Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let the purge begin!

No pictures yet - my north-facing apartment has been too dark for photos, and the flash makes things look...well...awful. So, hopefully there will be sun soon, or at least enough light that I can post hugely embarassing photos of my apartment. Oh, the fun!

On the up-side, I was feeling inspired tonight and started the great purge of 2008 (somehow sounds less exciting than the great snow of '49, or something similarly weather-related.) In any case, I managed to fill my bundle-buggy (one of those folding pullable shopping carts) with clothes to go to Goodwill. It's not a huge amount, and there's sooo much left to do, but a start is a start, the journey of a thousand miles starts, and so on and so forth.

So, thus far the tally stands at: a skirt, a pair of shoes, four dressy shirts, a dress, a blazer, six t-shirts, eight sweaters, and eleven pairs of pants. Again, not a huge dent, but enough to feel like a bit of a start. More will come as I have more time, I'm sure, and somehow the process gets me excited and keeps me working, so hopefully that'll work in my favour too. Really, right now I'm just pleased as punch with myself, especially for getting rid of more pants.

My eventual hope is to get rid of some kind of a percentage of almost everything I own. I haven't set a number yet, though. I think part of the reason for this is that I don't want to pick something I can't do but, on the flip side, I also don't want to not have something to reach for. But, it's early yet, and the details can come in a bit. Right now, I'm pleased with whatever I can get ready to get out.

Now all I need to do is find a way to transport it all to the Goodwill, so it's not hanging around here forever. The bundle-buggy, while an obvious solution, is somewhat awkward on the bus, and the local drop-off has yet to open. I'm a little loathe to drop it off at the Goodwill, lest I wander inside and start undoing my good work. But, I suppose it's all lived here for awhile - it can just live here a little while longer, if need be.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


No photos today - I've been in transit from Very Big City to Big City on the train today (14 hours, oh joy), and will be in transit for a few more hours tomorrow from Big City back home. Sadly, there is some work waiting for me there which really must be done prior to anything else.

(Not that anyone has likely noticed, but yes, I'm so tired right now that I can't remember any of my pseudonym names for places that I live and travel to a lot. Perhaps I'll fix that tomorrow.)

For now, I need sleep in preparation for a week heavily front-end-loaded with lots of teaching, meetings, appointments, and various other committments. I'm hoping to get scary apartment photos up soon, but if not, this is why. However, they should be up by Thursday at the latest, when I think I'm going to start clearing out my apartment, piece by piece and bit by bit. And, in the meantime, I'm hoping to give some more thought and planning to the other things I want to be working on this year. Again, this'll happen bit by bit, but I'm finding having these things not only written down, but out there too, to be rather helpful in terms of motivation.

Now, if only this motivation would extend to getting through the first chunk of this coming week...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seven weird things

Accepting the general invite at Bitter Betty Blogs, here are seven weird things about me.

Despite my usual claims to being weird, odd, strange, and generally kind of quirky, seven things was surprisingly hard to think of. I feel like not being able to think of seven weird things is in itself rather weird. Of course, more will spring to mind at three this morning...

1. I can barely stand to have my belly button touched.

2. I also hate the feel of nylons. While I hate the material and the fact that they fall down, I really hate the way they snag on any rough bits or edges. It turns my stomach just thinking about pulling them on. /shudder

3. When I sleep, I must be covered from my head to my chin. Preferably in a whole lot of blankets. Even in summer. And I must be on my stomach.

Okay, so I've made it to three, and just realised that I covered this rather in-depth here. So, some of these are doubles, but now I'm going to try for four new ones to get me up to seven. Oh, the challenge!

4. There are remarkably few movies that I can stand to watch over and over again. I have a DVD player, and a collection of a whole three DVDs (well, two of them are TV series seasons). I just have no interest in watching things over and over again.

5. I obsess over even the most basic emails to get my wording right. I can ponder a three sentence email for hours to make sure that my tone, meaning, message, and word choice are all right. All this, even though I doubt any one notices, or even cares.

6. I'm scared of heights, but whenever I'm on a high-up balcony, I entertain fantasies of climbing up on the railing and just hanging out. (It would never happen, I just can't seem to prevent myself from thinking about it.)

7. I do my best thinking in the shower, but the ideas go away soon after I'm done. Some days, I've gone running to my desk with goo still in my hair just to get at paper and a pen to write something down.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Clearing out

The first thing I need to do this year, or at least the one that's on my mind the most, is clearing out my apartment. Between stuff from relatives, things I already owned, and my thrift store love, I have rather a lot of stuff. My apartment doesn't tend to get overwhelming, but it is rather full, and does tend towards surface messiness. As a result, I spend more time than I want to cleaning and even working to get rid of stuff.

My hope for clearing out a bunch of stuff is that it'll mean less time cleaning, sorting, and purging. With any luck, my apartment will stay cleaner longer, freeing up more time and energy for the other things on my list that I want to get into balance - work, health, relationships, and so on. In addition, since cleaning is one of my favourite forms of procrastination is cleaning, I'm also hoping that removes one easy sorce of work-avoidance. While it does get messy now, it really isn't all that hard to clean up. It's just difficult to keep clean over time because of all the stuff.

While I don't think I can do this all in one fell swoop, I'd like to get rid of a fair amount of stuff right off the bat this year. However, I know that with my teaching and other work responsibilities, the process will have to be somewhat slow.

But, this isn't the easiest thing in the world for me. I tend to become attached to my things, especially those with happy memories or those given to me by people that I care about. Logically, I know stuff is just stuff, but that doesn't make it all that much easier when facing down a purge.

In addition, I worry about getting rid of stuff because I might want it later. This isn't so much a simple "I might need this someday," but more a fear that I might regret getting rid of something for more complicated emotional reasons (not that I'm necessarily clear on what these reasons might be). I think that perhaps Shari at The Glass Doorknob said it best, in her 248: Thoughts on Clearing Out post.

Go take a look if you want. I'll wait.

In any case, part of the problem is that my apartment gets cleaned when people come over, so no one ever sees the mess. I'm not really accountable to anyone for it's state on a regular basis and, when I am, it's brief. So, here's the plan. When I get home (I'm away for a few more days yet) I'm going to take uncleaned photos of my apartment, and will post them here. It's entirely possible this will be hugely embarassing, but I suppose I can deal, so long as something good comes from it. As I clear out, I'll also take and post photos of how much stuff I'm getting rid of, and the end result. My hope is that with visible doumentation and hopefully people following along, I'll be even more motivated for this project as well as more able to see and track my results as I go.

Long nights and slow days

My sleep schedule's off, which seems to make for slow days with not a lot of work. In turn, this makes me feel behind in my work and less motivated to sit down and do. So, I don't, and then I feel even more behind. It's a bad cycle that I hope to break tomorrow by getting at least one thing crossed off from my to-do list.

However, I don't want to get hopelessly lost in feeling like this, and so I'm thinking about what I'm grateful for today. Here are a few bits that spring quickly to mind:

- getting a bit of work done, despite feeling unwell
- a boyfriend who I love very much and who gives great hugs
- yummy Indian food
- friends with whom to eat yummy Indian food
- a flexible job where I can take a day off, even if I just need one
- a warm, comfy bed in which I'll get to snuggle in very soon to read and sleep before starting a brand new day (hopefully involving some more productivity than was on the books for toda

No matter how "meh" I feel, and how behind and badly about myself I feel, I think there are always good things that I can focus on, and that help me feel better. And for this I'm grateful too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lost in lists

I'm a big fan of lists. I tend to keep a lot of them. I have scads of grocery lists and shopping lists. List of books I want to read and music I want to listen to. I keep to-do lists, should-do lists, and want-to-do lists. But these lasts lists are getting a bit overwhelming. There's a lot on them, even just in terms of things that need to be done, and as more gets added, I get more and more antsy, to the point where even less gets done, and I stress out even more. It's really a rather viscious cycle. And so, right now, I think I need a list of things that I have acomplished, to show me that all that I need to do is possible, and that some of it is even done already. And so, since the start of January, I have:

- survived my first class as an instructor
- finished the methodology draft for my dissertation proposal
- finished the timeline draft for my dissertation proposal
- finished the first set of revisions for my dissertation proposal (why yes, the propsal is my Big Thing right now - why do you ask?)
- started writing lecture notes for my first real lectures
- started a teaching dossier for a tenure-track position that I may or may not apply to soon (tba)
- started near-daily yoga and strengthening exercises

There's still a lot to be done - get together references and a cover letter, more revisions and changes, and ethics review that needs to be done, plus a whole slew of lectures. But it's good to see that things are somehow getting done. The usually do, eventually, but a concrete list is always a nice thing to have, especially in this case.

New Year's theme

Given the general craziness of the last few years (long story...perhaps for another time), I've been liking the idea of having a theme for the year, both to follow and to inspire me. I've spent a lot of time thinking about my interests for the last few months, and especially the ones that are growing a lot. I've also been pondering what I need, and where I have issues in my life that need to be addressed. And, after a bunch of pondering over deep cups of tea, I think I finally have a theme for 2008.

Balance and sustainability.

(Okay - so maybe that's kind of two themes.)

The first thing that got me thinking about sustainability was environmental issues. I started thinking and reading more and more about what's going on in the world, and what can be done at the local level. I found myself inspired by Patrick and Holly of Hen Waller and Jim and Peggy of earth home garden . I got to thinking about ideas of self-sufficiency, and living out off the grid as much as possible - making do, crafting, growing food, and all manner of other activities.

Then, I got into thinking about sustainability in more general terms. Although I was familiar with all of it's concepts, The Story of Stuff hit me pretty hard. I've always been interested in things that were older, durable, well-designed, and made to stand the test of time. I began to consider how to further surround myself with things that would last, or had already lasted for a long time. Things that would get more comfortable or worn in over time, that would eventually show their age, that would hold up and wouldn't need to be replaced anytime soon, and that would be useful and beautiful because of all of these qualities.

A bit later, it also struck me that sustainability was something that I needed more of in my life, in even more general and personal ways. I needed to find some kind of balance that I could then make sustainable, over time. There are so many things that I have going on and, even more that I'm interested in that I really should think about how to keep everything that I do sustainable for the long run. As it stands, I currently do just about everything in fits and starts and in cycles where one thing tends to get focused on while others get pushed aside.

In general, I want to create the life that I want and make it sustainable for me as well as for the world around me. I need to find a way to balance all of the different areas of my life - academic and work, community and relationships, health, creativity, home, finances - and get myself to a place where they remain balanced and equal priorities. While I do this, I also want to make sure that they have as little negative effect, and as much positive effect on the world as possible. I know this won't always be possible, but I certainly think I can get this better than I have it now. Even better, I also see ways that managing one area will help to make the others easier to maintain as well. I'm looking forward to thinking out and exploring the links between these areas as I go.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Inconspicuous consumption

I don't buy a lot. In part, this is because I can't afford to, at least not on a grad student budget. Mostly, though, this is because I don't like buying into capitalist consumption all that much, and I'm generally trying to buy as little as possible. But, that doesn't mean that I don't still look and get inspired by things that I see.

Rather than keep these things to myself, I thought I'd share the wealth.

These Asa Westlund shoes:

Cabled knee-high socks from Toast:

This print of Oceans Don't Freeze by Jen Corace:

New Year, New Posts

I've been a bit slow posting in the new year for a few reasons.

First, which I'm not generally one for new year's resolutions, I do like to think of a "theme" for myself for the year. Rather than rushing into one this year (and then failing miserably), I took some time to think about what I want from this year (which I'll porbably get into in a later post.)

Second, I've been busy. A few different circumstances have gotten me a bit behind in some of my work, and I've been trying to catch up. Also, I wasn't anticipating all of the administrivia that comes with my new lecturer position at the University. It's been taking up a fair amount of time, and is really boring to write about. But, I think things are more or less in place now, and I'm good to (finally!) get myself back on track.

Finally, I've been away from home almost since the New Year, and was away from home even before that as well. I'm not so good at staying on routine when away from home, let alone implementing new plans, and so not a lot has been done on any sort of New Year's theme as of yet. But, I'm getting there, even while away, and hope to getting down to write about it soon.