Quote of the day: Deadlines

Deadlines make us see deficiencies, not accomplishments. – Jean Balconi

I said this as encouragement to an acquaintance who beat herself up over an external deadline. She had an impressive list of all the things she’s done so far, but she couldn’t appreciate her own hard work. She reminded me of a game character running towards a goal while the timer is counting down in the corner and obstacles keep popping up in the path.

When I say something remotely profound, it usually applies to my situation. This case is no different.

My own deadline is looming: August 15. That’s the date for my rough draft to be complete. I’m not at the freak-out point yet, but I’m giving short shift to the reading and reflection parts of my DIY Writer’s Summer Camp. I returned Ender’s Game to the library unread because I’d rather write.

During the last two weeks, I wrote thousands of words in between day-trips, guests, and errands. Unfortunately, the content is slim: three versions of the same dialogue. I didn’t re-write, mind you. I wrote three different takes on the dialogue from scratch, each time implying a speaker’s intention or opinion.*

I’m quite pleased with the results, since each version has parts that will make a better whole. But I have thousands of words and a dozen chapters to go. And I must mention the obstacles on the horizon: my original antagonist has changed to a helper, the main antagonist hasn’t reared his stupid head yet, and the outlined ending stinks worse than the final entry of a series.**

Now I’m off to face the day – and the deadline.


*If you’re wondering where I got the idea, it’s not from any book I’m using. I was at a teacher’s meeting about reading and the facilitator asked us to look for different implied bias in the same text. So it’s a reverse-engineered writing exercise.

**I needn’t name one. You, dear reader, are already remembering a book series or a TV program that disappointed or enraged you.

The struggle is ALWAYS real

I had deja vu while reading this article. The writer Brook Bolen is annoyed with the facetious phrase “The struggle is real” and especially with copycats who mimic aspects of working-poor life. She even goes so far as to make things like the tiny house movement, beard-wearing (!?!), and shopping at thrift stores into markers of pretend poverty.

Her leading anecdote unfolds thus: A co-worker referred to Bolen’s lunch as a “struggle meal” – a meal made when the cupboard is almost bare and the paycheck is a week off. I empathize with Bolen because I, too, have faced mockery for  eating  Suicide Rice.*

However, she uses this molehill to build a mountain. To wit:

“Utilizing a word [struggle] that denotes hardship in a way that essentially parodies it is hurtful and offensive to those people whose lives are defined by real struggle; it also functions to neuter the word and divorce it from its power. Herein lies the most dangerous aspect of this linguistic cultural appropriation: it can render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker.”

What irony! Guess what else can “render words ineffectual and wrest power from the speaker”?  Using a term like “cultural appropriation” that means “takes something that belongs to a particular cultural group” and applying it to something that merely has personal meaning.

Bolen complains of fetishization of hardship, but it’s not just an upperclass trait. In college, I knew several other girls whose families struggled economically. One wore her family’s socio-economic status as a badge of self-righteousness.

Continue reading

Changing shifts at The Factory

I don’t often write about the Young Human Factory, especially not seriously. I think it’s unkind to use the Products’ foibles as blog-fodder. They are works in progress.

But last week the boss sent me a lengthy e-mail as a “matter of professional courtesy” – a nice euphemism for “you have no choice in the matter.”

No, I’m not losing my position as Quality Control Inspector. But someone else is taking over my International Baccalaureate classes. Continue reading

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Kondo, Marie. Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Trans. Cathy Hirano. Berkley: Ten Speed, 2011. Print.

Summary: A cheery little book that walks the reader through culling one’s belongings

Now that I’ve had a chance to “do the book” aka the KonMari Method, I can review it. It’s quirky, written like a conversation sprinkled with anecdotes. I enjoyed it, particularly Kondo’s folding method, which helped me organize La Casa de Tontería’s  linen closet of doom. (However, she did a poor job of explaining it. See related link below.)

I’ve read many books on organization (not to mention having time-management seminars and work-efficiency training – oh, the corporate world!)  Yet I still found interesting variations on the theme.

Sort By Category

Forget moving clockwise through a room or tackling one space in a weekend. Kondo calls for dealing with one category at a time, starting with clothes and ending with sentimental items.

Reading this, I felt nostalgic for the days of spring-cleaning my bedroom, where everything but my bicycle “lived” with me. I used to empty my closet and dresser onto the bed, try everything on, and ta-da! only the best were kept.

Kids will love this, and her Rule of Thumb regarding papers: Throw them out!

However, adults have to hunt for like items all over, including storage areas for off-season clothes. Kondo is tough about getting  everything from the category.

“You can forget about any clothes you find after this. They’ll automatically go into the discard pile.” I let them (my clients) know I’m quite serious. I have no attention of letting them keep anything found after the sorting is done.

Yikes! Long-time readers will understand how I felt when I decided to use the KonMari Method on books.

Everybody Thing Get On the Floor! (Walking Dinosaurs and Shaking One’s Booty are optional)

Yes, the floor. My klutziness instantly recognized a good way to trip and die!  Imagine the challenge it poses for parents of small children. Not to mention cluttered people already have difficulty clearing floorspace.

However,  Kondo insists on it.  Items in their natural environment (shelf, closet) “remain unseen, just like a praying mantis still in the grass, merging with its surroundings” (p. 87). She notes that if books are already stacked on the floor, moving them to another location will allow the tidier to really see them. Continue reading

Spring Cleaning & Lent

I know it’s not Spring. In fact, a beautiful layer of snow covered everything just a couple days ago. But if I don’t start now while it’s cold, I’ll never get it done when it’s warm and the garden beckons the weeds call me out to rumble.

Last week I spring-cleaned the bathroom. That involved exploring the depths under the sink. The collection of lotions and other concoctions surprised me. Truth is that I put things there that I seldom use, like hair gel and the fragrant body cream that someone gave me for Christmas 2012.  Out they went!  The bathroom doesn’t look any different, but it’s better inside.*

Lent, which starts next week, is rather like Spring Cleaning: no huge make-over of body or habits, but some straightening out on the inside.


 

*This weekend it’s the laundry/utility closet. Space is tight and there’s little room for anything but lint and dust, but I suspect when I start pulling things out, it’ll be like unpacking the Tardis.