Money Versus Happiness

When we’re younger, we are always told we can be whatever we want to be. You usually don’t hear young boys and girls list jobs like accountant, secretary, plumber, or retail manager. (I’m not knocking those jobs but they just aren’t as exciting as ballerina, superhero, or movie star.)

When you’re younger, you don’t envision yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Even as old as college, this usually isn’t what we envision for ourselves.

We imagine that we’re going to have exciting jobs. Our passions will turn into careers. And these careers will provide us with enough money to travel, buy a home, and eat out to dinner whenever we want.

Somewhere along the way, usually when we spend months after graduation sending out our resume to every business within 100 miles of us, we realize that our passion does not always lead to money. We’re not all going to make it as YouTube stars reviewing cookies for a living. (I’m not hip to the latest YouTubers so I’m not sure if this is actually a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised.)

While the 9-5 jobs aren’t glamorous, they have their benefits. They provide a steady paycheck and health benefits. If you’re lucky, you may even land a job that will automatically set you up with a 401K or some other retirement fund.

I spent one long weekend in the summer going on 5 interviews in New Hampshire and Vermont. I was desperate to leave my current position. I spend at least an hour in traffic each way. I like less than half the people I work with. And I am not a huge fan of the patrons who frequent my library. There are a few nice ones but most are rude.

I wanted to get out of my current job and get out of New York City.

I had a goal in mind. I wanted to be the director of a small branch somewhere up in the mountains. I’d live in a small town where everyone knew each other and I could spend my weekends hiking and going to the local farm. Basically, I wanted the complete opposite of New York. I wasn’t happy where I was so I was determined to make a change.

I started applying for jobs in New England and soon began getting call backs. I was lucky enough to squeeze several interviews in a short span of time.

My last interview of a very long weekend was at this little branch in the middle of nowhere in Vermont. It was for a library director position and if hired, I’d be the only full-time employee. The rest of the library consisted of part-timers and volunteers.

When I was in library school, this library was where I imagined working. It was a small town. (I’m talking population of less than 5,000.) I would be the sole person in charge of this little library that needed a lot of help. The Trustees were working on a plan to expand the library and bring it to the 21st century. The library needed a lot of help. The bathroom was in the basement and the only way to get there was down very steep steps. No elevator. And there was no access to the building except for several steps leading to the front entrance. No ramp.

There were a whole slew of people in the town who couldn’t use the library simply because they had no way of entering. I instantly fell in love with the little town and the adorable old ladies who interviewed me. I was ready to take on the task of rebuilding this library.

So I was elated when they called me the day after the interview to offer me the job. Here was my chance to fulfill all my librarian goals. This  was what I went to school for.

Then I was given the full offer and my heart dropped.

You can imagine a library that cannot even afford a ramp does not have much of a budget. I knew that the salary wasn’t going to be great, I just wasn’t expecting it to be so bad.

They offered me $30,000/year with no health benefits and 5 sick days to kick in once I was working for a year. I knew it wasn’t them being cheap. They were offering me everything they possibly could, but sadly, it wasn’t enough.

I knew I would have been happy there. I definitely would have enjoyed that job a lot more than the library I work for now. And I would have loved working in rural Vermont much more than Brooklyn.

But in this case, I had to choose money over happiness. Sure the cost of housing is cheaper in Vermont than Brooklyn but not much else would be less. I’d still have to eat every day and pay my student loans every month. And now I’d have to add an additional bill of health insurance since the job didn’t cover it.

I had to reluctantly turn down the offer. I still haven’t given up hope that I’ll find my dream little library. I’m just hoping to find one that’s slightly better funded.

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Things Far More Scarier Than Halloween Spooks

Happy Halloween! I love Halloween. Besides Christmas, it’s my favorite holiday. You get to dress up in fun costumes. Watch scary movies. Eat as much candy as you want. What’s not to love about Halloween?

It’s also during the best time of the year. Halloween is in October when Fall really starts to make it’s grand entrance.

But the best part of Halloween is all the spookiness. The scary movies and the haunted attractions are my favorite. Halloween can be a pretty scary holiday. However, as scary as Halloween can be, there are things in life far scarier. Basically adulting and life in general is worse than any Freddy movie ever made. Below are just a few of the many things scarier than Halloween can ever be:

  1. Hearing the words, “We need to talk.”
  2. Paying bills.
  3. Any strange sound coming from your car. This usually means an unexpected trip to the mechanic which is always costly.
  4. Stepping on the scale.
  5. Making a doctor’s appointment.
  6. Going to the doctor.
  7. Waiting for the doctor to get back to you with test results.
  8. Seeing the cop car behind you turn on their flashing lights.
  9. Visiting the Instagram page of someone you should not be stalking and accidentally liking a pic from three years ago.
  10. Seeing a bug in the shower when you’re naked, half-blind cause you have no glasses, and basically defenseless.
  11. Thinking you’ve killed a bug and then have it drop somewhere after removing the paper towel.
  12. Getting a phone call in the middle of the night from a family member. (Grandma doesn’t drunk dial.)
  13. Anytime you have to set your alarm clock earlier than 7am.
  14. When you go shopping for only healthy food cause you’re feeling motivated but later that day all you want is junk food and your fridge is filled with only green shit.
  15. The first of the month when rent is due. 
  16. Student loans.
  17. Running into someone from high school at the supermarket. 
  18. The supermarket the day before a holiday. 
  19. The mall during the entire month of December. 
  20. Running out of wine. 

*What are some things you find much scarier than Halloween?

     

    Moving in Together Is a Big Deal but It Shouldn’t Feel Like One

    So my bf and I have decided to move in together. Technically he’s decided to move into my place. (Thank the heavens I don’t have to actually do any moving.)

    Whenever we tell other people, they always say the same thing, “That’s a big deal.” JR and I were confused when everyone kept telling us that. We didn’t feel like moving in together was that big a deal. We both naturally came to the decision because it made the most sense. We were already spending practically all of our time together anyway. Having one space we both called home makes things a lot easier. Now I don’t have to pack a bag or pray that I have clean underwear at his house. We’ve basically been living in two places which became annoying. The amount of clothing I’ve lost from going back and forth is atrocious. I had enough.

    So we decided to make this huge move in our relationship. (No pun intended!)

    I get that moving in together is a big deal and it’s not something that any two people should take lightly. It’s a big step in a relationship. If you do it too soon, it could ruin things. There is a lot you learn about a person once you live with them. It’s probably a good idea to try and find out as many of those quirks as possible BEFORE you decide to move in together.

    I knew I was ready to live with JR so it didn’t feel like a big deal. Here are a few of the reasons I knew moving in made the most sense for our relationship. I’m not saying these tips will work for every relationship but if you’re thinking about moving in with your significant other, it doesn’t hurt to check them out and see if they fit.

    We survived a big trip together. Back in June, JR and I spent 13 days traveling through Europe. While I love traveling and I have so many wonderful experiences from my trips, it can also be stressful. You learn a lot about a person when you see how they react with little sleep, multiple plane rides, and an attempt at navigating the Berlin train system.

    I was comfortable when it came to the two Ps with him. By two Ps, I mean poop and period. I know that everybody poops and it’s a natural part of life but I will admit that I’m THAT girl. The girl who likes to hide her bathroom habits for as long as possible. There was plenty of pooping right before I showered in the beginning of our relationship. Not anymore. I can thank our trip for eliminating any boundaries I once had when it comes to that. When you share one bathroom in a small hotel room, it’s impossible to keep your bathroom habits a secret.

    We spoke about the future. I cannot stress this enough, but do not move in with someone if you are unsure of where you guys stand. Having a talk about the future and marriage and kids can be scary. However, if you’re not able to bring up these issues, then you aren’t ready to move in together. Make sure you’re on the same page before you make such a big move. (There I go again with the no pun intended!)

    We were spending more time together than apart at this point. We were already spending most of our time together, it was just a matter of where. We had to decide if we were going to stay at his place this weekend or my place. Which then meant we had to really decide who is the one forced to pack a bag and who doesn’t have to.

    We were familiar with each other’s finances. Money is a hot topic when you move in together. There’s rent, utilities, groceries, etc. You have to figure out how things are going to be split and how much each person can afford. You don’t have to divulge everything. That will depend on the individual relationship but you need to know the basics.

    It felt natural. This goes back to the whole big deal thing not really feeling like a big deal. It felt like the next natural step in our relationship. And I think that’s how it should be.

    Maybe We’re Not Meant to Feel Settled

    Depending on how you look at it, the word settled can either be a good thing or a bad thing. When it comes to relationships, hearing the word “settling” is never a good thing. You don’t want to be with someone who you’re just settling for. And even worse, you don’t want someone to just be settling for you in a relationship.

    On the other side of the word settled, it evokes a sense of contentment. The official definition of settle is to “adopt a more steady or secure style of life, especially in a permanent job and home.”

    While I wouldn’t say that I’m completely settled in life, I’m as close as I’ve ever been. Especially when it comes to my career. On paper, I make a decent living. (Although I question that after paying rent, car insurance, and student loans every month!) I am in the job I went to school for and have moved up quickly in my company.

    I also have great friends, a loving family, an awesome bf, and a place of my own. Compared to my life even two years ago, I would consider myself settled. Or moving towards settled.  Hopefully, with a few more years in my company, I could save enough to buy my own property.

    But just when all these things started falling into place is when I started to get the itch to move. I have wanted to move out of New York for a long time. It was going to happen after High School. Then it was going to happen after college. Then it was going to happen when I kept moving from one dead-end job to the next. Then it was going to happen after I graduated from grad school.

    It was always going to happen until it wasn’t.

    The last move didn’t happen because I was offered the exact job I wanted the day after my last class at grad school. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So once again, I put my dreams of moving out of NYC on the backburner.

    And I’d probably let those dreams die out completely if it wasn’t for the overwhelming feeling of restlessness I’ve been experiencing. I don’t want to be settled. And I realized that I don’t want to ever feel settled.

    There is so much in life to learn and explore that we should never feel truly settled. There’s always something new to experience.

    The experiences will just be different for each person. Not everyone will feel the urge to pick up and move across the country. Maybe it’s always finding something new to talk about with your significant other. Maybe it’s mastering a new skill. Maybe it’s giving up YA books and making a goal to read more non-fiction.

    No matter how big or small, don’t ever settle in life. There’s always something new to learn and fall in love with.

    Cooking Tips from a Mediocre Chef

    If I told you a few years ago that I wanted to cook you dinner, you’d think one of three things: 1. OMG I hope this idiot doesn’t burn the house down. 2. Let me put the pizza delivery guy on speed dial now. 3. I better not get food poisoning. In many cases, you’d usually think all three.

    I was never as bad as the gif above. My family can make all the jokes they want, I never set the house on fire. (I did set the alarm this Easter for burning bacon in the oven but that was more the pans fault than mine.) But I was pretty bad. Thankfully, over the years I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in the kitchen.

    Now when I tell someone I’m going to cook for them, they usually think, “ok cool, there’s a chance this meal won’t be terrible and if I’m lucky and she’s on her game, it’ll actually be really tasty.”

    The list of things I can make comfortably grows everyday (mashed potatoes, buttercream frosting, homemade cake, tacos, roasted veggies, and more). At a certain point, I realized that cooking is a necessity. I can’t rely on someone else to cook for me all the time and ordering from seamless is an expense I just do not need.

    I have an oven, I have a fridge. I should be able to make things on my own. It didn’t come easy and there were plenty of mishaps along the way. This weekend I’m attempting bread for the first time so the list of mishaps will continue to grow. But I have gotten a lot better so I’d like to share some tips for a person afraid of the kitchen but who wants to get started.

    1. Start small. You’re not going to step into the kitchen and create a meal that Gordon Ramsay will love. That dude is picky so it ain’t going to happen. Try baking some chicken with roasted veggies and/or potatoes. This is a relatively easy meal that you can play around with. Choose different seasonings and sauces. Roast different vegetables. The possibilities are endless.
    2. Cooking is an art, baking is a science. When cooking something, it’s OK to tweak the recipe a bit. You can switch up spices. You can add a little less or a little more of something. However, this is not so easy with baking. Decide to decrease the amount of baking soda and there’s a good chance you’ll wind up with a lifeless cake. Wait till you’re really comfortable with baking before you start playing around with the recipe.
    3. The more you cook, the cheaper it will become. For awhile, I never cooked unless it was a special occasion. If I was going to a girl’s night, I’d decide to bake some cookies or bring some mac and cheese. Since this was the only time I cooked, I’d have to buy every single ingredient on the recipe list. As you start cooking, you’ll notice that there are plenty of staples found in many recipes. Once you buy these, they should last for several different recipes.
    4. You are enough to cook for. I love cooking for people. Cooking for people is fun. I love seeing the reactions of people when they enjoy what I’ve made. I also like getting critiqued on ways I could have made the meal better. However, you don’t always need an audience to whip up a yummy meal. I struggle with this a lot because I tend to only cook when my BF is going to be over. Don’t be like that. You deserve a home cooked meal even if it’s just a table of one.
    5. Take advantage of your freezer. Now here’s the downside of cooking for yourself or a small audience: Leftovers. Leftovers can be good for lunch the next day, but what if it’s just too much? Well, you’d be surprised at how many things you can freeze. I made a cake the other day and had way too much icing leftover. I packed it in an airtight container and put that bad boy in the freezer. Now, next time I make cake, I already have icing prepared.
    6. Freezers are also great for meal prepping. Cooking everyday can get tiring. No matter how much I enjoy it, sometimes I just want to come home and plop in front of the TV without touching the oven. That’s why I started making certain things in bulk. Soup freezes very well. I also usually make 2-3 batches of banana muffins at a time to freeze for later use. Instant breakfast on-the-go. Also, drop some chicken breast with salsa in the crockpot for a few hours and you can turn that into chicken avocado burritos for later use. Easy for lunch or dinner.
    7. Do not get discouraged! This is the biggest one of all. I have had so many mishaps in the kitchen. They are bound to happen. You will make meals that even your dog won’t eat. Don’t give up. The more you cook, the better you’ll become.
    8. Have fun! While 7 is the biggest thing, this is the most important. Cooking should be fun, almost as fun as the eating part.

    Happy Cooking!

    TBT: My Trouble With Stitches

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    It’s been awhile since I’ve done a TBT post. So here goes.

    I like to boast about my lack of trips to the emergency room growing up. I never broke a bone. ::knock on wood:: Never even sprained anything. ::again knock on wood:: (You better have knocked on wood after reading that. If you didn’t and I break something, I’m blaming you.)

    There was only one thing that made me go to the hospital as a child: stitches. I always found a way to rupture my skin deep enough that a band-aid couldn’t help.

    This Monday, there were two things I wanted to do when I got home from work: cook dinner and relax. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans for me. While my yummy crispy chicken was in the oven, I decided to do some dishes and dry them. I was drying a glass when it shattered in my hand almost severing a chunk of skin from my ring finger. (This is why I don’t clean. It’s dangerous!)

    Quick side note about the glass: Yes it was a wine glass. To quote my friend Pam, “It’s the ones we love the most that hurt us the most.”

    Everything after that happened pretty quickly. My bf took one look at the blood squirting from my finger and knew our night of relaxation had to be postponed. Three shots, several stitches and one immobile right hand later, I was home and in pain.

    I am not one of those people who posts a photo of themselves on the beach less than a week ago and calls it a TBT. That story was just meant as a set up. I am very familiar with stitches. This wasn’t my first rodeo. However, I was able to go 26 years inbetween stitch sessions. Pretty impressive for someone who is as clumsy as I am.

    When I was a kid, I made an art of getting stitches. It started before I was even one-years-old when I was first learning how to walk. My first trip to the ER happened when I was still doing the walking-like-a-penguin, need-to-hold-onto-everything-or-I’ll-fall thing.

    Eleven-month-old Liz was wobbling along in the living room playing with a coaster. (I was a weird child. Coasters are fun!) I had one hand on the coffee table and the other holding a coaster. (I bet you sang that like Alanis. If you don’t know who Alanis is, I love you but you may be too young for my blog.) At this time in my life, I wasn’t ridden with anxiety yet, I was still a brave soul. So when I reached the end of the coffee table, I thought I could make it to the end table just a few feet away.

    I couldn’t. The second my hand moved away from the safety of the coffee table, I went down. Down went my little body and down went my little mouth right into the coaster. Apparently, this coaster was made of steel because it ruptured the inside of my mouth.

    That was just the beginning of cuts above my face. My second foray into stitches was a direct result of me being a little shit. My childhood home in Brooklyn had these brick steps on the stoop. They were very dangerous and my sisters and I were always told to be careful. We rarely listened. The stoop also had a railing that was incredibly fun to slide down.

    I spent many hours climbing up and down this railing with no incident. At 5-years-old, it’s natural to think you’re invincible. Nothing can ever hurt you, until it does. That’s the only way to learn your lesson. And learn a lesson I did.

    I was playing on the railing when my mom told me to get down before I get hurt. I made a face and kept right on climbing. Not even two seconds later, Bam! I fell head first onto the concrete. I actually remember parts of this myself and not just from retellings. When I first fell, I blacked out. I do remember randomly waking up on a hospital bed as a doctor was examining my head.

    Once again, it was determined that stitches were necessary. I still have a small bald spot at my hairline reminding me that I’m a dumbass and should be more cautious.

    My last adventure with stitches before this week was interesting. It happened when I was 6-years-old and I was sitting in the back seat of my uncle’s car. Apparently I thought I was a dog, so I had my head out the window. This was also around the time when I started morphing into my true clumsy self. As my head was out the window enjoying the breeze, my elbow leaned on the button to close the window. Not wanting to have my head chopped off, I pulled my head back in. I just wasn’t fast enough.

    As my tiny head was making its way back into the safety of the car, my mouth got stuck. The car window closed on my bottom lip, almost ripping a corner of it completely off. (To this day, I am still not sure exactly how this happened. Nobody is.)

    I sat in the backseat of my uncle’s car screaming my head off with blood pouring down my face. The screaming kept up for the next several hours. My dumbass at one point started shouting that I needed a bandaid. My lip was hanging off but I thought a simple bandage would fix it right up. Brilliant!

    Having stitches on my face at 6-years-old was not fun. It was probably the first time I remember feeling self-conscious. So both my anxiety and confidence issues can be traced back to my stitches. And now I can add a fear of wine glasses to the list. Fun!

    Do you have any TBT stitches stories?

    It’s Complicated Until It’s Not

    There’s no secret that dating was not always easy for me. Just look through the dating and relationships tags on this blog and you’ll find many rambles from a lady who was ready to wave the white flag.

    When I was dating someone, I was usually left with more questions than answers. Does he like me? Do I really like him? When should I sleep with him? Will he judge me if it’s “too soon?” Can I actually see this going anywhere? Does he see this going anywhere?

    I regularly contemplated the why of the whole thing. Why am I even dating? Is it worth all the hassle, and the first date interviews, and the stressing about what to wear? Do I even want a boyfriend?

    That last question popped up in my head a lot. I was living on my own and starting a new career. I had this whole life of my own. I was already struggling to fit everything into my life. Did I really want to add in an entirely new relationship? Where would I find the time? Do I really want to bring a new person into my life, introduce them to my friends, have them meet my family, etc.?

    So. Many. Questions.

    By the time I reached my late 20s, dating was a very complicated ordeal. And it was. Dating can be complicated. Until you realize that it isn’t.

    Eventually you’ll meet that person where the only questions you’ll be asking are “what should we eat for dinner?” and ” what should we watch on Netflix tonight?”

    You’ll soon discover that if you have to ask “does he like me?”, the answer is either “no” or “not enough.”

    There will be that person you don’t need to struggle to find time for. They will fit seamlessly into your life. Making time for them won’t feel like a hassle or obligation.

    In its simplest form dating is easy. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy. Both boy and girl decide they want to spend as much time as possible with each other. I’m a firm believer in the theory that things shouldn’t be difficult in the beginning. The beginning is the time for butterflies and excitement.

    When you find that person who makes you stop questioning, hold on tight. You may have finally found your uncomplicated ever after.