One Year Post-Grad (And What Happened In Between)

Exactly one year ago I graduated from Mount Holyoke College. My graduation was the culmination of a four-year long emotional roller coaster and the end of a significant stage in my life. Unlike many of my classmates, I didn’t have a next step in mind. I opted out of grad school or a program like Teach for America. I took a Lauren Conrad (a Hills-ian?) approach to life; I was excited by the fact that for the first time ever, I didn’t know where I was going to end up.

The fear of impending adulthood? Or just a look of someone who is overeducated and blissfully unaware of what will come next.

After a weekend filled with pomp and circumstance, some kooky traditions (especially to you outsiders who don’t get the women’s college thing), and not too much celebration (I’m still waiting for that congratulatory card, dear brother), I settled into my post-college life. My days became defined by a frantic job search and just keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks to a shitty economy and my general stubbornness, my job prospects greatly depended on good fortune.

I decided after my graduation that I should do something very selfish: absolutely nothing. I had spent 21 years doing exactly what I was supposed to do — participate in an obscene number of extracurriculars, do well in school, go to a good college, graduate with honors — all that crap. I needed and wanted a break. Knowing that the economy sucked aided my decision to take what I intended to be a three-month vacation before setting out into the “real world”.

In retrospect, this was such a dumb idea. I never quite found my footing and as my friends from school have slowly figured out their next step, I am still limping along. I’ve settled into a very normal pattern of not doing too much. I spend so much time with my retired father that I have acquired the habits of a 60-year-old man. I am fairly certain that my stress levels have never been this high before, even when I was writing a thesis.  And I developed some ridiculous coping methods in the form of the Kardashians, Degrassi, and my cat.

Nothing is stronger than the bond between a recent college graduate and her cat.

I wouldn’t change anything about this year. I needed to gain some footing and figure out exactly what I wanted, which at this time is still fairly undefined. But I’m getting there. That is all that matters. (I would insert Sara Bareilles’ song “Uncharted” here but Audrina Patridge’s reality show has effectively ruined it for me.)

And now, here is a list of (almost) everything I did in the year after my college graduation.

End of May: Hello New Jersey! I Sort of Missed Ya

For the first week after I moved back home after graduating, my parents were excited that their beloved youngest spawn was home. But then that beloved youngest spawn didn’t live up to the precedents the three other children set and the nagging began. “Have you updated your resume? What jobs did you apply to today? When are you taking the GREs?” Sure, they were just being my parents but it didn’t help move my situation progress any faster.

June: The scrapbook to end all scrapbooks

First step post-graduation? Preserving my precious college memories before I’m old and riddled with Alzheimers. Two months of glitter, glue, embellishments, and paper cuts resulted in this mother of a scrapbook. Nine pounds of magic! Just like the New Years baby except way more sparkly.

4 years, 80 pages and 9 pounds = 1 scrapbook

June – September: The story of a classy alcoholic wine connoisseur

My best friend and I decided to enjoy the last summer before our impending doom adulthood. We went to every winery in great state of New Jersey. Stop laughing. New Jersey wines are good.

Happy times on the NJ wine trail.

Don’t be mistaken. Just because I was pleasantly inebriated and swaying to the sounds of Mumford and Sons most of the summer, I was pretty lost. I still did not have the answer for the allusive, “Now what are you going to do with your life” question. I was applying for jobs I didn’t really care about and not getting many responses. Except for when I was at wineries with Heather, I was alone. Very alone. Shit just wasn’t working out as smoothly or as quickly as I thought would.

July: I discover the Kardashians

Good lord these twits are annoying. They make any educated woman who is prone to self-loathing (me) hate herself even more. If a big ass, too much make-up, a sex tape, an alcoholic boyfriend, an unplanned pregnancy, and the inability to pronounce the letter “g” in words ending in “ing” are all it takes to earn a living, then I’m screwed.

Also in July: Degrassi consumes my life

What was my life like before I watched Degrassi? Answer: Very, very sad. Degrassi: The Boiling Point consumed my summer. This show is so unbelievably watchable and addictive. It is just one of many series I watched

Also in July: Social Media becomes a life raft.

Twitter! Foursquare! GetGlue! Untappd! If it is a social media platform, then you better believe I use it. I signed up for Foursquare on July 11 and it made my days of extreme power walking through downtown Cranford more bearable. That’s right. Extreme power walking. I hit all the major travel destinations this New Jersey oasis has to offer – the post office, the Cranford Hotel, the movie theater, the library, the movie theater, the library… And for a brief moment this summer, I was the mayor of all four hot spots.

August: I develop an inexplicable fear of serial killers

My parents spent weeks in upstate NY. They even took the cat with them. So what do you when you are alone? In my case, watch too much E! and become petrified of the non-existent Rahway River strangler.  Logically, I set up what I considered be the most effective deterrent against this mass murderer: hide at night in the one bedroom that someone would have to break down three doors to get into. Clearly, I was completely together.

September – November: Wait, things are working out! (Maybe?)

I moved to Boston in late August for an internship. Out of general convenience, I was living with my sister. Don’t get me wrong. My sister and I love each other dearly, just when there are hundreds of miles between us. Living with us was essentially world wars three through six. On more than one occasion her boyfriend would send us both to our rooms.

Also in September: I turn 22

When reaching your mid-twenties one should keep in mind what the wise sage Jessica Simpson once said: ” Well, 23 is old! It’s almost 25 which is almost mid-twenties.” Or as I tell myself: “Joanna, you still have three more years to flounder around before you are a real fuck up.” (Sidebar: I miss Newlyweds. Without you I have to suffer through the blight that is Audrina.)

I am a refined 22 year old woman

Clearly

October

I don’t remember this month. It was the one time all year post-college I was actually busy. I did go to a Phoenix concert though. So yeah.

Also, this happened.

November: I move into Starbucks

By the end of this month, I frequented more Starbucks in Boston than you would care to know. It got to a point that the baristas knew me and knew my drink. The Starbucks in my neighborhood became my hangout. It turns out that I am most productive surrounded by the sounds of coffee machines, the smells of bad coffee, and over-caffeinated white people talking loudly on their smart phones. Go figure.

November – December: Holidaze!

Cut that poultry, Dad!

Rockefellor Center at Christmastime is a deathtrap

Salem the Christmas cat!

January: It’s a New Year! 

2011, yo!

Also in January: Later Boston, Hello again New Jersey!

My sister gave me an ultimatum: leave her apartment or be killed in your sleep by someone who looks strikingly similar to you. So with nothing working out at the rapid fire speed I was expected to get it together, I found myself back in dirty Jerze. It was time to refocus. I told myself, “Things WILL be different this time!” No more moping around feeling sorry for myself, less drinking, more job applications, no more Kardashians. It will be a-mazing (she said in the way of Mila Kunis in Black Swan.)

February: At least I have the Oscars and Spider-Man, the one disaster worse off than me!

The best part about not being in college anymore is that I could finally get into the Oscars in a way I never could before. I saw every movie nominated. It kind of saved me from my misery during the month of February. Even better spirit lifting pop culture brevity? Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. There is nothing quite like going to see the most talked about Broadway musical of recent memory with a countless number of your high school teachers. (“Joanna, are you still really into movies?”) Why did I go with them? Because this kid was in it and I went to high school with him. That was a definite low interesting point. (A yellow school bus may also have been involved.)

March: It’s Always Sunny in Florida

March began with a week long therapy session visit to Mount Holyoke, a place where everything is surrounded by rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. It is also a place where you can draw countless penguins with sidewalk chalk on a walkway and still be considered normal.

March of the Penguins

I then visited my 93-year-old grandfather in Florida for a week. Spending that week with him was really valuable. It goes without saying that had I been working, chances are I wouldn’t have been able to see him as his health continues to decline.

A scene of overwhelming adorableness and of generational differences.

Apparently there are beaches in Florida but since they weren’t directly outside of the window in my grandfather’s nursing home, I didn’t know it.  I did go to Miami for a day… for a funeral. Does that even count? There were Cubans there.

Also in March: I became a very minor controversial YouTube sensation

And then I learned and accepted that the Internet gives people who are probably very nice in real life an apparent right to be assholes.

April: Cry into a bowl of soup

I have developed new fighting tactics with my parents, who are kind of sick of me at this point. When fighting with my dad, I start telling him about my menstrual cycle, ignoring the fact that he has three daughters so that shit really doesn’t phase him. When fighting with my mom, I start shouting, “Mom, if you don’t leave me alone I will punch you in your C-section scar!” (Also ineffective because this is her response: “Please, that shit is so old by now. I can’t feel anything there.”) Because those insults don’t work I turned to the most proven set of fighting words: “It’s not my fault you accidentally had a fourth child.” (Don’t you wish I was your child?)

Surprisingly this doesn’t work either. Yelling at my parents and shutting them out only frustrates them. But crying into a bowl of soup (my tears literally were falling into a bowl of delicious soup) shows them that I do actually care and I’m not just freeloading. Since this happened, my parents have backed off and chosen to trust me again.

 Also in April: I claim to not give a shit but still obsess over the Royal Wedding

Everyone does realize that Kate Middleton never really had a job after she graduated from college, right? She just waited around until Prince William finally got over himself and proposed to her. Just thought I would point that one out.

May: At an IKEA outside of Cincinnati.

Last May, if you asked me where I would be one year after graduating college, neither an IKEA outside of Cincinnati nor the Kentucky Derby would have made the list. It just goes to show you that you really can’t predict the future.

Seriously at an IKEA in Ohio.

Kentucky Derby!

Kentucky Derby: Animal Kingdom is in there somewhere

Now, one year later, I am currently sitting in my sister’s old bedroom as I furiously finish this post before my dad calls out, “Yo, JoJo get your ass downstairs for dinner.” Since moving back home, I have taken over two rooms and I essentially roam one half of my parents house. I think if I didn’t have blogging or social media I would have gone completely nuts.

Yeah, this year has mostly sucked in terms of my life progressing but all in all, it ended up being a very fulfilling year. I traveled a bit, kept in touch with my closest friends, and even made some new ones.  I kept busy. I will move past this eventually. I’m a “smart kid” after all. (Thanks for complimenting my intelligence to the plumber, dad!) Besides, I’ll always have the movies; they’ve been a real life saver.

Wow, that is a pretty depressing note to end on. How about this one instead?

I hope this post has given all you 2011 graduates tons of hope for the coming months! It is one distressing fun ride.

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3 thoughts on “One Year Post-Grad (And What Happened In Between)

  1. You are frealsies hilarious JoJo. Keep on writin’. You know artists ain’t got shit unless they’re deep in it. Damn, that’s a sweet-ass aphorism that I just made up. A’ight I will stop riddling your website with obsenities now.

    PS Next month’s post should be of how June became an ode to Philadelphia and it’s area residents. just sayin’

    • Liz, you are wonderful! Thank you for reading and sharing such moving prose. Clearly you learned a thing or two in GA. And yes, I think an ode to Philadelphia shall certainly happen in the coming weeks. :)

  2. Pingback: Two Years Post Grad: Things Are (Maybe) Looking Up | For Cinephiles by a Cinefille

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