Winter Is Coming

photoNo amount of coffee could get me out of bed this morning. (Okay, maybe it could. It probably could… it definitely did.) But mornings were so much more enjoyable when I didn’t have to unravel myself out of a cocoon that is my bed comforter or face the black hole that is a winter morning. Let’s get something cleared up right away: when cold days encroached on college campuses, you gave yourself the option to cancel your class. You thought, “Hey, attendance points, who needs you? What did you ever do for me?” (They actually probably saved your ass from a midterm, but hey no judgment here.) You could saunter into class a casual 15 minutes later and be relatively unnoticed. But now, now you have to be a human being.

The fact of the matter is,  Midwestern human beings really, really like talking about how cold it is outside. I got the go-ahead nod from my boss last night to leave work an hour early, just because it was icy outside. The plus side of this cold weather is that it’s no big deal if you leave your lunch leftovers in the car. Your vehicle is a fridge, to-go. We get to say words that are foreign to people outside the flyover states like, “Sleet.” “Slush.” “Black ice.” We get to take pride in the knowledge that there’s a difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. But most recently I’ve just been noticing how snowfall becomes a competition. It could snow all afternoon, but the real determining factor: “Yeah, but did it stick?”

Most of us are probably still welcoming these first few dustings. By the new year, perceptions of snow will start to shift: Snow. AS IF IT’S WARM ENOUGH TO SNOW. But until then, we can revel in being white girls while we snuggle up in sweaters with Starbucks and romcoms. That is, until you get to the Starbucks drive-thru and realize your window has been frozen shut, leaving you to open your car door and jam yourself between the Starbucks exterior and the driver’s seat in order to get your drink from the barista, baking in his hut of heat.

You’re driving home, sitting on the edge of your seat as your peer through the 1×1 area of your windshield that isn’t fogged up. Is that a red light ahead? Nope. Brake lights. That was close. You take a casual look to your left and see a male figure in the car next to you. A recently pinned image of Ryan Gosling wrapped up in Christmas lights leads you to wonder – who is this potential holiday hottie? Suddenly you’re compelled to open your car door (window is still frozen shut) and offer a flirty, “Hey, how much windshield washer fluid can your car hold?” ‘Tis the season.

Personal side bar: what was with people telling me I wasn’t allowed to be cold because I’m from Minnesota? (Joke’s on you. I’m a Phoenix native.) The fact of the matter is that shouldn’t matter. I don’t give Iowans grief when they’re not constantly gnawing on a corn cob.

Anyway, here are some smart and quick ideas to keep the warmth this bone-chilling season.

1. Put blankets/clothes/towels in the dryer a few minutes before you plan on using them — nice and toasty.

2. Use lotion — even if you’re a dude. Scratch that. Especially if you’re a dude. We like when your beard is scruffy, but we don’t like when your skin feels the same way.

3. Avoid falls — easier said than done. But hey, not wearing Uggs would be a good start.

4. Heat up your car before you get in it — duh.

5. Focus on the good things — hot chocolate, Christmas music/presents/lights/movies, snow days, hockey/”hahckey”, spending extra time with family and friends.

Celebrity Shot: Party Playlists

I’ve wanted Mindfire to be more than just me sitting at my laptop telling you how great/not great it is to be a post-grad. So when Alex Ernst confronted me at Es Tas (the best place to confront me about business, really) I couldn’t turndown his idea to guest-post. Thus, I’m introducing a new section to Mindfire: Celebrity Shot. The story idea and the writing both come from someone other than me. Today’s Celebrity Shot comes from Alex Ernst, as he informs us how pre-game and post-game playlists change after you leave college. Or, more accurately, how they don’t.  (Read more about Alex here.)

Music is the pinnacle of any night of fun. From what I can tell, all music choices follow a pattern throughout the night. Allow me to enlighten you: The night is early and the pregame is fresh. At this point, you aren’t sure if you are really going all in. You start off with beer, knowing that leaves you with the option to saunter off, throw on the $9 sweats and watch New Girl.

Then the music starts.

First up is the Top 40s. We’re talking about the Lana Del Rays and the Aviciis of the world. They’re songs we’ve been jamming to for a while, but that are just ratchet enough to keep us coming back for more. This phase is the quickest. We lose interest with these top hits as soon as someone has the audacity to throw on “All the Small Things” by Blink 182.

As soon as  Mark, Tom and Travis enter the arena, the night is poised for a change. The option to not go out has just been power kicked off the table. These are the songs that have shaped us during our impressionable adolescence. This song choice has sent everyone scrambling to play their favorite sing-alongs. This is when “All Star”, “Butterfly” and “Sweet Home Alabama” are blaring over the cheap speakers (because we still can’t afford nice things.) The bars are going to have to wait for 30 minutes.

[Side bar: God bless the smartphone's ability to connect to bar's music players. It's good for us, but bad for one of our drunk counterparts who's made the power move to sign up for a Touch Tunes account.]

Tired of spending money, we come back to a nice-ish apartment. This is the portion of the night that song verses go wayside and the chorus reigns supreme. From this point on we will be able to sing only a solid quarter of the song, but that will not blind us from the ultimate goal: raging our faces off as we belt the lyrics to a song that came out before we had any idea what raging our faces off meant. We’re talkin’ “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark or “Jump Around” by House of Pain. Now you show me someone who says they know all the lyrics to Jump and I’ll show you a liar; I’ll show you a bold faced liar. We aren’t out/can’t be in public anymore. We’ve collected a posse of friends and have gathered in a living room with a half empty bottle of Fireball to tide us over. And if we are being honest with ourselves, another few drinks of that cinnamon shit will knock us to the mat… but for the songs and our souls… we must persevere. Some are singing, some are dancing, some are just talking to each other; but if you think this is the genre to really take it up a notch, you couldn’t be more wrong – because here comes “Drops of Jupiter.”

We are a collective unit, screaming the lyrics louder than Train had ever intended and bringing us into the next phase of music. And it can’t get better than… oh wow is that Goo Goo Dolls. Not one person knows the words to these 90s songs, but every word flows as if we studied the lyrics like a midterm. Next phase: the danger zone.

The danger zone is where the details become unclear and the decisions become a little (a lot) worse. The rooms is quiet and all you hears is “you are my fire… the one desire… believe when I say.. I want it that way.” Everybody loses their mind because DAMMIT WE DO WANT IT THAT WAY. It’s the kind of song that you didn’t know your heart wanted so desperately, until you hear it.

So we’ve made it to the end of the night. We’ve cruised through the top 40, the sing-alongs, the 90s favorites, and everything in between. Until… someone changes the song to the undisputed #1 drinking, sing-along, hit of every post-grad’s life: Remix to Ignition. We’re hit with confusion and then relief as R. Kelly assures us that he usually doesn’t do this. The same singer that sings the emotional “I Believe I Can Fly” from Space Jam has just sent you into a drunken stupor that should bring upon the second prohibition. You take the final “bounce bounce bounce” as a command and head back home, singing yourself to sleep.

If you’re thinking about taking a Celebrity Shot, give me a shout!

The Thing About Needing 3-5 Years Experience

Where are you hiding, all of you 25 to 28-year-olds? How does it feel having your three to five years experience underneath you? More importantly, which companies actually hired a freshly graduated individual and how do I get in contact with them? “Needing more experience” has been, overwhelmingly, the parting words from potential employers. I’m not saying that companies should be handing out jobs to any college grad who’s looking, but my question is: how the hell are we ever supposed to get 3-5 years experience  if no one takes a chance to let us start building that experience?

I feel like we’re all doing the right things — interning in a field we want to stay in, networking with successful and smart people, speaking with upper-level co-workers who have reached some magical level of being able to have stand-up work spaces or big bouncy balls for chairs…

I have this nightmare that I’m going to be 30 and feeble with nowhere to work because I’m still lacking this looming requirement. I’ve known too many friends who haven’t made the cut because they lack proper experience, even if they might be the better person for the job. Is there something we’re doing wrong? PLEASE SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE DARK VOID THAT IS MY FUTURE. I promise we have more work capacity than a baby and a more extensive vocabulary than Taylor Swift.

Until an answer presents itself or I stumble across one, I can only revel in what the three to five years experience club must enjoy every day. (This is a working list. Additions are welcome!)

3-5 years experience, duh.

3-5x mo’ money, not problems.

3-5  more inches in height, probably.

3-5 things they can laugh at us about, externally.

3-5 more high fives they give each other, definitely.

3-5 Keurig cups they go through per day, because they obvi DGAF about how much they cost.

3-5 drinks they purchase when they’re out, because having a real job (I can only imagine) should be a full-time celebration.