Productivity

(All my posts are just for fun. If I talk about something medical, ignore it. Never take my advice on anything. Truly.)

Everyone has trouble focusing. We live in a world where there are numerous interesting things to do, and it only takes seconds to get access to those interesting things. As a chronic multitasker myself, I am completely guilty of separating my focus onto three different tasks at once. For example, the other morning I found myself reading, watching television, and answering texts messages at one time. I should probably have been ashamed, but I wasn’t. In fact, I was proud of myself. Here I was, maximizing my time, using different gadgets, and keeping in touch with my family and friends.

The truth of the matter is, we can’t really focus on that many activities at once. The television show I was watching, I had seen hundreds of times before, and the messages I was writing didn’t require much effort. You could say I was only really soaking in the book.

Being a graduate student has affected me strangely. Some mornings I get up, drink a cup of coffee, and immediately get to work. Other mornings, I sleep until 12 PM, go for a two hour walk, clean my house, and never once think about my thesis. (For all of you writing your dissertations, trust me, I understand that I have no right to bitch. But here we are.). It is infuriating, and I am scared every day that I won’t ever graduate or get my writing over with. My focus goes from place to place, and I never really seem to be able to grasp what I am trying to accomplish at any given point.

There are a couple of extreme measures I take to sit down and truly focus:

1. Throw my phone away. Or put it in another room. Whatever it is, I get rid of it. There are too many cool things on my phone: games, social media, good conversations, books, comics, and music. If anything is going to draw my focus away, it will be my phone.

2. Lock myself in the most boring room I can find. Honestly, this is usually some place in the library, or (no one tell my advisor) the archaeology lab in the evening. Unless there are people in the lab, in which case I hightail it away from there.

3. Never open an internet browser unless it is connected to JSTOR, some peer reviewed journal, or the thesaurus. NEVER.

4. If you take ADD medication, don’t skip that day. If you don’t take ADD medication, start taking it now.

5. Find something that relaxes you, yet keeps you productive. I have two go-tos. Incense and tea. I know, you all think I’m a useless hippie. But if your relaxing agent is saying “bro” out loud to yourself or chugging a 40 of Coors, go for it.

6. Don’t underestimate the power of taking a ten minute break. As long as you come back to what you were doing before, your mind can re-set itself, and give you a more long-term spurt of productivity.

7. Ignore your pets. This sounds cruel, but here’s how it goes in my house. I will be sitting around, playing on the computer all day. Or reading a book for fun. My cats will ignore me during this time- they will sleep or play with each other or run up and down the hallways. But the minute I bring up a Word document, they decide it’s time to get in my lap and be incredibly cute. And then I have to make the decision: do I pet them and immediately ruin my day of productivity? Or do I look into their sweet little eyes, pick them up, and throw them onto the floor? Damn them. Damn them to hell.

8. If you are having relationship problems (and I know you all are, so don’t act like this isn’t a thing) stop thinking about them for five fucking seconds. Jesus, as if you weren’t defined by more than just your pretty face and your inability to communicate with your partner.

9. Try to be excited about your work. Again, this sounds like a given, but there are times where I immediately sabotage myself because I am tired of what I am doing. Or I don’t see the point. Don’t feel bad about having those doubts, but try to remind yourself why you were drawn to the subject in the first place. How did you feel at the beginning of your project? (I know you had a schedule at the beginning of your project. How did that go……)

and

10. If you miss a day, don’t freak out. There is always tomorrow.

What are your productivity tips?

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I’m Back!

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I know I am the queen of hiatuses. (Hiati? Nope, that does not sound right.) Usually it’s because of moving or traveling or just pure, unadulterated laziness. In this case, it was a delightful mixture of all three.

I’m not guaranteeing I’ll keep up with this blog all of the time. But, as I say in after all of my extended blogging breaks, I’ll try really, really hard this time. Promise. Cross my heart or whatever.

So, I guess I should let some of you old friends know changes in my life. Judson and I broke up (I know this might be a common on again/off again theme, but this was a real thing. For real. Broken up. I even took him off my About TSDC page. So, yeah, it’s official). Of course I am a little sad about it. More than a little, probably. But I am a huge denier of pent up feelings, and I push them aside with good ol’ Faulknerian alcoholism/walking/writing combinations. As someone important probably said at one point, “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself.” I find this quote complete bullshit, but I’m using it as my mantra while I try to not strangle anyone who mentions Judson’s name to me.

I am also out there, dating, again. I mean, you know who you are (and I like you lots and you know all of this already). It is incredibly fun and rewarding, and I hope that dating continues to come naturally to us. Don’t let my sarcasm, cynicism, and emotional immaturity scare you away.

My parents are fine, in case you were wondering.

Besides relationships, I am still working on this master’s thesis. And by working, I mean avoiding. I write here and there, collect artifact data until my eyes bleed, and drink coffee as if caffeine were air. I read a lot of books. So, um…that means it’s going well right?

I tell myself every day: you are not doing enough creative writing. And that’s the truth of it. I should be pouring over short stories, editing the shit out of them. I should probably even write one now and again. But after forcing myself to exercise, forcing myself to be productive at school, and trying to find a part-time job…yeah. I get tired. And start watching the fantastic television that has been made in the past year. Seriously, they are doing a great job in that realm of entertainment.

But, somehow, through all of this…stuff…I’m super happy. Go figure. Apparently I was meant for challenges. Boredom does not sit well with my mental state. I feel super positive these days; maybe due to denial of my real feelings as mentioned above? All kidding aside, something in my brain is going well. I have good friends, good family, and I really am starting to like growing older. I have a good feeling about this year. Want to see my resolutions? [Oh yeah, that’s right. I still love lists.]

1. Travel to at least two new countries. I would like for them to be in Asia or South America, but let’s get real- I just want to travel.

2. I would like to start sticking to a schedule. This is my resolution every year, but I’ve already been doing it for a month, so gods’ speed.

3. I would like to learn about new subjects completely unrelated to my field. I want to learn languages, become fluent in the basics of astrophysics, and maybe be able to talk about the economy without grimacing.

4. Learn to be comfortable doing things alone. You are 26 fucking years old. You should be able to eat at a restaurant without a make-out partner.

5. Get a dog. Heee.

6. Read more. You only got to like 25 books last year. Shame.

7. Stop worrying about your weight. Shit, you look great! [I have changed losing weight to just becoming comfortable with who I am. Seems more feminist, easier, and, honestly, I lose more weight when I’m not trying to because….*fumes*]

8. Use way more social media. Because it makes me look cool. And because my phablet is completely awesome.

9. Write, write, write, write, write….

10. Follow your intuition, gut feelings, spontaneity.

And last of all, but most importantly,

11. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is learning. What would happen if you accomplished everything you wanted easily and without some struggle? First of all you’d be bored. Secondly, you’d be boring as a person. You’d never learn.

I honestly think I can stick to these. They aren’t too ambitious, and if I don’t do well at them, I won’t be devastated. Anyone got some good ones they have already been sticking to? Or if you have any news feel free to comment. I miss all of yous.

Ten Random Tidbits

I like lists. A lot. Lists are awesome and amazing, and….um….they are great. So with that profound introduction here are ten tidbits about me. I know it sounds egotistical (which is what makes it fun!), but if you actually read them, I guarantee there will be some links you want to click–maybe about books or video games or other things you might like.

And if you want to include your own lists at the bottom about you, feel free to do so 🙂 Making lists about yourself can make you nostalgic, help you remember old things you had forgotten, or just help you learn new things about yourself.

Ten Random Tidbits about Taryn

1. I am deathly afraid of tornadoes.

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Look at that thing and tell me you wouldn’t rather die in any other way possible. That swirling tissue of connectivity from the sky to the ground is demon-spawn, hell-created, is responsible for almost every nightmare of pure and unadulterated terror I have ever had. Now, I live in North Carolina. We are not known for our tornadoes, although some do sweep by occasionally. But every time there is even a tornado watch, you can find me in my neighbor’s bathtub (they live on the first floor), with my nose pressed into the NOAA website on my phone’s browser.

I am not happy about my storm cowardice. In fact, I love thunderstorms. Give me a good ol’ safe bolt of lightning any day. Put me in a car with hail. Even hurl hurricanes at me during the season while I live on the water. Just don’t mention the unpredictable mass of fear that is a tornado.

At least my cowardice has an explanation. From about 6-8 years old, I lived in Iowa City, IA. Now, there’s a place that knows its tornadoes. We even had a cellar specifically designed to save us from these awful debris-spraying funnels. I think that cellar is part of the problem. It wasn’t no freakin’ cool hideout. It was a goddamned fallout shelter, with bare, stony walls and cans of shit I wouldn’t eat if the zombie apocalypse rained down on me. It smelled like rust and a little like being buried alive. Also, my parents are a little nuts. I’d say nuts in a good way, but not in this case. We lived in a huge, broken-down home near acres of cornfield, and you could see tornadoes coming from miles away. So they used to stand us in front of the tornadoes and TAKE PICTURES IN FRONT OF THEM. What the fuck. Good parenting at its best.

2. I played basketball in high school, and rode the bench like a champion. 

I use the term “played” very loosely. I was a power forward; big and ungainly, with no business running up and down a shellacked death-trap. I could shoot relatively well, but I was too scared to foul anybody, and if I had to dribble the ball- god have mercy on our souls. Fortunately, my high school team was too good to give a shit about me, so I spent most of my hours cheering on a team that led us to nationwide victory; and I proudly had nothing to do with it.

3. My first real kiss happened on the beach, under a full moon, when I was sixteen.

I hate cliches. Which is what makes it so weird that my high school life was just one, giant walking one. It was a perfect, sweet, actual kiss (not the grab-ass you play when you’re in middle school), and was before I turned into a total evil, slut-creature that all eighteen year olds become. Again, a cliche in the making.

4. I am obsessed with casual, online adventure games.

It is no secret that I am a PC gamer. I like other platforms, but I have just always had a knack for PC controls, and so that is where I stay, forever locked into my gaming niche. And I love adventure games. I grew up on Syberia, Sherlock Holmes, The Longest Journey, and Nancy Drew. But with growing technology, a new genre of completely useless, stupid gaming has evolved: casual gaming. And I am addicted.

Look here, here, and here for free games. Yeah, that’s right. They might be point-and-click. They might include little square boxes that pop up when you kit the I key. They might involve vapid characters, useless logic puzzles, and terrible graphics. But, damn, they are the best time waster out there. [I am being harsh on these games. A lot of them have amazing characters and graphics. But, let’s face it, most of them don’t.] (Look here, here, and here for some examples of great characters/graphics). My favorite casual, online adventure games are the ones where you go steadily along, finding items and unlocking codes, until you hit the grandaddy of all puzzles and you are stuck for five hours. You realize you should eat something, do schoolwork, or maybe just take the dog for a walk. But you can’t. Because by God you will figure out how these three separate colors fit together to match the treasure-poster on the wall.

5. The first book to change my life was Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.

Sophie’s World was far from the most poignant book I read, and it was far from being the best. I don’t say that with animosity or irony; it is just a fact that later on in life, there would be books which would touch me more deeply than the writing in Gaarder’s wonderful novel. But Sophie’s World was amazing because I read it at the perfect time in my life. It was right when I was aching to get out of the country, but was still too young to know what pilgrimages signified. I read it when I was in the midst of teenage anxiety and stress from the unknown, and when I felt like I hated and loved everything in the world at once. Sophie’s World is a wonderful novel about the history of philosophy and a girl navigating through a flexible reality. I felt much like this girl while I was reading the book, and I think I envied the way she was able to escape in the end. I now have a First Edition copy of the book because it represented a turning point in my life, and I own it so that I can be nostalgic about the passion I felt during those quintessential years of change into womanhood.

6. I hate squirrels.

They gross, they obnoxious. I’d have a pet cockroach first. Bam, nuff said.

7. I am addicted to Etsy, but too poor to actually shop there.

Every time I go onto the website, I see things I want. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Do you know what that is like? And they are always one-of-a-kind things which I immediately determine must be in my apartment, must be somewhere near or on me. I love the fact that Etsy has the weirdest shit imaginable for sale. See this, this, and this.

But you know what? I’d buy it. I’d buy it all. Etsy has a penchant for choosing some of my favorite things in the world and turning them into commodities which I require immediately. For example, think Adventure Time paraphernalia, bright colors, and just the adjective “vintage” makes me drool. Also, if I am on a roll, I might as well tell you that things like this, this, and this don’t help either.  In fact, feel free to check out my favorite here: just don’t tell anybody that I was the one who got you onto this addiction.

8. I can’t just do one thing at a time. 

I am probably undiagnosed with ADD. Or some sort of multitasking disease. Judson and I have a debate over whether people can actually multitask. He insists that it is scientifically, and therefore physically, impossible to concentrate on two things at once. Instead, your brain moves from one thing to the other in rapid succession. My take on it is that the logistics don’t fucking matter. I have to be doing two things at once or else I will be bored and useless. If I am doing schoolwork, some sort of noise must be happening. Whether music or the television (usually the latter). And, sometimes, which drives everyone crazy, I read two things at once…well you know, I’ll have two books with me and read like a chapter of each between them. I have to. While I’m writing this blog, I am reading my Israel book, watching TV, petting Fritz, and arguing with Jud about multitasking.

9. I am an INFJ to the fullest extent of its definition.

If you don’t know what an INFJ is, let me just tell you: they are fucking confused individuals. It means that they are incredibly passionate, but insanely logical. They are introverted to the extreme, but have to be around other people to feel fulfilled. They like success, but create challenges along the path of their goals. They like to teach, but they get frustrated when someone doesn’t want to learn. Basically, they are bipolar and sometimes hypocritical and completely emotionally nuts.

They are usually leaders of the free world, sucka.

10. I love politics.

This blog steers away from politics for the very reason that I love them so much. It is amazing I have friends at all. That is how much I love politics. I like knowing about everything that is happening internationally and domestically, and I like to talk about it. And if I get started here, this blog will never come back to video games and books and history and food, it will just melt into a lecture on why bipartisanism doesn’t work and how we are all fucked because we ruin the environment and don’t know how to make money. Anywhooo…..

I will end with this cute picture of a squirrel. Wait…squirrels can’t be cute…

Catching Up

Just noticed my little point system:

Taryn’s Productivity Point System

One Point For…
Every Hour of Creative Writing
Every Hour of Exercise
Every Hour of Visual Artwork (Including Photography)
Every Book Completed
Every Day of Only 1 Hour of Television
Every New Recipe Cooked

Five Points For…
Every Finished Short Story + 1 Revision
Every Finished Visual Art Piece
Big School Project Completed
Every Day without a Negative Thought
Every Thing I Build for the House
Cultivating a Garden
Every Dinner Party Thrown (notice the key word here- dinner)

Ten Points For…
Every Story Sent in For Contest or Publication
Every Overall A in a Class
Every Craft I sell on Etsy
Every Month I exercise every single day

Lose One Point For…

Every Day I Judge Someone Negatively
Every Day I Judge Myself Negatively

Awesome! I am going to restart this; especially since I got all As this semester, and I have been cooking every night. I have also been walking six miles a day and practicing yoga. Not that that has been helping me lose weight, but that’s ok. Still makes me feel like I’m doing something. I also am making a pegboard where I can organize my art supplies! That counts as building something for my house, right? Here are pictures to prove it:

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Threw a Town Creek picture in there for good measure. I am going to start my point system today!

Yoga = +1 point

Total Points = 1 points 

When I get to fifty points, I guess I’m going to buy something to do with sims…..bam!

Bucket List for Fools

I used to have a bucket list in its own journal with hundreds, if not thousands, of things on it. Most of these accomplishments were centered around becoming published, adopting lots of animals, making money, and traveling. There were a few wishes here and there which were unconventional, like learning more than four languages or seeing a giraffe in the wild. And there is what I would like to call the “fool’s list” which I decided to put in my post today. I’m not quite sure what was going through my mind at the time I added these to my list, but if my previous adventures are any indication, idiocy..idiocy was what was going through my mind.

1. Do a favor for the mob– I hate to say it, but this one still makes sense to me. If I scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine, right? What could go wrong? Also, I’m Italian, so I would feel guilty if this wasn’t one of my life’s goals.

2. Punch a mascot -Whether my good ol’ college mascot of the Demon Deacon (wtf kind of mascot..) or an actual famous mascot, they always seem as if they deserve a punch. Or kick to the groin. I just want to hurt one.

3. Fast for a week -This one isn’t so crazy, but for someone who likes food as much as I do, it seems a little ridiculous. I definitely want to try this sometime, though. People say you reach a new spiritual level and you feel clean afterwards. I wonder if that’s just something skinny people say.

4. Walk over hot coals -Trained professionals I’ve seen on television can do this. Why can’t I?

5. See Lady Gaga in concert -I guess I really am a masochist.

6. Smoke peyote in a traditional Native American ritual – I put this one on here because it’s awesome, and everyone should know about it in case there are any rituals coming up they want to invite me to.

7. Get a tattoo on my face -I’ve been thinking a pink elephant lately, or maybe a tiny little bee to commemorate my nickname. I probably won’t ever do this, but I do want another tattoo at some point.

8. Write an erotic novel -It’s good to delve into your own sexuality every once in awhile. Just be forewarned, if I ever write an erotic novel, you won’t know it was me. Maybe.

9. Build an apocalypse shelter -I might not live to see the apocalypse. Then again, I could. And I think that’s something you’d want to be prepared for.

10. Become famous, earn millions, guest star on cartoon comedies, and drink expensive champagne every night – Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t have this on your own bucket list.

I would love to hear your own ridiculous bucket list additions. Comment here or send me an email and I will post them on a separate edition.

Fritz Paintings, Pride and Prej, and Other Things

We are almost into March, and, so far, I have only kept a couple of my resolutions. I’ve been reading a lot, sticking to a budget (more), cooking more, taking more pictures (as you will see in a second probably) and have actually started my triplicate paintings of the animals. The exercising and the writing have taken a back seat, which is not smart, considering those are the two things I want to accomplish the most. I keep telling myself that once we are financially secure it will be easier to a) stick to a schedule and b) have more energy but if anyone has some Adderall….now would be the time to hook a sister up. No, just kidding (insert hazy winky-face here).

As far as reading goes, I’m on my tenth book for the year (sixty-five more to go!). I’m reading Pride and Prejudice because someone swooned over the movie once and told me the book must be amazing. Seriously, I am not a fan of Austen. If you want some real women writers, look at Woolf or the Bronte sisters. Those bitches were cra-ha-zy! Therefore, their writing is infinitely better than Miss Austen. But since I’m in it, I have to finish. I’m OCD about that kind of thing. As I’ve said before, you can always follow my reading for the year here as well. The other books I’ve read this year are:
1. Tess of D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
2. Richard II by Shakespeare
3. Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
4. Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande by E.E. Evans-Pritchard
5. America: The Book by Jon Stewart
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
7. Daisy Miller by Henry James
8. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
9. Under the Black Flag by Erik Christian Haugaard

Check ’em out sometime. (Except Under the Black Flag…I found that slightly disappointing and somehow..don’t ask me how…sexist).

And, because you asked (and if you didn’t, what the hell) here are some pictures of things I’ve cooked!

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches with Cornbread

Chicken Parm with Spaghetti

Cajun Sausage and Rice with Cornbread Sprinkled with Brown Sugar

And as final proof of my awesome resolution-keeping, here are the VERY beginning stages of my picture of Fritz:

I promise when it’s done I will show the finished versions…they are going to be awesome: I want to make them pop art and cartoon-like with neon colors and intricate backgrounds. Just wanted to prove I was doing something after work.

And, as if that weren’t enough pictures, here’s a parting one of Wybie taking a cute, little nap. Until next time! Oh, and don’t forget your submissions for SDSF!!!! I’ve only gotten a couple so far. Don’t be shy, submit!

Schedule

I am starting to paint my new triplicate of the animals! I want it to look a little monster-y with bright, neon colors and their names framed around their portraits. I painted some of Fritz’s yesterday, and will post them up here as I get them done. As a little teaser, I found something online that is done in kind of the style I’m going for:

I also decided my new schedule today. I’m one of those people who doesn’t need a schedule, but when I have one I try to stick to it. Especially since I am going to try to lose weight, I need a strict eating and working out schedule because I am notorious for not eating enough to keep my metabolism going. I’m hoping the schedule will also help me complete some art and writing projects, among other things.

Here’s the schedule (shut up, bitches, I know it’s boring):

  • 6:30 AM- Running
  • 7:00 AM- Breakfast and getting ready for work
  • 9:00 AM- Work
  • 10:00 AM- Snack #1
  • 12:00 PM- Lunch
  • 2:00 PM- Snack #2
  • 3(or5)PM- Come home from work and hang out with the fandamily
  • 6:00- Cook dinner
  • 7:00- Paint or work on another art project
  • 8:00- Write
  • 9:00- Read
  • 10:00- Clean and get ready for the next day of running, arting, writing, reading, sex…I mean, sleeping.

Again, I know it’s a boring-ass schedule. But, there are a couple of writing projects I really want to focus on: the sci-fi series Jud and I are writing for adults, a series for young adults (full disclosure soon), a poetry project I’ve had in my mind for years, and a series of short stories I’ve already finished but which need to be revised. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is! But it’s about time to put in the effort because I’m sick of just sitting here without the recognition, respect, and hookers and blow that I deserve. Wow, don’t worry, I was kidding about the hookers.

And, hopefully, as my artistic confidence rises up and up and hits the ceiling, opportunities will come my way. I know that writing is what I am meant to be doing. I’ve known it since the fourth grade. And, yeah, judge this blog all you want. But I hate to break it to you: it’s a damn blog. I’m writing here like I’m talking to you, not like I want you to put me up for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Oh, and another thing: visiting the ANT department at ECU soon…hope they never read this blog.