Thursday, April 2, 2015

Last day!

I've been at my current company for 8 years and 9 months. I've had several different positions there, and even made the switch to being a remote employee 2 1/2 years ago. So now that I'm wrapping it up, it's ending with a whimper instead of a bang.

My colleagues have had a LOT of changes over the last few years, including lots of departures. Typically everyone in the department goes out to a local bar for a send-off; I've felt sad I couldn't participate in those for the last couple of years I've been working from home. And today, there will be no send-off for me! I feel a little bummed and mostly pretty glad, because I would likely be a little emotional, and also because I feel a little guilty at being so happy to escape.

My new job starts Monday and I think it's going to kick my butt for quite a while. I'm nervous about it, but excited to work for a company that is SO highly rated by its employees.

It's weird to leave libraryland - I spent 4 years and 9 months in a public library, and now 8 years 9 months at a company that works with libraries, and that's 13 1/2 years in one world! But, it's not a surprise, either - when I started library school my plan was to focus on information architecture and knowledge management, and no one was as surprised as I was when I actually became a professional librarian for a while! Moving back to a purely software company job was pretty obviously going to happen at some point, and now that day has arrived.

I'll be sure to buy myself a beer this afternoon.

Friday, March 20, 2015

All the good things

So, I'm ramping up for five weeks of total madness. Tonight I leave for a week in a warm place with friends, and 12 hours after I get back home I turn around and go to Seattle for 24 hours. Then I'll be home for almost a week before heading to San Francisco to start my new! job with five days at HQ. And I'll be home from that for four days before heading to Paris to visit a friend, and as soon as I'm back from THAT I'll have friends coming to stay for the weekend.

It's daunting, I admit it. I'm loading up on vitamins to try to stay healthy, and I'll do my best to get lots of sleep. Well - I'll go to bed in a timely fashion. Staying asleep has not been my strong point lately, and the 2am hour is all-too-familiar at this point.

It'll probably be good for me to have a little less vacation time at my new job - sad, but good. I tend to say YES to absolutely everything and then run myself ragged. Weirdly, I don't get much sympathy!

So Paris will be my last hurrah for a while, in terms of big trips. I negotiated taking the time off without pay since I won't have earned any time yet. I actually wanted to start working in May but they were eager to get me going, so this is the compromise situation.

It's going to be great - all of it - but I sure hope I can sleep on the plane tonight.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The game is afoot

So, I've accepted a new job. It's kinda crazy - my current gig has introduced me to SO many really great people, and I'm happy I've been able to maintain some level of friendship with them even when I moved away from the office to become a remote employee.

Now I'm going to start a gig as a remote worker, so it'll be interesting to see if and how I make good connections with my new coworkers. I hope so!

I wasn't super unhappy with my current job, but I was open to making a change, and it came together very quickly in the last 3 weeks - I actually applied to the job I've accepted exactly three weeks ago today. That's lightspeed in corporate America!

I already mourn the amazing vacation benefits I'm leaving behind. I AM getting a good raise, and I think this job will give me some new, very marketable skills. But mostly I feel half excited, half scared. It's going to be a whirlwind!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spring fever

While the rest of the country is buried under snow and packed in icy air, the Pacific NW is blooming. The cherry and magnolia trees are budding, I've got 20+ daffodils cut and arranged inside my house, and I've now learned to identify the beauty that is the quince flower!

I've been doing some hiking with local friends, and I also want to try to find a club to go with - my friends' lives are much busier than mine, so I could go longer/do more but they're not up for it. In an ideal world I'd find some hiking buddies for long challenging Saturday hikes, and could do recovery hikes on Sunday. Even if I had a car I'd be reluctant to hike solo - not so much from concern for my personal safety, but I'd be worried about turning an ankle or something and needing help to get out of the woods. I'm sure I'll muddle through, and perhaps I'll even make some bonus hiking friends!
On top of all that, I started my garden. As usual I'll likely get tired of it and not give it the attention it merits.. but MAYBE this year is my year.
I'm definitely feeling the urge to do new things and get out and move around a lot. We'll see how I do if (when) the rain returns!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

scary exciting plan

A friend proposed that she try to get a number of us permits to hike to the top of Mount St. Helens sometime this year. I accepted, she got into the lottery (i.e. hit the site first thing when permits were available), and we're in! We're going to summit Mount St. Helens on Sunday August 2nd. EEk!

We've bitten off quite a challenge - it's 10.5 miles round trip, 4450 feet of elevation gain, and it's rated Very Difficult; gloves are recommended for climbing around all the boulders covered with ash! You have to carry your own water, and the training recommendation one friend found is that you plan to carry about 30 pounds (mostly water). Wow.

It will be interesting to see how this goes. Of the 8 permits we are using, one person has done this before and is very fit/experienced with training for tough events. Two of us did Cycle Oregon last year, so we have recent experience in setting a tough goal and hitting it. Two of us have done tough things in the distant past (marathon, Cycle Oregon), but have had a few years of not being so good about following through on challenging fitness plans. Three are wild cards that are probably pretty reliable.

I know that things happen and life throws changes at us, so who knows, maybe I'll be one of the people who bails on the event! Every single year since I moved here in the 90s I've wanted to have a year with lots of hiking, so this may be it! My lack of car will be a hindrance in that, however...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Still running

So far I've managed to keep running this winter. Sure, it's only January, but I was really worried I'd return to my lazy/inert days of yore and stop exercising. That hasn't happened, but it HAS been a bit of a struggle lately to get myself out there.

I think if I step back from my feelings and look at the facts, I'm actually doing okay:
  • In December I only ran once/week.  Certainly not awesome, but given two different trips, weather,  holidays - I'll take it.
  • So far this month I've run nine times -  I took a week off after a (non-running) injury, but have gotten out three times/week otherwise, and am on track to do so this week, too.
  • My distances have not been awesome - my shortest (when I was limited for time) was 1.66 miles, and my other runs have ranged from 2.2 to 2.5 miles.
  • When it's not a running day, I'm walking a good bit - Sunday I walked a whopping nine miles!!! - but I'm not doing any purposeful cross-training.
  • My running buddies aren't running at all. I used to get an ego boost out of running more and better than they were, but this is getting ridiculous. We're signed up for a 5k in March and it'll be interesting to see if they participate! (One has a very busy life and the other...has no good reasons and is struggling a lot.)
  • While my distances aren't great, my pace is improving. I'm consistently hitting between 11:30 and 12-minute miles, whereas in October my runs were more typically 12:30 and even 12:45. Wow, I've shaved a minute off my time in many cases! 
Okay, that really did help. Yeah, I'm tired, and yeah, I have been running out of energy/motivation/willpower mid-run. I think I need to change up some of my fueling choices, and I also need to be patient - that I'm running at all in these chilly days is huge. High five, me! (And keep it up - that 5k looms!)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Easy come, easy go?

I've had money on my mind lately.

A friend volunteered to cut her hours to halftime, but only after the fact did she crunch the numbers and realize that means she's now running in the red by a few hundred dollars every month. I haven't seen the numbers she used - I hope and assume there's some room for belt-tightening to make it work, but I don't want to stress her by asking. I may broach it in a few weeks, very very gently.

However, her situation inspired some number-crunching, and I'm  happy to say I feel absolutely certain that I could get by on half my income, but it wouldn't be fun or pretty. I've also got enough in savings that I could support myself for eight months, which is a good solid feeling to have.

AND - there's lots of room for improvement in my fiscal life. I just looked at all my spending and saving last year. I saved 16% pre-tax for retirement, and saved 19.5% post-tax. Not bad, you say? Well, it's true but I could do a lot better. Most of my post-tax saving was from various bonuses, contract work, my tax return, and other non-work income. If I just look at what I earned vs what I spent each month, I saved 5.6% - meaning 14% of my savings came from sources of income I can't count on next year!

Travel was what killed me (and thrilled me!) the most last year - 16% of my post-tax income went to that. So... I guess that's the biggest place to focus for savings this year! Here's how my numbers broke out:

Category Percent of income Notes
Eating out 6.96% 10-12 times per month on average
Groceries 4.92% That's about 75-80 meals/month
Coffee out 0.20% 2015 will include all at-home coffee expenses
Bills 42.71% That's all mortgage principle/interest/insurance/taxes; plus water, gas, elec, trash, cell, internet, driver's insurance...very little to trim here. In a pinch I'd get a roommate to offset this.
Entertainment 1.64 Netflix, NYTimes, movies, the occasional play or concert in town.
Gifts 1.20%
Charity 1.72% I'd like to double this for 2015, and ideally hit 5% annually.
Travel 16.41% wow! 2015 travel should be half or a third that amount. Good thing nine of my 2014 flights were practically free.
Transportation 1.41% No idea how the car thing will affect this
Clothes 3.05% If my weight stays down I'm going to have to get a few more items, but I'm slowly buying clothes.
Household 1.84% Cleaning supplies, decor, small furniture expenses, etc.
Upkeep/Health 2.64% Haircuts, doctor copays, vitamins, etc.
Hobby 2.71% Knitting, biking, sewing class - bought a number of biking items pre-Cycle Oregon last year.
Misc .15% Glad this is so tiny - means my categories are good.
Booze 1.49% wine, beer for home. Toning this down this year.
House 1.25% Things like a ladder, a couch.
Big ticket 4.02% Big irregular expenses like glasses and other $$ outlays. New-to-me car will go here.

Some of my categories have crossover: is running gear for health or for hobby or for clothing? Is a framed picture household or house? How about a ladder? I just try to be consistent - the art is household (since I'd have paid for it whether or not I owned a house) but the ladder is house (as a renter I wouldn't own one). So far I've slotted running gear into clothing, but as I buy extras that are beyond the bare minimum, I'll probably put them into hobby spending. Registration fees for 5k events will be hobby for sure. If I needed physical therapy, it would be health/upkeep.

The best spots for trimming spending and boosting saving are travel (16%!) and food (when I combine eating out + grocery I see I spent nearly 12% of my income there). Funny that they are the fun ones. We'll see how it goes!