Living the Prepared Life

I’m trying to figure out how to make life for Fernando and myself a bit more prepared. We want to be frugal with our lives and spend less time and money on things that don’t matter, like lots of food that just sits in our kitchen and eventually goes bad because I haven’t spent time making a meal plan for the week.

Yeah, I’m that person.

I like the idea of having lots of food in the fridge so I can eat whenever I like. But I never seem to have a solid plan on what I’ll do with said food.

Then there are the leftovers. I’m also the person who loves the idea of leftovers but can’t seem to commit to eating them. It’s like saying that the food is only good the first night and never again. That’s how I am and how I end up with tubs of Tupperware containers in my fridge full of foods growing who knows what.

Yeah, I’m that person, too.

So in an effort to change my habits of wasting money, I’m working on only buying things that we’ll use. If that means buying things that have a longer shelf-life to save money and save me the headache of emptying containers of moldy food, then I’m attempting that. If it means not buying food until we’re out of things to eat at home, I’ve tried that.

But I’m also trying to be more conscious of how we eat. I like having fresh fruits and vegetables in the house. I just never have a plan for how we’ll use them. This becomes a problem when said fruits and vegetables inevitably go bad. And let’s not even talk about freezer burnt meats.

Instead, let’s talk about how I’m making preparedness more of a concept in a frugal lifestyle. I have a job where I work part-time and most of my income is divided between my car payments and our grocery bill. I’m attempting to make that second one a great deal smaller by utilizing Pinterest lists and actually planning what we’ll eat each week.

Have you ever done that before? Planned out your meals? It’s actually quite cathartic in a way I never imagined it could be. I spent all Saturday taking ingredients I purchased at my local Aldi and chopping, slicing, dicing, pouring, and combining them into gallon-sized bags of freezer goodness to be thawed later for the crockpot meals they’ll eventually become. How prepared is that? I was incredibly proud of myself and then realized how much of an adult I really have become.

I still have a number of meals left to prepare, but they take less chopping, slicing and dicing. They can also be done on days when I have more time and don’t just have a break between the classes I teach. So I chose to leave those well enough alone. I am, however, spending time planning out exactly what we’ll eat on each day of the week so I don’t have anything left to chance and find myself saying: “Oh, let’s go out!”

It’s a favorite thing for me.

If I have something prepared or something in mind, it’ll be harder for me to be lazy. Or so I like to tell myself. I’ll have to report back here and let you know how it goes, though.

On a side note, I think I’ve mentioned that Fernando is in university currently. He applied to two local businesses for internships even though he’s essentially still a freshman (I think a bachelor-degree holding student should automatically get some credit, but apparently having an English degree and going to study a science major puts you right back at the beginning). Well, we got some hopeful news this week!

Fernando heard back from one of the companies he applied to and has been asked to do a conference call interview on Tuesday morning! It wouldn’t be in the exact field he’s studying, but really, who cares if it gets him a foot in the door? (Not to mention out of fast food hell!) So please be thinking good thoughts and sending up some prayers for him for his interview!

– RaeNezL

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The Part-Time Job

When I first found out I was hired for the job with the local school system, I was a little hesitant. They offered me a position as a part-time administrative role. It was clear I wasn’t being hired for something I was educated for, and I felt a little as if I’d fallen into a pattern.

It’s clear that my track record with jobs hasn’t always been perfect. You just need to see my resume to see that I have rarely kept a job for longer than a year. In fact, the one job I can recall keeping for longer than a year (besides Starbucks) is the job that started this blog.

Yep. The awful cubicle job from down-below.

I worked in a call center for a year and a month, and that’s the only redeeming factor I can really give that position.

Moving right along…

I was concerned that my earning power was decreasing the more I was laid off from positions. As a young woman with a degree in a rather vague area of business, I had no expertise to offer most companies and very little real experience to leverage when looking for new positions.

Then I got this part-time job offer that was part-lifeline, part-anchor. Yes, it would keep my head above water with bills, and boy, do I have bills! But there was still that nagging feeling that I was being hired for a position that I was over-qualified for and not even in a full-time capacity where I could at least earn enough to make the job count for something.

Still I hired on with those hesitations and began what has become an adventure.

I realize a part-time job isn’t for everyone, and for me, It’s really only a temporary position until Fernando and I can get some things set in stone. However, this job has been not only the lifeline I mentioned before but a Godsend in terms of helping me find direction for my career goals.

Not everyone gets so lucky.

Have I mentioned it’s also given me time to battle the never-ending monster that is cleaning the apartment?

Let me tell you all about that one. No, wait. You probably don’t have time for that. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

However, I might have to share more about battling the monster that is cleaning in the future as part of sharing about working part-time and how it’s really changed my perspective.

What I’d like to tell you about today is how working part-time has changed my perspective on the value of jobs.

We put so much value on what kind of job we’re working and whether it’s part-time or full-time. But there are a lot of people working positions like mine: part-time positions that require a lot of time and effort outside the normal working hours just to get the job done.

We tend to think that it’s not a real job unless we’re getting paid a certain amount. Different people have different ideas about this, but in some families, there are expectations about how much a person should be making in their career at a certain age or level of employment. It can be incredibly daunting to consider trying to meet expectations like that when you’re not even employed full-time in the first place.

We think that non-traditional jobs are risky and won’t yield a good result. If you’ve ever gotten involved in a job that isn’t what you were educated for or isn’t a traditional, safe, normal job, you probably know exactly what I’m trying to say here. This applies to full-time and part-time jobs, and it can lead to all kinds of pain and frustration, especially when we find our sweet spots.

We are consumed by putting a dollar value on a job instead of a quality of life value. I think this is especially true for people who like to compare what we’re making to what we could be making if we just went to a different position or company. It’s easy to put a dollar value on a job. It’s hard to put a quality of life value on it. We’re so quick to want to make the most money and believe that will bring the most happiness, but there are times when our quality of life deteriorates as we strive for that money.

You may not agree with me about these things. But I’ve learned a few things after starting a part-time job working in a position I love. I may never make enough money in this job to support my lifestyle, and that’s okay. My lifestyle has had many changes since marriage anyway.

What I will do, however, is find a way to get more education so that I can take advantage of opportunities to make this a more full-time position.

What about you? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts on a part-time job?

Breathing Life Back…

…into this poor, sad blog.

I decided to come back and make a few tweaks and changes to my little blog. I’m debating about working on making writing a blog a new career move for myself, and I’d like to have a more aesthetically pleasing blog to share with people if I do follow through with this change.

Why, might you ask, would I be considering this?

For the same reasons I’m doing lots of new things these days. I am choosing to indulge in healthier habits, taking pride in my job, finding passions in my life I wasn’t aware of, and becoming a bit of a fan of adding creativity back into my world. I’d like to share that with people, even if I’m not sharing things that I was sharing before.

My blog may change a bit as a result.

However, I wanted to address a few fun things:

  • I’m still writing! I have been working on a novel and am committed to completing and posting Anti-Hero to Wattpad. Those of you who follow me there may notice there is a fancy bit of cover art I recently put up, and it has inspired me to move toward completing my current novel so I can finish Anti-Hero. 
  • I’m actually teaching ESL or English as a Second Language, and I absolutely love it! In fact, I may begin sharing some tips and tricks of the trade on my blog as I continue in this new profession. I never would have expected to find this job to be so exciting, but it’s become something I’m quite passionate about and am now considering pursuing further education in to make it a full-time career.
  • Fernando and I are still enjoying married life, much like two no longer newly weds would be, and we’ve settled into routines. If you check out the new design of the blog, you’ll see I’ve linked to my Instagram account where you can find pictures of us both as well as our favorite Dobby the House Corgi.
  • I’ve become quite a fan of exploring Pinterest ideas and putting them into practice in my little apartment. They tend to make a small space brighter, larger, and more pleasant. Feel free to check out my Pinterest link in the sidebar and get ready for upcoming posts sharing all my adventures with Pinterest creativity.
  • Last but not least, I’m becoming pretty obsessed with these little things called essential oils. I won’t go into too much detail in this post, but if you haven’t heard of the various companies out there that sell them, you should take a look at Young Living Essential Oils. I’ve been getting oils for several months now and have quite enjoyed incorporating them into my life.

Phew! You didn’t know you’d be reading a book of life changes, did you? Well, prepare for more to come as I hopefully am going to be sharing more with you about my writing, creating, teaching, loving life.

By the way, the title of my blog might seem a bit misleading, but I think I’ll also be doing a series on how I’ve been escaping cubed life over the past several years and what it’s done for me.

If you’ve hung in with me this long, thanks! Look forward to more from me, and I’ll be sharing more about life in a Cubed world.

– RaeNezL

What a Difference…

…a few weeks makes.

I know I’ve been absent, and in absentia, you may have thought I’d retired my keyboard and blog. However, these last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for me. It’s been amazing the amount of things I’ve accomplished in a short period of time.

Let me explain.

I finished out a two week notice at the Call Center Xtroardinaire, and it was one of the craziest two weeks I’d had. Mainly because I was too excited to care much about anything other than being able to leave soon and very soon. Of course, I was professional about it. I did my job and did it well. I did everything as I was supposed to.

Even though my supervisor kept telling me it didn’t matter and I could do what I wanted.

I suppose they’re not used to caring if people do anything for their last two weeks.

Perhaps they’re not used to getting an actual notice.

Either way, I stayed the course, I worked my time, and I quit early. What? I mean, I left early on Friday, my last day, after I had my exit interview.

My exit interview went surprisingly well. I even had the opportunity to kindly mention some of the supervisors who clearly hated their jobs as I left. (Take that, Ms. Jerk who rarely smiles  and even more rarely takes questions from reps!)

Then I turned around, got up Monday, and went to the new job. And wow. What. A. Difference.

I wound up in shock after learning some silly little things.

First: I get dual screen monitors. Yes, that’s redundant. No, I don’t care.

Second: I have a laptop. Yes, I’m typing this from said laptop. It’s fun.

Third: I get to do blogging for work. Woot! Not here, of course… but it’ll be such a blast to write for the company even if it does have to do with techy things I don’t quite understand. (You know, like “the cloud” and why we need it.)

Fourth: I get to have Nerf dart wars with my coworkers. Who wouldn’t love that? And it’s during working hours.

And this is only what I’ve learned within the first two weeks of working there. I’ve trained. I’ve already started taking calls. And, yes, I’ve had clients hang up on me. I’ve had people get haughty and impatient with me. But, you know, it’s not too bad. I can deal.

And when in doubt, Nerf it out. Or, you know, just shoot a technician. Because it’s their fault if a customer’s calling back about a ticket, right?

So… this new job thing? It seems like it might be just up my alley.

As for the old job, I’m still keeping tabs on the people I worked with. I mean, they’re my buddies, and I miss them. I did find out Call Center Xtroardinaire is adding 10,000 new accounts in the next month and has decided it’s a great time to announce they’re cutting back 15% of their workforce. They announced this the Tuesday after I left.

As you can imagine, I’m rather glad I’m gone… because I’m positive I would be cut had I stayed.

I’ll be posting more updates soon, but for now, Fernando is waiting to go get dinner. And a hungry Fernando is a dangerous thing!

– RaeNez

Pending a Two Week Notice…

…I will be leaving the call center.

Yes, the final piece of news from this incredible week of things that have changed my life and turned my world upside down is that I have received some amazing news as of Friday, March 1st.

You’ll recall from a previous post that I mentioned having a final interview on the 1st with the company I was so excited about before. They had me set for an interview on Friday morning, so I took off work using holiday time I’d earned and went to the interview hoping the people I interviewed with for a second time would like me as much as the first people had.

I interviewed with three different people this time. One was the woman who is already in place in the position I’d be coming into. I’m assuming she would be in charge of training me and would likely be the person I’d report to as well. She said they were thinking about how they could change the position and add some different responsibilities to it, and since it’s a relatively new position, I suppose that would be a fun transition to come into for me.

The second person I interviewed with was another woman who was very energetic, and although I wasn’t quite sure of her role in the organization, I enjoyed her immensely. She had a great personality and was a lot of fun to talk to.

And the last person I talked to was the marketing coordinator, a young man who I recognized from a church I’d attended before. He didn’t remember me, but we had a connection through a prior job that I’d done because he knew the owners of the company. He was fun and energetic and made me smile to listen to him talk.

Overall, I actually thoroughly enjoyed my second interview and felt very pleased with how it went. I loved meeting these people and felt more than ever that the company was one I’d like to work with. No company is perfect, obviously, but it would be such fun to work in an environment with people whose personalities are big and loud and fun like this one.

After my interview, they took me to the area in the building that I’d be working if I got the job. I got to say hi to two of my friends who worked in that department. I chatted with them and was asked about wedding planning details (of which I’ve done nothing). And then I left, wondering how soon I’d hear back from the company.

I had a lot going on Friday anyway. Fernando and I were spending most of the day going out and about. I had a doctor’s appointment to follow up on my ear infection from a couple of weeks ago. I needed to pick up my engagement ring from the jeweler because they were fixing the setting since I’d noticed the diamond was loose.

Anyway, we went to IHOP for a late lunch or early dinner, and I got the call around 4 pm. It was the president I’d interviewed with offering me the job. I was shocked, thrilled, so excited I was nearly bouncing in my seat. Fernando grabbed my hand from across the booth and held onto it to keep me anchored.

She gave me the decided salary, which was well beyond what I’d anticipated and such a wonderful figure I would never argue with it. She explained they would include all the benefits of a normal package including insurance options and 401-k options. The company even has a 401-k matching plan after you’ve worked there a certain amount of time.

She asked when I could start, and since I’m being good, I said I could start after giving a two week’s notice at work. I told her March 18th would be an excellent start date for me. I explained I could submit my two week’s notice tomorrow and be done within the next two weeks. She agreed and stated she would put that in as my start date for the job. I’m expecting the offer letter this week.

And now I start yet another adventure!

I can’t even believe how crazy this has been. Within the space of a week, I’ve become engaged and gotten a new job. Now to get through the next two weeks and begin this job while working out the details of planning a wedding.

So what do you say to all that? Do you think I’ve had a crazy week after all?

– RaeNez

Scheduling Blues & Valentine’s Recap

Well, I’ve been away several days, and it’s been an exciting and busy few days to say the least. I’ll start by saying that on Friday (yes, I’m bypassing Valentine’s for a moment) we had a meeting at work. That’s always a danger. It was even more of a danger because it was with our outbound collections team only instead of the entire call center team.

The meeting began with the management team informing us we’re going to a new schedule. Now while it isn’t pleasant for me, I wasn’t as upset by the changes as some people were. It’s not like I can complain anyway. They do what they want, and I simply do as I’m told, right? Right.

Our current schedule is a Monday-Thursday 9-hour shift and Friday 4-hour shift. You can see why some people were upset. They cherish their 4-hour Fridays. As do I. It’s one of the few days I’m really able to see Fernando, after all, since his crazy schedule as fast food assistant manager keeps him busy on 10-hour shifts five days a week, he ends up taking off Fridays and Saturdays to see me. So we get my half-day Fridays and all day Saturdays and most of Sundays.

If we’re lucky, we’ll see each other at various times during the week. But that hasn’t happened often lately due to our schedules.

Now my schedule will be changing starting in a few short weeks. It’s going from the above to a straight 8-hour Monday-Friday shift. They determined this was the best option to get the most call outs done and get things taken care of in the timeliest manner.

I have no quibbles with leaving an hour earlier. I’m not too chuffed at losing my half-day. I’m just rather tired with all the changes. It’s every other week we’re having a meeting about changing this or that policy. Or perhaps we’re getting an email at least once or twice a week about being able to accept or deny new pieces of information for customers when they apply for different programs. Then there’s the constant change in seating arrangements. I feel like I’m back in high school, moving desks because the teachers disapprove of so-and-so sitting next to so-and-so or whatnot.

In fact…

I had to move my desk to a desk literally not two feet away from where I was sitting. It wasn’t a big deal. They had me move on Thursday. And while I’m not really complaining, I find it amusing that I was moved.

You see, I didn’t ask to be moved.

Evelyn did.

She has severe asthma, and it’s been acting up terribly in our prior seating arrangement next to the supervisor. We were seated directly under a vent that constantly pumped out air (whether warm or cold) that would irritate her asthma and cause her to cough uncontrollably. Honestly, it was an OSHA issue more than anything else. But she was going nuts trying to get over the coughing, and she had requested to be moved to a seat where there was no vent (a seemingly impossible task in our large facility).

She requested to take over the resident “bro-ski’s” seat because he sat in an area that wasn’t as heavily hit by vents. Now “bro-ski” is an okay guy, but he’s not someone I talk to a lot, and I’m not particularly a fan of his. Evelyn took him aside and explained her situation and asked him nicely if he’d consider switching seats with her. His response was, unfortunately, predictable.

He told her in no uncertain terms he would raise cain if she tried to get him to move.

Well, strike one.

Then my supervisor came up to me on Thursday morning after I noticed her speaking to “bro-ski” and asked if I would move. She told me she knew I wasn’t really interested in moving but asked if I’d be willing to. I said I would, end of story. I mean, they’d move me anyway, so I had little choice in the matter.

That afternoon our systems went down completely for about an hour. It was great and glorious. I couldn’t take calls. It was a really beautiful world. And that’s when I moved. I took over another “bro-ski’s” desk who was out sick that day, and that’s when I realized what had happened.

In order to pacify “bro-ski,” they moved me so that his “bromance” with our other “bro-ski” could continue unhindered by distance. And of course, because the “bromance brothers” are the “teacher’s pet” types in the call center, they get pacified in their desires.

I know that’s very sarcastic and all, but you have to understand the call center life is one of those things that is very similar to high school. You have the teacher’s pets who suck up to the supervisors and get what they want. You have the cool kids who band together and get to do special things because they’re cool and they can. And then you have people who don’t really fit and just try to make it without getting in trouble.

There’s more to it than that, but I’ll likely do a separate post about how the call center is just like high school.

In short, I got bumped for the “bromance” duo, and I’m not altogether unhappy, just amused at the irony of favoritism.

In other news: I am hoping and praying for a favorable review of an interview I had Friday afternoon with an amazing company that I’d love to work for. I won’t say much here now, but I had a phone interview with them last Thursday and arranged for an in-person interview with them Friday afternoon. And now it’s a matter of waiting for them to call me this Friday to let me know if I get to go on to an executive interview, the next step in their process. I’ll definitely keep you posted on how that goes! Be wishing me lots of luck!

Finally, I have to say I had an excellent Valentine’s Day with my dear Fernando.

He surprised me big time, and though the women at work were wagering on how many bouquets I’d receive and whether he’d propose or not (to both of which they were disappointed), I was frustrated by the end of the work day. The flowers rolled in, and it was a riot of roses in the office, but none came for me. And what really frustrated me wasn’t the lack of a delivery but my co-workers’ constant jabbing at me about how I hadn’t gotten anything yet and how something much bigger and shinier must be waiting for me at home. (Or as one co-worker put it, I must have a “butt naked man” waiting for me.)

By the time I went home, I was annoyed and ready to call it a night and just go wherever for dinner and not even bother with all the hoopla surrounding Valentines, even though I’d made Fernando a card on Sunday and gotten him chocolate-covered strawberries the day before. So when he showed up at my door dressed nicely with his hands behind his back and told me to pick a hand, I was taken aback and felt annoyed with myself for being annoyed.

He brought me chocolates and a beautiful bouquet of red and pink roses and the sweetest card. I think I liked the card best. Probably because he wrote me the most wonderful note, and I’m nothing if not won over by a few lines of ink on paper. I almost cried but didn’t and instead hugged him and didn’t want to let go to get dinner.

We went to a seafood restaurant here in town and got a delicious meal. I got a nice fish that wasn’t too fishy tasting with a lemon caper sauce and au gratin potatoes. He got filet mignon and lobster and steamed broccoli. And it was all just lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed my Valentine’s Day with my first Valentine.

I’m not going to make a huge deal out of it, but he was incredibly sweet, and I adored him for it. And now here’s hoping all the good vibes from Valentine’s allowed my interview Friday to push me toward the potential for a new and better job in a company that seems to be really amazing and, more importantly, cares for its employees and wants them to enjoy coming to work.

What a difference that would make!

We shall see. And I will definitely keep you posted.

– RaeNez