A goal has been met!

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This time a year ago, I had barely a hundred pages. Today, I reached 400. What a difference a year makes. Here’s to many more years writing and many more books.

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To fluorescent lights

How I hate thee

O fluorescent lights!

You burn my retinas by day

and haunt my dreams at night.

I know you exist to be suns

no matter how awful the weather

but if we need a manmade sun,

we surely can do better.

 

Since starting my first full time job in August, I have discovered the depths of my hatred for fluorescent lighting. So I decided to write a poem about it.

Check in #1

“Life piles up so fast that I have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections.”–Virginia Woolf. 

This quote has described many phases in my life, particularly in college, but seems especially salient right now. There’s been so much going on that I’ve barely been able to talk to my parents or think, let alone blog about things. I’ve also realized that I don’t do short posts about what’s going on with me. I do posts about bigger things such as questions or struggles that I’m having, but I don’t write about the day to day stuff. So here’s a little bit about the day to day stuff. A few of the things on this list aren’t small, but it’s been usually busy lately. Hopefully things will slow down now.

  • I got promoted at work! I’m going to be a full time reference clerk! It’s going to be incredibly different from my work in the children’s department. I was really unsure about it at first but as I’ve been trained, I’ve become less and less scared and more and more excited. I’ll get to build different skills and work with different people. I start the new job at the end of this month and we’ll see how this goes.
  • Two of my best friends got married to each other! Remember the wedding I told you I was going to be in? If you don’t, I don’t blame you, since I told you about it back in November. That was this past weekend! I’ve been so blessed to watch these two go from friends to good friends to being a couple to now being married. It’s been such a joy, so much so that I don’t think I’ll be able to process all my thoughts and feelings about it for quite some time. I’ve already warned the bride that I’ll probably call her up in October and be like “YOU GOT MARRIED???? WHAT THE HECK???” Congratulations, Miles and Abigail!
  • I got my first smart phone recently. I got my first cell phone in 2012 and I got a different phone last year and I’ve hated it ever since. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a smart phone and this seemed like a good time to do it. It’s been an interesting experience so far. While it’s been an incredibly helpful communication tool, I can already tell that it can quickly become an obsession and a necessity, as so many people view their phones these days. I’m trying hard not to let that happen, but at the same time I’m curious as to what this technology has to offer.
  • I’ve been listening to musicals more recently and I forgot how much I love musical theater. Ever since the Tonys I’ve been on a musical kick. I’ve been listening to Hamilton more and I’ve lately gotten into Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Dear Evan Hansen is next, but I’m waiting until things have settled down with me before jumping into a soundtrack that has already made me cry and I’ve only listened to three songs. Definitely give all these shows a listen if you haven’t.
  • George Bernard Shaw is a fantastic playwright. I’ve been doing a lot of rereading lately and toward the middle/end of June, I really wanted to re-experience a play that I saw in college, called Arms and the Man.  Though I hadn’t read it, it was amazing to read the script for it and to remember how wonderful that production was. I was struck again just how witty and how precise he is in his use of language and development of character. I’m reading Saint Joan now and I love it.

So that’s a little about some of the many things going on in my life. I’m going to try to blog more often and to be a little more open and honest about what’s going on in my life on this blog. I hope you all are doing well. Bye for now.

The inevitable anniversary blog

It’s been a year. Since I graduated from college, that is. That fact is so hard to believe.

marci, catherine and me

From the right, my friend Marci, my roommate, Catherine, and me. We met at our pre-orientation and ended up being in a lot of classes together since we were all English students. This was taken before the big ceremony. No one looks good in academic livery, but we didn’t do too bad. 

In many ways, it still feels like I’ve been on an extended break, that I’m still waiting for the call from my university, wondering why I haven’t come back to finish up my studies. But I did finish and I do have the diploma, and now I have a year’s worth of work, interview, and writing experience I couldn’t have seen coming. And through all of that, I’ve learned a lot. The following list is not a list of things I’ve learned and then moved on, it’s more of a summing up of bits and pieces that have been reinforced to me over and over during this first year in the “real world”.

  1. There will be twists and turns you won’t expect. And things will not go your way.  Learn to be okay with that.
    I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that the dreams I had of getting the perfect job and moving away from home right after I returned from school did not happen. There have been so many days that I’ve beaten myself up because I feel like it’s my fault that I am not where I want to be in life right now. While I know that sounds stupid (and it kinda is), it’s also an understandable reaction. People’s dreams sometimes take a long time to come true, if they ever come true at all. And while that’s discouraging, being upset about it doesn’t help anything. So if you ever feel sad because you don’t feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be in life, it’s okay to be sad, but don’t let that sadness weigh you down. Use that sadness as fuel to keep going. You can do it, even if you don’t think you can.
  2. Celebrate your successes, even the little ones.
    It can be easy, especially when you’re just starting out, to ignore the successes you do have because they are not the kinds of successes you’re aiming for. Success involves a lot of plodding along on a path that will eventually take you where you want to go. It’s so dumb and demoralizing that (at least in the U.S.) we have this idea that success occurs in a shoot-to-the-moon kind of fashion and that once you are deemed “a success”, you better do all you can to hold on to that title and that validation. While those stories make for interesting fodder for Hollywood, I’d safely wager that if you ask any successful person, they’d tell you just how long and how difficult a journey it was. So celebrate your little successes, because that means you’re one step closer.
  3. The key to being thankful is being observant.
    Noticing the little things and taking the time to be thankful for them is almost, maybe even more important thank being grateful for the big things.
  4. Getting an interview doesn’t mean you have to take the job, if they even offer it to you.
    Since I started my job search late last May, I’ve had several in-person and phone interviews for different jobs. The one thing that has been consistent with all of those interviews was the fact that I got incredibly anxious about moving and how I would handle the job before the interview even happened. While it’s important to be well-informed about the job, what you’ll be doing, and where you will potentially be living, it’s also important to keep yourself calm and not to get ahead of yourself. While getting an interview is a good sign, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the job or that you’re going to have to figure everything out at the drop of a hat. Take everything as it comes and don’t try to climb the mountain before you’ve even arrived at its base.
  5. There are some things school hasn’t and couldn’t prepare you for.
    School, like everything in life, is a mix of the mundane and the magnanimous. It’s only now that I’ve been out of school that I realize just how much of school I found boring, even though I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to attend school at all. I’ve also realized that, though school feels like it finishes your education, it really is only the beginning. I remember my Victorian lit professor telling us that when we were discussing the influence of England’s universities on the writers of that period. He said something like, “The end of our formal education is only the beginning, which is why they call graduation commencement.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little reflection of my time out of the education system. If you have any school/life stories you’d like to share, please do! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, stepmothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be!

 

Thoughts on finishing a first draft

Guys. IT’S DONE! The first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since last June is done, as of 10:19 p.m last night. Huzzah!

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Courtesy of Tumblr.

I can’t believe it’s done but at the same time, I’m so glad it is. I feel slightly less relieved than when I turned in my thesis, which was when I felt the most relieved I’ve ever been about finishing anything. At the same time, I miss it already and I feel like, with a lot of work ahead, it could be something good.

This isn’t the first first draft I finished. I finished the 188 page mess of a first draft of a different novel on New Year’s Eve in 2009. This one is 275 pages and is still a mess, but so much less so, it seems. Maybe it’s because I let myself work on the scenes I wanted to work when I wanted to work on them. Perhaps it’s because I’m not 15 any more, as I was when I finished my first initial draft of that other story. I know so much more about writing and about myself and maybe that’s what has made all the difference between that first story, which was so difficult to write, and this one, which was much easier to handle.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t make much sense. My brain is still so addled from finishing it. But I just wanted you to know that the first draft is done and you’ll no doubt be hearing more about it as I revise and eventually send it out into the world. But first, it’s time for a break to pursue some other projects.

That’s all for today, loves.

 

7 things I’ve learned so far in 2017

Hello and an incredibly belated Happy New Year to everyone. I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but if you’ve been following this blog for more than a little while, you’ve probably noticed that blogging is the first thing that gets thrown to the wayside when life gets crazy. I’m going to work on that, I promise. To bring everyone up to speed with what’s been going on in my life, here’s a list of 17 things I’ve learned so far in 2017.

  1. I really need to fix my sleep schedule.
    It’s kinda ridiculous how much this needs to happen and how long I’ve been putting it off.
  2. Being immersed in a writing project is one of the most amazing, forgiving things.
    I’m heading toward the finish line with my current manuscript. It’s been an exciting, difficult, but totally rewarding process and I’m eager to keep working on it and make it better.
  3. While I consider myself a good writer, I know I’ll never write anything as remotely cool as Hamilton.
    I finally finished listening to the whole soundtrack on Monday. I cried three times. Favorite songs right now are “Wait for it”, “Dear Theodosia”, and “History has its eyes on you.”
  4. In a time of quick action and loud protests, contemplative silence and calm listening can be subversive but necessary acts.
    I’m not going to say too much about this, but let’s just say I’m an American who doesn’t like joining in on flame wars on social media. That should tell you all you need to know. More importantly, listening and observing what’s going on can be just as crucial as reacting to current events, when direct action is not mandatory, of course.
  5.  Watching a dog learn to play with toys is fun.
    We bought Pongo a tug of war toy when we first got him. He’s shown no interest in it until now since I took it into my head to try to channel his biting habit into something that doesn’t end up with me covered in dog slime. It’s worked really well and he’s becoming really protective of it. It’s adorable.

6.Manga is amazing both as an art form and a method of storytelling.
I started reading Library Wars when I saw it on the “To be shelved” cart at work and I picked up the first three volumes and immediately loved them. It’s a story set in an alternate future in which censorship has become the norm under law except for libraries and the librarians who staff them. The fight for censorship has become so vehement that a library defense force was created, an organization that Iku Kasahara has wanted to join since she encountered one of the defense agents in high school. Though she’s much too opinionated and clumsy to be totally suited to military life,  her passion and verve see her through. It’s a funny, upbeat, and surprisingly deep series that makes me smile no matter what. Definitely check it out!

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Photo credited to amazon.com.

7.Time doesn’t owe us anything.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Toward the new year, it seemed like everyone was so ready for 2016 to end. And I can understand why. It was a tough year on a number of levels. But for all the bad that happened, there was good that happened, as well. Despite all the bad things, now more than ever, we need to recognize good things when we see them because they are the things worth fighting for. Also, time doesn’t owe us anything, as I said earlier. The only thing time owes to humanity is to keep going. It’s the ultimate soldier, it just keeps marching on. And if it stops, that’s it, for Time and for us.

What have you learned this year so far? Feel free to let me know in the comments. As previously mentioned, I’m really into my current project right now (for more details, read this). I will try to maintain a somewhat normal cycle of blogging, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sticking with me, lovely people.

The weekend: A cycle of three haikus

Expectation

building for the past few months.

Going home at last.

 

Bridal effigy,

my friends are more than they were

the two became one.

 

Surrounded by friends

sunshine on our backs and hair

and far before us.

 

Sorry this took so long! It was quite the weekend and I’m still catching up on sleep. I hope you’ve enjoyed these poems. I’ll catch up for the rest of the week and hopefully I’ll get back on schedule soon.

 

A couple of things

Hi, there. So I didn’t mean to take an almost month-long break from blogging. The long and the short of it is that I’ve started to write for a couple of different websites (I’ll link to my pieces under my “Writing” tab) and it’s resulted in me neglecting my own blog. But I’ll try to be better about this in the future, I promise. In the time since I last wrote, I’ve made a couple of changes to my life that I’d like to share with you. They’re not big changes, but they’ve made a big difference and I hope, if you decide to try them, they’ll help you, too.

  1. Praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every morning.
    I started doing this in addition to reading the book 33 Days to Divine Mercy (which you should totally read) and it’s been a beautiful way to start the day. Even though it’s hard praying right after you wake up, the practice of doing it in the morning ensures that I’ve prayed a least a little every day and helps me to dedicate the day to God and his mercy. It’s also nice to have some quiet time to fully wake up and take a few deep breaths before plunging ahead into whatever the day brings. You don’t need to be Catholic to pray this prayer and if you’d like to learn how, here’s a great website to learn how to do it.
  2. Getting off the internet by 11 p.m.
    So I’m kind of breaking this resolution by writing this right now, but I promise I’m getting off as soon as this is up. I had this incredibly bad habit of working late into the night and then staying on the computer for sometimes up to an hour afterwards just goofing off on the internet in order to de-stress. Unfortunately, I carried on this tradition into post-grad life. I’d get on the computer to check my email and answer some messages and would soon fall down the time wasting hole that is Youtube only to emerge an hour later, frustrated with myself. I finally decided that enough was enough. Late night internet usage was a fine way to de-stress when I was in the pressure cooker of college, but not any more, especially since I need to develop some kind of routine. And it’s been really great. For one thing, it’s helped my eyes (my eyes hurt if I stare at something too long, as I tend to do when looking at a computer) and it’s also helped me get to sleep. My mom once told me that she can’t browse the internet or listen to music at least an hour before bedtime. I didn’t understand that because, though at that time I didn’t use the internet too much, I definitely listened to music before going to sleep. But now I understand what she said. Electronics stimulate your senses in ways other things don’t  causing your brain to work differently than it would. Unplugging before bed has given me the chance to slow down, be silent, and give my brain a break.

So these are just a couple of little things that I’ve started doing that have been helping me live a better, more peaceful life. I know everyone saves these kinds of life-hack, advice posts for around New Year’s, but you don’t need a new year to start making yourself new. Do let me know if you decide to try one of these and I hope they help! Good night, dear readers.