Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Month: January 2012

A Heart Attack of Cute: Bath Time with Baby Sloths

Last week, I think we more or less came to the agreement that baby sloths are among the most adorable creatures in the animal kingdom. However, my sleepy sloth-in-a-box is nothing compared to this clip from Animal Planet, showing the orphaned of baby sloths of Costa Rica’s Sloth Sanctuary having a bath.

Yes, that’s right: teeny, tiny, squeaky little sloths in the midst of bath time, and curling up to nom on a few hibiscus flowers afterwards (did you know that hibiscus flowers are “like sloth chocolate”? No? Now you do).

The only question that remains is whether or not I can find a way to jet off to Costa Rica to volunteer at the Sloth Sanctuary.¬†I somehow feel like my life won’t be complete till I can cradle a baby sloth in my hands. *melts a little inside*

As always, I am deeply indebted to Jezebel for rounding up some of the best animal videos that can be found on youtube. If you’re ever in need of a dose of cute, be sure to visit their #squee stream.

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ROW80: Steady As She Goes

Hugh Jackman

A completely gratuitous picture, because I can. Hugh Jackman (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

It’s been a steady, solid week of productivity here at Flights of Fancy, though far less intense than last week. I write this week’s ROW80 update while in the midst of an impromptu Hugh Jackman mini-marathon. I am refreshing my memory of his filmography circa 2001: Someone Like You, Kate and Leopold, and if I can stay awake, X-Men. It is “research” for the Hugh-themed posts I have planned for my birthday month of February… or so I keep telling myself. ūüėÄ

I’ve hit just about all of my goals for the week, though I didn’t attack them with the same fervor from last week. That was partly due to the weather — Monday was super rainy and dark, and I stayed inside and had a “manflesh”-themed movie marathon (The Two Towers, 300, and Gladiator), and the last few days have been like summer in January, with absolutely perfect beach weather. Thursday was my work-at-the-beach day, yesterday was a grading-at-Starbucks day, and today was all about cleaning my apartment. Still, I managed to get things done.

Here’s my week in review:

Writing: I made it to all of this week’s ROW80 writing sprints, and while I had a few slow days, I wrote a handful of new scenes for my steampunk WIP. There’s still lots of work to be done with outlining and plotting and the like, so in the week to come, my goal is to make planning a priority. However, I can’t be too disappointed with my output for the week: 5705 words. Not too shabby!

Day Job: My thesis advisor gave me the green light on my draft, and I’ve sent it off to the other members of my committee. The early word is that I should be able to defend by the end of the quarter (early March). In addition, my advisor sent along her initial feedback. Overall, it’s positive, with observations of my “stunningly beautiful prose” and my intellectual contributions. However, she has a number of critiques for me to keep in mind for the future of the project, including any articles I may write.

I’ve been a little angsty about the critiques, if only because they remind me of all the work that still needs to be done in order for me to create scholarly work that is worthy of publication. I’ve also been more than a little stressed because I’m going to have to take over my advisor’s class for a couple of weeks, since she will be out of town on a family emergency. I’ve guest-lectured before, but this… this will require lots of planning and lecture-writing and whatnot. I have a few days to pull together the first class (on WWII-era cinema and women’s roles in the military), but I’m definitely a little nervous. Cross your fingers that I survive!

Social Time: I saw Underworld: Awakening¬†with my friend Melissa last Sunday, and I was supposed to go to a birthday party last night, but it got canceled… until the cancellation was retracted a couple of hours later, when I was already in pjs with a stack of rented movies to watch. But I’m off to see Haywire¬†tomorrow, which should be exciting, as I’m hearing lots of great things about it.

Exercise: I worked out 4 times this week, and I’ve been on track with my healthy meals and snacks. I treated myself to In-n-Out on Thursday, and grabbed an Its-It yesterday since it was hot, but the good news is that the taste of fast food hasn’t left me with crazy cravings for more. I’m still eating at least one salad a day, and my need for snacking has decreased big time. Better yet, the at-home Pilates is getting easier, and I can once again touch my toes without feeling too sore. Progress!

50/50 Challenge: I read Angela Wallace’s ELEMENTAL MAGIC this week, a lovely urban fantasy/paranormal romance that I really enjoyed. I also discovered Redbox and rented a whole bunch of movies, including Crazy, Stupid, Love¬†(I think I FINALLY understand the Ryan Gosling obsession now), the 2011 Conan the Barbarian (Jason Momoa’s bare bottom is probably the only good thing about the film), and Real Steel¬†(ohhhhh, so good, and Hugh has STILL got it. So.Damn.Hot.). I’m 10 books ahead of schedule, and a few movies ahead too, so that’s nice.

-oOo-

In case you missed it, our beloved #teamsprinty, the ROWers who sprint together on weekdays (11 am PST!), were featured in my “Wicked Wednesday” post, which was a battle between two of Orlando Bloom’s beloved characters, Legolas Greenleaf from The Lord of the Rings¬†and Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean. At the moment, Team Elf is winning with 10 votes, followed by those of you unable to choose between (7 votes). Team Pirate is trailing with only 6 votes. If you’re inclined, head over and cast your vote today, or just pop over and check out the comments. They are probably the most entertaining and hilarious I’ve ever received on the blog.

Don’t forget to swing by and visit the rest of our wonderful ROW80 participants!

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Monday Inspirations: Sloth in a Box

There has been an unfortunate dearth of fuzzy creatures at Flights of Fancy of late, but I aim to change that. It’s Monday, and if anyone is feeling as blah, crabby, and stressed as I am (or heartsore¬†from yesterday’s football losses — my poor 49ers!), you need a bit of a pick-me-up.

That’s where the precious sloth-in-a-box comes in: 1 minutes and 17 seconds of unbelievable cuteness. How can your heart not melt like butter at the sight of its round, blinking eyes or its smiling eyes? The adult sloth pictured below is adorable, but there’s something about the baby that is even harder to ignore.

Sloth in the Amazon

How can anyone say no to a face like that? Image by Praziquantel via Flickr

On this rainy Monday morning, I feel a bit of kinship with the little creature, beset with a case of the sleepies as it tries to crawl out of its little box. There are so many things to accomplish on my to-do list… but — yawn — my bed is looking mighty inviting…

Happy Monday, all!

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ROW80: Burn, Baby, Burn

Yes, folks, that’s right. I’m on fire this week, as far as my ROW80 goals are concerned.¬†Overall, I’ve been doing a decent job with structuring my day so that I have enough routine to get things done. My day is now built around early morning exercise and the ROW80 writing sprints (11 am PST!), with something research and/or dissertation-related in the afternoon.

I’ve been keeping my apartment clean, cooking myself meals most evenings, and feeling like a sane, healthy individual. I’m not 100% sure how long this is going to last, but in the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy myself.

Here’s how the week played out:

Writing: I managed to take part in the daily ROW80 writing sprints Monday-Thursday (Friday I was foiled by my dying laptop charger, sadly), and wrote between 1000 and 1500 words each day towards TELL ME NO LIES. I had a minor breakthrough on Wednesday, when it occurred to me to start focusing on individual elements of the novel, rather than try to edit and write linearly. At the moment, I have laid out the major plot points, and I’ve started to fit the milestones for individual character arcs and romance subplots on top of those.

Pulling apart each strand of the novel is proving to be incredibly helpful, as it allows me to do a better job of pinpointing how characters evolve and change, as well as understanding how their problems relate with the larger social context (yeah, that’s the sociologist in me talking). There are all sorts of “factions” in my steampunk Barbary Coast circa 1895: politicians, crime lords, industrialists, moralists, law enforcement… My brash, loud-mouthed saloon singer is caught up in the midst of them, and while it’s her¬†story I’m telling, I can’t ignore the other tensions at work.

In the week to come, I hope to work my way through both romance subplots (as much as I tried to resist, there’s a love triangle in this story), as well as give some thought to the actual murder mystery¬†itself. How do my hero and heroine go about hunting for a killer? I’m actually not all that sure, so figuring it out is top priority.

Day Job: I started brainstorming dissertation ideas on Tuesday, but haven’t had a chance to do more than read through half an article, and thumb my way through a book (actually, it’s the book that I wish I had written, and am kind of bitter that I didn’t) for research purposes. However, I did get a lot accomplished for my research assistantship, which my advisor is quite pleased about. I’ve tracked down a few locations for pertinent archives, and taken notes on a couple of journal articles and books. The gauntlet of grading begins next Thursday, so I will try to get more dissertation stuff beforehand.

Social Time: I’m still going strong here. I went to a concert Sunday night and met up with some grad school friends for drinks Friday night. Even better, I had a chance to visit with my friend, fellow writer, and former high school biology teacher, Eva Gordon, on Friday afternoon.

Eva is writes paranormal romance and science fiction (I’m lucky enough to be one of her beta readers), and we had a great talk about books and writing, as well as all those things she taught in her biology class that still stick with me today: werewolves, forensic investigation, viruses and plagues, and countless other things. It was definitely one of the highlights of my week.

Exercise: I am shockingly on target here. I worked out 5 days this week, and mixed up my routine with a 4 mile walk (Monday), my 50-minute at-home Pilates routine (Tuesday), and thirty minutes on the glider for the remaining three days.

I’ve also been tackling nutrition as well. I took some of the advice that you all gave me last round when I asked for healthy snack ideas. Instead of buying chips, pretzels, or cookies on my last grocery shopping trip, I picked up baby carrots, apples, almonds, and crystallized ginger. Better yet, I’m upping my water intake, having at least one super-tasty salad a day (spinach, strawberries, avocado, and goat cheese is my current fav), and trying to limit portion sizes.

50/50 Challenge: I devoted most of my efforts to research and writing this week, so my reading rates have declined quite a bit. However, I read THE STORY OF THE SISTERS OF MERCY IN MISSISSIPPI, a 1933 history of the order of Catholic nuns and their experiences as pioneers in 19th century Mississippi, along with AGAIN by fellow WANA-ite, Diana Murdock. I definitely recommend AGAIN for anyone who enjoys romance, time travel, and reincarnation, as it was beautifully written and incredibly enjoyable.

No new movies to report on, though I did start watching the 2006 BBC miniseries, The State Within, about terrorism and conspiracies, starring Jason Isaacs in a rare non-villainous¬†role. Better yet, I am off to see the latest Underworld¬†film tomorrow. Nothing like vampires and lycans and action to complete my weekend. ūüėĬ†

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Monday Inspirations: Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Image via Wikipedia

Today the United States celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr., the activist who helped to galvanize and lead the Civil Rights movement, and who was instrumental in the legislative changes that ended legal segregation in the American south. King was a remarkable orator, a proponent of non-violent protest, and an advocate for social justice. In the years before his death, his focus broadened to include the injustices of war and poverty, as well as racial inequality. He spoke out against the Vietnam War and took a stand against both racial and economic disparities in the United States as part of the Poor People’s campaign.

His dream of an egalitarian America is one that is readily apparent in his speech,¬†“Where Do We Go From Here,” delivered at the 1967 meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Coalition.¬†Racialicious has posted the¬†complete transcript,¬†along with the video clip that I include below, but I want to walk through a few of the passages that I find to be particularly important.

In the speech, King acknowledges the many victories that have been achieved through the Civil Rights movement. However, he also turns his attention to the future, and contemplates the action that will have to be taken in order to alleviate all forms of suffering.

The message that he offers is one that is strikingly progressive, one that demands we question our whole society and realize ‚Äúthat the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together.‚ÄĚ

He continues,

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about ‚ÄúWhere do we go from here?‚ÄĚ that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, ‚ÄúWhy are there forty million poor people in America?‚ÄĚ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I‚Äôm simply saying that more and more, we‚Äôve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life‚Äôs marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, ‚ÄúWho owns the oil?‚ÄĚ You begin to ask the question, ‚ÄúWho owns the iron ore?‚ÄĚ You begin to ask the question, ‚ÄúWhy is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that‚Äôs two-thirds water?‚ÄĚ These are words that must be said.

While King calls for “restructuring the whole American society,” he makes it clear that communism isn’t the solution, nor is violent riot and protest. Instead, he calls for action, for plans to create jobs and to alleviate the suffering of the poor. He calls for the integration of schools, the destruction of the slums and ghettos, and the celebration of diversity. All of this, however, must be tempered by love. Turning to the Bible and invoking Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he reminds his audience,

you may be able to speak with the tongues of men and angels; you may have the eloquence of articulate speech; but if you have not love, it means nothing. Yes, you may have the gift of prophecy; you may have the gift of scientific prediction and understand the behavior of molecules; you may break into the storehouse of nature and bring forth many new insights; yes, you may ascend to the heights of academic achievement so that you have all knowledge; and you may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees; but if you have not love, all of these mean absolutely nothing. You may even give your goods to feed the poor; you may bestow great gifts to charity; and you may tower high in philanthropy; but if you have not love, your charity means nothing… What I‚Äôm trying to get you to see this morning is that a man may be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. His generosity may feed his ego, and his piety may feed his pride. So without love, benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.

[vimeo 11154217]

-oOo-

“Where Do We Go From Here”¬†is not only deeply resonant almost 50 years after its original delivery, but also serves as a poignant reminder that King’s dream has yet to be fully realized. The ghettos and slums that King railed against still stand, and in many cities across the country, informal racial segregation still occurs, both in residential neighborhoods and schools. Institutional racism is still present within our society, with systems of power like the legal system and the educational system working against the interests of the people. The current economic recession has also made plain how deeply¬†class and racial inequalities are intwined together, as we can see in the Center for American Progress’s latest “by-the-numbers” report, which shows that young people and people of color are among the hardest hit.

Quite clearly, there is more work to be done, and yet we have to remember that so many dreams once deemed impossible have come to pass: the ending of slavery, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the election of a black president, and countless other victories that have occurred.¬†Rather than feel daunted by the work that is before us, I take heart in King’s words:

Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

I take heart knowing that there are countless people across the country who are working towards justice in their communities. We cannot underestimate how even the smallest actions can bring change, how we can use our voices — and our words — to stem the tide of inequality and injustice.

I encourage everyone to check out Colorlines’s post, “How to Become a Racial Justice Hero, on MLK Day and All Year Long,” because it contains ways that we can all carry on King’s legacy of social engagement. We can all become “Racial Transformers.” All we need, according to Terry Keleher, is “an open mind, open heart, open arms, and often, an open mouth.”

I leave you all with one of my favorite Civil Rights-era songs, Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” A change can, will, and must¬†come, and we are the ones who are going to create it.

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ROW80: It’s Business Time

It’s my 3rd check-in for ROW80, and I seem to be making some progress with my goals! I’m still not completing everything that I’ve pledged to do, but this week was another strange, rather jumbled one. I spent all of Tuesday traveling (that 5.5 hour drive is no joke), Wednesday unpacking and prepping for class, and Thursday and Friday recovering.

One surprise that happened is that I had to drop the one class I was going to take, as it overlapped my TA-ship by 50 minutes and I wasn’t able to get permission to leave early. That means that I will now only be going to campus Wednesday nights for class, and 2 hours Tuesday mornings for office hours. I now have a lot¬†of free time on my hands, and that makes buckling down to a regular routine all the more imperative. Starting this week, it will be Serious Business Time, and I will hold myself to my goals.

Here’s my week in review:

Writing:¬†I’ve decided that for this round, I want to accomplish 2 things with writing: (1) finish a rough draft of TELL ME NO LIES and (2) figure out how PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE ends (I want to be able to finish my draft of PPT during Round 2). My goal is to rewrite and edit the first 4 scenes of TMNL, and I got started with that through the ROW80 wordsprints on Thursday and Friday. I wrote 1486 words on Thursday and 1631 words on Friday, which isn’t too shabby at all. I also spent a couple of hours brainstorming and reading more of THE BARBARY COAST for research purposes.

Day Job:¬†I finished the first draft of my thesis last Sunday, and gave my advisor a hard copy on Wednesday, despite technology’s attempts to thwart my efforts (I had to deal with not one, but two, on-campus printers running out of paper, along with a paper jam and other ridiculousness). She’s promised to have it back to me ASAP, so I have more editing in my future (although she tells me that she thinks the changes will most likely be minimal).

I actually have a full plate when it comes to school, including brainstorming dissertation topics, working on a conference paper proposal, and preparing a grant proposal. I’m also a research assistant for my advisor, and so I need to set aside time to do some work for her. Not taking classes is actually a blessing in disguise, provided I can buckle down and get things done. In the week to come, my focus will be on my research assistantship and dissertation brainstorming.

Social Time: I’ve been really good at this! Monday I had a ‘farewell dinner’ of sorts with one of my high school besties, Tuesday I went to a ‘welcome back to town’ late-night happy hour with a couple of grad school friends, and this morning I had a brunch/work/shopping outing. I’m really proud of myself, though, because I invited a few friends out for drinks at my favorite bar tonight. Given that I rarely initiate things (I have been burned in the past by people who say they will come out and instead flake), this is progress.

Exercise:¬†There’s been incremental improvement here. I went for a 2.5 mile walk on Wednesday, and a 4 mile walk on Thursday. I had wanted to throw in a couple of days of at-home Pilates, but going to bed late and not getting enough sleep meant that when I woke up Friday and Saturday, I was less than inclined to work out. The goals for next week: go to bed by midnight, wake up by 7:30, do some form of physical activity at 8 am.

50/50 Challenge: I finished three absolutely wonderful books: HER OWN DEVICES by Shelly Adina, STEAM & SORCERY by Cindy Spencer Pape, and HER DARK BARON by fellow ROWer, Nadja Notariani.

I also got started with a little movie-watching: The Peacemaker¬†starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman (meh), Peter Pan¬†starring Jason Isaacs and Jeremy Sumpter (cutesy, a little cheesy, but Jason Isaacs is really hot), and The Warrior’s Way, which is this absolutely amazing collision of ‘East-meets-West’ — it’s about a disgraced Asian assassin who flees to a tumble-down Wild West town to escape his vengeful clan, and ends up learning about love and life and things beyond murdering people. It’s bloody and gore-filled in a sort of comic book way, but I loved¬†it.¬†Geoffrey¬†Rush has a small role as a drunken former outlaw.

-oOo-

Is everyone else getting down to business time, or are you flailing about like me? To encourage everyone pursuing Serious Business, I leave you with the New Zealand duo, Flight of the Conchords. Their song, “Business Time,” might be one of my favorites. ūüėÄ

*insert requisite ‘put-down-beverages’ warning*

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ROW80: The First Check-in of 2012

It’s my first check-in post of 2012! I’m at the end of my month-long winter vacation, and preparing to head back to school on Tuesday. ¬†I’m reluctant to leave my parents’ house — I’ve had a wonderful break, and I hate saying goodbye to them — but I am trying to remember that I have slightly over six months remaining in Santa Barbara, and then I will be back here for at least another year, if not two.

The last week has been a bit of a muddle in terms of tackling goals; I imagine that once classes start up, it will be easier to maintain a normal schedule. ¬†Here’s what I’ve managed to get done in the meantime:

Writing:¬†Nothing new here, though I finally received my copy of THE BARBARY COAST, Herbert Asbury‘s 1933 “informal history of the San Francisco underworld” (Asbury is also the author of THE GANGS OF NEW YORK, which Martin Scorsese adapted into film). I’m excited to read through the book, as it’s much-needed research for my steampunk tale, TELL ME NO LIES.

Day Job:¬†I had promised my advisor that I would have a complete draft of my thesis to her around December 15th, but between family, the holidays, friends, and getting sick last week, I fell behind in my work. I am happy to report, however, that I am roughly 2-3 paragraphs away from completing the dratted project. There are still holes that will need to be filled in before I defend the final version, but for the moment it is mostly¬†done. It is just over 25k, which is about 75 pages long, and while I can’t help but glare at it (this is what happens when one has been dragging along the same project like a ball and chain for over 3 years), deep down I have an inkling that it is not altogether terrible work… and might actually be rather good.

Social Time: Ironically, this is the one area where I have excelled this week. On Monday my friends and I went out for a sing-along showing of West Side Story, followed by cocktails and sushi. ¬†I’ve seen one of my other friends twice this week for study parties/marathons of Big Bang Theory, my new favorite television show. And my mom and I have gone out a few times for shopping and eating out.

Social Media: I fell behind here — no new blog posts besides Monday’s ROW80/Inspirations post, and not much by way of blog-hopping, except for the ROWers I was able to visit on Monday and Tuesday. This is another area I’m hoping will improve once I get back to school and fall into a routine.

Exercise: Another place for lots and lots of improvement. I haven’t gotten any exercise this week (my mom is currently yelling at me to get a move-on, so I really need to take her advice), but tomorrow I will hopefully pull it together and get started.

50/50 Challenge:¬†This is actually a goal that I forgot to include during my first ROW80 post. I’m taking on the 50/50 Challenge, where participants pledge to read 50 books and watch 50 films during 2012. I haven’t watched any new movies yet (except for maybe half of Contagion, which was okay, but not nearly as good as ¬†Outbreak), but my reading has shot through the roof in the last week, thanks to my brand-new Kindle. My progress can be found on my shiny new 50/50 Challenge Page.

I’ve read a total of 8 books since 2012 started, including Diane Capri’s wonderful CARLY’S CONSPIRACY (a must-read for anyone who enjoys murder mysteries and lady sleuths), Shelly Adina’s steampunk novel LADY OF DEVICES (I’m currently reading the sequel, HER OWN DEVICES and loving it), and Suzanne Collins‘s HUNGER GAMES trilogy. I am narrowly resisting the urge to write in caps about how obsessed I am with THE HUNGER GAMES, and Katniss, and Peeta (swoon), but suffice it to say that I have not been this taken with a series since I read Karen Marie Moning’s FEVER books last fall.

Next up on the TBR list is the 2nd-4th books in Diana Gabaldon’s LORD JOHN series (the spin-off from the OUTLANDER books), followed by a few novels by my WANA friends: AGAIN by Diana Murdock, DRAWING FREE by Elena Aitken, and ELEMENTAL MAGIC by Angela Wallace.

-oOo-

There’s definitely room for improvement, but in my defense, I am slowly easing my way into this round of ROW80 (thank goodness we have 80 days!). How’s everyone else doing so far?

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New Goals and A Bit of Inspiration

Today, I’m combining Monday Inspirations¬†with my inaugural post for Round 1 of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge “that knows you have a life.”

First up is a summary of my goals for this round, which runs from January 2nd – March 22nd, with a bit of inspiration in the form of the magnificent Neil Gaiman at the end.

THE GOALS

This is my third round of ROW80, and I’m so excited to get started. I’ve been missing all my wonderful ROW-ers (you guys rock so hard), and I’m also delighted to welcome a couple of great writers into the fold: Sony and Willowfaerie. They were two of my first writing friends when I got started last year, and Willowfaerie in particular has been instrumental in helping me to pull PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE together. Swing by and show them both a little love!

I’ve got a total of 5 goals in place for this round, a few of which look pretty similar to previous ones:

Writing:¬†I’ve got two unfinished WIPs taking up space in my head, and countless ideas for shorter projects whirling around. I want to continue writing, editing, and polishing up PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE and TELL ME NO LIES, though at the moment I don’t have a concrete battleplan in place. My goal is to spend an average of one hour each day¬†on writing-related tasks, including (1) a complete outline for PPT, (2) an overhauled outline for TMNL, and (3) world-building for both projects.

Day Job:¬†I have a lot to accomplish in the remainder of the school year, chiefly defending my MA thesis and steaming forward on plans for the dissertation. I will need to spend two hours each day¬†on research-related tasks, including reading and note-taking. I’ve found that I have gotten abominably lax at writing¬†on a regular basis, so I am going to try to write 2-3 research memos¬†each week, that way I can keep track of how my ideas are developing. If I’ve learned anything with ROW80, it’s that forcing myself to write something¬†on a regular basis is better than waiting ages for inspiration to strike.

Social Time: I wasn’t going to add this in as an official goal until last week, when I was visiting with my best friend and her aunt looked at me and said, “You are too much alone.” I started to protest… and then I realized that she was right. I’ve been¬†trying¬†to go out every so often, but I haven’t really been making much of an effort to invite other people out. With that in mind, I am aiming for¬†one social event each week.¬†It can be as simple as grabbing tea with a friend, or hitting up the happy hour circuit on Friday nights, but I have to do¬†something¬†so I’m not wallowing away in solitude.

Social Media: I’m going to aim for¬†four blog posts each week, along with¬†1 hour each¬†day¬†of author platform/blog-hopping fun.

Exercise: I integrated an exercise component into last round’s goals with mixed results. Over the holidays, I’ve come to some important conclusions: it’s imperative that I adopt better practices with both exercise and eating habits.

It’s not just about wanting to fit into my favorite pair of jeans, although that’s definitely an incentive. Over 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), an¬†endocrinological disorder that affects somewhere between 15% and 20% of women. Its root cause is insulin resistance, which results in all sorts of yucky effects like infertility and excess weight, but studies have shown that the effects can be reversed by regular exercise and a healthy diet.

I’ll be writing more about my experiences living with PCOS over the next few months, but my goals for the moment are the same as last round: exercise 4-5 days each week. The addendum to that, of course, has to do with diet: I need to ease off the salts and sugars, and aim for lots more fruits and veggies. Training myself out of bad habits is going to be difficult, but it has¬†to be done.

-oOo-

As always, I expect that my goals may fluctuate over the next 80 days, but I think these general benchmarks will be handy to help me move forward and make 2012 a wonderful year for success in all levels of my life.

And now, your weekly dose of inspiration…

Neil Gaiman’s “New Year’s Benediction” is from 2010, but his words continue to be powerful. I’ve reproduced the text below, for anyone who has problems with the embedded video.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously.

I hope you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now – I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself.

– Neil Gaiman

Don’t forget to wave hello to the participants who have signed on for Round 1!

 

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