What this is all about...

A quarter life crisis is a real thing. I know this because myself, and my best girlfriends, are going through it right now. This blog is dedicated to the day to day banalities/craziness of those quarter life crises. For those of you with questions, the qlc is when you realize that you have to be Responsible. It is when the job you accept is the beginning of a Career Path. It is when the guy/girl you date might be The One. It is when you get pushed out of the nest and you have to flap your wings enough to cushion the fall. Perhaps your thirties are when you get to fly?
The question isn't who is going to let me; 
it's who is going to stop me.
-Ayn Rand

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I hope Halloween weekend gave everyone a break from your QLC meltdowns. For my American friends, I’m sure you are all nursing your Halloween Hangovers while watching scary movies today. For my international friends, if you did go to a costume party then join the hangover club, but if Halloween is just October 31st to you, then at least eat a piece of candy in honor of the great Trick-or-Treating tradition.

While nursing your hangover and deciding how to tell me that you got more action dressed as a penguin than you do dressed as yourself - wander through Texts from Last Night and Badger Shout-Outs. Here are some of my personal favorites from today:
  • Shout-out to hooking up with Mr. Rogers last night! Of course I'll be your neighbor!
  • Shout-out to the girl dressed as the BP oil spill Friday night.
  • Anti shout-out to the girl that bitched me out for wearing my blind referee costume. I wasn't making fun of blind people and clearly you don't get the joke. Lighten up, it's halloween.
  • Dude, we took our shirts off and set our chest hair on fire. That's a low point.
  • Just took 11th shot of tequila. I may puke in my bear head.
  • careful of the bathroom.... theres some drunken ninja turtles in there....
  • They're here. One showed up as a slutty Crayola, and I think the other came as The Fat Friend.
  • i feel like i was in a swimming pool of captain and coke and had to drink my way out
  • He's sobering up. It was really bad for like 45 minutes. He cried while telling me how he pictured us eating hotdogs on the beach together.

As my own Halloween wasn’t so great, I thought I would give you guys a chance to talk about your own experiences. Jen got creative being a treasure chest, and I’m anxiously waiting to hear how my friends dressed up as Candy Land characters fared. What did you dress up as last night? Any epic adventures to report? At least tell me about how you saw a Sexy Bumblebee punch a Zombie. Or how a group dressed as the cast of Glee broke into song and dance at your favorite bar. Give me something!

I'm off to dress up as a German Beer Wench and hand out candy to kids....wish me luck!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

There Are No Calories In Cookies When You Are Sad

For better or worse, I am the type of person who makes quick decisions, gets ridiculously excited about them, then crashes hard when a wrench is thrown in the plan. I make my decisions, and then work out the details instead of the other way around. Sometimes this doesn’t work out so well and I find myself slipping into a depression coma brought on by a lost future, white wine, and lots of chocolate chip cookies.

I have always gotten lost in daydreams. I’m the friend who has to be talked back from the ledge after breakups because at some point after the third date I’ve decided he is perfect and we could get married. As most girls know, there is always that period between the third date and six months where life is wonderful – usually due to the fact that no one is showing their true colors and you haven’t met each others families. Then one day you find yourself as a date to a nightmare wedding or watching your boyfriend play video games for two hours. That day plants the seed of doubt in your lovesick brain. As we get older and relationships become more serious, it becomes easier to tune out that voice in your head (or the voices from your best girlfriends) that say, “He is not the right guy for you.” Wonderful families, expensive Christmas presents, and the memory of the time he brought you flowers when your childhood pet died usually help keep the internal earmuffs on. So does the horrifying realization that you have spent X amount of time with the guy and you don’t want to give all that up.

Edie, my funny British friend, once equated long relationships with waiting in line to see Michelangelo’s David. She enthusiastically joins the line, excited to see the famous sculpture. An hour into the wait she starts to question if it really worth it, her reasoning being that she is not an art major and she is getting kind of hungry. Two hours into it, strangers begin to argue about the line and she is hungrier. Three hours in and people are in full blown Line Rage, looking accusingly at anyone not in their group and picking fights with neighbors. Now she thinks her stomach is going to digest itself. But at this point she has waited three whole hours, time she will never get back, and she doesn’t want to quit. Four hours passes and she is still waiting. This is her breaking point - time to cut her losses and find some food. She’ll come back another day.

It is always hard to lose the future you planned, even when you didn’t know you were planning it. It doesn’t matter if you imagined yourself spending the afternoon with famous sculptures or the rest of your life with your high school boyfriend, when something falls apart you realize you need a New Plan. I find that it is easier to develop the New Plan with the assistance of alcohol and sweets. Yesterday it was wine and cookies. Some days it is a beer and gelato. I have a friend who dislikes sweets so she has a margarita with chips and salsa. You don’t always need booze either – one friend gave up drinking for Lent so she would drink tea with cookies. Whatever it is that gets you to your Happy Place.

My Old Plan was to move to Italy and get a visa to stay over the usual 90 days. Yesterday that dream dissolved and I was back to square one. I poured myself some wine, ate some chocolate chip cookies and started to brainstorm the New Plan. Where to live? What type of job to work? Why am I always asking myself the same questions?!?!?!

As I reached for my 5th cookie (homemade so I couldn’t read a calorie count) I remembered that Paige once told me there are no calories in cookies when you are sad. Now those are words to live by.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Game of Life, QLC Edition - Kay's Adventures

A few weeks ago Kay ran into an obstacle that terrifies me. She had to buy a new car. Well, a new-to-her car. Her giant 1997 Ford Explorer finally died, spending its final moments limping into the Firestone near her apartment. If we were walking around on the Game of Life, QLC Edition’s game board, this would begin her epic adventure into the Mechanic Mud Pit and Car Salesman Forest.

The square after landing on “Your car dies on the way to a weekend work event, good luck!” would be “You learn how to take the bus to work and it takes 1½  hours, lose a turn.” This is the point where she enters the Mechanic Mud Pit and finds herself in the type of mud that sucks animals in and preserves them for millions of years. She takes decisive action and asks Firestone to run a diagnostic test. The mechanic tells her it is the car battery. Great! She bought a new battery less than a year ago from Meineke and has a warranty. She calls Meineke and tells them her car is at Firestone, could she meet them there to have them look at the battery? They agree – yay!

Except she is in the Mechanic Mud Pit and apparently that translates to, “Please tow my car, park it in the handicapped spot in your parking lot, which is nowhere near where I live or work, and run another diagnostic.” She gets a phone call later in the day explaining that it is not the battery, it’s something else that will be very expensive but do not worry, they can fix it! Not only is she stunned to learn that her car has been moved miles without her consent, but now she has to figure out who is telling the truth. What is wrong with her car?

She calls Meineke and informs them that she decided not to fix it, she will sell it and buy a new-to-her car. Trust me, she has put a lot of money into the Explorer and it was time to send it to the magical place wherever Cash for Clunkers cars go.  “No problem,” says King of Mechanic Mud Pit, “just come get your car before we close tonight.” TRICKY since they towed it miles from where she lives and oh yeah, it doesn’t work. She tells them all this and their reply? “Well, you can’t leave it here. It is in a handicapped spot and we can have it ticketed.” For those of you who were reading closely, Meineke was the one that left it in their handicapped spot, not her.

I’ll speed ahead here to say that she sold it to a guy who has some interest in old vehicles. At that point she had been in tears more than once and just wanted out of the Mechanic Mud Pit. She drew the “Sold Your Clunker! Proceed to Car Salesman Forest” card and advances one weekend. She dives head first into researching possible new-to-her cars. I told her I was proud of her – I don’t even know where to start in terms of looking for cars, but there she was, doing research and deciding which car lots to visit.

For any of those who went to my high school, you will remember a certain young Theology teacher we had who believes in unicorns (she said that, I am not making it up.) The one thing I remember from that class is when she told us to always bring a guy with us when we go to buy a car. Kay would agree to that now too. She was reduced to tears several more times as she dealt with people she was certain were lying to her face, talking above her head on purpose, and basically making her feel like a girl lost in the woods with wolves on the loose. Think the beginning of Beauty and the Beast.

Kay is a tough southern girl though, and she didn’t break down and buy a car from a dealership she didn’t trust. At this point her boyfriend came through and contacted his friend who worked at a Mazda dealership in town. The friend introduced her to a sales guy in his dealership who she finally felt comfortable talking with. He listened when she told him her price range and explained all the ridiculous sales jargon that normal 23 year olds do not know. In the end, she drove off the lot (and out of the forest) in a leased Mazda 6.

Good job Kay! You survived the Mechanic Mud Pit and Car Salesman Forest! Proceed to Happy Hour!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dear Men: This is an Attempt to Describe PMS

Today I found myself attempting to explain PMS to My Husband. Here is the description I came up with: 
Imagine that you have spent the last 17 hours on flights and dealing with airport delays. While on the last plane they ran out of food and couldn't feed you - but other people got something to eat and you can see them eating! Then when you arrive at your destination the airline has lost your luggage. And finally, you realize the cab driver is screwing you over on the fare to your hotel. 



Guys, does that help? I tried to put it in terms you could understand!
Girls, what do you think? If you have a different description a guy can relate to feel free to post!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Guest Post: Rachel's QLC

My friend Rachel has begun to question her career, even though she has a great entry level marketing position. I’ll let her tell you - in her own words - what happened when she went searching for her true passion, while still working at her QLC job:

I've always thought that I wanted to go into sports marketing or advertising. So when I landed a job at a communications firm with a very prestigious client list, I was ecstatic. Without getting too specific, I work for a really well known client and buy advertising space for them. It's a job that most people I know would kill for, and after two weeks I realized that I have no interest in it at all. I was looking at my supervisor, thinking that I could have her job in a few years (which is pretty much just my job with more responsibilities) when I realized that that would suck. It's funny how I always thought I wanted to do this, and now that I'm actually doing it, I don't enjoy it. And, even if I end up in sports, it'd be the same situation.

Cue panic attack. I have no idea what to do with my life. So I spent a few days going over all the careers I had ever considered, picking them apart to figure out if any of them seemed like a good idea. Fortunately, the exercise proved successful. Ever since the 7th grade, I've wanted to be a teacher. I always thought of it as a stupid idea, although I'm not sure why, because it's really not at all! For example: I'd get to work with people, I'd get to deal with subject matter I love (I'm a huge history nerd), I'd get to be creative, and I'd get to experience changes (new students) and stability (same classes) at the same time... It's brilliant. So, I've decided to quit my job in a few months and go to grad school to pursue my Master's in Education.

In order to make sure that this wasn't just some idiotic romanticized idea that I had, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to my high school for a day and observe. I called up two of my former teachers whom I still keep in touch with, and they were thrilled. Actually, one of them, Andrea, literally said, "I was wondering when we'd have this conversation, I always knew you'd end up being a teacher." So I decided to go in on a Friday that I didn't have to work. Now, let me back up just a minute. My supervisor (who I love) is engaged, and her fiancé, Jason, happens to teach at my old high school. I know this because Supervisor told me on my first day when she found out my hometown. Now, I've never met Jason, I've just seen pictures of him in Supervisor's office. And I know his name is Jason.

Fast forward to Friday. I'm at my old high school and I can't wipe the smile off my face. This is perfect. Great idea, Rachel. Midway through the day, Andrea had a period off and we went down the hall to grade some tests. I'm completely engrossed in our conversation, chatting her ear off about my life, when all of a sudden she pauses and says "Oh, Rachel, I want you to meet someone! Jason, this is Rachel!" I freeze, slowly turn around, horrified grin plastered on my face, and look into the eyes of Jason, my supervisor's fiancé. He just happened to be sitting out in the hall for hall duty. He smiled, shook my hand, and asked me what I was doing back at school. Thank God Andrea jumped in and excitedly told him about my life plan, because I couldn't even think. MY CURRENT SUPERVISOR’S FIANCE WAS ASKING ME QUESTIONS ABOUT MY DESIRE TO LEAVE MY JOB AND HAD NO IDEA MY BOSS WAS HIS FUTURE WIFE. Seriously, he kept telling me what a great idea it was, encouraging me to follow my dreams, completely unaware that he was really saying, "Yeah, totally screw over my fiancé!" Then, Andrea announces she's going to the bathroom and will be right back. I am now alone with Jason.

Here's the thing: I'm not exactly proud of it, but I'm a pretty good liar. "You're the best I've ever had," "No Dad, I didn't drink your beer," "They didn't cut your hair too short, it looks great!" whatever. But if Jason would have asked me where I currently worked, I was so panicked I literally could not think of a lie. Not even to say The Gap. Through some miracle of God, he didn't ask. In fact, he was really helpful. Which made me feel AWFUL. I literally just stood there and nodded/shook my head to his questions due to my severe dry mouth. Finally, Andrea came back and we left Jason in the hall. As soon as we returned to her room, my secret came up like word vomit. Andrea just about died laughing. What in the hell are the odds of that happening? I was basically on a pseudo-job interview, and was partially interviewed by my current boss' fiance, who had no idea. Oh, and then, the following week we went to a concert for work, and who decides to invite their fiancé??? THAT’S RIGHT. Instead of spending the night enjoying the concert, I spent my time James Bonding around the venue so I wouldn't have to talk to him. Not that he'd remember me, but why would I risk that? "Hey, didn't I meet you somewhere before? OH YEAH! You're the chick who wants to quit her job!" Uh, no thanks.

So that's my tale of  fiancé-dodging. I'm currently in the graduate school application process, and so far so good. Luck is fortunately on my side, for now!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"I Drink, You Get Drunk" ... One Night as a Siamese Twin


Last Saturday I had the pleasure of being ½ of a Siamese twin act for a circus party. I’m not even sure how I was roped into doing it, but in the end it was one of the funniest/most embarrassing things I have ever done. For some of my international friends, Siamese twins are conjoined twins – in this case we were joined at the arm. Sit back and relax, I’m going to walk you through the events…

My friend Gina and I agreed to be the Siamese twins for the Atomic Cowboy’s 5th birthday party. It’s a fun bar that often puts on burlesque shows and is known for being wild and crazy. They decided to go all out and do a circus themed birthday party - and go all out they did! They hired circus performers to do everything from trapeze to strongman acts. They also organized a “Freak Show” that partygoers could gawk at, modeled after those of the old circus days in America. Three times that evening people would walk through the show, stopping first to see a faceless mermaid, then the bearded lady, on to Medusa with a live snake wrapped around her, then us, the Siamese twins, and finally a twenty minute strongman act.

When we arrived for work we wandered about awhile, checking out the circus games and other performances going on at the party. We finally made it upstairs to the dressing room where we met the girls playing the other parts of the “Freak Show.” Medusa looked fabulous; she was wearing a sexy green outfit from her belly dancing shows and had her hair piled up in a Marie Antoinette style complete with tiny, fake snakes weaving in and out of the curls. The bearded lady costume was great too – she had a Gone with the Wind type dress (think southern belle with a giant hoop skirt) and parasol to make her look as demure and feminine as possible, while of course sporting a beard and mustache. The faceless mermaid costume was terrifying – it was a gold body suit that stretched from fins on the bottom to fabric that she pulled up to entirely cover her face. Gina and I wore red kimonos that someone had sewn together at the arms, along with matching black wigs. At 8pm we took our places for the first show.

As all first performances go, there were some problems. For one, the guy who was bringing the snake to drape around Medusa didn’t show up, so she basically just sat in her chair staring meanly at people who walked by her booth. The faceless mermaid didn’t want to get into her tank of water yet since it was cold and she didn’t want to sit around in a wet, cold costume for three hours in between shows. The bearded lady only had her beard as her roommate hadn’t shown up with her mustache yet. Gina and I didn’t have any costume issues, but we also didn’t have a clue what we were supposed to do during our act. Should we interact with people? Should we pretend to argue like real Siamese twins might? What should we do?! To complicate matters, we were standing under these bright red lights that made it impossible to see out past our booth. We could see feet as people walked by, but had no idea who was in front of us. We gave up figuring out what to do and just did our best to keep a straight face while attempting to watch the faceless mermaid off to our right, and the strongman act to the left.

The last stunt the strongman performed was absolutely terrifying. He lay upon a bed of nails and placed a plate on his stomach. He then had an assistant throw a bowling ball onto the plate. He would amaze us by not becoming impaled on the nails. Right before the assistant threw the ball I had a flash of us being an episode of CSI. I could see it perfectly – something would go wrong with the stunt and he would die instantly as a nail pierced his heart. The police would swarm the “Freak Show” and interview us still in costume. Gina and I would be connected and say something along the lines of, “We couldn’t really see anything because of the lights,” and the faceless mermaid would be de-masked in front of everyone and use her interview as a way to vent about being claustrophobic in her suit. Then the ball landed on the strong man and he popped back up – completely alive and well. I guess no CSI that night after all.

Between performances, Gina, the faceless mermaid and I would strip off our costumes and run to the bar for a shot. I quickly made friends with one of the bartenders and he made sure we never had to wait since hello! we obviously needed some booze to make the show better! And yes, it did get better. Before the second performance the guy arrived with a live anaconda to wrap around Medusa, the roommate delivered the mustache, and of course, the faceless mermaid and twins drank at the bar. We took our places again and had a much more interesting show. Loosened up a bit, Gina and I thought everything about our situation was getting more and more ridiculous, and we even let people step into our booth and take photos with us. The downside was that we were right after Medusa. Partygoers who were completely amped up about seeing a gigantic live snake then got to us and were disappointed that we weren’t actually twins. Gina came up with a great answer, “We have different dads.” People would wander off completely confused while I tried my best not to collapse in laughter.

Before the third performance the bucket of beer I requested be placed in the dressing room miraculously appeared. I should seriously be on a list of People with a Talent to Get Free Stuff. While we grabbed PBRs, my new bartender friend entered with shots for us. YESSSS! Flash forward to the third show, which coincidently was the best of the night. The owner of Atomic Cowboy was hilarious and came by a few times to make us laugh. We were well into our act as arguing twins and Gina was cracking me up every few minutes. She kept telling people that she wanted to undergo an operation to separate us, but that I wouldn’t sign the forms and I was therefore holding her hostage. Anyone who asked about our lives got an answer along the lines of, “She smiles, I frown. I laugh, she cries. I drink, she gets drunk.”

The faceless mermaid was getting more into the act as well. This time she jumped into her tank of water to wave at people. Unfortunately, she almost died because she couldn’t see through the mask and had a minor freak out when she needed to surface for air. In addition, the guy in charge of the snake apparently decided to join the show.  He whipped out a baby alligator and scorpions from nowhere and stood talking with people who were supposed to be admiring Medusa. I named him Steve because he was dressed in Steve Irwin impersonator clothes (I later discovered his name WAS Steve, damn I am good) and get this – he holds the Guinness World Record for holding a scorpion in his mouth the longest. WHAT?!

The third performance of course flew by and we all sprinted to the dressing room to change into our normal clothes. We made it outside in time to see an amazing aerial tissu act which was strangely erotic (unfortunately the guy with the perfect body was gay – sigh) while totally riveting.  I couldn’t get a photo of them – but for those of you wondering what aerial tissu is, here is a photo I found from the St. Louis company, Belle of the Ball to give you an idea:

All in all, our time as freaks at the Atomic Cowboy circus was exciting and wonderfully embarrassing. I became better friends with Gina and found out how funny she is. I met several people who weren’t afraid to let a live anaconda wrap itself around them. I met a world record holder who is weirdly into scorpions. I learned that you should not jump into water with your face fully covered and no use of your feet (ok, I kind of already knew that) and I discovered that $20/hr and free drinks is my going rate for letting someone label me a freak for the night. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Joining Happy Hour Anonymous ... surviving your QLC job

One of the biggest problems with being in your younger twenties is most of the jobs we will get are nowhere close to being a dream job. I lucked out – I absolutely loved my first job out of college. Granted, the position consisted of going to bars and buying beers for consumers, but it blossomed nicely into event planning and marketing within the company. As I’ve posted before though, it was not my passion and eventually I burned out – leading me to search for the elusive dream job once again.

Here is a short list of some of the un-dream job situations my friends currently have:

Kay searched for three months before finding her current full time position. She does local marketing for a nation wide company and she is amazing at it. A bit of bragging here: her numbers are the best in the region! She really enjoys the marketing aspects of her position, but the daily frustrations from the company are becoming a bit too much for her.  For example, the computer they gave her died and they promised her a new one. It’s been a few weeks now and she still doesn’t have it. Then they announced that they were reorganizing the entire company. Wonderful! What entry level employee doesn’t go numb and reach for the closest bottle of vodka when they get that news? She had to re-interview, but being that she is the best in the region, she was rehired and is currently learning her new position. Which is difficult seeing as they won’t have any training manuals until November, and she still does not have her own computer. And what about that raise she was promised last April? She did have the guts to ask about it when they got to the “compensation” part of her interview. (I was very impressed since most of us still cringe when it comes to telling perspective employers what our salary expectations are.) They told her they would look into it. In my opinion, asking her to reapply may not have been their brightest move since it forced her to update her resume…

Isabella works for a large pharmaceutical company doing basic lab work. She was very excited when she started there; it is a well-known company and she has the option to transfer to San Diego within a few years if she chooses. She jumped in with both feet, completely positive and willing to do whatever it takes. It’s been a year or so and the tides have turned. For one thing, her coworkers act as if they are in high school, forming cliques and gossiping non-stop. That situation, coupled with the fact that she has to perform some unsavory tasks involving animals (she loves all animals) has led her to begin a new job search.  She thought it would be easy to work there for a couple years before asking for that location transfer - now she can barely stand the idea of staying another month.  

Brie and Kate are both paralegals. They work for different firms in different cities. They also entered the position from different paths; Brie thought she wanted to be a lawyer and Kate thought it sounded interesting in school. Now they are both looking for a way out and jobs that are more than a paycheck. Brie is considering going back to school but isn’t quite sure what she wants to study. Kate has been talking about attending night school and thinks she would like to do something with numbers. She is the only person I know who actually has said the sentence, “I just really like math.” Both of these girls walked in to the first day on the job thinking, “This is what I want to do right now.” The job didn’t change, but they did.

We don’t just wake up one day as members of Happy Hour Anonymous, scanning craigslist posts with our computer screen tilted sideways. It is the gradual evolution of a twenty-something due to working extra hours for no extra money. Good thing for you, most everyone you know is in the same boat. A sense of camaraderie develops and the soothing mantra, “It’s just a bad day” is announced every day promptly at 6pm while searching for alcohol in your freezer. However, the day you tell your roommate, “I want – no I need - a new job,” is the day you can set yourself free. When you realize that the job you poured your blood, sweat and (literally) tears into, is not the job you thought it was – OR more likely - it was the job you thought it was, but now two years has passed and the thought of one more day sends you off to the nearest bar for a lunch break tequila shot – you can do something about your circumstances and find a company that makes you happy (and pays you for working weekends.) Until then, embrace Happy Hour. Odds are that somebody there had a bad day too.

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
-T.S. Eliot

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Move or Not To Move....My Own QLC

I have been home for a little more than a month now. I spend most of my time working out, reading, messaging friends on Facebook or Goodreads, working strange jobs, and using/abusing Skype. That is probably 95% of what I do with my time. Oh, and I watch Glee.

Ever since I left Europe I have been jonesing to go back. However, the same thing happened to me when I left Thailand for Italy. I couldn’t tell people enough times that they must go tube the Vang Vieng, climb around on Angkor Wat, or scale Adam’s Peak. When I look at my conversations now, I still include those stories, but I also mention jet skiing in Croatia, tasting gelato in Italy, and eating kebabs at 5am anywhere you can find them. When I arrived in Italy, I announced to everyone that it was my goal to be living and working in Thailand within 5 years. Now I find myself seriously considering a semi-permanent move to Italy.

One of my friends decided that I have no idea what I want in life and basically did everything but tell me to settle down and get a job. He implied it though. I appreciated his advice, and considered it for a week. Unfortunately, it just didn’t sound like me. I don’t mind working; in fact, I love to be busy and sometimes overbook myself with part time jobs. But the idea of re-entering the corporate world horrifies me. I think it is magnified by the fact that I know how people earn a living in other parts of the world. I spent months upon months listening in fascination to Aussies, Kiwis, Brits, Austrians, Norwegians, French, etc, etc tell me about their holidays and/or year-off traveling adventures. After six months I was still stupefied when I met someone on a three week holiday and then found out that they still had more vacation days to use when they got home! These people had upwards of a five weeks off! I had 5 days at my last company and worked most weekends. No wonder I was completely stressed. Europeans, Aussies, and Kiwis have it figured out – take a holiday! A real one!

Most you probably wonder why I am stressed out these days since I do not have a full time job to complain about, nor a zillion bills to pay. But I am stressed out. A lot. I have the following questions to answer: Where do I want to live? What do I want to do? How can I visit my girlfriends because I miss them?!

Here are the answers I came up with…they are not very specific, but they are the best I can do for this moment in my life:
  • I want to live in Europe, preferably in Italy. I already have the apartment picked out and know where the nearest bar is located. I also know how to get to the train station, which means I can easily get to other cities and the airport so I can visit my friends when I need to! I also like my roommate there :)
  •  I want to be either a travel writer, or a tour guide for a travel company. I love writing and I love traveling, therefore the jobs make perfect sense and would keep me happy! Ideally, I’d like to travel to places I haven’t been before – but at the moment I would just like to be back in a country where I wonder what people are saying and what type of food they are selling on the street corner.
  •  I will try to see as many of my friends as possible before leaving for Europe again. Then I will force them all to come and visit me in wonderful Italy! Or in any other European country they want to visit because I can easily meet them there – yay for the European train system!


For those of you who do not feel an intense need to travel, you may not understand that I need a fix. I am completely addicted. If you have never traveled to another country (Canada does not count unless you live in Europe…in which case, why did you visit Canada?!) then give it a try soon! It may seem scary, but there are so many ways to do it that you can find a way that works for you and have fun! I just love the excitement of a new country – tasting new foods, trying out foreign words, and losing myself in the street scenes of ordinary life. I just cannot give that up right now. I have to go back. 
A view from our apartment in Sacile, Italy

Monday, October 11, 2010

“Being 24 and Single…SUCKS!” Marisa’s QLC



If you are a girl I guarantee you will identify with some part of this story. If you are a guy, feel free to comment on what might be going on here!

Marisa moved back here after a two year post-grad hiatus from the Midwest. During that time she had one great relationship and one typical get-back-with-an-ex-rebound relationship. She is now back on the market and enjoying all the pitfalls of dating guys in their early twenties. Here is a short recap of last weekend in her dating life. I changed some details to protect the guy's identity, although I really don’t know why I bothered.

This weekend everyone (except me because I had to work!) went to Madison for Homecoming. The girls had a great day tailgating and headed out to the bars at night. They went to Mondays, a notorious drunk bar, where Paige and Marisa played the “yes, no” game. This is when one person picks a random guy at the bar and based on appearance you have to decide if you would hook up with him or not. To make a long story short, the one guy Marisa did say “yes” about ended up hitting on her five minutes later and then following her around for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, Mr. Yes wasn’t that great once they started talking and she made it quite clear, several times in fact, that they were staying with a friend and leaving early. Here I have to insert her version because she phrased it wonderfully:
I realize when you meet people at bars there is an obvious motive involved, so I tried to make it clear that yes, they're invited to follow us to another bar, and to Qdoba, and to sit on a Abe Lincon’s lap...but I'm just not that into you. He tried to hold my hand at one point, and I blatantly let go. Sometimes I would just walk away from him. Regardless, they followed us to get food when the bars closed, followed us up Bascom Hill and hoisted us up onto Abe’s lap, and even took pictures for us … When that was done, we were at the halfway point between their car and where we were staying. So we obviously had to part ways. I felt bad that we brought them so far from their car, but we had given them plenty of opportunities to split off.  I was flattered, thinking "Wow, this guy must really like me if he's following us all over hell like this when he knows he's not getting any.” Like I said, the guy wasn't really a catch, but seemed nice enough that if we were in the same city, I'd consider hanging out again. We exchanged phone numbers and when I got home, I sent him a text that said, "Thanks for helping us climb onto Abe.  Let me know if you ever come down here to visit!" His response? (brace yourself for this one):

"Of course.  I love hanging out with cock teases!  Maybe next weekend you can follow me around for two hours and then go home alone."

Ok, back to my recap. Did anyone else NOT SEE THAT COMING?! I sat there speechless, mouth agape when I heard that. Of course Marisa was upset – she had made it abundantly clear that nothing was going to happen that night. It was the twenty something question…If you talk to a guy in a bar, is he going to think that you want to sleep with him? Boys, sometimes we just want to talk! And to all those guys who aren’t thinking that – there are a few jerks out there totally ruining it for you. I do think that it is one thing when girls completely use guys to buy them drinks; it doesn’t justify them thinking they get to sleep with them, but it does put the idea in mind that maybe they will get something in return for that money they are spending. But just talking? Spending time with someone? When did that become a silent agreement to become something more than friends?

A note to the guys out there: what happened to meeting a girl and asking for her number? I find it completely refreshing when a guy goes about getting to know me in that (is it old fashioned?) way. I can tell you that my single girlfriends would go on a date with a guy who was respectful and politely asked to see them again over those who creeped on them all night. If you want to buy a girl a drink then go ahead and offer, but do so knowing that there won’t be a sexual return on that $7. Again, to those guys who are not like these jerks Marisa and Paige met this weekend – I am sorry you have to make up for all they do wrong. I asked Marisa if she was going to go out this weekend and she said she was afraid anyone she met would just assume she wanted him. I feel the same way being new in my city – how do you know the good ones from the bad ones?

Marisa didn’t take the evil text too much to heart. Here’s the end of this weekend’s story:
On the bright side, I requested more information from DeVry University for him.  According to Paige, this means he will get 2 phone calls per day from them for the next few months, encouraging him to go back to school. I guess DeVry employees are nothing if not persistent. I hope he has a decent cell phone plan!


If you have thoughts on this topic, let us know! To my international girlfriends, do you have the same trouble with your guys? 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pro/Con

For those of you who don’t know – I spent the last 7 months traveling throughout Southeast Asia and several countries in southern Europe. More to come on how I am not adjusting to the states, but today I thought I would make a confession. During my daily activities I’ve gotten into the habit of making comparisons between the U.S. and foreign countries in the form of pro/con lists. Sometimes it is a short list, but if I have enough time to think about it, it becomes a very long list. Here are a few excerpts of my most recent ones (if you are in the mood for quick anecdotes, read the green text):

Pro/Con of Attending a Festival in the States:
Pro – Everything is in English! Therefore I can easily procure the food I want and locate areas quickly (bathroom, food, clothing, etc)
*One day My Husband and I returned to our apartment in Italy to discover that a festival was in full swing in the nearby piazza. The festival's food stations were located directly in our parking lot and let me tell you, the sizzling meats smelled fantastic! Unfortunately, all the instructions for how to get the food you want, as well as the list of available yummies, were in Italian. No problem, I thought, I can figure this out! Big. Fat. Negative. I'll make this a short story and say that in the end we did not get any of the yummies. It was a sad day.*
Con – I can not play dumb when someone asks me something and I just don't want to respond.

Pro – I know how to dance to the music!
Con – I miss dancing like a crazy person and learning new dances like the strange Electric Slide meets Cupid Shuffle My Husband and I witnessed in Cinque Terre.
Rabac, Croatia
Pro – I know what all the food is and there are no fried insects in sight.
*I never was brave enough to try those fried insects. I tagged along with some German guys who did taste a few; they claim that fried crickets are the best, with beetles and mealworms coming in second and third.*
Con – There are no new and exciting foods...or foods I thought I knew but they do it better!
*I sincerely doubt that any food festival will ever serve a larger or better array of ethnic foods than the Sunday Night Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Everyone add that to your bucket list right now. You could buy anything and everything at that market - including the best food I have ever tasted.*
Chiang Mai Night Market   Chiang Mai, Thailand
Pro - Everyone is drinking beer and it is easy to get beer!
Con – There is no con here. I prefer festivals with beer.

Pro/Con of Riding a Train in the States:
Pro – All the signs are in English!
Con – Everyone is speaking English. This easily distracts me and I find myself listening in on boring conversations and therefore losing my place in my interesting book.

Pro – Air conditioning!
*Although there were many trains in Italy where I wished with all my heart for air conditioning, one ride in particular sticks out in my mind. I was on a train from Bologna to Florence and there were only two tiny windows in the entire car that opened. Myself and another passenger promptly opened those and sat as close as possible. However, halfway through the trip, an unstable looking gentleman sitting near me whipped a screwdriver out from his man purse (remember, these man purses are popular in Italy, carrying screwdrivers in them is not) and proceeded to screw the windows shut! Well of course I was terrified because I saw two possibilities in my near future. One, I was going to die in a terrorist attack when this guy opened his canister of sarin gas in the now airtight compartment. Or two, I was going to die of heat stroke. Thankfully neither of these occurred.*
Con – I almost froze to death on the ride from St. Louis to Chicago. I had to wrap a sweater around my feet because I hadn't worn socks. Silly me as it was nearly 80 degrees outside - what was I thinking wearing flip flops instead of snow boots?

Pro – It is appropriate to travel in sweats.
Con – I feel icky at the end of the trip. At least when I arrived someplace in Italy I felt good about myself...even if I had grumbled about dressing up before getting on the train.
*On the trip from Rimini to Pordenone I decided to wear flip flops, shorts, and a tank top. I was meeting Americans and figured, who cares! Before we left, the guy who took me to the station looked me up and down, then asked how long it would take me to get ready. I told him that that was what I was wearing. He just looked confused.*

Pro - There is room for your luggage.
*In Vietnam and Sri Lanka you take all of your luggage into the car with you and surprise! my suitcase didn't fit into the miniature overheard bin area. Therefore it occupied the place in front of my seat where my legs would usually go. I yogafied myself and had them cross legged on top of the suitcase. In Italy there was never enough room either. Thankfully, Italians are more like Americans and allowed for my suitcase to overflow in the aisle a bit.*
Con - Everybody has giant luggage and you have to battle for space.

Pro – Nobody asks you for money or tries to sell you useless items.
Con – There is no con to this. This is my favorite aspect of using public transportation in the states.

Pro – Passengers keep their trash to themselves and do not throw uneaten food, wrappers, etc onto the floor.
*The experience I had on the train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh in Vietnam is a perfect example of this. Women walked up and down the aisles selling unknown foods steamed in banana leaves. The smell was atrocious and people kept unwrapping the banana leaves and throwing them on the floor. This included the kid in front of my friend who spent most of the ride hanging over his own seat, staring at my friend's face.*
Con – Again, no con to this. It is my second favorite aspect of using public transportation in the states. It is only second because I don't feel that there will be karmic retribution as I did when I wouldn't purchase bracelets from small children who really should be in school.

Overall Con to riding trains in the states - there is no wonderfully exciting scenery to stare at! 
video
A view from the train of Sri Lanka's beautiful tea country.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Skinny Day? Negative.

Today I woke up and felt skinny. You know those days – when you don’t feel like you're starving and you look in the mirror and think, wow I look awesome today. So I decided that I would weigh myself for the first time in over a week, and congratulate myself on losing a pound or two. I figured I had definitely lost a few because I had spent the last three days working my tail off at the Taste of St. Louis and had definitely not been spending my breaks sampling every tent like some of the other workers. I have also been working out quite a bit and only had two glasses of beer in the last 7 days or so (go me) and had been drinking lots and lots and lots of water. Go me again.

Let me just say that I think most girls my age would have had the same reaction when they had all those thoughts and then boom – the scale said I had lost .5 lbs. Which we all know means nothing. However, before I lost myself to intense grief, I had a flash of genius and ran off to look for another scale. Not just any other scale (I’m not that desperate) but the scale I had been using for the last 7 years. My rationale here was that since that was the scale I had used since freshman year of college, it could be calibrated differently (or something) and would therefore tell me a number that would correspond to what I had weighed during the majority of the last decade. I abandoned the offending scale and put together a search and rescue operation for the one that had been my biggest critic through the freshman 10, sophomore -15, junior 10, senior -20 (post major breakup), and then the great post-grad-working-for-a-beer-company-but-working-out-a-lot flip flops of the last two years.

Again, anyone (female) would have had the same reaction I had when the found scale, hopped on with new hope (and less clothes) produced the exact same number. I stared in horror and then fought back tears. Wait, why was I almost crying? Since I am not gigantic and the number in front of me was reasonable, just not what I wanted, my tears seemed a bit dramatic. I think we all know the answer here – even guys our age know the answer. If it seems like an unrealistic reaction it probably is. Don't you just love when hormones are in play and our usually rational selves are currently unavailable? With that knowledge in mind I quit the tears and went to the kitchen for breakfast. I chose a small bowl of cereal over eggs and sausage though – and promised myself I would go to the gym tonight for at least a 500 calorie workout. I also messaged Kay to get the fat day news off my chest. (Go me for not complaining to a guy who would automatically tell me I looked good but then subconsciously put a tally mark in the needy category.) She promptly responded with the best kind of best friend text, "I’d do you." This is why God made girlfriends. And chocolate frosting.