I've noticed a few peaks of judgement in my life so far. One was in middle school, where the girls are mean, the boys are short, and everyone has some sort of braces contraption in their mouth or new glasses. The next peak was senior year of high school. As my class prepared to make the leap from our small town lives to college, people were judged based on their college choices (or lack thereof). The third judgemental peak has occured in the year since graduating college, where the question "so.. what do you do?" seems to start off every first conversation. I finally feel like this judgement is simmering down as I enter my second year as a post grad. Maybe the fourth  peak will be when everyone starts to have babies and get married? Who knows..

I can't say that I have never looked at a Facebook profile or heard some gossip about a high school acquaintance and thought about how my life is so much more put together then theirs. I'm sure people out there have done the same to me. Since I feel completely rotten when I do judge others, I've been trying to instead think with an open mind about people who are living lifestyles that are different from my own.

For example, a few of my good friends have moved back the Hudson Valley (where I grew up) after going away to school. When I graduated college, moving home was the last thing I wanted to do and I couldn't imagine why anyone my age would choose to live there. But I've come to realize that there are family reasons, boyfriend reasons, school reasons, job reasons.. there are countless reasons why these people have chosen to move back to their hometown, and the ones I know seem very happy.

Another type of judgement I've noticed in the post grad world stems from job choice. I am much less judgemental about jobs for some reason... probably because my job is not glamorous and mostly serves to pay the bills. I can't tell you how many times I've overheard grad students throwing digs at post grads who aren't following their passions or are stuck working retail jobs. I've seen those that were lucky enough to land their high profile dream job look down on those who haven't yet, instead of embracing how luck and timing have worked in their favor.

I think we could get a lot more out of our lives by trying to minimize our judgements as post grads. Like Shikole posted a few days ago, this is the time of our lives to set our own goals. While we are the only ones who can determine our own happiness, I think we can also work on appreciating each other's goals while we're at it.

Why it's Hard to Adjust to Post Grad Life

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I am having a hard time with life in general. I have always been able to adjust quickly and easily to whatever situation was thrown at me. Sometimes it took me a few days, sometimes a few weeks, but it has been over a year since graduation and I am still not entirely adjusted. But, at least now I think I have pin-pointed why.

  1. We have no built-in goal. Through High School and College alike we had a built in goal: graduation. There was an end point, there was a plan, there was light at the end of the tunnel. We were working towards something. Once we graduate most of us have 1 goal: get a job. Ok, well what about after we have a job?
  2. No Built-in vacations. Since we entered the schooling system we have had built in vacations. Summer was longest, followed by 2 weeks for Winter Break, one week for spring break, and some 3-4 day weekends sprinkled through the rest of the year. We could relax, read for pleasure, travel, whatever we chose. Now most of us have 10 vacation days a year and have to fight for holidays and weekends off.
  3. The repetition. Every day includes the same tasks, people, problems, solutions, places, etc. No longer do we have 2 or 3 different topics to focus on in a given day. We can't change what we focus on every semester. We have a job, and a boss, and some co-workers, who may change slightly, but the focus is still the same every day.
  4. Our support system has scattered. In college most of our friends lived in the same city, if not the same house. You could easily grab coffee after a class, have a mini-freak out, and feel better about life. Now our friends have scattered to different cities, sometimes even different countries. And mini-freak outs are turning into major ones.
These are the three main reasons I came up with that are making this Post Grad thing difficult. I know that they do not apply to everyone, but they are broad enough to be relatable. While I know that there are ways to remedy numbers one and three, I am not at the point of acceptance yet. I am half in denial that this monotony is now my life and therefore will not yet try to fix it. I keep hoping that one morning I will wake up and something magical will happen and it will no longer need fixing.

And then I realize that in order to actually get my life together I need to set some goals and make some changes. Here's hoping I have the energy to work on that very very soon.

Thanksgiving is my Favorite

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that it is centered around food and being grateful for things in your life. I love that it is one of the few holidays not centered around religion. I love that I get to see my sisters during this holiday.

My 2 sisters who are no longer in high school arrived Wednesday night. The youngest got stuck with Mom, but she will get her turn eventually. I was excited this year because I had decided to make my own pie crusts for the apple pie. I also had
a new idea for my turkey: Garlic Rosemary.

Things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving 2011:
1. My friends and family
2. Having a job, even if it eats my soul
3. All of you for reading our blog so loyally
4. My health. I know it sounds cliche but my immune system rocks and I am very thankful for that.

Instead of shopping for Black Friday, my sisters and I went to the National Portrait Gallery and then to Chipotle for lunch. Definitely one of the better decisions I've made lately.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My thanksgiving was very nontraditional this year (more on that to come) but I wanted to make a quick list of what I'm thankful for.

-my family
-my friends (old and new!)
-my boyfriend
-that I live close enough where I can travel home for the holidays (5 hrs doesn't seem so bad when I realize that many are plane rides away from family)
-my job for allowing me to live comfortably and with health benefits

There are so many little things I'm thankful for, but these are the basics. It's officially the holiday season! Anyone have plans to hit up the stores tomorrow for sales? I definitely do not haha..

This Will Make Monday Better

Well Post Grads, it is almost Thanksgiving. Finally. Which means most of us get at least a day off from work. But there are still 3 days standing between us and relaxing after stuffing our faces. So, I wanted to share with you a video that makes me laugh hysterically no matter what. I'm not kidding. Every time I watch this video I crack up. It is so true it is scary, and this is how I usually get through a Monday. Please enjoy. (And if you are watching this at your desk make sure you have headphones on and don't laugh TOO loud.)

Stupid Questions

My job is very stressful. If that has not been abundantly clear in previous posts, now you know. This week especially I have had an abundance of stupid questions asked to me. I know what you're thinking "But Shikole, there is no such thing as a stupid question! My professor told me so!"

False. Read on and you will understand.

Example 1: Client tells me on Tuesday they would do anything to get Fios installed by the end of the week. I make this happen. The Fios tech calls at 9:30am today to tell me he is on the way to do the install. I alert the client.

Client response "No, now isn't a good a time, can you stall them until noon?"

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Example 2: A new hire is placing an order for a client on the client's credit card.

New Hire: "Who's address should I put as the billing address, ours or the clients?"

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Example 3: Client emails with an "urgent" problem. It reads: "I tried calling So-and-So and got a recording saying his voicemail is full and I can't leave a message. Can you fix this?" Well, Lady, this usually means that So-and-So needs to empty their voicemail.

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Example 4: At 6:30pm, after normal business hours, a client calls because she can't figure out how to email a picture from iPhoto. I explain to her that all my technicians have gone home for the night and we will assist her in the morning.

Client response: "Well why don't you just text Boss Man and tell him I'm waiting at my computer for help?"

This is not a valid question. Do not ask me such ridiculous things.

Today all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs until everyone stopped asking me questions. It was the only way I could think of that would be effective. Or maybe I need to find an anti-stupid drug to put in the DC water supply. For now, I will settle on wine as a resolution.

Birchbox Review

Today I decided to make a little video reviewing my new Birchbox subscription. Wondering what the heck a Birchbox is? Watch the video to find out :).

10 Questions: Shikole

I told you I would have it soon-ish! Disclaimer - my computer hates me, as I mention in the video, so if it freezes or goes black, oops! Enjoy!

Cocktail Hour

Generally when I'm out at a bar or ordering a drink with dinner, I'll get some sort of beer or wine. Mostly, this is because I really don't know of any awesome cocktails to ask for. I know simple cocktails like vodka cranberries, screw drivers, and white russians from my college days of mixing drinks with the cheapest ingredients possible, but beyond a few of the basics, I'm clueless when it comes to a good cocktail.

My boyfriend loves a drink called the Tom Collins. I had never heard of this cocktail before meeting him, and never actually tried more than a sip of one until this weekend. We made them using a really easy recipe at my apartment and I loved them! Mostly because I couldn't taste the gin at all. It just tasted light, citrusy, and bubbly.

Here's how you make one (from drinkmixer.com):

2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar
3 oz club soda
maraschino cherry
1 slice orange

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass almost filled with ice cubes. Add the club soda. Stir and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

Let me know what you guys think! Any fun cocktails suggestions?

Back to Earth

I apologize for being M.I.A. lately. Between work and trying to write a novel my brain has been fried. I promise I will have my 10 questions video made soon-ish. At the moment all my charm is being used at work and all my creativity is being used on my novel, leaving little to make a good video. Some important things to think about while I am being a hermit:

  1. Mississippi voted down the personhood amendment, so there is still hope for mankind.
  2. I have a new iPhone 4s, so tweets at least will keep on coming.
  3. Lie to Me is an amazing show. I am recently obsessed but have no time to watch.
  4. The holidays are right around the corner, help me find good recipes?
  5. Pinterst is my new favorite thing, find me, follow me.

And finally, I will leave you to listen to my new favorite song by Childish Gambino, although it is edited. He is featured on NPR right now, though.

How You Found Us?

Hey guys, quick post on my lunch break! I was just checking over our "search terms" under our stats and these are apparently a few of our most common search terms for the week:

"Norman Rockwell date night"

"depressive photography"

"anxious hands"

Hmmm..... hope you all found what you were looking for..?

I Love Mindy Kaling

I read Mindy Kaling's new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), in one day. I honestly can't remember the last time a book made me feel so good about life. Mindy's book is a memoir arranged into hilarious essays, ranging from her childhood experienecs and breaking into a comedy career, to dating tips and her thoughts on relationships.

Most people know Mindy Kaling as the character Kelly Kapoor on The Office, but many don't realize that she's actually a writer and producer for the show as well. I'm pretty positive that every person who reads this book will automatically want Mindy to be their best friend

This book would probably be most appealing to an audience of women in their 20's and 30's, but I think men that are willing to open their minds could actually learn a ton by reading Mindy's advice- so I would reccomend this book to anyone!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Cover Letter Check List

When applying for jobs online, your cover letter and resume are what will land you an interview or send you straight to a company's trash bin. The other day, my friend was writing a cover letter for a position and asked me for some input, which led to a debate about how long a cover letter should be and what exactly it should entail. I ended up creating a list of things that I have looked for in cover letters when hiring for my company.

Let's start from the top of the email!

1. Address your cover letter to someone. If the contact person on the job listing is Mr. Bossman, start the letters of with a "Dear Mr. Bossman," even if you're just writing an email. If there's no name on the job posting, a simple "To Whom It May Concern" will do.

2. Use the company's name in the first paragraph. This goes along with tip number one and makes your letter much more personal. The last thing a company wants to see is a generic letter that you copy and pasted to fifty different employers.

3. In the first or second paragraph, state a reason why you would be a great fit for the job based on something you've been able to research about the company. I completely understand that a job is a job in this economy. We aren't always picky when the words "full time with benefits" are tossed around. This doesn't mean that you can't look up the company's website and do a little googling to find out more about the company you'd like to work for.

Bad Example: I have a wide range of skills that would make me the perfect candidate for Company X.

Good Example:  In researching your company, I noticed that Company X offers social media services. My freelance social media consulting work has actually required to me to do the same tasks listed on your website.

4. Avoid overusing cliche phrase like "determined and innovative individual", or saying that you have a "passion for _____" . Believe me, I've been guilty of both of these! If you are a dedicated and passionate worker, instead try to briefly describe how you exemplify these traits.

Bad Example: I have a passion for writing, so I would be honored to work Town X Newspaper.

Good Example: In addition to my full time job as a content editor, I write freelance articles, and run my own blog.

In my opinion, a passion should speak for itself.

5. Keep length in mind! Growing up, when my mom would edit my essays she would tell me to "add more meat" but stay away from "fluff". While meat is meaningful content, fluff falls more into the "I have a passion for..." category. By keeping your cover letter brief but pointed, you will catch an interviewers attention, and keep it.

6. Sign your cover letter with a "Sincerely", followed your full name, your contact info, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.

7. Always attach a resume!!!!!!!!

What do you think post grads? Would you cringe if I was the one reviewing your cover letter, or do you agree with my check list? I'd love to hear your input and some more cover letter tips!

Post Grads Hate: Broken Cars

My car is a bit of a lemon. I am very much aware of this. Even so, I love her. She is a trooper and has gotten me through many a road trip, late night Taco Bell run, and basic every day trips around town.

Monday morning, the Shikar, as she is so lovingly named, decided not to start. My first thought was "Shit, I don't have jumper cables on me." My next thought was, "F**k this is probably going to cost money." And finally, I thought enough to call my boss to tell him I'd be late.

I held out hope that my battery was dead until I finally got the jumper cables, tried to jump the car, and got no response. The engine still wouldn't even try to turnover. Which meant one of 2 things: my battery was so far gone it had to be replaced, or there was something else that was broken.

I am very lucky in that Boss Man has a spare car he is letting me borrow while mine is broken, but I still had to get the poor Shikar to a mechanic somehow. Translation: I had to PAY to get the Shikar TOWED to a mechanic. And all this before I would even know what was really wrong with her.

I got the call this morning, at work, with the diagnosis. She needs a new starter. On top of the struts I already knew she needed. Those things are a liiiitle more expensive than a new battery.

I love my car, but I hate how unpredictable the costs associated with it are. I never know when some vital part is going to decide to stop working. And I don't know which part it will be. I feel like a lot of Post Grads have this same issue. We work so hard to budget our money to afford life, to pay off our loans, to be able to take a trip home for one holiday out of the year. When our cars break down it can be really detrimental.

As always, the Shikar has taught me that I am grateful for even having a car, and that I should somehow learn how to plan for these things better.