Personal Update: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

So the radio silence since August 29 was not planned, but a lot has happened!

I’ve completed my Fall semester at last. If you haven’t read back, I took Literary Theory and African-American Literature. Both of my professors were great, and I’m glad I enrolled in those courses. I’ve gotten grades back, and I got another 4.0 this term!!!! I’m so stoked. I really was aiming to get a 4.0 for the whole program, but my complete inability to read my Film professor really boned me on that goal. Oh well. Next semester begins on January 18, when I’ll be taking American Literature in Perspective and Theories of Teaching Writing. I’m not as excited about that semester as I was about this one, but I’ve had one of the professors before and got on really well with him, so that’s a plus. And I’ve already had a breakthrough in my plans for my thesis, so I’m really excited about that. (I’m also pretty thrilled about the month-long break from classes; let’s be honest.)

In other very happy news, my husband and I found out that I’m finally pregnant!! We’re expecting our first child in July of 2018, which is actually really great timing. I’ll be out of class for summer and have about a month before Fall 2018 classes begin, which will (hopefully) be my final term. I’ll be down to one course and my thesis, provided I can take both of those simultaneously (I’m not sure yet about my uni’s restrictions on that).

I also started seeing a new therapist, who has recommended me to remain cautiously optimistic about school post-baby. I’m worried it’ll be too much, but she agrees with my husband that it may actually be easier to finish on schedule, while the baby is small and mostly stationary, ha. We have a huge amount of family locally, and they’re over the moon, so thankfully we’re in a really good place with regards to childcare. I’m not going to become a mommy blogger or devote my IG account to the little bun, though; I know too well the distinct pain of infertility, and while I will certainly be posting about our addition and possibly sharing photos, I’m committing myself to not overdoing it because I remember how hard that was. I remember having to unfollow/hide people on Insta or Facebook, not because I wasn’t happy for them, but because I couldn’t stomach the depression, the jealousy, and the anger. Why her? Why not me? And I’m not going to do that to others who feel that pain and suffer alone. On that note, if you want to speak with me privately about this issue, feel free to comment and we can exchange info.

Moving along … I have not been doing much reading on my break. The holidays are always pretty hectic for me and mine, and this year is the first year that my husband and I will be hosting his family’s Christmas dinner. I’m excited about it, but it means we’re doing a lot of cleaning and recipe trial runs and getting packages wrapped earlier than usual which … still isn’t all that early, to be honest. I did start reading The Clockwork Dynasty thanks to some excellent reviews, and I’m already in love with it. Reviews posts might start back up again, but with all the changes in store for 2018, I’m not sure yet what the regularity will be. Just bear with me, please! I’d love for you all to stick around through the new year and navigate new frontiers with me.

What have you all been up to? Read any good books lately? Drop ’em in the comments!

Advertisements

Friday Reads: The End is Nigh

This week, I still have three books on my Currently Reading list, and you may notice some familiar titles. Two, in fact. I finished McCahan’s The Lake Effect already and I’m working on the review post for that, though the way the scheduling falls, it’ll actually be September before that review post goes up!

I haven’t made much of a dent in my Currently Reading list, mainly because my summer is drawing quickly to a close; my graduate classes start back up on the 14th, so my reading-for-pleasure time will be cut down drastically. My video gaming time, however, will be basically eliminated, and apparently my brain realized that for the first time on Monday, and so I’ve spent every free moment I have frantically playing No Man’s Sky. (I love that game, don’t @ me)

Continue reading

Aside

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I really would like to get into a more permanent rhythm, and posting reviews every week just ends up getting out of hand, especially once I start classes back in the fall. (Just a few weeks to go now; yikes!!)

In that spirit, Tuesday Reviews Day will be every other week, while I try that on for size and see how it works. There won’t be a review post tomorrow, but I already have one scheduled for next Tuesday, and I think y’all are going to love it.

Also next Tuesday is my first-ever surgery; it’s minor and none of the doctors seem worried, but I’m a professional worrywart and I am doing my thing! So if you can spare a few kind thoughts or prayers or whatever you’re into, please send some my way next Tuesday; I could really use ’em! Love y’all.

Finding my way back … to myself

People always talk about finding themselves and to be honest, it was something I thought I’d never experience. But you know how a few months ago, I just disappeared, and I told you I’d explain it later? Well, here we are.

I have never really been someone who stood out. I’ve just been myself, mostly quiet when surrounded by strangers yet annoyingly extroverted and shameless when I’m with friends. In high school I had my punk rock phase, my goth phase, my preppy phase, and then my “who really gives a crap about any of this” phase. (I fluctuated between all of these, but the last one was basically my default setting. It was always running in the background.) My best friends were mostly older than me, I hated everything (now I guess you’d have called my high school self a hipster), and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I still don’t.

And the honest reason for that is I just generally do what people expect me to. I made good grades because my teachers expected me to based on (most of) my older siblings. I went to a local university because I thought I was supposed to. (I do freaking love my alma mater though. I am super proud of that school.) I took all the classes I was told to take, pursued a degree everyone told me I’d like (I did enjoy it, and in some alternate reality I probably did stick with that path). I look back sometimes and wonder what I’d have done differently if I had done all the things I’d really wanted to do. Some of those things were incredibly stupid ideas, and sometimes I think I’m glad I didn’t do them. But what if I had? What stories would I be able to tell my eventual kids?

Did I ever tell you about that time in high school, when I …

Did I ever tell you about when I was in college …

But I don’t have any crazy stories to tell my kids. I never really did anything bad or unexpected or scary. That’s not an exaggeration, not me pretending to be the perfect kid. I wasn’t. But probably the worst things I ever did were miss curfew by an hour or slam my door during a one-sided screaming match with my grandparents. Nothing extraordinary. Nothing awe-inspiring.

And now I realize I’ve carried that into adulthood, and it’s sadder now even than it was then. I don’t take risks, I don’t really do anything that scares me or excites me or inspires someone. I think too much about: well, what will people think? What will people say about me? What if they think I’m a failure or a fraud or just stupid?

So in January I decided that this year, as my New Year’s Resolution, I was going to do something a little different. Instead of resolving to lose weight, hit the gym more often, cut back on sweets and soda, I was going to start living for myself. (And Kris of course. We’re a team, obviously.) I was going to stop bending to what I thought everyone wanted and expected for me, living the life and being the person that I perceived I should be. Because the reality is, no one was putting these weird pressures on me but myself. My family wouldn’t love me less and my friends might give me side-eye but they’d support me no matter what, and anyone who wouldn’t doesn’t deserve front-row seats to my life, anyway.

It was a good goal, I thought. One that would require real changes and serious effort on my part. Step 1: Do something scary that I’ve always wanted to do.

Ink by Matt Skin

Ink by Matt Skin

So I got a tattoo. I love tattoos. I only had one, and it’s relatively small and no one really notices it, even though it’s not hidden at all. But I’d wanted this design for a long time, I knew I would be happy with it, but I kept getting held back. It’s too big. I’ll get bored with it. Everyone will hate it. What if I don’t find the right artist, and it turns out poorly? I ran through every excuse in the book, even while I researched local artists and shops, settled on the perfect guy, and doodled hot air balloons on every page of every notebook I wrote in for over a year. Finally, just before Christmas of last year, I printed out the painting I liked, took it to Matt Skin and asked if he could do it. Obviously, he could.

It took awhile to do (of course) and after the first sitting I went into panic mode. I completely shut down and freaked out like I haven’t in a long time. After a few weeks I realized my freakout was normal, and reminded myself how long I’d wanted the tattoo. I got some predictable responses, but by the time they arrived I had discovered a part of myself that I thought was lost: the part that cared more about what I wanted and what I liked than about what other people wanted for me. So when I heard the first “but your legs were so beautiful” comment from a family member, I told her I hadn’t gotten in a car wreck, I’d just gotten one of them painted, and if she wanted to see a plain leg she could look at my left one instead. Not even a month before that happened, I’d have broken down crying and left.

In the months since I got the tattoo complete, I’ve been making strides toward my goal that are visible even to myself. I’m not there yet, but I think I’m doing well. So it was time for Step 2: Make big decisions based on what’s best for myself, not on what I tell myself is expected of me.

So I put in my two weeks at my job. I know some of my coworkers might read this, but that’s okay. I don’t really have much to say on this front, just that it became startlingly clear that it was time to move on, and work-related stress was wearing me thin and disrupting my relationships and my personal life. I do think that my anxiety disorder has worsened in recent months, but it’s a chicken-or-egg question at this point. It’s scary for me, because I don’t have any prospects. But I know that I’ve made the best decision for myself, and if it upsets someone’s apple cart, then that’s their responsibility, not mine.

I know for a lot of people, these things all sound like common sense. And for high-school-me and even college-me, it would have been common sense, too. But somewhere along the way I really lost myself in the sea of projected and perceived expectations, I stopped pursuing things that made me happy, and I became someone I wasn’t really proud to be.

But the old me—the one who didn’t care about being called a bitch as long as she was with people she liked, who wore clothes she thought were cool even if no one else agreed, and read manga tucked into her history book as if her teacher didn’t notice—the old me I think would be proud of this new me, this me that I always really wanted to be anyway.