Feb 28, 2009

Another thing that sucks about your 20s: unsatisfying jobs

I work for a major corporation in a cubicle. While I'm doing something I have loved doing since middle school (web design), I hate going to work every day. I hate that I have to be in my desk with the computer on by 8 a.m.—not entirely unlike having to be in my desk in homeroom with my homework on my desk by the 8 a.m. bell in high school—and having to sit there until 5 p.m. every day. I hate that all vestiges of creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking have been stamped out of my job, and that a lot of copy-pasting has been left in their place. I hate that I have five managers who, while not all directly over me, constantly look over my shoulder and play "the enforcer" role in our tiny corner of the massive cube farm that is my office. I hate that when I was asked to come up with goals for the year, things I could do that would contribute to our team, I could think of nothing I could do to branch out or to add something extra, because I have been so utterly pigeonholed in my role and been given so little control over my own work.

In short, I have your typical twenty-something job.

To put the job in context, my first job post-grad school was being a flight attendant. It was my real first job, and it was exactly what I had always said I wanted to do when I grew up: a job that wasn't in a cube, that allowed me to travel, and that challenged me. And I loved my job. It might seem weird that being a "glorified waitress," as so many people referred to it, was more challenging and more satisfying than my fancy pants current job. The truth is, though, my job trusted me much more to do my job and presented many more opportunities for growth, individuality, and for creativity. The thing is, I was bringing home a few pennies over $1,000/mo. and that does not pay rent and grocery bills, particularly when half the month, my grocery store was the airport. I was also living in Minnesota, 1800 miles from my boyfriend.

The job I have now was my way of accomplishing two goals that were lacking in my flight attendant job: make money and be close to Kellen. What I didn't realize is that I would be making a complete trade-off in terms of so many of the things I really enjoyed about my last job. This is a typical 20-something career choice, though. You choose between something you love and something that pays.

I don't really see a career change coming any time soon. The economy has most companies putting on hiring freezes, and I doubt I could get something that pays as well as the current job that would be anymore satisfying. And on the whole, my job isn't that bad. I like the vast majority of my co-workers. I like most of my supervisors, however much I do think they tend to micromanage and treat their employees like children. And I'm good at what I do, which...at the end of the day, most of my job satisfaction comes from the fact that I know I kick ass at pretty much every project that comes across my plate. That's important—it means I still have a little bit of self-confidence.

All the same, I long for a job that gives me greater responsibility, greater trust, and greater flexibility. I also want something that is challenging, that allows me to set my own direction with my work, and that gives me greater control not only creatively but also over the process. (I will talk about the problems with the process in my workplace some other time. Suffice it to say, the process at my job, as with most cube jobs, is inefficient and kills any opportunity for innovation or creativity.) I'm not sure yet whether I want to stay in web design, but...whatever field my next job is in, I hope it gives me a greater balance between something I enjoy and something that pays the bills. I don't know why this seems so impossible now.

Feb 27, 2009

Are you a 20-something virgin?

This study says that there is a link between waiting until you are in your 20s to have sex and experiencing sexual dysfunction later in life. That is to say, if you're not doing it now, you won't be doing it when you get older, either. Okay, well, not exactly. As this article highlights, correlation is not necessarily causality, but the things that link not doing it now to not doing it later are pretty interesting. Some suggest that in men, sexual dysfunction that starts when a man is young could cause him delay starting to have sex, as well as cause problems when he is older. There is also a link between feelings of shame and guilt regarding sex that keep people from having sex when they are young that can also cause dysfunction later on.

While those who get it on early on are not necessarily better off (they are more likely to get STDs, for instance), it does call into question whether the abstinence-only, demonization-of-sex-before-marriage approach is really a healthier view of sexual relationships than the alternative.

Budget on a budget

Get Rich Slowly is my new favorite blog. It is a blog devoted entirely to helping people grow their wealth in a very simple, common sense way. It's probably one of the best finance blogs I've ever read. Why? Because it addresses normal people problems in a way that is very straight forward and missing a lot of the finance mumbo jumbo that usually turns people (or me, at least) off to finance blogs in general.

As a person who has always struggled to strike a balance in their budget between meeting all their needs, paying down debt, keeping a healthy savings and (this is important) having fun, I found their post on developing a well-rounded budget to be very useful. The basic idea here is that 50% of your income should go toward your needs, 30% to your wants (my weakness is eating out), and 20% to savings or paying down debt. This is a good way to make sure you're paying for your current lifestyle (and past lifestyle, in the case of debt), you're making plans for a future lifestyle, but you're not letting your money worry you too much in between.

I really like this idea because it makes it possible for you not to feel guilty about spending money on things you don't need. At the same time, though, I don't make enough money to have 50% of my income leftover after paying for my needs (something the blog addresses, but doesn't offer very reasonable solutions to--moving or finding a new job aren't really viable options.) About 75% of my income goes to needs right now. I'm hoping that after I move, I'll be able to get a roommate* and that number will come down substantially (very close to, if not at, the 50% range.)

But until then...I've decided I'm going to give myself a ratio to work with when it comes to the left over money. I'm thinking for now of just divvying it up 50/50 between the two, giving me $85/wk of my post-bill, post-gas, post-grocery spending to put toward debt/savings, and $85/wk to put toward things that are fun. This is actually a very reasonable number for me because, for the most part, I never spend $85/wk on fun. And if I end up in another situation where I have to pay out a boatload of cash a month (for instance, when I ended up paying the entire $500 deductible on my insurance right after Christmas -- can you say bad timing?), I'll just take more money out of the fun pot. Like I said, I never spend that much anyhow.

I feel a lot better about my spending at this point. I'm beginning to see a little light at the end of what was starting to look like a long, dark tunnel, what with adding a car payment and extra insurance to my monthly set-up. Getting a roommate this summer and upping my workload (I'm going to start doing some freelance work with oDesk.com and also probably some web design work on my own) would definitely help out my pocketbook. So I have a few goals to help me manage the coming months. It's just a matter of not letting my worries get to me.

* You might have noticed I said "get a roommate" and not "have my boyfriend move in with me and take over half the bills." We found out that Kellen probably won't be living with me this summer today. Pretty depressing news and not at all what I wanted to hear. But I'm hoping this puts an end to my bad luck for a little while. Keep your fingers crossed.

Feb 26, 2009

If I'm ever feeling bad about my life again...

I'll just read this guy's account of his last year. He's like the eye of an F5 bad luck tornado.

Bad news on the long distance front

So Kellen (the boyfriend who is still in college) is part of a great internship program at his school. They provide two paid six-month internships with mostly local companies to students who are admitted into the program. The drawback? Prior to each internship, the participating students do a single interview with recruiters from ALL of the participating businesses. The businesses are in a range of areas (mostly in the major population centers in Oregon, although every year there seem to be one or two that are out of state), and students don't really get to pick which companies they go with. Rather, the companies are put into random order and the first companies on the list get to choose the candidates they like first.

We were feeling pretty good about the whole situation this year. Most of the jobs offered are usually in Portland and Salem, either of which would mean Kellen could live with me or be a lot closer. Last year, Kellen landed a job in Portland, and we got to live together for a full six months. It was wonderful, and we were really hoping for a repeat this year.

Kellen had his interview this morning, though, and said that a company in Eugene has a lot of positions this year. Eugene is about 40 miles even further away than where Kellen is now. So...still hoping for the best. I've got my fingers crossed that everything will work out. If he ends up in Eugene, though, I might be forced to rip every last hair out of my head.

Feb 25, 2009

Despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a ca...cube.

Funny Pictures
(Via EvilMilk.com)

Okay, not that I plan on going on a spree at work or anything like that, but this is hilarious.

Feb 24, 2009

I keep meaning to talk about my job or other things in my life...

...but it just keeps coming back to the stupid car thing and my finances.

Tonight, I opened up the package from the other lady's insurance company that is supposed to have all the paperwork I need to surrender my vehicle to them. Keep in mind that it's been 10 days since the accident, I had to return the rental vehicle tomorrow, and they just now got this information to me. Anyhow, so I open the paperwork, and all the paperwork is for the wrong car. They've got me driving a 1995 Mazda. I've never driven a 1995 Mazda. I never mentioned a 1995 Mazda in any of my reports of the accident. In fact, I've told the other lady's insurance company alone what kind of car I was driving at the time of the accident at least four times.

So why did it take them two business days (and three operating days) to Fed Ex overnight me the wrong paperwork? Who fucking knows. At this point, I've drawn the conclusion that everyone I've dealt with on the other lady's side--including the other lady--are complete fucking idiots and incapable of handling small tasks like "look to the right before you pull out into oncoming traffic" or "make sure the type of vehicle on the paperwork matches the type of vehicle on the claim." But, you know, turning your head or reading four whole words is super duper complicated, and obviously, it requires Mensa membership to do either.

My only questions now are: if they quoted me a price on the wrong freaking vehicle, will I still get the amount they quoted to me if my vehicle is worth less? And if they don't, what the fuck am I supposed to do?

Oh, and by the way, I'm dealing with an apparently kind-of-a-big-deal insurance company called The Hartford. And so far, they've been slow, they called my boyfriend repeatedly to handle the claim even though his name isn't on the title of the car or the insurance, and they've fucked up. So, if you're ever considering doing business with them, reconsider.

/vindictive company smearing

Please ignore the ugly layout for now.

I'm in the process of a redesign. And it's FAILING.

Feb 23, 2009

Something cheerful

bat dog

Just so you know, my life doesn't always stink. About a year ago, Kellen and I adopted a dog, a five month old beagle mix that we named Pippin. Pippin is probably my best friend other than Kellen. We hang out, we watch TV together, we cuddle on the couch. I talk to him when I'm too embarrassed to admit that I'm really talking to myself. (After all, he's a dog. He has no idea what I'm saying.) We've taught him a lot of tricks and today, he's a veritable circus dog. His most recent trick: playing dead when you say "bang!" and fire finger pistols at him.

Anyhow. This is Pippin, whom you will probably hear a lot about here. I also call him "The Muffin." Don't ask.

Feb 22, 2009

So now I have car...

Pretty much as soon as the accident happened, I started shopping for a new car. (I love cars.com by the way. You should try it out if you're on the market.) After all, the other lady's insurance company is only going to pay for my rental car for so long, and they're not paying the insurance on the rental at all, so...

I found an amazing deal on a 2007 Toyota Camry with almost no miles on it, in great shape, and best of all, it was green. (Green is my favorite color.) As soon as I was back in Portland, I went and took it for a spin, and put a deposit on it to hold it until I had the check for the full value of my Hyundai (a little over $6500). On Friday, I heard from the other lady's insurance company and they informed me that they wouldn't be paying for the rental car past Wednesday (even though they knew I would not have a check to put a down payment on a new car), so on Saturday morning, I went to the dealership, filled out all the paper work, and left a $6500 check as a down payment since this is what I will be getting from the other lady's insurance company.

There are only a few problems.

  1. I don't have the insurance check.
  2. I still have a lot of paperwork to fill out and send back and forth to Arizona before I will get the check.
  3. I will likely not get the check before my down payment checks have to be cashed by the dealership, since it's the end of the month.
  4. I'm royally screwed. (No, really. The name of the dealership is Royal Moore.)

So. Last night I applied for a loan to cover the cost of the down payment until I get the check from insurance. I'm hoping I'm given the loan. I mean, I should be. I found out my credit score is over 700, and despite the fact that the budget I wrote out last night proves that I'm broke, nobody else knows that.

All the same, I'm really hoping that I get the money to cover the down payment checks by Monday. If they have to take the car back, I'm 99% positive that my credit score will not stay so high for long, and...then I'll have to get another rental car, on my own dime, with absolutely zero money to pay for it.


Another thing that sucks about your 20s: relationships

at a bar. of course. we're 21.Relationships in your 20s suck.

In your early 20s, it's finding someone who won't treat you like crap. Then, as you move into your mid-20s (and away from college), it's finding someone who isn't moving to a different city, state, country in the search for a better job, a better lifestyle, a better sense of self. Then in your late 20s, it's negotiating a relationship for which the expectations continually ratchet up. When are you moving in together? When are you getting engaged? When are you getting married? When are you having children? When are you buying a home? Oh, fuck off already!

Shortly after I turned 20 (the age when it all began), I met Kellen, and at some point a few months after that, fell completely and totally in love with him. Of course, he wasn't prepared for this, because he was 20, a semi-alcoholic, and stupid, as almost all men in their early 20s are. For a year or so we awkwardly bounced back and forth between being friends and being something more than friends. Then we dated for a brief period, wherein he spent most of his time ditching me to hang out and drink with his buddies. Then, he realized he was probably going to fail out of the program he wanted to be in at college and stated he was leaving Texas (where we were both going to school) and going back to Oregon (where he grew up--and I didn't.) We broke up because he believed that long distance doesn't work, and then promptly started dating someone else whom he dated for almost a full year after he moved. I hated him and didn't speak to him for almost a year. Typical early 20s relationship.

at a party, boozing until we fall apart. still 21.Time heals all wounds, though, and after he'd broken up with his ex and he'd done a substantial amount of growing up, we became friends again via AIM. Months of chatting culminated in a visit to Oregon after I finished flight attendant training (did I mention I used to be a flight attendant?), and we decided to make another go of a relationship together. The funny thing is, in our new long distance relationship he was all the things he never was in Texas (although, they were all things I had suspected he could be if he ever had ever decided to act like a grown-up), our relationship was a thousand times better than it ever had been...but now we were living 1800 miles apart. I was in Minnesota, and he was in Oregon, still in school with no hopes of escape anytime soon. Fortunately, I could hop on a (3 hr) flight anytime I had a day off, and so there were frequent 1800 mile booty calls. Still...it sucked, because I spent most of my time sitting in Minnesota, too broke to go anywhere and too wary of snow to want to go anywhere anyhow.

Then I got a transfer to Seattle. I was only four hours from Kellen by car...but even so, it was still a long drive that, once I started working a normal full time job, would become substantially less easy. I would, again, end up spending a lot of my time in Seattle, completely and totally alone.

And then I quit the flight attendant gig to move to Portland. (I had a great job offer.) Still an hour and a half away from the boyfriend, but what was a measly 90 miles in the face of true love? True love is prevailing, my friends, but let me tell you. Long distance still sucks.

I have spent almost the entirety of my 20s being in love with the same person, and throughout that period, we've only had 6 months of relatively drama-free bliss. (He had an internship in Portland for two quarters and lived with me. It was brilliant.) Even after a year and a half of doing this long-distance thing, it's still hard to be apart from him so much, hard to lead mostly separate lives, hard to sit around patiently waiting for him to finish school so that our life together can finally begin. I hate conducting almost our entire relationship via phone (a medium I abhor), I hate that hugs and kisses have been replaced with text messaging, and that the weekends begin and end for one of us in a long drive. Half the time if he comes up here, he has to leave early to study or work on a project, meaning I've got quite a lot of time to mope around the house and be sharply aware that I am, indeed, alone. I also get insanely jealous--not of other girls, but of anyone who gets to spend more time with him than I do...which is pretty much everyone he goes to school with.

all grown up and boring. at the portland rose garden. no alcohol.It never stops being hard. Like everything else in my 20s, it seems to be one of those areas where I can never catch a break. On the upside, I've found the person I fully intend to marry and make lots of gorgeous babies with, and I suppose that puts me ahead in this whole crappy love game that everyone in their 20s seems to be playing. At least I'm not sitting home alone every Saturday night watching rom coms and crying into my gallon of ice cream pining for a non-existent prince charming. Or internet dating. (*shudder*) On the downside, I get tired of being alone when I shouldn't have to be.

In the end, my relationship ends up being a metaphor for everything else going on in my life in my 20s--I'm putting in a lot of hard work to reap a fraction of the benefits I feel I should be earning.

Feb 19, 2009

Dear Geico,

Thank you for giving me an alternative to the $200/mo. car insurance that every other insurance company in Oregon seems to think I need to pay to protect my vehicle and myself. I think it's ridiculous that some insurance companies expect me to pay them as much as I'm paying on the car itself in order to get coverage. Paying off one car twice, once to the dealership and once to the insurance company...not cool. If I wanted to spend $30K on cars, I could just go out and total the thing myself uninsured, then buy another car of the same value the next day. Or buy a brand new BMW.

So for only raising my insurance by $25/mo. and making it possible for me to eat and pay rent for the next five years, I pledge my undying allegiance. (Unless, of course, someone offers me a better deal.)

Much love,

PS: Up yours, Progressive.

Feb 18, 2009

Twenty Somethings in the News: 13.2 million "young adults" (20 somethings) uninsured

New York Times: For Uninsured Young Adults, Do-It-Yourself Health Care

This article is about young people*, largely in their 20s, who don't have insurance. What they have in abundance? Crappy jobs, zero options for affordable health insurance, and chutzpah. The Times describes these young people DIYing everything from inhalers to insulin shots to setting bones. The results aren't always good, obviously. Sometimes it makes the situation better, but often it makes the situation worse, with young people ending up in hospitals with bills that are even less affordable than the insurance.

Granted, there are some genuinely stupid people who can swing a multi-state skiing trip but can't afford the insurance to cover themselves in case of an accident. But for the most part, you're talking about people who are choosing between food/rent and health care. And health care is definitely losing in this deal.

*I'm well aware that using the phrase "young people" makes me sound like I'm 80, not 20.


my life in a cube

Via: My life in a cube.

A Day in the Life of a Typical Twenty-Something

It was Valentine's Day, and my boyfriend (Kellen) and I--strapped for cash for any serious festivities--had decided to drive out to the Oregon Coast to have lunch with his parents and see the aquarium. It was a quick day trip with a free lunch(!), and we'd get back to the Kellen's that evening with plenty of time to walk the dog. We got up fairly early, ready to hit the road. I harangued Kellen into letting me drive my car since it was about 7 years newer (it was a 2003 Hyundai Elantra--swank), and I wanted to prove that I could handle the mountain pass roads like a man (as opposed to the granny that I generally am.)

We made it into Newport about an hour later. We were on 101, a five-lane road, driving slowly in the right lane since the left lane was bumper to bumper and I was half-expecting some douchebag to pull out in front of me. Then, out of nowhere, Kellen shouts my name, and...


Just like that the airbags deploy, the car is on the sidewalk, and everything is fucked up.

It took me ten minutes to find out the following: someone in the packed left lane had waved a woman sitting in the center lane waiting to turn left through, and the woman went right on across without bothering to see if anything else was coming in the right lane. Which meant she pulled out directly in front of me traveling at an awesome 35 mph.

the carAfterward, everyone tells you things like, "Just be happy that nobody got hurt," and "Cars can be replaced. You can't."

The thing is, that's bullshit. This stupid accident, which happened because of someone else's stupidity, completely screwed up my Valentine's Day and in fact the entire rest of the 3-day weekend I'd been looking forward to since New Years. (Not getting another of those until June.) It totaled my car, which was completely paid off and had a $60/mo. insurance rate. It meant that I'd have to spend hours on the phone with insurance officers, hours in the DMV away from work (where I have almost zero time off), hours on car lots looking at new cars, and lots and lots of money to pay for a new car and the higher insurance premiums that come with it. Money that I don't have, because I'm 24, working a shit job in a cubicle 40 hours a week, and struggling to make ends meet as a single, childless woman who has taxes to pay in a couple of weeks, along with all my other ridiculous bills.

This day is perhaps unique in that it was physically, emotionally and financially more traumatic than what has happened on any other day of my 20-something life. But it's not really unique in that, as usual, something unexpected, unplanned, and completely not my fault has happened and dicked over my almost non-existent free time, leisure, and financial situation. Oh, and to the Boomer who pulled out in front of me: thanks for proving yet again, your only talent in this world is to screw over my generation.

This is a blog about a typical twenty-something and the typical bullshit a twenty-something has to endure any given day of the week.