Month In Review: September 2016

Thin wooden boards with contrasting light and dark brown colouring.

I started up my last semester of university this month, and I could not be more excited to be done with school. My boyfriend also moved in with me. September was so rainy and thankfully cooled down halfway through the month. I can wear sweaters again!

Here are some of my favourite posts from this month:
  • New Bullet Journal Setup (September 9) – I’ve been loving the new notebook and the setup definitely played a role in my enjoyment.
  • Thoughts On Fluid Sexuality (September 12) – This post was long-coming and I’m glad I got it out into the world. I’ll say it again: you can change your mind. You can keep figuring things out.
  • Writing Wednesday: Plane of a Face (September 21) – I’ve missed writing poetry and the language in this one was so fun to play with.
  • Bullet Journal Spreads: September 2016 (September 26) – I’ll be doing another roundup of all my bullet journal spreads for October. This was a great post for reviewing my bujo!
A single adjective for September was transitional

I had to get used to going to school once again. It feels like time has barely passed, though. I think that’s because I have two single-day classes per week, so it feels like I’m going to fewer classes (which is true). There was also a lot of change to get used to. I also didn’t do everything I wanted to, blog-wise, during September. Not even bothered by that.

In October, I look forward to:
  • My birthday on the 6th!
  • Finishing my WIP. I know that for last month I put this, too, but I was overshooting my goals then.
  • Preparing for NaNoWriMo.
  • A week off of classes.
  • Seeing my family again in the middle of the month.

I’m hoping October doesn’t go by too quickly, but I’m hoping it does—I’ll be even closer to getting out of school and facing the shit-storm of society. Let’s hope I also get a ton of writing done.

Writing Wednesday: October Goals

For this week’s Writing Wednesday, I’m sharing goals for the upcoming month instead of posting some of my creative writing. I figure it’s time I get a bit more transparent and permanent with what I want to achieve. Call it accountability, if you want; I’m calling it a reminder.

I love October. It’s my favourite month of the year. I love the way it’s written, the linguistics of the word, the change of season, my birthday in the first week, Thanksgiving in the second week (#Canadian, don’t forget), the chance of frost in the third week, and Halloween in the fourth week. It isn’t a December mess with Christmas and New Year’s fighting for a week.

So it’s only natural my biggest goal is a terrifying one. I have to counterbalance the wondrous ambience of this month, aye?

Word Goal 1: 70,000 by October 7

I have to reach 60,000 by September 30, and then I can do the 10K in the first week of October. I’m behind on my word count (and scene completion) goals right now, but I have a good feeling about this weekend and my writing.

Word Goal 2: 80,000 by October 15

The deadline for this goal falls near the end of a week-long break from university classes, so I’m confident I can achieve this one.

Big Goal: Finish this draft of THE PILGRIMAGE

I want to have this done by November 1. That deadline might cause some trouble, since it’ll come very quickly. I write by scene and have yet to complete approximately half of the story. I don’t know how word counts will reflect the completed scenes, so I can’t set a word count goal. My original goal for this story was 70,000, but once I reached 35,000, I knew that was too low. We’ll see how this goes!

I have pinpointed 4 struggles.

  1. The keyboard for my desktop finally wore out under my 110WPM fury. I am stuck with my laptop and its terrible keys that are much too slow for my fingers. I’ll be replacing the keyboard in the second week of October when I’m back up north with my family and have access to decent electronics shops. Until then, however, I’m left with this aged machine.
  2. It’s midterm season for university. My time management skills have improved, so the second and third weeks of October will be a test of those skills. Luckily, I don’t have many tests this semester, which means I won’t have to stressfully study as much.
  3. I’m trying to maintain relatively good grades and progress with readings in my courses. A lot of my time is spent reading and re-reading material for class, and I read unfortunately slowly.
  4. I want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I also want to edit THE PILGRIMAGE during November. I’ll see if I can balance writing something for the heck of it and editing something I take seriously. There’s no shame in giving up one. (I’d be giving up NaNoWriMo, as is my tradition.)

I’m going to do what I can: manage my time carefully, remember to look after myself and my Self, and wake up earlier. I can function more easily by waking up earlier instead of staying up late. (The quiet mornings also give me a good space in which to meditate and do yoga.)

I’m shocked at my own motivation, to be completely honest. I won’t question it. I’m going to embrace the fiery in my ribcage and get this story told.

What are your writing goals for October?

Bullet Journal Spreads: September 2016

We’re reaching the end of the month, so I figured I’d showcase how my new bullet journal setup has fared throughout September. This is all in the new notebook I started (review of the “Productive Luddite” book here!) using a Uniball Signo 207 black pen.

I don’t have a spread of the weekly spread from September 25th to October 2nd since I haven’t finished it yet. I can tell you, though, I’m trying something different: I’m doing a “dutch door” spread, with my weekly whatnots above (in the top window) and my daily logs in the pages below. I’ll definitely be posting a picture, but it’ll be on my Instagram.

Okay. I’m done dropping links. Let’s get started with the spreads!

Monthly

Text reading "September" surrounded by abstract swirls.

I love having an opening title page to the month. This is something I started doing at the end of my previous notebook, but this time around, I wanted to spruce it up. Some might call this a “zentangle” but it doesn’t conform to that trend (which… has been copyrighted. A’ight). I’ve been adding to this abstract doodle throughout the month and I’m still unsure if I want to add colour or not!

September calendar and a chart for tracking habits.

This is my calendar view and my habit tracker. I’ll admit: that calendar view was basically useless. I’ve tried this, a list view, and a larger calendar. But I just can’t seem to find something that works. I’m not sure how to improve on this, so I don’t know if I’ll include a monthly view in October at all.

Weekly

Most of my weekly “spreads” are just one-page outlines of deadlines that week, goals I want to accomplish, and a few have a small calendar view.

A display of the week (September 5th to 11th) with a calendar, a to-do list, and deadlines.

A display of the week (September 12th to 18th ) with a calendar, a to-do list, and deadlines.

A display of the week (September 19th to 25th) with a calendar, a to-do list, and deadlines.

Daily

I like to use as much space as possible on pages, so my daily logs are about 2 days to a page. These are all pretty similar, and I’m thinking of different ways to improve on the spreads. I think the “dutch door” view I’m trying for this week will be the biggest change and will help me figure out how best to do things.

I think for my future daily logs, I want to categories better. I’ve struggled managing my time since school started, because I suck at realising how much time it takes for me to read through mandatory papers and stories and poems. I’m thinking for this week, I’ll use categories. I’m still not sure what categories, however, but I’ll figure out something.

I also miss my schedule/time codex, so I think I’ll bring that back in some form. It was weird trying to use it at the beginning of the semester, but I think it’ll be the most helpful now with classes in full swing.

 

A to-do list from September 5th to 8th

A to-do list from September 12th to 16th

A to-do list from September 19th to 22nd

A to-do list from September 23rd to 25th

This has been a great review of my spreads and what works for me, just through what hasn’t been working for me.

  1. Goals need to be visible daily for me to feel motivated.
  2. Daily logs are improved with categories.
  3. The time codex deserves a comeback.

I’m excited for the new month next week. It’s also my birthday month, and it should be colder, and I’m looking forward to the season.

Mental Illness and Writing

Mental illness and writing do not go hand-in-hand.

But then again, mental illness doesn’t particularly go hand-in-hand with anything productive.

It hits hard against writing and creative work, however. There are so many thoughts and so much subjectivity that it’s hard to separate from your mental illness. There is also so much production necessary in creative work. And when you’re in bed, depressed, or having a panic attack from your PTSD, it’s nearly impossible to receive anything, let alone produce anything.

A quick list of the things I suffer from:

  • PTSD (as described by my recent counsellor)
  • Depression (as described by my doctor and my previous therapists)
  • Disordered eating (as discovered by lots of googling and common sense)
  • Body and gender dysphoria

So life is difficult. Everything is difficult. Words are difficult and washing my face is difficult. And yes, I say suffer, because fuck do I suffer.

As writers, we’ve heard of and experienced writing burnout. We hustle so hard until we reach a certain point and need to stop. We know there’s something wrong, and we know that continuing at our current pace will spell certain disasters for us.

Having mental illness means I have a reduced capacity for tasks, whether they’re mundane or creative or whatever. Not every day is the same, of course—some days, my mental illness sits and doesn’t bother me. Other days, though, I lie in bed without the energy or desire to brush my teeth, wash my face, or eat something.

When I’m being told constantly that “writers write” and I need to “write every day” and I don’t have the capacity for it? I kinda feel like shit. I already feel guilty for not being able to do things “normally.” Hygiene and eating are such simple tasks, but they can become difficult when my mental illness flares up. Adding writing to that? Adding any kind of creative art to the list of things I need to do? I can’t handle it.

If you have a mental disorder or suffer from a chronic illness, you don’t need to write every day. You don’t need to hustle until you burn out from writing. You can be slow and write small amounts. 5K days aren’t always feasible. Write 100 words if you can. Hug yourself for not writing today if you can’t.

I know I can’t write every day, because 1) I’m a busy student; and 2) I have mental illness and need to prioritise other tasks than writing.

Writing Wednesday: “Plane of a Face”

the rhetorical roller coaster throws me for a hypotenuse and I fall

straight edge straight down straight across straight up

a corner…

a tunnel…

a freedom and an insurmountable height, straight ↑

what’s your angle?

turn my face into a light bulb, an onion bulb, a tulip bulb, a bulbous mass of

cells and cellophane

wrapped in sharps, shape edges

a package a packet a pamphlet a parcel

mould me in rectangular, angular, ruler lines

a compass curve — an abyss’s swerve

turn my triangles upside ↓

5 Very Specific Pet Peeves

Like every other human on the planet, I get annoyed. And I get annoyed quite often. I have a short fuse. A temper, if you will. And some things are like a million matches set on that short fuse.

Waking up to someone’s voice

You could be my best friend, my partner, my family, a stranger—and I will still be bitter for the entire damn day if I have to wake up because I overheard your voice. Not because you were talking trying that ito wake me up. No, no—if I wake up because you’re talking and ignoring or forgetting that I’m asleep, so you’re talking normal volume, having a conversation or whatever… Congratulations: I hate you for an indeterminate amount of time.

Websites that don’t let me view the desktop version while I’m on mobile

Listen, I know that having your website be responsive for multiple devices is a great thing to do. But if it impedes on my ability to access certain parts of your website, or if the layout is so drastically different that I’m not sure if I’m on the legitimate website, then we have a problem. (I’m looking at you, Google Drive: I don’t want to nor do I have the storage space to download your fucking app.) Some websites have a whole different subdomain for mobile, and some have their sites be responsive. And honestly, most of the time I’ll stop what I’m doing and set it aside until I’m on a desktop.

When people disrespect the fact that I often get sensory overload

Sensory overload for me makes me irritable, confused, and unable to focus—in that order. So I’m going to start off being grumpy and annoyed until I remember, “Hey, Coryl? You have PTSD. Right now, your senses are overloaded. Put on some earplugs or headphones.” I resort to listening to music with headphones, unless I’m trying to sleep, and I get so pissed off when people—especially strangers—want me to take them out so they can say something. True, you don’t know when it’s okay to bother me, but I’d think my body language of completely ignoring my surroundings would be enough to say “Ignore me in return.” I’m not hard to read, after all; my face is quite expressive.

Comments on what I eat or don’t eat

It’s not your fucking place if you aren’t my nutritionist or doctor. That’s it.

(The long version of this is my body dysmorphia and how it links back to my eating habits and disorder.)

The demand to justify things like feelings, opinions, etc. on non-important topics

If I don’t like something, I’m not going to go into detail about why I don’t like it if it’s something like a movie. I’m also not going to try to justify why someone makes me feel uncomfortable—because that’s 100% subjective. It really is.

Do you have any super specific pet peeves? Let’s be salty and particular together.

Trash Fire Society

I had a different post scheduled for today, but it felt inappropriate to post right now—for many reasons.

I wish I could disconnect from the trash fire society we live in. The one, particularly in North America (I’m looking at you, United States), that gives safe spaces to the white and privileged. The bigoted. The one that allows these people to find other people, and to use as many means possible to harass and abuse them. I wish I could disconnect from that.

I could easily avoid social media. I could quit it all—then I wouldn’t see it happening to myself, or to marginalised writers who speak up about the industry, or to women of colour and Muslims on a daily basis. Amongst, of course, more people who are unsafe.

But I can’t disconnect from the trash fire society. Because these harassers and attackers and mobs of people going out of their way—and taking enjoyment in—abusing these people… they’re simply using one method to state and act upon the beliefs that are more dangerous in person. And this shit blows up in person, in real life, off the Internet. It blows up all the time and people die.

It is a reality for so many people to be under fire and scared to speak and scared to live. And I wish it wasn’t. I wish it were harder for people to suffer at the hands of so many bigots. I wish social media were inclined to safe spaces instead of revenue. I wish for so many things. I wish all of us who are decent human beings could leave this planet and go live somewhere else and be happy. I wish there was more we could do to make safe spaces in an unsafe world—the digital, Internet world, and the vast, offline world.

Writing Wednesday: Ghostly Flash Fiction

Decorative image of a person obscured by a white linen curtain.

I died a few days ago, and moving into the Afterlife was a struggle—but why would it be very different from moving in the Mortal world? Bureaucracy. I thought I would bypass it when I died, but then again, the alive now occupy the dead.

I was given a grace period after I died. I was permitted to watch the funeral services—I was cremated, and I still felt a little queasy at being burned; but that still felt right. My family and friends were initially sad, and I was sad too. Their soft faces hung down and some cried. One of my friends, bless him, cried for the first time in my existence. We had known each other for thirty years. My mother and her shaking hands, from grief and age, decorated the stand with photographs, trophies, a few of my books, and flowers. My step-father picked the urn. He has impeccable taste.

The services were short and secular. The funeral home was gracious and solemn. My step-father and my mother hosted a party, of sorts, after the service. They even hired a caterer, who brought vegan sandwiches for my group of friends and traditional funeral finger foods for the ageing family members.
Their rainy smiles from the service parted into cool, jovial breezes as they remembered me. I took some time to explore the house, the one my parents had moved into after their youngest moved out. Their style was definitely old. I felt my spirit smile softly, the grin growing with every laughter from the sitting room or the kitchen.
When I went up the carpeted stairs, still not sure of the feel of it under my feet, part of me expected to find a childhood bedroom. But there were only two bedrooms, a computer room, and a three-piece bath. Quilts everywhere. Vacuum lines on wall-to-wall carpet.

I didn’t get to see everyone leave the house. I was guided by Grim’s Guards (the spirits who bring the new recruits, because, in their words, “There are too many people for a single Reaper to handle.”) to the next phase for my… initiation, I suppose.

Based on the religious society I grew in, I expected judgement. But there was none. No gates, no gavel, no figure of Good nor Evil to cast me into a group of Better- or Worse-Thans. Instead, I was debriefed with hundreds of other spirits from around my city on what to expect in the Afterlife.

I’m still learning, and of course I’ve forgotten that session.

Eventually, I was released to find housing, and I had fifteen days before Grim’s Guards re-processed me.

Because a spirit wandering around will inevitably get into trouble.

Prompt: You’re a ghost looking for a new home in your neighbourhood. Where would you choose? (Source: WritingExercises.co.uk)

Thoughts On Fluid Sexuality

Decorative image of an overcast sky and brown sand beach.

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while. I suppose I prefaced this post by writing Types of Being “Out”, but though the topic is related, I’m touching on a different aspect.

Fluidity. Change. I’m not going to spout some bullshit about fearing or embracing change, because that’s not what this post is about.

This post is telling you that sexuality is fluid. It changes. Your sexuality can change as you change. I’m not talking about you realising you’re not straight. I’m talking about you picking a different sexuality to the one you originally came out as.

My personal history

My first memory of being exposed to sexuality identity and sexuality occurred when I was 7. People called me a lesbian.

Through puberty, age 10 – 14, I questioned my sexuality. I settled on bisexual.

In high school, I was exposed to more gender identities other than cisgender man/woman and transgender man/woman. There are more genders than those binary ones. I realised I was pansexual because gender did not influence my choices.

Nowadays, I’m questioning my romanticism—am I demiromantic? Aromantic? I’m not entirely sure. I’m still learning more about myself, and that isn’t just from growing up. It’s from being exposed to other versions of romantic lifestyles. It’s from having relationships with people—romantic or platonic. It’s from learning. There are so many ways for me to think about “romance” and “love,” but there are more that I don’t know about.


What I’m getting at is sexuality is fluid. I grew up with nobody to tell me there was something other than the perceived norm: heterosexual and heteroromantic. Then, I learned about homosexuality, and then bisexuality. I didn’t think about different genders, though I did question my own gender identity. I didn’t know about transgender and non-binary and other genders.

Your identity changes and grows as you learn more about other people’s experiences. I don’t believe anyone who says they’ve never had a questioning phase. There has to be a time where you think, “Wait, does this label apply to me?” You think of your own life and everyone’s lives around you, whether you know them personally or they’re in the media. There’s so much to learn and so much space your mind has to expand into. There are so many ways to love and live.

All of that knowledge and experience is why I think it’s important to teach young people about gender identity and sexuality. I was seven when people started calling me “lesbo.” These were my peers. They knew about something I didn’t. And yes, seven is a young age—but it’s better to be knowledgeable about things.

After all, if someone tells a child that knowing or understanding a concept is wrong, taboo, or “not for them,” how will they look at it when they don’t have a parent censoring what they’re exposed to? How will they react to information when they’re older? Communication is important, and I wish I had it when I was younger so I didn’t have to feel so ashamed of who I was attracted to, who I thought I was, and who I loved.

I wish there had been someone in my life to tell me that I’m allowed to change my mind about my identity. That I didn’t have to stick with the cis I was labelled as, the lesbo I was labelled as, the bisexual I started with, the pansexual I’m at now. I might learn something else. I might decide that, hey, maybe I really am heterosexual. Maybe I’m asexual. Anything goes. I will become someone different than my twenty-something existence now. I may change my mind to better suit and find peace with myself. I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to decide on a sexuality to have and to hold till death do us part.

So that’s what I’m doing for you.

You can change your mind. You can continue figuring things out. At one point, you didn’t know something. You learned. You formed opinions. You may have eaten mushrooms as a kid, but now you don’t. And that’s okay—just as okay as deciding that, hey, maybe you aren’t what you thought you were. Maybe the shoe doesn’t fit.

Sexuality changes because you change. There’s nothing wrong with figuring out something new.

Decorative image with the post title "Thoughts On Fluid Sexuality" with an overcast beach photograph.

New Bullet Journal Setup

In preparation for my new bullet journal, I assessed my old one and what worked and what didn’t. From that, I made a list of what I wanted to include in the new bullet journal.

So, here’s the list of what I included! I won’t go into detail about each one, since they’re all worthy of their own blog post; but most of them are pretty self-explanatory.

  • Year-at-a-glance
  • TBR (To-Be-Read)
  • Book Stats
  • Business Hours
  • Goals
  • Bills
  • Class schedules

Of course, I have monthly, weekly, and daily spreads going on. But these are the collections I included in my new bullet journal. A few more that I’d like to include are:

  • Japanese kana charts (for hiragana and katakana), since I’m casually learning the language.
  • An “ideal day” routine and schedule that I can aspire to on a daily basis.

Anyway, onto the pictures.

Bullet Journal: Page layout featuring small calendars for each month from September 2016 to September 2017.

Bullet Journal: Two pages for book reading, including a list of books to read, and book statistics.

Bullet Journal: Layout to track book genre, demographic, and rating; author's gender; and page count.

Bullet Journal: Partial view of a spread that lists local business locations and hours.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing various goals related to creative writing.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing various goals related to physical and mental health.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing various goals related to creating art.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing prices and payments for bills.

Bullet Journal: A chart showing class schedules.

I’m so glad I started a new bullet journal. I have the collections all near the front of the book, with a bit of extra space before I started my September spreads. I much prefer having them separate. In my old BuJo, I had some collections interspersed with my daily spreads and it broke my flow so much. I ended up neglecting those collections and trackers because they weren’t in a very accessible spot. Sure, I could have marked them off or put them in the index. But even now, if you can see it, I have an orange sticky note in my bullet journal, to mark where September begins—and I don’t use it. My first instinct is to flip through the book, and there’s no sense in fighting that.

Anyway, perhaps you found some inspiration here! Bonus points to you if you can tell which spread I messed up on.

Pinterest-ready image. Bullet Journal: Setup for my new notebook