Late Writing Prompt #2: How To Deal With Boredom

If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?

The Daily Post, 1 November 2014

Because I have a short attention span of 5 minutes, I easily get bored with almost anything. But there are some events and tasks that I can barely endure, like:

Writing the first paragraph. Whether it’s starting a new blog post or a feature article, I take too long in actually starting it. When I wrote this particular post, I spent half an hour debating on whether to put up the writing prompt in quotation format or make a graphic for it. Then I spent the next half hour making the graphic, and when I finished, I decided to just quote the question instead. My next problem was how to start my answer, and so I gave myself a few minutes to try it, but I ended up just staring at the screen.

Washing dishes. Even though I know that it takes me less than 20 minutes to finish, I still hate doing it. As much as I can, I try to pass this chore to someone else, but it almost never works.

City traffic. Here in the Philippines, the traffic situation in Metro Manila is a disaster. Major roads are constantly congested by private vehicles, jeepneys, buses, and trucks. So many of these drivers do not follow traffic rules, resulting in accidents and traffic jams. To make things worse, the MRT, which is a rail transport along EDSA, is in a state of disrepair. The trains often break down and they are far behind on their maintenance schedules. Instead of benefiting from faster travel, commuters are more inconvenienced by such neglect.

I try not to travel farther than Makati City, which is a 30 minute- to 1 hour-drive from my house. Thankfully, everything I need is in my city, so I don’t always have to go as far to run errands, get a pedicure, or go shopping.

Even though I wish for a fast-forward button to get through these trying tasks, I have learned to cope with them.

When I’m having a hard time writing, I set a 5-minute timer and write anything I can think of, whether they are random sentences or words that do not make sense together. When time is up, I give myself a 5-minute break before going back to see what I wrote. Most of the time the stuff I write are what I really wanted to say, so I just choose which ones I like most, then I continue writing based on these. While this is still time-consuming, it helps me stay on track.

In doing menial tasks or being stuck in traffic or long queues, I listen to my favorite podcasts. Since I have something else to distract me, time doesn’t seem to go as slowly, and my day is not ruined.

HOW ABOUT YOU: How do you cope with a boring task or event that seems to drag on? Does it help speed up the time?

The Sins I Have and Haven’t Committed

"Sometimes the sins you haven't committed are all you have left to hold onto." - David SedarisI just had a bad week. I fell short on my two main commitments: blogging and weight loss. Not only did I only work out twice this week instead of my minimum target of 3, I also over-ate for a few days. And then, AND THEN, I was not able to finish what I was originally publishing for today, which was the second part to last week’s post. I have tried to write it since last Monday, but I don’t know…I think I’m losing my drive again. And I’m so scared of this because if I fall I don’t know how long before I get the courage to get back up. I don’t want to fall. I don’t want to have to start over and over and over.

I’m not entirely sure how the image above (with a quote I received from Goodreads‘ newsletter) relates to what I’m writing now, because I definitely have committed a lot of “sins” this week. This picture was also supposed to be in the post I was planning to publish today because (Spoiler alert!) it ties together what I have wanted to say for weeks now.

But anyway, I hope that you have had no regrets this week–that you have no “sins” that you wish you committed. But if you have any regrets, learn to forgive yourself. That’s what I’m doing. Tomorrow, Sunday, is a new day and the start of a new week. Tomorrow I will continue what I started–Week 1, Day 3 of my C25K challenge, my diet, and keeping this blog active–and at the same time starting over with a new determination. I hope you will do the same.

A Mozzarella Orange: Nelle’s Writing Space

This should have been my first blog post. But just like the reason I did not put up an “About” page (yet), I never thought it was important because I did not think anyone would care. However, after publishing a few blog posts and gaining a few followers, I figured now is the right time to introduce myself a second time (the first one was explaining why I am blogging again).

Who’s Nelle?

It’s me. Nelle is the name I have answered to since my friends in college found out my first name. It is the name that my co-workers call me when they need something. It is the name that Jacob calls me when we are having a serious conversation. It is not the name that my parents call me when I am in trouble.

My writing space

This blog is my haven. It is a place for me to express my thoughts without being interrupted. When I get upset or flustered I tend to mumble, talk too fast, or choke on my words that the person I’m talking to could not understand a thing I say. With writing, I can complete what I want to say and be able to edit it before showing it to my reader–no mumbling or talking too fast. I still need to work on being more descriptive since I tend to be short on words sometimes.

Unlike other bloggers here who say that writing is their passion, to me writing is a chore. It is a daily exercise that I must do so I could learn to express myself better.

Even though I publish a new post every other week or so, I actually write every day–or at least I try to. I am just slow at outlining ideas and constructing them into an actual piece, and on some days I chose to sleep early instead of staying awake for at least 30 minutes to write. While I aim to publish around once a week, life won’t let me do that at the moment.

Why “A Mozzarella Orange”?

I’m saving the best question for last. A Mozzarella Orange is just an anagram of my name, though the phrase itself always makes me hungry for anything with cheese. I am having a hard time picturing its color though.

It’s your turn: what comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “a mozzarella orange”? What color do you think it actually is?

What I Learned From Joining Writing 101

The Writing 101 workshop is over, and even though it was fun and I met interesting bloggers there, I felt like I wasted an opportunity to actually build a writing habit. However, just like with any experience, there are still lessons from this, so I took some time to reflect on what I learned and I’m sharing them with you:

1. I don’t have time to write every day.

Writing is like a chicken-and-egg situation: you have to live your life and be inspired by the outside world to find something to write about, and you also have to find time to write to share what you experienced or what you are thinking of. One of my problems lies in finding time–I do not have enough in one day for everything I need and want to do. I spend almost three-fourths of my day working. When I get home, I usually just go straight to bed. Sometimes I drink coffee to keep myself awake enough to write something, but caffeine can only do so much. When the body needs to rest, it will rest.

2. I can be quite impatient with my writing.

When I was doing one of the assignments, which involved writing a story in three different points of view, I ended up not publishing it. At first, I had a clear idea of what I want it to be about. However, as I started writing the details leading up to the main idea, I started doubting myself. I thought it wasn’t good enough, then thought of another idea, so I scrapped what I wrote and redid everything. I did this around 3 to 4 times until I got bored.

It seems that once I have a main idea for my writing, I want to head straight to it and forget about the supporting details. This post is actually another example: I had an easy time writing exactly what I learned from joining the workshop, but when I had to expound on them, I had to fight myself into staying focused on the details.

3. I can’t write something that does not have anything to do with me.

I find this observation very disturbing. While I was doing the same said assignment and the one about the most interesting person I met this year (which I did not publish as well), I had a really difficult time outlining what I wanted to write. Aside from being impatient with creating a vivid description about the person who was not me, I also got bored with it. Am I a narcissist, or have I just not done enough to explore the world outside of myself and my ego? Or maybe it’s both?

Where do I go from here?

Of course, after learning more about myself, I have to do something about these “weaknesses” if I want to bring back my passion for writing. While I have some ideas on what to do, I’m not sharing them yet. Consider this the first part of a series of posts.

What is one thing you learned about yourself when you joined Writing 101 or (if you didn’t join the workshop) since you started blogging?

A Room With A View

NOTE: This is a post for the Writing 101 workshop.


When I get stressed out from the intense pressure at work, it’s easy to think of a place I’d rather go to if I could zoom through space and in the speed of light. It is not my room (too boring), the mall (too crowded), or a café (I need to stop spending too much on food), but another place I went to what seemed like a lifetime ago.

Good morning!

A post shared by Nelle Zaragoza (@quetzalcotl) on

This is not your ordinary beach resort.

In the picture, no one was lounging around outside because this was not open to the public when we visited in 2013. I took this picture when I just woke up and went out to the balcony of my cottage to admire this view on a lovely summer morning.

The water was calm because nobody was swimming. Not since the day before, when my parents, my two brothers, my aunt, and I, ran towards the shore and swam all afternoon.

The yacht was docked because we didn’t need it yet. My family and I were its only passengers that time.

When a close acquaintance of my dad invited us to his beach property, we thought we would only be staying in a beach house, and not a beach resort. So imagine our surprise when we saw this:

I took this photo before we left.
View of Samal Shores from the dock.

The water was so blue and clear, you could see the rocks on the bottom. At a glance you would think that part with the rocks is shallow, but it’s not; I swam all the way there and it was already more than 5 feet deep.

The sand was white and unbelievably flat, as if no one had ever set foot there before. We later learned from the staff that it was imported from another white beach in the country, and (as seen in the picture) that it was raked at least once a day to look tidy.

The white umbrellas and the recliners underneath were inviting. I swore to myself I would sit in every chair before our time there is over (Spoiler alert: I didn’t get to).

The coconut trees swaying in the summer breeze made the place look cool and relaxing despite the summer heat penetrating our skins.

As soon as we got there, we rode a long golf cart to the reception area and were greeted by a staff member holding a tray of wet towels and cold water bottles for each of us.

When we went inside our respective cottages, we couldn’t help but feel at home.

A panoramic view of our cottage.
A panoramic photo of our cottage.

The bed was comfortable, and the linens smelled like they have just been washed (my favorite scent). The furniture was minimal, but we never really used them all aside from putting our stuff on. The TV was barely used. The bathroom (not shown in the picture) was spacious and clean, I showered longer than I usually do because I had too much fun dancing around. There was also a balcony that had a lovely view of the resort.

The balcony.
The balcony in my parents’ cottage. I didn’t get to take a picture of my own cottage’s balcony, but it was similar to this.

From my cottage, I could see the infinity pool, the pool bar, the beach, and the other island far away.

The view from my cottage.
The view from my cottage.

What took my breath away, however, was the cottage ceiling–

The ceiling of the cottage I'm sleeping in.

A post shared by Nelle Zaragoza (@quetzalcotl) on

It was like a sundial. At night, I stared at that beautiful thing, marvelling at this luxurious place and letting my imagination run wild while I thought of what I’d do if I could live there forever.

I would love to go back to Samal Shores.

I would love to lounge by the poolside again and drink coconut water straight from the fruit.

Nothing better than fresh buko juice on a hot summer's day.

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I would love to eat breakfast while looking over the beach.

Photo 4-8-13, 7 32 13 AM

 

If only I could have that place as my getaway every weekend, then maybe I’d feel more refreshed and motivated to get through each week. For now, however, memories of when I spent my time there with my family will help me relieve my stress even for a bit.

Unlocking the Mind

NOTE: This is an exercise for the Writing  101 workshop.


Even though this should be the first exercise, I’m making this my second. I find that free writing for me is easier than having to write about prompts given. I actually tried to write a story that has three points of view but I still need to work on my storytelling and I was too tired to even get past the first paragraph, so I decided to do that challenge later.

Today I was thinking about my plans for this blog. Or rather, what I am going to write about. But because my mind always wanders into the endless possibilities of topics to post, I decided to list down (in my head) what I am NOT going to write about:

  1. Work. Aside from the legal implications that writing about my current employment might somehow get me in trouble later, I also figured that talking about work is pretty boring, even my wonderful SO, who usually listens to whatever story I tell him no matter how lame they were, expressed disinterest in it. He even asked me to stop thinking about work too much, which I think is also an implication that I should stop talking about it.
  2. My SO. It is no secret that I am in love. Everyone, from my family and distant relatives to my real and Facebook friends, I have been head-over-heels in love with an amazing man for over nine months now. However, I am not too comfortable about sharing our relationship to the public too much, so I may only write about him (or us) when something exciting has happened, or when it is for a prompt that can be related to me and my SO.

The Three Most Important Songs In My Life

NOTE: This is a post written as an exercise for the Writing 101 workshop.


First of all, I am late to the party…again. Writing 101 started last Monday and here I am writing my first post–task #3–on a Wednesday. I have yet to do task #’s 1 and 2.

Today’s task is about sharing the three most important songs in my life but at the same time I also have to write freely. Well, nothing makes me clam up more than having to write something about my song choices AND having to just write–no editing, no re-reading the past sentences once written, only writing.  Which is very hard, since I made it a habit to first edit what I want to write in my head and then edit them again as I write them down (or type them out rather). It will be a while before I get used to this free writing thing.

As for my three most important songs, well, I don’t really have any. Music has never been that important to me, except when I some sounds to fill the room. I pretty much enjoy almost every kind of music, and I am never a snob towards any genre. The only time I pay more attention to the songs, though, is when I am in love. It’s a good thing then that I am in love now or else I will have nothing to write about. So here are the three most important songs in my life since I met Jacob, my significant other:

Live and Die by The Avett Brothers

This is the first song that Jacob asked me to listen to because it reminded him of me when he heard it:

And I want to love you and more

I want to find you and more

Where do you reside?

When you hide, how can I find you?

– Live and Die by The Avett Brothers

We weren’t an official couple yet back then, buuut he had already admitted to me that he likes me. I, on the other hand, being a coward, held back my feelings and did not confess that I like him back when in fact I did. Still, I knew that he knew how I felt for him.

Make You Feel My Love by Adele

A song that still makes me tear up whenever I hear it, Jacob asked me to listen to this a few months into our relationship.

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet

But I will never do you wrong.

I’ve known it from the moment that we met

No doubt in my mind where you belong.

– Make You Feel My Love by Adele

I love that particular stanza because it encapsulates exactly what my SO feels about me–about us. Even though we haven’t been together for so long, we have gone through several major hardships that either strengthen or break a relationship, we committed to ourselves and to each other to make this work and to communicate as often and as effectively as we can. I am so happy to find someone who actually wants me, who is happy to give me 100% of his attention, and who treats me the way I have always wanted to be treated–like I am special, like I am the most beautiful girl in the world even when I am obviously not. Feeling his love even from far away makes me want to love him back more and more.

Forever by Ben Harper

Which brings me to the song I dedicate to Jacob. I may have been afraid in the beginning.

So give me your forever

Please your forever

Not a day less will do

From you.

– Forever by Ben Harper

I have been hurt so often for falling in love too fast, for getting attached too quickly, and for being too naïve about love. Not only did I find my ideal man in him, but he also inspired me to be the ideal partner. Everyday I learn to love myself and be my best. He supports me and cheers me on in everything I do, whether it’s my goal to lose weight (or to be healthy, since he claims I do not need to lose weight at all), to work on my career, or anything I think of wanting to do, and I do the same for him. Not only is Jacob my boyfriend, but he is also my best friend. I trust him more than I trust anyone. He knows my craziest dreams and my worst fears, he knows when I am about to cry or when I am starting to get mad, and he knows how to calm me down or confront me when I am acting like a bitch.

Off-Topic: My commitment to writing

Aside from sharing my three most important songs, today’s writing exercise also wants me to commit to a writing practice.

When I decided to join the Writing 101 workshop, I have already made a commitment to write everyday to keep up with the assigned tasks and then once a week when the workshop is over. I also planned to spend at least 30 minutes to writing, but I think it’s not enough. I will work my way to finding the right amount of time I could dedicate to blogging, but for now I guess 30 minutes, or until I finish writing a post, will do.