Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Upcycling Dirty Bags and Recycling Writing

I bought a messenger bag at the Slow Food headquarters in Bra, Italy (see the bad trip blog post, it was then: Dirty Laundry). It was an *upcycled* grain bag. Bits of plastic quickly crumbled and dandruffed all down me. On 2/9/13 I turned it into a notebook. I preserved the penholders/pouches, used the straps for straps.

I took old drafts, old paper work, old paper that had some crap on one side of it, and sewed it into a kind of binding into this book. This became my Pomodoro book.  I’m a devotee to the Pomodoro method. Google it.

This is the gist- pick a task that is reasonable to do in about two hours, do that task in 4 sets of 25 minute intervals. Mark each interval. When 4 are complete, you’ve done a “pom.” A thing to understand about the time-pom continuum: they get you going and most days you (or I) end up working past the pom-boundaries. All of the following counts are structural minimums.
It’s also important to note that I teaching as many classes as the uni will let me, plus working as many hours as possible as an ESL consultant. It barely pays the bills. Driving around has been a big chunk of my life. On average, I’d put this work and travel time at 45-50 hours a week. That’s important context.

From Italian for “tomato.” Dude that invented it used his kitchen timer that, allegedly, looked like a tomato. Here is mine. The tomato-looking ones are too rich for my blood. I do, however, have a pile of sticker that began with a Christmas tradition—I’d get stickers in my stocking if I had been good.

The stickers didn’t stop. As a woman in my early-30’s I had no idea how to use them in my life. (Didn’t feel right using them whilst grading college papers.)

Since 5/31/13 It has been my rock. My dates, times, durations, who, where, and what with. Defeats and successes, the place of my menstrual cycle in my writing process (if I’m being honest about biology), and souvenir stickers from friends that I may or may not have entrapped into doing poms with me).

This is what I know from my records: I began preparing for my PhD exams *on the record* as of  Friday 5/31/13 and ending on Sunday 11/10/13, I did 59 ¾ poms in prep. That’s 1,500 minutes. 25.833 hours. My exams took 24 poms. 600 minutes. 10 hours. A lot of Math follows.

I “officially” started my dissertation on 1/7/14 at 2:16 pm. In 2014 I did a total of 142 ½ poms. 3,562.5 minutes. 59.375 hours. Some of that was writing conference papers. Some of it was a chapter on Beowulf in Lessons in Disability . A large chunk went toward dissertating.
2015: 139 poms, 4,475 minutes, 57.91 hours. Just shy of 2014, but pretty much the same (142 ½ vs 139 poms).

 [That summer I only took 8 full days off of writing. I thought that was unhealthy, and determined to take more “time for me” this summer. I took two FULL days off recently (Sunday and Monday), felt like shit, and decided not to do that ever again.]

So far in 2016 I’ve done 103 poms. 2,575, 42.91 hours. And today I retired the pom book in favor of a recycled marc jacobs’ purse from sal-val, this time with binder rings so I can add more recycled-draft-pages as needed. My first stickers are ones I brought back from the Oxford Library gift shop.

This year I’ve revised a dis chapter into an article, completed the draft of my dissertation, wrote more conference papers, prepared a grad-level-seminar that I taught at Kent University, and upcycled an old seminar paper into an article called "Tales From Nowhere: Burma and the Lonely Planet Phenomena") in Antae .

Out of context, this time looks like nothing. “2016: 42.91 hours?! How is that anything?” I worked longer weeks in summer jobs in high school—let alone from Jan to June! But there’s the time the stickers don’t count.

They don’t count the time spent thinking and talking things out. The over-writing like over-running a base.  Presenting at conferences, travel time to libraries, gearing up to write, and cooling your brains off. The writing time of not writing. I have not marked that. Reduce/reuse/recycle it when you can (without self-plagiarizing, obvs).

I respect people that are transparent in how much time it takes to get shit done. And those that make the time to get shit done. Getting the butt in the chair (using stickers or not) and doing the work is the hard part. I respect people that have an honest dialogue with themselves about their time.


Author's Note: no blogging is counted in pom time. Ever. There are rules!

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