21 Things I wish I knew at 21

blogpic211.) Pick a real major- I majored in communication. My degree and a class C drivers license and I am certified to drive a cab.

2.) Don’t rush into marriage- Don’t get me wrong I will never regret marrying the love of my life. But, I wish I didn’t rush into things.

3.) Take grad school entrance exams- I wish I would’ve completed the GRE while I still remembered how to do math.

4.) Don’t feel rushed to start your life- I went to more baby showers and weddings in college than I do now 3 years later. I felt left behind in the whole mess and was too eager  to grow up.

5.) Do internships even if they aren’t paid- I was so focused on finding a career I missed out on exposure to the jobs I wanted the most.

6.) Join a club- I wish I would’ve been more involved in campus life. When it’s over you miss it!

7.) Make time for good friends- It’s a lot harder to maintain friendships once you graduate and start your life.

8.) Think about what matters most to you- If I could do it all over again I’d major in teaching. You’ll miss having summers off in corporate America.

9.) Take advantage of travel opportunities- It’s much cheaper to travel as a student

10.) Don’t take out loans for housing- Average cost of living can add 25K to an already high student loan balance. Stick to federal loans to cover tuition if you can’t get scholarships.

11.) Think about the type of job you want and do internships in that area- most jobs are not what you think they’ll be. Spend time in the industry before you commit.

12.) Take Summers off- I was so focused on graduating I let my class load over whelm me at times.

13.) Say Yes- I missed out on a lot of socializing and networking because I was a commuting student and a 45 min drive didn’t seem worth it at the time.

14.) Go to Football Games- I can say that I’ve never been to a single sporting event at either college I attended. I missed out on the excitement and comradery .

15.)  Go for a teaching assistant or research assistant position- I wish I would have worked part time in my discipline when I had the opportunity.

16.) Keep Working out- I stopped working out my last semester. I was balancing school, work, and planning my wedding. Big mistake missing the gym. I almost didn’t fit into my dress on the big day.

17.) Avoid Junk Food- I use to diet like a lunatic. I’d run 4 miles, smoke a cigarette, grab a burger and hit the books. Then I wondered why I fell asleep reading. I didn’t know how to take care of my body and function at optimal performance.

18.) Maintain relationships out side of academics- I can tell you from experience that college is not easy. You can get swept away searching for peer reviewed articles at all hours of the night. Don’t forget to call your mom or your bestie from high school.

19.) Savor the time- You’ll do more reading in college than any other time in your life, enjoy sitting at star bucks and exposing your horizons.

20.) Don’t lose your soul- Lot’s of people criticize colleges for having a liberal agenda. If you are a person of faith don’t forget to take care of your spiritual side. Even though it’s hard if you are away from your usual church.

21.) Take pictures- You’ll want to remember your favorite peers and 20 years from now; you’ll have great material for #ThrowBackThursday

 

One for the Girls

jenniferlawrenceDecent role models are hard to come by; thankfully, this generation of girls have three great ones to look up to: Jennifer Lawrence, Lena Dunham and Emma Watson. I’m glad that this generation’s role models have actually accomplished something. Something my generation of role models was certainly lacking.

Jennifer Lawrence is 2,4 with two golden globes under her belt. Emma Watson, also 24, is an avid feminist who has never been photographed in a mini skirt. At 28 Lena Dunham  has accomplished more than most people. Dunham has written and directed 2 independent films, and is currently the writer, producer, and director of the HBO show Girls. I look at her list of accolades and can’t help but be inspired. She is 2 years older than I am and I think I have a role model to look up too. I hate that my generation looked up to people like Brittany Spears: a failed marriage, a bald head, and two kids latter people I know still admire her. These 3 women are the future in entertainment. I can’t wait to see what the accomplish

 

Addiction and mental illness

What is crazy ? What does it look like? I saw Christopher Kennedy Lawford on the Today show back in a candid interview explaining addiction as a mental illness. A lot of people don’t want to hear that. People want to think that the crackhead on the corner is nothing more than a bum too lazy to work. In the 70’s it was LSD.  In the 80’s it was Coke Orgies. In the 90’s it was crack, heroin, and Nirvana. This country has been plagued with rampant drug abuse as far back as the 1920’s, when prohibition first became law. It seems that people ignore the law for their addictions and create a larger problem. The system can’t find permanent housing to combat the addicted, convicted, committed people so a large part of the demographic remain homeless, unable to work, and wayward.

I don’t want, in any way, to glorify or justify, drug use. It’s a tragedy that hit my family and changed my life forever. The problem is most ex-addicts have no choice but to turn to pharmaceuticals to overcome their addictions. From what I know, suboxone is considered the holy grail in opiate addiction. Alcoholics are often given antidepressants. They have pills to treat anxiety that are very addictive and dangerous but their regulation is lax.

I am not a doctor and have no recognized background in medicine. Everything I write here comes from things I’ve experienced and stories people have shared with me. I believe the link between mental illness and addiction is simple: people try to escape their circumstances. Happy, well adjusted people, have no reason to seek alternatives to alleviate stress.  There is a reason there’s just as much coke use at a high stakes questionably ethical stock firm, as there is in the strip club they eat lunch at. People use the skills they have to make the most money possible; unfortunately some people end up in the latter professions and, needless to say, they can’t look in the mirror without some help to take the edge off. It’s sad and education is the only way out of a life like that.

Suicide

Yesterday, would have been my friend’s 22nd birthday. He committed suicide 2 years ago. He led a hard life that most of us were blind to. If you looked at him he appeared to have it all: a good looking kid, from a great family, with lots of friends. It scares me to think you could see someone post everyday on facebook but be blind to their inner struggles. It’s hard for me and the group of friends we share to think about him and remember his life. He never made it to 21 and still 2 years later we don’t know why he left. He struggled with bipolar disorder; he was diagnosed in junior high. It’s a hard time for anyone to go through: you’re growing taller, your hormones are raging, and you don’t quit know where you fit in. I can only imagine what it’s like to start junior high and a life long battle with a psychiatric disorder.

He was a great guy and it’s still hard to talk about him in the past tense. I spoke at my grandfather’s funeral when I was in junior high, and it’s never ever felt quite right to me. I think it’s hard to know people that were taken from us too soon. I wish I could say I’ve never known anyone who died too soon, in this manner, but as a young adult I’ve known 2 people who committed suicide and one person who was murdered. It’s a scary thing to go through and it makes you stop and look around at your own life. I hold my husband a little tighter at night and make a point to ask my friends how they are. Deaths like these bring people together in a way that nothing else can; but for the families, it’s devastation I pray I will never know.

Medicine

I am one of the unlucky ones who is faced with chronic health problems. The more I experience, the less faith I have in the health care system. I just got off the phone with my doctor who informed me she’s changing my meds again. The story goes like this: I take one med to control a disorder and one to counteract the side effects of said med. She is changing the med that controls my side effects to a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease. When I asked why, and explained everything is currently working, she explained she is being proactive in case the main med used to treat my condition needs to be increased. The only problem is that new side effect med has it’s own side effects and it is more dangerous than the one I’m currently taking.
I’d give anything to be a normal healthy person. I hate that if I want to get pregnant I have to clear it with at least two doctors; because I can’t just get drunk like a normal person. Even if I were just another stupid girl, I feel like that would be better than periodic trips to the hospital. I hate that my legacy is to experience the stupidity of the medical community, and then chronicle it here on this blog (along with other observations and commentary). I’ve never come out of the hospital unscathed. It seems like they can’t fix one problem, without creating another. Why is it that all doctors simply practice medicine? You’d think they’d have to prove some degree of skill to continue being employed.

Divorce

I almost cringe just typing the word on my laptop. I am one of the lucky ones that married her high school sweetheart. Statistically speaking, we never should have made it down the aisle; yet alone been together for almost 1/3 of my life. Yep next year on my 27th birthday we will have been together for 9 years and 2 days. Scary right? People always call us newlyweds and dote over our affection towards one another. I was fortunate to marry a standup guy that I know I can count on in the good times and bad.

I think if you want to fall in love it’s better to experience it young; in college or even, in our case, as young as high school. But, on the flip side people should wait at least 3-4 years to get married. You should really know someone, have graduated, and be in a place where you can start your life. It’s easy to meet people when you are in school. I ended up in classes with the same people every semester. It’s less intimidating to date when you’re in the school setting because essentially everyone is in the same boat. You may care about the car he drives but even a hooptie is acceptable if he’s eating top ramen every night to take you to a nice restaurant because you see potential in him.

I think people have gotten so socially awkward and blunt from the texting and twitter revolution that the hook up culture has over taken the traditional institutions of dating and marriage. The story usually goes like this: there is this guy/ gal I’m interested in and I don’t know if I like them like that yet so we’re just going to see where it goes. I can tell you from experience if you aren’t even sure you like them, you’re with the wrong person. Most people I know that married young and quickly are now divorced. I actually know people that in the time I’ve been with my husband have dated, married, divorced, dated someone else and remarried. In college we called that a serial monogamist.

But why is the millennial generation less inclined to say “I do” and stay married? I guess it’s easy to blame helicopter parents who over indulge us with technology and material possessions to the point that we consider growing up a deliberate choice to be poor. It seems like my generation has no concept of responsibility. It’s hard to make a marriage work and maybe texting has completely ruined all of our social skills to the point we don’t make eye contact when someone is talking to us. As you may know, kissing most certainly starts with eye contact. Relationships at their most basic level involve kissing a friend. If you are kissing a stranger in a bar you are part of the hook up culture and have certainly failed to look for a meaningful connection in your philandering. So that’s where it starts and ends it’s like the video says: look up from the phone.

The Great Debate ~ Russell Pearce

As many of you may have heard, Pearce is being asked to resign from his current post as Vice Chairman in the Republican ran state legislature office. You know you are too far right when even Sheriff Joe shuns you. I don’t get the reasoning behind his comments. True to his roots, Russell Pearce seems to always be in the news for one thing or another, although it’s for all the wrong reasons.

There was that one time when his campaign funded a Latino independent candidate to take votes from his opponent in a tightly ran race for public office. Then there was my favorite: SB1070. It was essentially legalizing racism. You remember when we all started telling people we were from New Mexico while traveling to other states to avoid looking racist ourselves. I had the pleasure of hosting an international conference where we did spoken word poetry during opening ceremony to address the outcries and offer any explanation to those who were not swayed to boycott our state. Yes, Arizona legislature has been creating problems with back woods ideology for the better part of my life. Once in 1992 we did vote blue for the infamous Bill Clinton. All I can say about Bill Clinton is that he was a great president and an awful husband.

But to stay on point we need to talk about Russell Pearce and his latest faux pas: sterilizing women using government assistance. If you are familiar with Pearce’s background, in 2011 he decided to end government assistance programs for individuals and couples without children. Now fast forward to 2014 he wants female recipient’s sterilized. You can’t have it both ways Pearce. Either government assistance is for families or it’s not.

From my experience, most people who apply for government assistance are young single moms. I hate listening to republicans criticizing social wellfare and family planning until it’s their kid in need. Then their kids don’t know any better and end up voting against their own interests by continuing to support crazy people like Russell Pearce. I wish the media wasn’t so polarized by these issues. It seems to win elections you almost have to sound crazy to the moderates but stay on one side of the line or your party will abandon you. With conservatives sounding anything but conservative these days, who knows where the party is headed.

Turning Point

“Another turning point a fork stuck in the road

tongue grabs you  by the wrist directs you where to go.

So make the best of the task and don’t ask why.

It’s not a question but a lesson learned in time.

It’s something unpredictable that in the end is right

I hope you had the time of you life” ~Green Day Time of Your Life.

 

I find myself coming back to this song every time I hit a rough patch in my life. I think about my hopes and dreams and suddenly feel very old. I guess by 26 I expected to have a house and the perfect 2.3 kids. I expected to feel like a grown up. I did everything right. I got married 2 weeks after I graduated college and started a career in insurance. I started looking to other things to make me happy. I finished a novel, I started writing while I was in college.

I ultimately ended up quitting my job in insurance and currently I’m a typical suburban house wife. My day consist mostly of laundry, coffee breaks and yoga. I still wonder what exactly my parents paid for in sending me to school. People search their whole life to find happiness and fulfillment. I wonder sometimes if it’s overrated.

As women, we’re programmed that we’re supposed to be super woman; great husband, great career, great kids. But when you add in dishes, diapers and dusting it gets very overwhelming. Most people I know have sacrificed one for the other. When I quit my job I felt overwhelming pressure to start a family. It’s like to gain your worth you should be employed or have kids.

I’m fortunate to have a great husband who supports me emotionally and financially in my search to find myself. What does that even mean anymore? I’ve lived my whole life with myself; you’d think I should know who I am by now. I’m currently working on converting 150 pages of story line into a full-fledged novel and accepted that I will probably never make any money at it.

I’ve debated moving to Seattle where I will surely slip into a deep depression because the sun never shines. I think all great writers are seemingly crazy. It’s sort of the way creativity is fostered. People have to be unhappy and desperately trying to escape this world to be brilliant enough to create a mythical world to live vicariously through.

I think people search for immortality their whole lives. Most people have children to make sure their genes survive and that they have an alternative to nursing homes in old age. Other people wish to be immortalized through film, literature, music. But it seems like the reason motivating all of these decisions is ultimately the fear of our own demise; that and money of course. But when you stop to think about the odds of going viral it’s a sweet sentiment just to be remembered by your friends and family for the work you contributed in your life time.

Time

Time

It’s our most precious resource. We only live so long and we only have so much of it with the ones we love. But where does it all go? Recently, I started a job that’s sort of taking over my life. I leave my house at 6:30 am and I get home at 7:00 pm. This week I worked Monday through Saturday, and the kicker is I’m not even getting paid at this point. This is just training. You probably think I’ve gone a bit mad.

The truth is I just found my purpose. You see, when you love something this much, you’re willing to go without a few things. I’ve gone without TV for the most part. It wasn’t a hard transition because I only ever regularly watched the news or the Tomorrow people (which is now canceled). I’ve also gotten much less sleep then I’m accustomed to. But, the fortunate part is that I am now a more efficient sleeper. I don’t lay awake reviewing my day before I fall asleep anymore (which is nice). When I get a chance to sleep, I welcome it. I am willing to put in the hours for this career but I refuse to completely let it take over. It’s hard to find that balance when you have to constantly analyze your social calendar just to fit in the little things. It’s even harder for me to find time to write (something I never thought I’d say).

So why do we do it? I guess the “A” answer is that I finally found something worth it. I can tell you I would never be happy putting in hours like this just for money. I know that sounds weird, but there are much more important things than money. Maybe it’s a curse of being a millennial, that I have different priorities than generations of the past. Or maybe it’s a blessing to know what I want out of life at 26 and be in a position to get it.

Obesity

There is an obesity epidemic in this country. I believe in personal responsibility, exercising, and the importance of health. I probably have stronger convictions regarding these things than the majority of the population. With that being said, I think there is a serious problem with food manufacturers in this country. There is a problem with putting products in food for the purpose of making it addictive. I think this practice should be criminal. Yes, obese people need to take steps to having a healthier lifestyle; truthfully it’s something everyone should strive for. How are things like MSG, artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup still legal when they are proven to be addictive?

There is a difference between good food and addictive food and I think in this country most people don’t get it. I have no idea why children are served juice, I really don’t. The only thing you are doing is prepping them for a soda addiction later. There is almost no nutritional value in a glass of juice. You are better off to eat the fruit that the juice is derived from. In case you don’t know, canned fruit packaged in any form of syrup or artificial sweetener is probably worse than juice and definitely not as beneficial as fresh fruit. Yet, fruit cocktail in heavy syrup is a staple in almost all cafeteria lunch lines.

I’ve read studies on the hazards of everything from GMO’s, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and food dyes. All the research says the same thing, this stuff is killing us slowly. (Well to be fair, they probably say it a little nicer than I just did, but you get the point.) If you don’t want to listen to the research then listen to me.

If you know me in real life you probably know that I struggle with my weight. I’ve been really fat and really thin and just now in my mid 20’s have begun to stabilize. I used to diet all the time: 6 shots of espresso with equal (check), protein shake with artificial sweetener to reduce hunger (check), tons of “healthy stuff” that doesn’t really qualify as food (check.) And you know what? None of it worked. You might think I’m crazy but I lost 20 pounds by ditching protein shakes and diet soda without a minute of cardio. I now follow 2 very simple rules: drink water and limit yourself to 6-9 teaspoons of processed sugar a day. I’m still losing weight.

BE CAREFUL because sugar is in everything from ketchup to cookies and everything packaged in between. Chobani yogurt, famous for the slogan “how it’s made matters”, has 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving for fruit varieties. You have to stay on your toes and pay attention. Maybe someday when the lobbyists have less power, food will actually be good for you again. Until then, proceed with caution.