Thursday, April 30, 2009

This is a beautiful quote attributed to the 14th Dalai Lama. 

Everyday, think as you wake up, "today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

an open letter to my potential employers

An open letter to my potential employers:

Good day. I am currently on the market for a job. Certainly times are tough for us all, particularly job seekers. However, I am not content to continue with my previous trend of jumping from one boring, unsatisfying job to the next. Therefore, rather than continue try to shape myself into the person that my job requires, I am instead knocking aside the corporate-speak and presenting you with a list of MY requirements for my perfect job. Could this be considered pretentious in these uncertain economic times? Possibly. Will I have to compromise on my ideals and take whatever I can get, just to get by? It seems likely. But I present this letter in the hopes that I will no longer have to choose between unemployment and 40-hour-per-week misery. Without futher ado, I present to you this list in lieu of a resume.

1. I am not "naturally organized" or "detail-oriented." I can't stay organized to save my life. I have untreated ADD. I forget where I set the pen that I was using 30 seconds ago. I generally think of the big picture first and worry about the details later. I need a job that isn't about the details or the organization.

2. I am not "naturally energetic," nor do I "thrive in a fast-paced environment." I am slow to wake up in the mornings. I can't stand on my feet for 7.5 hours a day. On the flip side of the coin, sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day will drain me mentally and physically. I stress out easily and have moderately high anxiety. I need to work at a steady, slow tempo.

3. I am not a "people person." In a world that rewards extroverts, I am utterly introverted. Allow me to clarify... I like people. I'm not shy. That's not what it means to be an introvert. The best analogy I've read on these personality types describes extroverts as being batteries that are RECHARGED by being around other people, and introverts as batteries that are DRAINED by being around other people. I don't find other people "draining" in that negative sense of the word, but it absolutely TAKES energy and effort from me to interact with others. My batteries are charged by being alone. 

4. I am not a "team player." I hated group projects in middle school, high school, and college, and I hate them now. I HAVE to work independently. If I need help, I will rarely ask for it, because I want to figure it out on my own. As a side note, if the "team leader" tries to micromanage me, I will go insane.

5. I am not "motivated" or "driven." In other words, I don't give a flying shit about climbing the corporate ladder. I am not in a race with my coworkers. I am not in competition with them. I will gladly accept a raise, but as long as I'm already making living wages, I will not work my ass off to make a few thousand dollars extra per year. 

6. I am not ever going to finish a project, paper, or assignment if I am uninterested in it. If my job bores me, it will be done half-assed or not at all. I have untreated ADD and will jump from one unfinished project to the next, or jump into some other random distraction. I have to have variety in my daily, even hourly work. If the assignment does interest me, I will have it done on time and close to perfect. 

7. I have not completed my college degree. However, I can learn anything, and I can learn it fast. I couldn't stay up late writing college papers, or doing homework, or settle on a major (so many awesome majors! how do I pick?!). But give me a quasi-intelligent trainer, or preferably a fully intelligent mentor, and give me hands-on training. I have a memory like an elephant, and I'm clever and intuitive to boot.

8. I am not going to stay with your company if your ultimate goal is simply to make a profit. I don't think that makes you bad or wrong, but I HAVE to be able to see a greater purpose in my job than simply coming to work, collecting a paycheck, and helping someone else make more money than I do. I see the big picture (refer to statement 1), and the big picture needs to include working towards the betterment of the earth, animals, people, or all of the above. 

In summary, I need a job where I can work independently, creatively, and at a moderate pace. I need a job where I can switch up my daily routine, and I need a job where I don't constantly worry about details. I need a job that pays me living wages, no less and no more (unless you WANT to pay me more, that's fine and dandy.) Most essentially, I need an interesting job that I can be PASSIONATE about. I need a job that exists because someone loved an abandoned pet, or a hungry child, or a warming planet. I need a job that exists because someone thought that wildlife shouldn't lose their forest to encroaching humans, or that people shouldn't lose their lives to unnecessary wars. I need a job that allows me to contribute more than just my spare time to making the earth a better place for everything on it.

Thank you for your consideration.

It's good to have a humbling moment every now and again.

What happens when you enthusiastically spray down your lettuce plants with homemade, eco-friendly insect repellant, then walk off smug and satisfied that you killed those stupid aphids and didn't use chemical pesticides in the process?

You forget that vinegar is acidic and start burning the crap out of the leaves until your mother fortunately happens to notice and rinses your plants off with the garden hose.

My lovely little lettuce bunches, all bright and green, are now nice and browned around the edges. I initially berated myself over this blunder, but at the request of my future husband I've been working on rolling with the punches instead of freaking out whenever something unexpected happens. Besides, the plants didn't even die. So no big deal. Lesson learned.

Yesterday we planted more onions since the first batch has grown so nicely, and two rows of green beans. Today goes the cucumbers, peas, two kinds of basil, dill, and cantaloupe. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good news in the garden: my garlic did NOT die after all! Every single bulb revived and is growing splendidly. 

As I strolled out this afternoon to check everything over, I noticed quite a few little specks of dirt on my romaine leaves. I bent down to take a closer look and realized the dirt specks were moving... they were dozens of tiny little black bugs! And they were ALL OVER my romaine, arugula, and swiss chard. I'm reasonably sure they're aphids. Whatever they are, they did NOT like the vinegar/water mix I sprayed on them. My dad keeps a diluted vinegar mixture in a spray bottle for surface cleaning, and I was certain that I'd read somewhere that vinegar can often be used as an insect repellant. So I spritzed down the plants and those little bugs hopped off en masse in the blink of an eye. I told my dad about it and he remarked that he'd heard of a bug repellant recipe of soap, vinegar, and red pepper. The soap apparently makes it adhere to the plants better. So that's my next project, stay tuned. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

I am slightly obsessed with reading labels. It's part of my larger obsession with being an educated consumer. I believe you need to know what is in your food and the products you buy. You need to know if what you're buying really is what the manufacturer wants you to think it is. This is especially important now that it's considered cool to be eco-friendly, because so many companies are hyping up their "green" products which really aren't green at all, or the companies themselves are still involved in destructive practices that harm the earth, animals, and people. For example, in the grocery store the other day I saw that Perdue had recently changed the labeling on their chicken parts to say "All Natural, Raised Without Antibiotics or Hormones." The uneducated consumer would likely take a glance at that package and assume these chickens were "organic" or healthier in some way than the "old" Perdue chickens. First of all, unlike for the term "organic," there are no federal rules or limitations in place on the use of the term "all natural." In this case, "all natural" doesn't mean shit. It means that the chicken parts came from a bird, which makes them "natural." Next, take a look at the teeny, tiny fine print at the bottom of the package. It states that federal law prohibits the use of antibiotics or hormones in chickens. Antibiotics and hormones were never the issue to begin with. The issues with Perdue chickens include squalid, inhumane living conditions and slaughtering practices, feed made from ground up bits of OTHER CHICKENS, and the massive amounts of agricultural pollution generated from the factory farming of chickens (and other livestock). In this case, look for chicken meat that has a label stating the meat is organic, the chickens were raised with access to fresh water, fed a vegetarian diet, had room to roam and access to the outdoors, and were humanely slaughtered. Yes, it takes a little bit more effort to be an educated consumer. Research what you're buying before you buy it. You can sacrifice a little convenience for knowledge. Knowledge is power.

We are still a capitalist society and we vote with our wallets, so don't vote for companies that make misleading and deceptive claims, or fill their products with chemical garbage, or use tons of unnecessary packaging.

Read a little bit more here, and all over the internet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I had good intentions to keep up my once-a-day blogging. But moving is a good excuse for a long break, right? 

Happy Earth Day!

The garden is slowly coming along, minus the garlic which just flat out died after the copious amounts of rain that turned everything to mud soup. The onions and chard are growing phenomenally. The arugula and romaine are growing steadily. The chives, well... they don't seem to be growing, but they're not dying either. This weekend we plant the eggplant and tomatoes! And I decided that I'm going to plant broccoli in August and try for a fall crop. I've heard that broccoli is a more challenging veggie to grow, but if it fails I'm only out 2 bucks for seeds, and if it works I'll be thrilled.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I got a temp job... a very, very temp job. I'm working at a 2-day wine festival in a couple weeks, which should be fun and put a little money in my pocket. 

This morning's update brought to you by ottercam. Watch and love.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I feel pretty satisfied with my accomplishments during my first week of unemployment. The past two days have been spent painting what will be our bedroom and living room as of next week. My parents graciously offered to let me and Kenny move in with them and save money for a house of our own. This is absolutely the best possible scenario for us right now, in terms of paying down our debt and saving a substantial amount for a down payment. I feel pretty lucky to be able to do this. 

I've been applying for jobs, only one or two of which I'm genuinely interested in. That one is a veterinary assistant job at the vet hospital less than 5 minutes from my parents' house. 

I did my taxes, e-filed both federal and state last night. My first though upon finishing was that I should have waited until AFTER tax time to quit, because I ended up with a pitiful $27 federal refund, and I owed the state $56, plus the cost of the tax software. 

I'm making my first visit of the year to the county Farmer's Market this weekend. Buying local food as much as possible has become a main priority in my grocery shopping. Local AND organic is even better. My moral dilemma comes from wondering if, for example, its better to buy that organic box of strawberries that was grown all the way in California, or the conventionally grown box that came from a field a few miles away. The first batch was grown without pesticides, hopefully with sustainable growing practices, but had to be shipped across the country, which uses energy and contributes to pollution. The second batch put pesticides on the fruit and into the ground, but used far less energy getting from the plant to my kitchen. 
Usually I try to strike a nice balance by purchasing a mix of local foods and organic foods, buying locally grown organics whenever possible. I've done most of the grocery shopping since Kenny and I have lived together and I've become more interested than ever before in how my food is grown and where it comes from. That's why I was inspired and excited to start a vegetable garden at my mom's house this year... you don't find food more local than what's grown in your own backyard.

Tomorrow... more painting, maybe the dog park for an hour or so, and hopefully planting the blueberry bushes if the ground isn't too soggy from two days of steady rain.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

The romaine and arugula, growing nicely.

The onions are sprouting!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

I need to carry a camera around with me like I used to. I wanted to take pictures of the garden yesterday because the onions and the swiss chard were both sprouting. The arugula, romaine and chives are thriving, but the garlic seems to be a lost cause. My mom planted 4 blueberry bushes out back by the treeline so they can have part shade. Next up to plant are the blackberry bushes, then in a couple weeks we have the tomatos, peppers, eggplant, strawberries, basil, cucumbers, watermelon and squash.

Mom's also planting TONS of extra flowers in her flower gardens... zinnias, lavender, and gerbera daisies. The hope is that Kenny and I can use almost exclusively homegrown flowers for our wedding, or at least supplement what we have to buy. Flower arrangements are expensive, and the flowers are usually grown with large amounts of pesticides, shipped in from across the country or internationally because they're out of season or not locally grown, and then... thrown in the trash after the wedding. No bueno for our budget-conscious, eco-friendly wedding. The homegrown flowers are just one aspect of the kind of wedding (and lifestyle) we're trying to have... more on that tomorrow. I haven't been up this late in close to a year, and I'm getting a little delirious. Ah, unemployment!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What a deliciously sleepy morning. Steady rain outside, sipping my coffee in bed with the pups snuggled next to me. 

I do have a to-do list for the day; job hunting being at the top of the list. I quit my last job because I hated it. I hated it with a passion, and it caused me so much stress and anxiety that my health started to suffer. I'm not sorry I left (yet), but I'm worried about the same thing happening. I'm worried that I may never find a job I love that also pays me living wages. I've toyed with the idea of going back to school, but I've never done well with school and it usually ends up being a waste of money. I was diagnosed with ADD a few years ago and unfortunately the medications I've tried have such powerful side effects that I can't stand to take them, so school remains incredibly difficult for me. 

UPDATE, 2:07 PM: Speaking of ADD... I stopped halfway through writing this entry and applied for 3 jobs online, walked the dogs, and packed a box of stuff for moving. I would love to find a natural remedy that doesn't have the type of side effects you get with Adderall, Concerta, or the other prescription drugs. I haven't done any extensive research, but much of what I've read about alternative therapy has concerned diet... eat more magnesium and vitamin B6, no phosphates or refined sugars. While I think this might be effective for some, I doubt it would be so for me. I've had ADD since high school, and my diet has changed drastically in those years (vegetarian to vegan back to vegetarian and finally to omnivore, all with varying amounts of healthy, well-balanced food) but my ADD has not changed at all, at least to my perception.

So this goes on my list of stuff to accomplish while jobless.

  • Find a job
  • Pack for the move
  • Maintain blog
  • Set up Etsy store with Mom
  • Research alternative therapies for ADD

Friday, April 10, 2009

Months ago my friend told me about and it's been the single best and most time-consuming internet tool I've ever used. I've literally spent hours browsing websites and finding blogs, crafts, articles, and art that I probably would never have come across otherwise. I'm obsessed with learning and almost everything interests me, the problem is that I'd rather read about 90 different subjects than pick one and focus on it. StumbleUpon, therefore, becomes my addiction.

I'm working to get myself out of that habit and become more hands-on. I've read a lot about money management and debt reduction lately as I embark on the quest to eliminate my $14,000 of credit card debt. That's a thoroghly embarassing number, and I hate admitting it. I could lay the blame on many different people and events for that accumulation of debt, including myself, but I'm trying to keep a forward-moving mindset and focus on just getting rid of it rather than complaining about it. I've been reading about the most effective ways to pay down credit cards, now I just have to start applying them. I have to actually MAKE a budget instead of reading about how to make budgets.

All this budgeting and debt-reduction is about to get complicated as I've just quit my nice, secure, living-wages, cushy office job... where I happened to be miserable. I don't have another job lined up. I knew it was a big risk, and I admit I've been feeling anxious about the loss of income. But I'm on the hunt and I think I'll be able to find something closer to home (I was commuting for a total of almost 2 hours a day).

It's my last day here and one of my coworkers gave me a Werthers candy because she felt bad that no one gave me a going away party. Aww.