My mom recently got a very sweet note from a relative I’ve never met. Second cousin once removed or something. I’m loosely quoting, “My mother always spoke so highly of you, when I was looking for a path to follow, and yours was the one I chose.”

And this woman did, to a certain extent, follow in my mother’s chosen career footsteps. She became a nurse and joined the army, worked in a hospital, and now I think, teaches. Just like my mommy.

I think there is something to be said for taking a well-established, well-worn path. My sister knew she wanted to be a teacher since she could conceive of a future. I’m not kidding. Most children play with dolls, trucks, but my sister brought a briefcase full of paper to school. Lined paper ledger pads. My sister taught me long division in her closet-shaped classroom. She rang a small golden bell to signal the start of the school day, she took my attendance, and gave me homework. She went to Smith, got a degree in Education. Now she’s is getting her Master’s while teaching 4th grade and she gift wraps young adult fiction that she buys with her pay check. She takes them on field trips to Sandy Hook and has succeeded, you know? Simply put, my sister has arrived at her career. Done. Best Teacher Ever.

I don’t really know how it works. I think some people consciously step onto a path—through an aunt they admired, or when they picked up a ledger pad at the age of five. But maybe you don’t realize some paths until you turn around. Look how I got here.

I guess I’m wondering how this all fits together, how it will fall into place. Baby steps up the corporate ladder. Tiny moves forward and small increments added to my bank balance. I’m wondering when I can recline in my comfy career couch and sip Mai Tais, figuratively speaking, and talk about how I got there.

This past Saturday my friend Margaret ’10 and I were enjoying cups of coffee and orange juice in her Brooklyn apartment. Margaret and I lived together over the summer– did some communal grocery shopping. We frequently got into debates in the toothpaste aisle over whether the $2 that separated CREST from the generic “America” brand really made THAT much of a difference in plaque-fighting, tartar control.

My friends from home used to call me Lauren Discount Kaelin, and I’ll admit, I was often arguing for the generic American Pride toothpaste, convinced I was being a wise consumer.

Margaret, in her new Brooklyn apartment, however, has chosen certain luxuries well.

The benefits of buying name brand orange juice, outweigh the dollar difference of “From Concentrate’s” watery pulp-less aftertaste.

 

What other purchases is it worth it to splurge on?

Orange Juice

Coffee–Chock Full of Whatever tastes like ash.

Toilet paper. Smith College does not splurge on toilet paper.

Alcohol, glass never plastic.

Others?

 

My advice? Save money on socks, and then spend it on orange juice.

 

Bon Appetit

November 18, 2010

God, part of me wishes I was in the Campus Center waiting for the unveiling of the towers of brie, the fountains of chocolate, and the triangles of pita.

Happy Julia Child Day! I’ll be in Chinatown.

I’m back from a quick sojourn in the Pioneer Valley. Not gonna lie, that was kind of rough and a little overwhelming. It’s hard to go back and see all those places and realize they aren’t really yours anymore.

But it was so beautiful.

Mums, mimosas, and my beautiful, beautiful house. New first years– the traditions continue and it feels so good to see that.

So, whether I’m qualified to give them or not. Here are my words of wisdom, advice for your remaining semesters, Smithies.

Wake up for breakfast. Go to class, but if you have to choose between getting sleep and reading a 45 page article on the Disneyfication of Urban Spaces– go to sleep. Audition for The Vagina Monologues. Go to the Summit House at Mt. Holyoke, the art museum, Salvation Army, and Goodwill. Get into trouble, but not TOO much trouble. Go out on weeknights. Go to a poetry reading. Celebrate, dance on tables, step outside your comfort zone. Write a strongly worded e-mail. Sit in the greenhouse and enjoy the fake bird sounds. Don’t get too stressed. Become friends with your professors. Thank your housekeeper. And above all, savor the time with your friends. After you graduate you’ll go to different places, different countries, and pursue your different dreams. So lie in bed on Saturday mornings and watch TV.

A special shout out to all those dancing, performing, shouting, and lighting a candle at Celebration tonight.

I’ve been doing this 9-5 thing for a few months now.

Sometimes it feels a little too conventional– all takin’ and no givin’. Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of social networks, texts from last night, and of course, my mother– my friend Sophia (UVM ’10) and I have decided on a business venture of sorts.

Announcing whenparentstext.com.

Have you ever received a text with too many abbreviations to decipher?

Or one signed “love, Dad”?

Or been texted a funeral announcement?

When you get a text from your parents do you have to guess what they were trying to say? Their valuable parental wisdom lost in translation?

Do you have a relationship with your parents that has been complicated by T-9 and large thumbs?

We would like to celebrate that.

This website is dedicated to the trials and errors that come when a parent handles a cellphone.

Here is a sample from the website– a conversation between me and my mom.

Mom: Tacos or meat loaf for dinner?

Daughter: Tacos

Mom: Bring your appetite. When will you be home?

Mom: Eta?

Mom: ???

Daughter: Can you pick me up at 6:45? My phone is going to die.

Mom: Walnut St?

Daughter: Yes

Mom: How many tacos?

Daughter: Might be more like 7.

Mom: Tacos?

Daughter: No, my train gets in then.

Daughter: Tacos? 2?

Mom: How many tacos?

Daughter: Mom, chill with the tacos.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

To submit your own texts from your parents, please e-mail whenparentstexts@gmail.com

Tweet, text, repost– spread the word.

 

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