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Archive for the tag “turning 30”

Rent Is Too Damn High: Are You For Real (Estate)?

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We’ve all heard about women marrying folks they didn’t love in order to get a green card.

Now that I’ve gotten the terms for my upcoming lease renewal, I’m almost ready to jump the broom so I can split the rent or mortgage with someone who will give me penis on the regular. But of course marriage is not that simple, but this is the one time where I feel like being an independent woman is a burden.

The reality and the pressure of being 30 that I bragged about not quite feeling yet, I’m totally feeling in the regard to home ownership. One of my dearest friends has owned her beautiful home since the age of 26. She wavers between loving her place and hating having to pay for it and the hassles that come with trying to refinance and haggle for better interest rates. I’ve long been jealous of her, and she’s often told me not to be and that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and she’d gladly trade places. She even offered a house swap for a few months, where we pay each other’s bills.

My friend makes significantly more than me, but being a single woman, she can easily share the sentiment that handling all these bills alone is tough and stressful.

Honestly, I thought I would be out of my apartment by now. Especially two years ago when I was happily apartment hunting with my fiance in the suburbs of Chicago, eager to split the bills. It was one of the parts of marriage we both looked forward to most.

I actually cussed my ex last year when I had to sign my new lease and pay a whopping additional $80 a month to stay. I was literally cussing him and blaming him for the rent increase even though he had nothing to do with it and could not hear me. But my point was, if things didn’t fall apart, we would have been in marital bliss, splitting the bills and spending our disposable income on fun trips and furnishing this great home.

As for my place, yes, I got in on a fantastic deal nearly six years ago, and some would argue my new proposed rent would be closer to market value.

I still don’t care. I’m paying too much to live here. (And no, I’m not going to get a roommate. This is a non-negotiable)

Here’s why.

My community isn’t horrible, but it isn’t utopia.

There are occasional crimes that occur. I have heard gunshots twice in the time I’ve been here, and there are so many damn children and for some reason they love to congregate in front of my building.

The other problem is since I live in a mixed community of young professionals, families, older people and other folks of varying socioeconomic backgrounds,  I’ve overheard people who I presume to be on government assistance paying hundreds of dollars less than me to live in larger apartments with more bedrooms.

I’m sorry, but middle class Americans trying to rise are the main ones who get jerked and taxed to death and then are deemed ineligible for social assistance because we make too much, because we aren’t in complete poverty. And I’m not saying that those in complete poverty should not get help, because they should, but let’s face it. Most middle class folks are one paycheck away from poverty themselves between all of the rising fees they have to pay for groceries and gas and RENT!!!

I drive a 12-year-old car and I don’t have cable people. I’m trying, I’ve been sacrificing!!!

So I feel the sting every time lease renewal season comes around.

And every time, I reassess my situation and every year I think about what a pain in the ass it would be to move.

Then I think  if I move to a nicer, more expensive apartment community, what will happen to me if the rent increases while living there? Yes, I wrote yesterday about getting a raise, so I shouldn’t care about the increase or the increase shouldn’t hurt as badly. But damn it raise or not, I’m not a fan.

Honestly, over the last six years from what I’ve paid in rent, I could have had about 75 percent of the least expensive condos in my area already paid off by now. And that hurts.

So why didn’t I buy sooner? Well, I spent the last five years getting out of debt and trying to improve my credit while working my way hope getting small incremental raises (keep in mind I chose journalism as a career, so I didn’t get an amazing salary out of school like my other friends who chose other, more lucrative professions).

I have to get my ish together and join the ranks of the homeowners. Fixing my own plumbing, electric and all of that stuff scares me. But what scares me most are property taxes. They are no joke.

And as a woman who spent the earlier part of her 20s moving around the country, buying a home will truly signify that I’ve planted roots…for the next 30 years (or 15 if I want to pay a whole lot more money a month).

It had to happen some time, so now I’ve got to get it in gear and for real.

I need to get with a great program that helps first time home buyers and I’ve got to save, save, save and sacrifice to accumulate a half way decent down payment.

I can’t go nuts and be unrealistic about what I can and cannot afford, but I refuse to buy a hell hole I have to keep dumping money in just to improve.

There’s also no point in me buying a house, house with a lawn and such.

A gal like me needs a simple, modest condo.

So let the games begin. 30. It’s so real (estate).

Take it away Luther…A house is not a home, but an apartment ain’t truly yours either.

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PR Press Tour: An Ambassador for 30

renjith krishnan/freeimages.net

So as word spreads that my birthday is quickly approaching, my co workers surprised me with lunch and a celebratory cake today since I’m off on Friday, my actual birthday.

Some people asked how old I was as cake was being cut and distributed, I told them it was a milestone year and flashed a smile. The women nodded, they knew (most of the women in my office are 40+).

I call this the press tour, because so far I have been asked some interesting questions aside from the usual what are your plans? (People at work are digging my plan to go to Medieval Times, fyi)

1. Are you where you thought you’d be?

My answer: No. But honestly, I think about the things I thought I wanted by now and I’m relieved, because maybe I’d be miserable if I actually ended up where I thought I should be right now.

2. How do you feel? I was sad I was turning 30.

My answer: I don’t feel sad at all. I’m actually looking forward to it. I don’t feel as self-conscious, I’m the most comfortable with myself than I’ve ever been, and if that’s going to continue to grow, I’m very excited about this decade.

3. What do you hope for in the next 10 years?

My answer: I’d like to have a family. Good health, a roof over my head and to have enough money to travel when I’d like and occasionally buy myself a nice pair of shoes. I want to be happy. There was a time I thought I wanted to be Oprah or running some large massive company, but as I get older, I really want to be happy and financially secure.

It was quite ironic that when all of the cake was had, the chunk that remained was “happy”. I took a photo of it, and thought to myself, God speaks to us through everything. I can’t even trip off of those people who see Jesus in a burnt potato chip or in a milkshake; if you are moved or inspired to be a better person off of that, then so be it.

Back to my point. It just hit me looking at that last hunk of cake with the word happy staring back at me, bold and almost as if it were a directive and a one-word fortune cookie all wrapped up in one.

Then I thought, if happiness is all that’s left, then you are doing quite alright.

Maybe that’s deep. Maybe I’m on a sugar high.

But it looks like now that I’m entering the 30 club, I also have a job to be an ambassador of good will for 30.

30 is nothing to fear.

30 is not a hard deadline for your best and only life achievements.

It’s okay to pursue success, it’s okay to pursue happiness and it’s ok to switch off and focus on one more than the other, but find ways to come back to center.

It’s ok to know that success and happiness is defined by you and only you and if anyone takes their measuring stick and tries to line it up to your life, you tell them to mind their own damn business.

It’s ok to take a risk.

It’s ok to tell folks no. Really. It’s ok.

As an ambassador for 30, I’ve put together an oath for myself.

(Raising right hand) I will spread the good will and good news of being 30 and be a well-adjusted, happy, yet realistic woman.

I will accept what life has given me and I will do my part to improve my circumstances.

I will not compare my life to others, because I do not know or want to know what struggles and sacrifices they have to suffer through. God is sparing me from their sorrows.

I will be more patient with myself and others and understand timing is everything.  I want all of the positive dreams and goals I have to make themselves available at the most optimal time of my life so I may enjoy them to the fullest and be a blessing to others.

I will be truthful to others and share that life is not always easy.

I will be truthful to myself and to others when I want to say no, and I will not change my mind just to satisfy someone else out of guilt.

I will protect my heart, health and spirit at all costs.

I will be an example that life at 30 is liberating and filled with adventure and promise as well as challenges and struggles. Through good times and bad, I will maintain my integrity and dignity. 

Pop Quiz: How Well Do Your Friends Know You?

I’m about to find out how well my friends know me.

To make my birthday after party a bit more fun, and even more about me, I have drafted a 30-question (30 years, 30 questions) quiz all about me.

I have a range of friends from different parts of my life showing up to celebrate my 30th birthday, and I think my questions are fair for everyone. To make it even easier, its multiple choice and some questions are true/false.

The questions range from what young me wanted to be when I grew up, to correctly naming my five exes in chronological order.

From childhood friends, to college friends to colleagues-turned-friends, if they’ve spent enough time with me and actually paid attention when I ramble on, they should be able to answer most of them.

Yes, I’ve even gone through the process of getting first, second and third prizes for the people with the three highest scores.

As an added bonus, if you are invited to my party and you read my blog, I’ll let you in on what the prizes are.

One is a universal memory card to store photos (hopefully from my party), a snuggie and an amazing portable chair you can fold up, put in a purse/pocket and take anywhere. Shout out to Five Below!

My hat will go off to the person who can correctly answer all 30, but I’m not quite sure if any of my guests will be able to pull that off.

I’m going to enjoy seeing them try.
Aight, ask em “21 Questions” 50!

Mood Music: Live it Up, Live

Today’s a light one. I’ve been going pretty heavy and deep the past several posts.

Upon thinking about quitting “riding raggedy“, thinking about being more mature, thinking about surviving the rough times, thinking about the friends who are going to arrive en masse by plane, bus, caravan and or donkey to celebrate my 30th, I am overwhelmed.

In a good way.

I envision me and my homies having an amazing weekend and the song “Live it Up” totally came to mind. I don’t have John Legend money, but a celebration is in order.

My Medieval celebration makes even more sense and this came to me last night.

We are going to watch a joust. There’s a clear winner, there’s a clear loser and both participants got to have a whole lot of heart to get out there and potentially get their block knocked off at top speed on a temperamental steed.

I’m not afraid of 30, in fact I’m going Medieval on it.

This is my year of fighting back. I’m on my horse now, it’s time to ride out.

In honor of these warm, fuzzy feelings. I bring you John Legend. Well, YouTube brings him. You know what I meant.

The End of Riding Raggedy

freedigitalphotos.net

I have been having a few revelations over the last couple of weeks. Not sure if it’s because of the self-inventory that tends to happen when a new year comes, or because I’m turning 30 in just a few short weeks.

Me and my friends have talked about who we need to be, or who we are supposed to become once we turn 30.

For some people, it’s settling down and getting more serious about a relationship. For others, it’s buying their own home, or getting a new job, or even changing careers completely.

Some of my friends said this will be the year they tell it like it is, or eliminate toxic people in their lives.

I want all of those things too, but they aren’t going to magically happen.

I’m not going to wake up more brilliant, more zen, more loveable,  more courageous and just more on Feb. 3, 2012. I’m still going to have to get out of bed and put in the work towards those things like I do everyday.

But what I have noticed is I’ve looked back at my younger self, around 24 and found inspiration. I’ve decided, I want her drive, her self-esteem, (her body) and her ability to take risks, but add the wisdom, patience and good sense I’ve managed to gain since then.

I shouldn’t be working harder, I should be working smarter.

I shouldn’t be loving harder, I should be loving the right people who work at loving me back.

When I was younger, I beat the hell out of cars. I’d drive and drive and drive and not get oil changes regularly. I wouldn’t get a new tire until one got flat. There was one time I even drove across state lines on a tire filled with fix a flat.

Youthful hubris is a trip.

I wouldn’t dare think of doing anything like that these days. God looks out for babies and fools, and clearly babies can’t drive cars.

These days I’m paranoid with each and every rattle or bump and the service department at Ford know me pretty well. Any risk I take with my car due to lack of funds is a calculated one, where I know I have a certain window to keep riding raggedy before something more inconvenient and expensive happens. Even when I’m forced to ride raggedy, I already know the clock is ticking and anything other than getting it right ASAP isn’t an option.

That’s what I think 30 is going to be for me.  The end of riding raggedy, and the beginning of being more calculated and organized in dealing with life.

I’ve gone through enough to not fly as fast and reckless as I used to, but I am still going to fly and fly high and have a full tank of gas and some great snacks.

These days I probably won’t fly with no particular destination in mind, but I will have googled my potential routes first and pick the destination with the best restaurants and shopping.

I think the 20s is an experimental decade filled with great triumphs and equally great failures. In your 20s you can afford these highs and lows because you are physically and mentally resilient. You still swear you are immortal. You just know someone is going to save you (Mom and Dad).

I think the 30s, for most of us is an age of cautious optimism. The possibilities are still endless, but you are very aware of what it takes to get what you want and you’ll have a keener sense of if you’ll actually be satisfied once you have it.

You are aware that people you love can let you down, and while it hurts, you understand you have the power to love them in spite of themselves, love em from a distance or leave them alone altogether.

Just like your cars, you can’t keep pushing your life to the limit without the proper maintanance and assume it will keep running at its best forever.

Is Tattoo Removal Erasing History, Or A Sign of Maturity?

As you hit your latter 20s, you reflect on a lot of decisions you made over the last decade. Sometimes, the consequences of those decisions stick with you far longer than you thought. For me, it was a ridiculous credit card bill (that took about five years to pay off completely), and ignoring the U.S. Department of Education for about two years when they said they wanted their money back three months after graduation.

For one of my girls, her decision was far more permanent and much more visible in a cocktail dress.

It’s a tattoo.

ohmega1982/freeimages.net

I get a text from her last night saying she’s found a place to perform the procedure and she is having it removed.

“I mean, who puts a bumper sticker on a Bentley?” she asked.

Remembering the day she and another one of our friends got tats, I smiled and I asked her why. I pretty much knew what she would say, but I still wanted to hear her say it anyway. This was also instant blog fodder.

“I was 18 and stupid and I think it’s kind of ghetto and I don’t want it in my wedding pics.”

She’s not about to get married right now, nor is she in a relationship by the way, but I get her point.  In general, she’s a professional woman who is often going to galas for her job, where in this case, that tat, and her teenage judgement would be exposed in front of her colleagues and subordinates.

Even if she didn’t hold the position she holds, I think this is all a part of the self inventory that tends to take place as we edge nearer to 30. She doesn’t want to be looked at in a certain light because of something she thought was cool at 18.

Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of brilliant people with tats, and of the professional ones who decided to get them even after those rebellious years, they strategically decided to make sure they were in places where people couldn’t see during the 9 to 5.  However, I do believe there is a double standard for women with tattoos though, and that they may be seen as unsophisticated, or wild.

I was the chicken of the group. I managed not to get tats or belly rings when my friends did en masse. The only thing I did get was a piercing at the top of my ear. Funny thing is I rarely even wear it these days. It’s still cool though!

What are some of the mistakes from your teenage years or early 20’s that you find yourself still having to live with today?

VIDEO POST: Talk About Perspective…

africa/freedigitalphotos.net

The women featured in this documentary put all these wack chicks fretting over turning 30 to SHAME!!!!

It’s called “The Beauty of Aging.” All of the women in this video are over the age of 80, and they are freaking inspirational. They have been through it all and they are sharp, powerful and amazing.

They talk about the loss of friends and loved ones and being left behind and they also talk about still gettin it in!!! These ladies are fabulous.

Perspective folks, live your best life the whole way through. Be thankful, find ways to be happy. I was in a crappy mood today, and this video helped!! There is so much wisdom in our older generations, they are awe-inspiring.

http://www.beautyofaging.com/the-trailer.html

The Blog I’m Not Afraid to Write Anymore

One of the grand life events everyone hopes to have nailed down by 30 or wants to nail down shortly after 30-especially women- is getting married.

I’ll be heading to NYC tomorrow to celebrate the union of a good friend and his beautiful and wonderful bride. They are a great couple and I’m very proud of him, especially considering he’s one of those nice guys who had no problem complaining about always seeming to finish last.

He has made it to the winner’s circle. Not because he’s getting married, but he found the right person and he actively works on making her happy. In turn, she does the same for him. When he made his mind up, he was ready.

He was ready. That part takes a lot of patience and a lot of courage.

I should know. Here comes the hard part.

I got through my younger cousin’s wedding  about two months ago managing to get only a bit misty-eyed. But this one may be tougher, especially when friends in my circle take that stroll down the asile.

I wanted to leave my personal baggage out of it, but I’m going to keep it real.

I was engaged for nine months. My engagement ended a few days before the new year of 2011 rang in. The wedding was supposed to be in May. I was madly in love.

Long story short, as time inched closer and the reality of us becoming man and wife was getting more intense, the love of my life said he feared he wasn’t up to the task and that maybe he just wasn’t cut out for marriage at all.

I let out the most heartwrenching wail as he held me in his arms that night and I was numb. The next morning, I took off my ring, put it in its box and went to work feeling completely hollowed out. 

We were very happy for two years. I was going to uproot my life and move to his city. I had gotten the ok from my job to allow me to move and set up an office in our new home. We had passed our premarital counseling with flying colors, until one day he started to change and became more and more distant. I put the deposit down on the dress. The dress was awesome. My goregous shoes still sit high on a shelf in a closet, unworn. My dear friends planned, then quietly canceled showers and parties.

We tried to talk it out. I tried to ease his fears. I told him we could even push back the wedding for a max of two years even, but I couldn’t lose my best friend and we could get through it together and that this change would be scary for me too.

It didn’t matter. For him, a lifetime of dissappointments, a difficult childhood and an uncertain future was too much for him to handle and my love wasn’t going to be enough to pull him out of what was taking him over. He feared his string of bad luck was contagious, and would eventually find me too. He didn’t want to “bring me down.”

But down I went anyway in the subsequent months.

Just a month after the split, I went to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a birthday gift from him he had purchased well before our breakup. I took a dear friend and as we were led about four rows from the front, I was overwhelmed. I wept in my seat. Embarassed, I prayed the house lights would soon go down to hide me. His gift was beautiful and exactly what I wanted. I would have been happy to just be in the building, but to be so close! That just made things worse. He was the one who was supposed to be sitting with me that day. He was supposed to be holding my hand. I was supposed to be crying because of how moving the show was, not because he was moving out of my life completely. 

The last 11 months have been painful, some days absolutely unbearable. But I’m getting stronger.

There was a time where I thought it impossible to write this down for others to read. I thought it would take years. I’m proud of myself.

Best of all, I can be happy for my friends and family and gush about how great it is to be in love, because I was blessed to be that happy at one time and I will receive that blessing again someday.

So yes, something may stir inside me causing me to cry tomorrow. While my probable tears for my homeboy will be of joy, there is one that I know that I can’t stop from falling– a remnant of the pain still left inside from a great love that just simply could not go any further.

If I Were A Boy (and Took You to This Restaurant) I’d Expect Sexcess Too

Photo credit: Pixomar/Freedigitalphotos.net

I had a fantastic dinner with two girlfriends last night.

What were we doing? Celebrating my friend’s 30th birthday (how fitting for this blog right), it’s on Halloween, but we were celebrating early. Besides, it was a Friday night and she was able to get a babysitter. We had to get in where we fit in. 

We sat down in the cozy, plush booths and were serenaded by a sassy lounge singer dressed as a witch accompanied by a skillful acoustic guitarist.

Glasses of wine were had, followed by the most decadent meal I’ve had in a long time (this is even despite being on a Master Cleanse only a week earlier and just being happy to eat solid food again). We had crabcakes, sweet potatoes, bruschetto, the most air-whipped, glorious mashed potatoes. The birthday girl, after some coaxing, tried for the first time, fried skate wing fish.

We asked the waiter what kind of fish it was and he explained it was in the sting ray family. I encouraged my friend to order it and she was on the fence, but decided to do it because she said this year, she wanted to do 30 things she’s never done before, and why not kick it off with eating the “sting ray’s cousin” as our other friend pointed out.

That friend was harder to convince. She joked, “Didn’t Steve Irwin get killed by a sting ray? If you eat this you may not make it to 30.”  Maybe she was less enthused because it was because she just turned 29 last month and the prospect of 30 hasn’t hit her yet, but next year, this time, she’ll probably see things differently (tee hee). I’m about to be 30 in February, so I was more on the try it, try it, you are 30 tip. Besides, I knew eating the sting ray for the big 30 would make a great blog. I wanted to see how this would play out! The birthday girl went for it and it was actually pretty darn tasty. The cynic of the group even agreed it was pretty good. I believe we are all still alive.  

But let’s get to the real point of this blog. During our discussion, we saw various people on dates, some of which left within a few minutes (we presume the men weren’t willing to pay the prices or either they didn’t like what was on the menu, but my assumption is the former, not the latter.).

A little tipsy, we called out to the prematurely exiting couples between bites and sips, “It’s worth it, she’ll totally give you some after eating this!!!”

I’d like to think of myself as a progressive woman. I’m not a feminist by any means. I believe in women empowering themselves and knowing how to be independent– but not to the detriment of growing a healthy relationship with a man by trying to be superwoman or not letting him be “a man.”

When women learn how to balance those things and realize they can’t be a man or do things the way men do it and embrace that and embrace the things we do that men just totally can’t, we’d really get somewhere…but that’s ANOTHER topic. I’ma leave that one alone.

As we ate, we all agreed that if a man took us to this comfy, cozy, sexy place on a cold, rainy night like this, with this amazing, tasty food, we would probably give him A-grade sex once we got home and probably head on the way home in the car. Real talk. 

Some people will argue that our p-value is more than a meal. It is. Mine is priceless. That’s not the point. Then some people will argue what’s the difference between a woman who gives it up for Olive Garden in comparison to a swanky joint like the one we went to and definitively declare that it’s still trickin for a meal. Those people have a point, I won’t disagree. But when a man you are dating puts in an effort like that (and you actually like him and have an attraction) and the food is that good (The sense of taste and smell is super powerful, don’t sleep. Those senses are probably the most erotic next to touch), it’s not even so much the amount of money he spent, but it’s how that amazing food made you feel and the atmosphere. Now, that’s what I call a recipie for sexcess!

We all agreed the food and the wine made us feel sexy. I’m quite sure my one friend, who is attached, went home and gave her man the business. We all also agreed that if we were men, and we took women here, we probably would want to get some lovin afterwards too. Not so much as a show of gratitude for the amount of money that was spent, but for the sheer fact that a good atmosphere and great food is indeed an aphrodesiac.

So in my opinion, the men who pay for outstanding dinners aren’t necessarily paying for sex. One, they want to enjoy their food too, and it feels great to be able to take someone you really like out for a nice meal. In addition, the food is doing something in a subtle way  like pre-foreplay. They are setting up the kill early on and skillfully. This meal is creating a mood that will usher a woman into wanting to have sex and leading to that decision on her own.

So yep. That was a panty-dropping meal, and I’m not ashamed to say it. Play on, playas.

 

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