Start and stop. And, start again.

I received a Happy One-Year Anniversary card from HR today.

It’s my last day of work though.

I’m not going anywhere either.

I’m very fortunate to be able to continue at my current employer with a new research study.

It all happened just “in the nick of time.”

I had started to research how to file for unemployment.

I was going to have to be covered under my mom’s medical insurance plan (for two months until I turn 26).

I booked a trip to Europe next month.

I was nervous, uncertain of my plans to just go on a vacation and spend money when I would not be making any.

I was scared to have to be unemployed.

I’m starting again though.

I begin my new job Monday.

It’s exciting.

I still get to take my trip, too!

I finally feel like I can look forward to my trip.

I can actually start planning and research places to visit — I leave in eight days!

I feel lucky.

I’m thankful for the people who supported me, stuck up for me.

I will be able to cover my own insurance.

I’m relieved.

I started and am stopping. I’m starting again.

I’m really thankful for that.

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Insignificant significance

A few insignificant significances this week (in no particular order):

  • A few employees and patients wearing Santa hats around the hospital. (One patient even came in with a blinking Rudolph nose and headband antlers!)
  • Wednesday’s weird overcast gray sunset. How can I see that the sun is setting when the sun never really came out during the day??
  • Mis-communicating where I was meeting a friend. We both end up at bars two blocks away from each other. I sheepishly duck out of mine while the waitress wasn’t looking since I never ordered anything in the first place.
  • That feeling you get when you’re about to visit an “old friend.”
  • When your boss tells you to “just stop worrying and go on your vacation, already!”

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?

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.

 

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?

Two years ago today, last year today and today today

Two years ago today I was finishing a trip to Angkor Wat with my mom and grandma. I had spent the summer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia reporting at an English language newspaper and they met up with me at the end of my internship.

That summer …

I learned broken phrases (OK, just singular words) in Khmer. I used “awkunh”— thank you — the most.

I learned that riding a moto (with a helmet!) is quite fun.

I learned how to haggle my moto fare.

I learned to appreciate people and things that I did not appreciate as much before.

I learned to be self-reliant.

I learned to travel alone (what up, country-side Cambodia and Thailand!)

I learned that whatever would come next in my life would be much easier.

 

One year ago today I started my first real grown-up job as a reporter in a city community across the Sound from my home city. I knew no one. There was no ultimate Frisbee there. I had no sidewalks to run on in my new neighborhood. In addition to all my new adjustments/inconveniences, I was pretty bad at my job.

After what seemed like making hundreds of calls that first day to various people for multiple stories, I had to go to the local gun club — the county had filed a lawsuit against them. I was kind of nervous. Actually, pretty nervous. Everything turned out OK, I talked to the right people, got decent quotes.

However, in one of my first stories (not the gun club one), I made the worst mistake a reporter could probably make. I misquoted someone. I won’t go into details but it was a very stupid mistake that could have been avoided. Luckily the woman wasn’t upset about it since it wasn’t really for any hard-hitting newsy story. I felt terrible though. I didn’t think I would make it to Christmas at this job. I should just quit already, I thought.

It was too stressful. I wasn’t good enough.

 

Today, I am still at said job. I have way more responsibilities. I’m the only reporter now. And I have significantly improved as a reporter (in terms of getting a hold/stalking people to actually writing stories) than I did one year ago.

I guess I am stronger than I thought. Or, just very tolerant. Or, crazy.

I’ve learned that whatever comes next in my life (once I quit/get a new job/run away) will be much easier.