Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Alive and Kicking

It's been so busy. A whole new brand of busy from studying and going to college busy. 45, 50, maybe more hours every week at the Y. Teaching fitness classes, wrangling volunteers, putting out fires, and never making it to the bottom of my to-do list.

And I am a mother. Half-time. It's odd to say that. "I'm a half-time mother." I met a new neighbor tonight and said it out loud. She looked at my oddly, but it's true. Half of my life is spent wondering what I'll feed them for dinner, hoping they aren't trashing the house, wishing they'd read a book or draw a picture or cook a meal, rather than play a video game. The other half of my life I'm able to rest easily, knowing their dad is taking pretty good care of them.

I'm a girlfriend too. Mark and I are still...yup...madly in love. That's all. I don't need to harp on it. It's as good as it gets.

So I think you're mostly caught up. Let's see what else...I said goodbye to Casa del Mar in late March. I found a great rental just a few blocks away that's a smidge smaller, but, dare I say, cuter? sweeter? She doesn't have a name yet. We're toying with The Cottage, though Audrey isn't sold on that. Emily thinks it should be The Lair, and that certainly conjures an image. Ike, well, he'd just as soon we live in a Rubik's Cube.

I'm quite happy in it. I've mostly stopped driving to the old house (it still happens when I'm really wiped after work or a workout). I whipped myself in a frenzy making it into a home. And it is. Much like Casa del Mar, it too hugs me when I enter. I hope others feel the love too.

Mark and I tackled a couple of marathons this spring. One in Nashville, and two weeks later, one in Brookings, South Dakota. Both were great experiences. The former, quite hot, and for me especially, rather slow. And the latter, well, I don't think either of us had washed the salt off our sunburned bodies before we began speculating what our next race should be. We settled on one that was well reviewed by our marathoner peers, in a cool climate, and soon enough that we could pretend that the 26.2 we'd run in Tennessee was a training run. We PR'd, and have already signed up for the Twin Cities marathon in October.

I still cook...now and then. It's not like it used to be. I often panic at about 4:00 when I realize I don't know what I'll make for dinner with the little I have in the cupboards. My shopping trips and become small and frequent -- a real time sucker, but seemingly the best I can do with what I have at the end of the day. I still claim my superpower is Making Lunch Out of Nothing at All. Sometimes I'm more super than others.

Oh, and in case you hadn't picked up on this by now...I'm alive.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

Sitting in front of the fire, contented beyond anything I've ever known, I face my third Christmas with Mark and family.

Christmas isn't a very big deal to me. As a matter of fact, I see it as more of a burden -- stimulating someone else's economy at the expense of my own. While I could forego it all together, I feel a reasonable responsibility to offer my kids at least a small taste of normalcy in their otherwise occasionally odd and always on a shoestring lives.

And as it happens, this holiday season is as comfortable as any I've ever known. No longer subsisting on student loans, I have my diploma, a job, and was even recently promoted to a permanent director position at the Y. I'm not stopping here by any means, but for a girl just six months out of school I'm feeling a mite proud of myself.

So I managed a few more gifties for the kids this year -- fewer of them from a thrift store than in years past. I didn't go overboard by any means, and under the tree are the usual socks, pants, toothbrushes and lip balm, but the extras that I haven't been able to offer make me feel pretty darn good about the path I'm travelling.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Biennial Review

Waaay back in the days of working at the thrift shop during the time I was contemplating the demise of my marriage, I recall a conversation with Concert Katrina in which she asked what I desired in a future mate.
"He needs to have a job," I said.
"What else?"
"That's it. A steady job. That's my only requirement."
"You have to want more than that. You need to figure it out and write it down so that you don't settle for less than you deserve," she insisted.
Well, it took me a couple of major romantic flops before I scribbled down a few requests. [Exactly] two years ago, I spent a pensive day composing a post that outlined what I expected from my next relationship. I had just exited a dangerous liaison and wanted to have some words that I could glance at to remind me of what I demanded in my next love. Admittedly, I had a certain fella in mind when I wrote these words, but as I told him after he read the blog post that I had also "kept my thoughts open to another unknown special someone." If I learned only one thing through all those years of love and heartbreak, it was that I had to keep my options (and my heart) available to all possibilities.

Luckily, it was only a few days later that Mark and I decided to give it a go and haven't looked back. As I glance through this letter, I see that what I've got is just what I wanted out of what I definitively declare to be a great love.

And just so I can make this post look longer and save you from digging two years back...here it is.

An Open Letter to my Next Great Love

Dear Mr. Right,

I'm sure you have been wondering when I would come along. You've been living a good life for some time now. You are a wonderful person with tremendous love for your family and friends. You are complete on your own, but feel a tug toward a giving, loving relationship. And here I am. A like-minded spirit who longs for the same partnership. We are not the same, but we are not a case of "opposites attract" either. Our full lives leave just enough room for each other.

A little about me...I am not perfect, but I'm damn good. I am loving. I am smart. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am funny. If you do not believe these to be true, then this letter is not addressed to you. By societal standards, I might not meet any of these metrics, but for you, I give more love than you knew possible. To you, I am impressively intelligent. Because of you, I can move mountains. In your eyes, there is no greater beauty. With you, I laugh like no other.

And you are the most handsome, charming, witty delightful fellow I'll ever know. The mere thought of you brings a smile to my face. Your presence brings me comfort when I feel the world collapsing on me. You are my rock. If you don't believe these things about yourself then this note is not intended for you.

I have no desire to change you and you must not wish to change me. I will not surrender my sense of self. I will not give away those things that make me Me. Yet I am not stagnant. I will continue to grow in the way my heart directs. You will continue to grow in the way your heart directs. And if this essay was written to you, our hearts will move forward together.

I have much to offer, and am open to receive as well. Despite the fullness of my life, there is a void that only you will fill. And we might not recognize our love immediately. This could very well take time. We will learn each other, ourselves and us. Only then will we know that this message was meant for you. Parts of our lives will mesh seamlessly, others not so easily. But obstacles will pale in the light of our love. I have quirks and flaws. So do you. These will sometimes grate nerves, but more often than not, they will be overlooked or even embraced. We each love the other's whole self.

Our lives will be filled with more laughter than tears, more joy than pain, more love than doubt. And lots of music and dancing and kisses and hugs.

Because we are meant to be, when you are ready, I will be too. I will not be impatient while you find your way to me. I have much to do, continuing to grow and learn and teach and be. For now, I will live my life, and you, yours. Sometime, somewhere, our paths will cross. When they do, it will be an extraordinary union, for we are both extraordinary people and together we will build an extraordinary life.

Thank you for your time, my truest love. I look forward to the day we meet.

Your next great love

Monday, October 24, 2011

California Dreamin'

Usually when Mark alerts me of an upcoming business trip, he's requesting my services as a dog sitter, so when he told me about an upcoming conference in San Francisco...and then offered to fly me out to join him for the weekend, I was immediately concerned for the dog's well being.

Or maybe not.

I had a few weeks to revel in the excitement of our upcoming getaway (and wrangle a kid weekend swap -- thanks, Mr. X). And as the big day grew near, I got my work-ducks in their work-rows, packed my purple boots and was on my way.

I hopped my flight, didn't miss any connections and even chose the correct train and ended up in the right part of the City by the Bay. Google maps told me to take a trolley up to the hotel, but the waiting line was prohibitively long and my amazing pocket computer's map said I was only 0.8 miles from my destination, so I hoofed it. Up a hill. I'm serious. This was a hill. No, really. A hill.

When I got to the top of Nob Hill, I took a moment to stop panting before entering the posh Fairmont Hotel. Mark was wrapping up his last session of the day so I headed back out (sans suitcase) and strolled through the neighborhood for a bit before I joined him for a cocktail reception. Our weekend had begun!

That evening we set out for dinner in a cab, but opted to return via cable car. I nestled into Mark as we climbed the hill in the evening breeze and savored one of those romantic movie moments that a young girl dreams about. A gorgeous night in an amazing city clutched in the arms of my true love...swoon.

The next morning after a cappuccino, we managed a 12-mile run through the city and along the bay coast. It was quite a treat to be enjoying new scenery, sounds and, well, smells. We made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge, turned around and eventually headed through more of the city so we could finish at the amazing Blue Bottle coffee shop for a much needed caffeine boost. Again intending to take the cable cars up to the hotel, we found a massive line, so opted to walk, weary legs and all. Then Mark had a brilliant plan: We should run the hill. Always up for a challenge, I gave chase and we trudged up Mason Street, much to the amusement of those making their way down.

As we cleaned up, Mark asked if there was anything I'd like to do while in the city. My response? Go to a thrift store. Mark suggested we consider seeing the massive redwoods. (I suppose a thrift store can wait.) We soon took off for Muir Woods to stand among trees that have seen a millennium and then some. Our legs fussed a bit, but the forest was awe inspiring.

We snuck in a nap once back at the hotel but had to make it a short one -- we had dinner plans. One of Mark's high school classmates lives in Oakland and promised to make us dinner. We arrived to a breathtaking view from their living room and fantastic company. Kathy and Tyrone proved amazing hosts and we enjoyed ourselves until way-too-late into the night.

The next day was a short one with little more on my agenda than coffee and to take Mark out for a thank-you lunch. At the same time, I was going to be a little selfish, wanting to be sure I could eat more than two menu items (Friday night's restaurant was surprisingly unable to comprehend my food sensitivity). Through the magic of Google, I found a completely gluten-free restaurant. When we arrived, it took all of my strength not to ask if each item was really GF. The menu was inexpensive, so we ordered one of almost everything, trying the various  fillings, toppings and breads inspired by Venezuelan cuisine. I was beside myself, eating without worry of being glutened. We ended up walking the two miles back to the hotel, which was a pretty good idea after eating half an acre of  corn[meal]. We also had several hours on an airplane ahead of us and our legs didn't fuss too much knowing we'd soon be sedentary.

We headed toward home with thoughts of a busy workweek on the horizon, but enjoyed a few more moments of relaxing together before we called it a weekend. I caught a vision of what it might feel like to lead a grown-up life -- one with getaways and vacations and adventures. I think after all these years of avoiding it, I'm ready to take the plunge into adulthood. Despite its challenges, it appears to have some decent perks.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Much Obliged

I've had a few moments lately of immense appreciation for my current financial position. While my job might end in February (it's a pilot, after all) and my wages are reflective of my employer's not-for-profit status, I feel a sense of security that I haven't known in years...or ever really.

A few days ago as I was nearing the Y, I passed a garbage truck and the men who work so hard to dispose of our filth and waste. I looked at myself, dressed to sit in an office and interact with fellow professionals and clients, and I was flooded with gratitude for my education. I'm pretty sure the sanitary engineers are earning more per hour than I am right now, but my future is bright (and less odorous). I will be able to work many more years, multiply my skill set and increase my income. I'm so grateful to have a degree.

And just last night when the two young ones expressed a need for school supplies and Halloween accessories, I was able to readily agree. It wasn't until I'd been wandering around WalMart for far too long that I realized how not stressed I felt. And there was that flood of gratitude again. Just a few months ago (and for most of my tenure as a parent), additional expenses, especially of the surprise variety, could put me over the edge. I can't count the times in the last two years I've had to deny my kids a $10-something because the household budget was so tight. It's not like I'm throwing cash around now, but to be able to buy the boy a hat for his field trip was enormously satisfying.

So while it's more or less a joke that I always offer the same pat response when a co-worker asks how I'm doing, it's true. Livin' the dream, folks. I'm livin' the dream.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I've decided that my ability to blog is lost. I've recently started several posts that are completely factual and inherently un-witty. This isn't good. I'm pretty sure one of the reasons I snagged my main man was that he could tell who I was from day one, having honestly chronicled my life for all to see in some sort of clever fashion. I'm not sure I have it in me anymore.

I'm thinking that time is so much harder to come by now that I'm employed than it was when I was a student. Don't get me wrong...being in college was soooo much harder than having a job. And while there was a finite amount of energy I could put toward researching and studying and paper writing, I still had time and wit at the end of the day for a post every now and again.

Though not nearly as mentally exhausting as school, employment is ridiculously time consuming. I make it to the end of my days and weeks with little more than dinner and maybe a light clean-up in me. Typing is just too much to ask of my keyboard-weary hands.

Sorry if you had your hopes up that I might actually say something...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are You A Laundry Service?

This was the subject line to a recent email. It took me a second before I remembered that I owned a blog and it's title referred to laundry. Oops.
Hey Jennifer,

I'm reaching out to you because Thumbtack is getting a lot of job leads for laundry services, and I'm looking for another laundry service who is interested in taking on more clients.

After checking out your website I think you are a great fit for Thumbtack and I'd love to start sending you job leadsPlease fill out a few details about your skills and rates, and I'll start forwarding you potential new clients.

If you have any questions about what Thumbtack can provide, please don't hesitate to ask.

Oh, Heather...I promise, you don't want to send me any leads for laundering jobs. I don't sort out my whites and my running gear has perma-funk.

And wouldn't you be better off pursuing someone with a molehill of laundry?