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!

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.

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!

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.

5 things not to do when your life is a bit overwhelmed

Why am I overwhelmed? Well, because I’m a 20-something. Wasn’t that a given? Do we even have a choice? But specifically, I’ll get to that at the end. Maybe. Unless I get too overtaken by feelings to finish.

1. Avoid putting things away, specifically clothes.

This is a broad one. We’re talking laundry, of course. But we’re also talking returns I need to get in the mail (that Nordstrom sale, seriously), and, even more space-consuming, my stacks of clothes to sell or donate. It’s great that I cleaned out my closet (and that I’m returning a lot of what I ordered!), but it all adds up real fast in a studio. After a couple of busy weeks and in the midst of a couple of big changes happening, my place is a mess, and at least half of it is stuff I’m trying to get out of here.

I need to get on this.

2. Feel like being social will help and then make too many plans

Ok, this one is obviously too much of a generalization. So often, being social does help, and working on building and connecting is great. Feeling isolated is typically a negetive, and I’ve learned that if I want to go have people to go bowling with on a Saturday, I might need to plan it and invite them (and they will come, and it will be great, and I will not win, unfortunately.) But I might have to accept that at the moment, my relationships might have to build a tiny bit more slowly, and that’s ok, and I can alway get back to planning things to bring people together after things calm down.

That said, I think we’re still going to go do karaoke two weekends from now, so let me know if you want in.

3. Ignore your dishes

The self-loathing isn’t worth it. Put on some music or an audiobook and go do them. (Or move somewhere with a dishwasher. Whatever works for you, though you probably don’t want to transport dirty dishes when moving. Obviously. Anyways.)

4. Start marathining a new show.

Ah, so I’m actually doing fine on this one for the moment, but I’m including it as a reminder, because I am so tempted to break my stress by finding something to watch mindlessly for a while. I’ve mostly been picking up a book instead, which should get me points. (Except that I read most of a 400+ page Brandon Sanderson novel yesterday, and maybe that wasn’t my best use of time, but it was Sunday for heaven’s sake, and it was restful!)

Aaaand, here’s the big one:

5. Apartment-hunt and job-hunt at the same time

Because really, these take so much time. Each. While neither process is pretty, neither is the end of the world.

Unless you need to do both at the same time, then it’s a little bit the end of the world.

And unfortunately there’s no way out of it, unless one of you has a fast-forward device to get me a few months ahead of this.

But where would the fun be in that?

What are ten things you still want to learn?

learning
1. The first is entirely due to Netflix. Is it weird that I never cared about art history before watching White Collar—but now want to know all of it? I’m pretty much determined now to eventually take some sort of class on this.

2. Science. There is a lot that I’m missing. Because I went to Moody.

3. Kick-boxing. Is anyone in Chicago interested in taking a class? I’d need to find something really inexpensive, unfortunately.

4. Coding.

5. To use InDesign better, to know more about what Photoshop can do, and to know how to use Illustrator at all.

6. How to dredge up the energy every evening to keep up a clean apartment. Or cleanish, you know, whatever.

7. How to sew my own clothes: I’m starting to work on this one! As in, I have pretty much everything I need for a dress pattern, except printing out the pattern. And practicing on the machine I haven’t used in years, first.

8. Pretty much all of the skills involved in being a spy, a con, a space pirate, Arrow, and/or a Time Lord. I’d also accept merely being outfitted with the Intersect in my brain like Chuck (but with better control), and/or allomancy.

9. To draw. A friend and I have started working through a “You can draw too!” sort of book, and by started, I mean we’re both terrible still. We also just sort of skipped a month (or so…) without planning to, so, this may or may not work out. (Sarah, oops?)

10. To be moderately successful at being a functioning adult.

This is not, by any means, all of the things I want to learn. But you have to start somewhere, right? Also, a longer list would become depressing, especially if I have to include stuff like “holding my breathe underwater properly” and other embarrasing things.

Yeah.

What are yours?

When you couldn’t be bothered to fix your old “About Me”

I wrote an “About Me” sometime in 2011 when I began this WordPress blog, and then never bothered after that. I left it up so long I finally added “from 2011” at the top to explain anything that felt out of date, and another time made a couple of tiny adjustments to make it less dated. And then, finally, I just removed the page entirely. I’ve only just gotten around to working on a new one. Or, you know, starting to.

I think it was easier to describe myself in my teen years because the need to be able to was so strong. That, and in a strange way I think I knew myself better then. I didn’t know who I would be. And I didn’t really have any idea who I should be. But I had an idea who I was, in those moments, and I ran with that.

Finishing school kind of screwed that whole thing up.

I still don’t know who I will be, I only have a slightly better idea of who I should be, and heaven knows I don’t always know who I am. To be honest, half the time I think the question and concept of “knowing who I am” is flawed anyways.

But the funny thing is, the way I described myself in 2011 isn’t half bad.

Overanalytical, argumentative, cynical, hyperactive, stubborn, indecisive, facetious, innapropriate, impatient. My failings.

My passions? Harder to define. Learning and knowing. In the past, and hopefully soon the present, my education. Showing people that most of life’s questions have more than one right answer and we should probably stop hating one another over them. Laughter, being overcome by it and causing it. Showing people love through words and actions. My faith. Words. Sentences. Punctuation and grammar.

Just like you. And you, and you, and you over there with the brown coat.

Now, I don’t think my failures or passions make me that much different from the general populace, but they do make me a bit different from the specific people I come into everyday contact with.

I’m less cyncical indecisive innapropriate… ok, actually, the failings I listed are still pretty accurate. If I were to write them now I might reprioritize them. I might add “listless” or “lost” (although I’ve learned that this one might just be a general symptom of being a 20-something.)

I still wouldn’t list successes or positive traits. I have them, but sometimes they fail me and and sometimes I don’t live up to them and sometimes I lose them entirely. I’d rather not set that standard for myself, here, in public. (I’ll save that for any future job interviews).

And my passions, though using “passions” feels overly passionate now, are a bit immaturely written, but still—there’s still me in there. But now I’d add books, and design, and good feminism, and a need for community.

And through learning about my passions and failings, and how they shape me, I get these glimpses of who I’m maybe, perhaps, potentially meant to be.

This blog is occasionally about that.

The rest of the time, I write to amuse myself.

And hopefully, once in while, you.

The biggest difference? Now I mostly write about books. I hope you don’t mind.

Life, Currently // Three

Time //  Wednesday night, finishing up a few posts that aren’t time sensitive that I can actually schedule. Blogging ahead? That’s a thing?!

Reading // Mistborn. I’m madly in love with this universe right now, and all my other books are just going to have to deal with it.

Watching // Lately I’ve just been keeping up with my usual shows, but I did catch up on a few months of Arrow last week. It’s one of the shows I just like better serialized, so I’m more likely to skip it week by week and then binge. Flash, on the otherhand, I can’t get enough of. I usually watch it the night it airs.

And has anyone else been watching iZombie and Younger? Both of these shows have been great so far in their first seasons, and I’m planning to keep up with them. I just really hope they don’t go the early cancellation way of last years A to Z and Selfie, especially considering Selfie was getting genuinely good towards the end.

Loving // Spring clothes. Short sleeves, new shorts, and I even made it into a bathing suit in Florida two weeks ago—outside!

Raving about // How sad is it to discover an amazing place mere blocks from my apartment when I’ve already lived here some 8 months? Or rather, how awesome, but lame to not find it sooner? The Panini Republic is on Diversey, three blocks east of Clark, and so, so, so tasty.

Working on // The same giant project I’ve been on for a while now, and I’m starting to really look forward to smaller projects with quicker turnovers. Outside of freelancing, I’ve itching to finish updating and polishing my resume for future use.

Anticipating // Two of my best and weirdest friends from home are visiting in a couple of weeks, and it’s going to be crazy good to finally show them around where I live now. I’m just praying for good weather, because Kelly’s a true wimp with the cold.

Considering // I’ve been thinking about the reasons I rarely get too serious here, and considering if that’s something I want to change. I think I do, eventually, but I’m not sure I’m in a place for it right now. Either way, I know I want to try my hand at a little more “everyday” blogging. We’ll see.

When it’s possible to enjoy both ebooks and real books (and libraries for both!)

In my first year of college in Chicago, I fell madly in love with the main Chicago Public Library.

It’s huge and amazing and I just loved entering. It’s got gorgeous architecture, and it always felt like a shame that the North side of the building was flush against the elevated tracks of the Brown line. (In a contradiction I had no problems with, I did not think it was a shame that I could take the Brown line and be immediately outside the building.)

Public Library and State Street at night, Chicago, IL, US
Public Library and State Street at night, Chicago, IL, US [© Oleksandr Dibrova / Dollar Photo Club]

 

(Ok, really, being in love with the library was hardly a new thing in my life. But there had never been one this pretty before.)

Unfortunately, I was in school and I didn’t have as much time for reading-for-me as I would have liked—and I wasn’t making the time either. I was actually in a bit of a silly  reading drought brought on by a critical misunderstanding of what sort of books I was “supposed” to read now that I wasn’t of YA age [answer: it doesn’t have to be all classics (and classics don’t have to be Jane Austen!)!] But somewhere in there, in the midst of the bits of reading I was doing, I discovered how to use Overdrive for Kindle. [I can borrow books from the library to my Kindle? Whaaaat?] It is quite possibly my favorite discovery of the past 24 years. Even with only reading a handful of books a year, and still visiting the CPL for stacks of books that would likely become did-not-finish books, most of my reading switched over to Kindle.

Once I remembered how much I liked reading voraciously (finding new genres helped a lot) and ended my drought, I was a total Kindle junkie. Of course! Overdrive was free and took much less effort than multiple trips into the Loop, and in a tiny dorm room there simply wasn’t space for many paperbacks.

But, after graduating, there was space in an actual apartment.

Conveniently (inconveniently), I work just two blocks from a fabulous used bookstore, Open Books*. One of the greatest (worst) things about OB is how well they’ve uilize their giant windows for displays: over the past two years I’ve probably gone in a dozen times to buy something I saw in the window walking by on the way home.

I started accumulating.

And because I was buying physcial books, I knew I should probably re-learn how to read them. Which may sound silly, but I was so deep in an ebook groove that it has taken some intentional effot: remembering to take them with me, reading at home more, not minding the weight, not minding only having one book in my hands at a time.

I still finish my ebooks much faster, but the gap is slowly closing.

Yet even though I graduated a almost two years ago now, I’ve never taken advantage of the library two blocks from my first apartment, or, now, the one that’s a fifteen/twenty minute walk away.

But I should, right? I feel like I’m missing something in my life, with the only library I frequent being a webpage. Now that I’ve been pushing myself to put down my Kindle more and pick up hard copies instead, shouldn’t I be using the library?

This is a complicated question, which involves mentoning the dozen unread books already in my own used bookstore apartment.

But.

But libraries!

Hopefully I’ll give in soon—and fall in love again.

How does everyone else manage reading from so many different sources—digital and physical, puchasing and borrowing? Do you organize or prioritize somehow, or just read whatever suits you at the time?

 

*Open Books is moving quite a bit further away, and it is possibly the worst thing ever. My budget disagrees.