Year In Review 2010: Life

It hasn’t been a very productive year for me in terms of blogging, but i’m pretty sure that’s one of the most obvious and overused statements in all of human existence. I have however read ten books, watched about 75 movies and listened to many new albums over the course of 2010. I’ve also gotten quite a lot done in terms of the upcoming wedding, but more about that later. Let’s take a blog moment to reflect on the year.

Last winter was actually a pretty content one for me. Having an SUV and big ol’ ear muffs and not paying too much attention to the bitchers all over Twitter kept me in really good spirits despite the crap that rained down on us for days on end. There was this day when i drove to work and everything was coated in a layer of frost and it was one of the prettiest things i think i’ve ever seen. Our downtown loft felt kinda like a warm cave—especially since we didn’t have to worry about paying for heating—and not having to shovel snow was a definite bonus. But the thin walls and high price eventually drove us to find a new place to stay.

In the spring we moved to our new house and i fell into a funk that lasted a couple of months. I had to stop paying attention to any and all news because hearing about the oil gushing mercilessly into the Gulf put a grimy layer of frosting on my not-so-happy cake. Luckily all of that junk passed and i had a very happy summer & fall planning the wedding details with Nathan and going to parties & shopping with my girls. My brother came to town for a couple of months and instilled in Nathan and me a humble appreciation for a really good IPA (i.e. beer). That was a very awesome way to spend the summer, if i do say so. We also took a trip to California to visit my dad’s family, including a handful of cousins who came to the U.S. from Belgium for three weeks to see the sights. It was a real treat to see them all again.

Come fall i’d been driving my stick-shift Honda almost every day for a year, and learning to drive it well taught me perseverance. I’ve gained a certain confidence that i might some day become good at other quotidian tasks, such as doing my hair, frying an egg or maintaining eye contact while speaking to people. When i lost my job in October, i was prepared to spend a couple of months doing very little and then go back to school to become a programmer, and i contemplated using my down time to practice playing guitar again. Okay—to be honest it was the hair thing that i was most looking forward to practicing, but—luckily i got a job as a web developer for August Home Publishing in November and was relieved of having to worry about what to do with my free time. ‘Cause when you work eight-to-five, you A. cook, B. clean up or C. watch movies when you aren’t at work. And on the weekends you sleep a lot and go out shopping/eating/hanging out with your friends. That’s just how it is. Well—for me, anyway.

My new job is awesome, and a major part of that may be that it’s just awesome to have a job. I was really lucky to get another job so quickly, and honestly if it wasn’t for the connections i’ve made via Twitter it wouldn’t have happened and i probably would’ve had to buy myself a new set of textbooks for Christmas. Thankfully, i have an income instead and i’m spending too much money on holiday steals and insurance premiums instead. The people i work with are awesome. The work i do can be challenging (which is great) and frustrating (which is not so great) at times, but it’s not a bad gig at all. The websites i work on have a LOT of potential, and i say that in the most loving possible way.

I’ve started working out again, thanks to the free gym access i get through work. And no, i’m not trying to lose weight for the wedding; i’m just fearful that with osteoporosis & heart disease running rampant in my family i’ll probably end up pretty miserable down the road if i don’t start taking preventative measures now. I’m getting married; that means i need to take care of myself, right? So i jog for 20 minutes twice a week and i’m going to work on finding ways to increase that and/or supplement it with some sort of weight-bearing exercise. I’m really afraid of building muscle, though. Especially in my legs. They tend to get muscular and i really don’t want them to be any bigger. But enough whining—i can already see the comments i’m going to get in response to that tangent.

I don’t really know how to segue into this topic, but a couple of people i knew from high school died this year and it’s been a really strange experience for me. The first was Tiffany Robb who frankly gave me more of a hard time in school than anyone else i can think of. She was my cheerleading captain freshman year and she was a big reason that i only lasted two seasons with it. When i heard that she had died i was creeped out by how little sadness i felt. But then i heard that she had been shot, and i just felt so angry knowing that her life had been stolen from her at such a young age. Whatever happened between the two of us back in high school is of so little significance compared to the fact that she’s been forcibly removed from the earth. It got me thinking about whether any of us is really entitled to life and for how long, and it made me wonder who would miss me and who wouldn’t if this happened to me and whether any of that really matters. And just on December 17th, Brittany Hall, who was a good friend of mine in high school, died of complications caused by her epilepsy. I had let her slip away from my life almost completely, except for a comment here and there on facebook. She was so passionate and unique and troubled and here again i’m angry that during her short life something of great importance was just stolen from her. But that’s probably not my place to really talk about. I know it’s natural and okay for people to drift apart after school, i’m just sorry that i never sat down to catch up with her over a cup of coffee or something. I wish i had heard her stories.

On a lighter note, i’m looking forward anxiously to what 2011 has in store. This is the year i get married. It’s something i’ve always secretly wanted but rarely dared to believe could actually happen for the right reasons. But here i am, and here we are, and i am so excited i can hardly breathe when i really think about it. The wedding is about five months away now, and i’m going to savor the days from here until then carefully, because the anticipation is so sweet. I’m definitely looking forward to actually being married to Nathan, but i’m also enjoying the planning and designing and choosing and checking items off the to-do list in good time. The day itself will be wonderful no matter what happens or what color the flowers end up being. And then there will be a honeymoon in Cancun. And then a long and happy life together. And i. Am so. Pumped.

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Moving On

As i mentioned before, Nathan and i have grown tired of conjoined living arrangements and have decided to leave our swanky downtown loft when our lease runs out at the end of this month. Several days ago that decision left us grasping at straws, trying desperately to rummage up a rental house posting on Craigslist that wasn’t already rented (and yet NOT removed? People, take your Craigslist posts down!) or terribly far away from either or both of our jobs. At the last minute, when we were about to go crawling back to our current landlord, we stumbled upon this:

house

Two-car garage, washer and dryer, a quiet, nice neighborhood in Beaverdale, two bedrooms and a stone’s throw from the nearest bus stop. All for a good price. We went over to take a look last night and ended up signing the rental agreement. The only things missing from the house are a dishwasher and any semblance of taste in the bathroom. It has green tiles EVERYwhere, and the wall space is painted light blue. It also needs a good scrubbing and a new light fixture. Gross.

So we’re planning to go in in two weeks and start painting and replacing things (the bedroom is also a nice pastel pink at the moment). But what color goes with not-quite-teal green? I’ve created some palettes with the approximate hue along with black, for the color of our towels. I also have some old lavender towels from college that we don’t really use, purple hand towels and one pink bath towel. Anyway. Here are the options so far:

bathroom

It’s hard to like any of them, really, but i haven’t come up with anything better yet. Any suggestions? Favorites? I’m leaning toward #2 myself, but to be honest i haven’t lived with that much color since my purple bedroom in high school. I’m a black-and-white kind of person (obviously).

2009 Wrap-Up: Life

A lot of people are enthusiastically shouting “good riddance!” to 2009 today, and that’s totally understandable. Our economy went to crap, everyone is up in arms over health care reform and some would-be martyr just tried to blow up another goddamn airplane. I, however, will be a little bit sorry to see it go. Two-thousand-nine was probably one of the best years of my life.

In early ’09 there was snow. And more snow. And then Nathan and i went to Chicago for Valentine’s day and stayed in a delightful little B&B for a couple of nights. I don’t know what it is about Chicago, but it’s just really fun to go there and stare up at the giant buildings and wander around lost and then stop by IKEA on the way home. Feeling romantic, we also stopped into a few stores in the Windy City’s Diamond District and ogled some sparklies while we were there. It was an indicator of things to come.

In March we moved into our lovely downtown loft. It was really awesome at first until we discovered more recently that 1200 square feet is a LOT to keep clean all the time and that being able to hear everything your neighbors yell at each other isn’t really all that fun. It’s been a nice setting for a few parties, but we don’t do that kind of thing terribly often, and even when we do it’s only a handful of people. We’re hoping to rent a house this spring, and hopefully not being able to hear our neighbors will be worth the effort required to keep the lawn mowed and the driveway shoveled.

In the spring Nathan and i started running together. It was a slow start for me again, but i eventually got back up to the three-mile marker again before deciding to take an extended break. It’s still extending, in fact. I got to a point where i could think about nothing but breathing and the pain i was in and that i needed to STOP every time i ran, and for the entire time that i was running. If i run again this year, i’m cranking my music UP and i’m not going to bother trying to breathe correctly. But, more likely, i’m going to get back into dancing instead. And Nathan will be joining me! We start in January, and hopefully it will help me to fit back into the jeans that have recently become too tight to wear. 😦

In the summer a cute bird couple laid their eggs in our sad little garden box, and we watched their babies quickly grow up & fly away. We took a trip to Oregon on what was probably the hottest week there, ever, and enjoyed visiting Portland and my family despite the shroud of fog out on the coast.

Shortly after we returned my job petered out, and so i signed up for a couple of programming classes at DMACC and started the job hunt, bidding working from home a tearful goodbye. Javascript proved to be very intriguing, and programming logic came pretty easily to me. I only applied for about three jobs in all. One was located right across the street from where we live and dragged out their hiring process so long that by the time they finally rejected me, i had started my new job at Spindustry through Robert Half Technology. I learned recently that I ended up getting A’s in both of my DMACC classes (for whatever good that will do me) and that i get to keep my job at Spindustry! Beginning January 18th, i will no longer be a contractor through RHT, i will be a full-time Spindustry employee, and i couldn’t be happier.

This fall we got engaged, and i’m learning what it’s like to have a heart that is both peaceful and elated at the same time. I bought a 2004 Honda CR-V, and it is getting us safely through the mass amounts of snow that are falling upon Iowa this winter. I’m looking forward to starting to plan our wedding in the coming year (well, i’ve kinda started) and meeting the challenge of becoming even healthier. I have everything to be thankful for and everything to look forward to, and i’m sure 2010 is going to be a great adventure.

Urban Garden

Baby Maters

This is the first real fruit from our little window box garden, although we’ve already taken a few leaves from the lettuce and basil plants for various meals. We’re pretty proud—we call the plants our babies.

Urban GardenCherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce, thyme, parsley, oregano and basil.

Nathan built the window box and i chose the paint color. We planted the babies together and water them on days that nature doesn’t do so for us. We don’t have a proper watering can, so we use our cups instead.

Basil Blossoms 2

I noticed today that our basil plant is blossoming. So pretty.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for!

Without further ado, i give you an abbreviated tour of the new loft. To see more photos, click on any one of them and you’ll be taken to my flickr photo stream. Enjoy!

The main hallway
The main hallway

This is what you see when you first step inside. Immediately to your right is the guest bathroom:

The man space
The Man Space

Nathan laid claim to this bathroom immediately, dubbing it the Man Space. Since it’s also the guest bathroom, i’m actually the only person who’s not allowed to use it. 😛

Down the hall a bit and on the right we have the washer & dryer:

Washer & Dryer

This is one of my favorite things about living here. No quarters, no waiting for neighbors to move their shit, no embarrassment when i accidentally leave underwear in one of the machines. Our own washer & dryer – hallelujah!

Keep going down the small hallway opposite the w&d, and you’ll see the walk-in closet, the bedroom and the wash room & second bathroom.

A glimpse in the closet
The closet is nice and big, but a trifle messy.

The bedroom & wash room / Oregon rainbow
Here you can see how the rooms flow together – and my Oregon rainbow.

The wash room & bathroom
The sink here has its own separate room, which i call the wash room

Steph's throne
MY toilet.

Exiting the bedroom area and continuing down the main hallway, we come upon the common area:

The common area

Which consists of the dining area, the kitchen, a small built-in granite desk just to the right of the view in the above photo, and these two sitting areas:

The reading space pt 2
The reading area

The entertainment space
The TV area

Then we head outside to the terrace:

The Terrace
We need some outdoor furniture. And maybe a few more plants.

Terrace View
Our view

We spent a lot of time cleaning the place up yesterday, and now just have a few things to hang on the walls before we will have completely put it together. I feel so much more at ease now – more so than i have in a good month or two, i’d say. Despite how lovely it is, though, the best thing about this place by far is that i’m here with the love of my life and get to share the space and my time with him.

Things i’ve learned lately

Words that are one word:

meantime
earful

Words that are two words:

every day

Unless, that is, you’re using the word “everyday,” which is an adjective used to describe a daily activity/thing.

Examples:

For Steph, dry skin is an everyday problem.
She has to put lotion on her hands every day.

I’ve been calling people i don’t know EVERY DAY for the past week and a half trying to get this thing and that thing all figured out and hooked up and re-checked and working properly. The weird-flushing toilet. The non-operational door keys. The new cell phone line. Oh my god, the new cell phone line. The wireless internet. Everything is finally working, i think. We just need our window shades and couches to be delivered now. And we need to hang things on the walls.

One EVERYDAY annoyance is the fact that there’s some clattery noise coming from the radiator or the windows or something, which drives me NUTS. I’m about to start wearing headphones constantly. Sleeping is especially difficult, no thanks to the light pouring in through the window above our front door from the brilliant beams out in the hallway. Whose awesome idea was THAT?

The stress will fade away soon, and i’ll start bragging about what an amazing place i live in now. I promise.

Chaos Ensues

I don’t have any pictures to post, for several reasons: 1. I’ve lost my cameraphone. 2. My CF card reader is still packed away somewhere, and 3. I haven’t taken any pictures this week, since my life is in utter chaos and really isn’t photogenic at the moment.

Okay, maybe “utter chaos” is a little strong. Here’s the story: i packed all my stuff up last week, and on Friday Nathan and i started taking SUV-loads of my crap from the old place at Franklin Court down to the new loft downtown. I lost count around six. I cannot understand how all of my stuff fit in three small sedan-loads and one U-Haul for the furniture just seven months ago. I suppose a U-Haul is pretty huge, but i swear i’d already moved most of the boxes by then. All i’ve acquired since is a dresser and bedside table. And some odds and ends – but honestly. It doesn’t add up in my mind.

Saturday we finished moving all the furniture with a little help from Nathan’s family and friends, and we cleaned the old apartment thoroughly, turned the lights off, shut the door and turned in the keys. It was far more emotional than we had anticipated. Perhaps it was just the finality of those fore-mentioned actions – i’ve never really done all of that. Last time i left my roommate to do all the cleaning and key-returning. The dorm rooms i had were never difficult to leave. The move out of our house a couple summers ago was a slow, transitional process and i was damn grateful to be done with it by the end. I haven’t cried about leaving a dwelling probably since we moved away from Eugene. And i was only in this place for seven months.

I guess it was partly the fact that it was my first and only place all to myself, and it was a symbol of my independence. But more importantly, some memories were made there that will probably have significance for the rest of my life. The rest of our lives.

I park my car now three blocks away from the loft at Nathan’s workplace, and when we were returning from it Saturday night we managed to be locked out of our new building. The hard keys don’t work in the outside doors and the key-cards they gave us also failed to work, due to some error in setting them up. The garage door opener is currently the only way for us to enter the building, and that, of course, was in the car. Luckily someone came to visit a friend, and we followed him as he was buzzed-in.

We spent some time yesterday putting things away, and the loft is slowly starting to feel like home. We have no blinds yet, so the giant window-wall exposes us to the inanimate brick wall across the alley. We’ve purchased a sofa-and-loveseat set which will be delivered next weekend. The cable and internet were not ready for us and won’t be until Wednesday, and we can’t yet use our washer and dryer since they require some bracket in order to be stacked, and will be hooked up upon the installation of that item. We don’t know when. Our stock of clean clothes is running dangerously low, but i refuse to go to a laundromat.

More updates to come in a few days. I’m going to be very difficult to reach until i get a replacement for my phone. 😦 I had just been thinking how grateful i was to have that thing, actually, since Nathan’s phone was damaged on Friday and he had to buy a replacement. I lost mine the next day, and really can’t figure out where it could be. It’s dead, of course. Phones only get lost when they’re desperately low on battery power.