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Hello everyone!
cap, captain miss america
So, I haven't posted since December 29.

That is over a month and I suspect the longest time I have ever gone without posting since I got my LiveJournal TEN YEARS BEFORE.

It was accidental at first. I was extraordinarily busy at work, and busy in non-work, and most of my internet time was going to hogwarts_elite.

Then like three weeks passed. And I was like, "huh, gee, I haven't posted in three weeks." But it was the day of the Internet Blackout, and I felt as if popping up to be all HEY I AM HERE ON THE INTERNETS on that day was a bit...well, counterintuitive. And then I sat and thought about it.

And you know, sometimes I challenge myself to post every day for A BILLION YEARS, and I post every day for a while. I decided maybe I should go a month without posting.

So the month passed a few days ago. And it actually felt...well, hard to post. I had to bring myself to make this post, to force myself to come out of my hibernation. I haven't quite decided what that means for me.

But it has been making me think more about my internet life, and how I live it, and my various blogs, and what I use them for. I'm not going away-- I'm not being like, "YES I LOVED THAT TIME AWAY FROM BLOGGING," because I have met most of the people I love most in my life as a result of being on the internet and particularly being on LJ, and for some of you whom I met other ways, it has only strengthened our friendships, and that can only be a good thing. But I think I have become more conscious of my relationship with my various blogging outlets, and that is a positive thing to do.

There are so many things that I meant to post to you all this past month. I have not. And some of them I realize are not necessary to tell you about, and some of them I will.

liret posted an article about Why It's Better to Start Your New Year in February, and I feel like that's what I've been accomplishing.

I don't really make New Year's resolutions. I find them to be counter to my personality and in some ways problematic. I'm one of those very goal-oriented people in a lot of ways, but in a sort of semi-self-destructive way where once I set a goal, I follow it through even once I realize it's not really what I want. Because I don't want to be a quitter. And that's not really very good. It is perfectly reasonable to quit something that makes me unhappy.

But I started thinking, around the end of the year, about the things I accomplished to become a more whole and healthy and functional person, and how I improved me.

Some of the things I did that I am really proud of:
--I started using a wallet. I know, I'm 33 years old and this is an accomplishment, right? But it is! I totally have done a great job since August of keeping my money and credit cards, Metrocard and work ID in a wallet, and I have only misplaced my word ID and my Metrocard once each. I used to misplaced them each about once a week-- or it was at very least very difficult to find them in my bag. Now, it is never a problem.
--I have vastly improved my skin. I have pretty break-outy skin. I started washing my face every single morning, using over the counter acne medication, and sometimes cleaning it with a facial pad sometimes at night. I still break out a little bit, but overall I don't feel like a pizza face most of the time.
--I have also improved my dental hygiene. I have always brushed my teeth, but I usually only brushed them in the morning. I have gotten into the habit of brushing in the morning and at night, and also flossing. FLOSSING. THAT IS SOMETHING GROWN UPS DO.
--I did some brave things, that are out of my character to do. Some of them didn't work out as I would have hoped, but I did them, and I am proud of that. Some of them have worked out and have made me more confident in general as a result.
--I have, and this is probably the most important, vastly expanded my social life. A year ago, I pretty much didn't have one. I mean, sure, I would do things with friends occasionally, and once in a while I would attend a party, but now I actually have difficulty finding free nights to do things. I try to keep one free evening a week for myself, just so that I have a night to veg out and recharge, but it doesn't always happen. Ah, the swing of the pendulum!

Those are all things I'm really proud of. I wrote more, but I drew almost no comics. And I think that's okay. I tend to be one of those people who gets very intensely into something for a while and then gets burned out a bit. I need to figure out how to be an allthinginmoderation type of person, but I just don't know if that is in my nature.

Anyway, moving forward this year, I started reading some of my friends' resolutions, and decided that since I don't make resolutions myself, I could help other people fulfill theirs by piggybacking on them, so to speak, and by supporting them by engaging them in continuing to keep up the things they want to do. For example, intrepia and I have started taking a walk for an hour once a week through Central Park. It has the dual benefits of getting exercise and helping us learn the paths in Central Park, which are many and varied and winding.

I would like to do the same with you! Not necessarily the walking, per se, but if there are ways that you would like support to fulfill your goals, please let me know!

Some things I personally need to work on:
--Fitness. I have lost track of any kind of fitness goals and gotten pretty out of shape since moving to Queens. My exercise used to be very easily built into my day, but it isn't anymore, so doing exercisey things means taking time out of my free time, which annoys me. And with dwindling free time (see my social life, above), it's taking time out of the hobbies I really want to cultivate, like writing and drawing. I need to figure out a way to make these things work together again.
--Sleeping. My sleeping habits are for shit lately. Partly, again, for the same reason-- a longer commute (up earlier!) plus less free time to do the things I want to get done (and the things I don't, like chores), means that my sleep has been for shit this past year. In prior years, I did a pretty good job of making sure I always got seven hours of sleep. Now I am down to about six. I can tell it's affecting me physically and emotionally, and it annoys me that on the weekends, I end up sleeping ten hours because I'm obviously trying to catch up, and then I can't get up on time to do things like go to half price movies.
--Cleaning. I am the messiest messy ever to messy. EVER. And it's only getting worse. It doesn't matter how much I try, I am hideously bad at keeping my apartment clean. And, well, to be perfectly honest, it's because I *don't* try. I don't really know how to try. I walk in the door and dump stuff on the floor, and it doesn't even occur to me in the moment that that is what I'm doing. Everything goes on the floor without my thinking about it. I rarely succeed in washing my dishes right after eating. I don't put my laundry away. Things in my apartment go months between cleaning, and this is embarrassing and also a dent on my social life because I can't invite people over. I can only go out to other places. And that means social engagements take longer. NOT THAT ANYONE EVER WANTS TO COME TO QUEENS ANYWAY.

So, those are the things I need to work on. Mostly things that I think will improve my overall physical and emotional health. Sound good? If you are the kind of person who learned how to be successful (it doesn't help if you've always been successful, because you don't know what it's like to transition from being failtastic to fantastic at these things) at any of the above habits, I would like to hear about it. Tell me your stories!!!! mel06 has been actually using the grown up equivalent of a star chart, and I am thinking that might be the way to go.

Love to everyone!!!

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I have gone from being a complete and total slob to being generally neat by doing five-minute cleans. Every day, I would set a timer and tell myself I had to clean for exactly five minutes. It didn't matter what in my apartment I chose to clean that day, as long as I cleaned. I also found that starting to clean regularly motivated me to keep things cleaner in my day-to-day living, since, well, I didn't want to undo the work I had put in more than necessary. Now that I'm more in the habit, I might do ten minutes every other day or something other than cleaning every single day, but I still find that setting the timer and knowing I can stop when it goes off helps me to start.

Oh, this is clever! I like it!

My only fear is that five minutes of cleaning isn't enough to take care of the dishes. Maybe ten or fifteen.

Yeah, I usually set a separate timer for the dishes. For everything else, though, it's amazing how much difference five minutes of tidying can make. The other thing is, a lot of the time, once I've started cleaning, I end up continuing after the timer goes off ("oh, I'll just take another two minutes and finish up this thing I'm working on," etc.).

I have been doing this! I have been doing it in 15 minute increments for now though, because I think that is a better amount to really make a dent. Once I get things more cleaned, I will shorten it to five.

Yeah, I think for a while I did 10 minutes and there was always plenty to do, and then it got to the point where I was doing unnecessary stuff just to fill up the 10 minutes, like re-organizing my bookshelves. In truth, these days I tend to glance around, see what looks like a reasonable time frame (between 5 and 20 minutes) given the size of the mess, and set the timer accordingly.

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This is what I have tried to set for myself in the past, but I have trouble keeping up with it. I think the thing is that I need to develop habits wherein I put things away to begin with, rather than waiting till things get a mess.

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I started doing Connie's thing and I added reminders into my phone.

January 29th or December 29th ;)


I want to come to Queens! But I can't afford to right now. Also not sure Henrietta is ready for such a long trip.

As for good habits, I'm still struggling. Sometimes I do really good. And I actually love to keep things clean and organized. But M tends to bring disorder and chaos. And I find it discouraging when I do a big clean to only have it undone a couple hours later when he decides that open space is the perfect invitation to rebuild his RC car or whatever. So I keep falling off the wagon, because I don't have the energy to clean up another adult's mess when I'm doing so much parenting, too.

It is okay! I am talking more about local people!

It is very frustrating to feel like you are cleaning up after another adult. Even though I am a naturally messy person, it drives me nuts when other people make and leave messes behind for me to clean up.

I added cleaning 10 minutes a day to my chart this month, and I can already see a difference in my room. And I'm a dumper, too. When I read what you said about dumping I was like HOW DOES SHE SEE DOING THAT????? STALKER!!!!!!!!!!!

HEE. I have started doing 15. Once I get the mess processed better, I will move it to maybe 5 or 10.

On dishes -- my challenge was/is to wash a "replacement" dish for every clean dish I take out to use. Not after eating; when I take it out. The sink is in the kitchen, I can see the clock from it, I can time my food while I wash dishes, and I can go stir between every dish I wash or every two forks or whatever. At first I had to keep reminding myself (I started this last spring), but now I'm so used to it that I actually zone out while waiting for my morning oatmeal to boil and just wash until the sink's empty.

Cleaning behind furniture -- get some plastic eggs on sale after Easter. Get small candy. Put a piece of candy in the plastic egg (if the egg doesn't close tightly, tape it shut, otherwise it'll pop open when dropped). Drop it behind the couch or toss it under the bed. Start pulling things out from underneath. When you clean that far, you can eat the candy. (Make sure it's worth cleaning that far to eat it, though; eggs full of candy behind your couch will just make life worse if it's not worth that much cleaning.) Usually by the time I get that far, it's only a couple minutes to finish the job, but if not, I stop and do it again another day.

Folding and putting away laundry -- make a game of it. Like, maybe fold in order of the rainbow? Find a red item. Fold it. Find an orange item, fold it. And so on. Or pick a different order -- anything that you can remember. (I personally do the three primary colors, the three secondary colors, then brown.) If something has more than one color, it can be used for any of them. Black and white items are wild cards. Pairing socks gives special powers -- pick anything -- maybe they let you reverse the rainbow and go in the other order, maybe they let you have a treat (keep track and have it at the end), maybe they make life harder and the next thing you have to fold has to be a specific item, like a shirt, of the appropriate color. (Socks are actually really easy for me, because I feel like they're lonely without their mates, so I mate them the minute I have two matching. But you could implement a "all socks have to be mated as soon as you have both" rule, or a "every fifth item must be a pair of socks" rule, or something.) ...To be honest, I am still trying to get this to work on a long-term basis; it keeps me folding once I start, but I still have trouble starting.

I like the star chart idea, too.

I don't have any problems with folding laundry, because I either do my laundry at my parents' house, so it has to be folded to be packed away, or I have to send it to a laundry service, in which case they do the folding for me.

Ooo, convenient!

I have to make myself start folding -- but once I get started, the game will keep me folding 'til it's done. :)

Well, it's not so convenient, and laundry is one of those chores I actually enjoy, but doing my own laundry costs about $10 for two loads and must be finished by 8pm, and taking it to the laundromat costs about $15 for two loads, so that wins out!

Ouch! Before I had a washer, it cost me about $2.50/load to wash laundry as long as I brought my own detergent. But the cost of living here is pretty low, too.

It's $2 for the washer, $2 for the dryer, and then additional moneys because the dryer never quite dries all the way. So it usually gets to about $5/load. Plus, since the laundry room closes at 8 and I get home at 6 if I'm lucky, there's usually not enough time to use it!

Ick! My dryer at home right now doesn't really dry all the way either. :(

Ours was $1/washer and $1.50/dryer, if I remember correctly.

Wow -- ours was still open at midnight, which was good as I worked until 7 or 7:30 most nights.

January 29th, 2011? That's WELL over a month ago ;) Jan 29th, 2012 was last Sunday. *giggles*

I still haven't posted about my September holiday, ohgosh.

"A place for everything and everything in its place" is a cliché, but it's also really useful. Have you tried setting up a spot that is your where-I-put-things-when-I-get-home spot? It can be a table or a box or even just a space on the floor; the key thing is starting to deliberately build habits. And once you designate that spot, don't put anything else there! It is a jealous monogamous spot that only wants one particular sort of stuff.

That's mostly how I keep my spaces neat(ish): have a designated home for each object, so when I want to put it away, I can do it quickly and easily.

Another useful habit: when leaving room 1 for room 2, look around room 1 for a thing that belongs in room 2 and carry it in with you. This takes minimal time and effort but still battles entropy.

Yeah, one thing I notice a lot is that the problems I have tend to stem from having THINGS but no PLACES-- either a dearth of furniture or other organizational type things to put things in, or too many things in the place that a thing might belong. For example, I have some very lovely coat hooks, but they are full up with other things so that when I want to put my coat up after work, there isn't a spot for it.

I started doing the room 1 --> room 2 thing after you suggested it. That seems to be working well. All the books I took off the shelf yesterday ended up back on the shelf before I went to bed!

Well, based on one (1) college-level interior design and decoration course and about fifteen (15) years of trying very hard to overcome my own just-put-it-anywhere tendencies, I would be more than happy to come over to your place and provide an interior design consultation specifically aiming to make it easier for you to be the neatnik you want to be!

That would be amazing, esp if I can make you a cocktail or two in exchange :-D

As you know, I have near-zero alcohol tolerance, but I'd love to see what amazing minimally-alcoholic cocktails you could come with!

Actually, I didn't think I knew this about you, but I am good at non-alcoholic things too!

Oh yeah, I hyperreact to anything mood-altering. I'm the world's cheapest date.

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