14 August 2015

On having nice things

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

I did not grow up with money. We were comfortable, but after my parents split, that changed.

I worked a lot to have money to provide for myself throughout high school and college. And when I started working professionally, and did so for a long time, I got used to finally treating myself to nicer things. Or just treating myself in general and not feeling guilty about it.

That’s the thing about being told regularly that you don’t deserve nice stuff, you feel guilty buying it.

But eventually I got a little more lenient about that. I still lived on a budget and put money in savings, but I also had a pretty healthy social life. Out during the week, out on weekends, going to try new places, and never feeling guilty about buying drinks, dinner, clothes, shoes, etc.

Then, I got laid off, and suddenly all of that security disappeared.

One of the hardest parts about being unemployed is that you don’t know how long it can last. So, you have to budget (or I did), but I had to be really conservative because I didn’t know when I would find work again. Or, work that I wanted to be doing.

Going out all but stopped, I lived on an even tighter budget, and shopped my closet as much as possible, finding, hey some of those clothes I treated myself to….still had tags on them. So, that was fine too. Really, that worked out.

But the mentality of needing to ration, cut back and just survive, stays with you. You look at things in the store and ask yourself, do I really need that? Do I really want that? Wow that seems expensive, I could just hold out or go find something similar for cheaper.

And when you’re with friends who haven’t had to do something like this, it’s even MORE awkward. I don’t mind watching people spend money, but when your friend pays $50 for a cotton tank top, you’re like, dude really?

When I finally got paid from my new job, I paid all of my bills but found that I still felt like I couldn’t spend money on fun stuff. I paid off all other little debt stuff I owed, which was a huge piece of mind, but I still found myself unable to even just go out to dinner one night, or when I did with friends, I would find myself adding up the bill and my part immediately, just like when I was unemployed.

The mentality of feeling okay with having some dispensable income again and not feeling like you need to hoard every dollar because who knows when you’ll get paid again, is a harder transition than I expected. Just like when I had to slow my life down to a baby crawl months ago.

I can adjust to having no money, since I grew up like that, but the fear that it could all go away again, takes longer to fade.

So, I’m working on trying to be more social and get out a bit more. I don’t doubt this will take more time, but for now, owning that I’m aware of this separation and the desire to slowly get back out there, will get better.

No real point to this, just something I thought I’d share :)


11 August 2015

Post traumatic growth

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

While getting my hair done last weekend (insert adorable emoji), I was forced to read real magazines of substance, like Time. Let’s just say, someone getting highlights was hogging the Us Weekly‘s.

And while I was exercising my brain as my color processed, I stumbled upon an article that caught my attention. It’s about Post Traumatic Growth.

According to the article, Post Traumatic Growth was named in 1996 but recently has been a renewed focus of researchers. And the best way to summarize it is this, “The suffering that resulted from these horrible experiences was not an endpoint. Instead it acted as a catalyst, pushing these people to change for the better…Trauma sent them on a path they never would have found otherwise.”

To say I can relate to this in some capacity is an understatement. Sure, I’m not an Olympic athlete whose career dreams were dashed, and I’m not even close to those who serve in our military and endure overseas and then return to the U.S.

But the idea of using something traumatic to enact positive change, is something I can really connect with.

Losing my job and my grandmother (who was an integral part of my life) in the span of a month, was extremely traumatic. And I still feel a strong part of that loss. But, that experience and me “flipping the switch,” pushed me in a completely different direction. I left and traveled for three months, and then returned to Chicago with a new perspective and, hopefully a long-term new attitude on life.

I’ve started little things of “self betterment.” Reading 30 minutes a day, watching less TV, focusing on more positive relationships in my life, and re-establishing a connection with family and the closeness I felt we developed while dealing with my grandmother’s loss.

But I can’t say professionally it’s pushed me (yet) where I want to be. But having a clearer idea and new approach to it, will help.

And the thing I liked a lot about this article too is that for many people who talked to the researcher and had something traumatic happen, their lives weren’t 100% puppies and rainbows. They still had hard times (cough, like me applying for jobs), but overall their lives were better. And as my birthday approaches and I look back at this time last summer and how fucking miserable I was, I can say I’m in a better place now, even if I am not where I ultimately want to be, yet.

Just thought I’d share this.



03 August 2015

Letter to my nephew: First birthday

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Dear Derrick –

You are almost one year old. Last summer, I wrote you a letter (while you were still unnamed) that talked about the hopes I had for you and me together as aunt and nephew. And now that we have been together for almost a year, I thought it was time to write you another letter. Be warned, it gets mushy.

The day you were born, was such a happy day. I had my phone practically taped to my hand waiting for news from your dad. The night before you were born, I talked to your dad before midnight and he said that you would arrive sometime the next day. And then, just a few hours later, around 2am-ish, I woke up for no reason, only to hear my phone ring almost immediately and your dad said, “your nephew is here.” I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night because I was so excited. And a week later, I came back to Milwaukee to see you in person, and that is when I fell so madly in love with you, I knew I would never be the same. Don’t get me wrong, I loved you before you were born, but seeing you in person, it made that love multiply by a million.

For several reasons, I also got to spend a lot of time with you when you were around 3-5 months old. And during that very dark and sad time, our family, including you, is what got me through. You reminded me of what’s really important in life. You were the brightest spot during a time of endlessly applying for jobs and visits to the hospital, hospice, and then funeral home. You reminded me that I’m your Auntie Jess and that it doesn’t matter where I work or what I do because a) I feed you and b) love you unconditionally. Watching you start to grow and take shape was so fulfilling. I saw you smile, try to roll over, and eventually crawl, and I’m so glad I got to be there for those moments when you were young. I swear you knew who I was, even at this age. Because you would look at me and just smile, and that made me so happy. Leaving you for three months was horrible. You changed so much while I was gone, even though we Skyped early morning in Vietnam at very late night in Australia. Seeing you reminded me what I was coming back to.

I tell everyone how wonderful it is to be an aunt. I want everyone to experience it because you make me so happy that I cannot imagine someone not feeling that way. As of today, I have 98 photos of you marked as “favorite” in my phone, which is just the abridged number of photos I can reference to show friends when I force them to look at photos of you. If I ever need a pick-me-up, I look at those photos, and I’m instantly happier. You just have that effect on me.

And now that you can stand and are shaping in to that much more of a little boy, I’m still so excited to see how you grow up and the kind of man you become.

Your mom and dad called me while I was in Laos (post-food poisoning) and asked me to be your co-godmother. That term has a lot of meanings, but what I swear to you is that, I will always be there for you. If you need advice, to vent or to ask for help (and can’t talk to your parents), I’ll never let you down. I have a lot of life experience, random and practical, and I will teach you as much as I can. And, this applies even if we’re in different states or parts of the world. I’ll always listen or hold you if you need it. But I won’t lie to you or tell you what you want to hear. I’m not religious, but I will support you in whatever spiritual or non-journey you take. Unless it’s to a cult, then Auntie Jess is going to have to come get you and knock some sense in to you. These promises I make to you are the same as I did in my last letter, but are just that much more true now.

You are the love of my life, and I’m so glad you are my nephew. Thank you for giving me the best job I’ve ever had.

Happy birthday Derrick. I love you to the moon and beyond (and back).


Your Auntie Jess

27 July 2015

Failing at Monday

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Today I failed at Monday. Or, to quote Office Space, I had a case of the Mondays. Big time. Almost to the point of saying, hey I need to go home and just start over again, okay?

I have a routine in the mornings to get myself up, cleaned up, dressed and out the door by a specific time, with my little lunch bag and if needed, workout clothes too. Yes, I’m still not back on morning workout time, one day.

And today, for some odd reason, that little routine all went to shit and I turned up at work later than I wanted and a hot mess. Literally, it was hot outside.

I don’t even know when my Monday started going wrong too, but somewhere between the shower and walking out my door, I managed to do the following:

  • Forget to put on moisturizer. I’m big about skincare too so I don’t even know how this happened. But problem solved, I put it on over my final make up because, as I stood in my hallway trying to decide about whether or not to just put it on or leave immediately for work, I decided to just do it.
  • Run BACK to my apartment to verify I brushed my teeth. Turns out, did not, and thus delayed again. But in the name of good breath, worth it.
  • Verify in my elevator that I put on deodorant. Seriously you guys, I’m batting a thousand today.
  • RUN to the bus stop to catch my bus downtown, which in 75 degree weather and humidity, makes me look dewey, and not in a good way.
  • Forget HALF of my lunch at home in its little containers and thus, creating a less than ideal lunchtime at work.

Oh, and midday result of putting moisturizer on over make-up was HILARIOUS.

To quote Clueless, I looked like a full-on Monet, which means, “From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.” Welcome to my face.

I have plans after work too, so hopefully nothing else weird happens today and tomorrow I get a fresh start.

Or at least remember moisturizer because that was a big hot mess.



06 July 2015

The truth about unemployment

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Today, I went back to work. Thus, ending my period of unemployment.

And now that I’m officially transitioning back to a normal schedule, I wanted to write honestly about my experience in unemployment.

Because unemployment sucks. Job searching, sucks. And after talking with female friends who went through similar situations, I realized that I wasn’t alone in how I felt, and that made me feel better. So, I thought I would write about it here in hopes that others find comfort in it too.

Remember, this is my experience as a female who was unemployed for a period of time. Not all of this may be relevant to you, but, if you know someone in the same situation, it may be helpful to them.

Unemployment is awful. Especially if you’re unemployed for an extended period of time.

Unemployment was the closest I’ve been to a serious depression in a few years. There were days where I wanted to scream and yell in frustration because I was trying and putting myself out there, and many times, I got nowhere.

Unemployment breaks down your confidence, emotional stability and motivation. It also can make you a bit of a recluse and slightly unhappy person.

Unemployment makes you wonder if you’re a fraud, and question if you are actually qualified to do anything. It builds you up, and breaks you down at the same time, chipping away a little each day.

Unemployment will humble you, and change your perspective on your everyday life, as well as your friendships.

So what was my experience and also my advice looking back? Well, let’s dig in.

During your period of unemployment, you need strong, supportive people around you. Those who love you for you, who build you up and listen to you when you ramble or just vent about how shitty your search may be going. And who don’t judge you when you are just in a funk or pissed off about your situation. Friends who root for you when you go on interviews and who volunteer unselfishly to help and actually follow through. Those are the people who will get you through this. And, some of your friends will disappoint you. That doesn’t mean they aren’t actually your friends, but, you have to decide if they are the best people to be around when you are having a bad day.

You will also have to find a way to deal with inevitable jealousy and anger that will come up. Jealousy toward friends who advance in their careers while…you’re floundering. Or those who move on to awesome jobs or career moves that you’re supportive of, but also jealous of because…why can’t that happen to you? Sometimes, that means putting a little distance between you, just for now. Because sometimes, when it all converges and everyone is bragging about how awesome their lives are, you are going to feel like shit. Because you’re life isn’t maybe so awesome and you have no work talk to contribute to. Know when those situations are happening, and excuse yourself from it, or talk about Game of Thrones or whatever. Trust me, it’s for the best.

You never know how long it can take to get a job (seriously, it can take months). So, put yourself on a budget. Not knowing how long my period of unemployment would last, I put myself on a serious weekly budget, covering my bills but also allowing for a little money to go out, shop and get groceries. Sticking to it is tough. Especially when you’re out with friends and they can drop $50 on dinner and drinks and you’re like, shit that’s half of my going out budget gone in one night. Watching them spend money while you pinch pennies, can be tough. Trust me. A few months ago, a friend came to town for the weekend and I had to tell her before dinner that I couldn’t split the bill among those going out, that I could only cover myself. She was supportive and understood, but I hated having to say it out loud to her.

Unemployment is also humbling. Reaching out to friends or former colleagues to network and not only catch up, but also ask if they could keep you in mind for jobs, or talk about what happened and why you’re looking. Some will be helpful, some will not. Some will dig to get gossip and then not return texts or emails. Some will send you links and promise to introduce you to people, and then don’t. There isn’t any way to make that easier, all you can do is roll with it, and not hold it against them.

And then we get to the most painful part of unemployment (worse than any of the above), which is job searching.

Job searching is like dating, in the worst way possible.

Because when you need a job and others have it, you are not in control.

You find jobs that are exactly made for you, you apply, and hear nothing. Or you do a screener call with a recruiter/HR person who has NO idea what you do so they don’t understand your answers or even how to explain the current job that’s open. And that’s if you get to talk to them. Many times they take the easy way out and just don’t reply to calls or voicemails, a symbol they have moved on, but just without the courtesy of telling you that. Seriously, I’m not a mind reader. Just fucking break up with me. Or, they relist the job immediately after talking to you. I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!

You need to have thick skin, but goddamn it is tough. Because unemployment wears that skin down quickly. Soon, jobs that seemed perfect for you a month ago, maybe aren’t because your confidence takes a hit. You don’t know what you should apply to? Maybe? And when you do interview, the more you do it, a nagging voice develops in the back of your head, saying, can you really do that? What if I’m a total fraud?

The inevitable conversation about why you’re no longer with your former company will come up. And it’s a mixed bag of how it goes. Some empathize and some don’t. Or they dig for gossip and then move on. I had one woman laugh at me when I told her (it wasn’t funny). Apparently she found it hilarious. I guess.

The worst example was from a corporate job interview where the woman looked at my resume and said smugly, “so, you just decided to up and quit your job, and then take time off to travel, and now you’re sitting here interviewing for this job, how can I take you seriously?”

Yeah, that upset me. A lot. But, in my post-Asia zen, I laughed and nicely (but pointedly) corrected her. Leaving her stammering and saying, “oh, I was wrong.”

So, that’s what I have to say about my unemployment experience. If you want to chat more about this offline or share your experiences, feel free to do so in the comments, or email me directly at myeverydayadventures@gmail.com.

Trust me, you need support while you’re going through unemployment. And those of us who have made it through, or are going through it, should stick together.

Oh, and I’m sure some people reading this will be like, WTF WHY ARE YOU SHARING SO MUCH. I refer then to my statement at the beginning of this post. Knowing others felt the way I did during unemployment helped me a lot. I felt less alone. So, I hope this will help others who feel the same, but may not have someone to talk about it with.

That’s all I have for now!


  • Early holiday decorations (not before Thanksgiving!)
  • Muffin tops (not the bakery-kind)
  • Bar Louie restaurant
  • Laundry machine hogs
  • County sales tax (10.25 percent - come on!)
  • Michael Scott
  • Harry & David
  • Chicago meteorologists