Monday, October 31, 2011

post 31 october

I have some bad habits.

I don’t mean to say that I’m the only one, or that my habits are worse than your habits.

I’ve been looking forward to November since, well, slightly after last November. November, as many of us know, is Nanowrimo—National Novel Writing Month, a fabulous writing-motivating opportunity/ challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. You can read more about it—and sign up!—at, but for now, I’ll just say that I’ve done it for four years, and I’ve finished each year. This year, I’m doing it again.

Nanowrimo is a great chance to be completely self-indulgent and offer myself oodles of time to enjoy my favorite hobby: creative writing. I realize that I need to do other things, too, of course. Over the past four Novembers/ Nanowrimos, I’ve taught full-time, planned and carried out two National Honor Society induction ceremonies and two Thanksgiving Dinner Drives, spent a week in Yemen, gone through Peace Corps training, and lived and worked in Ukraine. Easy-peasy.

Still, November also signals the official slide into winter. The colder weather, the holidays, and the general business offer the perfect opportunities to slack off in other areas. I stop working out as much. I treat myself with snacks, sweets, extra sleep, or other bonuses just because “I’ve been working so hard” or “It’s really miserable weather” or “I miss everyone” or other totally valid excuses.

I am also terrible at keeping up with real news. Yes, I read email, Facebook, VKontakte, but I’m missing those NPR-fueled commutes and drives around town. Excuses? I have no time. I don’t understand the situation/ story/ conflict/ whatever fully. I don’t have a TV or radio. Excuses.

Still, excuses they are, so I’m embarking on two challenges this month: NANOWRIMO and NEWVEMBER!

In addition to working toward the 50,000-word goal for Nanowrimo (that’s only 1,667 words per day, friend!), I am pledging to make a new effort in maintaining healthy and useful habits.

Each day, I will make a conscious effort to do one healthy activity for at least 30 minutes, in addition to regular morning yoga. This could be running, a cardio DVD, or even Bollywood dance. Also, each time I turn on my computer, I will read the news on my new iGoogle page and listen to the NPR hourly news. Plus, I will avoid all “treats” that aren’t really treats—food and laziness offered as comfort in place of actual encouragement.

So, now you know!

In other news…

made out of salo, Euro 2012 fever, and a lot of... eww

- - This year’s most unintentionally scary Halloween weekend activity was the annual Lutsk salo festival. Yes, that’s right, salo is pig fat, a popular Ukrainian dish/ delicacy/ garnish, and this festival was, well, not for me.

- - I always forget how good beets are here. That’s all on that.

- - Here’s the next big thing I’m working on: A Day in the Life of Ukraine! On December 13, 2011, everyone living in Ukraine is invited to write about his or her day. These stories will be submitted, and the best and most interesting pieces will be compiled in an online and hopefully print format. The goal is to encourage greater understanding of Ukraine and Ukrainians, both among Ukrainians and abroad. Ukraine is a diverse country with many types of division, and the hope is that sharing stories will help people see each other as individuals and not labels. Sound good? If you want to get involved, or if you’re in Ukraine, and you want to write, let me know! Check out the soon-to-be-more-developed site:

Happy almost-November!


Friday, October 21, 2011

post 21 october

Okay, now I’m really getting caught up. To the minute. More or less.

September 4: Vika gets married! Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Yushak!

September 10: Birthday challenge shenanza! A film-, secondhand-, and vareneky-making-challenge!

September 11: Birthday! Mine!

September 12: Happy fifth birthday, Window on America Center in Lutsk! Hooray, libraries! And America!

September 14: finished translation editing for university album

September 17: Window on America Conference in Lviv

September 18: ran in—and finished!—10K race in Kyiv, starting and ending in Independence Square

September 19: passed dental and physical exams, and therefore cleared for extension of service!

September 23: first Writing Beyond Reality seminar—for teachers—in Mykolaiv

September 27: organized an Activities Fair at the university to connect students and community organizations

September 29-Oct 1: visit to Kryvyi Rih, including seminars for students and teachers and celebrations of Teachers’ Day with students from this summer’s InterCamp in Crimea

October 5-7: US Interagency Conference on English Language Learning in Kyiv

October 8-9: second Writing Beyond Reality seminar—for teachers and students—in Mykolaiv

October 15-16: The Difference-Makers Project retreat, an opportunity for VNU students to develop their own community projects, practice English, grow as leaders, and have fun

October 21: abruptly decided to update blog in the most efficient way possible, bypassing nearly everything and hoping for questions