Category Archives: life

Goals for 2017

This is my first blog post of 2016. I didn’t mean to skip a whole year. I remember sitting down to write up my goals last December, but then I decided to wait another day because I wasn’t quite sure what to say. And then January 1, I woke up to find that my mom was in the hospital. She’s fine now, but she was there for a few days, and I didn’t really think of much else during that time.

And then 2016 happened. I don’t need to go through the list. Let’s just say it started with Alan Rickman dying and now we have Trump as president, so pretty much everything is horrible, including the fact that I once again have no job. The one good thing that happened this year was that we moved back to Georgia, where my family is. I miss the Virginia weather and the lack of traffic in Charlottesville, and it would have been nice to live in a state that went blue this year, but overall it’s better being back here.

2016 Accomplishments

This will be a very short list.

  • Read 57 books (goal was 75)
  • Wrote 350,053 words for NaNo (mostly Harry Potter fan fiction)
  • Got a few critiques from friends for one of my novels (Degeneration)
  • Kept a bullet journal going for about 2-3 months
  • Started learning Spanish
  • Gained 0 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas

And, yeah, that’s about it. This wasn’t really a great year for me personally. I don’t generally reach my yearly goals anyway, but I hate that I didn’t really have any for this year. I never really felt like I was working toward anything. But that’s going to change this year.

2017 Goals

  • Read 50 books, at least 20 of which should be non-fiction. I hate that I am so out of the loop when it comes to the world around me. I got two new non-fiction books for Christmas, and I have a ton more on my shelf that I have been meaning to read. This is the year for that.
  • Read at least 2 news articles every day. This goes back to not being informed. I’m sure I should be reading more than this, but I figure small changes are easier to maintain.
  • Stop being such a coward and actually speak up about things. I have strong opinions about many things, but I generally keep them to myself unless I know the people around me agree because I hate confrontation and don’t want people to hate me. However, that leads to people thinking I agree with things I don’t. It also lead my boyfriend’s mother to think there was a chance I was going to vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton, and she has known me for over seven years. If there was one moment that made me feel like a super failure this year, it wasn’t when I lost my job; it was when I said, “It can’t really be surprising who I’m voting for, can it?” and she said that she wasn’t sure. This is also why keeping up with the news is important.
  • Do something to better my writing every day. If I want to be a published author, I need to stop making excuses for why I don’t make it happen. This goal can be anything from writing to editing to brainstorming to reading articles about the craft.
  • Update this blog at least twice a month. At the moment I’m thinking of a “these are the books I’ve read” post and a “this is what I’ve been working on as far as my writing is concerned” post, but we’ll see.
  • Write 3 new drafts this year. These can be brand new novels or rewrites, but this does not count novels where I am mostly editing. My plan at the moment is to write one for each camp and one for NaNo, but that might change later.
  • Improve my Spanish. I would like to be able to hold a decent conversation with someone who speaks Spanish, maybe even be able to read the Harry Potter book I have in Spanish. It’s the third book, which I mostly already know, so I’m hoping this goal isn’t too ridiculous. I’m currently using Duolingo, so I guess really I just want to continue my streak of getting at least 50 XP every day.
  • Show enthusiasm for things. I had a job interview yesterday, and if I end up not getting it, I am almost positive it will be because I held back and didn’t show just how much I wanted the job. I have a horrible time admitting to liking things other people might not, and I’m even worse at admitting to wanting something I might not get. I don’t want to ask someone in a store if they have something because if the answer is no, I’ll feel like an idiot – which makes absolutely no sense, but that’s who I am, and it really does affect a lot of aspects of my life. It’s also a self-fulfilling prophesy because I don’t want to show that I’m exciting about something that might not happen, but my lack of excitement might be part of the reason why something doesn’t happen. This will be the year that I change that.
  • Improve my health. There are so many parts to this.
    • I need to get back to walking at least 5k steps a day and then, once I manage that, work my way back up to 10k steps. I walked one 5k this year (61 minutes walking with a friend). In 2017, I would like to do another one and see if I can get my time closer to 50 minutes.
    • I need to lose weight (preferably 50 pounds to get back to what I was in college).
    • I need to eat more fruits and vegetables – at least 2 a day for now and then I will work my way up to more.

So those are my goals for 2017. Do you set goals at the end of the year? If so, what are they? If not, do you set goals at a different time, or do you prefer not to set any at all?

Dreams, backup plans, and a confession

It’s been two months since my last update. Sorry about that. Between finding an apartment, moving ten hours from home, and starting school, it’s been a very hectic two months. I can’t even believe it’s only been two months. I feel like I’ve been doing this forever. At the same time, I feel like I’ve just started.

But I’m babbling. I should start at the beginning.

Our apartment is nice. We’re paying way too much for it when I think about what we could have gotten in Georgia for this money, but it’s not horrible, especially since my boyfriend and I are both working full time. We haven’t seen our first paycheck yet, so we’ve been living off brand new credit cards with zero interest until November of next year. Yay credit cards.

The teachers I work with are also nice. Exceptionally nice, actually. My mentor is super helpful, and she always listens when I complain about things and offers advice. She shows me how to do everything I need to do, which is awesome because most of the time I feel silly asking for help. And then there’s the teacher whose room I’m in fourth block. See, I don’t have my own classroom, so I float between three classes. Since I end in this one teacher’s room, I generally stay there while I prepare for the next day. She listens to me and the other new teachers rant about our day, and she offers advice and words of comfort. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

So I like my apartment and my colleagues. I just hate my job. I spend way too many hours thinking of ways I can get myself fired, since I can’t quit because I’m signed with them for a year. I would never actually do something to get fired, but it’s still nice to think about. I’m just not cut out for this. I thought I was, but I’m not. The kids are out of control, and I don’t know how to fix it. It’s not fair to the few kids who are actually trying to learn, and I know that. They deserve better. I’m just not sure I’m capable of being better. I’m going to try to write more people up this week, but if that doesn’t work then I don’t know what I’ll do.

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t really want to be a teacher. I never did. Whenever someone asked what I planned on doing with an English degree and suggested teaching, I would laugh at them and say no. Hell no. Because I have no patience. I can’t explain anything to anyone. I hate people, especially children. Especially stupid children. So why did I end up as a teacher, you ask? Funny story.

It started in 2010. I graduated a year early from college and returned home, to my parents’ house. I had no job, but I wasn’t concerned yet. I thought I had time. And then I couldn’t find an editing job, mostly because I didn’t know where to look for them. I also couldn’t find a job doing anything else. I applied to gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants, and smoothie shops. I couldn’t find a job. I eventually ended up working for my mother as a school photographer. I made $9 an hour, which works out to about $10,000 a year since it was seasonal work. Not enough to move out on, especially since my boyfriend was in college still and didn’t have a job either. So I stayed with my parents, hating my job and my life because I felt like a failure.

There are several reasons why I started thinking about teaching then. Part of it was because my boyfriend was going to school to be a teacher, and I liked the sound of the classes he was taking. Part of it, a bigger part, was because I was already in schools every day. I figured if I was going to be around kids all the time anyway, I might as well be a teacher, where I’d make more money, have a respectable sounding job, and still have summers and weekends off. Plus I could get my Master’s and still use my English degree. I liked that my first degree wouldn’t be useless, that I could pretend it was just a stepping stone to my new goal. I still didn’t know anything about teaching, but I figured that was what grad school was for.

Except it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. You don’t go to grad school to learn how to be a teacher. You go to grad school to talk about teaching-related issues like standardized testing and the Common Core standards. I learned how to write lesson plans but not how to help children learn when they don’t already know the material and can’t learn by simply taking down notes. I didn’t learn how to manage a classroom. I didn’t learn what to do when I have 15-year-old students who think “sleepy” is a verb and don’t know how to count five or seven syllables in a haiku.

I don’t know how to be a teacher, and my kids are out of control, and I’m losing my mind trying to fix it. I want to be better, but I also just want to curl up in a ball and cry and never go to school again. This wasn’t my dream. My dream was to be a writer. Ever since I was six, I wanted to write for a living, but I knew a I needed a practical goal. So I tried editing. Not novel editing. Just copy editing. I wanted to edit grammar. But I couldn’t do that. And I couldn’t find a job at a coffee shop or anything. So I turned to teaching.

Let me tell you something – teaching should never be a backup plan. This isn’t a job you can do when your heart’s not really in it. Well, I guess for some people it is, but not for me. I started realizing this was the wrong choice last semester. My boyfriend would get all excited when Latin teachers followed him on Twitter. Most of his Twitter feed comes from fellow Latin teachers, actually. Mine isn’t filled with teachers. It’s filled with writers. That’s what I want to do. I thought I could teach to make an income and then write in my spare time, but it turns out I don’t really have that much free time, and what time I do have is spent freaking out and trying to postpone what feels like an inevitable heart attack, stroke, or nervous breakdown.

My chest hurts all the time, like someone of my height/weight (which, trust me, is quite large) is standing on it. Or like there’s a rubber band around it at all times, stopping my lungs and heart from moving properly. My head generally feels like someone’s squeezing it. I’m worried all the time. I haven’t had any fingernails since the move, another sign I’m freaking out. I’ve been eating like crap, worse than usual. I’ve done like 15 minutes of exercise since school started 3 weeks ago. Every single night I have at least one dream that involves school in some way. I wake up at least once a night, sometimes more. I’m tired all the time. I can’t remember the last time I was excited about something. Even this apartment and the cold weather and the Starbucks salted caramel mocha frappuccinos aren’t doing it for me. They make me smile a little, but that’s about it.

Hell, even the thought of NaNo isn’t making me happy. I’m just worried I won’t have time to do it, and I can’t work up any enthusiasm for any of my novel ideas, not even the new one that sounded like so much fun back in early July. It’s like this move and this job has sucked all the joy from my life, and there wasn’t even that much of it to begin with.

So, yeah, that’s been my life for the past two months. I’ve started seriously wondering if I have depression, and at least six Internet tests say that I do, in fact, suffer from severe depression. When my health insurance starts in October, I think I’m going to try talking to someone. I’ve felt like a failure since I graduated college, but it’s just gotten so much worse in the past couple months.

Sorry for the long, depressing blog post. How has everyone else been?

So I have 27 days to move to another state…

This has been the most stressful week of my life so far, and it’s about to get much worse. Better, sure. But worse first.

I guess I should start with some background information. My boyfriend and I are both teachers, or at least have certifications. He finished up his first year in May, and I just graduated with my Masters in Teaching in May. We were both looking for jobs and having trouble finding them. His problem stems from the fact that he’s a Latin teacher, and Georgia doesn’t really need a lot of those. My problems stem from the fact that I have no experience and am horrible at interviews. School starts August 4-11 in Georgia (depending on the county), and teachers start going back around July 28. Clearly, we were running out of time.

And then everything changed.

My boyfriend suddenly got three job interviews, one in Georgia and two in Virginia. He ended up being offered the one in Georgia and one of the ones in Virginia. As if two job offers in the span of 36 hours wasn’t odd enough, he also started talking to the VA principal about how I also needed a teaching job, and the principal informed him that an English job had just opened up, and he asked if I wanted to come in an interview. Obviously, I did, and as you can probably tell by the blog post title (or Twitter, if you follow me there), I got the job. So now my boyfriend and I will both be teaching at the same school.

Oh, and the principal and one of the assistant principals have both attempted NaNoWriMo and think it’s cool that I’ve done it for so many years. I mean, how awesome is that?

We’re both really excited to get these jobs. Virginia has a nicer climate than Georgia (or at least we’re hoping it does), and we love the area. The only thing we don’t love is that we now have 27 days to find an apartment 9 hours away from where we currently live, apply, get approved, find furniture, pack, move, and deal with all the normal first days of school drama. It’s exciting, but it’s already super stressful. Plus I feel horrible because my little sister is getting married and is in the process of buying a house, so my parents already feel abandoned by her, and now I’m moving out of state. Leaving them is going to be really hard. It’ll also be really hard to leave behind our friends here. We’ll obviously stay friends since most of our interaction takes place online anyway, but it still sucks. Of course, my boyfriend has already started researching ways that we can have our biweekly D&D nights online, so it might not be that bad.

But yeah, that’s what I’m dealing with now. I probably won’t be blogging that much in the next month, though I’ll try.

Anyone have any advice for someone leaving home for the first time? Or for someone moving far away for the first time?

Book Buying Hiatus

Those who follow me on Twitter might have noticed that I made a promise not to buy any new books or get any more books from the library until I had finished the ones I already had. The reason for this is because I recently bought 13 new books (each of them between $2 and $4), and I had 6 books out from the library, and that seemed a bit ridiculous.

Here’s a really poor quality photo of the books in case anyone’s curious (the punctuation guide at the bottom of the left stack isn’t new):

 

new books

 

Yesterday, I returned the six library books (having read four of them), and I was only supposed to pick up the book that was already on hold. Except I was already there, and there was one other book I really wanted to read, but I couldn’t remember the name of the author, so I decided to walk around and try to find it on my own. I never did, but I did find four other books that I wanted to read. So I already broke my promise, and then I broke it further by coming home and putting two more books on hold at the library.

BUT! This is actually the last time I will do that this summer. The next two months are for reading those library books and the 13 books I recently bought. I actually have so many more books to read beside just those 13, but I’m starting with those.

I’m running out of room on my bookshelves. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m already out of room. I have books stacked on top of and in front of other books. The tops of my bookshelves are covered with books. I have no room for more books, and my mother refuses to let me turn the guest room next door into a library. She’s saying I should start packing books into boxes to save for when I’m able to move out. At first I thought she was crazy, but I’m actually starting to think that might not be such a bad idea.

These are just two of my bookshelves. I have one more white one that's full but doesn't have multiple layers of books.

These are just two of my bookshelves. I have one more white one that’s full but doesn’t have multiple layers of books.

I’ve become one of those people who never throws anything out. My closet doesn’t have any room for more clothes, but I refuse to throw out shirts that I no longer wear, even shirts I’ve never worn. I keep holding onto things because I’ve paid money for them and am hoping I might one day find a way to use them. This might not be a problem if I had my own place and could spread out, but I don’t. I still live with my parents, which means I have to fit all of my stuff in one bedroom, a bedroom I also share with my boyfriend, so he has stuff there, as well. We definitely need to find a way to organize better, and I need to learn how to get rid of stuff I don’t need anymore.

And I need to stop getting more books. There was one time in high school where I finished a book and had nothing else in the house to read, so I had to make an emergency trip to Borders (R.I.P.) to find something to read. While I don’t anticipate getting back to that state anytime soon, I would at least like to have my TBR pile fit on a bookshelf. Which is why I’m actually enforcing my book buying hiatus – or I guess I should call it a book obtaining hiatus.

Who knows? Once I read through all the physical books I might actually get around to reading some of the hundreds that I have on my Nook.

What about you? Are you taking a hiatus from buying anything? Do you have any tips on how to keep your room more organized or de-cluttering your life? If so, please share!

Mid-Year Resolution Check-In

It’s only been a week and a half since my last blog post, so I guess that counts as progress. I wanted to write a post talking about what I’m working on and what my plans are for the summer, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet, at least not to the point where I have anything of interest to mention. That’s why I’ve decided to do a post looking at my goals for this year. I figured this might keep me on track and motivate me to keep going.

1. Learn Dvorak.
I’ve made no progress with this goal so far. Although now that I’ve thought about it, I am going to write the rest of this post using Dvorak. The good news is that I remember where all the letters are. The bad news is that it is taking me forever to type this. Of course, had I practiced this more, I would probably be faster by now.

2. Read 50 books, including the following: 10 classics, 10 New Adult, 10 nonfiction.
So far I have read 26 books. I am well on my way to hitting my overall goal. I’ve read half of the nonfiction, which is also good. I’ve only read 2 New Adult books and 2 classics. Definitely need to work on that.

3. Write 500 for WriYe.
Yeah, this is one goal I wasn’t even sure I would achieve when I made it. So far I’ve written about 22k, and while it’s possible that I might be able to hit 500k, I’m not really sure it’s going to happen.

4. Edit/rewrite Degeneration, For Real This Time, Alone, and Choices.
I’m a little over halfway through another edit of TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, which is oddly not on this list. I have also started making notes in preparation for another edit of DEGENERATION. So…I’m slowly making progress.

5. Rewrite Trail Magic and The Story of Em.
These are more NaNo projects, so I haven’t even started to work on them.

6. Find a critique partner (or more).
This is a hard one. Technically I found two CPs, but I haven’t heard from either in a while. I should probably keep looking. (Along that line – if you write mostly contemporary and are looking for a CP, let me know!)

7. Win NaNo.
It’s not November yet, so this doesn’t really apply.

8. Lose 50 pounds.
I wish. I have lost a couple of pounds, but we’re not even in double digits yet. Still, this goal isn’t completely unrealistic if I actually focus the rest of the year.

9. Graduate and get my teaching certification.
As I’ve already mentioned on this blog (I think), I have graduated. Got my diploma in the mail a few days ago. I don’t have my teaching certificate yet, but they’re working on it.

10. Find a job.
Also has not happened yet, though I do have an interview Wednesday. Hopefully that’ll lead to something good.

So, looking over my goals, it’s clear that I haven’t really made that much progress with most of them. I wish I could say I were more surprised, but I knew that I wasn’t being as productive as I had hoped I would be. I still have six months, though. I can still turn this around.

What about you? Did you set any goals for yourself for this year? If so, how are you doing with them?

I can explain…

Loyal followers of this blog (assuming there are any left at this point) might notice that it’s been rather a while since I last posted anything. More specifically, it’s been about three months, or fourteen weeks if you want to be picky. I like to think I have a good excuse for my absence, but I’ll have to let you all decide that for yourselves.

See, I just finished up my last semester of grad school. In ten days, I will be graduating with my Masters degree in Secondary Education, which means I will soon be certified to teach English/Language Arts to students in grades 6-12. It’s very exciting. And terrifying. And soul-crushing as I’ve only had one face-to-face interview with a school I really wanted to join but never heard back from.

Anyway, as easy as the actual degree was to attain, this past several months have been rather stressful. For those who don’t know, the last semester of a teacher prep program is student teaching, which means that I was in a high school classroom every day from the start of the semester (the first week in January) to the end of April. Actually, my last day was April 25. Most of my time was spent observing my cooperating teacher and others. For a full month, though, I was the teacher in charge. I taught all five classes and graded their work. I liked it, but it was really stressful, particularly because I didn’t really know what I was doing half the time.

I taught Romeo and Juliet to a bunch of ninth graders. I actually had a lot of fun with it, and by the end of the unit I had a better understanding of how to actually engage them in what we were doing (wish I had figured that out sooner, but better late than never, I guess). I’m actually really sad that my time with them is done. They might not all have been the best students, but I’m going to miss getting to talk to them each day. There are so many kids, especially in the lower level classes, that need more help than I was able to give them, and I wish I could have done more to try to help them.

The reason all this is (sort of) relevant is because I didn’t really do much of anything else while this was happening. I read a bunch of books (I’m up to 20 total for the year, because apparently that’s still something I can do when I feel too tired to do anything else), but I didn’t really get much writing done. I didn’t even write reviews for most of those books, which means I still have 14 book reviews to catch up. I also didn’t finish editing TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, which is now in its sixth draft.

But that is changing now. I’m done with school, and I’m going to start using this time to catch up on all the things I didn’t do before. I’ve already started, actually. I’ve edited three chapters in the past two days, which isn’t much but is a lot more than I have been doing. I’ve applied to more counties. I’ve exercised and made relatively healthy meal plans again. I’m getting back into the swing of things again. My goal is to get used to eating better and exercising and writing a little every day now, when I have free time, so that when I’m busy again in the fall, it’s not such a shock to my system.

I’ve also come up with a schedule to keep my on track for the next week and a half. I figure I have 21 chapters left to edit of TILT and 14 book reviews left to write. My goal is to write 2 book reviews and edit 3 chapters a day. I’m not entirely sure just how doable that plan is right now, but I’m going to start it tomorrow and see how that goes.