Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Tag: academia (page 1 of 2)

#ROW80: Momentum, At Last

Happy Sunday, friends! We’re on the verge of a new week (not quite sure how that happened), and I finally feel like I’ve gained the momentum I need to keep rolling with this dissertation. Huzzah!

3 Things I Loved This Week.

1. My family was in celebration mode this weekend, with a combo belated Mother’s Day & 23rd birthday celebration for my little sister. We all went out for afternoon tea at the glorious Rotunda restaurant at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, and had an awesome time.

2. Even though I’m approaching 30, my inner-five year old still likes to come out and play. I still haven’t managed to get rid of my stuffed animal collection, and yesterday I added a new one to the mix. I initially picked it out as a birthday gift for my boyfriend’s niece, who celebrates her first birthday on May 22nd, but the minute I picked it up I knew I wasn’t going to be able to let it go. #trueconfessions


3. My dissertation advisor agreed that I should walk in the June commencement ceremony, since I’ll be defending by the end of the summer. I haven’t wanted to make a huge deal about it–after all, I’m not technically *done*, so why bother? But my announcements came in the mail the other day and suddenly it all feels incredibly real. I’m gonna graduate, guys! And even if it *is* sorta symbolic, it’s symbolism that counts.

(Yup, that’s my not-so-secret birth name you see printed there!)


I finished Chapter 4, “Origin Stories,” a few days later than I had initially intended. But! It is 36 pages long, and over 11,750 words, so WHOOOO.

At the moment, I’m about one week behind on my writing schedule. It’s not terrible, but cross your fingers I can finish drafting Chapter 5 by Wednesday, May 27th. 

This next chapter, “Transplantations,” explores the complex dynamics that Catholic sisters faced when they arrived in San Francisco during the 1850s. As I wrote in my not-so-official summary:

“Transplantations” is a chapter about a bunch of European nuns who sail to San Francisco in the 1850s, only to find a lot of crime, poverty, and pretty deplorable conditions. But because they were a bunch of badasses, they battled religious and ethnic bigots, built dozens of schools, established their own hospitals, and saved a lot of people from cholera.

I’m really excited to work with this chapter, partly because I get to dig into all that archival data I spent over a year collecting, and partly because I wrote about it in an article I published in the peer-reviewed scholarly journal, U.S. Catholic Historian. Given the audience, the article is pretty heavy on historical description, and less so on sociological analysis, but it will provide an excellent jumping-off point for rewriting. (Shameless self-promotion: if you’d like to read the article, here it is, published, once again, under my Very Official Academic Writing Name.)


And there you have it! I’m a little wiped out from burning the candle at both ends last week (up early each morning to write before work, then to bed super late so I could write after work).  Because I clearly write and think better when I’m rested, this week’s goal is to write till 10 pm, read something fun for 30 minutes or so (that way I hopefully don’t have a repeat of Wednesday’s stabby stabbyness), and then go to bed by 11 pm.

I’m a little behind on answering comments and blog hopping, but I am totally rooting for everyone! Don’t forget to wave a friendly hello to the rest of this week’s ROWers.

ROW80: Is It Me, or Are We Living in Warp-Speed?

What do frogs have to do with anything? Not much, I just like the picture. 😛

Whoa there, folks, it’s apparently hump day already. I’m not quite sure how that happened; last I checked, it was Saturday night and I was making tentative plans for the upcoming week. Hmph.

With that said, it’s time for the mid-week ROW80 check-in! Now that we’re almost 3 weeks into the round, I am happy to say that I think I am coming up with a better system for getting things done.

I am a great lover of structure, so I sat down today and hammered out a general schedule for my day-to-day life. The result is flexible, but will allow me to tackle my major priorities–the day job and my creative work– every day.

Here’s a short update on how things are going so far:

Day Job: I’ve set aside 2 hours each day as Sacred Dissertation Time. Starting next week, Tuesdays-Thursdays will be spent digging around in archives, so Mondays and Fridays will be devoted to writing up research memos and revising my proposal.

Writing: I’ve also decided that I need to have my 1 hour #teamsprinty happytimes each day, so I’ve set up the schedule to keep 11 am-12 pm free. This is a really good thing, as I’ve missed most sprints for the last few months, and it always leaves me feeling a little off-balance.

Brainstorming for NaNoWriMo is the only priority as far as writing is concerned. Right now I’m hammering out backstory and character biographies, keeping an eye open for any flashes of inspiration for that elusive middle. Overall, I’m trying to trust the process, and to know that my muse, despite her fickleness, will bring me a feast of ideas when I least expect it.

Exercise: The walking schedule has been amended to 5 miles/day, Sunday-Tuesday and Friday. I’ll try to supplement with Pilates or something on Thursdays, but as far as I am concerned, that’s more than enough exercise for me. 😛

One of the many wildlife sightings on the morning walk.

Social Media: Okay, I dusted off Google Reader the other day and opened it… and almost passed out from the sight of my 1000+ unread blog posts. However, I still think that using the RSS reader is the best way for me to keep up with blog posts at my own pace, rather than trying to constantly catch up with Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Here on Flights of Fancy, I continued with my poetry celebration series with a piece on self-proclaimed “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde. It’s a post that I’m proud of, one that I’ve dedicated to “those who have ever been afraid to speak,” as it addresses Lorde’s work on fear, silence, and the importance of speaking one’s truth.

Self-Care: One of the things that I’ve been reminded over the last couple of weeks is that I have a very, very hard time putting my needs over the needs of others. Part of impetus for creating a daily schedule is rooted in ensuring that I take the time each day to take care of myself first. That includes tackling my responsibilities, along with having time for naps, journaling, and relaxation. Setting up those boundaries and preserving time for myself will, I hope, keep me from getting too run-down and burnt out.


Has anyone else been refining or reevaluating their goals? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to check in with the other ROWers this week.

ROW80: The NaNoWriMo Brainstorming Has Begun!

Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s time for another update for ROW80, the writing challenge “that knows you have a life.” My life, thankfully, has slowed down a bit over the last few days. Progress towards my goals feels fairly steady, and given my love of structure and routine, this is a very good thing.

As I’ve mentioned in past updates, I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming and journaling. I’ve been thinking about quite a bit about creativity, in particular how the creative impulse must be satisfied in order to have a full and healthy life. I’ve also been thinking about the crucial nature of community, like our group of wonderful ROW80 participants.  This quote from WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES by Clarissa Pinkola Estes really hits home for me:

Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.

I love the thought that “a single creative act has the potential to feed a continent,” especially on those days when all I can manage to write is a small haiku, or a couple of sentences towards the WIP. It’s the little stuff that matters, and even if I can’t devote hours to honing my craft, it feels so darn good to write just a little.

And with that, here’s how the past week went:

Day Job: Work in the archives continues. I’ve been writing up research memos based on my findings so far, which are further refining my research interests. This week’s highlight: I got a chance to sit in on a meeting of all the archivists from the Catholic sisterhoods here in the Bay Area. They represented the oldest communities in the area, all of the founded in the 1850s and 1860s. Listening to their discussions of the joys and challenges of maintaining archives was fascinating, and gave me a few dozen more ideas for future research. 😛

Writing: I finally started brainstorming my NaNoWriMo novel! Better yet, I even created a Scrivener file for it and laid out the first 14 scenes, complete with summaries and the bits and pieces of dialogue that keep cropping up in my head. At the moment the story lacks both a title and, er, a middle, but I know how it starts and how it ends. I figure the rest will fall into place by the time November begins.

The poetry challenge continues, and so far I’ve written 11 out of 14. I had a couple of favorites this week: “Stolen Morning,” which was just sweet and gentle and lovely to write, and “The Old Mysteries,” which reminded me how useful poetry can be for expressing those feelings that can’t be spoken or written in prose.

Exercise: I walked a total of 4 days this week, and it feels sooooo good. The trick, of course, is to stick with it and not slack off, the way that I always do. But I have decided to take it one week at a time, and hopefully that will help.

Social Media: I wrote 1 non-ROW80 blog post this week, and I was really pleased with it. It was about what happens when an author falls in love with her creations, and it gave me a chance to celebrate my favorite character’s birthday. 😀

It was a slow week with Twitter, etc., as I am settling in over at WANAtribe (my profile’s here, so feel free to friend me!). I’m retaking Kristen Lamb’s “Blogging to Build a Brand” course, so I’ve been trying to get to know all of my classmates.

Self-care: I’m going into hibernation mode, my way of recovering from all the fun social time I’ve had over the last couple of weeks. There is still lots of writing and soul-searching happening, with quite a few breakthroughs. All of this is very, very good (and will potentially keep me from having a super horrible quarter-life crisis, lol).


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ROW80: Fleet Week and Fairs and Other Exciting Things

I think it’s official: this past few days is the most relaxed I’ve felt in weeks, if not months (maybe years?). After the cray-cray summer, and the even crazier school year, it is such a relief.

The Blue Angels, instagram-style.

I write this post in the midst of one very exciting weekend in San Francisco where it seems like every event in the world has descended upon us: a Madonna concert, two baseball teams (the SF Giants and Oakland A’s) in the playoffs, a football game, Fleet Week, the annual Columbus Day festival, the 2-day “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass” concert… the list (found here, for anyone curious) goes on. I’ve spent the last two days ooohing and aaahing over the US Navy Blue Angels air show (and, er, ogling men in uniform), and in a few hours I’m off to the Castro Street fair, held in the city’s historic LGBT neighborhood.

The Blue Angels flying over the SF Ferry Building

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten much done as far as goals are concerned. Here’s how things have played out since Wednesday:

Day Job: I’m back in the archive, spending 3 hours/week digging through the Sisters of the Presentation’s old 19th century documents. Given that their convent was all but destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, it’s astonishing to see all of the material that has survived. I’ve made my way through the order’s “Book of Customs” (a guide to expected conduct and deportment for the sisters of the community), and another “Guide to Religious Practice”–all very interesting, given my background in prescriptive literature (the topic for my MA).

Haven’t touched that big list of “things to-do by Sunday” that I posted in my last update, so that’ll be my big to-do for next check-in.

Writing: Managed to write 6 out of 7 poems for #OctPoWriMo, and may dash off an extra one at some point so I can meet my goal of 31 poems in 31 days. A number of surprising things have emerged from my pen this week, but there are two that stand out: “Recalled to Life,” where I’ve finally managed to describe the creative drought caused by grad school, and “The Dangerous Weird,” which celebrates all the wacky, weird, and wonderful people in my life.

Exercise: Fell a little short overall–walked 4 days this week, though the last day was only for 1 mile because I wasn’t feeling too well. The total mile count for the week: 13.

Social Media: I fell a little short here as well (I haven’t actually been in front of a computer for too long in the last few days), but hopefully the week to come will be a little more stable.

Self-Care: I haven’t been in front of a computer, but I’ve had a lot of journaling time. I’ve been dealing with some old hurts and demons, and realizing that they’re not as painful as I thought they once were. Putting them to rest and moving forward is my big goal right now.


And that’s the long and short of it! I will say that I am grateful to be enjoying some very fine autumnal weather (October is SF’s warmest month of the year), but I am more grateful that the insane temperatures of 90 degrees and up, which we saw at the start of the week, have dissipated. I think Napoleon is happy as well. He wasn’t too thrilled with the heat, as is plainly clear:

Not a fan of the heat.

Hope everyone’s had a great first week! Don’t forget to wave hello to the other ROW80 participants here.

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While I’ve Been Away: A ROW80 Goals and Update Post

Sometimes we all need to slow down and unplug.

As many of you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty silent on the blogging and social media front over the last few months.

This year has been an intense one as far as my academic career is concerned. There’s been lots of success (earning my long-overdue MA degree, changing my dissertation topic, starting dissertation research, advancing to doctoral candidacy), but it’s taken most of my mental and emotional energy to make that success happen. Add in a major move, settling in at my parents’ house, and lots of personal growth and change, and you have a sure-fire recipe for burnout.

Unplugging has also allowed me to enjoy some gorgeous San Francisco days.

Unplugging from social media and dropping my blog for a while was a huge help in giving me some space to hear myself think.

I have to admit, it felt good not to think about blog topics, or obsess over my site stats, or freak out about the ups and downs of my my Klout score.  I did a little writing, but it was full-fledged pantsing–no worries over story structure or plotlines or character arcs, just pure, unbridled creation.

While I’ve been away, I’ve read many books, cuddled with my cat, visited with old friends, and took lots of time to sit and think. Even more exciting, I’ve returned to my “roots”: writing by hand, complete with vintage dip pens and ink. Nothing makes me feel more whole than having ink-stained fingers and a cramp in my hand from furious scribbling, and nothing makes my ideas flow faster or more furiously than a good brainstorm-by-hand.

The product of my last “brainstorm-by-hand.”

My respite has been good, and it has definitely been necessary. But there’s a downside about disconnecting: losing touch with all of my amazing friends. I feel blessed to be part of a wonderful community, and I can’t wait until I can contribute once again.

With that said, I am delighted to take part in Round 4 of ROW80, a challenge and community that has a special place in my heart. Unlike Round 3, “the ROWnd that wasn’t,” I plan on being much more present this time around. 😀


Day Job: Now that I’ve cleared all the administrative red tape, I’m officially “ABD,” or “all but dissertation.” The goal for this round is threefold: (1) continue my archival research, (2) keep reading and taking notes on secondary sources, and (3) start writing up short memos. By the end of the round, I will also need to complete a 25-page dissertation proposal based on the advice my committee provided in 2 hour grueling but enlightening meeting we had earlier this month.

Writing: There are a few things going on in the world of writing. October will be dominated by October Poetry Writing Month (or #OctPoWriMo), which I blogged about the other day. I’ll be posting 1 poem a day for a month over on my tumblr account, and linking to my favorites here on Flights of Fancy every Sunday.

October is also plotting and development time for NaNoWriMo, and I CANNOT contain my excitement. I’ve done a little work hammering out the beginning and ending of the novel (steampunk/fantasy), and all I want to do is play with it.

I’m breaking down my writing goals by month:

  • October: Write 1 poem each day, and brainstorm the NaNo novel for 1 hour each day.
  • November: Write 1667 each day or die trying.
  • December: Finish PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE.

Exercise: I’ll be walking 4-5 miles a day, 4-5 days each week. If I am feeling particularly ambitious, I may even throw in an at-home Pilates routine as well. Simple, but effective.

Social Media: Okay, this has been my Achilles heel for months, but I think if I start small, I can work my way up to being a social media powerhouse (in my dreams, maybe). I want to do the following:

  • Blog 2-3 days/week
  • Comment/like/retweet 2 blog posts each day
  • Visit 10 ROW80 blogs each week

Self-Care: If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I can’t tackle any of my goals if I’m not taking care of myself. This means that I’m carving out 1 hour each day for myself to use for journaling, free-writing, and meditation. Having a little space will go a long way towards maintaining my mental, spiritual, and emotional health. (I think my Very Lazy Cat, Napoleon, approves of this plan.)


So that will (hopefully) be my Round 4! I’m looking forward to diving in and getting things done, and getting to know all of you. Swing by and wave a friendly hello to all of the other Round 4 participants here. 😀

ROW80: Sunny Days Are Here!

Happy Sunday, folks! The sun is shining in my part of California, and that always leaves me feeling upbeat and excited. I feel like I’ve got a lot to look forward to. My parents will be in town for a couple of nights at the end of the week, as they’ll be moving my sister out of her apartment in LA for the summer. And I’m getting my 1st tattoo on Friday! I’m filled with all sorts of nervous anticipation (mostly about the pain, ugh), but I really can’t wait.

Before I get to my goals, I want to take a minute to hand out the fantabulous Sunshine award. I posted my response to the requisite 10 questions on Friday (you can find them here). I’m passing it on to the following bloggers:

Now, onto the check-in!

Day Job: The dissertation reading continues. Some days, the reading is hampered by anxiety: I am all too aware that my time in Santa Barbara, and therefore the time I have to figure out my research topic, is rapidly dwindling. I’ll hopefully be meeting with my committee members in the week to come. Their insights and suggestions are always valuable, and hopefully they’ll give me some ideas for wrangling my many ideas into something that makes sense.

Writing: Another slow week with writing. Most of the brainstorming I’ve been doing has taken place during undergrad lectures — lots of scrawled scribbles in the margins of my notebook. I really wanted to treat the first few weeks of this round like my own personal NaNoWriMo, and boy, am I failing miserably. I suppose the goal for the coming week will be the same as last week: to figure out exactly what I am capable of achieving in terms of fiction.

Slightly off-topic, I shared 7 random facts about my writing on Friday. For those of you who expressed an interest in Pierce, I will have you know that it has gone completely to his head, and he is almost too smug to bear at the moment. He would like me to thank you all, as he thinks that maybe now he’ll get bumped up in the in-progress queue (and he is quite compelling, so perhaps he will succeed in convincing me). And, yes, I realize how completely crazy this makes me sound, which is why I’m glad that I am not the only writer who admits to having conversations with make-believe characters.

Exercise: I’m still holding strong here, with 4 workout days this week. I wake up each morning looking forward to my walk, though I think my enthusiasm has been improved by the sunny weather and the fact that my clothes are fitting better. 😀

Social Media: I was only able to write 1 blog post last week, but I have 2 scheduled for the week to come.  I’m getting back into the groove to blog reading, which has been so much fun.  I think I made it to 12 ROWers last Sunday, and another 8 or 9 blogs during the week.

Finally, for fun, I thought I’d include a bit about what I’m watching and reading this week:

Films: I saw The Five-Year Engagement on Friday, starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segal on Friday, and it was absolutely brilliant… if you ignore the fact that it basically sums up my biggest fears about my professional life in academia: having to relocate somewhere very cold, dealing with “trailing spouse” syndrome, etc.

Outside of all that, I totally recommend the movie. There are lots of awesome shots of San Francisco (enough to make me crazy homesick, and very happy that I’m moving back in 2 months), many moments of hilarity, and a great ending.

Fiction: I finished His Good Opinion, Nancy Kelley’s lovely retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective. For those of you who ever wondered why Darcy falls for Elizabeth, and what’s going on in his head that leads him to make such a lovely transformation by the end of the novel, you should definitely check it out.

Non-Fiction: I’m working my way through Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacies for the course I’m taking on gender and religion. The book is a collection of wide-ranging essays that

examine why Roman Catholicism and other branches of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam accepted slavery for so many centuries, and they consider how slavery shaped gender and sexual ethics in these three religious traditions. They also consider how Jews, Christians, and Muslims can draw upon the compassionate values of their traditions to overcome the lingering effects of slavery.

The essays are incredibly thought-provoking and fascinating, and raise lots of important implications for modern-day issues like marriage, employment and labor, the criminal justice system, welfare, and many other social institutions.

So that’s my life at the moment! Be sure to swing by and cheer on the other ROWers this week.

How are things going for the rest of you? Anything fun to look forward to in the weeks to come?

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ROW80: Down the Rabbit Hole of Academe

As the title of this ROW80 check-in attests, this last week has been all about the day job and not much else. I spent my weekend doing lots of reading, lots of thinking, lots of note-taking, and in my downtime, lots of videogaming (I am simultaneously replaying Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, which really deserves a blog post all its own). Here’s how things played out:

Day Job: I’m all caught up with the work that piled up while I was sick, which is great. Better yet, I’ve embarked on all of the reading and thinking work associated with the dissertation. There’s now a lot of information in my head; I’ve spent the weekend reading a ridiculous array of books and articles. I can now tell you about the early modern period and the construction of the English “Christian gentleman,” the ways in which modern-day upper class white men in France and the United States conceptualize social status and morality, and the importance of French phenomenology in current feminist thought.

I am not only shocked that my brain hasn’t yet exploded, but that it seems to be hungry for more. We’ll see how long this productive mood lasts, but cross your fingers that it continues indefinitely, because I have so friggin’ much to do in the next 6 weeks. In the meantime, there will be lots of tea-drinking (as tea is essential for the production of scholarly knowledge, lol) and lots of thinking.

Writing: I wrote roughly 800 words this week, not nearly what I wanted to get done. My class schedule this quarter conflicts with the #ROW80 writing sprints 3 out of 5 days in the week, which means I am going to have to figure out where I can fit writing into my (semi-) daily routine. I am coming to the conclusion, however, that the day job is going to have to be my priority during this round. Not sure how/if that translates into changing my writing goals, but we’ll see.

Exercise: I worked out 5 days in the past week, which is absolutely fantastic. The daily walk/at-home Pilates session is starting to become a habit that I look forward to. My clothes are fitting slightly better, which is also a good thing.

Social Media: This is another fail, along with the writing this week. This is actually my first time touching my laptop in 3 or 4 days, which is crazy for me. So, yet again, I’ve got something to work on in the week to come.


So that’s my life right now: lots of books, and lots of unwinding through escapist fantasy of Mass Effect-land. Hopefully there will be more writing in the week to come, but in the meantime, I am retreating back into my wee rabbit hole. 😛

How’s everyone else doing?

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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. 😀

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.


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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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.


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. 😀

*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.


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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