Category Archives: Work

In Which I Complain About Food and Praise a Book

I’m coming to the end of a long first week of something I thought I’d never get myself involved in: the Atkins diet.

My boyfriend’s brother talked the two of us into it. Saying he would do the cooking may or may not have been a huge factor in my agreement, but I’ll admit – I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult. I now have a fridge and pantry full of food I can’t eat, I work in a restaurant that serves Italian food, and I can’t even explain to you how difficult it is to set aside the buns when I order a double bacon cheeseburger during my occasional lunch out. (I recently discovered Hardee’s has a “low-carb” option where they will wrap your sammich in a bunch of lettuce leaves, instead of bread, which is definitely helpful).

I’m keeping a stash of Atkins shakes and bars at work so I don’t feel tempted to eat a butt-ton of garlic bread in a moment of weakness, and I don’t have to give up my beloved Diet Coke or tea (although the latter I can no longer put honey in). I think if I were doing this by myself, or doing the cooking/meal planning myself, it would be a lot more difficult, but thankfully my boyfriend is a good partner for this, and essentially all I have to do is wait around for someone to feed me. I’ve already lost 5lbs, so there’s something. ^_^

My daily routine has finally fleshed itself out; since coming to the revelations that I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recognized the need for a routine, even just to keep myself mentally stable and acceptably sociable. Five days a week, I get up and make breakfast pretty early in the morning. My boyfriend picks me up on his way to work, and I walk three blocks to the coffee shop just south of ISU’s campus. The employees already know what I want and where I sit, and usually what I’m reading at the time. I tend to alternate between writing and reading, and then at noon I meet my boyfriend for lunch. Usually there is more reading, or some errand-running, afterward, and then most days I go to work at 4pm. It’s a full day – or at least, it feels like it to me – but I get a little bit of exercise, and don’t feel like I’m hiding in my apartment, which makes leaving my apartment for other things much easier. Most of my friends are gone from the summer, so the social interaction I get from the employees here is pretty crucial. also, I have a place with few distractions where I can work and be more or less left alone.

1Q84In the past week I’ve blown through Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84. I fell in love with Murakami just after I graduated high school in 2007, and I try to read one of his novels at least once a year. They’re a bit of a challenge, so I always need a lengthy break between them. 1Q84 was absolutely lovely, although at times I did find myself kind of wishing things would move slightly faster. At almost 1,200 pages, it was a bit of work, especially after having read mostly pop lit for the last year or two, but I got through it and was thoroughly satisfied. Five stars, hands down. You can pick it up for Kindle for about $13 bucks on Amazon, or just through down a little bit more for a paperback copy that will also double as a doorstop.

(Also, for the record, it is entirely acceptable to refer to this book as “1984.” “Q”, or “kyoo”, is the pronunciation for the Japanese word for “nine.” Those Japanese sure do love their puns. Haha. Stop it.)

Now that my brain has successfully been challenged, I’ve decided to let it relax with some significantly more “fun”Shades-of-Milk-and-Honey reading. I dropped by the library and picked up Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen novels (I enjoy Pride and Prejudice, but Sense and Sensibility is more my thing), and this looks like, while not particularly deep, it will be a pleasant experience during which I can let my brain relax from the Iron Man-esque marathon I ran it through with Murakami. The book currently feels like a slightly AU (alternate universe) Austen-esque novel. You can follow my progress on Goodreads, and feel free to friend me! I’m always looking to share and receive book recommendations.

I’ve chosen not to push myself on the writing, given the problems I’ve been having over the last couple of years with it. Instead of holding myself to a specific daily wordcount, I’m choosing to sit down and write as much as I feel like I can, twice a day. If it’s a sentence, or five pages, then that’s a great thing. Even this blog post will probably be most of what I can manage today, but at least it’s something. I’m hoping to gradually “work out” my writing muscle a little bit every day, until this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve been thinking about applying to be an ML, but we’ll see how I feel. I don’t want to push myself too hard. Like I’ve been handling my issues: do what I can, and try a little bit every so often to do a little more. No punishment or shame if the “new” thing doesn’t pan out… just try again later. My comfort zone needs to expand, but it doesn’t have to explode.

Having run out of things to say, I will leave you with this .gif I found on tumblr. I guess I should also say I loved Star Trek Into Darkness? I’ll talk about that more next time, I supposed. I’ve got a lot of things to say, but I’m still digesting, so to speak.

Here you go.

Journalism Woes

I’ve always made a point to do my best when I’ve been given a job, and doubly so when I’m being paid. I hated working at Dairy Queen every single day that I was there – my feet hurt, the customers all deserved to be punched repeatedly, and my more than three-quarters of the people I worked with were lazy, belligerent slobs. But when I was in charge in Chill in the summertime, I ran it like I’d been born to do it. I cleaned. I made sure the product I was handing out was presentable. I earned three commendation pins in six weeks, and customers asked for me by name when they wanted something done right.

This past academic year, I’ve been getting paid to do something I actually love to do: write. Granted, it’s journalism, not fiction, but it’s still writing, and it’s still getting my name out there and creating a platform for when I start submitting queries to agents and the like.

I started out doing a weekly opinion column every Friday, the topics of which I tried to focus around geekery – Kindles, my favorite author, the RP and geek culture, etc. I talked about graphic novels, fanfiction, and once I bemoaned the fact that people who frequent fast food establishments are generally inconsiderate morons.

After the spring semester started, I got bumped to news reporting and the occasional feature article, and suddenly instead of sitting down for less than an hour and churning out a 400-500 word article about why I think Neil Gaiman should be canonized, I spend three or four hours a day tracking down sources, getting interviews done either via phone or email (I don’t do too well in person, for some reason), squishing everything together in 400-500 words, and then editing it. Which is great, I love being busy, and I love what I’m doing, and I love getting paid to do something I’m good at. My boss is very keen on helping me learn how to actually write news pieces – my first article made it very clear that I was used to writing fiction – and it’s always nice when a source emails be about an article I interviewed them for and tells me I did a great job. Dr. Robert Hunter of ISU nearly brought me to tears with his compliments, both in an email and in a subsequent interview, in regards to the story that I wrote about the unrest in the Middle East.

I guess I just wish that I got paid more. I mean, yeah, it’s a student publication and I do maximum three stories a week, but I get paid in the single digits per article, and that’s before taxes are taken out. When I was just sitting down to write my weekly column, that was fine, because I was putting half an hour into it, and I didn’t have to do edits – it just went straight to print. Less than ten bucks for that? Absolutely. But when I’m spending fifteen hours a week working on this stuff, and then I’m getting paid roughly fifteen bucks a week… that just doesn’t sit right with me. I understand that I don’t work in an office, so I don’t get paid hourly. But this stuff takes a lot of legwork, and right now I just kind of feel like bitching about it.

In other news, here look at some stuff I cross-stitched:

Ta-ta for now, chillens.