Out of the funk!

A few days ago, I had posted about my struggles and frustrations with trying to feel motivated to do things. The next day I had “class” where I talked about some of my blocks and got a ton of support from my cohort and professor. Having the opportunity to talk about it with other people, and just having conversations in general, really helped me wake up.

Since then, I’ve been making a point of going to bed at the same time, aiming to get my eyes closed by a certain time, and getting up at the same time. I’ve also been working on having lunch in addition to my breakfast bowl of cereal and dinner. It’s really been helping so much!

The past four days, I’ve been getting to my dissertation, book chapter, and grading. It’s something that I’ve been trying to do, but I’ve been having trouble regularly doing. Especially with the end of the semester being on Friday. At least once I get the final grades in, I can take a break from having to worry about teaching on a daily basis. Until the class I’m teaching starts up in July. Granted, I’ll probably just take the rest of May off to focus on getting the book chapter draft finished and resume working on getting the class set up in June.

All of this was to say, don’t give up! If you’re in a slump or a funk or hit the “COVID wall,” keep going! You’ll find the way to get your head clear and focused and motivated again. It will happen!

Been Feeling Funky

This past week I’ve been struggling. My alarm will go off and I hit snooze. I’ll look at the clock, see time has passed, go “I should get up,” stretch, and stay in bed. Eventually I’m able to get myself out of bed, get dressed, and get my morning bowl of cereal. Not much has been getting done after that.

It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because I have been able to snap myself out of it by now. It’s frustrating because I have work to do, I have students to keep teaching, I have their work to grade. It’s frustrating because I have a dissertation to get started and a book chapter draft to get finished.

Instead of working on any of that, I’ve been binging TV, trying to go to sleep and reading for hours, and having a screwed up sleeping and eating schedule. The past two days I’ve been working on getting pieces made for costumes instead of getting any work done on things that need to be done, like making masks or getting grading done. It’s frustrating.

Today has been different. I still had to “force” myself to get out of bed. But it was a little earlier than yesterday. I had my usual bowl of cereal, but I’ve also had a sandwich for lunch. I watched the documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution which got me thinking about how I teach my classes and what more I should include when teaching about disability. That got me to work on my dissertation some more.

I’m trying to make conscious decisions today that will help me get out of this funk I’ve been in. I’ve spent the last two days hyper-focusing on costumes and sewing things other than masks. Losing hours of time without realizing it. Today, I’m trying to take on a number of smaller tasks so I can get more done, but also not lose track of time. It’s working so far. I just hope it carries over and I can get back to a more regular sleep and wake schedule that I’m used to.

Stay-at-home frustrations

I want to start off by saying I completely agree with all stay-at-home orders and I am not, in any way, advocating for lifting them any time soon.

I am lucky enough to have a job that I can continue to do from my home. Classes were moved online back in March and, as an instructor, I was not expected to suddenly turn my in-person class into an online class. I just needed to figure out the best way to keep the class going but in a way that students could do it online. My paycheck has not been affected, thank goodness. In fact, because I am no longer driving up to campus and back three times a week, I am actually getting more paycheck.

But, that means I’m at home all the time. I’m happy to do it to help flatten the curve, but it has gotten to me. I was expecting it to a degree, but it’s still not quite what I was figuring. When I have no reason to be up at a specific time, my sleep schedule gets all sorts of thrown off. My motivation tends to disappear as well. It’s probably due to the probably un-diagnosed ADHD I have. It tends to take a couple of weeks before that kicks in, but it always does.

Well, it’s kicked in. And not being able to go out doesn’t help. Honestly, the worst part is the feeling of being trapped in the apartment sometimes. My hubby has been increasingly working from home – thankfully. But that means he needed to get a second computer set-up going so he can work from home. There was only one place where he could set things up, the dining room table. Once we cleared off enough space, he got the computer up and running with no problems. Unfortunately it means he has to sit in front of the front door.

Usually it’s not a problem. The problem comes up when it’s nice enough outside that I want to take the bike out for a ride. I’d potentially be interrupting his work to be able to get out of the apartment with the bike. He takes calls, so he could go from doing nothing to working in a second. And with my luck, I’d be about halfway out the door and he’d need his computer. I’m just not willing to risk it. Then, of course, on the weekends, the weather gets cool and damp – the opposite of biking weather for me.

I think I’m getting out of my slump. I’ve been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. I’m starting to get motivated more – I was finally able to finish a bunch of masks yesterday, which I will be posting about soon. But, I know, this won’t be the usual “out of my slump.” This will get me out of the slump and back into my everyday quarantine life. A life where I am happy to be up and out of bed by noon, am happy to do at least a little work on my writings, get a little grading done, and just try not to fall behind on things. Considering this is probably what life is going to be like for a while, I hope I can get a regular rhythm to things soon.

Giving the GladRags a Go

So, I finally have the chance to give the GladRags a try. Instead of posting daily about it, I’ll just stick to this one post about the week.

Day One

I started out with just the basic liner. As soon as I put it on, I was amazed at how little I noticed it. Even the most comfortable commercial pads are noticeable. They are so comfortable! I had the liner on overnight and it did its job well. Unfortunately for me, it has just a little wiggle room and that combined with my undies not wanting to never move, I had to move up just for better coverage. It might be better for the later days when I’m trailing off and know the lighter coverage is needed.

I’m up to a full pad with both inserts just to see how long they last. Right now I’m doing a lot more sitting than anything else, which means flow gets focused in one spot. That hasn’t been a problem before because the material is designed to pull things away from the center and distribute them. Maybe that will work with the inserts too.

It never reached the second insert, and even the first didn’t get much. Most of the absorption happened in the holder, not the inserts. But, then again, it’s only day 1. Flow is still pretty light.

It’s definitely worth the investment. I even ordered some more liners and pads. I want to be able to go as long as I can on these before I run out and have to switch back to mass-produced pads. This may be one of the best decisions I ever made!

Day Two

I am really glad that I bought more yesterday. Because I’ve only got so many, I used a disposable pad overnight and it took a while before I wasn’t itchy anymore. It’s not horrible, but I never realized how much it was related to the disposable pads.

After getting up for the day, I put on another full pad – both inserts in the holder – to see how long it would last. Then I discovered a problem. When I do a lot of walking, like when going grocery shopping, things tend to slide backwards. Part of that, today at least, may be due to the fact that I was wearing my newest Utilikilt, and thus there wasn’t clothing keeping things in place down there.

But the rest of the day has been great so far. Once we got done with groceries, it’s mostly been back to sitting. I’m still going on that one pad, many hours later without any leaks. Granted, I haven’t checked to see if the second insert has started getting saturation, but it hasn’t made it through it yet. It’s good to know that I can wear it for 8+ hours if I need to, at least on day 2. Tomorrow is going to be the real test.

Days Three & Four

I decided to stick with disposable for the two heavy days. I only have one cloth pad left until the new shipment arrives. I want to save it for the next day when things start to lighten up.

Day Five

Since over the hump, I figured I had enough to get me through the rest of the week without using disposable during the day. I was right! I use the last pad today with both inserts and the second insert was untouched after 12 hours! So much more comfortable!!

Day 6

Last day. I pulled out my last plus liner and was able to wear it all day without any leaks. I know they say to change them as often as you would before, but there were times I would change a pad or liner just because of the smell. Not a problem at all with these. They breathe so much more that they still smell fine even after 12 hours.

I would say this was pretty successful for a first time. As soon as I can afford it, I’m going to buy a bunch of Day Pad Plus holders to increase my inventory. My latest order of 3 Day Pads and 3 Plus Liners arrived today, making next month much easier to go without disposables. But, since each pad comes with 2 inserts, and I rarely need both, I figured more holders would be useful. Also, the plus are longer than the regular, which will be useful for not sitting around all the time and overnight.

I’m also awaiting one last order: an XO Flow. The XO Flow is their cup, which I have been thinking about trying for a while now. I figure, since I have just enough pads to get me through, I might as well get the cup and just go for it. It has a bit of a learning curve, I’ve read, so there will still be plenty of pads being used. But it can be worn up to 12 hours without having to be emptied. I’m hoping to have the hang of it by the time I’m on campus regularly again. 12 hours would cover that time and I wouldn’t have to worry about transporting pads or leaks getting to my pants by then.

It looks like I am going to be able to eliminate a little more trash every month now! Yay for GladRags!!

I am writing this on my own. GladRags is not sponsoring me in any way to write this. I simply wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it helps others.

#WorldBookDay2020

According to Twitter, today is World Book Day. I thought about just listing all the books I’m reading right now, but then I realized that I have a blog where I can talk about all of them and post the entry to Twitter! Because I am currently reading 13 different books. Well, reading may be a strong word to use for some of them…

The Sum of All Fears
by Tom Clancy

At the end of last year I decided to read Cardinal of the Kremlin because I didn’t remember reading it of those early Jack Ryan books. After I finished it, I just went for a read from the in-series chronological order. Right now I’m up to The Sum of All Fears which I don’t think I read before. As with most of the Jack Ryan books, I’m really enjoying it.

Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life
by Humble the Poet

I picked this up for free on Kindle between it being on sale and having credits. This is great for reading a chapter or two when I need a break from everything. It’s a great read. It is spiritual and so refreshing.

Alexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow

This has been on my “currently reading” list for the longest. I picked it up back in March 2016. The only reason it has taken so long to read is I don’t have time to get absorbed by the amazing writing and spend hours reading it. Chernow is a wordsmith and is able to bring history to life in a way that I had not experienced before.

Introducing Cultural Studies
by Ziauddin Sadar, Borin Van Loon, and Richard Appignanesi

This is part of the Graphic Guide series that gives an introduction to different scholars, areas of study, and theories in a graphic novel way. I love the combination of illustration with the words, as well as another scholar’s take on things. This book has really been interesting because it talks about Cultural Studies in different countries, not just the idea of cultural studies in one context or another. It’s given me a better grasp on what Cultural Studies can mean, as well as what most people think of here in the US.

They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing
by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

This is the one book that I have assigned to read this semester. In it they talk about how to bring in sources into your argument while still maintaining your voice in your work. It is going to be really helpful when I get to that point in my dissertation writing. Right now it’s a lot of the “I Say” side of things, which is just as important as the “They Say” and bringing the two together. I highly recommend it for anyone who is doing academic writing.

The Craft of Research, 4th Ed
by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald

I also recommend this for academic writers. It was recommended to me by my theory professor way back when I started my PhD work. This is actually my second or third time going through. They break research down into the steps and then break those steps down and give really useful advice. It makes the research process feel less overwhelming and more possible to do. I’m probably going to reread it every time I have a research project, because each project is different and I get something different from it each time I read it.

From Dissertation to Book
by William Germano

This book was recommended to me by the editor of a publishing company that I really love. I had asked for advice about turning my thesis into a book and she, and the rest of the panel, suggested this book. I haven’t read much, but it has also been helpful in helping me with my dissertation. What I’ve read so far talks about the differences between a dissertation and a book. I turns out I had been thinking about my dissertation like a book instead of a dissertation. Seeing those differences explained really helped me get started in the writing process and just getting the chapters figured out.

Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean
by Douglas Wolk

I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I got back to this book. I do remember it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it’s really interesting for a comic scholar.

Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of the Family
by Gail Simone

This is an important chapter in Barbara Gordon’s life, especially in this post-New 52 world. This addresses the trauma that she went through and how it still affects her. It is really important for me to read, especially since I’m writing a book chapter on Oracle!

House of X/Powers of X
by Jonathan Hickman

When they announced that this big change was coming, I made the conscious decision to wait for this book before moving forward. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep reading, especially as a researcher. It is an interesting read so far. They alternate the series by number, so it’s the number one of each, then the number two, and so on. I think I’m getting what’s going on in this part, but I’m continuing, hoping that I get an idea of where the franchise is going and whether I want to start reading any of the comics again.

X-Men comics were one of the first comics series I read. But now it’s become more of a search for how it works with my argument about their correlation to Deaf Culture. There is little to none of that when they’re not in relation to humans. Then again, I always like the storylines that were more about the X-Men and their culture and everyday lives than the stories that took place in space or were focused on on baddie.

Metaculture: How Culture Moves Through the World
by Greg Urban

This is the main theory that I am working with in my dissertation. I am working on building on it, making connections to other related works to expand on it, using Hamilton as my example, as the focus of those connections. It has taken me years to get his work to click, but when it did, I realized that this has been a huge part of my research. I simply didn’t realize it. It is a very intense read.

Signifying Rappers
by David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello

My dissertation chair/advisor strongly suggested reading this, because of its perspective on rap and hip-hop by white guys in Boston. I’ve only gotten through the first chapter so far, but its an interesting read. I just need to figure out how it fits into things.

Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture
by Philip Auslander

Another book recommended by my chair/advisor. He recommended this back when I was arguing about the importance of seeing it live, in the theater and how that differed from other ways of seeing it. I think I can still use it to talk about that difference, but in a different way. I think realizing the bigger picture that I am writing about has changed how I interact with this text. I may have to start it over again.

This whole pandemic and quarantine has changed so many things. It’s part of why my list has grown. I keep forgetting how many books I already have started and pick up something new. I’m trying to get refocused, get these books read so I can make that progress and move forward.

Long-term changes

"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature." -Sonya Renee Taylor. Over Grow the System.

I was think about this same thing today when I ran across it on Facebook. While there are many changes that are happening right now that are not good in any sense of the word – just look at how COVID-19 is affecting different populations – there are changes that we as individuals, states, nations, and a world are making that can continue after this pandemic is over and we are not longer forced to stay inside.

Personally, I have been working on making my life more sustainable and shrinking my own footprint. I have been lucky enough to continue to have a job, as well as having some more expensive events cancelled. This has given me the opportunity to invest in some greener, more sustainable practices that I have been putting off because I could not afford it.

I was able to buy a good bike and buy equipment for it so I can make a shopping trip or go for a long ride. It will help me reduce the amount of time I spend in my car, as well as increase my exercise in general.

Because I am now forced to teach online, I don’t have to drive up to campus multiple times a week, which cuts back on my fuel consumption and emissions, which are both good for the environment as well as my wallet.

I now have the time to work with using GladRags’ pads and pantiliners and see what direction I want to go in regarding those products. Since I am home for a few months, at least, I have the time to figure out how to best use them and not worry about getting a little messy.

While this is a stressful time for all of us, there are things that we can control. There are changes that we can make that will be good for our lives after this time of quarantine is over. Even if it’s just going through boxes of things, throwing out what you no longer need, and organizing what you keep so you can find them later. Or making changes to the way you eat. Or whatever it is. We can start to make little changes for the better now, while we have the opportunity.

Giving Glad a try

For a while now, I’ve been aware of GladRags, but I’ve always hesitated about giving them a try. GladRags make reusable cloth pads and pantyliners, eco-friendly alternatives to mainstream pads and liners. Their liners are one piece, while the pads have two components – a holder and inserts. When you need to, you simply take it off, leave it to soak, and snap on a new one. They get washed, dried, and used again the next month.

I am all for eco-friendly products. I’ve tried using different disposable products over the years, but they don’t quite agree with me. Some are better than others, but I’m always relieved to be done because I don’t need to use them for the rest of the month. Also, they pile up in the trash, which is not great for anyone using the bathroom.

But, they’re convenient. I get done with one, I throw it out. If I’m not at home, there’s always a trash can. That’s been my biggest reason to not get into GladRags. Well, that and the initial expense. They make bags to store them in, as well as bags for getting used ones back home without making a mess. But, it’s more money, and possibly messier while in public.

I don’t have any of those excuses right now. I’m working from home until at least the end of August. Because of that, and a lot of cancelled trips, I can afford the initial expense. And I don’t have to go all-in immediately, like I kept thinking, for some stupid reason. I can still use my disposable pads when, eventually, we head out of town. I can keep some on me in case I’m not home when I need one. I can take my time and figure out what I need during the week.

I’m even thinking of investing in a cup (probably GladRags’ XO Flow), letting the pads be for overnight and the liners to catch any leaks. Also, it would be nice to be able to go swimming no matter what time of the month it is. I’ve never liked tampons because I can’t tell if they’re full or not and I worry about leaving it in too long. Also, they leak so much that I’d wear liners the whole time, which kind of negates the point of them.

I am really looking forward to this! Less in the trash, less spent every month, more comfort for me!

Upgrades day 3

I’m done! I’m done with all the upgrading and rearranging that I have been meaning to do!

Yesterday, I finally went out and put the phone holder on the handlebars and the bike lock on the bike! I also have an awesome bag that not only expands to hold even more stuff, but I can take it off and take it in with me because it has a shoulder strap! I can put stuff right in it and then put it on the bike and go home. My bike is ready for a trip to the store or a nice long ride without getting lost!

I also swapped two sets of storage for better use. I took the storage pieces I had been using to store my clothes and swapped it with a wire shelving unit in my room. My clothes don’t need smaller spaces, and actually work better on the open shelving unit. The storage pieces are helping to contain my clutter and smaller things than the wire shelves, and really helped declutter some of my room!

Today was the last piece of the puzzle. There is a former record storage unit that we’ve been using as extra kitchen storage since we moved. Before that it was our bar. Now it is back to storing records on its bottom shelf and my binders from my masters and core binders from my PhD. That freed up two wooden crates on my desk for display and storage. Now I have a bunch of wall-space in the right-side and above corner of my desk!

Things are really shaping up in here! It’s feeling better than it ever has!

Now I can hopefully get focused more on getting work done on my dissertation, keeping up with my students, and work on my Oracle chapter!

Upgrades day 2

So, I haven’t put the stuff on my bike yet, so I thought I’d share the new look of my walls!

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been rearranging the furniture in my room so it functions better for me. First, I moved my futon over to create an area where I can relax and watch TV, use my laptop in front of the TV, and enjoy tea thanks to my new tea station. I bought a strand of white lights to hang from the ceiling because that corner doesn’t get lit up too well. Also, this way I can light just it up, creating a nice, calm, cozy place to relax.

Then I invested in some 3M Command picture hanging materials. I wanted to create some collages on my walls. In my cozy area I wanted to have posters with related things by them.

So I put up my Spider-Man poster with the cover collage and page I bought from the artist at DragonCon to the left of it. Below it I have some of my autographed photos: Jim Butcher from a Kickstarter, my photo with the Boondock Saints which I also got autographed by both, and my signed LeVar Burton photo.

To it’s right, and slightly lower, I put up my Doctor Who anniversary poster with my Gallifrey Road above it. Wrapping the top-right corner are the pieces my hubby has bought me at DragonCon over the years.

I left the Red State and Polesitting Miho posters, as well as my autographed Yaya Han photos where they were. Yaya’s photos will probably get moved soon, but they’re good for now. And, of course, my shelves of POPs, which I talked about the other day.

Above my desk, I wanted to build up around the calendar with my smaller stuff.

I feel like this area should be more eclectic for some reason. I love that I was able to line up my three Megatokyo prints down the right side. I’ve since added an older photo of the hubby and me below the TOS comm panel. It’s fun finding things and trying to figure out where to best put them. I’m thinking of putting the other corkboards I created with my pins above the door. I left space because I have some stuff at the office and I don’t know if they’ll be coming home anytime soon, and I still have smaller framed things around here.

It’s a work in progress, but it’s a fun work in progress!

Hopefully, I’ll get the stuff on the bike today or tomorrow so I can make full use of it! When it’s bothering to not rain, that is.

Upgrades day 1

Thanks to everything getting cancelled and tax refunds, I have had some money to take care of a few things that have needed attention. Today, a lot of the things I invested in arrived!

My POP collection – well most of it – is now on display securely!
Top shelf (l to r): Super Grover, Mister Rodgers, Daffy Duck, Locutus of Borg, Carmen Sandiego, and Darkwing Duck.
Bottom shelf (l to r): Colombia, glow-in-the-dark GIR, The Boondock Saints, Daredevil in black

After seeing a friend use the 3M shelves to display their POPs and other figures, I knew I needed some. I was going to put them up over my desk, but in my excitement to get artwork up, I didn’t leave enough space. Also, I forgot to measure to see if they’d fit. But they’re in a more visible spot, which makes me really happy!

More importantly, I got a tech upgrade today! I got a new computer! It’s nothing fancy, but it’s more than the very basic model I had been working with. I can actually have a video or music on while doing something else, like write here, and it can handle all of it! I also bought some bluetooth headphones, which are so nice!

I spent most of my day getting the files moved and programs installed. It’s nice to have a fresh start with the programs, too. I had a feeling I had some extra programs installed, and a new computer is a great way to start over with a clean slate!

Tomorrow, I’ll be installing the stuff I got for my bike so I can go on a trip without getting lost or just down to the store and secure it while I’m inside!