About pishnguyen

I love photography, writing, anime, my family, and my dogs. And I seem to spend a LOT of time chasing my muses around in circles.

Moving to Illinois … The Staging

We are coming down to the bitter end of the first part of my relocation saga. I say “first part”, because I haven’t even left Virginia yet! I’m still in our same house, waiting out the end of the school year with my daughter and the very most basic of basics in terms of furniture and clothing. And my computer. Because, you know … I’m not an animal! At this point in my tale, we have gone through the packing and boxing. We have watched our stuff get loaded onto the trucks and carted away. We have done the painting and the flooring. We have fixed the backyard, both the patio and the grass. And I prettied up my deck with my flower container gardening adventure, supervised by my pups — of course!

All the basics were done. It was time for the final little touches that act like the icing on a very pretty cake: the staging. I have never sold a house before. So I have never been through the staging experience. I love decorating and home stuff, in general, so I went into this experience thinking it would be amazing and fun. In my mind, it was like a little reward after all of my hard work coordinating the rest of the background stuff and doing all the cleaning and clearing away.

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The reality of it didn’t match up at all. Isn’t that the way it often seems to go in life? You think something will be incredible, and it turns out to be anything but. It’s not that the stager did a bad job or anything. Her work was nice, and she made the spaces in my house seem large but cozy at the same time. I think she is great at her job. She kept it pretty simple, as you can see from our family room, in the above photo. I like the eclectic mix of furniture she chose. And I like the earthy-toned colors she used. I think they fit nicely with the paint and carpeting colors. You can’t see it in this picture, but we finally — after almost sixteen years! — uncovered our fireplace. It’s nice to see it as part of the room now.

This room is laid out strangely in that the fireplace is on one side and the outlets for the TV and other electronic equipment are on the opposite side. Our family is big on movies. It’s one of our main forms of entertainment, and my husband is mad for his television and stereo equipment. I always wanted to rearrange this room so that we could have the fireplace and the TV at the same time. But I never did it. I never did anything to this house, honestly. I mean, we made some changes. But I never did anything as far as decorating or putting my own style into the space or making it into something more than what it was when we bought it. I’ve been puzzling through why that is, and it will probably be fodder for another post later on.

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I really like the little conversation area the stager created for our second floor sitting room. This space is right across from our dining room. We always put our Christmas tree in front of the window where the palm tree looking plant is now. And we had a sofa, a large armoire, our piano, and some reclining club chairs in this space. I originally had a cowhide rug, but I had to take it up once my cat got old and cranky. Because she decided she had to pee on it. Constantly. Poor cowhide.

You can really see our refinished flooring shine through with the sparse and elegant staging selections. And looking at what the stager did with our spaces makes me realize I never had furniture that was the right size for this house. I was used to bigger spaces and a different flow when we moved in here, and I don’t think I ever adapted. Instead, I continued buying large furniture. I love large furniture. It’s a weakness of mine. But large furniture doesn’t work well for a townhouse. Lesson learned on my part.

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This is our dining room. For the first time since we moved in, it has returned to its original purpose. We never had a formal dining table and chairs in this house. My mother-in-law has promised us a beautiful, Asian-style cherry table and chairs. This was years ago, and we never brought them into the house because they seemed too big, overall. I’m not sure if she will remember her promise or not, but we shall see. On our watch, this room was a playroom for our daughter during her younger years. After that, it was an office space for my husband. In reality, it ended up being a cluttered mess. It looks so much nicer now.

But here’s the thing about the staging process. It makes the house look nicer and more elegant. I can’t deny that! But it is painful. It is a painful and frustrating process. Our stager hated that I have dogs. She wanted me to get rid of them for the duration of the staging. How am I supposed to do that? Where are they supposed to live for a month? Initially, I intended to have them in the house with us, albeit not on or around the stager’s furniture. The stager hated that idea. She told me she could not use her nice furniture because of my dogs. So, basically, I have the crappy second-hand furniture in my house. Which I don’t really care … because, sadly, it probably still looks nicer than my own furniture. In the end, she needn’t have worried. After the new carpeting went in, I realized the dogs would have to live out the rest of our time in this house in the garage. I hate this, but it’s the only way to keep the carpeting nice and dander-free.

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The office was an easy room to stage, since there wasn’t much that needed to happen in here. She basically left the room empty. This is my desk and chair and computer. The stager added some “inspirational” pictures and a fake plant to hide my routers and such. I miss having my bookshelves and “stuff” in here. But I have to admit I enjoy this sparse and clean look.

Once all the staging was in place, I quickly realized how much I disliked our stager. In the beginning, I was just mildly irritated with her and her attitude. But I was willing to overlook it and put most of my annoyance off to me being overly sensitive about my dogs. After all, the woman was just doing her job. And I know a lot of people don’t like dogs. I sometimes find this to be a major character flaw. But what do I know? I am a lover of all things dog. And I am certain some people consider that to be a character flaw on my part.

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This is my daughter’s room. She hates what the stager did in here. My daughter is fifteen, and this room is fit for a six or seven year old kid. One who is super girly, which is not my girl at all. Luckily, my daughter loves the color pink. Otherwise, it would have been torture for her to live with this for a month. It is cute, overall. I like the paintings the stager used on the walls. There are two of them, both city-scapes done in tones of green, blue, and pink. And I like how she used the space on the shelves behind my daughter’s bed. My dad built all of those, as well as the cute little desk beside the bed.

Back to my story about the stager and how mild annoyance grew into active dislike …

I came home to my lovely and elegant-looking house thinking all was well. Until I  needed to wash my hands and discovered there was no soap. None. Anywhere. The stager had taken away all of our soap. And she had put other soap in its place. But here’s the thing: You can’t really use the other soap she added. It’s just for show. Because … staging. I guess I should have known this when the stager told me, several times, that they usually only stage houses that are vacant. But, you see, my house is not vacant. I am still living here. And I need to wash my hands. And shower.

In the end, I found soap. But the stager had hidden it in weird places. So, basically, I had to continue hiding the real soap while the fake soap sat out on our counter. Before the stager came, I had cleaned out my drawers and medicine cabinets, leaving only the very basic things we use for every-day life. Apparently, people who live in the magazine houses don’t use basic things for every-day life. Because the stager took all of that stuff away. In its place, she left seashells and starfish inside our medicine cabinets. Oh. And more fake soap. It’s like she’s mocking me with the fake soap. I have to admit I rebelled a little by putting a bar of bath soap and the non-skid rubber mat back in my daughter’s shower. I hope no one tells the stager, though. I am certain she will come back to take it away.

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This is the master bedroom. That, of course, is not my bedding. Because my bedding was not good enough for the stager. Instead, she had to bring new bedding. She did this in my daughter’s room, too. But she actually liked my daughter’s comforter and left it underneath the staged comforter. My bedding didn’t make the cut at all. She wadded all of it up and stuffed it in the back of my closet. The bed is ours. It’s the queen-size bed that is destined for our guest room, once we eventually make it to Illinois. The bedside tables are mine. And the lamps are mine. The stager didn’t like any of these things, but she was forced to work with them. Poor lady, having to make do with my ugly and substandard furniture.

I used to have Alexa in this room, along with a clock, a phone, and a noise maker. The stager unplugged all of my electronic items. Every single one of them. In this photo, I had snuck my noise maker back onto my nightstand. Shhh! Don’t tell! Shortly after this, I put Alexa back, too. I need her because she is my alarm clock every morning. Also, she can tell me what time it is, since, apparently, people who live in fake magazine world don’t own clocks. Or care about time. They are dirty, smelly people who are perpetually late.

I guess fake magazine world people don’t have phones, either. Because the stager unplugged all of our telephones. And when I say unplugged, I really do mean “unplugged”. She managed to wreck our entire phone system, so I now have no home phone and have to rely on my mobile for everything. I say “everything”, but I do have one landline that still rings in the kitchen. I can never get to it in time to answer, but at least I can check voicemail now and again.

And the final thing fake magazine world people don’t have: trash cans. The stager systematically went through our entire house and removed every single trash can. She stashed some of them away in places where I found them later. There are a few I still haven’t found at all. And I ended up having to put my kitchen trash can into the garage. I am making do with a white trash bag hanging off a drawer knob for now. Because, yeah … that’s so much more elegant and lovely than the stainless steel trash can I originally had.

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In the end, the stager and I will not be friends. And the staging, overall, is difficult to live with. No soap … no trash cans … towels we can’t use or touch … furniture we can’t sit on … and the need to keep everything hidden and picture-perfect all the time. Did she make my house lovely? Yes. She absolutely did.

But she also made me really sad. Because my house is now just a house. It isn’t a home any longer. It isn’t comfortable or inviting for us. It’s just where we live … not where we LIVE. All of the memories are there, but, for now, our house has become a place where my daughter and I are marking time until we can move on to the next step in our journey. I guess this is the first step in saying good-bye. And good-bye is always hard.

 

Moving to Illinois … My Lack of a Green Thumb Haunts Me

When we last left off, I had done some basic renovations and repairs to our house: new paint, refinished flooring, and new carpet. We had put in a new backyard, basically, by laying down sod in all the worn spots. The stone patio in our backyard had been repaired and given new life. All the work was progressing well and on time. And we were very quickly counting down to the last few tasks that needed to happen before we could officially put our house on the market.

One of these tasks involved gardening. I have pots sitting out on my deck. They are kind of old and a little squidgy around the edges (like me!), but they are colorful, cheerful, and bright. At one time, they were also full of flowers. A few years ago, I took a wild hair to improve our deck by adding some pretty plants. Even though we have beautiful and serviceable deck furniture, we didn’t use our outside space much due to my allergies. But, when that gardening bug hit me, I bought my colorful pots. I filled them with rich soil, and I planted lots of beautiful flowers. I had pansies and petunias and daisies. Of course, they didn’t last. My intent at the time was to keep refreshing the pots every warm season. Like so many of my fantastic plans, it never happened. The flowers died out, and the squirrels started planting things, instead.

And so, my beautifully cheerful and colorful pots sat out on my deck for years, growing a jumble of this and that, which could be characterized as a “hot mess” if one was feeling somewhat generous. I had some galvanized tubs in an often-shady corner. Originally, I planted herbs in there. But the squirrels dug those up and planted tiny trees. My husband started storing things inside the tubs, like heavy bags of soil that, over the years, turned into hard mud bricks and a bag of rocks. Yes, you read that correctly: a whole bag of rocks. I felt my soul die a little bit when I made that discovery upon starting this project.

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Initially, I had planned to get rid of the pots altogether and leave the deck bare. But my realtor thought it would be a better idea to keep them and plant them with colorful, seasonal flowers. At the time we discussed this, we were heading into Spring, after all. And a bit of colorful cheer never hurt anyone. And so, that is what I resolved to do. First, I weeded out all the pots. This sounds easy, but it was back-breaking work. When squirrels decide to plant things, they don’t go halfway! After weeding, I cleared out all the miscellaneous junk. Hauling all of that stuff down to the trash was no fun!

Once the boring but necessary ground work was done, I headed to my local Home Depot for supplies. I got a couple of bags of soil and some assorted flowers. I wanted pansies, but they were all gone. So I settled for petunias, which are fun and almost as colorful. I also got some type of yellow, daisy-looking flower, although I don’t remember what it was called. There is a theme to this, which you will discover shortly.

I am writing this post a little bit out of order in terms of the work that I did. I wanted to lump all the indoor renovation and repair work together, so I talked about all of it in one post. But my little gardening adventure happened in between: after the paint was done, but before the flooring and sod. This worked out great, because I was able to have the moral support of my two favorite helpers. After days cooped up with me in the garage, my dogs were only too happy to lounge in the sun on the deck and supervise my progress.

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They are great supervisors. As you can imagine, I can’t really make a move without them shadowing me. There was a lot of tripping over each other and some excited barking — from all of us. My poor dogs were so happy to be outside, on the deck, and just hanging out that they were almost too excited. Considering how noisy we were, I was happy none of my neighbors seemed to be out and about while we were cavorting on the deck — my dogs happily and me much less so.

My rescue girl, Fae, is a great supervisor. She likes to roam around a bit and get the lay of the land. After that, she is happy to find a spot to sit and watch. She gets out of the way and lets me get on with my work. I like that in a supervisor.

Shiner, on the other hand, is very hands-on. Or, I should say “mouth-on”. He wants to be in the middle of everything. Every time I turned my back, he would sneak into my little pots of flowers and pull blooms off of stems. He wasn’t eating them. He was excited and just yanking them off for the joy of it all. I suppose we all have to express it when that type of giddy joyfulness wells up inside us. But this led to a few cross words between the two of us. For a while, I was afraid I wasn’t going to have any flowers left to plant! This boy is a maniac!

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As I hauled dirt and filled pots and dealt with the bag of rocks and assorted trash, I realized something. I hate gardening. I hate it. I really do. I love the idea of it all. I love flowers and nature (although I am allergic to all of it). I love being outdoors. I have this dream of having a beautiful garden where I can sit and read a book or have a cup of tea and watch bees happily humming along about their business.

But here’s the thing: I hate the actual action of gardening. I hate getting my hands dirty. I hate bugs. I hate finding bugs. I hate how I get all hot and sweaty and irritable when planting stuff. If I ever have the garden of my dreams, it had better come with a gardener who will care for it properly. Otherwise, I am going to be sitting in a patch of weeds and some weird tree-things that the squirrels planted in their spare time. And we all know the squirrels are quite mad, no matter how much we love them. Heck, I love them all the more for their innate madness.

I ended the day a hot and sweaty and stinky mess. My hair was flying around my head in crazy tangles. My clothing was plastered to my skin from being out in the full sun. My voice was hoarse from speaking crossly to Boy Dog. I was in the crappiest mood. I felt like my head was going to explode from pent-up rage, and I kept thinking about that and wondering about how so many people I know find gardening relaxing. I mean, what in the world did I do wrong? Maybe I need to garden in the shade more. Or maybe I need less canine supervision.

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In the end, I was proud of my efforts. My little plants look brave and cheerful and colorful out in the sun on my deck. I feel like I did a good job mixing colors together. And, overall, it turned out pretty great — even if I did have to spread the bag of rocks throughout one planter and make two extra Home Depot runs for more dirt.

Was it worth it? Yes. I think it was. But, as I stood at the sliding glass doors that evening, looking out at my handiwork, I thought to myself, “Self. Let’s not do this again. Ever.”

 

Moving to Illinois … The Renovations & Repairs

When we last left off with my ongoing moving saga, I had gotten through the packing and loading. We had boxes stacked to the ceiling in pretty much every room of our house. We had stuff that was boxed but that we were going to move ourselves tucked away in closets and corners. We survived having almost all of our worldly belongings loaded onto trucks and carted away. And we were left with an empty, echoing house. As a quick aside, it is kind of crazy how “dead” a house feels once all of your belongings have been removed. In the span of a few days, it goes from being “home” to being a “house” and nothing more. I’m sure there is another post in there somewhere, and, perhaps, I will find it at a later time. For now, I just wanted to add the thought in somewhere, because I feel it is important.

At the end of this whole process, we were left with the following furniture: a queen-sized bed (mattress, box springs, and frame), a twin bed, a desk, a desk chair, and my computer. My daughter and I kept back about 2 weeks worth of clothing, a few dishes, and our basic bathroom stuff. In addition to these things, we have boxes that contain my nail polish (which the movers would not take), my anime cel collection (because I was afraid they would melt on the truck), my jewelry, and some garage-type stuff. Basically, we had an empty house at this point.

Once the house was as empty as we could get it, it was time to start in on the renovations we wanted to do. Because we found a house on our Bloomington trip, we were on a tight, tight schedule once we returned home to Virigina. We got back from the trip on April 19. The packers came on April 22. The painting, which was our first renovation, started on April 27. Needless to say, this was a time of endless activity. For every one thing we did, we discovered about twenty more that needed doing. We couldn’t really be inside our house, because we were in the way. We had to keep the dogs out of the way, which is easier said than done. This was not a fun time, and, even though it was, in reality, a short time span, it felt like it lasted FOREVER. My husband left for his new job on April 26, which means it was just yours truly, our teenage daughter, and two dogs left to deal with the painting and the rest of the work on the house.

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When my realtor, who is also one of my dearest friends, and I went through our house, we planned to paint about half of it. For the most part, the paint looked decent, although somewhat worn. We felt we could get away with cleaning it up a bit and repainting or refreshing only the areas that absolutely needed it. Keep in mind this was before the furniture was gone. And before the packers and movers got hold of my rooms.

Once everything was out of the house, we were faced with stark, bare walls. The movers and packers had done some damage. Not on purpose, but stuff happens when you are hauling large furniture down narrow stairwells. Our painter had seen the house before the movers came through. He went through it again once everything was out, and it came as no huge surprise to find out I needed to repaint everything. And, of course, it was twice the price he originally quoted. I wasn’t thrilled with this, but it seemed fair. He was originally going to do about half the house, so he basically just doubled that quote. It was still decent for the amount of work they were planning to do.

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Of course, having the painters inside the house meant I couldn’t be inside the house. And neither could my dogs. So we all hung out in the garage. For DAAAAAAAAAYS. The painting took about four days. Other than ducking inside to use the restroom now and again, I spent every moment of those four days in my garage with my dogs. I had my Llama-tastic chair, which I found on sale at Wal-Mart. I had books to read. I had my iPad, which worked quite nicely once the painters stopped unplugging my internet.

We had a string of fairly warm days, so I rigged up a fence from some cardboard boxes and Velcro strips. It’s not a strong fence, but my dogs are scared of the blowing cardboard. So as long as it stayed stretched across the opening, they would not go near it. This way, we had natural light and fresh air. I put the dogs’ crates in the garage, as well as the one bed the movers left behind. When I purchased my llama chair, I also picked up a couple of cheap dog beds, so bedless dog had an extra place to rest that wasn’t the hard floor. I brought their food dishes and made sure to keep plenty of fresh water available for everyone. It wasn’t the Ritz, but it wasn’t half bad. We survived, although it was a pain knowing I couldn’t go in and out of the house whenever I wanted. As soon as I realized I couldn’t go inside the house, I thought of a dozen things I NEEDED to get or do. Isn’t that always the way of it? At night, I would carefully herd the dogs upstairs for sleeping, and we lived with the paint smell for a few days as it dried and cured.

The panting finished up, for the most part, on April 30. I feel the painters did an okay job. It was a big job, overall. They did some nice repair work on walls that had been damaged during the move. At the end, they started to take shortcuts. They started showing up an hour or two later than expected in the mornings. They started leaving only a skeleton crew to finish my job. I’m sure this is because they were moving on to other jobs, which I totally get. But my job wasn’t done yet!

As we got to the bitter end, I had to argue with them to get them to finish out some of the trim. And they tried to add about $500 onto their bill. I am a little bit ashamed to say I didn’t argue with them very much at the time. By the time this happened, I was so tired and emotionally stressed that I complained but I paid them. Luckily for me, my realtor was on the ball. She was really unhappy with this tactic, and she got the money back for me. I would be lost without her!

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Now that painting was done, flooring could happen. I needed to put in new carpeting. I needed to get my wood floors refinished. The flooring work started on May 1. Basically, as I was waving an unhappy good-bye to the painters, I was also saying hello to the person who did the flooring. And, of course, this meant more days of hanging out in the garage with the pups. And my llama chair. And my ratchet cardboard fence.

I didn’t manage to get carpeting pictures, but the wood floors turned out beautifully, as you can see above. Also, the flooring work went much more smoothly than the painting. The person who did them was incredibly professional and kind. I appreciated him very much.

Our last major house job was fixing the back yard. We have a stone patio coming off of our first floor into the back yard. It had worn down over the years and was in pretty rough shape, but we had gotten it repaired before we left for Bloomington. I wish I had thought to take before and after pictures, because it looks beautiful now. Our handyman did an amazing job on it, and it looks like a brand new patio!

In addition to the patio, our back yard was in pretty terrible shape. We are on the end of a slope, so water runs off toward our yard every time it rains. We don’t have trouble with water around our foundation or anything like that. But it tends to puddle or marsh in one corner of our yard. When we first moved into the house, my dad and I rigged up a drainage system of sorts by running a pipe across the back corner of the yard. We dug a bit of a trench to set the pipe, but we never buried it all the way. Over the years, our pipe got brittle. The yard people ran over it with mowers. And so on. Basically, it was wrecked, which meant our marshy, muddy corner was back.

I have two dogs, and my yard is small. There were places where the dogs had worn paths through the grass from running around the fence. There were other places where grass stopped growing altogether because of how the dogs used the yard. Keep in mind I pick up the yard every day or every other day. I don’t leave “stuff” (we all know what I’m talking about, right?) sitting out in the yard or on the grass. Even so, two medium-sized dogs are hard on a tiny yard.

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So we had landscapers come in to lay sod. They also fixed the drainage by installing a new, properly buried pipe. In the beginning, I wasn’t too thrilled with the landscapers. They are both odd guys, and it was like pulling teeth to get a quote from them. It was also really difficult to get them to commit to a starting date. I think they are creative, outdoor people, and time didn’t have as much meaning to them as it did to me.

In the end, I am thrilled I went with them. They came when they said they would. They did all the work in less than a day. They did a fantastic job with putting in the new drainage. The sod looks gorgeous, and now, about a week later, it is already rooting in beautifully. As a bonus, they even hauled away some old flower bed curbing for me, at no extra charge.

And so, that brings me to the end of this part of my tale. At this point, everything was happening in a whirlwind of activity. My head was spinning, and I was exhausted. I hadn’t truly been inside my house for any length of time since we came back from our Bloomington trip. But I was also feeling pretty positive about the future. And I was happy we were almost ready to go onto the market.

Truthfully, the work we did on our house wasn’t a lot. We were lucky that we didn’t have to do huge renovations or repairs. I don’t know how people do it in those situations. I guess you have to remind yourself (often!) that it is a temporary situation. But even that gets difficult after the first couple of days. I think, as humans, we look for a “normal” or a “constant”. But, when you are in the midst of something like this, “normal” and “constant” don’t exist. And that is mentally and physically taxing.

Moving to Illinois … The Boxing

Hellooooo!!!

It has been a hot minute and a half since I was able to head into the blog. I just looked back at my last post and realized I have not been in here since April 10. That is almost an entire month! I had the best of intentions about keeping up with my blog and all of that. But, let’s get real. Life completely got in the way. No, it’s more than that. Life ran over me like a giant steam roller. I am physically and mentally exhausted. And, emotionally, I am flat as a pancake.

It’s not even that I haven’t had things to write about. I have had more than enough material for posts. In some ways, there is almost too much to write about. Whenever that happens, I get this deer in the headlights sort of feeling. I start thinking about all the stories I want and need to tell, and it all feels too hard and overwhelming. It freezes me into place.

But! A move from one state to another is a huge thing. It is a huge undertaking, and I need to blog it out for my own sanity. Because it has been a process! In fact, it has been such a process and so many things have happened in such a short amount of time that I don’t know where to begin.

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During my daughter’s Spring Break holiday, we traveled to our new town, Bloomington – Normal, Illinois. It’s about a 12-hour drive from here to there, which is a fairly long trip. Even so, we decided to tackle it. Feeling like intrepid explorers, we loaded up our car and headed west! It was a fun trip. We joked and told silly stories. We planned for the future. We ate Life Savers. We laughed some more. There’s something fun and kind of exhilarating about a long car trip. Or, maybe that’s just me.

It was a bit of a whirlwind trip because we had a lot to accomplish in our limited time there. We were beginning our house hunt. We wanted to look at the two schools my daughter felt she might want to attend. We needed to find a place for my husband to stay when he started his new job. We wanted to meet with my husband’s new colleagues. And, of course, we wanted to get to know our new town a little bit. It was a tall order for a short trip!

Overall, I think we were pretty successful. There is a lot left for us to discover about our new town. But my daughter figured out which school she wants to attend. We found a temporary place for my husband to live until we sell our house. And, most importantly (to me, anyhow), we found a new house!! I am so excited that I can’t even about the new house. But I will leave that for another post at another time. We are still over a month from closing, and I don’t want to jinx it.

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When we returned home … Well, I don’t know how to say it, other than to say our lives descended into utter chaos.

We are lucky in that my husband’s new company offers a great relocation package. They pay for packers and movers. They pay to store our furniture for a certain amount of time. And they will pay the movers to bring the furniture out of storage once we are in our new house. My husband and I decided it would be a lot easier to show and sell our current house without all of our furniture in it.

Shortly after we got back from our Spring Break trip, the packers descended upon us. They were lovely people. They worked hard and were super nice. But it still felt a bit like watching a swarm of locusts descending upon my favorite field of grain. If it was sitting out and not breathing, they tossed it into a box. You might think I am kidding about this. You would be wrong. They didn’t stop to ask whether we needed an item or not. They basically raced through the house and packed without paying much attention at all to what they were doing.

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This isn’t to say they were careless. They seemed to pack items with care. If there was something I wanted them to pay special attention to, they did their best to do just that. I have a large collection of anime artwork, which needed to be packed in a particular way. The packers were accommodating in helping me figure out how to do that so I could feel secure about my artwork not getting damaged during transport.

But, overall, they didn’t take the time to LOOK at what they were packing. I understand this. Packing up an entire house is a big job. It would take forever if you stopped to look at and think about what you were doing. The way they did it was much better: if it’s sitting out … box it. I know it made the whole process go faster. But it led to some funny discoveries once the packers had left. For example, they packed my daughter’s retainer. They didn’t pack any other bathroom items, but the retainer is now in storage in Illinois. They packed my daughter’s new shoes, even though she marked them as needing to stay. They packed half the shelves from our garage but not the other half. They packed one dog’s bed but left the other one. And so on.

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The packing took about 3 and a half days. The packers stacked boxes everywhere, as you can see from the photos I used in this post. The first one is the entryway to our house. The second one is our kitchen. See those curtains peeking out from behind that row of boxes? There are two sets of glass doors behind there. The third picture is of our master bedroom after the first day of packing. It looks pretty bad, but it was much worse by the third day.

At the end of the packing process, we were left with boxes stacked, literally, floor to ceiling in nearly every room of our house. They were in the hallways. They were in the entryway. They were taking up over half the kitchen. We had to wind our way along a tiny pathway through a forest of boxes to reach the bathrooms and our bedrooms. It was kind of a nightmare. And I alternated between feeling ashamed over all the stuff we have and feeling proud of having so darn much stuff. I mean, these boxes were 15 years in the works! That’s how long we have lived in our current house. Clearly, we never throw anything away. Which is terrifying.

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Once the packers were done, the movers came. They were going to load all of our boxes and furniture onto a huge truck for the trip to Illinois. Unfortunately, their big truck would not fit into the parking area for our neighborhood. So the movers had to bring a smaller (but still quite large) truck. They had to load our stuff up onto the smaller truck, take it to where the big truck was parked, and then load it onto the big truck. If you are keeping track, this means they had to load and unload all of our stuff twice. Given the traffic in our area, it was a slow process.

It took about two days and three trips from the smaller truck to get all of our stuff out of the house. In the end, we were left with echoing rooms devoid of all life and character. My daughter and I are still living in the house. We will be here until school ends in the middle of June. We kept back the very minimum of furniture: a bed for me, a bed for her, my computer, my desk, and my chair. We kept back just a few dishes and utensils. And we kept back enough clothing for 2 weeks. Everything else is gone.

It was eerie, walking through the house after it was empty. You don’t realize how much “stuff” adds to the life of a house until it’s gone. And, of course, we still have stuff. We just don’t have as much of it as we used to. My dogs did not like it one bit. One of them went from room to room looking nervous and upset. The other one ran all over the house barking, just to hear the echoes.

All in all, having been through this whole process, I have to say I might decide never to move again. There is something almost painful about watching your treasures loaded onto a truck. Even though you have faith you will see them again, it feels weird and unsettling. Of course, our moving adventure was only starting. There was more to come, and most of it ended up feeling weird and unsettling. But that’s a story for another day!

A Custom Ring Journey: Here Be Dragons … part 1, An Idea

Note: I typically use my own photos for my blog posts. Today, I am breaking with that rule to include two photos from the Studio Metals website (www.studiometals.com). These photos are the property of Studio Metals, and all rights are reserved to Studio Metals. They are included here as inspiration and explanation. If you have any rights in these images and object to their use, please contact me. I will remove them immediately.

I have had this post kicking around my brain for a few months. I’ve thought about it and thought about it until it feels like it is on a constant loop inside my head. It has taken me a long time to figure out how to organize it, and, even after all this thinking and debating, I’m not sure my plan is the best. But I’m going to jump in with both feet, anyhow. Otherwise, I will never get this idea out of my head.

This past October, my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. We dated for two years before we got engaged, and we were engaged for six years while we both finished graduate school. So, we have been together for 28 years, total. This is a long time, you guys! I have been with and loved this man for over half my life. Wow. Typing it out loud like that kind of boggles my mind.

Our 20th kind of snuck up on me, believe it or not. I am not a person who pays much attention to stuff like anniversaries or birthdays. I try to remember to send presents and cards to those I love. Or, at the very least, to text or message them my thoughts and love on their special days. But I am not good at keeping track of the actual passage of time. In the months leading up to our anniversary, I told my husband that, for our 20th next year, I wanted to do a special ring to celebrate it. My husband laughed at me and said, “Babe, our 20th is this year. So you better get busy designing!”

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You guys knew I had to toss in at least one wedding picture, right? I have a whole album of them, after all! My gosh, we were so young and goofy back then. Now we are older. But we’re still pretty goofy. And that’s all right. I think it helps to face life with a certain amount of goofiness.

So, gratuitous wedding picture aside, let’s get back on track: My anniversary ring. After my husband gave me the green light, I started my project where all things start. With the barest thread of an idea. I think I have mentioned before how much I love jewelry. And rings, in particular. I don’t wear a lot of pendants or necklaces. Mostly, I wear rings and earrings. So, although I have heard people talk about their “dream ring” or their “perfect ring”, I feel like I don’t really have one of those. In a way, I feel guilty about this. Like, maybe I am doing life all wrong, or something. Because it seems a lot of people feel you should wear your wedding jewelry for forever. And by “for forever”, I mean that a lot of people feel you should have one ring or one set of rings to represent your marriage. And that’s it. Over. Done. The End.

I don’t share this view. I don’t judge people who do. If someone feels they will be happy with one ring or set of rings for their entire lives, I think that is beautiful and wonderful. I just know it’s not for me. I am not the same person I was 20 years ago. Heck, I’m not the same person I was 20 days ago or even 20 minutes ago. For one thing, I am a lot older now, and I feel more confident in the things I love. I feel more confident going against the norm to create and wear something that feels perfect FOR ME. Even if it means others find it ugly or weird or annoying. My younger self would not have done this. She would have been too worried with the opinions and thoughts of those around her.

So, of course, my special anniversary ring had to start with dragons. Yep. You heard me correctly: Dragons. I love dragons. I always have. My mom always thought I would outgrow my fascination with them, particularly since they are mythical creatures. But I never have. I love the sense of strength, courage, and grace they represent. Dragons were perfect for our 20th because we had a lot of dragon imagery in our wedding. There were dragons and phoenixes woven through the material we used for the bridesmaid dresses. We had a dragon on our cake. And we had a dragon design as part of our cake topper, too. There were paper dragons as part of the centerpieces for our reception.

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As I scoured the internet for inspiration, I found an amazing, amazing jeweler: Studio Metals (www.studiometals.com). I am in love with many of their creative and unique designs. And I turned to these as inspiration for my own ring. I loved the curvy and organic quality of the above image. I still think it is one of the most beautiful dragon rings I have seen online. It is so detailed and incredibly well done. And I knew I wanted my ring to have this same type of organic and curving quality to it. I also knew I wanted it to be done in rose gold, which has become my favorite metal over the last year.

I didn’t want an exact copy of any ring already in existence. If I wanted an exact copy, I would just go to the person who created the original and see if I could purchase it. Instead, I wanted to use these images as inspiration for different elements I wanted to see in my own ring.

I hope to purchase from Studio Metals one day. But, for this ring, I knew I would go with a different jeweler: David Klass. I had worked with him on two previous projects. I felt like I had a great feeling for how his work and creative process flows. And I already knew that he and his design team “get me”. I don’t know how else to explain it, but they seem to understand just what I want, even though I have no drawing ability of my own. I can picture the finished design in my head. But I feel completely inadequate to draw it out on paper. I have to resort to sending inspiration pictures and trying to describe my vision in a LOT of words. Somehow, it seems to work out most of the time.

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This is another inspiration image I sent to David Klass. I wanted to have a solitaire design. And I knew I wanted two dragons, one on either side of the center stone. I wanted them facing the stone, with their bodies traveling organically (with lots of gorgeous curves!) down the shank of the ring. The above image served as inspiration for the solitaire style I was looking for, although I wanted my stone to be more obviously prong set, whereas this one almost looks bezeled due to the design.

I travel all over the inter webs and collect different dragon images. I pulled my favorites of these to send to David Klass as part of my inspiration folder for this project. I don’t want to post any of them in here, because they are original artworks. And most of them are not watermarked with the artist’s information. I decided to use the Studio Metal images in my post because they are clearly marked. And because I could include a link to their online store.

Once I had all my inspiration together, I sat down to draft an email that included my ideas. I wasn’t even sure David Klass would take this project. I know he has a busy shop, and I didn’t know if he would be willing to work on something as weird and crazy as my idea. It took me a day or two to draft and edit the email, to make sure my ideas were as clear as I could make them. I sent it off, and I waited.

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It sounds really simple, when I type it out like this. But the waiting was anything but simple. I was excited about my project. And hopeful the jeweler would accept it. And worried it would be too expensive. And nervous about everything in general. I was basically an anxious, nervous, excited mess! And I did not wait patiently. I checked my email like crazy. It seemed like I checked it every ten minutes. Even though I knew I was being a nut, I couldn’t stop myself.

Finally, after a couple of days, I heard back that David Klass wanted to take on my project. He gave me a quote for the work, and he said he would draw up some ideas. My 20th anniversary ring was one step closer to being a reality. And I was off and running on the excitement and fun of putting together a custom ring design.

It was a long process, you guys! But it was also so much fun. I’m going to try and break the whole process down into a few different posts, and I think I will talk about choosing my center stone next. Hopefully, this won’t be too boring, and you guys will tune in for the next post, too.

 

 

The Springing

I swore to myself I was NOT going to write another “Spring” post right on the heels of the last one. And yet, here I am. With another “Spring” post. You will have to take my word for it that I tried very hard not to do this. I don’t want to be boring or “same old” or … whatever. I mean, I am all of those things in my real life. I’m a simple person. I like simple things. But I try hard to be more interesting for blogging purposes. It’s a thin facade, you guys! I’m sure you’ve already figured this out.

Anyhow, all of this is to say that, yes, I am back with another post dealing with the changing of the seasons and the coming of Spring. Whew! That was a LOT of background. But we’re moving along now.

The cherry tree in my front yard is blooming. I don’t know why, but it takes me by surprise every year. It’s not officially “Spring” until this happens. One day, there are sticks and bare, brown branches. And then … BOOM!! It seems like I turn around twice and blink, and there are blooms and blossoms everywhere. There are many things I hate about living in NoVA. But springtime here lifts my spirits and makes my heart sing like nobody’s business.

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So. My cherry tree. For the last 15 years, it has taken my breath away with its simple beauty. It has bunches and bunches of small pink blossoms with darker pink centers. They look like clouds of softly pink fluff against the brilliant blue of a perfect, cloudless Spring sky. I love to stand underneath it and look up and up and up. If I close my eyes I think I can fly away into the never-ending blue, floating on the breeze with the petals.

Yesterday, I was outside doing some yard work with my honey. We are still in the midst of doing “stuff” for the move and to get our house ready to sell. It seems there is more stuff to be done every time I turn around. But I had this idea that I wanted to get pictures of the front of our house when the cherry tree is in bloom. By the time we are able to list the house, all the blooms will be gone. We were outside weeding and tossing out all the dregs that have been in our flower beds for way too long, like those “oh-so-cute” lights that no longer work and the beautiful stained glass stick thing that no longer has any stained glass in it. Which makes it just a stick. Tomorrow, we plan on getting new mulch into the beds and putting in new borders.

As we were working, I looked up and saw my beautiful tree and her pale blossom clouds against the blue sky. And it suddenly hit me: This is the last time I will see this. This is the last year I will stand under this tree in my front yard and daydream about floating away on the wind. It is the last year I will look out  my office window and feel my breath catch in surprise and delight as the sunlight hits the petals just right.

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I don’t know how I feel about it. I am looking forward to this move. I really am, even amid all the crazy planning and the uncertainty and feeling like there is too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. I want this change for my family. And, maybe it’s completely selfish of me, but I want this change for myself. And yet, there are times when it all becomes so really, really, really REAL. Like yesterday, when I realized this is my last Spring with my beloved cherry tree.

Maybe I do know how I feel about it, after all. I feel a little … bittersweet. And maybe even a little sad.

Springing Forward

I am fashionably late with my post about Springing Forward. There is some smidgeon of irony in there, somewhere. I just know it. But this post isn’t really about our recent time change. Much as I hate both forwarding in the Spring and backwarding in the Fall, I don’t feel like talking about it right now. I’m sure this is nothing more than grumpiness brought about by my interrupted sleep schedule. I have also been hitting the caffeine a little too hard a little too late at night. This is not a good look for me. I used to be able to drink caffeinated drinks, literally, all day and all night with no ill effects. But I have to admit I’m not as young as I used to be. Age comes to us all.

I was out yesterday and the day before for an evening walk. Thanks to the time change, I can now head out around 5 or 5:30 PM and get in a 40 – 50 minute walk without fear of being caught outside alone when full dark descends upon us. Or, let’s get real: descends upon me. Because this is all about self preservation. I think this is the one thing I truly love about the Spring time change. It’s refreshing and exhilarating to be able to take a nice, long walk in the evening. There’s something oddly comforting about walking through a neighborhood when people are heading home for work. Children were playing in front and back yards all along the street. I could hear their screams of delight as I walked by. The yard were full of robins, busily bustling about their business. Here and there, the smell of dinner wafted on the breeze. It was all so sweet and lovely. I’m not sure how to explain it. It makes me feel nostalgic for things I lost and for things I never had.

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Our weather has been lovely for the past couple of days. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same. There has been sun. There has been light and breezy air. It has been chilly, but not too much so. The smell of fresh earth and newly laid mulch is in the air. Flowers are beginning to pop up: shoots of the newest green against the dark brown earth. My rose bushes and cherry tree both have buds. My mums, which die back to sticks every winter, are starting to burst out with green leaves again.

I don’t usually love the coming of Spring. In the past, Spring has meant a season of allergy suffering behind closed doors and windows. Pollen of any kind is not my friend. In the past, I would not have been able to walk around outside for any length of time without ending up suffering for it. I think my allergy shots, as much as I hate them, have helped in this respect. I still have to take meds, but at least I can go outside.

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As I walked along on Monday evening, enjoying the sounds and smells of the neighborhood around me and thinking my thoughts, it occurred to me that I felt … happy. It was such a strange feeling that I almost stopped in my tracks as it hit me. I didn’t stop, because my husband gave me an Apple Watch for Christmas. And the Apple Watch is a harsh taskmaster. Those rings MUST BE CLOSED!!!

But it surprised me, this sudden feeling of lightness in my heart and in my soul. I wanted to giggle out loud. It’s been a long time since I felt like this. For most of the last two years, I have been mired in regret and worry and uncertainty. I have felt tired and old and used up by life. I have reminded myself that I just have to keep my head down so I can continue moving forward, one painful step at a time. I guess this is my version of “Just keep swimming.” I’ve been living. But I haven’t been LIVING. Do you know what I mean?

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For the first time in a long time, I realized I was looking forward to something. I was looking forward to warmer temperatures and watching the birds and nice weather. I was looking forward to more hours of daylight and listening to children playing outside and smelling those “home” smells, like a fresh cooked meal. I was looking forward to sunshine on my face and gentle breezes and new, fresh shoots of green. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t stuck in one place. I wasn’t frozen with fear, regret, and indecision.

Are things completely certain in my life? No, not by a long shot. There is a lot of uncertainty. There is some fear, too. But my family has a direction and a purpose now. We know where we are going. Change is coming, and it will be hard. But I think it will also be good. The world around us is getting a do-over and starting fresh, and I feel like my family is doing the same thing. With all the stress and upheaval it will bring, my heart and soul need this change.

For the first time in a long time, I am looking FORWARD.

Still Packing

The shizzle is getting really, really rizzle at my house.

I am continuing through my books here in the office. I spend 99.9% of my time in this room. I realize this sounds sad and pathetic. And yet, I also don’t care because I love my space in here. The point is that I already knew the office was going to be one of the hardest rooms to clean and clear in preparation for our upcoming move. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been going through my books. I have been pretty merciless with clearing out anything I don’t think I will read. If I look at the back of the book and feel even slightly “meh” about the synopsis, it goes onto the finding-new-homes pile. If I recall starting a book and not being able to get into it or finish it for any reason at all, out it goes. And so on.

The result is that there are piles of books on the second floor. They are starting to overtake one of our recliners. And they are spilling over onto most of the sofa. I have surprised myself. I am letting go of things I never thought I would. There are manga and books in here that I spent years collecting and hunting down. And  yet, when I look at the books I have set aside for donation, I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel any sort of loss at all. Did they bring me pleasure in the past? Yes, of course they did! But I honestly don’t feel they bring me pleasure any longer. We’ve lived in this house for almost sixteen years, and there are books in here that I have not looked at or held in my hands since the day I first put them on shelves.

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It’s weird to think that my life has changed. I have changed. I think I fall into the trap of thinking of myself and my life as a static thing. But it isn’t. I’m not. My life is a moving target, and I am always rolling along with it. I am constantly changing and (hopefully!) improving. The things I loved last year or even yesterday may not be the things I love for the rest of my life. And that’s okay. It’s a little surprising, but not in a bad way. So far, although I have only hit the tip of the iceberg, it has been interesting and fun to rediscover myself through this cleaning spree. I feel as if I am meeting myself, all over again. Or, maybe I am meeting my new self for the first time. Or … something.

So. I went into this project knowing I was going to let go of a lot of books. I knew I needed to do it. And I knew I would be okay with it. In the beginning, I was only taking out the books I didn’t want to keep. The ones that were staying with me ended up back on their shelves, albeit taking up a lot less space.

It didn’t take long for me to realize this was not a good plan. I am not the most diligent housekeeper. And I am not the most diligent cleaner. I readily admit this. But I would work for several hours, only to feel like I had made no progress at all. Each day, I would peck away at this distasteful clearing task. I would end the day feeling pretty good about what I accomplished, only to return the next morning to see my room in more of a shambles than when I had started. I think I had reached that point in cleaning when your space starts to look more awful. I’ve always believed this point happens slightly before things begin to turn around for the better. But I wasn’t seeing any of the “better”.

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The whole thing was making me feel more and more unhappy and stressed. In turn, I started shirking my clean-out more and more. Instead of working on the shelves, I would watch a “quick” video. Or I would do my manicure. Or I would blog. It was amazing the number of things I found to occupy my time, just so I wouldn’t have to face the crumbling mess I had made in the office. Even laundry was preferable!

I finally told my husband that I thought I needed to pack away the books I wanted to keep. I felt like I needed to see tangible evidence of my progress in the form of cleared and dusted shelves. He wasn’t crazy about the idea, mostly because we will have movers when it comes time for my daughter and I to vacate our house at the end of the school year. The movers are supposed to pack and move everything for us, and my husband wanted to get the most value possible from that.

I understand how he feels. Truly, I do. And yet … there was All That Mess.

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In the end, I think my husband saw the “crazy” in my eyes. Mercifully, he agreed that packing up the books and things in the office was a good idea. And it is a good idea! We need to clear wall space and get our house ready to sell. So yesterday and today, I have been putting books into boxes. I have packed one fairly large (and heavy! yikes!) box. I have another box of the same size that is a little less than half full. I have a smaller box that is quickly filling with hardback books.

And I am left with, so far, one entire small bookcase and two large shelves that are gloriously empty. Or, close to empty. Trust me, it is a huge improvement! I feel I am making progress. But I also feel like our move is becoming more and more REAL. The sight of empty boxes in the hallway and the sight of empty shelves in the office have hit home for all of us.

Last night, my husband stood just inside the doorway and looked over my progress. “Wow. I know it’s all real when you start packing away your books,” he said. And it’s true. The future is coming for us all. And my books and I shall be ready for it!

Of Books …

Now that my husband has found a new job … and now that we no longer have to live fully in the “limbo” of not knowing if we are coming or going … and now that we know we will be moving in the very near future, it has become time to start clearing house and packing things away. It sounds so simple, when you write it out like that. You go through things and get rid of some and keep others. Whatever you keep, you pack away for later, hopefully for when you come home to your new house.

In reality, it is not that simple at all. At least, not for me. I have no trouble at all with visualizing what needs to be done or with listing what needs to be done. I have trouble with the actual DOING part of it. I start in on a clearing-things-out task with the greatest of intentions. And then, a day or so into the project, I start to feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of what has to be done. And I start procrastinating. I start avoiding. I wander around the house, looking at shelves and furniture, and sigh a lot.

Oh. Okay. That’s not true. I’m not that dramatic. I don’t sigh. But I do wander aimlessly from room to room while trying to figure out what I can do in order to avoid all the work ahead of me.

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Like any fool, I started my clear-out adventure where everything begins and ends for me: with my office-cave, and, specifically, with my books. I spend 90% of my time here in the office. This room started out as our “home office space”, which was meant to be shared. But it quickly turned into my space. Apparently, I am not good at sharing. I spend so much time in here that, upon awaking in the morning, my Boy Dog doesn’t run upstairs to search me out in the bedroom. Or the bathroom. Or the hall. Nope. He runs directly to the office. And, if I am not in there, he stands around in the hall for a moment, looking confused, before heading in the direction of my voice.

This room is filled to the brim — and I mean that quite literally! — with all the things I love best. I have my anime prints on the wall. I have my anime screensaver on my computer. I have my dragon statues and my wind chimes. I have a little wooden flying horse. I have my anime action figures arranged on a high shelf that circles the top of the walls, just below the ceiling. I have my nail polish. So, so, so much nail polish.

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And, of course, there are the books. I have nice shelves from the Container Store in here. They line almost one whole wall of the room, but there is a little space left over at the very end. I found a shelf that doesn’t match at all but fills the space nicely. The Container Store shelves are wide and sturdy. There is a set of shelves in the space behind the door. These are rather “built-in”, in the sense that my dad built them for me to specifically fit that space. But they are nothing fancy, particularly considering that my dad has the skill and talent to do fine woodworking and build beautiful cabinetry.

Nearly every shelf in this room is filled with books. I have a set of DVD storage cabinets on the “extra” shelf at the end of the wall. There are 5 cabinets, total, and those house my anime DVD collection. And I have a few DVDs (non-anime) on the shelves behind the door. Other than that, it’s books. And more books.

On the Container Store shelves, I have stacked books three deep. And on top of each other. I mentioned these shelves are nicely wide, right? Well, they are. I have so many books in here that I really don’t even know what I have any longer. And that’s not all! I also have books stored downstairs in an armoire. I have a lot of books. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say this.

So, I told myself this move would be a good thing. It would give me the chance to go through ALL those books and weed out the ones I don’t think I will read. In theory, this is a great idea. In theory, I love this idea.

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In practice, it is hard to let go of books. Each unread book represents an adventure not taken or a chance left by the wayside. Even if I look at a book and know, deep in my heart, I will not read it, there is still a part of me that wants to hang onto it. You know … “just in case”. I don’t have this problem with clothes. Or most knickknacks. Or, really, anything except for books. And maybe nail polish.

I am making progress. I have started a stack of books that need to find new homes. I go through a shelf and make myself be brutally honest about whether or not I will read each and every book. Sometimes, the answer is no, and I have been making myself accept that. My little stack is growing, slowly but surely.

In the end, I will wonder if this has all been worth it. Yes, I will get rid of a lot of books. But I will still possess a lot of books, when all is said and done. But then, I think about how the books that, maybe, weren’t right for me can make their way into the world. They will find their way into eager hands, and their words will reach hungry minds. Each one will hold an adventure in store for the person who is willing and ready to come along for the ride.

And I realize that the answer is Yes. It is worth it.

Changes …

I’m not sure what to title this post. I have been wanting to sit down and write it for a few days now, but I kept putting it off. I’m not sure why. Maybe I needed additional time to process everything. Really, I don’t think it even matters. This is just me, nattering away in my own mind. Bleh.

So remember how I posted, in January, about how I thought this year was going to be a year of change for my family? And how I felt surprisingly positive about everything? Well … you guessed it! Change is coming! And it is coming soon.

My husband found a new job. It is with a great company. I think he will love the work he will be doing, and it will give him a chance to expand his experience and career. I think there will be some terrific opportunities for him with this company. He is able to go in-house, after working at the hamster-wheel slog known as “law firm life” for most of his career. His new supervisor is great, and they have a terrific rapport. His new colleagues seem like they are all fantastic, too. Everyone seems excited for him to come into his new position. Is it perfect? No. Of course not. I am pretty convinced that “perfect” doesn’t exist in the world of jobs and job offers. There are negatives. But the positives outweigh them. I think it’s a great opportunity, and I feel relieved and positive about him taking it.

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So, of course, this means a lot of changes for my family. We are moving. My husband will start his new job at the end of April, and my daughter and I will move after her school year is done, which will be around the middle of June. It’s crazy how you can feel, for months on end, that you are marking time in a limbo period of your life and, then, in the span of just a few months, everything changes. It feels like our universe has been toppled right over onto its head or something! Not that this is a bad thing. But, after all that time spent wondering and hoping and guessing and believing, now we are in “hurry up and get all the things done!” mode.

Sadly, we won’t be moving home to our beloved Texas. I feel I have made my peace about this. My heart feels okay with it because I truly believe that, at this time, it isn’t the right place for me or for my family. I believe everything works out for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reason might be. And I also believe that, if a move to Texas had been right for us, it would have worked out. There were chances for it to happen, and it just didn’t.

Instead, we will be heading to Illinois. (Hence all the snow pictures in this post!) I have never lived in Illinois. I have never been to Illinois, other than the airport in Chicago on a lay-over. We are not moving to Chicago, but to a smaller town. And I think there is going to be a lot of winter weather and snow in our future. I went to the LL Bean winter clearance sale this past weekend and purchased a good pair of snow boots. I am now wondering if that one action on my part will be enough to change the entire weather pattern for the midwest. Because that is how my life often seems to go —  ha, ha!

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I have ALL the emotions, and they are all running on a continuous loop in my head. I am excited for my husband and for his new opportunity. I am relieved that he not only found a job, but that he was able to land what looks to be a fantastic job. I am hopeful that he will feel valued and respected in his new position. I am excited for the move. It will be a new adventure for all of us. I am looking forward to a new house. I am one of those “crazy/weird” people who loves looking at houses. And I am looking forward to life at a slower pace in a smaller town. Once we move, I should be able to go back to work, too. I am excited about this possibility.

On the flip side, I am nervous about moving our daughter. She will be a junior in high school next year, and she LOVES her current school. She is active in band and has a great group of supportive friends. I am nervous about how she will take to a new school. And I feel terrible for forcing her into the position of having to start over and make new friends. She is an amazing person, though. So far, she hasn’t been thrilled about the move. I wouldn’t expect her to be, and I understand her feelings. At the same time, she is keeping an open mind about it. I feel grateful to her and proud of her for making the effort. I know the change will be hard for her, but I am hopeful she will be able to adapt. Still … the doubts creep in.

The thought of putting myself out there for job interviews and into a work situation also terrifies me to a certain extent. I’ve been out of the job market for 15 years! I mean … yikes! Need I say more? I am scared I will hate working because I’ve become really spoiled over the years. Also, I am very introverted, which makes hanging out alone in my house the most ideal occupation for me — ever. I don’t think anyone is going to pay me to do that, though. Which is too bad.

And I feel alternately overwhelmed and terrified of the moving tasks ahead of us. We are starting in on a massive clean-out of our house. We are donating things. We are packing things away. And so on. It is long overdue, so I am glad we are doing it. But the “long overdue” part makes it feel like a gargantuan task hanging over our heads.

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But you know, even with all these nagging doubts and fears, I am still excited. Is that crazy of me? I don’t know. Maybe. But change is coming, whether I like it or not. I may as well buckle in to enjoy the ride!