20 Things I Learned In My 20s: Your First Job Is Not Your Last Job

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I’ve held down several different jobs during my 20s: I did a few stints at Blockbuster, I was a research assistant for a psychology professor, I worked the front desk at the law school library, I was a research assistant for a law professor, I was a litigator, I did campaign field work, and I’m a lobbyist. Of these, I’d really consider only the last three to be “professional” jobs, in that they have any relevancy to my “career”. But even though that list of work experience is rather short when it comes to actual real-adult work, it’s still long enough for me to have learned that as easy as it is to feel trapped in a bad job, especially if it’s your first job, there are other jobs out there and getting out just requires the courage to make the leap.

When we’re in high school, we’re encouraged to think about what we might want to do for the rest of our lives, and develop a “career plan”. We think of our career trajectory as linear: you go to college, you get a degree in a field you’re interested in working in, you get a job, you work hard and get promoted up, and you keep chugging away until you retire. One long line, trending upwards. It’s a comforting idea to fixate on, the idea that things just keep getting better and are headed up from here. It’s also completely wrong.

You get that first job and you’re so enthusiastic to start your real life…you’re going to work so hard, and get raises and bonuses, and promotions, and you might move laterally once you’re established, but you’re never going to go downward at all! This goes double if you, like so many of us millennials, had a long job search and maybe ended up outside your intended role. We’re just going to work twice as hard at THIS job to get to where we wanted to be!

And then this job starts to get hard to stay excited about, or even just get up to do. And then it gets not just hard to get up to do, but you actively start dreading it. And that is the scariest moment. You feel trapped. One job in the hand is worth two in the bush, right? You’re so worn down by your day that it’s hard to find the energy to come home and job search to find something new. This wasn’t at all how it was supposed to be. What if something else is even worse, though? What if there’s not even something else out there? Dropping out of this job now interrupts that nice little upward line we’re so stuck on.

It’s hard to see when you’re stuck in it, but there is something else out there. Your career path is not one single upward line. It’s got hops, skips, jumps. It might mean moving. It might mean starting out at the bottom again in another business. It might mean discovering what you’ve always thought you’re good at isn’t really what you’re best at. It’s incredibly scary, but you have to remember that your first job is not your last job. There’s no such thing as a perfect job out there anywhere, but if you can’t find the strength to leave the wrong one, you’ll never get to the right one.

I Cooked: Vegan Peanut Satay Tofu

Drew doesn’t really care for tofu. As a longtime vegetarian, though, I have come to actually quite like the stuff. So when I know I’m going to be making a food that prominently features tofu, I try to make it a little extra appealing to him…like, for example, putting something I know he’ll like (a peanut sauce!) on top. So when I came across this recipe, I bookmarked it to come back to later and tried it out last weekend!

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1 package superfirm tofu
olive oil
3 tbsps of peanut butter
2 1/2 tbsps of coconut cream
4 tbsps of blended raw cashews (soaked overnight)

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Heat olive oil in a frying pan, make sure there is enough oil so that the tofu is completely shallow in the oil (measurements depend on the depth of your pan)Chop tofu into desired pieces and add to the panIn a separate pan, add cashews, peanut butter, and coconut creamContinually stir the mixture until it becomes a paste-like substance while also checking tofu

Once tofu is ready (fried nice and crispy), pat dry the tofu with a paper cloth to ensure there is no excess oil

Serve tofu on a plate and add satay on top. Enjoy!

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So…this didn’t come out looking super awesome. BUT, it tasted great! I should have let the tofu fry a little more to get it crispier, but Drew and I both loved the sauce and the whole thing together was filling and tasty. It was also pretty easy to make, and had a nice short ingredient list (once I figured out where the coconut cream was at the grocery store). Definitely worth making again!

I Ate: The Squeeze In

Reno’s food scene is…different than what I was used to in Ann Arbor. There are definitely some great restaurants, and some unique stuff (Basque food, anyone?), but in terms of having consistently good-to-very-good eats available for virtually any kind of cuisine you happen to be craving at the moment, Reno lets me down a bit. BUT one thing that Reno totally owns is breakfast. Reno LOVES breakfast, and has a ton of good breakfast places. And my very favorite of all the delicious Reno breakfasts is the Squeeze In.

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I first came here with a Reno local friend on the campaign and was immediately won over by the most important part of breakfast: alcohol. You get a GOBLET of mimosa, people. Or a very well made (so Drew tells me, because I hate them) Bloody Mary. Whatever makes your heart happy. And then the food! They specialize in omelettes, and they have more combinations of ingredients than you can shake a stick at (is that a thing people do, shaking sticks?). I’m partial to the Chaddilac, while Drew often enjoys the Zwiefel.

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And we haven’t even touched on the atmosphere yet! It’s definitely quirky, but in a way that feels organic rather than self-concious. People have (with the blessing of the establishment) left their mark all over the walls, there’s a lot of funky cool decor, the whole space is charming and homey. The service is always great: during busy times things take a little longer, obviously, but everyone is always super helpful and friendly.

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The Squeeze In has several locations around Reno: three in town and one (the original!) up in Truckee, CA. The only I usually go to is the Northwest Reno location at 5020 Las Brisas Blvd in Reno, NV. They’ve opened up a new spot in the Bay Area, so anyone out there should check it out! Be warned that the wait during peak times (weekend mornings) can be long, but they move things as efficiently as they can to get everyone in. I’ve always found it to be totally worth it.

A Day In The Life Of A Lobbyist

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A few months ago, I went to speak at Career Day at Drew’s mom’s school. I talked to the kids both about being a lawyer and being a lobbyist, and I got the cutest thank you notes back. My favorite was one that thanked me for telling them that a lobbyist wasn’t a person who lived in the lobby of a hotel. And it occurred to me that I had no real idea of what a lobbyist did on a day-in and day-out basis before I started working as one, so if any readers are curious about what the day of an actual lobbyist looks like, here is what my days look like during session:

5:15 AM: Wake up. Feel a little mad about being awake so early, but mostly just feel tired. Shuffle through morning routine- shower, coffee, get dressed, slam down a greek yogurt. Make sure to put snacks in my bag for later.

6:45 AM: Leave Reno and drive to Carson City. Try not to get in car accident in truly horrific expressway interchange that is an accident risk 100% of the time because it’s terribly designed and people drive like idiots.

7:20 AM: Arrive in Carson City office. Meet with bosses and interns to discuss the morning’s schedule…which bills are up in which committees, who is going where to cover what, figure out any meetings with legislators that I should be there for.

8 AM: Morning committees start. I may be in there watching a bill, I may be back in the office keeping an ear on the live stream while doing something else (reading bills, updating our tracking system, etc), I may be in a meeting with a legislator about a bill.

10:30 AM: Start dragging. Second coffee time.

11:00 AM: Most days, this is when we have our weekly check-in calls with our clients or association meetings. Not every client has enough going on during session to merit a weekly check-in, some just have a few bills they track while others keep track of hundreds. For clients with smaller loads, we check in as needed. For the clients with a lot going on, we give them an update on what’s going on in the building, both officially and unofficially. And several of our clients are members of larger professional associations that have weekly lobbyist meetings focused on that industry’s issues. Once our calls/meetings are done, I grab some lunch (which I bring from home unless someone else is paying because I’m cheap) and usually put on whatever floor session looks more interesting.

1:00 PM: Afternoon committees start! One set goes around 1-1:30, the next set starts 3:15/3:30. I usually give direction to the interns about where to go, and often will end up heading out to cover something myself. If I’m not covering something, I’m working on the calendar for the next several days and checking what new hearings have been scheduled that our clients are interested in.

2:30 PM: Third and final coffee of the day.

5:30ish PM: On a “normal” day, things let up around 5 or 5:30, so it’s time to pack up and go. But sometimes there are long committee meetings, or late subcommittees, or extra floor, so it can be 7 or 8 or later before we get to go home. If it’s going to be much past 8:30 or so when things get done, I may stay down in Carson City with a friend I have who’s a legislative staffer and has an extra room. No sense in hauling all the way back up to Reno if I’m just going to get home in time to pass out and then head right back down in the morning.

10:00 PM: Get ready to go to bed and read for 20-30 minutes before turning in.

Since my state has a 120-day session every other year (unless, of course, there’s a special session), this only lasts for four months. Those four months are long and grueling, but the off-season is a normal 8:30AM-5:00PM style office job. Session is exciting, and actually pretty fun, but at this point, I’m definitely looking forward to a regular schedule again!

I Cooked: Italian Rice and Beans

Red beans and rice is a traditionally Creole (and Latin American) dish, but it’s not super vegetarian friendly (it traditionally includes meat broth). So when I found a version that was vegetarian AND included my favorite Italian flavors? Sold, and sold!

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2 Cups Brown Rice, cooked
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, sliced julienne style
4 oz Baby Spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tablespoon Italian herb mix
Lemon/lime juice
1.5 tablespoons of olive oil

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1) Prepare the brown rice according to the package instructions.

2) Heat olive oil to medium hear in a large skillet or pot. Once heated, add sun-dried tomatoes, onion, minced garlic and Italian herbs. Cook for about five minutes. It’s okay if the tomatoes get a little charred.

2) Add drained beans and balsamic vinegar to pan. Season with salt and add a squirt of lemon/lime juice

3) Add spinach and allow to wilt for a minute or two.

4) Add cooked brown rice to the pan. Continue to stir to combine all ingredients until the spinach is completely wilted and incorporated.

5) Season with another squirt of lemon juice and salt as desired. Serve and enjoy!

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This is definitely going to become a weeknight staple…it was super quick, super easy, and pretty darn good! I ate quite a bit on the night I made it and then hoovered up the rest the next day as leftovers. It’s a little on the bland side, honestly, but that’s never been a particular bother to me (I’ve got boring taste buds and I’m totally okay with that). I’d bet this would take well to some spicing up if you wanted to play with it!

I Ate: Louis’ Basque Corner

I’d heard of Basque people before I moved to Nevada, of course. But all I knew about them was that they came from a mountain-y area between France and Spain and spoke a language totally unrelated to any other language in the entire world. Nevada, especially northern and rural Nevada, has one of the largest Basque populations in the country. You see last names like Goicoechea, Laxalt, Erquiaga, that you don’t see other places. You also have Basque restaurants, which aren’t a thing in a lot of other places. So when Kailey and Crystal came out to visit, I knew I wanted to take them out for Basque food. And when I think Basque food in Reno, I think Louis’ Basque Corner.

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First thing we had to do was get them a drink I knew they’d never seen before: a Picon Punch. It’s made with orange bitters called Picon, and besides that is basically a tiny Long Island Ice Tea, because they dump a bunch of other booze in there. It’s a distinctive taste, and I surprisingly enough like it as long as I keep it to one. That keeps it from getting too bitter for me and me from getting too drunk, because they are strong.

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Louis’ serves food family-style, so you end up with other people in those chairs at your table. It’s a seven-course meal, and dishes besides the main course are served communally. I’m going to be honest: as much as I like the idea of and some things about Louis’, it’ll never be a favorite of mine because Basque food is very meat-heavy, and there’s some unusual meats. When I went here with my mom when she came out to visit me, she had oxtail soup. Drew’s tried a few bites of cow tongue before. But there is nothing for the veggies. Besides salad and french fries. I like to take people here because I think it will be fun for them, but it’s not fun for me. Other people always seem to enjoy it, so I’m going to go ahead and assume the food is good.

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Service is good, waiters always bring me extra salad and fries when they find out I’m a vegetarian. It’s definitely a place you feel relaxed and comfortable in…it has kind of a kitschy vibe, but in an honest way, not a pretentious hipster way.

Louis’ Basque Corner is located at 301 East 4th Street in Reno, NV, in the downtown Reno area. Parking is street only, but it’s pretty easy to find unless the Aces are playing, in which case it can be a struggle. Dinner is about $25-30, which is totally reasonable if you’re eating all seven courses. Recommended for non-vegetarians only.

20 Things I Learned In My 20s: Be Nice. To Others And Yourself.

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When you’re a teenager (at least, when I was a teenager), there’s this enormous emphasis on being “real”. One of the worst insults one teen can lob at another is that they’re “fake”. What does being “fake” consist of? Being kind to someone you don’t necessarily like. Pretending you’re interested in a story someone else is telling you that you’re actually not interested in. Not saying anything critical you might think to someone’s face. In other words, being nice. No wonder teenagers are so trying to deal with.

I always prided myself on my “honesty” when I was younger. What I eventually figured out was that what I construed as honesty was often unwarranted harshness and a lack of sympathy. I started to grow out of it in college, just through simple growing up. I was forced to confront people and situations I’d never encountered before, and it made me start really thinking about how other people felt and how they experienced things, and that giving them the benefit of the doubt was usually the best course of action. And I really grew out of it in law school, because the art of having good manners is A Thing in the South. I don’t want to say that my mom didn’t teach us manners, because she tried (and I still write thank you notes), but the social pressure to be gracious had never been stronger and politeness as a default became the norm. By the time I started practicing law, I had gotten the hang of being nice to other people pretty darn well.

The harder part of it, though, is figuring out how to be nice to yourself. We visit so many little cruelties on ourselves that we wouldn’t dream of inflicting on others. We nitpick not only our size, but every little flaw on our bodies. We rake ourselves ourselves over the coals for mistakes that we would shrug off and excuse for other people, because everyone makes mistakes. We put up with treatment from people we love that we’d tell our friends that they were better than having to deal with. It’s hard to treat yourself the way you’d treat someone you love: with acceptance and encouragement rather than criticism and scolding. But try it sometime. Let yourself make a mistake and just apologize, say you’ll do better next time, and distract yourself anytime you start to relive it and give yourself a hard time about it. Have a little dance party to your favorite music, just for ten minutes, just because it feels good and it’s fun. Give yourself food that’s tasty and healthy, but let yourself indulge in moderation without beating yourself up. Sometimes you just deserve a cookie or two after a hard day. Look in the mirror in the morning and tell yourself you look good and try to mean it. If makeup makes you feel good, wear it. We can always be better, but love yourself the way you are right now. You’re good enough. So am I.

I Cooked: Easy Lentil Soup

I was introduced to lentil soup by my college boyfriend, Sean. He loved it, and once I tried it, I loved it too! Since I quite often buy and eat the Progresso version, I wanted to try making some of it myself. So when I found this recipe for easy lentil soup, it seemed perfect!

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1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped to your liking
1 tablespoon of curry power
1 cup of dry lentils
2 cups veggie broth
1 cup of water
1 can diced tomatoes

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1. Heat olive oil in medium-sized pot, add the chopped onions with a teeny bit of salt (this draws water from the onion and stops them from burning)

2. After the onions are soft (about 5 or so minutes) pour in the lentils and the curry powder, stir them together well and cook them till the curry powder is fragrant.

3. Pour in the tomato and broth, stir and bring to a boil. Leave boiling for about 10 minutes and then turn down to a medium to low heat (remember to stir!)

4. Leave it on the stove, simmering, for about 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils have cooked and the liquid is somewhat evaporated. Serve and enjoy!

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This wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. Which isn’t to say that it wasn’t good: it was. It was very tasty and I polished off the leftovers in one sitting. But I was hoping for something more along the lines of the Progresso version: this was more a stew than a soup, and the lentils were a little chewy yet. But it was legitimately easy (and inexpensive!) to make. So while this is definitely a recipe I’ll use again, my quest for the perfect lentil soup goes on!

I Saw: March 2015

Only four movies this month: session is the worst.

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CITIZENFOUR: I knew this Best Documentary Oscar winner was about Edward Snowden, but I guess I didn’t realize how literal that was. This movie consists almost entirely of actual film from the first interviews Snowden gave to media outlets about the NSA program. Which is interesting, because it gives a sense of Snowden the person rather than just the figurehead of the guy who revealed the extent to which our government is monitoring us. But I guess I wish it got more into the actual information he released and put it into a bigger context.

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What If: I read several reviews of this that described it as a new “When Harry Met Sally”. Which isn’t fair, because even for a dedicated rom-com hater like me, that movie is awesome. This? This is cute, but saved from mediocrity almost entirely by the sweet chemistry of Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. There’s an extent to which all romantic comedies live or die on the chemistry between their leads, but this one definitely feels like if they were even the tiniest bit less charming and delightful, the whole thing would collapse in on itself. But charming and delightful they are, so this is a cute little movie for when you’re in the mood for something frothy and fun.

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Lust for Life: Vincent van Gogh’s life was super interesting! A failed attempt to join the clergy! Being in the midst of some of the greatest artists in the world! Obvious mental health issues! But this was (excuse the pun for a movie about an artist) a totally paint-by-numbers biopic. Kirk Douglas infuses van Gogh with nothing especially exciting, and Anthony Quinn’s Oscar-winning turn as Gaugin is just a complete meh. Disappointing, because it could have been better.

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Going Clear: Scientology is a messed up thing. I’m usually on the “if they’re not hurting me, I don’t care what they believe” sort of mindset, but Scientology appears to genuinely hurt its members. Not the rich and famous ones. The other ones. With less influence. Fun fact: I actually used to read much of the information in this documentary when I read the National Enquirer for fun in high school.

Birchbox: March 2015

This was better than last month’s box, because there was only one thing in here that was egregiously wrong for me (I have oily/combination skin, not dry/very dry skin!). But still not great.

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Whish Three Whishs Body Butter: While I did like the feel of the lotion (rich, but not greasy), I hated the lavender scent. I don’t know if it was cheap scent, but it smelled like bug spray, honestly, when I put it on. Yucky.

Mirenesse Glossy Kiss: I got the Tarte lip crayon in one of my very first Birchboxes, and it’s become a favorite product of mine, so I was intrigued to try this similar product. I think my opinion was tainted by the color, which was just wrong for my complexion. The product was also very difficult to remove when I decided I wanted to take it off, so it has staying power!

amika Bombshell Blowout Spray: This was my sample choice, and I really like it! Since my favorite hair stuff is discontinued and getting more expensive every time I buy it, I’ve been looking for a new hair stuff. My usual hair routine is to put on Frizz-Ease, let my hair air dry a bit, put on my shine spray, and then blow dry. This time, I put on the Blowout Spray, let my hair air dry, did a second round of Blowout Spray, then blew dry. It looks the same as it normally does: not weighed down, but smooth and silky. I’m a fan!

Etat Libre d’Orange Like This: This, first of all, came in one of those tubes without a spray top, which I super hate when it comes to perfume. I always spill. Once I got it on, though, it’s…not bad. It’s a “mature” scent, to my nose: heavy, complex. Not for me.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Moisture Renewal Oil Booster: This was the head-scratcher in this month’s box for me. My skin is combo/oily, and this is specifically denoted for dry or very dry skin. However, I do live in a dry climate, so I do have some areas of my face (my cheeks), that do get a little dry. I’ve been putting a very small amount, like two drops, on my fingertips and applying it to my cheeks and have noticed no difference either for the better or worse, so this just didn’t do anything at all for me.