Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wants Vs Needs When Shopping for Cars, Apartments and Men

I did it.

I finally bought a car.

It’s a Honda Civic Hybrid, and it’s exactly what I need–even if it’s not what I originally thought I wanted.

Hmm.

Let me repeat that: it’s exactly what I need,

Even if it’s not what I originally thought I wanted.

You know what that reminds me of?

Y’all know it’s coming:

Finding a guy.

For the past two, three, four months, I have been actively looking for my perfect car, and when I finally found it and it was all said and done, I couldn’t help but to think of how much the process of deciding on what your needs are and finding the best thing to suit those needs applies to both cars and men.

When I started looking for a car back in October-ish, I wanted a pickup. I wanted a pickup, I wanted a pickup, I wanted a pickup. My rationale for this desire was…that would make me a complete badass, for one. I’d always be able to move things when they needed moving. And I live in a flood zone, so I needed something that was a bit more off the ground than most.

Slowly, as I began researching price, gas mileage, etc., that desire began to morph from a pickup to an SUV to a Volkswagen Jetta.

I wanted a Jetta,  I wanted a Jetta, I wanted a Jetta. They look really cool, they’re the perfect yuppie grad student car (*I’m really working on my hipster/yuppie grad student image), they’re German…that basically makes them a Mercedes. I don’t know. I wanted a Jetta though.

And so I began looking for a Jetta, but somewhere down the road (no pun intended), it occurred to me that with my budget, etc., searching for only one type of car could be not only really limiting, but actually really prolong the search and it was kind of important that I find a new car sooner than later.

And so I began to expand.

What is it about the qualities of a Jetta that I find so appealing?

Cute little four-door? Check. Good reputation? Check. Not American-Made? Check. Safe? Check.

And in what areas does the Jetta actually fall short, since I’m now thinking about how the Jetta applies to what I want instead of how what I want applies to the Jetta?

And that’s when I started hearing all the rumors about gas going up to $5 a gallon in a couple years and started thinking that…really…if I’m buying a car I plan to keep for a while…it should probably be a Hybrid.

And something crazy happened. For two, three, four months, or however long, I’d been sifting through all this car b.s. that I didn’t understand on the Internet, but when I actually went to a dealer’s lot I was able to recognize my car immediately and feel comfortable making a commitment to it because I knew what I was looking for.

It wasn’t a Jetta, but it was a 4-door. It wasn’t a Jetta, but it was Japanese-made, which is even better. It wasn’t a Jetta, but it was a Hybrid.

I think there have been times when I was dating for something so specific that I wasn’t able to recognize that he wasn’t going to make me happy. “He’s got to be a rapper,” “He’s got to have Locs,” “He’s gotta have that Pharrell b-boy style,” versus “He’s gotta be able to express himself creatively and/or constructively,” “He’s gotta be conscious of his look,” “He’s gotta be able to dress himself or be open to letting me dress him in a manner that I find pleasing to the eye or at least unique to him” (or at least, at very least, not be a hot, clueless, dirty-looking mess).

I guess it’s just funny how, as you become more conscious of your needs and/or dealbreakers, your wants evolve and the things that do not align with those needs and/or dealbreakers fade in importance. I experienced the same thing not long ago with my apartment–what I WANTED was an apartment with a wood floor and gas stove, but what I NEEDED to be happy with my choice was a beautiful neighborhood, responsive and competent property managers and a clean, spacious and pleasant-looking interior. When I began shopping for THAT I happily chose an apartment with wall-to-wall carpeting and an electric stove, and I absolutely love coming home to it.

Advertisements

When You Hear Hooves…it’s Probably Not a Centaur

Why can't I get this right???

Truly.

I don’t know why I haven’t been blogging lately.

It just hasn’t been coming like it was. And it’s not that I’m not living and learning valuable life lessons. I am. Just today I learned that if you have heartburn…it probably has more to do with the hot sauce-covered black-eyed peas you ate for breakfast than your emotional state, no matter what driving need you have to make everything in your life symbolic.

Actually,

That is what I want to talk about today.

I spend a lot of my time trying to connect the dots in my life to the universe at large because I want desperately to be a part of the higher plane of life that I can feel exists…but can’t access.

But there are times in my life where I think this leaves me with something akin to missing the trees because I’m searching for the forest.

Take this example:

A couple months ago, probably around October, I was obsessed with this phenomenon I kept experiencing called Every Time I Go To Church I Leave My Lights On in My Car, Causing My Car Battery to Die and Me to Need a Jump (and of course by “every,” I mean “twice,” but still! Once is an isolated incident; twice is a SIGN).

So I’m walking around after this like “My God, what are you trying to say to me??” I asked one of my friends, who laughed at me. But I just knew. You don’t leave your lights on outside a church in the middle of the afternoon unless the Almighty himself has lain His hand on your hand and stayed it from turning them off because He specifically wants you to stay at church a little longer to hear what He has to say.

So like all things in our short-attention-span society, this, too, eventually failed to captivate my interest after a while and I forgot about it and continued living my life.

Until last week. When I left my lights on and my car battery died.

This time, though,

It wasn’t at church. It was outside my cello teacher’s house. As I was connecting the cosmic dots, however, I still made the case to myself that it was in the midst of an activity that made my spirit soar, ipso facto, lights on; car stayed; connection: divine.

And so, as happens every time I leave my lights on, I called my dad to talk me through the car-jump process. And as also happens every time I leave my lights on, I didn’t connect them right or something, because my cello teacher and I stayed out there for like 30 minutes trying to jump my car and I wasn’t going anywhere.

I ended up calling my dad back to get our AAA information, then I went inside to have tea with my cello teacher, all the while wondering about this cosmic message from the divine.

Finally the AAA guy comes and pretty much just taps the battery with the jumper cable and my engine roars (I’d like to think I got it warmed up), and I call my dad to tell him I survived and all’s well (all the while pondering my cosmic coincidences).

And then we just start talking and I tell him about my day and my night before and how I went out with my friends to a happy hour that had $1.50 well drinks and how I may have had a few too many, etc.

And my dad goes “Yeah, that’s what I figured when you told me you left your lights on–that you were either tipsy or hungover.”

And it clicked. I thought about the two other times I left my lights on and the previous night’s activities–and there was the common thread. It wasn’t a message from the divine, it was a message from my pounding and distracted head trying to push through the effects of doing one thing one night and another thing of a totally different nature early the next day.

I was talking to my hairdresser earlier in the week, and she asked me if I still go out and party a lot (not that I would admit to partying like that over this public forum). I told her that…it really wasn’t even a matter of whether I wanted to or liked to, only that I notice how much those activities (and recovering from those activities) eats up precious time.

I know the phrase “time is money” is pretty much as cliche as they come, but any resource you have must be measured, divided and spent according to its value. Time is the one thing we all get the same amount of in the day, yet never know how much we have left of, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we think of time in the same way we think of money–as something to be spent.

I’m 24 and I am a fresh graduate. I may have less money than some, but we all have the same amount of time and so I must make sure that anything I choose to invest my time in will yield me the proper dividends.

So I told her that I don’t really party like I used to because it’s too expensive–money always comes back, but you really can’t afford to waste your time, and I definitely can’t afford to waste mine because everything I do at this stage in my life will directly influence the type of future I grow.

I think that thinking of things in a cosmic sense is a beautiful thing, but at the same time…when you hear hooves…it’s probably not a centaur.

The Implications of ‘Bryoney’

How many of you have a name that is shared by someone else?

How many of you have a name that, in grade school, at amusement parks, at novelty shops, you heard someone reference outside of you, specifically?

Congratulations.

You are not me.

My name is Bryoney, and while I know for a fact that I am not the only Bryoney in the world…it sure feels like it.

A while ago I really started to think about what it means to have the name Bryoney. You know what it means? It means that any time anyone in your general circle mentions your name, they’re talking about you.

There is no margin for error with Bryoney. If someone says Bryoney, they are talking about me.

I don’t know why that never hit me before. I think it’s because when I was growing up we used to move every year, so I just really did anything I wanted because….eff it. I wasn’t going to be living there next year anyway.

But now that I’m an adult and I use social media and I’m trying to settle somewhere and be viewed as a professional,

I’m really starting to realize the implications of being the only person with my name.

I mean,

I’m not so arrogant as to assume I’m really actually the only person with my name. That little trifelin chick from “Atonement” has my name. Google “Bryoney” and all kind of chicks pop up in the UK with my name.  But I’m pretty sure that I’m the only black girl in America or at least my current tri-state area with my name.

Do you know what it is to be named “Sarah”? It means that when someone says “Sarah was wayysted at that party, she puked and pulled her pants down,” someone else replies “Who? Sarah A? Or Sarah Z?”

Do you know what it is to be named Bryoney? It means that when someone says anything about Bryoney,

They are talking about me.

I’m watching this movie, “Atonement,” and I keep jumping when they mention that little trifelin chick’s name because for the first time in my 24 years of life people are saying my name and not talking about me.

Weird.

I really have to guard my reputation.

Grad School, Work, and Minimum Sleep Requirements for a Healthy Adult

Monday marks the start of my life in overdrive because Monday I will officially be a graduate student.

Yesterday, I found a unique solution to all of the problems of my previous post: take one more grad class so I can qualify for financial aid.

See, originally, I was just going to work full time and take one grad class so that I could get my feet wet in grad school. Because I am starting to suspect that the way of learning and completing course work in grad school is a lot different from the way of learning and completing course work in undergrad. They, like, want you to have ideas and stuff in grad school.

Yikes.

So I was just going to dip a toe into grad school next semester, see if the water was nice. Wade in slowly while letting my body adjust to the temperature.

But life had other plans.

In a way, I find it affirming of the fact that I made the right decision by staying in my city and working and going to grad school, the way all of my problems magically worked themselves out with this simple solution (and of course by magically I mean thank you Jesus!).

But…I am also a little scared as to how I am going to do this. I know I was only out of school for a semester, and I really didn’t have much leisure time then, but that’s the whole point. I was out of school last semester and I still felt like I was falling behind in the act of living.

Now I have not one but two grad classes to worry about, and they pretty much kick you out if you get a C in anything. And normally that wouldn’t even occur to me to be something to worry about because I get high grades in general…but….then there’s that whole other “think independently” thing that they want you to do there and I keep thinking “What if I can’t come up with enough ideas?”

What if I can’t come up with enough ideas and I get a C and flunk out and DIE and become completely destitute or, worse, default in my student loans and end up with BAD CREDIT….

….and still can’t get my car fixed???

OK. My moment has passed. The point of this blog is threefold: 1) I like that talk Arianna Huffington gave. It is oddly reassuring. Because I surely do NOT plan to be sleep deprived like I was my senior year of undergrad. My body is very vocal about its sleep requirements–I catch a cold immediately if I go more than 3 or 4 nights with 5 or fewer hours of sleep

2. There are 4 things I plan to do this year that have nothing to do with school or work. Because, for the love of life and sanity and happiness, a person simply must have other things:

  • Run a marathon
  • Get Dive certified
  • Learn to surf (or at least not be too afraid of getting water up my nose to try to learn to surf)
  • Help some people live better

3. …Funny thing…I could have sworn I had a 3….

Anyway, that’s not to say that I’m not extremely grateful for the opportunities that I have at this point in my life. Because I am. I’m just a little nervous. This is still all so new to me. And unknown.

Oh! I remember my 3. I was reading an entry from Iwillteachyoutoberich.com and Ramit Sethi was talking about the assumptions that hold people back and how a lot of times people have all these theories that they never put into practice that could possibly be completely disproved if they just…you know…would. And he challenged the readers to write down three assumptions they make that hold them back from…whatever. Financial independence, a happy career, a hot boyfriend, whatever. Things they want. And after identifying those assumptions, he entreated us to do something concrete in 48 hours to test them.

Not disprove them,

Just test them. Make sure you’re right about not doing it before you just go ahead and avoid it for no reason.

I’m not going to share my 3 until I’ve figured out what they are and how to test them.

But I do plan on doing this. And I hope I’m disproved, and that leads to some wider form of enlightenment that is applicable on a grand scale.

The Complaints of the Blessed

Ohh, my money bag is sooo heavy

Let me just clarify something right now.

In a previous post, I said that for the first time in my life things are hard, but I think in that post I was alluding to the financial realm. Things are hard because I have to buy my own furniture, and I have yet to stumble over a bag of money while walking down the street. Etc.

Let me clarify that.

That’s not really what makes things hard. That’s more of a lesson in patience. And discipline. It’s not hard to save up to buy a bed if you’re patient and disciplined. It really won’t take that long if you’re living within your means, and the lessons things like that teach about making judgment calls and prioritizing and self-restraint actually end up being invaluable life lessons.

So it’s not the finances thing that’s hard.

The hardest thing about adjusting to adult life to me is all of the choices you have to make all the freaking time.

When you’re a kid, people tell you what to do. And you either do it, or you don’t do it. But that’s it. Those are your two options. You do it, or you don’t. And for the most part, things end up OK either way (barring some drastic extremes). Pow. Simple.

But when you’re an adult…I mean…yeah, there are people telling you what to do and stuff…but at the same time…there just really is no way someone other than you even can govern your life in all the detail that adulthood requires.

And everything in adulthood seems to build upon the results or consequences of everything else, and you have to deal with the avenues that the choices you made in the past force you to take.

Take me, for example.

I graduated from college (yay) and got a good job quickly, so I immediately wanted to move into a nicer apartment. And that’s all I was really thinking: move into a nicer apartment. I’d been living by myself in a studio apartment, so I just naturally saw myself continuing to live alone in my I-Got-A-College-Degree one bedroom.

And I factored in things like utility bills and student loan repayment and stuff, and determined that I could make it work.

…and about .32 seconds after I signed the lease, I found out I would very soon either have to put up some major duckets to get some serious work done on my car, or scrap it and get another one.

And that’s, you know, that’s normal, but now that I’m in the middle of dealing with this car thing, I think that it would have been much smarter of me to get a roommate than to try to be a living-alone-post-college-baller. It would have been a much more appropriate response to a comprehensive view of my situation.

But adulthood is a city of one-way streets, and so I can only keep going down the path I chose or possibly find a roommate who’s willing to share a one-bedroom apartment.

Which is not what this post is about.

What this post is about is the car, and why this car is such a damn headache, and why and how that car and headache are what make the difficulties of adulthood make sense to me.

I went to the bank to see about a loan last week. All last week. Actually, since before Christmas, I have been shopping banks to find the right bank to find the right car loan. And I ended up at my new bank. And so last week, starting about Wednesday, I went to the bank to see about a loan. And so I went Wednesday and explained about how I wanted to see what my options were in terms of loans and how much I could be approved for, etc.

And then I went back Thursday because I had to bring in pay stubs.

And then I went back Friday because I had to bring in my offer letter.

….and by then, I’m already over this. I am sooo the lazy American who will pay for convenience. I feel guilty about it because I know it’s wasteful and destructive on a massive scale and just a waste of money on a smaller scale, but I will pay $2.98 a gallon over $2.93 if that gas station is CLOSER. Etc.

So then they call me Monday and they tell me I’m approved for $5000, an amount that, in my opinion, is just annoying. $5000. That means the car will have to be $4000 because I’ll have to pay another $1000 in fees. And I’m a girl. I don’t know how to distinguish a reliable $4000 used car from a lemon.

So I tell them that for $5000 they might as well just give me $25o0 so I can fix my old car and $1000 so I can pay for my grad class and keep it moving. This was yesterday.

Today they call me back and say now it’s $10,000 but the car has to be newer than a 2005. And I can use $1000 for tuition.

And that’s great and awesome I guess, but the space above my right eye has really started to hurt because I’m tired of making choices and negotiating things and trying to foresee possible results (And because the thought of taking on another $10,000 of debt is pretty daunting).

Last night I went to bed relieved because this was done. Today they call me and now I have another option and more possible results to contend with.

But my good friend Denny really put it in perspective when he was listening to my complaints today at lunch.

He started laughing. “Listen to you! ‘Ohhhh I have to have money to pay my grad tuition. Ohhh I need to buy a new car! Do you know what your complaints are supposed to be, statistically, at your age??”

And then I started laughing. Because anyone who is complaining that adulthood is too hard because the banks are giving her too many options to really find an optimal solution for her situation…should be laughed at. Because wow. The complaints of the blessed.

Listening to Your Heart

My mom gave me a print for my birthday in 2009 of  a painting called “Bryony.”

Awesome, right? She asked me if I would like for her to order it so that it came matted, and I told her no, I would take care of that myself (so I could help her help me in terms of giving me this awesome print).

When it arrived, the print came rolled in a tube and stuck in a rectangular box marked “art.com.” I was excited about it, but I also thought that it wouldn’t fit in my living space at the time (a studio apartment) and that I would just leave it rolled until I lived in a place where I had furniture and wanted to decorate.

So it stayed rolled for more than a year. This story may have actually taken place in 2008, now that I think about it. Either way. It was at least a year.

So flash forward to the other day, when I bought a coffee table and a dining room chair to go at my table. On a mad decorating high, I seized the box the print was in, opened it and hastily taped the print to my wall because I wanted my apartment to have some decorative elements for the new year.

The print itself is awesome, amazing, beautiful and complex, just like another Bryon(e)y I happen to know and love.

….but the thing is that it’s been rolled for a year, and so the print wants to go back to being rolled. It may have been made to be flat, but the way I treated it forced it to conform to a new state to the point where its original intended state is now the one that is unnatural for it.

It’s 2011, guys. And there’s symbolism in everything.

My heart reminds me of that print. Before I started writing this post, I was laying in bed and I was praying and trying to listen to it because my heart is trying to tell me something tonight but I’m not quite catching it.

There is a sort of a recurring theme in my relationship with God where I pray for the same thing for years at a time before I feel like it is actually granted. And these are not, like, prayers for material things, but they’re more like prayers for me to experience some sort of spiritual growth. I think I started praying to be “saved” (born again in the spirit of the Lord) at 11. I felt like  I actually became born again when I was 22.

That is half my life spent praying the same prayer.

And I would get frustrated, but I also know why it took so long and it’s because I was always praying that prayer with a divided heart. I’ve always believed in and loved God, but I’ve also always wanted to experience the world and what it has to offer too, and so my prayers were something along the lines of “I want you to save my soul….but I also want to drink and party. I don’t want to be a hypocrite…do you think you could save me after I’ve had my fun?”

And it is a testament to God’s great capacity for understanding that He actually granted this prayer and continues to meet me on my tenuous walk as I take two steps toward Him and one step back to party.

I was supposed to go to church today,

but I didn’t.

OK. I’ve been supposed to have gone to church for at least a month…but I haven’t.

I know I need to go, I know I need to go.

But I also need to know what my heart is trying to say to me and I haven’t quite learned that in church yet.

Ever since I’ve been saved, I’ve been praying the same prayer: that I would hear God clearly.

It’s been about two years, but being a part of a church community sometimes makes me really painfully aware that I can’t hear Him the way other Christians hear Him and that really complicates my relationship with God because I feel angry and neglected and left out. And then someone will tell me that the reason is because I don’t read the Bible enough or something and I just feel like calling the whole thing off.

I’m so visible.

I’m so visible.

We’re so visible,

You know?

Being a part of a church community makes the aspects of my relationship with God or my spiritual walk that I consider shortcomings…so visible. Especially to me. I’m telling you, most days I feel like a pretty good Christian because I try to treat people well and I talk to God and include Him in my life and give Him thanks.

But then I get around other Christians and I laugh at something that wasn’t meant as a joke (I am notorious in my real-world social circle for laughing at inappropriate things) or I almost say something that’s vulgar or I hear someone say something like “I mean I’m not gonna lie, I was tempted to try wine once” …and it’s like…well now I’m uncomfortable.

I read this book called “The Alchemist” and it talked a lot about how there is a way to tap into the Soul of the World, the thing that makes all things in this world one, and how those things, that thing, were all created by the Hand that Wrote Everything (my cultural references assume that means God), which is also a part of the Soul of the World, and therefore everything, and since we are a part of everything, that means us.

And it talked about how our hearts by their very nature are linked to this Soul of the World, but humans have collectively grown to ignore their hearts over time. And so the hearts speak more softly, because they don’t want to be ignored. And humans continue to ignore them, possibly because they can’t hear them.

And, OK, before anyone gets alarmed about my seeming inability to separate reality from someone’s imagination…I am aware that this book is a work of fiction.

But, really, how much of our entire lives are NOT a product of our imaginations,

first of all.

Second…it just speaks to me because I know I have kept my heart neatly rolled in a box marked art.com for years because I wasn’t ready to deal with it. And now that I’m ready to take it out and admire its beauty and complexity…it wants to stay rolled. Because that is the form its taken from being confined for so long.

And I wonder if the reason I can’t hear God doesn’t have something to do with the fact that I have treated my heart so poorly for all this time.

I only have three resolutions this year: 1) to not buy a new book until I finish reading all the ones I have in my apartment already 2) to have better posture and 3) to get to know and establish a loving relationship with my heart.