Category: moving

2013: A Year in Photos

It’s funny how you forget your own life, how the good things slip into the dusty corners of our memories the way a favorite sweater can be lost in the back of an over-full closet, missing an entire season of usefulness.  When I think over the year, I note how hard it was to wait for information about where we would be moving, and how frustrating our whole moving experience was because of the HR delays.  But when I look at the photos from this year, I remember how wonderful it was, how blessed we have been with the best of friends, and how happy we are even though we are quite far from those we love.  And so today, I’m taking a few minutes to look back over 2013 and appreciate the many gifts, experiences, travels, and opportunities for growth that came my way this year.

My first meeting at the EEOB!  If I'd known about this meeting in advance I would have dressed better.

My first meeting at the EEOB! If I’d known about this meeting in advance I would have dressed better.

Strawberry Picking with friends and family!

Strawberry Picking with friends and family!

Leadership tips from Fake George Washington at Mount Vernon.

Leadership tips from Fake George Washington at Mount Vernon.

A visit to DC's Police Memorial - an often forgotten but lovely area near Judiciary Square.

A visit to DC’s Police Memorial – an often forgotten but lovely area near Judiciary Square.

We drove up to Philly to see some history.

We drove up to Philly to see some history.

And stopped over in Atlantic City, NJ on the way home.

And stopped over in Atlantic City, NJ on the way home.

hiking with friends

A hike along the Potomac with friends.

A view from the President's Box of the Hubby's graduate school graduation.

A view from the President’s Box of the Hubby’s graduation.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg.  Here's number 1.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg. Here’s number 1.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg.  Here's number 2.

Number 2.

Three photos from our trips to Gettysburg.  Here's number 3.

And number 3.

Cherry Blossoms at Jefferson Memorial

A view of the Jefferson Memorial during Cherry Blossom season, taken with a friend during my lunch break at work.

A tour of the Law Library of Congress, including the [no longer active] card catalog.

A tour of the Law Library of Congress, including the [no longer active] enormous card catalog.

July began with a small-town parade in Clarkston, MI.

July began with a small-town parade in Clarkston, MI.

Also?  Fishing.

Also:  Fishing.

We visited San Francisco's best nature spots (and Alcatraz).

We visited San Francisco’s best nature spots (and Alcatraz).

We tasted wine grown among lavender fields...

We tasted wine grown among lavender fields…

We saw dozens of harbor seals resting in the sun.

We saw dozens of harbor seals resting in the sun.

We searched Muir Woods high and low for banana slugs -- until I finally found this one.

We searched Muir Woods high and low for banana slugs — until I finally found this one.

And then, it was time to go.  We left behind our first apartment as a married couple...

And then, it was time to go. We left behind our first apartment as a married couple…

And we drove across the country to set up our homestead in the Midwest.

And we drove across the country to set up our new homestead in the Midwest.

The journey was made easier by my best friend, and tastier by the cookies her aunt gave us on our pit stop in Pittsburgh.

The journey was made easier by my best friend, and tastier by the cookies her aunt gave us on our pit stop in Pittsburgh.

We spent some time getting to know our new city...

We spent some time getting to know our new city…

And took advantage of our geographical proximity to Touchdown Jesus, cheering my Fighting Irish to a devastating loss.

And took advantage of our geographical proximity to Touchdown Jesus, cheering my Fighting Irish to a devastating loss.

And escaped for a weekend away celebrating a good friend's happy marriage.

We escaped for a weekend away celebrating a good friend’s happy marriage.

We had a few lovely visits from family and friends before it got too cold for pleasant outings.

We had a few lovely visits from family and friends before it got too cold for pleasant outings.

But even with the cold weather, Leo feels right at home.

But even with the cold weather, Leo feels right at home.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with both sides of our family...

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with both sides of our family…

And have enjoyed the festivities leading up to our first Christmas as Chicago residents.

And have enjoyed the festivities leading up to our first Christmas as Chicago residents.

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Our Saturday at the DMV . . .

It took three tries, but we have officially given up our Maryland drivers’ licenses and registered to vote in Illinois.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t all that fun.

The first time we went to the DMV, H realized he didn’t have the proper paperwork and we spent an hour looking for his documents, putting us at the DMV at approximately 10:45 with a line around the block and no parking for miles.  We gave up and went out to lunch.

The second try, we didn’t make it that far.  We had just received H’s new company car [which I’m not permitted to drive, but THAT is another story . . . ] and when we went downstairs to start it up and drive away, it wouldn’t start.  The battery was completely dead, with only 27 miles on the car.  Bummer.

Last weekend the DMV was closed for Veteran’s Day, so on our fourth straight week of DMV attempts, we made it to the DMV before 9:00 and into the building by 10:00.  They misspelled our last name on H’s license three times, but we both passed our written tests on the first try and made it out of there with red-and-white Illinois licenses.  We are quite sad to give up the blue crabs that have adorned our Maryland licenses since we married.

Some thoughts on our experience at the Illinois’ DMV:

  • There should really be indoor lines since it is FREEZING in Illinois most of the year.  Just saying.
  • Staff members should avoid yelling announcements at a crowd while announcements are being made over the intercom.  We just cannot understand both announcements if they are made simultaneously.  Take turns.
  • The men directing human traffic [a.k.a. the lines] were remarkably old and grumpy.  With longer-than-normal sideburns and wearing both denim jackets and denim pants.  It’s not a cute look, but somehow it worked for the environment.
  • Making fun of the voice of your patron by repeating her answer to your questions back to her is unprofessional.  However, giving her a fist-bump for being the most well prepared person that has ever come to the DMV was a good way to make up for your previous error in judgment.  Good, but not quite good enough.
  • Questions like “How can you avoid driving under the influence?  a) don’t drink, b) drink beer, and c) drink less than usual” are not very hard.  Also, “How do you get alcohol out of your system? a) cold shower, b) cup of coffee, c) time” — just not that tricky.
  • It’s a little weird how many times you remind patrons of the DMV that Jesse White is the Secretary of State.  I don’t think anyone there really cares what his name is all that much.

We left the DMV and went up to XOCO to treat ourselves to a delicious Mexican lunch to celebrate our accomplishment.

So, what did you do this Saturday?  Anything exciting?

Quick Update

1.  We still haven’t found a great Chinese takeout place in Chicago.  We live really close to Chinatown and we’ve tried a few places, but none of the places we’ve tried has been all that delicious.  It makes me really miss DC because we had a really delicious Chinese restaurant right by our apartment and it was the best for a lazy faux-Friday [Thursday] evening.

2.  This week at work we had a baby shower for one of my coworkers and it was the most fun I’ve ever had at a shower [wedding or baby]!  It was co-ed and not awkward at all.  I’ll be taking over some of the work of my coworker while she is on maternity leave and I’m pretty excited about it.

3.  Lisa Kudrow is killing it on Scandal lately.  I really like her in this more serious role.  Also, she has almost convinced me to eat Yoplait yogurt again.  Almost.

4.  I CAN’T WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS!  AND THANKSGIVING!  It’s been freezing out for weeks now and I’m feeling like it is already appropriate for Christmas music and Christmas lights and Christmas cookies.  Also, I’ve learned that there is a huge difference between my wool socks and my regular socks.  Wool socks are clearly superior.

5.  I’ve been making a lot of reports at work lately and I really like doing it.  I always struggle to name the tasks I like to complete, because I honestly like doing anything that needs to be done and keeps my days busy and exciting, so I’m very happy to add “prepare official reports to Congress” and “develop explanatory and instructive materials for employees and stakeholders” to that list of things I enjoy.

 

Check Out My Bookshelf: A Link-Up!

Today I’m sharing my bookshelf, as part of a link-up of bloggers who love books.  Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote that she loves to see others’ bookshelves, that it helps her find common ground with the people in her life.  I’m excited about participating in this link-up because I agree that what people read, and which books they hold on to, says a lot about them.  I’m looking forward to checking out the submissions!

Personally, I hate letting go of a book.  I want to SAVE THEM ALL forever.  I have this fear that I’ll want to quote something I read and won’t be able to find the right book.  As if any day now I could be asked to prepare an essay on literature or history to save my life or the lives of others.  I know it’s not a realistic worry, but I still struggle to let them go.  I want to own all of the books since my brain cannot hold all of the knowledge.

The most embarrassing part of that struggle is that many of the books I’ve picked up over the years because I wanted to “read” them and “know” the contents, I haven’t actually gotten around to reading.  I want to have all of the important books, but  I will often choose to spend my free time watching a movie or going shopping.  The books I want to know and understand are meaty and intense, but my brain gets used up at work and these books that I want to soak up and study and understand just sit, unloved, on the shelf.

Since we’ve just moved, my bookshelves make absolutely no sense.  I’ve packed the books in any-which-way just so they aren’t in boxes.  It’s amazing how many books can fit on a shelf if you don’t care at all how it looks.  Here’s a snapshot into my bookshelf:

Top Shelf

The top shelf is crammed full.  As I unpacked, I stacked books on the top shelf first, so most of my favorites are on this level.  These books are nearly all mine, if we ignore H’s Michael Crichton sitting in the bottom right corner.  Some highlights from this shelf include:

  • Christy, Catherine Marshall.  Favorite childhood book.
  • My dad’s copy of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand.
  • Two books from my freshman Honors course, neither of which I have finished:  Consilience, Edward O. Wilson, and The Great Chain of Being, Arthur O. Lovejoy. I’m actually a huge fan of The Great Chain of Being even though I haven’t completed it, because it traces the history of an idea back to a place I didn’t think it would go.  It’s dense and boring, though, so hard to consume.  I read it a lot while flying back and forth to Minnesota to visit H last summer.
  • Canterbury Tales, a few history books from college, Zadie Smith’s On Beauty.
  • A bright yellow copy of Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist.  Loving it.

Shelf 2

This shelf has a pretty strong mix of H’s books (do you see the Book of Basketball?  The Life of Reilly?).  It also has some Harry Potter, a Marketing Textbook, and the last Twilight book.  In the top left corner is the biography of Chuck Norris that a sweet friend gave me as a gift.  Because Chuck Norris is awesome.

  • Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure.
  • Gerald Rosenberg’s The Hollow Hope.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

shelf 3

The third shelf is an interesting mix of elements of my life.  You’ll see several philosophy textbooks (something I want to study further so didn’t sell back after college), two favorite history textbooks, a Norman Shield from my days as a sorority Chapter Advisor, and the Hunger Games trilogy.  Also stuck in there:

  • Harmon’s Handbook for Literature.
  • Pat Robertson’s The Ten Offenses.  Opposition research.
  • Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (I love this book, and the movie was beautiful!).
  • Jon Meachum’s The American Gospel — a recent favorite, which I highly recommend.

Well, that’s it!  If you’d like to share your own bookshelf, or if you’d like to read through all of the posts and find some new favorite books or favorite bloggers, check out the link-up at www.modernmrsdarcy.com.  [I’ll update this link once the link-up goes live.]  UPDATE:  Link-up Here!  

Not quite fluent, not yet

View from Our Window

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  The sunshine has been few and far between the last few weeks, but when it shines, the whole city sparkles.  I’m loving this new home, although it still doesn’t feel like my normal.  I still dream of DC, when I think about what I want to do on the weekend or worry about being late to work, I have to remind myself where we live and who we are now. I’m not homesick or sad, though, it’s just that my memories and brain haven’t quite caught up to my reality.

When I was in college, our professors told us that we’d be fluent in our language of choice when we thought in French/Spanish and no longer had to intentionally convert English thoughts into the “foreign” language.  And so with that metaphor intact, I’m not quite fluent in Chicago yet.  But getting there.

IMG_1092

Here’s a snapshot from my lunchtime walk today.  It’s a memorial to those who have served in the Armed Forces, from the Revolutionary War through today.  It is fire in the ground, an “eternal flame.”   Pigeons huddle around the flame to stay warm.

 

Getting settled in

Well, we are here. Thanks to some pretty wonderful friends who helped pack us up, brought over or hosted delicious meals, moved heavy boxes, took custody of our leftover furniture, flew across the country and then drove with us –even through Ohio! — we are now living in a two-bed, two-bath apartment in the Great State of Illinois.

I miss you guys already.

Currently, our kitchen looks like this:

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Our living room looks like this:

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And I am doing this:

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I’m also getting to know the Target return desk staff very well.

There are a lot of feelings and thoughts and things to write about, but today and for the past few days I’m trying to keep those ideas at bay and rest. Soon, I hope, I’ll be writing real things again.

Road Trip: Live Blog

Live blog of road trip for your personal enjoyment. Refresh for updates.

9:45 AM Leo in the car, meowing but feeling his special snack. On the road.

10:53 AM south mountain welcome center has fantastic bathrooms.

11:02 AM the mix CDs become essential during traffic.

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11:35 AM goodbye Maryland and hello Pennsylvania!

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11:59 AM Getting on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and it is our first toll.

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12:30 PM (ish) Allegheny Mountain Tunnel.

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12:32 PM Inside the tunnel.

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1:12 PM Pay $7.85 to go to the bathroom at a combo McDonalds/Co-Go. Then back on the Turnpike.

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And Kristen takes the wheel at 1:15 PM.

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Entering Pittsburgh at 1:46.

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Meanwhile at home, H and friends finish loading the truck and close the door for the last time. See you later, #101.

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Squirrel Hill Tunnel at 1:59 PM.

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2:20 PM surprise visit with Kristen’s aunt, uncle, another aunt, and cousins.

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What a cutie!

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3:30 PM Primanti Bros. sandwiches — holy cow delicious.

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4:12 PM Oops, wrong turn. Thanks a lot, Tom Tom. Back on the road with 439 miles left to go.

5:27 PM Lordstown, Ohio.

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5:58 Holy caffeine, Batman! Triple grande peppermint mocha and 13 gallons of gas in the tank. 345 miles to go.

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7:38 PM Start to lose it. Saved by a friendly text message.

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9:25 PM Finally out of Ohio and in Kristen’s home state. First thing we see is a semi-truck full of camels.

11:18 PM We finally made it to the hotel!

7:27 AM Welcome to Chicago!!!