All work, no play…

Well, you know.

This week has been all about work. I’ve been buried at regular work and with freelance work, so my days have been spent in front a computer or checking emails on my phone. Not the best.

I was so tremendously sore from lifting on Saturday that I took Sunday and Monday off from the gym. I hit it hard again on Tuesday (lifting from the New Rules) and now I’m so sore that I had to take today off. I’m going to force myself to do do some kind of workout tomorrow; I shouldn’t be this sore after a few 40 lb. squats (pathetic, I know)!

For dinner on Sunday, Dan and I combined forces to make some roasted red pepper ravioli stuffed with goat cheese. Dan made the dough and rolled it out;  I assembled everything. We don’t have a handy dandy ravioli tray – yet – so they looked a little wonky but tasted great! We dipped the finished product in store-bought marinara and in an olive oil/balsamic/herb mixture I cooked up. We rounded out the meal with spinach salads topped with feta, proscuitto, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette. Not bad for a Sunday night.

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Dry ingredients with roasted red pepper mixture.

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Let’s add a few eggs in there.

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Ball O’ dough.

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Pasta maker! Actually, that would be Dan. So, pasta presser? Roller?

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Sheets of delicious pasta!

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Sheets of delicious pasta being stuffed with goat cheese.

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Aerial shot of the pasta battle station.

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My handy work. I used a pizza slicer to cut them into squares.

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The finished product! We were going to try a few drizzled with honey, but we forgot. Maybe next time.

Last week, I ordered some nail polish making supplies that finally arrived on Monday! Unfortunately, I’ll probably be too tied up with work to be able to experiment much this week, but I hope to play around with them some time this weekend. Trust me, there will be (multiple) posts on that!

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Taper time!

Sorry for the lack of posts; Work last week was insane mode, and the last thing I felt like doing after staring at a computer screen for 10 hours was writing a post. So here I am to update!

It is taper time. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved.

It feels so good to relax!

Before my 9-miler a week or so ago, I started experiencing some soreness in the bottom of my right foot. It doesn’t hurt when I’m running, but after I did my 9 miles, it was really sore for several days. Because of that, I opted to forgo my last long run, a 10-miler, and do a few shorter ones instead with plenty of rest and ice between outings. I also realized that in my daily life, I don’t wear very supportive shoes. I’m a Converse and ballet flats kind of gal. That + running a lot = very sore foot. So I picked up a pair of these:

These make my feet happy! The Nike Eclipse II

I’ve had my eye on these babies for months, and I finally got a pair. I’ve had them for about a week and have been wearing them pretty much nonstop, even around the house. My foot already feels about 100 times better, even after running a few miles earlier in the week.

This week, I’ve been kicking back, staying hydrated and thinking about what I’ll wear on the big day. The weather is supposed to be superb: Partly cloudy, high of 60 low of 39.

Last night I had a dream about running the race. The weather was beautiful, and a ton of my teammates from my cross country team just so happened to be running it as well. I could smell the fall leaves and hear them crunching under my feet. I could feel my legs and feet traveling smoothly and with ease. My breathing was easy and clear. I felt great. When I crossed the finish line, the clock read 2:17:00. I haven’t publicly set a time goal, but 2:17 would be alright with me.

All in all, I feel prepared. Now if only Sunday morning would hurry up and get here!

The importance of order

The lack of recent blogs is attributable to many things, but mostly to the fact that I had pretty major surgery back in June and was unable to exercise for several weeks. That’s all over now (and I’m fine, thank God), so on to bigger and better things.

I’ve talked about making time for exercise and eating well before, but one thing that I’ve found really helps me get my workout in and ensures that I pack a healthy lunch is the order in which I do things.

See, I’d found myself frequently pressed for time before work, and though I’d almost always manage to complete my workout, I’d rush to work empty-handed in the lunch department. That means no snacks during the day and fewer healthy (and cheap) options for dinner. Also, I was putting my coworkers’ lives in danger by allowing my blood sugar to drop so low.

So, to get my priorities in order, I made one simple switch: I make my lunch immediately after I work out, before I shower and get ready for work.* This isn’t a huge change, but it helps me budget my time better. It puts figuring out my food for the day ahead of putting on makeup and over-styling my hair. It lessens the rush I put myself through before I hop in the car for the commute to work. It gives me peace of mind that, if nothing else, I will be well-fed throughout the day.

If I dawdle or oversleep, it’s not my workout or lunch that suffers – it’s my appearance. And if having a great variety of healthy food packed in my lunch box means having to wear my hair in a ponytail because I didn’t get a move on, then so be it. I still look good for work, and I don’t have to worry about mortally harming my coworkers as I rampage to the vending machine for a Snickers bar.

*I work nights, so I have more time in the morning than most people. Obviously, packing your healthy lunch the night before work would serve the same purpose.

Dodging the bullet

So my boss was kind enough to let me know early yesterday that my job is safe. For now, anyway. An editor who’s been with the paper for more than 20 years took the buyout to concentrate on her academic pursuits. She plans to move to England at some point in the next couple of years, so it works out for everyone.

I’m certainly relieved that I don’t have to worry about work for a little while, but I definitely feel less safe at this job than I did before all of this happened. It’s always going to be in the back of my mind that I could still eventually be on the chopping block. What happens next quarter? Will I have to go through this again? Will things ever get better and stabilize? I guess I won’t know until the time comes.

McClatchy announced Monday that wage freezes have been lifted, exactly one week after it announced layoffs/buyouts. I found that out before I knew the status of my job, and it makes me wonder what, exactly, is going on in the accounting department. I understand that management wants to boost morale for those who get to remain with the company, but we’re not idiots … it just looks like bad math to say, “Oh, we need to cut X positions. By the way, the rest of you will likely get a raise this year.” If anything, it probably contributes to layoff survivors’ guilt.

If nothing else, this experience pushed me to explore some opportunities that I had formerly talked myself out of. I now have a few freelance sources for additional income, and I’m still flirting with the idea of going back to school.

The paper is throwing it’s Christmas party tonight. Seems like questionable timing but, apparently, “these things can’t be helped.” Instead of 2% raises for everyone, maybe the company should just expand the booze budget for the party. Seems like it’d be more useful right about now.

Isn’t it ironic?

Oh, my dear Alanis Morissette, your words are ever-so-true. It is ironic. And annoying.

Last week, I got an early morning call from one my editors at the paper. Never a good sign when you work the night shift. He proceeds to inform my sleep-addled brain that the paper is offering voluntary buyouts in an effort to cut a certain number of positions.

I wake up a little.

Then he says that, although the buyouts are voluntary, at least one position in the newsroom must go and if nobody else takes the buyout, the position getting the axe will be mine.

OK, I’m up.

He gives me a bunch of information about how and why and when all of this is happening. Nothing that really matters much, because none of it will enable me to keep my job or make the fact that I will likely lose it any easier to deal with. The company didn’t make as much money as it hoped to, revenue is to volatile, nobody saw this coming, people will have one week to apply for the buyout, I’ll know what my fate is 12/09, blah blah blah.

Well, crap. If you read my previous post in September about landing this job, you’ll know how excited and relieved I was to to work for a paper again. You’ll also probably know that I was a little apprehensive about taking the job and that I left an incredibly secure and stable job elsewhere to work for the News-Democrat. Looks like I was right to be concerned.

I won’t know what’s happening for a couple of days, but I’m planning my life as if definitely don’t have a job. I’m looking at my options and trying to figure out what to do next. It seems like the only way to guarantee your personal security and well-being these days is to be your own boss. With that in mind, I’m pursuing some freelance opportunities and seriously considering going back to school for a career change.

All I know is that when you’re only 25 and have been laid off three times in two years, something out there isn’t quite right.

Day 1, all over again.

Today will be yet another first day of work for me. I put in my last day at American Equity Mortgage last week, took off for Chicago for the weekend and am now ready to rumble.

I accepted an offer from the Belleville News-Democrat about two weeks ago. I’ll be designing and editing primarily, but it sounds like there is room to branch out a little into other areas as well.

I’m really excited to be getting back to what I love doing. It’s been hard to bide my time and take bill-paying jobs over the last few months, but hopefully it’ll pay off. I never thought that I’d get the chance to work at a paper again without having to make a major move to another state or something. I’ve been hesitant to write about it, because it just seems too good to be true.

I had a terrible dream last night that the whole thing was a heartless practical joke orchestrated by my brother. I showed up to my first day of work at BND, and nobody looked familiar. My brother had hired people to pretend to interview me and extend a fake job offer. I was so disappointed and upset; mortified that I’d been so foolish. I think some of this apprehension comes comes from my layoff last year. No matter how many assurances you get from a company or other employees, nobody can 100% guarantee that your job will exist in a year, or even six months for that matter. I’ve been in the work force since December 2007, and I have yet to hold down a job for longer than eight months. It’s frustrating.

I am hoping that things will turn out a little better this time around. If they don’t, then whatever. At least I’ll have worked a job that I actually enjoy for a little bit before starting over again. And at this point, I know I’m capable of regrouping and finding something else to pay the bills.

At any rate, I’m ready.

Rage-inducing heat

The past few weeks have been so incredibly hot and humid here that I don’t feel like doing anything but taking a cold shower and sitting around in my underwear after work. Hence the lack of updates.

I started my new job as a loan processor at American Equity Mortgage about two weeks ago. Aside from the commute (30 minutes or more one way, depending on traffic), I enjoy it. I’m learning a ton about the mortgage industry and how one goes about buying a house. I’ve still got about two weeks of training before I’ll be doing the entirety of my job unsupervised, but I have been able to do some of my work independently.

My job basically consists of looking through people’s loan applications/refinancing paperwork to make sure that they’ve got everything they need and they’re making as much money as they say they do. It’s really interesting to have access to people’s financial lives. Even the best of friends don’t know the details of each other’s finances, but I get to look into complete strangers’ records  and see that Jane Smith, age 32, is a single woman working as a senior VP for a publishing company making $30,000 a month (yes, a month) who uses 4 credit cards and still owes$7,300 on her student loans, but has no other debt. Not too bad.

However, I also get to see really depressing applications. Joe and Jane Smith, ages 68 and 64, both retired and earning combined social security and pensions of about $2,400 a month. Jane works at Wal-Mart and earns a lousy $7.00 an hour to net another $400 a month for the two of them.  They have 17 credit cards, all near their limits.  They’re refinancing because Joe needs a root canal and they want to consolidate some credit card debt. I flip through their paperwork, knowing they will most likely die hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Most of the time, applications don’t fall into either extreme, but they’re still interesting. I guess it’s just the nosy journalist/real estate hound in me constantly wanting to learn about people and the places they live.