Let’s light it up until our hearts catch fire

- David Guetta, Lovers On the Sun

Since I had no motivation to even start this semester, you can imagine my motivation to finish. Fortunately, the end of this semester was nowhere near as bad as the first one, but it was exhausting nonetheless. I was literally crying on the bathroom floor last night wondering how I was going to finish everything.

Anyways, I submitted my last paper yesterday, and today I’m off to Coachella. Although there’s so much to look forward to, everything comes second to the music. I’m not crazy about this year’s main headliners, but the undercard is pretty solid. I’m most excited to see Florence + the Machine. I think my heart will beat out of my chest when I hear the drumming in Cosmic Love. I’m also excited to share this experience with friends. Needless to say, it’s going to be a glorious weekend with the usual suspects. We’re also staying in LA for extra couple of days to visit family on both sides, so I’ll be back in a week to report on all the festivities.

C.

Poster Child

Wilfred Free sweater & jeans; Coach bag; Vince boots

Speaking of romance, Jon sold his iPhone 6 Plus to our good friend, Derek, and bought the iPhone 6. This way I get the phone I want once he upgrades because I get all his hand-me-down iPhones. Jon really likes the Plus, but it’s just a little too big for my small hands. While others may not find this very sweet at all, it’s actually Jon’s way of showing me his love, which is so him.

Jon doesn’t blog consistently, but when he does, his posts are so much fun to read. He’s got a very distinct voice, which I think is the essence of good writing. Over the years, my voice has evolved through this blog, and it has unknowingly helped me to develop my academic voice. Academic writing has changed so much since I was last in school. These days, writers are expected to blend their unique, personal voice with academic material. It’s easy to write with a passive, unbiased voice, but to write in a way that makes the topic come alive is the real test of grad school.

Back to my original point, you guys should check out Jon’s recent posts on Trello and Machu Picchu. Occasionally, I browse through his Old Digital Soapbox, and it seriously makes me laugh out loud. He’s got a wicked sense of humour that sometimes actually gets him out of trouble when we fight. I heart him so much.

My program breaks for spring, but then I have to take summer courses in July and August. Since I’m short some psych credits for registration after I graduate, I will be taking two more undergraduate courses in May and June. This means I have no summer. Nonetheless, there is a lot to look forward to.

We’ve been seeing the geese in pairs lately, which leads me to believe it’s mating season. I can’t wait to see this year’s goslings. Anyways, it’s down to the last two weeks of school, so this will be my last post for awhile. Try not to miss me.

C.

Langevin Bridge; Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre

You and me could write a bad romance

Back in September, Jon and I celebrated my birthday at Market. Even though the restaurant was mostly empty (because who goes out for a fancy dinner on Monday night) we got to eat outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Afterwards, I went to a ballet class, and then came home and did school work. It felt like a regular day except I was a year older.

As sweet and thoughtful as Jon sometimes is, he’s definitely not one to plan a surprise -insert special occasion-, and I honestly don’t expect him too. I don’t hate cliché romance, but I hate when a man does something “romantic” because he’s told to do so. Jon would never think to buy me a bouquet of flowers or make dinner reservations unless I tell him to, and since I don’t care to, I buy myself flowers and plan my own birthdays.

He’s not big on grand romantic gestures that you would see in the movies. He will, however, put a lot of time and care into buying me the best electronics, like a laptop or headphones. He will also unexpectedly write a sweet blog post about me when I’m in the thick of writing term papers because he thinks it would cheer me up. At the heart, he is an everyday romantic and that’s why I love him. To me, romance is about keeping it real. Doing things because it means something to you and the person you’re with. Not because you saw it in some romantic comedy or because your partner hinted it at you.

Don’t get me wrong; I think romance is beautiful and we could always use more of it. But I don’t think it should be fabricated or done out of expectation otherwise it defeats the purpose. Romance should come from the heart. That said, don’t wait on someone (or a special occasion) to make you feel special. You can always buy yourself chocolate. ;)

C.

No more counting dollars, we’ll be counting stars


ASOS jacket; J Brand jeggings; Wilfred scarf; Babaton beanie; L.L.Bean bag; Converse shoes

2014 was a year of major financial changes. First, Jon took a paycut to work at Telus, followed by me quitting my job and being unemployed for four months. There were grand expenses like Europe and grad school, and there were a lot of cost cutting measures, which I’d like to share more with you guys.

We paid for Europe in cash with the money we saved for about a year. That money could have been used to carry us through my unemployment phase, but that’s neither here nor there. My first year of grad school is also paid for with my RRSP (thanks to the Lifelong Learning Plan) and moving forward, we’re hoping to pay for the rest of my program in cash. I don’t know how, but that’s the hope because I really don’t want to take out another student loan.

Because Jon is making less and my salary is cut in half, we had to find ways to reduce our spending. As such, I started taking transit, and since Jon is able to walk/bike to work, we decided to get rid of one of our cars. This saves us money on car insurance, registration, maintenance, and gas. Alternatively, Jon will take car2go if I have the car and he needs to go somewhere.

Jon’s discount with Telus saves us a lot of money on our phone and internet bill. We got rid of our storage unit, which was costing us $109/month. We cancelled our gym and yoga memberships. Our monthly bank fee is now $4 instead of $14 thanks to my student discount. I’m also not making any student loan repayments since I’m back in school full-time. Yes, I still have student loans from my undergrad degree because my parents didn’t pay for my education and I lived away from home. I also could have put more towards my student loans if we didn’t have a lavish wedding that we paid for ourselves, but no regrets there.

Anyways, we reduced our monthly spending by almost $1000. Crazy, right? We’re spending less on gas, phone, and internet. We’re also tithing less because we’re making less, but still tithing 10%. There are no student loan repayments. However, rent, electricity, groceries, various subscriptions, and annual expenses remain the same. While it’s tough to do any saving with what little money we make, we do try and set aside some money for things like retirement, trips, and gifts, e.g. Vietnamese New Year, weddings, birthdays. But for the most part, we’re breaking even with our current cash flow and monthly/annual expenses.

It’s been a huge lifestyle change, but I’m proud of us for reducing our expenses in order to live within our means as much as possible. We may not make a lot of money yet we still feel incredibly rich and happy with what we have.

C.

Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in

- John Mayer, Stop This Train

Wilfred Free sweater; TNA leggings; Coach bag; Converse shoes

When I applied for grad school, my three year plan was to continue working full-time at my previous job while going to school part-time so that our income would remain the same and we could continue to pay for life as per usual. Instead, I quit my job before even starting school, and then school turned out to be a lot more demanding than I anticipated. As such, I settled for a desk job that pays HALF of what I was making before.

The decrease in salary has been tough on our finances (will elaborate more in my next post), but even more so on my ego. I hate not getting paid what I’m worth. That being said, I recently interviewed for a job and although it pays double what I’m making now, I decided to turn it down simply because it would not accommodate my school schedule and, looking ahead, my summer plans. It sucks, but I feel at peace with the decision.

Even though it didn’t work out, I’m glad I tried because not trying is what you keeps you wondering and ultimately unhappy. The experience reinforced that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. It’s not perfect, but all things considered, I have it pretty good where I am. Some days I feel stressed and annoyed, but most days, all I do is school work, which was my primary reason for taking this job in the first place.

We all have to make compromises. For some students, they’ve had to cut down to one course a semester while working full-time, thus extending their program to six years. Those who work full-time while taking two courses are crazy, and I don’t know how they do it. For me, I had to compromise income by taking an easy job so that I can still have balance in my life while taking two courses in order to finish in three years.

Anyways, Stop This Train always brings me back to second year, and it’s a reminder that life is constantly moving. Sometimes we’re meant to move with it. Other times, we’re meant to stay exactly where we are. My heart at 19 wanted to be in a million different places, and this song was what anchored me to stay put and finish my degree. The lyrics still resonates with me today.

C.