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!

 

Something I saved and forgot about but needed

Hi, everyone. I was randomly looking through my bookmarks on my computer and I found something I stashed away and forgot about. But sometimes the things we find randomly are the things we need the most and that is definitely the case with this article. It’s called “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind in Life.” You can read it here.

This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with, especially lately. I hope it helps you, along with this song from a new musical entitled “Dear Evan Hansen.” It’s about an anxious teen trying to deal with the social pressures of high school and the lyrics are tremendously and scary accurately written. Check out the other songs from this musical, they’re great.

 

We’ll be alright, guys. We can do it.

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!

Image result for library wars

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.

Thoughts on my first attempt at NaNoWriMo

Hello,everyone! As I mentioned in my last post, I participated in NaNoWriMo and I thought I’d share some of my  experience and thoughts about that process.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, an annual contest in which people try to write a 50,000 word story in the month of November. This was my first attempt at NaNo and I failed. I knew I wasn’t going to reach the goal of 50,000 words for two reasons. One was that my schedule was very up and down during that month, so I figured it would be better to have a more manageable goal. The second reason was that I hate word counts. I hated them in college and I will hate them forever. I’m not even sure why I don’t like word counts. I think it’s because they cause me to focus more on the word count rather than the quality of the words and sentences and paragraphs I’m putting on the page. So I set myself the seemingly more reachable goal of 2 pages a day, 60 pages for the whole month.

While I had every intention of writing every day, I quickly fell into a pattern. I would write my 2 pages, maybe a little more, for a few days of the week, then wouldn’t write anything for the rest of the week. I was initially angry with myself for developing this kind of pattern, but then I shook it off and tried to make the most of it. I draft long-handed and was pleased to fill up a notebook I had been using since the spring of 2015 and to start using one that I had started drafting a story in, but decided to put it on the back burner (where it simmers still). I did NaNo with some a few friends, which was great. We were able to report and talk about our progress and different problems and victories we encountered. It’s always nice to have friends along when you try to take on a challenge and I definitely encourage anyone who wants to try NaNo in the future or who maybe hasn’t been successful with it in the past, to try to get some friends involved. It can be a little distracting, but it will definitely help.

Not only did I fail my first attempt at NaNo, but I also kind of cheated. The idea of the contest is to work on a new idea and I worked on a manuscript that I have been formulating for the past two years but only began working on in earnest in June. I went from page 71 to page 109 in my manuscript. It wasn’t what I hoped would happen, but it was pretty great all the same.

The thing that really stood out to me about NaNo was how normal and right it felt. Other than the fact that I had my friends checking up on me every now and then and I beat myself up more severely than usual for not writing, NaNo was incredibly similar to what my creative life normally is. And I take that as a very good sign. Now that it’s all over, I’m still trying to work on my novel every day. It’s a struggle, but one that I’m learning to wrestle with. I bet you’re wondering what I’ve been working on, but I’m afraid that will have to remain a secret until the manuscript is in much better shape than it is. This is my first draft of the story and though I’ve been building it in my head for nearly two years, it still has a long way to go before I’ll be comfortable sharing it. But this is where the magic happens, where the story and the people become real. In the years that I was slaving away on my degree, I had forgotten the sheer bliss of worlds flowering under my pencil, of people becoming real through my words. I’m so lucky to be able to experience that and it’s something I thank God for regularly.

I hope you enjoyed this little writing ramble and I hope all is well with you, dear readers. God bless you!

 

Thanksgiving (thanks for giving)

Hello, everyone. Once again, I must apologize for the lack of posts. If I thought October was a crazy month, November has snatched that award away and set it on its shelf.

A bunch of things have happened that I’m still sorting through. I’ve been really stressed about many things, to the point that sometimes the best I can do is just not think and just try to be as calm as possible (which is much more difficult than it sounds.) I had two job interviews and received my first job offer (which I ended up turning down for financial reasons.) The election happened and if we all thought it was interesting and anxiety-inducing before, it’s only gotten worse (at least for me, but I’m trying to stay as positive as I can.)

While that might not seem like much, it’s been difficult to deal with. But in all this darkness, there have been many patches of light to keep me moving forward. Like getting to cook all day and spend time with family yesterday (a belated Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.) My best friend asked me to be her bridesmaid (she’s getting married next summer.) I received a surprise visit from another best friend and we got to talk about a lot of things (love you, Jasmine.) I got to take a road trip with my Dad, got to see some new places, and got to admire God’s beautiful creation from the view of a car window (I have a habit of staring out windows whenever I travel.) I got to eat grapes with my brother at one in the morning (because when you don’t have to go to work the next morning and you and your sibling want fruit, why not?) I’ve made significant progress on my first draft thanks to NaNoWriMo (but not as much progress as I thought I would.) I’ve gotten to grow closer to my characters through working on their story and building their world (I love them so much, though I don’t think they’d love me if they met me because of what I’m putting them through.) I’ve received quite a bit of writing encouragement from people who have known me and who have supported me and it’s been humbling and beautiful (hello, lovely people. You know who you are.)

So yes, there have been many ups and downs of late. Forgive the rambling nature of this post. I felt so awful that I haven’t been writing here lately that I was desperate to post something. More is on the way, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for giving me your attention. The fact that people are reading my words baffles and humbles me and I hope you know that I am so thankful for you. You’re amazing. Bye for now.

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.

 

Hands, fires, and hearts

Hands couldn’t be kept to ourselves

together or apart, reaching out through keyboards

and twining through years,

always finding home

in one another’s warmth.

The fighting to journey back

back to our heartspace,

chambers joined and arteries unlocked

grew too much

after struggling for such a weary while.

Our hearts attacked

and now we are left with the wreckage.

You are partially paralyzed

and I am mute.

You once said to me

that you weren’t sure we would

survive our love.

I hadn’t known it then,

how the light-giving, nurturing fire

can turn into devastating, decimating blaze

with just a change of the wind.

Thank God I know now.