20-Something Life in The City vs. The Burbs

It’s Sunday morning, and I roll out of bed after a much-needed full night of rest and stare out my window. One roommate is up, clanking around the kitchen, but otherwise, there is just a slight breeze that can be heard through the windows and silence.

It’s all too tempting to remain in my bed another hour longer as there really isn’t anything to jump out of bed to do. In order to get anywhere, I have to drive at least 10 minutes away. To get to the city, it’s an hour drive give or take. So, while I’d love to head to Golden Gate Park for a run, instead, I lie in bed, and imagine what it would be like to live in the city.

When I moved out to the Bay Area in 2005, I always assumed I’d end up in San Francisco. But, instead, I’ve managed to live just about everywhere within an hour radius around the city and never in it.

There’s a part of me that feels like I need to experience city life now, before I get “old” and have a family and a reason to trap myself in the ‘burbs. Right now, there’s a piece of satisfaction with life I’m missing, and I think that has a large part to do with not living in the city. I want to be able to go to a figure drawing open session on Tuesday night… or Thurs night. And make new friends that are my age who like to go out and do… things.

Right now, I’m in a coffee shop in San Francisco near the Lower Haight, and the energy here is so city Sunday. Soft music plays, people are talking, reading, enjoying the day. Through the glass in front of me are four women, probably in their early 30s, enjoying a relaxing lunch, the SF version of Sex & the City (more hoodies, ponytails, but probably similar conversation.) And I want that… I want a life outside of work and watching reruns at my boyfriend’s house.

July 1 I have the opportunity to move… I can either stay close to work, or… maybe it’s the right time to make the move to the city. It would mean an hour-long commute to work, and more expensive rent, but it could also mean finding the missing link between my life today and my happiness.

What do you think? Do you live in a city or suburbs? Does living in a city help one be happy and feel more connected in her 20s/30s?


Fortune Mag Asks “Are Unpaid Jobs the New Normal?”

It may not be legal, but for the millions of Americans unemployed today, working for “free” in hopes of paid work in the future may be better than sitting at home and waiting for the phone to ring. The whole concept of minimum wage doesn’t apply when a college graduate is worth a job that deserves to be paid higher than minimum wage but, instead, isn’t paying a penny.

Kelly Fallis, who has used 50 unpaid workers at her small company, probably shouldn’t be admitting to her illegal slave labor practices in Fortune magazine

“People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary, so they’re going to outperform, they’re going to try to please, they’re going to be creative,” says Kelly Fallis, chief executive of Remote Stylist, a Toronto and New York-based startup that provides Web-based interior design services. “From a cost savings perspective, to get something off the ground, it’s huge. Especially if you’re a small business.”

The fact of the matter is there lies a fine line between “internship” and “taking advantage of someone,” and some days I’m not convinced that line exists. I’ve long questioned the concept of the “unpaid internship” in college, as not only is the work unpaid, but it requires college credit that you actually have to pay for (seems twisted, doesn’t it?) But this isn’t an article about college internships, it’s about adults who have graduated and can’t find work accepting unpaid “work” to keep themselves busy. Continue reading


At 27, I Purchased My First “Anti-Wrinkle Cream”

“What are those… those… red creases in my forehead?,” I silently scream to myself as I study my aging face in the mirror, reflexively squeezing my forehead flesh in a worried expression making the thin lines even more pronounced. “Since when did I have wrinkles?” I’m 27 and my face shows it. I’m not sure how a 27 year old face is supposed to look, but I do know that my friends who are in their 30s look older in a way that makes them look like actual adults, and that suddenly people in their 40s don’t seem all that much older than people in their 30s to me. Meanwhile, my 27-year-old face is, well, it’s changing. It’s slowly but surely turning 30.

I remember about five years ago when I had caught my reflection in the bathroom at some random party after drinking one too many glasses of wine, and I didn’t recognize myself. I’ve spent far too many hours of my life looking in the mirror, either slathering my face with makeup or watching tears fall down my cheeks during a depressive outburst, so it was terrifying not to recognize my face. I look old, I thought. And then I was maybe 20 or 21…

There was a time when I thought it was silly to spend money on anything to keep yourself looking youthful, but I’m beginning to understand the trend. In a report by iData Research, a leading authority in pharmaceutical market research, the¬†market for Botox injections¬†is expected grow to an estimated $543 million by 2017. Clearly, those pharma companies know how to prick us in our sore spots.

While I’m not quite ready for botox, the other day I did find myself, for the first time in my life, staring at the aisle of overpriced wrinkle reduction creams and products designed to make you look youthful on my latest trip to the drugstore. Every skincare line offers some retinol product that promises “RESULTS.” After staring at the selection for a good half an hour, I went with a Neutrogena wrinkle cream product that set me back $23, more because I trust the brand (go marketing) than the label that said “100% of women noticed results in one week.”

From a personal finance perspective, this has me worried. Surely I can let my face age naturally, I can stay out of the sun from this point on (though the damage has, to a large extend, already been done) and just accept that I’m getting older… or, I can do what many other women do, and spend somewhere between too much and a ridiculous amount of money on attempting to look young forever.

My mother, who is in her late 50s, complains how she doesn’t have the money to spend on Botox… $600+ for a few small areas, twice a year, but she still spends (likely) nearly that much in various creams and sessions with her dermatologist, even without the overpriced muscle-freezing injections. Damn, it’s expensive being a woman. It seems the options are to either marry rich and look young forever, or just accept that one day you will look in the mirror, and you will have to look a lot deeper into your eyes to see any evidence the girl you once were.