Jan 18

In which I sing karaoke in public for the first time

My parents really like singing karaoke. In fact, I think it saved their marriage. But it was never something I got into. Not that I haven’t been roped into it from time to time, like when my mom forced me to sing “Save the Best for Last” (it was at my parents’ house and no one else was around so it was actually kind of enjoyable) or when I was living in China and my cousin and her friends pushed into warbling “My Heart Will Go On,” which was a complete disaster because a) it’s Celine Dion, and b) I had never sung it before. My cousin and her friends listened in horrid disbelief, as though they had expected by my sheer American-ness that I should have been able to sing this difficult American song.

My close friends are not karaoke fiends, except, that is, for Yiannis. Recently he and his sister have been hosting karaoke nights at a downtown bar, and while I’ll often go to have a drink, cheer people on, and be generally social, I’ve never sung.

Until last Sunday.

For some reason I had gotten it in my craw that I should sing karaoke in public at least once. in my life It even became a sort of 2018 goal. After trying a bunch of songs, I found one that seemed to be in my range: Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2am).” I also thought, rather logically, that because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket that a rap song would up my alley. Hence, Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.”

I practiced both songs a lot, having finally learned that practice makes perfect. Still I was nervous. I almost chickened out. But because it was Yiannis’s birthday, I powered through it.

My first song was “Breathe (2am),” luckily because people weren’t really paying attention. Although I knew the lyrics and rhythm (which took me a while to learn), I felt off. I think maybe the lyrics are not quite the right speed at that particular bar, but who knows? However, when I finished no one seemed to notice, which again was dandy by me.

It felt like such a huge accomplishment, not to mention a big relief, to have finally sung that I didn’t even feel a need to sing “Gold Digger.” But a little part of me wanted to. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Maybe because it’s a great song. Either way, I found myself filling out a card and handing it to the bartender.

By the time my turn came up again, the place was much fuller, and when people saw what song I was doing, they seemed to get excited. Again, I felt off with the lyrics and totally screwed up a couple of verses, but surprisingly people seemed impressed. When I got verses correct, there was some cheering, and when I finished there was even more. A couple of guys were like, “That was incredible!” and “That was amazing!” Needless to say I was very, very surprised because I didn’t think I was very good compared to my practice sessions.

I had such an adrenaline rush afterward, I could barely pay attention to the conversation I was having with one of Yiannis’s friends. Then later, on the train, I couldn’t even pay attention to the podcast. I just kept reliving my “performance.”

But whether or not I’ll sing in public again is a whole other story.

Jan 13

One Resolution and the $10 Deal

I saw this article today about making only one New Year resolution. Poppycock! was my first response. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Last year my plan was to adjust my expectations, celebrate my accomplishments, and have short-term goals in mind but to not write them. I don’t know if that worked, but I was able to form a couple of good habits mostly because of the $10 deal I had with my boyfriend, MB:

  • If I didn’t work on my novel at least five days a week, I had to give him $10. But if I finished my novel before reaching $100, I could have all the money back.
  • If I didn’t go to krav maga at least twice a week, I had to give him $10.

I’m a cheapskate so I hated handing over the money. Still, my debt racked up to $70. Then on Christmas Day I finished the first draft of my book and I got all the money back. As for krav maga, I ended up getting my yellow belt in September.

I’m going to continue these two $10 deals – work on personal writing at least five days a week and go to krav maga at least twice a week – perhaps with the added goal that one of those two krav maga times, I have to go to a level 2 class. I’ve been awful about going to level 2. It’s much more fun and comfortable to stay in level 1.

My other short-term goals are to work out at least four times a week and to read one book a month or so. These have also become a habit for the most part so I’m not too worried about those.

So what do I want my one resolution to be? I thought it might be to submit my writing more often. Back in 2011, I tried to do a 12 months, 60 rejections project and failed. Sixty submissions in a year is too much for a slow writer like me. I thought maybe 12 would be more doable, one a month, and even came up with a plan and submitted one piece just now,

But then I started to execute on my plan – check listings for magazines and upcoming contest deadlines – but immediately became overwhelmed. There are just so many contests and magazines, and I don’t have too many things to submit.

What I need is to write some short pieces during this break I’m taking from my novel (at least one month, maybe two), and to get the momentum going to be able to work on short pieces and revise my novel at the same time. So working on short pieces is built into the whole “work on personal stuff five days a week” or pay up.

So if not submitting more, how about meditating? It’s something I’d like to do more consistently. I get pretty anxious about stuff (often made-up stuff) and want to be able to handle my anxiety better. I meditate when I do yoga at home and in yoga class, and sometimes on the train to work if I remember. But usually I completely forget. For instance, I haven’t meditated at all during this holiday break.

The article goes on to suggest three more steps after picking your one resolution:

  • Come up with a specific action plan.
  • Avoid previous resolutions.
  • Tailor your action plan to your personality.

What works for me is when something becomes not just a habit but something I feel I need. If I go more than two days without working out, I just feel blah. The $10 helped motivate to keep working on my novel and krav maga-ing, but I also grew to love getting in a little personal writing after dinner instead of just watching four hours of TV. I grew to like practicing punching and kicking, as well as socializing with my classmates.

But first meditation needs to become a habit. I’ve looked online and all the articles say the same thing: start off with just a few minutes, pick a trigger, reward yourself, blah blah. But I always manage to find an excuse: I have work to do, MB is around, MB might come home any minute (he’s all for my meditating, but I’d rather be alone). The only thing that seems to work for me is the $10 deal. Would it be somehow anti-meditative to have to pay $10 for every day that I don’t meditate?

Well, the article does say to tailor my plan to my personality, and apparently my personality is “cheapskate.”

May 12

Blogging and learning

I’ve been inconsistent lately about my blogging. My last post was on my birthday, nearly four weeks ago! For a while I had the goal of blogging at least twice a week, and for that short while, I was good about it. But lately something always comes up. Writing for work, my novel, shorter pieces, being lazy.

This week I read this post from Chris Dixon about how he uses his blog to learn. Specifically, he tries “to learn at least one interesting thing each week and then blog about it.” I love this idea.

Like Dixon, every morning I catch up on the news mostly via Twitter, and for work, dump links to interesting stories (mostly regarding words and language) into a Google doc for a bi-weekly series that I write. Why not do the same for myself? Often I’ll read and retweet interesting stories, but it ends there. Once in a while I’ll blog about something interesting I’ve come across, such as the lies behind the etymology of iceberg lettuce and details about the Sino-Japanese war. But I’m not consistent. I do it only when the mood strikes me or when I happen to remember.

So I’ve decided to follow in Dixon’s footsteps and blog once a week about something new I learned. It could be via Twitter or my news feeds, or as I’m doing other research, or even – gasp! – in real life. I want to blog more regularly and I want to document stuff I’ve learned so that’s killing two birds with one stone.

This week I learned, aside from the idea of blogging what I’ve learned (how meta), that I should try applying my work techniques to my personal life. I’ve already mentioned how I gather interesting links. Something I also do is keep a schedule of upcoming words of the day, lists of the day, and blog posts. The schedule helps me keep everything organized and also gives me ideas. I have to follow it, well, because it’s for work.

Why not do that for myself? The only blog schedule I have is vague and in my head. “I should do two posts this week.” But when and what about? Every day I work on my novel. That’s a given, especially since I don’t want to give MB ten bucks. But often I let other submissions slide. I realize, often too late, that submission deadlines are upon me (or worse, already passed) and I end up having not enough time to submit as much as I want to.

I put the deadlines on my calendar, but it’s not enough. I really don’t look beyond the current week. For work, I schedule everything in a spreadsheet so that I can see several weeks at once.

Seems like such a simple thing, but it took reading Dixon’s blog post and forty minutes on the elliptical to figure it out. Now let’s see if it works.

Jan 12

No Resolutions

Last week my yoga class was extra crowded with newbies. I’ve nothing against yoga newbies – I was one not too long ago (and still feel like one most of time) – but I know that by the end of January, most of them will have dropped out. The same thing would happen at my company gym: in January it would be crowded with poseurs, and by Valentine’s Day, it would be back to us regulars plus maybe 5% of poseurs.

I stopped making New Year resolutions a while ago. Why wait till January to start something new? Also, resolutions tend to be vague. “This year I’ll be thin! I’ll be more productive! I’ll stop worrying!” Vagueness, for me at least, is a guarantee of failure.

I’ve tried New Year goals, but that hasn’t worked for me. Last year I kept them up for a while then fell off the wagon. I hated not meeting my goals from week to week, so much so that I just gave up entirely.

So what’s a girl to do? This:

  • Adjust my expectations.
  • Set short-term goals – but don’t write them down.
  • Remember my accomplishments.

And here’s how I’m applying them.



I used to do hard cardio five times a week, which was easy with a company gym and Central Park just a few blocks away. I’d run at least four miles, and as much as six. Once a week I’d run between eight and 10 miles.

For a while I beat myself up for doing cardio “only” three times a week, for running “only” three or four miles, or “only” walking. But now I’ve accepted that’s okay, and remind myself that running three miles or walking one or two is better than nothing.

Goals & Accomplishments

You’d think writing down my goals for the week (cardio three times, yoga/weights twice, etc.) would be a good idea. NOT. Like I said, most weeks I wouldn’t meet my goals, and hated that so much, I stopped trying all together.

Now I tell myself my goals but don’t write them. For instance, my goal for October was to start walking to and from the train station on the days I worked, about two miles each way, three times a week. It was very easy to meet this goal because I enjoy walking, it took the same and even less amount of time as the bus, it’s much more relaxing than the bus, and the weather is good out here. Now the walk is not only a habit, but something I look forward to every day.

My goal for the month of December was to go to yoga class twice a week, every week (a class pushes me much harder than I push myself) and to do hard cardio (running or the elliptical) three times a week, every week. I didn’t write these goals in a spreadsheet. I mentioned them in my blog, but otherwise just held the goals in my mind.

And guess what, I made my goal! There was one day I missed yoga class because I had to go into the office (boo!) but at least I did an hour of yoga at home.

What’s also helped is tracking my progress after the fact. I love filling my spreadsheet with what I’ve accomplished, which encourages me to do something, no matter how small, every day.

My January goal is to continue what I’ve been doing, and also to do burpees/weights/yoga at least once a week. Right now I did that sometimes, but not consistently.



I continue to struggle to have no expectations about my writing. I try to concentrate on the task at hand, and not worry about being successful (whatever that means) or comparing myself to other writers. Staying busy helps.


These past few months I’ve felt blah about my writing. I haven’t published much outside of work, and have totally neglected The Nervous Breakdown, where I’m supposed to post once a month. Then I looked back at what I’d done over the year, and now feel re-energized and re-inspired. Here’s a totally self-indulgent recap of my writing accomplishments from over the year:


I wrote about my war with rats. Some Frisky readers gave me some love.


I wrote about what I think about when I should be thinking about nothing while doing yoga.


At The Nervous Breakdown, I was the featured author and also wrote about childhood and death. For The Frisky, I wrote about why I stand by Planned Parenthood. I kicked off the publicity campaign for my memoir by asking you guys to help me pick a cover and held a contest giving away copy of my book.


For Dark Sky Magazine, I wrote about vampires, tattoos, and divorce. I continued to market my memoir by giving all contest participants a free copy. I got some awesome new author photos. For The Frisky, I wrote that I’m really bad at being wrong, and for The Nervous Breakdown, about caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease.


I updated my website and published my memoir, woot! I wrote about the curse of the imperial roll. These cute little dictionaries I edited last year were published.


I started tweeting a lot for work, beginning with a live tweet of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. My piece that won Bellingham Review‘s 2010 nonfiction contest was published, and the contest judge wrote something very nice about it. I received my first real review (thanks Ed Lin and Giant Robot!). For the anthology Wisdom Has a Voice, I wrote about my dear grandmother. For The Nervous Breakdown, I wrote about things I’ve found on the sidewalk.


I got some more Nervous Breakdown love. For the Frisky, I wrote that I’m neither a trophy nor a tiger. I started blogging a lot for work.


I kicked off my 12 months, 60 Rejections project (I’ve made 16 submissions and have had three rejections and one acceptance so far). At The Frisky, I wrote that I’m divorced, get over it. I won first place in Hyperink’s My Tiger Mom and Me contest, and was published in their anthology.


I wrote a shit ton for work, including words about work, words in fashion, pirate words, punctuation rules, and drinks: wine, tea, funny drink names, coffee, and beer.


For work, I wrote all about Halloween as well as Hangul Day, and started writing a bi-weekly series called Word Soup, in which I round up funny and interesting words from TV (and you know I watch a lot of TV!). I got invited to speak at the BlogHer Writers’ Conference and had a great time. I finished reading John Truby’s Anatomy of a Story, went through all the exercises, and planned my novel. I finished compiling and editing a book of essays to enter in a few contests (the essays are a mixture of stuff I’ve published and a couple of newish ones).


For work, I wrote about Saintly Words for All Saints’ Day; Words on Plot and Treason for Guy Fawkes’ Day; Palindromes and Other Word Play for 11/11/11; and turkey words for Thanksgiving. I decided to do NaNoWriMo differently this year, and while I didn’t complete it, I continued to work on my novel.


I continued to work on my novel, and submitted a story pitch, my first in months – yay!


My goals for writing are even shorter-term than for fitness. In general I want to work on my own writing every day, even if for a little bit, whether it’s my novel, my blog, a pitch, or a shorter piece. For a couple of months (which felt like several), I really neglected my own writing. What’s helping so far is writing before I turn on my computer. With my novel (for which I spent September and October planning out the characters and all the scenes), I’ve been handwriting a few scenes, then typing them up. When I type, I also edit and add.

My goals for my novel are day by day. For instance, today I want to hand write a few scenes. I usually need a little breather after I write a few scenes, to sort of let them clear from my head so that when I type them, I can see them with a fresh eye, so then I’ll work on something else the next day, either my blog or a pitch. This week I went to turn in another story pitch.

I don’t really have a drop dead date for when the novel should be done. Right now I’m just going day by day.

Other goals I’m keeping in the back of my mind are to catch up on my reading in The Nervous Breakdown, and to write an essay for January.

So no resolutions for me. No “From now on, I’m going to be X.” All I can ask of myself is to continue these small goals, which if you think about it, add up to bigger ones anyway.

Sep 11

Writing update + travel

Another round of writing updates!

The My Tiger Mom and Me e-book anthology is now available! It includes my essay, “Striving for Imperfection,” which won first place in Hyperink‘s contest.

The paperback version of another anthology, Wisdom Has a Voice, is also now available. It includes my essay, “Puo-puo,” and is also available for the Kindle.

For work I wrote about SAT words, and the three Rs, reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic.

As for my 12 Months, 60 Rejections projects, I haven’t received any more rejections so far, but I’ve submitted two more pieces. My next goal is to submit a book of essays before my trip to New York in a couple of weeks. The good thing is the contest accepts essays that have been published individually, just not as a whole book. So I have a lot of essays to choose from. The problem is they’re not all wonderful. Now begins the process of editing and possibly having to write another essay to reach the 150 page minimum requirement.

What’s that? Oh yeah, I’m going to New York soon. I’m really looking forward to it – seeing friends, eating at favorite restaurants (if they’re still around), and hanging out at my parents’ house in New Jersey and chowing down on my mom’s good food. We’ll also probably shop (no tax on clothes!) and raid the stuff we left behind for anything we might need.

We’re flying Virgin, which I’m psyched about. I usually use Expedia, which has all of my preferences, but this time I tried Orbitz, which neglected to assign us seats. I realized this only recently and guess what: only middle seats were left.


That will suck for MB since he’s tall, and it will suck for the person next to me because I get up to go the bathroom so much. Ah well.

Aug 11

Writing update: 12 Months, 60 Rejections

I’ve been working on a bunch of things lately (hence, the slackness on the blog) and as usual, they’re all due at the same time. I’ve got one assignment, one submission to a literary journal, and one to an online magazine. The assignment is in good shape (I think), thanks in part to YP and his sharp eye, but the other two are less, um, developed. In addition, I’ve been writing a lot for work as usual (this post on dog breeds is particularly fun).

Recently I read this article from poet Brett Elizabeth Jenkins about her project, “One Year, One Hundred Rejections,” the goal of which was “to garner one hundred rejecton letters within the course of one calendar year.”  This idea immediately appealed to me. I feel like I don’t submit as much as I could, and look for anything to motivate me.

I don’t think I’d be able to collect 100 rejections in a year. That would mean at least 8 submissions a month, and with longer form pieces (I’m assuming Brett submitted mostly poetry but I could be wrong), that would be virtually impossible, at least for me.  But maybe that’s because right now I don’t feel like I have a really good, polished piece that I could send to a bunch of places. Last year I did (An Old Man on The Frontier Loses His Horse), which I submitted to at least half a dozen places, resulting in a contest win.

Anyway, the arbitrary goal I’ll pick is 60, which means five submissions a month, starting this month. So far I have one from Sun Magazine. They accept previously published work so I was able to quickly submit a piece from The Nervous Breakdown which I’m particularly proud of. Standard form rejection. Oh well.

Obviously the goal isn’t to try to get rejected, but to submit pieces and pitches to a sufficient number of places that *might* add up to 60 rejections. And I know I could call it the Sixty Submissions Project (which kinda has a better ring to it), but rejections makes it seem more daring. Like, who cares, I’ll just take a chance and submit to this hoity-toity magazine since I’m “trying” to get rejections anyway!

So counting Sun and the two possible rejections I’m working on, that’s three. I also plan on writing and submitting another piece that’s due at the end of the month, that’s four. And maybe if I feel okay about the more literary piece I’m working on, I’ll submit it to a few other places before the month is out.

I’m gonna need a spreadsheet.

Jul 11

Fitness habit check-in

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last check-in. I was sure it was just one. No wonder working out as a habit this week felt a bit easier.

The third week

That Sunday I wasn’t planning on doing anything, but I ended up doing an hour of yoga. Monday I ran four miles, Tuesday yoga at home, Wednesday I ran four miles, Thursday yoga, Friday 40 minutes on the elliptical, Saturday nothing.

The fourth week

Sunday was painful burpee day. Monday I was so sore, I did nothing. Tuesday I ran a very slow three miles and Wednesday I hit the elliptical for 40 minutes.

Thursday was a work from home day, and I was feeling energetic. I was planning on just yoga at home, but when I came back from picking up groceries that mid-morning, I felt like hitting the gym. When does that happen? Not often, so I took advantage.

I had just enough time to rush down there, do a fast three mile-run, and join yoga class at noon, which I haven’t been to in over a month. And yeah sure, I do yoga at home, but that day it felt like I had never done yoga ever in my life. All my muscles got tired quickly, and the next day my arms and upper back were sore, as well as my hip flexors from the standing knee to chest pose into this one –

(Of course I look nothing like this picture.) How sore? Like I could barely lift my legs to tug on my boots. Like I couldn’t cross my legs while sitting without wincing in pain.

Anyway, I guess I was tired from my running/yoga combo because last night I skipped the gym. I had all my stuff with me, but felt too wiped to go. I don’t feel too guilty about it since I did four cardio sessions, if you include the burpees. I just need to do yoga today.

Plus I’m glad I came home early last night. MB was already home. We went out to dinner, then watched TV (Luther on Netflix, and the premiere of Torchwood: Miracle Day), a perfect Friday night for my lazy ass.

Jun 11

Checking in on picking up a new habit

It’s been two weeks since I started my new habit of going to the gym after work, and it’s going well so far.

The first week

My first week I did cardio four days in a row.  On Monday, which was a work from home (WFH) day for a change since our office had just been painted, I ran 4 miles.  Tuesday I went after work for the first time, and man was it crowded!  I can’t remember if I’ve ever gone at that time before.  There was a line for the treadmills, but luckily I wanted the elliptical.  Forty minutes.

Wednesday I almost didn’t go, although it was a working day and my bus passes my gym.  Instead I got off about a mile and a half before my stop and hoofed it.  The thing was by the time I reached my gym, I felt like working out.  I went in and ran three miles on the treadmill.  Woot!

Thursday was WFH and 40 minutes on the elliptical.  I also did one session of weights – on Sunday, I think – and two one-hour sessions of yoga during the week.

It was great waking up on Friday, knowing that I didn’t have to worry about going to the gym for the WHOLE weekend.

The second week

This past week I did pretty well, though not 100%. Monday I went to the gym after work – 40 minutes on the elliptical. Tuesday was WFH, but I only did yoga for an hour.  (Well, “only.”)  I was kinda busy with work and was also helping MB with a book he’s self-publishing so I didn’t really have time to get away for the gym.

Wednesday I went after work again – ran four miles. It felt really good to run that day because I had totally fallen off the wagon in terms of eating.  When I first got to work, I was slightly hungry but not starving.  I usually have oatmeal or peanut butter toast at home before I leave, then some nuts when I get to the office.  That day I decided to have this delicious chicken roll that a nearby coffee shop serves.  It has no cheese, just grilled chicken breast with pine nuts and other goodies.

The thing was it screwed me up for lunch.  I ate some sushi rolls (eel and cucumber) just to eat something, though I wasn’t hungry, and because I had had a too-sugary cup of coffee-milk-tea in the late morning, I was totally craving carbs by the afternoon, and had – yes – a package of goldfish crackers.

I know that’s not so bad, but one of my main goals is to cut out processed carby snacks, so I felt bad.  Hence, I really felt the need to run that night.

Thursday was WFH and again I didn’t have time to go to the gym.  Yoga to the rescue!  This time I incorporated some new moves.

Plank Pose

Chaturanga, or Four-limbed Staff Pose

Vasisthasana, or Side Plank Pose

For some reason, my yoga teacher never had us do these. (Oh, in case you’re wondering, the fitness studio at my gym is closed indefinitely.  Something’s wrong with the floors.  The yoga class I love is being taught at another branch, but it’s all the way in North Point!  One of these Tuesdays/Thursdays I’m not too busy, I’ll have to schlep my cookies out there.)

Friday after work, I ran another four miles.  At first I was going to do a more intense three, but I felt good so I kept going.  I ran it much faster than I normally do, and with an increasingly steep incline for the last mile.  It was tough but I felt both awesome and exhausted afterward.

Saturday I felt perfectly fine not doing cardio and just doing yoga.  I incorporated even more plank, holding for about ten slow breaths, and four-limbed staff poses, holding for three (very difficult and not as slow) breaths.  I probably did about ten, sprinkled through my routine, and was sweating profusely. Today I’m pleasantly though not insufferably sore, though part of me wants to be insufferably sore.

Today I’m not sure what I’ll do.  Probably nothing except take a walk and some minor stretching.

It was only after my run Friday night that I started to feel trimmer, even though I had done “only” three cardio sessions. I’m starting to feel that’s okay if the cardio is intense, and if I’m doing yoga too.

Here’s to continued progress!

Images via Yoga Journal.

Jun 11

Picking up a habit

I’ve become incredibly undisciplined about working out.

I could blame work, but the truth is I haven’t been meeting my exercise goals for some time.  My goal every week is to do 4 cardio sessions, whether running or elliptical, and three weight-bearing sessions, whether yoga, weights, or pilates.  Let’s take a look at my stats for the past month:

  • Last week: zero workouts
  • Week of 5/29: 1 cardio, 1 yoga
  • Week of 5/22: 3 cardios, 1 yoga; 1 weight training
  • Week of 5/15: 2 cardios; 2 yogas
  • Week of 5/8: 3 cardios; 1 yoga; 1 weight training
  • Week of 5/1: 2 cardios; 2 yogas; 1 weight training

I haven’t hit my cardio goal at all this month, and while 3 sessions of cardio is still pretty good, I’ve only done that twice.  I always feel better when I’m working out more, but even when I’m not too busy, I find it so easy just not to do it.  What’s the barrier?  The fact that the gym is a five-minute walk as opposed to right downstairs, like it was at my old job?  Or that other things are just more important, like spending time with MB and writing?  Should I just accept it’s okay if other things take priority?

I’m still in the mentality that a cardio workout is better, and that if I can’t get in a run or the elliptical, then why bother exercising at all? I have to remind myself that doing weights or yoga or pilates, or even some sit-ups and push-ups is better than nothing, and if I really don’t want to go to the gym, I should at least do one of those things.

I’m also trying to get into a work-life balance.  For my job, one of the things I do is Tweet news stories, and because news happens all day, all the time, I find myself looking for interesting news stories all the time, as a result neglecting my personal stuff.  I need to force myself to do it only at designated times, unless I happen to be working all day that day, or to plan more.  It’s only been a about a week and a half since I’ve started doing this, so of course it’ll take some getting used to.

Another method is alternating work-work/writing-work.  Yes, it’s better to Tweet news stories all day, but there’s no need to inundate our followers – in fact, it’s better to spread them out, I’m finding, about one an hour.  A pattern I’m liking is: Tweet, work on other stuff for an hour, Tweet, rinse and repeat.

It fits cuz I’m all ADD anyway.

I like this article I found via Lifehacker about how to get stuff done.  I’ve written before about picking up new habits, but it’s always good to have a refresher.  Some things in my life that are ingrained habits:

Getting enough sleep. Like Tony Schwartz, the author of the Harvard Business Review article, I NEED to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep. This means going to bed between 10 and 11 every night, no matter what.  This is an easy habit because I love to sleep, and my bed is right there.

Before bed routine. Sometimes I’m so tired, I don’t want to brush my teeth or wash my face, but I do.  At this point in my life, I don’t feel right unless I go through that routine before bed.

Not letting dirty dishes sit in the sink for more than a day. It’s just a thing.  I can’t stand seeing our sink full of dirty dishes.  If I’m too tired to do them at night, I’ll do them in the morning while the coffee is brewing.

At work, I’ve also gotten into habits, but that’s easier because there’s a set blogging/tweeting schedule.  And in terms of my writing, I think I always feel like I’m not writing enough, but then I suddenly remember, Oh yeah, I wrote a draft of that essay.  My habit has become writing essays and whatnot quickly, no matter how shitty they are, and setting them aside.  Right now I have three essays in draft form, waiting to be revised.  I find revising so much easier than writing from scratch.

With my novel, I’ve gotten into the habit of handwriting on my train rides, and then typing/revising on my work from home days and the weekends.  These last two weeks I neglected my novel because of work, but now I’m back in the swing of things.

So how can I make exercise a ritual again?  Schwartz describes rituals as “highly specific behaviors, done at precise times, so they eventually become automatic and no longer require conscious will or discipline.”  Bedtime, before bed ritual, and washing dishes are all done at specific times, and or in relation to other habits.  I feel a natural inclination to work out about an hour and a half after I get up (on my WFH days), basically after I get my most urgent stuff done, whether work or writing related.  Maybe that should be the designated time for exercise – after I finish urgent stuff, and before I start in on long-term stuff (essays that aren’t due for a while, my novel, etc.).

Even more difficult is working out on the weekends.  It’s much more fun to hang out with MB.  For now all I can ask of myself is to at least do yoga or weights, say, before I shower.  On the weekends I usually don’t shower till late morning/noonish, ie, when we’re almost ready to leave the house after a morning of working.

Okay, so we’ll see how all this goes. I’m sure there are other habits I can pick up, but I just want to deal with this one right now.

Jun 11

Finally catching up

That was a long two weeks.

Work was quite busy, though in a good way.  I am getting a handle on striking a balance between trying to do a good job in my expanded role, and becoming completely obsessed and neglecting my own projects.  That being said, this weekend will be all about catching up with my own stuff, namely:

1) Work on my novel. I always save new versions of my writing with the date that I last worked on it, so I was disheartened to see the last time I worked on my novel was May 31.  My goal today is to finish this particular section, a flashback/background, so that tomorrow I can get into the real story more.  (I am of course being purposefully vague here, not ready to talk about the specifics of the novel, but happy to blab about the process.)

2) Write this blog post. My goal is to post twice a week. Yay, I met my goal!

3) Update outdated stuff on my website. In case you’re wondering, I am not still reading The Devil’s Rooming House.  I’ve read about three books since.  Also, the stuff on my home page needs to be refreshed, specifically The Bellingham Review!

The Spring 2011 issue is now available. You’ll find great prose and poetry, as well as the winners of the 2010 contests, including my essay, “An Old Man on the Frontier Loses His Horse,” first place winner of the Annie Dillard Award in Creative Nonfiction.

The website isn’t updated yet (they usually put one or two pieces in full on their site), but you can order or subscribe now.

4) Work out. Not sure this will happen.  The first three goals take priority, but at least I think I’ll be able to do yoga at home.