Thursday, December 09, 2010

2010 Christmas Card

This year's Christmas card!

Oh What Fun Christmas 5x7 folded card
Shop Shutterfly for unique, personalized Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Today's Horoscope

Have you thought about becoming some sort of advisor or mentor to someone? If you haven't, you should -- and today would be a good day to investigate how to get involved in something like that. It could be as formal as a teaching position or as informal as just showing a friend how to do something in their home. What's important here is that you spend some time sharing a skill or talent of yours with someone else -- it's a great way to connect with the rest of the people you see every day.


This is a very fitting horoscope, especially as I'm already an advisor to members and alumnae advisors for my sorority, Alpha Xi Delta.

Yeay.

Monday, December 06, 2010

First Snow

Saturday night, Raleigh got hit with its first snowfall. Granted, it was just a dusting, but it was pretty. And the best part was that it was gone the next day.

It's a far cry from the crap I used to get back home.

What? I can't hear you.


It happens every workday morning. More often on Monday mornings. That whole "What did you do this weekend" question that ultimately lasts for 90 minutes.

Working in a cube farm I hear all the conversations. And for the most part, I don't care. At least I don't care at 9am.

My most productive time of the day is the early morning. I am active, alert, creative and I want to be able to throw myself into my work and get things done. But if you look at me after 2 pm, then I am procrastinating as if it was my life goal.

I love to chat about bullshit, but I would prefer it to happen at a less productive time for me, like lunch or late afternoon. Instead I have to be the anti-social asshole with my headphones on; drowning out the morning conversations of tv shows, kids, pets, remodeling projects, day trips and bouts of gastrointestinal issues.

On second thought, I might just leave my headphones on all day.

I can work from home up to two days per week. And I know that when I can wake up at 7am and log on in my pajamas, I can work for 6 hours with no distractions and get a lot done. But even though my team is on the west coast and I don't interact with them too much even when I'm in the office, I do miss the social atmosphere of having colleagues nearby. Interspersed among the rambling of nonsense, I might hear a gem of information that I could actually learn from.

I wish I could just put a door in my cube, or maybe a shower curtain. When it's closed, it could be the cue to "do not disturb". But when it's open its a screaming invitation to distract me.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Things I Like: My Nook


There are a lot of stupid things on tv. The only show that I will stop my life and turn on the tv for is Glee. Yes, I am a gleek and I'm not ashamed to say it.

I've traded in a lot of tv time for reading. And I was holding out on an e-reader for a while. I thought I would miss the tactile-ness (is that a word), and the smell of books. But one day when I was home in NJ, I decided I wanted an e-reader. Like right now.

So I mapped the distance for Target and Barnes & Noble. B&N was closer so I drove the 3 miles to get the Nook. I have to say, I love it.

There are some books that I will just have to have a hardcopy for, but for casual reading, e-books suit me just fine.

I've been catching up on some literary classics that I never read in school. I just finished Oliver Twist and I have a bunch more free classics waiting in my queue.

I read the Oprah selection 'Freedom' by Jonathan Franzen. I can't say it changed my life like Oprah said it did to her, but it was ok.

I'm currently reading 'Half the Sky : Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide' by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It's great, in that it angers you and stirs up the desire to want to do something to end the injustice towards women.

Next in my queue is 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett and then the Millennium Trilogy Series books, The Girl Who Kicked the Shit Out Of People Because She's So F'n Badass. I'm interested in reading the series because the movies of them were just so awesome.

So what are you reading?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Thanksgiving Wish

As part of my yearly tradition, I sent out my Thanksgiving email:

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

It's that time of year again. When the roads, skies and rails are packed with people all trying to get back to their loved ones. And maybe if they're lucky, can get a little sumthin' sumthin' in the TSA pat down line. I am finally one of those people who have to travel hours (8 by car, to be exact) to make my way back home.

2010 has been another year of contrasts. We have seen incredible devistation with the earthquake in Haiti and have seen miracles in the rescue of the Chilean miners. We have cheered with the Olympians in Canada and recoiled in horror as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion devistated our oceans.

Whether you like your tea with sugar or with Palin, Rally for Sanity, Rally for Fear or Rally for the Cure, I think we can all agree that when that turkey comes out of the oven we're all rallying for the drumstick!

http://i.huffpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/12644/slide_12644_169589_large.jpg?1290614822398

This year has been one of amazing change for me. I have changed addresses, jobs, and loves. I've traded in the Garden State for the Tarheel State and I've had to defend that everyone from New Jersey is not like those clowns on Jersey Shore! But even though I hit a fork in the road, I have discovered so much more.

Thank you to the new friends I have made. Thank you to the friends who haven't forgotten me back home. And thank you for my family who make it feel like I've never left.

Before the insanity of the holidays hit you hard, take this time to stop and take a breath. If you have a roof over your head, a dollar in your pocket, a full belly and a full heart then you will never want for more.

My wish for you this Thanksgiving is to be healthy, happy and home (where ever you call home).

Love always-
Claudine

Normally the responses I got back were kind words.

Except for Charles. (Yes, he was on my email distribution list because I really don't harbor any bad feelings.) His response withing seconds of me hitting send: I'm not in the mood.

Well then. How about go fuck yourself. Are you in the mood for that?

Fucker.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Nostalgia

I was feeling nostalgic, I admit it.

I spent the weekend in the Pocono Mountains, PA with my college friends. There was enough silliness to go round, but there were moments for me to reflect on my move to North Carolina, what got me there and what's keeping me there now.

Charles, of course, popped into my head.

I was reminded of the great time we had at the mountain house. The beginning of the relationship, not the end. It made me smile.

When I arrived back to North Carolina at RDU Airport, it was the first time that I flew in without having him there eagerly waiting for me. And it was a little lonely.

So sent him a text.

I don't have any expectations. I haven't heard from him since I moved out. But he knows from a previous email that I don't have any bad feelings. (It takes so much energy to stay angry and I don't want to waste my energy that way.)

Maybe it's not so much of a bad thing. Maybe it was in the stars.

Here's my horoscope today:
You might want to call up somebody you haven't seen in a while. And if the yearning to connect with someone from your very distant past comes over you, well heck, you should do just that! Look them up and then say hello. Maybe they've got something -- a memory, an insight -- that you've been missing. Maybe you'll both just be glad to see that, yes, things change and people lose contact, but there's still some core self that remains the same and still appreciates the connection it once had with a kindred core self.
We'll see what happens.

Update:
I got a response two days later.

I'm thinking that's the polite brush off.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Asheville 2010

I'm not feeling very talkative today. So instead, here's the video of what I did this weekend.

Friday, October 15, 2010

After the dentist

Look at that. I can't stay with one thing for more than 3 says. So much for the 30 days of truth.

But in other news, let it me known that I'm an idiot.

I went to the dentist yesterday to get a cavity filled. My new dentist is awesome and it was actually the best drilling experience (heh... that's what she said) I ever had.

While I was getting drilled (heh heh), I had my own personal tv screen hanging from the ceiling and a set of Bose noise-canceling headphones where I could listen to it. While bits of my teeth were flying in my mouth, I was enjoying Zoolander and Baby Mama.

When I was all done, half of my face was numb and practically paralyzed. I was laughing when rinsing out my mouth over the sink because the water just fell right out.

I was so amused by my numbness, that I thought I'd share.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 03: Something you have to forgive yourself for.

Something I have to forgive myself for?

This is a hard one because I either already forgave myself for stuff, or I don't feel like I did anything wrong where I need forgiveness.

Not to say that I'm without fault. I've got plenty. But you can paralyze yourself with things that are wrong with you, or you can say 'to hell with it' and live with it.

As a personal rule, I try not to deliberately cause others pain, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I remember right after I graduated from college I broke up with my boyfriend of 3+ years. We had our differences: I graduated after 4 years of college, he didn't. I was president of my sorority, his great aspiration was to earn the 'silver keg' award in his fraternity. I went to class and made Dean's List my senior year. He skipped class to sleep off hangovers.

So when I was faced with the thought that I might spend the rest of my life with this person, I said hell no!

I broke up with him sitting on the swing sets in a park. I told him I loved him, but I was sick of his face and we were done. It was pretty harsh.

Classy, I know.

About a year later, I got back in touch with him. I asked him out to dinner for the sole purpose of apologizing of how I handled that situation and for hurting him. I had forgiven myself for that a long time ago -- I knew it was the right thing But I was just getting closure for me. He could have continued to hate me, but he didn't. And my soul felt lighter.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Day 02: Something you love about yourself

This is a much easier post than yesterday's.

I love that I'm not afraid to do things by myself.

It hurts my heart when people say that they can't do things on their own. Whether it be going to the movies, or have a meal at a restaurant. I happen to find it liberating.

Maybe it's because I've spent more of my life single than in a couple. Maybe because I tend to tire of people (see Day 1). But I have never let being on my own stop me from going out and explore what the world has to offer.

I especially like traveling by myself. I've toured through Europe, sailed among the ABC islands, and have taken countless road trips. I love the freedom it brings. I can do what I want, when I want. I decide when to explore and when to sit and rest. I can make friends and share memories or I can people-watch in solitude.

The best part of it all are the adventures that I have. Each wrong turn, each car breakdown, each mishap turns into a story that makes the reunion with my friends and family that much more entertaining.

I can't wait for someone to decide they want to join me. When there's something I want to see, some destination I want to visit, I go. If I was waiting for someone else, chances are I'd be waiting a long time.

And I don't want to waste my time.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Day 01: Something you hate about yourself.

Is it arrogant to say that there isn't a whole lot that I hate about myself?

I mean there are things I don't like, the number on the scale, the split ends of my hair, that one zit that keeps coming back... But hate?

I don't like how when I tire of something, even if only for a little while, I tend to shut it out. This can be for anything: a task at work that I need to do, the dishes in my sink, or even sometimes with friendships.

Hmm... let me explore that friendship thing more.

I don't think I have ever had a problem being by myself. Not really a loner, but I didn't feel that I needed to be entertained by someone all the time. Even now, I genuinely enjoy the time that I have alone, but I also enjoy time spent with friends.

But sometimes I just don't have anything so say. I don't want to make small talk about your dog, your kids, the last movie you saw or what you had for dinner. Sometimes I'm content to just sit in silence, reading my book or walking my dog. Instead of saying "I just need some alone time", I'll just shut down, turn uninterested and be quiet.

And it really has nothing to do with the other person. Not usually. But sometimes my aloofness just comes across wrong and the friendship begins to stagnate. Its happened a few times.

Then there are friends who get it, who get me. Who understand that you don't need to be in each others lives every second, every day, recounting the events of the moment. When that text, or email, phone call or visit happens, it's because I genuinely want to catch up and be a part of your life again. Not because its from a sense of obligation.

I don't really like that sometimes my sense of independence shuts me out of some people's lives. But given the alternative, that there's some need to be paid attention to all the time, I'll take what I got.

30 Days of Truth

There's an internet meme that's been going around: 30 Days of Truth.

Given that I haven't had much writing inspiration, I think I'll give this a try. I never know how long I last doing stuff. My 365 Photo project stalled in May. But still, it's something to work towards.

Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Saturday Night Special: Off Leash

What do you do when you have time to kill at work? Look at Awkward Family Pet Photos.
What do you do when you see this?


Laugh your ass off.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Drama-Free Girls Club

I have been extremely lucky to have met a group of women who's company I enjoy and where I fit in nicely.

This past weekend I spent at the beach with 10 women in one beach house. What was great is that we all got along, with no drama.

We are all, except for one, transplants to North Carolina and the group formed out of a MeetUp group whose purpose was to simply meet new people. This splinter group formed because they bonded outside the random happy hour meetup.

I think it's difficult as you get older to find good friends; those who are like minded, intelligent, independent free-thinkers.

We rented a 6-room beach house at Nags Head, NC for a few days. The house was really great: across the street from the beach, hot tub, pool and a good floor plan that allowed us to hang out together as well as find secluded places when we needed alone time.
I am so thankful for being accepted into this group. It has made my conversion as a North Carolinian much more easier.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Today's Horoscope

If you've been struggling with a relationship for a little while now, today could be a turning point. It's hard to say why something shifts between two people, but one of those tension-easing changes is poised to take place. Take a deep breath and you might even notice that the difference isn't so much in them, or in your duo's dynamic; it's more like a shift is taking place within you. So go ahead and try again with this person. You'll both be glad you did.


This comes at an interesting time. I've been thinking about Charles lately. Not that I want him back, or that I'm so angry at him, or any real heavy emotion at all. I was thinking more about the intensity we had and the fun and excitement we shared. It's that I missed. Not longingly, but just the thought of it made me smile.

So yesterday I sent him an email. Just to let him know that I don't have any ill-feelings toward him, and to thank him for bringing me out here because I really do like it here. And finally that I hoped he was doing well.

I think I sent it more for me. Sending that forgiveness out there made me feel better.

I think it's strange how quickly things, emotions can change. I don't know what shifted in him to make him want to leave me. But I knew the moment I stopped loving him -- the moment I drove out of the driveway for the last time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pooping in style


My bathroom, in addition to my cool-ass shower curtain, has beautiful Key West watercolor paintings, wooden frog & lizard thingys and a super-awesome metal gecko to make me smile as I'm pooping.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More like home


My photos are finally starting to be hung on the wall making my apartment feel more like my home. I still have a lot more photos of my travels to be hung, but this is a good start.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

I had a great Labor Day weekend here in Raleigh. It was full of activities that made me appreciate all that I have around me.

Friday was First Friday in Raleigh. It's an art celebration on the first Friday of each month. I love it because not only to art galleries participate, but local businesses turn into galleries as well to showcase local artists as well as their products. I picked up a cute necklace and wore it proudly the rest of the evening.

Among the cobblestone streets of Moore Square you can also find musical artists to entertain you. This band had the crowd dancing in the streets, myself included.



Saturday afternoon I joined a MeetUp group to go horseback riding at Dead Broke Farm in northwest Raleigh. There was a group of 12 people, some who hadn't rode a horse in 15 years (like me) and others who never rode a horse at all.

It was a slow trail ride. Quite boring actually, with all the stopping and starting. I was getting annoyed by two newbies who had no idea what they were doing. One woman kept screaming practically every time her horse moved. She sucked. Then this other guy -- this very large man on an equally large horse -- tried to reason with his horse when it wandered into the woods. "Why must you go into the woods?" I thought that if he actually held the reigns and steered his horse he'd get better results.

My horse, Keeper was a sweetie. Except that he/she (?) kept turning its head to nibble on my foot. I wasn't sure if it liked me or hated me.

There were a few cool people in the group. Afterward we went to a local bar for some beers and burgers. A good way to end off the afternoon.

Sunday was mainly spent running errands, but I hung out with new friends that night. We ate pitas and hummus and drank wine on the deck in Durham while we watched the dogs run around. I did not bring Barry. He's kind of an ass and I wasn't in the mood to babysit my dog.

Nuke LaLoosh and Crash DavisMonday was the best day of all. The weather was gorgeous. Just right for a baseball game. Since I came to North Carolina, I knew I had to go see a Durham Bulls game. Bull Durham is one of my favorite movies and I needed to go and pay homage.

The ballpark was beautiful and my seats were right behind first base, a few levels up. It was a long game -- about 3 hours. But the Bulls finally won 6-5 in the 12th inning.

A great end to a great day to an even greater weekend.

Friday, September 03, 2010

A clean dog


Maybe I'm not the only one who likes my shower curtain. Barry seems to have taken a liking to it, too.

I don't know what's so appealing about sitting in the bathtub for him.

But it's obviously something he enjoys.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My new place

It has been two weeks since my fairy tale ended and I moved into my new apartment.

I swear to God, I think it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm not sad, and I'm not even angry anymore at Charles. Honestly, I feel a lot of...nothing. I may have come to North Carolina for Charles, but I'm staying for me.

Happiness is found in a shower curtainImage by bearclau via FlickrMy apartment is slowly coming together. I finally get to make the place I'm living in my own. That was one of the problems with moving into Charles' house. It was still very much his and there wasn't a lot of 'me' represented. It wasn't until my last week there that I actually got a space carved out for me, which was my own desk and bookshelf. That's now with me.

The first thing I got was this fun and bright shower curtain and matching yellow and green towels. This just screams FUN to me and it makes me smile every time I come into my bathroom. (My bathroom, by the way. One that I don't have to share with people who don't believe in hanging up towels after a shower.)

Surf KitchenImage by bearclau via FlickrMy kitchen is much smaller than my townhouse and storage is limited. So I guess it's a good thing that I got rid of most of my stuff before I moved down here. (insert sarcasm). However, for reasons I can't explain, my 6 foot surfboard, that I never use, has traveled with me since I first moved out of my parents' house when I was 25 years old.

That surfboard now has a new home above my kitchen cabinets. I like it.

Let's not forget the pool! AND I have a gym -- which I actually go to.
Yes, life definitely does not suck.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A new me

It's official, I'm now a citizen of North Carolina.

This is actually my second NC drivers license. You know, because the first one had an address that I no longer live at.

But that's ok because I like where I am now. A lot!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Landing on my feet

Let your natural smarts and intuition be your guide today, especially when dealing with relationships. For the next few days, you can see more deeply beneath the surface to what's happening on another level, which gives you a kind of sixth sense when observing personal interactions. With this kind of thinking, you can open your mind and strengthen your bonds. It's a great opportunity, so seize it! -- today's horoscope

Even in the strangest of circumstances, I have always had the ability to turn things around and ultimately land on my feet. However, right now I'm dealing with my world turning upside-down and I really hope those feline instincts kick in.

On my 37th birthday, just 3 months ago, I put my house in New Jersey on the market to move to North Carolina. I was going to live with my boyfriend, an amazing man who I met a month and a half earlier on vacation and who I thought would be 'the one'.

Last week I was asked to move out. According to him, his ex-wife was threatening to sue for custody of the kids because living in sin was not a good environment. In three days, I had found an apartment, signed a lease, and moved in. I had thought that this was a good thing. I truly believed that going from long-distance relationship to living together was just too much of a strain and that by me having my own place, we could go back to dating and being normal.

It's never good when you get a text saying 'we have to talk'.

I went to his house and knocked on the door. I still had a key, but I thought that would be rude to let myself in. When he didn't answer right away, I cleared out the remaining things I had in the garage. When he did finally answer the door, I got the last of my things from the hall closet. When I had it all gathered, I turned to him.

"What? What do you have to tell me?"

"I think its pretty obvious. We haven't been getting along to well these last few days."

Um, you think it could be because you made me leave??

There was so much I wanted to yell and scream. But really, what's the point. If he didn't want to be with me, then I wasn't going to beg.

"So who really kicked me out? You or [her]?"

"Both."

Ouch.

So I learned what a coward he really is.

And I can pick myself up, turn this around, and continue on with my adventure. Because that's what life is really about, right?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thrown under the bus

I get my own apartment tomorrow. Not because I want to, but because I was made to. It sucks having your life turned upside down unexpectedly.

But on the plus side, I get a sweet pool with the apartment, free cable/HBO, washer/dryer, gym. And Barry comes to live with me!!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Today's Horoscope


Take time for yourself by putting your life on hold. Walk around the park, stare at the sky and otherwise refresh your senses with the parts of life that really matter. Sunshine and open space are vital for you now. The peace can help you ponder everything that's going on in your life. Once you feel centered, you're better able to take on the challenges that come later.


Timely advice right now. I feel like I've been engrossed in a world of cooking, cleaning, and working. I'm beginning to wonder who this person is whose skin I'm living in.

The fairy tale has been bombarded with real-life: kids and bills. It takes some adjusting and sometimes its hard to keep up.

But at least I know that my Prince Charming is right here with me.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

First light


I've been awake for over 90 minutes but I only got out of bed 20 minutes ago. I watched the sky begin to lighten through the window blinds and I felt my mind become more awake. The only noise was the big, fat, North Carolina-sized raindrops smacking against the roof.

I slinked out of bed, grabbed my laptop, made some coffee and found a spot in the back family room. A cushy spot on the comfy leather sofa.

Charles was soundly sleeping in bed. His daughter and her friend were curled up in her room, probably sleeping only a few hours after an evening of texting.

In the solitude I can enjoy this peacefulness. Take advantage of some 'me time'. Not think about the laundry that needs to be put away or what to make for dinner. I can read my book; sip my coffee. Maybe if I'm feeling particurally energetic, I'll do some stretches and meditative breaths.

But for right now I think the best move is to not move at all. To just listen to the rhythm of the raindrops and breathe.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Morning ritual

When I get into work, I usually like to take 30 minutes to ease into the environment. This involves logging into my computer, reading work email, reading personal email, catching up on my RSS feeds and CNN, checking in with Facebook and Twitter and maybe getting something to drink.

I will do my pleasant "good mornings" to my cube-neighbors, but I basically want to take my time and get into my day. I want to enjoy the semi-solitude that comes with being a contractor.

But my new friend seems to have a different approach in the morning. Today, I hadn't even put my bag down on my counter when I start to get the update on her project, her last conference call, how the client is crazy and now once tight deadlines are flexible as they decide to add additional content into her project and basically introduce scope creep.

Ugh. I would like to say "it's not my problem. And actually, it's not your's either. Let your PM handle the client", but I don't. Instead I listen with half an ear and go about my morning ritual, offering comments where I can but secretly hoping that she'll notice that I'm preoccupied at the moment and let me take a breather.

I can only hope.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Today's Horoscope

If you can't get enough, don't worry -- it looks like your supply is unlimited! In fact, with such huge piles of fun and thrills available, you ought to put out a general notice to your people to come on out and join in. No one can get a party going quite like you, and right now, that talent is cranked up to eleven by your hard-partying energy. Get the word out by any means necessary.
I am so happy about this horoscope. This weekend my college friend Kristen and her whole family will be coming to visit me in NC. She is in the middle of a crazy international road trip (they crossed over into Canada) and will be stopping in Raleigh on their way back home to Houston.

Kristen, with her husband and 2 daughters, will be my first visitors here and I am so excited! I can't wait to hear all about their road trip adventures and introduce her to Charles and see my new home. I'm most looking forward to chilling on the screened-in porch, chatting over beers as we watch the sunset over the pond. I imagine the guys will be in the garage, checking out the Harley and talking shit. And I'm sure the girls will be exploring around the pond.

I'm already relaxed just thinking about it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home sweet home

I am only a few days from closing on the sale of my house. The process has been really smooth and so far (knock on wood) everything is on track to happen on time. I will breathe a big sigh of relief when the check is in my hand and I can deposit it in the bank.

With the profit, I will be able to be completely debt free. I will feel a million pounds lighter.

Charles wants to get on this bandwagon too, so we've been talking about selling his home and looking for a new place of our own together. As much as I love the land that his home is on, I can't help but be excited about this too.

The first step is putting the house in our names. Yes, I said our names. The title is currently in his mother's name and with some events that took place in his family's lives lately, he feels its important to officially take his mom's name off the title. So we will buy the home for the remainder of what is owed on the mortgage, which is substantially less than what the house is worth.

Then we need to get a Realtor to check out the home to get a sense of what the market value would be. This is going to allow us to figure out what the price range for our new house will be.

Last night we were checking out homes online to see what's available in certain areas. We were getting so excited that we decided to drive out to one of them to check out the neighborhood. We learned quickly that neighborhoods and subdivisions change significantly from one block to the next. And a pretty home isn't all that pretty in the long run when you have a crappy trailer park around the corner.

So the search is on, for a Realtor, for an area to focus on, for a price range. We know what we want: 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, large open kitchen, less than 10 years old, 1 acre of land, preferably a porch. The home is out there. We just need to find it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Its funny when it's not me

I am not a fan of Sarah Palin, her politics, her lifestyle or much else about her.

1279057310_cover-290.jpg But I think its supremely shitty when your teenage daughter announces her engagement through a gossip magazine rather than to you. And you have to respond via a public statement to the media.

I mean really, what kind of fucked up family do you need to have?

Strong like bull

My new job has a very casual work environment. It's not uncommon to see people stroll by in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops. I don't think I could ever go that casual, but nice to know that its at least an option.

Another perk about working here is free access to the gym. Even as a contractor I can use it. Which is great because I need to do something. Charles is pretty fit, and while he makes me feel like a sexy rockstar, I know the reality.

So yesterday I went to the gym for my initial fitness assessment. I was poked and prodded by Allison, this cute little pixie originally from Alabama. I hopped on the scale (I reminded Allison to allow 10 pounds for shoes), I was pinched with the body fat calipers, I had my blood pressure and heart rate measured. Then I did 3 minutes of step-ups and had my heart rate measured again. Finally I did as many pushups as I could (25), as many crunches that I can do in one minute (47) and a flexibility test.



So I am 'strong like bull', but I need work everywhere else.

My goals will be to exercise regularly on the treadmill, elliptical or bicycle. At least 30 minutes for 3 days a week. Another goal is to cook more at home. I have been doing a lot of fast-food/restaurant eating. While its been convenient and enjoyable, it hasn't been doing much for my ass.


On the plus side, I do have some pretty strong muscles hiding under my layer of 28% body fat. I think I just need to remind them how to work and hopefully they can start pulling their weight again (har de har).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Biker chick

Charles came home with a new toy the other day. His pretty little Harley Davidson 2010 Dyna something-or-other. I don't have to really know what it is. It's black, shiny and looks really damn sweet.

We went riding among the windy, and wooded back roads that gave way to open fields, farm houses and bright red barns. I held on to Charles' hips and had to try to keep my mouth closed from smiling too hard. Don't want the extra protein of a bug flying in my mouth.

I'm still getting used to riding. He needs to put a backrest on for me so I won't feel like I'll slide off, and I need a more comfortable seat so my butt doesn't break, but it's a pretty cool feeling holding on to Charles and feeling the wind and the world rush by.

I could get used to this.


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Friday, July 09, 2010

Financial crisis


It's been a rough year, financially. When I ended my contract gig and got hired full-time earlier this year I knew there would be a decrease in take-home pay. But I didn't realize that I would actually be losing money by working full-time.

Well, that full-time gig is over and I'm back to doing contract work again. To me, there is no real difference. I still get benefits. I still get direct deposit. I still report directly to my client/manager. I still do a job.

For the first time in about a month, I will finally be getting a paycheck again. I can't wait.

I've been living off credit cards and my checking account. I even had to dip into my money market account. But I haven't been starving and I even had a chance to get some vacation time in.

But I'm ready to see those red lines disappear and get myself back into the green. And with the sale of my house pending (knock on wood, cross your fingers, say a little prayer), all those nagging debt monsters can finally disappear.

August 1st is the start of my new financial freedom.

Let freedom ring.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

New work home



I've been at my new job for 3 days. It doesn't suck. It actually has potential.

More to come...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The big move

It's official. I'm now in North Carolina.

This weekend was the final packing. I drove back to NJ Friday just in time for a party down in Manasquan at my friend's shore house. Beers, fireworks and a chill time.

The next two days was filled with activities of emptying out my house before closing at the end of the month. I don't want to have to come back up to NJ quickly to do any rush stuff, so to keep everyone's sanity, I decided to rent a storage unit and lock up whatever I didn't need immediately. This saved my parent's and me the hassle of carting stuff back to their basement, and saved Charles and I the stress of a weekend of driving, packing and driving. Now with my items safely stored, I can concentrate on my new job and my new life.





Monday, June 28, 2010

Green thumb

Poison IvyImage by bearclau via Flickr


Poison Ivy
Originally uploaded by bearclau

I thought the feeling of invincibility only lasted during your teenage years?

Last week, I decided to get busy on some yardwork at my new home. There was a patch of overgrown shrubs in the driveway turn-around area. There were masses of weeds and ivy that were suffocating the small azalea bushes that were just trying to hang on.

So I wore my floppy sun-hat and a pair of gardening gloves and started to pull up all the crap.

"Be careful, there's some poison ivy in there", Charles warned from the garage.

"Bah! I don't see any poison ivy." I thought back to my Girl Scout days when my handbook identified poison ivy as shiny leaves rimmed in red that were in clusters of threes.

This is what I was thinking of:


But apparently it doesn't always look like this.

So in a manic zeal of trying to be useful, I pulled at weeds, tore apart vines that grew among the shrubs, wiped away sweat with my (unknowingly tainted) gardening gloves and proudly displayed a 6 foot vine and root that I pulled from the ground, as if it was a prize fish freshly caught.

The results of my ineptitude did not reveal itself until the next day. There was some mild redness, a little itchiness. But we were on our way to driving to Disney World. I didn't have time to spend worrying about my itchy arms. So I picked up some cortisone and we were off.

A week later, my arms, and now chest and sides, are bearing the brunt of my stupidity.

Yes, that was poison ivy. No, I will not be doing any more 'gardening' in weedy areas anymore. Lesson learned.





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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bad Dog

Barry has not been a good house guest. While I was in NJ 2 weeks ago, I got a text from Charles with this picture.

Charles was on the receiving end of Barry's mouth and got a puncture wound. (!) Needless to say that Charles was not happy and Barry became an outside dog from that point on. Actually, he's no longer invited to stay here.

This is crushing to me. Imagine picking up your life and starting over in a new place and the only constant thing, your dog who has been your best friend for 5 years is now no longer the family pet who gets to hang out on the edge of the bed. But he's the invited house guest who has to live outside, like an animal, until I can bring him back to New Jersey to my parents' house.

I won't lie. I cried a lot knowing that my friend fucked up his chances of living with me in my new home. I don't know what will be the ending to this chapter of the story. My parent's won't keep him forever. I will likely have to find him a new home.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Keep your fingers crossed

Today I handed in my work laptop and completed my exit interview. On the way home I got a call from my Raleigh recruiter about setting up a WebEx interview with one of her clients tomorrow.

I also signed the contract for the accepted offer on my house. The offer price was within the range of what I wanted to accept and the closing date is July 30. If all this goes well, I will have a tremendous emotional and financial weight lifted off my shoulders.

So far, things are going well. But I won't be so bold as to not accept any wishes of luck, silent prayers directed my way or some general good thoughts. Every little bit helps, right?