February 3, 2018

Bouncing Back

In December I quit my job without having anything else lined up. I intentionally wanted to take some time off because I was overly stressed out. My time off would be at least partially no work and no school, and possibly school with no work, which I was really excited about. However, the spring semester started January 29, and on February 1 I started a new job. So, back at it.

Why this job? In early January I found out I was accepted to an optional course that will take me to Namibia. The course spans summer and fall (7 credits, holy shit) and includes 10 days in the country working with conservationists on a particular issue in that region. For Namibia, that means cheetah conservation. But it's expensive. The course is over $3,000 not including airfare or extra expenses (souvenirs, extra travel days, extra snacks, etc.). Obviously I'll want to travel to other countries while in Africa so I'm looking at $5,000 bare minimum. For what I'm getting it's actually very affordable (7 credits, a flight to the other side of the world, unheard of educational opportunity, and a visit to a place I've been dreaming about for decades), it's just a lot all at once. I've been saving for this so I'm set, but definitely couldn't keep living on my savings for funzies.

This job also comes with the title I've been wanting: content and communications coordinator. Far more than SEO manager, this title is something the nonprofit organizations I'm interested in actually hire for, so having this on my resume is going to be really helpful. This role will give me much more relevant social media experiences and involves the kind of writing I'd like to be doing.

One of the most appealing things about this job is the flexibility. It's slightly less than full time, meaning if I need to not work a full 40 hours I don't have to (which will be a massive break from my previous full-time-plus job), and I'll be working from home a lot of the time, which gives me back that commute time. When I do need to meet in-person it's in a co-working space in my own area, so I can walk or ride my bike. Win win win.

That said, I'm also taking my two regular classes plus an independent study, totaling 6 credits this semester (the most I've ever taken at once was 5). Soooo I'm a little nervous that I've over extended myself.

Which brings me to the title of this post: bouncing back. It's kind of two-fold. I'm back to working and schooling, so I fully anticipate the same level of stress I quit my job to avoid. But it also means I very likely won't be doing much in the way of exercise. I didn't for several months in 2017 and it was brutal. I love running and miss it very much. The weight gain and general depressive state I'm in when not running suck, so running was one of my top priorities during my break (almost every day, even if it was only a mile). I also did a (very) little weight lifting with the free weights we have at home and loved the tone and strength my arms started to show. It's amazing how quickly my body bounces back after neglecting it for some time. I only had a month to really prioritize exercise and eating well and in that month lost some weight, fit better in my jeans, and felt good. Really good. Like I felt when I was running again after recovering from an ankle injury and surgery. I have a 5k next month, but by this time next year I'll be signed up for a bunch of races. It's encouraging that in only a month of running not even particularly far distances I'll feel great again, even after stopping for several months. Just need to remember that the yucky that I feel is temporary.

Edit: I ran that 5K faster than I've ever run anything! Finished under 25 minutes, which is a minute faster than I expected and two minutes faster than my goal. Felt really good to see that end time and be at the front-ish of the herd and to get the validation of the training paying off. Maybe a little extra good because it was raining, on a dirt and somewhat muddy trail, and I was wearing a tutu.

December 26, 2017


This week I did something I've never done before: I voluntarily quit my job with nothing else lined up. As a planner and saver and general worrier, up and quitting my job is extremely unlike me. If I'm being honest, it's terrifying. Exciting and gratifying and freeing, but terrifying. But I didn't just say f-you to my bosses and walk out the door - I planned this for a few months. Longer, actually. Since starting grad school a year and a half ago I knew I probably wouldn't be able to keep up a full-time job throughout the whole program. At least not the full-time job I had (I not so affectionately called it "full-time-plus"). I'm in school to change my career path so I really want to give it my all, learn as much as I can, and hopefully get a job that gives more meaning to my life and allows me to give more of myself. I started to realize I wasn't excelling at either my day job or my classes. I needed to quit one, and it wasn't going to be school.

 A lot of lucky things happened to make this possible. The Boyfriend and I lucked out with cheap rent, we don't have a lot of expenses, and I made enough at my job to pay for school and still put money in savings. I have enough to live on for a few months and still not dip below my "don't touch this" threshold. The only thing that makes me nervous (and which I have cried about on more than one occasion) is that I worked really hard to build up that savings. It's modest - in the range of a down payment's down payment, but that and my car are all I've got to my name. The logical part of me says it's ridiculous to waste it on not having a job for a few months. But the logical part of me also understands that everything else was pretty bleak. Realizing the types of thoughts I was having (and some quick Googling on grad school and depression to validate those thoughts) was scarier than the thought of being voluntarily unemployed.

 I did know this was coming, but I was hoping to hold out until June 2018. That would have meant a solid 3 years at that job, another 6 months of savings, potentially leaving at a really busy time in my program, and a summer to not work. The breaking point was a new account at work. I'd asked to stay at the accounts I was currently managing - I felt I was barely keeping my head above water and a new account would sink me. This wasn't unreasonable, as I was meeting the standard for which we were judged for being considered "full". I was honest with my team and bosses about school, so they knew it wasn't out of laziness that I was asking for this. The new account I was given was sold to me as half an account - won't take much of my time, I can delegate most of the work, we just want to show them our capabilities. It didn't seem like a big deal, but that project quickly engulfed my time. In one week I spent over 30 hours on that project alone, all but ignoring my other accounts. I couldn't ignore them completely, so I worked a lot of overtime to make up for it, which meant I turned in some really crappy assignments for school, lost a lot of sleep, stopped exercising, and barely even got to see The Boyfriend or our pets. I was worn.

 After a not so great presentation with this account, my manager said I could have prioritized them more and not focused on school so much. Those words could not have been further from the truth. Fortunately, I said so, but it was in that moment I knew my efforts were not enough and would never be enough. Here I am, feeling like I'm giving my all, stressed the fuck out and not doing well in other aspects of my life because of this one client, and that still wasn't good enough. So I gave my notice the next week. I gave almost two months notice. I didn't have anything else lined up and I knew the company was already short-staffed, so why not? It was a relatively awkward two months... I don't recommend giving that much notice - give a month but not more. But the shitty part was two of my accounts weren't staffed until two weeks before my last day, so I was still scrambling to get everything in order. I ended up leaving not very confident that my replacement on those two would be able to renew the projects, but, as The Boyfriend reminded me a few times, it wasn't my problem. This job was not my passion. It seems that to do it well you either need to be truly passionate about SEO and/or not have any other hobbies or interests so you can spend your nights and weekends working. For some people that's dandy, but not for me.

 Today is the first day I would have normally been working. I cleaned and set up my home desk, took care of some personal paperwork I hadn't gotten to for weeks, finished a book, cleaned the kitchen, got lunch with The Boyfriend, finished my late Christmas shopping, and went on a really long walk with a friend and the pups. I even already had a phone interview with another agency, but it doesn't sound like a good fit for me (same stress, less money, no thanks). I'm looking forward to being a better girlfriend than I have been the last several months, getting back to exercising regularly, reading more, and prepping for my independent study in January. I've gone back and forth as to whether or not quitting my job is a good idea, and I may go back and forth some more, but today I'm feeling good about it. I want to feel like a human being again and enjoy the things that make my life full, and I just wasn't able to do that before.

September 25, 2017

My Turn: Or, Why You Shouldn't Ask Rude Questions

After a year and a half of being engaged and 8 years together, my sister got married this weekend. She planned a gorgeous ceremony and reception with countless small details and personal touches. The DJ and photographers were amazing, family friends expertly coordinated, and the venue was stunning. She asked both sisters to walk her down the aisle and I could not have been more proud to play such an important role in helping her start this new chapter of her life. We partied well into the night, she got a bus to take us back to the hotel, and even booked out a whole boutique hotel for her closest friends and family for the whole weekend. They took care of everything and everyone for two whole days. I couldn't stop hearing about what a wonderful wedding it was, and how fun it was, and how beautiful we all looked (especially my sister).

Unfortunately I also kept hearing some variation of "so when is it your turn?" The Boyfriend and I have gotten this question more than once. Weddings bring out the best and worst in people, and my well-meaning relatives just want the next event to be excited about. It didn't help that The Boyfriend was the officiant... Normally I shrug and say we're not in a rush - and I did tell a few relatives to focus on this one before thinking of the next one. Fortunately also my youngest sister had eyes for the DJ and made it known she might be next. Being older, in a serious long term relationship, and both of us being in this wedding added more pressure.

 This is probably the most un-feminist thing I've ever written. I'm embarrassed by what I'm about to write, but am going to because we have this culture where it's not acceptable for women to talk about all this. This time it bothered me more because I actually really want to get married. I always liked the idea of getting married and figured I would as long as I was sure it was right. I've known for a very long time that I want The Boyfriend to someday be The Husband, but because we aren't having kids there's no pressure to hurry. Plus, my sister and her husband have been together longer, I'm in grad school and do not have wedding-planning-level free time, and I really wanted to not get married in my 20s. But "boyfriend" makes the relationship seem temporary or unimportant. We live together, have animals together, our families and friends know this is it. But if we decided to not get married and simply be together without the formality I'd be fine with that, too. I don't need to be legally married, and part of me thinks that might help with the bit of anxiety I have over the permanence of marriage.

So why did it bother me this weekend? The only answer I have is the timing. The Boyfriend and I talk about getting married all the goddamn time. He's a wedding photographer so he's seen the intimate details of of hundreds weddings. When he tells me about them he'll say why he would or would not want to do that for our wedding. We've basically already planned our wedding through these small conversations - all we'd really need to do is book the things. We also couldn't do anything until my sister was married, which I didn't think she would take a year and a half. Now that the coast is finally clear, I'm about to head into my last year of grad school which is going to be the busiest. If we get married in the next year I probably won't be able to enjoy much of it - I'm already stressed to the max between work and school, how could I fit a wedding in? But the alternative is waiting at least another year, and we've talked about moving away when I graduate because there aren't jobs for me in San Diego. We'd either have to plan a wedding long distance or ask everyone to spend a ton of money flying for it.

There's one more reason this bothered me this weekend. I can't help but wonder if getting married is actually a priority. We talk about it and I know it is, so why the doubts? I didn't like not having an answer for the questions. It's frustrating to be asked that, like we haven't talked about it. What do people expect me to say when they ask when I'm getting married? What if we weren't on the same page about marriage and you're bringing up a sore issue? My sister told everyone she was waiting until she got her master's - but I don't want that to be my answer. Not only is it not true necessarily, but I don't want a wedding to follow my degree like I checked a box. My generation is more educated than any other generation so a master's is almost at the same level as a bachelor's was: first you get your bachelor's then you get your master's then you marry your live-in boyfriend. I'm not just checking some box - this degree really matters to me. Maybe no one else actually thinks this way, but it still bothers me.

So next time you feel that awkward silence of not having anything to talk about with a relative you don't actually know that well, try your best to not go for the personal questions. Don't ask why someone isn't married yet, or when the wedding is if there isn't even an engagement yet. Don't ask someone why they aren't pregnant yet or when the kids are coming (ever, guys - that could be extremely hurtful if someone has been trying). It's ok to make small talk about the weather or, if you're currently at a wedding, how beautiful it is, how beautiful the bride is, how much fun you're having. And if you're at a wedding, don't ask about the next wedding. Enjoy the current one. I'm sure you mean well, that all you want is to see your relative happy and settled (barf) or happy and a parent (double barf), but maybe think for a second about how the person might take it.

June 23, 2017

A bad kind of weird

Sometimes I morbidly look at my pets and think about how I will feel when they die. I not so secretly hope that my cat will live forever. Or at least another decade. Same with the dog. There's no reason they can't - they're both super healthy. But even the rabbits, who haven't been easy pets, I know I'll be devastated. I would get so attached to my rats, even though they only lived a couple of years. When they died I was heartbroken. Sobbing, sadness, guilt, anger, true heartbreak. So much more than I've ever felt for a boy.

I've never lost a person that I was very close to. I don't have any living grandparents and have been to quite a few funerals, but still no one that made a real impact on my life (other than reproducing so that I might exist). I know the day is coming, but sometimes I think about what my reaction might be when that day does come, and I can't help but wonder if I'll feel the way I do about my pets. If I'm being honest, probably not.

And then I think I just shouldn't exist among people.

I've always had kind of a weird reaction to death that really, really unnerves people. I smile. It's because it's that uncomfortable, because I usually know how much other people are suffering (like my mom when her parents died) and I don't know how else to react. As a kid I didn't realize I did it until someone would angrily point it out. As an adult I am extremely conscious of my facial reactions and words so that I don't seem like I"m happy someone is dead. But I've still been accused of callousness around death.

How will I react when it's someone I love? Will I cry? Will I care? Will I maybe go back to work to focus on something else and be accused of moving on too quickly? If I don't care about wills or inheritance or legacy, does that make me a bad kid? If my world doesn't stop, did I ever really love them?

My dad and I don't speak anymore (long story) but other relatives have said that he has cancer. I truly don't know if I believe it, but even if he does I don't really care. He hasn't been in my life for over 6 years and my peace is made. Will I suddenly be hurt when he dies? Will I regret our estrangement? Will I wish I had made amends, even if it meant apologizing when I wasn't in the wrong? Maybe, but I really don't think so.

But then I think about those who I do value, who I am very close with. Assuming I live long enough, surely I'll be devastated at the loss of my sisters, my boyfriend, and my best friends. Right? I think I will. 

But what if I'm not? What if I do move on? What if I move on too quickly? If I don't I'm just normal. But if I do I'm a bad kind of weird. A kind of weird that people think of when they hear about sociopaths. Am I a sociopath? Should I go live in the woods with a dog and a cat and lose my phone?

I'm not religious. I'm not romantic. I'm not maternal. I'm barely even sentimental. People wouldn't describe me as warm. So, what is it about me that makes me human outside of biology? I love, deeply even, but I don't think that's an emotion exclusive to humans (and I'm not talking about cats, though I'm pretty sure deep down my cat does at least like me). Maybe reincarnation does exist, and I was a snake in my last life and I haven't quite shed those tendencies yet. 

I recently took a strengths assessment for school and discovered to absolutely no one's surprise that I'm a strategic thinker: intellectual and analytical. The only outlier was harmony, which basically means I don't assert myself (also true). I love being alone, I miss living alone, I worry that I'll always miss it. I believe I could be alone my whole life and not miss people too much. But do I want to be?

I don't think so. But maybe that's my problem.

December 24, 2016

Laparoscopic Bilateral Salpingectomy FAQs

In October 2015 I got my fallopian tubes removed, which is called a laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy. As I'm writing this it's been 15 months since surgery, and I still get a lot of comments on my previous posts about this procedure. To make one easy-to-reference location for the most common questions I've gotten, I made this post.

Anyone is still free to post here or on any of my other posts with new questions! But now no one will have to read through dozens of comments to find out if their question has been answered.

Best of luck to anyone considering this procedure or recovering from it! I do love hearing your stories, so continue to let me know about your experience.

My experience:
About laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy:
  • What is a laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy?
    • Salpingectomy is the surgical removal of both fallopian tubes.
    • Laparoscopic refers to how the procedure is done: through a tiny incision with tools that go inside the body, rather than big cuts into muscle. Much faster and easier recovery.
    • Bilateral refers to both sides: both fallopian tubes were removed, so the procedure was done on both sides of my abdomen.
  • Who needs a laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy?
    • It's a great sterilization procedure! Removing the fallopian tubes is getting pretty darn close to making it impossible to get pregnant. 
    • If you have an ectopic pregnancy this is what you'll get to save your life.
    • I chose this procedure over a tubal ligation and essure because I wanted the most effective form of sterilization and I didn't want anything left inside me. It was the best combination of pain, recovery time, and long term effectiveness for me.
  • Why did you get fixed?
    • I don't want kids.
    • I don't want to get pregnant.

  • Don't a lot of women regret sterilization?
    • Not as far as I'm aware. So far I sure don't!
    • From what I could find online, the women who regret sterilization tended to never want the procedure in the first place. They were coerced into it during childbirth. Many regretted it after their relationships ended and they realized they wanted more children with their new partners. 
    • I've never heard of anyone who never wanted kids regretting sterilization. Doesn't mean it never happens, just that it seems pretty rare.
  • Why not just get an IUD?
    • Because I wanted something permanent that didn't leave anything inside me.
    • Laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy is as close to being 100% risk-free as you can get. IUDs are great, but not as great as salpingectomy.
  • Do you still worry about getting pregnant?
    • Nope! It's awesome.
  • So you really don't want kids?
    • I really don't.