Month: July 2009

Almost done…


Why can’t I get it together?

I am one annotated bibliography away from being on summer vacation and you know what? I can’t seem to buckle down and do it.  On Monday after I finished grading student papers I went to the park to relax and read. Then yesterday, I spent an inordinate amount of time working out. I’m talking two and half hours. This morning I could barely walk, but I’m hoping in a month or two my tushy responds to the obsessive exercise that I have been doing. Today, I finished a silly assignment I knew wasn’t going to take any time on and went for a nice long jog. I then cleaned like a fiend and now I’m blogging.

Why in Haydes can’t I just finish this bibliography? Who knows? I’m hoping I get focused enough to get it done tomorrow so I can hand it in early. If I turn it in early I’ll skip class next week and get an early start to summer.

Wish me luck.

Why Cleaning is the Best Method of Procrastination

Title lends itself to having some kind of scientific research to back it up, well sorry readers I provide you nothing of the sort. Read on.

Let’s be honest, we all need to procrastinate at times. It’s important for our mental health, and it may even contribute to better quality work that is produced when we’re under the gun.  Hell, I think it may provide you with a better quality of life. I have one fail safe method of procrastination. I clean. I will clean anything and everything when I’m putting off a project.

I love cleaning, for a few reasons.

1) Instant Gratification: When you clean you see the results immediately. First the dirt is there, and then it’s gone. The pile of books is messed up and falling all over the place, immediately it’s in a neat pile on your desk, or book shelf. I love that. When I think about how writing is the opposite of instant gratification, I’m convinced that it’s part of the reason why I love to clean so much.

2) It’s hygienic. I don’t like messes and hate filth. Even though I haven’ t lived under the same roof as my parents for quite some time, I still make my bed every morning. I do this for two reasons.

         a) I think crawling into an unmade bed is disgusting. It doesn’t feel fresh and doesn’t look inviting.

        b) Even when my entire room is a disaster zone ( and I admit this does happen, but not often) a made bed gives the illusion that the room is cleaner than it actually is. Plus, who can fold clothes on a messy bed. That is gross.

        c) Okay there are three reasons why I make my bed every morning. When I was in elementary school, and I think through middle school my mother would NOT drive us ( my sisters and I) to school unless our beds were made. She didn’t even care if we were late. So, I guess I’ve been a little brainwashed. Regardless, I am the better for it.

3) Cleaning is a way to jump start productivity. It’s not like the cleaning doesn’t have to get done, it does; and what better way to get started with all the other crap you have to do that doesn’t leave you feeling gratified instantly than by doing something that immediately produces results and gets the ball rolling?

4) Working, like writing, or reading is easier to do in a clean space. I don’t how many of you out there are like me, but I can’t work on a paper, or short story unless my room is clean. I just can’t focus. When my room is a mess and I’m trying to concentrate, I find myself thinking of cleaning and not focusing on my school work, or writing. Also, when the space is clean, the work is just better.  This goes hand in hand with being organized. I keep my binders organized and write in planner neatly and this keeps my ass in line.

If you are struggling to focus, look around you. Should your space be condemned? Is there crap on the floor? Or cluttered on your desk? If so, take half an hour and clean it up. You’ll be glad you did!


Because I’m obsessed with cleaning, I helped organize an office clean up at school. A few of us got together after teaching and rearranged the office furniture; removing pieces that were broken and not efficiently using the space. We dusted, mopped and decorated. 

In the past, according to my colleagues who have been there longer than me, the office was a dump. Part of this is because all of the furniture in the office is old and doesn’t match. But the other reason, I think, is because no one took the time to give a shit, and clean it up. The new English Graduate Student Society’s administration decided ( and yes I’m a part of this group) there was no time like the present. We wanted to start the fall semester off right.

The office looks fabulous. It’s clean and while we added a desk to the space, the room looks bigger. It smells clean and the English department is going to have the floor waxed. I’m stoked.

The GTA office has never been a space where one can concentrate, partly because it’s always packed with teachers and students, mostly us GTA’s socializing; but I also think the lack of productivity in the room is or should I say was, because it was so cluttered in there. Perhaps Fall 2009 will be the most productive year our English Graduate Department will ever have. If, or should say when, it is it will because we got the ball rolling by cleaning.

I know I’m a bit OCD when it comes to cleaning, and I’m also probably very left brained, still being clutter free is vital for my survival as both a student, teacher–hell as a human.

De-Cluttering the Brain

In an effort to stay focused on my classes and teaching, I have completely neglected this blog. While I’m still in the middle of a summer session as both teacher and student, I am ashamed to say I have fallen off the wagon. Last summer session I was banging out pages and pages daily for my thesis/novel. I was focused and had a great schedule for both exercise and writing.

Once the second summer session began and I had to start teaching, my schedule was totally distrupted and I still (sadly it’s been three weeks) haven’t been able to get back on track. I can’t quite figure out why I have lost focus and I guess in the end it probably doesn’t matter. I just need to address the fact that I haven’t done any new writing in almost a month.

I have attempted to outline my novel and I am confident that with an outline the pages will come. I’ve always been a huge advocate of the outline. It is a great tool that I force my composition students to use, regardless of how much they like it. While my thesis isn’t something “academic” it’s still a large piece of writing that needs to be well structured. I am glad I haven’t completely forgotten about my thesis.

Writing this blog has been a great venue to get my thoughts out. In de-cluttering my brain I’ve been able to focus on my thesis. I’m hoping that since I decided to get going again, I’ll be ready to work on my thesis.

I’m a little nervous about the deadline for my rough draft. I need to have a completed rough draft of a novel by December. While December is seemingly far away, it’s closer than it appears; like a rear view mirror and the objects in it. Summer classes have a way of decieving. It seems like you’re getting so much done because you’re in class, then doing work but before you know it summer is over and it’s time to start again.

Since I was enrolled in summer classes last summer session, I haven’t really had a chance to recouperate. I’m grateful that I get a three week break between summer two and fall. I’m a little more than halfway through summer two and I already feel burnt out. While today I was incredibly productive, and I still feel a drive pushing me to finish some reading and grading, today was the first day in a while where I’ve gotten a lot done.

It’s a good thing I’m not so focused on the final grade. I do hope that doesn’t bite me in the ass when I eventually apply to PhD school. When I started grad school last August I was grade obsessed and it started to take away from the learning and enjoyment of higher education; so I decided I’d do my best regardless of a final grade of a B. In the end, I’m there to produce a thesis and read and learn about a bunch of literature. I’m not there to get straight A’s; although straight A’s would be great.

I keep going with this post because it feels good to just talk, to write. I feel better already and I’m thinking I shouldn’t have neglected this wonderful space that is One Mean MFA’s blog.

One last thing, teaching and writing is daunting. It seems that when I teach I put so much of myself into the classroom that it takes away from me putting myself into my writing. Today when I was grading papers, I found myself really giving my students a lot of insightful–and long comments. While I really want to help them grow as thinkers and writers I know that most of them just want to pass. They don’t care and I’ve noticed that many of them just flip to last page just to see the grade. So why the hell am I giving them these detailed comments? I’ll devote a post on this later.

Well thanks for listening. I feel invigorated and ready to focus on the rest of my reading and definitely the writing I need to get done for this week.