Crohn's/UC Liteature & Websites

Saturday, May 28, 2016

One Year Later: Getting my First Full Time Job

When I first began writing this blog post, I felt how I always feel when thinking about full-time jobs in the "real" and "adult" world. I had prepared for that moment by doing two internships while I was in school, one during the summer at a historical society and the other in my last fall semester at a nonprofit organization. 

Unfortunately, I found both did not suit my needs and, though they included writing and gaining experience, I was still quite bored. This trend was not the case for my job in the writing center, which grew busier as the semester continued, or at the grocery store where I was at a cashier. It must just be the internships, I thought. 

I have been sufficiently bored at my job since attaining full-time status at this time last year. The same trend always exists. I am excited to be there, looking forward to it; I am busy, learning the ropes; I ask for more things to do, in order to impress; and then not a lot of things come up that I need to do. Why? Is it me? Do I finish my tasks too quickly? I know when they are finished I have put all the hard work I can into them, so its not like I hurry and do a half-ass job. What, then? Why is this happening? 

This contributed to my rocky transition period into my full-time job. It was incredibly difficult for me to sit inputting information into a spreadsheet all day for eight hours. Not only did it make me feel useless, but it also started to effect my writing habits. After doing this work all day--even if on my breaks I took walks, wrote, or read books--I found, upon returning home, that I did nothing. I watched TV. (Normally, I do not watch a lot of TV. When I get an apartment it will not be one of the things I purchase. Of course, I want my DVDs and Netflix, but those are quite different than idly sitting on the couch because you were drawn into a program you chose at random.) It was so unproductive and, just as it happens when I do not write for a few days, I was unhappy. 

As I grew up, my goal in my mind stayed the same: to never ever do a job for the money. That was not living. The only way, I knew, I could be happy is by doing something I love, and that happens to be writing. Except this will not pay off my student debt or help me live--not yet. In order to start moving forward instead of behind is to have a job where I just make money. It's how we all start off, right? Only, if I was busy at all of my jobs, I might not despise them so much. I know I only liked working as a cashier because of the constant flow of tasks that kept me from looking at the clock. At any job, this would be the same case. 

Everything has been slowing down for my work. Thoughts stray into my mind of unhappiness, but I keep my projects going. The only positive thing is that at this job, I still want to write at the end of the day. I crave it. 

And then, yesterday, something arrived on my desk that reminded me of an important, forgotten goal from last year. 

It was a 401K plan I could sign up for, and information on health insurance. I am still on my parents, except having a backup, having my own, means huge relief. Since I have colitis, being without health insurance is just unimaginable. My medication alone--one of them--would empty my savings. There it was--my one reason for getting a job that was not money. To have a backup. To be safe and healthy. 

So, what does this mean for being happy? What does this mean about how busy I am at work? I am not quite sure yet; however, I am glad I completed last year's goal. 

UPDATE: Not long after I wrote this post, I was approached by my boss, who has been trying to find someone to fill a bookkeeping job, and he asked if I wanted to apply. When I replied I did, we looked up where I could do accounting classes to understand it better, and I am now in my fourth lesson! Things are looking up, and I am ever so slowly filling my day with busy, productive, activities. AND I am still writing. I'm getting closer! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Of Two Things I'm Certain

Being in your twenties is possibly the most confusing time of my life. Not only have I just left my past self behind, but I have yet to discover who my future self will be. Trapped in the middle like this is both frightening and amazing, for its almost as though you're caught in the middle of an adventure. I can tell my writing reflects this. In my revision, my main characters struggle for belonging and identity. In my WIP, my main character struggles to remember himself (he has lost his memory) and discover his identity by combining past memories with ones he makes in the present. I know that writing these will help me find myself, too. 

And that's how I plan to get through it all, by writing. 

When I left school, leaving the image of "Jess always doing her homework" behind, I was scared. What if I was only good at school--at taking tests, writing essays, answering short-answer questions? All the homework would end. After that, what would I do with all my free time? How would I handle getting a full-time job? These are just the start of all the questions. For example, we could follow with the struggle to (A) make money, (B) maintain an interest in my job, (C) the desire to move to an apartment, (D) the desire to get a new car, (E) unable to do any of these things because I'm paying off loans... I'm sure your situation was or is similar to mine. 

Through all these changes in beliefs, in friends, in who I want to become, I have two things I am sure of. 

1. I am not on the path to becoming a "What Not To Wear" horror story. I used to watch this show all the time during the summer because it was on every day at noon, so I turned it on when eating lunch and quickly became pulled into the episode, especially if there was a marathon going on. My mother always dresses really nice, and with her as my guide, I have been doing the same. (Although, I type this with a frumpy sweatshirt on. Hey, it's cold!) Regularly purging my closet, something I am in need of doing soon, has kept me on top of things, despite how difficult it may be with my colitis. Every time I get a flare my jeans could fit differently, so buying the correct size is of optimum importance. As I dress I hear Mom's voice in my ear: "What, no earrings? How about a necklace?" 

2. I will always be writing. This grounds me more than anything. I love it. It helps me talk myself through my problems, whether I am writing in my journal or a blog post or even a novel, as mentioned above it seems as if I am using that outlet--that of my character's identities--to discover my own. I have been writing stories since I was five years old. My ideas are plentiful. If I do not write I will explode. Despite all the confusion I may have during the day, it vanishes as soon as I begin. 

It is quite relieving to have two things to ground me, leaving me with just enough courage to explore the unknown. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Journey to Soy Free

In January, there was a period in my area where everyone was falling sick with the stomach bug. Of course, this did not mean well for me, since my colitis was already feeling quite rough. I'd been trying to convince myself that everything was fine, that I did not need to call my doctor and have him put me on stronger meds. Now there was no denying. It was time to try different methods. 

First, I decided to take different supplements, including vitamins C and D, Tumeric, and Iron. All of them helped.

They helped me stay afloat, somehow, but one weekend when we had ordered Chinese for lunch, I had a strong reaction to it. Although, the rest of the day, I felt fine. Beautiful. I had no issues. 

Mom and I looked at each other, we were on our way to go shopping, and knew what this meant--soy. For a long time, my uncle (her brother) was really allergic. I recalled how in school I tried soy milk, since I cannot have dairy, and was incredibly nauseous the entire day. It was worth a try, especially since I did not want to take stronger medication. Being only 22, this could cause me a lot of issues down the road. Throughout that afternoon, we realized the chips I ate every day had soy, the pretzels and/or crackers, the soup...the list goes on. 

Its been difficult to find things without soy that I can eat. Whats good is that it means I'll have more organic food, but that also means it could involve more hard-to-digest grains (bad bad bad!). A while passed before I was able to eliminate the tricky "Processed in a facility that uses soy" products from my diet. Even if it meant eating the same thing for lunch every day, I did not care. It helped me feel better. 

And it HAS. Ever since making those small, yet difficult, changes, I feel so much better. Here and there I have bad days, but everyone does. At least this is giving me a chance to heal and recover from the stomach bug I had more than a month ago. Coming up soon I have an appointment to get allergy testing done, so I'm looking forward to seeing those results. For now, I'll continue progressing with this diet change.

If you have any soy-free products you'd like to share, delicious recipes, or tips, I would love to hear them!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Revising Goals

This week I reevaluated and thought out my goals for the revision I'm working on.

When I first began in the fall, I made my goal to finish the revision before June. One of my favorite beta readers is finished with school then, so she'll be able to dive in without being worried about homework. Another possible beta works at a school, so he can read while there are no kids in the building. However, I soon realized, when I finished Part 1 of the revision in December, which is the longest part, that this would change.
It seemed like a miracle; I would be able to finish revising sooner.

So my new goal became May 1 to have it completed. It still gave my betas the time frame they need, and it also gave me additional time to read my story and revise it before handing it over. I was to complete Part 2 before March 1. 

March 1 has passed, and I am well into Part 3, into the new parts of the climax. Its scary, and rather exciting, so my goal is to be revised again, but in every good way possible. I'm so excited to reread this and give it to my betas, and even more eager to work on my next series I have plotted out and planned already. 

My new goal? Finish the revision by April 1. Once I am done, I will print it out and stick it in a binder. I also want to shrink the pages down and get a look at it that way, just to try an interesting new form of revision (a blog post will follow on this). Once all my paperwork is completed, I will set my novel aside and--with enormous difficulty--ignore its existence. 

In between April and May, I have various other projects to work on. One is a recipe book for my mother, another a purge of various paperwork in my room, another a T-Shirt quilt. Will this distract me from my writing? Or will I need to actually work on real writing to help myself forget it? We will have to see! How did you wait out your month? 

At the start of May, I will begin revising and reading, including reading it aloud to find errors and reading it to myself to find errors. 

Sometime in June--which is a rough estimate--I will print and hand the revised copy out to betas. I am so excited for someone to read this and even more thrilled that the plot has ended up the way it has. It's come so far, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Setting goals is so important for me and one of the few ways I manage to get things done, that and the prospect of crossing something off of my to-do list. I plan to write down this list of goals and hang it in my room so whenever I pass it I am reminded to keep working, to never give up, and to pursue my dreams, no matter what the consequences. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Update: Conquering Revision

It can be difficult to take a different approach to a story that's been worked on for ten to twelve years. In fact, I believe that's what my problem has been in past revisions: I kept too close to the original, so close that my writing style from way back when leaks into my new draft. Over the years, plot has shifted, yet old ideas still persist with a stubborn attitude. In September, I started my last plot revision of the project and became determined to rewrite it all. Not only was this my revision technique now, but it will also become, possibly, the way I revise in the future. No pressure?

One of the issues I have when I write is that I come up with a great idea for a scene, write it down, and then forget about it. If the paper is not in front of me, I write an entirely new version of the scene. Later, upon finding the original idea, I battle myself. Idea A, or Idea B? Usually I go with the latter, for the simple reason that the new idea is more interesting than the old one. This is all good and fine for first drafts. What about revisions? Before starting, I knew that would be my main problem. If I continued flying past the old plot notes, this draft would become a first draft and we would be at square one.

Not an option!

Instead of messy papers everywhere on my desk, I made a master notes list, split into at least six sections. The first was history of my land that I re-built in so many ways, which influenced the present day of the story. Next came the changes to the culture of the people. This was followed by the parts my story is actually split into. I began making mini-outlines (at least, this is how Part 1's section goes), but they evolved into adding the main differences to each section, which included "In-Between" (there is a space of about two years between Part 1 and Part 2), Part 2, and Part 3. If I consulted this packet of notes, I would not forget a lot of it. 

It was a nice thought, anyway. I did check on that packet; although, as time went on I found my notes were not here. In fact, they were paper clipped together and stuck in the binder of the copy of my book I was checking. If I was finished with a particular note, it did not linger--I put it in a folder on my desk of old notes from that story.

The other problem--a much larger one--was how to revise the plot and my writing style without letting those pesky phrases from younger me slipping in. Before, I simply copied the page, typing it all up over again in order to find any errors. 


This time around, I realized what I should do is reread the scene I am about to write, and close the binder. No more peeking. Ideas that I enjoyed would stay fresh in my memory, while at the same time allowing my writing to improve. If a scene did not hold a great change to the plot, I copied it, but this was rarely done. My routine became to reread the old scene, reread the writing I had written the day before, and then start writing the new scene. Anything forgotten was not important anymore. 

Learning to revise in the way that fits me best is an ongoing effort, as it is for us all. How do you revise? I'd love to hear! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Returning to and Discovering Myself

November of 2014 began with the most unexpected thing--my break up with the first person I'd ever been in a relationship with.

Looking back, I was blind, forgetting everything I wanted, and this break up did nothing but bring me good. 

At the time, my entire world shattered. I consulted close, comforting friends, and pulled myself away from him. It was a long and difficult process. 

Since I was enveloped in it at the time, I really had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea until November 2015, when posts from that time showed up on my Timehop. 

I would like to call these posts "A Return to Myself." Whoever I lost while I was in that relationship I seemed to find again through these strange, little acts of rebellion. On my own again, I was left with one question: Who was I? So, I set about answering it.

Truly a rebellion. It was both exciting and worthy of nausea.

One of my favorite outfits at that time were my black leggings, my black Within Temptation t-shirt, and bright, orange shoes. I also wore, at some point at my internship, bright orange tights with a black and white dress. I was sad, yes, but not depressed because being single again meant I could do anything--move away even, if I desired it. 

More rebellions surfaced as I scrolled through my Timehop. This one was particularly notable: 

One of my friends was in the play, and it was REALLY good!

What inspired this? Part of me believes that I just wanted to get out of my bedroom at school, go see new things. In the crowd of a theatre, I would not be alone. Except the way this is written shows it might be a little more than that. It was my senior semester of college--time to write my seminar paper--and instead of being productive, I trudged through the cold to see a play. New clothes, new routine, wonder what came next?


For my entire college career I battled the huge and heavy, broken mouse, cover breaking apart computer, and it seemed now was the time to do some researching. Not only that, but it was also time to do something I had always wanted:

I've always loved red/ginger hair.

As I read through these, I wondered if I suppressed all this while I was in a relationship. Yet, in the process of being in the relationship, I grew as a person. Afterwards, it became time to grow again.

This journey was not an easy one, and I am happy to say that I have discovered myself since then. I learned what I believe in, who I am, and what I want my life to be like when I move out of my parent's house. The small rebellion of November 2014 will have a special place in my heart, for both the choices I made and these heartwarming Tweets that showcase my thought process at the time. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Quoth the Raven, "Meow?"

Meet Raven. We got her for free over the summer.
Head and tail of a Siamese, black coat with hidden stripes, and
 brown eyes.

She's very curious and nosy.

She loves to help me read,

and enjoys watching TV; particularly,
Her fashionable carrier, decorated by yours truly!

She's very modern, loving to watch the keyboard and
mouse, and uses touch screen devices.

Here she is in a deep, deep sleep.

She used to fit under the bathroom vanity, but those
days are long gone.