Working Hard and Hardly Working

This past week has been productive and fun, a rare combination. I visited Charlotte for the first time since the spring last weekend! It was really nice to see home again; I only wish I could have seen my friends as well!

Oh! By the way, I got a job! It’s nothing fancy, just a barista position at a local Starbucks, but I really like my manager. I’ve only worked a few days doing online training and coffee tastings. I have to admit I’m really bad at coffee tasting. Without cream and sugar it just tastes like dirt, but of course I can’t say that to my manager so I’m making stuff up and guessing. Hopefully, I’ll get better at tasting the more subtle flavors of dirt in the coffees. I have to open tomorrow, which means an early morning. I will be up before the sun. Yayyyyy…

Last night, Sarah and I met some of her work friends at Natty Greene’s Brewery in Downtown Raleigh. It was really fun getting to know some of her friends. The beer was good too! I got the wildflower beer which was a lighter beer with citrus hints. We went for Thirsty Thursday though so there was a really long wait and lots of college babies around. haha

I just sent out my requests for letters of recommendation for graduate school. I’m slowly making progress on my list of steps to achieve greatness. I also took a practice GRE…at night…with no preparation at all so I could see where I am. My scores were actually somewhat expected; really good in verbal reasoning and really bad in quantitative reasoning. I’m definitely going to study the math portion extensively before taking the actual test in a few weeks.

Wish me luck!

Beck

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A Long Expected Engagement Party

This past weekend, I helped host my sister and her fiancé’s engagement party. It was a lot of work to say the least, but I had so much fun!!! I can’t help but show off for you all since most of the décor I made myself or with the help of my family. Enjoy the pics!

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We used my mother’s engagement sari as a tablecloth, protected by a plastic tablecloth on top. I think it went well with the centerpieces. We bought vases and mason jars from the Habitat for Humanity Restore and spray painted the bottoms gold. Then we used small tea cups and fresh flowers to complete the look.

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I made the banner by cutting 5×8” letters out of magazine paper then pasting them onto black cardstock for added strength. I laminated them to make them water proof and then taped them onto twine. I used mini clothes pins as fasteners too!

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I bought wooden letters from Michaels and glued torn book pages onto them to make these initials of the couple. The ampersand I spray painted with leftover gold paint. This was our drink table outside before moving the party inside because of weather.

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I printed these photos at Walmart for less than $10 and strung them up with more twine and mini clothes pins. It was so easy!

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Sarah and I made strawberry mini cupcakes by adding fresh chopped strawberries to a yellow cupcake mix. Then we made cream cheese frosting and topped them with these cute toothpick toppers, again homemade!

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We bought some balloons from Party City and made tricolor bundles for a walkway as an entrance to the party. We thought the trellis was the best place to enter the backyard.

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We may not have been able to eat outside, but we were able to use the lights as a beautiful photo backdrop!

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No backyard party is complete without a bonfire and s’mores! : )

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Sarah’s friends!

Me giving a toast, my first ever.

This party helped me realize just how much I enjoy party planning and hosting. I hope everyone had fun! Special thanks to our friend and fixture, Quoc, for taking photos! ; )

Bonus pic: Gigi being weird.

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Multiple people told me this weekend I should be an event planner. I do love design and spending money, especially other people’s money. What do you think? :)

Beck

Job Searching Like It’s My Job

After a fairly uneventful month, I’ve had a jam-packed week of job searching and future planning full of successes and…well, total failure.

On Monday, I had an interview with a local Starbucks. I think I did well, but I may have done too well. Sarah said that I answered questions about my experiences too intelligently. I didn’t understand why that was a bad thing until she told me that if you sound too smart they won’t hire you because you’re less likely to stick around. Oops. Yeah, I didn’t get a call back, but that’s okay. I didn’t really want to work there anyway.

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On Tuesday, I drove to my alma mater for a much needed job search session at the Student Professional Development Center aka Career Services. I got some good advice about how to get an entry level job in the education field without a license or a master degree. I’m looking forward to using some of these tips and utilizing my LinkedIn profile more.

That night I attended a graduate school information session at UNCG and visited my best friend who is a student there. It was really informative and I got to meet some faculty members. When I told her my GPA, she cringed and said, “You’re almost there.” Then told me to study hard for the GRE and get good recommendations. I didn’t realize how much competition there is for grad school before. My program is cohort based so they only accept 20 applicants every two years. Pressure!!! But, I’m going to remain optimistic and open to the possibilities. The first step is writing the personal statement. I feel this is going to be difficult because, as you all know; I am not a woman of few words.

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I’ll post my statement on the blog once it’s completed for your comments!

After driving back to Elon and hanging out with my good friend, Tori, who by the way has an awesome blog as well, I was exhausted! The next day, I attended the job fair on campus. I have to say I was a little disappointed. Most companies were looking for sales reps or for students majoring in business and accounting, etc. I did meet a few teacher recruiters, but I’m not really passionate about teaching in a secondary setting anymore…I guess you know why. After leaving with a shockingly small number of cards and only giving out two resumes, I met a few friends at a local restaurant for dinner. That dinner made my trip worth my time. I don’t have any friends in Raleigh, so being able to socialize with friends after weeks of basically being a housewife for my family was awesome. We just talked and ate good food, that’s my idea of a great time. I miss them so much!


Well, Reader, I’m almost finished with my week; where is the promised failure? you ask. To be honest, this failure truly wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t have studied more or prepared more, I did everything I could. It was an act of God, that’s the only way I can explain it.

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I applied to an indie (read: pretentious) coffee shop in downtown Raleigh and had an interview on Saturday at 2:15pm. At 2:05pm, I drove into a parking garage behind the coffee shop looking fabulous and feeling confident. I was stopped by a woman wearing a blue collar who explained that all parking downtown was $7 due to a festival happening all weekend. I didn’t have any cash and my interview was in ten minutes, so I begged her to let me pay on the way out. When she refused to let me in, I asked her where an ATM was and turned around. I knew I would be late at this point, so I fought back tears…okay I opened the flood gates! and called the coffee shop to let them know. I frantically searched for an ATM and found one close by that was accessible by car (most ATMs downtown were on streets blocked off for the festival). When I got there, I saw lovely trees and a scenic meadow…and no ATM. Repeat this series of events six times, SIX TIMES. It wasn’t always a meadow, sometimes Google Maps led me to a bank nestled in an antiquated brick building blocked off by construction, sometimes an empty parking lot, sometimes to a building that was locked or closed. The minutes were ticking by and as I grew more and more desperate, I searched for an ATM farther and farther away from the coffee shop.

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ATM #7, a SunTrust. FINALLY, I got the cash I needed and called the coffee shop to let them know I was on my way. At 3:20pm, I drove into the parking garage behind the coffee shop with tear-stained cheeks and absolutely no confidence. I had cried off all my make-up and was trembling from frustration, but I put on what I hope was a smile of confidence and walked up to a flannel-wearing barista with thick-rimmed glasses to ask for the manager. After a few moments waiting at the bar, another flannel-wearing barista came up to me and told me that the manager couldn’t wait for me and left for the day. I asked her if I could reschedule, she said that they “weren’t interested” in me because it had taken me so long to get there. I stumbled out an apology and explained the situation. What I got in reply was, “It sounds like you’ve had a rough day. I hope your day gets better.” Luckily, I made it out of the door before I burst into tears. I cursed myself for not having $7 in my pocket. If I did, I would have been on time and probably gotten the job. Maybe not, I don’t own any flannel plaid, which is apparently the uniform since every time I’ve gone there that’s all I see them wearing.

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I don’t expect them to give me second chance; I wouldn’t take it even if they did. I was mostly using this interview as an opportunity for more practice, but it was humiliating all the same. After wasting so much of my time and gas, and trying so hard to just get there at all, I was turned away. I paid $7 to cry in a parking garage for ten minutes before I was capable of driving my car home.

Tomorrow, I start afresh searching for and applying to jobs again like it’s my job. Wish me luck!

Beck

Flying the Coop

Homecoming

Throw back to my second year!

It’s crazy how time flies. I’m graduating college in nine days. So many changes have happened in my life in such a short period of time! Four years sounds like a long time as a first year student, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. I want to say I’m going to miss college. It’s “the best four years of your life”, right? But honestly, there isn’t much I’m going to miss about Elon besides having friends nearby. Part of me wishes I had more time to participate in the community, but that’s only because this was the first year I’ve actually been able to do that in a meaningful way. I think I will miss being challenged intellectually. I really enjoyed the discussions I had in some of my classes. Where else do people come together and devote their time to dealing with complicated issues and new ideas?

But I’m tired of talking (and writing essays) about these ideas; I want to act on them. I feel ready to move on to the next stage of my life. I want greater intellectual challenges and opportunities for community. I want to start a career that allows me to be the person I became through this experience and helps me continue to grow.

The other day I was walking past the small downtown streets of Elon. The bricks led me past the pizza place, coffee shop, and student theater. I smelled the honeysuckle in the air. I looked up into the canopy of ancient oaks. I heard the train blow past the school, just like it does every day at 5pm. And I realized that no matter what happened to me here, good and bad, it’s still my home, and I love it. I won’t miss Elon, because I’m taking Elon with me (No, I haven’t stolen a brick yet!). Everywhere I go, I will remember the friends I met, the professors I was honored to work with, and the memories I made that make my heart swell with warmth.

The same itch that had you to get out of the nest as a high school senior is the same itch you get as a college senior. It’s a restlessness that is filled with nervous excitement and the knowledge that something amazing is about to happen. But one of the first things you learn when you get to college is how awesome your mom’s cooking is, how warm your old bed is, and how far away your friends are. I am relearning all this now that I’m leaving home for the second time. But, this phoenix is flying the coop, because there is much more to experience in life, and I am so ready for it.

Beck

Sex and Love in That Order?

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There’s something I’ve noticed about loves stories in movies and tv shows that has been bothering me for a while: People fall in love by having sex. Or they don’t realize they are in love with someone until they have amazing mind-blowing sex with them.

Think about it. How many tv shows and movies have you seen that revolve around a couple having sex and suddenly realizing they’re meant to be? Chandler and Monica from Friends, Harry and Sally from When Harry Met Sally; the friends with benefits story arc is well known and the list of examples could go on forever. Sometimes there’s a PG version of this when couples kiss and things change, but for the most part, I feel people jump right to sex and fall in love.

What bothers me about this is that it’s a completely unrealistic expectation and is a harmful model to follow when beginning a relationship. I know this is a plot device used to escalate the falling-in-love process in film, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s unrealistic to think that just because you have sex with someone you like, or are even in love with, that they will suddenly fall in love with you. People, men and women, don’t “call back” all the time, probably most of the time. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, I’m not saying this doesn’t happen in real life occasionally, but I think the whole “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free” adage applies here. Why be in a relationship if you can have sex and sleep around without any consequences? People are selfish, especially college students, and will seek relationships that will benefit them and not you. If you buy in to this fairy tale that the media sells us and expect “true love” after having sex, you can end up getting hurt physically and emotionally (sexual assault, STDs, unwanted pregnancy to name a few).

Your milkshake may bring all the boys to the yard, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay there and love you or marry you.

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Sex changes things. Your body releases hormones that make you form attachments to the one you sleep with, which can make you fall in love or at least become infatuated. (That’s why being friends with benefits doesn’t work most of the time.) I’m not saying women can’t or don’t enjoy casual sexual relationships, I just think it’s difficult to do so without getting feelings involved eventually. When enough of these failed experiences occur, it can make you feel insecure, desperate, and unworthy of a healthy relationship, which further perpetuates the potentially harmful behavior. That’s why I think keeping your pants on before marriage is a good idea. I’m a Christian, so this belief originated from my knowledge of the Bible. But even if I wasn’t a Christian, I would still want to wait until marriage, because like I said, sex changes things. I wouldn’t want to form a strong emotional and physical connection with someone who won’t be there when I wake up. It damages you, even if you don’t or can’t realize it now.

I’ve never been in love or had sex, so I don’t speak from experience, but I have witnessed my friends go through horrifying and damaging relationships/non-relationships throughout college. It pains me to see them go through things like that. I’m not saying everyone needs to convert to Christianity (although that would be awesome). I am saying people need to have realistic expectations when they begin a physical relationship with someone. Ask yourself if you are okay with them walking away. Because they probably will. If not, zip up your pants and find someone who wants to stick around. If you are okay with them walking away, that’s a whole other issue, because you deserve to have someone stick around. Everyone deserves to be with someone who loves them, not just someone who wants to get in his or her pants. I’m okay with waiting for that person, because I know I’m not missing out on anything except a lot of heartbreak and bad sexual souvenirs.

Beck

PS: I was going to name this post “Great SEXpectations” but I talked myself out of it. Haha

 

Blueberry and Toothpicks

The nature of blogging is very self-centered. “Everyone look at me and read what I have to say. It’s super interesting because it’s about me and I’m super interesting” said every blogger ever. To avoid the “I’m awesome” trap, I want to say something a little different; “Look at us and how interesting we are”. I want to share the stories of other people as well as my own because we all live interesting stories every day. With this in mind, I want to share a story my sister told me recently.

My sister’s work place has the makings of a perfect office sitcom. She works at the Academic Support Center at a local community college as a science tutor. The center includes tutoring services in math and science, a writing center, and a computer lab, each of which is overseen by a coordinator. The cast of characters includes such classics as the old racist white man, the sassy black woman and her posse, the loner who eats the same lunch every day, the foreigner, and the two young friends, who are the cool ones. (Guess which one my sister is.) Just think of all the funny situations these characters could get into, let alone the weirdo students who come in looking for help. I really want to write that sitcom.

One day, Mac, the loner who eats soup and crackers every day for lunch (he sometimes eats goldfish for variety), was given two beautiful blueberry muffins homemade by the baker of the office, Linda. Linda loves to bake and brings in goodies for her coworkers on occasion. But Mac made a fatal mistake. He left his blueberry muffins in a sealed container on the counter of the office kitchen without any label or friendly eye to watch over them. Will, the old racist, and Sarah were both in the kitchen for their lunch break soon afterwards.
“Want a muffin? They’re for everybody.” Will said.
“Are you sure? There’s only two.”
“Yeah. Why else would they be on the kitchen counter?” Will opens the container and begins to shove warm pieces of muffin into his racist mouth. Sarah eyes the second muffin and decides that Will must be right. The muffins looked too delicious for her to listen to the small voice in the back of her head that told her she may be about to commit muffin theft. “That muffin was delicious” she thought as she took her seat and waited for students to arrive. Meanwhile, Mac discovered his loss and decided to confront Will about the muffins. Will isn’t even sorry.
“You shouldn’t have left them on the counter, man. They were delicious.” He grins.
“Linda baked those for my birthday!” Mac said. Sarah listened on in horror and regret as the scene unfolded behind her table in the tutoring center. Her friend, Cara, heard this too and doesn’t let her forget her shame.
“I can’t believe you stole Mac’s birthday muffin, Blueberry.” She shook her head in mock disappointment and proceeded to email Sarah a collage of blueberry muffins for her enjoyment. Thus, Sarah got a snack and a nickname at the same time by stealing a muffin from a coworker. Poor Mac.

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Cara likes to play pranks, especially on her guy friends that work in the building. One day, her pranks went a bit too far. While instant messaging through the staff network, Cara asked a friend to get her four menus and seventeen toothpicks from a local Chinese restaurant for a “project”. Her friend believes it is a prank, but Cara is so convincing and urgent that he decides to do her this favor anyway. Cara, distracted from her computer, doesn’t see his message until it’s too late to tell him she was joking. He proudly walks in to deliver his menus and toothpicks while Cara tries to think of a project that would require such odd ingredients. She even pretended that what he brought wasn’t enough and she would have to go back for more. To this day, she hasn’t told him it was a joke and told Sarah, “I will never use my powers of manipulation for evil ever again.” We’ll see Toothpicks, we’ll see.

Beck