Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Big Fat Fear

Lets face it, we all have things we're afraid of. In case you're wondering, for me its suffocation, whales and farm birds (in no particular order... scratch that, farm birds are definitely first). The thing that I've come to learn, is that fears, like dreams and aspirations, change. They evolve. Your fears aren't always the same things you thought they'd be (except for the aforementioned items, they will always be frightening). 

Think about it. Long gone are the days when you were scared of the boogey man, or checked under your bed for monsters before being able to sleep at night, but all too common are the days plagued by new fears. Realistic fears. "Big girl" problems--money, relationships, the future. For me, my big fat fear has been one tiny word: career.
The good thing is, I really don't think I'm alone. With the economy moving the way it has of late, I noticed that I'm one of the growing number of students pursuing a masters degree right out of undergrad. Translation: I've never had a real job. Yes there have been paychecks and long hours, but never a non-internship, 9-5, Monday-Friday, career; something that wasn't supplementary to school, nor did it require my undivided attention forty hours a week. And I have to tell you, it scares the bejesus out of me. 

For those of you unfamiliar with where I am, let me take a minute to give you the Readers Digest version. After graduating with a great degree from a great school, I had to face the million dollar question; whats next? I had a great experience in Philadelphia at an internship in the hospitality field and I started researching immediately. Why? Because I was petrified. I had graduated a semester early, didn't know where I wanted to be, didin't know what I wanted to be doing, but ultimately knew I was good at something; school. It was safe and familiar and a guaranteed two year delay to real life.

Not to be taken the wrong way, my current program has only given me more experiences, opportunities and connections than had I not elected to go to graduate school, but sometimes I wonder, what if I'd gone a different way? What if I hadn't been so scared? Could I be knee deep in a career right now? Or would I still be unemployed, as some of my friends still find themselves a little more than a year out of school? More importantly, would I regret it?

Million dollar questions, my friends. And maybe thats what makes them so difficult to answer. So scary to answer. The grass is always greener I guess, and no one ever got behind by getting more education. But ironically enough, my choice to further my education in order to get a great job has left me with questions that have seemed to swallow me recently. Questions that make my career fear very real. Like:

Now that there is no where to hide, whats next?

What if I still don't know what I want to do? Who I want to be? What I want to do when I grow up?

Am I really more ready for the real world than I was before? 

What if this is all I know how to do? What if I still can't find a job? Was this all a waste?

How will I know whats the right fit for me if I'm still learning what I'm good at? Will I have to settle? 

With career fears, and all of your other "big girl" fears, it all boils down to this; did I make the right choice?

The funny thing is, its the one thing they don't teach you in school.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Chosen One

Can you believe its taken me this long to follow up on my ever so stressful apartment hunt? I know you all must be dying with anticipation, because naturally these moments in my life are what keep all of your days so eventful... right? Agree to disagree, I guess.

Well, consider this the "to be continued" and the "conclusion" all in one swoop. After patient waiting, we have found ourselves the one, the only, the holy grail of apartments:
I think that this is especially fitting, the heavens shining down and all. And what a hallelujah moment it was. Right when I was beginning to think that what we were looking for simply didn't exist (drama queen, I know) this one blew all the other ones out of the water. What I wanted, where I wanted it, and more importantly, under budget! Patience, patience, patience. You think I'd be practicing what I preach by now, huh?

The only thing I do miss about the search was the distraction it provided. I didn't have time to think about how many more days I had until my "roommate" (as I'm sure my Mom would prefer I refer to him as) would be returning; I was too busy making sure we wouldn't be homeless (again, the drama... I know, I know). This search was the perfect thing for me to simultaneously bitch about while being ever so thankful that something was eating up all my idle time. Stress, my friends, is the ultimate distraction.

Now that we've found the chosen one, I have a whole other laundry list of things to think about until he arrives. Yes, the usual logistics; moving, his shit, my shit, where are we going to put all this shit, etc. But I've also found much more comforting thoughts to pass the time, to keep me occupied. 

Like that this isn't just any move, its a move in. That these aren't just logistics so two people have a place to sleep and cover their heads, this is a huge step and a commitment; something we are both so excited to do. That this new apartment will be the place where I get to see the person I love every single solitary day, morning, noon and night-- I hope he knows what he signed up for! And more importantly, that this is more than just an apartment; this is the first big step of many more, big and small, to follow.

Honestly, what could be a better way to pass the time?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

For My Dad

Happy Fathers Day, fathers! While I feel guilty that I can't be home to celebrate with my own, I've been spending all day thinking about my Dad and a few of the many, many things that make him so special. So, how fitting, a few thanks for all the fathering over the years, Dad:

Thank you Dad, for luring me out of bed morning after morning with your amazing, to die for, chocolate chip pancakes (the same ones you made for me at 4:00am when I returned from London). Whether it was the morning of a big test (brain food), or thinking of the 6 hungry girls sleeping in the attic on a given Saturday, you were always one step ahead of my stomach.
Thank you for your consistency. Prepping girls mornings when Mom was working may not have been easy, but you learned one hairstyle for us, and you stuck to it: the buffy (in layman's terms, a ponytail). Classic.
Thank you for always giving us our choice of hot dogs, waffles or spaghetti when it was Dad's night to cook dinner. You know, variety is the spice of life.

Thank you for being my pen pal when I left for college, staying true to your word to always email. Always giving me something to look forward to in my inbox and giving me someone to share my day with.

Thanks for dropping the crossword puzzle I know you were dying to finish and chatting with me on the front porch while I waited for my ride.

Thank you for making it work. Driving hours and hours so that I could come home for a weekend only to turn around to do it all over again a few days later.

Thank you for always worrying too much, telling me how proud you are of my adventurous endeavors, and for letting me live in an atmosphere I know you wouldn't touch with a 15 foot pole, just because you know how much it suits me

Most importantly thank you for setting a great example of what it means to be a great husband and a father, something your daughters (and sons) will carry with them forever.
Happy Fathers Day, Dad!

Monday, June 13, 2011

"A" Is for Anxiety

Today, boys and girls, a lesson in the alphabet. Today we're going to learn about things that start with "A." "A" is for anxiety, and "A" is also for apartment.

Remember when I talked about the big move, aka my boyfriend moving in with me at the end of the summer. To think, I thought talking to my parents was the difficult part. That was before I developed this ulcer searching for apartments (ok, I exaggerate..but still). 

I think someone who has read even one of my entries can figure out that I sometimes, maybe, once in awhile need to be in control. I don't leave things until the last minute, and one more thing crossed off my list is one more thing I don't have to worry about anymore. So imagine my delight when I realized that with my boyfriend gone until August, apartment hunting would be solely in my hands. Not that I wouldn't trust him to nit pick and ask questions about every specific and miniscule detail, but well.. I wouldn't. Kidding aside, while it would have been nice to have his opinion I was going to try to make the best out of it. I was ready to go so Supermarket Sweeps on this apartment search. More people living together means more money, more space, more opportunities. Looks like I didn't factor 'mo money 'mo problems into that equation.

I must preface all this talk by saying that my boyfriend and I broke the golden rule; we looked too soon. Me being the smart, overly prepared, saavy shopper that I am decided that maybe we should take a look at some places when he was here in April so that we could figure out exactly what it was we liked. What worked, what didn't, so that I wouldn't be totally blind going into this thing by myself. And what happened? We found the perfect place. Brownstone, under budget, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, beautiful neighborhood, wood floors. I could go on but I fear I may tear up. The major problem was this unit was ready to be rented four months before we were ready to move (imagine). So I tried to accept it as a good thing, a template for what we were looking for. If only it were that easy.

Since that beautiful April day, when the apartment gods opened their glorious skies, I have seen upwards of 10 apartments. Different neighborhoods, different sizes, one bedroom, two bedroom, Craigslist, realtors, called numbers on the sides of buildings, you name it. And what do I have to show for it? Nada. Ms. Prepared, Ms. Overly Ambitious has nothing to show for her hours spent hitting the pavement. Dimly lit apartments, apartments with appliances from the 1960s, apartments that reak of cat urine, apartments with kitchens smaller than my own (which I thought was impossible) have all turned me into Ms. Anxiety. I have a full blown case of apartment anxiety. 

The worst thing about this long search process is that I've lost my pizazz. I now find it a hassle to go look at a place, its not as fun. When I see something I like I immediately develop a complex that it will be gone by the first chance I get to call (for good reason, its happened three times so far). Also, every glimmer of hope turns into my new dream apartment. Basically, I get played.

First there was the spacious, trendy, two bedroom, too-good-to-be-true-below budget dream...
..snatched right from under my feet when I called on a Friday and was due to visit on a Monday. RIP dear trendy-Meghan dream house.

Then there was the cute, quaint, lets-pretend-we're-really-adults dream house. Tucked in a historic cobblestone street which had so much outdoor space I thought I might seize... 
...which was too good to be true. It was a three story row home that had about enough room for a bed, a breadbox and a roll of toilet paper. RIP historic-cutsie-grown ass woman up Meghan.

And the most recent double take, the one-bedroom-compromise-but-who-cares-its-a-condo apartment. Or as I like to call it, Melrose Place. An amazing location with great amenities, however, just about as small as dream home #2..
..did I mention it lacked a bedroom door? Something, in the end, I just couldn't part with. RIP Primetime TV Meghan. Maybe another day...

The moral of the story here is that not only has all of this searching been time consuming and disappointing, I've realized doing it on my own has added stress, not fun! If I know something makes me happy, will my boyfriend like it too? Is it big enough? Now is it too big to heat? Too much money? Close enough to get us where we need to go? 

Don't get me wrong, I know its not the end of the world if something ends up being just OK, but lets be real. Moving is awful and I'd like to only do it once (for now..its not like I plan on bearing my first child in this house). Not only do I want to find a place that's good enough and worth our money, I want to find one that we won't have to move from for the next two or three years. When I moved into my apartment in August, I turned to my Dad and let him know "alright, well looks like I'm staying here forever."  And so my apartment anxiety was born.

Will I we  find something? Yes, because we have to; we've got to live somewhere! But this anxiety, as self-induced as it is, has got me near my breaking point. Is there something deeper there? Maybe. Maybe its all the change that's on the horizon. Maybe its me wanting to do right by the one thing I can control in this whole crazy, mixed up situation I've found myself in. Maybe its me wanting to cross one thing off the list so I can feel like I've made any sort of progress in this grueling time apart. Maybe. 

All I know is right now all its giving me is a big, fat, headache. Good thing "A" is for Advil, too.

To be continued..

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Hardest Part

Well, its been (almost) a month since D-Day, and can you believe it?.. The world didn't end. 

Joking aside, I get asked a lot what its like. The separation, the deployment, the absence. Sure we've always done the distance thing but now he's gone gone. Most of the time I don't know where in the world he is!

I get a lot of the questions along the same lines. Is it hard that you can't talk to him whenever you want? What do you think? How do you deal with missing him? I sit in a corner and stare at the wall, sunrise to sunset. When will he be back for good? How much time do you have? While I'm happy to fill others in on the best answers I have, part of me wants to ask  "what do you think its like"?!?!

What's surprised me most about this experience so far? The hardest part. While I know I'm one of the lucky ones, someone with a time frame and a guaranteed  estimated return that can be marked in months (that can be counted on one hand), there are difficult times, hard parts.

You see, the hardest part isn't what you'd think it would be. Its not the lack of phone calls, text messages or emails. Its not the birthday you spend by yourself, knowing that as great as it was, something was missing. Its not the empty bed or the quiet house. Its not a breakfast for one or another trip home alone. The hardest part, is realizing it all seems so normal.

Don't get me wrong, this "hard part" is what keeps me sane. If I stayed up every night waiting for a phone call, an email, a surprise visit, a breakfast mate, a warm bed or expecting the unrealistic, I'd go mad. 

Somehow, though, its also the part that stings the most. Rationally, it all makes sense. Emotionally? Mentally? Its the hardest to fully digest. The new force fed routine. Going to bed at 10pm instead of 1am because, for these few months, there is no before bed Skype. There's no Skype at all! Waking up in the morning without wishing anyone a good day. Funny stories, laughs and "you wouldn't believe what just happened" moments carefully cataloged in your brain for another time. Going to bed so you can wake up and do it all over again, this time one day closer. A new normal that has a big, fat hole in it.

I never thought of myself as an anti-change person. I'm adventurous, I like to try new things. Mix it up? Sure.  But I realize this is one hat that doesn't fit. One routine I don't like; its the hardest part.  

Am I going to make it through all this without hard parts? Probably not. But I have to remind myself of one thing; how lucky I am to miss someone so much. To love someone so much that it makes their absence so difficult and such a struggle. So hard.

But these moments, these challenges, these "I don't want to do this, too bad you have to" moments are what shape all of us. And sometimes the hardest parts hold the greatest rewards. 

I know mine will.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Everything's Bigger in NYC

Move over Texas, I think New York City just took the title. 

This weekend I took a long overdue trip to see some of my college roommates and spent a great weekend in New York City. As I've touched on before, its amazing how the weekends slip away, weeks turn into months, and before you know it you haven't seen your closest friends in nearly six months. Not only did this weekend confirm how much I miss my girls, but it also reconfirmed what I've been saying for quite some time now: my life should be a reality show (are you writing this down MTV execs)? So welcome to a special episode, I think this one would have been an hour long special and I think it would have been entitled "Everything's Bigger in New York City."

So please, join me on this photographic journey as I try my best to explain whats so big in NYC.
The nightlife: What's bigger in NYC? The nightlife. Case in point, see above. This was our view from the rooftop party we attended on Friday night. After casually strolling out of the apartment around 12:15 am, this is where we ended up. To be honest, I think this is how P. Diddy parties. While we're being honest I'm actually a little surprised I didn't see him there. Bottle service (which we did not pay for) check, bumpin beats, check, dance circle, check. And my personal favorite? Snuggies, check..
Ok, so maybe they more resemble bathrobes but lets not get off track here. The point is they were another larger than life (literally, I was swimming in mine) VIP addition to our night outdoors. Free booze, free snuggies and a skyline view of the city. Not too shabby. So was the tagline of the night, "I could do this every night..."

Housewives: As I think we all know by now, my name is Meghan and I am addicted to Bravo. While visiting NYC not only was I convinced that I would make my way into the Cash Cab, but also that I would run into every New York Housewife, and maybe if I was lucky New Jersey too. So imagine my delight when I found out that the apartment we were spending the weekend in was right next to theeee Real Housewife of New York Sonja Morgan's house (to most of you, this means nothing--I understand that I should be embarrassed, but I am quite the opposite). At roughly 4:00am I though this was the coolest picture in the world, but now in the light of day its just plain creepy.  At the time me plus a bravolebrity's house = BIG.

The landmarks: How can you visit New York City without seeing all of the landmarks that make NYC so special? The Empire State Building, Central Park, The Statue of Liberty. Well after sleeping in until 12:30pm, we were pressed for time. We may have cut a few corners, but to be honest I don't think anyone will be able to tell: 

The appetites: This weekend, we ate and drank like it was our last meal. Every. Single. Night. In an effort to save money, Saturday night we old farts of 23 years decided to stay in, cook a nice meal and share some wine. The result? More empty bottles of wine than I care to share, and this, a casual Saturday night dinner: 
Please do not adjust your televisions computer screens. What are you looking at you might wonder? Steak, ribs, pork, coconut shrimp, round two of veggies (asparagus and cauliflower) and the ever so necessary pasta side. If this was our dinner spread, use your imagination on the wine.. 

After barely being fed at dinner (insert sarcasm), a french toast breakfast was in order for the morning:
What will I pack with me on my next trip? Stretch pants.

Do you see what I mean about this reality show? Everything was super sized in New York City this weekend, including the doubled over laughing moments, the six months worth of stories to catch up on and the great company. 

And as it goes with any great time, I told myself next time I won't wait so long. Afterall, we've got rooftop parties to crash..