Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A messy desk is the sign of...

I’m one of those people who tends to function perfectly well with a desk that looks like the aftermath of some kind of paperwork Vesuvius. In the past, I have astounded some of my more tidy-natured colleagues with my ability to successfully direct someone to where an item is amongst the debacles that is my desk; to lay my hands directly on a requested piece of paperwork from weeks ago; or by the fact that I can “ever get anything done in that mess”.

Of course, functional chaos is functional only up to a point where it becomes, quite simply, chaos. The tipping point for my desk occurred towards the end of last year but despite being aware that “we have a problem”, I put it off until the Xmas/New Year period. I took stock over New Years (isn’t that what it’s for?) and I embarked on a desk-cleaning rampage.

The exercise (and I mean that in the sense of ‘military exercise’) lasted for a number of days and both sides sustained substantial losses. The process required purchases of shelves, folders, bulldog clips, and other items of stationery not directly related to the task but surely a tidy desk requires new pens, pencils, notebooks… (But my stationery obsession is another post entirely!)

Despite my best efforts, there remains a small (but growing) pile of notepads, print outs, envelopes and folders that have resisted my tidying-attack. These are the rebel fighters of my desk who will undermine any real and lasting change in levels of organisation. And like any good dictator, I will ignore them until their rowdy little riots push their stronghold into the workable space of my desk and I have to lead a charge to crush them once again.

This truly seems to be the story of my desk’s life.
Is there any way out? Any tips for getting organised and making it stick would be very much appreciated.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Long time, no news. (Sorry.)

Well, that was a bit of a ‘down’ way to leave this blog and there’s been quite a hiatus. I'm going to try to blame the insanity of Xmas and hope that you don’t notice that I haven’t made an entry since the 6th of November… It’s a new year, new leaf and all that guff. I’ll try to be better.

So, to catch you up with the major events since I last wrote:

My writing is improving. That’s not to say that what I’m producing is necessarily better but just that it has gone from excruciating to uncomfortable to bearable to enjoyable and finally has become downright fun. And within that process, I think I’ve pretty much finished the first drafts of one of the collections of stories. I started in a relative comfort zone of my own cultural heritage, predominantly English, and their food & immigration stories. Now I’m making a big jump in time & familiarity to work on stories based on Somali food and experiences. So, it’s back to reading and researching for me.

The AAWP (Australasian Association of Writing Programs) annual conference held at Deakin’s Waterfront Campus in November, 2012, was my first academic conference. I went as a spectator only but was still incredibly anxious about it all. To my delight, everyone was friendly and welcoming—there was less name-tag-checking of a person’s status before striking up conversation than I expected. But there was a fair amount of academic posturing & ‘theory dropping’. There were too many interesting sessions to choose from but one of the best was one I went to ‘just because’. The others I tried to choose with my project in mind and I was able to meet others writing, researching and teaching about food and culture.

My last piece of news is my most exciting but I’m not sure that the excitement isn’t, in fact, at least 90% terror…
With the ever-ready encouragement and support of Amazing Supervisor, I applied to present a paper at the Third International Food Studies Conference to be held at the University of Texas in Austin and they have accepted my proposal! So, in October this year I’ll be off to the Lone Star State to present my findings so far to my peers and betters. If I bit my nails, I’d already have none left!

Maybe I should go & get Friday Night Lights on DVD... as research, of course.