Archives for posts with tag: writing

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.

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.

Photo on 9-22-14 at 11.56 AM #3
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.

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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.

Sometimes, it’s okay to let a deadline pass. Especially a self imposed deadline. I continue to work on my dissertation and try desperately to produce chapters at a lightning clip to finish my degree by May. Still, sometimes writing just isn’t ready to be shared. This doesn’t mean that the deadline hasn’t served its purpose. The yellow highlighter on my calendar reminding me that it’s time to send the baby on its merry way has still pressed me to work toward completion. Just because the chapter isn’t done by the (randomly determined) deadline doesn’t mean that I didn’t make the progress that I intended to make when I set the deadline. And, generally speaking, I will still finish the chapter sooner than I would have without any deadline at all. So make deadlines, and, sometimes, when it seems right, let them pass. It doesn’t mean that the deadline didn’t serve its purpose, nor does it mean that you’ve failed to accomplish your goal. It might just happen a few days, or even a week behind schedule. The most important thing is to keep working. Don’t feel defeated and give up. Instead, feel empowered by the progress that you did make and remember that with a final push you’ll still meet your end goal. Patience is key.

Last year we celebrated New Year’s Eve with friends in my home town. At dinner, I decided that my New Year’s resolution was to apologize less in 2013.

Somewhere along the way, despite my apparently feminist upbringing and various levels of higher education to be an empowered woman, I missed the memo that women are made to apologize for their actions even when things aren’t their fault. I fell pray to this pesky habit – big time. I found myself apologizing multiple times in a conversation even for things that weren’t my fault.

The “I’m sorry” wasn’t even doing the work I needed it to. When I was in the hospital earlier this year, for example, I found myself apologizing for my illness and my need to rely on others. Instead, wouldn’t I more accurately express myself if I could just explain the meaning behind my overused place holder? Instead of I’m sorry, what about thank you? In a completely different context, I’ve come to fear making wrong choices that don’t make sense to others when writing in the academy. You could say I’ve learned to apologize before even putting pen to paper. Instead, I could feel empowered to share my ideas and open dialogue.

This brings me to the beginning of 2014. I’m not sure I apologize less, though I like to think that my apologies now accompany more thoughtful reflection and are sometimes replaced by mindful explanation. After a year with a wedding, cancer, moves, and many many thoughts on my place in this world, I hope for 2014 that I can strive to be true to myself and respectful of others. In doing so, I hope I can remain critical of my cultural tendencies while still respecting my comfort zones.

And I hope that this blog space is one without apology. I’ve wanted to keep a blog for some time, but haven’t known the right way, or topic. Scholarly, or personal? Feminist, or domestic? Mocktails, or design ideas? I’ve been paralyzed by the choices and afraid to make the wrong move; I’ve remained on the side of the apology. So, I hereby grant this blog a place for me to practice my goals without inhibition and without apology – even when it doesn’t quite coalesce or have a well rounded theme or make full sense to others. Whatever comes to fruition will be as honest as possible – within the bubble of my own performed self, of course, and also while striving to respect and account for those reading and writing with me.

Happy New Year. Here’s to a healthy 2014.

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Lately, my mind and body are most free to think through complex theoretical conundra during moving moments at this tiny stove that.

It has been a week and a half since I last uploaded an entry to this very new blog. It’s funny, it was as if the moment I wrote down my anxieties about merging my home and work lives – or better yet how to deal with the fact that they are necessarily one and the same for me – I was able to move forward without preoccupations.

So what is it about the writing process that leads to these moments of crisis, or of upheaval, and then of letting go? For me, it is about impatience. I have impatience when I read, when I write academically, when I think. I have impatience for the future, finishing current projects and for wanting to know what is to come when this or that project is complete.  The interesting thing about impatience, though, is that it doesn’t work in dance. Dancing is precisely about moving between moments and focusing on the movements between as the content themselves. If you are rushing to a next “position,” your focus is not on movement at all.

The thing about writing personal thoughts and feelings down on a page is that it in some ways forces an exercise in patience. Rather than worrying about future preoccupations, writing down a current concern is giving it license to exist in whatever state it is currently. This, I think, is why, like dance, sometimes writing down can lead to moving forward. It’s a moment for reflection, but also for laying to rest. So, whatever counts as your “writing down,” whether it is dancing, or cooking, or writing, may we all find ease in spending moments moving through rather than racing ahead. We may find, in fact, that this propels us “forward” – whatever that might look like.