Tag Archives: lifestyle

Am I working or merely wasting my time?

As you may have noticed, I just published three books. That’s the good news. The bad news is that that means that I’m out of works in progress, and back to square one, to that dreadful stage that can probably be described as ‘pre-production’. Fair enough, that’s part of the game, and I do have an idea stuck between my ears that I’m currently trying to develop. The problem is that I usually try to maintain a certain routine when it comes to my writing habits, and at this stage the line between working and wasting my time has an annoying tendency to get more than a little blurry, why? Well, because in order to work out a story I have to give my mind a kind of freedom, but if I give it that freedom it tends to wander. If I try to drag it back to what it should be doing -usually kicking and screaming- it just sits there and sulks. If I allow it to go wandering along it doesn’t sulk, but I still don’t get much done.

So here I am, allowing my mind to go where it pleases… and wondering whether I am working or merely wasting my time.

NOTE- for the time being relevant posts such as this one are being crossposted from my new blog, but I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep up that particular practice. Of course, I’ll let you know when/if I decide to stop (as you might have noticed, right now things are in a state of flux)

The problem with ‘EVERYTHING’

Like too many people, I spend hours a day sitting in front of my computer. For the most part I do what I’m supposed to be doing, but being a writer I freely admit that at times the line between work and play can get more than a little blurry. I may be writing a story, and all of a sudden I realize that, to keep myself from looking like a fool, or like more of a fool than I usually do, I need to do a little research. Having the ability to do that almost without giving it a second thought is awesome. I type a few characters and, more often than not, the answer is there, before my eyes. The problem is that once I’m done I often find myself going off on some sort of tangent, rather than getting back to whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing, and to be honest most of those things are a waste of time… the kind of lumber that accumulates in our minds, and winds up clogging everything. That’s the downside of having the world at our fingertips.

In the ‘old days’ if I wanted to do some research I had to reach for a book (if I was lucky… otherwise I had to go to that daunting place called ‘the library’); if I wanted to catch up with the news I’d have to either buy a newspaper or turn to my trusty old TV (either way I was stuck with one, or maybe two, points of view); if I wanted to watch a movie chances were that I’d have to leave my house altogether, either to go to a theater or to a video store. Today I don’t even own a TV, and books, music, news and movies are all a click away (as for games, I refuse to install any, not because I’m not interested, but rather because I know I’m too easily distracted, and I know that if I happened to get hooked on a game I’d never get anything done). In other words, as our gadgets converge our activities too become intertwined. For the most part that is a good thing, as many of the divisions that are being torn down were artificial (research may involve a news-former-paper article, a book, a documentary or a lecture, and being able to jump from one of those to the next, to say nothing of having them immediately accessible, is most definitely an advantage), but then there is the problem of our ever shrinking attention spans… or maybe I should say ‘my’ (hence my reluctance to install a single game).

I freely admit that, while I shake my head at my own inability to concentrate, the idea of doing research the old fashioned way terrifies me. I have gotten used to the convenience of having everything at my fingertips, but at the same time there is a problem with the fact that, as walls are torn down, and everything is at my fingertips, that is bound to include, well, everything, and that is where I tend to get in trouble. Put a kitten or a puppy on my path and all thoughts of doing what I’m supposed to be doing fly out the window.

A glimpse into a different world

A couple of months ago I was fooling around buzzfeed when I stumbled upon a story that for whatever reason caught my eye. It was about a blogger in Singapore who specializes in makeup tips who had just had her face ‘destroyed’ by a facial treatment gone wrong (you can find it here, if you are interested). I clicked on the link and got my first glimpse of a world that felt completely alien to me and left. That should have been it, except for the fact that for whatever reason I remembered that post yesterday, so I decided to go back to that site and see what had happened since then… and unlike what had been the case the first time around, I wound up spending some time there.

It was an interesting experience, both enlightening and horrifying. To begin with, let me state something: I don’t get makeup. I never have, and I probably never will. I am who I am and I am comfortable in my own skin, but at the same time I realize that makeup is a multibillion dollar industry and that there are plenty of women out there who can’t even begin to imagine going out in public without their gunky armor on. That may seem weird to me, but I guess that’s my problem.

The thing is that while I was reading this story I was horrified not so much by what had happened to this woman’s face as by the impact it seemed (or rather seems) to have had on her life. Yes, the damage was extensive, and I understand that the whole thing must have been quite a shock for someone who describes herself as extremely image-conscious, but it was as if in her mind there could be nothing worse than having a skin condition, and that a couple of months later she is still apparently ashamed to even show her face. Granted, in her case that situation is likely to have been made worse by the fact that, being a professional makeup blogger, makeup tips are literally her life, but at the same time in reading her words I couldn’t help but to think that it went deeper than that.

I mean, in the original post there were more warnings about how gross, graphic, disturbing, disgusting, horrifying and downright revolting the pictures were than you would get from a serious news organization before a segment dealing in detail with the carnage of war, massacres, bombings, catastrophic accidents and the like, and those warnings anything but tongue in cheek.

Now, under normal circumstances I would consider it her business, acknowledge that she is entitled to her opinion and leave it at that. I certainly don’t want to minimize her feelings, but at the same time I feel that her story is a perfect, albeit extreme, example of the importance women are taught to ascribe to their looks. Yes, I understand the concept of beauty, but at the same time I hate the fact that there are all these companies that spend millions of dollars selling us a problem in our childhoods, when we can’t really hope to defend ourselves, just so that they will be able to sell us the solution once we reach our teens (and keep selling them to us over and over again as we age) that makes me want to rebel. From the day we are born we are taught to judge each other based on our looks, to compete with each other, and to feel that we have to strive for some unattainable ideal so that when the time comes we will buy the clothes, cream, makeup and eventually the plastic surgery that will supposedly get us there… and to make matters worse we are also taught to force each other to comply. If we decide not to play that game, well, then we are judged too.

It’s like that old reality show ‘What Not to Wear’, a show that had as its sole purpose to humiliate, belittle  and ‘reform’ those who refused to fall in line when it came to those expected standards.

I guess that’s why the story of that blogger, a woman I don’t know and I will never meet, bugged me so much. Yes, she was the victim of a facial gone seriously wrong, but what she doesn’t seem to realize is that long before that she was a victim of a culture that sold her an ideal she had to aspire to… and then she went on to become an enforcer for that culture, one for whom the very idea that she might be effectively out of the running when it came to attaining that particular ideal was completely unbearable.

And the new category award goes to… The Hammocks!

Okay, I was going over my previous posts and I noticed that all the posts in one category (that would be ‘lifestyle‘) dealt with a single issue (that would be my penchant for spending hours on end in my hammock)… and then I realized that when I thought about my future plans for that category my mind kept turning back to, you guessed it: hammocks, so to make a long story short, that category was renamed ‘hammock life‘.

I know this is a weird category to have in a blog that is supposed to be mostly about reading and writing, but considering the number of hours I spend reading in the thing, maybe it is not that much of a stretch.

One of my favorite links about hammocks

As I mentioned a while ago I’d take a hammock over a bed any day, though the cold weather can be a bit of an issue (that is being cold in a hammock means being a lot colder than you’d be in a bed as your back and sides act as incredibly effective heat sinks), but still as far as I am concerned the benefits far outweigh the problems… in fact I think I finally cracked the ideal bed clothes dilemma, but more on that in a couple of days (update: that information has now been posted, you can find it here).

What are those benefits? Well, for starters you will never hear anyone complain about having to make his/her hammock in the morning, I can tell you that. All you have to do is take it down if you want to. It also frees up a lot of room and it just looks cooler, not to mention that there are some studies that seem to suggest that it is also a whole lot healthier (of course, since no one is going to get rich by encouraging people to get rid of their expensive mattresses and to replace them with dirt cheap hammocks you are not likely to hear much about it).

Anyway, today I wanted to share a link to one of my favorite articles on the benefits of sleeping in a hammock. You can find it here: Seven Benefits of Sleeping in a Hammock. I hope you like it.