Spring Break Broke Us

589e5d16ce8f74bdfc9b7736bea2d924Next week will throw us into tumultuous emotions. On top of March Madness, we’ll be coping with the week that we formerly knew as “spring breaaaaak.” The pro is of course: waking up each morning and not immediately wanting to die. But how are we supposed to promote inter-collegiate friendships if we’re not all on the same party beach together, developing similar interests, like ocean-flavored beer and other Midwestern people? We are left to bask in the 40-degree sunshine that we experience during our walk into and out of the office at the end of the day. Maybe we’re in denial. I mean, why go to a beach when we can simply admire tweets, instas, and FB posts about warm weather from the comfort of our car’s heated seats? And all that sand? Yuck.

But really, I think we’re all doing okay with our first year acknowledging spring break as a fond memory rather than an actual thing that’s happening. Though I’ve been flirting with the thought of just how well the Les Mis lyrics of “I Dreamed a Dream” resonate with my feelings about spring break, I’m not losing mental stability at all… maybe it’s good that now if we want to execute a mass beer bong event, we’ll need to organize it in the Outlook Calendar or “follow up” with it later on in the week. (Post-grads LOVE following up.) At least on the plus side, we won’t have to worry about spring break bods? All the tacos for us. There’s also a crazy amount of time and money we can save by not going tanning all the weeks before spring break. I mean, who misses being tan? No one. Putin, maybe. And who needs a multi-level bar in the ocean when you’ve got Buffalo Wild Wings?

Reminiscing about hot weather, fruity drinks, and blatant disregard for time will only hurt your soul. Surely there had to be some negatives to journeying south and will help stifle this year’s blow. We were burnt to a crisp. We spent way too much money. Everyone had that one person in your group no one could stand – the KU of spring break. They needed a bathroom break every hour on the drive down, were always lagging behind, or they threw up in a cab and made their friends pay for the damage…………………………………………………………………….

Spring break trips have left us believing it is a right to experience a week-long hiatus from real life; that James Franco wants more for us; that even though hangovers come and go, South Padre, PCB, and Mexico are forever.

Celebrity Shot: They Still Serve Beer in the Ivory Tower

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 1.11.45 PMHappy new year to you all and welcome to the first Celebrity Shot of 2014! To start off the year, I  let someone else take the reigns on a topic that is unfamiliar territory to me. Personally I’d rather put forks in my eyes than go to grad school, but the consensus of my Masters-clad friends has been positive experiences. Colin Grace, current law school student and therefore prime Dementor meat, gives insight to what really goes on behind the Ivory Tower that is “further education.” (Read more about Colin here.)

I write this story snug in the cozy bosom of my parents’ house, putting in more mileage on my Netflix account than I care to admit. My first semester of law school is in the books; I’ve retired this semester’s textbooks and am watching my beer gut expand thanks to my parents’ fully stocked pantry. After four years of undergrad I have this routine down to a science (although nowadays I spend most of my breaks like some kenneled puppy waiting for my friends to get out of their real people jobs so we can play a game called drink the beer). For all you post-grads or soon to be real-worlders, I have some exciting news: the Ivory Tower won’t necessarily push you baby birdies out of the nest to fly out into society just because you got handed one measly diploma. You can stay as long as you like… for a price; however I’m in no position to weigh the pros and cons of your decision to stay in higher education. There are better writers with much more evidence and sources to cite, and that sounds like a monumental pain in the ass. What I can offer you, dear reader, are a few observations from my own experience.

From the first day your poor mother pried you off her pant leg outside the kindergarten classroom until you’re handed a college diploma, your academic career follows a pretty set path. The thing about grad school is that some of your potential classmates actually did the whole real world thing and came back, which suffers some consequences.

Older classmates will not share the same affinity for Busch Light and screaming the lyrics to “Take Me Home Tonight” at karaoke night on a Tuesday. This serves to help shatter the illusion of your own indefinitely extended college career. Later in the semester when the first few salvos of shit hit the fan, you’ll be grateful for the lack of bad influences and arm twisters. But in the beginning of the semester (when you still half heartedly believe your reading is optional) these people are a group of major disappointments. But hey, they’ll attend the first few parties and it’s probably a good thing to learn the ins and outs of adult conversation.

Grad school parties DO in fact have potential to be entertaining affairs. For the seasoned partiers of undergrad, a get-together in a bar organized on Facebook is pretty standard fare; however, many  potential classmates attended small liberal arts schools or come from other countries and have now found themselves in unfamiliar territory resulting in at least a few grad students who get far too drunk for their tolerance and pull a few moves we haven’t seen since our freshman year move-in weekend. Awkward icebreakers, truly terrible dance moves, and horrific displays of face sucking are enough to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of the straight-through socializers you need to align yourself with.

If you’re like me and are more inclined to 80s music and questionable shot concoctions than coffee houses and discussions of neo-Marxist feministic social paradigms, I would urge you to find a core group of similarly minded folks because you will have them to rely on. These people will more or less be a scaled down version of your undergrad glory days. This is not the prettiest nor the most romantic outlook on grad school but hey, it sure as hell still beats a real job, right?

(Read more about Colin here.)

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.

Why People are More Attractive in the Fall

photoWith October officially upon us (#thanksObama), we’ve settled into routines and maybe some relationships. Thinking back to my old college days, it seemed that relationships came out of nowhere after just a few weeks of school. All of these new couples were so wrapped up in each other, literally and figuratively, and I had to push in between hand-holding to get to Caribo…ahem, class, on time. I thought things might be different once out of school, but I’m finding the truth about this season remains the same: people are more attractive in the fall.

There’s a feel-good feeling about fall that’s more irresistible than guys who wear their sleeves rolled up. It’s more than the rush guys get once they see girls tweeting that it’s yoga pants season. It’s more than a debate of: are scarves getting bigger or are women’s heads getting smaller? Checking people out is a habit for both men and women, but the “fantasies” seem to change in these cooler months. Thoughts shift from, “He/she makes me want to BOMO at a house party,” to “He/she makes me want to go on a date to Noodles,” to “He/she makes me want to cook dinner and drink wine by a fireplace, while curled up next to kittens and listening to John Mayer.”

What causes this shift in romantic-thinking?

1. People are inherently in better moods during the fall. If you’re not into football than you’re at least into tailgating, which makes everyone happy. The weight of mid-terms hasn’t hit you yet. And if you’re a post-grad, it still hasn’t dawned on you that working lasts the rest of your life. (Sorry for the spoiler alert.) Everyone’s looking forward to the good things, and that’s enough to grab anyone’s attention.

2. There’s something about a fall wardrobe. While low-cut crop tops definitely show off your personality, there’s something about layers that make you want to get to know someone. We get invitingly lost in a sea of flannel, cardigans, scarves and boots, wondering what kind of person hones that type of style. People look cleaner, fresher, more put together; they look like they’re going somewhere with a purpose.

3. Fall is the most beautiful time of the year. Yeah, yeah, every season has its perks. But is there anything better than walking past someone whose hair is blowing in the breeze, vibrant leaves flying everywhere, while a gust of wind puts their sexy scent straight to your face? No. And while every interaction might not channel that much Pocahontas, it’s way more enjoyable than walking past sweaty bodies in the summer or seeing the red nose/dry skin combo in the winter. The summer tan is just fading away, giving everyone an autumnal glow that’s impossible to ignore.

Maybe, if you’re just starting college, being in a relationship is what you feel like you should/need to do. Maybe, if you’re out of college, it’s still what you feel like you should/need to do. Or maybe it’s because we can all admit that we just don’t want to drink our pumpkin spice lattes alone during the best part of the year.

You Need to Have a Girl Crush on Ellie Goulding

Happy Saturday, friends!  I am new to Des Moines as the Internet is new to my apartment (I survived for four weeks without it at home so I’m convinced I can now do anything)- hence, this is my first post from my place instead of hastily typing during my lunch break at work. It’s been a lazy Saturday so far, filled with recollecting great stories from last night and trying to avoid the hot hot heat that is still infesting our first fall month. Today has also given me the chance to catch up on music and general Internet stalking, which leads me to today’s topic of choice: Ellie Goulding and why she should be your girl crush – if she isn’t already.

1. She has one of the most unique and best female voices of all time. There. I said it. OF ALL TIME. Whether you’re feeling pathetic, pissed or ready to party, she has a song to match it. Her second album, Halcyon, was released last October. Lyrics led me to believe she had split with a bf,  and at that time we were clearly handling our break ups in the same way: she was playing sold out shows around the world, and I was going to B-Bop’s three times a week.

2. She’s 26. So it’s not that creepy if we’re obsessed with her, right? She’s basically the same age as us, which means two things: we’d probably be friends in real life. And she’s clearly a struggling post-grad too……TWINSIES.

3. Her Instagram feed is gold. There’s more to her than just cat selfies, but these are clearly my fav. You’ll notice I liked both of these photos. If you haven’t yet figured out that I’m a cat lady (who miraculously has a boyfriend), then sorry, that cat’s out of the bag.

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4. She has incredibly voluminous hair…and eyelashes. Voluminous hair, yeah, we love that, but those lashes – even a giraffe would be envious. They cater to her already chic London-rocker look and bring her to the next level of cool. Wanna trade closets? Or lives?

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5. She gets giddy around JT. Obviously she just gets it. We need our girl crush to have a crush on our man crush, right? That’s a lot of crushing, but we’re into it. And what’s better than our girl covering our boy’s hit song? Nothing, that’s what.

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This is Your Brain on Mugs

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Hey guys, happy Friday.  Here’s a throwback to a story I wrote for The Black Sheep last year. What better time to post it than post-mugs? Hope you’re all recovering well. PS we’re not hungover. Love, the post-grads.

Friday through Sunday is for casual drinkers. Monday is for potential alcoholics. Tuesday is for karaoke. Wednesday is for pints. And Thursday – Thursday is for mugs. I know I don’t speak just for myself when I say mug night is the best night. Everyone is ready to let loose by Thursday, and nothing brings people together quite like a blackout on a budget. As with any addiction, the trickiest part of mug night is knowing when to stop. When do four mugs become the standard instead of the challenge? Sometimes it’s difficult to pick up on your friends’ warning signs. Your buddy ordering a mug of Patron might be a good indication it’s time to head out. Or that the party’s just getting started. But in all fairness, Ames bars are asking for the drunkenness they get: the curiosity AJ’s Ultra Lounge and Big Shots bring. The Friday morning stories that Yokes dance floor promises. The hope that the rage cage will open up at Mickey’s. The blackout thrill of requesting a non-country song at Outlaw’s. The almost too cold but still enjoyable patio at Cy’s. The casual frat lap around Paddy’s. The tradition of the stripper pole at Sips. What are we left to do besides use them for all they’re worth? I suppose we can still grasp some sort of responsibility by getting familiar with the mental and physical state of each mug consumption, and save ourselves the hassle of making one more mistake that evening.

Half-a-muggers: Get out.

One-muggers: You’re just really happy to be out with others. Maybe you’ve had a long week, or maybe you feel like you haven’t been out in a while. We’ll accept that you’re clearly not looking to get rowdy, but we won’t condone it. If you’re trying that whole “responsibility” thing, then stick with your one mug at your one bar and enjoy not being hung over for your Friday 8 AM. You’ll hear recounts of mug stories on CyRide the next morning and think, “Ahh, that could have been me. Maybe next weekend.” We hope that’s the case too.

Two-muggers: You’re the person enablers feed on. After two mugs, there’s definitely some headway in mental and physical impairment, but there’s so much room for more. You’re amidst coaxing friends and friendly strangers, and you have to decide if you’re going in all or nothing this evening. At this point, you’re ready to confront others you  A.) don’t know but want to be friends with, B.) don’t know but can probably score a free drink from, or C.) used to know and can talk to now that you’re intoxicated. You finished the night speaking in a few slurs, but not enough that your friends can make fun of you for anything. There’s a good chance you texted either an ex-boyfriend or a sophomore year hook up, but no serious damage has been done.

Three-muggers: You’re feeling good, and that dance floor is begging you for a solo performance. It’s near the end of that third mug that you struggle with the toughest bar debate: another mug or do you casually switch over to shots? $30 for 3 shots? Sounds like a deal. Twitter is blowing up. You’re trying desperately to fit your crazy emotions into a content field that only allows 140 characters; you most likely end up with something like, “Omg I love my biddies #mugz” attached to a Twitpic of you and your friends proving you don’t have to be vertical to be photogenic. You head out a bit before bar close because a hot slice of Jeff’s sounds too good to pass up.

Four-plus-muggers: The phrase “last call” translates into “whose bed am I sleeping in tonight?” By the time, you’re crawling for snacks, eyes half open and most of your outgoing texts contain numbers and emojis instead of words and phrases. Or on the flip side, you’re finishing strong on the dance floor, rage hands high and self-esteem higher. You weren’t the guy who threw up in the bathroom and you weren’t the girl who punched the bouncer. Both are valid wins.

An Open Letter to PNM’s

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Dear PNM,

You’ve made it through the deafening claps, rhyming chants and ceaseless “so what’s your major/where are you living” questions. Your Instagram (which we didn’t have in my day) is now blowing up, and you’re adding 30 new Facebook friends daily. You’re probably out enjoying the still-summer sun in a bid day tank – most likely some sort of Aztec print – and taking in all that Iowa State has to offer. You don’t really know what “serenades” means, but if it doesn’t immediately become a college highlight for you, then you’re doing something wrong. We’ve all sat on some sweaty freshman boy who’s trying to stay on key as he sings Katy Perry and tries to get your phone number imprinted somewhere on his body. We’ve all gotten used to the new vocabulary and language — traditional words like “sisterhood,” “chapter,” and “Sister President” and some not so traditional terms like “Yell Like Hell,” “super dog” and “are you going out tonight?” All of these things will soon become second nature, and you’ll start to wonder how it never before crossed your mind that you should always sorority squat (given the opportunity). You’ll begin to notice that as soon as someone takes their iPhone out for a pic, your hand will automatically find a place on your hip. And despite the craziness of the first couple days, you’ll find that you’ve entered into something that is so much more than coordinated outfits and over-caffeinated women.

Going through formal recruitment is unlike anything else, but it builds skills that you never thought you could have. Bet you never thought you could last that long in heels. Ever think you could carry on a 20-minute conversation with a stranger? No one in the world can form a line more quickly or quieter than you. And those are just the perks because it’s true when your Rho Gammas tell you that you stay friends with your recruitment group. It’s true when everyone tells you college will be the best four years of your life. And it’s true that you may not have a clue as to what you’re doing. But you’ve already made the best decision at Iowa State – and that’s deciding to go Greek.

Throughout your four years, your party scene, wardrobe and friends may change. And that’s okay. It’s funny how we can never see ourselves growing or changing in the moment, but it’s innately clear when you look back on everything. Just be thankful that Pinterest came about before you started college. You all dress better than I could ever have dreamed when I was a freshman in college. Day 1 of recruitment: over-sized Go Greek tee with a denim mini skirt. I’ll just leave it at that. You all joined your respective chapters for a reason, and they are all lucky to have you. They’ll love you on the nights when you go out looking like ANTM, and they’ll love you even more the next morning when you look like death. Immerse yourself in everything and talk to everyone. Apart from being a one-hit wonder, the New Radicals knew what they were talking about when they said you get what you give.

We are all so jealous that you’re just starting out. Have the best time. We all did.

Love,

a recruitment, sorority, and Greek community-obsessed alum

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.

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.