Tuesday, April 30, 2013

up before the sun

Starting on a new schedule today. Last night I went to bed at 9AM. Up at 3AM today. Will do this for the next couple of weeks and see how it goes. The energy left at the end of the day is just not enough to let me do things. So I figure I'd call it an early night and get up before everybody else does and then do my own thing.

It's a different kind of feeling to check off your to-do list before the sun has even woken up.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Out of the Blue

I'm an Advil girl. But I've run out of the nice blue capsules so I have these red ones by Medicol. They're on standby in case the migraine hits sometime along the very long hours I will be spending working and cramming.

Doctor Who and Torchwood keep me sane and awake and optimistic. There is no other way but through this monstrous pile of data and out the end of it. Will it help if I think of it as saving the world from aliens?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I had a nightmare last night.

So today I will be deliberately seeking out positive and pleasant thoughts and things.

I would have much preferred dreaming about the Weeping Angels than what I actually dreamed. Which was standing in front of my clients about to start on a presentation and realizing at the last minute that the presentation was only halfway done because I had a false memory that it was already done. And all the time I thought it was happening for real. And it stretched on for a while, very long minutes of trying to figure out how to fix everything and not being able to come up with a good enough idea to save myself. Being whisked away by the Tardis would have been perfect then but I did not know it was a dream. It felt like the end of days, the end of a world, and it was so frustrating.

Needless to say I woke up feeling not well-rested. :(

So today I will endeavor to make that particular nightmare not come true and to layer it over with bright happy things.

I could use some cheering and cheering up.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Looking back, when this month was just beginning...

I was in a hotel somewhere down south of the country, about to begin fieldwork for a project that I am currently eyeball-deep in and trying to craft a report for.

N Hotel, Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines
Even then I was already a bit behind with organizing my data. What with my disk drive dying on me and respondents suddenly deciding to be difficult.

Yesterday, in an almost desperate effort to improve the pace of my work I tried out something new. I tried using Scrivener, an app that I use for writing my books, to write my report and to organize my data.

And guess what, it seems to be working! Nothing as dramatic as getting the report done by end of the week but at the very least I can hope for a finished rough draft that I can polish next week (simultaneous with the start of fieldwork for another project). I will write a full separate post on the wonders of Scrivener after it has taken me through the Finish Line for both projects (that would mean a bit of a wait though, like, around July).

Meanwhile I bear the pain of not being able to read the books I got on sale from Cagayan de Oro City -- Less than Php500 for all of these:

Doctor Who keeps me company on the very late nights that I force myself to stay up. But it gets more difficult each day, trying to trick myself to do the same amount of crazy work I used to do when I was in my early twenties. There are more important things for me to do now than work. My body knows it. My heart knows it. My spirit knows it. They have all gotten wiser to the tricks I make to make them work too hard or too long.

I bear it all for a chance to be in London.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Afternoon Break

I am at the hard tedious sludgy part of the work which is trawling through the raw data for patterns and themes and unearthing meanings. There is so much slow reading to be done and what makes it difficult is the time given. I think it would not have been so bad if I had enough time. But I never seem to have enough time and I always have to rush or I always have something else urgent on top of it.

Work has been rather slow since after lunch so I finally took a break and made this:

Derwent colored charcoal and Inktense on Moleskine
Now I am hoping that letting my inner child have free rein and make art will make it let me work with more speed and better focus.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Deep Working

1-inch thick single-spaced, font size 10, data documents for reading and interpretation

I have been a hardworking girl for most of yesterday. Got a good amount of work done and making progress even though I am well aware that time has not been on my side. I have barely a week to complete a report before another fieldwork begins and the report for that queues up on my Urgent To Do's.

post-it + pen + highlighters = manual mind-mapping. still so much better than any app.

Hence I declare this week as a full working week, no disturbances or interruptions allowed. No meetings or sneak-aways.

No rewards until I have passed the halfway mark, and then the best rewards saved for last. One of these is the last episode of Sherlock which I haven't watched : Reichenbach Falls.

How do you motivate yourself to keep on moving forward on a must-do task?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Morning

April is not my best month. It started off with two trips out of town for fieldwork (for me that means visiting households to conduct two-hour interviews with consumers) which left me too exhausted to write or make art. Then it has been a mad rush to get things done before another wave of fieldwork comes in at the end of the month. This cycle will last until early July and I have been struggling with finding the time and the energy to write and make art. It is rather frustrating, and it reminds even more strongly of how work can eat up so much of myself.

There was a ray of hope sometime at the end of the second week when I got to talk with a dear friend from years back who is now top boss at an ad agency and was asking me if I would be interested in rejoining the workforce as part of their team. I had half a week to think about it. When time was up I told her I was interested in exploring the possibility further.

So what does it mean? It means leaving the home-based work setup I have had for the past three years. It also means faster savings for London which is the most important and biggest dream I have right now. It means funds for self-publishing my books. It means funds for setting up an art exhibit. (With my old self, money would simply mean retail therapy.)

But more than the money, I found myself looking forward to a new social group. The one I was hoping to bond with in the past three years has proved to be very disappointing. I had thought they were my long lost tribe but I was wrong. It was just like high school all over again with all the cliches and givens and templates. I was an outsider in high school. You get the picture. Heck, I could not even expect a decent reply to a text message. Few things smack of being totally ignored and unimportant as a totally unacknowledged text message.

There is also the advantage of learning new things, and a change of scenery.

However, it must not be misinterpreted that I am bored. I am never bored. And I don't miss agency life. It is more like I see now that it may be time to step back into the old fray as a whole person compared to what I was before and to go into it with my priorities clear and my goals clear. Maybe this time it will finally work with me instead of against me.

I have tried many times in the past three years to consider exploring re-employment but each time the answer from my heart and my core had been a resounding No. This time it feels different, so I finally said Yes. Maybe the lessons have been finally learned. It is Time.

I still don't know how it will all turn out, or whether it will even push through with this agency or another, or when it will happen. But it will happen. I know that now. I will flow back into the system but I will be different. I come from my personal hero's journey, a Wanderer who needed to define herself, and now getting ready to shift into a Warrior, someone with a context and a cause and a purpose. (References from The Hero Within by Carol Pearson - a great enlightening book!)

So these are my thoughts on this Sunday morning as I prepare for some deep working (delving into analysis and interpretation of data) to make progress with the project. I am hoping that having written this blog post I will be able to do some writing with my Camp NaNo stories -- I am way behind and in danger of not completing as I have only written a bit over two thousand words out of forty thousand.

And maybe I can sketch something during my fifteen minute breaks.

How is your Sunday going?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Enough of Just Dreaming

I am Making Plans.

My target is to go to London within the next two years. Possibly the most expensive travel destination I dare dream of. Even friends who have "done" Europe rarely venture into England. But for me, London is my bull's eye. I don't care much for Paris. My heart is striped with the Union Jack.

No, it is not just because of Sherlock with whom I have been getting thoroughly crazy about in the past few days. But ever since I was a teenager I have been drawn to London, I can't remember now why but I do remember that while my classmates wanted to go to America, I wanted to go to England. Layer that with all the great books I have read that were set in it, especially the magical ones. The best authors are English, in my opinion. Layer that with my natural predilection for British bands. Layer that with my devotion to Neil Gaiman.

I have zero savings yet for this trip but I intend to start one...now. With a hundred pesos. A symbolic start. I will assign a jar for it. Then every time it gets filled I will put it in the bank - I have a separate savings account that I opened just for this purpose, for saving up for big things.

I will convert one of my walls into a planning wall. A giant vision board. A constant daily reminder of where I am going.

I can't say what triggered me into action. It is probably the Time for it to start happening. A critical mass of events and situations finally set things into motion. Many Signs have been lit. Messages have been sent by the universe in myriad forms.

That new Suede song "It Starts And Ends With You", I am finally beginning to understand why it called out to me and tugged at me the very first time I heard it, what it means for me now, why it is the theme song that hums beneath this big adventure.

Full circles. Re-integration into wholes. True Paths.

by Neil Gaiman

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never
saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted
front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.
Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat
However, if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can,
ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the
wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the under-
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She
may ask for something;
give it to her. She
will point the way to the castle.
Inside it are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.
In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve
months sit about a fire,
warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December's frost.
Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where
you are going.
The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry-
man will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to
leave the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble from
one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.

Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped
to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
When you come back, return the way you came.
Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).

There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is
why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the place your
journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden gate
you never saw before but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.
And rest.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

crazy about

and his friend John Watson. The call of London gets stronger every day.