Month In Review: June 2016

Thin wooden boards with contrasting light and dark brown colouring.

Another month, another milestone, I suppose. I did a lot of reading this month, as well as a great amount of writing. I’ve been making progress. The #WriteChain has helped a bunch with keeping me going on my writing. Halfway into June, though, I cut back on the amount I was writing after I finished the first 1/3 of my WIP. I switched to doing some intensive research on religions and mythologies to help me with building a key aspect of the fantasy world. There are so many similarities between all these diverse religions! It’s incredible! The differences between them have also been inspiring. I’m progressing well with this rewrite of the book. I’m confident that I’ll be able to dive into revisions on this draft by the end of August.

One thing I aimed to do through June was my “30 Day Salad Challenge.” I didn’t do 30 days of salads, but I got really, really damn close. For a few days, I didn’t have the groceries to make salads, so that was alright. I think I replaced at least 5 meals every week with a salad. That’s an achievement considering I used to never eat salads unless I was ordering one at a restaurant. I made lots of homemade dressing with Greek yogurt and olive oil (plus other ingredients). I never realised Caesar dressing was simple to make, if you can skimp out on “authenticity” (/coughs at a raw egg yolk in the original recipe) and go for flavours.

Here are some of my favourite posts from June
A single adjective for June was sluggish.

Though the month seemed to go by quickly for me, each day was excruciating to get through. The heat makes me want to curl up on a train headed into a snowbank. The summer always makes me feel less productive, more cranky, and less excited. It’s a boring season filled with humidity and too many teenagers roaming around. I’ve also been plagued by headaches/migraines/cluster headaches (whatever the hell they are) once the average daily temperature reached a minimum 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). I am not built for heat.

In July, I look forward to
  • seeing my oldest brother in the beginning of the month.
  • seeing my boyfriend for his birthday on July 5th.
  • going to the Royal Ontario Museum with my boyfriend.
  • starting design and formatting work for a local self-publishing author!
  • more writing—I have a very confident path for the book now that the scenes are in order and the beginning is completed.

Stay frosty, everyone. I know I’m trying to.

month in review june

Writing Wednesday 18

This month’s Writing Wednesday series hosts interviews with characters from my WIP. The last interview! Meet the antagonist.

First and foremost, your name and a little bit about you.

My name is Harlow and I’m a student at the Academy with Zephyr.

What is your fondest memory?

My most recent fond memory is when I showed my Academy acceptance to my parents. We celebrated with a party at our house and hired a cook from over the mountains. The food was different, but delicious.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Long fingernails, whether they’re on my own hands or someone else’s.

Would you rather be a bird scared of heights, or a bird who couldn’t fly?

A bird scared of heights. A bird could face its fear, but a bird who can’t fly like its kin might as well be dead.

Which would be a more painful way of dying: drowning, or burning?

Burning. I think it’s slower and more agonising. And if you manage to live through a fatal burning, you’re more scarred than if you survived drowning.

If you could be reincarnated, what or who would you like to be in another life?

Lava or magma would be fun.

More about this WIP can be found on the writing projects page.

Snarky Thoughts

Romance

So sometimes people confess their romantic interest in someone. And sometimes it’s like, “Alright, fine, this is a little awkward, but I’m glad you felt confident enough to say it and in some way make peace with yourself.” And other times, they make it this display of loyalty. “I’ve liked you since high school!” and now they’re in their mid-20s and are completely different people and haven’t kept in regular contact. The best example of a terrible, terrible person who is very good at this annoying thing: Ross Geller. Who cares if you’ve had a crush on Rachel since high school? You entitled prick.

Don’t chase an ideal of a person. Don’t chase the shadow of a person. Don’t chase the past and dig up lawn-covered graves. Don’t think that your confession of love guarantees reciprocation. Were you friends in high school? Are you friends now? Do you know how they’ve changed as a person? Do you know what they want in their future? Love in the past is not love in the present or the future.

I can sometimes be critical of romance and romantic gestures. I mean… I’ll be weirded out if even my boyfriend stood outside my bedroom window with a boombox. I mean. Just knock on the fucking door or text me. Maybe my annoyance with grand declarations of love comes from my aversion to romance in general. Sometimes I think I’m a bit aromantic—maybe I should look into that.

Proving Yourself

You don’t need to make a damn show of something every time you get excited about it, especially if it’s part of your identity. I hate fandom mentality, and I hate how it can creep into some parts of life. Pride parades? They have a place. They’re like parties. They’re specific events. But when you become a narcissistic cow and try to bring that party into everything, it comes off as fake.

You like video games? Good. That’s fine. But you don’t need to shove it in my face. You don’t need to quiz me in a mirrored way by asking if I know a bit of trivia in order for you to answer it yourself. I don’t care.

I get it. You’re insecure. You’re unsure of yourself. You want to be accepted. And I know there is a bit of grace that is partly natural when it comes to building self-confidence. I’m blessed to have that, even though I’m also often insecure and unsure and desire acceptance. But seeking external and interpersonal validation for something that is entirely internal and intrapersonal (hobbies, interests, sexuality, gender identity, ethnic identity) isn’t the right way to go. Look for a community to share and bond with instead. I’m all about people seeking a community. I think that’s different from seeking validation—seeking a community is a search for safe spaces and similarities and growth. Don’t flaunt your interest in a way that makes people want to tell you, “Yes, I can see that. You are very interested in this thing.” It’s annoying.

Pesto

I really, really hate pesto. I don’t know if it’s the basil or the pine nuts, but something about it makes me want to spit all over bundles of herbs.

Sun

My eye doctor told me to avoid sunlight and I think that’s enough reason for me to hate the sun, but there’s more. My skin reacts badly to sunlight. The sun gives off heat, and I am incredibly heat sensitive. Intense sunlight leads to shittier photographs—diffused light, like on an overcast day or with lighting equipment, is much better. It’s no wonder I always fight the urge to become nocturnal in the summer. The moon is much kinder to me.

Snarky Thoughts

Bullet Journal 101: Getting Started

Bullet Journal 101 Series on CorylDork

Welcome to Bullet Journal 101—the beginner’s “course” where I’ll be guiding you through the bullet journal. I only started using a bullet journal in March 2016, but I’ve been watching it and internalising so many bullet journal things since the beginning of 2015 that I think I know my stuff.

So let’s get into it! I’m introducing the absolute and utmost basic, beginner parts of the bullet journal.

The bullet journal official website has a decent walkthrough for getting started on the bullet journal. But if you look at anywhere in the bullet journal (or “BuJo”) community, people have adapted this planning system substantially.

Frankly, I think that the purist bullet journal approach—following the official system developed by Ryder Carroll—is sterile. It lacks inspiration, personality, and intrigue. So the best way to use the bullet journal is to understand why and how it started, and then adapt as you go along. You’ll find what works for you if you let yourself explore.

So what are the essentials? What are the basics that come even before the introduction on the official website? Let’s get down to the grains in the sand that built this castle.

The essentials to the bullet journal are the following:

  • Index
  • Bullet-point lists
  • Collections

There are more parts to the bullet journal than these three, but if you want to dip your feet into the system, these are the three you should first be aware of. More can be added later. For the time being, let’s keep it simple.

Index

The index on the bullet journal website is a misnomer. It’s actually a table of contents. At the beginning of the bullet journal, a few pages are left blank in order to write the page number and contents of the page. (An index, on the other hand, would be at the back and work with key words and phrases, not a literal list of contents with page numbers. For shame, BuJo website.)

Personally, the index doesn’t work for me. I don’t go to the front of my bullet journal, get the page number for what I seek, and then find the page number with the contents. I can usually flip through my BuJo easily to find what I need. It’s up to you if you want to include it. After three weeks, I abandoned mine.

However, one great function of the index, if it’s maintained, is the ability to see at-a-glance all of the contents in your bullet journal. You can see a list of which days you logged, where you meal planned, the collections you have; and you can assess which of these things work, don’t work, or need to be changed.

Bullet-Point Lists

This is where the bullet journal gets its name. You use bullet points to signify and list tasks, events, reminders, notes, and anything else you may want to include in your journal.

Within the bullet-point system, there are two types of “points” you can use: bullets and signifiers.

Bullets are the dots, circles, boxes, triangles, hearts, arrows, checkmarks, X’s—whatever you’re using to create your list. The original system uses dots, circles, and dashes. Each bullet corresponds with a specific type of notation: dots are for “tasks” (typical of a to-do list); circles are for events (I classify these as time-sensitive tasks); and dashes are for notes (pieces of information to remember for something else).

Signifiers add context to the bullet. This context can put the list item into a category (such as inspiration or finances), show importance, or group the item with other items throughout the journal. The original system has signifiers for priorities, inspiration, and exploration. Each of these categories has an additional function to it: priorities with asterisks mean that list item is more important; inspiration shows a list item intended for migration; and exploration denotes a list item that needs more information researched on it.

The bullet-point system also includes variations in the bullets to say whether that list item is 1) done; 2) in progress; or 3) migrated (AKA scheduled for later).

I think everyone should find their personal style for bullet points. This function is the core of the bullet journal, so it will be present throughout. Here’s a sample of some bullet points I’ve thought of. I use triangles, circles, hearts, and double slashes because they’re easy to draw and easy to differentiate.

Bullet Journal Different Icons Bullets and Signifiers

Collections

Collections are very self-explanatory. They are pages that hold similar information, whether it’s a calendar for a specific month, a meal plan, a list of books to read, or quotations for motivation. The official website breaks collections into different logs and modules, and I think collections are more of a community-created aspect to bullet journalling instead of part of the original system. But I’m using it here as an umbrella term.

I consider collections to be anything from the calendars in “Logs” to a page of scratch notes for an active project. I also think the more unique spreads, such as goal-setting pages and trackers, are individual collections.

To put it simply, collections are places where you collect information, regardless of the format it’s collected in. Some collections are lists. Others are calendars. Each one is different, otherwise it would fit into another collection.


These are the parts I consider the most important to getting started with a bullet journal. The introduction to the BuJo is incredibly content-heavy, with tons of different things that may or may not serve you.

Pick up something and try it out. If it doesn’t serve you, leave it behind.

This week’s challenge

Get a piece of paper, whether it’s lined, grid, blank, or even a sticky note, and a writing implement. Write the date—however you want!—at the top. Start a to-do list, whether it’s for yesterday, today, or tomorrow. Use the bullet journal system’s key to categorise your list items, including signifiers. Try this for a few days, then assess the following:

  • Do these bullet designs work for me?
  • Do these icons for signifiers work for me?
  • What categories do I need on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis?

This is a quick and simple (and 100% fake) bullet journal to-do list that I’ve created, but using my own bullet icons to suit my own brain.

Getting Started Example Bullet Journal Entry Log

Look at my meaty hand. I wrote this on a sticky note and it works well! The exclamation points denote two priority items, with the filled-in one being more important than the other one.

Come back next Friday for “Bullet Journal 101: Modules, Logs, and Migration” to learn more about expanding your bullet journal out from to-do lists!

Bullet Journal 101: Getting Started for the Absolute Beginner

A Quick Notice

I’m trying Google AdSense on my blog. You’re under no obligation to click on these ads or to whitelist the site with your adblocker. The ads will never be full-page or pop-up, nor will they be greater than a segment of the sidebar.

I’m not sure if I’ll use AdSense for a long period of time, but for right now, I’m testing it out.

Writing Wednesday 17

This month’s Writing Wednesday series hosts interviews with characters from my WIP. Here’s one of the supporting characters.

First and foremost, your name and a little bit about you.

Gabriel. I’m trying to get into an Academy.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

When I discovered my magic abilities. I knew I had a natural talent. I suppose my talent itself is my greatest accomplishment, and I’m always trying to get stronger.

Which is the greatest virtue?

Persistence.

You hear a noise in the dark and you’re alone. Do you investigate with curiosity, ignore it, or brace yourself?

I investigate with curiosity.

Which would be a more painful way of dying: drowning, or burning?

Drowning would be. The death is more overwhelming. It works from the inside out.

If you could be reincarnated, what or who would you like to be in another life?

I’d like to be someone in another city. Maybe not in this country or the one over the mountains, but somewhere with more people.

More about this WIP can be found on the writing projects page.

This Was A Day: June 18

I signed up for a bookbinding workshop at the library here in Windsor. The event started at 10AM and I arrived just on time—the bus was a bit late, but fortunately not too late. Even I was pleased with the turnout to the event! There were a number of elderly folk. I hope if I reach a wise age, I still have interest in trying new things. We made a simple and adorable pamphlet-style single signature booklet. The workshop was run by Jodi Green, a local bookbinder at Levigator Press. She has so many classes and skills, and I must say—the prices are very, very reasonable. If you’re ever in Windsor (or hey, if you’re a Windsorite), she’s super charismatic and knowledgeable. The library provided some stamps and ink to decorate the covers. I was starting to feel a little anxious and awkward by the end of the workshop, so I kept my stamping to a minimum. I’m very pleased with it.

A photo posted by Coryl o‘Reilly (@coryldork) on


One of the other attendees, who sat at my table, chatted with me throughout the hour-long workshop. Near the end, she introduced herself and a younger girl—a little unorthodox, like a footnote to all of our small talk. The woman worked with youth and the girl was in ninth grade. After I told her a bit about myself (student, final semester), she sad I could’ve passed as a high school student.

Needless to say, I was a little shocked; but over the past five years, I’ve been taken anywhere between 16 and 25.

My bus ride back home wasn’t the greatest. I really, really hate rude bus drivers.

I had to prepare for a meeting at 2PM with a potential client, so I prepared a small portfolio of my design work. Most of it was older and from about three years ago, but even after that time, I’m still very proud of the work. I was thinking that I could offer my design services alongside all of my editing and formatting ones. Maybe make myself a whole “package” for bookish production!

The meeting, thankfully, went well. It felt less like I had to try to secure her confidence or convince her I was skilled enough, and more that I had to show my interest and dedication to the project. I’m excited to work on the project, as well as with the woman. She and I clicked well, which is a blessing with any sort of business relationship. I like having a personal rapport with them—I feel less rigid, and it’s easier for me to show my passion.

Time went by incredibly quickly after the meeting. I had some food and messed up my dill pickle popcorn. Note to self: don’t pour a liquid seasoning on the stovetop popcorn. It’ll melt the popcorn. Toss in the liquids instead.

I watched season 4: episode 2 of Orange Is The New Black. Yesterday, I watched the first episode and didn’t think I’d be able to get into it. But after I finished this episode, I think I can still enjoy the series.

My boyfriend and I had a Skype date scheduled for 5:30—which is right now. I always budget my time to accommodate the fact that he’s always late. We’ll talk for a while, I might play some flash games, and I’ll end the night with reading and writing. Maybe throw in a to-do list for tomorrow and my new client work.

A small announcement: Starting next week, I’m increasing my blog posts to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for three posts per week.

Hope you all had a decent Saturday!

Writing Wednesday 16

This month’s Writing Wednesday series hosts interviews with characters from my WIP. Here’s one of the supporting characters.

First and foremost, your name and a little bit about you.

Thank you for having me here. I am Imani. I am twenty years old and a very optimistic person.

What makes you laugh so hard you cry?

My sister, when she is at her best. She has always been silly and goofy.

Where do you go when you’re angry?

When I am angry and upset, I go to the forest trails outside of my village. It is the opposite of quiet: birds, wind, my footsteps all bring me back to the world.

You see two paths in front of you: one leads to a vine-covered set of ruins, and the other leads to a small cottage. Which path are you drawn to?

I am drawn to the small cottage. I imagine it in the early twilight and smoke floats out of a chimney, and a light shines through many windows.

Which would be a more painful way of dying: drowning, or burning?

I prefer not to answer. My parents and their siblings drowned many years ago.

If you could be reincarnated, what or who would you like to be in another life?

I would like to be a person born into a city like the one near the lake or in one over the mountains.

More about this WIP can be found on the writing projects page.

Thoughts On Gender

I think “male” and “female” describe gender the same way “spring” and “autumn” describe seasons.

You expect certain things of spring. You expect flowers and rain and milder weather. But that isn’t always the case. The weather can still be damn cold. The flowers can bloom late, or not at all, or only some of them. Maybe there’s a dry period of time, and instead of rain, you get wildfires. The hurricane season starts early. Maybe the weather, as it is while I’m writing this, is summery and disgustingly hot despite it not being officially summer.

But the thing is, you still call it spring, despite those variations. Something binds attributes with that time of year, in that hemisphere, and in that part of the Northern Hemisphere. Florida’s spring is starkly different from Yukon’s spring, but they’re both still called spring. They vary and everyone’s awareness of spring varies. Maybe it’s based on specific dates that correspond with astronomical variation. Even those dates change: some years it’s March 21 to June 21 and others, like this year, it’s March 20 to June 20.

For me, spring is when it beings to rain more than snow, regardless of how much snow there is. I anticipate spring’s arrival when I see the lush green stems of flowers, before the blooms. I see the buds on trees. Spring doesn’t correlate with a day of the year for me. It’s how the weather changes. Between Windsor and my hometown north of Toronto, I can feel two different seasons. Maybe it’s winter up north and spring in Windsor.

And if you go to the southern hemisphere, then the dates for spring are irrelevant. It’s not March to June at all. Now what? Do you think that spring doesn’t exist in Australia or Chile? No—you realise that it’s simply in a different time slot.

And autumn—the same principle.

What I’m getting at is that even within these descriptors, certain dates, personal traditions and indicators, there is no cut-and-dry definition of the season. Of any season. But there are patterns and associations that help to define them.

And that’s the same with gender.

There is no cut-and-dry definition.

And there are still things we associate with genders. Women with long hair. Men with deep voices. Women with wider hips. Men with broader shoulders. Genitals. Social roles. Those kinds of things.

But it can reach summer temperatures in spring and women can have deep voices and short hair. Men can have wide hips and narrow shoulders.

Let’s say “spring” is synonymous with “female” and “autumn” is synonymous with “male.” You get preconceptions and expectations, but you’re not going to say it’s still winter when it snows on May 12th (true story; it was such a weird day). You get thrown a bit, a little disoriented, but you take that snow in spring and still call it spring because you know it’s spring, dammit, and no amount of snow is going to make it winter again.

It’s what you label something that matters, regardless of the small variations, I think. It’s autumn if you think it’s autumn, regardless of the first frost or the first snow or an “Indian summer.” It’s autumn, not winter or summer, because that’s what it’s called for that kind of position in the year and weather and hemisphere and latitude.

I think this is why I’m okay with having genders—but not with a strict binary. I think gender has a place, but our notions of gender are a bit skewed. The binary thing. I’m not okay with it. But I am okay with specific genders. It’s a helpful label, like seasons.

That summery weather outside of summer is kind of how I think “transgender” should be seen. I often feel like it’s seen as the flip from the northern hemisphere to southern hemisphere: if you’re March to June, you’re either spring or autumn. And I think that’s wrong. You don’t have to go from male to female or female to male identity to be transgender. If someone tells you you’re autumn, but you feel more like a winter, then… that’s still transgender.

I just think it’d be easier if “transgender” weren’t a thing. If we had more than two genders widely accepted.

One comment related to transgender identity comes with how pet owners correct pronoun usage for their pets. I think it’s an inaccurate comparison. If someone calls your dog a she when it has a penis, and you call it a he, the person you’re correcting gets it faster. It’s based on biological sex. People are quicker to associate pronouns with biological sex, and using the pet comparison only emphasises the role of biological sex in gender. It’d be like telling an Australian they’re wrong for thinking it’s winter because it’s the middle of July. It’s not the same thing. (Also, pets and people are not the same.)

Gender is not your genitals.

Gender is your own version of a season.

Thoughts On Gender

Writing Wednesday 15

So, this month’s Writing Wednesday series is going to focus on my characters for my WIP. Here’s the second interview!

First and foremost, your name and a little bit about you.

Dwyn. I have a twin brother. I love the lakes and rivers. This town isn’t big enough for me anymore.

Which talent would you most want to have?

If an unearthly talent counts, then underwater breathing. I hear there are mermaids in the sea, so maybe I could join them. If I must stick with conventional talents, then flexibility, as in bodily flexibility. Back-bends and contortions and that nonsense.

On which occasions do you lie, if ever?

I’d lie to keep a secret, but I’d also lie to get out of a deathly situation. I try to be honest in my life, without casting sugar on painful situations. A life in trading, however, showed me a grey area between lies and honesty—“persuading” would be a gentle word for it, actually. Let’s call it persuasion instead of lying.

Would you rather survive in a damp cave or an expansive desert?

Damp cave. I’ve lived my whole love in the desert, worked most of my recent years under a scorching sun, and as much as I like to be warm, some humidity might be a welcome change.

Which would be a more painful way of dying: drowning, or burning?

Burning. As much as I love the sun, I wouldn’t want to feel like I’m swimming in it.

If you could be reincarnated, what or who would you like to be in another life?

Mermaid. Mermaid. Mermaid. Or a bundle of algae.

More about this WIP can be found on the writing projects page.