“Where Are You Going In Life?”: A Holiday Special [Cazey]

By Cazey Williams

Premiering this Wednesday night and lasting all through the holidays, brought to you by Your Family, the inevitable interrogation: “What are you doing with your life?” or the various other ways to phrase that prying query.

It’s open season for your relatives to find you at family dinners and ask about life. Oh, it seems so innocuous at first: “What classes are you taking?” “How’s that job?” And then: “So what do you want to do with that?” “Where are you going in life?”

Well, right now I’m headed for the eggnog – unless there’s some gin and tonic available, because I’m going to need something stronger to handle that question.

Since preschool we have been asked “What do you want to do?” And now that we’re twenty-somethings, the question still persists (*heavy sigh*) – and in so many other forms. People are no longer content to hear you want to be a fireman or a nurse – or, like I used to say, an Egyptologist. Sorry, guys, I don’t want to dust off pyramids anymore.

They want concrete, “realistic,” relevant answers. Like, what do you actually want to do? And not just what you want to do, but what are you doing. I imagine (read: hope) the inquiries will stop when I turn 30, but I think that’s false hope. The cross-examination only ceases once you fulfill first world society’s ideal of what is success: Steady job, permanent location, married, kids on the way. And if after achieving this, the variables fluctuate – say, you divorce or you quit your job to go do something else, God forbid – the grilling begins all over. I’ve seen it from afar: Suddenly your cousin is the condescending “So, Joe, now that you’re no longer as successful as me, what are you going to do about that?”

What Joe should say: “Sorry, my mouth is stuffed with turkey and sangria, so I can’t answer you.”

Senior year of college, the most contentious question to ask your peers was, “What are you doing after graduation?” Some people ask because they’re curious and have no judgment (ha! Everyone has judgment!), and some people want to know so they can compare life paths (“Mine puts me at $10K more than you”).

Millennials ducked that hurdle by assuring our collective selves that “it’s okay” not to know what you’re doing postgrad – until you’re a few years out. Like me now. But oh wait, I’m in grad school/have an internship/I must know what I’m doing.

WHERE DID THIS MYTH COME FROM?

Maybe, just maybe, I went to grad school to avoid answering the question of my life path. I got a BS in statistics, not in Life’s Purpose. And just because I’m in grad school for something super STEM-y does not mean I might not go become a New York columnist (which is better than a Minneapolis or LA columnist, obviously) or work with Ebola in Africa (which is what I would really love to do, do you hear that, Mom and Dad?). “So then why are you in grad school?” I don’t know!

But oh, if you don’t know about your career, we can change the subject. My aunt will ask if there’s anyone special in my life, and my mom will answer for me – and then she will add, “It’s because he doesn’t know how to compromise.” Well, eff you, too.

Finally, to shush everyone, I’ll admit, “I’m just working toward a place where one day I can make a pumpkin pie and not feel compelled to Instagram it to show that I’m an adult.”

However, I’m guessing they don’t make pumpkin pies in Africa. Sorry, everyone.

Unrequited, but Rational (I Swear) [Cazey]

By Cazey Williams

Today in Starbucks I thought I saw you. Of course it couldn’t be you, because you’re on another continent, and I’m here pursuing the practical path of PhD student. But let’s not pretend I forgot about you.

The synopsis is short. I liked your best friend, but then I met you. (Your friend foretold we would get along, not that that matters.) You invited me to your hometown and entranced me. I should’ve kissed you, but I didn’t. I tried to hang out with you again, but you always said, “Rain chk plz”…unless your best friend was around.

You (the reader this time) would think this is an open-and-shut case; she didn’t like me, and maybe this is true, but I offer up the defense.

The Monday after I should have kissed you, I saw your best friend. She had no idea we had been together, though I knew you two had been texting.

You edited a literary magazine. I submitted this story. I called it “The Hardest Glass” – because your friend told me, in a Gchat, that you’re the hardest glass to break. I had to pull an Ian McEwan (Atonement, anyone?) and fabricate a “happier” ending where the boy and girl reunite, though not for good. Never for good. You’re not someone I see ever being somewhere, with someone, for good. And you probably take that as a compliment. You should.

Maybe you read my story, because you invited me to your party. I came, we chatted, but I never want anyone to know I have affection, so I left. I did that to you several times. I want to say we’re both cowards, but in hindsight, it’s one-sided.

I resent myself for remembering these trivial details. I am a rational person. I haven’t seen you in over a calendar year. Yet here I am taken aback to see your ghost in Starbucks. It’s not a frequent longing; I only comb your Facebook photos every six months, less often than I judge my high school peers I haven’t seen in over half a decade. But I resent myself (I backspaced over the word hate) because it is every six months. You should be forgotten by then, like every other lust/crush I’ve ever had.

And I hate myself because when I post things on social media, I wonder if you’ll see it, and what you’ll think, and if you’ll like it, though I know you won’t, even though I like your things methodically, only things that I can objectively justify for liking. I wonder if you’ll see this.

I worry I’m creepy. Okay, I know I am “creepy” from the removed standpoint of observer. But because I recognize this, am I less creepy? And why can’t I get over you? Why are you in all the songs on my Spotify? “Stubborn Love,” “Riptide,” “I Already Forgot Everything You Said.” And “Stay With Me.” And “Coeur D’Alene.”

And because I can’t get rid of you, I wonder (read: wish) do you have the same thoughts? And because I’m a rational person, I know you don’t. But because I over think things, because I’m a rational person, if I can so irrationally hold onto a crush (and no one here is mistaking this for love/romance/butterflies and strawberries), then you could, too. But you don’t. And neither should I.

Yet I continue to over think you. I rationalize you. I don’t like you; I like your ideal: The bonafide bohemian, the wanderlust millennial. You travel by moon’s phases and morning’s impulses, and I, I live by Google Calendars and emails. I want that, not you.

That makes me feel more rational.

Is Selfie-Confidence the New Self-Confidence?

A guy once did a good creep over of all my social media accounts and asked/told me: “You’re a good-looking girl, but there’s no selfies so you must lack self-confidence?”

We never talked again because what the hell.

But then it happened again. A new friend request, then a few days later, “It’s weird that you don’t post pictures of yourself anywhere. Why is that?”

That was less bizarre to me, so I engaged further in the dialogue, only to be met eventually with the question as to why I wouldn’t put up more selfies of myself UNLESS I didn’t have confidence in my physical looks.

with that guy too.

This time, though, it did make me really wonder about it. Why am I getting slammed for not posting pictures of myself? Doesn’t it mean something that I value myself enough, and have enough confidence on my own, without needed the “likes” and approvals of my social media peers? Is “omg hawt” from my friend that feels morally obligated to comment on a selfie really supposed to make my heart flutter with self-confidence?

Why is it now assumed that because I don’t take daily pictures of myself and subject my followers to scroll through them imply that I am a heifer? I mean, I am self- aware enough to know I am no model, but I am also confident enough to know that my looks don’t make people want to burn their eyes out. Or at least, no one has yet to burn their eyes out after seeing me, that I know of.

If this is a sign of the times, I want out.

I want back to the days where a guy will compliment you in person, and not just throw you a “like” on one of your super-filtered is that even you anymore selfies and call it a day. Let’s #throwbackthursday to a time before #wcw’ing someone was a way of telling them you liked them. Oh. My. Gosh. Maybe we can even talk about our feelings face to face and not via text messages rife with ambiguous emojis.

Nah, I’m probably asking too much.

Sweet Starbucks Hack [Cazey]

By Cazey Williams

I’m a Starbucks aficionado in the most non-basic sense, which means I don’t order mocha chais or – God forbid – PSLs. The only time I get more exciting than a “Trenta iced coffee, light soy, light ice, unsweetened” is when I have a reward drink, and then I might – might – order some sort of frappucino with double espresso shots.

I don’t do this more often because of the two C’s that dictate most of my dietary habits: Cost and calories. However, once upon a time, my friend introduced me to the Tazo (insert trademark symbol) Green Tea Frappucino Blended Crème (apparently that’s the proper name). I had a sore throat at that encounter, which added to my adoration.

That frappucino happens to cost $4.75 if you order a venti (and why wouldn’t you?). If your heart palpitated at that, wait until you hear about the nutrition. It’s so bad that Starbucks is very sorry, but “the nutritional data for this product is not available online.” Thankfully, nutrition sleuths exist online, and they estimate calories for that venti at 420, which primarily comes 88 grams of carbohydrates. Carbs in themselves are not bad – but 86 of those grams are sugar. Yes, sugar. I just got diabetes.

The iced green tea latte is loaded with similar sins.

Therefore, I present to you my sweet Starbucks hack that is both cheaper and healthier. Order a Trenta shaken green iced tea (Teavana with the trademark symbol if you care – and a trenta because I always do) and ask for no water. When you order a shaken iced tea usually, Starbucks already has the tea made, but they then add water. Yup, they water it down. Right? What the heck is that? So when you say “no water,” they give you all tea.

So then the barista asks, “Sweetened or unsweetened?” This is your choice. And I know aspartame comes out of the devil’s pores, but gosh, I love my Sweet’N Low and always ask for just one packet. Of course, this might kill me down the road, but not as fast as the 86g sugar overdose.

Finally, you ask for a splash of soy, which means like a fourth of a cup in generous barista language. If they’re stingy, you need two splashes. (We’re trying not to get charged here.) Starbucks carries vanilla soy milk, and this is what gives the creamy, sweet addition you need to emulate a latte. (Sorry, this isn’t exactly a frappucino, but you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.)

Altogether, $3.28 on my gold card. Ka-ching.

photo

Here I am modeling with this heavenly creature we’ve created. Look at those chapped knuckles. Taylor Swift should cast me in a music video.

Note how the color goes with the yellow foliage. Yeah, I know it’s November; who wants an iced beverage? Well, I hope you burn your tongue on your steamed milk.

Anyway, get to Starbucks fast, and let me know what you think!

Why I Should Stop Using Dating Apps [Cazey]

By Cazey Williams

As I’ve discussed in a pre​vi​ous blog, I am on several dating apps – but I don’t do anything on them. Sure, I match with people and have the occasional ​discourse​, but I have no intention of asking anyone out barring extraordinary circumstances like I don’t have homework that week. (Maybe over winter break then?)

Since I recognize this in myself, I have told myself to stop matching with people because it gives false hope to the ladies – but then I don’t stop because what else do I do while eating lunch out of Tupperware? Yet I never thought it was to my detriment until last weekend.

The scene: Happy hour at a classy museum. My friend invited me along with several of her friends. I meet “Lisa” who’s nice and all that, but as unmemorable as her dating profile because I don’t recognize her.

A cider in, I ask Lisa what she does. She squints her eyes when she responds: She’s in pre-something school, but she wants to be a doctor, a specific kind of doctor – and it hits me, I’ve had this conversation before. Ten days ago. With the same exact person.

“I think I need a glass of wine,” I announce.

In line to order, I check my recent Bagel Meets Coffee chats, and yup, there she is. Hey, Lisa.

FML. FML. FML.

Now acutely aware that Lisa is my failed-to-launch dating app match – and I’m pretty sure she’s known it the whole time – I spend the rest of the evening gulping from my wineglass and SnapChatting/texting my best friends. Meanwhile, Lisa talks with my friend about some guy she had just gone on a date with. A phone is passed around with a picture of the guy.

I glance at the screen and pass it like a hot potato. I mean, it really wasn’t that awkward. Maybe she didn’t realize (oh, but she did). But this was a great example of why I should stop futilely swiping right on people and even engaging in conversation.

Lisa decided to leave before dinner. She waved goodbye to the group. We made no eye contact, but I ad-libbed, “Nice to meet you.”

My friend turned to me. “You’re flushed.”

“Oh, you know . . . the wine.”

Friend Your Mom

In college, lots of my professors warned about being cautious about what you post on social media. Despite your best efforts, employers can find anything they want about you online, including your social media pages. So how do you prepare your profile to be seen by people that potentially hold your future in their hands? The easiest way to to do that is friend your mom.

If you don’t want your mom to see it, you definitely don’t want it on Facebook. That picture of you passed out after a long night of partying? Nope, momma won’t want to see that. Don’t put it on Facebook. That cuss-filled post sub-texting everyone on your feed? Mother won’t be happy. Keep it to yourself.

I know when my mom first joined Facebook, I was nervous that she was going to be that mom who blows up the feed with “WHAT A CUTIE,” and “WHO IS THAT IN THIS PICTURE,” etc. But, it’s actually really easy to avoid that. You know how?

You talk to her. I explained to my mom that everyone can see everything you do on Facebook, so comment sparingly. Please try not to “like” every photo in an album, especially if it’s not even my album. If you have something disproving /inside joke-ish / mom-ish, please take it up with me in a private manner.

And my mom has been a Facebook gem. She comments on things, and it’s always appropriate and probably only once or twice annoying. I say that now, though, and she’ll probably read this and go HAM all over my wall just to be silly (hi, mom, still glad we’re friends).

Speed Networking Woes [Cazey]

By Cazey Williams

In my life outside blogging, I happen to be events chair for my local alumni chapter. That job entails planning football viewings, happy hours and promoting friend making.

So my event idea was to coerce people who regularly attend our meetings to meet people different than the ones they already know and/or came with. I originally called it “speed dating,” but then decided we weren’t trying to market to lusty singles, so let’s go with “speed networking” – because that’s what we’re doing. Except not in the professional sense; or at least that wasn’t the primary goal. When I wrote up the event blurb, I put, “Emphasis on social.”

Okay, in hindsight, every name for the event was doomed. Social networking conjures notions of Facebooking and tweeting. Speed dating…well, this isn’t for hapless Valentines. And speed networking – please, keep your business cards in your pocket.

To keep the event lite (misspelled on purpose), I made a bingo sheet for an ice breaker. Each square had something related to our alma mater. I printed out a list of questions stolen from websites meant for both speed dating and networking.

The first person to arrive for the event was in a tan suit and had silver hair. Me internally: Crap. Like, I’m wearing moccasins. I almost wore shorts. We shake hands.

“This is my first event in several years,” Mr. Businessman says.

“What brought you out?”

“The speed networking. I love networking. I’ve been in sales for 16 years.”

“Well,” I think fast, “we’re expecting a mixed crowd, so it’s gonna be a little social, a little professional (not at all, I’m in moccasins). Hopefully you’ll get something out of it.”

“Can’t wait to find out.”

Oh, I can.

People trickle in. The assortment is mixed only by contrast: Me and my moccasins, 23 and in grad school, and everyone else years older and employed – or formerly employed. Gosh, I invited you here to make friends, not get you a job. One of my worst self-critiques is underperforming, and I would say a list of questions that includes “Star Wars or Star Trek?” is underperforming for this crowd.

Of course, the pizza comes out late (yes, we’re hosting this at a pizza parlor; why were you expecting business networking?!). Some people mingle. Others wait for me to prompt this networking. Me: I only have it to make it through an hour before I can drink away this humiliation.

I narrate how this will work, mention “we were expecting a mixed crowd, so I prepared for social and professional networking (so I won’t ask ‘If you were an animal in the wild, what would you be?’),” and try to explain the bingo ice breaker – but some of the older men just don’t get it. Forget it; it’s an ice breaker. I need a megaphone. I’m sweating. No one can hear me. No one knows which way to rotate. People are repeating the opposite of what I said.

The first person I network with is Mr. Businessman. He says he’s been to many networking events. In fact, he specifies: “I teach group networking.” Great. Judge this failed spectacle.

“Well, I’d love to hear what advice you have,” I say. Should I be biting into this pizza while listening? Is that professional? Well, darn it, I’m hungry. “Like, what prompts I should use.” (Because I was going to ask “Who was your favorite superhero when you were little – and how does that relate to your profession?”)

Once I collected comment cards at the end, I assessed that the event was not as disastrous as I painted it. In fact, my biggest criticism was not starting on time (sorry, we waited until 7:05 PM; I guess there are no stragglers in the business world). However, I would not have worn moccasins.

What’s an education if you become famous? [Cazey]

By Cazey Williams

So, not to name names, but my alma mater – an institution of higher learning, or so I thought – has recently taken up promoting a “recent student” of theirs for a reality show contest.

What does “recent student” mean? You would think alumni, right? No, earnest readers; it means a freshman who failed out. Are you even a freshman if you fail out? And it’s not like he failed this past May, so he could do a redo/have a second life/this isn’t Mario Kart. No, no, he failed out two years ago (2013). But you know, we should give him a break; freshman year was hard, especially those keg stands.

To elaborate: There is a male of conventional standards – aka Caucasian, brown hair, attractive, dumb (is that a stretch of an assumption? But had to throw this in, or else I’d be describing myself *recoils*) – who attended my undergrad and is now on a competitive reality show (hint: singing, Gwen Stefani, etc.). I haven’t done much research because TV isn’t my thing, nor is fanboying, but I know he’s been on the show a couple of weeks. However, this child happens to have attended my old university for a year before he failed out. Or maybe he withdrew, but from what I know, his grades weren’t getting him car insurance deals.

How do I know? Well, I have my sources. And the facts are, he went to my university and never came back, and there’s a gap year between then and now. ~Suspicious~ Ain’t like he was in New York pursuing ~the dream~.

You would expect circumstances like that to be, I don’t know, embarrassing. However, either he or – I really hope not – my alma mater decided to acknowledge their past relations, and he is now hailed as “a recent student.”

Da fuxx is that.

If he wants to say he went to my alma mater, fine. But what pricks me the wrong way is my INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING (did you get that last part?) wants to uphold him as some student and representative of our university by Facebooking and Tweeting “Tune in tonight to watch our pillar of success fail-out perform” or “We’re cheering for our recent student (who everyone should try to emulate), and here’s how to vote.” YO, DEANS AND PRESIDENT, he failed out (?!?!). What sort of message are you sending?

The Regina George within me is brimming with “You didn’t even go there!” (Okay, you did. For eight months. Hardly a degree. Hardly a student. That’s like another university endorsing a student by saying, “This dude hooked up with one of our coeds – vote for him!”)

Anyway, these are my thoughts, and here is a meme:

Failed Out School's Hero

The Mirror Replacement: Vitamins

Sometimes what’s happening in my head isn’t clearly communicated to the rest of the world. And almost all of the time when that’s happening, I’m not noticing it until I get nothing but a blank stare back.

Yesterday I was scheduled for a hair appointment. I had purchased the cut off groupon, where I get all my haircuts. No really, I buy all my haircuts off groupon. Anyways, I knew I wouldn’t have to use my card, so I’d need cash to pay the tip. So in the small window of time between work and my appointment, I knew I needed to run to Bank of America.

But wait, what’s right across the street from the ATM? Just the Target I go to at least once a week. And you know what Target sells? Those cheap, not heavy $5 mirrors, which is exactly what I need. I need a cheap, not heavy mirror to replace the one my landlords took back, but after the mirror fall of 2014, a not heavy one is key.

So my new plan, rather than the ATM is to run into Target, get the mirror and get cash back. They do do cash back, right? Fingers crossed.

I quite literally jog into Target, speed walk back to the mirror isle, and grab what appears to be the cheap mirror. Nay, it feels too heavy to be the $5 mirror, but I grab it to scan at the end of the isle just to be safe. I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing, me knowing where the self scanners are in the Willow Lawn Target, or the awkward straddling that went on for me to try to get the bar code to scan.

Eventually, I got the mirror to scan, and, alas, I know my Target mirrors and this one was not one of the light $5 mirrors. I quickly put it back and track down a friendly employee.

“Do you have any more of the cheap $5 mirrors anywhere other than the mirror isle?”

“No, we only do that at the beginning of the school year, but I can go look in the back to see if we have any more.”

“It’s okay, I’m on a time crunch, I’ll just get vitamins.”

Well, if that wasn’t the blankest state I’ve ever gotten.

And for some reason, it took me a minute to figure out why that replacement item seemed off. In my head, it made sense. Replace the mirror I need with vitamins I also need in order to get the cash back, which is what I really need at this point.

So rather than try to explain it, I just turn and speed walk to the vitamin isle. Sorry to the Target employee that probably went home and told his parents/friends about the weird chick that bought vitamins instead of a mirror. No wait, you’re welcome for giving you another glorious customer service story.

How To Not Lose a Guy in Multiple Ways [Cazey]

By Cazey Williams

A few weeks ago, my friend invited me to dinner with her roommate and her thing. (“Thing” because this is 2014, and “boyfriend” / “girlfriend” / insert-term-that-doesn’t-reinforce-the-gender-binary is way too close to “fiancé” / “fiancée” / insert-another-gender-spectrum-term. It’s also 2014 because of that third option.)

I knew she and the thing had been going through a rough patch – similar to gravel beneath a blowup swimming pool – but assumed they were over it. We even went to the thing’s house post-dinner. And stayed there for three hours. I took selfies with his cat. When we left, he invited us all to go pumpkin picking the next day.

Outside, she exhaled: “Ugh, I was just trying to get out of there. I can’t stand him.”

Welcome to the Age of the We-Don’t-Break-Up-We-Just-Drift-Apart. People struggle to quit relations (I’m evading that heavy word “relationship”), partially because people don’t get together (at least in the official sense), but mostly because we’re avoidant millennials. And when I say break up, I don’t mean the “We are not dating anymore” conversation (which assumes you have been dating in some sort of official, Facebook-notarized way). I mean the “I’m no longer interested in you, but I won’t say that, so I’ll just stop initiating, but I will answer your texts and occasionally like your Facebook status – maybe even comment on your Instagram posts – but no, I won’t make out with you – unless we’re at a bar, and I’ve had a rough week. And yeah, I might leave my leftovers in your fridge. P.S. I hope you pick you up on these signals.”

This leads to brooding Sunday brunches where you question life, love, and how many episodes of “Orange Is the New Black” you can watch before work tomorrow while scrolling through his/her tagged photos – and also scrolling through Tinder matches.

Examples abound: You two go to dinner, think “Well, I should never do that again,” but then they invite you to the movies the next weekend – or worse, you’re bored and have no plans, so why not see what they’re up to tonight? And then you’re in the dark of the theater overwhelmed with “How do I get rid of them now?”

Or you’re texting about hanging out, and you keep saying you can’t do this Thursday, but maybe next winter on a Wednesday if it’s a lunar eclipse, then maybe you two can get together. And really, who’s to blame in this situation – the person who keeps throwing out never-ending dates or you, constantly sidestepping and never addressing?

Are we cowards, or are we apathetics? Or worse, are we apathetic cowards? Too timid to say “I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU ROMANTICALLY” (though it’s all caps in your head) and too complacent to otherwise run away.

As my friend said about her boo thang: “I just hope he gives up one day.”

So how do you quit someone? I advocate this: For the pursuer, court thrice, then surrender if contact is not made (it is okay to ask once more if they counter-suggest a date). For the pursued: You’re only allowed to be vague on the first asking. Afterward, decline without the embellishments of emojis or “Aw, I’m sorry, that sounds fun!” *rolls eyes* Or better yet, when they next suggest a date, ask if you can invite your parents, best friends, maybe even your boss.

Wait, that may be ambiguous. They might be thinking you’re suggesting a wedding. Well, I guess everything’s ambiguous these days. So let’s just go back to answering their texts only after 11 PM and only being available when we’re bored.

If you’re wondering, my friend went to that pumpkin patch along with her roommates. Godspeed to that breakup.