Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker


I Literally Make Life Decisions Because of Christmas’s Commercialism

I received a great suggestion a couple of weeks ago. The short version is, “you should start blogging again because you need an outlet for all that shit you keep bottled inside.” The medium version is that a lot of our career coaching at my school seems to be therapy in disguise, and the professor assigned to this particular group saw me, felt that I felt invisible, and was doing her very best to give me even one useful suggestion for how to cope. I will keep the long version to myself for now.

The last couple of months specifically and last year in generally have been a period of upheaval in my life. According to all my social media feeds, almost everyone feels this way. There’s a lot I could dig into there, but instead, I’m going to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly in the last few days.

I live in Belgium y’all. I won’t live here permanently, I’m not about become anyone’s expat, especially not here. But I feel so good about my decision to come here and get my MBA. My class is very international. There are 42 students from 20 countries. Something that comes up a lot is the reason that each of us decided to come here.

My answer feels a bit silly sometimes, but I value honesty over appearing to be a very serious person. So here’s the reason I decided to uproot my life and move across a whole ocean:


A trip to Paris for New Year’s with my husband at the end of 2016 included a trip right after the new year to Brussels. Purely because of it’s proximity and affordability, we found ourselves in Brussels. And when you are in Brussels, you find yourself in Grand Place. When I walked into the area pictured above, I fell in love.

I’m not sure if this will make sense to everyone who reads it, but energy matters to me. It matter to me for people, places, and things. And the energy of Grand Place appealed to me. And it didn’t hurt that it was still gussied up from Christmas 2016. When I was 6 or so years old, I picked out a bedroom set based on the red & green decorative pillows they added because it was December. Yeah, I’m that chick, and have been my whole life. I was already considering trying to come to Europe for a 12, 15, or 18 month MBA program. But I came back from Brussels and googled “MBA programs in Brussels.”

Once I researched my school, I realized it would be a really good fit and it was the only school I applied to. I was happy to pack up my shit and move to another country, but made sure to leave roots behind in New York for when I’m done.

Christmas is here again, and I went to Grand Place, as you do when you’re in Belgium. They have the tree up again, and I was eager to get a look at it with all decorations in place. It was a bit underwhelming in the daylight, but when I went back the next night, it was better.

It was a really nice moment for me. Standing in Grand Place in early 2017, this new seed of a dream felt near impossible to make happen. And perhaps the huge upheaval of the last year made it more possible, but it didn’t change the fact that it felt huge every step of the way. So when I was standing there in late 2018, I felt really proud of myself.

I made one of my dreams come true. 2018 has been a year of doing a lot for just me, which is something I might be a bit rusty at. I’m still figuring out how to balance all of the things that matter to me. But it was really nice to take this moment and just feel pride and happiness. Christmas is my jam, and I’m excited for getting to spend this Christmas here, even if I have to deal with Zwarte Piet. I might have to do a whole other post about that shit… But for now, let’s just focus on the happy dreams-coming-true, actively-pursuing-my-goals thing for now, okay?

Now We’re Back On The Same Page

New York living is expensive y’all!

Imagine going to Starbucks every day for a week. You’re feeling all hyper and caffeine-alicious, but wonderfully satisfied. Then you realize that bottle of water, plus some fruit, plus a couple of those new yummy chocolate croissants, plus that tempting sale-priced Holiday blend coffee destined for your French press at home have all conspired together. And you are now $150 poorer than you were 7 days ago. And this is just from a coffee shop!

Now imagine that everywhere is Starbucks. Everywhere. Anything you do more than once in a week suddenly suck hundreds of dollars from your budget. Budget,say what? That thing that just frustrates you because no amount of planning can account for what you have no choice but to do when you lose your Metro card you just added $112 dollars to? Yeah, budgets.

Okay, I’m done with the stream of consciousness run on sentences for a bit. I think I’ve made my point that incidental costs alone make New York living expensive.

All of this was just based on my own experiences. But I’m not here alone, the husband is here too. He’s had the same challenges I’ve had coupled with the frustration of not working as much as he’d like.

We knew this would happen. We came to New York so he could spread his musician wings, open up a new market, and ultimately work even more (hopefully) than he was in Chicago.

That type of thing doesn’t happen overnight.

So it’s been a rough six months, financially at least. There were definitely some bumps along the way.

I had to stop drinking Starbucks every day. You won’t like me when I’m decaffeinated.

The husband unilaterally decided to postpone grad school. Again. That’s all I’ll say on that topic for now.

And the cats have taken to terrorizing the entire apartment building because they got used to having free reign of stairways during their months in exile at my parents’ house in Chicago.

Getting used to having no space anymore that counts as an escape for alone time, I’ve claimed some Saturdays as my own where I hang out in Greenwich Village, sometimes with the folks from the soup kitchen. Sometimes, I’m just by myself, hanging at Starbucks, drinking a mocha and watching Hulu on my phone.

But now things are evening out, at least they appear that way.

The husband is getting more calls for gigs, and offers to head out-of-town to play as well. So far, it appears he’s been able to maintain his musical connection to the Midwest while developing roots on the East Coast.

This weekend, he’s headed to Haiti for a music festival, then he’s back playing multiple gigs in NYC and some of the most popular jazz clubs in the city. Then he’s off to Midwest and out West for a month and some change to play there.

All of this has of course boosted his morale. It’s a nice feeling to know that the people like you, they really like you. And they want to pay you to stick around and do more.

On my end, I’m starting to hit a groove at work. I’m finishing up a work project that I’ve put a lot into and I’m hoping to see some real returns on it in the coming months. It’s all about getting more active participation in the donation process on all sides.

New York City provides some interesting challenges to organ and tissue donation that I just wasn’t experienced with coming from the Midwest. But I think I’ve risen to the challenge and if anything, it’s made me more committed to this work and I’ve dug deeper to find new ways to make it happen.

One thing I always tell my staff is that every time we speak to a family regarding donation, it’s an investment in today and tomorrow. Whether or not a family who has lost a loved one decides to have that person become a donor is irrelevant in this way.

I tell them that we want to make sure we are caring for these families at this difficult time and letting them know that our desire to help people get transplants never diminishes our compassion for their loss. Every time a family hangs up with us, they should feel positive about the conversation.

When we do this consistently, we are doing a small part to contribute to positive public opinion regarding donation. And we lay the groundwork for the family to say yes next time. If a family decides to donate, but they have a bad experience, they’re not going to want to repeat it. If a family decides not to donate, but they have a good experience, they may reconsider next time (depending on their reasons for saying no in the first place).

At my old job in Chicago and at this one, I have encountered families that have heard from us multiple times. They have been unfortunate enough to lose multiple family members in the last handful of years. It just so happened that these family members that passed away were all eligible for tissue donation. And when they hear from us, they have to make that decision about donation, and it’s a unique decision every time they decide.

I am finally starting to feel like I’m getting through to people regarding the importance of this. As America gets older (and sicker), more and more people will know someone in need of a transplant.

Just like with gay marriage, knowing and loving someone affected by an issue makes you more likely to support it. To me this means that in coming years, people will be more open to donation. I want to make sure that when that happens, those who have already lost loved ones and talked to us have a positive feeling towards the organization I work for.

It’s our jobs to make something positive come out of a sad situation and give people a chance to live on through others. We can’t do that unless we’re constantly taking care of public opinion regarding what we do.

I definitely didn’t mean to go on such a long pro-donation ramble, but I just feel so passionately about this. And considering the fact that all I do in NYC is work, volunteer, church, and sleep, it’s a big portion of my life here.

I’m looking forward in the near future to do more that just that. Now that the husband is working more, I at least get to go out to his gigs because they usually let me in free.

But even though I’m not out at amazing restaurants and cool clubs all the time (or, couch, ever), I’m really doing okay.

The time I spend away from home is so fulfilling, and really a lot of fun.

At work I’m saving lives with the click of a button, and co-workers are crazy and fun in the best way possible.

At church, I’m growing closer to God. And I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going on with the young adult ministry, it seems like it could be fun.

At one of my volunteer things, I get to tutor (which y’all know I love) and play with a new baby.

At the other volunteer thing, I’m hanging out in the Village, and becoming part of a really amazing family of good people who just like being together and making someone else’s day a bit better.

Since the second I signed the lease on our lovely little brownstone apartment, I’ve loved living in New York. But since things have evened out a bit more, I love it even more.

Now if I could just figure out the best way to navigate the public school system here so we don’t have to move one day when we have kids…

Big Changes Coming

There will be a change coming soon to the look of my blog. I’m going to have to do it because now the look is Chicago-centric. I’m a born and raised Chicago girl after all, so it made sense to have it that way.

But now, drum roll please…


I am about to become A Chicago-Style Girl in New York City!


That’s right, I’m moving to the Big Apple on July 15th. It all happened so fast. I’ve been alluding here and there on this blog for months that a change might come, but I never really got too much into it. There was just so much up in the air, I didn’t eve know where to start.

The uncertainty of my future coupled with my shame over not staying on a consistent exercise schedule made it difficult to find the motivation to blog. Add to it how busy my life is, and you have a perfect storm of neglect.

I should start vlogging. That way I can just chat about what I want to say and don’t have to go back over it for spellcheck.

But back to the point at hand. I’m moving to NYC!!

Here’s what happened.

The husband has always intended to move to New York. He’s a jazz musician and New York is the place to see where his career can really go. We’ve planned on heading there the entire time we’ve been together.

The plan was for me to look for work in the donation/transplant field that I currently work in and for the husband to apply for grad school.

But then he didn’t apply for grad school, and our plans got pushed back a year.

This year, he applied, but extra late. Lucky for him, he got into Queens College, which is where he really wanted to go. Apparently there’s some amazing saxophone person there he really wants to learn from/study with.

Once it was clear the husband actually turned in an application for grad school, I started applying for jobs in New York. There weren’t a lot of them available that fit what I wanted to do with what I’m qualified to do, but I still applied.

I got a couple of bites here and there, but nothing that resulted in a job offer.

After a series of unfortunate events, the husband decides he isn’t going to start grad school until January 2014. Pretty much immediately after that, I got a call for an interview in New York. My girls and I had a weekend trip up there, and the timing worked out for the interview.

When I went, I fell even more in love with the city. Walking around Central Park, hanging out in Chelsea, and riding the subway  just felt so right. The interview went really well (they had me there for three hours!), and they called to offer me the job the very next day.

This was last Tuesday.

Things have been on such a whirlwind since then. Since our lease was up at the end of June, I was more than happy to move out, but now had to plan for an almost immediate move to NYC. We don’t have all the details worked out yet, but this is happening.

The husband and I are at my parents for a few weeks until it’s time for me to head to New York and try to find an apartment. My last day of work is July 12th. There are a million things to do between now and then.

But for blogging purposes, I will soon be A Chicago-Style Girl in NYC. Wish me luck!

Let’s Do It Again

Anyone familiar with the Staple Singers? I love music from before and right around the time I was born (this song clearly being almost ten years before). Those people could put together an entire song without ever saying two complete sentences. Good job Curtis Mayfield.

This barely PG song was running through my mind as I was feeling like getting back on top of all the goals I’ve set for myself.

Today is the first day in a while I’ve felt better about work. Things are still up in the air about so many aspects of my department, but at least I’m getting used to it. Having a new boss, having different job duties, and having different employees was really a lot to take in all at once.

I’ve been reading a lot of great blog posts around about how to handle stress. It gave some great tips, but it also just reminded me to acknowledge the stress and not hermit crab myself until it passed. Almost as soon as I looked the stress right in the eye, it dissipated.

I’m still not crazy about things at work, but I have a whole new perspective.

Ah, who am I kidding. I feel better because I see a way out. When you fix one part of your life, the rest seems to feel less important. Our lease on the apartment I’ve come to hate is up June 30th.

Obviously, I’ll be turning Project UnPack into Project Downsize-and-RePack. Wish me luck. I really have no choice but to get shit done in the next couple months. If I tell myself that a few more times, perhaps I’ll really mean it.

Since I’m getting my projects back on task, I’ll take a look at being healthy again. My blog was judging me as Day 90 came and went for the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis. I really dropped the ball on that one.

If I start again (for the third time), I’ll start back at the beginning. I’m thinking I should. It was going well when I was making time for it no matter what and when I was utilizing MyFitnessPal.

A new friend I met through UBP13 named Danielle over at Motivating Mommy has invited me to friend her on the app/website. She’s my first friend on that site, so I’m looking forward to using that to get back into it. Can you tell I’m barely effective at utilizing social media?

So with Project RePack, starting over at Day 1 for Tracy Anderson, and finding a balance at work, I’ve got an awful lot on my plate. You know what always smooths things out for me? Shopping!

I don’t really have the expendable income to do a lot of shopping for myself, but I can do shopping for others. There are birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays coming up soon. Today, I just purchased the birthday gift for our twin nieces. We’re getting them these adorable old school style lunch boxes. Want to see a sample of what they look like? Of course you do!

So adorable, right? And these are just a few options they have.

So adorable, right? And these are just a few options they have.

If you click the screenshot, it will take you to the Frecklebox website, and you can have a closer look.I purchased two already and the gifts are shipping soon my way customized for each girl. Even though it’s not for me, a bit of shopping really just rounds out my week and takes the edge off.

For clarity’s sake, this wasn’t sponsored at all. If it were, the picture would be better, the post more streamlined, and praise more effusive.

Aside from the shopping-when-I-have-no-money, who’s getting back on track with me? Being healthy, reducing stress, making your house apartment a home? Let’s do this!

Just Stop Dogging Me Around

If you love Michael Jackson songs like I do, then you know more about his lyrics than the casual music listener. I lump him in with Mariah Carey, Steven Tyler, and Prince. Not because they are mega stars with hordes of fans. They are all lumped together because I never know what the hell they’re saying in their song lyrics.

But being the Michael Jackson fan I am, I know his lyrics. And in his song Leave Me Alone, he only strings together two full sentences in the whole thing. In spite of not saying much, he’s truly expressing how I feel right now.

Sometimes you just wanna be left alone, you know? You get to feeling under-appreciated. And the same people not appreciating you are constantly asking you for things. It’s hard not to let that feeling take over your whole world.

I’m feeling this way right now because of work. If you read this blog a lot, which I still don’t understand because I’m not that interesting, then you know I waffle back and forth on how I feel about my job.

I love my line of work and I love how I’m able to help people without having to directly deal with them. But I also sometimes hate my job and fantasize about winning the lottery and quitting Dave Chapelle style. I’ve recently realized that my love-hate relationship with my job has more to do with the people I work with than the work I do.

When no one needs me to solve an immediate emergency, I’m good. I churn out my reports and hop on the phone with a sparkling personality. I wow folks at meetings and speed through my to-do list. That scenario is the exception unfortunately.

These last few days, it’s been tough. I’m finally starting to understand why my dad was the way he was when I was growing up. He’s got a lot of difficult people at his job; his workplace has a much higher percentage of those type of people than I do. He would come home from work and not want to talk or do anything really. I remember wondering why he brought stress from work home with him.

But now I get it. It’s just so hard to leave work at work. In an effort to maintain a certain level of professionalism at work, I have to suppress my ire toward certain people and situations. The one outlet I had at work to get that shit out and not keep it bottled has been whisked away from me in the sea of changes implemented in the last few months.

So now I have nothing. I have a terrible poker face, so it’s obvious when I’m upset. In spite of my terrible poker face, my words and actions stay professional. All of that professional crap is draining, and by the time I get home, I just want to do nothing. I want to stare mindlessly at some movie I’ve already seen 100 times and go to bed early and wake up late.

My plan to deal with work is fine because it gets me through until things even back out again. But I don’t really have a good plan for being at home after a difficult time at work. I don’t know how the husband is going to deal with it. So far, it hasn’t been going well. He doesn’t understand why I’m upset and he doesn’t get why I don’t want to talk about it. It just takes so much energy to try and not be a monster at work and to try and not be a monster at home.

At work, things are too busy for someone to bother me for too long. Their phone rings or they have another meeting, so they back off eventually. But at home, there is no reprieve. The husband wants to talk about why I’m upset. And then he wants to talk about why I don’t want to talk about being upset. And then he wants to talk about why I seem irritated at the though of talking about why I don’t want to talk about being upset. I wish I were exaggerating, but this happens at least once a week.

The husband is so much better at letting things roll off his back than I am. Sometime I wish I could take on a bit more of his personality because it’s a lot harder to get him down. I admire him because It has to be difficult for him to be with someone like me who’s default is just to shut down. People, I need some advice.

Does anyone have both a demanding job and a spouse who wants all of your attention when you’re at home? How do you find a balance? How do you stay sane?

This weekend is a birthday party for one of my friends. I’m sure I can rally and be in a good mood after work on Saturday for this party. I can always rally for a holiday or birthday, but there won’t be any more of those until the middle of next month. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers and hope things calm down at the job.

I Hold In My Hand

An Easter Egg

-Easter was fun this year. My brother’s birthday fell on the day, as it does every handful of years. Making a birthday dinner fitting his tastes while also making our typical Easter food was a fun challenge. Before dinner was a great church service. I had a meeting at work in the morning before church, so I was on time to church for the first time in months. Perhaps if I went to church seven days a week, I’d actually leave work at a reasonable hour.

The praise team and the choir were pretty good. The new drummer at the church does not like to let a song end. He isn’t entirely new, but I work a lot of Sundays, so he’s new to me. But imagine any Tyler Perry movie you’ve seen. We don’t have anyone back-flipping down the aisles like Mr. Brown, but there’s definitely some Holy Ghost party stuff happening when the drummer hits that reprise.

After church was crazy because the Sunday School, of which my mother is superintendent, made Easter baskets for all the children. Imagine over 50 kids age 0-18 running around hopped up on sugar. I was standing in a corner with my fingers crossed as if avoiding a jinx. All those children running around scared me. I felt it might be contagious, so I avoided anyone too young for school and definitely all those with parasites pregnant women. Don’t get me wrong, I love babies and I read all the mommy blogs, I just like to watch from afar and avoid joining the ranks for now.

Your Job

-This weekend was full of meetings and evaluations. I’m still getting adjusted to this part of being a supervisor. Almost everyone who knows me will tell you I’m a bossy person. I like to tell folks what to do. But I’m no Donald Trump. Saying you’re fired doesn’t come easily for me. I haven’t had to fire anyone, but I’ve had some get-it-together-so-you-don’t get-fired talks.

I like people to keep their jobs, so I focus on the meetings where I inform someone they’ve earned a raise. I suppose this part of it will get easier with time, but I was happy to get back to work today and escape to my spreadsheets and reports. The numbers never need to hear “get it together.”

A Glass of Champagne

-As I said earlier, Easter was also my brother’s birthday. It was his 30th birthday. It was nice to have a party with close friends and family there. My brother isn’t really big on family, so it was nice when he wanted to have a party that included family. His godfather came with his family. The older daughter of the family was one of my best friends when we were children. She was there with her husband and son. Even though her son is only 3, I made an exception to my earlier rule and uncrossed my fingers to hang out with him. Although I did have to tell little man to stay away from my husband once the husband hugged him and said, “I want one!”

We had a really enjoyable time, and the drinks were flowing. Mimosa, beers, and champagne gave everyone a happy buzz. Nothing goes with lamb, crab legs, turkey wings, ham, pot roast, and prime rib like champagne. We had a few vegetables as well. But only a very few.

The TV Remote

-I feel like I will never catch up with American Idol. Why they insist on having no way to view episodes after airing other than DVR is beyond me. I have 22 episodes queued up to watch on the DVR at my parents’ house. I only managed to watch one on Sunday after dinner. What crazy person decided they should take up 4-6 hours of television every week. I’ll never catch up. So I’m avoiding all news and media reports of who the Top 10 and Top 8 are and all that. I’ll probably be purchasing the CD of the winner before I even finish watching Hollywood week. There must exist some bootleg website (THAT I WOULD NEVER SUPPORT) that can help me so I can watch this show without taking over my parents’ TV.

Back to the Grind

The day that shall forever be known as “The Day I Didn’t Become Infamous For Starting A Strep Epidemic” preceded a day I barely remember.

I was so damn sick, y’all. It’s not even funny. I acted like a whiny little bitch all morning, and the wonderful man I married put up with it.

He asked if I wanted soup, and of course I did. He offered to go buy me Progresso soup. I was hurt that he’d suggest canned soup to me when I had an amazing recipe for chicken noodle soup.

So I whined that I wanted my soup recipe, and he offered to go the grocery store and then cook it for me. I laughed incredulously at the thought that he could make home-made soup.

I’m so damn rude sometimes. But the husband acknowledges that even with me talking him through each step from the couch, something would likely go wrong.

At this point, I had no intention of getting off the couch. Feeling as horrible as I did, my raging hunger finally got me up off the couch and to the stove. I drugged myself up really good so I did no coughing, sneezing, or sniffling over the soup.

The soup was delicious and totally worth the worsening malaise. The husband rubbed my lower back for me after we finished eating because he’s the best.

The next 30 hours after that are a complete blur. I took medicine and mindlessly watched episodes of Misfits. It’s this British show we get through Hulu Plus. Crazy sci-fi weirdness and lots of slang I don’t understand, but I love that show!

When it was time to go back to work, I felt better. I’m still working on getting rid of this cough, but at least no one in my family got sick. I let my co-workers know who was the lucky winner in the Who-Got-Me-Sick Sweepstakes. I’m just glad I didn’t get the flu or strep throat.

So now I’m back on a three day string at work. Working hard and keeping pace with the constant change has become and every day part of life. At this point, we don’t even get whiplash when something major changes. But I will focus on the positive and be grateful that I don’t have one of those jobs that is the same day in and day out. Monotony blows.

Working On My Optimism

I’ve stepped behind the veil y’all. I see people in a different light than I used to. Which people you ask? I’m not talking about the husband, my friends, or my family. They’re all as crazy and lovable as ever. I’m talking about co-workers.

I’ve always described my office as a lovely place to work because everyone is so nice, good-looking, and smart. I like to have pretty and sense everywhere I look and I get that here at work. That makes life easier when you deal with death 12 hours a day, you know?

Since becoming supervisor, I’ve dealt with a lot of revealing facts. People who always seemed so nice are turning into ogres. Dealing with my own inadequacies as a supervisor hasn’t been easy either. I’m certain the person in particular I’m thinking of would also describe me as a monster. Neither of us are monsters; we just want what’s best from our perspective, and our perspectives don’t always line up.

It’s so unfortunate that you can never really replace office politics with warm fuzzy never-ending understanding. I think I’m waking up from my fatigue earlier in the week though because I’m feeling optimistic again. I feel like I have the support of my management and most of my staff. With that support, I feel like we can accomplish anything and make any compromise work.

I’ll probably feel the exact opposite this time next week.

It’s just hard to not get invested emotionally in the situations, you know? I want things to go well. I’m acutely feeling  how the decisions and compromises I make affect the morale and career of my staff. I feel anxiety when I think of it. It helps that no one’s entire career is in my hands. If I stay on the management track, I’ll clearly have to work on being alright with it. But that’s a problem for another day.

I don’t know where my career is going to take me, but I hope it takes me somewhere near where I am now. I like being involved in decisions big and small. I love being on hand to implement new processes. And I really like being in charge of giving what is most likely the fairest evaluations people will ever receive.

I’m all about the numbers and targets set. I don’t let my personal opinions shadow performance. I do let my observations of work color it. And nothing that shows up in my evaluations is news to the person being evaluated because we have monthly status meetings. If I’m ever in charge of developing an evaluation system, it will grow from the way my job does things now.

Now I feel like I’m talking about work too much. But I just wanted to get something down because I’m feeling pretty strongly about it. I love my job and I feel like I’m rising to the challenge of taking off the rose-colored glasses. At the very least, I’m soaking every moment up and trying to learn as much as possible.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn something real about being a supervisor. If I’m in charge of people, I will be damn good at it.

Christmas Recap And A Plan For The Future

The last post I wrote was all about how I wasn’t feeling Christmas this year. I said how I wanted to just fast forward through to 2013. I must admit that feeling hasn’t gone away. But I have found the need to get some more balance in my life. Blogging is one of the ways I manage to feel balanced, and so I’m back to try not to depress the hell out of everyone in the last couple days of 2012. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas in spite of lack of money, a bit too many national tragedies, and a fiscal cliff threatening to pull all the news stations in with it.

On to not depressing you. My Christmas was lovely. We spent Christmas Eve night at the husband’s parents’ house just hanging. We spent Christmas Day early at my parents’ house for brunch. Then we all went up to Evanston for a Christmas dinner at the house of one of the husband’s aunts. Well, not all of us. One of the gifts my parents received for Christmas was Bulls tickets, so they went to the game instead of dinner with the rest of us.

I was so full from their Christmas brunch though, I barely had room for dinner. I mostly just ate the pot roast the husband’s mother made. It’s so good. I ate so much of it at Thanksgiving, my stomach was going through withdrawal. So I had my pot roast fix and my stomach is currently devising ways to get her to make more even though we’re past all the major cooking holidays for now.

If you read my last post, you’re probably wondering if I ended up getting potpourri drawer things for all the women in my world. The answer would be no, I did not. The husband and I ultimately decided to get house gifts for everyone. We got a house gift for my parents, his parents, one of his older sisters, and my grandmother.

We got actual gifts for three of our nieces and our one great-niece. Our lives were made easier because most of the adult siblings etc. still live at home for various reasons (read, not because they are going nowhere in life but because life’s circumstances are kicking them), so they got lumped in with the house gifts.

We still went over budget, which sucks, but we got gifts we really felt everyone could really use and love. My two favorite purchases were the area rug for the husband’s parents and the electric carving knife for my parents. No more big open floor space, though I will miss seeing the great expanse of gorgeous hardwood floors. And for my parents, no more questionably carved… everything. I must admit one of daddy’s strong suits isn’t slicing or carving any meat. Hopefully, that will change now.

Even though I wasn’t feeling Christmas, I still had the Christmas I wanted. I forced my Christmas playlist on myself and really found myself enjoying the tunes in the days leading up to Christmas. How many times can you say Christmas in one paragraph? Anyway, I had good food and good company, which was all I wanted. And neither set of parents had any trees or lights up, so I felt right at home. Maybe we’ll all do better next year.

So about this balance I’ve been saying I needed to find. It’s related to work.  Since I got my promotion at work, it’s just been work. Work. WORK. The job requirements are more than any human can accomplish in a work week. There are things I’m expected to do outside of the hours I’m at the building. Donation is a 24 hour business after all. That being sad, I hate being less than adequate at anything, so I was all about work. Then I realized I was getting no sleep, eating no food, having no sex. It’s a real problem. I have since recommitted myself to finding more of a balance.

In my head, I’ll be blogging more frequently, trying to re-focus my blog on the things I think my readers will actually find interesting. I think my life as a newly married woman in Chicago is pretty interesting. I’ve discovered some great places in this city through hunting for good food and music with the husband. I also really love my job and what I do, though I try not to talk too much about work, but maybe I can find something to share that doesn’t violate HIPAA.

Of course, I’d like to get back on the exercise bandwagon. I’m not a fan of my profile and I shudder to think how difficult it will be to get back in shape after kids if I’m out of shape before we even start. And no, that was not a sideways reveal of a plan to start having kids. It was more of a reveal of the true depth of my vanity. I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t even contemplated doing anything else but sitting on the couch and re-charging after work. But no more! My life will  be more than spreadsheets, and one on one meetings, and auditing phone calls. It will include baking, and exercising, and blogging.The husband has been really patient with this transition. I think I owe it to both of us to turn back into a real person.

I don’t know if I can just wake up tomorrow and be this whole new person, but I’m sure as hell going to try. I know what I need to do, so it’s just a matter of doing it. I’ve tried making new year’s resolutions. I’ve tried scheduling everything in. I’ve tried self-determination. None of that works long-term, so perhaps now I’ll try a combination of them all. I’ve learned I need to gear up slowly.

Have you ever tried to jump in with both feet into something new? Some people can do it, but not me. When I do it, I go strong for a bit, but eventually I fatigue. Whoever said three weeks was enough time to train people to new activity and habit was a liar and a fraud. It takes waaay longer. All I know is I need decompression time if I’m going to sustain an activity that sucks all my energy.

So what’s first up in my plan to re-gain balance? Well, duh, it was blogging. That’s why you’re reading this post. Once I’ve got blogging consistently back in my life, then I’ll add something else. My work out DVDs are calling, but I don’t know if they’ll be it. We’ll see. But you’ll get no new year’s resolution list from me, so stop asking. Oh, well, since you twisted my arm, I’ll at least let you know how I did on my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions.

Just over a year ago, I wrote my new year’s resolutions post. It was full of wonderful things I wanted to focus on for 2012.

1) Cook dinner for the fiancé at least once a week. This is one I came pretty close to accomplishing. On average, I definitely did accomplish this one. Some weeks, I didn’t cook at all. Others, I cooked several times. I’d say this was a mission accomplished.

2) Go to some sort of production/media thingee once a month. This can be as extravagant as the opera, or as simple as a movie theater. Fail. I think I’ve seen three or four movies this year. I’ve been to no plays, no musicals, no orchestra performances, no ballets. It seems now the only live performance I see is when the husband has a gig. Thank God his music is good.

3) Exercise an average of 3 times a week. This can be going jogging or yoga. Fail again. And to think I thought I’d still have time for yoga, or a desire for jogging. I hate running! I did find Tracy Anderson though. She’d be good to me if I ever popped her DVD into the player. But it’s on my to-do list for 2013. I will get back on track.

4) Improve my diet to a point where I’m only eating fried foods once a week. This one is in between. I rarely eat fried foods. I’ve even managed to get more vegetables on the table at big family dinners. But my intake of potato chips and things like that undermines my lessened consumption of fries, fried fish, and fried chicken.

5) Finish unpacking my apartment by April. Major Fail. I just really want to get out of Hyde Park, and I think not unpacking is a symptom of that. Some part of me never wanted this place to feel too home-y because then we’d never fucking leave. I realize that’s irrational now (though we are still here when we should reside in New York by now…), and I plan to ge it done. I have to actually unpack, so I can re-pack whenever we move the hell away from here.

6) Get another cat. This one I actually did! Jazz is a crazy cat, but she fits in perfectly with our family.

7) Use one of my bridal shower gifts at least once a week. Giggity. Eh, except for when I got my promotion, I guess we sort of made this work. There are still a couple of things I haven’t used yet. But I just can’t imagine the cleaning afterward if I put on the candy underwear. I’m not ready for it yet.

So, I didn’t do so hot on my list. I did better than I thought I did though. I’ve learned setting firm deadlines means nothing if you don’t have the time or motivation to make it happen. Maybe I’ll look up motivation techniques to do things you hate the idea of. I’m not referring to exercise, I’m referring to unpacking this apartment. I just really don’t want to do it. This is the only place I’ve ever lived that never felt like home to me. Perhaps we’ll get it right next time, and we’ll live in a place I can’t wait to make home.

How was your Christmas?Any great plans for self-improvement in the new year?

Settling Into The Day Shift

I’m loving my new job. It’s just that simple. Each day I work I learn more about my job and how best to do it. I like the sense of challenge and/or accomplishment I’m feeling almost all the time now. We’re only a c ouple weeks in, but so far, so good.

Being awake during the day all the time now means being asleep at night all the time now. It’s really an adjustment for me. I’m naturally more of a night person to begin with. If you consider that I’ve been on night shift for the last 18 months and was unemployed for 12 months before that, you can see how I’ve had a lot of time to embrace my natural state.

Then suddenly, I’ve got to be in bed by 9 at the latest. It’s laughable to think that’s still my goal bedtime. I don’t think I’ve accomplished it more than once. If I work two days in a row, I’m not even home until after 8:30 PM, and that’s not even enough time to brush my teeth and pick out my clothes for the next day. But of course, I’m usually not home. There’s always a family gathering, or the husband has a gig, or there’s an episode of a favorite show that I simply have to watch on a specific night (while I retouch my nails). And once I’ve fulfilled my duties as a well-groomed daughter/wife/TV junkie, I can go to bed in peace knowing 1-3 less hours of sleep won’t be that bad.

And that is why I’ve downed at least 20 cups of coffee since I got the promotion. I love the way coffee tastes, but I’ve never been a coffee drinker out of necessity. You will do some strange things in the name of being good at your job. For instance, while shopping at Target, for a baby shower gift on my lunch break, I downed a caramel brulee latte in less than five minutes. I didn’t even let it cool down. I was just so tired, I needed to mainline the caffeine and get back on top. I wonder if this is how habits start. I haven’t had any coffee since that day earlier this week. But then again, I haven’t been that tired either. How long before a need turns into a want?

Nobody can make something as simple as a cup of coffee dramatic like I can, huh?

I really do have a good reason for needing all the coffee though. Her name is Jazz, and she’s an asshole.

The adorable cat that lives in my house, making all new visitors fall in love with her is a jerk to the tallest degree. Both cats are, really, but the baby is even worse. Our cats have learned how to wake the husband and I up when they want to. It usually involes sitting on your back/chest/side. That way, their weight slowly crushes your ribcage and you have to wake up from the lack of comfort and reduction in oxygen. They also will reach from a distance that’s just far enough away for their arm length and scratch us. Not a mean or sharp scratch, just an insistent scratching like you’d do if you had an itch on your nose that won’t go away.

Five straight minutes of either of those things, and trust me, you are awake. Belle, our older cat usually reserves her jerkiness for the husband. If she wants to be by me while I’m asleep, that usually just means snuggling up next to me and making judgy eyes at the husband or Jazz when they dare disturb us. Oh but Jazz, as I said, is an asshole.

She’s on my old night schedule. I understand that a couple weeks is not enough time for a young cat to act like she has sense. But it is too much to ask to leave me alone if it’s clear I’m sleep and not getting up? If it’s daytime and she wakes me and I don’t want to be bothered, she finds something else to do with her time. But if it’s night, namely 12:30 AM, it’s a no holds barred wake-your-ass-up-and-play-with-me fest. My first three days at work involed being awake at 12:30 AM on the dot with a cat sitting on my chest pawing my face.

The next week, she would sit next to me and get a claw stuck in my hair. When I batted her away and rolled to the other side, she walk around and start messing with my nose, arm, shoulder, or whatever she could reach that wasn’t covered by blanket. It was horrible. I was in deep sleep at this point. Each night she woke me, I was surprised to find I’d only been sleep for a short time. Then I got to try and go back to sleep, but of course my sleep was never as good the second go round.

It hasn’t gotten any better yet, but I’m expecting it will eventually. Jazz is the more stubborn of the two cats, but she likes love too much to keep doing things that get her kicked out of the bed.

Why don’t I just close the door? Yes, I heard you asking all the way through your e-mail or Google reader or however you read this blog. I can’t do that, it isn’t an option. The cats have free reign of the house. This means if a door is closed, they try relentlessly to open it. And while a cat scratching my arm for 2 minutes is bad, a cat scratching at a closed bedroom door for 20 minutes every hour on the hour is far worse.

So for now I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping the cats adjust to my new day schedule. Because otherwise I’ll end up hooked on coffee, shaking and jittery waiting on my next caffeine hit. And I’m pretty sure that will affect my job performance. I don’t want that because I like my job.

Having Crazy Dreams

In the weeks leading up to my wedding, I started having nightmares. Back then I was blogging about my wedding on Weddingbee, so I’d heard of pre-wedding nightmares. They usually consisted of missing dresses, missing grooms, missing guests, etc. My nightmares were nothing like that. Mine included hundreds of unfamiliar eyes, staring at me unrelentingly, and ruining the intimacy of my whole day.

The nightmares got worse the closer the wedding was. I think I freaked out the husband (then fiancé) by asking if we could not get married as planned. But once I assured him that I definitely wanted to get married, just not as planned, he fixed it. We got married early with 20 people in attendance, including us, the ministers, and the musician. It was amazing and intimate and everything I wanted, and my nightmares immediately ended. I slept great the next three nights leading up to the big ass wedding we had with 300+ people in attendance.

Since then, I haven’t had many nightmares. I’ve always been an either happy dreamer or prescient dreamer. Crazy unhappy dreams aren’t really my thing. So when the bad dreams started again, I was frustrated to find the husband couldn’t quickly fix it for me. Well, I didn’t have to even “find” it out. I already knew because the dreams are work related, and obviously the husband can’t fix work-related anxiety manifesting itself through crappy ass dreams.

This most recent dream involved me showing up to work after a week off only to find that three younger siblings of an ex had been hired. They were hired to replace three people who got promoted to fill supervisor positions. Two of the three people promoted to supervisor were a couple, making their dual promotion all the more unlikely.

I’ve been hinting toward this for weeks without directly talking about it, but this dream likely makes it clear  to you, my dear readers, that I’m currently waiting to hear about a possible promotion at work. Armed with that additional knowledge, perhaps you can imagine how harrowing this dream was. To have my co-workers replaced by siblings of an ex is bad enough. The detail of why the rest is so bad isn’t even important because it’s the siblings of an ex!!

Oh how I wish the husband could fix this for me. The higher ups at my office will decide soon enough though. If I get the promotion, great. And if I don’t, I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll be fine. It’s really the not knowing that is the problem. I hate feeling this anxiety. Considering it’s only happened to me twice in the last year, I should be grateful. There are a lot of people who experience far worse anxiety, some in my own family.

I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that they decide soon. I really don’t want to see who will pop up in my dreams the next couple of days if this remains unsettled.

And Then The Fight Started

Today the husband and I had to put on pants. Trust me, we didn’t want to. But it was for a good reason. We had a meeting with friends of his to discuss some different directions we could begin to take his career.

Having friends who have done what you’re trying to do is invaluable. And we had the meeting at a cafe up the street from our house, so we also had dinner. Roast beef and short ribs, yum.

The meeting led to a discussion of new revenue the husband could potentially bring in. This led to a discussion of our changing revenue stream over the course of our relationship.

When we first met, I was unemployed and he was looking for a new school to teach at. Then he got a job teaching in St. Louis and I was still unemployed. I finally got a great job here in Illinois. Then we got engaged and he moved back to Chicago.

After working for a year here, while working on his first CD release, we decided we could afford (no mortgage or kids) to have this year be when the husband focused solely on his music. There’s been a definite difference in disposable income. But it’s been so worth it.

How many people get to spend their time building a career they are so passionate about and also so good at? I’m grateful that with my income plus the money he makes on gigs, tours, and CD sales puts us somewhere in the higher range of what the government considers middle class.

The husband doesn’t like to think or talk about the difference in our income. Don’t misunderstand, he’s not some macho man that can’t handle his lady making good money. He just wants to feel like he’s an adult who carries his own weight and isn’t dependent on anyone.

This is when the fight starts. I know that it is only because of my income that he was able to stop teaching this year and focus on his music. I think he should acknowledge that fact and then move on. We made the decision for us to focus on his dreams as a family, but sometimes I feel like I’m forcing him to let me be the primary breadwinner.

The husband is no starving artist. Without his income, I’d barely qualify as middle class. But if he were single, he would have to have several roommates to live somewhere other than his parents’ house.

I think until he wins a Grammy or something, this will just be an ongoing discussion between the two of us. He’ll say he hates any feelings of dependency and I’ll say get over it we both depend on each other.

All I know is if and when his career takes off and he becomes an internationally acclaimed jazz musician who makes a bunch of money for all his shows, we won’t ever have this fight. I’ll gladly stop working. In between shopping, I’ll put together a business plan for the lounge we dream of owning someday.

But for now, just don’t ask about our bills. They all get paid from our joint checking account, which both of our paychecks go into, and that’s all that matters.

Going To Work

EDITED because writing blog posts on my new Samsung phone doesn’t always produce coherent English.

Today was one of the only times I can remember not being eager to go to work. I love my job, so even when I’m dead tired, I still drag my butt into the shower to get ready. But today was just not that kinda day. Once I was actually here, I felt much better.

I guess some days are like that. Recently, I’ve been doing tasks that aren’t in my now description, which causes additional stress. I like trying new things and learning as much about the different facets of my job as possible. It makes upward mobility that much easier. But that doesn’t make it any lures stressful.

I can’t wait to be back home. Some parts of a job are just harder than others, you know? And being at home let’s more recoup. And when I’m fully charged, I’m even better at my job.

I wonder if other people think about their career as much as I do. Right now, working in organ and those donation is something I could make a career out of. I’m good at it and I enjoy the work. Does that mean this should my career? I don’t know, I really don’t know.

I have to think about career path options. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. For now, all I know is, if I only want to avoid work one day out of every six months, that’s great.

How often do you think about your career path? Is your career going how you thought it would?

Playing Catch-Up All Weekend

I had gotten quite used to working just two days in a row and then having a day or two off. That is officially my favorite way to work, at least at my job. There’s virtually no chance of emotional or mental burn out. But that is not always my life. This weekend, I’m working three days (Friday-Sunday), and I’m trying to be okay with it. But there’s just so much to do. As I’m writing this, I’m half-way through the weekend, but I already feel behind.

My job is doing this annual competency review thing. It basically means we do all the things we normally do every day for work. But instead of it being real life-saving work, we’re doing it for fake. And we’re putting it into a binder for our supervisors to go through. My opinion on this project can be deduced, so I’ll just not state it.

My job is pretty extensive, so my binder is freaking huge. It’s due in a few days, but I haven’t had the time to work on the fake job assignments because I’m too busy doing real job assignments. I long for last years review when I wasn’t fully trained yet so I was exempt from several parts of the binder.

To make like just a bit more crowded, I had to get up early before work yesterday. A girl from my church I mentor is headed to Hampton for college on Thursday. HBCU whoop whoop! Her trunk party was yesterday. I was representing both of my families: my parents/sibling, and my husband/in-laws.

I had to drop off a gift, grab a snack, a snap some pictures before heading to work. Her parents live about 35 min south of me and work it about 35 miles northwest of me. That wasn’t a fun driving trip, but it was worth it because otherwise I wouldn’t see her before she left.

I feel good about taking care of my girl. I gave her an ATM card that goes to an emergency fund. Anyone who has been to college without a silver spoon in their mouth knows having that emergency fund is a lifesaver when you can’t take the meal plan or you need to bail a friend out of jail. What? You didn’t bail at least three friends out of jail while you were at college? Well, she is going to Hampton and not FAMU, so maybe she won’t need to use the emergency money for bail like I did.

Once I got my butt to work, I decided today was the day for some serious multi-tasking. I had a big stack of charts to QA, so I figured I’d watch the Olympics while I was working. I know, the Olympics have been over for a week. I don’t want to hear it though because I didn’t get to watch a single event. I was always at work, or sleep, or doing laundry at my apartment without a laptop or cable. So I didn’t get to see anything. I’m playing late as hell catchup.

Mostly the events played in the background and I kept and eye out for runners crossing the finish line and things like that. The rhythmic gymnastics made me pause my work and really pay attention. Luckily, I had break time to use to do this because I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t know how I missed this is previous Olympic years, but I had missed it. I thought the floor routine and balance beams were great. But those things don’t have anything on this team event. It was like ballet and Cirque du Soleil and that one scene from Old School with Will Ferrel all mixed in. The things they could do in synchronization. Okay, I’m done going on about it, but seriously, if you’ve never seen it, you should check it out.

As the night came to and end, it really hit me that I am to getting enough sleep this weekend. I know I’ll pay for that on Monday when I’m still playing catch-up with chores. And working 5 days out of 6 makes it hard. I’ll have to clean the floor, the mirrors, the laundry, the cats’ area, etc. all in one day. So even though I do get one day off, I won’t be doing anything fun with that time. Unless you count whatever lingerie the husband picks for me to put on after my workout. Giggity.

I’m also looking forward to next weekend. The husband is playing in downtown Chicago. Then one of the bands he plays with is having a CD release party. If it goes well, I will be taking notes on things we can make happen for the husband’s CD release party which will hopefully be next month. If you like jazz, check out the group the husband will be playing with. It’s called Marquis Hill’s Blacktet.

Getting Too Comfortable At Work

I think it’s important to maintain some distance between myself and my co-workers. Not until I’m at a job in an office where I know I’ll be for 10 or so years will I set up shop and try to make friends. In order to maintain professionalism and to not have people in my business, I try to keep those boundaries.

I think I’ve been getting too comfortable lately. Here are some signs:

  1. Helping a co-worker pick out an engagement ring.
  2. Offering to cook dinner for everyone one night next week.
  3. Actually knowing everyone’s name.
  4. Having more than 4 cell numbers in my phone of co-workers.
  5. Knowing details about more than 3 people’s breakups/divorces.
  6. Having people know how to pronounce my real name.

That last one is the biggest sign. I go by CeCe at work because my real name is too hard to remember how to pronounce and spell. We deal with a lot of people of all races and languages of origin. Half the time, it’s over e-mail and pager. So to save everyone a lot of heartache, I’m just CeCe.

There are a couple co-workers who’ve felt that we’re close enough that they need to know my real name. As long as they aren’t shouting it out in front of other co-workers who will then want to know, I suppose it’s okay. But the number of people who know my real name is creeping up a little high for my taste. I can’t exactly stop telling people who ask though. That would be rude as hell.

I happen to be terrible with names, so the fact that I know everyone’s name is disconcerting. Our high turnover has been slowing, so it’s all the same people now. With only 2-4 new people coming in every six weeks, names are just easier to remember. Faces start to look different. It’s weird for me to see someone I haven’t seen in a month and I still know who they are.

When I bring in food from home, people always want to know what wonderful thing I’ve made. The hamburger stuffed with mozzarella and topped with sharp cheddar really got them going. Next thing I know, I was offering to take up a collection and menu suggestions and make dinner for everyone. I don’t know where that came from. I hope they don’t hold me to it. I shouldn’t have suggested it.

No one I’ve ever cooked for in the last 18 months has gone away from my life. It’s like I put catch-a-friend seasoning in my food. I’ve got to be careful if they do remember. But if I leave it to someone else to plan, I should be alright.

I really do like a couple people at my job. It just feels weird to cross that boundary from co-worker to friend. I try not to invest too much into people who are only in my life because of circumstances that have an expiration date, you know?

Who knows, maybe I’ll end up in the wedding of one of these people or something. More likely, I’ll be struggling to remember anyone’s name this time two years from now.

Saving Lives

It occurred to me recently why I really love going to work. I’m almost always in a good mood heading to work, and that seems a bit unusual. My job certainly isn’t my dream job, so why would I be so into it?

It’s because we save lives. The work I do keeps people alive. The people who get organs from a donor are those who may not live to see the next donation opportunity.

There are risks with donations that suck. Things can be transmitted like cancer, infection, etc. But the risk of being dead is a higher risk for people on the transplant list.

I feel so blessed to be a part of this line of work. I wish I could tell more, but we’re not allowed to talk about it. The people who are donors and the people who are recipients are protected. Their information isn’t available to share with the world.

Some people choose to stand up and say they’ve gotten a transplant. They talk about what a difference it made in their life. Others talk about a family member who was a donor. When someone is going to die and they are on a ventilator and their family chooses to let them be a donor, it’s  a great gift.

If you haven’t signed up to be a donor, please think about it.

If you want to sign up, go to Donate Life America. They’ll get you started.

If you are a donor, talk to your family about it. Don’t let it be a surprise when they get are informed by the hospital should the situation arise.

More Thoughts On My Career Path

I wrote a post exactly six months ago with musings on my career path. I gave it some more thought and now I want to talk about what I’m feeling on the matter.

Some background:

I used to be in medical school, but I withdrew because I didn’t want to be a doctor. If you’ve only ever read this blog and not my old ones, just know that this is a story for another time that I will explain one day. After I left medical school, I had to get a job. I like the field of medicine and knew I still wanted to be involved but only tangentially.

I thought I’d be doing research, but instead I’m doing organ and tissue donation. And I really freaking love my job. The only reason I ever don’t want to come to work is if I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I like this job enough to consider making it into a career. When you turn away from being a doctor, finding a new career is a daunting task. But I think I may have found it on the first try.

In doing my research, I have found out several things. 1) I can work anywhere on the planet because everyone does donation. 2) I can always find new things to try because there are so many facets to donation. I just will never be a transplant nurse or surgeon. 3) Administration is the way to go. With a Master’s and/or PhD, the pay scale jumps almost to the mid 6 figures at the very top.

I’m still not 100% sure I want to make a career out of donation. But I could, I really really could.

If I could add to my job some face-to-face interactions with either donor families or recipients, that would be even better.

Let’s play a game. It’s called, “In a Perfect World.” Usually I play this game with another dreamer friend where we imagine what would be perfection in our entire lives. It’s usually based solely on our motivations right at the moment, but it’s useful to assess reality compared to hopes/dreams.

But for today, “In A Perfect World” will be career only. In my perfect career world, I will be making 6 figures after taxes and tithing. I will do paperwork and occasionally make presentations to my peers. I will interact with families who my services help. I won’t be in charge of the money. I’ll still get to do the day-to-day work of making donation happen. I’ll have a couple more degrees under my belt. And most importantly, I’ll still love my job. Oh! And I’ll have time for my family and friends in there too.

If you were in a perfect world, how would you describe your career?

Are There Any Parts Of Your Job You Hate?

In my continued effort to blog about random things, I turn to my job. I’ve had this job for little over a year and I really like it. Actually, I kind of love it. I’m surprised to say it because I never intended to have the job I do.

I work in organ and tissue donation. I can’t get into too many details, mostly because I would hate for a Google search to bring someone I work with to my blog. I have a potty mouth where ever I go, but still. I can say that a big part of my job is getting families to donate the tissue of their deceased love ones and finding recipients for organ donors.

There’s a lot of different areas I could get into should I make this my career. Right now, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else because I love what I do so much. It’s even hard to imagine what I don’t like about this job, but I’m gonna work real hard and try.

I don’t like all the policy changes. Every time I come to work, the policy on how we do some aspect of our job has changed. But they just send random e-mails about it. So you can imagine how many different ways different employees get the same task done.

I really don’t like all the meetings. There are training sessions, follow-up training sessions, and staff meetings for all the aspects of the job. Because I do more than one type of job, I’ve got to attend more than one type of staff meeting. There is nothing worse than having to have my butt at a meeting that lasts waay too long talking about things that could be covered with one of those random e-mails.

My job has also taught me things I do like. I love paperwork. Yup, paperwork. Filling out spreadsheets, compiling data, and completing checklists is totally my thing. It’s why I thought I’d like research, but I hate being in a laboratory. Looks like being in administration is in my future, cause I love putting together a data analysis report. I know, I know, I’m a weirdo. Or maybe some sort of nerd. Probably I’m both.

You know what else I like? Answering the phone. I would’ve been an AT&T switchboard operator instead of a maid if they hired black people back in the day. I can answer some phones with the best of them. I work nights and my supervisors marvels and how I always sound pleasant on the phone, even at 4:30 am on a busy night.

The only part of answering phones I hate is when other departments ask me to do their work for them. I know I would’ve been a telephone operator in another life, but I’m sure as hell not one in this life.

I will talk more about my career path in the next week or so with my biannual career path post.

Are there any parts of your job you hate? Please don’t get yourself fired answering my question.

Arizona For One, But Not Two

There is a conference in Arizona this month. My job is paying for me to go. A long weekend at a resort spa for meetings that are finished early each day? Sounds perfect to me. Want to see?

The only thing that would make it more perfect is if the husband was coming with me. He has a pretty amazing gig that weekend that pays very well. Let’s just say that he’s making enough to cover an expensive plane ticket to Arizona, so it really doens’t make sense to go with me for only part of the weekend on skip the gig altogether.

This is the life we signed up for. The husband would never ask me to miss work to support his job, and neither would I. So other couples who have way more mutual free time would make a trip like this. We will find another way to cross Arizona off our list of states.

I’ve checked out the website for this hotel. There are many ways to keep myself occupied. Shopping, dinner, spa, swimming. I’ll be just fine.

There is one other person going from my department. His girlfriend is going with him to the conference. I’ve never met her before, so that should be fun.

It’s been so long since I’ve been to a conference that was work/career related. So I’m very excited.

A Crazy Call From The Police

No one wants to get a call from the police department at work. You think: “have I committed some felony and not realized it?” “Is someone dead?”

All sorts of things go through your mind. To ease your concern, this call was not about a felony or a death. A co-worker answered the phone and the police asked to speak with my father. Luckily, she recognized the last name and my maiden name and handed the phone call to me.

The police confirmed that the car in the parking lot was the one I drove to work and it was under my father’s name. Then they explained that a man called the police to say he had been driving while drinking and hit a car. He didn’t remember exactly when or where, just a general area, so the police took a look around the business park where my office building is located.

They saw my car and called to make sure that I was aware I may have had my car hit. I let them know the car had recently been in an accident and the damage on the back was likely from that. Side note: my father was driving when and got rear ended; I had nothing to do with the accident.

I went outside to confirm there was no new damage and moved on with my night. Then I thought about the situation some more. I was born and raised in Chicago. Police don’t go searching for car damage and then call people just to warn them just in case in Chicago. This is craziness.

It’s actually quite wonderful that the police in the area around my job are so diligent. It’s not so amazing when they set up alcohol check points and delay my staff on nights when I’m shift lead a half hour while out on break. But it is amazing in case there’s ever a crime committed.

One time, while at home, I called 911 to report gunfire outside my apartment building. The police barely took the information. They never came by to follow-up. And that was actual confirmed gunfire. Let’s just hope if a crime is committed against my car ever again, I’m at work and not at home, okay?

Climbing Up The Ladder At Work

There have been some changes going on at work recently. I’m not about to air our office gossip and drama on the internet, so I will skip to the important facts that pertain to me.

My main job duties include placing kidneys and the pancreas in organ donation cases. Only some of our office staff is trained to do this work. The kidney placer with the most seniority on each shift is the shift lead. Because of some moves around the office with other people’s training and switching to different shifts (and a lof of drama in between), I’m about to become a senior placer and a shift lead on most of my shifts.

I’ve only been working at this job since May 2011, but things have really worked out in my favor. Because of how quickly I trained, along with some office politics and drama, I’ve been left standing as the obvious choice to keep moving up.

With thoughts of moving to New York City in my mind I took a look at the open positions at the NYC counterpart of my office. The job that most appealed to me required some leadership experience in the field. The ambitious side of me started thinking.

I figured that if we do stay in Chicago for another year, the leadership experience of being a shift lead for over a year would definitely count toward me being qualified for that better position. I don’t know if the position would even be open this time next year, but it’s a possibility.

Non-profits have a pretty high turnover rate. If I have this job for 2 years and then only leave because my husband got into grad school in another state, they’ll know I have job loyalty and will be setting up shop for at least another 2 years. That’s a good investment for them.

I feel so blessed to have been trained so quickly, and to have stayed out of the work drama. When this opportunity came up, I was an obvious and agreeable choice for it. The other people who aren’t yet trained may be done training by March, but the shift lead position is mine.

Even if we do end up moving to New York this summer, I still will be glad for the opportunity to grow and learn more. If I make a career out of donation, I want every chance I can grab hold of to gain more experience.

I gotta say, it feels amazing to be a in position where it feels like no matter what move I make, I can’t go wrong.

My Future With The Fiancé

In my last post, I said that talking about our future with the fiancé was really helping me get over the hurdle of rebuilding our trust. I’d like to share what we’ve talking about recently.

At first, the plan was to move to New York City. That’s been the fiancé’s plan from even before he and I got serious. He wanted to go to NYC to play jazz and get a Master’s degree in Jazz Music Performance. I’ve always loved NYC and could see myself living there, so I figured I’d just get a Master’s there too in Health Administration. The plan was to go in 2012, which would be this summer.

When the time rolled around for the fiancé to apply to grad school, things hit a snag. He didn’t actually start applying. I think it was a combination of all the other things he had going on taking up all his time and him psyching himself out. I was getting frustrated with his lack of proactive behavior which to me seemed like lack of ambition.

I eventually felt like I should take some of the pressure off and tell him that we could still go to NYC this summer even if he wasn’t starting grad school in August. I told him that next year could be the year he’d take off to focus only on his music, something he’d always said he wanted to do at some point.

Then last weekend, he told me that he was thinking about not going to New York. Rather, he’d thought about putting it off for another year. We’ve been talking about how hard it is for him to teach and do gigs and work on his own music. He figured it would be nice to have that time to just do gigs and his own music.

He reasoned that it would be better to do that time in Chicago rather than New York. It was kind a of a shock because I always thought the plan was New York in 2012 or bust. Now we’re exploring staying in Chicago another year.

This affects me and my career as well. I had been holding off on looking too closely at the New York City version of the job I have now because I didn’t want to get too deep into it before it was closer to that time. I never told my job I might be trying to transfer to NYC because I only got hired in May of last year so I wanted to give it more time (and also blame it on the ambitions of my new husband and the virtue of compromise).

I even signed up for a mandatory work presentation in October (we all had to pick one) because I knew I’d be gone by then. If I’m honest with myself, I always worried about leaving a job a liked for a lateral move into a situation I wasn’t sure I’d like. And I didn’t like the idea of requesting a transfer before I’d even been here a year. But I was more than willing to do all this for a chance to live in NYC and expand my knowledge of organ and tissue donation in multiple regions.

So now things are kind of up in the air. Either option works for me. We could go to NYC this July and settle into our life there with him taking the time to build up his name there and really get into the music. Or we could stay here another year and I’ll have to do that presentation in October.

Either option gives him more time to wrap his head around grad school. It gives him some time to breathe between the wedding and the rest of our lives. It will let him focus on his music in a market he knows supports him. It will give me more job experience as a senior organ placer, which counts (sort of) as leadership experience. We won’t have to leave our friends and families so soon either.

There’s always the worry that we can always find a reason to push things back and wait another year. That’s true, but I feel like our lives are so fluid right now that if we’re going to be changing th eplan, now is the time to make big alterations in the plans.

I must admit I’m a bit excited to have all this up in the air. I don’t know what’s going to happen next and I can’t wait to see where we end up in 6 months.

Getting Access To Your Records

After watching far too many episodes of Leverage, and through the course of my job, I’ve realized something.

If someone wanted access to your records, it’d be pretty easy to get.

People call in to my job asking about people’s donor status, test results, surgical history, etc. If their call seems to be from one of our partner agencies, they get the information. We don’t confirm identities or anything. We just take people’s word for it.

Everything is recorded and verified. Eventually verified. It’s that “eventually” part that worried me.

It kind of freaks me out to know how easy a person’s information can be accessed. We bypass HIPAA or rather have an exception to HIPAA that allows us access to everyone’s information. By proxy, so do our partner agencies.

All the stuff that we figure is kept safe in our doctor’s files is open for the world to see. Now if you have no crazy stuff going on, you’re fine. Also, most of the time we access someone’s records, they’re dead or about to be dead. And it you’re dead, are you concerned about your records anymore? No, you’re not.

There is the occasional patient who gets called into us because they’re on a ventilator. We get all their information and share it with our partner agencies. But then they don’t die and all they’re stuff is out there.

No one at my office is selling medical histories on the black market, or whereever you’d sell that kind of stuff. We take our jobs very seriously. As far as I know, there’s never been a breach of confidentiality. Considering that we get hundreds of calls every single day (lots o’ people die in Illinois), that’s a very big success rate.

This is mostly because of my too many episodes of Leverage. but let’s say someone wanted to access a recently deceased person’s records for nefarious purposes. I’m not going to say what they’d do to get it ( *cough* fake being an employee of another agency *cough*), but most of our business is conducted by phone and fax. Hardison and Parker would have all our shit in like 10 min flat.

But enough worrying… your records are fine… Probably…

I apologize because I did write this at like 5:00 am, when really sleepy at work. I get like this. And I watch too much TV.

Some Thoughts On My Career Path

Back when I was in medical school (I will eventually write a post explaining that situation to my newer readers), I lamented the fact that the next 30 years of my career were basically planned out for me. I envied my friend who were getting Master’s Degrees and working for non-profits.

Now that I am planning on getting a Master’s Degree and am working for a non-profit, I rejoice in the open-ended opportunities I can make for myself. So far, the grass is indeed greener.

Right now I work in organ and tissue donation. I love it so much. The part about actually helping people and saving lives with tangible results was missing for me in med school. At work, I get to do it every day. Every single day I work, I have proof of someone’s life who was saved on enhanced.

So far, I even personally know one person who’s life was saved through organ donation. That was a moment in my life I will always cherish.

The exact work I do from day to day is not something I can maintain for years to come. Working 12 hour shifts is no good for my sleep needs, spending time with my man, maintaining a relationship with friends and family, and general sedentary behavior I’d like to avoid.

The question is how do I keep up with the joy of my work, but with better working alternatives? It’s something I’ll be thinking about over the next few years.

For now, I intend to stay in the same type of job. All the lateral moves within my company are to jobs with even worse hours and work I really wouldn’t want to do.  I’m only 7 months in at this point and so I”m too new to think about advancement.

Do I want to move into administration? Yes, eventually. I’m planning on getting my Master’s in Healthcare Administration. Even though I’d be doing more paperwork than actual life saving, I know I’ll be okay with that. I love making charts and crunching statistics. Filling out paperwork is something I actually enjoy (I know, I’m weird). Plus, I’m too ambitious to not eventually end up in a position of power.

Do I want to move to the private sector? Probably yes. I know that the fiancé and I want a relatively large family, and he really wants to make a career of his music. We’ve agreed he will do this even if he never gets big enough to command the payment for gigs that would match his current annual salary. So finances is a consideration. I want a pay ceiling that’s very very high and the private sector has a higher ceiling than non-profits.

Do I want to stay in organ and tissue donation? Still undecided. I love what I do, but I was so uninformed about this whole world before I got this job. I’d have to explore it some more and see what related fields have to offer before I’d make that decision.

One thing that makes me happy is that I can do this job anywhere. They have organ and tissue donation all over the globe. The process is pretty similar all over. I’ve got great training and can do this job, so I can travel with the fiancé and still be employable wherever we end up. At least, that’s the idea.

I don’t know how much time I need to sort this out, but I think I”ll revisit this topic in six months to see how I feel then.