Life Improvements

17 Aug

Things that have, this summer, made my life happier and more productive:

1. Google Calendars.

How did I just start using this? Task bar and all, I’ve got my schedule color-coded and have not missed an appointment yet. Sooo many colors. Ooh, hey, can I set reminders? Now, if only I could get it to text me those reminders for all the times I don’t have internet access…

2. Coffee.

Um, I’m late to this game. Like, way late. I eschewed all forms of caffeine prior to June. I mean, I even drank caffeine-free Diet Coke, which essentially tastes like motor oil and has no additional benefits. (The nutrition facts reveal it is largely made of sodium. So, I could just get a salt lick like a rabbit and call it a day.)

Fast forward to one bleary-eyed two-day stint in the Newark airport en route to Buenos Aires, and I’m sitting there with some airline food vouchers while no restaurants are open. I can’t pass up my favorite chai, so I begin my caffeine adventure with the lovely dirty chai alternative: chai with a shot of espresso. A white mocha comes next. Then I’m back in the U.S., and I’m thinking, If I’m going to do this, I might as well do this. So now it’s french vanilla coffee with a dash of skim milk, no sugar. My ability to stay awake has increased rapidly.

3. Volunteering.

I’ve been a bum since getting back from Slovenia last year. All my activities have centered around my own self-improvement, and I’d forgotten how good it feels to volunteer. (Wait, maybe my volunteering is also a bit self-centered, if that’s my rationale).

I’ve always had this thing with being read to. Loved it as a child, and I have this day dream of this great romantic moment where someone reads Woolf to me. Not gonna happen. But, hey. I love reading, right? And what could be more horrific than not being able to read because I’ve been rendered print-disabled (sight problems, etc)?

So I’ve begun volunteering as a reader at a local reading service which broadcasts daily news and other items of interests on a sub-FM frequency, so that print-disabled people can get the daily, local news and other readings they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. I’m not using the stiff, authoritative newscaster voice I perfected while interning at a local ABC affiliate in college. Instead, I’m using my “me” voice–just my normal reading one, reading the way I’d want to be read to.

4. Slovene classes.

They begin again… next week! Through a kind offer from a distant university somewhere in the mid-west, a nice professor will be giving me Skype lessons. Vesela sem!

5. Grad school apps.

I’m gearing up to re-apply to PhD programs, with an eye on a September 2013 start date. I’ll (hopefully) have my M.A. in May, along with two graduate certificates (college instruction & women’s studies). I had some success last time around, being admitted to 4 universities but choosing UConn’s M.A. instead of directly proceeding to the PhD both for funding reasons and to better improve my skills as an analytical writer before jumping head-first into the fiery pit known as a doctoral program. Anyone who knows me well knows I have an unnatural obsession with preparing grant applications, so the clickety clack of the keys on my keyboard will be echoing the pulse of a very happy heart indeed.

Fake it till you make it, as they say. Or as I say: when you’re sad or restless, do something to make yourself happy.

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