Number TWO in 10 to 10! Looking back on my first ten years in Pittsburgh

I moved to Pittsburgh in 2010 at age 17 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. I still think of myself as a “California Girl” but it’s crazy to think that I’ll soon be approaching the day when I have lived longer in the ‘burgh than I did in CA. I never got to know my hometown the way I know Pittsburgh, because just when I was getting old enough to be a little independent, I up and moved cross-country. But wow, these years have flown by.

Decade in Review

January 1, 2010
I haven’t had any time to do any resolutions or reminiscing or anything.  I got back from Vegas on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were CRAZYCRAZY catch-up at work, Thursday was also crazy catch up except I was VERY sick. I would have stayed home, except my boss is leaving for vacation on Monday and he said he HAD to talk to me about 2 cases on the January trial list, and that can’t wait until he gets back.  Of course he made me wait until 1pm to talk to me (when I was hoping we could talk first thing in the am and then I could go home).  I finally ended up getting home around 4ish and crashed.  I had to miss a fun fancy NYE dinner that Mike and I were going to attend with Sandy and Ben.  I am very sad about that.

I am not sad about missing the party with Mike’s parents.  I was planning on faking sick so I didn’t have to go to the party, and then of course, I actually get sick.  Serves me right I suppose.  Except Mike called his parents and said “We can’t go, Elizabeth’s sick” and they said they want us to get together with them for dinner this weekend. NO. I need a BREAK from them. I just spent 5 straight days with them, I need a couple weeks’ space. Geez.

Ok, on to the reminiscing:

I graduated Lancaster HS in Lancaster, CA, and moved across the country to attend the University of Pittsburgh. I wanted OUT of California, and was SO impatient to graduate.  I left behind a lot of friends, although only 1 of them (Jenny) has remained friends with me (I reached out to others a few times, but they never responded).  I met Christine on the first day I moved in to my dorm. My weight ballooned in the first semester of college, I was eating a ton, drinking a lot of beer, and even though there were gyms all over campus, I was hardly exercising at all.

I began working in the campus computer labs, where I would keep working through the rest of college and even during my first semester of law school.  It was very tedious but not a bad job, and I made a lot of good friends there, including Annette and Nicole.  I started dating Justin, although in retrospect we didn’t have much in common, so I don’t know why we were even attracted to one another to begin with. Around this time, I realized that majoring in chemistry probably wouldn’t pan out because organic chemistry made me MISERABLE, it was so boring.

Around this time I decided to major in German. I didn’t think this one through, I just realized that I liked my German classes well enough, so why not.  I moved off-campus into my own apartment this year.  It was kind of a dumpy studio apartment, but it was what I could afford.  Living in an apartment on my own really wasn’t much of a transition for me, because I was more or less independent as soon as I moved to Pittsburgh, because all my family was in California. Justin and I were still dating. Our relationship wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. We didn’t have any reason to break up, so we didn’t.  It just kept dragging on.  I was still in the dumpy studio apartment.

I think this was the year I was promoted to Site Assistant in the labs (like an assistant manager position).  I did things like scheduling, etc, basic managerial duties, but I worried SO much that I’d mess things up or get myself in trouble.  I started having dizzy spells and blurry vision.  I had to go to the Ear Nose & Throat Institute at UPMC, and it turned out this was all caused by stress.  This is when I learned that I am not good at managing stress.

I think this was the summer I studied abroad in Germany. The classes themselves weren’t super hard, but I made a lot of friends from all over the world, and really learned to travel.  I was terrified of public transit before (although I had adapted to using it in Pittsburgh), in Germany I had no choice but to use public transit all the time.  I conquered that anxiety, which I am very proud of.  I also got to see SO much when I was abroad, and I learned that international travel can be relatively inexpensive and accessible, as long as you plan it right.  When I was in Germany, I started running.  I remember the first time I could run for 20 minutes without having to walk. I was so proud, and I began losing some weight.

This was also the year that Justin and I decided to move in together.  While I was in Germany, he and his dad moved all my stuff into a dumpy basement level 1 bedroom in the same building.  Justin’s dream was to go to law school, so I decided to take the LSAT with him. I didn’t think much about it, except I don’t like to do things half-assed.  I actually studied, while he did not.  I got a good score, while he did not. Around Thanksgiving, I applied to 3 law schools: Pitt, Temple, and Georgetown.  I got acceptance letters to Pitt and Temple just before Christmas.  I decided to go to Pitt, in part foolishly thinking that Justin and I would get married, so I needed to stay close by.  I don’t know why I thought that, because we were starting to fight a lot, and generally didn’t like each other much.

In January, I started this LJ.

I graduated college, which was a huge and exciting experience for me, in part because it was the first time my Dad ever came to see me in Pittsburgh.  I had spent the last 4 years shuttling back and forth as best I could between Pittsburgh and California (to see my mom) and Oregon (to see my Dad).  He had been promising to come visit the whole time I was in college, but he never did.  He almost didn’t come to my graduation, because he couldn’t find a flight/hotel package he liked.  He did make it, though, and I was very happy.  My mom was also there, but she had come to Pittsburgh many times, and there was no question that she’d make it.

Justin and I broke up over the summer. We were fighting constantly by this point.  I went through a period where I was very angry at myself for having wasted all my time in college with him, and angry at my self for staying in Pittsburgh (in part) because of him. This began a period of me quasi-dating a bunch of guys who were really terrible for me. I suppose I was trying to live it up for all those college years I wasted.  I was lonely and wanted to be close to my family, except my family wasn’t all in LA anymore, they were scattered around the west coast.  There wasn’t a “home” to go back to. I was still living in the awful apartment Justin and I shared, which was a constant reminder of my anger.

I started law school and met Sandy on the very first day! I spent the first semester or so jumping from group to group of people, trying to figure out who the “right” friends were for me.  I did this same thing in high school, and I have no idea why, because by the end of high school I just felt like i more or less knew everyone, but wasn’t close with anyone.  I found a really good group of friends in law school, though, and we’re still friends now.

I got more and more into running, and ran my first 10k. On Thanksgiving, I decided (and announced to my family) that I would run the LA marathon in March.

In March I ran the LA marathon.  I was the most fit and at the lowest weight I’ve ever been in my adult life.  I also ran the Cleveland marathon in May.  I completely burned out on running, and I’ve hardly run at all since, although I’m very glad that I accomplished what I did.

Sandy and I took an awesome roadtrip to Memphis to see Graceland. My summer was spent in a bizarre chaos of simultaneously working 3 jobs (interning for a judge, interning in the DA’s office, research assistant for a professor ). I went gung-ho on the criminal law thing, and really wanted to be a DA. I loved everything about it.

In the summer of 2005, I moved into a terrible houseshare with two roommates who were, to put it mildly, not the right fit for me. That lasted 3 weeks.  My mom flew out to help me move out in secret. I found another (not crazy) roommate through craigslist which was luckily in a rowhouse only a couple weeks away.  I’m not good with having roommates, but the roommates I had in the rowhouse worked out pretty well. I stayed in that rowhouse until  Mike and I bought our house in 2007.

I met Mike at my birthday party in 2005 (we had mutual friends who had their birthdays around the same time, so we threw a combined birthday party).   I was somewhat seeing someone else at the time, but was attracted to Mike the second I met him.  He started reading this LJ, though, and we talked over AIM a lot (ha, AIM, i used to be on that CONSTANTLY, but I don’t think I’ve used it since like 2006).

The 2nd half of 2005 and first half of 2006 was perhaps the absolute busiest time for me during this decade.  I was very busy at law school, I was interning for the DA’s office, and I was working as a law clerk for a labor and employment law firm. Actually I think I may have started at that firm toward the end of 2005, but I’m not sure.The firm was a bad fit for me, and ended up scrambling for a job wherever I could find one.  I needed to work because I needed the money, so I wasn’t free to just quit.  I found a job posting seeking a law clerk at the firm where my Trial Advocacy Professor worked.  Apparently I made an impression on the teacher, because I later learned that as soon as she found out I had submitted my resume, she told the guys at my firm that they would hire me.

I began fretting big time over what I’d do for work after graduation, and in the 2nd half of the year I sent my resume to any place that would look at it.  My biggest fear was graduating and having no job.  I applied to jobs all around the country.  I applied to a lot of jobs in the criminal law arena, although after interning in the crimes persons unit (concerned with sex crimes), I was beginning to get burned out on criminal law.

In September, despite several months of not talking much, Mike and I reconnected.  In October we started dating. The first few months were simultaneously wonderful and scary.  Scary because I would be graduating in the spring and we didn’t know what would be happening with me work-wise, and by extension, with him and me. In November, Mike drove me out to Lancaster for an interview in a law clerk position.  He later told me that was a terrible experience for him, because he felt like he was driving me out there only to lose me.

In January, I ended up with 3 job offers: the law clerk position, the Philly DA’s office, and the small firm in Pittsburgh where I was clerking.  I went with the firm for a number of reasons.  I was a little sad that I would miss out on the excitement of Philly, but was happy I’d have Mike.  I was worried I was making the same mistake as before, that I’d be staying here for a guy only to have the relationship fall apart.  Luckily, that didn’t happen with Mike.

In May, we bought our house. I also graduated from law school that month, and we got our keys on graduation weekend.  After graduation, Mike and I brought our families to the new house for a champagne toast.

The first few months were spent on all kinds of rewiring and construction, conveniently when I was stuck studying for the bar exam.  The bar exam was a miserable experience, with plenty of dizzyness and blurry vision and stress and stress and stress.  My weight started to climb again, and continued to steadily do so over the next 2 years.  With all the stress of the bar, my new job, etc, eating healthfully was not a priority.

After the bar, Mike and I went on a Caribbean cruise and had SUCH a fun time.  When we came back, I had a week of “staycation” and then I started my new job with the firm.  It was exciting and terrifying at the same time.

We got our baby bird, Alida, that summer as well.

Mike proposed on Valentine’s day, at my office.
2008 was my first year of working full time and not being in school.  It was plagued by a lot of anxiety, but also a lot of accomplishments.  I had my first arbitration (I won), and my first trial (I won). I made myself crazy with wedding worries and work worries. Sandy and Ben got married, and she didn’t kill me as a result of my constant inane wedding chatter.

We didn’t have much money in 2008, and I was working at Kayak Pittsburgh (hauling kayaks) in the summer, then at the Mall at nights and on the weekends in the fall/winter, just so that I’d be able to afford paying my student loans.  Luckily in December my boss agreed to give me a raise, and while it’s not like I had lots of money after the raise, at least I could pay the bills.  We couldn’t afford to take much of a vacation that summer, so we went camping for a week, which turned into camping for a couple days, because it rained rained rained the whole time (and a tornado touched down in the park where we were staying).

Thanks to the raise in December 08, things were less financially dismal for us, and we were able to have a small wedding in the style we wanted, without going into debt. January through March were just insane with wedding preparations and family madness. In March, we had a beautiful wedding. We were lucky enough to be able to take an exciting Honeymoon, and went on a Mediterranean Cruise that visited Barcelona, Athens, Izmir (Turkey), Alexandria, Cairo, and Valetta (Malta).  What an amazing experience.

When I came back from the honeymoon, I realized that my weight had ballooned back to where it was in college, and decided it was time to take it very seriously.  I started using weight watchers in April, and lost 26 lbs through December (where I hit a plateau, which will be the subject of my resolutions…)

The theme for my year was “working hard”. I had become a lot more knowledgeable at work with regard to what I was doing, but there is still a lot more to learn.  I finally got into the swing of working cases up and trying to get them settled. I set a goal for myself in terms of what I needed to bring in, fees wise, and surpassed that goal significantly.  I had a fun summer, though.  Lots of social outings, nights out at the bar, all around a nice time.

We adopted Ricky-bird during the summer.  He seemed to like me at first, but now he only likes Mike.  He hisses at me when I come by.

During the fall I participated in a leadership class that helped me with my confidence at work, and with balancing work requirements and my outside “life” interests.

Also, I did not kill my family or inlaws on our trip to Las Vegas.  That is an accomplishment in and of itself.


Now, looking forward.

Before I set 2010 resolutions, I’d like to look back on my 2009 resolutions.
My resolutions were to lose weight, bring in the value of my salary in attorneys fees, and have fun at the wedding. Holy heck, I accomplished all of those.  That’s totally insane.

My goals for this coming year are to keep working hard at work, but to be more efficient about it.  I think I’ve reached the point where I can reasonably estimate how long tasks will take and can reasonably set a plan for how to handle a case, etc. I need to sharpen my time management skills and focus my efforts.

My other resolution/goal is to finish the cross stitch for Sandy’s baby before the baby actually comes…which is in a matter of weeks, not months, so that goal is going to be a stretch.  Now that I’m feeling less like death, I should be able to get some good stitching time in today.

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