Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday morning, 7 am

I've been up since 4:30 am. I have the entire Saturday morning in front of me--no commitments until 2 pm. The sun is just coming up now--very very gray dawn--and the birds are starting to sing.
What to do with a gorgeous spring morning?



Not shopping, not working, not cleaning. But not wasting it either... so what to do?

Friday, March 30, 2012

If I were in Paris... March 30, 2012

Supremely cool, the season of tourist exhibitions intended to blow out visitors' minds has begun. Right now, for instance, you can see the following exhibitions:
  1. Debussy, art and music: Musee de l'Orangerie, through June 11
  2. Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs: Les Arts Decoratifs, through September 16
  3. Ricard: again, Les Arts Decoratifs, through August 26
  4. Jews in Orientalism: Musee d'art et d'histoire de Judaisme through July 8, an exhibition on the perception of the Jew as an "Oriental" figure in art and history of the 19th century
  5. Matisse: a huge exhibition at the Centre Pompidou
  6. Degas and the Nude: the first major exhibition of the works by Degas in Paris in 24 years. Musee d'Orsay, through July 1
  7. Artemisia: Musee Maillol, through July 15; an exhibition of the works of Renaisance female artist Artemisia Gentileschi
  8. Rain: Musee du quai Branly, through May 13
  9. Twilight of the Pharoahs: Musee Jacquemart-Andre, through July 23

Oh, and tonight or tomorrow, Go see the Ballet of the National Opera of Paris dancing to Jerome Robbins' choreography for "Dances at a Gathering." That's at the Opera Garnier. Of course, you can also go to The Merry Widow at the Opera Garnier in a new staging of this delightful operetta.

Or tomorrow go to a concert of medieval music and Gregorian chant and Greg at Notre Dame de Paris in the afternoon, part of a concert series about Lent.

I think that's enough for now. Get out, go see, enjoy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Catching My Breath

Does anyone else have to declare a catch-up day? After yesterday's looooooong schedule, I collapsed. Today, I was just not ready for the many, many challenges.


So: time out.

I have so far spent today
  • blogging at my other site
  • correcting student assignments and posting their grades
  • writing student rec letters for a specific project
  • setting up and confirming my reservations this summer from Big D to Paris and back, as well as my Chunnel tickets and Jack's flight reservations
  • answering/organizing all my emails about divisional productions
  • plotting Friday, Saturday, and Sunday--many commitments there, too!
  • and petted Jack, answering his demanding whininess
  • Later: ordered postcards for student playwriting festival
Paperwork is a trial, yeah? Sometimes it all seems so huge: being a single woman means having to do the job; take care of the house, the car, the cat and me; paperwork past, present, and future. Some days, it just feels like too much, like a mountain of stuff that has to be climbed again and again.

Of course, one day isn't enough, but getting through 3 assignments/posting of grades is a triumph of sorts. As is making certain my bills for next month are completely posted, my travel reservations are complete, and my house is straightened up.

Oh, yes, and it's No Spend Thursday, too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Express Closet Experiment: What Lies Beneath...

I realize I've dropped this weekly entry recently, but perhaps that's because everything is going so well in my closet. Of course, the rapid change of seasons is forcing me to move toward spring clothes more quickly (which in the Big D means summer clothes). All too soon, it will be above 80degrees every day.

But while I've blogged about, thought about, acted on my closet's holdings, I am also a girl who is all about what lies beneath: lingerie and support wear.

The fact is that no matter how well you dress yourself up on the outside, it is what lies underneath that makes you look good. We all know what I mean.



I have this discussion with friends my age, but some of my acting friends have it with their female students, graduates and undergraduates. Even someone who's twenty and slim can need the right kind of support--in fact, most times they need it as much as someone my age, because firmness isn't an age-related factor entirely.

All women need to think about:
  • Pantylines
  • Sheer, transparent, and thin fabrics
  • Static cling
  • Jiggling and bounce
  • Breasts, waists, backs, bellies, thighs, and backsides

Of course, there's a difference in thinking about them on the beach or at a weekend party and thinking about them in a professional and situation-appropriate way.



For example: a job interview or audition (for our performance students). For instance: a family party with your grandmother present or your boyfriend's parents. For instance: a funeral or wedding.

In a job interview, you do not want the interviewer more aware of your panty lines or the color or the absence of your lingerie than of your intellectual and skill-centered qualifications.

At a funeral, you do not want the mourners aware of your pink lace tanga, especially if it is two sizes too small and bordered with taut elastic.

Right up front, I'm conservative. So take that as a marker of my point of view. I never think it's okay to see a black panty through white jeans, bare breasts or nipples bouncing or sagging in a T-shirt or thin sweater, a thong T rising above the waistband of a skirt or jeans, or jiggling parts in leggings or jeggings. Ugh.



My question: what are you advertising?

Of course, I was someone who developed a sort-of bosom by the time I was in fifth grade, and a serious bustline by the time I was in high school. For a long time, then, I've had a reason to be intimately interested in how well lingerie fit, and I've always liked lingerie. (My eyes are up here, fellas!)

Now that I'm older, fuller, less firm... I appreciate the benefits of lingerie that does its job as support as well as a pretty, feminine layer between your skin and your clothes.


For the next few weeks, I'll examine the issues of various types of necessary lingerie and it's pleasures as well. Manufacturers are working hard to convince us that they make pretty, sexy, working underwear for everyone--no matter what size or shape or age. Really? Let's see.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bad Coffee/Frugal update

  • Barnes and Noble replaced my Nook without a question--for free.
  • My U can't replace my 6yr old iPod, because we're not in the iPod business any more, only the iPad business--which I can't get.
  • Replacement iPod would be somewhere around $245.00 new.... wow! Gotta think on that.**
  • Phone continues to work, but looks wonky.

**Just bought new iPod--same style, same GB, same doodads--on eBay for $90: saved $160, because also free shipping.

Yes, I know I could just get a new smartphone and have an iPod/phone/etc. in one... but of course that's not me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bad news about frugality

Well, one little slip...
Saturday I spilled a cup of coffee partially in my purse (don't ask!) and apparently fried my iPod, my Nook, and my phone. Of the three, the phone still works.

The iPod was from My U, so they might be able to replace it for free, if we're still in the business of iPods. I got the thing in 2006, so it's definitely been well-loved and well-used. If I have to replace it, I can. The Nook is practically brand-new, bought only last month; I used gift cards and discounts, so that I really paid about 45% of the actual price, then sold my old Nook.

But I'm so used to the thing, I'll have to buy a new one if this is fried. Which it seems to be.

The phone is 3+ years old, but I love it. Don't want to replace it. Sigh.

This might be an expensive little cup of coffee.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What a Sunday!

So much done I can't believe it!
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning out/re-organizing the bathroom cupboard
  • Re-organizing two boxes of picture postcards/decorative cards
  • Casting the 9 year-old in my student's play
  • Talking to both guest directors
  • Send all emails about schedules, casting, stage managers, room assignments
  • Prepping class for tomorrow
  • Prepping class for Tuesday
  • Prepping snacks and meals for the next week
  • All trash out, all recycling out
  • Calling home, friends
  • Sending corrected manuscript to editor
  • Prepping clothes, lunch, breakfast, Jack's food for tomorrow a.m.
  • Making notes about summe rin Paris, response to annual evaluation, excerpts of African play
  • Putting flowers all around the house: daffodils, pink carnations, and stargazer lilies
  • Watering all houseplants
  • Polishing my nails for the week
And I've still got two hours before bed!

The Rock: Just something pretty for you

Tomorrow I start bright and early with search candidate breakfast at 8, then class at 9... and on and on until rehearsal at 6 pm, and finishing the day with prep for Tuesday morning and afternoon.

And I feel good!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

William Morris and the apartment

This weekend, it is all about the living and dining rooms: cleaning, straightening, decluttering.

There are no BIG tasks since I spent lots of time during break on the bookshelves and sofa covers. Instead, this is a maintenance weekend of dusting, sweeping and washing the floors, and attacking the lingering items of clutter on a one-by-one basis.

The focus are those remnants and my desire to move them out of my life or find a neater solution for them. This is a fifteen minute task series: kitchen time, open boxes of papers, and the trash or file bags.

No glamour here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sad news

Today I heard that my uncle passed away yesterday. Yesterday, I heard that the husband of one of my friends had died. All of a sudden, seems like there's so much sad news. Both men had been ill for some time, but that never makes it easier on those who are left behind.

Puts my troubles in perspective.

if I was in Paris... March 23, 2012

If I was in Paris today... sounds like a dream.

I am actually looking for an apartment for June in the city, to be shared with a fellow academic, and having some/no luck.

But if I was in Paris. The weather is much warmer, seventy degrees and sunny. Nice weather for a stroll along the Seine, taking early morning pictures of the river and Notre Dame and the bright sunshine on the stone buildings. Having breakfast in a cafe--outside--watching people hurry by to work.

Then once breakfast was over, I'd be heading over to the Tuileries or Luxembourg gardens, I think, to check out the budding flowers, trees, and bushes, enjoying the sun and the small crowds. Too early for many tourists, I think. Just being outside, seeing the gorgeous Paris sunlight and strolling, being a flaneuse, would be a great day. Bring a book, sit in one of the famous green metal chairs, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon... sounds heavenly.

It might be a good day to go to the Musee Dapper, where there is an exhibition of African and Caribbean masks that looks quite extensive and varied. Great pictures! I've never been to this museum, which is located in the sixteenth arrondissment, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The address is 35bis, rue Paul Valery.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I am impressed with myself!

My new netbook arrived this week, and I just replaced the 1GB Ram with a new 2GB Ram. Myself. Using a YouTube video.



Now all I need to do is replace the lame Windows 7 Starter with the real Windows Office software and we're golden.

Of course it's red, rather than blue, black or white. A nice brick-red. Mmm. It has a 10.1" screen and weighs something like 2 lbs. Nice sharp picture, quick start-up, and wireless connection.

Thank goodness something has gone right today!

Ama Ata Aidoo

One of my working projects for this coming month is directing two short staged readings by Ama Ata Aidoo, an African playwright, novelist, poet, and activist who is currently a Visiting Professor at Brown University. She was Minister of Education in Ghana and is coming to our campus for a conference on African Literature.



She'll speak on human rights in Africa.

So far I have worked with the conference director to set this up, chosen excerpts, and now I am casting the roles. It turns out that I can't use our students because it's probably during a Saturday rehearsal period and my chair and the director agree that that is more important. The upside of that is that I can recruiting students from all over campus to be in it. Three young women from one of the classes, but also some music and dance students.

The ironic thing is that the timing coincides with the very first day of our playwriting festival. So I'll miss introducing that first play; I'll have to sneak in late.

I think that's okay, however, since the Aidoo event celebrates huamn rights, women's rights, and a woman who is doing something very, very important in the world. I love bringing my students' plays to the world, but this is special.

Here she is talking about one of the plays, Dilemma of a Ghost.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Frugal Monday, after break

This week, I did a good job of not spending frivolously.



My best "not frivolous purchase" was a netbook and a 2GB upgrade. In the end, even buying an upgrade saved me $70 on the original price of the laptop alone, and since I had been planning the purchase, the money spent was definitely right. The netbook arrived Saturday and it is already my favorite thing. The netbook is a "mini me" version of my new laptop, smaller and more compact but definitely a travel item: it weighs less than three pounds. I'll be able to carry it all day--to the archives, to class, to pubs and cafes--and use it everywhere. I'll have to upgrade the software from Windows 7 Starter (ugh) to real Windows, but otherwise it's perfect.

After the last laptop crash, this became a necessity for me. I need something to back up my work, something lightweight for travel, something that is all mine for my writing and my projects.I carry my current laptop every day, everywhere, and it is not a bad thing, but ridiculous when I must put it into the IT shop for a week.

Beyond that: I met my grocery budget almost to the penny this week, but that included a couple of health and beauty items. My week's menus are set and ready, including healthy snacks.

My bills are all pre-planned for April.

I made $35 by selling my books and cassettes.

I made a bottle full of green all-surface cleaner, using organic soap, borax, and water. I'm trying it out in order to see if it affects my allergies in-house as well as saving me money (given that it "costs" 2 Tbsps. of soap + 1/2c. Borax + water to fill a 16 oz. bottle... much cheaper than even the greenest store-bought cleanser).

I didn't buy new spring clothes online, though I test-drove an order.

I spent my time cleaning my house, editing my manuscript, and grading papers rather than shopping.

It might be that conscious frugality is becoming a real habit and mindset. I hope.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

9 in 9, Saturday

Regular 9 in 9:


  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day
Creative 9 in 9:
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books-1,2,3
  5. blog every day--1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
I think the Regular 9 in 9 is done for the week, since I cannot see the Tax Man or take the car over the weekend. This is not too bad, however, since I accomplished even more than these things in the last seven days and still have the weekend. And I feel so very good about getting the books, tapes, and printers out of the apartment.

This coming week, I'll schedule both appointments, including coordinating the rental car I'll need while mine is in the shop getting its new bumper. By the end of March, these last two will be done.

For the Creative 9 in 9, I can see where my energy went: I blogged every day and edited my manuscript. Everything else fell by the wayside. However, I also wrote and submitted two of my three books reviews, which was not on the list but another "must do" of the week.

I also saw friends: two lunches, one dinner, several coffee dates, and multiple phone calls. In part this happened because I wasn't in class or prepping classes, focused mostly on work.

I know it's unrealistic to think I have the energy to work on multiple writing projects at the same time, given the rest of my life. Of course, I feel better when I do spend at least an hour daily on my own writing; it is an emotional and mental lift. I feel as if I am exercising and awakening the muscles of my discipline in new ways by expecting myself to write daily... looking to the future!

William Morris Experiment and Cleaning






 
I am truly amazed. Right now my home is cleaner and more organized than it has been since, well, October 2010. That was when I really started the process of applying Morris's statement to my home in practice rather than theory.
  1. I started separating out those items I no longer used or needed.
  2. I started donating loads of clothing, kitchen items, and household goods to Goodwill once a month.
  3. I started selling electronics on Amazon, alongside the books I already had listed.
  4. I started turning my better clothing rejects into cash locally and on eBay.
  5. I culled my huge collection of books, DVDs, CDs, and cassette tapes for donations and resale locally and on Amazon.
  6. I shredded piles of papers, tossed piles of old magazines, and bought a hand scanner to scan receipts and bills.
  7. I gave away and sold furniture on Craigslist.
  8. I gave furniture and appliances to friends.
  9. I eliminated duplicates in the kitchen, closet, and bookshelf.
  10. I bought a better vacuum, a better coffeemaker, a better bedside lamp/alarm, a better printer... and then got rid of the old, unsatisfying ones by selling, gifting, or donating.
  11. I improved my personal style by applying the Express Checkout Experiment.
  12. I improved my home with the William Morris Experiment.
  13. I improved my budget and my diet with the monthly Pantry Challenge. 
All this in eighteen months, even without any kind of master plan.

My home is cleaner in large part because I reduced clutter, meaning less "stuff" to keep clean or to clean around. The open space make me feel better, calmer and more relaxed at home. My bedroom is now a quiet, cool place to sleep or read. My bathroom is bright and cheerful with organized cabinets. My closets and cupboards are well organized and easy to use, where stored items are necessary and available. My dining room has space to have a few friends for dinner or a small group for a party. My kitchen is easy to work in and to keep clean, despite daily use. My living room is cool and clear, good for reading, listening to music, or watching TV.

What still needs work? The back patio. The car. The files on my laptop. The study. But somehow all those problem areas feel more manageable because everything else is so simplified and beautiful.

By October 2012, I hope to have these last pieces of the puzzle settled.

Friday, March 16, 2012

If I were in Paris... March 16, 2012

If I were in Paris... but surprisingly I don't need to because there are two incredible exhibitions  in town right now.

There's a huge exhibition at the Kimball including major works from the Clark Art Institute from Williamstown, Massachusetts--a small museum I love. Seventy-three paintings including works from Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, and everybody else in the Impressionist club.

Then, up the hill only a short walk away at the Amon Carter Museum is an exhibition of John Singer Sargent's paintings, again on loan from the Clark. Only four paintings are hung, but they are four excellent choices from Sargent's youth.

Combined with a walk through the Japanese gardens at the nearby botanical gardens, this is a lovely day.

9 in 9, Friday

Regular 9 in 9:


  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day





Creative 9 in 9:
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books-1,2,3
  5. blog every day--1,2,3,4,5,6,7
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1,2,3,4
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
Yesterday and today have been "days of achievement": the house got cleaned, the book review got completed, pages got edited, and I had a lovely dinner with a friend. And I worked with both my old and my new retirement funds, where the outcome was that I actually have more money saved than I thought I had. That's always good news. More writing, editing, and grading ahead.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

9 in 9, Thursday

Regular 9 in 9:


  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day
Creative 9 in 9:
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books-1,2,3
  5. blog every day--1,2,3,4,5,6,7
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1,2,3,4
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
Yesterday was a day off. I didn't get much more than some cleaning done... needed the downtime. Today however I met with the "new" retirement fund people (switch made by My U) and tied up some loose ends. Lovely!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Clutter-Free Closet and Emotional Baggage

Yesterday I had a conversation with my lunch friend about decluttering and our closets. This is a woman who once complimented me by saying I always looked perfect, so formal and dressed up, with everything matching--which struck me at the time as a kind of back-handed compliment.

Since that time, both our styles have evolved, and we've actually moved closer towards each other. I am less formal, giving up linen sheath dresses, pantyhose and pumps, while she has added higher-end soft tailored separates to her jeans-and-Tshirt look. This actually reflects our improved personal relationship as well.



Interestingly, at lunch yesterday I explained about my express closet experiment of the last eighteen months, moving from a fifteen-piece closet to a twenty-piece closet, where I rotate through the group on a regular basis, plus accessories, outerwear, and Tshirts. I've got a solid fall/winter closet and a solid spring/summer closet.

This co-worker gawked.

Good news: I guess my limited closet isn't obvious, because it was clear she hadn't noticed it.



I outlined how the experiment worked. Since we had gotten to the discussion by talking about decluttering our closets, that was my point: how easy it was to get rid of things once I knew which things I was going to rely on regularly and which things I was never going to wear. One thing I had not realized was how simple it all sounded when said out loud.

The conversation went on to other things, but my mind lingered here. I looked at my "not wear" closet again when I came home and realized I still had more clothing to shed, lots of it. The things that are linger do so because I cannot readily get rid of them because of their emotional baggage for me--some form of emotional baggage embedded in each piece. Thus next on my list is facing the emotional baggage and dealing with these things, one piece at a time.



I also rescued myself yesterday: I nearly spent over $200 in sale pieces at J. Crew. Tremendous savings off the original prices, but the three pieces wouldn't really suit me or expand my closet significantly. It is certainly that time of year when new spring styles tempt me, but more the need both to buy something (anything?) and to "improve" my closet is seductive. Fortunately, I took a look at the $$$ and details and then thought about the things I need more (a netbook, rent money in Paris, a new car). I left the site without buying. 

Good on me.

9 in 9, Wednesday


Regular 9 in 9:


  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day
Creative 9 in 9:
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books-1,2,3,4,5
  5. blog every day--1,2,3,4,5
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1,2,3,4
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
Yesterday was a sllloooowwwww day. I got phone calls made and completed some important business that had been hanging over me for a couple of weeks. And lived the saying, "When one door closes..."

Here's the good news: I have another great opportunity to make connections and build bridges across campus and within other departments. Lemons... lemondade.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

9 in 9, Tuesday

Regular "9 in 9":
  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day
Creative "9 in 9":
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books-1,2,3
  5. blog every day--1,2,3,4
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1,2,3
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
Monday was a tremendously successful day, right up until I got clobbered by allergies and sinuses. Lots done, but I had to crash in bed about 7 pm with otc remedies and the humidifer. Also, simply tired from the activity of the past several days: cleaning, packing up donations, errands, hauling, and editing. "Whupped" might be an accurate description.

Donated two working printers--one old, one new--to the Salvation Army, sold books/tapes to local used book store ($35 for household fund). Triumph of extraordinary proportions: I did not buy any books while selling! Sad news: no hits of eBay dress yet.

Today: lunch with a co-worker, appearance at a Dallas theatre event, then home to edit and grade, if I am not side-lined by allergy symptoms and remedies.

9 in 9, Monday

Regular "9 in 9":
  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day

Creative "9 in 9":
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books-1, 2, 3
  5. blog every day--1, 2, 3, 4
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1, 2
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course



Today was a big one: cleaned the kitchen thoroughly, changed the air conditioning filters, cleaned the three overhead fans, washed the sofa cover, took out all trash/recycling and washed trash cans thoroughly. I also made a green spray cleaner and ordered replacement health & beauty stuff.

Monday, March 12, 2012

This week in frugality

This week, I came in under my grocery budget again: This time, $34/40. I am pretty pleased with myself about this, as well as using my pantry/freezer combination as a foundation. This week, I'll cook:
  • steak with shallots and rosemary, using 1/3 of a 1-lb. steak, where the other two parts are still frozen
  • salmon with Old Bay and lemon, one of my standbys
  • chicken breasts with olives, lemon, and herbs (something like this)

I'll also be eating a fresh salad twice a day every day, including lunch. On Saturday I bought lunch from Freebird, a super burrito place in town. If one buys the 3rd largest size (Monster), it can be cut into 3 or 4 pieces and paired with salad for lunch; that's $10 for 4 lunches, combined with a small salad from the fridge.

I also made my bi-weekly catfood run, and it is probable I'll come in under $50 for the month in that area (catfood and supplies), too.

What else is on, this week?
  • Redeeming my Groupon yoga certificate for unlimited monthly drop-in classes
  • Selling my red evening dress on eBay... I hope
  • Selling books and cassette tapes to local used store
  • Donating two printers to the Salvation Army, with all booklets and cords
  • No spend Thursday #4 (last week, succcess!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

9 in 9, Sunday

Regular "9 in 9":
  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day
Creative "9 in 9":
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books-1
  5. blog every day--1, 2
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
Today I did all my usual Sunday things--grocery shopping, preparing food for the week, ate breakfast out, and did three loads of laundry. I can't believe it is already 7 pm: "spring forward"!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

9 in 9, Saturday

Regular "9 in 9":
  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day
Creative "9 in 9":
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions--7
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books
  5. blog every day--1
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor--1
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
As a bonus, I finally gave the chair and footstool I'd posted on Craigslist last year to a friend; she'd indicated interest in it some time ago, but we couldn't get together until today. There is a big, empty space that I relish.

William Morris Experiment, this week

Since this week is Spring Break, I've got a couple of projects on the burner.


First, a top-to-bottom clean of the apartment and car, meaning not a ruthless scrubdown but an overall buff up. In addition, this weekend I'll clean the kitchen and bathroom ruthlessly.

Since I've been tackling the apartment room by room, there isn't much in the way of big projects. This is heartening because I can move on to the study, which is the hot spot of the apartment. But specific W.M.E. elements that I'll handle this week include:
  • getting the wicker chair/footstool out of the apartment
  • getting the culled books and tapes out for sale
  • getting a pile of magazines to recycling
  • washing the couch cover and dry-cleaning my tapestry cushion covers
  • buying and hanging new living room curtains
  • washing and cleaning out car
  • cleaning ceiling fans
  • clearing out and restocking cleaning supplies, filling bottles, washing microfiber cloths
Sort of a simple week, in fact.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday notes & 9 in 9 projects



Yesterday's "No Spend Thursday" was a success, mostly because I was home all day. That doesn't guarantee no spending, of course, thanks to the 'net. I avoided temptation by doing my email and blogging early, then keeping busy with other tasks all day:
  • laundry: washing all small rugs
  • sweeping and washing the kitchen floor
  • shredding and taking out all trash, including recyclables
  • cooking a meal completely from my pantry: Sausage and Garbanzo Stew
  • going thru my closet for clothes that need maintenance or dry cleaning (at the end of the season)
  • planning my next three cooking menus from the pantry and grocery store
  • cleaning and fixing the bird feeder
  • napping (yes, it was necessary!)
Our Spring Break begins today, so in honor of 10 days of no classes, I am addressing two lists of "to do" tasks I've been putting off for this very occasion.



Instead of a "7 in 7" I'm instituting a "9 in 9" list, meaning 1 task per day for the next 9 days, until classes resume.
  1. Get car's bumper repaired
  2. Sell books, etc. to local shop
  3. Deliver printers to Salvation Army (no, I never...)
  4. Visit Tax Man and get 2011 taxes in (early?)
  5. Put dress on eBay
  6. Sign up with Habitat for Humanity
  7. Contact new retirement fund for re-diversification of funds
  8. Contact old retirement fund for information
  9. Clean apartment top to bottom in one day
Some of these tasks will take an hour, some a whole day. No matter. Several of them center on financial resources because by the end of March I want to be done thinking about monetary tasks on a large scale.



Because I have recently re-discovered that not including creative projects is, for me, the equivalent of going without meals, here are 9 creative tasks I hope to work toward, if not accomplish:
  1. finish 2nd manuscript and edit; submit to editor
  2. catch up with playwriting binge, for a total of 18 submissions
  3. write 5 pages/day on current play
  4. read 5 new books
  5. blog every day
  6. exercise 20 minutes daily
  7. edit 20 pages of 1st ms. for editor
  8. create two creative assignments for students
  9. create/design syllabus for new fall course
Again, some of these will take only a couple of hours over one day, but some will require time everyday.



The goal is to return to classes and the last 7 weeks of the semester with these things behind me, my batteries recharged, and my attitude adjusted for the long haul of the final push.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No Spend Thursday, #3

Well, I am home all day working. Perhaps that will enable me not to spend nuthin'. Cross your fingers.

Skeptical Jack

Express Checkout Experiment, Lately

In the last few weeks the E.C.E. has been working great, which takes one more thing off my "to do" list everyday. And you know that makes me happy.



How did we get here? Let's review.
  • I spent several months cleaning out items in my closet I would never wear again or, in some cases, ever.
  • I reviewed the remainder to select first 15, then an additional 5 pieces for the daily round
  • I spent time weekly making lists of outfits per day, working the 20 pieces
  • I deleted the few things that weren't working and replaced them with better
  • I focused on accessories like shoes, scarves, and jewelry to add interest
The result is that I feel as if I look better, daily, and in less time.

And I mean, I really feel better--without exercising or likker or spending money. Just time and thought.

Why bother? What do clothes and shoes really mean in the scheme of things? So many people, men and women, think clothing, fashion, and style are foolish, superficial, time-wasting, and petty. That clothes are just something to cover our skin against weather, embarrassment, and, well, nakedness. Of spirit, not flesh.



Choosing what to wear is a skill and an art. Like all human skills and arts, you can ignore it. Dressing yourself is self-expression--even if your self-expression signals your complete conformity to the pages of Vogue. It is advertising: what and who you think you are, what and who you really are, what you want from other people. That might be respect, love, authority, invisibility, recognition.

Like everything, you can be unconscious about what you do, or conscious of your message, self, and the world.



Here's where I am. I don't want to look matronly, middle-aged, boring, like everyone else. I don't want to look like a teenager, ridiculously young, sloppy, or like I don't care about how I look. I don't want to spend what I consider to be ridiculous amounts of money on trendy clothes, or clothes in general: been there, done that, threw out the $59 t-shirt.

I do want to look attractive, elegant, grown-up, classic, clean, original. Like I give a damn about my job, my life, and my bank account. Like knowing me would be interesting, working with me would be exciting, talking to me would be stimulating, and we would laugh a lot at new and old jokes. Kind of a tall order, but that's what aspiration is for, right?



Let's be honest: people judge us by our appearance all the time. Often, they find out we're not all that we appear, or maybe more, but rarely "just" what they see. We judge ourselves and then advertise it: I'm a casual person, I'm rich, I'm sexy, I'm powerful, I can't be bothered with surface details, I'm a rocker dude. We say it out loud: "Diva" "Juicy" "I'm with Stupid" "The Ramones." If we have no better ideas, we imitate: Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston, Mad Men, Ashton Kutcher.

Society says we can't go naked, so we've got to wear something. Like every other part of our lives, I think it is better to be conscious and free, than uninvolved and blissful.

But then I'm an Aquarius.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bad choices

In a post the other day, The Simple Dollar suggested that we consider five things in our lives that "inject poison" into our lives. Meaning little things that bring down my attitude, my self-esteem, and my finances. Here goes.



Part One: Identifying toxic spots in my life.
1. A friend who has recently begun to act as if I am less of a valued friend and more of an "old reliable." Changes in his job have brought him a new circle of people, and the result is that I am seeing less of him, and when I do, it is clear that he has "made the time." He texts and takes calls while we're at dinner, talks about people I don't know, and is constantly ignoring me at parties at his house in favor of newer folk. I don't care if he has more friends, but I don't like feeling like a convenience or second choice. I come away feeling irritable, unimportant, and like someone he can call "whenever."

2. Too much TV. Even though I got rid of cable, the current combination of Netflix and iTunes sucks me in, too. I come away feeling like I've wasted too many hours daily on that, rather than research, teaching, or writing, the things I want and need to fit into my day, things that will move me toard my goals. TV is passive and sedentary. I end up feeling tense and pressured to catch up.


3. Hamburger and fries. One of my favorite meals, but it definitely leaves me groggy and feeling bad for two days after. Also, I only get this meal at a restaurant, which means I am also spending money on this when I have a houseful of food, and unless the H&F is really, really good, it's too much money for something equal to McDonald's fast food. Which I don't ever buy.

4. "To do" lists. I tend to overload them, which means I can never complete them or accomplish enough. I'm sure everyone can identify the toxic residue here.

5. My school office. I don't like to work there, never do research there, and spend no more time in it than I must. It simply feel wrong, and I can't wait to leave.

This is the negative part of the event: identifying the small poisons that we live with or bring into our lives that bite into us. The really interesting part of the inspirational post, however, is the actions the blogger took to mediate or transform the bad situation into a good one. Right: he didn't just bitch or vent.



Part 2: Solutions

My friend: I have two choices, the first being to renegotiate our relationship solo so that I am not really friends with him any more (and thus wouldn't be expecting anything from him), while the second is to sit down and be honest with him. Truthfully, I don't know if he can take the honesty, but since my relationship with him is important to me, that's the way I choose to go. At best, our friendship will be stronger, which is what I hope will happen.

One reason I also believe the honesty is necessary: I am not the only person who has mentioned this behavior. Meaning it ain't just me: it's him, and it's costing him friends. But our talk will only about our friendship--not gossip.

TV: This is a tough one. Two thoughts: set a daily limit on TV hours, and add a reward system for bonus hours.

Honestly, I LOVE TV. Find me a good program and I am quickly addicted. More, I am addicted to reruns, like rereading a good book. Netflix streaming makes this way too easy! Yes, it's cheaper than cable, easier to opt out of bad programs, and works to my crazy schedule (all secondary reasons I turned off the cable in the first place).

My limit: 4 hours/day. Reward system: completing to do list = another hour, etc. I can negotiate with myself to make this work. Or I can always read.



Hamburger and Fries: Put myself on a no H&F diet. Replace this favorite meal with better stuff at a better restaurant. Keep from giving in to hunger/convenience pangs. Remember the bad way I feel after the short-term pleasure dissipates.

"To Do": Make a list with no more than five items on it for the day, keep on them until I finish them. Have real expectations, but let myself off the hook when "life" intervenes. Start there.

Office: Sigh. No ideas. I've rearranged, brought in coffee and tea, added happy student pictures. My feeling is more about the obligation to be there than the office itself. It's the long hall where my co-workers keep their doors closed, don't stop by to say hello, and where students only come to visit with problems. So one solution might be to get out of the office but stay in the building: to be present in the halls and green room spaces, to be outside in front or back--not just in my office. To stop by and say hi to my co-workers when they're in (which I try to do). To make the entire experience of the building happier, with my office only as an anchor.



In any case, now that I've identified these five, I want to work on them. Each one makes me feel nasty, often with a hangover into the next day. Today I'm just going to start with the TV and the "to do" list. Small steps.

Update: For the last two days the "5 Things to do list" has gotten completed. I did far more than those five things, but I got a definite sense of accomplishment from identifying 5 items from my overall list, doing them, and crossing them off. Everything else: there's always tomorrow! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Regular Thoughts on My Week, Thus Far

This week has been... weird.

Somehow it feels as if I've been moving through maple syrup all week. Every task seems to take twice as long, my "to do" list can't be conquered, and yet I am on task. I feel lumbrously slow.

And yet: my class yesterday went great, The discussion was positive, energetic, and went exactly where I hoped it would go.

I am getting things done around the house: laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator and cutting up healthy snacks, doing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom, hanging up clothes, cleaning books and tapes off the shelves for selling.

Reading and commenting on students' assignments: done and done! Read 15 different assignments and provided comments on each and every one for the students to rewrite these short pieces for Friday. Created and entered grades in an on-line gradebook for two classes.

Ate a healthy lunch and dinner yesterday. Got a massage. Picked up dry cleaning.

So why do I feel so very slow and ridiculously off the right path? Maybe it is pre-Spring Break blues, maybe it is because I do have a lot to do, maybe... I don't know.
Sigh.

Just... ugh. Blah. Yech.

Later: Feeling better. Maybe it was eating lunch and drinking two Emergen-C drinks, maybe it was sending three short plays to two different contests, maybe it was editing and revising 25 pages of the novel-in-progress... but I feel better. More balanced. Done with my class, now onto a meeting. Then home for dinner and tonight's work on preparing tomorrow's lesson.

The meeting was great: set up an opportunity for my students' work to be presented in reading form to a pretty big class of non-major students. So not a useless day.

Frugal Thoughts for the Week

This past week and "the frugal."
  1. I stayed within my weekly food budget: $5 on my $40/week, and $18 extra in sales/coupons
  2. I stayed under my monthly budget for "big shop" health & beauty/cat's needs: $10 in sales, coupons
  3. I set up a weekly $20 transfer from checking to savings
  4. I pulled out a tremendous pile of books and cassette tapes to sell next week
  5. I used my monthly membership at a local spa for a massage
In terms of "simple pleasures," yesterday I sat out on my back porch and read for an hour and a half, enjoying the breeze, the warm air, and a beer. In the middle of "so many things to do," that was a recharge.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

William Morris Experiment , Week 9

I'm still working in the living room/dining room combination. Last night I had friends over for dinner, which meant I had to clean and shift things for them. Easier than it would have been a month ago, no doubt: everything could be tucked neatly into the downstairs closet--which now has room. A quick vacuum and dust, and I was good to go.

This week, I am focusing on the bookshelves and media. I'll take a first pass through all my bookshelves (6 of them) with the goal of removing one of the small, not-go-great ones at the end.

I'll be culling my various media in this order:
  • Books: hardcoover, paperback, and cookbooks (an entirely separate category)
  • Cassette tapes
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Magazines (I've got a new stack, about 8 high)
I'll do two passes through each area, simply because I ahve realzied I never get all the books I want to give away the first time. Sometimes I just don't see them, sometimes I dither about giving them away, sometimes I think I'll read them again... soon. Wrong!

I realize that everything but the books will be relatively easy. I don't mind having a lot of books in my house, including those I've read some time ago, loved, and want to hang onto forever. But I have useless books.

This is a task I can take on while I do something else, like watch my Netflix films or listen to Pandora.

Again,my end goal is to remove one of the smaller bookscases entirely from my house.

Once I am done wiht that, I'll tak on these relatively smaller tasks:
  • find a basket for the tapestry pillows
  • get the basket chair out of the house to a friend
  • transform videos to DVDs
  • buy and hang new curtains in living room (hate the ones I have) 
I am getting close to the end-in-sight of not having to do a monthly Goodwill run, to being comfortably within a "clutter-free" zone. Then I can start on the study in all seriousness, since that is the last, great, final clutter zone in my apartment.

Friday, March 2, 2012

If I were in Paris... Friday, March 2, 2012

This seems like a good week to go walking on the Left Bank.

Over in the 5th arrondissment, at the Musee Cluny, there is an exhibition that closes Monday, 3.5, on Gaston Febus. The Cluny is another of the small, brilliant museums scattered throughout Paris; this one focuses on medieval life--and if you think you'll be bored, you're very wrong.


Febus -- or the very first self-named "Sun King" -- was a medieval lord of some skill, but also an early man of letters. A writer and bibliophile, the Cluny has a number of his illiminated manuscripts on view, as well as documents and other artifacts of his earl court and fascinating medieval rule.
The Cluny has an excellent bookstore and is best visited now, during cool weather. The museum also includes the foundations and remains of a Roman bath, again demonstrating not only how old the city is, but how many, many layers of history and living have occurred in this one, small urban space. The museum is housed in a medieval hotel, which is also worth seeing.

Then one might stop for a cup of coffee and some people watching along the Boulevard St. Michel, and continue to the Musee Rodin, where there is an unusual exhibition, "Capturing the Model." On view are 300 drawings by Rodin -- better known as a sculptor -- combined with a series of paintings by Paul-Armand Gette, based on his 40-year study of the female body; the Gette exhibition is titled "Artemis and her Nymphs." Both exhibitions run through April 1.

The front of Rodin's museum... note roses
The Rodin museum is of course in Rodin's home. One can walk through the grounds, and although June is the prime time to visit the museum for this purpose -- when the many, many rose bushes are in full blossom, with Rodin's sculptures scattered throughout the grounds -- the opportunity to see the house, sculptures, and grounds is fantastic any time. Additionally, there is a much better cafe now than when I first visited this site, 25 years ago.

Interior staircase

No Spend Thursday: Fail

Spent $2 for a cup of coffee at the cart at school! Temptation!

Note to self: plan for Thursday afternoon coffee yen.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No Spend Thursday, #2

Today is No Spend Thursday, #2.

This weekend, I'll see three plays for free, one play for reduced price, and use my Groupon purchase of a month's unlimited drop-in classes at my local yoga center to set up what I hope will be a promising month of healthy yoga classes, 1-2 times weekly.

Since I am paid monthly, yesterday was it. Already, my bills and credit cards are paid: got to love that online banking! I already went in and set up payments for April, as well; I am working systematically to pay down my credit cards, as I've said before, and so making that money disappear out of my account on the same day it enters... genius.

In addition, my rent gets paid automatically, and I have set up monthly withdrawals to my savings account. I feel giddy, I'm so practical!

This week I did pretty well in buying groceries: by my math I saved 50% of what I spent, which turned out to be just under $30. I do have a dinner party for four on Friday, but I already have all the ingredients for the meal. Except dessert, which might turn out to be something very simple, like pears poached in red wine. Only need to buy the pears.

Update: One of my guests insists on bringing dessert. So, no worries! 
I had two meals out, one with a former student and one with my brother-in-law, and both times I was treated. Both dinners were really fun, talking about film, the Oscars, and people we know. Thanks, guys, by the way...



Yesterday, I began culling the books, DVDs, CDs, and cassette tapes in the living room. Rather impressively, I filled up a Rubbermaid bin (one of my cast-offs) with hardcover books. I still have three book cases to go through in detail, but this is good. There are large gaps in the shelves, currently.


The next step is the cassette tapes, some of which I'll take to my school office, where I still have a tape player. But most will be sold with the books. My plan is to fill the bin, then divide it into smaller bags; over our spring break, I'll take the bags in and get cash for the lot.

My focus in going through the books was to identify books that I have never yet read (although I say I will), or have read once long ago and never re-read. Like clothes with the tags still on, these books can go! They don't "fit" who I am now, even if they did once. Or I thought they might. Also, duplicates in either subject matter or literal duplicates, where I can sell one.

The ultimate goal is to reduce my bookcases by one, by June: empty it, then sell the bookcase on Craigslist.