ximena vengoechea

Jul 26

Art is a Facebook Status About Your Winter Break — Human Parts — Medium -

Van Gogh would have taken 20 selflies a day.
Sylvia Plath would have texted her lovers
nothing but heart-eyed emojis when she ran out of words.
Andy Warhol would have had the world’s weirdest Vine account,
and we all would have checked it every morning while we Snapchat our coffee orders to the people we wish were pressed against our lips instead of lattes.

via uutpoetry

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” — Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums  (via thatkindofwoman)

(Source: whyallcaps.us, via thatkindofwoman)

Jul 18

(Source: maximecp, via ximenavengoechea)


“In French, you don’t say “I miss you.” You say “tu me manques,” which is closer to “you are missing from me.” I love that. “You are missing from me.” You are a part of me, you are essential to my being. You are like a limb, or an organ, or blood. I cannot function without you.” —


God I miss speaking French.

(Source: theantiquated, via whatalovelythought)

Jul 16


Jul 14

Reading One Book/Week: A June Habit Recap

In June, as part of my my monthly habit experiment, I committed to reading one book a week for the month. I’d been writing a lot, but my reading had admittedly fallen to the waysides. The growing pile of books besides my bed seemed to taunt me every night (“to be a good writer you have to be a good reader, you know!”).  In June, I would fix that. 


I picked four books for the month. Since I’d learned that having visible output is central to the success of my habit-building process, I planned on tracking and visualizing a few core metrics to measure my progress throughout the month.

To start, I noted the page count for each book and divided each by 7 to mark my daily reading quota per book. This helped me see what was realistically expected of me to reach my 1 book/week goal. I estimated that most books would require 30 minutes of reading time per day and that I could very likely fit this into my morning shuttle ride— plus or minus some extra sessions on the weekends as needed.  If I got farther than the recommended daily dose of lit, even better.

To keep things lively, I planned on reading books from several genres and topics. I envisioned reading a fiction work, a business book, perhaps one on nutrition, and another on psychology to round it all out.

It was a great plan, but not one I ended up sticking to. Not entirely, at least.


About halfway through the month, instead of starting new books, I started working on books I’d been meaning to finish for quite some time.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the time to finish four books from cover-to-cover that month, but it turned out things were beginning to pick up in other areas of my life: I had momentum on some side projects and wanted to take advantage of that tidal energy. My reading challenge was more about consuming than producing, and this didn’t quite gel with the month’s energy, so I re-calibrated:


This turned out to be a great choice. Technically, I still finished four books that month. (Technically!) More importantly, it gave me time to think beyond the output of the month’s experiment as being “a pile of finished books” into something a little more productive, and insightful.

The main thing that made my June reading experiment feel more productive in this suddenly-prolific-June was approaching it from a more data-driven direction: I tweaked my reading experiment so that it wasn’t strictly about content consumption, but about self-analysis instead.

Rather than just “reading,” I thought about how I would visualize my progress, and what success for my June experiment would really look like. (Knowing how many pages I had left to go each week was a helpful motivator to get through the day’s reading, but no more interesting than getting through a homework assignment.)

I considered several metrics I might check to illustrate my progress per book: Would I look at read ratio? Time spent/book? Minutes/page? Days/week? Characters/story?  

I also decided to track my progress not just per book but in relation to each other, comparing them overall and analyzing them for particular trends. Minutes/page was an interesting figure to look at for this reason, especially since the last two books I read were of completely different genres. Unsurprisingly, I read fiction a lot faster than I do psychology research:


Of course there are a few caveats in understanding my reading patterns. For one thing, I was often reading during my morning commute, still groggy, sans breakfast, and before fully saying hello to the day. That fuzzy time meant I was reading probably a bit slower.

Secondly, I was admittedly distracted during much of my reading time. Part of me regretted using that time for reading since I prefer to save my mornings  for thinking time, and I didn’t switch to afternoon reading sessions quickly enough. (The 3 o’clock slump would be the perfect time, if only reading breaks at work weren’t frowned upon.)

Finally, these reading results are specific to June’s circumstances. My reading experiment would have probably been much easier had I undertaken it in July (since I am on vacation, and have more time for reading on vacation), or any other month for that matter. Because the lead up to a vacation tends to usher in more of a time crunch than the average month, June was probably one of the worst months I could have chosen for my reading challenge. It was a much more intense month for me, activity-wise and workload wise, and that likely slowed me down a bit.

With June over, I doubt I’ll continue this habit so strictly (it did feel a bit too school-ish to assign myself a book to finish every week), though it was a good segue back into reading more. My stack of books is just a little bit smaller now, and certainly feels more manageable, especially knowing a bit more about my own reading habits. Learning about those was in some cases more interesting than the reading itself.

As for July, I am unabashedly putting my monthly habit challenge on hold. I’m on vacation. I will see you back in August!

Jul 09

On vacation and takin’ notes.
Above: App use in Paris. Made With Paper

On vacation and takin’ notes.

Above: App use in Paris. Made With Paper