7 things
August 19, 2010, 7:50 am
Filed under: daily

My academic advisor told me that it’s important to update your CV every year, not just because the department requires it, but it’s good for your sanity to look over the last year and see what you’ve accomplished.

I think that applies to the rest of our lives, as well. I made it a point to write a post about all we’ve done to the house in the past year or so because sometimes it feels like I haven’t done anything. This lady had a great idea: remind yourself of what you’re good at. We’re all good at something, hopefully lots of things. When you feel like a failure over something else, it can be good for your sanity to remind yourself that you aren’t a waste of space. I know this is something I ought to do more often.

1. I’m good at knitting and crocheting. I have a blanket over my knees that I made to prove it. I taught myself, no less. Using The Internets. (Sidenote: How did people learn how to do ANYTHING without the Internet and you-tube DIY videos?)

2. I’m smart. I’m good at school, which is why I’m about to embark on my third degree in 6 years. I enjoy classes, learning, projects. I almost always get good grades. Nobody will hire me, but damnit, people will pay me to be a student. That has to count for something.

3. I’m a good writer. I double-majored in English literature in college for the heck of it. It was a good balance against my science classes, and I got A’s without exerting any effort. I can write papers quickly and easily that are damn good and need minimal editing.

4. I can play the piano. Not very well, but I took lessons for 11 years so I like to think my parents got something for their money.

5. I can cook, and I taught myself because my mother is a type-A cook. I only rarely screw things up, and I’m good at winging it. I’ve stopped measuring when I cook and merely eye-ball it. I do not eye-ball it when baking though, because that’s screwing with a chemical reaction and will doom you to failure.

6. I am a good public speaker. I gave the same talk repeatedly over a few months, including at a national conference. I won an award for it (and $275!) and was repeatedly complimented on my public speaking skills. Apparently, I am poised, clear, and interesting.

7. I’m the frugalista. I can find great deals very easily, I resist spending money altogether, and I run a very tight ship without giving up on the things we enjoy in life (like cheese). We’re living on Kevin’s salary alone at this point, most months. We have no debt other than the mortgage and student loans. We have a healthy emergency fund. The next challenge is figuring out what we’re saving for and how to spend our money after the wedding is over.

So. Your turn. What are YOU good at?

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In Which I Admit To My Nutso
August 10, 2010, 9:37 pm
Filed under: daily, Pittsburgh

Over the past few years, I’ve gradually cut back on my socialization in person time, and increased my socialization on the internets time. This is a good thing in some ways: it has enabled me to keep in touch with friends who live out of the area. We chat online. In some cases, almost every day. I swear I talk to my Asian friend more than I talk to Kevin, but I never, ever see her. In other ways, it’s not so good. I do not see real people most of the time. I get most of my socialization digitally, and it leaves something to be desired.

Speaking of my Asian friend. She is doing something totally awesome. She is completely burnt out from her PhD program after two years, and is taking a leave of absence to spend a few months traveling around central and south america with her boyfriend, working at organic farms. While this is something you could not pay me a bazillion dollars to do, because hard manual labor and I do not get along, I am totally jealous of what she’s doing. Freakishly jealous. The tips of my fingers are turning green with jealousy. I’m leaving green fingerprints on my computer as I type this.

Why am I jealous of something I would never do? Because she’s grabbing her life by the horns. She’s finally recognized how unhappy she is with her life right now (something I’ve known about her life for a long time!) and is taking steps to fix it. She’s doing something I generally mock: she’s leaving the country to go into the wilderness and find herself. Hopefully she comes back refreshed with a new look on life and a clearer head to decide what to do next.

I don’t need to do hard manual labor to find myself. I don’t even need to find myself: I’m in Pittsburgh, exactly where I want to be. I’m thrilled with what’s next for me: starting the PhD officially at the end of August, doing something that really, really sets my pants on fire, with people I really, really like. I’m also really good at it, which is a total bonus.

However. However! I have to get myself out of this rut. I only socialize online, unless it’s with Kevin’s friends. I guess they’re technically my friends now, but really. They’re more his than mine. When Kevin has the whole weekend sucked up by drumline practice, I am on my own. My best friend works all weekend, so I can’t play with her. The vast majority of my other friends are elsewhere. I don’t have family (that I like) in the area. I spent almost all weekend by myself this past weekend, except for a few hours late on Saturday when I went into Oakland to hang out with drumline people after practice was over.

I was so miserable.

The funny thing is this: I am an introvert. I don’t like being around people for extended periods of time. At the end of social gatherings, I am exhausted and need to recoup. I have cried after really stressful gatherings, even if I looked like I had a good time. When I’m with my close friends, the ones who I really mesh with, it’s not a problem. Interacting with them isn’t nearly as exhausting, although I do sleep well afterward. And yet, I hate being entirely alone for extended periods of time. You just can’t win with me, can you?

And so, I’ve been inspired in the past few weeks by Asian Jen. She’s taking her bull by the horns and going to South America to harvest coffee or something insane like that. I can do something to change how I’ve been feeling about being by myself and only interacting with people via Google Chat or the Twitter. That’s why I went out on a limb and accepted Emily’s invitation on Friday to go to the pool with her and her kids. And then accepted another yesterday to go with even more people from Twitter. I was afraid it would be weird, me with no babies, hanging out with women who do have them, at a pool. People I’ve never met before! People who I’ll have to CONVERSE with!

WHAT IF I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY OMG WHAT IF THEY DON’T LIKE ME HOLY CRAP WHY AM I DOING THIS I SHOULD GO HOME.

Is exactly what I was thinking as I pulled into the parking lot on Friday afternoon. It was like starting 9th grade at a brand new public school all over again. My knees sweated exactly the same way.

And yet. And yet! It was so nice. It was nice to be out, it was nice to have people to talk to. It was nice to make real friends. Not that my friends I talk to via Google Chat aren’t real, but they can only do so much when Kevin is busy all weekend. It was nice to feel like I was making my own friends, not just tagging along with Kevin. It was nice to feel included, even though I technically don’t have the credentials to join a mom group.

In my own, less dramatic way, I am stepping out my comfort zone and trying to figure myself out, just like Asian Jen. And I don’t have to pick mangos to do it.

If you want to be my real, in person friend, and you aren’t a crazy, rapist stalker person, let me know. I’m going to start going to TweetUps locally, and I’m going to be there with bells on, even if it means I have to curl up with a glass of milk in bed later to recover. I’d rather cry at the end of a social gathering because I’m exhausted than cry because I don’t have anyone to hang out with.

This is me stepping out. Will you join me?



I’m a crazy cat lady now
July 30, 2010, 1:39 pm
Filed under: daily, Photo

A few minutes ago, the kitten and I had a bit of a photo shoot.

I haven’t said much here about Dora. We adopted her a few weeks ago when she and I became friends at my bus stop one morning.

After a few days of seeing her every morning and evening around the bus stop, I took the car down and threw her in the back seat. You might say it was a catnapping.

In the few weeks since she’s been here we’ve learned just how much poo cats make; how to install a cat door; just how much cats are capable of sleeping; and just how hilarious it is when a cat embarrasses herself and tries to play it off like she totally meant to do that, thankyouverymuchstoplaughingatmejerks.

She’s turned into a gorgeous creature. And crap! She knows it, too.

By the way, getting a ‘free’ street kitten is not as cheap as it sounds. We had to pay the brunt of the costs of getting her vaccinated and treated for intestinal parasites. We had no way of knowing if anyone has ever done that for her, or if she’s ever had a home. She’s super friendly (with me at least, not so much with strangers, or men, or … anyone, really), so surely she’s had contact with humans before in a good way. We also had to get her fixed because she was in heat and DAYUM did that turn her into a bitch. And more importantly, I don’t want kittens. From a kitten. No thank you.

Two days after we got her girly-bits removed, she decided to pull out her stitches. I went to pick her up to check on her belly before I left work and HELLO INTESTINES! Kevin had to fly home from work after just getting there so we could take her to the vet to have her parts put back inside and then she got a CONE OF SHAME. It was hilarious. The cone of shame, that is. The intestines were gross.

This is the first cat we’ve owned. We both come from dog people, with relatives who are allergic. We’re both kind of allergic but can get over it with a little Claritin and extended exposure. I was nervous about it, to begin with, especially when the expenses added up big time and then when I saw intestines.

But now that we’re all settled, and she’s mostly stopped trying to escape, and no longer has stitches to yank out, I’m glad we kept her. It warms the cockles of my heart to take in a sad, homeless creature, even if it mean stepping out of my comfort zone. She’s turned into a beautiful cat, and while she sometimes tricks visitors into petting her and then attacks their hands with all 5 pointy ends, I think she’s become a nice part of our little family.

And when I look at the above picture of her, from the day we brought her home, I’m so glad we gave her the opportunity to grow her hair back in and take up residence in our house. No one should be forced to live with a head that tiny if they can help it.



The Care and Feeding of Humans
July 8, 2010, 11:47 am
Filed under: daily

Hi, my name is Katrina, and I don’t blog much.

Also, I’m a slob. A recovering slob, that is.

Per the request of a certain twitter friend, I was not only inspired to return to my blog a little more frequently, but also discuss how to manage slobby tendencies.

Do you follow your family members around picking up after them? Do you come home on Friday nights and wonder what happened to the delightfully neat and clean house you had on Sunday? Are you just as much at fault as the rest of your family? Most importantly, DOES IT BUG YOU?!

Then I have some tips for you. These were strategies my mother used to deal with my father and I, habitual shedders of trash, junk, books, dishes, and other miscellanea.

1. Throw it out. No, seriously. If it’s someone else’s, and they’re leaving it where it doesn’t belong, throw it out. If it it’s important enough to be saved, it’s important enough to be put somewhere that it won’t be lost, torn up by the dog, or stolen by elves. My mom would throw away permission slips, knowing full well that they were important. It learned me real quick to hide important stuff from her. But remember: there have to be safe zones. I was allowed to keep my room a pigsty as long as I kept the door closed, and didn’t spread it throughout the house. Everything else is fair game!

2. Regular purges. How much stuff do you really need? Really? Do you need to save the photocopy of the reading you did at your grandmother’s funeral, or can you just mark that page in your Bible that you already have? It’s the same thing! Do you need to save every little scrap of paper, every ticket stub, every receipt starting at the first date with the person to whom you will marry? I don’t think so. Go through your storage areas, your clothes, your drawers at least once a year and pitch stuff that serves no useful purpose anymore. The less you have, the less you have to pick up and the more places you have to store things you do use. If you have children with too many toys, entice them to purge their toy boxes by letting them keep the proceeds at a yard sale. Money talks, baby.

3. Form an over-developed fear of spending money. If you don’t buy things, you don’t have to pick those things up.

4. Go through the mail every day and sort as needed. This is my biggest issue: I let junk mail pile up and then BAM. Where did my dining room table go? Also, junk mail piles are actually living organisms, and have been known to consume pieces of mail that are very important. Best to sequester the important mail immediately.

5. Do the laundry as often as possible! My biggest issue with keeping things orderly is laundry. I don’t mind DOING it, I just forget to do it. And then I really dislike putting it away. It sits in the laundry baskets, and then because there’s clean laundry in there, where does the dirty laundry go?! On the floor, of course! And suddenly we can’t find the bedroom floor. I’ve been working on doing at least 2 loads of laundry a week, and then I make Kevin put it away. It seems to help.

7. Leave cleaning supplies out in view. I guess this wouldn’t work if you have wee ones who are tempted to drink them, but I started keeping the bathroom cleaner, sponge, glass cleaner, and paper towels next to the sink in the bathroom. Not only do they take up enough space to prevent other things from accumulating (tiny, tiny, TINY bathroom) but magically they seem to get used fairly regularly. Not by me, either. I can only assume by the elves. The same ones that steal important mail, perhaps? They are confusing buggers.

8. Pay attention, this is the important one: ten minutes every day should be spent tidying. Loading the dishwasher, wiping down counters, going through the mail, picking up sundry items and putting them away. Then it’s easier to want to vacuum regularly because you don’t have to spend an hour picking up the house JUST to vacuum. I still work on this one. And sometimes those 10 minutes are spent tidying my garden, which needs the same level of care.

The other big idea that my mom instilled in me is that if you are a neat freak, and the other person is not, the neat freak is responsible for keeping the house at the level that pleases them. It’s not fair to get angry, or to force them to do things to your level when doing them at all is good enough. There have to be ground rules (things outside of safe zones will get thrown away, dishes must be put in the dishwasher, etc), but no one else is responsible for meeting my standards other than me. I simply refuse to spend my free time following around someone else and cleaning up after them. If they manage their own clutter, I can set about washing baseboards and dusting.

And since I have a hard time meeting my own standards most of the time, it’s only fair to take responsibility for those standards.



A conversation
July 7, 2009, 3:04 pm
Filed under: daily | Tags: , ,

We had breakfast for dinner. Pancakes and bacon. Afterward, I was reading on the couch, and Bear bent over me to drop a kiss or two.

Hi, he says.

Hi, I say.

kiss

I love you!

Love you, too.

kiss

We’ve been together a long time.

Yes.

kiss

A really long time.

Are you trying to tell me something?

kiss

No!

Do you not love me any more?

kiss

No!

Are you sure?

kiss. kiss kiss. kiss.

Well, I love you more when you taste like bacon.




I’ve been having a hard time.
March 23, 2009, 12:04 pm
Filed under: daily | Tags: , ,

I guess I ought to update.

I have been avoiding this blog for a variety of reasons. I alluded in an earlier entry that I’ve been having a hard time. My instinct is to curl up in the fetal position and avoid all contact, let alone admit that I’m having a hard time.

I’ve been having a hard time.

We bought a house, and by ‘we’, I actually mean Bear. Bear bought a house! Holy mother of god! I don’t quite believe it myself.

It was stressful. Who knew? Buying a house is stressful! Bear even found his first gray hair over it. And then, because he’s so kind and thoughtful, he saved it in the bathroom for me to admire.

So Bear bought a house. It’s a nice, little house. It came with all appliances included, and all the important stuff, including the house, has been recently remodeled and updated. It’s 115 years old, and it’s  kind of funny looking, due to various owners with various tastes and levels of cheapness adding onto the house. It went from a 4 room, 2 bedroom house with no indoor plumbing to a 6 room, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom house.

Most importantly, The Dog loves it. Most of the windows are old-fashioned, so she can just stand and look out the window, supervising the neighborhood.

It has a dishwasher! My standards are so low, I’m kind of embarrassed.

So, it was part of the hard time. For a while, we fell in love with a beautiful old house in Dormont: 4 bedrooms, 1.5 bath, hardwood floors, lots of windows, two porches, lots of charm, big back yard, low price. It got snatched out from under us. It was sad. We had to give up Dormont, because none of the other houses on the market fit our needs/wants/price.

So we moved from Dormont. That was hard. I love Dormont. It’s quaint, charming, friendly, walkable. I love the church, and I love the Dor-Stop, and I loved living there. I just didn’t love where I was living in Dormont. I don’t deal with change very well, and I had pretty much gotten my heart set on Dormont, and on the beautiful house. It was hard.

Then we found Crafton. Crafton is not Dormont, but it is similar to Dormont in good ways: it has charm. There are lots of things to walk to, like an Italian restaurant in an old-fashioned pharmacy, and a great bar/restaurant with an award-winning list of Belgian beers. It is walkable, with lots of beautiful Victorian mansions to admire. The bus way goes right through town, and the 100 takes me directly to Oakland and back every day. It’s a closer commute to work for Bear. The yards are bigger, much bigger, and the houses are less likely to be perched on a cliff. It’s even a bit cheaper.

But getting to that point was hard for me. Picking out a house that I knew for certain wasn’t a forever house was hard for me. I know it’s insane to think that this is the last house I’ll ever live in, but I never professed to be entirely sane. This house is not a forever house. Two of the bedrooms are really small, and one doesn’t have heat/AC vents. The bathroom is hard to turn around in. The kitchen is small, and so is the living room. But it’s a good enough house for now, and we’re definitely planning on staying in it long enough to make a profit.

The month between making the offer and settlement was stressful. We were not given the option of extending our lease month to month, so we had to tell our landlord that we were moving out in 60 days before we had made the offer. If it didn’t go through, we were going to be homeless, and have to scramble to find an apartment. That was stressful: I only wanted to move if it was to a house. If we signed a lease, we would be stuck for another year.

To add to that stress is the fact that I am graduating in April, into one of the worst economic scenes in a long time. My two main options for employment in Pittsburgh instituted hiring freezes indefinitely. Nobody is hiring librarians, and nobody else seemed interested in a medical librarian, no matter how much I spun it. I was looking at graduating after 4 years of hard work in a difficult major, and a year of my master’s, only to have no real job prospects.

Ego crushing, to be sure. I’ve spent my whole life being told that I was a shoe-in for success. I could do anything I wanted, and I would succeed. So far, I had no reason to doubt myself: I am smart, I am driven, and I am hard working. Everyone said that that combination was a great guarantee, and here the economy was taking all that away from me.

And I was sad. While I am so very proud of Bear for buying a house less than a year after graduating with his bachelor’s, and so happy for him that he has such a good job, I was jealous. I was sad that all the good things panning out for him were not happening for me. I spent a lot of time crying over my own failings, and the wretched timing.  I was disappointed in myself.

My only option is to leave Pittsburgh. And that makes me sad, too. I love Pittsburgh, if I hadn’t already made that clear. But I have to leave. My adviser recommended a fellowship program down in D.C. that would be a perfect way to jumpstart my career. It’s a one year program, and it’s everything I ever dreamed. But it’s in D.C. The day I decided to apply for it, I cried the whole way home.

I managed to get an interview, which is a very good sign. I will be heading down there, Bear in tow, for an all day interview next week. I know I can do this: I know I can get this fellowship. I know I have to do it. I have been told by those in the know at my current internship that if I get this, I can come back and do the second year there, which is a good path into getting a job there. This opportunity is incredible. It will be an easy way to ride out the recession, and a safe way. It will give me everything I want.

I just have to leave for a year. I am no longer crying about it. I am actually kind of looking forward to it. I know Bear and I are safe and secure. It’s just a year. It solves the whole ‘living in sin’ thing before we get married. It quells the arguments form the peanut gallery that we’re only together because we’ve never been apart. It will be hard, very hard, but it will be good. It’s great for my career, which is consequently good for us.

But I’ve been sad over all of this, and I also feel that I have no right to be sad. But there it is. I’ve been having a hard time, and that’s all I could think about whenever I sat down to blog, and it was the last thing I could stand to write about.

By the way, I asked my 94-year-old saint of a Grandma to pray for me a few weeks ago, to help me get a job. She prays a lot, and I think she likes being given something to pray for. Hot damn! I didn’t know the woman had so much pull upstairs. Within a week, I was offered an interview at one fellowship, and invited personally to apply for another. I should ask her to pray for me more often.

Coming up: pictures of the house! And probably the dog!



It’s been a while
January 24, 2009, 9:27 am
Filed under: daily

I haven’t complained about the weather in a very long time.

Did you know that we’ve been setting record lows here in Pittsburgh?

It’s been awful. We went for over two weeks with at least trace snowfall every day. There was that one day where I woke up to -7 degree weather, and hiked up cardiac hill to my internship in -5 degrees. I thought my lungs were just going to give up. “Eff you, Katrina! Enough of this crap!” and hop out of my chest, leaving me suffocating on the frozen sidewalk. The dog, who loves the cold and snow and being outside, could only handle it for a few minutes before her snout was all frozen over and her paws had ice in between her toes.

And then yesterday, it went up to 48 degrees. It was a heat wave! The college students, who always react inappropriately to weather, were wearing SHORTS as they skittered about campus, basking in the sunlight.

I know it’s 50 degrees warmer than it was last week, but jeez oh man, people. It’s still only 48 degrees. PUT SOME PANTS ON.

Of course, today it’s only going up to 22. Heave wave = over.

Woe.