Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

 

FAR & BEC

FAR & BEC

Pictured above is the end of my social life. I have a few words to say about that, but first:

One month, thirty days, four weeks. Woo!

When I arrived in Fargo 9 months ago, I was pretty sure of a few things. I was pretty sure that the upcoming 8 months were going to be the longest of my life, BUT I was also pretty sure that my friends and family were going to help me make it the best it could be. Every single day I get closer to the Wednesday I get to leave my hometown, Fargo, the more excited I get even though I’m pretty sure there is no way I could get anymore excited (Mother Nature is even trying to amp up the excitement! Ah, NoDak…). I’m proud of myself for working for it, pushing for it, and for not settling. Looking back, there were so many times where I could have taken the route that was easy and comfortable. I could have the same friends, live in the same place, do the same things, wait for others to knock down my door with opportunities, and continue to pretend to be happy and satisfied with the direction of my life.

BUT, here I am – ready and eager to start fresh with my family supporting me and my ride or die’s by my side to ease me into my new, Jersey lifestyle.

What is the Jersey lifestyle, you ask?

Well, for me it will be studying for the CPA, and then reviewing for the CPA, and then taking the CPA and then repeating that process about 3 more times. GTL: Getting my CPA, Trying to get my CPA, and Literally trying so hard to get my CPA. I’m not planning on working this summer so that I can pour myself into my studies on a full-time basis. The talk around town is that treating it like a full time job is the best way to prepare yourself for success. And, also this:

Passing the CPA                    XXX

 Social Life                                XXX

I’m making a Pinterest board of study tips ‘n stuff to help get me through this long summer of studies, and I came across an article that had a wonderful mantra (and also my post title): Failing to plan is planning to fail. I hope that you love that as much as I do because I’m about ready to get it tattooed on my forearm.

I’ve ordered my review books (REG & AUD are being updated in May and I’ve chosen to delay their shipment so that I’ll have the most up-to-date study material) and I’ve chosen to attend in-class lectures for each section. I’m very fortunate that the firm I’ll be working for is footing the bill for my review material, and that the program that I am using has a variety of study methods to choose from, so that each CPA candidate can choose the method that is the best for them.

The review classes I’ll be taking are at Monmouth University – right next to….the beach! I know that you’re probably not surprised. Before you get all judge-y, those were the classes that worked the best with my schedule. That location just has the added benefit of being extremely close to the beach. On that note, I also want to mention that I have full faith in myself in discovering a way to make beach-study days a norm. It’s actually a longstanding goal of mine to pass my CPA while simultaneously getting tan.

If you’re studying for, have studied, have failed, have passed, have taken the exams X amount of times, I’d love to hear from you! Check out my contact page for more information, or connect with me via insta or twitter.

 

’til next time,

-S

 

 

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Take 2

I’m going to dive right in…it’s been 8 months since I’ve written anything.

There were a number of reasons for this; I didn’t feel like writing, I didn’t feel like anything in my life was worth writing about, I didn’t make time for it, I was upset about how bad I was with keeping up with writing, I got some constructive criticism that I took personally when I shouldn’t have, et cetera.

After a lot of thought, I realized a few things. The most important being: I don’t need to be apologetic. When I don’t feel like writing, I don’t have an obligation to write. Relative to others, my life may be slightly less than exciting, but those people don’t have to read about my life. Lastly, constructive criticism is meant to help and I received it because somebody read my blog. At the end of the day, that’s pretty cool and more-or-less my objective, here.

I decided to shift the focus of my writings from “cool summer internship” to things that require more than one summer’s worth of focus so that my blog has a legitimate, on-going purpose. I’m at a stage in my life where everything is in an upheaval – and this time, I’m learning to embrace it instead of shrink back into my comfort zone. I’m graduating college, I’m moving across the country, I’m starting my first career, and I’m about to begin studying for the CPA exam. There definitely has to be a market of crazy change-embracing kids like me, right? Right.

 

Let’s start from square one: Hi, I’m Shea.

What’s been going on?

Glad you asked. In the last 8 months I have made a lot of difficult decisions that have lead to a lot of self discovery. I like to think that I grew a lot as a person this last summer + school year, and in not so many words I’m in no way, shape, or form the same person I was when I first left my home town of Fargs (Fargo). I learned to take risks, try new things, and most importantly, to stand up for myself. I don’t feel the way I used to, I don’t think the way I used to, I don’t run with the same crowd I used to; I’m just not who I used to be. I kind of had to start over. Despite the fact that these changes produced a lot of downtime and lonely nights in these last 8 months, I firmly believe these changes were the best thing I have ever done for myself. It has really helped me focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my time left in Fargs, and prepare for the next step ‘n stuff.

So now what?

In slightly less than six weeks, I will be relocating to New Jersey to start the next part of my life. I’ve accepted a job offer with an amazing accounting firm starting in September. Why move now? I have to take this super dreadful exam to become a CPA, and my review classes are set to start right away. I’m not going to pretend like it’s going to be anything other than scary, difficult, tear-producing, etc., BUT I did make a promise to myself to quit saying “when I don’t pass” or “when I have to retake each part six times” because well, that’s not really positive. Also, while the whole CPA thing was the bulk of my decision to move sooner rather than later, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have anything to do with me missing my friends and the dirty Jerz.

I’m still working on maintenance pieces, so you’re patience is appreciated while I nit-pick over colors and layouts and fonts and blah blah blah etc. etc. etc.

 

-S

 

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa

Hey there.

I’m totally beyond-words-awful because I made a promise and didn’t deliver – I’ve just completed the 8th week of my 8-week long internship and I haven’t written anything about it, or the wonderful things that surrounded it. I like to think I’m pretty awesome most of the time, but just not all of the time (clearly).

There isn’t too much I can say about my internship; social media complicates relationships and this is one that I really don’t want to jeopardize. Also, I’m kind of just assuming that if you really like me, we’ve been in contact in the last 8 weeks, and you’ve probably heard something about my internship. I’m just going to jump right in and give you a very non-descript sense of what my internship has been like this summer, and maybe put up a totally separate post about my life as I know it in the great place that is NJ.

My first and second day of work was scheduled to be in our Times Square office.

Look to the right!

Look to the right!

Crazy, right? I never in a million years would ever have guessed I’d be working here. It’s super overwhelming and super awesome all at the same time. I had to go through a lot of mental preparation (aka going to the beach every possible opportunity) to ease the anxiety of having to go into the city (the city being NYC, for all my NoDak loves) for work. How am I ever going to function without the beach? I mean, really. UGH.

Now, out of all of the worst first days of work that have every existed in the history of worst first days of work, this one was definitely the one of the worst. I started off by setting about five different alarms.

This was totally real.

This was totally real.

Somehow, I still managed to wake up slightly later than my liking because I skipped the second component of setting an alarm, which is turning on the volume. After hastily getting ready, I looked outside. It wasn’t humid, it wasn’t misty, it wasn’t drizzly, and it wasn’t raining. It is down pouring, literally. At that particular moment, all I could think about was how I had never seen it rain so hard in my 22-year existence. Where is my umbrella? Naturally, in the most inconvenient place on earth: outside in my car. Sensing my panic and desperation, my aunt ran out into the waterfall that was central NJ, and grabbed my umbrella for me.

You may recall my reaction in regards to my aunt driving into the city just a few weeks prior to this; from this you could correctly infer that driving myself into the city wasn’t (still isn’t) an option. Back in Fargo, I don’t use public transportation ever because it just isn’t necessary. Insurance isn’t outrageous, car maintenance isn’t pocket draining (usually, unless you have a stupid Eagle Talon, Plymouth Breeze, or Toyota Corolla), parking is always available (except in the winter when parking lines cease to exist and people just “wing” it) and FREE, and there isn’t much of a “commute.” Public transportation is very much a real, necessary thing here in NJ/NY, however. I had no idea what I was doing (and still don’t, I might add) so my dear, sweet uncle patiently helped me (meticulously) go over the whole ‘bus’ thing over, and over, and over (and over) again. Plus, he was cool enough to give me a ride to the bus stop the morning of at 6 a.m.(you rock, Pat!). Once I got on the bus (which was late), I quickly found an empty seat then spent the next 45 minutes watching people put on make up, sleep, and play WOW.

The rain caused a bit of a delay for the bus so I was very pressed for time when I got into the city. For your general knowledge, know that the bus ends at this really magical, dirty place called “Port Authority” aka “Port Autharity.”

Port Authority aka Autharity

Port Authority aka “Autharity”

I knew that the office was only a block up from Port Authority, but since I consider any and every direction in front of me to be north, that prior knowledge didn’t really help me at all. By this point it wasn’t down pouring anymore, but instead flash flooding. I strategically pulled out my IPhone for directions, but it was raining so hard it was impossible to read the screen. I got lost (shocker, I know), but eventually made it to the office only slightly LATE. I probably should have kept up with writing because I don’t feel like I’m accurately portraying how absolutely mortifying it is to be late to your first day of your “big kid” job. Also, let’s just add in the fact that I looked like a drowned river rat by this point, and weighed an extra ten pounds just from wearing sopping, wet clothes. Like I said, mortifying.

Luckily “on time” here seems to be a little bit of a different concept than “on time” in the Midwest. There were quite a few people who walked in even later than I did, so at least I didn’t look totally awful. We did the whole introduction thing, where you’re from, what school you go to, blah blah blah.

**Side note: Nobody here inherently knows what I mean when I say that I go to school at “NDSU,” and as I’ve learned it is a mouthful to have to say “North Dakota State University” all the time. Plus, I say something more along the lines of “Nort’ Dakota.” Bring your whole self to work, right? I also say bAg & flAg and I eat hotdish.

I got into the elevator with ten other people (who were all dead silent) when all of a sudden Iggy’s Fancy started blasting through my headphones. Kind of awkward. Kind of very awkward.

Despite how cute I wasn’t looking, I still had to take my badge picture. I was hoping I could negotiate getting a new one, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I spent most of my internship refusing to show anyone (even though I looked super tan in the photo). I can’t wait to turn it in and never see that particular picture of myself again.

In the NYC office, each elevator only goes to certain floors to maintain efficiency (I’ll argue that it is only efficient if you know what you are doing, and there aren’t instructions). To get to the floor I needed to get to, I had to switch elevators three times. I think almost all the interns had the same problem. I think back and laugh at all of the employees who probably hated their jobs that day because of the interns clogging up and incorrectly using the elevators. I imagine their thoughts were something like “OMG. Isn’t it obvious that to get to 3 from 23 you have to take Q to 5, switch banks, then take M to 3. These interns, ugh!!”

Next was lunch. Another intern and I ended up going to the cafeteria together, because we both had no idea what we are doing, and being a part of a group that has no idea what they are doing is more comforting than just feeling stupid on your own. We got to the cafeteria and there were tons of people to help us figure out what we were supposed to do. We asked where we needed to go and the person helping pointed us in the direction of one side of the cafeteria (which was in and of itself, completely overwhelming). After sheepishly putting six pieces of lettuce on my plate and grabbing a bottle of water, we headed to the check out line to find out that we were on the wrong side and the free intern lunch was on the other side. Once again, so glad I wasn’t the only one who was given the wrong instructions. They ended up letting us take our not-free lunches for free, because they could probably physically feel how embarrassed we were.

By the end of the day, I met quite a few cool people and had a fun time being a terrible bowler (we had a social bowling event) at the end of the night with all of the other interns. My aunt had some business in the city that day, so after what felt like the world’s longest first day, I at least got to ride home in a comfortable car. I’m spoiled, I know.

Unfortunately, on the way home I learned that my grandfather had passed away that day. Just in that one day, I had a pretty all-encompassing slap of real world-ness.

Day two was more or less the same, but slightly less rainy and dramatic. I had to take the bus home this time, and my fear of getting off at the wrong stop was completely legitimized; that experience has forever scarred my (already terrible) opinion of public transportation. Luckily my aunt was working from home that day and was able to pick me up from the wrong bus stop. Once again, I’m spoiled.

The rest of my week (and future time unassigned) was spent in my home office in Iselin, NJ. There are two major things that I discovered this week. The first was that commuting is a real thing. In NoDak, commuting is the 15-20 minute drive you have if you live in Fargo, work in Moorhead, and the roads are pure ice because it’s winter. In NJ, commuting in the hour+ it takes you to drive 20 miles to work if you accidently left the house 5-10 minutes later than you planned. The second thing I discovered was that the first people you sit by really become you’re good friends – you know, something someone with a normal college experience may have learned four years ago. Better late than never, right? Proximity and friendship is totally a sociology study too, b-t-dubs.

That week was pivotal in my NJ experience. I met one of my best friends Joe, the coolest kid I know. I can’t really sum into words what his friendship means to me. Super shout out to you, Joe!!

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Also, I ended up going out to dinner with these kind-of-awkward-kids I met at my work table, and now 8 weeks later I can’t imagine having a better group of friends to intern with. That dinner was kind of the launching point of our (my? Not yet sure is the feeling is mutual, ha) friendship. Who would have ever guessed that anyone out there shared the same affection for CB as me…and who would have ever guessed that this lovely lady knew all the words to Eminem’s Rap God? We were meant to be friends.

IMG_2552 IMG_2553 IMG_2543

As the weeks went by I learned all sorts of cool big kid work things. My mentors were awesome. The work was challenging and interesting. I got assigned to a really great client and learned more in my time with them than I’ve learned in my four years at college. Honestly, the hour commute to and from really didn’t bother me too much. As long as I can continue to sing to myself like an idiot in the car, I’m totally cool with it.

My favorite event I took part in this summer was working with my Aunt in the NYC office during her Rutgers’s Future Scholars presentation. Here is a link with more information for those of you who are interested! We got to work with the kids during team building activities, give them tours of the NYC office (which was a total guess for all of the NJ interns…fake it until you make it is the only way to describe navigating the NYC office), and talk to them one-on-one about our experiences and our educational decisions.

Another super fun event some of the interns and I took part in was something called the “Foodie Game Show.” We basically played a bunch of different food related games (such as eating really terrible chocolate and trying to guess what was in it, and guessing the sodium content of spam) and decorated a cake. Did I ever mention how fun accounting was?

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All of the interns ended up becoming really close over the course of our internship (or, I at least I did since I don’t have other cool Jersey friends). Here is a picture of all of us…Jersey interns are literally the coolest interns. Literally.  This was all of us at our IILC conference in Disney, an event worthy of a separate post.

Jersey does what Jersey wants

Jersey does what Jersey wants

I became super close with this other lovely lady. If it weren’t for extremely severe dehydration during our last goodbye in Florida aka “Flarida,” tears would have been shed.

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In a quick summation, I learned a lot about assurance (saying I work in assurance often leads to a better first impression than saying I work in audit. Please don’t hate me.) I got a little bit better at public transportation (but I still refuse to go into Penn Station by myself). I also tried a million new things like cigars, Dunkin Doughnuts, the NYC subway, and “Taylor Ham.” It’s not bacon, it’s not Canadian bacon, and it’s only available in Jersey (because leaving this state wasn’t hard enough already).

Taylor Ham or Pork Roll

Taylor Ham or Pork Roll

It was without question the best internship I could have ever taken part in. I was so afraid of having another bum “finally-out-of-Fargo” experience. You know, the one where you finally get out, and it doesn’t work, and you have the shame and embarrassment of having to start from square one? I know it all too well. I’m more than excited to say that my golden ticket out could finally be my one-way ticket out.

On that note, I want to take a little time to explain something. In no way, shape, or form do I feel as though Fargo is the ninth circle of Hell (although, I often use that as reference when explaining what the winter is like). It is a great place if you haven’t lived there your entire life. Living in Jersey made me feel totally and utterly lost, but in the best kind of way. It made me realize that who I was in Fargo isn’t who I’m supposed to be, and it certainly isn’t who I am going to end up becoming. I finally got an experience similar to what normal university-attendees get. They leave, they make friends, it works for them, they don’t want to go back home. I finally got to be who I wanted to be, even if it was just for a short three months. I connected with people whose goals and ambitions are on track with mine. I learned that I can strive for more than mediocrity, and not feel ashamed or pretentious. I’m going to be a totally different person when I come home…a super aggressive driver who is kind of confrontational and pronounces all of their “or” words as “ar” words (in case you haven’t noted the pattern yet in this post. Also note the words “ar-ange” for “orange” and “harrible” for “horrible”).

JUST KIDDING.

I’m definitely going to yield less to other people for the sake of avoiding confrontation, and if I am being completely honest with myself I actually will probably be a more aggressive driver. I always jokingly try to be confrontational, and it works for like, two seconds and I just start laughing and/or apologizing. For example, when someone takes my spot at the airport, or splashes dirty Disney land water on me, I start pointing at them and dropping the “r” sound off my words and swearing at them…then I start to laugh and everything I say totally loses validity. “Oh yea, you’re really going to kill me? Okay, NoDak.”

Don’t worry, I’m still going to get pale in the winter and eat hot dish and say uff dah & you betcha & oh.

You can take me out of ND, but ya know you can’t take da ND outta me.

 

-S

Titles are Awkward – Night Before My Internship

There is a fairly good chance the awesomeness of my first few days of work will be so overwhelming that I will procrastinate putting together a post about what it’s like to be an intern for a week. Because I am aware of this oh-so-wonderful procrastination quality of mine, I decided to be proactive and 1)own up to it and 2)provide a quick update now.

My last week of unemployment has been wonderful. I’m sure I’ve annoyed more than a handful of people with my constant “I’m at the beach and you aren’t” posts, but fear not, those are about to come to an end. The time I’ve had to relax was swell, but I’m seriously ready to be back to work.

I accomplished most things on my pre-work to-do list. I can get to a semi-decent mall, a grocery store, a gas station, and my favorite Old Bridge restaurant without a GPS. I have a wicked good tan (by nord’dakota standards). My “Oh’s” and “yea’s” and “uff-dah’s” have seen a dramatic decrease (I still refuse to say “root” for “route” – the ‘u’ is there for a reason!). I rarely drink pop, so that word hopefully shouldn’t be too much of an issue…and  yea. That’s about it. I didn’t say it was a long to-do list.

I have been a little down in the dumps this week – I’ve been benched from running because of a serious flare up of runner’s knee. It’s been one of the most painful episodes I’ve had, so I’ve just been stuck walking. If you’re used to running, and you switch to walking, you’ll understand my pain and impatience with the whole thing. It takes what feels like forever, and I don’t really feel like I got a good work out. Plus, it is so hard to keep myself from prancercising.

It’s the night before my first day – I’ll wake up at 5am tomorrow so I can get on the bus by 6am so I can make it to work by 7:30am. Uff dah. I’ve spent the whole day mentally preparing by getting a relaxing pedicure, tanning, reading, and putting together two weeks worth of work outfits (so by mentally preparing, I mean that I did absolutely nothing productive). I’ve gone over the bus schedule approximately a million times, but knowing me I will still probably get lost. Yes, I have allotted time in my schedule for that.

I used to be nervous about meeting people and knowing what I was doing, but I kind of figured that everyone else is going to be as excited/nervous/feeling lost as me.

T-12 hours until I start working!

-S

A Mediocre, 2-Week Interpretation of Living in NJ

My first two weeks in NJ has been awesome – hot beaches, family time, good restaurants, etc.

Current level of tan: Sun-kissed Sicilian

Moving here has been great so far, and I am so excited about the opportunities I have been given. However, I really want to make what I write in here real, and I can’t do that if all I talk about is how skinny, pretty, popular, and tan I am. It’s funny and sarcastic, but no one really cares about that.

In short, I dearly miss my friends. During the two weeks I’ve been gone, there has been a proposal, a death, and a breakup within my group of friends – and not being around to help celebrate, help mourn, and help eat massive amounts of ice cream together has been rough. These ladies have been more than my friends, but also my family. I’m frequently reminded that this is what the real world is like – you can’t always be where you want to be in the world, and you need to learn how to cope and be supportive in the best ways you can. After all, what is life without obstacles? I truly believe we don’t learn, grow, or succeed without ever being made uncomfortable.

I ended up having my first “sad” day here. It was a culmination of not getting a good run in, and not getting the grades I wanted this last semester (which I’ve cried more than enough tears over – my aunt and uncle got a good taste of my unreasonable, angst-y side “my life is ruined because I didn’t make the dean’s list, wahhhh”). Plus, I was still a little upset that my love and support for my friends had to be limited by a Hallmark card.

But everyday is a new day. I didn’t get a good run in – so what. I ate some ice cream that night and then I ended up cutting 20 seconds off my average mile time during my run today. I didn’t get the grades I wanted this semester – so what. I’m not going to trivialize the situation because they’re still very important; but instead of continuing to wallow in self-pity, I started studying some of the intermediate accounting course work for next semester and will continue to do so the rest of the summer. I had to show support for my friends via Hallmark – so what. They know that I would be with them if I could, and I know that they would be here for me if they could. We stay in touch, and you better believe they’ll be my first call when I go back to Fargo.

So yea, lots of realness for you there.

 

Here is what I really wanted to get to: my mediocre, 2-week interpretation of what it is like to live in NJ. The following are some observations I’ve made; feel free to interpret however you’d like.

  1. I love the way people talk here. I could listen for hours. Their accent is just as distinctive to me, as mine is to them (but let’s be real, I don’t really have an accent, don’t ya know).
  2. Jug handles. Not actual handles on jugs, but the traffic thing. Whatever do you mean, Shea? So here, if you want to turn left at an intersection, you don’t actually turn left (unless specifically stated). You have to take a “jug handle” and turn right, which will loop you around so that you end up driving straight in the direction that would have otherwise been a left turn. Please allow my tasteful drawing skills to emphasize and solidify the point that I am trying to make here.
I included all of my favorite left-turn locations... and WaWa ;)

I included some of my favorite left-turn locations… and WaWa 😉

These can be actually kind of tricky if you’re from ND and have never experienced such a thing. I actually kind of like them, and they improve the flow of traffic.

  1. I see Pauly D almost every day…. except then I realize it’s not Pauly D, but just some young lad that lives in NJ.
  2. I’m still trying to find the garden.
  3. I’ve mentioned the shore enough to justify losing all of my friends, but it really is a big part of the lifestyle here. Just like you might want to go to the lakes every weekend, people here like to go to the shore every weekend. There are a ton of different shore communities, and it is fun to check out all of the different shops and other various small businesses. Plus, a tan doesn’t look bad on anyone.

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And now, since you’re probably hanging on the edge of your seat for more of my sassy commentary, I’ll add in this story from “my sad day in NJ” for a nifty personal touch.

It was late evening, and we were all pretty exhausted and hungry (note: not yet hangry, but getting there). I was conversing with my uncle, who was reassuring me that my life wouldn’t be over because my grades weren’t “on par” with what I expected them to be, and that I wasn’t forever destined for unemployment because of one not-so-great semester (at the time, it didn’t seem like an irrational possibility in my mind). My aunt came into my room and said “Okay, well we are going out to eat and Sierra has chosen Friendly’s.”

Normally, she is super chipper and excited when she mentions a restaurant…but something seemed a little offbeat this time. I had never heard of Friendly’s, so I asked what kind of restaurant it was (between the lines, I was really asking “why the lack of enthusiasm?”). She quickly turned her head to make sure my little cousin wasn’t behind her, and she said, “It is a very mediocre restaurant…with good ice cream” (My little cousin would later add: and also good broccoli).

 

If this image doesn't capture it all, I don't know what could!

If this image doesn’t capture it all, I don’t know what could!

If I were ten, my basis for picking a restaurant would be the quality of their ice cream, too (maybe it still is? For the record…the ice cream was pretty good).

On the way there, I asked my uncle (who is from the same area as I am) to give me an example of what Friendly’s could be compared to. He was hesitant coming up with the right example, but finally landed on the Frying Pan, or Perkins. Hence: the mediocre part.

Remember: they have good ice cream, though.

I think there was some sort of karma – good sign thing going on because Friendly’s featured ice cream of the month was red-velvet…clearly, it was meant for me! Plus I think the waiter had a huge crush on me. Who can blame him though? Especially when I’m wearing no make up, slightly burned, hangry, and sporting the ever-so-charming nord’ern accent…

Friendly’s also happens to be the best spot to be on your birthday because despite the mediocrity, they sing to you! I think the song mentioned something about you having to be awesome or you will have to do their dishes? I got a little lost in the chorus.

Birthday serenading!

Birthday serenading! We were lucky enough to experience this twice in one night!

You can watch your ice cream treat be made - such a luxury!

You can watch your ice cream treat be made – such a luxury!

Reminiscing on our family trip to Friendly’s now provides us all with a good laugh…haha remember that guys that totally had a crush on you?? OMG the ice cream #sogood

So I guess the moral here is even if you are having a mediocre day, experience, situation, or restaurant experience – find the silver lining. Hindsight usually tells us it really isn’t as bad as we initially think it is.

 

-S

Beach Bummin’

First Week: Total Success

I’ll be honest; I’ve been a total bum all week. You know what else? I’m going to continue being a bum. I kind of feel like I’m on a 3 month vacation. I also know this will probably never happen again while I’m at the spry age of 22, I’m soaking up every second.

Here is a quick update on my bum-like activities.

My aunt and uncle work during the day, and my cousin is still in school so I pretty much have the house to myself . I usually take this time to sleep, or run, or reflect on how awesome NJ is.

Within the first couple of days I was able to put away all my stuff and drive around town a bit. I don’t go very far because god forbid I get turned around and end up paying the tolls here. I’ll quickly add that this is really the only negative thing about this part of the country. Want to do something fun and exciting? Pay us money to drive there. It’s hard to believe that the state is in debt with how much people pay in tolls here.

On the Friday of Memorial weekend, my aunt and I headed to Jenkinson’s (shore) really early in the morning. By really early, I mean like, 7:30am-ish….which is pretty early to go to a beach. Anyway, a local radio station was hosting a “kick off the summer” concert thing that sounded like it could be pretty cool, despite the foggy, muggy weather. The Fray was there, Hot Chelle Rae, Kasi Musgraves, and a couple others that my memory didn’t retain. The really awesome part was that it was free.

We wandered around for awhile until we worked up an appetite for some delicious beach food.

IMG_1630 <- This is what I look like when I wander.

We went to the Tiki Bar (I’m not actually sure if that is the name or not) to grab some grub. I anticipated being carded, so I was already digging for my ID when the bouncer stopped us. He looked at my aunt and in a very accusatory manner asked “How old is she?” (don’t forget to read in a NJ accent to experience the full effect!). I know that I look young so I wasn’t immediately offended, but he was VERY suspicious even after I showed him my ID. He nearly fell over when he found out I was older than 21. Once he saw my license he asked if it was even real.  Yes, popular to contrary belief, ND is a real state. My aunt and I got a good chuckle out of the whole thing.

Everyone at this bar was pretty old…like, in their 50’s (old relative to me is maybe a more appropriate thing to say). It was like 1990 – except the party was at noon on a Friday instead of midnight on a Friday. My aunt was definitely the youngest one there, not including me. We drank and listened to loud music and ate fish…perfect afternoon!

It's true!

It’s true!

The whole fam and I headed to another shore/amusement part place called Keansburg with my little cousin’s group of girlfriends. Once again, I ate delicious beach food…but this time it was also greasy :p

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I also drove go-karts for the first time ever. Cross that one off the bucket-list.

This was the sunset we got to watch that night. I feel so lucky to get to experience a summer full of this.

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Fast forward to Memorial day, when we went to the shore again. Sorry I’m not sorry if you’re sick of hearing that. I think I may have been the one person who didn’t “know someone” with a lake cabin growing up….I’m making up for all of the lost lake-filled weekends of my childhood. This time, we went to Longbranch – this place was really cool. There were a ton of small shops that lined the boardwalk. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to look in all of them, but you can bet we had enough time to stop in a gelato shop! I opted for the red-velvet cake (not gelato) since I have been craving it for awhile.

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What was more exciting was the fact that there was a group of guys behind me in line speaking Italian. I was listening in on the conversation, which was basically like “what should we get??” Looking back, I wish I would have been bold enough to say something in a choppy, poorly accented Italian.

We didn’t actually have dessert before dinner, but for right now you can pretend I did so the flow of this post doesn’t totally suck. We ate at a restaurant that would have had good food, if they weren’t running out of almost everything on the menu. I ended up ordering a crab cake appetizer, with a side of steamed asparagus. The waitress wrote down my order wrong, and brought me the crab cake entrée which already featured asparagus. If a stranger were to come up and look at my plate, they would probably just think I really, really, REALLY like asparagus. Sides aside, the crab cakes were on point!

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I have been doing my best to do most of the driving, so I can adapt ASAP. For the most part, everything is really easy to get to, it is just a matter of remembering which direction to go. The whole north/south/east/west thing is a little more important here….so I might be investing in a compass soon.

I’ll be continuing my beach bummin’ lifestyle for the next week, before the fun stuff begins! I’ve been doing some pre-start stuff to get ready for my internship (including the important things like picking out a computer bag – I opted for the women’s tote instead of the back pack/bulky computer . Its “totes” adorbs. My uncle the statistician says I should have opted for the bulky computer bag…something about practicality? I think it’s totally practical to have a cute computer bag; we may not be on the same page though. Haha! 😉

 

-S

NYC

I don’t even really know where to begin with this one. I’m probably forgetting a million things, so you should just try to make it to NYC yourself to get the full experience. I can’t be liable for not totally encompassing the awesomeness that is NYC.

So, Nicole and I knew that we wanted to go to NYC while she was here for the first time; she hasn’t ever been to NYC and I needed to figure out where the heck I am going before my first day of work (which is in the corporate office, smack center in Time’s Square). Thankfully, my aunt was able to take a day off of work and go with us into the city. More impressively, she drove. I’ll repeat it for emphasis: she drove into NYC.

I sat in the back and took about 20 selfies while patiently waiting and actively avoiding looking at the surrounding traffic.

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The first thing I wanted to do was to walk from Port Authority (bus stop) to the EY office (about a block up) so the chance of me getting lost was slightly reduced. And by slightly reduced, I actually mean that the chances of me getting lost are probably exactly the same but I wanted to make it sound like I made an effort.

My aunt was able to help us get temporary badges to get past the first floor in the EY building; we went all the way to the cafeteria (which had an amazing view)! I can’t believe that in two and a half weeks my badge won’t be temporary and I’ll get to even eat the food in the cafeteria. Hard work, works.

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Me in front of the EY office

Me in front of the EY office

After spending large amounts of time being jealous of myself and my upcoming internship, we walzed into the Toys R Us because we are all kids at heart. Just kidding…it was more like skipping into the Toys R Us.

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Next, we went into the M&M’s store. Nicole and I both had our personalities interpreted by this M&M mood analyzer. Nicole had a picture taken of hers, which was great since the message was super cute and positive. However, my “mood analysis” wasn’t so positive; it went something along the lines of “Not many people in life do everything really well. Don’t be upset that you aren’t one of those people.” Okay, sweet. I think it could tell that I don’t like M&M’s.

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After that we decided to hit up Top of the Rock – where you pay a small fortune to go up to the top of the GE building located in Rockefeller Plaza. In case you don’t know, that is 69 (or so) stories. At the first level you can walk out of, there are protective glass sides. Then you can take some stairs and go a little higher, where there aren’t protective glass sides. Cue the thought: “If I threw a penny over the side, would I kill someone?” (answer is no, BTW. Check out Myth Busters if you don’t believe me. Plus, if you truly thought it would kill someone, throwing it would make you kind of rude).

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I tried to take a quick selfie like 90% of the other people up there, but it was too windy, aka NoDak windy. Enjoy this selfie-fail, and maybe get a good chuckle out of the random by-stander, too.

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After Top of the Rock, we headed towards central park. At this point I realized I was starting to get “hangry” aka angry because I’m hungry. I knew I was at that point when my “Minnesota-nice” smile faded and I lost all patience with people trying to push super-awesome-city-wide bus tours on me – I actually stopped saying “no, thank you” and just started saying “no.” So rude! We picked up some lunch and headed back to central park for an impromptu picnic. It is crazy how much of a difference there is between the chaos of the city and the calmness of the park. Fun fact: the size of central park is 1/5 the size of Manhattan…according to the Top of the Rock door-man, that is. I’m honestly too lazy to check the accuracy on that one.

That big green thing is central park.

That big green thing is central park.

Next up: the zoo! This was my personal request; there is just nothing quite like a good zoo! The first part of the zoo included an indoor “tropical” area. It was VERY humid, but I was easily distracted by the birds n’ stuff I saw in there. We also saw some some sea-lions do some tricks for fish, a snow leopard , penguins, and a red panda (among other, less interesting things). The cutest thing I saw at the zoo was a little french girl whose father(?) was telling her what all the different birds were in French, naturally. She was at the age of “repetition learning” so she was running around screaming “un pigeon! un pigeon!” Seriously, cutest thing at the zoo. I didn’t get a picture of her, because I’m not quite that creepy.

I love his expression.

I love his expression.

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During our NYC excursion, we also came upon the “love” statue-replica-thingy. I decided to upload this picture because of the woman blocking the picture with her selfie. Selfie selfie selfie. Are you sick of the word yet?

This took her a good 5 minutes.

This took her a good 5 minutes.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we took a horse and buggy ride through central park….we saw the water fountain that had something to do with the television show “Friends” and the one place with the shot from “Home Alone” and also went by Strawberry Fields. The buggy driver had a thick, Irish accent and was excited when I said I was from North Dakota. He hasn’t been to North Dakota, but he has been to South Dakota….I had to explain to him that they weren’t really the same, and that there was much more to look at in South Dakota (so basically he picked the right destination point).

Great views.

Great views.

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All three of us were pretty spent by this point, and since rush hour was well over, we headed back to Port Authority where my aunt’s car was parked. It took us about 45 minutes to get back to Old Bridge….but instead of going home we went to Gusto’s for dinner! I could eat there frequently.

At one  point (or two, I guess), I had the world’s best salmon here; it was coated with maple syrup and shredded coconut. I’ve already had that dish twice before, so I decided to branch out and go for the crab crusted sirloin. It had a cabernet reduction and some potato-bacon-cheese thing.

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After the main course, we all split a cookie sundae dessert (fresh baked cookie topped with ice-cream…gets all melty and heavenly), but I forgot to take a picture because I was too excited about eating it.

Nicole got the duck, and didn’t take the leftovers with her when she left the next day. Not even mad about it…sorry I’m not sorry you left your delicious food for me to eat.

We are already planning a second “big apple” day when Nicole comes back in August. We might try to make it to Ellis Island, and hopefully get to see a broadway show…my bet’s on Wicked.

Nicole’s flight was scheduled for the following day. I’m proud to say that I made it to Newark Airport without using my GPS, and I got home from Newark with zero hiccups. That is a pretty monumental thing for me. I’ll be celebrating this success by not driving for the next couple of days.

Now, I’ll spend the next two and a half weeks blissfully “unemployed” until my internship starts. I haven’t had that much freedom since before I started working at the way-too-young-age of 14. It’s even better now since I have a car and money.

I may or may not decide to venture out to other states on my day off. Stay tuned.

 

-S

Made It

After 24 hours of sitting in the exact same position, I’m more than happy to not be driving anymore. My body is sore and my brain is tired of processing traffic signs that are more complicated than the ones in Fargs….you know, the basic red/yellow/green, stop and yield. Occasionally we will have WATCH OUT FOR DEER but those are few and far between. On a side note…we don’t have as many dead deer gracing the roads of Fargo, either. Just sayin’.

Like I mentioned before, we had a pretty gnarly night trying to find our hotel. I think we were awake for another hour or so after getting there, and then we were both out like lights. I don’t think I’ve ever slept to well in a hotel bed. Thoughts of dirty sheets and bed bugs were completely irrelevant after the amount of psychotic driving we had been through. I probably would have slept just as well in my car, to be honest. Or even outside in a bush.

Because we both felt a good night of sleep had been earned, we didn’t rush in the morning (you may see a pattern developing here…) and enjoyed our free breakfast at the hotel and non-driving time. We stopped to fill up and get coffee, specifically Starbucks. That meant we had to take typical “white girl with Starbucks” selfies before continuing. It was imperative because how could someone possibly understand how delicious our Starbucks drinks were if we didn’t post them on social media??

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We were going to stop in Philly, but we really didn’t have time. Our to-see list went from full-fledged sight seeing to “I just want a picture of the liberty bell and we can leave,” which still barely happened. The place where the Liberty Bell is stored was closed, tragically enough. Since I had already paid for parking, we both were insistent on getting a picture through the one available glass window. After being pushed, shoved, and stomped on, the one single blurry picture I took probably deserves a frame or something. Then to prove we were actually there longer than ten minutes, we bought some souvenirs.

I bled for this picture. Enjoy it...Or just google a new one.

I bled for this picture. Enjoy it…Or just google a new one.

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Oh, and took this picture of Rocky ( a movie I haven’t seen…but the photo op was on the way out so it was hard to ignore).

I think he was climbing stairs or something?

I think he was climbing stairs or something?

I knew I was in NJ when the traffic started to pick up like crazy and I had to pay a million dollars in tolls (we don’t have those in ND….a new and not so great concept for me.) Thanks to modern technology  (aka GPS systems) we really didn’t have too much trouble getting to my aunt & uncle’s home in New Bridge. FINALLY.

We headed out to the shore (Jenkinson’s, specifically) for dinner, but we ended up getting there pretty late so most things were closed. We were able to get to a restaurant called Wharfside (I think?). The food was great but I was beyond exhausted at this point. I had the rum glazed salmon and Nicole had the onion crusted cod. Both totally delicious (but as I already knew and Nicole would soon get the pleasure of realizing; it was no Gusto’s!).

I was going to go on about my NYC experience now, but it would have been a bit much for one blog post. God forbid I completely overwhelm you all with how awesome my life is.

I’ll get crackin’ on the whole NYC thing in a bit after I have some more time to dwell on the stupendousness of the trip.

 

-S

 

1050 Miles Later

After driving 8 hours alone for the first time, I can say with certainty that is wasn’t nearly as terrible as I thought it would be, but it still isn’t something that I love doing. Although, the last four hours of my trip was one giant karaoke party, and who doesn’t love karaoke? If I had to take a guess, other drivers were probably amused by my enthusiastic singing, too. So basically I helped them stay awake which made them less likely to get into an accident. By the transverse property, that means I was responsible for saving a lot of lives. You’re welcome.

Twice yesterday while driving I took exits that claimed to have gas stations and bathrooms. While I’m sure they weren’t lying to me, they weren’t off the interstate so I ended up having to getting to explore a lot of small towns. I guess it added some spontaneity to the trip…and mild annoyance. That also meant that I ended up eating my leftover crab polpette in a super-sketch BK parking lot. If you’re wondering, the atmosphere really added that special something to the dish. Just kidding.

When I got to Washington, IL my cousins took me to see all of the wreckage from the tornado that wiped out a pretty huge chunk of the town (including their apartment). Even though quite a bit of damage has been cleaned up since the tornado, there is still a lot left. Most of the dangerous areas are roped off and have pretty “strong” security.

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After gawking at all the damage, we went out to Gracie’s, one of their favorite restaurants near where they live. Nicole and I split a Horseshoe, which is a piece of Texas toast covered in BBQ pulled pork  covered in french fries covered in cheese sauce. Pure Gluttony. I had no complaints.

After dinner we went to a bonfire where we shared a couple of cold drinks and lots of laughs….and then some more exploring.

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And then we had a dance party.

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We wanted to get an early start, but (like I may have mentioned before) poor planning leads to inefficient mornings. We settled on Pittsburgh as the place to end the day; I booked a hotel and we were out the door in a very short 3 hours.

IMG_1490 IMG_1491 <- We’ll miss this lil nugget!

We stopped in Indianapolis to shop at what I like to call “the rich person’s mall.” Some of the stores included Saks Fifth Avenue, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Coach, Athropologie, and various other places I’ll never be able to afford. Needless to say I was only window shopping. EXCEPT that mall did have a Chipotle, which was probably the highlight of the day for me. I love Chipotle and there isn’t one in Fargo. And no, Qdoba and Panchero’s aren’t the same.  Thanks, rich person’s mall!

We made it through 4 different states today and here are some observations from all of them.

1. Indiana: gorgeous state, but no speeding laws? 55 really means 80, apparently.

2. Ohio: riddled with dead deer – half and full editions. Oh, and lost of semi trucks.

IMG_1502 This is the Ohio skyline. And if you look closely, you can see the dead bug on my windshield. So gross.

3. West Virginia: I blinked, so I completely missed going through this state. It was also dark by this point, but it looked like it might have the potential to be really pretty in the daylight.

4. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania and I got off to a rocky start. It was midnight when we got here, and I was beyond exhausted. I typed in the hotel’s address, and naturally it was the only time we got lost all day. For some reason, the GPS took us into the heart downtown of Pittsburgh – a terrible place to be if  you don’t know where you are and can’t see well in the dark. We could not for the life of us get to our hotel. I was about two seconds away from just jumping back onto the interstate and going straight to NJ. After 3 dropped calls, we were able to get enough information scraped together from the front desk to get to our final destination – which I will add is no where near downtown.

Tomorrow we are going to get going “right away” in the morning and drive to Philly where we are going to try and be touristy for a little while before DRIVING THE LAST LEG of the trip to NJ!

I’m thinking dinner on the beach sounds pretty good right about now…

 

-S

 

 

 

Day Numero Uno

Technically, I’m now actually on day two of traveling, but my poor road trip planning/packing skills created a hectic morning that didn’t allow for one last “I’m way to excited about my life” post.

First and foremost, thank you so much to all my friends and family who are helping me make this trip. All week long, I had the help of my aunt, uncle, cousin, and mom. It is amazing how much we got done in just a few short days. Also, big shout out to my friends for coming over for a “cleaning party” the night before I left. Cleaning has to be my least favorite part about moving and you can’t really do too much until your crap is gone. Nothing like a little bit of extreme procrastination to get stuff done. I’d consider that the college student mantra, really.

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I miss you guys already!

Also, they requested photos of them cleaning. It’s not weird or anything.

Also also, I’m happy to say that I should be getting my whole deposit back. Weeeeeeeee!

 

I was up until about 3am the night before I left and then got up at 7am the morning of to finish (over) packing up all my stuff before I had to leave.

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After being cranky about only getting 4 hours (if that) of sleep, my boyfriend told me my body only needs 4 hours of sleep to function, so I “should” be fine.  I’m not sure if he actually thinks this about me, or if he was trying to make me less panicked about inevitably falling asleep at the wheel. My body needs like, 8 hours to function. I ended up pulling into a rest stop and snoozing for about 15 minutes in the middle of my trip to Coon Rapids. After that, I was perfectly fine (sorry if that causes some grey hairs, relatives…I made sure to lock my doors, if that makes you feel any better!) .

My aunts and I all went out to dinner a little after I arrived, but not before latte’s and light discussion.

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There is nutmeg and honey in this latte….Can’t you just feel the warmth and deliciousness of it? Are you jealous yet?

I’m going to have a hard time at Starbucks today. Can’t I just get the Lisa special?? Ugh you just don’t understand me, Starbucks!

 

I love all my family, but there are a few very special things I share in common with my aunts from MN. 1. No internal sense of direction (I swear it is hereditary), 2. Love of really good food/cheese (I know that cheese is food, but some people like cheese, and some people truly appreciate it’s awesomeness…and that would be me and my aunts).  I have full faith in whatever restaurant they choose to make reservations at. It’s comforting to know that Perkins or Denny’s will never be on the list of restaurants to choose from for dinner.

We ended up at Scusi in St. Paul.

We started with a bottle of wine. We were at an Italian restaurant, so it wouldn’t have been authentic if we didn’t.

Our appetizers included an antipasti tray of sopressata & speck (types of meat), teleggio (and 2 other types of cheeses I don’t remember), and some olives (which were warm; I’ve never eaten them that way, but I’ll gladly endure that whenever the opportunity presents itself).

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Next, we had our main course. Everyone picked something different; I chose the crab polpette (crab cakes).

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This was indescribably good. Very rich, very filling.

This reminds me that I should probably start running again soon…

Naturally, after main course came dessert. I was STUFFED by this point, so I just had a bite of one of my aunt’s deserts. She had the zeppole, which are  cinnamon/sugar coated donuts drizzled with chocolate all on top of a mascarpone cheese dip. And yeah, the donuts were warm when the dish was brought out. I don’t even know what kind of adjective or witty food-related statement to make now. It was just plain AWESOME. Although, my aunt claims that the ones she had in Seattle were better….so looks like I should go to Seattle 😉

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The dish isn’t as nice looking because it’s dessert and we got excited. Oops.

As you can probably tell I didn’t edit these photos – I’m over it, if you’re over it.

 

After we got back home, I feel asleep within about ten minutes.

I’d chalk that day up as a total success.

 

So now what? I’m going to finish up this post and do my best not to obsessively read it 20 times over (I’m an accounting major, not an English major. There are more than likely a few mistakes in here. Once again, I’m over it if you’re over it). Then I will get ready for the day, and start my 8 hour trek to Peoria, Illinois!

 

-S