A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White

A Soft Place to LandA Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White
Published by Touchstone

From the publisher:

For more than ten years, Naomi and Phil Harrison enjoyed a marriage of heady romance, tempered only by the needs of their children. But on a vacation alone, the couple perishes in a flight over the Grand Canyon. After the funeral, their daughters, Ruthie and Julia, are shocked by the provisions in their will…not the least of which is that they are to be separated.

Spanning nearly two decades, the sisters’ journeys take them from their familiar home in Atlanta to sophisticated bohemian San Francisco, a mountain town in Virginia, the campus of Berkeley, and lofts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As they heal from loss, search for love, and begin careers, their sisterhood, once an oasis, becomes complicated by resentment, anger, and jealousy. It seems as though the echoes of their parents’ deaths will never stop reverberating—until another shocking accident changes everything once again.

I’ve had this book on my TBR since falling in love with Susan Rebecca White’s gorgeous novel, A Place at the Table. When you love a book as much as I loved that one, it’s hard not to set exceedingly high expectations for the rest of the author’s work, which is kind of what happened here. I liked A Soft Place to Land. It was good. It was fine. It was sweet. It had emotions. It had pretty good characters. But the book didn’t come anywhere close to what I was hoping it would be.

I think the book started out problematic for me because I couldn’t buy the central premise. Basically, Naomi and Phil’s daughters are separated and raised by two different families after their parents die. The reason for this is complicated – Julia (the older daughter) has a biological father who is not Phil, so even though Naomi has full custody of her, upon her death, her will states that Julia is to live with her biological father and stepmother. And in the will, Ruthie is to live with she and Julia’s aunt and uncle. I get that Julia has to live with her biological parent, but would loving parents really put in a will that if they were to both die, their daughters – who now only have one another – be split up and have to live across the country from each other? And would the people charged with raising them after such a catastrophic event REALLY want to go along with this plan and allow the girls to be raised separately? I get it, but I don’t. There’s a point where the option to be raised together is presented, but various adults decide to be selfish and not do this, and I just couldn’t. Adults should want the best for children – this was NOT the best, and so outside the realm of what I thought was believable that I think it colored the entire book for me.

Besides all of that nonsense, I did like the book. Julia and Ruthie were believable – they each acted out in sometimes horrible ways, as grieving people do. Not only did they grieve for their parents, but their entire lives were turned upside-down because of the whole moving to different states, living with different families thing. Julia didn’t get along with her stepmother, Ruthie didn’t understand or identify with Julia’s rebellious ways, it was just a lot of these girls growing up and figuring things out, without parents and mostly without each other. I definitely feel that Susan Rebecca White can do complicated family dynamics really, REALLY well. And that she understands characters who act terrible and do awful things because of not knowing how else to react to a terrible situation.

I think the moral of the story of this review is that I liked A Soft Place to Land but had issues with it, and if I were going to recommend a book to you, I’d encourage you to pick up A Place at the Table first, as I felt that to be a far stronger novel. But I do plan to read more of the author’s books, because I really enjoy her writing and the way she develops her characters.

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Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Tiny Little ThingTiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

From the publisher:

In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.

But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

Beatriz Williams hasn’t disappointed me yet, and I can say that even though I didn’t love this novel as much as I did her previous ones. I’ve come to expect a kind of formula with her books that includes dual storylines – one “present” and one “past”, with two different main characters. Tiny Little Thing sort of has two storylines, but they are only set two years apart, and they both feature the same main character – Tiny. That being said, I liked Tiny a lot, so while I missed the historical element that most of her other books had, I didn’t mind as much because I enjoyed reading about Tiny throughout the entire book.

As always, Williams does a great job with her characters and the relationships between them. There are some really great scenes between Tiny and someone who must not be named for fear of a spoiler, some hilarious scenes between Tiny and her sister Pepper, and the dialogue around this insanely privileged, rich family is laughable but weirdly compelling (the sexism and misogyny, while annoying, is probably historically and demographically accurate). I liked the going back and forth between the two time periods, even though they were only a few years apart, because it gave some depth to this story that might have otherwise been sort of good but not great. Tiny went from a blah character to an very complex one before my eyes, and I liked that Williams kept up the dual narrative thing going with this book.

Tiny Little Thing does suffer a bit from being the second book in a trilogy – it’s not as exciting as the first book, and while I haven’t read the third yet, I’ve heard only amazing things about it – but I did enjoy it quite a bit. Even an okay book by Williams is great compared to lots of other novels, and I really loved getting to know Tiny. By the end of the book, I can truly say that I was rooting for her to find the love and happiness that I felt she deserved. Again, not my favorite Beatriz Williams of all time, but still a solid novel that I liked a lot.

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

For the second year now, Trish is hosting this super fun event called A Day in the Life – encouraging bloggers to share the details from an ordinary (or not so ordinary!) day in our lives. I totally spaced and didn’t prioritize recording one of my days this time around, but as I’m reading all the other posts it is making me SO sad that I didn’t participate this year. As I type this, it’s 5 pm on Thursday and I have a decent memory of what happened yesterday. So here is my best recollection of Wednesday, March 23rd. Times are my best guesses.

Oh and – refresher on me, I am a branch manager at a well-known financial institution. 😉

6:40 – alarm goes off. I am not a snooze person so I get up right away, drink some water, brush teeth, and get in the shower. Spend the next 30-40 minutes getting dressed, etc.

7:30 – begin drive to work. It usually takes me about 45 minutes but today’s commute is great because spring break means fewer cars on the road, and NO school buses! Throughout the drive, I think about what I want to eat for breakfast – I’ll probably go with the yogurt I have in the fridge at work – and listen to my current audiobook (Troublemaker by Leah Remini).

8:05 – arrive at work 10 minutes early due to said great commute. Wait around for second employee, when she gets there at 8:15 we go in.

8:20 – do morning pre-opening things like making coffee, getting the branch ready for the day, and other bank/money stuff that is not interesting at all. I make my coffee in the Kuerig we all share and decide that the yogurt does not sound appetizing. Luckily, one of my employees has breakfast burritos that she made and froze in the freezer and offers me one. It’s delicious!

8:50 – unlock the doors and get ready to start the day. A few more employees are here by now.

9:05 – boss shows up unannounced. This is completely fine because I enjoy my boss a lot and don’t feel that I have to prepare for his visit or act any certain way when he’s there. He goes around talking to all of my employees while I sit down with a customer who has an issue with something, and resolve said issue.

9:30ish – 11:30ish – sit down with boss and discuss banking things and come up with a plan for a few things I need to work with my team on.

11:30ish – boss leaves. I start employee lunches, and today I have a very slim staff so I’m covering for people as they take lunch. I spend the next 3 hours helping customers, in person and on the phone, and bouncing back and forth between the teller side and the customer service/banker side.

3ish – sit down to eat my own lunch, the second half of my Chipotle burrito bowl from the day before.

3:20ish – 6:10 – this part of the day is mostly a blur to me. I know we were pretty busy so I helped a lot more customers and dealt with a few issues. Also, at some point during this time another branch manager friend of mine stopped by on his way home because he had to be in the area for something else. We chatted for about 10 minutes and he left.

6:10 – lock branch doors. There are no customers left in the building so my team might actually get to leave on time today! Very excited about that.

6:20 – tellers are done with everything for the day, I let them out and they go home. The bankers and I are staying late tonight to do some phone calls. Ask me more about this if you care, otherwise it’s pretty boring.

7:05 – phone calls done, everyone gets to go home. I start driving home, thinking about what I’ll eat for dinner almost the whole way home. Hubby is working late tonight (until 1 am!) so I know I’m on my own and don’t want to make anything elaborate or that takes up too much time.

7:45ish – get home. Take the dog out, clean up cat litter boxes, unload the clean dishwasher and re-load with dirty dishes in the sink from last night. Change into yoga pants and tank top and continue thinking about what to eat.

8:00ish – pour glass of wine. Stand in front of fridge for approximately 5 minutes before settling on a frozen turkey burger I find. Scrounge up bacon, cheese, and an egg and decide to add all that stuff to my turkey burger. Can’t find any buns so I settle for regular bread.

8:00-8:30ish – while I’m making dinner and while eating, I listen to my current podcast. When I finish eating, clean up the kitchen and put dishes in dishwasher.

8:30ish – time for the dog’s nightly walk. I start the walk with my earbuds in, listening to my podcast, but I abandon that quickly when I realize it’s REALLY dark in my neighborhood and I should probably be able to hear what’s going on around me. We take a quick walk, just around two blocks and back. I’m back home about 15 minutes later.

8:45ish – head upstairs to read for a little while. I finish Night Watch by Sarah Waters and move on to The Art of Fielding. I read for about an hour, while my dog sits by my side, munching on her “cookie” (she gets a rawhide treat thing most nights).

9:45ish – 11:30ish – despite being really tired, I want to watch some TV before bed. We have a TON of shows that we record on the DVR and are always falling way, way behind. This particular night, I pick Madame Secretary. The first episode is so good that I end up watching two and at this point, I’m beyond tired.

11:30ish – not sure exactly when I turned the TV off and went to bed, but I think it was shortly before midnight.

At some point between 1 am and 2 am my husband comes home, but he is really quiet so luckily I didn’t hear him and wake up.

On nights when hubby doesn’t work late, which is most nights, we cook and eat dinner together, talking about our days, and watch one or two TV shows after. He is always the dog walker at night and I sometimes go on the walk, sometimes not. I usually read after TV/walk and he does stuff on his computer. I almost always watch TV before bed, usually while playing on facebook or instagram or some other time suck. I want to get better about what I know is a bad habit, but truthfully, I love terrible reality shows like all the Real Housewives, and right before bed is my favorite time to watch them. So I probably won’t ever stop this habit, at least not anytime soon.

So that’s it! A regular Wednesday for me. Did you record your own day? Head over to Trish’s post to read about how others spend their days!

 

Happy New Year and rules for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

Happy New Year, friends! This time of year always seems so full of hope, does it not? No matter what my year has been like, I always look to January first as a fresh start of sorts. Whether I’ve been conditioned by society to think that way or not, that’s how my brain works at this point. So I’m looking forward to 2016 with hope and excitement.

How was your holiday season? Mine was wonderful – I got to spend time with family and friends, enjoyed a TON of quality time with my nieces and nephew, and really just took time to enjoy my loved ones. I did, however, get an awful sinus infection that I’m still recovering from. And I also got stuck in Chicago for two extra days due to the horrific sleeting, snowing mess that happened on Monday. But I only had to spend one of those two days in the airport for fifteen hours. 😉 Could have been worse – could have been both days!

Anyway. I’m here to officially post my personal rules for Andi’s Read My Own Damn Books 2016.

As a sidenote, audiobooks don’t count towards any of those rules because due to a longer commute for work this year, I want to listen to more audios, and I get almost all of them from the library and currently have no unread audios that I own. So that’s separate from the challenge.

  1. For every library book read I need to read at LEAST one book from my TBR shelves.
  2. I am allowed to purchase as many books as I want for my permanent collection that I’ve already read, loved, and want to own, but every book purchased for my TBR shelves needs to be matched by either reading or culling/DNFing an existing book from the TBR shelves.
  3. I will read at least 6 chunksters from my TBR shelves this year – I’ll define chunksters as any book having 450 pages or more.
  4. I will read at least 6 books from my nonfiction TBR shelves this year.

Just four rules. I can handle that, right? RIGHT? Help me out here, guys. Anyone else planning to read your own books? What rules did you come up with to help yourself succeed?

What I’ve Been Up To and Looking Ahead to 2016

So! If you follow me on any social media, you may have noticed that my (already sporadic at best) posting has slowed WAY down these past few weeks. Since November 23rd life has been a whirlwind. We closed on our new home on the 23rd, dealt with the many miscellaneous things that come with new home ownership throughout that week, celebrated a lovely Thanksgiving that Thursday followed by a busy weekend, and moved in to our new home Monday the 30th. Two weeks of unpacking and cleaning later, and I hosted my employees (current and former – it was an amazing group) at my home for our annual work holiday party. Tonight my husband is doing the same with his employees and on Wednesday, I fly to Chicago to celebrate Christmas with my family. To add to the busy/crazy past few weeks, we still don’t have internet in our new home (long story) so I haven’t been able to get online much at all. I’m typing this while sitting in a Panera enjoying a diet coke and free wifi. 🙂

I HIGHLY doubt you’ll see any more posts from me this year. I also am unclear about whether I’ll get to review the almost 20 unreviewed books I’ve read recently. OR if I’ll get to a best books of 2015 post. Let’s face it, the end of the year is just ridiculously busy for a normal person, but when you move right at that time, forget it. All bets are off. And I’m not stressing about it.

What I AM doing is looking ahead to the new year. And now that I have a room just for me and my books (for serious, I get a library in my new home, it’s incredible), I want to fill it only with those books I absolutely love. I’m okay with having a TBR pile, or many piles, but I do eventually need to (and desperately want to!) read those books. And then decide whether they get a permanent place in my home library or whether they get donated to someone else’s library. All that being said, I’m joining Andi’s Reading My Own Damn Books challenge. What I love about this is that there are no rules – I get to make my own! I still need to take the time to decide what those rules will be. That will have to come in a future post. But for now, just know that I am reading at least some of my own damn books next year!

And you? How has the end of the year been for you? Are you giving in to the stress and pressure of the holiday season, or are you relaxing and enjoying what is to many the most wonderful time of the year? I’d say I’m about halfway between the two at this point. Once my plane lands in Chicago, I’ll definitely be closer to the enjoyment stage. 🙂

If I do disappear for the rest of the year, happy holidays to you and your families, and please take time to appreciate whatever family and friends you have. This is a tough time of year for many people (will be for my family this year) but to look around and see so many loved ones is truly a blessing. At least I think so.

 

Vacation Recommendation

So! Clearly I haven’t been around much these past two weeks. Mostly that’s because of being busy back at work, doing home stuff, you know the drill. But part of the reason I’ve been absent is because I took a real vacation! This past weekend, my best friends (from middle school – we’ve been friends for 20 years!) all got together in Long Island, New York for a girls’ weekend. I met one of my girlfriends on Thursday morning in New York City for a whirlwind touristy day (since neither of us had ever been there), we spent the night at my girlfriend’s apartment (she lives there), and the other three girls flew in Friday morning. Friday we drove to East Marion, on Long Island, and rented a house for the weekend.

There are many, MANY vineyards up there! I had no idea. We did three tours on Saturday and each place was better than the last. And the wine – amazing. The region specializes in whites (which I prefer), and we had some really delicious stuff. One Woman Wines was definitely our favorite, although we really enjoyed all three that we visited. Sunday we drove into Sag Harbor and enjoyed the cute downtown area, took tons of pics by the water, and had lunch. Evenings were spent just hanging out, playing games, cooking together, just having girl time. It was AMAZING. I don’t think I realized how stressed I had been until I had time to truly unwind and have no worries. Like, the most stressful moment of the entire weekend was figuring out how much to tip our limo driver. And the fall colors up there are breathtaking, we had perfect weather, it was just everything I could have wanted or needed. We all just keep saying how incredibly perfect the entire weekend was.

So I definitely recommend doing something like that for a relaxing vacation of your own! Even if you’re not into wine, the area is just beautiful, there are so many little towns to explore, the water is right there, and this time of year it was just gorgeous.

I’ll talk about books sometime soon, I promise!

Catching Up

So I said back in July that I would catch you guys up with what’s been going on in my life lately and then I just … didn’t. I guess I had a busy summer as it seemed to just fly by, which can be a good thing because here in Central Florida, summer is HOT and it’s best to be indoors as much as possible. Today is the first day I can feel a hint of fall in the air, so I have the windows open in my entire house as I type this, a gentle breeze wafting in. It’s delightful.

So what has been going on with me? For starters, we are moving! We are having a home built in a Meritage Home subdivision about 30 minutes from where we currently live. This house is truly our dream house, our forever home. It has everything we could possibly want in a home and I see us there for many, many years. The whole house-building thing is kind of a crazy and stressful time, so a lot of my time has been devoted to that – we had multiple design meetings, pre-construction meetings, meetings with the bank, next week we have a pre-drywall meeting – I think you get the idea. It’s incredibly fun and I’m beyond excited, but also – it’s a lot of work! So we’ve been a bit busy with that.

What else? Well, in July I spent a few days back “home” in Chicago for my nephew’s 2nd birthday. It was a quick trip, but I got lots of time with family, which was wonderful. I’m headed back there next weekend for my husband’s grandmother’s 100th birthday. Yep, 100! She’s amazingly healthy for 99, no physical health problems besides needing a walker as her balance is a little off, and intellectually she’s doing pretty great, too. There have been a few memory lapses here and there recently, but I think that’s to be expected when a person has 100 years of memories crammed inside of their brain! Obviously we’ll spend time with my family, too, and since we’re going for almost an entire week this time I’m hoping to squeeze some time in with friends as well.

And then … I’m SO excited for the weekend after we return from Chicago, because I’m headed to New York for a girls’ trip!! I couldn’t be more pumped about this – four days with the girlfriends in my life I’ve known the longest of anyone and remained friends throughout years of changing interests, different colleges, moves across the country, husbands, etc. I’ve never been to New York, so one of my friends and I are arriving a day early to do a whirlwind tour of the hot tourist stuff in NYC. The next morning, the other three arrive and we’re heading up to Upstate NY for two days of vineyard touring. It should be an amazing time and truly, I could not be more excited.

Work has been … really weird lately. Some stuff has been happening that hasn’t directly affected me, thank God, but has affected some people I really care about, and it’s been kind of hard. Sorry about the vagueness but it’s nothing I can or should share publicly. Let’s just say it’s a time of uncertainty for a lot of people and while I’ve done a decent job at keeping my team motivated and working hard every day despite what’s going on, I’d be lying if I said people aren’t feeling it. We’re all feeling the vibe and I’m just hoping things will settle down soon. It’s looking like that will be the case – I’m truly crossing my fingers that what looks hopeful becomes reality sooner than later.

Let’s talk about reading, shall we? I was doing pretty okay for a while there, reading a few good books in a row, and now I just can’t get into a book to save my life. I’ve started and abandoned three books this week, and I’m currently reading nothing in print. I just can’t get into anything. I need to pick up something that will just sweep me up, right from page 1. Hopefully I find something soon. I decided to listen to the audio of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please as a sort of comfort listen – I read the print last year – and it’s totally working. I LOVE this book on audio, and it puts me in a good mood each day as I listen while driving to and from work.

And writing? Writing is going even worse than reading. I have zero motivation to write about any of the books I’ve read recently. Zero. I’d love to change that but I’m just not sure if/when it will happen.

So that’s what’s been going on with me! What has been going on in your neck of the woods?

Where I’ve been in May (and holy crap it’s basically mid-June already?!)

Whew, haven’t checked in here for quite some time. May was busy and stressful for a few reasons, and it appears that so far June has been much the same way, which is why you haven’t seen me too much around here.

For starters, my grandmother passed away mid-May. She had been sick with dementia for many years and my father and stepmother had been taking care of her for the past two or three of those years. She ended up getting up in the middle of the night unassisted, falling, and needing surgery on her hip. Due to her age (90) and overall health, she never fully came out of surgery in any way that would suggest she could go on to live a normal life (unresponsive, open eyes and that’s it, etc.). My father had to make the extremely difficult decision to put her on hospice care, and she passed away after I think it was eight or nine days at the hospice facility.

Needless to say, it was an incredibly difficult time for my family. There are many issues within my father’s family and the level of drama and ugliness that occurred during this time was just really difficult for everyone to handle, myself included. I did travel home to Chicago a few days after she passed, and even with the difficulties within the family, I was able to see everyone I wanted to spend time with while there. The bonus was that although I had to travel for a shitty reason, I got to see my nieces and nephew on what I considered an “extra” occasion. I don’t know. It was hard and emotional and nothing about the time I was there was “fun” exactly but I was also so incredibly grateful to have that additional time with family. Does that make sense?

Anyway, the rest of May was busy too. We took my mother-in-law and hubby’s grandmother out for Mother’s day, which was really nice but also a long day – driving to Tampa and back from Orlando pretty much eats up an entire day. Work was basically a juggling act between myself and my assistant manager with taking time off – me for Chicago and her because she got some surprise news about her own family, and had to make a spur-of-the-moment trip out of the country the day after I got back from my trip. Lots of changes have been happening at work, too, which just leads to everyone feeling this undercurrent of stress that never really goes away and has been leaving me with an unsettled feeling for several months now. (Nothing bad, just things are changing. It’s different for us, and stuff we just need to grow up about and get used to.)

Let’s see, what else? June 4th was my 8-year anniversary being married to the best husband ever. He so very sweetly drove to my work and brought me flowers and a card in the middle of the day, and we celebrated the following Saturday with dinner at a nice steakhouse here in town (I had the most delicious sea bass EVER). Also, a friend who moved to New York about a year ago was visiting for the weekend and was at a bar very near where we had dinner that night, so we got to stop by and see him for a couple of hours before our dinner. That was a nice surprise.

This week has been full of stuff, too. Monday I had dinner with girlfriends, Tuesday I had dinner with other girlfriends, Wednesday after work was a chill staying at home night, and Thursday I had a five-hour doctor visit that I had to take off work to do (stress test, so not fun) and then a going away party for a co-worker who is moving to Seattle at night. Today I have a full day of work and book club at night. Saturday we’re going to Lakeridge Winery for the day for their Harvest Festival – something I’ve never been to but am excited to check out – and to Universal Studios at night for a concert (Huey Lewis and the News). Sunday my plan is to do NOTHING besides lay by the pool, read, and maybe throw a load of laundry in. Maybe.

I’ve been reading but not really writing. I’m reading Misery for #MiseryRAL and am already pretty creeped out. I just finished Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler, a memoir by a Viennese hatmaker who escaped Vienna when the Nazis took over (recommended to me by one of my employees, and I liked it a lot), and am working my way through Americanah too (so good!). I just picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up from the library along with a few others and am looking forward to diving into those soon. If I could just get my butt in gear to write reviews. I sense a bunch of mini-reviews coming your way soon. 🙂

Whew! Well I think that about catches things up. I’m looking forward to a more calm and happier June than what May ended up to be, and mid-July I have another trip planned to Chicago, this time for my nephew’s 2nd birthday.

I hope things are going well in your neck of the woods! I haven’t been reading blogs as much as I should be, so please tell me if I’ve missed anything important!

Checking In

I don’t see myself writing any reviews this week so I figured I’d check in and tell you why! My mom and aunt visited me from Thursday of last week to today – just dropped them off at the airport, *tear* – and the three of us have been enjoying every minute of one another’s company for the six days they were here. We had a GREAT time. Besides the time we spent at the pool, enjoying the sun, cooking delicious food, talking about anything and everything, playing games, drinking wine, kayaking with manatees, and visiting some local spots we enjoy, we spent three days at the beach! Last year we did Daytona Beach for a few days and this year I got a small condo just up the road from there in Ormond Beach. Not far at all from touristy Daytona, but far enough that it was just a little more peaceful, and basically perfect. We really enjoyed our time there, and if you are ever in the area, PLEASE eat at Hull’s Seafood Kitchen – almost everything they serve is locally caught, a lot of times on their own boats, and it’s extremely affordable, not at all fussy, and just delicious. So, so good.

I go back to work tomorrow, and I’m frantically trying to get stuff done this afternoon. Laundry is high on my list as well as a few other little things, but I did want to stop by and say hi, tell you all that I’m around somewhere, and I’ll be back to writing reviews hopefully next week! I have a few books I want to talk about and a few others that were just okay, so you’ll hear about all of them eventually. Until then, I hope you are enjoying your week!

A Day in the Life

TDay in the Life Eventoday I am participating in A Day in the Life, hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity! Many of you know what I do for a living, but if you don’t – I work at a bank as a branch manager. I can’t say on social media what bank I work for, but if you are curious feel free to send me an email and ask. 🙂 Honestly, I feel that, although every day at my job is different from the day before, for those not in banking, what I do is kind of boring. But what do I know, maybe you’re super curious about what a branch manager does all day long? Either way, this is what Tuesday, March 24th looked like for me.

6:13 – Wake up without an alarm. My body is programmed to wake up between 6 – 6:20 every day because I have to wake at this time at least four days a week to get to work by 7:30. But today was not one of those days, so I went back to sleep.

7:40 – Wake up again, this time using my alarm. Lounge around for a few minutes (I have a bad habit of checking Facebook first thing in the morning) and then get in the shower and get ready for work. Get dressed, put on make-up, dry hair, etc.

8:25 – Leave the house and head to work. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook on the way to work, sometimes I listen to music instead. This particular morning I was listening to Florence & The Machine on Spotify. Throughout this drive all I could think about was that I had no breakfast at work so I would have to stop and get something. Ponder what I want pretty much the entire drive.

8:52 – Decide to be good and go to the grocery store to buy yogurt for breakfasts for the week. Get to the store, grab five yogurts to stick in the fridge at work, and get a cup of coffee from the grocery store.

9:04 – Pull into the parking lot at work.

9:00 – Spend about an hour catching up with my assistant manager after I was out of the office for the weekend prior. We discussed a few customer issues and employee issues that came up in the three days (Fri-Mon) I was gone. Also discovered during this time that our customer service scores dropped dramatically over the weekend so I freak out a little, then quickly get my shit together and come up with a plan to improve them with my assistant manager. We discuss how we’re going to make sure the entire branch is adhering to said plan.

10:00 – Sit down with a branch manager trainee that I’m currently training at my branch. Discussed a few questions that he had about stuff that happened in the branch over the weekend and how I would have handled the situations.

10:15 – Sit down with my private banker (she is the banker for my most affluent clients) and discussed a few customer issues she’s been working on, as well as reviewed her calendar for the upcoming week. We’re finishing up our conversation when we get interrupted by a client, so I exit her office to allow her to help the client.

10:40 – Sit down with another one of my bankers who is struggling this month with her performance. We talked through some obstacles she’s facing and started talking about what I need to do to help her succeed when we got interrupted with a customer about seven minutes in. Once she finished with that customer, we went back to our discussion.

11:00 – Customer called asking for the manager, I got on the phone and helped resolve the customer’s issue.

11:20 – Another one of my bankers comes to me with a complicated customer issue. I helped him figure out what to do and how to explain the solution to the customer.

11:40 – My private banker finishes up an appointment with a potential client so I spend some time debriefing the appointment with her and discussing her follow-up plan with the client and reviewing date/time of her next appointment.

11:45 – I hadn’t even opened my email yet and since I was out of the office for a few days I have about forty unread emails. I quickly start catching up on these.

12:00 – The customer that I referred to at 11:20 comes back, now he’s requesting to speak with me, I spend about twenty minutes helping him and trying to solve the issue, he eventually has to leave and says he’ll be back in the afternoon.

Between 12:30 and 2 I kind of lost track of my record-keeping. I know I helped several customers, took a few phone calls, and worked on a few more of those unread emails from the weekend.

2:00 – I head out for lunch. I first have to stop at the store to buy a birthday card for my sister-in-law, mail the card, and then run to Chipotle for a salad. I’m trying to eat a little better so I make sure not to get any dressing, sour cream, or guacamole on my salad (even though I REALLY want the sour cream). I bring the salad back to the branch and eat quickly in the break room. Sometimes I read a book during lunch but on this particular day I read the news on my phone.

3:00 – Back from lunch. My assistant manager and I talk with our tellers about how to improve our customer service scores. We talk through specific things that we need to see them doing with every single customer such as smiling, greeting them right away, and engaging in conversation. She and I then discuss a few housekeeping operational things we need to take care of before she leaves for vacation the following afternoon, then we take the time to do said tasks.

5:00 – My assistant manager and two tellers leave for the day, so I join the one remaining teller to help him for the last hour of the day. It’s at this exact time that the gentleman from earlier with the issue came back, as he had promised. I spent some more time talking with him and attempting to resolve the issue but we didn’t get very far before I had to run back to my teller and help him with something. The customer was satisfied with the help my banker provided since I wasn’t too available to help. For the next hour, I help customers as a teller.

6:10 – Lock the branch doors! Done for the day! 🙂

At this point I usually go straight home and start cooking dinner; however, on this particular day we were having a branch dinner, something we do about once per quarter, usually to celebrate something. This dinner was at Longhorn, so after leaving the branch at about 6:30, I headed to dinner. I have an awesome branch team and we actually like spending time together outside of work. So it was a fun and delicious meal with great people.

8:45 – Leave the restaurant and drive home.

9:15 – Pull into the garage. Spend about a half hour catching up with hubby about our days. He’s watching a TV show that I don’t watch so when we’re done talking I pour myself a glass of wine and head upstairs so he can finish his show. I plan on reading, but by the time I get changed into PJs, wash my face, and all that fun stuff it’s past 10 pm and I’m exhausted. I turn on the TV instead and end up watching The Challenge finale on MTV (horrible, I know).

Sometime around 11 pm I turn off the TV and go to sleep. The end!