The Labor of Looking

8 09 2010

This Labor Day weekend was a strange one for me — with my being jobless and all. As always the three-day weekend marked the end to summer and the beginning of the unofficial fall season. To many it meant one last weekend of freedom before the start of another school year. To others it meant an extra day off work.

As my more fortunate friends headed back to college I tried to avoid Facebook, Twitter and any other forms of social networking. The last thing I needed, other than realizing that it was September and I was still jobless, was to see how much fun everyone else was having back at school.

Instead I caught up with some of my working friends and family. Seeing them complain about their work week made me feel guilty about my plans to go to the beach all weekend when I was already the most tan one among them. They made me contemplate what it was that I deserved a Labor Day weekend for. Did I currently live such a laborious lifestyle? After doing some hard thinking I came to the conclusion that, yes, I did.

While I got my hair cut today my hair stylist, Sue, said it best. “Looking for a job is a job within itself.” And nothing could be more true. I have been working extremely hard five days a week — sometimes even six or seven — looking for, applying to and interviewing for jobs. I am constantly thinking of ways to improve my resume and cover letter. I am constantly marketing myself and at the end of the day, frankly, I’m exhausted. Just because I work from home, using my phone and computer most of the time, and am able to fit in some sunbathing on the clock does not mean my job shouldn’t be taken seriously.

So when people ask me what I’m doing these days I am no longer going to be ashamed of saying “Oh, I’m just looking for a job.” Looking for a job is hard work. Especially in today’s economy. It’s slim pickings out there and I am not just sitting around waiting for something to fall into my lap. I have been doing everything in my power to make something happen for myself and its truly tough.

So I celebrated this Labor Day by putting my feet in the sand, because I deserved a break just like the rest of the working world. Today it was back to work for me. I just hope that someday soon my job comes with a salary to match my hard work.

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Grandparents, Tanning and Laughter: My Experience at the Jersey Shore

24 08 2010

I am a Jersey girl and have lived 10 to 20 minutes from the beach my whole life so I have never understood the concept of being fully surrounded by land. Though there are actually people who grow up never having seen the ocean. It’s sad but true. I began to realize this was a reality for some people when I attended the University of Pittsburgh, a school where 90 percent of the students are from instate.

While at Pitt, my inner circle of friends originated mainly from the outer suburbs of Philadelphia. I learned a lot from these friends.  I learned that they insist on calling subs “hoagies”, they are extremely passionate about their sports teams — to the point of obnoxious — and most important, they spend their summers at the Jersey Shore.

One of my girlfriends has been renting a house in Avalon for one week every summer since she can remember. I was able to join her and her family there for a couple of days this past week. I was excited to finally see for myself what all of the fuss was about. Living 10 minutes from a beach, I never saw the point of traveling an hour and a half just to go to a different one, but these Philadelphians may be on to something. I can now say I have had my first official “Jersey Shore” experience.

There were no Situation or J-Woww sightings and no one got into any fights at the bar, but we did have a hot tub. Although it was broken, so it was more of a lukewarm bubble bath. Every night we had a home-cooked meal where everybody sat together around the dinner table as a true modern family. Three generations — grandparents, mother, stepfather and children — passed around food while speaking of politics, relationships and popular culture. As someone who comes from a very small family, it was a treat to be a part of this large family dynamic.

Of course it had to rain one day, but we took full advantage of the one sunny day we had while I was there. The only oil at our disposal had no SPF in it. Its sole purpose was to accelerate your burn. Snooki would have been proud. Except I woke up the next day with my eyes and lips swollen and I’m now paying the price by peeling. My face is about three different colors. Snooki never mentioned what to do when something like this happens. Help!

The only thing I have to say I was unhappy to discover in Avalon, as a New Jersey native and loyal New York sports fan, was the amount of Phillies and Eagles paraphernalia that has taken over the shore. I had to remind myself a couple of times that I was still in New Jersey. We went to a bar one night and when we walked in all I saw was a sea of red. There was only one person in the entire place wearing a Yankees hat. Another night we went shopping in Stone Harbor and they were even selling Phillies and Eagles gear! I guess I can’t blame their buyer for knowing their audience and wanting to bank on it, but I was in disbelief at the ratio of Philadelphians to New Jerseys. I hadn’t felt this outnumbered since I had left Pitt in May. They even called Italian Ices “water ice”. I think we are losing the bottom half of our state to Pennsylvania.

I am glad I was able to take the time to discover what my own state has to offer. It’s strange to think what a difference an hour and a half can make. Just a couple of days at the shore can do wonders for the soul. Some sun, quality time with family and friends and relaxation can really help clear your head. I think everyone should take a vacation, even if it’s just to the Jersey Shore for some “GTL”.

Hanging at the Beach

Grandpa Herb and Nicky drinking Four Loko

Hannah and I dunking Oreos in milk

Everyone at the dinner table

Check out this video of little kids reenacting MTV’s Jersey Shore! Too Cute!


10 08 2010

There has been recent advancements made in the movie industry, which has reignited the excitement of going to the movie theater. I now find the 15 minutes of commercials before the previews not so bad, because I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it comes in the form of 3D, IMAX and surround sound with exceptional special effects.

My post-graduate, unemployed lifestyle has granted me the freedom to go to the movies whenever I choose. Needless to say I’ve seen my fair share of films this summer. My favorite 3D movie so far this summer was Toy Story 3D hands down. And if it’s not yours, too, then you’re just kidding yourself.

There is this small theater about 20 minutes from my house that my family and I like to go to every so often. Not only do they have the best popcorn (Orville Redenbacher’s), and believe me I’ve tried them all, but they always have great independent films. The problem with independent films, though, is that they always seem to end so abruptly. I know there is a point to this madness, but I still get upset every time it happens. Those artsy filmmakers and their hope for you to come to your own conclusions, and discuss amongst yourselves, reminds me of a lot of my literature classes. The only problem is no one in my family likes to discuss films, or literature for that matter, except for me. They are all into business, math and all that left-side-of-the-brain junk. After they are over I’m lucky if I get a “That was good,” out of them. Asking them what they thought of the film is more difficult than pulling teeth.

This past weekend I saw Inception with my sister. It was an amazing film and that was something we could both agree on. It will definitely be getting plenty of nominations come award season. The acting was phenomenal — anything Leonardo DiCaprio does lately is genius — but it is also a film that leaves a lot up for debate and is meant, in my opinion, to be talked about. The title itself is defined as planting an idea into someone else’s subconscious.

After seeing it there are now a ton of theories and ideas planted in my own mind that I need to talk to someone about, however, my sister refuses to talk about them with me. I am going crazy! I have been having the most insane dreams the past two nights and I need to know if anyone else has seen it, and if they are feeling the same way.

At the end did the totem topple? I was hoping it would but then, of course, they ended it before you could see what happened! Was Cobb dreaming the entire time? Help! Tell me your thoughts!

22 or 12? That is the Question.

2 08 2010

Since moving back home in May I have been having somewhat of an identity crisis. I find myself fighting to keep my independence as a capable 22-year-old college grad, while at the same time struggling not to retract back to the simpler times of age 12.

After quitting my job as a retail salesperson to pursue my greater goal of a career in book editing, I have returned to a daily cycle of sleeping in, applying to jobs, spending the rest of my day going to the beach and/or playing with my dogs, followed by staying up late watching Friends DVDs. Occasionally I will venture out of this daily ritual to meet my friends for a night out in AC, Philly or NYC. However most of my stories tend to start with, “So I was hanging out with Bogie and Chip. . .” (Bogie and Chip are my two dogs’ names).

Living with my parents has only helped spin me further into the downward spiral that is now my life. I have gone from fending for my own meals three times a day to getting healthy and delicious home-cooked meals most nights of the week. The most I’ve had to do for a meal since graduation is set the table. I find myself giving an attitude if my mom asks me to do anything more. I don’t even know why I do it. It’s more of an innate reaction. You want me to scoop my own ice cream? ARE YOU CRAZY WOMAN?! DO YOU KNOW HOW HEAVY THAT SPOON IS?

I recently changed my student checking account over to a regular joint checking and savings account. My mom’s name was taken off the account and now I am solely the only one responsible for the money inside it. Big step, I know. When the man who was helping me set up my “Big Girl” account asked if I wanted to get the overdraft-security feature I was grateful for his thoughtfulness.

While away at school there have been several occasions where I have gotten the dreaded phone call from my father screaming at me about all the overdraft fees I had collected the month before. After the second time “I didn’t know,” and “Sorry Daddy,” just didn’t cut it. Now I will no longer have to fear the wrath of my father when his name pops up on the caller ID. Although this also means I will have to be more aware of the goings-on in my account, because I won’t have him to bail me out. Facing the parents or responsibility for my own actions? I have yet to figure out which I prefer.

Since I refuse to carry around a checkbook and write down my every transaction — for fear of losing interest in the act altogether and because I simply see it as a waste of time — I have conveniently added the mobile online banking app to my iPhone and signed up for an online banking account on my computer as well. So far I have been quite successful in not obtaining any overdraft fees, and I have even managed to collect some savings, as well. Aw. Look at me, growing up so fast.

Of course, I made my mom come with me to the bank. But in my defense, I knew I wouldn’t understand all of the bank language and I did not want to get taken for a ride. I mean, you don’t just go in to a dealership by yourself when you’re buying your first car, do you? No! Those salespeople will eat you alive.

Suffice to say, I still have a lot of growing up to do. And while living at home with my parents might help slow down the process a bit, I am fortunate to have two great parents to fall back on. I am lucky that they put up with my acting like a 12-year-old when I don’t feel like dealing with the realities that being 22 brings. But believe me, they are pretty good at giving me a kick in the back when I am getting on their nerves, and hopefully one of these days their threats that I’ll be living on the street soon won’t become a reality. Or else, I’ll just be moving in with my sister who has an apartment in NYC.

Retail Blues

12 07 2010

In order to save up some money for my inevitable future, I decided to return to my old job from high school for a bit. So I’ve been working in retail until I find a more permanent career opportunity. While getting my first paycheck was exciting, I have yet to decide whether the juice was worth the squeeze.

Standing for eight hours straight is no picnic, let me tell you. I have yet to find one pair of shoes that rubs me the right way. I am currently wearing a total of five blister band-aids on my feet. My shoes are so evil that they even managed to tear through the band-aids in order to continue irritating my blisters. I had to go to Walgreens last night to buy more, because I had used up all the ones in our house. The toughest part was deciding whether it was worth it to stand in line at the register for five minutes just to get them.

Even worse, I’ve become isolated in my retail bubble. I don’t even remember the last time I saw my friends. I barely even see my parents and we live in the same house. I used to have sleeping issues. I’ve even been prescribed medication for them. I wouldn’t fall asleep before at least 2 a.m. Now, forget about it. I’m out like a light within 20 minutes of walking in the door. Once I get home I just can’t keep my eyes open. I feel so boring, but I can’t help it. Between putting on a smile for the customers, feeling pressure from my manager and working ridiculously long hours I come home exhausted every day. I even began dreaming about the workplace. So now it truly feels like I never leave.

The best part of working retail is obviously the great discounts. Unfortunately I have been so busy working that I have yet to take full advantage of mine. I do get some percentage taken off my lunch everyday, however, which is nice. A girl’s gotta eat.

My hours should be slowing down in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully the economy will get better, as well, and I will get a job in the industry that I actually went to four years of school for. So now I’m going to go spend  the rest of my day off resting my feet and applying to some more jobs.

Until next time. . .

Born a Bookworm

28 06 2010

At the ripe age of four I was what some might call an advanced reader. One evening I amazed my family when I picked up Go Dog Go by Dr. Suess – a classic choice. Instead of the usual routine of mother-reading-to-toddler before bedtime, I reversed the roles and read the book to my mom, cover to cover. That night sparked a love for reading and imagination in me that never burned out.

I used to sneak books into the “Time Out” corner of my room with me on those rare occasions that I got into trouble. Once I was caught and I don’t think my parents knew what to do with me. Should they punish me further for not listening to them or praise me for making productive use out of my time there? I’m pretty sure I got the book taken from me.

Since my days with Dr. Seuss I have moved on to bigger and more complex works of fiction. For my fourth grade book report I immersed myself in the adventures of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, in high school I battled the Cyclops with Odysseus and I learned the tragic trials and tribulations of young love in Jodi Picoult’s The Pact.

While I took many interesting classes throughout college, furthering my appetite for exceptional literature, my heavy workload left little time for outside reading. I mostly read books that were required for class and found my reading wish list growing long and outdated. Before I got a chance to finish a book the movie version was premiering, and I’m a firm believer in reading the book before seeing its on-screen counterpart.

This summer I am getting a chance to catch up on some reading of my own desire. I am extremely excited because I got an Amazon Kindle for my birthday this year and I will finally be putting it to good use!

Feel free to leave any comments on the following books or add any suggestions on any good books you have read lately! Please – no spoilers though !

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

Chelsea, Chelsea Bang, Bang by Chelsea Handler

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, I’m A Canadensis Kid

22 06 2010

This weekend I reunited with my Camp Canadensis family for its 70th Anniversary Alumni Reunion. Eight friends and I stayed overnight in the Poconos Friday and then went into camp Saturday for the big event. I attended Canadensis from 1996 – 2005, Junior camper to Junior Counselor, and loved every minute of it.

Going to this reunion brought back so many memories for me. We went to The Pine Hollow Friday night, which is the bar that all of our counselors went to on their nights off. They used to tell us they were going to the Dairy Queen. I think it took me until my CIT summer to realize that this was not the case. When I was a JC my 10-year-old campers already knew that the Dairy Queen was code for going to the bar. There is such a loss of innocence in kids these days. Or am I really just that gullible?

Now that we’re all finally of legal drinking age and can get into the Hollow it was a very exciting experience. I was finally able to experience all the glamor I had been missing. I was able to get three drinks for just $9! I don’t know anywhere else where you can get a deal like that and it wasn’t any kind of drink special either.

I saw counselors and group leaders from when I was nine and 10 years old who now had husbands and babies and now I was at the bar having a drink with them!  It was surreal. I had looked up to these people and now they were talking to me as if I was a real person. It made me feel very grown up and sophisticated. Of course that all went downhill when I missed a step and fell in front of everyone — and yes, everyone saw. I’ve been known to be a klutz and this was not the time I needed to reclaim my title. It was completely embarrassing and as I got up and tried to brush it off like nothing happened I had about 10 people come up and ask me if I was OK. Dammit.

We got lucky Saturday and had perfect weather going into camp. It was amazing to see how beautiful the camp still is. We really took advantage of the camp’s beauty while walking those same camp roads every day for the seven weeks that we spent there as campers. Saturday I was able to appreciate and take in every inch of the camp grounds. I even rolled down the windows on the windy road driving into camp to breathe in the smell of camp air. Lake Lenape was glistening bright as ever, although I did not go in for fear of the snapping turtle Uncle Steve never caught and getting gasoline-covered legs again. I went into some of my old bunks. It’s nice to see that they have not changed one bit. The improvements camp has made, however, are really nice — except I still can’t get over the phone room now having cell phone chargers. I can not wrap my head around that one. I don’t think cell phones, or any type of technology, should be allowed during those weeks at camp. I got to catch an old timers’ NBA game on the office courts. Good job boys, you’ve proved you still have some steam left in you.

There’s something about being with friends that you’ve known since you were seven years old that brings you back to that juvenile state again. I don’t think I stopped smiling or laughing all weekend. When I left my cheeks hurt  but in a good way. There’s something to be said about a group of people who know each other inside and out, and love each other just the same, who might not see each other for months at a time but when they finally do get together pick up right where they left off. Apparently Camp Canadensis will be having reunions like this every five years from now on. I can’t wait until the next one.  I know I won’t have to wait too long until I am laughing with my friends again.