Love the One You Travel With

Last weekend, I finally got my life together enough to go on a long weekend trip to San Francisco with my friend S, and we had a blast! It was her first time there, and my first time getting to do all of the fun touristy stuff. We spent the six hour drive singing along to our favorite pop music, were enraptured by the Golden Gate in all of its foggy wonder, and unwittingly were caught up in a disastrous firecracker lighting ceremony that left us simultaneously laughing and coughing our lungs up.

I wasn't kidding about that fog

I wasn’t kidding about that fog

As I’ve mentioned previously, S is my current bunkmate, and we’ve also done some world traveling together. This past weekend went along so smoothly, though, it got me to wondering why we’re so good traveling together, and what lessons I can take from roughing it with her to apply to adventuring with others.

1). We are aware of and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I am terrible with maps, but I am excellent at solidifying plans and making itineraries. S is amazing with directions, but sometimes lacks the foresight to see things through. We know these things about each other, and are accepting of them. Thus, I never try to plot our route without consulting her, and she lets me take the lead in making hotel reservations.

2). We are very go with the flow. I had really, really wanted to climb Coit Tower while we were in the city, and S was hell-bent on an Alcatraz tour. Sadly, Alcatraz had booked up weeks before we had even imagined ourselves visiting, and Coit Tower closed earlier than we were expecting. Rather than pout about it, we turned our extra time and money into an excellent seaside lunch and tour that involved taking a boat out underneath the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz. It was just as good, if not even more exciting, and at the end of the day our change in plans gave us more to do during our next trip there.

3). We are honest about how we’re feeling. Sunday night was supposed to be our fun night of dressing up and bar-hopping, but after a very full day of sightseeing, I was exhausted to my core. I was nervous to admit this to S, because I didn’t want to ruin the evening, but I could barely keep my eyes open in the cab ride over to the Mission district. Turns out, she was really tired too, and we ended up having a quiet movie night back at our AirBnb.

4). We make time for each other’s interests. I don’t think I could name a single Grateful Dead song to save my life, but S wanted to drop by an old house they had lived in, to honor her Uncle’s love of the group. So we made time for it. After all, she had accompanied me on a random detour into a cool glasses shop, where I spent about an hour and a half picking out a new pair. We realized that the trip was for both of us, and that it was important to honor the things each other was interested in.

5). We had an agreed upon plan for money. I wouldn’t say either of us is miserly, but we are still recent graduates trying to get by on minimal wages. Before we even left, we sat down to discuss how much we were each willing to spend (I wanted to keep my entire portion of the trip to $250), how we were going to pay for gas, etc. This way, there were no hard feelings when stopping at the gas station, or when I ate a breakfast I’d packed from home, rather than eating out. Nothing is more painful or awkward than trying to figure out money issues in the heat of the moment.

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Work{Book} Your Life Away

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If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. Chances are it will be the worst thing you have to do all day. – Mark Twain

Today was not the first day I noticed my to-do list remained untouched.

In fact, I actually had to go find my to-do list, which was buried in a paper bag in my apartment. Also missing seems to be my motivation. Maybe it’s just that time of year – fresh faced graduates are posting their smiling faces in caps and gowns all over social media, proclaiming how excited they are about the bright futures that await them!

Their Instagrams and Facebook posts seem to fuel my current discontent, but they’re not the source. In many ways, I feel stuck. What was once new and exciting has become more routine, and my motivation is flagging, dragging, and burning. I’m sure you’ve noticed, what with my inconsistent blog posts.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one going through these post-graduate blues. My roommates are also experiencing some ruts. Now, I’m ready to take action on them.

In researching for this post, I’ve come across several different methods to making an achievable goals list. Some use money as an incentive, others stress the steps of picking a goal, then breaking it down into quantifiable pieces.

As I stare at my planner, I realize that I’ve been doing just fine in breaking things down, assigning little chunks to different days to ensure I would never feel overwhelmed. It’s the follow through that is nowhere to be found. The pieces are all there, I just have refused to take action on any of them.

Oy.

Skip ahead. I’ve found a goals workbook that promises to help guide you through revamping your to do lists, and helps you look ahead at the future. I sign up via the blog Living Well Spending Less, which automatically enrolls me to their video mailing list. In exchange, I am able to Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 3.43.30 PMdownload the workbook, and in little breaks at work I begin to fill out the pages.

I find my problem at step one. The workbook has you list what activities you think are most important, as well as the ones you think take up the most of your time; whatever overlaps especially takes priority. I had very little overlap between my items, from which I concluded that I’m hardly spending any time on what I think is actually important in my life (health and wellness, friends and family, serving my community, writing), and wasting time (I actually wrote ‘surfing the Internet’ as something that eats up my time – yikes!).

Obviously, I spend a good chunk of my life at work, which is a necessity rather than a favored activity. There will obviously be days where I have to do things I don’t want to do (I’ve been needing to switch my car insurance for a while, I’m not looking forward to that). Overall, though, my free time has been drizzled away wasting time when I could be chasing dreams and making things happen.

Additionally, the workbook has had me imagine my dream future in five years (hello adorable apartment in San Fran!), plan short term goals, and much much more. I feel re-energized and more focused having completed it.

Feeling like you’re in a rut? Find the workbook sign up page here: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2015/01/05/effective-goal-setter/

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Well, I Tried: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

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Well folks, it’s the weekend, and you know what that means! After a long week of some very non-clean eating, it’s time for another installation of “Well, I tried”. This week’s recipe is for slow cooker honey garlic chicken, from the blog Just a Taste. Here’s what I thought:

The Ingredients: For the most part, very easy to find grocery items. Once again, I tried to get everything at Target, and was successful EXCEPT for soy sauce, if you can believe it. The only thing I blinked an eye at was the hoisin sauce, but I figured it’d be a worthwhile investment if I was sure to use it again.

The gang [minus onion] is all here!

The Prep: Not too bad, actually. You whisk the main ingredients together, pour them over the chicken breasts, and voila! It’s ready to cook. The only thing that took some time for me was dicing the onion, but that’s because I don’t know how to properly do so.

** Note: I took some liberties with the recipe. Firstly, I used boneless breasts, simply because Target didn’t have any with bones. Secondly, I used coconut oil instead of olive oil – it was convenient, because I already had it. Third, I stacked some pieces of chicken on top of each other, even the recipe says this is a no-no. I had to because my crock pot is tiny, and I wanted enough to last me. Next (yikes, I didn’t think I made this many changes), I cooked it for two hours on high, rather than four hours on low. This is because I don’t know proper time management skills and wanted to eat at a decent hour. Lastly, I skipped the toppings because I ran out of money at the store.

Simmering the sauce with the slurry.

How’d It Come Out? Wow. Hands down a really delicious, flavorful recipe that yielded more than I expected it to. The chicken came out moist and tender and had really absorbed the marinade without having sat in it for too long. I promptly devoured it with some rather unhealthy potatoes from a box but hey, this is a step in the right direction!

I took this photo and then promptly inhaled the food.

The Verdict: SO DELICIOUS! A huge recommend for everyone except my poor mother, who is allergic to chicken.

Stay tuned for more recipe adventures!

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The Day I Forgot My Boulder Holder

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There’s a funny story in my family that recounts the time a friend’s daughter had to have her father bring her a pair of underwear at high school, because she’d forgotten to put them on that morning. Endless laughter was brought forth in re-imagining the scene of the father, red faced, having to discreetly bring his daughter her favorite thong between classes. What a hoot! Who could be so forgetful?

I may have just topped this anecdote.

Flash back to this past Thursday. I’ve just finished a really kickass workout at the gym – I’m dripping with sweat, ready to shower and get ready for work. Normally, I pack my gym bag the night before, making sure I’ve got my towel, clothes, and makeup. That way, I don’t have to pack it in the morning at 5AM when I’m sure to forget something important.

I root around the bag for my flip flops and towel, and that’s when I realize what I haven’t got: a bra. And of course, this is the day I wore my workout shirt with the built in padding. And of course, I don’t have a single alternative.

My heart is beating in my ears as I ponder my options in the shower. There’s no way I can run back to my apartment, the LA morning traffic would guarantee I’d be late. Maybe I could stop at a store on the way?. I’d probably have to wait until a few hours later, when the Target down the street from work would be open.

I dried myself off and dressed, trying to get used to the feeling of being…bare.

Here’s my lo-down on bras:

  • I, like most women my age, have been wearing bras since puberty, even though I told my mother at the onset that there was no way in hell I was ever going to grow breasts, because they were horrifying.
  • The boob gods heard my prayers, because I check in at barely a B cup
  • Just because I don’t have much going on chest-wise doesn’t mean that it isn’t absolutely obvious when I don’t wear a bra
  • I don’t wear them to bed, nor sometimes on early morning runs to the coffee shop

As I continued prepping for the day, I kept reminding myself that bras are not a necessity! Shirts and shoes, yes. Bras? Nope! There are no rules dictating when or how to wear them. Over hundreds of years they’ve come in and out of fashion, and many women put them on every day tumblr_nlvbso3h5Y1se6x8po1_500without much thought. For some, it’s for support; for others, it’s to create a different illusion of what a we as a society think a breast should look like. Seeing a woman’s nipples through her shirt isn’t the rage right now. Bralessness is instead thought of being something indie or hipster-ish.

“I’ll look just like Kate Moss,” I tittered to myself silently as I walked out of the gym, conscious of the way my girls were moving wildly around with every step.

At work, I was even more self-conscious, arching my shoulders so my shirt would hang away from my body. I was sure everyone would look and see and realize. I went back and forth between feeling liberated and part of my own “social experiment” – if my coworkers saw, would they think any less of me? Would someone pull me aside to talk about ‘appropriate work attire’? Why is this bothering me so much? – to feeling almost naked, exposed. I didn’t want anybody seeing this nonsensical, jiggling production that was my chest. I wanted everyone to be able to focus on what I was doing and saying, rather than my appearance.

Two nerve-crushing, unbearable hours later, my social experiment was done. I was stressed out, thinking about what I’d do if I had to go up or down another flight of stairs, and was having trouble focusing on work. My co-worker and friend, whom I’d confided in about the whole stupid thing, finally pulled me aside and handed me two pieces of gauze and medical tape. I thanked her profusely before booking it to the bathroom, where I was able to tape down the more noticeable aspects and stabilize the jiggle effect.

After this, my day did a complete 180, and I nearly forgot about the whole thing until I came home and changed into my PJs.

What can I take away from all of this?

I got a cold dose of American culture, that’s for sure. In forgetting my bra, I was confronted with how bodies are so hyper-sexualized that seeing my silhouette through my shirt felt incredibly wrong and unprofessional. We wear these things daily, even when someone like me (who doesn’t need the added support) has no good reason to.

The whole scenario has got me thinking about all of these invisible aspects that guide women’s lives and dress codes daily. For now, though, I’ll stick to my Aeries and my Victorias Secrets, and will be sure to check my gym bag twice.

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Table for one: A Pintrest Dinner

I have finally taken the leap into the adult world by moving into my own place-well, room. I am realizing the level of freedom that comes with living alone is quickly overshadowed by all the responsibilities that comes with it. From budgeting to taxes, the copious amounts of adult related responsibilities pile up quick. More importantly, the responsibility of feeding myself is the most challenging.

I am no stranger to cooking. It has been a love since my toy kitchen days. I am also a lover of food shopping. Yes, I enjoy the days of clipping coupons and shuffling carts around Coca Cola displays. However, these fun activities quickly lose their kick when it is done for only one. Balancing a budget and cooking for one is difficult and a little boring. On one hand, it makes sense to get the chicken that is on sale. But,does it make sense to get 10 lbs. of chicken to get the sale? And if I did buy 10 lbs of said chicken, what can I do with it?

If you can guess, I can never pass up a sale. I turn to Pinterest to help solve my dinner woes. Specifically, last night I needed a little help. Here is what I had to work with: 5 lbs of drumsticks (.99/lb you can’t beat that!), 1.5 lbs of carrots, and 1.5 lbs of sweet potatoes. Here are the recipes I found:

Yet again, Pinterest saves the day. This $6 dinner held my budget in tact and allowed this solo diner lunch and dinner for a few days.

Jess (2)

adult |əˈdəlt, ˈadˌəlt|

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I’ve technically been an adult since I turned 18 years old in 2011.

I only just realized it very, very recently.

Graduation: the last major hurdle before impending adulthood

Graduation: the last major hurdle before impending adulthood

Jess’s article about being part of the Boomerang Generation really stuck with me, and I got to thinking about how the different generations compare. NPR is always totting the statistics to me: now, more than ever, Millennials aren’t reaching the classic milestones as quickly as their predecessors. We’re putting off buying houses and cars, getting married, and more. It’s the norm now – and this is especially true for many, many people I know – to move home with mom and dad to save money and to get their lives together before they embark out on their own. Seemingly, adulthood (as its been classically defined) is being delayed.

If you’ll graciously allow me, for just a moment more, I’d like to re-visit some well known facts about my 22-year-old self: I’ve moved cross-country, I have my first full-time adult job post-college, I pay all of my own bills (including rent), and I can make phone calls to strangers without getting nervous and hanging up. By all means, I am a mostly-developed human being.

So why haven’t I felt like I’m apart of the adult demographic?

The other night, I was home alone after work for the first time in a good while. I cooked up an actual meal, settled down on the couch, and eagerly switched on some mind-numbing TLC via Netflix. My choices were limited, so I ended up going with What Not to Wear.

At the start, my inner critic came out full force and I found myself yelling at the hosts on the screen.

Clinton & Stacy

Clinton & Stacy

“She LIKES her T-shirts and jeans, WHY CAN’T YOU LEAVE HER BE?” And so forth. The episode was about a production assistant in Hollywood who had been feeling pretty lonely since arriving there. The stylists threw away her boxy clothes, revamped her hair, and applied some smoky eye – voila! She was a new woman.

By the second episode, my ‘boos’ were more subdued. I watched as Stacy and Clinton plucked a 22-year-old woman off her trapeze (by day, she was a hairstylist) and out of her tight, fur-clad ensembles. At first, she put up a fight. She was a really great person, she insisted, once people got to know her. But first they had to get past her bold and mismatched style.

I agreed with her. She should be able to wear whatever she wants! It’s her body, her life. How dare other people refuse to sit in her chair at the hair salon simply because she had paired a bustier with zebra leggings and called it an outfit?

Stacy and Clinton sympathized with her (as much as they can, I suppose), but calmly explained that we don’t live in a utopia. We live in a society where people’s impressions of you begin the moment you walk in the door. What you’re wearing, how your makeup/personal grooming is, and how you’ve done your hair are all, unfortunately, factors. Unless you’re rich and famous, and then you can do whatever you want.

I began to see What Not to Wear in a new light. Sure, it still had its downsides (e.g. some unnecessary slut shaming). Nonetheless, it brought something important to my attention: I may be this twenty-something adult in Los Angeles, but my appearance hasn’t quite caught up. Call me stubborn, but I found a look that suited me a long time ago, and have since refused to change it. Long slightly wavy mermaid-length hair, tank tops and loose blouses, big glasses, a swipe of mascara, dark wash skinny jeans, and Sperry Topsiders. Comfort, minimal effort, and maybe an ounce of style were involved. Maybe not even, if you’ve seen photos of me from any family holiday gathering.

At my most hipster.

At my most hipster.

As previously mentioned, I’m a job holding adult. Not a chai sipping college lass poring over film theory books in the library. Something, finally, has to give.

Luckily, as an office production assistant, the transition won’t be too difficult because the dress code is very lax. Still, it’ll be important to find a balance between comfortable to move around and work in, and professional. I’m starting to realize why people keep mistaking me for an intern – I’m still working that inexperienced/student vibe. With a little inspiration (hello, Pinterest) and a bit of shopping, I’m going to give my look a swipe of chic adulthood. Soon, I won’t be anyone’s intern-look alike.

Except on the weekends, when I shall continue to wear bear pajama shorts and no makeup and parade around my apartment as I please.

p.s. For an interesting read, I encourage everyone to check out this article from The New York Times about how the adult as we know it is dead in America {I got a haircut anyways}.

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