Some small pink roses.

A carafe of water reflecting the light.

Pretty post its with a neat to-do list.

Avo toast and smoothie.

2015: the year of dissertation writing rituals.

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Here we are, it’s 2015. Last year I returned to this space as a little project at a time when I was in need of purpose. I returned fairly consistently with updates until October, at which point I didn’t feel the need to write here. I’m pleased that I think writing small musings here helped me to return to write more lofty observations for my dissertation. I think that on this very day last year I returned to my dissertation and one year later I have completed that chapter and moved onto the next. It was a slow pace, but I embraced it and most definitely made progress. For 2015 I would like to reestablish a more rigorous pace, but one in which I can still take care of me. I would like to be able to return to this space at the fore of 2016 to report that my seven year long project is complete. This is one huge New Years resolution.

Beyond this very large, long term, and underlying goal I  feel like this year I have a running laundry list of intentions as opposed to one resolution. I would like to be more consistent in my exercise, mindful of my diet, and continue to strive for a life in which I care for myself and for those around me. I need to floss more. I say this every year. And I could stand to drink more water. This too is a yearly intention. I would also like to face my fears. I did a lot of this in 2014 with I think much success. I’d love to continue working on this in the year to come.

I also have resolutions for my relationship. I can sometimes be dramatic and in turn a bit volatile in my responses to minor things. I hope that I can work on mindfulness when it comes to my interactions such that I am a bit more zen.

On this crisp and spitting Wednesday morning in Queens I find myself immobilized by the snail’s pace at which my writing progresses. You see, I can see the progress. I can feel it. In fact, I am apt to embrace the slowness. To cherish it. When are we afforded such opportunities to move slowly? No, it is not my own impatience with immobility that frustrates me. In my artistic work I relish slowness, and even stillness for that matter. I love choreographing still bodies on stage to illustrate how even still bodies are still moving. It is in stillness that we heighten our senses to notice the minute; the twinge of a toe or the flaring of the nostrils on a breath in become perceptible when everything around them is left still. These details heighten our perception of the world around us, and give us access into a part of our experience that we might not otherwise notice. I think the same is true with writing slowly, and therefore I would like to embrace the fact that I am slowly writing my dissertation. Not quickly. Not in a rush. But with patience and practice, so that that the details of my arguments can reveal themselves amidst the relative stillness of the words on the page. The twinges of toes and the flaring of nostrils can be included in my argument, rather than left out in the face of flying fingers and careless argumentation. But it is the temporalities that surround me that make me anxious about slowness, or even stillness. What happens to my own minutia when those around me grand jete through the dissertation? I think I will find out, because the writing is slow whether I like it or not.

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At the beginning of August we adopted a dog from a great animal shelter in SoHo called Animal Haven. Our pooch, or “the roocher” as we affectionately call her is just around one year old, weighs in at 13 pounds, and is a white fluffy ball of energy. She’s definitely a mutt, but we’re almost positive she has poodle in her. As for the mix, we’ve heard Bichon and Maletese the most. We kept the name that Animal Haven gave her, Lainie. When I first when to Animal Haven to ask about adoption, they let me know that a puppy had just arrived who fit my bill perfectly. When Lainie came down the stairs she bolted in my direction, gave me plenty of kisses, and ultimately fell submissively to her back for some nice belly rubs. I let Joey know how sweet she was and after he got to meet her we decided to go for it. She’s fabulous around children and other dogs, and is obsessed – read, OBSESSED – with people. She struggles with some separation anxiety, but has improved tremendously since we got her. We only help that the issue will get easier as she grows older. And while she is definitely in her mischievous teenage years, our schedules are quickly adapting to having a dog and we couldn’t be happier to have Lainie in our fold.

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When I was diagnosed with cancer family and friends bombarded me with instructions on how to not only survive, but also thrive in the face of cancer. To be a successful cancer survivor you must eat a raw organic vegan gluten free diet, drink a green juice each morning, dry brush your skin daily, soak in Epsom salts and baking soda each night, drink a minimum of 15 glasses of reverse osmosis purified water daily, abstain from alcohol and caffeine, buy BPA free EVERYTHING, wear organic materials, meditate, practice yoga, get acupuncture, have an incredible therapist, buy an $800 air purifier, continue your career in a way that fulfills you and without any stress, get a therapy dog, and be an expert on any potential carcinogen (make up, cell phones, soy, celery anyone?). This is only a smattering of the most mainstream prescriptions that I received. Beating cancer was the easy part, but performing the part of healthy girl was another story.

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This past weekend David Brooks wrote an article about daily ritual and creativity in the NYT. He cites the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work , which Joey and I actually found in a local Greenpoint book shop a few months ago. At that time, I was desperate to create some more ritual in my life. Floating from project to project, and physical ailment to physical ailment, I craved the stability that might come with daily routines and rituals. I’ve written about ritual a bit on this blog, and have searched for ritual in my daily and varying routines. I found some rituals in certain practices like traveling. But when it comes to my creative practices (writing and choreographing) I don’t have any steadfast rituals. I think I’ve managed to create much more stability in my life since stumbling across the Daily Rituals book at the beginning of the summer, but my days still lack ritual. There is not one thing that I do every single day without fail. Except maybe brush my teeth and take my pills. I don’t walk the dog the same way each day, I don’t eat the exact same thing for breakfast each morning, I don’t even have a ritualistic drink like coffee.

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Moxie tale for the day: ginger tea. Accompanied by a recipe for writing. Getting started is the hardest part. This ritual helps.

1 Early morning (early fall cool weather and clouds don’t hurt).
1 Bowl of oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit.
1 Cup of Ginger tea.
1 cute pooch on the lap.

I am a graduate student who is writing a dissertation and aspiring to obtain “gainful” employment in the academy one day… If I am a smart and strategic feminist, if I am egregiously lucky, and if several starts align at the right moment. But I digress. As I approach completion of my degree I have begun to consider even more carefully my own career development and professionalization. Upon reflection, I find it interesting how I’ve acquired more career advice and wisdom from following blogs written by young female Internet entrepreneurs than I have mentors in my own field.

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Some things are perfect. Even on days like today when the feeling of fall enters the air and work seems impossible. Like the way that I can clear small debris and liquids directly from the cutting board into the sink. No cupped hands to catch the scratch and precariously transfer it several feet over into the sink or the garbage. No drips along the way. Just one fell swoop. Design, my friends. It’s a beautiful thing.

It was five months between when we moved to New York City and when I returned back home to Ithaca for a visit. This shocked me. When we moved to New York I imagined myself gleefully, blissfully hopping the bus upstate for some R&R. I imagined this happening often. After living so far away for so long, I was sure to take advantage of my relative proximity to family, community, and relative calm at home. So, why did it take so long to return? Well, moving takes time. Transitions require attention. Now it feels nice to be in a place where I can go home for a few days without feeling tied to my new home. Just in time, however, for the arrival of our new puppy tomorrow… at least I can take her on the bus with me!