Old Habits Never Die

PrintI’ve been at my new job for a few months now, and I feel like I’m completely back into the groove of an employed person. Back to the grind, back to TGIF’s, back to the many, many bad habits I had the last time I was a working stiff! See, I had such high hopes for myself when I first got this job. Aside from the overwhelming relief of being rescued from the imminent danger of becoming a diner waitress, I saw this as an opportunity to overhaul the quirks I had accrued over my five years of working. The waking up late, the buying lunch every day, the complete disaster that is my apartment at the end of the week….but no such luck! I am hopeless.

Of course, it didn’t start out this way. That first week back at work, I was a model for the “perfect employed person.” I set my alarm and got up when it went off. I chose my outfits the night before. I prepared lunches and even brought snacks. I folded my clothes and put them away at night, ate dinners I cooked myself, and turned the lights off at 11:30 sharp after reading quietly and listening to Beethoven.

And this week?? Well….I set my alarm for 8:30 and rolled out of bed at 9:15. I picked extremely unflattering pants in my panic to get out the door in time and spent the entire day feeling self-conscious. I threw a yogurt in my bag, bought my lunch, and had cereal for dinner. Despite my best intentions, I went to bed at 1:30 am, after inexplicably reorganizing my iTunes library and playing 15 games of Solitaire. My purse is a disaster. I can’t find my umbrella. ….I haven’t changed AT ALL. I guess my dream of becoming an ENTIRELY NEW PERSON has yet to be realized!

What’s My Age: 22–perpetually stuck in my first-job bad habits.

Cool Status

PrintMy neighborhood has been getting a lot of press lately–I opened up the newspaper the other day to see it splashed across the page as a “hidden gem”; the new noodle restaurant around the corner from my apartment was recently reviewed in the New York Times; and at least three people in my office have mentioned looking for an apartment in the neighborhood within the past month! Who would have thought that I would be living in a place that other people think is hip and happenin’?

Well, one of the new cafes in my neighborhood took its cool and hip status straight to full-on gentrification nation, and charged me almost $5 for a very small iced coffee! Two days ago, no one knew this neighborhood existed, and now suddenly it’s “Williamsburg, circa 2012”! I immediately transformed into a grumpy old lady by raising my eyebrows off my face and bemoaning this hipster cafe and their cold-brew blends and their mason jar decor before taking my expensive coffee to go…and thoroughly enjoying it.

Oh New York…as a person who has never considered herself “hip to the times,” I don’t really know what to do with my status as resident of a newly minted “cool neighborhood.” But I guess it was only a matter of time before other young people realized they could actually afford nice apartments in the area and then flocked here in droves, spending the rest of their savings on expensive coffees. At least I can be one of those annoying people who says things like, “I lived here before it was popular.” ….Which is possibly equally as insufferable as selling five-dollar coffees. A match made in heaven! ….or time to move!

What’s My Age: A 75-year old living in a rent-controlled apartment, talking about the “good ‘ole days” while sitting on her stoop.

Freelance Freedom

111I’m currently a “freelancer” at my job, which means that although I work 5 days a week and will for the foreseeable future, I just don’t get any health benefits or paid vacation days. When I first started working after college, freelancing was my biggest fear. During the first 6 months at my first “real” job, I stressed every single day about getting a staff position and spent every spare second with my coworkers obsessing over when and who would get it first. And when I was hired full-time, I was stressed that I would get fired and would have to start freelancing again! Even until the day I quit, I always felt like I was on thin-ice, for no reason other than my own neuroses!

But now, 4 years down the line, many job experiences and months of unemployment later, my anxiety over freelancing has suddenly become a non-issue! I’m just happy to have a job and have automatic deposit every 2 weeks! I never thought I would feel this calm and laid-back about my job. I’ve always been so focused on feeling “successful” that I never really thought about what that actually meant. Is it successful to be working at a job you love in a field you’re qualified to work in? I would say so! And this is the first job I’ve ever had where I’ve felt like that is enough for me. Do I need a parade thrown for me everyday, celebrating my career greatness? No. Do I need to feel like I’m better than all of my other coworkers at everything I do? No. Did I ever think I would not feel that way?? …No!

Some of that was obviously a product of the work environments I used to be in, and most of it was a product of my personality. But the past few months have been so refreshing to just feel okay with my work and how I’m doing. And it’s nice not to go to work everyday and feel like I need to prove myself with everything I do. I’m enjoying this new page of my career! Who would have thought it wouldn’t come with a 401K and pension plan?!

What’s My Age: 27, finally out of the weeds of early career paranoia! 

The Hunt 

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Last month, my sister and I started discussing the possibility of getting an apartment together. I love where I live now, but I wouldn’t mind sharing the rent and having a house buddy, and she’s living at home and wouldn’t mind have roommates who aren’t 56 years old. But of course, making this dream a reality quickly proved to be COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE and I was reminded of the ridiculousness of New York real estate and struck by the fact that I had apparently experienced a miracle direct from God when I found my apartment 4 years ago!

I warned my sister ahead of time that this process would be hectic and stressful, and we both agreed that if we didn’t find something in time, we would look a few months down the line. But of course, the second I’m given a challenge, I feel the need to attack it full-force, so I started scheduling viewings and open houses, determined to find us “the perfect place.” Well….”perfect” in New York speak means “livable…for the most part,” and my blood pressure was put to the test as I toured over-priced shoe box after over-priced shoe box. Here’s a tip if you’re a realtor: don’t describe a dark, windowless apartment as “charming and cozy.” The proper terminology is “HOVEL.”

But then our luck started to change and I started seeing some really great places! The tides were turning! The sun beams were flowing through the double windows in the living room! We handed over our paper work, started planning our housewarming party….and were told the apartment was taken. So….we did it again! We found a place! We wrote the checks! ….We were told it was taken. So…..we found another spot! We picked out a couch! We named it “Casa Pry”! ….And we lost another application. So at that point, we threw in the towel, went back to a respective homes and called it until the fall. Looks like I’m stuck with my noisy neighbors and my sister in suburbia for a few more months!

What’s My Age: Wishing I was a 55-year-old real estate tycoon with money to burn on a park-view classic-6! 

Vacation Vibes

109I recently got back from a long weekend and it has literally taken me a full week plus an additional weekend to feel like I’m back in the swing of things! Why is it that a little vacation can affect such a large swath of time before and after going? For the few days leading up to it, I was spacey and distracted, thinking about packing and coming up with activities and getting out of the city. And for the week after I got back, I was sorting through photos and reminiscing over a 72-hour time-span where the primary activities were just sitting on a deck drinking wine! Life changing!

I feel like I shouldn’t have needed the vacation as much as I felt I did…I’ve only been back at work for two months! And sure, it’s been an extremely busy time, and we can all use a break once in a while. But my need to get out of the city and away from the routine for a few days was practically overwhelming! You’d think I was some over-worked office drone who hadn’t taken a vacation in years! I guess it’s just what happens when you’re back in the corporate environment…gotta work to get away!

Obviously, unemployment was no picnic, and I wouldn’t characterize those five months as “vacation” (except for the weekend I spent in Jamaica and the week I went skiing in Colorado….), so I’m still going to say I earned a few days away. And I feel like I’ve been working and back to the swing of things like no time has passed at all! While it’s good that I feel so comfortable at my new job, maybe I should log a few more months before jetting off to my next destination!

What’s My Age: 47, a jaded office drone who’s “working for the weekends.” 

Chit Chat

108Ah, the gift that keeps on giving! These are some of my favorite posts to write, because, one, I love being nosy, and two, I love posting these tidbits sans context. On my daily commute, I usually pop my headphones in, bury my nose in a book, and tune out the cacophony around me, but once I spot a pair of twenty-somethings, all bets are off! This round brought some especially cringe-worthy and eye-brow raising revelations from my compatriots.

  • Friend 1: “She said that she’s not even sure she wants to get married anymore and maybe she’ll just be single her whole life.” Friend 2: “She’s only saying that because she’s single right now!”
  • “Her sister is just like her, except for 10,000 times more intense. She’s been in her thirties since she was like 12 years old. She’s just nuts….but in the best possible way.”
  • “She doesn’t know how to behave around us or in social situations, but she knows how to be by herself.”
  • “If they stayed together and got married that would be so boring to me. She was his first girlfriend–like go out and try other people.”
  • “Claire. I met a boy last night. I couldn’t even speak he was so pretty. He’s British!!”

I’m jealous of Claire’s friend. Hope that worked out!

What’s My Age: Feeling wise beyond my years…while also agreeing and commiserating with all of these statements.