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Archive for November, 2010

Extra Credit

Hey, remember when mentioned my friend who had told me that she thought I lived my life as if I got extra credit for complexity? I am blowing the effing curve with my extra credit these days.

Here’s what’s going on:

We moved Thursday, everything going into storage, except for a few suitcases each – just enough stuff to get us through the next month or so. We slept at a friend’s house that night, and then closed on our house on Friday. (I worked both Thursday and Friday. Because, you know, why not.)

Saturday morning, after 2 hours of sleep, we got up and headed to the airport for an early AM flight out to Denver. We spent 24 hours looking at rental possibilities, and then drastically rescaled our plan from “rent for a year” to “buy now, immediately”, because if there is one thing that has never gone wrong, it is snap judgment real estate decisions.

Returned to Dulles Sunday night, just in time for a reunion with our IMCdA training partners, where we watched *two hour* video my friend had put together from snapshots and videos of the race. That’s right – she got two hours of footage from 1 day. She is amazing, and that video reminded me of many warm memories of IM training and racing, and confirmed that, yes, I’ll probably do something stupid like that again.

We headed back into DC from Dulles to move our stuff OUT of my friend’s house (last minute change in her plans), and from there I headed up to Baltimore (getting in around midnight), where I crashed at an airport hotel so I could get up for a 6am flight out of BWI the next day.

Got into Florida mid day Monday, drove two hours to where I would eventually meet up with my family. Worked for a few hours, then drove two hours back to the airport to pick up my brother, arriving at the airport at exactly 8pm…which was a little unfortunate, considering his flight got in around 10pm. Whoops. So I slept in my car for two hours, grateful for the extra time to sleep. Then we drove two hours back to the house.

Mike got in Thursday with my stepdaughter (cue up another two hour trip back to the airport), and then we drove a few hours across the state of Florida to his parent’s time share for a few days, after which we drove back across the state of Florida, to different airports, and headed home.

I got into Baltimore Saturday night around midnight and then proceeded to drive directly to my aunt’s house in DC. She graciously put me up for the night, despite having her two grandsons + kids in residence. Sunday morning Mike drove back from Jersey, we relocated to our friend’s spare apartment*, picked up our dog, and, well, here I am.

(*English basement in her row house. We could not be luckier: it’s finished, furnished, and empty. So nice to be a guest in someone’s home without literally being a guest IN their home, you know?)

By my count I’ve slept in 7 different beds since selling my house a week and a half ago, and I think I have, at minimum, at least 3 more to go before we’re done. I know this is just a blip on the radar in terms of, you know, an entire life and all, but being so transient during the holidays, when everything around you screams “NEST!” has worn on me more than I thought it would.

But no worries. I’ve got my little family, and we’ve gotten good at nesting with each other, wherever we happen to end up. And I have the unexpected side bonus of not being able to blow money on the Black Friday deals going on, what with having nowhere to store anything. So between the money saving and the extra credit for life complexity, in the overall game of “Win this!”, I think I’m ahead, right?

 

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Running With Moose

My dog does not love to run. Oh, he loves to chase, but not run. However, he’s being trained on Search and Rescue skills, and his biggest detractor right now is his stamina, which his two Ironman (retired) parent’s simply cannot have. So. We run.

Oh my goodness, he hates it. He’s a good runner, as dogs go, in that he stays right on my side and doesn’t stop to sniff or pull in one direction or another; he’ll go where I’m going, and trudges along, but man can he pull a bitch face. During any given run he looks back at me at frequently intervals, with a “So… we’re just going to keep running, then? Like, that’s all we’re doing here. Running. To get somewhere. And then we’re just going to turn around and run…home. And this is…this is by choice, right? We’re just going to run. And – I’m sorry, but let me be clear – at no point will there be a tennis ball thrown or a squirrel to be chased? Is that correct? I mean, for real, we’re just….running. For…fun. Ok. Huh. Sure. Really? JUST running?”

YES DOG. WE ARE JUST RUNNING. FOR FUN. God, kids these days, right?

No worries, though. I’ll show him. See, the way I figure it, everyone feels this way about running in the beginning. But running sucks you in and Stockholm syndromes you into thinking it’s fun and awesome and good for you and then before you know it he’ll be bugging me for a Garmin and tracking his workouts and logging his time and discussing  post run fueling techniques and oh God. He’s going to turn into his father.

Whoops.

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I just finished a wonderful book – The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

(I admit that is not the most accessible sounding name, but this is a lovely little treat of a book, and you should go read it, right now)

This book is written entirely as letters back and forth from the main characters, and one of my favorite moments came in the first five pages: an author in London (Juliet) writes to her publisher a post-script: “PS I am reading the collected correspondence of Mrs. Montague. Do you know what that dismal woman wrote to Jane Carlyle? ‘My dear little Jane, everybody is born with a vocation, and yours is to write charming little notes.’ I hope Jane spat on her.” The publisher, in the next letter, responds in his own post script: “P.S. You write charming little notes”

Another favorite moment:

We read books talked about books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another… our evening together became bright, lovely times

****

Four years ago, my friend decided she wanted to start a book club, and off it went. At the time we were all unmarried, childless, Ironman training athletes…now we’ve got 5 (I think?) babies, one on the way, one stepdaughter, countless weddings, and life keeps going on. Book club is once a month, a date picked in advance, thrown on calendars, and generally well attended; it’s been a wonderful constant meet-up in a world where we all get too busy to remember to check in. Evenings do indeed become bright, lovely times.

****

I recognize that it’s a little unrealistic to try to fly back to D.C. once a month for book club, but I’m honestly wondering how unrealistic is it, really? (I mean, I know how unrealistic: very). Part of the joy of bookclub is the no hassle way of getting to see your friends; flying from Colorado is not exactly no-hassle. But I’ll miss my friends, and their charming little notes, and find myself wondering what it would be like to pop in and out and get my fix of their company.

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Veteran’s Day

There’s a quote I want to share from a book I read years ago, but I’m in the middle of moving hell and I can barely find my dog among the boxes let along a singular book, so I’ll just have to paraphrase.  It’s from “Black Hawk Down,” and in the epilogue, the author discusses what it must be like for the Army Rangers in the book, what prompted them to enlist, train, stay in the military. He says: “They have to trust their government will not risk their lives for too little”

That’s a helluva lot of trust, and yet I see it everyday; apparently I actually have this trust, because I trust that the government won’t risk Mike’s life for too little, or the lives of our friends who serve, or any of the number of people I know who have joined up, and continue to join, again and again.

I don’t think anyone joins the military without first considering if it is right for them personally, without thinking “what can the military do for me“; serving in the military is not an exclusively selfless activity. But it is service, and regardless of the benefits one may experience personally, and the job by it’s nature is done to benefit something other than yourself, and I guess you just have to trust that the cost of that service is worth it.

This past spring I got the chance to work with wounded veterans, and I found myself wondering if the horror of losing a limb is made better or worse if that loss is done in service to a cause. What a horrible question; I don’t think the gradients of “better” or “worse” really apply when you lose a leg, but the reality is I spent a week with a huge group of men and women, most under the age of 23, whose lives had been irrevocably altered as a result of their choosing to serve their country, and I have to wonder if they felt that the cost of service was worth it. I hope they do; I hope they don’t think their loss is in vain.

Mike going back into active duty  has changed our life a lot, but it was the right thing to do, for him, and for us. The work he does means something to him, and just as importantly, the community he works with means something to him. As far as picking a job goes, this is the right job for him. But it does come at a cost, (see also: 2008 deployment and results thereof) and I’m glad there is a day like today, where we can pause and say “Thank You.”

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It Got Better

This past Friday, my dear friend Chris married his boyfriend, Phillip.

I don’t want to discuss their wedding in marriage in terms of politics, because… it’s their wedding. It’s not a statement. But given this time in history, it feels weird to ignore it. Given this, I hope you’ll forgive me if I share with you a portion of the Best Man’s toast, a statement that so beautifully tied together the common theme of hope and dreams that accompanies both marriage and political change:

So maybe if I can’t talk about Philip and Chris, I can talk about dreams.

Because dreams are extraordinary things.  They take us places that go beyond conscious imagination.  And we certainly are beyond what we could have ever consciously imagined.  For someone has said not only that he LIKES Chris, but that he loves him.  And that is extraordinary. [Ed. Note: snerk!]

And what we have gathered for together today, is really extraordinary, and up until recently, would have been beyond our dreams.

I’d like to read to you a passage.

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations.

Barred access to the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community’s most rewarding and cherished institutions. That exclusion is incompatible with the constitutional principles of respect for individual autonomy and equality under law.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2004.

Only 6 years ago in the United States, it was, for the most of us, beyond our dreams that two men would be able to make the commitment embodied in marriage and assume the obligations.   Yet here we are, living beyond our dreams.

There’s been so much talk lately of “It Gets Better.” And there should be; it does get better. It got better right before my eyes, this past Friday night.

I’m so happy for my friends. I hope they continue to live well, well beyond their dreams.

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So I’ve been hesitating throwing this out to the Internet, because it seems like there are so many different ways things like this can go wrong, but um, my house? The one I love so much and never want to leave? Is under contract.

Assuming all goes according to plan* the new owners will close on November 19th. Like, you know, in 19 days.

(*don’t fuck with me here, Universe: I’m fragile right now. Let’s stick with the plan, mmmkay?)

So! “What are our plans?” I hear you asking. I’m so glad you did! I cannot wait to tell you about them!

Except for: we have no plans.

Correction: we have about five different plans, all with moving parts, and all somewhat slightly out of our control. But for right now, the most current plan is: I stay in DC through December 4th, at which point I head up to New York for my grandmother’s 90th birthday party. Immediately following that party, I tuck tail and run myself and the dog back to Minnesota, where we will live out the age-old dream of moving back in with one’s parents.

Well, that’s slightly unfair. My parents are quite awesome, we get along great, and I’ve actually been wishing for a few years now that I lived closer to them. To be honest, I’m slightly concerned that when I go to *leave* their house I’m going to be all “Mommy don’t make me  leeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaavvve

But anyway: good fences make good neighbors and all that, and I find myself thrilled that I have parents who will both take me *and* kick me out again.

So! I’ll kick around Minnesota for a month or so (Moving to Minnesota in December: I’ve made smarter decisions, y’all), waiting for Mike to finish up some D.C. based USMC stuff, and from there we’ll move forward on one of a few plans, which could include going to California for USMC stuff or going to Colorado for other USMC stuff. Colorado is where we are looking to end up at the end of this go round, and I look very forward to getting there and settled at some point.

It is about this point where I give a million thanks to my current job, which can be done remotely, which allows for a lot of this shuffling around and plan-lessness. I still have to travel for work, but for the most part I am confining my whereabouts to cities with major airports, so it’s all doable.

Things I am worried about, regardless of likelihood of occurrence, in no particular order:

  • Being lonely once I leave the city I’ve lived in for almost 12 years
  • My job unexpectedly imploding, making current plan of “homelessness” much less convenient
  • Going slightly crazy as a homebody who is without home
  • Having everything I own in storage for an unknown number of months, and only realizing once it’s too late that I’ve packed THE ONE THING I cannot live without
  • Disliking Colorado.
  • Up-ending our entire lifestyle in large part to raise our kids the way we want … and discovering that we are unable to have children
  • Minnesota winter killing my will to live

Hmm. That list is actually slightly worrisome, but I should stress that I have no real reason to think any of those things will come to pass (except for the one about packing whatever it is I need, because, I mean: come on. That is so going to happen), and the good things resulting from this move are very good indeed. So, on the balance, though I’m sad about leaving the known and comfortable, I’m excited about taking steps to get us both closer to the life we’ve planned for and talked about.

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