Monthly Archives: October 2011

wednesday recap: morning TV housework

Wait, it’s Wednesday already? I woke up today and seriously thought it was Tuesday. FOUR DAYS TO PITTSBURGH!

My day today kind of flew by. I’ve almost stopped watching TV in the mornings again. There was a novelty to being able to watch Today and The View the first few weeks of unemployment. Watching those shows made me feel like life was simple, like all I had to worry about was cooking dinner, preparing my lawn for winter, and knowing what purse trends would be hot for fall. Then I realized that I didn’t WANT my life to be that simple. I chose to care about different things than what the morning shows focus on. I choose to get my food from a farm collective, to live in a big city where I couldn’t afford a lawn, to never carry a purse with faux-fur on it, even if it’s supposed to be “hot”. I choose to care about the kind of bands that headline Bonnaroo or Coachella, instead of the artists who win American Idol or are weirdly popular despite being formulaic. And then that was the end of the morning shows…except maybe as background noise while I’m sifting through email or running reports. I admit, I kind of like some parts of “The View”, because I enjoy the discussion and commentary on the tough, thorny issues they choose to take on.

Today, I admit, I did watch some morning TV – but I did it while tackling today’s Major Project, the Pantry Re-Organization And Inventory. Because I’ll be gone for five weeks, and Paul will be here on his own for most of that (sometimes alone, sometimes with Ben), I decided to re-organize and inventory the pantry area so my husband would be able to find things, and would know what he had available. Also, I am tired of spending money on things like peanut butter, just to find that there were two jars already hiding in among the salsa and pickles. So I pulled everything off the shelves – over a hundred items, by my count – and entered each item, by category and sub category (for easy spreadsheet sorting), with the item name and the expiration date. Now everything is in a Google Doc I can access, if need be, while at the store. I’m not usually that OCD, but in this case, it was sorely needed.

Also, our pantry was a disaster area. I felt like the “before” case in a Real Simple article…only with more dirt, dust and spillage than any article would ever show. So I pulled out all the open bags of sugar and flour and put them in airtight storage bins, where they would keep and wouldn’t spill. I dumped out the bins of random snack foods and bulk food items, and sorted them out by category. I put what I could into jars and Oxo storage containers, washed and re-organized the bins, and dusted all the shelves. I threw away the expired foods, the almost-empty bags, the things that had gone stale…and the flour with moths in it (which explains our moth problem). The whole project, including cleaning up the floor afterwards, took over 3 hours…done in three one-hour stints, because at one point, I looked at the piles of miscellaneous stuff, and got totally overwhelmed. I can handle stacking eight jars of pasta sauce or five cans of Pixar-branded chicken noodle soup, but I lost it trying to figure out what to do with all the small stuff. At one point, I looked at the floor, covered in Miscellaneous Items that had been living in random bins for the last six months (kiddie Clif bars, single-serving bags of cookies, packages of instant rice pilaf, small amounts of bulk-bin legumes, a half-empty bag of raisins, individually wrapped loose tea bags, airline snacks I save for Ben, etc., etc), and almost short-circuited trying to organize all the items so they would be easily found and eaten. Finally, I put all the grab and go snacks into a bin, put all the bags of nuts, dried fruit and popcorn in a “Some Assembly Needed” snack section, found enough jars and containers to neatly combine and put away all the bags of kidney beans and split peas, put the rice pilaf in a bin with all the other types of rice and put all the tea and coffee together in a separate section. I’ll go through the whole thing today with my label maker, and hopefully, my husband will be able to feed himself and our son in the limited time he has available to do so before Ben starts whining for attention.

None of this should be that difficult, but I absolutely suck at organizing clutter zones. I have to go through a Clutter Zone as a whole, dumping everything out and re-evaluating each item. Places like the baskets on my desk, the pantry, the bookshelves, my dresser…they all turn into Clutter Zones quickly. I’m proud of myself when I clear through one of the Zones though, because organization is such a learned skill for me. Now, we can see everything in the pantry, and even if we can’t, Paul has a list so he knows what’s in there. Soy sauce? Check. Mustard? Check. Juice boxes, granola bars and jars of applesauce? Yep. Farro, quinoa and lentils? Check. I just need to make a list of what’s in the freezer, and he should be all set to be a single parent for a couple weeks…without having to waste time grocery shopping.

I was going to write more in this entry, like about the hardcore Pilates class I did this morning, or about More Goth Cliche Observations done at MODE:M tonight, but I just realized, I’m tired. It’s time to go to sleep. G’night everyone!

update: i’m going to pittsburgh!

Last week, I traveled up to San Francisco for a meeting with Smith Bros. Agency. SBA is a Pittsburgh based ad agency, with a SF office, and fortunately, the hiring manager for the position happened to be on the West Coast in time for me to interview in September. The job is for a Social Media Manager, with an emphasis on strategic social media development. I’m psyched about it because it gives me a chance to work on more high profile, branded social media again.

But also, I’m excited about finding a job in Pittsburgh. Paul is from the western suburbs of PGH, and his family is still there. If we moved there, we would be moving to a city with a built-in support network for us…including grandparents. Proximity to family is a major factor in our relocation plans, so being in the same city as Paul’s parents, not to mention his brother and his aunts and uncles, would be wonderful for our little family unit. Also, PGH is only a few hours drive from Toronto, and my sister may be returning out there, with her husband, her daughter, and our mom. We could go from having no family in town, to being able to constantly see our loved ones…and have Ben grow up with a lot of relatives who love him. Also, we would finally have free grandparent babysitting!

Pittsburgh is also an up-and-coming city, an example of post-industrial revitalization, with a new focus on knowledge – specifically R&D – as an industry. It’s sort of like a Rust Belt version of Portland! I actually like visiting there a lot. I like going out to America’s longest street of bars in the South Side, or taking Ben to the Children’s Museum. I like seeing the re-gentrification of the North Shore, or seeing parks emerge from the industrial zones along the rivers. Seattle did much the same thing in the 1980s and 1990s, turning blighted industrial zones (Gasworks Park) and abandoned railway lines (the Burke-Gilman Trail) into green spaces and bike paths. That sort of well thought out urban development really appeals to me; L.A. drives me crazy because it’s so terribly planned. And thanks to all this urban re-development, Pittsburgh was voted America’s most Livable City by Forbes in 2010, and the Economist in 2011.

The job is not yet permanent though. Right now, it’s a five week freelance job. I’m fine with that, for several reasons. First and foremost, this is a BIG STEP, and a major commitment – more so in PGH than it would be in NYC. In NYC, if I didn’t like a job, I would have far more options than I would in Pittsburgh. A five-week trial gives me time to decide whether or not I’m a good fit for Smith Brothers, in terms of both work ability and personality. I will likely spend at least another five years at my next agency, and I’d prefer to spend ten, so this is a big decision.

Second, I still have other, well, irons in the fire. I’m still talking to other agencies that I don’t want to rule out just yet. If I like the work at Smith Brothers, and I like the environment, and I see room for growth in the role, it’ll meet my needs and I will be happy to settle in. If not, a five-week trial gives me time to work through these other options, and determine whether or not they’re going to go anywhere.

Finally, this gives me a chance to decide whether I want to live in Pittsburgh. Our other options were all in NYC, and I KNOW I love New York City. I’ve loved visiting Pittsburgh for the last five years, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready to give up on that whole big-city dream. On the other hand, a nice house, in a good neighborhood, near a top-rated public school in Pittsburgh is under $300K. A starter home, in a good neighborhood, in a top rated school district commuter suburb upstate, in NJ or on Long Island, is twice as much. It made us almost giddy last weekend to realize that we could walk into Pittsburgh now and BUY A HOUSE.

It’ll be a few weeks before we know all the answers, but I start work in six days. I leave for Pittsburgh on 10/9, and I’ll be back the next weekend. Then, a week later, Paul and Ben will fly in. Paul will drop off Ben, spend the weekend with his parents, and then leave our son with me for a couple weeks (so I don’t have to be away from my baby for TOO long). Ben will stay with Mama, Grandma and Grandpa for two weeks, including Hallowe’en (where he will trick-or-treat on the same streets Paul did growing up), and then I’ll fly him back to L.A. I’ll return, finish my last week of work…and fly back for my friend Kelly’s wedding on November 12th. It’s going to be a crazy couple of months, but hopefully, at the end of it, we’ll know where it is we’ll be moving to in 2012.