No Gym? No Problem.

This time last year, I was excited to share that I had once again joined a gym. The gym and I had a healthy relationship for awhile. I would go twice a week, sometimes three, and go cardio-crazy for 45 minutes. I started drinking more water, timing myself on 5K runs on the treadmill, and overall, not feeling too shabby.

My record for a 5K, by the way, was 32:29. I’m not a marathon-er by any means, so I was pretty proud of that. More importantly, the first full 20 minutes was either running or jogging, no walking! That was a pretty big milestone, and I’m glad to have hit it.

But anyway. Now I need to re-prioritize my discretionary income. In addition to further reducing my clothing budget (that never gets used 100% anyway) and starting to sell some of my books online, I’ve discontinued my gym membership. That’s another $70/month in my pocket…or in my new joint-account to be used for silly things like DIY wedding favors and not-so-silly things like a quality photographer. That’s a big chunk of change, which is good. But now that means I don’t have any accountability when it comes to working out.

Uh oh.

I found FitnessBlender a few months back and started doing some of their workouts on occasion. I’ve decided that their videos, in combination with the occasional jog, will make up my new fitness routine. I’ve never really focused on strength and toning, but I know that’s an important part of all that fitness stuff, so there you go. Time to put a little more focus on that and a little bit less focus on “okay! I hit 45 min! I can get off the elliptical now!”.

Some of the Fitness Blender workouts. They have lots more!

Some of the Fitness Blender workouts. They have lots more!

And the best part? Since all I have to do is roll out of bed, move my coffee table and roll out a yoga mat, I can work out before I go to work. What would have meant me waking up at 5AM to get to the gym and home in time to leave for work now means I can wake up at 6:15 and still get in almost a full hour. I haven’t particularly noticed that I have any more energy (and I have no idea if it’s “improving my metabolism” or whatever working out in the morning is supposed to do), but I can also attribute that to not having taken a lunch break in three weeks and just being generally stressed and exhausted at work. Lovely.

Last week’s workouts (if I like the results I will probably continue doing something similar each week going forward):

  • Monday – Cardio, squats
  • Tuesday – Cardio/strength combo, arms
  • Wednesday – day of rest!
  • Thursday – Cardio “Kickboxing”, squats
  • Friday – Yoga-inspired cardio*
  • Sunday – accidental hiking in jeans (long story)

*Wasn’t that big a fan of this one, will probably be switching it out for either pure cardio or pure yoga. Oh well, you don’t know til you try it!

I know I need to get some jogging in there at some point, but it’s a work in progress. This week I only did 30 min workouts, so I’m going to gradually increase to 45 (and then, perhaps, to an hour?). That way there is plenty of time to focus one day on multiple toning routines and another day strictly on cardio. Done and done.

That Stuck Feeling

I read two different posts on other blogs today about those authors’ NYC anniversaries. Weird, right? My four-year NYC anniversary was this week as well…I guess August 15th is a popular move-in date. They both reflected on their time here so far, and how they at times feel like they belong and don’t belong (sometimes at the same time).

I’m in that “sometimes at the same time” category. New York has never been my endgame. It’s been my “I’ll hang out here for awhile with friends and see how it goes” game. Four years later, I’m looking at staying here for at least two more years. I’ve got a wedding to plan in the area. I need at least a few more years of job experience before I can transition to management. I sure as hell don’t feel like going through that moving process again after only being in this apartment year. So I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll be here at least through summer 2015.

And then I look at the word “resigned” and I get confused. I’m not unhappy; I live so close to many of my friends and family. I’m not discontent with New York City either. I don’t mind the subways (except for when the delays are ginormous). I still love doing things like heading to Prospect Park or the beer garden. I used to do more of that, though. I’m not in love with NYC anymore. It’s just there, and I feel indifferent.

Am I too young to feel resigned? To feel indifferent about my job, where I live, how I’m spending my free time? Or is it okay, because it’s temporary, because I have goals and this is just until I get to the point where I can make those happen? Or is temporary not okay at all, should I just go out and do something I don’t feel wishy-washy about?

I don’t know.

Well, I do know. I’m too chicken to quit my job, to pick up and move, to be spontaneous. I have too much here (and that’s a good thing!), and besides, I can’t afford to quit anything without having a backup plan and paycheck.

This past weekend I had a great time with my friends. Friday, I went to Prospect Park and ended up stopping by three bars before I got home and promptly fell asleep at 11PM. On Saturday, a few friends had a brunch: the drinks were abundant, the company was excellent, we ended up staying until it was dark and I went home and made it to midnight before I fell asleep.

Who the heck am I? I’m stuck between wishing I was still young enough to get away with doing things like an all-day drinkathon, and actually being an adult and getting tired and not making it til 2 or 3AM like I used to. I need to grow up. If I’m so disillusioned with NYC, I need to stop sitting around (at bars, in the park, or otherwise) and just do things. Go to a crappy comedy show. Check out a street fair. Go to a Cyclones game. I like to think I do these things but my excitement and participation has really worn off since that first magical summer where everything in NYC just seemed to be the best ever. 

Meh.

Sorry for the major word vomit and the five thousand idea threads shoved into this post. This is what happens when you schedule student appointments during your lunch break so you don’t take lunch and then they don’t show up so you have a little bit of time to reflect on where you are and what you are feeling in that moment. Stream of conscious blogging: it’s cathartic. Try it some time.

Family Trips and Feelings

This past weekend D and I took a quick getaway with my dad’s side of the family. My grandmother’s birthday was last week, and in lieu of gifts she wanted everyone to spend some time together*. While many people may cringe at the thought of spending the weekend with 20 of their aunts, uncles and cousins, I relished it. I’m so grateful to have them all in my life, and for the fact that we’re all so close. Of course, since everyone present has a least a little bit of Italian heritage (exempting D and my mother), it got loud and boisterous and there was lots of speaking-with-hands and noodging each other just because we can**.

Nature, because it only counts if you put it on Instagram.

Nature, because it only counts if you put it on Instagram.

We stayed at a resort in Pennsylvania, and it was a tremendously relaxing weekend. Electronics (even iPhones) stayed mostly out of sight while we played volleyball, kickball and Scrabble, and spent most of our time outside. We grabbed the dining tables from all four of our suite-style rooms to put them all together mess-hall style and passed around plates of penne ala vodka and cold cuts. We reminisced about the “good old days” and about the schemes my late grandfather got everyone involved in. And at the end of the weekend, my sister drove us home while the rest of the families stayed until Tuesday. It was hard leaving them all knowing that the next day I would be back at work while they were kayaking and swimming in the lake.

When you don't ask people to take pictures for your blog, you end up gakking pictures from your sister. And they're blurry.

When you don’t ask people to take pictures for your blog, you end up grabbing the only photo you’re in from your sisters camera. And it’s blurry.

I woke up Monday morning incredibly sore and realized that even though I frequent the gym, I’m nowhere near in well enough shape to be playing sports for an entire weekend. I’m one of the oldest grandchildren, and chasing after 10- and 13-year olds that take gym class daily was more taxing than I realized! Walking up and down the stairs is still a little bit difficult. But I’d gladly do it all again this weekend, because if you are lucky enough to have a great family that is close enough to visit regularly, you do it.

*It was still her birthday though, so we all chipped in for a Kindle Fire and unlimited “tech support” in the form of always being available to answer her questions about how to use it.

**I didn’t realize how many Jewish/Yiddish words I grew up using until I was around people that don’t use them. Using words like noodge, schlepp and oy vey were just part of my lexicon growing up in an area with so many Jewish families. And I love it. Why say “carried” when you can say “schlepped”?

 

Guys, goats are adorable and cost-efficient.

The Congressional Cemetary in Washington, DC recently came to own a bit more land. The problem? It was overrun with poisonous plants. Instead of spending $10,000 to get professionals in there with pesticides, they brought in a bunch of goats.

Yup, goats.

Apparently they’ll only cost about 25 cents an hour and poisonous plants don’t harm their digestive system. So they sicced a bunch of goats on the lawn and they will clear 1.6 acres in a week.

Look at how happy this goat is to be eating plants a cemetary.

Good on you, goats. And to whichever creative government employee came up with that idea.

If you need to clear some poisonous land of your own, the company is called Eco-Goats.

Read more about this story over at Yahoo. Credit where credit due and all that.

 

Money Matters: A Sense of Defeat

Time for a blunt, honest post, hooray!

I just applied for a part-time job. I feel defeated.

I shouldn’t. I know that lots of people work more than one job. And I also know that D and I are going to need some additional income if we want to afford a wedding in NYC (even a bargain-savvy, partly DIY, nothing fancy one) in the next three years. While we both have full-time jobs, the cost of living in NYC, student loan payments, and (in my case) almost negligible pay increases after four years and a Masters, are all forcing our hand. D does some freelance work for extra income, but my job doesn’t have any natural transitions into freelancing*. So here I am.

When I was in high school, I went to a high-performing public school. I lived in a good school district, and was in the most challenging programs. For that reason, applying to community college was scoffed at. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. Going to college was seen as a right, not a privilege, and “college” meant a four-year college. It didn’t have to be a small, private one with resort-like amenities, you just had to be able to get your Bachelors without transferring. That was dumb and small-minded of us as teenagers, so why is my mind drawing that comparison once again? How I should be judged for having to take on another job when I already have a nine-to-five?

Applying for a part-time job to supplement the income of my full-time job seems like a failure. I get by just fine normally with the income I’m making (and should be thankful to have that job, to boot), but my take-home pay doesn’t give me enough wiggle-room to throw a bunch of money into a wedding savings account. Some, but not a lot.

More honesty time: I put a decent amount of money into retirement each month, in terms of the percentage of my paycheck. In fact, without contributing to my 401k, I probably wouldn’t have to get another job. But to me, putting money away for later comes first. I can’t imagine putting my retirement savings on hold for one, two, three years as I try to accelerate my wedding fund. Since I got my first job in retail as a 16-year-old, my family has always emphasized the importance of saving for later on (and that was before the recession, remember back in the day when people had job security and could afford mortgage payments?).

So, okay. I probably don’t need a part-time job. I’m not scrimping and saving and living paycheck-to-paycheck, and I don’t want it to sound like I am. I just didn’t expect to need to make the decision between drastically changing my lifestyle (not going out with friends on weekends or buying books) and getting another job to help me pay for a party I want all of my friends and family to enjoy. And I’m not going to cut corners on that, because you only get married once and I’d rather work a few extra hours to invite more friends than not.

I sort of liked working in retail. It won’t be so bad. I’m being pickier than I should be in applying for positions, so who knows if I’ll even find something. If not, there are other options: creating a super-successful niche blog and monetizing. Winning the lottery. Removing my credit card from Amazon.com so I don’t buy books for Kindle every two days.

I can do this. Even writing it down I feel better. So thanks for reading.

*A friend of mine suggested helping families fill out their FAFSA (financial aid) forms. While I am unfortunately an expert at that, I would feel terrible charging people for advice/assistance they should be able to get for free. Those that need the most help with their FAFSA are the ones least likely to have extra money around to pay a consultant. So I suppose I do have some work skills that lend themselves to consulting or freelancing, but none that I wouldn’t feel guilty charging for.