2014 Bucket List Review

10647114_10152844527323760_2228545618988916624_nAs I build up to my 2015 bucket list reveal, I wanted to share my progress this year! For those new to the game, my annual bucket lists are my favorite tradition, a way to kick myself in the butt and encourage ongoing growth and adventuring throughout the year :)

2014 has been a wild year (though I feel like I say that every year). I moved to New York (Dec. 2013), started a new internship (Dec. 2013), walked in my college graduation (May), found another new job (May), got promoted in fewer than six months (Nov.), moved another 457931 times (Jan., May, August), and never wore any earrings (the horror!!).

I explored my city, vacationed in Maryland (July) and Maine (Aug.), and am bringing AB home for a much-anticipated holidays. Of the 65 items on my list, I completed 50 (woot!); and of the 15 remaining, five just don’t interest me any more, five were pushed to 2015, and five are still contenders for 2014. Hey, I’ve still got some time.

  1. Kiss my boyfriend at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Love you AB!
  2. See the new World Trade Center MemorialDid it on my week off! Check out the post here.
  3. Ice skate in Boston Common or Central Park or Rockefeller Center. Not yet, but planning to for the 2014 holidays!
  4. Do some DIY crafting to decorate my new apartment. I made these gold leaf agate coasters!
  5. Walk and relax on the High Line. Did it on my week off! Check out the post here.
  6. Figure out my job… sitch.
  7. Bike through Central Park (again!). I walked a bunch, that count?
  8. See the Lion King on Broadway in Feb. My holiday present from AB—amazing!
  9. Become a member of Kappa’s alumna network. Eh. Not feeling this one for now.
  10. Start my mini book club with Captain America and blog about it.
  11. Exchange guest blog posts with Sugarwoman! Didn’t guest blog for her, but did share some posts on Peppercomm’s RepMan and Innovation Mill blogs.
  12. Visit Coney Island. Did it on my week off!
  13. Go to the Bronx Zoo (Wednesday is pay-what-you-wish day!). Eh. Not feeling this one for now.
  14. Pay off my credit card.
  15. Ride the tram to Roosevelt Island. Did it on my week off!
  16. Go running in Central Park. April 18, 2015. I played with puppies!
  17. Go apple picking and bake something delicious. Pushing to 2015 list.
  18. Visit a museum (or two or three. The Met’s $25 admission is only the “recommended” price; and the MoMA is free on Friday evenings). Did it on my week off! Check out the posts here and here.
  19. Be in a studio audience. I went to see Dolly Parton perform on Good Morning America!
  20. Get a library card, and explore in more depth the New York Public Library.
  21. Slurp up some frozen hot chocolate at SerendipityDelicious :)
  22. Find a restaurant with amazing duck. Not putting it on the 2015 list per se, but it’s still a goal. I miss Parisian duck.
  23. Crochet something. Made this crocheted headband and scarf.
  24. Visit a winery.
  25. Participate in a class or conference. (Like Alt Summit in NYC, or a free online class). I participated in Alt Summit May 8-10! Find a recap here.
  26. Buy furniture (I know some people might not find this exciting but I DO!). Outfitted my new apartment, and got a super pretty new chair for my bedroom :)
  27. Walk at Northeastern graduationMay 2, 2013
  28. Host a dinner party inspired by a show, movie, or fairy tale (ala Heston Blumenthal, or Game of Thrones again!). Not feasible this year. Pushed to 2015 list.
  29. Eat a cronut.
  30. Take a tour or use a big apple greeter and get to know the big city. Big apple greeters are not available to NYC residents, so I count my week off, running around the city :)
  31. Try a new workout fad or class (preferably in the form of a free trial). Ballet, at-home workouts, new lifting routine.
  32. Institute a new workout plan.
  33. Take the “Captain America tour” of the Natural History Museum.
  34. Watch the Olympic Opening Games (I freaking love the Olympics!).
  35. Dress up and go to a speakeasyDecember 2013 (I got a jumpstart!)
  36. Weekend ski trip in March? Went with AB on his company-funded trip!
  37. Learn a little something more about various wines (Are there workbooks for this?).
  38. Send more thank-you notes, in general. Check out my favorite stationary here.
  39. Find a new perfume that’s all me (This one?). Still looking. Pushed to 2015 list.
  40. Keep a monthly budget and stick to it. Monitor pennies and dimes (with some fancy apps, etc.).“Help me, I’m poor.”
  41. Stop. Eating. Gluten. Meh.
  42. Do something worthwhile for the holidays (like volunteer and/or go home!). I’m going to bring my man home for the holidays!
  43. “Zenify” my living space.
  44. Keep to my “Perfect 10” philosophy.
  45. Live like a local, explore like a tourist <3 (more to come!)
  46. Whittle my makeup routine down to only 4 or 5 items.
  47. Buy a lip/cheek stainNot feeling this anymore.
  48. Invest in matching underwear sets. 
  49. Eliminate TV as a remedy for being bored (keep it to regularly watched shows). Read or write instead.
  50. Find a quality tailor and have my suit jacket fitted.
  51. Have my favorite boots re-soled. Love getting them redone!
  52. Hand make holiday gifts/stocking stuffers this year.
  53. Buy brightly colored pants (like these?)
  54. Set myself up to live debt-free in 2015. I’m well on my way!
  55. Make a new female friend. 
  56. Learn something that increases my professional value (e.g. coding, finance, social media). Counting Alt For Everyone!
  57. Purchase or make a new (artsy) camera strap.
  58. Maintain an apartment wish list so I can strategically and intelligently make purchases.
  59. Take before and after pictures of my new apartment. Oops…
  60. Identify and blog about a 2014 theme.
  61. Get a new pair of eyeglasses. Will do in 2015…
  62. Buy a living plant (herbs or topiary or desk plant?) and keep it alive. Meet Arnold here.
  63. Find a pair of work-appropriate jeans.
  64. Re-pierce my ears (After my right hole tore, I’m trying to let them close up). I don’t think they’re ready. Pushing to 2015…
  65. Do something crazy. I’ll never tell…

Cheers to a wonderful 2014! Stay tuned for updates on my 2015 list, but please feel free to share suggestions of items / adventures to include!

A Sneak Peak: 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement

NYE-1 copyI’ve been working diligently over the past couple of weeks to build out my 2015 bucket list, and a lot of the ideas I’ve been stumbling upon have had a 30-day theme… 30 days of going the extra mile, or 30 days of self restraint. So I thought I’d make a year of it. In addition to my standard tasks and dreams, I’m going to spend the year making meaningful improvements.

When I first shared this list with AB, his response was “It sounds like you’re just trying to torture yourself,” so I wanted to explain some of the background and thought process behind each month. Some are or will be harder than others, but as a habit takes minimum 21 days to stick, the idea is that if it sticks, I can carry over good habits into the following months. So as a little sneak peak to my 2015 bucket list, I present 2015’s 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement:

January: Month of using zero disposable cups or bottles. This seems pretty straightforward, but I’m a big fan of being environmentally friendly. I also wanted to start with something doable but still impactful. I will be carrying with me my Klean Kanteen, so I can still make trips to Starbucks and grab some water, but will limit that impact.

February: Month of drinking nothing but water (and protein shakes). AB made the caveat about protein shakes, because I would otherwise be lacking in my post-workout protein intake. But this means no coffee, no alcohol, no high-calorie drinks, no afternoon diet Coke, etc. It’s something of a cleanse, and I’m also hoping it saves a little money, too. I’d really like to limit my alcohol intake in the coming year. I find that while I enjoy a little wine or whiskey at home, I’m really tired of going out.

March: Month of no television. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that this will be the most difficult month. I watch a few shows with AB and may or may not keep watching these (technically, they’re online). However, I want to eliminate my habit of turning on the TV and browsing the web, post-work. I will instead read, write, draw, cook, clean, or call loved ones.

April: Month of meatless Mondays. My food philosophy tends to be “meat-on-the-side” anyway, but I want to make a conscious effort to limit my meat intake for a slew of reasons. Meat is expensive, detrimental to the environment, and can cause some serious health issues. Now, I don’t have a poor or meat-dense diet, so I’m not particularly invested in being veggie again, but I think that limiting my intake will help encourage me to be mindful of my consumption.

May: Month of twice-weekly blog posts. It’s pretty clear I’ve been struggling to post regular content here – really for about a year. I attended Alt Summit last year, which was super inspiring, but I don’t feel that I have a niche for MSW anymore. I want to actively combat that – to fake it ’til I make it by posting regular content.

June: Month of morning walks. I haven’t yet figured out how this will impact my morning workouts – it might be that my walk from the gym to the office counts, but really I just want to get out and spend some time in the daylight. Walking was always a good opportunity for me to reboot or foster creativity, and I’d love to challenge myself to get outside and enjoy a little fresh air. It might instead mean taking a walk at lunch… we’ll see.

July: Month supporting only small / local businesses. This will be hard for me, because it means to chains and no Amazon. I’ll still be buying groceries, as usual, but want to limit any discretionary spending, and force myself to be more conscious of how I spend my month.

August: Month without shopping. I know, I know. The blasphemy. Emergencies and food (from the grocery store) are allowed. Beyond that, I’m skimping.

September: Month without taking a cab. This is both to encourage myself to walk, and to save money. I spend a lot of money on cabs.

October: Month without gluten. Just shut up and do it. Ughhh. I know going gluten-free is super trendy right now, and for the past several years. I’m not in it to lose weight. Really, I think that gluten intake impacts my allergies. And I don’t want to be itchy all the time. I’ve tried out gluten-free and felt amazing but it’s an INCREDIBLY difficult diet to maintain. It takes a lot of planning.

November: Month of daily gratitudes. In brainstorming these months, I noticed a lot were about limiting myself. But during the month of Thanksgiving, I want to emphasize everything I’m grateful for – even the small things. This might mean journaling about my “gratitudes,” it might mean just saying a silent thank you at the end of the day, or it may mean doing “high-low” – a game of sorts where each person lists their high point and their low point of the day – over dinner

December: Month of random acts of kindness. And in the theme of the holidays, I want to extend my cheerfulness to others in the form of random acts of kindness. Everything counts – it doesn’t have to be a grandiose gesture. Donating when prompted at checkouts, holding the door for a stranger, surprising a coworker with coffee. Should be a wonderful year?

Inspired to try some meaningful months yourself, or write an annual bucket list? Share it with me or in the comments – I’m always looking for new ideas.

Once Upon a Time… I was a writer

cat-sleepingI’ve started writing this post more times than I care to count. And each time I come to the same conclusion: I don’t have anything to say. It’s a blank. The last time I wrote, I was a month into my new job. It’s been four months, the longest dry spell Musings She Wrote – and its predecessors – has ever seen.

Meanwhile at work, I’m now hurtling toward the six month mark, I’ve earned a place on my client teams and taken on increasing responsibility. Also, I’m completely tapped of creative energy.

I used to write because I felt I had some burgeoning, bubbling creative upchuck (remember ‘brain barf?’) and needed an outlet. And now… I come home and I’m exhausted. I pay my rent, I make food, I go to the gym, I work. I’m completely tapped of that creative energy. Each. And. Every. Day. And that’s not to say I’m running on empty; one of the few nuggets I retained from high school physics is that energy doesn’t die. It’s just converted into different forms of energy.

By the time I get home from the office, I’ve spent nine hours turning whatever creative energy I had into stay-awake-during-client-call energy, and into media pitches, into strategic plans and outlines, into social media campaigns.

And with what little (if any) energy remains, I convert into physical energy at the gym, where I lift heavy things repeatedly.

By the time I stumble home, I maybe cook. Or clean. If nothing else, I’ve learned to be grateful there’s not something else – a puppy or a child – in the picture. Being an adult is amazing, splendid, beautiful. And wholeheartedly the most exhausting thing ever.

At work this week, I was talking to my boss about a new writing class she’s taking at the MOMA. She’s learning how to write art critiques, just for fun – to engage the creative side of her brain that isn’t always engaged by client work.

I have kickball. I have the gym. I don’t have an art writing class. A while ago, I wrote up some steps to boost creativity, to beat writers’ block. Only, I don’t think this is writers’ block. I’m just drained. And short of illegal substances, and/or inserting a caffeine drip into my bloodstream, I don’t know how to combat it.

But I want to use my brain. I want to be creative. I want my art critique course. And I’m taking suggestions.

Step one was stumbling through the two weeks it took to write this post. I wrote something, and it wasn’t a list of tweets or a media plan or an email (actually I draft almost all my blog posts in Gmail drafts, but I digress). But I need something more. It’s bucket list time soon, and I want to look forward to some new challenge.

Calculus class? I’ll take it. Photo blogging a scenic walk every weekend? Sure. Painting? Drawing? Sommelier courses? How do y’all engage your brain? And how do you stay awake past 9 p.m.? When did naps go out of style?

Musings on Stepping Stones

photo1 (3)If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I had an “old soul,” or was “wise beyond my years,” I could pay off my student loans. All my life, I dreaded the kiddie table. At 15, I had a color-coded, five-year trajectory. I set plans, made goals. I wanted to escape my then-suffocating neighborhood and see the world. I wanted to be respected, independent, an adult.

Today is the one-month anniversary of starting my new job, and I just passed the six-month anniversary of moving to New York. And for the last 5 years, my life has been broken up into six-month increments—class, co-op, class, co-op, study abroad, class. I’ve seldom lived anywhere more than six months. As such, I’m conditioned to feel antsy for something different and new every 180 days.

And now? I have to schedule my vacation months ahead of time, and budget days off. I’m not complaining—I’m immensely blessed and grateful to have a job in my chosen industry, with no lag time between graduation and working—but what I wouldn’t give to sit at the kids’ table now.

Music for me is like scent for others; I hear the opening chords of a song and I’m suddenly transported. Well, I’ve been listening to country music all day. I’m not at my desk; I’m sitting with hometown BFF Bo in her VW Jetta, driving everywhere and nowhere at the same time—windows rolled down, Starbucks drinks sweating their cup holders, and country music blasting.

I’m homesick for a time and place impossibly far away. I’m not a carefree kid anymore (not that I ever really was carefree). I used to dance and lip sync to Beyonce in my Bo’s bathroom (there’s video evidence), I used to get giddy about being asked to a dance, cheered winning a field hockey match. This week, I celebrated the fact that I qualify for a higher credit limit, and I’m saving up for a move and to buy an ottoman. Oh, how the times have changed.

I still pride myself on pausing to appreciate the little things, living in the moment – the here, the now: a rare streak of sunshine in March, a fleeting love affair with a passing puppy, a cool iced tea. Heck, I once broke down in tears, marveling at the beautiful fact that my body sweats and can make me more comfortable while I’m running – I mean how amazing is it to live (yay, endorphin highs). I have my little moments…

But looking back, I’m a little bummed out that I spent so much of my childhood looking forward. Did I really need that seventh AP class? Night classes? SAT classes? The first time I took the PSATs my freshman year, I got a 1970; yet I still didn’t think that was good enough.

For my recent birthday, my mom got me a card that reads “Birthdays are like stepping stones to death. But the stones are really pretty and there are lots of bars along the way” (She knows me so well). I view my life as a collection of glittery stepping stones. And I don’t regret the time, energy, or anxiety I invested, because those small stepping stones got me here.

But by focusing so singlemindedly on improving and validating myself—to schools and boyfriends and internships—I was always looking down, searching for the next stone. Now I’m marooned on one big stone labeled “Responsible Adulthood” and missing the freedom of all that stone-hopping. Looking back, I wish I might have spent a little less time looking down, looking forward, and a little more time enjoying the view.

Ventfest: Bathroom Talk…

sb10068645n-001Other people have shower thoughts. I have bathroom thoughts…

I’ll explain.

The other day, I walked into my work bathroom, and had a very difficult decision: regular stall or handicapped stall. Now I know there’s some sort of twisted guy science to picking a urinal, and I think that there’s a similar science to women choosing a stall. I either choose the stall closest to me in order to minimize time wasted in the bathroom. Or I choose the handicapped stall.

While I was coming to this awkwardly timed realization, I started wondering… I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one with a tendency towards choosing the handicapped stall. But, um, why? It’s not a bedroom or a new apartment. It’s not like I have legs up to my elbows. Why, exactly, do I feel the need to have an extra square foot or two while I sit on my porcelain throne for an average 21 seconds (Blech, what poor person has to do that research)?

All potty talk aside, I decided it has to do with my culture – and I say my culture because it’s likely other people aren’t as “cultured” in this sense as I am. I grew up with brothers and have always felt competitive. I compete for attention, time, internships. I, friends, am a squirrel. I squirrel away, hoard, and fight to keep jobs, relationships, money, winning, stuff (why do you think I need Perfect 10). I keep score.

It’s a problem. I think.

This isn’t one of those posts where I wax poetic on how I’m going to downsize my life and minimize and revamp my intentions and whatever other advice I learned in my most recent self-help selection. I’m just saying I sometimes venture into the bathroom. And I have thoughts. And sometimes they happen at the same time. I’m also going to probably go against my intuition when it comes to picking stalls from now on, lest I go with the stall that most people contaminate.

You’re welcome for that visual.

6 Steps to Beat Creative Block

creativeblock1. Acknowledge it. You can’t fix the block if you don’t acknowledge that it’s there. So sit, dwell, and mourn the loss. If you’re me, that means writing a moody blog post about how my creativity is shriveling up inside me that gives AB’s roommate “the feels.” A lot of people will say that when there’s a block, just walk away and it’ll come. This is the time to try that approach. And when that doesn’t work, keep reading.

2. Consume, consume, consume. Just because you’re having a tough time expressing creativity doesn’t mean you can’t absorb it. Soak up everyone else’s inspiration to tap into at a later date. Read books, scan Pinterest, search Google for “how to beat creative block” (oh, hi), read through blogs, shop for clothes, eat fresh foods—all things that I find creative.

3. Ask for help. Creativity is a two-way street. When I was younger, I used to sit with my mother and hash out ideas. And even now, I love participating in group brainstorm sessions. Other people are a great springboard off which to bounce ideas. For me, this step meant reaching out to Captain America for some blog ideas, and reaching out to my parents to help fund my participation in Alt for Everyone—both will spur additional creativity and get the ball rolling!

4. Plan. If the words still aren’t coming, then there are still steps you can take to prepare yourself for when they do. I took the time to work with Captain America to build a preliminary editorial calendar, and look up unique holidays for the coming year to include in my planner as clever “news” pegs. I also signed up for Alt and am mentally preparing!

5. Cleanse. If this list were just for me, step 5 would simply be “clean.” I find that I can’t do anything creative—write, cook, paint, sing, think—when things are dirty. In my family, it’s called “Blue Rug Syndrome;” we had a blue rug in our living room and when it was dirty, the whole house looked dirty. This is similar—when my surroundings are cluttered, my brain is. So I clean. But this can also mean cleaning out any toxic excess, going for a run to cleanse your mind (or whatever). Anything that wipes the slate clean for a fresh start.

6. Now go. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, sit down and work at your art. With the planning from step five, you should have some springboards to work with. But sit down and try. Think of this as intense interval training. Write or work for 15 minutes and then take a break for 10. But still use the break time proactively. Read, go for a walk, look through old photos, do yoga, stand on your head for all I care—anything to mix it up and stir the imagination. Then put that imagination back to use.

Best of luck! Do you have any bad experiences with creative or writer’s block? How’d you overcome it?

Musings on Chalk and Celery and Creativity: My Quarter-Life Crisis

celeryWhen I was younger, I loved loved loved the 1995 remake of “The Little Princess.” There’s one scene when little Sara draws a circle in chalk on her damp attic floor, then curls up in a ball in that circle, fetal. This is how I feel. She was reeling from the presumed death of her father; I’m just having what I can only describe as a quarter-life crisis.

I just feel… off. Let me attempt to delve into the complexity of what, exactly, I’m feeling: I am a limp and rubbery stalk of celery. I feel completely drained of my battery; I have no backbone, like I’m wilted.

And I think I’ve figured out the root (ha) of this anxiety: I am homeless. The closest I can possibly come to my own personal happy space is that circle drawn in chalk. Sure, I have a sublet with great roommates, but none of the things are mine. A stranger’s art lines the walls; her dirty pink rug sits on the floor; her clothes fill the armoire; I sleep under her linens in her bed. And sure, I have an amazing boyfriend with an amazing apartment complete with amazing roommate, and I spend a lot of time there. But it’s not mine. I may cook and clean and sleep there, but AB never fails to remind me that I don’t, in fact, live there. The couches, my very first adult purchase, no longer belong to me. Nothing, save for some clothes and toiletries, is mine. I express my frustration to him, and he says to go home and have alone time there. But it’s not “alone time” that I need. It’s “me time.” The fact of the matter is I can’t be who or do what I want when my life is boxed up in a basement far away.

I’m actually on the verge of tears right now. This reality is excruciatingly difficult for me. It has detrimental effects on my psyche, and completely goes against my mental health clause. Because when I don’t have “me time,” my creativity dies a slow, painful death. All the things that make me feel like me—the majority of my wardrobe, my furniture, my cowboy boots, my yoga mat—are sitting in a basement. I thought I’d be settled in my own place in March. I now know it won’t be until June or July. You try living out of a suitcase, and in the shadow of another person’s life for six months and tell me how sane you feel.

I want to write a book, I want to tackle my Pinterest-inspired DIY projects, I want to ramp up my blog, I want to take up yoga again, I want to host a party in my own kitchen with my own kitchen utensils. Mine, mine, mine.

I don’t have the means to fix this right now and, as a result, I feel trapped.

I believe it was Maya Angelou who said something to the tune of—when inspiration hits, she has to scramble to write it down, lest she lose it forever.

Recently, my mother and I were taking about my older brother, a photographer and the definition of an artist. Many times in his life he’s said that if he is unable to pursue his art, it will—literally—kill him. And though I used to brush off his remarks as exaggerated and dramatic, I now believe him. When his circumstances prevent him from shooting, a part of him dies. I feel the same way. My circumstances—tolerable in small doses—are now stifling my creativity and my happiness. I feel the artistry bubbling up, but don’t feel I have the means to express it. My reflex is to either implode and curl up in that chalk circle, or explode and somehow find my escape—literally and figuratively. If celery can be saved with an ice bath, then so can I (right?).

A love letter to New York

We tried this once, and it was rocky at best. I was more infatuated with Snickers bars than you. But aint it funny what a little maturity (me) and hygiene (you) can do. Sparks. Oh, what love can do. I never meant to fall in love with you. I feel like I’m 12 all over again, meeting you and declaring “we’ll end up together someday.” I’d only seen your sparkle then. And though I’ve seen you fall apart (hello, 4,5,6 train) and mistreat me (hello, 2011), I only love you more now. I know your worst and love you for it. I love you for what you’ve made me.

This may not be a happily-ever-after story, but I know I’m better for having met you. Every time we spend time together, it’s like I’m meeting you anew all over. I forget the bad, blinded by the good. I never imagined myself with someone older, but you… dating you is like living vicariously through you. You cook French, and I see the Rue de Cler. Your pizza makes me see Naples. You cook Chinese and I see…whatever China looks like.

This is the most beautiful relationship ever. Maybe it will last, maybe not. Maybe I’ll miss you if I leave, maybe not. You’re not the clingy type and neither am I, but I know you’ll always be here if I come back—ready to fall in love all over again, ready to catch me, ready to wrap your rich arms around me.

Oh, it’s love. For now.

TED Talk Tuesday: Rethinking Charity

With my recent work at my PR firm, I’ve focused a lot on corporate social responsibility. It’s got me thinking again about sustainability and how businesses can generate a triple bottom line—soliciting financial, environmental, and social returns (Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!). And yes, huge companies really can do that. In fact, I’m reading a book right now called Everybody’s Business, which argues that huge companies are those best prepared to make an impact because they influence market trends and they have the tools that drive innovation.

A little back story: I was really hesitant to study social entrepreneurship, partly because I didn’t want to take a class with AB (for obvious reasons not at all limited to the small detail that we’re both incredibly competitive) and partly because I thought all that “do-gooder” stuff was idealistic. How, in a post-2008 world, can a company rely on donations from strangers? But my professor showed me that there are ways to get-‘er-done that make financial sense, too. So I drank the Kool Aid and jumped onto the CSR / triple return bandwagon and never looked back…

Until Dan Pallotta made me take an even deeper look. Philanthropies (which run on donations) aren’t a hopeless model, he argues. It’s just that we expect them to fix problems without the resources of huge companies. We expect them to draw talent without proper incentives. We expect them to have a zero balance at the end of the year, and spend a minimal amount on “overhead.” He argues: Why do we let for-profit companies “invest” in long-term R&D and initiatives, build their brand and team and resources…but not non-profits?

Oh, and he does it all with some endearingly self-deprecating humor. Enjoy!

Ventfest: My last Northeastern shuffle

photo1Shortly after attending AB’s graduation last May, when he graduated magna cum laude—you go, babe—I was informed that my graduation year would have different cum laude requirements. Namely, the cum laude minimum would jump from 3.25 to 3.5. No public press release, no explanation, nada.

When I reached out to my J-school dean, to my academic advisor, to my career advisor… they all gave me the “Northeastern shuffle,” kindly shuffling me and my questions/requests along to the next open door (Side note: after starting a new magazine on campus, and successfully weaseling my way out of a study abroad program—complete with lawyer intervention—you’d think I’d have mastered the Northeastern shuffle…but alas).

I had little over a semester to get my GPA to jump to 3.5. Which, I later calculated, would have been impossible in the time allotted. I kept thinking “They can’t do that,” to which AB coolly responded, “They’re a private institution. They can do whatever they want.” To say I was pissed is to completely undermine the intensity of the powerless, David-vs.-Goliath, I-want-to-freaking-smack-my-school-upside-the-head hatred that I was not-so-successfully trying to quiet.

For starters, I would be graduating only 7 months after AB’s class, arguably competing with them for jobs, and someone with the same GPA as I would be able to list cum laude on the resume. Secondly, it’s about the damn principle of the thing; don’t go changing shit behind my back, not telling me in any sort of respectable manner, not providing any sort of explanation for why this move might be a strategic decision for the university (or whatever), and not granting me the respect of listening to my frustrations. And thirdly, I graduated with a 3.48 GPA which is, like, thisfreakingclose, right?

Once I realized my efforts and As were for not (sort of), I pulled a DGAF moment, finished a glass of champagne with my parents via Skype, and washed my hands of the Northeastern shuffle forever. Then, last week, my mom sent me an email with pictures of my degree. And then texted me to check my email. And then called me. Twice.

Apparently, the blurry picture of a form letter which she sent outlined how I Northeastern had decided to grandfather my class in. When I looked closer, I realized the degree with my name on it had a very subtle cum laude underneath. Bow. Chica. WowWow. Never mind that I was thisclose to magna cum laude (under the old qualifications) Whatever, I’ll take what I can get. I’m finished. And proud! Cheers, friends.