my, where has the time gone?

Wow, it seems like just yesterday I was writing the “Goodbye, 2013” post.  I posted a couple times after that and next thing I know here I am at May, 2016!! WTF!

So what have I been up to? Let’s see. After the writing desk redo I just got super lazy and also didn’t have any notable projects going on. 2015 came and our property manager told us that they wouldn’t be renewing our lease. I knew that day was coming! The high rise we lived in is a condominium, but after the housing crash they had trouble selling and allowed some people to rent. We knew all along that if the market picked back up, we’d be out on the street.

Knowing that we were going to probably move to the ‘burbs, we thought it would be a good time to spend a year in a crappy, cheap apartment near where we want to live to get a feel for the commute and the area before we committed.  Moving from the Edgecliff sure was a sad day. In winter 2006 I left my parents’ house in the suburbs and moved downtown. Since then, I generally stayed in or close to the city center. I absolutely loved living at the Edgecliff and near Eden Park, but was constantly stir crazy. I wanted a place with a yard and garage and outdoor area, and some separation from the neighbors.

The day we packed up and moved to the world’s most uninspiring apartment complex in the ‘burbs was rough. It was the first time I was moving somewhere that didn’t feel like an improvement over the last place – instead, it was a temporary move that was strictly utilitarian. We spent 2015 saving even more than we had been before, with an eye on buying a house in 2016. When I have a goal in mind I get tunnel vision and hyper-focused. So, with that goal in mind came a whole lot of spending nothing, doing nothing, and being bored. 2015 was at once one of the most dull and most useful years of my life. It served its purpose well but boy, was it BORING!!! It’s amazing what you can do when you resign yourself to utter boredom for 12 months. I already knew this, though – I went to law school.

I dreamed about owning my own house since I was a little kid. On labor day weekend we went to an open house, as we had been doing all of 2015. Here’s a tip for you: when you buy a house you should know what you want. You will only know what you want if you’ve spent months or years ACTUALLY GOING TO LOOK at houses when you’re not in a position to buy.  There are things I thought I loved or hated or had to have or didn’t want, and over the course of a couple years I figured out what things “stuck” for me as priorities/dealbreakers and which things were passing fads in my mind. Had I been in a position to buy before I really understood all that about myself, I most surely would have experienced some buyer’s remorse. And no, looking online just isn’t the same – you have to go experience houses in person to really get a feel for them.

So we go to this open house in September at this house that just went on the market. It was as perfect as I could have imagined, and my husband loved it, too. We walked out with mental notes of all the things we loved about it, and in the driveway we agreed that it was our house, but no matter, because it would surely be sold by January.

I had a “favorites” list on Realtor.com and every day I refreshed it with nervous energy, waiting to scroll down to this house and see the little red and white “pending” box in the upper left corner. It never came…the price went down….and down…still nothing. In fact, no houses really moved much at all from October to January. So long story short, January came, we had saved to our comfort level, got pre-approved and got our house.

February 26th was closing day. It was a Friday. Closing took 15 minutes. I thought I would cry like Miss America but I didn’t – I was more stunned/shocked than anything. Walking into the house for the first time without an inspector or realtor or other relative stranger with us was an amazing feeling!!

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So I’m back – I think – assuming I don’t get lazy again. This place was pretty turnkey but I’d still like to document the changes we’ve made or plan to make! I feel like we’ve done so much already. It sure has kept us busy for a house that doesn’t need any work, and I like it that way!

oh, hey there, fun times….

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Where have I been??? Lots of places – mostly work. LOTS of work. Lots of snow, lots of wedding plans, and so on.  My husband and I got married in April. I am sure when I have the energy I will post 100 pics going on and on about everything we did in Napa 🙂

Above you will find the cutest creature on the planet, enjoying a moment out on the balcony with the greenery in the background…yeah I am super excited for the leaves to be back on the trees. Oh, how I have missed it!

Back to the wedding – my husband and I eloped (the knot.com psycho bitches would chime in right about her to school me on the fact that elope, in fact, is defined as running off IN SECRET to marry your spouse against a family’s wishes….) in Napa, California on April 17, 2014, and stayed there a few more days for our honeymoon.  If we did a full wedding our plan was going to be to get married on November 1, 2014, which would’ve been great because it’s a Saturday and it’s our fifth anniversary, but we opted for the eloping route and couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Cincinnati after such a long winter.

I’ve noticed that life really is a bitch in the winter.  I mean, i LOVE the snow, I really do, and couldn’t live without it, but man!  Spring time is party after party – Cinci de Mayo, the Flying Pig marathon in Cinci, Party in the Park, Derby Day, great weather for finally getting outside….then summer comes.  You lay poolside day after day, go to more nonstop events, not to mention camping, canoeing, catching up on books that you can’t find time to read anywhere but near the pool…then comes fall…wearing scarves and blazers seems so novel and fun….Halloween…Thanksgiving…Christmas….New Year’s Eve….parties!! decorating!! eating delicious food and drinking delicious drinks!! Happy fun time abound!! WOOOOOO!!!!! Happiness everywhere!!!

Then, it happens. Literally, you wake up on January 1 with the worst hangover of your life, crying and clutching the toilet and screaming at your significant other, “WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!?!” and that marks the beginning of four solid months of sitting on the couch, sleeping 12 hours a night, becoming deficient on Vitamin D, barely seeing a soul, and just generally feeling like reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO Go are the best thing you’ve got in your life.  (That all isn’t what happened to me, I am just using it as a for instance……).  This is called January 1st through April 30th, and it’s brutal. Even the happiest person feels like a trapped, anxious little creature by the end of April – at least in these parts…I have no idea what the assholes in Florida and Hawaii are doing during this time….

So yeah, that’s all over and I am pretty pumped about it! HAPPY MAY! HAPPY SPRING! HAPPY SUMMER! buy a bathing suit and a fresh bottle of sunscreen!  load up on moisture-wicking fabrics from Lululemon, and book every weekend for fun times!

Christmas decor, pt. 2 – Living Room decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of these pics are from before I moves the stockings to a new place.

I have a bunch of my grandmother’s old Christmas cards from as long ago as the late 1930’s, so I put a couple of those in frames on the shelf.  I had real cedar garland last year, which I loved, but I don’t think “real” greenery is my thing.  I think you’re supposed to keep that stuff watered (somehow) so mine got SUPER dried out very quick, and for fear of it being a fire hazard I took it down before Christmas even arrived.  It made a huge mess and was a pain to get in garbage bags.  I left a trail of browned greenery all the way down the hall and in the elevator!

SO this year I just bought cheap garland at michael’s – $6 for 18 feet…bought two strands and doubled them up with a 100-light strand over the sliding door, and took one 18 foot strand and folded it in half and wound it with lights for the 6 ft. shelf. Much easier, cheap, and I can reuse them.  It doesn’t look quote as pretty as the cedar garland looked when I first hung it, but it’ll do.

I also made some name tags.  I found the “Let There Be Peace on Earth” free downloadable name tags here, and then made the National Lampoon Christmas vacation ones myself.  That is my favorite movie, so I wanted some funny ones, too 🙂

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CNN ~ Loving and Losing a Dog…

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a wonderful week.  This is a few weeks overdue, but a slightly edited, pared-down version of the “my dog Jenny.” post from this summer was on CNN.  You can find the introductory article about peoples’ essays here:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/30/living/dog-tributes-irpt/index.html

And my essay here:

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-887574

The first picture on the main article slide show is Jenny’s picture.  Jen was a big part of my life, and my words about her obviously mean a lot to me.  I felt really lucky to be able to share those memories with so may other people. That all got published the same week I finished school – 4.5 years of law school at night, 22 years of school in total.  It was a good week.

gratitude ~ for the good, and the bad….

This year the words encompassing this particular holiday have sounded a little different to me.  It’s been a hard year, and I say that all the time, but I don’t say it negatively; I say it because every time I do, I am reminded that my version of a “hard year” is still thankfully mild compared to many, and that either way, I got through it one piece.  A necessary ingredient for true gratitude seems to be having the proper perspective. I know first hand that it’s an easy thing to lose.  Sometimes life helps us in that department, whether we want it to or not…

I’ve got one more challenge ahead of me after this weekend – I will study for 3 months, on top of working, for a three-day long bar exam that I can hopefully pass on my first try.  I’ve spent years fearing and worrying about this exam because I hate tests so much (who doesn’t?!), but something peculiar happened.

I wore myself thin in the spring.  We moved, I took four classes instead of three, I finished up my pro bono hours, and I was working full time.  I had to give up my bird Enzo, and as if that wasn’t difficult enough, the woman to whom I gave him turned out to be a scam artist and Enzo ended up at a flea market. The fact that I even found out about this in a roundabout way was all very lucky and unlikely.

After some action on my part and the part of others, I recovered Enzo’s belongings from that horrible liar, and got Enzo to a safe and loving home. I called the flea market man and made him cry. A month later, the flea market cohort of this woman had his aviary shut down because he wasn’t treating HIS birds right – all after my frantic communications with the man’s veterinarian lead to an investigation by authorities.  Animals may just be animals to some, but there were so many conflicted and heart wrenching feelings that came along with having to give him away.  I felt like I was trying to do what was best for him, and then after taking all the precautions I could, he still ended up in harm’s way.  The ending of all that was happy, but it was a difficult month and I learned the depth of deceit to which some people will go.

Amidst all those classes and pet drama, I ended up getting in a car wreck, through no fault of my own.  I spent my St. Patrick’s day in the hospital, and spent the rest of the weekend nauseous.  I spent another month navigating the messy world of auto insurance and car buying all while trying to get through the most demanding semester of my life.

May came, and I felt at peace for the first time all year.  Before long, my dog Jenny’s health started to fail, and then came 2.5 months of pain and worry and anticipation.  Immediately after she died, I had to take a class every day for 2 weeks straight.  It was a tough two weeks, stuck doing group work when I felt like i couldn’t think straight.

After all of that, things started to turn around.  School wasn’t overly busy this semester – busy yes, but manageable. As was work. But here I am, with a week of school left, and a big test over the horizon.  And I feel okay.  Maybe it’s an odd thing to say, but I feel like I must be as thankful for the hard times and bad things that happen in my life, as I am for the good ones.  Had I had an easy, smooth sailing year, I would be approaching my next task with the overwhelming fear and dread and negativity I felt about it for the last few years.  Instead, compared to the past few months, I am welcoming it and my current status in life with open arms.  No classes – coming home from work every night to sit with my books and study – with my boyfriend and pets safe and happy at home with me, and no more struggling at rush hour to get to class and eating dinner at 10 pm – sounds amazing.  I have lots to do but overall, the schedule is simpler and life is simpler right now.

The good feelings I feel right now would not be such had I not gone through some much tougher stuff to get here.  What felt tough and scary before, now feels manageable compared to the first 7, 8 months of this year.  When life gives you perspective, be thankful.  Sometimes it’s all you need in life to feel fulfilled once the dust finally settles.

I am not much of a cook but I’ll be making some turkey legs and sides for my immediate family today.  Wish me luck! And most of all, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

my dog Jenny.

Last Sunday, July 8th, I had to put my dog Jenny down.  It was one month shy of her 18th birthday.  I am almost 30, and 17 and a half years of my life, my number one priority outside of myself has been Jenny’s wellbeing.  The last 6 years, I have been her sole provider.  Even when there was no one else around, there was Jenny, by my side – and I by hers.  She was my little shadow.

The last couple of months, I knew the time was near.  When you spend all day, every day with an animal, know their every habit and movement, you notice those subtle shifts of decline in them, ones that no one else can detect.  She began to get even thinner, and she wasn’t eating as much.  The quick run down the 3 flights of stairs at work – to go outside around 10:30 am, dwindled.  She preferred the elevator, or slept through the time she needed to go out.  She then began to have more accidents, and couldn’t make it down the elevator to go outside.

Then one Monday morning in June at work, she fell and couldn’t get up.  I scooped her up and drove her immediately to the vets, where he said that her heart murmur and the seizure medications were just getting the best of her, along with age.  She was put on steroids, which kept her going for another month.  This past week, my boyfriend was leaving for Iowa for five days, his usual trip over the Fourth of July holiday.  I decided last minute that I couldn’t go.  I knew Jenny may be too much to handle for my father at this point, and besides, even if he could, it was five precious days – at this stage, I couldn’t miss any of it.

By Sunday, it was clear that it was Jenny’s time.  She couldn’t walk more than a few steps, even with the full dose of steroids. When she did take the steroids, they made her shake.  Despite the appetite increase she recently had from the medication, she wouldn’t eat.  Not even turkey, her absolute favorite.  Tim was on his way home Sunday, and I knew it was time.  It was THAT day – the day I dreaded since February 7, 1995 – the day I got Jenny.  The day I thought about often, and thought about daily since Jenny had seizures 3 years prior.

Jenny was my baby, my best friend, my greatest source of comfort.  My personality does not lend itself much to contentment – I am always going and doing and wondering what else is over the horizon.  For every moment of my life in the past 17.5 years that I’ve spent going, and doing, and running, and stressing, and pushing, and feeling restless over all other aspects of my life, Jenny was the thing that grounded me.  Wherever Jenny was felt like home, and everywhere else, did not.  During some of the darkest days of my life, I could bury my face in Jenny’s fur, listen to her heart beating, and feel like things were ok.  I loved that stinky dog smell.  It was the best smell in the world.

When I graduated college and moved out, Jenny came with me and also came with me to work every day – every day including last July 6th.  Whatever bond I had with her before, increased tenfold once it was just me and her, all day, every day.

When Jenny got older and spent much of her time asleep on her dog bed or in her crate, she may lay there for hours, away my boyfriend and me.  She could no longer hear.  I noticed that if I left for a moment, and had to come back to the apartment, I would find her up, standing in the living room or in the bedroom doorway, looking for me.  I’d walk up behind her, touch her, and even though she couldn’t hear or understand me, I’d say, “I’m here, sweetie.”  She’d immediately go lay back down.  Nothing broke my heart more than seeing that when I was gone, my dog knew it immediately and was searching for me.

Before she lost her hearing, Jenny was afraid of a lot of things.  She was a naturally nervous dog.  If you straightened up and walked around too much, she was nervous.  If you didn’t let her into a room she wanted to go to, she’d sit and shake until she got her way.  Drop a plate? Scary.  Vacuum? VERY scary.  In my old apartment, every Thursday morning the dumpster would be emptied behind our building.  I’d always wake up to Jenny lying on top of me, paws on my chest, nose to nose, shaking.  Our little Thursday morning routine was for her to awaken me like this, and I’d take her into the living room, further away from the noise, shut the bedroom door, and sit on the couch and hold her and comfort her until the big bad scary garbage truck went away.  Whenever I cried, she would shake.  If I got even the least bit upset, talking on the phone, having a conversation with a visitor, or even just yelling at the television, she would get upset, too. My fear and sadness, whether real or perceived, Jenny felt, too.

Before I got Jenny, I spent the majority of those 12 years of my life begging my parents for a dog.  I really enjoyed dogs.  As much as I did, I hadn’t the faintest idea how much there was to the relationship you have with a dog, until I got Jenny.  17 years is a long time. When I got her, she was a puppy, and I was a child. We grew up together. We both went through our independent selfish and crazy phases, and the last few years, we were both focused on each other. There’s something extra special about the bond you can have with an older dog.  They still may love to run around and play and get into trouble, but at the end of the day, they live for human contact and comfort.  I will never fully understand how I can feel so bonded to a creature with whom I haven’t shared a single conversation.  I will never know exactly how much about our life together she truly understood, and the worst part, on the day she died, as I waited several excruciating hours for my boyfriend to get home from Iowa to go with me, I couldn’t let her know how incredibly much she means to me, or how much happiness she gave me in my life.

The day she had her first seizure in 2009, I broke out in hives.  This has never happened to me. The pain I was feeling manifest itself physically.  I would have to say the emotional hole I was in that day was the deepest I had ever been in.  I had no one I felt I could really talk to about it, no one with which to share the pain and fear I felt, and my dog was at the emergency vet clinic where I had to leave her in the middle of the night.  At that point, Jenny had a solid healthy 15 years of life, so seeing her in that condition, and so out of nowhere, was a horrible shock for me.  The next morning when I picked her up, I didn’t know how she would be.  When I had left her, it was shortly after her grand mal seizure and she was pacing and disoriented and probably didn’t know where she was.  That morning she had recovered from it – and when she came through the doors into the waiting room, I saw her eyes search the room.  She saw me and ran to me, tail wagging, rubbing her face all over my legs and face and body – something I hadn’t really ever seen her do before.  I never saw her so relieved and happy to see me.

I will never understand any of this – where our souls go after we die – human and dog alike – or what the hell that bond was that I had with her.  When I got her 17 and a half years ago, I was excited to get a dog, but Jesus, I didn’t see it coming.  It was so complex and intense and more than I could have asked for.  Few of my human relationships have compared.  In 2006, a guy got into my secured apartment building downtown, and was apparently getting into peoples apartments and stealing.  I had just returned home from work, was in my bathroom, and left the door unlocked.  Next thing I know, I hear someone come in, and it was much earlier than when my roommate normally returned home.  My sweet, 30 pound, 12 year old senior dog turned into what seemed like a 100-pound, vicious Rottweiler. Just as I stepped out of the bathroom, my heart pounding, realizing that someone was there, my dog ran by me, growling and barking like I had never seen before, and chased the man out of the apartment and down the hallway.  By that time, someone had already reported the break in and the cops arrested the guy shortly thereafter.  What would have happened had my faithful friend not been there, I do not know.   When we lived downtown, strange men would approach me at times, and this “vicious” jenny would come out, and she’d snap and growl and show her teeth at certain people and stand in between me and them.  It wasn’t a reaction you ever saw from her ordinarily.  Whoever it was would almost always comment on her size – say “that’s a big dog.”  I’d laugh to myself after the fact – her protectiveness of me, this little 30 lb. girl, made these grown men think she was big and scary.

When we got Jenny from this woman Joyce, she had gotten her as an 8-week old puppy from the animal shelter in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  We lived in Lake in the Hills, IL at the time. When we got her, she urged us to bring Jenny back if we couldn’t handle her.  Jenny had already been bought and sent back to Joyce three times, on account of her energy and ability to get into trouble.  We kept her, and after eight solid years of that chaos, Jenny finally grew out of that puppy stage.

There isn’t a lot of comfort I have at the moment, except knowing that really, short of expecting her to live forever, I got everything out of my relationship with my dog that a human being could ask for.  A full, long life, so many days together at my office job for 6 years, and up until the end, good health.  She had so many people that knew her and loved her, and she basically got whatever she wanted.  I wish every dog in the world could get the life that Jenny had, and that every person could get the relationship with an animal that I had with Jenny.   When it comes to us humans and canines, the way it happened with Jenny and me is the way it’s supposed to be.

All I can hope for at this point is to be able to hold onto the precious memories of my dog, and to hope that she is still out there somewhere, jumping and playing like the healthy, happy, young dog she used to be.  I know that with Jenny’s passing, there is another dog out there, lonely and rejected – whose life will be forever changed for the better when they find their way into my arms.

I love you, Jenny, you’re my angel.  I am the luckiest human alive to have gotten the time with you that I did.  Rest in peace and hopefully some day we can play together again.

memorial day weekend in Cincinnati…

We spent a LOT of time at the pool with friends…as well as a few other things!!

Cincinnati Zoo

Cincinnati Zoo…love the giraffes!!!

more boat watching on the balcony….

I have no green thumb, so I got some cacti and succulents for the balcony…

grilled out – seafood and produce from Findlay Market…

~ I hope you had a great weekend!!