MBA Completion Party!

On Saturday, March 2 I completed my final exam for my last MBA course (Economics). It was extremely memorable, because it was a timed, online exam and the power got shut off with 30 minutes left to go. I ended up going into total survival mode and rushed out the door to use the free restaurant wifi down the street. I barely changed out of my pajamas and didn’t even stop to brush my teeth properly. It was really gross, but I knew every second counted. I got the exam done with about 2 minutes to spare, so I guess that’s all that really matters!

Technically my graduation will be in May. The courses in the MBA program are 8 weeks long, where normal undergrad classes are 16 weeks. So MBA students can complete two sessions in a single semester. My classmates are in their second Spring 2013 class right now and they will finish in early May. Therefore, I have to wait.

I did not want to wait to celebrate though! I’ve been taking classes for my MBA (or undergrad pre-requisites) since summer 2009. So I rented space from a lovely local restaurant and threw myself a dinner party and invited a bunch of friends. It was fabulous and I am so happy I got to hang out with some awesome people and eat delicious food. I often lament the difficulty of making adult friends, but I realized that basically everyone in the room (aside from 3 family members, and one friend from middle school years) was a friend I’d made post undergrad.

Unemployment in the Social Age

I’m absolutely exhausted this morning. My to-do list is a mile long and growing. I’m currently drinking a Red Bull, and laying face first on the couch with 10 tabs open in Firefox.

Things have actually been going really well. I haven’t won the lottery, gotten married for the insurance, or struck gold in my backyard. I have been completely overwhelmed (emotionally and literally) by support and help from friends and acquaintances.

It’s gotten me thinking that I am very lucky to have lost my job in 2012, with the Internet and social media as resources. My layoff happened on Friday at 5 pm. I posted my status on Facebook Friday night. I have 48 comments on that post along with a bunch of emails and private messages. I had to create a spreadsheet to track all the leads I’ve gotten.

I immediately updated my LinkedIn contacts and sent out a bunch of recommendation requests. In three days I’ve gotten a handful of great ones already.

Thanks to social media I’ve gotten several leads on freelance projects and odd jobs (such as helping a friend set up for a consignment sale). I found someone to buy an unused $100 J. Crew gift card within a couple hours. I posted some gently used Anthropologie items for sale on a group Facebook page. I’ve used the Internet to list a bunch of old books for sale on Amazon (making money and de-cluttering!) and sold back the textbook from my Summer class.

A friend alerted me to a happy hour for graphic designers in Richmond, and took time out of her busy week to meet me there and buy me a beer. Even though it was a small group, I got two leads (and a free beer) out of that event.

The Realtor who is helping me do a short sale on my house is someone I met through Twitter. My mom came with me to our first meeting and was amazed that I met someone smart, kind and non-murderous via the Internet!

Some friends that I’ve know for a long time (so long that it’s silly to mention that I originally met them through a message board for a sci-fi cartoon) have been perhaps the sweetest of all. Offering to pick me up at the airport about an hour away this fall so I don’t have to spend money on a rental car. One guy, living in a different country, offered to make me a portfolio website. Three others offered financial assistance to ensure I could get my medical care covered. And I’m misting up again. My mom has offered the same (of course) but no other family members have. But people, friends, from the Internet have offered. And that makes me very fortunate indeed.

DC Weekend!

One of my good friends who now lives in NC drove up for the weekend and we spent one night in DC to do touristy things. We stopped at my mom’s for dinner Sunday night on the way back to my place and then I had to drive for about 20 miles in a scary snowstorm with very low viability. Of course the snow all melted the next day.

Save Christmas

My friend, who is a single mom with 2 kids, just lost her job, mere weeks before Christmas. There is never a good time to be unemployed, but she has had an extra hard year and was not expecting this new setback. I’m going to respect their privacy and not disclose all the details, but trust me, this situation sucks.

I thought about it all day, just sick to my stomach about the state of the world. Then I posted on Facebook and Twitter asking if anyone would be willing to donate to help her provide Christmas (among other needs) for her kids. The kids are a pre-teen and young teen, so they won’t feel that Santa let them down if they don’t get presents. But they are extremely good kids who deserve a nice Christmas, and their mom is a sweet, caring lady who works her butt off to provide for them. She needs to be able to give them a Christmas.

In less than 24 hours, I have gotten just under $300 pledged to help her and her family. I have awesome friends who jumped right in and sent money, promised money, and also gift cards and other items.

I am so excited. Every time I get an email or message, I text my mom the new total.

I am humbled by everyone’s willingness to help and their trust in me (especially my internet friends My Milk Glass Heart, Let’s Die Friends, David C. Garcia, Brandon J. Carr and a special thanks to Paul Frank Industries).

I am sure that my friend will be extremely happy and touched to know how many care about her and her family. I’m guessing here, but I’m sure they could use help with regular bills and expenses, too.

I know there are a lot of demands on everyone this time of year, but it would mean a lot to me and to her to know people care. If you want to donate money, gift cards, or other items please leave a comment (make sure you use a valid email address) or you can send donations via Paypal to my account at carlyrmgmailcom

My Friend the Artist

Portrait by Nicole Bourgea

Portrait by Nicole Bourgea

via, link

My best friend from Catholic school is a professional artist. Nicole Bourgea is extremely talented and takes commissions. You can read her blog “I Hate to Alarm You” here or see more of her work at her portfolio site.

I think it would be extremely cool to have her paint my portrait. It’s not really in the budget for me with the family issues and being mid-MBA, but I might ask about her rates and start a fund for a future sitting. If you decide to check it out for yourself, please let me know. I’d love to see the results!

Facebook Depression

The latest news is that there is a new condition affecting teens, “Facebook Depression.”

My initial thought was basically eye-rolling, but then when I learned a little bit more, I felt I could relate somewhat, even though I’m not exactly a teen.

“With in-your-face friends’ tallies, status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times, Facebook pages can make some kids feel even worse if they think they don’t measure up.” (source MSNBC)

I don’t get upset about friend counts, because I’ve always preferred to have a few close good friends, than a large number of false friends or just acquaintances. Sure, I use Facebook to keep tabs on people that I might not ever see face-to-face again, but I deleted a bunch of people that I once knew, but who I never interact with even online.

In addition, seeing photos, or hearing about events that you were not invited to, or included in, can be hurtful. This is the part that has gotten me in the past. I’d go through a cycle of seeing photos of happy shiny friends having great times at parties and other events that I was never invited to, getting really upset, getting over it, then seeing similar photos all over again. I never said anything to the “offenders” in these cases, but I eventually made the personal decision to just remove these accounts from my Facebook. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed. I have never gotten any emails, phone calls, or other comments since. And in this case ignorance has not quite been bliss, but has stopped salt from pouring into my wounds.

I can’t imagine how hard a situation like this would be to a teenager, when everything in the world is SO DARN IMPORTANT. I think I am very lucky I didn’t have to deal with so much social media when I was a kid.

Jim and Samantha’s Beach Wedding

I spent the weekend at the beach. My friend Samantha put on a fabulous party that included a wedding.

Beach BBQ

I’ve known Samantha since we lived on the same hall our Freshman year at James Madison University. We were both art/graphic design majors, but I don’t think we ever had a single class together. She’s from Richmond, so I spent time visiting her (and sometimes her family) on breaks from school. Now she’s a badass web designer in Northern Virginia, and basically who I want to be when I grow up.

Me and Samantha

Samantha met Jim at a conference they were both working (they are both designers) Jim proposed to her at SXSW. Her engagement ring is a black diamond. This is a cool couple we are talking about here.

I know Samantha stressed about the wedding planning. She’s extremely thoughtful, so naturally she wanted everyone to have a great time. There was no bridezilla stuff. Samantha and Jim spend their rare downtime at the beach, especially the Outer Banks area. Samantha got the idea to have the wedding in Frisco, on Hatteras Island.

Cocktail Hour by the Pool

They rented a huge house (The Love Boat) where they hosted a beach barbecue Friday night. The wedding ceremony was held on Saturday, in the sand at the water’s edge, just before sunset. Cocktail hour was around the pool and then the guests moved around the back of the house, under a tent, to eat, drink and dance. I am pretty sure Samantha was on the dance floor for every song. It was great to attend a wedding where the bride and groom are actually having a fantastic time.

Wedding Decorations

Wedding Decorations

The wedding decor and ephemera were all DIY by Samantha and Jim. They designed the invites, program, website. Even wooden signs directing guests where to park were designed in the same hand-drawn font. Samantha decorated with tiny multicolored vases on each table, paper lanterns, strings of white Christmas lights, and old family photos pinned to makeshift clotheslines strung between trees. There was a guest book that encouraged doodles. The favors were custom printed mini notebooks and pencils and tote bags (again with a complementary design) filled with treats for a day at the beach. I think the tote bags are especially cute/cool/nerdy since they so strongly evoke a design conference to me.

The Beautiful Bride (and Me)

Samantha seemed both genuinely surprised and happy that I made the trip down for the wedding. I wouldn’t have missed it.