Thursday, April 26, 2007

Taking the long way around

There's a light at the end of the crazybusy tunnel! This weekend I am flying down to Pasadena for a meeting of an alumni committee at Caltech. But then I have several free weekends, with no travel. Yay!

Each day at work I'm figuring out my job a little better. It's been a source of frustration for me - being new to the team and the product we're working on, while the rest of the team seems to be so much more knowledgable than I am. I've noticed as I get older, these kinds of transitions seem harder. So I guess it's good that I worked in consulting while I was in my 20s or else I'd have serious trauma everytime I got a new project now!

I have been putting my head in the sand about a credit card issue I'm having. My balance has gotten pretty high, mostly because I haven't made the time to sit down and work on my finances each month, so I don't really know how much money I have, and thus just pay a few hundred dollars rather than the whole balance. After several months of doing this, the balance is now quite significant, and I'm honestly not sure if I have the money in my account to cover it all immediately.

Just a digression here. Yes, as a married couple, *we* are doing fine financially, and have the money to cover our bills. But TJ and I have a system for personal spending money where we each get a small sum to spend on our own, in our own checking accounts so we don't have to "answer" to each other about why he bought another motorcycle part for $200 or why I bought $300 worth of shoes in one day.

So it's that account I'm having trouble with. Which means I need to scale back/budget a bit. I guess the transition from getting paid 100% salary to 75% is finally catching up with me - I knew it would, but I hadn't exactly changed my lifestyle as a result.

But today is the day. I'm going to go through all the unopened mail from my bank on my desk, and get my account in order. (I mean really, it's just one checking account, with one monthly bill, so not exactly rocket science!) And come up with a plan on how to pay off that credit card. Somewhat conveniently, I lost this credit card on my last day of vacation with Kristin and haven't gotten its replacement yet (possibly in the unopened mail?) so I haven't had the opportunity to increase the balance any more. Which is definitely a good thing.

As insignificant as this sounds, it's causing me a whole lot of stress for the past several months because it's been "lurking" in my mind. I got into some credit card debt trouble in college and remember that stress and the feeling of "I'll never get out of this" and not wanting to deal with it. When I finally got a "real" job and could make big monthly payments to pay off that balance, it really felt great. I was ecstatic when I sent in the last payment for that giant debt.

So here's to not getting into that situation again, and getting control of this now before it gets out of control. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 23, 2007

I wanna get away

Wow, it's been nearly a month since my last post. Apologies to my two readers!

I've had a busy month - vacation with Kristin in the Caribbean for almost 2 weeks, then a weekend in Ashland, Oregon for Dave and Lisa's wedding, and a visit from my parents this past weekend. Oh, and trying to catch up from all this time off at work. Which didn't leave much time for blogging.

So I haven't really been using my time off for anything very useful. It's true that I'm doing a bit better with my workouts, but I'm still not in a real groove. And while I'm happy to work less, I'm not dramatically happier in general. So I'm trying to figure out what it is I want to do.

TJ often comments on the fact that I don't really have a hobby. I guess that's true. This blog is *kind of* a hobby, but everything else I do falls into the errand or *should do* categories, like working out or cooking for myself. So in the process of figuring out what I could do with my extra 10-15 hours a week, I stumbled upon a new and interesting hobby while we were in Ashland.

Ashland is kind of a touristy town, with a lot of really cute little shops designed to separate you from your cash. I wandered into a really neat store that sold jewelry and rocks and beads. Lots and lots of beads. So it occurred to me that I could probably master the skills it took to make some simple beaded jewelry. Especially since I learned to wield wire cutters, a soldering iron, and pliers my freshman year of college in Physics I. I bought a string of really cool green glass beads and figured I'd sort out what to do with them later.

Like a good Techer, I purchased a book to learn how to make jewelry. I'm one of those people who needs to read and prepare for something before actually doing the hands-on part. TJ is more the sort to buy the tools and stuff and just figure out how it works while poking at the stuff directly. Anyway, the book I bought is Get Your Sparkle On by Lindsay Cain, a very fun book with a lot of beading projects that I'd actually wear (vs the grandma stuff I found in a lot of the other books).

So I finally got the chance to play around with this stuff. The first project was to make a very basic choker. The instructions were perfect, and very easy to follow. Here's what I made:

Not bad for a newbie, if I do say so myself. And it was fun and relaxing. I do need to get smaller wirecutters and pliers specifically for jewelry, though - the tools I stole from TJ's toolbox are just a bit too big for working with the tiny little findings.

I signed myself up for a beginner beading class at a local bead store next month, which I'm looking forward to. I'm now somewhat appalled at what I paid for a simple glass-bead necklace from the Seattle Art Museum a few years ago. I could have made that necklace in about 20 minutes, even with my limited new skills. But the beads were gorgeous, so I shouldn't complain too much.

Well, here's to a new hobby and hopefully more posts. Cheers! I'll post pics from my trips as soon as I get them posted online.

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