Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life Is Not a Journey, It's an Adventure

Life is a funny bastard. It's just donned on me in this past year.

I was always the girl who had a mapped out trajectory for my life. 5 years, 10 years, 15 years. I was researching college in junior high, I was looking up average salaries for my career in high school, by the time I finished six internships and Hofstra University graduation rolled around, I had landed my "dream job". Everything went perfectly according to plan.

It's the age old story - that hard workin' determined gal gets everything she's wanted for years, and whoops! Ends up loathing every aspect of it. The reality FAR from matches the fantasy in your head. What to do with life now?

One year later I look at where I am sitting and the adventure I've been on, how drastically a human life can change in 12 months.

ONE YEAR AGO:
I was working as an entry-level (aka slave) Publicist at MS&L Worldwide. One of the top PR firms in....the world. I skipped along to work in Times Square, 52nd & Broadway. And by skipped I really mean paid $400/mo in train tickets and took the commuter train, subway, and walked 4 blocks totaling almost 2 hours each way. I was living with my boyfriend and his family in Oceanside, Long Island - which was only supposed to be a transitional few months between graduation and me finding a place - but not so. I had to spend so much money on trains to commute while also paying my boyfriend's parents rent - it was impossible to save.

I had an impressively large office. And by office I mean cubicle. My large cubicle was marked by balloons when I first started as the cube-farm was so expansive when you looked out yonder there was just no knowing which box belonged to you. I worked on the PR for Febreze. Dabbled in a little Swiffer. And towards the end of my time there, was added onto the Brother team. Brother....famous for their sewing machines. We did the PR for so many well-known businesses. Heineken! Match.com! Charmin! Mr. Clean! Outback Steakhouse! Best Buy! Ferrero Roche Chocolates! Don't let these big brand names glamour you...like a vampire. Because ultimately they do the same thing. Suck the blood out of you until your body is pale and lifeless.

It was a joke as far as my daily tasks in the office. I was the data-entry, excel-wizard, fed-ex mail, conference room and company car booker, meeting note taker, order the food, stuff these envelopes, put together this package....I often sat wondering "Why did I work so hard to get here? My skills are being completely wasted" I was taking 10 steps backwards.

Now I will say I got to criss-cross the country on business trips, promoting Febreze at different events. However after the 5th trip, this one seemingly "saving grace" starts to suck as well. You're away from the ones you love - the ones that you actually WANT to spend time with when the work day is over, and more importantly, and this fact is often overlooked..........ummm you're WORKING the whole time. Hello. It's cruel. Hey - look at this intriguing city you're in! Now go into a building all day and work, and when you're finished fly away. See ya!

I was completely lost with what direction to take. I had virtually endless possibilities and I was continuously frying my brain trying to grasp the overwhelming reality that I had to select a SINGLE next step before I could really leave. Another job in the city? Moving closer to home and getting a job in Boston? Moving to Asia for a year to teach english, see the world, and take time off? Transfer to MS&L's Los Angeles office in California? I even considered moving to Austin, Texas.

Staying true to my indecisive-self, I pursued ALL of them equally. I posted my resume on Monster, I applied for jobs in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, and Asia. I figured what is meant to be will be - whatever bites first or seems promising right now is where I will go. I did this for 3 months. I sent out HUNDREDS of applications, I would literally spend my 8 hour day at work scowering online listings.

Randomly one day during my incessant online job-searching while at MS&L I decided to take a look at jobs in New Hampshire - HOME. I had ruled it out completely at first because I figured PR has to be in the city. To my surprise I found a small handful of listings....only two in my hometown - Nashua, NH. My hometown. I painfully struggled with this, because if you knew the Tasha who left her hometown 5 years prior to move to New York you'd meet a girl who condemned people who stayed in their hometown their whole life - so cliche, boring and expected, who sped out of there at 100mph never to look back, who couldn't wait to leave and experience something MUCH more fulfilling, exciting, and worth one's time. And everyone at home saw me as the city girl, the traveler, the adventurer, the one people "lived vicariously through". However, it became more and more apparent to me...as much as I tried to keep myself in denial and uphold my 'free spirit' reputation, every time I went home to visit for a long weekend, I was secretly envious. Of everything. The polar opposite - the relaxed friendly people. The slow pace. The NO TAX on goods. The emphasis on relationships and quality time with people you care about. I saw it in a completely different light - an oasis that offered a great quality of life.

The first job I applied for was my new #1 hope - even more than Asia! To be the Public Relations Director for THE CITY OF NASHUA - working in the Mayor's office. Promoting my own hometown to people. Imagine? What a homecoming that would be.

The second job I applied for simply because it was the only other PR job listed and I couldn't put all my eggs in one basket. It was a newly created position - the position of PR/Marketing Coordinator for a growing branch of doctor's offices throughout southern New Hampshire - Orthopedic Surgeons to be exact. I've done entertainment, music, consumer, business to business.....healthcare was the unknown and the new frontier. Why not?

The Orthopedic Center (that's the official name) got back to me and asked for an interview. I drove up to New Hampshire to interview, having absolutely no idea what to expect, just glad SOMEONE had finally expressed interest in me. I walked into a CADILLAC of a building, so incredibly posh and fancy. Fancier than my office in Times Square. But most importantly, by the end of that interview, I wanted the job more than anything - mostly due to the two people who interviewed me - Head honco #1 and Head honcho #2, otherwise known as Therrin and Janet. They were.....unreal. For the first 45 minutes we talked about favorite movies, concerts, family, hobbies, and what qualities we like in people we work with. Therrin told me straight up that family and friends come first, and work is something we all have to do to pay bills. How bluntly truthful! TELL ME MORE I thought to myself. Janet told me plentyyyy more - 17 days vacation to start, 9-5pm work hours, all of the efforts to retain employees, to keep everyone happy and unified and balanced, turn over rate is ZERO. Ummm. Count. Me. IN.

Not to mention the actual position afforded me absolute freedom and absolute responsibility. They were done dealing with a sub-par PR agency, creative consultants, with the rest of the PR/Mktg opportunities dispersed randomly among all the managers who did everything last minute and half-heartedly. They needed someone to come in, take all of the PR/Marketing responsibilities from all of those different places, and streamline it, focus on it, and build on it. With a budget of $100,000/year.

They wanted a follow-up interview! To my delight they were gracious enough to make it a conference call so I wouldn't need to drive back up from New York. On the call they told me I was their "Numero Uno" (VERBATIM) and they just needed to check my references. I GOT THE JOB!!!! Not to mention making almost DOUBLE WHAT I WAS MAKING in Times Square! They offered me above the salary range I requested to show their commitment to my new position, and to show their "appreciation for my enthusiasm." It seems my enthusiasm in life has scored me many a point. I'll never forget at the end of that call they said "Are you really sure you want to move back here?" Not one ounce of me hestiated. "Absolutely. I'm ready." I later found out they had over 80 applicants for my position.

Figures the Mayor's office called me some time later and said they wished they received my resume earlier - they had already committed to someone, but thought I would have been an "outstanding candidate" - so much so that they wanted me to meet with the President of the Chamber of Commerce to speak about other opportunities for me in town. Lucky enough for me I was able to say THANK YOU much, but I've accepted another job anyways.

MONTHS AND MONTHS of applying, searching, figuring, hearing nothing, dreaming about Asia - and in the span of THREE WEEKS last August, I get a response, interview, get a job, quit MS&L, and make moving arrangements....for myself AND my boyfriend who agreed to move WITH ME. I gave MS&L one week of notice.



NOW:
I'm still sitting in a cublicle technically. However this cubicle has never felt like a cage. And in fact, I would sit on the floor in the corner as long as I'm on premises and employed by this place. I'd sit at a picnic table, I'd sit on the roof, I'd sit in the waiting room with patients. Where I sit is really the last thing I care about, because I love my work, I love the people, and I love coming in every single day. I drive 20 minutes from the flippin' HOUSE that my boyfriend and I bought 5 months ago thanks to a terrible economy, an $8,000 first-time-homebuyers tax credit, and my mom. I live near my family. And I live near a farm stand - we're talking walking distance. I am THE (singular) publicist not for household air freshener, but for 14 surgeons. Doctors. Who fix people. I'm not micro-managed....I'm set free to "do what I do" and I check in weekly with Janet. Therrin is what I like to call a grown up child. The man who is the head of this business plants fake fart machines at people's desks. He sends me emails with a subject line of "WTF?"...."Did you send that check out yet?". He crumples up ideas I've had on paper and throws it at my head. He even made me sit in his office for 25 minutes one day to play "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?" cards with him. He eats peanut butter and jelly, pudding packs, and string cheese for lunch. He says "chop chop" to hurry people along. And best of all, when I try to tell him where I am and what I'm doing via text, he texts back and says "I don't care." HA! Can anyone illustrate a better boss to me please?????

With my free time (*GASP* YUPPP I have some of that now!) I've started up my photography business and freelance design. I'm back somewhere familiar - but in a completely unfamiliar way. On my own, at my own home, meeting all new people, all new relationships, it's re-discovering the old and adding on so much new. It's not your location in the world that creates adventure, it's you. It's taken some time to recognize you can be a lot of things at once. It's alright. I can own a home and have a great job and be grounded - and still be a traveler, a free spirit, a creative person who always looks for the deeper layer. I surf, I paint, I photograph, I create, I spontaneously drive, I travel, I read, I listen to music, I cook, I clean, I pay bills, I mow the lawn....it's all part of the adventure.

What's my trajectory now you ask? What's my 5 year - 10 year - 15 year - plan?

I have no clue. And I like it that way.









(those muffins are still RIDIC the next day)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

{Healthy} Raspberry & Lemon Muffins

I love raspberries. I love lemons. I love fruit in general.

I always eat my daily dose of fruits. However that can get quite boring fast. Same old apple. Same old banana. If you haven't caught on by now...I'm a person who prefers pretty much everything in life to be spiced up - somehow. Unfortunately for me, the majority of things you can make fruit into have to do with either: adding tons of bad-for-you-ingredients ......or.....no, that's it. You can only make fruit into a dessert-eqsue item. Apple pie. Bananas Foster. Raspberry Buttery Scones. Lemon Meringue Pie. Peach Melba. Sugar. Flour. Butter. Clogged Arteries. Completely counter-acts any good-benefit of eating fruit in the first place.

So it's my ongoing work to find SWEEEEEET healthy recipes....that actually taste amazing! Where you bite into your concoction and do the happy-food-dance (we've ALL DONE it) and the farthest thing from your mind is how you're amazed that it's healthy.....it's just GOOD. The end.

Which leads me to a realization I've had about myself. I like things that appear to be what they are not. It endlessly entertains me. These Raspberry Lemon Muffins taste like they are frickin full of butter, they melt in your mouth and are so moist and chewy......NOPE. Healthy. The fancy trendy knee-length black spring jacket that I was wearing last night - my momma complimented me on it thinking it was so posh & expensive.......NOPE! I told her it was $10 at Kohls. In which she replied "I hope you don't always tell people that kind of information when they dish out compliments to you". To which I replied "Of course I do, I ALWAYS do." Is that bad? Does it diminish your liking of my jacket now? You loved it before.

I guess it's along the lines of how I love optical illusions. Surprising people with the unexpected. You think it's this? NOPE it's THAT! Mull it over, because it's true.






Raspberry Lemon Muffins
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup splenda
  • 1 cup nonfat milk w/ 1 tablespoon lemon juice added
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and splenda in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the splenda. Add milk & lemon juice, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.
  3. Combine whole-wheat flour,baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the liquid mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
  4. Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 12-18 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Free Mismatched Chairs: Extreme Home Makeover Edition

There's a lot of chairs in the world. Zillions of them. A chair is a chair is a chair. They all have some type of leg-system, some type of large expansive flat surface for your butt to spread out onto, and generally some type of back support. My personal thought is if a chair works, and really it doesn't take a lot for them to "work", then what's the point in perpetuating and buying into the manufacturing of NEW chairs to add to the excessively overhwhelming pile of already-made chairs. Already-made chairs that are even being given away for FREE! Imagine that. Just go to craigslist and type in free chairs, you'll be overwhelmed. Most likely initially overhwhelmed by their ugliness - INITIALLY I said. Here's my tip -- boil it down people. Look past the pooey brown 80's wood, look past the pukey green 70's plastic, look past the moldy 60's fabric...look past all of that and boil it down.

Legs attached and sturdy? Check. Acceptable butt-holding-area? Check. Back mechanics in place? Check.

The whole making it pretty to your liking part? Easy.

I gathered up a motley crew of mismatched chairs, and simply gave them all the same treatment. It achieves a cohhesive yet still interesting and dynamic look. One part your favorite colors, one part a funky fabric, mix in some hot glue, ribbon, and a staple gun (which seriously, use with caution. My first staple was successful! Successfully lodged into my hand.)

And you got some one-of-a-kind-masterpiece-butt-holders.


{fondue night pictured....fondue should be my next post}



{I even used leftover fabric as a makeshift runner}

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Earring Tree

So there's been many mentions to me ever since sharing my humiliatingly hilarious story of my 8th grade french teacher widdling down my existence on this earth by simply remembering me after 10 years as "the girl who always had the unique and elaborate earrings".

Alright fine. I'm owning my reputation as a crazy earring lady. Whether that be negative or positive in connotation, it's who I am. And upon further examination I've come to realize I'm a crazy bracelet and ring lady too. Might as well just merge it all together and let the world know I like outrageous accessories okay.

Since I like tips, my tip for your accessories, crazy or not, is to display them - on your dresser, on your night stand, on that useless weird side-table taking up space with a lamp on it and nothing else, even on the wall. Why spend all that money on pretty pretty things and then keep them hidden in a box 99% of the time?

I was gifted one Christmas the most fabulous thing ever. An earring tree. (obviously this person knew me very well) Not only does this earring tree put your baubles on display as art when you're not wearing it, but everytime you walk over to your dresser you feel as if you're shopping around.....in your own collection! (is this a bad side of me?)



Friday, September 25, 2009

The Goal

In this fleeting life, cities empower and defeat, jobs arise and disappear, green pieces of paper rule decisions while the heart falls by the wayside. Our one constant in the choppy seas of incessent change are the special moments with the people we love most. The moments you usually don’t realize are so special until a time later when it pops like a bubble out of your frontal lobe. It plays over, a vivd deja-vu - you can see distinctly the overwhelming smile on your mother’s face and the sparkle of happiness in her eyes, flickering back on the movie screen of your mind. You wish time would freeze back at that moment so you could revel in the beauty forever. Your bones overflow with tingling joy. The next feature plays and the next and the next. You see his piercing blue eyes fade to black and feel his fingers sweep along your forehead, transported to the time when you fell asleep on his lap. Your heart is warm. These are the moments I want to dedicate my life to achieving. No city, no job, no money in the greatest stretch of the imaginiation will ever equal something as rich and fulfilling.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Magical Mood-Changer

We've all had those days. Those days. Nothing specifically happened, everything (in theory) is actually perfect, we can't point a finger at anyone, and there is no logical explanation for why we're draggin', can't focus, and can't motivate ourselves to be a productive human being for the day. Just BLAH. The BLAH days. A bad case of the BLAHs.

Well I'm happy to profess that there is a pretty simple and fabulous antidote for BLAH days. It will make you smile, make you feel like a kid again, make other people happy by default, and most importantly it's really flippin' yummy. I'm talking about making a PIE!

Pie just can't go wrong, can it? Even just finding out that I was referring to pie made you happy didn't it? And honestly I have no clue what makes a good pie - so if I can pull this off to success so can anyone.

One blah day not too long ago I decided PIE was indeed the answer. I went to the store and bought pre-made pie dough. Bam, just roll it out and slap it in the pie dish. As for filling, my thought process went as follows:

- I love fruit pies, but I don't want to do apple pie because there will clearly be an overload of that in the fall months to come
- I have a bunch of huge bags of frozen strawberries. Strawberry pie, done.
- Hey I have some leftover frozen blueberries let's throw those in too!
- Ehh I really love apple pie, so maybe I'll toss in a couple apples diced up
- Hmmm I wonder if cinnamon goes with strawberries & blueberries? Whatever, I'm still throwing it in for the smidge of apples I added
- Add splenda to act like making a pie isn't going to be totally bad for me
- My eyes lock on the bag of chocolate chips in the cabinet.......
- Chocolate covered strawberries are delicious! Melted chocolate is good with any fruit, isn't it? Melted chocolate would even be good on a sneaker.
-I've never heard of a pie with chocolate chips in it before. Whatevs, I'm throwing a couple handfuls in.

Mix all together and dump into the pie pan, already with the bottom pie crust in. This was too easy. Which is what led me to "fancy up" the top crust.....cutting it into strips and weaving - you know, to make it look like I #1 knew what I was doing and #2 spent soooooooo much time slaving over this mish-mashed masterpiece.

350 degree oven for however long........(I had no idea, just kept looking until it "looked right")

IT WAS FREAKIN' DELICIOUS.

My blah day was absolved. Yours will be too.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Little Creativity, A Little Time, A Little Imagination

Now anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for a great bargain.

I'm also a sucker for french onion soup on any menu, sparkly and funky printed scarfs, and most notoriously I'm a sucker for apparently outrageous earrings. To the point where my 8th grade french teacher, whom I happened to bump into at the town dump while dropping off garbage, squinted her eyes at me after I squealed in happiness to see her after 10+ years......her brain was racking and racking and finally her squint turned into a look of surprise and amusement.......I was "the girl who always had the unique and elaborate earrings!!!". 10 years and this is the single tidbit my existence is widdled down to by someone. Might as well be swinging crystal chandeliers from my ears. My reputation precedes me! But those are different stories all-together.

This particular story is about the fact that whenever I'm in close proximity to any kind of thrift/antique/consignment store....my involuntary bargain radar goes off. And not only that, my *design sponge-loving-self starts to get lightheaded with all of the thoughts and possibilities racing through my brain. What could I find, what could I transform, what can I create? Reuse? Recycle? Give new life to.

Exhibit A: $4.99, what I like to refer to as "fugly grandma lamps", obviously the best part being they were realllllly repulsive - to the point where when I first spotted them my gut told me to avert my eyes immediately and hold back the gag. Just makes for that much more of a shockingly enjoyable make-over. A Little Creativity, A Little Time, A Little Imagination








Monday, September 21, 2009

A Lovely Weekend


There really is nothing better than getting away for a long weekend. Leaving any trivial concerns, any partially made to-do-lists, any good-intention to start that project...leaving it all behind - and for a few days wipe your slate clean, just live in the moment, let your hair blow in the wind, drink too many martinis, and spend a little bit too much money. Re-energize, re-fuel, review. A long weekend spent back in the city in which I arrived eagerly & anonymously and departed almost as eagerly 5 years later with a crystal-clear understanding of who I was and who I DIDN'T want to be. I still have lots of love for New York, but I have to say it was an absolute pleasure to be visiting purely for fun. To ride the subway as a novelty and not a necessity. To run through the streets trying to make it on time to a Broadway show and not to a meeting. To stand still for a minute and marvel at the canopy of city lights at night...instead of cursing that I haven't seen the light of day from my desk. A great revelation and appreciation for what I've learned at a young age. Sharing this trip with my ever-hip mother and two spunky aunts was the icing on the cake.