Thursday, March 31, 2011

the inexpensive life

In case you slept for the entire month of March (and I'm sincerely so jealous if you did), this would be the only thing you missed (besides that pesky "war" in Libya). You got it, it's the super cool remix of Rebecca Black's FRIDAY, with a new spin: GANG FIGHT!!!

Anywho, if any of you are like me, you're living on a budget. A pretty tight one. There are lean weeks, and leaner weeks (usually when I pay my rent). But you know what? This is part of living in a city, part of being out on your own, and part of not deserving any more salary than you are making. Sometimes the blogging world seems a lot about material goods and things you can buy. But, the reality is, even in the gluttonous consumer world we live in, sometimes it's irresponsible just to go out and buy buy buy. So I'm doing things on the cheap right now, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun interesting. And there are plenty of ways to pass the days...FREE.

1. One of my favorite freebies was The New York Times. They recently set up a paywall  (which doles out 20 free articles a month. Easy, I thought. That'll last me about a week. Sadly, it lasted me one morning. And that was Tuesday.), which is good for them to make money.  Lucky for us, the online subscription isn't too too expensive ($4 for 4 weeks I believe). If you're wary of doling out that kind of bucks, the Boston Globe is still free, as is CNN and the Huffington Post and almost every other online news source. But they won't be far behind NYT.

2. I don't just window-shop. I fondle-shop. As in, at lunchtime I walk over to some favorite clothing stores and touch all the clothes. Everything's so pretty, and I just imagine wearing the pretty spring skirts and pairing them with pretty blouses and feminine ruffled tops. Sometimes, out of spite (especially if I'm cranky), I pick a few things up and deposit them in all the wrong places in the store. But mostly, if I stay long enough, I get desensitized to that want want want NEED feeling and feel happy when I leave with nothing. Which is way better than the guilt of swiping the card.

3. I've drastically cut back my food spending. First, I don't buy food during the day. My office provides coffee, and I always bring lunch--usually leftovers or a PB sandwich, and that saves, at the least, about $20 a week. I've reduced my grocery bill by not buying frilly food. I eat a lot of pasta and a lot of rice, but I'll buy a couple veggies, too. I'm simply not a glutton with my food anymore. It wasn't worth the hit my wallet was taking, and chances are, not worth yours too. I still make delicious food, I'm just creative and cheap about it. My advice: for 1-2 weeks (I can usually make mine last almost 2 weeks) buy the following: 2 boxes of pasta, a loaf of bread, a pound of chicken breast, something for breakfast (a big carton of yogurt, or English muffins, or eggs for scrambling), a jar of  tomato sauce (my fave is Barilla Tomato & Basil), and a couple select veggies, like zucchini, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and any cooking essentials you might be out of at home (i.e. salad dressing, olive oil, garlic cloves, milk, etc). I ration the tomato sauce by combining it with minced garlic that I cook in olive out--it makes for a much simpler, light, tasty sauce. I just get creative with what I'm making, and I don't waste food.

4. I don't really buy music (but I don't steal it either!). I listen to Pandora Radio and Youtube songs I want to hear multiple times. If you have a favorite radio station from your home city, lots of them stream online. My all time favorite streaming radio station is WMVY (duh, the Martha's Vineyard radio station).

5. My roommate and I pulled our cable. It's a huge amount of savings. Plus, many TV shows are available online. And no TV leaves room for more books, more writing, more knitting (which I FINALLY learned how to do) and getting OUTSIDE. If there's a show you really have to watch, hike on over to a friend's with TV. Or don't watch it. It doesn't really matter in the long run.

6. For the time being, I've decided to pick one night a week to go out, which is usually Saturday. I love going out with friends, and I'm a naturally super social person, but cutting back is cutting back, and two nights a week can get pricey! I'd rather save my money for going out more this summer.

7. There are so many other things you don't have to "splurge" on. Do your own nails. Wash your socks and underwear, if you're running low, in the bathtub. Go to the library instead of Barnes & Noble (it took me years to make myself do this...but now I'm addicted). Now that spring is coming, we'll spend more time in parks. I'll take friends down to the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty (and MAYBE that really cute guy...nahttt). I'll go to the museum for a dollar. If you can walk or take the subway or take the bus, DO NOT take a cab.

The essentials in this early post college life, I believe, are this: rent, bills (loans, credit card, etc), food, fun. Splurging on non-essentials (and, sometimes, even splurging on essentials) just isn't a good way to live. I have to remind myself that I have to earn splurges, that splurges are a privilege, and not take what I have for granted. The most important thing I've learned when trying to manage my money independently is not to get stressed out, but to simply budget better. Don't buy things you know you can't afford. Think long and hard before a big purchase. And hope, hope, hope that this will be a good foundation for being responsible with money in the future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

glutton for punishment

In my middle and high school years, I had a thing for war movies. From Saving Private Ryan to The Patriot and right on down the line to Pearl Harbor (don't judge me...I was 13 and thought I was going to marry Josh Hartnett). I couldn't get enough blood and guts, couldn't have too many cannon balls and firearms. Plus, America always WON, which was so awesome. Especially in the post 9/11 years, it was nice to see Amurrrica kickin' butt and takin' names, old school. Even when guys were blown up and had their guts hanging out and held their buddies hands while they died, it was all for a good cause, they were dying for something, and we, generations later, existed because of them. I loved when the soldiers in the movies talked about girls at home, or showed pictures of their girls at home, with their pretty hair, pining away for their very own soldier. Dang, how romantic! My perfect Friday night was spend with bowls of popcorn and my brothers and male cousins and neighbor boys watching all the man power on the screen. Something about a man in uniform, my grandmother always said.

I thought war movies were about glory and the amazing righteousness of America, that America in the end was always right. The bugles, the drummerboys, those amazing sounds of the battlecalls in the movies were nothing short of inspiring. Men fighting all together for a common good. I think that is what, in general, attracts people to movies made about war. That, and it's cool to see stuff blow up. And you know the actors aren't really dying. Awesome!!!!!

But something in me changed. I've become more sensitive, I upset much more easily. I still do have quite an affection for movies about war, but, now that I have matured, they frighten me much more than I ever thought they would. A few months ago I watched Saving Private Ryan, a movie I'd seen a dozen times. But I couldn't convince myself to enjoy it like I used to. Death seemed so real to me while watching; the fear and the stress is palpable. Perhaps I simply didn't understand life and the finality of death when I watched these movies as a teenager. Perhaps, because I had never been far away from home, I didn't understand what it meant to want to go back.

The particular scene that gutted me took place in the French countryside where the injured young medic, played by Giovanni Ribisi, dies in the field.  When it becomes apparent that his injuries are too severe to be helped, Tom Hanks says, quietly, 'Tell us what you need. Tell us what you need." He asks for morphine. He knows that no one he is with, despite their best efforts, despite holding his head, despite gripping his hand, can do anything for him. "Oh God, I don't wanna die," he says, and the other soldiers quiet him, comfort him. "I wanna go home," he says, "I wanna go home." He cries out for his mother. Then he gets quiet, and then he dies. And as I watched this scene, I thought, oh God. How can anyone watch this? It is probably the most disturbing scene in almost any war movie I've seen.

But there's something beautiful about it, an honesty that, in the end, is what attracts me to movies about war. Isn't that what we would all want? In our last moment of life, to be with our momma, at home, safe, instead of scared and in pain in some country half a world away? In essence, war movies are one of the only genres where the emotions of people (mostly, because they're about war, men) can come across as raw, brutally honest, and completely moving. There's a scene toward the end of The Hurt Locker where Anthony Mackie's character is overcome with emotion, his nerves fried, and he says he's afraid he'll never get home. He's only got a few days left of his tour and he's convinced he'll die before he makes it to the end.  And really, sometimes a war movie expresses what all of us feel inside (albeit in a violent, violent way): that we want to go home, and we just don't know how to get there. We want to be surrounded by peace and people we love. And if that is what you can take away from a movie about war, I think it's a damn good lesson to learn.

And, because I'm a glutton for pain and punishment, I'll keep watching war movies--the good ones (sorry Josh Hartnett)-- because they will remind me of what has been sacrificed, and they will make me grateful for my home and thankful to be alive. That, and ooo I LOVE and man in uniform. All sweating and dirty. Firing weapons.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

that time i met a guy on the Staten Island ferry

Guys. Today I met the cutest guy. I'm serious.

Because my computer is a little slut and decided to contract a nice, juicy virus last week, I sent it down to Wagner with Auntie Brittie, my lovely sister. And hooray, hooray, the brilliant IT department at her little school on Staten Island fixed my beloved laptop good as new, thus a trip over there was a necessity. Plus, she can feed me dinner. So, after work today, I hopped on down to the Staten Island Ferry. If you're in NYC, make sure to check it out. It's free, and it goes right past the Statue of Liberty.

I boarded the 5:30 ferry out of Manhattan, planning to decompress from my workday before my quality sister-and-cafeteria-food bonding time. But then I saw this guy. Tall, wearing a DOT Staten Island Ferry uniform, strapping, killer jawline, just cute cute cute. Hmm! I thought as I sat down, though I promptly pulled out my book and forgot about him. You see, every other guy (and sometimes, every guy) you see in the city is good looking. Sometimes they're wearing rings, sometimes they're wearing bad footwear. Sometimes they look in your direction, most of the time they don't. Regardless, the wildlife is fun to look at.

So I'm reading, and I'm looking out the window, and then I'm reading. Cute guy walks by, says hello. I try to smile prettily, caught off guard, but manage to say hello back.

"Do you always ride the 5:30?" He asks.

Urmmmm? Is cute guy TALKING to me????

"No, no."  I manage to stammer. "I'm going to visit my sister."

"Your sister?"

"yeah, um, she goes to Wagner."

He leans against the window across from me. Can he see my face getting red? Oh God, I'm not wearing any makeup! But, somehow, he keeps talking, like he actually wants to talk to me. And as it dawns on me that I'm being chatted up by this cute guy that works for the Staten Island Ferry. And I'm really fucking nervous. And when I'm nervous I clam up. I've even been called cold by a date before. OUCH. And this guy is really cute. I even dig his semi-crooked teeth. He's from Long Island, he says, he's in the Coast Guard. Spent some time in Massachusetts, when I mention that's where I'm from. But I'm utterly tactless, my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I have nothing charming to say. I keep wondering whether or not I should stand. I can't think of anything to say, I can't think of anything to say OH GOD I'M SO BORING, HE'S CUTE AND HE'S GOING TO REALIZE I'M DULL AND WALK AWAY...

The boat docks and I stand abruptly.

"Well, I should get in line. Your name?" and he tells me, and then I shook. his. hand. WTF?!?!? And then I walked away. SO BAD. Didn't have the balls to, perhaps, ask for a number, or give him a chance to ask for mine. Didn't ask him, hey, I might take the 8:30 ferry back, will I see you? I GAVE MYSELF NO OPPORTUNITY TO SEE CUTE GUY AGAIN.

Ok, you're thinking, come on. This is one guy. One time. But I don't know, there was something about him. And I ruined it by being nervous.

Well, at least I know where he works. Should I go stalk his life on the ferry, or is that just too desperate?

Monday, March 21, 2011

What are you, stupid?

For years, adults have called our generation, among other RUDE things, entitled. Entitled became the hot button issue when it came to discussing this generation (do we have a name? is it Generation Me? that's aptly done) and opinion touted psychological and sociological research that proved we were selfish, lazy, puffed up by our parents convincing us (and themselves) that we were all gifted and special and smart, puffed up by our teachers telling us that if we just wanted something enough, the world would eventually give it to us. And, in trying to find our way in the world, we vehemently tried to dispel the notion that we were selfish, lazy and entitled to the world on a string. What was the harm in having faith in ourselves? What was the harm in knowing that we were special and full of ideas?

Yet, when the economy came crashing down around us, and we graduated from our various colleges and universities, we still believed we deserved the best. Yep, that's right. The attitude of an entire new workforce is this: "I totally, like, deserve this job, because, like, my parents paid TONS of money for me to go to a really fancy school, and I dress really nice. And my teachers told me I was smart. And I'M NOT A SECRETARY, I'M NOT A SECRETARY, I STUDIED ECONOMICS!!! EFF YOU, MAKE YOUR OWN PHONECALLS, BOSSMAN/BOSSLADY. PAY ME 75K TO START, NOW!"

Do you understand now, why all adults speak so lowly of our entitlement? Everyone thinks they deserve the job, but the reality is, everyone who is employed is very lucky to have a job. I feel lucky every day. Is my job exciting? No. Is my job stimulating? No. Is it the job I want? No. But I am employed, and I intend to stay that way, and do my best. Do I deserve more? Not right now. I make mistakes. I won't pretend I don't. They're small mistakes that seem to not matter, but they do. Very, very much. And when you make little mistakes, it just further proves to everyone how incompetent you really are. A few papers that needed to be signed were accidently left on your desk for nearly a week amid other various papers? Disorganized. That email you sent that said Tuesday, January 18, 2010 instead of Tuesday, January 18, 2011? Doesn't pay close enough attention. One of the presentations was mistakenly left off the Board Meeting computer? Doesn't care about boss's reputation. Back-up files were scanned crooked the first week of your new job, before you really got the hang of the scanner? Incompetent, no regard for the importance of these backup files.

Mistakes which prompt your boss to think, what are you, stupid?

I don't know about anyone else, but my first professional job has been the most humbling experience of my life. I've learned that I'm really not the victim of adult criticism, but just the stupid (albeit lucky) kid they've decided to hire and train. Every time I make a dumb mistake, it negates nearly everything I've done right--but it makes me want to work harder. I've realized that my education and what I studied and my passions and dreams have next to nothing to do with anything that goes on in a corporate office. Having a diploma only means that you did enough school work to graduate. It doesn't guarantee that you'll understand how to work in an office, and it doesn't mean you don't have to be trained.

Rules of thumb for everyone: Don't make your boss look bad. Take on as much as you can. There will be days when you feel useful, and other days when you'll feel worthless. You, mister entitled, better get over yourself. There's always going to be learning to do. But you already knew this, didnt you? That's right. I forgot. You do deserve a better job.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

blog formula

This just in. I'm gonna write a how-to guide. It's gonna change the lives of millions. Listen up, people! Everyone wants to be a blogger (despite the fact that a dear friend of mine recently had the sentiment that blogging is so last year.) So what? Who cares if you're behind the trend? Lucky for YOU, there is a very distinct formula you can follow. It may not guarantee your success, but if you follow these guidelines and add enough foof, YOU CAN BE A BLOGGER TOO!!!!

Blog Module #1: the college blog
Blog posts should look like this:
Today I got up, had yummy fruit and cereal (with skim milk!!!) for breakfast. AND THEN I WAS SO BUSY. I WENT TO CLASS. I HAD SOME KIND OF PRACTICE. I DRANK SOME COFFEE. Then I was so tired that I took a nap, and skipped lunch!!! Oops! Then my bff and I baked cupcakes for our cute boyfriends' fraternity! Here are some pixxxx!!!!!
p.s. this weekend I'm gonna go out with my friends and maybe have a few drinks and maybe get a little tipsy???? (IDK but my mom reads this blog. HEY MOM! OH! and here's a picture of her...isn't she cute??? don't you just LOVE her Lilly Pulizter dress????) I'll make sure to post some pictures on Sunday after the Sorority Bakesale. Can't wait to hear about YOUR weekends!!! {Said with sarcasm, because this blogger KNOWS her weekend will trump everyone else's}

Blog module #2: the mom blog
Hey everyone! We have been so busy! First, watch this video of my really cute 2 month old lifting his head! You're sooooo cute my little chicken nugget butt!!!! OMG, don't I have the cutest kids? Here's some pictures of them taken with my REALLY EXPENSIVE Digital SLR camera my super rich hubby bought me for Valentine's day. I KNOW...AWWWWW!!! Look at  my outfit! It's all from Anthropologie, no big. LOVE THAT STORE! Can we all agree that I have an AWESOME LIFE???
But seriously, sometimes being a stay at home mom is SO HARD. Between poopy diapers, and cooking food, and cleaning, I don't even put a bra on some days! I KNOW IM SO FUNNY AND HONEST, THAT's WHY YOU READ ME!!!!
But then I just think about GOD and everything is A-O-K (especially if my husband comes home and I get laid, hehehehe).
Speaking of cooking: look at these pictures of the delicious 5 course dinner I cooked last night! YUM YUM!!! My kids LOOOOVE VEGGIES!!!! And look at the whole wheat uber organic very very healthy double double flourless CHOCOLATE CAKE I made!!! We're so healthy and alternative!!! My babies wear cloth diapers, so should everyone elses!
Don't forget about my giveaway of the engraved copper spoons from Etsy! Truly an awesome keepsake! I've got three sets!

Blog Module #3: the decorating blog
Look at this room, isn't it pretty
Look at this couch, isn't it pretty
Look at this mirror, isn't it pretty
Look at this piano, isnt it pretty
Look at this bedspread
Look at this bathroom
Look at this kitchen
Look at these placemats
Look at these towels
Look at these
Look at

Blog module #4: the healthy blog
I LOVE RUNNING!!! But I'm so fat. Let's talk about what we ate today!!!!! Today, I ate some cottage cheese, an apple, and a piece of bread (bad girl!!!) and then for dinner I ate some broccoli. This morning I worked out with my trainer and ran 10 miles!!! My toenails are starting to fall off!!! And work is boring and hard. But when I'm stressed I just exercise and DO I LOOK OK IN THIS MIRROR PIC? I'M IN MY RUNNING OUTFIT!
ps...excuse the poor picture quality, it was taken with my iPhone 4.

Blog module #5: the dude blog
Sup, guys. Here's how to hit on the ladies. Guess how much I drank this weekend. One time I shit my pants and it was so funny, and I'm ballsy because I'm writing about it in public. I'm a lawyer/in law school/have a really bro job, but at heart I'm a writer. Look at this picture I took. Aren't I artsy and angsty? I know it makes you want to sleep with me.

Satisfaction guaranteed!!!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sometimes, when watching TV, I think about weird things

I'm on a serious Mad Men kick right now. Like, serious serious. A la Harry Potter and Mormon Blogs. Can't stop...won't stop. I started watching this show when it was in it's second season and subsequently bought the first season on itunes. Needless to say, the habit has continued. I'm so obsessed. I do love TV. I was a huge fan of the OC back in the day, watched The Practice (a way-too-old-for-me legal show that took place in Boston) every.single.night. (it was in syndication). The summer I was fifteen, I watched two episodes of Dawson's Creek every morning (it was also in syndication), followed by the episode of ER that directly followed. I love Jersey Shore. God help me if there's a marathon of 16 and Pregnant or its evil spawn (I'm so punny) Teen Mom.

But sometimes I wonder things.

Like, when a woman takes of her high heels with a guy present: "don't her feet stink? how can he still be turned on?" or maybe I'm the only girl on the planet with smelly feet after work. And along those same lines, when people kiss passionately (especially in the morning, or directly after eating): "what if your breath stinks?"(Didn't you know that guys are lining up outside my apartment waiting for me? Stinky foot bad breath girl.)

Maybe I'm a cynic and, while I watch these shows, simply don't buy into them. I can't tell you how many times in a lawyer show the argument the lawyer is making would be totally inadmissable, heresay, badgering the witness, and all sorts of other courtroom fraud. "Objection" in a real courtroom is said so often that it fails to be a point of interest, but in TV shows its a spectacle: YOUR HONOR, OBJECTION!!! is just not how it's done in real life. And don't even get me started on all of the horrific accidents that happen on medical shows like Grey's Anatomy. It is so statistically rare that of the 5 surgical interns all working together, one would "drown" and live, another would get stage 4 OMGZZZ YER GONNA DIE cancer and live, and then another would get hit by a bus and die. In real life, they probably all would have died, and then the hospital would be deemed cursed because so many of their doctors are killed in freak accidents.

But I also wonder other thing like: how is it, Don Draper, that we've seen you drink like 7 scotches, four martinis, and smoke three packs of luckies and you can STILL drive home and/or get it up?

Betty looks like she smells like a dozen really expensive roses, and everyone sure acts like she does, but how does she NOT smell like a stubbed out ciggie butt?

This post has been pointless.
Its accidentally been a lot about smelly stuff. And my obsession with television.
What? not much is happening in my life right now.