Grand Opening: My New Treadmill Desk!

treadmill desk As promised, the definitive post about my new treadmill desk!

I finally got the desk pieces delivered Tuesday, though I got the treadmill piece quite a while ago. So now I’m all assembled and rocking along. In fact, I’m walking on the treadmill as I write this!

So, I did not go with the cheapie option. Fair warning. There are some great blog posts out there about how to make your own treadmill desk, or how to jury-rig your existing treadmill so you can type while walking. I considered those options but ultimately discarded them. This is why:

  • As you can see, I have a small space. If I did one of the less expensive all-in-one treadmill desks, it would be in addition to my regular desk, and I didn’t want to sacrifice the room.
  • I like being able to look out my window and enjoy the view. There’s not enough window for both kinds of desk.
  • I didn’t already have a treadmill to jury-rig.
  • I’m at my desk about 11 hours a day, sometimes more. I do the the day job from home. So, on top of the writing career, I’m at my desk a good chunk of the time.
  • I wanted a good, long-term solution that would fit my life aesthetically and ergonomically.
  • For me, this is  a health investment. I’d rather spend the money on this now than on health care in the future.
  • It’s tax-deductible, too.

So, being who I am, I did a lot of online shopping and cross-comparisons.

I ended up buying the treadmill itself here. I like that it’s small, highly rated and has a control panel that sits up on the desk. They also sell adjustable height desks, but I found a better deal on the desk elsewhere. My big thing is I wanted this, too.

sitting deskSame desk, with the treadmill slid to the side, so I can sit and work, too. It works via a hydraulic lift that is very smooth and nearly soundless. This way, if I’m sitting and working and get a long phone call from my boss, say, I can raise the desk, slide the treadmill over and walk and talk–and still reference information on my computer.

I bought the desk here. I got the v.3 small frame (space  considerations), even though they’re running 5-7 weeks out for delivery. Treaddesk, where I got the treadmill piece, has a similar desk that’s very pretty, and they sell it as a package. However, by buying these two pieces separately and saved $640. Plus, if Treaddesk ships it as a package (cheaper than doing the pieces separately with them), they have to send it to a loading dock and not your house. Which I just did not want to deal with.

How do I like it? I do! The treadmill goes a max 4 mph and right now I’m walking at 1 mph. The treadmill is a bit heavy to slide, but not awful. The brick floors help. If I were to do this on carpet, I’d likely want one of those plastic aprons they sell at office-supply stores.

Feel free to ask questions!

Another Lesson in Persistence

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I went on a backstage tour of the Santa Fe Opera.

Yes, it was super cool.

I wanted to see the backstage to help shore up details for my Phantom book. For new readers, I’m writing an updating of The Phantom of the Opera, which will take place at the Santa Fe Opera House. I’ve only been as a member of the audience. My heroine, however, works backstage. Now, I’ve been fictionalizing my little heart out, but I really wanted a sense of the reality of backstage – even if I decided to disregard it.

The thing is, the opera only offers official backstage tours in the summertime. My manuscript is due April 1 (no joke). So, if I really wanted to see backstage before I finished writing the damn book, I needed to find Another Way.

And not breaking-in, either.

Although that would be fun, too.

I had done the obvious – called and emailed the contacts on the website. Nobody replied. Thus I began working connections. Santa Fe is not a big town and the influx of staff and performers for the summer opera season is substantial. Still, I had trouble finding someone who knew anyone.

Could be I don’t run in circles that are rarified enough.

Finally, after growing tired of hearing me whine about it, David suggested I ask our next-door neighbor if she had connections. Susan is a sculptor, but she’s also into the theater scene. Plus she’d been getting me to help her with her luminarias (this was before Christmas), so she totally owed me.

I asked her if she had a connection. She said she might and to nag her about it if she didn’t get back to me. She didn’t. But, a couple weeks after Christmas, she invited us over for dinner. Over the meal, we ended up talking about my recent book deals. When I told her about the Phantom e-serial and the subsequent three-book print deal with Kensington, she said “Wait – isn’t this a big deal? The kind of thing all writers want?!?”

Yes. Yes it is.

~does a little dance of gratitude~

I have had this conversation numerous times, with various people, by the way. But that’s another topic.

At any rate, she tells me she did mention my desire for a backstage tour to a friend who was connected, but the friend didn’t seem enthused. However, Susan hadn’t told her this was a Big Deal. So she gave me the gal’s email address and told me to write her and explain this wasn’t a whim on my part.

I emailed the gal. And heard nothing.

But, because my email address comes from my domain, it sometimes gets blocked or sent to spam. At the very least, it gives me the excuse to nag people in case this has happened. So, after a week of nothing, I resent the email from another account, apologizing if it was a double and explaining the possible spam thing.

This time she replied – though did not say if she’d gotten it before. She said that, “as she’d told Susan,” she couldn’t help me and to call the Press and Public Relations Office at the opera.

Yeah, I was kind of bummed. Sure I was back to the very beginning. But I called, since I hadn’t called that specific number before. And, lo and behold, the office director called me back. She sounded suspicious at first, but warmed quickly.

Of course they could give me a special tour, she says.

Of course.

So, after two months of trying, I was in. And yesterday – after a couple of postponements – David and I went for the personal tour. I took lots of pictures, too.

I’ll still make a lot of stuff up, but it was great to soak up the feel of the place. Also, to ask my Many Questions.

That persistence thing, I tell you guys – it really pays off

Training to Increase Daily, Weekly and Monthly Word Counts

1_16Jackson isn’t old enough yet to go outside by himself. So, he just watches Isabel from the window, envious of her Big Kitty privileges.

In the past I’ve used the analogy of being in training for producing wordcount.I continue to be amazed at just how well the principle applies. But if you’re sick of this topic, feel free to move on.

(Not that you aren’t always free to move on – I’m just warning you that this might be repeat. I’m like the old auntie who traps you at the family picnic and asks if I’ve ever told you about my trip to Japan. She won’t let you run. I will.)

One of the things I’ve learned about exercising is that it really pays to keep track of what you’re doing and use that record to increase your effort incrementally. I say this as a person who is NOT an athletic type. I hid in the bathroom during gym class. Was always picked last for ANY team. The high school coaches would kind of curl their lips up when they saw me in the hallways. I used to brag that I never broke into more than a fast walk, for any reason.

Now I run on the treadmill three days a week and lift weights the other three, alternating upper and lower body. This is because I, um, got fat. And I’m vain. Plus I have a lot of books I want to write and I’d prefer to live a long and healthy life.

So, you guys know I’m a methodical person – and that I love my spreadsheets. I studied what I should do and started tracking. Knowing how much weight you used to lift and how much you’re lifting now gives you a really good sense of perspective. Plus, when I don’t exercise for a while – due to a business trip or vacation or stuffing my face with Christmas cookies – then I can really see the impact of that. I have to build back up to where I was. It’s a very real and marked phenomenon.

And it happens with writing, too.

I’ve long been tracking my daily wordcount goals and progress. For the last few months, I’ve been tracking my weekly and monthly progress as well. I want to know my patterns and what I’m capable of.

Thus, I have not only spreadsheets, but graphs! 😀

1_13 monthly wordcountThese are my monthly wordcounts for the last four months. October was a big push. I finished a couple of projects by Thanksgiving and then moved into doing a lot of editing. And stuffing my face with Christmas cookies.

I’d planned to hit things hard again in January, but you can see that I did not match my October performance. In a stunning coincidence – I am just now getting back to my pre-Christmas body fat and endurance levels physically, too.

Go figure.

But I think this is even more interesting.

1_13 weekly wordcountThis graph shows my weekly wordcount for January. The first and last weeks were both five day weeks (only counting January days), so they’d be likely lower regardless. Still – look at how I increased each week! This was immensely heartening for me to see, because I’d been focusing on not hitting my October levels and feeling like I wasn’t performing well. But each week, I did more. Even the last week of January, with the same number of days as the first week, shows a much better output.

The other thing these charts show me is that being in training really does matter. I can no more step into producing a high level of wordcount productivity after time off than I can jump back on the treadmill and expect to run as far or as fast as before all that cookie/face/stuffing.

Good to know, huh?

Now, go get your auntie a bottle of wine.