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Morning Coffee + Picture Post

Travel Lamp

Sunday, my friend Emma texted me at 3 in the morning asking if I wanted to go to Duluth with her and Lance for the day. I thought about it, and I knew that I really should have been doing research, but I also felt like I just needed to go.

And so I did!

It was absolutely beautiful. I love Duluth, I would move there in a heartbeat. (Well, after moving out of the Midwest for a couple of years…)

Click to see pictures of beautiful things ...Collapse )

 

To see all the pictures of the Duluth trip, go to my flickr account athttp://www.flickr.com/photos/vintagewitch2010/.

Jul. 31st, 2010

Train
 

Written mostly on Friday.

I’m writing this blog post from my very good friend Sara’s house. Despite all of the things that I had to do this week, despite how crazy I’ve been feeling lately with details for studying abroad, I decided that it was important to take a couple of days and come up to visit her.

And am I ever glad that I did!

Sara is a wonderful person, and I was really needing to get away from the city for a while. It’s astonishing, how I can be fairly self-aware and yet not really recognize when I need to get away from the city. I couldn’t even really tell that something was getting “off,” it was just this general feeling of panic. And then I got in the car, and half an hour out of the city I felt this overwhelming sensation of peace and comfort, simply because I was on the road, the view of Minnesota fields at sunset was gorgeous, I was listening to the Beatles full blast, and was getting ready to see Sara for two days.

Life is beautiful when you have friends as amazing as mine.

I got in around 8:30 pm on Wednesday, and hung out with Sara’s dad until she got off work. He’s a pastor with the United Methodist Church, and has some pretty amazing stories about visiting Cuba, India, and generally life. When Sara got home, we just talked and talked and talked, and she took me out to see the stars. I saw stars. Without having to squint! It was glorious.

Yesterday while she was at work, I went to her mom’s office and just sat and worked on my research all morning. It was pretty glorious – I got a ton accomplished. Then after she got off work, she came to get me and we explored her hometown. She showed me the co-op, the cool little cafes, bookstores, etc. It was just so pleasant to be with someone that I see so very rarely, exploring a small town in Minnesota.

These past couple of days have done so much to clear my head. I feel like things are making much more sense now. It’s like someone cleaned out whatever was plugging my brain, and I’m thinking clearly for the first time in at least a couple of weeks.

For example, I’ve had pretty bad writer’s block on my research this week, and yesterday while Sara was at work I managed to work for four hours straight without really burning out. I revised the hell out of my essay, and then this morning I got up and did another overhaul of it.

And even more exciting: I’ve begun plotting another novel. Taking very baby steps, but the main character has started to unfold. Even if I don’t end up writing it, it feels wonderful to have a story rattling around in my head again.

This summer I’ve struggled with my feelings surrounding transition. After this point in my life, I feel as though very little will be the same. For the first time in my life, I’m facing the Great Uncertainty. I don’t have a plan, and that’s how it’s supposed to be right now. And I feel as though over the last two days, I’ve finally started to be ok with that. I can’t control what will happen in India (not a big shocker there), but I also can’t conceive of how I’ll feel on the other side of that experience, and I am so excited about that.

Because as much as I am a person who needs a home and stability, I also thrive with wanderlust. I do some of my best thinking while walking, driving, flying, riding the bus, whatever – when I’m in transit, I’m content. And this whole summer I’ve been cultivating my ties to the Twin Cities, but with the very real and new understanding that I’m out of here soon.

Detachment. That’s what this is. Not that I’m not engaged in what I’m doing, but I know that I won’t return to this city in the same way.

I don’t intend to lose my relationships with my friends here. I will always have a part of my heart that loves the Twin Cities. But I will have to carry them with me, rather than live in them. So much of me is made up of my friends, my relationships with people and places. It’s like this little center of self can be transported, roots don’t have to reach the ground. I just have to remember who is important to me, and where I come from.

I’m going to continue to work on this portable home.

I also have discovered a very distinct need for wild places. I felt this my Freshman year of college, but then wrote it off as me not “getting” city life yet. But no: I need to recharge in a place that is not teeming with people. Even getting away to a small town did me a world of good. And I remember feeling sorecharged and wonderful after the bike trip earlier this summer. While in school, life has been so busy that I haven’t cultivated my wonder at nature and natural beauty. It’s just been hard, for one reason or another, to get out of the Twin Cities for a weekend in the woods.

I think that’s something I will purposefully pursue coming back from India. I have a backpacking pack now, all that’s really left is a wilderness winter coat and hiking boots, and maybe some cooking equipment, which my parents have told me repeatedly that I can borrow. So now it’s just finding the time and doing it. And both of the places that I’m looking at moving – Seattle and Denver – have extensive parks very close to them.

No more excuses, Abbie. You just need to get out there.

Perhaps more introspection of this sort later. For now, I’ve got Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, a glass of wine, and a bedroom to clean up. Have to start packing for the move home.
 

Pre-Research Journal Update

Travel Lamp
 Today is going to be such a marathon! I'm trying to get in nine hours of research (done six already this morning, three in the afternoon), because I need to make up some hours for not being able to do them on Saturday.

My mom is coming to visit, which will be fun! We're going to the Farmer's Market, then probably grab some lunch, then take a bus trip somewhere (potentially Harriet Island), and then out for Indian Food for dinner! It is quite exciting! But that means that I won't be able to get in my usual six hours of research on Saturday, thus I need to make up the hours in the next two days.

But nine hours of research is a LOT. I will have to reward myself with either going to yoga (I woke up rather sore this morning, so that may not be a good idea) or going to services at the Bah'ai temple. I've never been before, and I'm quite curious. 

Content of yesterday's research and life panic attack ...Collapse )

Ugh. Anyway, so that is basically the content of yesterday's massive panic attack.

Contrary to how I was feeling about research during yesterday's panic attack, it went very well this morning. I have FINALLY outlined an actual argument (after about 17 pages of brainstorming, might I add ... good lord), and am just going to keep writing. I also started to read (again, finally) Edward Said's "Culture and Imperialism." Remind me again why I haven't read Said before now? Oh, that's right: for no good reason.

You know you should be a professor when: You pick up a book of theory, and decide that while you are reading it for a purpose, it is in fact a good bedside book.

Yes, my nerd has reached that level. 

In other news, I've been dieting again! There aren't really rules to the diet, and I think that's why it's working. Every meal/snack, I am just making the conscious decision to eat things that will make me feel good. As much as pie might taste good, I will feel guilty for HOURS. So I'm cutting back on the guilt by not doing things that make me feel guilty. Make sense? I think so. I've also been keeping a food journal, to look more critically about what I've been eating and hopefully keep myself accountable. It's been working thus far.

I have also finally mastered the art of Thai peanut pasta. Found a new recipe, and it was delicious. AND I have leftovers that I can eat for dinner. I really like cooking kind of complicated food, and especially love it when I make something that I realize I would pay $10 in a restaurant to eat. 

I've also been exercising fairly frequently. A friend recently suggested that I break up research every once in a while with something like sit-ups or push-ups. Something that will get the blood flowing again. I've been kind of incorporating that into the research routine, but haven't been doing as well.

I did, however, discover that there's a yoga studio blocks from where I live. It's really good, and is actually exercise. I am sore today (in a very good way) from yoga on Tuesday. AND it's a "suggested donation" of $8 per lesson. So that's been awesome. I'm finding that I really, really like the post-heavy-exercise feeling. Not so much while I'm doing it, but I like the aftereffects.

Tonight I'm going to Bah'ai services tonight, and so I think that my next post will probably be about spirituality and exploration and such.

Blogging and Identity Construction

Travel Lamp
Note: This post was written over at my wordpress blog to help me hash out my relationship with different forms of social media. As an experiment in relation to these feelings, I've started this livejournal, anew, to see if I like it better.

It seemed a fitting first post, as it is truly what inspired me to create this journal.


 

Introducing the topic (kind of unneccessary)Collapse )

 

I’m not new to the online social networking community. I’ve kept a blog in various forms since 2003 (holy hell that’s a long time ago), I participated in the Harry Potter fanfic community for pretty much the span of time it took to get all of the books published (yeah, I’m a vet), I joined Facebook in 2007, and have been working on building a national media/communications strategy for a start up nonprofit. That’s a lot of experience with social networking. I’d like to hope that perhaps, due to this amount of experience with the internet community, the ways that I use it are intelligent, and not troll-ish.

What I am having a problem with is the inherently narcissistic nature of building an online identity. Twitter is basically like yelling something into a large group of people, Facebook stores pictures, information, and multitudinous status updates, and a quick way to connect with friends. Blogging is weird – it’s like keeping a diary, but I’m ok with people reading it, which is kind of counter to the original idea of a diary anyway.

I’ve been thinking about these things for a long time. It’s time to figure out what all that thinking means. So here you see my list of things that I like about each of these social media outlets, in an attempt to personalize my own internet community experience in a way that makes sense and is healthy.

(That sounded terribly dramatic – I swear it’s not.)

Facebook

Pros:

*Keep in touch with friends from around the country
*Friends that are good at taking pictures post them, and I can look at them (I’m awful at uploading my own photos)
*Multiple ways of contacting people – with multiple levels of privacy
*I can control exactly what other people can see using Facebook’s customized privacy settings
*Keep up with events going on where I live, follow causes/businesses I support using Facebook’s pages
*Create my own events and invite people to them – fairly organized system for doing this

Cons:

*HUGE time sink. I mean really.
*Can lead to stalker-like tendencies, and the following social anxiety they entail
*I find it difficult to weed out what I’m immediately interested in vs. what is on my homepage. I’m sure there’s a way to do this, I just haven’t figured it out yet.
*Spend too much time getting distracted and procrastinating.

Twitter

Pros:

*I can follow accounts that aren’t people I know – some of my favs are @BPGlobalPR (sort of Yes Men-like twitter account that is constantly slamming BP) and @feministhulk (yes, it is as awesome as it sounds)
*NOT a huge time sink like facebook. I can just check it and be on my way, rather than getting consistently sidetracked.
*Find out about some concerts, specials, and sales that way
*Good source of news streaming – especially since I follow @mprnewsq and @nprnews
*I can update my Facebook status, the “Running Commentary” section of the blog, and update Twitter all at once
*There are some really good things about twitter that aren’t related to my personal life, but are amazing for organizations

Cons:

*SO MANY ADS. I mean, it’s because I follow things like @threadless and @Etsy, but sometimes it’s like my feed is full to the brim with ads
*Tweeting feels disingenuous, impersonal, and all-around slimy self-promotion-ish
*It feels like shouting something out to a room of people and not getting any response. What’s the point of tweeting if no one’s following?
*I sometimes feel as if I’m not saying things enough, or the things that I’m saying aren’t important. Don’t want to tweet for the sake of tweeting

Livejournal

Pros:

*Varying levels of privacy – I can control who reads what. I can even make it just an entry for myself
*More suited to being a diary than wordpress – again, differing layers of privacy
*Friends! “Following” someone on wordpress is different from being on their friendslist on Livejournal
*It’s not about getting people to follow you. There isn’t that imposing “stats” box like on WordPress.
*”Writer’s Block” prompts are sometimes quite interesting and get me thinking.

Cons:

*My livejournal has been around since 2003. I could use a fresh start.
*I’m in too many stupid communities that I don’t care about. Cleaning that out would be a good idea.

WordPress

Pros:

*Can see how many people follow you – and how they got to the blog (much more useful for activism/work than for personal entries)
*The pages, categories, and tags are very good – easy to organize things, clean and streamlined
*Very customizable widgets – not available on Livejournal
*Feels more professional. But that could be because my Livejournal is from 2003. Oh, high school, how scary the archives are …
*See above: less archival baggage

Cons:

*Lacks a good “friends-list” type of privacy system.
*No friends page. It’s less about who you follow, and more about what you write.

Wow, good thing that’s out of my system for a bit. It feels good to look at these thoughts on “paper.”

But for now, this is a ridiculously long entry.