Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Birthday!

It's my twenty-eighth birthday today and I feel much different than I did on my twenty-seventh birthday.

Part of me feels more like my angsty fourteen year-old self than a sophisticated and urbane graduate student in her late twenties.  But part of me feels more at peace and resolved than ever before.

Last year at this time I feel like I was running in circles.  I hadn't yet decided to apply to grad school for fear of the time it would take away from my social life, I was working crazy hours trying to adjust to my new job and was in a bit of a rut.  I wasn't as close to my girl friends as I am now and I definitely didn't have the sense of direction I've gained in the last nine months.

But birthdays, like Valentine's Day and New Years Eve, are pretty anti-climactic.  My mom sent me a beautiful and inspirational Kate Spade necklace, some of my brokers bought me some sweet running gear and I'm having drinks with a friend tonight.  Altogether not a bad day for sure, but it's not a life-changing moment.  Simply one to reflect and attempt to come to peace with whatever has been bugging me.  Well, I know what's been bugging me.  I just need to move on. 

When I was in my early twenties, twenty-eight was that magic age at which I thought I'd have it all together, or at least all figured out.  And in a way, I do.  I know more about myself than I did then, I'm doing very well in my MBA program, I have an active social life and a job in this economy.  I'm learning life lessons every day and having direction is more than half the battle. So I might not be "there" yet, but I'm on my way.  And afterall, life is about the journey, not being anywhere. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Student Loans (i.e. DEBT)

I decided to work full-time and go to school so that my additional student loan burden would be minimal after I graduate.  With $20,000+ worth of student loans from my undergraduate career, my goal a few years back was to find a company that would pay for my continuing education.  Ha - I definitely picked the wrong time in history AND the wrong industry for that to happen. 

Because I have a background in economics, I think I look at costs a little differently than others.  I'm always examining ROI, opportunity cost and the long-run benefits of everyday purchases.  I've never had a ton of disposal income, so I make sure my wardrobe can double for day and night.  I drive a sedan that is good on gas, and I think I'm generally pretty thrifty.  But the idea of getting saddled with $800 a month worth of student loans for the next fifteen years of my life is seriously daunting; that's more than a mortgage in most states.

They say it's worth it most of the time.  If all goes according to plan, I'll leave Pepperdine with a job that makes twice what I'm pulling in now and I will have fulfilled a lifelong dream.  But at what cost?

But being burdened with over $80,000 worth of student loans before the age of thirty is hefty.  It definitely means I'll have to put off buying a home and even having children.  It will mean fewer vacations and less freedom to eventually be self-employed.  But it also hopefully means more opportunities.  A different way of seeing the world, new relationships and life-changing experiences.

There are plenty of people my age with the same educational background making much more money without the additional student loan burden.  But how did they get there?  It's all a series of choices we make in our life, and the majority of the time I'm fairly certain I made the one that was right for me.  But there are times when I wish I had a crystal ball. I guess we all would, right?! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rain Rain....

It's my "spring break" and the weather service confirms what I see from our seventeenth floor offices: lots 'o rain.  And while a vacation sipping margaritas by the pool sounds beyond fabulous, there is a part of me that most definitely doesn't mind this weather.  Especially when I'm still working forty hours a week and don't have the luxury of taking off for the exotic vacation of my dreams, I could use an excuse to do nothing. Three weeks doesn't seem like much of a break, but I'm doing all I can to do nothing. 

Especially because I've been rather down lately, this weather is a bit refreshing.  While I do love the consistency of sun all summer and guaranteed beach time, the rain isn't so bad.  Heck, I'm sure I'll be blogging about how much I love Cali summer, but the rain can be just as relaxing.  This time of year I'm usually dying for the sun. Fun summer dresses and shorts are all over the mall and we're supposed to go camping in just over a month. But this time around I can wait. It will be hot and beautiful soon enough and I'll be back in school and studying away while everyone else hits the beach.

I'm truly a Midwest girl at heart, so I have a whole closet full of hoodies and sweats; I'm used to this type of weather.  I honestly love dressing down and mucking about as much as I love getting all dolled up for a night out on the town.  Come on, doesn't a great pair of sweats, a favorite blanket and getting caught up with your DVR sound phenomenal after fourteen weeks of work and grad school?!   So bring on the rain.  Mother nature (and my system) need some refreshment before we can go on for the next season.  It's all a cycle. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Baseball Games

One of my very favorite summertime activities is going to baseball games.  I love the crowds, the pace, the hot dogs, warm beer, kids running around and cute guys in baseball caps.  It's not something I grew up doing at all, but I honestly can't imagine a more fun Saturday afternoon outing or relaxing Friday evening. I loved going with my boyfriend in college, my little brothers when I go back to Detroit and with a bunch of friends for someone's birthday. 

I also love going to baseball games because of what it symbolizes.  Fathers and sons bonding, die-hard fans passionately cheering, warm evenings under the stars, affectionate couples, throngs of pre-adolescent boys being goofy, family traditions, and young professionals letting loose. It is, afterall, the American Pastime.  It's a wonderful, relaxing escape, if just for a few hours. 

And make no mistake.  Though I may live thousands of miles away in the land of Angels and Dodgers, I will forever root for my hometown Tigers. I mean, part of that is because I once "mistakenly" flirted with Justin Verlander at a Moosejaw store (he's tall and I didn't know who he was - you can't blame me), but I'm nothing if not loyal.  I even wore my Detroit t-shirt for the last half marathon. 

Hopefully someone will want to go with me down to the Angels game this Thursday.  While it entails some traffic for sure, it's well worth it.  Because it's in the 'burbs, Angels Stadium is a unique experience for LA sports fans.  It's a newer stadium with tons of amenities and even a parking lot (swoon! If you've ever been to Dodgers Stadium and forgot where you parked, you know what I mean).  It's something different from my normal routine and I need to take advantage of these few weeks between semesters. 

Last year, one of the brokers I work with was able to score me a set of amazing tickets to the Tigers/Angels game.  Unfortunately, I was pretty sick and didn't get to appreciate it as much as I could have, but as luck would have it Verlander pitched through the seventh that night and we sat right behind visitor dugout.  Headache and neasea be damned, it was amazing. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two Down, Four To Go

I feel like I was just saying how I feel like time flies sometimes.  Especially when it's marked by midterms, papers, quizzes, finals and 14-week semesters.  But really, I'm only a third of the way done?  How do people do this?  When I started eight months ago, two years sounded like an awfully long time to commit to something like this.  Well, an awful long time to commit to anything as far as I'm concerned.  And while part of me feels like I just started, I'm more than ready to be done already. 

It's difficult having a job for which, while I enjoy it most of the time, I'm highly overqualified.  And with the exception of a few close girlfriends, I have little outside of Pepperdine tying me to Los Angeles anymore.  Maybe it's because I'm only two semesters in or because I'm homesick and restless, but I'm ready to move on. Move forward.  Do something. 

I'm definitely one of those people that constantly need a new challenge.  That's why I initially undertook running, running half marathons, and even business school.  I was bored.  And not that work and school and everything else that is going on in my life is boring, but I'm having a difficult time seeing the forest through the trees.  Will all this work one day be worth it?  Do I just keep plugging along and doing my thing? When will I feel like an adult?

I'm hoping this summer I have time to run more and I bought a new camera a few weeks ago because that's something I've been meaning to spend more time with for a while now.  I've decided that I need to be more adventurous and savor every minute I have to lay in the sun, go on hikes, marvel at the ocean, be with my friends, laugh until I cry and make good memories.  I will consciously try to live in the moment and remember that it's all about the journey.  My heart may ache and I may be more anxious than the next person, but I am a lucky, healthy, loved, intelligent, fun girl. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I've said before that I can't imagine going through this program while having to juggle a family on top of work and school.  Studying, homework, group projects and class on top of a full-time job and social life is a demanding task itself.  In the last few months, a few relationships have been strained and even ended. But after living by myself for three months and giving up a great deal of that time normally spent with friends, I've come to the conclusion that it might be equally difficult to take on this program alone.

Of course we're all alone in a certain existential way.  But as a single gal making her way in the big city without her family or a significant other, I feel as though I have a particular expertise on this lonely thing.  I've always been the kind of person that prefers a small group of friends to a large group of acquaintances so a lot of the time I would actually rather spend time with myself than with those I don't really care for. 

Now that I live alone, I definitely love having my own space to lie on the carpet, stay up late listening to music, sprawl out my books and papers and run amuck in the kitchen.  I love the serenity on a Saturday morning and the freedom on really busy nights (weeks) to not clean up after myself.  But it doesn't come without its disadvantages. 

I knew moving out on my own would have it's challenges. I've done it before and it wasn't always glamorous.  While it means autonomy and peace, it also entails quiet evenings and more phone calls to mother so I have someone with whom to vent.  It means that I cry in silence.  Both tears of joy and of pain. 

And of course I'm single.  I don't have a regular Friday night date so the possibility of me sitting home alone for multiple nights in a row is a reality.  There's nobody there to hold my hand when I'm stressed or tell me I'm wonderful when the girls at school are mean to me.  Nobody to go on a coffee run when I can't break away from my marathon study sessions or bring me a glass of milk when I'm too stressed to sleep. 

So thank goodness for great girl friends.  Ones who will cook you dinner at the last minute, feed your soul, and humor your need for bottomless glasses of champagne and cardigans.  Ones who, in the spirit of "He's Just Not That Into You", will tell you that you deserve better, that life if worth living and that spring is looking you dead in the eye, daring you to come out and play.  They'll make sure you have fun after a particularly draining week and hold your hair back the next morning while recounting your ridiculous antics without even a hint of judgment. 

So I guess I'm not really ALL alone...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fine Lines

I've always been a famously anxious person. I was the queen of mood swings as a kid and there was always a little hysterical maniac in me just waiting to come to the surface. I'm sure part of it is my genetic make-up (my brothers can be equally intense), but I think it also has a lot to do with the instability I lived with as a child.  It was (is) my way of dealing.

In college, I realized that I was constantly walking the fine line between motivating and debilitating anxiety. One pushes you to do your best and other doesn't let you do anything.  Unfortunately, I'm leaning toward the latter with only a week left until finals.  I know everyone gets a little bummed out every once a while.  Even to the point where they can't get off the couch for a few hours.  But this week, a new kind of anxiousness (almost depression-like), has set in.  Deep in my chest. It is a physical pain that can bring me to hysterical (hurting, wake the neighbor) tears just thinking about it.  It comes and goes with no apparent reason, and I'm out of coping mechanisms. 

In case you couldn't guess, for almost all of high school and college I was highly medicated. My depression and anxiety became too much for a fourteen year old to handle on top of everything that was going on at home, changing schools, making friends and trying to pay attention in class. When I moved away from Michigan and took a series of awful, low-paying jobs, I couldn't afford insurance so I stopped taking my medication cold turkey.  And while that's not usually a good idea, it ended up working well for me considering I had a lot of time on my hands, my own apartment, and few friends. 

And this is the first time in over a decade that I've been in school without medication.  But now I'm going on twenty-eight, not fourteen.  I have a better battery of coping mechanisms, and twice as much maturity.  Although I've always known when it's socially acceptable to be hysterical, I feel the need much less often.  I've created my own life and that in and of itself rids a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety triggers.  My last hurdle now is how to deal with others; to be OK with the unpredictable nature of the other. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Sunday

All in all, I had a pretty great childhood.  It was filled with instability and unpredictability for sure, but my parents did some stuff right.  Two of the things that were always amazing and fun were Christmas and Easter.  Our Easter baskets were always filled with surprises like clothes for my Muffy Vanderbear and even flip flops once.  My dad loves traditions too, and made a big deal about putting something from Crabtree & Evelyn in our baskets every year.  He even sends me Easter goodies once in a while (again, lack of consistency is key). 

Living a few thousand miles away from my family for the past few years, I get super homesick on Easter.  I miss my nana's ham and cheesy potatoes, Easter dresses and helping my little cousins find the eggs my Papa's been hiding in the same spots in their house all my life.  I miss family time, homemade food, Hershey's chocolates wrapped in pastel foil.  I miss the promise of spring and the good mood it puts everyone in. 

Much like Thanksgiving, I've had to create my own Easter traditions in LA.  A few years ago, Vani and I went to a beautiful Catholic mass in Beverly Hills all dolled up and finished off the afternoon with Sprinkles cupcakes.  Last year we played beer pong, dyed eggs and drank mimosas at her boyfriend's house in our fancy dresses. 

This year Brady and Vani are moving in together (their new apartment complex has more than one pool and is just a few blocks from the ocean - I've already claimed my own drawer in the guest bedroom), so it's my turn to host.  Mimosas are always on the docket in my apartment and lately I've been on a bit of an experimental cooking kick.  So along with a strata, I'm making ebelskivers with a pan I'm borrowing from a coworker.  The cool thing about this is that even though I don't remember ever eating these as a child, my mom said she and my dad used to make them as newlyweds because they are part of my step-grandfather's Danish heritage. 

I have finals in less than two weeks, and I suppose my entire weekend should be devoted to studying, but I just don't see that happening.  I'm sure I'll sit down and go over all my study materials at some point this week, but getting to the nitty gritty of it all more than seven days in advance is just not my style.  I can't imagine a more painful way to spend this holiday than alone with my books.  The company of good friends, alcohol and homemade food is the next best thing to being with my family. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Long Days... Long Week...

After 48 hours in Vegas (14 of which were spent in the car), and two days of work and class back to back, I'm beyond exhausted.  I'm so physically (and more importantly - emotionally) drained, that I can't sleep.  I'm like one of those little kids who's so overly tired that they put up a fight to do everything, including going to bed.  Last night I finally got home before 10:30, but promptly found out that the one washer for our entire (8 unit) building has been broken since Monday.  This was AFTER I stripped my bed, threw in all the towels I could find, and sorted the massive mounds of laundry that have been piling up for what is now two weeks.  

Add to that the stress of finals coming up in less than two weeks, the boy being too busy to give my cranky ass sufficient whine time (I mean attention), and work being slower than normal, I want nothing more than to zone out in front of the TV with a box of Girl Scout cookies.  A run would really make me feel better, but instead I am going to go to Target, tackle the laundry issue one way or another and plan my recipes for Sunday's Easter brunch at my place. Cleaning and organizing is how I deal.  Judge. 

Now that I live right between work and school, I discovered this week that I actually have time to stop off at home to change my clothes before sitting in class for four hours.  And you wouldn't believe the difference this makes.  Monday night I put on my running pants and a hoodie and felt infinitely more comfortable than I would have been trying to get through accounting in the dress pants, heels and cardigan (my unofficial uniform) I wore all day. 

The other good news is that it's light out longer.  On the nights when I don't have class, I actually feel like I can be productive for a few hours.  While this hopefully means more running opportunities next semester, it means less hibernation.  And I'm good at that.  I'm good at doing my own thing and feeling OK about being antisocial.  Especially when I'm exhausted and moody like this.