Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Still Catching Up

So many things happened during my recent blogging hiatus that I don’t know where to start! Some of the things I remember the most: I attended Bill Burr’s stand-up show on April 7 at the Taft Theatre here in Cincinnati.

Prior to the show, I tried out Nada for the first time. It’s a Mexican Cantina just down the street from the theatre often rated as one of Cincinnati’s favorites. I had the Shrimp and Street Corn Tamal, and really enjoyed it. When I go back, I’m definitely going to try one of their specialty cocktails. The Yucatan and Chile-Mango sounded especially enticing. Bill Burr was funny as usual. I wouldn’t say it was his best material (compared to some of his specials I’ve seen), but I definitely found myself in stiches a few times during the show.

On May 11, I had my first Mammogram! During my annual women’s exam in April, the doctor noticed an area that slightly concerned her, so she recommended I schedule one to rule out anything nefarious. Forgive this TMI, but I have dense breast tissue, which apparently makes it more difficult to spot lumps, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to be safe.

The Mammogram was actually no big deal. I had heard they can hurt, but I barely found it uncomfortable. They also used some kind of ultrasound machine to take pictures since I have the dense tissue. Fortunately, the lump was what they refer to as benign fibrous growth that would only need to be treated if it becomes a problem (like enlarges and causes pain). They recommended follow-ups in 6 months and then 6 months after that, but after receiving my $525 bill (after insurance!), I’m not sure I want to go through with all that.

On May 21, I was finally able to see one of my favorite bands, Satyricon, perform live at the Alrosa Villa venue in Columbus, OH. They billed this tour as their last ever tour of the United States, and although I was a bit disappointed not to hear a couple of my favorite songs (specifically The Sign of the Trident and That Darkness Shall Be Eternal); they still put on an excellent show.

About half way through it, Satyr, Satyricon’s lead singer, dedicated their song, To Your Brethren in the Dark, to Dimebag Darrell, after explaining how Satyricon was supposed to have played at Alrosa the night after Dimebag’s murder. The whole show was bittersweet. RIP Dimebag and Vinnie Paul (who recently passed of a heart attack in his sleep). Brothers reunited. 😭

On June 6, I attended Slayer’s “final world tour” at Riverbend here in Cincinnati, and was able to mosh to War Ensemble for what will likely be my last time ever. The mosh pit was respectable enough that it made me miss the old days, and the other four bands were all entertaining: Testament, Anthrax, Behemoth, and Lamb of God.

I’ve seen all five bands before, but it was definitely an awesome line-up having them all together, so it attracted a good crowd. Behemoth played my favorite song, but I have to admit the ambiance wasn’t quite there. It just didn’t feel natural watching them perform during the daylight hours! Slayer was as good as always, though, and made sure to play all of their fan favorites. They also displayed a nice tribute to Jeff Hanneman near the end of their set.

In my last post, I mentioned my new, second job. I’ve spent most of the past couple of months trying to figure out my new work-life balance, especially when it comes to eating right, working out, socializing, and still managing to get some alone time (plus sleep). So far, I’ve only been doing 3 days/nights a week most weeks at Fifty West, so I’ve been able to keep some of my evenings free to either socialize or veg out in front of Hulu or Netflix. I really want to be more productive, though, and definitely value/prioritize my time better. Time management is a real skill! I’m sure I’ll discuss this and other related factors in future posts.

Finally, I took the trip to Toronto I mentioned in earlier posts from May 3-7. The eight hour drive was rather boring. We took the route from Cincinnati to Detroit, then on through Windsor and farm Canada. Windsor was actually a neat, little city with some older architecture that reminded me a lot of the Victorian style homes you can find throughout Northern Kentucky. The rest of that drive is all farm country, though. Not much to look at other than the occasional cow and a lot of wind turbines.

One thing about Toronto that stuck out the most was the similarity of the architecture throughout the city. Like most large cities these days, they were doing a lot of construction, but most of the buildings they were erecting were nearly identical. Overall, it was a very clean and diverse city, though,
and as a foodie, I really enjoyed the variety of options available. In some future posts, I will go into more detail about the places I went and include pictures. After all, I crossed off two bucket list items on this trip: the Hockey Hall of Fame and Niagara Falls!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

2018 Goals Part 5: Find a Job That Makes Me Feel Valued and Pays Me What I’m Worth Part 2

I recently applied for a new position at work. It was related to my current department, but still different enough to where I would be able to learn something new and keep things interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the specific software experience they were hoping for in this role, so in the end they decided to go with someone who did (external, of course).

In this case, I can understand their reasoning. It was a payroll position, and we have recently grown at an incredible rate, so they wanted someone whom they felt could jump right in and know what they are doing without needing much in the way of training. My counterargument had been that an outside person is still going to have to learn the ways of the company, its people, and all its other nuances, but in the end, that specific payroll knowledge was more important.

I can’t say I’m surprised. I pretty much realized a long time ago that this job is most likely never going to give me the chance to fly. I hate to sound like a downer there, but this isn’t the first time I’ve been overlooked, and I’ve had multiple people tell me they thought I was an underutilized resource around there. Additionally, I’ve done everything they’ve ever asked of me, as well as taken on new things on my own (been proactive), like “leadership development” projects and classes and achieving my MBA, and I still can’t seem to convince anyone to give me a chance to try something different.

I’m certainly not perfect. I have room for improvement, as we all do. For example, I don’t always interview well, and I admit it’s hard for me to toot my own horn. Realistically, that’s kind of what you have to do sometimes in order to stand out. I do know, however, that I’m able to learn anything I set my mind to, and rather quickly, so it’s a shame when people can’t see the potential resources they have right in front of their noses.

I don’t think I’m ready to move on from this company completely yet. Job security is very important to me, as I’m still working through quite a bit of debt. I don’t think I’m ready to handle the stress that can come with the uncertainty of a new job. I think when I’m able to pay off all my credit card debt and my cash flow is better, I’ll feel a little more comfortable branching out.

In preparation, I’ve spent the past few months going over some ideas I’ve had for what I might want to do next. For instance, I’ve been writing down all the things I’m passionate about in any way, and how they might transform into career opportunities, especially when paired with my current skillset. Some of them will probably remain hobbies or I might determine I don’t want to pursue them at all, and that’s okay. I think just going through this process type of process is important.

I’ve also thought about what I might be willing to pursue if I tried to get a second job for a while to supplement my income. I’ve considered a bookstore I enjoy that’s close to my current job, as well as a job with the closest minor league baseball team, in Florence, KY. I actually got that job, but a more interesting opportunity became available before I was even able to get started.

One of the passions I wrote down during my self-rediscovery process, and one of my goals for the year, was to learn more about wine, beer, and spirits. I already knew I loved these things, but I wanted to start learning more about why a beer or wine tastes a certain way and how that is achieved during the brewing process.

In January, I attended a special brunch at a brewery close to my current apartment. I never realized how close it was to me. The brewery, Fifty West Brewing Pub, had recently began canning three of their flagship beers, and the brunch was in honor of this achievement. The special menu they created for the event was delicious, and the beers were good too.

When I officially decided to go the second job route, Fifty West was one of the first place to pop into my mind. I contacted them, and was able to interview right away. They hired me on the spot, even though I hadn’t served tables about 12 years and probably didn’t come across as the most confidant interviewee!

So far, it has been the best second job choice I could have made. Financially, I make as much in three or four nights per week as I probably would have made the entire month at a bookstore or other retail establishment. It’s also just plain fun. Sure, it gets stressful at times, but everyone works really well together, and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates. Plus, what better perk is there than being able to relax with a Summer Gose while I wrap up my side work?!

Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 Goals Part 5: Find a Job That Makes Me Feel Valued and Pays Me What I’m Worth, Part 1

Wow, it’s been a month! And I’m finally ready to tackle 2018 goal #5: Find a Job That Makes Me Feel Valued and Pays Me What I’m Worth.

I’ve worked at my current job (in accounting) for almost 12 years. I started as a temp in June of 2006 – a week after I moved to Cincinnati for good (third time’s a charm!) – and was hired on “officially” in January of 2007. I work with some amazing people, and I wouldn’t trade that part for the world. I definitely enjoy certain parts of my job too, like the research related aspects; the things that keep my mind focused and engaged.

For a while now, though, I’ve been in a state where my role feels very stagnant. As an accountant, I typically perform the same functions daily, weekly, and monthly, but over the past few months, even my usual job duties have begun to dwindle. This has left me feeling underutilized and undervalued as an employee. I’ve often wondered if they have been winding down my responsibilities so they can eventually get rid of me.

Recently, I’ve been trying to be more proactive, inside and outside of work. For instance, I’ve taken part in many the “Leadership Development” options the company offers, but so far I’m not seeing any results from it (at least as far as it helping my case goes). I do enjoy the classes, so it does give me something to look forward to when I go to work, but I wish I could understand why it seems like they have lost faith in my abilities. We have annual reviews, and my reviews have always been super positive, so I genuinely don’t understand where it comes from or if it even means anything negative. I mean, maybe my perception is off and they do have something planned for me? Either way, all of this has all left me with a significant amount of self-doubt, particularly when it comes to pursuing greener pastures.

I’ve always been too hard on myself. When I do something well, I typically think, “Anyone can do this.” If myself and 100 other people are vying for the same job, we’re likely going to have similar educational backgrounds, and be team players or detail-oriented or great multi-taskers. So I find it difficult to pinpoint what sets me apart from others. This is especially true if I’m if competing for a role in an industry in which I may not have the ideal experience the company is looking for. How will my current skillset translate? What am I great at that other people may not do as well and might make your life easier? I have my MBA, but so far it has just been a glorified and expensive piece of paper.

Historically, I’ve also been the type of perfectionist that has lived by the adage, “If I can’t do this perfectly, I’d rather not do it at all.” This has made me a jack-of-all-trades, master of none type. I feel like I’m ready to branch out now; to fly, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the insecurity that often comes with a new job at a time when I really need to have a steady, stable income to tackle my debt load. I also have an unfortunate amount of debt (oh past mistakes), so presently there’s no way I would be able to take less than I do now. It makes me feel stuck.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what I want out of life with respect to my career, and how I might be able to use the experience I already have to discover my next calling. I know I need to make some proactive changes. I can’t afford, mentally or financially, to let things go on as they have been. But what to do?

People always say, “Do what you love and the rest will follow!” My struggle has usually been that I’m passionate about numerous things, but many of those things are in industries that don’t historically pay well. And I love money! Strangely, I do know accounting is probably not something I want to continue further, at least as far as pursuing my CPA, which is pretty much what you need in order to achieve executive level status these days, at least in a mid to large-sized company. Realistically, accounting was never my first choice, though. At the time I was considering it as an option, it was more of a, “What can I do in order to get out of food service, but still make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible?” I was experiencing food service burn out, and wanted to pursue something a bit more stable, but I didn’t have any interest in restaurant management at the time. Accounting seemed to fit the bill, and be a great skill to possess. It’s an industry that will always be kicking. I don’t hate it. I just long for something a bit more creative and innovative. Something I can feel really passionate about. 

Part 2 coming shortly…