My Week in Review: January 8-14

It seems like so many things have gone wrong in my quest for absolute, unassailable perfection. After a long holiday and a weird start to the quarter (I don’t know why they had to start it on a Wednesday this time but it threw everything out of whack), my sleep/wake schedule is on the way to returning to normal. I think I’ll have it under control in a day or two, which two weeks into the new year probably isn’t terrible is pretty good if I do say so myself.

The new washer arrived on Tuesday and is about two inches taller than the dryer, and as you can imagine that doesn’t bother me at all. Nope. Nuh-uh. I’m totally fine with it. Work on the laundry room itself had to stop because I needed to do a lot of actual laundry, and then had a busy weekend. In the meantime, Shaun patched a hole in the ceiling that he may or may not have created himself. I’m trying to figure the order of operations for completing the painting but it’s making my brain hurt. Ceiling. Shuffle machines. Finish primer. Shuffle machines. Paint. Shuffle machines. Paint again. Shuffle machines. Door jambs and second coat on cabinet. Something like that.

Pretty new washer. It’s TOTALLY FINE that it’s taller than the dryer.

Friday was taken up with a meeting that may wind up being lucrative for me but will also mean more work, as well as a “short” trip to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. I’ve read that despite all the conversation and focus on nutrition and eating, not that many people are cooking from scratch at home, and that’s no mystery. Food takes forever. It eats up (ha!) so much time between cooking and cleaning that it’s no wonder I spend all my free-time obsessing over it. All I really want it to eat really healthy food that’s really tasty and takes no time to prepare. Is that really so much to ask?

On Saturday, our friends came to visit so that we could see the musical, Elephant and Piggie: We Are in a Play” at a local production company. The girls loved it and it was very cute. Knowing the books as well as I do allowed me to see the clever ways they weaved some of the stories together to make the plays, but also left me feeling that familiar refrain, “the book was better.”

Meeting “Elephant” and “Piggie”

Sunday left me reflecting on food, thinking that the plan I had to eat an anti-inflammatory diet may have been too broad to be successful. I’ve started thinking of reducing or going gluten-free, at least temporarily, as a stepping stone on the whole foods journey. In general, I feel like I have been eating less and more mindfully, and that’s as good a place as any to start.

Today began with a trip to Trader Joe’s with Sonja. I took her there on a whim several months ago so I could get whatever health food it was I thought I couldn’t live without at that time, and she fell in love with it. They have kid-sized shopping carts and I let her pick out her own groceries (within reason), and by golly if that isn’t better than a trip to the amusement park. There are a few items there that I have come to really love, but for as far away as it is, with its limited and changing selection, I probably wouldn’t go as much if it wasn’t the only grocery store Sonja will go to willingly.

An Ode to Trader Joe’s in marker.

And now this day is over and I must somehow tear myself away from the agony of menu planning, and the gluttony of looking at laundry rooms on pinterest, to concentrate on the work I actually get paid to do, before turning my attentions to the laundry room this weekend.

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My More Appliance Woes

I promised in my resolutions to institute plots and plans and projects and update you on them. The current plot, to eat no added sugar and follow an anti-inflammatory diet, is not going well. But rather than admit defeat in all its glorious detail, I had a more interesting project that took up space in my brain that I wanted to expound upon.

Listen, I’m not sure if the appliances speak to each other in some kind of coded machine language, and then plan little machine revolutions, but sure as “a squared plus b squared equals c squared,” when one appliance breaks, others follow.

The first was my printer. It didn’t break completely, just the auto-duplexer. I pressed on, printing just the A sides and guiltily murdering trees, but since it has six separate ink cartridges that are getting harder to find, and since the printing usually is streaky and awful, I figured it was time to look into getting a new printer. I have one in mind and will buy it when the streaky, awful ink runs out.

Next it was the microwave. It was spinning and whirring but the food was coming out ice cold. The day before Christmas Eve we stood in a very long line at our local retailer, new microwave perched atop one of the small, I’m-only-getting-a-few-things-today carts, because that was the only cart left at the store. It was insanity, but the microwave was on sale and there was a coupon for $10 off if you spent so much money, which we did, so I guess I’m not complaining.

Then, on New Year’s Day, it was our washing machine. It actually started two days before. The machine flooded the laundry room. My husband accused me of overloading it. I took some clothes out and restarted everything went fine. The problem was solved. Or so we thought, until the next load of laundry on New Year’s Day when the same thing happened. We brought forth from our repressed memories recollections of this happening before. Shaun had cleaned the water sensor which fixed the problem, but he wasn’t able to clean it very well because it was small, hard to get to, and glued in place. He could clean it again, but this all would happen again in the near future and I, for one, am tired of mopping up the laundry room and then having nowhere to go with a bunch of wet, soggy laundry. So we decided to buy a new one. With our washing machine at just 10 years old, it’s a little ahead of schedule, but at least now we can get an HE machine. It took a day or two but I settled on one I liked at a reasonable price, then I started looking at my laundry room. I hate my laundry room. I complain every time I do laundry that I can’t open the dryer without re-positioning the door to the room. The room is also dark and ugly. The floor is tiled orange, and several years ago I got rid of some hideous wallpaper and painted the walls a complementary color, which helped, but it’s still poorly lit with dark cabinets.

Before

After

I started thinking about all the other horrible, dark cabinets we’ve ripped out of this house and I decided it was time to do so again. I calculated that ripping out the cabinets, putting in some modern shelves and repainting would be an inexpensive way to make a big difference. And so the cabinets came down today and primer-ing began. Unfortunately the new washer is coming on Tuesday and I wish I’d thought of this earlier. But oh well. The wheels are in motion and I hope to come to you with something truly pinterest-y in a few weeks. I can do it, I know I can.

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My Best of 2017

I started this post last year by saying there was a feeling that culturally, it was kind of a shitty year. HAH! Move over 2016, you got nothing on 2017. Sigh. There were still many great cultural offerings in 2017. This post always focuses on the great things I found during the previous year, whether they were produced in 2017 or not. Items on the list include but are not limited to: books, television shows, movies and trends. As I began last year’s post similarly to this year’s, so shall I begin this year’s list with:

Better Call Saul Season 3

Holy crap. A few years ago I hailed Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” episode as the best hour of television that ever was. Well, there’s a new contender for that title, and it’s Saul‘s “Chicanery.” What a masterful piece of work this was. It was what’s referred to in the industry as a “bottle episode,” taking place entirely in a courtroom. Breaking Bad’s greatest strength was always what creator Vince Gilligan called “mining our own history,” searching for details from the past and letting them pay off in future episodes. “Chicanery” is the episode that this entire series has been leading up to. From there, the main character’s dissent into darkness begins. We know it’s coming, and somehow we resist and we fight and we wish we could change. We shouldn’t be surprised by the decisions these characters make – we know how this story ends – and yet we are not only surprised but we are heartbroken.

Sneaky Pete Season 1

This is an Amazon series that was developed by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and produced by Graham Yost (Justified). This was a fun series that showcased the terrific Giovanni Ribisi, who I’ve been watching since he was on My Two Dads. I thought they did such a nice job of wrapping up all of their story lines too, when at the very end we’re reminded of one we forgot, and that’s the cliffhanger for season 2.

The Edge of Seventeen

Ladybird is getting all the awards buzz, but another movie with a teenage girl protagonist also came out this year to great reviews, and that’s the one I saw. The Edge of Seventeen is probably the best movie I’ve seen in a decade. I’m not sure I even want to like Ladybird, because Seventeen was so perfect. When I was writing my NaNoWriMo novel about 4 years ago, my protagonist was a teenage girl, and I thought constantly about the drama I was creating. I thought it was too much. I wanted to convey a sense of extreme urgency, but I worried that it wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me. Along comes Seventeen, which perfectly portrayed the urgent atmosphere I was trying to convey in my novel. Goddammit. If only I hadn’t doubted myself, maybe my book could’ve been that movie. Or something like it. One final thought: Why is Woody Harrelson so good in everything he does?

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, season 3

This show is reliably funny and despite the fact that I am still mourning the loss of Santino Fontana as Greg, season 3 might be the best one yet. There have been so many great musical numbers this season, it’s hard to choose just one to showcase here. But choose  I did. The following, as well as any related Crazy Ex-Girlfriend musical numbers that show up on YouTube after you’re finished with this one, are NSFW.

 

Mike Birbiglia

Netflix has this new feature where, when you hover over one of the shows you are contemplating watching, it shows you a preview. And so it was that as I was scrolling and hovering through the comedians section, I laughed at the preview of Thank God for Jokes by Mike Birbiglia. I laughed and so I watched. And then I laughed a whole lot and was also amazed. At the end of the set, I realized I’d listened to an entire story. These weren’t one-off jokes. No set up was forgotten, not a single joke was random. There was an overarching theme. It felt like a stand-up novel. And since I am nothing if not interested in storytelling, I wanted to explore more. I watched My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend – same deal. Then I went and listened to an old podcast of Birbiglia talking to Marc Maron, and they talked about the particular style of comedy, which is actually called story-based comedy, and it is so difficult that few people do it. I believe it. But I LOVE it. If I were still in college, I’d find a way to write a paper about it. On the podcast, they put forth Al Madrigal as another one who does story-based comedy, but I’ve not been able to find an act of his to check out to see if it’s the same thing. I hope that it is, but I suspect Birbiglia is just extra, extra good at what he does.

Malcolm Gladwell

Speaking of people who are extra, extra good at what they do, there’s Malcolm Gladwell. He likes to look at stories from a different perspective, and what he does is so well-researched and so well communicated that it’s difficult not to take his side. Gladwell has been around for years, and I started reading his books last year, but I read more this year and listened to his podcast and I know I’ll be interested in what he has to say forever.

Minimalism and Marie Kondo

I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last year and I loved it. This year, I read the illustrated Spark Joy and that helped me fix my kitchen, which I realized I hadn’t tackled properly in my previous tidyings. I’m still far from perfect, but I’ve incorporated so many of her principles into my life that it most certainly qualifies as life-changing, and I’m all the better for it.

So with that I’ll bid adieu to 2017. I’m not exactly sad to see it go, but I definitely thank it for the things it did bring into my life this year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings. But I will have to.

 

 

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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update #11 or My New Year’s Resolutions – 2018 Edition

How perfectly coincidental to conclude this project on New Year’s Eve. You say I planned it like that? Fine. Be that way.

Of all the things I said I’d do, the three that stuck the best were going to bed and rising at the same time each day (at least until this current break, when I made up with my snooze button), exercising every day, and blogging every week. I also wrote down all my expenses (something I’d started doing slightly before the project began), paid with cash and debit card (no credit) for everything, and didn’t buy things I didn’t need, at least until Christmastime. Making a wish list on Amazon re-ignited some of my retail desires, and I bought a few of the things I did not receive for Christmas after the fact, as presents to myself.

The things that fell by the wayside were meditation, picking up after myself immediately (only because it seemed futile to pick up after myself and still have the place be a hot mess with everybody else’s stuff), limiting social media, concentrating on a hobby, and not drinking soda. (That last one has been a downward spiral since a few days before Christmas.)

The things that I consider a wash were carrying a notebook with me at all times (I nearly always have some kind of paper/pen with me anyway, I just didn’t really use it) and reading more (I go through cycles but if I have some time and a good book in the vicinity, I read. I also don’t count things like cookbooks, but truth be told I’m constantly borrowing them from the library and leafing through them.)

So that’s not bad, eh? I was surprised that I liked the sleep/wake times, and that 7 1/2 hours was enough sleep most of the time. But not all of the time, because sometimes your body tells you otherwise. I was also surprised/not surprised that making the time for exercise did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to derail my work productivity. “I can’t exercise!” I said, “I might not finish my work.” Not true. Everything worked out exactly the same before the exercise commitment as after. And of course, I was not surprised that I liked blogging every week, though I know that they weren’t all gems of entries.

So going forward, I have some resolutions, based largely on the anecdotal data I’ve collected over the past 76 days.

  1. Keep the exercise. I’ve actually done a total of 76 days of something, whether it be walking or even a quick 20-minute video. I suppose in the new year, I could take a day or two off a month, but overall, I want to keep this pace. The only trouble I forsee is getting bored with the DVDs as I slog through the winter months.
  2. Keep the wake/sleep times, but allow myself a little more slack for days that I am tired or sick, and vacations.
  3. Keep writing down expenses and being careful with what I choose to spend money on.
  4. Learn to bullet journal. I got a bullet journal for Christmas, and while the notebook is ancillary, I think the system might be beneficial to me. It might even count as a hobby. I’m not artistic, like the bullet journalers online, but after watching several tutorials, I did get really excited about the washi tape, making a trip to the store for that and a new purple pen. Side note: Sharpie makes the best pens/highlighters.
  5. Continue reducing waste. This was not part of the project, but I feel pretty great about all the things I did this year to reduce my personal waste (Here’s a list, How I Reduced My Waste in 2017, if you’re curious) and I want to continue the trend.
  6. Keep blogging once a week.
  7. Keep the projects going. I realized that the procrastination and perfectionism project was less about the procrastination and perfectionism, and more about the project. I just like exploring and learning and trying new things. So I had the idea to try a new project each month. I have several things I want to do, like not buying anything (except food), various food-related diets and experiments, and creating less waste. Writing about the projects would help me keep steadily blogging. After weighing several options, I decided January had to be food-related, because it’s so terribly cliche, how could it not? I also plan to book summer vacation plans soon, so the no-spend month would likely be out of the question.

My food project for January is to follow, as closely as possible, an anti-inflammatory diet. I’ve been moving towards eating whole foods, but it’s a long process and I really want to tackle some of the demons in January. Mainly, the added sugar demon. I’m also going to reduce meat and try to stay away from flour, but if I make it the month without added sugar, I’ll consider it a success. I’ve decided to allow myself small amounts of dark chocolate (80% and up) because it’s listed as anti-inflammatory and I think it will increase my chances of success. I get restless for chocolate the way others get restless for coffee. Also, one new food rule I’m instituting no matter what diets I try in the future: no more eliminating caffeine. I drink tea. Tea is anti-inflammatory. I’m not changing. Stay the hell away from my tea!

Anybody else vowing to eat better/do better in the new year? Leave a comment below. And Happy New Year!

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My 2017 Year-in-Review: Entertainment Edition

Here is a list of (just about) everything I watched or read in the year 2017. The list is in (mostly) chronological order.

TV Series Watched

Schitt’s Creek (abandoned)

The Man in the High Castle (abandoned)

Silicon Valley (seasons 1, 2, 3, 4)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (finished season 2, season 3 in progress)

Sneaky Pete (season 1)

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jane the Virgin (finished season 3, season 4 in progress)

Westworld (Abandoned)

The Mindy Project (seasons 5 and 6)

The Middle (finished season 8, season 9 in progress)

Better Call Saul (season 3)

Bill Nye Saves the World (abandoned)

Great News (abandoned)

Catastrophe (season 3)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 3)

Orange is the New Black (season 5)

Glow (season 1)

Boiling the Frog (YouTube)

Atypical (season 1)

Project Runway (season 16 – unfinished because Lifetime’s website locked the content)

The Handmaid’s Tale (abandoned)

Maron (season 1-4)

Will & Grace (Reboot (in progress))

Couple Thinkers (YouTube)

Fresh Off the Boat (whatever season it’s in now, Sonja likes it)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 1 in progress)

Tin Star (abandoned)

Psych: The Movie

The Crown (season 2)

Halt and Catch Fire (season 4)

Movies/Documentaries/Comedy Specials Watched

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Cinco (Jim Gaffigan)

Bridget Jones’ Baby

Rifftrax: Replica

Sausage Party

The Lego Batman Movie

Manchester By the Sea

Dave Chappelle: The Art of Spin

Dave Chappelle: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Gad Gone Wild

The Edge of 17

Jackie

Minimalism: A Documentary

Hidden Figures

Snowden

Cars 3

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Loving

The Founder

Man Up

Save the Date

Wonder Woman

Marc Maron: Too Real

Marc Maron: Thinky Pain

Jerry Before Seinfeld

The Big Sick

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes

Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

Don’t Think Twice

Sleepwalk with Me

Partly Fiction (fell asleep)

An Inconvenient Sequel (fell asleep)

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid

John Mulaney: New in Town

Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight

Dave Chappelle: Equanimity

Dave Chappelle: The Bird Revelation

Books Read

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (abandoned)

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking as Fast as I can by Lauren Graham

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Moonglow by Michael Chabon (abandoned)

Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed by Harlan Ellison (abandoned)

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot (abandoned)

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest

Emotional Design by Donald A. Norman (unfinished)

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al Franken (unfinished)

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake

Everything that Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalist by Joshua Fields Millburn

The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua S. Becker

Attempting Normal by Marc Maron

Sleepwalk with Me by Mike Birbiglia

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi

David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

Fowl Language: The Struggle is Real by Brian Gordon

I tried with Handmaid’s Tale, I really did. I got up to episode 4, I think. But the future dystopian stuff is just not my genre (see also: Man in the High Castle.)  I said last year I’d try to read more fiction this year, so it’s pretty funny that of the two novels I attempted, I only made it through one, and that one was pretty meh. I still feel like I had a great year in books and make no such silly resolutions for next year. I shall carry on as I have been carrying on, or as my daughter might say, “I read what I want!”

Having never seen Chappelle’s Show, I watched both of Dave Chappelle’s new comedy specials on Netflix and loved them. I also saw him on talk shows promoting the specials, and every time I thought, “hey, I like this guy. He’s very pleasant.” I liked Marc Maron’s Netflix stand-up too, but when I see him on talk shows, he does not have the same calming effect as Chappelle. I’ll be watching the new Chappelle comedy specials when they release on New Year’s Eve.

That was the year that was in entertainment. Not bad, actually. Can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update 10

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s snowing! Incredible. I am also coming to the end of this project, and I don’t have much to report. I’ve definitely had trouble meeting my 11:30 bedtime since I have been on break. I just feel like staying up later, and that’s the night owl in me taking over. I thought I might switch up my hours since I won’t be teaching in the morning next quarter, but then I remembered I have to get up anyway to get the kid off to school, so I’ll leave it. It is nice to be ready to go earlier in the day, even if I don’t do anything. At least there’s a chance I could do something.

Since it is Christmas Eve and I have a few presents left to wrap and other end-of-year blogs I’m working on, I’m going to leave it there for now. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

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My Six-and-a-Quarter Year Old

Sonja’s Kindergarten Photo. She still loves green and asked me to pick the green background for this photo.

And now, a post that gets to be all about school. Oh how Sonja loves kindergarten. The days are long, and recovering at home after school usually involves a fair amount of fit throwing, but rarely is there a bad word spoken about school. She wishes for the weekend to be over so she can go back, and hey, she’s not the only one. Ba dum dum dum, crash. She loves her teacher and has made friends with everyone in class, minus two little boys for whom she does not care. She even loves taking the bus. When it comes to school, she doesn’t want to miss a thing.

Waiting for the bus on a cold December morning.

Sonja’s kindergarten class, all dressed up for flannel day.

Some notable school moments from the first quarter of her first year: She is in a reading group by herself because she is reading at a first-grade level and no one in her class has caught up to her. We tested her for placement in the district’s Young Scholar’s program and she was accepted. Just before break, she came home with two awards, one for being dependable, the other for being organized.

She wrote all of her numbers to 100.

She won not just one but two major awards!

She is still a tiny wisp of a thing, and I had several minor heart attacks when she would come home with her school lunch nearly intact. When I spoke with her teacher, I learned that most of the children eat very little at lunch time. We’ve instituted an after school snack, but it’s a very fine line to eat just enough snack to remain hungry enough to eat dinner. And what I’ve found is that hunger works. If we forget the snack, and I can stand the incessant whining about being hungry, then she gobbles up dinner, minus the snooty foodie criticisms of my cooking.

Playing princess.

She still loves doing puzzles and mazes and word games in age-appropriate books, and she’s gotten more into coloring than she was before. She always liked to draw, but now she’ll also spend time with a coloring book. Because we can get some peace out of her when she’s doing these activities, and her homework, we decided to buy her a desk for Christmas. I think she will love it.

Conquering a “mountain” at a local park on a sunny, autumn afternoon.

Several months ago I took her on an outing to Trader Joe’s. She fell in love with it because it had kid-size carts and I let her pick out a few of her own groceries. She’s now a walking commercial for the store. It is absolutely the only place she ever wants to go. Telling her we have to run errands, go grocery shopping, or that we simply want to get out of the house for a while – all of these sentences are met with complete, abject misery. It takes longer to get her out of the house than it would to do the errands. Forget Lamaze, expectant parents should be taking tactical negotiations classes.

The artist’s rendition

We’re reading longer stories now. She loves them all. We’ve read The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me, and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, several books in the Judy Moody series, and we’re currently in the middle of an Amelia Bedelia. We’ve also watched a few new movies, most recently and notably, E.T. I was surprised that she loved it so much. I thought it might be too much for a six-year-old. Although, I have to say, I don’t know how many times I’ve actually seen E.T., but I never remember anything outside of the major plot points. And the Reese’s Pieces. I tried to use the movie to get her to try Reese’s Pieces. She picked up a Christmas candy cane filled with them at the store, but then informed me that she would put them in my stocking for me.

Speaking of Christmas: it’s coming, and she’s bouncing off the walls. She is so excited to open presents. A few days ago, she went  upstairs to my office to retrieve the aforementioned Reese’s Pieces candy cane and she wound up, of course, looking for it in my closet. Luckily, most of the presents were wrapped, but she confessed to me that she saw them. A day later, she confessed that she saw the Tsum Tsum box I got her and then broke down and sobbed in my arms. Through her tears, she said, “you should have wrapped it!”

Waiting in line to see Santa.

How adorable is this, with the backwards letters and request for a jump rope?

Santa.

Thumbs up.

So there you have it. From telling me my chicken is too dry to faulting me for her own snooping, there is no point at which I, as a parent, can catch a break. But it’s totally fine, because at the end of the day, Santa gets all the credit for the presents.

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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update #9

With just two weeks left, I’ll consider this my penultimate update. On New Year’s Eve, I’ll do new resolutions and a recap of what worked and what didn’t from this little experiment.

Now that I am on break from work, I have been having a harder time sticking to my schedule. I’m fudging both sleep and wake times. But not by that much, and it does feel like this is the time to kick back and relish the end of the year. However, after seeing an improvement in my energy from standardized sleep/wake times, I’m wondering if I should be more consistent with Sonja. Typically I let her sleep in on the weekends and stay up a bit later. She’s been awfully cranky lately but truly, that could be anything. I think, for my own sanity, I’ll try to keep her schedule fairly consistent during the break.

I had a very long streak of walking outside, thanks to a streak of cold but sunny weather. It’s turned rainy and windy the past two days, so I’ve moved the workout indoors. Typically, I feel like I get more bang for my workout buck when I’m following a video, but it’s not near as entertaining as wandering around listening to Malcolm Gladwell or Marc Maron. I have thoughts of trying to balance the two types of workout more evenly, but if walking is what makes being active consistent, then walking should not be slighted.

The break is already going by all too quickly. Perhaps its best I didn’t have too much of a list of what I wanted to get done? In any event, I hope in the next posts I as I review the experiment and the year, I can see that there were things that in fact did get accomplished.

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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update #8

I was starting to worry that the project updates were getting a little long in the tooth, when I came across the following article in The New York Times – The New York Times people!

Just the subheading made me feel better about myself. The author went on to explain a little about the human psyche:

Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant. Yes, I want to know what else my favorite restaurant does well, but today I just want my favorite dish.

Overconfidence also holds us back. I am unduly certain in my guesses of what the alternatives will be like, even though I haven’t tried them.

The entire point of my project is to put my proclivities and predispositions of how to live life up against expert advice. To see if there isn’t some payoff to changing my mindset, just for a second, knowing I can go back to doing things the old way for the rest of my life if I want. The story made me and my quotidian blog updates feel validated, as well as deeply annoyed that I can’t figure out how to leverage my bizarre neuroses into a New York Times article. Most days, it feels like my entire life is about changing the way I do things so that I can do them better. That’s why it’s called perfectionism, and that’s why people – probably people like the author of that article – think I’m crazy.

The essay acknowledges the difficulties inherent in setting aside our habits for the sake of experimentation, which made me feel better about the project failures. Surely I’ve not had as many Cokes as I would have, had I not pledged to forgo them until Dec. 31st, but surely the number is nowhere near zero either. And didn’t I say something about cutting back on social media…? Ahem. Some things are destined to be works in progress.

There have been successes though, and I’m excited to recap those in the final update in a few weeks. I hope to get a lot accomplished between now and the end of the year, including a slew of end-of-year blogs. Good luck to all of you who are ramping up for Christmas and the end of the year. Start thinking about those New Year’s Resolutions now. They could be well worth your time.

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My Procrastination and Perfectionism Problem – Update #7

December. I’ve learned some things about migraines but still feel relatively powerless to change my headaches, which seem so different from others. I’ve been panicking because my triptans aren’t working, but it could be that I’m not taking them soon enough, since my headaches are mild enough that I always think they will just go away. I also see a definite correlation between my headaches and the barometric pressure and nothing else. Not caffeine or chocolate or hormones or stress. The prevailing theory is that if you control the things you can control, i.e. food, you can prevent yourself from crossing the migraine threshold despite uncontrollable things like the weather. Mostly you do this by not eating the things on the migraine trigger list, but each person’s triggers are different and difficult to suss out. I read a book this week that suggested a ketogenic diet – no sugar and no carbs – would bring you so far below the threshold you could eat any of the other triggers you want. But every time I hear about this so-called ancestral diet, it feels like a fad. We took fat out of everything in the ’80s and ’90s, and boy were we wrong about that. So taking out carbs just because we can seems like it will someday be revealed as another bad idea. I also really don’t understand the people who do this willingly. I read on the internet constantly how filling eggs are. Every single time I eat an egg, I feel hungrier when I’m finished than when I started. Also, the idea that you can eat as much bacon and sausage and hot dogs as you want so long as you don’t eat any sugar just doesn’t sound right at all. Whatever happened to good old fashioned moderation? It’s a problem I currently have with the culture at large, and certainly it’s reflected in our food choices.

I did have a headache this weekend and slept a little more than I normally would. We had a couple of days where the weather went from sunny and bright to dark and rainy, so I’m sure that brought it on, but I also started to wonder if my sleep schedule had anything to do with it. In general, I’m really liking my schedule but notice there are nights where I don’t fall asleep as quickly as others, or I get into bed a few minutes late, and I wonder if that reduces my time asleep too much. But I don’t feel particularly tired so I would think that means I’m ok. I’m just looking for something that’s not food related because let’s face it, I’m not giving up carbs.

The one empty carb that I want to stop gorging on is social media. I’m still using it to fill in the gaps, but it does feel hollow at best and nauseating at worst, and with the current state of politics in this country, that’s a whole lot of nauseating. To add to that, I’ve been testing out some potential new shows to watch during my upcoming break. None have had a single light-hearted moment in them. They sink to the bottom of your soul like a stone. Luckily The Crown returns to Netflix next week, so I can watch something about another country’s politics.

The bottom line here is I feel like I already know which of these habits will stick around and which have been unsuccessful, but I still want to continue with what I am doing and remember why I am doing it. With the last week of the quarter next week, I’ve been a wee bit stressed, but I hope to get a lot accomplished over my break and finish this project strong.

 

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