Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Review


I don't know what to say about an entire year of my life.

Let's see if I can figure this out.

The year started off great with a long term subbing job in my field. However, I was just thrown into it without any idea on how long I'd be doing the job for, no extra pay for the length, keys, or technology to input grades, make lesson plans, etc. I pretty much just flew by the seat of my pants, with the help of my colleague who had to work his butt off to keep the department going through UIL. (He did a stand-up job, by the way)

Spring break: I planted my first vegetable garden and it starts to grow!
Running: Overslept my first race, made a comeback with the Missions 10k and was slow. Hey, it was humid.

Things look promising.

Then the heat of the summer hits.
It stops raining in Texas.
The heat climbs higher.

I don't get the theatre teaching job. By this point, very little to no teaching jobs are open. Fail.

Still no rain.

Borders declares it's going out of business. The unbearable craziness of liquidation takes over.

Things are quickly rolling down hill.

I stop running because I'm too tired from working with crazy customers and douche bag liquidator. I eat and drink wine instead. Lots of wine.

My garden stops growing. Fail.

Borders dies in September.

I've lost two jobs in the span of three months.

Subbing picks up and I soon learn how much I hate it. At least at the high schools, anyway. There are actually TONS of things to do as an elementary sub. I start to like that more.

In October, a job as an Instructional Assistant for Special Ed falls into my lap. Not much of a pay raise at all, but the job is awesome. Things start to look up for a while, but I'm still unable to support myself financially.

Not even close. What is going on? I'm almost 28 years old!

I run the Wurst 5 Miler 2 minutes slower than last year. Disappointing, since I wanted to PR, but considering the summer I had, I'm happy. Running is back, until I get sick from allergies before Thanksgiving.

Things come to a close in a dull way. I'm not excited about how 2011 went AT ALL. I don't know what it is about odd years, but they really do suck. Now I need to spend the first part of 2012 getting everything back to the way I want it, physically and emotionally. I need to work even harder to get the job I want. I can't have another year like this one.

As my friends get engaged, married, and have babies, I look at myself and think, "How am I not even close to being ready for all of that?" A graduate degree gets you nowhere in this world. Potential gets you nowhere in this world. That's all I have right now: potential. Potential to be the best teacher, potential to lose the extra weight I gained during the summer from hell, potential to meet the right guy. I feel like I'm on the edge of something and I've been standing here for way too long. It's time to find a bridge or just jump in!

Why 2012 Will Be Hellofalot Better Than 2011

1. I will get back in shape. Just Dance 3 will get me there whether I like it or not! I WILL run another half marathon, too.

2. I WILL land that teaching job. I don't care where it is or what it is, but I WILL get a full time, salaried job, and SUPPORT MYSELF. Isn't that the American Dream? Why are so many hardworking, honest Americans being denied that?

3. Dating. This is scary stuff, but I'm going back out there again. I don't know how, but I will. If any of you have Aaron Rodgers phone number, tell him to give me a call. That will make things go a lot easier.

4. Have more fun, stress less, love more. I'm almost 30; I can't be stressing most of the time! Life is not worth the stress.

That's it.
2011 sucked and I'm extremely glad to see it end! ADIOS!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Getting Rid of Summer

Hello, all!

It seems that I have put myself on yet another diet. However, this time, I'm seeing this as a way to shed the incredibly crappy summer I've had and start over. I've got a new job on the horizon (hopefully!) and new PRs to run at races this coming winter. Time to get back at it! Want to know what I'm doing? I'm simply counting calories (auuuuuuggggggghhhh!) and working out 4-5 times a week. I know this works; the Biggest Loser contestants to do it on a much larger scale (pun intended) but I don't need to lose as much as them. Most diets these days make you eat crazy things when it's all about calorie intake and output. I've been making sure I stay around 1200 calories consumed per day (one day a week I treat myself to 1400!) and getting on the treadmill after school. I pack a gym back that morning and have it with me in the car on the way home. I know that if I go straight home I will not want to go back out that door! (And I just discovered that the newest and final season of "Friday Night Lights" is on Netflix!) I've been doing this for one week and already I've lost two pounds! I want to see how many I can shoot for by Christmas. 15-20 would be nice and would put my BMI far into the healthy range instead of straddling the overweight line. I already sleep better at night and have more energy to teach those kindergartners when I sub!

Here's a recipe that I want to share with y'all. Just a little somethin' that I cooked up out of my own brain! Enjoy and leave feedback! :)

Kasey's White Wine Stewed Tomato Spaghetti (Linguine)
Serves 1 (sometimes with leftovers!)

This is a favorite of mine to make during the week. It takes some time (boil the noodles, stew the tomatoes) but it's worth the wait!

1 cup tomatoes (I've used cherry, off the vine, and roma)
1 serving (2.5 oz) whole wheat linguine or spaghetti noodles
1/2 tbsp EVOO (shout out to Rachel Ray!)
lemon juice to taste
1/4 glass of white wine (or less, depending on your taste- less calories, too.)
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
fresh basil to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Set one large pot of water on high to boil.
Cut up tomatoes to desired size (I usually half the cherries and quarter the romas) and place in a medium pan with EVOO on medium high heat. (Sometimes I add mushrooms here, too. Low calorie!) Boil pasta according to the package. When tomatoes reach heat, add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and white wine. Stew for 10-15 minutes. (or less if you like the raw taste of tomatoes in your pasta dish). Remove from heat. Strain noodles. Chop up basil, sprinkle in tomato mixture. Serve on top of noodles. Add cheese and serve!

Calories: 350 (388 with mushrooms)

Friday, August 26, 2011

We're All Going Crazy

In my years of working retail, I've come to believe that our brains just shut off when we walk through the threshold of a retail environment. I must say that Borders took pride in our customer service, and really, we spoiled all of you. We used to come up and ask if we could find something for you, type it in the computer for you, walk you to the section, and put the book in your hands. If we couldn't do that, then we'd walk you through the online purchasing process.

Since liquidation, we can do none of this. Our stores are a mess. Nothing is where it should be. And people are pissed.

I've had several people become upset over the fact that we can't look up books, we can't take checks, and we can't accept returns or exchanges. That's understandable to a degree. However, a few days ago a woman flipped out when I told her we can't hold items. I mean, she flipped completely off her handle. Things got so out of hand that we had to call the police. There was a few hours where we all feared for our lives. We had no idea what she or her crazy family were going to do to us. The crazy thing is, it was over THINGS! Merchandise. It is now human nature to threaten lives of people in order to get THINGS. Really?

The whole time I was defending her in my head. Maybe she has a mental illness and skipped her pills. Maybe I was going through the motions at the register and not paying attention to how agitated she was becoming until it was too late. Maybe... it wasn't my fault at all and sometimes people just flip out for no reason. And for that reason it's a sad, sad world.

I don't want a job that I fear. Working at a bookstore should not be scary. But, then again, we sell blankets, perfume, make-up, and games. We're not really a bookstore anymore. We sell things "cheap" for the people who want but can't afford to want. It's a sad, sad world.

As I get ready to sleep and wake to another day at the store, I send out a little prayer that people will be understanding, that we as employees will have patience, and no one will get hurt.

And hey, it rained the other day, so maybe it's not such a sad world after all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Liquidation: We're All Going to Need Therapy

Liquidation sucks.

Let me expand on that: Liquidation sucks for employees.

To me, Borders was over the day liquidation started. We had no idea what was going to happen, but we did not anticipate the complete madness that ensued. That first Friday, the discount was only 10% but we were hammered all day long. Our normal sales goal was blown out the roof, even for Christmas standards. As we locked the doors that night, I had to fight back tears. The wreckage was unbelievable. From that day on, the store was unrecognizable. Our customers are not the same. Now we have "bargain hunters", mostly people who have never set foot in a bookstore but want great deals. These people do not care if they open merchandise and then throw it on the floor. These people have to touch everything in sight or it's not real. These people don't do math, so the constant question is, "How much is this?"

To cope with all of this, our team has bonded like I never thought we could. Instead of quitting on the spot or backstabbing each other, we've grouped together to get through this. We have rubber band fights and build forts. We blew up all the balloons in the story time supply closet and put them in our GM's office. We push each other around on carts and laugh until we can't breathe. We put random Star Wars sound effects on the overhead. We made our own mixed CDs with REM ("It's the end of the world as we know it!") and SemiSonic ("Closing time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here.") We dance to *NSYNC out on the floor for customers to see and laugh when they don't even care. Most of all, we lean on each other for job hunting and career advise. I have some really great co-workers, and the end of Borders will mean the end of a great team. I don't know if I'll find a workplace like this again, but I hope it's out there.

My current plan is as follows: substitute teaching (again...) while I work my way into the Peace Corps. My recruiter is working with me to put together the perfect application, which is refreshing. Instead of a rejection, someone wants to give me a try! There is light at the end of this tunnel. While I wished for two years to find a full time teaching job here in Texas, it seems that Texas doesn't want me. I'm meant for bigger and better things. When I return from overseas, I hope to continue my education and pursue my doctorate degree in theatre history or theatre education. After putting this "plan" together, the future doesn't seem so scary anymore.

I'll close with a recent quote by a customer in response to the fact that we can no longer use computers to look up books: "You mean I actually have to look on the shelf??!!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Fav: Power Foods

I blogged a few days ago about the cookbook "Power Foods" by Whole Living magazine. I tried the Lemon Chicken with Corn Salsa recipe and we all fell in love. Since then, I've tried a few other recipes and found them to be a success, as well. I am so excited about this book that it's ridiculous. It's making me see food from a natural point of view, as we should. Our crazy/busy lives today made convenience a priority over health. It's a sad thing to realize, but we've taken food for granted and have neglected to give our bodies what they need to function properly. When I was shopping for a few of these recipes and my regular weekly foods, I began to notice that most of my list was in the produce section. I went down a few aisles in the rest of the store but only for natural grains and dairy. There are complete aisles that I didn't even need to pass through, including the snack, soda, and boxed dinners aisles. I never noticed just how much processed food we have become used to consuming. I encourage you to find more natural foods to incorporate in your diet and pencil in your calendars time to plan meals. Natural foods expire. If something has been in your kitchen for over two weeks, it's probably not healthy for you.
I've broadened my breakfast horizons with this cookbook, as well. There is a great recipe for Fresh Muesli with Applies and Greek Yogurt. I tried it out this afternoon and it is delicious! I've never tried greek yogurt, but since there is no sugar, you can add anything you want to it. The oats and almonds were toasted in the oven for a bit and put in a container to store for the week. Another great breakfast option is a slice of toasted whole grain bread (I use Nature's Own 12 Grain) with goat cheese, smashed raspberries, and a drizzle of honey. I also bought some chocolate almond milk and put it in my coffee on some days (less fat, more vitamin E).
Runner's World magazine did a small feature on ginger root a few months back (maybe even last summer) and featured a simple recipe for ginger tea.

Ginger Tea
Set a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, cut a small chunk off a fresh ginger root. Peel and slice in half. When water is at a boil, drop in ginger. Let boil for 5-7 minutes, until water is infused with the ginger. Put a drizzle of honey into a mug. Pour in tea. Enjoy! With the leftover tea, I like to let it cool, pour it into a water bottle, and refrigerate. When I'm ready to drink it, I add some sugar, shake, and drink! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

And I Set Fire to the Rain

I CANNOT stop listening to Adele's newest: "21". Yes, she's only 21, but completely amazing. Her second album is better than the first, which is also amazingly stellar. How can she capture such emotion in her lyrics and voice? Get it if you haven't!

I'm on a food kick! (Well, when am I not? haha) I checked out a cookbook from Borders called "Power Foods" by the editors of Whole Living magazine. (An employee benefit is that we are able to check out books for two weeks at a time for free, as long as we return it in sellable condition.) I also decided to by my own recipe book. I'm 27 years old I don't have have one yet. I put one together for my sister for Christmas with family favorites and she can keep adding to it. I decided I wanted my own.

The first recipe I tried from "Power Foods" is Lemon Chicken with Corn Salsa. Theresa loves it and has dubbed it Lemon-Ginger Chicken due to the tasty ginger in the salsa. The ginger pulls it all together. The salsa includes corn, black beans, avocado, red onion, tomato, and jalapeno pepper. It's delicious enough to stand on its own, or be thrown onto any number of dishes. I'm going to use the left overs in a tasty taco later this week! Recipe one was a hit! And it was easy to make. The longest thing was cooking the chicken breasts, which, silly me, I bought the thickest ones I've ever seen. Whoops! Tomorrow I'm going to try a brussels sprouts recipe (I know, WHAT?) that includes pears. I want to start liking things I thought I didn't like before. Healthy stuff!

One good thing about the "Power Foods" cookbook is the sections before and after the recipes. They are full of nutritional information on the healthiest foods out there, including which oils, spices, and onions to use. There is even a glossary of scientific terms in case you were wondering what a polysaccharide is. (A carbohydrate compound made up of groups of saccharides, or "sugars." Common polysaccharides with nutritional importance are glycogen [a storage form of carbohydrates], starches, and dietary fiber.) It's a 25 dollar book, though, but I may end up buying it eventually just for the nutritional information.

Happy eating! :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Good Old Music

A Facebook friend posted a video of Ryan Adams playing one of my very favorite songs from back in the day. I immediately opened iTunes and made a playlist of "Old Goodies" to jam out or be nostalgic to. This is definitely going on CD and in my car in the morning!

1. No One Really Wins- Copeland
2. Uppers Aren't Necessary- Rocky Votolato
3. Cross My Heart- The Rocket Summer
4. Portions For Foxes- Rilo Kiley
5. Way You Make Me Feel- Radiant
6. The Day Forever Died- Matt Wertz
7. Such Great Heights- The Postal Service
8. California- Phantom Planet (The OC, anyone?)
9. Come Pick Me Up- Ryan Adams
10. Paint the Silence- South
11. The Brilliant Dance- Dashboard Confessional
12. Take Cover- Acceptance
13. We Used to Be Friends- The Dandy Warhols
14. Found My Place- Augustana
15. Penny on the Train Track- Ben Kweller
16. Speeding Cars- Imogen Heap
17. Pistachio- Lisa Hannigan
18. Pretend You're Alive- Lovedrug
19. Someone Else's Arms-Mae

I'd like to give a shout out to James Wetz for being awesome and sharing some of this music with me in college! :)

The Diet is going well but I'm tired of being hungry all the time. I was not aware that although I eat healthy for the most part, I was eating all the time! I need to train myself to eat three square meals a day, maybe with room for a small snack. For a woman who loves food, this will be difficult!

My garden is sprouting! I put up some cheap fencing to keep the doggies out so now it can take off! My beans are up, corn is slowly coming up, and cucumbers are growing like crazy! :) So excited for fresh veggies!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break, at the End

Yet again I fall behind on keeping up with a blog. I thought it would be nice to try to keep up with one, but having two jobs gives me responsibilities elsewhere.

It's the last day of Spring Break, and of course, I'm not tired at all. So I'll sit and type until I can't type anymore.

What's new? I started this blog to write about books and movies I've seen. I'm currently trying to finish the Twilight series, but it's getting too weird. I've put it aside (on my Sony eReader!!) and moved on to reading "Teach Like a Champion". I feel that I should never stop reading about my profession, which is now teaching theatre (technically as a sub but I do all the work of a full time teacher). Over the break I read a few plays that have been on my shelf as well as "Teach Like a Champion". If you know me, you know I want to give it my all, no matter what I'm doing.

That brings me to running/weight/health.

It's been a frustrating year on the weight issue. I've been maintaining, which is nice. However, I still need to lose in order to be in the safe zone of the BMI bracket (and to look better in a bathing suit). Theresa has found an iPhone app that records what you eat, gives you a goal, and shows how well you're consuming other vitamins and minerals. She's been using it for a week and has results already, so I decided to give it a try. Calorie counting is my last option! I LOVE to eat, and restricting that love is not fun at all. I eat healthy, mostly, but I do have my favorite cravings (chips and salsa, ice cream) that have been bogging me down. Honestly, I would rather have all my teeth pulled than count calories and restrict my food. And you know I HATE the dentist. So. It's going to be interesting. If I stay on track, the app told me I can lose 7.5 lbs by the end of April, and make my goal weight before school starts in August. It also told me my goal weight should be lower than what I had set it, but we'll see. I don't so much care about the number as I do about how I feel. I'm at the top of the healthy range, but I'd like a little more breathing room. So here it goes!

On a better note, something kind of neat happened over the break: I sketched for the first time in over two years. I can't find my sketchbook (probably packed away) so I bought a cheap, small one at Borders to start. I forgot how much I love drawing with charcoal. Now I need to find things to draw! :)

Netflix Streamers: Has anyone else gotten addicted to the TV show "Veronica Mars"? Theresa and I are pretty obsessed- she finished the series today, but I'm still a season and a half behind (work gets in the way!). It's a silly high school show, but the mysteries are intriguing. And the drama-filled love interests. :)

Okay, well. I don't know what else to say, so I guess it's time to try to get back into "Breaking Dawn". That should put me to sleep!