Wedding Bells Are Ringing

It seems like everyone is getting engaged and married this year. And by everyone I mean mostly people I'm friends with on Facebook. My news feed has been overwhelmed with engagement and wedding photos of peers. They make the announcements and ask for advice on dresses and venues. And all I can think is, why?

We are so young. In the news and all the polls it shows that our generation is waiting longer to marry so they can focus on a career. Yet every week I'm seeing another person tying the knot. Some are even younger than I am.

I would like to set the record straight that I am not against marriage as a whole, I just think the current way of doing it is foolish. The institution of marriage how it stands now is a life-long contract. Not a commitment or a promise like the ceremony wants you to think, it is a legally binding contract. And just like any contract you want to get out of, it costs a lot of money and needs to be negotiated.

Think of any other contract you would ever agree to. A lease on a house, a loan, a cell phone plan. How long do they last? A year, 2 years, or until you pay it off. Not forever. Things change. We change. Would you ever sign a lease on a house for the rest of your life with no option to renegotiate and an absurd cost to break it? And I do not mean buying a house. That is different. You have free reign to change the house and re-sell if you buy. A lease does not give you that option.

I could never in good faith sign a contract that would last forever because I have no idea how anything will be down the road. People change just as much as circumstances and that isn't conducive to being legally bound to someone for the rest of your life.

Some people claim that my point of view on marriage is cynical, that I have no sense of romance and don't understand love. Some also claim that it is a religious sacrament and that I should respect that. I beg to differ. My point of view is realistic. People grow out of love just as often as they fall into it. I think the institution of marriage needs to be modernized just like everything else. Pre-nuptial agreements have become normal in society, why can't we make them a standard?

I have thought a lot about marriage lately because of so many statuses on my news feed that relate to them. I think if I ever do decide to marry, there will need to be a pre-nuptual agreement that stipulates a complete re-negotiation of terms after 5 years, including but not limited to dissolution of marriage. It is nice to think that you will always love the same person, but it's not realistic anymore. It was easy when we only lived to be 35 but now our life spans have doubled. I don't disrespect the sanctity of marriage at all, I just think it needs to adapt to the world we live in.

Congrats to all those getting married and engaged, I hope you stay in love.

Post Grad Dating Rituals

For many college students, dating centers around house parties, bars, texting, library study dates, and the occasional next-day brunch. In my experience, college dating is generally low key and very low pressure. After all, it's tough balancing a boyfriend with the ten page papers, reality tv marathons, friend time, and studying we have to attend to!

When we graduate, things change. All of a sudden your two friends that dated throughout college are engaged, others are moving in together, and the couple that you swore would make it are ending things because they're moving to different cities. The single ones? Well they have to navigate a whole new dating scene that can range from "grabbing drinks" after work, to dinner dates at nicer restaurants that actually close before 2 am.

Recently, my boyfriend showed me this article by John Ross who gives advice to a young guy who is about to take a girl he really likes out on a first date. To me, the tips Ross gives seem to cater more towards a young man who isn't involved in the college scene so much anymore.. so I'm curious to know if you all think these techniques might work in the post grad dating scene. The first time I read the article, I was completely offended. The second time, I was intrigued.

Ladies- Have you ever had a guy act this way towards you? Did his actions reel you in or push you away?

Guys- Have you ever treated a woman this way? Did she become your girlfriend, or did you end up with a burning red hand print across your cheek?

Do you think any of Ross's rules have a place in the post grad dating scene? Please check out the article and comment with your opinion- I'd love to know your thoughts.

(the article takes a few seconds to load, so wait it out!)

All Work and No Play

I am having a hard time keeping work and the rest of my life separate. My company just instituted an "On Call" schedule that rotates so that someone is always available to assist our clients. While I am not personally on this schedule, because I don't actually know anything about technology, I still have to assist my co-workers during these times.

I also recently have the need to check my work email at home. Not on my BlackBerry, actually logging in and checking it. I feel like if I don't I will get behind in everything that needs to happen. I actually get anxious about what assignments might have built up for me while I haven't been checking my email.
I do not know if this is just because of the line of work I'm in or if this is typical to most fields. Technology seems to be a 24/7 job. Part of me cannot understand why people need their BlackBerries fixed at 1am, but we get requests all night. But when I get to work in the morning, there are so many requests waiting for me it is overwhelming.

And now I feel the need to always be in the loop about what is going on at work. I used to be done as soon as I left the office. I wouldn't answer my work phone, I wouldn't check email. Everything was separated by whether or not I was in the office. Now I am worried I'm being coming the female Ari Gold who works all the time. How do you all balance work and the rest of your life? I'm killing myself the way I'm doing it now.


One of the major lessons I've learned from blogging here on The Real Post Grad is to be accepting of the different paths we all take after college. Through this site, Shikole and I have had the chance to connect with grads that are working full time and part time, living in new cities, traveling, staying in their college towns, or moving back in with parents. I've come to realize that no one lifestyle after graduation is perfect. It all depends on what works for you.

This weekend I visited home and attended a street festival that my very small hometown waits all year long for. I saw people from high school that I haven't seen in years, and the first question many asked were, "where are you working??" While my full-time work lifestyle seems to be approved of by most, I hate the looks that my some of my friends who are working part time jobs, or jobs not related to their majors always tend to receive when this question comes up in conversation.

You know the look.. it's the raised eyebrow, followed by "oh.. well you're on your way..." It's almost like silent judgement radiates off of them. Sometimes, I just want to shake these people and tell them to remember just how lucky they are to be working in the exact field in the exact "perfect position" they desire (if they even truly are). I don't mean to downplay the hard work and determination it takes to land a dream job, but we'd be kidding ourselves if we ignored the fact that luck plays into things too.

Before starting my current "career" job, I was ready to become a waitress, a camp counselor, or head back to working retail because it just didn't seem like there were any jobs for writers out there. If I hadn't happened to be randomly job hunting on a site I'd never visited before on a Friday at 3:30pm, I would have missed my chance at this position.

The moral of this rant? If your career is heading in a great direction, take a minute and appreciate just how lucky you are. Remember that you could have easily been among the post grads with less than ideal working situations. Try to offer them help in their search, or words of encouragement instead of judgement.

Benrik Update

The Benrik challenge has made me realize that follow through is a practiced art. One that I have not practiced enough. I have completed a mere 1 challenge since the start. The challenge was to write a poem and post it in a public place. I wrote a 4 lined simple masterpiece and posted it at the mail center for my apartment.

While all of the challenges in the book have purpose, they are impersonal. I have realized that my follow through needs to be practiced on things that are individual to me.

So today I am going to follow through in writing a draft of a personal essay. A few friends and I just began a writing group in an effort to hold each other accountable for our writing. Ever since I read "I Was Told There'd be Cake" I have wanted to publish a book of personal essays. My weakness, though, is that when I write down the stories they come out as flat as a solo cup of beer left out all night after a party. When I tell the stories verbally, I love them and they come out bubbly and fun. I need to figure out how to make the words on paper become 3-D.

The group is meeting in August and I resolve to have a complete essay done by then. And don't worry, I will share it after I get some peer review.

Liz Funk Book Tour Stop Today!!

Today is an exciting day! We have author Liz Funk here to answer any questions you might have about her life, the book, or her post grad experiences in general. This is the 1st book she is releasing in a 4 book series. More information can be found on the website.

We have one: Dear Liz, how are you already so succesful at 22??

Also, you can enter to win her e-book Coming of Age in a Crap Economy in the comments.
Here's how to enter (you have up to three chances)

1. Ask Liz a question!2. Tweet about the giveaway and mention CrapEcomony
3. Tweet about Liz's book and mention The Real Post Grad

Liz, if you wouldn't mind, can you begin by telling us all about what gave you the idea to write this book. We have been toying with the idea for almost a year and would love to know the story behind yours.

Sting Like a Bee

This morning I was driving to work as I do 5/7 days of the week. The Shikar has no air conditioning so I had the windows down as usual. My favorite song of the moment was blasting on the radio and I was tapping the steering wheel to the beat. Had I been near a beach it would've been a cliche scene from a bad teen drama.

Instead my hair was going nuts with the heat and I was stuck at a stop light in Virginia. The light turned green, I accelerated, and wouldn't you know it, a large friend decided to join me.

A wasp the size of a clementine flew in my window and landed on the dashboard. As I was driving 50 mph it's stinger zipped by me. And it sat there. And stared at me. It was hairy, I had never seen a hairy wasp. Maybe it wasn't a wasp at all. But it had a stinger.

I froze. My eyes were wide behind my sunglasses. I was in the center lane, pulling over required checking my blind spot and taking my eyes off the huge stinger that was staring at me. But I had no other choice. I pulled into a parking lot on the side of the road, put my car in park and had every intention of getting out. Then the thing started flying around inside the car. Before I could get out.

I started to panic.

Then it flew right out the window again. Not like the bird who always got stuck on our screen porch and couldn't find its way out. This wasp-like creature knew exactly how to get back out.

And it was today that I realized my previously unknown fear of being trapped in an enclosed space going at a high speed with a creature that can sting me. My heart was in my throat before I even got to work.

Get Ready.......

Tomorrow, author Liz Funk stops by our blog to answer questions about her book Coming of Age in a Crap Economy. She'll also be giving away a copy to one lucky reader!!

There will be 3 ways to enter: commenting on the book tour, following her on twitter and mentioning us, and following us on twitter and mentioning her.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow (Friday) to meet Liz and ask her any post grad questions!

Coming of Age in a Crap Economy

Coming of Age in a Crap Economy by Liz Funk

Allison: I thought this book was definitely well researched and inspiring. I loved that Liz interviewed post grads with a wide range of backgrounds and ambitions, while mixing in the opinions of other professionals and the history of how our economic situation has come to exist. Instead of speaking down to recent graduates as many articles in popular media today seem to do, this book had an encouraging tone and left me feeling like there is a lot more in my post grad life that I could be accomplishing.

My only criticism of the book is that the sheer amount of interviews (while all extremely interesting) can sometimes be overwhelming to read. As I think back to the book, it's hard for me to pick one interview that stood out because there were so many.

That being said, I still believe the book is an inspiring read and I look forward to the second book in the series!

4/5 stars

Shikole: Coming of Age in a Crap Economy is the book equivalent of an anthem for our generation. Liz mentions that our generation is one of the few that doesn't have a World War to bond over or define us. The economic struggle is our World War. There are very few post grads that are not affected by it. The effect of the economy on our lifestyles, outlooks and success is universal.

One of the things I liked best about this book is references Liz made to so many aspects of pop culture. Pop culture IS generation Y. How do we deal with losing our jobs? We watch television shows like Dexter to try and remember that other people's lives might be worse. Our struggles are even being used in pop culture as a theme. There was a movie released in 2009 aptly titled "Post Grad" that almost every one of us can relate to. I still haven't decided if seeing post grad struggles on screen makes me feel better or worse about it.

I agree with Allison that the amount of interviews gets overwhelming. I would have loved to have seen a case study or two instead that delved deeper into a post grad story. Obviously other interviews would have been needed to prove some points, but the only interview I can remember after reading is Caitlin's. And I only remember hers because we share an alma mater.

I think the best thing you can take from this book is that we, as a generation and as individuals, need to re-work the equation we thought equalled success. Behind the struggle, the failure, the rejection and even the optimism, is the bottom line: Post Grads in today's economy have to do it differently.

Rating: 3.8/5

We will be giving away a copy of Liz's book "Coming of Age in a Crap Economy" on Friday so be sure to come back to enter!

Beating the Heat

This summer I seem to be stuck in a strange sort of unmotivated state. I'm not sure if it's the heat or work frying my brain, but I'm finding that all I really want to do these days is be near water, or taking part is some sort of cliche summery activity. I've already done mini golf this season, I've gone to the lake, I saw fireworks for fourth of July, and I've been swimming every weekend (although it's in an indoor lap pool, so that doesn't really count).

Unfortunately, I haven't had the motivation to blog much, or use the gym as much as I should, and all of a sudden grocery shopping and other chores that I actually enjoyed doing when I first moved into my place aren't so fun anymore. This past winter, I loved doing all of these things.

It's time for me to get out of this lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer mindset and start accomplishing some personal goals.

How do you all kick start your routines during the summer? Does anyone else feel like they've been in a summer daze the past few weeks?

A Little Bit Texas

I have a good friend who is a Texan in every way: big hair, southern twang, loves country music. There is a Texas BBQ restaurant that recently opened in DC that she has been trying to get me to go to. Last night, we finally went.

It's funny because the restaurant is actually one of my clients. I couldn't help but ask the management how their phones were working while I was at the bar. They thought I was really drunk, little do they know, now I can make sure the phone at the bar downstairs gets fixed on Monday.

Anyway, Hill Country BBQ in DC is the 2nd of it's kind. The owner has one in New York City as well. I had never been to a Texas BBQ place before. I had expected waiters in cowboy hats to greet us and for everything to be bigger than it should be. I was disappointed that when the waiters were just all wearing matching t- shirts that said "Hill Country" on them.
The place looked rustic, but in a very fake kind of way. I have never been to a BBQ in Texas, so I am not sure how the place should have looked, but I think they did a great job. I felt like I had gone from the busy DC streets straight into the heart of Texas. There were wooden tables lines up cafeteria style, and you ordered your food cafeteria style too.

Oh the food! I had the Moist Brisket on the recommendation of my Texan friend and I am SO glad I did. The meat was so tender it melted in my mouth. It didn't even need condiments, which is a lot coming from me. I put condiments on everything. The Campfire Baked Beans were also noteworthy.

The restaurant also has free live music every Saturday night. Last night, lucky for me, there was a band playing that was more rock than country. And they knew Tom Petty songs, which we requested when we made friends with them between sets.

So I learned that I love Texas food, I need to acquire more country-worthy clothing, and that country boys can sometimes be sexy.

Meet Liz Funk

Hey readers, in the next week, The Real Post Grad is going to be a virtual book tour stop for Liz Funk, author of the new e-book series Coming of Age in a Crap Economy. Liz is a New York-based freelance writer and author whose already written for many impressive publications, such as USA Today, the Washington Post, Newsday, New York magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and Oh, and she's only 22.

Although she is clearly accomplished, Liz still experiences the same things we write about on a daily basis here at The Real Post Grad. It might seem hard to believe with her impressive credentials, but Liz actually hasn't been offered the coveted full-time job with benefits that we post grads seem to strive for. Instead of wallowing in the hopelessness of the economy, she instead uses her new e-book to talk about how post grads can create their own opportunities and make the best out of their situation, which is definitely something we stand behind.

We think Liz is pretty inspiring, and we're excited to read and review Coming of Age in a Crap Economy early next week. At the end of the week, Liz will be stopping by at The Real Post Grad to answer some of your questions and give away a copy of her book! Stay tuned!

Deception Point

Deception Point by Dan Brown

Dan Brown has an amazing way of making something boring into something intriguing. Like a meteorite. I mean, they can be cool in the "oh wow this came from outer space" kind of way. However, when you start getting into the actual science of it, you lose my interest.

Unless you are Dan Brown. I have never wanted to know what made a chondrule and chondrule more in my life. Hell, I didn't even know what a chondrule was until now. Nor have I ever cared so much about how an oceanic vortex was created and what kinds of life forms thrived in them.

After reading that last paragraph, would you expect this book to be a murder mystery? I didn't either. I honestly had no idea where the author was going with all this until about a third of the way in. Mystery books have never been high on my list of good reads, but this man knows how to make it interesting.

I must admit I have a small bias because several of his books take place in DC. I happen to live in DC so reading about places that I am familiar with makes me more interested than if I was reading about a dead end road in Oklahoma. Tell me the character is on Leesburg Pike headed towards the FDR memorial and you've got my attention.

Read this book if you like:

Rating: 4.2/5 Stars

Location Inspiration

I'm not going to be moving from Rochester for a while, but lately I've been starting to get excited about the next place I'll eventually live. The only problem is... I don't know where that will be.

For a while, my heart was set on Austin, TX. Then summer graced Rochester with it's presence and I realized that just as I hate blizzards and driving in Rochester snow, I also am not made for 100 degree weather.

So I'm just throwing this out there to our readers- where are you all from? Do you live in an awesome city or do you have plans to move anywhere exciting? Have you visited a city that would be perfect for young professionals?

I need location inspiration!

I Suck At Dating

If you know me at all you know my attention span tends to be on par with that of a 6 year old. I love shiny things, get distracted by a song, and always need to be doing something. In simple terms, I get bored easily.

Unfortunately this often carries into my dating life. I tend to find a guy I may like, exchange numbers, go on a few dates, then get bored. That is my M.O. Has been forever.

It's not like I even dislike the guy I happen to be dating at the time. That would at least give me a good reason to stop dating him. Sometimes I even know that I do like him. But liking a guy doesn't mean I will continue dating him. There is so much more to it than that.

I would like to add that I am not bored on the dates themselves. Conversation, chemistry, all of that is great on the first 1-4 dates I go on with someone. I often find several common interests, things we both want to try. On the dates, all signs point to go. Then my desire to continue dating that person just dissipates.

This is not a common issue you see on dating and relationship blogs or magazines. Usually they list reasons a woman is bad at dating that include things like being too bitter or not putting yourself out there or trying to date the wrong men. I don't relate to those (although the types of men I date are questionable at times, sometimes you need to experience Mr. Wrong before getting to Mr. Right.).

Now I've thought of a few things that can explain this phenomena in my dating career.
  1. I'm really low maintenance. When you first start dating someone you tend to go out a lot. That is, after all, what a date usually is. But I like to cook more often than eat out. And I prefer being on my couch in sweats than dressing up for dinner. Going out actually gets me bored. And most men assume a girl wants to be wined and dined all the time. I don't.
  2. Along those same lines, I like casual things. Just hanging out at home with the tv on or playing video games or grabbing a sandwich. If I could hang out at home with a guy instead of go to dinner and it was still awesome, that is a good sign. I like to try new things, but the person needs to fit into my every day life too.
  3. Where I meet the guy matters. Friends of friends are great because you often meet in a casual environment where you are just hanging out. No pressure. No expectations. That is what I like. I have enough pressure and expectations at work all week, I don't want to feel that way while dating. If I do, I stop paying attention.

I feel bad when I hit my boredom plateau with someone. I usually know it's coming, even if the dates are going well. It also sucks, because even the potential of sex and romance makes life so much better. When I get bored the potential goes away. Until of course I find a new guy to get bored with.

I'm sorry to all the men out there who have experienced this and I wish I had a better explanation to give you. Unfortunately I do not. On the bright side, though, if we've made it past 4 dates or 4 weeks, whichever comes first, and I'm not bored, it looks promising for you.

Food Allergies

The other night as I was decompressing from a stressful few days of car purchasing, I found myself on watching their show True Life. If you haven't seen it before, it's pretty much MTV's "documentary" show where they follow around young adults with different lifestyles. In college, my roommate and I would procrastinate homework and huddle around my computer watching these episodes.

The one I watched most recently was called True Life "I Have Allergies". Which is actually true life for me. The kids in this show had severe allergies, which thankfully I do not! But I do have allergies. Aside from being allergic to penicillin, not a huge deal in everyday situations, I'm also allergic to legumes: peanuts, peas, chickpeas, snow peas, and various beans. I get an upset stomach, but what's scarier is that my throat actually itches when I eat these foods. That's a sign that it's swelling shut.

As a child, I was the kid who wasn't allowed to eat birthday cake if an over protective parent found out I had an allergy to peanuts (fyi, companies put "made in a plant that also processes peanuts" on EVERYTHING these days, including cake mix). I was also that kid who threw up in front of my second grade class after eating a peanut butter cookie. Some of my oldest friends still love to tease me about that shining moment.
Most kids have one allergy or another, so it was never a big deal growing up to say "I can't eat that, sorry!" In college it wasn't too bad either, mostly because one of my best friends, and the roommate I watched True Life with, was severely allergic to dairy. We would often joke about how one small bag of peanut m&m's could take us both out.

Now after college, it seems like having an allergy is a little bit....embarrassing. I've had a few times this year when I couldn't finish a dinner out with friends because there were legumes in the recipes and my throat started to itch and swell. If my boyfriend eats peanuts around me, he can't kiss me until he brushes his teeth or else my lips swell. This past weekend, one bite of gelato that I was told was pistachio sent me to the bathroom rinsing my mouth and popping benadryl in under five minutes. It ended up actually being peanut butter cup.

I know it's just a matter of being comfortable enough to ask about ingredients, but at this point in my life, it just makes me feel like an elementary schooler. Do any of you have adult allergies/ stories to share?

Fireworks and FIsh

My sisters came to visit me for the 4th of July weekend. This is my lame excuse for being absent. It's hard to blog and hostess at the same time. But I am back! And have pictures to share from the adventures.

We went to the National Aquarium on Sunday. While that, in itself, is exciting, I also took the sisters on the metro for the first time. They were quite intrigued with the whole system, especially the fare cards and names of stations. They particularly liked Ballston, pictured below.

We also ventured to the National Aquarium where there were many a Finding Nemo reference, including voices. It's definitely not as big as other aquariums I have been too, and it doesn't have full sized sharks, but it is a lot cheaper than other aquariums and has really cool purple glow in the dark fish. I hope one day DC decides to upgrade to a respectable National Aquarium, but for now I guess it will do.
I also hosted a BBQ on fireworks day so that all my friends could see the new place. Somehow only a couple had before this weekend. Personally I think BBQ day was a hit, minus the failure of cooking those awful turkey burgers Roommate insisted on. At least we had beef as backup.

We got to watch the fireworks from the beautiful Air Force Memorial with a panoramic view of the city and all its monuments being illuminated. It's things like that that are going to make me miss DC a lot around the 4th when I no longer live here. I hope the rest of You had an equally amazing holiday weekend!

Happy Fourth!

I hope all of you are enjoying your long weekend! Here are a few photos from this past Thursday when Gabe and I went to see the sunset at Lake Ontario. What were you up to this weekend?