Over the last few months, we’ve been visited by this young fox at night. City foxes are pretty bold to begin with, you can see them out roaming the streets after dark like squirrels or stray cats, no big deal. But this one seems especially bold. It found its way onto our patio, which is set below ground level at a good drop from the street, and just outside of our bedroom window. At first it’d sneak in and pace up and down the patio (which we’d get alerted to by our motion-sensor cameras). Nothing wrong with that, it was cool to have a furry friend come visit us.
Then it started screaming.
Now, I know there’s a joke in there about something something the fox says, but it is a genuinely frightening sound if you haven’t heard it before. I remember years ago jolting awake in a panic the very first time I heard the foxes of London screeching in the distance, thinking someone—a not-quite-human baby, perhaps—was being brutally murdered, or was doing the brutal murdering. So now here’s this fox, mere feet from our bed, with just glass panes between us, banshee-screaming its lungs out.
Was it lonely? Crying out for a mate? Hungry? Angry? Gassy? All of the above?
I can’t say for sure, but sweet baby jeebus did it jolt us awake. The fox did it once or twice a week, and we’d have to shoo it away by opening our window and scaring it in turn. It was a weird dance we had going on.
That was a good few months ago. The fox stopped screaming finally (knock on wood), but then decided it would rather rub its scent everywhere. Dragging its little fox booty around, marking its turf. It also left us a few *ahem* presents, which were always great to open up the curtains to in the morning.
But now, it’s discovered its reflection in our window (which is floor-to-ceiling, a very fortunate thing in a gloomy below-ground-floor London flat), and has decided to start scratching at it. Sometimes at midnight, sometimes 3 AM, sometimes 5 AM, the little bastard cares not for the sleep schedules of man. And whether it thinks it’s a potential mate, or a friend, or himself, it seems to think it can free them from the mirror dimension by scratching away.
Once again, this scared the crap out of us the first time it happened at the ass crack of dawn. Real nightmare material. Now, it’s become a hilarious if annoying part of our night. The fox came again last night, and when I drew the curtain, it froze, as if it could see me on the other side. Then off it scampered, its otherwise brilliant fox brain seemingly incapable of grasping the concept of object permanence, but hey, I admire its persistence.
We’re now having to amp up our natural and humane methods of getting this fox to leave us alone, since it sure seems to like our bedroom window for some reason. I’m trying to see this as a lesson in sticking with your habits and goals, and to never stop believing, even though the fox’s consistency in this case is really counter-productive to our goal of getting better sleep…, but hey ho. (I’m thinking of naming it Narcissus, but I’m very open to suggestions.)
With my new fox familiar helping me rediscover the magic of the wee hours of pre-dawn (thanks but no thanks little friend), I’m trying really hard to find the joy in the little things, and find my motivation again. I’ve so loved reading everyone’s posts about their resolutions and hopes for this year. I have definitely not been in a good frame of mind the last few weeks, since—after two years of being essentially paranoid hermits in order to stay safe—my partner and I caught covid and had to cancel our trip to see my family. I haven’t seen them in over two years now, so it’s been…tough to say to least. We’re both feeling a lot better now, and luckily only had mild cases thanks to being doubly vaccinated, but it was still rough, and really sad to be in isolation for Christmas.
SO, as I try to claw my way back from this latest depressive spiral/life curveball, I’m clinging to the cautious hope and gentle intentions everyone else is setting for 2022, and approaching this new year very carefully, with no sudden movements or grand promises. I LOVED Nicole’s post over at Thoughts Stained With Ink, and I was also super inspired by Erin’s post, especially her word of the year: “consistency.” Kate McKean’s newsletter is always an insightful delight, and her newest post about resolutions and habits is exactly what I needed right now. (Also subscribe to her newsletter if you haven’t, it’s fabulous!) And Shelea’s suggestions for reframing your mindset are so helpful!
I’m also focusing more on little every day acts of consistency, and setting my goals as reasonably as I can, because that feels more manageable, and because, well, I honestly can’t really take much more disappointment. (It’s just relentless isn’t it?)
In the continuing saga of me fighting my brain weasels (and nocturnal foxes), I’m trying to remember that I can only control certain things, and very few of them at that. I can only take it one day at a time, one thing at a time, and do the best I can, whatever that means on any given day. With all this in mind, here’s what I’m hoping to work on this year.
-Consistency Tracker: this is a new technique I’m trying, cobbled together from other kinds of activity trackers I’ve tried before and failed at. It’s also inspired by those nifty bullet journal/grid paper trackers (although mine is just a sheet of notebook paper onto which I drew more lines to make a grid), where I can see the whole month at once, and I get to fill in a little square every time I do something each day. This makes my squirrel brain happy! I’ve got all my daily routines (from things like taking Vitamin D, to stretching before bed) lined up and ready to go, and I’ve already filled in quite a few squares this week, so we’re off to a solid start. I’ve got it up on my wall above my new desk (also yay! I have a desk now!) so I can see it every day and get motivated to fill in those squares baby.
-Query #RavenBook more: I started sending out queries this past fall, and I’m starting to think I should tweak my sub package and MS before sending out more. I really don’t want to give up on this book yet. However, I also want to focus on….
-Drafting #HeistBook: this is my latest obsession, a new WIP I started for NaNo but had to step back from when life got in the way. I still need to flesh out more of the plot and character motivations before I continue, but I’m hoping this break I’ve taken will be enough to see me through to the finish line. I also need to get back into a writing routine, so I’ve put 30 minutes of writing each day on my consistency tracker, to help me get back into the habit. I cranked out a whole new chapter last night, after more than a month off of writing, so that felt amazing! Because I work best with deadlines, I’m giving myself until the end of March to finish this draft, since I’m still figuring out how to juggle my writing alongside my full-time job (which I still can’t believe I finally have).
-Reading more: I’ve found a laughably simple way to game my brain into reading more instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone! Get this: the Kindle App. Groundbreaking, I know. I already had notifications turned off for twitter and instagram, but now I’ve removed them from my phone home screen (although I haven’t totally uninstalled them yet 🙃), and instead I have the Kindle App front and centre, so I always open it before any social media. This has helped me already read a book in the last week, and I’m onto a second one now. I’m also reading a fabulous historical fiction MS by one of my CPs, so I’m off to a pretty good start compared to my dismal reading habit last year. I’m also sticking to my rule of only getting a new book when I’ve read one on my very considerable TBR. So many books, so little time!
I’m starting with these intentions, because these are the most important to me. The consistency tracker has a lot of little actions in it too, which will hopefully help me get my physical and mental health back to a better place. The writing goals are my biggest ones for the year, and while I’d also love to go back and revise #VeniceBook, with all its spicy courtesan goodness, I don’t want to overload my plate right off the bat, and then get disappointed when I don’t meet my own expectations. It will be there when I’m ready for it, and I want to focus on #HeistBook right now.
I’m trying really hard to work with my brain nowadays, especially since I’m pretty sure I have ADHD, which explains a lot of my struggles with forming good habits and sticking with them. But since realizing this, I’m doing my best to not beat myself up when I mess up. I’ve always been hard on myself, but goshdangit the world is hard enough right now. I just want to float along and start enjoying things again.
Speaking of, here are some things I’ve been loving lately. Let me know what your favorite tunes/books/shows/movies are right now, or what you’re hoping to do more of this year.
A few more fun things around the interwebs I’ve enjoyed lately are Allison Epstein’s absolutely unhinged and hilarious history newsletters about Dirtbags from History. The latest edition is *chef’s kiss*. ALSO holy crap this is my new favorite piece of short fiction—it’s by Erin Fulmer, and you should check it out nowish.
Hope you’re all staying as safe and well as you can, and that this year is kinder to us all.
Thanks for reading!