I thought that being free of the demands of a 9-5 schedule would open my life to its fullest potential. Instead I did even less.
I have not been very busy these last few months. In fact there are people who, in death, have posthumously managed to get more done than I have. I have been in a perpetual state of limbo and procrastination about many things in my life, craft, career, and relationships. On the plus side, I have watched every show and managed to somehow grow fat on my abdomen.
Waaaay back in April I had a plan for how my life would go in the wacky wild realm of independent publishing. I was going to be a boss on the daily. I was going to wake up, exercise, cook breakfast, do social media, write, connect with friends etc. etc. And of course there would be a little time devoted to housework.
It's not like I didn't have the best intentions...
To aid in my efficiency I purchased several months' supply of a product called (somewhat ominously) Soylent, a full day's nutrition in a gallon of mildly unflavored whey protein and essential vitamins. The idea is that you would whip up a batch of this stuff every day and get all your food needs without the fuss of cooking or the decision fatigue that comes with planning meals.
It's not made of people and, when freshly made, is quite drinkable. It's slightly sweet and vaguely reminiscent of sawdust but overall it's flavor neutral and goes down like a shake or smoothie. The problems came with overnight refrigeration.
It thickened into a texture that is not something that my primitive instincts told me was not something I should drink. it was an effort of will to swallow it without gagging. I could sip it but that took FOREVER. I researched online. Other customers made similar complaints and the company has updated the product. I made a halfhearted attempt to add flavored oils but I just lost interest.
I still liked the idea in theory, but I was cutting costs. I still have crates of the stuff around the house and I comfort myself that if a zombie apocalypse or global pandemic hit, I'd be set for a solid month.
I must have made my final batch one morning, probably around May, and forgot to finish it. I also put off dumping it out because... laziness. I knew I should probably do something about it but it was in a sealed container. I also began to worry that it would smell. I am very sensitive to rotting smells to the point that I will throw food out before sniffing it. (See: Rancid Chicken)
In August I was attacked by some asphalt and injured my knee, giving me a free pass on any and all domestic chores.
Sometime before August the beige liquid began to separate into thicker beige at the bottom and milky water on top reaching the level of "science experiment". Over the following weeks more of the beige sludge gathered at the bottom and more cloudy water appeared at top.
Normally I would just throw out the entire pitcher. My refridgerator is littered with questionable containers that could probably be washed and re-used but I have no problem throwing them out rather than deal with the ick factor.
(Sidebar: I developed this wasteful habit when I was living with a meth addict who left dishes in the sink. She was not one of those meth heads who cleans so, after I returned from a three week trip to Scandinavia, they were still there. I couldn't take it anymore and I cleaned. At the bottom of the stagnant sink, I found a spoon of peanut butter with a maggot on it and said, "NOPE. Straight to garbage." )
Every time I looked into the barren abyss of my refrigerator I would notice something else that needed to be thrown out: old cheese, Chinese leftovers, a half drank bottle of Ensure from my weight gaining phase. I could have thrown them out but then I'd have to deal with the Soylent.
Today, since I may not have endless weekdays, I finally had the perfect day I imagined when I quit my 9-5. I woke up early, made scrambled eggs, did errands, wrote 2,000 words, took a walk, did my laundry, made the bed. I threw out all of my inedibles. The Soylent pitcher was eerily not as rancid as I expected. There was no smell and the pitcher cleaned up in 30 seconds.
And it left me wondering... why had I put it off so long? What was the big deal? Why had this one part of this one task become so insurmountable that I neglected it for eight months?
When you are self-employed and living alone, without accountability to anyone, it is easy to make excuses, and even the flimsiest one seems valid. The stuff was too gross to touch, it might smell, the garbage bins were too far away, it was too hot, then it was too cold, and it always seemed raining whenever I was in the mood to do it.
I'd like to say a great weight had been lifted at that moment but it was really kinda a meh moment. In fact, the weight had been lifted before that when I started to take steps to take control of my life. It meant cutting back on alcohol and enforcing a bed time so that I had the energy to see a simple task for what it was.
With a good night sleep, I'm unstoppable. Without it, the world is overwhelming and everything is a chore.
Moral to the Story
First, The free pitcher I got with my Soylent is awesome. It remained air tight for nearly eight fucking months and there was no sign of mold or decay. I'm glad I kept it.
Second, if you're feeling that things are spiraling out of control, make sure you're taking care of yourself. It may be as simple as getting adequate rest or exercise.
Finally... like the character in the Shel Silverstein poem, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, who simply would not take the garbage out, remember-- It's best to get that shit out of the way before it becomes unpleasant.
Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)