Monday, November 16, 2015

Virtual Wine Date

Many of my favorite bloggers have a feature that they call "Virtual Coffee Date," in which they talk about a number of random topics, things that they would discuss with their bestie over a cup of coffee.

Well, friends, I think coffee dates are dumb. (In fact, I was just telling some friends that I would immediately turn down a date if someone suggested meeting at a coffee shop. I mean, isn't there supposed to be booze involved?)

So while I think the idea of a coffee date is dumb, I am all about talking about random things. Instead of "meeting up for coffee," I have decided I'd like to chat with you all over a glass (or three) of wine.

Please pour yourself a glass. I'll do the same.

Using meditation and wine is acceptable, right? Right?!

If we were having wine tonight, I would recap some fun adventures I have had with great friends over the last week.

On Tuesday, my friend Kate flew in from Florida, and we went to King's Wine Bar (where I want to be a regular) in South Minneapolis for happy hour. I haven't seen her in years, so it was nice to catch up in person. We're hoping to run a race together in the somewhat-near future. (And congrats, Kate, on your triathlon last weekend!)

On Friday night, some colleagues and I decided that we wanted to extend happy hour to a night on the town. The four of us headed to Uptown, where we checked out Stella's Fish Cafe and the Libertine before deciding that we were too tired for partying it up on a Friday after a long week. :)

On Saturday, one of my besties in the entire universe came to town, and he and his daughters and I wandered around one of my new favorite places, Lake Harriet. He and I had a lot of catching up to do, so it was a nice way to do so. Later that evening, we went to the Crooked Pint to watch the democratic debate. On Sunday, we went to French Meadow Bakery and Cafe for brunch before he had to head back to the 515.

After Shaw headed home, I met my friend Nicole for a three-mile walk around Lake Como, one of my favorite places in my old 'hood. It was bittersweet being back, that's for sure. It was awesome to see Nicole, one of my first (and greatest) Minnesota friends.

If we were having wine tonight, I would tell you how excited I am about running again. After Nicole and I walked three miles on Sunday, I headed out solo around the lake for another mile. And I killed it.

And yes, I realize that a 10:12 mile is not fast -- but it's fast for me, and that's all that matters.
I'm especially proud of myself for a couple of reasons. First, I generally run about 11:15 or so. Second, I generally run that pace long into a training schedule, so this pace was especially exciting since I haven't hardly been training at all. Third, I had already walked three miles immediately prior -- as well as three miles the day before. And fourth, I had just eaten the most unhealthy breakfast imaginable.

So yeah, I killed it.

If we were having wine tonight, I would tell you how thrilled I was with the weather this weekend. It is Minnesota -- in mid-November. There is supposed to be a boatload of snow on the ground. (Praise the heavens above that there isn't.) I walked around Lake Harriet in a cardigan and jeans, and I ran around Lake Como in a tank top.

How great is that?!

If we were having wine tonight, I would tell you that I'm feeling much more positive than the last time I wrote -- after The Flood of 2015. It rained all day while I was at work (at least I think it did -- I have no windows in my classroom), and when I got home at 5:00, the floor was dry. Hallelujah! Maintenance is coming to fix my raggedy floor tomorrow, and the leasing company also said that they were going to credit my account for the inconveniences that I faced last week. I was not expecting that, but I am relieved (and grateful) that it's happening.

If we were having wine tonight, I would tell you that I love how peaceful my new apartment is (when it's not underwater). I have been so diligent about keeping it in relatively pristine condition: putting everything away where it goes immediately when I get home, making sure all of the dishes are done and put away before going to bed each night, sweeping at least once a day (usually twice), making my bed every morning, etc. And at night, I love lighting all of the candles and sitting on my couch with my kitties and a glass of wine. It's just so calm, which is something I have not experienced in a long time.

If we were having wine tonight, I would tell you how excited I am for this weekend. The National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention is in Minneapolis this year, and several of my former colleagues (and great friends) are coming up from Des Moines. Mags will be here Wednesday and is going to come to school with me on Thursday, and I am so excited to see her (and to show off my new apartment, school, city). I am also SO EXCITED to attend the conference, as it is always super rejuvenating and reenergizing -- and, I always get bags of free books, which is especially exciting considering I'll only have to haul them across the city, not across the country this year. Because you know what I need? More books. (Last time I went -- in Boston -- I literally had to pack my carry-on suitcase inside of my checked bag, just so I would have enough luggage for the books I knew I would receive. I then had to carry TWO huge, heavy bags on the airplane with me as well. Crazy.)

If we were having wine tonight, I would tell you that we need to stop drinking already: it's a school night. And speaking of books, I want to do a bit of reading before I crash tonight. I just flew through Necessary Lies for my new book club and really, really enjoyed it. I'm about to dig into Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget (how apropos) and then am super stoked to start After You (sequel to my most recent favorite book) and then The Girls at the Kingfisher Club for December's book club.

Thanks for the wine date, friends! Mwah!

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Breaking Point

I consider myself a very cheerful, optimistic person in pretty much any situation. Even recently, despite the disaster that my life has been, I have chosen to remain positive and have been able to find the silver lining in these dark, dark gray clouds. Despite some very difficult days initially as well as some intermittent (and infrequent) sadness at really weird times, I have been doing a pretty good job of staying centered, balanced.

However, I reached my breaking point yesterday. And it wasn't pretty.

I'm about ready for this storm to be over.

It was a long day: I had a lengthy parent meeting after work, followed by a fast trip to the grocery store (to get ingredients for a soup I was making for a potluck today), an hour-long trip to my good friend's house for dinner in a torrential downpour, a 30-minute drive back across town for book club (still in the rain), and another 30-minute drive home. It was the second day in a row that I had been out of my house for 14+ hours.

I'm sure that utter exhaustion factored into what happened later in the evening.

So yesterday, I came home after book club (which was really fun), took off my wet boots, went down the hall to my bedroom to change into my jammies, and came back out into the living room. Huh, I thought. I could've sworn I took off my boots right when I walked into the apartment. Why is my floor wet?

I turned on the light:

I don't know if you can see this or not, but there is a lake covering half of my living room.

It wasn't just "a little" water. No, it was gallons of water.

And it didn't appear to be coming from the wall. There were random little puddles in the middle of the room. The water was coming up through the floorboards.

Keep in mind, it is after 10:00. My whole plan after book club was to hurriedly make the soup for today's potluck and then crash -- I was sooooo tired.

Well, that was not in the cards. First, I called our 24-hour emergency maintenance. The operator did not seem super excited about sending someone out, but I told him that it was a disaster and that I literally had no way of even starting to clean it up.

In the meantime, I did what any normal 32-year-old would do: I called my mom. I didn't even make it two minutes in the conversation before I started bawling my eyes out -- like, ugly-cry sobbing.

Seriously, what the heck?

There was NO reason that I needed to be upset about this. Sure, it was an inconvenience, but my stuff wasn't ruined, the cats were fine (albeit stressed), and I don't own the property and therefore have no responsibilities for it. This should've been something that I could just brush off.

But I didn't.

And I couldn't.

I think every ounce of stress -- and frustration and sadness and disappointment and anger -- came out at the exact same moment. Apparently it was all just pent up inside, and this was the trigger that released it all.

Lucky Mom who had to deal with it.

She is so wonderful at talking me off the ledge -- and so wise. She talked about how I have dealt with some major chaos (and a lot of crap) for the last couple of months and that I have been strong and collected throughout all of it, that it was time for me to let it all go, that everything would be fine.

It was a good thing my mom listened to my sob fest because otherwise Eric, my new best friend the on-call maintenance guy would've had to deal with it.

He came in and started tearing apart my floor before setting the wet-vac loose on it.

Eight gallons of water later, he called in reinforcements (my other new best friend, Mark from the floor restoration business). It took Eric a while to leave because I think he just felt so bad for me; I think he could also tell that I was extremely fragile and ready to start crying (again) any second. I thanked him profusely, but he just kept saying, "I didn't do anything! I'm so sorry! I feel like I just put a Bandaid on a gaping wound!"

And honestly, that's kind of what he did; but, that's all he could do. As soon as he left, the living room filled up with more water.

Mark finally arrived (around 12:45 a.m.) with some heavy-duty equipment. First, he brought his truck around the side of the building and ran a huge hose into my living room and woke up all the neighbors sucked out more water. Then he moved all of my brand-new furniture, tore up more of my flooring, set up a fan underneath the laminate as well as another fan across the room and the biggest dehumidifier I have ever seen (with a hose that connected it to my sink).

This equipment ran all night. (Mark left around 1:30.)

After no more than three hours of sleep, this is what I woke up to this morning: a mostly-dry floor, aside from a puddle around the de-humidifier.

Oh, and a stack of furniture.

While no tears escaped today, it was a close call on several occasions, most notably when I was sitting in the property manager's office, entirely stressed out about my living situation. Awesome.

The apartment is mostly cleaned up now, but there are still some random areas where a bit of water is seeping through the floorboards, there's still one bookshelf out of place since I have no idea what the heck to do with the dehumidifier, and pieces of my floor are still missing. I believe Mark will be back tomorrow to pick up his equipment and put the laminate back together, so hopefully I'll come home from work to an immaculately calm living space again.

Oh, and the normal, everyday maintenance dudes seem to think it's an issue with faulty drain pipes. Apparently there are holes in the one that's right outside my living room window, which means that the torrential downpour that happened yesterday basically just immediately entered my apartment. Hopefully that will be fixed, oh, like five hours ago.

So yeah.

But, I went to work. And I laughed (and commiserated) with the most wonderful colleagues/friends. And I smiled and goofed off with my students.

I told my kids about my horrible night, and I told them the very bare bones of my situation over the past few weeks, and I did so in hopes that they could see that struggles, hardships, and difficulties don't define a person, that positivity, cheerfulness, and a good, hopeful attitude are possible, even when things are pretty darn crappy.

And that is something that I need to continue to keep in mind for myself.

Things will get better.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

New Apartment Tour

As I mentioned in a prior post, I have had some major life changes lately. One of those changes included moving to a new apartment -- after spending a wonderfully relaxing three weeks with my sister-mom, Gail. (She decided that I am her daughter-sister since our aunt-niece relationship just wasn't describing the two of us aptly enough; therefore, she is my sister-mom.)

Interestingly, I don't have a good photo of the two of us from that time period. Perhaps it is because we spent most of it either at work or in sweatpants. So, here's a photo of us from a couple of months ago -- when we met for lunch at It's Greek To Me in LynLake.

Anyway, I wanted to mention that I am so indelibly grateful for her support (and that of my uncle and cousin) during this very difficult time. I truly believe I am the luckiest girl in the world to have so many wonderful people in my corner. I honestly do not think I could've done it without them.

Also, it is so nice having family in town. I hadn't even been out of the house for a week, and Gail and I already missed each other so much that we had to meet for lunch!

Back to the topic of this post, though: I moved into my own apartment last Sunday. I was a bit nervous to see the place because I was such a hot mess during this whole process: I literally signed the lease without even seeing the unit. And when I was actually able to see my unit, I was so distraught and distracted that the only thing I remembered was asking the leasing agent how to work the dishwasher.

Yep: that was clearly the most important question to ask about the place I'd be living for the next 12 months.

When I first unlocked the door to start bringing in all of my boxes (of books and treasures, duh), I was again a little apprehensive: the place looked tiny. I swear that it was bigger when I did my walk-through.

Turns out all the place needed was stuff to look bigger.

Friends, I am in love with my new apartment: it is so clean, so spacious, so calm.

So without any further ado, I present to you my new digs:

I'm standing in the far corner of the living room. Immediately to my right are two floor-to-ceiling closets as well as my front door. To my left is the couch, which you'll see in a minute. I would like to get a big basket to put underneath the TV stand -- it would be nice for blanket-storage and cord-coverage.

This is my brand-new couch and ottoman. I love it SO much. And I give it one more week before a cat pukes all over it. (But cats: puke away. I got the protection plan.) I'd like to someday get a big comfy reading chair for the corner that has my nephews and candle.

First and foremost, I'd like you to note the bottom left corner: I have a dishwasher, y'all! I haven't had a dishwasher since I lived in Omaha -- fourteen years ago! I love the stainless-steel appliances (including a gas stove) and granite countertops in my kitchen. Eventually, I would like to get real dining room tables rather than icky folding chairs. But hey, moving is a bit expensive. Also, the bicycle is not a permanent fixture there, although to be honest I don't really mind it. There is a bike garage on the property, but it's currently full, and they're working on putting together a second.

Another angle of the kitchen. What can I say? I love it!

Aside from the way-too-close-to-the-toilet towel rack, my bathroom is really nice. There's a lot of storage under the sink (hidden in this view), and my little patio table fits nicely.

So what that I'm 32-years-old and sleep with a bunny and blankies? Don't judge me! To the right of the bed and partially seen in this view are floor-to-ceiling mirrored closets. The storage in this apartment is incredible. There are also floor-to-ceiling mirrored closets in the hallway from the front door, past the kitchen, to the bathroom and bedroom -- you can kind of see them in the next shot. To the left of the bed there is a wall of windows, and the cats really love to play with the blinds in the middle of the night.

Here's looking from the far corner of the bedroom to the hallway.

And Chloe and Charlie wanted me to be sure to include their "house" in this post. They finally figured out how to use a litter box with a lid, and it's hanging out next to the bathroom.

And that's all, folks! I'm crossing my fingers I got off the waitlist for a garage this winter, but if not, oh well. I've been parking outside for the last 14 years, so I can probably manage to go another with snow-scraping.

I love my apartment -- so much.

I also could not have made it what it is without my mama. She came to Minnesota last Saturday, helped unload everything into my apartment, and then stayed until Tuesday morning to help me set it all up. I was at work all day on Monday, and she unpacked my entire kitchen and put together three IKEA purchases (the two book cases against the wall in the living room and the TV stand). Not only that, but she braved big-city driving, something she abhors, to help me in a time of crisis. I am so, so, so thankful for her.

Here we are Monday night. We had no makeup, no couch, and no idea where anything was, but by God, we found the tiaras and the selfie stick, so all was right with the world.
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Mine has been so relaxing (despite getting not one but two workouts in). I'm off to enjoy a glass of wine and my book before crashing for the night.

G'night, friends!

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