“I wanna celebrate and live my life”

I had a dance party in my car with Taio Cruz blasting on the way home from work. I want to jump and sing and celebrate. I want to go out for a good meal. I want to go on a shopping spree. I want to get my nails done and read a good book. I want to garden. I want to finish painting my living room. All at once.

Hell week at work is over. And our department kicked ass. I finally got recognition. Was told thank you. Was validated.

All the stress was worth it.

For the rest of the week, I will have off, and get to refocus on myself, my house, the cats, and my man. But tonight, I spent some time thinking about how much I’ve been through, how much I have to give, and how no matter what happens, I can get through it. The man and I got to go out tonight to celebrate a good friends birthday, and had a drink to toast him. And I got to toast myself.

And I toast you all too. To my family, coworkers and friends – thank you will never be enough. Thank you for your encouragement, your advice, your kind words, your concern, your hugs, your shared tears, and to one special person – thank you for the first Administrative Assistant Day present I have ever gotten.

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working it

As I’m writing this, I’m linked into my VPN for work, formatting and printing documents for an important site visit that is happening this coming Monday and Tuesday. I’ve already worked 56 hours this week. Last week wasn’t much better.

So tonight, as my man is up in Massachusetts for the christening of a dear friends baby boy, I partook of a dinner of Triscuits and cheese, and instead of relaxing just keep working.  I could go to bed. I’ve watched Dateline, and Jay Leno isn’t really that funny anymore but I’m too lazy to change the TV channel.

And tomorrow, under threat of an impending “Spring Noreaster”, I’ll be going to work early in the morning, and who knows how many hours I’ll be putting in.

So to those of you who keep coming back to my blog, maybe expecting an update, just know that it’s on hold (much like my living room renovation) as I’m working it. I promise, I’ve got some good entries already written in my head.Some really exciting things have happened to the house in the pas weeks, but days and nights spent staring at my computer screen have sapped me of the energy to do anything for me – like this blog.

Sunday I’ll get a chance to breath, take a break. I’ll probably do my own nails and spend some quality time with my closet picking the “perfect” outfits for Monday and Tuesday. Hellweek is coming to an end, but the real stress is just beginning.

How do you deal with stress? Any words of advice? Who wants to come pick my outfits?

 

 

grow old along with me

To My Husband on His Birthday:

You will never know how much you mean to me. It sounds cliche and trite, but it is the truest thing that I could ever say.

Last year, we were celebrating while simultaneously, anxiously awaiting mortgage approval. We weren’t exactly sure what was in store for us, but we were living among packed up boxes, hopeful that things were going to go smoothly.

So tonight, I’m happy that I could set the dining room table in our house and cook in our very own kitchen, on the stove that we picked together. And I’m glad that even though I’m not the best cook in the world, you were happy, and didn’t mind grilling the steaks.  I took joy in picking out a gift for you – something simple, but something that you appreciated (or faked very well).

There are so many other things that I wish I could give you and spoil you with. But you are happy with the little things, and for that I’m grateful.

I hope that the next year gives you everything that you desire, and that your wishes come true.

And I hope someday I’ll be able to find the words to truly tell you how much I love you.

Happy 30th birthday, husband. I’m so very glad that you’re mine.

 

listing

When we announced that we were getting married, the man and I began the process of registering for gifts. It felt odd to tell people exactly what we wanted.  Somehow I thought the excitement would be taken out of the whole process by compiling our wishes into neat lists of scanned barcodes from stores.

I have always loved presents, big or small.  Sometimes if the man brings home flowers or the can of coffee beans that I love, and it isn’t a birthday or holiday, I am elated. Simply because of the surprise in it all.  In conversations with my mom, we’ll often talk about something I saw for the house that is nice, or something she saw and wondered whether I would want.  If it is something practical that I’m putting off buying until I can find a deal or have some extra money, my mom will offer to get it for me. “Just put it on my credit card and say ‘thank you’ – that’s all I want” she’ll tell me. And at Christmas, I’ll tell her some things I’m thinking of for gifts, like a new wallet, to which she’ll reply “Tell me exactly what you want”.  I drive her insane because in both cases, I usually say “just surprise me with it.” There is a certain joy that comes from getting gifts that aren’t expected, aren’t prescribed by me.

When the man and I began compiling wedding registries, we tried to pick practical things like towels and glasses.  When it came to the fancier things like our china, crystal candlesticks, and vases – the pretty things that I cherish when it comes to entertaining and decorating – I felt guilty for scanning the barcodes, choosing things that were extravagant and asking people to indulge our whims. But together the man and I discussed what was practical, what we’d really use, and knew that if we didn’t get something, that was okay too.

As response cards began arriving, I found it odd when we would get a note with the reply card checked “regretfully decline”, apologizing that they couldn’t make it to the wedding and were sorry but they weren’t in a position to send a gift, but would later. We didn’t care who did or didn’t get us something. Invariably, we responded “just think of us on that day”.  I wonder if people thought it was a trite response, meant to make them feel better.  But the list of the people we invited wasn’t out of obligation, it was out of joy to share our own special moment with them. It was the list of people we had gone through college with, or served in the military with, or met by chance and formed an indelible bond with. And of course it was our family.

Since we moved into the house, we’ve been asked over and over what we want as a gift for a housewarming, the holidays or birthdays, or sometimes just because.  It feels just as odd as compiling a registry list. “Surprise me” wasn’t often well received, and there was insistence on naming an object. When I said a gallon of paint, I got laughed at until I offered to give them the paint color code. How can we ask for anything else? We have been spoiled by so many people’s generosity – our parents and family especially – that we received so many amazing gifts when we got married and when we bought the house. They were all unexpected and wonderful. All the things that a new couple starting out need to begin building a life, a home, a sanctuary. And it didn’t matter how big or small – it was the fact that people who we haven’t seen in years, like my best friend from high school, sent us something. We were reminded how much we were loved, how much we mattered to other people out there.

I still make lists of things that I’d like, that I dream for. When I get a new job, I’ll buy that pair of shoes.  When we get our tax return, maybe I’ll finally get the heat stripping gun. When I save some money, I’ll buy that special item for my mom, or the man, or my sister-in-law, or my friend in Arizona who I never get to see.  I keep lists of articles that I’ll use if I ever start my PhD, and lists of websites that have tips on how to remove tarnish from door hinges. I have lists of dream jobs, of nail polish colors I want, of eco-friendly cleaning products, of cat furniture… I list my life away.

There are so many things that I take for granted on a regular basis, no matter how much I try to focus on what we do have, and not what we can’t afford to do right now. And I take for granted that we are much luckier than a lot of people our age, struggling just to put dinner on the table. We have so much beauty around us that I think I’m just going to start listing the practical things again, what we can use, what we need. And maybe start listing everything that is going right, too. And if someone gives us that extra gallon of paint, or that fancy serving dish, or that book that I’ve been coveting, then it will just be the lovely surprise on top of everything else.

mythical being of mischief

She's all ears. Luna, 2003

People say that pets are good for you, that they reduce your stress and give you great joy.  In October of 2003, it was love at first sight. I was driving home with my college roommate and we pulled into our apartment complex when we saw the property managers wife sitting on the sidewalk with a cardboard box.  We slowed down and saw that the box was squirming with kittens.

Hours later, we were on the way to a vet with a small gray bundle of big ears and big eyes with ear mites.  But she was amazing and we named her Luna.

All grown up, sitting on my thesis - 2007

Luna has now been through two moves, another roommate, and my husband moving home from Hawaii.  When my husband – then fiancé, henceforth referred to as “the man” – moved into our two bedroom apartment, Luna was not nice.  Shewasn’t even courteous to him.  One night, the man and I got into a tickle fight and he tackled me onto the bed.  Luna came charging into the bedroom, jumped on the bed, and bit the back of the man’s thigh, ripping his sweatpants open and drawing blood. Needless to say, they had a talk. And gradually, she began to realize that we were no longer a female only apartment, and she would have to (begrudgingly) share me, and her space, with another human.

Whenever the man is away for a long weekend or on a deployment, I invariably relied on the love of Luna to get me through the long lonely nights.  I talked to her, she sat on the couch with me while I watched TV, and we shared dinner.

On May 22, 2010 I got a phone call from the man who was visiting his parent’s in the country. A small kitten had gotten trapped in a Have a Heart trap and an employee at their inn brought the kitten inside. And the man plucked the kitten up. And then I got this in a text message.

heartbreaker.

That is the man, holding an adorable poofy ball of cuteness. He asked if I wanted him to bring the kitten home. I think my response was to squeal and pass out.

The man brought him to a vet nearby his parent’s house, where they determined he was healthy and about 7 weeks old. And thus began our life with two cats. But it did not begin quietly.  Luna was nearly 7 years old, and had been an only child. It was bad enough sharing me with the man, but now there was another furry four legged creature wobbling around our apartment, climbing on the bed, sharing her food, and stealing the best spots of sun in the apartment.

Naming the new ball of fur was the hardest part. His markings were beautiful – long stripes of black and caramel on his back, black spots on his soft latte colored belly, and black mascara like markings around his eyes. The man and I went back and forth with various names, but we finally settled on one that described his personality perfectly. Loki – the god of mischief.

Luna begrudgingly sharing the sun - and her yarn ball - with Loki

We learned early on that if it crinkled, moved, or was shiny, it was Loki’s. He would attack it and own it, and rarely if ever give it up.  When the man and I started receiving presents for our wedding, we discovered very quickly that Loki was adept at “organizing” packing paper that inevitably came in ever box.

"You left this paper on the ground for me, right?"

Loki is the decidedly man’s cat. When we got a tree cat scratcher, Loki quickly learned to climb all the way to the top so that he could rub up against the man whenever he was standing next to it. Soon, the man ended up with his own personal parrot; Loki will jump up on his shoulder and sit there, sometimes gnawing on his shoulderblade or scratching his back while the man rubs Loki on the head.

Loki "helping" with computer work a.k.a. pretending to be a parrot

Now, two years later, they live in a state of tolerance, with occasional affection and acceptance. It is amazing to see how two cats who live in the same house can be so totally different. Loki goes insane for a laser pointer, while Luna looks at it with mild interest. Luna gets into bed about 15 minutes after me every night and sleeps in the same place – curled up behind my knees while I lay on my side.  Loki could care less if you’re reading in bed, while Luna decides that you’re not busy and headbutts your book (or now even my nook!) until you rub her. Loki goes nuts for fish, while Luna is decidedly a chicken lover. But one thing is true about them both: they provide endless amusement, joy, and affection. They are a comfort when I get home from a long day at work.  They aren’t the best assistants when it comes to house work, but they are quick to help attack a Swiffer and are infinitely entertaining when it comes to vacuums and paint rollers.

"Good morning! You weren't sleeping, were you?"

Today is the day we dedicated as Loki’s birthday. Luna may miss being an only child sometimes, but I can’t imagine our life without him. Happy birthday, mischief maker.

Chilling on the radiator, Christmas 2011.

Can’t get enough of Loki’s cuteness?

You can his epic face cleaning skills as a kitten here.