good things are coming

Sometimes you know when good things will happen, because you plan for them.

Other times you are “seeing” the potential for the good things to happen.

I’m going to Disneyland in a month, and this is a very good thing. My last vacation was in July, and sure that was only six months ago but as a student when you’re used to vacations every quarter, now working day after day at a “real person” job can get tiresome. Especially since as a reporter you do not have the luxury of taking your vacation in two-week (or heavens, a month!) increments.

Reporter: Can I take a week of vacation next month?

Editor: Sure (as long as you stock pile four stories before you leave, write while you’re away, and work a ton when you come back).

That above was not a real conversation I had with my boss. He told me that our employee handbook encourages us to take a week to two weeks of vacation (should we have enough hours). I didn’t push the two weeks. I’ll be taking THREE whole days off at the end of February. Right about now would be a good time to invest in a ghost writer. And by that, I mean someone who will work for free while I take vacation. Anyone?

One of my three vacation days will be spent entirely at the most magical place on earth. Yes, that would be 24 whole hours straight at Disneyland. If we’re going to have a leap year that allows us to have one extra day, why wouldn’t I spend it at Disneyland?

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Don’t watch, you’re making me nervous

Since I’ve been at my job for a year and three months and three weeks (but who’s counting anyway?) I don’t really get nervous before going out and hunting down sources or making cold phone calls. It’s just part of my job now. Interviewing people is fun because I get to meet and talk to people who will either become important sources later down the line (or, I will never see again!)

Today after an interview, the businesswoman told me she was really nervous before our interview because she had never talked to anyone from a newspaper before. It caught me by surprise. I never thought other people would be intimidated by me. I didn’t think accomplished 39-year-olds would even admit to being nervous talking to me. I told her that she did a fine job but she said it was thanks for me making the situation comfortable. I was easy to talk to, she said.

In fact — she was so scared, or just thought it would be amusing to bring someone along — she had her business friend with her. At the end of the interview her friend asked if it would be OK if her husband emailed me because he was interested in maybe pursuing a career in journalism. “Do you ever have people shadow you?” she asked.

I smirked and said “no” and that having someone follow me around would probably make me nervous. None the less, I told her that I would be happy to answer any questions her husband may have on my job.

It’s like when you can parallel park perfectly when you’re alone but if there’s someone in the passenger seat, you can never seem to park at all. Don’t watch, you’re making me nervous.

Why I will never not wear a watch

You know when you’re with a group of friends and there’s always that one person that gets the “What time is it?” question addressed solely to him or her by others because they know that s/he has an iPhone in an easy-access pocket?

I’m that person minus the iPhone. I wear a wristwatch — my running watch to be specific.

It’s the first thing I put on in the morning when I wake up, sometimes even before my glasses! I shower with it so I don’t take too long of showers, or just to know what time it is while I’m cleansing. Unlike people who may forget their cellphones on the kitchen counter, I never run out the door without my watch. I know never is a strong word, but it’s true.

I feel naked without my watch.

So, Tuesday morning when I woke up to find the face to my watch blank, I had a split-second of panic. I know it was just the battery that was dead, but that meant 1) I’d need to find a mini-screwdriver to open the back of the watch to figure out what type of battery I needed and 2) go to the store and buy a battery. Of note also is that I do not own tools such as a mini-screwdriver. And I didn’t have time to take care of my technology problems before work — there were sources to hunt down and pages that needed to be copyedited by yours truly.

I put the pink digital watch around my wrist even though its function as a watch was completely useless. My left wrist didn’t feel comfortable going through the day without its companion.

And of course throughout the entire day I kept glancing down at it, looking for the time.

The next day I went to the mall to one of those little watch repair kiosks to have them remove the old battery and put a new one in for me. (I wasn’t about to buy a battery and a mini-screwdriver tool!) The woman looked at my watch and said she could do the task for me no problem. She (looked at her watch) and told me to come back in about 15 minutes and it would be ready. I was almost about to reply that I would wait there … I haven’t signed any papers, she hasn’t taken my name down, the worst that could happen is I return and she has no recollection of who I am or the watch I brought in.

My watch is very dear to me.

Sure, I’ve gone through numerous watches throughout the course of my watch-wearing years, but each one has held closely to my heart. I actually couldn’t tell time when I probably “should have” been able to. But then again, I was also behind on regular grade level reading skills, which explains why I had to go to summer school between first and second grades (that can be a story for another time). I had analog watches (like the ones where Mickey Mouse’s arms were the hands of the watch) and since high school — when I started running cross-country — went to digital so I could have a timing device for workouts/long runs.

Since about high school, I’ve had a permanent watch tan. It doesn’t even go away during the winter months.

And I’m not about to give that up.

I don’t belong belong, but I belong enough

Belonging.

Everyone wants to belong — belong to a family, to a group of friends, on a sports team, in a community, in a workplace.

I haven’t wanted to belong in the community I work in, the people and issues I cover for a newspaper you have never heard the name of.

It was not my community. Some areas do not even have sidewalks for me to run on. These were not my people. I had no friends here. I had no real connection to anything, anyone, or any place here. It’s not even a city. I was born and raised in a city so this was the first deal-breaker for me. But, a job is a job and here I am.

This evening was the first time (throughout my one year and three months time at the job) I was able to attend the local community council’s meeting. (Once again, it’s not a city, so there is no city council with power or anything). They meet once a month but until recently with our press deadline being at the same time as their meetings, I could never attend. I’ve met a few of the community council members before through other organizations or projects. The president knows who I am because he emails me their agenda and we’ve run into each other many times at various other meetings and events. But I was afraid that most of the people would wonder who this strange girl was.

I was wrong. More than half of the members I had met at least once before. Of course since they are active in the community in this aspect, they are involved in other ways. There were only about 10 “common folk” in the audience and what did you know, I knew two of those people as well!

Despite my resistance from wanting to belong to the community, I was happy to see the familiar faces. And, not just because it makes it easier for me to quote people in a story. It made me feel like I belonged.

When you’re supposed to know the ins and outs of every business, county road project, school district budget cut, transportation and any other type of issue, I guess it’s difficult to not be involved. Being involved leads to belonging.

After the meeting was over, I went up to one of the community council members to say good night.

“So, you finally came around to a meeting, Kristin” he said. “It’s good to see you.”

They even know my name.

 

Doing what you love? Then you’re not doing it right.

Nearly every weekend I am home, my parents have another section of NWJobs they want me to read or a book — the recent one my dad borrowed from the library is “60 seconds and you’re hired!” — and last weekend was no different.

A finely cut newspaper article was sitting on my laptop.

“What’s this?” I asked already knowing the answer.

“Oh, just read it,” my dad said.

So, I did.

*Forget what you love. Or, perhaps more accurately don’t do what you love. Love what you do.

As children, we are taught to “do what we love” when we grow up. When we get to college, we major in something “that we love” so that we can get a job that is related to “what we love.” The American Dream is built on this concept of making a name for yourself, leaving your mark and loving what you’re doing while you’re at it — oh, and something about having money for a livelihood (but in this economy we can worry about money later). Love first! We want to do what we love!

I keep telling people that I don’t like reporting because it is not what I love to do. It’s not my passion. A reporter is not who I want to define myself as.

But, while I’m at it now, I guess I must learn to love what I do. I love that I can talk to so many different people. I love that my job is never boring. I love that I can write about nearly anything. I love that I am learning. I love that I am writing.

I may not love my job, but I love what I do.

 

[*”The best, revised advice for new college graduates in difficult times” was a guest column in the Times a few months back. You can read it here.]

 

A true (I-didn’t-even-think-about-work) vacation

I dislike my job a lot for several reasons that I won’t get into right now. But, despite that fact, I think about it — a lot.

I think about my work at work. When I am not at work, I think about work because I am usually still working since I have too much work that needs to get done. When I talk to my friends, I talk about how I wish someone would hire me for different work because I do not like my current work. When I go running, I try to clear my head but thoughts of whether a story will be done by deadline or whether so-and-so will call me back will infiltrate my mind. I dream about work and wake up stressed out — nice wake up call, huh?

On weekends when people generally are able to spend time relaxing or hanging out with friends, I typically am still thinking about work amidst doing those things. Or, sometimes — though thankfully not often — I am working because apparently the news doesn’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about work. I tend to think a lot about things that stress me out.

In July I was able to take a one-week vacation. I was in Hawaii for four of those days and you know what? Still thought about work. In fact, I hadn’t fully completed a story so I emailed it to my editor from my island vacation. Even after it was submitted, I still thought about work and how behind I would be when I returned to the office the next week.

The same goes for paid holidays. I just feel like it is one less day I am able to get work done and am therefore thinking about it the entire “day off.”

When I was in San Francisco for a weekend last month, I surprisingly didn’t think about work at all. Sure, I may have mentioned it on the plane-ride there, and I know I definitely had thoughts of work on the flight home. But, while I was in the Bay Area, nothing. I just enjoyed being in the lovely city with Joanna and feeling excited to run our second marathon together. And during the actual race I was in so much pain, there was no opportunity to think of anything but the pain. It was a good trip.

“So, you actually had a real vacation then?” a friend asked on my return.

“Yeah, I guess I did,” I replied, not really realizing it until a week later.

What do you wake up for?

I know I’m not alone in “trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.” It’s called being in your early to mid-twenties — or beyond.

A friend of mine who is in grad school studying something he thought he liked, doesn’t necessarily want to be in school doing what he is doing anymore. I asked him why he wanted to go to grad school in the first place. “I was just following the path,” he said.

He said he wants to do something where he looks forward to his day when he wakes up in the morning. I’ve never had that feeling before, he said. Then he asked me if I ever had.

I quickly thought to myself, “of course, I have!” Then, I really took the time to think about it. This past year definitely does not fall into that category. On my worst days (like Mondays,) sometimes it takes me nearly an hour until I finally get out of my bed after the alarm has gone off.

All the time before now has been consumed by school. I guess I never really woke up during my college days thinking “Wow, I am so excited to go to my interpersonal communication class today!” During the summers, I always had a job or internship and while at times they were fun, I guess I never had that sense of excitement. I know there were definitely times I hit the snooze button in the morning even during those summer months.

How about when I visit family in Hawaii? On vacation? Christmas? My golden birthday? Those do not count, was his response.

Does this state of life even exist? Although they say that your work should not consume your life, it is inevitable. 40 hours out of 168 total week hours does not seem like a lot. But, really it is. Your work is your life. And for me, it does not take a normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. stint. People can call me at all hours of the day. I give my personal cell phone out so I am reachable so I can get stories done.

What got me out of bed this morning? A phone call from a teacher I was trying to get a hold of for a story. She called me during her morning planning period between classes.

“Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Oh, no. Let me just grab my notepad,” I replied as I (literally) rolled out of bed.

What gets you out of bed? What road will you follow? Or, not follow?