Friday, May 20, 2016

Graduation at NYU

My place of work (and one of my almae matres), NYU, is not a school renowned for being traditional. Being in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, we're not doing any hooprolling and we don't even have a football team. Although I delight in such traditions, I always seem to find myself in schools where that sort of thing is just not the norm.

Luckily, the few traditions NYU does hold are really excellent. Two of them happened this week, and I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer at both! First up was Grad Alley, a giant street festival for graduates and their families. There are giveaways, shows, and my station: the NYU photobooth. I think by now you know how much I love taking snaps, so being the designated NYU photobooth photographer for the evening was a blast. I hope some of the pictures turned out well, because I know those families waited in line for quite a while!

The highlight of my week was absolutely running into one of my former students, Daniel, at the photobooth. All of my students were stars, but Daniel is one of the few who has kept in touch with me, so seeing him on the eve of his graduation after meeting him as a freshman was sort of perfect. I was so excited for him that I almost cried, and I honestly am not a person who cries very much. But graduation is one of those things that makes me really emotional: my own was so beautiful and so hard and in that moment, life seemed more sparkling and full of possibility than it ever had before or has since.

I imagine that's what a lot of people were feeling the very next day, at NYU's commencement ceremony in Yankee Stadium. Leading up to it, there was already a good amount of emotion, because we knew it would be the last graduation for one of my coworkers who has been instrumental in planning it for 20 years. And the day of the ceremony was perfect: blue skies and sea of purple robes.

She wasn't at either of these events, but my best friend from college also graduated this week. Seeing her finish two programs at once with an infant was incredible. She's been a model of fortitude for me for 12 years, and I'm so proud to call her my friend. It was a great day, and I feel so honored to have been able to celebrate all the efforts and work of the students here. It's so inspiring to be surrounded by so many excellent people every day.

Congratulations, graduates, especially Daniel and my other creative writing freshman, and Sarah! Good luck in all you pursue next!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Monthly Spending in April 2016

Net Worth Change from Previous Month: 3.7%
Total Spent: $1432.26

So, this is the fourth month in a row (and, coincidentally, the fourth month in a year) that I spent more than I was hoping to, but I'm determined to get back on the horse in May, and turn things around before the half-way point in the year. Where did the money go? About $900 was planned for, and went to paying my estimated taxes. Around $400 was completely unplanned for because I'm the worst girlfriend and I had forgotten that Roger's birthday is in April, so I wanted to get him a nice briefcase, some new clothes, and take him out to a nice birthday dinner. Definitely do not regret that even a little bit, so there, personal finance gods. The rest was not so bad, because I put some effort into recouping after that binge shopping experience: about $90 on food, $50 on a new duffel bag, $20 on one Uber and one Car2Go, and $25 on a haircut.

I got my last big freelance check in April, which was much appreciated, as always, and just topped off my emergency fund so that I'm 100% funded! It was a great feeling, and I'll write more about it later. I'm hoping to pick up more freelance work over the coming months, and bring that number back up, but for now, I think it's good to get back to living on my normal salary and knowing I don't have much wiggle room beyond my $300 spending goal.

This month, I really want to buy prescription sunglasses, which cost $175, so I'll be buying those soon, and then taking out $30 a week in spending money for the month. Other than that, I don't see any other big expenses popping up (knock on wood). Hopefully getting back to the budget goes off without a hitch!

How's your budget going? Did you meet any exciting goals this month?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016

I hope that wherever you are, you're taking a bit of time today to be outside. I spend a fair amount of time wishing we had easier access to "real nature" because it's easy to forget how wonderful our parks are, even when they're crowded with people. (And in these early warm days, they're very crowded with people.)

But today I spent some time in Washington Square Park at lunch enjoying the sun and the people watching. One day, I'll be close to real nature, and maybe I'll miss these lunchtime adventures. It was, after all, pretty incredible to spend a half hour listening to Coyote and Crow, a fantastic duo from the North Country.

I especially loved watching this couple dancing:

I think a lot about how to get people to care about the earth, how to make everyone realize that we're playing a long game here and have to think about more than just ourselves and the convenience of a Keurig. I'm doubt that all my prodding does much, but I think that spending time outside can help, even in a city, even with the crowds.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy birthday to the best dad on earth! He's in Florida now, working on my parents' new house, but took a little time out this week and bought himself the birthday gift he's been waiting for for years: a new boat. He and my mother took it out last night and saw a pod of dolphins. I think they're going to fit right into their new home.

Dad, one of your former students wrote on your facebook wall this morning (I know you don't read it) and called you his "wonderful instructor," and I think that's a perfect descriptor. From skiing and driving to doing taxes and wrapping an ace bandage, you've taught me so much. I love you and I hope the year ahead is full of all wonderful things for you.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Weekend Wanderings - A Bunch of Brunch

I had a wonderful weekend. The weather was beautiful for what felt like the first time in ages, and I felt like I had a nice balance of productivity and relaxation. And, since I didn't take any photos, these are all from the instagrams of some of the awesome people I saw this weekend.

On Friday, I grabbed lunch at Mile End Deli with Vanessa, a blogger friend who I hadn't met in person yet. It was great chatting with her and hearing about taking her blog full-time. That's not a goal of mine with this blog, but I'm really interested in the business of social media and blogging, so it was great to talk about her experience with it. After the delicious lunch, I dropped her off at the NYU Bookstore, so she could look for a few things for her mother, who is an alumna! We also took this funny snap with one of the silly pillows they have for sale.

On Saturday, Roger and I grabbed brunch at Backyard, which was tasty, but nothing special. We really enjoyed sitting outside in the sun, though! After that, we wandered around 5th Avenue, stopping in at Housing Works and some other stores before grabbing the subway at Atlantic and heading home. Then we decided to make a 9pm trip to the coop, and ran into Caitlin and Tej on our way back. Have I mentioned I love running into people I know? This morning I ran into Alec Baldwin, who I don't know personally, but who I have spoken to on the phone, seen walking his dogs on several occasions, and watched on television enough that I feel like we're friends. Sort of.

On Sunday, I indulged in my third and final brunch out for the weekend, at The Smith's new location in NoMad. It was also a totally solid selection, but more importantly, I got to hang out with some of the coolest ladies in the tri-state area (and one from Washington). Who says you can't make friends on the internet? I'm seriously lucky to have so many great women in my life, and it was awesome to see a few of them this weekend!

After that, I had a class at church and then Roger, Danielle, and I went on a long run to Prospect Park. We took many, many breaks, but it was about 7 miles of walking and running, which was incredible. Clearly I'm very sore today, but it felt good to get back into it. We stopped a bunch along the way, for things as incredible as Smorgusburg—where Danielle and I split a delicious ice cream sandwich from the Good Batch—and listening to Bernie speak at his rally. A lot of fun, even if I felt like I was going to die during some of the running portions.

I'm signed up for three races this summer and today starts my second try at Whole 30, so hopefully this nice warm weekend will be my last weekend of overindulgences for a while. But it was great while it lasted!