Some resolutions for 2015

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I didn’t used to be one for New Years “resolutions”. I was convinced that once made, they were just as easily forgotten, then broken, then they become ammo for making you feel bad.

However, ever since I became a “real” adult – graduated, and out in the big, wide world – I have found that thinking about the year in front of me is not only healthy, but productive, for my psych and soul. I’m a natural list-maker and planner, and so spending a little time thinking constructively about my year is just as useful as making a to-do list before a busy weekend, or filling out my planner with due dates and doctor appointments.

That being said, I don’t go for your average “New Years resolutions,” but instead believe in setting both attainable and long-term goals for oneself. Writing those goals down sets them within reach, and reminds one to stay and re-focus throughout the year. “Lose 10 pounds” means nothing to me because, at the end of the day, I don’t understand the motivation behind it. That’s where yearly goal-setting comes in, and they include “resolutions” that are just vague enough to be widely interpreted, and yet tailored to meet your specific needs. They should encourage one to be brave, embrace new challenges, strive for happiness, and extricate oneself from situations where you’re unhappy. They should work toward making your life better.

Here are a few of mine for 2015:

  • Spend more time outside, and spend that time being active
    • This includes increasing the amount of outdoor exercise I do, whether that’s riding my road bike or running around my neighborhood. Speaking of running, while I ran a decent, not-embarrassing 5K in 2014, I want to improve my overall fitness so that I can, again, run the Cincinnati Turkey Trot 10K this November. This also includes just being outside, including finally planting some kind of garden (veggie or flower, maybe both!) at our new house.
  • Worry less
    • In past years, I’ve worked at decreasing my stress levels and improving my work-life balance, but in 2015, I want to focus on worrying less. I’m a worrier, and being employed only part-time for most of 2014 – and buying a house during that time – has led to more than one sleepless night endlessly going over the numbers. As graduation approaches, I also find myself worrying about finding a full-time job. My brother is planning on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer and fall, so thoughts of bears will definitely occupy my thoughts. And there are other life events that I’m sure I’ll just worry to the bone, once they eventually happen. My plan is to breathe, let what will be, will be, and trust that everything is going to be all right.
  • Work on acquiring, and improving, good habits
    • Everyone needs to floss more, right? Well, that includes me, and in 2015 – just like every year – I want to improve my daily habits and routines so that I’m living easily and happily, without too much extra work. This includes taking proper care of my skin; drinking more water and less alcohol, and definitely less pop; keeping my house clean and tidy because it keeps me happy and stress-free; not biting my nails (keeping them painted in recent weeks has helped!); adhering to a monthly spending budget; and become a better, regular morning person. I also want to simplify these habits as much as possible – I want to simplify as much of my life as I can – so that I’m not spending too much money, I’m not using unnecessary chemicals or ingesting weird food additives, and I avoid any kind of “high maintenance” life as I get closer to 30.
  • Let go
    • I’m a very mellow, even-tempered person, but when people offend, insult, or REALLY piss me off, I have a hard time forgiving or forgetting. Luckily, this has happened only a few times, but I feel like holding onto any kind of negative energy clouds my judgment and makes me, ultimately, an unhappy person. With my 10 year high school class reunion coming up this year, this is probably a good time to let go. Also, I’m going to try to keep those everyday annoyances at bay (why are people so STUPID on Facebook?!), and remind myself that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.
  • Get away from screens and cultivate simple pleasures
    • Even as the tech gets cooler, as I get older, I grow more and more disenchanted with screens. I’m tired of hearing what TV show people are now “binge-watching” on Netflix, I don’t care to shell out $500 for  a new iPhone, I still have no desire for any kind of e-reader – I’m just tired of it all. Now, I find myself yearning for simple pleasures: reading (I’m talking about how they did it 200 years ago), listening to classical music, cooking, being outside. I feel like these pleasures are longer lasting, and more enduring.
  • Go someplace new
    • I don’t like to list specific “trips” as a yearly resolution, knowing that vacations are inextricably tied to money, and sometimes, some years, the cash isn’t there. J and I have a few ideas of vacations we’d like to take this year, however by the end of the year, I want to make sure that I see something I’ve never seen before.
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The month that was September, aka, why I stopped blogging

So, what’s up blogging? It’s been more than a month since my last post here, but I can’t say I’m surprised.  September was absolutely bonkers for me, and I had little to no time for anything that wasn’t working, grad school, weddings and a little bit of roller derby. I barely exercised. I only haphazardly cleaned my house. And, unfortunately, I was able to set aside very, very little time for pleasure reading.

That’s a sad statement to make, especially coming from an avid reader who professes to be “obsessed” with books, but it’s true.  It’s hard to think that anything could get in the way of reading, but when you’re opening a bookstore, have assignments piling up and commitments pulling you in ten different directions at once, whatever you do in your “free time” is sacrificed. For me, that was reading (and thus, blogging). I think the lack of reading (and relaxation) time made an already stressful time even more stressful, which was also unfortunate. But that’s a catch-22 I just couldn’t avoid.

And so, before I review Jane Eyre (which took me the ENTIRE month of September to finish), here’s a quick run down of what kept me busy last month:

  • This was technically in August, but I spent three days in Hoover, Alabama training for my new job as buying manager at Michigan’s first 2nd & Charles.
  • I had most of the Labor Day weekend off, then dived into training our store’s new buyers, spending two full days in a hotel conference room. Exhilarating.
  • On Sept. 7, “project” started. “Project” is the term used to describe the mad one to two week rush to set up a store before it opens. For two weeks, until Sept. 19, I worked 8-12 hour days, everyday, unloading boxes of books, alphabetizing, setting up displays, checking in merchandise and generally being a tired, stressed out mess. The team sent to help our staff set up and train were not the easiest to work with, and we managers were at the end of our ropes half the time. I fought for ONE day off during that two week period, most of which was spent madly catching up with the schoolwork I had neglected.
  • The store opened Sept. 19 and we still haven’t figured out all the kinks yet. It was upsetting not being able to answer my staff’s questions, and I worried that my buyers thought their boss was a clueless idiot. Things are better now, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. Luckily, I really like my staff and most days, I love coming to work. And I love that it can’t come home with me.
  • My 27th birthday was on the 21st, which meant first work, then a roller derby bout in the evening. Because of everything above, I’ve barely been making practices, but I played pretty damn well and snagged the MVP Jammer award – my first at home! That was a great birthday present, but my “boring year” birthday was also marked by Happy Birthday banners, new skate wheels (the Juke 88’s I’ve been coveting!), a massage, a new Miami shirt from my bestie, a raspberry chocolate tart and SO MANY CUPCAKES.  I am loved.
  • Last weekend, Joel and I traveled to Cincinnati for our good friends’ wedding. Joel was in the wedding, and we stayed in a downtown hotel, which was exciting. However, there was that four hour drive to come home…ugh.
  • The day after the wedding was Joel and my one year anniversary, which, I’ll just say, was a mighty special , wonderful day. 🙂 I won’t say more because keeping that part of your life secret is one of the many joys of loving someone else as deeply as I love my Joelly. Let’s just say, it’s been an exciting first year of marriage, and I can’t wait to go on many, many more adventures with him.
  • In true honor of the one-year anniversary of our European honeymoon, I came down with a wicked sinus infection last week. Just like those two weeks in Paris and Germany, I alternately felt like throwing up, my throat hurt, my eyes watered and I couldn’t stop the snot (at one point, I just didn’t need to blow my nose, I needed to blow my entire face). I’m finally over it, but at one point, I thought to myself: “All I want to do now is lay around and moan in bed. How in the heck did I climb a mountain in Germany, tour the gardens of Versailles in the rain, and walk around one of the largest art museums in the world feeling like THIS?”
  • And finally, yesterday was our LAST wedding of the year. Of course, there were two ceremonies (including a Catholic mass at 1 pm, and a “cowboy” ceremony at 5:30) and one reception, which meant an entire. day. of. weddings. Since it was too far to drive home in-between, Joel and I did get to spend some time having a “fall date” at one of our favorite small towns in Michigan, Plymouth, eating pasta on the patio, checking out a display of scarecrows and having coffee at one of my favorite coffeeshops in Metro Detroit, Plymouth’s Coffee Bean.

I’m already starting to “catch up” with my life. My boss is making up for our lack of days off at the beginning of September, giving us a whopping THREE days off during one random week. This week is my week, and I’m off Monday, Wednesday AND Friday. What the heck am I going to do with myself? Probably homework and cleaning, but also all the things my body and soul needs to recover from four stressful weeks: sleep, warm apple cider, shopping, apple picking and pumpkin patch visiting, cooking and READING.

Ch-ch-changes

So. For the past few weeks, I’ve been alluding to some pretty big, exciting changes happening in my life but, unfortunately, I’ve been unable to share any of the good news.

Now I can. Everything has finally worked itself out and it’s bookish news to boot, which makes sharing here even more appropriate:

  • I quit my job as the editor of a community news website
  • I applied, was accepted and in May start graduate school at Wayne State University, where I’ll be earning my Masters in Library and Information Science
  • I have made a triumphant return to bookselling as one of the newest booksellers at a Books-A-Million opening down the road from my house

Phew, lots of news. But see how exciting it all is? See why I’ve been so antsy to share? This news comes with its fair share of nerves and anxiety – ah! where did our money go? But it’s exciting because I’m finally setting out on the path that will take me to the career I’ve always wanted.

I won’t go too much into my reasoning here, but I will admit that while I love journalism, and I love writing, it was never my intent to be a reporter my entire life. I wanted to do more. I have a Certificate in Publishing. I have an English degree. I have an unabiding passion for books and literature. And while having a steady job with a generous income (at least for someone of my age and experience) was nice, I realized early on that it wasn’t making me happy. In fact, my old job literally took over my life so at times I was pretty unhappy

So at some point during the past two and a half years, it hit me: I would rather be happy doing a job I love, even if I made a little less money and it took me awhile to get there, rather than be unhappy at a job that paid the bills. They say if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well I was working far too hard and even though I know I’m young, I could see my life stretched out before me as one long road of disappointment.

Plus, never before have I realized the importance of work-life balance. I’m a hard-working, intelligent, pretty successful girl, so I thought I would be able to take on the “big jobs” and work through the long hours – all in the quest to “make a name for myself.” But then I realized that by doing so, you allow your job to become your lifeYou are defined by your job. Money and fame be damned, I never want that to be my life. I want to leave my job at work and come back to my *real life*, where I hope to have many projects, passions and things to keep me busy. The minute I started setting aside relationships and things I love – like reading, or time spent with my husband – for my job, that’s the exact moment I realized something was wrong.

So I decided to make a change. I also decided to come back to a world I’ve loved for many years, but never seriously considered as a profession for one reason or another: libraries. Maybe I thought being a librarian wasn’t “glamorous” enough during my undergraduate years – none of the flash or panache of journalism and publishing. No breaking news bylines or fancy lunches with the next J.K. Rowling. Just…sitting behind a desk, checking books in and out. How lame I was.

Now I realize, despite its own challenges, how exciting and dynamic the library world is right now. Plus, I don’t plan on leaving the media world entirely, either. Books and other content – like, the work of JOURNALISTS – are increasingly moving toward digital formats. How should libraries respond? How should this information be cataloged? How can we make it accessible not only for posterity, but for readers and students? Academic libraries are also becoming centers of publishing as self-publishing becomes easier and easier – how will academic journals change? Who is curating this change?

Now, I think questions about the “future of journalism” are interesting, but these types of questions genuinely excite me. These are the kinds of problems I want to be solving, and considering my skills, academic study and work experience, I think I’m poised pretty well to tackle them. In fact, I hope my time working as a journalist is more than just a blip, I hope it helps land me my dream job: working at a university library as the liaison to their journalism department. Can you imagine?

So anyway, that’s a lot of blather but there you go: Why. My. Life. Is. Changing. This change has definitely been scary – I literally applied to grad school, was accepted and notified my bosses that I’d be quitting within a month. Things happened fast. Then, an opportunity to work at Books-A-Million popped up here in my own neighborhood, I jumped on that as a way to make some part-time cash, bam, got the job and then started working last week. It’s been a rush and the reality of it all is still settling.

But can I say that I’m LOVE-LOVE-LOVING working at a bookstore again? OK, it’s not the magical world of Half-Price Books, where everyone was guaranteed full-time employment with benefits and you could wear jeans and a t-shirt everyday. It’s part-time work (at least for now) at a major bookseller (second largest bookstore chain behind Barnes & Noble now that Borders is gone), and I have to don my finest “business casual.” But I’m having a blast.

So maybe my “Annals of Customer Service” will return to the blog? Maybe. Customer service…oh boy. Everything comes with perks, of course: Books-A-Million provides ARCs for its booksellers to check out and read for free so I *might* be like a real bookseller/book blogger now. You know, the kind you read about on Twitter, tweeting snarky/smart things from BEA! How exciting! Plus, I will have oodles more free time at least in April since classes start in May, so maybe I’ll actually read some books. What a concept. And of course, there’s the whole not-working-at-all-hours-of-the-day thing. That will help…everything…in my life.

Breaking my rule about resolutions, for a second year

Last year, I made a point to note that I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. And I still don’t.

However, last January, I made a list of “goals” for myself and 2012. And as I was browsing through some old blog posts tonight, I stumbled across this list of resolutions, and I felt the need to update them and share my goals for 2013.

NOTE: This is one of the few times I’m going to let myself stray into the personal on Paperback Fool. If you read this blog at all, you might notice the shift from the personal to strictly reviews and other book-related bits I either have an opinion about, or want to store somewhere for later perusal. I’m still following this philosophy, but this will be my exception.

First, a look back at my “resolutions” for 2012:

  • Get up earlier: Um, I sorta do this. I tend to wake up by 8 a.m. on the weekends now, but I also tend to get up at the same time during the week as well. Even though my alarms are set for 6:30 and 7. Oops? Yeah, I gotta work on this.
  • Start composting: Totally did not do this last year, and I really don’t think we will while we’re still living in this townhouse. Plus, I don’t know what we’d do with the compost anyway. I still feel bad throwing away food, but I do plan on being more conscious of this when we move to a bigger, more permanent space.
  • Enjoy more “electronic peace and quiet”: I like to think that I’ve done this. I’m still on the computer a lot (look at me now!), but the longer I do this job, the more fed up I become with my computer, the Internet…everything. So shutting up my computer in the office and ignoring it for the night is always the goal. Of course, we have our weak moments. I also discovered Pinterest this year, and have jumped on and off the Twitter bandwagon a few times (current status: on). So I have more things to do once Facebook becomes boring. But it’s a continuous goal.
  • Ride my bike more: We did ride our bikes lots last spring and summer. Of course, we discovered that my beautiful bike is also really heavy and tends to tire me out on long rides. It is thus that Joel has decided we both need new road bikes. Anyway, Joel and I rode a lot last year, including around town, which was our primary goal. Riding my bike to the library, to the coffee shop, to the park…Happy about that one.
  • Pull off this wedding: I haven’t spoken much here about how our wedding/honeymoon went off (see earlier note about being less personal), but I can say we DID pull it off. Oh, and it was amazing. Like, the greatest wedding ever.
  • Read more books than 2011: According to my records, I read 31 books in 2011 — man, that’s really sad. And I didn’t write reviews for half the year, geez. In 2012, I read … oooooh, 32. So yes. I did reach this goal, but only by a hair. I’m really surprised I didn’t read more than 32 last year; I felt my reading pace really quickened. Ah well, I guess I can only blame the wedding/honeymoon. And let’s not forget Les Miserables. That took a good two months. Damn you Victor Hugo.
  • Take my damn vitamins: This is one resolution I definitely fulfilled. Gummy vitamins for the win! I even take my calcium supplements on a daily basis now. I’m so healthy.
  • Start working out on a daily basis: While I won’t say that I worked out all 365 days last year, I can actually chalk this resolution up as as a success because damn it, I was in the best shape since high school in 2012. I won’t say I am now because I’m still recovering from the holidays and I ate a piece of cake. But the roller derby workout has been working great, I actually ran on a consistent basis during the spring and summer, and I’ve now integrated weights into my weekly workout to tone my arms. And let’s not forget the unforgiving workout that is playing roller derby — and I did that a lot last year.

And now onto 2013. First, I haven’t made an official list of “resolutions” like I did last year — I did something different. About halfway through last year, I was in a particularly low, stressful spot, and felt completely overwhelmed by everything I needed to do. So I forced myself to stop, and write it all down, and what evolved was a strange motivational tool/perspective-keeper/to-do list that I kept tacked to the back of my office door all year.

I made another for 2013 the other day, and I’d thought I’d share. First, I begin by listing “Who Am I?” From a wife to a friend to a skater to a reader, these are the words that define my identity and remind me what’s really important when things start getting stressful.

Then, I list who I want to be and things I want to do, and I guess this is as close to a real “resolution” as you’re going to get. While there’s two I won’t list (for reasons I’ll share another time), mine are:

  • Cyclist
  • Gardener
  • Really good skater
  • Good cook
  • In the best shape possible
  • Get back into hiking
  • Camper
  • Sustainable
  • Well-traveled

These are things that I may not necessarily achieve in 2013, but they are things I currently want to strive for. I may add to this list whenever I want.

I also include a section labeled “What Am I Doing?”, where I list all my responsibilities so that they’re less scary and overwhelming, and forced into submission via ordered list. I won’t bore you with those.

And finally, there’s the big to do list. Highlights from that list include:

  • Change my name (God I gotta get on this)
  • Buy my bridesmaids dress for Kim’s wedding, and just be as awesome as a bridesmaid as she was for me
  • Plan some summer time camping trips
  • Plan a trip to Disney World (SO excited about this one. Did you know I’ve never been?)
  • Be there for my best friend when she has her first baby in the summer (! – seriously, how am I old enough for this?)
  • Save money for a house and a new car
  • Make time for reading and update this blog with every book

See, I even made room for Paperback Fool in my list of goals. Anyway, this is way more talking about myself than I really want to do, so I’ll stop here. Hopefully I’ll be able to look back on this blog post in another year and enjoy just as many happy reflections about the year gone past.

Look! A blog post!

Hi friends! Look at me — I’m blogging again!

First, a note about where I’ve been

I’ve been getting married! Then galavanting around Europe! Then, catching up with two and a half weeks worth of stories I’ve missed, and working like mad trying to compensate.

Joel has posted our honeymoon pictures on Facebook, and I’ll try to create a mini-narration of our trip using some of those pictures. But that may wait until the weekend. It’s Halloween, and there is Ghost Hunter re-runs to watch.

Speaking of Halloween…

I dressed up this year! In costume!

I’m Fionna from Adventure Time, and at the one party we attended, no one got it. Wah wah. At least I have a costume for an upcoming Comic Con (my friend Brooke is Marceline the Vampire Queen this Halloween, so we’ll be a set).

As for Halloween night, we don’t get trick-or-treaters, but I’m still hanging out in my bunny hat and PJs. Just chilling.

The shopping never stops

Right up until two days before our wedding, I was still pissing and moaning about how much money I had spent on that damn party, whining “I’m so tired of shopping for wedding stuff!”

Now that we’re back and all the wedding presents are put away, we’re chipping away at the list of gifts we DIDN’T get, which means one thing: more shopping. So far, we’ve only bought a mattress pad, which makes our bed feel like a giant marshmallow and I never want to get up in the mornings anymore. Next up is the remainder of our plates/bowls and such. We only received four place settings, which is a little awkward.

Still need to write a review

I have yet to write a review of Fast Food Nation, which I finished last month before the wedding. Truth by told, who knows what that review will look like, it’s been that long. I’ll probably end up writing a mini review, or be very vague.

Page 800ish out of 1,400ish

If you’re wondering, I’m still neck-deep in Les Miserables…somewhere around page 800 of a 1,400 page novel. Yikes. There’s a lot of reasons for the delay: the fact that I was getting married and on my honeymoon for two weeks; the fact that Les Mis is incredibly dense at times; it’s really, really long. I had some long stretches to read, particularly during our seven- and nine-hour flights over the Atlantic, however there’s only so much Les Mis I can take at one time. After 20 pages of so, I gotta take a break. I’ll finish it…eventually. Who knows! This might be a season-long read.

Speaking of Les Mis, I have the evening at home by myself, so I’m going to spend that time cuddling on the couch with the kitties, wearing my Fionna hat, sipping apple cider and reading. And mayyyybe eating Reese’s chocolate pumpkins. Maybe.

I’m 26 and…

  • I can still run a mile without stopping.
  • Purple is still my favorite color.
  • I’m in the best shape since I was 18.
  • I’m getting married in a week and one day.
  • I’ve been with the same man for almost 8 years.
  • I have a full-time job using the degree I graduated with.
  • I will be in Paris in a week and a half.
  • I’ve made a new home, and new friends, in a new state.
  • I’m still best friends with the same girls from elementary school/high school in my old state.
  • I think I’m going keep these bangs for awhile.
  • I’ve taught myself how to cook and I make dinner almost every evening.
  • I have another name, and an alternate ego.
  • I’ve found my strength (and inner cool chick).
  • I still blog (though not as much).
  • I still read all the time.
  • I still want to be a writer.

Sometimes your soul needs this

Sometimes, you just need sit and watch the sun set from your bedroom window. For nearly 15 minutes. My shitty camera-taking-a-picture-through-a-dirty-window doesn’t show this, but that bright spot near the tree line was actually the most striking shade of turquoise I’ve seen in the sky this late at night.

I love moments like these because for the time they exist, it doesn’t matter where you are, what’s going on at work, the status of your personal life, or even what you’re wearing (PJ-pants and an old tank top … I was feeling pretty crappy last night). It doesn’t matter because you realize this is all that’s important. Moments like these. Feeling like this.

While I was watching the sun set, three girls rode their bikes through my parking lot toward the sidewalk. One girl asked the other two to stop as she pulled out her phone to take a picture. The other two chatted loudly for awhile, then rode off without the first girl. I felt bad for them.

This isn’t about finding religion or God in the sky. It’s about finding happiness, and the ability to appreciate beauty. I pity those who can’t see that for themselves.