Still Overwhelmed

College is hard.

I just wanted to validate that. If college feels difficult and overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. Anyone who brushes you off when you say you’re feeling burnt out by saying something like “You’re young, you can live without sleep!” or “Just wait until you get into the real world!” (as if universities are part of some mysterious “fake world”) is not a person you need to worry about.

I just graduated earlier this year. I was lucky enough to land a full-time position in my field almost immediately, which felt like a miracle. I really enjoy my job and generally feel really lucky.

I am also still recovering the aftershocks of burnout from school.

It’s weird to say that five months after graduation. I feel like I should be at the point where I can relax and enjoy my free time more. I thought by now I’d have more energy to tackle stuff like housecleaning and general life improvement stuff. I thought I’d get to feel like a normal human who wasn’t working 55 hours a week and going to school full-time.

But I’m just not there yet. Which is not to say that I’m not glad to be done or would rather still be in school. I’m grateful to finally be reading for fun and on my own time again. Knowing that I can come home and not have to worry about schoolwork on top of chores is nice. But I still can’t seem to get to the point where my energy levels feel anything like “normal.” Instead I feel like there’s a hundred things that need to get done every day, and if I’m lucky I might have the energy to get one or two done.

I’m not saying this to freak anyone out. I feel like if I’d read a post like this in the months leading up to graduation I wouldn’t have taken this very well. Mostly I just wanted to share my experience because I don’t really have anyone to talk about this kind of stuff with, and I’m sure there’s more than a few recent and soon-to-be grads who are experiencing or about to experience something similar. Most of my friends are still waiting to graduate, and I’m not entirely sure that family members who have gotten their degrees would understand. How do you explain that the thing you’re most passionate about drained you in ways you can’t entirely put into words?

For those of you who are still struggling while you’re in school of just after leaving: it’s not just you. I’m right there with you. We’re gonna get through this.

30 Things and an Outline for #Preptober

As you can see from the picture above, I am hanging on to my October decluttering challenge by the skin of my teeth. Last night, I took a few minutes to pick out 30 things to get rid of. I’m still way behind, but something in me just does not wanna let this challenge slip away unfinished. I’m sick and in a metric ton of pain graciously provided by an ill-timed strep throat infection, so just plain existing is hard enough. But I’m trying not to let being sick have me completely incapacitated. I still have goals I want to achieve this month! Even though the wind has kinda been taken out of my sails, I still need to get to where I’m going.

Aside from decluttering, my main goal for October was to get prepared for NaNo. I’m also pretty behind on that, but I do have the very beginnings of an outline started. That’s honestly a whole lot further than I assumed I would get this month. And I still have a week to go before my planning time runs out, so all is not lost.

For anyone else planning on taking NaNoWriMo on next month, I am going to be hosting some NaNo writing events for work. If you’re interested, feel free to join us in our Discord chat room. I have 3 events planned over the course of the month (on the 1st, 15th, and 30th), but I’ll be doing my best to keep things lively throughout the month. Feel free to drop in!

I’m Not Behind for No Reason!

So, when I made my last post on Friday I was exhausted and my throat was scratchy and I was generally not feeling all that great. I made it through work (including an awesome talk someone gave to our company who worked for a major tech company up until recently – because working at a tech startup sometimes is a stereotype in the best way possible)  and felt okay, but the throat scratchiness wasn’t abating. By the time my commute home was over, all I was really able to do was collapse into bed.

Cue a largely sleepless night because every time I swallowed it felt like I had nails in my throat. Around 3AM, frustrated that drinking copious amounts of water wasn’t working, I used the light from my phone to check my throat in the mirror. Sure enough, I had all these big, gross white spots just chillin’ back there, looking bacterial and painful. So I made an appointment at the local urgent care and just tried to wait it out until I could get some antibiotics in me.

Not exactly the way I wanted to spend my weekend…

But now that I’m not either sleeping like the dead, lying awake in pain, or snuggled up in bed watching Mindhunter (which, sidenote, is SO GOOD. It’s definitely creepy and definitely gory, but as a true crime fan I am eating it up. I just finished the last episode, and that last scene is a doozy.), I feel a lot better about the fact that I’ve fallen behind a bit in some of the stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish. My body is telling me to rest, so I am. Sucks that I feel like I keep needing to rest, but to me, that’s saying that my processes of life are inefficient and I need to keep working on making my own life easier and more efficient.

I’ve been taking on more at work and have been trying to help out more at home. I haven’t been the most successful on the home front, unfortunately, because honestly once I get home I mostly just want to be a lump tucked under blankets. Some days I have the energy to do one or two of the things on my to-do list, but either they get sidelined for stuff that’s more pressing like helping with dinner or meal planning or running errands or cleaning the kitchen. But those days feel like miracles because I feel like I’m always The Tiredest Person Alive, regardless of how much sleep I’ve gotten (though I’m pretty sure I haven’t been getting enough the last few weeks). I wish that giving the toilet a proper cleaning didn’t feel like climbing Everest, but it does, and I’m just not completely sure why.

The main thing I’ve been trying to tackle is being more efficient with meal planning. I’ve been trying to use more nonperishables that we already have, as well as make meals in an order so that if there are leftovers, we can try and use them in later meals. Example: we made a roasted chicken, ate the chicken with rice and veggies, then saved the bones in the freezer for when we get some time to make chicken broth, and then saved the meat we didn’t eat for a sorta-keto BBQ chicken pizza. Super simple, but it takes a few extra minutes of planning and thinking the week through. It also makes it harder for us to come up with excuses to just have PB&J for dinner.

But that only does so much. I need to figure out how to better use my time while I’m commuting. I have about an hour each way on public transit, and with a smartphone in hand, there’s a whole lot I can do. I also want to try and get rid of more of the clutter and some of the furniture in the house, because all it does is get in the way and stress me out. It just takes time to take care of that and I haven’t had days off besides weekends, which are already all booked up with other errands and chores. I’m also trying to get back in the mindset that if it takes less than two minutes, I should probably just take care of it. Also trying to deal with the fact that a lot of the time, I can’t do The Whole Thing At Once. I have to do things in parts, because that is what I have time and energy for. Would I like to spend an hour scrubbing down the whole bathroom and get it to my ideal level of cleanliness? Of course. But sometimes, I just need to clean the dirty mirror because it’s gross and bothering me and if I take care of that one thing for 5 minutes, it will improve my life.

Anyway, in summation, I’m tired of always being tired and sick, and now that the smoke has finally cleared over San Francisco and I won’t be horribly sick in a few days, I can finally get back into a proper routine that includes exercise, spending some time outside, and generally being better at doing life. Just gotta stick to it.

99 Things…

I messed up with my decluttering challenge and got behind. Really, really behind. Yesterday, I made a list in my notebook for the 99 things I would end up tossing in the evening once I got home…

…it’s still blank.

Now I have to add 20 more slots to this list so I can finish it tonight and get back on track – 119 items in total. Ugh. I definitely have 119 items I don’t want, but it seems like such a daunting task. It’ll probably only take me 45 minutes, but I just… don’t wanna.

As you can tell from my post history, October has been a really exhausting month for me, particularly the past couple weeks. I haven’t had the mental energy to sit down and write or do anything more productive than making sure dinner is made and then trying to decompress before I go to sleep. It might be the seasonal shift and the fact that when I get home it’s getting dark now, new responsibilities at work, or just overall fatigue catching up to me.

Regardless of whatever’s got me so tired, it has seriously affected my ability to declutter. I’m hoping I’ll be able to catch up this weekend and maybe get a little ahead. I’m also going to start working on the process of actually getting the non-trash items out of my house rather than having them stacked in the living room waiting for me to do more than designate them as unwanted.

For now, I’m just trying to think of all the things that need to go so it’s a no-brained once I get home…

#Preptober Continues!

There are twenty-two days left until NaNoWriMo. I’m getting a little more scared, but also way more psyched up. My boyfriend and my dad have both decided to participate, which is exciting. I’ve never really done NaNo with anybody besides me, myself, and I. I’m also going to be living in the city while really-for-real-not-quitting-after-three-days participating, which is also awesome. I’m a Real Adult now and the idea of going to write-ins or other local NaNo events isn’t completely scary now. I’m also doing some NaNo-related stuff for work, which means I’m thinking about NaNo all the time instead of just when I’m in productive leisure mode (the rarest mode of them all).

The most exciting piece of prep I’ve done so far this month has been writing a synopsis for my novel. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, considering that I haven’t been 100% sure what my story was even really going to be about. But I tried to treat it like I used to treat thesis statements in my college essays. It’s a possible roadmap for where I’m going that will get me asking the right questions, but I may go down a back road and find something totally unexpected but way better than what I started with. I may end up writing something entirely unrelated to the synopsis/thesis and end up having to rethink it altogether. And that’s fine. The point is that I have a starting point and have told myself what direction to start going in.

Here’s the synopsis so far:


Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 10.11.10 PM

Add me as a Writing Buddy on! My author name/username is missbluestocking.


In writing just those first few hundred words, I learned some new things. The city people are definitely going to be some of the main antagonists in this story, but I didn’t have a fully realized idea of how that would happen. I still think I need to rework some of my ideas about them. Like, for example, I don’t necessarily want to write a story where violence is the answer/the main conflict. But the premise I’ve given myself leans that way. So my current options are: 1) continue with this premise and then subvert the violence paradigm by having Masha always choose nonviolence and use more creative problem-solving, or, 2) change up my premise and have the issue be more internal. The girl that Masha picks up – she’s damaged. She’s been stewing in a deeply toxic ideology for a long time. Maybe that girl causes problems because her social training just doesn’t work in a society so radically different from hers. Maybe she tries to apply city rules to the community she moves into and it causes conflict.

It’s an interesting choice to make. I’m not entirely sure how I want to go about it. I have this idea of what I want this book to be, what I want it to say and mean, but I haven’t yet figured out how to get there. I’m really happy I’m already thinking about these questions, though. This story has been rattling around in my brain for months, but this is the first time I’ve actually really put pen to paper and done anything real with it. I definitely think that that’s worth doing before November 1st, especially if you’re a Planner rather than a Pantser. (That is, if you prefer to plan ahead for your novel rather than flying by the seat of your pants.)

I still have a lot of questions that I need to ask myself in the next few weeks, but I feel really happy about where I’m at right now. Definitely feeling more confident in my ability to finish this year than I have ever felt before.

How are you preparing for NaNo? Are you a Planner or a Pantser? Share your thoughts in the comments!



October Declutter Challenge!



At the end of last month, my mom (hi Mom!) and I were both talking about how much stuff we’ve been wanting to get rid of – cluttery things that we don’t use that are still just sitting in our houses, gathering dust and getting in the way. Both of us aspire to some degree of minimalism. (We’ve already talked about how I’m not good at minimalism, at least with regards to books.) And as we talked, she said, “We should do a declutter challenge!” Fresh off my successful September eat-in challenge, I was totally into the idea. She explained in further detail: we would get rid of things that were just sitting around and either donate them, sell them, or throw them away. On the 1st, we would get rid of one thing. On the 2nd, two things. On the third – you get the idea. This would lead up to eventually getting rid of 31 things on the 31st of October, and then looking at your house and feeling a little bit freer from your stuff.

One week in it’s been going well. Other than the things I’ve thrown away, the other stuff is still in the house because I’d rather take it all to get donated at once rather than make a bunch of trips throughout the month. But it feels so good to have started to go through things! I’ve been saying I would go through my books for months and now I’m actually doing it. I’ve also been taking care of those weird piles of clutter that just start to collect when you live in a place long enough. It’s been a really good experience so far.

I will admit that I have not been entirely perfect in completing my daily declutter numbers. There have been two days this week where I simply forgot about it. Happily, I’ve been able to catch up. So on the 4th when I forgot, on the 5th I knew I had to get rid of nine things total to make up for missing the day before. I’m a little worried about forgetting later in the month considering my current track record, but it’s comforting to know that if I really need to I can take my time.

It’s also been a really nice way for me to connect with my mom. We text each other most days and usually talk on the phone at least once a week, if not more, and we never run out of stuff to talk about, but it’s been nice to have this in common. It’s also really motivating getting her texts with overviews of what she’s gotten rid of, especially when it’s stuff I know she’s had forever and just hadn’t been able to let go of. And it’s been nice to know that my stuff is going to end up at the local Goodwill or making me a little pocket money on eBay rather than just sitting in my house doing nothing for me or anyone else.

To Walk Invisible

to walk invisible

Last night, I finally got the chance to finish up To Walk Invisible: The Lives of the Brontë Sisters. It’s a two-episode miniseries put out by Masterpiece and the BBC that mostly focuses on the adult lives of the three Brontë sisters, particularly their relationship with their brother Branwell.

I’m going to say this up front so that I can focus on other things later on: I really loved it. It is extremely rare for me to be able to watch anything without messing with my phone or knitting or whatever. I was absolutely glued to the screen. It was beautiful to look at, and I felt like each actor inhabited their role completely.

That said, I feel like this would be a difficult movie for someone who is not slightly Brontë-obsessed to watch. Had I watched it a year ago, before taking a class on the trio of sisters, I would’ve been pretty lost. Now that I have that semester-long class (which thankfully included lots of biographical information and reading of the Brontës’ juvenilia) under my belt, it felt more like getting to visit old friends. The film spends a decent amount of time on the Brontës as children, particularly the fantasy world of Gondal that they all wrote about as children. The miniseries throws you right into the children’s imaginary world with no explanation, and without knowing that the Brontë kids were adorably creative and made up an entire fictional universe that they used to write stories and poems and use while they played, it’s a confusing place to start. Fortunately, because of the time I spent in my aforementioned class on the Brontës, I knew what was going on, and I felt this intense rush of recognition and joy at seeing the young Brontës.  It’s an important piece of them that makes them feel more real and human to me.

I also felt that the focus on Branwell, the only brother in the Brontë household, was sort of odd. I understood to some degree why he was the center of everything in the series, because he shows up in other forms so often in his sisters’ works. However, it often meant that time was taken away from the sisters and what they were doing. Branwell is an important piece of the puzzle but I would have preferred to hear the sisters discussing him more rather than seeing him slip deeper and deeper into alcoholism and illness.

Also, I had one petty complaint: Patrick Brontë, played by Jonathan Pryce (who is always a joy to watch, just as he was in this film), sounded far too British. I was looking forward to hearing a Reverend Brontë with a thick Irish brogue. Unfortunately, they decided to go a different route and have Pryce sound much as he always does.

Aside from those few things, though, I can’t say enough about the film. When the film began its final scene with the death of Branwell and transitioned to shots of Haworth Parsonage, where the Brontë family lived, as a museum crowded with people excited to see the space that Charlotte and Emily and Anne lived in, I started sobbing. It’s silly, but I just felt so proud that these sisters had made it. Charlotte, of course, was celebrated in her time, but nothing like the kind of veneration the Brontë sisters receive today. Seeing a gift shop filled with books written by and about the three sisters and people who looked like they were from all over the world poring over them was… something. Something good. The shot of the statue that stands at Haworth of the three sisters, and then the transition to the actresses who played them standing out on the moors and looking every bit the happy trio was one of the most moving things I’d ever seen. I felt such a strong sense of how much they’d overcome to be the staples of English literature they are today. It felt like they’d won on my behalf, somehow. They wrote these wonderful books that have become my touchstones, and they cleared the way for female writers and intellectuals like I fancy myself to be.

So, if you’re a diehard Brontë sisters fan, this is definitely a movie you should see. If you like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights or are some mysterious individual who is really into The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (please get in contact if you are, I have lots of questions for you) but haven’t delved deep into the Brontë Mythos, I definitely think it’s still worth watching, even if there’s parts of it that aren’t readily accessible. To Walk Invisible is definitely one of my new favorites.