Friday, December 25, 2009

My Soul

Merry Christmas!

Being "home" in the mountains heals my soul. I'm surrounded by family, friends, and adorable animals. I feel like I can breathe here.

My best friends know that when I'm in the mountains I have basically fallen off the face of this earth. I cannot and will not be reached by phone nor will I acknowledge the outside existence of anyone or anything. It's amazing.

And, as I've gotten in the habit of doing, I'm sitting up in my parent's kitchen blogging while an old movie is playing in the backround. (Though I am cold. I've become a pansy city girl---it's always freezing up here!)

I need to get a cute little camera so that I can snap pictures and document some of the random and fun events that go on in my life. For now, all I've got is a camera phone (which explains the horrible quality of the photos below). To go over some of the highlights from my weekend thus far:

- Drinks and breakfast with my good friend, Nick. Nick is a Navy Seal who is both a badass and lovingly sleeps with stuffed animals. I adore this man and his friendship. He is currently working on this: NSWDG.

- Happy hour dinner at Centro (I can never make happy hours because I'm always working) followed by pick-up soccer with Kyle. I didn't play, but instead had a couple drinks with D-Cubed in the closed bar.

- A group of us then went out to drinks, darts, and karaoke at one of the most ghetto bars in Boulder, The Outback. I must say that I am incredible at darts. My team won some amazing feats, beating our opponents 4 games to 3. (And by winning, I mean that my partner won. I was lucky if I hit the board.) The highlight? Karaoke at 1 am on Chistmas Eve. Classy.

The guys singing "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys

I'm too old for these 5 am nights...

Then I headed up to the mountains for my soul and salvation: Family. The highlights:

- A puzzle from hell.

It's supposed to be a bird. I agonized over the corner piece
until my eyes went numb and we still haven't finished it.

- Games: Uno, Phase 10, and Scattergories. I won Scattergories in double-overtime against Alissa. "Marilyn Monroe" (double "M's") was the golden ticket.

- Dinner: prime rib, wine, chocolate chip cookies. There were other dishes, of course, but who cares about those?

- Watching some of the best movies ever: Holiday Inn, Moonstruck, The Man From Snowy River, The Angel and the Badman. And when I say watching, I mean that the movies were just playing while we were doing other things. The fact that we can quote every line from each film, on cue, helps.
"Ma, I'm getting married."
"Do you love him?"
"Good. If you love them, they drive you crazy."
"I'm Linda Mason."
"Oh, Linda Mason."

- Animals. I love the puppies (who aren't really puppies anymore) and miss them, even with all their craziness.

Toby on his throne

Savannah (ignore my alien finger, she didn't want to "stay")

- The fact that I haven't worked out in a week. I have to say that it is amazing... and a little uncomfortable. Cookies and no running shoes are an interesting mix. But the time off is rather nice.

So now it's to the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow: Brewery Bar II! Sunday: Brunch with Christy!

I'm smiling again.

Merry Christmas! I hope that you are all enjoying a relaxing holiday surrounded by love and happiness.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Professional Friendships vs. THAT Guy

Where’s the line?

Specifically, where’s the line when it comes to your personal and professional relationships with other people? Can you make personal friends in a professional setting or should you keep the two firmly separate?

I have a good friend at my office. I helped plan her wedding and even threw her bachelorette party. The party was a damn good night!

There should be nothing wrong with friends in the workplace!!

The women at my company constantly exchange new family pictures or briefly talk about our weekends. We’re all friendly and cordial, but there is a professional line. No one is showing up at each other’s doors uninvited.

But then this happened....

Our janitor came to my indoor soccer game last night. Seriously. This man, though he owns his own company and is obviously successful, can best be described as “creepy.” While I was working late and he was cleaning up, he started asking about soccer and the next thing I knew I had told him where the indoor place was. I honestly thought that he was interested in joining a team himself or something of that sort.

Stupid on my part, I know. And naïve.

So now what? Should I be concerned that this 60-year-old creepster (who has also confessed that he wants to ask out my boss… and he’s married!) is a problem or is this just a one-time experience?

I’ve been asking around and these are the responses I’ve received:

1. It’s my fault for speaking with him about any aspect my personal life in the first place. This is obviously an untrustworthy man looking for information.
     - They’re right.

2. I should inform my boss that he came to the game, uninvited, and make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
     - But, I’m no longer playing on Tuesday nights for a while—is it worth getting my boss involved? I feel like this whole situation was preventable if I had paid more attention.

3. Make sure that I don’t work late when he’s supposed to clean (on Tuesday and Saturday nights). And, especially, don’t be here alone.
     - Yes, this all makes sense, but doesn’t it seem a little drastic? He’s not a stalker… yet.

Is all this worry and hooplah necessary? Even on my own part? It’s all creepy and slightly disconcerting, yes, but I made the mistake of giving him even the slightest amount of information. Besides, I don’t feel like his actions are specifically geared towards me. He’s just THAT guy.

Then again, maybe I should tell my boss… he does a crap-ass job of cleaning as it is.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm an Auntie, Times Two!

My brother and sister-in-law delivered a new baby boy on Sunday morning: Andrew Thomas Vlcek.

He’s premature---9 weeks early---but both Momma and baby seem to be doing very well! He weighs 4 lbs 0 oz and is 17 in tall.

From what I heard, he will be in the nursery for the next month and a half (until about his scheduled due date) but the doctors seem confident that he will do well. Fingers crossed for his speedy growth!

Unfortunately, I haven't seen the little guy as everyone needs to rest after the last few stressful days, but I do have pictures.

Andrew's first picture
 (bath time!)

Andrew and Mommy
(Amber's smiling after an early delivery
through c-section? Incredible!)

Andrew with his big sister, Ava, and Daddy
(what is Ava staring at? maybe she pondering how to
terrorize her baby brother in the near future)

Not to be left out, here's a picture of my neice, Ava:

Ava in the pumpkin patch
(the pumpkin hat makes this complete)
Now this may speak to our generation, or it may be that my family hates talking to me, but I first found out that Amber was in labor through Facebook. Yes, Facebook. Too funny.

Congratulations, Graham and Amber!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I’m trying to figure some things out. Like, you know, life...

First of all, I’m determined to have more free time. Determined. And yet, if I have too much time on my hands I get bored. Last night I went home early, blissfully read an entire book and then went to bed. And now I feel guilty for being so unproductive.

So today I’m asking myself one question:

How do you prioritize and still not worry about the small things?

Here are the things I want to focus on, in no particular order. The point is, as a matter of fact, to actually get these things in some kind of order:

- Work
Ugh. No comment.

- Soccer
I’m giving up two of my three indoor teams. Decision made. I’m doing it. I’m not playing well and I just need a break. And yes, it will be that hard to walk away, even for a season or two.

- Running
My goal is to run another half marathon this summer and even, ideally, a full marathon. To be honest, a dream of mine is to take a trip to Montana and run in the gorgeous scenery. How cool would that be?
Montana marathons
Colorado marathons
Marathon training (gulp!)

- Reading and Studying
I work in publishing, yes, but I could always improve my grammar and copyediting skills. I’d also like to seriously study for the GRE (even though I can’t afford grad school and the thought of taking on loans scares me to death).

- Yoga, Skiing, Hiking... Anything Outdoors
I can’t sit cross-legged and I’m better at water skiing than I am at snow skiing, but still. I live in the mecca of outdoor sports and I love them!

- Cooking
I’m slowly getting better at cooking as I try new recipes, but it takes time, commitment, and money.

As you can see, I love hobbies. I support hobbies. They keep you sane and stable.

So how do I find the balance again? Where do I prioritize?

Where do I even begin?


Update on “The Goal”:
I’m off target this week and it’s only Tuesday. I’m having trouble concentrating (obviously) so we'll see how things develop.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Less is More

In working under my company's CEO for the past year, I've learned something very valuable: keeping it short and sweet is oh, so very sweet. We're all busy. We're all just treading to keep our heads above water. So do a favor for everyone and stick with "less is more."

Where does this apply the most? In order:
  1. E-mails. I have to admit that my old boss wrote pages and pages of text in her e-mails. They were exhausting! Most of this could've been covered in a 5-minute phone call, but instead she took 30-plus minutes to compose this beautiful, typo-free note that no one actually read. E-mail is intended to be a quick form of communication. Anything that involves more time should be done over the phone or in person.

  2. Phone calls. It's great to build a nice conversation—talk about the weather, their life—and then move on to the point. Again, we're all busy here. With all the chit-chat it can be easy to lose track of why you called in the first place. Most importantly, be sure to keep a pen and piece of paper nearby to scratch out any details because, trust me, you won’t remember the specifics later.

  3. Meetings. Everyone hates them. 'Nuff said.

Generally, it comes down to this: If the paperwork, issue, or person is in front of you then take care of it! It doesn't help anyone or anything to set it aside and focus on it later. It'll take more time to remember what you were doing in the first place than to just handle it and move on.

I’ll need to keep these in mind through my ongoing quest for the 40-hour work week (now, "The Goal").

Update on "The Goal":

Week #1: I hit 40 hours-ish as I was in the office at 8:30 pm Thursday night. So, I obviously didn’t succeed this week. Sigh. I guess will start fresh on Monday.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I work too much.


I'm salaried and I constantly pull 10- to 12-hour days with no overtime pay. The company has also put a freeze on salary increases. I'm often burnt-out and frazzled. In short: What The Hell Am I Doing?

I need to get a grip on time management. The problems are that 1.) I usually get much more done after 6 pm when everyone is gone; 2.) My boss comes in late and works late and thus expects me to stay as well; and 3.) I honestly don't know what to do with myself if I'm home at 5 or 5:30.

I recently read an amazing guest post on Ramit Sethi's I Will Teach You To Be Rich (buy his book, by the way, it's amazing!) about how to be accomplished and successful while working an 8-hour day. It's all about time management and productivity. I'm good at my job and I enjoy what I do, but I have to admit that I need to be more focused during the time that I am there! My new goal is to get a lot done, progress within my company, and still enjoy my personal hobbies.

Maybe with a 40-hour work week I will actually have time to get through my reading list. I could run more, make time to see friends, study for the GRE, cook, sleep, and even (gasp!) relax. I have seen so few movies and tv shows that it is hard to hold a casual conversation. True story.

Work less? That shouldn't be hard, right? But it is, trust me. Society commonly defines people by their occupation and we often become emotionally invested in our jobs. Personal success and failure determined by a paycheck. Not good.

Balance is the goal. Time management is the key. And being happy—both at the job and away from it—is worth the fight.

So, this next week my goal is this: To work my a** off (as usual), but in a consistent and productive manner for 8-hours a day. And then go home. This will be hard, and it may take some time, but I think both my personal and professional lives will benefit from it.

It's gonna get interesting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Orleans Wrap-Up

I brought my camera with me to the Big Easy. I had all these amazing intentions to take pictures of the city, the conference, the food…

I didn’t take a single picture with my camera. I did take one photo with my phone (my black suit looked great).

Despite my lack of photography, the trip was good! The numbers were low—in both attendance and exhibitors—but I still think it was an otherwise successful conference.

The highlights (and lowlights):
  • Dinner at Mr. B’s Bistro. I had their pork chop—delicious.

  • The Roosevelt hotel. Gorgeous! Very ornate decorations. Except that it really bugged me when they repeatedly “refreshed” the room and switched on every light and electronic machine possible. I appreciate the service but all I could think about was how much time, money, electricity, and resources that were wasted! My room is clean, now just walk away.

  • The hotel had a gym! Running below sea level is fun.

  • I collected a number of business cards and chatted about some promising book projects… and some not-so-promising book projects. “Japanese foreign policy in Mozambique”? “Deforestation and wildlife policy in Nigeria”? Um, yikes. Very narrow. Who’s going to read that?

  • My coworkers. Had a great time gossiping with our marketing manager and it was nice to see an old colleague.

  • The French Quarter. So cute and charming! Unfortunately, we didn’t make it out of these touristy areas so I don’t think I got to see the “real” New Orleans (whatever that may be).

  • The attendees—full of life and character! We had African music outside our booth. One man wanted to buy a book so badly (at the sale price, of course) that he took our only copy and carried it around the book exhibit until the "fire sale". Heaven forbid that either 1) someone else bought the book, or 2) he had to pay full price.

  • Lowlight: the conference was poorly organized. Two-thirds of us had to sharpie our names on the name tags. Not very professional for being a “professional” conference and all.

  • Lowlight: unless we sat at the bar (where we often made good friends with the bartenders!) the service was painfully slow. I’m not sure if this is a “Big Easy” thing or what, but it’s a good thing that we weren’t ever in a rush.
Despite the downsides, it was all-in-all a good experience! It’s nice to be back in my own bed and I'm even more excited for the long weekend out of the office. (My e-mail inbox still scares me.)

More to the point, I hope that being at the meeting will help to circulate my name among our authors and even more important, potential authors. My goal is that people will realize that they can come directly to me with their questions and their book projects.

I have to admit that just getting out of town for a while was nice, but there is one thing I really took away from this conference: Don’t worry so much! Things inevitably go much better—in business and in life—when you just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Which badge looks more professional?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Conference Preparation

I have to admit: I’m both excited and surprisingly apathetic about the upcoming African Studies Association conference. There will be only a few exhibitors and I’m sure that a number of professors and students will not make the trip to New Orleans due to departmental budget cuts and the end-of-semester crunch. Despite this, I’m still looking forward to meeting a number of our authors and finally placing faces to the endless e-mails and phone calls.

On a good note, I have some great outfits picked out! And “professional” hair, of course. I’m planning to bring two suits from The Limited and some classy shirts from Banana Republic—hurrah! (Yes, some days I am still a girl when it comes to these things.) Where I’m stuck is what to wear on the casual set-up and travel days. My normal Boulder attire—jeans and an old running shirt—probably won’t cut it. This is where being raised with two older brothers is a problem. I have absolutely no fashion sense.

The thing I’m most worried about? It’s not seeing New Orleans, missing some of the sights, or even making a complete dork of myself at the conference. It’s that the hotel doesn’t have a gym! No treadmill. Anywhere. I just ran a 5k this morning and had a great run and even a new personal record—in a blizzard! So now I’m even more motivated. I want to hit another personal record in the ColderBoulder in December. Besides, running will allow me to eat everything in sight in a city known for its cuisine.

Am I becoming a Boulderite? Already? Say it ain’t so!

Anyway, back to New Orleans and the conference. My goals:

1.) Eat lots of great food and try new dishes
2.) Make a lasting impression with our authors
3.) Meet some more industry professionals
4.) See some live jazz
5.) Most importantly, stop worrying and just enjoy myself

Sounds easy enough, right? Right?


Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Being a Professional and Your Hair?

I dyed my hair today. I dyed it brown. I grew up a blonde and have been fighting to keep it light for years. But I’m attending a professional conference in two weeks and I feel like having dark hair will help me to look older and more professional. Unfortunate as it may be, young blondes aren’t exactly embraced in academia.

I never knew that hair was such a tricky subject! Some of my favorite conversations from this afternoon:

From my mom: “Was this something you'd been thinking about or was it the result of over-partying?”
My response: “Over-partying? Really? I promise that I’m not sipping vodka at my desk or even in the salon chair.”

From my sister-in-law: “The hair rules are: Going lighter- use a professional. Going darker- can be done from a box. Another reason us brunettes are so awesome. We're a cheap date.”
My response: "If that’s the case then I love being a brunette!"

From my coworker: Instead of saying, “I like it” he asked, “Do you like it?” which means that he doesn’t like it.

In any case, the point is this: How can you be a professional, stylish, young woman without going over the line? Long hair vs. short hair; blonde vs. brown; heels vs. flats; too much makeup? not enough?

Is it possible to win?

A quick google search shows that this is a very real question for women in the workplace. One of my favorite style blogs, Wardrobe 911, projects a feminine yet professional image. But clothes are expensive! $200 for a skirt or pair of slacks? Impossible for a young professional who is just trying to make rent.

My office is pretty casual, but I still try to make an effort (most days). Equally so, I look ridiculous if I overdress at work when everyone else is wearing jeans and khakis. A fine line.

Despite the hilarious one-liners from my family and friends, I’m going to have to wait and see the response from my boss and from conference attendees (authors, industry professionals, etc.).

I’m asking for respect despite my age. If the color of my hair is one step closer to that professional acknowledgment then I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Companies and Social Media

I work for an academic publisher. Academics+books = small (and somewhat irrational) fear of technology. This is not speaking for everyone, of course, but it does speak to our fearless leader and some of our most beloved authors.

A friend/coworker in our marketing department and I have been debating on whether or not our company should get involved in social media. Facebook, blogs, twitter, MySpace, etc. Is it useful? Will people actually follow us? Do we even have something to say?

This seems to be the debate for anyone considering the social media scene.

I have to admit that Facebook doesn't seem to be a very strong option (and no one uses MySpace anymore). I am commonly annoyed by "fan requests" for people or businesses. I may own a pair of Keen shoes, but not everyone has to know about it. For example, the company who prints our letterhead and business cards has a Facebook page. Cute? Yes. But their fans are probably husbands/wives and close friends. I'm just sayin'.

Twitter, however, seems a more viable option. I admit that I originally joined just to see what all the hooplah was about (see my account here). Am I following more people than are following me? Absolutely. I guess I'm not that popular. I haven't really gotten "into the conversation" of Twitter and am trying to improve that now. My good friend, however, said that she has met some genuine people through Twitter, and has even come to call them friends. My other friend got hired into her public relations job in San Francisco through Twitter. All I can say to this is, Wow! But will it have the same effect with our company?

Some big-name publishing companies that have Twitter accounts:

Some academic presses are also on Twitter. A helpful listing is here. A few presses also have blogs. Did I know about any of these twitter accounts or blogs? No. Did I have to google them? Absolutely. Something is wrong here...

Some academic press twitter accounts:

Now that many companies have a greater online presence (webpages, etc.), is social media still worthwhile? Is it worth the time put in? Maybe, maybe not. But in this process a company can learn about technology, get a couple new "fans," and, if anything, make a friend or two.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Contributions

I tried to start a blog back in July about learning how to cook. I'm not a good cook and am determined to try new recipes. However, seeing as my 8-year old camera is broken and the fact that I still never cook, that idea was a bust before it even got off the ground.

A short e-book by Charlie Hoehn, titled "The Recession-Proof Graduate" reignited my desire to blog. I work in academic publishing and am interested in all forms of media and modern communication. But I need to be more involved in the conversation! Besides, how else am I supposed to keep up-to-date when my company is still using Word Perfect? (Seriously, Word Perfect.)

So it begins. I have no idea what this blog will bring or its future direction, but that's half the fun.