Mish-mash/Round-up: Holiday edition

photo-105I don’t think I’ll be blogging much over the next 10 days. The kids are off school, and we’ll be going to New York, having some family over, and skiing. So here’s a round-up of a few things on my mind:

I want to start holiday shopping through the year. I don’t particularly like shopping, though I like finding good gifts for people. The problem is that in trying to find good gifts in the 3 weeks before Christmas, I feel rushed. I feel like I’m buying too much at Amazon (not that Amazon Prime isn’t one of the wonders of the world). Sometimes I get stuff because I need to get stuff, not because it’s great. So…add this to the resolutions for next year. I intend to hit December with many major items purchased, particularly for adults. Kids change their minds a lot, so that’s a different matter.

I am going to continue to try to eat more veggies in 2014. I’ve been roasting carrots for a mid-morning snack. Cooked with olive oil and salt, they’ve got a sweet and salty taste to them that sort of hits the same taste pleasure centers as chocolate covered pretzels. Sort of.

I visited Boys Latin charter school in Philly this week (I wrote about Mastery Shoemaker earlier). The photo that accompanies this post is from outside the school. The smashed television on the sidewalk by the vacant lot kind of sums up the neighborhood. It’s a bleak part of west Philly, but oh, the fun inside! It’s wonderful to see happy kids having their brains challenged. I sat through an AP English class on Macbeth and remembered that I need to re-read Shakespeare’s plays. Perhaps another resolution for 2014?

Over at Fast Company, I’m writing about The Case For And Against Checking Your Email When You Wake Up. Do you check email first thing? I often do before the start of the work day, primarily so I can hit my 8 a.m. start time ready to go.

I’m also writing about money: Getting a Holiday Bonus? Here’s How to Actually Buy Happiness. I got to speak with Cassie Mogilner and Manisha Thakor for this piece. Sometimes I write pieces just because I really want to interview certain people!

I’m working on a piece on giving a speech without PowerPoint, so if you have a favorite expert on public speaking, I’d welcome recommendations of sources.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week re-reading parts of my novel. I’m getting quite a bit happier with it. The more I work on it, the more problems I feel I’m solving. This is reminding me that I really do want to make fiction writing a bigger component of my professional life next year. As I’m looking over my receipts for 2013, I’m realizing that I’ll have probably my best year, earnings-wise, in a while, and yet I spent probably a third of my time on this project that has generated no revenue whatsoever. That’s giving me the nudge to think I can do it. I’m enjoying reading my beta-readers’ comments! Special shout-out to Elizabeth Lund, herself a novelist, who hashed out many ideas in a generous 40-minute phone call.

Our fish had babies. The kids spotted an actual baby fish swimming around the tank. Here’s hoping nothing eats it.

I may publish things here and there over the next two weeks, but if not, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


9 thoughts on “Mish-mash/Round-up: Holiday edition

  1. I have worked in higher education for most of my career. Great professors do not need any material to engage their audience and can shift their narrative to reach diverse audiences, from students to parents to alumni to development staff who have to represent their work on the road. I don’t think all professors are natural presenters. I think there is something going on with mastery of material, the frequency of telling their “story,” be it molecular biology or Civil War history, and their passion for the subject.

  2. Laura, coincidentally, I’m making a resolution to read/discuss 6 Shakespeare plays in 2014, and I blogged recently about looking for reading partners. Click over to my website and let me know if you (or any of your readers) are interested!

  3. I love the idea of shopping early, but it’s tricky for adults even, because it’s hard to know far in advance what people might buy for themselves, or receive as a gift for a birthday or other occasion. I love Amazon prime too, though! You might want to separate the baby fish– I still remember the trauma of my guppies eating their babies as a kid 🙁 Congratulations on a productive year, and best wishes for the holidays and 2014!

  4. Hi, Laura. I’ve found that Evernote is a great tool for helping me tackle my holiday shopping throughout the year. Whenever my wife or son mention something they might like, I save it to Evernote under a tag called “wishlist.” I can either buy it next time I’m online shopping or at the store, or review the wishlist tag closer to the holidays. Either way, it saves me a lot of time and effort. Good luck with your resolutions!

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