Vocation Awareness Week – A Reflection on Callings and Life

 

 

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Photo Circa October 2011

 

 

Yesterday in church, a visiting priest spoke to us about how this week is Vocation Awareness Week. It was perfect timing because I’ve been questioning everything lately.

Grad school is going well, but whether it’s because I’m only taking two classes a semester, or because a lot of the publishing material is the same as what I covered studying broadcasting, public relations, and general communications during my days as an undergraduate, I realized last week that I am profoundly bored. I know, I’m as horrified at the prospect as you are. Mostly, I can’t figure out what, aside from teacher insight, I’m getting out of the classes that I couldn’t get on my own. Graduate school isn’t worth it just for the degree and the name of the school on my resume.

When I was first earning my bachelor’s degree, I was convinced that the right school on my resume was my ticket to the Best Job Ever. After transferring to a smaller school and getting a better education there, I realized how ridiculous that idea was. It’s never been about the school name, it’s always been about what I can learn from the program. That’s why I chose Emerson College. It is supposed to be the best graduate publishing program in the country, taught by current professionals, and my ticket into the industry through networking.

I am enjoying my copyediting class, but that’s because the teacher makes it interesting, and the textbooks are a little dry for me to work through on my own. We also have to take overview classes in book, e-book, and magazine publishing. I was assigned to take magazine publishing this semester, and it is almost exactly the same as three different classes I had to take for my bachelor’s. The teacher is lovely, but the material is nothing new. We also have to do interviews with magazine professionals for this class, and for all of my googling/emailing/twittering/calling, I have yet to get a response from anyone I have reached out to. And the lack of interviews, even though I don’t have control over that, actually affects my grades, which is just terrible and makes me incredibly sad.

So, what am I getting out of graduate school? The truth is, I don’t know. My apartment lease is good through August, so I am going to keep at it for another semester and try to take more classes in book publishing specifically, but if it doesn’t get any more interesting then I don’t see the point in sinking myself into more student debt if I don’t need to.

I spoke to an associate editor back in September at the Boston Teen Author Fest, and while she has a master’s in publishing, she said that if she could go back and do it over, she wouldn’t. She would apply directly to internships instead and get involved in the industry that way. Because you can get as educated as you want, but at the end of the day, the industry is small and the only way in is to know people who will want to hire you. Every day that I’m bored with my classes I feel her advice more strongly.

 

If I choose not to stick with graduate school, the next question becomes, of course, whether I want to try for internships here in Boston, or in New York City? My parents live about 90-minutes from NYC, so moving back in with them would make it possible for me to work a part-time job locally and go into the city a couple days a week for an internship.

On the other hand, I love Boston. I feel at home here, and I rarely feel at home 5+ hours away from my parents. Maybe it’s because I have family nearby if I need them? My aunt, uncle, and cousin live here, and my great aunt and a slew of second cousins live just north of the city.

In 2015, I traveled to Portland, Oregon, for a public relations conference and fell in love with the city. My favorite parts were the lack of nightlife and the abundance of green space. It felt like coming home, except it was on the other side of the country. That’s what it felt like moving to Boston. There are parks everywhere here, and New England is almost as friendly as the Pacific Northwest. I have a profound desire to live within walking distance of bookstores, coffee shops, and museums, and I have that here in addition to a church I really like. This city is huge, but at the same time, it is incredibly small. There is a reason the Boston Marathon starts in another town. The entirety of Boston proper is maybe three miles by five miles, and the extended Boston Area is about ten miles by twelve miles. There is always something going on, and that drives my curiosity and my imagination constantly to new heights.

Moving back home requires me to give up all of the coffee shops, bookstores, museums, and my church, and moving near New York City would require me to give up all of my parks and outdoor space as well as my church community. I am at an impossible crossroads.

 

When the priest spoke about vocations yesterday, a couple things clicked in my mind. I started thinking about my life as it stands now, what I can and cannot live without, and what I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.

I’ve never really wanted to be a nun. In fact, until the spring of 2016, the only thing I definitely wanted out of my life was motherhood. I wanted to raise babies with the love of my life, teach them how to survive in this crazy world, and watch them fly. Admittedly, I went to college because I needed to do something and get a job to pay the bills until the day I got married and had babies and could be a stay-at-home mom, and also to have something to go back to after my babies were grown. But I didn’t love anything like I loved the idea of motherhood, and I think that is one of the primary reasons why I floundered so much during college. By the time I transferred schools at the end of 2012, I was completely lost and unsure if I would ever get married, let alone date, and I threw myself into studying communications at my new school in part to distract myself. I enjoyed communications. It was logical, it was scientific, but it was also at the root of what I loved as a child: creation and creativity. Studying communications brought back my love of writing, which had been missing since I started high school.

I graduated with my bachelor’s in Communication Studies, and then I started looking for a job. I quickly realized that none of the companies that could pay me any livable salary had ethics that I could live with or worked with brands that I could get excited about. It was a sad day when I realized I was back to square one. No potential jobs, no potential relationships, and a fat lot of nothing to show for the last five years of my life. I was lost again. I job searched for six months while helping to plan two weddings, and then I took a retail job. I enjoyed the job and wedding planning, but they didn’t change my life or give me direction. After the weddings, I moved to Boston and became a nanny for my baby cousin. I loved that, too, but it also opened my eyes to the trials that would come with motherhood. For one, you can’t turn it off, and I don’t think I ever really thought about that before. I wasn’t even his mother and the worry was almost crippling. The good days were amazing, but the hard days were harder and more exhausting than anything I have ever experienced. It showed me that I’m not quite ready for motherhood; and that finally allowed my heart to consider other options.

Options. There were many of them at the time. I could move home and get another retail job and exist listlessly while I saved up money for an apartment and then some unfocused future doing who knows what. I could get a job in Boston and stay here, doing the same thing with less of a support network. Or, I could consider graduate school in something.

As a child, I wanted to be in school forever. I wanted to possess all of the knowledge of the universe. I really couldn’t blame Eve for trying that apple, because knowledge is intoxicating. While getting my bachelor’s degree, I decided that I was firmly against going to graduate school. I didn’t want to be a teacher, and if I wanted to study history there were a thousand ways to do that without getting a degree of some kind.

Then I discovered publishing through a YouTube video. Ironically, this is similar to the way I discovered public relations, except that that was through Twitter. After a year of praying over it and processing the idea, I applied, thinking I would have to apply for multiple years before I got in. I was accepted on the first try, and now I’m in the thick of it, but I’m still questioning.

Discovering publishing didn’t suddenly make me want to be a writer or an editor. I’ve always loved those things, but it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it. When I found publishing, I thought a master’s degree was my only way into the industry. Since getting accepted in March, I have learned so much about the ways into the industry, but the doors themselves are still very much closed to me. I hope to crack them open next semester when I take my book publishing classes, but it is becoming more and more clear to me that opening these doors isn’t something anyone can do for me, but something I have to do for myself, in my own way, and with my own timing.

 

All of this questioning started a couple weeks ago when I finally landed a new job. I’m working in retail in what I guess could be described as head cashier position at a superstore that I won’t name for security reasons. My first day was interesting enough to keep me engaged, and then the morning of my second day I sprained my foot/ankle. After nearly two weeks, I returned to work a week ago for my second day on the job, and everything has been hunky-dory since then. I’ll never know if it’s because I’m on crutches or not, but everyone has been especially kind and calm when I ask questions, and so many people have come up to me and introduced themselves that after only six days on the job I can now tell you the basic hierarchy of the store and who is in charge of which departments, as well as point out the store manager, the HR manager, and the regional manager upon request. It’s amazing to me how quickly the acclimation process is going, and just how much I am enjoying it. I get excited to go to work, even though it means being on my feet/crutches for about eight hours and dealing with a handful of frustrating customers each day. I love serving people, especially when I can serve not only the customers but also my fellow employees in some sort of leadership position.

 

So, in the middle of yesterday’s mass, I realized that motherhood wasn’t my only calling. I can’t live without books. The writing, editing, and creation of them as well as the consumption of them. I adore working with people, whether in a customer service or leadership capacity. I also have a dream of being a Girl Scout Leader someday. I was an assistant leader in middle and high school, and it’s life-changing to help young people discover their strengths and the confidence to pursue their dreams. I want all of these things, and where I live won’t change them. These are my vocations.

TOTY – 25: Responsiblity

 

 

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A+ self-confidence here, letting you know that this photo is 100% makeup and filter free. Wheeee!

 

It’s July! Which makes it my birth month, the anniversary of this blog (starting its FOURTH year!!) and also time for a new theme of the year, or as I like to call it, TOTY. If you’ve never read one of my TOTY posts before, allow me to explain. Every year around my birthday, I like to select a broad theme for the next year of my life, to help guide my decision making for the next 365 days. I’ve focused on things like experience, health, and writing. You can find links to all of my previous TOTYs at the bottom of this post.

It’s been one heck of a year. Being 24 was one of those strange in-between years like 19 and 20, where you’re not really sure what the objective is except to survive. I’m turning 25 today, which to 12-year-old me seemed impossibly old, but to be honest I still feel fairly young. Turning 24 helped me to take a little control of my life. I wasn’t so much in my early 20s anymore, and people stopped expecting me to go out and party with them every night, which definitely allowed me to come into my own skin a little more. Now that I’m turning 25 and officially in my mid-twenties, I feel completely free of that party-hard culture that tried to suck me in during college, and people have stopped looking at me strangely when I talk about career opportunities like the important things they are. I’m extremely happy to be out of that age where people say ‘oh, you have plenty of time! Just concentrate on having fun!’ instead of taking my job inquiries seriously.

The last year started off by helping two of my friends plan their respective weddings, both of which were at the end of August/beginning of September, on back-to-back weekends. Cue tons of crazy drama, none of which is mine to share but I was somehow a part of anyway. Let me just say: WEDDING PLANNING IS HARD! Thank goodness I had both of them to bounce ideas off of for each other. I was able to fill in the holes in both plans based on what each was doing to make sure all of the bases were covered, down to vases on the reception tables for the bridesmaid bouquets. At the end of October, I made the huge decision to leave my part-time retail job of 10 months in Allentown, Pennsylvania to become a nanny for my then seven-month-old cousin in Boston, Massachusetts. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, though I do still miss my amazing coworkers.

One of my goals for last year was to write every day. While that didn’t happen, I did do quite a bit of writing, and I’ve definitely adjusted mentally so that writing is at the forefront of my mind 90% of the time. I participated in National Novel Writing Month, and you can find my weekly updates from November here. Besides NaNoWriMo, I’ve worked hard to locate some of my favorite coffee shops in the city where I can work besides my room, and it’s helped immensely.

Another goal was to apply to graduate school, which I was intensely nervous about. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get in right away because of my lack of writing experience aside from this blog, and I would need to reapply a few times before I got accepted in another year or two. BUT I WAS WRONG! I have been accepted to the Publishing and Writing Master’s Degree Program at Emerson College here in Boston, Massachusetts where I will be starting in September! I think because I didn’t expect to get in right away, this all still doesn’t quite feel real. I have to pinch myself a few times a day just to remind myself it’s all happening. Just thinking about it makes me tear up from joy. *as I start to tear up*

My last goal was to apply to full-time jobs. This one has been a little complicated because I took the nannying job in October, and I’ve been pretty happy doing it. I cannot, however, continue doing it once I start graduate school for logistical reasons. So I am back to square one, but with a lot more writing under my belt than I had last year. I’m ideally looking for an Editorial Assistant or Copy Editor position, but I would take something like an administrative job if need be.

Last year around this time, I was contemplating my current nannying position and the general idea of Boston. I had only been here twice, both briefly, and yet the city enthralled me. I’ve now lived here almost nine months, and if possible love this place even more. Sometimes I take a train to a random part of the city and then walk back to my aunt and uncle’s place, just to explore. I guess what I’m saying is, not only do I have to remind myself that I got into grad school but I also have to remind myself that I live here and that I get to go on living here, not leave when a semester or internship ends. It’s an amazing feeling: a mix of freedom and adventure, the world an open book in front of me.

 

This feeling is fueling my theme for the next year: RESPONSIBILITY
I need to continue working things like time management skills, becoming financially literate, and getting better at cooking and baking. General skills all adults should have. Looking towards a future that includes moving out on my own, it would irresponsible of me not to learn these basic skills. So, how do I plan to achieve these things?

To become more financially literate, I’m going to start reading about it. From finance and money management blogs to Finance for Dummies, I’m going to try to read something every day for the next year to help me better manage my money and understand the finance industry (ie, stocks, bonds, bank account types). I also started a spreadsheet to track my spending in January 2017, and starting January 2018 I’ll be able to make fairly strict budgets to help me get the most out of my time in grad school and still pay off my debt in a reasonable amount of time.

To become a better cook, I’m rounding up family recipes to practice. I want to combine these into a cookbook that I can refer back to anytime I need a meal idea, which should take the pressure off of making a full meal for dinner when I live on my own. I’ll probably be moving out of my aunt and uncle’s house and into my own apartment this Fall, so knowing how to make more than Mac and Cheese and Chicken Parm should be pretty helpful.

Fridays this year will consist of a mix of lifestyle posts. Finance posts will share secrets to money management I’ve picked up, and share some cool blog posts to help you with your own money skills. Food posts will share my favorite family recipes.  In addition, Fashion posts will chronicle my building of an adult wardrobe appropriate for all aspects of life, Fitness posts will share snapshots and thoughts on how to get back in shape your way, Focus posts will share study and writing tips to help you get the most work done in your spare time, Family and Friends posts will teach you how to deal with your family as a new adult, and Faith posts will share ways to incorporate your faith into your everyday life. Obviously, I won’t have a chance to share on all of these topics every month, since there are seven of them and only four or five Fridays per month. My plan is to mix it up a little, and we’ll see what we get.

If this all sounds like a lot to do on top of grad school, finding a new job, writing book reviews, and continuing work on my novel(s), that’s because it is. But I’m excited to share this journey with all of you! I feel that at the age of 25, these are the things I should know how to do. I’ll be on my own next year for a lot of grown up things (like healthcare), and I think that makes it important now more than ever that I know how to take care of myself in any kind of situation.

 

What are some things you want to work on this year?

 

 

Check out some of my previous TOTYs:
TOTY: 22 – Why Soul Searching is not my Theme of the Year
TOTY: 23 – Wellness and Becoming My Best Self
TOTY: 24 – Me Doing Me

 

My Thoughts on Depression

 

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It is often hypothesized that the Dementors in the Harry Potter series were meant to represent depression. The Patronus Charm, the manifestation in animal form of a witch or wizard’s happiest memories, was the only known spell capable of driving away and defeating them.

 

Depression is a weird thing. It comes and goes like a thief in the night. It can rob you of all happiness for no reason at all, and it can also pass in an instant. Worst of all it plays no favorites, yet it sneaks around, pretending it only has designs on your life. It makes you feel isolated. And afraid. Makes you doubt yourself, would have you believe you’re a burden on the people you hold most dear. It makes you feel unworthy. Of everything. It tries to lower your standards forcefully as if it knows better than you what you deserve, what you are capable of. It makes you feel as though, no matter what you do or who you are, everyone out there is better than you at everything you are phenomenal at. It takes your imagination and turns it on its head, shrouding it in a darkness so deep that your strongest hopes are only a ghost of a whisper.

Depression is the Devil’s strongest tool. When he can’t break up your relationships, when he can’t get you kicked out of school, when he can’t get that car to hit you as you jaywalk across that busy street, he sends depression and tries to convince you to destroy, and then eventually end, your life yourself.

I count those fighting depression amongst the strongest people I know. The Devil only sends depression to those who he can’t reach otherwise. Their faith, hope, love, grace, and will are too strong for him to beat down by normal means.

If you find yourself up against depression, keep fighting the good fight. I know you can’t see the end in sight because of the darkness, but believe when people remind you it is there. You know it is. You are stronger than you feel.

At this early point in my life, I already know people who have succumbed to what their depression asked of them. Please don’t become one of that number. You have a light in you, no matter how small, that is burning with a fierceness even depression cannot snuff out without your permission. Arm yourself with calmness, wisdom, patience, and courage, and keep defeating your darkness one battle at a time. The war will be long, but your army is stronger.

 

I wish you all peace, light, and blessings throughout this holiday season and the ensuing winter ahead that bears its own darkness we all must deal with.

Until Next Time,

Amanda

October Update – 2016 Goals Check-in

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This month felt like a solid decade.  I meant to write this post like I did the others, around the middle of the month, but I found I was just too emotional to do it justice. Packing for the move, finishing my last couple weeks at the bridal shop, prepping for NaNoWriMo, there was a lot more going on than I was ready for.

The month started out with me realizing that I actually was moving. I’d been discussing the idea with my aunt and uncle for so long that it seemed like it would never happen. Being a pro at packing because I’ve basically lived out of a suitcase for the last 10 months when I was staying with Big Red, I kept feeling like I was missing things, but for the most part I wasn’t. The only things I forgot in the move were soap, my razor, tape for my posters, my yoga mat, and my desk chair that didn’t fit in my car anyway. Otherwise, my entire life fit in my little blue Prius. It’s a weird feeling when you realize that your life can fit in your car. Very scary and yet freeing as well. I plan to go out and purchase a bookcase for my room since I brought about 25 books with me, plus all of my writing notebooks. I know. I brought books with me. But I only brought the ones I plan on reading before I visit my parents again since I really don’t have space here to store all of my books. It hurts, not having all of my books in one place. #BookishProblems

I attended homecoming at my alma mater, East Stroudsburg University in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, on the 15th. My friends Jordan, Connor, and I revived our radio show The SoundWave for the day, which was fantastic. Then we wandered around campus and grabbed a bite to eat downtown. It’s one of the best feelings, returning to a place that brought you so much joy and taught you so much about life. ESU and WESS 90.3 FM are a couple of those places for me.

Hanging out with my local friends one last time before I made the move was hard. I know I’ll see them during holidays and everything, but with everyone basically out of college now and working, it’s difficult to make time to see each other, especially during this time of year. I’m so thankful they were all able to take the time out of their busy schedules to see me before I moved.

The hardest part of making this move was leaving the bridal shop. The last 10 months there have taught me an extraordinary amount of things. My customer service skills have increased tenfold. My understanding of logistics and conversion rates, and sales in general, has improved astronomically. I now know the difference between the colors Guava, Punch, and Coral, Blush, Bellini, and Petal, Pool, Malibu, Spa, Oasis, and Capri, and Portobello, Mystic, Mercury, and Pewter, something I never thought would be relevant to my life, but now seems indispensable. The ladies I worked with showed me new points of view to just about every aspect of life, and I made some friends there that I will never find the likes of anywhere else. I truly hope I never lose touch with them. Working at that bridal shop has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made, and I will never, ever, regret it.

Still, making this move, I think, was the right choice too. I’ve always been one to explore new things and love new experiences, and so far I’m loving my new city. Boston feels pretty homey. My arrival here wasn’t full of hoopla or craziness. Walking the streets, even for the first time, feels like greeting an old friend I haven’t seen in years. Yesterday I overheard two girls talking about their new favorite word, ken, which comes from Gaelic and means to know. I’ve always liked that word, and I find that I like it when other people have really crazy intelligent conversations just walking down the street. Living near Harvard has its perks. I passed a group of stay-at-home-parents the other day, and two stay-at-home-dads at the back of the pack were discussing toxicology. How neat is that?

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Source: MemeGenerator

 

Let’s take a look at how I did on my goals. I’m sure it’s atrocious.

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day – This didn’t happen, again. But I’m getting better! I actually had a dream Thursday night that turned into 3,000 words of a new story, so there’s that. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of the month packing all my stuff and working, so I didn’t have a lot of  free time to locate my notebook and get some writing done. I did, however, do a lot of organizing of my background material for my novel. This will hopefully help me not get distracted when I attempt NaNoWriMo next month.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is a project that people sign up for, where the goal is to write 50,000 words of a story during the month of November. why November, nobody knows, especially since we have Thanksgiving in there and everything. It’s exhausting. I attempted it last year when Iw s taking a break from my main storyline and working on a spin-off, but I only got 4-5,000 words into it because I kept getting lost in my background information. This year I’m hoping to tackle a full draft of my main story, so it’s going to be an interesting ride!

Apply to Full Time Jobs – I think I’ve succeeded for the year with this one! As I mentioned before, I’ve moved to Boston, MA to nanny full time for my baby cousin. He turned 7 months old on Saturday! I’m beyond excited, and so far I’m enjoying myself. I’m only a week in, and while my muscles are tired and I’m actually really, really exhausted, I absolutely love it. And I’m getting more writing done than ever before because nap times are a wonderful thing. So, check getting a full time off the list for this year!

Apply to Grad School – I’m going to the graduate open house at Emerson this weekend! But I haven’t done any GRE prepping yet beyond buying a GRE prep book…

If I like the school on Saturday, I’ll start prepping on Monday. I know it’s going to be hard. Supposedly the math portion goes up through Calculus?? 😦  but I’ll survive. I do still have to look into where/when the test is being offered in/around Boston, and I’ll need to contact professors to ask for recommendation letters, but there’s no point in jumping the gun if I end up not liking the school, is there?

 

October Goals:
Read 7 books – Ha. Ha. Ha. With all the packing, I finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the beginning of the month, attempted reading A Passage to Shambhala and gave up after 2 weeks and getting nowhere after 400 pages, and I just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I read this week during, you guessed it, nap time. So that brings the total up to two? and a half? maybe one and a half? It all depends on whether you count Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as this month or last month because of when I read the majority of it vs. when I finished it.

Exercise – Does walking 4 miles round trip to visit a bookstore yesterday count?  I hit 10,000 steps for the first time in ages. It seriously only used to happen when I went to NYC like once a year.

Write 5 posts – I wrote my moving info post on October 1st, and I haven’t posted since. Oops! Well, here is number two, and my NaNoWriMo prep post should be up tomorrow. So that makes three! Next month you’ll mostly be getting my weekly NaNo updates, as well as a post or two about exploring my new city, and of course the monthly update, so you can look forward to 6-8 posts next month at minimum because let’s be honest, I’m probably going to gush about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters in two weeks as well.

Write 10,000 words – Well, if we count the dream I had that turned into ~3000 words of a new story, I wrote a total of 5,519 words this month. which isn’t bad, but it’s nothing close the the 50,000 that I’ve signed up to write next month as part of NaNoWriMo. And a lot of it went towards that new story, which doesn’t help me in the long run with working on my main novel.

Move to Boston – Now this, I succeeded at. I’m currently writing from my desk in my new room. It’s in the attic, so I think I’m going to call this place the Aerie. It feels fitting. My desk chair only arrived yesterday, so I’m very excited. I’m headed to Target tomorrow to buy a bulletin board. I thought I could live without one, but my desk is kind of small and I am in desperate need of space for NaNoWriMo notes, so to the store I go!

Write 14 book reviews – This one was heavily dependent on me reading all seven books on my TBR list, and since that included the last three big Harry Potter books, A Passage to Shambhala, and Moby Dick, I’m not really that surprised that I got nowhere near this goal. I have written 5 reviews so far, and I’m halfway through a sixth. I’m hoping to finish the sixth and complete another one tomorrow before the month ends, bringing my total up to seven. Also, in case you were wondering, Moby Dick has been tabled until further notice, because I can only have one massive and boring book in my TBR pile at a time, and A Passage to Shambhala has usurped that position.

November TBR:
Will Definitely Be Reading:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the screenplay, which I have on pre-order)

Might Be Reading:
A Passage to Shambhala (~300 pages left to go!) – Jon Baird and Kevin Costner
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
You Are A Badass – Jen Sincero
Thrive – Arianna Huffington
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist
Manage Your Day-To-Day – Jocelyn K. Glei

I’m Moving!

Not to worry, this website isn’t going anywhere. However I, physically, literally, am moving! If you read my September Update a couple weeks ago you already know this, but if you didn’t, now you do! I’m sure you have some questions, so allow me to start off by answering the big ones.

Why are you moving?

I found a job I love better than the one I currently have, and it requires me to relocate. It’s not in retail, which I have enjoyed, but am not looking to make my career in, and it’s full-time! I do love the job I have now, especially the people, but the job I am going to is beyond rewarding, and something I’ve always wanted to do. It will also help me save up for graduate school if I decide to go that route.

What will you be doing that you’re so excited about?

I’m going to be a live-in nanny! And I don’t have to worry about not getting along with the family or anything like that because I’ll be nannying for my aunt and uncle. They will both be working full-time, and they need someone to watch my six-month-old cousin. He’s the one I was babysitting last month who’s super adorable and happy all the time (cross your fingers he stays that way!). This means no more hour-long commutes, but also some quiet time in the evenings for reading/writing, and weekends off!

So… Where are you moving to?

I will be moving to Boston, Massachusetts! It’s a city I’ve always been interested in living in (despite being a die-hard fan of the New York Yankees), and I’m super excited to finally have the chance to explore it!

When are you moving?

The plan is to make the move near the end of the month since my uncle starts his new job in November. I’ll be sure to share photos and tidbits as I move in!

What are you most excited about checking out in your new city?

The Boston Public Library, obviously. Besides that, I’d like to explore Boston Commons, the local bookstores, the downtown restaurants, the publishing houses in the city, the waterfront area, the local bookstores, Emerson College (where I’m thinking about going to grad school), the community Quidditch Teams (because Harry Potter rules, duh),  Harvard, BU, MIT, the city ballet, and the local bookstores. If you have any recommendations of places I should check out, let me know on Twitter! I’ll try to post once a month or so about the places I discover in and around the city.

Overall, I’m PUMPED about the move. I can’t wait to explore my new city. And just to sweeten the deal, I’m moving just before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts! This means I’ll be able to attend meet-ups IRL, something that was impossible where I live now in the middle-of-nowhere, NJ. I love New Jersey, but it’s not all that conducive to making writing and bookish friends. I’m thrilled to be able to meet and get to know Boston’s NaNoWriMo participants. I’m hoping to be able to read and write more once I’m up there and no longer community an hour to my part-time job. This move is going to be so good for me.

 

Until Next Time,

~Amanda

Piercings and Tattoos, Oh My!

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The last six months have simply flown by. We got little dustings of snow here and there, but the only blizzard we got was back in January or February, when Big Red and I got buried under 30″ of the stuff. It has rained a lot this spring, however, and maybe that makes up for it. I’ve been working pretty steadily, and helping Big Red and The Nurse plan their weddings. It’s a lot of fun, actually. The month of May, however, has been particularly interesting in the general course of my life.

For The Nurse’s wedding, all the bridesmaids are doing matching jewelry. She and I were discussing this at the end of April, and I bought up the point to her that I didn’t have pierced ears. I wasn’t opposed to them, I said, but I had never had a real reason to have them. Why should I pierce my ears unless I have a reason? I would simply be creating another reason for me to spend money. A wedding though, THAT is reason. So I told her that so long as she gave me about 2-3 months of notice, I would get them done so I could match the rest of the bridesmaids, etc. She let me know the last week of April, and I enlisted Big Red’s help to find a place to get them done. I don’t even notice I have them unless my hair or my shirt gets caught on them. So far they’re fine, and I haven’t had any issues. I do the whole alcohol swab thing every morning and night and today marks a month since I got them done.

My tattoo (seen above) is an entirely different story. Maybe it SEEMS as though I got the ear piercings and went crazy and decided to get a tattoo as well. Not true. I’ve always planned to get a tattoo, but I could never decide on one. there are many things I love, but almost none of them that I would put permanently on my body. About two years ago, one of my sisters asked my cousin to design a tattoo for her: a pine tree with a cross inside of it. My sister never ended up getting it, but my cousin decided that she really liked the pine tree as a symbol of our family (our last name is Woods after all), and got a small pine tree tattooed on her ankle. As soon as I saw it, I knew that was what I wanted. Still, I spent the last TWO YEARS mulling it over. My cousin was supposed to go with me to get it at the end of last summer, but she left for school in Montana before we could get to it. When I found out that she was home for Memorial Day weekend, I informed her that it was time, and we drove out to Silk City Tattoo in Hawthorne, NJ, where she got her first tattoo, to get my pine tree. Mine ended up being more intricate and larger than hers, but there is not a single thing I would change about it. The guys at the parlor were super nice to us, even after they found out it was my first tattoo. There was no teasing, and they made it as painless as possible (I would equate the pain level to scraping your foot on the concrete sidewalk, except for a prolonged period of time, so like a 2-3/10).

Sure, it’s in a place that can only be covered by pants, or tights, or knee socks, but besides being one of the least painful places to get a tattoo and the exact location of my cousin’s, I wanted it to to be somewhere where I could see it every day. I didn’t see the point in getting something meaningful if I was just going to forget it was there. I have no idea how having my tattoo will affect my future in terms of employment, but I do know that it hasn’t affected my current situation at the bridal shop (where many of my coworkers have multiple tattoos).

The effect on my family has been interesting. My siblings and my parents think it’s a little on the large side, being nearly 5″ tall from trunk to loftiest branches, but in proportion to my extra long legs, it doesn’t seem that big. My paternal grandparents, who aren’t surprised by anything anymore after raising 8 children and 20 grandchildren, really like it. My coworkers love it. Other reactions have been mixed, but it hasn’t fazed me so far. I expected many of the reactions I got, and the majority of them were pleasantly surprising.

Will I ever get another tattoo or piercing? Probably not. I have no reason to get any other piercings, and I’m not really interested in piercing anything else, like my lip, eyebrow, belly button, or cartilage, and see no reason to get multiple holes in my ears, either. Tattoo-wise, I can’t say. I may eventually find a quote or other symbol that I want, but I don’t see it as very likely.

Let me know your thoughts on piercings and tattoos on Twitter!

Until next time,

Amanda

Facing Some Fears

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So the last few days or so have been a little difficult. I’ve been contemplating life and what I want to do, and I finally sat down and discussed with my mom some of my fears and misgivings that I have moving forward.

“I’m scared to work in a big city,” I said. I’m worried that if I get a job there that I will have to move there in order to do my job effectively. It’s not the moving that scares me necessarily, but the fear of getting a roommate that I can’t trust and having to live in a city where I know no one, working a job that I don’t like to pay back my loans and eke out a meager existence. This fear is not completely irrational or unfounded. I have had bad roommates in the past. However if I let them, my parents, friends, and even my extended family would definitely help me vet any apartments or roommates I would be looking at. I just have to remind myself that I am not alone in this. Too often when thinking of the future, I think about me, regardless of everyone else in my life. But to live my life to my best ability, I really do have to take them all into account. Not in a ‘I can’t move to Oregon because how would they go on without me‘ kind of way, because they could, and would, go on without me if I moved away, but more in a ‘How can I live my best life by keeping my family in it so I don’t go insane with homesickness‘ kind of way. Because my family is my source of strength. Without a strong base, I can’t reach for my loftier goals.

Applying to jobs is incredibly disheartening. So many employers never send any kind of response to a resume or inquiry you send in. I have come to appreciate even the automated rejection notices, because at least they give a semblance of closure. To combat this, we did some investigating, and discovered that most of the big, credible companies I am interested in working for only hire through agencies. Now, locating these agencies is a whole other ballgame. Some businesses will have a ‘careers’ link right on the website. Perfect. Love it. But for some others, finding out about job openings there is like finding a needle in a haystack, or a needle in a cornfield, or something like that. Nearly impossible. So when we finally located some of those agency sites, I was ecstatic. Now I can find some jobs that I’ll actually be interested in, I told myself. Still, the pickings are slim.

I worry that I’m missing some qualification that will get me the job I want. I only did one internship during college because that’s all I had time for, but more and more job openings are screaming that internships are important and that companies won’t hire you without internship experience. Why? If I worked in the field at some other company then I’ll be aware of how that company works, and it will just confuse me when I try to learn your way. Without the in-field internship, I might not be familiar with the types of software and everyday jargon you use, sure, but as a highly teachable and quick learner, I can pick up those skills in about 3 months no matter what I’m doing. I can tell people all day every day that I am a quick learner, but they aren’t going to believe it until they see it because everyone puts that on a resume regardless of its validity. Sure, I only had one internship, but I learned as much as I physically could and then I turned that into a part-time position at the business. The skills I have learned during my life are incredibly varied and nuanced because of how I grew up, and if there’s anything I can’t do, I know someone who would be willing to teach me how to do it, if I only ask. There is really nothing for me to be afraid of.

So what is my plan? Apply, apply, apply. Look into businesses and agencies and send out an impeccable copy of my resume and a cover letter to all of the jobs I am interested in. Then, the waiting. But while I’m waiting I can be learning. There are a million ways to learn about a field. The simplest way is to do Google searches about it. Then, there are people in the industry that I could interview and ask about their work and what their day-to-day entails in order to get a better look at how it all works. There are always classes I could take, at local colleges or online, to get inside the industry. Or I could skip the classes and just read books written about the industry. See how the authors are interpreting the field they are a part of, and view how the field is growing and changing. These are all things I could do. These are all things I will do to varying extents.

Talking with my mom always reminds of two things. 1) I am not alone, in this or in anything. And 2) I am a lot stronger than I think. I have a lot of gumption, or nerve, or faith, depending on what you call it. And I am not afraid to use it.

Until next time,

Amanda