Spilled Milk

I'm pretty sure I might be seven years old.  Who else X's their calendars?

I’m pretty sure I might be seven years old. Who else X’s their calendars?

Last night, I fell asleep as a typical thirty-one year old.  Pillow talk focused on our upcoming move.  We talked about how long we think closing on the condo will take, getting home owners insurance and crossing things off our mental to do list.  As we both settled in, I watched the ceiling fan, finding the whirring noise of the blades soothing.  But while my body was at rest, my mind wasn’t.  I couldn’t help but think about the days ahead.  There was still so much to do. 

The last four months have been anything but easy.  Everything from the apartment, to storage, to work has been throwing curve balls left and right.  As soon as I think we have gotten past the last bump in this latest journey of life, something else comes up. 

Our apartment experience has been a hot mess.  We didn’t have hot water for the first 39 days we lived there, and then, came the new roommates – mice. 

I don’t do well with mice.  While I could probably kill them with one stomp of my foot, I find myself yelping and running out of the room at the mere sight of one.  After a lot of nagging emails, our apartment company finally dropped off glue traps.  We placed them in the prime spots and waited. 

The next morning, I walked into the kitchen to see a mouse wiggling on a glue trap so violently that it was moving the trap.  My legs instantly turned to jelly, and I could feel the blood drain from my face.  A yelp escaped from my mouth as I ran out of the room.

Seconds later, I was hunched over, hands on my knees to calm myself, wondering if I woke Tom with the noise.  It was the final straw for me.  I. Could. Not. Wait. To. Move.

It took the seller a long time to agree on a close date.  When we finally agreed, the process was in speed mode.  We couldn’t wait any longer to schedule movers and to coordinate getting our stuff out of storage if we were going to be out of our apartment by June. 

When we sold the suburban house, we knew storage was a necessity.  I did a lot of research and decided that using PODS was the best.  While it was easy initially, it has been an utter nightmare since.  Their service is terrible, it’s a logistical nightmare and they grossly understated costs.  I was so angry that I wrote a scathing letter to the president of the company.  It got the attention I wanted, and they at least tried to make it right.

The long point I am trying to make is that moving is stressful.  So while last night I fell asleep a thirty-one year old dealing with adult things, this morning I woke up as a fourteen year old.  I straight up Benjamin Buttoned overnight.  That’s right.  I didn’t wake up to gray hair from the stresses of life.  Instead, I woke up with a ginormous, swollen, puffy red zit on my chin. 

I examined the zit on my chin, grimacing as I poked it with my fingers.  I couldn’t even remember the last time I had a zit.

Well shit.  What am I going to do with this thing?

I reacted just like a fourteen year old.  I huffed and puffed pointing it out Tom asking in a whiney voice if he could see it.  And just like I did when I was younger, I dug out concealer and created the best camouflage Almay can make.  It was barely visible when I was done but it didn’t matter.  I knew it was there.

As I sat in traffic this morning during my hour long commute, my mind reflected on life, writing mental stories.  Memories were being written in between the glances in the mirror to self-consciously check on Rudolph’s nose that had formed on my chin.  Yet, I found myself smiling despite this latest (literal) bump in life.  Maybe, I thought, just maybe things are finally starting to go my way – I would have been devastated if that zit was actually a gray hair. 

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This post was a bit like spilled milk today so to refill the glass, I will share with you my three highs for the day. 

Three Highs

  1. The Lumineers Pandora station has been spot on all day creating the perfect soundtrack to life.
  2. I had one of my favorite things for lunch – soup!
  3. We move in exactly one week!
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Growing Up

Growing upI lived my twenties as a free spirit.  I had a lot of fun.   After all, the only person I had to take care of was myself.  I was an independent, young adult with a lust for life.  I did what I wanted, and only I had to suffer the consequences or so I thought. 

Tom and I recently placed an offer on a condo in the city.  We first saw the condo in January.   It is a large, vintage unit with two floors.   From the moment I walked in the door, I was in awe.  The space was unlike anything I had ever seen.  I wandered into the kitchen seeing our future flash in front of my eyes.  I imagined myself standing at the sink making dinner, hearing the pitter patter of little feet running down the hallway and later in life standing in the same place hearing laughter of teenagers echoing from the basement.  I could smell Tom’s coffee brewing as he shouted to me from another room.  The condo was warm and inviting.  I knew in my heart it was the place we would raise our family.

After we left the building, Tom and I excitedly talked about everything we liked in the unit.  It needed work but the bones were good.   Plus, Tom needs a house with projects.  The unit had the original woodwork from the early 1900’s and quite frankly, we were never going to find another place that size in the neighborhood we were looking.  There was only one issue, it was slightly more than we wanted to pay.  

For the next three months, we looked at more places comparing it to “the one”.  We looked at it online every night to see if it was still available or if the price dropped.  We talked in length about what we would do to the place if it were ours and more importantly, did we need that much space?  We did everything we could to talk ourselves out of the place, even placing an offer on a different condo, but in every scenario, “the one” was staring back at us.  

After consulting two of our sisters on what we should do, we decided to make an aggressive offer.  After some negotiating, the condo was ours and thus begins the rest of the process.  The process of buying house is a lot of work, and there had been one piece I was dreading – the finance piece.  While I had gotten my act together in the past few years, I had made some mistakes as a free spirit.  And while it wasn’t a surprise to Tom (seriously, we have no secrets), I felt terrible.  The consequences of my actions weren’t just mine anymore, they were Tom’s too.  

I took an afternoon off from work so we could go to the bank.  I was a bucket of nerves the entire day.  

“I’m nervous.” I said grabbing Tom’s hand as we walked into the bank. 

“It’ll be fine.”

We sat in front of the broker going over every detail of our life.  Every rock was turned over and bumps in the road exposed.  I sat there face flushed.  In comparison to Tom, I had a long ways to go.  While he’s 29 going on 60, I’m 31 going on 28.  

“Elyse, don’t worry.  It’s not bad.”  The broker had gentle eyes and a kind smile.  I looked down in my lap and Tom squeezed my hand.  It was my worst nightmare, as she asked more and more questions. 

“I’ll be right back.”  She said walking off to get something.

“I’m sorry, Tom.”

“Don’t worry about it.  It’s not bad…just promise me you’ll continue to make good decisions going forward.”

“I promise.”  I bounced my feet as I waited.  My heart was beating ninety to nothing.  One of my biggest fears in life is letting Tom down. 

The broker came back with papers in her hand. 

“Congratulations.  You are approved”

My heart leaped out of my chest.  Buying a home had suddenly become a reality.  I didn’t have to hide behind my fear anymore.  I didn’t have to be skeptical that it wasn’t really going to happen.  I could relax and get excited.  We were going to buy a home…together.

Downsizing

Image Source: Wallstreet Journal

Image Source: Wallstreet Journal

It’s been almost three months since I sat down to write creatively. I think about it daily, writing stories in my head but lately, as is my usual excuse for everything – life got in the way. Seriously, I don’t have kids. It’s the only excuse I have.

I started this blog after moving to the suburbs with Tom being the only person I knew and vice versa. While the space was amazing, the rest of it was mundane and boring. Writing filled the time as I stared out the window wondering why our neighbors never spent time outside. From the moment, I moved in with Tom, we talked about moving back to the city. After all, he was commuting everyday into the city, and I missed the hustle and bustle immediately. So after a year of talking about it, we finally made it happen. We put our (technically it’s his) house on the market and crossed our fingers. We accepted an offer in six days and closed six weeks later! We were tremendously lucky except that we had no idea where we were going to live next.

We had already started looking for places to buy in the city but we still hadn’t found “the place”. Being in a time crunch, we weighed our options, took a break from house hunting to pack up the suburban house and find a temporary place in the city. Together, we put together a list of must haves for the temporary place, which in retrospect was an absolutely ridiculous list. It’s amazing how a year in single family home with a yard changes the perspective on apartment living. Among the requirements on the list was a short term lease, a place that allowed a dog, cheap rent, in the neighborhood we wanted to buy, had parking, an in unit washer and dryer, dishwasher, no elevator and non-radiant heat – oh and central air. The only one of those things I had when I lived in my last apartment was no lease.

“So what do you think?” I asked Tom as he read over the list.

“It looks good. Are you taking this one on?”

“Sure! I’m good at apartment hunting.” He wrinkled his and looked at me skeptically.

“Seriously, Elyse? I hope you don’t call your last apartment good apartment hunting. That place was gross and questionable.”

“Well, I loved it. It was the first place I could ever call my own. I promise, I’ll find something that meets our criteria.”

In the past, I walked around neighborhoods looking for “For Rent” signs on the doors of buildings. I would run up the steps immediately calling the number of places that interested me. It’s how I had found every apartment but this time was different. Craigslist has single handedly ruined apartment hunting. Continue reading

What is weird, anyways?

I wear my mini top hat every opportunity I get, which is a lot.

I wear my mini top hat every opportunity I get, which is a lot.

I remember the first time someone called me weird. I had always been considered weird because I didn’t talk like everyone else. My parents were Yankees, and ‘ain’t’ wasn’t a part of my vocabulary. But no one had ever said it to my face until high school. I would have been insulted no matter who told me, but because it came out of the mouth of my weirdest friend, it really hurt.

Annie was smart, funny and quirky. I never knew what would come out of her mouth, her driving made me want to pee myself in fear, her choice in boys was questionable and she was awkward. I liked her a lot but if she thought I was weird? Well, I was in trouble.

For me, being different in high school was not desirable. I wanted to fit in with the crowd, go by unnoticed and unscathed. And while I liked Annie, I thought her weirdness brought her down. I was naïve to the fact that being weird is a good thing.

This mustache, which is awesome by the way, was a 29th birthday present.

When I went to college, I left a lot behind – my friends, my family and my image. I was dropped off in a Midwestern town ten hours from my Southern roots. I knew no one. My accent was different again but in a good way. To them, I had a Southern accent. It was like everything in my life had flipped. I no longer had to play to the small town image I had – responsible and straight laced with a bit of a stick up my butt.

This is an array of my favorite hats.  The head dress was for a birthday, the balloon hat for Lollapalooza and the warrior hat for a race.

This is an array of my favorite hats. The head dress was for a birthday, the balloon hat for Lollapalooza and the warrior hat for a race.

I was relaxed in college. It was a fresh slate without any preconceived notions so I let my freak flag fly. I let it out occasionally in high school, but it was never flown for a long period of time. I hoisted the flag sometime my first semester of college and have never taken it down since. Today, I’m weirder than ever.

I was talking to my trainer yesterday, when she said, “I saw your New Year’s photos on Facebook. I love your mini top hat. It’s the same one from Halloween, right?”

This shirt was for a trip to Toronto to visit Lana.  Evelyn, Lana and I wore different kitten shirts for a day of site seeing at Niagara Falls and winery tours.  Classy.

This shirt was for a trip to Toronto to visit Lana. Evelyn, Lana and I wore different kitten shirts for a day of site seeing at Niagara Falls and winery tours. Classy.

My mini top hat is black and sparkly with a bow. In the middle of the bow is a skull and cross bones. I originally bought the hat for a friend’s bachelorette party but have since worn it every opportunity I get. It’s weird. Yet, most everything I do is weird.

I wore this for my 25th birthday.
I wore this for my 25th birthday.

For this post, I was originally going to show only a picture of my mini top hat but then I got the idea to look through some pictures for some other Elyse weirdness. After about ten minutes and a lot of photos, a pattern emerged – crazy hats. They are one of my favorite things. When I have on a hat, I am allowed to be silly, and it’s like a costume without the commitment. It’s a win, win.

I also found pictures of various wigs and some kitten attire. In every picture, I’m with a group of friends with smiles on our faces. We are having fun, laughing like hyenas and enjoying life with flair. If that’s weird, well, I’ll take it. Being weird is much better than being ordinary.

 

Apartment Tales: The Air Conditioner

Window Air ConditionerThe week I moved into The Apartment was stifling.  My apartment had two giant windows, one in each room.  My bedroom window was occupied with an air conditioner that was the size of an old tube tv from the fifties.  My kitchen window was met by the fire escape.

It was the first time I lived on a floor high enough to warrant a fire escape, and I frequently inspected it with curiosity.  There were only a few speckles of black paint that remained; the rest was covered in rust.  The metal had aged from the elements and looked fragile.  It was a long ways down so I knew if it came to a life or death situation, I would step out without hesitation but until then, the mere thought gave me anxiety. 

Even though I was skeptical the fire escape would remain intact if any weight was put on it, I was paranoid to open my window.  What if someone climbed up the escape to get me?  The thought ruined any possibility that I would open the window for air.  I couldn’t sleep knowing there was a potential entry way for intruders.  So the only option left was my bedroom window.

Just as I inspected the fire escape, I also stared frequently at the air conditioner from the Middle Ages.  As part of my lease, I was supposed to pay an additional $200 during the summer if I wanted to use an air conditioner.  I moved into the apartment in September so it didn’t make sense.  But I was suffocating in the stale, stench of the building.  Every breath was a fog of heavy air, dead skin, hair, the dying old and cigarettes.  I couldn’t let myself go that way.

I sat on the floor of my bedroom in nothing but panties and a tank top.  Sweat was dripping down my face – even my legs were sweating.  I didn’t know if the guy before me had paid the fee, and I was guilt ridden at the mere thought of using the air conditioner if my landlord didn’t have the money.  But I didn’t have a choice.  I was going to suffocate otherwise.

With the guilt defeated by my will to live, I flipped the switch.  A sudden whoosh of air blew dust in my face but it was cold air.  It felt so good.  I stood in front of the unit arms outstretched praising the electricity Gods.  But as fast as the cold air came, it left within seconds.

Shivers ran down my spine.  I blew the fuse.  My apartment was pitch black. 

I was on my hands and knees frantically trying to find pants.  I had no idea where the fuse box was.  If Patrick wasn’t going to show me the laundry room, he certainly wasn’t going to give me the privilege of knowing the location of the fuse box.  But I had to find it.  I couldn’t let him know I turned on the air conditioner.  Continue reading

Forgetting Pets

I have had fish for two years – the same fish.   I love these fish or at least I thought I did.  The other day as I was getting food for Sam, I was distracted by the sound of water running.  I turned around and jumped in surprise, which quickly turned to panic.  I forgot I had fish. 

It’s not the first time I have forgotten about a pet.  A few years ago, Lana asked me to catsit for her while she was on a business trip.  She had a rescue cat who hated everyone except me.  The cat loved to sit on my lap and lick me.  She had trained him to use the bathroom in the toilet so all I had to do was go to her place, flush the toilet and give him food twice a day.  She was going to be gone for five days. 

On the fourth day, I called my friend Grant.

“Hey Grant.  How’s it going?”

“Good, what’s up Elyse?  You sound weird.” 

He sensed my nerves as I stood outside my sister’s apartment for the first time in four days.  I shook head to toe terrified of the scene I was going to find when I opened the door.  I imagined the cat lying in his own urine emaciated with a single tear rolling down his face.  He would take one last look at me and whisper in meows, “you did this to me,” before taking his final breath.    

What would I do with his body?  What would I tell Lana?  I started to hyperventilate.    

“Ummm.   Uh.  You might think this is a weird question but can cats survive without eating for four days?”

“What?  What are you talking about?”  I started crying.

“Grant, I don’t want to go in alone.  I’m scared.  I murdered Lana’s cat.  I need you to come in with me.”

“Elyse, what did you do?” He started to laugh.  “You’re ridiculous.” 

“I’m catsitting.  Well…I forgot I was catsitting.  And now, I think he’s dead.  I feel so guilty.  Do you think he’s dead?”

Grant showed up at Lana’s apartment fifteen minutes later.  I was sitting on the stoop rocking back and forth like a crazy person.  I looked at him and gave him a weary smile. 

“Are you ready?” Continue reading

I’m back.

I had a dream about my blog last night.  I miss it.  It has been a few weeks since I have taken a moment to write.  I wish I had some great excuse like Sam peed on my computer but in reality, my absence is because life got in the way, particularly my job. 

When I started this blog, I was bored.  I had been in the same role at work for too long.  I loved my job but it was no longer mentally stimulating.  My life had turned into Groundhog Day.  All I thought about during my twenty-five minute commute was what I was going to write next.  I had mental lists of all of my favorite stories, reoccurring posts, which friend I was going to introduce next.  In my mind, I had laid my life out in a never ending story.  Every day was a new experience.  My stories were going to be new and old.  And they were endless. 

When I got to work, I wrote.  I mindlessly answered emails while keeping a draft open with my next post.  I sat in meetings day dreaming about my post, editing it in my mind.  I thought of ways I could make it better or better yet, how I would tell the story in person.  I read the words over and over; I read them out loud.  I spent my days perfecting every word, every sentence.  Tom teased me that Word Press had created a monster.  He was right.

I had not felt this rejuvenated in a long time.  It felt good to think again.

Not long after I started writing, the rumblings started at work.  Things were changing.  There were a lot of hallway conversations speculating what was coming.  Was it going to be good or bad?  Are we all going to make it through?   There was an uneasy feeling around the office.  But as things started to unfold, we realized the changes were going to be good.  For me?  It was really good.  All of my hard work had paid off and my complacency noticed – I was promoted.  And just like that, my focus shifted from my blog to work. 

I can’t stop thinking about work.  The bar has been raised.  I have to prove myself once again if I am ever going to get to the next level.  I want to be successful in my career.  But I also want to be successful in blogging.

So here I sit.  Tom is next to me watching Game of Thrones.  Sam is asleep on his dog bed.  My feet are up and the computer is on my lap.  The glow of the computer screen highlights my smile.  It’s exactly how it was a few weeks ago.  I’ve missed it.

I’m back.