Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gratitude List

I need one of these tonight.  Maybe you do too.

Having a job that affords me the luxury of paid time off (it's a first for me and I don't take it for granted!)
This freaking beautiful perfect house H and I get to live in and take care of.
Having two arms and two legs--no more, no less.
The opportunity to struggle--even when it sucks and I desperately want a pass out of it, getting through it shows me strength I didn't know I had.
My rad midcentury Peter Hvidt table that somehow fits perfectly in our dining room even though I bought it months before I knew this dining room existed.
People who do their jobs because that's their job.
Morning stair runs with a friend.
The freaking amazing gluten free recipe devepment thing that's happening that I get to benefit from.
My marriage.
These two fuzzy cats whom I love to pieces who come back to our house every day even though they could easily pick another house with better treats.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
That even amidst the turmoil of the work I'm doing at this stage in my life, I work with women whom I deeply, deeply respect and appreciate.  I work with people with whom I've shared some of the deepest belly laughs of my life.
Having a safety net--I'm never really stuck even though it sometimes feels that way.  There is always a door.
Having a college and master's degree that mean certain jobs are open to me that aren't necessarily open to everyone.
Good books and having time, energy and interest to read them.
Knowing I can choose to be happy--that circumstances can't get inside that unless I let them.
Knowing everything has an end and we will all look back on the events and circumstances of our lives and say, "remember when?"  That goes for the good and the bad.
The perspective that the harder times are just that--times in our lives.  They are not our lives.
Deep breaths.
Living in a place where I regularly see friends walking along the sidewalk in front of my house.
My family.
Woolly Pockets.
Having a lawn!  so much more pleasant than the weedy rock yard of the lats 7 years.

Tonight I am wishing for knowing what is next, what to do, when circumstances will change.  I went to a yoga class that began with lying on our backs, conneting us with our breath.  The teacher pointed out that lying down feels easy because we are told is is easy; it's something we just do without thinking too much about it.  The lesson is that things can feel hard when they are new, when we don't have a script for what to expect, when we don't know quite how we fit into them and especially when those around us don't really know either.  In yoga practice, the direction in these uncomfortable circumstances is generally to reconnect with the breath, which is ever present and can help to ground us, to give us something to hold onto when the other pieces feel scary.  The direction is never to to move away from what is challenging or unknown, because in practice, we know there is an entire other world on the other side of scary, on the other side of discomfort and uncertainty.

Tonight, I lifted into head stand without using a wall.  I've practiced yoga for nearly a decade and a half but have always held onto a fear of being upside down without something to catch me when I fall.

When I fall.

Tonight, I stopped thinking so damn much about falling and just did it.  I decided it was no different than lying on my back, connecting to my steady breath.

But it was different.  It felt like a turning point.  It felt like getting a glimpse of what is on the other side of taking chances, of risk.  Of not needing to know what happens but knowing at the very least, there will always be breath.  There will always be a floor to catch me.  It may hurt a bit, but there is a definite end to that fall, as there is to everything.

This has been a season of change, of adjustment, of disappointment with bits here and there of really really fucking good things.  This has been a season of testing limits, of realizing strength and endurance that have not been tested so much before, and of nights of desperately wanting to just escape.  It has been a season, I think, of building a critical part of my adult self.  And it totally, totally sucks.  Ha!  I would ask why nobody bothered to mention this part of the process when we were children, but really, I am eternally grateful to have been unaware of this part until I'm in the thick of it; planning or worrying would have given me a pass out of it, it just would have robbed me of those other precious moments.

I took this week off of work and had a completely blissful first part of the week then got some pretty bad news about work last night and spent today working on some solutions, aka finding another job.  And then tonight I got some diappointing news abou that job and just  Feeling stuck, feeling powerless, is no joke, and the waves of those feelings sometimes feel like they might drown me, especially when they first crash down.

So I write to remind myself that this is my life and I do get to choose what I do, how I feel.  I get to choose whether I spend my evenings watching TV or whether I engage in activities that open up opportunities, that bring welcome change into my life.  I get to choose being complacent and feeling powerless or being active and feeling empowered, like I did when I made the choice to pop up into headstand all on my own, without a crutch.

A good friend whom I admire sent me her resume today to help give me ideas for updating my own.  She is a badass.  She has had a lot of really unfair and hard shit thrown at her and been placed in circumstances that didn't include an escape hatch.  And now she has a phenomenal, rich life.  She has built that life, and it came largely from a place of struggle, of not knowing.  It came from her fighting and choosing to be persistent even when the return on that persistence was not a given.

We have to be persistent for ourselves.  We have to keep looking for doors, and opening them.

So.  I write mostly because it helps me work things out for myself, especially when things feel hard.  I write not because I need to show the pretty side of my life but because I need to acknowledge the struggles.  I write because it is a way for me to remind myself that this is all part of it, but it is not all of it.


Thursday, July 24, 2014


We are in fully in this beautiful, beautiful house.

We finished moving (JESUS, moving sucks.  Remind me next time, please, and bring pizza) over 4th of July weekend.  My husband has a lot of stuff.  I love the heck out of him but that weekend was a bit humbling for us both (bonus--I went to our local dump for the first time and we happened to hit free dump day, which was a thin reward for moving heavy, dirty things over and over again for HOURS, but still, something).  The following weekend I spent in Portland for the wedding fiesta of my big sister from another Jew-from-the-East-Coast mother which was completely fabulous, not only because I got my semi-annual dose of wearing sequins, but also because she completely nailed it with the reception party business.

And then I got to just be home, in our new home which somehow feels like exactly the home we were supposed to be in all along.

As I've mentioned before, I've painted every inch of wall and ceiling.  We've had the floors refinished (and as you all probably knew I would do, I'm growing to love them, gratefully).  We've pursued bids for painting the exterior, for replacing the roof, for switching the heating system to either gas or a ground-source heat pump from its current ancient and shaky oil heating system.  I've fallen in love with a furniture company based in Australia and, after having to seriously question why I'm always drawn to the very most difficult/expensive option, realized

It's okay to just live in this place for awhile.


I've never been good at just being but I think this house demands it.  This part of my life demands it.  After coming off of a year comsumed by writing a thesis, finishing graduate school, getting married, planning a dreamy and consuming event, starting a career job, wrestling with mild depression over said job, searching for a house for MONTHS, then going through the whirlwind of finding and buying a house in less than three weeks, maybe it's just time to take a breath and draw myself back in.

So here we are.  Rather, here I am, settling in after a longer-than-comfortable amount of time spent floating.  But of course we all know it's that floating that makes the landing so sweet.

And I'm grateful for the past year, and I'm not sure it's quite over yet.  There are things to wrestle with yet, but at least I have this beautiful space in which to just be for a little while until the next bit of life presents itself.  Ever the adventure.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Let's Talk about Those Floors (My Red Oak Floors are Pink)


Don't try to tell me those floors aren't pink.  And BUSY.

This particular "welcome to home-ownership" party was WAY less fun than the "let's drink champagne in the backyard and feed cheese to the visiting cat while I pee my pants from drunk-laughing so hard" party.

Backstory: I have been dreaming and scheming for a long freaking time about what kind of floors I wanted in our someday house; replacing or refinishing the floors was always an integral part of my house plan, along with painting the walls white-white.  The floors came before furniture, before kitchen or bathroom renovations, before my big life dream of someday having 17 kittens snuggling next to my body all at the same time.  A well-executed floor sets the tone for the rest of the space and hot damn, there are some seriously beautiful flooring options out there.  Getting the beautiful flooring I've been dreaming about into whatever house we bought was a big, serious deal and something about which I was crazy excited.

By the way--I get that this is totally frivolous and not a real problem, but I have a pretty fancy life and this made me sad so let's just pretend it's a real problem.

The week of our house inspections, I had two flooring guys come to the house to give me a bid, as I wanted to get the floors done before move-in instead of having to deal with the mess/inconvenience after we were living there.  One of the flooring guys refinished my parents' floors last summer and did a beautiful job.  The other guy came on the recommendation of two friends who have recently used him.  When the second guy came to look at my floors, I showed him several photos of light, Scandi style floors and asked if that was a possibility with my floors.  His response, "Of course.  If that is what your heart is set on, we will make it happen for you."  I knew a lot of companies avoided Scandi floors because the process to get them can be time consuming and complicated.  When I expressed this to him, he said, "A lot of people won't do it because they don't have the expertise.  We have the expertise." So I went with guy two.  Guy one was going to be out of town for the first good bit after our closing date and slightly overbid guy two anyway, so it seemed like a no brainer and I felt super proud of myself for taking care of business and getting a really great floor refinisher who was going to make my floors look exactly like the ones on Pinterest booked to start immediately after we got the keys.

Anyway, we close 9 days early and my mama and I spend hours and hours and hours removing the carpet in the bedrooms (it was brand new so a friend took it to install in her living room) and painting our asses off.  We are masochists, so it was fun (also my mom brings good snacks and believes in drinking wine while renovating).  I also removed all the baseboards in preparation for the floor refinishing and had a super patient friend who pretends I'm not obnoxiously needy come remove a gnarly built-in from the dining room (he took it home, and to my credit, his girlfriend also thinks it's gnarly so the thing is living in his man-den).  It was a lot of work but so, so gratifying, especially as we saw the house become more what I wanted--light, airy and a little more modern.  Seeing it start to evolve was so inspiring and motivating and I was floating on clouds all day every day, even as my body became bruised and sore.

We finished all this work last Sunday since the floor guys were on the calendar to start Monday.  I met them at the house about 8:00, showed them the same photos I had shown their boss, they said, "great, we can do that," and after leaving my phone number with them saying I was never more than 10 minutes away and to please call if they needed me, I left them to do their thing.

Wednesday morning, I got word that they'd have samples ready for me to look at at noon.  A bit later, they said the samples wouldn't be ready by noon after all.  No big deal--I've wasted enough of my life reading design blogs to know not to expect strict schedules to be adhered to with renovation work.  At 2:00, I called to check in and was told they'd just leave me the samples when they were finished for the day and given instructions to circle the one I wanted for them to start applying in the morning.

Eeeeeeeee!  It was happening!

So I drive the three minutes from my office to the house after work to look at the samples, with (my fault) pretty clear expectations in my head, having shown everybody all the photos of what I wanted and having heard several times, "great, we can do that."  DUMB MISTAKE.  Do not have expectations-.  They will ruin your life.

All the samples were pink.  The whitewashed sample, the water popped white wash and the natural.  All pink.

Because my wood is red oak.

I knew my wood was red oak, but I fell for all that talk about "your floors are red oak" and "we have the expertise" and "if that is what your heart is set on, we will make it happen for you," and I made the mistake of not doing my homework and not asking enough questions.

So, the pink samples.

side note: This was also our one year wedding anniversary so instead of funky town, H got a bratty wife crying into her beer.  We did have a sweet little picnic in the backyard--I'm not a total asshole.  I was just mildly sad because my life was horrible and disappointing.  Happy anniversary, honey.

I looked at the samples for a good long while.  My mom came over and looked at the samples.  I had a friend who is a now a neighbor come over and look.  H looked.  We all looked at the samples and we all decided yes, they were pink.  We didn't get to the part of deciding my expectations are realistic, but at least my eyes read color somewhat accurately.

So I called the office and told them I was kind of surprised all the samples were pink and was there anything that could be done?  "Well, you have red oak."

Yes.  But remember that time you told me I had red oak floors and then you looked at the pictures of what I was dreaming of and hoping for and you said you had the expertise to make that dream a reality?

"Well, with red oak floors, the red just comes through kind of no matter what you put on it."

 Damn it all to hell.

The next day, I showed up to talk to the guy who was actually doing the floors (not the company owner) and said I understood my floors were red oak but did he have any ideas about what I could do to neutralize the red/pink because that really, really was my absolute number one goal, even more than getting light floors.  He pretty much said "No, not really.  It's red oak so pretty much no matter what you put on there, the red's going to come through."

Having researched a good bit on the internet, I asked if he'd ever tried wood bleach.  Being a super super experienced floor guy (not being sarcastic--he really is pretty awesome), he of course had used wood bleach, but mostly for removing stains.  I asked if he'd be willing to try bleaching to see if it removed any of the red, and because he was an insanely patient and kind guy, he was up for it.  He didn't even make me feel like a wackadoo.

So a couple of hours later, I got another call that my new samples were ready, and here comes the awesomest part.  My floors are not 100% red oak.  Red oak responds pretty well to wood bleach and the red oak boards were significantly lighter/more neutral.  My floor is red oak interspersed with white oak.  White oak turns yellow-green when exposed to wood bleach.

Long story short, I panicked and succumbed to the awful tendency to feel bad for taking up someone else's time (even though I am paying him for his time) and picked the natural finish instead of the whitewash I had been hankering after for months and months.

WTF was I thinking?  To be fair, the floor guy said he thought the natural stain was the closest to the photos I had shown him of what I liked/wanted.  And I believed him, probably due at least in part to the fact that I hadn't had lunch yet and it was after lunch time, but also because none of the finishes looked anything like what I wanted and with the pressure of having 12 hours to drastically change expectations that had been simmering for well over a year, I didn't say, "hey, let me think about this for a bit and let you know as soon as I am sure."

The photos at the top was taken the night after the sealer went on.  The first time I looked at the floors, my heart sank.  Objectively, I know these floors are beautiful.  I know it is a luxury to have a house where every room except the bathroom is covered in smooth, fresh wood floor.  I know a lot of people would love to have these floors in their home, but I am not one of those people.  I would never in a million years go into a showroom and pick this flooring for my house, even if it were free and came with a lifetime supply of the best ice cream in the world.

I walked away for a good bit, thinking perhaps my initial reaction was due more to the floors being different than I expected than them actually being awful.  NOPE.

I cried.  I debated whether it was worth calling the company and expressing how bummed I was about the color.  I pouted for an embarassingly long time and said something unnecessarily snappy to H when he got hungry for dinner and started making a cup of noodles (our second year of marriage is looking good!).  I decided, ultimately, to call the floor company.

Mind you--I am not really an asshole.  I never totally grew out of my bratty phase and I generally have pretty specific ideas of what I want, but I also understand those ideas exist in my brain and don't always translate to reality, so I'm deliberate in not holding others to those expectations.  In this case, I knew the floor company had done quality work and had done that work honestly and on-time, and I believed they felt they were crafting beautiful floors that I would love.  However, knowing I'd kick myself if I just let the process go forward, possibly missing an opportunity to rectify the problem, I left a voicemail with the company saying the floors were beautiful but I was super disappointed because they were so much more pink than I had expected based on the sample.  I may or may not have been holding back tears.  I'm sure it sounded pretty pathetic.

I know.  They're floors.  Still, I didn't sleep much that night as I worried about the extra cost of sanding the floors down, worried about the floor company saying, "tough cookies" and having to live with pink floors FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, worried about having to move out of our current house before the new house was being ready due to floor-related delays, worried about why I care so much about flooring options, worried about whether this is a sign that nothing in my life is ever going to go right again.

I inherited this "let's save our worrying for the witching hours" trait from my mother.  Thanks, Mom!

Anyway, long story short (just kidding), the owner called me the following morning before their shop even opened and asked me to go to their office where they had red oak flooring installed with the exact same finish they were applying to mine "just to see."

The floors in their office were beautiful.  They were installed directly next to some ash floors (which is a wood I would have considered were we installing new) and the red oak was strikingly similar to the ash--a tiny bit more yellow, but still very light and neutral and markedly different from the floors in my house.

The owner was so GD nice and patient.  He offered to start over (though I assume it would still--fairly--come out of my pocket) and apply a darker stain to try to neutralize the red but emphasized that with time, my floors should lighten considerably and he felt very strongly that within about six months, they would start to more closely resemble what I was hoping for.

I can't say this made me feel immediately better, as the flooring company's responsibility ends Monday when they put their last coat on and I'm not going to know how these floors are going to end up for another year or so, long after the flooring company is out of the picture.  Yes, I can always start over or choose to install engineered wood over the existing floors.  That outcome just isn't ideal due mostly to cost and the inconvenience of having to move out of our house for a week.  So for the moment, I wait and hope and let my little brain do its magic of growing accustomed to the floors so I don't notice their bothersome hue anymore, at least until (hopefully) that hue changes.

Hopefully it's clear that I feel at least a little self conscious about letting myself become so upset over such a relatively small thing, but the it's not really just about the floors.  It's about moving out of the dream world of Pinteresting my imaginary house and plopping me hard into reality, which is a kind of sucky process.  It's like how you remember your last vacation versus actually being on vacation and starting your period the second day but it's a week early so you didn't bring any tampons and you're somewhere rural and non-English speaking so you have to look up words in your translation dictionary to explain the issue you are having to the young man working the register because the only available sanitary supplies are pads from 1984 and they are on a shelf BEHIND THE COUNTER and and you only brought bikinis to wear because it is a beach vacation and you quickly recall why you started using tampons in the first place because of that one time at summer camp when the super hot camp counselor asked why you couldn't join everyone at the water park.  And then you get an itchy, welty rash all over your tummy and realize you have a severe allergy to mangos and tacos, which is pretty much what's available to eat.  And then you get attacked all over your body by a jellyfish right before you hop on the six hour plane ride home. That vacation is my pink floor saga.  It wasn't bad.  It just didn't quite match up to expectation.

So I keep looking at the floors, giving my brain bits here and there to get used to.  I'm remembering that the purpose of this house isn't to be a dream home but rather the home in which we live the next part of our lives.  I'm remembering that there is an amazing pear tree in the backyard absolutely loaded with fruit, and all of the incredibly nice neighbors have already come over to say hello.  I'm remembering I won't be examining the floors when we have dinner parties or spend Sunday mornings doing the crossword.  The floors matter but they also don't.  I want a very specifically kind of beautiful home, but that idea will evolve as we live there, as ideas do.  And hopefully, fingers and toes crossed, the floors will lighten.  But if they don't, they don't, and the lovely thing about floors is there are lots and lots of options, one of which is to just decide they're fine because they happen to be the floors that live in our perfect little house.

This house feels more like home this week than it did last.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Coming Home

Our new bedroom window, looking out on the fruit trees in our backyard.

As most of you might know, we bought a house.

It was a house we came very close to missing; priced a bit over our budget, it didn't come through the automatic mailings from our realtor of properties coming on the market.  My mom, whom I had repeatedly told, "it's too much" when she would excitedly call me about cute houses she found (whose owners she almost always befriended, hoping it would convince them to sell us their house, and also because the woman flipping loves talking to people), found this one for us.  I at first blew her off but something nudged me to take a peek.  And then another.  And then, nervously, to show H (silly to be nervous--I think he might love it even more than I do).  And then to finally, FINALLY, call our realtor with the news.

This was the house.

It's funny...I didn't subscribe to the idea of just knowing a house was the right house while we were looking.  It seemed an impractical approach for such a big decision, but really, I didn't subscribe to it because none of the houses we had looked at were it.

We made our very best offer (a bit above asking) two days later and three weeks after had the keys.  Props to the team who made that happen for us, for real.

So we've been painting and tearing up carpet and having the floors refinished and dreaming about kitchen remodeling and buying special cat pheromone plug-ins to (hopefully) help the filthy babies with the move.  I was full of steam (tearing out three rooms of carpet and painting every single surface in that house--ceilings included--with my mama in the first week) for a good bit.  And now.  Now the quiet sweetness is settling in, knowing this is home we are going to.

Moving is a funny thing.  I have deeply loved this house that has kept us warm and safe for the past seven years.  It's the house where we have become who we are.  It's the house where I realized every wall needn't be a different color, where I proposed to H and planned our wedding, where two little obnoxious kitties decided they would allow us to be their people, where we've built friendships and prepared Sunday dinners, where we've fought and grown and learned and sighed and laughed and watched way too much fucking Netflix TV.  This house is in a neighborhood that has become exponentially better over the past seven years, so much so that I was at first convinced we needed to stay here to continue to be a part of what is happening (it's okay--it will happen without us and we will celebrate it all the same).  As excited and ready as I am to move to this new home, this new chapter, as excited as I am to notice what changes it carries into our lives, I leave our current home with the deepest, sweetest gratitude.

So we will hopefully be moved next week.  We're waiting on the floor refinishers to finish their work.  We've been starting to move some less important things over as we are able.  I started scrubbing cabinets in our current house today and will clean out the closets this weekend.  It is happening.

I have not made a secret of the fact that this year has been what I might generously call a "growing year."  It has been harder than I admitted even to myself, for fear admitting the difficulty was also admitting a small doubt of my ability to not be lessened by it.  As I neared my birthday on June 20th, before we knew of this house, I was ready to chalk the year to up to one that wasn't intended to bring joy but rather learning and introspection, hoping within that acceptance that my next year would be different.  And then the house came a bit more than a week before my birthday and I realized the year had started with a marriage and ended with a home--two hugely happy, long-awaited events that sandwiched some growth I don't think I'll fully comprehend for a good long while.

Not bad for year 28.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Vacation in a Shut Down City

So, we just got back from Portland, one of our very very favorite cities to visit.  The trip planning was initiated by my work sending me to PDX to attend a conference.  Since H and I haven't really had an opportunity to get away together for, oh, fifteen thousand years, I bought him a ticket to go with me, thinking we'd have a nice weekend with some exploring, reconnecting, beer-drinking and maybe a Laurelhurst movie thrown in.

When I received an e-mail Thursday afternoon that my conference might be cancelled due to inclement weather, I laughed, thinking the conference organizers were pulling a Chicken Little.  When snowy photos started popping up on Facebook from friends in Portland, I got excited for a cozy weekend with just enough snow to make the all the coffee we were planning to drink taste extra yum.  When I got confirmation that my conference was definitely cancelled, I felt a hot minute of "is this a good idea?" before texting H that "yay!  we get a real weekend away!"

So we packed our down jackets and wool socks and hopped on a plane.

My boldness is evidence of a potentially awesome, potentially pain-in-the-ass cockiness that growing up in the smack middle of Alaska has given me.  Guys.  Portland was SHUT THE FUNK DOWN last weekend.  Hand written "CLOSED.  Stay safe!" notes in the doors of 98% of shops and restaurants.  The cute little refurbished trailer we had rented for lodging became unavailable last minute due to being frozen like an accidental igloo.  Waiting in 16° (Fahrenheit, not Celsius) temps under a magical and seemingly impossible combination of snow and nearly freezing rain with wet tingly toes for buses that never came.  Our favorite book store that is open on CHRISTMAS closing at 2:00 in the afternoon to allow its employees to get home safely.  One solitary bagel for sale  at the only open coffee shop we could find when all the breakfast places we went to were closed for the weather.  Cab companies refusing to take us to the airport when the buses and Max lines were cancelled.  It was just like vacationing in the Walking Dead, no joke (joking).

And somehow it was just exactly perfect.

It was us being together and problem solving and taking care of each other and having adventures and being flexible and sleeping 11 hours each night and eating a lot of pizza and hop skip jumping between open establishments and H giving me his extra down jacket to wear over my down jacket when he could see me shivering and eating ice cream while watching the snow fall and that amazing feeling of finding warmth after cold and the seeing people ski down city streets and taking risks and just being completely in the moment every moment.

It all so easily could have created fodder for arguments and frustration and disappointment, but instead it created an experience that reminded us there is something beyond expectation.  And while I was ever so grateful to slip into a much needed hot bath when we got home last night, the tingling toes were worth a weekend thinking only of the moment we were in.

Portland, stay safe.  I hope you thaw quickly.  We will see you again in July.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Life Changing Goal Setting

I don't know what kind of juice I was on last week, but I was completely and totally pumped.  24/7.  I WAS GOING TO DO ALL OF IT.

This weekend?  Womp womp.  Womp.

I've spent 70% of it in my happy chair with either a cup of tea or a cocktail by my side, zoning out and feeling like, "uh, what was I doing again?"

We all have these cycles, yes?  I'd think it fair to assume most of us would rather have the "oh my god life is AWESOME and I have so much ENERGY and I'm going to learn and do ALL THE THINGS."  And then when that crashes, as it does, we might slide into feeling we're unproductive or unmotivated or some other "un" that has a socially unacceptable "you're not really that awesome" tinge to it.

FUNK that.

Hopefully it goes without saying, but those happy chair weekends are pretty great for the space they leave open and I can't help but think there's some body repairing magic happening that will allow us to be catapulted into the crazy awesome again when the time comes--a sick body doesn't exactly contribute to the "life is awesome" vibe, am I right?  At least, that's what I tell myself about sitting around in stretch pants all weekend: I'm creating vibrant, sparkling health.

That self-fooling aside, the past week was so rad.  I was just so inspired.  Like ALL THE TIME.  And that led to me feeling very happy and very much "I'm not stuck.  I can totally follow my heart and turn this ship in another direction."  Goodness, what a great feeling.  And I'm glad I felt it, because you know what?  I am totally not stuck and I can totally turn this ship in another direction.  I just needed to feel that in my heart.  And last week gave me a big feel-it-in-every-cell hurrah.  Not that I necessarily changed the world or quit my job or landed some amazing interior-designer, party-planner, blogger to the stars gig.  But the feeling is ultimately what I'm chasing here, not the title or the xyz on my resume, so I'll take it.  Lots of it, please.

So now what?

I think it's clear to you and me that what's happening right now ain't workin', at least not on the "I can do this and be giddy about it for a lifetime" front.  It's working very well in some ways (hello health insurance, financial security and house-buying plans), and I'm stoked on that.  Hell, it's even working pretty well on driving deep into me a desire to go in a different direction, which is pretty great in its silver lining way.  But what now?

"What now" is concrete actions.  No more twiddling my thumbs and talking like a big shot about what I want to do.  "What now" is laying a foundation so when those jobs come up and they say, "must know Adobe suite" or "must include portfolio" or "must have sequined shoes," I'll be like, "is that all?" instead of "agh I can't do it!  Where are my comfort cookies?!"

I think part of what's been holding me back is (this won't surprise anybody who's spent two minutes with my indecisive self), I don't know exactly what it is I'm working towards.  I have a feeling I'm chasing.  I have a general idea (design, aesthetics, logistics, writing, communicating, preferably lots of online shopping), but I don't have a handle on how to get there or even how to identify the markers that tell me which trail to hop on.  Hence the happy chair; it's a nice, safe place.  A nice, safe place I could probably stay in for the next 40 years and be equally disappointed when Monday brings another six pack of the same old thing.

I know this is totally trite, but it occurred to me today that if I don't do something different now, when am I going to do it?  After retirement?  Because as far as I can see, that's pretty much the only time in my future when I can expect a huge swath of time to open up and I will have endless amounts of money and energy (ahem) to spend on pursuing a total life turnaround.  You know what's scarier than jumping into a new, amorphous career when you're 27 with a brand spankin' new master's degree that you probably won't use?  Doing it when you're 65 with 40 years of an identity-defining career behind you and a resume that boxes you into a very specific ability range that has nothing to do with what your heart really wants.  I've spent a lot of time thinking it would all someday get easier.  It won't.


Even though I don't know where all this is headed, I think it's safe to assume doing something is better than doing nothing; I'm willing to trust the puzzle pieces will fit together much more clearly in a few years than they ever will now, as much time as I might invest in trying to logic this whole mofo out.  Sometimes we just have to do, even when we don't have a career track pasted into a nice tidy spreadsheet.

This week I'm planning to get in touch with a career counselor recommended by a friend.  I've been playing with this idea for several months but figured I'd just bumble through on my own. You know what?  That's dumb.  I've been in therapy a few times before and it's kind of the best.  Even though I believe myself to have above-average insight into my own shit, what that really means is I usually have my head stuck up my over-educated tuchus and my believing I have it all together is actually preventing me from having any insight at all.  An outside perspective is nice and more often than not, necessary to changing with intention rather than going where the current sends us.  Would my hot hedonistic little self rather buy a few extra pairs of shoes instead of spending that moolah on a counselor?  Do you even know me?  But my wiser self knows I'll get more bang for my buck with an investment in my life rather than in pretty feet.  Also, we're moving soon and H will be pissed if I buy one more item that will have to be schlepped into our (as yet unidentified) future house.  (I bought a pair of new lamps the other day.  We only have space for one in our current house but as I explained to H, in our new house we might need two lamps, so I bought them both.  He made fun of me for about a half hour until he got hungry and refocused his energy on trying to get me to make some dinner.)

I'm also going to download Working with Passion to read.  Truth?  I had an intense self-help phase in my teens and have not been able to get more than a quarter of the way through anything that twinkles of being self-help since.  But this book was specifically recommended by a friend who made the leap from a "should" job into a passion job, so I'm trying it.  I will read this damn book if I have to drink an extra cocktail every night to withstand the torture.

Finally, I'm going to exercise a wee bit more.  In the most perfect of perfect weeks, I move my bod maybe 5 times, including a couple of Pilates classes, maybe a hilly speedwalk, a bike ride, a yoga class...last week was notta so good.  I was inspired and I wanted to be on Pinterest, end of story.  But I tend to be much more clear headed and centered with a little more movement, so in addition to my base of two Pilates classes, I'm shooting for a hilly walk and a Booty Barre sesh.  Yep, I do old school aerobics.  No, you can not watch.

That's it.  I think it's enough to give me a little kick in the caboose.  Will check in soon.

Even though nobody comments, I know y'all are reading, and I appreciate it.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

House Hunting, For Reals


This is a major lifelong dream for me and now that it's happening I'm like, "uhhhh, what?!"  Funny how so often the dream is so much prettier than reality (reality being looking at houses with built in cement planters in the living room, among other cute little details).

We kinda sorta started looking last November, including getting pre-approved for a loan and starting to work with a realtor two sets of friends recommended, but honestly?  The housing market has sucked pretty hard for the past few months.  Like, there were three houses on the market that fit our parameters and one of them was the size of my pinkie and one of them had a full on sunken living room, a front door that opened up directly to a wall, a fully covered patio (only problem was the cover was about 5'6" high) and strange very much not 90° angles where the walls met (the 1970's were a groovy time for home design).  The third we didn't even bother looking at.  Oh, and all three of these houses were about 30,000 over our (I don't think I'm crazy to think it's reasonable) budget.


In all seriousness, I wasn't ready to buy then, and I knew it.  I didn't need to be turning my nest heels over ass amidst all the other crazy soul searching that's gone on the past several months.  I needed a home, a warm place to retreat to where I've already figured out all the furniture, we have our art on the walls, I can make myself a cocktail with my eyes closed because everything has been in the same spot for the last five years.  Some people can have all their sh*t be all crazy at the same time and still feel like everything's great.  I'm not one of those people.  I can give up my comfort object and sippy cup, just not at the same time.

So it's secretly (in the, "I'm posting this on the internet" kind of way) good that the buyer's market has been in the toilet for the past several months.

But guys.  We went in a house today and I could picture how I'd redo the floors (or, you know, put floors in because apparently the houses in our price range don't come with floors), how I'd arrange furniture...I started thinking about how it was good the house had two bathrooms because that would allow us to reno one at a time while still having another functional bathroom.  I started dreaming, immediately, hard.  And instead of thinking about the loss of leaving our current home, the place that has housed us through the past six years, I was thinking about how exciting it will be to have a HUGE MOTHERF*CKING SUPER MONEY PIT PROJECT HOUSE to stress over for the next decade.  We've turned the critical corner.

This is happening.  I'm ready.  H is ready (H has been ready ever since I went to the dark side and agreed we probably need a two car garage, which I will never in all my days actually be able to park my car in because it isn't actually a garage, it's a workshop, despite the fact that some people may or may not call the entrance a "garage door.").  Everything is in order.  Houses are starting to come onto the market more regularly, and some of those houses seem like they could become homes, and maybe one of those will be the house we end up buying.

So, spill.  What do we need to consider?  Anything you wish you had known before buying?  Anything to watch out for?  How do we know it's "the house"?  How do we decide how much is too much in terms of taking on renovations?  How do we decide when to expand or stick to our budget?  Do we prioritize house or neighborhood?  How do we convince sellers to let us buy their house instead of sending it to the dark world of cash investors?   How do you not lose your brains in this process?  Is it all just a matter of luck and I really just need to unbunch my panties and ride the waves?  TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.

This is a good thing.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Clean Skincare Routine

I've had a pretty dedicated skin routine since I started using anti-wrinkle night cream and daily sunscreen at the age of 12 (what, I was a neurotic kid).  I've always loved taking care of my skin, not only to appease my raging vanity but also because it's a nice little way to check out from the world and do something very basic and self-nurturing every day.

During my teenage save-the-world phase (which involved lots of dirty hair and Thai pants), I was pretty rigid (and self-righteous) about using only "natural" beauty products.  (Scare quotes=now understanding that lots of seemingly clean products are just as toxic as drugstore stuff, just with uglier labeling.  Just because Whole Foods sells it doesn't mean it's not toxic as hell.)  In my early twenties, driven by a very tight budget and frustration with supposedly green products that just didn't work, I went back to my drugstore brands and found a decent regimen I liked and stuck with for a few years.  But then I kept catching snippets here and there about the problems with synthetic chemicals used in beauty products and at some point it clicked (even though I'd heard it a million times before) that everything I put on my skin makes its way fairly quickly into my bloodstream, and eventually I started scouting around again for clean products.  This time, with access to the beautiful beautiful internet, I was better able to research products that were actually non-toxic (or relatively so) and that worked just as well or better than synthetic brands.  No More Dirty LooksSkin Deep and Makeup Alley helped me figure out what to try and I've been able to find a routine I genuinely enjoy using that does what I need it to do (mostly prevent acne and dry skin).

Note: I'm not an anti-chemical crusader.  I just figured since someday I want to have a baby with only two arms and I already have some hormone imbalances going on, it might be wise to move in the direction of putting fewer synthetics in my body on the daily.  I'm pretty enthusiastic about how these products work and recommend them even to those lovelies who could give two sh*ts about synthetics in their beauty routines.

Face Wash: Raw Honey

I've been using raw honey as a face wash since January 2013.  I used to suffer through the winter with horribly dry, flaky skin.  Switching from a traditional cleanser to honey made a huge, almost immediate difference.  It doesn't strip my skin at all but it seems to clean it pretty thoroughly.  Reportedly, its antibacterial properties help prevent and heal acne and its mild graininess provides some gentle exfoliation (some people add a bit of baking soda to their honey for more exfoliation.  I tried that once and it turned me into a hot, scratched up mess).  I use it every night before bed by swiping it on dry skin and rubbing it in for 30 seconds or so, then letting it sit on my face while I brush my teeth before rinsing it off with warm water.  It doesn't leave my skin squeaky clean, but that's exactly what I want--I cherish those precious skin oils!  If I'm especially grimy, I might mix in a drop of liquid Dr. Bronner's and work the lot into a wet face like a traditional foaming cleanser.  It doesn't remove makeup; for that, I use whatever face oil I have on hand--coconut or argan--before cleansing with the honey.  Lots of people will tell you you need to use fancy pants Manuka honey.  I haven't used it because a) I don't want to drop a lot of cash on something that stays on my face for only 2 minutes and b) I'm happy with my TJ's $6 raw honey.  Either way, it's a pretty nurturing but effective way to take care of the cleaning part.

Sunscreen and Day Moisturizer: Suntegrity

Hot damn do I love Suntegrity.  I've used a lot of facial moisturizer/sunscreen combos and Suntegrity cleans the clock of those other brands.  It's a moisturizer and primer with SPF 30 and I LOVE IT SO SO SO MUCH--I'm on my fifth bottle and haven't been even mildly tempted to look at any other sunscreen.  I'm somewhat prone to clogged pores and I haven't gotten a single breakout from using this (word on the street is the zinc it contains might actually help prevent breakouts?  I dunno.).  It sinks in beautifully and is perfectly moisturizing but non-greasy and even though it is zinc oxide based, it doesn't leave my skin with a white cast.  It's a little 'spensive, but in my opinion, a good sunscreen that I actually want to use even on cloudy days is worth it.  It's also got the EWG seal of approval, coming at as their top moisturizer with SPF for the last three consecutive years.

Night Moisturizer Brick House: Argan Oil

Prior to trying argan oil, I was freaked out by the idea of slapping oil directly on my face; a brief fling a few years ago with the oil cleansing method left me with an acne party that took several weeks to clear up.  Then a few years ago argan oil hit it big on the beauty product publicity circuit as the magical cure-all for skin and I bought it hard.  I love the stuff.  Part of what helped me take the leap from "don't let oil anywhere near my face" to a hefty nightly slathering of the stuff for the past 18 months was that everything they say about argan oil is true.  My breakouts have dramatically lessened and when I do get a little zit friend, argan seems to help it heal faster than it otherwise would.  As far as anti-aging, I'm 27 so I have no idea.  It feels good, though, and does it job of keeping me moisturized and balanced, so I'm happy.  Oh, and while there are lots of super expensive argan oils out there, I've been pretty happy with this stuff.  It's insanely reasonable and it gets the job done (note: I also love this as an addition to a hair mask, but that's a post for another time).

Night Moisturizer Runner Up: Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

In hopes of finding something that did a little more work (i.e. gave me the ever elusive fairy princess skin), I strayed from the argan and have been using this product nightly for about four months (I'm still on my first bottle).  While I like it, I don't know if I'll repurchase, as I haven't noticed any major results beyond basic moisturizing.  It doesn't break me out and it doesn't leave me dry, but I was hoping it would help with turnover and brighten my skin up a bit due to the higher concentration of retinols. I like it okay and am happy enough finishing this bottle; I'll just be on the hunt for something with a little more zing once this guy's empty.

Intensive Night Moisturizer: Evening Primrose Oil

I started taking this internally (two capsules per day) last spring in an effort to clear up my hormonal acne before our wedding (which worked beautifully and I've kept the habit up).  I don't know where I picked up  the idea of puncturing the capsules to use the oil as a facial moisturizer, but it's a favorite for when my skin is extra dry or I've just used an intensive exfoliating mask.  This tends to break me out if I use it multiple nights in a row, but as a once per week thing it gives me a nice boost and lets me wake up with soft, plump, glowing skin.

Exfoliating Mask: Arbonne Cellular Renewal Mask

Eep.  Yes, one of my very favorite skin care products requires participating in multilevel marketing.  But this mask is my holy grail.  It's ridiculously exfoliating and feels like what I imagine a baby chemical peel would feel like without the ensuing days of redness and peeling.  I was super reluctant to participate in Arbonne's MLM, but a friend of mine loaned me her Cellular Renewal Mask last winter when I was kvetching about how uncomfortably dry, tight and flaky my skin felt and I was an immediate goner.  One use took care of the peeling and got rid of the nasty skin build up that had been preventing my moisturizers from working.  I ordered one immediately and have been using it weekly since.  It's basically a facial in a bottle and beats the pants off of any other exfoliation method or mask I've ever used.  I used it before bed and leave it on for about 20-25 minutes (longer than recommended, but my skin isn't at all sensitive).  I follow with evening primrose oil or Tata Harper's Wild Plum Resurfacing Mask (below).  It leaves me pretty red initially but I wake up with glowy lovely skin the day after and notice a huge improvement in my skin after a few weeks of regular use (i.e. fewer breakouts, more smoothness).  I love this stuff and just bought my third pot of it.  Like some of my other favorites, it's a little expensive but I've found each pot to last about 6 months with weekly use.

Magical Mask: Tata Harper Wild Plum Resurfacing Mask (Limited Edition)

This one's a newbie--I just bought it last month after everybody would not shut up about how amazing it is.  I usually use it after the Arbonne Cellular Renewal Mask (above) and leave it on all night as an intensive treatment.  It's kind of amazing.  It's very gentle but seems to completely smooth out, refresh and plump up my skin making it look glowy like I just came off of a yoga retreat in Bali.  I've been using it once a week for the past month-ish and think I'll probably repurchase the regular version when I run out.

Serum: Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum (or, I can't believe I'm admitting I spent this much on some goo)

I was pretty happy with my simple honey+sunscreen+argan oil regime for quite awhile but felt like I wanted a little something more.  I spent a few months lazily looking for a serum to add to my routine and even tried a few samples, but nothing seemed to do much for me so I called off the search.  I use Tata's Aromatic Irritability Treatment as a perfume (olfactory heaven in a bottle) and ordered a refill in December.  With my order came samples for three of their facial serums.  I didn't expect much in just two uses (I usually give a new product a couple of months to decide whether or not I like it) but was immediately impressed by how well these mofos worked.  Granted, the one I liked the best is a leetle out of my price range, but I was pretty in love with this (very slightly) more reasonable one.  Guys, I've never even considered spending even half this amount on this type of skin care product, but for whatever reason (existential crisis?) I ended up forking it over and have been using this for the past month.  Can I say first that this bottle is kind of huge and I fully expect it to last me at least through late summer?  But also, it actually does stuff for my skin.  It brightens me up significantly and gives my skin a radiance it doesn't naturally have.  I'm hoping that over time it does some other voodoo skin stuff but I won't get into that.  Could I do without this serum?  Definitely.  Do I kind of love using it?  Um, yes I really love it a lot.  Do I believe it's more worth it than a lot of cheaper bunk serums that are basically liquid plastic?  Yah.  Whether or not anybody else thinks its worth it is up to them, but I'm happy with it and there's a good chance I'll repurchase. 

The Fix All: Kuumba Made Healing Salve

This is not the most glamorous or exciting thing in the world but I've been using this particular brand of salve for 8+ years and it does the job. I use it on cuts, burns, scars, cuticles, ingrown hairs, blemishes (both new ones and healing ones) and as a lip balm.  I also rub a bit into my hands before bed for some intensive healing/moisture and use it as an eye makeup remover as well as a night time eye cream.  It has all kinds of good hippie herby stuff in it and does seem to help things heal more quickly than other salves I've used.  I always have a pot of it by my bed and usually use it multiple times a day.  Kind of the modern version of petroleum jelly.

So that's it!  Do you use any of these products?  Any recs for other clean products to try?


Thursday, January 16, 2014


Folks.  It's just keeps on keeping on.  If I'm being honest, there's been some reluctance over the past several months to come here to typety-type my heart out because, well, I'm still climbing up the mountain and I haven't yet caught sight of the top.  I so want to avoid becoming one of those people who a) completely identifies with my job and b) persistently complains about my job, but I also think the practice keeping silent about the tough stuff is kind of bullshit.  I'm not saying my tough stuff is special; I'm just saying we all have our ways of figuring out the "what are you going to do about it" part.  In large part, I write because it's my favorite path to making sense of things, but I also write because I believe in the very tippy reaches of my soul it's all part of the human experience and I want somebody, somewhere, to read this and understand in her heart that she is not alone and it will get better.  I believe that for myself and I believe that for you, too.

In the meanwhile, though...gosh, there are a lot of hard days in these months.

Here's the thing: I'm not complaining about my job.  It's not the job.  It's where I am in my life, in my growth.  It's being caught between feeling certain I took the wrong exit somewhere along the line and am hundreds of miles away from where I am supposed to be and feeling equally certain that in 10 years, where I am now will make perfect sense.  It's feeling so deeply and utterly grateful for a dependable paycheck and work that keeps me engaged and feeling equally deeply and utterly sure there's gotta be something more.  It's feeling tired, and not in the way that gets fixed with one long sleep.  It's feeling insecure, feeling I made my bed and now I have to sleep in it.  It's feeling so desperately desperately that I want to create beauty in this world but having no idea how I do that.  It's wanting to fulfill the long held dream of buying a house and knowing a big fat part of being able to do that is having a certain kind of job.  It's adjusting to a radically different lifestyle than I've ever known (hello, sitting all day!).  It's valuing security over exploration one day and valuing exploration over security the next.  It is, ultimately, feeling the heavy weight of an unknown future.  It is so many things.

And each one is valid, and each one is good, and it all sometimes feels very hard and very scary, and I often wonder how long until I have completely lost myself.

Guys.  I am not hinting at needing a rescue.  You wouldn't do that to me because you know and I know I am exactly where I ought to be, and each of us will go through some iteration of this several times in our lives (if we're lucky).  And each time we go through it, maybe unless we someday become very wise, we will want it to be over, we will want to escape from it.  And the ways we try to make that happen only stall the process: we invalidate our questioning, we drink too much, we shut down, we succumb to the  mundane, we tell ourselves we'll have more time to be our true selves in the future, we shut ourselves down with "it could be worse," we run away instead of towards, we substitute others' dreams for our own...we do all of these because we forget that the only way out is through.

As I have swum around in this pool of "where the hell is this all going?" I've started to notice that I'm drawn to certain ideas, certain people, certain sources of inspiration even when I'm tired (what you choose to do when you're tired says a lot about what drives you!).  I'm a big blog reader--there are at least 10 that I check in on regularly and most of them focus on design and living a beautiful life.  One that has quietly moved to my daily check in list is Design Love Fest.  And while I was initially drawn to Bri's blog because of her aesthetic, I've become more strongly drawn to it because I want her job.  I want to do creative work, to make beautiful things, to host events and teach and write and share inspiration, and even though being able to do all of that probably also means late nights and heavy deadlines, I still want it.  And it feels completely terrifying to say that.  Why is that?  Why is it so scary to say out loud what we want?

It's scary because you're not supposed to go to graduate school to figure out what you don't want to do.  It's scary because we have cultural stories that set strict parameters around when it is okay to start over.  It's scary because there are bills that keep showing up in our mailboxes every month.  It's scary for a whole lot of reasons that probably boil down to doubting our own abilities to make awesome things happen in our lives.

I can't promise you it will work, whatever "it" is for you.  I wish I could, but that would be robbing you of the richness of not knowing and doing it anyway.  If I could, I can almost guarantee I'd be writing on a different theme in this particular moment.

Most days, I want it all to just make sense.  I want that security of knowing what the next logical thing is.  But right now I know, and I hope you know with me, it does make sense, just maybe not to the current versions of ourselves.

So now I'm considering either taking a metals class in preparation for future welding classes, or I might sign up for beginning graphic design.  I'm being deliberate in reaching out to what inspires me even when my be-inspired button is broken.  I'm putting my intention out into the world that I'm open to the next good thing, even though I don't exactly have a clear picture of what that is.  I'm getting really, really good at keeping my head above water even when I feel like I'm wearing a lead vest.  I can only imagine that will make me an excellent swimmer when I find a favorable current.

Thank you, as ever, for reading my words.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Real Jobs Series: Jojo Schwartz Jacobson, adjunct professor and more

I met Jojo in 2004 when I was hired for my first "real" job (i.e. not nannying or selling cakes out of my parents' kitchen).  Jojo is...I don't have any idea how to describe Jojo and I tip my hat to anybody who can sum this lady up with words.  I will say that I adore and admire her and am thrilled she answered my prying questions.
Tell us a little about the various iterations of your career aspirations:
When I was a kid I wanted to be a circus clown. Then an actress. Then an architect. Then a writer. Then I really didn’t know. Then when I was in college I realized I was good at teaching, but I didn’t want to teach high school kids, and I didn’t want to teach college kids either. I realized that community college people aren’t spoiled brats, so I thought “hey! maybe that’s a good idea!” And then I realized that you only need a Master’s degree to teach at community college, so I was sold.
What has been your work history to this point?
I was a camp counselor and a lifeguard/swim coach during summers in high school, and I also taught religious school to kindergarteners on weekends. It looked disparate, but all of those things involved teaching kids. In college I worked at Deux Gros Nez and I was also a tutor at the Writing Center at TMCC. After college I went to Korea and taught English for a year. After that, I went to Boston for grad school. During grad school, I tutored writing at the local community college. It was a good foot in the door, so when I got my MA in English, I started teaching classes at the community college immediately.
Current job title(ish).
Adjunct professor, and part time academic success coach under the PRESS grant
How many hours are dedicated to your job each week?
teaching: 12. Prep time/grading: 9ish because I’m lazy. Grant work/meetings/emails: 10. TOTAL: 31ish
Do you have flexibility in your schedule?
Yes, regarding grant stuff. Not with teaching.
How did you get to this job (college, previous jobs, word of mouth, responding to call for applications, just applied, built the business myself, sold into slavery, etc.)?
Just applied to the tutoring job while in grad school, then word of mouth for teaching because I was already at the institution.
Is a job in this field something you specifically pursued (i.e. I would have taken any job vs. I only applied for jobs in this field vs. it kind of just fell into my lap vs. I never in a million years could have predicted I’d be here)?
I worked towards this for a while, so I guess I only applied for this job? But I also would have taken a variety of other jobs… I could have done community organizing or something more activisty/political.
What factors played into you taking this job (passion, schedule, pay, etc.)?
schedule, pay, and respect. I like that when you’re a professor, the outside world doesn’t think you’re a slacker or an idiot. I like that while you’re teaching, people don’t talk down to you the way they talk down to secretaries/servers/etc.
Is the job what you expected (both in practical terms, like expected tasks, and emotional terms, like does it fulfill you as you thought it would)?
This job is definitely as fulfilling as I hoped, but there’s no room to become a full time professor. Not having benefits isn’t something I expected. It’s sometimes more exhausting than I expected and sometimes less exhausting than I expected, depending on the week. This week it’s exhausting because it’s late in the semester. I didn’t expect the complete lack of job security.
Income(ish)?  Feel free to include non-money types of compensation.
Very roughly, $25,000- $35,000 a year, if I get three classes per semester plus about 15 hours of paid grant work, which I usually do. There’s no job security though, so I might end up SOL next semester. Cost of living is high in Boston, so if I were doing this elsewhere I’d probably get paid less.
Outline for us an average work day for you
Get to work at 8:15, make a handout of notes for the 9am class on the office computer, make photocopies. Wait to see if the student who made the 8:30 appointment shows up. They never do. Teach from 9:00 to 10:20. Meet with a colleague regarding our joint class from 10:30 to 11:30. The latter half of that meeting is spent complaining about students and colleagues we don’t like.
11:30- 1:00, grade papers, write emails to students, make lesson plan for tomorrow’s classes.
1:00-2:30, Maybe a meeting regarding grant work (depending on the week), discuss training tutors to be more effective, listen to old people who have job security blather on about nothing, roll eyes at other young colleagues.
2:30- 4:30 Have meetings with students, listen to stuff in their lives, give them advice about transferring to 4 year universities, give them advice about how to get tutoring and other resources at the community college. Write emails to other professors about grant work while waiting for students to show up. Feel overwhelmed when more students email me. Put off emailing students. Check facebook.  
4:30- Maybe some paperwork, go home.
(This is a Monday or Wednesday. On a Tuesday or Thursday, I’d start teaching at noon, and then I’d have another class from 6pm to 9pm. Fridays I have off usually, unless I have a meeting.)
How much of your energy do you invest into your job?  Do you feel like it’s a good trade for you?
I invest not much physical energy, but I invest a lot of emotional/intellectual energy in my job. I usually feel like it’s a good trade. I’m glad I don’t spend all day in a cubicle or doing lots of manual labor.
Is there room in your job for personal progress or promotion?  Is that something that’s important to you or that you seek out?
There’s the illusion that adjuncts can get full time work, but it’s not actually possible for 99% of us. I don’t like that. I want more job security. I’m trying to do more administrative things so that I can move forward in my career… If I didn’t think I was moving forward, I’d be less happy. It wouldn’t be a dealbreaker, but still, I’d be frustrated.
What are some things you find fulfilling about your job?
Students say “thank you” a lot. I have a lot of face to face work, and I get to see lightbulbs go off.
What are some things that you find challenging about your job (not in a “yay!  I’m being challenged and I’m growing!” but the annoying “I wish I didn’t have to deal with this” way.)
When older colleagues think they know everything but are in fact quite out of touch. I hate it. They make everything worse, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I just have to hope they retire and/or die.
Do you see yourself in this job/with this company/in this field in 5-10 years?  Why or why not?
In this field, yes. I like higher ed. In this job? I hope not. I want to transition to be more of an administrator--I want to supervise and coordinate tutors. If I were more of an administrator, I’d have more job security, and I’d probably be paid more.
Is this what you want to do?  Aka is this “the” job?
Not quite. It’s almost “the” job. If my grant work and my teaching were combined into one position with benefits and job security, it might be “the” job.
Do you feel like you have a relatively balanced life?  If so, what do you think helps you feel that way?  If not, what do you think would need to change for you to feel that way?
Mostly yes. My partner is still in grad school, so I don’t see her enough and she doesn’t help out around the house enough. I hope that changes in two years when she’s done with school.
Of the five markers of a quality life (positive emotion, engagement, relationship, meaning, achievement), which does your job allow you to fulfill?  Does your job allow you enough time/energy to fulfill the other ones in your free time?
Emotion, engagement, and meaning: mostly. Relationships: somewhat. I don’t have a lot of coworker relationships because teaching is by nature a sort of lonely profession. I get student-teacher relationships, but there are boundaries with that because of the power dynamic. Achievement: not so much, and my work takes up enough time and energy so that I don’t really have much time to look for other jobs to get that achievement part fulfilled.
What are your general thoughts about work/this job/life?  
It takes a certain type of person to survive and thrive in this job. I’m mostly that person… but not for my whole life. I have to make sure I keep looking for administrative stuff to do.
Free style (anything else you feel compelled to explain/share):
I don’t really have time… I have to go to a meeting!