Buying A House Is The Most Adult Thing I've Done

I officially became an adult in 2000, but I did not feel like an adult for a very long time. I know that probably sounds weird, but when I say it to people, they most often agree with me, and commiserate. I think the “not yet an adult” feeling comes from an idealized view of adulthood that we all grew up with. I looked at my parents with their full-time jobs and house full of kids they were raising, and I just didn’t feel like I was an adult in the same way that they were.

I spent my college years having fun, and my 20s figuring out who I was as a person. Along the way I did a lot of adult things - I started my “grown up” career, and even changed careers; I moved myself across states, twice; I figured out how to set up a 401k and pay taxes and other adult things. In my 30’s I finally started to feel like I was getting into the groove of being an adult, but I still didn’t see myself as an adult for some reason. It started to slowly kick in when I got engaged and began planning a life with William. My feelings of adulthood got even stronger when I became a mom, because suddenly I was THE ADULT and responsible for keeping another human alive.

Even with all these life events, I truly did not feel like an adult until we applied for a mortgage and bought a house.

 
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It’s so weird, right? Like out of all the things I’ve done, buying a house is the thing that made me really feel like an adult? But it did, even more than becoming a mother. For a long time I couldn’t explain why I felt that way, until I figured out what it was about buying a house that was so different from the other adult things I’ve done in my life - getting a mortgage and buying a house was the one time when people scrutinized my entire life and deemed me “acceptable” enough.

Think about it - for other milestones of adulthood, you don’t have to subject your entire life to someone else’s scrutiny & judgement. Getting a job just means you have an interview or five, and maybe submit to a background check. Buying a car? Show them a couple of paystubs and you’re good and ready to drive off the lot. When you apply for your marriage license, all they wanna know is your married name (if you’re changing it) and take your money. And if you want to have a kid, there’s no entity that decides if you’ll be a good parent, unless you’re attempting to adopt.

I knew that applying for a mortgage would require a lot of paperwork, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much, and the types of things that they would need to see before underwriting our loan. Pay stubs, full tax returns, bank statements, even a detailed letter from us noting where we were getting our down payment from - all required. Not to mention the complete scrutiny of all our assets and debts, and our credit histories. This isn’t a complaint, I’d just never had anyone dive so deep into my financial life.

I’d always been a little worried about one day buying a house (Do we make enough? Is our credit good enough?) so my worry kicked into high gear during our underwriting process. I worried that something from our past would come back to haunt us, but it all worked out fine. It was the best feeling to get that call from our broker saying everything was approved and we could close that day (which we did).

In the year since we bought and moved into our first home, I feel like more of an adult. I feel like I’ve finally ticked off all the things that added up to being an adult - getting married, having a child, buying a house, having a career.

What made you feel like an adult? Or are you still waiting for that feeling? Share with us in the comments!



20. Tired Of Being Tired

 
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Friends, it has not been a good week, if you are a woman.

I can’t even say that I’m surprised. The legislation that’s been passed in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Ohio (and being considered other places) is draconian, cruel and should be illegal. It is an example that freedom is not free, and that we’re all under assault. Yet part of me is also feeling a bit of smugness, because we’re in this position because so many white women voted against their own self-interests, especially in state-level races. Republicans across the country are emboldened to make The Handmaid’s Tale a reality, and it’s all because white people decided they were being left behind in the world. How sad and short-sighted of them.

I won’t rehash the countless articles, blog posts, and social media posts that outline just why these laws are so terrible. I will however, urge you to read this incredible Twitter thread from Design Mom, and to encourage you to do whatever you can to fight back, be it with your money, your time or your influence.

I’m tired yall. I’ve been tired for a long time. Many of us sounded the alarm years ago, but we were drowned out by the choruses of “but her emails” and “lock her up!” And so, here we are, and very soon America will be Gilead and we’ll all be Under His Eye. I hope yall are ready.

Things I Read This Week:

“Am I bad person?” Why one mom didn’t take her kid to the ER — even after poison control said to. (Vox)

Even Breadwinning Wives Don’t Get Equality at Home (The Atlantic)

I’m the Longest-Serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature, and I’m Switching Parties (The Atlantic)

Your Big Bank Sucks. It’s Time to Bail Yourself Out. (MEL Magazine)

The NYTimes Comments Section Breaks Out Into White Nonsense Over the Aperol Spritz (Pajiba)

The Supreme Court’s Worst Decision of My Tenure (The Atlantic)

A Teen Designed A Graduation Cap That Directs People To A List Of Students Killed In School Shootings (Buzzfeed)

Elizabeth Warren Deserves Your Undivided Attention (GQ)

our traditionally male company has an annual golf trip — but our new female employees don’t play (Ask A Manager)

Nearly a third of millennial moms are having postpartum sex before they feel ready (and that's not okay) (Motherly)

Other Stuff:

I made these carrot cake cupcakes this week and they are so unbelievably good. I’m not normally a carrot cake fan but I love these.

I absolutely love everything in this doula story - I had a doula for Josephine’s birth, and I can’t imagine getting through my 36 hour labor and c-section delivery without her. Every mama should have access to a doula.

This week I worked with two coaching clients! It was really awesome to connect with two separate people looking to make a career change, and put my expertise to practice. If you’re looking for some help in your career, I’m available for Career Mentoring as well as Ace the Interview Prep Sessions.

End your week on a high note with this video of Method Man

Let’s all get some self-care this weekend - take care of yourself and your people!

Why I Left My STEM Career

This post originally ran on The Billfold in September 2017 - I was very fortunate to pitch this piece to them! The Billfold has since shut down but I wanted to share this piece for those who didn’t see it the first time. Enjoy!



 
Photo by  Rodolfo Clix  from  Pexels

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

 

Growing up, I was fascinated by science. In the eighth grade, I decided I wanted to be an engineer, and devoted the next seven years of my life to that dream. I started college at the University of Minnesota as an engineering major, but when I got into my first engineering course, I realized that I hated it! Turns out, I don’t really give a damn about how much is coming out of the reactor at time t. I wanted to know what was in the reactor and what reaction was taking place.

I’d spent the previous summer interning in a R&D lab, where I thoroughly enjoyed my days in the lab. Now I understood that, though I’d devoted many years to becoming a chemical engineer, I had a much stronger affinity to chemistry. After that revelation, I changed my major and focused specifically on polymer chemistry. The next two years of college were more suited to my interests, and I spent time interning in labs and doing an independent study in a research lab.

By the time I graduated from college, I had three internships under my belt. I’d learned a ton, including the fact that I absolutely hated working in a pharmaceutical research lab. This was an absolute bummer, as I’d spent years dreaming of one day becoming a pharmaceutical researcher. Turns out, it was more suited for a Type-A personality, which I am not. My internships also taught me that if I really wanted to work in corporate R&D one day, I’d need to get an advanced degree; otherwise I’d be relegated to the role of “technician” for my entire career. So instead of looking for a job senior year, I took the GRE and applied to graduate schools. I got into my dream school: Georgia Tech.

In the physical sciences, you apply straight into a PhD program, and I started mine just three months after I graduated from undergrad. I was an okay college student, so I was in no way prepared for how rigorous a PhD program at a top-ranked school would be. Frankly, it took all the fun and joy out of chemistry. I loved my classmates and I found my research interesting, but I hated how my professors went out of their way to make us feel small and stupid. My health started to suffer and I knew I needed a different environment. So, after I passed my candidacy exam, I decided to graduate with a Masters in Chemistry. Leading up to graduation, I started job hunting, and I found a job as a polymer chemist for Lockheed Martin.

My first “real” job as a chemist was an eye-opening experience; looking back, it was the perfect opportunity for me. I was hired into a lab where there hadn’t been a new hire in ten years; I was also the only woman and person of color in the lab group. In short, I worked with all old white guys who were getting ready to retire, with the expectation that they’d pass their knowledge onto me.

My labmate had worked in that same lab more years than I’d been alive, but surprisingly we got along great. He was a great mentor and taught me a great deal about corporate life, materials chemistry, and how to grow my career. He and my manager both gave me lots of opportunities to grow my skills beyond the lab, such as allowing me to be the project manager for a major laboratory renovation. At Lockheed I ran a materials lab, doing lots of testing on various materials to answer questions like “why didn’t my two-part epoxy cure?”

My job was fun, I had a great schedule, and I was paid handsomely for my work. But I hated where I lived. Orlando is not a fun town, especially for a young Black professional. So, after a few years in Florida, I started job hunting.

My job hunt led me back to the Twin Cities, where I took a job at a GE Water manufacturing facility. I was hired to run the analytical chemistry lab, but I was woefully unprepared for what that actually meant. I went from a pretty laid-back, low-stress environment to a very demanding, high-stress role that left me feeling like I was constantly underwater. I was truly challenged in that role, and working in a new industry taught me a great deal. GE is well-known as a Six Sigma company, and I learned Six Sigma methodology and completed projects before I’d even gone through the formal classes. GE also sent me, along with my lab group, to project management training.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend amongst all of my college friends: those of us who have STEM degrees all ended up transitioning to non-STEM roles at some point in our careers. For me, after six years in the lab, I was beginning to feel burnt out. I wasn’t eager to simply change companies or disciplines; I knew I needed a non-lab role. While I explored opportunities within GE, I got a phone call out of the blue from a Target recruiter. She explained that they were looking for people with technical backgrounds for data analyst roles, and asked if I’d be interested. I figured I’d give it a shot and see what came of it. After multiple interviews, they made me an offer and I accepted.

I started my non-lab career as a Senior Supply Chain Analyst, working on various projects for the distribution centers. My entire team was made up of former engineers & scientists, and we brought statistical and analytical rigor to our roles, which was a relatively new capability to Target. I spent two years as a supply chain analyst, including fifteen months working on Target Canada, before I moved onto a Senior Business Partner role in Store Operations. Essentially I am a process owner/project manager/analyst working on a variety of projects that impacted operations within the stores.

When people hear about my background as a lab chemist, they always ask me how I ended up in my current role at Target. I tell them that it was a combination of luck and building my skill set. While I was a laboratory chemist, I accumulated a bunch of other transferrable skills. But I also got lucky and was recruited by a company that understood the value of a person’s skills over the subject matter of their degree. My project management and Six Sigma training have come in handy, and so has my experience writing lab reports, solving client problems and troubleshooting issues.

A STEM degree teaches you how to think critically and solve problems logically—both valuable skills in any job. My time at Target has added other skills to my toolbox, like SQL and supply chain methodologies. Almost every day I rely on a skill that I learned in my “previous life” as a chemist, but I apply it in a different way.

Addendum: since this post was originally published, I’ve changed roles within Target but I’m still a senior data analyst, just in a new business unit. I continue to enjoy my work at Target and growing my skillset.

19. Things I Ponder - What Makes Certain Entertainment "Hold Up"?

 
Photo by  Guilherme Almeida  from  Pexels
 

We made it to another weekend!

I love pop culture, especially stuff that I grew up, especially movies and TV shows. Lately I’ve been thinking about one specific question: what makes a movie or TV show “hold up”? For the unfamiliar, I think of “holding up” as being able to be enjoyed years later and still be in touch with current society. There are shows that I was still watch and love that definitely fit the criteria of holding up, and others that I watch solely for the nostalgia because they definitely do not hold up, for various reasons.

Take, for example, Golden Girls - a show that I think completely holds up 30 years later. It’s still so funny and the jokes still work in 2019. And their serious episodes all fall on the right side of history, whether it’s tackling gay & lesbian issues, interracial marriage, the AIDS epidemic, undocumented immigrants, etc. Similarly, I think Living Single holds up in the same way - the storylines were (mostly) realistic, the jokes are still funny and it’s still very relatable in 2019. Contrast that with a show like Sex and the City, which feels really dated even though it was a more recent show. I think it doesn’t hold up because the setup was so unbelievable, from Carrie’s designer habit to portraying a NYC with virtually no people of color. It’s also out of step with current cultural norms - for example, you can hear the term “tranny” on the show, which is a no-no. Another is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a movie which I loved as a kid, but as an adult I realize is so incredibly racist in its portrayal of India. There’s no way that movie would ever get greenlit in 2019.

I’m formulating a theory in my head around what makes a TV show or movie “hold up” but I’m curious what other people think - what would you highlight as a TV show or movie that still holds up in 2019?

Things I Read This Week:

Not all of West Side Story has aged gracefully, but its spectacular dancing sure has (A.V. Club)

Black Voters Get That Bernie Marched With MLK. They Want To Know What He’ll Do For Them Now. (Buzzfeed)

LOFT’s New Mommy-And-Me Collection is ADORABLE (The Mom Edit)

Lyft Says It’s ‘Not in the Transportation Business,’ So Disability Law Doesn't Apply (Gizmodo)

Seattle Times Journalist Suspended After Harassing Writer With Gross Twitter DMs (Jezebel)

The Midwest Isn't Just White People (Jezebel)

The True Road Warriors: How Men With Disabilities Travel the World (MEL Magazine)

Switching Political Parties (Design Mom)

Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time (CT Post)

Tweak the Vote | Radiolab | WNYC Studios (Radiolab)

The Coming Generation War (The Atlantic)

Representation Matters: 35 Black Kids TV Shows You Can Watch Right Now (Mater Mea)

The politics of home (Curbed)

Other Stuff:

I took advantage of the Sephora VIB sale to restock on some of my favorite items: L’Occitane hand cream, a Benefit brow pencil, and Clarisonic replacement brush heads. I also picked up the Fenty Beauty Instant Warmth Bronzer in Caramel Cutie - I hope it looks good!

I haven’t been doing much reading lately - my free time is taken up by writing and knitting - but I picked up The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle because I couldn’t resist after reading a quick synopsis.

This weekend is Mother’s Day weekend! I won’t get to spend it with my mom but I did make sure to get her gift and cards in the mail so hopefully she gets both before Sunday. I’ll be spending the day with my little one. For all the moms out there, I hope you enjoy it in whatever way is good for you.

Enjoy your weekend!

Let's Start Treating Men Like The Adults They Are, Shall We?

 
Photo by  Alexandro David  from  Pexels

Photo by Alexandro David from Pexels

 

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook Mommy groups. On one hand, they’ve been a wealth of information and support for me as a first time mom, and a safe space to ask questions. But on the other hand, man are they a cesspool of dysfunction! But what actually bothers me the most is the posts I see almost every day, from different moms but with the same refrain - some version of “how do I get my husband/boyfriend/partner to do more to help me?”

We Have A Problem In Our Homes

Emotional labor, equity in child rearing and household management, career progression for working moms - all topics that have been discussed ad nauseam. I grew up being told that feminism would one day lead to equity between the sexes, that we’d be able to work like men and have our families at home and everything would work out just fine. Instead we now have to work ourselves to the bone at soul-sucking jobs, and then go home and do all the work to maintain our households and tend to our children. We’re damned if we sacrifice our careers to stay at home with our kids, and we’re damned if we put our kids in daycare so we can work.

Meanwhile, what are the men doing? Apparently they just getting on our damn nerves and being lazy.

Each time I read a post from a burned out mom on Facebook, or scroll through a never-ending list of depressing comments on an article, I’m filled with an emotion that can best summed up a combination of rage and pity. I’m filled with anger for all the women who are stuck with aint shit partners who do nothing to help maintain the households or parent the children they helped create. But I also feel some pity for this women too, because the answer (to me at least) is so simple and yet to eludes so many of them.

So What’s The Answer?

We see it all the time, the tired tropes of the bumbling dads who can’t figure out how to dress their kids without calling their wife. We overhear stories from men who brag about purposely putting on diapers wrong, or bringing back the wrong groceries, so they won’t be saddled with the chore again. We also the moms who are never without their children because they fear their partners can’t handle the children alone.

The answer is not to beg or nag or threaten your partner for help with the kids and around the house. We - as partners, as mothers, as members of our society - must demand that men act like adults and then hold them to it. But that means that we also must allow the men in our lives to parent in their own way, without our micromanagement or supervision.

The vast majority of men are more than capable of acting like adults, and taking care of themselves and others, both most of them find it easier to pretend to be clueless so they can be lazy. Instead of challenging them to be and do better, most women find it easier to just do what needs to be done themselves, but all that does is reinforce the idea that most men in heterosexual relationships don’t have to do anything, and doing slightly more than the bare minimum wins them the title of SuperDad.

We - the collective we - need to demand and expect the men in our lives to do more and be active participants in our homes.

Holding our partners accountable means that we learn the value of letting go of how things are done, and detach ourselves from doing some things entirely. It’s not responsibility to remember that your husband needs to buy his mother a birthday present. Leave that work up to him! If it doesn’t get done, his mom can take that up with him. Your kid might go to school in pajama pants, a tutu and rainboots - if they are clean and (relatively) dressed for the elements, don’t stress it. Yes, some things absolutely must get done, like feeding the kids and making sure the bills are paid, but I’d wager there’s a lot of things that we as women do because we feel like we’re supposed to do them, not because we actually care. And in that regard, we should be more like the men in our lives, and ditch those activities that aren’t serving us in the long run.

What This Looks Like In Practice

I’ve written before about my hesitancy to become a mother, and my greatest fear was that I’d end up a “married single mother”, doing all the work while my husband lounged on the couch with a beer. But before we even got married, my husband showed me that he truly believed in the equitable arrangement I envisioned. Will doesn’t believe in “emotional labor” as a thing, because it’s something he’s never asked of me. We both manage our own relationships with our families, and thus he’s responsible for remembering his mom’s birthday, or booking our trips to see his family. He manages his own appointments, pays his individual bills on his own, and communicates with me about our household needs. We use tools like a joint Gmail account and calendar to make sure we’re both in the know on things happening, and we have regular check-in meetings to align on our family and individual priorities.

Along with owning his own shit, I always expected him to do as much of the stuff he was able to do, but to his credit, he jumped in enthusiastically. We wound up combo feeding our daughter, so while I nursed and pumped, he was in charge of making formula bottles, and cleaning the dirty bottles. He’s a night owl, and he willingly took the middle of the night feedings so that I could sleep. He changed diapers, helped with baths, and rocked her for hours. Now that we’re in the toddler phase, we each take a weekend morning to get up early with Phi, so that the other can sleep in a bit (as much as you can with a toddler). He’s encouraged me to stay connected with my community of friends, and encouraged me to take some trips without him and the baby, including a week long girls’ trip to Greece. In the 2+ years of our daughter’s life, we’ve settled into a pretty equal division of labor in our home, both with childcare and household tasks, and I’d say we’re both pretty happy with how things have shaken out. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect though - we’ve both had to initiate the “I need you to do more to help me” talks with each other; but thankfully, we’ve both been apologetic and receptive to the feedback to each other. We care about being good partners to each other, and a good example to our daughter, and so we do the work to make sure we both have what we need.

While my husband is pretty awesome (I mean, if he wasn’t, why did I marry him?) but he’s not some type of unicorn. He’s just like any other guy and he has the same quirks and annoyances as any other man. The difference is that I clearly communicated to him what was and wasn’t acceptable, and he gives a damn about our family so he does the work that needs to be done. I also have learned to detach from ownership and allow him to parent his own way, with his own relationship with his daughter. He truly can do everything I can do for her, including her hair (which is a thing, trust me!). He’s an adult, so I don’t need to manage how he parents our daughter and dictate every little thing - as long as she clothed and fed and happy, everybody is good.

How’s the division of labor in your home? What do you think keeps more men from being equal partners? Sound off in the comments!