“100 Things To Do Instead of Procrastinating on the Internet” Challenge Accepted! (1/100)

Gala Darling just posted this lovely list of “100 Things To Do Instead of Procrastinating on the Internet.” Because I like lists, checking off lists, and the exciting things that she suggests about life in general, I am taking on the challenge. I haven’t read all the way through, but that will be part of the fun. I will try to do the tasks in order, but might delay some depending on location, etc.

Today I have sort of done the first task:

1. Go through your entire closet & cull what isn’t working for you. This includes anything that is the wrong colour, shape or size. It also includes anything that you TRULY KNOW you will never wear. Throw them in a suitcase & trundle it to your nearest consignment boutique. I just did this on Tuesday, & I cannot tell you how peaceful it felt!

The truth is, because of my minimalism, I am constantly doing this, so it didn’t take long. I did put a few wearing out items in my charity pile, though, and set aside some that I won’t be wearing for the rest of the summer to pack away.

The finished product (everything except a drawer with some running/climbing clothes, and three more pairs of shoes in the back of the closet):


A great benefit of paring down a bit is that I no longer rely on the extra wire hangers that were in my closet when I arrived. I would like to replace the hangers with extra pink plastic ones from my closet at home, but that will have to wait until Michaelmas.



Why, Hello There!

Oh hi. It’s been a while, huh? Let’s catch up. But quickly. How bout some bullet points?

First of all, reflections on some recent posts:

  • Oscar Predictions 2012: I was really pleased with how the Oscars ended up. Given the limitations of the nominations, I think the awards were distributed to those who deserved them most (with the exception of George Clooney, perhaps). I get very involved with the whole predictions/support process here, and I fear that it drives me into negativity. Just because I loved Meryl Streep’s performance doesn’t mean I should be anti-Viola Davis leading up to the night. But as much as I know I shouldn’t be, a part of me is. I’m inspired by Woody Allen’s view on the matter and wish I were that cool: “The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t”.
  • Challenge: Sugar-Free Seventh Week: Success! It was actually easier to abstain than to restrict. Every time I passed a pastry shop, I felt free because I wouldn’t even have to talk myself out of going in since I had no choice. It was that easy. I felt energized and controlled. Fruit became more of a treat. But okay, I did make an exception, I must confess – My favorite ice cream flavor was available at G&D’s that week, and it only shows up every few months for about a week. Wasn’t going to pass that up. As for today, I still eat more sugar than I should, but I’m working on cutting down.

And some reflections on life in general, since it’s the beginning of term and all:

  • I like living in Oxford a lot. I like being able to transport myself by foot and by cycle. I like that I am surrounded by friends with whom I can share my time. I like food shopping and cooking. I like being able to go climbing whenever I want. I like college. Exeter is totally the best.
  • Yesterday I tried my first class at YogaVenue, the first in a 14 day consecutive trial pass. 90 minutes of Vinyasa. I was completely challenged and completely drenched in sweat. Today I woke up more sore than I’ve been in who knows when, and while it was a bit difficult to function, I also love the feeling because it means I’m getting stronger, and I love that whole growth aspect of yoga. I was hooked when in my first class ever the instructor explained, “Yoga is about finding your limits and extending them.” Also, I forgot how addictive exercise can be. It’s awesome.
  • The days are SO LONG here because they are filled with stuff. Inspired by Tiger Cub Sophia‘s day-in-the-life series this week, I’ve started to keep my own private log of how I spend the hours of my day. Kind of fascinating stuff.
  • Got a new computer. An 11″ MacBook Air I’ve named Matilda. She is adorable and so minimalist. I haven’t had the chance to register her with the college yet though, so for the past week I’ve had no internet in my room. The result: Less time wasted browsing mindlessly and no useless TV-watching sessions. I do miss my YouTube mornings though.

That’s all for now. Fluffiness (and edginess) to come. In outfit form. You’ll see.

Oscar Predictions 2012!

The 84th Academy Awards are tonight. Or, in the UK, at 1:30am. After finally seeing all nine of the Best Picture nominees and many of the other films represented in other categories, I now present my predictions and commentary!

In order that they will be announced tonight:


★ Emmanuel Lubezki, Tree of Life

Bob Richardson, Hugo

Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist

Janusz Kaminski, War Horse

I think this is a sure win for ‘Tree of Life,’ although all are strong worthy options here (except ‘War Horse’). ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ should have made the cut though.

Art Direction

★ Hugo

The Artist

War Horse

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Midnight in Paris

My favorite category! ‘Hugo’ deserve to win, and all deserve to be nominated, except maybe ‘Harry Potter.’ This is the one category for which ‘War Horse’ deserved recognition.

Costume Design


★ The Artist


Jane Eyre


I don’t see a clear winner here, so why not give another award to ‘The Artist.’ That said, it could easily go to any of them, and for some reason I keep thinking it will be ‘Jane Eyre.’ Maybe because that film isn’t really recognized anywhere else and it’s the kind of thing that could snag Costumes.

Best Makeup

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

★ The Iron Lady

Albert Nobbs

Wouldn’t it be funny if this were the only Oscar Harry Potter ever won? But no. It has to be ‘The Iron Lady’ here – it should be recognized if Meryl Streep isn’t. More on that in a bit. By why no ‘J Edgar’ nomination?

Foreign Language Film

★ A Separation (Iran)

In Darkness (Poland)

Footnote (Israel)

Bullhead (Belgium)

Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)

I haven’t been able to see any of these, but ‘A Separation’ looks like a no brainer. It’s too bad that ‘La Piel Que Habito’ (‘The Skin I Live in’) from Spain and ‘Shi’ (‘Poetry’) from South Korea were not entered for consideration (not sure if ‘Shi’ would have qualified for 2011 instead of 2012 though).

Supporting Actress

★ Octavia Spencer, The Help

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Another no brainer category: definitely Octavia Spencer. Her performance was one of my favorites of the year overall, so I will be very happy to see her win. Jessica Chastain was also brilliant in ‘The Help,’ but I think her nomination should have been for ‘Tree of Life.’ Perhaps because ‘The Help’ was driven by so many strong female performances hers didn’t stand out as much as when she was the representation of women in ‘Tree of Life.’ I’m glad Melissa McCarthy got a nod here, and kind of glad that Shailene Woodley did not.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


★ The Artist


The Descendants

I really want this to go to ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ but Best Picture and Editing usually go hand in hand. It would be my second favorite award to Art Direction, but it’s always so predictable. That said, I’m happy ‘The Social Network’ was able to grab it last year – while ‘Dragon Tattoo’ was brilliant, it wasn’t nearly as brilliant as last year’s Fincher.

Sound Editing

★ Hugo


War Horse

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo


Can ‘Drive’ win something please? I do not understand the Sound categories at all and don’t know if I ever will. I loved the ‘Drive’ score, but it didn’t have enough original material to qualify for the Score category. So…sound? :) But no, I’m going to be safe and put ‘Hugo’ for both categories, hoping against a ‘War Horse’ upset.

Sound Mixing

★ Hugo


War Horse

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


*apparently after the Sound category presentations we are rewarded with a Cirque du Soleil performance!*

Documentary Feature

★ Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory


Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front


Haven’t seen any of these, but I just read Paradise Lost so maybe that’s why it’s sticking out to me…

Animated Feature

★ Rango

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

Chico & Rita

A Cat in Paris

My second least favorite category. I’m particularly bitter this year since they shut out ‘Tintin’ which had the best animation I’ve ever seen. To be fair, of the nominees I’ve only seen ‘Rango.’ The story is weak, but the concept is promising, as are the voice actors. And Roger Deakins. I’ll think of it as a belated ‘True Grit’ cinematography award.

Visual Effects

★ Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Real Steel


The visual effects were all ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ had going for it. And James Franco, but that was wasted on bad writing. Anyway, the visual effects were great, Andy Serkis was great – they get my vote.

Supporting Actor

★ Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Christopher Plummer please! Another of my favorite performances of the year. ‘Beginners’ was such an overlooked film (as was its canine star, although he was nominated for a Golden Collar!). So glad Jonah Hill got an unexpected nod.


★ Ludovic Bource, The Artist

John Williams, War Horse

Howard Shore, Hugo

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The Adventures of Tintin

There weren’t any standout scores for me this year, so I’m happy with whatever. I’m quite happy with the nominees actually – while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross did a good job with ‘Dragon Tattoo’ it was no where near ‘Social Network’ so it’s okay that they weren’t nominated again. ‘The Artist’ relies on the score for the entire film, so yes, this makes sense.


★ Man of Muppet, Muppets

Real in Rio, Rio

Seriously? Why is this even a category? I liked ‘Rio’ a lot (no animated film nomination though? I guess I can’t really judge having only seen one of the films), but haven’t really taken the time to analyze either song. Nor will I be taking it.

Adapted Screenplay

★ Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash,The Descendants

John Logan, Hugo

Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Stan Chervin, Moneyball

George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March

Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughn, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

This is where ‘The Descendents’ will get their recognition. But they shouldn’t. It was at least better than the confused jumble that was ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,’ but not as cleverly woven together as ‘Hugo’ or as sharp and compelling as ‘Moneyball’ (still haven’t seen ‘Ides of March.’ I’m sorry, Ryan.).

Original Screenplay

★ Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids

Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

JC Chandor, Margin Call

Yes Woody Allen! My favorite film of the year deserves something and this is where it will get it. My glee for ‘Midnight in Paris’ shall outshine my fury that ‘Bridesmaids’ is on the list. Unoriginal and un-fun. I hear that ‘A Separation’ deserves to win, but I still haven’t seen it.

Live Action Short

Tuba Atlantic

★ The Shore



Time Freak

I’m not going to pretend to know anything about this category. At all.

Animated Short

★ The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

La Luna


A Morning Stroll

Wild Life

Again, um, yeah. People seem to like ‘Flying Books.’ Okay, that then.


★ Michel Hanazavicius, The Artist

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Alexander Payne,The Descendants

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Terrence Malick, Tree of Life

Best Picture/Best Director rule. Easy.


★ Jean Dujardin, The Artist

George Clooney,The Descendants

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Demián Bichir, A Better Life

Clooney and Pitt deserve it more than Dujardin, but they will cancel each other out (Pity. Clooney should win.). Oldman and Bichir should just be happy to be nominated. It was an ‘aw’ moment to see them recognized. Still bitter about Uggie not qualifying though.


★ Viola Davis, The Help

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Glen Close, Albert Nobbs

This should be Meryl Streep’s year,but alas, it is Davis’s. She was great. But the character she played was not nearly as demanding as Streep’s. That’s always the tough thing about these acting categories. Best performance of the year was Tilda Swinton, but that was never going to be Oscar appropriate. My favorite moment of the awards season was hearing Rooney Mara’s name announced for her nomination – so unexpectedly wonderful.


Midnight in Paris

★ The Artist



The Help

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Descendants

Tree of Life

War Horse

There is no question. ‘The Artist’ will win. And it should win. I’ve listed the films above in the order that I liked them. Of this list, I think that there should have been only five nominated, cutting off at ‘The Help.’ Kind of a dull year, but still some good films recognized. The theme of the year seems to be nostalgia – cinematic and artistic. The second, less interesting but still powerful, theme is persistence. Those two themes cover all of the films nominated for Best Picture. Except maybe ‘Tree of Life.’ I still just don’t get it.

Happy Oscar night, everyone!

That New Year Post

January First. It’s so tempting to declare today a new start, something significant, an obvious reason to make goals and checklists and SPREADSHEETS and for someone who looks for ANY reason to make a new spreadsheet.

There are a couple of reasons to treat this day like any other. One is to avoid disappointment of failing to keep up with resolutions. Another reason is that well, it IS just a day like any other. We place significance on new years, months, birthdays…we have probably all delayed starting a task until the clock read a nice round on-the-hour time. We feel as if we have to have an official start.

But we can start over at any time.

And more effectively: we can make small changes at any time.

Why suddenly declare to eat completely healthily, for example, when it’s probably more of a realistic and less painful challenge to cut back a little bit at a time?

I’m not arguing against resolutions per se. Just advising against the pressure to make grand overambitious ones just because the calendar told you to. No need to wait for a pretty-sounding day to start forming a new habit, and no need to glorify this day over any other.

And January 1st? It’s a weird mark in pretty much everyone’s year. It makes more sense for me to divide time into terms in Oxford and vacations at home, meaning SIX “new years” per year! Those are more legitimate starts and finishes for me, so it makes sense to evaluate and take action during those times.

I do have to give credit to this day – January First – for the unity it inspires. It’s the one day each year in which the most minds are whirring with reflection, privately or through their first blog posts in a week or so. It is the day that everyone around the world shares.

(Except maybe China.)

(Nope, just googled it. They were celebrating last night.)

(So they get TWO new yearses!)

hey guess what i’m home and GOAL-LESS (sort of)

Thank you, little Delta screen, for illustrating my journey so blurrily!

I actually love my 7-8 hour flight home because it gives me time to reflect, plan, and watch free movies. I made a list of goals, and am currently in the process of destroying that list.

Wait what? Yes. Destroying my to do list. As satisfying as it is to check things off every day, without that pleasure, I find value and joy in the things themselves. It wasn’t a goal to wake up before six every morning (thanks, England time), but I do, and I love it, so I have continued.

Turning some goals into habits is easier than others. I do my Rosetta Stone as early as possible in the morning because I know I’ll keep putting it off otherwise, but when I do actually do it I feel accomplished. Coursework is harder to incorporate because it’s unpredictable and time-consuming.

My little secret to somewhat success: identify pit-falling habits and avoid them. Watching TV. Playing the Sims. Eating sugar. These seemingly harmless activities spiral into a time-sucking energy-draining loop. In some cases it’s easier to not start than to stop.

Off to my early morning of productivity. Cheerio! (I need to stop saying “cheers” in this country…)


term flies when you’re having fun

Michaelmas 2011 is over. Officially over today. That was eight weeks. Nine, if you count the scramble of 0th week in which I revised for collections and all my friends came back to town.

It was a weird combination of familiarity and adjustment – without last year’s madness of rushing between activities and trying to make friends I had more time to focus and enjoy the things I figured out by the end of last year. Instead of counting the days before I would be able to stop writing essays and running to and from the library, I saw them slipping away, wishing I had more to see plays and drink more tea and spend more time with people.

Moving to Iffley Road from the center of town stretched time, as I’ve had to account for travel a lot more. I’ve come to enjoy it, but that certainly took time. And while I enjoy spending time with people, doing so disrupts my summery schedule of being in bed by eleven, leaving time for evening yoga and reading.

And blogging. Daily blogging was one of the most enjoyable parts of my summer, but I simply didn’t have the time to schedule in a meaningful post each day during term. Perhaps now that my time is more my own – very soon I will no longer be in walking distance of my best friends and an ocean away from many of them – I will rebuild the habit.

I did document some of the highlights of the term here on this fluffy plus edgy thing. Although I was ill for a lot of the term (a cold that was almost gone every time I went climbing at the weekend that uh, returned…), I did develop a strategy to combat colds. I went climbing a lot and it was fun and pretty. I spent an entire week celebrating Halloween, and sewed a costume to emulate one of my favorite characters ever on the day itself (KIKI!). I invested an entire pound on fairy lights for my room that never fail to make me happy. After a year of obsessing over Kazbar, the gang may have relocated to Atomic Burger. They have a sticker book after all, and we all know that I can’t resist a checklist.

But here’s the stuff that I left out.

I baked at least once a week and even made a coupla fancy cakes. Baking is one of my favorite things to do so I’m pleased that I made myself make time for it each week. And that I had funky people to bake for:

We went to the Turf and had marshmallows (woohoo!).

I finally took my Sorting Hat quiz and was placed in my rightful home (possibly the highlight of the term. Year. Life.):

I acquired a t-shirt and a sticker in the most painful way I ever have. By beating/eating Godzilla.

Sister came to visit for the weekend and we went to Bath and London and that was cool.

And yesterday was CarKaXandramas:


And now? Now it’s almost time to go home and celebrate Christmas, with an airplane journey in between in which to plan what I can realistically accomplish over the vacation :) Happy advent!

Losing the Onsight… OF LIFE.

In climbing, when you lead a route without any rests or falls the first time you try it, you earn the glorious achievement of having “onsighted” the route. You do this by preparing beforehand: getting generally more physically fit, practicing climbing, building up technique, and studying the route before getting off the ground.

Once you start to care about onsights, it can be a bit of an obsession. You don’t climb routes you know you’re not ready for because you want to save it for when you can do the onsight. You don’t watch people climb routes you haven’t onsighted because you don’t want to learn the “beta,” because if you copy what someone else has figured it it’s cheating.

And perhaps most frustratingly of all, if you start a route preparing to onsight it and take a fall, you lose motivation and momentum you built up and have trouble continuing.

This sort of happened to me on Tuesday, when my goal was to climb a 6b clean – it was more of a personal goal than something that would actually matter as a statistic, because it’s different indoors and doesn’t carry the same weight as a route on real rock. I was fine until I got to the Big Scary Overhang, felt my fingers sweat and my arms go all wobbly and called “Take!” for a rest. Once I called take that first time, hope of completing my goal of doing the route clean was lost. So I climbed up a little bit more and called take again. I could have probably finished the route with one take, but I had lost the chance at completing my goal, so to a certain extent, I gave up.

My mornings are usually solid: I get up at seven and have a structured plan to ease myself into my day in time for a lecture in town at ten. Having nothing on my calendar until eight this evening – which never ever happens, by the way – I slept in until nine. When I woke up I didn’t follow my usual routine. I did get some tasks done, but didn’t feel like doing work, so instead watched “Gossip Girl.” While for the most part my day hasn’t been too unproductive, it doesn’t feel like it’s going perfectly, and it’s that point in the afternoon in which I want to prioritize relaxation so that I can get a good start for tomorrow.
Then I figured out the problem:

I blew the onsight of today, and have therefore stopped giving it my all.

What is this obsession with perfection, start to finish? Why do I only feel accomplished when I get it right from the start? Well, when I do something right I gain emotional momentum, certainly, but it isn’t nearly as influential as the negative emotions of not gaining that momentum.

Every moment should be given the priority and significance of a new beginning – why wait for the new year, the next month, day, hour-on-the-hour to start fresh? For some reason it’s hard to start something new without the commanding strike of midnight, the freshness of a clean notebook on the first day of school. Make that start now. Not the next time the clock lands on an even number or the next time you wake up. Even though I’ve lost today’s onsight, I’m still climbing.

I Love Long Journeys

When I’m at home in America, cars are annoying required for pretty much any outing from my house, from grocery store shopping to seeing fabulous theatre productions. These ten to forty minute car journeys eat up time in my day and aren’t too enjoyable.

But when I live in Oxford, I can get nearly everywhere by foot or bike, so when I do take a long train or bus or car ride, it is long. These journeys, the ones over an hour and a half, are thrilling. For one, I feel doubly productive if I do work on them, since it feels like working when it’s not required. It feels as if nothing is required, in fact – allowing a sense of timeless carefree existence to chat with fellow travelers or zone out and spend quality time with my ipod.

During these journeys I feel productive by doing the minimal amount of productive activity. It’s bonus time, extra credit time – time to relax and enjoy the ride.