Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

Notes on Adulthood: July 26

What I learned about being an adult this week

Every day we learn something... making most of these lessons is how we keep growing...

1. Always always always proofread sympathy cards.

2. It sounds silly but be nice to strangers. Today at the grocery store, the cashier said, "Thank you for being nice to me". There is a life lesson in there somewhere.

3. If you are in a relationship where you are separated sometimes, it is invaluable if you can make each other laugh. Really laugh. Laugh so hard you accidentally snort when you're talking on the phone kind of laugh.

I asked my husband for a fourth thing, something he learned and...

4. Coffee can only keep you awake for 22 hours.

What about you? What did you learn this week?

- Morgan

photo via Stella Dauer

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Adulthood is Always Changing

First of all, thanks for the great discussion on thursday's post on feminism and the modern housewife! This is a topic I'm sure we'll come back to. If you haven't been there yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Do you ever wake up and think that a year ago, maybe two, you would never have imagined yourself doing what you're doing right now? It happens to me all the time.

Today I am going to two birthday parties. One is for a very good friend's son, it is his first birthday! Later I am going to a party for our dear friend Mara's boyfriend. So this morning I ran around buying a baby gift and cards, figuring out what I could wear that would be appropriate for both, wrapping gifts, getting gas, getting directions... and otherwise being a grown up.

All of that is normal I guess, but two years ago I had just graduated from College and had only been in San Diego for a couple of months. Friends, birthday parties and babies were very far from my mind.

I like this exercise. Imagining what life was like for me a year or two ago and thinking about the changes. It helps me remember to not let this part of my life slip away too fast.

What do you think? Is it a waste of time to think about how as we get older, things change? Or is it best to just roll with it?


photo via abakedcreation

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I was Betty Draper

"...too lazy or stupid or unlucky to be the president of the United States"?

I read an article on Salon today called I was Betty Draper and I wanted to share it and a couple of thoughts with the adulthood world.

The author talks about how girls of her (and my) generation were taught to grow up to be Peggy Olson, not Betty Draper but she identifies more with Betty. In case you don't watch Mad Men, (how can you not watch Mad Men?) Peggy Olson's character is a secretary turned copywriter, the first woman in her office to do it in a long time. She is seen as a successful go getter who is going to make it in a man's world. Betty Draper, is a stay at home wife and mother. And she is unhappy.

The author's assertion is so interesting to me: she says we were pushed more in the direction of, "brain surgeon, judge, astronaut"... anything we wanted (or maybe anything our mother's wanted us to be) and definitely not in the direction of a housewife, which is for someone, "too lazy or stupid or unlucky to be the president of the United States".

I totally agree.

Read the article and let me know what you think. Discuss in the comments.


[photo via Mad Men and WhatWouldMarilynDo]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Meet Morgan

Thanks for the introduction, Mara, and thanks for linking to my guest blog from last year. I had forgotten about it and reading it tonight brought back some memories. I wrote it when my husband was deployed to Kuwait for a long seven months. It was nice to have an outlet at Welcome to Adulthood to write something... anything to try to express the really complex emotions I had about that experience.

That is what Welcome to Adulthood is all about. It is a platform to discuss meaningful things that relate to the art of growing up and being good at it. Mara has always welcomed guest bloggers and discourse in the comments section, but starting this August we will put in place a few changes to make the conversation even easier.

First, we will roll out a new design that we think will make it easier to move through posts by topic. It will also get a little face lift, but that is just for fun. Also, August will be our first "themed" month. We will release the theme soon, which will be a thread to tie all of the posts for that month together. We think it will help inspire us (and you) to really think hard about what adulthood is, and what we have to say about it.

Lastly, and most importantly, we will be putting out a call for submissions for personal essays on the monthly topic. A prompt and instructions on how to submit will be up shortly so get creative! We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section.


Big News!

I have a BIG announcement for Welcome to Adulthood. It is so exciting and will really allow this blog to grow into what it was originally conceived for: a place for meaningful conversations and collective experiences about adulthood.

In pursuit of helping Welcome to Adulthood actualize into the unique and exciting space that I envisioned in my early days of blogging (one year ago), I am going to be relaunching the site in August with a whole new look and feel.

The new design will help organize Adulthood by themes and ideas and conversations, and hopefully inspire everyone to join the discussions.

In order to achieve this dream, I have collaborated with a writer, my dear friend Morgan (who guest blogged for Welcome to Adulthood here), who has been a creative sounding board for me over the last year. She has hashed out ideas with me about this blog from the very beginning, and it seems so fitting that she will be joining Adulthood at this exciting time.

She is a creative and free-spirited person: the kind of person you just want to be around all the time because she is a thinker, and a laugher, and a smiler, and a listener. She is also a great writer and currently blogs over at Urbanist Guide as their food reviewer (how cool is that?!)

I am going to let Morgan tell you a little more about what we have in store for you in August and the months that follow, and also introduce herself.

Stay tuned! So much more to come!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Secret is in the Telling

“Do you promise not to tell?” she asked me.

“Yes. I promise,” I said.

As a child, a secret was something innocent. A crush on a boy, a hidden treasure spot, or stealing a candy bar. But as I grew older, secrets became more serious. My friends stopped whispering in my ear about how they’d talked to their crush that day, or how they had broken their mom’s favorite lamp and blamed it on the dog. Instead, they whispered about other things: sexual encounters, pregnancy scares, depression, drinking and drugs.

And then there were the secrets that they didn’t tell. The ones I always knew but was too afraid to talk to them about. The secrets that left rippled seams, tiny as a stitch--but not invisible.

These were the kind of secrets that involved excusing oneself right after eating an extra large container of ice cream, and then returning with pink vomit on your collar. Like a magnet, my eyes would stare at the vomit: that imperfect stitch that unravels it all. But I dare not look at it for too long, so she doesn’t think I know. It’s a secret I have known for many years, but one that she glosses over with jokes about indigestion. A secret known but never told.

These were the kind of secrets involving a sadness so deep that you can’t speak it because you think no one could understand. “Please just come out and meet me for coffee?” I would ask. “I’m so sorry,” she would say through muffled tears. “Not tonight. I’m not feeling well.” And the next night would be the same. And the night after that too. Until every day and night she was trapped in sadness, and the sadness gripped her so tightly that no one could get their arms in anywhere, even to hug her.

They were the kind of secrets that are held for so many years, buried and confused with guilt and childhood. The ones she can barely tell you because what he did to her over and over again was so horrible. The secret she held on to, through childhood, and into adulthood, until she was out of the house. Away from him.

They were also the kind of secrets about a relationship filled with mean words, name calling, belittling, constant hurt, and the sad realization that she doesn’t want to leave. "I know I deserve better," she told me, carefully balancing the secrets above her head like the heaviest ceiling tiles. "But I love him."

The kind of secrets that were strategically hidden above her skirt on her upper leg and were only revealed on accident when the blood soaked through her gray leggings. “I don’t do it all the time,” she said casually. “Just sometimes, when life gets to be too much and I need to feel something real. They really aren’t even that deep.”

Some of these secrets resolve themselves. A step-father was imprisoned thanks to brave girls. A girl realized she needed support to overcome her anxiety and agoraphobia. And, after a cut a little too deep, a smart doctor intervened.

But some secrets remained.

As a friend, how do you respond to secrets when you do find them out (however they are revealed to you )? How do you help a friend who is too deeply entrenched in their secret to realize that they are loved, they are strong, they are brave, and they deserve happiness? How do you help them realize that unless they are willing to become accountable for their own life, and unless they are willing to face their darkest secret and leave that secret behind, the secret will win?

And letting the secret win means trading your life for a life of pain.

“Promise you won’t tell?” she asked again.

“This isn't an innocent secret anymore. You are an adult now, you choose your path. If you won't change your situation, no one will do it for you. But if you choose to let the secret win, the secret will escalate and the ceiling will fall in. It always does. You will have chosen pain as you wait for that inevitable moment when the ceiling falls in, and even worse pain when the moment arrives. All I can do for you is be here to hold your hand.

The secret is in the telling, but this life is yours to choose.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Budget Bridesmaid: How to Pinch Your Pennies and Keep Your Sanity through 27 Weddings

I am used to big life events happening at the same time as all my friends: graduating from elementary to middle school/high school/college together. In the past, when these events happened at the same time I was always happy (i.e., “Yay! Let’s have one big college graduation party to celebrate all of our success!”)

Buuuuut, when all of your friends get MARRIED at the same time? That is when it can become a bit overwhelming.

Take it from me: a professional bridesmaid and wedding attendee. This year alone I will have attended nearly a dozen weddings, and I’ll have served as a bridesmaid in many of them. Here are some tips to help you budget for all of the travel, tears, dresses, and dramas that come right along with the rockin’ parties and joyous nuptials. Tried and true, my friends, I am an expert.

Manage Expectations: Tell the bride upfront what your budget is and what you are willing to spend. I was so honored and excited to be asked to be in the weddings, I didn’t want to damper the moment with the dreaded money talk. But, truthfully, I should have because some of my brides lived far away and had many expectations about dress fittings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and more. I didn’t have the money talk with them until things came to a head (they expected me to pay for travel, events, flowers, hair, makeup, and accomodations that I just couldn’t afford), and it wasn’t a fun conversation. Money talks can really put a damper on even the strongest friendships, so have them early and often so no one is surprised when you set your financial boundaries.

Camping Chic: Last month I went to a wedding in Monterey, California and most of my friends were staying at a swanky hotel. As much as I would have loved to stay there, the cost was just too high. Instead my bf and I ended up finding a camp site on the beach and pitching a tent and making a fire for one night. The hotel-stayers were jealous – they didn’t get to wake up to the sound of crashing waves! The second day of our trip (the night of the wedding) we checked into a charmingly affordable bed and breakfast in the afternoon, got ready for the wedding there, and stumbled back to our warm little room after the festivities ended. For two nights in one of the most expensive tourist destinations in California we spent less than $75 on accommodations…and we got a free breakfast!

Re-wear Dresses: This is more about being an attendee than a maid, but re-wear dresses! Really. It is okay to wear the same dress to different weddings. Who cares if your pictures look the same? The event is about the couple getting married not your dress. It took me a while to get on board with this one. Mostly because I love dresses and shopping for special occasions. But, if you have a few weddings in a year you can save big bucks by wearing the same dress to all of them. This year I estimated that I saved $700 by not buying dresses for every single wedding I attended.

Renting Vacation Houses: Whether with a group of girls for a bachelorette party, or a group of friends attending a wedding, VRBO is cheaper and often nicer than a hotel! They have houses all across the country and often include amenities like a private pool or jacuzzi!

DIY Presents: Instead of buying a present for the bride for her bridal shower or bachelorette party, why not make her something? For one of my friend’s bachelorette parties I asked all of her nearest-and-dearest ladies (friends and relatives alike) to secretly email me their favorite recipes. I made a little recipe book (you can bind it at Kinkos or use cute ribbon) and the bride loved it! Also, I gave a copy to all of the girls who attended the bachelorette party as a fun souvenir (because who doesn’t love a cookbook?) Here is the cover of a cookbook I recently made on Picassa for a friend's bachelorette party favor.

Do Your Own Hair and Makeup: You can do your hair and makeup like the professionals! Just check out YouTube for hair and makeup tutorials and you will save yourself a pretty chunk of change, and no one will be the wiser. My advice would be to practice it at least once before the big day, but before long your hair will be just as fabulous as if you had it done at a salon. Don’t believe me? Check out this YouTube creation I did for a wedding.

Hope these tips are helpful! May your weddings be merry, bright, and budget-chic!

(*)Author's photo note: The photos above are dramatizations. Two of my closest friends have recently gotten married, and since they love me so much, I know they don't mind that I use photos from their wedding or their bachelorette favors for my blog. Those particular brides are absolutely gracious, but not every bride has the same compromising outlook. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Guest Blog: When I Was Your Age...

I am so proud and excited to publish an essay by my dear friend Lukus. Lukus's other essay is featured on the Best of Adulthood, and for good reason. He is thoughtful and candid about his ruminations on adulthood, he is a great writer, and I am very excited for you to read his next contribution. Enjoy this one everyone! Let us know in the comments, do you feel this same pressure from your parents? Any and all ideas are welcome and valued here and I look forward to your thoughts!

When I Was Your Age...

by Lukus Williams

With all the poking and prodding from Mara to get another entry out of me, I was tempted to make this guest post about the virtues of patience. Unfortunately, neither virtue nor patience are topics with which I am familiar. What I do excel at is an argument, and that’s where the inspiration for this entry comes.

During what I lovingly to refer to as a parental bitchfest, my father was comparing the course of his life to mine in order to point out my shortcomings. His list of accomplishments is framed in that stereotypical formula used by parents against their transitioning children:

“When I was your age, I was married, had a full time job. We owned a house. There’s no way you could even have a family by the time you’re 28.”(I’m 25, by the way.)

Normally, my standard response is to roll my eyes and walk off. If I’m in a poor mood I may say something colorful in French, since he won’t understand (va te faire foutre!!!), but that can garner the wrath of other multilingual relatives who happen to be afoot. But this time, I tried a different tactic:

“How old were you when you moved to a city that was 250 times larger than where you had grown up, with no friends or family and hardly any money, because your parents decided to set-up shop in the backwater boonies with next to no opportunity? And how long did it take you to build a new foundation of friends and contacts, learn to live on your own, and work multiple jobs while going to school full time?”


“That’s what I thought.”

I share this story, not just as a rant about how my parents don’t understaaaaaaaaaand me (though they don’t!), but as way to illustrate how the definition of adulthood is a fluid thing, and the skills needed to function are always changing.

I grew up in a really small and hot Mayberry RFD town filled with insular, and just all-around weird people, and when I made the move to San Diego back in early 2006, I did it entirely on my own. It’s not that my parents didn’t want to help, it’s that they couldn’t.

My parents never lived on their own. They never kicked the tires on an apartment, deciphered a light rail or bus schedule, or pondered what life might be like when you can choose between more than one grocery store. My mom was 19 and my dad 23 when they got married. They moved straight from their parents’ homes into a two-bedroom house that they bought for $35,000. We’re still eating off of the plates and utensil they got as wedding gifts and the jury is out on whether or not I’m older than the electric can opener they have.

My mom learned her cooking, cleaning, and house budgeting skills in high school because that’s what girls in the Midwest did back in the 70s. My dad got his university education for a whopping $8,500. So let’s just say that asking my mom how to pay bills online and trying to explain to my dad why my student loans needed to be several times the size of that first home loan were very…frustrating conversations.

It isn’t necessarily that they lived with their heads buried in the sand and didn’t realize the world kept moving while we lived in the middle of nowhere. It was more that they were having trouble reconciling the outside world with what was going to in everyday life.

For my peers who grew up in SoCal, getting married at 19 then moving into a starter home are not the markers of a successful and normal start into adulthood. Instead, moving hundreds of miles from home, learning the dynamics of living with strangers as roommates, or even * gasp * living alone, have become the markers of adulthood.

“Thirty years old for us is twenty years old for them” says one of my close friends and I agree. None of us can fathom having kids before 30, and only two in our large group have gotten married (to each other). But if our Baby Boomer parents still insist that the standard for growing up is being a parent, or being married, then all of my cohorts from my dorm days are looking to stay Toys R Us Kids. And why shouldn’t we? With a ton of debt and jobs scarce, I know “settling down” is the last thing on my mind.

I hate to end this with an “us versus them” undertone, but when I get told to “grow up” by my father, it’s hard not to start seeing lines in the sand. The skills my parents needed to be successful young adults are obsolete. Society doesn’t exist in stasis. And for us 20-something, working-class, collegiate-types, adulthood means hanging on in an uncertain world and worrying that it may never calm down long enough for us to grow up to the standards of my father.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Guest Blog: Trading Slip-and-Slides for Cheesecake and Other Festive Adulthood Delights

One of our sassiest guest bloggers, Danna Belski, is back with a short little ditty that is sure to make fireworks the SECOND best part of your Fourth of July holiday. I had the distinct pleasure of eating this creamy delight today and let me tell you, it was i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. I would make it myself, but luckily I have my red-headed-Pittsburgher (Pittsburgher? Is that right?) who is a great chef and is also a great friend who shares.

And speaking of sharing, I have done a guest blog over at Nicole's fabulous and highly entertaining The Fickle Nickle which involves 4th of July cupcakes and a bit of analysis about adulthood. Check it out!

But now, without further ado, I give you…

Trading Slip-and-Slides for Cheesecake and Other Festive Adulthood Delights

By Danna Belski

Remember those Fourth of July picnics you went to as a kid? When your objectives were to eat as many hot dogs and popsicles as possible, and stay awake till fireworks? Those were the days: you did not wear shoes, you did wear your bathing suit all day, the hose to the slip-and-slide never turned off, and your favorite aunt would bring over sparklers and then your mom would get mad. Well, we all still go to those picnics -- only now that you’re all grown up your responsibilities have changed a bit: you are going to have to make something. Don’t panic. This recipe is easy, impressive, and is appropriately patriotic. Now go out there and remember what we have now that we didn’t have back then…beer! Happy 4th of July!

• 6 graham crackers (2 1/2 by 5 inches each)
• 1/3 cup whole almonds
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 2 bars (8 ounces each) reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• Pinch salt
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 carton of red fruit: strawberries or raspberries or both!
• 1 pint (2 cups) blueberries


1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, grind graham crackers, almonds, and 1/4 cup sugar until finely ground; add butter, and process until moistened. Transfer to a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Using the base of a dry measuring cup, press mixture firmly into the bottom and up sides of pan. Freeze at least 15 minutes.

2. Make filling and bake: Switch to dough blade. Carefully wipe processor blade and bowl clean. Place cream cheese, sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt in food processor; blend just until smooth. Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet; fill with cheesecake mixture. Bake until filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer tart pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, make topping: In a medium saucepan, combine red fruit, 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Cook at a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is jamlike and moves around pan in a single mass when stirred, 15 to 25 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon cooking liquid (no solids) for blueberries; cool remaining plum mixture.

4. Assemble tart: Leaving a 1-inch border, spread cooled red fruit mixture over tart. Reheat reserved red fruit liquid (on stove or in microwave) until liquefied. In a medium bowl, combine with blueberries, and scatter on top of red fruit mixture. Chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Remove from pan before serving.