Sunday, August 31, 2014

Adjusting to a Full Time Routine: From Student to Employee


If you're one of my dear readers who've been following this blog, you may have noticed that it's been feeling like a ghost town lately. But don't worry--I'm still around, just taking a bit longer to finish reading novels for review. But I do aim to post more frequently, if not about books, then about life and other reflections. If anything, this blog will take a more personal turn, but I will still be reading and reviewing books.

One of the biggest life changes that I've been going through is transitioning from being a student for most of my life to full time employment. Right now, it's a bit beyond full time since I'm working six days a week. Alongside the job, I spend my day off writing an article or two for a college publication. Feel free to come visit me at CollegeNews anytime!

Shifting from Full Time School to Full Time Work:

  • Regular Schedule; Better Time Management Skills -- I wake up and go to sleep at around the same time each day, something that I never quite mastered as a student. A regular routine has many benefits, but the biggest one is that it makes it a lot easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have a gym routine, and I eat at around the same time each day.
  • No More Fat Finals Week -- I gained so much weight studying for finals. The stress would cause me to eat tons of unhealthy snacks. Even the guy at 7-Eleven recognized me as I stumbled into the store in my pajamas and a blanket on a regular basis towards the end of every school quarter. "Finals?" he'd ask. He'd be right every time.
  • Gratitude for My Parents -- I wasn't able to appreciate all the sacrifices my parents did for me until I started working full time myself. They were able to push through all the problems at work, the long, monotonous hours, and occasionally, work drama and come home to take care of me and my siblings by cooking, helping us with homework, playing with us, etc. 
  • Less Leisure Time -- As a student, I was used to having lots of time to dabble in hobbies and hang out with my husband, family, and friends. Even with a full schedule of classes, I had lots of time in between classes to sketch and write for fun. Now most of my days have an 8-hour block set aside for work (9.5-hour block if we take into account my waking-up and driving to and back from work). In a 24-hour day, this leaves me with about 6.5 hours before bedtime, and currently, I'm spending these hours with my husband.
    Now I have the funds to buy all those art supplies that I drooled over as a student, but I don't have the time to commit to art. I'm becoming more picky about which hobbies I want to commit to, instead of dabbling in a million little hobbies.
  • Feeling Old; Nostalgia for Teenagehood -- Sometimes I go to my old favorite teenage haunts and I get a bit wistful for all the adventures I had there with my friends. How did I ever have so much time on my hands? 
  • I Enjoy Each Moment to the Max -- Whether it's reading a magazine while propped on my tummy on the bed or just doing stretches in the room, I relish the moment and the little bit of time I get to relax. 

Reality Shock; Feelings of Future Closing In

This might not be something that most people can relate to, or maybe they can. In my early twenties, I felt like I had my entire life ahead of me--world and future both included in one shiny package. I felt that I could become anything I wanted, although the issue of balancing between passion and practicality was always there. As I went through school, I started to realize the limitations of my abilities, and so certain options didn't play out well enough for me to continue pursuing them.

Now I'm dealing with the question of Okay, I've got a degree in literature and writing. What can I do with it? I went to college for a total of about 6 years, and the result is a B.A. degree. Where do I go from here? A part of me is reluctant to go for more schooling because I already spent so much time in school. That part wants me to suck it up, make the most out of my degree, and see what I can get with it. The other part wants to maximize my potential with...you guessed it, more school! But is the investment worth it?

Photo Credit: HD Wall Source

Conclusion

Life tends to be a lot more open-ended than the genre novel, and having a Conclusion seems to be oddly inappropriate at this uncertain stage in my life, but I have a horrible addiction to closure. These are some things that I've been thinking about lately, and chances are that I will still be trying to figure them out in a few months. In the meantime, I plan to live simply and appreciate all the wonderful friends and family in my life. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8/4/2014)

This awesome meme is hosted by Sheila of BookJourney. 

I finally finished reading a book that I had put down on a break while I was still in college. Aside from that, with a full-time job, I have less time for hobbies, so I have to decide on which ones I want to keep. Ultimately, one of my biggest goals is to write a novel, even if it sucks. Then I'll write another one.

My husband and I have been watching an anime called Attack on Titan in the evenings, which is amazingly done. The concepts of the 3D Maneuvering Devices and the titans are well-executed. I thought the idea of human-eating giants was a bit silly at first, but then the insight into the human condition that the film makes so fluidly sucked me in. I'm stunned by how well-paced and cerebral this series is. 

What I Finished This Week:


Road of the Patriarch by R.A. Salvatore

There is an entire fan community devoted to this adventurous duo of a flamboyant dark elf and a hard-hearted human assassin. I put some examples of fan art in my review of this book here

What I'm Reading:


Bentwhistle the Dragon: A Threat from the Past
by Paul Cude

I took a break from this book to read Road of the Patriarch, but now I'm coming back to it. 

****

Thanks for reading! Hope your week went well!

ROAD OF THE PATRIARCH by R.A. Salvatore


Road of the Patriarch 
(Sellswords Trilogy #3)
by R.A. Salvatore

Pairing an intense, usually objective-driven character with a flamboyant, slightly reckless character leads to a lot of adventures that wouldn't otherwise happen, especially on the part of Artemis Entreri. I was intrigued by his character when he appeared in the Drizzt series as the noble dark elf's relentless adversary. What else was there to his character, I wondered. I was curious about the sort of past that would create a lone individual who prefers to identify himself with his weapon skills than other attributes. 

I'm not the only Artemis fangirl.
Credit: Yoski

Among the books in The Sellswords trilogy, this one is the juiciest in terms of getting to know Entreri's past. The novel begins with a teaser into his childhood but it doesn't resurface until the latter half of the novel. The first half focuses more on Jarlaxle's imperialistic antics, which drive the story forward but feel a bit pointless and cumbersome in Road of the Patriarch. Despite all the action scenes during Gareth's invasion of Entreri's "castle", I was actually pretty bored with this part and didn't really see how it was necessary, aside from Jarlaxle's pet project getting them kicked out of the land. However, it was cool to see Entreri face off against the well-intentioned King Gareth in a philosophical debate about righteous claims to kinghood. 

Entreri's decision to pursue his "ghosts" is an impulsive decision, influenced by the magical flute that Jarlaxle encourages him to play. My issue with the magical flute is that it's an obvious plot device to inject character development into a character that's tough as a rock. It felt a bit too artificial and easy, and I felt that since the catalyst for Entreri's emotional growth was a physical objected, the effects would only last so long before it was either taken away from him or smashed. 

I can understand the benefits of having a static character, and it looks like Salvatore wanted to keep Entreri from becoming a completely different person. A lot of readers like the character for the way he is--ruthless, smart, and with a potential for tenderness buried somewhere within. And granted, he's in his forties--by now, his personality and life views are set firmly as opposed to the way it'd be for a youth unsure of his role in the world. 


In the latter half of the novel, we get to see a closeup of Memnon, the town that Artemis grew up in. The descriptions of the unchanging state of poverty and ignorance in the town created a vivid image in my mind, as well as a sense of indignation at the religious cleric who exploited these qualities of the poor to take their gold in return for "prayers". The closure that Entreri pursued in his hometown ended in a satisfactory way for me. 


Ultimately, I thought this was a great conclusion to the trilogy. The imperialistic ventures into Gareth's realm weren't the most interesting to me because none of the minor characters were that eye catching besides Gareth and his moral dilemma. Jarlaxle's manipulative schemes make things a lot more interesting (and occasionally infuriatingly complicated) than they would be with Entreri's tendency to pursue objectives directly. I loved the exploration of Entreri's past and getting to know what he hides from. Jarlaxle and Entreri cross roads (separately) in R.A. Salvatore's newer series, the Neverwinter Saga

My rating:


Road of the Patriarch 
(Sellswords Trilogy #3)
by R.A. Salvatore
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