Monthly Look-Back ~ February 2022

february spelled out in scrabble tiles

February is over and somehow…I feel like it was simultaneously a long and short month. So much happened that made it feel like there were more than just 28 days. Even looking back through my bullet journal, I found myself wondering how it was possible not to remember certain things because they already felt so long ago.

Living

It started off with re-painting my room. My mom got into a painting kick this month and decided that after our landlady cleared out the last room, we’d start cleaning and painting. This partially lined up with Chinese New Year traditions of deep cleaning the house in general, but we took it a step further by painting the metal gate to our apartment and all the window grills that faced the common hallway. After that, we bought white paint for the walls and I spent three days finally covering up that awful green.

The paint job isn’t the best, I’ll admit that, but it looks so much better than it used to. The space feels brighter, my photos look better, and it feels more fitting for someone my age. Three days of painting left me with a sore shoulder and proof that I needed to work out more. Once it was all dry, my parents and I took my old desk out and moved it into the living room for my dad. We also rearranged the entire living room because why not?

My IKEA furniture was magically in stock for a brief period of time, so I quickly ordered it all. Of the 5 items that came, one was unfortunately broken. As of writing this, the replacement hasn’t been delivered yet due to a mistake for my contact information and the new timeslot for pickup will be on Saturday. Hopefully my new unit will be delivered that day as well or it’ll be more waiting for me.

Everything else was perfect though, and I’ve been happily living with my new furniture and room layout for the past two weeks. It feels like more than two weeks with how quickly I got used to it. There’s so much storage space plus room for me to workout. No more awkward eye contact with the neighbors while doing a weird jumping jack variation!

my new room layout and white walls
my room now


Halfway through the month, I realized that I’ve been playing Wordle on the wrong website. Somehow, I had found a version that wasn’t hosted on the NY Times website and been playing that for weeks. I’m playing the correct version now and tweeting my thoughts on each success or failure along with my Taylordle results.

I also have a social life now? I was invited to a hangout that involved sports (yeah, I said yes to sports) and met several of the youth from my church. It was a bit weird arriving and realizing that I was 4-6 years older than the kids, being closer to the age of the adults who were running the hangout. It was still fun though. I learned to play spikeball, met a fellow dancer, and got to hear a long list of names that I’ve tried very hard to remember.

At the end of the month, I finally went to a LifeGroup meeting where I was around more people closer to my age. It was fun to spend more time with some of the people I’d met only briefly at church or the hangout I went to last month. The person I know best (apart from my parents) at church also attends this LifeGroup so I had someone to turn to when I felt awkward.

Some of it reminded me of being at my old youth group, particularly when the guitar was whipped out and everyone started singing after we finished our discussions. I don’t know yet which group I’m likely to be parked with on a more regular basis. It’s likely that I’ll be visiting the other group depending on what gets planned, but at least I’m participating in social activity again.

Even if I did wake up the following morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck cause it’s been so long since I’ve been around people like that.

Reading

Number of books: 3
Number of hours read: 13hrs 19mins
Number of pages read: 1,187

Guys, you might not believe it but I’m getting closer to catching up with my reviews!

Reading wise, it was a slower month for me. I had (over)ambitiously planned 6 books because I always do this. Some part of my brain always thinks I can fly through books much faster than I actually do. Maybe it’s the memory of how quickly I used to read or just a subtle way of pressuring myself to stop spending so much time on YouTube.

Either way, I had 6 books on the list, read 2 that were planned and threw the rest of my TBR away to get to my final book.

#1 of the month – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
YA Contemporary ~ Audiobook

cover of "to all the boys i've loved before"I’ve owned this book for so long that it’s literally crossed the ocean with me. Twice. I bought it back when the movie was still in the talks and didn’t read it until after all the movies had come out. As I needed something to listen to while organizing stuff around my room, I downloaded the audiobook and flew through this. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this and how quickly I went to download the sequels.

 

#2 of the month – Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
YA Contemporary Mystery ~ e-ARC

book cover of "portrait of a thief"My friend from Bookstagram, Dawn, posted about getting an Advanced Reader Copy of this and I immediately asked her how she managed that. Thankfully, she let me in on the secret and helped me get a copy that I immediately started. Heists, attractive characters, discussion of Chinese diaspora – what more could I ask for?

 

 

#3 of the month – Gallant by V.E. Schwab
Fantasy ~ e-ARC

book cover of "gallant"A dream of mine has always been to get an ARC of a V.E. Schwab book and that finally came true! My request was granted and I did everything I could to squeeze it in before the month ended and it came out on March 1, 2022. Like all other V.E. Schwab books I’ve read, I love this and can’t wait to hold the physical copy in my hand.

 


Other than books, I was also catching up with I Love Yoo, one of my favorite WebToons. It went on a long hiatus and came back while I was dealing with my move back to Singapore. After many nights of staying up way too late and creating a mental list of reasons why I shipped a particular couple, I’m finally up to date. There’s a story arc currently being released that I haven’t started because I want to binge it all. The moment that last chapter of the arc is available for Fast-Passing, I’m reading it all and throwing my coins at the comic.

I’ve started a few other WebToons in the meantime. Most of them are Daily Pass series, which is a bit frustrating, but I’m managing with a chapter a day. GremoryLand is my favorite new discovery and I wish I had gotten to it back before it became a Daily Pass series. I would have binged the whole thing in a day and probably gone back to re-read it again. Love and Leashes is surprisingly wholesome despite being based around a BDSM kink. I’m also using the Daily Passes to catch up with the final season of My Dear Cold-Blooded King. Lastly, I started #Killstagram, a normal series that I think has been on hiatus for a little over a year now. No idea if it’s coming back, but I’ve at least enjoyed the chapters I’ve read so far.

Writing

Blog words written: 14,890
Novel words written: 0

That writing tracker that I mentioned last month? I forgot about it again and decided not to set it up after all. Scrivener already tracks all the writing I do each day. It’s not as details as tracking each writing session (or maybe I don’t know how to access that feature yet), but it tells me how much I write each month and that’s good enough for me.

My numbers for the blog are much higher this month since I’ve made a real effort to be more consistent about blogging. More on that later, but it’s been good for me to see higher numbers. It tells me that I can easily do that for my novels if I really put my mind to it.

Also, I’ve discovered that blog posts are recommended to be at least 800 words. That’s good news for me. No more holding back of the rambles, you guys are getting all of the words my brain thinks up.

Watching

YouTube: At this point, I’m not sure why I have a Watch Later list when I barely touch it. I really should go into it and clear out more of the videos since I do have a genuine interest in them. But each time I open the website, I find myself watching other things and not clearing the backlog. The good thing is that I haven’t added anything to the list in awhile, opting to just watch the videos when they get posted instead.

Or I’ll just go through and binge from a single creator to catch up on all the stuff I missed.

Keeping in theme with last month, I started off with more room makeover videos while I waiting for my furniture and painted my room. That stopped once I got my stuff, but it was all over my Watch History in the first week of February.

Originally, I thought I had binged more Theorist content but it turns out that I actually went through a lot of videos about Instagram engagement and algorithms. Makes sense seeing as I’m always questioning why the platform decides to be so difficult. Thankfully, all the videos I watched taught me something and I’ve noticed small differences in my content over the past few weeks.

Movies: While at my aunt’s house for Chinese New Year dinner one evening, we put Bride Wars on Netflix and watched it together. It’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, but I think it’s one of the few romcoms I genuinely enjoy.

I saw bits and pieces of The Good Liar with my mom while I was working on stuff in my room. It consisted of a lot of me popping out to watch for five minutes while my mom yelled plot developments when I was in my room. Not the recommended way to watch a movie, but it worked. I enjoyed it enough from that experience and would probably watch it again (this time in full).

Shows: At my other aunt’s house, my cousins had started All of Us Are Dead, the zombie K-drama that everyone seems to love. I saw several of the episodes because they were playing but honestly, it didn’t really catch my attention. The acting is great, but I’m not a fan of zombies and that made it hard to get invested.

I had two episodes left in my re-watch of Sex Education Season 3 so I finished that up one day while organizing my room and putting things away. The show never fails to amaze me with how well they write their characters and how much they pack into each episode.

Mostly, I’ve been plowing through my re-watch of Bakuman. It used to be a thing that I re-watched it each year but that got lost in the midst of everything that happened last year. The anime is a great source of encouragement as a writer. I relate to how badly the main characters want their dreams to come true. The past week of flying through episodes has made me feel like drafting again, and I’ll happily keep re-watching the show if it does that for me.

Listening

Podcasts: As per usual, episodes of My Favorite Murder get played as I wind down and go to bed. I’ve made more progress in getting caught up with the backlog of episodes. Sometimes I forget that taking a few months off from listening to them can easily result in 20-30 episodes because they release content twice a week.

Season 2 of Sounds Like A Cult has started so I’ve also been listening to that. Mostly while I’m washing my hair or when I’m puttering around my room. It seriously never fails to make me think about how I interact with the communities I’m part of and where my behavior falls on the spectrum of being cult-like.

Music: Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of music listening this month either. I know my swiftie playlist got me through several hours of painting my walls, but I haven’t really put on a lot of music this month. Most of the audio that plays either comes from YouTube or Bakuman. Sometimes I wish that Spotify would let me see more of my Play History so I could see if anything other than Taylor Swift has made it into my rotation.

Posting

YouTube: No posting, but I have filmed the process of changing my room. The room and the video aren’t complete yet, and who knows when I’ll get around to editing. No pressure on myself though, I like that I don’t really have to think about this platform anymore because coming up with content for it was often more stressful that helpful.

Blog: I decided to try a content calendar again in February. I’ve had them before, writing out posts on my whiteboard calendar or using Notion to track things. But none of it really worked. Not in the sense that it made me want to write.

Since I was so tired of being behind on my reviews, I came up with a schedule to fix that. It worked perfectly so that I was alternating regular blog posts with reviews. Putting that together and I had a full month of blog posts.

Reviews were the easy ones to write, allowing me to knock out a few at a time. With more time to write my longer posts, I was able to finally work on some ideas that had been accumulating for months. Below is a list of every post that went up in February.

I think my favorite posts were my Taylor Swift list, my review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and all the qualities I want because of fictional guys. They were fun to write and reminded me what it was like to blog regularly again.

At this rate, I have enough of a review backlog that I can sustain three blog posts a week for March as well. Once I catch up, I’ll have to figure out how to keep up with this level of blogging. I like having this number of posts a week and it keeps me from getting too rusty with my writing. Coming up with enough ideas is the thing I have to be conscious of.

my march content calendar
march content calendar with blurred sticky tabs


IG:
After last month’s weird rollercoaster of engagement and reach, I think I’ve leveled out a bit more. All those videos I watched about understanding engagement and SEO and algorithm changes did help. An experiment of posting in the morning also showed me that I end up reaching more people over time. The time zones work out nicely for that and I’ve seen a slight uptick in likes because of that.

I posted 5 Reels in February, most of which did quite well by my standards. Nothing quite like the success of last month’s little viral moment, but enough that I don’t entirely hate Reels. It’s still hard for me to come up with ideas. I don’t know how other people do it, but I struggle to even get 2 or 3 good ideas in a single month.

Sometimes I wonder if I should just make Reels about absolutely random things just to keep the algorithm happy. But if I’m not happy with what I’m making, then is there really a point in creating it?

At least with my new room setup, there’s more options for photography and no green wall to edit out. I’ve had more fun with the variety of photos I can take and I think that’s reflected in my feed. It makes me want to post more and keeps me excited about taking photos in advance so I’m not looking for ideas each day.

That’s a lot of stuff covered, but I really like how I left February. It was a good month filled with a lot of good things. Despite how short it was, compiling all the things that happened makes me realize how much can change in such little time. I started the month being unhappy in my green room and ended it being used to my beautiful white walls.

Even things like socializing more. I may feel exhausted after, but it’s good for me to have friends. Keeps me good at talking to people and reminds me that I can get to know humans that aren’t people I meet online. Sadly, I can’t joke about not having friends anymore, but I suppose that’s for the best.

What do you remember most about February? What was the month like for you? I’d love to hear about it!

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