Happy Holidays + 2020 Blog Plans

Sorry I went MIA for December. I was not properly prepared Blogmas at all and hoped my enthusiasm would propel me through the month. I was wrong. I think if December had been more calm and uneventful, it might’ve. But I have no way of knowing these days what a month is likely to turn into. That’s one of the cons to being a part-timer twice over.

First let me say that I did not come back to simply do a December recap. I’ve recently come to some realizations that will affect this blog and where I want to dedicate time next year. So keep reading for all the news. This post will likely self-destruct next weekend.

This post became really long! I recommend getting a cup of coffee or tea, whatever floats your boat, and getting cosy.

December Recap

I mentioned in my monthly wrap up last month, that my parents were going to Las Vegas the first week of December and I was dogsitting Ty. I had really been looking forward to it, but it was a lot of work. I was happy to be free of the little menace by the end of it. He was here for eight days and it felt like eight months. I won’t get into it; I’m trying to repress it lol.

Rather than let this post become over-long, I will summarize the rest of the month in bullet points. For more context on job-related bullet points, I recommend refreshing your memory, or catching up, on my blog posts from November.

  • Decided I would in fact be leaving my Office Assistant job in February. I mentioned at length my predicament in a two-part blog series last month: Time to Talk About the F- Word and Carving my F- Path. I knew I didn’t want to be come full-time, but I was still optimistic they might make it work for me. Instead, I learned this month I would get what essentially amounts to a pay cut. So the job search resumed.
  • Lots of shopping. I was shopping for office decor, home goods, and Christmas presents (personal and for the office). I was close to becoming burned out on shopping. I also made so many returns this year too. It can be fun, but it was equal parts a headache at some point. This is the first year I can say I was happy when the holidays were over.
  • Company bowling party. That was a bit of a headache to coordinate, because we started late and we wanted to make sure it fell on a day everyone could attend. I didn’t even want to go in the end, but I’m glad I did. It was fun and went by so quickly.
  • Signed up for healthcare. Yeah. That’s a thing I had to do. It took some time and investigating options, and I realized it would probably be best to pick something reliably good so I could resume taking care of my on-going health issues before they become more problematic. I’ll be paying around $170 per month on this plan…I can afford it, but it’s not where I’d prefer my money to go.
  • Found out I could become full-time at my other job! I’ve kept my boss updated on my job situation and he said he could make me full-time next year when the other job is over. He probably could do it in January, but I think he wants to allow me time to wrap things up well over there. It was a surprise and something that has afforded me the freedom to think about what I actually want to do with my life instead of continuing to apply for other jobs…
  • Car issues. I had a Service Engine Soon light go on on my car about three weeks ago now and I wasn’t able to fix it before I had already drove to visit my parents. I took it to AutoZone and they diagnosed the problem with the Mass Air Flow Sensor…or Filter. I can’t remember. So the car was running really poorly, and I had to take it very easy on it. Once my Dad was able to look at it, he said the battery was corroding, so I’m glad I let him deal with that. I have a new battery now and the car is running more smoothly now. Whew.
  • Decided I want to grow my technical writing portfolio. Since August, I thought I wanted to become a virtual assistant. My inspiration was Rosianna Halse Rojas, who was John Green’s assistant and eventually turned into a producing partner or something like that. I wanted to assist amazing people with their creative projects. Long story short, I realized it makes more sense for me with my current situation to contract services that are less constrained to traditional work hours. So I now want to develop my technical writing skills and market them on a contractual basis.
  • Drove to visit my parents for the holidays. I spent five days in the valley and drove down there for the first time on my own. It was not a bad drive, other than on that Friday I drove down because it was raining. I’d hoped to work on the blog during that time, but I was happy to spend quality time with the family instead. I was also working remotely a few hours that Monday and Tuesday before Christmas, so I didn’t have the most time unless I wanted to ignore everyone around me for additional time. Opal had the best time and was only a little naughty. I felt guilty taking her back home with me.

I drove back to Austin on Christmas Day, so I’d have time to prepare for work on Thursday. I was the only person at the office, which is why I came in: so the full-time personnel could all have the day off. It was really nice. I enjoy being able to work alone when I have a lot on my mind, which is often. I got a lot done.

Friday was crazy. It was filled with more shopping, for office decor and plants. When I returned to my tech company job (I need to find a better short-hand for this job), I was bombarded with so many packages! My boss and I have both been ordering things, so everything got here while we’ve been out I guess. It was like Christmas, opening up the packages and putting things together.

That brings me to today. I’d hoped to get most of my housekeeping done before the weekend, but it didn’t happen. Allergies hit me hard when I got back and so did some old spicy queso I ate yesterday leftover from our company party almost two weeks ago. So it’s been a slow day at my apartment. And rainy so Opal’s been going a little stir crazy.

I only shared the major highlights of the month above, but there’s a lot of little things I could not see how to summarize in bullet points. But that brings me to my 2020 plans for the blog.

2020 Blog Plans

I feel like my blog has been on shaky ground all year long. It started off pretty well, but I’ve always gone back and forth over what I wanted this blog to be. I’ve wanted it to be a professional blog that I could share with employers, but I’ve also wanted it to be a space where I could document personal aspects of my life. When I’ve been forced to confront that I can’t do both, I’d step away and let other things preoccupy my mind.

Now with more changes on the horizon, I feel like I know what I have to do and what I would like to do. And for the first time, I think these two things are aligned pretty nicely.

First, let me provide some context because it will explain how limited I will be on time next year. I am most likely (I’m managing my expectations) going to be become full-time in February at the tech company I’ve been working part-time since October. I feel incredibly lucky. It’s a sweet gig. There’s going to be a lot of exciting things to work on: onboarding new employees, taking on more HR duties, and finding a new office to accommodate a growing company.

I might also land a new part-time job next week! I have an interview next week for a new part-time role in communications with a liberal dog policy. I could bring Opal! The hours sound like they will be primarily at night on the weekends. Ahh! It may have growth potential something more specialized in communications, which has me extremely excited.

So where does that leave the blog?

I have decided that I want to make this blog space a more professional space where I can showcase a portfolio of work and post creative job-related content related to office managerial work in small company settings, side hustles, digital creation, and technical writing. I might also dabble in internet analysis, because I find that kind of content fascinating.

I hope that everyone currently following my blog will find something to enjoy in the new blog direction I have decided to take. It doesn’t mean I’ll be removing my personality or life-sharing completely from future posts, but it will be less frequent. I may share tid-bits of life at the start and ends of posts. I really like the idea of quarterly Letter from the Blogger style editorial posts. I think that Instagram will become a more lifestyle-oriented place where you can keep up with how I’m doing on a personal level and to a lesser extent maybe Twitter.

I also still would really like to start YouTubing next year…But I feel like there’s enough that I need to sort out with this blog before I think about that!

This has become a really long post already. There’s more I thought I’d say, but I’d leave this post off here and a start a new one I’ll share tomorrow. :)

Thanksgiving 2019 Forecasting

Hello, it’s me. Lori. I’m back again. It’s 6:35 PM and I’m still trying to keep up with this daily blogging thing. I wrote the last two blog posts on Saturday, so I had the blog on autopilot for a couple of days there.

Monday was tough; I had day naps Saturday and Sunday that messed up my sleep schedule.

Tuesday was…is…Tuesday is today. Tuesday was busy! Lot’s happened at work and my main supervisor wasn’t there so the other two and I had to change course on something. It was part of an on-going project that’s been an issue for months. I’m being vague on purpose. I may talk about it in a few months’ time, when everything regarding this project is running smoothly.

Anyway! Like the title says I want to do some forecasting for the rest of the week and into the weekend. I’m not really doing anything for Thanksgiving this Thursday – a personal choice, don’t feel bad for me – and I want to get a lot of work done to get ahead on blog posts and my freelancing idea before it’s back to work again.

Plans Regarding the Blog

I’ve not explained why I’m daily blogging, and I don’t really have one. I feel like I’ve had a lot of hiatuses where I don’t blog and I don’t think about it either. So I never come back with a fresh take on it all. I think that there is a problem bloggers can run into where they overthink blog posts and impose limits on themselves for no reason outside their own heads. That’s what I think I let happen to me.

I feel like a lot of people treat their blog like a semi-professional thing, with schedules or content that follows a template. I’ve rejected schedules for a while, but not templates – until now. Daily blogging, for me, has been an act of resistance – against myself – a radical move to prove to myself blogging can be more personal. You don’t need to optimize for SEO, create blog graphics, or promote anything anywhere. People will read what you write and you will learn who cares about what you have to say. On that note, shout out to Jenn @ Bound to Writing!

However, I am not sure I want to continue daily blogging without doing all those other pesky things. After all, I want my blog to continue to grow and reach wider audiences. So this week, my plan is this:

  1. Continue daily blogging
  2. Create a backlog of short-form blog posts, organized by amount of time they would entail to complete with additional work (e.g. research, graphics)
  3. Create original blog assets

That last thing I’ve been saying I want to do for ages, but it’s always evolved into an excuse not to blog so then I don’t blog but I don’t create the assets either so I do nothing until I’m procrastinating on something else *cough* NaNoWriMo *cough* and the blog becomes attractive again. Ha! But now that I’ve torn down the walls that kept me from blogging (e.g. “I haven’t created the graphics” or “This idea isn’t good enough for a blog post”), I think I can keep up with regular blog posts while also working on blog assets.

By blog assets, I essentially mean blog graphics. I feel like blog graphics means the final product, but I rarely use the same final product twice. I like to customize header images to the blog post content. Take for instance Top Ten Tuesday. It’s the same main graphic, but I will type in the theme for the week. Assets could be elements of the graphic that are reused to make each blog post feel more consistently…on brand, I guess.

Plans Regarding Freelancing

I don’t expect it to be that easy to find clients or convince them to take a chance on me, but I do feel like that will be the hardest part: actually contacting them. So I’ve been procrastinating with the excuse that I don’t have a concrete list of services I can offer or pricing figured out. I want to do all that this week. I have a done research here and there, but I want to finalize things by Sunday. This will process will definitely become a blog post, don’t worry.

Misc.

I want to read. Academia.edu started emailing me out of the blue a couple of weeks again and it has reinvigorated my desire to read more research literature related to topics that interest me. I also want to read Social Update by Alice E. Marwick, because South by Southwest will be here before I know it, and I remember the conference/festival mentioned in it when I read excerpts in Fall 2015. Also I want to finally read Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, which I started at the beginning of the month before realizing it had nothing to do with the type of story I was trying to write.

On Sunday, not knowing what to do with myself, I actually picked up a book called The Tin Drum by Günter Grass. I don’t know what I was expecting, and it’s been a bit odd thus far. I’m not sure it’s the right thing for me to read right now, but I will endeavor to give it a chance for a few pages longer.

I don’t know what I’ll blog about tomorrow, but hopefully it’ll come sooner than today’s post. I’ll probably start it after I shower tonight.

Carving My F– Path

…or whatever you would call what I’m currently doing.

Just like I said, I’m picking up right where I left off in yesterday’s post, Time to Talk About the F– Word. I’m writing this on Saturday, and I feel like I’m getting a lot off of my mind and it feels good. To summarize what I’ve written thus far, I have realized that I am enjoying working part-time at the moment because it is allowing me the freedom to figure out what I what I want to do. And I’ve also come to the realization that I’m not following a commonly tread path.

There are a lot of things I want to do, and I do not see why I need to pick one and stick to just it. But I do think I should pick two or three to prioritize at any given time, or I’ll accomplish nothing. Which is how I got to where I am currently this Saturday night…sitting in my comfy chair…drinking coffee…while Opal sighs at my feet. Let me go take her for a quick walk.

Back. I am currently working two part-time jobs; this you know. After yesterday’s post, you now know why I have to think about my career again. The way I see it, I have a few options. And because there’s no telling which are the most likely to pan out, I have decided to pursue them all.

Here are my plans:

  1. Resume the search for new administrative part-time jobs, which would give me even more experiences and/or potentially become alternative stepping stones to my next big career move
  2. Freelance as virtual assistant
  3. Begin specializing

I will now go into more detail on each pursuit below.

Resume the Part-Time Job Search

So here’s the thing, I’m a little nervous about this. I’ve told my boss at the new(ish) job already that I have begun thinking about this because of the concerns of my situation at the old(er) job. I think I made it clear that it is not to replace the job he just gave me. I was hired with the knowledge that there was a possibility this job could potentially evolve into something full-time. And this is a shining beacon on my mind.

However, I do think that I would like my next part-time job to be similar in that it is the tech environment. I’ve found some options already, but some are full-time. There’s no guarantee anyone else would take a leap of faith on me, but assuming they did…I don’t know. I would hope that I could stay at this new(ish) job regardless, since I am able to do a lot of my work here from home anyway and would have no problem coming in on off hours.

But there’s no telling how my current or future bosses might feel about that. It’s highly unlikely I’d be put in a tough spot, but I have to be prepared for the possibility or I’d be an idiot.

Freelance as a Virtual Assistant

This one I’m super excited about and hope could work out well enough that I stay at my new(ish) job to see it through to the next level. I had been contemplating this line of work for a few years since learning one of my favorite YouTubers is an assistant to John Green, Rosianna Halse Rojas. I have always been captivated by a job that deals with a lot of different tasks, which is how I figured out administrative work might be the right line of work for me.

At my last Airbnb this summer I happened to be renting a room in the same house as an Australian romance author who was touring the states. She mentioned knowing a few authors who needed assistants – she even knew Rosianna!

So my goal is reach out to authors and other busy entrepreneurs who may need help with menial tasks like emails or customer service and work as a contractor that way. It’s a little nerve wracking but I have nothing to lose. And I feel more capable than ever now that I’ve been doing invoicing for my new(ish) job and know what I could use for accounting.

Begin Specializing

I’ve always admired people who were able to be jack or jane of all trades. I hoped that by diversifying my knowledges and skill set, I’d bring a lot more to the table wherever I went. Plus it would me the trouble of committing to any one job or path. I feel like my biggest weakness is also one of my best strengths, the ability of seeing multiple pathways to a goal or multiple solutions to a problem. But sometimes you just need to pick one lane and go all in.

I want to start doing this. I want to have a career plan. I want to know what I’m working towards – to know what all of this is about.

I feel like I know what I want all the effects of my work to be. I want to be able to travel, meet talented people, and be a job creator. But my exact path to getting there. That’s more complicated an answer. So I do feel like I need to start specializing in something that would be most likely to help me get to a place where I want to be financially.

More thoughts to come in the next blog post!

Time to Talk About the F- Word

… also known as the future

I can’t remember – and I don’t want to check – but I do not think I ever mentioned in any of my July blog posts my plans at the time to prepare PhD application materials this fall. It was something I was planning a whole blog post series about, to the point where I believe I have at least two blog posts still saved in my drafts about the kinds of programs I was interested in and the reputable places to which I planned on applying.

It’s so weird to think about July and how different my life would have been if I never ended up taking the plunge and moving to Austin. It’s depressing, and I refuse to go there tonight!

The reason I mention it at all is because I have realized I needed to think about my overall career plans again. Yes, I had hoped by taking this new part-time job this October that I was able to conclude the job search. But I was wrong. There’s a few things I did not mention at the time and some new things that I have recently realized that I will delve into a little in this blog post. I do not know who might read this post, so I’m treading with caution!

First, let me explain what happened when I took this new part-time job. Literally the day after I started, I discovered that the team at my other job was scrambling to find a way to make my part-time job both permanent and full-time. A sane person might have been thrilled, but I was terrified. I still love the team I work with, but even now when I think of the future there I can’t see it being something I would find satisfying forever. And I’m speaking here specifically about the main type of work I was brought in to do here: data entry, filing, and training material organizing.

So last month I was in a weird predicament. I wanted them to know I was in no hurry to leave this job and also that they need not waste time trying to find a way to make me full-time.

Now, because it’s pretty clear that I do not want to become full-time at this office, I do feel like my position may be in a little bit of jeopardy when my six-months expires in February. I know my training team would fight to keep me if that’s what I wanted, but I also know that it will become harder to leave the longer I stay. And I will want to leave before the end of next year.

This is where I get into territory I’m anxious to talk about…money.

I feel like I have probably mentioned salaries I’ve had at jobs I had earlier this year. It has not been good, and that was fine at the time. I was living with my parents and I enjoyed those other jobs for the most part, particularly my rec job. It was exactly what I needed for reasons I do not want to delve into at the moment. I don’t regret my time spent there in the grand scheme of things. I only truly regret two jobs I’ve had in the past and for the same primary reason: they killed my feet.

Compared to those other jobs, the job that brought me to Austin pays fantastic. But it was only enough to survive on and even then only because my parents still help out with other expenses (e.g. car insurance, smartphone data). I choose a more expensive apartment than my budget technically should have allowed for safety and peace of mind, so that’s on me, but I don’t regret that either. My mental health is heavily tied to where I live, so living somewhere nice is essential. And I love it here. I hope to extend my lease next year.

But here’s the other thing about that job. Even if I became full-time there, I doubt the hourly rate would have increased by much if at all. So my hours there would need to increase and the only true benefit would have been that I have health insurance. Yes, health insurance is important, but I can now purchase out-of-pocket for next year and keep my freedom.

The only true benefit of my current work situation is that working part-time has afforded me a certain amount of freedom. It’s why I can take two hour lunch breaks at the moment, which allows me to take care of Opal’s needs during the day. It is also why I have had the time to work on things that could qualify one day as side hustles.

I have gradually come to the realization that I may not be cut out for an ordinary life path. Most people my age have been able to start careers and start their own families, some right after their undergraduate degree. Meanwhile I have felt like I was not able to graduate from college (either time) knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I feel like I still do not know what I truly want out life, which is why I’m absurdly afraid of commitment to anything and anyone.

I have started to realize that maybe my problem has been that I have felt like I needed to choose a path, when really what I should be doing is carving one. So that is what I intend to do in 2020…

This post is becoming really long. I’m going to continue writing, but you will be able to read what comes next tomorrow.

I Haven’t Given Up on NaNoWriMo…

…but it’s highly unlikely I’ll win at this point.

I should have spent today writing, but I haven’t. This weekend was off to a great start, but my apartment is a mess and I have a lot on my mind. Where to begin with this blog post?

Let’s start with Friday.

Friday was our company Thanksgiving lunch at The Roaring Fork in downtown Austin. It was fucking amazing. I had spit-roasted half chicken, which is half a chicken roasted with green beans and sausage stuffing. Holy moly. Never have I had stuffing anywhere, especially a restaurant, where the stuffing could compare to – and maybe even surpass – my mom’s homemade stuffing. Side note: I managed to make a pretty good vegan one in 2017 that I would like to try to recreate if I can find any notes I made about it…

Anyway I wish I had been able to take a picture of my food, but I was surrounded by people I barely know and I don’t want to feel like a tourist – which I still totally am in this city. Hopefully I’ll find a way back to that restaurant one day.

I got home around 4 PM that day and was able to take a gorgeous walk with Opal. The sun hadn’t set yet and it was so beautiful, especially in contrast to the day that it started as – grey, misty, and cool. I posted pictures on my Instagram, which I rarely post on anymore.

So today I woke up normal time (around 5:30 AM) took Opal for a short walk and then went to the grocery store because I needed to buy coffee. I have my new coffee machine, as you might recall, and I ran out of my last Verismo pod yesterday. It took a little while to clean the machine before I could start brewing my first carafe, but it was great. I can’t wait to pick up better coffee at Central Market and other fancy schmancy places.

What have I done since then? you might be wondering. Well, as I mentioned at the start of this blog post, my apartment’s a mess at the moment. Did I clean? No! Well, just a little, but mostly no. I did some online shopping.It’s not as bad as it sounds; I only bought one thing. Well, I guess it’s still bad, because I wasted so much time today!

You see, my apartment becomes a mess quickly during the week because I still don’t have enough furniture for things to have a permanent place in the apartment. Most everything I end up using during the week or bringing home ends up on top of an IKEA table I got in 2015 when I moved to Dallas for grad school, Opal’s crate generously gifted by my parents, or my kitchen counter. I’m talking jackets, shoes (to keep them out of Opal’s mouth), recycling, mail, cleaning supplies, traveling mugs/food containers, etc.

There’s literally tiny mountains of junk behind me right now, which is why I wanted to finally buy some new furniture bits and bobs.

I’ve not done this sooner, because I’m still paying back money I borrowed to make my move over here this August. I tried to buy some new things in October after getting my new job, but thankfully Target ended up canceling the order – thankfully because it ended up saving me from a little more debt. I try to be pretty selective, because I want anything I purchase to be things I’ll be happy with five or ten years from now. I think I’ve done a good job thus far.

For all my efforts I only ended up purchasing the kind of matching media stand to my World Market desk. It’s in my favorite style, midcentury modern, and will go in my bedroom so I can set my TV and books on it. It will free up the boxes it currently sits on so that I can access the contents of those boxes and use those boxes in my living room as “table top” space.

I would really like to buy the shelves I got at work for home, but I figured I’d wait and see how they turn out before doing that! I also think white cubicle shelves would be great for out here in the living room, but it’s less urgent. Maybe it’ll be a January purchase.

Once the new stuff arrives, I may finally share a small apartment tour. I started one in October, but that furniture I mentioned never arrived – thankfully – and so I saved it in my drafts. I’ve since moved things around in here, but I think I will be as close I can will get to a final layout once the new shelves come in next week. I may endeavor to visit Home Goods next week and see if I can find anything else that would suit my interior style preferences.

Obviously furniture is not the only thing on my mind. I feel like it was a form of distraction from more serious matters. I’ll start that post after I publish this one and hopefully have it up bright and early tomorrow.

Plant Newbie Researching Office Plants

As I mentioned yesterday I am doing research at the moment on indoor plants for our office. It was one of the first things I remember my new boss expressing an interest in. One of his favorite new job experiences was receiving a desk plant upon onboarding. As we will likely be adding a new team member shortly, it is crunch time to getting our office looking professionally nice.

Our office is relatively small so we have to use our space fairly efficiently. As most of our seasoned  team members utilize most of their immediate desk space, I did not think it would be a good idea to force new plant buddies on them. The first natural steps in my rationale was to order new shelving as a space to place books, decorative pieces, personal items, and plants.

With some searching this week, I finally found something seemingly perfect.

My favorite thing about this particular shelving structure is that it is versatile. It can sit flush against the wall as it is in the picture, or it can be used to create the illusion of a partition in an open plan office space. We ordered two on Amazon, and I cannot wait for them to arrive. We haven’t decided 100% where we would like to place them, but I’m thinking they will likely move in a couple of months anyway as we relayout the office for reasons.

To circle this blog post back to the topic of plants, we will soon have a space for them. There are a few plant delivery services I have discovered online, including Bloomscape and Desk Plants. Hell, you can even buy plants on Amazon now apparently. But they are fairly costly for what you can purchase in person for much cheaper. Plus, you never know what quality they may come in. What we’ve decided is that I will go in-person to a local nursery and pick out a few things that I think will work.

My plan is to go…with a plan! I did not want to make a trip to a nursery and be overwhelmed with the choices or regret any purchases, so I’ve been looking into specific plant species and thinking about maintenance, upkeep, and style. And I’m glad I did. I have free reign with the plant purchases, but I am slowly realizing how significant my choices will be. There are a lot of visually stunning plants, but not everything would look good together necessarily. That’s without even considering pot styles!

So I’ve been thinking about what plants we would want to be our larger, statement plants for each room. I love plants with sprawling vines, but I also live for bonsai trees and jade plants. Would these all look good together? Maybe, maybe not. I am also trying to think about what smaller plants we would squeeze into our current spaces, what plants might be good to gift new employees, what plants might look nice in our kitchen or lobby.

I’m loving the idea of terrariums and other plant accessories like rocks and moss and zen sand gardens. I also like plant pot stands that can sit in corners. There’s so many options!

So over the next couple of weeks I will be developing an office plant plan. I want to identify plants that would look nice together in a single room, plants that could dominate a corner, and plants that inspire and can bring us together an office. As this plan comes into fruition, you can count on me sharing it here!

Lunch Time Coffee Chat ^_^

I broke the chain today of morning blog posts. Sorry to anyone who was coming to enjoy them. Hopefully I’ll resume with them tomorrow. I’m loving doing it and it seems like a lot of you are as well, so I want to keep it. This has turned into something really fun and fulfilling.

Today I took Opal to day camp, which is both why I couldn’t churn out a blog post this morning and why I’m able to type this up right now. I got home around 11:20 AM, got comfortable, and started preparing dinner. I feel a little guilty sending Opal away, even though I know she has fun and it’s good for her to be able to interact with others. But I still feel apologetic when I pick her up, so I wanted to make sure the apartment smells of beef caldo when we return this evening.

Making caldo is a process. You got to brown the meat for two minutes on each side, add cold water and gradually bring it to simmer. And before you can add the veggies, you have to skim the top of the grey bubbly foam stuff that rises to the top. I’m hoping I can do that before I need to leave at…1:15 PM? Yeah.

I chopped all the veggies up (carrots, cabbage, corn on the cob, and celery) already, so I just need to add them to the pot when I get home. I’m too squeamish about leaving the stove on while I’m away, even though it’s an electric one, which means the caldo probably won’t be actually ready until about 9 PM. Thankfully I shouldn’t be too hungry after work.

These days I require an afternoon coffee to keep myself from getting drowsy at work around 4 or 5 PM. So my lunch today is a coffee and belVita, which is oddly filling.

I’ve just used the last Verismo pod I had for my Starbucks coffee machine, and I am so excited. This weekend I bought a new coffee machine, a traditional one that requires grounds and a coffee filter. I’m so excited. I’ll be able to try new kinds of coffee AND program the machine to start in the morning before I get out of bed. Have any coffee recommendations? Leave them in the comments. Preferably recommendations I can find in US grocery stores or order cheaply online!

Work has been pretty fun this week, at both places. At my new-ish job, I have been doing a lot of shopping, for company swag, office snacks and organization, and even decor. It’s awesome. I’ve never been a plants person, but it was one of the first things my boss said he wanted to get for the office. Since we both no nothing about plants, I’ve been doing some research. It’s become really fun!

Now THAT is a blog post idea. Maybe tomorrow’s…We’ll see. It’s 1:09 PM! Got to go.

A Typical Day in the Life

My work-life balance is at an all-time weird for me. I thought I’d document it here on the blog today, because I think it’ll help explain why I struggle to write and blog these days. In hindsight, it gave me some clarity on how I can make better use of my time!

I wake up every morning between 5-6 AM. I have multiple alarms, starting as early as 4:30 AM, and the ones I select to turn on each night depend on how late I end up staying up; proper bedtime is never as early as it should be. Once I’m out of bed, I get a coffee going. Sometimes I have belVita breakfast biscuit, but more often I do without. Although this week I’ve had reheated oatmeal I made in bulk this weekend.

The earlier I wake up the more time I have to write or work on other personal things before I have to leave for work. Depending on where I work that morning and how much I have to do, I usually have to be at work at 7:30, 8, or 9 AM. If I am going in to work 9 AM, then that usually affords me time to walk Opal to a nicer area a little further than where we live. Otherwise I try to arrange a leisurely walk around the apartment complex before too many others are up and about.

I will work until 11:30 AM or 12 PM and return home for about two hours to walk Opal, give her lunch, and have my own. Lunch is usually a sandwich or leftovers. This part of the afternoon goes very quick. I’m not currently very good at being productive during it, so I’m happy if its nice enough weather to give her a longer walk so it counts towards my own exercise.

I go back to work at the other job at 2 PM and work until about 6 PM. Since the time change, it is dark when I get home and it very much feels like the day is over. The first thing I immediately need to do is walk Opal again, and usually this is a longer walk to apologize for leaving her again in the afternoon. Then I figure out dinner, which is usually quick and unhealthy if I don’t feel like cooking, which is most days.

Lately I have been taking Opal to a day camp once a week, which I plan for days when I have more flexibility at work to take a little extra time for myself to write this November. On these days I can go to a cafe or take care of errands at lunch without needing to come home.

I feel rather fortunate to have been able to set my own schedule for the most part at both of my jobs. I just need to figure out how to make time for my personal projects. I think weekly goals might help and better organization, which is why I really want to pick up the bullet journal again this December and plan for 2020.

Moving Out

Shortly after my last blog post, I found out that I would need to be moving out at the start of August! My parents finally received an offer on their house – a good one – and they accepted it. So they are closing on August 2, 2019. There are now less than two weeks left, so most of my time will be spent packing up the things that will follow them to their new place and the things that I will want to keep close to me.

After some back and forth, I decided to move in with my aunt and uncle for at least a month, and I will have some extra time to decide if I want to move into an apartment in September or December. The main thing holding me back has been the need to sign a lease for x-number of months. I’ve not been sure how long I want to put down roots in this area. I don’t know what else might come up! I’ve done some more job applications, here and elsewhere. If I receive a job offer in Austin, I’d prefer to be able to relocate quickly and with no hold ups.

What I’m currently thinking is that I still plan to apply to graduate school this fall, so I would not mind signing an apartment lease that would end in August 2020. I can also see myself halting the job search for the time being to focus on my current work and graduate school applications for the rest of this year. Then next year, if I have the time, I can start applying for jobs that could potentially uproot me before graduate school would.

Over the next seven days, I will be preoccupied with work, packing, and moving into my aunt’s house. I don’t think I will have extra time to blog, but one of my goals for the summer was to always prepare for fall blog content. If I have time to spare, I will use it to start planning blog posts. I’ve had so many ideas, I just need to find the time to execute them. I’ll essentially be working 40 hours a week now, but I do think I will have the time and energy to pursue the things I’m passionate about.

August Plans

Although summer is nearly at its end, I am finally going to have time to apply myself to the goals I set at the beginning of July. In my spare time outside of work, I will begin to polish old student work to use as writing samples and working on other materials required for graduate school applications.

It seems like I may have spare time at my new tutoring gig to work whatever I would like to on my MacBook Pro, so I will take advantage of that opportunity whenever possible. Right now for instance, it is slow so I am taking time to write this little life update! I will probably work on graduate school applications today and start making a plan for blog content if I don’t have too much to do this morning or in the afternoon. Yesterday no students walked in for the last three hours I was working. Of course, I realize it won’t always be like that!

End Note

I’m currently at work as I finish up this blog post! I have spent the morning looking up PhD Programs in library and information science. I am recording all the application requirements and making sure they have generous financial aid that will allow me to focus on my studies and professional development. I will probably apply to about 4–5 different programs for safety, and the best case scenario will be that I will have options to make the best possible choice for future opportunities. In case you are curious, one of my many blog plans is to share more about this process over August.

Thank you for reading!
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My Summer Plans

Hello, and welcome back to The Inky Saga! I meant to share my summer plans back in May after my last life update post (Notes on the Last Few Weeks) in which I began to delve into my job search journey and my new blogging priorities. Fortunately I didn’t because a lot has since happened that I wouldn’t have not been able to anticipate at the end of May or even last week! Thankfully, summer has only just now properly begun, so this post is not that late.

SEE: JUGGLING TWO JOBS + AUSTIN DREAMS

While I will be working nearly 40 hours a week now and continuing to apply for full-time jobs, I do hope to make the most of my time off on weekends and in the evenings to pursue my other passion projects, this blog included. I also have one major goal for this year, which is to finally apply to PhD programs, so I will need to find the time to prepare my applications materials over the summer and into fall.

The main reason I wanted to write this post, however, is I want to share what you can expect from this blog for the next few months. I know that people have decided to follow The Inky Saga for a plethora of different reasons. While in the past I have considered myself a book blogger, I’ve not used that title for almost a year now. I will never stop talking books, but there may be periods of time where I don’t have much to share on reading.

Right now I’m more interested in blogging about other things that matter to me, including topics relating to lifestyle, side hustles, and creative projects.

With all that in mind, I will now be working around 40 hours per week at two part-time jobs, while still trying to keep up with my Red Cross volunteer work, at least through August. I expect to be short on time, especially if I want to prioritize my physical health as well as my mental. So what does that mean for reading, writing, blogging, bullet journaling goals? Well, that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out!

1. Redesign my blog graphics. I’ve been excited to do this for a long time! It’s an intimidating process, because I am by no stretch of the imagination a graphic designer. Also I can be impatient when I’m trying to create something I’ve never made before and it’s not happening fast enough! However, I think I have finally figured out how to conquer this task and am finally ready to get started. I’m just going to break it into smaller tasks and document it along the way.

  • Blog header. I was playing around with Canva last month when I made the placeholder graphic I’m currently using for the blog right now, the blue and pink ombre background with a constellation motif. I’m not super happy with it, but I felt I needed something right now that better illustrated what this blog has become over the past few months. I have clear idea of what I want to make and I will likely share my creative process next month as I start to dedicate more time to it.
  • Blog post assets. I use the word “assets” here because that’s the best word I can think to use to describe what I mean. I learned it in a user-experience design class that I took in grad school. For me, it essentially refers to imagery that can recur in your product (i.e. app, website, blog etc.) that is evocative of the “brand” you have. I’ve used some recurring graphics (e.g. my End Note cloud and my Top Ten Tuesday paint-splashed featured image) in the past, but they are not very unified in color or theme.

2. Prepare fall bullet journal content. I also plan on getting back into my bullet journal content this summer after the fail that was June, but I really want to be able to hit the ground running in September as far as bujo content goes. I’d love to be able to post more on Instagram and maybe ultimately YouTube channel, but overall I want the blog to a central place for all my details and tips about keeping a bujo.

If this post had gone up in June, like I originally planned, I might’ve had a writing goal. But considering my work schedule will be increasing, I did decide I needed to put that dream on the back burner. I tried writing a little in June, but I wasn’t able to get very far. Maybe once I’m better settled into a routine and after I’ve moved (either to Austin or somewhere local) I’ll be able to think more about writing.

For anyone following this blog for bookish content, rest assured that will not be stopping! I just don’t feel an urgency to read for the sake of blogging about it. I’m in a big contemporary/mystery mood still this year and would like to make a better use of my library, so expect less polished reviews and lists and maybe more casual reading updates.

My professional plans relate to the job search and potential future career paths. I am a strong proponent of having a back up plan. PhD programs have always been my back up, not because I don’t truly want to do it, but because I didn’t want to jump into a program as fast as I did my Master’s and not have an ultimate goal in sight. So while I work on my application, I’ll have time to research the programs in which I’m interested and also think long-term about what I want to accomplish after a PhD.

1. Prepare for GRE. I took the GRE in February 2017 and did just okay. I think with more preparation I could do a lot better. I don’t know that scores would be a big part of my application, but anything that might help me get into a competitive program is worth working on. So my goal is to retake the GRE in November or December.

2. Polish my Capstone project and writing samples. I am really proud of the papers I wrote the last year of grad school and always knew what I could do make them amazing after I received my feedback on them. There’s also a major chunk missing of my Capstone that I still need to complete, so hopefully I can figure that out this summer.

3. Revamp my resume/CV. I may need to do this first! I’ve used the same resume layout that I designed in 2015 while I was a senior at ISU. I still love the way it looks, but I’ve received more than a few hints that it may not be the best showcase of my experience and skills. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but I think it’s time to start completely fresh.

4. Write a teaching philosophy. I want to apply to instructor positions at colleges/universities, and the one thing that has held me back is my lack of this piece. I’ve always thought I might like to teach at the university level, so this document may be really be a helpful reflective exercise for me. It may be something that comes in handy for other tutoring jobs or even my graduate school applications.

If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, I want to make sure that I am prepared for future opportunities that come my way. I’m finally in a place where I’m excited to prepare for the future and feel like it might start to look brighter. Maybe it’s because I just discovered Netflix’ Queer Eye and feel so inspired about self-improvement!

Thank you for reading!
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