One More Page

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Look at all the pretty.

So, alright, this is one resolution broken. I had a list of totally manageable New Year’s Resolutions, or so I thought. One of them was to blog once a month. Once a month! That’s not even difficult! And I kind of equivocated with “yeah, but February is the shortest month” but that’s bull. I just didn’t do it. I put it off until the last minute, like always, and didn’t follow through. Instead of blogging on February 28th, I spent it watching Teen Wolf with my best friend. So I don’t regret the decision, necessarily, but I could have blogged while we watched (I had my laptop, after all) or I could have, you know, just not procrastinated. [See: me finally finishing this post on March 31st.]

And yeah, I did my usual roundtables over at Off Color TV, [uh, okay, no. Nope. I'm behind on Parks and the last few eps of Teen Wolf fell through the cracks.] but that was contributing to a post, not actual blogging, and… you don’t care.

Anyway, BOOKS! I’m kind of glad this post got delayed because I have even more book-related stuff to talk about. Y’all know that I love books. Love, love, love ‘em. I’ve been buying them more and more, which is wonderful. There’s a certain sense of joy and also comfort in having shelves lined with books. I keep mine organized by color because they’re my books and I can do what I want. Also, I’m more likely to remember what the book looks like than the author or the title at any given moment. It’s my system, it works for me. And gives me some pretty cool looking bookshelves.

So the last month or two have been more bookish than usual. It’s glorious. I’ve been going to the library more often because it’s just through the park and it’s a really nice walk. Sure, the loan-period isn’t very long and the renewal limits are even worse, but books! Free books! And they have a rotation of books for sale that are never more than a dollar. So far I’ve already acquired The Age of Miracles (Walker), Great House (Krauss), Middlesex (Eugenides) and Telegraph Avenue (Chabon). I also wanted to get the copies of Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and send them to friends as a fun project, but alas, when I returned they had already disappeared.

But I’ve also made more of an effort to buy new books. Because, as much as I love second-hand books – books that have had their pages turned, that have a life of their own – authors don’t get those proceeds. So I’ll still use the library or my Kindle to find books and authors I adore and admire and then once I feel that tug of connection with a book, or an author, or just a sentence that was so beautiful you wonder how someone managed to write it, I have to buy it.

I’ve recently fallen in writer-love with Maggie Stiefvater. She seems amazing, her life seems cool, and her books make me want to die a little bit. But in a good way. I once pulled up a review of The Raven Boys on my phone in the middle of a bar to show my friend Kate one of the (many) amazing sentences that filled its pages. Since I read TRB, I’ve been picking my way through her other books. I bought Forever at a Half Price Books when I was visiting my parents over Thanksgiving. It’s the third in a series, though, so it sat prettily on my shelf while I worked through the first two. Shiver I got from the library. A day after I picked its sequel, Linger, up from the holdshelf at the library – while I was still carrying it around in my purse – I bought a signed copy from One More Page, an independent bookstore where my friend Kate was participating in a reading/author panel. (Don’t worry, I bought the anthology she appeared in, too!)

There’s some small addiction in buying books. I love to see my shelves fill up, to support authors, to know that I can read any of them, any time I want. I can’t suddenly drop everything to follow the assassination trails of past presidents or skip a little league game to save the world from Coyote, but I can pick up these books and be transported into those situations and that’s kind of thrilling.

So, I’m going to read Kate’s short story and give her some feedback before diving back into Forever. And then tomorrow Camp NaNo kicks off and, though I don’t really understand how it works, I’m hoping to finish the first draft of my novel. The novel I have been working on for two years and then end is in sight, people! Maybe one day, in a year or even ten, I’ll have my very own novel to add to my bookshelves.

Oh, I also picked up a few galleys when One More Page had their 3rd anniversary party. I got:

  • The Unnaturals (Barnes – whom I follow on Twitter and kind of adore)
  • Etched on Me (Crowell)
  • Be Safe, I Love You (Hoffman) [I actually got this book as the result on Buzzfeed's What New Book Should You Read This Spring? quiz]
  • The Remedy (Goetz)

Birthday Anxiety

I actually made realistic New Year’s Resolutions this year, and one of them was to blog at least once every month. Technically, I have. I’ve posted many, many times this month to Off Color TV, but not here. And when I made the resolution, it was with this blog in mind, so here we go.

I recently had a birthday. It wasn’t a seminal birthday, I didn’t hit a milestone, it didn’t feel like a big deal. The biggest change, really, is that there will no longer be a Taylor Swift anthem with which to associate.

But the whole week or two leading up to my birthday made me incredibly anxious, anyway. I had to really sit down and think about why, but I think, eventually, I came up with the reason. I’m terrible at making decisions. Rather, I’m terrible at making a decision if it could affect another person in any way, shape, or form. Like, never ask me where we should go to dinner.

I’ve never really been a person who celebrated their birthday. I think I’ve had two actual birthday parties in my life? Maybe three. And I think there are a few reasons why. One is that I’m a pretty low-key person. I can talk and talk, but I don’t really love being the center of attention. When my friend texted me to ask what my plans were for my birthday I said that I wasn’t sure because I don’t know how to celebrate myself. It took an hour for the truth of that statement to sink in. I really don’t. I don’t know how to really splurge on myself. I don’t want for that much and anything too big seems excessive. I don’t know how to ask for a birthday party because I don’t want to put other people out. I don’t want to be an inconvenience.

Which is… a thing I have. I don’t know. I’m insecure and have low self-worth sometimes. It happens. And it’s dumb because I have so many friends that would be willing to celebrate with me that that’s almost an inconvenience in and of itself. What a hard life, right? God, I hate even complaining because I’m so lucky to have all of these friends but there’s too many friend groups and no good way for them all to mix and I’m coming back from a brutal bout of illness that I’m 90% is mono and I’m just tired.

I don’t want to make a decision.

In the end, I didn’t really. That same friend that texted me about my plans took the reins. She asked me what I wanted (margaritas, maybe Mexican food), and picked a restaurant, gathered the troops and led the charge. It was just what I needed.

In the end, I had a pretty great birthday. I got to see a ton of my friends, including a few who happened to be in town for the long weekend. I got to go to some delicious meals, laugh a lot, watch Studio 60, and my friends gave me some thoughtful gifts (I now own ALL of the fox stuff, you guys. It’s wonderful). And then work was cancelled due to snow, extending the already-long weekend.

Just because my birthday and the weekend went well didn’t erase my anxiety surrounding my birthday, or planning parties in general. In those situations, I’d rather be someone’s second in command, helping them make decisions and execute plans, than having to hold the mantle alone. But a lot of my anxiety was assuaged simply because I had people to share my birthday with. It was realizing that a lot of the anxiety I was feeling came down to me not wanting to be alone, not wanting to think that people wouldn’t want to spend time with me. And I am so, so grateful that they all took time out from their lives for me. That’s what really made the day special.

Relationship Theory

Every time I search the “relationship theory” tag on this blog I’m surprised I haven’t published this yet. It’s literally been years since I first wrote most of this. So, finally, as Amanda and I sit around watching Studio 60 again for the [embarrassingly high number] time and mostly written three-ish years ago, is my Relationship Theory. Get ready for a lot of convoluted Taylor Swift and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip references:

I love about pop culture -  watching tv, picking apart plots and dialogue and finding out that some actors are just as hilarious (if not more so) off screen than on. But every once in a while, I realize that pop culture is slowly killing me. Somehow, this vicious media frenzy is making me too idealistic.

I’m rarely idealistic. I’m more the pragmatic sort who wishes she had more of a devil-may-care snark-tastic attitude. Anyway, I tend to be a realist, if not an outright pessimist. Which is why becoming fixated on heart-wrenching moments during scripted television shows kind of kills me. But, at the exact same time, it gives me hope than I can write great stories, great plots that can make other people hopeful, too. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. I’ll never be bright and shiny, but I’m not dark and twisty, either.

The one line that get’s me – every goddamn time – is courtesy of Logan Echolls towards the second season finale of the unjustifiably short-lived Veronica Mars. Logan, a little tipsy and a lot heartbroken, pours his soul out to his ex, Veronica. He tells her, “I thought our story was epic, you know? Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. Epic.”

Be still, my heart. I wish that I could put him on my Amazon wish list. I just… I want epic. I don’t need romance, I don’t even want it. All I ask for is something pure, real, scary, and bigger than myself. Well, okay, maybe that’s a pretty big wish, but a girl’s gotta dream.

It all goes back to the Relationship Theory, based off of Taylor Swift (stay with me). My friends and I usually apply it to Studio 60, though it works for many other fictional stories.

My freshman year of college, Taylor Swift was kind of a big deal. [Hahaha, she's only gotten so much more popular. This is weird. Then again, that was 2009.] Her music, though juvenile, was catchy, poppy, and fun to sing along to. Anyway, one of the bigger hits at the time was “The Way I Loved You.” It’s a fairly simple song, but it ignited a major schism to form between my roommates and myself: which boy each of us would prefer?

I thought it was obvious – you choose the ex-boyfriend. You know that you’ll (probably) get hurt, and it won’t be easy, but you’ll be consumed by passion, completely in love. Love wouldn’t be very spectacular, let alone epic, if you didn’t have to fight for it.

Amanda, however, reasoned that she wanted the current boyfriend for exactly those reasons. She wanted to be sure of her relationship and be comforted by the warm feeling it instills in you. She wanted something she could trust.

But, for those unfamiliar with the song, let me give you examples of the two different options.

Ex-boyfriend: [Taylor was constantly] screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain, it would be 2am and she’d be cursing his name, so in love that she acted insane… Breaking down and coming undone it was a roller coaster kind of rush and she never knew she could feel that much, but that’s the way she loved him. He was wild and crazy, just so frustrating, intoxicating, complicated, and got away by some mistake.

Current boyfriend: Is sensible and so incredible and makes all of T-Swift’s single friends jealous. He says everything that she need to hear and it’s like she couldn’t ask for anything better.  He opens up her door and she get into his car and he says, “you look beautiful tonight,” and she feels perfectly fine. He can’t see the smile she’s faking and her heart’s not breaking ‘cause she’s not feeling anything at all.  He respects her space and never makes her wait and he calls exactly when he says he will. He’s close to her mother, talks business with her father, he’s charming and endearing and she’s comfortable.

So there you have it. Two boys, exactly the opposite of one another. Amanda championed the line where the new bf, “talks business with my father.” She thought that was, quite possibly, the most endearing thing a guy could do. She wants someone who will call when he says, pick her up, make every other girl wonder how you got so lucky.

Okay, so I understand where that is the ideal, you know? Practical and dependable. I get it. But come on. Wouldn’t you prefer wild and crazy, frustrating, intoxicating, and, most importantly, kissing in the rain? Listen, I relish in a good fight. I like being challenged. It’s fun for me. (To a point, obviously. I can handle yelling, I can be wrong, but there’s obviously that line in fighting where emotional well-being comes into question and then you have to take a step back. So, healthy fighting, I guess.)

To me, being challenged is a necessary part of a relationship; I don’t want to sit stagnant, I’d be bored out of my skull. I don’t understand how anyone could be happy with someone who always respects your space; the biggest thrills occur when someone invades your personal space and drags you out of your doldrums, kicking and screaming. (Not all the time. Obviously. Sometimes I just want to sit around in my jammies and watch Netflix and have you just accept it.)

Back to TSwift: the thing that kills me, every time, is that her ex got away by some mistake. And, even worse, her new boyfriend clearly doesn’t know her very well at all. Even if you disregard the fact that the replacement can’t tell when she plasters on a fake smile, he fails to make her feel. When she’s with him, she never get’s past “fine” and “comfortable”. He’s reliable. And yet, he doesn’t make her feel “anything at all.”

All of my favorite (fictional) relationships rest on this theory. That the guy you should be with, 9 times out of 10, is the one who makes you come alive, even if that means you want to crawl out of your skin because you’re so angry you can’t see straight. Which is where the whole Matt / Harriet thing comes into play.

If  you’ve ever sen Studio 60, you will know that there are two primary relationships. The on-again off-again Matt & Harriet and the “slow” burn Danny & Jordan. While Danny and Jordan have a turbulent love story of their own, I will always strive for the Matt/Harriet relationship. They, like literary idols Elizabeth and Darcy, are epic. Their relationship spanned millennia (technically)! I guess this will require a little bit of an explanation.

Studio 60 is one of my favorite shows of all time (haters to the left). It was one of those things that really brought Amanda and I together as friends, but once again we found ourselves divided when it came down to the relationships. There are two couples to follow throughout the course of the one-season series. On the one hand, you have Danny and Jordan who perfectly exemplify the relationship of Taylor Swift and the new boyfriend. Comfortable, reliable, endearingly sweet. And then there are Matt and Harriet who can’t get over each other. They’ve gotten together and broken up more than any of the other characters can count. They’re constantly fighting, but they also have unwavering support in the other. That is what I find enviable; they never lose faith in each other.

I’m fairly certain that Jane Austen would have known exactly what I’m talking about. She, too, understood that the best relationships are not the simple ones, but the ones filled with conflict, strife, and challenges. Deeply passionate love makes you examine every fiber of your being. There’s a reason that Elizabeth and Darcy are the heroes of Pride and Prejudice and not Jane and Bingley. It’s the same reason that Emma and Mr. Knightley are the couple of interest and not Harriet Smith and that poor farm boy. (Consequently, it’s why Sense and Sensibility is my least favorite Austen book, though I know it cover to cover.)

I constantly struggle with this little theory of mine. Because, although my heart wants epic, my mind tells me I want comfortable – that I will eventually just settle down with a best-friend type.

Now obviously the relationships we choose to idealize and covet in fiction are not always well-suited for reality. How many of the epic bonds and love stories from the page and screen are contingent on war or crazy murderers or whatever? In reality, Logan Echolls would probably not make a great boyfriend. Very few of my fictional boyfriends would probably make good real world boyfriends (here’s to you, Seth Cohen and Stiles Stilinski!). But these ‘bad boy’ characters, I like them (and the shows, to an extent) because they are escapist, they let me live vicariously through the characters.

I think it’s important to realize that there is some overlap. I’m interested in the fictional relationships that I am because I find at least some part of them interesting and appealing. The heroes, protagonists, and antagonists that I fall for, again and again, might not be great people. But they’re great characters. And I guess, as long as you or I understand the distinction, everything is copacetic. This Relationship Theory is obviously an extreme reaction to tropes and archetypes perpetuated by fiction, but there’s some truth to it. Rory chose Jess over Dean, she chose Logan over Marty, she chose action and adventure and passion over comfort and familiarity and movie nights with Lorelai. She used those relationships to help her figure out who she was and what she wanted out of life. And maybe that’s their most important function, after all.

Fantasy Christmas List

It’s mid-December and I still don’t have a real Christmas list cobbled together, so I thought I’d give you a peek into my fantasy wish list. All of them would be pretty much guaranteed to improve my quality of life, albeit to varying degrees. I’m going to start from the most realistically do-able and move to the more farfetched and fantastical.

  1. The ability to save gifs as phone/computer backgrounds. It is 2013. This seems like the most reasonable request I could make. Soundhound/Grooveshark can exist but this can’t? I think not. I would really like to be able to have a folder of gifs consisting entirely of foxes and Dylan O’Brien that would constantly rotate. This would improve my mood by at least 66% every day, I’m sure. How could I not smile like a loon every time I checked my phone? It would be impossible.
  2. Implantable microchip medical records (e.g. allergies, pre-existing conditions, medications, etc.) Update via wifi or bluetooth or something. I’m sure science could make it happen. Doctors could just scan and go. This would be so overwhelmingly convenient and would save so many lives. It’s ridiculous. Getting hold of medical records in emergency situations can be entirely too difficult between incapacitated patients and frantic EMTs. Realistically, this would probably be mostly used in first world countries, but the global impact is too great to ignore.
  3. Closets like Cher Horowitz’s in Clueless. Seriously, I don’t have time to mix and match the perfect every day for work. It’d be pretty great if I could get a computer to do that for me. It’d be even better if the closet came pre-loaded with clothes I would be guaranteed to like that were also flattering, but that might be a bit of a stretch.
  4. Videoscreen showers. Not, like, a TV in your shower as I’m pretty sure those already exist. Even I think that’s excessive. More like tiles that display images/video. How cool would it be to be in your shower but be in a forest? Or a beach? I don’t know, whatever you find tranquil.
  5. Enchanted windows a la the Ministry of Magic. Imagine being able to set the weather to your mood. My office workspace is in a walled-in area with no natural light. It makes me kind of crazy. And there’s nothing I love more than watching rain/snow, so this should just be a thing already.
  6. Moving tattoos. Listen. I want a tattoo, but what I really want is a moving tattoo. I read an article about a guy with a gif tattoo, which sounds cool, in theory, but then you have to watch it on your phone and I think that kind of defeats the purpose, you know? I don’t want to have to use a phone to see my tattoo. I want it there, on my person. Moving. Preferably to my moods. Like, if I’m restless and I had a fox tattoo it would pace or stamp its foot. Or if I were sleepy it would curl up and take a nap. I just think this would be adorable and awesome.

Basically I just want magic to be real.

Epistolary, Minus the Novel

I cannot, in good conscious, call myself a ditz. I can, however, use many synonyms thereof: scatterbrained, silly, foolish, brainless, capricious, etc. Because I did a thing. Not quite bad enough to be called stupid or negligent, but kind of dumb. Let’s take it back to the beginning.

Maybe it started when I learned to communicate with the world. But that couldn’t be it because I was a painfully shy little girl. (Don’t worry, that didn’t last long. Though my disdain for strangers hasn’t at all diminished.) Or perhaps it was when I learned to read and write in 1995? No, it must have been much later. Surely, it was 2001 when my mother got a job at the local library. Maybe it was an on-going thing, my grandmother faithfully writing me letters throughout my childhood, fostering my love of correspondence. Which explains why, after I stopped writing to my friend sophomore year of college, I have ever since have wanted a new pen pal. Whatever it was, the result is this:

Kristen moved to Portland. One of my best friends moved 3000 miles away and while that was painful, I was happy for her. It was exciting! And I saw an opportunity. I finally had someone I could write letters to again! So a couple weeks ago, I started doing just that. I pestered her and pestered her until she gave me her new address and I started writing letters.

Let me just say, I’m not the best letter-writer. There are a combination of factors: I kind of insist on writing in cursive, I’m not very punctual, and, well, to be honest, there’s not much going on in my life worth writing about. But letters have a kind of magic to them – there’s a reason #4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrrey was filled with scores upon scores of letters instead of the Dursley’s house phone ringing off the hook. There’s something inherently personal about letter writing. They prove that more thought and care has been taken than any other form of communication I can think of. (Except perhaps semaphore. That takes some serious commitment.) Letters are tangible; they have a life to them. They are keepsakes and memories. And it’s a lot more fun to mail your friend weird cut-out news articles than it is to forward it to them via a bit.ly on twitter. Trust me.

[I once mailed my friend Anne a care package that included, among other things, a news clipping about a bear that, after sniffing peanut butter on the steering wheel of a car, got trapped in the drivers seat and rode the car into a ravine. A shallow ravine. More of a ditch, really. Or maybe it drove into a tree? Either way: the bear got into a car accident whilst in the car.]

So, when I have time to kill or when I have something to say, I sit down and write Kristen a letter. I did so a fortnight ago while waiting for a friend so that we could get dinner after work. I sat myself down in a Starbucks, pulled out a pilfered legal pad, and wrote. And when it was time to meet my friend, I absentmindedly tucked the letter into my purse and carried on with my night.

Which would have been fine. It would have been fine except for the fact that I tucked the letter beneath the cover of the book in my purse. The book that was already woefully overdue from the library.

See, here’s the thing. My mother works at the local library back home. Which is great for any number of reasons. For me, it means my library requests are delivered directly to me. It is a library where books can be renewed ad infinitum. And a library at which, for a beautiful decade, I never, ever had to worry about late fees. Which means that I absolutely got into the habit of not worrying about late fees.

So a fortnight ago I had Amanda drop me off at the library, for no other reason than we had possession of her mother’s car that day. I went inside with no other agenda than to return my woefully overdue books, pay my fine, and pick up whatever it was I had on the holdshelf. (A really good haul, actually: Season 1, volume 1 of Everwood; Mo’ Meta Blues by Questlove; The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.) And then I scurried home to hang out with friends. I put it out of my mind, content to watch the perfect double-feature of Bring It On and Pitch Perfect before muting the Bama vs. LSU game and watching a whopping 2.5 hours of Brotherhood 2.0 on my laptop.

Out of sight, out of mind I guess. Which is why it took a day for me to realize that, d’oh!, I had absolutely slipped Kristen’s letter into one of the books that I had returned to the library. But our library is closed on Sundays, so it was a waiting game. But then it was closed on Monday as well, for Veteran’s Day. I would have been bothered, except for the fact that the library being closed meant there was no way the book I had left the letter in had been checked out or shipped off to another patron or branch.

So, Tuesday after work I marched myself to the library and made a beeline to the stacks, intent on emerging victorious, Kristen’s letter safe in my clutches. But when I got to the shelf, the copy of the book (The Age of Miracles, which I didn’t get more than 20 pages into) I picked up didn’t have my letter. It did, however, have a reminder for some woman’s (I’m assuming it was a woman’s) OB/GYN appointment. I slipped it back on the shelf and went up to the circulation desk.

The guy working was the most helpful. Every other time I’ve been into the library I’ve had an elderly woman helping me, but this time it was a middle-aged dude. I explained my predicament, and told him how the book was from this branch but not currently on the shelf and he dug around in the back and FOUND IT. He returned with the letter. I thanked him profusely and may have done a happy dance. I left with a smile and a few more DVDs.

So today, at long last, Kristen’s letter was mailed. It’s already been through quite the adventure. I hope it has a good transcontinental journey as well.

Pretty Perfect Weekend

If you know anything about me, you will recognize that this weekend was maybe the most quintessential Molly weekend I could have had. Despite my plans for a Harry Potter movie marathon in a blanket fort with pizza aplenty falling through, I still had a pretty excellent weekend. Here’s what went down:

Friday: Y’all know my feelings about my job, so I was pretty excited to get home on Friday and just veg, especially after the mini freak-out on the Metro platform about leaving my Kindle at the office. So when I got home Amanda and I caught up on The Mindy Project before Megan came over and we watched Perks of Being a Wallflower. Full disclosure – I never finished the book. I had been reading it over a break from school, but I had to go back and the library loan was up, and I just never got around to finishing. And you know what? I’m not that broken-hearted over it because while I found the main character in the book to be almost unbearably naive, I thought the movie was really well done. The acting was fantastic, especially Ezra Miller, but Logan Lerman, as well. Not finishing the book meant that I was genuinely surprised about the plot-twist and ending of the movie, which I hadn’t predicted at all. I enjoyed it. After the movie I retreated to my room and hammered out a few more pages on my most recent WIP. Oh, and of note I recently passed the 50,000 word mark for the first time in any WIP. I’m pretty excited about it.

Saturday: I’ve lived in my new place for four months, so I figured it was about time to visit the library. It’s only a ten minute walk, door to door! The path includes cutting through a park! It was all very exciting. The local branch of the library looks kind of sad, both inside and out. Just, severely outdated, a weird floorplan, and a lot of different shades of beige. I did really enjoy the Nerdfighter poster in the YA section (but not so much the admin sign that read “this area is reserved for teens (and their guardians)”. Were they trying to intimate that I’m too old to be reading YA? Because you’re never too old to be reading YA). I ended up getting a lot of titles I hadn’t been able to download from the library’s e-catalog for my Kindle. I ended up walking home with 5 books (4 YA and one adult, just in case the circulation assistant made a fuss). When I got back to the apartment Amanda and Megan had already started the re-re-re-watch of Star Trek: Into Darkness. When that ended, I made a batch of cookies and settled in to watch the Bama / Texas A&M game (Roll Tide!). After that I ended up going on an impromptu, and pretty short, midnight monument tour. By pretty short I mean we basically went to the Lincoln and lounged in the back, where we spent an hour laying down, trying to figure out which of the 5 visible lights in the sky were stars, and which were airplanes. Round-trip was less than two hours.

Sunday: A lazy day. I slept in, made a giant egg sandwich for lunch, continued my Greek marathon before switching over to re-watch season one of The Vampire Diaries. I’ve seen most of Greek already, and all of TVD, so I kept busy by starting a new book (The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater). Reading was interrupted when a friend that happens to live in my apartment building called me from her sister’s phone and asked me to drive her into the city so that she could pick up her phone which she had left at a bar. Upon my return, I climbed back into my hammock and watched the Season 2 finale of The Newsroom, which resulted in a lot of Tina Belcher noises (see below). Then read until I fell asleep.

That was my weekend: baking, books, football, movies, television marathons, and weird road-trip-y favors for friends. It was a nice, low-key weekend before the craziness of this weekend which will feature out of town guests and FreeFest.

Now enjoy a song that was stuck in my head all weekend:

I don’t hate my job…

I just don’t like it. This week marks the 3-month anniversary of me being hired, and the end of my probationary period. The end of the probationary period really just means that I can start accruing paid time off at a dismal entry-level rate. And so, with these 90 days of experience behind me, I’ve been thinking a lot about this job and what I want for my future.

It’s weird to think that this is the point I’ve been working towards all my life. The thing is, no one really prepared me for how much ‘this’ sucks. I don’t want to sound whiny (thought I’ve accepted the fact I probably do), but no one ever told me the struggle of having a job.

Entering the work-force – the one comprised of adults, those working full-time that have to commute and dress in business casual clothes instead of a uniform, those that aren’t simply filling the seasonal employment void – was the first thing I wasn’t prepared for, even though life up to this point was on on-ramp for success. Merging proved to be the difficulty, as it always has been for me. Am I going fast enough? Too fast? What if I cut someone off? What if I fuck up and wreck? I worried about everything that could go wrong, had contingency plans for contingency plans, but I never really stopped to think about what life would be like when everything went right.

Getting a college education was the first step. Years of indoctrination in public schools had prepared me for the classes; I knew I could handle the homework. Making new friends terrified me, but living with people I had already vetted via Facebook helped. I could handle living in a new city because I was ready to leave my hometown. The thought of only seeing my parents on a sporadic basis was difficult, but it’s not like we couldn’t call each other, and email, and videochat. And when it came time to graduate, well, I’d seen friends do it; I braced myself for how difficult it could be to find a roommate, to find an apartment, to be able to afford an apartment, to find jobs to apply for whose descriptions didn’t sound completely awful and like something I might like to spend my life doing. Everybody told me about the importance of internships and a good resume, GPA and references.

But no one really told me about the shift from the academic life to the ‘real world’. And fuck if I don’t hate that phrase. I’ve been living in the real world my entire life, okay? Graduating and getting a job didn’t suddenly change my perspective on life, the universe, and everything. My life isn’t that different – I have the same friends, I drink the same alcohol, I go to the same places, I can only make the same dozen basic dishes.

I always knew that waking up five days a week at 7am was going to be a bit of a problem. I’ll own that I still hit snooze four times before rolling out of bed 10 minutes before I need to leave for work. (I shower, pick out my outfit, and pack my lunch the night before.) I still struggle to go to bed before midnight. But I make it work.

The thing I wasn’t prepared for wasn’t finding the balance of business and casual to get ‘business casual’. It wasn’t the commute, or using a Windows computer, or drinking coffee regularly.

The thing I wasn’t prepared for is how ridiculously mundane my day is. The rote tasks, the vaguely uncomfortable swivel chair, the lack of natural light. I never knew how much I liked natural light until I was put in a walled-off office space, with my dual-monitors and fluorescent lights as my only sources of illumination.

I wasn’t prepared for how mind-numbing a job could be. I didn’t expect the amount of down-time I’d have. And I’m still not sure how to handle the vast stretches of time where I’m not working, not doing anything productive. When I accepted this job, I didn’t expect it to be the position of a glorified intern. Because those are the types of duties I have been allocated: opening and sorting the mail; delivering routed publications and new materials to inboxes; collecting books for updating; shelving.

In preparation for my 90-day evaluation, my coworker let slip that my boss is apparently under the impression that I’ll keep this job and work through library school and work here forever? But I never said that. During the interview process I made it very clear that I was about to graduate and needed a job. This was a position with which I was familiar from my work-study experience and knew I could do well. I expressed interest in the field, knowing full well that in a year or two I’d want to leave to pursue a Master’s degree, potentially in the Library and Info realm. But it was never definite. And the more time I spend here, the more I’m sure that, even if I do end up with an MLIS, I don’t want to work in law again. I’ve seen the reference requests and they don’t pique my interest. To me, they aren’t intellectually stimulating.

No part of this job, so far, has been intellectually stimulating. No matter how many projects they throw at me, I’m bored. I’m scrambling to look busy when there’s simply not any work for me to do.

Which really sucks. I hate complaining about this job that I was so fortunate to get. I’m lucky to be employed. I have friends that are smarter than me, more experienced than me, and they’re unemployed. So I feel guilty complaining that this job, as it turns out, isn’t the best fit, because I’m so thankful that I actually have a job every day. Every time I bitch about getting up in the morning, I have to chide myself, because I’m employed.

But at what cost?

The free time that I have at work, while plentiful, is somewhat spontaneous. There’s not a lot I can do to fill it. I’m on twitter; I’m on gchat, I’m reading NPR and WaPo articles, television recaps, and jumping from link to link. I’m writing. But even through all that, I still feel uninspired. I can’t focus on one thing because there’s nothing pertinent. There’s no challenge. There’s no drive.

The other day I was told that my paid time off (PTO) accrual between now and the end of the year would be 6.5 days. The PTO at my office covers vacation, sick, and personal days. And it wasn’t until I realized I’d only have 6.5 days available for my use that I realized how badly I want to go home and visit. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to go home until I figured out that I don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to is. I realized that I have to sacrifice going home for Christmas because, what with the way the calendar worked out this year, Christmas is the only day I get off. Most likely, I will go for longer than a year without seeing most of my extended family.

It’s strange because, in theory, I can go take time off whenever I want. Well, provided my coworker doesn’t want that time off. And my boss says it’s okay. But I don’t ask for days off that I know I need to go home, to go to the doctor, to take a break, because I know as soon as you do something stupid will happen, like my appendix will finally rupture (I’ve been waiting for it to happen for years) and I’ll be cast into that time where you’re taking leave without pay. Which, honestly, doesn’t sound that terrible if you get some peace of mind.

The drudgery weighs on meso much that even though I’m young and know I should be going out on weekends and having fun, and doing crazy things that will turn into totally awesome stories I’ll be able to tell for years to come, I stay on the futon for the whole weekend, binge-watching Netflix and not even bothering to put on pants. I need this time to recharge, I tell yourself. But then, surprise! Monday’s here again and I feel just as bad, if not worse, than I did on Friday.

I realize that I kind of want to quit. Even though I’ve only surrendered a few times in my life I start thinking ‘is this even worth it?’. And I know it is. I know this job I don’t like is paying for that apartment I really do. This job is the thing that’s keeping me surrounded by friends instead of living at home with my parents (where, let’s be honest, I’d be way more miserable than I am now). And really, and I know this – not even deep down, but superficially! – my job isn’t that bad. Sometimes I kind of like it. Sure, I’m never going to socialize with these coworkers, but it’s not all bad.

I know that this job is a stop-gap. It’s a resume-padder. It’s giving me the time to decide what I want to pursue for my Master’s degree and will give me a bit of a financial cushion when I do take that plunge. It’s not all bad, I remind myself. It’s giving me time to write, paying me a better salary than I expected, getting me out of the apartment five days a week. So I need to suck it up. And I will. It’s just taking some adjustments.