Tidying up your life…

On Sunday, I went to the barn for some spring cleaning–to help my friend and riding instructor get ready for summer lessons and pony camp, and because it was getting out of control (you could barely fit a horse in the front aisle). I spent five hours working on ONE section of the barn and we made a dent, but it seems like a cup of snow in a blizzard.

On Monday, I finished the audiobook I was listening to at Day Job (Second Hand by Cullinan and Sexton), so in a fit of tidying, I picked up Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We’ve all heard about it, but it was interesting to learn about it from the source.

I have mixed feelings on her technique and the book in general.

The Book: It’s a bit repetitive as it tries to drive the point home. This could have been more noticeable because I was listening to it pretty much in two sittings, but I found it frustrating and it led me to tune her out at times. Sometimes this repetition felt like fluff to make this a full-length (if short) book. It also sells a pipe dream, which I’m always very suspicious about. She seems to be aware that she’s selling this pipe dream, but her saying it works and is not a pipe dream doesn’t really comfort me.

The Technique:

  1. The basic concept of keeping what brings you joy and getting rid of anything else is solid. To a point. People do tend to keep things long after the item has brought them any type of joy, and I think her process of going through EVERYTHING and handling it and making a yes/no call on it is good way to see how much we own and if it’s necessary to our lives or brings us happiness.

    However, I take some issue with her push to throw things out/donate etc. Because one of her points is “if you really want X thing, then you’ll buy it again and appreciate it more this time” – but this concept seems very grounded on a certain level of financial security (which I assume, to an extent, is the type of client she deals with, since people who worry about money don’t tend to pay people to sort their junk). Yes, I could throw away X and re-buy it if I really want it, but can I? I throw away X movie because I never watch it…but then I want to watch it, so I either buy it again or rent it….which feels like a waste of money when I owned the movie previously. And if I feel this way, I can imagine people on tighter budgets (like my riding instructor) would struggle even more with this. Especially with something as expensive as horse tack 😀
  2. I know the book world had a brief flurry of “GET RID OF BOOKS” upset that was quickly tempered by “KEEP THE ONES THAT BRING YOU JOY, FOOLS” and that about sums it up. She does say to get rid of books that don’t bring you joy, and I get the feeling she hasn’t really run into readers who will re-read a book six or seven times. But she also points out that everyone has things that they’ll have more of than other people, and that’s fine. So for readers, they’ll have more than average books that don’t get thrown out, because those books bring them joy. And that seems like a very healthy way to look at things.

    Especially since readers are well-known for hoarding books that they’ll never read. We all joke about it because it’s true. And I wonder if we did apply her technique to our TBR pile, what the result would be?

    I also wonder how this applies to digital hoards, but she doesn’t really talk about that, and since it’s so much less messy digitally, I’m not sure sure particularly cares 🙂
  3. I could see some Western people struggling with a few of the more Japanese-oriented elements of her teachings, because in some ways they are very different from what we know/how we think…sorta. The idea of things wanting to bring us joy like a living thing seems alien until you think about Stabby the Roomba and maybe not. But I do think there will be an element of feeling silly to some extent (and she recognizes this and addresses it). There will undoubtedly be some people who cannot get over this hump, however.

So the question comes up: Will I be applying Kondo’s method to my madness?

A soft yes, I think.

  • I will go through all my clothes and sort out what I don’t actually want. This is her recommended first step because it’s generally the easiest, and probably something we all want to do 😀 I don’t think I’ll get rid of twelve bags of clothes or anything like that, but I’d like to get rid of enough to give myself some breathing room in my closet/dresser. How well this goes will probably determine if I continue…
  • But the next plan will be to go through my DVDs and books. I have a bunch I will likely never read/watch again, and I think it would make me happy to be able to fill my shelves with books I want to see and that bring me joy just to think about. Right now I have all my DVDs visible, but I’m running out of room. I can also see myself selling a few of them to people, so giving them a good home. 🙂 Meanwhile, I have at least two large plastic tubs FILLED with books (and possibly a box at my parents’ house) of books I never look at. I definitely need to cull the herd. It’s not going to be easy.
  • Finally, if I survive this far, I will cut back on knickknacks. They are a pain to dust around, and while many of them brought me joy when I bought them, so many just sit around gathering dust and cutting them out of my life will clear out a fair amount of small clutter. Possibly even more than I realize, once I get started.

I do not envision this to be an easy task I have planned for myself, even if I’m not going to do a huge overhaul like she generally seems to do with her clients (her thing is “make it perfect or don’t bother, since you’ll backslide” but I’m not entirely sold on that).

I guess we’ll see. Anyone want to de-clutter their lives with me?

You are what you eat…

After vaguely making a connection between eating poorly (especially high-sodium foods, aka eating out) and my depression/anxiety at the beginning of the year…I’ve realized again that maybe I should eat more balanced, healthful meals. And try to start exercising again. Not that I’m eating too poorly this week (weekends are my bane), but I could use a little exercise. And maybe ease myself into instead of three days of hard-core exercise and then flop on my back bemoaning the world and getting old.

If you want to be health buddies (and you’re not my brother–because it’s just sinful that my older brother is in better shape than I am), let me know!

And you might be wondering why I’m bringing this up on my writer’s blog.

1. It’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to. (I won’t break into song here, but I’m now humming that and I have no one to blame but myself.)

2. If poor eating triggers my depression, and my depression usually leads to me not writing…then obviously I want to not be depressed!

3. Even if poor eating doesn’t trigger my depression, eating healthy isn’t going to hurt and trigger my depression (most likely). I mean, it’s not like I’m going to stop eating out. Just maybe not four days in a row.

4. I was having a really good time with my writing and editing and in a good mood and then ate out four days in a row and today I am verbally constipated. I realize it could be coincidence, but, again, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Hopefully my post next week will be more on topic and less whiny! (And…not three days late?)

2016 Resolutions

A new year, and now some new goals!

First, let’s look back on the past year and see how I did…

Read ONE non-work book a month
I did…okay here. I missed 3 months. And my goal was to not read any queer romances as part of this “book a month” but I definitely fudged on THAT end. But I also read a bunch of different books, which was good. So, mostly a win. And I want to keep this up!

Write 5,000 words a month
YES. I feel like I did well here. There may have been a month or two where I didn’t hit, but I made up for it with some of the other months. And that size is good for me right now. I want to keep it up, definitely.

Focus more on the craft of writing
Erm. Maybe? Writers’ group and editing has definitely improved, but I haven’t really actively done anything to work on the “craft of writing.” Sooo, gonna say FAIL

Waste less time online
…define “waste”…

Live my life honestly
Sorta? All my friends use “they” pronouns and are cool with it and yay! But I’m still not really out with my family. Things didn’t really change as much as I had hoped in this regard. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was lying, but I wasn’t 100% honest either. But then, who does live their life 100% honest with everyone in their lives?

And for this year? Well, I want to continue trying to read outside of work and hitting my 5K words a month. But those are continuing actions, not new goals.

This year’s goals are going to be a been more physical in their aim.

– Take care of my teeth!
– Make necessary doctors’ appointments!
– Make MORE necessary doctors’ appointments
(I really hate making doctors’ appointments)
– Work on generally treating my body well (exercise, eating, stretching, and RELAXING)

No one wants all the details about how I work from home and have become a slovenly cave-dwelling monster, so we’ll just leave it at those basic things. Though there is one thing I want to work a bit more actively toward, and that is buying a freakin’ house. But that’s kinda huuuuge, so I don’t know if it, in itself, will happen this year. But I’ll take some steps toward it. (Oh goody, more talking to serious professionals. UGH.)

And if anyone has tips on how to deal with the obstacle that is making doctors’ appointments, please let me know!

You Get What You Pay For

This past weekend, while doing the final review of a PDF of Sharing a Pond and trying to squint at the screen of my phone (which I was using so I could lounge), I considered getting a tablet (for the twelfth time). My dilemma has always been that I really don’t NEED a tablet for most things. And I hate spending large amounts of money.
So I went to the local bargain outlet and purchased a Bright-Tab for roughly $60. Yes, it’s only 8GB (but so is my phone, so I figured it would suffice) and yes it is Android based (I’m rather fond of my Apple phone), and I figured it wouldn’t be the fastest thing, but I wasn’t planning on watching movies or anything, so it’d be fine.
The device itself is a good size (7”), thin, light, and has a nice screen. The Android system isn’t too bad (though I notice that you always have to click ABOVE where you want it to select instead of the actual thing, and I’ve noticed this on more than just my device), and the device is a touch slow, just as I expected. I’ve heard horror stories online of people complaining that after a week the wireless gives out, but we’ll see how that goes.
Right now my biggest issue is the battery is shitty. Like, it’s a tablet, it shouldn’t gobble through the battery power in one day, especially when most of the time it’s just sitting there not doing anything. According to the papers, the battery should last 4 hours (in use), and that might be true, but not if you’re doing anything too intensive, I imagine.
On the other hand, I definitely like it for reviewing my work, and while I don’t think I’d do major edits on it, when I’m going through something and noting minor things or making a few larger notes, I think it will work quite well. And it’s definitely much more enjoyable to read PDFs on!
But if you’re going for a tablet and it’s something you’re going to want to use often, do not go cheap. If you want something to get and throw away after a year, then go cheap. I’ll be happy if this tablet lasts me a year (that’s only $5 a month). If it ends up lasting longer and exceeding expectations? Well yay!
It may also tell me if I should bite the bigger bullet and buy an actually, good-working, long-lasting tablet.
For now, I’m mostly happy with what I got for what I paid for. Hopefully things don’t go downhill. 

Flame-Con report!

As you may have heard, Riptide Publishing was at Flame-Con in NYC on Saturday. And so I was there as well! 
It was in an OLD building and had ONE elevator…the oldest elevator in Brooklyn. It was hand operated. It was NOT ideal for getting vendors with lots of stuff into the room they needed to go (or out of, at the end of the day). The vendors were also in the greenhouse, so it was hot. Like, sweat-pouring-down-our-bodies-while-standing-stil hot.
That said, the PEOPLE were amazing! For anyone who doesn’t know, Flame-Con is tagged as the “queer comic-con” and this was their first year. They had a pretty good turnout, and some great costumes (especially for a one-day show of this size).
Rachel Haimowitz with the Riddler, Cyclopes, Jubilee, and Daredevil

The photo doesn’t really do the last picture justice. He had a great ring and amazing face-paint. Something great about this show experience was there seemed to be (from what I saw), a lack of body policing, etc, about the cosplay.

There was also a room full of artists selling their wares, and while I didn’t get to spend a huge amount of time there, I was sure to stop by Tab’s table, of Discord Comics khaoskomix. And buy lots of things. Because he’s lovely and came all the way from the UK. Be sure to check out his work. He is a fantastic storyteller and hits up a variety of storylines with various characters (his current projects are about an asexual man, and the Minority Monsters). 
I also happened upon Morgan of What’s Normal Anyway?, a comic about being trans male. It, like most webcomics, is completely available online, but there’s something about having the paper in-hand. And supporting the author, of course!
I also had some time to buzz around the vendor room, which mostly involved going over to the Cocky Boys’ table and gushing over @levikarterxxx (which Tumblr refuses to recognize as the actual tumblr blog…). I don’t really look at porn, but there’s something about the way he moves that just draws me to him. Of course he’s lovely, but it’s more than that. And hopefully my fanboying didn’t come across super creepy.
We finished the day (hauling everything back down on that elevator…) and finally made our way to get dinner at Veggie Heaven, which is actually really good all-vegetarian Chinese food. Yes, I ate fake meat product, but it was delicious. 
Overall a good time, although exhausting and sweaty.

Coming Out

So despite the fact that I work for an LGBT publisher, most of my friends are on the LGBT spectrum, and I’ve taught my mom things about the LGBT community and identity, I’ve never been out to my parents.

Part of this is because I feel that coming out shouldn’t be a thing I have to do. No one should. We shouldn’t assume anything about anybody. Not really. Part of my not coming out was worry about how my father would take it. And part of it is just the flexibility that my identity encompasses. Coming out seems like trying to put my identity in a picture frame, when it reality it’s more like a lava lamp.

But on Mothers’ Day, my mom and I were chatting and she asked, “Are you gay?”

And I answered, “Yes. Sorta. It’s complicated. But yes, I’m on the LGBT spectrum.”

Because explaining that currently I’m probably identifying as gray-asexual, panromantic, genderqueer is complicated.

We talked a little about why she suspected and she asked if I was okay with it. (She’s a guidance counselor and knows depression can be a problem among LGBT youths. I explained that since I had my own financial support and great friends, I was okay. Plus, my brother would totally side with me if my parents had disowned me.) I didn’t stress that my depression had nothing to do with being LGBT.

And then she asked why I didn’t tell her. And I asked if my brother had come out to her as straight. No, of course not. And I asked why it was any different. Just because it’s not the ‘norm’ doesn’t mean I should have to announce it. Do I have to come out about liking that Finnish band I dig? That’s not common either. Or hating scrapple and growing up Pennsylvania Dutch. That’s outside the norm.

If we stop making assumptions about people, then we can find out when the time is right. Because otherwise in college I would have told them I’m bisexual. And then tweaked that description. And then again. Because I’m still finding myself.

Also, until it is involved in their lives, I’m not sure why it really matters. I don’t tell them about kink stuff, do I?

Yeah, pretty sure they don’t want to hear that. 😀

So my mom (and I assume she told my dad) know I’m on the LGBT spectrum.

And ten minutes later she asked why I don’t shave my legs. I replied, “Why doesn’t Dad shave his legs?”

I’m not sure she’s quite caught on. But it’s a step.

I had an adventure. Almost.

Today was much like any other day: haircut, errands, out to lunch with mum, home to do taxes (because they are getting more complicated and yelling at my father helps me think things through), then finally head back to my place! Whew. A long day. I look forward to unpacking from my venture home, heating up dinner, and doing all the work I didn’t get done today.

And then my phone rings. (Which, if you know me, means there has to be an emergency, because I abhor phone calls. So everyone nicely texts me.)

My friends are stranded at the grocery store with a dead battery. They need a jump. Don’t I have cables?

I do! Or I did. When my last car was totaled, my dad saved them from the car and we left them at home. I don’t remember why. (Seemed like a good idea at the time?) I think I had visions of me buying  my own set instead of borrowing his spares. The point is I didn’t have the cables.

So I drove back to my parents’ house, picked up the cables, lifted the hood and stared. New car. Where the hell was the battery? The red cap seemed to indicate the positive, but where was the negative? I hung around until my dad arrived to remind me my battery is in the trunk, and he said those were all fuses, but the battery wires went to the red cap, so that was that.

Victory! Back in my car and heading to my friends. They call. Someone finally stopped who HAD cables and was going to give them a jump.

Of course.

So I headed home, pleased I at least now had cables, and only slightly frustrated my dinner was pushed back an hour and a half. And nothing else is getting done tonight.