Musings

Easier to Follow!

I am one of those people who is constantly starved for time.  I want more time to read, more time to sleep, more time to relax and I end up skipping out on things that don’t feel efficient.  I figured this was doubly true for anybody who would read the blog so I have compiled a list of other places you can follow the blog to make getting content a little bit easier.  You can follow on whatever site you find yourself spending the most time with.

Follow the blog with Bloglovin

Follow the blog with Pinterest

Follow the blog with Tumblr

Follow the blog with Facebook

Follow the blog with Twitter

Follow the blog with Instagram

I hope this helps all of you on the go folks get the content you want.  I know that I definitely love having my content all in one place.  It means that I can scroll through Bloglovin on my break at work and everything is right in one place for me.

I know this isn’t exactly the best content I could throw out there for you, but one of the goals I have been trying to meet within my own life is to stay on top of housekeeping type content.  I need to make sure that I am consistently updating my social media, and staying on top of my schedule, adding videos to the appropriate posts, and all of the behind the scenes things that you don’t necessarily need to be made aware of constantly but that helps my own stress levels and helps you guys in smaller hidden ways.

Hopefully this post is helpful even if not completely full of content, I will talk to you again on Friday with an ARC review that I read forever ago, but couldn’t really talk about until now.

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Books, Children, Musings

Ch-ch-changes! a.k.a. Who I Am and Why I’m Doing This

Those of you who have been following the blog for a while, or have a keen eye for dates, will note that it has been a little bit over half a year since I actively posted new content on the blog.  This was in part due to the constant onslaught of huge life altering changes I was going through at the time, and partially due to a feeling that blogging was my way of shouting into a void… and that was no longer comforting… quite the opposite in fact, rather disconcerting.  I shifted most my attention to the booktube channel that Gretchen and I started a year and a half ago and that is still going strong!

So, why come back?

Some of you might know that in October I became the Kid’s Lead at my local Barnes and Noble.  At the time I was just glad I had a full time position and could support myself again.  I didn’t realize that making the decision to work in that department would bring me some of the worst stress I have ever experienced, as well as some of the most rewarding moments I have yet to enjoy in my life.

If you talk to anyone who has worked as Kid’s Lead you will most likely hear that it is a thankless job.  Which is partially true.  Thankless on behalf of your management staff and possibly your coworkers, but by no means thankless when it comes to the customers… for the most part.

Yes, I did spend most of my day cleaning up after negligent parents who let their kids tear open toys (rather than say something squirrel them away among the picture books or under a chair as if that fixes things) or stacks upon stacks of books placed in the wrong spot, left on tables or counters, spills, leaks, broken shelves, broken displays and really that is just the tip of the ice berg.

However, I had way more meaningful interactions with teachers, parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, relatives, family friends, and the kids themselves filled with gratitude for the time I put into helping them.  Which is what I loved.  I was often accused of being too task focused (building displays and ignoring customers) when the reality of the situation was, that I felt obliged to build the displays because there was a deadline hanging over my head.  If I didn’t finish it by the deadline I would lose my job.  I wasn’t actively avoiding the customers but I was trying to juggle too many balls and pretend like it was cool.

The Kid’s Lead is in charge not only of a majority of the selling in the kids department but the construction and maintenance of  all displays (tables, endcaps, you name it) the selling of the Barnes and Noble kid’s club cards which save parents money on kids book through rebates after a certain amount has been spent in store.  The selling of what is called a PWP or Promo with Purchase (I’m sure you’ve seen the Get this picture book for just 7.99 with the purchase of any other kids book).  Shelving the new product that comes in on a daily basis as well as  the back stock that is coming to replace the product that has already been sold.  Along with covering breaks around the store, and helping whenever someone else in the store needs an extra set of hands.

It is hard to find a balance where you can do all of that well and still dedicate the time necessary to the customers who are brimming with excellent questions.

I’m not complaining.  I liked the challenge.  I liked doing all that, and though it took me five months I finally got a handle on all of it.  Was able to schedule  myself and manage my time in a way that worked.  Not only that  but my department was flourishing.  We were doing better than our sales the year previously (which anyone who has ever worked in retail knows is the only thing Store Managers really care about).  I had regulars coming to the events we held like weekly story time.  I was implementing new displays and new product that my community had been asking for but the company hadn’t quite gotten around to seeing that it was worthwhile to stock yet (or were willfully ignoring).

Then I was told that the very decisions that were making the store money and that I had spent months planning, researching, working on with my direct supervisors and my team were in fact counter productive, wasting company time and money, creating a unique atmosphere in an environment that should be the same no matter which store you walked into around the country by the one person who technically holds all the power.  Something inside me snapped.

I fought back for what I knew was right.  I expected to be fired on the spot.  Little did I know that a week later I would be resigning.

Again, I loved my job, no matter how many times I broke down in a panic attack crying hysterically unable to breath or speak or be.  No matter how many times I was told that I wasn’t good enough.

I knew that the truth was they weren’t good enough for me.  They were expecting the work of three people from one person.  They were expecting miracles and when I was getting those miracles to happen they got upset that they weren’t the ones to come up with those ideas.  It is easy to blame failure on someone who is struggling and when working with three of your limbs tied behind your back it felt impossible.  I was replaceable in a way, the requirements to be hired with my job were low although the reality of the job is near impossible.  On top of all that, rather than support from the upper management as a person who is doing more than necessary and achieving the impossible. you get jealousy thrown in your face and told to tear all of your work down.

I didn’t need to live with that.

I didn’t need to spend so much money on books that I needed to read in order to talk to kids and parents about them.

I didn’t need to spend my free time at home cutting out handmade snowflakes to decorate my section for Christmas or come in two hours early or stay three hours late to build a Mailbox out of wrapping paper and cardboard that looked like it was headed straight to the North Pole for our Polar Express event.  I was going above and beyond and it was killing me.  They didn’t deserve it.

I loved what I was doing, since I couldn’t do it there without actually collapsing into a pile of mush I’m going to try and bring it here.

I’m going to use this blog to try and create a resource for the community I was forced to leave, as well as anyone else around the interwebs who might need it.

I’m going to try and give recommendations, explain certain quirks about the industry, and bridge the gap between parents and educators whenever possible.

If you would like to help me in this please feel free to email me: thepiedpipercalls@gmail.com

If you have questions or concerns or just want general bookish recommendations tailored to you, also feel free to email me or leave comments.  Tweet.  Whatever it takes.  I want to help and you deserve to get it.  Whether I get paid for it or not.

I am here for you, when nobody else would defend you.  I stood up.  I’m taking the fight to the streets as it were.

I hope you are excited.  I haven’t been this excited about something in so long.  I’m ready.

The first step for me is to post some of the content that has been on the youtube channel that pertains to kids stuff that hasn’t migrated over here.  I will be staggering that in over the next few months with new posts and ideas as well.

I hope I can be of service to you in some way or another.

Best Regards,

Michaela

p.s. (I made a video explaining in more detail what happened if you care to know the main point of this was to explain the shift in content and sudden reappearance)

Musings

Sometimes I’m a Slacker but sometimes my slacking is mostly just in cross promoting.

So we know I haven’t been posting here super consistently… still trying to get back in the swing of things.  I swear to god I can do the thing.  I did it for five months, posting almost every day.  Depression and anxiety can wreck a person I tell you.  I did however have consistant content elsewhere that needs to migrate over here.

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In order to get myself back into the habit of blogging I am going to try and post something every day in September.  Will I succeed?  YES.  (I figure if I’m optimistic I might actually finish something I start.)  Will it all by mind blowing content… of course not.  I might choose to do something silly once … or twice. The goal is just to get myself used to doing this every day again.  To talking with you guys because I do miss it.  I just kind of panic and feel guilty.

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NO MORE!

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Starting today … oh wait its still August for a few more days.  Starting …. THURSDAY!  I will have a post for you every day, even Sunday.  You know what … what the heck STARTING TODAY!  I got no reason not to start today.  You guys ready for all of the content?  Well too bad because its coming.

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I need to put on my big girl pants and crack on.  Here we go!

P.S. I like the acronym B.E.D.S. for Blog Every Day in September because it feels safe and cozy.  What do you think?

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Musings

Mon-Thursday Musings: Moving on Up!

By that, I mean I’m moving out of my parents house.  Is it too soon? Probably.  Am I doing it anyway?  Hell yeah, I am.

Why, Michaela.  You have oodles of student loan debt, why would you do the thing you are about to do.

Well, friends, because I am incredibly fortunate to have found a super awesome stable job right out of school with above average pay for entrance level.  I have a piano teacher who has loved me since I was little who happens to own two properties and is completely willing to let me stay at one of them rent free, just paying utilities.

I have the opportunity to go out on my own, and learn how to adult, without having no money for food.  I will still be handing over weeks worth of pay to pay for my schooling, but I won’t be completely without some wiggle room with my funds.

So yes.  I am taking the plunge.

This is probably part of the reason why it is so difficult for me to get books read right now.  All of my brain power is going toward how to best save money to plan for bills and which family members are giving me their reject furniture and how long has that jar of pickles been sitting in that fridge for.

So I apologize on the somewhat lax content on the blog as of late.  Hopefully I will  have all of the creative juices flowing when I am all settled in.  There sure are plenty of spaces to film.  I don’t have to hide myself away in my bedroom. (Plus there is a super awesome library and that makes for good filming backgrounds I think).

Well, this was a bit late this week, but better late than never right?

I will be back tomorrow to talk about some book stuff, not sure what it is yet… probably a problem. :/ hmmm.

Musings

Mini Hiatus Announcement

I’m sure you guys have been floored by my ability to maintain posting so far this year at least once a week, generally four or five times a week, even up to every single day.  However, that is about to change.

Although only for a week.  Gretchen and I have decided that starting the 16th and until the 24th we will be on hiatus.

If you want to hear more we filmed a video announcement as well, although that is pretty much the gist of it.  I’m going on vacation and there are a number of events going on at the college that Gretchen is participating or volunteering at and this is on top of her hard core work schedule and writing her thesis.  The girl is cray.

 

In any case we have a few more posts to finish up this week and then it will be going dark.  Anything I get done this week will be scheduled for the future so don’t worry we will be back and perhaps even better than ever… perhaps just the same old, same old.

Musings

Monday Musing: My Anxiety Story

If you have been following me for a while you know that I have been struggling with anxiety for most of my life, but when I went to college it got so out of hand I couldn’t even go to the grocery store by myself to feed myself.

I was diagnosed officially last year with chronic anxiety and acute social anxiety (as well as ADD which can feed the other two anxieties and exacerbate them).  Several months later I started taking anti-anxiety medication and that honestly has changed my life.

I know there is a stigma around mental health in general but especially on medicating as a form of treatment for mental health.  There are people who will say that it doesn’t actually fix the problem, its just a crutch, it doesn’t help you in the long run, etc.  I have to say that honestly I felt that way for a while.  I didn’t begrudge anyone who felt they needed it but I didn’t think I needed it.

That was of course before my anxiety actually affected my life and my ability to sustain myself.  When I was living at home and in high school I could hide away in my room.  I only had to go out for school and even while there I didn’t really have to interact with anyone.  I could stick my nose in a book, even during class, and nobody would bother me because I got good grades and wasn’t distracting anyone, plus it wasn’t like I was texting.

However, when I went to college and had to start doing things for myself I couldn’t.  My anxiety would make me so ill I would actually vomit while trying to get out the door to go to class where I would have to speak.  If I needed groceries I would put it off to the very last minute and even then I would sit in my car in the parking lot sipping some tea while I waited for what I percieved as a good time to go in (which generally meant it seemed relatively quiet… it never was).

I couldn’t ignore it any more.

My life was falling apart around me and that just made it all the worse.

When I got the medication I needed I started to feel better instantly.  I could spend time outside of my room.  I could go to social functions where there was going to be a relatively large crowd.  I could go on a road trip by myself to a place I had never been before.  These were all things that I absolutely could not do without it.

Do I still have to push myself?  Yes, of course.

The medication doesn’t solve the issue it just helps manage the chemical imbalance in my brain that tells me everything and everyone is out to get me.  People seem to forget that humans are a walking talking bunch of chemicals moving around.  If those get out of wack the brain and the body stops functioning.  I do still have to push myself to go places, but at least I know I won’t have a panic attack unless things get REALLY bad.  I can handle it.  I just have to take it one step at a time.

If you are in a place where everything is terrifying and you can’t do anything but curl up in bed and wait for it to stop (which it never does) then please go talk to your doctor.  They can get you the help you need.  It isn’t shameful.  It is just a fact of life.

A year ago I couldn’t comment on youtube videos let alone make my own (on my own that is… book club was fine simply because it was just me hanging out with my friends).  I have started doing something that I wanted to do for so long and I have been able to keep up with my blog.  I have been able to read like I used to.  I am so much happier and living a much fuller life that I would never have without it.  Its worth it.  You are worth it.

Musings

Friday Musing? What It’s Like Working in a Library!

Since I’ve been working over time to fill in for Gretchen on YouTube I haven’t done a chatty Monday Musing in two weeks and have put a butt ton of book videos out on here so I’m gonna take a little break today and just talk with you guys a little bit.

I have finished my first week at my new job as a library assistant!  It was a little hectic and its still weird thinking about the fact that I have a set schedule and guaranteed income.  I have had set schedules at school but part time work doesn’t feel the same.  I didn’t realize how impermanent it felt to work a part time job until I started working at the library.  I mean I have my own desk for goodness sake.  I have never had my own desk.  What do I put in a desk guys?

In any case, my freaking out about being a real adult and stuff aside.  I wanted to talk about what it has been like for me.  I want to start off by saying that everyone is lovely.  All of my coworkers have been extremely patient and eager to help me.  The people who come in have all been very kind and patient with me as well.  It is definitely a community space, as a library should be.

I am in the circulation department so I am generally checking in and checking out books.  We are also in charge of the delivery.  All of the books that people have holds on coming in from other libraries or the books we had sent out that are being returned, as well as pulling those that need to go other places and getting them ready to go out as well.

I think the hardest part for me was memorizing all of the little things.  The certain way to do things to make sure that things go to the right places and don’t get lost.  I think that eventually it will be second nature for me, but I will continue to work on that.  I have a handful of little projects that I am in charge of as well.  The one I have been working on the most is the staff picks.

One of the highlights of this week was checking someone out and seeing that they had picked up one of the books I suggested.  It is weird to think about the fact that someone would take my word on books, even though part of what I do here is recommend things for you guys to read.  It is different than actually seeing someone pick that book up.

In the future I will also be in charge of the social media for the library but they wanted me to get a handle on the main part of my job before I started multitasking, which is fair, but that is one of the things I am most excited about.  Right now their online presence is minimal at best and I think that doing more with that might help increase the libraries overall use.

Not a lot of young people come in, and by that I don’t mean children because there are definitely a lot of little tykes, I means teens and young adults.  I think that a lot of people now a days don’t actually realize how much a library offers aside from books.  I might talk about this a little more at a later date, seeing as I am going to be working there for several years at least.  No hurry.

I hope you didn’t mind this little bit of a chatty Friday post.  I will be back tomorrow actually because we have an imbibliomancy episode happening.  Those happen live so if you want to join us we will be discussing Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.  You should definitely come and hang out with us.

Musings

#girlgamer: What I’ve been Playing

So some of you might know that I play games and have since I was little.  When I was very young it was mostly hand held games like Pokemon but when I got my first real console the PlayStation 2 I was so ecstatic.

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I also played games on my computer and now I have my PS4 and one really shit laptop when it comes to gaming, its great for other things though so I can’t be too mad.

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That PS4 has a lot of the games I’ve been obsessed with lately.  Bloodborne being the most addicting for me.  It is also the most frustrating.  I think I have been stuck on the same two bosses for months (to be fair I haven’t played anything all that much in those months because I was reading again!).  The thing that initially drew me to Bloodborne was the world design.  You are running around this weird decrepit and twisted Victorian setting.  Everyone roaming the streets is in the process of turning into some form of beasts.  There are a few people who are still lucid and will talk to you through doors, but most just want you to leave.  There is barely any story to the game which is confusing to me because I often need a really good story to keep motivated.  One of the reasons I don’t play multiplayer games very often is that I get bored with the repetition without a story.  Yet I’m able to stay engaged with this game.  Perhaps its the challenge.  Perhaps its the mystery.  I’m not sure but I do enjoy it very much and I would recommend playing it if you ever get the chance.

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On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Stardew Valley came out on steam and I’m in love with that.  I loved Harvest Moon for the Gamecube when I was growing up.  I have fond memories of lying on a giant bean bag chair with Batman the Animated Series or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on in the background as I ran around giving people random trash I found on the ground on a tiny little box tv/vhs player combo.  Am I dating myself here?  #90skid?  My friend laughed at me when I streamed it because I had unintentionally been playing hard mode.  I had spent a whole year of farming without increasing my backpacks capacity or upgrading any of my tools.  I was too busy doing all of the things you can do in this game.  Its as if Harvest Moon had a baby and it is brilliant.  You can make friends, you can farm, you can even go on dungeon crawls and fight monsters.  The only fault I can see is that the mechanics for fishing is the actual worst. If you are the type of person who wants a chill simulator game this is probably more your speed.

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I’m sorry this was a bit of a rushed post, I’ve been behind all week.  Dealing with stuff and I got sick on Thursday and the whole day was a wash pretty much.  I will be posting the last couple posts I’m behind on throughout the day today though and hopefully next week will be a bit better.  I have Sunday off so I will be able to pre-write a bunch of posts instead of trying to run to catch up for you guys.  I might just have to write this week off as a bust for now. :/

Musings

I GOT A JOB!

Now some of you might be saying, of course Michaela you have been going on and on about how sore your wallet is from getting a job at Barnes and Noble.

To which I say, this is true but I now have two jobs, and one of those is a real deal full time adult job.

The new job?  Library Circulation Assistant~

I will be working in a library.  You cannot comprehend how excited I am about that!

This is actually part of the reason that this post is a day late.  I am dealing with some personal issues at the moment but I went in yesterday to actually finalize a bunch of things for the library job.  All of the long boring paper work.

I still have to go in and get a drug test because I will be employed by the city and therefor I need to not have drugs in my system (laughs for days, I dont do drugs and haven’t even had a contact high … like … I have no idea what high feels like. I haven’t even been drunk really … tipsy, sure but drunk? psssshhhh).

I start there on the 21st and there is a slight chance that my blog stuff will slow down, (because even with my part time job at Barnes and Noble that I still have btw I will have like no days off) but I am going to make an effort not to drop of the face of the earth and Gretchen is gonna keep me on point for that.

So, I thought I would update you guys about that.

Also, reminders for upcoming things.

We had to push back the #imbibliomancy on Station Eleven back a week or two so you have time to read that now if you haven’t already and join us for the discussion.

Gretchen and I will also have another live discussion video coming up, we haven’t decided the theme yet but that will be happening on a Tuesday afternoon toward the end of the month!

Adult, Books, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

February Wrap Up

Big things happened in February!  I got a job, I started said job, I immediately realized how little free time I had.  One of my goals for March is to figure out how to organize my free time so that I can keep up with my reading without dying from stress.  I also started gympocalypse which is basically going to gym Monday through Friday with my ex-cheer-captain best friend back home.  I was not a cheerleader I was in the Art Honor Society.  I drew pretty pictures.  This might kill me.  It also has contributed to how tired I am each night.  Hopefully I will equalize and do better at this pace.

You didn’t come here to hear about my life, you came here to learn what books I read and how I’m doing on my reading challenges.

First things first, books.

187128861The first book I read this month was actually the #imbibliomancy pick!  If you haven’t watched our book club discuss this one while drunk you should definitely go do that asap.  It was hilarious, plus we had the special guest of Taylor’s totally British girlfriend.  Classing the show up just by having her there.  It was also nice to know that she does actually exist and wasn’t photoshopped into his pictures from Scotland.

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The next book I read was for a special I wanted to do for lunar new year.  I had been wanting a copy of The Three-Body Problem for a while but was waiting for it to come out in soft cover.  I talked about this book in a video and discussed translation a bit, since that is one of the things I would like to do with my life.  It is one of my favorite science fiction novels I have read to date and I am excited to pick up the second when I can.

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The third book I read you will be seeing on Friday actually!  It was also translated from Chinese but this one is a collection of stories by a Malaysian author.  I found them all incredibly beautiful and talk about some of the themes that show up in this collection throughout.  I really loved the way that this author was able to build ambiance in such short stories.  They got a bit repetitive for me but I read them all one after the other and they might not be that way if you read them a little slower.

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I followed that up with The Circle by Dave Eggers!  Some dystopian/utopian fiction wherein one company trying to do the right thing actually alienates a large portion of society.  I think that this book got a little preachy sometimes, but was actually really disturbing to read from.  If you like stories about societies not too different from our own that are mildly creepy and discuss a more realistic fall into dystopia then this is definitely one to check out.  I reviewed this one on YouTube so you can hear me talk about it there!
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I followed that up with my YA Bestseller of the year.  I picked this one up from the library and read it and reviewed it on the youtube channel.  In it I discuss a lot about book cover trends and why I feel like ya fantasy is all the same story over and over.  I want a different story guys.  Is that so much to ask?  Not just a new world, a new story.

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The next book I read was actually for a joint review between Gretchen and myself.  I had seen this one making the rounds on booktube and everyone seemed to love it.  For me it wasn’t so amazing, I definitely enjoyed it, but for Gretchen it wasn’t great at all.  If you want to hear us discuss the pros and cons of this novel you should watch that video.  Our next read is Gretchen’s choice and that means it will be YA so look out for that.

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I read some poetry this month guys.  I hardly ever read poetry for myself.  In fact this is only 1 of 2 poetry collections I have bought for myself.  I have some that I used in school, but I picked this one up because I wanted to read it.  I talked about this one before going to the gym because poetry is terrifying and exercising is also terrifying.  So woo, that happened.  I might try and review more poetry as time goes on, but for now this is what I have for you guys and it probably isn’t the best review out there.

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This was followed by an ARC that I was actually reached out by the author to review.  Usually I pick up ARCs that I request from the published but the author of this one found me on tumblr and asked if I would be interested in reading his book.  It was quite short and actually did some new and interesting things with the YA fantasy genre but if you want to know what exactly I really loved about this book you should go read the post here!

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Apparently I was on an ARC kick because after that I read Lions.  This book doesn’t come out until July so there is quite a long wait for the review of this one but it did convince me to pick up her debut novel which I will hopefully be reading and review soon for you guys.  Once this review comes out I also want to do some sort of discussion post where I compare them because her debut is called Lamb and this is Lions and they have to be connected in some way.  I just feel it.

As far as challenges are concerned:

I have now completed 12 of 40 Pop Sugar Challenges.

However, I have only read 5 of my own damn books despite reading

22 of 50 books for the year.

Crazy that I’m almost halfway through my yearly reading challenge with ten more months left in the year.  However, I have started a job and my reading has slowed significantly.  I need to let my body find a new equilibrium before I can catch back up with reading.

There you have it folks, the February wrap up.  I will hopefully have two ARC reviews for you this week, so look forward to those!  Gretchen and I also have new 30 Seconds to Disagree videos coming out tomorrow.

Another month down, on to the next one.