books

The Steak Beckons

While I love a good four day work week, my unemployment situation has me all confused. My eating and workout routine is all off, my book a week challenge came to a halt, my sleep schedule is messed up, and on and on. I’m kind of glad America is back on schedule, because maybe I too can get back on schedule.

The dietician and I created a schedule for me. I have officially (it’s on the fridge so it’s official) set aside time for job hunting, writing, watching TV, and working out. I was supposed to be on this schedule last week, but couldn’t get into it.

I’m a TV whore, and love watching The Today Show. I always get caught up in the Money 9-1-1 segments, or the fashion segments, and I love Hoda and Kathie Lee. I swear I’m like an old lady stuck in a twenty something (late twenty-something)’s body.I get back from my 6 am torture spin session and Matt Lauer, Ann Currie, and Meredith suck me in. Then after two hours of having done nothing but made my breakfast, I find myself unable to get focused. I also love watching reruns of Frasier, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Friends. There isn’t an episode I haven’t seen at least a dozen times, and yet I sit there laughing.

I’m a loser.

I don’t know if I can give up the Today Show, but I will try to turn off the TV tomorrow morning and actually utilize my schedule. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get some writing done. I’ve been working on a few short stories, and an essay, but my novel needs major revision and my memoir needs work too/needs to written. In grad school, I had a writer friend who called short stories “fun fiction” because he’d work on the little projects in between the big projects in order to get  through the sometimes hard ass drudgery that is novel writing. Since I’m not working and have plenty of free time I’m going to try and use that mentality.

I think I need to read more short stories though. I’m always in novel mode because I’m always reading longer works of fiction. I have a few collections I’ve been meaning to check out since grad school. I bought them and they are sitting on my bookcase getting dusty. As far as teaching, I love teaching stories, but I love reading novels. What about you? Do you have a preference? I should devote a post to this.

Well, now that my brain seems to be cleared of the cob webs, it seems like forever since I’ve been in contact with you readers, I’ll get to work on some other stuff.

Other stuff includes:

a) the thawed steak on my kitchen (it’s kind of early for dinner, but that’s never stopped me before).

b) the essay I’ve been meaning to write for about a month. It only has to be about 1000 words. Honestly, get it done lazy bones.

c) I have GOT to outline my memoir. I’ve been having issues with the organization of the memoir. I don’t know if I should read more memoirs or just get writing. I can’t decide on the structure, the tone, really none of it. Also, should devote a post to this.

d) I need to reread what I have of my novel, so I can decide what I want to do with it. After letting it marinate in my file cabinet and on my flashdrive for about a year, I think it’s finally time to finish it and send it off. It would be super awesome to get that thing out into the world by the time the wedding comes along.

Sometimes, after I write these random journal/diary-like entries, I wonder what you readers think of them. So please, tell me. Do you hate them? Want me to focus more? What do you want?

I can’t promise I’ll give up these random here’s-what’s-going-on-in-my-brain posts, but if you hate them, I can limit them for sure. Or warn you at the beginning of the post.

Okay, the steak beckons.

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A Livable Space, Finally

So, I used to work at two schools. As of right now, I only have sections for the fall at one of the schools (the one I like better). Final exam at the school I hate (let’s call it the College Where We Nurture Our Students Instead of Teach Them –CWWNOSITT–okay that’s too long) was Thursday night. At the end of every semester my boss (who hates my teaching style because apparently I’m not sensitive enough) likes to meet with each of the instructors in the remedial program. At the meeting we discuss the semester, teaching pedagogy, and our growth as instructors. Well this semester I will not be driving an hour to and from this meeting.

I’ve been emailing my boss for about two weeks about summer sections and the only email I’ve received from my boss is about a student complaint. So yeah, I’m going to be a prissy little brat and not go to this meeting. On Thursday, after I had graded all the exams I put all the necessary materials into an interoffice mail envelope and drove out of the parking lot like the apocalypse was coming.

Now, I only have four sections to worry about (that’s right readers I taught six sections this semester). I spent today tidying up my apartment. As you know, I hate working in a mess. I’m pretty sure  my lack of productivity was in part because my apartment looked like a bomb went off all semester. For the first time since I moved in (December), my apartment is neat and clean–except for my workspace (irony much) which I will attend to once I’m done with the paper grading.

As I look around my little one bedroom haven, I’m relieved. I feel like I can now get my work done. I’ll be decorating (a first for me) starting on Friday. I have these beautiful art prints of famous book covers that I’ve been itching to frame and hang. Since my apartment is a big fat library, this decor will be appropriate. I’ll take some photos when I’m all done and show you my awesome space.

While I’m kind of freaking out that I don’t know where my June income is coming, it feels good to finally want to hangout in my apartment. It’s been way too long.

Maybe a party is order. By party I mean book club meeting.

Goals Goals GOOOOOOOALLLLLLS!

Sitting next to me is my revised thesis which still needs revising. While I’m sure I will feel it needs perpetual revision, this weekend I found myself unable to get anything writing related done. My final final final draft is due to my committee on the 7th. So I basically have about 10 days to get it done.  This weekend I instead starting making big plans for the up and coming months.

Because of my brilliant planning, I am done teaching any new literature to my high schoolers, and have actually made copies of just about everything I’m going to need for the rest of the year. There are a few things here and there that will need copying, but there is hardly any homework to grade, because most of it will be drafts of their final paper. I’m looking forward to summer, because these past few months of teaching have taken it out of me.

I will say that I think teaching this past semester, at the high school, has forced me to be productive. Last night while watching whatever was on TBS and then later North by Northwest, I reorganized all my previous teaching materials into psychotically organized binders. I still have to do the same with my teaching stuff at work, but once it’s done I’ll be good to go.

Spending this past semester working on my thesis and teaching high school, I have learned a lot about what direction I’d like to take and teaching high school is not it.  It could be that I’ve had  a rough experience, but I do find that I’m too invested in writing and this is why teaching at the secondary level is not for me.

I’ve been so eager to get out of the high school that I decided sometime this past week that I needed to start packing up my classroom.  While it may be premature, because they may ask me back, I have found myself thinking about what papers I’ll be recycling and which papers I will be organizing into binders. Also, some of the old teacher’s things are still in my classroom and frankly I would like to have the whole room packed up and ready to go by the 8th.

My writing goals to be completed by August:

1)  To write another food essay

2) To write two to three short stories (in the first person) my thesis is in the third and I’ve been itching to write in a character’s voice

3) To publish some more work (at least one)

4) To get a job at the college or university level (this will mostly depend on the market but I have faith that my CV is pretty good and will land me a job)

5) To be halfway done with major revisions to my thesis as I work towards having it ready to send to publishers.

Some reading goals:

I’d like to finish reading some books I started and didn’t finish including:

The Time Traveler’s Wife

-The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

-The Road

I’d also like to finally read:

-Jane Eyre ( I know how I have not read it yet)

Love in the Time of Cholera

-Dante’s Inferno

Goals that have nothing to do with writing or reading

1) I’d like to get back into my running routine. My sprained ankle and laziness has gotten me into a running rut.

2) Finally get my apartment decorated–this will require funding and right now the money situation doesn’t look good.

Well, I feel good having written down some goals. It always makes them more official when you know some people will be reading them and you have to live up to them. I’m thinking I’ll update you guys on my progress after my thesis defense.

Holy crap I’m so close.

 

Week One: Write Everyday or Else…

Well now that the semester has come to a close, I handed in my last paper early, and input my grades, I’m given an extra week to simply focus on my thesis. This next month promises to be chaotic. Yesterday, I moved out my apartment by school and drove my stuff to parents house, which is an hour away. Because I own 12 boxes just of books, I had to make two trips. Needless to say, yesterday was tiresome.

I think my boyfriend’s excitement that I’m going to be moving has got him hyped up. He’s flying me up in order to escort him to a semi-formal work Christmas thing then we’re driving to my parent’s house to load up the U-Haul only to head back to his city. After a brief unpacking, I’m headed back down to my parents’ place. I have a wedding to attend, I’ll stay through Christmas, then I drive back up to live permanently. Whoa.

All the while, my completed rough draft is due the week of January 14th. I’m a little less than halfway through my novel, so this month we learn if this chick can bang out a novel in about 6 weeks. This deadline is if I want to graduate in Spring, which I do. I’m quite tired of the student life.

While, I’m quite nervous about getting it done because of all the traveling and the insane atmosphere at my parents’ house with the renovations, my mom’s chemo, and oh! I forgot to tell you all, my other sister moved back in and her life is quite the wreck. I’m  sure this holiday season promises to aid in some short story/essay material for my post novel-writing days.  I think this month will be a true test of my writerly passion. I’m going to be forced to write EVERYDAY, which is what all great writer’s do. I’m ashamed to admit, I don’t do this.

I’ve never written every day because I’ve always had excuses, well now there is no excuse, I’m not taking any classes, I don’t have papers to grade, hell I don’t even have a job (another post on that to come later I’m sure). There is absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t write everyday. It will still be tough, because my mom is sick, and I want so desperately for her to be able to heal in a clean house which isn’t cluttered. We shall see how this all turns out.

In an attempt to chronicle my progress every Monday I’ll post on the issues of writing everyday, and how far I’ve gotten in my thesis by Monday, January 11th, I’d like to have a starter sentence that reads: “This week I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my completed thesis rough draft.”

This next 6 weeks I have to write everyday. I’m hoping it’s what gets me in the groove to continue to do it even after my thesis is completed.

I’ve heard that when starting to exercise regularly it takes 6-8 weeks to see results. Well this month I start a new exercise program for my mind and I’m hoping at the end of the 6 weeks I’m transformed into a devoted writer.

So So So Close

Did I mention I’m moving? I can’t remember and I’m too lazy to look through my past posts to check. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it because it’s only been on my mind since I started grad school. I know I’ve mentioned the four-year long distance relationship.

When I started grad school I promised my boyfriend that I would do the program as fast as I could. Immediately I asked my advisor if I could do my thesis hours away. When it was confirmed that I didn’t have to live in town and could write away from my university I was set. I ploughed through my courses and well, here we are at the end of my final semester of course work.

While my program is supposed to be three years, it can definitely be completed in two. With summers and loading up on classes, it’s doable. It’s not easy, but if it was easy then everyone would do it, right? The major issue I’m having this semester isn’t my classes, or teaching, or even the long distance. It’s my thesis.

I stupidly decided I wanted to write my first novel for my thesis. I also decided it would be a good idea to move, and hunt for jobs. My rough draft is due, the latest January 1st. I’m hoping I can bang it out before then, but with everything that is going on, I’m concerned. My goal is to graduate this spring, but I would be okay with myself if I had to push it to summer. Though, I didn’t graduate from undergrad in spring, and there is something magical about graduating in the spring, I think. All my friends graduated in spring and it’s so exciting, and everything is new, the leaves, the flowers, the moon. It’s fantastic. I’d like to participate in a spring graduation. Also, my youngest sister is graduating from high school this spring, and I think it would be so fun to have two spring graduates hanging out the house.

Okay, back to moving. Come mid-December I’ll no longer be in a long distance relationship. It’s crazy.

I was talking to my boyfriend about this recently and he pointed out that he won’t be excited until I’m living there. He reminded me that a few days after I move in I have to drive back home in order to attend a wedding and be with my family for Christmas. Then he’ll be excited because I’ll be back for New Years.

Oh, and he forgot to mention that I’ll hopefully be attending the MLA convention in Philadelphia for an interview. If you want incentive to finish a thesis and graduate apply for a job as a professor that requires a masters, so you have to finish it in order to work. HA!

I have to say the moving aspect of my life has taken over. I’m obsessed. I go on the Rooms to Go website daily and Ikea and Target just to see what furniture sales and options are available. I’m so eager to move I’ve already set up my electricity and have been browsing internet and cable packages.

While decorating is exciting that is not what I’m stoked about. It’s knowing that in roughly a month I’ll be able to see my boyfriend everyday if I want to. That I won’t have to have anymore lengthy phone conversations, that I’ll actually get to cook for him and and and and! go on dates! No more movies alone EVER AGAIN! ooooh we’ll even get to do normal couple things like hang out with friends together, and watch tv together. Hell, we’re just going to be together. I can’t wait. I can’t wait.

But I must focus. Thesis first. Excited second.

This upcoming weekend my boyfriend is coming for a visit and it’s the last visit we’re going to have as a long distance couple, and after four years of being apart, and many trips of meeting up in different places, and visiting each other. It feels so good to know it’s the last one. While we’ve had some great times, it’s feels really really really good to know it’s the last visit.

I must remember to focus. Think. Thesis.

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.

Great Friends and Great Times

After starting the weekend in a rut and feeling sorry for myself (how pathetic) I foundmyself able to turn it around thanks to my great grad school friends.  I was invited to a barbecue and it was exactly what I needed. I wasn’t worried about my work (which I got done before I went to the party) I was just into having a good time.

It was a perfect evening of wine drinking and talking about books,writing, professors and of course a good portion of it was girl talk. Can you think of anything better?

I’m just so grateful to have wonderful friends who understand how horrible a rut can be. I feel better and ready to conquer the week.