Category Archives: home

reflections on a thumbnail apartment

As nice as the house is that I currently live in, it’s not a home. Even if I felt comfortable with the circumstances, the whole feel of the place is cold and uninviting. The furniture isn’t comfortable, every surface is scrubbed to a gleam and it’s just a little too perfect in all the little ways that most lived-in houses are not. I think back to the days of laughing about how my grandparents’ house never felt like anyone lived there. They occupied so little space themselves and kept everything so tidy, it was like half the house or more never got used. Just the recliner downstairs so Grandpa could watch baseball games late into the night, the kitchen table where they’d share crossword puzzles and Bible study over breakfast and their bedroom and bathroom. Everything else was pristine. But I didn’t have to live there myself, so what did it really matter to me in the long run?

But being here feels bad all around. Even my tiny thumbnail of an apartment already feels cozier than this place, with half-unpacked boxes, wads of newspaper packing and unsorted socks all over the place. I already feel more at home there than here. Luxurious beds, hardwood floors and granite counters, be damned! I’d rather have all my Craigslist furniture, a kitchen that’s too small and a little balcony facing the woods. That equation is better any day of the week. And, yes, I’m having a little trouble fitting everything I own into this minuscule space without jamming full every nook and cranny in the place, but I’m making marked progress. Photos are forthcoming, I assure you.

Seriously, though—who has only one piece of comfortable furniture in the entire house? Especially when it’s a recliner. Only one person can occupy a La-Z-Boy at a time. It ain’t no papasan chair, after all. ;)



Filed under home, moving, thoughts

when she bars the door and strikes a match

I am speechless. I have no idea how to express to all of you the realization I’ve now come to about myself: I am insane. I am honest to goodness loco, people. And all it took for me to see that was an empty 1-liter bottle of Mountain Dew.

Said bottle was labeled in black Sharpie, “Matt’s from the first day we met—6/12/04, Rivertown Crossings Mall.” This empty soda bottle was from the first day I met my second boyfriend, in 2004!

This was not the extent of my unearthed crazy however. I had an entire box filled with notes, greeting cards, ticket stubs, Pizza Hut placemats, crispy roses, wrapping paper bits, USED BIRTHDAY CANDLES IN A LABELED ZIPLOC BAG. This was just one relationship of five, so you can imagine how the memorabilia adds up over time.

I swear I paced around my bedroom for 10 minutes after discovering this trove, wondering aloud how I could’ve thought these things were worth saving. The sad part is, these items mean nothing to me now. I remember almost nothing about the events associated with these mementos. The things I do remember don’t require bits of paper and plastic and extensive cataloging to stick in my memory. Though I will say I’m happy to have found my hand-painted “My First LAN” T-shirt. THAT I will wear again. =)

Even as I scoffed at my hoarding, some of the items also gave me pause. It occurred to me how my memories of people, places and events do not always accurately convey the reality. I remember this boyfriend and the surrounding circumstances a certain way, but those items revealed a different reality. And maybe what drove the reality was silly and stupid, but it’s just so strange to realize how little I recall now of the emotions and exchanges and actual relationship. What I remember are the really bad times, the hurt, the confusion and the stupidity (mine). I remember the time spent on the road, the stress I felt over the circumstances, the cold water. But there was something good in all that—there had to have been, I suppose, or we wouldn’t have been in the middle of it. It’s just so hard to see through the shroud of negativity I’ve placed on the situation now. It has nothing to do with the person himself, but everything to do with the situation and the timing. And me.

I just can’t believe what I’ve found in these past two days. I spent years collecting bits and pieces of memories, most of which were other people’s. I have programs from plays/concerts I wasn’t in, yearbooks in which my picture did not appear, photos taken from afar. What were these items meant to remind me of? The fact that I never truly lived and instead chose to live through the feelings brought on by others? That’s all I can think of now when I reflect on these yellowed, tattered remnants of bygone years.

What I note as I look back is that my best memories (those that are truly mine) have almost no physical manifestation today. There are a few snapshots scattered throughout my boxes, but what remains are the mental flickerings of middle school and high school with Mandy and Carla. College with the former. Even the days of pursuing unrequited love.

I’ve cried and laughed several times as I’ve looked through all these pieces of my life, amassed in the basement of my mother’s house. And, even more often, I’ve sneezed. But the lesson I’ve come away with is that these things aren’t me. They are things I want to remember, things that helped shape my personality along the way. But they do not define who I’ve become. I am so much more than these dusty boxes, empty soda bottles and coupons that expired in 1988. I am ready to rise from this rubble and start the next phase of my life. AND NOT KEEP ANOTHER DAMN THING, NO MATTER HOW SPECIAL THE EVENT. Good grief.



Filed under dating, home, lessons, moving, thoughts


Where—where—did I get all this stuff? How, on the green earth that is God’s, did I manage to accumulate what must be at least three people’s allotment of random crap?

I’m sitting here in my mom’s basement in Michigan, staring out over a sea of boxes, Rubbermaid totes and piles of … really, who am I kidding? Trash. In all seriousness, I could make a small mountain in the front yard and light it on fire—I’d never notice a single damn thing missing. Some of these items haven’t been unearthed since my first or second year of college, or earlier. And while it makes me laugh and cry to sift through the really memorable stuff (photos, journals, old notes and letters) the rest is just insane.

I have half-empty bottles of mouthwash and shampoo. Stolen Putt-Putt balls and signs. Spools of thread, doorknobs without keys, my honors cords from graduation. I have at least a dozen bibles, my Girl Scout mess kit, decorations from my freshman dorm room, brand-new granny panties.

I’m at this difficult crossroad. I’m taking a step down the road that is “the rest of my life,” but there are things here I don’t want to take right now. Maybe not ever. So, what do I do? I don’t have time in the next two days to organize a garage sale or sell things on Craigslist. I don’t even have space enough to sort through the remaining boxes full of randomness that I know haven’t been touched since 2002.

Almost everything that’s packed to go back south with me is practical. I don’t know how (or why) I have at least five Rubbermaid totes of kitchen-, cook- and tableware, but I do. And that, to me, seems necessary. There are a few knickknacks in the mix, but I’m keeping it to a minimum. The piles just keep growing though.

I was raised a packrat, but my internal desire is to be a minimalist. As I looked through all my life’s memorabilia tonight (still packed in the same crate from my high school graduation party) I smiled at the photos of familiar faces, reading my dark poetry, looking through old newspaper clippings. But I don’t want that stuff anymore. I do, but I don’t. I want it to exist, and to have an excuse to look through it every now and again, but I don’t want it stacked in my closet or wedged under my bed. I want my living space to be almost empty. I hate the look and feel of living in a cluttered space. And, honestly, I’m ready to let go of this stuff if someone forces me to do so. If my mom says, “Get this JUNK out of my basement now!” then I’ll be forced to light the match. But, until then, I cling. My memories aren’t really even happy ones. But it’s nice having any memories at all, recalling what life was like in the late ’80s, ’90s and early new millennium. That was my youth, as dull a period as it might’ve been.

I have a feeling that my next trip home will involve some burning. So, if come December, anyone wants to hang out in Chelsea for a night and burn my history in the front yard, you’re welcome to join me. I’m not going to have sufficient time this visit, but I look forward to that release sometime this year.

Back to another hour or so of this craziness, then I’m crashing for the night.

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Filed under home, moving


I have visited the new apartment every night this week and transferred a load o’ stuff each time. I fly to Michigan in the morning, so tonight’s haul was the last till next week or the following. Thank goodness! I know the worst of it lies ahead, but I need a break for the next day or two.

I did take some obligatory pre-stuff photos of the apartment! Here’s a preview. Click it to visit my Prefill Flickr set.

Click above to see full-size photos on Flickr

Click above to see full-size photos on Flickr

On a totally separate note, I am so thankful for the people in my life. Recent highlights: Mandy offered to spend her break from school visiting me and helping me move my shit to Tennessee. Brett and I went out for coffee twice this week as a break while working late. Matt and I played a rousing game of Scrabble via Facebook (I won’t rub in my win, though it was pretty amazing). I finally talked to Carla after at least a month of missing each other’s calls. Dennis and I had our first phone conversation post-breakup and it went really well—I’m looking forward to the next bit of news on his impending condo purchase! The rest of you rock too. Those are just the highlights.

I’m looking forward to the end of this moving process. Mostly because it marks the start of a new chapter, but also because I can settle the eff down for the first time in a few months. Even when I wasn’t actively packing boxes, I was searching for a place, pacing back and forth cursing my current living situation, stressing about what my future in Memphis would hold. Not every question has been answered, but I’m on a track somewhere now, right or not. Can’t wait to feel settled.

Look out, Michigan! I’ll be there tomorrow morning!


Filed under friends, fun, happiness, home, moving, photography

the wall begins to crumble

I feel as though my life has switched gears back to what it was… oh… last summer and fall? I am incredibly busy with work and have little time to do anything else. Unfortunately, this time the circumstances are slightly different. Instead of the just-getting-started-in-a-new-job phase, I’m in the bunch-of-people-were-let-go-so-I-took-on-someone-else’s-duties phase. I now do the work of approximately four people instead of just two.

My new tasks include working on DU’s state Web pages (there are 50 of them, obviously; each one has several sub-pages) and helping with customer service for member login problems, e-mail address changes, etc. I also need to come up with a plan for revamping the way we populate the state pages and work with the designated webmasters. I got so excited by the idea of having “my own project,” I completely forgot about twitter, which is mine already. I need to get back to updating that more often…

I’m not complaining about the increased workload though. I really like what I do, even if I do it twice as long now. =) I’ve been at work till 7 p.m.+ the past two nights, and I’m sure that will continue the rest of the week. Though I will be leaving early enough to take a few loads of my stuff to the new apartment.

I signed my lease today and got to see my unit. It has a bit of a hotel-room smell, so I’m looking forward to airing it out soon. I have a lovely view of the woods (just trees, with pretty much nothing else visible from the balcony) and I’m on the backside of the building, which means less foot traffic. I’m on the third floor by numbers, but the building is split level, so the climb is only a short set of steps and then one flight of stairs. The living-room ceiling is vaulted and there’s a nice fan in there. The living room and bedroom both have doors out to the balcony, which is nice, but the one in the bedroom is a sliding door that needs some “lubrication” (I don’t think you can really use that word for sliding doors, but I can’t think of an alternative). The only disappointing part is the kitchen, but I knew that’s how it would be: old appliances, a microwave that doesn’t rotate, small size overall, fluorescent lighting. I’m sure I’ll find some way to make it homier.

At this point, there’s only one major problem: the shower doesn’t work. When I turned on the bath tub, there was almost no water pressure and it wouldn’t switch to the shower. So that needs to be addressed before I can live there at all. Fortunately, they have 25 days to fix the issue before I need to be fully moved out of my current house, so God willing, that will be enough time. However, the whole mechanism was pretty darn dated, so I’m not sure how much work will be involved to make things right in there…

I walked over to the workout facility to scope out the evening traffic, but all I found was one girl on the treadmill. No one was using the racquetball court, aerobics room or laundry room in the same building. Score! Now, I know it’s Tuesday and summertime, so I have to keep that in mind, but still – that’s definitely a good sign. I’m fine with having a few people exercising at the same time I do, but I’d prefer not to have it be crowded – the room’s not really all that big.

I have three more days of work to get through and then I fly to Michigan on Saturday to visit family/friends, pack up all my furniture and other assorted crap and haul it all back down here with me the following Wednesday. I’m so glad to be going home – it feels like I’ve been gone forever. Five months, I suppose, so that’s a good stretch. I’m not as excited about the moving furniture part, or the sifting through assorted boxes of junk, but the end result will be a positive one, so it will be worth the effort.

Sorry for the complete lack of energy and personality in this update – I am pretty drained and tired of staring at the computer screen for the eleventh straight hour today. =\ Pictures of the new apartment to come!

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Filed under home, jobs, moving

blasts from the past

I laughed till I couldn’t breathe last night. While helping my mom clean out closet #3, we found some really great suits: bright colors, shoulder pads, matching belts – you name it. One had a sheath dress with it instead of a skirt or pants, so my sister decided to try it on. The set was a lavender color, but the dress itself didn’t look too bad. Then we insisted that she put on the jacket with it. At first, she resisted. But then she walked out wearing this lavender blazer that went well below her hips, probably upper thigh? She’s not tall like I am, so it looked absolutely ridiculous for her to be wearing such a long jacket. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Then we found some clothes that belonged to a previous ex of my mom’s. There was a flannel-lined denim work shirt, which my bro-in-law (BIL) did end up taking with him. But he also tried on some blue Dockers that were his size. Problem? PLEATED. He kept putting his hands in his pockets and punching them outward, emphasizing the pleats. My sister said, “Quit it – you’re grossing me out!” Again, couldn’t stop laughing. I was leaning against the wall and couldn’t breathe. It was amazing.

Prior to the return to the ’80s, we played some games with my niece while my BIL finished painting the window trim. We played this strange Dutch card game that was actually pretty fun for the adults, but my niece didn’t really enjoy it. And we didn’t make up too much ground with my joining her team either. =P Oops. Then we played Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Monopoly till we got sick of it. We had some delicious pizza and breadsticks from Classic in Dexter for dinner. Yum! I actually drank full-sugar Mountain Dew, which was crazy, since I so rarely drink non-diet sodas anymore. If I do, it consists of mixing Cherry Coke with Diet Coke, and that’s just ’cause I can’t resist the cherry. =P

Today, I’m meeting Mandy, Carla and Saul in Ann Arbor for lunch. Don’t know what the plan is from there, but should be good times. I’m feeling a little better today, so that makes me infinitely happy. Slight problem? I can’t find my library book. =\ Also, I’m starting to get the nerves up over driving back to Memphis. I think I spent so much time in the routine of going to the gym, helping my mom, seeing people, relaxing and obsessively checking my work e-mail that I forgot to do much of what I was planning to do for myself while home. I still have to gather everything I need to bring back, as well as go through my clothes looking for donations if I have time. Then drive. And drive. And driiiiiiiive. I’m looking forward to getting back to work. Not so much to getting back to my living situation. I have houses to browse now, though, so that’ll be an interesting addition to the next few weeks. Also, speed-dating make-up, potential weekend excursion to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, maybe grabbing dinner or seeing a movie with two different OKCupid guys and getting back to the gym down there. Woo! All right, time to shower. Happy New Year, kids!

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Filed under dating, fun, home, plans, recap

pioneers, head colds, ’80s garb & mortgages

The ridiculously high winds very early yesterday morning knocked out our power for the entirety of Sunday. As a result, my mom and I relocated to my brother & SIL’s house to avoid freezing solid in ours. Upside: An entire afternoon of TBS movies & a “CSI” marathon on Spike. Downside: Having to share a double bed with my mom. Ugh! I do not like sharing beds, especially anything smaller than a queen, especially with anything larger than a dog. =P I like my space, what can I say? I awoke this morning with about 2 hours of sleep under my belt. It didn’t help that my stuffy nose forced increased mouth-breathing, which resulted in intensified throat pain. Anyway, the other upside was getting to share coffee and toaster waffles with my bro & SIL this morning before heading back to our reheated home.

This afternoon, I helped my mom go through one of her FOUR closets packed full of no-longer-worn suits with shoulder pads, matching shirt-and-short sets of bold patterns, vests with Looney Tunes characters, oversized sweatshirts and denim overall shorts… Wow. I did walk away with some new pajama pants to replace the 2Xers, a couple pairs of sweatpants, a vintage flannel shirt my mom sewed that matched ones she made for my siblings and dad (how cool, right??) and this ridiculous purple satin top that’s supposed to be worn under a suit jacket. I’m determined to wear that last one as a regular shirt to go out in. It makes me laugh. I should take a picture. Something hot for my online dating profile… =P

Speaking of, I have my makeup speed-dating session in mid-January. Hopefully I won’t forget about it… I also have a potential church-singles-group weekend roadtrip to Gatlinburg. A couple things to look forward to in the new year!

Tomorrow I’m hoping to feel healthy enough to get back to the gym and then help my mom tote her four boxes and six bags of clothing donations to Salvation Army. Have to try to get those vessels back so we can tackle the other three closets and my Rubbermaid containers in the basement… I feel nervous about casting off clothing that’s borderline (I have to assume it is, since I’ve gone through it for donations at least once already in the relatively recent past), but I have to hope I won’t regain the weight or the inches. I have to motivate myself not to by leaving myself no ugly, frumpy options to hide unsightly bulges. And reward myself with the occasional over-the-top Eddie Bauer and Payless spree. =)

My mom went to the library today and picked up a few home-buying books for me. So far, I’m finding Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home to be the most interesting. It came with a CD-rom with some forms and checklists, but I haven’t gotten into those too much yet. Still browsing online for some potential places to check out when I’m back in Memphis. I’m definitely not ready to buy yet – need to save at least another $5k first, I think – but I do want to see what’s out there and try to figure out what the most important things are for me. Is location paramount? Safety? Size? Neighborhood? Proximity to stuff? Commute to work (route or distance)? Eh? EH?? Meh. I still don’t know. I’d say location tends to rank highest when I’m browsing. I’ve been using oodle of late, specifically the “map” option. The closer to the office, the better. Not only because it’s most convenient, but also because that implies increased safety, quality of neighbors, etc. I know I’ll never score anything that’s totally secure or perfect, but it feels better to aim high. Especially if I’m mulling over a $100k purchase.

All right, it’s time to crash. Happy Dec. 29th, all! =)

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Filed under books, dating, fun, health, home, moving, plans, recap, shopping, thoughts