Work has, to be frank, been 'Teh Suke' for the past month. I can't elaborate in a public entry, I'll just say there was a deadline missed, and it's taken most of this month to get caught up. Management has done as much damage control as they could, but they went about it in a way that stressed the hell out of everyone.
It looks like it's all going to be over on Tuesday though, and my job duties will change to something much more low key. All I can say is 'about time!' The past few weeks have seen me at the end of my rope, physically, emotionally and psychologically. I've been suffering from chronic headaches and sleep deprivation, and had absolutely no energy to do anything more strenuous than curling up with Bren on the couch. I'm really looking forward to Labor Day, even though it promises to be busy with visiting friends, packing and cleaning, and trying to sort through the accumulations of the last two years.
A lot of things have been happening socially, so much so that I haven't really had time to sit down and breathe. A friend that we thought hated us and didn't want to have anything to do with us anymore has returned, it turned out that he thought we would be disappointed in him... or something.... and he shut down because he didn't want to be rejected. (Or at least, that's my take on things) I'm just ecstatic to have my friend back. I really missed him. I've grown closer to other friends over the past month, drifted a little from others. One particular aquaintance has grown quite close to me, making me feel like I have a big brother constantly looking out for me. There's no words to express how good that feels.
I think that I am extremely fortunate in my friends. I don't have many people that I'm close to, I don't have many people that I can confide in. But those I do... wow. They are real gems. I love you guys.
I haven't gone to my Saturday night gaming group since June. I don't know how it happened, but the group seems to have fallen apart for the summer. I know there were some personality conflicts, and I can't help but wonder who is going to be left when we all get back from our various summer pursuits. (By the way, Char, I'm SO sorry we didn't get to stop by the faire to see you!! Dietary constraints (I was low-carbing, and um.. the food at the faire would have been WAY too tempting) and just plain old fatigue made us decide to bow out this year. I miss seeing you!!!) I've been a bit worried about another of our gamers as well... we used to chat on a regular basis through AIM and email, and I haven't heard from him since we stopped meeting every week. I might have to call him... hrm.
I look at my calendar and wonder where the year has gone. I had planned on so many things for this year, but they all seem to have slipped away when I wasn't watching. It's so hard to believe that it's nearly September. Bren's birthday, then MFF are right around the corner, and then a short trip to Maine for Christmas. (No, we're not going to be doing the usual rounds of visiting friends. This is going to be a family only trip. Sorry guys) It seems like just yesterday, it was March. Blegh.
As I was reading Skorzy's journal today, I felt a pang of sympathy for him. I was 19 when I finally moved out for good from my parents home, and I haven't gone back to live there since. Last Christmas, while we were visiting my folks (They've since moved to a different house, but still own the old one), I took Bren to the place I grew up. We walked around the yard, I showed him the places I played as a child... the pecan tree I backed over while I was learning to drive... the pine trees I used to climb, my old bedroom. The floor was replaced in the bathroom, but the wall was still there, showing the clumsy horse etched into the sheetrock, dated 1982. The bookshelf I built and stained myself was still mounted on the wall. The same old nasty carpet was in the bay windows, with the same curtains that my mother made for me hanging over them. My old bed was gone... as was all of my posters, the various memorabelia of a child and teenager packed away in trunks and boxes and placed into storage. My closet was the same, complete with my old toy chest and sewing table... and the huge dent I put in the paneling when I was 12. The door was still covered with the contact paper I had put on it, because my parents wouldn't let me paint the bedroom and I wanted something to decorate. I was 10.
As we were driving up the driveway, in my mind's eye I saw our old dog, Benny, running along behind the car, tail awag and barking, happy to see us. He passed away shortly after I moved to Michigan 3 years ago. It brought tears to my eyes.
My parents were planning on selling that house and the surrounding land. It's 15 acres, and I imagine that will bring a good price, even in the back woods of Louisiana. That trip might be the last time I'll to see it. I'm not ready to say goodbye to my childhood. I haven't lived there in nearly 10 years (!!!), but that is and always will be my home. I have very deep roots in that place, and I will always love it. Roho can attest to the fact that the place isn't much; it's a trailer up on blocks with a couple of additions, and it's twice my age, but... it was and always will be home.
So.. Jeff, as you embark on this new chapter of your life... there are others that have been there, that will empathize and support you should you need it. You know where to find us.
Anyway. Moving along.
The past couple of weeks have been a mixture of excitement and stress for us as we prepare for home ownership. On the one hand, we're VERY eager to get the keys and start moving in, but on the other hand.... moving sucks. ;) I made the mistake of trying to get a price quote from a couple of different moving companies, and now they won't leave me alone. I get spam mailings from them every couple of days, wanting to come in and run some estimates, even after I've told them that we've decided to move ourselves. When the time comes for us to move out east, I'll make sure to not use that company. Sheesh.
We saw an ad on TV for a local furniture store, doing one of those 'Free Financing for a Year!' deals, so we figured we'd mosey over and take a look. We're going to need a lot more furnishings for the new place, since apartment living != house living. Holeee Jeeeezus. For one, I felt underdressed in a tee and jeans. For two... their clearance section had some AMAZING deals. A nice solid 8 piece living room set for $900. Mmmm. Num. Bren's linked to the photo of our new place, but I don't think he gave any of the details. I unfortunately don't have room dimensions with me, but it's 1800 sq feet of living space (est). We have a smallish living room/dining room area that will probably turned into a kind of... formal living room/social area... a couch, loveseat, perhaps an easy chair clustered around a 'cocktail table' (I guess 'coffee table' is out of date). We have a fireplace, which gives us the perfect excuse to call Ash Wipe Chimney Sweeps! (I kid you not. That's their name.) Unfortunately, the fireplace is located in a very odd position, putting it in that nebulous area between the living room and the dining room. FORTUNATELY, it's perfect for a couple of comfy chairs, so we can curl up and read/draw/do needlework together on those cold nights in front of a roaring fire. Oh yes. Twist my arm.
The dining room has really lovely huge windows that look out onto the back yard, and there's a lovely wooden deck. The screen on the sliding door needs to be replaced, unfortunately. The seller told us that she put really high quality carpet in, but.. um... I dunno. :P It looks like the generic crap management companies put in apartment complexes. The linoleum (YUCK) in the kitchen is really torn up and scuffed too, which will need to be replaced. The kitchen itself is in good repair, looks okay. I'd love new cabinets, but.. um.. that's probably not going to happen. I might take the cabinet doors off and restain them if I get too tired of the look. The whole place needs paint. When the previous tenants moved out (the owner was a real estate agent that had the place leased, more on that in a minute), they just painted over everything. They didn't bother removing outlets, they just painted over them. The banister on the staircase has paint on it. It's fugly. Must go. Well. The paint on it must go. The banister itself is really nicely solid, and I'm sure that a new finish on it would look beautiful.
The deck needs a power wash, a good sanding, and some staining/water protectant. The fence around the back yard needs to be replaced; it looks like they didn't sink the posts in far enough, so the whole thing leans and tilts like it's a 3 day drunk. Easily done though. The lawn needs some work as well, but that will wait til spring, I think. The soil is badly compacted, and there's some nasty bare spots I want to get a good look at.
Upstairs... well.. the carpet is the same generic crap as downstairs. Several of the doors need to be replaced, as the prevoius tenants had 4 kids, and they didn't know how to open and close doors properly. There's holes in all of them save the Master bedroom. The blinds for the windows in the Master bedroom are missing. (Joy!) The trim to the crawlspace is falling off and probably should be replaced outright. It's a 3 bedroom house, so we've pretty much decided to have 2 offices/guest rooms (the futons will go in the offices) and use the basement for our family room/entertainment area. The room that will be Bren's office needs new blades for the ceiling fan (and a new closet door), because the previous owners put the wrong type of blade on the fan, causing it to whack into the closet door when it's open. Not good for the fan. The Master bedroom has an attached bath (!! BLISS!!) that will need some updating, they have some cheap cabinetry from Target that I want to pull out and replace, and I want to paint paint paint! I wouldn't mind replacing some of the fixtures either, but I'm not sure if that is a worthwhile project (ie, will it affect our equity enough to justify the expense).
All in all, it's got immensely wonderful potential. The basement is finished, although we want to rip out the cheap carpet (they didn't use any padding under it. Urgh), and replace it with laminate or tile, paint, and get some nice color flow in the place. Right now everything is 'institutional white', and there's nothing to really pull the eye or make the house feel warm and comfortable. I'm all for using neutral colors, but this place... wow. The seller really didn't put much effort into making the place feel warm. Fortunately, that's not going to be a problem with us when we get ready to move on. As I'm constantly joking to Bren, there's a very good reason I like to watch Trading Spaces and other home improvement shows on TLC.
But yah. We're definately excited, we're planning on putting the television in the basement.. it has a drop ceiling that will make running cabling and speaker wires for the surround system a snap, not to mention that it can get nicely dark down there for movie watching. We've eyeballed a couple of comfortable couches and such, since we're probably going to be buying at least one full living room set, and at least another couch and chair for upstairs. I'd like to get some furniture and bookshelves for my office as well, and I'm sure Bren has a few things he'd like for his office. So it's going to be interesting and expensive for a while, but I guess that's what home ownership is all about.
We've also decided that we're going to get a dog. We've talked about getting a samoyed since we first started dating (my original dog-love is a Malamute, but hey, Sammys are sled dogs and very similar temperments, so I won't complain), and there are two local Sammy rescue groups that we've been in touch with. The Northern Illinois Samoyed Rescue group seems the most promising for a younger dog, but their adoption procedures seem to be a little... draconian. I don't know how strictly they adhere to what's on the application, but.. if they are gonna freak out that we don't have a veterinarian to use as a reference, then perhaps we need to look elsewhere. Yes, Bren did work as a vet tech, but that was several years ago, and the cats don't have a 'regular' vet. Cailet's never been sick in her life, and Marcus is as healthy as a horse, so they just go in for their vaccinations and we're done. Oh well. I'm not going to stress out about it. If they turn us down, we can always buy a dog, or find some mutt that needs a home. I am REALLY excited about having a dog. For most of my adult life, I've been dogless; a state that feels very unnatural to me. Kim, the director of AFA, keeps joking that now that we have a house, she's going to fill it with animals. I don't think she's joking.
In other news, I think I got over a rather major case of art block last night. Earlier in the week (Saturday?) I participated in a bit of Open Canvas fun with Ashryn, and I was really surprised by how rusty my tablet skills have gotten. I wasn't just ragging on myself when I thought the piece sucked, it just.. did. I know I can do better than I did. I imagine it didn't help that Ashi is an artist I really admire and wanted to impress. I've found that when I'm around artists I perceive as 'better than me', I tend to freeze up, the groove gets broken, and I produce utter crap. ;) Stagefright. I think everyone gets it. Anyway, I've been pondering applying to Yerf for a long time now, but I had no motivation to actually finish artwork. Last night I was home alone, watching the History Channel (MMm. Special on European Barbarian cultures. Purrr!) and surfing the Yerf boards, and I noticed the Trading Post. Well, the subject seemed interesting, so I started sketching. Several hours later, my fingers were cramped and hurting, and I had half of a very lovely composition completed. There are parts that are still really sketchy that need definition, but I'll work on it more tonight. Scan after I'm done, I promise!
So that was really cool, and, I think, the kick in the pants I needed. I still need to finish art for MFF, but I know I can do it, and do it before the deadline. I have two panels that I need to fill, after all!
Urg. I am so very tired, and I still have an hour before I can go home.
Oh. And for locals that aren't busy, we're moving Sept 18th and can use extra bodies. Let me know if you're interested.