Monthly Look-Back ~ March 2022

a close-up picture of cherry blossoms

Just like that, we’re somehow done with the first quarter of 2022. The idea of that makes me wonder how time even works. How are we already into the 4th month of the year when it feels like things have barely even begun?

This month felt like it was distinctly split into two halves. Even as I started thinking of things during the last week, there were so many things to think about. It was hard to remember how many things had happened, with each day feeling like it was packed with so much and yet so little. So what exactly did my March look like?

Living

One of the first things that happened was my mom catching La Rona. We still have no idea where she got it from, but she tested positive early in March. She quarantined herself in her office, but for the most part, our lives didn’t change that much. Honestly, we’re not the type to be super concerned with getting infected. Once she felt better, we even relaxed enough that we all hung out in the same space again.

The first half of the month was me getting back into the swing of job hunting and continuing the adjustment of seeing people again at LifeGroup. At this point, I had been to a couple of meetings, but I was still very new to the group. Other people who joined the group changed almost every week. I was getting to know a couple of them, but it was hard to feel like I fit.

Then things changed suddenly. I got a phone call with a job offer and was hired within the week. It happened so quickly that I didn’t really tell anyone about it because I was still processing how quickly it came together.

I started my first day of work on March 21st and it’s been going well so far. Three full weeks of work and I’m enjoying it. There are a lot of emails at the moment, but the work keeps me busy and utilizes a lot of my writing skills. My boss is nice and I like my co-workers too. Plus, I only have to go into the office 2-3 times a week, so it’s nice that I’m not spending a ton on transport and food.

Work did mean that I got my third Close Contact notification of the year. I avoided it all of 2021, but this year as taken a different turn. The fact that I was Close Contacted twice in March alone is almost laughable. Still managed to test negative and at this point I’m determined to avoid so I can say I made it through everything without ever getting infected.

It has been an adjustment though. Even when I’m not in the office, I can feel the effects of being tired from work. Sometimes I just want to stop staring at my laptop screen after the work day is over.

The more I work at this job, the more I’ve been thinking about getting a monitor so I can have more screen space to work with. Right now, there a lot of me switching between screens and tabs, forgetting where I’ve put things. It makes it hard to do certain things. And there are times when my eyes are so tired that my laptop screen just isn’t big enough for me to see things properly.

me with shorter hairThere’s a good chance I’ll do that soon. The monitor I’ve been eyeing isn’t super pricey for being a curved 27” screen, and I’ll spend a little more for a monitor arm as well. That way I have a bit more flexibility with how it fits on my desk. On the rare occasion that I want to watch TV in bed, it’ll also be able to swivel in that direction.

Lastly, as far as changes go, I’ve gotten a haircut. None of my church friends have noticed that I’m missing half my hair, but all my online friends know because I posted about it. Taking off about 7-8 inches was intimidating as usual. I am very attached to my long hair, but the bleached ends were getting really. A fresh cut has made my hair feel so much better. It’s still weird when I run my fingers through my hair and it just ends.

My hope is that having healthier hair will also make it easier to transition my hair to being wavy. Since my long hair was so heavy, I rarely got any wave near the root. Now, there’s the chance for that to actually happen. Oh, and did I mention that I have a hairdryer now? Yeah, it’s great and I’m really happy that I invested in it.

Reading

Number of books: 3
Number of hours read: 17 hrs 12 mins
Number of pages read: 1,308

Surprise, surprise, I had ambitious reading plans again in March. Technically, I did get to a lot of them, but two became DNFs and I started another book that got put on the back burner when work started.

It’s basically unheard of for me to DNF (did not finish) a book. As a person who usually forces herself through books because there’s something to learn from books I dislike too. But not this month.

I put my foot down and told myself it was better to DNF than to unhappily force my way through a book that might lead me into a reading slump. Unfortunately, my DNFs happened back to back and it left me craving something that would actually be interesting.

#1 of the month – Skyhunter by Marie Lu
Sci-fi ~ Hardcover

Marie Lu has been a favorite author of mine for years and she didn’t disappoint with this book. I love the way she writes politics and fight scenes, both of which I got here. It was also the second book I’d read in a row that featured a non-verbal character. This also counted toward a reading challenge I’m doing this year (which I realize I never posted about).

#2 of the month – P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Contemporary ~ Audiobook

After greatly enjoying the first book last year, I wanted to dive into the rest of the trilogy. The audiobooks are great and it saved me the trouble of trying to find matching hardcover editions. I’d already seen the movie, but hearing the original story made me appreciate certain things more. Of course, this gave me much more backstory, which I always enjoy.

#3 of the month – Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Contemporary ~ Audiobook

After DNFing two books in a row, I picked this up because I knew it wouldn’t disappoint. True enough, I flew through this quickly and it prevented me from falling into a reading slump. These books are light and easy to get through. They’re not new favorites, but they hold their place at a solid 4 stars each. I’ll be re-watching the first two movies and finally diving into the third movie sometime in April.


I read the first third of The Love Hypothesis as well, another book from one of my reading challenges. It’s been traveling to the offie with me, but I haven’t truly been picking it up. Work has left me with little desire to read or use my brain. But I do hope to finish it soon.

WebToon wise, I’ve started a ton more. It’s too much to count through because I don’t remember all their names and I’m too lazy to search them up right now. All you really need to know is that I started five or six new series and have been enjoying them a lot. I’ll explain more in a future blog post, but they’ve been a fun way for me to sneak some reading in during lunch breaks without worrying about staining book pages.

Writing

Blog words written: 21,804
Novel words written: 0

The fact that I’ve been trying to make my blog posts longer to hit SEO targets has really boosted my word count. Despite canceling two posts at the end of the month, I managed to write over 20K words just for my blog. Sometimes I surprise myself with how much I can write.

I’d created a tracker for myself as a motivation to work on Project Ceiling Cat, but that didn’t happen. To be honest, I’m not sure what will get me to make draft writing part of my schedule. I’d really like to make it something I do at least a few times a week, but right now that feels too difficult. I admire my friends who manage it while working.

There’s another story idea that I’ve tinkered witha a bit in my mind. Major pieces still need to come together before I can even write it down in a draft document, but I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve also been thinking about Project Ceiling Cat and how I’m struggling with the voice. That was something I noticed during NaNoWriMo last year, I couldn’t pinpoint how my main character needed to react to the main plot.

After re-starting it twice during NaNoWriMo, I still couldn’t figure it out. Maybe I need to call Maggie and talk it out with her because she knows the story better than my other friends. Somehow, the versions I’ve written just don’t feel like they fit.

I’m hoping that figuring that out would make it easier for me to start drafting again. Although it’s alsto entirely possible that I need to start writing first in order to figure out the voice. What works and what doesn’t.

Sigh. This is why I tell people that it’s not that simple to just write a book. They keep asking why I haven’t published and I tell them that it takes more work than they realize. There are so many things that go into creating a story, I don’t think most people understand how difficult it is to make everything work, especially since I keep writing mysteries.

Anyways. I’d like to find a way to get even a tiny bit of drafting into my routine. Now that I’m two weeks into work, I think it’ll be easier to start re-building my life schedule around work. Writing need to find a good time slot and I need to actually stick to it.

 

Watching

YouTube: Early in the month, I decide to go back through the backlog of GTLive videos and find the point at which Mirror Matt joined the team. I love the banter between him at MatPat in their newer videos, so I thought it’d be fun to go back and see how things started. This means going back through over a year of videos, but I’ve been enjoying the chronological watch-through.

That’s taken up most of my YouTube watching. I try to get a couple of videos in each day as I wind down after work. Not only is this giving me the chance to see how Mirror Matt has found his fit with the team, it also means I get to watch some of the game series MatPat has played through. Though I wouldn’t play most of these games myself, watching someone else play them has brought me a lot of joy.

Movies: I saw Fyre Fraud pop up on my Hulu page and decided to watch it. I remember watching the chaotic mess of Fyre Festival play out on Twitter while I was at college. There was something so wild about seeing those tweets back then, but pretty much all I knew was that things were terribly planned. Never did I imagine that it was the dumpster fire that this documentary revealed it to be.

My dad and I sat down to watch Rescued by Ruby, a Netflix movie about a police officer trying to get on the K-9 unit. It’s a wholesome story starring Grant Gustin, who has had my heart since he started on The Flash. There’s also an incredibly adorable dog, so I was happy. It’s not the tightest in terms of plot, but it’s perfect if you’re looking for something easy to put on in the background or smile at after a long day.

Shows: We’re gonna talk about the one k-drama I fully watched with my parents in March – The Guest. It was more a show that my dad and I watched together, but my mom occasionally joined us. As a crime show, it’s pretty solid. Same with it being a paranormal show. Predictably, I enjoyed the lack of romance, which kept the plot from being dragged out.

There is one plot point that never got resolved. My dad and I were waiting for it to get an ending, but ti felt like the writers just threw it away in the last few episodes. Still, I’d recommend it if you like slightly scary shows. It’s not too intense and manages to balance out the tense moments quite well.

In my own time, I’ve continued a little more of my Bakuman re-watch. It’s weird to be getting close to the ending for a third time. In between GTLive backlist videos, I’ve turned to this for some wholesome, happy motivation to keep creating content. This series has a special place in my heart and I enjoy getting a couple of episodes in here and there.

Strangely, I’ve also watched a few episodes of The Simpsons. It’s been years since I’ve followed the show, but while writing about journaling earlier in March, I re-watched the episode that inspired me to start. And then watched a few more from the newest season. The stories are dumb and I don’t see the appeal anymore, but there is something nice about watching something and not needing to turn on my brain.

I’ve also gotten back into my re-watch of Criminal Minds, which I put on while diffusing my hair. It’s mostly to keep me entertained and take my mind off how long it takes to dry my hair. The show will never get old for me and I’m happy to have it on in the background. Nothing will take its place in my heart.

Listening

Podcasts: We both know I’m going to say My Favorite Murder and Cultish. The backlog of episodes I have for MFM is still quite extensive. I have about a year’s worth of content to listen to, so I try to put it on in the mornings while I get ready for work.

If I were a skipper, I’d probably get through the backlog faster, but I quite like the conversation at the beginning because sometimes I get good show and book recommendations. It also gives me an idea of when the episode takes place and what’s changed since then. Will I ever listen to each episode as it releases? I can only dream of it.

Honestly, I don’t think there was a lot that caught my interest in March aside from these two podcasts. Cultish is on a roll with its second season and I’ve been loving the discussions about groups I never thought as cult-like. Honestly, I wish more people I knew listened to this. It’s fascinating and I’ve learned so much from listening to each week’s episode.

Music: There’s probably something to be said about how I prefer putting on music to work now, when I used to be able to work in silence. On some level, I think it’s to make sure I don’t get as distracted by my phone or the Internet. Does it work? I’m not too sure yet.

I found a lo-fi playlist that I occasionally put on while I’m working. It’s nice and calm, something I don’t pay a lot of attention to as I write emails. When I was in the office alone for a few hours, I put it on and it was nice to have the ambience around me.

Surprisingly, I’ve also been listening to something else that’s not Taylor Swift. With spring having just begun, I thought it was fitting to start compiling my spring playlist. Most of the music is from indie artist that I’ve come across on TikTok, but it’s been a great time. A good portion of March has been me enjoying new music that I wouldn’t have found if not for everyone’s favorite clock app.

And then of course, there was Taylor Swift. Sometimes I put on a specific song or album, but most times I just put it on shuffle. After seeing Niahm Adkins’ video where she guesses Taylor Swift songs after listening to the first second, I’ve been testing my own skills with my playlist on shuffle.

What I’ve concluded so far is that I can do pretty well with Red (Taylor’s Version), 1989, folklore, and evermore. Everything else is up in the air. Despite my love of reputation, I don’t seem to pay close enough attention to the intros. Or remember what songs are on that album. Mostly, it’s a fun game to play and I enjoy challenging myself from time to time.

Posting

The main thing tha’s been affected by work is actually my content schedule. Not having the amount of free time I used to means being more structured in the way I produce the things that go up on a weekly basis. On a whim, I’d taken a bunch of photos the weekend before I started working. Those ended up being the photos that tied me over for a whole week.

But it’s not easy to produce this much stuff on my own each week. I know I’m the one who decides all this, which is also why I chose to cut two blog posts at the end of March. At least I had my content calendar though. If I had to scramble for ideas while being tired from work, there would be absolutely nothing going out.

With thinking about work, I’m going to do my best to maintain the schedule that I’ve had in February and March. Daily Instagram posts and three blog posts a week are the main goal. I do have to push everything to the weekend, giving me little time off, but it’s how I have to manage things if I want to prep stuff ahead of time and not worry about posting as I head in to work.

Right now, I think it’d be best of I could dedicate a day and a half to blog content and half a day to photo prep. It’s far easiest with Instagram because I usually type my captions earlier in the day and post in the evening. Blog stuff is that takes me longer and deserves more time partly because I have to format pictures, do a little more SEO stuff, and come up with titles that don’t sound ridiculous.

Blog: I don’t think it fully realized it until this month, but it takes me quite a while to write most blog posts. The reviews are easier at about an hour to an hour and a half each. I can knock out a few at a time with little trouble.

But other posts take about three hours each. My wrap-ups take the longest at around four hours. It’s a lot of time to spend writing on a weekly basis. One day, I’ll break down exactly how much content make on a weekly basis, both for myself and for you. It was mostly something I started thinking about when I realized I had to change when and how I prepped my content.

Here’s the list of everything I wrote in March.

Things were changed once when I decided to write my post about Zelenskyy. It’s so different from what I usually do, but I felt the need to talk about something that was happening within the writing community and also outside of it. I wouldn’t call it a favorite, but I’m quite proud of how it turned out considering that it was a last minute addition.

My favorite posts were spelling my name in books, my top 10 Criminal Minds episodes, and when I talk about how journaling has changed my life. All of them give you guys a better idea of what makes me who I am. Also, it’s always fun to talk about Criminal Minds.

IG: I continued posting in the morning for the first half of March, but decided to switch at a time that perfectly lined up with me getting my job. Posting in the evenings again has been a lot easier and I’m glad I made that decision.

Not quite sure what it’s done for my insights right now. I haven’t posted a bullet journal photo in a bit, which usually does the best among all my content. Right now, I’m mostly happy that I’ve been able to keep up with posting and still had Reels up until this very last week of March.

One of my Reels absolutely tanked, but it’s admittedly not my best work, so I don’t feel as bad. It stings most when I’ve created something I’m proud of that does terribly. Everything else has been decent, but I also haven’t made a ton of time to create trendy Reels. Especially since I only post about two a week.

Any more than that and I feel like it’s too much for me to keep up with. It would make the algorithm like me more, but it requires time and ideas I don’t currently have.

There’s also the new Instagram feed options, which I don’t have on my Bookstagram. I have it on my personal account and my hair account, but not my Bookstagram. Why does that kind of feel like a slight against me that Instagram doesn’t want my book content to do well?

So there’s March! It really does feel like two distinctive halves that because of how much things have changed now that I have a job. I am grateful for the employment, don’t get me wrong. It’s an adjustment for me and it’ll take some time for me to figure out exactly how to balance work with creating all this content, reading, and the tiny social life that I have.

As much as I can’t believe we’re already in the second quarter of 2022, it has been nice to see the progression of my life over the last three months. Perhaps that’s what’s most fulfilling about writing these posts each month, long as they are.

Having something to read back on is nice. Sharing that with you guys is nice. I hope March was good to you too.

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