A Year in Review

photo courtesy of junussyndicate on deviantART
photo courtesy of junussyndicate on deviantART

Rather than focus on all the things I’d like to change for myself in the coming year (there are many), when the New Year comes around, I like to take the time to look back at what I’ve accomplished in the year prior.

Last year, I had a lot of things to look back on and be proud of. This year’s achievements have been a bit more difficult to quantify than last year’s, but no less significant.

Without further ado, my 2013 accomplishments:

* Watched my Uncles get married at the stroke of midnight last New Years

* Started sharing a home with my handsome boyfriend

* Ran a 5 mile race (after 2 weeks of being sick) and still completed it without walking

* Ran a 5k in under 30 minutes–a PR for me!

* Finally finally got a job in my field!

* Went to my first music festival

and last but not least:

* Really got this blog off the ground. Here’s an excerpt from my 2013 WordPress Blog Report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 45,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Last year, I made it my goal to focus on this blog. I was unhappy in my secretary job, and I decided that channeling my ambitions, creativity, and frustration into this blog would be the best use of my time.

And I was right! After 8 months of serious blogging, networking, and hard work, I was able to use the experience I’d gained to get a job in Marketing and PR. That new job has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions, anxiety, and growth, but it’s been worth it.

As I move forward this year, my goal is to continue to make time for this blog as I grow and learn in my new job.

What did you guys accomplish this year? What do you plan on accomplishing in 2014?

My Geek Origin Story

This is how my family rides Disney's Tower of Terror
The Williams clan does the Tower of Terror. How does YOUR family ride rides?

Geeks, particularly superhero and comic book geeks, have a love affair with origin stories. How did the hero become the hero? What prompted her to start her never-ending fight for justice?

Since I am the protagonist of own tale, and since Father’s day is coming up, I’d like to share my personal Geek Origin story. It starts with my parents, Pam and Bruce.

Here they are, being naturally awesome, which is their usual state of being.

Left: Mom and Dad posing at comic con in 2011  Top: The whole family together at my Uncles' wedding Bottom: My mom fends of a zombies at  the Chicago Wizard Con, 2012
Left: Mom and Dad posing at comic con in 2011 Top: The whole family together at my Uncles’ wedding Bottom: My mom fends off a zombie at the Chicago Wizard Con, 2012

They are high school sweethearts who married at the ages of 20 and 21, respectively. I was soon to follow. While pregnant with me, my mom spent a lot of time watching Thunder Cats. (She likes to refer to herself as a “Thunder Cats Ho”). I’m confident that her cartoon-watching affected my gestation in a postive manner. Read more

Budgeting Like a Badass

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If you’ve read my blog a few times, you might know that I work as a secretary. Not a corporate secretary or an executive assistant–nothing fancy like that. I’m just a plain, vanilla secretary (with an incendiary dash of peanutbutter cup tossed in, but that comes from my winning personality!).

As you might suspect, secretaries are not, on the whole, highly paid. I am fortunate in that I get an awesome, incredible benefits package from my job, and I also receive overtime pay. In any event, I thought I would put a breakdown on how I currently manage my finances, in case people were interested.

Things that are important in my personal budgeting manifesto:

  • I pay my credit card off in full EVERY MONTH. I have 0 credit card debt.
  • All of my monthly expenses (except rent) are paid automatically from my checking account
  • The small amount of money I put in savings each month is also taken out automatically
  • I actually pay $60 extra on my car loan each month, so I can have it paid down in 3 years, as opposed to 4
  • If you’re not 100% certain of an expense, always round UP
  • If you’re not 100% certain how much money you have, always round DOWN

Budget Breakdown

If I include my overtime pay, I make just shy of $2000 a month. However, for the sake of this budget plan (and any buget plan you might want to make) it’s best not to include overtime pay. I’m using my lowest pay stub from 2013, rounded down slightly. Just concentrate on the bare bones, and anything you have leftover at the end is yours to play with in whatever way you see fit.

My monthly take home pay (not including OT): 1750

Whenever you’re budgeting for anything, look first at your fixed expenses. These are the things that will be the same month after month, and will under no circumstances change in cost. I’ve rounded up on a few of them to make it simpler. Here are my fixed expenses:

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Read more

My Very Own Pinterest Fail

Sometimes my zeal to replicate a craft or recipe that I’ve pinned ends in disaster. Of course, I’m not alone in my Pinterest fails, and many websites exist soley to showcase the hilarious mess-ups of over-confident pinners like myself.

Last night, I was struck with a bolt of brilliance. I was going to make myself baked mozzarella cheese sticks. I had pinned the picture and recipe, and the pin looked like this:

string cheese chopped into bite size pieces, dipped in milk and bread crumbs, baked at 425 for 8-10 minutes- serve with marinara sauce! Delish!
string cheese chopped into bite size pieces, dipped in milk and bread crumbs, baked at 425 for 8-10 minutes- serve with marinara sauce! Delish!

Simple enough, right? How could I possibly mess that up?

I had Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs in my pantry and I had Jalapeño string cheese in my fridge, so the cheese sticks would have a nice little kick to them. So I preheated the oven to 425 and got to coating my cheese sticks in breadcrumbs.

Here they are on the pan. I popped them in the oven and set my timer for 8 minutes. To pass the time, I started washing dishes. When I checked my mini cheese sticks at 5 minutes, they looked perfectly normal.

However, when the timer beeped at 8 minutes, they looked like this:

cheesestickfail2

Ummmm. Not quite what I’d had in mind. The great thing about cheese though, is that it’s safe to eat when it’s uncooked, so even when it’s all messed up and melted, it’s edible. And, as it turned out, delicious! (Although not particularly pretty).

So here you are, in true Pinterest Fail fashion….

pinterestfail2

On Job Shame, Failure, and Not Having It All Together Yet

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Since I currently live in my hometown, I run the risk of encountering people I went to high school with on a near-daily basis (if I bother to venture out of my apartment). Even though my graduating class was pretty big, I’m not chummy with many of my peers that chose to stick around town. Still, inevitably, I will run into someone who wants to chat, and they ask that dreaded question: “So, what do you do now?”

And my insides curdle every time I have to answer: “I’m a secretary.”

Now, I’m aware that I’ve accomplished a lot in the last two years. Living in Costa Rica, working as a writer, moving back home, and becoming financially independent again in just a few months–those are all big accomplishments. And I’m also not trying to diss the secretaries of the world. I’m one of them, and we do a pretty thankless job for a pretty small payout.

But–BUT–the people from high school all knew me back before the economy shit on all of our hopes and dreams and bank accounts. They remember me rocking all of the Honors English tests and talking about writing the Next Great American Novel. But I’m not writing a novel. I’m not even sure that I want to anymore. And I also don’t have a yacht, nor do I live in the city like I always planned. I never wanted to stay in my hometown, but right now I’m kind of stuck here. It blows, and most of my fellow townies are probably in similar situations, feeling the same feelings.

We don’t talk about that though. I never see aquaintances from school and ask “How has the economy screwed you over?” or “What soul-sucking job are you working while you fruitlessly pursue your passion on the side?”

On the exterior, it’s all pleasantries and smiles and “How are you”s, but underneath, we all know this is what’s happening:

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High School Girl: Kaitlin! Hi! How have you been?

Me: Oh, you know…just working, life. Are you living here in town?

High School Girl: No, I’m just visiting my parents. I live in [Awesome Place] now, working as a [Really Cool Professional Thing]. What are you doing? Read more

How I Unknowingly Killed a Spider That Might Be One of the Deadliest in the World

So I was enjoying myself, writing a silly little Pokemon-themed post about Ezra, my brave little ninja kitty, killing a small cockroach for me. I was sitting on my bed when out of the corner of my eye I saw Ezra on the floor chasing something else. Something BIG.

I screamed.

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Sure, that spider doesn't look too big...until I mention that the water bottle next to it is a 2 liter water bottle

It was the absolute BIGGEST SPIDER I have EVER seen in my entire life. It was huge; even compared to Ezra it looked formidable. It dawdled on spindly legs beneath my bed, with Ezra following it, fascinated and curious. Without thinking, I lunged and yanked a thrashing, kicking Ezra out from under my bed before she could get to close to it. If there’s one thing life in Costa Rica teaches you, it’s that you should never assume something isn’t poisonous, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let my baby kitty eat a gigantic spider.

I tossed Ezra out of the room, slammed the door, and stood panicking at the end of my bed. My primary thought was that the spider had crawled into the space between my headboard and mattress, but on closer observation, I noted that it had hidden up against where the floor meets the wall. I pulled my bed as far away from the wall as space would allow (while still leaving enough room for me to open the bedroom door and escape if disaster occurred), and stood staring at the thing. I could see its pincers snapping. My skin erupted in gooseflesh and involuntary shudder wracked my body. Read more

Failure to Launder

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great at housework, and I know my mom agrees. While I’ve always gotten along great with my parents, my childhood memories are punctuated with moments when my mom’s head practically exploded because she discovered the mess I’d been hiding in my room. Now that I live alone, I make my own messes and I do my best to clean them. Still, I find it extremely hard to keep up with all the daily maintenance. I tend to let things just get messier and messier until I can psyche myself up enough to spend the day belting out Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and practicing dance moves to Lady Gaga’s Judas while I mop begrudgingly.

Today’s laundry… >.< *facepalm*

However, there’s one chore in particular that I absolutely cannot stand, and I’ve       never been able to fathom why.

Laundry.

I hate doing laundry. Which I know is really ridiculous, because it takes all of 5 minutes to separate your clothes out and throw them in the washer with a cap-full of soap. I will literally do ANY chore to get out of doing laundry. Read more

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop

start-here-signThis is truly the beginning of something…interesting. Zombies for Breakfast (and Other Curiosities) is my bloggy little brainchild and I’m happy to be smashing the proverbial champagne bottle on this post.

Really, I’m looking forward to dumping all my silliness and day to day strangeness into one outlet, where I can sort it out via categories. If you’re actually considering following my blog (and I dare say you should. I’m awesome), there are some things you can expect to read about:

~My day to day life in Costa Rica

~Zombies

~My random obsessions

~Correct grammar (when it suits my needs), but more often than not, made up words

~My cat (Be Warned: I am a cat lady)

~Awesome nerdy stuff that I lovevaporeon-pokemon-card-rare

~Fun girly stuff

~Cthulhu

~Books and literature (The post title is a quote from Alice in Wonderland, by the way)

~Occasional health and yoga stuff

So if that sounds like something you can really get on board with, then come join me at the uncool kids’ table and maybe we can swap Pokemon cards (do you have any rare Vaporeons?).