Sunday, January 12, 2014

Oh the Times, They are a Changing

I feel like I'm on the cusp of new beginnings. Big things are happening, not just for myself, but mainly for people around me, putting the ball in motion for my future too. One of my roommates graduated in December, and after three intense interviews, has a real "big girl" job, making more money than I ever imagined straight out of college. I'm really excited for her, and since we're in the same field, I've now set the bar a little higher for myself as well. The sad part though, is she's moving out today--four months early--to take the job. Luckily, a mutual friend of our other roommate is moving in, so it won't be too lonely, but she will be missed. In other big news, the love of my life is starting college for the first time in just about a week! He's about seven months older than me; we graduated high school together, but he always disliked school and structured learning. After he graduated he continued to work on my parent's farm, basically as the main help they had in keeping the farm afloat. He stuck around through my dad's broken ankle and hip replacement surgery, working overtime and underpaid in our most trying times. From his experiences on the farm, he's realized that there's a lot more to learn about agriculture and farm animals, so he's decided to go to a state agriculture college to get an associate's degree. I'm so proud of him, and happy that he didn't just rush into something because "you're supposed to go to college." He worked, and he waited until he knew what he wanted to learn before he went back to school, something most people are afraid of doing. While I'd support him anywhere he wanted to go, we're pretty fortunate that this school is only about an hour away from my apartment, and the bus route comes to my city on the weekends. I'm excited :).
Tom and me, Brewery Ommegang this November for his birthday.
His birthday was actually one of the best plans I've had in a while. I left him completely in the dark about what we were doing, only telling him I had "something" planned. Meanwhile, I packed his Northface backpack with a change of clothes and anything I thought he'd need, and put it in my car the night before. Our secret destination was a place called Little Falls, NY, to have dinner at a castle. Along the way, I planned for us to stop in Cooperstown to get a tour and tasting at Brewery Ommegang, the maker of one of our favorite beers that we share, the Witte. If you're ever in the Cooperstown area, I highly recommend paying them a visit. The atmosphere is so laid back there, with picnic tables and plenty of land you're allowed to roam freely. They have a really nice restaurant inside, with humongous wooden tables that you share with strangers. Trust me, it's cool. The tasting itself was a lot of fun too. They set out pretzels and different spreads to pair with the beer for enhanced flavor. I managed to snap a picture of my Witte sample amidst the chaos. The glass looks a lot bigger than it really was, it's actually about the size of a shooter shot glass.
 After saying farewell to the brewery, we headed to Little Falls to check into our hotel. I had found us a place that used to be an old stone mill, right on the Erie Canal. The hosts there were wonderful, which reminds me, I should probably head to Yelp! or TripAdvisor and give these places some good reviews. Dinner at Beardslee Castle was to die for. First of all, it's in a castle. Built in 1860 as a replica of an Irish castle, they serve dinner and also are available for weddings and special events. In my online reservation, I had mentioned the birthday and asked to be seated somewhere quiet. They followed through and placed us in one of the more intimate rooms with only two or three tables, next to a grand piano. We had the room to ourselves the entire time, it was incredible. The only drawback was that Tom wasn't feeling 100%, his stomach had started bothering him before we started eating and he wasn't able to finish his meal. We boxed the leftovers up and enjoyed them later with a movie in our suite, which was honestly just as enjoyable.
Photo from their website. It was too dark during dinner for me to get a great shot.
A couple of big(ish) things are happening for me as well. I'm starting an internship in content and branding with a local agency that I've always wanted to work with, and I'm also getting ready for the maple sugaring season that's quickly approaching. It's been a 60+ year tradition in my family, and last year was the only year we had to "take off" from syrup. My dad had hip replacement surgery, and my mom had a stroke all within months of each other. Once it gets going, I plan on writing about our operation and how it all works, so stay tuned. I've always been a part of it, but this year I want to make an active effort to learn about it inside and out. I love everything about it. I love venturing out into the woods to tap the trees, sitting in the sugarhouse with the aroma of sap boiling down to syrup, and I love that we do it all ourselves.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to become bilingual in Spanish. This is probably the toughest one I set for myself, but it'll be well worth it in the end. I bought the Rosetta Stone program to get myself practiced before I travel to Valencia in the summer (if all goes according to plan.) My hope is that the software will lay the groundwork and jog my memory of high school Spanish, and then my time abroad will help it to actually sink in and let me achieve some level of fluency, even if it isn't perfect.

Another goal I have, a much more boring one, is to establish good credit. I've used a debit card with my student checking account for years: I pay rent, National Grid, and for all of my own gas and groceries, but I haven't built any credit. Do any of you have tips on this? I'm thinking of applying for some type of student credit card, and doing my own research into it, but I'm happy to hear any advice you might have. I'm pretty responsible with what little money I have, but I know I'll be needing credit once I graduate.

It's so strange to be growing up this fast.


Nicole Linette said...

Olivia, these are some sweet updates! You are the most wonderful girlfriend and even though Tom didn't feel well, NICE JOB on the brewery & dinner plans. I've actually never been to that brewery, so I'll nag my parents and friends if we're heading that way this summer.
Congratulations to you and everyone you love that are making moves in the right direction. Your time in Valencia this summer is going to be fantastic.
I'm also so impressed at how financially independent you've been. I opened a credit card with Discover because they have good interest rates for students and now a cash back rewards program with Amazon (although it's pretty small). Maybe you can look into that? Otherwise I'm a total fool when it comes to finances. I feel like this year especially, I've put myself in a mental game of "Let's see if Nicole can really come out of college with any money in her account." Eeps!


Allison said...

Ah, that's so exciting for your friend (though losing a roommate to distance is always bittersweet). I'm also so excited for Tom and his decision to head to college. Edwin is NOT a college person and didn't stick it out, and I see that it has really limited his options for working, which is unfortunate. I'm sending him so many good vibes and I feel that if he finds what he loves, he'll go so far! :)
Ahhh, I LOVE Ommegang, but haven't been to the brewery yet! I need to be a good girlfriend and plan a tour or something like what you did - that whole weekend is absolutely fantastic. You're so thoughtful and wonderful!