Tag Archives: family

Decisions, Decisions


By Nicole Hosette

Many post-grads make plans to move somewhere new after college. They move back in with their parents, take a job in a new place, or simply decide to take up residence somewhere fresh. In my case, the decision to move from Iowa to the Boston area took months to make, and I didn’t make it alone.

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently moved to Massachusetts with my boyfriend, Peter. We both graduated in May. He knew he wanted to get his PhD in physics, while I knew I didn’t want to go to grad school (at least right away). And after being together for four years, we knew we wanted to be somewhere new together. So it made sense that I would follow him wherever he went to school.

In December of last year, he started applying for grad school. It was a crazy, stressful time for him, as it meant filling out forms, writing essays, and securing letters of recommendation on top of his heavy course load. He applied to nearly ten schools, both Ivy League and state universities.

He got into his safety schools, and to his relief, most of his top picks as well.

In the end, the decision came down to two schools, University of Chicago, or Harvard. So we made a massive pro/con list and took everything we could think of into account – locations, cost of living, family factors, crime, job opportunities for me, and each school’s respective physics program.

For a month, he changed his mind at least every other day. I was pulling for Chicago from the beginning – I had spent a lot of time there, both visiting and inhabiting, so I knew the city’s offerings and limitations. I knew that my job prospects would be decent, and that I already loved living there. I knew it would be cheaper to live there and that I would be able to easily make the three hour drive back to Iowa to see my family and friends. But I also knew that Chicago would be my ideal place to “settle,” and I didn’t want to settle yet.

Eventually Peter made his decision, and he wanted to go to Harvard. The physics program would give him more opportunities. And, as he admits, he is a kind of nomad at heart, so he was getting restless in the Midwest. He already knew what Chicago had to offer and wanted a place with completely new opportunities.

In time, he convinced me that Massachusetts was right for us. We made budgets to make sure we could live off of his grad-student stipend in case my job search went badly. We took note of all of the cultural offerings of Boston (which excited the historian in me). I knew I wouldn’t be unhappy there, and I knew he would regret it if we didn’t go. So we went.

Our relocation wasn’t easy, but so far I don’t regret it. I hate that most of our friends are still together in Iowa City while I’m here basically alone. But I know that time will fix that. I miss having my car, but I like that I can walk practically anywhere I need to go. I absolutely love all of the things to do in my new place, and all of the new things I can try.

Be warned: even if you’re ready for it, making a move this huge will probably be hard. And, if you’re anywhere near as indecisive as I am, the decision will be just as difficult. But you’re a post-grad now – in theory, you have tons of opportunities ahead of you, even if the job market seems to disagree.

Maybe that’s me being the optimist, but for now, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I haven’t had that beaten out of me yet.

Family Trip


When I was away at school, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, pretty much whenever I wanted. As it happened there were quite a few times where I did nothing at all, but I even enjoyed that option, because it was mine and mine alone. Weekends would come, mostly in the winter, and if I did not want to leave my bed the entire time, I did not. Easter would roll around, and I wouldn’t return home if I did not want to. I would find somewhere else to spend the holiday (Dinner with my then-boyfriend’s family the first two years, and driving back from my first time in the Big Apple the third).

Living at home after having that freedom, I came to realize something.

I’m never going to have the same kind of freedom again. At least, not while I’m living here.

Not to say my parents control my every move, that would just be ridiculous. For the most part I have that same freedom. But there are a couple events that, as when I was still a teenager and child before that, I don’t get a say.

Family ‘reunions’ are one of them.

I’m not against seeing cousins and aunts/uncles again; especially the ones that I have not seen since before I graduated high school five years ago. But I like to feel like I have a choice on the matter. As if I am saying, “Oh, that sounds like fun. I’ll tag along.” Instead of being told, “There’s a family get-together at your cousin’s place next month. All of you will be there.”

“What If I have something else to -.”

“ALL of you will BE THERE.”

And, like it or not, this past weekend all of us jammed into my dad’s jeep and made the three and a half hour (four and a half, this time, on account of traffic following several fender-benders on the highway) trip to my grandmother’s house. (No, we didn’t go through any woods, although there were quite a few rivers). The reunion wasn’t until Sunday afternoon – late Sunday afternoon – so the boys and I were trapped in the hood listening to my grandfather go on and on about his hip surgery, while we buried our heads more and more into our books, praying he’d realize that we really were reading, not just trying to ignore him (I suppose it was a bit of both on Michael’s part, but I was justified – I had Stephen King in my hands).

Even though I was drafted to go to the picnic, I was resolved to make the absolute best of it – unlike the boys (particularly Michael), I probably would have wanted to go without being told that I had to.

For the most part, I think we all had a good time. The only trouble I had was answering the inevitable, “What are you doing now? Do you have a job?” But, this time I was actually prepared. Sort of. I decided a week and a half ago that I was NOT going to get anywhere (professionally) in farm country NY, and maybe it is finally time to consider fulfilling my dream of moving to Seattle, WA.

Not that I’m going to do it right away. But I’m working on getting a few jobs in order to save up enough money to move out there by this time next year. It was a little exciting, because I was finally able to share with plan with someone (I had been holding off on mentioning it to my parents, because I wasn’t sure how they would react to me moving so far away by myself).

And the two things I am looking forward to most besides obtaining some sort of job?

Privacy and Freedom.

Can A Parent Be Too Supportive?


By sendmeonmyway101

My dad graduated from University when I was eight. I can still remember being crowded into stadium seating for what felt like four hours, watching parades of people I’d never seen before crossing the stage, all dressed in bulky black robes and looking like penguins from our nose-bleed seats.

He was hired in October of that same year. By Michael’s birthday in November, our family had packed up and moved halfway across state. Kyle and I were already in elementary school. Kyle prospered in our new school, but it took me much longer to adjust. This new school expected more of students than our previous school, and I had a difficult time keeping up during my first few years. Since then I have only reflected on how that move affected me, and I never thought to ask what was going through my dad’s head at the time.

Following my first failed interview, my dad and I sat down and talked about his own experience post-college.

He was a chemistry major in a time before chemistry was a cool thing (i.e., before forensic-fueled shows like CSI came onto the scene). He had also been out of his mother’s home for close to nine years. He was independent, in a rather non-competitive market, and he had a wife and children to support. Bills were piling up, and the job that he had wouldn’t do much good once student loans hit. He had a reason to find a job.

I told my dad about the questions the interviewers asked, and the answers I gave (and then I told him about the better answers I had come up with on my drive back home). He told me about the four interviews he had prior to being hired, and how he had bombed his first with poor answers; how he had been promised a job on his second, only to have the company declare bankruptcy before he could get started; and how he had been unable to impress a key member during his third interview. But he learned from each interview, and by the time he landed his fourth, he was ready for them.

After telling me all this, my dad said, “You watch any newborn first learning to walk, and they fall down, and they fall down, and they fall down. But they have the natural instinct to keep trying until they’re successful. Every person has that natural instinct, but somewhere along the way life beats it out of them. The thing that you have to do is find that drive that you had as an infant.”

It’s great advice, and it does make me feel less harried about the whole job thing (which I suppose was his intention). But at the same time I’m afraid he’s too supportive. He had a family to maintain post-graduation. I live at home, and living at home isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I suppose I’m afraid that knowing I have such a soft cushion to fall back on will hinder my interest in job hunting. I don’t have the same motivation that he had. His advice, which would be brilliant if I was in the same spot he’d been in at my age, only reminds me that failure is OK.

It is, but failure is really only OK if you learn from your mistakes and keep trying. Any infant keeps trying to walk because they’re motivated to get somewhere on their own. I have a roof over my head, my bills are paid, I get paid for doing housework (something that I quickly realized I love to do), and I have freelance activities to keep my mind occupied. The only goal I’ve held my whole life that has motivated me is graduating from college. Without that, how do I figure out what to do next?

Lessons From a Fish Killer


By sendmeonmyway101
ORIGINALLY POSTED Saturday, July 30th

When I was nine, I spent a weekend with one of my aunts. She lived in a small, but clean apartment. Two bedrooms, dining room in the kitchen, and a small living room. Everything was white – the walls, the carpet; even the shelves, stuffed full of pristine Precious Moments ceramics and Seraphin Classic Angels, were made of clear glass, stained white from the paint chips in the background.

My aunt lived alone. She was divorced, and her two kids were fully grown. She collected Beanie Babies – at least thirty sat on the spare bed. We had to move them out of the way so I had a place to stay.

What really stands out in my memory about that weekend was not the white walls, the ceramic statues, or even the Beanie Babies. It wasn’t the breakfasts we had, or our trip on the eerie canal barge. It was her aquarium.

My aunt had an aquarium full of angelfish. I’d seen pet fish before – one of my uncles had an aquarium ten times the size of this one, and with a larger variety. But for some reason I left my aunt’s that Sunday convinced that having fish like that – elegant and sweet (after all, they were called angelfish, that had to mean something) – was a sign of being an adult.

Keep in mind that I was nine and I found logic in things that wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to normal people (OK, I still make logic out of things that are absolutely illogical).  Still, the need to have my own aquarium full of angelfish stuck.

I’ve been talking about getting a fish or two for about a month now. I’ve been a Stay at Home Daughter (SHD, but not to be confused with Stay At Home Dad) since May. I may not have my own place, or even a job (updating Tumblr accounts and writing unpaid articles for online magazines don’t really count), but I figured it was time to get my fish. Perhaps it’s a responsibility thing – I can’t exactly forget to feed the cat because he never lets me forget that it’s dinner. If I haven’t changed his litter box, he pees on my bed (needless to say, his litter box has been changed every day). With fish – it’s all about taking care of them.

Would I have eventually gone through with it? Who knows? But my options were pretty much eliminated Thursday when I came home and my brother, Kyle, had bought me a ten gallon aquarium.

WOW.

So Kyle, a friend of mine and I piled into the jeep and headed to the pet store to pick out some fish for our tank. We bought one angelfish (I was insistent) named Toby, one cherry barb (Bosco), one red-tailed black variatus (Bingo), and a red-belly x-ray tetra (X-ray, of course). We picked up food, a filter, and a heater (they’re all tropical).

It’s Saturday, and only Toby, is left. What have I learned from this experience?

  1. If I hang onto the dream of having an aquarium full of angelfish for fourteen years, and when I finally get an aquarium with full of fish other than angelfish, and every one dies save for the lone angelfish, then maybe it’s a good idea to only buy angelfish
  2. I’m not good at keeping small pets alive
  3. Filters are dangerous
  4. Fish are stupid

But more importantly, my uncle with the large aquarium gave me a few pointers. For starters, the filter should be covered with a breathable cloth, so the fish don’t get suction cupped into it. Also, after cleaning the aquarium it’s important to add water conditioner.

Finally, he reminded me that bubbles are an excellent source of oxygen for fish, and necessary. The way I figure, if Toby can make it through the next week after following my uncle’s advice, I’ll consider getting more fish.

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