Work Perks

May 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

The company I work for will be moving into a brand new building in 2017 and preparations are already underway. Our break room was recently renovated to a “concept space” of what our new building’s facilities will be like and let me tell you, these renovations are nice. Gone are the random tables and chairs and in their place are flat screen televisions, nice couches, swivel chairs with footstools and booths that you can camp out in. We also now have a “quiet room” which is a one-person space with a reclining chair that you can reserve for brief periods throughout the day. It also has the nickname of the “nap room” and I can attest to that!

Mine, all mine!

The kitchen features coffee machines full of Intelligentsia coffee and there are separate coffee machines that will brew pretty much any kind of specialty coffee you can imagine, free of charge. I’m a fan of the vanilla lattes but I’m trying to limit my consumption of those to a couple of times a week. God knows my coffee intake has drastically risen with the installation of these new machines! We also have a fancy new soda fountain that allows you to choose any Coke product and then add shots of different flavors, i.e. a raspberry Dasani water or a grape Sprite (again, free of charge). Anyone who has ever made a suicide knows how dangerous something like this can be and it’s basically every teenage boy’s soda dream come true.

They’ve also got tons of snacks and lunch options in refrigerators, taking vending machines totally to the next level. That stuff’s not free though and I’m pretty proud of how I’ve managed to stay away from all of the ice cream sandwiches and bags of chips…at least, so far. They’re really making it so  you never feel like you have to leave the office, which I think is kind of the point. If employees are totally hopped up on coffee all day long and can just run down a few flights of stairs to grab lunch, more work will surely get done. As the number of  coffee addictions will dramatically rise, but I’m sure our company doesn’t really mind that side effect!

Besides the fancy-pants kitchen, they have concept workspaces as well. Our new office will be very modern and as paperless as possible so people are testing out new sitting arrangements all over the place. They seem pretty cool and my favorite feature are the desks with the option to raise them to standing position or lower them back down for a chair – it will be so nice to stand up sometimes! I’ll feel like an actual person who isn’t chained to her desk! But I won’t get to enjoy that feature until we actually move as I wasn’t deemed a tester. Doesn’t stop me from testing all that coffee though!

As if all this wasn’t enough, they tried to entice people to come check out this new space all last week and had all kinds of additional perks to lure us in. I had a 10 minute massage last Wednesday and Thursday they served Garrett’s Popcorn so that was pretty great. There will be a happy hour Friday afternoon and it was a perfect way to kick off a long weekend!

Maybe daily Kahlua and coffee will be next? A girl employee can only hope!

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Planning It

May 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I’m a little bit of an organizational freak. I like to have every bit of information pertaining to my life and schedule that I may ever need constantly at my fingertips because I’m like a Boy Scout and I like to be prepared. This is a trait I’ve had for a while and was highlighted when my sister got into her first car wreck, which happened the morning of September 11, 2001. We thought that was going to be the craziest part of our day but boy were we mistaken. That morning on the way to school, she was involved in an unfortunate collision with a huge mailbox and she totaled her car. She was fine but the school bus driver who witnessed everything and called my mom and I (as I was about to leave for school myself) was understandably unnerved. Mom and I drove a couple of blocks to the scene and chaos ensued but I was able to calm things at least a little with my overly prepared nature. I had a planner which had the phone numbers to our school and our dad’s new office, as he started a new job that very day and this was in the age before everyone carried a cell phone. We were able to alert everyone who needed to be alerted and things regained some sense of normalcy, at least until later that morning when everything else changed for good. Anyway, the point is I like to be organized and I like to write in notebooks.

Organized chaos, my bread and butter.

For the last few years, I’ve been using handmade journals that a friend of mine creates as little mini-planners. They’re all blank on the inside and it worked well as I typically had lots of notes and things in addition to my schedule. However, lately I’ve been so busy and involved in so many projects that I had to keep track of things going on in the more distant future, so I started using a huge desk calendar at my office. Before I knew it I had four separate calendars going and I was slowly driving myself very insane. SO – I went to the magical land of Target and remedied the situation once and for all. I am now in possession of an actual, grown-up planner with monthly calendars and everything!

I may or may not have been inspired by one of my bosses, who is a super powerful woman at our company and carries around a small leather planner at all times. Mine is a bit more…retro…than hers but she’s got a good 25 years on me so I think that’s okay. Having everything I have to do in one place has given me such huge feelings of relief, cohesion, responsibility and control that I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner. I realize this may sound super-duper lame and you probably can’t appreciate a word of what I’m saying unless you’re as much of an organizational freak as I am but this simple planner has really tied my life together. Much like a rug in a really great film.

However, if I lose it I may just lose my mind. Here’s hoping my organized nature never lets that happen! Though maybe I better back all of this up in another planner just to be safe…

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May Book Club Review

May 12, 2015 at 9:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

We read another nonfiction book this month, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Like most of Krakauer’s books (i.e. Into Thin Air and Into the Wild), this ties a real-life narrative to a broader historical event. In this case he weaves the story of the Lafferty brothers, Mormon men who committed a grisly murder in the name of their religion, and the history of that religion itself. I’ve never read much about Mormonism in general let alone Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (where the polygamists come into play) so it was really…eye-opening, surprising and informative. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Do you have a minute to talk about Jesus?

Two Lafferty brothers believed they had a revelation from God that directed them to kill their sister-in-law and her infant daughter. Unfortunately for them, the law did not think the same thing and they were both eventually caught and sent to prison. Their story is creepy, tragic and a great example of how people can become religious fanatics and allow that fanaticism to change their world and the worlds of those around them. I’m not saying all religion is bad or evil – everything in moderation – but the Lafferty’s took their faith to a whole new and disturbing level.

Overall, the ladies at book club agreed that, while perhaps overly long, the book was a good and interesting read. We met at SouthBranch, a nice place with a huge patio, on what was pretty much the warmest day of the year we’ve had so far. It was so wonderful, in fact, that sitting outside was impossible. However we were able to grab a table indoors so it all worked out. We each enjoyed a couple of cocktails and for dinner I had a red quinoa veggie burger with a delicious aioli sauce along with some tater tots, because you can never go wrong with tater tots. Ever.

Until next tots, I mean time!

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Talk Derby To Me

May 5, 2015 at 7:11 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

As someone who grew up in the Louisville area, I’m familiar with the Kentucky Derby. Down there, it’s a BIG damn deal. The whole festival kicks off with an insane fireworks display/huge outdoor party and then the partying just doesn’t stop, not even after the last horse has crossed the finish line roughly a month later. People take the Derby so seriously that we never even had school on the Friday before the Derby because it’s Oaks Day, which is just another big excuse to place bets and party down. So many people would skip class to attend the festivities that they just closed the school down altogether – every year.

It’s kind of a big deal. At least in Kentuckiana.

So I know the Derby.

It was strange to move away from that area and realize most people outside of that little bubble don’t celebrate like I do – in fact, some of them don’t even know what the Derby is. For shame. Luckily, I’m still able to celebrate most years even if I am a couple of hundred miles away and this year was no different. A lovely married couple I’ve been friends with for years (also Louisville-area transplants to Chicago) host a Derby party every year and it gives me a great excuse to get dressed up and knock back a few mint juleps. This year was another great bash and I was, as usual, quite impressed with their hostessing abilities. Seriously, the snacks were delicious and perfectly displayed and their drinks were strong and tasty. I wish I could have stayed there all afternoon but alas, I had a second Derby festivity to go to and wild horses couldn’t have kept me away! (And now you probably have that song stuck in your head. You’re welcome).

My second Derby-inspired event of the day was a pub crawl benefitting the food pantry I work with. They needed someone affiliated with the pantry to give a thank you speech at the end of the day and since I was already going to be out and about wearing a fun Derby hat, I rose to the challenge. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. Not many people truly love public speaking but luckily a few of the drinks I had helped to take the edge off, though I had to walk a fine line between removing that edge and leaping well beyond it. The speech came after the end of the two minute long Derby and they had me stand on a chair to get the attention of the fully-packed bar. I also had to watch out for a ceiling fan that threatened to both remove my hat and my head but I obviously managed not to be decapitated. Anyway, I think the speech went well (at least, that’s what Scott told me) and everyone there was much drunker than I was so even if I bombed it no one would remember anyway. Plus, the pantry raised $1,300 so that’s awesome! I also got to take a picture holding one of those giant checks, which was doubly awesome. However, they wouldn’t let me carry it home on the bus. Apparently a real check will be sent to the pantry at some point because they don’t trust giant checks to slightly inebriated young women. Guess I can’t blame them for that.

All in all, a super fun Derby – and I didn’t ruin my hat so I’m prepared for next year! But no more speeches for me. I’d rather talk Derby than talk in front of huge crowds!

 

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The Good, The Bad and The Tasty

May 3, 2015 at 2:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

 

 

Um yum!

My favorite sushi place is closing.

You may wonder how a vegetarian has a favorite sushi place so let me tell you about Grand Katachi. This unassuming restaurant is between my apartment and the el so I pass it at least two times every day. Their décor featured everything from anime porcelain dolls to a pond of koi fish to a stuffed Tweety Bird in a cage, so I obviously appreciated it. They also offered a very good selection of vegetarian sushi rolls, including avocado and cream cheese and sweet potato. Plus it was a BYOB place and what’s not to like about that? Anyway, Scott and I have made this our go-to sushi place and we have had some great meals there. In fact, it’s where I had my birthday dinner just last year! We’ve brought friends and family there and, as far as I know, everyone always had a tasty time. And now they’re closing, with more no notice than a handmade sign on their door that reads “Closing, thank you for the support”. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it two days ago and went into mourning right away. However, life must move on and so must decent restaurant spaces. I walked by again last night and there’s a sign advertising the place moving in and – GUYS – it’s a Vegetarian Express!  AN ACTUAL COMPLETELY VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT WITHIN MINUTES OF MY FRONT DOOR! AND THEY DELIVER SO I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE OR PUT ON PANTS!!! I was on the phone with my mom when I passed by and I stopped to do a happy dance on the sidewalk. She thought I was having a seizure or something but my joy just could not be contained!

But this is going to be a problem. There is actually already a Vegetarian Express not terribly far away and Scott and I have been there many times as well. Their sandwiches are amazing, their guacamole is handmade right in front of you and they have a juice bar with more selections than a Starbucks. It also delivers but we’re just outside of the right radius so we’ve limited our trips to when we’re in that area. But now, with one so close? I’ll basically be moving in. And also subjecting anyone and everyone to meals in the glorious company of seitan and tofu goodness. In the event I have no takers, I’ll just have to eat all of their food myself. Luckily there are still a couple of sushi places within walking distance so I guess we’ll just have to try them out. But honestly, with the Vegetarian Express right there I may never eat anywhere else again!

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