Why I like working part time: Friday morning.

I’ve been working at a temporary job this summer. For the past few months, it’s been full-time; however, my hours were just reduced to part-time. Despite the resulting lack of full-time pay, I’m really, really enjoying all this new-found time. I’ll demonstrate how my day has gone so far today:

4:50 am: Woke up, well-rested, because I’d had plenty of time yesterday afternoon and had actually gone to bed at a reasonable time. Got ready for the gym. Had a cup of coffee.

5:45 am: Left for the gym. Felt awake. Ran the whole way (I usually start out running and then walk, or just walk – it’s all downhill and probably a little over a 1/2 mile, I usually just start walking because I’m still sleepy).

5:50 am: Arrived at the gym. Proceeded to have a fantastic workout: ran 3 miles, then did 3 circuits (plus warm-up/cool-down) of No More Trouble Zones.

7:00 am: Left the gym, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

7:15 am: Arrived at home. Fed and walked the pup. Took a shower and made myself halfway presentable.

8:15 am: Had more coffee and breakfast. Watched the Cosby Show. Cleaned the apartment – not typical weekday tidying, but serious Saturday morning cleaning.

10:45 am: Left for work.

Now. Allow me to draw your attention to all the things that I did before I left for work.

It’s sort of miraculous.

And I get to go home at 3:15 and… who knows? Maybe I will walk the dog, maybe I will take a nap… maybe I will watch more Cosby Show… maybe I will have a cup of coffee and do some online shopping (with money I don’t really have because I’m only working part-time now… oh. Flaw in the plan). Anyway. Yay, freedom!

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Happy Wednesday! Not hump day. That’s not work appropriate.

Despite the obvious pitfalls of going back to school – going into more student loan debt, starting over in my career, changing everything about my life – I can’t help but feel as though I’m doing the right thing. I haven’t felt this creatively inspired since I was in college. And excited! There’s no way I’d be this excited about business school or law school. And isn’t that the point? Life should be exciting. It shouldn’t be sitting behind a desk all day, making decisions that don’t mean all that much in the long run.

I’ve been chipping away at my portfolio, which is due on July 23. I’ll admit, there’s been a little bit of procrastination going on. I brought my MacBook Pro to work today so I could make some headway on the porfolio – which I’m going to be submitting in the form of a website – and actually did as I’d intended. Right now, it’s just the template of the front page, but I have a sitemap in mind and I have a good idea of what I’ll be including. I want to do more with motion graphics than I have in the past. Not a lot, because I like a cleaner design, but some subtle effects, like onmouseover icon animation. And I still have to clean up some of my older work and upload it, since some of the sites aren’t live anymore. All these details…

On Monday, I called my grad school financial aid adviser to pepper her with questions. As it turned out, they’d just finalized my award offer, so she gave me the news. Basically, what it boils down to is this: I’ll be able to afford school and have some additional loan money, but I’ll still need a full-time job in order to pay rent and eat food and otherwise live like a normal human. Well, there goes my original plan of just being a full-time student, but somehow I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away with that one. The good news is, I don’t need to be getting paid as much as I am now in order to afford the same things, so I can get an easy full-time job when I move down to San Francisco in January while I’m in school. Not like the one I have now, where it’s literally in my job description that overtime is required, despite the fact that I’m a manager and don’t get paid overtime.

Waiting until mid-December to give my notice is already proving to be a mental and emotional challenge. I stressed myself out during my four-mile walk this morning, talking to my mom about how worried I am about having to do year-end work (there was a lot last year) in addition to finals. I don’t know how I’m going to make this move work; my future roommate (currently living in San Francisco) and I will somehow have to find a place and move in early- to mid-January before the new semester starts in late January. I think she will probably have to do the apartment-hunting by herself in December, since I’ll still be up here, but we’ve been emailing back and forth with listings on Craigslist, so hopefully by then she and I will be on the same page about what we’re looking for. And then there’s the job aspect. But I do think it will be easier to find a lower-paying job than trying to find one in my current salary range. I just need something brainless that doesn’t require me to work more than my allotted time, and that doesn’t zap all my energy. I’d be a terrible waitress, so that’s out. I mean, I’d eat all the food before it got to the customers, and I’m already prone to tripping over my own feet without the added challenge of balancing a tray.

Speaking of lack of coordination, I finally worked up the nerve to try level 2 of 30-Day Shred last night, after something like twenty days of level 1 (I stopped counting after 10 days). Surprisingly, after hearing from multiple people that level 2 is the hardest, I actually really enjoyed it. It went by faster than level 1, and I like all the jumping. I could do without the planks, but I’ll keep working at it. The only problem is that she had me moving my arms and my legs in different directions, and that confuses my brain (which is why I never excelled in dance classes. That, and aforementioned tripping). I definitely feel the effects of the workout today, so I know whatever I was doing did something. Plus, I finally fit into my size 2 (well, size 26 because it’s designer-ish and they do weird denim sizing) denim miniskirt again! And by “fit into,” I mean it doesn’t squish my legs in unflattering ways when I sit while wearing it. In fact, there’s no longer any inappropriate squishing of anything. I’d definitely call that a step in the right direction.

Okay… this is probably enough blogging at work. Shhh don’t tell.

Feel free to skip all the words and go straight to the puppy picture.

My best friend is in the process of packing up her life and moving to Malawi for a year. My mom doesn’t like to talk on the phone for an hour when she’s home with her boyfriend. Who am I supposed to talk to about all my major daily accomplishments? Hmm? I guess I’ll have to settle for strangers on the interwebs. Hello, strangers.

Here’s what I did this weekend:

  1. Cleaned. Everything. I cleaned under my bathroom sink, and I cleaned out and organized my closets, in addition to my normal Saturday cleaning regimen. No, you don’t understand. The under the sink area had become a hazard, and my closet was brimming with clothes I kept trying on in my quest for outfits and subsequently discarding, over and over again. I think I need to have a garage sale, and maybe find a friend who has an actual garage.
  2. I watched a lot of Pretty LIttle Liars. This is my third viewing of season 1 on Netflix. I had seen it before. I wish they would post the next season so I didn’t feel like I’m memorizing this season. This show makes me want to be a skinny teenage girl; their lives seem so ridiculously dramatic and they don’t have to worry about real adult things, like eating carbs and paying bills.
  3. ImageI spent quality time with the brown dog. I’m trying to get her to sleep on her own bed instead of on my nice couch and on my bed, because she had a little bladder infection this week and… I had to take my duvet to the dry cleaner. $150 vet bill + $33 dry cleaner bill. Fun? Not so much.
  4. I successfully went to the market and spent $21 on my produce for the week, then came home, chopped everything and prepared it for my weeks’ salads (lunch and dinner). I then managed to clog the garbage disposal… and unclog it with a plunger. I know this isn’t revolutionary for most people, but I felt like a total champ when I figured this one out.
  5. I did days 12 and 13 of Jillian Michaels’ 30-day shred, level one. I realize I’m supposed to move up to level 2 on day 11, but it scares me and I haven’t mastered level 1 yet, so I’m sticking. It’s still hard work! My T-Rex arms are looking a lot more defined, too. Too bad I’m not allowed to wear tank tops to work. Plus, I’m getting smaller and eating more since I started doing this. Talk about a win-win.
  6. I got myself together and finally applied to grad school. I’m trying for my MFA in Web Design & New Media at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it, but if I get in, I’m moving to San Francisco in September. Or if they let me in and September doesn’t work out, I’ll move in November-ish and start in the spring. Fingers crossed for September, though! I’ve been considering this program for about two years, and I think it’s time I just jumped in and did it. I’ll do what everybody else does and worry about the details when I have to. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified. From what I’ve read about the school, they’ll let anyone in (it’s graduating that’s the challenge), so I’m just assuming I’m already in and freaking out accordingly. Always good to prepare, right?
  7. For some reason, I’m not completely dreading work tomorrow. Probably because it’s jeans week. The grad school thing is giving me hope that I won’t be a mid-level executive drone forever, so that helps my attitude. 
  8. Darn, bedtime. I was so enjoying this one-sided conversation. I do love talking about me.

New Client Cookies.

Does anyone else’s employer do this? Every time we get a new client, there’s an email that goes out:

[A department you didn’t know existed] got a new client!… [blah blah blah applaud all the hard work blah blah blah]… Cookies will be in the usual spots this afternoon!

FYI, the “usual spots” happen to be every admin desk which happens to be at every effing exit. There is literally no way to enter or leave the office without encountering a mountain of cookies heaped onto a plate. And they’re always delicious, perfectly gooey, freshly baked, and perfect in every way, so it’s almost impossible to resist them. Evil. They are evil cookies.

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Anyway, that happened today. I showed a little restraint, as in I had small pieces of cookie at a time instead of taking a whole one (did I mention they’re monster-sized?), but I don’t love that it happened. This does not make me want to root for new clients, and I think that’s probably the wrong sentiment.

So this is what I propose: instead of having New Client Cookies, we should have New Client Healthy Lunch and Go Home Early to Exercise. I would be out recruiting new clients all the time if we had that, and that’s not even my job! Think about it. “We got a new client! You’re going to lose 10 pounds if this keeps up!” Wouldn’t that make you happy? It would make me ecstatic. I would love to lose 10 pounds and I would love my company to be 100% financially secure. That, to me, would be a win-win.

Sometimes, though, I think I’m the only one who feels this way…

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Changes prompted by other people’s changes, and other updates.

A male friend – with whom I have a slightly strange, complicated, long-term relationship that isn’t a “relationship” – is moving to New York. He apparently got a promotion, complete with a transfer to one of the best cities in the world. Hearing his tremendous news made me want to punch things. That, and win the lottery, quit my job, and move to Paris, just to one-up him. Oh, and lose 20 lbs.

But really. I’m happy for him.

Sorta.

Anyway, I also decided this week that I’m finally going to get a dog. I’ve been toying with the idea for a few years now and never felt like it was quite right, but I woke up on Wednesday and  realized there was no good reason I couldn’t just get a dog now. I would do it eventually. Sure, a dog will make my life a little more challenging, but it would be worth it for me. I love dogs. I’d be a good dog owner. I go out for long walks already, I need a furry walking buddy. So, I will be getting a dog, hopefully in the very near future.

I think it will take a little longer because I’m being fairly picky about breed, size, etc… I have to be, otherwise I’d end up taking home all the dogs, and I can only afford to take care of one. I’m looking for a black or chocolate Lab, 60 lbs or under, under 3 years old but not a puppy (the youngest would be 9 months). Most Labs under 60 lbs are going to be female, but I actually found two males (brothers) that I will be seeing on Saturday. I found two females online, but their current owners haven’t gotten back to me yet, so… no clue. I had no idea it would be this hard to even get a response. Le sigh.

This dog-finding mission has kept me nice and distracted for the past few days, so fortunately, the past two workdays have gone by quickly. I had been getting very bored in the mornings and eating lunch too early, then getting really ravenously hungry later in the day… unfortunate.

However, I ordered these protein bars late last week in an effort to have quick, easy, healthy breakfasts, and they just arrived yesterday afternoon. I got the all-natural line, which is made with Stevia instead of sucralose (the original line is made with sucralose). They’re actually pretty tasty, but my favorite part is that they kept me full all morning, for once. I had lunch close to 1 and I wasn’t even hungry yet. I’m going to try a few more flavors, but I’m really excited about these babies. More excited than any sane person should be about protein bars.

I also finally got a walking/jogging hat today, after learning my lesson the hard way by being caught in a torrential downpour during my walk yesterday afternoon and having to turn back early. It was awkward to be on the trail trying to hold down my hood while the properly clad runners zoomed by with their waterproof-looking hats and superior looks on their faces. Pshh. Whatever, runners. None of you have awesome pink shoes.

Tomorrow’s Friday. Fridays are wonderful. Almost as wonderful as Saturdays.

I love healthy food blogs.

Pictures of food… people writing about food… people writing about getting healthy… it all makes me so happy. It also provides a welcome distraction during my otherwise hectic workday.

I’m doing another juice fast today. It was either that or make a lunch and bring it into the lunch meeting I had at work (complete with the requisite pizza and not-too-healthy salad). I chose the juice fast because my leafy greens were in danger of going bad, and there were just too many to eat all in one day, so I juiced them. Juicers are handy like that.

Honestly, I wasn’t even tempted by the pizza today. I occasionally have weak, pizza-craving tendencies, but after seeing what eating all that cheese did to my skin (major breakout, ick), the whole idea of eating that much cheese is really off-putting. Also, the grease, and the bread. I really prefer thin crust – better yet, cornmeal crust, and I like more gourmet-like pizzas, the kind that contain things like goat cheese and pesto and spinach. Mmmm. That kind of pizza would have been tempting. But, snob that I am, mozzarella and pepperoni on a thick, starchy, white flour crust did not tempt me into submission.

It looks like it’s shaping up to be a beautiful day today, but that’s based on the view from my office window. I’m sure once I venture outside that it will be quite chilly, like it was yesterday. I’m so sick of winter. It doesn’t even matter that it’s the second day of spring; it’s still winter in Seattle. Bleh.

I’ve been preoccupied with planning my birthday festivities this week, to the point where it’s difficult to think about anything else. My mom will be here on Friday afternoon and wants to finally meet some of my coworkers (last time she was here, I had just been promoted and didn’t want to be parading my mommy around the office – all my colleagues are at least fifteen years older and I was trying to avoid drawing attention to my already glaringly obvious youth. Seriously. I’m also younger than my employees). The birthday party is on Saturday – a larger-than-expected group of friends and I are going to karaoke. We’re talking serious karaoke, because that’s how I roll. I was putting together my setlist during the lunch meeting. It’s just too bad I’ll probably have to share the mic – one of the many disadvantages of inviting so many people to karaoke.

The challenge this weekend will be to continue eating well. I already plan on doing another juice fast at some point next week, because I know how my mom usually influences my eating habits; the key will be not going overboard. I have to remember how much better I feel when I eat the way I’ve been eating: salmon, veggies, fruit, eggs, no bread, no pasta, no rice (I know it’s gluten free, but it’s one of the things I tend to overeat because it’s not exactly nutrient-rich). Of course, I’m fully prepared to indulge on Saturday night. I have yet to decide whether to order delicious specialty cocktails or stick to my favorite new low-calorie drink, Diet Coke and vanilla vodka (surprisingly good – tastes like a root beer float, I think, although it’s been ages since I’ve had a root beer float). Diet Coke, I know, is not great, nutrition-wise, but I’ve never been a big soda drinker, so I don’t think it will hurt me. I will, however, accept suggestions on slightly more sophisticated low-calorie drinks. Another one I’ve heard of is Diet Sprite & vodka (is it Diet Sprite or Sprite Zero? Am I getting my fizzy clear sodas confused?), but apparently bars in Seattle have a hard time stocking diet sodas. Anyway, the point is, if I keep it low-calorie I can drink more without as much guilt. Something to ponder.

Okay. At this point I’m just rambling, and I keep snoozing a reminder, so I should probably get going on the thing it’s reminding me to do. Back to work!

Three-Berry Pie with Olive Oil Shortbread Crust.

I slept in until 11 this morning, something I haven’t done in what seems like a very long time. I had breakfast at noon, then I did something else I hadn’t done in a long time – I sat down and wrote a song, start to finish. I used to do that all the time (Exhibit A), but I haven’t been feeling creative/inspired/what-have-you enough to sit down and write. Everything comes out sounding wrong. But I’m really enjoying this project. Maybe after I get back to my happy weight I’ll even get professional photos taken for my album art. That would be a nice reward, right?

So anyway. (Nice segue, wasn’t it?) Yesterday, one of my employees had a birthday. I’d decided about a month ago that I would make it a tradition to bring in treats for each of their birthdays – it’s practical, because there are only four of them, and it allows me to get my baking fix. For yesterday’s celebration, I baked this berry pie. It started out as olive oil shortbread cookies, but the dough were entirely too crumbly despite my best efforts to keep it together, so I molded it to a pie dish and threw some berries in there. The experiment was a definite success.

Three-Berry Pie with Olive Oil Shortbread Crust

Ingredients:

For the crust
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups granulated Splenda
3 cups rice flour
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling
4 cups berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
1/2 cup granulated Splenda
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Lightly oil a pie pan; set aside.
2. Make the crust: Mix the olive oil, 1 1/2 cups Splenda and rice flour in a large mixing bowl. Gradually mix in the almond and vanilla extracts. Once ingredients are thoroughly mixed, place dough in the pie pan and spread evenly along the bottom and the sides.
3. Make the filling: Mix the berries, 1/2 cup Splenda and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Evenly pour into crust.
4. Bake pie for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden. Remove from oven and crush berries, then let cool before consuming. I recommend refrigerating the pie – covered – overnight to allow the filling to set.