Posts Tagged ‘college life’


I didn’t mean to get involved, I really didn’t…

When I was vulnerable and weak, the stores beckoned me. They called my name and whispered sweet nothings into my untrained ear. I came. I hithered. I gave myself up to the drumbeat of the sound of the credit card being beautifully swiped.

I became an emotional shopper.

But what was that really? What did that really mean?

Sure balancing a full-time college course load and all the studying that accompanied it was trying, but weren’t we all making our way towards a degree? I wasn’t alone and trudged along just like everyone else.

And sure working full-time along with college, well I wasn’t alone in that either, right? I mean everyone who was anyone was working and going to school. No big deal, right? In fact, the people who were going to school and didn’t have a job were the weirdos. “Why aren’t you working?”, we would all silently judge.

So college, check. Full-time job, check. Emotionally abusive relationship, check…wait, what?

Being young and in love and with everything else going in my life did not bode well for my wallet. Got into an argument. Get yelled at. Go directly to the mall. Got into another argument. More yelling. Cry. Go to the mall. Got into another argument but this time they said they were sorry. Okay, well you said you were sorry, but I am still crying. And I’m still going to go to the mall.

My emotional state of mind bridged my way to being an emotional shopper, way before that term was even in the day-to-day lexicon.

And that is a bridge I’d like to burn.

Because I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could go talk to that young girl that I was, and hug her and tell her that it is going to get better. I would tell her that all the cheap shoes and t-shirts that she buys won’t erase the hollow feeling in her heart. That the latest trendy nonsense being sold in the stores won’t cover the pit in the bottom of her stomach.

I want to hold her tight and tell her to leave this relationship that she is in that is making her fragile and leaving her broken. I want to caress her hair and tell her that relationships are not supposed to be like that, and that one day you will meet and marry a man who loves you more than anything in this world and knows how to treat a lady.

But since I can’t do that, I want to burn the bridge. I want to tear it down and I don’t want anyone else to walk across it.

No one should have to walk across that bridge.

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If I could go back in time and change my major, would I?

Would I have still taken the path that I did? Met the same people, made the same choices?

The same path…maybe.

But picking my major was a dilemma in itself. I entered college all gung-ho about changing the environment. I wanted to save Mother Earth and recycle till the cows came home. I wanted to hug some trees, save some sea otters, and eat dolphin-safe tuna, all while rockin’ to No Doubt.

Cause I’m just a girl, Gwen. Cause I’m just a girl.

Anyways, that was my plan. Until I actually took an Environmental Sciences class, and remembered how much I hated science. Like with a loathing like nothing you’ve ever seen. And to major in environmental studies and grow up to hug trees, you gotta take a lot of science classes.

Nope. No way. No how. Not gonna happen.

So I majored in Communications. Because I wanted to still have a voice in the whole environmental political arena. And I am really good at arguing debates. So I figured this was a good match.

Now the question still remains…

Would I still choose the same major, if I could go back and do it all over again?

No. I would not.

I would’ve chosen English or History, as those really are my true loves. In fact, all of my elective courses I took in college had absolutely nothing to do with my major. My elective courses were full of impassioned stories from Eudora Welty mixed right along stories of the horrors of the Battle of the Somme from WWI. My giddy excitement in taking these courses took a bit of a downturn when I had to then go to class for something related to my major.

I mean Communication Law may sound fun on paper, but not in person. And not writing about it for 2 hours in a blue-book during finals.

Instead I listened to naysayers, who said “What the heck are you going to do with an English or History major? Teach?” Um, maybe. I don’t know. Probably not. But I would’ve been a writer…sooner. Because I am a writer. I am working on getting my voice out there. But I believe it would’ve happened sooner, if I had just followed my gut.

So yes. My answer is yes. If I could go back in time, I definitely would have changed my major.

Would you?

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Dear California,

The earth shifts beneath my feet, and I roam your hills. The sun kisses my face and I feel your warmth.

Oh California, you were my first love. You breathed life into me before I even knew you. I will miss your high-speed winds, and the tumbleweeds that blew down my street when I was just a girl.

I will miss the drives down PCH, blaring the radio, drinking in the smell of the ocean. I will miss your blazing sunsets, your sandy intricacies, your aura of golden happiness.

You gave me so much happiness, California. I met my wonderful husband here and breathed life into my beautiful baby girl beneath your sun.

Your amazing opportunities allowed my dad to raise me in a quiet town nestled beneath the mountains, wrapped in 80’s nostalgia, glimmering just on the edge of big city life.

Thank you California for the beautiful memories of college. They were some of the best years of my life and I’ll never forget them.

As my recollections become mere whispers, I’ll never forget you my first love. As your sun-kissed summers become a distant memory, I will always treasure my time on your sandy shores.

I love you California, and you’ll always hold a special place in my heart

Love, Mackenzie

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At the juxtaposition of life, I felt the crossroads on my back. The money slipped through my fingers and I felt heavy with remorse. Pieces of paper, green in color, felt dark upon my heart.

Shopping while in the throes of emotion, was a battle I chose to fight, but knew that it was one I would ultimately lose. I felt my moods dictate my direction, my limits… my wallet.

Bad days and credit cards were a harsh mix, and I played a dangerous game of roulette. Red or black… Even or odd… I went for it. I spun that wheel and teetered on the edge.

And I didn’t care.

Emotional shopping was a wound that continued to fester. There wasn’t a bandage large enough, to cover my openness. This wound that continued to make me sick, no matter what I bought, just would not heal.

I would come home from my whirlwind of plastic euphoria, and there would be nothing but emptiness. What was in these bags that I just dropped on the floor? What did I buy?

What did that receipt say?

Shopping while wearing your heart on your sleeve is dangerous.

I learned this lesson the hard way, and I paid for it bitterly.

Credit card companies don’t care that you bought two pairs of shoes because you had a bad day. They don’t care that you studied your behind off and your professor gave you a bad grade anyway, so a trip to the mall was in order. They don’t care that your job sucks, and you have thought about quitting for the umpteenth time, so instead you went to the MAC counter at the department store, and lost your mind.

They don’t freaking care.

Emotional shopping is like a bad hangover that won’t go away. Until I gave up that proverbial bottle and stopped imbibing on plastic dreams, I did not realize that I was strong. I did not realize that below the surface, I was capable of conquering the “shopping while emotional” demons.

I fought it. I refused to give in. Though there have many a time I have been tempted, I will not be defined by the chaos that comes with the carnival of emotional shopping.

I am a fighter.

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So do I win for longest blog title? 😉

You hear many people speak about choosing the right major. “Don’t major in English unless you are going to be a teacher”. “Don’t major in this, don’t major in that, etc…”

Then at the same time, you hear people speak about following your passion. “Are you sure that’s what you want to do with your life? You better be passionate about it!”

Why? What happens if you’re not? Why do they both have to be the same thing?

When I started college, waaaaaay back in the day, my major was environmental science. I became passionate about saving the environment my senior year in high school. I was going to go to college to get my degree, and then save the world from non-recycling, trash-throwing, ocean polluters.

But then reality kicked in. The reality being that I hate science. With a passion. We don’t get along at all. I’m more of an English/History girl and all the science classes I would have to take, made me nauseous. This was just not going to work. I still cared about the environment, but this major was just not going to happen.

Just because it’s not your major, doesn’t mean it’s not important.

I changed my major to Communications, my second year of college and never looked back. I loved all my media classes, the debates, the talking, the speeches, the EVERYTHING! 🙂 And my Bachelor’s Degree helped me land jobs and I still use many of the things that I went to school for. I loved my major and don’t regret choosing it at all.

However, it doesn’t mean that my passion for the environment fizzled out. On the contrary, it’s still going strong! I still recycle, I still try to purchase environmentally friendly items whenever possible, I re-use things all the time. I conserve, I donate, I thrive.

The environment is still just as important to me now as it was when I was 17. I am still that girl who learned about the decimation to the population of sea otters and bawled her eyes out. When I see animals whose bellies are full of plastic that we humans dumped in the ocean, it makes me sick. I still care. I still passionately care.

My major doesn’t define who I am.

But my beliefs do. And that’s what matters.

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Worst Job EVER!!

So Tonya over at Budget and the Beach, and John over at Frugal Rules had some awesome posts about the worst jobs they ever had. Of course, I had to share mine!

The Yuck Factor

Way back in the day, when I was in college, I worked returns at a home improvement store. Some of the things people returned were fine, but some things…people are gross, K?

Do you know what a snake is? No, not the reptile. Think plumbing…think of a router that is used to unclog your toilet. Okay, are you picturing it?

Okay, now…picture a customer walking in, coming over to the return desk, and guess what they want to return? Ewwww, yes! A used toilet snake!!! They bring it in a plastic bag and it is used and gross and it smells!!! And they have the audacity to stand there and say “Uhhh, um yeah, it didn’t work”.

Really? So all those $%!* stains everywhere and in the bag, mean it didn’t work?

YOU ARE SO GROSS! And you are totally lying! You used it, unclogged your toilet, and now you want your money back!


I still have nightmares from that…Bleh…people are disgusting.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

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Dear College Newbie…

Dear College Newbie,

In a few short months, you will be leaving the confines of high school, and starting a new chapter in your life: college.

Now, I understand that you don’t really want to listen to anything I have to say because I am an adult, and older, and how could I possibly understand what it’s like to be 18 because didn’t I start college like a million years ago?


It wasn’t that long ago, you little $&!^!!!!…

Anyways, like I was saying, some things are a bit different but some things are exactly the same.

Money: it’s the same. It hasn’t changed. It’s still the denomination being used right?

Look, I speak from experience. Sororities and Fraternities are awesome and yes, you get “insta-friends” and there are parties and events, and parties, and…

I’m sorry, where was I?

Oh yeah, sororities and fraternities… Yes, they are the cat’s meow, and yes I had a blast when I was in one, but they cost a lot of money. Quite a bit of coin, yo… And I don’t think that number hits home until it’s too late and you’re already in it. It’s not just dues you have to pay; there are events to shell out for, shirts, items, it’s mind-boggling really what you have to pay for.

So before you think being friends with Miffy and Buffy is sooooo worth it, think with your head and not your friendship bracelet, k?

Also, the people standing in front of the campus bookstore are not your friends. No, I am not talking about Miffy and Buffy! Pay attention!

I am talking about the people with the sinister smiles offering you a credit card. “It’ll take just 5 minutes to sign up! You have 5 minutes, right?”

No, you don’t. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

This credit card will be the bane of your existence. If you need a credit card to buy the latest clothes at the mall so you will look totally cute in class, just step away from the table. If you need a credit card to “feel more adult”, you are doing this wrong.

Signing up for a credit card should be a thought out experience. Not one made in haste between your “Intro to Medieval Classics” class and your “A Brief History of Rock Formations” class.

Seriously, those are the courses you’re taking???

I hope this info help you, college newbie. Just because when I was in college we still burned CD’s, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I am talking about.

Love, Mackenzie

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Emotional Shopping

I used to be an emotional shopper. But I didn’t know it. I didn’t even know there was a term for it.

It all started back in college. Between classes, studies, a full-time job, a sorority, family and friends, something had to give. Throw in a volatile relationship with an ex-boyfriend and I’m lucky I didn’t spiral out of control.

Bad day at work? Buy some shoes, you’ll feel better.

Got a bad grade on an exam? You know, those shoes would look good in black too. You should go get them.

Got in an argument with the boyfriend…again. Well, a new purse will make you feel happy.

And so on and so on…

Shopping was a band-aid for what was ailing me. My emotions mixed with credit cards were a bad combination. And I still kept doing it. College was one big spendy rollercoaster and like any great ride, it came to an abrupt end.

No, I didn’t just wake up one day and think, hey I’m going to get my finances under control. I wish it had happened that way, it would have been a lot easier.

See, when one has a problem, they actually have to recognize that they have a problem. Even after I graduated college, I was still spending. Even after I left my crappy job, and got a new one after graduating, it still went on.

My eye-opener came in two waves.

The first wave was the break-up of my five-year relationship with my ex. It was as I said, a volatile relationship and when it ended it was difficult. My emotions were all over the place and I was a mess. But I threw myself into my work, and when I wasn’t working, my friends were there for me. Rallying me and building me back up.

But while this transition was happening, I wasn’t at the stores…

The second wave was moving out on my own. You can’t spend willy nilly when you’ve got bills to pay. Was I the model of frugality? No. But I wasn’t mindlessly buying make-up either.

Money suddenly started to make sense to me, as a means to an end, not a cure for what ails.

Now when I’m feeling down, I watch reality tv, or honestly… I clean. Sometimes I just cry and get my emotions out there.

But I don’t shop. And that’s what’s important.

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Spring of ’96

Ah, the spring of 1996. I remember it well. I was a freshman in college, ready to take on the world. That particular season holds dear memories for me. I rushed and joined my sorority. I turned 19. Oh yeah… and I got my first credit card.

They say you always remember your first (wink, wink) and I definitely do. It was a Visa. A beautiful, wonderful Visa card and it was mine. My name was emblazoned on it in big bold letters, so it must be true! And the nice people who approved me for the card, gave me a limit to the monetary wonderfulness so that I would be smart with the card. Not spend it on stupid purchases; just for emergencies, got it.

Ah life, how you mock me. Stupid purchases and emergencies somehow became synonymous and interchangeable. Where there was one, there was the other. I had to survive didn’t I? Books for school, gas to go to school, food to eat at school; that was just the beginning. Then it was clothes, shoes, movies, CD’s, social events, you name it. And let’s not forget my lovely sorority. It costs quite a pretty penny to be in a sorority or fraternity. The dollar signs began to add up rather quickly.

That glossy shiny card became the bane of my existence. And let’s not forget the slinky. Oh, did I not mention that part? Oh yes, my sisters and I signed up for our credit cards at a booth just outside our campus bookstore and received our free gift. A pink and purple slinky. I cringe, even writing that. But I digress…

I’d like to think that I have grown financially as a person since that heady Spring of ’96. That girl who rocked to No Doubt on her way to class still likes an old Gwen song now and then. But I don’t buy music on credit. Unsecured debt, a completely abstract term to that college freshman of long ago, is very much a term I know and understand. The woman I am now, cannot fathom the exorbitant amount of money that was spent on sorority life. But the girl I was, relished every moment.

And life is like that. Full of experiences that sometimes you just shake your head at. And the Spring of 1996 is like that for me. A season that changed my life personally and financially…but please don’t ask me what became of the infamous slinky. I have no idea. And I cringe writing that too.

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