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.

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Goings-On

August was long and short in different ways. I’ve been job hunting, so that’s a little tedious. I created a new portfolio site for that, which you can check out here. In fact, i was told just today that my portfolio is pretty sharp and that a lot of applicants “don’t seem to get it” and submit bad portfolios. The summer seems to be coming to an end much too soon, though. It’s starting to feel like fall already, and i’m not too happy about that. I love fall, don’t get me wrong – it just really shouldn’t be fall yet.

I took photos of my nephew for his senior portraits a couple weeks ago, and i’m pretty happy with how they turned out. Here are a couple of my faves:

IMG_0084

IMG_0275

He’s good at being a model and striking different poses. 🙂 No word yet on which shots are his faves, but you can go see the full set on flickr if you like.

I’m taking a pretty extended break from running… Not sure if i’ll get back into it at all, but fall is pretty much the perfect time for running, so we’ll see. I wish i could find something like dance-for-exercise around here, but it doesn’t really exist. Maybe swing would do.

This week i started two night classes at DMACC: programming logic and dynamic HTML. That means i’ll be learning really basic concepts for programming but no actual languages on the one hand, and mostly Javascript on the other. I’m heavily considering dropping the first class while i can still get my money back, but probably i should just do it and be done with it and it will be a good foundation for further programming knowledge. The Javascript class is going to be a lot of fun, i think. The classes are three hours each, two days a week, and DMACC is twenty minutes away, so the beginning of my week is pretty packed right now.

Nathan’s b-day is this month! For a few more days we’ll be the same age, and then he’ll surpass me in age and wisdom once again for eleven months to follow. Also, we will celebrate our one-year anniversary this month. Things just keep getting better. 🙂

Mosquito-bitten

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure out how to use Flickr as a photo host. My god. All this time i’ve been uploading my photos separately to 1. Facebook (sometimes) 2. Flickr (always), and 3. my own website, in order to then post them on my blog. I thought it was dumb that i couldn’t just post my Flickr photos on my blog and that there had to be some way to do it, but i was too dumb to figure it out until just now.

Apparently, you have to go to the photo on flickr, click on “all sizes” and then you’ll see the url for the photo. Is it just me or is that really non-intuitive?

Anyway, the photo is of a little shiba inu puppy Dan and i played with at a pet store in Des Moines on Friday. We went down there to eat at Red Robin and it just happened to be right by Pet Land, and there just happened to be a Shiba Inu puppy there. I want one really bad now. I would give it a japanese name, probably something from Sailor Moon like Usagi or Minako, to the poor pup’s everlasting shame.

We got Dr. Mario – Online RX for Wii this weekend and stayed up until 4 am with Ryan two nights in a row playing it. Talk about addicting. Saturday we got out for a while though, and ventured through the rain to Ledges state park on the motorcycles. We parked up above the closed-off park and hiked down to where we could see the water that’s completely overtaken the area. Most of the streets are open around central iowa, but the water levels are definitely still much higher than normal.


Oh wow, i can use Facebook as a photo host too!


Ledges photos courtesy of Ryan

Today we played more Dr. Mario with Nina, Karl and Ryan and then played some frisbee and boccee ball. We are covered in mosquito bites now, but it was worth it. Tomorrow i head to Des Moines for an interview, and will probably give Innova a follow-up call.

Heart in a Head Lock

I suppose i’ll begin where i left off last time. Sunday the 8th I went to the Zoo with Mom, Nina and Karl. Dan had left the day before for his motorcycle trip with his dad. It was rainy Sunday, but the rain let up just long enough for us to see everything we wanted to see, and then started to come down again the second we got back in the car. It was perfect.

Monday i spoke to Canright for scarcely half an hour before he offered me a job. Right then and there. He told me to take 24 hours to think it over, and so I wasted no time in beginning to panic. I talked to the people closest to me on the phone and went to Nina’s to try to distract myself, to no avail. How could i possibly just take the job without having even seen the place? I sent an email to Jim Canright and requested a few more days deliberation, to which he agreed.

Tuesday i called up the Student Travel Association and they found a wicked cheap plane ticket to Portland for me for the following day. At this point i thought i would definitely take the job if the place felt right. I couldn’t put my finger on a specific fear, but i was just scared somehow of getting stuck in a situation that wasn’t right for me, and i thought that that would have to do with the job rather than the city.

Wednesday i flew out to Portland, rented a car and drove to my brother’s best friend Ryan’s apartment in NW Portland. All by myself. I met his girlfriend and her mean weiner dog Pancakes who will lure an unsuspecting stranger’s hand by looking cute & innocent, and then lunge to bite his or her face without warning. I was warned, however, so this didn’t happen to me. She even let me pet her, eventually. Between the two of them, Ryan and Amy have two weiner dogs and one weiner/chihuahua mix who recently had her teeth removed (read: cutest freaking thing ever). I proceeded that night to watch Ryan’s “The Office” DVDs until bed time–again a necessary distraction from the huge decision i was facing.

Thursday i borrowed Amy’s GPS unit and drove down to Canright in SE Portland. The place was perfect. Jim is a really nice guy, and most of the few people who work there are women my age, extremely friendly. The neighborhood is artsy and bohemian and has narrow streets with cars parked on both sides, and the building was comfortably modern and painted an inspiring shade of light green on the interior. There were Macs just waiting to be used and a corgi dying for attention.

I had lunch with Kara, the accounts manager, and then talked to my Dad on the phone. He asked how sure i was that i’d take the job and i told him 90%.

I was driving around to look at a few apartments when things started to not feel right. It was all becoming very real. I realized i didn’t care about having to move all my shit across the country, wasn’t concerned about making new friends, wouldn’t have a difficult time adjusting to the new job. But Portland didn’t feel like home. I didn’t like the idea of disrupting my family in Iowa. And the thought of saying goodbye to Dan forever made me instantly burst into tears, despite the fact that i had thought i was ready to put my career first.

The truth is i’ve never cared about location or occupation nearly so much as the people i love. And it would be unfair not to mention here the fact that i dearly love my Dad and my sister, who both live in Eugene, Oregon. They’ll always be in my life and i’ll always be close to them, however physically far away. But to physically leave Dan to me meant to lose him, and i just couldn’t wrap my mind around that. I realize this about myself every couple of years when i decide it’s time to move away, and yet i need a more definite reminder every time. Last time was Rome. Before that i was going to transfer to the U of O. Before that i thought of starting college at U of O or the AI of Portland. Before that, high school at South Eugene. And on, and on, and on.

I lead a somewhat split life, having dreams and loves in two distinct locations, but at this point going to Oregon woudn’t be about returning, but starting anew. It will always be there if i some day decide i’m ready.

Friday i was able to spend some time with Dad and get a lot of good advice from him. We visited the Hawthorne district and the rose garden. After he left i talked to Dustin, Dan, Mom, and finally Jim Canright. Now is not the right time for me to take this job, i told him. He was sorry to hear it.

Saturday i flew back to Iowa and Sunday i reunited with Dan. Things still aren’t perfect, but i figure what’s already happening here is definitely worth seeing through. I’ve started the job hunt over completely. There are no freaking jobs around here, but i’ve got enough saved to probably see me through to better economic times, if necessary. I’ve got changes i want to make once i have income again. New glasses. More exercise. Increased appreciation for all that i’ve already got.

Good fortune

I got a call during dinner last night from Canright in Portland and now have an appointment to talk to them on Monday. I also got a reply from the Chicago Tribune, they’re still wrapping up round 1 and are still interested in me. Zillow will be calling on Tuesday. It could be a pretty interesting week, i’m excited! Dan will be off riding in the Black Hills of South Dakota with his father until a week from tomorrow. I’m going to have an extremely difficult time distracting myself from the anticipation without him around to talk to, so please feel free to call me frequently.

I have tentative plans to watch a few episodes of The Office, watch them again with commentary, return the recyclables, back up my computer, and make some paper by ripping up old paper and re-forming it. Whoa busy schedule! Also, headed to the zoo tomorrow with Mommy, Nina and Karl. Fun!

Job hunt update

The Chicago tribune never contacted me again after my second phone conversation with them last Thursday. I called today but nobody answered, so i left a message and sent an email as well. Curious.

Zillow in Seattle wants to talk to me again next Tuesday.

I talked on Wednesday to several folks at Coffey Communications in Walla Walla, Washington. Turns out it’s a pretty small city, even smaller than Ames, and several hours from both Seattle and Portland. Bummer.

Canright in Portland wants to talk to me next week, but hasn’t made an appointment yet.

I applied at a few places in NYC because i realized that two of the best friends i’ve ever had live out there now, so why not?

Also thinking of applying to work for Facebook in Palo Alto, CA.

All the anticipation has me alternately very excited and rather depressed. Today is an excited day. 😀 Oh crap, i was supposed to call for my first unemployment check today. Whoopee…

Head for the hills!

Friday was quite an adventure here in Ames, Iowa. It rained quite a bit last week, enough apparently to totally flood the meadow across the street from us, and then the street itself, and then the apartment buildings in the area. Dan called me at 11 AM while i was still in bed and told me to get out and move my car up to the next street to the North because ours was flooding. “I don’t see any water in the parking lot–wait a sec, yeah the street is totally filled with water.”


From the east end of South 5th, around noon on Friday


Behind our apartment buildings (ours is the grey one).

We got our cars out and up to South 4th just in time. I went and knocked on Karl’s door to tell him to move his vehicle and Dan went knocking on all of our neighbor’s doors, because cars were quickly becoming too submerged to drive through the water. He went into the office and suggested that they alert people. “What, you want us to go knock on everyone’s door?” “Uh, YEAH, that’s what i’ve just been DOING.” So he got their asses going. Good work.

Meanwhile, I waded back to our place with my big rubber boots on and quickly packed a bag and grabbed some bananas. I went back to my car, ate a banana and tried to decide whose house i could shower at… There’s a back staircase from S 4th to Nina & Karl’s apartment complex so i called him, took a shower at their place and was able to get out the back door and back to my car though the water had risen to their parking lot by the time i was done.

Dan stuck around and had a ball wading through the brown water with Ryan and making friends with the neighbors while i went to the mall for a bit (where i found THE JACKET!) before my dental appointment and then got out of town. I was on my way to Des Moines when my car suddenly shut off in the middle of the interstate. I was able to pull over onto the shoulder, called mom and then Dan who came with Ryan to rescue me after first grabbing a burger or two. Ryan identified that my fuel line had become disconnected, reconnected it for me and i was on my way. THANK YOU, Ryan!

Some day i’ll tally up all the money that Dan and Ryan have saved me on computer and car repairs and feel guilty, and then take them out to a nice dinner or something. Amazingly, all the bad luck of the day ended up making me feel very fortunate to A: have an apartment that’s on concrete stilts; 2: Have found the perfect jacket finally 🙂 C: Still have super healthy teeth even after a year and a half away from the dentist; 4: Have friends to rescue me; and E: be close enough to just hop down and visit my family. Never mind that i experienced a flood and car problems on the same day.

I stayed in DM that night and visited with Tim, Angie, Jamie and Mom and perhaps Grandma and Grandpa heard some of what we were saying, having been in the same room for most of the time. I had an interview with Zillow in Seattle which was a little awkward because i had forgotten about the time difference and expected a call at 3:30 rather than 5:30, and the phone connection was rather fuzzy.

Cut to today. Nothing in my email inbox. I feel anxious. Chicago? Seattle? Portland? Chicago? Portland? Seattle? Interviews? Plane rides? Hotels? Nothing at all?? Everyone warns me about Chicago. There is still nothing to speak of in Portland, my top choice. I am still waiting. This will be my first week without pay.