Day 16: Boolections

Work: 240 min

A lot of teaching prep. and reading for class. I got observed today. I’ll hear about it tomorrow. Honestly, I could really use some feedback at this point because I’ve never taught this course and sometimes it is hard to know what’s working, what isn’t, and what I could do instead of what I’m doing. I put a lot of effort into my lesson plans, PowerPoints and try to make discussions interesting and relevant, but sometimes I feel there’s a communication breakdown or that I’m not getting my point across well.

Social: 150 min

Boo Radley held elections. I really enjoyed being able to observe the process, hear candidates’ speeches and see how members reacted. Two fantastic leaders were elected as senior executives. I am currently in the process of applying for an executive board position. It’s more work and commitment to take on, but I believe in this organization, in what it can do for its members and can already see the positive impact it’s had on my life. There are two rounds after review of applications: interviews, and then, final selection.

I am a very new member so I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll get a position, but I still want to go through the process as I’ve found that thinking about questions on applications and interviewing is an excellent way to develop professionalism and the ability to articulate ideas about your work in itself. So I’m going to go for it.

Total: 390 min

 

Optimism

Over the last few years, as I have become increasingly interested in politics and immersed in academia, I have struggled more an more to justify optimism and positive thinking.

Positivity and the belief that good things would come to those who worked for them fuelled many of my childhood dreams. I still think it can be a great motivator but I often get annoyed with self-help authors and speakers who seem to dismiss any evidence of systemic problems that make concepts like the American Dream nearly impossible to put into practice for a significant chunk of the population.

I read articles everyday about the ravages of capitalism, the injustice of systemic racism and the vestiges of sexism. These are all incredibly depressing. But can I justify ignoring them? They sap me of my energy and make me feel angry and powerless, but am I deluding myself if I am less aware of the struggles people face?

I am considering reducing the number of articles I read on systemic discrimination and inequality. Not because I don’t believe these things exist, but because reading the same sad stories always leaves me in a near-lethargic state.

Right now, my choices can still impact my life positively. Some people don’t have as many options so I shouldn’t use inequality as an excuse to do nothing.

The Mystery of the Box

On Valentine’s day, I received a text from my old neighbor telling me that there was a package from VS with my name on it. I thought that was weird because I haven’t shopped their for a long time and at first, I assumed it was some magazines. I kept looking for a moment to meet up with her and collect it, but it’s been a busy week. In the end, I told her to open it and it turns out it was lingerie/night wear with a note that let me know immediately that it was from an ex. It was one of the most unexpected surprises I’ve had and I thought it was sweet. I haven’t seen the gift myself yet but it made me smile.

I haven’t posted because I’ve felt guilty about not exercising and not reading as much for my exams as I wanted to this week.

I’ve done a good amount of work. Socially, I attended meetings and events for Boo Radley, a luncheon, reached out to businesses for an event we’re planning and was generally sociable despite backing out of an event due to an argument I had with someone. I had an interview for a position as a teaching facilitator that I really want. I won’t know the decision until late next month.

I realized I need to be choosier about how I spend my free time with all this stuff going on. There are several areas I want to be successful in and that means giving up on some of the things I like to do, at least during the year.

Day 14

  • Work

– Grading/organizing course materials 120 min

-Reading lists: 45 min

-Film/reading: 92 min

  • Fitness

35 min cardio/ab work

30 min circuit training

Reward for working out: Spending some time looking at pictures on Pinterest. One criticism people often make of Pinterest is that people spend time thinking about what they’re going to do rather than doing it. I think this is a valid criticism which is why I choose to limit my time on it to after workouts only. I think that it is useful in motivating people, so I don’t want to do away with it completely.

Total: 322 min

Tales from the bus: #3 Rude people piss me off

I almost let my day be ruined by a rude man on the bus today. I really loathe rudeness. A rude encounter with a stranger can really leave me feeling annoyed and despairing of the state of humanity.

I thought that it was common knowledge that you let people OFF the bus before you get on. It’s the same thing in a lift or when entering a room. Basic courtesy. Apparently, some people didn’t receive much of an education. Today, I was right in the doorway, about to step of the bus, when the OLDER man waiting at the bus stop just pushed his way right onto the bus, shoving me aside. I was so furious, that as I got off, I told him he was a moron who should know to let people off. I don’t understand why people are so unpleasant to each other in public – what is the rush to get on the bus? It made it worse that this was an older man. I feel older people should know better than to behave like savages, and that men should be particularly respectful of women. I let anyone, male or female, off the bus first, but it particularly grates on my nerves when men are rude to women.

That’s my rant for today. I’d had pleasant interactions all day with people, at the supermarket, at an open-air market, and meeting one of the rude characters who rides the bus had me fuming for a few minutes before calming down.

La nausee: Valentine’s day and existential malaise

Great, you’re thinking. Another bitter Valentine’s day post. Perhaps this will reassure you: I don’t hate Valentine’s day. I think it’s adorable. I like hearing about grand gestures that guys put thought and effort into to show a girl how much they appreciate having her in their lives. I love receiving flowers, jewelry, lingerie, chocolate…all the traditional gifts associated with this celebration. Even better if there’s an element of surprise. I love handmade cards, creative gifts like a playlist, a video or a selection of annotated photos. I like romance. I’m one of those people who doesn’t think it’s a big deal that V day is commercial. Yes, businesses can expect a huge profit. But so what? Don’t they make a profit when you go shopping for make-up, clothes or motorcycle any other time of the year? And if you didn’t buy your girlfriend/boyfriend a gift at this time of the year, wouldn’t it be on another day? I just don’t see what the problem is. You don’t even have to spend money to celebrate it – just cook something nice for dinner, be creative and tell the person how much he/she means to you.

But I am a little resentful sometimes. I’ve never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s day and it’s always made me a little envious when I see happy couples at restaurants or girls walking home with large bouquets of flowers or cards or heart-shaped chocolate boxes. It’s not that I haven’t received romantic gifts in the past, but it’s usually not been on Valentine’s day. This year, I was feeling more resentful than I would have liked, because these last few weeks, I have made an effort to be more open to people, more generous with my time and affection and illogically, I expected a pay-off. Like I said, the changes are recent, and it’s unreasonable to expect an immediate pay-off…but feelings are irrational and I don’t have to be pretend they don’t exist on this blog. I didn’t even celebrate it with friends and this made me feel pretty lonely, especially since I thought I had some good single friends and have shown them how much I care recently.

And here is the lesson in all this: Dedication is staying committed to a change because you believe in it so strongly even when there is no immediate benefit. Like others, I’ve been caught up in the culture of instant gratification. It’s easy to give up on something if you don’t immediately see what’s in it for you and if the results take a long time to materialize. But I reminded myself that I am making these changes because of principles I believe in: I’m changing my diet and exercise routine not just to be able to fit into a smaller size dress, but because I think a fit body is tied to mental well-being and self-confidence. I’m being kinder to strangers and performing random acts of kindness, not so that everyone thinks I’m a fantastic person and to be popular, but because I think we could all do with more kindness and connection in our lives. I’m working hard, not only to be perceived as a serious academic, but because I think it’s intrinsically valuable to think about the topics I’m studying. It’s true that I do want some of the superficial benefits – the amazing body, the larger circle of friends, the glamorous reputation – but I think that sticking to change in depressing moments like the one I had yesterday is what shows my investment runs a lot deeper.

I felt so depressed, cried and felt sorry for myself last night. I stayed up too late, not really doing anything, and woke up late today. I felt so sick when I woke up. My head was aching, so much so that it felt like the pain was coming from behind one of my eyes. I felt so nauseated that I curled up in my bed. When I finally got up, I threw up and didn’t feel better until I’d had something to eat and drink. Once in a while – every few months – I’ll experience this terrible nausea and pain, that really has no explanation. It’s like being hung over from thinking too much. My dad explained to me that migraines are often the onset of a period of “release” after stress. They can sap your energy and make you feel like curling up forever. The last 24 hours have been strange, but I’m feeling better and will probably be back to normal after working out today.

Day 12

  • Work: 150 min (preparing for class, a presentation & a lesson)
  • Social: 120 min (Valentine’s day event to reflect on love & writing anonymous notes complimenting my colleagues + a letter of appreciation to a friend + small notes to my friends)
  • Exercise: 0 min

Total: 270 min