Friday, March 19, 2010

Early spring day

There are so many things in my life to look forward to.
- Having babies some day. Smart, beautiful, curious, well-behaved, grounded, confident, multilingual babies.
- Career. Work abroad, politics, climbing the ladder, choosing my next steps, getting paid for it.
- Travel. Niagara with husband, Montreal, Paris, Japan, Portugal, London, New Zealand, overwater bungalows...
- Activities. Learning Farsi/Arabic, Tagalog, perfecting Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian...
- Bike rides
- Trying delicious, crazy new foods/drinks I have never dreamed of - like the lard chunks cooked in milk my Croatian friend described to me
- Wearing perfect dresses on perfect days
- Enjoying random kindness of/to strangers
- Self-deprecating humor
- Meeting/ spending time with true friends
- Living: In new/different countries, houses, making plans and taking detours
- Living at peace with myself
- Having that falling-in-love feeling about life.
(Written during my lunch hour, in the sun, in the park, while in a really good mood. I'll read this over again periodically to remind myself that I am LIVING)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Growing pains

So, it just happened. I get to go abroad for a few months, and I'm very excited. All I can say is, be nice to everyone and work really hard. At least, in this situation, because I work with awesome people, it is possible to be recognized by a) being nice and b) working hard. Yay! That's how I got this opportunity. Even though I haven't gone yet, I'm plotting my next opportunity.

For the first time in my life, I am seeing myself as a career girl. I'm not just doing a job for experience and/or money. I'm investing in my career, and thinking in terms of "career moves." I'm taking advantage of the opportunities my current job has to offer, and thinking of how they could fit in to my larger career goals, how they might make me more marketable, or help me move into a different field. For example, I'm studying Farsi on my job's dime, so that maybe one day I can work on Middle East issues. And I'm thinking of how my husband and I can live/work abroad as a team. When I look at my job this way, as an investment in a career, a 30+ year-long trajectory of 40 hour work weeks, it makes what I do on a daily basis more exciting and meaningful.

I think about how hard it was to get to this point. I think about my first day at my first grown-up job, and how, after orientation, when I was left to my own devices, and I was given my first assignment, to formulate a written response to a request, my gut was telling me to run away as fast as I could. I felt like I didn't belong in a cube, at a desk, in front of a computer that wasn't mine. The cube was dull and lifeless, I was surrounded by strangers, and I didn't have a definite end date, like I had always had for school. I felt like all of my previous work/academic experience made me unfit for this job, because in all those years I went to school I never learned how to sit in a cube and be a worker bee. Instead, I was taught that I should strive to be original, and explore ideas that intrigued me, and that my ideas were important, and interesting, and that I should try to understand other perspectives to enrich my understanding of a particular topic. But the most basic knowledge, the stuff I learned in kindergarten and at home, is pretty much the only knowledge you need to be a good worker bee: play nice and follow directions.

Luckily, I can explore my individuality and creativity through the random emails I send my coworkers, lunchtime chit chat, and blogging. Maybe one day I can better incorporate those qualities into my career. At least, that's the goal.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Barbie's dream home

Having a house will probably not happen in the next five years, but hopefully the hubs and I will both have some good work experience under our belts by that time comes and we'll be prepared for house-buying and other next steps. I can picture two dream houses. One house is a cottage-type dwelling, with a garden patio, gynormous kitchen with a deep Italian-tiled sink, in a hipster area of town, a mix of authentic, established locals and cool, social newcomers, in a place with a moderate climate (Chile, California, ok I guess DC but only because there are jobs), with access to a farmers market, and some kind of body of water nearby like a lake or stream. It would be a simple, comfortable, cozy house, and it would smell like espresso and nutella all the time.

The other dream house is a vacation house that I can transport from place to place at whim, a pretty bare-bones place, probably made of concrete, that contains a sink, some hammock hooks in the ceiling, a tiled bathroom fitted with a toilet and a bidet, an outdoor shower with a view to something (ocean, lake, valley, mountains), and a wireless internet connection. I could put the house on a Caribbean island when I felt like going to the beach, deep in the red-dusted interior of Brazil when I felt like escaping a harsh winter, in the Philippines when I wanted to visit my grandma and learn Tagalog, somewhere in Chile so I could spend time with my in-laws and we could all relax together, and anywhere else my friends happen to be so I can visit them. I think of all the impossible things I could want, this crazy dream house is it.

Maybe I could construct a chain of these dwellings all over the world and rent them out to people trying to live the dream. There would be some type of reservation system involved, and the local people that live in those areas could earn money constructing/maintaining/cleaning the dwellings. Yeah, leave it to an American to try to concoct a way to McDonaldize a dream like that.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Next Steps

My husband and I just had a conversation about next steps yesterday. We had a nice serious talk and we ended up with a plan on my next steps. Cleverly, now that I think of it, he got away without drawing up a clear plan for himself - he shifted the focus to my plan instead.

First, I need a mentor.

Also, I need to inquire about going abroad for work. It would be convenient for me because two of my friends (and pretty soon, three) live in one of the places where I could go. It's as simple as me going and asking someone, hey, what's the next step to get there? But for the past month I've been biting my tongue. Next steps can be scary. If I could just take my husband with me, going abroad for work would be perfect. But it's only 10 weeks or so. I know I could manage without him, especially with friends over there.

Now I need to bug my husband about his next steps. He graduated from college 6 years ago, and he wants to get an advanced degree. At this rate, he very well might be the oldest person in his class - the weird guy that has a kid and a whole other life, besides going to school. I remember there was only ONE guy like that in my grad program in Italy and just a) being in awe that a person can still be a student in their 30s with a bunch of crazy young whippersnappers without running away in frustration - don't they know everything by now anyway? and b) wondering how they can balance the expensive business of supporting a family with the very unproductive activity of studying.