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Guest Post: Ch-ch-ch-change

7 Feb

Today’s post comes from a reader and a friend. Jaime and I played roller derby together and from her I learned that hard work, dedication and patience can pay off. I also learned that you can be a seriously hot mama and rock the world just by being yourself. She’s got some really great things to say in this post about being real with yourself, defining and living your best life, and facing challenges head on! I heart her face and hope you all enjoy her piece. -Sport

A year or so ago, a friend of mine started a blog about being 30 and how she was not happy turning the big 3-0. I, an old pro of 33 (at the time), posted a reply stating how wonderful it was. You have money! You are finally comfortable in your own skin! You know what you want to be when you grow up and you get to do it every day!

The truth is – I lied.

Every statement posted was a saccharine-infested fib.

Ninjabread men no like saccharine-infested fibs

For me anyway. Each birthday of my 30s has brought along with it a huge upheaval, both good and bad, of everything I’ve ever known:

• A week before my 30th I started a new job in an industry I thought I would enjoy and could grow in. (Yeah! A grown up job! Finally!)

• On a perfect Colorado fall day, a month after turning 30, I married a wonderful man who thinks I’m amazing (thought that would never happen!).

• For my 31st birthday I had settled into the first trimester of a very welcome pregnancy.

• I celebrated my 32nd birthday with a beautiful 4-month-old baby girl, a “mild” case of post-partum depression (it felt like a horrible case to me, but hey, I’m not a medical professional), and a body that was in constant pain due to hip and lower spine displacement issues. I hated being in my skin. Hated it.

• For my 33rd birthday my husband was two months into his first year of medical school and, unexpectedly, without a job. But I finally had relief from the pain, without drugs, and that was a huge plus.

• Last year, on my 34th birthday, I was down to working only 24 hours a week, which doesn’t leave much room for saving, and was once again pregnant. The cherry on top was the horrible realization that what I was doing for a living was not really what I wanted to do after all.

This year, the year I turn 35, will be the start of a long-term, change of living for our family. In a few short months I will leave my job to be a stay-at-home mom. It was after much debate, much indigestion, and very little sleep that the decision was made.

But I am still concerned about the future.

The realization that, in a few short months, there will be absolutely no income into our household is a bit staggering. How the hell will we provide basic needs for four people with no income?

I’ve always lived a very middle class life – never needed for anything, but never had to utter the ‘B’ word, much less live by it. If we wanted a new coat or book or whatever, we went to the store and got it. No one said “Not this week/month, it’s not part of the budget.” I, we, lived a good life.

We’ve already started the process of re-learning what it means to live your best life, and I admit, it’s been hard on me. I don’t how to live frugally or seriously abide by a budget. While some decisions will be easy (I will gladly eat ramen noodles so my daughter can have fresh strawberries and deli ham, the cable is long gone, and we’re all using cheap shampoo) some will be much harder – what can I sell for grocery/electric/water money? What bill can wait to be paid?

My grandmother always said that god only gives you what he knows you have the strength to handle – I’m going to trust her on that one. So one step at a time is how it’s going to be for now. No point in living life curled up in a ball on the closet floor crying and shoving Oreos into your face.

Besides, I’m always up for a good challenge. Keeps life interesting.

Mustache Rides?

19 Oct

image courtesy of give-us-money.blogspot.com

Every October our dear friend, Ben, grows one of the worst mustaches we have ever seen.

For charity.

So here at TTTM, we wanted to swing our support  behind him and encourage you Scoundrels to do the same.

Mustache 4 Cash supports local non-profits that help “at-risk youth” in the Metro Denver area.  Every October young professionals spend the month growing mustaches and the ladies join the fun by sporting high-res, colored streaks in their hair.

It’s sexy, it’s awesome, it’s for the kids.

The growers and colorers raise funds through donations and then there’s a big party at the end.

During our research, we found that Ben has only raised $5 to date. Um, that just won’t do for a friend of TTTM.  Click on Ben’s name to donate. And remember, Scoundrels, this is for a good cause, so dig into those pockets and show Ben some love. Did I drive that home with the Ben hyperlinks? Good!

For more information or to become a grower or colorer, visit Mustache 4 Cash.

The dark side of co-habitation: part one in a series

1 Oct

I’ve long been the person that would say “let’s just get apartments in the same building” regarding living with a mate.

In theory, it’s the perfect scenario. Separate living quarters for the alone time we all crave, with the convenience of living with in steps on your loved one. Seriously, talk me out of that one. Talk about guaranteeing  the longevity of a relationship.

image courtesy of http://essenceoflifechronicles.comYou add a baby to that equation, and suddenly my bright idea makes for a dysfunctional family waiting to happen. So fine. The boyfriend and I embarked on the Great Apartment Search of 2010.

Holy shitballs, Scoundrels. It’s one thing to search for a place on your own, but it’s a whole different animal to consider the needs, desires and whims of another.

I mean really. Who needs a dishwasher and AC? My fancy pants boyfriend, that’s who.

We finally found a place. After over a month of looking. Note: I’ve gone out looking on a Saturday morning and signed a lease by that same evening. The drama, stress and toll it takes on a person to search Craigslist on the daily for a flipping apartment is something that no one should bear. Especially for a month.

I have discovered that Craigslist is really only good for the Missed Connections listings and PNP (if you’re into that). Otherwise, it’s a cesspool of half truths and misleading location listings. GLENDALE IS NOT CHERRY CREEK, Craigslist. Glendale is a bed bug infested shithole.

In the end, I will say that we did find a great place, in our budget, with AC and a dishwasher and in the neighborhood I wanted. Plus, it’s 1,100 glorious square feet of newly remodeled (read no bed bugs) urban comfort. *sigh of relief*

I know I’m difficult. And as this series progresses, I’ll reveal more about how hard I am to live with.

For today, Scoundrels, tell me. Tell me your apartment hunting with a mate horror stories. Or tell me about how you breezed through the process and happily found the perfect place with no stress.

Although, I may put bodily injury to you up on a vision board if you come to me with that shit. Just sayin’.

From the broke files: It’s a pic-a-nic basket!

6 Aug

By Sara Downey
blogger for meanest look

As the summer winds down, I’m reminded of one of my favorite fair weather activities: picnics!  The true beauty of the picnic is that the you get to decide how much you want your meal to cost. Some picnics can be as simple as a baguette and some wine. Or you can do it old school and pack in some potato salad, chicken and watermelon. Either way, you set the price tag.

Even cartoon bears can appreciate a good picnic.

The flexibility also makes it great for dates. Actually, there is no more perfect date than an impromptu picnic. It’s so romantic to just grab your food and head to a park to sit under the sky and share a meal. Aww tender.

Wait just a minute, is that girl bear topless? What is going on in the world of cartoon bears where the dudes are wearing ties and #nopants but the  lady bears are topless? And what did they bring for their picnic? Is that ice cream? Boo Boo looks suspicious eating a whole carrot on a plate like that. Hmmm, I should have picked out a better picture.

Um, sorry, that was a bit off topic. Back to picnics. In summary, picnics are a great way to rock a budget friendly date. Cartoon bears confuse me.

Scoundrels, what do you pack for a perfect picnic? Also, how effed up were the cartoons we were watching as kids? My goodness!

From the Broke Files: My Top 10 List

14 Jul

Sport posted From the Broke Files a couple of weeks ago and it got me to thinking, mostly about how I’m financially poor, yet so socially rich. I’ve decided to share my top 10 list of socially rich activities that have sort of nudged themselves into my newfound 30s lifestyle.

  1. Going to a baseball game in the rain, eating hot dogs, and sharing a drink with a friend. (Free tickets, btw.)
  2. Impromtu photos shoots with photog friends in the park.
  3. Evening bike rides down the river front.
  4. Taco Tuesdays ($1 Tacos – In your face! Or, my face in this case.)
  5. Happy Hour with the TTTM Community.
  6. Thrift shoppping.  (I’m still learning how to do this. I’m queer. We like to shop. We’ll have more about this in a later post. Stay tuned!)
  7. Picnics and a game of bean bags in the park. *sigh*
  8. Volunteering. Project Angel Heart comes to mind.
  9. Ooooo, brainstorm sessions.
  10. Potluck brunches rooftop. Nom. Nom. Nom.

You see, there is so much that can be done without spending a lot of $$$. And, you betta believe, I’m going to live it up. I guess these are the joys of growing up and becoming comfortable with being yourself. Thank you, 30s.

But what if she ain’t having it?

28 Jun

By theVar
Blogger of StraightenMyTie

Sport,

I was chatting with a male friend the other day about your article From the Broke Files.  He was really picking up what you were putting down…until!  You see, he stepped back and thought about how his girlfriend would be all about free day at the zoo, free day at the art museum, and all the other none-breaking-the-bank (you’re awesome by-the-way) cool and fun things you came up with until she realizes that they are all FREE.

So it got me to thinking.  She’s probably this high-maintenance, face about town, used to getting what she wants, it chick–so to speak. This girl kinda reminds me of Party Girl (the “it” girl we love).  Come to think of it, Sport, she’s not much different than yourself. You both love free shit. Just in different ways.

Now the questions I have are how should/could he deal with her? Readers, what do you think would be a feasible solution for this friend of mine? You know what would be even better.  I want to hear from Party Girl. Would the things Sport mentioned in her post make you cringe or would you welcome them with open arms?

From the Broke Files

24 Jun

By Sara Downey
Blogger of meanest look

Budgeting is not my strong suit. Saving is not my strong suit. Spending is. But this economic reality demands that I watch my pennies. As a result, I’ve gotten good at a few things.

Bargain shopping– like so many of the ladies, and honorary ladies, I la la love to shop. Especially for housewares or clothes. Shoes piss me off. Mostly because I think of them as little orphaned pets in a rescue and I can’t take them all home. So I feel about shoes the same way I feel about puppies and kittens-screw ’em, if I can’t have them all, then I don’t want to visit the pound.

Even at the most wallet-friendly stores, shopping can add up. This is not groundbreaking knowledge, people, just facts. And if you throw my new “I must have it if it says it’s green” compulsion in the mix, then my shit will be broke in no time flat. My solution? Thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales for those oh so green and oh so cute vintage pieces that make my house a home.

And for my clothes addiction? “You just have to look for the sales,” says Maria, a fellow shopper who does wonders with her budgeting.

This is no joke. Maria finds the sales that make me weak in the knees. Seriously, I’ve never seen someone who can sniff out a clearance item- that actually fits – at Anthropologie like Maria.

Happy Hours– I really enjoy driniking. Not in a worried that I’m an alcoholic way, but just in the mojitos on a summer afternoon FTW sort of way.

But 8 dollar mojitos can suck my wallet dry as I wet my whistle. My bottom line is a little thing called “drink specials!”

If you’re a lady, you already know about the disgusting practice known as Ladies’ Night where bars pour us weak drinks and use us as lure for sex starved rejects from Jersey Shore. Ahhh Ladies’ Night.

At many gay clubs there’s one better called “free drinks from 9-10” where the idea is to get the kids there, lube them up with free booze and start the dance party early. It works and is awesome. Although, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t dance before that last free drink at 10. Budgeting.

My favorite of all drink specials is happy hour. Late night or after work, happy hours are the best. Cheap food, cheap drinks and a perfectly acceptable way to order two drinks at the same time to beat the clock. Hell, one place in Denver even brings you both drinks on their 2 for 1 menu at the same time whether you want them to or not.

Free Events– Related to drinking cheaply, there is one way to entertain yourself without spending a dime: free shit!

And here’s the real treat, there are free events on a daily basis if your city is big enough. For example in Denver, there is pretty much always something to do that won’t cost a dime. Everything from free days at the zoo to art gallery openings, guarantee free entertainment. Summer seems to be the season for the most free entertainment with events like movies in the park, and free days at national parks.

The biggest score in Denver is the little known Fresh City Life put on by Denver Public Library. They have a singles club, writing workshops, movie nights, and crafting events all for free all the time.

Our Most Gracious Thank You

18 Jun

Wow! Sara and I are chillaxing at our graphic designer friend’s house in total nostalgia.  I can’t believe it’s been a month already. How about you, Sara?

Sara: Right, and a helluva month at that! Thanks to our readers we’ve begun talking about things that really matter. We’ve begun to build a community. And thanks to our contributors, we’ve found that we’re not alone  in our struggle to navigate our 30s.

LeVar: Sara, do you remember that first post? GC33, what a brave soul you were. I <3 your face. Then we got the woman’s perspective on expectations from Kelly. I just wanna keep her in my pocket to give her x’s and o’s all day long.

Sara: It sure was nice to know that we weren’t alone in our questions.

And do you remember Alison’s moment where at her sister’s high school graduation, she realized that she was old enough to be her mother? Or when the Professor shared what it was like to be leaving his 30s? Or what it’s like for Lorrie as a mom in her 30s.

Or me, entering my 30s. All in the last month. Whew.

LeVar: Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I’m still in awe over Ryan and his commitment to not drinking. Oh, and we will definitely never forget about Party Girl. Can I just live in her shoes for a week I’m sure my legs would look great in her 5 inch heels and a mini dress.

ED, you can unleash that 16 year old anytime you want. *wink*  Adam…”I can still party like I’m 21, but for the two day hangover.” Let’s just say Sara’s 30th last weekend has got to be a testament to that.

Sara: So true! So very true. Thanks for the warning Adam, sorry I didn’t heed it.

LeVar: I don’t know. In all this rambling what we’re trying to say is that we are deeply grateful and overjoyed by all of you and the unconditional support from great friends, talented contributors and this fearless community.

Sara: So thank you, readers. Thank you contributors. Thank you Var for crafting and curating this blog with me.  We had over 3000 unique viewers this past month. Let’s see what we can do from here on out.

Broke, busted or just fine- Finances in your 30s

17 Jun

Over here at TTTM, we’re all about breaking down the walls and tackling taboo subjects head on.

We’re not necessarily wanting to know about your particular financial situation, but rather the things you’ve learned about money and finance in your 30s.

I caught this article today and was wondering how much of this stuff holds true for everyone. Having just entered my 30s, I can see that I’ve got a long way to go on some of the suggestions, but other just seem like common sense.

The 30s seem like a defining decade in personal finance as it looks toward the future in a serious way while balancing current lifestyle choices in an uncertain economy.

What have you learned? Have you struck a balance?

The 30 Year Assessment

15 Jun

By theVar
Blogger of StraightenMyTie

“Am I following my dreams or am I just stuck,” you ask? Mayhaps…to both!?! Just like many of you, my predictions of what 30 and beyond would be was much different than it actually is. I saw myself as a successful editor in a publishing house, or better yet, an English professor pioneering accessible pedagogical methodologies. I know. Ambitious, huh? Oh, the joy of youth and dreaming. What a bastardization of reality!

The fact of the matter is I negotiated the two and found a resting place right in the middle. I’m a copy writer. Not of the New York ad agency, award winning variety; just of the Denver, paying my bills, enjoying my life variety. And as much as I’d like to say I’m not close to where I wanted to be, I really am.  You see at the foundation of those “the sky is the limit” ideas I had of my life during my earlier years was simply being a writer. Trust me. I’m constantly arguing (with myself) that there’s nothing worse than getting what you wanted. Sometimes I think I’m right.

So yes, I am following my dreams. Yes, I am stuck. But, unless you’re some ass-kissing, privileged, over-achieving schmuck (or various combination of the said) you’re in the same boat I’m in—forever reconciling the need to be somebody you thought you’d be with the fact that you are precisely who you want to be. I can hear those of you saying, “I don’t want be here.” If that’s the case, change bitches. Otherwise, my word is bond. Now sit down.

Wait. Before you get comfortable, I’d like to know about your 30 year assessment. Maybe you’re exactly where you knew you’d be. Maybe you’ve taking a few side streets and aren’t quite there. The question is how are you embracing the choices you’ve made?

Images courtesy of Jesse Brettin, SPK Media.

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