Flying Solo

eecdc0ab1d129ddebb5293a5f42cc566The problem with landing in Minneapolis is that it takes everyone a million years to get off the plane. Everyone is too busy being polite and telling others to “go ahead.” I know I’m not exactly ahead of the curve when it comes to globe-trotting (this has just been made obvious by the example of actually using the word “globe-trotting.”) But this past weekend was the first time I had traveled alone. Luckily, my departure from Minneapolis to Boston and then back again didn’t have any complications. Ironically enough, I was seated next to a kid named Danny who was also traveling alone. He sat there in his middle seat, telling me how he thinks seventh grade is going to be “chill” and how much he hates the Yankees. Naturally we bonded. He also had a mohawk that all the flight attendants were giving him shit for, so we crafted some smart-ass responses that we’d never actually say back to them.

My dad travels constantly for work, and he knows the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport like Paula Deen knows bad PR. So we talked over a few things (my dad and me, not Paula Deen and me, ya’ll) before I headed off to my Boston excursion.

1. Don’t worry if you forget to put your liquids into Ziplock bags. Most airports, MSP included, offer plastic bags at security for you.

2. It’s super easy to just get your boarding pass sent to your phone. You don’t have to worry about losing a ticket, and that smartphone is glued to your hand anyway. (The security line is also usually faster if you do it this way.)

3. If someone is picking you up from the airport (and you only have carry-on luggage), meet them at the departure doors instead of around baggage claim/arrivals. There isn’t nearly as much traffic, and you’ll get out of the airport way quicker.

4. Ninety minutes is usually a good amount of time to be at the airport before your flight is scheduled to take off. Having too much time to sit at your gate leads you to linger over the magazines, and you begin to truly contemplate if that is the best bikini for your body, or you find yourself taking a stance on sexting after you were enlightened by a Cosmo quiz.

5. Remember your phone charger. Remember your phone charger. Remember your phone charger. Dude. Seriously.

I know a lot of this isn’t going to be new information to you guys. But wanna know something else I learned at the airport? There are a lot of slow-moving (both mentally and physically) people at the airport. Many of them are so enamored with the fact that there’s something called Chili’s Too that they can’t see the traffic jam they’re causing. There are people chasing their kids – who you’re praying you don’t get sat next to on the plane – and bribing them with Frosty and Subway sandwiches that cost 11 percent more than they do anywhere else. Babies are riding suitcases like they’re horses and businessmen are cutting you in line at Starbucks because they have much more important things to attend than you. Being in an airport is like being in a sub-culture. There are ways you act and ways you do not; some things make the cut and some do not. Help everybody out and be aware of your surroundings — that’s the most important part about being in any setting by yourself.

Monday Make It or Break It: The Final 14

plannerhotoAs terrified as I was about entering post-grad life jobless, I’ve come to appreciate how great internship programs can be. I haven’t completely signed the rest of my life away, but I’ve gotten some awesome real-world experience and enough money to fuel my car (or at least my coffee addiction.) The tricky part about internships is knowing that they have an end date. Like many of my friends, we’re all on a 12-week summer internship program, which means a lot of us are wrapping up this week or next. With two weeks (okay, 13 days but who’s counting?) ahead of me, the number seems both daunting and minuscule.

The only time two weeks seems like eternity is when they’re leading up to spring break. But now, two weeks also seems like it may be a while — until I think about everything I have to do within those two weeks. Though you know there’s an end to your internship, project, work-experience, whatever it may be, that doesn’t mean you should act like it. This company has hired you for a specific amount of time with the understanding you’ll be doing a specific task or amount of work. Even if you’re weeks ahead of your project or assignment (even though you tried your hardest to procrastinate like there is a tomorrow), ask around your department and see who else needs help. Your days will go much faster if you’re working on actual tasks. A girl can only be consumed by Pinterest for so many hours, AMIRIGHT?

So on that note, here are a few ways you can either make or break the final days of your internship. Breaking It may include but is not limited to the following:

1. Decorating your desk with those construction paper chain-links that symbolize how many days you have left

2. Showing up to work at a casual 9 a.m.

3. Texting during work like your fingers are falling off tomorrow

4. Taking awkwardly long walks around the office building

5. Frantically downloading Ryan Gosling “hey girl” PDFs

6. Running a side-business out of your office

And a few ways you can make it:

1. Be helpful! Ask anyone, even if it’s the receptionist or the shipping manager, if they need help with something.

2. Organize or clean around your desk so it looks better than you did after a fraternity formal

3. Think about what you’d like to include in thank you cards to your manager, mentor, etc.

4. Stay hydrated – it will help you keep your focus longer

5. Bring coffee or muffins in for your department one morning (grown-ups love that shit)

6. Set up meetings with other people in your office. People love talking about what they do, and you’ll gain some real-world insight.

Nine Hour Days are the New Black (Out)

267308_10150245101280912_5157441_nThere are days I get home from work where I can hardly remember what happened. The day flew by because I was going a million miles an hour. While this can seem like an awesome thing, it could also be a sign to slow down – similar to how you go from being sober, sober, sober, black out in 60 minutes. Nothing good is going to come from it. Pump the breaks. You should be able to get home from work and tell somebody what you spent the last nine hours accomplishing.

Whether by fate or choice, there are hours (days, weekends?) that we cannot remember from college. We wake up and vow to never drink again. And then the Gatorade and McDonald’s breakfast kick in, and suddenly – playing a game of bags in the sweltering heat becomes the greatest idea. So we traipse out to the college version of the Coliseum and fight to a bean-bagged death. Not wanting to offset the gravitational pull of the universe, we make sure to have the appropriate counterweight (it’s usually about 12 ounces) in order to gain the best possible outcome. This continues on for the next couple of hours and before we know it, we’re back at square one. How can a few beers during the afternoon turn into a missing puzzle piece-inspired life by morning? Hard work and determination. That’s how.

Ironically enough, we can muster up all the strength we devoted to obnoxious (yet endearing) party marathons – Beer Olympics, VEISHEA, Mifflin, Spring Jam, game days (most notably the awkward 2:30 p.m. game where your  liver suffers commitment issues) – you name it, we were there. We didn’t notice the tumultuous travel we took our bodies through because we were hell-bent on succeeding and coming out on top. Throwing this mentality at the professional world is a stretch – and most definitely inappropriate – but it’s also something we can relate to. We would applaud each other for outstanding efforts in focus and flexibility, and then we’d recap it again the next morning. Gradually, photos from the weekend’s events would show up on Facebook. And while we claimed to hate the girls who uploaded pics from the weekend with captions they stole from The Beatles, we know that they really did get by with help from their friends. We know they wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for their friends. They’d probably be lost in a Hobby Lobby or an unfinished bar basement. And the same is true of people you work with. Without acknowledging the fact you may need some help from time to time, you may never get your projects – or yourself – to full potential.

Also keep in mind that while everyone likes reminding you of the craziness you ensued over the weekend, it’s quickly forgotten and there are usually some apologies or tabs that need to be paid. Growing up isn’t the easiest thing for me either, but something that can be learned quickly out of college is that it’s okay to give up excessive drinks for a few nights in order to feel and do better the next day.

Just remember to slow it down while you’re at work. We’re in an office for the rest of our lives anyway, right? (Sorry for the spoiler alert.) Do your work promptly, but not sloppy. Save that for trips back to college bars.

Monday Make It or Break It: Making a Name for Yourself

167754970-1982159809787308By now it’s old news that Princess Kate had her baby. (Yay, a boy!) My future 40-year-old self marrying an 18-year-old isn’t that creepy. But the news we haven’t yet heard is a name. Having been stuck with a rather unusual name, I spent most of my childhood years wanting a new one. I wanted to be just like everyone else. I figured the world was out to get me and my weird name, until more unusual names starting popping up – Apple, Timber, Blanket, North… these parents know they’re setting their children up for some serious paralyzing self-doubt, right? North West is never going to know which way she’s going.

The truth is that we now all have the chance to reinvent our name in the sense of self-branding. I feel like that term got thrown at us a lot in school – “what’s your personal brand?” And instead of actually thinking about it, we probably just tweeted about what a waste of time it was. But I think that’s because many of us (myself included) were still working on figuring out who we were in college. I’m not saying I have my life together and everything’s figured out (I literally don’t know where I’m going to be living three weeks from now) BUT after spending a few months in the real world, I’ve started to get a sense of what “branding yourself” actually means.

Look at this way – would you rather be introduced as, “This is North West. She’s great,” or, “This is North West. She’s driven.” ‘Great’ and ‘driven’ aren’t necessarily synonymous, but the second intro gives you more cred, you know, the street kind. In this case, North West clearly, yet ironically, values direction along with a sense of motivation. So even if you are the intern who everyone might not know yet, you can at least make them know something about you. The people around you are smart enough to realize if you’re organized, relentless, risky or a ceaseless-texter-during-meetings.

I doubt someone is going to come up to you and ask, “Hey man. What’s your personal brand?” Nobody talks like that. But you are going to get asked what you’re good at. And if you don’t have an answer, they probably won’t ask again. Maybe look to your friends as a good starting place – where do you fall in that group? The social planner, the mom, the partier, the problem resolver – each has its place. Royal Baby might only be able to brand himself as royal. North West might only be able to brand herself as hopeless. Be realistic about the name you can make for yourself. “Frickin’ awesome” may or may not be a good place to start.

The Hills: a post-grad’s harsh realization

51KSbEqzgVL._SX500_It was enough of a devastation to accept that I would never look great as a blonde or be able to wear a choker necklace without judgment. My obsession (don’t lie – you had one too) with Laguna Beach and The Hills muddled my mind with what I thought post-grad life was going to be. It wasn’t until Retro MTV that I realized Lauren Conrad’s real life was not real life. Day dreaming of living in a pseudo-real-life show with my best friends got me through most of it until admitting “The Prairie” or “The Cornfields” didn’t have the same ring as “The Hills.” (We were probably all born to be reality stars. We were just born in the wrong place.)

But in what world – no matter the landscape – can a girl move to Los Angeles, without a college degree or job experience, and live in an apartment that has enough space to walk around in? The conclusion that wasn’t so obvious while we were in high school: she can’t. MTV succeeded in creating this image of real life and making us attune to all of life’s PGPs –  what to do when you run out of tanning oil, how to make it look like you’re working at Bolthouse, how to cry black tears, and how to (not) choose a trip to Paris over your cheating, brooding boyfriend. This is what post-grad life is all about.

In reality (the real kind, not the kind where you go to restaurants and only order water) post-grad life is a combination of the best and worst things in the world. You’re away from your college friends but get to make new ones. You work every day, but you don’t have homework. Drinks are more expensive, but you’re making way better money. It’s a constant give and take, which never seemed to manifest itself in The Hills. So, while the show is a great escape for an hour or two, take pride in the fact that you’re doing more with your life than dating boys with greasy hair. Obviously we’ve gotta tip our paper crowns to Lauren Conrad for making a name for herself in the fashion industry. But we can all agree it took quite a few left turns to get her there. Her (seemingly few) mistakes were some of the most real things about her. And look where they got her – right where she wanted. There’s a lot to be said for learning from mistakes. Life may not be as easy as it was during the days when a mini jean skirt and powder blue Uggs were an acceptable outfit. But for every con about post-grad life, I guarantee you can find a pro. Too bad most of those girls missed out on that reality.

Okay, we know you have AT LEAST one. Admit it.

Monday Make It or Break It: Happy Hour

how_i_met_your_mother_1It’s early afternoon on a Monday so naturally we’re thinking about when we can have a glass of wine. A great aspect of adult life that coincides with college life is how willing people are to socialize amid drinks. I think it’s natural for people to feel a need to enjoy a cocktail, especially after a hard day’s work. The difference now is that instead of rewarding ourselves with our own pitcher of beer for not texting exes over the weekend, we’re sipping  due to “getting our ducks in a row” or “bringing home the bacon.” Or whatever.

I can’t speak for every college student, but I can speak for myself and my friends in saying we were no strangers to the bars on week(days)nights, and we went out to enjoy each other’s company over a drink that tasted better than milk. The same concept is true in our post-grad realm: people want to spend time with other people, talking about work, family or anything else they deem important during an hour that is supposedly happier than all the others. But drinking with co-workers is different than drinking with friends. The reaction you get after taking three shots for your hole-in-one on Golden Tee or perfect sites on Big Buck Hunter may not be the same you’d get from your college buddies. Though undoubtedly impressive feats, you might want to put it in perspective. I went to a happy hour hosted by my boss’s boss, who was celebrating the acquisition of a multi-million dollar company… like, I get excited finding $20 in my purse. Needless to say, my critter bonus slowly crept down the importance slope.

The good news is that there are a few quick guidelines to help you make it instead of break it. We do not want you to be the new employee who gets overly happy over an hour.

1. Just because you’re out with co-workers or someone higher in the chain of command, don’t expect them to buy your drinks. Even if it’s been communicated that drinks will be paid for by someone else, it’s always kind to offer.

2. Order a drink you know you like. It’s always great to try new things when you’re out with friends, but you might have a weird reaction to martinis. An evening out with your boss is not the place to discover that martinis make you walk like John Cleese.

3. Keep a drinking pace. You could argue that you’re used to the pace of a beer bong, but where has that left you? (Probably still lost in South Padre from spring break.) Be aware of others around you, and keep on the same level they are. It might even be a good idea to stay one drink back if you’re conversing with important people. Your call.

4. Don’t get freaked out if happy hour literally only lasts for one hour (or less.) Though social drinking is something that starts in college and carries through professional life (more commonly known as eternity), the time spent drinking may decrease. While some of us may be used to nine-day benders, know that it is okay – and way more normal – to have one drink and be done.

5. Offer to organize the next happy hour. It shows both initiative and that you can be fun. Choose a place you’ve been to before. Nobody wants to be led blindly to a skeezy bar that was once a pet store.

Budgeting: it’s a thing

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I hope it’s been a hard-working week! Here’s a quick read about a great way to start managing your finances.

In college I could justify spending $7 on a pitcher of Blue Moon, but I would never spend $7 on a movie ticket. I’d drop $20 on mug night and cheese balls but never on a manicure. I’d pick and choose what was important to me to spend money on — budgeting now is essentially the same idea. We can create different pockets of spending based on where we know our money will go. For example, I know I should budget out more money for gas than groceries because gas is where a lot of my paycheck goes. Budgeting is not a new concept, but the avenues to help you with it have changed. Let me introduce you to mint.com.

Mint.com gives you total visibility of your financial accounts. You decide your own budgets (for things like rent, gas, restaurants, booze, clothes, etc.) and because it’s linked with your bank, the site gives you graphs of how your funds are doing in each of those accounts you’ve budgeted. It’s free to sign up, and I love that the app gives me reminders of when bills are due or if I’m getting close to over-spending in a certain area. This system is much easier to check out on your own than to write or read about, so I encourage you to sign up! It might not solve all of your financial problems, but it’s an awesome start for anyone who’s wondering how to budget the money you do (or don’t) have.

Happy Friday, everybody! Hope you enjoy your weekend spending both money and time with what makes you happiest. I know I will be!

Dear Potato Skins, I hate you. xoxo, Garbage Disposal

When fixing a garbage disposal:

1. Stick your hand down the drain. If it doesn’t come back up with anything, the problem is deeper. If it doesn’t come back up at all, then you’re kinda screwed.

2. Listen to the sound the garbage disposal is making. Be able to mimic this sound. (You’ll need it for when you call your dad later.)

3. Call your dad.

4. If you disposed excess of a product (like we did with potatoes), there’s a good chance it’s stuck in the pipes. Place a bucket underneath the u-shaped pipe.

5. Unlatch the u-shaped pipe.

6. Most of the content should empty in the bucket. You might need to do some digging otherwise. (Gross, but true.) Make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves!

7. After all contents/food has been emptied into the bucket, reattach the u-shaped pipe.

8. Toss the bucket somewhere. I don’t care where.  Just not down your sink again.

9. Soak up any water from the pipes, especially if you have wooden cabinets/cupboards around your sink.

10. Wash your hands.

The story:

Ah, adventures in home owning. My older sister Elyse and I put together a spectacular meal last night. But joyful weeping over the fact that we made garlic mashed potatoes that tasted just like Dad’s soon ended during the clean-up hour. How was I – a non-assuming, non-cooking, Noodles & Co. and Chipotle connoisseur – supposed to know the cardinal rule of kitchen amenities, ergo, garbage disposals? Garbage disposals hate potato skins. Now so do I.

Elyse and I (and by that I mean Elyse) got down on hands and knees to check out what was going on underneath the sink. We (and by we I mean our dad whom we texted in panic) determined we would need to unlatch the u-shaped pipe from the sink and empty the potato skins out into a bucket (and by bucket I mean a hot pink mixing bowl.)

Well. He was right.

There they were – swimming and sloshing around in what looked like an over-served party girl’s worst college memories. The unlatching, emptying and re-latching of the garbage disposal was about a 30-minute event.* After vowing to never make plumbing a profession, Elyse and I made sure to wipe up any liquid that found its way onto the wood cabinet – wet wood will come back to haunt you.

So what can you take away from this? Obvi potato skins aren’t made for garbage disposals (neither is steak – we found that out too.) So if you’ve already tried sticking your hand down the sink’s drain – a tried and true attempt – and have come to no avail, the problem may rest in the pipes.

*Fitz added time, as we had to keep him from sniffing (and by sniffing I mean licking) everything that went into the pink bowl.

Basilica or Bust

N_W_Photo_Block-Party_147A block party held outside of a church sounds more like something our parents would be keen on attending. There’s an entire two days devoted to the Basilica Block Party – an event held every July outside the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. But if you’re fresh to the Twin Cities area or if you don’t listen to Cities97 radio (and therefore don’t know what’s good for you) then you might also be unaware that Basilica is the highlight of the summer for a ton of music-goers.

For the sixth year, Bud Light is one of the sponsors of this outdoor music festival, confirming that this event is more in our wheelhouse than anyone else’s. Who enjoys being outside and drinking a beer with other people more than the recent college grad? It makes us feel at home again. And it’s nice not to drink alone every once in a while. (Hah. Jokes. Kind of.) But in all honesty, I’ve found Basilica to be a great investment. Tickets are available for either this Friday night or Saturday night, or you can purchase both. All three stages are outdoors so you don’t have to worry about seating. And hey, Minnesotans are the nicest people around so you don’t have to worry about being shoved around or shut down when asking for directions to the nearest fried food booth. The crowd you’ll find is a friendly one. Don’t be alarmed if parents or older people are there. These music-goers are attending to enjoy music that’s great to listen to but not the type to start a mosh pit. Basilica is a great in-between-party for someone who’s young but not looking to hang out with college freshmen.

Just to name a few in this year’s lineup: 

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

Mayer Hawthorne (new album out a week from today – score)

Matt Nathanson (featured in Cities97′s Studio C this Friday and new album out a week from today- double score)

Goo Goo Dolls

ZZ Ward

Matchbox Twenty

Walk the Moon (had one of my favorite albums of 2012/band I’m most excited to see perform)

Tickets are a bit on the pricey side for a lot of our budgets, but the friends you can make, beer you will drink, food you will eat and live music you will enjoy are way worth it. The event goes on rain or shine, so the weather-risk factor of purchasing a ticket is non-existent. So if you don’t have plans this weekend, check out Basilica. If you do have plans this weekend, I suggest changing them and attending this all-night music event. The party starts at 5 p.m. Check out their website or #PraiseTheLoud for more info.

Live music. Summer. Outdoors. Beer. Now that’s music to my ears.

Monday Make It or Break It: Awkward Eye Contact

awkward-pics-17-1 (1)Happy Monday, friends. This marks the first of many Mondays where the featured post is a “make it or break it” situation. Today’s topic: awkward eye contact. Let’s be honest. Making direct eye contact with other humans on campus was degrading enough. How dare they look in your direction. How dare they even think they know you. How dare they walk the same path. Those who were courageous enough quickly whipped out their iPhone to pretend text their mom; a discreet cough-into-arm-hiding-your-face trick got the avoidance job done just as well. But now we’re in the workplace, without smart phones attached to our bodies while walking down hallways. What are we left to do?

You guys, I promise it is okay to look at another person. I promise it is okay to smile non-creepily. I promise it is okay to say hello. What’s the worst that can be said about you? “Yeah, that’s that new person who always looks pleasant.” Ouch. Next thing you know, your endorsements on LinkedIn are being taken away, and your Klout score has plummeted. Seriously, prioritize what you worry about. No one is going to think less of you or think you’re weird if you look like a normal human being.

But I get it. I used to be the first to avert my eyes from anything that moved (besides cats, if we’re speaking in full disclosure.) But this all too common habit isn’t going to change or get less awkward if you keep doing the same thing. Baby steps. Politely smile at someone as you pass in the hallway. Don’t stop in your tracks or smile slowly or anything, but think about it: you work in the same office, so there’s already a common thread between the two of you. I bet you could find more.