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A tour of the Law Library of Congress, including the [no longer active] card catalog.

A tour of the Law Library of Congress, including the [no longer active] enormous card catalog.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

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?

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!  

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:

20130808-144249.jpg

Our living room looks like this:

20130808-144321.jpg

And I am doing this:

20130808-144345.jpg

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.

Our tree

20130802-113652.jpg

This is our tree. A tiny seedling that will grow for a hundred years and become a Great sequoia. A life that looks weak and fragile now, but with care and protection will grow to be a shelter for others.

This tree flew from San Francisco to
Atlanta to Washington, DC, only ten days ago. It is leaving to drive from Washington, DC, to Chicago tomorrow. It will live in this pot for five years and then be planted in the ground, somewhere. Already, this tiny sapling has seen more than some trees will ever see.

I will be moving with this tree. And so will Leo and H. And for the next five years, we will tote this pot around until the tree is so big and strong that it can grow without us. And then, if the world doesn’t end and Leo doesn’t chew up the new roots before they grow wide and then deep, we will plant this tree in a place it can stay.

We covet your thoughts and prayers as we embark on this new journey.

What I’m into: June 2013

At the end of each month, a number of blogs I regularly read have end-of-month summary posts about what each blogger has been into that month.  As a way to meet one of my blogging goals for the year, I’ve decided to try out linking up to that monthly post.  This will work toward my goals of building an online network and participating in more blogging challenges.  I’m also including a button from the link-up, which contributes toward my goal of embracing more blogging gadgets and gizmos.

Books I read

Well, that’s nothing.  I finished Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones (I loved it!) and then, well. . . I read about 100 pages of the first Game of Thrones book.  I’ve been working non-stop (or so it seems) so in my free time I’m much more likely not to read something deep and moving.

Oh, and I tried Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  I just couldn’t get into it.  I love beautiful writing for about two pages but nature writing?  I need more action.

Television

Two shows this past month:  Hart of Dixie and Homeland.  Hart of Dixie is completely cliché and lame, but I still loved it.  I watched the first and second seasons in June and really liked how the season ended.  (P.S. Jason Street from Friday Night Lights is in Hart of Dixie, and he can walk.  It’s a miracle.)

We just finished the first season of Homeland tonight and honestly need to get the second season ASAP.  I love how messy and insane the plot lines are, but the hero/villain Brody?  He is so unattractive and I just cannot understand why Claire Danes would waste her career on his weird looking face.

On the Internet

I’ve been getting settled into my new Story group and following the regular blogs online.  I’ve been pretty busy at work and haven’t been writing as much here as I’d like, so I have a whole pile of things I saved for Five Things Fridays that I haven’t shared.  Here’s a few of my favorites:

Everything Else

Life is flying by, with the past month filled with long days at work and busy evenings and weekends filled with hanging out with friends, planning for our big move, and trying to handle so many tiny details when all I want to do is take a nap and go to happy hour. There is so much to do, but I can’t stop thinking about how in just a few short weeks we will no longer be a text message away from some of the best friends we’ve ever had.  It’s an exciting time, but also sad.

July is going to be completely insane:  I’ve taken on a little extra work to make up for lost furlough income [what was I thinking?!], my Story class kicks into gear beginning tomorrow, and by the end of this month we will have (a) found a new home, (b) cleaned, organized, and packed or sold all of our stuff, (c) taken care of all logistics including vehicles, insurance, banking and finances and bills, and ready to move to Chicago.  On August 2nd.

This post is part of the monthly What I’m Into link-up held at leighkramer.com.  To join, check out the instructions here.

What I am Into Photo

 

Conversations Lately

Question: You’re moving to Chicago?!?! Are you so excited?!?! What will you do there?!?!

Answer: So excited! Chicago is amazing and we cannot wait. I’m still figuring out how my work will change but we have faith it will all work out! But, we are a little worried about the winters up there!

Truth:

I have asked for a transfer to the Chicago office of my agency, but I don’t know if it will be granted, or when I will know whether it will be granted, or even what sort of job I would be doing if it were granted.

We have relocation benefits that kick in 45 days before H’s start date. That means we cannot use our provided realtor until June 20th.

It’s hard to really feel much of anything about all of this, much less excited. I have a cold and I want to hide away and drink tea and watch movies and read good books, but I keep going to a job I don’t know how long I will have, and don’t know how long I want to keep. We have things to do and decisions to make, but none of them can be done or made yet.

“Having faith” feels shallow and empty when I say it. What is it we should have faith in, exactly? I have faith that life is hard but beautiful. I have faith that sorrow and pain and sin can be redeemed by powerful love.

But faith that I’ll have a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood with a perfect job? I’m not sure that’s exactly how this faith thing works. And I’m pretty sure that even if it is how it works, that’s not the kind of faith I have right now.