Friday, October 23, 2015

Hello, Friend Running

Hello Friend Running, nice to finally see you again.

Well, I know we’ve met a few times since I said goodbye to you last year, but for some reason it just didn’t click. Have you every scheduled a lunch with someone just to satisfy a nagging voice inside that said “you should meet up with so-and-so”? Then afterward it’s a relief to check something off the list, and you’re glad you did it, but the visit itself wasn’t anything special. That’s what my visits with you have felt like. I wanted to like you, Running, and I was supposed to like you, but somehow I didn’t like you very much. On the surface, you were polite, but you kept sneaking in little digs at my ego, and questioning my character. Instead of savoring my moments with you, I kept wishing the visit would end so we could both go home. You weren’t exactly a bore, but you were a somewhat unpleasant companion. Well, in a way you were a bore—but you weren’t a relaxing sort of bore, who obliviously drones on and on, allowing me to lose myself in my own thoughts. That sort of bore can actually be somewhat pleasant, especially when I am too mentally drained for a meaningful dialog. But no, you weren’t a relaxing bore—you were an annoying bore, a bore who expected me to actively participate in our exchange, regardless of whether I was enjoying it.

I wondered what I had ever seen in you.

After being away so long, I wasn’t surprised that our first few visits were awkward—I knew you weren’t one of those gushy sorts of friends who greets me with a big hug and tells me how great I am. Yes, I expected some initial tension, but I didn’t expect it to last so long. Had my extended absence had damaged our relationship beyond repair? I had expected to be gone 2-3 months, but was out much longer. When I finally returned, my visits were sporadic. Sometimes I would let weeks pass between our meetings. So I can’t really blame you for resenting me, or for wondering if I valued our friendship.

Then, on October 1, it finally clicked. It was a beautiful night, rather cool (which probably helped). I hoped to slog through three miles. Nope, that didn’t happen….. no slogging tonight! Instead, I ran five miles without stopping, and enjoyed every step. No more tension between us, just a relaxing camaraderie. And, not that pace matters, but I negative-split the whole thing, without even trying—each mile was faster than the one before. The last mile was at 11:45, a pace I haven’t seen since before my surgery—possibly my fastest mile since the dissertation.

So, was this a fluke, brought on by the first cool night after a Texas summer? I don’t think so. The miracle run of October 1 was followed by a couple others, not as fast but almost as enjoyable. That weekend, I logged 12 miles across a span of four days, a post-dissertation record. Three weeks later, we’re still getting along fabulously, almost like old times. The latest outing was a 6-mile jog on the treadmill. I actually enjoyed it, a big surprise—treadmill runs always seem harder than road runs.

Will it stick? True friends are treasures, and should not to be taken for granted. But I have a feeling Running isn’t going anywhere.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Writing Uphill with the Fitbit: Part I

My name is Biffet and I am a Fitbit. Eight days ago, I was adopted by a new owner. Well, maybe “adopted” is not the right word. She bought me, but thinking of myself as being adopted sounds cozier, so that’s what I’ll do. I was so glad to finally have a home—for quite some time, I had been locked in a glass cage in a small-town department store, along with about 40 other Fitbits. For a while, every Fitbit who arrived was adopted almost instantly. I overheard an employee say that her mom’s entire exercise class had wanted one, and were lying in wait for shipments, then snapping them up and taking them home.

Eventually, the store people figured out they needed to adjust their inventory, so they ordered a whole bunch of us. But as soon as we arrived, demand dried up. Apparently everyone in the exercise class already had Fitbits, and it’s not the sort of thing you need two of. So there we sat, pining for a way to get out of our cage. (Fitbits like to keep moving—they don’t cope well with sitting still.)

Then last Saturday, a lady showed up and walked straight up to our cage. She read the boxes, got a surprised and happy look on her face, then ran away. We were a little confused and disappointed—we were new and didn’t yet understand the routine. Soon, she returned, accompanied by a store employee jangling a bunch of keys. Our cage was unlocked, and the lady said, “I want one of those—the black Fitbit Charge HR in size Large.” And hooray, the employee reached in and chose me!! I was so glad I had thought to jostle my way to the front row a couple days ago, so I could peek out.

And yay, when I got to the car, I found a friend! Another Fitbit, just like me. But alas, it was a short-lived friendship. The lady said she had gotten a better deal on me, so she was returning the other Fitbit. (That’s how I found out I was purchased rather than adopted—a bit disheartening, but I am slowly learning to accept it.) Apparently my particular department store had a policy of paying people to shop. My owner had a wad of green papers that were a special kind of cash—cash that could only be spent at this one store. When she bought me with the special green cash, the store gave her more special green cash. It seems rather a strange way to run a store...I wonder how they stay in business? Maybe that’s why they have inventory problems. Anyway, my owner got paid to shop for me, yet she still referred to me as a rather extravagant purchase. many things I don’t understand.

Anyway, she took me home, got me out of the package, and plugged me in. She managed to install the phone app and the computer app without too much trouble. She was very glad it was so easy—she said it must be idiot-proof if she could do it. She’s a smart lady with a lot of college degrees, but apparently isn’t very confident when it comes to installing apps and programs. She said that was because she lives with someone who likes that sort of thing, and he always installs and updates stuff for her. She said it was hard to become skilled at things if someone else always does them for you. Makes sense to me.

While she was setting me up, she was intently watching a TV program. A bunch of horses walking around with tiny folded-up people on them. Then she laid the computer and phone aside, jumped up and down a lot, and even hollered a little. Then she just stared dumbfounded at the TV. I thought maybe she even cried a little, but that wouldn’t make sense. I heard something about a Triple Crown and 38 years since Affirmed. She said she wished she had been wearing me, so she could know how fast her heart was racing. (The HR in Fitbit Charge HR stands for Heart Rate.)

In only an hour or so, I was all charged up and ready to go. Yay! I am a fitness tracker, so I figured she would take me for a walk. That’s the whole point, right?

But no: she took me WRITING. Yes, she was so excited to have a fitness tracker, that she went to a restaurant and WROTE. The only steps I counted were back and forth to the soda machine, and one trip to buy dessert.

Then, we left the restaurant and went to a coffee shop. More writing. Actually, not so much writing, but sitting at a table recording survey data. She accused me of overestimating her steps—of counting a step every time her arm flipped over a survey. She simply had no comprehension of how many steps were involved in normal activities, like going to a coffee shop. (Well, maybe writing after midnight in a coffee shop isn’t normal for most people, but apparently it is for her.) Then, she got mad at me for starting a new day at midnight. This kept her from getting proper credit for the steps she took walking from the coffee shop to her car. She thought the day should end whenever she told it to, like her writing log. Or it could end at 2:00 a.m., if I wanted it to always end at the same time. But ending it at midnight was unreasonable. I sighed. This relationship was not off to a good start.

The next day was much the same. Writing. Bleh. Then Monday. More writing. What had I gotten myself into? Why did this lady want a fitness tracker? She said something about wanting to lose her dissertation weight, but she didn’t seem to understand that simply wearing a fitness tracker to coffee shops was not going to make that happen.

Then, Monday night, things changed. She took me for a long walk, with a friend and the friend’s Fitbit! Hooray! It was a beautiful night for a walk. It was fun to listen to the two friends talk. They talked about writing, among other things. They both have lots of papers they need to write. That was fine. From my point of view, talking about writing is preferable to actual writing. I asked my new Fitbit friend for advice about coping with this strange owner who wanted to write all the time. He said his owner was the same—she kept taking him writing instead of walking. His owner also mentioned dissertation weight—she doesn’t have any yet, but is afraid she will get some without her Fitbit. However, based on some things they both said and also on our own observations, we thought they both spent time doing other stuff they didn’t need to do, as a way to avoid writing. That doesn’t make sense—if they have stuff that needs written, and they talk about wanting to be good writers who actually finish things, why don’t they just write, instead of doing other stuff? And if they simply can’t stand writing, why don’t they walk around the block to avoid it, rather than always doing sedentary stuff?

But at least on this night, the two writing friends were walking. We gave them each a big pat on the back (well, really a vibration on the wrist), when they reached 10,000 steps for the day. (New Fitbits default to a daily goal of 10,000 steps.) Our owners said goodbye, and so did we. It sounds like I may get to walk with my new Fitbit friend occasionally—I hope so! If our owners insist on doing all this writing, we need to strategize about how to get them physically fit while doing it. It won’t be easy. (I will post another update soon....I am really hoping this weekend of writing was an aberration.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Race Report: The Bryan-College Station Non-Marathon

In early 2013, I finally did it. I signed up for my first marathon, the Bryan-College Station Marathon, scheduled for December 2013. (Marathon distance = 26 miles and 385 yards). I had toyed with the idea before, but wisely decided I should finish my dissertation first. Now, it was time. The worst-case scenario had me finishing my dissertation in October 2013, and graduating with my Ph.D. in December 2013. It seemed fitting that my first marathon would be the BCS marathon, with a course meandering through and around the Texas A&M University campus. Like the marathon, the Ph.D. is a test of endurance — for me, a particularly long and slow one. If I failed to meet my August graduation target, then my marathon and my graduation would occur during the same week in December. That would actually be pretty cool.

I found a 6-month beginner training plan, counted the weeks backward from race day, and began training in July. My dissertation still wasn’t done (bye-bye, August graduation), so most training runs began after 10:00 p.m., when my favorite writing haunt kicked me out for the night. I stayed mostly on plan until August, when I went back to work. Then I started skipping most of the weekday runs. I persevered with the weekend long runs until September. I completed the scheduled 10-miler, then gave it up. It was simply impossible. My life had already been whittled down to four activities: working, writing, running, and sleeping. I only had hours enough for three out of four, and running lost out. Finishing my dissertation and keeping my job were far more important than running a marathon.

I cheerfully paid $10 to defer my registration to 2014. (Thank you, BCS marathon organizers—most races don’t offer this option.) Good thing, too. The day before the 2013 marathon, much of Texas was hit by ice storms. Race-time temperatures in College Station were below freezing, and I knew the runners were miserable. I was rather glad to be inside. I wrote 10.48 hours that day, divided between my favorite deli/bakery and my favorite coffee shop, all on Chapter 2. (That writing log sure is handy!)

So, 2014 was to be my marathon year. I finally defended my dissertation and graduated in May, leaving me over 6 months to train. Yea! However, my marathon plans were derailed again, by a major midsummer surgery. I had to say goodbye to running for over 8 weeks. I considered switching to the half-marathon (another shout-out to the BCS race organizers, for offering this option). Adding a mile a week to my long run would put me at a 10-miler two weeks before the race, right on par with many training plans. I made it to a long run of 6 miles, and thought better of it. I had nothing to prove, and there was no point risking long-term damage. I considered begging the race organizers for a second one-time deferral, but thought better of it. They had already been more than generous, allowing runners from ice-covered school districts to defer their 2013 registrations to 2014. Nope, I would write off the lost race fee as a dissertation expense, pick up my shirt and goody bag, and happily pay the registration fee next year.

Race day 2013 was frozen misery; race day 2014 was beautiful. The full- and half-marathon courses are both big loops, coinciding for the miles closest to the start and finish lines. My race day challenge was to travel by car from my apartment, just outside the race loop, to a church just inside. I tried breaking through the perimeter at three different points. At the third location, I eventually achieved success. This third choice of traffic jam was ideal, because it let me watch the race. I was westbound on Anderson, and the runners were eastbound. Based on the race’s start time, I was seeing half-marathon runners going about my speed. I was a little wistful — skipping the marathon was undoubtedly the right decision, but with careful pushing of the envelope, maybe I could have been among these runners, gutting my way through mile 12 of the half on a gorgeous morning. I admired the determination on their faces, and tried not to notice their running form. Hmmm, when I am running 11-minute miles (well, when I used to run 11-minute miles….I hope to do so again one day), it feels like I am zipping along at a pretty brisk pace — not world-class, but respectable. It definitely feels like running, not shuffling. Why do my pace peers seem to be shuffling?

My musings were interrupted by an air-horn. And flashing lights. Yea! Here comes a police motorcycle, escorting the marathon leader through the pack of slow half-marathoners. He was definitely not shuffling. I am by no means qualified to evaluate the relative difficulty of various athletic feats, but nothing seems more mind-boggling to me than the times of elite marathon runners. It was a huge deal when the first four-minute mile was recorded. That was ONE mile. How on earth do people run 26.2 miles at a pace below 5:00? In this small-town marathon, the winner’s pace was 5:25 minutes/mile. I have no idea whether that qualifies as elite, but it is downright amazing to me. All the runners and the spectators (both on the ground and in cars) gave him a well-deserved ovation as he sped by. I expected the second-place marathoner to be close behind, but I had to wait a long time. I wondered if I blinked and missed seeing him. After viewing the results, apparently not. The winner finished 9.5 minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Wow.

Of all the times I have been stuck in traffic for 45 minutes, this was by far the most enjoyable. I was sad when an officer finally waved me through a gap between runners. That’s okay, I saw enough to inspire me. Next year, shuffle or no shuffle, those cars will have to wait for me.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 2014 Ten for Texas: A Story of Teamwork (and Redemption)

Here it is: my first race report since saying goodbye to running in late July.

This past weekend, I participated in the 10 for Texas. It’s a 10-mile race in The Woodlands, Texas, and it’s one of my favorites. I’ve run it twice before—until this weekend, my 2011 experience was the most memorable. Now, it’s a tossup.

Here’s my swag from this year:

On Friday, I reported to the packet pickup site at 2:00 p.m. Another volunteer demonstrated how to stuff race bags with shirts, hats, and coupons. However, I didn’t get much opportunity to put the lesson into practice—my bag-stuffing partner was an absolute whiz at it, and the bag-stuffing rate decreased whenever I stuck my clumsy paws in to help. So, while she stuffed bags like mad, I went to work greeting the runners. As each runner arrived, I pulled the correct (hopefully) race bib out of a numerically organized accordion file, and grabbed a race bag stuffed with the appropriate-sized shirt. I handed the bib to the sleep-deprived race organizer, who checked it in on the computer. It didn’t take long to learn my lines. “Do you know your bib number?” “You can look up your bib number on the wall outside the store entrance.” “Don’t forget the safety pins; they’re at the end of the table.”

(For my non-running or non-racing readers: Race bibs are different from baby bibs, though both are worn on the front of the shirt. Race bibs are just squares of coated paper that display the runner’s race number. In this case, they are also embedded with a timing chip, used to record the runner’s official time as he or she crosses the start and finish lines.)

Soon another volunteer arrived, making my job easier. Now I didn’t even need to grab the bags—I just told Lauren, my new partner, the shirt size, and she found the bag and gave it to the runner. Pretty soon, I had to learn another line: “We’re so sorry, we’ve run out of Small shirts. You can choose a Medium or an Extra Small.” Lauren knew the drill—as soon as she spotted a bib that said “Small,” she grabbed two model shirts, tossed one to me and held up the other. “I’m holding a Medium shirt, and Lauren is holding an Extra Small. Which one would you like?” The runners were amazingly good sports about it, with very few showing any disappointment or annoyance. Runners are an easygoing bunch, I think. Hmm, I wonder why…is it possible that running could have positive effects on one’s mindset?

I had a blast at packet pickup—the time flew. Lauren and I stayed until our host, the Luke’s Locker running store, locked its doors at 7:00 p.m. My surgically sliced abs performed well, and didn’t start barking at me until the fifth and final hour of my shift. I left the stored tired but happy. The tiredness was partly from being on my feet for 5 hours, but mostly from knowing I had to report to Hydration Station #3 at 6:30 a.m.

It was dark, with hardly any traffic, when I parked my car on the grass verge of Lake Woodlands Drive. Our hydration station was in the median, at a crossover. It was an out-and-back course, so we would see the runners twice, about Miles 3.5 and 7. Maybe a dozen volunteers (I didn’t count) were assigned to the station. Most of us didn’t know each other, so we set to work making new friends.

The race organizers clearly knew what they were doing, and had supplied us with everything we needed. There were eight tables, four or five Gatorade-filled coolers, and a big blue reservoir called a Water Monster. We had lots of cups, extra trash bags, rakes (to pick up the discarded cups), and three water pitchers (which would have been enough, if we had figured out our efficient water-pouring system at the beginning instead of the end). A plastic bin held bug spray, ponchos, band-aids, and other sundries. It also contained our bright yellow volunteer T-shirts, individually labeled with our names. After a quick shirt switcheroo (under cover of darkness, behind a fellow volunteer’s SUV), we were ready to work.

Before long, all the tables were covered with cups of Gatorade and water. We watched and waited, and finally saw our first runner! He was speeding along, and didn’t need anything from us. Others soon followed, until we had more than enough customers. We shouted “Gatorade! Water up ahead!” and “Water! Water!” At first, all went well. The cup-fillers were keeping up nicely with the cup-distributors. But then we got slammed—the runners were slurping the drinks faster than we could replenish them. I started out filling Gatorade cups, but soon switched to water, our more desperate need.

It was crazy. We filled water cups furiously, but still couldn’t keep up. “Why did they only give us three pitchers?” Fill cups until pitcher runs out. Sprint to Water Monster. Wait impatiently for pitcher to fill. Tell Water Monster to hurry up. Get mad at Water Monster for obeying the laws of physics. Meanwhile, some unfilled cups are temporarily abandoned, risking that the cup-distributors mistakenly grab the empties and offer them to the runners. (It happened, I’m sure.) The cups were generally laid out by a separate person, so the pitcher-wielder could concentrate on pouring and refilling. But sometimes the cup-arranger had to stop and shove the full cups toward the street side of the table, so the cup-distributors wouldn’t grab the empties. Then the cup-arranging would fall behind.

Eventually, we started to get traction. Our efforts were just as frenzied but not as futile. We were catching up. The improvement was mostly due to the slower runners being more spread out, but partly due to improvements in our processes. For example, I learned that I had been pouring all wrong. I had been tilting the pitcher down for each cup, then back up, then back down for the next cup. This wastes a ton of time. Instead, I needed to make sure all the cups were touching, then pour a whole line of them in one continuous motion, without lifting the pitcher. Who cares if the table gets wet? I wish I could take credit for figuring this out, but I learned it from another volunteer. I think she had worked water stops before, but maybe she was just a whole lot smarter than me. Yea, three college degrees, including one in engineering, and I can’t figure out the optimal way to pour water. Embarrassing.

We didn’t get to breathe for long. We had survived the westbound rush, but now the eastbound rush was beginning. (It was an out-and-back course… the runners u-turned a couple miles down Lake Woodlands Drive.) This meant a do-over opportunity, and we hoped to redeem ourselves. The well-stocked tables on the eastbound side had been robbed during the earlier chaos, so we were starting from scratch. That was just fine, because we were improving by the minute. Our previous disorganization had gradually been replaced by efficient teamwork. One person “cupped,” covering the table with long straight rows of cups. Two of us poured continuous lines of cups, working from opposite sides of the table to avoid collisions. One guy did nothing but fill water pitchers. As soon as my pitcher emptied, he handed me a full one. Water Monster still obeyed the laws of physics, but moved faster, thanks to someone discovering that the hose-tap released a larger stream of water than the thumb-press spigots. (Easier on the thumbs, too.) Through proactive communication, we avoided the full/empty mixups: “Pull from Table 2!” Then the cup-distributors used Table 2 and left us alone. When Table 1 was 100% covered in filled cups, we shouted “Pull from Table 1,” and got to work on Table 2. It worked beautifully.

After a while, we were well ahead and I finally had time to watch the race. I handed out a few cups of water and Gatorade, just to experience another aspect of volunteerhood. I am definitely not cut out to be a full-time cup-distributor. The task requires far more coordination than I possess—you have to hold a cup in your outstretched hand, and let it go at exactly the right time, without either dropping the drink or getting your hand tangled with the runner’s hand. Even trickier, you need to get in and out of position without tripping the runners or yourself. I managed okay with the slower runners, but when the leaders come through, I’d better stick to pouring water or cupping tables.

The best cup-distributor in our crew was also the youngest. Well, she may not have been the most efficient, but she brought a smile to the most runners’ faces. She was a beautiful young lady, about eight or ten years old, and she distributed three cups at a time—one in each hand, and one balanced on her head. If she stood very still and the runner was coordinated and not too fast, it worked well. I hope she didn’t try it with the leaders.

By this time, nearly all the work was done. The westbound (first) side of Hydration Station #3 had already been broken down, and the equipment was neatly stacked in the median. I didn’t even see it happen. One young man had raked cups for several blocks, all the way to the stop lights on either side of our crossover. He searched the bushes and pulled out every stray cup. The trash bags were filled, tied, and stacked. We cheered for the remaining runners, with an especially loud cheer for the last runner. With all of us helping, it took almost no time to clean up the eastbound side, rake the cups, stack the equipment, and empty the Water Monster.

As an extra-special bonus on a special day, I got to say hello to my friend Fred, as he grabbed some water on his way to the finish line. Three years ago, I had the honor of running the first couple miles of the 10 for Texas with him. At that time, he was 83 and the oldest runner in the race. He’s still at it.

What a marvelous morning. I was sad to see it end, and sad to say goodbye to my crewmates. Before the race started, I was determined to run the 10 for Texas next year. Now, I’d almost rather volunteer again, especially if it meant reuniting with my Hydration Station #3 team. Next year, we’ll know all the tricks from the get-go, and we’ll get it right the first time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oh no, not a writing appointment! Anything but that!

Nearly every writing expert maintains that I should schedule my daily writing session, and protect it like an important appointment. (Because it is…right?) By “schedule my writing session,” they mean that I should commit in writing to a specific time and place. Then I must show up at the appointed time and place, ready to write.

This is how appointments work. I understand the concept, and I have no problem making appointments with my doctor, my hair stylist, or my car mechanic. (Well, sometimes I have problems getting around to making the appointments when I should. But once I make the appointment, I keep it, and I do not resent these professionals for requiring an appointment.)

For some reason, writing appointments evoke a completely different reaction. They make me shudder and want to hide. My resistance is irrational, but real.

I have been writing consistently for about three years now. In fact, tonight’s writing session has extended my writing streak to 382 consecutive days. Hmmm….I just looked at my log and, wow, this ties my previous record for consecutive writing days, reached on January 22, 2013. Cool! I definitely need to remember to write tomorrow. Last time I reached 382 days, I forgot to write the next day, and was devastated to see my writing streak end. Almost none of those writing sessions were scheduled in advance for a specific time.

I have generally convinced myself that as long as I was writing daily, it didn’t matter that I failed to schedule the time. My writing streak and my finished dissertation are proof that my system is working. But is it working? Maybe I have been deluding myself. Yes, I am writing, but my failure to plan may be destroying my writing efficiency. (Well, you can’t destroy something that never existed. More accurately, my failure to make writing appointments may prevent me from ever becoming an efficient writer.)

How about a trial period? I should schedule my appointments for a week, and see if it helps. I took a deep breath and pondered my week. What time would work best? I would have to make this tough decision seven times, once for each day. I wavered and gave up. It was just too much.

Would planning one day at a time work? Maybe that would be less intimidating than planning writing appointments for a whole week. I tried it. I sat there with my pen and my calendar, and willed myself to write down a time, in ink. I couldn’t do it. Scratch that. “I couldn’t” is surely a lie. My hand muscles were perfectly capable of grasping the pen and using it to write words and numbers on the paper. “I wouldn’t” is indisputably the truth. Regardless, it didn’t happen. The thought of writing down a time was revolting to me—my mind pushed back, vehemently. It was as if I had walked into a room with a really strong unpleasant odor, and my body pushed back, doubling over and wanting to throw up. That’s how I felt when I thought of committing to a specific writing time.

Why? Why such a strong negative reaction to the notion of scheduling my writing? It makes no sense.

Is my aversion to scheduling writing-specific, or does it apply to other activities? What about running? I almost never schedule the time I run, and I usually don’t decide the mileage in advance. I have never successfully followed a training plan to completion. However, I once followed a marathon training plan for a couple months. I didn’t schedule the exact times of my runs, but I knew approximately when they would occur (10:00 p.m., when my favorite writing venue kicked me out.) During the time I followed the plan, I hit nearly all the weekly mileage targets. Planning my running doesn’t seem to evoke nearly the level of negativity as planning my writing.

Is it rebellion? Not wanting to be told what to do? I love my little Toyota Corolla (238,000 miles and still going strong), which gets excellent gas mileage. But if the government passed a regulation requiring fuel-efficient cars, or incentivizing them in some way, I would be seized by a strong desire to drive a large truck or land yacht—preferably an old rickety one that makes coughing noises and spews blue smoke.

But with writing, how could it be rebellion? The government is not telling me to schedule my writing times, and neither is my employer. The decision about when to write is mine alone.

Perhaps my distaste for writing appointments is tied up with my fear of failure and rejection. Scheduling my writing time sets me up for failure. If I schedule myself to write at 10:00 a.m. and I oversleep, then my day is a failure before I even get out of bed. If my writing appointment is at 2:00 p.m. and I let myself get sidetracked by email, I have failed. I clearly can’t hack it as a writer, so I might as well not even try.

I hoped that writing about it would help me resolve my scheduling revulsion. It didn’t. I still do not understand it, and I have not defeated it. So, at least for now, I will continue as before. As I wake up each day, I will delight in my freedom, knowing I can write at whatever time I choose. No matter how tight the constraints of the day, there is always choice…some scrap of time I can devote to writing, if I wish. Scheduling would rob me of one of writing’s pleasures—the pleasure of choice.