Welcome to Adulthood

Our Engagement Year: On Sapphires, the Vow of the Wedding Website Boycott, and the Next Chapter of Adulthood

“Like you’re trying to fight gravity
on a planet that insists
that love is like falling
and falling is like this” – Ani Difranco

Hello my dear Adulthooders! I knew I was a hopeless romantic for a reason. Believing in Epic Love made my heart open and ready to find it. Low and behold, Epic Love wooosshhhheedd right in like a perfect warm breeze and swept me off my feet at the time in my life when I was most ready to embrace it in all its wonderful epic glory. Then my dear Epic Love proposed! And I squealed and said, ‘Of course!’

So now I have a lovely fiancée and a lovely sapphire engagement ring that was handmade by my dear friend Maura Green.  And I have learned a lot of lessons in the past few days of being engaged:

1) If you are going to have a sapphire engagement ring, you should be ready to have the following conversation with many confused, but mostly kind, friends and acquaintances:

What is that?

A sapphire.

But that isn’t really an engagement ring.

Yes, it really is an engagement ring.

(blankly) Oh. Did you want that?

Well, I wanted a wonderful partner and the ring is really just a little bauble compared to the prize that is my fiancée. But yes, I wanted a sapphire too and I love it. Princess Diana had one, as did Helen of Troy.

Oh, ok. Cool.


2) I am taking a vow, right here, in front of all of my dearest blog buddies, to never look at another wedding website (or wedding print magazine, for that matter) ever again.

You heard me right. No more wedding websites. This is just a choice I am making. There is nothing wrong with those websites, and more power to those who enjoy them and find inspiration from them. However, they are not for me. I am going to try to have the most authentically ‘Mara and David’ wedding I can have, and that means that I am not going to feel bad or less-than or not as cool or not as hip because I don’t have calligraphy on my [*] recycled-paper-from-vintage paper plate-Save the Dates, or because I can’t hire a really expensive photographer, or because I don’t have the money to buy chair covers.

[*] Not that I have a problem with anything recycled!

Along those same lines, my good friend Luke Williams once told me early on in my blogging career that my blog had more to offer than focusing too much on weddings. Since receiving that creative feedback, Welcome to Adulthood has been able to grow roots in a monumental way. Here, we explore issues affecting adulthood in so many parts of our life. And marriage and weddings and coupling is just ONE of those parts of our full life — not the whole part. To that end, I will continue to blog about all the varied and complicated and fun parts of adulthood, and maybe once in a while I will blog about lessons we are learning in [*]Our Engagement Year.

[*] Did I mention my fiancée is also a writer? I think I have convinced him to start a new side-blog called Our Engagement Year (inspired by Harvey Pekar’s Our Cancer Year.) He seemed excited about this new project! Stay tuned!

Anyway, needless to say that I am over the moon! Also, for some reason I feel more like an adult now than ever before. Maybe it is because when someone asks you to marry them it is possibly the most important question of your life, and when you answer that question in the affirmative the path of your life is forever changed — for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live….

I know our life together will be mostly for the better, mostly in health, and hopefully with a very long and happy life. And that feels amazing.

Welcome to Adulthood.


The Great Facebook Debate and the Community of Adulthood


As you know, Welcome to Adulthood loves its contributing writers! In fact, we love them so much that we are big fans of their work too!

Recently, I read an article posted on David Daedalus’s blog that was really engaging. It was one of those articles that you just can’t stop thinking about. Daedalus wrote that Facebook needs to be “out-Facebooked.” He noted that he didn’t want to see:

“Friends of yours started having babies and suddenly half of your newsfeed is pictures of  little Ethan or Tammy barfing pureed peas onto the shoulder of a proud hipster parent who you were roommates with senior year and don’t really have a connection with now. Former lovers and friends of former lovers are awkwardly still on your friends lists, pictures of you and your former paramours now have to be untagged lest your current squeeze see them and get wonky.”

Daedalus questions the connective value of Facebook when he says, “Social Networking isn’t about connecting with people, it’s about making yourself appear interesting so other people will want to connect with you.”

Ultimately (and of course he says it so much more eloquently and convincingly), he is positing that there is a better way to run a social networking site that fits your need for voyeurism and connection, that would be far less superficial in personal engagement and wouldn’t rely on tedious self-curation. Daedalus also acknowledges that Facebook has lost its edge – that somewhere in the clunky format changes and expanded social circles to your Aunt Emily, your parents, and your boss, Facebook has ceased to retain that exclusive mystique.

I guess I’m not as critical of Facebook. To me, what makes Facebook pretty great is that you can tailor it to your unique values. So, one person may not really care to see their college roommate’s child’s first steps – it adds no value to their life. But for me, watching College Roommate Sally’s Baby on my newsfeed adds significant value to my life, regardless if I regularly engage with Sally Roommate. It adds value because it appeals very strongly to my sense of community.

Facebook has fundamentally changed our notion of “community.” In the old days, the idea of community was “the village” that was uniquely within each of our worldviews. In the old days, you knew most people in the village, you knocked on doors, you had dinner or drinks with a person. People rarely left the village, people dated and married via the village network, and you spent much of your life tightly wrapped within village interactions. You didn’t need pictures of Sally Roommate’s Baby, because you lived down the street from her. You didn’t need to keep tabs on a former lover because you would unfortunately be doomed to see them at some point around the village (probably while you were WITH your “current  squeeze”, who still would “get wonky.”)

The world has become more sophisticated and, inevitably, our “villages” have expanded as a result. Facebook has expanded the village community so that you CAN keep in touch with Sally Roommate without having to do much work. (Sally Roommate represents the friends whom you think fondly of but probably wouldn’t have felt inspired to have kept in contact with over the years if the means of communication were only phone, mail, and even email.)

By virtue of mutually EXISTING on your Friends Page, you are connecting with Sally Roommate. By connecting with Sally Roommate you are adding value to your life (even if it just means you get to have a nice smile over morning coffee when you see another picture of her baby in a Lion costume. Smiling = value.) By adding value to your life, your community is vital to you and becomes a really successful support and social tool!

Community is only valuable because it is focused on connecting: whether you live in a village and have dinner with Aunt Emily and her neighbors’ every Sunday, or whether your Facebook wall is pasted with mostly-interesting things from mostly-interesting people who you, for the most part, are fond of….

Facebook may not have retained its coolness factor, but it has done something greater than it probably ever intended: it has forged a new conception of community. Because of Facebook I provided my former neighbor in Los Angeles with my best-ever blueberry muffin recipe for her baby shower. Because of Facebook my fond friends from high school can see pictures of my handsome boyfriend, and I can see pictures from their graduations from graduate school. Because of Facebook I finally have a face to put to the name of my elementary school pen pal. Because of Facebook I keep in touch with my sister fairly often. Because of Facebook, the girl I met once through a mutual friend wrote me a heartfelt email that brought tears to my eyes when I had posted a status that my beloved cat had died.

It takes a lot of support to create a happy life for yourself. It takes connecting and learning from others. It takes the kindness of strangers. It takes wise mentors.  It takes sharing and celebrating and sympathy and silliness.

It takes a village, or *352 friends on your Facebook.

*Insert your village census count here.


What do you think? What is Facebook’s value to you, if any? Are you ready to see the next social network “out-Facebook” Facebook? Is Facebook creating a village community, or merely overexposing us?

Weigh in Adulthooders!


Photo via Thos003 on Flickr.

Guest Blog: Fairytales and Fantasies

“Had I known then what I know now, I would have played less fantasy games like mermaids and house, and played more Monopoly and pushed myself to learn Sudoku.”



Fairytales and Fantasies

By Brooke (currently) Tarkington (en route to) Stamper

It’s funny how, as little girls, we have already mapped out every detail of our lives. From the flowers and dress at our weddings, to the names of our future children, to the type of house and career we will have. It never crosses our mind that these things just might not pan out for us.


I grew up believing I knew how every last detail of how my life would end up. I would daydream about the name of the man I would one day call my husband. I was obsessed at a very young age with every detail of the fairytale life I was bound for. Had I known then what I know now, I would have played less fantasy games like mermaids and house, and played more Monopoly and pushed myself to learn Sudoku.


After my fairytale wedding at age 26, my future children’s names picked out, house hunting, and making enough money to consider ourselves comfortable, I found that the tides can change very quickly.


I am a 28-year-old woman facing divorce and moving back in with my parents. It seems that in all of my careful planning, I forgot one thing: quality. The obsession with my fairytale blinded me to truth. The idea of being an adult, a wife, a mother, a partner shielded my eyes from the reality that I was living. I have a mediocre job, making just above poverty, which I seem to be addicted to. I am currently packing up my one bedroom apartment to move back into my parents’ “very large but with the least amount of privacy” home. I face the stigma attached to a 28-year-old divorcee, and even worse, the pain attached to it. I don’t want to use this as an open forum to bash my soon-to-be ex-husband, but I don’t think I could have picked a person less like me. Goals, mannerisms, ideas, abilities, functionality, family, intelligence — some of the most important things were overlooked in order to appease my appetite for the perfect life. The crazy thing is: I knew this. I KNEW when I married him that I was settling in order to achieve my fairytale. I thought that once I married him, eventually, we would live happily ever after. I mean, I’m a good person. I try to live honestly and kindly and genuinely. I deserved the happily ever after.


So, after years of adulthood, I am resorting back to childlike tendencies. Living with my parents, while they pay the mortgage and the utility bills, coming home to see my mom has cooked dinner, finding less and less of the world I was creating for myself. I should mention that I know that I am blessed to have parents who have taken me back in with open arms and have been a driving force in my emotional recovery. It seems that even when you’ve finally figured out how to be an adult, you realize how unequipped you are to deal with the realities of it.


Fantasies and fairytales are fabrications.


One day, in the future, when I have my own children, they are going to be able to read fairytales and fantasize about their future lives, but with mommy’s realism as a grounding force…….wait a second……”One day, in the future, when I have my own children…..”


It seems that I will never learn my lesson.


Dreaming of the future awakens and excites the soul. I know now to dream differently. I am not dreaming of a name or face of a man to share my life with. I am dreaming of attributes and qualities that complement my own. I am not fantasizing about the perfect career that makes me financially gainful. I am looking for one that makes my soul happy. I have seen the outcome of dreaming realistically, and it is more fulfilling than the fairytale I was pretending to live.


Dreaming like a grown-up is much different than dreaming like a child.


I prefer the grown-up dreams.



Photo by Raymond Brown via Flickr.

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Annoying (Sometimes)


Photo via Inha Leex Hale’s photostream via Flicker.


“To me, on this anniversary of September the 11th, what comes to mind is not that day, but what happened after.”


By David Daedalus


My name is David and I am a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. I was an active duty member from May 30th, 2001 until the same, 2005. As you, my clever reader, have no doubt already surmised, I was serving my country the day of September the 11th, 2001. I served during the formation of the Department of Homeland Security (of which the Coast Guard is now a component), the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the implementation of the Patriot Act. In addition to being attached to a cutter (what the Coast Guard calls their ships), I volunteered and was deployed to the middle east as part of USCG PATFORSWA (Patrol Forces Southwest Asia) unit 3950 where I spent time in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the North Arabian Gulf.


Today, on the tenth anniversary of the vile act of mass murder and destruction wrought by fucktard fundamentalists, the question I keep hearing is, ‘Where were you when…?” It’s all over the radio, all over the internet, on everyone’s minds. Stories about loved ones lost in the towers, brave first responders exhibiting more courage in that one day than most of us muster in the whole of our lives, and stories about United Flight 93. On the tenth anniversary of this horrific, inexcusable, malicious act of terror, I can’t help but reflect on where I was on September the 11th…2003.


Pier 36. Coast Guard base. Seattle, Washington. It is a quarter to midnight and I am relieving the security watch stationed on the pier at which my ship was moored. The moon is a fingernail etched into the sky and there is very little light across the water. Armed with an M16 and a sharp eye, I am tasked with protecting the ship from terrorist attack. For days prior, and with metronomic consistency, the command drilled into us the importance of standing a vigilant watch on the anniversary of 9/11; that we were in danger, and that the terrorists could be anywhere or anyone. The Coast Guard’s newest recruiting slogan rang true in my ear:




Specifically, I am keeping a watchful eye for divers. The thinking is that unless the crew is vigilant, a diver can easily approach the ship, attach an explosive, and slip away. If that were to happen, both my home and my sleeping shipmates would be lost in a vesuvian explosion of blood and fire. To some of you this may seem far fetched, but before you go thinking this is something ridiculous to worry about, remember that this is exactly the sort of attack that nearly sank USS Cole in 2000. Placing aside the fact that the Cole was moored in Yemen at the time and my ship was at home in Seattle, it’s only fair to point out that the command did have some justification for being concerned.


After two hours of marching up and down the long cement pier and trying to keep warm, I hear something in the water. Figuring it was either my imagination or something completely innocuous, I shuffle over to the end of the pier and look out into the inky black water. Even with my flashlight, it’s difficult to see too far away. Sleepy and bored, I am just about to turn away when my eye catches the barest hint of movement. I squint and look hard, bringing my flashlight to bear upon the phantom. Just as I shone the light upon it, I see it. A slick black form diving under the water towards the ship.


My heart instantly kicks into overdrive and thumps loudly like a kick drum in my ears. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. For a second I forget even to breathe. I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. I mean, HOLY FUCKING SHIT. THERE’S A TERRORIST DIVER IN THE WATER AND HE’S GOING TO BLOW UP MY SHIPMATES!


Adrenalin saturates my chilled body as with hands shaking I grab my radio to alert the quarterdeck watchstander (the person aboard my ship minding the gangway between the pier and the cutter) of the situation. At top speed, and now too scared to be cold, I bolt down the pier to get a better look. Frantic, I scan the water hoping to catch a glimpse of the intruder.






Again, I spy the black mass. It breaches the security perimeter separating the Puget Sound from the base and has changed course. It makes a beeline right for me, then goes under again.


Scared shitless, I draw my rifle. With an audible click, my thumb I disengages the safety, and I place my trembling index finger atop the trigger. I’d never even been in a grade school fist fight and now I was about to kill a human being. Military training barely restrains the instinct to freak out and just start shooting. I’m a sitting duck where I am, atop a pier under a tall floodlight, but there’s no choice. I have to protect my shipmates. I can’t just let this happen.




Nearly a full minute goes by when suddenly, right next to me, it breaches the surface of the water.


“U.S. COAST GUARD STOP OR I’LL SHOOT!” is nearly out of my mouth when I realize the terrorist is a baby sea lion. I shit you not, the cutest, wide-eyed, innocent fucking thing I’ve ever laid eyes on had seen me from afar and came over to play. I nearly blew its brains out of the back of its little head.


The world pauses for a split second and I see myself in the third person, and I don’t like what I see. I see myself standing there, terrified, pointing a gun at a harmless baby animal. I see that I’d become so afraid of the implausible, the probable never entered into my mind. As I engage the safety and lower my weapon, it hits me: I’m not ‘The Shield of Freedom’,


I’m a frightened idiot…with a gun.


Shame welling up in my boots, I alert the quarterdeck nothing is wrong and resume my watch. I’m in bed before dawn and with a worried mind and heavy heart I fall into a fitful slumber.


I think about that day often; about how swept up I was by the tsunami of hysterical fear, and what I nearly allowed that fear to drive me to do. To me, on this anniversary of September the 11th, what comes to mind is not that day, but what happened after. How we allowed fear to overwhelm us. How we started relating everything to terrorism and that horrible day, even when it made no sense to do so. How we turned on one another and gave up our fundamental freedoms for the illusion of safety. How we literally endeavored to make torture legal and acceptable because we were afraid. How we became a nation of frighted idiots…with guns.


9/11 was a horrific day, one for which there is no excuse, no mitigating explanation, and one that could no go unanswered. My aim is not one of a 9/11 apologist, but to point out part of adulthood is making choices, assessing the effectiveness of those choices, and using that information to make future decisions. When I think about that night, about those innocent eyes staring at the muzzle of my M16, I am ashamed of what I almost allowed fear to goad me into doing. While the memory is a painful one, it must be acknowledged and assessed honestly if I am sincere in my endeavor to use the lessons of the past to build a better tomorrow.


On September 12th, 2001, we had a choice to make. A gauntlet was thrown down challenging our resolve to uphold our American values of respecting the rule of law, respecting the inalienable rights of the individual to preserve a free society for all, and to act globally as a champion of justice. We had a choice to either fight for those values or abdicate them and simply fight. We chose the latter. On this, the tenth anniversary of that black day, I find myself not thinking about the day of, but what happened after, and how it’s not to late to do better, to be better, to be the America I know we can be:


The Shield of Freedom.





David Daedalus is a writer, a filmmaker, and a graduate student of Philosophy at San Diego State University.


[Photo courtesy of David Daedalus, pictured second from the right.]

Adulthood is Winning! Handmade Earring Give-Away!

Designs by Corinne

Handmade Jewelry


One of the great joys of being an adult is being able to hone your craft. Perhaps you play an instrument, you paint, you do photography, or you write. Adulthood is about celebrating the joys of your craft, and sharing your joy with others.

In the spirit of this idea, Welcome to Adulthood is announcing some very exciting news! The lovely and talented Corinne Burnett of DesignsbyCorinne is giving away one pair of her exquisite and fun handmade petal earrings!

I was introduced to Corinne’s work because I saw someone wearing a pair of her earrings. “I loveeeee your earrings!” I gushed. The woman’s earrings were bright yellow and the pop of color was striking and fitting for the perfect California summer day.  The woman graciously put me in touch with Corinne and I am now the proud owner of red earrings and Carolina blue ones. Literally, every single time I have worn these earrings I get at least 2-5 compliments.

What is most exciting about these earrings is that they are all handmade, one little petal at a time, from polymer clay.

My favorite pieces of jewelry are the ones that are handmade. Jewelry designers meticulously craft every detail and every piece is unique. Handmade jewelry is also my favorite because I believe that adulthood is very much about community. To that end, it is important to me to support local artisans, small businesses, and handmade products that I really like.

And I LOVE Corinne’s earrings.

Corinne has graciously agreed to give away one pair of her fabulous earrings to one lucky winner! The best part, you get to pick the color you want!

Here’s how you enter the contest:

1)      Your shipping address must be in the United States. (Sorry, my dear international readers! But you can still buy from Corinne’s Etsy site!)

2)      Visit Corinne’s Etsy page and check out her earrings.

3)      Leave a comment on Welcome to Adulthood about any of the following topics: say something wonderful about Corinne and her jewelry, say something interesting about handmade jewelry in general, or add your thoughts on the topic of Adulthood as Community. (To comment, click the “Read More” button below)

4)      To win, you must enter a valid email address on the comment form.

5)      Limit one entry per person.

6)      Contest ends Monday, September 12, at 12:00 p.m. PST.

7)      Winner will be selected at random using Random.org and will be contacted on  September 13 via email.

Good luck everyone!!

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Craft


Handmade rose earrings by Designs by Corinne. Love them!

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Regret

Delicious photo by Kimberlykv via Flickr.

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Complex


[Photo by Shonk via Flickr.]

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