Moving In: Goodbye, steak dinner. Hello, vegan BLT salad.

In the past month, I moved, got a new job, and haven’t posted anything about the transition.

In January I moved to Capitol Hill to live with the vegan boyfriend. Goodbye, steak dinner night. Hello, vegan BLT salad. (I was skeptical, but it is really tasty. The recipe uses tempeh and has become one of our staple recipes.) Instead of vegan-before-six, I’ve become vegan-after-six (unless we go out to dinner) most nights of the week.

A few days into the great apartment search, we saw one I absolutely loved with hardwood floors, lots of sun, a view of the Sound and parking downstairs. The boyfriend decided it was not to be, after he realized the three words he couldn’t live with: No Dogs Allowed. We don’t have a dog, but the option was a must-have for him. Although we generally agree I am more stubborn, he wouldn’t budge. We argued, and I attempted to talk him into my dream apartment, with no luck. So the search continued, with the first compromise of many more compromises in our future.

After weeks of searching for an apartment with hardwood floors that was Fido-friendly, we finally found the place we call home. Three weeks later, we’re still unpacking the last few boxes, but it is pet-friendly. So IF we decide to get a dog, we won’t have to move in a year. I have no plans to adopt a dog in the near future, and I really don’t want to move again in a year. For now, we’re trying to adjust to each other (and our eating habits and schedules) without adding a pet to the mix.

Fitter, Happier, More Productive

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions. I like to think in quantifiable, logical steps and set measurable goals, like going to bed earlier and getting up in time to catch the 7:44 bus, instead of the 8:08 bus. I really like to have realistic expectations. Generic goals to “work out more” or “be more active” or “drink less” aren’t easily measured for me, so I’m less likely to work to achieve them. I like to see progress, and feel like I’m moving in the right direction toward a goal.

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions dec30.jpg

Generically speaking, most New Year’s Resolutions are to be fitter, happier, more productive or manage finances better. A friend quit smoking a few months ago, and said that her logical next steps are to work out more and drink less. A helpful bonus to reward the good behavior is that she’s saving considerable money by not smoking.

I’m considering trying pescetarianism for a week, partly because that’s a compromise closer to being vegetarian, but still allows me to eat sushi. I’d like to prove to myself that I can do it. That famous stubbornness inherited from both sides of the family… I liked this post from Jezebel about eating Better, Not Less, which mentions eating better could be as easy as cutting out fries, or being vegetarian/vegan before 6 PM, and eating meat or dairy at dinner. I don’t think I am ready to try being vegan for a week, but I can cut out red meat for a week.

This month my immediate goal is finding a new apartment. I’m hopeful that I’ll find what I’m looking for in the apartment search next week. I’d also like to actually write a letter on my typewriter this year, and kayak on Lake Union this summer. Maybe do a day hike at Mt Rainier again. And start saving for retirement (I say that every year, but hopefully this year it will actually happen.)

Thinking about the short list above reminds me of things I did in 2010 that I never thought about a year ago, the unexpected things that paid off in the end. Like eating at a raw food restaurant in Portland (Blossoming Lotus – delicious) and quitting a full-time job for a temporary contract job. I was skeptical of both endeavors, but they proved to be rewarding experiences.

Why I love a temp job

Because it’s fun.

I enjoy the work much more than what I was doing before. Now, I schedule site content and work with HTML and XML code for a well-known internet retailer. No more answering phones and ordering office supplies. I’m happier in my daily life because I enjoy my work, instead of complaining how much I hate my job.

The resume boost.

I think the skills I’m acquiring now make me more qualified for the full-time jobs I want. I see possible room for advancement within the company, either as a temporary or full-time employee.

The company is young and motivated.

The company culture is driven, innovative and creative. Ideas are encouraged. My coworkers are highly motivated people who take initiative, and they’re young. I’m 26 and everyone in my department is under 35, including my boss.

A risk paid off.

I’m not a risk taker, but I took a calculated risk to become a temp. The enjoyment I feel after a 10-hour day confirms that I made the right choice, even though I have no guarantee that I’ll be employed in a few months. For me, loving what I do is so refreshing and important.

It’s an adventure.

I’m only there for a few months, so I’m doing my best to take initiative and learn as much as I can while I’m there.

Inspiration at work + coffee

The past few weeks have been a blur of work, two Mariners games, Capitol Hill and Vancouver, BC, the Seattle bus system, and my mom’s visit last week.

Mariners Game

Lovely day for a Mariners game

My job interview was a month ago, on my 26th birthday. I started a week and a half later, and since then I’ve learned a lot. I no longer worry about getting lost on my floor in the building, but I’m still uncertain and slow with certain tasks. But today I worked almost 11 hours, and it was a good day. Remember that saying, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? It’s true. Even if it’s just temporary.

I’m already thinking about coffee tomorrow morning, because I’m not a morning person. And I’m going to need a large cup of the “nectar of the gods” if I want to leave the house at 7 am, as I have done for the past two days.

Chai

It’s not Stumptown, but it works. When I live in Capitol Hill (or Ballard) next year, and Stumptown or Cupcake Royale are a few blocks away, I will drink Stumptown Coffee. My rent will go down, so I can spend a little more on really good coffee.

Today felt like a Seattle day.

I didn’t mind that it was gray, even though I’d love a few more sunny summer or fall days. The view from the office is surreal when it’s foggy. Like we’re in the clouds, looking down from a dark tower on downtown, hundreds of feet above the busses, sirens, taxis and pedestrians.

7 am. Waiting for the bus on my way to work, hating humidity. Wondering if I can rent a tent, sleeping bag, and other camping supplies from REI.

3 pm. Meeting with a copy editor. I wonder how long he’s been working for Amazon. Five years? Ten years? I smile when he cautions me and other employees in the meeting about exclamation marks, and when I see exclamation marks are against company style.

I like this copy editor, because I can tell he has a sense of humor and he’s good at his job. And then I wonder if his cardigan is from American Apparel.

4 pm. REI Rentals has tents and sleeping bags for rent. Luckily I’m an REI member, so for about $20 I can rent a tent overnight. River rafting is still possible this Sunday. I hope it doesn’t rain Saturday night.

7:30 pm. The rain had stopped and I was on the bus, going home after an inspiring day at my new job. Wearing boots and a rain jacket, I was listening to a Death Cab EP on my iPhone, after an 11-hour day at work, I felt oh so very Seattle.

10:30 pm. Listening to This American Life podcasts, and it is delightful. I think about last year, when I used to listen to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! and This American Life on Saturday mornings. I wonder if I’ll do that next year, in our new place, while sipping Stumptown coffee and making banana pecan pancakes with the boyfriend. Vegan banana pecan pancakes, of course.

Adventure and an American Travesty

Last week I was invited to dinner with my dad, his girlfriend and two family friends, Alex and Mona. They met my parents in the 1970s, when the four of them were enjoying their 20s in San Francisco. One of the greatest parts of their visit was watching the interaction with my dad. After 30 years of friendship, the interaction is more like family members who haven’t seen you in a long time, but they know all the indiscretions of your youth.

Alex and Mona are jewelers; they were in the Seattle area for a local art fair, but still lived in the small town in California that I remembered from my childhood. I can still picture the lemon tree in their front yard, the jasmine climbing the railing on the front porch, and the arbor of old grape vines in the backyard. They lived and traveled through numerous European countries and Mona still has Norwegian citizenship.

While we enjoyed our steak, green salad, potato salad and various drinks, I was content to observe most of the conversation. The food was good; the conversation and the feeling I left with was better than the actual meal. Hearing Mona tell the story of how they got married in Denmark, when they went to inquire about a work visa. The official, who looked like an owl, peered down at them from his spot on the top of a ladder at a very tall bookshelf. “Well, do you love each other?” He asked. They said yes. “The wedding in English is on Monday.”  And so, they got married. And 35 years later, if my math is correct, they are still happily living and working together.

Hearing of their adventures in France, collecting eggs and building windows in exchange for rent, made me think a lot about my life. Granted, I don’t want to be penniless in France, but I would like some adventure in my life.

The conversation eventually turned to my work, friends and love life. It was then that I mentioned I was considering moving in with my significant other in about 6 months.

My dad’s girlfriend voiced the opinion that I’ve had, but have been reconsidering lately. She said “I still think it would be nice to live alone first.”

Alex replied, “That’s an American travesty! You love someone, you jump in.”

I smiled, expecting a reply like that from Alex. After all, it worked out well for them.

Life’s a Beach Picnic

Golden Gardens Beach

Golden Gardens.

When I leave the office and it is moderately sunny, I’m prone to spontaneous picnics with the boyfriend. Part of the Seattle mentality of “The sun is out. Quick! Go do something outside before it gets cloudy and starts raining.”

Tonight’s destination was Alki Beach in West Seattle. The picturesque sandy beach, with the appropriate mid-week number of sand volleyball players, dogs and bicyclists, was sunny and not very crowded when we unfolded the bright blue blanket on the sand.

Our ready-made picnics involve Odwalla and deli purchases from PCC or Whole Foods. I’m no expert on whipping up potato salad – but I can buy a half pint of vegan potato salad pretty easily. Tonight I ate greek salad in a take-out box with a compostable fork (naturally) while we watched the sun descend into the cloud layer above the Olympic Mountains.

Smelling the fresh salt air, sitting on a blanket, wiggling my toes in the sand and watching the sunset was the perfect mid-week evening. Today was a good day.