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?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Today's Horoscope

You're in a restless, and no matter where you are, there's someplace else you'd rather be. While you might ordinarily be able to distract yourself until you can find a practical way to get out, you're unwilling to waste a moment now. Cut to the chase -- announce to one and all that you've got someplace to be, and get yourself there. It's time for the next step on your journey.
Again, this is a very fitting horoscope for me today. It's my last day of work today. And ever since I announced that I was leaving, my mind has been quickly shutting off. I've been focused on other things, selling my house, packing my stuff, settling in my new home, you know-- basic life stuff.

I know I should be getting concerned about the no work/mortgage due situation. But right now, I just can't. If I worry about it today or tomorrow, it will still be there. But in the meantime I'm enjoying every moment that I spend with Charles as he helps me get familiar with my new surroundings.

I met with a recruiter in Raleigh Wednesday morning which went well. I got a call from another person at a bank asking me to submit my resume for an instructional designer position with them. So at least there's some activity on the job front. That's encouraging enough to me to make me want to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon instead of spending 2 hours scouring the online job boards.

I feel extremely blessed/lucky/grateful about how my life has been lately. Its as if all those wishes after years of blowing out the candles on my birthday cake are finally coming true.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010


I've taken quite a leap. I upped my end date at work from June 25 to June 11. As in next Friday.

I did it because my billable work is slowing down and I felt really guilty hanging around with nothing (that I wanted) to do. I could work on some of the personal project/development-building stuff, but I no longer had the excitement for it. I was concentrating on packing my things, selling my house, settling in North Carolina, looking for work. Finishing out three more weeks of my current job just seems so mundane.

Sunday I'm packing some clothes and the dog in my car and driving down to NC for the week. I'll be back in NJ for the final move at the end of the month. While I'm there I'll do some things around the house, get familiarized with my surroundings, introduce the dogs to each other. Hopefully I go on some interviews.

But that's the exciting thing. I don't have a job lined up. My paychecks will stop coming in and my bills will continue to come. I'll have to pay for my health insurance.

I feel like I'm jumping out of a plane and crossing my fingers that my parachute will actually open. And I feel OK.

I think its because this is part of my adventure. I'm finally living one of those Springsteen songs where the guy and girl take off down that highway because 'its a town full of losers and I'm pulling out of here to win'. This is my shot as something amazing. And I won't be doing it alone.

(Flickr photo by dollie_mixtures)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The cost of employment

I just took a close look at my finances and had to do a double-take. Since I've been working full time at my job I have been losing almost $1000 a month!

My expenses have been fairly consistent over the past 9 months, except for a holiday spike, so it's not like I've been spending more. Even when I take into account my road trip in March, there's nothing really extravagant that I spent money on.

Yet making the move from contractor to full time crippled me financially. Sure I got the benefits of medical, dental, 401K, vacation, holidays. But holy crap does it come with a price! Over $20/hour difference (if I did my math correctly).

As much as I liked the job and the opportunity to grow my career, I realize that I just can't afford to work there. So it's a really good thing that I've decided to move to North Carolina. I just hope my house sells soon so I can get rid of my major expenses (mortgage, student loans, car). Then the cost of living at a lower rate/salary for the Raleigh area won't be such a strain on my wallet.

Shedding my skin

Flickr photo by brutalbrianaxIt's funny to me just how much my priorities have shifted these past few weeks. Or at least how I spend my time.

I don't watch TV much anymore. My Netflix subscription is practically useless. I have 4 DVDs sitting idle in a box. Books have been sitting in a pile and my journal is getting lonely.

I look around at the things that have accumulated in my house these past six years and wonder how they all got there? That glass pelican with a fish in its belly? Where did that come from? I know I didn't buy it.

As I pack up my belongings, I'm taking swift actions to get rid of the things that weigh me down, that have no value to me, that just take up space. I look at things that have fostered solo activities and consider their usefulness. Do I really want to spend hours making candles, or scrapbooking? No.

Because I no longer have to think of my life in the "I" sense. I can now look at it as "we". And it's not that I'm shedding my identity for the sake of someone else, but I'm allowing it to morph into something that allows for someone else to share some space.

And that feels really good.

(Flickr photo by brutalbrianax)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Turning 37

Life has been moving in high gear. But not too fast that I haven't had time to appreciate it.

I'm now 37 years old. I'm old enough to realize that the things that are most important to you are worth fighting for. And young enough to realize that you're never to old to dream.

The day after my birthday, I walked in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event in South Jersey. I was the team captain and tried to recruit my sorority sisters -- both alums and collegiate members -- to walk with me. I guess I should be surprised that only three other alums and two collegians showed up, but I really wasn't. I'm just really happy that I didn't try to do anything extravagant for my team.

I won't count dressing up as my sorority mascot as extravagant. That was fun.
BetXi Bear

I had always wanted to be a character at Disney World. Today I got to fulfill a small part of it. I gave high-fives to kids and passed out balloons. I posed in pictures and had a really fun time being a big kid.

IMGP4377That evening my family had a party for me. I broke the news that I put my house on the market and that I was moving in with Charles in North Carolina. I was glad he was there with me. Not only would it show to my family that I was serious about this, but it would give them more chances to get to know Charles and realize just how great a man he is.

I got some expected questions:
  • Where are you going to live? (with Charles)
  • When are you leaving? (by the end of June)
  • What about Barry? (He's coming with me)
  • What does he do for a living? (runs his own home improvement company)
  • How old are his daughters? (15 and 12)
  • Have you met them? (I met his oldest daughter)
  • What are you going to do for work? (I'll become a contractor for my current employer. If that doesn't work, then I'll find a job in Raleigh. If not, then I'll just be a kept woman.)
It turned out to be a really nice evening. There was no weirdness. My aunts and cousins were genuinely excited for me and the adventures I have in store. I pretty much got the 'thumbs up' on Charles. He fit in the family well and wasn't shy at all.

Birthday with my family

Sunday was a work day for Charles and I. We removed unnecessary furniture, spackled and painted, packed, cleaned and got the house ready for the market. It was a long, tiring day. Charles wanted to make sure that he got to do all the big jobs before he flew back home Monday morning. I had time for small packing and staging, but not too much. I was flying back down to NC Wednesday night and had to make sure everything was ready before then.

The best part is discovering how well we work together. We were a team. And when Charles got tired and hungry and cranky, I was still able to pick him up, find him food at my Mom's kitchen, and turn him human again. :)

This has been the best birthday ever.