Away We Go!

103Now that I’m working again, I’ve been getting back into the swing of professional life, re-establishing my reputation in the work place….and planning vacations. Travelling is one of my passions and during the many months that I was out of work, the most disappointing aspect was not being able to even think about taking a trip. My finances were on lock-down, and I didn’t want to plan anything too far in advance, in case a job popped up and I was jetting off the next week! But now that I’ve settled into work, I’ve already planned out my travel itinerary for the rest of the year! I have a New England getaway in July, a Charleston girl’s weekend in October, and then a sister trip to Istanbul and Greece in November! Who gave me back my credit cards?!?!

I really can’t help myself—it’s like I was a bear in hibernation discovering that spring has arrived! Or a baby tasting ice-cream for the first time! Or just a poor unemployed person that discovered money in her bank account again….such joy!! Regardless, it was exciting to fill up the calendar with adventures. And now I’m back in with my group of friends and family, who have already taken trips to Iceland, Scotland, Germany, Denmark, Canada, The Netherlands….we’re a well-traveled bunch!

Of course, I’ve already been asked if I should “really be doing that” when I just started working again. Well…first of all, rude. Second of all…when else am I supposed to do it? If you waited for the perfect timing or the ideal conditions to take a trip, you’d never go anywhere! I’m free, I’m young, and I have 6 months to pay off those bills!

What’s My Age: 20, harkening back to my study-abroad days where I traveled non-stop and guilt-free! 

Make It Rain!

102Last Friday was the day I have been waiting for for the past 5 months….PAYDAY!! That’s right: I have not deposited a single cent into my bank account since I packed up and left my last job. Even my tax refund went straight out the window and into paying for April rent! But thank goodness I’m so frugal—all the years of penny pinching and careful budgeting kept me afloat, despite the dollars that sailed right out of my account. But hey, that’s what it’s there for! You obviously work hard so you can find yourself unemployed for months on end, using hard earned savings just to grocery shop and pay your electric bill, right?!?!

In the middle of my stint of unemployment, I had coffee with a coworker (he paid…) and he said, as an attempt to appease my growing fears, “This is why you have a rainy day fund!” Well….in my mind, rainy day funds are supposed to be used for vacations! And ballet tickets and other things that are way more fun than canned goods and subway passes! But despite the fact that it rained a bit more than I was initially anticipating, it was a good exercise to look at things that I so carelessly spent money on—coffees, lunches, purses at Forever21—and lock those dollars down for more important and necessary things!

So obviously, I’m feeling an intense relief over finally making some money again. It will be nice to open up my wallet and not audibly sigh! I’m off to deposit the dough right now….I wonder if my bank account will be in a temporary state of shock over this nice change of events!

What’s My Age: 12, after making $20 babysitting and feeling like I could finally buy flare jeans from Mandees. 

Best Behavior

101Last weekend, my sister came into the city for a few days, and boy did we pack it in! We went thrift store shopping, had a picnic, saw a play, went out for drinks, listened to an outdoor concert, went to another concert on a roof, and ate Dairy Queen (the highlight….obviously). I don’t usually do that many activities in a month worth of weekends, let alone just one! But my sister is currently waffling back and forth over whether to make the move to the urban jungle, so I pulled out all the stops and crossed my fingers the city would be on its best behavior and lure her on in!

Well…..of course that’s not exactly how it went. I’ve lived here for almost seven years, including college, and I guess you become conditioned and oblivious to the various quirks of city life. The personalities, the crowds, the waiting for everything, the sounds and smells….par for the course as a resident of the Big Apple. But add an outsider to the mix, and all of those things come into laser sharp focus! Suddenly my crumbling apartment building looked more crumbly, the slow weekend trains were glacially more so, and the subway fanatics shouting and singing and begging were out in full force! And as a special bonus, she was fortunate enough to see a semi-naked person passed out drunk on the train! Welcome to your new home?

So we’ll see what happens–I sent her off to the bus with a substantially lighter wallet, but with a weekend full of life experiences! …Hopefully that makes up for all the nakedness.

What’s My Age: 56, a Bronx-born broad who’s “seen some stuff, hun!” 

Victory!

PrintMy life as an unemployed person is officially over! After hundreds of emails, dozens of job applications, and one late-night cry session (which coincided with the release of the new Sufjan Stevens album….#darktimez), I have a new job! Time to break out the company stationary! Time to restock on some free pens! Time for UNLIMITED COFFEE!!!

The amazing thing that I always seem to forget when I’m in the middle of some big and scary life transition is that things always work out just when you need them to. I was reaching the point where I was seriously reconsidering if I should keep on with my current career choice, while trying to figure out what else I wanted to do! Did I change careers completely? Go back to school and start fresh? Flee to Europe and live the vagabond life? On top of that, with a lease renewal looming in my future, there was the definite possibility that I would be moving back home. My potential future as a 27-year old babysitter/substitute teacher/waitress/camp counselor was coming into an uncomfortably sharp focus!

But then within the span of three days, I had a job! All of my efforts, angst, worries, fears and sleepless nights dissolved and I can barely remember that I was unemployed in the first place! And while I wouldn’t characterize my unemployment experience as an especially positive one, the relief I felt over getting back to work, and the appreciation I have for my new job is something I definitely haven’t experienced before. My work attitude that I’m “owed” something because I deserve it has been replaced with some much-needed humility and I’m just enjoying the fact that I’m back in the workforce and still fit into my pencil skirts! Ah, time for a coffee refill!

What’s My Age: 57, a wise career coach, assuring nervous college seniors that they won’t be unemployed for their entire lives. 

From Bear to Babe

Basic RGBIt’s finally nice out in New York! I can’t even begin to describe the sea change of emotions I feel when spring finally arrives. It’s almost ridiculous how much better I feel and how much more I get done after a few days of nice weather. This winter was a brutal one, compounded by the fact that I had no job to go to and was fighting a constant current of malaise. My motivation hovered at a two on an (imaginary) scale of ten, and I was proud of myself if I got out of bed before noon on most days! But now that the weather’s nicer, I’ve been jogging, cooking meals, making to-do lists, and have generally spent much less time huddled in my bed, quietly moaning.

But while my mood is in spring mode, the rest of me is still dealing with the transition out of hibernation! The laundry list of things needed to feel “spring ready” has had me on a self-improvement kick where the main goal is to make me look less like a bear and more like a spring chicken! Break out the razor, the nail polish, the shea butter! Schedule the haircut! Pull out the sunscreen!

I’m like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon of my unmade bed! I’m free! I smell nice! I don’t look like death! After 1,254,409 hours of prepping, I’m finally ready to emerge in the outside world. So I’ll enjoy the next few weeks of temperate weather before the hellscape of a city summer knocks me back down a few notches on that motivational scale!

What’s My Age: 48, right after a midlife crisis face lift, feelin’ fresh! 

Suburbia

98I’ve spent a lot of time at home over the past few months–having nothing else to do, I figured I’d spend some time with my with my parents, my sister, and most importantly, my dog. It’s actually been nice to take a breather from the stressful vortex of city life–all of my job anxieties and savings account funds get a necessary pause any time I cross state lines! Plus, a stocked fridge, cable TV, and a washer-dryer provide everything I’ve ever dreamed of! Over the last few months, I’ve caught up on my sitcoms, gone through an entire book of crossword puzzles, and have lounged around in a variety of out-of-date clothes from 8th grade, along with most of my mother’s novelty vacation sweatshirt collection!

Unlike in the city, where I care very much about how I look and what I’m supposed to be doing to seem “successful,” suburbia provides a welcome respite and I care about nothing at all! No makeup? No problem! Cargo flare jeans and a salmon colored “Bahamas” sweatshirt for an outing to the grocery store? Couldn’t care less! A morning spent watching ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ while reading People Magazine? …Pushing it, but still acceptable!

Obviously I’m not saying that people who live in the suburbs care less about their lives than city dwellers, but my personal experience is that the cut-throat mentality of urban life is pleasantly absent when I wake up to birds chirping instead of sirens and barking pit bulls! Considering my deep aversion to ever living in one, I seem to enjoy my life as a suburbanite….maybe it’s time to rethink!

What’s My Age: 47, with a sub-prime mortgage and a pension fund.