Snow in May

Snow in May in Iowa, 2013
The Carriage House

Pretty amazing. And it’s still coming down! But, strangely enough, this bothers me a lot less than the eighty-degree day we had earlier this week. I’ve done a complete one-eighty from loving heat and loathing the cold. Gimme hot tea and blankies! You can keep the sweat and bugs and burns of summer.

The real bummer is that all the precipitation we’ve gotten this week has led to water seepage in our basement. Again. But my wonderful handy husband is on the case, so i’m not too worried about it just yet.

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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.

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.

Home for the Holidays

I wouldn’t have phrased it that way, considering that Dustin only lived in Iowa until he was seven, but he himself said it on Myspace. Nathan and i picked him up at the airport on Saturday, and we had a mini-Christmas with him and Tim and Jamie that evening. It’s been ridiculously cold here, as a nice big “Welcome!” The high yesterday was negative one, and the wind-chill factor made it feel something like thirty below. It didn’t keep us indoors all day, though! Last night mom, Nathan, Dustin and i went out for dinner and a few drinks.

Dustin Drinking Santa's Butt
Dustin drinking Santa’s Butt

Santa's Butt

Dustin was so impressed by the beer and scotch selection at the Royal Mile that he asked that we take him back before he leaves on Friday. There’s still a lot of partying left to do this week!

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

I am just not ready for this Fall thing yet. 😦 Yesterday i tried to convince myself that it still felt like Summer, but today i really can’t pretend.

Cubbies Game
Mom and i went to an I-Cubs game over the long weekend.

It’s not that i don’t like Fall, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Fall. I think it’s the most romantic season, which actually might drive me crazy this year since i have nobody to squeeze. What i’m really not happy about is the fact that Fall never lasts more than a few weeks here, it just goes straight into winter and i HATE winter. I mean, i can tolerate it for a long time, but when it’s been snowing for three months already and there’s no end in sight, i get pretty angry.

I’m gonna get me a garage this year, though, so that should help my nerves quite a lot.

In the news: John McCain was an exotic dancer back in the day. His new running mate, Sarah Palin, is a horrible, horrible person. Google’s new browser Chrome is only for Windows. I want an Intel Mac, so i don’t have to be jealous about that sort of thing anymore. I also want a new iPod, but rather than one with a larger capacity than my 4th generation iPod Classic 20gb, i’m thinking of getting a Nano because… drum roll… I’ve taken up running. I’m actually improving a lot and it’s only been three weeks, so now i’m thinking about getting the Nike + iPod system because everyone says it’s so cool. And it only works with Nanos. Sigh. Apple is about to release a new nano, though, so hopefully the prices on the old ones will drop.

Des Moines Arts Festival

Mom and i visited the Des Moines Arts Festival this weekend, which is one of my favorite things to do in the summertime. We’re lucky to get such a wide variety of artists from all over the country, some of whom even come more than once despite the awful weather–be it sweltering heat, torrential downpours or, this year’s surprise, a gale storm.

Here are a few of my favorites, or at least the ones from whom i was able to snatch a business card with a web address.

KEITH GRACE – This one appealed to the graphic designer in me because of the bright colors, simple images and the use of typography as texture. Fun collage/paintings, just really cool to look at.

CHRIS HONEYSETT – Obviously a great black & white photographer. Who doesn’t love fog photos?

BRUCE HOLWERDA – These paintings are just so whimsical and colorful and beautiful. I love that he captures the magic of dance and uses techniques like splatter painting and collage-like color so that the image almost seems to glitter.

So check out their websites, buy me a print or two… And come with us next year. We’ll get a four-dollar beer and gripe about all the other gawkers.