“You need to figure out your life”

I have this very prominent, protruding vein popping out from beneath my skin right between my eyebrows. It only ever makes an appearance when I get very upset  — to the point of tears. I can see it right now in my reflection on the computer screen.

One of my parents is “very worried” that I am going to be stuck “doing nothing” the rest of my life. The solution is to go back to school. My response to that is: there is nothing I want to go back to school for. Then this parent says that if I am not going to go back to school, then I should be getting certificates/more training.

“In what?” I ask.

I was told that I should be reading up and researching what certificates I should earn.

I’m not being proactive enough, I am told.

If this person could have his or her way, I’d be getting a job as a technical writer or going back to school to get an MBA.

I have for the majority of my life since graduation, felt like my Bachelor of Arts has meant nothing. Today is one of those days when I really feel like it’s a useless piece of paper, and that I am almost just as worthless.

Can we ever get a break in our Terrible 20s? (Not if you have AMS – Asian Mom Syndrome).

[Sorry to get all Quarter-life Crisis up in here, I am sure I will wake up tomorrow feeling like the world is my oyster — or whatever analogy you prefer.]

Worst nightmare becoming a reality

My biggest pet peeve — other than poor grammar — is when people say they will do something and do not do it. (AKA, do not keep their word).

It’s high on my list because I do a pretty darn good job keeping my word.

However, things seem to be “falling apart.”

I would blame the fact that I have been over-working myself at work, been training for a triathlon (What? Swimming, biking and running??), been organizing a team for an upcoming tourney, been cleaning out my bedroom at my parents’ house in order to prepare for my move … (blah blah blah, poor me …)

But, there are really no excuses, right?

Sunday night I was supposed to call Whitney — she moved across the country to become an architect — to catch up, but I completely forgot. You see, things like this never happen to me. I always remember to do things that I say I will do. And, if I feel like there may even be a slight chance that I will forget, I will write it down in my notepad, or on a Post-It note and stick it on my cellphone or — God forbid — write it in pen on my hand at the last minute before I go to sleep!

As I fell asleep on my bus ride back home from work this afternoon, I thought about the million-and-one things I had to do this evening (not to mention this week). I felt even more tired just thinking about it all. So, I made one of the things go away. I decided to not go to my ultimate frisbee game. Like I said, I tend to follow through on things I say I will do, but not this time.

I pulled myself too thin recently and I’m trying to find ways to “make more hours in the day.” Where will I put those “extra hours?” — to sleep, of course. I really can’t function with less than eight hours a night, especially when I am supposed to be training for a race.

[Note: I know someone reading this will call me out for using the word, “things” more than once in this post even though I always say that “things” is not a real word. Sorry, I’m tired.]

No rest for the ESFJ

Whitney asked Phyllis and I if we had ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test.

I know I did one time in a high school class but since then, I had not. I wish I knew what my answers came up with then, to compare to what it is now.

Apparently, I’m an ESFJ. (Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging).

That means, I enjoy and joyfully observe traditions and am liberal in giving. Well, that’s correct. I love celebrating my friends’ birthdays! But, according to the online survey I found, as an ESFJ, I like to take charge. I’ve never felt like I have been a “take charge” person in life. I usually let others lead and I just do what they say! Maybe it’s changed with age — I am 25 as of Friday, by the way! Another quality of being an ESFJ is that we are caretakers. I agree with that last one. I always want to make sure that my family and friends are taken care of. I pretty much always put others before myself.

But, that can be the downfall for me — and all ESFJs?

Because I give — a lot — sometimes I leave myself behind.

I came home today exhausted. I got 8 hours of sleep last night but was falling asleep on the bus home! My contacts were sticking together when I stumbled off the bus, blinking multiple times so I could see again!

Work is tiring, I told my mom. She responded with some comment along the lines of: Of course work is tiring! But you never take a break!

I didn’t have any response because it is true. I don’t take breaks. I’ve been at my new job for about a month-and-a-half and only once did I take a real lunch break. This was a lunch when I went off the hospital campus and out with a few colleagues. The rest of my lunches? They have been spent in front of my computer — usually while I am doing work — where I quickly swallow my home-packed meal so I can “get back to work.” I hardly take my “required” two 10-minute breaks either. I feel like there is too much work to get done!

Not only do I not take proper lunch breaks, a majority of the days, I end up staying 10-20 minutes late … working! I don’t mean to. I blame it on being new at my job and trying to get as much done as possible. But, I think the solution is that I just need to stop. I need to take a break. Otherwise, I may be tired my whole life.

And, let me tell you — going on a run after a tiring full day’s work is really really tiring. I know, I could just skip the run, but you know me, I don’t like taking breaks!

Call your mom

[I’m usually on time, if not early, for anything important and never miss a deadline. However, yes, I know, Mother’s Day was a week several weeks ago.]

*****************************

Scenario —- I call my mom, who happens to be visiting her own mom in Japan. It’s Mother’s Day here but the day after Mother’s Day in Japan (I’m a bad daughter).

Mom answers the phone: “Moshi moshi.” **

Me: “Hi, mom.”

Mom: “Who is this?”

Me: “Who do you think this is?”

Me: “Oh, hi, Kristin.”

Apparently “my voice sounded funny.” But seriously, if you have two children, you have a 50/50 chance of getting the person on the other end of the line right. (Here, I am being lenient giving her 50/50 since I have a brother and I’d like to think our voices do not sound the same).

But, that’s just my mom.

My mom was very adamant that I not quit my old job back when I was disliking nearly everything about it. Of course her reason was logical: it’s easier to get a new job if you already have a job. If you are jobless, it will be much harder.

For months I whined. I complained. I was probably a pain to be around.

But, she kept telling me I couldn’t quit.

There were a few days when I called home, crying. I have to quit, I would tell her. It’s not getting better, I would continue. And, after a few of those conversations, she even told me, OK, maybe you do need to quit then. The decision is yours, she would say. But both of us knew I couldn’t quit. I couldn’t give up.

Many friends told me that “wasn’t it worth my happiness” to just quit the job and move back to Seattle? I would at least be around my family and friends and would have more time to apply to jobs, many of them said. I’d be happier, they said.

Sure, I’m 24 years old, but I wouldn’t say my mom controls my life. I’m grateful that I have a mom who cares enough about me to not let me quit, that she didn’t just let me give up.

And, when she told my brother and I to dig a ditch for her while she was away for Mother’s Day, of course we did just that. She’s apparently making a new garden.

—————–

**Moshi moshi is the greeting used to answer the phone in Japanese, only to answer the phone.

If your job is your life, I just got myself a new life

I kind of feel like an imposter — at my job.

Example: I wore a lab coat for the first time the other day — the first time ever.

“Didn’t you wear a lab coat in high school science?” Nope, my school didn’t have that. “What about in chemistry?” Nope, the only science I ever took in college was astronomy.

I work at a hospital now in clinical research. On my first day, about two weeks ago, I felt like a walk through the cafeteria was reminiscent of a scene from “Scrubs.” I updated my LinkedIn profile a few days ago and felt slightly uncomfortable changing my industry from “newspapers” to “hospital and health care.” Not a bad uncomfortable, it’s just new, different. (Today I had one of my best workdays in my history of workdays!)

The two people before me in the position I am taking both left to go to medical school — to become doctors. I have had multiple people at the hospital ask upon meeting me if med school is in my future. My response is always a small chuckle with “I don’t think so.” In my head I’m thinking, “Me? Med school?? BAH HA HA HA!” They don’t know I am sort of scared of needles. They don’t know I don’t like the sight of blood. They don’t know I currently do not have a primary care doctor and haven’t gotten a physical since I was in high school. (Don’t worry though, I recently got a copy of my immunization history and I am all up-to-date with all my shots).

I may have to learn how to draw blood for my job as a research assistant sometime in the future — we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

I wonder if this is what people feel like when they “start over.” Who knows though, maybe in a few years’ time, I’ll be talking about medical school, too. (Those who know me well are probably rolling their eyes and trying not to laugh). One research coordinator at the hospital, who will actually be attending med school at Harvard, said I would make a “good doctor” because I have a nice smile. If only a “nice smile” is what it took …

For now, I’ll just work on being comfortable watching people get their blood drawn.

 

Reflections of a possible (semi)-retired journalist

The 123 area code blinked multiple times at me. Who is calling me? Why are they calling me?

It was five days after I had left my job as a reporter for a weekly community newspaper. And the “123” area code (real number changed, obviously,) startled me. It was different from my city area code and I just had a feeling it was someone calling me about something related to my old job.

I was done though. I submitted my last pay roll form. My last stories had gone to press a week ago and the paper was already out. There’s nothing I can do for them anymore. I ignored the call. I let it ring and go to voice mail — after all, I was out to lunch with a friend so it would be rude to answer. Even if it was someone I knew, I would not have answered it. The people in front of me always have my undivided attention, always.

The red light lit on my phone. Now I had a voice mail from the mystery person.

I put off listening to the message the rest of the day, worried that it was someone complaining about one of my last stories. He didn’t like it. She thinks I have a fact wrong. They want me to run a correction. Different scenarios started building in my head.

When I arrived home later, I listened to the message.

It wasn’t bad at all.

One of the last stories I wrote was about how a grandfather started a scholarship fund for local kids to support them in the sport of hockey. His young grandson died in a riptide accident a few years ago and he did it to keep his grandson’s love for hockey alive and in memory of the young man. The mystery caller was the grandfather calling to thank me for the story, adding that he had made a lot of good connections with people wanting to help and donate because of it.

I just had to call back. I didn’t have to call back though, but I wanted to.

I told him I received the message and basically thanked him for thanking me.

Since “retiring” from reporting, in two separate incidents, friends have referred to me as “the journalist.” Maybe its in my mannerisms, in the way I act. I will always be “the journalist” of the group.

But, I know that the real reason I am proud of what I did as a journalist was to get those stories out there. To teach others about something, hopefully. To help some heal. To inform others. I’ve always wanted to do meaningful work. I think that most — not all, but most — of what I did during my time as a journalist was. Will I ever return to it?

I don’t know. As we all know, journalism is a tough world out there.

I learned how to take notes on anything — Kleenex boxes in the car, for example. I learned how to be “available” at all times of the day. I learned how to survive an entire work day on a granola bar and water.

I learned so much — about budgets, llamas, homelessness, road engineering, human interaction, just to name a few — from the many people I met. It’s those people. I’ll miss them.

For someone who claims she doesn’t like talking to strangers in “real life,” I guess I did a pretty good job.

2011 Picture of the Day: A full year in photos includes lots of rain, running and smiles

Here it is folks. The highly anticipated 2011 POD.

But, before I disclose the secret link to all my wonderful photos that document the year, you have to read my wonderful prose. (If you decide to scroll down without reading, your keyboard will give you an electric shock. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you).

What is a pod you ask? It stands for Picture Of The Day. Yes, I took at least one photo each day in the year 2011. However, if you notice that I am in the photo with other people, then yes, you are correct, I am a liar and I did not personally click the button on the camera. So, POD 2011 is made up of mostly photos I took with some taken by others with my camera. (OK, I lie there too. Some photos are taken with my work camera, or my dad’s camera. But I was present for every single photo taken).

January 11: Guess where this is (correctly,) and I'll give you a crispy dollar

January 29: Tell me why Chris is doing a squat and I'll give you a high-five

And, you may be really observant and wonder why there are 367 photos in the album. It wasn’t a leap year. But, go through all the photos and you will figure out why there are not 365.

If you are really super observant, you will notice that I missed one day in the year. I cannot for the love of baby Jesus know what I did on this day. I have checked every personal planner, work schedule, family calendar to remind myself what I did that day. I rampaged through all my photos on my hard drive, on my dad’s computer, through Facebook and nothing. But, I make up for this “missed” day — which you will have to find by going through all the photos.

July 13: What are we advertising? (Not for a new printer!)

Why document the year through photos? It’s something a high school friend of mine — who is pictured a few times throughout the album — started.  And I’m a sucker for following the lead of those I admire. I did a full Picture of the Day in 2007 and then in 2009. Both of those, I printed and made into a physical album. This year we went digital. We’re high-tech now! Also of note in case you are interested, 2010 I was lazy and this is how the year was documented.

September 12: Can you tell me what time of day this photo was captured?

December 16: Why do we (try to) spell out H-O-F whenever we are together?

OK, enough with my ramblings. Hopefully, the above photos have intrigued you enough to check out the whole album. (Or, maybe you want the answers to the questions in the captions! If that is the case, you are in luck! Most of the answers are just a click away!)

Picture of the Day was made possible by the letter U and number 2011. Thanks for making the year a memorable one even if I did dismiss it at times. And, by no means does the number of times an individual person, place or thing appear in the album indicate how much love I possess for him, her or it. S/he or it was just at the right place at the right time — when yours truly had a camera!

Enjoy

[That right there above is the link to said photos in case you were confused.]