or 2 grocery deliveries per month there was a limit to how much fresh fruit and vegetables I could order. I can’t order a bunch of fresh veggies that would last an entire month, they’d be off by the time the month is done!

I did have one large impulse buy in these COVID times: a Litter Robot. I know, it seems stupid to buy a robot litterbox when I am at home all day and it is so easy to just scoop the boxes myself. Cat pee and I have a long history (click on “Rigel” in the main menu above if you are curious). I would either clean the box multiple times per day or feel guilty about not cleaning it enough, and being at home all day seeing them use the boxes and not cleaning them right away just exacerbated that.

But none of that really clicked at first, and I originally got the Litter Robot for just plain convenience of not having to do this unpleasant task twice a day, every day. I also thought it could replace the two large litter boxes I had at the time, which never really had a nice spot in my small apartment.

After the Litter Robot actually arrived and the cats started using it, I realized just how much more relaxed I was about them. I can still keep an eye on their peeing habits easily and make sure that nobody (especially Rigel) gets blocked again (even if I do not see or hear them using the box in person, there is an app that tracks their usage frequency!), but not have to actually think about it multiple times per day. I also don’t have to feel bad about not cleaning the box right away after one of them goes, because the box rotates to clean itself eight minutes after every visit! So I get less cleaning and less thinking about cat pee, and my cats get a permanently clean box.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled enough. I’m going to drink tea and prepare my writing schedule for tomorrow.

© - 2021 · Liza Shulyayeva ·