Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Long Time No Post

Oh my goodness! Has it really been nearly two months since I posted anything of substance? Time really got away from me when I quit my job. As it turned out, I ended up going over my end date. That was my fault since I should have stopped working with clients earlier than what I did to give myself time to get all of my personal effects together. I said I was going to be out on Thursday, August 13th but I worked most of Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th. Cleaning out my office and shoring up my files was a miserable process. I will do better should I ever be in that position again.
Let's get back on track with some news. I have some great news and some very sad news. I'll start with the sad news. During the first week of classes, Girl Cat peed on the floor outside the litter box. Peeing outside the box is not uncommon in cats but it always makes me uneasy. Peeing outside the box can be a sign of something bigger. I question, "What did I do differently?", "Did I use something in the box she didn't like?", "Is this behavioral?", "Is she sick?", "What happened?". I expected the vet to come in and tell me that this was yet another urinary tract infection. Sadly, it turns out Girl Cat is in the early stages of renal failure. Evidently, by the time the condition shows in a test, a cat has already lost some of their kidney function. I continue to be utterly devastated by the news. I can't even think about her situation without welling up. Axl chastises me because he says I act like putting her down is something I have to do tomorrow when, happily, the vet says Girl Cat can live comfortably for some time (possibly years) before I have to make my hard decisions. Currently, she gets to eat special food that is low in sodium. She's the house princess so I'm sure getting to eat separately from her brothers suits her. Here's a picture of the princess herself a few years back.
Now for some good news. The cardiologist's physicians assistant called me on the 12th of August to say that the cardiologist had reviewed and finalized my test results and that I do not have a Patent Foramen Ovale. In fact, I do not have a hole in my heart at all. While that is wonderful news, I was well and truly upset that the cardiologist never told me that diagnosis he gave me was only preliminary. Personally, I think he goofed. I think either: A) He read the test and really thought he saw a PFO or B) He read someone else's test thinking it was mine. After all, it was an absolute madhouse in his office the day of my test. When the physician's assistant called me back to give me my test results, I wasn't in the room two minutes that the cardiologist got a phone call and had to leave the room. The physician's assistant was left waiting with me. She stood around shifting her weight foot to foot awkwardly then left the room without much excuse. When the cardiologist came back, he continued on without her. He told me to follow up with my primary care physician and to tell her to put me on beta blockers. As a result, when the physician's assistant called to tell me that I was fine, I had been taking beta blockers and baby aspirin for about a week. Let me say, I'm glad I didn't retract my resignation as I had debated doing. It also does not please me to have an ugly medical bill for something it now feels like my primary care physician should not have ordered as quickly as what she did. I'm happy to be alright but I'm off doctors for awhile.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm Not Gone

I am working on a proper post about everything that happened in August. Sorry for the delay!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Peace In The Valley

Though they haven't gotten past chasing (the dog) and hissing (the cats) at each other completely, this was nice to see today:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Patent Foramen Ovale

Yesterday, I had an echocardiogram and something called a "bubble". To do a bubble, you have an iv put in your arm and bubbles are injected into the iv four different times: the first time you are just injected with the bubbles, the second time they inject the bubbles while you cough, the third time they inject the bubbles while you sniff and the fourth time they inject the bubbles while you bear down. If the bubbles go from one side of your heart to the other then you know there is a hole in your heart.

The results were yesterday that I do have a hole in my heart that is called a Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO. A PFO is less risky to have than atrial septal defect (what my primary care physician sent me to the cardiologist to be tested for). I don't have atrial septal defect nor mitrovalve prolapse (the second thing the primary care physician wanted me tested for).

The PFO is what is causing my migraines because the flap of tissue that normally closes shut over the PFO (which everyone has in the womb) at birth comes open on my heart and allows blood and hormones and body gasses to escape up to my brain. I am not allowed to go scuba diving ever and if I take long trips in the car or by plane I absolutely have to get up and walk around because if I get a blood clot it could go to my brain and cause a stroke. The biggest concern with PFO's is that they make you more susceptible to stroke. I'm not happy about that but of what it could have been, that's not as terrible.

For now, the doctor wants me to see my primary care physician and get on beta blockers and another med to keep stress hormones away from my heart and to see if that causes my migraines to go away. If it does, great. If it doesn't, when the doctor sees me again in a year he will enter me in a study where they will put in the umbrella that closes the hole. The catch is, I won't know for a year if they actually closed the hole or if they just pretended to close it. After a year's time, the results of the study get released and if you actually didn't have the umbrella put in, then the company pays for you to get the procedure done.

I have mixed feelings about the results. While I am happy not to have atrial septal defect, now I worry about whether I should petition to get the hole closed right away.

Monday, August 3, 2009

He's Grown On Me

Very early on in Axl's and my relationship, his dog bit me on the foot. I thought there was no way we were ever going to be able to share a home because Dog has a lot of "rules". For example, the never put your feet near Dog when he's laying on the bed or he will bite you because he thinks you're trying to kick him rule. I'm not used to having to be so careful around a dog. I guess it's "little dog syndrome"? Nevertheless, all these months later I can't resist his little mug.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Tense Week

Monday: Got coffee with D. I always look forward to hanging out with her. Dear Starbucks, we enjoy visiting your patio but your seating is highly uncomfortable for long-term chatting of any kind.

Tuesday: Worked my first shift at the new job. Felt a little like Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz in Ghosbusters when someone would answer the phone.

"We got one!"

Wednesday: Worked both jobs. I find I hate being at my day job now that I've resigned. I can see they are not going to hire someone before I go. I almost wish I'd given them two weeks notice instead of a month.

Thursday: Sucked. My (soon to be ex) boss told me she thought a social work degree indicated a commitment to a certain type of work. She is very casual in her delivery of comments such as this and the insensitivity of her words always hits me like a slap in the face. Axl spent the day defending his thesis which meant that we were both grumpy by the time we got home. In the evening, he went to visit a friend and I went to the coffee shop for some girl time and knitting with RWKN and C. I should say that they knit and I fretted and cast on and tore out stitches instead of accomplishing anything. I was glad I went out though because it brought me out of the pissed off mood I was in just sitting at home.

Friday: Looking forward to getting finished at work, going home, and doing some things I want to do this weekend which is what I need most. I hope you get to do what you want and need to do most this weekend too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Monday: Found out that COBRA is going to cost about $528.00 a month. Considered taking back my resignation and delaying going back to school by a semester. Axl says no, that we will work it out somehow and to keep my plans. Such a gem, he is. I couldn't do this without him.
Tuesday: Scheduled an appointment with the cardiologist. August 5th, it is. I'm trying not to bite my nails while I wait. I just want to know what I'm dealing with already.
Wednesday: Went to the mall after work with Axl to return the Posie Tint I purchased over the weekend. In the store, Posie Tint looked like it was going to be my new makeup best friend. I'm so pale and this product livened me up a bit. At home, victim of poor lighting in the bathroom, I may have applied a little more than I should because I looked like I'd been slapped. Plus, the tint settled into my blemishes in such a way that I suddenly had little red freckles. *sigh*
Thursday: Training day at my new part-time job. Some of the girls in the lab were frosty but other than that I liked it. I had three practice sessions and was told each time that I'd done a good job.
Today: We've discussed going to see a punkabilly band tonight. If we do, it will be fun to put on a dress and get dolled up. If we don't, vegging out on the couch sounds devine.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Discovery


I just had to share the sweetness of My Milk Toof with you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Matters Of The Heart

When our move began, I would jot down notes for post topics and when I would revisit the list later the topics would feel like ancient history. Time is flying by faster than I can blog about it. Here are some recent highlights:
On Monday, I resigned from my job. My boss took the news well. She stated that she is excited for me, that I've done a good job for the agency, and that she understood that my job is an entry level position with no opportunity for advancement. My last day at my job will be August 13. The same day I resigned, I received a call to interview with the local university for a survey research position I'd applied for in June. I interviewed on Tuesday and was hired. Hooray! I have a part-time job that fits around my school schedule for this fall. I am hugely relieved by all of this.

Previous to my good news, I had a tiny scare around the fourth of July when I thought I might have a blood clot forming in my left leg. I'd had a persistent squeezing sensation (think of how it feels to have your blood pressure taken) and pain behind my knee so I went to see my general practitioner. She ordered an ultrasound of my legs and, very thankfully, I was told the test came back just fine. Still, what caused my symptoms? I was stymied when my general practitioner didn't follow up with me. As I was commenting about this to a friend (J.), she said I should see her doctor because her doctor is very thorough and has a great bedside manner. I am forever bitching that my general practitioner and ob/gyn aren't thorough enough so I made an appointment with J.'s doctor. My first appointment was this morning and wow! Dr. M discovered I have a heart murmur possibly caused by something called atrial septal defect (asd) and she thinks she heard the clicking noise associated with mitrovalve prolapse. Dr. M is recommending me to see a cardiologist at the university to have an ultrasound of my heart. This cardiologist has found a link between asd and migraines, which I also have. Am I scared? A little. When I read about asd online, every article mentions frightening complications. For example, there is a complication called Eisenmenger's syndrome that generally results in death by age 40. I'm assuming (read: hoping) that is only if Eisenmenger's goes undiagnosed before age 40. Ultimately, I figure it is better to be hearing I have a heart murmur/asd and mitrovalve prolapse now while something can still be done about it than later when my activities of daily living may be impaired by it. Having asd would certainly explain some things I've noticed through the years (unusual tiredness after physical activity, heart palpitations, fainting and migraines from a young age on up). In addition to sending me to see the cardiologist, Dr. M ordered a battery of blood work that will show if I am susceptible to any clotting disorders. Since I am adopted, I don't know much about my birth family's health history and Dr. M. felt that by having this test we could put to rest any questions we both have about whether I am at risk for blood clots or stroke. Though I am excited by this turn of events, I am also concerned about my upcoming lack of insurance since I might possibly need surgery to close the hole in my heart. Hopefully, I can do some sort of COBRA thing.

Anyway, this is why my posts are infrequent as of late. I am as distracted as distracted can be.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome To My Party

On Saturday, Axl called me to say he was at a garage sale and having a terrible time keeping folks away from a major vintage hat score. A man had already bought the marching band hat and top hat that were for sale and was now reaching for the hats Axl had his eye on so Axl stepped up and said, "How much for all of these?" and, luckily, the man backed off. Now, Axl was just waiting for me to arrive and pay the good woman selling them. Oh my goodness! Look! What a great treat to wake up to! I think there are about 21 hats total. Thanks, Babe, for the good looking out.







Thursday, July 2, 2009

You Never Expect What You Don't Plan For


Imagine my surprise today when I did the final walk through with my landlord’s maintenance guy and he got down on his hands and knees to sniff the carpet. I did a mental "Thanks." to the Universe for giving me the foresight to Febreeze. Maintenance Guy wrote down on his form that he detected a “very, very, very slight pet odor” but that it didn’t seem to be coming from the carpet and I thought to myself, “If it’s that slight, why even mark it down?” After 2 years and nine months at a place, I figure that a very, very, very slight pet odor is remarkable. I had the place so clean you could eat off the floor. I’m not saying you would but you could. That’s usually enough when it comes to walk throughs.

My biggest disappointment came when Maintenance Guy tested the smoke detector and it didn’t go off. That damn smoke detector has gone off every time I’ve had the oven on in the last six months and it gave up the ghost on walk through day? Wtf?!? So, he told me they might charge me for the battery and you know landlords, they won’t charge me the going rate for a 9-volt battery. I’ve never in my life been counted off for a smoke detector battery.

Let’s hope they see reason and give me my full deposit back.

*Sigh*

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Program


Goodbye, Old Apartment. Thanks for being there.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Made Of People!

Just a little update. Me and the kitties (I have three) stayed the night at the new apartment last night. I woke up several times in the night to the sound of people entering the apartments around me and I jumped out of my skin the first time the church bells chimed nearby but all in all not too shabby. There was the sound of a car accident at one point that startled me but, as Axl pointed out, once the television is connected the noise from it playing will drown out a lot of that sort of thing. The kitties seem to like the new place better already. I'm sure there is more for them to do here since I don't have to keep the place buttoned up like Fort Knox as I did at the old place. I've honestly missed living up a story or two. First floor living has its conveniences but being able to leave the curtains open without fear of someone scoping out your shit for a later break-in is much better. The cats love the large windowsills at the new place and spent most of today hopping up in them to look outside. Now, I do have to share with you the grossest thing ever. Earlier today, the maintenance man came to replace the garbage disposal. To his surprise and mine, when he took out the old disposal it was full of cat litter. Nasty! Who puts cat litter down the sink?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Busy As A Bee



If I go quiet, don't become concerned. We started moving to our new place last week and I have intermittent internet access.

Picture found here

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ikea Comes Through!

The day before yesterday, Axl and I thought our dreams of sitting together comfortably on a couch were dashed. The trouble was, we could buy the two couch pieces we wanted but only one of the slipcovers. It was that last slipcover that was holding us up. To our surprise, Ikea doesn't ship store to store. So, even though we could see online that other stores had the slipcover we needed in stock, we had no way to get one other than to drive to another state. Tempting, but not feasible. Axl persisted with Ikea's customer service and managed to find out that one of the stores will ship outside its store. God bless 'em. We have our couch!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Meh!

We just found out that the Ikea Tylosand couch we want is being discontinued and that the Ikea we buy from only has pieces and parts of it. We are so disappointed. I know, I know...not getting the couch you want is not that big of a deal in the big picture scheme of things but, as a couple who has never known the joy of sitting next to one another comfortably to watch a movie, it sure has us bummed.

Old Fashioned Candy


When Axl took me to Jungle Jim's for the first time, he had no idea the can of worms he was opening. From their candy isle, he plucked a Sky Bar and I was immediately hooked. How had I never had this treat before? Each of the four bricks of milk chocolate filled with a different flavor. Caramel! Vanilla! Peanut! Fudge! It became a pursuit of mine to find them in town and lo and behold! Of all places, I found my beloved Sky Bar last night at Cracker Barrel.
I also saw this guy which I am very curious about:

I still have not found a source for these which I am desirous of since I haven't tried them yet. It doesn't hurt that I also love the band of the same name.:

Get yourself over to your local Cracker Barrel for some old fashioned candy. Mine had a lot to choose from and I felt like a dolt for forgetting they sell candy. I won't say the prices are old fashioned but if you're craving a treat from the past, at least you won't have to just remember it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Excited About


Ikea Malm bed in medium brown


Ikea Tylosand sofa in rephalt brown

*updated to add at 1:45 p.m.: These are what we have picked out for the new place!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It Was Not A "3D Ride To Hell".

Last night, D. and I watched My Bloody Valentine 3D. We rented the movie at Blockbuster and were given the option of purchasing cardboard 3D glasses, which we took advantage of (at fifteen cents a piece, no biggie). I don't know if it was Blockbuster's glasses or my tiny t.v. but the 3D effect was lost to us. Still, as D. said, "We've seen worse." I can't say I understand what the hype is about this movie. It was good but in my opinion it was not "the best 3D horror film of all time" as the box claimed "the best 3-D horror film ever made" as the quote on the box from Devin Faraci at CHUD.COM claimed.

It does star hunky Jensen Ackles from the CW Television Network's Supernatural which is an entertaining show not just for its hunky leads. In my opinion, Jensen Ackles is a more than decent actor so I was surprised to see him do a campy horror flick. Not to mention, he doesn't quite pull off that teenaged look, you know? Since he's not teenaged and all? I won't let Jensen get all my ire. Some of the other actors and actresses got their fair share of mocking while we watched the film. I did like that the director filmed some of the scenes from angles reminiscient of other horror movies such as Halloween and Friday the 13th but I don't know if that was on purpose or just a happy accident. I also liked that the movie didn't mess around. Folks started getting the business end of a pick ax almost immediately. The story line (without giving anything away) goes something like this: On Valentine's Day ten years ago, there was an accident in a mine shaft. At first, it looks like the son of the mine owner (played by hunky Jensen Ackles) is to blame because he forgot to bleed the lines. Only two people survive, hunky Jensen Ackles and a guy named Harry Warden. When the bodies of the dead miners are recovered and autopsied, the town is horrified to learn that it wasn't the non bled line that caused the accident. Someone pick axed those miners to death. When all is said and done, Harry Warden gets the blame. Then, Harry dies. The town picks up its pieces and gets on with its life. Fast forward ten years, hunky Jensen Ackles does the prodigal son thing: comes into town, visits his high-school sweetie, pisses off her husband, you know the drill. It just happens to be the ten year anniversary of the Harry Warden killings and lo and behold! Yes, the killer is on the loose again despite being dead and hunky Jensen Ackles is the only one who can stop him!!

This movie is fun. I do wish the 3D effect had not been lost because I think that would have heightened my enjoyment of it.
Off topic, I thought it was funny last night when I was recounting to D. much of what I put in my post yesterday and she said, "I hope you have a better week." as she was leaving. Up until then, I hadn't thought of it as being a bad week. I regret being so fractious and I hope I didn't ruin her good time last night. It is a blessing to have friends like D. (and now Inky! and the group I knit with on Thursday nights!) who are also women and who I hope understand that I spend so much time with Axl that when I post, e-mail or hang out with other women I word vomit. Axl is an amazing man. His patience, understanding and love for me are beyond fair so what I'm about to say is not a slam nor is it something I want to be construed as sexist. It takes women to understand women and men to understand men. I think of Axl and I as friends as well as lovers. We are there for one another 24/7 and I find it amazing that we aren't gnawing our arms and legs off trying to get away from one another more. I'm very proud of how we treat one another. I think one of the things we do that helps keep that gah! feeling in check is to spend time with our friends occasionally and give each other the night off. When I hang out with other women, it is a treat be understood intrinsically. I can be however I am in that moment without worrying overmuch that I am freaking anyone out. If I'm feeling bitchy, the women I know are right there with me saying, "Bitch on." Well, not really, but you get the idea. The majority of the men I know like to fix what's wrong, which is a terrific and heroic quality, but sometimes the only thing that is wrong is that I haven't talked a subject to death. In essence, my friends give Axl a break from my jaw jacking (Ha ha. Get your mind out of the gutter. While you're at it, rescue mine out of there too.). When I hang out with my women friends, we bitch, we laugh, we eat too much pizza and the next day all is right with the world again. So, I want to say thanks for that ladies! And Axl, thank you for not losing patience even though I know you want to sometimes. You've been extremely patient as I relearn how to manage my life, stress level and time. You are all more than just my port in a storm (*snicker*) and I hope you know that. I'm a lucky girl.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mental Vomit

Nothing in the following post is earth-shattering stuff. I just haven't posted much this week and this is what's on my mind:

I can't register for classes until next week because my previous university has to send a copy of what classes I've already taken to the university I'm transferring to in order for my prerequisites to be lifted. Meh. I was hoping to know my course schedule this week. Also, I need to get my ACT scores from my high school and no one is answering the phone because school is out. Double meh.

Last week, I sold my bed and now I'm sleeping on an air mattress on the floor because we'll be buying a new bed when we move into the new apartment. The air mattress gives my current apartment that (not-attractive) crack den feel and, though I thought I'd get used to it, sleeping so close to the floor causes me to feel vulnerable. My cats (I have three) are not fond of the air mattress and goosestep around it. We are not amused at the hacienda del Juggernaut.

I began cleaning my couch in earnest Monday night so I can sell it and discovered it was harder than I thought it would be to hand clean a couch. The couch is a Sealy brand, off-white couch and I think I must have been sleeping when I bought it (on Craigslist) because who has three cats and buys an off-white couch? In case you're wondering, the couch is made of a sturdy fabric that has survived the onslaught of cat claws. No rips or tears to report, just soil from regular use. Determined, I searched online for a reasonable couch cleaning product and discovered a foaming upholstery cleaner you can find in the automotive section of Walmart called Tuff Stuff.

Tuff Stuff has worked the best of any product I have used so far to clean the couch. Rumor has it (online anyway) that a lot of places you pay to detail your car are out back using Tuff Stuff (which retails for less than $3.00 a can here).

Insert migraine that lasted all day Tuesday here. I was so puny my boss even sent me home from work. I didn't feel up to anything when I got home either so I went to bed. I forced myself to wake up two hours later to see if the man in the next paragraph was going to follow through. I continue not to feel the best today but my friend, D., is coming over tonight for pizza and horror movies. That's a surefire cure to what ails me if ever there was one. I'm a girl of simple tastes.

I know I've touched on how I simultaneously love and hate the Craigslist but it's more that I simultaneously love and hate the people using Craigslist and their social skills. Last month, I posted some tables for sale and a man who was interested in them called while we were in Chicago. I told him I would call him when we got back home, which I did. When I tried to set up a time for the man to come see the tables, he wouldn't agree to be pinned down to a time. He said something like, "How about I call you when I'm on my way home from work tomorrow?" and I said, "What time will that be?" and he said, "Oh, somewhere around 6:30?" and I said, "Okay, we'll plan to hear from you around 6:30 tomorrow." Six-thirty came and went and not a peep was heard out of the man. There were no further calls from him. Monday, out of the blue, the man calls to see if he can come by within the hour he is calling. He makes no mention of why he didn't call when he was supposed to before plus I am not about to meet with him without Axl around so I suggest Tuesday as a better time to meet and the man says he can do that but, again, when I try to schedule a time with him he does the, "I'll call you when I'm on my way home from work." thing. I was able to get him to say he'd call between six and seven Tuesday night. This time, I call him a little before six to see if he is still wanting to come see the tables. He seems caught off guard and you can tell he has totally forgotten about promising to call me. "Can we do it Thursday?", he asks. Ugh! He is not getting my tables.

Today, I saw this ad on Yahoo!'s homepage and I must say I wonder what the woman in the picture is getting her degree in.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Growing Pains

I was admitted to the university yesterday. Soon, I will receive my acceptance letter in the mail and set up my course schedule for the fall. I filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) today. I am completely excited at the prospect of doing something new with my life but at the same time having an, "Oh shit!" moment. It's actually happening. I'm about to be a student again (!) .
Once I know my course schedule, I will have to talk to my boss about what going back to school means for my job. Knowing that I will have to quit my job one way or another has been the biggest downer of this process. In all honesty, the balance between the rewards my job and the responsibilities of my job is so off kilter it seems ludicrous to have any sort of qualm about walking away. Nevertheless, the bittersweet side (seeing the fruits of my labor go to someone else who will probably rock this job out) hits me and I feel like a quitter and a failure. Sometimes, I take the self-pity even further and hate myself for not trying harder at the subjects I struggled with in school because I like to think I might have chosen a wiser career had I felt smarter or more capable at other subjects. How's that for your ego getting in your way? I am surprised that letting go of something I will never progress any further in has me in such a twist that I am picking at myself but changing careers has required an astonishing amount of personal growth and my natural instinct is to dig my heels in against the change.
It is within the realm of possibility that my boss will want me to continue working here for whatever time I can before the demands of going back to school really take over but I am having a hard time discerning if that's what I want. Even if I were to do this job part-time, I suspect the demand would be the same. I am the only person on staff fielding requests in this particular area of expertise so all matters pertaining to that subject get channeled through my office regardless of the guidelines set by the agency. I won't tell you how ugly it can get when someone has the expectation that you can fix their problem and you have to tell them you don't have the solution they've decided on.
I found a surprising source of encouragement for my desire to move on while thumbing through a recent issue of Men's Health magazine at Axl's apartment. I read Ewan McGregor's Tips For a Full Life and though I am only talking about going back to school here and not the possibility of being robbed at gunpoint in Mexico (as Ewan was), his point that "You can't be ruled by fear -- not by other people's, and certainly not by your own." struck a chord with me. Sign me up. Hells yes, I want to live a full life. I think we all have our definitions of what that means but, for me, today, it is simply that I want to do the stuff that makes me happy, to disregard the naysayers, be brave and trust myself and then go about doing the stuff I enjoy doing.
I am having to change a lot of my preset notions about myself and my life and that's scary and hard at times but I'm noticing as I let go of stuff, whether it's people's expectations of me or actual material belongings, I feel so much better. So much lighter. Truer. Younger. Happier. Challenging myself or, I should probably say, responding to Axl's gentle needling to do the things I'm always saying I'm going to do (or should do) has actually been fun and that has been one of the biggest surprises (blessings, gifts) of all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Kinda Town

Axl and I returned from Chicago on Saturday. I hated to leave but we had stayed just the right amount of time, enough that I was still having fun but I was starting to miss home. On our last visit to Chicago (my first) in September 2008, Axl indulged me by doing a lot of tourist-y stuff (museums, Navy Pier and the like). This time, we decided we were going to seek out the out of the way places. Axl has been to Chicago several times and wanted me to experience some of the smaller neighborhoods just outside the city. We frequently talk about moving to Chicago and Axl wanted me to see these areas so I would know what he had in mind. We spent a lot of time in Bucktown and Wicker Park for that reason and because of an article I had read in the April/May 2009 issue of BUST magazine. Bucktown had lovely residential tree-lined streets and lots of people out walking their dogs and strolling their babies. That was nice to see after the fast paced bustle in the area we were staying in downtown Chicago. The article in BUST, unfortunately, lead us on kind of a goose chase and, no offense to the author(s), but the majority of the stores featured in the article were way out of this girl's price range. I loved the jewelry in Eskell and I enjoyed seeing first hand a lot of work done by artists I'd previously only seen online at Renegade Handmade. We visited two Reckless Records locations and enjoyed flipping through the bins there. A favorite discovery of mine (not mentioned in the BUST article) was Crossroads Trading Company. This is a store similar to one where I live but without the lame music and bitchy sales people. At CTC, you can trade or sell your used clothing and I think the highlight of it all was that I found items there that were actually in my size range. I bought a shirt there for less than $4.00 that I know I'm going to love wearing.
So, that's a bit about the shopping. We did do one tourist-y thing and that was to take a Wendella Boat Tour. Nothing against the Wendella folks because they do have it posted at their ticket counter that school groups frequently use their services but it was awful having to share our tour with a high school group. I think, perhaps, Wendella would be better off letting school groups have a boat to themselves because these were some of the worst kids I have been around in quite some time. Where the chaperones were, I have no idea. The boat tour takes you through a canal in downtown Chicago past many of the skyscrapers and you get to listen to the boat tour person give you information about buildings you have probably noticed (Trump International Hotel and Tower anyone?). Then, the boat takes you into the Chicago Harbor Lock and you go out onto Lake Michigan for a time. Like I said, kind of tourist-y but I enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it so much more had we not had to put up with a bunch of tweens who could really give a damn. They talked over the boat tour announcer and a lot of the charm was lost after that. Laugh if you want but if I could have figured out what school those brats were from, their principal would have received a letter from me tout de suite.
Naturally, I have to tell you about the food. The food! I gained a pound and a half while we were there but I don't regret any of it. The restaurants that stand out in my memory are The Original Pancake House, Giordanos and Hot Doug's. Axl and I did not order any of the acclaimed Original Pancake House items (The Dutch Baby or the Apple Pancake) but their skillets were out of this world. Last time we were in Chicago, we went to Gino's East (the one you see on t.v. and in movies with all the writing on the walls) and ordered deep dish pizza. Gino's was delicious but after experiencing stuffed pizza I think stuffed is my personal favorite. On our last morning in Chicago, we went to Hot Doug's. Hot Doug's opens at 10:30 a.m. and it was a good thing we got there a little after 10:00 a.m. because a line was already forming. We faired pretty well because this was the line as we left:

Doug Sohn took our order. He is the nicest guy. We ordered two of "The Dog", which is a Chicago-style hot dog with all the toppings. Axl ordered a "Saucisson Alsacienne" which I had a bite of and fell in love with promptly. It is bacon sausage with creme fraiche, caramelized onions and triple cream brie cheese. I ordered a smokey pork cheddarwurst wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon with roasted garlic dijonnaise and colby-jack cheese. We went a little crazy and ordered a game of the week which this week was brown ale and chipotle buffalo sausage with chili-garlic mustard and vintage farmhouse cheese. Spicy! Of course, we had to try the duck fat fries (offered only on Fridays and Saturdays). Yes, french fries fried in duck fat. I know what you're thinking. I used to be a vegetarian and I shame myself. On the other hand, food this delicious and well done is definitely one way to turn up in the life force.
That's all for now. Don't want to bore you. It was a terrific trip. My guy certainly knows how to treat a lady to a good vacation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Come And Knock On Our Door

Today, we did the walk through of our new place and I was able to take some pictures of the interior.
Kitchen/Living Room area:




Bathroom (the electricity is off in the apartment and I couldn't get a non-blurry shot to turn out):

Bedroom:

The second bedroom was dark as pitch (no windows) so I wasn't able to get a picture of it.
We didn't think we were going to have to ask the landlord to repaint the place but we saw that it does indeed need freshening. She said they'd start painting on Monday. I'm really looking forward to living here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chicago, That Toddling Town


We're going back next week. Any recommendations for us? I love Chicago food. Heck, I just love Chicago. I'm so excited to be going back.
Picture is borrowed from here

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hooray!

I passed my licensing exam yesterday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Excited


This is a pic of the building we'll be living in. I don't have any pictures of the interior yet. I know the outside doesn't look like much but the inside is nice and I'm having a lot of fun planning our move here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Better News!

My brother called me today. He is out of the hospital and doing well besides being stunned to wake up in the hospital with no recollection of how he got there. I was happy to talk and joke with him...something that this time last week I was afraid I would never get to do again.

Toxic Waste

In my second bedroom, I have several Rubbermaid containers crammed full of papers I refused to go through properly before my last move. I used to be so organized it would make you sick. Somewhere along the line, all that organization deteriorated and I began stuffing papers in boxes and pushing them into the closet when company came. One box turned into two, then three, and so on. I am making a true effort to go through these boxes now and eliminate what I don't need to keep (which is harder than you would think) because seeing these containers every day creates such a mental clog for me, you don't even know. I don't want that negativity following me to our new place.

Going through each of these containers is like opening a bad memory time capsule. Among the many scraps of paper and notions, I have discovered items like propaganda from every time I joined Weight Watchers, the program from my college graduation ceremony (I will keep that one), letters I started and never finished and, last night, all of my receipts from 2006. Yes, really. For the life of me, I can't figure out why I held onto some of the items I'm discovering. I did find a knitting needle I was looking for but, three years after the fact, am I curious to know that on April 30, 2006 I bought a six pack of Coke at Walmart? Not in the least. Thank God for Axl. I am so grateful to have someone in my life who sees all these little hangups I used to have and gently guides me past them. I can't tell you how happy I'll be to have this clutter, both literally and figuratively, out of my life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Binge and Purge

I didn’t receive an update on my brother over the weekend. At last report, the doctors were planning on moving him out of intensive care and into his own room. I will continue to post updates on his condition as I receive news about him. Thanks for all your interest and kind words.

On the home front, I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that Axl and I have been looking for a place together. Last Tuesday night, I found an ad for an amazing apartment. Downtown area, two bedrooms, exposed brick walls, furnished washer and dryer, central heat and air, furnished dishwasher, they pay water/sewage, pets allowed…all for $510.00 a month. Here, that is an awesome deal. Axl pays somewhere around $600.00 for his current apartment plus utilities. He has no amenities (no central heat or air, no dishwasher and no washer or dryer). In my case, I pay $550.00 a month plus utilities. I had to provide my own washer and dryer and I don't have a dishwasher. I have central heat and air, which I'm grateful for, but I live in a sketchy neighborhood (that keeps on getting sketchier) further out in the city than I would like to be. We hoped to find a two bedroom place with all the amenities we wanted that would allow our pets without some exorbitant fee. We thought we'd have to compromise on one of the amenities for sure but Axl and I went to see the place from the ad on Wednesday and it turned out to be as good as the ad said it was. Now, it is ours. We are both a little ill at ease that this place at this price has to be too good to be true. We worry that we’ll move in and find that the current renter and property manager have been lying to us and that the place is filled with rats or ghosts or some such thing. That’s negative thinking but around here apartments like this one rent for $700.00 – $800.00 so we’re wondering what the catch is. Pushing those thoughts aside, we immediately began packing and planning. I have managed to sell some furniture I won’t be using on Craigslist (finally) and Axl has done quite well at Craigslist now too. I guess it just takes some patience. Besides Craigslist, I am finding I wish I had better options for the stuff I don’t want to take with me to the new place. For instance, books. The most popular used bookstore here offers a pittance for your used books. I took in a stack of popular titles in great condition and received .75 a piece for them. If I donate them to Goodwill or Salvation Army they’ll only end up in a pile of ancient memorabilia and, while I shouldn’t be so picky about what happens to my discards, that just doesn’t seem like a useful enough purpose to me. I signed up for PaperBack Swap and I feel a little better but it makes me think about how much garbage there is out there. It's easy to get bogged down with material stuff.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Good News!

My brother came to yesterday and was able to have his breathing tube removed. He cussed one of the nurses when she gave him a shot and today he was asking for coffee (which he's not allowed to have yet). We're not out of the woods but, still, this is terrific news.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Overwhelmed

On Monday, I learned that my brother is in the hospital after hitting his head and lapsing into a coma. He is expected to recover but the waiting day to day for updates (I live on the east coast and he lives on the west coast) is awful. I would be at the hospital every free minute if I lived closer to him. I'm relieved that the initial news is positive but I will be on edge until I know he is fully awake, breathing on his own, and functional.

Previous to receiving such bad news, I had been gearing up for my career job licensing exam which takes place May 9th. I feel totally unprepared and have only added to my stress by visiting various universities around me trying to determine what I need to do in order to finish a degree separate from the one I graduated with in 2003. I've determined that my best option is to return to school in pursuit of a second bachelor's degree. I was hoping to finagle something on a Master's level but my previous bachelor's degree does not lend itself to other fields. To get my second degree will take about two years and I will likely have to quit my job (of the past 5.5 years) so I have waffled back and forth dramatically over whether or not to go forward with this idea. On one hand, I have a job in the middle of a recession. On the other hand, I work in a notoriously low-paying field for even less than the average rate because I work for a religious organization. Such was the case before the recession and such will be the case as long as I work here. I could go for a Master's degree in this field but unless I were to work in the medical/healthcare arena it would probably not benefit me as much as following through on my desire to finish out this second degree. Workers in my second degree field make about $15,000.00 more a year than I currently do working in my first degree field. Money isn't everything but I went to college in order to take care of myself long-term. Though I didn't choose I high-paying career, I thought I'd have more to show for it by now.

In conversation with Axl yesterday, I came to the conclusion that had I been earning what I should have been all this time, I probably never would have considered changing careers. So, this morning, I got to work and filled out an online admissions application. With a little luck, I will be a student again in the fall.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weekend Finds

I bought this dress for $10.00(!) at the Hebron Gap Outlet:




I found the above pictures on ebay and I'm assuming the person who posted them borrowed them from the Gap website. I'm not sure what I think of Gap's decision to advertise the dress layered because it is gorgeous on its own (well, maybe not in brown). The next picture is of the dress in the color I bought it in (navy). This picture is borrowed from seller mothgirl13 on ebay. She had her name on the hem of the dress in the photo and I took it out but wanted her to get proper credit for taking the picture. I could take one of my own but I don't have a mannequin in order to properly show the shape of the dress. It is a cotton blend that has a silk sheen to it. I was so happy to find this dress on Saturday because I had to give a speech (twice) on Sunday for work and it was nice to have a pretty dress to wear in front of all those people.


My other find this weekend was this necklace (picture is from the Mod Cloth website):

I was so excited to find the necklace locally because I had been debating buying it online. If you like it, you can buy one here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If I Had Twelve Thousand Dollars

I borrowed the following pictures from this site. There is one of these for sale not a block from my house and I want to buy it so bad I can't even tell you. It has only 8,300 miles on it, it's in this exact color, one owner, all original interior. The only hang ups are that the fuel guage isn't working and neither is the radio. The man I spoke to about it yesterday was so nice. He's asking $12,500 for it and I am wailing and gnashing my teeth for not being smarter with the money I saved when I was a teenager.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Seen While Driving #2


I didn't have a chance before we passed her to snap a picture of the sticker she had on the opposite side of the window that said, "If you're going to ride my ass, at least pull my hair." I kid you not.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seen At The Flea Market

Last Thursday, Axl and I drove to his parents' house to spend a few days before coming back to visit my family for Easter Sunday. Axl's mother is into scavaging for vintage pieces similar to the way I am and we had a ball driving around to different shops during our visit. Axl's parent's live in a rural area and what better than a rural area for a flea market? Though not the flea markets I remember from my youth, Axl and I attended two on Saturday that provided many worthwhile sights and sounds. Axl took this picture for me with his iPhone because my camera was acting up:

What would a flea market be without a bust of Elvis (and Laurel and Hardy hanging out in the background)?

The man who owned this gorgeous guy offered to let me hold him. Thinking about it now, I probably should have done it because I have very few opportunities to hold a rooster in my day to day but I figured getting scratched and pecked wasn't worth it. Drawing on my roots, my exact words when the owner offered were, "Lord, no." Sure was a gorgeous bird. And loud.


The following were unexpected. Good thing I'm not a little girl or there would have been tears at wanting to take them all home with me. Beagle and basset hound pups!


These two guys were next to the others and $450.00 more. Corgi pups! I don't support dog breeding what with all the animals in shelters needing a home but oh! The cuteness! They wouldn't hold still for a picture which is why they're all blurry. I got to hold the one on the right and it was all I talked about for the rest of the day.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Have A Good Weekend


I'm on Easter holiday. See you next week!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WTF Weather

Last Friday, my mother and I passed under an apple blossom tree whose petals were falling in the breeze and she said to me jokingly, "Look! It's snowing!" To my surprise, the weather took a turn over the weekend and we had actual snow yesterday:


The temperature outside felt more like November's temps than April's. Today, the temperature is back in the 50's and climbing. I wish Mother Nature would just pick a temperature and stick with it because the warmth is so nice when it's here but we don't seem to be able to keep a warm temperature for more than a day or two. Going back and forth between a light jacket and a winter coat is wearing on me. I don't enjoy cold, wet weather. C'mon Spring!