New Beginnings and So Long For Now

The moment of anticipation is here.

Today I begin my journey into grad school and beyond.

I am scared shitless.

I haven’t had an English course since high school. I did so well on my English AP exams in high school that I had all my English credits taken care of before I even stepped foot on a college campus.

Now here I am attempting to study English at the Master’s level. Why the hell did I think that was a good idea?

The scariest part about actually chasing your dreams, those goals that have lived closest to your heart for so long, is that if you fail, that life you always imagined is dead. I am terrified that I am not going to make the cut in grad school. Although I think most people in artistic fields struggle with the feeling that their art isn’t good enough.

All of this aside, I am simultaneously hopeful that this will be a very self-affirming experience that will help me gain confidence in myself as a writer.

However, because of all of this personal growth and self discovery, I may be a bit spotty with the blogging for a while.

I want to sincerely thank all of the people out in the distant lands of the interwebs for reading my blog. Not that many people had the distinct pleasure of reading my ramblings, but I want tell each and every one of you how much I appreciate your readership.

I will try to update my blog when I can, lord knows I’ll probably have some interesting stories to tell, but I doubt I’ll be able to work on it much outside of my breaks.

The good news is that I get a break about every two months or so, so I’ll see you all then.

In the meantime, good luck out there everyone. Continue to kick butt. Continue to be brave. And continue to chase the things that scare you the most.

Love,

Erica

New Year’s

In my own, extremely, humble opinion, I think I started the new year right.

I already took on my third resolution: spend more time with friends.

I know that’s kind of an easy one to accomplish on New Year’s Eve, but I’m still counting it goddamnit.

I spent all of New Year’s Eve out with friends. We went to see The Greatest Showman. (Highly recommend btws. Super proud to be from a circus town right now.) Afterwards, we went out drinking, because when do we all get together and not drink?

We started the night off sipping wine in a classy wine bar downtown. There was live music and a refreshments table with plenty of bread and cheese. (I was a fan.) Right around 11:30pm we headed to a popular, dive bar a couple blocks away. (We’re not quite at a point in our lives where we wanted to ring in the New Year swaying back and forth to some smooth jazz.)

At the dive bar, we partook in rail drinks that were 80% alcohol and some shitty, free champagne given out at midnight.

When midnight did roll around, I ended up kissing an old acquaintance. We both agreed to kiss at midnight, but when the ball dropped and I went for a kiss on the cheek, she pulled me in for a full on lips smacker. I had to check afterwards to make sure I didn’t have any of her lipstick lingering on my face.

Honestly, we missed the wine bar. The dive bar was PACKED. No matter where we were standing, we were in the way. And there was no way in hell we were getting a seat at the bar. Not to mention the fact that we ran into a TON of people from high school. It did turn into a fun game of trying to remember the names of obscure former classmates while drunk. I was losing horribly. The score at the end of the night was somewhere around 2 to 7.

Very soon after midnight, we left. We were more than a little uncomfortable hanging around in a bar that was mostly just a memorial to those who couldn’t find a way to leave their hometown.

We ended up at Sabrina’s house, where I very promptly claimed my resting place on the couch. Sabrina pulled up a beautiful musical from Netflix, and her mom place a blanket on top of me straight out of the dryer. Needless to say, I was out like a light within minutes.

The next morning, we went out to breakfast at a local diner. I wolfed down a ham steak with scrambled eggs, potato cakes, and a side of toast. It turned out that I didn’t get drunk enough the night before to give myself a hang over, but I did drink enough to turn my stomach into a raging black hole.

After breakfast, although really I should call it brunch based on the time of day, we trekked out to visit our friends Alyssa. She wasn’t able to join us the night before, because she’s been more or less bed ridden from her tonsillectomy.

We spent most of the day all cuddled up together in her bed chatting and laughing. Aylssa was certainly good for some laughs given all the pain meds she was on.

However, more than anything else, our visit with her reminded me of the importance of female friends.

Alyssa was pretty upset when we visited her, because her boyfriend had yet to see her since her surgery. Sabrina had already made the effort to visit her twice by that point. The boyfriend had even had New Year’s Eve off of work, but he figured he would rather go drinking with friends and then be too hungover the next morning to come see her.

Alyssa appreciated us so much. It made me value my resolution to spend time with friends even more. It’s so important to spend the time necessary to strengthen and maintain those relationships, because at the end of the day, friends always pull through for you.

I would be lying if part of me wasn’t screaming, “Go home! You have so much shit to do! You’ve spent enough time being lazy with your friends,” but I made sure not to listen to that Type A personification wailing its head off inside my brain. I needed and I deserved that time to bond with the women I love. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Much less coming home to do the dishes and pack lunches for the week.

 

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

2017 in Review

Whoa. I cannot believe 2017 is over. Seriously, it flew by so freaking fast. Especially these last couple of months. Let’s go over some of the crazy stats that were my life in 2017.

Stats:

  • Apartments lived in: 3
  • Number of jobs: 7 (Seriously, my tax return is going to be a bitch.)
  • Cities lived in: 2
  • Number of leisure books read: At least 22 (It’s hard to keep track since I check out so many from the library.)

Accomplishments:

  • Got engaged
  • Bought my first car
  • Graduated college
  • Got accepted into grad school
  • Started my first full time job
  • Studied abroad in Mexico
  • Adopted a kitten

What 2018 will bring:

  • Starting grad school
  • Transitioning jobs
  • Wedding planning
  • Tattoo?
  • I’m sure more will come up. (It always does.)

Resolutions for the new year:

  • Stress less:
    • My first two jobs in Madison have been extremely stressful. Unhealthily stressful. Now that I’m adding grad school into the mix, it is my top priority to keep my stress levels under control. Hopefully this upcoming job transition should help me lower my overall stress levels.
  • Watch less TV:
    • I waste so much time watching television. Sure watching a couple episodes is a good way to unwind, but binge-watching is just another word for procrastination.
  • Spend more time with Friends:
    • Far too often I spend so much time stressing about my own life, that I forget about my friends. Goodness know they are just as stressed out and overwhelmed as I am 95% of the time. Not to mention the fact that when we get together, our sole mission is to UNLOAD. We gab, we drink, we dance. Three of the best ways to decompress in my own humble opinion. Point is my friends and I depend on each other to help get through the perils of suspended adulthood. I need to prioritize these hang outs, both for their sake and my own.

It’s been an absolutely nonstop year in terms of shit gotten done. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I did it all. I just hope the upcoming year can be a little calmer. Wish me luck with that!

May you all have some peace and goddamn quiet in the upcoming year.

Spontaneous Reunion

This week, my friends from high school conspired to all meet up right here in Madison. My two friends who live here in madison road tripped down to Iowa to pick up Kevin, and Oliver flew in from New York. I was over the moon.

It’s really hard being the first in your friend group to graduate college and have a full time job. All of your friends still live out of state, but you have no time off to visit them anymore.

The flip side of that is that I’ve also forgotten about how everyone reunites in Wisconsin for winter break. Here I am only six months out of college, and I’ve already forgotten the strange phenomenon. No matter where they are. No matter what they’re doing. College kids always seem to come home for Christmas.

It’s not all family, cookies, and turkey either. It’s also getting shit faced with your hometown friends to celebrate another successful semester at college. Everyone wants to drink enough to completely forget the horrors that they experienced away at college.

Think of it as a flush. All of the facts, equations, and stress just swirling down the drain. Leaving the college student feeling refreshed and ready for the next shitload of information. (Yes, I just compared college students to information toilet. Wanna fight about it?)

It was just nice to join them, and enjoy the feeling of being a carefree college student again. Sure I had to take it easy, because I had to work the next morning, but nonetheless, it was cathartic to “act my age” again.

I’m so used to working full time with dreary, over-worked,  middle-aged people, sometimes I forget that I’m a twenty something.

And there’s nothing quite like a night of drinking, dancing, and staying up until 3am chatting to remind you that you’re a twenty something.

The night started off with a dinner at the Nitty Gritty, a well known bar downtown. They’re known for their burgers and their alcoholic milkshakes, and the table partook in both. Also, all those who had been missing their Wisconsin roots, had a helping of fried cheese curds. It was more or less a celebration of all that the Wisconsin cows have to offer.

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Next, we all went to Alyssa and Sabrina’s apartment to pregame. I mostly just sipped on a bottle of wine. I promised myself beforehand that I wouldn’t do any shots. There was no way I could face a phone shift at 8am the next morning with a hangover. My companions, however,  were not inclined to self-restraint that evening.

Not that I could blame them. I’ll never forget the soul crushing amount of stress I endured in college. Who could blame someone for wanting to let loose a little after that three and a half month long nightmare. (Remind me, why am I going back, again?)

After the whole gang was successfully buzzed, we headed out to catch the free, late night, drunk bus to take us out to the bars.

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Once we got to Whiskey Jack’s, we all enjoyed quarter rail drinks. Yes, that’s right. A quarter. As in two dimes and a nickel. That’s how much a drink cost. Welcome to Wisconsin bitches. UW-Madison isn’t a top ten party school for nothing.

As you can imagine, we all got quite intoxicated and enjoyed dancing, talking, and meeting other burnt out college students.

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One of my friends, Natalie, had a little bit too much fun and ended up dry heaving in the street. We took that, and the increasingly poor music choices from the DJ, to be our cue to leave. We headed to the bar next door for better music and less of a crowd.

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However, we didn’t stay long.

Natalie tried to nurse herself back to health with some water at the bar, but she was already too far down the rabbit hole to rescue herself with hydration.

Before long she was dry heaving again in the bathroom. It was time to go.

We were able to take an Uber home without incident. And we even got her resting comfortably in Alyssa’s bed. But before long she was sick again.

Alyssa and Oliver sprung into attack to clean the bedding, bless their hearts. And Sabrina stayed by Natalie’s side holding her hair, rubbing her back, and murmuring reassuring somethings.

 

Soon enough we were all gathered together again. Natalie passed out again on Alyssa’s bed in clean clothes and sheets. The rest of us surrounding her like she was a campfire. Exchanging stories into the wee hours of the night.

I woke up about four hours later, I woke up without an alarm, got dressed, and headed to work. Meanwhile, the rest of my friends slept in and headed out to breakfast the next day.

I must say though, as pleasant as the night out with friends was, the next morning was bizarre. Almost surreal. It became painfully apparent the dichotomy of the life I’m leading.

I never thought I would miss being a college student, but in that moment, I did.

 

Anniversary

It feels kind of odd to say this, but I just went on my six year anniversary date with my fiance, Jake.

That’s crazy.

I can barely wrap my head around dating someone that long.

I’ve been dating Jake for almost a third of my entire life.

That’s insane.

Granted ours is a bit of a familiar story.

High school sweethearts. Doesn’t that phrase just immediately conjure up imagery of a star football player and a cheerleader who stay together forever just to try to recreate those gilded high school memories?

Definitely not us. Nowhere even close.

We were two of the nerdiest people to ever exist, who happened to find each other’s geekiness to be extremely attractive.

I remember watching Jake work on his recording project before school every morning. His favorite thing to do, was to take pop songs and make them better. He would make them into something that he wanted to listen to. It was epic.

Meanwhile, in the evenings, that boy attended each and every one of my after school events. There were a lot. He came to watch me perform for choir concerts, musicals, poetry readings, and everything else he could attend.

I never thought I would meet someone who was proud of me for my endless list of hobbies.

Then again, I don’t think Jake ever thought he’d find someone who wanted to listen to him talk about all the computer coding he did that day.

Point is, regardless of how it came to be, we have a really good thing going here.

And oh my god, it has been a crazy year for our relationship. We got engaged. We moved in together. Twice.We’ve spent six months out of the year doing long distance. Then we moved together. (In case you’re counting, that’s three fucking moves altogether.) And we got a cat!

That’s a lot of milestones for one year.

It actually makes me a little dizzy looking back on it all.

That’s why for our anniversary dinner, we kept it as low key as possible. We went out to our favorite tapas bar and enjoyed a delicious meal together.

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Eno Vino is known for their truffle fries.

I didn’t even dress up! I’m talking jeans and a sweater people. I don’t dress down any more than that in public.

Honestly though, it was nice to take all the pressure off. I know last year I made a big fuss over our five year anniversary, and all it did was make Jake nervous. That’s not what it should be. It should be two people celebrating the effort and the reward of loving someone daily for an entire year.

And after such a strain of a year, it was nice to take a load off for a moment and enjoy a meal with my darling, Jake.

 

Photo Credit: Cassandra C of Trip Advisor an videvo

A Late Night Interview and Tequila Shots

As that title obviously hints, I am obviously making GREAT life decisions right now.

Let’s just say… Friday got unexpectedly interesting.

Remember that remark at the end of my last post about a possible position as a delivery driver? Well they called me back Friday night asking for an interview. I told them I would love to interview as soon as possible.

The way I see it, there is a limited amount of time left before I go back to school, I should probably figure out this whole job situation before I throw grad school into the mix.

They said, how does eight tonight sound?

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………

I threw on my dressiest pair of jeans with a cute sweater, made myself a grilled cheese sandwich, and headed off into the night.

I was literally walking up to the warehouse for my interview when I get a text.

“Do you want to party?”

No, a prostitute wasn’t texting me. It was my good friends, and favorite dancing partners, Sabrina and Alyssa.

It had been a while since we had gone out drinking together, and lord knows I had been dying to go out dancing for a while now, so I texted back, “Sure, let me finish this interview first.”

Luckily the interview consisted solely of, “Do you still want this job?” No, I showed up to this freezing cold warehouse, because I’m not interested in the position. “Do you have valid insurance and registration?” Duh. “Any questions?” Yeah, how are y’all still in business?

No questions about my driving record. No questions about previous work experience. #1 most bizarre interview of my life.

After that I watched my soon-to-be manager pack orders for about twenty minutes while I waited for her to scan my license, insurance, and registration. Must say, I’m glad that I can just wait in my car between orders. That warehouse makes hoarders look organized.

As soon as I could slip out of there, I headed over to meet up with Alyssa and Sabrina. After leisurely drinking cocktails at two different bars, we headed over to Ruby’s Lounge for some dancing.

I already had a very good buzz going when we arrived, but the girls talked me into both a tequila and a vodka shot, before we hit the dance floor. Let’s just say I wasn’t too self conscious about my dance moves after that hardy helping of liquid courage.

I danced the freaking night away, and had a ton of fun doing so. I could have gone without the massive hangover the next morning, but it was worth it to have a fun night out with friends. With how stressful this sudden job transition has been, it was nice to spend a night not thinking about the future, and just living in the now.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Perils of Temp Work

After about five months of temp work, I can definitively say: it sucks.

From the get go I was nervous about working with a staffing agency. Something about people other than your employer profiting off of your labor… makes me uneasy to say the least.

But, after two months of being miserable canvassing, I was desperate to find any job that would take me, and get the heck out of there.

If I can say one good thing about my staffing agency experience, it’s that they found me a decently paying job, and they found it quickly.

After that, it was a bit of a shitshow.

First of all, they misinform me constantly.

For example, oh… I don’t know… THEY GAVE ME THE WRONG ADDRESS FOR MY INTERVIEW. (Yes, I am still a bit salty about this. I know I’m subtle about it and all.)

Also, they misinformed me about the scheduling flexibility of the position, procedures for how to call in sick, procedures for how to take scheduled time off, and mislead me about how much they are skimming off the top of my wage.

As if that isn’t already enough, their most disgusting offense is that they lied to me about the length of my temp period. Before I accepted the job, the staffing agency told me I was going to be a temp employee for four to five weeks before being hired on full-time at full wage.

Here I am at month five… Still waiting…

My boss at Clearesult told me about two months in that they couldn’t hire on any full-time staff until January. Of course I wasn’t thrilled with the news, but I understood that they didn’t have much flexibility in their staffing budget until the new fiscal year.

Now, I have been informed that they cannot even hire me on in January. They are pushing the date back until February.

I’m not so sure I want to stick around to find out if they’ll actually stick to the deadline this time.

This is a good job, and I’m glad that I’ve worked here for the past five months, but I work way too goddamn hard for the temp wage I’m currently receiving.

So here I am, scrolling job sites, and praying for the best.

How resume building does the career title delivery driver sound?

 

 

Hairy Questions and a Little Aftershave for Me

Last weekend I returned to that salon I blogged about back in October. I loved it so much, and I could not wait to go back to try it out again, but this time I brought a friend…

Actually, a little more than a friend. I brought along my fiance, Jake. For years he has been putting up with chain, walk-in hair shacks varying degree of quality from adequate to your hair looks worse than before you got a cut. Certainly nothing spectacular came from these low-budget quickie cuts.

But hallelujah, praise all the goddesses, Jake agreed to come with me to get a decent haircut.

Little did I know that getting an actual quality men’s haircut is a bit more difficult than expected.

First of all, I was trying to book our appointments online. I booked my usual short hair cut, but was failing to grasp what I should book for Jake. Should he get a barber cut or a short cut? What the fuck is the difference?

Well, after a cursory google search, it seems that the difference is that a barber cut uses more buzzer while a short cut uses more scissors. I wasn’t super sure which was best, but I figured I may as well just book a short cut, because neither one of us wanted to see him walk out of there with a buzzcut.

I guessed right. A short cut was exactly what Jake wanted and needed. What kind of short cut? That’s a different story. Usually Jake describes the way he wants his hair cut in length. X inches on top and Y inches on the sides and back. Usually even these straightforward instructions are too complicated for the average cheapie, walk-in place.

However, after the usual length spiel, Jake’s stylist, Jay, had some follow up questions. Do you want a crew cut? Fade? Relax man! What? you want a box cut? Whatcha want?

Jake looked over at me in absolute terror. He didn’t know what the hell he wanted. No one had ever asked before.

“Surprise us!” was the only solution I could provide.

Even without much to go off of, Jay gave Jake got the best haircut of this life. He looks gorgeous. (Or more gorgeous than usual anyway.) I have no idea how to describe his haircut in technical terms, but I can say that it’s sexy as all get out.

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I was lucky enough to have my own traditionally male experience at the salon. After my haircut, my stylish Aislinn surprised me with a hot towel, a shave, and even a little aftershave.

I had asked Aislinn to give me a nape design that I had seen online. After using the buzzers to trim the outline, she cleaned it up with a little shaving cream and a razor.

It was fabulous. I loved every second of it. I loved the warm, steamy towel. I loved the creamy, foamy shaving cream on the back of my neck, and I ADORED the surprise splash of aftershave. I smelled fantastic the rest of the day.

I was half tempted to ask her what brand it was, so I could go get some to use everyday.

Also, my nape design turned out gorgeous. My only complaint is that it’s on the back of my head, so it’s hard for me to admire it in all its glory.

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Again, I am thrilled with our experience with this salon. We both came out looking hotter than hell and feeling great. Isn’t that how all haircuts should make you feel?

Needless to say, Jake is never going back to getting a cheap, quickie cut ever again.

 

Holidays and other such Obligations

Sorry the blog posting has been kinds of spotty y’all.

As I’m sure just about everyone around right now can relate, things are hectic as hell right now.

Of course the holiday season is, sing it with me now, THE MOOOOOOOOOOst STRE-E-EssfuL TimeOfTheYear. Everybody is traveling, visiting family, and buying a financially crippling number of presents for their loved ones. It’s enough to make anyone want to pull their hair out.

Personally, I was lucky enough to visit my own personal hell for Thanksgiving. Jake and I ventured down into the backwards land of Southern Illinois to visit his parents.

I’m afraid when people here me say Illinois, they think the white North of Chicago. WRONG. We drove halfway across the country, down past St. Louis, almost to Tennessee. Down to the bible belt of these United States of America.

Jake and I played this game when we were down there. We tried to see who could spot the most churches as we drove around the area. Problem was, the game was a little too easy. It was like playing where Waldo with 80% of the people in the picture being Waldo. In that part of the country, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a bible thumper.

It was nice to see the in-laws again. They came up to Wisconsin in October for Jake’s birthday, but I hadn’t visited them in their natural habitat for two years now.

But if you’re anything like me, spending three days obligated to interact with family sounds torturous. Not that I don’t love them dearly, but being trapped in the same house with them for longer than a day is too much.

I need my space. I need time to let go. I need to sit in front of the TV, in just my underwear and a teeshirt, sipping wine after a long day of being sociable. When you are staying overnight with family, you don’t exactly get this respite.

By the time day three came around I was going bonkers. And after three days of wearing my public face, it was so nice to come home and finally relax. Jake and I also missed Charlie terribly, which is why he gets to the featured photo spot yet again.

It’s great to be home and getting back into familiar routines. Although I could do without the going back to work part.

 

 

 

 

Embossing Like a Boss

Our first weekend living in our new apartment, Jake and I decided to do a little impromptu gift exchange.

After settling in, I wanted to give Jake his Christmas present a little early, because it involved a piece of furniture. There was no way I was loading up my bookcase with all my books just to have to move them all again in a month to make room for his new gift.

However, Jake has two super powers. One is knowing exactly when a timer is going to go off. Honestly, I don’t know why he even sets timers anymore. I honestly think its just so he can show off the fact that he will always pop up three seconds before the timer goes off. His second super power is to guess what his gift is. No matter how creative I get, he always guesses what I picked out.

This time was no different. This kid is impossible to surprise.

As soon as I mentioned that his gift involved a piece of furniture, Jake asked if it was a record player.

Of course he was right, but at least he didn’t guess part two of his present. In addition to this lovely, vintage-style record player, I also gave Jake a small shelf to hold all his records.

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It looks great in the apartment and its so much fun to listen to all of Jake’s records again. He hasn’t had a record player since high school, so his record have just been collecting dust. He was ecstatic (or whatever Jake’s form of ecstatic is) to enjoy his records once again.

Jake returned the early Christmas exchange, by giving me part one of my Christmas gift.

He surprised me with an item that I’ve always wanted, but never allowed myself to be frivolous enough to buy.

He gave my a book embosser. It’s the bookish present of my dreams.

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Rick wishes you peace among worlds in the background.

I spent the whole afternoon stamping all my books to proudly say they are a member of Erica Hainz’s library. It’s super nerdy and I love it. It’s something that I’ve always secretly wanted, and I’m thrilled to finally have it.

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Can you tell I’m in love?

My personal library consists mostly of cheap, second hand books and public library rejects. It’s nice to make my library of misfits feel more like the unified literary collection that they are.

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Sorry this isn’t the best example of a stamp, I’m blogging from Southern Illinois right now and I only have one book with me.

I adore every novel in my possession so much. It’s gratifying to see them bear my name.

This gift was also super special, because it shows Jake’s support of my choice to earn my Master’s in English Studies. His support means the world to me, especially when my family has been less than receptive on the subject.

Our spontaneous Christmas exchange was magical. We both gave each other meaningful gifts that supported our individual interests.

Jake laughed a little when I got so worked up over a $25 gift, but the monetary value doesn’t matter. The fact that he cared enough to know exactly what I want without me having to say a word, makes the gift priceless.