My Mom, Your Mom

SCL's mother came to visit for the day yesterday. Too bad the weather was horrible, but she was a good sport about it. We went into the city for a few hours to visit some museums, an activity I always think will be more fun than it actually is. The Mall was ridiculously crowded (on a Saturday afternoon? Shocking!), but we visited some of the smaller buildings which were substantially less populated--and with good reason. They had very little inside them! That was perfectly fine with me because all I could think about was going home, putting on pajama pants, and eating lots of Milk Duds while watching Gossip Girl. Hosting on the weekend is challenging after a long week. And even though SCL's mom said, "Oh, don't worry about entertaining me," she did come to see us, so we couldn't very well leave her in our tiny apartment while we went on our merry way.

It's hard adjusting to another mothering style. SCL is an only child. I'm the youngest of three and the only girl. That alone constitutes substantial differences in parenting. By the time my mom had me, she basically had the whole parenting thing down to a science, and while she may try to give advice to my oldest brother, she rarely does so with me. I think she has figured out that motherly advice is usually not welcomed with open arms, even when it's asked for by a struggling child. Let's just say SCL's mom is not quite there yet. *grin*

Being a future daughter-in-law isn't easy. It's hard to just nod and agree when I definitely disagree, and I'm not particularly good at lying, even if just to put another person's mind at ease. I worry about how this will play out along the road: when we get married, when we buy a house, when we decide we'd like to have kids. When it is okay to say, "Thanks, but we've got it all taken care of"?

"When I Was Your Age" and Other Reflections on "Supervising" An Intern

One thing I think many of us can agree on is that we sure do like to glamorize our earlier days, don't we? I'd like to think that in my first internship, I was fired up, ready to go, sharp as a knife, and absorbent like a sponge (in terms of learning things, duh). I picture myself a spunky, energetic, and dependable worker, happy to take on mass mailings and other menial tasks. Even just writing that makes me realize how ridiculous that is.

Let's face it. Being an intern is hard. Working for a cool organization, or at least one with a cool reputation, while doing stuff like mailings and answering phones is not very fun. You're the bottom of the totem pole. But until today I never really realized just how important they are. Today I began working with a new intern who is (wait for it) taking on some of my work! That's right; I'm able to ask someone else to help me! At work!

There is, of course, a downside to this wonderful thing called interns. Most of them have never worked in an office, or if they did, they don't remember much from it. All you have to do is say the words "mail merge" and you'll be looking at one scared intern. And believe me, nothing is more painful than walking through the process of mail merge with another human being. Damn, I hate just doing it myself, but having to go step-by-step through it multiple times? It's like a slow and painful death.

But, here is a great opportunity for me to learn some things about how to manage another person, how to be a good resource, and most importantly, how to be patient with a young person making her way in the world.

My computer broke :-(

After installing an update on my beloved 4-year-old PowerBook, it didn't want to start up again. Thankfully, I have a computer genius for a boyfriend who put it back together. Hurray once again for SCL! It did get me thinking, "Crap, I don't want to have to buy a new computer." And then I began to realize all of the things I feel I "need" my computer for and how conditioned I am to go check email, read blogs, look at the weather, throughout the day. It's really quite sad. I don't like feeling dependent on it.

Needless to say, the combination of computer brokenness and work craziness, my blogging has been sporadic at best these last few weeks. Thanks for your patience, peeps!

Hospitality

Shoot, y'all. That was one helluva week! I cannot even tell you how very happy I am that it's the weekend.

As much as I would've liked to have had a quiet night, SCL and I had company (the most polite, warm, and gracious company) over. One of my favorite things about living in DC is being able to offer up our place to friends who come through for conferences, meetings, etc. I'll be honest; yesterday I was way too tired to be thrilled about a night of hosting, but as the night went on, I realized that one of the best parts about being grown-up and having our own place is sharing it with cool people.

Again, I have to give SCL his propos. He was an awesome partner and gracious co-host! Honestly, he did most of the cooking, cleaning up, and even some nerdy computer techie stuff today before our guest left for the airport this morning. The whole time I was thinking, "Wow, I have a great significant other. He's so kind and welcoming to my friends." I never thought about it much before, but having your S.O. treat your loved ones well is a way for them to show you love.

It was kind of fun to treat my friend to a worry-free night. She'd had a long week and had been staying at hotels for the last few nights. Not being from a big city, she had been super-stressed about navigating DC, so I took her to and from the Metro personally. We made our self-proclaimed famous pizza-- veggie-only for her--and she was so grateful! I had forgotten how fun hospitality can be.

I didn't grow up in a house where people were very welcome. I had the occasional sleep over, but we never had dinner parties or guests over often, probably because my parents were too busy. Also my dad is a weirdo (a subject for another time). I was never shown what it means to be a hostess and invite people into my home, so it's definitely a learning experience. But my hope is that SCL and I will always have a home where friends are invited, welcomed, and shown love.

Is This Real Life?

With SCL in his second week of class and me entering my third month of work, the speed of daily life is rapidly escalating. Only one night this week did I get home before 8:00, which happened to be the evening SCL had class until late. Most of the time I've been getting home closer to 9:00. It's exhausting for me to be out that late and frustrating to have little energy and time to give to our relationship when I do get home. We still haven't made it to the grocery store (minus a small trip SCL made yesterday). Life feels all out of whack at the moment, and we've got quite a weekend ahead of us: hosting a friend this evening, Rosh Hoshanah dinner tomorrow, and I've got a brunch on Sunday.

*yawn* I'm ready to go home, yo.

In some ways, this is how I like to be: busy, involved, and on the move. The other times I've been like this, though, I was single. If I got home at 10, ate some ice cream, and went straight to bed, it didn't bother anyone. But now it feels like I'm cheating myself, SCL, and our relationship when I get home too exhausted to really even talk.

I guess this is how real life is. I would love to be able to divvy up my time equally, but as a wise person told me a few years back, this is just ridiculous and impractical. I have to remember that just because this week was so crazy doesn't mean next week will be, much less "forever." There's an ebb and flow to being busy. Some weeks I can handle it better, others I can't. And I need to quit putting so much damn pressure on myself to do things perfectly or by the book. SCL isn't expecting me to be, so why should I expect it of myself?

Perfectionism, and thus the fear of screwing up, is the biggest oppressor. Time to get this monkey off my back.

Monday's Post, A Day Late

We got back from Wedding Land late-ish on Sunday night (aka 9:30, a mere half hour before I usually fall asleep.) I did the best I could to unpack and put things away, but after sitting in a car all afternoon, I didn't feel like thinking about the week ahead or going back to work. I realized how dependent I am on the weekend to refresh and reorganize, and without it I'm feeling a little out of sorts. We haven't been grocery shopping, we haven't done any kind of cleaning other than some laundry, and we're expecting a house guest on Friday night. I'm also way overly scheduled this week, albeit all fun stuff I want to do, but it's not quite as fun when I'm tired and cranky.

Next time we go out town, I'm hoping we/I can improve things a bit by doing some of the following:

1. Go grocery shopping for the following week ahead of time. We had Friday evening and some of Saturday, but we were more planning for the weekend than what we had to do when we got back.
2. Plan our on-the-road snacks and meals a bit better. We ended up skipping lunch on Saturday and then were famished for dinner by 5. I ended up with a horrible headache that night and didn't really get to enjoy being away because of it.
3. Resist the urge to get overbooked the following days after a trip. I've kind of shot myself in the foot for the week because I won't be getting home until at least 8:00 every night. That means if I want to go to the store, it'll be late and I won't be in the mood for it.
4. Figure out what things can wait until the following weekend. I need to chillax and realize it's ok if I didn't get to reorganize my closet by color this week. (Ok, I'm not that bad, but you know what I mean. Most things I feel I have to do aren't that important and can wait.)

What are your tips for readjusting to life after a weekend of travel?

Hitting the Road

In a few hours SCL and I are heading to NJ (yuck) for a wedding (yay), and I'm not planning on bringing the laptop with me. See you on Monday!

Reflections on 1929, 2001, and 2009

It's definitely a day for remembering and reflecting. My grandfather was born September 11, 1929. He would've been 80 years old. Honestly, the main reason I remembered was because his birthday is ingrained in my memory after 9-11-09. I had just started college. My roommate's father was flying that day. I can't believe it's been 8 years.

Tomorrow it will have been two months since SCL and I moved into our apartment together. Here's what I've learned so far.

Cohabitation, though an unsexy word indeed, is incredibly fun, challenging, and seemingly way less counter cultural than I thought. When I meet people now who don't live with their significant others, I think, "Aw, I hope you get to someday soon because it's really, really great." If it's the right person, of course.

Sharing has never been my strong suit. I'm the baby of the family and the only girl, so I'm not used to having to share much. I can't help that my brothers never wanted to play with my Barbies, My Little Ponies, or ballet costumes! Sometimes when I see SCL with a snack I love, I immediately go into panic mode that there won't be enough for me, too. I need to chillax and realize he can have whatever he wants because he lives there, too. Seriously, the lessons we learn as small children are really all we need to know.

Grocery shopping is surprisingly a great bonding activity for us. We're a team, trying to get in and out as fast as we can and with a low bill.

The little things, like having breakfast together in the morning and watching our favorite shows while snuggling on the couch, are the highlights of my day. I try not to take them for granted.

Having personal space is key to maintaining a sense of self. Even if it's something as small as a closet or as big as a room, find your own space.

Speak up when something is bothering you. It helps no one to internalize your feelings until you explode. (I am good at this at home, not so much at work. I'm working on it.)

Continue to date your partner. Make time to go out, have fun, and live it up like you did before you moved in together.

Be silly together. SCL is pretty much the only one I'm a complete goof in front of, and I find this to be incredibly comforting, reassuring, and sacred. It's a side of myself that only he gets to see, which is so cool. Sometimes he doesn't appear to be amused by my antics, but I know that he loves my in spite of and perhaps even a little because of my goofiness.

What lessons have you learned from living together?

Career Freak Out!

It started as a pleasant evening: walking past the Capitol building at sunset, enjoying free wine and food, meeting new people. Then I met Socially Awkward girl who decided to cling to me for the next hour. Honestly, it wasn't that bad, but she was...well, awkward. For instance, in talking about my current position I said, "It seems really hard to find a good boss." And she replies loudly, while spooning hummus onto her little plastic plate, "YOU DON'T LIKE YOUR BOSS?"

For whatever reason, despite this obviously inappropriate outburst, I continued to talk uncomfortably with SA girl on the outside patio. Now in addition to enduring social awkwardness, I was also scratching and swatting pesky mosquitoes that were eating me alive. I told her that no, it's not that I dislike my boss (sort of a lie), but that I'm struggling to get some direction in terms of career. Lucky me, she does some career development and began to ask--no, interrogate--me about my life goals.

SA Girl: "What's your ideal job?"

Me: "Um...I don't know. Maybe (bullshit) or (more bullshit)..."

SA Girl: "Is there anyone in your office whose position you would like to have one day?"

Me: "Um...no. No one really."

And the panic attack commenced. All of a sudden thoughts were running through my head--I don't want to do this work. I hate being in an office. I thought I wanted to have more interaction with people in my daily work. Etc. Etc. Etc. The poor girl had no idea what her mundane questions had incited. Then she suggested I look at a career in a university, at which point I almost a) punched her b) burst into tears. I excused myself and found other safer colleagues to spend the rest of the evening with.

Later that night after navigating around the police who were everywhere on Capitol Hill (Obama was speaking/being heckled) and suffering through a Metro ride with a fellow passenger who thought she would serenade me with opera arias, I finally made it home around 10. I walked through the door, announced to SCL that I was having a crisis, and promptly plopped down on the couch, cookie dough ice cream and soup spoon in hand. In between bites, I told him what had happened and how I didn't think I wanted to be in a non-profit anymore if I meant I couldn't have genuine interactions with people. This is not really a new realization, but one I am rediscovering. The idea of having influence appeals to me, but the way to get it--and the way people react to you when you have it--do not. I love the issue, but just not the way I'm working on it. How can I be passionate about justice when my day is mostly consumed with inner-office political nonsense?

As I've already realized, your twenties are kind of sucky, especially in trying to figure out what the heck you want to do; I mean, really want to do, not just want to do because someone ought to do it or because someone ought to be good at doing it and why shouldn't that be me when I'm capable of it. Seeing as how bad the market is and how few months I've actually been in my current job, I'm not planning on doing anything drastic just yet. I need to formulate a plan, but first I need to be able to answer the question, "What job do I want?" This will require some soul searching and probably some sitting down with people who've been around and know their stuff.

In the meantime, I am networking like crazy (4-6 events a week; so glad I ordered my own business cards!) and finding leadership roles in volunteer settings. I'm finding that my job really can't do all for me that I wish it would, and it's up to me to find other ways of gaining the skills and the connections I need. I'm learning what it means to be my own advocate and how to initiate my own opportunities. I'm confident these are skills that will benefit me in whatever thing I decide to do next.

Any words of wisdom from former career freak out-ers?

Cheap Eats: Black Bean Deliciousness

Besides watching oodles of Dexter, this weekend I decided to get creative and make up a recipe. We had 2 cans of black beans in our pantry that probably came with one of us from CT, so I figured it was time to do something fun with them. I'm finally getting comfortable enough in the kitchen (and with knowing SCL will sweetly eat anything I make, even if I refuse to eat it myself) to start making it up as I go.

Here's the concoction:
1 lb. chicken breast
2 cans black beans
1 cup rice
1 onion
1 green pepper
4 flour tortillas
2 cups cheese (cheddar, jack, whatever you like)
1 jar salsa
1 container sour cream

1. I cooked the chicken in the skillet, threw in a little cumin and lime juice to make things interesting. Diced and cooked the onions and peppers with the chicken.
2. Cooked the rice. Drained the beans.
3. Mixed the chicken, onions, peppers, rice, beans, salsa, and sour cream together.
4. Layered the bottom of a casserole dish with the tortillas (I cut off the ends to make them fit). Put 1/2 of the mix into the casserole. Another row of tortillas on top. The rest of the mix on top of that. Sprinkled top with cheese.
5. Cooked for 30 min at 350 degrees.

Result: absolutely delicious! And enough servings for 4 meals, which makes me very, very happy.

Tonight SCL and I are doing dinner separately. He's got class (boo) and I've got a reception on Capitol Hill to attend. The invitation promises that "unlimited complimentary wine and generous appetizers will be served." Holla for free food and wine!

Our (Non) Labor Day Weekend

Unlike the rest of the world (or so it seemed to me), SCL and I had no plans for the weekend other than a free gallery walk in Dupont Circle on Friday evening. Here's the recap:

Friday evening: Went to Dupont. Drank lots of free wine. Got asses kicked by little old ladies who actually wanted to look at the art at the galleries (the nerve!). Mingled. Networked. Made new friends. Stumbled to the Metro before it closed for the weekend. Ate late night drunk munchies at Chili's. Watched Dexter. Crashed.

Saturday: Slept in. Drank coffee. Morning shopping (sans SCL) at Marshall's (Michael Kors blouse for $29.99!) Caught up on reality TV from the week. Discovered there's a new season of Tool Academy on VH1. Finished season1 of Dexter. Organized closet. Watched first six episodes of Dexter season 2. Never left the apartment.

Sunday: Slept in. Drank coffee. Ate french toast. More Dexter. Went to dinner with aunt. Bought ice cream at CVS and watched more Dexter. Finished season 2. Success.

Monday: Woke up slightly earlier. Drank coffee. SCL read; I shopped at Target for groceries ($22 for the week! Score.) Got cranky having to deal with Labor Day crowd at the store. Failed attempt to buy coffee at Costco, which was closed. Got caught in rain storm. Watched more Dexter.

Basically, a weekend full of glorious TV watching, rest, and being boring for a change. Not a bad weekend at all.

Confessions of a (Not So) Clean Freak

For the first few weeks of living together, SCL and I were naturally on our best behavior--putting our stuff away, cleaning up the hair in the shower (mostly me; I shed like you wouldn't believe), and generally trying to avoid our bad behaviors when it came to keeping a clean place. Of course that didn't last too terribly long. We are human after all and no amount of willing would keep our bad habits at bay forever. Hence, exhibit A-->

This is a pile o' stuff next to my side of the bed that no matter how I try to keep under control always seems to recreate itself anew each day. I took this pic a few days ago. Looks like that days pile was made up of a t-shirt, pajama pants, umbrella, tote bag, open ELLE magazine, iPod, hair clip, sunglasses, and of course, Rosemary Ruether's classic Sexism and God-Talk. When I sheepishly admitted to my ever-growing pile o' stuff, SCL said, "Yeah, I'm always afraid I'm going to step on your phone in the morning." As it were my phone was in another spot on the floor, which I blame on me not shoving it off the bed along with all the other crap before getting under the covers. It probably went flying the first time one of us tossed or turned.

This pile is pretty much the only chaos I allow in my home life. I am generally clean (not an innate quality but one I have developed over time, which I think makes me even more controlling about it.) But this pile I just can't seem to rid myself of. Doesn't help that I'm getting home later and later most evenings and just don't give a damn about putting my stuff away. I guess letting my hair down is a good thing, but it's hard to let another person see all your crap, literally or figuratively speaking.

But mess or no mess, I have a partner who loves me just the same--and who will try his best not to step on it.

First (and Second) Jobs are for Experimenting

The first part of my Metro ride book time this week was spent finishing Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a Smartmouth Goddess. It's a sassy, down-to-earth, at times overly simplistic feminist how-to manual for young women. Some of it I skimmed, some wasn't relevant (i.e. blind dates), but the part about work I read over and over again.

Her basic point: your 20s suck. Hallelujah, thank you for finally saying it! I always thought my 20s were supposed to be fantastic, but in all honesty they are scary as hell. I'm constantly doing things for the first time, wondering if I'm doing them correctly and what the ramifications will be if do or don't do them well this time around. This applies to investing in retirement, communicating with SCL, networking, but I want to focus on the main one that's bugging me at the moment--figuring out my work style and goals.

When I first started my current job, I was frustrated with the lack of work I'd been assigned. I wanted to be seen as a helpful team player, an initiator, an agreeable employee. So, I began offering my time to everyone in my office. Still that wasn't enough. So I finally sat down with my supervisor and said "I need more to do. Bring it on." And boy did she. And so did everyone else, leaving me with a shitload of work to do this week. I've been staying well past 5:00 everyday, sometimes over an hour after everyone else is gone. What a pickle I've gotten myself into. Technically I was supposed to leave work an hour ago (the last week of our summer hours), but here I sit, taking a blog and coffee break before finishing up some other projects. SCL is in class until 6:00, so I'm not missing time together, which is dwindling now that I'm jam packing my evenings and he's got class.

What to do, what to do. I have busted my hump trying to get all the tasks assigned to me done before the end of the week because I want to prove that I can do it. But at the same time, I don't want to set a precedent for staying late every day because I'm a firm believer in practicing balance.



Any words of wisdom out there? How do you balance a drive to succeed and flourish with a desire to be balanced (i.e. not overworked and gulping coffee after work hours on a Friday?)

Real Furniture: One of the (few) Pleasures of Growing Up and Having a Job


This is the day I've been waiting for since July 11th. Our couch I ordered from Macy's has finally arrived! Look at how cute she is! I think I'm going to name her Rosie 1) because of her beautiful red color and I'm sure you've all noticed how white the rest of the place is and 2) to honor my very first doll, a Cabbage Patch preemie whom I, just under two years old, called affectionately "Wozee." You might say it's silly to name a couch, but I've been waiting for this for what feels like forever and we haven't had a place for us both to sit since we moved in. See that twin bed off behind Rosie? That has been our makeshift couch, which made me feel like we were living in a dorm. It was comfortable for one, but not so much for two, and most nights I didn't really feel like moving from the little bed to the big bed.

Rosie is the first real furniture I've ever bought that wasn't secondhand. Don't get me wrong, I love secondhand furniture. In fact, everything in our apartment, save a few small Ikea pieces, are all from friends, loved ones, and random Craigslisters. We tried to find a used couch, but they were all smelly, stained, or (ew!) bug-infested. I decided that for this, I could be a grown up and buy myself a real piece of furniture, damn it!

Let me tell you something: finding Rosie was not easy. The day before move-in day my lovely aunt and I went out on an adventure, GPS in hand, to find me a couch. I figured hey, people are desperate to sell things like furniture, so this should be a snap. WRONG.

First stop: Jennifer Convertibles. Saw a couch I liked. Salesman belittled/patronized me after ignoring me for 20 minutes. Said "bye bye, asshole" and walked out.

Second stop: Jennifer Convertibles #2. Saw couch I liked. Idiot salesman knows nothing about delivering to my area, calling other stores closer to my area, or how to tie his own shoes.

Third stop: Foolishly relying on GPS, we drove out of our way to an independent store, figuring the chain stores were a racket. Pulled up to a store with neon signs flashing "Mattresses!," light up Mary figurines, and bars on the window. Despite feeling desperate, I decided it was just too sketchy.

Fourth stop: Bassett furniture. Beautiful pieces, stick in the mud salespeople. Refuse to make me a deal. Piss me off. Bye bye.

Fifth stop: JC Penny. Pleather pull out sofas. Enough said.

Sixth stop: Pottery Barn. All I could afford was a throw pillow.

Seventh stop: Macy's. Aunt says, "If you can afford anything in this store, I will eat a hat." And there stood my Rosie, a beautiful red (what I wanted) at a reasonable price, which I negotiated down another hundred bucks. Life is perfect until I am informed that it is on back order until late August. Call SCL who is understandably not thrilled about the wait. But I'm in love. I can wait, and SCL agrees. I say, "I'll take her."And now my aunt must eat a hat.

And now she's here. Tonight after work and meetings I hope to have a mini-couch party, complete with a glass of wine, TV watching, and lots o' snuggling to celebrate our first night together. Welcome home, Rosie!