Life, Currently // Four

Time //  Tuesday night, just finishing up revisions for a design project and ready to settle in with a good book before bedtime.

Reading // Sleeping Giants, a science fiction novel I picked for January book club.
(Also currently working my way through: Lab Girl, Girl Waits with Gun, and Before We Visit the Goddess. Not to mention a stack of graphic novels from the library!)

Watching // Sex and the City. Because I made it to 26 years without watching it—it was time.

Loving // Sex and the City.

Raving about // Getting enough sleep. Am I getting enough hours at work to make up for the Christmas over-spending? Not quite, but freelance work is decent for the moment, and there’s nothing quite like not worrying about new years resolutions and just getting enough rest to start the year off right!

Working on // Getting to the gym twice a week. I signed up in December and have proven my longstanding theory that I would like running better if I could just stay in one place. All my love for treadmills and earbuds.

Anticipating // A slow season. Fall + the beginning of winter had a lot going on, especially travel, and I’m happy to stay still and do some housecleaning, both literally and not-so-much. 

Considering // Blogging again. Next up, some recent reads including When the Moon Was Ours, The Young Elites, the Gotham Academy series, and My Name is Lucy Barton. See you then!

Books, Lately [Midsummer]

pages of the book as a bird flying away

Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

I was raised in Florida. We visited Chicagoland every single winter, but from 1 month to 18 years, I belonged exclusively to the sauna that is steamy South Florida.

And yet, this hot-baked weather we’ve been having is completely messing with my composure. Have I completely lost my knack for withstanding bracing heat in the years I’ve been here? It’s only been three years, if you don’t count college years when I spent summer at home, but pitifully, I think it happened. And possibly because of that, I find myself clinging to my Florida-native identity even more now when discussing the weather with customers!

On the bright side, Chicago winters are so totally easy now. Ha!

Oh, yes. Books, including two that are on my short summer TBR list:


SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED
Jon Ronson

Bethany always picks good books for her months of book club (I call us the Interrobangs, but I’m not sure anyone else cares), and this month was not an exception. Non-fiction is my weakness, and not in the admirable way: I enjoy non-fic, I enjoy learning from it, and I’m always happy to have-read it, but picking it up is not my natural state. So when I crashed on my boyfriend’s couch and read 90 pages of this straight-through while he played video games, I was a little surprised at myself. But it really is just good: Ronson does an excellent job at weaving a narrative that I got pleasantly stuck in, and the subject matter is just lurid enough.


BONE GAP
Laura Ruby

I never felt a strong opinion on this one. Not while reading it, not when I finished it up, and not now. It’s this slow, but not boring, sort of magical realism that sneaks up on you. It’s also YA, but that doesn’t stick out much at all. Possibly the best description, now that I’m forcing myself there, is deliciously subtle.

I doubt I will, because I’m only a re-reader at the rarest times, but there’s a part of me that feels like I’d only really understand this the second time through and I don’t mind that feeling one bit.


ENDER’S GAME
Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game! Isn’t it the absolutely best when a hyped-up book, whether by the media or your boyfriend, lives fully up to expectations? I’ve already read the next, Speaker for the Dead, and I’m waiting for the third on hold. I’m happily open to carrying on until I’ve read all dozen or so in this universe, however long that takes me.

And this is definitely making me want to expand my sci-fi repertoire, so I’m taking all book recs.

 


THE FORGETTING TIME
Sharon Guskin

I have a habit, when I’ve read too much since the last post to cover everything, of picking out just what I’m excited to write something about. But every reading life has so-so moments, and this time I’m including one of mine. There was nothing I particularly didn’t like about The Forgetting Time, and I was really looking forward to the “reincarnation from both an academic and narrative perspective” premise, and the excerpts from real-to-life books on the topic were a great add-in.

But I was bored. And not the bored of a difficult novel, or the bored of a dry text, because both of those have reasons and a sense of accomplishment when you push through or even grow into them. Between a few admittedly fascinating bits, I kept forgetting I was reading this.


ENDER’S GAME
Brandon Freaking Sanderson

Finally, this was 88 pages of extremely bizarre bliss. Mr. Leeds is not insane: he asserts that because insanity is  partially defined by an inability to function through and even enjoy life because of one’s disorder, he can’t be. The fact that he has quite a few hallucinations that live with him and are all geniuses in their own fields? That have helped him crack impossible cases and made him infamous in the academic community? It’s irrelevant. He functions quite well, despite his recluse status, and enjoys his life just fine. But it does land him in an interesting situation involving a camera that can take pictures of the past.

But he is definitely, most certainly, not insane.

Basically, Sanderson is being ridiculous while being amazing at it.
(There’s a novel length sequel to this.)


WHAT’S UP NEXT

I picked I Capture the Castle for this month’s book club, and I have no regrets — even though I’ve read it before! (Review) On top of that, I’m trying to find that balance between reading new releases and engaging what’s collecting real dust on my shelves and digital dust of my wishlists.

These coming months, that means newer titles like Modern Lovers, The View from the Cheap Seats, and Sleeping Giants are all on my holds list, but also means I’m going to be waiting eagerly for the new-only-to-me next books in several series:  Xenocide (Ender’s Saga), The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad), and Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle series). And if I finally finish House of Mirth from my 6-book summer TBR list? All the better.

Books, Lately [Spring]

pages of the book as a bird flying away

Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

Woops! I went a bit without anything there, but I’ve definitely been reading plenty. Here’s just a few bits of what I’ve read over the past spring months.


10626594

THE SCORPIO RACES
Maggie Stiefvater

I gave this three stars right after reading it, largely because it took me a while to get into. But the atmosphere has seriously stuck with me, and I keep getting the itch to reread it, and now, months later, I absolutely remember it as five stars.

 


28118037

METALTOWN
Kristin Simmons

I recently interned for Browne and Miller Literary Associates, and when I spoke to one of the agents at a publishing fair before my interview, she gave me this ARC to check out. (I’m a big fan of any event I leave carrying more books than I entered with.) I read it quickly, though I can’t remember if it even came up at my interview, but I really enjoyed it. And, through one of my first tastes of actually getting to meet an author I’ve read, I can also tell you that Kristen Simmons is also a ridiculously nice person with several other titles now waiting for me on my shelf.



10194157SHADOW AND BONE

Leigh Bardugo

The ebook for this makes reviewing it tricky for me: at around 50% of the ebook, I realized I was tired of the story. My library loan was about to be up, and I had other things I wanted to read. I eventually checked it out again and gave it a shot, and, to my great surprise and consternation, arrived at the epilogue at 55%. What? It turns out the Kindle edition has several long excepts of the sequels. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but no wonder I quit reading! If that had been only halfway, then it was seriously dragging. But if I had known, I would have been much more excited to enjoy the climax and the set up for the next book.

So I find it hard to review. The world was enjoyable, the concept interesting, and I always love anything like a magic school, even if that aspect won’t be in future books (I assume). I’m looking forward to picking up the second book soon and giving that a much fairer shot!


25852870

ELIGIBLE
Curtis Sittenfeld

I feel ill-qualified to review this. While it is its own story, it’s also intrinsically tied to its source matter. And while I’ve read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, and love the BCC miniseries, I am not a Jane fangirl (and am now preparing for a series of “how could you say this!” feelings directed my way). And I’m also pretty far from a purist when it comes to retellings! But I was greatly amused the entire way through, and the ways Sittenfeld mussed with the basics of the story were ingenious (IMHO, obviously!).


WHAT’S UP NEXT

Everything! At least, I wish that were somehow possible. I’ve been looking at my list of titles I want to get through this year (a goodreads shelf I keep that largely is meant to hold me accountable to get through more and more nonfiction each year), and I’m realizing I still have most of it left. So I need to get on that!

7 Lessons from Temping

So I know that after six weeks of data entry temping, I’m probably not an expert on the temping world. But just like anyone else who knows just a little bit about something, I’m totally going to take full advantage and exploit my experience for a blog post.

Just kidding. I obviously mean I’m going to humbly share what little I’ve learned from temping.

Here it is.

7. Most people who temp in Chicago seem to be actors.

In fact, they’re probably all actors. I might even be an actor and just don’t know it.

6. Temps (obviously, I suppose) don’t get ergonomic workspace set ups.

This means your copy-and-paste-finger muscles will be sore for a while. Really, it’s just weird to be so aware of the muscles in your fingers at all.

5. No one tells the temps anything.

Good luck finding out about the food you can order for delivery, or even finding the bathroom, latte machine, or beer fridge. (Why is there a beer fridge in an office? Because apparently millenials + startups = beer fridge.)

4. The real employees may not ever bother to talk to you.

Why would they? You were only supposed to be there for two weeks, and your job has nothing to do with anyone else’s. Or, on the other hand, your supervisor might just give you all comp tickets for Disney on Ice. Be ok with both situations.

(Unless you’re temping in your chosen field, in which case, make people talk to you! Network! Invade! But if you’re at a startup in the car dealerships world typing in data? Maybe don’t worry about it.)

3. Sometimes, at the office, you’ll hear that there was poop on the men’s bathroom floor.

The lesson you learn: don’t ask questions about the men’s bathroom.

(I wish I didn’t have to mention that story, but at the same time, how could I not mention that story?)

2. There is a car dealership in the US called ‘Dick Says Yes.’

Also, posing with a lion, tiger, monkey, and whale is a surefire way to sell cars: http://www.calworthington.com/longbeach/

And finally, most importantly:

 1. Be nice and share your snacks.
Your fellow data-entry professionals can either become friends or people who tell you to shush every time you sneeze twice.
And if they are very strange, sometimes they become both.

Books, Lately [Winter]

pages of the book as a bird flying away

Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

Happy March! It’s been a weird year so far, between semi-unemployment and temping and not having a concrete idea of “what’s next!” for my life, but there’s been some good things as well. Temping brought new friends, semi-unemployment has definitely helped (read: forced me to be better) with budgeting, and freelancing from home has given me the space to do things like start eating healthier, actually get my regular workout on, and volunteer and networking more.

The combo of temping and a loose schedule mean, for me at least, a lot of books but not a lot of blogging: so I’m super, super delayed for a Quick Lit. That said, lucky you (and lucky me), I’m not blogging on every book I’ve read since October.

Because that would be insane.

But here’s a good chunk of what I’ve read and loved over the past few months.


UPROOTED
Naomi Novik

Another world, magic, magic lessons, well-characterized protagonist–Uprooted had all the right ingredients, and it definitely had me loving the result.

This was the first book I cracked open (well, tapped on my Kindle) this year. I was hooked from the beginning. Actually, I was hooked well before that–from the except on Goodreads.

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. . . . They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.

The Wood is an excellent example of a non-human antagonist done well, though the turn everything takes at the end was a bit odd for my taste (and I normally don’t mind odd one bit.) Agniezska, well, she’s brilliant. And I don’t mean intellectually, though there’s that. But everything about her, every single flaw (and she has plenty), every strength, every quirk of personality—she may have made it to my favorite characters list (if I actually had one of those). Like this line: “I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn’t care: I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.” She makes some idioctic moves, at times frustratingly so, but I’ve found that if a character is done well, I don’t have to understand or agree with their choices to enjoy them as a character.

So, oops, that wasn’t actually much of anything about the book, but hey: if it sounds good, or you like high fantasy, just read it.

“I often fantasize about being able to read an amazing book again for the first time . . . — I think Uprooted is the closest I’ve ever come to what that would feel like.”
Nikki @ There Were Books Involved


YES, PLEASE
Amy Poehler

So here’s the thing with audiobooks: I was terrible at listening to them. I probably still am, but for a recent fluke. I temped at a startup doing data entry to six weeks at the beginning of the year, and it was the perfect set-up for listening to books (which, I should assure you, was 100% allowed).

It took me several runs (back when I actually ran) to get even a third of the way through this last, and then it sat on my phone for six months. But once I started listening at work, I finished in a couple of days. Amy Poehler is, obviously, extremely funny, but her insights on life and work and womenhood were brilliant. I like celebrity/comedian memoirs because their lives are far enough removed from mine that I rarely try to compare myself (and avoiding FOMO is always a little bit healthier), but they’ve still got plenty of excellent things to say about the regular-human aspects of their lives. (Although for what it’s worth, I’ve mostly stuck to some of the badass feminist lady icons so far, and that may play a part in my massive amounts of LIKE for these books.)

Final word: If you’re going to read Amy Poehler (or Felicia Day or Tina Fey, for that matter), don’t. Get the audiobook and let them read it to you. They’re better at it anyways.


ENCLAVE
OUTPOST

HORDE
Ann Aguirre

This is a YA post-apocalyptic triology, so it could easily have felt like retread ground. I even went into it thinking it was going to be merely so-so (if not bad) based on what sounded like a completely bizarre premise and most likely reading some bad review ages ago that subconsciously colored it for me. When I actually picked it up from the library, it was mostly because this kind of reading (provided it’s not bad bad), is nice and easy comfort reading.

So, I was wrong. The bizarre premise, while indeed bizarre, is not the entire series. And while you initally raise an eyebrow at the idea that the society that Deuce lives in the all that’s left of the world, the worldbuilding gets more and more interesting as you go. And yes, there’s still plenty to raise an eyebrow at, but personally I have no problem with some suspension of disblief when venturing into speculative fiction’s territory.

This is not amazing fiction. But it’s a good story, and Deuce, our hardcore, 15-year-old, essentially-a-child-soldier protagonist, has some of the most interesting YA character development I’ve read in awhile. After all, she goes from being an underground-dwelling, ignorant of the world, starving warrior into… well, she’s still a warrior, but the rest might be spoilers. Let’s just say, the rate at which she’s forced to reevaluate everything she knows about the world? It’s dizzying.


THE MARTIAN 
Andy Weir

Oh, HELLO, beautiful nerdy book. When I finished Yes, Please and needed another audiobook, this was an easy decision–and one of the better decisions I’ve made in 2016.

I don’t feel like I need to say much: this book (and its movie) has gotten so much great review already. I saw the movie first, with Isaac, and we both loved it. Not worth the extra for the 3D tickets, but every bit worth it besides that.


THE RAVEN BOYS
THE DREAM THIEVES
BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE

Maggie Steifvater

Let me start by telling you that the fourth book in this series drops on the 26th, so if you like fantasy, clever YA, and beautiful writing, you can start now. I’m a big believer of holding out, whenever possible, till a series is fully released. And if I wasn’t so quickly hooked on these, I might have managed to stretch them for the fourth! But no. They were way too good, and I couldn’t help myself.

I’m not even going to bother trying to describe these. There’s too much in three books, and I don’t even know where to start. If you ask me in person, I’m sure I can ramble long enough to give you an idea, but you’ll save time by just checking out Goodreads or just starting the first one–I recommend the latter.


SIMON VS. THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA
Becky Albertalli

A lot of YA gives me this weird, retroactive FOMO, like maybe I missed out by not having nearly as much freedom as many YA characters have, or not being as popular, witty, funny, or well-read. And while I know most of that is BS, and many of these books present a very cookie cutter type of high-school experience that simply doesn’t look like mine did, it can still take me out of the story sometimes.

But this book? Man. This book actually made me remember high school fondly, and want to think about it, write about it. The funny moments, the silly moments, having weird but awesome friends, doing theater and being in musicals, and even not being particularly popular—but, for most part, not really caring too much about it because we were having fun.

Granted, I couldn’t exactly relate to Simon’s experiences of being a gay teenager who hasn’t come out to his friends yet, or being blackmailed by the jerk who wants to be set up with his friend, or having a secret email pen pal who he’s swiftly falling for—but whose identity, other than being a fellow student at his school, is still a total mystery to him.

But even with all the ways I can’t relate, Simon as a narrator quickly pulls me into his story and makes me care, and laugh, and feel, and thoroughly enjoy the 6 hours and 45 minutes of my favorite audiobook to date.


THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY
Katja Millay

I picked this for book club, because a brooding YA sounded quite right for February. And I’m proud to say this was the first month in several in which all four of us actually finished the book! Or maybe I should be less proud of that, because I’m one of the ones who frequently doesn’t finish…

Anyways.

I read this while on vacation (though more of a working vacation) visiting my family in Florida, and I plowed through probably the last 100 pages one of the last nights I was there while everyone else was out. It’s a bit slow at times, and there’s a ton about Nastya and Josh’s pasts and motivations that are mysteries for much of the book, but Millay’s choice to eek out information slowly works well with the story.

Sea is sad and melancholy and romantic and sometimes raw. But it can also be sweet and redeeming and lovely, and, best of all, a paperback that kept me glued to it for as long as it lasted.


STEELHEART
Brandon Sanderson

And last, but oh oh oh definitely not least, a new-to-me triology from Brandon Sanderson. Since this is the kind of post that I write over quite a few days (even longer, for this one), I’ve actually just finished the second book in the series and it was SO GOOD. I am so eager to get the third book, Calamity, from the library soon.

Steelheart is a supervillain story. And it is not a superhero story as well. We’re ten or so years after Calamity rose, a new star that brought with it a catastrophe: people gaining superpowers and, without fail, using them for as much destructiontion, desecration, and despotism as possible. The world can’t keep up, and everything’s changed. No one is fighting back anymore.

No one, except the Recknoners: teams of regular humans who travel around and kill Epics as quietly as possible. David is determined to join the Reckoners and convince them to kill Steelheart, the ruler of Newcago, who killed his father ten years ago when he was a kid.

And fantasticness ensues. If you like fantasy or superpowers or villains or rebellions or spies, just read this thing.

And I’ll try to handle myself till I get the my hands on the third book.


WHAT’S UP NEXT

Calamity, obviously. Besides that? I’m reading Boy, Snow, Bird and The Scorpio Races right now, and I maaaay try Americanah after that.  Also, Mary Karr’s Lit has been on my nightstand waiting for me to actually give it a real try for awhile, and I have Shadow and Bone checked out right now. That last one, unfortunately (or fortunately?), will likely pull me into another series rabbit hole. Oh, and Isaac has been raving about Ready Player One ever since he put it down, so I’m basically obligated to read it ASAP.

Until next month!

Small Goals for Spring

Hey hey, it’s goals time! Granted, it’s been nearly six months since I made the last ones, but that means I should be able to mark every single one off, right?

Ha.

1. Go through all of my things and find order. For a while I honestly only poked at the junk I’ve carried between three apartments and occasionally threw a thing or two away. But in the past week I’ve been sorting through more boxes and baskets of random stuff, so I’m giving this a strikethrough on account of progress. It’s definitely not a done deal, and I won’t be a minimalist anytime soon, but progress!
2. Continue cooking, experimenting, and finding healthier eating habits. I’ve been buying produce, eating salad (sometimes), cooking a lot more, and generally choosing better things when I eat at home. We’ll see if it sticks.
3. Get out of this house more. I could have struck this out if I we were still in early February instead, because I was temping full time for six weeks at the beginning of the year. But I’m back to working from home again, and I could definitely stand to get out the house for at least a little while every day. Or at least almost every day.
4. Get used to reading more at home (instead of on public transit!) and finish some books. Despite the fact that in January and February I was either working full time or traveling, I can still see I’ve gotten better at this. Not completely, though: Hulu does have its siren call, after all. But I made 75 books in ’15 and so far have 18 for ’16!
5. Sew. This is nearly a 100% fail. I did hem one pair of pants when I wasn’t sure what the typical dress would be for my last temp job. Let’s just say I should have done them by hand, because my machine hemming on those… I’ll likely be redoing them. I’ll make this a goal again sometime, but I think I’ll ease up on my expectations for awhile.

So a blurry 3/5 isn’t bad, right? Now for the spring:

1. Do my taxes. Sadly, as a freelancer, I will not be getting a tax return, but will be paying instead. Still the sooner I do them, the sooner I can heal. 😉
2. Work out 5 days a week. This could very easily be considered a big goal at any other time–but I’ve actually done just that so far this month. I started using Daily Burn so that I can super easily chromecast workouts from my phone to the TV, and so far their Cardio Sculpt workouts have been pretty great. I’ve had some specific motivations to finally get healthier, so my (sort of) small goal is to keep that up for the rest of the month, and beyond.
3. Network more! I’m at a point in my career where, well, I need some new opportunities. So I recently became a board member of Chicago Women in Publishing and will be getting up the nerve to do lots of scary, scary networking!
4. Read my own books, specifically at least one of the potentially great nonfictions I have laying around. I have at least three that I’ve already started, so finishing one should probably happen.
5. Hang art on our walls. Most of our walls, including in my bedroom, are still sadly blank or tentatively decorated. It’s time!

We’ll see how I do on these between now and… well, anytime between two and six months from now!

Books, Lately [Fall]

pages of the book as a bird flying away
Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

Woops, it’s been a few months since I last did any book reviews. Aaaand that’s because I haven’t read many books to review! Moving and switching from having a commute to working at home both led to my reading plummeting. (Plus, I reread the entire Lunar Chronicles series in anticipation of the final book, Winter, and that didn’t help either!) So here’s a few of the books I’ve managed to read in the last couple of months anyway.

YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (almost)
FELICIA DAY

 

I was so happy to get this from my library relatively soon after it came out. I only knew of Day from a few things, mostly from Dollhouse, but I knew she was a nerd fan-favorite, and was watching her Youtube series within a few chapters. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) cemented celeb memoirs as some of my favorites, especially if they’re written as funny and intelligent as Day’s.

 


WHY NOT ME?
Mindy Kaling

By the time I was halfway through Kaling’s latest, I’d started and marathoned at least the first season of her show, The Mindy Project. What can I say? Reading or watching Mindy begets wanting to read or watch more Mindy.

On the other hand, I hardly remember anything from the book now, a few weeks later. So, nothing life changing, but definitly entertaining. I still prefered her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? That one, I may actually reread sometime. This one? Probably not.


SUICIDE SQUAD (Volumes 1-5)
Matt Kindt, Patrick Zircher, Andre Coelho, Scott Hanna

In the interest in keeping the spark alive in my friendship with my best friend from my home town, I read the first 5 volumes of the new suicide squad for her. She loves Harley Quinn, and now I do too.

These are definitely dark, it’s the Joker’s girlfriend and a team made up of criminals with do-this-or-die commands after all, but it’s dark fun, and I won’t complain if she keeps handing them to me to catch up whenever I visit home.

 


VICIOUS
V.E. Schwab

 

Vicious  was delightful, enough that I immediately knew I would be gifting it to a friend who particularly likes villains (and already has one shout-out in this post). Vicious is what happens when a couple of hyper-smart young men learn of the existence of EOs (ExtraOrdinaries), people who have developed super powers, turn themselves into them, and then end up arch enemies. Vicious is what happens when there’s really no good guy involved, and if there is, it’s not who everyone thinks it is. And Vicious is what happens when the villain of the story finds himself having to save everyone.


WHAT’S UP NEXT

What’s up next? Well, hopefully some reading will start happening again. 😉

Small Goals for Fall

Let’s start out by saying that this list will not include the words, “Get a job.” Obviously finding more work besides my current freelancing opportunities is something I would very much like to do, but it is also not a small goal.

I’m also comfortable that while some of these are easily quantifiable, some are not. In some areas, progress will be just as important as success, and in this transition time, progressive goals make more sense anyways.

  1. Go through all of my things and find order. I’ve just moved, and simultaneously have more and less space than before. By living with roommates again, I’ve gained more living space, more room to sort through my things, more chance to be organized. But at the same time, we have almost no linen-closet-type storage space, so it’s a sort of forced chance to declutter the possessions I’ve mindlessly carried with me since leaving schoolv.
  2. Continue cooking, experimenting, and finding healthier eating habits. Like breakfast, fruits and veggies, less snacking, the usual. I’m already eating at home almost completely, so that helps a ton, but I’m still working on being sure my cooking is actually healthy once in awhile. This is, in some ways, a big goal because it emcompasses so much. But I’m already moving towards it, and maintaining that momentum is the small goal.
  3. Get out of this house more. It’s been easy to become even worse of a homebody than I already am. I’m happy just being around the house, for the moment, and going out further than walking distance requires either a much longer transit option or planning ahead of time to borrow a car. And going places in walking distance means, well, walking. But I want to know Logan Square better, so I’m going to have to suck it up and get out.
  4. Get used to reading more at home (instead of on public transit!) and finish some books. Self explantory.
  5. Sew. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I decided to move in with roommates, knowing I would likely have more space to set up my machine. I have a mental list of clothes to alter that’s almost embarrassingly long.

Theoretically, I’ll post when we get into winter with some new goals and happy/shamefaced/both update on how I did on these. So, theoretically, see you then!

When everything changes all at once

I’m learning a totally different life this month.

Three weeks ago, I left my job at Moody Publishers. I went from working 30 hours a week at a publishing house and freelancing on the side, to freelancing as much as I can with job hunting on the side.

Two days later, I moved from a studio apartment in Lincoln Park, where I’d lived alone for 15 months in walking distance of most non-work things, to a three bedroom in Logan Square with two others girls within walking distance of, well, quite a bit less.

I used to use public transit to get everywhere outside my neighborhood: work, friends, downtown, or social things in other neighborhoods. Now, while I’ll likely still use CTA at times, I’m doing a lot more driving (borrowing my roomate’s van or boyfriend’s car) or making plans *with* one of my roommates and them driving, when I used to go more places alone.

I used to be alone by default, and with people by choice (well, outside of the office). It was occasionally lonely, but I was mostly content. Now I live with two people. I’m still alone during the work day for the most part, but the evening default is easy coexisting or hanging out. And while it’s different, I’m still content.

I used to read around 6 books a month, and did most of that while traveling to and from work, to events, or on lunch break. Now that I’m home more, I’m relearning to make time at home to read.

I used to blog for a few minutes at lunchtime, getting thoughts out when my mind needed to do something personally productive before getting back to business. Now I have little routine (yet), and would need to set aside blogging time.

Come to think of it, there were a lot of little things I did or pondered while on busses and trains, all of which will either be reintegrated or let go.

Basically, everything changed.

A job to freelancing. Living in one room to having a living room and a dining room and a laundry/pantry nook and a porch. Living in a commercial, busy area to a residential, slower one.

Feeling stuck to feeling like I could go a lot of different directions now. And the latter being about as frightening as the first.

It’s been a really good shift. I’m sorting through things I’d been letting clutter up. I’m cooking more. I’m eating out signifcantly less (and spending money less in general, both naturally and out of neccessity). I’m looking into new freelance opportunities. I have more space to spread out, I love having a dishwasher and laundry for the first time in years, and there’s so much natural light.

The transition has downsides too, of course. I’m nervous for the future: I don’t quite know what I want to do or what I’m going to do or how I’m going to do any of it. As I look for jobs and work, I’m torn between finding something full-time, or finding a way to make it on less so I can consider school, or an internship, or more freelance opportunities. And in that uncertainty, there’s the worry of finding anything at all.

I have more freelance than I expected right here at the start of the transition, and that’s been a huge boon, both to my sense of self during this time and to my budget. But I’m struggling to find a routine that works to keep up with it and find my way internally at the same time.

I’m nervous but happy at the same time.
Anxious but content.
Scared but hopeful.

I don’t know where I’m going. And if a lot more time goes by without figuring something out, I might lose it a little.

But for right now, for these weeks, for a bit longer, not knowing is OK.

Books, Lately [August]

pages of the book as a bird flying away
Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

So I read eleven books this month, and it felt amazing. There were definitely several shorter novels, and that helped, but I felt more motivated to just keep reading than I have in awhile, and I liked it. We’ll see if I can even remotely keep that up. I definitely don’t feel like keeping it up for the reviews, so I’m only mentioning six here.

WE NEVER ASKED FOR WINGS
Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I  received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was pleasantly suprised Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers was much deeper and richer than what I (for no real reason) expected. So I hoped for the same from We Never Asked for Wings, and it didn’t disappoint me.

Family, race, immigration laws, growing up (even if it’s later than you were supposed to), and love and all kinds of good things are here. It wasn’t quite as unique as Language of Flowers, but it was just as enjoyable. This was also one of those books that makes me feel pretty confident saying that even though we generally think of non-fiction as the books you really learn from, you can learn plenty from fiction.


THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING
Erika Johansen

This was unexpectedly different from the first book because it introduced some sci-fi elements to the first book’s purely fantasy feel. But it was good, and still got me wishing for the next installment just as much as the first one did.


MAGONIA
Maria Dahvana Headley

“Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time.”

The premise of Magonia was particulary unique. Lots of teen angst in the beginning, which might annoy some, but it felt deserved here. And a whole other world in the sky called Magonia? Yes, please. I didn’t really expect the blue people (or talking birds), but execution of these weirder elements was fun, most of the time. Less fun: realizing I had just commited to another series when I thought this was a one-off book! I bought this, but I’ll likely stick to the library for the next one.


PERSEPOLIS
Marjane Satrapi

The last few months were a bit of a book slump for me, so the amount I read this month was a nice suprise, but not unexplainable: meandering through Persepolis in a couple of hours was exactly the motivation I needed to check out a few of the shorter books on my to-read list, get back in a reading groove, and hopefully get me through some longer pieces too.

Persepolis is a graphic novel, and it was a really nice change of pace–and suprisingly good beach reading, despite the heavier topics. It was two hours of education on another culture that I didn’t know I needed–and now I want more. Basically, it was just as good as everyone says.


THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
Mark Haddon

At my first job in a diner / ice cream shop scooping desserts when I was 14, this book was inexplicably always sitting behind the counter. I picked it up and read a few pages once or twice (there were definite lulls at that place, which might start to explain the less-than-minimum wages), but never finished, and always just remembered it as seeming “weird.” I’m so glad I finally read it.

This was for a work book club. It’s from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum writing a mystery book about who killed the next door neighbor’s dog. The brief chapters went by extremely fast, and I was never bored with it.


ELANTRIS
Brandon Sanderson

Ooooh Sanderson, you already had my love with Mistborn, but Elantris sealed the deal. I am officially your fan. Elantris showed a different side of Sanderson because it was self-contained (as opposed to a huge triology), but it was a lovely other side. Others have mentioned that it does show through the writing that it’s his earliest work, and I agree, but it’s not neccessarily a failing. The premise is big and complex and engaging and even though I was reading this after almost 7 really fast reads, I barely realized this was twice the size of those.

It may have helped that I spent the better part of a Sunday finishing it, but everyone does that once in awhile, right?


WHAT’S UP NEXT

I really don’t know. I’m meandering through a few different things–my reading burst of last month has definitely slowed in the face of some heavy duty job hunting. I am realizing it’s been a few months since I focused at all on non-fiction, so I will definitely be trying to fit some in here at the end of summer.