Sunday, October 28, 2012

Where in the world is Maggie San Diego?

Where have I been this month? I certainly wasn't hanging out in the blogosphere. This month has been a little cray-cray for several reasons:

1. Weddings-one in NYC and one in State College. Lots of travelling over the weekends. I caught the bouquet in the second wedding, which wasn't a challenge as no one else went for it. After I caught it, I remembered why the bouquet wasn't a prize. Hello, unknown, just as embarrassed man touching my leg! I will never, ever go for that bouquet again. Happily, in the first wedding, I had my own bouquet and I didn't even have to suffer through bad stranger touch to get it!


2. Work-Oh my job, I am so grateful to have you, but sometimes you wear me down. It was the paper grading that did me in this time. I know, I know-I agreed to trekking the mountain of 7th grader papers when I signed up to be an English teacher. This month, however, the mountain tossed down an avalanche and not even a search and rescue doodle with a thermos of hot cocoa could save me. I feel more caught up now. Just in time for the next essay.

To power up for a long day of grading, I like to start with a nice fruit smoothie.

Sitting desk

Now a standing desk, which unfortunately requires some alternate footwear. I am so ashamed. 

3. BIG Financial Decisions-

a. I consolidated my federal student loans through Direct Loan Consolidation. My grace period ends in November, and I wanted to be all ready to go. I also chose the repayment plan that best suits my life/budget/plans. It was a scary process and I am sure that things will go wrong before it is all settled, but I don't want to have 3 different loan holders-Sallie Mae, AES, and FedLoans. To all my recent fellow graduates with terrifying student debt, we should all have a debt free party in 2080.

b. I set up an IRA through my work to start saving for retirement. My company has a financial adviser and he helped me to choose a plan and paycheck deposit amount. If you have not done this, you should really look into it. It doesn't have to be a huge amount every month and it really adds up in the long run if you start early. Suze Orman says that you don't miss what you don't have and to deposit as much as you can in your IRA/401K. I remember listening to this on a Suze Orman tape (what??) when I was younger and it stuck with me. Check with your company to see if they have a financial adviser you can meet/have a phone conversation with. It was not fun (I had stress neck spasms like I did in high school), but I am relieved and proud that I did it.

c. I bought a freaking car. Me. Me! I bought a car! This is a huge deal.

I have no hair color loyalty-darker now.
Since college, I have driven my 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback. That baby and I have been through a lot together: a blizzard in the mountains of West Virgina, roadtrip to the Outerbank Banks and Key West, a move from PA to Miami and back, countless trips from home to college (4 hours each way), up to Boston, through the streets of Harlem, back and forth to grad school and student teaching. Subie has 208,000 miles on her and has become less dependable and more expensive. It seems that this model from 1997-1999 had engine trouble and needs a new head gasket (replaced by my parents), converter (replaced by my parents), and transmission (yet to go). I was planning on buying it from my parents but with the increasing repairs and poor gas mileage, it seemed time for me to get a new vehicle and retire the Subie to the farm (this is legit-I am not putting her down).

So, I went through the car buying process. became my best friend. I realized a deep anxiety around dealers. I am sorry, they stress me out (neck spasms, again). I scanned and I checked NADA and Kelley Blue Book values. I made a list of my high priorities in a car to keep my head on straight when the dealer started talking and things got overwhelming. My criteria included comfort (the Subaru was a little worn out and not too nice for long trips), good gas mileage, dependability, and under 12,000. I found this little baby:


A 2008 Hyundai Elantra with 15,000. I likes it. I likes it a lot. Financing was a pain in the tush, but I got it sorted with the help of a banking fairy godmother (5% was just not acceptable). Warning: Having car dealers and banks pull your credit score actually hurts it! Proceed with caution.

Owning a car and all the associated costs is nerve wracking, but another important "grown up" step. I could not have done it without my fah-jah. My advice to first time car buyers? Get someone who has car buying experience to go with you. They know what questions to ask and when to bargain (turns out that I can barter for trinkets in Chinatown, but not a vehicle). Thanks, Dad!

4. Odds and ends-

A new bed! I picked it out of an IKEA catalog. 


Apple crumble made by moi during the 2nd presidential debate

Perfect petite pan. From ma mom.

Doodle shenanigans

Carving pumpkins with someone special. Mine is the owl.

There are my excuses for the long hiatus from Blogger (oh, and Blogger had some photo uploading problems that kept me away too). I missed cyberspace, and hopefully life won't bowl me over in November and I can post more consistently. Goodness knows that October is going out with a bang...

Stay dry, you all!

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