Friday, 27 March 2015

Of brunches, budgets and bloggers.

Why hello there, blog reader.

I wonder if anyone still reads this blog, besides my husband and my parents. I wonder if my parents still read my blog at all, now that I'm somewhat grown up and rather predictable (*cough* boring). I used to read blogs all the time, trawling them everyday, peeking into windows of other people's lives. Then the whole Facebook phenomenon took over all my social circles, and I didn't need blogs anymore to indulge in kaypoh-busybody-voyeuristic activities. But there are five blogs I still read to this day. They have one thing in common: they are all based on honesty. And because I am constantly immersed in either public relations or social media, both of which always trying to showcase the better side of every situation, real gritty honesty is refreshing. So I read these blogs.
  1. iaremunyee: I don't remember how or when I befriended Mun Yee, but I think we met somewhere in our academic social circles in Malaysia so I have her as a Facebook friend. Her status updates stood out to me, and one day she linked one of her blog posts on there. Ever since then, I have been following her blogging journey because she is one of the best writers I've ever read when it comes to love, heartbreak, healing and family. She has another blog called Sek Pau Mei too.
  2. Today I Am Suhana: One of my dearest friends in real life and my long-standing business partner, Cynthia blogs sporadically and every time she does it's an honest, funny glimpse into the life of a Malaysian career woman. I have been following her blog for about seven years now, because that's about how long we've been friends for. 
  3. A Growing Teenager Diary Malaysia: I've never met this blogger - nicknamed "Wah Bo Lui" (translated as "I have no money") - but he details his daily life so meticulously that I feel like I've met him. He comes from a starkly different background than mine, and for that reason his blog posts fascinate me. He writes about failure, food and family. Some people say that his blog posts are too negative, but I think they are just honest -- and he has the liberty to write so honestly because he is an anonymous blogger. While we have very different life stories, I think WBL's self-reflections of how his academic credentials lead to high expectations that he failed to meet is very relatable. I feel the fear all the time about whether or not I can translate all my years of education into a meaningful career, and not be a disappointment to those who have supported me. 
  4. fourfeetnine: Audrey is the wife of Timothy Tiah, founder of Southeast Asia's blog advertising empire. I know, it sounds really intimidating right? But she isn't intimidating at all -- on the contrary, she's the most humble and accessible "celebrity blogger" I've ever met. I've bumped into her at movie theatres in Malaysia, and she even agreed to be one of my interviewees for my undergrad thesis (which was about how blogging shapes the identities of young Malaysian women). Her blog is also very honest and funny, and I can relate to her because she (1) is a noob in the kitchen just like me, and (2) she gets mad, sad, scared, and doesn't try to portray a perfect version of herself on her blog.
  5. Xiaxue: Xiaxue's blog is my guilty pleasure. She's funny, sarcastic and doesn't try to pretend to be someone she isn't. I've been reading her blog since I was a teenager, and I hope she never quits blogging because I really want to watch Dash grow up!
My friends often ask me what I'm up to in Austin these days, since I'm spending the whole semester far away from campus. The only things I miss about USC are lobster terragon (thank you, Grubhub, for feeding me through grad school); farmer's market every Wednesday in the quad; and my friends - including some truly amazing professors. Other than that, though, sure the campus is super beautiful but I figure it'll always be there, I can always visit it when ever I travel to LA. (Hopefully I will, because the Harry Potter section is opening at Universal Studios in 2016, haha.)

So here in Austin, I mostly do my work on most days. Even though I'm far away from USC I still have my part-time job, my internship and Directed Research class. I watch Netflix and run errands on other days. I meet up with my friends once every week or couple of weeks. I have brunches with Melody, my stepmom-in-law. I hang out with Darren everyday. I have not, however, had the time to play games. Now that I received my Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card in the mail, it means I can start applying for jobs and legally work in USA. So I'm guessing I'll be even busier and will have even less time for gaming. Sacrifices must be made!

Speaking of sacrifices, I'm also trying harder each month to budget more carefully. It turns out there's a big difference between budgeting for school and budgeting for a working life. With the semester coming to an end and basically school coming to an end, that means my allowance is running out and money is painfully finite. Money is no longer divided cleanly into "tuition fees" and "living expenses" -- instead, it's divided into utility bills, insurance bills, tax savings, maintenance fees (things break all the time!), phone bills, food, gas, entertainment (which will inevitably be a luxury), furniture/renovations (also a luxury, since there's still a lot we need to change in the house but we'll have to go slowly because money is, as I said, finite).

My contract with USC for my 20-hour-work-week job will end in a month, because it was a part of my scholarship award. Graduation is May 15, and I'm feeling the pressure to find a paying job so we can pay our bills comfortably enough to still have savings. The unfortunate thing about jobs in the PR industry (the agency world, at least) is that most of them are internships - and I just can't afford to do an unpaid internship anymore. I used to think "I'll do it for the love of the work, not for the money" but as the realization of what it's like to have car, house, insurance and maintenance bills... all of that realization sets in and I know I'll have to find a middle ground. Don't get me wrong, I have loved the internships I've done throughout graduate school, and I learned so much. But now that I'm graduating with a Master's degree I'm going to try my hardest to find a paying job.

I'll have to start jobhunting in April. It really scares me. I've been monitoring joblists for two years now, so I would be able to keep tabs on what kind of opportunities are available out there for people with my skill set, and it just terrifies me because there's so much competition out there -- and how do I get myself noticed, how do I stand out from all the other candidates vying for the same job? Particularly since I didn't grow up in Texas, or in the U.S. for that matter, how will I measure up against applicants born and raised within a culture the employers share with them? Am I smart enough, approachable enough, good enough to get a decent job? And there's the other question of what kind of jobs do I want? Where can I help the most, which company can I work in where I will contribute the most value I could possibly have to give?

P.S: Went to Rodeo Austin last weekend - it was my first rodeo! Particularly excited me because I always wanted to say "This ain't my first rodeo" and now I can.


Anfield Yee said...

Hey Sha-Lene, I'm still reading your blog! Hehee. I'm sure you will be fine finding a job at US. All the best and do update more ya! ^^

Sha-Lene said...

Thank you so much, Sin Yee!