Organize, Agitate, Educate: #2 “School/Work”

See post #1 here!

I’m taking an overload of regular classes, two online classes, and working two jobs.  For some reason, I’m often asked how I juggle it all!

I have made the decision to trust you [A horrible decision, really].  Come closer and I will reveal my secrets.

If you’re caught up in the series, you know already that I really love color-coordinated everything (and polka dots, but that’s another story!).

This holds true for my schoolwork!  Here you've got my English work, but we've also got History (grey), Latin (navy), Civil War Era Studies (orange), and Environmental Studies (purple).

This holds true for my schoolwork! Here you’ve got my English work, but we’ve also got History (grey), Latin (navy), Civil War Era Studies (orange), and Environmental Studies (purple).

As a Bookstore employee, I get a discount on all of my binders/folders/notebooks/etc., which proves to be amazing when it comes to my love of office supplies and my need to coordinate them all.

The same system transfers to my agenda!

The same system transfers to my agenda!

And these fun little flash card holders (and trust me, I go through A LOT of flash cards!).  Check out the wonderful label from my label maker!

And these fun little flash card holders (and trust me, I go through A LOT of flash cards!). Check out the wonderful label from my label maker!

I also use Reminders to organize my school work, along with my various to-do lists and the like.

The program even has the option to organize by due date--- perfect for assignments!

The program even has the option to organize by due date— perfect for assignments!

Though my lack of syllabi for this semester made it impossible, a Semester Spreadsheet, as inspired by Organized Charm, was indispensable last semester!

When it comes to non-school work, I use the same planner I featured in post #1.

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The bookstore is light blue, my job in town is orange (the most “spooky” of my many colors).

To incorporate my work and  social activities, I also use this wonderful dry erase calendar!

To incorporate my work and social activities, I also use this wonderful dry erase calendar!

To make everything extra special and coordinated, I've got some Sharpie highlighters!

To make everything extra special and coordinated, I’ve got some Sharpie highlighters!

So there you have it— there’s a method to my madness!

The Unfinished Work

I spent this afternoon and will spend most of tomorrow at a conference titled “‘The Unfinished Work….’ 24 Hours Dedicated to Fighting Modern Slavery.”

Photo via @GBCFTS on Twitter

Photo via @GBCFTS on Twitter

Full disclosure:  I’m only attending because of a class requirement.  I was not in any way excited to attend.  After spending the rest of the week nursing a sinus infection, the last thing I wanted to do was sit around with others and discuss modern slavery.  As a Civil War historian, I get plenty of time to talk about slavery from a historical perspective— far more than anyone could ever want.  Truth be told, as much as I love history, this aspect gets really depressing really quickly;  I’m perfectly capable of depressing myself without it, so the thought of spending my weekend surrounded by it was as far from appealing as possible.

But, I’d missed more class in the last few days than I had all year— I couldn’t miss this too.  So I bought myself a new notebook and pens for motivation, and headed into the first lecture.

My first surprise was the crowd:  the place was packed.  I’d feared being one of few attendees, honestly.  Yet, as I walked into the room, not a head was turned.  Dozens of activists from across the country milled around or sat in folding chairs, preparing to discuss this topic for which they share a passion.

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As the afternoon continued, I was certainly intrigued.  The panelists and attendees were the definition of “activists”…except for those like me, who were there entirely for class.  Holden Caulfield would have been pretty upset with me as I sat there, diligently taking notes…. I was a phony.

The speakers so far have been interesting, unquestionably. I have the utmost respect for the work these people are doing;  as a human being, I can’t help but care about their cause.

That being said, it’s not my cause.  Not that I shouldn’t take action, not that I wouldn’t if the opportunity presented itself, but simply because it’s impossible to advocate for literally everything.  As my extensive collection of Pura Vida bracelets reveals, I care about a lot of different causes.  Realistically, though, you can only throw yourself entirely, heart and soul, into a few.

For me, a lot of these are animal-based.  I volunteer with PETA and the local SPCA.  I’m a quiet advocate, signing petitions and making personal choices rather than throwing fake blood on people and protesting outside of a circus.  I’m a vegan, for crying out loud, primarily by moral choice.

I totally respect what these people do, but I can’t give my all to every cause that tugs at my heart.

I’ll go to these presentations, I’ll hear what they have to say.  I’ll take their suggestions to heart, and make the morally just choice when it’s available (though I try to do that in all of my choices).  I’ll do my small part, but I’ll still be nothing compared to these incredible people.

I like to think I’m incredible in my own way (don’t we all?), but I’ll stick to freeing Lolita for now.

Photo via @GBCFTS on Twitter

Photo via @GBCFTS on Twitter

For more information on the issues and organizations discussed at this conference, visit:

https://twitter.com/GBCFTS

http://theihti.org/

http://www.iom.int/cms/en/sites/iom/home.html

http://historiansagainstslavery.org/

“Just what makes that little old ant think he can move that rubber tree plant?” #TFT

“Next time you’re found with your chin on the ground, there’s a lot to be learned, so look around! Just what makes that little old ant think he’ll move that rubber tree plant? Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant, but he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes;  he’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes.  So any time you’re gettin’ low, ‘stead of lettin’ go, just remember that ant…. Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant….” -Frank Sinatra, High Hopes

This song, along with the wonderful Frank’s Greatest Hits, immediately brings to mind images of car rides with my grandparents.

When I was very young, my mom and I lived with her parents, and they and I have been unusually close ever since.

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Though they’ve both had a tremendous impact on me, this particular post is about my grandfather (Nan’ll get her own soon enough!).

Pop and I have plenty of memories. When I was little, he and I had a tradition of recording tapes (yes, on a little cassette recorder!) together.  Even today, “This is Pop-pop signing off!  This is Julia, signing off!”

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Pop and I after my high school’s production of “The Pajama Game.”

He & I share a love of books.

Post-book sale :)

Post-book sale 🙂

Possibly the most notable of his inspiration is my love of history;  I don’t know if I would have discovered my love of Gettysburg without him.

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From music to books to presidents, I owe plenty to Pop.

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Thank you, Pop, for everything!

#TFT

Throwback Thursday has been a trend for quite some time.  People love reminiscing with the “perfect” picture.

For example:

#ThrowbackThursday to this little kid!  #TBT

#ThrowbackThursday to this little kid! #TBT

Earlier today I asked myself, “Why not take advantage of this trend?”  And so, TFT was born.

For as long as it lasts, I’ll be posting #TFT posts here at TO&E.  A rather obvious play on Throwback Thursday, Thankful Thursday will give me a chance to highlight some of the awesome people in my life and to share them with you all!  Feel free to try it yourself— let’s spread the love!

Versatile Blogger Award: Take Two!

Soon after starting here at TO&E, I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award.  Yesterday, I was nominated by a variation of the award by the wonderful Little Miss Unsure!

The Rules:

1. Nominate 15 other bloggers relatively new to blogging [warning: “new” is a subjective term!]

I nominate….
Hessianwithteeth

GolNoran

Random Writings On The Bathroom Wall

I Do and Adieu!

Flowers and Wanderlust

Hogrider Dookes

Natalie’s Blog

truetheatrekid

The View From Duffy Square

Dinosaurs and Woodlice

Subdued Flamboyance

Abby Has Issues

Go Jules Go

A Little Place Of My Own

Laissez Faire

2. Let the bloggers know that you’ve nominated them

Will do once this has been posted!

3. Share 10 random facts about yourself

Here goes!

1.  I’ve been vegan for roughly a year now— I’m allergic to dairy as well as loving animals, so it’s not as difficult as people assume!  Vegan options tend to be just as good (if not better!) than the originals!
2.  I once performed at a festival (attended by 3,000 people!) on my ukulele and singing.

Photo compliments of the local newspaper, the Pottsville Republican & Herald

Photo compliments of the local newspaper, the Pottsville Republican & Herald

3.  I’m unquestionably addicted to iced tea, especially Dunkin’ Donuts’.
4.  I have a really hard time picking favourites of just about anything: songs, movies, musicals, books, people, colour…. It’s just far too difficult.
5.  I find cemeteries to be unbelievably calming somehow.

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6.  I take a plethora of photos of the campus Chapel.

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

7.  There’s one thing of which I can pick a favourite:  flowers.  White roses 🙂
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8.  I’m a football fan, believe it or not.  My teams are the Packers and the Broncos, and I love the Jets’ Eric Decker.
9.  Baseball’s another of my enjoyed sports.  The Phillies & Red Sox fill out that group!

10.  When I’m not watching Gilmore Girls, I love Adventure Time, The Tudors, Friends, Supernatural, MASH, Graceland, Pretty Little Liars, Ghost Hunters, and more, though I rarely get to see any of them regularly!

4. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog

Once more, thank you, Little Miss Unsure!

5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post

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Happiness is a warm puppy.

I’ve been missing my Cooper an awful lot lately.

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So, with today being a traditionally depressing Monday, I planned to make today’s post entirely puppies.  Conveniently enough, today is also National Puppy Day!  To celebrate, enjoy plenty of puppies!

Organize, Agitate, Educate: #1: “Life”

From my research, it seems like many wannabe-organizing junkies search for a secret to organizing their entire lives.  Posts and pins abound on the subject, but there’s no clear definition (that I’ve found) that describes just what “life” entails [yes, internet, what is the meaning of “life?”].

My dictionary says, “life, n. pl., lives.  quality of being alive; period during which things exist;  person’s history;  vitality;  prison sentence;  course of living

Hmm… “Prison sentence” is awfully accurate at times.

For now, though, we’ll still with “period during which things exist.”  And by “things,” we’ll focus primarily activities, commitments, etc., plus some basic “stuff” (great English here today, guys).  Without further ado, here are my strategies for organizing “life:”

My secret not-so-secret weapons:

I use file folders  (these come in packs of three with different designs, from Walmart!) to organize my miscellaneous non-school papers:  takeout menus, maps, brochures, official documents, and more!

I use file folders (these come in packs of three with different designs, from Wal-Mart!) to organize my miscellaneous non-school papers: takeout menus, maps, brochures, official documents, and more!

I’ve currently got eight main file folders:  Curriculum (course checklists, major booklets, etc.), Financial (mainly bank statements), Local (maps, brochures, and menus for off-campus [plus the bus schedule!]), Manuals (these things accumulate quickly!), College (non-curriculum college things), Receipts (for the big [usually online purchase-based] pages that won’t fit in the small organizer), Official (the actual important stuff), and Mementos (ticket stubs, programs, and the like).  I’ve got a few more folders hanging around for when the categories need to expand!

My binder is truly my best friend when it comes to organizing two jobs, a plethora of extracurriculars, and something that resembles a social life!

My planner is truly my best friend when it comes to organizing two jobs, a plethora of extracurriculars, and something that resembles a social life!

My life is crazy busy 99.9% of the time.  The only way I manage to manage that is by utilizing my planner to the fullest extent.

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On the monthly page, I utilize color-coded checkmarks, for example,  a light blue check for the date I changed the filter in my Brita pitcher.

On the monthly page, I use color-coded check marks, for example, a light blue check for the date I changed the filter in my Brita pitcher.

On the weekly pages, I fill in my activities, social events, and obligations- color-coded once more.  Obligatory (usually school-based) events are red, extracurriculars are primarily pink, purely social events are green, and so on.

On the weekly pages, I fill in my activities, social events, and obligations— color-coded once more. Obligatory (usually school-based) events are red, extracurriculars are primarily pink, purely social events are green, and so on.

I use sticky notes for everything and anything:  bookmarks, reminders, motivational quotes…. There is never not a need for sticky notes, preferably of fun shape or color.

A plethora of sticky notes is always helpful:  always.

A plethora of sticky notes is always helpful: always.

When I have a million little tasks to accomplish— not major enough to make it into the planner, but too much for a sticky note reminder, this notepad comes in.  Depending on what needs to be accomplished, I’ll sometimes use the “do it later” section as schoolwork and the “do it now” as misc. tasks (which may or may not contribute slightly to my procrastination).

This little notepad has been a lifesaver--- I get more anxious than usual when I can't write things down!  Get your own here!

This little notepad has been a lifesaver— I get more anxious than usual when I can’t write things down! Get your own here!

Birthdays and budgets and bargains, oh my!  My Life Binder is quite often my saving grace when it comes to sanity.  When is so-and-so’s birthday? Check the binder.  What day of the week is this date? Check the binder.  What do I need from the grocery store? Check the binder.

This is the inside cover of my amazing Life Binder.  This one truly deserves its own post (soon to come) to fully cover all it has to offer!

This is the inside cover of my amazing Life Binder. This one truly deserves its own post (soon to come) to fully cover all it has to offer!

As an incredibly anxious person, I like to cover all of my bases.  Is it likely that I’ll need a Dunkin’ Donuts receipt ever in the future?  Probably not.  But is it possible.  Sure.  For that reason, I keep my receipts in this fun little organizer, categorized into Banking (atm deposits and the like), Bookstore (I work in the on-campus bookstore and may or may not spend half of my paycheck in the process at times), Coffee (vital), Fast Food (a necessary evil at times (plus Dunkin’), and Shopping (groceries, clothes, books, and whatnot).

"Would you like your receipt?"  Why yes, yes I would.  From there, I will store it in the proper category within my lovely receipt organizer ($1 at Dollar Tree, then labelled)!

“Would you like your receipt?” Why yes, yes I would. From there, I will store it in the proper category within my lovely receipt organizer ($1 at Dollar Tree, then labelled)!

A few unpictured tools have also been deemed essential:

On the side of my micro-fridge, facing my desk, is an ornate dry-erase calendar (also color-coordinated).  Filling it out each month is almost therapeutic, and it allows me to quickly view my month at a glance!

As you can tell, I do a lot of color-coordination.  For this, my multi-colored pens, sticky tabs, and highlighters are crucial!

In addition, what I cannot stress enough is a need for paper clips.  They seem like a rather mundane office supply, but I absolutely adore them.  Pile of related papers? BAM, they’re conveniently combined with a pretty little clip (because, of course, mine are multi-colored, to fit in!).

So there you have it folks, my basic secrets to maintaining what my friends consider to be the world’s busiest schedule!

“Sing along with me, sing-sing along with me”

Buzzfeed posted this article today, discussing Meghan Trainor’s recent music video for “Dear Future Husband.”  This just so happens to be the accompaniment to my upcoming swing performance:  I’m awfully familiar with the song.

In the video, Trainor channels her inner fifties housewife, cleaning, baking, etc., complete with perfectly winged eyeliner.

Very Cinderella-esque.  "A dream is a wish your heart makes....."

Very Cinderella-esque. “A dream is a wish your heart makes…..”

According to Buzzfeed, people are outraged over the decision, quoting lyrics from the song in their anti-feminist depictions of it.

“Take me on a date/ I deserve it, babe/ And don’t forget the flowers every anniversary/ ‘Cause if you treat me right/ I’ll be the perfect wife/ Buying groceries/Buy-buying what you need

How dare she stereotype women as having to buy the groceries???

Whoops, I enjoy grocery shopping.  I’d be willing to buy my future husband’s groceries.  Too bad, it’s obviously sexist.  This song will obviously set the women’s rights movement back sixty-some years.

But WAIT.  Let’s check out the full song, shall we?

Like the very next verse:

“You got that 9 to 5/ But baby, so do I/ So don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies/ I never learned to cook/ But I can write a hook/ Sing along with me/ Sing-sing along with me”

So, basically, “don’t expect me to be a stereotypical housewife and do all of the cooking, because I have a job, too, and you’ll be disappointed.”  Hmm.

"Hey, I'm not gonna be an outdated expectation, k?"

“Hey, I’m not gonna be an outdated expectation, k?”

My personal favourite?  The last line of the song.

“Dear future husband, better love me right

Leaving listeners, like a conclusion in any writing, with the main idea.  “Dear guy I someday hope to marry, don’t treat me like crap.”  Sounds pretty twenty-first century to me.

If you ask me, we should focus our “very strong feelings” on real, actual problems.  Wage gap? Problem. World hunger? Problem.  Cancer? Problem.  Legitimate sexism/racism/geocentrism?  Problems.

Song lyrics out of context?  Not a problem.

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“Should have known right from the start you can’t predict the end….”

“They were young and independent, and they thought they had it planned;  should have known right from the start you can’t predict the end.” –Memories, Panic! at the Disco

(Seriously a great song that I 100% recommend you check out.  The whole album is pretty fantastic, really!)

It’s pretty much a fact that most people are unable to predict the future (If you’re psychic and want to volunteer your services, let me know because that’d be cool).  This causes lots and lots of anxiety over “what-if’s,” at least in my case.  But there’s a silver lining:  sometimes things turn out significantly better than you could ever have suspected!

I pretty much saw my life as a play-by-play when I was little.  I’d graduate high school, go to Penn State, go become a journalist, and live with a whole bunch of cats (and maybe some parakeets, if the cats were okay with it).

Then, exactly one year ago today, I got accepted to my dream school.

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Well, take a look at me now!

Now, this is far from everything that’s happened or everyone’s that’s influenced the last 365 days, but it’s a pretty great highlights reel.  I’m unbelievably thankful for everything I’ve experienced and the people I’ve experienced it with!

In this exact moment, you, dear reader, are a part of that.  I’m extremely grateful for this, and for you!

If you’d have asked me ten years ago “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d be where I am today (granted, I’ve still got some growing up to do!).  Nevertheless, I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s turned out!

My Life as an Adrian Monk

Some of this will probably sound arrogant, braggy;  it’s not meant to be.  Some of this will sound exaggerated;  it isn’t.

As I was growing up, my parents liked to joke that I was a thirty-year-old trapped in a child’s body.  They weren’t wrong.

I was the kid who wanted to do nothing more than read.  Greatschools.org lists some of the “best books for second-graders,” from Nim’s Island to Frog and Toad.  I remember walking into my second-grade classroom with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, much to my teacher’s surprise.  By the time I reached high school, I’d fallen in love with the classics.  Even now, I’m rather atypical:  how many nineteen-year-olds enthuse about Tolstoy?

In turn, I skipped out on some of the stepping-stones.  I wasn’t interested in riding a bike or learning to swim— now considered basic skills learned years ago.  I didn’t read the books or watch the shows aimed at my age level— now I can’t contribute to enthusiastic “do you remember ______?” with many of my peers.  I’m slowly catching up on some.  For example, it was only about two years ago when I first read The Velveteen Rabbit.  I still haven’t gotten around to learning to swim or to ride a bike.  All in due time, I suppose.

I’ve loved and still love animals far more than most people.  These were my closest friends growing up.

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Why?  Animals weren’t immature or confused by things I’d say.  They were sweet and cuddly;  this sentiment’s stuck with me over the years.

Aside from my pets, adults and older students became my favourite people to spend time with.  Even now, I’m amazed by the contacts I’ve kept from my hometown:  while my college friends go off to meet up with their high school companions, I’m meeting up with former teachers and friends who’ve long since left college for the real world.  I think this is why I’m shocked when I hear people explain that they haven’t talked to their parents in weeks.  I talk to my mom, my grandparents, or my dad several times a day:  I’ve always been closer to them psychologically than to those I went to school with.

Aren't we cute?

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Aren’t we cute?

My mom’s told me stories of comments I’d made from a very young age, words “wise beyond my years.”  My dad spent years prompting me to go outside and run around, “enjoy life.”  While other parents were coaxing their kids to come in and do their homework, mine worried I wasn’t enjoying my childhood.

I distinctly remember certain moments of this “maturity,” as others have termed it— I prefer the terms “empathy” or “sentiment, “in most cases.  I remember not wanting to get out of bed after Mom had tucked me in— she’d taken the time and effort to cover me up, slide Zoboomafoo under the blankets, I couldn’t bear ruining it.

Nowadays, he's still hanging around!

Nowadays, he’s still hanging around!

I remember my peers coloring on their notebooks and folders, scribbling mindlessly on their books.  I remember being appalled that they could ruin what their parents or whoever had gotten for them.

I remember reading poetry, Shakespeare, and understanding it on an almost instinctual level.  This “instinct” can be troublesome, especially in school.  Take Latin, for example.  As we translate a passage, we analyze the tense, form, etc. for each word before attempting a full translation.  My problem in doing so is that I look at the words and, assuming I’m familiar with the vocabulary, I understand.

The same happens in my history courses, in most courses, really.  I understand something too easily, then struggle to get my thoughts on the same level as my classmates, where the professor is teaching.

In turn for personal maturity and humanities-based talents, I’m relatively hopeless in STEM classes, so there’s a balance.  I don’t claim any “special” status for understanding things, I don’t pretend to know everything.

At the same time, I recognize it as, as Adrian Monk would say….

I didn’t miss out on childhood, I’ve never had a lonely, miserable life.  I’ve been perfectly happy amid big books and Murder, She Wrote.  I didn’t spend high school swooning over boys and drinking in the woods, I studied and got involved, and enjoyed myself.  Even so, I’m not perfect— I’m different.  Society doesn’t like different, whatever claims of diversity they assert.  I don’t feel the need to fit in, but the alternative becomes a roadblock.

Buzzfeed and its comrades like to write articles about “Introverts” and their wanting to stay inside and be anti-social.  It’s a cause that’s recently been championed, recognizing that it’s okay to not always be the stereotypical extrovert.  But no one fits these molds perfectly.  Sure, I self-identify as an introvert most of the time.  Yet my friends can testify that I won’t shut up when I don’t want to. I’m content with silence, but I still like to talk. I’m fine with performing in front of thousands, but I panic at the thought of a phone call.  I love books and have anxiety that can sometimes be utterly crippling, but I also love to meet new people, travel the world and experience things that are just outside of my preconceived comfort zone, like dance classes quickly became (read more about that experience here!).

I see things logically, but with empathy.  I feel other people’s emotions and adjust my own in response.  I understand concepts, but can’t tell you why.  I know the answer, the definition, but I can’t describe it adequately.

It’s a gift, and a curse.