Monday, December 31, 2012

It's 2013 and I've got no goals

It's almost a new year! I was going to write some long post about how we shouldn't make resolutions, and it's ridiculous to set metrics by which to judge our lives. But you know what? Yeah, you probably should set resolutions and make them specific and with measurable outcomes and all that jazz. I'm sure it's good to do.

Personally though, I won't be resolving to do anything. I made no resolutions last year and somehow, probably primarily through momentum and stubbornness, got pretty much everything I needed to get done in 2012 finished. Minus this lit review chapter that is making me ornery at the moment, I had 2012 under control. And somehow, not a single resolution was made. Why? Because at some point I stopped caring about the specifics of what happens in my life. That might sound like bad news, but I promise it's not. As long as I'm doing my best and things are moving in a general forward direction, then quite frankly my dear, I don't give a fuck.

No goals, no masters

Honestly, I think I can credit a lot of the things I have accomplished to the fact that I have no resolutions, no bucket list, no 30 before 30. To do lists yes, but not overarching goals. And you know, don't get me wrong, I'm probably the least spontaneous person you will ever meet. The point is though that if you meet every task that comes across your door/desk/email as something important that requires your best, then you will do brilliantly. Further, there's no regret when you don't get a specific goal accomplished. It makes you flexible and resilient. 

The things you get done? Excellent! The things you don't? What things, I never heard of any things...?

Case in point. Applying to doctoral programs was never a specific goal of mine. I applied when I did because my GRE scores were going to expire and I didn't feel like taking them again. I also didn't really have a school I favored over any others. Somehow that worked out. No regrets. I came into this not really knowing what I wanted to do study, but I figured it out. I just worked hard, at everything, and I'm on track to being done in four years. And sure, getting it shape would be awesome and I have things that I specifically think would be helpful, but I don't have a set date that is has to happen by. I don't have a target weight. I don't even own a scale. 

If you just try, you'll get things done. The things that need doing. I don't need to make a resolution to tell me to find a job by spring. I don't need a resolution to learn how to drive, it'll happen. And if I need to drive for a job, it will happen sooner rather than later. Besides, if you really want to do something, you will, resolution or no. Don't we have enough externally arising obligations in our lives without inventing new ones for ourselves?

Life is not a program

Somehow program evaluation principles made into the self help literature and now we're all supposed to set goals that are, wait for it... SMART.  Specific/Measurable/Achievable/Realistic/Time-phased. These principles were designed for programs thoughHere's a link to a CDC handout on setting SMART objectives for your program. So if you have a program to encourage smoking cessation among teenagers you need to decide what the goals are (who will stop smoking, how many will stop smoking, what counts as cessation, by when will they do it). This makes sense right? If you want to know if the program is working you need to have a metric to measure it by. And here's an old post mentioning SMART by the indomitable Gala Darling if you don't believe me.

Screw that though. I want my life to be intangible, aspirational, and unscheduled. I mean, what do you do if you fail to meet your SMART goal? Fire yourself? Cut your funding? It just doesn't, and I would argue shouldn't, apply to lives. It's such an inorganic constraint on things. 

This isn't an excuse to be a slacker though. If anything it's the opposite. You're relying on yourself to maintain some kind of general standard to ensure that you, as Bill and Ted would say, have an excellent year. So yeah, get off your butt, start something, work harder, do more, but leave it open ended. 

via tumblr

Just go with it

So I'll take whatever 2013 throws at me. Follow through on what I started and see where it takes me. Do my best at all endeavors that I feel like doing. And set absolutely no specific predetermined goals for what I will or will not do in 2013. And look, I wrote a long ornery post about not setting resolutions after all!

In conclusion, may you all have an excellent new year's eve and 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2013 - The year I get moving (or else)

I bought myself a Polar ft40 heart rate monitor with a gift certificate I got for Christmas. I debated one of the cheaper ones, but I was finally sold on this one because of the built in fitness test function and the overall design. This one was just under $100 on Amazon. It just came in the mail today and I was pretty excited to test it out!

First off, the elliptical in my building is *way* off. When I work out it generally tells me I burn about 200 calories in 17 minutes or so. I had to work out for about 30 minutes to burn 200 calories based on the HR monitor. Good to know!

Other thoughts, it's helpful to have a sense of my heart rate. The fitness test told me I was "good," which was a bit of a shocker, but when I'm actually working out it goes to the "fitness" zone rather than "fat burn" really quickly because my heart rate rises so quickly. Definitely need to improve my fitness, and this gives me a good baseline for how I'm doing. Also, I was worried the chest band was going to be irritating, but I really didn't notice it much at all once I get it set up.

Now that I actually have some way of keeping track of how I'm doing I signed up for My Fitness Pal and downloaded the app. The bar code scanning is amazing! It even knew the calorie content of the vegan Dandies marshmallows I was snacking on earlier today. Plus, this will keep track of my protein, iron, and calcium intake for the day. I can definitely fall into lazy vegan territory at times, so this is really helpful too. So I'm going to try to stick with this for a while to see how it goes. I should point out though that I don't own a scale, so this is really not about weight loss. I've been blessed with a slim frame no matter what I do, but my fitness level is really lacking and sitting on my butt writing my dissertation all day hasn't exactly done me any favors either.

via Pinterest


So for 2013 it would be nice to:
-Increase my stamina
-Fit back into my 28 inch waist pants (currently pushing 30 inches, which is partially exacerbated by my IBS).
-Be able to jog a mile without doubling over from a side-stitch (for some reason I cannot run or jog at all even though I'm fine on the elliptical)
-Get ready for turning 30 with the level of fitness I'd like to maintain in my 30s.

-Hopefully working out will help keep my school/work stress in check

What's the issue?

I feel like I should explain why exercise is such a challenge for me. I have never in my life been fit. Skinny, yes. Fit, no. I was always always picked last for every sporting event at school. I remember being forced to go running in middle school and falling behind everyone else and being so breathless I threw up (plus I was panicking from being behind everyone else in the middle of nowhere). Exercise has not been something I've thought of fondly. Partially I think it was just a function of awful gym teachers and an insistence that working out means: team sports, swimming, or running. I can't do any of these!

Thankfully my high school allowed me to take tap dancing for my gym credits so I could graduate. That was kind of embarrassing  but not terrible. Then in college I started going to a yoga studio and found that pretty acceptable (although my body doesn't take kindly too much neck stretching). I've also given Ballet Beautiful a go, and will still do it occasionally, but it makes my kees hurt. And let's not even get into running. It makes me feel like all of my internal organs are being jostled (and this has been my impression of running since elementary school! People tell me it's just from being out of shape, but I think there's more to it than that). If I try to run outside I also get a terrible burning sensation in my throat. Biking isn't really feasible in the city. I don't know how to swim.

So many issues, right? But I actually realized that I enjoy the elliptical machine! I also managed to modify some of the 30 Day Shred exercises to work for me (the actual video makes my ankles hurt if I do it regularly) to get in some weights and crunches. Maybe some of my exercise issues will resolve themselves as I get in better shape. It seems kind of ridiculous to rule out so many things on account of being frail at the ripe old age of 28. But what can I say, a lot of things my body seems to hate! So I'll stick to what works for now, and if that lets me expand my repertoire then that's a bonus.

Side note:
I'm somewhat undecided on if I want to take this blog more in the direction of longer essay type posts or if I want to focus more explicitly on vegan fashion. Clearly, I can do both and I guess that's one of the perks of "lifestyle" blogging. It means whatever you want it to mean. But if you have any thoughts on this, do share!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gifts for Vegans 2012

Vegan wishlist

1. Vegan nooch jar (if you don't know what this, don't worry, your vegan friends will know), Vegan Dish $42
2. Choc & Nut spread (i.e. not Nutella), Pangea $8.29
3. Vegan Eats World cookbook, Amazon $22
4. Vegan Cuts monthly box of awesomeness, Vegan Cuts $19/month
5. Cornelia Guest hobo, Bloomingdales $295
6. Tarte matte Lipsurgence, Tarte $24
7. Velvet school boy blazer, J Crew $179
8. Sugarland bow clutch, Deuxlux $95
9. Custom cat ornament, Panda With Cookie $40
10. Vegan Lipbalm, Hurraw! $3.79 each

These are some of my favorite picks for 2012. Maybe something for that for the vegan friend on your holiday list? I can personally attest to the excellence of the Tarte lip pencil and the Hurraw! lip balm. I also got one of the custom cat ornaments from Panda with Cookie last year and it's a great likeness of my cat and it's super cute. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

working working working

Via Pinterest by Yuki Kitazumi

Still writing, editing, researching. It's a reassuring feeling that these papers get better for every round of edits, but still, it's daunting to deal with so many revisions. I'd really like to get my third manuscript out to committee members sometime tomorrow, and then send back revisions on the second manuscript early next week. I also need to schedule my final defense. We finally decided that my advisor should send the email in order to get as much buy in as possible from my other committee members.

Between all of that I'm also working on job applications. Need to get one out by the end of the week. Then I have a Skype interview scheduled for another position this week as well. I've never done a video interview before, so we'll see how this goes! I just try to remind myself that I'm really open to a lot of different job options, so if this professor thing doesn't pan out it's not the end of the world. Basically, whatever it takes to prevent hopes from getting too inflated I guess. Also, the internet told me I should lock my cat up in the other room to prevent her from walking across the desk during the interview (not a bad idea considering!). 

In other news, I'm accident prone and I hurt my foot (and hopefully don't need x-rays) and I've been listening to Brett Anderson's Black Rainbows all the time. I somehow missed that he put out a new album last year and it's amazing. I've been a fan of his ever since (the London) Suede's Dog Man Star back in the 90s. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

5 Things


I've been working on rewriting my second manuscript since my last post (with breaks for sleeping, eating, a holiday party, and journal club). I think I've finished up the draft. I need to reply to some more comments tomorrow and proof it one more time before sending it off my advisor. Will she have time to read it (on top of manuscript 3) before Monday? Who knows. We hadn't planned on my needing to make so many edits! Anyway, it's looking a lot better and I'm going to bit my tongue with regard to my feelings about the whole thing.

Instead, I give you a list of five things/people that probably irritate me more than they should (and this pretty picture above! See, it's not all bad news).

1. People in the U.S. who sign their emails "cheers." Just don't do it. It makes me think you're a jerk.

2. Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansen. They ruin movies for me. I think I need a policy where I just don't watch any movies they are in because I end up hating the whole movie.

3.  Messily drunk people. It's not cute once you're over 21.

4. People who cut in line for the bus (so upsetting!). Follow the rules!

5. Cars that try to turn into the crosswalk once I've started walking. I will yell at your car if you do this. If you're lucky you might even catch me waving a fist at you like a true crazy cat lady pedestrian.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Busy Busy

I got feedback from my first set of committee members (I usually send things out to half of them at a time) on my second manuscript earlier today. Nothing terrible and nothing I can't handle, but still enough needing to be rewritten that I feel vaguely like hyperventilating every time I look at the track changes. I put in a good eight hours of edits today already and totally rewrote the introduction/background. I need to make some decisions about the theoretical framework I want to use, which is unfortunate because if there is anything I don't much care for it's theory. Anyway, it will be OK even if I feel a little bit like crying at the moment.

I think I'm about to take a break for the evening, but I'll be busy busy until Monday when I meet with my advisor about how she thinks I should proceed. Dissertation writing = sadness.

So because all my mental bandwidth is being used for staving off angst and thinking about how to reframe things, I give you: ye olde random pictures from my phone! huzzah! Real posting to return sometime next week.

New shoes from Asos. Like a fool I wore these without socks the first time and now the back of my heels are so torn up that I can't wear half of my shoes. Sigh! Hopefully it will heal up soon. 

Zines at the local coffee shop/book store. 

Went to get acupuncture because I wrenched my neck reading again. It did help!

This is my acupuncture homework. More silliness, joy, and wild abandon. The sad part is I am legitimately unable to do this. 

I did, however, break out a mini bottle of port wine I've had on my shelf forever when I ran out of chocolate the other day. When short on chocolate, break out the booze. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Saying no to things you want

I feel like there's such a big push in the vegan community to portray veganism as not involving any personal sacrifice. Maybe that's true for a lot of people, and personally I don't miss dairy or meat in the slightest at this point. I do, however, routinely have to consciously say no to *things* that I want. To be fair, it's not really much of a sacrifice to not be able to buy every pair of shoes I have my eye on, but it does mean actively passing on things I would otherwise really want. So I just wanted to address my purchasing ethics on the blog.
I want these!
But they are leather, so I'm passing on them. 

I won't buy anything that's leather, fur, wool, down, or silk. If you're curious about why each of those specific items are unfortunate from an animal welfare perspective, check out the links. Silk I think mainly bothers me due to the sheer number of silkworms killed for each unit of silk. Anyway, it never crosses my mind to buy anything made of fur, but the use of leather for shoes is so widespread that there's inevitably going to be some shoe I see in a magazine or a blog that I just love but that isn't available in a non-leather version. Same goes for wool-blend coats and sweaters.

So yes, being vegan does mean I make sartorial sacrifices. Thankfully, the options have gotten a lot better. The Vaute Couture coats are nice and the shoe and bag options are getting pretty good. So again, not a significant sacrifice by any means, but I've chosen not to buy probably hundreds of items at this point because they were made of animal products. Cosmetics too. I make a point to avoid lanolin for example.

Is it worth it? I think it definitely is. Sure, I'll miss out on some material things I want, but I would feel really bad about my choices if I knew I contributed to animal suffering just to indulge my sense of style. I think it ultimately boils down to this: if you had to choose between passing on a pair of shoes or killing a cow, which would you choose? Also, consider the price of the shoes relative to the life that was taken. If anything, I would pay someone $100 not to a kill an animal!

Sonny at Farm Sanctuary 
Still, it's not a black and white issue. Do you buy from companies that also sell leather items? Companies that sell fur? Companies that are owned by larger companies that test on animals? What about if they don't disclose all of the ingredients in their lipstick? What about vintage items?

Cute, and also non-leather!
You have to draw the line somewhere, and while there's a lot of finger wagging online as to what's appropriate and what isn't, I think it's ultimately a personal decision where you draw that line. It's impossible to live an entirely cruelty free life and still live in society at this point (which doesn't mean you give up on the idea! It just means you have to decide what items you personally feel comfortable with!). Plus, I think once you move beyond narrow definitions of labels I think there are a lot of diverging views about the use of bugs in cosmetics and food (fyi carmine comes from beetles).

Anyway, this is why I don't buy clothes or shoes that are made of animal products. I'm not quite as strict when it comes to cosmetics (although animal testing is clearly out). I also admit that I don't put a lot of thought into sweatshop related issues (although if anyone can recommend mainstream stores that have good labor practices then I'm all ears!)

I really encourage people to think about what they value and to decide if their purchasing habits are in line with those values. If not, what can you change to make a difference? It probably does involve giving up something small, but my personal experience (five years as a vegan and counting) has been that what you gain far offsets passing on the occasional pair of shoes.