Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Project Time!

I feel like I start projects that I never finish all the time, but this one won't really be hard to keep up with. J asked me recently "What's the most books you've ever read in a year?" I realized I had no clue. My guess is probably around 50-60. I usually average a book or so a week, making around 4 books a month, putting us around 48 if it's 4 per month up to 52 if it's a book a week.
This got me really interested in whether or not I really read as much as I feel like I do so I'm going to track it. If you don't follow me on Goodreads, well, that's where my  list will be. But I also want to put up reviews of many of the books on here. I will also be including a few graphic novels to indulge the nerdy side. Before the project begins, though, there were two books I wanted to write up reviews on mostly because they had such high ratings, and I did not feel either deserved it. The first book was Comet's Tale by Steven Wolf. The second was The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa. I've written up the first, but will do the second later so as a precursor to the project and to make this posting a little longer, I'm adding the review of Comet's Tale here.

I am such a sucker for any animal stories. I have read a few so far, but mostly have a long list of them to read still. This one caught my attention because my mom is disabled and has her own service dog. I have recently been looking into how the service dog training works and how I can get involved so this struck a cord instantly. That being said, I had to force myself to finish this book, and I read a lot.So what I liked: I liked Comet. I am not usually a fan of the greyhound breed, but I did like (some) of the descriptions of her personality and appearance and found myself smiling at times when he talks about her. I liked learning more about the breed itself. Wolf goes into the history of the breed, and I thought that was very interesting. I also really liked that she was brought from such a life of despair to being able to help someone and get so much enjoyment out of life. I loved the way her love of men in uniforms was portrayed. I found that very funny.What I did not like: The descriptions were so redundant. I read about her cinnamon coat and elegant manners so many times and often in the exact same phrases. The outline of the book itself was jumbled. Wolf would go from talking about how well she was doing training to talking about the history of the greyhound (which was interesting, the first time around). It would have been better if he had talked about his research on the breed all at once and taken care of it in one shot. It may have also saved his readers from having to read some of his repetition. Also, while I understand that he was going through a lot, his attitude really did not make me like him at all. I know he was trying to convey what he was going through, but he put everyone (Freddie, his daughters, his dogs) on a pedestal and beat himself up. This was very repetitive as well. Seeing a trend?I really think this could have been a much better story had he been a better storyteller or had the person who co-wrote had more input. I hate sounding so very heartless, but this was just so hard to get through.

The review of The Lost Prince should be forthcoming soon(ish) so I know you'll all be waiting with bated breath. Also, as a fair warning, I'm on a paranormal romance kick so there may be some "garbage" titles coming up soon in this project now that I've found some new series!

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 8: Time Management

Well, I’ve officially missed over a week on here. I’m such a slacker. I got overwhelmed with school and work. And then J. came up, and I was so not bothering with this during my time with him. This is the time when I’d usually just give up and say, “Oh, well I lasted a week.” It’s one of those things where the longer I go putting this off, the worse I feel. So much so that it seems like maybe I should just quit. I want to not be a quitter this time, though. So I’m going to keep going, even though it doesn't matter really and no one reads this, I want to do this for me.
I seem to have lost the book I was using for prompts as well. I got stuck on one about stencils, and then managed to lose the whole thing. I know it’s in my room. Somewhere. Along with a million other books and things that seem to have disappeared lately. So without a prompt, I will write about something random: calendars.
I was looking at all my responsible grown up things this morning: bills, to do lists, work schedule, homework. And I thought about how I need to get more organized so maybe I’ll get more of my responsibilities taken care of. I need to learn time management so maybe I’ll have time to read something I actually want to. So, as I’m going through my lists (on sticky notes, napkins, my bulletin board), I think, hey I should use my planner.  I open up the planner and what do you know? It has my work schedule in it, but has no monthly calendars in it for me to put in my bills. That would be really helpful so I could check things off as I pay them.
So I start cleaning up around the room and find another planner. I get all my finance stuff put in and my work schedule for the next two weeks, then realize, I can’t fit this in my purse! So I look up at the top of my desk and realize I have a monster of a planner. One of the fanciest things ever to hold a calendar. It has places for weekly to do lists, for daily lists, for monthly lists. It has an address book and notes section, 20392039203 different pockets, and a Ziploc baggy type thing in the back which would be perfect for coupons (assuming I ever remembered to put them in there). This would probably even fit in my purse. And alas, I am too lazy for this because I JUST filled in all the information in the other one. And it does not have owls on it like the other two.
I think somewhere along the line, I simply have lost my mind. I want to be a planning, organized person. I really do. I just don’t think I have the gene for this. I’m sure I’d feel much better if I took care of things before the deadline and had extra time for other, more enjoyable activities. Maybe I’d have time to write in here. Hey, maybe I’d become a brilliant writer! Oh, no. I’m back to this idea again. Maybe it’s time to get some homework done and then get some more sleep. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 7: School Work

(Disclaimer: This one is off topic and early because I have to get homework done and need to not come back here for at least the next day or so.)

As the Queen of ADD and a pro procrastinator, but also a student who feels like anything less than a B is failing (if it can’t transfer, it’s not good enough), I feel pretty qualified to write this. What is “this”? you may ask. This is a selection of tips I have for anyone who wants to get school work (or regular work for that matter) but struggles to focus for more than 5 minutes unless it’s due in 3.

1. Clean your work area. This may seem like it takes away from that valuable time that you could be working, but really “could” is the operative word here. You won’t be working, you’ll be thinking “wow, this is a mess…” or “I wonder if that gum is still good?” or “I forgot to pay that bill that’s due next week, I should pay that now.” No. You should not be paying the bill that can wait until tomorrow. You should be writing your paper that’s due sooner. So take everything off the desk and put it somewhere: in a box, in a drawer, whatever. Deal with the mess later, just get it out of the work space. This is a five minute job tops and will help you focus the rest of the time.

2. Do not turn on your favorite Kelly Clarkson music while trying to write. If you’re like me and get distracted by silence, turn on something instrumental. I recommend Explosions in the Sky. If you’re singing along to actual words of a song, no matter how well you know them, you’re not paying attention to what you should be thinking about. Listening to instrumental music, however, can calm the ADD part of the brain and allow the rest of your mind to do what needs to be done. (Yes, there is science about this, no I don’t remember where I read about it.)

3. Lock the cat out of the bedroom. Even if she cries for a little while, at least she’s not messing with the printer or chasing your hands while you’re trying to type as fast as you can think up the ideas. This only applies if you have a poorly behaved cat, of course. If yours can sleep quietly on the bed while you do your work, let her in. Mine is a brat.

4. Do as much work away from the computer as possible!! If you have to do research online, do it and then print it out so you can get away from the damn Jenna Marbles video on YouTube calling your name. Writing down ideas on actual paper also stimulates the brain and helps ideas to flow better than typing.

5. Which brings us to the next point (really only applicable for writing work): just write something! If you don’t know how to respond to the prompt, just write ideas. Scribble them down, draw a doodle of an idea, anything. This gets the brain flowing (this is called brainstorming, but, sadly, I don’t think they teach it in school anymore). Try to stay close to the topic at hand. If you find yourself wandering in your mind, try to find a connection (any connection) and wander back to the prompt you started with. I find some of my best ideas after wandering to something else.

6. Don’t wander too far. If something is truly taking your attention away, deal with it. If you’re hungry, eat something (do not go cook a gourmet meal, but deal with the hunger). If you need a fresh idea and it’s nice outside, re-read the prompt, then take a walk or a drive to both clear your head and recharge. If you have kids, well, I don’t so I don’t know what to tell you about that.
7. Chew gum. It keeps your mind awake, but won’t keep you up all night like drinking coffee. Drinking water also has the same effect.

8. If possible, find a topic you give a flying f about. If you don’t, it’ll show. If you do, it’ll show.

Now, since my pages are almost done printing, I’m going to go post this and then apply these.

Have a wonderful night!

Day 6: Fruits and Veggies

Day 6: Look in the kitchen and work with the first fruit or vegetable you spot. It could be in the form of juice, jam, or canned.

I would like to start by saying, I’m so glad I’m not making stuff with these prompts. This seems like it would be super gross. Right, so how do I talk about a fruit or vegetable without putting you to sleep? Well, most of my writing is boring anyway so I’m just going to take a risk and keep typing anyway.
I’ve decided to just write about another resolution I had. It actually started last year, but I’m resolving to keep doing it. September 1, 2011 (well, it may have been August, but I can’t remember, it was the first of one of those months) I stopped eating meat. I didn’t eat it much anyway so it wasn’t that hard. The issues come in with fast food and convenience. I don’t want to go to dinner with someone if they know I’m a vegetarian and will be all worried I can’t find something to eat. There are lots of meatless foods so with just a few exceptions (i.e. Taco Bell) I can find something pretty much anywhere. My other issue is with pizza. My favorite pizza for the longest time was pepperoni lovers (second choice: meat lovers). Now, I try to eat spinach pizza, but it just doesn’t always hit the spot like pepperoni does.
I don’t know if many people actually know why I did this though. This is yet another confession about how weird I am. I’m of the belief that the animal was already going to die and that, for the most part, it’s part of the food chain (though, clearly, as humans with developed tools we have an advantage and put ourselves at the top). I did want to start eating fresher foods (that was the point of the vegetarian thing), but have to admit that’s usually not what happens. I just eat something from the microwave that doesn’t have meat. Guess what, cheese sticks, they don’t have any meat in them. But they are so not healthy.
The real reason I gave it up was because it makes me nauseous when I think about eating an animal. I don’t know when I obtained a weak stomach, but at some point, I became that girl who can’t eat after someone “moos” or references an animal while I’m eating it. I’m also quite ADD so when I’d eat, my mind would wander and generally came across the idea of eating a pig, or whatever it was. Then it turns out that I’m in polite company, only 3 bites in, and someone asks what’s wrong with the food. Of course, you can’t say “I’m eating a dead (chicken, pig, cow)” because then they’d start thinking about it and may feel uneasy. Though, I’ve found most people get over it pretty quickly, unlike yours truly.
I also should confess that I have cheated a few times. Some days, I just *needed* a pepperoni pizza instead of vegetables. I don’t eat that wide a variety of vegetables so I have to start trying new ones I think .Wow, I’ve almost put myself to sleep.

Have a super, fantastic, great day!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 5: Collection

Day 5: What do you collect? Work with a collection of objects you have in your home (or borrow a friend’s if you like).

I wish I could say I collect something really awesome, like I have this extensive collection of vinyl records or spoons or something, but I don’t. I have a ton of wheat pennies, but I’m not sure where they went… They’re not even in a case for coin collecting, just one of those Band-aid gum containers (the metal ones, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it has nothing to do with Band-aids and there’s no gum in it now).
Anyway, so since I don’t collect anything great, I’ll confess what I do collect: books and journals. I know it’s shocking. Someone once asked what my vice is: do I smoke, or drink, or what? I do curse, but I’d have to say books are my weakness. If I only had $5 to my name, until another paycheck, I’d buy ramen for the week and use the rest on a book. Well, I’m trying to get better about that, but it has been known to happen. I also have a ton of journals that I haven’t actually used. I love blank paper because it’s so full of opportunity.
I know, everything could just be typed, but I write better when I have to put it on paper first. I also know that all my books could be on a Kindle (which I own) or a Nook (which I promote as part of my job). But I fall into the category of people who could never imagine a world without actual books. It would be a sad state to say the least. I would rather read a hard copy of a book, but also, you can’t buy an e-book used. The prices don’t really drop until it becomes a classic. After taking 6 books with me on a trip, though, I did think that maybe it would be more space efficient to use the Kindle. I guess it’s just too bad I’m not efficient.
When I said that I had to confess this, though, I didn’t mean I’m ashamed that I read a lot. I think anyone who’s met me knows that about me within a few minutes. I just feel bad that I try to recycle when I can and yet I’m using up a lot of paper with books, journals, whatnot. My defense: I’m saving these books from being wasted and thrown in the garbage. So basically, my keeping books forever = saving the planet. Ok, so maybe not, but I will commit to never throwing a book away!

Have a super, fantastic, great day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 4: Nature Walk

Day 4: Take a five-minute walk, then make something using whatever materials are available where you've ended up.

Well we've already covered the fact that I'm rarely actually making anything, but I did actually take a walk. It was a couple days ago, but I can't take a walk at night where I live (in the ghetto) so I'm using what I wrote after this one. (Yeah, I kinda cheated because I knew I was going to have to write this in a few days and couldn't think of a better walk to write about.)

To really understand this story, I have to start with the beginning of my day. I was off work, but had woken up before the sun (for no reason other than my body hates me) so I was trying to be as productive as possible. I got the notion in my head around 11 am that I should go try to take care of changing my name now that my divorce is final, and I've got the paperwork. So my brilliant idea was to go to the social security office in downtown Columbia and tackle this a few hours before I was going to do my taxes. Right. Bad plan. First I took 30 minutes driving around looking for somewhere to park because I forgot about parking meters. I can parallel park like a pro, but I didn't have change and couldn't see the Meter Fairy from Jackass showing up to help me out. So I finally find the 3 (yeah, there were signs to all of 3) parking spots designated for visitors of this 20 floor building. Spend 10 minutes to walk there, get through security (who knew it was a high level security building??), and find the right room. This puts us at about 12:30 pm. (In case you care and like a detailed timeline of my day).
So I walk into this room with like 20 of those service windows and at least 5 are just straight up closed. Is this because they're not busy you ask? No, not the case at all. They are crazy busy. I take my number and sit down. Then I remember that I've cancelled all the fancy things on my phone (because I want to lower my bills and also not waste my time on games when I could be doing homework) and I've also left the 10 books I brought in the car, which is a 7 minute walk and through security away. I think, well I'm probably the only one changing my name so how long could it take. My number is E7. I sit there 45 minutes and the only number called even close to mine was E93. That cannot be good. I think they only went through 10 names the whole time I was there. So I asked what time they open so I could just come back real early, you know, beat the crowd. The doors open at 7. The windows open at 8:30. Um, excuse me? What??? For the record it took 10 minutes to change the name when I got married because I went in a smaller town. Yeah, I think I'll just try to go when I go to Alabama the next time. At this point, I've decided to say "Fuck it. I'm going to the river." And so that's exactly what I did.
I brought some homework with me and took a walk down to the very edge of the Congaree River. While I was sitting there, I wrote all these brilliant thoughts about society and how we are constantly in a rush. It was amazing to just sit there. I left everything in my bag for a few minutes and just watched the water. There was an owl in the trees behind me, and I think it was the first time since my newly discovered love of owls that I had heard one, and it was so close to me.
Right, so when I started to remember that I needed to do some work, I remembered I was supposed to blog about taking a walk. And it was a short walk, but probably about 5 minutes. I trekked through some mud (which I'm proud to say is still on my shoes, and I probably tracked it through tax guy's house. Not so proud of that part). I got some homework reading done, but mostly I just recharged. I put my phone in my bag, on silent, and didn't check it for the hour and a half I was there. Then I took a nap in my car. This also gave me energy. I'm looking at the notes I made while I was there. I could type them, but mostly it's just me saying, "Wow. This is fantastic." I just said it in several different ways. Of course, while I was writing, I was thinking, "This is something profound and someone will read it and say, 'Wow, she's brilliant!'" Yeah, no one would read it and think that. Fortunately, what I wrote in response to my readings was a lot more coherent and actually worth submitting in class. So at least the 5 pages I filled wasn't a total waste of notebook space. I also got a great picture

Another moment when I thought, I'd be a great photographer. Yeah, no, I wouldn't. You can't really screw up  a picture of something that's already really beautiful.

And here's one more to prove I wrote some stuff too.

Have a super, fantastic, great day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 3: A Placeholder

Day 3: Make something out of paper, but don't use scissors or glue or draw on it.
Warning, this is a lovey dovey mushy crap thing.

Well, I'm going to use scissors, and glue, and probably going to draw on it, too. But I can't tell you what it is. Because, J. is super supportive of this idea, and he's the only one I know, for a fact, will read this. It's his Valentine's Day surprise so this is a marker to say that yes, I did write today, but I'll have to put it up after I see him.

But how about today, I'll just say how awful long distance relationships are. They suck. A lot. And the sad thing is, I haven't been in a relationship that wasn't long distance since high school. They say, "absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it sure makes the rest of you lonely." Well, I have to admit, it makes my heart fond, but also a little sad.
And I have to say that this is by far both the best and worst long distance I've dealt with. It's the worst because I've never missed someone so much. I've never cared about someone so much and wanted to see them like this. But it's the best because he makes me feel like he's right here sometimes. I get long distance kisses through the phone and through Skype. On days we can't talk, there are videos telling me good night. We've figured out how to play games on the computer and keep up with the little day to day things so I feel like he's still a part of my day, every day. I wake up every day thinking, wow, I'm the luckiest girl in the world. Maybe it's the whole "beginning of a relationship" thing, but I've never felt like this even at the beginning.
Anyway, so yeah, I'm making something for Valentine's Day. Trying to be crafty and what not. And it goes along with the being long distance thing. But that's the only clues anyone gets until the 16th's post.

Have a super, fantastic, great day!