Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Month: November 2014

ROW80: Holiday Preparations In Progress!

Happy Sunday, friends! This weekend I’m gearing up for the Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday. My sister and I are in charge of cooking this year, and we’ve just finalized the official menu. We’ll be making Patti Labelle’s famous macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and candied yams from the Pioneer Woman, and what will hopefully be a super-tasty apple crisp.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to look something like this on Thursday afternoon:

nomming

Here’s how the rest of the week has gone:

Dissertation

I’ve been feeling yucky most of this week, so I’ve opted to sleep in instead of waking up for my early morning writing sessions. With that said, I wrote about 200 words today–not much, but it’s a decent start to this chapter.

For the week to come:

  • Continue work on this chapter. I’m going to treat it like a zero draft, and just write it like I’m writing notes to myself–no worries about academic jargon or “sounding smart.”
  • Finish note-taking on the Sisters of the Holy Family’s official annals. I’ll be heading back to their convent archive in a couple of weeks, and I want to be caught up with my research.

Blog

It’s week 3 of my ROW80 check-ins, and that’s WAY better than I’ve done for most of this year, and probably most of last year. I also pulled together a non-ROW80 post: a silly Monday pick-me-up with the sweetest little sloths ever.

For the week to come:

  • Keep up the momentum of commenting/visiting everyone else’s blogs. I’ve slacked on this, but with the long weekend coming up, I’ll hopefully have more time to do this.
  • Finish my post for Friday. I will (fingers crossed) be launching a “Friday Reads” book review series. I’ve drafted a post, but I need to put some finishing touches on it.

Self-Care

I finished a book this week like I was hoping–A DANGEROUS INVITATION by Erica Monroe, which was AWESOME. I’ll be posting more about it on Friday. I haven’t been journaling, partly because I’ve just been so darn tired, and those magazines I bought last week? Still haven’t read them. Claiming time for myself, and trying to be deliberate in my self-care efforts, is really darn difficult.

I’m going out of town for Thanksgiving weekend to Carmel for a relaxing, romantic weekend. That’ll hopefully be a good excuse to hang out at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, stroll on the beach, and drink some wine in front of the fireplace.

For the week to come:

  • Read another book! I’m only 15 books behind for my Goodreads challenge, and I’ve got a ton on my Kindle that I haven’t even touched.
  • More journaling. My allergies seem to be (sorta) under control, and I only work Monday and Tuesday this week, so I will hopefully have a little more time to write.

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And that’s it for me! For my friends in the US, how are your Thanksgiving preparations coming? Any exciting plans for the long weekend?

Don’t forget to say hello to everyone else checking in for the week.  Best of luck to everyone working towards a NaNoWriMo win!

A Gratuitous Sloth Post, Because I Love You

Because it’s Monday, and I love you all, here’s a much-needed pick-me-up: a gratuitous sloth post, because sloths chase all my blues away, and because I haven’t posted a single sloth picture since February 17, 2013 (!!!!!). That’s a long, long, long time to go without sight of the cutest little monsters in the western hemisphere–and, perhaps, the world.

This week, may you be as happy as a three-toed sloth on bath day, or cuddling in a bucket,  or chilling with its favorite stuffed animal.

ROW80: Getting Into Gear

Happy Sunday, friends! It’s been a slow start to the weekend for me, as I spent most yesterday bundled up in bed with an unexpected round of chills and sniffles. I’m not sure what it is, but as soon as the weekend rolls around, my body breaks down and all I can do is rest till I feel better. The rest, I’m sure, is necessary, but I can’t help but get irritated about all the plans that get derailed as a result.

20141116_115531-1

Because of that, today will be my writing day. I’m all set up and ready to go: I’ve got a bagel and one of those fancy new Chestnut Praline lattes from Starbucks (my early verdict: pretty darn tasty), and even better, I’ve got a pitcher of winter sangria chilling the fridge. Right now I intend to use it as a reward for accomplishing everything on today’s to-do list, but there is every possibility that I may cave and start sipping it a little earlier than I intend. 😛

Beyond my weird 24 hour bug, the last few days have been good ones. I actually wrote a non-ROW80 post, a short piece about classical composer Aaron Copland, who would’ve celebrated his 114th birthday on Friday. And yesterday I made the Target run that I’ve been wanting to do for weeks now, and picked up all those small things that are total essentials in my life. Brand new mascara FTW!

Given that I just jumped into the ROW80 ring on Wednesday, I don’t have a ton of progress to report, but I’m proud of my tiny baby steps:

Dissertation

First, a recap on my project, since it’s been a while since I’ve discussed it. My dissertation is a sociological study of the Catholic sisterhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, between 1850-1925. Women religious during this period established some of the earliest social service institutions (orphanages, hospitals, schools, etc.), and they did it while facing countless challenges–lack of funds, opposition from secular and religious authorities, the sexism that ran rampant in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, among others.

More specifically, I’m looking at these sisterhoods from a sociological/institutional logics perspective, which means I’m interested in questions of organizational identity (how sisters defined themselves, as a group and individually), authority/autonomy (how they asserted themselves within a space that could be intolerant to women in authority), and anything else that may emerge as pertinent.

So right now I’m trying to push forward with my writing, and take a closer look at the data I’ve collected so far. It feels so daunting, but every little bit counts.

For the week to come:

  • Start a list of notable historical moments for each religious order. Here, I’m looking for any conflicts that sisters had with male authorities, both secular and religious; moments when sisters were forced to reevaluate and define their purpose, mission, and goals; and anything else that touches on the questions I mentioned above.
  • Work on a chapter. There’s a section I’ve been trying to write, about the roots and origins of the Catholic orders in my study, looking specifically on the women who founded those orders. I don’t want to spend too long on this, but I do want to get it done so I can send my advisor something in the next month.

Blog

I made my goal of 2 posts for this last week, so yay! Even better, I’ve got a post lined up for tomorrow that I’m super excited about. Hint: there are sloths involved. And I’ve been tinkering with themes and widgets and whatnot. I think I’m pretty pleased with how things are looking around here.

For the week to come:

  • Keep answering comments and making the rounds to visit all of my other friends. It’s so nice to see what everyone is up to!
  • Finish at least one post, to be published either this week or next.

Self-Care

Self-care has been sort of enforced for the last day or so, because I’ve been feeling yucky. But I’ve also done some practical things, like stock up on extra lotion to keep at my boyfriend’s house (no chance of eczema outbreaks because I forgot my lotion at my parents’!), and pick up a couple of magazines so I can relax a little.

For the week to come:

  • Read a novel. I’m 16 books behind in my Goodreads 2014 challenge (50 books or more by the end of the year!), but I think I can catch up. I’ve got a few historical romance collections on my Kindle that I’ve been dying to read, and I also just picked up K.B. Owen‘s latest book in her Concordia Wells Mysteries series, UNSEEMLY AMBITION.
  • Write daily. Setting aside 30 minutes to write each morning has made a really big difference in keeping me centered, so I’m going to try and keep that up this week.
  • Maintain my exercise regime. My mom and I have been taking Hot Hula every Monday, and going to Zumba every Tuesday and Thursday. I’ve been pretty sporadic in my attendance, but I’ve been going regularly for the last few weeks. I am finally seeing a difference in how my clothes fit, which means I feel way more committed to the routine.

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So that’s the state of affairs right now! I’m looking forward to starting this week with a little more clarity and serenity than last week. Don’t forget to stop by and see how the rest of the ROW80 gang is doing!

 

Remembering Aaron Copland, American Composer

Today would have been American composer Aaron Copland’s 114th birthday, which gives me an excuse to finally blog about one of my favorite classical artists of all time. Most people may not realize it, but they already know one of his most famous works, Rodeo, from the “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” commercial that seemed ubiquitous in the 90s. Remember this?

Copland was born in Brooklyn on November 14, 1900. His story is, in many ways, a strikingly American tale: the son of Jewish immigrants who later became a composer of music that encapsulates the American spirit. He studied music in Paris between 1917 and 1921, part of the larger community of American expatriates including Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. When he returned to the United States, he collaborated with other young composers, and entered Alfred Stieglitz’s community of artists. Copland, like many other artists of his generation, was inspired by Stieglitz’s belief that “the American artist should reflect ‘the ideas of American democracy.'”

"AaronCopland" by Gov - http://memory.loc.gov/music/copland/phot/phot0098v.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AaronCopland.JPG#mediaviewer/File:AaronCopland.JPG

“AaronCopland” by Gov – http://memory.loc.gov/music/copland/phot/phot0098v.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

In keeping with that ideal, Copland’s work, particularly between the 1930s and 1940s, was deliberately accessible, written in what he referred to as the “vernacular” style. The landscape of the American West became an inspiration for many of his pieces, including ballet scores Rodeo and Billy the Kid, as well as his Fanfare for the Common Man and the Third Symphony.

Copland wrote an impressive array of music,  from symphonies and ballets to film scores and even an opera. My favorite, however, will always be Appalachian Spring. In it, he draws on the famed Shaker melody, “‘Simple Gifts.” At just over 30 minutes long, it is a slice of heaven. Below is my favorite recording, performed by the San Francisco Symphony and led by composer Michael Tilson Thomas. If you’d like to see footage from the original 1944 production of the ballet, check out this video clip.

One of the coolest things about Appalachian Spring is the way that it has been used and remixed by other artists to give rise to new works, in the same way that Copland himself draws on the Shaker song. Echoes can be heard in Shaker Loops by modern composer John Adams, as seen in this performance from the Ciompi Quartet below.

Likewise, composer John Williams pulled from Appalachian Spring when he wrote”Air and Simple Gifts” for President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, where it was performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Anthony McGill and Gabriela Montero.

Copland is remembered for his talents as a composer and conductor, as well as his role as a teacher and mentor for countless young musicians. It was the latter role that led to his nickname as the “Dean of American Composers.”

For me, Copland’s work evokes both nostalgia for the past and unbounded optimism for the future, music that is not only timeless and beautiful, but evokes the dignity of the human spirit. I leave you with his Fanfare for the Common Man, introduced by Leonard Bernstein, and conducted by the composer himself (music starts at 2:02).

Anyone else a fan of Copland’s work? If you’re interested in more information about him, including photos, news clippings, correspondence, and other archival treasures, check out this awesome collection from the Library of Congress.

ROW80: Self-Care is Self-Preservation

Once again, I’m dropping back in to wave hello to all of my wonderful friends taking part in this season’s ROW80 challenge. I’m especially excited because it is NaNoWriMo time! Even though I’m not participating this year, there’s something so intoxicating about the energy that abounds throughout the writing world during this time. I’m hoping a little of that energy rubs off on me.

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Back in August, I identified some of my major pitfalls when it comes to writing and productivity. I was hoping it would jumpstart me to get back on my research/writing/blogging game, but instead I realized something else that’s been nagging at me: my lack of self-care.

Splitting my time between my parents’ house and my boyfriend’s home has left my bedroom is shambles–half-empty suitcases on the floor, clothes strewn about, papers and books everywhere.  I wear stress on my body, visible in weight I’ve gained from a lack of healthy eating, and in the rashes that have sprung up on my arms in legs, partly from nervous habit, and partly because I don’t take the time to moisturize and apply the necessary medicine.

audre-lorde-selfcare

I’ve stopped writing, whether poetry or prose or silly blog posts. And I’ve stopped dreaming (unless you count regular nightmares). That lack of dreaming hurts the most, I think. The visions of the future that I used to entertain have morphed into something else altogether: fears about never finishing my PhD, or worse, that I’ll finish and never find a job that captures both my passion and expertise.

And so that is what I’ve been trying to conquer these last couple of months: to care for myself, to take time in the evenings to read magazines and journal and listen to music, to listen to my body when I need to rest, to give myself the space to listen to the stirrings of my heart. I’ve been reorganizing my room and eliminating the clutter, the better to give myself a sanctuary that will encourage serenity and dreaming.

After all, as the great feminist scholar, poet, and warrior Audre Lorde once said, self-care is self-preservation–a profoundly radical act. Because if I expend all that I have and all that I am for others, without taking the time to nourish and restore myself, there is no way I will ever be able to accomplish all that I’ve dreamed. More importantly, there will be precious little to support the happiness and joy I’d like to feel in my day-to-day life.

These are my challenges, then: to overcome fear, to recognize and tend to my needs, to rediscover my passions. I’ll be pinning this Audre Lorde quote over my desk to stay motivated:

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

For this round of ROW80, I want to take steps to living  fully, deeply, and deliberately. Here are a few concrete ideas for how to get there:

Dissertation

To date, I’ve written an introduction + chapter one. My committee has been encouraging me to write about my findings, so I’m juggling a few things here:

  • Reviewing my data: I’ve got to identify the historical examples that help illustrate my overarching arguments, which involves wading through all my notes to figure out what to flag.
  • Reading secondary literature: I’ve got a stack of books that my committee recommended when I met with them in October. Getting through 2 per month would be phenomenal
  • Writing, writing, writing. There’s a chapter I’ve been dying to write which is already partly done. If I could buckle down and finish it, and then have an outline of that “substantive” chapter done by the end of this Round, I’d be really pleased with myself.

Blog

I’ve neglected my poor blog for way too long. I’ve got 7 unfinished drafts that I’d like to polish up and post, and I’d like to get back to reading everyone else’s posts. I’m aiming for 2 posts per week: 1 ROW80 update, and 1 non-ROW80 post.

Self-Care

This is simple, and also the hardest. I want to use my weeknights for myself, and to have time on the weekend to rest and recharge. Bottom line? The goal is to do the following: Journal. Clean. Read. Write. Sleep.  

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And there’s where I’m at this week. I’m excited to put these goals into motion, and even more excited to catch up with everyone. Be sure and cheer on the rest of our ROW80 participants!

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