Making moves

Jessica M

The time has come for me to take a step so many girls have made before me – moving in with my boyfriend.  I’ve had several living situations since turning 18.  First there was the dorm room with my best friend from high school.  We were lucky, and rather than have our friendship torn apart by the confines of that mini-room, it only made our friendship stronger (even with the occasional screaming match or two).  After that, the dorm roommate and I moved into a small three bedroom apartment with another girl from our dorm.  Things started out strong, but we eventually starting drifting apart and the third roommate moved out early, in the middle of the night (or was it morning? the concept of time in college was so fuzzy), leaving behind only a drawer full of underwear (seriously) and a few perishables

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... (photos from my Facebook)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… (photos from my Facebook)

in the cupboards.  After that apartment, the original roomie and I moved into a large house with six bedrooms.  The roommates in this house came and went and were swapped out several times (including a year that involved a 19 year old boy moving in, and adopting his five 21 year old roommates as pseudo mothers.  Only four of us stayed the full two years in that madhouse, and I’m still not sure what kind of effect that had on our psyches.  After college, I spent about a year living with my parents before my brother and I moved into our grandma’s apartment after she passed (no it wasn’t creepy, yes sometimes I think I can “feel” her presence – but it’s probably more likely a caffeine buzz peaking and/or wearing off).  This takes us to present day, and the next step of my journey into “adulthood.”

I’ve lived with guys before.  My brother and my pseudo-son Phil who I mentioned before.

We should probably discuss rules about full frontal nudity and eating (photo from thoughtcatalog)

We should probably discuss rules about full frontal nudity and eating (photo from thoughtcatalog)

Plus countless former roommates boyfriends who would camp out in our place more often than their own (we were pretty fun).  And I’ve fallen into K-holes with previous boyfriends where it seemed like we were spending every possible second together and it felt like we might have been living together.  But shared bills, income dependency, and close quarters with no separate place to flee too are all going to be new concepts.  Don’t boys have cooties???

There are a lot of things I’m concerned about, some more serious than others.  What if he can hear me making #2s through the bathroom wall?  What if he doesn’t like watching Gossip Girl marathons when I’m feeling sick (it’s literally the only way to feel better, sans doctor)?  What if I forget how awesome alone time is?  What if we get bored (gasp!)?   What if he forgets to switch to his Netflix account and messes up all my recommendations? What if he loses his job, and I have support us both financially?  What if we break up?

With the bad, there is always good.  I can’t wait to have someone to share breakfast with

I can't wait to have someone to help me realize I'm making poor choices, before it's too late (photo from tumblr)

I can’t wait to have someone to help me realize I’m making poor choices, before it’s too late (photo from tumblr)

every morning.  I can’t wait to have someone with an obligation to plunge the toilet or tub when they’re clogged.  I can’t wait to have someone to watch Gossip Girl marathons with me (Chuck and Blair, your shitty relationship is like crack to me).  I can’t wait to be able to spend time together on weeks when my schedule changes, and I get stuck working 8:00-4:30 while he’s working 3:00-11:00 (we don’t have weeks like that often, and I do enjoy the random alone time, but by the time the week ends, I’m glad).  I can’t wait to have someone to come home to every single night.  I can’t wait to have someone by my side, that loves me more than I love myself.

Am I ready?  Who knows.  What I do know is I’ll never know until I make the leap, and I’m ready to skydive.

Selfshaming

Jessica M
anigif_enhanced-buzz-30035-1365348274-30

image via ABC/buzzfeed.com

I was brought up in a very supportive, loving household.  I’m really lucky in this fact.  My parents never pressed any ideas or ideologies on me.  My mom (who for the most part has always been a role model for me – despite our radically different political stances)  was never open or obvious about dieting, weight loss, or her appearance.  I never questioned why she was only eating cabbage soup for a week while we ate pizza or hot dogs.  I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was a sophomore in high school, and I never really even learned how to wear makeup until late college (I’m still figuring that crap out for the most part).  I never felt less than perfect, just the way I was.

That is, until I hit (about) 12 years old and started the same body hating phase we all seem go through.  Puberty was hands down one of the worst times for me.  My body was awkward, didn’t look like the other girls’, and I was miserable.  I come from an Italian family, curves were practically in my genes (and past was almost always “what;s for

image via Fox/Buzzfeed.com

image via Fox/buzzfeed.com

dinner”).  Why is this?  Why is it that even though I was in a supportive household where my weight was never questioned did I still manage to grow to hate the way I looked?  (I like to blame the media, but that’s neither here nor there)

Even at my smallest (size 4) I was still unhappy with how I looked.  As I’m moving into my late twenties (27 in May), I can see and feel my body changing again.  Things are becoming even more curvy, and old favorite pieces of clothing aren’t fitting in the same way.

Being in my late twenties has also brought a different outlook on life, and in it a much more appreciation for my body.  These curves helped carry me through my college campus where no bat an eye at a 10-14 inches of snow in a day and we still walked .5 mile to class.  These thighs get me up and down the steps at work and in the parking garage when a lot of the other employees are practically marooned by an elevator being out of service.  This body has helped carry me through the 26 (not 27 yet) years practically no

image via HBO/buzzfeed.com

image via HBO/buzzfeed.com

injuries (besides one crap ankle from a drinking accident – seriously, who puts an 8 inch drop off right below the door to a bar).  Even when it didn’t want to, it’s been carrying me through the subzero temperatures and the polar vortex that’s been going around.  I have no reason to hate it.  Even when I was that coveted size four, people didn’t treat me differently.  Life went on exactly the same as when I’m carrying a few extra pounds.  It’s me looking in the mirror and critiquing myself.  It’s me picking apart my body, instead of looking at it as a whole.

It turns out, I’m just as capable at looking in a mirror without the critique.  Jennifer Lawrence has a semi-recent quote I like to reference, “What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That’s just dumb.”  And to whoever said nothing tastes as good as skinny feels – you clearly aren’t using Pinterest to its full potential.

With so many showers, why am I still showering?

Jessica M

With spring and summer somewhere on this cold, dreary, horizon that time of year is coming again.  Mailboxes are thawing out just in time to start filling up with shower invites.  New babies and new engagements and new homes are something to celebrate (most of the time), but what about all of our other milestone moments (i.e. the ones that are more.. single gal friendly)?

I’ve never been a big planner or commitment maker, and I lack the certain ability needed for “foresight” (whatever that is).  I’ve never really pictured myself getting married, or having children.  In case of emergency, I always figured it’d be something small, low key, and maybe even a secret.  So what about us girls that aren’t so keen on making lifetime commitments, shouldn’t we get a time to shine?  Below are some things I think we should consider celebrating, so more of us can get some time in the spotlight and get away from that “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” feeling.

Finishing a degree

Whether it’s an associates, masters, bachelors, or doctorate, all degrees are something

photo from Etsy

photo from Etsy

to celebrate.  Most people have big blow celebrations for finishing high school.  Looking back now, I probably could’ve finished high school in my sleep.  No one likes to see someone fail, and teachers, parents, and friends will do what they can to see a girl walk down that graduation aisle.  Now college on the other hand, that crap is hard!  It takes hard work, dedication, and most challenging of all – self motivation – to get through that crap.  But the payoff, so rewarding.  So why aren’t we celebrating these?  Where was my degree shower?  After I finished my masters (library and information science), I could’ve had an epic library themed party!  Food and drinks named after famous characters, authors, and books.  We could’ve taken it a step farther and even dressed up as literary icons!  The options are endless: invitations on library cards, confetti made out of card catalog cards (lord knows those are basically useless now – one of the student workers in my library didn’t even know what they were “what are these cards we use as scrap paper??”), decorations made out of old books pages, games and activities involving “shhh”ing…

Adopting a new pet

I mean, come on.  picture from imgur

I mean, come on. picture from imgur

Who needs babies when you can have a dog (or a cat, rabbit, hamster, ferret, gecko, whatever your fancy)!  Pets aren’t cheap.  For lots of people (women and men), pets will be their only children (they really are part of the family).  Instead of having a baby shower, why not have a pet shower?  Please, bring me potty training pads, food, toys, and grooming supplies.  Or in lieu of gifts, donate to a local animal shelter.  We can all get together in a park, yard, or on a beach with our pets and have a pet party.  Again food and drinks can be animal themed (think a drink labeled “toilet water,” cookies in shape of dog bones, and “doggy bags” to take home leftover snacks).  Coordinated activities might be difficult for animals, but they’d still enjoy a good play time while the “mommies and daddies” stand by mingling, and reveling in the awesomeness.  I definitely picture the animals all wearing party hats.  Whether or not this would be feasible isn’t important, I’m just brainstorming here. I challenge you to think of something cuter than a pet party.

Moving into your first “real” apartment

Many of us move out on our own all alone.  Moving in with a boyfriend can be a huge commitment, and lets face it – guys can be gross (no offense, I know girls can be quite a mess too.  I had the pleasure of living in a house of 19-21 year old girls and guys when I was in college).  Getting your own place is exciting, even if it’s not a permanent home, and we should have apartment warming parties as well as house warming parties!  We can all stand around, eat snacks, and sip boxed wine because a first apartment probably won’t have a nice wine rack and definitely won’t have enough furniture (that’s what the house warming parties are for).

I know there are many more things out there you lovely readers think deserve a little celebration (paying off a credit card, starting a new hobby, making a new friend that isn’t a coworker).  It’s time to stand up for a change!  No more showering others until we can all take a turn being showered!

photo from buzzfeed, 2 Broke Girls (CBS)

photo from buzzfeed, 2 Broke Girls (CBS)

V-day D-day

Jessica M

Before I met my current boyfriend, I spent 25 years of my life perpetually single, hopping from short fling to dysfunctional fling, to “what the heck is going on here?!” fling, and back again.  And it was fine.  I LOVED being single.  LUURRVED might actually be a better word because I don’t think loved quite cuts it, I enjoyed single life that tremendously (don’t be confused, I LURVE my boyfriend and my new life as part of a duo as well).  That being said, I like to think of myself as a “connoisseur” of single life.  A concierge, a maven, a master, someone who knows what single gal life is really life.  I spent a lot of time hanging out with myself, and it was pretty awesome.  Most days I still consider myself a single gal, even if only in spirit (I am a one man lady).

This time of year is a dreaded time of year for single ladies.  It’s February, the month of

photo via buzzfeed

photo via buzzfeed

love, which means Valentine’s Day is coming up.  I for one have never been a fan of the holiday.  I love hearts, and pink, and chocolate, and puppies, and all other cute things that come along with Valentine’s day.  I loved the fling I had with a waiter around Valentine’s Day 2009 (finally, a college guy that had enough money to buy all my drinks at the bar – because obviously that was important in a partner then, oh the priorities of a 21 year old).  I s  However, I do not love waiting 45 minutes to get a table at a restaurant.  I do not love sitting elbow to elbow in a movie theater.  I do not love hearing about animals that end up in shelters because they were a Valentine’s Day gift that the receiver wasn’t ready for.  I do not love being taken out and spoiled because someone felt OBLIGATED to.  I think that’s most people’s complaint with Valentine’s Day.  You shouldn’t be told to do something nice for your partner, you should just do it.

Anyhow, I digress.  I started this entry with the intention of giving a few pointers on how single gals can enjoy this day (or any day they’re feeling a little lonely, we all get there), despite being surrounded by throngs of cutsie wootsie couples doing cutsie wootsie things.  You can take my advice, I am a single gal maven after all…

1.  Spend it with your pals!  I have some really fond memories of anti-valentine parties with my closest friends (some of whom were in relationships at the time).  Throw a party, go out to dinner, laugh at the couples that are putting so much pressure on having a perfect

photo via HBO/buzzfeed

photo via HBO/buzzfeed

night, have one too many drinks, and celebrate the importance and power of friendship – it is a relationship after all.  I spent several years celebrating Valentine’s Day with one of my best girlfriends, despite our relationship statuses.  The only reason we stopped is it’s now a two hour commute to see each other.

2.  Watch anti-valentine movies.  My recommendations include Annie Hall, 500 Days of Summer, Blue Valentine, Broken Flowers, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Sleepwalk with Me.  Few things will make you feel better on Valentine’s Day than a movie marathon of failed relationships.  Or any horror flick (if that’s more your thing).

3.  Treat yourself girl!  Stuck with a bunch of friends that are going on dates for Valentine’s

photo via Cartoon Network/buzzfeed

photo via Cartoon Network/buzzfeed

Day?  No worries.  This is the perfect opportunity for you to grab the current issue of your favorite magazine/load up your favorite blog/pull out a much loved book, fill up the bathtub, turn on your favorite (soothing) Pandora station, light some candles, and kick back.  It may sound cliche (single girl having a bathtub pampering session on Valentine’s Day) but trust me, cliche or not – it’s awesome.

4. Stay up until midnight (or get up early the 15th) then go to the grocery store and buy the discounted candy.  Chocolate on sale… does this really need justified?

There ya have it.  It’s a made up holiday that makes single ladies feel bad about themselves.  Instead of being bummed you don’t have a lover to spend the day with, spend your time celebrating the most important relationship you’ll ever have – the one with yourself. :)

photo via NBC/buzzfeed

photo via NBC/buzzfeed

The proximety of long distance

Jessica M

There once was a time, not so long ago, when we were forced to go out and meet new people and make new friends.  A time when being in a big enough city (or, if not, making a minor relocation) was enough to get away from a bad breakup.  I can barely remember this time, but I know it used to exist.

Social networking makes it so easy to stay in touch with those far away, which is a good thing.  I have friends all over the US, from Buffalo New York, to Honolulu Hawaii (I know, lucky jerk).  I’m thankful that thanks to technology I can keep in touch with them all.  When I was a kid, I don’t remember my mom every talking about her friends from out of town, or taking weekend trips to “meet up with the girls.”  But she wasn’t a homebody.  To this day, she still meets weekly with her girlfriends for drinks, or cards, or movies, etc.  How does she do it?  Without my ever doting boyfriend, my nights would be lonelier than I like to think.  Thanks to Facebook, text messaging, Instagram, email, Gchat, and Facetime I’m able to keep in touch with all my college friends, like we’re still sharing a six bedroom house in our tiny college town. I don’t feel the need to go out and meet new people.  The women I work with are all nice enough, but I have no desire to go out to happy hour or to the Christmas party.  I have a solid group of friends, why would I need more?  Juggling relationships can be hard.  It all sounds so cynical, is this the way we live now?

Just a few days ago, I recieved a text message from a former fling.  We haven’t spoken in over a year, and we didn’t exactly end on good terms (what can I say, I get bored easily – it’s not a bad thing, it’s a sign of intelligence).  Regardless, he asked me to meet up for drinks sometime thinking I lived in his town.  I actually live two hours away, so it was easy to avoid the “well I’m in a serious relationship now, idiot” speech, but I couldn’t help but be flabbergasted.  Are we getting just as lazy with forming romantic relationships asnwe are with friendships?  It’s easier to scroll through a cell phone list of contacts and reach out to an ex (despite how it ended) than it is to get out there and meet someone new.  Facebook makes it even easier now that we can check and see if someone is in a relationship or not before sending that text (my gentleman caller conveniently doesn’t have a Facebook account).  Even Instagram has recently introduced an option for direct messaging.

This all leads me to another question, is it appropriate to keep these failed relationships (both romantic and friendships) available through technology?  Thinking about it, a text message is quite personal.  It’s a private conversation between two people.  It’s sent directly, and it gives senders time to formulate thoughts before sending.  It eliminates the risk of immediate embarassment and opens up an opportunity for more bold conversation.  Should we be blocking exfriends and exlovers from contacting us this way?  Like I mentioned earler, things like this never used to be an issue.  Without these new forms of instant and direct conversation, a two hour gap in between people would be enough to keep an ex at bay.

It’s hard to say if these forms of e-communication are a blessing or a curse.  I’ll take the ability to keep in touch with my lady soulmates (it feels like just yesterday we were still living under the same roof) if it means having to endure awkward conversation with old flames at the same time.  As I type this, I’m sitting in an airport terminal surrounded by people ending their holiday travel.  It looks like even with all these new ways of getting together without actually getting together aren’t a total deterrant for loved ones getting together in person and it’s heartwarming – even for my cold, electronic chatting, heart.

Girl, you trippin’!

Jessica M
Penguin-falling-on-the-ice

(photo from Quark Expeditions)

This is one of my most dreaded times of the year.  Not because of the holiday stress, or the dropping temperatures, or the terrible drivers, or the blizzards, or the weight gain, but because of my tendency for tripping.  The winter season means icy roads and wet shoes.  I’m not sure if I’m just naturally clumsy, have weak ankles, or encounter a lot of hidden booby traps but I trip.  A lot.  As if being in your twenties wasn’t awkward enough, add in tripping up the steps at work, or falling on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop, and a girl’s ego can take a major beating.  Fortunately, I have been battling gravity for my entire life and I think I’ve mentally compiled a list of ways to recover from a public spill (mentally recover that it, you should probably seek professional help if you need physical recovery).

1. Shift the blame

One way to play off your trip, is act as if nothing  happened.  Fall, get back up, then immediately whip out your cell phone and make it look like the fall was the result of something other than your inherent clumsiness.  If it doesn’t look like a big deal, other people won’t think it’s a big deal – kind of like syncing the Wii remote when you’re sucking at golf.  Plus, people will think you’re popular since you have so many important cellular interactions, even taking a tumble can’t break your e-socializing stride.

2. Exaggerate

Another option is to make a whole production of the mishap.  You could play the victim and cry.  Or, for a more dedicated victim, limp around and possibly stage additional stumbles.  You could also take another more aggressive route by laughing at yourself, and then yell to anyone who’s looking at you “YOU GOT A PROBLEM?”  No one wants to mock an angry person.  Keep in mind that with this approach, there’s always a chance you might have to back up your aggression.  Use this tactic with caution.

3. Get re-antiquated with yourself

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(photo from Buzzfeed, The Ellen Show)

Take it easy when going up and down stairs, or walking on slick surfaces.  Really feel how your body’s equilibrium is working.  Do you have a dominant ankle (mine is my left)?  Lead with this foot, especially when hopping down from elevated places (a large step, getting out of car, of off a snow mound) or if you ever need to balance on one foot.  Practice makes perfect, so get out and move!

4. Laughter is a cure all

This seems to be the most effective way to deal with a crash landing.  If you find yourself stumbling, just laugh it off.  When you’re with your pals, this is much easier.  Just look to your left or right and laugh with them, like you did it on purpose to amuse them.  Any kind of laughter, from the subtle chuckle to a full blown laugh with your head thrown back, will work here.  Now if you’re alone and don’t want to look certifiably insane, it’ll be a little more tricky.  It would be more appropriate to use a subtle laugh, chuckle, or head shake here.  Even a coy smile would suffice, something that says “yeah I fell, and when people fall it’s funny.”  Finding humor is the easiest way to diffuse a situation and what better way to show your friends/coworkers/complete strangers that you’re so confident, even falling flat on your butt can’t get you down.

Happy winter friends, you got this!

New Years Revolution

Jessica M

This is not a post about how I’m going to lose that extra 15 pounds I’ve put on.  Or pick up a new hobby.  Or find a volunteer opportunity I can really dedicate my time to.  Or quit smoking.  Or actually follow through with a tooth whiting regimen.  Or finally finish reading War and Peace (okay, maybe I still have to start it).  New Years resolutions just aren’t my thing.  It took about one broken resolution for me to realize I just don’t have that kind of dedication.  I know most of these things will improve my quality of living, but I just don’t have the dedication.

But will they really improve anything?  A year is a long time to commit to something.  And really, how many people fully commit to their resolutions?  I have a hard time thinking that something that’s important to me now, would still be important to me in 12 months.  Things, people, and situations are constantly changing.
This year, instead of a New Year’s resolution, I’m making a New Years revolution.  For my New Year’s revolution I will -
1. Not weigh myself. I think we’ve all heard the phrases, “Some people eat to live and other people live to eat.”  I live to eat.  Experiencing new foods is one of my most enjoyable past times.  I will judge my body based on how my clothes fit and how I feel when I look in the mirror.  Weight is just a number.  I’m not going to go to bed hungry to fit someone else’s definition of beauty.
2. I will embrace the hobbies I do have.  I can play the crap out of a Playstation game but I can’t sew to save my life.  Big deal,  no one needs to (or has the time to) do everything.
3.  There’s only so much time in a day.  If I’d rather spend my weekend lounging in my sweats rather than feeding people at a soup kitchen, I’m not going to feel guilty about it. It will make me appreciate those people that do carve out time to help the needy that much more.  For now, I’ll stick to my ASPCA donations and feel good about that.
4.  Okay, so maybe quitting smoking wouldn’t be such a bad thing.  But within this last year I have unintentionally gone from a pack a day habit, down to a pack a week (or less) habit.  I’ll do it on my own time, forcing something never works out well for me.
5.  Whitening my teeth might not be that big of a hassle either.  But throwing strips on my teeth for two weeks doesn’t seem worthy of a “New Year” commitment.
6.  Reading is one of my favorite past times.  I’m not going to read something just to seem more “well-read.”  I’ll read whatever is holding my interest at the moment (last month it was historical fiction, this month it’s fantasy), and if War and Peace falls into that category, I’ll give it a shot.
I’m going to keep on doing me, and that’s all I have to say about that, 2014.
(photo from tumblr)

(photo from tumblr)

Defending Mr. Boring

Jessica M

I’ve spent the majority of my life as a free-spirited single gal (I think I’ve mentioned this before).  I enjoyed the luxury of doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  This mostly consisted of girls nights and cocktails.  If I found a man I wanted to start spending time with, I expected sparks and excitement and activities – I can watch Netflix and eat takeout by myself.  I managed to run through quite a few relationships, demanding (subtly) that I needed to be entertained, and exiting through the closest window once things got stale.  I didn’t mind, being a single girl was fun and dating someone long-term would mean consistency and consistency was (gulp) BORING.  As I’m sure you can guess, a lot of jerks weaseled their ways in – what can I say, I must find A-holes exciting.

Just over a year ago I met my match in the form of a “Mr. Boring.”  He preferred nights in to nights out, Netflix to the movie theater, and Chinese takeout on paper plates to a sushi bar.  But you what else he prefers?  Respecting me, getting along with my friends, genuinely making me happy, and loving me and me alone.  There are things a girl doesn’t have to worry about when she’s dating “Mr. Boring.”  He’s doesn’t have a wandering eye.  He doesn’t get mad when you spill something in his apartment.  He doesn’t mind going out of his way to make your life a little easier.  He finds joy in making you smile.

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Yes Nick, it IS acceptable to watch TV all day. photo cred: Fox, tumblr

If anyone keeps up with the Fox program New Girl like I do, you’ll notice that this trend in women going after Mr. Boring is on the upswing.  The main character Jess starts dating Nick – a grumpy guy who (until recently) doesn’t own a cell phone or have a checking account, and works in a bar.  But the great thing about their dynamic on the show, is that the emphasis is placed on their mutual happiness despite the visible “spark” and excitement (also, if you’re not watching New Girl yet – I HIGHLY recommend it).

Now my Mr. Boring and I do go out and do fun activities, it’s so much more of a treat.  Shows are more entertaining, food tastes better, and you genuinely feel better when you’re really treating yourself, rather than just trying to fill in relationship downtime.

So what I guess I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to be a little boring.  It’s about the person you’re spending time with, the activities you’re filling time with.  Just because it’s not constant excitement or constant sparks doesn’t mean it’s not a “good” relationship (whatever the definition of a “good” relationship is).  I guess you can start calling me “Miss Boring.”

I turns out, takeout tastes a little better and Netflix movie marathons are a little funnier, when they’re being shared with someone else.

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And who said Chinese take out was boring? photo cred: amazon.com

Thankful and thankful and thankful again

Jessica M

It’s that time of year again, everyone is thankful for something.  But shouldn’t we be thankful all year round?  I’ve been really impressed with my Facebook friends that have committed to putting up one thing they’re thankful for every day this month.  I keep thinking, there’s no way I could come up with that many things to be thankful for – but that’s the attitude of the discourage and while my mid twenties might not be everything I hoped they’d be, I refuse to get gloomy.  So I’ve challenged myself to come up with a list of the things I’m most thankful for.  Took make it a little more interesting to look at, I’ve decided to only use pictures from my Facebook (I’ve been scrolling through them lately and it’s helped to remind me how much I have to be thankful for).  And from now on when I’m feeling sad or gloomy I’ll have this list to refer back to – year round – and remember there’s lots to be thankful for, even if it’s not November.

What I’m thankful for (as told in pictures)

1. I’m thankful that my boyfriend is as big of a nerd as I am.  Recently, we spent an entire day (literally) playing two different versions of Final Fantasy at the same time.

1419805_979504099430_962639884_n2. I am thankful for my parents.  They’ve been together for 28 years and make me believe in soulmates.  If everyone had parents as great as mine, the world would be an incredible place.

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3. I am thankful for pets.  To feel unconditional love it rare, but I’ve found it in my dogs.  Recently, I stopped by my parents house to check on my dog Kelly after she had a wart removed.  She was so high on pain pills I don’t even know if she knew I was there but I was happy to baby her for an afternoon.

kelly belly4. I am thankful for learning new things.  Last year I swallowed my nerves and learned how to ride a motorcycle.  Not only is it another super fun activity I can now do, but it gave my dad and I a unique activity to do together and that’s really the best part. 

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5. Cheese.  I’m definitely thankful for cheese.  I think the best cheese of my life was Brie with honey drizzled over it from a seafood restaurant in Wilmington NC. 

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6. I am thankful for creativity.  I have enough resources at my fingertips to start new projects and discover new passions regularly.  An outlet of creativity keeps my mind sharp now that I’m no longer in school. 

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7. I’m thankful for good books and reading.  It’s the best way to escape life and expand your thinking.

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8. I’m thankful for slumber parties.  There are few better ways to unwind and forget about all the stresses of getting older than grabbing a bunch of blankets, board games, and friends and unwinding for the night.  I’m also thankful that I have an awesome circle of friends that would agree with me.

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9. I’m thankful for Bonnaroo.  It’s the one time I year I get to let loose and be a total dirty hippie along with 80,000 other people, and it’s socially acceptable.

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10. I’m thankful for my friends.  98% of them are certified lunatics, but I love them just the same.

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11.  Most of all, I’m thankful for moments like this:

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12.  And these

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13. Last one

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14. And sushi.  Cannot forget about sushi.

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Five reasons starting at the bottom is the only way to go up

Jessica M

We’ve just finally got our foot in door to what’s supposed to lead to our dream job.  Finally, our careers are taking off!  We march in our first day, head held high, notebook and pen in hand, ready to take all important notes that are guaranteed to come in handy while we’re rapidly rising to the top.  What’s that?  You need me to shred documents for the next three hours?  You need double cream in your coffee?  The printer needs unjammed and the copy machine paper needs refilled?  Not exactly what we were expecting, right?  These menial tasks might be driving you up a wall.  Why are we wasting our time in these places where we’re undervalued, underpaid (if we’re even paid at all), and overqualified?  Well I’m here to list five reasons why this is the most important phase of our career journeys by using everyday examples from my actual job.

1.  100% effort, 100% of the time

We are constantly being asked to do things that a trained monkey could do.  My biggest task when I first started working in my library was making signs of our open hours, as they changed throughout the year.  I downloaded a template off of Microsoft Word, changed the images around, and voila.  I was done in approximately three minutes.  My boss never mentioned what he thought about them, but he can’t make a numbered in list in Word, so

It's beautiful, right?

It’s beautiful, right?

I take all of his opinions lightly.  Even though it was busy work, I still made sure the signs looked nice, and hung them up in appropriate places around the building.  Next thing I knew I was making signs for different events.  Then I was put in charge of the library’s social networking.  Next came putting me in charge of which new fiction books and DVDs to feature display, and now I’ve been allowed to order my own piece of furniture (a big deal in libraries when budgets are tight and getting tighter) to build on my featured DVDs display (sadly DVDs are all they care about, it’s more likely that students will use the books in the library to fan themselves than to read)  Do you see what happened there?  When you put in effort, someone is going to notice.  People that put in effort get bigger assignments.  This knowledge is important for every stage of a career.

2. Efficiency is key

Another key part of my job is making sure the printers in the computer labs throughout the building are filled and operating (after applying for this job, each of my professional references that was contacted was asked if they thought I’d be capable of frequently unjamming printers.  I’m glad they left off the fact that I used to shake and bang on the printer at my last job each time it was jammed).  Every hour, I get up, do a walk through the building, and check the five printers throughout the place.  I also spend time showing my boss how to use Microsoft Word (making number lists, inserting headers, etc.)  No, I don’t think learning the ins and outs of industrial sized printers or giving mini lessons on document making in Word is teaching me anything of value.  What I have learned is, the quicker I get them set and ready to go – the more time I have available to dedicate to personal professional growth (reading library journals, blogs, updating the social pages, etc.).  It’ll be more important in a few years from now when professional work is piling up to remember that the faster I get the little things done, the more time I’ll have to spend working on the big picture.

3. Presence is everything

As I mentioned above, each hour I get up from my desk and take a tour of the building (four floors in all, approximately 80,000 sq feet).  Needless to say, many of the people that come to the library recognize me.  I’m logging a lot of facetime when they’re here.  Now when students have questions, they’ll come right up to the front desk and ask for my help.  It’s not very often that they’re wanting research help (which would actually be good practice for when I move up from the bottom), but regardless they’re feeling comfortable enough to come to me and ask.  How is this helping my future career?  Being familiar with a target population is important.  When people see what  kind of presence you command, they’ll want you around group setting more often, who knows what you could bring to the table!

When in doubt, always refer to Joan Holloway. img- iMDB.com

When in doubt, always refer to Joan Holloway. image from iMDB.com

Most careers are driven by customer interaction and what better way to keep them around (and what better way to network – everyone’s favorite career advancing move) then by having a presence in the community.  Right now, my community might be just a medium sized university’s students but who knows what the future will bring.  When I make it to the Library of Congress, I’ll be happy I had the experience and practice developing a presence within a small community.

4. Value everyone

Every manager, full timer, part timer, and intern matters.  Have I mentioned that my boss (that’s been in this position for 15ish years) needs my help making Word documents occasionally?  Rather than getting irked that he is occupying a job I am clearly for qualified for, I value what he has to teach me (no matter how advanced technology gets, there will always be someone around to help me out).  I also have employees that are below me on the ranking scale (student workers/interns).  Rather than scoff at them and laugh while they do the menial work I used to do (I’d rather refill 500 printers than sit and clean DVDs for an hour), I use the chance to learn from them as well – I’ll save the story of when I had to fire one of their poor souls for another time.  They range in age from 18-24 and they keep me informed on what people their age like and I can then use this information to improve on my tasks and keep the students coming to (and enjoying) the library.  My boss and the students are teaching me important qualities that will push me into career advancement: I’m learning patience through my boss, and I’m learning how to lead by example with my interns (if I can do it, they can do it and vice versa).  Both will be essential qualities when building relationships as my career advances.

5.  Being humble can get you everywhere

The number one mistake we’re making as twentysomethings, is feeling entitled.  Just because I’m a degreed librarian doesn’t mean I deserve the head reference librarian position (or better yet, library director – basically library royalty) right off the bat.  Being at bottom is teaching us to work for what we want, and in turn appreciate what we have.  Have I mentioned my boss can’t make a numbered list in word?  Reporting to someone that works in a field that revolves around technology that can’t use a program I’ve been using since middle school is humbling.  Feeling like you’re entitled to something makes you look like an asshat.  End of story.  And asshats don’t make it anywhere.

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In case you were wondering, all you have to do it push this little button right here.

Did I really need a master’s degree to be able to do any of the work I’m given?  No, definitely not.  But is it helping in the long run?  Yes, absolutely.