Sunday, May 04, 2008

It's 2 a.m. - do you know where your articles are?

After a week of craziness (well, really, a month of craziness, I suppose), I'm back home with my family for a little break before wandering southward to spend some much needed time with my Sweetie for the summer. Happily or sadly, depending on how you look at it, there really hasn't been a lot to report recently. Work moves at a snail's pass, and the end of semester has finally come and gone with nary a whimper from me or my students. While I have no delusions about not needing to work rather a lot this summer, I am looking forward to some small breaks and maybe taking it a bit easier than I have been for the last little while.

However, I find myself facing a kind of funny situation (weird funny, not so much ha-ha funny). I'm tired of work, and I know that I do need a break. But, now that the pressure's off (well, somewhat off, although not really...more just on very temporary mental trickery kind of hiatus) I find myself inspired to work. But not normal work through the day and have the evenings off kind of inspired. This kind of inspired is frantic at two a.m. inspired. Thus far, it has involved the download of new idea-mapping programs and virtual notecards, the seeking of articles in enormous databases, the filing of data into reference management programs, the reading of theoretial articles in place of the new Jamie Oliver cookbook, and all kinds of other apparently very important tasks that consume me late into the night.

I don't know that I'm complaining, per se. Really, anything that gets me a bit closer to getting the dissertation done, or even a bit closer to just being able to get the dissertation done is fantastic in my books. But I'm hopeful that inspiration doesn't keep hitting so late. This two a.m. thing? It's a wee bit tiring, and doesn't seem to lend itself well to quality work. But, for now, I'll take what I can get.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Endnote love

I finally updated Endnote on my computer this morning.

It works now.

And it's made me so happy I almost cried.

I'm just sayin'.

That is all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Food for thought

Given my recent lack of grocery shopping - which was, admittedly, supposed to happen today but was put off after a surprise request for five vials of blood rendered my left elbow useless for carrying much of anything - I've been living these last few days on some simple yet yummy meals. Thin almost-omlettes studded with mushrooms and onion and very coarsly ground black pepper. Fluffy oatmeal pancakes with syrup and applesauce. Brown rice cooked in veggie broth with kale and carrot. Roasted veggies tossed with olive oil on a bit of pasta.

Food can be a complicated series of relationships. I think rather a lot about food, but in a lot of different ways. I love food - love thinking about new meals, trying new things, turning to old standbys, perusing new cookbooks, heading to the grocery store. I also fear food (or, more accurately, "food") full of unpronouncable ingredients and enough chemicals that it never really seems to go bad. I wonder about it's production, and especially the issues around the labour and transportation and environmental conditions that all get wrapped up in it. I worry about food security issues, especially with the ever-increasing concerns about peak oil and rising food prices. I daydream about producing my own, both because of these worries and because of the fact that there are just so few things better than a plump, sun-warmed, fresh-picked tomato from your own plants coupled with a bit of fresh, home-grown basil.

I tend to eat in trends. I go through periods of loving particular foods, or particular types of foods, and eat them until I no longer want them. Then, it's onto something new, and I'll come back to it eventually. For awhile it was eggs - quiches and omlettes and scrambled egg wraps daily for lunch. For a week or so last month it was edamame with so much salt my tongue started to buzz. Sometimes it's pasta. Often it's sushi (but that I don't generally make myself.) Right now, it's veggies and whole grains which, all things considered, is probably not such a bad way to be eating. I'd like to give some more thought to the ethics of what I eat, though, and how my eating patterns fit into the larger scheme of things. I hardly think I need something else to dwell on, but it seems to be an important and (frightningly) timely issue.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Keywords for life

Current keywords for the best bits of life:

homemade salad dressing; poems of Pablo Neruda; gold dance shoes; The Quincunx; orange and grey together; "A Cook on the Wild Side" from Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall and the BBC; addictive no-knead bread with strawberry-rhubarb jam; fresh cucumber-apple-carrot juice; following along with Yoga Today; new contact with old friends; Iron and Wine; sleeveless shirts (finally!); green tea; Emmylou Harris with Mark Knopfler; mad sushi cravings; trolling Apartment Therapy; sleeping late; fresh spring bedding; newfound social life; finishing grading; Anthology of American Folk Music

Month and a half in review (bulleted edition)

Since my now next-to-last post, I have...

- almost finished teaching an undergrad course (6 more papers to grade!)

- finished my dissertation proposal

- started my dissertation ethics proposal

- complained a lot about both my dissertation proposal and dissertation ethics proposal

- submitted papers for publication - fingers crossed!

- been accepted to a summer program at Oxford

- successfully tested for eighth kyu in aikido

- panicked about being accepted to the summer program at Oxford

- had a long visit with my Sweetie

- ordered a whole pile of dissertation books

- started exercising again

- took a weekly swimming class to improve my skills

- gotten in touch with a few old friends

Lots accomplished. Lots still left to go. But, seeing things listed like this reminds me of the progress that I'm making, and that things are happening. Bit by bit. Step by step. Little by little. Plus, there are all the little moments in between the big things that just fill things out and make life all the better. Great conversations. Good meals. Hugs. Long walks. Compelling reading. Sleeping in. Staying up late. Napping.

There lots of stress, but there's more to smile about. Works for me.

Oops, I did it again?

No posts for a month and a half. I could say I've been crazy busy with the teaching and the dissertation and all manner of work things, and that would be kind of true. I could say that I just slipped into the ether again, and that would be kind of true too. I could say that I'm just plain old lazy and...well...that would actually probably be pretty true, especially if we factor the state of my apartment into the equation.

But, the truth is, I've been feeling like in writing this blog I've been becoming too serious. Too flat. Too not-me, in some ways. I feel so much funnier in real life. So much more animated and lively and silly. And while I'm not always all of these things consistently or simultaneously (especially now, when I spend a large chunk of my time as a ball of stress for various reasons), I just don't feel like they've been coming across. And, as a result, I'm faced with considering (yet again) what, exactly, I want this space to be, and how I want to be in it, and what I want to do with it.

Tonight I got dressed up all in orange and dark grey, and I walked across the street and gabbed and laughed and ate cheese and donuts with a friend for hours, and it was great. I came home and had a long online conversation with my Sweetie, and that was great too. Now I'm sitting on the couch, window open, breeze blowing, shoes tossed off on the floor beside me, and this is great too.

I don't feel like I'm capturing any of that - the little bits of my life that make it so great. Maybe it feels like something no one else would want to read. Maybe I just need to keep posting until I find some kind of a voice that works and that allows me to keep writing regularly, rather than in fits and starts. Maybe I really did just deserve that B+ that I got for creative writing in undergrad and this just isn't the venue for me.

For now, I'll keep on trying though, and will see what comes out. But, one thing I know is that while I don't necessarily want this whole space to be lighter as a whole, especially as I ponder serious issues in my own life and the world in general, I do want it to have more lightness working its way in.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Very Big City cleanout

Despite the fact that I always travel with a suitcase, I also have a rather large wardrobe stashed at my sweetie's place. But, there are a few issues with this arrangement.

First, it's a problem in general that I have a wardrobe all ready to go, and yet I'm going to the trouble of packing and hauling "stuff" (as George Carlin terms it) around with me.

Second, when I arrive, I kind of rediscover my clothes, and wear those far more than I wear the stuff that I actually bring. This is also compounded when I hit up the local Goodwill and wind up with "new" things to play around with. So, even though I bring stuff with me, it doesn't tend to get worn, especially given that I tend to forget what I've already stashed.

Third, because I'm in University City (aside: is it sad that I can't remember if this is my usual pseudonym?) most of the time, the clothes that I like the most from Very Big City tend to wind up coming back with me when I travel. As a result, even though I tend to rediscover clothing that I like when I'm in town, the bulk of my wardrobe isn't necessarily the nicest or most flattering of clothes.

Today I decided to start doing something about my wardrobe situation. In part, it made sense since it's looking like sweetie is going to have to move at some point in the next six months, and I wanted to have less stuff here to be hauled around.

However, I also think this is a good idea given the overhaul I've been working on in my own apartment, and especially to my wardrobe. In general, I'm trying to clear out all of the clothing that doesn't fit, doesn't work with other stuff and, most importantly, doesn't leave me feeling good. I certainly have some clothes that aren't particularly flattering, but I have lots more that are just so-so - not terrible, but not all that great either. I'm trying to get rid of everything but the best, in the hopes that I'll have a cleaner, simpler closet as well as an easier time dressing in outfits that really make me feel great.

So, I now have three large bags ready to go to Goodwill (easily over another 50 items), plus another pile of things that I'm considering (which will inevitably wind up going too, since they clearly aren't so very fantastic.) The closet is much cleaner, my clothes are the ones that I really like, and I feel better overall.

Given how much of an improvement I'm feeling, both her and at home, I'm thinking I should spend some time really thinking about how I want to dress and what I'd like to have in my wardrobe. Part of my problem, I think, is that there are a number of different styles and fashions that I really like - Anthropologie is the first that comes to mind. Because I like them, I tend to pick up bits and pieces here and there that fit into the aesthetic. The issue is that these styles don't tend to look so great on me - either in general, or just to me. But, in any case, the items don't get worn, and just hand around, taking up room and giving me too many options in the morning.

I'd like to take the time to figure out what I really like, and what really works for me. I do have some general ideas as to styles and preferences - Toast and J. Crew seem to be good for me in terms of aesthetic and wearability, as do most other simple designs in good materials - but I'd like to take these ideas and figure out specifics, in the hope that I can only wind up with things in my closet that really will get worn and loved.

But, for now, I'm happy to work with what I have, take in my Goodwill donation, and enjoy the new space in my closet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pre-travel update: the year thus far

I'm going to be travelling soon (albeit brifly) and before I go away, I decided to take a look around and to see how my New Year's theme is coming after being inspired at Living Deliberately.

I wanted some more sustainability and balance in my life, specifically in terms of:

- academic and work
- community and relationships
- health
- creativity
- home
- finances

Some of the changes have been gradual, so I'm happy to realise that I have made a good amount of progress on some of the things I wanted to work on.

- Strides have been made in prepping for teaching classes early, which is good for work and for my stress levels
- I've applied for another conference and a summer program, since I know I sometimes need motivation and goals to work towards
- A number of weeks with my sweetie are coming up - yay!
- I've taken some extra time to see friends when opportunities presented themselves - a bit extra time on campus means a lot more time with people I don't always get to see all that often
- Three words: lots of salad!
- I've signed up (and attended!) advanced swimming lessons (one class a week) and aikido (two classes a week)
- I'm also doing yoga a few times per week before bed
- Given my bad ankle, I'm also taking steps (doctors and physio) to get it better - I'm rather fond of being able to walk, and I'd like to be able to do it for a long time
- Over the last few days, I've purged over 50 things per day from my apartment - I now have sex garbage bags, plus lots of other stuff ready to go
- The bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen are also nice and clean now
- I've made a few goodwill trips, but only spent money on a birthday gift for mom
- No purchases other than food and gifts have been recent memory, which is nice...(oh...the trip...that too, and a cookbook with a bunch of recipes I've been dying to make...crud)

So, not a lot on the creative front, other than one night's worth of drawing the last time I was in Very Big City. But, I haven't had the TV on in over three weeks now, so I've been listening to more music and reading a lot more, which at least feels a bit more creative than just watching.

For the next few weeks, I'm hoping to:

- keep improving on managing my class and getting prep done early
- finishing my dissertation proposal (finally!)
- work on some papers with an eye to publishing
- more time with friends, including planning for a potluck at my place
- one extra night of yoga a week, plus some pilates for core strength
- more greens (and reds and yellows and oranges)
- clear out a bit more, especially books and kitchen stuff
- no more unnecessary purchases - as minimal as they've been, I'd like to be able to save that little bit more

So, that's it for now. There have been slips along the way - most notably in the form of caramel filled Hershey's kisses (betcha can't eat just 10) - but I'm proud of what I've managed to get done. And now, I think I need to pick up a drawing pad and get to work on improving on my creativity that little bit more.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Social balance

It has come to my attention that I live under a rock. It may be a very comfortable rock, but it's a rock nonetheless.

I think this is something else that I need to work on.

I walked out of my office today, and saw two of my friends together, holding hands and kissing.

This surprised me. It was a good surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

I ran into a friend a few minutes later, and asked when Tall One and Cute One had gotten together.

Apparently, over a year ago.

Over. A. Year. Ago.


Apparently something else I need to balance in my life is social time. While I certainly don't think that not knowing the latest news and/or gossip is tragic by any stretch, it might be nice to know nice things that are happening to my friends in a timely fashion. So, with that in mind, I'm going to try for a bit more hang-out time on campus and at work, and see what transpires. I'll let you know what happens.

And now, back to cleaning out under my rock a bit more. It may be a comfy rock, but it's also a very messy and cluttered one right now.

The purge continues

Still no pictures - turns out that I can't find the appropriate cable to connect camera to computer in the mess that is currently my apartment. But, I have confidence that the purging and cleaning will eventually reveal its whereabouts.

In the meantime, the purge goes on. While this certainly isn't all that I've been doing lately, I'm still proud of my efforts. I cleared out the closet with shelves in my apartment. As I went, I got rid of a bag of stationary, 55 sewing patterns (yes, 55), a few pieces of fabric, a small ironing board, ten CDs, two coats and a scarf, two shoulder bags, a backpack, a binder, and a few books. Again, a small dent, but a dent nonetheless.