Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jeff and Laura's Philadelphia Wedding

We had such a blast two weekends ago, when we we went to Philadelphia to celebrate our first HWS wedding! Laura and Jeff went to college with Roger, and we couldn't have been happier to watch them get married on February 13th.

I don't have a ton of time to recap our trip, which was mostly split between hanging out with friends at Laura and Jeff's gorgeous new house in Fishtown for their pre-wedding pizza party, the wedding itself, and hanging out with friends at Jenny's gorgeous apartment (where we also spent both nights we were there - thanks for hosting, Jenny!). But we did try one brunch spot that was delicious and definitely worth mentioning: Garces Trading Company. One of the best brunches I've had, so definitely check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

Thanks so much for having us at your wedding, Laura and Jeff! I hope your honeymoon in Montreal was fantastic. Can't wait to see you all again soon!

The wedding was catered by an incredible barbecue place. Christine warmed her hands by their pit before we could get into the venue.

Can't wait for James and Emily's wedding this summer!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Two Constructions

I really love these two images of a construction site near our apartment, taken last weekend. The first one is Roger's, the second one, mine. I always want to see inside the sites, so it was a little thrilling when we came upon this one, with no plexiglass in its cut-out windows. 

Every time I see a building being torn down, I think of that moment in You've Got Mail, where she talks about the city changing and her store closing:
People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all has happened. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It's a lovely store, and in a week it will be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it'll just be a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But the truth is I'm heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and my mother has died all over again, and no one can ever make it right.
I still, somehow, feel a pang of sadness when I walk past the corner where my favorite deli used to be. Honestly, and it must be half a decade since. It wasn't that there would never be another good, warm grilled cheese or ham and swiss sandwich. It was just that it was there one day, and then it was gone, and I'll never know what happened to the very nice lady at the cash register who was, once, a person I saw more often than some of my closest friends. I've written about this sort of loss before, and so has Colson Whitehead, only better.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weekend Wanderings - The GRE

I took the GRE this weekend. I also saw one of my favorite infants, had tea with one of my favorite couples, and watched the Super Bowl with one of my favorite groups. But what really stood out was the GRE.

I studied a lot over the fall, and then once I started freelancing this winter, it fell by the wayside. I crammed a lot the last two weeks, and now I know all about geometry, which is really interesting to me. I guess that's what's sort of sad to me, is that all the math is pretty interesting to me, even though ultimately I did not do as well on that section as I should have. As my friend said yesterday, when I mentioned I only got in the 40th percentile for math, "It's a shame you're applying for business school." It is, but honestly? I'm pretty sure I did even worse on the Literature GRE in 2008. I think maybe I was in the 20th percentile for that? It wasn't pretty. It's a shame I was applying for English PhDs then.

If I don't get into grad school, I'll either have to try again with this test and with math, or consider to myself that I likely won't ever have to learn this math again. Except maybe when my own child is learning it in school, and I'm sitting at the dining room table, frustrated because it will be easy for me, and maybe less easy for them. What I'm saying is I wish I'd had a chance to realize I love math before 11th grade. I wish I'd had a chance to realize I love math before I already hated it so, so much, and had basically already devoted my life to being a Person Of Letters. Math is awesome, guys! Presumably I'll be saying the same thing to a crying child, 15 years hence. I was that crying child once.

And a note on that: I did reasonably well on the verbal section, and got in the 95th percentile, and then was instantly angry at myself for not having done better, for missing a few questions. And then I was subsequently angry at myself for being angry at myself about that. For a long time, I told my parents that they pushed me too hard, that they were never happy with anything I did, and they told me that they were always happy with everything I did and that I was the one pushing myself, and I honestly thought that was bullshit, until I looked at that perfectly reasonable score and got mad.

Anyway, that's over at least.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Monthly Spending in January 2016

Net Worth Change from Previous Month: -3.7%
Total Spent: $5,797 (or $347 monthly expenses)

I tried to get back on track with spending again this month (in honor of the New Year, maybe), and it semi-worked. I say semi-worked because I actually spent nearly $7,000, which, not great. But, $4,500 of that was for taxes, and was just waiting patiently in my tax savings account for me and $950 of that was for buying a plane ticket and then paying it off with credit card points. For my regular, non-saved for expenses, I used $150 in cash and gift cards from Christmas to live on for the first two weeks of the month, and then the second two weeks I ended up spending $197. So, I was technically $47 over budget for the month, but not that's not terrible, and most of that $47 was on gifts. I can't help myself, it seems, with gifts. Some other things I bought: a needlepoint pillow with a bunny on it and a Vera Bradley duffle bag from eBay, a Groupon to go to the Russian & Turkish Bath Houses. A few lunches out, but nothing too crazy, thanks to a lunch share with Cat every other week.

More freelance checks came in this month, which was fantastic. I've put some of that money aside for taxes and the rest of it went into my emergency fund, which I'm happy to say is 74% full. Next month, I may slow up on the emergency fund and put a little more into an account for when we get a dog. We'll have to see. I'm pretty sure next month will be a little lower in income, as this project starts to end. I feel really lucky and honored to have had the chance to work on it. I've learned a lot, and paying for a trip to India and getting 3/4 of the way to an emergency fund is nothing to sniff at.

For February, I'll take out $75 each week again, since I think that was a big part of my success this month. A few costs I'm anticipating: travel costs to Philadelphia for a wedding and to Albany for a baby shower, new contact lenses, and vaccines and malaria pills for India. Those last two I'm going to pull out of the money I have saved for travel (because I only really use contact lenses when I travel). The travel expenses and cost of gifts for those other two I'm going to do my best to pull out of the $75 I give myself each week. I've already bought gifts for the baby shower (see above) and I think if I scrimp a bit on lunches out, I should be okay to give a decent gift at the wedding, too.

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