When Do You Stop Being a Post-Grad?

A popular discussion at recent happy hours and potluck dinners has been how to classify yourself in your 20s.  Quarterlifers seems a little optimistic (seriously, if you think at 25, you are only 1/4 of the way through your life span, you are putting more faith in the value of health and exercise than I ever would) and anything with the word “young” attached to it feels a little disingenuous.  While I think the postcollegiate moniker is appropriate for this blog (and where I feel I am in my life), college also seems like it was decades ago.  Hell, I just attended my first [legit] college reunion last month!

It’s only fitting that this timely post from Thought Catalog came across my Twitter feed the other day.  Ryan O’Connell, a fantastic blogger, posits that you have to drop the title somewhere at the year and a half mark, providing you land a real job.  Of course, what is a real job?  Is it your dream job?  Something in your field?  If you’re scraping by on blogging and freelancing and selling plasma, does that count?

It’s a quick piece but a clever one, especially for reminding everyone that there was once a terrible movie about being post-collegiate but also some great ones.

Music Monday – Assassins

I’ve been itching to write this post ever since Saturday night!  I had the good fortune to attend Endstation Theatre‘s production of Assassins (if you haven’t read the profile I did on Geoffrey Kershner, Endstation’s Artistic Director, check it out – he was great!)  The production was amazing, the Sondheim score is unforgettable, and getting a chance to see the show one week before we celebrate Independence Day was just perfect.

To give you a little bit of background, being an avid history nerd with a fascination with the less-pleasant aspects of our past, I received the soundtrack to the 2004 Broadway Revival for Christmas that same year.  I was positively thrilled.  While other families were listening to Christmas classics, my family was subjected to a solid 90 minutes of songs detailing the assassinations, both attempted and successful, of Lincoln, Roosevelt, McKinley, Garfield, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.  My sister still refers to it as our Christmas of Death.

This has remained one of my favorite shows ever.  Its a carnival-esque ride through the stories of men and women who are convinced that there lives will be changed for the better by assassinating an American president.  All of the characters, save the Carnival Proprietor and the Balladeer, are true historical figures, perfect for post-performance Google searching.  What Stephen Sondheim does so brilliantly with the music is really reveal the kinds of insecurity (and mental instability) that would drive a person to do a truly horrible thing.

For the Secret Service agent who might be reading this (to quote Sarah Vowell…), I have no plans to harm any member of public office – something that is hard to even fathom being flippant about, given the state of affairs in this country.  But I did find one of the climatic numbers, Another National Anthem, to be particularly relevant to those of us who are struggling, striving, desperate to grab a hold of the American dream.  I’ve embedded the song below but also recommend taking a look at the recent revival cast’s performance at the Tony Awards a few years back as well.  It’s chilling stuff.

[P.S.  If you like Neil Patrick Harris, Mario Cantone, the King of Mississippi from True Blood, and Jean Weir from Freaks and Geeks, you will love this soundtrack.  Download it from Amazon – trust me!]

Friday Frivolity: Staying Positive with Jesse

Another fabulous Friday!  I’m thrilled because I’m slipping out of work a little early today to head down to my former home, the charming and delightful Lynchburg, Virginia, to spend the weekend with some friends, see a show by Endstation Theatre, and enjoy a little respite from city living.

Before I leave you for familiar faces and simple pleasures, I wanted to share a Funny or Die video that was sent to me that I love.  Scott Gairdner does an absolutely wicked Jesse Eisenberg imitation and in this video, gives us a taste of what kind of advice Jesse would give to preteen girls.

Although I’m no longer a preteen (praise be to the deity or non-deity of your choice!), I’ve enjoyed imagining what kind of advice Jesse would give me in my day to day life.  Perhaps I need a little bit of his obtuse, curt advice because I know he would respect me too much to coddle me.

Sadly, I can’t embed the video, so jump over here to check it out and have a great weekend!

You Cannot Win in Improv – Or Life

Just a quick post to share a terrific commencement speech from Stephen Colbert.  Although I loved Conan’s speech, Colbert, speaking at his alma mater Northwestern University, hits a perfect mix of topical, hilarious, personal, and touching.

>You cannot win improv.  And life is an improvisation.  You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just yanking ideas out of your ass as you go along.  And like improv, you cannot win your life.

Caviar Dreams, Ramen Budget

From The Hairpin's collection of Women Eating Salad Alone While Laughing, one of my favorite Internet things

I am a girl who loves to eat.  If you ask me about my last vacation, I’ll tell you about every meal I enjoyed (beautifully cooked steak with a blue cheese sauce was the highlight.)  If you want to meet up with me after work, I’m going to suggest the place around the corner with the cheese tray to die for.  If you’re invited over for a party at my place, I’m pouring over cookbooks and online recipe databases to make you something delicious.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am nothing special in the kitchen.  I have 2-3 knock-out dishes and a small reserve of go-to standards that will impress anyone who has never seen people who are actually good at cooking do it.  But I love to cook – and I love when others cook for me.  In fact, I seem to select roommates based solely on food preparation prowess.  My shortest-lived cohabitation experience was with a girl whose culinary tastes began and ended with chicken nuggest and macaroni and cheese.

What can be most frustrating is the cost of cooking delicious, impressive meals.  One habit from my unemployed days that I still cling to is a deep aversion to paying exorbitant amounts of money at the grocery store.  If the ingredients for a single meal are going to cost me twice what the restaurant equivalent is, I’m throwing on some classy duds and heading for a night out.  I want it all – delicious, relatively-healthy (or ridiculously decadent – there’s no middle ground for me) food at a price that doesn’t make me consider turning tricks to fund it.

That’s where Big Girls, Small Kitchen comes in.  I stumbled across their blog a couple months ago and its become one of my favorite resources.  The girls create fun, easy, inexpensive recipes that are delicious and impressive, especially if cooking for that special someone.  They recently released a cookbook, available on Amazon, which is high on my want list, in case anyone is so inclined to send me a gift!  I’m always a little skeptical about cooking blogs that claim to be easy and inexpensive, but Phoebe and Cara really do understand the restraints of quarter-life cooking because they live it.

Peruse the site and choose a couple recipes to add into your repertoire – I’m looking forward to testing out the Inside-Out Squash Ravioli Pasta soon – and tweet me your favorite postcollegiate-appropriate food blogs.  A girl’s gotta eat!

I Am Not My Job

Living and working in Washington, DC means that you will encounter one question each and every day, from every possible person you meet – Who do you work for?  You might get a slight variation but it’s almost always phrased it this exact way.  In the District, everybody works for somebody and is trying to work for somebody else.

I tired of this question about two hours after moving here.  Perhaps it is because the effects of the recession have not been felt as deeply here, insulated by layers of government pork, but the job chatter is absolutely non-stopping.  I was absolutely floored last week at a birthday happy hour for a friend when her young, idealistic sublet-er talked at length about his work, not his actual job.  It was so refreshing in its naivety and enthusiasm, I almost felt like a person again.

Over at Huffington Post, Marlise Karlin posits that being unemployed, for a lot of people, can be a very positive experience and I think this blog is a testament to that.  Without having a job to define you, you are forced to start defining yourself in a way that you probably never had to before.  I was thinking back to a post from last year, where I discussed how weird it was to introduce myself to people without having the easy signifier of an occupation, but now I wonder if we’d all be a little better off if we didn’t identify our jobs at all.

I’ve been thinking about the young man from happy hour last week a lot.  He seemed so passionate about the civic-minded work they were doing and was so eager to integrate his own skills and loves into his day-to-day work experience.  He was such a stark contrast to me, where I believe very deeply in the work we do but get bogged down in the realities of my day-to-day job.  I’m been playing around with a post about the struggle between a cause you support and a job that drives you insane but this kid, full of freshly postcollegiate energy, made me wonder if I’ve grown a little too cynical about as of late.

New mantra for the week – I am not my job.  I am not my job.  I am not my job.