Must Love Dogs

When I moved to Rockville a few months ago, it was under the condition that I could find a part-time job.  I’d applied to retail positions around my parents’ house in Culpeper, VA, but the only response I got was from Starbucks.  That was not due to my excellent barista skillz either (though that would make for a fun post of its own).  My parents are very animated characters, the type that make friends wherever they go.  My dad likes to consider himself a “Culpeper local,” and all the area coffeehouses know him by name and drink order.  Anyway, he got me to the interview stage at the Culpeper Starbucks (there is only one), but I was hesitant to jump into a minimum wage job.

I chuckled to myself when I saw the numerous dog walking positions posted on Craigslist.  I imagined every movie scene with a frazzled 20-something woman holding the leashes of multiple dogs running down the streets of a never-asleep city.  This usually was the set-up for a “what am I doing with my life?” story line that ends with our heroine getting some fancy pants corporate position, reconnecting with her family, and haphazardly meeting the rich man of her dreams.

I’m pretty much set on the last two goals, but I sure could use that first plot twist right about now. So I contacted a local pet sitting company, filled out some paperwork, met with the clients, and now I have keys to their houses!  The latter part is still a little strange to my paranoid brain.  During my initial interview, my supervisor asked me what concerns I would have if I were hiring a dog walker.  I told him that other than them stealing my things, I’d be worried they’d be a weirdo and steal my dog.  I guess that would be filed under “irrational fears” and “answers he doesn’t hear often,” but I still got the job.

Right now I’m walking three dogs: Tigger (yellow lab), Buddy (cocker spaniel), and Charlie (beagle).  I used to walk Bert (rottweiler/Bernese mix) and soon I’ll be walking two sibling Boston terriers.  It’s a fun gig and great for my ego too–all the dogs are always excited to see me.  Tigger can be a little hard to handle when he gets excited, and when I walked him and Bert at the same time, I looked just like the movie dog-walker, flying down the sidewalks with my hair and jacket all askew.  Buddy tries to eat everything he sees on his walks, and I mean everything.  Around Halloween he found plenty of candy, and yesterday he tried to eat a stick whole, but my favorite was the time he found a dead bird and carried its bones in his mouth for the entire walk (that was a gross discovery towards the end).  Poor Charlie is a beagle rescue and super shy around new people, but his mom was happy to see him take to me very quickly.  Our walks usually consist of me coaxing him out into the world for 20 minutes, then sitting on the couch and looking out the window with his cat sibling.

Tigger and Bert
Charlie and Benny

I’ve uploaded pictures without the dogs’ faces to maintain their anonymity. 😉

In addition to dog walking, I’m also a nanny to two teenage girls.  They require less walking, but need more help with homework than my canine companions….

The Job Search, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and…Just Kidding, I’m Worried

It’s official: I have completed my M.S. in atmospheric science. Now, as a bona fide degree-carrying scientist, I should have my laboratory of beakers and tornado simulators set up, right? I wish. The job market is rough for everyone right now, and I know I’ve made more than a few people nervous about the economy by telling them that I’ve applied for 200-300 positions with little response.

I’m trying to remain realistic, of course. Now that I’ve moved to the D.C. area to be with my groom, I’m geographically limiting myself to a region not know for its extensive tornado research. Also, let’s be honest, I left the PhD program at Purdue because I’m not sure my heart is in research right now.

So what am I doing? As I wade through the classifieds of Craigslist, USAJobs, and various job search engines every day, I seem to hone in on certain career categories. College and grad school really pulled me away from the joys of leisurely reading and writing; if I had time to read and write for fun, why wasn’t I doing my research?

I’d like to describe my ideal job posting:

Science Writer Wanted
– Experienced writer wanted to facilitate communication between [Sciencey Company] and the general public. Responsibilities will include promotion of [SCIENCE] through social media, weekly blog posts, as well as drafting of official correspondence and press releases. Occasional international travel required. Telecommute potential.

Alternately, I’d be willing to try the freelance route of providing [SCIENCE] articles to various media outlets if I could be assured those opportunities wouldn’t dry up. We are trying to save up for a honeymoon and a house, here. Also, I do need some level of routine for my sanity.

In the meantime, I want to keep my mental muscles flexed by using this blog more regularly. You can consider this my primary website now, as the After the Chase blog is no longer relevant (and has been collecting cobwebs for some time now anyway).