The primary goal I set for myself a few months ago, the "thing" or "point" toward which to strive as I contend with my current array of upheavals, was this: To get out of my own way.

To get out of my own way. It lacks specificity and shape, but it encapsulates what I most want in life. To move and to act according to my own sense of what I should do, without hobbling or discouraging myself. I have experienced this before. Over the last several years I have gradually draped myself with threads spun from guilt and apology, self-abnegation. It happened slowly, one strand at a time, but it all accumulated to the point where I couldn't move or speak without tripping or getting tangled up in it. It gets everywhere: in my eyes and sinuses, around my shins and wrists, into my throat and heart. It mats my hair and dulls my skin. It hangs from my elbows like Spanish moss.

A secondary goal, not quite as amorphous, has become legible in the little window at the bottom of my Magic 8-Ball: Say "yes."

Saying "yes" is like cutting and brushing away the cobwebs. It lets me see out, go out, orient my trajectory toward out.
I'm really enjoying being back on this platform. I'm still adjusting to the "new look" that seems to have rolled out yesterday, but I do like the new theme I've chosen for my own LJ's appearance. Blue + wood + readable posts = awesome, IMO. I need to go through and edit my list of links, though--I'm sure many of them are gone, broken, or just sitting stagnant at this point.

A couple of days ago I spent some time paging back through some really old entries, and it was unsettling, reassuring, and sobering (yes, all of that, all at once) to realize how much time has passed since I first started writing here. I really valued seeing textual evidence of my thoughts, feelings, struggles, and - yes - insights. I don't think the Facebook model can facilitate the same kind of reflection on the past. The reasons are probably obvious: the transient microblogging model doesn't leave as much of a "trace" as long form blogging and the traces that it does leave are much harder to page through even weeks later, much less months or years. The archive is not organized in a linear, calendrical fashion.

I also really like that I can choose to make my posts public, friends-locked, private-filter locked, or private. I know that I can do that on FB, too, but for whatever reason - naiveté or whatever - I trust the settings on LJ more than I do on FB.
How about this for a throwback thursday, huh? This is an old thing I used to do on Fridays, only now it seems appropriate to move it to Thursdays.

Reading: Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (for teaching); and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I just started the latter last night so I can't say much about how I like it. I'm really enjoying the former--more so than I did the first time I read it, I think. It's particularly interesting to me, in the context of my utopian literature class.

Wearing: Currently: a jean skirt, a gray v-neck t-shirt with an owl on the front, and brown sandals. I'm a little bit worried because I forgot to bring a jacket to campus today, and it's starting to cloud up. I have to teach 3:30-5:30, so I'm hoping it doesn't cool off too much before I head home.

Watching: Uh...not much, actually. I did watch the season finale of The Blacklist yesterday, and really liked it. I'm glad that show got renewed for next year. I think it's good. I'm kind of a dope for James Spader, though, so YMMV.

Planning: I have a meeting tomorrow, so I have to be on campus in the afternoon. No real plans for after that. Saturday I'm going to the U-District Street Fair. Saturday night I'm going solo to the Seattle Pro Musica performance of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem. Looking forward to that! It's at St. James' Cathedral downtown.

Knitting: I've been working on a self-designed pullover in a color that is highly unusual for me. It's like a purple-y fuchsia color. Way closer to pink than I usually (like...ever) wear.

Other: My running has been going really well lately. I ran my first 5k in a long time last weekend, and I had a great run this morning.
Tags:

Trouble...

May. 11th, 2014 11:05 am
arguchik: (frustration)
Having trouble getting started today.

There are several things that I want and need to do:

  1. Sort, organize, and otherwise Deal With all of the papers I have stacked here and there.

  2. Do my laundry.

  3. Clean my room (vacuum, etc.)

  4. Bring a semblance of order to the downstairs library/office/sitting room.

  5. Grade and comment on (brief comments only!) a set of assignments for my Discovery Core class.

  6. Go get my mail and a couple of grocery items (same trip--involves a quick-ish walk

  7. "Cook and eat dinner.

  8. Read for class tomorrow.

Hey, look at that. I made a real to-do list! The items are not arranged in order of urgency. Is that a problem? I'm not sure how hard/easy it would be to prioritize...

Notice what is not on the list: watching Friday's episode of Grimm. Whoa. Did I just come up a possible thing to use as a reward for accomplishing the items on my to-do list?

Seriously, did I? I am not being facetious. I have never quite figured out how to do to-do lists. I wonder if this will really make today go better than I thought...

ETA: I just added a new item to the plan: I am going to come back here and cross each item off the list as I complete it .

ETA2: I am about to take care of #8. #5 I will do in the morning. #4 will have to wait until later this week. Not bad!

Pomo-momo

May. 5th, 2014 09:37 am
arguchik: (cool spock)
I have been using the Pomodoro Technique to help me manage my time better. It works for me for a couple of reasons (ETA: okay, I ended up with four reasons, LOL):

  1. It is very simple and straightforward. I find complicated planner systems so cumbersome to use, I typically lose interest in them after a week or two. Sometimes I lose interest while I'm still learning a system, before I even start using it, because I just know that I won't be able to keep track of all the moving parts.

  2. It "lowers the bar" to starting a lengthy and/or tedious project. The big example for me is grading. I actually quite enjoy reading student work, so my reluctance to start grading has always been somewhat baffling to me. I finally realized, embarrassingly recently, that I feel reluctant because I never know how long it will take for me to finish grading a set of papers. Having ADHD means that sometimes it takes me 3 hours to grade, say, twenty 3-page papers; and sometimes it takes me 10 hours. I am not exaggerating. It feels a lot different to say, "I am going to grade this set of papers for 3 pomodoros" vs. "I am going to grade this entire set of papers." In other words, the technique makes it OK for me to do part of the project, rather than feeling like I have to finish the entire thing in one go. (This is probably intuitively obvious to most people, but having ADHD also means that I approach every project with the nagging worry that I am going to fail to complete it.)

  3. It helps me to keep track--on a micro level--of how efficiently I'm working. Each pomodoro is 25 minutes, followed by a brief assessment of what I accomplished during that pomodoro, and then a 5 minute break. (They recommend throwing in a longer break, like 15 minutes, after each set of 4 pomodoros.)

  4. The breaks! I have to be careful to do something completely different during the breaks--switching from grading (which I do via a web interface) to surfing the 'net does not work!

To further streamline the whole thing, I use the mytomatoes.com timer/tracker website. This works great for me because, again, it is really streamlined. There is nothing on the timer page except my timer, a little preferences tab, and a running column of notes from all of my previously completed pomodoros.

I wholeheartedly recommend the technique. It is not only helping me to stay caught up on my grading, it has also been the single most influential factor in helping me to get un-stuck in my dissertation writing. It helps me focus on taking the individual steps, rather than getting overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of the whole project. Maybe it will help you...if you struggle with this too.

I'm Back...

May. 3rd, 2014 10:25 pm
arguchik: (susie derkins)
For real this time, I hope.

Things have been happening this year, like whoa.

I moved. I've been teaching full-time. My car got totaled.

Now my heart is waking up.

There's something about being in a not-quite-happy but not-quite-unhappy relationship with someone I love and really wish I could stay with but know that I can't, that makes my heart go quiet. It's self-protective. It's not a good thing.

Now it feels like blood seeping into a numb limb. Pins and needles.

It's not a bad thing, even though it's a sad thing. It's a painful thing. It's also a beautiful thing.

Blocks are digital, for me. I suspect for everyone. On or off. When I block what I don't want to feel, know, or admit out loud, nothing else gets in or out either.

I think many of us wish, at some point, that we could selectively filter our lives. Keep the happy and fun, toss the angry and sad, buckle down, straighten up, fly right, be true, et voilà: A Good Life, Well Lived.

It's how the story is supposed to go. Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

Don't mess with Mr. In-between.

As if that were a real choice. Possible. Desirable.

Bullshit.

It's all or nothing. Mr. In-between is the only one there is.

Books

Jan. 20th, 2014 01:19 am
arguchik: (gossamer)
So I got a Kindle Touch awhile back, and recently replaced it with a Paperwhite. One of the things I've been using it for is to collect books about ADHD.

A lot of the books I've looked at are pretty general. Some of them are strictly focused on childhood ADHD, which is a) not terribly relevant to me (that horse is obviously way out of the barn, at this point) and b) actually kind of dangerous to me, because it leads right down the "what if...?" rabbit hole. Anyway, I recognized right off that I shouldn't buy those books. Bullet dodged, yay me. I've picked up a few that focus on adult ADHD. These have been interesting and informative, but with not quite enough anecdata for me to sink my teeth into. I like individualized stories. It's just easier for me to understand what the book is trying to say, if there are concrete examples and actual people reporting what things are like for them. Overall, though, I've been struck by a lack of books about adult women with ADHD. There are a few, but none that seemed compelling to me, either because they were too abstract, or were written from and for the POV of clinicians treating clients with ADHD. What I really wanted was a "survival guide" written by an actual woman with ADHD.

Well, I recently found this book: ADHD According to Zoë, by Zoë Kessler, which I've just started reading. I'm not sure when I actually found and bought the book; I was just going through my Kindle library this evening and found it in there.

Anyway, Kessler was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult--and not a young adult, either. She was 47 when she was diagnosed. She wrote this memoir to fill the exact void that I was feeling frustrated by--and so far it looks like exactly what I wanted. I'll report back when I've read more of it.

Changes

Jan. 12th, 2014 02:36 pm
arguchik: (susie derkins)
I'm a little bit late with this entry. A lot has been happening over the last couple of weeks.

As you know, if you're Facebook friends with me and/or [livejournal.com profile] glaucon, CM and I have decided to break up after 8 years together. I'm not going to get into our reasons or any of the stuff that we included in our announcement. Instead, I want to focus on how things have unfolded since we made the decision (which was about a week before we made the announcement).

It's relevant that I went through a divorce in 1999-2000. My ex-husband and I met when we were at Michigan State--he was 21, I had just turned 22. We were together for about 10 years altogether, of which we were married for the last ~4.5 years. This is relevant because what I'm experiencing now echoes that experience. The echo makes sense, because this is the longest relationship I've had, post-divorce. In fact, the only longer relationship I've had in my life was with my ex-husband. But this also feels distinctly different.

The similarities are pretty straightforward. The impending loss brings with it a sense of curiosity about the new door that's opening: what lies ahead, what new challenges will come, what I'll discover about the world and myself, how it'll go, etc. At the same time, I keep feeling this deep nausea, like a punch in the stomach combined with vertigo. It comes as I realize the implications of that new door opening, i.e. the loss that's coming. Even though CM and I bear each other no hard feelings, and fully intend to continue being close friends, pretty soon we will no longer be part of each others' daily lives. The thought of this makes me feel bone sad and frightened. Sick. We're both quite certain that we're doing the right thing. But it's one thing to plan the series of changes that we have to make; it's a whole other thing to actually carry out those changes. The days unfold, we do the individual tasks, and the changes accumulate. It feels too fast.

That stomach feeling hits me at odd times--and by "odd" I mean unexpected, not strange (though it's that, too). A friend went with me to Ikea so I could shop for a bed frame to go with the new mattress I had purchased a few days earlier. In the middle of the showroom, I felt sick. I just wanted to sit down, as if by sitting still I could stop time for a little while, buy some time to adjust to what was happening. Or right now: I'm sitting here in the living room of the place I still share with C, and our stuff is all still in place--his here, mine there. Our individual stamps on the space that added up to "us" and "ours." And I'm suddenly aware of the ongoing, moment-by-moment mental work of separating. It's not one action and motion, it's a series of micro-actions and micro-motions. It's not done yet, but suddenly one day it will be. The day when it hits me. That will probably be on moving day, but it's hard to predict. With my ex-husband it happened about a month after I moved out of the house we had shared. I was driving home, followed by my brother in his car, from Detroit, MI to Burlington, VT. I got off the highway at the wrong exit, the one that led to the house where I no longer lived. I had no choice but to go past the turn, and suddenly there grief was, bearing down on me like a fully loaded freight train. (I know that's a pretty tired cliché, but with good reason. It's apt.)

CM and I were originally planning to move out of our current place at the end of February, but I went house-hunting with a friend on Thursday evening and Friday morning and as luck would have it: we found a place. We weren't even sure that we really wanted to move in together (I may decide to explain my reservations in a separate post--but for now, here's another cliché: it's about me, not her), but the place was pretty much perfect so we jumped on it. We put down a deposit and signed a lease that afternoon. Two days ago. It doesn't seem real yet. The only down side is that we had to agree to take possession on 2/1, thus pay rent for the full month of February. I'm sure it's obvious why that isn't ideal, financially. Logistically it's a wash. I'll have a full month to move, which is nice, but I don't actually need that much time. It'll be pretty simple and straightforward to pack up my stuff. (I'm thinking of hiring movers; I'll definitely rent a truck, and will probably be able to get it all moved in one trip.)

It's the personal, emotional dimension that really sucks, though. I already feel like it's happening too fast, too precipitously. As I've gotten older, I've learned the wisdom of making big changes mindfully, thoughtfully, gently, whenever possible. I'm a lot less sanguine about taking the "rip off the Band-Aid" approach. It has its place, but it makes it hard to be kind to myself and to anyone else who's affected by the changes I'm making.

And that hints at the ways in which this breakup differs markedly from my divorce. I know about loss and grief now, in ways that I didn't, back then. Since my divorce, I've experienced a few other losses. I moved across the country (literally!), left behind all of my Vermont friends and made it much harder ($$$) to travel for visits with family and friends in Michigan. Both of my parents have died, along with a very close friend I'd known since the 6th grade. I've lost a few different friendships that I valued quite a lot--not through death (my god!), but chosen loss is still hard to adjust to. Each of these losses brought different sizes and shapes of grief.

Grief hurts. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to change that even if I could. I've always held that grief is the flip side of love and respect, the heart's way of honoring the loss of someone dear. You might say that love and grief exert complementary shaping forces on our emotional geology: volcanic heat making new ground vs. wind and water eroding it away. You have to accept the possibility/inevitability of grief in order to fully experience love and connection with others. And you have to fully experience grief in order to heal from the loss of a loved one, whatever form that loss takes (i.e. death or choice).

But grief leaves scars. It just does. It is not a toy to be played with frivolously. Of course, nobody gets through life without scars (at least not if you actually do and experience anything). One hopes that scars carry and represent strength and wisdom. Hence the saying, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." But each new experience of grief is its own thing. The outcome is neither assured nor pre-determined. It might make you stronger, but it might not. Of course you have some measure of agency, some degree of choice. You can choose to feel it, or not; to approach the pain as an opportunity for self-reflection, or not. It's a choice between pain and numbness, though. There's not really a "good" option, if by "good" you mean pleasurable, happy. In my experience, numbing the pain also closes off pleasure and happiness, though, so the smart money is on pain.

But even that doesn't come with a guarantee. There's no way to predict how long the grief process will last, or what shape you'll be in when you come out the other side. I guess that's one way that this time feels different to me. I'm different. I know things I didn't used to know. I know that there are choices I can make to help me get through this as healthily as possible. But I also know that "as healthy as possible" doesn't necessarily mean "healthy." However, barring unforeseeable lethal events, I will come out the other side of it. I know that now, too, like I didn't before.

Clichés abound. The only way out is through.

P.S. I'm taking a bit of a risk and making these 2014 entries public. I hope I don't regret that choice for personal, introspective posts like this. If you have any advice about that, please leave it in the comments.

Rising to it

Dec. 30th, 2013 10:39 am
arguchik: (deptford pink)
OK, [livejournal.com profile] boutell, I'm rising to your challenge and will make a point of posting here at least once per week during 2014. Perhaps beyond, we'll see.

It's fitting, because 2014 will be a year of big changes for me. Why not chronicle the journey?

As of now, my plan is to make my entries public. I may end up friends-locking some of them.

I need to remember how to use this platform...

(no subject)

May. 31st, 2010 03:25 pm
arguchik: (Default)
I despair of ever making good use of this platform again. I say "despair" because it's not that this platform is bad, or has nothing further to recommend it to me, but rather because I have simply slipped into Facebook-default mode. Posting to Facebook is easier. I don't have to write as much. Keeping up with my friends on Facebook is also easier, because they don't write as much. That platform has stolen my attention away from this one--I haven't been here for months, haven't caught up on my F-list for months.

I say "despair" because I like writing and reading long. It gives thought and emotion room to breathe, to grow, to come into full expression. I say "despair" because I am resistant to the sound-bite-ification of culture, and yet here I am participating in it, contributing to it, falling for it. I say "despair" because writing and reading long are activities that feed me, feed my soul, make me feel more human and alive.

All I need to do is to budget time for this, and also for my analog journal, and then commit to that version of my time budget. So why don't I?

I don't know. I say "despair," because how can I know?

Voices

Dec. 27th, 2009 04:55 pm
arguchik: (Default)
Sometimes it seems to me as if my life has been--and probably will continue to be--a series of adventures in losing and finding my own voice. Voices. I know from looking back at my writing from past periods when I felt in touch with my voice, that the voice with which I spoke and wrote then is not the same voice with which I write and speak now. Past voices, such as I can connect with them now, anyway, through a backward-looking lens tinged with either rose or blue or green or purple filters despite my best intentions toward objectivity--though I still recognize a continuity that I mean when I say "myself," they seem a little strange to me now, alien. I feel a little baffled whenever I contemplate this phenomenon, but it also makes sense, and it makes sense that I would feel baffled by it despite it making sense.

I'm not sure I can explain. Hidden for length )

Mundanity

Dec. 6th, 2009 01:31 pm
arguchik: (Default)
Had a good weekend. I know, it's not over yet, but still. Friday night I went out for karaoke at Bush Garden, to help a friend and colleague celebrate her newly minted divorce. Yesterday I went back to the ID for dim-sum at Jade Garden with Chris, Le'a, and Patrice. It was delicious, as usual.

Today has been lazy so far. I slept in, had toast, OJ, and tea for breakfast, and did some internet puttering while eating and savoring my tea. Not doing much, just poking here and peering there to see what's what at my usual online haunts. Those are Facebook (sorry), here, Ravelry, MSNBC, the NY Times, and various knit blogs. Also Yahoo, which is my main email site, and which also gives me a daily horoscope, movie times, and current travel prices for my pet destinations. I don't usually think to read my horoscope, but here's what it says for today:

You get a welcome breather from the nonstop action today. You don't know whether you're coming or going, but that's not the least of it. You see the best and worst sides of the people in your life, adding to your confusion about what to do. Following an impulse saves the day, although a more confusing issue remains obscured. It might be best to avoid making any major decision until this fog lifts.

That seems about right. Right now I can supposedly get a ticket to Detroit for just over $230. (I don't believe it...I have clicked through on these before, and found a very different story being told there.)

This week has been pretty crappy for running. I have been feeling very run-down and brain dead for the last...about 9 days (some of you know why)...and haven't run since Thanksgiving day. We'll see about today. Perhaps I will be moved to end this less-than-ideal streak.

What else? Not a lot. I'm mainly writing this to grease my typing joints, to get the brain fluids moving a little bit, and to keep myself from navigating to the Hulu page. I have work to do. I don't have time to watch some crap on Hulu. (In my defense, I don't just sit there and watch; I knit; Hulu is just for background noise. Sometimes I listen to podcasts--particularly This American Life, the Doubleknit Podcast, and the Galactic Watercooler podcast.)

Speaking of knitting, I am working on several projects right now. I started a sweater project for a friend--that's temporarily on hold while I test out the yarn, my technique, and my colorwork charts on a "swatch cap." A swatch cap is basically a gauge swatch (something sweater knitters always make, if they know what's good for them) for knitting in the round, only it 1. uses more yarn; and 2. results in a usable item rather than a useless square that will sit in a drawer forever, attracting moths. So, despite #1, #2 makes the knitting of swatch caps a worthwhile endeavor. I decided to knit this one because the hem ribbing and first couple inches of the actual sweater body (what I've knit so far) show a tendency to "torque" (i.e. to twist, or spiral). My expectation--or at least my hope--is that this will block out. However, I don't want to knit a whole sweater and then discover that it doesn't block out. Better to find out on a hat, and then to amend my technique in some way if necessary, rather than to rip out and re-knit a whole sweater's worth of stitches.

OK, that's probably enough mundane, boring stuff for now. I hope everyone out there is having a nice winter, and a stress-free holiday season.

And now it's to work with me. I have a few papers to grade, and some reading to do.
I just finished a huge cleaning/rearranging/purging/organizing stint. I cleaned and rearranged my bedroom. I moved all of my critical theory books to the basement where my workspace is. I got rid of many boxes' worth of old clothes, shoes, costumes, etc. I got rid of a box of books, plus there's a big bag of books that I'm going to return to the UW library. I hung a mirror in my room, hung a swath of cloth over the top of my window. Everything is organized, put away, dust-free, and looking good.

I feel like I have scraped a bunch of barnacles off my keel. I should feel like I can steer better now, like the improved aerodynamics (should I say "aquadynamics," or "hydrodynamics" since this is a boat metaphor?) will allow me to cut through the water better.

I do feel better. I feel more streamlined. I feel accomplished and capable. I feel a renewed sense of purpose. All that is good. But yesterday and today I have also been feeling just...drained of energy, yet oddly restless. Like I need a big nap but whenever I try to settle down for one my mind moves around on its own, jumping from this to that and keeping me awake. I can't stay put.

I want something. I'm not sure what yet, whether it's something more or something else that I want, or what. Maybe it's something less. I just feel like something is missing.

Music sharpens the feeling. It doesn't amplify it--to some extent, it attenuates it, reduces some of the noise, keeps my sensors from being overwhelmed by the signal so that I can suss out the subtleties and the contours. It's not just a solid, loud buzzing or roaring. It has a shape, a melody and harmonies. It plays along my skin and my tendons. It is a blanket. It is sips of cool water on my dry throat. It is a silk chemise. It is a bead of sweat running down my neck. It is the glasses on my nose and the book in my hand.

Screw It

Nov. 19th, 2009 12:32 pm
arguchik: (Default)
I'm just going to indulge my negative self-talk, get it out here where maybe I'll be able to see it properly, and maybe deconstruct it or at least find some way around or through it to an "other side" that must be better than where I am. Somehow. It must. Be. Better. I'm starting to feel a gut deep panic that I am never going to finish my dissertation, that I will spend the rest of my life looking back on this as a fool's errand, a waste of time, money, effort, and emotional energy. That in itself is bad enough, but along with it I feel like I'll never be able to start up a different career, either; that I'll end up stuck in dead-end, low-paying jobs doing work that starves my brain--and I'm just vain enough to think that I deserve better (HA, "deserve"). It's not the money that really bothers me, though I am sick of living like a fucking graduate student, for fuck's sake. I'm sick of being a graduate student. I feel like an idiot, a slacker, a failure, a poser, an object of well-deserved ridicule and derision, unworthy of being taken seriously as a friend or a colleague, and I'm tired of feeling this way.

At the same time, I wonder why in the hell I rejected my father's approach to life. He had his day job, which was "just a job" to him. It ended up resembling a career, but only because he stayed at the same job for the vast majority of his adult, working life. He did not grow up in a time, place, or class that fostered a need to "love," to feel "called," or even to enjoy the work he did for money. It was always just a paycheck to him, a way to stay fed and clothed, and to feed and clothe his family--in short, a means to the end of security, and he was FINE with that. At the same time, because he stayed at the same job for so long, he got raises, he saved scrupulously toward retirement, and he was also able to afford his hobbies, i.e. his real career, which was entirely separate from his job. He always said that he didn't want to do the things that he loved doing, for money--that getting paid for, say, his woodworking, would take all of the fun out of it. There is something to that. I feel that way about knitting--I am extremely wary of people who urge me to knit on commission. I don't want to turn myself into a knitwear production machine--I enjoy knitting precisely because it is agenda-less; I don't have to knit anything I don't want to knit. Why are we so eager to turn our beloved activities, whatever they are, into wage slavery? Probably because doing work that's meaningful or fun makes wage slavery feel like something else, something other than what it is. And maybe that's not a good thing: just so much mystification and reification, and our direct complicity in that. At the same time, I would much rather spend my working life--since it is also the majority of my waking life--doing something that doesn't suck, that gives me something beyond wages, so there's that. It's a paradox I can't really resolve: in order to critique mystifying, reifying cultural practices, I have to work through structures that require me to avoid demystifying them.

Ahem. Where was I?

As a kid, all I saw was my dad's lack of ambition. I didn't understand, then, that he came from a socioeconomic class that was far lower than the one he enjoyed as an adult--and it's not that we were well off, or anything. But my father experienced real hunger as a child; real poverty and the social stigma and persecution that went with it, of a kind that I can only imagine--thanks largely to his efforts. Someone who grows up through something like that...sure, we all know the fairytale about the billionaire who came from humble beginnings and clawed his way to wealth, or whatever; but I think stories like my dad's are far more common. He made his way upward in the class structure, sure, but he remained acutely aware of how fucking easy it is to lose everything--because he was old enough to actually remember the Great Depression, having come of age in the thick of it. His focus was not on climbing further, flying higher, but rather on building a fortress for himself and his family, a foundation and 4 secure walls to ward off the constant threat of loss and desperation.

So in addition to feeling all manner of crappy described above, I also feel like...well, frankly, like I should have listened to my father, followed his example. What is this "something" we are all encouraged to want to "make" of ourselves, anyway? Why do we feel so compelled to do that through capitalist frames and structures? But I can't seem to move past it. I want it, despite wishing I didn't and feeling like I don't have what it takes. I turn to things that give me a quick fix of feel-good: TV and movies, because they pull me into a narrative that's going somewhere, unlike my own; knitting projects that test and stretch my skills; spinning my wheels on the internets. These are all leading me nowhere (except knitting, which gives me a real sense of accomplishment, albeit not the accomplishment of finishing my dissertation, which is what I'm really hungry for--in that sense, it is often mainly a diversion), and in their aggregate ultimately make me feel worse about my life and my choices. I don't drink to excess, I don't do drugs, I don't overeat...but all this stuff has a narcotic effect on me just the same, pacifying me and distracting me, however fleetingly, from feeling this emptiness and longing--and thereby sparing me from actually doing anything about it. And there's that voice hammering against the inside of my forehead, "I should know better; I have been down this road to nowhere before, and the only way I got off it back then was by crashing my "car" into a "tree" and chopping my way through the thick underbrush until I came to my current path." And that's the problem: what I call my "current path" really isn't, anymore. I left it a couple of years ago, and since then I've been standing next to my broken down car on this fucking main highway, my hazard lights flashing as I wait for some kind of roadside assistance that isn't forthcoming and probably doesn't exist, because I somehow can't comprehend, can't believe, that I have to go hacking through the forest again. (So it comes back around to egotism again...shame and guilt are twisted like that, I guess.) And yet, in truth I don't know why I feel any reluctance about diving back into the proverbial forest. The time I spent doing that, before, was perhaps the best time of my life. I felt alive and fulfilled. You'll probably think I'm romanticizing it--and of course I am, to an extent, because how does one not?--but I have pages and pages of handwritten journal entries to bolster my claim that, even when things were difficult and I was prostrate with grief, or whatever, I loved every minute of my life, and I was perfectly content to focus on the individual steps rather than worrying that they might not lead me to a place I wanted to go. I did not doubt myself because I loved what I was doing. Every day was an adventure, and I felt free. Now I just feel thick and slow, earthbound, static, MEH.

Huh

Nov. 19th, 2009 12:11 am
arguchik: (Default)
I seem to have fallen out of the LJ habit. I haven't been here for months. Haven't posted anything, haven't read anything, haven't haven't haven't. Coming here just now, I had to log in and I was worried I wouldn't remember my password.

I think I really need to write, but I can't seem to. I've been posting (somewhat sporadically) to my knitting blog, but I keep that one focused on knitting. This venue seems like a good one, but I feel stuck between wanting to just lay myself out naked on the subway platform at rush hour, and worrying that it's all just gratuitous self-indulgent bullshit so why bother putting it down.

I'm all discombobulated. I don't know whether I'm coming or going. My head feels thick. My fingertips are going numb and my knees are twitchy and my jaw muscles ache and I have a bad taste in my mouth.
I just wanted to show up here to say: I ran my first confirmed 4-miler today. I suspect I may have run at least one, and possibly two, 4-milers while in Portland, but I'm not sure. The Nike running trail is 1.96 miles long, and I ran two laps plus a little bit, both times I used it. BUT...it is also confusing because there is more to the Nike trail than just the big loop: there are crosslinks, little side trails that seem to cut across something approximating the middle. I can't say for sure because there are no signs and no maps. Also, I wasn't wearing a watch. So maybe I ran 3 miles, maybe 4. I'm not sure. But today it was definitely at least 4 miles, and maybe more like 4.1 miles. More importantly, it was an awesome run. Perfect day for it: cool, overcast, and a little bit misty but not full-on rain.

I've been meaning to post about the urban hike/epic walk I took on Saturday. I left home at around lunchtime, maybe 1pm, and stopped at the PCC for some lunchy foodz. I hiked to upper Queen Anne via this super steep hill directly across from the Fremont Bridge. While up there, I bought buttons at Nancy's Sewing Basket, and poked around a couple of sidewalk sale tables. I hooked over to the beautiful park that overlooks the city and enjoyed my lunch while sitting on the steps, admiring the view, and mildly admonishing myself for having forgotten my camera. Then I walked down the steps and zig-zagged my way into and through lower Queen Anne, crossed Denny onto 1st Ave, and walked through Belltown. Eventually I went down to Western to see if I could locate So Much Yarn, a yarn shop that recently moved to that area from its former location on 1st Ave. Turns out it's in a secure office complex upstairs from Cost Plus. I bought more buttons, fondled many beautiful skeins of yarn, played with the two French bulldogs who belong to the store owner (I'm assuming), and shot the breeze with her and the other salesperson. From there I headed into the Pike Place Market and poked around a few stalls before becoming overwhelmed by the crush of dazed tourist bodies and finally realizing that that wasn't the right place for me to be on a Saturday. LOL. So I went up into the shopping district and meandered around for a bit; tried on some shoes (didn't buy any). Next I walked up Pike into Capitol Hill. By the time I crossed the 5 and Boren Ave. I was pretty thirsty, so I stopped into the new Victrola and got a nice blackberry Italian soda. I sat on their couch and enjoyed that for a bit while playing around with some knitting. Then I headed up to Broadway, bought some band-aids for the big blister I could feel forming on the top of my big toe (I was wearing sandals). By then I was starving, so I walked north on Broadway and got some Ethiopian food for dinner. After completely gorging myself on a vege combo, I headed north again, up Broadway, down 10th Ave. to Roanoke, through the little park, along side streets until I had to join up with Harvard Ave, across the University Bridge, up the Burke-Gilman for a little bit, then up to 40th St., over to the Aurora Ave. footbridge at 41st St., and home. I got home at about 9:30pm, and I was completely spent. I showered and went straight to bed, where I read myself to sleep.

Both of these "exercise experiences" contributed to a growing thing within me: a connection to myself, my own voice, and my place in the world that has eluded me for a few years. I hadn't exactly lost touch with this thing (to me, the list of 3 things are all aspects of the same thing, rather than separate things), it was more that...I didn't like the self I had become. I felt lost and aimless and stuck, along with a sense of despair about ever being able to "move" myself or accomplish anything in the world again. I believed that "my time" (whatever that means) had come and gone, and that the best I could hope for anymore was simply to make do, get by. It sounds pretty pathetic--and it's important to point out that these weren't the only things I felt; they were mixed with happiness and appreciation for various good things in my life. The point is that I hadn't completely lost touch with myself and my feelings, it's just that I didn't like myself, and I was feeling negative things. So being in touch with that was not affirming or energizing; it was depressing, even though it was honest. That is what I was feeling, how I saw myself and my prospects, and I think it was important to be in touch with that even though it was also depressing and discouraging. I'm just glad that I'm shifting away from that now, and that I have gotten to the point where...it no longer predominates. I feel good. Happy. Strong. Capable. Interested in things. Thankful for my life and my loved ones.
Haven't been here for awhile. No real reason why, just that I've been doing more "taking in" than "giving out" lately. Also I've been out of town on weekends and working on my dissertation on weekdays. This weekend I'm staying home while [livejournal.com profile] glaucon heads down to the Oregon Country Fair. I was going to go, but a) really can't afford it; and b) I would like to make use of a full weekend at home to put my things in order, get a little extra writing done on the diss, and spend some quality time with myself, doing things I really want to do. I plan to do a big long city hike of some sort tomorrow (Saturday), and on Sunday I'll be staying closer to home to catch up on laundry, put away the random stacks of books on my bookshelves, and generally tidy up my room and my life. Next weekend [livejournal.com profile] glaucon's sister, little brother, and sister's boyfriend will be in town for a visit. Then on Tuesday the 21st, I leave for 2 weeks in Michigan. My siblings and I are doing some sprucing up work on our parents' house, to get it ready to go on the market. Great time for that, eh? While in Michigan, I'll also be spending a day or two out at the cottage my sisters rent every summer: it's right on Lake Michigan. I might also be going to a high school reunion...but I still have some trepidations about that.

My running has been going really, really well. My legs feel great: strong and resilient. While in Portland for the 4th, the friends with whom we were staying pointed me toward the Nike corporate headquarters' running track, which is conveniently located across the street from their house. It's a nearly 2-mile woodchip-covered trail that circumnavigates the compound. A very nice running experience, save for the creepy statues that loom in the shadows. Once I figured out that they were inanimate objects, there for my edification, rather than stalkers standing off alongside the trail, I was relatively OK with them. My point is that I had the opportunity to keep up my running routine while out of town--and more importantly, that I availed myself of that opportunity. I got up somewhat early (8am--not too early) and ran both Saturday and Sunday. I've kept to my routine this week as well. The last few weeks have been a little test of my commitment, because I've just been running without a clear plan beyond simply maintaining mileage. I was initially planning to do this for 2 weeks, but I stretched it into 4 weeks. Despite feeling really good, I'm also being cautious. I'm afraid of getting sidelined with an injury again. Of course, I haven't completely abided by my "maintain mileage" agenda: I've been finding little ways to "sneak" extra challenges into my runs. On Tuesday I threw in a weird course change that added about 6 blocks to my usual "bread-n-butter" route, and also took me through some residential areas I've never really seen before, which was cool. Yesterday I did about the same thing, in a different direction, and ended up running about 4 extra blocks, 2 of which consisted of a killer uphill climb. My legs are actually a little achy today from that--LOL. On Sunday I'll jump headlong into the "challenge myself" pool by starting the marathontraining.com Mileage Build-Up Plan. Wish me luck!

Now...back to the book.
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w00t!

Jun. 15th, 2009 10:22 am
arguchik: (running)
I finished my 10-week "get off your butt and run" plan today! I'm very proud of myself for sticking with the plan and not trying to jump over the beginning and intermediate steps. My legs feel strong, resilient, and flexible! As is usually the case with me, my spirit/soul/psyche (whatever you want to call it) is following suit. I actually really like how interconnected my experiences of mind and body are. Sometimes it's a pain...like when I have pressing deadlines and try to make space in my schedule by skipping a couple of runs...which alwaysalwaysalways backfires. But mostly I think of this as one of my strengths.

Next up: 1 more week of running ~3 miles X4. (I'm actually running closer to 3.3 miles.) Then I'll increase my Sunday run to 4 miles (which conforms to the 10% rule) and do that for 2 weeks, then I'll start this 20-week mileage buildup plan. If all goes well with that, I will then start an actual marathon training plan.

Probably. Maybe. We'll see. I may decide that I don't want to run another marathon. I had a lot of fun running the first one, but I'm not big on the road racing. I've run a few, and the marathon was really the only one I really loved doing. My main goal right now is just to get myself up to running 25-30 miles per week--without getting injured!!!--which the above-linked mileage buildup plan hopefully will do. In my experience, that level of mileage is optimal for me, in terms of how I feel. Or...it was, 4-5 years ago. "Optimal" is obviously a variable, not a set point. So yeah, we'll see. It will be interesting to find out.
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RWPKR

Jun. 9th, 2009 09:50 am
arguchik: (Default)
READING: Just started The Accord by Keith Brooke. I'm only about 5 pages in, so I haven't formulated an opinion about it yet. I recently finished reading his Genetopia, during the Philly trip. I really enjoyed that, although the last 50 pages or so seemed somewhat rushed--disjointed and kind of mashed together. I continue to work on The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen--I like it, it's just really dense, and I can't read a ton of it in one sitting.

WATCHING: Nothing new, really. We continue to plug away at TNG--we're a couple of discs into season 4 at this point. We just met Alexander. I've been watching back episodes of House here and there, mainly over breakfast. I have a very deep fondness for medical procedurals, particularly ones that are all about solving the puzzle...whether it's a pathologist or forensic specialist trying to solve a murder (like Quincy or Bones) or something more like House, with a doctor trying to figure out what the patient has. Maybe my love for this genre is related to my one-in-a-million appendix, I don't know. No. Can't be that. I've loved this kind of stuff for a long time, since I was a punk ass kid. I think I just like shows in which a puzzle needs to be worked out, because I also love police procedurals (the really good ones).

PLANNING: Between now and Monday I'll be dealing with end-of-quarter stuff. Next week is the CUSP retreat (CUSP is the program through which I teach at UW-Bothell). Sometime in July I'll be going to Michigan to do some work on my parents' house, and of course to visit my family and hopefully a couple of friends.

KNITTING: I started knitting Cassidy by Chic Knits (Bonne Marie Burns) during the Philly trip. It's a hoodie knit in pieces, which I figured (correctly, it turns out) would be nice and portable for all that airplane nonsense. I finished the first sleeve and most of the second sleeve during the trip. The 2nd sleeve is now done, and I'm about halfway done with the back. I also finished a sweater of my own devising (with a little help from Elizabeth Zimmerman for the basic plan) for [livejournal.com profile] glaucon. I call it "Viridis". Here's a link to my knitting blog entry about both of these projects.

RUNNING: I had a 2-day glitch last week, due to travel and the ensuing fatigue, so I just completed week 9 of the First Steps plan this morning. (Normally I finish the running week on Saturday.) I'll start week 10 tomorrow, I think. I plan to repeat week 10 a time or two after the first time. In other words, I plan to spend 2-3 weeks running 12 miles per week before moving on to the next training plan, the one that will gradually (over 20 weeks) increase my mileage to the point where I can reasonably begin training for a marathon. The running feels really good. Sunday's run was a little bit of a slog, but today I totally shredded, man. My self-confidence and overall mood are definitely showing improvement--I still have occasional anxiety spikes, but nothing like what I was dealing with in 2006 and especially 2007. I hope I never experience that degree of anxiety again.
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Someone unearthed a urine-filled "witch bottle," circa 17th C. The bottle also contains nail clippings, pins, and hair. Oh and yes, the urine is human, apparently. It was all sealed up inside of this bottle and buried upside down.

I'm completely intrigued. I love reading about the different ways in which people try to make sense of, and to control, their lives, environments, and interactions with others.

Link to the story, complete with X-ray image.
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