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Connected To Do Lists

I'm reading David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity after reading Clay's review of it, and I haven't been able to put it down. I read it while I brushed and flossed, and now I'm fighting sleep to get through chapters. The most significant benefit so far is that it has helped me to tighten up the connections between the tasks I lay out for myself and my desired outcomes and goals. The book is filled with little gems that I appreciate (like "There is no reason ever to have the same thought twice, unless you like having that thought."); most people would scoff at them, but I'm what some call a "stress puppy"; that is to say, I tend to get stuck in a loop of freaking out about a task, dreading it, and feeling guilty if I don't do it or if I don't do it as well as I had hoped. I don't have any trouble figuring out what needs to be done. My major problem is that I have a distorted perspective when it comes to tasks: I know what I need to do, and then when I do it, I feel better, but only because I can cross that thing off the list, not because I understand that task in terms of a desire of mine (which is the only way I can get real satisfaction out of it, satisfaction that can be a powerful motivator). For example, I'm looking forward to grading tomorrow, because I can cast that task as a "Next Action" -- an often-used term in the book -- in the service of my desire to be a good teacher, which is a major driving force for me. Sigh...I think I'm the last person to understand the direct application of the task-goal connection principle, but better late than never, I guess.

I'm looking forward to reading more of the book tomorrow, but it has already helped. I think now I'll divide my to do lists into two columns, one for the task and the other for the goal and desire -- the prize, heh -- associated with it. The funny thing is, a number of my friends and colleagues already tell me that they consider me to be productive. And for good reason, probably: I mean, it's Saturday night at 2 a.m. and I'm reading a book about how to get things done. On a few occasions, my last roommate stuck her head in my room and said, "It's Friday night! Stop working!" I'm good at creating the illusion of productiveness, that's for sure. Don't believe it. :)

Gold Mine

This post at Laurie's combined with my penchant for 80s young adult fiction got me thinking...what with all the vintage-mania going on, t-shirts with images of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield like this:

Books you'd write if you had time

What book(s) would you write if you weren't so busy doing your scholarship, teaching, and the 150 million other things you have to do every day? Here's one I've been turning over in my mind for about three years now. Maybe someone else will write it; I hope so. This requires some background, so bear with me.

In a couple of weeks, I will be thirty years old. :O I grew up in the 70s and 80s and, because I have excellent parents who read to me for as long as I wanted them to, every single day, running their index fingers along the words as they spoke them,

(not like that LeapFrog "magic wand" that the kids can use to point to a word and hear a recorded voice speak it -- every time I see those LeapPads in the toy aisles of Target or Wal-Mart, I get doesn't compare to the intellectual stimulation of having a human being point to the word and say it to the child. I know it's so hard to find the time to read to children as much as both parents and children want, and I don't intend to make any parents feel bad; I only want to point out that I was very lucky to have enormous amounts of time -- and money, what with all the book clubs my parents joined: it seemed that every day, new books arrived in the mail -- invested in my development)

I learned to read before I turned three. After that, my parents had to pull the books out of my hands when they wanted me to pay attention to some non-book-related thing. "Stop reading and eat," they'd scold. I far preferred books to toys, and I read everything. Now, when I bring up childhood reading experiences with women my age, we talk about characters in those 70s and 80s books, like Nancy Drew, Bess, George, Elizabeth Wakefield, Jessica Wakefield, Lila Fowler, Enid Rollins, Bruce Patman, Todd Wilkins, Ramona Quimby, Beezus Quimby, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her sisters Mary and Carrie, Caitlin Ryan, the Girls of Canby Hall, Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace of A Wrinkle in Time, Ned of Jelly Belly, Tony of Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Linda Fischer of Blubber, and Margaret of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, as though they were old friends. We felt these characters, knew them intimately. They inspired us. We looked at how they handled the situations we found ourselves in, listened to their interpretations of such experiences as first kisses, menarche, getting bullied or standing there doing nothing when someone we liked was getting bullied because we were too afraid to take up for our friend, and we knew we weren't alone in our self-doubt and awkwardness. When I say "we," of course, I mean white, middle-class girls; it speaks volumes that the only book I remember reading about a working-class African-American family was Striped Ice Cream.

I'd love to interview a bunch of women of all races and classes, to record their memories of these characters and what kinds of effects (constructive? alienating?) they had on these women, and then write a book about to what extent and how these books have shaped femininity in my generation.

Quizzin' it

I'm waiting for my friends to get ready, so why not?

Virginia Woolf: Orlando. You are a challenge, for
outer events, the outside world, the time etc.
play no importance to you. Your focus is in
writing, in gender issues, and inside your own
head. Self-analysis and exploration of yourself
as well as the outer world hold great
importance to you.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Via Palmer.

BUST Goodies

Every time I get my new issue of BUST in the mail, I end up finding things I want, but don't really need, like this t-shirt and especially this other one. I also found books I want and will put on my Amazon wish list but won't buy until after I finish my prelims. Non-prelim-related reading material is strictly off-limits for the next ten weeks. I have to read Aristotle and Denzin & Lincoln and such, but I'd rather read:

Spring Break Shorts

  • I need to pre-order the new book by Siva Vaidhyanathan. Also, now might be the time to buy an iPod.
  • Another article on gender in the blogosphere. Consider this thought:

    If you accept the premise of the blogosphere as a true meritocracy, a place where our intellectual (and emotional) impulses can flourish unchecked, then you're buying into the concept of the blog world as a window into human nature. If that's the case, the blogosphere -- with perhaps just four percent female participation in poliblogs -- shows us that while women are just as interested as men in spouting off, they're fundamentally less interested than men in spouting off about politics.

    Or perhaps people don't recognize what women spout off about as politics proper.

  •   Irish Sushi, via Rebecca Blood. Yum.
  • Ann Wizer, an American artist in Indonesia, is making tote bags out of ephemeral plastic bags (grocery bags, etc.). She did this in an attempt to clean up the environment and create jobs. So guess what happened...

    Not all manufacturing companies appreciate Wizer's efforts. Last year, the German soft drink company Capri-Sonne threatened to sue for trademark infringement. They settled out of court when Wizer agreed to distribute her Capri-Sonne bags -- her most popular design -- through schools only.

    "For the big companies, this is the real issue. When does trademark die? When it's thrown away or when it goes up in toxic flames?" she says. "Frankly, they should be paying me for cleaning up their trash."


  • A friend of mine whom I haven't talked to in years just emailed me. I can't wait to catch up with her. One night she and I attended a Gloria Steinem talk at the University of Tennessee, which a bunch of horrid archconservatives had also attended. She and I hung around and met Steinem afterward and then were so wired that we picked up burgers at Wendy's, went back to her apartment, and talked about feminism until about 1:00 a.m. Good times.

Spotted online

Just a few things I've seen online...this hasn't been the greatest past few days for me. Right now, I have a mouth ulcer that is so intensely painful I can barely think straight. It's under my tongue, on the right side, and it feels like someone has taken a knife with a serrated blade and cut half of my tongue off, leaving the rest of it there to hang on. And I'm reeling from a recent rejection from a journal, gah. I guess mouth ulcers and rejections happen to everyone, though, right? Anyway, to the links:

Some do Cat Blogging, but have you ever seen a blog kept by a cat? No? Well, that's about to change. Liat owns and is owned by the creative and brilliant Jasperboi.

Is this a joke? The article is written by a professor who has extremely severe penalties for tardiness, talking during class, and ringing cell phones. Quite lockstep, if he's for real, that is. Via La Di Da.

I want to see Super Size Me, a documentary about a man who eats McDonald's food three times a day for 30 days. He ends up gaining about 25 pounds, feeling nauseous all the time, and getting some rather disturbing results from cholesterol and liver toxicity tests. Via Feministe.

Earth Wide Moth is making me want to read some Gertrude Stein. I pulled my Norton Anthology of Literature by Women off the shelf and will soon be reading "The Gentle Lena," "Picasso," and "Ada."

It's time for a new baby blanket...all I can say about that is that it is not I who will be having said baby. Off to Jo-Ann for soft baby yarn and Walgreen's for Anbesol.

Book Review: Feminism and Composition

I am supposed to write a review of Feminism and Composition: A Critical Sourcebook, edited by Gesa E. Kirsch, Faye Spencer Maor, Lance Massey, Lee Nickoson-Massey, and Mary P. Sheridan-Rabideau. The problem is, I want to hide when I think about its behemoth-like length (589 pages of maybe 9-point font!). It's not that I'm such a tenderfoot that I can't read a long book, but I'm also taking courses this semester, working constantly on the blog collection, presenting at 4Cs and maybe another conference, teaching, etc. etc. So. I've decided to blog about essays in Feminism and Composition as I read them--at least one or two a week. I intend to be done with this review by the end of March. I'm going to try my best to blog like Clay. Hold me to it, now!

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