Decluttering

Fear not, dear readers, I am still here! The past couple of weeks have been busy for me—we’re trying to wrap up the first stage of a project at work—and so I’ve been working and reading and working on a bit of fiction writing.

I’ve also been decluttering. Now, I don’t think I have that much stuff. Compared to a lot of my friends, I’m very decluttered indeed. But there are a fair amount of things I have that I’m not so sure I need anymore. (Did I ever need them in the first place? That is a good question.) As of late, my focus has been on decluttering papers. My papers are stacked in various places throughout my apartment. There are the financial papers on a shelf I use for office supplies and other stuff. There are the old notes I have in a cabinet. And there are the completely old and random papers in my closet.

A couple weeks ago, I found a bunch of old papers from high school in my closet. High school, you guys! I didn’t like high school and so I have no idea why I was even hanging onto these. I put them in the stack to be disposed of, along with some other things from my college graduation (I’ve saved some materials from that event, but I didn’t need three copies of the same exact document). I also found old sheet music I never play anymore, along with a few old music articles that I have no use for.

The biggest thing I decided to declutter, though, are my class notes. Longtime readers will know I was a history major back in the day. I loved my major. In fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a person who loved that major more than I did. I planned on teaching history and ended up saving a lot of my notes from various history classes.

Except then I left the field and found something else to do. Don’t get me wrong—I still love history. I read history books, both nonfiction and fiction, and would like to write some historical fiction of my own someday. But it’s been over five years since I last took a formal history class. Did I really need a bunch of old history class notes hanging around? For ages, I’ve thought the answer to that was yes, but today I realized the answer is probably no, so the old notes are in the to-be-disposed-of pile right now. I saved a few papers I wrote that made me happy, but that’s it. There’s no point in keeping some notes around that I haven’t read in nearly ten years.

This goes for electronic version of notes as well. During my freshman year in college, I typed all my notes. I switched to handwritten notes during sophomore year, but I still had old Word documents from freshman year sitting on my hard drive. Those are now in the trash on my computer. I hadn’t opened those since 2008 or 2009. Did I really need that? Obviously, the answer is no.

What I didn’t expect is how good I feel after deciding to get rid of all these papers (and computer files). I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t even realize how much they were dragging me down until they, well, weren’t anymore. Seriously, the cathartic and therapeutic value of decluttering is seriously underrated. If you want a quick pick-me-up, go declutter something. It doesn’t have to take hours. I do it in fifteen to thirty minute spurts and I always feel great afterwards.

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A Labor Day Weekend in Bullet Points

  • I don’t feel like writing a traditional, proper posts with paragraphs because I’m tired, so I thought I’d use bullet points instead. I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’ve been tired all day.
  • I didn’t really do anything for Labor Day Weekend and it was kind of glorious. I mainly lounged around and read. In fact, I binge-read a Michael Crichton book (Sphere) because I basically could not put it down. I also needed to vacuum but I didn’t get around to that, but it’s no big loss. 😉
  • The weather here has been gorgeous for the past several days. Very low humidity, which is amazing. I’m always surprised at how much humidity can ruin an otherwise nice day.
  • I went on a trip to Arizona recently (last weekend, including Monday and Tuesday as well, making it a long weekend). I was so tired that I slept for eleven hours on Friday night. I will post pictures at some point—I haven’t even gone through all the ones I took on my phone! But rest assured I plan to create a photo gallery.
  • I haven’t been writing fiction very much lately, so I’m going to go work on a novel after I type this post. I also have an idea for a historical fiction detective story that I’m eager to brainstorm and write. I always brainstorm with a pen and paper—because I’m old-fashioned like that—and it can be really relaxing to just sit and handwrite.

When To Quit Reading A Book

At what point when you’re reading a book and not enjoying it do you call it quits?

When I was younger, I never quit books. Even if I despised them, I kept reading and stuck it through to the bitter end. This was pre-Goodreads days, so I didn’t even get to do any cathartic venting online when I didn’t like something.

After I started working and had limited time to read, I started being more picky about what I read through to the end. Plus, I enjoyed the freedom of not being in school anymore. In school, I had to read a lot of books, many of which I didn’t like. But they were required for class, so not reading them wasn’t really an option. (Unless I wanted a bad grade, which obviously I didn’t.)

Suddenly, after I started working, I realized there were a lot of books I just didn’t want to read. Moreover, I realized it wasn’t a bad thing that I didn’t want to read them. If I started something and just couldn’t get into it, I would dump it.

I still do this. My local library has a fantastic ebook collection and I’ve started many books that I didn’t end up finishing. It’s actually liberating because it means I have more time to read what I want. This doesn’t mean that I don’t force myself to read difficult books. I’m slowly working my way through Jane Austen’s works. I think they’re difficult reads, but I still enjoy reading them.

At least the cover is cool?

No, the type of books I’m talking about quitting are ones like Red Queen. Years ago, everyone was talking about this book. I decided to read it last year—only to put it down in disgust after a few chapters. I just couldn’t get into it. I figured it wasn’t for me.

Earlier this year, one of my coworkers said her sister recommended it to her. My coworker hasn’t read it, but said her sister loved it. I decided to try it again. I made it a bit further than last time, but I still didn’t get very far.

Last week, I saw that the library had the audiobook version of Red Queen available. I’ve been somewhat getting into audiobooks lately, so I thought I’d give this book yet another try. Third time’s the charm, right?

You’ve got to give me some credit: I made it over halfway through this time. I still ended up abandoning this book, though. I just don’t care for it. I think the plot is dumb and the characters are like cardboard. I know it sold well, so obviously I’m missing something here. I guess it’s just not my kind of book. And that’s okay because I will spend time reading books that are my kind of books.

When do you quit reading a book if you don’t like it? Have you read Red Queen? If you have and you liked it, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. When I look at good reviews of it online, I feel like everyone who wrote a good review read a different book than the one I did!

The Dark Ages

You guys, the unthinkable has happened: my microwave broke. It’s a GE, so that’s no surprise. A part in the door cracked and the door rattled when I closed it. Then I opened it and closed it and the entire door broke. The glass front part of the door slipped down and the door won’t shut.

The good news is my apartment complex is going to replace it for free. The bad news is they don’t have any in storage, so they’ll have to order one and that’ll take several days to come in.

Sigh. I’m stuck back in the dark ages now, everyone. I have to use my stove or the oven to heat up things. The horror! 😉

The Eclipse!

A sunset on Mars… or is that Earth during an eclipse?! (Just kidding, it is Mars. Source.)

I know that everyone, everywhere in America is talking about the solar eclipse tomorrow, but I’m getting pretty excited about it, so I figured I’d add to the fray.

I’ve never seen a solar eclipse and originally I thought that if you weren’t located directly in the its path, you wouldn’t see much. Well, that’s wrong, based on what I read. In fact, Business Insider has this cool map to show the darkness in different areas as compared to other planets in the solar system. If that sounds confusing, just click on the link, as the article explains it. I do wish I were in the path that would have darkness equivalent to Neptune because I wrote a novel that takes place partly on Neptune. (It’s science fiction.) And that would be pretty cool to experience how light it is on Neptune.

I also found a different map on the NASA website that says I’ll be in the path of 90% totality, which I assume means it’ll be pretty dark where I live. I’m pretty sure everyone in the US will see something due to the eclipse. The degree of how much you’ll see depends on how far you are from the path.

I’m working tomorrow, but I’m planning on going outside to see what it looks like out there. And no, I do not plan on looking up at the sun. I don’t have special eclipse glasses and I think I’d be too scared to look anyway!

How about you, readers? Are you doing anything fun for the eclipse?

Discombobulated, Again

Remember how I forgot to blog a little while ago? Well, I didn’t forget to blog last week—I just got all thrown off a little (okay, a lot) due to an unpleasant and unexpected event.

Last Monday a vicious storm sprung up out of nowhere and pounded the area I live in. At work, we got a little thunder and lightning and not much rain, but at home, there was wind galore. That meant downed trees and power lines, which obviously means no electricity. We’ve had a few power outages this year. The prior two were annoying, but the power came back on within four hours. This latest one was different. It took a good seven hours for it to come back on, so that meant the demise of the delicious homemade soup I’d made the night before (and had only eaten once). Basically, that threw me off all of last week. I don’t think anyone was expecting that.

So, rest assured, I am here and planning to schedule some posts. I don’t want to have yet another week without much blogging! This evening I’ll be working on writing of different kinds, which will include blog posts and fiction writing.

Also of note is the fact that I played my violin today. Hallelujah! I haven’t played in a while and it was good to play again. Unfortunately, my fingers became weak and uncalloused, so right now they’re a bit sensitive. 🎻

I forgot to blog.

Yes, dear readers, it’s true. For the past nine days, I completely forgot to write blog posts! I’ve been busy with stuff at work and recovering data from a computer hard drive at home. Moral of the story: you can never, ever, ever make too many backups of your data. My theory is this: if it doesn’t exist in at least three places, it doesn’t exist at all. 🙂

This week is going to be busy, too. I have a lot of stuff to do at work and I’ve been working hard on my novel after work. So far I’ve maintained a daily average of over a thousand words, which is the most I’ve ever done! (Except when I did NaNoWriMo, because to win that you have to average 1,667 words per day.) But hopefully I will not forget to blog this week.

Also, can we just ban Mondays? I really think Monday should be an extension of the weekend and we should work four days a week. Who decided to work five days a week anyway?!