Friday, July 29, 2005

On the verge on a nervous breakdown

Today is my last day of work. I am FREAKING OUT. Why? All of the changes I have been planning for the last 6 months are happening now. It is real; it is no longer an idea. As darling fiancé just reminded me, this is a leap of faith. One of the things that is freaking me out the most is not having a job. I won't be working during the first year of law school since it is basically not allowed. I have had a job since I was 16 years old. Sometimes I had two jobs, sometimes I had two jobs and was in school. After today I will be a full-time student with more responsibilities than I have ever had at any time in my life (read: expenses—child, tuition, books, wedding!) and no job. Darling fiancé will be the sole support for our family. I have every confidence that he will continue to be a great provider and I know (we have had this talk hundreds of times) that he supports me 100% in going back to school. But I am still freaking out. I haven't even started to clean out my desk! Okay, time to pull myself together.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Thank you

Tomorrow is my last day of work. I have worked for this organization and this boss for nearly eight years--my entire adult life. When I started here as an intern in August 1997 I was 20 years old, I knew nothing and was unsure of my abilities.

This organization is amazing and my boss and colleagues are phenomenal. I was so fortunate to end up here, from the time I started I was always treated like an important part of the team--not like a 20 year old not yet out of college. My opinion was always solicited even if it wasn't always listened to. I have always been invited to participate in the meetings with the "big boys," I always had a seat at the table. I was judged on my performance, knowledge and abilities; not my age or gender. In any other organization it would have taken me years to move from copying and filing to strategizing, lobbying and implementing.

I am sad that I am leaving, these people have been my family in DC, but I am excited to move on and I know that this is the right time. But I know that I wouldn't have the confidence to go to law school and conquer all of the challenges that lay ahead of me if it hadn't been for Mark and Bobby believing in me, supporting me and mentoring me for all of these years. Thank you.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Wilderness Experience

We went camping this weekend to Shenandoah National Park, we went there two years ago and had great time, so we thought we better go again before we move. So we packed up the tent, chairs, snacks, cooler, bug spray, water, air mattress, air pump, snacks, sun block, card games, Frisbee, candles, hot dogs, snacks…you get the idea, we ended up with too much food and not enough clothes, blankets or ice.

We left at about 1:00pm on Friday afternoon and proceeded to endure three hours sitting in traffic on route 66 trying to get out of DC. Three hours in the car with the air-conditioning off (we have AC in the car, but it makes the car work too hard and it was already running hot just sitting there) in 95+ degree heat without any breeze. I just love marinating in my own sweat to start a vacation. Now I have to say the boys handled the whole thing pretty well. Angel babe gave up about 45 minutes in and went to sleep; the poor thing had sweat dripping down both sides of his little red cheeks. And darling fiancé just kept talking about how happy he was that we are moving away from DC. I put on a happy face and tried desperately not to curse the car so as not to induce the wrath of “fate” and have the car overheat.

My car is a 1995 Honda Civic DX coupe. This is the first car and only car I have ever owned. I can still remember the new car smell it had when I got it and how much fun I had driving around with the sunroof open and the radio cranked up the summer after my first year of college. The car was my ticket to freedom and confirmation that I could do whatever I wanted. I didn’t need to depend on anyone, I had my own car. Now I’m a bit older and wiser and my little family doesn’t really fit into this car, but a new car doesn’t really fit into our budget either. So I tell dear Betsy how much we love her and beg her to make it from A to B without incident. So far, so good.

Back to camping. Once we finally entered Shenandoah and began our drive along Skyline Drive to the campgrounds everything changed. The temperature dropped a good 10-15 degrees, the breeze coming through the windows was cool, pleasant and sweet-smelling and the scenery was absolutely breath-taking. Along the drive we spotted a black bear, several deer and a few circling hawks. We set-up the tents (one for us, one for our stuff) and fiancé perfectly grilled some steaks and veggies, we made S’mores and snuggled by the fire. We were all pretty beat so it was an early bedtime.

That’s when things started to fall apart. Every other time we’ve been camping the three of us all slept comfortably on a king size air-mattress—not this time. For some reason this was now the most uncomfortable bed on earth. Angel babe had no complaints and was snoring away—he is so loud—but fiancé and I barely slept three hours all night. First, Angel likes to sleep on top of me when we share a bed, so I was rolling him off of me about every 30 minutes, I might as well have jumped up and down on the bed for all the disruption this caused. The air-mattress is basically a big balloon, push down on one side the other side goes up; move around a little and the resulting waves move everyone else too. Angel would then migrate to his dad’s side and attempt to burrow his little feet into the small of daddy’s back to keep warm. More rolling of the snoring babe, more waves. For even more fun we failed to correctly estimate how cold it was going to be up there at night. The thin sheet over us in our shorts and t-shirts wasn’t cutting it. Then we both had to pee—of course—but it was so cold we didn’t want to get up. I finally caved at about 5:30am and climbed out of the tent to go the bathroom. Getting off the bed caused such a dramatic shift in the weight distribution that fiancé was dropped down a few inches closer to the ground while Angel was bounced up to the top of the bubble, still snoring.

I should let those of you haven’t actually met me know that I have pretty bad vision, I have worn contacts since 7th grade, I only where my glasses for about 30 minutes a day and that is when I’m reading in bed before I go to sleep or fixing Angel babe breakfast before I get back in bed to try and steal a few more moments of sleep. When I got up to go pee, I didn’t put my glasses on. I stumbled out of the tent and into the dawn mist, I bet that it was beautiful, but I can’t be sure. I started the short walk to the bathroom and realized that I didn’t want to walk across the grass in my flip flops because the grass was so wet with dew. I knew there was a sidewalk leading to the restroom, but I had always taken the shortcut across the grass. I was sure I could find it. I walked down the road a bit and realized that in fact the sidewalk didn’t lead from the road to the bathroom but from the bathroom to more campsites on the other side of the grass—the grass that I didn’t want to walk on.

Now I’m cold, tired and nearly blind walking through thick mist on wet grass twice as far as I would have if I had just sucked it up in the first place. I’m almost to the bathroom when I see a brown mass on the side of the path, I can’t tell what it is and figure it’s a bush or camping gear. Nope, when I’m about 5 feet way I realize it’s a deer. A serene deer munching on its breakfast of dewy grass. The deer at these campgrounds are pretty tame and have walked right through are campsite before without incident. But usually they keep a distance of about 15 feet from people and if you get too close they move away a few feet or walk off.

Not this deer. She didn’t move; she just looked at me. I stopped dead in my tracks; she was between me and the bathroom. I couldn’t keep going without walking right next to her. She just looked at me and kept munching. I was afraid that if I moved closer she might bite me or run into me in an effort to get away. I just stood there, freezing and having to pee. Finally I took one more step forward. She looked up at me, took one last nibble of grass and looked over her shoulder as she crossed the path and walked off as if to say “I move when I’m ready to move, you just have to wait.” I scampered to the bathroom and then took the short cut back over the wet grass to our tent. Darling fiancé was on his way to the bathroom (If he was asleep, I woke him up when I got out of the tent.) I started quickly telling him the whole encounter and how I walked right up on the deer without seeing it at all. Darling fiancé looked from side to side and said “The deer are all over the place, they love to eat the grass covered in dew. How could you not have seen them?” I looked around and saw no fewer than 10 deer in a 100 foot radius. “Sweetie, you really need to get lasik.”

In the next episode: Hiking, star-gazing and Smokey the Bear.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Phase One COMPLETE!!!!!!!!!!!

Darling fiance just called to tell me he was offered a job in Buffalo!! I am so excited and so proud of him. This is fantastic and means we won't have to mooch off my mother or spend all of our savings right away when we move next month. This is the best job for him of the prospects he was looking at--it offers oodles of training on bigger and better systems which he has been dying to do, it's a national company so it has good stability and will be a good connection if/when we relocate again in three years.

Moving to Buffalo is a huge leap of faith for him since we are moving closer to my family and further away from his and we're going there so that I can go to school and further my career. For his career he is in a great position here and is taking a pay cut when we move. Yeah, he's amazing
, I am so lucky that he supports me so much. I love him and can't wait to get married.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

35 Days to Buffalo

I am moving back to Buffalo in 35 days. When I tell people about this I get two different reactions: “YEAH!! I can’t wait to see you and hang out!” or “Why the hell would you do that?” The people who are excited are generally family and friends that live in Buffalo or friends that grew up in Buffalo, moved away and now want to go back. Those that are dismayed are people who have never been to Buffalo or have grown up there and never left.

I remember when I was growing up I couldn’t wait to get out of B’lo, I moved to Washington, DC when I was a senior in college for an internship and never left—that was August 1997. I had always wanted to be part of the political scene and loved being in powerful city filled with influential people, tons of culture and great bars and restaurants. I loved telling people from back home where I was—the subtext being that I had “gotten out,” I had escaped, I moved to the big-time, I was important. I had a great job—I was changing the world!! And meeting all kinds of impressive people. But I delighted equally in telling new friends where I was from and extolling the many virtues of growing up in Buffalo, and boring them with factoids—did you know Buffalo is the dart capital of the world? I even have vanity plates that say BFLO BRN (Buffalo Born). I was (am) proud of where I came from and proud of where I went.

But, years of living in the power-center of the world start to wear on you. DC is a very transient city, not many people are from here and going-away parties are more common than weddings. I love the people that I have met, but nearly ¾ of them have since moved away. I love my job but the last two years have been rough, open dialogue policy dialogue has disappeared, facts no longer matter and questioning government is now branded as unpatriotic (I could go on about this for pages and pages…). DC is loads of fun if you’re childless and/or have buckets of money. I am now at the point in my life where I want to buy a house in a nice neighborhood, send my child to a good school and commute to work in less than an hour. These things seem unattainable for me in DC. A 2 bedroom itty-bitty box of a house goes for upwards of $200,000, public schools are pretty bad and private schools cost more for a year than my entire college education, and if we could find an affordable house it would be at least an hour away from work—and that’s without traffic.

So, darling fiancé and I took a hard look at our life. Do I want to keep working in the foreign policy field? Do we want our child to go to private school? Are the sacrifices worth the benefits? When will it be too late to make a change? Do we want to live in DC for the next 10 years? Are we happy?

We decided: no, we don’t want to live here for the next 10 years, because making that commitment means we have to give up too much. I want to try something different before it becomes impossible because of financial commitments (house, tuition, etc.) to make a change. Fiancé has a career that he could do anywhere, while my current path pretty much chains me to DC; I don’t like the feeling of being trapped that I have been getting recently. We want Angel babe to go to public school and not worry that he isn’t good enough because his classmates drive BMWs and he doesn’t. I need a post-graduate degree to advance in my career, pursing that in DC right now would be next to impossible—but now is the best time for me to go back to school. And let’s face it; living in DC isn’t getting any safer as the US continues to piss off people around the world. We are happy, but we are not happy being here.

Buffalo is fantastic. Just big enough to have pro football and hockey teams, renowned museums, good theatre, concerts and restaurants and small enough to feel like a community. I can’t wait to go back to free Shakespeare in the park, local mom and pop pizza places, streets with trees, sidewalks and driveways, the colors of autumn, courteous and polite service people, commuters who don’t freak out at 5 snowflakes, everything 20 minutes away from everything else, go-kart race tracks, civic pride and family. I have just added a little plug for Buffalo to the sidebar—it’s an animated button that links to the blog Buffalo Rising Journal, a good place to read great things about Buffalo and how to make it better. It took leaving for a while for me to fully appreciate all Buffalo has to offer and more importantly what good fit it is for me and my family at this time in our lives.

We are moving to Buffalo in 35 days. I will start law school and have the unconditional support of my family around me. We will be able to afford a very nice house and get a dog. Angel babe will go to public school. Darling fiancé will have a yard, snow for skiing, public golf courses, chicken wings (of course) and less traffic. I can’t say how long we’re going to stay, but I know we are really looking forward to moving and are going to savor all that the city has to offer. We will be happy.

Popularity spike, yippee!!

Thanks to everyone for their very sweet comments on yesterday's post. I normally have about 4-5 vistors to my blog a day, but yesterday it shot up to 37! (I love site stats.) Very cool. Welcome to all of the new people--who unlike most of my readers I didn't go to high school with or see everyday.

I'll have a bit more to say later.

Monday, July 18, 2005


When I was a kid my dad always used to say that in his next life he wanted to come back as one of his kids. This was his way of letting us know how great we had it and how crappy he had it as a kid. Yes, we (me and my two twin brothers) did have it pretty well. We grew up in the 80’s, everything was bigger and better. We had music, dance, gymnastics and tennis lessons, we were able to join the ski club in high school, I was an exchange student in Costa Rica—twice, we had a nice house, two cars, plenty of toys, books and clothes and pretty much everything we wanted. (Well I didn’t have my own car and we all went to state schools for college—but let’s not be greedy.) We went out to dinner at fancy restaurants (because that was my dad’s business) and ordered whatever we wanted. We were encouraged to try new things—I had developed a taste for lobster by age 3, and were allowed to taste wine with dinner and even very watered down cordials like Bailey’s and Chambord.

But those are all things money can buy. The three of us also spent a lot of time by ourselves when our parents were working or went out. My dad worked in restaurants so I only saw him on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays until I was about 14. He was always at work and when he was at home he seemed to always be looking for something to bitch about—too many lights on, too many kinds of juice, or not enough appreciation for him. My point is he saw only the positives and had a really skewed view of “how great” it was to be one of his kids.

Yesterday, darling fiancé, Angel babe and I were sitting at the breakfast table having blueberry pancakes (yummy!) and we were asking Angel babe what was his favorite thing he had ever done in his 4 ½ year life. As we began to name some choices—go-kart racing, vacation in Florida, camping, vacation in Gatlinburg, TN (staying in our own cabin with a hot tub), playing Blastball, various MLB baseball games, movies, board games etc. fiancé stopped and said “Wow Angel, you’re a really lucky boy.” My mind raced back to my childhood and my dad saying the same thing, I took a deep breath. Yes, he is a really lucky boy but not only because of all the cool stuff he gets to do but because he does all of that cool stuff with both his mom and dad and because we really love hanging out with him. It has been a long, sometimes very rocky road, to get to this point—but it has all absolutely been worth it. All of the hours of anguish, hurt and doubt over the last four years as fiancé and I figured out what kind of relationship—if any—we were going to have with each other, all of the self-doubt and anxiety about the decisions we made as young parents, all of the fear I felt when I was single and pregnant have brought us to this point where the highlight of the weekend is playing Candyland and Shoots and Ladders for hours.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Suprising Results

I found this via Republic of T-- a belated Fourth of July quiz.

You Are 56% American
Most times you are proud to be an American.
Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringe
Still, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.
You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!

How American Are You?

I'm a bit suprised by the results. I don't like a lot of things about America right now, but deep down I do love this country and believe we can make things better. I guess I thought I would have a lower score, but I did sing along to "I'm Proud to be An American..." in the car over the weekend. I love listening to the radio on long car trips (8-hours from DC to Buffalo) to hear what small town stations play.

Back from Vacation

We had a fantastic time in Buffalo, and we really, really didn't want to leave. This was the first time we have been there since we decided to make the big move back. Darling fiance had two really good interviews--so the job prospects look decent even if the pay is markedly less than it is here in DC. We were expecting him to make less money, just not soooooo much less. We're both a bit nervous about this, but we (well mostly he) have managed to accumulate a decent sized nest egg to see us through any really tough spots. Plus we won't be paying full-time daycare or much rent.

We also set a date for the wedding and put down a deposit. Sunday May 28, 2006!!!! It is the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend so it will be easier for out-of-town guests to travel and we can still take advantage of a lower rate for the reception and less competition for other services. YEAH!!!! I am really excited and overwhelmed, it's really happening. This is where we are getting married outside in the garden.

So now I feel like I can really start planning and narrowing down my choices for everyhing else--flowers, dresses, favors, decorations, music, tuxes, colors, etc.

The best part of the trip to Buffalo was hanging out and playing in my mom's back yard. She has a beautiful garden and every evening we would sit on her porch swing and chat and drink and play ball or tag with Angel babe. I think being able to go directly outside in our barefeet whenever we want is going to vastly improve our health. Darling fiance is getting more and more comfortable everyday with the idea of living in Buffalo. He even bought skis while we were there and started aying attention to street names and directions.

One thing left to do---pack!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Holiday, celebration, come together...

I'm off for a week in Buffalo. I hope to come back having secured a wedding date and location, darling fiance a job and Angel babe a spot at a good school for kindergarten.

Wish me luck!!