Thursday, November 30, 2006

California, how do I love thee?

I am craving cobb salad, and guacamole, and california rolls.

Me wants avocado.

Evidently I need some "good fats" in my system. Also, blue cheese (hence the cobb salad).

Maybe I am moving up my grad school application plans. Which would mean maybe I am taking a class starting in February. Hmmm. I need to figure out if this comes under the category of "overloading myself".

Monday, November 20, 2006

I should be packing

But I just finished my statistics homework earlier than usual, Matt's gone to the corner to buy cola (for to put some rum in it), and I just had two tequila-lemonades and am feeling relaxed and happy, and altogether not focused enough to make practical clothing decisions for the next week in Pennsylvania, let alone decide which CDs I want to take on the plane with me. Yes I said CDs. I have no iPod or similar, I am still using CDs and my lovely noise-canceling headphones, which are the best thing for making plane travel bearable. I didn't realize until the first transatlantic trip with the new headphones how much of the discomfort of travel is involved with the white noise of the jet engines. At least for me.

Things are settling down from the past month of job insecurity and wonderings. Matt starts his new job Dec 8th, between now and then we have a week in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, and then he's going to be using up his vacation hours from the "old" job until he starts his new one. He's already getting a significant raise, and today his new supervisor said "oh, HR has you set at a lower salary than the minimum for your job title, we'll have to fix that" totally matter of fact, since he's already taken the job for sure. If she sets it to the range she's referring to, technically, I won't have to work. So this means grad school for me is completely financially viable.

Holy Crap.

This time last year I decided that I would go to grad school. Right away. GRE in January. Application submitted in March. Start classes in September. Leap up and fling myself into a new path! Then I got a cancer diagnosis that January and cancelled my GRE test.

So now I am trying to maintain calm while planning my future path. I have substandard grades from my BSc, so I need to take the first class on my target Masters degree program, and get an A in it, to supplement my application. I need to take the GRE, and do well in it, to counteract my grades from 1998-2001. I need to work on a fantastic application essay, and schmooze some great referral letters from high muck-a-mucks a the university. All of these are attainable, but I have decided to take them one at a time, and to tackle them after I take a break to focus on myself and build a stable foundation for all of this work. I'm still struggling with depression. When I brought this up to Matt he agreed that giving myself the next 6 months to focus on counseling and getting to the gym, making the next half year or so about taking good care of myself, that it could pay dividends for years to come.

Pay your self first.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Down? Up?

So the management thing is looking more promising to go through, apart from the internal hire/promotion freeze that goes into effect in Matt's company tomorrow. Which means he's getting the job, but in mid January, after we get back from Thanksgiving, and he burns through the rest of his vacation time, he gets to go on leave without pay and we get to tap our emergency fund for mortgage money. Thankfully we have an emergency fund. This does allow more time for other job possibilities to come to fruition, he was sort of being rushed into this gig because his supervisor wanted to keep him in the company. Still, sucks to be off the payroll just in time for Christmas, even if it does mean he gets a little extra unpaid vacation in the mix.

Me? I'm casting about to see what my option are/would be if I end up making a change. I keep thinking "grad school" then wanting to hide under something. What if I don't get accepted? What if I DO get accepted and crash and burn like the BSc that nearly-never-was? It's hard to imagine finding another position with all the good aspects that I have here, my job title often gets lumped in as a brainless wage-slave who gets handed the shitwork and the benchwork, but not permitted or expected to actively participate in the science. Most of this is probably the depression talking. Now that I know it's there, and that it does a lot of the talking, I'm more aware as it's happening. That doesn't seem to make it go away, I just get upset that I'm getting upset and off I go into a spiral. I'm sure the spiralling is fuelled by the double dose of uncertainty regarding our household income(s) right now. I just need to crowbar myself some breathing space to get a handle on some basic things that will help me get out of this vicious cycle and start making real progress towards stability.

Monday, November 13, 2006

No wonder my head hurts

I just spent all morning updating my lab notebook, it was only a week's worth of stuff, but somehow I managed to run upwards of seven procedures for 3 different projects, plus supervising students in another project. That's more like a normal 2-3 weeks worth of stuff. Now I don't feel so silly for feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed out for the past 10 days.

Our flat is still in chaos, the purge cleared out a lot of stuff that needed clearing, but we still haven't reorganized what's left behind. Also, I may need to be job hunting soon, or in the next couple of months, or in 6 months, or not at all. I don't know either way, but it's shaken me up, since I have the stable job, Matt has the laid-off-every-3-years job. I will say more when I know more, but I don't know when that will be.

Speaking of which, he's getting laid off. Or would be if he hadn't already been given the heads up by his supervisor and started looking for other positions within his company that he could transfer into. He's already been picked for one and we're now waiting to hear what the salary is supposed to be. The thing is, it's a management position, which is a great career step for him, but it's absolutely shitty hours, and we have heard there's a possibility they will try to get him to do the management job at his current pay scale. Which, frankly, is not worth it. So we are waiting to hear about the salary because that will tell us if it's going to be a 21% raise (you read that right), management track career boost, but we will only see each other on weekends...Or if he's going to turn it down and continue to look for work outside his current company.

I'm torn. The size of the potential raise would make a huge difference to us, we'd be able to travel as well as save for the future, and spend a bit more on home improvementy type stuff, but it's a two year contract during which he'd be working from 3pm to 1am 4 days a week, on call 24 hours, and working every 5th weekend as well. The alternative is a smaller career boost, maybe some time on unemployment while he looks, and a job pretty similar to what he's doing now, with similar hours, so we'd still see each other on weekday evenings. The certainty of more money and more stress, or the uncertainty (and stress) of a longer job hunt, and hopefully a return to close to the status quo, which do I wish for?

Actually I know which I wish for: the management position to offer enough cash for it to be worth it. Because then we'd know what was going to happen. Being able to take more trips, and some intelligent routine-shifting will make the funky work hours much more bearable for both of us. What's weighing on me is the fear that they won't offer the raise they should, which will be a blow in itself, and also mean more uncertainty until another job appears on the horizon.

To counterract some of this stress we went for a short hike in the mountains yesterday, then had a late lunch in Julian, followed by a trip to Witch Creek Winery. This is the winery we got our wedding wine from, the woman who does the tastings is a real character, always remembers us and gives us the cellar club discount even though we're not cellar club members. When I bought the two cases for our wedding she gave me 20% off for buying cases, then made up another 15% discount for the hell of it and threw in some pepper jelly for free. I think she's angling for us to bring back in one of the bottles of '99 port we've got laid down in our closet. It was good spending a day together doing stuff we did when we were first seeing each other.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nesting & purging

The weekend before Hallowe'en Matt and I did a purge. We rediscovered the floor in our second bedroom, found that the top of Matt's dresser is made of wood, not fashioned from a mountain of unfolded clothes waiting to be ironed, mended, or hung up in the closet. We also found a pillowcase I have been looking for since September, and had assumed to be eaten by the washing machine. A slightly less pleasant discovery was that somebody had peed on the big cushions atop my blanket box. Since it wasn't me or Matt, it had to be one of the cats, unless our friends have taken to sneaking off and scent marking random places in our bedroom during a party. Our cats have been feeling territorially threatened by a stray who hangs out by our windows and taunts them. It has not been a pleasant month to be carpet in our condo. Thank Petsmart for Nature's Miracle, which has saved us from living in That House. You know the one I mean, the one that reeks of kitty effluvia. We still have unusually hairy lampshades and white fluff on our burgundy sofa, there is no question that long haired cats inhabit our flat, but at least we are wining the battle against catstink.

Anyway, back to the purge.

By about 3pm we had a 6'x4' area of our living room taken up by a 5' tall stack of stuff to donate. Two G3 macs, a box of books and software to go with them, two plastic lawn chairs, a queen bedspread, a king duvet, two superficially destinked giant cushions, two boxes of clothes (how did we manage to find 2 boxes to discard? We already did a clearout 3 months ago!) a small lamp, my stereo from university (sniff, farewell little blue Sony, you served me well) two window box-fans, a ridiculously large and cavernous motorcycle rucksack, a vase, and, the star item: an iRobot Roomba automatic vacuum cleaner robot thingy, complete with remote control. We inherited the robot from our neighbors, it couldn't hack their cat hair (hur hur), and it did no better with ours. Off to the charity shop it goes, I'll take my tax deduction thank you. When we loaded all of this into the SUV it was FULL. We don't even fill it when we go camping for four days and take lots of firewood.

We still need to complete the autumn cleaning by tidying and sorting the desks and book cases, maybe I can find some kitchen stuff to donate, but I doubt it, I use all my kitchen stuff. I'm already realizing I could have offloaded my wedding shoes and some sneakers I never wear, which would free up slots in the closet for a pair or two of new shoes I have been eyeing on zappos. Anybody want a pair of size 10W winter white leather pumps with a 1" heel? Pristine condition? Lovely ballet-slipper styling your mother would approve OK.

It felt very good to clear out some junk that had been cluttering up our home for far too long. We capped off the weekend by going to Home Depot and buying knobs and drawer handles for the previously plain kitchen and bathroom cabinets, they look very spiffy.

Once I finish my statistics class at the end of this month, we are going to install an arch in the entrance to our hallway, and put molding sills on our windows. We have already allocated any Christmas money to the painting fund. Farewell rental-reminiscent white, hello taupe and linen to compliment the carnelian wall in the living room, teal wall in the kitchen (sounds weird but we love it), and sapphire & ice blue in the bedroom. This time next year the poor long suffering ugly-ass carpet will be ripped out and replaced with tile and hardwood. Oh, and we are now debating replacing the ugly plastic bathtub with an better enammeled model and tiled walls. Happy evil nesting plotting has been going on apace. We might even need to start taking notes of what we agree on so we don't forget any fun.