I am now 5 days into the madness. I don’t have much time for anything but writing – and even this post is taking precious noveling time away (or food, or sleep, or other sanity times). But so far, I’m ahead of where I need to be, which is exciting, since I’ve never been able to do that yet in my three years of trying this. Check it:

I am not certain that this trend will continue, but thanks to awesome pep talks like the one today from Catherynne Valente, it might. It is certainly nice to have the padding. Today I barely made it past the 1,667 requirement before packing up my things. I enjoy writing with other writers – the energy is infectious (and there’s the peer pressure and word sprints, too, of course, which help tremendously). 

Also I’d like to point out to all y’all that NPR has an article about National Novel Writing Month. Uh-huh. Legit. They even did one last year, too. We’re crazy, but there are a lot of us. People who don’t do NaNoWriMo are always stunned when I tell them how many novelists there are currently typing away furiously for a month. As of this writing, this moment, there are 280,570.

Uh, yeah, so speaking of….

I will be pretty quiet this month. I’m trying to post daily updates on the fun new meter off to the right, on that nifty sidebar, so check in there for my latest. Cool? Cool. Peace out. Happy writing.

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Well, Sunday was pretty fantastic. After errands and lovely time with my boyfriend, I wrote like crazy and added over 5,000 to my word count! That means I’m ahead by a smidgen over a whole day. Ready? Drumroll, please: 8,533 words!

So, this evening I hosted a 2-hour write-in a few blocks from my office for two hours. That somehow got me 2,120 words! I passed 1o,000 and shot to 10,653! So I’m pretty excited.

What’s a write-in? Well, basically, people who live near each other get together in some public space and just write. All of this is arranged on the forums over at NaNoWriMo.org. So, you get to meet people, and you get to have good-natured word count competitions, and focus on writing, with people as crazy as you are.

However. This is my dilemma. Let’s switch gears slightly. I am flying out of the country, for eight days, starting Thursday. I had planned on not taking anything electronic except for a camera and watch, but thought perhaps at least having my cell phone on me isn’t a terrible idea. I had not at all planned on taking my iPad, due to concerns about it being stolen. Which would suck. But, I also have a lot of airplane and airport times. I think I’m on like 4 planes each way. What do you think? I like to think I’m a pretty wary person, and will guard my bag with my life (well…not quite). I’m not worried about the hiking time, but I’m mildly concerned about the city time. I suppose I could just leave it under my bed in my hotel(s) or something. What do you think I should do? (Reminder: I can write my story, and keep all my notes, on my iPad, also, and then sync it when I get home).

Do I get it? Do I not? Do I splurge on something that could help me a lot? Is that a splurge?

Thanks to my pleading call to friends, I have somewhat settled on Herman Miller. I’ve heard a lot about them. The one I want is called the Aeron.

Thank you to Herman Miller for the picture (screenshot)

Aeron has some renown in the ergonomic world. HM has a 12-year warranty, which seems sweet to me. Their Return policy is nice.

Mods:

  • Small Chair Size (not standard Medium; I’m pretty small)
  • Adjustable Lumbar Support (instead of the Adjustable PostureFit Support, for which I’ve heard slightly less than amazing reviews)

I’m thinking about my summer. More than usual, my summer entails hours upon hours of work at a computer, typing. Some of that I’d like to do at home, for various reasons. In fact, my arrangement at work, though not perfect, is far better than the one at home. After a couple of hours at home, I can barely move my neck, and the pain lasts for days afterwards. I know stretches from PT, and after tomorrow’s session (yes, I’ll ask about the Aeron), I’m not sure how much it’s really going to help me. My job revolves around writing (which I love), so there’s no getting out of that. Besides, I’m also a nerd who plays select computer games. It’s just how the world works these days.

So? What do you think? This isn’t just a “buy a new chair” – this is buy the new chair.

<PS they’re having a sale so it’s this week or…well, more money>

I started physical therapy for my neck this week. I am paying for it all on my own, which means May in general is getting really expensive. But it reminded me of a tidbit of advice I’d forgotten to share in my earlier post.

When you get a job that has benefits, look through everything carefully before deciding on which plan you want for health insurance. Many insurance companies have something called a Flexible Spending Account, or FSA. It allows you to set aside some amount of money that is not taxed and you can only get at for medical reasons. Often, this comes in the form of something akin to a pre-paid credit card. So, for example, that co-pay for the doctor’s office? The amount you have to actually pay the pharmacy for your prescriptions? Try to add up all of the things you think you’d like to have money set aside for. Look at the list of items your insurance provider will cover within the FSA. Sometimes this includes Tylenol, ice packs, contact lenses and/or solution, etc. Basically, whatever number you come up with, add a little more for unexpected costs like getting sick, when you’ll need a little more. This amount, over the year, will be taken from your paycheck. So, you get paid a little less but you know those things you need are covered. It’s a sweet deal if you work it the right way. Just remember to use it all – usually what you haven’t used by the end of the year goes up in smoke.

Unfortunately, I did not enroll in mine this year (bad timing), and it would have been nice to my own monthly spending if I had.

As for physical therapy, it is only covered (in part) after I reach a certain deductible, which is more than the total sum of all the PT sessions.

Tom-ay-toh, tom-ah-toe. I’ll deal with it. Just means I can’t save much this month.

I’m sitting here before you tonight having just made the final click of “Pay” for my student loans – ever. At least, I hope so. I’d be way more excited if I hadn’t been so confused by Sallie Mae’s interface. And also when that lovely amount clears my bank account…

So, college graduates: first of all, congratulations. You’ve worked pretty hard to get to graduation, and here it is. Well done. And hey – the world isn’t even going to end this year! You must have worked some magic through your years of:

  • classes
  • finals
  • mid-terms
  • frenzied 6am course registrations
  • stressful housing lotteries
  • great people
  • annoying people
  • people you were friends with 3 years ago and awkwardly aren’t anymore
  • friends you made yesterday and didn’t have a clue you’d get along with so well
  • parties gone right
  • parties gone wrong
  • parties you don’t recall
  • cool discussions
  • boring lectures
  • lectures that ended too soon
  • quad parties
  • impromptu snowball fights
  • boys
  • girls
  • too many all-nighters
  • one or fifty one-nighters

It’s all led up to this. This one day – no, couple of hours. A shiny piece of paper. All yours. First things first: it is totally natural to feel “kicked out” of college upon graduation week. Hey, maybe you want to peace and leave everything behind. But most of you don’t. This has been your community, your home, your life for 4 years and now everyone is scattering like the wind they arrived upon. Feel it. It’s okay.

My advice to you? Here goes. It is not comprehensive but it’ll do for now.

  1. Get a job. Skip to 10.
  2. Buy a suit.
  3. Breathe.
  4. Smile.
  5. Keep applying.
  6. In the meantime, keep busy.
    • Do anything -sitting. Pet-sitting, baby-sitting, house-sitting.
    • Try local stores for full or part-time work this summer.
    • Take an online class to keep your brain up.
    • Can you tolerate children? Be a camp counselor. Overnight bonus: you may not get paid a lot but they cover food and shelter, which is a plus.
    • Do something you love, or have always wanted to do but never had the time.
  7. Take a good, hard look at your resume.
    • Look up resumes in your industry. Read articles on how to tailor yours to meet that. Keep it short and relevant. Use action-packed words, not passive ones. Use keywords from job postings. Draw out any leadership roles.
  8. Keep applying.
    • When you start feeling really desperate (you’ll know), stop. I tried going the Government route. Did I automatically apply for 50 “Administrative Assistant” jobs anywhere in the country? Yes. Did I really want to be an Admin Assistant? Not in the least (personally). Was I willing to move anywhere at all? Not really. When I realized what I’d been doing, I stopped to take a step back. Did I get the job(s) I wanted? Nope. I re-started the whole thing with a focus on what I wanted and what I’d take for awhile.
    • Leverage LinkedIn and Monster. I got recruited by my current company that way. Join groups in areas you’re interested in working in and browse job boards and discussions. Join discussions. Do the same for organizations you’d love to work for. HR has their tentacles out, and one may snatch you (and even if it’s across the country or world, getting those messages alone feels nice).
  9. Work your connections: family, friends, old bosses. Can you do anything? Do they know of anything? Send your snazzy resume out. Repeat steps 3-9 until you reach 10. Roughly. (Or, go to grad school. Which I did not do, so cannot speak to.)
  10. Job goal complete!
  11. Find a place to live.
    • Living with others is cheaper but less private.
    • Living alone is expensive but all yours.
    • If you have time, think about all aspects of the potential place.
      • Accessible to a grocery store? Public transportation? Pharmacy? Hardware store for those first few weeks?
      • Safety: would you feel comfortable walking home after a fun night at the bar? What kind of access controls does the building have?
      • Commute time. You will spend most of your time at work – don’t opt for a heavy commute if you can help it, especially starting a new job. As noted in Tuesday’s post, it can be exhausting.
  12. Allow yourself to change. For some of you, this will be easy. For others, maybe not. You’ve learned a lot in college, changed your opinion based on new information, discussed world issues, but it doesn’t stop here. You will learn much more about yourself, your opinions may change a dozen more times, your lifestyle will likely change drastically. This is life. Let it happen. For me, a big lesson was about becoming “corporate.” I’d firmly believed that for myself, I’d never choose that life. Desks and cubicles, meetings, managers. Get me outside! But for most of us, life doesn’t work like that. And that’s okay, too. I’d thought, at first, “I’ve become one of them! Part of the machine!” and while that may be partly true, it’s not a bad thing. I make a good living sitting at a desk all day interacting with all sorts of people and participating in long meetings. I learn every single day. I meet new people. I set limits, and work to achieve a life/work balance. I look up events, both during the week and weekends, and do my best to catch a few now and then.
  13. Have fun! Never forget this part.
  14. Be confident: in yourself, in your opinions, in your skillset.
  15. Learn to cook and make your own lunch and dinner. It’s better for you (and cheaper) than skipping out to the local fast food chains and food courts. Trust me.
  16. Try to live without regret. You don’t get these years back.

That’s what I’ve got for you, for now. College may have been the time of your life – but the rest of your life can be, too. Go get ’em.

What are you most excited for? Least? What else do you want to know about “post-college” life? If you’re in “post-college life” what would you tell this year’s graduates? Throw a tomato back and I’ll try to get to it. 🙂