August 26, 2009

I’m a sucker for combination words. Bridezilla, ginormous, and pluot have all found their way into my vocabulary. So when I came across Stratejoy I was ecstatic. Especially since they have a quarterlife blog!

Go check it out:

I’m currently inspired by the “First Step: Simplify” post and liquidating my belongings.


August 26, 2009

From the ancient avenues of Rome to Sesame Street and through out the ages there have been great roommate sagas. Whether you are soon to share your abode with a real world roomies, that romantic someone special, a fellow college student or putting up with nearby office mates or cubicle chums, the roommate world is something we all have to face. Just realize you are not alone with your roommate “issues”. Look to the past or just plain fantasy for inspiration and advice on how to deal with that other person or persons living under your roof and in your real world.

Reality is not what you see on television…

Unlike MTV’s The Real World bunch of misfits, you will HAVE to really deal with the real issues of your real roommates.

Gossip Girl…

It is just plain old good advice. If you cannot say anything good about someone, do not say anything, blah, blah. Especially about your roommate.

Don’t do the Ashton Kutcher thing…

Yes, Ashton we got it. You are a perpetual kid in search of meaning in your inane privileged, non acting talented world. As a roomie in any capacity do not be like Ashton. No one needs to know every detail about your or your shared spaced other…a roommate is not Twitter fodder. Also, never “punk” your roommate, except in the cases of revenge “punking” or if you have a rich history of college-esque practical joking. Like his camera commercials, no need to get into every little nick and cranny of your roomies personal life, give them some space. Finally, don’t move in or in Ashton’s case marry your mom.

Harmony on your own Sesame Street

You have to work at your relationship. After all, the two Muppets, Bert and Ernie, stayed together for decades. And I am not taking sides on any argument that they might have been gay.


No need to be a Decepticon, be yourself, but you may need to do some transforming changing to keep a healthy roomie world. Change is a good thing and sometimes, you just have to be the hero or heroine with a super human effort to live with someone much different than you.

Denial is not just river in Egypt

Anthony and Cleopatra are a classic example of avoiding the roommate issue by “playing house” at your significant other’s abode. Face up to what is going on or you might get bitten in the asp.

Sometimes Three’s Company

It’s not the 70’s anymore and stranger company have become roomies since then. Some of you might want to try out a little coed roommate cohesion. Or in the ground hogging cubicle whole world, shake things up. Don’t just eat your Subway and pretend to work while Twittering. Tear down a cube and personal wall every now and then.

Keep your reputation Snow White…and the Seven Dwarves

Your roomy relationship, how you deal with the good times and bad is up to you. It is a reflection of you. Consider Snow White. She roomed with seven guys. Some see her as Princess others as just a tramp with a midget fetish.

Little Women equals big problems

Too much of something can be hazardous to your health. In the classic by Louisa May Alcott, it was estrogen. No matter the roommate type, give diversity a chance.

This ain’t no game show

Remember it is not always the last one standing that wins. In your roomy Survivor, you do not get roommate immunity and you do not have the privilege of always voting someone off the island.

OH! Back to that whole reality programming thing…

No cameras, but probably life with all types of roomies from family to college buds to your fiancé’s psycho cat can have very REAL drama, ups, downs and high draws from viewer demographics 18-32 year olds. Reality with people? Can’t live with them and you cannot live without them. Have a little love for them regardless of how much a pain in the bum they can be at times.

Like castaways, you’re here for a long, long time…

You will have to make the best of things on your own Gilligan’s island.

Roomie, roomie, rooo! Where are you? – Scooby and Shaggy

Nothing breaks the ice like a big bunch of munchies and roomie snacks…just hang out in your Mystery Van and get to know one another a little better.

Friends for life

Sometimes you are just made to be roommates, like Joey and Chandler. All you might need is a pair of recliners and a huge television for roomy bliss. And plasmas are totally coming down on price…pick out a nice one as football pre-season is just around the corner.

Don’t be a Vick!

Respect your roomies dogs, cats, fish and occasional feisty hamster. Set down some ground rules.

Roommate bliss is not just a fairy tale

Remember conflict is a part of every human association.  If Shrek and Donkey, an ogre and an ass, can get along so can you and a roommate.

At times you have probably seen or will come to know your own roomy relationship as a tragedy or dark comedy. Whether your roommate experience is positive or negative, nothing beats all the growing up that takes place while you are in that relationship.

Having roommates sets you up a little bit better to handle family, co-workers, boy/girl friends, husbands, significant others and the whole host of human interactions later in life. Learn from your mistakes and successes now. Don’t be like the first roommates: Adam and Eve. In the end, even they got evicted!

What NOT to Pack for the Return to School.

August 17, 2009

With economics as they are, so many quarter lifers are returning to the books and hitting the hallowed halls of college again. Some are attending the local community college, seeking the masters or more from the bigger universities while many are taking advantage of the online or distance education offerings.
And I say go for it. More experience, more education, more sheets of paper and parchment or initials after your name can give one more respect, green moola and better whole life opportunities. Plus, what else ya going to do? You might be stuck in the same cubicle for the next decade or forcibly made to vacate it by HR any day now.
But going back to school will not be the same as the first round. Or if you flunked out it might be…that is if you make the same mistakes a second time around. Do not drink the punch, attend to class, take notes and do not creep out the college kiddies by hanging around the “duds and suds” laundry mat slash bar looking for pick ups, free drinks or quarters.
So for those going back to MBA it, refresh your Microsoft licenses, choosing a new career path in dental hygienist or to find a real major instead of your bachelors degree in medieval literature or marketing…I have some advice for you. I will put it to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas and it is sort of the what not to pack for the big college move. Except this time you are not putting your stuff in the back of the mom and dad SUV. It is not what to pack in your life when going back to school.
“What NOT to pack for the big college move…”

To the tune of the 12 days of Christmas…

On the first day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
The idea that you have to bring EVERYTHING!

And by that I mean your baggage from the last time you hit the books. Take it serious this time. And this is not an escape from the real world, but more of (and I know you hate to hear this)…more of an adult, mature, smart decision about your future real world.

On the second day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
A long distance relationship

If you are actually moving to another locale in order to go back to school, I am going to let you in a sobering fact. No one is telling you to dump him or her or give up on the love of your life. It’s just that the statistics say that you two are not going to last a semester apart. In a NASPA poll conducted during 2000-7 of various freshmen classes, only one in thirty high school relationships survived past the first holiday break. And it is my personal opinion the numbers would be the same for us so called adults. It’s up to you if it’s love city or dumps-ville…but don’t say we didn’t tell you so! All I am saying is think about it. With your brain and your heart…

On the third day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Every technological device known to human kind.

If you actually hit the classroom, most professors are not allowing laptops or any techie devices at all. Too many security reasons and just plain rude these days. Pencil and paper baby!

On the fourth day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Bad habits of old.

It’s your money and future now, not the parentals. You have no excuse that you are just a dumb college kid.

On the fifth day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
The desire to shame those around me with breaking the grade curve.

Okay, I said previously to take this decision to return to the classroom seriously. But, no need to be the older, non traditional student who keeps everyone after class time with nagging questions. Be a good student, but be cool at it as well.

On the sixth day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Beer bongs, silly string shooters, water balloon launchers, Jaeger coolers and super soakers.

See bad habits. There is a time and a place for everything. And that is further emphasized according to the great philosopher Chef from South Park, “Children there is a time and a place to try everything and that is college.” That is the first time you went. And that stuff will land you in the slammer these days. No matter what the movie Old School says, no matter how you want to relive the Jack Ass days. Bones do not heal as quickly, felonies add up, credit scores do count and your rents will not bail you out this time. Plus, you can so catch mononucleosis and about thirty types of hepatitis from beer pong.

On the seventh day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Too many ideas on how to decorate or set up my room

Bear with me. I have been lecturing a lot on the grown up side of this whole decision of re-matriculating. True it is serious stuff, but you can have fun. Just for shits and grins, go break out of the college mementos box or start anew one bad habit from the oldie but goodie days. Put that poster up or hang those Christmas lights. Turn on the Miller Lite sign. Drink your energy shakes one shot glass at a time. But only ONE bad habit!

On the eighth day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Budgetary crisis

Money is hard to come by. Scholarships and grants hardly exist for graduate students. Still you should do your research. Set yourself up to succeed on test day scores and with your credit score. Weigh the fiduciary options before committing to the buying all those #2 pencils.

On the ninth day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
A closed mind

The return to school is a place that you will either further confirm what you hold true or blow it out of the water. AGAIN! It is a time AGAIN to expand you, your beliefs and your world. Nowhere else will you run into so many new people, new ideas and new ways of doing things. Vive la diversity! AGAIN!

On the tenth day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Unrealistic expectations

Chad Rogers, Distance Education Advisor at Manhattan College says, “The greatest thing you can do to set yourself up for some hard times in continuing your education is to believe that college is what is portrayed in the movies or like it was back in the day.” For the most part, there are no Van Wilder’s, Old School and no American Pies. But, college is what you make of it, with solid goals for grades, social and general healthy living.

On the eleventh day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Million boxes of Ramen, mac & cheese, peanut butter crackers, Capri suns, Red Bull, etcetera.

And if you have to return to Hamburger Helper nights…dat’s okay. Better days lie ahead and its puts perspective those $14 double dirty apple-tinis. A cold beer in a plastic cup can be a beautiful thing.

On the twelfth day of fall semester I am glad I did not bring with me…
Well, actually I WANT you to bring this…hope. A big decision has arrived and nothing this large, expensive, time consuming and life changing can be done without hope.

Good luck with moving and packing and NOT PACKING all the things you will need to arrive, thrive and survive your school year!

A Confusing Quarter Life Crisis: Generational Pass Up.

August 6, 2009

Today was super confusing. I had a non traditional student come into my office today with a roommate issue. By that I mean she was a twenty three year old graduate student, with an internship at our student union department, lived on campus and was an international student from Switzerland. I believe quarter life starts differently and at widely varying times in a young person’s life. By the math, this young lady was definitely in the ¼ category and thus fair game for me to comment on. But, it was the uber Millennial aspects of her personality which made me think I was seeing the next wave of quarter lifers, the next generation, that I might be heading quickly into a new demographic category and no one has come up with a new name for these kids punching out of our grand matriculating college apparatus.

But at the beginning of the meeting, no big whoop. Just another cog in the diverse student body machine of campus. And probably her roomie issue was going to be in the well worn categories of bills, lifestyles, behavior conflicts, levels of slobby or INFP personality types from the Myers Briggs tests.

I was happily wrong, but terribly perplexed after our discussion and my attempts to help her with her unique situation. It left me wondering, pondering many questions about life, good versus evil, is there a God, and is there already a generation gap, stimulus packages and how I could somehow flesh out a small off Broadway script from our hour long meeting.

And hopefully by blogging this out, I might help you the reader. And I might contribute in some small way to the betterment of mankind and finally to remove the nagging mental tumor of our encounter from a rapidly degrading mental state of my professional and personal mind.

So here we go.

Well, my appointment did eventually make it in, wet hair and frumpled clothes not withstanding on her sleep deprived, unkempt, inked up, iPod budded ears and some sort of Asiatic language tattoo print on her nicotine stained left finger. As I like to ice breaker as soon as I can, and just got the ear phones ejected from her ears, I asked about the finger tattoo. She told me it was tribal.

Oh, I love that one. I get this tribal thing all the time. Your last name is Johnson sweetie and the last tribe you were in was sometime around 200 AD in some Anglo-Saxon wave into Britain. Plus it is in Japanese and was probably inked by a Honduran guy who could not even speak English. But, in her defense I was also told it meant peace in mind. I took it’s garbled print’s advice and Zen’d myself for the issues ahead.

Okay, outside of her apparent trust in late night body painting, her reason for visiting me. This one was about a relationship problem with the roomie and the infamous third roommate or in other words, the shacking boyfriend.

Here is the simple exchange.

“Cathy, thanks for coming in. I hope we can help ya out. Tell me what’s going on.”

“My roommate and I are not speaking because of a big argument over my boy friend sleeping over some nights during the week. It’s not like we’re bugging her. We’re quiet and he is usually gone before she even wakes up. Her big hang up is like that my guy…ummm, like we’re sleeping together…she thinks, like I am a whore. I mean like I’m a good girl, I don’t sleep a around. She and I are even in College Sister’s for Christ and she is like, ummm spreading around rumors that I am not a virgin. I am.”

Okay. Me likey this. Sounds interesting. Sounds like a few standard responses of diversity, respect, a counseling appointment, maybe some mediation or in the end a new roommate assignment might be in order. Been down this track many a time. I could handle this.

Then she hit me. “I am still a virgin. My boyfriend and I only have anal sex because we are saving each other for marriage.

My mind did a needle scrape across the cliché record. “Anal sex?” I was barely listening to her story which was the same one I had heard a thousand times before in the roommate genre, but when the term anal came up, followed by sex…and when put in conjunction with the fact that his little coed still believed she was a virgin. Wow!

She began to boo hoo a bit and I handed her a tissue from our large supply of boxes of Kleenex. From there out, I did not recall much of what she said, but I doled out some advice about respecting privacy and belief structures. Then there was the standard comfort zone speech. I am pretty sure she got the drift that if you want peace in your abode, you have to have it with your partner and for now she lives with one person and that’s the gal you need to make happy. If you need to shack…stay at the boyfriend’s. Not sure I helped. Not sure I could.

The main thing I wanted to concentrate on after she left was a puzzling question. Anal sex = virginity? Somehow this fellow of hers had the creative salesmanship to be able to convince her that taking one up the butt was still considered non-sex. What a slick willy…no pun intended. This guy could possibly run for President some day. Absolutely, fascinating.

What I am getting at here is the idea, we might be seeing the defining aspect of the next generation. That the quarter lifers are coming to a new era. That those of us in such, might be leaving early into a thirties-something era not by right of age, but by the difference of behavior and belief. I think the chief word for the new twenty-somethings is gullibility.

The new ladies and gents coming out and up will do anything, fall for anything and never have any idea as to why they did it, what cause they did or did not support, what they believe in and why so?

Maybe I am just bitching here, but wow. I am certainly not old enough to be griping about young people, to be shaking my fist and chatting about the good ol days, but be on the look out. These kids are coming and you might just see your quarter lifer personality acting more like your parents way sooner than you thought.

Got a light?

August 6, 2009

Urban Outfitters (what is arguably the toy store for our generation) has started carrying bubble gum cigarettes. When I saw them next to the candy “grillz” and the “grow your own boyfriend”, I got excited. My experience with candy cigarettes was through our ice cream truck. My friends and I would buy an Astro Pop or a Snow Cone and a pack of cigarettes for later.

None of our parents ever freaked out. In fact my mom was with me when I saw them and we had a moment of gushing over this lost artifact. No one ever considered that “smoking” candy cigarettes would lead to a life of addiction. And they haven’t. File that correlation under Marilyn Manson makes kids shoot other kids and Global Warming is a natural occurrence; Bunk.

However, it did make me consider what we are addicted to. Sure, there is a large sector of our generation addicted to smoking. Most of us did our fair share of experimenting as teenagers or in college and it either stuck or didn’t. It’s unhealthy, we know the repercussions, and we’ve accepted or rejected them. But beyond a nicotine fix, what else are we medicating with?

At a point when things are the most confusing, the most challenging, and the most difficult- sometimes you just need something to make yourself feel better. Maybe that’s food, maybe it’s shopping ( should be regulated by the FDA), maybe you jones for an imported beer, maybe you find solace in sex, or maybe it’s an illicit substance. Those things that make life a little more manageable sometimes take over and that’s all you want.

So is that what is happening with us? Are we falling into patterns of addiction instead of lives?  At a time when so many of us are searching for that next meaningful thing to do, we may turn to those things we crave to dull the growing pains (be honest- how many blogs have you read today). Addiction is incredibly easy today. Recently, I had to take my car in for some minor repairs and when it took longer than expected, they gave me a rental car. Twelve hours later with no GPS, no iPod, and no satellite radio, I was starting to twitch from withdrawal. I’m addicted to engineering my environment to reflect my mood. But without the crutch of my addictions, I was pushed outside my routine and into uncomfortable places.

I didn’t have any earth shattering experiences from being forced to listen to shock-jock radio, but I did see the benefit of breaking the addiction now and then. It’s easy to become complacent. When jobs and housing and relationships are so up in the air for quarterlifers its easy to turn to bubble gum cigarettes for a break from thinking about the next step. But maybe now and then we need to put the pack down and pick up something else. Who knows, you may just find a new addiction.