Whoops… I kind of let things slip a bit over the past few days. I skipped¬†the A to Z posts for E, F, and G. (If anyone’s curious, E would have been ‘Exercise,’ F: ‘Fun,’ and G was undecided.)

Today’s topic is Hobbies. As in: I need one. And searching for jobs doesn’t count. I’ve been job searching pretty much non-stop for 3 years now – ever since the spring semester of my year in grad school. It takes up SO MUCH TIME, and I almost never hear back from anyone I send applications to. Ugh. <endrant/>

But seriously: I need a hobby. I need something with which to fill my time and keep my hands and my brain occupied. I need a way to channel the¬†creative juices that have been run dry since, oh… forever? Clearly, I’m unhappy with my job and I need to find some inspiration outside of work.

When I was younger, I took gymnastics classes. That’s probably safe to cross off the list at this age. I also took horseback riding lessons. It can get quite expensive, but that’s something I’d consider doing again. I’ve never played instruments because I’m terrible with all things musical, so that’s another no. I never really enjoyed team sports, although they’re a good way to meet new people. But most athletics aren’t high on my list. Maybe an art class?

I’m interested in learning new skills, but I’m never happy being bad at something. I need a guaranteed ‘win’ to start with, so that I don’t get scared off.

Does anyone have any hobbies that are easy to get started on, and sure-fire successes?


Adobe Photoshop Beginner Class at PVCC

This morning, instead of going to work, I headed to PVCC for a half-day-long Workforce Education class called “Adobe Photoshop for Beginners”!

I work on a team of web designers, and they use Photoshop all the time. All the good bloggers use Photoshop for photo editing and making mood boards. I wanted to learn something!

I’m certainly not an expert yet, but at least now I can say I’ve opened the program.

The first exercise was to take this rubber duck photo:


And insert him into this scene:


Like so!:


I decided that a family of ducks was better than just one, so I did 3. Plus, I added their reflections, which I put on a slant and reduced the opacity. Go ahead, marvel at my skillz!

From there, we moved into photo editing tools, which I picked up quickly, because I’ve had some experience using other programs to do similar things. I couldn’t save those files to share here because they were simply too large. But I feel pretty confident in my basic photo editing skills.

Then we moved on to layer masks, which I totally didn’t understand. I couldn’t get it to work right, and I couldn’t grasp the usage. I didn’t understand the practicality of any of it, and nothing I tried seemed to work. So that part of the class was a bit of a fail.

I’m signed up for the second part of the class, “Adobe Photoshop Intermediate,” but now I’m thinking that I might cancel. I really wanted to learn how to do cool blog things, like designing a logo or a header image, or making design mood boards, and that doesn’t seem to be what the class will cover. I’ll have to do some research on my own, I think.

Overall, though, I’m really glad I took the class, and not just because it got me out of work for half the day! I really had fun with the stuff I picked up quickly, and wish I had access to Photoshop to practice some more. (They won’t pay for a license for me at work, since nothing I do has to do with design. Sigh.)

Anyone else learning any new skills lately?

an experiment in enrichment

I’ve decided to embark upon a personal experiment to attend one local event a week. These events can be anything happening in the Charlottesville community (cultural, educational, entertaining, artistic, social, whatever). Since P has moved away and (I think) I’ve found a job that won’t take over my entire life and destroy my mental health, I need to make a concerted effort to get out of my house and engage with other human beings.

Last night I attended the “Build A Budget” workshop hosted by the UVA Credit Union. I went in hoping to gather a few tips on–get this–building a budget. I don’t think I really learned anything new, but the class did make me feel better overall about my financial situation. I was the youngest person there by a good 15 years, and most of the attendees were middle-aged women. Judging by the types of questions the other people asked and the statements that were made, I’m doing fairly well when it comes to paying down my student loan and tucking most of my money into savings after each paycheck. It made me feel like I’m off to a really strong start, financially speaking.

My goal is still to keep saving until the spring, at which time I’ll have a significant chunk of change to put down on a house. I don’t want to put all my savings down, which is why I don’t want to buy something immediately. (I’m also living for free until August, so it doesn’t make sense to throw too much money away too much earlier than that.)

Today, I got my new IRA application in the mail. I’ll be relieved once I’ve confirmed that my new account is fully functioning before I get my first paycheck on the 15th. With a 3% employer match, I don’t want to throw away even a dollar of free money courtesy of the new company!