Category Archives: Personal

Chestnuts are Assholes, but I Love Them Anyway

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? More like, exploding in my oven! Come for the holiday cheer, stay for the junior high humor.

Ahh, chestnuts…the thought of them probably conjures up something like this, am I right?

Relaxing by the hearth as the rich aroma of roasted nuts fills your nostrils, wrapped in a fleece blanket, sipping decadent hot cocoa, basking in the warm glow of Christmas tree lights…

To most of us, especially here in the US, chestnuts are a holiday abstraction. This classic Christmas song brings comfort and joy during a period as the nights get longer and colder, when all you desire is to stuff your face and hibernate.

The true story of chestnuts is anything but warm and fuzzy. The reality is sharp and painful. In fact, chestnuts are assholes. They grow inside prickly nut-sacks that hurt like hell if you accidentally step on one. They also bloom ugly, stringy “flowers” during the hottest days of summer which smell like death. Not to mention, chestnut trees spew metric tons of leaves in the yard and into the gutters.

Chestnuts grow inside spiky green balls. They usually drop their nuts in September, hee hee ūüôā

However, life has not been easy for the American chestnut tree. In the early 20th century, there were over 4 billion chestnut trees growing in the states, according to the American Chestnut Foundation. Aside from everyone and their squirrel trying to get a piece of DEEZ NUTS, some douchebag brought a fungal disease called the “Chestnut Blight” from Asia in the early 20th century. This invasive pathogen wiped out nearly all the trees by the mid-century. The American Chestnut tree is now considered “functionally extinct.” Most species of chestnuts that grow here are of the Asian or European variety.

The famed “Christmas Song” was written in 1946, inspired by experiences my grandparents had of harvesting and roasting chestnuts. Yet for us Millennials, our only exposure to chestnuts is a Chestnut Praline latte from Starbucks (better than the Pumpkin Spice, in my opinion). So when I moved into my new house around Christmas of 2016, I unwittingly picked up a spiny bastard hidden in a pile of leaves with my bare hands while cleaning my yard, and it freaking HURT, man! I wanted to know what the hell kind of tree was dropping these God-forsaken things on my property.

After pounding “tree that grows weaponized tennis balls” into Google, I realized I had encountered a chestnut tree. It actually grows in my neighbor’s yard, but half the tree canopy extends onto our property and turns my backyard into a minefield. I had second thoughts about taking a chainsaw to my neighbor’s tree. If I could, in fact, eat them, perhaps having to fill three large garbage cans of spiny bastards every fall would be worth it…

However, not all chestnuts are edible. I needed to ensure that the chestnuts that grew in my yard were not poisonous. There are several species of chestnut-like plants which, if eaten raw, could cause ” vomiting, diarrhea, inflammation of mucous membranes, fever, stupor, muscle weakness and twitching, hemolysis, and respiratory paralysis” according this report in the FDA’s Poisonous Plants database.

Don’t eat these fake-azz nuts unless you want to spend copious amounts of time on the toilet
Actual chestnuts harvested from my yard.

The following September (2017), I decided I would harvest the chestnuts as a consolation prize for the pain and suffering caused by their spiny casings. I knew nothing about cooking or harvesting chestnuts. I figured I would just pick a few that fell on the ground and store them in a glass jar in the kitchen until the holiday season because who wants to roast chestnuts on an open fire when it’s 85 degrees outside?

Well, I learned the hard way that chestnuts actually rot if they are not stored in the fridge. They also like a bit of moisture while storing, so they do well in a Zip-Loc bag. Read more on how to store chestnuts.

Aside from the nuts shriveling up like an old man’s balls, I encountered a scene straight out of a cheesy creature horror film. At the bottom of the glass jar were piles of these maggot-like things writhing about. I was terrified I had flies in my kitchen and they were breeding inside the chestnuts.

After fumigating the kitchen and Googling the nightmare I just witnessed, I realized one of the nuts I picked up was infested by a creature known as a “chestnut weevil.” There are apparently other kinds of “nut weevils” out there, but their modus operandi is the similar: Lay eggs inside the spiny maturing nuts, which hatch grubs that bore out of the nut and they grow into adult pests over the winter and spring, only to repeat the cycle.

The lesson I learned was to, again, not let the nuts sit for too long. Usually baking them in the oven will kill the bastards before they have a chance to hatch. This meant that the nuts I had gathered that year were no bueno, so I had to wait until the following year to attempt a chestnut harvest.

My living nightmare

Adult chestnut weevils busting a nut before busting a nut

September 2018 comes. I store my chestnuts in the fridge and plan to cook them soon after harvest, whether it still feels like summer or not. I throw away any soft nuts or nuts with holes in them. Now, the only thing to do is learn how to roast them.

I had no aspirations to be an accidental arsonist, so I turned to Google once again to discover you can indeed roast them in the oven. I followed these instructions. It is very important to cut a deep “x” in the nut so the pressure does not cause it to explode while it roasts. Kind of like a baked potato, except chestnuts have a hard-ass outer shell that requires a sharp knife to score. I may or may not have sliced my finger open preparing these things…

I put the chestnuts in oven, keeping a diligent eye on them. The kitchen starts to smell AMAZING. I understand why there are songs written about this. Despite the hot temperatures outside, I am fully engrossed in my Christmas fantasy until…

BOOM!

I peer into the oven. One by one, nuts are exploding. Shotgun sounds permeate my kitchen. Nut-meat is blasted all over the place and crusting the inside of my oven. The sweet, homey aroma turns into the acrid smell of burnt popcorn. I turn off the oven and abort mission. I was only able to salvage a few, but damn were they tasty!! Cleaning the oven afterwards, was NOT fun.

The few. The proud. The tasty.

This fall rolls around, and I learn my lesson once again. I cut deeper scores into the chestnuts (and into my fingers). I watch them like a hawk and pull any nuts out that looks like they will explode. I was able to enjoy many more chestnuts this year, and hope to be even better and more efficient at cooking and shelling them next year.

I’ve injured myself a lot for the sake of this treat. I’m not going to lie, Mother Nature makes me WORK for this! As painful as it’s been, there is something incredible about discovering a food source in the backyard that is not readily available in the mainstream grocery store. As more chestnut trees continue to re-populate here in the US, I wonder how many people have something growing in their yard and miss out because they weren’t just a little bit curious about…DEEZ NUTS!!!

Adventures in SCUBA diving

A few years ago, my dad decided to learn how to SCUBA dive. So when he and my stepmother went down to a Sandals resort for a few days, he got his Open Water certification, and has been obsessed with the underwater world ever since. He has expanded his dive training to explore deeper waters, underwater wrecks, and exotic coral reefs.

It pleases me to see my dad find something he is so passionate about, and to have courage to try something new. However, SCUBA is a very social activity – it is not something you do alone. Unfortunately, few people have the courage, money, or time to invest in it. So, he’s emphatically suggested in nearly every conversation I have with him that my brother and I get SCUBA certified, in hopes we’ll enjoy it as much as he does.

Over the Martin Luther King day weekend, my brother and I decided to “take the plunge” and go to Key Largo to get certified. My dad suggested a dive shop that offers a two day class to get the certification, provided you take the coursework beforehand. I could totally swing two days over a long weekend and miss as little work as possible.¬†My brother had already taken the swimming pool portion, so he at least had some idea as to what he was getting into. I, on the other hand, had not been in any water other than a shower for over a year.

Before the trip, I envisioned calmly swimming in clear, tropical waters. I would easily master all the skills required — the online class made it look so easy and fun! And after the two days, I would beam proudly with my dad in a photo showing off my newly minted certificate. I’d post it on social media, get tons of likes, and people would think my life was amaze-balls.

Well, that didn’t happen…

Continue reading… →

Cruising the Caribbean Like a Boss

My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary earlier this month. April¬†is also a milestone birthday for him, so I decided that we should do something more substantial than the classic dinner out and eating cake encrusted in a¬†year’s worth of frosting, we decided to take a cruise.

A view of Cuba at sunrise
A view of Cuba at sunrise

This was my fourth cruise, but a first for my husband. Since we were not sure how he would like it, we found a 5 day Western Caribbean voyage, leaving from Fort Lauderdale and stopping in Belize City and Cozumel. It was perfect…just long enough to really feel like we got away, but not too long in case hubby hated it. With some Dramamine and tips from this “veteran” cruiser, he did just fine and enjoyed himself. Plus, we were on a very large ship (approx. 4,000 pasengers and 1,500 crew).

When it’s your first cruise, there are always things you have to get used to. Despite having gone on several cruises, there are always things you forget about or learn.

First, you wait in line…a lot.¬†It takes about 1 hour from the time you arrive at port until you set foot on the ship to get processed. Then, it takes about the same time to get off the ship. Frequent cruisers or those who book suites can bypass some of the lines.

Once you board, you will realize that there are bars everywhere. Seriously, it’s like Starbucks in D.C. While your food is included, the drinks are not, and the drinks are expensive (unless you get the drink packages, which are only economical if you plan to drink more than 5 drinks a day). We learned that¬†for a 7 day cruise, they sell about 10,000 beers. Which means, on average, each passenger has about 1.5 brewskies a day. Plus Lord¬†knows how many tropical drinks and wine…

Cacao plant at the Mayan Cacao Company, where we learned how chocolate was made by the ancient Mayans (they use a lot less sugar :-) )
Cacao plant at the Mayan Cacao Company, where we learned how chocolate was made by the ancient Mayans (they use a lot less sugar ūüôā )

Speaking of food, there is a lot of it. If you love to eat, this is the way to travel. There is so much food aboard the ship that you wonder where they put it all. A lot of the food is locally sourced, since cruise ships are often in the tropics and in the seas where fresh produce and seafood abound. There was a pizza parlor on the ship that was open from lunch time until 3 AM. Ironically, college kids and pot smokers are not the typical cruise clientele.

To prevent the spread of viruses, there are about 2 hand-sanitizing stations for every¬†bar. So, this is important. There are crew¬†who stand outside each dining room to make sure you “washy washy.” Just a little bit of Purell is better than spending your cruise with noro-virus.

There are lots of duty-free and souvenir shops on cruise ships, so people often stock up on cigarettes, perfume, alcohol, and rum cake. Since ours was one of the larger vessels, it had a “promenade” with stores and restaurants in the center of the ship. Generally, you don’t really save a ton on duty-free, but the best time to get deals on souvenirs¬†is on the last 2 days, where they are trying to get rid of everything.

Mayan Ruins in Cozumel
Mayan Ruins in Cozumel

The cruise line also will have several excursions you can book. There will also be¬†excursions you can book at the port of call that are cheaper. However, some of these can be dodgy. Also, if you book through the cruise line and your tour is late, then the ship will not leave without you. On our recent cruise, we took a riverboat tour on the Belize river to view wildlife. Well, the boat was supposed to leave at 4:00 PM and we missed our last ferry back to the cruise ship. Thankfully, they didn’t forget about us and they were able to send a ferry for us.

The cruise line may stop at a “private island.” These are anything but private. In fact, if 3 ships arrive and dump 3,000 passengers a piece on four square miles of land (of which a fraction is habitable), well…you get the drift.

I definitely recommend taking advantage of the port of calls when you arrive, even if it is just walking around the port city and exploring. I don’t recommend the city tours since they cost around $60 a person, plus I prefer being self-guided and not prodded to shop at the cruise line’s “recommended” stores.

A Margay taking an afternoon nap at the Belize Zoo
A Margay taking an afternoon nap at the Belize Zoo

On¬†the days where we were not at a port of call, we did several of the ship’s on-board activities. We went to most of the evening shows. The comedy shows and the play production were our favorites. On our last day, we also did Big Bang Theory trivia and took a quick dance lesson, where we learned how to cha-cha. Ironically, we learned that we are not the most die-hard Big Bang Theory fans out there, and we can do a ballroom dance without tripping over each other. Also, they will have dance parties and activities well after midnight. Though we were so wiped out from the excursions that we ended up going to bed on the early side. Meanwhile, all the Boomer cruisers were partying hard at the midnight 70’s dance party.

It was a fun time. Cruises are an easy way to travel. While the initial cost is relatively cheap, the extras can add up quite a bit. On average, usually budget for 50% of your cruise fare for these add-ons. I know a lot of people are interested in cruising, but have hesitations, usually with regards to seasickness. You’ll hardly feel the boat moving, but you do feel it more on the upper decks. You may also feel a bit of “phantom” rocking¬†a couple days after the cruise, but it goes away.

iguana2
There are all kinds of species of iguana in the Caribbean. Our tour guide spotted this dragon-like beauty up in the trees while traveling on the Belize river.

Please feel free to add in the comments any additional tips that might help future and first-time cruisers. And I hope you enjoyed the photos, taken with my new Canon Rebel. Additional photos will be added on the Photos page.

New Year, New Name, New Look!

I admit, I have been quite negligent in keeping this blog updated. Shamefully, there are no posts for 2015! However, the past year has been a busy and life-changing year for me.

To start, I married a wonderful man. The wedding was amazing, the photos are beautiful, and everyone behaved themselves (for the most part). Though the planning periods leading up to it have been stressful (hint: hire a wedding coordinator). After an unforgettable honeymoon in Puerto Rico, we started settling into our¬†new place. Consolidating two former households worth of stuff, two families – along with trying to get adjusted to each others’ habits – has been an adventure. When asked what has been the most challenging part of married life, my answer is…the name change! Seriously, I am not kidding. It is a long and painful process. I am still having to find out where my maiden name is cropping up where it shouldn’t.

I realized that one of the places my old name was referenced was here on Novataire. But rather than tweaking and being done with it, I decided it is time to re-brand! Novataire has had the same look for around 4 years now, and honestly…it was bit¬†dark. While I will always treasure¬†the cosmos and far away planets and luna moths, I wanted to go with a brighter theme that reflects my love of birds, owls, and nature.

Please bear with me regarding any stylistic changes in the coming days to this site. Also, I have more artwork and photos to post (just got an amazing new SLR camera!).

The Novataire Bi-Annual (Winter/Spring 2014)

Wow, has it been 6 months already?? Guess it’s time for the bi-annual update. This year has gone by remarkably fast, and a lot has happened. Some new art and photos have been posted.

The biggest major news is that I got engaged!! The love of my life proposed Feb 22, 2014 after a lovely and unseasonably warm day at the Smithsonian National Zoo, which was where we went on our first date just a year and change ago. After a week of being on Cloud Nine and the surreal-ness of it all, I have been getting down to brass tacks navigating the murky waters of¬†wedding planning. I’ve come to the conclusion that wedding planning is a lesson in learned helplessness. Like Seligman’s poor dogs, no matter which side of the fence I¬†jump on, I¬†get shocked. For my perfectionist self, I have to take some time to breathe and just accept that things will go wrong…and I will hurt someone’s feelings (hopefully not irreparably ^^;;).

In case you’re wondering about a date, we’re getting married early April of next year. Hopefully it won’t be TOO cold up here…

On the professional front, I’m taking on more initiatives in the Special Libraries Association. I’m now chairing the Employment & Career Resources Committee for the DC Chapter. During this time, I have asked more than my fair share of stupid questions…as it’s my first time chairing a committee. We just wrapped up our first event of the year…Speed Networking. It’s like speed dating, but only slightly less awkward since you are meeting people on a purely professional level ;-). Shout out to my colleague Angela for her awesome write-up on the SLA Blog!

Time is approaching fast for the SLA Annual Conference in Vancouver. After meeting a dear Canadian friend, I head to the conference festivities and exhibit hall, where many free pens and vendor swag await. I will be co-presenting on my topic – learning management systems – on June 9. About a month ago, we found out we had 90 min instead of 60 (wow, they must really love us, haha)! Well, to not bore our audience with straight talking, my co-presenter and I decided last month to do a more informal panel discussion, so I have had to do some last-minute work on what I thought were my perfected slides…which I completed back in, like, January. When you are getting your first speaking opportunity¬†at a national conference, you tend to get a little over-eager…not to mention¬†SUPER¬†excited to display my speaker badge!!!

My next post will cover my experience in Vancouver, as well as at the conference. This will be my second BIG conference…the first being the ALA conference that I attended a few years ago. Hopefully I will take to heart my lessons learned.

Where Do We Go From Here?

In case anyone actually reads this thing, I realize it has been months since I have posted. I am still trying to figure out what exactly I want to do with this site, where I want it to go, how I want to brand it, etc. It’s so hard for me to come up with stuff that is worth writing about. Frankly, a lot of it is personal and I don’t want to put it all up for the Interweb’s viewing pleasure. Right now, it’s just a web presence.

I want to share and write about so much but do not know where to start. Usually I am very organized, and do not just jump into stuff without a plan. I created this blog in 2010 mainly as a resume booster so I could show potential employers I was knowledgeable about my field, that I could put together a coherent sentence, and so on. However, I do have a vision for this blog. There are so many blogs out there about library science, and I just hate being put into a box and being forced just to write about that. Which is probably why you as the reader may have noticed the later entries have little to do with library science. Not that I will stop writing about the library profession, but expect a wider range of topics.

I switched from cloud hosting on WordPress.com and bought my own domain. Now that I have all of these options I can work with and plug-ins I can install, I feel very overwhelmed. I am one class away from completing my Advanced Web Development certificate, but what I learn in class really does not go far. I really want to do more with experimenting with different themes, but for some reason, I cannot get content to display correctly, despite scouring the CSS and PHP files for any possible reasons. It would probably be obvious to someone who is a pro at this, but I am still learning.

There is so much I want to do, to learn, and to explore. Yet I only have so much time. And when I do have the time, I feel very unmotivated. Trying to get into a creative swing when working a full-time job and wanting to have a social life has not been easy for me. When I do have free time, I usually crave the comforts of my bed :).

Why I Don’t Call You

NOTE: This only applies to personal calls and NOT those of a professional-related nature.

I sometimes receive complaints from friends and family that I never call them. And I admit, I am very guilty of this. I need to be better about being in touch. However, here is my answer to that oft-asked question that I hope will unveil the mystery, and may provide some insight for others who have introverted friends who are not real keen on the phone. (Hint: at least 25% or more of the population is introverted, and about 100% of us hate using the phone.) However, please be reassured that it is nothing personal, it does not mean I don’t like you, it does not mean I don’t want to spend time with you.

Aside from the 10 reasons listed in this comic from The Oatmeal, are 5 blunt and honest reasons why I do not call you:

1) I am too tired to deal with the phone. My day starts at 7:30, and while that is not that early, I am NOT a morning person. Sure, you may say you are not a morning person, but I am REALLY not a morning person. I function best between 8:30 PM and 1 AM. Of course, that is not conducive to my work schedule, so I am often extraordinarily fatigued during the week. Between dealing with people and projects at work, dealing with a crowded metro where I get no phone service, getting my gym workout in, I do not even get home til 8:00 PM. And by then I am tired and hungry because I have not had dinner yet, and neither have the cats. And I need a shower. But to get a functional level of sleep, I need to be in bed by 11 PM, which does not give me a lot of time to myself to recharge so I am not coming to work a brain-dead zombie.

2) I am much better at communicating in email, text, Facebook, or Instant Messaging, especially at work. I communicate much better in writing, and I tend to fumble my words when I talk. I also get more of a response when I text or email, which is why I have a much better time communicating using those mediums. But still, it is hard to get hold of people, and they can never get hold of me.

I am not the only one with the busy schedule. Everyone is busy. I have very good friends who never, ever answer their phones, and as a consequence, I never, ever call them. Am I guilty about not being near my phone 24/7? Absolutely, and no one should be expected to wait around for my call. And even if you do answer, the chances that you will be available to meet up for coffee, lunch, whatever at a time when our schedules both permit is so low it almost does not seem worth it. This gets especially worse as friends get married and have kids. By then, there is no point in even trying to call them…

Today, someone who is “good” about answering their phone picks up about 50% of the time. If you are one of those people, you have a 50% higher likelihood that I will actually call from time to time. However, that still leaves a good chance that you will not be available, so I make my assumption that you are busy, which brings me to my third point…

3) I ahbor voicemail. Nothing is more painful than getting some message that the person is “unavailable right now” (aka has more important things to do than talk to you), and then having to turn around and blabber and fumble around awkwardly leaving some message about why I called and whether it is really necessary to have you return my call, thus trying to walk that thin tightrope between blunt curtness and pitiful, irrelevant rambling. So, if I know there is a 50% or more chance I have to deal with the relegation and torture of leaving a voicemail, logic prefers me to not even bother picking up the phone. So I don’t.

4) If I have not spoken to you in a while, I actually want to have a real conversation that lasts more than 5 minutes. I actually want to call you and catch up, but I want more than 5 minutes quality time talking to you. And chances are, you do not have it. However, I know that I cannot get that because we are both very, extremely busy. And I want to call and potentially schedule a time to talk more, but then again, I have to risk the pain of the voicemail. Which loops me back into not wanting to pick up the phone in the first place, unless I need to speak with you urgently.

5) P.S. I really hate it when people use songs instead of the default ring. Because it seems all I ever hear when I am waiting for an answer (or the inevitable voicemail) is some crappy pop like Katy Perry or Nickelback.

So, in sum, I do not call you because neither of us can often reach that sweet spot where the planets align and we can answer our phones, and I find voicemail to be akin to being stabbed in the heart and twisting the knife. Of course, if we are not able to meet in person and the phone is the only want to chat, then it works best to schedule a time to chat that works for both schedules, so no one has to deal with the pain of unrequited phone answering.

New Look, New Job

I am really liking this Clean Home theme!

Since I am too cheap to pay for CSS editing ;), this theme allows customizable colors, background AND header! And it just has a much nicer, larger, and more readable text than my previous theme. The background image used is courtesy of WebTreats. They have a great Flickr gallery of icons, Photoshop patterns, etc.

In other news, and the reason for the lack of posting, is that I have secured a new professional position. I have been working in my new job a little over a month now. And, like many of us in the library field, I relocated so that I could take it. I am very thankful. Moving is very, very tough, and it was not particularly easy, but I definitely think it was worth it. And I have a great apartment in a great location :D.

The job is right in downtown Washington, DC, and I am working for a huge, international law firm with a variety of different practice groups. I do a lot of different aspects in this position, but my overarching theme is utilizing technology to assist the attorneys with their law practices and client development. I am getting some great experience and skills in this position, and I have always liked the DC area. There is a lot more variety here, and it’s a good place to start my career (FINALLY!).

I am eternally grateful that I was able to find something relatively quickly after graduation. I figured I would be searching and searching for months…especially with my lack of direct library experience. However, this job was a good fit for me and for my supervisor, as she was looking for someone who had my unique combination of random skills (legal experience, comfort with technology). So, even if you have a hodge-podge of skills, eventually, there is a place for you! :p

College and the Millenials Who Never Really Left It

Although I am ashamed to admit it, one of my favorite sites is http://www.collegehumor.com.¬† I cannot begin to tally the countless hours I have wasted on this site…watching funny videos, reading articles about Facebook fails, sexual frustration, and second adolescence. However, I am 27 years old…and now 5 years out of college! Yet why does this site seem to pinpoint and satire so accurately the intricacies and nostalgia for those of us who graduated college in 2003 – 2009? After all, for the most part, we are all pretty well out of college.

Take a look at some of the videos:

The Roast of 8-bit Mario

If Games had Super-Easy Mode

DuckTales Theme Gone Horribly Wrong

One thing that baffles me is that most kids who are in college today were either not even born to remember the glory of growing up with just an NES. Or the excitement about the Game Genie and the Contra cheat code. Some of this audience may be too young to remember DuckTakes…at least the incoming freshman.

A lot of articles in recent years have mentioned this strange trait of my generation, The Millenials (or Gen Y): We just don’t grow up as fast, but why should we?¬†I look back on my parents. They married at 22, bought a house, got their careers and the kids by their early 30’s. And now, they are divorced. Many of my young friends today have divorced for the same bottom-line reason: they thought they had figured out “what they want to be when they grow up”…but then they changed. The 20’s is a time of spiritual and value shifts, and nebulousness about the future.¬†We got mixed messages from our parents: “you are special and can do whatever you want. ¬†College is for fun! Worry about the career later” …but then look perplexed when you want to go to art school. They tell us “life it short, you are young”…but then turn around and ask why at 25 we are not married and have no prospects. Just 3 years ago, teaching was the safest job…now many friends who have pursued that career have been laid off, or are competing with applicants in the hundreds. Who would have thought?

The future of our nation – especially considering these still uncertain times – is frightening. So why ¬†not return to those things that made us happy as kids? During the “bubble”, dot-com success stories, and the Clinton years. To0 bad we were too young to see it coming…

September 11 happened on my first day of classes at college. How ironic. Our country has never been the same since then, and I honestly think we have never recovered.

A large portion of my friends live at home. Not because they are lazy, but because who can afford to live on their own in this economy?

I do live on my own, but I am not going to lie. Money can be very very tight, especially since salaries have not kept up with inflation in the past 10 years, and the college degree is now yesterday’s HS diploma.¬†When I got my first one-bedroom apartment in 2006, I paid $650/month base rent. That same apartment costs around $750 or $800/month today. ¬†This was in Atlanta. If I were 17 today and trying to get into my undergrad institution with the credentials I had in HS, I would have been flat-out rejected.

At 27, I can finally say I my career is finally starting. Thank God. I may never own a house. I may never retire. I may never get married. However, I can say with more certainty that I will never see a dime of social security than I can say that the sky is blue…despite that large sums of money were taken out of my entry-level paycheck to support the voluminous amount of Baby Boomers. Single professionals whose entry level salaries keep them too rich for food stamps, but too poor to own property, are taxed though the nose.

The youngest Millenials are now of voting age. If we are as large as they say we are, then where is our political power?

We don’t bother voting when the candidates don’t give a damn about us. In the past election, all both candidates appealed to the “nuclear family” when referring to the “middle class.” Many of us are not able to get married and start families right now just so we can earn the nest egg to even start a family. Many of us will never make it, more than ever before. So let’s pray that we continue to recover so that our dreams hope for the future are not crushed, and we can become the middle class that drives this country. And that our parents can enjoy the retirement they for which they worked so hard because, let’s face it, these times have hit them just as hard.

For my generation, who has been launched into a constantly morphing, global economy, our definition of the American dream has been modified. Forget the beach house and the fancy vacations when we retire. It is not about the money, but about quality of life and career satisfaction. Money is¬†only¬†¬†important as a way to meet basic needs. And if that means a bit of college humor as we approach our 30’s, then so be it!