Fetching Stanley… and the Keurig

I know, I know… for crying out loud when is the moving going to be DONE already? At least a few of you readers may be asking that question as I use this post to report that one, final trip must be made to gather the remainder of my things from my old house to bring them to the new one.

One of the items I need to collect is my Keurig coffee maker that I carelessly left behind. I have been without it for over a week and would be experiencing withdrawals were it not for the Starbucks right across the street. But the most important thing I left behind last week that I absolutely MUST return to fetch would be Stanley, the cat.

Poor Stanley has been living it up at my parents’ house where he is utterly and obscenely spoiled. In fact, I’m certain that after seven days he is certain that I’ve abandoned him and am no longer his human. He is probably operating under the false assumption that my parents are now his rightful slaves.

I’m afraid he has no idea how his world is about to be rocked.

Anyone who owns a cat or is owned by a cat (the latter probably being more accurately stated) knows that they are not fans of change. ANY kind of change. So, while I AM looking forward to having him with me in my new home… I am NOT looking forward to the production of bringing him to it. And IT WILL BE a dramatic production.

He will cry and cry and cry (even though he is mute he still makes the most pathetic, airy, squeaky sound you ever heard) until he is exhausted because he HATES riding in the car. And the crying will make me feel bad and I will worry myself into a frenzy.

Upon arrival at his new pad, he will slink around, belly to the ground, for a day and a half sniffing everything in sight and looking terrified. Around day two or three he should be relatively chill about the whole thing and find a nice place to sleep it off for the next three days where he’ll either reluctantly accept his new fate or plot some sort of revenge.

My only hope are the “herbal” calming chews that my father bought for Stanley at Christmas. I’ve given them to him before and it really does chill him out… This is, of course, assuming he doesn’t just eat around the chews—when I hide them in his food in order to trick him—or try to trick ME by pretending to eat them and then spit them out when I’m not looking.

Wish us luck and if all goes smoothly… I’ll live to write about it. And of course… OF COURSE I’ll be subjecting you sharing it with you just as soon as possible upon our return.


Form vs. Function

“OK, but if we get the shelves, are we going to actually use them to store stuff? Or will they be full of candles and picture frames and all of that decorative crap?” Lee queried in a recent discussion about living room decor.

“Well, I just want them to look nice. You see it’s not entirely about the function of a thing… the way it looks is equally important.” I stated in a somewhat desperate tone. Hoping not only to merely be understood… but to convince him that my way, was indeed, the right way.

You see, it is all a matter of form vs. function. And it is a topic that has entered probably 75% of our conversations as of late. I care about the form… The way things look, they way they feel, the mood, the tone, the overall aesthetic, etc. etc. But he, on the other hand, cares about ONE thing and one thing only. He cares about function… The way it works. And since he is a man, his thinking tends to be more black and white than my “various shades of gray” female thinking. Thus, in HIS mind… a thing either works or it doesn’t.

“… and if you do put the candles on that end table, are they going to be the candles you don’t burn but just sit there doing absolutely nothing besides ‘look pretty’?” Lee continued when the subject shifted from shelves to end tables. I couldn’t help but giggle as I wholeheartedly agreed that they WOULD be the candles which I do not burn. At last count I had around 30 of them. All sorts of different shapes, colors, shades, textures and sizes that are far too unique and look way too nice as room accents to EVER bring a match near their precious, little wicks.

“Those candles are very important decorative elements. I could never burn them. Besides, that’s what the Glade scented candles are for anyway.” I returned in my candle collection’s defense. I’m not sure when I’ll stop buying them. At the moment I have absolutely no idea where any of them actually are. Though I have a strong suspicion that they’re most likely packed away in a box or boxes labeled “FRAGILE – CANDLES.”

“… I don’t care if you want to put my favorite neck pillow and the remotes in one of your baskets (extra emphasis on the word BASKET because I also happen to have a million of those as well) … just please put them somewhere close enough for me to access them. I don’t want to have to take a taxi just to get to them.” He said as he mimed reaching down to grab a pretend remote and point it at the TV.

“Don’t worry,” I whispered in a soothing-but-sarcastic tone “no matter what I do, or where I put them… I’ll make sure you’re able to get to the remote without the use of public transportation.” And I smiled as I left the room.

Honestly? They probably WILL be in a basket or some other stylish container that I picked up at Target, Bath & Body Works, or the “Beyond” part of Bed, Bath and Beyond. And they WILL be easily accessible. But they will also look damn good while they’re sitting there.

A New Appreciation

I have no children for which to wash clothes, bathe, pack lunches or teach proper manners. I have taken on the temporary task of seeing to almost all things domestic whilst among the job-free population. I don’t cook much. I can, I just don’t. Which isn’t to say that I won’t… I just haven’t taken to it yet. The jury is currently out on how long it will take for THAT portion of the domestic goddess job description to kick in. Though, to my credit… this “domestic thing” is only into the third day.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.

My point is, relatively-speaking, my life is pretty easy. Though my back right now would disagree. Who knew that running up and down stairs all day, washing, drying and folding six loads of laundry, making up beds, moving boxes, running the vaccum and organizing closets and drawers could be so exhausting and physically demanding? And yes, I RAN. I figured if I’m going to be exerting myself like this I may as well get that heart rate up so I ran the stairs — every time. 

After spending years… literally YEARS seated in a comfy chair behind a desk for eight hours a day, slurping coffee with my feet resting comfortably on an ergonomically-correct foot stool… my thirty-something body is protesting this type of labor. And I’ll say it again: I AM NOT CHASING AFTER CHILDREN! So how do stay-at-home mothers do it all day, every day? Ladies, I have a whole new appreciation for you and your careers, what with the running of the households and the raising of the kidlets and all.

While I DO find it mentally exhilarating to be out from behind that desk for the time being… Physically, I had no idea what I was in for. As I compose this, my arms, legs, neck and back are aching and my stomach is growling because I refuse to change my eating habits and nibble all day just because I can.

But the pain I am feeling… it is a good kind of pain. It is the BEST kind of pain. It is the “I am doing something different” kind of pain. Who needs a special diet plan to knock the extra, unwelcomed 10 pounds off my ass anyway? I am hoping that several more trips up and down the stairs will help to send them packing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with two Aleve and a heating pad. And cheers to all of you domestic goddesses out there doing these sorts of things… and soooo much more.

140 Miles to 4 Feet

That is the approximate size of the distance gap that has existed between Lee and me for over two years. It is also the one that we closed yesterday when I pointed my car south and drove to my new home. I was greeted with a hello kiss and my very own garage door opener. And I thought the diamond was a big deal! Do not be deceived my friends. Though vastly less expensive—when all is said and done—a garage door opener always trumps a diamond.

We are learning that there are plenty of things to adjust to about being together under the same roof for 24/7/365 that we couldn’t possibly have known otherwise. Even as I type this, I am acutely aware of the fact that I am completely UNAWARE of the fact of how numerous these “things” actually are. I am just choosing to live blissfully in denial for now. How can I not when we currently just keep looking at one another, popping in and out of rooms and exclaiming HOW WONDERFUL it is to NOT be on the phone for an hour every night?

My job right now is to move into this previous bachelor pad and work on making it our home. Piece of cake, right? The towering boxes currently occupying BOTH parking spaces in the garage beg to differ. But I’m not gonna lie, it IS nice to make my own hours and show up for “work” in sweats and a tee.

I don’t mind trading out the ritual of catching up on email first thing in the morning with a yoga session in the living room. Or worrying about which drawers to place jeans in vs. socks. I love that I showered and put on make-up today for the sole purpose of shopping for a new pharmacy, choosing one from the four that lie within a one-mile radius of the house. (Oh yeah, and I did kinda want to look nice for my man when he came home from work too.)

If you’re at all envious due to any of the above statements… please don’t be. Make no mistake. This “honeymoon period” of getting acquainted with the neighborhood and new digs will soon end. It is then that the job search shall commence. An arduous task holding absolutely ZERO appeal. For that will be my full-time job until I sign my name on someone’s dotted line, promising to show up on time every morning and do my very best at whatever they ask of me for at least eight hours a day, five times a week in exchange for what I hope to be a nice, healthy paycheck… and some decent breakroom coffee.

But in the meantime, I think I’ll just enjoy my simple existence with a little psychic slumber and adjust to the new distance gap… as my purple yoga mat beckons and the cell phone sits silently on the table.

Pulling the Plug

JUST DO IT. How hard can it be? Just turn off the computer and pull the plug already! My mind yells at me as I take inventory of the last few boxes full of random things like bottles of half-empty nail polish, tanning cream, mis-matched socks, leftover lightbulbs, dusty cat toys and shirts I no longer wear because I forgot I even had them.

I’m at that point where I’ve begun taking those GIANT black garbage bags and filling them with stuff. The really, REALLY random stuff that I won’t even waste the words to mention. Except for those words… The ones I just typed…

Anyway, the house is empty. And for some strange reason it looks smaller than it did when it was filled with all my worldly possessions. Why is that? My footsteps echo through the vacant rooms and nail marks dot the expansive blank walls where my favorite things once hung. How could it possibly feel smaller when everything is gone?

Tomorrow I will start a brand new chapter as I officially move into my “new home” with my future husband and am surrounded by all of that “stuff” that made this place feel bigger. Somehow I suspect it will have the opposite effect in my new space…

Ahhhh the joy of stepping over and around boxes and digging through stacks of cardboard and Rubbermaid trying to find that sweater that I MUST have to wear with those jeans and so on. Searching with grave desperation for my favorite travel mug… sappy rom-com DVD… or the book in which I had 10 more pages left to read.

But it will all be worth it when I can—after two years of hour-long phone conversations every night, Skype marathons and seeing one another every other weekend—finally lay down on our couch and drift off to sleep, knowing that “goodbye” is a word no longer in our vocabulary.

September 11: 2,000 Miles Apart

I wrote the following story around September 11th of this past year—the 10th anniversary—but have not had the luxury of time to finish it until now. Although I know I could wait until September 11, 2012 to share it with you all… I feel like it doesn’t really matter. We all remember where we were that day. It is a topic that enters many, many conversations that I have with people to this day… on any given day of the year. It is an event none of us will soon forget and there are as many accounts of this infamous day as there are people on the planet.

This one is mine.

And hers. Thank you Jan for allowing me to share just a part of your story…

I was so proud of her for moving out of Ohio and embarking on an adventure all her own. With no job she decided to roll the dice, take a chance and move to New York City.

Brave girl, I thought. I admire her. I envy her. This experience will change her life forever… even if she winds up right back where she started… in the Buckeye State. She will have had the time of her life.

In the summer of 2001, she and a friend took an apartment in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district. Two blocks from the World Trade Center. Two blocks from what would soon become the site of the worst attack ever to occur on American soil. But of course, during the long, sunny days of summer in the city, the events of that fateful day couldn’t have been further from her mind.

Though job hunting, she still found plenty of time to go shopping and enjoy some big-city glam. I still remember the new clothes and trendy haircut she showed me once while we were both back on our home turf, visiting our families at the same time. She was a New Yorker now. And, as Carrie Bradshaw would say: She looked fabulous.

On a random, mid-September, Tuesday morning the sound and vibration from the first explosion woke her from a dead sleep. Eventually she made her way to the rooftop of her building to see what was happening. Not long after, another collision convinced her this was, indeed, not a dream. Fire and smoke and chaos reigned.

2,000 miles away in southern New Mexico it was a little after 6 a.m, Mountain Standard Time. I had gotten up like every other day, set my feet on the floor and flipped on the news. A plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers and, like many others, I thought it an accident and hoped no one had been seriously injured. That was, until I watched—on live television—a second plane smash into the other tower. I was immediately sick. I knew this was no accident.

On the drive to work the news informed me that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon and another into a field in Pennsylvania. Reports were also coming in that people had been spotted jumping from the twin towers. And it felt as though the sky was falling. In many ways… I suppose it really was.

My thoughts immediately turned to her.

I had no cell phone in 2001, so I began driving faster to the office to use the phone. Miraculously, when I rang her apartment, she answered—practically hysterical. Because of the news coverage here and the power outages there I quickly realized I was more aware of what was happening from a technical standpoint. She, much more aware than I of what was happening from a sensory one.

With 24-hour news coverage, instantaneous broadcasting, cell phones and the internet, technology had shrunken our world in such a way that even from 2,000 miles away I knew what was happening at the very same moment she was witnessing it. A voice yelled down my hallway: “The second tower just collapsed.” As I simultaneously heard her cry out the same words through the phone lines.

As she saw it begin to fall, her voice was gripped with terror and disbelief. She would soon report that her windows and view was becoming blackened from the overwhelming billows of ash rolling through the streets, swallowing everything in their path.

I told her that they were reporting for people to grab what they could from their homes, including towels or clothing to place over their mouths and noses and get out—NOW. We said our good-byes and hung up.

Later that night—from a hotel room in Albuquerque where I had traveled to on business—I spoke to her parents and found that she had safely arrived at a friend’s beach house on the Jersey shore. They had walked all the way there, relying on the kindness of strangers along the way to give them masks and bottles of fresh water.

And I thanked God she was OK. And as I later learned of all the people who never got to speak to their loved ones, let alone KNOW whether or not they were OK or gone forever… I thanked God that I was fortunate enough to speak to her in that life-changing moment from 2,000 miles away.

Jan and I at an Ohio State tailgating party. November, 2011


Residential Purgatory

“It’s weird being here without all of my stuff.” I said to Lee on the phone yesterday afternoon.

“It’s weird having your stuff all over my—I mean our—house without you here.” He returned.

It is official. Living in an empty house is depressing. All of my things are in my new home while only a few necessities remain here so that I can continue to exist having contact with the outside world as I tie up all of my loose ends.

After three days, I finally put my finger on it and found the right words. I feel as though I’m in residential purgatory. Now, I’m not catholic or anything so I don’t know much about purgatory per se… but from my limited understanding of it—it seems an appropriate term. I am merely waiting here in between appointments, lunches with friends and niece’s/nephew’s winter sporting events.

I know I mentioned this on the blog earlier but with nothing but a single bed, a 13″ TV, a stereo, one place setting of dishes, one set of silverware, a pot, a pan, a cheese grater and a computer with a lawn chair in front of it… I am beginning to feel like a bit of a squatter in my own home.

I loved this house the moment I saw it and it has done a great deal of restoration in me as previously noted in a post from last week. But I realize now that it isn’t so much the walls of the structure, but rather what they contain.

Pictures of my family, photo albums, journals, books, gifts, pieces of furniture and knick-knacks with special memories attached to them. These are the things that make up a home.

And if you’re lucky enough to have some or even one person also inside those walls who loves you, talks to and listens to you at the end of the day… well then that’s just gravy.

Everyone Has One

You know what they say about opinions, don’t you? Everyone has one. Everyone. And even if they don’t come right out and TELL you what it is… it’s typically written all over their face.

As I mopped up the remnants of the salt and snow still lingering on my hardwood floors from moving day, I reflected upon the array of varied encounters I’d just had at the local grocery store. Giving Kelly Clarkson and Kid Rock a run for their money as I boldly belted out and occasionally butchered their lyrics over the sound of the stereo… I shook my head, smiled and laughed to myself.

You’ve gotta love life in a small town. Or not. I don’t really care. It’s just that there are times when this unique existence is not for the faint of heart. Like, for example, when you’ve recently (and apparently shockingly to some) quit your “perfectly good job” to run off with some guy to the big city in pursuit of a brand NEW life. Just. Like. That.

It was a perfectly normal Tuesday afternoon in the booming metropolis of Minerva, Ohio (population 3,500… give or take) when I entered the grocery store in jeans and Uggs to buy some milk, cereal and cleaning supplies for the remainder of my time here. You know… to tie up loose ends, get my teeth cleaned, have lunch with a few friends and such before Stanley and I hit the interstate in search of concrete pastures.

I wasn’t even inside the automatic doors when I received my first interrogation. The second came in the produce department, another in the chip aisle and still another in frozen foods. Everyone… Everyone seemed bent on me answering three questions: Did you take the day off from work? Do you have a job yet in the city? Have you set a date?

Did you notice in my account of these interractions that no one… NOT ONE PERSON asked me if I was happy or excited about my engagement and new adventure? Everyone just sort of looked at me with scowls of confusion, concern or disbelief. Perhaps even shock and awe as they each, one by one—in the entryway, produce department, chip aisle and frozen foods—tilted their heads to the side as if to say: “Huh. I hear the words that are coming out of your mouth but I have no clue as to what you’re actually saying.”

Now what they really said to me was some version of: “Well then, my very best to you dear. Tell your parents I said hi.” And I happily pushed my cart forward… straight into the grasp of the next, fun, little Q&A’s. The future batch of opinions that will surely be waiting for me…

… At the check-out counter… in the parking lot… at the gas pump… the teller window… the waiting room…

The Last Day

When you’re actively employed—waking up early to the nagging of the alarm clock and slogging to work day after day—one cannot help but imagine that the day will inevitably come that is their “Last Day of Work.” Whether it be to retire, begin a new job or explore a life/career change… we imagine it will be miraculous and glorious with the choirs of angels singing and the clouds parting and all that jazz.

Well, dear friends and readers… today is that day for me and so far there are no choirs of angels or parting of clouds. Now, bear in mind that I have never and I mean NEVER left a position without another similar or better position waiting in the wings. Or at the very least several promising interviews on the books and resumes scattering the earth like propaganda leaflets being dropped by plane.

I have always worked. Since I was 15 years old I have held down at least one and as many as four different jobs at a time. So I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be leaving a job with a generous, comprehensive benefits package behind in pursuit of “whatever happens.” But this time… THIS time is unique.

This time I have a supportive and encouraging man in my life who sees my full potential and recognizes that “it will be OK” if I don’t find that dream replacement job tomorrow. Words cannot express the peace and joy with which his calm confidence fills me.

In the interim, my plan is to try my hand at domesticity. (Please pick up reading wherever you left off after the laughter has stopped.) Martha Stewart I am not, but that doesn’t mean I cannot learn the artful ways of the domestic goddess. Right? You’re still laughing aren’t you? Until the dream job comes calling I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity to get back in shape and keep a home. I’m serious.

Ten of the 50 pounds I recently lost have moved back in and taken up residency on my ass and both of us abhor the wallpaper in the living and dining rooms. It’s officially time to tackle my fear of the oven and its cousin, the stove. My wardrobe needs a good looking over and some serious organization.

The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll miss the office gossip, dressing up for work each day and talking to other professionals… but I suspect there will likely be a bit of a honeymoon period for me, my sweats, my yoga mat and the cat. I promise to take as many of you who care (or dare) to join me along on this new expedition—and with the whole domestic goddess goal in the mix—I can also promise that it shan’t be boring.

The Space Between

Our new shower rod was resting on the dining room table along side Christmas presents, gloves and our newest stack of purchases from the local used book store. Wrapping paper, ribbons and holiday bags were strewn about the hallway in what can only be described as the result of a full-blown holiday fury. New lamps and old, skirted the edges of the living room as the “appropriate decorative illumination” deliberations entered into their second day. As far as I was concerned, nothing seemed to be in its “place” and it was driving me crazy.

You see, this wasn’t yet my house… but it soon would be. None of my things were there… but they soon would be. My mind was swimming with questions and concerns: Where will I put my favorite side table? Will my throw pillows match his couch? Man I wish I had my Keurig… and my favorite flannel pjs… my down pillows… my DVDs… and Stanley.

During the transition from an old life to a new one, there is a space that lies between. This is where I found myself then and even though I can see the other side from where I am now—as I inch ever-closer day by day—I’m still standing on the bridge over the gap.

Within the gap there are some everyday things that inevitably get caught in the cracks between the transitions we make in our lives. Things like misplaced shower rods, bagels and laundry laying where they aren’t supposed to be along with mixed-up emotions lacking any proper explanation. Yesterday, I was reminded by a beautiful writer in her recent post about a personal life transition just how out-of-whack life seems in the midst of major change.

No matter what our journeys look like. No matter our transitions… be it a career change, a new baby, a relocation, a tragic loss or the beginning or ending of a vital relationship… there will always be the transition and that awkward space between when we’re bound to feel out of place, discovering our “things” in odd locations where it seems they don’t belong.