Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I love my boss

I had a meeting with my director today (who is now also my direct boss, since my manager recently left), to discuss the possibility of reducing my hours so I can go back to school. I had half expected her to freak out a bit, since there are so many changes going on in our team right now, and so much is up in the air, and there is so much work to be done, but she was totally supportive and enthusiastic. Basically, all I have to do is figure out my class schedule and let her know the hours I want to work, and she'll put the paperwork through! I will probably try to go down to 30 hours/week, because that's the lowest I can go and still get full-time benefits, which I definitely want -- especially the tuition discount! :}

So, now I get to start looking in earnest at classes, since I think I'm going to try taking two this term (biology for sure, and something else). Unfortunately, the GIS class I wanted to take is full, as are a couple of other interesting-looking ones. So I might be looking at something boring like a re-take of statistics, which I haven't taken for about 5 years. Oh, and I need to check with some of the grad schools I'm looking at to see if my science credits expire after 7 years, which I've heard is often the case. If that's true, I may have to re-take a bunch of science credits... yipes! But I'm excited to get this ball rolling, and so grateful that my team and my boss are on board. Hooray!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My new favorite song

I recently sent out an email asking some friends for new music suggestions, since I've been listening to the same music for a very long time and don't really have any motivation to seek out new stuff on my own. Thanks to everybody who responded and suggested/sent music! Mom (who was just up here for a wonderful visit) didn't reply, because she claimed she didn't have anything I would like that I didn't already have. But it ended up that she's led me to my new favorite song! Check out Michael Bublé singing "Everything".

I like it because it's happy and upbeat, has good lyrics, and because he obviously just gets a kick out of singing it. Oh, yeah, and he has an absolutely delicious voice. :) I've been following the You-Tube trail all afternoon listening to different songs, and they're all great! If I can just get my hands on some of his music, I'll be quite content for quite a while. :)

In other news, I had a lovely (and all-too-short) visit with Mom this weekend, wherein she wholeheartedly approved of my new location, and we had a delightful day doing the "Hawthorne Hop," a Portland activity consisting of strolling up and down Hawthorne Blvd. and checking out all the cool shops on the way. We spent the majority of our time in the Powells Home and Garden bookstore, but also put in appearances at such fun locations as the sunflower intersection at SE 33rd & Yamhill, a bead store, a hostel with a green roof (well, we looked at it), a "vintage" consignment store, and "The Awe-ful Waffle" with the "Waffle Window" at the side of a cafe. We went for a lovely walk this morning in Laurelhurst Park, upon sight of which Mom exclaimed, "It's not flat!" Indeed, my neighborhood is pleasantly hilly, though you wouldn't know it from a map. Oh, we also made fresh pesto (which we ate on pasta with cherry tomatoes from my garden), and chocolate mousse, and rosemary shortbread cookies. Yum!

My new neighbors are moving in downstairs this weekend. They seem quite nice, and we're looking forward to planning a revitalization of the front yard, which is in sore need of some love. The weather is gorgeous and all is well.


Update: I finally was able to load Michael Bublé's website (it's been obstinate all day), and discovered that he's singing in Portland... tomorrow. And I'm going!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

How do people do it? I don't think I can.

I don't know how some people manage to work full time and go to school full time. It's hard enough for me to work full time and go to school part time, or work part time and go to school full time, let alone doing them both full-time! I work with a woman who has been working full-time and taking 9 graduate credits per quarter. Nine! And she's still sane! I had enough trouble with one 4-credit online econ class this summer along with my full-time job (and moving, of course), and I don't know what I'm going to do when my 5-credit biology class with lab starts up in the fall.

I don't know how they schedule it either. For instance, my biology class has to be in the evenings because I work during the day. It takes up three evenings a week: two for lectures, one for lab. Now, there's also a GIS class I'd love to take; however, it is also offered in the evening, and happens to be the same evenings as biology. Now, what am I supposed to do with that? If I could take biology during the day, I could take the GIS class in the evening, and everything would be hunky-dory. ... Oh, yeah, except for the little problem of work.

I'm starting to really long for a very flexible, part-time work schedule that would let me work around whatever class schedule I happen to have each quarter, and let me take more than one class per term. I would dearly love to not only finish my minimum prerequisites for graduate school, but also get a stronger foundation in some of the areas I'm weak (for instance, statistics, shudder though I do at the thought), in the next year, so that I can apply for graduate school for next fall. But that's not going to happen as long as I'm working 40 hours a week, because I just don't learn if so much of my time and brain power is spent on not-school.

As much as I'm comfortable with my current job and like the people that I'm working with and am getting paid decently with great benefits, I feel like I'm letting myself get stuck there. Okay, so they pay me to ride my bike to work, which is fantastic, but the job itself really isn't doing anything for me, and the longer I stay there, the longer I'm building a really great resume for a career I know I don't want. I'm starting to wonder if it's time to take the risk and get myself unstuck, and put the priority back on my education. Of course, I'm not giving myself much time to make this decision (and find a part-time job) if I want to have any flexibility for the fall quarter.... Can I pause the clock for a while while I figure all of this out, please?

Maybe I've just let myself get too stressed out with everything that's been happening recently, and I'm not thinking clearly. I've made some pretty rash decisions so far in my life, some of which were significant ingredients in the brewing and stewing of my current quandary (would I be facing this dilemma in the first place if I'd stuck with my original major?), and I really don't want to throw away the pretty-darn-good thing I have without being pretty-darn-sure that I'm moving on to something better. But part of me insists that this is thinking clearly, that this is what makes sense to most quickly get me back on the track I need to be to make my life fulfilling.

Money sucks.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pink Panda and the General Public

I just got back (and showered) from the 2nd annual Eco-Games, hosted by the Northwest Service Academy and Americorps. It was my first time, since last year it wasn't open to the public, and it was fun! And it completely wore me out. Basically, the idea is a bike race in teams, stopping along the way to do ecological restoration projects. That's all I knew when I signed up. I had no idea of the distance, nor the number of stops. It turns out that we did an almost 20-mile loop, with a total of 8 stops along the way. We got 15 minutes at each stop to complete the assigned task; the tasks included:

2 Ivy Pulls
1 Blackberry Hack (thank goodness it was only 1!)
1 Weeding around Natives (with points taken out for pulling the natives)
1 Nightshade Yank
1 Identifying Natives (and spelling their scientific names correctly)
1 Teambuilding "Group Ski" activity
1 "Schulty Pull", a very silly activity where one person gets crowned "King" and gets in a porta-potty on wheels, and the rest of the team pull it around an obstacle course. Guess who got to be king because she was lightest?

My team didn't win (we were also short one person, who got sick and couldn't come), but we had fun anyway. And one of our team members got the prize for best costume (well, okay, she was the only one in costume) -- she had painted her face like a panda, attached panda ears to her helmet, and wrapped bamboo pieces around her bike. It was very cool. Our team was also "Team Pink" because we had to wear pink ribbons to identify ourselves. So, our team name started out as Pink Panda. But then we realized that we were the mismatched team consisting of the only people who weren't current (or never had been, in my case) Americorps/NWSA members. In other words, we were the general public. So by the end, our team name was Pink Panda and the General Public. Sounds a bit like an indy band name, but we weren't clever enough to come up with a theme song.

And now I am exhuasted. I don't want to do anything for the rest of the day, and it's only 4:00! But I have to go to the store to buy ingredients and make a key lime pie, because my manager is leaving next week and I promised I would bring a dessert to her going-away dinner. I think I'm going to wait until my legs have un-jelly-fied a bit before trying to walk to the store, though! :)

Friday, August 17, 2007


There’s something about moving (and, of course, the associated breakup) that puts me in a reminiscent mood, and makes me reevaluate my life in its present state and freak out at how poorly it matches my vision of where I want to be. Okay, freak out is a pretty strong statement, but honestly, I’ve been realizing more and more intensely recently how important it is that I get back on the right track with my life. Here I am specifically talking about my career, which is definitely in the wrong place.

I’m listening to GrooveLily right now, and just picked this line out of the song: “It’s hard when you see someone else live your dreams.” That line definitely hits home with me. I recently joined LinkedIn at the request of my manager, who has taken a new job and wants to stay in touch. Naturally, I set about searching for old acquaintances to see if I could reconnect with anybody. I found the profile an old friend from highschool and discovered that he is now a geospatial analyst, and has been for three years. Now, I don’t really want to be a geospatial analyst, but seeing that really made me stop to think. I graduated from high school with this person. He is now a geospatial analyst. I am working in an administrative job in a field I know I don’t belong in, making half as much money as I did when I was 18.

I’m better than this. I am nowhere near the point in my career or professional development that I had always assumed I would be by now. Granted, I have taken the scenic route to my educational goals – I graduated from college 6 1/2 years after I graduated from high school. That would be fine, except for the fact that I also got lured on a major detour (major in size and subject) and never got back to the main road that I knew led to the field I wanted to be a part of. Sure, my anthropology degree was fun, sure I learned a lot, but when it comes right down to it, it was not an environmental science degree, and it does not get me a job in the environmental science field, which is what I’ve always known I wanted. It’s hard to see people like my high school friend, who pursued a degree and then got a job in the field and are presumably busy being successful and satisfied. It’s also hard to see people, like another friend of mine, who are actively pursuing an education with specific career goals in mind, and are making steady progress toward those goals.

So, I have decided to finally start making progress again myself. I am taking post-bac classes (starting with the economics class I just finished) with the aim of getting into grad school in the next year or two, in an environmental science program (perhaps this one?) that will feed my brain and my heart and my soul and help me find and do the work I know I want to do. I am excited to be getting back into school, but also frustrated that I can only take one class at a time, given the need to work to make money to live and pay for school. I just have to keep reminding myself that I am doing what I can, and that I am on the right path again. And I am also actively searching for well-paying part-time jobs in just about any environmental field (yeah, I know, good luck), to get me working in the field and leave me more time for studying. Wish me luck on that one! :}

Reevaluation is tough. But it’s good to define goals and move towards them.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Deluxe Model Two-Speed Hands-Free Vibrating Body Massager

Thank heaven for Goodwill, providing us with the necessary items for life.

Sadly, I did not purchase said necessary item; I did, however, find many other, though admittedly less novel, items to equip my new abode. Yes, in case you didn't know, I moved! If my new contact info hasn't reached you yet and you want it (and I know you), shoot me an email and I'll send it to you.

My new home is absolutely lovely - lots of windows, lots of trees outside the windows, a huge kitchen, and an attic! Even the name of the neighborhood is happy - Sunnyside! :) It's a longer bike ride to work (including a bridge over the river, which can get annoying when all the bikes pile up in a pack and you can't go at your own speed), but it's a good ride - downhill most of the way to work, so I don't get too sweaty, and uphill on the way home, which tires me out and assures a good night's sleep. Speaking of which, I managed to sleep in past 5:30 this morning for the first summer Saturday in two years, since I no longer have a farmers market directly outside my window. There are tradeoffs to that, of course - now I have to ride my bike to a farmers market, but that's not so bad. I can either ride downtown to the PSU market that I used to go to, or ride to NE to the Hollywood market, which I did today. It was an interesting ride - much more "scenic" than I had expected, definitely not a route that invites rushing to a destination. The market is in the Value Village parking lot, and a block from Trader Joe's, so not a bad location to get a few errands done on a Saturday morning.

That's it for now. Off to do more unpacking, then more errands, and hopefully studying for my econ final at some point this weekend! :) Here are some pictures of my new home, in case you're curious.