Sunday, May 3, 2015

How I Rocked the GMAT

I couldn't help myself. But for real now...

Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." When I was a ten year old zealot, I resolved to put a different Bible verse on a note card every month and memorize a multitude of Scripture. I would be a regular concordance. This verse was my first and last note card, and I have seen it in my mirror every day since. Better than nothing, I suppose.

I have been wanting to write this for awhile, but alas, the months have been moving at a seemingly reckless pace. After taking the GMAT, I spent a couple weeks traveling with the youth group and work. More to be written about those later, but for now - the GMAT. I am done. No more studying. No more waking up at five o'clock in the morning. I no longer live in a sea of books, and my Saturdays are open to do with as I please.

I began studying because I believed God told me to do so, and I asked that He would bless it. In January, I looked at what lay before me between studying, work and life in general, and I could not overcome my exhaustion. I questioned how I was going to have the strength and discipline to dedicate myself to studying, and my answer was, per usual, found in Him.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in all things, through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God... And your God will supply all your needs." I saw that provision in different ways, from new friendships to encouragement and support from steady friendships to a community group that has been challenging and uplifting. These were not necessarily the provisions I would have chosen, but in retrospect, they were exactly what I needed.

A month before the exam, my family began emailing our prayer requests to one another. I have come to very much enjoy this habit, as it is a great way to keep up with the goings-on of family members around the globe. Plus, any time Don and Nance are praying, I believe the odds of answers are greater. I responded to the chain and began submitting the request that I would get over a 700, because 1) that score would likely get me into a solid program 2) I knew I was capable of that and 3) if I asked for something higher and did not achieve it, that meant disappointment and failure.

As I was typing, I heard a small voice of conviction say, "Don't limit Me based on your skills and comfort level. Don't ask for something you know you can achieve on your own. That is not faith. That is weak. Ultimately, this is not about you. It is about Me and what I choose to do through you. Trust that. Ask for something you know you cannot achieve without Me, and allow Me to be glorified through you when you achieve it."

That was the gist of it, at least. I hit backspace a couple times and changed my sentence: I would like a 750. I told my family and my church, and I prayed for that.

The more I grow, the more I encounter the cyclical nature of a relationship with God. Depending on the day and my mood, this can be encouraging, frustrating or both. It seems to be a cycle of obeying, asking, giving and trusting. Obeying his call. Asking for what you know is only possible through Him. Giving those desires to Him. And trusting that He will do what is best for you and for the advancement of His kingdom.

There are plenty of areas still progressing through this cycle, but the GMAT cycle has closed. When I finished the test, hit submit, held my breath, and saw 750 on the screen, I gasped. I knew only one thing. That score was not mine. That was God's.

The funny thing is, I do not know what He is going to do with the GMAT, but the least I can do is encourage anyone who will read my ramblings that He will do more with your desires than you will. For me, this was a good reminder that God is real. He is faithful. And He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why I Love March Madness

I was eleven years old, and my sister and I were having one of those little/big sister moments that she probably forgot the next day, but being the little sister, I remembered*. She was advising me on my upcoming adolescence and emphasized the flirtatious advantage of taking interest in sports, March Madness in particular. It seemed to work for her, and growing up under my father, I was no stranger to the competitive field. I was glued to the couch that March, watching Mateen Cleaves lead Tom Izzo's Spartans to a national title, arguing with the seventh grade boys as to why Izzo was a better coach than Krzyzewski and why my bracket was technically superior.

Here I am, fifteen years later, alone on my couch, staying up past my bedtime to see if Xavier will pull off the upset against Arizona. Though it began as a means to complement my extreme baseball knowledge and make me more appealing to the middle school jocks, the tourney continues to define each March, and I still argue Izzo* is a better coach than Krzyzewski. Though this has yet to land a guy, the sport does provide a lot of scrumptious eye candy, especially on the latest addition to my pad, a 55 inch HD Samsung. I believe I am at the ideal age to justify an admiration of both the athletes and the coaches without feeling inappropriate - except for Kentucky, because I know every player is eighteen. And Rick Pitino, because HD is not doing his complexion any favors.

From sneaking to catch the final seconds of a 5-12 upset in our math teacher's office to skipping college coursework to taking particularly long lunches and working from a sports bar, those clutch hours revolve around the next key matchup for the basketball faithful*. Why is that?

Of course it's about money. That's why the Big East has shriveled to a memory of its former glory, I see Reese's logos everywhere on the screen - which could explain why I am currently eating chocolate - and the days of the live look-in are a thing of the past. But for the players, it's not about the money. No contracts are on the line. It's about the dance.

It's bodies on the floor. Athletes throwing themselves with reckless abandon, seizing the hope of one more victory, one more game. It's disregard for fear and denial of doubt. Raw, unadulterated passion. And yes, the chiseled biceps.

It's linked arms lining the bench. They're playing for each other, and for most, this will be the greatest stage.

The floor is unforgiving, though, and ultimately, 98.3% of those young men will lose. Yet on selection Sunday, teams don't shrivel when they are announced an opportunity to win. These guys believe they can win, become the Cinderella team, have the undefeated season, make history. They play with that belief, and in the hundreds of games I have watched, I have yet to see a team go down without a fight.

When they do go down, the agony of defeat is all to real, from the weeping players to the stoic coaches to the fan resorting to the fetal position. I wager if you ask any of those athletes if they would rather have been watching on a 55 inch HD Samsung, each would say no.

As a fan, the spirit of March Madness represents an attitude you want to see in the world, in others, in yourself. A desire to commit to a goal, work tirelessly for it, be willing to dive for it, recognize failure as finite and experience as eternal, and walk away from the floor knowing you were part of the dance.

* Older sisters: your little sisters take everything you say as gold for a certain period. Do with that what you will.
* I mean, come on, every one of the man's graduating seniors has been to a Final Four.
* As a side note, as one of my Presidential campaign points, I would propose we take away Martin Luther King Day and President's Day as government holidays and instead, give workers the first two days of the tourney as holiday. After all, we can remember these fine gentlemen and their contributions any day, but you can only see Duke lose to Lehigh live once. Plus, I am quite sure productivity on those days is below average. Don't worry, those of you unaware of the tournament's greatness, this will 1) give you a chance to become aware and 2) give you two days off in March, which is great because the drought of government holidays between February and May is harsh. Everyone wins. You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

That Time I Clogged the Public Pool....

I drank coffee at hour 1600 yesterday. I was cold, and it sounded cozy. After three sips, I deemed it unwise to continue, as caffeine in the late afternoon tends to rouse me quite early. I come to you at the ungodly hour of 0500, chipper as a foxhound on a summer's eve.* As is normally the case after a particularly personal post, I will make myself chuckle. When we first met, I promised humorous anecdotes of my ridiculously awkward life, even if that meant retreating to the archives. Let's dive into the deep end...

As with most of my mortifying experiences, we can trace this to a few root causes:

1) The back of the bus
2) A slightly extreme level of youthful curiosity
3) A childhood ailment

1) Sitting in the back of the bus always gave us elementary schoolers a sense of maturity. During one such ride, a classmate demonstrated this as she regaled us with stories of skinny-dipping in her parents' pond.

2) In the days prior to children's total inundation with technology, you had to create your own, unique experiences. That often included activities stemming from thoughts such as, "I wonder how the dog's electric fence collar feels on my neck at full voltage. For five seconds. How about on my tongue?"*

3) Self-diagnosis: I have over productive facial fluids. Though this may not sound scientific, it explains constant sniffling, occasional drooling, and most pertinent to this story, ear wax accumulation. I was twelve the first time I experienced this inconvenient phenomenon, and when the doctor shined the flashlight into my canal, he gasped at the yellow blockade. It was too intense to irrigate at the moment*, so I was instructed to dissolve the malady with a daily dose of warm water and baking soda. Each night, I lay with one side of my head on the table while the little bubbles went to work, breaking down months of build up. Sadly, this is not the most humiliating aspect of this story.

Only days later, with my head half clogged, I traveled with my sisters and mother to visit my oldest sister, Julie. A recent college graduate, she was enjoying the small luxuries of adulthood, one of which was an apartment complex pool, soon to become infamous in my life annals.

In between shopping and eating copious amounts of ice cream, we spent an afternoon poolside. I had not yet reached the point of adolescence where I could bask for hours, so after a short while, I turned off my walkman and ventured into the hot tub, located in a small area on the way to the locker rooms. It was not entirely public, but it was certainly not private.

And so we reach the point of factor convergence. My mind wandered to the conversation on the bus, and as I sat alone, curiosity led me down the path: "I wonder how skinny dipping feels." My mental faculties may not have been functioning at a balanced level, i.e., the common sense neurons were flailing in an attempt to swim through wax. Instead of firing and telling me this was a terrible idea, I heard, "You should try it. Five seconds." I listened. Five seconds later, and not a millisecond more, I reached for my bathing suit top, but it was nowhere to be found. Mind you, the bubbles were not even running, so the absolute disappearance of the top was quite improbable. Yet, I turned and turned only to grasp at water.

So there I was. Aghast. Dumbfounded. Topless. And although I was quite young and mostly undeveloped, I could not meander to the outdoor pool to gather my clothes or towel. People would notice. A few people passed the hot tub area, and I held my breath, thanking all of the things that they did not enter. When traffic broke, I scurried to the women's locker room, curled up in a shower, and sat.

After what seemed like an eternity, Julie came to ask if I was alright. I quickly requested she bring my clothes and promised myself to never speak of the incident.* Hours later, however, I weighed the pros and cons, and decided I increased the odds of solving the lost bathing suit top mystery by employing their aid. After all, it was a super cute tankini from Venus, and I had spent hard earned money to buy it. Swallowing my dignity, I confessed. After a couple blank stares and some confused laughs, my mother was on the case. The following morning, she stopped by the pool desk to ask if they happened upon a rogue bathing suit top. The attendant confirmed that indeed, they had. It had been suctioned into the filter, causing it to clog and the entire pool to overflow. Apparently, they had been dealing with the issue since five o'clock in the morning. After returning the garment, he told my mother that "her daughter had some explaining to do."

Here it is. Fifteen years later, a robust explanation. It was the first and last time I went skinny dipping, and I think it is best that age has severely curbed my extreme sense of curiosity. As with all my stories, there is a lesson to be learned. Apart from the obvious, make sure you put your bathing suit top outside the hot tub if you decide to take it off*, it reinforces one of my favorite lessons: if you can't laugh at yourself, life is going to be a whole lot longer than you'd like. I hope it made you laugh as well.

* I've decided to create my own idiomatic expressions.
* That game may have had a greater lasting affect than I credit it.
* For those of you unfamiliar with this, irrigation is the process of flushing out the wax via an industrial grade syringe.
* We all know that wasn't going to happen.
* Or maybe don't take it off in the first place.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

On Marriage, Life and God

Mitch*: "Gail and I have been together seventeen years. We are champs."
Dad: "Nancy and I have been together thirty-seven years. What does that make us?"
Mitch: "Yea, but you got married in a different time. That's only like fifteen years now-a-days."
Gail: "Yea. We're the Hewitts. Hewitts rule."

That might be a you-had-to-be-there or you-have-to-know-them exchange, but it is a light way to begin what is on the heavier end of my blog spectrum, so I stuck it in there. Don't worry. It's not like Coldstone brownie sundae heavy but like Haagen Daaz cookies&cream* heavy.

Today is my parent's thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. Since Gail and Mitch started dating when I was eight, I grew up watching their relationship. When I think of marriage, I see both these couples. I see their mutual respect and adoration for one another, and the way they stand by one another and work through differences, hardships and disagreements to build a strong foundation for their families. And I've always wanted that.

That's right. I'm a twenty six year old woman who wants to get married. Grab your manhood, run and hide! No, I don't spend evenings pining after a hypothetical someone, and I don't see every guy I meet as a potential partner. On the contrary, I accept Seinfeld's general rule that 95% of the population is undateable, and I much prefer to wait than settle. I am well aware of the benefits and freedoms of being young and single, and I take advantage of them.

But I do want marriage. This is not because I need someone to validate me, feel the pressures of society or sense my biological clock ticking. I want what I see within my family. I want to build and share a life with someone, and let's be honest, I just have so much love to give. Of course, having someone obligated to give me gifts, tell me I'm beautiful and fix my electronics would also be nice.

Some people greatly desire adventure, but I never did. As an adolescent, I wanted to stay near family, get married, run a bakery with my cousin - and be a professional tennis player sponsored by Nike - and I realize there is still time for (most of) that. However, the past five years have been filled with decisions to follow where God has led, but that does not mean it has been where I would choose. It seems I am pushed further and further outside my comfort zone, and when I reach a point of relative stability, he calls me to leave.* Alone. Struggling to be confident in my decision and myself. Struggling to do so with a smile. And sometimes, I'm exhausted.

I recently had one of those weeks, upset with God and questioning why I am where I am. Truth is, I have had them more than I would like to admit. I was going to write in the heat of my hot mess, but that would have likely been incoherent babble on how January sucks, the Browns are depressing, and Buzzfeed represents everything that is wrong with society. Instead, I write today, with a relatively clear head, offering those truths the Holy Spirit consistently brings to mind when I am most discouraged.

1) My life is not mine. Christianity is a daily surrender. It is taking up your cross and following Christ. It is not about me. It is about God's glory. He wants others to see His love through me. It is about building my relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. I think God calls us out of our comfort zone so we rely on Him for strength, calling us further out so we have no choice but to reach further in. It is in those moments of desperation that I feel Him most. When I reach the end of myself and am empty, there is room for Him to fill me.

2) A little theory I call maximizing Christ. This is definitely the math geek in me, and though it is not fully flushed out, I like the idea. So I have all this love in me, and away from family or a significant other, I need to channel it elsewhere. I look at the relationships I have cultivated during my time in Charlottesville, and I see God. I see him working through me to comfort others, bring joy to their lives, challenge them, and share my beliefs. He works through them to do the same. On an ROI driven note, I consider, if my experience brings one more person to know the reality of Jesus Christ, then isn't that cool?

Before I start sounding like I think myself a martyr of sorts, I move on to points three and four.

3) I am small, and my desires are small. My favorite C.S. Lewis quote - besides the entirety of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe which I can quote by heart is, "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S. Lewis refers to drink, sex and ambition, but we could seek our joy from a great number of things, good or bad. If the source is not ultimately God, however, we are selling ourselves short. It is easy to be overwhelmed by my own goals and desires, especially when I do not see the full picture of my life, but in giving those to God, there is a promise. He shall supply all our needs*, and even more exciting,

4) There is a joy. My man Paul exhorts us to, "Run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

You know I love Paul, however, I prefer to think of it as a tennis match. Surprising, I know. Though I think if they had tennis back in the day, Paul might agree with my metaphor. While a race is finite, a match has no clock and could theoretically last forever. It is a grind, some points won quite easily and some when it seems that no matter how strong your shot is, the opponent's shot pushes you to a new limit. Indeed, I am thankful for the wonderful people and opportunities God has placed in my life, and I cherish those points. During those long points at pivotal moments, I hold on to the joy that is set before me. A joy I cannot comprehend. And afterward, I am one point closer.

I could drop more Scripture bombs on y'all, but I won't. I am quite a child of my faith. I am as human and fallen as they come, justified by grace alone, and continually being refined. When I write such posts such as this, it is not to be melodramatic*, but it is with the small hope that God uses my experience to encourage and draw someone closer to Him.

In the spirit of anniversaries, I will end with this verse: "This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus."*

* Bro-in-law - read my blog more if you don't know that!
* Blogger does not spellcheck cookies&cream which I respect.
* Incidentally, my adaptive personality means I get stable quite quickly, making the time between transition shorter. Perhaps a startup is the perfect fit, because by definition, startups are rarely comfortable.
* Phillippians 4:19
* Hebrews 12:1-3
* Though it could totally appear melodramatic.
* 1 John 4:17

Monday, January 19, 2015

What's a Blessed White Girl To Do?

I don't write controversial things. The endless cycle of news and social media offers more than enough to satiate people's need for argument. I prefer to consider this blog a place of light-hearted, genuine, sometimes comic and sometimes way-too-introspective, relief. This piece branches into an area that generates controversy, but it is particularly close to my heart, so I am trusting the same authenticity will be apparent.

The past four years, I have spent the majority of Thursdays with a group of high school girls, and this Martin Luther King Day, I am presenting two seniors with an award honoring their hard work and leadership. I admire the strength and vigor with which each lives. I respect the maturity that allows them to overcome adversity, love others, own their actions, and strive for better lives. Seeing them grow has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life, and I write this for them, as well as other girls who have passed through the program.

The girls come from very different backgrounds than I. Some are blessed to have two loving parents, but others live in a home that has been broken by death, divorce or abandonment. Some have to take care of their younger brothers and sisters because their mom is working and the father is not present. Family members are consistently in and out of prison, and a lack of money forces some to bear burdens they should not have to bear. It is their reality, it is hard, and it hurts my heart.

Yes, these girls are black, but that is not why my heart hurts for them. It hurts because not all have a strong man in their lives showing them they are worth so much. Some are not emphatically warned of the consequences of getting pregnant at such a young age, while others do not have parents stressing the importance of education or helping them with financial aid to afford college. Practically speaking, not every family has the money to meet the girls' needs, and they certainly do not have the money to give them the kind of childhood I had. Dwelling on any of this, though, will not improve their lives.

Each week, we work to find relatable ground, putting our different backgrounds aside. Not much has changed since I was in high school. Girls are catty, guys are horny, and teachers are annoying - much like the adult world, too. We all have our hurts, insecurities, successes and failures. We all experience joy, anger and a sense of injustice. With those commonalities as our foundation, we grow closer. I love them, and one of the subsequent struggles has been how that love manifests itself. It would be easier to simply be a sounding board, absorbing their frustrations, and sometimes that is what they need. Sometimes, however, they need someone to actively push them.

A few years ago we began the highs and lows tradition, in which we go around the circle, telling the others what was most thrilling that week and what was most disappointing. We found it a non-invasive way to pull information from teenage girls who do not always enjoy sharing. We address frustrations with family, work and school. The girls commiserate with each other but also confront one another when one is doing something silly. They even call me out.

At times, we address more serious issues like pregnancy, failing classes or arguing with teachers. When digging into the causes, they are generally quite basic: sex caused pregnancy. Failing is the consequence of not turning in three assignments, and the teacher was annoying so yelling was the convenient reaction.

Not once have I responded, "We will blame your unfortunate upbringing." In fact, perpetuating that mentality would be the greatest disservice I could do. It would leave them knocked up, failing school and hanging out in the principal's office. Their future would be further inclined to be a sad cycle of broken jobs and relationships.

Instead, I tell them the advice I was fortunate enough to have received in high school: "Be with a guy who respects you enough to accept no. Do not have sex. Do your homework, and do it well. Even if it seems pointless. You will have to do a lot of pointless tasks in your life, but do them with pride. Do not yell at those in authority. They have been given that position based on a set of standards, and even if they are wrong, you need to approach the injustice differently than you might with a peer."

You cannot change your roots. I am a white woman from the upper-middle class. I did not earn that, but I am unapologetic, and I hold no guilt. My parents raised me to be grateful. They did not allow me to feel entitled, and I was expected to do the most with the opportunities given to me. They raised me to love others and treat them with respect. And they taught me personal accountability. So what can I, as a blessed individual do? First, I can hold myself accountable, controlling my actions, attitudes and responses. Second, I can share the lessons that have shaped me with those who were not fortunate enough to be raised on such a strong foundation and trust that God will use that to positively impact their future. I can give my time and money to causes that will further the growth within a community I hold dear.

As I reflect on our time together, besides them constantly telling me I am going to marry a black man, race has only been a pointed part of the discussion once. It was our first group meeting since school had resumed, and a member of the organization had stopped to observe and assist. The girls were a bit rambunctious, as teenage girls can be when reunited, and as the noise level elevated, the member intervened by stating, "The problem here is that we have loud, black girls and white leaders who cannot keep them under control.*" This was decidedly divisive, as it shifted the situation from an effort of different people working to communicate to a defined inability to communicate because of race. The latter is far more difficult to overcome.

There are a number of cultural norms I would like to change, but I realize my impact will be the greatest by building strong relationships with these girls and showing love through not only empathy, but also through holding them accountable for what they can control. I sincerely believe that each of us has a responsibility to determine what matters most to us and how we plan to pursue that. We are to be stewards of our time, our money, our actions.* The answers to those questions differ for everyone, and sometimes lead down strenuous, difficult paths. But that is the work worth doing. The work that makes a difference and causes change, no matter how slight it may seem.

* Though my parents taught abstinence, I also tell the girls to use a condom or birth control, just to cover the bases.
* The girls promptly made it known that they were extremely afraid of me.
* I certainly have not mastered this, but I strive toward the goal

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

An Annual Reflection and Anticipation

I randomly started walking on the heels of my shoes the other day. I remember doing that as a child, and when my mom told me I would ruin my heel, I still did it. I was such a BA child.* We will discuss my youth another time, though. For now... a brief musing.

Another year has come and gone. Ostensibly, I am no closer to conquering the world. My brother's readership far surpassed mine with one blog post. Between work, studying, and trying to fix my posture, my brain regularly hurts. That's right, folks, I have been meandering through the homo erectus world for twenty five years incorrectly, and it has just been brought to my attention. Now seems like as good a time as any to reflect upon the happenings of 2014, personal growth, accomplishments, etc. You may remember the goals I set for myself. Always one for accountability, I will revisit these goals and evaluate whether or not I met them.

Let's begin with some clear successes. I did not go to the dentist. I'm not worried at all, though, because my increased toothpick usage has decreased the length of time a crumb may fester within my teeth's crevaces. Obvious segue to my next success. I'll be honest, the toothpick did not make regular appearances at bars, but it definitely became an integral accoutrement to many road trips.

I did indeed make one full Epicurious meal - maple bourbon bread pudding and sausage apple pizza. Granted, these were the only recipes I made from Epicurious the entire year, but I found sites I like better. Namely, all of the paleo cooking blogs. I know what you're thinking - annoying side affect of Crossfit - the broad starts preaching paleo. However, the beauty of paleo is that recipes are super simple, and more applicable to the topic at hand, it meets my goal of separating the chaff. I removed not just the chaff, but the whole grain, far surpassing my goal.

While I did not technically invent something, I did begin marketing a product that someone invented, which has to count for something. Incidentally, that same job has a host of Spanish speaking workers, and I am no more awkward around them than I am the general population. Two birds with one stone.

Admittedly, I did not make she a prude, but I refuse to take full blame for that. You cannot reform someone if they do not desire reform, and I think she really enjoys the attention when she's dirty.

Which leaves the ampersand. Alas, the symbol still leaves much to be desired. While the ideal measurements of an ampersand are around a 2-0-3, mine is struggling at 2-1-2.*

Look at that. I just talked my way into accomplishing 6 of my 8 inane goals for 2014, proving that success is all a matter of perspective.

I would like to dedicate time to creating similar goals for 2015, such as to stop putting my clothes in the washer inside-out, saving myself ten minutes of frustration as I fold them, but I fear my time and mental energy are spread thin as of late.

For 2015, I will share but one goal, or more, an overarching aim. A few years ago while training for a marathon, one of my devotionals quoted 1 Corinthians 9:26: "I run with purpose in every step.*" Since then, it has been an aim to actively apply, but I find it especially relevant anticipating the coming year. 2015 holds uncertainty and new challenges, and thinking forward can be slightly overwhelming if I allow it to be.

So what can I do? I can curl up in a ball and hug my teddy bear. Or... I can run, not only with purpose, but with purpose in every step. The implications of this are intense, but Paul was an intense individual; he was a BA. He lived his life deliberately, and he ran with endurance. In doing so, God used him in a way that continues to influence millions. What an inspiring example.

* I abbreviated BA so I am not reprimanded for inappropriate speak on the Internet. :)
* I highly doubt that visualization resonates with anyone, but in my head, it makes sense.
* I went for a run immediately after, feeling particularly motivated, only to trip and fall on my face within two blocks. God's sense of irony was not lost on me.

Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Days of Adulthood

I got a Cuisinart for Christmas, and I am pumped because I can finally make my own tasty paleo balls*. Excited to pop its cherry, I assembled it last Saturday, only to find I could not turn it on. After some yelling and slapping, I returned the machine to the shelf for the safety of us both. Last night, a friend helped me position all pieces appropriately to engage the engine. I put the ingredients into the container, only to find the blade was too high and pulverized but a quarter of my cashews. Feeling helpless, I resorted to the Cuisinart DVD to instruct me. As I watched, I could not decide what saddened me more: that I prioritized a domestic machine over clothes and frivolous accessories for Christmas, that said machine came with an instructional DVD, or that I needed to watch the instructional DVD. I did know this: eighteen year old Anna did not predict this scenario.

Of course, being self sufficient and independent is rewarding in its own rite, but there are times, such as when I peruse my credit card statement or scan my mental list of errands, that I covet the days when the fridge was always full, the household heat did not depend on me and my parents handled gifting obligations.

In the spirit of Christmas and my current annoyance with adulthood, I offer the below summary of my time post-college graduation. Feel free to sing it to the tune of the jingle; I think it works.

12 oil changes. Bearable if they did not inevitably lead to a discovered issue that must be fixed immediately: worn brakes, worn tread, flat tire, a unicorn poking holes in my exhaust pipe.

11 coupled cousins.* I have twelve cousins. I could swap single stories with the sixteen year old, but I fear he actually has a girlfriend that has yet to make an appearance at holiday dinners.

10 wasted milk jugs.* More generally, pounds of wasted produce, meat and treats. Entering the grocery store with healthy intentions and decadent cravings is a dangerous combination. I purchase vegetables which shrivel from neglect, a box of cookies that eventually go stale because I ate one and then remembered my healthy intentions, and a carton of whole milk from which I drank only a cup.

9 weddings of friends. And associated costs. The gifts, travel, classy outfit in case the groomsmen are worth a second look.* I realize this is actually not an absurd number, and that is somewhat intentional. I like to skate the peripheral of intimate relationships so people do not feel obligated to invite me. Some may be offended if they are cut from the invitee list, but I consider it money in my pocket. Just kidding. Kind of.

8 bills a month. At a minimum. When did running water, Internet and heat become commodities?

7 cop encounters. This is not much different from pre-adulthood, though I no longer can use my father's legal prowess as a crutch.

6 travel mishaps. Whether it is losing a passport, missing a flight, or dealing with inclement weather, rarely does a vacation proceed without hiccups. I look around for someone to handle logistics but see only my twenty pounds of carry-on luggage I must now haul about the airport because I refuse to check bags.

5 full-time jobs. Or more appropriately, full time job transitions. Do the math. It can be tiring.

4 living quarters. With each move comes the necessary steps: purge your belongings only to buy new belongings, pack and transport, change your address, organize billing, tell yourself you are never moving again. Repeat.

3 purchased beds. In college, I used my hard earned waitressing money to buy a white oak bed and perfectly balanced mattress. They were left in Cleveland as it was a hassle to rent a UHaul. Bitter toward the lost investment, I bought a sorry excuse for a mattress assuming I would leave Charlottesville soon enough. Four years later, I was still here and desperate for a restful night's sleep. I am planning for the third mattress to last longer than the other two.

2 GMAT tests. Scheduled but not taken. Yes, that is money flushed, but it seems when I schedule the test, I immediately get a new job (see number 5) and do not have the time to focus on studying. I am currently studying but am not scheduling the test until a week prior.

1 Day until I see mom.

And just for funsies -

0 - times I have gone to the dentist.

Anna's sidenotes...

*Google them if you have not heard of them. Also, Blogger marks paleo as spelled incorrectly. It's time Blogger brushed up on its yuppie health trends.

*This is on my dad's side only for the sake of the song. I begin to get overwhelmed factoring in my mother's side.

*Approximation. The only approximation in the song.

*They aren't.