Friday, March 12, 2010

The List: 5 Things to Get This Slimy Jellyfish Off My Head

{image by Zhou Fan}

Folks, I'm in a hardcore rut {otherwise known as a funk} right now. I think this dilemma is fairly normal for people who read and write for a living. Does this ever happen to you? I start feeling guilty for not reading or writing the "right" things {i.e. for my dissertation}, so I just stop doing anything -- I feel guilty for not doing what I'm supposed to do, so I just stop doing all the things I like. What a bad idea! It's a bit like having a big jellyfish sitting atop your head and sucking all of the motivation out. Slurp! I think I need to change up my routine and try some new things for inspiration. One cannot go around bound by a sea creature. Here are a few rut-fighting activities I'm going to try:

1. Costume movie night! After watching the Oscar's, I decided I needed to see every film nominated in the costume category. I am going to try and watch all of them over the next several weeks...and maybe write some reviews here? The nominees are: The Young Victoria, Coco avant Chanel, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Bright Star, Nine...and I'll add A Single Man for good measure.

2. Eat at a new restaurant. There is a new Indian restaurant {Kolam} here I've been meaning to try.

3. Go on a hike. If you know me, this might sound a little...out-of-character. But, seriously the weather is so lovely, and I'm just dying to wander through the woods. OK, so maybe it will be less of a hike and more of a stroll.

4. Go to free yoga. The Yoga Room here in Tulsa has free yoga every Monday. Ask me why haven't gone. I have no idea!

5. Write my F*cking dissertation prospectus! There, I said it. We all know this is the real reason I'm in a rut. My boyfriend compared my dilemma to the Clash's "Guns of Brixton" lyrics: "How you gonna come?/ With your hands on your head / Or on the trigger of your gun?" In other words: I need to decide if I'm going to come out fighting or just give up. The fighting option sounds much more exciting {and yes, my boyfriend makes strange, wonderful music analogies}.

Readers, please share, what do you do to get out of a rut??


Francy said...

This is such a good idea, and something I also need to do! The costume movie nights sound so fun.

Poke Salad Annie said...

ugh, do i ever hear you. i'm in a serious rut myself, and am very familiar with the motivation sucking guilt of which you speek. trouble is, i never know quite how to get out of such ruts until i do. your man's analogy was rather inspiring though. ima meditate on that one for a bit. in the meantime, thanks for making me feel like i'm not alone :)

Poke Salad Annie said...

re: your comment
Hahaha! too true!

JLo said...

Just wait until you do finish that dissertation and find yourself teaching a 4/4 or--worse--5/5 load with the additional pressures of the tenure clock constantly tick-tick-ticking in the background. Then, my dear, you will truly experience the dark side of the rut. (God, I wish I could come back to the halcyon days of the MJP!).

Well, back to yet more grading . . .

P.S. Tara, remind me to tell you and James about the venomous, anonymous, third-party e-mail I got this past week attacking my grading methods as too "hard" and threatening to go to the Dean of the Humanities if I don't stop oppressing these poor, poor freshmen. It makes your eye-roller look tame by comparison.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I so needed to read this right now. Lately things have been piling up and it's come to the point where I curl up almost completely hidden underneath a blanket, desperately listening to Florence + the Machine and eating chocolate as though my life depended on it. I can't even bring myself to paint my nails or take photos simply because I know I should be doing more pressing things - so I end up doing nothing. I think my jellyfish is enormous, green and is called Larry. I really hate him. I plan to make him go away by doing these things:

- writing a list of all the things I have to do, in prioritized order. This way I'll know when something absolutely has to be done, and it won't all just be a huge, undefined amount of "stuff I have to do" in my head
- decide that if I'm not going to do any of said things, I might as well do something really fun and enjoy it as much as possible.
- say yes to more fun things. I say no to things way too often because I think "I have so much to do, I can't do this as well". But it's better to be busy with fun things than to sit at home and mope about being busy.
- not say yes to do boring/time-consuming things just to be nice.

I suppose these are more preventive things, but that's my ultimate goal: to not have to do things I don't like. We all have to, I suppose, but I'd like to keep it to a bare minimum ;)

Anonymous said...

When I'm in a rut I usually put on an old record (often Sinatra), get ready in an amazing outfit, and go do something fun with friends; even if it's simple like a picnic or fleamarketing. Also, shooting some photography always ups my mood. By the way, your blog is lovely. I stumbled upon it by mistake when googling for antique pictures, but haven't been able to stop coming back! Feel free to check my own out at

Maggie said...

This must be catching because I have it to. I really need to add some new things to my shop but just haven't been able to muster it. Here's my new favorite quote by Nigella Lawson- "Most things are better to do than to think about." And here's my best writing tip- Start with just one sentence. Just one. But that will lead you to the next and the next until your little fingers are flying. Good luck, dear!

{Tara} said...

Your comments have all made me feel so much better today!! Yay for my amazing readers!!

Francy -- I'm hoping I can get some girlfriends to join me, too!

Annie -- You are definitely not alone in this! I know it is normal for it to happen from time to time...but it still sucks. I'm glad you liked the BF's analogy -- I will have to tell him. He's rather a genius sometimes.

Jeff -- That did NOT cheer me up! Jerk! Just kidding. I am VERY curious to hear about this e-mail. You better watch out -- you might start getting death threats. You're such a tyrant. WTF with the high expectations of your students?? It's not like they are there to learn or something.

Airam -- Your comments cracked me up!! Larry is an asshole. I think mine is named Bertha. Ha! I am also going to write a list and I've also been thinking about the fun things I need to add to my's so weird how we punish ourselves because of guilt.

Shelby -- Sinatra sounds fantastic! I am so happy you stopped by my little blog.

Maggie -- Nigella is amazing! I like the one sentence idea. I do often find when I give myself a very small goal, I often end up going above and beyond. I'm going to try this.

Alli (One Pearl Button) said...

Um, YES! Slump periods are just part of writing a dissertation (and from now on, I'm definitely going to think of this as having a jellyfish on my head, haha). All you can do is work through it - I love your ideas for breaking out. Remember, the most important thing you can do is write. WRITE WRITE WRITE. Even if it's crap and you know you are just going to delete it later. Sitting around in despair never helps.

Good luck with the prospectus!

{Tara} said...

Alli -- I plan on starting on your suggestion today...even if it's just one sentence!!

bloodmilk. said...

oh i feel such the same. i have a bunch of paintings due soon.
i also felt this way writing my thesis for my mfa.
it was incredibly late.
you'll get through it.
fire and brimstone.

Seraph + Splendor said...

...all creative people feel this way from time to time because we put so much of ourselves in what we do. Just remember - your blog is great and all of your hard work is evident in every post!

We hope that the jellyfish did not crawl out of one of the portals here at CoD. Damn those things are pesky...

Anonymous said...

Oooh Bright Star is amazing... i blogged about it a few weeks ago. Really fell in love with the movie after watching it... (it should have won the Oscar!!):)
Good luck getting out of your rut - we all have those moments, and luckily we all have the internet to search for hours finding inspiration!

katie said...

I allow myself to dwell in said rut for, like, a day. 24 hours of rut-dom. then I get off my ass, get outside for a while, then do the things I've been putting off e.g. cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping. it makes me feel better to be measurably productive.

ModernSauce said...

Doing something outside of my comfort zone/normal routine usually helps me! You feel a little boost of confidence after trying something new (even if it is just that new restuarant!)that might help you feel like you can tackle anything else you're dreading!

Also - cookies. But maybe that's just me. ; )

Old Jail Artist said...

Just do something. One thing. Then give yourself time to goof off, play solitaire, eat crackers and cheese, whatever, and come back and do some more.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, great post!

I really find that going for a walk in the outdoors is great for clearing my head...also just talking to interesting people really helps me get out of a funk


s.i. michaels said...

I feel you regarding the rut. I've discovered that turning my attention to other creative things--while not necessarily productive in the sense of doing what I'm *supposed* to do--can sometimes disrupt the rut.

& seconding the hike. Even a walk in my neighborhood can clear up my funk.