I started this blog, Taking Control and Finding Balance, in order to track my own efforts in all aspects of my life, whether’s it’s money, work, education, or general leisure. I’m a thirty-something administrative professional in higher education in the greater Boston metropolitan area. Taking Control and Finding Balance is the story of my journey to find happiness and success and balance.
However, I cannot escape higher education as I’m deeply invested in learning as a lifelong scholar who likes taking classes for fun. Though it took me 13 years and 5 schools to finish my BA in English, I graduated in 2013 with a master’s degree in English and completed a second master’s in 2015 in the field of Gender and Cultural Studies. Some of my favorite courses over the last few years have included “When the Princess Saves Herself: Gender and Fairy Tales,” “Novel in the History of Media,” and “Feminist Media Studies.” I wrote my master’s thesis on the spectacular web series adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the 2012 Emmy-winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. My thesis work was on the feminist elevation of Lydia Bennet into a three-dimensional character with an arc of her own and a stakeholder in the series’ central conflict with Lizzie. I’m still deeply in love with this project and will talk anyone’s ear off that knows the source material.
This website is intended to track my journey and to figure out the best life hacks for me (that you might be able to use). As a whole, I’m extraordinarily organized at work and am trying to bring that back into my personal life in a lot of ways, which you will hopefully see reflect back on this site. But he most important place I need to get more organized is in my financial life. I’m kind of obsessed with tracking my expenses with You Need a Budget, but I need to do better at spending within my means and reducing my overwhelming debt. I have multiple financial goals that I would like to achieve in the next 10 years including buying a condo in Boston and traveling 1-2 months out of the year.
Of course my big goal is to figure out what happiness looks like to me.
I adopted Tasha and Rory as baby kittens in May 2012 at the ages of 3 and 4 months respectively. I fell in love with Tasha at first sight and adopted Rory because they shared an enclosure at Petsmart (and because I’m a firm believer in adopting two cats at a time so they always have company). My love for Rory followed quickly although I have a huge soft spot for Tasha. At six years old, they retain the same personalities they had when I adopted them. Tasha, named for my favorite Avenger, is a little princess who is only attached to me. She loves me and is forever trying to cuddle with me when I’m home. Rory, on the other hand, is named for my favorite Doctor Who Companion, and demonstrates affection for anyone who will pay attention to him. Not that he doesn’t love me just as much as Tasha, but he is not nearly as dependent on me as Tasha is. I adore them both desperately and have been known to refer to them as the loves of my life. Four months after I adopted them, we moved them via SUV 3000 miles across the country in one of the most interesting experiences of my life, but now I know how to do it and ensure that it’s not too traumatizing for them.
Even though I’ve only been in Boston for a few years, it’s the place where I believe I want to spend the rest of my life. I feel like I’ve spent the last half of my life trying to get to Boston, starting with a failed early admission attempt at Harvard. In 2005, I flew from California to Boston to meet Casey, one of my favorite people in the world, and to see the cast of Veronica Mars, one of my other favorite things int the world. I had the strangest feeling of coming home as the plane was landing at Logan, just a wave of serenity that overwhelmed me. That week in Boston was one of my favorite things in the world and I’ve often joked that I was trying to get back since and it was clearly destiny as I accepted a graduate school offer in the Boston area in 2012. People ask if I miss California where I spent the vast majority of my life and I always tell them that I miss my family but none of the rest of it, particularly the lack of public transportation.
Boston has all the perks of a major metropolitan area without feelings like a huge city due to the closeness of everything and the pretty awesome public transportation (let me tell you, people complain about the MBTA, but it’s such a blessing compared to California public transportation). There is something delightful about the balance Boston has struck between history and contemporary society. It’s hard to walk more than a few feet in downtown Boston and not find a graveyard full of graves from the 1630s and later or a historical plaque marking Ben Franklin’s grammar school or a church or meeting house where the Sons of Liberty met to discuss and proclaim revolution and independence. It’s the Cradle of Liberty and there is something really beautiful and touching about it to me. Yet for all its history, it has never felt old to me because the student population in Boston is huge thanks to the 180 schools in the metro area. This is part of why I adore Boston’s commitment to culture that is present in productions through Broadway in Boston, the A.R.T, and the local theaters, the Emerald Necklace of parks, different varieties of cuisine, and academic lectures.
I’m not as well traveled as I would like to be. I spent the first 3 decades of my life in California and Washington with a trip to Hawaii (that I barely remember because I was 7) and a couple of 3 day cruises to Mexico for company Christmas parties. Once I moved to Boston and completed my first MA in English, I actually traveled significantly more because I gave papers at English and women’s studies conferences across the Eastern part of North America. For instance, I traveled to Puerto Rico with several of my grad school cohort for the National Women’s Studies Association conference in 2014 which was a beautiful place to visit. I also finally had a reason to get a passport in order to go to Toronto in May 2015 to present thesis-related research. My first experience with U.S. customs was an eye-opener since the Canadians actually put in their system that I had a Canadian passport. It took a good half hour to resolve so that I could finally go home to Tasha and Rory. Still, between September 2014 and March 2016, I attended conferences in Hartford, CT, Kansas City, MO, Milwaukee, WI, and Riverside, CA (which gave me a chance to visit family for Halloween) as well as Puerto Rico and Toronto. These conferences have actually really helped me overcome some of my worst introvert tendencies.
Two of my favorite places/events to visit in California are Disneyland and San Diego Comic-Con. I have attended SDCC off and on between 2008 and this year and I always have a blast at all of them since I enjoyed media, particularly TV shows and films quite a lot. Some of my favorite panels were the Farscape reunion panel, the first official Doctor Horrible screening with the cast and crew, all the Community panels, and the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter panel. I was lucky enough to be in the room when the Firefly cast had their 10 year reunion in 2012 in Ballroom 20 – imagine a room packed with 4000 people that had just waited in line for at least 15 – 24 hours with 6000 other people who didn’t have the chance to see it. I had never been in a room so full of emotion, passion, and energy, especially for a show that was cancelled 10 years prior. It was a ridiculous experience with tears, laughter, and standing ovations from the cast, crew, and fans even though no one had clearly slept at all. I can say this with authority because Joss Whedon walked the line at 3 AM with donuts and stopped and talked to every single person. Disneyland, on the other hand, is a place that I go to almost every year, particularly when I go home for Christmas because the Disney Parks are beautiful at that time of year.
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