Loan and Other Four Letter Words

Before I begin, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the Sandy Hook shooting. There are absolutely no words that will ever do justice to such a poison.

degree 2

I went to UMD and all I got was this stupid…degree?

Sallie Mae. My Fed Loan. University Accounting Services.

Once a month, I sit at my computer and begrudgingly fork over a sizeable fraction of my paycheck to the aforementioned lifesuckers. And, I can assure you not a month passes when I don’t think “Wow, I’d have sooo much more disposable income without these effing loans.” I have changed payment dates so they don’t coincide with my rent. I have yelled on the phone with Sallie Mae sales reps trying to negotiate some sort of middle ground. I have prayed to the loan gods. I have done everything I could do. And, the conclusion seems to be the same: pay up.

Money in your twenties is a joke, a problem, and an endless stream of frustration coursing through your life and drowning your freedom. There’s never enough. Or, maybe for you there is. But, for me, there certainly is not. And, I’d like to blame a large part of that conflict on loans.

A few years ago, we all studied and drank our way through a cushiony college existence where dinero wasn’t ever really the epicenter of discussion. Our greatest expenses were a late night outing to Applebees. We sat around in frumpy sweatshirts (who else still wears their Fear the Turtle sweatshirt an obscene amount? Cause I do.) eating wings and mozzarella sticks from The Diner.  How we got there or who was funding our presence were issues on the outskirts of our cozy microcosm.

Then, we graduated.

And, people started talking about money. A lot.

I didn’t necessarily consider myself ultra privileged in undergrad. I come from middle class roots. I had two part time jobs simultaneously during most of college and a slew of unpaid internships along the way. My father supplemented my chump change part time job money with a predictable yet not outrageous flow of money to my bank account. Maybe that was ultra privileged. I don’t know the parameters for that phrase and don’t feel like trying to tackle them. But, I remember driving home from work during July 2011 and having my father subtly remark in a conversation, “Oh, you ready to take over your Sallie Mae interest payments?” Interest payments? What? Um, ok, sure?

Then interest payments turned into actual payments. That was my entry into the adulthood hell of paying bills.

Eighteen months later, I’m still somewhere in the ninth circle.

Loans are the great life divider. I can’t help but feel a tinge of envy when I talk to my friends who casually mention that they aren’t in debt from undergrad. Then, I remember I could play the game of Ifs when it comes to my loans, but that doesn’t change my reality. And, then, I remember that my reality is one of self-sufficiency, independence, and doing things that I don’t feel like doing to ultimately do things I feel like doing.

Most people like tangible results from money. A new wardrobe. An iPhone 5. A reckless night out with friends. We like to say I spent this and I got this. A led to B. With loans, it’s not that simple. We cannot always physically show the fruits of our labor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are not there.

My ex-boyfriend once told me only 1% of the world’s population has a bachelor’s degree. My ex also told me a lot of bullshit lies while we were dating so who’s to confirm the accuracy of his statement? But, maybe he was right. My guess is he may have been. My guess is that the places my education has gotten me to, the people it has brought into my life in one way or another, the opportunities that will greet me at the most unsuspecting moments, may make all of my bemoaning worth it. More than worth it.




A Love Letter to my Fellow 9-5ers

Dear Fellow 9-5ers,

We are going to be more than OK.

If Facebook were created to give me constant anxiety about my dating life, then Twitter were created to make me feel like the dirt beneath freelancers’ feet. Let me explain.

This past summer, I attended a blogging conference because I like blogging and I like conferences. You do the arithmetic. At the time, my blog was not on this gorgeous site; it was still a rinky dink Tumblr POS with a title that didn’t make any sense. But, I strolled in to the conference with some pretty baller business cards in tow ready to recite my “Yeah, I’m new to this; just wanted to check it out…I write about navigating life in your twenties” elevator speech. I am blogger; hear me roar.

After I left the conference, I decided to follow many of the people I met in addition to the bloggers I already adore. Nowadays, when I scroll through my Twitter feed, it’s an endless stream of dribble about 2 Chainz from my friends juxtaposed with 140-character dissertations from people who are freelancing, attending graduate school or, let’s face it, living a much more vibrant and colorful life than my conformist Corporate existence. And then I feel guilty because I’ve been bombarded with propaganda directing me to pursue my passion. Follow my dreams. But instead I designed the sell out sign myself and then snuggled up next to the nearest security blanket.

Or so I’ve been taught to believe.

Also this summer, I read Meg Jay’s and I think it’s cheesy to say a book changed my life so I guess a piece of non-fiction shifted my existence. I could list dozens of reasons why this book shook me but you should go read it. No, really, read it. No one reads anymore! But if you can’t muster up the energy to digest some pages, here’s the kind of life-altering shit she’s saying:

“I’m not talking about settling. I’m talking about starting. Twentysomethings who don’t get started wind up with blank resumes and out-of-touch lives only to settle far more down the road.”

Because of the pervasive passion rhetoric, we’re trained to think that if we do work a 9-5, or some variation of 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, we have sold out. We are on the wrong track and headed to an abyss of boredom and dissatisfaction when we peer at our lives from both intimate and distant angles. We are supposed to be in love with our lives and in love with our jobs and in love period. But, I’d like to wave the red flag and call bullshit on that play.

Sure, not everyone’s made for a 9-5. I get that. That’s why there are strippers, right? But, doing it or not doing it doesn’t make us any more or any less. Especially now. Especially when we’re standing in front of a pebble-less path, completely uncertain yet walking in blind faith. We don’t know how our lives will turn out or who we will become; who will cross those paths and who will walk behind or beside us. We don’t know. But we have to start somewhere. Something about planting roots or sowing seeds or something.

So, I say drink that chalky caffeinated coffee while you scroll the morning news. Sit in that traffic with only the power of Buddha to keep you from smashing the car moving 10mph in front of you. Laugh at those corny co-worker jokes and drink at those holiday happy hours. Sit under those fluorescent lights in your windowless office. Pay your rent and take care of yourself with that paycheck. And, whatever you do, do a damn good job. This is your start. You aren’t just like every other average American wishing they worked on the Kane show instead of listening to it. You aren’t a sell out or a conformist or any of those other words the rich hipster kids in college used. You aren’t lost or wayward.  You aren’t going to go on to live a colorless life wishing you never settled. You are you, dammit.  You. Are. You. And, if you ever watched Barney, you know that means something. So, if you don’t wake up wanting to roll around in bed with your job or smother it with wet kisses, well, then, there are people who can fill that need for you.

You’ll look back and realize what you already knew: you’re going to be more than OK.



This is My Goodbye Texas Post.

Texas going away drinks. That’s Ashley. She’s pretty. That other girl is kind of cheesy though.

There was one key thing I knew about Texas prior to moving there in February: rent was cheap. Dirt cheap. As someone whose student loans were/are giving her a firm kick in the ass, I welcomed Texas with open arms and empty pockets.

On February 18, 2012, I schlepped through Boston Logan Airport with pounds upon pounds of luggage and a live cat by the name of Roxy. I smiled and tried to appear pleasant despite the onset of sweat rising beneath my winter coat and scarf. It was moving day. It was time to go to Texas. Yeehaw and all that.

On October 27, 2012, I schlepped through Dallas Love Field–the orphan equivalent of its monstrous counterpart Dallas Fort Worth International. But, I wanted to fly Southwest, damnit, and SW only flies out of Love Field. I can’t stand American with its first class passengers who scowl at the rest of us plebians as we traipse our way through their special first class cabin in all of its glory. But, I digress. October 27, 2012, was also moving day. But this time it was time to leave Texas and return to the East and best Coast.

I’m not sure where this post begins and ends. It had an entire eight months to brew. There were days in Texas when I would leave work and, as I walked to my car in 100 degree heat, think of some great line that I would use in my farewell Texas blog post. (Yes, at this point you should know, I think and feel and breathe in blog posts.) But, now, I’m here writing the post and I haven’t retained those lines.

All I have is a potpourri of memories, big memories juxtaposed with ordinary memories, but mostly ordinary memories. Taking a lunch break and going to my favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. Spending a Sunday evening outside reading. The nice people at Kroger grocery store. A Saturday afternoon at the pool with sangria.  The luxury of purchasing wine at Target, Walmart and Walgreens. A rare Texas rainfall. Driving 80 MPH on the highway and whizzing past any franchise ever created. Heat clinging to my body the minute I escaped the air-conditioned office. My lovely neighbor and our here-and-there conversations centered around his health. Wednesday night margaritas with my co-workers. Waving and smiling at complete strangers. My hairstylist and her endlessly entertaining stories. Morning coffee and the latest life gossip with my co-worker homie. Easy parking. Cheap and chill bars. Loud laughter. These are not big memories. They are not cowboy boots or trips to the rodeo. They are not quintessential Texas memories. But, I do not care. Because these are the simple fixtures that will forever decorate my Texas experience.

The weeks leading up to my move back east were filled with a blend of emotions and though the word bittersweet is completely trite, it’s also completely true. Last Sunday as I drove home from dinner with my aunt, the windows were down and my life was full. And, it hit me. There will never be another eight months in Texas. Maybe I will go back; maybe I will not. But, there will never be a time like the eight months I just lived. I trekked there in February with high hopes and that state leapt and soared above any standard I could have ever set.

But, as I mused in a late night Tumblr post a few weeks ago, maybe it’s not just Texas. Maybe it’s also me. Maybe I’ve given the place too much credit. When I arrived there, I was broken. The trebuchet for my early adult life had only fired off a mere eight months prior and I had spent most of it in a doubtful and unimpressed daze. But, I went to Texas feeling like it was finally time to marry the Tyece I had always known with the adult Tyece. Or, better yet, it was time to stop seeing them as two separate entities but instead one whole person colored by different experiences, various sentences still carving out the prologue to my life’s narrative. I knew I had major work to do, monumental life matters to sort through, and an indispensable need to clean the clutter out of my mind once and for all. And, that I did. It was the perfect place to quiet my brain and confront my shit.

When I landed at BWI today and got ready to drive over to Virginia, it didn’t feel real. It felt amazing but unreal. It felt like my dad was going to show up, give me a big hug, and drive me to our house for another one of my long weekends home. But, oh, hey, I actually live here now. My parents are 1.5 hours away; my sisters 1.5 hours and 4 hours away. My best friend is 45 minutes up the highway. Everyone I love is close and accessible and right here. And, this is what I wanted. At this juncture in my life, it’s what I needed. On the lonely nights 1800 miles away when all I wanted was to call up a friend who I didn’t have to bullshit with, a friend who knew my ins and outs, to just grab a drink and talk about everything and nothing, this is what I wanted.

Thank you, Texas, for eight months of beautiful memories. It feels good to be home.



Wait, Am I A Relationship Girl?

This is a face contemplating life’s deepest mysteries such as whether or not I’m a relationship girl.

Today, I heard someone call herself a “relationship girl.” Usually such phrases make me want to throw a snow globe at a brick wall. But, today I resisted the impulse and instead thought: what is a relationship girl and could I possibly be in this category of homo sapiens?

I spent the greater part of Monday’s 6am hour mentally spinning through the past year and feeling less than stellar about my dating life before the sun could even rise. I knew I had to take action.

No, this did not entail catapulting myself in to the dating world with a account (yes, it’s a real website) or Googling “speed dating Dallas.” No, it entailed doing something far more shallow. Instead, it meant it was time to open up the flood gates and let advice from pals, male and female, roll on it. Rain, baby, rain. I started many sentences on Monday with, “Hey, I’m feeling kind of slum about my dating life,” slum being a synonym for “I’m feeling like a piece of Doublemint stuck to the bottom of a pair of chucks when it comes to my dating life but I am too cool to say that so I’m just going to say ‘slum’ instead.” I threw a blanket statement out there in the hopes that most of my friends would grab it and snuggle up. And, snuggle up they did.

Ok, so we are at the point in the story where I am supposed to hang my head in shame while all of you reprimand me for even requiring reassurance about my dating life because I am a strong, independent woman, damnit! How could I ever feel the least bit insecure? Aren’t I the self-proclaimed poster child for single women? Uh oh. Guess you finally saw me drop the cape. Hopefully I’m sexier this way. Ow ow.

Yep. I consider my singlehood a conscious choice every day but that’s an inflated statement that really deserves to reside on a t-shirt at a women’s convention. I have actively chosen to occupy a one person cocoon rather than entertain morons, assholes, snorefests, or all of the above. I have chosen to wait for someone who is simply effing amazing. And, yep, sometimes that’s a decision that leaves you feeling a little less than stellar. Sometimes that’s a decision that requires you to lay off the social media binging that is fatal to your self-esteem’s diet. Sometimes that’s a decision that requires some coaxing from your friends that, no, really, you’re not a complete pariah. We promise. 

I used to think I sucked at relationships but then I realized, oh, wait, those were just sucky relationships. Perhaps I have been known to be selfish, stubborn, and far too opinionated–all adjectives that do not serve you well when you’re trying to maintain strong ties with your boo. But I’m learning the best times to work on such vices are when you are riding solo. When you have the room and the space and the freedom to grow without the paranoia that your significant other may hold up scorecards for your performance.

Thinking about 6am Monday musings paired with my thoughts today and the phrase “relationship girl,” I’m wondering if maybe, just maybe, I fall in to this category. I always considered relationship girls the ones who actively sought relationships out and only felt happy or whole when in them. If we stick to this definition, well, obviously I am running for the hills and never turning back. But, if we’re going to get new-age and define a relationship girl as someone who is all or nothing, relationship or screw it, I’m in and I’m in big. Because somewhere along the line I admitted to myself that I had a heart and expelling energy pretending that I did not was a huge fat waste of time. I admitted that the only three letters really associated with FWB are WTF. I admitted that I want it all and if I can’t have it all, then I simply do not want it.