So What Now?

Sometimes I find it funny how alike we are, Daniel. This morning I sat down to write my blog post, but couldn’t find any inspiration so I sat for twenty minutes looking at old Tumblr posts I like to distract myself. Yesterday, on my lunch break, I re watched a bunch of old Jenna Marbles videos instead of reading my book or working on one of the many goals I’ve set for myself because I was tired.

You mentioned that your friends and family are out hustling and getting things done. Well, just so you know, in between these small bursts of productivity in my life, I’m re watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls and eating cereal for dinner because I have no motivation to do anything else. I guess I’m not as much of a hustler as you think.

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I’m not going to lie and say I don’t have anything in my life that I find exciting. I enjoy running and crochet and reading, but sometimes my stress gets in the way of these things. I’ll come home after a hard day of work and want nothing more than to just sit on the couch, browsing Tumblr on my phone with the TV on in the background. On those days, I usually have to force myself to get up and do something. I know I’ll feel better after I find something else to do, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.

Anyway, I didn’t want this post to be a long-winded lecture about motivation and pushing yourself to achieve your goals. I am by no means an expert on motivation and nine times out of ten my motivation comes from a feeling of anxiety. Like I said in my last post, I feel anxious when I’m unproductive and adding anxiety on top of my stress is not a good thing.

What I want to talk about is my answer to “so what now?” What comes next for me? Where do I want my life to go from here?

Last October, I turned 26 and officially moved into my “late twenties.” It wasn’t a hard milestone for me. I’m happy with where I am at 26, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could possibly regret in another ten years. When I turn 36, will I look back and wish I had had the motivation to get up and do something different with my life?

I am fortunate that I found a career that I really enjoy. When I started college, my plan was to become a writer. Well, I reached that goal and also found out a lot more about what I want from my career. I love event planning and project management and website development. If I went back and asked 17-year-old Emily if she wanted to plan events and make spreadsheets, I’m sure she’d look at me like I’m crazy. The thought never crossed my mind in high school.

So when I ask myself what now, I wonder if I should be trying new things? I know I love my career, but what if there are other opportunities out there? Would I fall in love with donor relations or nonprofit development? I don’t know until I try.

But, I also know that I’m happy where I am. I love my job and my coworkers. I live in a wonderful community, have a loving husband and amazing friends. Should I risk all of those things at the small chance there’s something else out there for me? Maybe, maybe not.

Keeping on that train of thought, if I choose to stay where I am, what’s next? Should I be looking to buy a house? Should I start a family? If I decide to keep on my current path, it would make sense to start putting down real roots. Yes, I have a life here, but I’m still renting an apartment and have made no solid commitments to my community. Should I start doing that? Is that what I want?

Right now, I just have a vague feeling that I should be doing something. Don’t get me wrong, I am making progress toward my goals. I’m working on opening an Etsy shop and I’ve been writing more, but what else will I regret in ten years?

9995fc5ecf7abe34582a61c8205a295eBeing an adult is hard, and not just because there are bills to pay and responsibilities to keep track of, but because there is so much at stake just from day to day. There are also a lot of decisions in front of me that can’t be undone.

So, Daniel, whenever you look at my life and think that I’m hustling and bustling, just remember that I have no f*cking idea what I’m doing. I feel like a 15-year-old who put on mom’s makeup and somehow managed to trick the world into thinking I’m an adult.

-EMS

October Birthdays Rock

As you know, my birthday is this week. According to the internet, after twenty five your cells begin to die off faster than they regenerate so, guess what. At 26, I’ve officially started dying. Happy birthday to me! I’ll be honest, I’m already looking forward to being retired and drinking whenever I want. That sounds pretty awesome.

Did you know your license expires after five years? I got mine on my 21st birthday and now I get to make a birthday trip to the DMV. Hooray!

Anyway, I absolutely love having a birthday this close to Halloween. As I mentioned in my previous post about horror, I’m a huge fan of spooky things like jack-o-lanterns, bats, and skeletons. I feel like I’ve always been drawn to that stuff, but maybe that’s because I associate spooky things with my birthday. Maybe I was drawn to my first Goosebumps book because the cover reminded me of a haunted house and thus my birthday? I have no idea. Trying to assign motive to things I did when I was five probably isn’t the most logical thing to do.

One of my coworkers recently welcomed his first child about five weeks earlier than planned. The baby is healthy, happy, and now officially an October baby. When I heard the news, I congratulated him of course and then started telling him about how much FUN it is to have birthday parties in October.I had the best spooky cakes and decorations when I was little and he gets to do that for his daughter. How fun!

Also, if you HAVE to have a birthday near a holiday, Halloween is by far the best in my opinion. My opinion is biased, of course, but hear me out. Christmas is of course the worst holiday to have your birthday near because your birthday presents and Christmas presents overlap. You get half the presents any other child would get and it sucks! I feel like Thanksgiving falls into the same vein, not in the sense of presents, but it definitely overshadows your birthday. I wonder how many Thanksgiving babies have heard “oh, we have to go to grandma’s house. We can just have your party there.” No kid wants a party at grandma’s house.

I feel like Easter would be the second best holiday to have a birthday near. Yeah, you might end roped into a church service or Easter party, but you get lots of extra candy on top of your presents. That’s pretty cool! However, it doesn’t come in first because the only birthday decorations you get are pastel. Pastels are so boring.

Halloween is by far the best because you get free candy on top of your presents and you get to have really cool, spooky decorations. You also have an AWESOME excuse to have a costume party and people will actually participate. Try asking someone in the middle of June to dress up and they’ll look at you like you’re stupid. You can also do really fun things at your party, like carve pumpkins. Who wouldn’t want an October birthday?

Now that I’m older, the spookiness of my birthday has definitely diminished. I usually have to work on my birthday and, as a responsible adult, I can’t exactly justify splurging on a ton of spooky decorations. The kid in me definitely wants to spend all the grocery money on candy, but the adult in me keeps telling me no.

Being an adult sucks. But hey, after I get my license renewed I can go buy alcohol. That’s a pretty nice perk!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get some free birthday ice cream. Peace!

-EMS

Grown Up Activities

I have no clue what to write about.  The last like three posts have had me sitting around wondering and then eventually I blurble something onto the page.

I mostly feel like there isn’t a lot going on in my life.  I’m not like bored, sad, or depressed.  Just in a groove, ya know?  I work, I go home, I cook, I clean, I sit on the couch, I play some video games.  I sleep.

So what do I write about?  I definitely don’t have enough money to have- oh I don’t know, any hobbies.

So its Thursday night and I don’t know what to write about and I definitely have to write a post.  So what does any person do when they have to procrastinate?

You start furiously cleaning.

My kitchen is fucking spotless right now.

I did part of the bathroom for good measure.

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I fucking snort this shit.

The thing is though: I genuinely like cleaning.  It’s really satisfying to me to wipe down a surface and watch it become clean and shiny.  There is something so cathartic when I’m done cooking and I look at the stove like, “Aww I’mma clean the hell outta this.”

Speaking of which- when did I start to love cooking.  Mom never like, officially taught me how to cook.  I just had to experiment.  I could cook a few things assuming the box has directions, but now that I’m the one who cleans and dirties the kitchen I’m a lot more invested.

My buddy Kyle came over one day and taught me how to massacre a chicken body and cook like eighty different meals.  Now I cook chicken all the time.  I used to hate having so many dishes to clean, but now I walk through kitchen stores and wish that I had so much more money.

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“Do you have a house?”  “No, I have a pan.”

I recently spent the last of my money getting a 12″ cast iron pan.  I got the nice oil to season it with.  I care for that thing better than I care for myself.  I know its schedule.  I know its hopes and dreams, and what its perfect date night is.

I make my fucking bed now.  Some mornings are better than others but generally I like to at least smooth out the sheets.  Not always- but more than I ever have before.  I dunno, having my own apartment is like a symbol of pride.

Vacuuming my carpet is almost pornographic.  Watching all of the fuzzes get sucked up and listening to the crackle of dirt being sucked away is just the best.  Looking at the carpet and making the lines all go the same way when I’m done is so good.  I enjoy mopping.  We have a Swiffer, but its essentially the same thing.

I love cleaning and thinking like, “I won’t make a big deal about it, but I need to invite my friends over and somehow draw attention to how fucking clean everything is.”

I mean- a lot of this probably has to do with how I feel less impotent cleaning now.  Living with mom and dad was a crazy money saver, but as you know our nephew also lives there.  The last like four times I’ve been over its been a catastrophe.  One time I found a body.  Like a dead one.  Just laying in the powder-ized Goldfish crackers.

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See?

I have a strong opinion on which garbage bags people should get.  I judge my brooms effectiveness.  I’ll spend two times as much money on the correct candle.  There absolutely a correct answer to, “Which cleaner should we get?”

I have fucking pants now Emily.  Pants.  I spent my own money on pants, for me.  I also bought fancy adidas boxer briefs because this is what I do for fun.

I go buy things for my cat because I’m worried she’s bored.  We’ve had long discussions about what we think her favorite treats are.  I’ve seriously debated buying a brush so I can maintain her.  I wanna brush her really well and be like, “I won’t make a big deal about it, but I need to invite my friends over and somehow draw attention to how fucking brushed she is.”

Its weird to think that this is the stuff I enjoy doing now.  I’m constantly trying to find  a new hobby to consume my time.  I’ve currently got a PS2 hooked up.  I own a bunch of movies and games.  I could be doing this stuff but its just not holding my attention like when I was young.  I have games I haven’t played yet!  I need to play them!

But nah, I’m busy sweeping the laundry nook.

Plant a Seed

I remember being in elementary school and thinking that adulthood was- for all intents and purposes- millennia away.  Days lasted forever and summer vacation might as well be its own year in between school years.  Time lasted such a long time back then because my concept of time was “how long do I have to wait to go play with Pat.”

So I remember pretty clearly the first time Mrs. Thielman said to us that we should start thinking about about we want to do when we are all grown up.  It’ll help us pick classes and go to college one day if we figure it out early.

I remember just not caring.  Are you serious?  That’s like a whole different epoch from where I am now.  I’m busy playing Pokemon Blue (Blastoise is best, fuck Charizard) and Micro-Machines.

But she made us write a paper during class.  I don’t remember what I wrote about but I remember she said to think of this like planting a seed.

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We moved in the year 2000.  A long cross-country trip from Wisconsin to Washington. I got registered for middle school a bit late because mom and dad were busy with other stupid stuff like “where will we live?”  Most of the optional classes were full but Drafting still had slots open.

Mom expounded at length, “That would be so perfect for you!  You’re always drawing airplanes and those robots from Cartoon Network (Gundams).  Do you have any of your drawings to show them?”

I did not care one bit.  I was too focused on what I had left behind in Wisconsin (nothing really) to really appreciate what a big moment this was in my life.  Drafting led to 3D/CAD/CAM classes and the rest is for another story.

Doing the 3D modeling made me think back to Mrs. Thielman.  I loved doing 3D stuff, it was so much fun.  If the bell never rang I probably would have sat there for days making stuff.  Maybe this is what I want my seed to grow into.  It might cost money in the future but we’ll teach you more about money when you need it for college.

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Smash cut to high school.  Fucking teachers wouldn’t shut up about college.  College this, college that.  Get some grants, do some scholarships.  God damn it kids, don’t you know how important college is?  Our generation went to college and it was fucking awesome.  We’ll help you do that!

I took as many of the CAD/CAM classes I could with Mr. Kernen (Resident Badass Teacher).  I had so much fun doing the work.  I thrived.  It was something I was good at and something I enjoyed doing.  I was nurturing my seed.  The classes breezed by and I was genuinely sad when I ran out.

Towards the end of high school the teachers got more and more on our cases to do some scholarships and apply for grants.  I remember being impressed by how many scholarships there were.  But I didn’t do any of them because paperwork was for jive bitches and the first few didn’t pan out.  I am easily discouraged.

But don’t worry.  The government can help with federal loans and there are places that can give out loans specifically for school.  There are plenty of options.  They’ll teach you more about loans when you apply for them.  Just remember, going to college is an investment in your future.

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College.  This was it.  This was what it was all for.  I did flounder a bit out of high school but after a year I had it all dialed in.  I wanted to go to The Art Institute of Portland for Industrial Design (later Design Visualization) so I could continue to do fun 3D shit!

Dat price tag though.  The average Art Institute (A.I.) degree is approximately $100,000.  But what you get is so very worth it.  Do not worry though, A.I. makes sure that its well spent with teachers with real experience, a comprehensive placement plan when you graduate, and really experienced accountants who can help you get your finances in order.  You shouldn’t worry about that!  You should be focusing on your future because this is the stage in which your life is played out.

I ended up taking out federal and private loans because F.A.F.S.A. told me to #getrekt.  I wasn’t too worried, I was quite assured that when I had my super well paying job the loans would just vanish like so much cocaine on a CEO’s desk.   We’ll teach you more about loans when you have to start paying them.

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My experience with my loans was really frustrating and confusing.  Mom joined in and had just as much luck figuring anything out.  My college assured me that they talk to the bank every time my college funds ran out so I don’t need to worry about that.  They also didn’t want to bore me with the mathematical details.  They told me my bank will teach me what I need to know when I start paying them off.

I did learn though that something that would help me moving forward would be having some real credit history.  What’s that?  No, no, rental history is different even though its the same.  You need a credit card!  It has a really low rate!  Use this card to buy stuff and then pay it off later!  It’ll help your credit score.  What’s a credit score?  An arbitrary number we applied significant meaning to.

Think of it like borrowing money when you need it.  And then when you have your super well paying job it won’t be a problem because you can pay it off as you go.

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I graduated and then everything became struggle for a while.  You’re starting out though, this is the future you’ve been investing in!  Don’t be sad!

I bounced from freelance job to freelance job and kept repeating their mantra in my head, “You’ll get your great job someday!  Just keep working.”

I’ve been working at Nemo Design for almost 2 years now.  This is probably the best job I’ve ever wanted and I love it.  It was a little shaky in the middle when my loans came back online and I didn’t quite have that “great job” they all assured me I would.  I kept asking for their help and they kept saying, “You’ll get it someday!”

I’m paying my bills off but I’m a little confused.  So many things were promised to me with no explanation, and even now when I ask for one I don’t really get one.  At so many points in the past they told me “we’ll explain it all to you when you get there.”

Well now I’m here, and I was never taught this stuff.  I wasn’t taught how to carefully manage a budget, it wasn’t explained to me how paying off loans was going to work, and I certainly don’t know how to navigate a financial situation of almost any level.

And I’m not the only one.  Many of my peers have similar stories.  College wasn’t a wonderland like it was made out to be.  College wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t for everyone.  But those financial commitments we made stand and we have to deal with them.

All of the flowery words to reassure me about my choices were pointless.  My “industry expert” teachers were essentially all moving through a revolving door- they weren’t that important in the end if they were so easily replaced.  I’ve met other 3D designers who never even went to college.  Credit history is important but so far it hasn’t played any role in my life.  My loans that were supposed to be trivial in the face of my awesome super well paying job actually cost me more money than I pay on my apartment.  I wouldn’t have any bills if I hadn’t accrued them myself.  So why was college so important?

Why wasn’t I taught about these things?  Why wasn’t there a precious math class about how a college loan can build up if you aren’t careful?  Why wasn’t I taught how to navigate this stuff?  Why wasn’t I taught about how much being an adult costs?

Our generation gets a lot of shit, too.  People say we are entitled.  We don’t buy as much, we live with our parents forever, we are apparently lazy and media obsessed.  We are told how hard things were for our parents and how hard they have it.  Everything is easy for us.  Things were put in place to help us.  Anyone can get a credit card.  Anyone can get a college loan.  Anyone can get an education if they are willing to pay in this day and age.   Stop acting like we made you promises.

Instead of preparing me to be an adult they prepared me to be a college student.  They built up this idea about how these things are important and then ushered us through a pipeline to get us into these roles.  While the goals set for me certainly have shaped my life to this point, they certainly weren’t important.  And now I’m paying a bunch of money each paycheck back to organizations.  Organizations that told us whatever we wanted to hear as long as we adhered to their ideas about adulthood and education.  They told us to trust them, they told us they would teach us.  After I was through the pipeline though- all of the help melted away and they are already focusing on the next group moving through.  My journey was complete.

Then it occurred to me.

I was never the farmer.

I was the crop.

Corn harvest in Illinois - September

-DTM