Some things on a blogging hiatus

I am not going to lie: I have been in a blogging funk.

And not just a blogging funk, but a review-writing funk. Life has been busy, yes, and free time is always harder to come by in the fall, it seems. There’s been a lot going on in my personal life as well: more derby commitments than usual (start of the season + hosting a statewide tournament – yikes!), an unexpected but pressing home project (rebuilding a bay window – yikes!), and an uptick at work that leaves me feeling ever-so-worn-out when I get home.

Reading has been slower. I finished an absolutely terrible book back in September and it took me forever to read; my stubbornness and unwillingness to put down a book once I’ve started definitely bit me in the ass in a big way. After finishing, all I wanted was to read something else – anything else – FAST. I didn’t want to think about the bad book any more. I definitely didn’t want to write about it. Two books later, and I still haven’t caught up on reviews.

But then, I ask myself: why am I putting such pressure to “catch up” on reviews anyway? This is my blog, my space. I can do what I want with it, even if that means nothing at all. Does it make me sad when I don’t have the energy to write for myself? Yes. Does it make me sad when I don’t have the motivation to write book reviews, especially because writing about books helps me understand and absorb them better? Of course. Do I feel sad about all the reviews I’m not writing right now, since I won’t be able to re-visit my thoughts on the books I’m reading in the future. Yes.

But, you know, that’s OK. Because sometimes, I need a break. Sometimes, I don’t want to hang out here and just talk and talk about books. I’ve read some great, and not-so-great, books lately. And I don’t really feel like talking about them. Well, I’ll talk about them in person – I’m always up for that. But right now, writing about them feels like a homework assignment. And, I’m not in grad school any more, and I’m adult, so if I want to spend my evenings reading and then watching re-runs of Fixer Upper on HGTV, then that’s what I’ll do. (Love that show.)

(Also, I’ll start ALL the sentences with “and” and “but”, and no one can stop me! Weee!)

Given all that, I am still going to record the books I’m reading here – I think that’s easy enough. And I can do it at work, when things are slow (like right now!). Plus, I still like the idea of using this space for things other than books, and maybe, one of these days, I’ll feel like getting back into the swing of writing about those things as well. There’s been a lot going on that I could write about: fall clothes shopping, house repairs, cool quotes and fun links.

But again, I also think there’s something to be said for maintaining a bit of silence about one’s life. For not sharing all the things. My life is validated, and special, and fulfilling even when I don’t tell you about the food I cook, the clothes I wear, or share pictures of my home and cats. So many people have blogs these days – and those blogs are filled with such irritating normalcy – that I wonder: why? Why do you feel it’s necessary to take artsy pictures of your living room and plaster it on the Internet? Does it make you feel special? Does it make you feel better about yourself?

And then I’m like, oh shit. What the hell am doing? I can tell myself I do it for fun, and because I like to write, and because I think it’s cool and neat. But I don’t like to think that I’m using this very public platform as a gratuitous attempt at self-validation. I think I dress very nicely and have good taste in clothes, but I don’t need to act life a lifestyle blogger in order believe that. And I love reading, and think I read a wide variety of pretty great books, but I don’t need to be a book blogger to know that either.

So lately, I’ve been trying to just be – and act like – myself. Live my own private life, and not worry about how others perceive it. Not worry about how it looks on Instagram, or the elegant ways in which I could write about it. Just…do my own thing.

These are not good thoughts if you’ve been blogging off-and-on (mostly on) for more than five years. These are blog-ending thoughts. But I’m just going to let them settle and stew, and see where things take me. Who knows: I’ll probably be back here whenever I get bored and need an outlet. I’ll still record the books I read here, mainly because I have been blogging for so long, and this is a very valuable record of that reading life. But who knows what it will become, or where I want to take it.

I do know that I’m a little weary of pretending like I enjoy a public life. So, here’s to living a private life, not pretending to be more than I am, and sharing when it feels right.

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Memories of Disney World

During the second week of May, J and I finally – finally – took our long-anticipated trip to Disney World. We’ve been talking about going to Disney World together apres kids for many years now. It always seemed we were too busy, didn’t have enough money, etc. But graduation from graduate school seemed like a good enough occasion, the timing was right, and our tax return gave us a little extra spending cash in the vacation department. So we went for it.

I won’t go into all the wonderful, fun times we had. I mean, come on, it’s Disney World. It’s the most magical place on Earth. Have I mentioned that I’ve never been? Yep, I definitely felt like a 10-year-old. All of my memories are precious.

I was listening to Pandora the other day, though, and this song came on, and it immediately brought me back to the Magic Kingdom, strolling down Main Street USA right before the park closed, with the lights twinkling. This song was playing, and as J and I held hands wearing our dorky Mickey and Minnie ears, everything felt just right. Those are the moments you always remember.

(By the way, this is one of the greatest scores from a Disney movie, ever.) (Don’t look, I might cry.)

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What I’ve learned after earning my Masters in Library and Information Science

At the beginning of this month, I finally finished. After a two-year hiatus from real life (or, that’s what it felt like, anyway), I finally graduated with my Masters in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, in Detroit.

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This was a long time coming. After struggling for several years in a career that I didn’t love, I had to figure out where I was going next. I knew I needed to get out my job, but I wasn’t sure if I just wanted to jump into a similar job in the same field (journalism). Even though I still love to write and tell stories, I knew I wasn’t passionate about being a reporter or editor. I didn’t have that same drive to be in the news business. In fact, after several years in, I was pretty disillusioned and not exactly impressed. It was a tough decision, coming to the conclusion that I wanted to shift careers: I had a degree in journalism, I worked for years as an editor at my college newspaper (and I liked doing that!), and even though I felt like I was struggling in a lot of ways, I was doing a good job at my job. I was a success in a lot of ways, but I didn’t care. I wanted out, and after I eventually got over the fear that this would make me look like a failure, I started looking at my options.

I had a certificate in book and magazine publishing from New York University, so there was always that to fall back on. And a degree in English, mind you. But I always saw the publishing industry in Metro Detroit as lacking in opportunities, so I didn’t think I could easily shift into that track. I knew I wanted to pursue additional education – namely, a Master’s degree – but I had never been sure in what.

The day I realized that a Master’s in Library and Information Science was exactly what I needed was a great day. I started exploring the programs in my area, and I was happy to discover that I had two of the best programs in the country in my backyard. I also discovered that you can do so much more with a MLIS than I ever expected – we’re not all children’s librarians and book-stampers, you know. There were classes in technology and information management, digital preservation and metadata. I found careers and jobs that felt like they were written for me, and I realized that all of this had been waiting for me, patiently. As a reader and bibliophile, of course I loved libraries. I worked at one during college. I patronized my local library all the time and as a local journalist, I made my best friends with the librarians and directors there. What had I been waiting for?

Of course, I will say that I wouldn’t have figured all this out if it wasn’t for where I had been before. This has been particularly true as I start a new career in … wait for it … educational publishing, an opportunity I was only able to learn about because of my MLIS, internship experience I picked up while earning said MLIS, my publishing experience, and yes, my copyediting and management experience that I gained as a journalist. It all comes full circle in the end, and no matter how frustrated we may get trying to “find ourselves” and land on our feet in the adult world, nothing you do is a waste. Everything matters, and even the most inconsequential experience you may have had in the past may be the one thing that gets you to where you want to be.

Now, two years after I made that decision, quit my job, and went back to grad school, I’ve graduated, I’m done, and I’m ready to move on to a new stage of my life. One in which I finally feel comfortable with myself, confident in my abilities, and proud of my accomplishments. It’s been a humbling experience – being an unpaid intern at a job where you know you could easily do your boss’s job is frustrating on the best of days, and discouraging on the worst. It’s also been tough financially and time-wise. I’ve missed a lot of roller derby practices, scrimped and saved and swore off a lot of little luxuries, and I’ve spent nearly every single weeknight during the past two years either writing a paper, watching lectures online, working on projects, or reading for school. I took two classes a semester – every semester – for two years. It’s been a grueling and exhausting pace. For a big part of that time, I actually did work the equivalent of a full-time job. I was a bookstore manager, and I balanced a part-time job with part-time internships. By the end of it, i was very, very tired of school.

But I can definitely say it’s all been worth it. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people younger than I am about the value of school in recent years, most notably during my time managing a big bunch of young 20-somethings at the bookstore. So many of them spoke about how much school costs, or how their classes seemed worthless, or how it all didn’t seem worth the effort.  What I told them then I still believe: it’s always worth it. Yes, it’s hard. And no, not everyone is going to be “good” at certain subjects. Sometimes, you really have to work for it. But, given the state of the job market, a degree is so valuable and even if it doesn’t magically open all the doors, it will give you the leg-up. Hardwork and dedication and skill are important, but education is proof that you’re able to take those qualities and work toward a set goal in order to better yourself.

That’s what my MLIS has done. Sure, I don’t have a “library job”, and when I tell people about my new job, they seem to look at me askance and ask, “Wait, didn’t you want to be a librarian? Isn’t that why you got that MLIS?” I tell them, yes, I wanted to be a librarian.  But I also wanted to work with publishing, and digital content, and information, and education. My job enables me to do this. Plus, while earning my MLIS, I decided to take a class in metadata, which is where I first learned about XML code. That enabled to me get an internship at my library system’s digital publishing department, where I worked intensely with XML in a publishing environment. Now I work at an educational publisher in their e-books division, and guess what I work with? XML. So thank you, Master’s degree. I literally couldn’t have done this without you.

The things we miss when we change jobs

Hello again, friends. It’s been awhile, I know.

This is the first I’ve been able to write here in what feels like I very long time (don’t let the timing of my posts fool you; I tend to write several and schedule a week or two at a time). But, just as I’ve said many times, life happens and priorities shift. Sometimes things get a little bit out of your control, and you have to devote all of your attention to what’s happening right now, while also trying to accomplish the basic functions of an adult with a job + in graduate school + with a family. I am always yearning for quiet moments like these, where I can sit and listen to music, watch the evening linger, and feel relatively at ease with life and able to pitter-patter away on a keyboard for a time. But occasionally – the past few weeks, for sure – these moments don’t happen as often as we like.

But that’s OK, because this time I’ve been busy for a very, very good reason. A few weeks ago, I was happily puttering my way through March, working on homework, going to roller derby practice, working at my university’s law library, completing an internship at the General Motors Design Archive (aka, one of the coolest archives ever). Just living. Graduation was a little less than two months away, but I had plenty of time before the stresses surrounding that event consumed me. I was planning on being proactive, though, on the graduation/job-hunting front. I was keeping an eye on library job postings in SE Michigan. I was planning on setting up some exploratory interviews. I was staying on good terms with all my former internship supervisors. But I wasn’t really looking. Not yet anyway.

Well, apparently someone was looking for me. That’s a weird thing for me to say, largely because I tend to be on the overly humble/bordering on self-deprecating side, and I’m always convinced that I’m less skilled/talented than I really am. But there you have it; a recruiter contacted me on LinkedIn (of all places) and a little more than a week later, I had been hired by an educational publisher for their digital content team. The position essentially combines everything that I have been working toward during the past 10 years: my journalism and English degree, my certificate in publishing, my copyediting and management experience, the digital content management skills (specifically, advanced XML and HTML) I picked up during library school. It’s a job in publishing. It’s a job in digital. It’s a job working with educational material. It’s pretty much … everything.

To say I’m excited to start (today actually!) is an understatement. But along with starting a new job (and not just “a job”, but hopefully, a new career) comes the bittersweet, but necessary, experience of leaving one’s current job. I’ve had to leave my law library job, as well my archiving internship, and it’s been tough. I’ve had some not-so-ideal job situations during the past five years, and I’ve left several jobs feeling overwhelmingly relieved, disappointed, angry. This past year has been one of the best of my professional life, to be sure, even if I have been only been working part-time and for less-than-ideal wages (I was a student assistant). I’ve had wonderful co-workers, a supportive and sweet boss who has (for the first time) really looked out for me, and a job that’s not only enjoyable but rewarding on several levels. I always knew it couldn’t last much longer past graduation, but leaving the law library is just as tough as I thought it would be. I’m going to miss it very much.

When I think about missing a job, though, I think about the little things. Unless one is laid off, one leaves a job for a specific reason, whether that’s because you’re moving on to better things, or you’re removing yourself from a situation that doesn’t quite fit your life. In these situations, you can’t really be too regretful, because you’re motivated by a higher purpose, so to speak.

But even if you’re leaving under the very best of circumstances (like mine), that doesn’t mean you can’t be sad, and I think those little things are at the heart of that sadness. Most of the time they’re trivial little tasks, but these are the things that are very specific to a specific job position, at a specific time, in a specific place. They are the little experiences you won’t find anywhere else, and no matter if your next job is your dream job, you’ll always look back on those little workaday experiences with fondness.

Last week, on my last day at the law library, I was thinking on all the little things I loved about working there, as well as the various places I’ve worked over the years. I don’t necessarily want to go back and do any of these jobs, but man do they make for some great memories.

  • At the law library, I’ll miss being the first person to arrive on days I opened and my supervisor had the day off. Strangely enough, I’ll also miss the almost calming routine of sorting the mail, and the satisfaction of seeing a stack of messy packages turn into a neat pile of properly checked-in books, all processed and labeled and ready for shelving. I’ll also miss a few of the more friendly faces among the law students – the ones who came in almost every day, took the time to learn my name, and ask me how I was doing.
  • At the bookstore, I also miss being the first to arrive in the morning. As I get older, I become more of a morning person, and I tell ya, I really loved being the opening manager. Walking the store when it’s perfectly still and quiet, and maybe a little dark and scary. Vaccuming (properly) and counting out the tills of money, then creating that day’s shift schedule. I also miss my funny, quirky, sweet employees who always made me laugh, even if they occasionally drove me crazy. Also, the free/cheap books.
  • When I was a journalistI did enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home, including the ability to make my hair and doctor’s appointments any damn time I wanted to. While the days where I worked non-stop made the job a living hell, I will say that the “easy” days in-between had their bright spots. Also, I miss spending lots of time with the good girlfriends I met at that job, including random lunches any day of the week, and “working together” at Starbucks on Friday afternoons (even if those days involved more than a few bitch sessions and stress cries).
  • And when I worked at a plant farm in high school, I desperately, terribly miss the quiet, cool, dewy mornings on the farm while I silently watered the flowers and watched the sun rise.

11 reasons why good girls turn into the best adults

I’m not one for silly list-icles one finds on Facebook, but this short list from Bustle made me laugh: 11 Reasons Why People Who Followed All the Rules as Teenagers Turn Into the Best Adults.

11. You Know Who Your Real Friends Are: Seriously, shout out to all the friends who never made me feel bad about being a total Pollyanna as a kid and beyond. I was lucky to have you in my life. Especially when I loosened up considerably and could actually start having some real fun with you guys.

Growing up, I was definitely the perennial good-girl. I think I drank only … once, or twice? … before I was 21. I never found “house parties” in college all that entertaining, and spent my weekends either hanging out with J, or doing my homework (WHAT?!). I thought the “get-wasted-in-an-empty-cornfield” parties in high school were redneck and stupid. I got good grades. I had good relationships with my teachers, parents, and other adults. I followed the rules. And I was super embarrassed if I was singled out for being “bad” in any way.

Let’s just say that I’ve been called a goody-two-shoes more than once. But you know what? WHATEVER. This list, despite being overrun by Taylor Swift references, pretty much nails how I feel as an adult, looking back over my not-so-wayward youth. People assume that we “good kids” are always consumed by FOMO, and secretly envy those bold enough to, I don’t know, drink til they puke in a neighbor’s bush! Get a tattoo that no one will understand in 10 years!

But you want to know the truth? Most of us don’t regret a thing. Sure, being this way doesn’t come with the greatest social benefits. Being teased by jerks and bullies can be a hurtful, isolating experience – for some people, it can be irrevocably damaging. But that doesn’t make me regret anything. Why should I regret acting HOW I WANTED TO ACT, and not breaking the rules just to fit in? Actually, the only thing I feel regarding the hurtful experiences (and I’ve had a few) is pity: pity for those who would chose to be a bully and hurt others, if only to make themselves feel better. If anyone should be consumed with regret in their adult years, it should be those individuals.

All that aside, I like the last point Bustle makes: you know who your friends are. When you don’t make an effort to “fit in” and go with the crowd, you know that your friends love and accept you for who you are, and that’s the only thing that matters in a friendship.

And oh, it was also sweet having spending cash in college. And yeah, it’s nice not having embarrassing memories haunt my Facebook into perpetuity. Also, even if I was pretty vanilla growing up, at least there won’t be reasons to gossip about me at my 10 year reunion (at least, I don’t think anyone gossips about me…there’s no reason to…I’m still pretty boring).

And yes, people’s jaws still hit the floor whenever they learn how much I cuss. Haha, take that, f*ckers!

read this

  • Check out 11 Reasons People Who Followed All the Rules as Teenagers Have the Most Fun As Adults at Bustle

 

Happy V-day to my guy in glasses

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Photo Credit: Steve Lyons Photography

She enjoyed people with glasses the way only someone who doesn’t need to wear glasses can enjoy glasses on other people – can find them “nice”. – The World According to Garp, John Irving

I definitely need glasses, but I don’t need them to know that this guy is tops. I mean, he is the only one who:

  • Would get up on a snowy Valentine’s Day morning to shovel the two inches of snow that fell overnight
  • Graciously agree to clean the scary basement bathroom
  • Make me an Adventure Time-themed Valentine’s Day card + necklace

Happy Valentine’s Day, J. 🙂

Snow day

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Metro Detroit was slammed with its third largest snowstorm ever yesterday, and the university where I work and take classes declared a snow day. This is the first year since my undergraduate years that I’ve been able to take a real “snow day.” For years, I was a small town reporter and editor, and snow = page views. Then last year, I was a retail manager at a store that never closed, even during the very worst of the polar vortex.

You can imagine my glee at 5 am this morning, when I learned I had another day off. Of course, like a 10-year-old, I was so excited I couldn’t get back to sleep. But still, cue muppet arms!

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