Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Glories of a Failing Economy

Disclaimer: in this entry, I am in no way trying to make light of the current global financial situation, nor am I trying to take pleasure in other people's pain.

OK, maybe I am a little bit. :)

As most of you are I'm sure aware, the pound has always been stronger than the dollar. And the Euro. And the Kraun. And the Australian dollar. And every other monetary currency that one can dream up. However, that changed last week when the pound dropped below 1.3 to the dollar, and is now equal to the Euro. And it just so happens that the pound dropped the exact day that my loan cheques were converted from dollars into pounds. Which basically means that although my loans are the exact same amount in dollars this term as they were last term, I now have almost twice as many pounds. That's right. My cheque increased BY 3,000 POUNDS this term.

I know the economy really sucks right now. But God, I love it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Making Responsible Decisions

It's not so easy being a grown-up. I mean, sure, there's wine and freedom involved, but I think today I finally started to learn that being a grown-up is more than that. It's about making difficult choices that will benefit you in the long run. For example, the last week or so I've been having some financial difficulty. Nothing too major, and I've now sorted it out, but it really got me thinking about some of the choices I've made in the past and how maybe they were not the most mature route I could have taken. For example, in college I built up a lot of credit card debt doing things that I didn't necessarily need to be doing, like backpacking through Europe and the like. Now, I'm not saying that I regret doing those things; I gained quite a bit of life experience throughout my various adventures. I think maybe there's a time and place for being young and stupid. But now that I'm older and perhaps a tiny bit wiser, I'm starting to look at the big picture. Yes, it would be nice to go travelling-if I truly had the money to do so. It would be great to take out a lot more student loans, but what happens when I finally have to start paying them off? It doesn't seem like such a big deal right now to make a late payment on a bill, but what about in 5 years or so when I decide I want to buy a house? Or even before that-what if next year I get a job in a city where I need a car and I don't have the proper credit to buy one? What if I don't build up my credit to where it needs to be in the next couple of years, and then end up wanting to get married? Not that I see that really happening in the near future, but what if it does? I can't bring bad credit into a marriage. I know this is all hypothetical at this point in my life, but to be honest, it won't be hypothetical a few years from now. And the time has finally come to start thinking about that. I can no longer be immature about my life choices and always opt for immediate gratification. Yes, it seems like a really awful prospect to have to wait a few years to start my PhD, but how smart is it to start one when I can't afford it? It's not like I'm going to medical school to be a brain surgeon; religious studies professors aren't known for their inflated salaries.

So I've decided to start taking the bull by the balls, so to speak. My current problems just about sorted, it's now time for a long term plan. I'm thinking seriously about donating eggs. I won't lie, my first priority would be to get out of debt entirely, but as high-paying one-off things go, it's a good thing to do. There are plenty of worse ways to make a lot of money. I know a lot of people have a moral objection to doing this; women only have a limited number of eggs, there will be a kid somewhere in the world with my genes, etc etc. But I don't see it that way. I see it as a chance to give an infertile couple the thing they want most. I mean, I personally think it would be wiser for said hypothetical couple to adopt, as there are millions of homeless children out there to love, but if they really want a child by birth, and I can give it to them and get out of debt in the meantime, why not? Like I said, there are plenty of worse ways to earn money. Step two on my road to maturity and financial stability-take at least a year off before my PhD. I don't really want to, but it's the smart thing to do. I need to find a job and save up money so that I can do this the responsible way.

Normally I'm not a proponant of New Year's Resolutions, as I see no reason why the Julian calendar and the position of the Earth around the sun should have any effect on our ability to efficiently resolve ourselves on a goal, but I guess if I were to make one, this counts as mine. It's time to start living like an adult and planning for the future. In 3...2...1..go!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The One With All The Pictures

So it occurred to me that because I'm too lazy to buy a camera, I haven't posted any pictures of my life in London, and it's about darn time I did. Worth a thousand words, yada yada yada. So I engaged in some stealthy thievery of my friends' facebook albums, and have come up with a succint photographic summary of my life thus far across the pond. They were supposed to be in choronological order, but they're not. My apologies to any OCD sufferers out there.

Michaela and me at Phineas, the on-campus student bar a couple
months ago.
Claire and me at Murphis (aka Murphy's with an I) Karaoke night
for Fiona's birthday last night. This is the legendary "Fiona Pose".

From left to right: Fiona, Rachel, Betsy, Holly, and myself at Blues Bar...November? December? Not really sure.

Kendall and I dressed up as Sherlock Holmes and Watson
for Andy's birthday party in October.

Reuniting with Manny C. over New Year's in Miami...

Lucy, Arianne and myself talking full advantage of Manny's self-serve
fully stocked bar on New Year's Eve.

Me, Monica, and "my" Manny on NYE

Seeing Manny again for the first time. Even though my arrival wasn't the surprise it
was supposed to be, it was still a great night.
Me, Claire, Betsy, and Rachel waiting to get into Blue's Bar. Less
drunk pictures of me have been taken...

Me and Fiona on our regular Phineas Wednesday night

All the girls-Betsy, Rachel, Fiona, Michaela, and me at Phineas. On a Wednesday. Again.

Me, Fiona, Jeff, Betsy, and Katie on our first night out as a group way back in October.

Jon and me at the Colliseum when we backpacked Italy in September.

Clockwise, from left: Dave, Genevieve, Jon, Janice, Swanny, Fiona (different Fiona), and me in Positano eating super-awesome pizza. We were all in the same hostel together, and thus befriended each other over pizza and trips to the beach.

That's all for now, folks! Hope that will satiate your thirst for pictures until I get around to actually procuring a camera...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Parker's On His Way!

So I just found out some great news-my best friend Grace went into labour today!!! I wish so much that I could be there with her right now...we've been through everything together since I was 8 and she was 6; it feels wrong that she should reach such a milestone in her life when I'm not there. But, we pull through.

Anyway. Parker. I'm too excited for words. I think I've said this before, but I find it amazing how much you can love someone you haven't even met yet. I'm just so jazzed to meet this baby. Don't get me wrong-I'm in no way ready to be a mom. There are a million things I want to do first (not the least of which is be in a relationship that lasts longer than 6 months). However, I am ready to be a proud auntie. I want to be there for Parker when he starts to grow up and becomes his own person. I want to be around to help guide him during those times when you just really don't want to talk to your parents about what's bothering you. I want to be the cool aunt that he feels he can connect to. Every kid needs an adult in their life who will be honest with them and won't judge them or be too overprotective; I want to be that for Parker. I've been sending letters for Parker to Grace for the last 7 months for her to keep for him for when he grows up; I really hope she does save them. I sent one over to him just today telling him what's going on in the world today while he's being born; the top 5 books, movies, songs, news stories, etc. I told him how old all his aunts and uncles are and where they live and what they are doing. I can only hope that when he's old enough to appreciate it, that will mean something to him. I told him how lucky he is to have such great parents who love him so much, and when he grows up to look for a girl just like his mom, and when he finds her, treat her just the way his dad treats Grace. I hope he listens. He really has no idea how fortunate a baby he is to have that family.

God, I'm so excited. I normally don't pray that often, not as often as I used to anyway, and definitely not as often as I probably should. But a safe delivery? That's definitely something I'll pray for. I always knew I liked kids, but I never knew quite how much until the news of Parker came along. I guess I am a kid person, after all. At least when they're someone else's kids and you can return them when they get noisy or start leaking, anyway. :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Most Important Lessons of 2008

I'm a firm believer that we never stop learning. I'm not talking about academics; it's life lessons I'm referring to. Life is, contrary to popular belief, actually quite kind to us. Every time something happens, bad or good, it comes with a lesson. The problem usually lies in the fact that we just don't, you know, listen. So because I'm a firm believer in trying to actually move forward with the knowledge that life unceremoniously throws into my face, here is my list of the top lessons I've learned in 2008.

1) If you work long enough and hard enough, what you're striving for will come to you. Maybe not in the way you expect, but eventually it will. The difficulty lies in getting back up after you fail and trying again. Trying to keep going after a failure is one of the most difficult and painful things a person ever has to do, but it will pay off in the end.
2) Be direct with people. Never stop being kind, but don't let kindness turn into falseness.
3) Be honest in everything you do.
4) No matter how many people you love, there is always room for one more. Love is funny that way; it doesn't spread itself thin.
5) Great friends are rare. A group of them is a downright miracle. Treat them well.
6) Overdrafts are bad.
7) So are credit card bills. Especially when you pay them late.
7b) Paying the minimum balance will only keep your balance from not going up; it won't take your debt down in any way. Interest sucks.
8) There will always be an "us" and a "them". Be very careful in making assumptions about the "them" of the day; human nature does in fact veer towards equality.
9) Gossip is destructive, and engaging in it will only lessen the respect others have for you.
10) Actions don't make people; intentions make people.
11) Just because you're bad at something doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
12) Age really truly is just a number. Maturity is what matters.
13) Surprise parties are almost never a surprise. But it's still nice to try.
14) There's a difference between knowing your talents and being cocky about them. The first is vital, the second lethal.
15) Every single person in the world has something to teach you.
16) Cigarettes will not in fact help you sober up. I learned that the hard way.
17) Some stereotypes actually do have truth to them. (I hate to say it, and no disrespect to my new country of residence, but British food? BLECH!)
18) Yes, it is really fun to sit in front of the tv in your pjs for hours. But don't do it more than once a week.
19) Having a straight friend of the opposite sex in whom you're not interested is a really valuable thing. When they give you romantic advice, listen to them.
20) If you have the capacity to help someone, do. It may inconvenience you a little bit, but not only will it come karmically full circle, but it's just the right thing to do. It's part of being a good person.
21) Take care of your body. You don't need to be a gym bunny or a health food nut, but now is the time when you should be taking care of yourself so that later you can retain the health you take for granted now.
22) Hobbies enrich your life and make you an interesting person. Make time for them.
23) Learn to recognize when he's just not that into you.
24) Read. Even if it's crappy vampire fiction (my personal form of crack), make sure you're reading something. Movies are great, but they are NOT a substitute for literature.
25) Every now and then, turn off your phone and spend some time with your friends. You won't realize how many hours a day you spend looking at your phone until you turn it off.

And my personal motto, if something isn't going to bother you three days from now, don't let it bother you today. It will only give you heart problems.