How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps.

Step 244: Liquid-ish things should always go in a ziplock bag before they go in your suitcase. Always.


(Alternate post title: Why is there fucking glitter in my toothpaste?)

10th Sep 2012 133 notes , Comments

Step 243: Do not act like an asshole anonymously

A friend of mine found this super-constructive note on her car earlier today. 

Look. This should be obvious. It should be really, really obvious. But it seems like it’s not, and it’s not just teenagers who do this kind of thing.

Don’t do or say shitty things to people anonymously. If it is so, so important that you be mean to someone (or legitimately call them out on bad behavior), put your name and face by it, or better yet, do it in person. Don’t say it over the internet, cushioned by distance and ability to shut the computer without imagining what that person’s face looks like. 

Also? If you hate someone, or their work, or a website so much, then just give them a miss to the best of your ability. Ignore them. Spend your precious and limited minutes interacting with people you like and respect.

10th Sep 2012 402 notes , Comments

Step 242: Make a good impression on potential future landlords

Boyfriend and I are in the process of apartment searching, as we will soon begin living in sin. Yay! So expect a lot of apartment-finding/cohabitation-navigating entries over the next few months. And here’s the first one …

Before we went to look at the first place, we (read:I) compiled a little fact sheet on ourselves, with full names, ages, pets, employer and contact info, past landlords/dates/contact info, driver’s license numbers, license plates, personal references and income info. We could then hand this over, or, if there was an application to fill out, we had all the info on-hand already.

Yes. I know this is insane. BUT. On the other hand, particularly if you are searching in a tight market, 95% of what you need to convey to a landlord is, “I am on top of my shit.”

A landlord’s interest in you is relatively limited in scope. They want to know that you will pay your rent, on time and in full; that you are sensible enough not to have wild indoor paintballing parties; that you are willing to respect what may be their largest investment in the world. So anything you can do to show, not tell, those things is useful.

Other than that … troll Craigslist like a maniac. Have a nice, proofread email saying that you think the place is beautiful and telling a little about yourself (NOTHING too revealing/identity theft-y, since lots of craigslist ads are scams) that you can quickly copy-and-paste for the places you’re interested in. Take the earlier appointment they offer. Be sure to be 10 minutes early to open houses, dressed like you are going to a job interview. Edit: Bring your checkbook!

Any other tips on how to make good impressions on potential landlords/up your chances of winning the apartment lottery?

7th Sep 2012 174 notes , Comments

Step 241: Facebook is not a good place to say serious things

 Since we are now tits-deep in Irritating Political Facebook Update season, a gentle reminder to all that Facebook walls/status updates should be treated like social small-talk.

 OK, not always. But mostly. Facebook is great for lying via omission about how awesome your life is, keeping tabs on exes, and exposure to worthwhile baby goat videos. It is not great for having conversations of substance.

The vast majority of your “friends” — people you went to summer camp with in seventh grade and someone who briefly dated an actual friend five years ago — don’t care what you think of Paul Ryan’s marathon misrememberings; they do not wish to see weirdly racist NOBAMA macros. If you HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO share your political views with every one of your Facebook friends, then try to keep it to one item or less per month. Think funny one-liner, not serious statement of belief.

Even more importantly, don’t hijack your friend’s relatively apolitical postings with all-caps screeds. Don’t argue with your friend’s other friends who are posting weird things you disagree with. Just give that a wide berth. No one wins the Facebook-comments-on-health-care-reform bickering game.

It’s not to say that political discussions aren’t great — they are. And more than that, they’re important. So don’t try to have them in a relatively silly, ill-suited forum.

5th Sep 2012 175 notes , Comments

Step 240: Figure out how to make optional things non-optional

Full disclosure: I am not yet very good at this. But I know it has to be done.

I have a friend whom I admire very much and for the purposes of this entry will be named Melissa. Maybe two years ago ago, she decided that she wanted to eat healthier, get in shape and lose weight, and she has definitely accomplished all three goals. 

Here is how: Sometimes, after work, I will say, “Hey, Melissa, do you want to go get a drink with me?” And she will usually say, “I wish I could, but I have to go to the gym.” This, obviously, is super annoying, because she doesn’t have to go to the gym, she wants to go to the gym.

 But this friend has mastered a super-important grown-up skill, which is to treat optional but important things as though they are non-optional. If she had skipped the gym every time someone asked her to do something more fun, or she didn’t feel like it, then she would not have effected the change in her life that she decided was important.

 This can be a variety of things: Cleaning your house is optional. Making a lot of time to spend with your family is optional. Going above and beyond at work is optional. Making sure to treat those around you kindly even when you are feeling super cranky is optional. But if those things are important to you, then figure out how to trick your brain into putting them right up there with breathing.

So every now and again, when there is something I really should do but don’t want to, I will actually say to myself, out loud: “This is not optional. Go do it.” 

NOTE: I picked Melissa’s example because I admire her commitment and ability to follow through even when it’s hard. I’m not holding her up because she lost weight; I’m holding her up because there was something really tough she wanted to do, and then she did it.  

31st Aug 2012 328 notes , Comments

Step 239: Vote with your money

And now, an excellent submitted entry from Mimou:

For me this one is really a cutting-edge, advanced, responsible adult thing I really started doing just recently. I don’t mean all those activist boycotts with political background. I mean things like appreciating good policies in companies you buy services from and not giving your money to bad ones.

Two real life examples: I’ve just recently changed my energy provider from a dick one to the one having the highest percentage of renewable energy sources. The second thing is moving my bank account from money laundering dicks involved in causing the global crisis to a so called ‘ethical bank’ with transparent investment policies. Both moves take just a bit of research, are easier than everyone thinks and make me feel good about myself.

Mimou is so, so right. We all get to vote, every day, on how we think businesses and corporations should conduct themselves. So next time you hear of one doing something you disapprove of, don’t write an angry Facebook status or complain to your friends. Or, you know, do, but then decide that, as soon as possible, they will not get another cent of your money. 

27th Aug 2012 139 notes , Comments

Step 238: Be good to your friends when they are heartbroken

I don’t know if it has anything to do with moving season or not, but now it seems to be breakup season. The worst season.

When I went through my own Seminal Mid-20s Breakup With the Person That You Thought You Were Going To Marry But Then Didn’t (SM20sBWTPTYTYWGTMBTD), there were only two things that made me feel … not better, exactly, but not quite as much the ‘I can feel the sadness everywhere, even in my lungs, even in my wrists, even in my armpits’ feeling:

1. Frozen raspberries
2. My friends

You can’t take the boundless, multifaceted sorrow of a breakup away from someone. That is like mopping up a flood with paper towels. But you can be there, to remind them that you love the shit out of them and that things will not always be like this and maybe sometimes distract them. Some effective techniques, after the jump.

Read More

15th Aug 2012 369 notes , Comments

Step 237: Wear your stupid seatbelt

Whenever I stop and think about seatbelts (which, admittedly, is rare), I think of two things:

1. The tiny, extremely excitable male nurse who taught a court-mandated seatbelt safety class I took when I was 16. “You are sitting in the finest trauma center in Oregon, folks,” he would begin, darting menacingly around the room before flashing an x-ray of someone whose neck looked like a horseshoe. “WE CANNOT FIX THIS, PEOPLE!!!” he’d shout. “WE CANNOT FIX THIS!!!!” he shouts in my ear to this day.

2. The way bodies look after a car accident, especially if they’ve been ejected from a vehicle. This is something I saw sometimes when I was a general-assignment reporter. My brain trots these images out all the damn time; they made a pretty strong impression.

Yeah, I guess seatbelts are vaguely uncomfy. But grown-ups take very basic safety precautions. Grown-ups wear bike helmets; grown-ups wear life jackets when they go boating. If nothing else, they do these things to hopefully spare everyone they know from feeling super sad and angry when they die in a preventable way.

13th Aug 2012 192 notes , Comments

Step 236: Be able to change a flat tire

This is a really, really obvious step suggested by many that until yesterday, I couldn’t put up without feeling like a big ole hypocrite.

I have awful, awful tire luck (thank you, post-Katrina New Orleans and a tendency to hit curbs) and yet my usual flat tire strategy is to sulk for an hour then ask a handy dude to change it for me. I KNOW. I KNOW. THIS IS NOT ADULT.

But yesterday, the perfect tire-changing opportunity presented itself. The sun was shining, the flat tire in question occurred in my driveway, and I write a fucking blog about being a grownup and so had no more excuses was feeling optimistic.

And you know what? It was easy. It took 10 minutes. I felt so damn capable. My process, after the jump.

Read More

10th Aug 2012 255 notes , Comments

Step 235: Do not put spoiled/empty things back in the fridge/pantry


Boyfriend: Hey, is that pudding still good?

Me: (takes it out, sniffs it, puts it back in refrigerator) Nope.

Boyfriend: Did you just put rotten pudding back in the fridge?

When you have determined that food in your fridge is not edible, it should go directly to the garbage. Also, if you pull a box out of the cupboard and it’s empty, that, too, goes in the garbage. Why is this so hard for me to remember?

7th Aug 2012 148 notes , Comments