Mid-2017 Evaluation: Where Do I Go From Here?

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I’m a little stunned that we’re already in the middle of 2017. It is friggin’ July, this is wild. What even is time? It is ridiculous how fast it flies. So much has happened in the last six months. I don’t think I am where I wanted to be at this time when the year began, but it isn’t the worst place to be. 

I went back to take a peek at my 2017 blogging resolutions, and so far, haven’t done any of them justice. I’m way behind on my Goodreads goal, I haven’t made or stuck to a blogging schedule, I took on extra reading challenges and didn’t manage to keep up with them, I fell behind on the Social Justice Book Club, and I haven’t really discussed any books with problematic rep on my blog. I had to scale back on the layout of this space because I couldn’t afford full membership, but needed some modicum of self-hosting control. All of this is getting me down. These all seemed like reasonable goals at the beginning of this year, but I definitely didn’t anticipate how much of my time would get sucked in our giant move in the first half of this year. I didn’t anticipate the toll it would take on my mental and physical health. I’ve experienced more identity crises in the last 11 months than ever before. I’m still looking for full-time employment. The world seems to be even more of a shitfest than before. These aren’t really excuses, nor am I looking for condolences or sympathy, they’re just things I didn’t anticipate happening or affecting me as much as they are.

Some good things happened too- My Chicago vacation and the annual professional conference I attended went super well. I took on some projects I’m really excited about, and I’ve got clearer career and academic goals in mind since then. Living in India definitely offers me more freedom in terms of movement and having close friends in the same city. My reading pace has picked up in the last couple of weeks, and I feel good about that. 

Given all of these things, I’m taking another stab at my 2017 resolutions:

  1. Blogging schedule: I’m going to set myself a goal of publishing once a week. It doesn’t seem like a lot, and it’s fairly low response effort, but right now consistency is key. If I do more, great, but if I do at least one, it’ll be better than month-long breaks.
  2. Social Justice Book Club is coming back in August- I’ll be announcing the details of that this weekend. We’re going back to a bi-monthly schedule, so hopefully that helps.
  3. I’m going to work on really, really evaluating the time and space I have available before participating in reading challenges.
  4. Catching up on ARC reviews, and cross-posting on Amazon and Goodreads. 

I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I’m sincerely grateful for every person that follows my blog, reads my stuff, and takes the time to comment. I’m always shocked when anyone visits this space, given that my content is so erratic. Please know that I value each and every one of you. Thank you.

-J

2016: Reflections and Resolutions

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Disclaimer: Several existential crises about attaching meaning to arbitrary cycles of time occurred during the drafting of this post. 

Ahem, okay. 2016. Trashfire year, to say the least. However, there’s some good stuff once you wade through the garbage, and I’m taking the time to be grateful for the little things. 2016 is the year I joined the book community on the internet, and it still amazes me to know that there’s people out there that read, breathe, and revere books the way I do (and some even more). I made some fantastic friends, some of whom I got to know in real life, and all of whom have been absolute hearts (you know who you are). I discovered so many social justice warrior gems who inspire me everyday with their outspokenness and general badassery. I also discovered that my drug of choice is participating in readathons and reading challenges, regardless of how well I do in them. It is the year I started blogging about books, albeit sporadically, and also the year I realized the purpose of this blog. All of these things give me the warm fuzzies, and I’m taking this moment to be grateful for that. 

I’ve learnt several things about myself as a reader this year, and I’m choosing to use those things to shape my reading as we enter the next year. 2017 is going to come with a hell a lot of challenges as it is, and I’d like to make sure I keep chipping away at making my happy place a worthwhile place. 

In terms of numbers, this year has been a success. I’ll be ringing in the New Year with my 228th book, which is the most I’ve read any year ever (last year I read 53, I think). I’ll be setting a goal of 250 books next year, which I think is pretty doable. I’m woefully behind on updating my spreadsheets and the running list on my blog, but I have finally completed all my social obligations  so those should get done soon. 

I’ve talked before about wanting to read mindfully, and this is something I’d like to continue working on. While high numbers are an adrenaline rush, I’d like to be really absorb and sit with what I’m reading, and be able to look at my reading material critically.

As for reading challenges, I’m narrowing those down to a chosen few. I’ve learned that I prefer readathons, especially ones like Dewey’s where I can go full blown introvert and hole up with my books and the bookternet, so after having dabbled in a bunch of reading challenges this past year, in 2017 I will be doing the following: 

As mentioned earlier, I’m joining the wonderful Kerry in hosting Social Justice Book Club, and it’s been so great working on the behind-the-scenes stuff with her. We’re actively working on making this a meaningful experience for all our participants. We’re also working on selecting books that cover social justice intersectionally, which I’m super stoked about. The intention is to continue learning and using that knowledge to do good, and I’m working on these intentions being reflected in actual, actionable steps. 

I have several things I want to work on with blogging, and I’m trying to remember that I’m still brand new to this, so taking it slow is key. I do not want blogging to be an aversive experience, so I’m going to take a couple of things at a time and work on them. Manageable goals are less stressful, especially since there’s so many other uncertain variables in my personal life.  

I’d like to work on an actual posting schedule. It’ll help with accountability, generating content, and writing more reviews. It’ll also motivate me to chalk out time to work on these posts, rather than scramble in the wee hours of the morning in sweaty panic because that’s just unnecessary. 

Another thing I’ll be working on this year is to write better reviews. This means having something meaningful to say besides just gushing about books I love, because I think it’ll just generally help improve my writing, so two birds, one stone. I’m also going to use this as practice to critically analyze books- plot, writing style, character development, etc.- and generally have more nuanced content. 

Of course, as I’ve said earlier, the purpose of this blog is to support and promote marginalized voices. I think a part of this is also being able to discuss problematic rep. While I’ve been part of a fair number of these discussions on twitter, I think using the blog for this is equally crucial, especially since there’s very few POC/LGBTQIA+/disabled bloggers, and we need to keep having these conversations about inclusivity and representation if we hope to make a dent in publishing. 

I’d like to take this moment to thank you guys- friends, readers- for having stuck with me all through 2016. I don’t think there’s words that will adequately describe what this community means to me. It’s changed my life. I’m looking forward to all of the wonderful things you will be doing in 2017, and I will be cheering you on all the way.

Let’s kick 2017’s ass.

-J

 

 

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: May 4, 2016

Hiya!

It’s Wednesday, which means it is time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous.

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But first, HAPPY STAR WARS DAY, ERRYBODY! MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU

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Before we start, go check out Swapna Krishna‘s cute collage homage to Star Wars. She’s one of my favourite Twitter nerds that I follow. 

The Bookish:

  1. I haven’t gotten much reading done this week, life stuff has me so jittery I am book-hopping but not finishing. Not a fan. I am a poly-reader, but that means that my reading is planned. Book-hopping is me picking up a book, reading 2 chapters, remembering that I have all these others going on that have review/book club deadlines, stress out and pick up the next book, rinse, repeat. So, not fun.
  2. Shaina and I have started book 3 of The Raven Cycle- Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and I think this one will be my favourite of the series. 
  3. The R. K. Narayan readalong is happening this week! I started Malgudi Days last night, and was hit by a wave of nostalgia of middle-school English periods. 
  4. I’m a rogue member of a Facebook Book Bloggers BEA meet-up group, simply because I want to hang out with the bookish people. I know, shameless move, but they indulged me. 

The not-so-bookish:

  1. I’m still waiting to hear back from that one uni I was talking about last week. The thing is, it’s May and as each day goes by I keep having this sinking feeling that my paperwork snafu has cost me potentially being accepted into this program that I really want to go to, because frankly, it’s the only PhD program I care about. They’re doing the exact kind of research I want to be doing, so it makes me sick to think that not receiving the right email about that second portal link is going to get me rejected, as opposed to just not being a strong candidate. I think this is a big part of why I’m jittery, because I’m definitely not sleeping well. My poor parents are being supportive as hell and being super positive, which is really sweet but not doing anything to calm my nerves about it. Anyway, I began the first steps of my plan B in motion (going back to India to work) and got in touch with some people that I will be meeting with at the ABAI conference later this month, so we’ll see. 
  2. I’m doing a little grocery-budgeting/eating more home-cooked meals self-management intervention this week. Basically, grocery shopping everyday, but buying just enough stuff for two square meals (dinner+ packed lunch for work). I’m going for several outcomes here: 1. Comparing how much money I spend per week going daily vs. once weekly; 2. Less food wastage (food spoilage was happening a fair bit); 3. Less likely to order take-out or buy lunch; 4. Making an effort to eat low-carb dinners (stress on low); and 5. The grocery store environment becomes so routine that I’m not “tempted” to buy stuff that’s not on my grocery list, because I’ll be there everyday. I’ve not been successful with meal-prepping for the whole week when I’ve tried before, so I want to see how tackling it everyday works. It’s been 3 days so far, and other than craving bread after 11 p.m. in the night on the first day, I’ve been doing well. We’ll see how that goes. 
  3. ICYMI: May is national Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Margaret Cho, along with Ellen Oh and Nerds of Color, organized a twitter chat tagged #whitewashedOUT, which basically called out Hollywood for its whitewashing of very Asian characters (most recently, Doctor Strange, Ghost In A Shell, etc.) and spurred thousands and thousands of tweets from Asians across the board about all of their personal stories, interactions, questions, life-choices, feelings, etc. of the racism that has been directed at them in an astounding variety of circumstances/situations. I was tempted to link some think-pieces, but I’ve instead just linked the twitter-feed. Go check it out, listen to the stories, understand their rage. It is necessary. 

That’s all from me folks! What’s your week looking like?

-J

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 27, 2016

Hiya!

It’s Wednesday, which means it is time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous.

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The Bookish:

  1. Faith #4 IS OUT TODAYYYYYYY! Make your way to your nearest comic bookstore, I sure did. img_20160427_095722220.jpg
  2. Dewey’s readathon happened last Saturday. (I feel like I have talked about all of the things to death so I’m not elaborating any further)
  3. Went to a sidewalk sale the day after readathon (totally worth it)sidewalksale
  4. Signed up for #SmashYourStack.
  5. Lady Liberty bookmail: The galleys I won from her newsletter and her teespring sticker came in yesterday.

     

  6. Got me some literary swag from Book Riot: Maybe I will do a whole blog post of all of my literary t-shirts/swag. Let me know in the comments if that is a thing you’d like to see 🙂
  7. Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day, and I’m planning to drag D to a few bookstores around town to spread the book-buying guilt. 
  8. Making new Snapchat besties with Andi and Shaina (hey, bonding over readathon delirium maketh friendships for life).

The not-so-bookish:

  1. Went to check my application status on a university’s portal, couldn’t find my application on there. This launched a full-blown panic attack followed by scrambling to get in touch with the school while simultaneously trying to fill out another application to send to them. Turns out, they sent a second email asking you to log onto a second portal to monitor your application status, and of course, I had never received that email. Finally received it last night, turns out they want vaccination records, so guess who has to go get shots tomorrow (ow) because I don’t have any records of immunization shots from the last 10 years. I know I’ve had them, but they were so long ago I’m sure my parents don’t have any of those records lying around. Unis ask for the most random things, I swear.
  2. Got invited to a wedding in June by my parents’ ex-neighbor, who wasted no time talking my ear out about how disappointed she was in my mum not attending the wedding and even probed me for information to verify my mum’s reasons for not being able to attend Yeah, that was not fun. People are so….anyway.
  3. Watched Lemonade last night. ’nuff said.
  4. ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysts International) Conference is happening next month, and I’m looking forward to attending it. Gotta make my spreadsheet and peruse the schedule to see what talks I want to attend. Gotta collect ’em CEUs, baby.
  5. On the mood/mental health front: Doing better. Taking it one day at a time. This nasty cold I’ve got going combined with the dreary Chicago weather has me sleeping in the last couple of days, which I’m not liking. I’m trying not to make too much of it. Got some tight deadlines at work, and it is stressing me out but I’m continuing my one-step-at-a-time approach. I have a lot of work but I’m not feeling productive, know what I mean?

That’s all from me, for now. What’s your Wednesday forecast?

-J

 

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 20, 2016

Happy hump day!

It’s Wednesday, which means it is time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous.

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Let’s start with the bookish ones, because those are way easier:

I got to host the Dewey Readathon’s twitter two nights in a row, which was a pretty great time. Chatted with fellow participants, answered/redirected people’s questions, talked about readathon stacks, game plans, beverages, cheerleading, and all of the other fun stuff. If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time! TWO MORE DAYS WHAAAAAAAAAT!

I have been reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson as part of Social Justice Book Club and it has been going slowly, only because I have to put it down after reading each chapter to process my feelings. I even put it down for a couple of days because it got very intense. I am hoping that they keep #SJBC going so that I have an opportunity to read other books like this one. Intense, but necessary reads.

I have been doing well with my self-imposed book ban so far; however, Open Books tweeted that they will be doing a Sidewalk Sale this Friday through Sunday. Purchases would support their literacy programs, so yeah, I’ll probably end up there either on Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping this motivates me to get through a chunk of books on Saturday, so at least I’ll be taking books of my TBR stack. Oh well. I’m not even sorry

Book Riot Read Harder book club tomorrow night. We meet at Roscoe Books at 7.30 p.m. If you’re in the Chicago area, you should definitely join us! I’m bringing snacks, and there’s always wine.

I finally signed up for NetGalley and Blogging For Books!

Other life things:

I had been feeling very unmotivated at work since that one work success a little while ago. Severe avoidance behavior along with negative verbal behavior, and feelings of frustration. Talked to my friend and co-worker E about it and she offered some great suggestions. Implemented a couple of those today- made detailed to-do tasks, set timers for each task, prioritized the ones I had been avoiding, and it worked well today! At the end of my work day I was feeling really productive- wrote E an email expressing my gratitude, with a game plan to tackle other work stuff in the same way in the next week. 

My general future course is ridiculously uncertain at this point; I’m having severe anxiety about where I will be in the next few months, which are contingent on being accepted into grad school. I have received a couple of rejection letters already, went through the entire grieving process with each of them, but my general level of anxiety varies from day to day. The funny thing is I have a semi-decent plan B, but the anxiety is so crippling at this point that it is preventing me from taking action steps toward my plan B. This has definitely been a factor in the lack of work motivation. All the anxiety about said uncertainty is also alienating me from family and friends, because they have the best intentions, but most of the time I’m not even in a place to talk to them about it or hear the things they have to say. One of my closest friends has expressed his concern and how he is feeling the effects of my behavior. On the good days like today, I’m motivated to take action about it- I consciously made the effort today to reach out and check-in with him. On other days…I spend an hour talking myself into getting out of bed first thing in the morning and going through the motions. 

The thing is, I had experienced a similar transition about 3 years ago (undergrad to grad school). I will say I didn’t handle it too well- lot’s of lonely nights spent in my apartment( and a lot of booze). I’m grateful that I have a job to go to this time around, because at the very least I am accountable somewhere. I’m also a little older, and wiser, and my 24-year old body cannot handle alcohol like by just-out-of-college-21-year-old one did. I am also more comfortable with and highly value my alone-time now (reading time, plus a human services job can be emotionally and intellectually draining when I’m being productive). At this point, I am just taking it day to day. I can’t really complain, I know I have well-meaning people in my life, I just do not know how to adequately communicate all of these things to them. My goal right now is to use the strategies from days like today, and arrange my environment by putting these self-management strategies in place in advance, so that they take their course on the next day. This blip of positivity I am feeling today, I hope to carry with me tomorrow. 

Sorry if that got a little too deep. A medium to write is allowing me to articulate my private events, which is cathartic. 

Current mood: I want to skip the next two days to #readathon! Hope you guys had a great Wednesday 🙂

-J