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.

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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.

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?

Books, Lately [July]

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 apparently these posts become just as much about my life surrounding each book in question as about the book itself. Which may or may not be a good thing. I suppose those already reading my reviews get a better taste of who I am, but anyone who would read life-posts but doesn’t read book-posts probably isn’t going to read the latter to get the former.

If anyone reads anything here, that is.

Solution: blog more.

Obstacle: all of the excuses in the world.

Conclusion: indecision and writer’s block and I’ll probably just see you next month for another book post, kay?

THE LIBRARY AT MOUNT CHAR
Scott Hawkins

So sometimes you read something on a total whim, and sometimes you request books off NetGalley based on very, very little. And then sometimes those books are meh, and clearly you should choose more carefully.

And other times an awesome book reinforces your laziness. This is one of those.

Don’t you love when a fantasy author takes mythology you know of and goes a little crazy with it and gives you wonderful backstory and interpretation for that mythology? This *isn’t* one of those. I don’t recognize a single bit of the mythology in here (though that doesn’t mean much), and Hawkins doesn’t baby you through explaining. You’re tossed into a world of gods and ancient powers and a library with all of the knowledge of this age (as opposed to earlier ages, obviously) and pocket universes and suns that are made of a single pure emotion and lions.

So have fun and good luck figuring it out as you go.


SILVER BAY
Jojo Moyes

I don’t have a lot to say for this one. It’s earlier Jojo Moyes, and not nearly as good as her recent stuff. But judged on it’s own caliber and not against what we now know she can do with a story, it’s… still just decent. It moved sooo slooow and I wished Liza’s backstory was revealed sooner as the tragedy informed so much of her character. The slow reveal just added to the slowness. Did I mention this was a bit slow?


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Robin Sloan

Time to talk book club, because book club is clearly not going to get its own post anytime soon.

So, I started a book club two months ago, because in the span of a week two different people told me if I started one, I should let them know. (Sometimes you realize the world just might be trying to tell you something.)

There were five of us (and now there are only four, so if you’re interested…) and we’ve only met twice, but it’s been pretty great. Fair warning: there’s not a *ton* to talk about with this book, especially as opposed to last month’s Peace Like a River, but I actually liked this book a lot better than last month’s. It’s a lot of fun, and goes quickly, and is all about books and secret organizations. So worth a book club that was mostly just wine and life-talk.


ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
Anthony Doerr

Let’s just start with the confession, huh? I haven’t technically “finished” this book. I’ve read approximately 70%, and that includes the last 20%, so that counts for something!

Twas the night before morning work-book-club and all through the studio, I was frantically pulling up reviews with spoilers trying to decide if I should stay up all night finishing the book or just not go or go and pretend I’d read things I hadn’t.

The compromise: read some spoilery reviews, then read the ending. So how could I possibly have appreciated this book properly without that middle bit? Well, maybe I didn’t appreciate it “properly,” but I really did appreciate it. The massive amount of detail is exquisite and somehow didn’t even bore me–quite a feat.

I’m on hold for a renew of this to (maybe) go back and read what I missed!


WHAT’S UP NEXT

More summer reading, catching up on some eGalley’s, this month’s book club pick, and maybe finally actually reading Gaiman’s American Gods.