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I didn’t like math when I was growing up. I wasn’t especially great at it, either. Not horrible, but not fantastic. After a semester of precalculus in college, in which I got a B through hours upon hours having the material re-explained to me in office hours, I threw math aside and never looked back.
Then, I moved to Austin, where I made friends with mathematicians, physicists, and programmers – all people who were doing cool things with math all day long. Over the past three-and-a-half years (I cannot believe I have lived here this long), I’ve come to see just how absolutely fun it is, and what it can do. Seeing the movie Moneyball on Thursday night only reinforced that feeling. I want to be able to assemble winning baseball teams using formulas!
It’s not that I had bad teachers when I was in school. But they were never quite able to make me generate enthusiasm for the subject. When I was solving equations and calculating compound interest, I couldn’t find the fun in it. Now, I wish I’d been able to see it back then. It still might not have been an easy subject, but I wouldn’ t have seen it as a chore to slog through, a requirement I had to put up with so I could focus on what actually interested me. I might have been inspired to really focus on the formulas and boring word problems in hope of getting to do something more fun.
So, since I’m not busy enough (ha, ha), I’m going to learn. Of course, I haven’t studied any sort of math at all since 2003. I don’t even remember most of the basics. But I’m going to re-learn, no matter how long it takes. And then I’ll get to learn the good stuff.
I’m excited. It’s been a while since I took up any sort of serious academic undertaking. This should be fun. Challenging, but fun.
Greetings from our new townhouse! After two-and-a-half years at one apartment (a nice change from moving every year while I was in school), it was time to leave. Management at our old place changed, we weren’t thrilled, and it was time to move on. Fortunately, we found a townhouse in our price range only 3/4 of a mile east (not an easy task in a city that’s growing increasingly expensive). 950 square feet, a tiny yard, and a barbecue pit (courtesy of the previous tenants, who also left a few pretty dishes in the dishwasher). We got up early this morning and got the furniture, degus, clothing, food, and books over to the new place. We still have a bunch of stuff from the kitchen to pack up, but we’re taking a break until tomorrow, because 7 solid hours of moving was enough for one day.
I’m especially looking forward to having a yard, and turning the small space into a garden. I’m inspired by Christine Hennessey, who calls grass “nothing but a missed opportunity.” Maybe next week I’ll take a cue from her and start prepping things for spring.
In other news, it’s been an interesting month in terms of my creative work. Although I had planned to spend this month working on a large nonfiction project in my free time. And then, at the last minute, I got an idea for National Novel Writing Month. Unfortunately, about a week in, I wasn’t really enjoying myself. Between a day job, dance, and preparing to move, getting the minimum 1,667 words per day in was stressful and eating into my free time. While 1,667 words isn’t that many in the grand scheme of things, with my schedule the way it was, NaNoWriMo was feeling like a chore rather than fun. Nor was the story coming together the way I wanted. I was also neglecting my poetry as a result, and starting to resent NaNoWriMo for pulling my attention away from that. So, after about two days of deliberation, I decided to call NaNoWriMo a wash for this year.
This wasn’t easy for me. I don’t like giving up for any reason. But, as I said, I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. It’s not that it was challenging, but I was getting something out of it. I was not having fun. And life is too short to not enjoy my free time. I’m glad I attempted NaNo, and I’m glad I started the story. I’m just going to take a cue from Chuck Wendig, who notes that sometimes, the story just isn’t ready, or you’re not ready for the story. My focus is on my poetry right now. If I’m doing prose, I want to work on nonfiction. This just isn’t the write time for me to work on this piece. I don’t plan to let it sit in hard drive limbo, though. I’m not going to give up on a project I think is cool. I’m just not going to kill my love for it trying to write a draft of it by the end of November.
As I mentioned yesterday, I successfully completed October Unprocessed. I went 31 days without a single processed food. Sometimes, it was difficult. Sometimes, it was frustrating. But it was also probably the healthiest thing I have ever done for my body.
Mid-month, I complained about being busy, overworked, and not having energy to cook. I wished I could fall back on frozen or fast food to get me through a rough week. But then a few days after I wrote that post, I realized that being stressed and tired should give me more incentive to cook unprocessed food for myself. It’s when I’m busiest that my body needs the most nourishment. This month has been about constantly nourishing myself, because I deserve that kind of nourishment, most of all when I’m burning the candle at both ends. I’m willing to bet that my decision to only eat unprocessed food is part of why I didn’t have an immune system crash when Austin Rocks happened and I didn’t sleep for about 3 nights.
Because this went relatively well for me, I plan to continue being unprocessed five or six days a week. Preferably six, but some weeks (like when I’m traveling for dance competitions), five will be more feasible. This will allow me to eat very healthy food, but also get to indulge in restaurant food every now and then. It was kind of a drag to be at trivia on Saturday and not be able to order any fries. The occasional indulgence is nice.
I’m really glad I tried this challenge, and even happier that it worked out so well. It gave me back my passion for cooking and has made me more innovative in what I make. So thanks to Andrew of Eating Rules for organizing this. It changed my life.
I was slightly less productive in October than I was in September, but only slightly:
- Wrote 41 poems
- Submitted 7 poems
- Submitted my chapbook manuscript to two competitions
- Started assembling a folder of potential poems for my next manuscript
- Started a spreadsheet to keep track of writing guides and whether or not they helped me
- Figured out a good work/life balance. Finally. That only took six months.
- Completed October Unprocessed (I’m typing this as I eat a completely unprocessed yet utterly decadent mushroom and zucchini lasagna).
- Continue with my regular plan of daily poetry writing, weekly poetry submissions, and biweekly chapbook submissions
- Continue developing my folder for the new manuscript
- Begin a long nonfiction project I’ve been thinking about since April
- Do research for the coolest horror story ever. I can’t wait to write it. But it’s the kind of thing I want to prepare for first.
- Survive the move to our new townhouse relatively unscathed
This weekend was theoretically a relaxing one. But it proved once again that I thrive on being busy.
Last week was frustrating for a couple of reasons, the main one being that my wonderful friend Reesa is back in the hospital. She’s been battling a recurrence of breast cancer for pretty much the entire year, and was hospitalized for pretty much the entire summer. Last week, she went back in with a blood clot in her lung, as well as a staph infection. There’s been a lot of worry. But on Friday, she was allowed to start getting visitors again, so Jon and I went over there after dinner, and spent several hours talking and laughing. It was a relief, after a week of worry, to just be able to see Reesa. She’s still sick, but getting to have a conversation with her really helped me relax. I can’t wait until she’s back home.
I had a relaxing Saturday morning, which consisted mostly of revising poetry, before going to lunch with members of the Austin Writergrrls, which is a writing group I belong to. We had some great conversation about creative work, day jobs, and life in general. I always feel encouraged and inspired after spending time with them.
After lunch, I went to my salon for a haircut and some new color. While I enjoyed the bleach blonde look, it was frying my hair. So I ended up with this:
I love the way it came out, and I like the idea of changing my hair color to match the seasons. Good thing I have plenty of time to ponder a spring look.
After my haircut, I went home and began to put a Halloween costume together. I am usually really lazy and don’t bother with Halloween, but this year, Jon put together a Breaking Bad costume, and it was awesome:
He even shaved his head to complete the look. I was only slightly traumatized. He looks good with a shaved head, actually. It just took some getting used to.
Anyway, I decided I actually wanted to dress up, so making liberal use of safety pins and tape, I finagled one of Jon’s suits to fit me. Sort of. Next year, I’ll start planning more than 4 hours in advance. Anyway, one suit and a hat later, I ended up as Don Draper, and together, Jon and I were AMC Original Programming. We also came in 9th place in trivia, which was awesome considering that we didn’t have any of our teammates with us (as they were off doing other Halloween things).
On Sunday morning, Jon made migas, we did errands, and I made a double batch of tomato sauce. Then I spent the afternoon at a small going-away gathering for one of my dance friends who is moving to Seattle. I’m going to miss him, but he’s keeping his rental property in Austin, meaning he’ll be back for visits and such.
After the party, I came home, made a delicious pizza, and spent the evening chilling out before turning in early. A great end to a great weekend.