What I Liked About The Book Timequake By Kurt Vonnegut

 

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I started reading for 1 hour a day almost 3 weeks ago.  It was originally an 11 day challenge, but having a goal to read an hour a day helped me actually sit down and read so much more than usual, that I have chosen to continue this challenge.  Because I’ve been actually taking the time to sit down and open up a book almost every single day, I’ve been able to start and finish several books.  I know for some people that may not be very impressive, but in the past I’ve been the type of girl that checks out 6 books at the library, and only ever maybe would finish one over the course of like a month (except for that book Gone Girl that everyone read a couple years ago, that thing I finished in like 5 hours).

Anyways last week I started and finished the book Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve only ever read Slaughterhouse Five, and wanted to try out another novel by the author.  One of my favorite friends is pretty much in love with Vonnegut and always makes me think I should be reading more of his books.  I saw this one at the library and the title intrigued me, so I decided to take it home with me.

Timequake is kind of a sh*t show and that’s kind of what I loved about it.  The book jumps back and forth from being somewhat of an autobiography as well as a piece of science fiction.  Basically he is writing about his life as a writer as well as a fictional event in which everyone in the world has to relive the past ten years of their life, but they can’t change one single thing during the process of reliving it.  This event is referred to as a Timequake.  A character named Kilgore Trout, who is an under appreciated science fiction writer, is also a focus in the book.  Trout has some amazing dialogue in the book, and I absolutely loved his melancholy but wise quotes.

 

I really liked this book because it was so unique.  Vonnegut has such a distinct type of writing and world that he creates with his words is like nothing I’ve ever read about before.  Although the writing style took me a second to get used to, I ended up really looking forward to my hour each day with this book.  It made me laugh, and it made me stop and really think about life a couple of times.  Are we making our own choices (free will), or are we all just going through the motions even without a “timequake” occurring.  Are we in control?, or is that what we just tell ourselves to make life seem manageable.

All I can say is that if you want something that is spectacular, pick up this book.

Here are some quotes that made me pause:

“All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.”

“But by accident, not by cunning calculation, books, because of their weight and texture, and because of their sweetly token resistance to manipulation, involve our hands and eyes, and then our minds and souls, in a spiritual adventure I would be very sorry for my grandchildren not to know about.” (this quote made me really love that I am reading more!)

“TV is an eraser.”

“science never cheered up anyone. the human situation is just too awful.”

“It was all here for me, just as it has all been here for you, the best and the worst of Western Civilization, if you cared to pay attention: music, finance, government, architecture, law and sculpture and painting, history and medicine and athletics and every sort of science, and books, books, books, and teachers and role models.
People so smart you can’t believe it, and people so dumb you can’t believe it. People so nice you can’t believe it, and people so mean you can’t believe it.”

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11 Day Challenge Overview: Read 1 Hour Every Day

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My 11 Day Reading Challenge has come to an end!! What an 11 days it has been.  I have to admit, there were THREE days when I did not get a full hour of reading in.  I am a little ashamed to admit that because for a such a short challenge, you would think it would be easy to not miss a day.  But I am proud of myself for not letting those days get me down, and continuing the challenge until Day 11.

During this challenge I finished the book Mildred Pierce, which I seriously started TWO MONTHS ago and had yet to finish.  I STARTED AND FINISHED the book Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, which I will do a review on this week.  I also STARTED the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight which I have been meaning to read since it was first released about a couple months ago.  I love reading, and am glad that this challenged inspired me to actually sit down and do it.  Reading calms me down and helps me focus.  I love reading because it requires my full attention.  When I watch netflix I can easily text and check my email and get distracted by other things.  When I read, that’s all I do.  I don’t check my phone.  I can’t open a new tab and quickly check facebook.  It’s just me, words and a story.  In this day and age of multitasking, I really value that reading is an activity that must be done by itself.

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Although the 11 days is up, I am going to challenge myself to go on to 30 days of reading an hour everyday!  As strange as it sounds, making this into a “challenge” really encouraged me to follow through with the hour everyday.  If you are interested in reading more I challenge you to try and read for a full hour everyday for 11 days!!  Most people can find a free hour in their day simply by eliminating the amount of time they spend online or cutting down on the amount of TV they watch (maybe only do one episode of Homeland, instead of 3).  I’m looking forward to the next 19 days of more reading… who knows maybe this will turn into a 365 day challenge.

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I recapped each day of the challenge below.

Day 1:  On the first day I started this challenge I had a day off, which I thought was perfect because how hard could it be to find a free hour when you have the entire day off right?! Welp, I managed to put off reading for almost the entire day.  I kept finding other things to do like check my email, go to a workout class, and getting a pedicure with my roommate.  Finally around 4 pm I started my timer and picked up the book Mildred Pierce.  I am embarrassed to say that I started this book TWO MONTHS AGO and still had about 80 pages to go (I thought it was more like 30 pages but nope.. closer to 80).  I read for 35 minutes only to get really sleepy so I paused the timer and I ended up taking a little nap!  When I woke up from my nap I had to get ready for my plans that evening but promised myself I would do the final 25 minutes before bed.  That night I did read for another 25 minutes and got sooo close to the end of the book but not quite there! I almost pushed it and read for longer than an hour just to finish the book but stopped myself.  I have a tendency to over-do things and I don’t want to tire myself out of reading by overdoing it one day, only to not want to read the next.  So I set the book down and went to bed really satisfied that I had reached my goal of reading for an hour.

Day 2: So I actually really enjoyed my reading time on Day 1 and work up Day 2 kind of excited to read more.  I think since I was sooo close to the end of Mildred Pierce I woke up really determined and curious to finish it and see how it ended (CRAZY ENDING!).  I made some coffee and started my timer and finished the book before 10 am.  That only took about 25 minutes so I paused the timer with intentions of reading more later in the day.  I finished up my other 25 minutes later in the day by starting the book Timequake by the one and only Kurt Vonnegut.

Day 3: Okay.  So… Sometimes its hard to kill old habits.  By this I means, sometimes when you are someone who doesn’t read for an hour every day it can be hard to start reading an hour every day.   Sometimes you get off work at 5 and bike to the beach with a few friends and end up going to a bar to watch the basketball game and don’t get home until about midnight.  What I’m trying to say here is.. I didn’t read for one minute on day three.  Life is a work in progress ok?!

Day 4:  Like Day 1, I put off my reading today.  I had a lot going on in the morning but around 2 in the afternoon I suddenly had a two hour pocket of free time.  No work or other commitments! So I curled up with Timequake and read for about 45 minutes.  I brought the book along with me to meet up with a friend a little later, and since I showed up early to that meeting I was able to squeeze the final 15 minutes in easily!  I’m noticing that although the payoff from reading a novel is slower than watching a TV show, it’s almost more satisfying.  The book I’m reading is all over the place but I’m starting to get the hang of it and theres moments when it makes me laugh and moments when it really makes me think about life as I know it.

Day 5:  Oh my goodness.  So today I started my day by reading for 20 minutes.  Then I went to work and then I got home and made pizza and watched the bachelorette with my roommate, and then I messed around on the internet for like TWO HOURS and before I knew it it was 11:30 pm.  Yikes.  Even though I kind of wanted to just go to bed, I made myself actually read for 40 minutes.   I’m proud of myself for following through even if I may have pushed it to the next day by a few minutes…

Day 6: This Wednesday was kind of a blur.  I got in most of my reading earlier in the day before heading out for work.  Then I came home after a long day and finished my final 10 minutes.

Day 7:  This Thursday I was very busy all day long.  After dinner I tucked into bed around 10:30 pm so my hour of reading got off to a later start.  I have found that I really enjoy reading before falling asleep.  Obviously it’s not news to anyone that being on your computer and phone right up until you close your eyes for bed isn’t the smartest idea for a relaxed night of sleep.  I’ve really found that reading before bed, especially for a long period of time, fully relaxes my mind and makes me drift of to sleep much more easily.

Day 8: So today I had the opportunity to go see Bob Dylan for free.  I worked all day and then sped out in an uber up to the venue which was pretty far north.  Low and behold, I got home around midnight incredibly blissed out from the magic that was Dylan, and then since I had to be up at 7 I allowed myself to skip reading for the sake of a good nights sleep.

Day 9:  I feel like I’m failing on a lot of levels because today I was only able to get 30 minutes in.  I feel like the problem is that a lot of times I think that I will do the reading before bed.  And I would do the reading before bed if I didn’t do anything that night and was just relaxing at my apartment, BUT the problem comes when I make last minute plans and suddenly am not coming home until around 11 or 12.  I’m a person that requires (honestly) 8-10 hours of sleep a night of feel my best, so when it gets to be that late I have to put the importance on sleep rather than reading.  That’s what happened last night! I let myself read for a little, but went to bed as soon as I started feeling sleepy.

Day 10: I got my hour of reading in right before bed! Yay me!

Day 11: The final day has arrived!! I read for about 35 minutes at lunch time, and then for a full 25 minutes before bed.  The past two days I felt really determined to finish these 11 days on a strong note so I easily fit the reading in.

 

 

11 Day Reading Challenge Update

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 10.35.25 AMI am currently writing this post on Day 6 of my 11 Day Reading Challenge.  If you missed my initial post about this challenge here is the deal: I am challenging myself to read for 1 hour every day for 11 days.  Reading is something I always wish I did more of, but never quite find the time to fit into my day.  The stats on people that read are insane.  It can reudce stress, make you smarter, maker you richer (seriously, people that read have higher incomes!!), make you a better writer, and more (stats and head image).

I am more than half way through these 11 days and I can already say that I am so happy I am doing this challenge.  Although I will do an in depth overview of the challenge at the end, I wanted to check in half way through about how it has been going so far.  One thing I can say is that reading is kind of like writing for me.  There is quote that goes- (I think by Hemingway but could be totally off and I’m sorry I don’t really want to google it right now), “I hate to write but love to have written.”  With reading its been a slightly similar idea.  I’ve found that getting to the moment when I actually get off my computer or turn away from whatever I’m doing to sit down and read is actually really tough to do.  Yesterday, for example, I put off reading until 11:30 pm.  This was not directly intentional because deep down I do want to put in my hour of reading every day, but it was just so easy to find distractions!  For me the biggest things that distract me from reading is definitely my computer.  It’s so easy for me to get on this thing and then lose an hour or two of my day.  I’m not very proud of that fact but I’m trying to be as honest as I can be on this blog.

To make sure I’m getting in an hour each day I’ve been using a timer on my phone.  When I start reading I will start the countdown at 1 hour.  It’s been a great tool to use because if I can only get 20 minutes in in the morning I will just pause the timer when I am 20 minutes in, and then continue it later in the day when I find another opportunity to read.

This is crazy, but I have not read for one hour a day for five days in a row since like high school.  Maybe on and off throughout the past five years there might have been moments when I picked up an addicting book and read this much, but all I can say is that it has been awhile.  I love that while I’m reading I don’t check my phone.  I also love the satisfaction that comes from reading because although not instant, it is a quieter but more profound satisfaction.  The stories really come alive in your mind and you kind of become a part of the characters because they are literally in your mind, so when big events happen in the book it can really make you stop and think.

That is my jumbled Day 6 update.  I am enjoying this challenge, but have to say it is kind of hard some days to inspire myself to sit down and read.  However, Once I finally do open up my book and begin to read, the hour rolls by in the most relaxing way.  Now I’ve gotta go get in my 60 minutes!

How I Got Into $1900 of Debt and the 5 Ways I Paid It Off Before I Turned 23

I got a credit card with a 300 dollar limit when I was about 18 years old and going off to college.  This credit card was actually connected to my Mom’s account, and every few months she would pay it off. I think she did this with the best intentions, but it did not help prepare me for the responsibilities that come with having a credit card.

When I was 20 I went into the bank one day with questions about setting up a savings account, and the bank teller decided to tell me that I was eligible for a student credit card.  She said it had a very low interest rate and didn’t cost any money to set up.  I was sold.  A week later I received a shiny card in the mail that had a 1,000 dollar limit, and I was smitten.

At this point in my life I didn’t quite understand that my actions in the present could really affect my future.  Everyone around me binge drank at parties, easily able to forget about the hangover that would hit them the next morning.  Just like drinking, it was easy for me to spend 200 dollars in the moment, and forget about the debt I would still owe a week later.  I remember one of the first purchases I made on that new shiny piece of plastic was a $180 order from Madewell.com on clothes that were cute but that I did not really need.  I placed that order because I had a free morning and was feeling a little insecure that day.

For most people debt grows gradually.  It’s not like I went out and spontaneously bought a $900 jacket.  My debt racked up over stupid things that I thought I would pay off when I got my next paycheck but never quite did.  It was $50 dollars during a night out.  It was a $30 dinner out with a friend.  It was a $150 dollar hair cut.  I made small payments every month towards my debt, and never once missed a payment, but the amount I carried on my credit card was growing faster than it was shrinking.

Eventually I was carrying a balance of about $900.  I was very close to maxing out the card, and I was starting to feel stressed.  I knew I had to pay it off, but every time I got my paycheck I would not put as much of it towards my balance as I could have.   Naturally, right around this time my bank decided to increase the limit on the card… so now I had a $1,900 limit.  Although I promised myself I would not let my debt grow, it slowly continued.  By age 22 I had maxed out that credit card, and also had gone through a breakup and had started to be honest with myself about my irresponsible tendencies.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that right around the time I started eating healthier, partying less, and paying more attention to my emotions is when I decided to pay off my credit card.  Right after I graduated college in December of 2015 I made a pact to myself that I would pay it off as soon as possible… and I did it.  I did it by May 2016 and this is how.  (Note, I do not have a well paying job yet.  I work at a little about a minimum wage salary, and paying off 1900 dollars was a challenge).

1.) I Bought a Daruma Doll for 14 Dollars.

Daruma Dolls are from Japan and are seen as a sign of perseverance and good luck.  My Mom always had one of these in the kitchen growing up.  The idea is that for each Daruma Doll you have you are to set a goal and color in only one of the dolls eyes.  You can not color in the other eye until your goal is met.  I set my Doll on top of my bed frame and colored in one of its eyes.  The goal was to pay off my debt.  As silly as it sounds, having this symbol of my goal visible to me every single day, did not let me forget about my intentions.  Yes, you could probably pay off your debt without this doll, but having it in my sights everyday did not let me take my eyes off my goal.

2.) I Used My Tax Return Towards My Debt

Although I did not receive a huge tax return because I only worked part time during college, what I did receive I put towards my credit card.  It was about 400 dollars but it put a big dent into the total sum and motivated me to keep going forward.

3.) I lived with my parents for a minute.

After graduating college I moved to a new city.  I had a two month period during this time where I lived with my parents.  I was making an income during this time and put most of it towards my debt.  This helped me get rid of another 600 dollars that I had racked up on my balance.  I am very grateful that I had this as an option because if I had not it would have taken me much longer to pay off the debt.

4.) I sold my car.

I sold my car before I moved to the city.  I don’t need a car in this new city, and it would have made no sense to leave my car rusting in my parents garage so I sold it for a smallish sum to a college kid (the car was over 20 years old and not worth a lot).  Although most of the money went towards moving expenses, I was able to put about 300 dollars towards my debt.

5.) Living Simply For A Bit

With about 700 dollars left on the balance, I spent the next two months living very modestly.  As I said, I’m not generating a huge income so 700 dollars actually took a push to pay off in two months.  I could have waited until I had a bigger salary (which will hopefully be in a year or two), but I got kind of addicted to paying off my debt and wanted the stress of it to go away.  I did not shop at all for those two months for anything I did not need.  I rarely went out, and if I did I would get one drink.  I basically did not buy almost anything I did not truly need, and was able to put most of my paychecks towards my rent, food, and the debt.  In May 2016 I made that final payment.  Drawing in the second eye on my Daruma doll was such a satisfying moment.

Now that I’m debt free I am by no means making perfect and smart decisions with my money.  I will write a future post one day about life after paying off your debt.  It’s a strange transition and provides lots of learning experience that I am going through right now.  Finances are a work in progress for myself and many others.  I am very proud of myself for taking action on my debt when it was at $1900 because I know it could have grown to be much higher.  I’m thankful to have caught my debt early, and hope this article helps you if you are struggling at all with credit cards!

11 Day Challenge #1: Read 1 Hour a Day

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Here is the truth: I have a long list in the back of my head of things I think I should be doing, but don’t actually do.

This list mainly includes actions I could be taking daily that I think would make me a better person.  I’ve started this blog because I want to test out this potentially arbitrary theory that these “should be doing” things would actually make me a better person.  In a world of self-help books/blogs and never-ending magazine articles telling you about things you should be doing that will make you skinnier, happier, prettier, more in love, blah blah blah it can be challenging to feel satisfied with your day to day life.  I often wonder if the pressure I feel to “better” my life is real or if it is just because the media I am surrounded by tells me I need to constantly better my life.  So I’m putting these ideas to the test and I will be experimenting by trying out different things I often here or read I should be doing.  Yes, supposedly it takes 21 days to build a habit but in this day in age who has time to wait 21 days?  I’ve done 30 day challenges in the past and have found that by about day 10 you have an idea of the impact of the change of behavior.  Thus, I will be testing out these experiments over the course of 11 days.  If all goes well I will likely implement the behavior change into my everyday life… If not then I will be kicking it to the curb and will no longer feel guilty that I don’t do it each and every day.

 

STEP ONE: I will be read for one hour every day for the next eleven days.  Reading is something I like doing but never do.   So far in 2016 I’ve read 2 books.  We are half way through the year!! That is kind of sad.  I did some research and discovered that most Americans are in the same boat.  Check out these stats (source):

  • 25% of people have not read a book in the last year
  • 46% of adults score in the lowest two levels of literacy
  • Reading frequency declines after age eight

That means 1/4 adults are not reading books.  Supposedly people that read make more money.  People that read have higher career success and are more satisfied with their life.  Reading is always something I know I should be doing, but easily find other things to do instead like check Instagram for the 5th time that day, or watch a Netflix show, or surf the internet, etc.

So starting today I will be reading an hour a day and updating along the way how I do it and what I think about the change of behavior!  I will do a final update after the 11 days and let you know if I will continue the habit.

Book I am starting with: Mildred Pierce.  I started this book like 2 months ago and have like 30 pages left!!