Meet Opal | Clear The Shelters 2019

Opal | Clear the Shelters 2019

Saturday, August 21, 2019 was Clear the Shelters 2019, a national event in which adoption fees are waived at animal shelters. During this event you can visit a shelter and find a number of adoptable pets who have been vaccinated and spayed or neutered and are ready to meet their forever family. Even though I’m still in the process of moving, I was aware of this event ahead of time and knew that I might stop by and try to find a dog that would be my new companion in Austin.

I have been looking at pet listings online for our local animal shelter for literally months, probably since May. I was hoping I may be able to trick my parents into adopting, since Ty was adopted in June 2013 on whim to be a companion to our German Shepard Apollo after we lost Max, my childhood dog. Of course, Ty is much more of an independent spirit while also being the most cuddly of any of our previous pets. He would probably be fine if he stayed an “only child” the rest of his life.

Once I realized I could likely move out on my own this year, my search became more fevered to find a pet for myself. All my life, my parents have warned me not to get dog before I can fully provide for it financially. As someone who is fully aware of the cost of a dog and the time commitment it is, I have still longed for one to call my own. Even if it might make my life tougher financially, I felt like the benefits far outweigh the challenges. But as consequence, I did not feel safe sharing my plans with anyone! I refused to give anyone the chance to talk me out of it.

Even though I have yet to move into my apartment and will not yet have very stable income, I decided to visit the animal shelter this weekend and see if there was a dog I felt would fit into my life. I knew it would be a challenging week, but I was certain that if I found the right dog then the short-term challenges would be nothing in the grand scheme of things.

With all this mind, I wanted to share my Clear the Shelters 2019 adoption story and my first weekend spent bonding with Opal.

Clear the Shelters 2019

When I arrived at the animal shelter, I could tell it had already been busy. The shelter had been open just about an hour thus far and many of the smaller dogs were already taken. It was a little discouraging because I know I could not handle a big dog on my own and also that I couldn’t take on the responsibility of a puppy. Puppies are adorable, but they are much more work than I am currently willing to take on! Plus, mutts can be like a slowly unveiled mystery box. You don’t know how big they might eventually get if you get them when they are puppies!

I wanted a slightly older dog from the beginning, because I knew its energy level would be lower. An adult dog would be far more likely to be fine lazying about the apartment while I went to work and not cause much damage.

I found her in the last room I almost missed. Opal was one of the dogs I had seen online over the last couple of weeks. There had been a few dogs on my mental list to try to find in person, and I only managed to find about 3-4 of them. Her kennel mate was jumping over her in his/her own excitement. While Opal was interested in the people who walked by, she didn’t jump at the door or bark. She remained calm and collected, and I felt I had found my match the moment I laid eyes on her.

After grabbing her kennel card and getting a Clear the Shelters 2019 volunteer to help me get her out, we took her outside to see how she acted one-on-one. She didn’t pull on her leash and walked really well. One thing we talked about really early is her health condition. She had tested positive for giardia and heartworms when she arrived at the shelter. She was also showing possible signs of kennel cough, which can be contagious to other dogs. That was a little concerning, but from her walks she did not seem to be too badly affected by anything yet.

She was on some medications but hadn’t started heartworm treatment yet, despite being at the shelter for almost a month. I learned about options for her treatment and decided I still wanted to adopt her. It wasn’t ideal, but I felt I was doing a much bigger service by adopting her now that I was aware of the reason why she was probably still at the shelter. There is a foundation that helps pay for the heartworm treatment of pets adopted from shelters, so I am currently eagerly awaiting their response to my application and email.

Our First Weekend Together

We had a lovely weekend together after Clear the Shelters 2019 before I needed to return to Austin for work. Opal slept much of the time, and after she learned she was allowed in my bed it was hard to get her downstairs! I wanted to let her outside a bunch so she knew she didn’t ever need to pee or poo indoors, but she showed little interest in the outdoors. When I would hang out downstairs to cook and eat, she would often wander off by herself to go back up the stairs to get into my bed. When I would walk into my room, her tail would immediately start wagging, even if she wasn’t facing the door. She is such a sweetheart.

Opal In Bed
Lori’s New Dog Opal Resting in Bed

Our first night in the bed together, there was a lot of space between us. However, she gradually inched closer, and by daybreak she was in my face ready to say good morning. The next night I had realized that personal boundaries were now essentially non-existent. She had me laughing when she ended up shoulder-to-shoulder with me, both of us on our backs. When I was barely ready to sleep, I found she had repositioned herself so she could rest her head on my neck from behind me. I didn’t want to disturb her, but her hair was so ticklish!

I already love her so much and was devastated to need to leave her so quickly, especially since she is sick. She is already exhibiting a few of the symptoms of heartworms, including lethargy and significant weight loss. She has trouble going up the stairs and definitely seems lethargic beneath her excitement to be in a proper home. When she’s napping, she breathes pretty heavily and sometimes needs to sit up to cough. It’s like there’s something in her throat, but nothing ever comes up.

I really hope that the heartworm foundation will get back to me by the end of the week. I would like to start her treatment as soon as possible. I’ll have my apartment at the end of the week and would like to bring her back with me, but I need to know how much her treatment will cost. If it will be cheaper, I would prefer to get her treated over there.

But then there’s also the concern about travel. I don’t think she likes the car too much right now and I don’t have a crate for her yet. She’s a little big, so I am hesitant to buy one. My car is not very bit anyway, so it probably wouldn’t fit. Never mind all the stuff I need to cram into it!

I plan to make at least two extra pit stops for her, just to make sure she knows she does not need to relieve herself in the car. She threw up in my car Monday morning right as we were leaving to drop her off at my cousin’s. I felt so bad. For one, I was leaving her. But I also felt because it was definitely my fault; I fed her right before we left, not thinking about how nervous she was to see me pack up.

Her Name

For those curious about her name, I changed it. She did not respond to her kennel name, so I had complete freedom to rename her myself. I had more boy names than girl names in mind ahead of time, because I grew up with male dogs! But I didn’t go into Clear the Shelters 2019 with any specific name I wanted to use. I believe in getting to know the dog before picking a name if you have the luxury of the option.

Opal’s name was inspired by the little girl in from Because of Winn-Dixie. I’ve always loved the name Winnie, but I didn’t think it didn’t suited Opal. When my mind fixated on Opal in the car on the drive home, I felt it suited her. She’s a beautiful dog, but I didn’t feel like giving her a super cutesy name. Also there are not a lot of human female names I would like to give a dog for some reason. Neither could I think of any character names I would have liked to give her. With more time I might have, but a name was not high on my list of priorities!

Her name is that there are so many nickname possibilities, which was a decision-making factor in picking a name! I had a lot of fun calling Apollo, even Ty, by several different names other than his own. Many of Apollo’s nicknames would also work for Opal (e.g. Polly, Pollywally, Opie, Opalrooney)! I mean, her name is a kind of anagram of his, which I’m just now properly realizing! So I got to honor that big doofus with her name in a way.

End Note

I am so excited for this weekend. I’m bringing Opal to the vet on Saturday, so I’ll be making the trip back Friday evening. I had my doubts about bringing her back to Austin this week, but it seems necessary now because I do not want to continue to impose on my cousins. I’m lucky they offered to watch her for me this weekend, because I would not have asked! Regardless of cost, I will be paying for her heartworm treatment. I am so scared of losing her. I’ve quickly given her my heart and cannot imagine to prospect of replacing her. It would be hard.

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Well That Escalated Quickly

As you may recall, I had to move out of my parents’ house last week. Thankfully I had requested the week off of my part-time elections job, because last week was bonkers. Before I start explaining why, it might be important to note that the Saturday before I had spent the whole day applying for UT Austin jobs. It took me all day because I was tailoring all my cover letters to each specific job based on the information I was provided about the job listings. You know, as is typically recommended.

As silly as I know it sounds, I have tried to avoid applying for jobs that require a cover letter in the past. It always seemed like a lot of work to me when I have hoped my resume might speak for itself. Honestly, I could kick myself for being so clueless. In total I have already received three interview requests thus far from just the ten applications I completed last weekend.

I had the first two this week, one on Thursday and one on Friday. Thankfully they were both offered virtually! I was able to complete them in between work (at my tutoring gig), packing and moving boxes, and cleaning out my parents’ house. I only got good vibes from the first one, but I know from experience that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The third interview I have is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14th.

However, I also received word on Thursday morning that I have finally been offered the temporary part-time Office Assistant position which I applied for in April. It’s not official yet; they still for need me to take a drug test (which I have nothing to worry about, for the record). But I had already been debating whether I would take this position or not after learning in June that I would only be allowed to work about 25 hours a week.

Yes, there is a possibility it could become a full-time position after six months, but how can I know if I would really be happy there long-term? It’s in a criminal justice-type department, so they’re likely to be really serious and strict in the way I’ve not enjoyed at the elections office. They’ve not told me exactly what I’d be doing since I had the interview, if they did at all. I cannot remember much of the interview since I wasn’t too optimistic about my odds and did not think about it much afterward.

Now here’s where things start to get complicated. As the Fall 2019 semester is about to start, there are not many good options for apartments in Austin available anymore. I feel like the options are only going to continue to get worse, so I have been considering accepting the part-time job and keeping my fingers crossed that a full-time one will come through in the next couple of weeks. But if one doesn’t, I’ll need another part-time job to supplement my income if I am going to uproot myself from the two part-time jobs I still currently hold.

With that in mind, I applied to a writing tutor position at a community college nearby yesterday. It did not require a cover letter, but since I have gotten the hang of writing them I wrote something and I got a call a couple hours later! I now have an interview lined up for Wednesday, assuming that I am able to find out if the hours as an Office Assistant would be flexible enough to allow me to also work about 15–19 hours somewhere else.

I also realized as a consequence of needing to go to Austin so quickly, I would not have much time to do a proper final two weeks at either job. Thankfully, my presence at these two places is not absolutely essential. There is still enough time to find a replacement before things start to get busy this fall. But if I am going to need my supervisors’ references, I might run into a little bit of trouble. I have a feeling both will be understanding based on how well I’ve gotten to know them. I hate that I’m leaving them both so soon, but I need a full-time job and even if one is not immediately on the horizon just yet I will now be living where I want to finally start my life.

I know that I am moving to Austin this month no matter what, but it’s hard to look for apartments when you’re three hours away and do not know how much income you will have for living expenses. The common sense thing is to rent somewhere cheap, but most leases want you to commit for close to a year and I would rather move into a place that I know I would be happy living for at least a couple of years. I am ready to start making a place a home of my own.

So here are a few things that will be happening over the next week as I prepare to start a new job in Austin at the earliest around August 15th.

  1. Turn in resignation letters to both of my job and complete some courtesy hours. I already submitted my resignation to the elections job, which is a job I hope I don’t need to keep working past this week since it’s now so far away and pays so little. At the writing tutor gig my supervisor is on vacation, so I hope he is able to check his email. Ideally I would like to work as much as possible this week at this job so I have one more really good paycheck to help me with my first month’s rent.
  2. Finish fixing my car. I had to have my brakes fixed this weekend, because they were in really bad shape. I was also told I’d need to have four-wheel alignment and a CV axel (?) either fixed or replaced really soon or my tires might be in trouble…? The service repairman explained it all, but I am not good with cars so the technical talk went a little over my head! But I have worried about my car giving out on me, so I’ll pay for these things for the peace of mind.
  3. Ask about hours at Office Assistant job on Monday. The person I am potentially interviewing with Wednesday has requested I find out what kind of hours I would be available to tutor.
  4. Complete drug testing. That shouldn’t take long, but it needs to be done Monday as well so the processing is completed quickly and I am able to start that part-time job August 15th.
  5. Look for an apartment! Once again, I am not sure what my budget could allow, but I do feel I find something right now so that I am not in a bind mid-August and worrying about a place to live on top of starting a new job.
  6. Apply for more full-time jobs. There have been a few more listings pop up on the UT Austin job board and it might be a good idea to apply to a few more in case nothing I’ve already interviewed for comes through. I can also start to look for specific companies based in Austin that might have full-time openings right now as well.

My mind is still blown by all these developments this week. If I hadn’t been forced to move out of my parents house this week, I may not have considered gambling with my current job situation and used the time I can live with my aunt and uncle to save. But I can’t help but feel this is the right move. I am so ready to live on my own and officially start my professional life. Moving is not fun, so I feel like if I can avoid unpacking right now just to pack up again in a month or two it will be worth it.

End Note

I will continue to work the blog this month whenever I can! I’ve been doing some blog maintenance while I think about what I want to produce. I hope I’ll be able to breathe new life into this blog this month. If you poke around, you may discover a few changes I’ve already made and make guesses as to where my blog focus will be once I am able to properly jump back into it next month if not sooner.

Thank you for reading!
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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!

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Juggling Two Jobs + Austin Dreams | The Job Search

I decided on Tuesday that it was time to work out my summer plans. I don’t what you may have gathered about me if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, but I like to make plans. I like knowing what to expect and what I should prioritize with my free time. This year has been trying, because I have felt like I’m driving slowly down an isolated forest road with a light fog. I haven’t had a clear idea of what summer would be like after working the 2018-2019 school year.

Thankfully the seeds I’ve been planting over winter and spring have finally begun to sprout in the form of job opportunities and work experience! Just last week I was contacted about an interview I had thought at the time would lead to nothing and a job I had forgotten was even a possibility. It’s so frustrating that it takes so long for good jobs to become available!

Before I talk creative plans on the blog, I felt like I needed to provide this insight into my life.

Last Week

A lot of this post was written in a blog post tentatively titled My Summer Goals. I realized that I had a lengthy update and it might be better to break it up into two posts, starting with an update on my job situation at the moment. I mentioned last month that I had just started an office job at our county elections office, but there have been recent developments of note that I wanted to share while they’re still fresh!

Last week two things happened. First, I received an email from an office specialist at a place where I interviewed via Skype in May. It was for an office assistant position in Austin. I hadn’t been confident the interview went well as it was really formal with no extra chit chat. Anyway this woman emailed me inquiring if I was still interested in that position. I said “Yes!” thinking it meant I had the job. No, not quite yet. I was just being informed that my application would be moved to the next stage of the process if I consented to a background check, reference contacting, fingerprinting, etc. So that all happened over the last few days.

On Monday I visited Austin, which is about two-and-a-half hours away, for a day trip with my parents to fill out some paperwork in the office. It was a really pleasant drive and a nice day overall, even though it rained. I filled out some paperwork for an impending background check and signed some legal forms making sure I was aware the position was dependent on a grant and would be temporary (six months) and I’d work less than 29 hours per week. Yes, that was all clear. I was out in about 45 minutes and won’t know if I got it until August (really).

I have no idea if I would actually be happy at that job, but I do now know I would love to live in Austin! I’m going to start applying exclusively in Austin, unless I stumble upon something really that sounds really magical nearby. I’m not a fan of the climate in Houston, so I’m not eager to find any more reasons to stay. However, I do know now that it would be possible for me to stay on my own in Houston once my parents leave.

The second thing that happened last week is I was finally called by our local community college about a writing tutor position I had applied for back in January! My interview was Tuesday morning, and after a really casual chat with just a few questions about my resume, I was hired on the spot. I need to talk to one more person, but it sounds like it’s in the bag! The pay is really good because I have a Master’s degree! I’ll be making about as much money there with reduced hours (less than 20) than I would at the elections office (currently 24 hours). Plus it will look great for future writing/academia jobs!

My mom thinks I should stay here for a year because it’s cheap and would be good experience, but I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if I get the Austin job. I think I would be able to find another job in the city, maybe even a full-time one.

The Current Plan

Juggle my two Houston-area jobs for the summer and save up. I recently changed my student loan to income-based repayment plan so my new monthly payment is like nothing, but I do want to continue making regular payments while I can so that the interest doesn’t keep compounding.

I also want to be able to save money for future living expenses. Some apartments I’ve looked at require a monthly salary of three times the rent, which would be impossible for me until I’m a full-time employee most likely. All I can really do right now is save so that I have a few months rent set aside in case I am ever stuck in a lease without a job.

I’ve not had a lot of money in my accounts since February, so I’m hoping that if I do stay in this area for my two new jobs that I will not need to spend too much on living expenses. I’m very fortunate that I have my aunt somewhat close by who I could probably rely upon while I build up a nest egg.

Look for college/writing jobs in Austin. I have a lot more confidence that I may be able to find a job in writing after being a college writing tutor, so I want to really find out what is possible and honing my skills toward my interests. I feel like I’ve been so open anything that I’ve been too passive in waiting for the right things to come my way. Now I feel like I’ve gotten the kick I needed to take the idea of a career in writing more seriously.

I also want to start exclusively applying for jobs in Austin because I love the area and know that there would be a lot more for me to experience with less travel or personal effort required to partake. At heart I’m a lazy person, and I know that putting myself where things are happening is the best chance I have to live life to its fullest.

Because of my new job, I may be able to squeeze out more writing-related content like I originally anticipated when I started my blog while still in college. I always wanted to give research project tips and paper writing advice, but once I was out of school it felt too late. Maybe I’ll have study tips that intersect with my bujo content. I also want to continue to write about my job search journey, which will hopefully be helpful to any other English majors out there so they don’t have all the problems I’ve had post-grad.

Now I feel like I’m ready to talk definitively about my plans for the summer. I am determined to make the most of this time in my life.

Thank you for reading!
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What I Read This Spring

Today is the first official day of summer! While it may feel like it’s been summer for a month already, I know it is likely to get a lot hotter where I currently live. Last year when I was just getting back into blogging, I wrote a few summary posts of all the books I read during the span of each season. Since I haven’t been writing monthly wrap ups lately, I decided to revisit that old format this year. While my life has been all over the place, my reading has been fun and I want to write down all my thoughts while they’re still fresh.

From March 20, 2019, to June 20, 2019, I read a grand total of seven books. That’s a whole lot more than I would’ve guessed considering how ambivalent I’ve been about being a book blogger. I did manage to stick to my spring TBR for the most part, and I’m really surprised at myself!

Long post made short, here’s the list of the books I read with my star ratings.

  1. Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor(★★★)
  2. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff(★★★)
  3. Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff(★★★★★)
  4. Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (★★★)
  5. The Promise by Chaim Potok(★★★)
  6. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo(★★★★★)
  7. Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (★★★)

I won’t go into detail of why I rated each book the way I did but instead contextualize my reading and give some talking points. Hopefully that will give you an idea of these books if you aren’t familiar with them already and whether you’d like to investigate them some more. I’ve included links to them on Goodreads and Amazon*.

*If you purchase any of the books I talk about in this post after following one of my affiliate links, I may receive a small commission at no extra expense to you.

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Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★

It is a general rule of mine not to buy new books if I don’t intend to read them immediately, and Akata Warrior has been one of those books that is a reminder that I had not been abiding by this rule!

Akata Warrior continues the story of Sunny Nwazue, which started in Akata Witch. After defeating the villain of the first book, Sunny’s destiny is not yet complete as she continues to learn about her magical heritage and how to master her unique gifts.

I talk about this book a bit more in-depth in my full-length review, but I will say that I really love the world and magic system that Okorafor has created. I’ll happily read more by this author, but I think I am done buying these books, at least until I have more disposable income. I think these books are really great and important entries to the young adult fantasy genre.

What these books have taught me as a writer is that books as rich and imaginatively exciting and evocative as Harry Potter are not exclusive to any one culture. You might think that this is a no-brainer, but this book has definitely gotten me thinking more deeply about how culture influences the magic systems devised by authors and what it can mean to people of color moving forward.

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★

I’ve read Illuminae about three times now and I love it every time. I love Kady and Ezra and how the science fiction is so compelling and accessible to young adult audiences (myself included) who are not scientifically inclined. I like to think about all the young girls who may read these books and be inspired to go into STEM fields and kick butt.

I also love that these books deal with the ethical side of the equation. A lot of times in action-filled YA, death counts can be high and violence heavy. I like that the human cost of survival in these space expeditions and battles are highlighted and on the forefront of the characters’ minds, and not in an obnoxious or superficial way.

I would argue that is just about anything you could want in this series (i.e. action, romance, mystery, horror, etc.), so these books are endless fun. After you get into the rhythm of the storytelling (i.e. reading the files), these books are extremely immersive.

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Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★★ 

This book was another reread on my journey to reach Obsidio. It was as enjoyable as the first time around. I don’t really know where to start with this book. I love it so much. If you hate series that introduce a completely new cast in each book, you don’t need to worry about that with this book.

For one, the protagonists Hanna and Nik just as terrific as Kady and Ezra, maybe even more so. It’s like the authors mastered the romantic formula of the first book and utilized it to perfection in the second book’s lead characters. Hanna is not your stereotypical spoiled princess and Nik is not your stereotypical drug dealer. This book may be more hilarious than the first and more of an emotional rollercoaster.

The other reason you don’t need to worry is we see Kady and Ezra in this book! They’ve not become completely irrelevant to the story. They enter Gemina right when Hanna and Nik need them.

Gemina is definitely my favorite book in the series, which may or may not be remarkable. I know that most bridge books in a trilogy are just that, a bridge that doesn’t really stand well on its own or it’s a clone of the first book. In my opinion, Gemina can’t really be reduced to either.

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Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★

After a short reading break, I finally picked up Obsidio. Unlike Illuminae and Gemina, I have only read this book once, and I’m already a little foggy on the exact plot of this book. Going into this book, I had fairly low expectations despite the fun of the first two because of how big a let down the final book of the Starbound trilogy was for me.

I will say that I did not care for Asha or Rhys very much. I feel like their backstory was a little unbelievable, and I wasn’t satisfied with how it was revealed. I also don’t like the dynamic between oppressed and unwitting oppressor. I would have maybe liked it if Rhys was more ruthless and he underwent more significant character development, but he was kind of pathetic but also brilliant liar somehow. What.

I think the problem is that the authors didn’t have a whole book to focus on them; they had to share page-time with Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik. By the way, I’m not complaining! I’m glad that we got to see how they dealt with the aftermath of the previous books and prepared for the return to Kerenza. I’m just saying Asha and Rhys’s romance was a probably a little lackluster as result.

I was able to enjoy Obsidio. Yes, I thought a few things happened that were a little too convenient and disneyfied to wrap the story up with a pretty bow, but I am aware of how challenging it might have been to conclude this series in just one book. I just wish that the villains of BeiTech, specifically Frobisher, could have been a bigger part of the climactic action.

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The Promise by Chaim Potok
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★

Last year in a similar post describing What I Read (That) Winter, I talked about The Chosen by Chaim Potok. It was a book I enjoyed passionately. I felt similarly passionate reading this book, but for very different reasons.

The Promise catches with Reuven as he is studying to become a rabbi. He still lives with his father who has been working on this controversial book, which is radical to conservative Jews because of how it analyzes Jewish texts. While The Chosen follows Reuven and his unlikely friendship with Danny in the years leading up to the formation of Israel, which was a hot button issue amongst Jewish sects in the 1930s, The Promise is set in a New York into which the Jews who survived the holocaust have immigrated. So there’s a lot of, not just, culture clash but also clash of fundamental ideologies that The Chosen merely introduces.

I feel really hesitant talking in depth about these two books, given that everything I know about Jewish theology and scholarship has come from these books. I am not Jewish, nor have I ever really even casually met practicing Jews. Even using the word conservative to describe the opposing viewpoint to Reuven’s feels like it may be inaccurate considering Reuven himself would probably be considered conservative in his own right.

The summary of the book would have you believe that it is about Reuven, Danny, and this boy Michael, but that storyline is more of a marginal thread that ties the book together. What I found most compelling about this book was Reuven’s struggle against his rabbinical professor Rav Kalman, a world-famous rabbi who survived the holocaust and is steadfast in his mission to smear the name and work of Reuven’s father.

I appreciate The Promise coming into my life at this time, because I feel like not enough people are talking about how we should talk to people we don’t agree with. I agonized with Reuven over his frustration with his professor. I was also inspired to see how he persevered. Truthfully, I would have been likely to give up in his position and make my own way. I think there is something to say about seeing things through. (If this is vague, I’m sorry! I just can’t go into more detail in this space!)

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★

Similar to Akata Warrior and Obsidio, King of Scars was beginning to cause me a little bit of book buying guilt. It’s a book I had pre-ordered as soon as I learned about it and then when it came…nothing. I didn’t feel like reading it. Truthfully, I’ve not really been in the mood for fantasy these days. I’m not sure why.

As I had begun to hear hints of conflicting opinions about King of Scars, I was really nervous when I finally picked it up. It didn’t help that the first 80 or so pages were really discouraging. I could tell that Nina and Zoya were going to be central characters in this book, and they were never favorites of mine. Also, I was getting hints about a potential romance between Zoya and Nikolai, and I wasn’t sure I liked that development. Without spoiling anything, I will say that I was able to trust and respect Bardugo’s character choices in the end!

I don’t want to get into spoilers since this book once came out in January and there may be others out there, like I was, who are still waiting to pick up this book. I will just say that the book does end up becoming really exciting and satisfying after about 100 pages. I loved Nina’s storyline and can’t wait to see what she does next. I’m also still in shock-awe about what is revealed at the end! Wow!

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Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
⟡ Find on Goodreads | Amazon
⟡ My rating: ★★★★

Again, but Better ended up being one of my most anticipated reads of this year, because it has honestly been on my radar since Christine started writing it. I had begun to follow her YouTube channel PolandbananasBOOKS somewhere between 2014 and 2015, discovering her from her collaborations with Katytastic. She started writing this book in January 2016 and made periodic writing update videos about her progress.

It was so inspiring to watch her talk about writing it, and I’ve recently gone back to rewatch the first ten or so videos where she talks about writing the first draft specifically. It is such a cool experience now having read the book to know a lot of what she is talking about plot-wise!

As for the book itself, it kind of blew me away. I wasn’t expecting much, especially after the first few chapters or so. I started it feeling like it was a fan-fiction of someone’s idea of college and college romance. But as I got deeper into the story, it began to feel so real and authentic. I could really relate to Shane and her awkward struggles, and even as a proper adult now feel like I’ve learned from her mistakes alongside her.

I do wish this is a book I had when I was still in high school, so I adore Christine for writing this book! I did not have the highest expectations for this book, but it is so much fun but also so relevant, which I think is necessary for contemporary novels these days. I may end up doing a full-length review later on…

End Note

Next Tuesday (6/25) I’ll be sharing the books on my summer TBR for Top Ten Tuesday, which is why I wanted to get this post written and published ahead of it! It’ll a look a little different from past TBRs, because it will feature a lot of books I don’t already own. Before that I’m hoping to share something else this weekend, but I’m not sure what yet! There have been some exciting job hunt developments that I’m hoping I will be able to share next week!

What did you read this spring?

Thank you for reading!
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Notes on the Last Few Weeks

Hello, again! Welcome back to The Inky Saga. I’ve started this blog post without much of a plan but a desire to share how my life has been going. I have wanted to talk in-depth about what’s going behind the scenes since the mid-April, but it was hard to talk about anything when everything was still up in the air. I prefer not to speculate too much on this blog; it’s often painful to look back on.

I had thought I might layout my summer plans and priorities for the blog in this blog post, tentatively titled “Summer Plans,” but I realized in hindsight, that I couldn’t just  move forward on this blog without first explaining how I got to my current mental state. If you aren’t particularly interested in following my life journey, then here’s the TL;DR version: my dad was sick, I had a bunch of job interviews, and I’m all about that bullet journaling life now. Come back later this week for my summer plans!

For those of you still that are still here, curl up and get comfortable. I hope you enjoy this little slice-of-life blog post that covers life since about April 14 to the present that I’ve written and polished for your reading pleasure.

I Have Been Reading…

Reading was a constant and comfort during the chaos that was April. While I’m still not using Goodreads much, I do tweet when I start a new book. That’s how I know I started reading The Illuminae Files on April 14, 2019.

After I finished Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (see my review), I had a sudden urge to start reading again. I had yet to read the final installment Obsidio, another book I had listed on my spring TBR, and always knew I would want to reread Illuminae and Gemina again before I jumped into the final book. It was the perfect time for escapist reading. These books are massive, but oh so much fun. I reached for them mainly over the weekend and on nights where I didn’t have much else distracting me. I was able to read a lot over Easter weekend, especially after my dad got sick and needed to go to the hospital.

He had a colonoscopy the Wednesday before Easter, which went fine, but he had been having stomach trouble before then. By Saturday we knew he had not been digesting anything he eaten since the operation and could no longer keep his food down. He was at the hospital for about four nights, because he needed an IV for hydration and nutrition. After some time on a liquid, then a soft food, diet, he was back to normal. But he did get pink eye quickly soon after returning to work followed by a sinus infection. Yes, he was a mess last month!

Around this time, I had also started going on a bunch of job interviews. After months of applications, it was such a long-time coming! I could not believe how quickly I accumulated interviews, all within such a narrow time frame. It was about one every day for about eight days. I attribute it to the time of year and also my newly acquired Red Cross experience.

Before I jump into my interview experience, I will say that I’ve also finally read The Promise by Chaim Potok, another book that was on my spring TBR. It was amazing, although I do have some criticisms and a lot of questions actually. I’m not sure if I’m confident enough to dedicate an entire blog post to the book, as I’m sure a lot went over my head.

I Started a New Job…

Out of all the interviews I did, I only received one job offer and it was for the first interview(s) I did funnily enough. I had gone in for an interview for a voter registration clerk position, which was really just a seasonal position for which I would be put on a list and get called about my availability during election season. Fortuitously, the elections office had an opening in their department and the woman who interviewed me reached out to the department head across the hall while I filled out paperwork about interviewing me on the spot.

That second interview went really well and I was essentially offered that position as well, but I did let her know that I still had a few interviews lined up in the immediate future. She was extraordinarily accommodating, probably because there was no immediate urgency in filling that recent job opening. She just asked me to keep her updated.

None of my other interviews resulted in job offerings, which I admit was kind of surprising and disappointing. I put in my two weeks notice at my recreation job, because I had really hoped I might have gotten at least one other position to serve as my new main job, as I figured I’d still be able to work voter registration on the side. In the end, I have had to chalk it up to lack of office experience and just the sheer amount of competition in this area for city/county jobs.

Anyway last week after a family trip to where my parents are moving, I decided to call back the elections department head who interviewed me that first day and she was still interested in hiring me, so we arranged to have me start this week! I went in on Monday and got the lay of the land. I think working here will be a really good experience. I’ll have my own desk and just one office mate, there’s a really nice break room, and the job duties sound right up my alley. It sounds like I’ll just be updating polling station records, checking up on judges and workers leading up to elections via phone, and helping out in the warehouse with polling equipment and with training sessions.

Right now I will only be working about three days a week, so I’ll have five-day weekends! It also sounds really flexible right now, given that the next election isn’t until November, but there should be a lot of opportunities to work over-time. Cumulatively over the year, I will be working about 29 hours/week, which is the limit because they don’t want to have to provide me with full-time benefits (i.e. healthcare). It’s frustrating, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

I think I will request my work days be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for the time being, just so I can have long weekends during which I can visit my parents when they eventually move or go out of town just in general as I do want to travel more this year. It’ll also allow me to continue to work stretches of uninterrupted time with the Red Cross.

I do hope to dedicate a specific blog post to my work with the Red Cross, but I’m a little iffy on it, just because of proprietary regulations over ownership of words/works I create about or during my volunteer experience. I might need to ask my supervisor. I feel like she wouldn’t mind and would like me to do it for our region’s blog, which I wouldn’t mind doing, but it wouldn’t be the same as something I would write for The Inky Saga.

In summary, I have a new part-time job and will still volunteer my social media / communication skills to the Red Cross. I’ll also continue to apply to job openings that open up locally. I desperately need a full-time position but figure if I can juggle two part-time positions that pay relatively well, I may be able to survive comfortably for the time being while I accumulate work experience that could ultimately result in the dream job, or something close to it.

I Am Still Bullet Journaling…

It will come as no surprise that I am still bullet journaling, given that most of my most recent blog content has concerned this hobby. I still love it. I get such satisfaction from designing and executing my spreads. It reminds me of how excited I was when I first started blogging, so many moons ago. I still enjoy blogging and have a desire to create long-form blog content, but I’m also enjoying being more active with the international bullet journal community on Instagram.

Most of my productive free-time hours (especially around the end of each month) are spent browsing for new ideas on Instagram, planning my upcoming spreads, and finally bringing them to life in my dotted journal.

I like how this hobby is not just about the journal for its own sake, but also a means for executing other goals. It inspires me to meet my daily goals of eating right or job hunting and also pursue my other passions, of reading, writing, etc. And it’s as private or public as I decide to make it.

All that being said, bullet journaling is a priority at the moment, coming before the blog in many ways. I think that it is a good thing. I used to blog at the expense of the other areas of my life, thinking it would somehow result in the kind of life I want to have. Now I see the blog as a supplement to my bullet journal, a place to elaborate on the significant and best parts of my life and experiences but not the main project of my existence.

endnote

As I wrote at the beginning of this blog post, I’m itching to share my summer plans! Less is up in the air now that I’ve committed to my new job. I have made decisions that will impact how I spend my time off-line and on, and I think it is only right I lay it all out for you soon. Truthfully, writing these blog update posts are as much for me as they are for people who follow my blog! I always write the posts I would want to read, as I am the type of person who enjoys looking back at my past blog posts and remembering where I was at those points in time.

If you’ve read this blog post through in its entirety, know that I appreciate you and your interest in my current life as a paper bag / drifting through the wind / wanting to start again.

Thank you for reading!
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March Notes

I don’t know if I’m alone, but I felt like March was such a long and busy month. The blog kept me extremely busy. Even with spring break, I felt like there was not a lot of time for a breather. If I wasn’t working on blog posts, I was working on my bullet journal, doing Red Cross training, applying for jobs, or cleaning house if I wasn’t at my part-time job.

I like having a lot to do, but I do think I need to start making more time for myself so that I don’t feel so drained by time the weekend rolls around. I think April will be a lot less stressful, even if it’s not less busy. I have all my bullet journal’s weekly spreads set up for the month and I know what I’ll need to do for Red Cross work.

I feel like I was doing a lot of soul-searching in January and February, trying to figure out what I wanted out life and this blog. Now I feel like I know what I want to work towards. I feel less frantic and more focused.

Bookish

Bullet Journaling

Blog Tags / Awards

Blogging / Life

  • Disrupt You! by Jay Samit | I read the bulk of this book on the road during spring break. I’m really shocked I was able to read it, because I’ve not been able to read in a moving car without getting a headache since I was a child. Anyway, this book was all over the place. The author jumps back and forth with examples from his life and other famous entrepreneurs to exemplify how different parts of value chains (e.g. production, distribution, etc.) were disrupted to the profit of the disruptor. I did not feel like I got what I was hoping out of this book (i.e. specific self-help advice), but it was a fascinating read at times.
  • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor | After completing my Spring TBR, I decided my next read would be Akata Warrior. I haven’t finished the book, but I am enjoying it thus far. It had a really useful recap of the past book, so I was able to jump right back into the story without missing a beat.

Last month I shared my blog stats for the month of February. I wasn’t sure if I would continue to do so in this specific format, but I decided it was a still a good fit. It makes sense right now while my stats are still not that impressive or complex. If I ever have a remarkable month, I will dedicate an entire post to blog stats.

March was a record-breaking month for The Inky Saga. The blog grew from 288 to 363 blog followers, a net gain of 75 followers. And for the first time since last September, my blog reached 1,000 blog views! There were also 604 visitors, 383 likes, and 130 comments. I think it was the first time I reached 100 blog views in just one day. For posting just fourteen blog posts, I don’t think that’s too shabby!

September 2018 was my last really good blog month, but I did not keep up with blogging after that. I’m really optimistic that the blog could see significant growth over the rest of the year if I keep blogging, blog hopping, and promoting my blog via Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. It’ll be really excited to see if my efforts pay off over time.

My two most popular blog posts this month were How to Avoid Blogger Burnout + New Blog Schedule (45 Likes) and The Wanderlust Tag | Blog Tag (38 Likes). They are also two of my most recent posts, but the next most successful posts are other tags/community memes. My personal favorite was probably my Leslie Knope TBR.

Moving into April, my blog strategy will be to publish least one evergreen post (e.g. how-to or advice) and one community post each week and then something extra, like a book review, job search update, or a compilation post. I will also try to stay on my schedule and get a lot done well in advance. I also want to start up my YouTube account for content I don’t want to write and post regularly on Instagram.

Sunday morning I sat down with my April bujo planner and started jotting down blog post ideas. I looked at the Top Ten Tuesday and Top 5 Tuesday prompts and picked out a few I was interested in, thought about the books I would like to read and review, and re-listed some of the blog posts ideas I’ve had in mind for a while. I’m actually thinking I may pick a few days I can spare this week and front load a lot of the work for the more time-demanding blog posts.

I’m not exactly sure yet what will be up on the blog this week. I know what I’d like to post, but realize I may not have time to finish anything I don’t manage to start this weekend. I don’t want to have anymore publishing mishaps in April, so I’m not scheduling anything that’s not complete!

How was your March?

What was your favorite blog post this month (mine or yours)? ^_^

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.