Archive for the ‘ Life Lessons ’ Category

Notable Achievements of the Year

None. We’re only thirteen days into the new year. What exactly can be accomplished in thirteen days?

Days needed to write a short story: 1

Days needed to write a novella: 7-ish

Days needed to write a 30,000 page novel: 14

Days needed to read a 300-400 page book: 1

Days needed to read a 500-800 page book: 3-5

Days needed to paint a small sized picture: 1-2

Days needed to paint a medium sized picture: 4-ish

Days needed to paint a large sized picture: 7

Days needed to start a new workout: None, just start working out.

Okay, maybe I could have accomplished a lot in thirteen days. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I suppose it’s a good thing the weather has forced me on a furlough for the week. Writing a short story or painting a picture may also provide me that alternative income I desperately need at the moment…assuming I can produce something anyone would want to pay money to own.

School, Writing, and ‘Totes’ is Apparently a Word

I should probably start thinking of some good quality content to put on this blog after school ends. The semester has only just begun but when this year is over, well, then it’s over. Unless by some miracle I apply and get accepted to grad school, and that’s when things get really serious and time will no longer be a concept I can believe in.

Not that I really believe in it now, either.  I’m almost done with my second week of the semester and I already feel as though I’ve fallen so behind…whatever possessed me to save five anthropology classes (four 300-400 level) for my last semester…though it probably doesn’t help that I seem to have a strong case of senioritis that leads me to mistakenly believe I can easily do homework while drinking beer.

Just got to keep pushing to the finish line, though, right.

I’m scared to bits and pieces at the prospect of asking professors for grad school recommendation letters once this is all over.  I’m expecting the responses to be a toss up between, “who are you?” and “I don’t know if I’ve anything good to say about you…”maybe try someone else.

Oh grad schools, why do you need recommendation letters?  I can’t form social connections to save my life.  I was raised in the emergent digital age, I interface with computer screens and emoticons, not living people.

At least I have my writing to fall back on, is what I keep telling myself to my own maniacal laughter.  Writing is a career you pursue relentlessly while keeping a day job to pay the bills (and slowly suck out your soul, and crush your spirit, leaving you a sullen husk silently holding on by that thread of hope that one of your stories will sell like Harry  Potter one day — sorry to spoil it for young, beginning writers brimming with idealistic ambition), anyhow, it’s definitely not Plan B.

That’s why I need to finish writing something and how.  We did intros in one of the classes, stating our name, major, year, and something fun/interesting (it changes as we were moving through the class) about ourselves.  The first guy who went said he was a writer, and I was like oh-fuck, stole my interesting about me, then finished up that he worked on fantasy novels and had two manuscripts finished and I was like, well shit, now I’m just a wannabe and he’s a dedicated professional.  Of course it gets round to me and I’m like, yeah, I also write, then sadly admit, though I haven’t finished a manuscript yet.

The professor, who is also the class clown, was bantering and laughter, and he made some offhanded comment that we can network (the other writer and I) and that guy’s is all scoffing, “she’s not even in the editting stages yet”, but then the prof was kind enough to acknowledge, “but that’s not really something funny.  That’s a serious endeavor, and should be commended,” because he’s actually a nice guy- much better than other everyone-should-be-loud-and-boisterous type teachers I’ve had in the past, then he brought it back around and instructed me, “Now tell us something funny.”

To which I quipped, “Something funny” because you know, no ones ever heard that one before.  People laughed and he was like okay, whatever, moved on to the next person and immediately I thought of a million interesting/funny things I could’ve said about myself instead.

Anyhow, I guess I made the decision then that I need to either work on finishing a manuscript (and then another one and another one and another one) and getting published (my stories anyway, company blog totally does not count.  Side note, WTF is with the word “totes” all of a sudden.  First time I heard it was in the Malcolm McDowell and James Earl  Jones commercial and I’m like, “kids don’t talk like that”, come to find out, they do) back on topic, though, decision: either write something or stop telling people I’m a writer.

I think I’d die inside if I had to stop telling people I’m a writer, as though my spirit were suddenly severed from my body.  Writing is the first and foremost thing I’ve wanted to do going way back to when I was like ten years old and a teacher told me I should be a writer, and I was like, wait, I can do that?  As like, a for real profession, just tell stories all day? Yeah, I totes want to be a writer!

Okay, yeah, totes is the stupidest word ever. Jeez what is wrong with kids these days? Let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist and the people that use it, we’ll pretend they don’t exist either.

Right.  So, unless I want to be a spiritless automaton, going about my life, rank and filing bones, pretending I know something about anything science-y like, which I only partially do, I guess I have to get something accomplished, finito, published, and voila, me writer.  Yeah, I had a beer while reading about entheseal change earlier so I’m a mite loopy, apologies.  Probably start small, short story or something.  Move my way towards finishing one of the plethora of novels I’ve started but for some reason or another dropped, only to start a different novel altogether.

I’m going back to homework now.  Don’t use the word totes.

Renewed

Just renewed the domain name, and it’s my blogs anniversary.  Yay!  Happy anniversary, blog!

I haven’t posted anything in awhile.  Been busy writing, doing side projects, and working (which now includes a hefty amount of writing).

Work, so far, is going surprisingly good.  I’m still trying to figure out ways to direct traffic to the site, but the boss likes me well enough.  He seems to think I have a good attitude and the perfect personality for the job.  I sure hope he’s right about me.  A lot of people are counting on me to be successful.  They’re not counting on just me, thankfully, but enough of it relies on my ability to generate interest in the company for me to be extremely stressed.

In the meantime, my personal writing is divided between a script for a comic/graphic novel I’m collaborating on with an artist friend/former co-worker of mine, brainstorming for the game I want to develop that I mentioned last post, and working on a short novel I’m hoping to get finished within this coming year; working title is “White Rabbit”.

On another post, I talked about my DIY projects.  This holiday season, I made laundry detergent, lotion, lip balm, bath salts, and a sugar scrub.  I’m most satisfied with the laundry detergent, lip balm, and bath salts.  The sugar scrub was pretty decent, but I would have to use it long term to determine if I like it or not.  I had a small breakout by the corner of my lip, and I’m suspicious it might’ve been the scrub.  Of course, I could just be seeing the consequences of this past couple months’ major stresses, too.  The bath salt was wonderful to soak in, though, very relaxing, left my skin feeling really smooth, and was so easy to make.  Took maybe 5-10 minutes to mix together.  Sort of used Lia Griffith’s Homemade Lavender Bath Salts and Martha Stewart’s Homemade Bath Salts recipes as guides, kind of borrowing from both and streamlining the ingredients.

My Bath Salts

2 Cups Epsom Salt

1/2 Cup Himalyan Pink Sea Salt (bottles of this are available everywhere now, I’d never even heard of them before.  They give the salts a pretty color, but you could prob sub regular sea salt or just omit it altogether)

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (though you could probably sub any vegetable oil here, like olive oil or jojoba oil)

5-10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

5-10 drops Eucalyptus Essential oil

Directions: Combine epsom salt and sea salt in a large bowl.  In a double boiler, melt coconut oil (I just put the oil in a jar, then put the jar in hot water from the tap, mixing it until fully melted.  Pour oil over salts, add the oils, and mix until fully combined.  Store in a sealed container (I put mine in glassware with a silicone seal lock-and-lock lid that I got at a home goods store for cheap).

To Use: Add a few tablespoons to bath when you first start running the hot water, and use your hand to stir the salts in until the sea salt is fully dissolved.

I worried after I’d first made the salts that I might’ve put in too much of the eucalyptus essential oil, because it smelled overwhelming in the mixing bowl, but the bath water diluted it a lot.  The Himalyan pink sea salt gave the bath a kind of peppery smell, which was interesting but nice.

As for the lotion, I colored it with powdered raspberries, and that didn’t work out so awesome.  It’s alright, but a bit gritty, so I have to figure out a way to get that pretty pink color without the grit.  The lotion itself was very oily — which the recipe’s author had forewarned, so I already knew it would be — but I think I’ll try out a less oily lotion next time.  It turned out very liquid-y,  which the author had not forewarned about but I think might be due to the oily-ness, and I don’t like it’s consistency much at all.  I want to try making a lotion for my face, my skin gets really dried out.  I started using diluted apple cider vinegar as a face toner after my cleanser a couple days ago.  I haven’t noticed anything testimony worthy yet, but I will say that it does significantly reduce redness after application, but I think that it’s contributing to the dryness of my skin.

Next on my DIY To-Do List is shampoo and conditioner.  I decided I would try out these different “recipes” for a month, recording my results.  Unless, of course, I immediately see drastically horrific results.  I’m thinking I might start a blog about it, but not until I’ve got everything made and have been using them for awhile, so I actually have something worth blogging about.

And that is all for today.  Yup.  Back to writing.

School’s Out, Time to Write

As of this past Thursday morning, my school semester is over.  It was a long and hectic year that ended on a few high notes.  A few good grades and good praise from my teachers, met some interesting people that were far friendlier towards me than I probably deserved.  In personal life, I got a new job and a new car.  The job seems to be going well, which could mean it really is going well, or I’m delusional in my hopes that it works out.

My first blog post for the new job goes up on Monday, if you would care to check it out, here’s the link.  It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, by far, stifled by the pressure of it being my first paid writing gig and trying to situate myself into a position whose previous occupant left a severely sour taste in the boss’s mouth.  While you’re perusing the company blog, you can read some of the old blogger’s posts as well.  I’m not entirely sure how long we’ll be keeping them up, but I’m petitioning to get them removed as soon as possible.  I’d like to distance myself from her work as much as I can.  One of the earliest bloggers had some decent posts, and I’d like to spruce them up a bit, but I guess there were complications during her employment so her stuff might get removed too, we’ll see.  We’ll also be getting a freelance blogger (who I’ll be semi-managing) to write content for us.  She’s got a lot of writing experience, and thus far in our email correspondence she’s been super nice, so I’m excited to be working with her. I’ll let you know when her stuff goes up as well, let you take a look at it.  Also, you know, buy something from the store.  We’ve got cool kitchen gadgets, the kind of stuff that makes me go, “I want that…and that…and OH MY GOD THAT!”

As per my previous blog (in which I complain about my own failings during NaNoWriMo and hope the readers will take pit on me), I’m going to be doing my own version of NaNoWriMo…apparently, starting today.  Woohoo! Got to write 1600 words today.  I can kill that easy, just need to pick a story to work on.   A little torn between the one I was trying to write during NaNoWriMo and a completely different one.  UGH, I’m already sabotaging myself.  I’m just going to open a word doc and start writing, whichever story comes out is the one I’m going with, so there, take that self-imposed writer’s block!

Right.  Off I go to get some novel written.  Enjoy this picture of the kitten that wouldn’t let me do my homework.

He's a little sad about classes ending because it means his favorite napping spot - my books - is going away for a time.  Back to sleeping on my shoulders, I guess.

He’s a little sad about classes ending because it means his favorite napping spot – my books – is going away for a time. Back to sleeping on my shoulders, I guess.

Bring on the Bird

thanksgiving-dinner-wallpaper-2

This year my sister is hosting Thanksgiving for  the first time.  She’s a good cook, and likes to go all out for big events, so my stomach is very excited.  She’s trying out a few new fancy dishes, like a pork, bacon, and apple stuffing, and a orange-cranberry sauce made from fresh cranberries.

A little less excited that my holiday weekend will be spent doing homework, but I’ve got two more weeks left and the semester is over!  After that, just five more classes to go and I’ll have my degree.  I’m already signed up for the classes and I’m anxious for them to start.  Year’s not over yet, and I’m ready for the next to begin, what is wrong with me?  I guess I just see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m making a mad, mad, mad dash to the finish line.

Here’s hoping your kitchen smells as fantastic as mine right now.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

I have a test in a couple hours.  I should be studying, but instead I’m here, procrastinating.

For no real, particular reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about trust and where I’ve placed it in recent times.  Also, I’ve been thinking about the weird ways in which the world works.  They seem like profound musings, but really I’m dwelling on a fellow classmate that seemed to make valiant efforts to befriend me and now I feel did it solely to take advantage of me (and my far better study habits than her own), and how the other day when I got in a car accident I also received invitation to interview at the new job I’ll be starting next week.

Life, at least from my perspective, always balances out in the long run.  Which I think is a very optimistic outlook, given that I grew up a household that focused entirely on the bad things and completely ignored or, it might be more appropriate to say, let the bad overshadow the good.  When I moved out of the house, I very gradually came to realize happiness really does come from within, and that it’s really not about where you are in life but what you do while you’re there.

Or as Yoga Jones put it in Orange is the New Black:

“Work hard to make something as beautiful and meaningful as you can, and when you’re done, pack it in and known it was all temporary.”

On Doing Well In College

I’ve been preparing to head back to school these past few days.  Classes start in two weeks and I’m going to have a heavy load.  Four anthropology classes, all four hundred level courses; which translate to a lot of reading and a lot of essay writing, and then to top off my schedule, I have a micro-economics course.  I’ve realized recently that I only have the one year left before I graduate, granted the last course I absolutely need is offered in the Spring semester.  Suddenly, I’m thinking about the future beyond school as fast approaching reality as opposed to a far off fantasy world.  I know I need to start making decisions about what I intend to do with myself and my degree.  My considerations at the moment are either graduate school or joining the armed forces, most likely Air Force; which is something I’ve only candidly talked about with my best friend, herself looking into joining within the next year or so.  Even despite my candor, I’m not entirely sure how serious she took me to be.  It isn’t that I’ve never thought about the military as a possible life course, to be honest, a part of me has always wanted to enlist, but I’ve always been afraid, that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not brave enough, or just not enough.  Lately, I’ve been questioning the integrity of my own self-imposed limits, wondering if perhaps, I’ve been underestimating myself all along.

Yet, even as I prepare for my final year of university, one of my younger cousins is readying to ship off for her first year of university in eleven days.  I know she’ll do impeccably; she’s an intelligent, self-efficient, stable young woman with strong familial support.  Yesterday, however, I took the opportunity to impart on her the knowledge I’d built up from my own experiences.  In my first years of college, I’d been wholly unprepared, and it reflects in my transcripts.  My mother had never gone to college, and my father only suffered through a semester before dropping out.  My elder sister had only a year under her belt when I graduated high school, and by then, she was already floundering at the local university, directionless and overwhelmed by this new world of which she knew nothing and was offered no real guidance.  Sadly, we didn’t receive the kind of assistance from our parents that one might expect; emotional, moral, or otherwise.  When my younger sister was accepted to Ithaca on scholarship five years later, my father practically told her she would fail and shouldn’t go, then a year later crucified her as the failure he predicted when she decided to drop out.  My father, by the way, is the nice parent.

None of this is meant as an excuse for my poor academic record, more so as an explanation of why it felt important to me that I give my younger cousin as much advice as I could.  Despite my rocky beginnings and constant swapping of majors, I’ve since straightened my act.  I transferred to UNLV three semesters ago, and have made Dean’s List each one, an honorable position I intend to maintain through graduation.  I will be making perfect A’s in all my classes next semester, no excuses.  I haven’t posted a blog in a while, and I know a lot of people out there are prepping to return to school, same as myself, so I figured, what better thing to write about than the same advice I passed on to my cousin, as well as, a few tidbits on how prepare for the new semester.  Most of these tips will seem self-evident, but many first years falter by overlooking the obvious.  Furthermore, these tips are not necessarily exclusive to college, but can help a student excel at any academic level.

Bring on the Advice:

Before the Semester Starts – Everyone knows that school always truly begins before the first day of classes.  It starts with registration and enrollment.  First years may have orientation to attend.  Then there’s a lull until those several weeks leading up, as you get your back-to-school shopping done and mentally prepare (or drown in despair) for the coming year.  This is a crucial period of time; how you start your semester can define the entire course of your classes and severely impact your overall performance.  Use it wisely, and success will be yours.

Schedule/Routine – One of the things I like to do before the semester begins is to organize my weekly routine.  Figure out what time to wake up each day, what I need to do before class in the morning, after class, the night before, determine what time I will study for which classes, and most importantly, when to take mental breaks for rejuvenation, and what day and time I can take care of non-school related responsibilities, such as doing laundry.  Having a set routine in place before classes start will help you step easily into the new year with less stress than jumping in head-first without a plan.  The key, of course, is sticking to your routine, yet making it flexible enough for inevitable adjustment throughout the semester.

Work Space – Most students who go away for college and live on campus typically take up permanent residence at the library when it comes to school work.  For those of us that live at home or off-campus, depending on how far away school is, the library may not be a viable option.  Regardless, the only way to succeed in your coming school year is to have a place set aside, free of distraction and temptation, where you can focus entirely on your school work.  If you have a high tolerance for background static, coffee shops can make great work spaces.  They usually have free WiFi, and offer a steady stream of caffeine, sugar, and carbs.  But if you’re anything like me, the minutest movements, the softest whisper, sometimes the mere presence of another human being is enough to tear you straight out of the mental work zone.  In which case, setting up a ‘home office’ might be the best option for you.  Make sure it has everything you need within reach (pens, pencils, paper, books, computer, etc.), it’s a comfortable place to get your work done – but not too comfortable, it needs to exude a ‘work’ atmosphere to create and maintain a ‘doing school work’ mood, and most importantly, that your family/roommates/whoever are aware that when you’re there, you are off limits.

Note-taking Methods – Hopefully throughout middle and high school you’ve learned a few methods for note-taking, and if you’re really lucky, identified which one works best for you.  Don’t believe the hype, no one has a sure-fire method for successful note-taking, there are several to choose from and ultimately, it boils down to whatever works for you, yet, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve encountered struggle with proper note-taking.  Unless you have perfect memory, an inability to take good notes can make or break your grade.  There is only one idea, one concept behind notes, that you need to grasp in order to take great notes: no matter when you look back on them, be it the next day, a week, month, or year later, the notes should recall the lesson their based on and jar into memory everything you were meant to understand or take away from that lecture (ie. They should make sense).  If you can’t understand what the notes mean the next day, you need to rethink how you’re taking notes.  Beyond that, nothing else matters.  You can take your notes digitally on a laptop during class, or write them in a notebook, loose leaf paper kept in a binder, be as detailed or ambiguous as you want, color-code, decorative alternating rainbow, or monochrome, indent, bullet point, or rambling paragraphs.  Don’t let someone convince you to do something that works best for them, realize what works best for you.  Trial and error is the only way to figure out what works, don’t be afraid to try something new with your note-taking if your grade is slipping.  Also, what works for one class may not work for another.  Different teachers expect you to take away different messages from their lectures.  Some are very straight forward, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to pass their tests, they may even spell it out for you on a slide: “Take Home Message”.  Others require strong listening skills, you have to dig through what they’re saying to read between the lines.  Getting a feel for your teacher’s lecture style will help you figure out what note-taking method is best, which you can’t do until the year starts obviously, but it helps to have a few methods ready beforehand.  If your note-taking skills are shoddy, practice before the year starts.  Watch a television show or movie, doesn’t matter which one, could be a documentary or a reality show, and take notes on it.  The next day, review your notes.  If you have no clue what you were trying to say, correct the syntax so that it makes sense, and repeat until you get something comprehensible.

** My own method: I always take written notes.  I absorb the material better if I’m writing it, and I pay attention better because hand-writing takes a longer amount of time than, say, typing, which forces me to focus on the teacher’s every word.  Some people may find handwriting while the teacher lectures distracting and miss something said, if you’re one of those people, consider a laptop and/or recording the lecture (note: some professors don’t allow either of these devices in class, check your syllabus).  For instance, some people need to look at the person talking to understand what they’re saying; most of the time I cannot look at a person when they’re talking because the movement of their face and body distracts me.  I try to write down everything the teacher says, but instead of putting it down verbatim, I rephrase in my own wording to ensure I fully comprehend what’s being said.  If I can’t rephrase, I know I need to ask the professor for further clarification.  After class, this semester, I plan to make digital copies of my notes.  The lectures should still be fresh in my mind, which will allow me to make any needed corrections, it’ll also make it easier for me to create study aids from my notes, such as, digital flashcards.

Keeping Agenda – You need an agenda.  There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  In middle school and high school, we were required to keep an agenda.  They even gave us one every year at my old middle school.  Nice ones too.  Problem was, majority of the student body didn’t know how to properly utilize an agenda, and teachers were not exactly lining up to help them figure it out, as they were too preoccupied with the pressures of getting their material taught in order to ensure their students passed those ridiculous standardized tests and they had a job next year.  Education System politics aside, agendas are incredibly handy, if you know how to use it.  You don’t need a fancy agenda, I use a spiral bound, 4”x9” inch Steno notebook as my agenda.  Professors, at least at my college, are required to give you a detailed schedule of their plans for the entire course, indicating which days homework, reading and major projects are due, and when tests will be given; these tend to be attached to the syllabus, with the appendum that the schedule may change at the professor’s discretion, I use them to build my agenda.  Agendas should be used to break down your school work into manageable daily tasks.  In the past I kept my agenda loose, I wouldn’t go by day but week; date the week at the top of my page, create a section on the page for each class, and write in that section what homework, reading, studying I needed to do for that class for the week, then cross off each task as I completed it during the week.  You should also use your agenda to further break down major projects into manageable tasks.  Plan the project one week (for example, picking out a thesis and doing preliminary research for a term paper would fall under ‘planning’), do the bulk of your research another week, write the rough draft the next, edit and write the first and second draft next , put together the final the next.  You should not use your agenda to write down Due Dates, but instead, Do Dates.  This year I intend to use three types of agendas.   I’ll still use my Steno book, but I have two apps that can be used on both Google Chrome and my phone: Week Plan and Producteev.  I recommend looking into them both, or finding one that you like.  There are several good task management apps available, free of charge, which you can set up to track your tasks, and even send you email reminders.  The beauty of online agendas is that you can use it to synch your progress on a group project with other team members.  Decide on an agenda early, so you can test it to make sure you actually like and will use it.

Class Materials – Depending on your major, it may be a good idea to hold off on doing the bulk of your school supply shopping until after the first day, when you have accurate supply lists from your teachers, but there are some staple materials you should already have on hand: an agenda, notebook(s), at least one binder to hold any hand-outs (especially your syllabi), good pens (choose a brand you know you like and a style your comfortable writing with for long periods of time.  I like Sharpie pens personally, ink comes out smooth and they’re slightly thicker than typical pens, better grip), pencils (sharpener if you use old fashioned pencils, extra lead for mechanical, don’t forget a couple extra erasers), index cards for making flashcards, stapler and staples, some kind of book bag, pencil box or pouch to keep your pens and pencils organized and easily accessible, water bottle (I have a BPA free one purchased from the school bookstore, showing off school spirit, important if you have a lot of classes spread over campus or back-to-back), and of course, your text books.  Clothes can also be considered a part of ‘class materials’.  Put together a wardrobe of clothes that you feel comfortable in, sure you can express yourself, but don’t try to impress the other students with your fashion.  College is expensive, don’t waste your time stressing over how you look and how others see you, wear something that puts you at ease and keeps you focused on what really matters: school work.  What you wear helps set your mood.  Last, get comfortable walking shoes.  Campuses are always large, and parking is never close.

Bring a notebook and pen to class on the first day.  Chances are you won’t need it, but you will definitely want it there if you do.  Always be prepared to take notes even if you think you won’t.

** Note on text books: I purchase all my anthropology books, because it’s my major and, hopefully, my future career path.  I can reference previous texts in future classes.  A lot of schools are now offering book rentals. I recommend, to save on money and valuable space, renting only the textbooks that you know you won’t need in later years.  If your bookstore doesn’t offer this option, you can always sell back later, or sell online.  Another great method for saving is ordering your texts used through online sellers, but if you go this route, make sure you purchase your books early enough that they arrive before classes start.  Some professors are sympathetic and may even provide class with the first weeks reading, others will feel you should’ve planned better, and in all honesty, they’d be right.

Mapping Campus – Print out a map of the campus if you need to, visit it a few times to get the lay of the land before classes start.  Figure out which buildings your classes are in, and what routes will get you to them from whatever starting point.  Also, find the Student Union, Cafeteria, Library, and any other landmarks of note.  If you’re spending all day on campus, or at least through a meal time, knowing where the food is can be the most important piece of information in your day.  It’s hard to focus when you’re hungry.

Parking/Transportation – If you don’t live on campus, make sure you have reliable transportation.  I have to get my car to the shop for a checkup within the next two weeks to make sure it survives the semester.  Know your parking, also, where you can park and what’s closest to your classes.  If you need one, be sure to purchase a permit early – sometimes you can get them at a discounted price that way.  Know how long it takes to get to campus, find parking, and get to class.  My campus is roughly half-an-hour away from my home, but I usually end up leaving an hour to an hour and a half early, depending on what time my classes start.  Less people take early morning classes, so I know if I get there half an hour early that I can easily find good parking.  Classes later in the day are more popular, so parking is harder to find, if I leave earlier, I may not find good parking but I’ll have plenty of time to get to class.

Skipping Class – Don’t do it.  The temptation is there, I know, because you’re an adult now and allegedly free to do whatever you want.  However, there is a direct correlation between your grade and your attendance, and real adults know to prioritize what they need to do over what they want to do.  I know better than most that getting to class can be difficult, and that finding motivation day one is not the same as finding motivation day ten.  Having a good routine can help suppress the mid-semester blues, and also, a rest day in the week, but there are always going to be days when staying home in your pajamas eating ice cream and watching movies sounds so much more appealing than listening to Professor Monotone drone on about blah-blah-blah for an hour.  You have to figure out how to keep yourself going to class.  Maybe assign someone as your task master, let mom or dad, a sibling, significant other, child or good friend know your schedule and ask them to put a fire under your bum on those lazy days.  For my sister, it was her boyfriend that never let her slip up.  I don’t really have someone I can assign that task, so I have to motivate myself.  Reminding yourself what your end goal is, either by daily mantra or with little notes can help keep you on track, but what I found that really works is to give myself little rewards throughout the semester.  If I get an ‘A’ on a test, I can watch an episode of my favorite TV show, which I’m otherwise banned from until the semester’s end.  If I get my homework done by a certain time, I can have a sweet, which I’m on probation from due to my getting fat.  And if I go to classes, then I get an hour break later in the day, free from thinking.  If I skip a class, I have to punish myself, that ‘free time’ I get by skipping, I force myself to spend on school work – there is no escape, bwahahahah.

Before the school year starts, swallow this pill: Adulthood sucks, anyone who told you different, lied.

Online Classes –  Are not easier.  Do not fall for that trap.  If you have trouble motivating yourself to show up for class, you will not be able to find the motivation necessary to hold yourself accountable in an online class. Often times, online classes require more time studying than regular classes.  If your reasoning  for taking an online class is that it’ll be easier, it’ll save you time, and you’ll be less tempted to ‘ditch class’ – these are all wrong, and you will be setting yourself up for failure, and should not take an online class.  If you are a good self-motivator, know how to structure a schedule and stick to it, and your reason for taking an online class is because you need the class and it’s the only one that fits your schedule, then, and only then, should you consider taking one.  Otherwise, bear in mind, online classes cost more money than a regular class and are much, much harder.

Last piece of advice,

Participate in School Activities – I was never much of a joiner, I’m still not.  I repelled school spirit just by looking at it.  Yet in college, I learned that by only going to classes, I was inadvertently shafting school to a periphery part of my life.  It became less important than work and socializing.  I wasn’t a college student, I was a person who took college classes.  This hurt me in ways I’ll never be able to fully heal.  When that happens, grades become periphery also.  A good way to keep yourself fully focused as a student and not lose yourself to being a person who takes college classes, is to participate in the student life on campus.  Attend school activities, be it a lecture on campus, a college football/basketball/whatever game, joining a club or campus society, or anything else on the community schedule that catches your fancy.  Maybe even buy a school t-shirt, and wear it on those days when you’re feeling less like a student.

Anyhow, I got more planning to do before the school year begins, so I better get to work.  Hopefully some of these tips were helpful to someone out there.  Good luck to any students looking forward (or not) to the new semester, and that goes double for freshmen.

Adventures in Databasing

Because I have nothing better to do with my time (**cough**write**cough**), I’ve decided to learn how to build databases using Microsoft Access 2010.  I’m using a tutorial I found here.  Thus far, it hasn’t been a fantastic tutorial (read as: a lot of typos and consistency errors), but it’s free and comes with learning resources so I can’t complain too much.  Not to mention, the writer did a fantastic job of making the tutorial as layman as possible, going so far as to assume the reader doesn’t even know how to print a document from her own computer.  In that respect, it is an amazing tutorial.

Right now, I’m taking a break, my brain hurts.  I just got through the first three lessons thinking I’m going to be a diligent student and follow each step to the letter, only to realize it’s covering everything I figured out on my own by just fiddling around with the program.  Oh well, that’s two hours wasted. Time to get drunk.

The first database I plan on making for actual functional purposes in my everyday life is going to be a story-tracker type of thing.  I’ll store projects I’m working on in it by title, include a summary, track them by status and progress, finish date, maybe word count (?), and, dreaming of the (hopefully near) future, even track which publishers I submitted the stories to upon completion and the date it was sent.  It will be glorious!  Just as soon as I figure out some of the programming tidbits…

Building it should occupy my weekend.

The writer’s block I mentioned last post is still there, but it’s crumbling.  I got a chapter written on one story, and half a chapter written on another.  So I think I’m doing good-ish. Oh well. Nothing clears the brain quite like organizing data into single-value categories.

If you do ever feel the need or simply have the desire to learn database making, I do recommend Access.  It’s incredibly user-friendly, and if you have a basic understanding of what a database is and how it should be set-up, you can do fun things with it.  Like, track your stories…or track information in your story, maybe do a chapter database to track which characters are in a chapter, how long it needs to be, setting, tone, etc.  Or you could do a character database if you have a story with an overwhelming number of characters.  Possibilities are endless when you have the knowledge.

Right.  Break is over.

Now where did I leave my head again…?

School has kind of got me in a headlock at the moment.  Midterms are coming up and, following tradition, I’m rushing into full blown panic mode.  I’ve already taken my first Japanese exam and I feel pretty confident about it, I only entirely bullshitted a few of the answers.

I have another test on this coming Tuesday for an anthropology class, the title of which I cannot recall for the life of me, it’s something like human biology evolution behavior whatever.  Hopefully that’s not on the test.  I’ve just recently been hired to take notes for one of my fellow students in the class that suffers from some disability. I don’t know who they are or what their disability is because, according to the Disability Resource Center’s training video, I don’t need to know, they really emphasized that point which I found strange because, to be quite frank, I would never want to meet this person.  It’s nothing personal against them, I just don’t like new people.  I’m a little socially disabled, he/she is note-taking disabled, we’re a match made in heaven.  Sort of.

Okay, not really.  Point is, I think I’ll be okay on that test.

Another exam I have in two weeks, for my Evolution of Culture class, I’m a little worried about.  And by a little, I mean I’m completely freaking out.  It’s all on the inside, of course, on the outside I’m cool as a cucumber, you know, except when I’m ripping someone’s head off for asking me how I’m doing that day or some equally offensive question.  My professor for this class is French.  That’s not really important, I just wanted to note that although he’s clearly been in the states a while as his accent is very diluted, it grows more pronounced the more passionate he becomes in his lecture, which is kind of awesome.  The only real complaint I have about him is that he’s far too intelligent, and I don’t think he understands that the majority of the class is not on the same wavelength as him.  I’m really hoping that his test will be mostly multiple choice, but I sense that this guy is a “short/long essay” kind of test giver, and if that’s the case, I may fail.  Miserably.

My last exam is Human Growth and Development.  I’m torn on that one.  The professor has given us ample study aides, including review sheets and practice essay questions.  Which mean, if I use the study material, I have an incredibly good chance of acing the class.  That’s if I use the study material.  There’s a lot riding on that “if”; motivation and wherewithal and whatnot.  At least in that instance, if I fail I know it’s entirely on me, and I can’t shaft even the most inventive of responsibilities onto the professor.  Darn her and her crafty helpfulness.

Once midterms are over, then I can enter academic catatonia in response to upcoming term papers that I need to write, one of which I screwed myself over on with an incredibly complicated topic choice (“very interesting”, my professor called it, I was just making things up) and the other I haven’t a clue yet what the topic will be about, tune-in next week for the critical meltdown on that one.

Outside of school, I’ve been getting some writing done.  The short story I shared a clip of a short while back is about half-way finished, it’s sitting at 3,600 words right now (I know, I know, what’s taking me so long) and I’ve begun a novel-length project, my goal for which is, starting from March 1st, to write 500 words a day towards this project, and finish the first five chapters by the end of the month.  Thus far I’m a couple hundred words over the goal (just finished my 500 for today), so, you know, yay!

And now, I’m off to study.  Yes, this is my Saturday night, I feel so cool…

Procrastination and Other Drugs

I’m thinking about buying the game Minecraft.  I know I’m a bit behind not owning it, and buying it would make my sister (who is obsessed with the game) so happy, but I’m a tad concerned about my preoccupation with buying it at this particular juncture because of what it means, that it’s that time of the season again.

School is in session and I am all geared up and ready to…procrastinate!

Because my goal this year is to get straight A’s (or four A’s and a “pass”, which is the only “grade” I can receive from my internship), I thought I’d write out my Top Five Ways to Procrastinate, listing them out will help me think up ways to avoid and overcome them, and I figured if I’m writing them out I might as well share them with all of you!

So, here goes nothing.

My Top Five Ways to Procrastinate

1) Play video games.  In my (nonexistent except in my delusional fantasy world) spare time, I’m a bit of a gamer.  Not hardcore, mind you, but I’ve been acquainted with a joystick or two.  My favorites of the moment are Don’t Starve (which is a beta indie game about survival in a Gothic-inspired, demon infested, alternate dimension) and Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition (I played the original and all its subsequent incarnations, sequels and side-stories, so this is an old favorite reborn).  Typically I keep my game play to a reasonable minimum, but when school is in session,  it becomes a chore pulling myself away from the tree chopping and kobold slaying (little bastards come in packs of ten with fire arrows!!).

Breaking the Habit: Right now, my method of putting this procrastination fix on hold is to shift to another addiction on this list, but it only lasts for so long.  Now I’m taking a cue from Felicia Day.  She’s an actress, writer, Youtube sensation, and gamer that I’ve been following on twitter (@feliciaday if you’re interested).  She doesn’t tweet often, I imagine because she’s so busy with running her successful Youtube channel but every now and then she mentions having an “hour to play” some game or another, usually as a reward for having gotten some big project done.  This seems to me to be the best way to motivate myself to do homework and also nip this bad habit in the bud.  I’ll do homework for an hour, take a twenty minute or so game break, then do another hour of homework.  We’ll see how that goes.

2) Browser Window Shopping.  In the digital age, window shopping has never been easier.  I’m already at a computer, my mind is numb from having to read about Life History Theory again, and although I may not have any money, there’s no reason why I can’t simply browse through books on Amazon or build my if-money-were-no-object dream PC on  CyberPowerPC or  assemble my fantasy wardrobe on Modcloth.  Of course, this is all just a gateway drug, because eventually surfing the shopping sites leads me to Youtube, and Youtube leads me to a video of a cat chasing snow and suddenly…suddenly…hours of my time have flown by and what have I been doing?  Watching the, albeit adorable cat, pounce through white powder and not learning a single thing about how Life History Theory ties in to Cultural Evolution and behavior change as adaptation.  Do you see how this is a problem?

Breaking the Habit: This one is tricky.  The web is literally at my fingertips, and I am a few keystrokes from window shopping addict’s heaven.  I can hear Etsy calling my name right now, and gosh darn it all, there are way too many cute octopus necklaces on that site than ought to be legal.  I don’t know why I’m obsessed with the tentacled-beasties, I swear I don’t!!  That being said, I need a way to get on the wagon and fast, I just don’t know what it looks like or where it’s going.  I’m thinking this one might have to be a rubberband trick.  You know the one, put a rubberband round your wrist and flick it every time you go to do the bad habit (run of the mill behavioral conditioning).  Except, instead of a rubberband, I think every time I feel the urge to window shop, I will put my computer to sleep and take a ten minute break (stretch my legs, get a drink or snack).  This should give my mind the obviously much needed refresher, and keep me from getting sucked into a spiraling vortex of cute kitty-dom that will rob me of my entire study time.

3) Watching television or Youtube.  Typically, I’m not much for watching shows.  I usually spend free time writing, nothing worth reading mind you, but it feels more productive  than staring mindlessly at the boobtube watching other people’s stories unfold.  I have a few television shows I watch (like Justified, and can I just say, this season has been so fucking fantastic, I gape at the screen five minutes after an episode ends crying “I can’t wait until Tuesday, I want more now!”), and I take care of watching those off the DVR on my day’s off from work.  The problem is Youtube more than anything, and those amalgamations of insidiousness Netflix and Hulu.  Once again, right at my fingertips…and, let’s face it, all links lead to Youtube.

Breaking the Habit: I have to quit cold turkey.  It’ll hurt for awhile, especially since i just discovered Table Top (courtesy of my all-things-nerd expert, aka, my older sister), hosted by Wil Wheaton.  Youtube is a huge time suck, it’s like a giant, swirling blackhole for time except…theoretically…time goes slower the closer you get to the center of a blackhole, therefore if Youtube were a blackhole and my free time was approaching its center I would have an eternity of time…but this is not astrophysics here, this is a metaphor and I got literary license for it.  I’m going to walk away from this one and I’m leaving Youtube behind with it.

4) Socializing.  In general, I’m not really a social person.  I have friends, family I like to see from time to time (and then immediately get drunk right after) but overall, I’m a hardcore introvert.  I prefer spending my free time alone in my room listening to music and typing up stories or reading a good book.  That being said, I go out so much when school is in.  I book plans every weekend: lunches with old friends I haven’t seen in months, hiking trips and family dinner/game nights.  Anything that gets me out of the house and far, far, far away from my homework is high up on my must do now list.

Breaking the Habit: This one is tricky because it involves friends, family, loved ones in general.  But I have to do it…I have to silence the phone, cut off the text messages and stop making plans.  The mountain can wait, even if I only have two months left on my season pass to Red Rock, my friends can go another month without hearing from me, family dinner is sort of locked in and unavoidable, but I need to focus on getting more homework done earlier in the day, which I should be able to do if I can overcome all the other procrastination techniques on this list.

5) Last, but most certainly not least, Writing.  Yes, at this very moment, I am procrastinating.  I’m actually, currently, supposed to be reading a chapter of my textbook for my Patterns of Human Growth and Development class and then writing up a quick discussion post based on those readings and yet…here I am!  I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but my number of blog posts has increased over the past few weeks and that is because…school started a few weeks ago.  This is probably the worst method of procrastination on this list.  Why?  I can justify it.  I’m a writer.  I maintain (sort of) this blog, and I have the twitter thing I have to every now and then post to in order to justify it’s existence and then I also have to dedicate time to writing my stories in hopes of one day writing something worth selling and…well…maybe you’re starting to see my conundrum.

Breaking the Habit: Or not.  Take inspiration where you can get it, right?  Because if I flunk out of school, at least I’ll always have writing to fall back on…er…well…I guess, taking into consideration that writing is a really difficult industry to break into and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and a lot of rejection before you can even come close to making money you can live off of…right, on second thought, I think I’m going to go hit those books.

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