Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just when you thought it would never happen...

Voila, it is now summer!  Just when I thought it might never come...

Lest you think that my life has been stressful, boring or angst-filled since my last writing, I will tell you that things are indeed changing.

Well, not everything.  But a lot of things.  It's all good though.  Mostly.

First, jobs.  Not mine, exactly, although I am still enjoying my "new" digs almost one year into the gig.  I plan to stick around for a while, if they'll have me.  That window seat sure helps.

No, I refer instead to the un or under-employed members of my immediate family.  First, my brother.  Although he has been temporarily employed since the end of this past March at a local zoo, he has now accepted a teaching position back in Madison and will be returning to his betrothed and their menagerie of critters tomorrow.  This makes a lot of people very happy for various reasons that I do not feel I need to state.  Happy times, though.

Then there is my mother.  As of July 1, she will be embarking on her career as a counselor.  It will be in a location that is more conveniently located to the farm, which will in effect be putting the gears into motion for my parents to make their big move and possibly sell their house sooner than originally planned.  We are all very proud of her and excited to see how she transitions into a professional life. 

All of the above stated changes do affect me in ways other than just general happiness, however.  As I am still living in the house of my parents, I am now in the process of seeking out a new place to live.  My criteria is deceptively simple, but I have yet to encounter the "right" location, so keep your fingers crossed.  But honestly, I am very excited at the prospect of once again having my own space. 

It does occur to me that perhaps one of the reasons my blogging has dwindled in the past several months is that my inspiration has traditionally come out of frustration or thwarted desires in my life.  Now that I am relatively free from many of these things, I find that I have less impulse to write. 

Maybe my house hunt will bring me that much needed creative push.  Or maybe organizing the move with my parents will drive me to the breaking point.  Who knows?  In the meantime, keep picturing me walking in fields with bunnies and birds (to eat the wood ticks) and singing my little songs.  I will let you know if any dark clouds appear on the horizon.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Last night I had trouble falling asleep.  Maybe it was the fact that I slept in until at least 9:30 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.  Or maybe it was the medium iced americano I drank at 4 p.m.  Who knows.  The point is that I sat awake last night with my mind racing without sleep.  Of course, knowing that one is to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to walk the dog doesn't help either.

Somehow I managed to survive the day without incident.  But I cannot say it was pleasant, at least not in the morning part of it.

For some reason, I assumed that when the weather finally warmed up around here, my mood would go from bored and sad to excited and happy.  I suppose I should have known myself better than that, but yesterday's brunch proved otherwise.

If you live under a rock or in another country, yesterday was Mother's Day.  We went all out and took my mom to brunch because there is nothing that mother's like less than having people mess up their kitchen on Mother's Day.

We chose a place that I knew my mom would like.  She had been there before, as had my brother and future sister-in-law.  It is one of those neighborhood joints that is small in size but likes to pride themselves on local or fair-trade ingredients.  Noble causes, I am sure.

This place is pretty new seeing as how the building in which it resides burned down a few years back. 

But back to the story. 

Despite my best efforts at making a reservation at 10:30, we arrived to find that they were not quite ready for us as they had seated some people in our prospective area and while they were done eating and had paid out, for some reason they felt compelled to wait 10 minutes to leave.

This wait allowed me to witness the use of the facility's espresso machine.  It was fun and shiny, as well it should be and I watched jealously as a latte was sent out to a patron who was already seated.  I made a note that I too would be enjoying such an item.

So when we finally reached our table and our waitress asked if we would like a beverage, I requested a latte to be made with skim milk.  I am on a weight loss program, after all.

Her reply was not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I guess in retrospect I should have expected it.  I cannot really blame her for it as I highly doubt she sets the rules, but apparently the male baristas are "purists" and do not have skim milk as an offering.  Therefore, I would have to forgo my food and drink whole milk. 

This initial response did in fact irritate me quite a bit.  But it was what came next that sent me over the edge.  Apparently, these "purists" are willing to deviate entirely from the realm of dairy to accommodate those with vegan and/or lactose issues by offering to use soy beverage.  As if the "purists" over in Italy would do such a ridiculous thing.

I was forced to drink regular coffee despite the waitresses efforts to suggest that the soy beverage could be acceptable.  After she left, my family inquired as to whether or not I was angered by this piece of news.  I believe my response was something mumbled to the tune of "stupid hipster douchebags."

This is not to say that I cannot respect a decision not to offer several types of milk from a cost perspective.  I am just not keen to have some high and mighty "stupid hipster douchebag" imply that my choice to consume dairy at a healthier cholesterol and fat level is somehow "impure." 

So this was my rant of the morning to my coworker as I explained my new wave of general malaise.  I am not sure what can cure it.  I tried walking around some lakes and eating chocolate.  Tomorrow it is supposed to hit 90 degrees which means that I may be taking a Dairy Queen walk with my pregnant co-worker.  Is the soft serve of DQ "pure" enough for the standards of the barista at yesterday's restaurant.  I highly doubt it.  Thus, I shall have my revenge.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happiness is a window seat

Big news, y'all.  Today I achieved a new level of workplace greatness:  the window seat.  Truth be told, it was not really a reward for any particular thing that I did or accomplished.  It was more a matter of a new and proactive boss who thought it was silly that our team of four was split between two cubicle sections.  In the process of bringing us together, people had to be moved.  A window seat became available.  And I got it.

This is not to say that there was not competition.  At least, there was one other person who expressed interest.  I don't know if that really qualifies as competition.  But I will say that I was inordinately nervous about how my boss would assign our seating because I really wanted that desk.  Really.

My argument was simple.  The desk was immediately across the aisle from the team member with whom I do most of my collaborative work.  In many ways, it was an obvious solution.  But others can be persuasive if they so choose, and my boss did not give a strong indication of her decision until just about a week ago.  Due to logistical issues, the actual move did not happen until today, and it went off with very little fanfare.

Verdict?  It is awesome.  I can hardly believe that such a scene will be in front of me every day while I work.  It almost makes the long afternoons more bearable.  At least it does for now while the scene is still oddly enough a wintry wonderland.

In other news, we are now into my birthday weekend.  It all commences tomorrow with the all girls event outing in which I shall be getting my hair dried by a professional.  Yes, that's right.  I will be paying someone to wet and then dry my hair.  Hopefully when all is said and done I will understand the appeal but will not enjoy it so much that it becomes an addition.  I think that I managed that pretty well with the whole pedicure thing, so I have high hopes.

Following this session of hot air, we will be shopping, walking and later going to dinner at a cool and trendy restaurant.  I expect we will be home and in bed by 10 p.m.  Mark my words.

My actual birthday is on Monday, if you were curious.  If you are also wondering what my age shall be, I am not ashamed to tell you that it is 33.  I have found that when it comes to age, opinions are highly varied.  To some, I am ancient.  Past my prime.  An old maid.  To others, I am still a spring chicken with all kinds of fun ahead of me.  I choose to believe neither and just take it as it comes.  You are only ever as old as you feel, right?

In other news, sometimes I get bored.  One of my many distractions is the online website, Pinterest.  While the true usefulness of this thing eludes me to a great extent, I sometimes find funny or interesting things when I check in on things.  But honestly, most of the time I just get annoyed.  I believe I have blogged about this a little in the past, mostly regarding a male pinner who tries to offer clothing suggestions to women on a board he calls "Girls, do this."

But now I turn to one of the categories that truly irritates the crap out of me:  fitness.  To be clear, I am not against physical activity, exercise or wanting to live a healthy lifestyle.  Not at all.  But it seems to me that most of the people who literally COVER their boards with workout tips are the doing so more out of wishful thinking and/or false pretenses. 

Don't believe me? Take a look at some of the pictures that go with these "great workout ideas."  They are perfectly in shape with six-pack abs and shiny toned legs.  Under no circumstances do I believe that simply doing these four, six or whatever moves will make me look like the person in the photograph.  That kind of body takes a LOT more work.

My theory is that rather than being a motivational tool, pinners are trying to fool themselves and their followers into believing that they are actually doing these exercises and look like the models.  How do I know?  Because many of the same pinners also have recipes for peanut-butter-cup-in-the-middle brownies.  Or five cheese butter pasta delight. Contradictory, no?

Now, you might argue that anyone who truly was working out as much as their pins suggest could certainly justify eating such things, but I am willing to hedge a bet that things are not quite that balanced.  And really, if you're trying to show off to the world of Pinterest what a health nut you are, you aren't setting a very good example.

I just realized that I now sound like a cranky and crotchety old person, which is very much not how one should hope to be portrayed at the dawn of their 33rd birthday.  But I cannot help it.  I have been a crotchety personality for as long as I can remember and I look forward to one day having the outward appearance to support it.  It may be another 40-50 years in the future, but here's hoping I can make it to that point.  By then, Pinterest will likely be a relic of the past.  Heck, the Internet could be an old wives tale that I share with kids in my nursing home on the moon.  Nice.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Life in April

Maybe it is just the way things go with blogs, but I have simply just not felt compelled to write in the past few weeks (months, year, etc.).  Not that my life is suddenly so full that I no longer have time or anything.  If anything, I have MORE time now that my commute has shrunk and my house is sold. 

We could sit here and try to figure out the why and wherefore of this situation or we could just move on.  I know what I prefer and since I am the one in control, you must bend to my will.

My life as of late has been consumed by two things:  taking my dog on more walks and buying new clothes.  The reason for the first is based on many factors.  First, the weather is finally warming up and walking on the ground is much less treacherous without ice.  Second, my dog has been getting a little cranky as of late and I know that inactivity has something to do with it. 

As this all fits in quite nicely with my goal of losing weight and being more active, it hasn't been too difficult.  Unless you count my new "habit" of the past week.  You see, my father has always been a morning person and as such he is not averse to rising at an ungodly hour of the morning to jog or walk.  Now that he drives over an hour to work in the morning, the hour has become even more ungodly.  Like the responsible pet owner that he is, he usually takes his dogs with him on this outing.

Up until this past week, Lena and I were content to sleep through this whole routine.  But in some insane fit of ambitiousness that I can only attribute to eating too many banana Nutella crepes on Easter Sunday, I asked if I could join him this week.  So, for the four days he was home, I did it.  I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. (!!!) and set forth in the pre-dawn cold for a quick jaunt around the silent and dark neighborhood with my dad and three dogs.

Truth be told, once I got used to it, it wasn't so bad.  I had to increase the size of my morning coffee, but it didn't kill me.  I may continue to do it in the future.

The second activity that has been consuming my time (and money) is shopping for new clothes.  After what felt like years where I dreaded the activity both because I knew I weighed more than I wanted to weigh and didn't want to spend money, it has become a bit alarming to find that I can suddenly fit into smaller sizes than I have in years.  I am still not quite to goal weight, but it is definitely within sight.  Hopefully I won't end up having to replace all my new clothes with smaller sizes, but what a nice problem to have.

My brother is in town and staying at the house with me and my parents.  And our dogs.  Not his dog, but the three that are normally here.  It is only temporary (5 more weeks or so left), but it has changed the household dynamics a bit, mostly in terms of basement/TV time.  As he is working on finishing a project for his Master's program, he needs a place to work in peace, and this happens to be the basement.  Where the big TV is located.

It really hasn't been too much of a problem, except for on weekends when we are all here.  With one person in control of the basement, the other three are left to fight it out for control of the remaining rooms.  You wouldn't think it would be so difficult, but until the outdoors or back porch become viable options for sitting and/or relaxing, it is.

The good news is that it is temporary.  (Did I already say that?)  Also, it is likely that he will head back to Madison on some weekends to see his fiancee and their animal brood.  Obviously, this is not an ideal situation for them either, so I am sure they are eager for it to be done.

It has had the interesting side effect of pushing me to look more earnestly at my future housing options.  Obviously, I don't think it is quite the right time to make that move, but I am trying to establish resources to consult so that when the time does come I can find and jump on something quickly.  I am excited by the possibility of living in a "cool" part of town for the first time in my life, but having just put my family through a move out of my old house, I am not quite ready to ask for their help again.

So for now, Lena and I are in the suburbs.  We are excited for summer and for more walks around the lakes.  For wearing skirts and taking trips up north.  Hanging out at the farm.  Driving the new riding lawnmower.  Putting on sandals again.  Getting a pedicure so that I can safely wear sandals again in public.  The list is endless.  Such is life in Minnesota at the end of winter.  It's a beautiful thing.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Last of the Norwegians

A couple of weeks ago, my last remaining grandparent died.  It was my paternal grandfather, the Norwegian.  You see, if you are one of my grandfathers, you are either the Swede or the Norwegian.  The Swede passed five years ago and the grandmothers even longer before.  But Geno held out through many toils and snares, including (but not limited to) congestive heart failure, farmer's lung, and urinary tract infections.

In the end, what actually caused him to die was that his body just shut down.  It was not totally unexpected and didn't catch any of us unprepared, but it does signify a major shift in our family order.  Suddenly, my father (as the oldest child) and his brothers have become the "elders" of the family.  As of yet, there is only one generation beneath them, but that will eventually change.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I wrote my grandfather's obituary.  I knew him as well as any granddaughter could; certainly the longest of any of my cousins and brothers by virtue of my age.  Still, he remained to the end a bit of an enigma.  Not because he was especially stoic or quiet but because he was very selective about what he revealed to his audience.

Clearly the man enjoyed history.  Especially family history.  Every time we would show up at his place, he would have acquired some new obscure relic that appeared useless but by his estimation was priceless.  Wooden bowls, step stools, pictures, rocks.

The majority of his 86 years were spent in one rural area.  He started on a farm, was later moved to town in an apartment and just a year and a half ago finally ended up in an assisted living arrangement.  Initially he resisted change, but he was not so stubborn that he wouldn't adapt somehow.  Unfortunately, with the last move, he also lost his ability to drive and with that his ability to be independently mobile.

This did not sit as easily with him. 

Now, we could sit and theorize about the need to keep one's brain active or losing the will to live, but I would prefer not to do that.

Instead I would like to think about the fact that he liked to keep records.  Not only did he valiantly attempt to write out stories from his younger days and random facts about different people in the township; he also wrote about things that went on in his daily life.  In a series of spiral bound notebooks.  For some reason, he seems to have had an aversion to using up an entire notebook before moving on to the next because there are several of them that are not even half full.

But I think I can relate.

You see, I am something of a sporadic journal keeper myself.  If you were to go through the 25 book boxes currently in my storage unit, you would encounter at least half a dozen partially filled journals.  I am less fond of the basic spiral bound notebook, but I am definitely fond of not filling all the pages before starting a new one.

If you want to know why, I cannot give you a good reason.  Maybe I saw a really cool journal at the bookstore or received one as a gift and decided to start fresh.  Maybe I misplaced one along the way.  Whatever the reason, it came as a bit of a surprise to discover that perhaps this habit is hereditary.  As far as I know, it seems to have skipped a generation, because unless my dad is holding out on me, he is not a journal writer.

For all his quirks, I am not ashamed to be likened to my grandfather.  Like all human beings, he had his faults, to be sure.  He was not a perfect man.  But as with all people in your life that you choose to love, you have to take someone as the sum of their parts.   So I take with me the habits, traits and genes that have come to me through my grandfather and I will do my best to remember the source that contributed so much to the sum of my own parts, and I will be thankful for them.  Mange takk, bestefaren min.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


It really is so strange that I do not make this connection more often, but my Pinterest page is a good source of things about which to write. 

One thing that continually perplexes me are the pinners who post things about workouts and healthy lifestyle and then go and pin a recipe for deep-fried candy bars.  It really begs the question of how many Pinterest pins are truly representative of one's life goals? 

Personally, I tend more towards the clothing and humorous when and if I do pin.  Yes, I have been known to pin food and recipes, but I can tell you with all certainty that I have yet to make a single item that appears on my "Food Type Such and Such" board.  Not because I don't want to but because I never have taken the trouble to print out and use anything.

Now, I am well aware that there are many people who take and use Pinterest seriously.  My cousin is a perfect case in point.  She was married last fall, and based on my observations of both the event and her Pinterest pins, she gained a lot of actual inspiration from her findings.  From table decorations to picture poses, she really made it work for her.

Other folks, I fear are not as diligent.  If it were even possible for one single person to create all the crafts and make all the food that some people post, I would cut them some slack, but it borders on ridiculous.  And really, who has the time or energy to waste on some of this ridiculousness.  Honestly, how many people have actually gone out and created furniture from old wooden shipping pallets?  Really, you would think everyone's home was full of them based on how many people pin them.

If I had to pick just one type of pin that really sets me off the most, it would be the "inspirational quote" postings.  While I have never been a fan of downright cheesiness in any respect, I get hugely annoyed when I see things that are incorrectly attributed to the wrong person.  But hey, here it is in writing, so it must be true, right?  KNOW YOUR SOURCES, PEOPLE!!!

Pardon me for my Sunday morning rant, but I needed to get that out of my system before I find a show to watch on the computer while I exercise.  And that is for real, you guys.  And I am totally not going to post a pin about it on Pinterest.  I will just stick to the relative anonymity of this blog.  And with that, I will leave.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You know it's official. I have an appointment.

I may have mentioned this before, but it has been a long time since I had a haircut.  Over six months, to be exact.  While in the grand scheme of my life, it may not be the longest wait, in the last decade it very well may be. 

But I have put forth the effort and the wait shall soon be over.  On Thursday next, I have an appointment.  To keep going with all this proactive momentum, please note that I also have a grooming appointment for Lena on the following Saturday.  Come next Sunday, we two ladies shall be all prettied up and ready to take on the world.

Right now, as I write, my entire family is in the city of Madison of the state of Wisconsin.  It is ostensibly to celebrate both the birthdays of my brother and his betrothed, but also the actual betrothal itself as we have seen neither of them since the big news came out.  Sadly, I shall have to wait for my celebration, but I am sure when it happens it will be epic.

My weekend does not promise to be quite as amazing, but I think it will definitely be passable.  Tonight I am chilling with the pup-squad and tomorrow I have lunch plans with a friend.  These plans will bring me back to the area of my former employment, so it should be nostalgic at the very least.

Valentine's Day was, to put it succinctly, the "same as it ever was."  I am not one to really dwell on or become saddened by the fact that I am not in a relationship, so it pretty much passes by with little fanfare for me.  My mother and I went to dinner where I had my first "domestic" beer in a very long time.  I couldn't finish an entire glass.  I was not sure if I should be sad or proud.

This week it has finally started to sink in that I do not own a house any more.  It it a feeling which is long overdue, but sometimes the big things take longer to feel real.  Not that I am now plotting a course to live in Paris or Oslo, but it is nice to know that I could.

You know, I have found myself worried at times that I do not have enough entertaining information to share on this blog and that perhaps that was a bad sign.  But you know what?  I think it is actually the opposite.  Things are actually looking GOOD for me.  My house is sold, my job is going well, my friends all had their babies, I am feeling good physically and I am getting a haircut on Thursday. 

So really, I cannot complain.  Well, I suppose if I went looking for it, I could, but hey, it's Friday night and I have a holiday on Monday.  So it's pretty nice to be me right now.  But stay tuned, I guess.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Shocking news.  It is February in Minnesota and it is snowing.  Wow. 

Maybe you can sense my sarcasm, but if not, I was being facetious in my previous statements.  But if you go on my Facebook feed right now, you should be prepared to see that the majority of my MN located friends are posting information related to the current weather conditions.

To which, I say, "Seriously?"  I mean, how did we survive before we had Facebook to warn everyone about the weather that can clearly be seen through the window and has been in the weather predictions for almost a week?  Yesterday I went out to finally make my Christmas gift related purchase of snowshoes and boots at REI.  It had not yet begun to snow, and I expect that the amount of customers in the store were typical for a Saturday.

After that, I decided to make a stop at the local Trader Joe's to pick up some items I had been thinking about all week but had not had the energy or memory to stop and buy.  Big mistake.  Not only was I dealing with Saturday shoppers, but I suspect I was also working alongside the preppers.  As in the people who were "prepping" for the snow apocalypse that was sure to keep them trapped and housebound for 2-3 weeks.  Right?

If there is one thing that I can say for certain after nearly 33 years living in this part of the world, it is that heavy snowfall has never kept me indoors for more than 48 hours.  We in MN certainly have the infrastructure that allows for not-too-long delays in road clearing.  We own shovels, snow-blowers and have plows on our pickup trucks.  I own several pairs of snow resistant boots, have numerous winter coats, hats, mittens and scarves. 

Heck, I even have snowshoes now. 

There is NO WAY I am going to starve to death in this weather.  In fact, I may go so far as to say that I will very likely be going to work in the morning.

Now, I realize that not everyone has the luxury of living in the city within a few miles of their office.  My father, for instance, faces a daily commute of over an hour in either direction.  But he has made allowances for this in that he brought home his access equipment and is fully prepared to stay home tomorrow if the conditions forbid it. 

I should probably end this entry soon.  I suspect that my father will require my assistance to start clearing out the driveway and sidewalk before the accumulation reaches the six inch mark.  Because, you know, this isn't our first blizzard and likely will not be our last.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dream weaver

I don't know if anyone else can relate, but when it comes to recurring dreams, I have quite a repertoire.  As a child, the predominant theme was some sort of green witch head that lived in the holes of guitars.  And Hello Kitty markers.  Any thoughts?

As I grew in age and experiences, new issues came to light.  In addition to the wholly awful "math" dreams in which I cannot stop my poor brain from processing mathematical "equations," I acquired the "band sequence" and the "absentee storyline."

In the band vision, I arrive in the instrument locker area of my high school with a sense of impending doom.  Not only do I suddenly realize that I cannot remember how to play the clarinet, but I also cannot recall the combination to my padlock to retrieve it.  Oh, and guess what?  Apparently I have been skipping choir rehearsal all year as well and am probably failing it. 

I do have theories into this dream, but I will leave those out at this time.

The next dream takes place on my college campus towards the end of a semester.  It happens at the point at which I realize that there is one class on my schedule that I have simply neglected to attend ALL SEMESTER.  As I never officially dropped the course, I am likely failing and can kiss the Dean's List goodbye.

Such traumatic experiences, right?

Well, as of last night I think I can add a new one to the list.

In this reverie, I find myself up in my townhouse with my father and my brothers.  It is morning and we are all waking up to discover that the place is a MESS.  Seriously.  My baby brother has painted all over the walls in my bedroom in some hideous pattern and there is junk everywhere.  In the closets, cupboards, on the floor.  You name it. 

All of a sudden, the horrifying truth dawns upon me:  I have sold this house.  Fear takes over as I realize that the new owners can arrive at any moment, and my stuff is still all over the place and the walls are trashed.  This is not the condition it was in for their final walk-through, and I am convinced that the whole deal will now fall through.  (Never mind that it is technically already sold.)

When I awoke, I had to tell myself several times before I stepped out of bed that it wasn't real.  I sold my house and every room was empty.  I double checked the closets twice.  There was absolutely no paint on the walls.

Even though I recovered this morning, I have a strong sense that this dream will visit again someday as it carries the same sense of fear, anxiety and panic that the others of this type have exhibited.  Perhaps someone trained in the science of dream interpretation could tell me what these scenarios say about me and my personality issues.  If you are such a person, please, before offering your two cents, stop and consider whether or not what you have to say will make the dreams stop or if they will just confirm that I am secretly an extremely neurotic person.

Tonight I am hoping for something a little lighter.  Maybe some nice, handsome man with an Australian accent.  Maybe with ice cream.  And a puppy. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cold enough for ya?

After a week that has been, quite frankly, somewhat surreal, I am excited to have a weekend to lay low and not move furniture.  The fact that I am not a property owner any longer has not completely sunk into my brain yet.  At least I don't believe it has.  It will probably not be fully realized until a full month has passed where I do not have to pay any of the associated bills.  Then I will party.

Today in Minnesota, it was pretty cold.  People might argue with me on that, but I didn't have to spend much time in it, thank goodness.  In a fit of boredom today, I hopped on to the website for the local newspaper.  Aside from my extreme annoyance at their amount of unnecessary pop-up ads, I find it to be a useful source of news/distractions.  Today, they had a reader poll asking whether people preferred weather such as we are experiencing right now or the 100 degree high humidity days of summer. 

It must have been a big day for idiots on the website, because the second choice was slightly ahead.  To be fair, asking such a pointed question in the midst of a cold snap probably creates some bias.  I would suspect that if asked the same question during the latter weather, the results would have been different.

Truly, I find complaints about cold in Minnesota winter to be a bit ridiculous.  This is how it is in this part of the country.  This isn't Florida.  It isn't Guatemala.  And it isn't Antarctica either.  In total, how many days out of the year must we endure extreme cold?  Probably less than 10.  Now think back to last summer.  How many of those miserable, sticky, hard-to-breathe days did we have?  Well more than 10 I would say.  So if you can't take the cold, get out of the tundra.  *Yes, I know this isn't the tundra, technically speaking.  Just go with it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survival of the fittest, but not the cutest

In my first day post-sale, I cannot say that I did anything really crazy.  I went to work, worked, came home, went to Norwegian.  And now I am home.

There was a little bit of excitement mid-day that caused a minor disturbance for me and a coworker.  I think it bears repeating.

So my colleague and I were seated in the company cafe/restaurant eating our lunches to enjoy some quality time away from our cubicles.  There is just something a little too disheartening about eating while staring at beige fabric walls.

Our office cafeteria is on the first floor of a large office building.  We are located off of two major highways, so it is a bit of a concrete jungle.  Not exactly scenic.  But we like to sit by the window and pretend that we are not in an office building.

Today as we ate, we noticed a slight movement at our window and were delighted to spy a small rodent-like creature about the size of a mouse hopping along in the snow.  We watched him pass and I gave a fleeting thought to the fact that he was out the in open and visible to more than just our watchful eyes.

Approximately one minute after our sighting, my dining companion gave a startled gasp.  I turned around and followed her gaze to see a fairly good sized hawk standing on the ground near the projected path of our furry friend.  This could not bode well for him, but we could not immediately discern whether or not the hawk had been successful.

Initially, I thought not, but it soon became apparent that I was wrong.  One of the men at the table behind us had noticed our alarm and had taken a closer look.  He confirmed that it indeed appeared that our rodent friend was no longer with us in the land of the living. 

Truthfully, this is not the sort of thing one wishes to witness while eating one's lunch, no matter how "natural" it is in the grand scheme of life.  It was so bothersome that my coworker and I quickly departed and returned to our cubicles, both quietly wishing to be home cuddling with our dogs of all things.

Will this be the worst thing I have to face this week?  I certainly hope that it will be.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A day to remember

To put it mildly, today has been long.  Not that there were truly more hours in it, but it felt like it might just never end.  Bear with me on this; there is a happy ending.

My alarm went off earlier today.  On purpose.  I am making up time for the fact that I had a dental appointment yesterday and arrived a little later than normal.  It really isn't too odious, but I am not a morning person, so any forced awakening prior to 11 a.m. is difficult for me.

Preparation itself was again ordinary.  On his way out the door, my father asked me to push the garbage and recycling to the end of the driveway for pick up.  I agreed to do so as it really isn't that long of a driveway. 

When the time came to perform my agreed upon task, I quickly discovered that I was wearing inappropriate footwear, mostly due to the fact that overnight the driveway had become a treacherous rink of glare ice and my work shoes are not equipped to provide traction on such a surface.  Grumbling under my breath something to the tune of "THIS is how I am going to die," and "I wonder how long it will take for someone to find my unconscious body," I changed into boots and completed the job. 

After my experience with the driveway, I was aware that the roads could be icy and drove carefully accordingly.  All was well until I neared the office.  I did manage to avoid the common ice trap at the traffic light to turn towards the building, but I, along with my coworkers, was not prepared for the patch of road immediately preceding our left hand turn into the parking garage.  Perplexed, I watched as three cars, all with left turn signals blinking, glided right on past the turn.

Then I stepped on my brakes. 

At that moment, all of my car's natural defense mechanisms kicked in: ABS brakes, vehicle stability control, autopilot, etc.  Essentially, I was no longer in control.  Thankfully I was not operating at a high speed, so I was able to slide to a relatively gentle stop up on the curb just past the turn.  With fingers crossed, I put the car into reverse and backed out.  Now with a better sense of the situation, I carefully pulled into the ramp and parked.  I briefly thought about how sad it was that I did not have any of my co-worker's phone numbers to call and warn them, but they are smart.  I knew they would figure it out.

The morning itself was uninspiring.  Work was work.  I had to make a large withdrawal and get cashier's checks from the bank which was not pleasant.  That is to say, the actual fact that I made a withdrawal was unpleasant.  The teller was perfectly polite and efficient.

For the rest of the morning until 11:30, I worked and fretted about the afternoon.  I checked my emails and voicemails a bit more often to see if there were any messages or new information pertaining to the rest of my day.  When none arrived, I departed for my hour long drive to Monticello.

I did make one stop along the way, to refill the gas tank, but thankfully I budgeted some extra time for this necessity.  I must have budgeted a bit too much because I arrived at the title company 30 minutes early.  Rather than wait in the car, I decided to make my presence known and get things started.  Imagine my surprise to see a sign on the door of the office indicating that the staff was out.  I reasoned that perhaps they were at lunch and would return soon.  I was, after all, early.

When I returned to my car, I fished out my phone to call my mom for a chat to pass the time.  This is when I found that I had a missed call and message from my realtor.  With a sense of trepidation, I played the message to discover (to my horror) that there was a problem.  The second mortgage lender (who happens to be my former employer) had not sent in their closing documents.  They claimed that they had not been told about the closing date (not true) and that the earliest they could have the documents out would be 4 p.m. (for a 1 p.m. closing).

Frantically, I called my realtor to get the full information.  She calmed me down and ran through several possible scenarios in which the closing could still happen today.  She had hoped to catch me before I made the journey up and took time off work, but alas, she was too late.  I opted to spend the next hour or so in my car calling my mother and friend to vent about the situation.  When my realtor called again to update me that it looked like it would indeed be 4 p.m. or not today, I decided to wait out the rest of my time at a coffee shop nearby.

After what felt like 8 hours but was really only 90 minutes, my dad called.  He was not yet aware of the delay, but it was nice to have a distraction as the 4 o'clock hour was upon me and I was anxious not to go home without giving away my house keys.

Thankfully, in the midst of my conversation with my father, a new call came through from the title company to say that the bank had sent the documents and we were set to close.  I drove back over and completed my part of the closing in 30 minutes.  I met my buyers, a very nice couple, and went on my merry way for the hour-long drive back to my parents' house.

So, in the end, it was a successful day.  I didn't die on the icy driveway, I didn't get stuck in a snow bank and I sold my house.  All are pretty major accomplishments, in my opinion, but if anyone asks why I am partaking in a glass of red wine, I will go with the house thing.  Time will tell how my life will now improve without the albatross of home ownership around my neck.  For now, I am just happy to drink my wine and go to bed.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Beware the seaweed

Tonight I did something abnormal.  Rather than let you guess what it was, I will give you the answer.  I ate sushi.  Not probably as cool or bizarre as you were hoping, but I definitely did not wake up this morning intending to consume sushi. 

I did, however, wake up this morning intending to meet my friend for dinner.  We had not yet selected a place; that act would not occur until almost the end of the working day when we decided to meet up in a specific suburb.  From there, she listed a few options and I selected a restaurant that just happens to also serve sushi.

To explain, I have had a complicated relationship with this foodstuff.  I understand the appeal, at least in theory.  My problem lies primarily in the consuming of said edible.  I am not one who enjoys choking down giant pieces of rice-laden chunks containing seaweed.  It is just too difficult.  Fortunately, my dinner partner is not the kind of person who judges others based on how they eat sushi, so I was able to use a knife and fork without criticism.

Unfortunately, I also forgot one of the other common side effects that comes with a meal such as this.  I suppose one could say that I have a hard time digesting seaweed.  As in, it makes my stomach feel funny and gives me gas.  Painful gas.  Too much information?  Just be glad you're not sitting next to me.

In other news, much is happening right now.  First, my brother and his girlfriend FINALLY got engaged.  I hope I am safe to announce it here, but as my readership is small and unlikely to post to their Facebook walls a public congratulations, I think I am fine.  Obviously, I am thrilled.  It has been a LONG time coming and I am excited that I am finally going to have a sister (in-law).  Plus, we get to go to Vermont.  In the fall.  Jealous?

As for other excitement, my house sale is scheduled to occur in one week.  The move-out process is ongoing, but I am confident that we will get it done this weekend and I can put it all behind me in seven days.  I have not yet decided how I will celebrate, but it probably should be memorable.

In stupid news, I received a Facebook friend request from someone I am not sure that I know.  Normally this would not be report-worthy news, but this person happens to have the same name as someone I went on a few dates with SIX OR SEVEN YEARS AGO.  To be fair, it is a common name, but I don't know any others, so it is possible that it was the winner I went out with after meeting him at an office party for a title company.  Either way, yuck.

Don't worry, I didn't accept his request.  In fact, when Facebook asked me if I knew this person outside of the request, I said NO and he is now barred from further attempts at contact.  Thank goodness.  It is a little weird when you consider that my profile picture is not of me, so how could he really know that he got it right?  I really need to update that thing.  After all, I am moving!

So on that note, I will bid you adieu.  Good night.  Farewell!  Be safe!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hvordan sier man "cut and foil?"

I would like to say that I am a calm person.  Laid back.  Not easily riled.

I would LIKE to say those things, but sadly I cannot for they are not true.

It may come as a shock to many or none to find out that I am not an easy going person.  Much of it may be covered by the fact that I appear shy or reserved at times, but make no mistake.  I obsess, I worry and I speculate every minute of the day.

Surprisingly, this does not translate into OCD.  Not at all.  Just as my mother.  I am not given to over cleanliness or bouts of organization.

All of this leads into the state of affairs at the moment for me.  After months (and months) of waiting, my house sale appears to be finally imminent.  It is literally scheduled and ready to happen on the 29th of this month.  As in two weeks from today.

With all the time I have had to prepare, you would think that I would have been ready to go at any second.  But all this time sort of made me forget about just how much I would have to do for the end game.

I have owned a house for over eight years.  Translation:  I have over eight years of crap accumulated in my house.  True, I am only one person and the space was somewhat limited.  But still, it is a lot of crap.

My first indication to this effect came last summer as we cleaned my house in preparation for listing.  Thank goodness my parents were willing to help me sort out and de-clutter or who knows how long it would have taken me to put the house on the market.  While we were successfully able to make the house appear clean and sparsely inhabited, we merely postponed the flood.

I knew it all along.  Really, I did.  But with the house staged for showing, there was not much I could do without making a total mess of it all.  So I waited.  Like Sauron, I bided my time until all the evil in my house would rise again and overrun the world.

On January 2, I received the word that the sale was approved and I knew it was time for action.  Many ideas and suggestions came about, but in the end I opted to rent a short term storage facility and throw the majority of my belongings inside.  The major obstacle to this was in the simple act of moving said belongings.

I may not be the wimpiest person alive, but I am certainly not capable of lifting and moving a ten foot couch or a queen sized mattress.  Neither are my parents, at least not individually.  Thankfully, I have a brother who has yet to turn 30 and decay into middle age like myself.  And again thankfully, he was willing to help.

So last weekend, after two weekends in a row in which I packed like a madwoman, my family drove up to the house and did the BIG move.  I took care of the details, like the storage unit rental and reserving the U-Haul.  There were some unexpected bumps along the way.  The truck which I had hoped to have ready for use at 8 a.m. on Saturday was not to be ready until noon.  Said same truck was also initially frozen shut at the pickup location.  Thank goodness for my dad and a metal file.

In a moment of rare foresight, I did manage to find a storage facility with an indoor heated loading dock which was a complete lifesaver.  Truly.  I think someone might have keeled over in exhaustion if we had to unload the entire 20 foot truck in the freezing cold after dark.

I am proud to say that we pulled it off and now there are only a few scant items remaining in my house.  With two weekends left to clear out, I am confident that I will be fully moved by the 29th and ready to hand over the keys.

With all that has been accomplished, one would think that I could relax.  Alas, no.  But I have come to accept this state of being for now.  It started up about a year ago and will only be really gone when all the paperwork is signed and I am no longer responsible for a mortgage.  If it seems a bit backwards to be this excited about not owning a house, it is.  But I have to take what I can get when it comes to clearing off my worry plate these days.

So for the next two weeks, keep your fingers crossed.  If all goes to plan, I intend to celebrate by getting my hair cut and colored before I start to look like a giant pile of grey split ends.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nothing says "special" like satin finish Scotch tape.

Hi hi hi!

The weekend is sadly almost over, but that's OK.  I spent most of mine in a non-relaxing form of activity, so I am actually happy to get to bed early tonight and start a normal work week.

Since I haven't written about it yet, this may come as a surprise to you, but I finally am approved to sell my house.  So it is all going down at the end of this month, and let me tell you something.  Moving is a bitch.  I do not recommend it, even when you can do it in a long and drawn out fashion as I am.

Last weekend I had a little overnight party at my place with Lena in which we boxed up my entire library and kitchen.  This weekend I returned to the scene for my last overnight in my house.  We boxed more stuff and hauled those boxes downstairs.  First thing this morning I personally carried my entire book collection downstairs.  All 24 boxes of it.  And then I kept going with the bins.

I realize that this is likely to leave me in considerable pain tomorrow as I am already hurting in the joints.  But the good news is that my closets are clear and the big move next weekend to the storage unit should be a bit easier.  This will be my first encounter with self-storage, so I am nervous and excited to find out what that entails.

After January 29, I will no longer be a home owner.  In many ways this is a dream come true.  Quite the opposite of what everyone else expects, but it is true.  Yet on several occasions this weekend I found myself reflecting on everything that happened in my life while living in my first place.  The parties, the weekends alone.  My one month with a roommate.  Housing two cars in my garage.  Getting my dog.

To be clear, it is not the house itself that has ever caused me any problems.  It has been wonderful to have a place to myself that feels like a sanctuary.  But it came at a price.  Literally, when you consider that I was financially tied to a mortgage that required I work and make an income sufficient to pay for it.  Less literally, it was the one thing that held me back when I started to consider new options for my life.

Obviously, the changes to the housing market over the past 6 or so years have had an effect on my freedom.  My sale terms are definitely not ideal, but my life has changed and I can no longer wait around for a better day. 

My hope is that once this whole transaction is behind me that my life will start to sort itself out again and perhaps I can consider taking on this blog with a more creative zest once again.  While I am sure some people might find entertainment in my life trials, I am sure there are many who would prefer I return to the days of drawing and lighter things.

Incidentally, I came across a box in my garage that contains notebooks and folders from my junior high years.  Most importantly, I found my art portfolio containing what is likely the best watercolor painting I have ever made.  It is too big to scan, but maybe once I have it out of storage someday I can work out a photograph to showcase its awesomeness.