Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

If I Were a Rich (Wo)Man…

Tudor Style House in Berkeley Place Neighborhood

Image by StevenM_61 via Flickr

Sometimes, I hate posting on Friday. I mean, seriously, how can I follow Mandy’s ultra-altruistic post yesterday? Oh well, I’ll do my best…

I like to think about what I would do with millions of dollars. Frankly, I can’t even comprehend that much money.  My first priorities would be practical – pay off the huge amounts of student loans that I have accumulated, the credit card debt that I am actually making some headway on, and pay off my car.  I’d buy myself a nice Craftsman or Tudor style house in North Seattle, preferably within walking/biking distance to school. Unlike a lot of people, I wouldn’t quit my job. I feel that I can do a lot of good where I am and I worked hard to get here. It would nice not to worry about the salary aspect of teaching. I would also pay off my sister and brother-in-laws student loans and buy them a new house.  I’d pay off my mom’s mortgage and buy her a new car.

However, being a teacher leaves some nice chunks of time to travel.  I doubt I would be anywhere near home during the summer, I would spend my Christmas breaks with my East Coast family, and I’d spend the President’s Day week someplace much, much warmer. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, especially since Amanda studied there years ago.  I also would love to travel to South America.

Unlike me, my mother hates her job. Not the job so much, but she’s tired of working at a stressful job.  I would buy her some property somewhere – likely closer to my sister – and let her fulfill her dream of opening a dog shelter for those dogs who don’t have forever homes.  She would do a great job helping these unfortunate dogs whose only crime is existing.  I would start a philanthropic foundation and put Amanda in charge. Then she can fund her fantastic idea for revitalizing urban areas.

Now for the frivolous – I’d buy a studio apartment in Manhattan.  That way I’d have a place to stay when I’m in town. When friends needed it, they could stay for free.  I’d also buy a beach house large enough for family and friends to all come when they choose.  I’d make a significant donation to my school, particularly in the area of technology and to the library.  I’d also have a fully stocked classroom with the most amazing classroom library you’ve ever seen.  I’d like to go back to school to work on my doctorate in a few years. I’d commission someone to make a dog chew toy that Toby doesn’t destroy in less than 10 minutes.  I’d take up dance classes again and finally learn to play the cello.

And I’d definitely fly first class.

Now you can get this stuck in your head too…

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Rest in Peace, 20s

As you sit here reading this (presuming you’re reading this on Thursday), I am a mere one day from turning 30. The end of my twenties has come. Part of me feels like this should be a momentous occasion, like the passing of my twenties is some great rite of passage or signifies the death of my youth. I can’t honestly say that I’m all that fussed though.  It helps that all but a few friends have already turned 30, most by at least a year. Getting older is easy when you’re still the baby of the group.

Turning 30 is a bit surreal I suppose. For one, it sounds much older than 29.  It also seems like when you turn 30, you’re really an adult (though looking again at my friends, I’m not sure where I got that impression from). For me, and for most of my friends, our twenties were a time to go to college, have fun and figure out what we were doing with our lives. At 30, the assumption seems to be that you should at least have a life plan – know what you’re doing, where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. I can’t honestly state that I’ve achieved that yet. Work is going fine but I can’t really see myself doing this for the rest of my life. But at the same time, I’m not sure what else I would do. It just seems like for all my education and everything I’ve done, I should have that figured out by now. Looking around though, it seems at least that I’m in good company.

It also doesn’t help to compare myself to the previous generation. By the time my mom was 30, she had been married for several years, had my sister and I was already two. She had a nice, two-story, three bedroom house with a big yard and my sister and I didn’t really want for anything. By comparison, I have a small 2 bedroom condo with no yard space, which my husband technically bought, and I can’t keep a plant alive –I don’t even want to think about kids. On the other hand, I’ve been able to travel and do a lot of things she couldn’t because she had the house and kids. Life’s a trade-off I suppose.

As I watch the remaining hours of my twenties drift away, I’ve grown contemplative. I had an absolute blast during my twenties. Sure, there were bumps and hiccups along the way, but in 10 years, I studied abroad in Australia, finished college, moved to a new state, started my career, bought a house, started and finished a masters degree, got married and had found new loves in camping, skiing and scuba diving. All things considered, not too shabby a way to spend 10 years. Here’s hoping the next 10 are just as good, if not better!

Here's lookin' at you, kid

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The Year without a Spring

I choose my major in college specifically because it required me to study abroad for a semester (gee….what a burden). I wanted to go some place that I knew I might not otherwise get to visit later in life. Since Australia seemed to be as far as I could get from home, that seemed like the logical choice. At the recommendation of a friend who had just completed a study abroad trip, I elected to go to Melbourne rather than Sydney, which turned out to be an excellent choice.

I lucked out in a lot of ways throughout my trip planning. I got assigned my first choice dorm – International House – where I lived with nationals from over 30 countries. It was an amazing experience and exposed me to so many new things, and probably had a hand in informing my future career direction. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but most of the other American students I ran into ended up being housed in one of the on-campus apartments….with the rest of the Americans. Not quite the study abroad experience I had in mind. I ended up with a great travel agent who told me about a hostel in Fiji where I could stay if I wanted to have a layover for a few days. The hostel was part of a reasonably swank resort, meaning that I got all the benefits of this lush tropical paradise without the expense.

My course schedule also allowed me to travel within Australia a reasonable amount. In the 5ish months I was there, I went to Sydney, Cairns (a stopping off point for the Great Barrier Reef), Adelaide (which apparently all but closes on the Queen’s Birthday, which they celebrate in June instead of April….don’t ask me. I don’t get it either. Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation.) and Hobart (yea Cadbury Chocolate Factory tour!!!).  I was also lucky to have lots of visitors – my boyfriend, 2 great friends and my mom. I’m reasonably sure that I provided a convenient excuse for them to go some place they had always wanted to visit, and I’m ok with that. After months being away, it was nice to see a friendly face.

My trip wasn’t all sunshine and puppy dogs. Leaving was incredibly difficult. My boyfriend dropped me off at the airport and we said goodbye at the security gate. As soon as I passed through security, I had a mini-breakdown. I went to the restroom and bawled for a few minutes. Fortunately, my boyfriend had given me a gift certificate for Build-A-Bear the day before and we had gone out and built my teddy bear, who would prove to my best friend over the coming weeks. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, being 21 years old and toting a stuffed bear around the airport, but I really didn’t care. I also nearly died on the flight from LA to Fiji, and I feel that’s only a slight exaggeration. I’ve flown a lot in my life but never have I experienced such extreme turbulence. You know when you’re on a roller coaster and you plummet down the steepest hill and you get that weird tickly feeling in your stomach? That happened a lot as the plane would routinely rise and then fall. People on the flight were screaming. It was intense. I was squeezing my teddy bear so tight I’m lucky I didn’t squeeze him in half. My next mini breakdown came when I arrived in Fiji. Do you know how difficult it is to use a calling card from somewhere as remote as Fiji on a payphone? It’s hard and I was sleep deprived. And I couldn’t reach anyone to tell them I had arrived safely the first day. I almost cried when I finally got through to my sister the next day.

The weirdest thing about the entire experience was missing spring that year. I left Newark in February 2003 – in the middle of winter, and arrived in Fiji in February 2003 – the middle of summer. That was trippy. I stayed through the rest of summer and part of autumn and returned to the States in June….just after summer started. No spring. I am at a spring deficit. All in all, given the experience, I guess it’s a reasonable price to pay.


CIA World Factbook