Name: devil. Location: details.

I lay on the bed this afternoon, drowsy with sunshine and tea and salacious novel, and trawled fingers through Edmund's orange fur. As my hand crept over and around, to reach the white fur on his belly, the purring changed from lazy to nearly explosive, as if to say, oh yes, pet me right there...

He's missed me, the little brat. Tenzing too. I've been a null entity in my life for the past two weeks as I worked on bringing The Print Project™ to completion. I came home Thursday night with a sense of jubilance that was tempered by a well-chilled bottle of Mirror Pond Pale Ale and a desperate need to sleep. I slept nearly ten hours that night and nearly twelve last night. I feel mostly human again.

Frantic creativity, for me, comes with a hefty price tag. I do marvel at how I react to it, as I'm not sure if my reaction is typical. It is not physically tiring work, but it's mentally draining. I measure the length of my days by the lights in the room I work in; if I'm the person who first turns them on at the beginning of the day and also turns them out when I leave, I know it's been a long day.

(Misty, I have meant to ask you for ages if you react similarly to design work.)

I think my co-workers think I'm a little crazy. 'Touched' is the phrase I heard growing up, as in, She's a little touched in the head, isn't she? I'm something of a favored and eccentric pet in the office, someone whose foibles are odd, yet amusing. My creative output can be reasonably estimated by a graph containing hours of headphone time and total cups of tea per day.

It also turns out that I'm slightly superstitious about projects. I react strangely when told an unfinished project is good. Perhaps I'm afraid of jinxing the final piece of the puzzle. However, once the project is done, and I can see all the parts, I'm comfortable with being told it's good work.

But, regardless, it is done. I had a slight whiff of disappointment when I handed a copy of the finished project to Jeff this afternoon, so he could see what had stolen his wife away for two weeks. I stifled the sense of discouragement that said, "But it's only three pieces of paper. How did this eat 116 hours of my life?" But that's easily answered; see the title of this entry.

116 hours goes away quickly when you add it all together: Photography. Initial design and layout. Throwing out most of the initial design and layout when the mailing's layout had to be changed radically due to cost issues. Reshoots. Photo cleanup. Copywriting (in this case turning raw statistics into readable, interesting chunks of information). Layout. More layout. Proofing. Discussing changes with printer and the commissioner of the project. Readying for press, and sending it away.

116 hours, mostly over the course of two weeks, one of which was shortened due to a holiday.

No wonder the cats have missed me. I woke up this morning to soft, querulous purring from Tenzing: snuggle time plz? Since words don't work well with cats, I rubbed his ears, giving the Universal Cat Signal Of Human Available For Petting. The next thing I knew, he was busily twirling himself into the perfect position to collapse in the crook of my arm, chin draped over my elbow, paws flexing as he uttered a dramatic, exhausted wheeze (he is such the drama queen) and settled into a nap. I could feel the soft vibrations against my arm as he purred himself to sleep. I hadn't made time for him, and he'd missed me.

Today is a recharge day. Tea, sunshine, kitties. The best moment of all? Realizing that I'd guessed wrong on some of the details (Huntsville? Married? House instead of apartment?) but that when examined from a distance, I've become exactly the adult I thought I would be.

This won't be the last time I need a recovery day like this one. The nature of my job guarantees there will be others, and sooner rather than later, but it's comforting to realize that this time, I didn't just do a decent job, I did a jaw-dropping kick-ass one. Each time I do so, I grow a little more confident that I can do it again.

But for now? Edmund's belly needs rubbing, and I've got a little paperback that's whispering my name.