What Is Life

Almost a month ago, I spent my last night in Omaha.

Most of my things were moved already, and all that remained were a few odds and ends, and my furniture.

The morning of the big move, I was seriously anxious. What was going to go wrong? What was going to get broken? What if this happens? What if that happens? I was also very emotional, even though I tried my hardest not to be.

My parents showed up to say goodbye; mom was a bit weepy and, of course, my dad says the things I always need to hear: I am worthy, I deserve everything I want, I can do anything I want to do, and I am loved. So, there went the tears. My brother showed up a bit later and stayed with me until just before I hit the road. He helped calm me down and let me know on his way out how well the moving truck was being packed. Phew.

The drive up here went by quickly and slowly at the same time. I got caught in five o’clock traffic just two miles from my exit and I was absolutely livid. I just wanted to be there!

That evening, and the week after, are a total blur of unpacking, buying shelving units and other fun IKEA things, building said things, hanging photos, organizing the kitchen, organizing the closets, etc. Oh, and sleeping poorly because one huge window in our bedroom was missing blinds. Waking with the sun every morning, regardless of when I went to sleep the night before, was aggravating as hell. And didn’t really restore me for a new day of work.

By the next week, we were already looking at puppies to adopt. I got Andrew caught up in the search and essentially all of our texts consisted of puppy photos all day. We knew we wanted a bigger dog and we wanted to adopt a rescue. In looking at the adoption process, I got discouraged. An application, an interview, references, a meeting, a home visit?! Jesus Christ, are we adopting a child? Applying for a government job? I had no idea it was so thorough and difficult. I understood and completely support the method behind the madness, but for those of us normal, decent human beings who aren’t going to chain the dog up outside 24/7… ugh.

We ended up applying for a dog that we totally fell in love with and then got denied because another couple was ahead of us in the process. Then we applied for a couple more and the same thing happened. At this point, I’m going, Jesus Christ, I’d almost rather pay double to just get one from a pet shop. But instead, we applied for a few more.

Finally (I say, finally; it was probably like, within a couple days), we got invited to go meet one of the puppies. He was adorable and cuddly and I think Andrew was pretty goddamn set on him. We fell asleep that night discussing ridiculous names, such as: Sterling The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers versus The University of Iowa Hawkeyes… [last name].

We communicated to the foster mom and the lady from the shelter that we indeed wanted this little pup… and then we never heard anything from the shelter.

Then, in true things-happen-for-a-reason fashion, the day I was bitching about the lack of communication and consideration, I got a call from another foster mom about another puppy we’d applied for. Apparently the people who wanted her were having trouble coming up with the adoption fee (red flag, much?), so if we want her, she’s ours.

I think this was a Wednesday. We set up a meeting for Friday, we filmed a home video (in lieu of a home visit) Thursday, we drove an hour to meet her Friday, and that night, we brought her home.

Meet Olive Adventure (and insert heart-eyes emoji):
Olive Adventure

She’s a (now) nine-week old Shepherd Mix. We aren’t sure what she’s mixed with, but we’re pretty sure that it’s a wirehair of some kind. She’s a joy and a laugh and a little shit and a snuggler and a whiner and so sociable and sweet. She’s super outgoing; she’ll go up to anyone and any dog. She wants to play with everyone. She doesn’t like being hot and will whine (kinda like me) and she has recently started fording the stream in the park across the street.
Olive in the stream

Andrew and I are now ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy’ and we’re just totally in love. (Cue: ‘awww’)

We’ve had her a week and a half now and, well, she’s exhausting. ‘Daddy’ is at work five days a week, so ‘mommy’ has to do the most potty breaks and cleaning up accidents and trying to get her to stop biting or chewing on absolutely everything. Not to mention, she’s up with Andrew when he gets up for work (somewhere in the neighborhood of 6am). So yeah, I’m getting a spa afternoon on Thursday lol

Adding to the frustration, I’m getting paranoid about my dwindling savings, so I’ve resumed the job hunt… again. I’m being fairly goddamn picky because I just am, but I want it to be within walking distance (which isn’t a huge ask, seeing as we’re downtown), part-time so I can be home with bb most of the time, and not a receptionist or food service job. Actually, what I’d really like to do is some writing from home. If only I could get myself to finish that ‘novel’ I started.

I’ve also resumed the fitness journey. Buzzfeed posted that circuit workout a couple weeks ago and I’m on the third week today. You’re supposed to up the weight each week; I started with 10lb dumbbells. Because the tiny rec in my building didn’t have 12s, I had to go straight to 15s… And to be consistent, I need to use 20s tonight. I’m a tad nervous I won’t be able to do it all, because I also have to up the reps by two. I don’t know how much physical change I’ll see in two more weeks, and I haven’t weighed myself because fuck the scale, but who knows. I’ll prob just keep going with it and eventually be curling 50s LOL

Anyway, I love Saint Paul. I keep saying it’s like Omaha and London had a baby because it really does feel like home and the city I adore. Our apartment is brilliantly located a block from the train and ten meters from the park, a few blocks from the river and a half-mile from Starbucks (win). There are a bunch of microbreweries and awesome restaurants within walking distance and anything else is on the trainline. I probably came up here with 6100 miles on my car, and I noticed the odometer read 6171 today. So, about seventy miles in almost a month? Not fucking bad.

The only driving I do now is to the chiropractor, which is still only about seven miles away. It’s a different technique than I was getting in Omaha, but apparently, this is the next step in my treatment that makes the most sense. Here’s to hoping I get back to 100% after a couple months of this. I got really emotional when I had my consultation with the new bonebreak. It just dredges up all of the accident memories and memories of all the pain. It’s almost been a year and I’m still dealing with everything. Thank God for Andrew, seriously. What a loving, caring, thoughtful support system I have. I’m embarrassingly lucky to have him. And my family, holy shit.

Tell me, what is my life without your love? Tell me, who am I without you by my side?

Vindication (Trust Your Instincts)

The last two times I had major gut feelings about leaving the house, I ignored them and ended up getting slammed into by neglectful/drunk drivers.

This time, I listened to my instincts and stayed home. Sure, a lot of it had to do with anxiety this time, but that doesn’t change the fact that all I’ve heard of today have been slick roads, accidents, stalled vehicles, and backed-up traffic.

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Not that I felt that I needed support for my decision to cancel my appointment this morning out of fear, but it certainly seems like my fears were justified today. Which subsequently lets me feel a little less affected and a little more responsible.

Less Ice, More Bucket

(Excuse the awkward yelling – that damn boxer is so loud!)
My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with gratuitous slo-mo. I nominated Maren Jensen, Melanie Bird, Paul McCartney, and Warren Buffett – because friends, why the hell not, and Omaha.
I’m also going to donate $100 on http://www.alsa.org/ because they’ve gotten a ridiculous amount of money in such a short time and I want to continue that.
Thanks to Mary Nagel for filming and Conor for going through the difficult task of dumping a ton of ice water onto his sister’s head – your sacrifice was for a good cause.
Keep giving and keep freezing.

And thanks to Nora Shanno for the nomination 🙂

Six Degrees of Separation? Child’s Play

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Recently- not that this is anything novel or previously unexperienced, but- recently, and I mean, just this month, I’ve met or run into complete strangers who know all the same people I do. The fact that we’re still strangers is, frankly, odd.

Case #1: I am invited to a bachelorette party weekend at a cabin about fortyfive minutes west of Omaha. I know the bride and the bride’s best friend, and then there are six other girls I’ve never met. Upon arriving, two of the strangers (who aren’t strangers anymore, d’awwwwwww) are challenging each other. “I’ve got THE most hideous dress to show you.” “No, I have the most hideous dress to show you.” In the end, of course, it turned out to be the same dress on the same gal. 

Now, yeah, okay, that’s funny and ha-ha small world, BUT THERE’S MORE.

I want to see this hideous dress, naturally, so the laptop is turned toward me. Oh, hey, I know the guy in that photo. 

“How do you know him?” I went to pre-school and high school with him. 

“Well, I went to St Phil’s with him.” Well, I played soccer for St Phil’s.

“Then you must know _____.” Yep.

“And ______.” Yep.

(and so on).

I think at the end of that little discover, I’d learnt that we all had so many friends in common that it was a miracle that we’d not met before.

I took that opportunity to warn everyone: don’t talk shit about anyone at all ever because clearly, he or she will end up being someone’s brother or cousin or neighbor or postman.

Case #2: Went out to the bar and Kona for a friend’s birthday. This time I knew everyone, as they were all previous co-workers. Then another person shows up and one of my friends says, “Oh, I think you guys have a mutual friend.” I was like, “besides all of y’all?” (God, I’m funny). After raucous laughter, the stranger goes, “Yeah, Melanie?” 

I just looked at her.

“So, no?”

Um, no, the look is because I have literally known her my entire life and I’ll be in her wedding next year. (Different wedding).

“Oh! Well, I played softball with her for (however many) years!” And now this stranger (but not anymore, D’AWW) works for my former employer.

Weird. 

But, WAIT.

After our favorite bar, we popped over to Kona (because food) and we were talking about my friend’s birthday. All of a sudden, this guy slightly behind me goes, “Oh, who’s birthday is it?” Hers. “Ah, how old are you?” (First of all, wrong direction). She says: Guess. (Annnnnd there’s the trap). “Um, 31?” 

Shots fired.

Yeah, I’m 29, thanks. “Oh! I’m sorry, well, I’m 41, so I’m way old!” Yeah, right, let me see your ID.

(He gets out ID) How do you say your last name? “Like it’s spelled.” (Why haven’t I ever used that approach? Oh wait, because Friis).

She pronounces it quite Frenchly and he says, “no, it’s-” and without looking at the ID, I say it correctly.

“How’d you do that?” Well, do you have a younger brother named Justin who went to North?

“OMG YES! How did you know that?”

FFS.

Case #3: Not as strong of a case, I grant you, but still enough to be like, JFC. Talking to my friend who I’ve actually never met, but you know, it’s one of those social media things that I love; anyway, he asks me if I listen to 105.9 ever. I’m thinking, I didn’t know 105.9 was nationally syndicated (this friend lives in CA). 

“Oh, well, my friend, a comedian, just told me that he was on the 105.9 morning program this morning… in Omaha!”

Needless to say, I wasn’t up early enough for the morning program, but I googled this comedian and he happens to be coming to the Funny Bone just down the street in November.

I just know that when I go see his show and I tell him that we’ve got a mutual friend, he’ll say, “what a small world!”

 

Wedding Dress Shopping With Mom

… for mom.

So admittedly, it may have been a tad awkward at first, you know, with the whole: “Are you looking for anything in particular?” “Yes, a wedding dress… for her *gestures to mom*” But I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard with her.

We started at Von Maur because they always have lovely formal gowns. We had the cutest little sales gal helping us and we tried on a TON of stuff. I tried on this gorgeous, and I mean stunningly gorgeous, slightly-mermaid, slightly-trumpeted navy lace overlaying cream gown, with a thick band of the navy lace right at my waist. Oh. It was. I mean. I could get married in this dress. If it wasn’t $310 and I had more than no fucking clue when I’d be getting married, I’d have bought it just for shits. But alas.

Mom did find a beautiful one-shoulder, kind of light-tan-ish gown with clusters of beads here and there; the top is a bit boucle or flouncy, whatever, and it looks wonderful on her. The only thing she’ll have to do is have it hemmed because she’s a shorty. (Which is exactly why the dress-that-would-be-my-wedding-dress didn’t really fit her and she then handed it over to me to try on, fitting perfectly and making me wish I ever had a place to wear it).

We had just gotten to Von Maur at 1130, and I think we’d found that dress (and a super cute black and white striped one that I loved) by noon or 1230, but we were like, surely there will be some good stuff at Younkers, JCPenney, David’s Bridal, Dillards, etc. So we put those on hold and went out into the mall.

After trying on a ton of shit, we decided that it was time food. Naturally, we got distracted by Teavana and bought some white peach tea. (Starbucks is using Teavana’s peach tea with their shaken green tea lemonades and oh my God, it’s the fucking shit, let me tell you. They also have a shaken blackberry mojito tea lemonade and yeah, fucking good). 

I don’t think we even tried anything on at JCPenney because they didn’t have shit. We ran across the street to David’s Bridal. Talk about a fucking downer of a shop. The ladies up front weren’t helpful, nor very courteous. They certainly didn’t have any customer service training, or just didn’t give a fuck. They had shit for choices. While mom tried on a few ‘party dresses’ (as she doesn’t want a wedding gown), I went browsing through the gowns. One of the gals walked up to me and asked if the dresses fit me okay. I was like, um, no, my mom is trying them on? (You know, the one whose wedding is coming up, like we said, you dumb bitch). “Oh… okay…” Then she proceeded to ask us if we’d registered the wedding there; mom was like, no, it’s going to be a non-traditional, fifteen minute (if that) ceremony, no flowers, no nothing, etc. “Oh, well, then you can’t try on any of the gowns.” AAAAAAAND that was that. 

In hindsight, maybe they weren’t too keen on us shopping there after we made fun of and laughed at almost all of their selection. At one point, we both went over to a not-so-bad dress hanging on the wall. Mom grabbed one side to get a better look, as I did the same on the other side. We pulled each side toward us, come to find this dress is like, size 40. It was draped in a way that made it look about a size six, so of course we were both quite shocked and had to walk away in different directions because we were crying laughing. I wish someone could have filmed that, it couldn’t have been scripted better.  

Fuck them.

Anyway, so from there, we went to Dillards at another mall and tried on a shitload of different shit while these two biddies kept after us. NOTHING fit right, or fit at all, and we were sharing a dressing room at this point, doubled over in laughter, mom cussing not-quite-so under her breath while getting stuck in almost every gown. Ah God. It was wonderfully painful. 

Discouraged and feeling fat, we migrated over to the Nike section and scooped up some forgiving sweats, yoga pants, and baggy t-shirts. The biddies laughed at us and we left.

Upon getting in the car, mom screamed. “IS IT REALLY FUCKING SEVEN PM?!” 

It really was. We’d been shopping for dresses since about noon and hadn’t bought not-a-one. Fuckin’ hell.

Back to Von Maur we went. Mom did one last sweep of the area while I scoped out the probably-gay pianist. Even so, I wondered if he was the type of musician to keep me up at night, wailing over the scribbled-out sheet music, pounding his fists on the ivories, or if he was just some random bloke off the street who saw the unattended baby grand as an opportunity to mislead young ladies. Another too-attractive young man walked in and collected the more-than-probably-gay pianist and they left together. Sigh.

We bought our held dresses and walked back out to a beginning thunderstorm. 

According to my phone, we walked about 2.5 miles today. My feet and legs are dead (especially after the elliptical, leg presses, and half mile of swimming last night). 

Day: Success. Of some sort, anyway.

Toward the end, I noticed mom getting more and more discouraged. She’s just had her gallbladder out, so she’s still a bit sore/stiff/bloated/etc and tends to carry her weight around her middle anyway. Normally, when I’m shopping, even with someone else, I’m alone in my dressing room, watching my own crestfallen expression in the shitty mirror. This time, I had to watch mom’s. It really broke my heart. This beautiful woman trying to find a non-wedding-dress wedding dress for her wedding coming up in a couple months, and not only were there not a ton of brilliant choices, but not a ton of flattering choices. 

‘If I could just get rid of this *holds belly*’ – I kept gently urging her, with suggestions for smaller portions or maybe take a half-hour walk every day. 

I mean, don’t I fuckin’ know it. I’ve always had birthing hips and thicker thighs and a bigger ass and lovehandles. I can hardly ever step into a dress, I almost always have to put it on over my head – I don’t care how full or heavy it is. She’s got narrow hips and thin legs, but struggles with her midsection. Also, like I said, she’s short, so she’s got a short torso, and that doesn’t always help with all these waist-emphasized pleated/belted/gathered/rouched gowns. 

I really hope she can slim down for her sake and happiness. She doesn’t have much to lose, but even trying to lose a little can seem almost impossible.

She did look so, so glamorous in the first dress – the one I ended up buying for her. If Tom wears a white dress shirt and a tan/cream vest, they’ll go perfectly together. Like they do anyway.

 

Thursday Was A Good Day, but

I woke up to a missed call from MINI – my car was in. Finally. I called the sales manager back and asked if the windows were tinted. He said, no, but would I like them tinted? I said, yes, can they be done by the end of the day? He said he would get them done in a few hours and wouldn’t charge me. Damn right. So I would have to exercise my threadbare patience until 4pm.

I figured I would get up and get ready and run some errands in the meantime. While I was getting ready, my financial advisor on the east coast called me and told me that we shouldn’t have to jump through as many hoops trying to get the house, which is great! But it might still be tough to prove I wouldn’t just run off to Vegas and blow all of my money. Well, whatever, we’ll figure it out. I let my loan officer know and he said he would look into it. I thought, oh my God, this might be easy as hell.

Checked my mail and had finally gotten the settlement check from my insurance company. Went to the bank and made a total dad joke when the teller asked how I wanted my cash back (‘In dollars,’ I said). Took off for Starbucks and the barista told me my hair was fantastic. It was just shaping up to be an awesome day. 

I turned in my rental car, dad met me there and took me to MINI. My car is absolutely beautiful. Next step will be putting on the black bonnet stripes (maybe next week before/after Jo gets here). I’m just so happy to be back in a familiar car. Being able to press the clutch and shift gears; flicking the indicator lever and knowing it’ll blink three times so I can change lanes or merge. And now I’m spoiled with heated seats and a panoramic sunroof. 

Went to a friend’s house, actually one of my English teachers from high school. She was laid up with an injured back, so I helped her read through some papers. It was probably more fun than it should have been, but then again, I’m a total nerd, so it was right up my alley. 

All in all, an awesome day after a couple frustrating weeks.

And then I woke up Friday.

Had a text from my LO saying to call him when I had a chance. I called him from bed and he told me that because I don’t have any income, I’d either need a co-signor on the loan or I’d have to pay cash. Paying cash was out of the question, for a number of reasons, but mainly because the point of a loan was to build equity/credit/have a tax write-off. That left me with finding a co-signor. My mom is about to move into her fiancée’s house this fall, so she is out. My dad’s got his mortgage. My brother is in school, so he doesn’t have an income, either. Any other co-signor would have to be a roommate, which I don’t want. 

I also don’t want to continue on this woe-is-me shit, but it was really, really disappointing. I honestly thought it was going to be a done deal as soon as I did the loan paperwork. I was looking forward to working with my LO, doing the closing, moving stuff into the house, getting new bedroom furniture, I’d already started thinking of things to put on this huge blank wall in the entry way… Yeah. Like usual, I got way too ahead of myself and way too excited, so, like usual, I got way let down. I’ve only myself to blame, I know.

I know that it clearly wasn’t meant to be, otherwise it would be. I’m still fucking sad about it. 

Of course mom was like, you never know, you might get a job offer in the next month and then you’ll be whisked out of Omaha anyway – then having a house or being in the middle of the house process would just be in the way. I’d love to believe that. Obviously, I hope for it. The funny thing was, though, that once I’d found this house and even though I’d be a super rental property even if I did move, I was kind of hoping I’d find something here and I’d be here for a bit longer.

Oh yeah, and then I got turned down for the social media job in town that I’d applied for and, surprise surprise, I’d gotten very excited about. 

Thank God I’d been invited out for wings and drinks. Plenty of both later, I was home looking up rental properties in Omaha. A couple people asked me if I’d be able to get a loan if I got like a part-time barista job at a Starbucks for the sake of having an income. Would they even lend me money on the basis that I’m a part-time barista? I doubt it. 

I’m pretty sure I’ll just end up in either another apartment, or renting my apartment month-to-month so that I don’t have to sign another lease. I’d love (well, I say ‘love’) to move into the apartments down the street. They’re much nicer than my apartments, there’s a nice pool and a 24 hour gym, they allow dogs, etc. I’ve been in one of their apartments and they’re just really beautiful and feel comfortable. As much as it would be a pain in the ass to move, I’m honestly thinking I’d rather live there than here. (As I listen to my loud fucking neighbors). 

Then, of course, I think, oh, but what if I do get a job offer and I move by the end of summer and I’ve moved for no reason when I could have just rented month-to-month and now I’ll just be moving once… 

I don’t know what to do. I’m back to square one. 

At least I’ve got my goddamn car.

A Week-long Six-hour Journey

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Six and a half hours. That’s straight through with no stops. Truck drivers carrying property have driving rules, I know that.
Truck drivers carrying property can drive a maximum of eleven hours after ten hours off-duty (US DOT: FMCSA).
Let’s say there were a few stops along the way. Interstate 80 runs along quite a few potential stops, and this is assuming that the transport truck started at Madison and made its way west. Could have had a stop in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Des Moines (very likely), and then arrive in Omaha. Maybe even, depending on the route, a stop in Rockport, Davenport, and then Iowa City, Des Moines, and Omaha. Who knows how many dealerships are along the way, and frankly, I’m not about to get into all that. This is frustrating me enough to sit down and be pontificating pedantically about this as it is. 

That being said. So, eleven hours max. Stopping four times along the way bumps the travel time to twelve hours, which would be over the limit, never mind how they measure time when they’re stopped or resting (the US DOT website uses confusing language, so I’m not going to try to understand that). So clearly, this journey would already take more than a day. Got it. Maybe even two or three.

That being said. It’s taken a week.

I called my salesman today because I hadn’t heard anything and was met with the typical I-totally-wasn’t-about-to-call-you-but-I’ll-tell-you-that-because-it-sounds-like-I’m-trying-to-keep-you-in-mind answer of, “I was just about to call you!” (no harm, I used this more often than I’d care to admit when I worked in an office and I’m sure it hasn’t left my lips for the last time). “There were some issues with the transport truck, so we’re looking at tomorrow” (as in Wednesday, as in, a week). 

The point of having the car brought down to Omaha for me was strictly convenience. I worked at a car dealership in Omaha for almost four years, and when I found a car I liked at one of our branches even just a couple hours away, they’d bring it down to Omaha out of convenience for me. Makes total sense. Good customer service. 

Before I decided on this particular MINI, there was one on the east coast that had even more of what I wanted, but was a bit more expensive and would have taken ‘over a week’ to get here. I was trying to drive to Canada (today), so a week wouldn’t cut it – I decided on the one that was closer with fewer of my requests because it would get here ‘this weekend; Monday at the latest.’ 

Honestly, I could have set up a rental return in Madison either last Thursday or Friday (you know, because it was due Friday before I had to start paying for it), and then done the F&I in Madison and driven home in my car. Have I needed it? Not necessarily; it’s just the principle of the thing at this point.

I realize how whiney and bratty this sounds, but I won’t again get into the ridiculousness of how this would be for someone with a family and full-time job to handle while constantly having to add days to their rental for which they are now paying for out-of-pocket because of the ‘insurance guidelines.’ I said I wouldn’t get into it again, didn’t I

I’m sorry that there’s been an almost-daily (more than daily) commentary about this situation, but it’s just the most frustrating thing going on in my life at the moment. While I’m trying to buy a house, do my taxes, plan for company- holy fucking shit, I’m an adult, when the hell did this happen?!

This isn’t all for naught. Luckily. I’m learning a lot from it. Life experience, I guess. If I wasn’t learning from it, it would be wasted on me; so yeah. Nevertheless, I’ll be working on my pout when I hopefully finally go pick up my car tomorrow. I should probably use it when I visit my loan officer as well. Sure we can’t do any better than 4.125%? *insert pout*

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