Money Matters: A Sense of Defeat

Time for a blunt, honest post, hooray!

I just applied for a part-time job. I feel defeated.

I shouldn’t. I know that lots of people work more than one job. And I also know that D and I are going to need some additional income if we want to afford a wedding in NYC (even a bargain-savvy, partly DIY, nothing fancy one) in the next three years. While we both have full-time jobs, the cost of living in NYC, student loan payments, and (in my case) almost negligible pay increases after four years and a Masters, are all forcing our hand. D does some freelance work for extra income, but my job doesn’t have any natural transitions into freelancing*. So here I am.

When I was in high school, I went to a high-performing public school. I lived in a good school district, and was in the most challenging programs. For that reason, applying to community college was scoffed at. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. Going to college was seen as a right, not a privilege, and “college” meant a four-year college. It didn’t have to be a small, private one with resort-like amenities, you just had to be able to get your Bachelors without transferring. That was dumb and small-minded of us as teenagers, so why is my mind drawing that comparison once again? How I should be judged for having to take on another job when I already have a nine-to-five?

Applying for a part-time job to supplement the income of my full-time job seems like a failure. I get by just fine normally with the income I’m making (and should be thankful to have that job, to boot), but my take-home pay doesn’t give me enough wiggle-room to throw a bunch of money into a wedding savings account. Some, but not a lot.

More honesty time: I put a decent amount of money into retirement each month, in terms of the percentage of my paycheck. In fact, without contributing to my 401k, I probably wouldn’t have to get another job. But to me, putting money away for later comes first. I can’t imagine putting my retirement savings on hold for one, two, three years as I try to accelerate my wedding fund. Since I got my first job in retail as a 16-year-old, my family has always emphasized the importance of saving for later on (and that was before the recession, remember back in the day when people had job security and could afford mortgage payments?).

So, okay. I probably don’t need a part-time job. I’m not scrimping and saving and living paycheck-to-paycheck, and I don’t want it to sound like I am. I just didn’t expect to need to make the decision between drastically changing my lifestyle (not going out with friends on weekends or buying books) and getting another job to help me pay for a party I want all of my friends and family to enjoy. And I’m not going to cut corners on that, because you only get married once and I’d rather work a few extra hours to invite more friends than not.

I sort of liked working in retail. It won’t be so bad. I’m being pickier than I should be in applying for positions, so who knows if I’ll even find something. If not, there are other options: creating a super-successful niche blog and monetizing. Winning the lottery. Removing my credit card from Amazon.com so I don’t buy books for Kindle every two days.

I can do this. Even writing it down I feel better. So thanks for reading.

*A friend of mine suggested helping families fill out their FAFSA (financial aid) forms. While I am unfortunately an expert at that, I would feel terrible charging people for advice/assistance they should be able to get for free. Those that need the most help with their FAFSA are the ones least likely to have extra money around to pay a consultant. So I suppose I do have some work skills that lend themselves to consulting or freelancing, but none that I wouldn’t feel guilty charging for.

A Weekend in Montreal – Part 2: Mmm, Beer

In addition to getting engaged on my trip to Montreal, D and I had plans to hit up a few microbreweries. We both love craft beer (we’re spoiled living in Brooklyn where it’s almost as readily available as water), and I found a few places to check out that I was looking forward to.

If you don’t like beer, you probably won’t care about this post. There, I said it. I’m just going to talk about how awesome beer is. I have a special place in my heart for beer posts since my second post overall on this blog was about beer and somehow ended up Freshly Pressed.

Vices et Versa. We went to Little Italy on Friday night, and unfortunately it was raining the entire time. After walking around a bit and checking out the iconic outside staircases, we made our way over to the bar. It looked homey, and I looked like a wet dog (somehow no one else did! How does that happen?!), and after looking at the chalkboard of beer offerings, we realized two things:

  1. They didn’t make their own beers, which was okay because
  2. They had an amazing selection. Seriously. There were more than 30 beers to choose from, and they all sounded wonderful.
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Looking at that beer list gets me happy all over again.

I ended up going for an IPA (that’s my usual go-to, I suppose, unless there is a coffee porter on the menu). The Yakima IPA is brewed by Le Castor right in Quebec, and it was excellent. It was nice and light for a humid summer evening, but had enough of a bitter taste to make it a sipper.

Benelux Brewpub. Later on Friday, we headed to Benelux. It was just a few blocks away from our hotel, and while I’d read that it was a bit college-y (being near McGill and all), I was hopeful that during the summer break, it would be less so. Bingo. Even though we got there around 10PM on Friday, we were able to grab a table and the waitress came over right away.

Sidenote: Not used to waitresses at bars. I know that’s weird, but usually we just find a table, go up and order a drink, and then sit back down. It was kind of nice not having to elbow in and grab a bartender’s attention.

At Benelux, I got their Benelux saison, brewed on site. Being a saison, It was a one-shot brew, so I’m not sure if even now it is there anymore. I think that’s okay. Of the beers we had over the weekend, this one was probably my least favorite. Not that it was bad, it was okay, but nothing special. The pub itself was nice though: lots of tables and communal seating, great service, and a lovely place to people-watch. They have a sizable outdoor space, but it was a little bit chilly so the inside was just fine.

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I was going to use this photo to send to friends being like, “Surprise!”, but then my hand was so much bigger than everything else and I felt awkward. Just look at the color of that beer! And 20oz of it!

Dieu du Ciel!  On Saturday (after I watched D eat a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz’s and he watched me eat a black bean/plantain arepa from Arepera du Plateau) we headed to DdC in the “trendy” Plateau Mont-Royal area.

Sidenote: I’m not sure if it’s actually considered trendy to locals, the tour books just say that. Don’t hold it against me.

I was a little distracted from the developments of earlier in the day to take any tasting notes, but I did try two beers: the Elixir Celeste (a Pilsner) and the Resurrection porter. Is there any way to petition that Brooklyn start serving 20oz “pints” also? Because that was pretty swell. DdC was phenomenal, both of my beers were well-rounded and fresh. I had a few sips of the beers that D got and they were great as well. If I could choose one of the three bars to transplant to New York, this would be it.

We ended up getting a more modest 12oz glass of our 2nd beer. My porter looks like iced coffee and tasted even better.

We ended up getting a more modest 12oz glass of our 2nd beer. My porter looks like iced coffee and tasted even better.

They were busy, but I have to commend the bartender on being super attentive to those sitting at the bar as well as filling orders at the same time. Watching the constant fill/level/serve motion was sort of mesmerizing.

Overall, I’m glad we did a little research ahead of time and picked out some great microbreweries. Montreal was pretty freaking awesome, and their beer was equally great. Go, try some.

P.S. Yes, we did go to other places, we tried poutine and climbed the clock tower at Old Port. But no one wants to read three separate posts about a three-day vacation.

P.P.S. Sorry for the blurriness of the photos. I hate looking like a tourist, so I snapped these without a flash and tried to keep as steady a hand as possible. Even blurry the beer looks good though, right?

A Weekend in Montreal – Part 1

This is the time of year I take vacation: some of my vacation days expire next month, so for the last few years I’ve tried taking a weekend away, followed by a staycation. Last year was Washington DC, this year I decided on Montreal.

I picked out a few microbreweries (that’s another post for another time!) and on Saturday D and I went to the Montreal Musee de Beaux Arts before walking up to the summit of Mont Royal. We made our way to the summit, which turned out to be nothing but a cell phone tower!

Lame.

D found us another path to head back to street-level, and we stopped at a different viewing point on the way to Belvédère Camillien-Houde. It was worth the short detour: when I turned around, he asked for my hand and put a ring on it.

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We waited for other tourists to show up so they could take a photo. They said “the lighting isn’t good here,” and my answer was, “it’s okay, I’ll just fix it up in Photoshop!”.

So, that was a pretty good day. Besides that, we toured Old Port and Old Montreal on Sunday, ate some poutine, got some maple gelato, and drank many delicious beers. All in all, a pretty good weekend.

 

Writing in Transit: The Anger

I received some bad news from a friend right before I got on the subway this past Thursday night: they had gotten laid off at their job, a company that hadn’t made any mention of impending layoffs until, well, they said pack your things and here’s your severance package.

I was angry, I was upset, I was frustrated that someone with talent and promise could be cut down so suddenly. No notice, no warning, no “just a heads up, you may want to start looking for jobs elsewhere”. I was figuratively seething, but I’m almost positive that if I looked in a mirror, you could see the steam coming out of my ears.

Almost blind with anger, I walked a few extra blocks to catch the express instead of the local. Walking it off didn’t really help, so I sat down on the subway and just stared into space. I was torn between feeling thankful it wasn’t me, and then feeling bad that it had to be anyone at all.

The young couple across from me was having a grand old time playing a game together on one of their phones. It was cute, something D and I would probably do, but I found it so grating. How on Earth could they be so nonchalant? How were they so blase about this terrible news? Of course they didn’t know, of course they had no way of knowing, but that didn’t make a difference: I wanted everyone to be upset along with me.

I’m sure I glared. They didn’t look up, and I was thankful for that: I’m not that kind of person. I don’t let my emotions show easily (in public, anyway), and I’m not one to force my emotions on others. But for some reason, that night, I just wanted everyone to be sad along with me, and watching others being actively cheerful was frustrating.

And then I thought about how layoffs happen every single goshdarn day, and I’ve been lucky not to know anyone personally that’s had to go through one. And then I thought about how often people get on the subway upset, or annoyed, or angry, and I never notice. How I sit there, smiling at a good book or laughing at a comment from a friend, and these strangers are going through their own unfriendly emotions.

So by the time my train had made its way to the Manhattan Bridge, I had reconciled (in my head) with the couple across from me. Because maybe they’d both had horrible days earlier in the week and they were glad to have a light-hearted train ride. And because they weren’t deserving of my wrath anyway.

Just how many eggs did Gaston eat? A not-so-critical analysis.

We all know the lyrics to the song “Gaston” in Beauty and the Beast:

When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs
Ev’ry morning to help me get large
And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs
So I’m roughly the size of a barge!

This morning when I was brushing my teeth I decided I needed to figure out just how many eggs that was. As someone that sticks to “eggs whites only, please” when I order omelettes, and who has a family history of high cholesterol, I shudder to think what his LDL levels are. So I opened Notepad and Calculator (thank you, trusty comes-with-Windows-programs!) and got to work.

I realized quickly this wasn’t going to be an exact number: Gaston’s age is nowhere to be found. It’s never stated in the movie, and he isn’t even in the original fairy tale. Belle’s suitor was added to as part of a French version of the story in 1946, and there is no indication of his age. So from the get-go, any number I come up with is going to be an estimate, bummer. That won’t stop me, though!

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So how old is Gaston? I’m going to put him at about thirty. In his quest to find a wife, we’re never given any indication that he’s been married before; for a catch like Gaston, I can’t imagine he can be much older than that while still remaining a bachelor. He seems to have had a decent amount of life experience so far, but when you look at it, these experiences seem limited to hunting and drinking. Perhaps he’s a younger brother, or at the very least, his father is still alive and he hasn’t had the responsibilities of running an estate. I would say that thirty might be a bit high, but he just looks older than his early-twenties, which is where I would place someone who has left school and hasn’t needed to do anything but take on superficial pursuits.

Okay, so, we’ll say he’s thirty. Now we just have to figure out at which point he’s “grown” and transitions from four to five dozen eggs per day. On this one, I debated between thirteen and eighteen. In eighteenth century France, the Catholic church still had a stronghold and Gaston probably went through the ritualistic confirmation at adolescence instead of infancy. That being said, while he was grown in the eyes of the church, I feel like he may not have been “grown” enough in terms of brawn to grab that extra carton of eggs every day. Let’s go with “grown” being eighteen.

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Assuming that for the first two years of his life he wasn’t eating many “real” foods, much less eggs, the numbers are as follows:

  • 0 – 2 years = 0 eggs/day
  • 2 – 18 years = 48 eggs/day
  • 18 – 30 years = 60 eggs/day

Taking into account leap years, I’ll add four February 29ths to his childhood, and another three of them to adulthood.

  • 48 eggs/day x 365 days x 16 years = 280,320 + (48 x 4) = 280,512
  • 60 eggs/day x 365 days x 12 years = 262,800 + (48 x 3) = 262, 980

Total eggs: 543, 492

Holy smokes.

Even with some estimates, that’s still a ton of eggs. Gaston, no wonder you’re roughly the size of a barge!