Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Procrastination is my Friend

So I have officially fallen off the wagon- if you will- when it comes to completing two tasks I started a while back. Of course, this means I must start over. I was exercising for a while in regards to 22. Start and Continue an Exercise Regimen For at Least 3 Months. You'll find that it is extremely hard-or down right impossible to exercise when your house is in the state ours is at the present moment. We are half-packed for the cross country move. What isn't packed is bare necessities for the next 29 days and furniture and what-nots that are listed on craigslist. I have a rather large case of OCD- not to be confused with the larger case of ADD that owns me. So it has been extremely hard for me to just let it go and live in this present state. Boxes strewn about, bags upon bags of crap for the Amvets and mismatching furniture pieces everywhere. I think that is what bothers me most. Regardless, I have a grip on my crazy-cleanliness for the moment.

For me, exercising has not been an option. I am still doing WW which is going strong. I think it has been a month and a half now. 10 pounds and counting. I still cannot get over how much longer it is taking to lose the weight as opposed to when I was 18 and again at 22. Scary really.

I have also completely stopped #2 Take A Photograph Everyday For a Year. I thought this task would prove to be easier than it has been. I found that I completely forget to take photos or I rack my brain for something, anything to take a photo of. I realize in years past my camera was permanently affixed to my hand- yet now, in Arizona, I have nothing to photograph.

I have also been very bad at keeping up with this blog, because, well let's face it- I haven't been keeping up with the list. I made the executive decision to wait to take on any more challenges from the list until we complete the move.

I do have a plan. There is a YMCA not even half a block from the new apartment. I plan on checking into that. It used to be very cheap, perhaps it still is. I also know one of the joys of Chicago is getting used to walking 5 miles to a destination and that being considered only a short voyage. I am actually looking forward to that. Arizona summers do not lend well to walking anywhere. Even from your parking spot to the store you have good intentions of getting into before your sweat glands accompanied by 110 degree heat make you look like you just got hit by a torrential rain storm.

The photographs? Well, as I have stated MANY times before- we lead a very boring life out here. Living in Buckeye doesn't help much, but add that to the fact that we have been trying to save money for the last year and a half and- well- that equals sitting on your couch every evening watching reruns of CSI and Law and Order. Or, in our finer moments, laying on the floor in the office watching the Heroes seasons on Netflix. I know you are jealous- but you can't all be as cool as me. Regardless, I know things will be different once we get back to Chicago, and the photograph thing will be a different task in and of itself.

What I will be focusing on till the move is just getting out of this place in a sane fashion, and finding a job before the move out there. Work has been a nightmare, simply because finding someone to fill my position in not an easy task. Training them is going to be a whole other story in and of itself. The longer it takes to hire someone, the less time I have to prepare them. Plus, our 6 month recruitment plan is due Monday and they've once again changed the targeted demographic of recruitment. I've been doing this for 7 odd years now and let me tell you, targeting African American, Native American and Hispanic families for foster care is difficult on its own. Throw in the fact that the State will no longer reimburse us for print or media advertising and I am lost. I am not bilingual and I am not sure where the Native Americans hang out- so this recruitment plan has been somewhat of a challenge. On top of all this, the stress of moving is monumental. The waiting to move even though we are emotionally ready to just leave this instant is killing us. I've moved my fair share- 10 times in the last 6-7 years- but never cross country with this much stuff. Hell, my move out here I just threw necessities into the back of the Focus because, well I never planned on staying here as long as I did.

Anyway, I shall continue to bore you with the details of the impending move and such. The list will have to wait till we are settled back in Chicago. On another note- we decided to purchase random stuff from our favorite vintage/retro stores before the move, simply because it is so much cheaper out here than in Chicago. We found some phenomenally cheap chairs for our dining room set. We have painted most of them and re-upholstered all of them. I am quite proud of our creativity. I will leave you with those.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

27. Find a Signature Scent

I am not sure why, but this is something I have struggled with all my life. You know how certain people will enter a room ( without being seen) and you can take a whiff of the air and go "Sam's here!" For Sam's sake I hope the whiff of air isn't something completely repugnant- and for the sake of this blog we will say it isn't. Well, I have always wanted to have a perfume that when other smelled it- no matter where they were- they would say "It smells like Erica!"

I've dabbled in other perfumes before. There were the days of my youth. The days that can be referred to as Malibu Musk, Electric Youth, Sunflowers, and Excalamation! I did the ever popular Bath and Body works route for quite some time. Plumeria was my fragrance of choice, then they discontinued it. I had actually accomplished this feat too! When Plumeria was discontinued, I had about 10 different people call me up and say "I was at this Bath and Body Works the other day (in some unknown location) and they had Plumeria- so I bought you 3 bottles!" They were so proud of themselves. And me, well of course I was proud of myself- I had a fragrance people affiliated with ME! Of course, Plumeria soon filtered its way out and I had to move on.

Then came the days of Issey Miyake- which was far too expensive for my college budget. I also spent some time hanging with Cool Waters. The last fragrance I rendezvoused with before my signature-signature scent was Dolly Girl by Anna Sui. It is still quite lovely- but it just didn't hold that "It smells like ME!" quality.

I will preface the next part of this blog by stating that my signature-signature scent shall remain nameless. I am far too tired of replacing scents because all of the world decided they wanted to smell exactly like every other woman on the planet. No, I instead will keep this signature-signature scent with me to my grave- or at least till enough people figure it out on their own and start wearing it.

I read about the signature-signature scent in a magazine. I had heard of the scent designer (if that is what they are called) and he/she is a wonderfully humane person. So I made it a point to try and acquire the scent of this scent in my nostrils at some point. It wasn't till I moved to Chicago that I was able to acquire scents of this caliber at everyday places. Back home in Indiana you are frequented with crap like "If you love Tommy you'll LOVE DONNY!"

I stumbled upon this scent one day while I was visiting Water Tower Place. I was so delighted that I would actually get to smell it. But my excitement was mixed with fear- perhaps it would smell like old women's feet or White Diamonds (UGH!) Instead, it was wonderfully brilliant- and I purchased my first bottle. It has been about 5 years now that I have been exclusive with this scent. I have taken to purchasing it on EBay as of late because it is so expensive.

You may wonder how I KNEW in my heart of hearts it was the signature-signature scent. I will share a very brief version of that significant moment in time. An ex-boyfriend of mine, Patrick, called me up one day from Colorado. I answered my phone and this is what ensued:
Me: "Hello?"

You see, it was very clear to me at that point. My signature-signature scent had been found. It was recognized all the way in Colorado- many states away from Illinois. The fact that Patrick was willing to punch an innocent lady inside the Best Buy in order to defend my honor of the signature-signature scent was the key.

I am constantly reminded that it is THE be all end all of signature-signature scents. Just today our CFO at work came to my office and said- "I always know if you are here before me because I can smell your perfume in the elevator" YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY signature-signature scent!

For the record- if it has ever seemed that I am making up a name of some random perfume when you ask me what I am wearing- I probably was. And if I ever hid things from you in my medicine cabinet- not to fret. It was just the signature-signature scent.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

16. Live in a Big City and 17 Live Alone

#16 & 17 on the list go hand in hand- cuz I did both together. Of course, my first experience of living alone was not living in the big city. It was the little apartment above the Town Theatre on Kennedy Avenue in Highland. As with all my apartments, I have very fond memories of that place. It was my first time alone, without a roommate. Anyone can look back to their first apartment all alone and smile. Simply because you probably never knew that solidarity like that could be so amazing. All your own stuff- you can decorate as you choose, clean when you want, and not deal with all the drama-roomatey stuff you would otherwise.

I don't remember what possessed me to rent that place. It was a dump when I saw it the first time. The only thing I saw was the red living room walls and the shabby wood floors and I just fell in love. Looking back now, that apartment was such a 'Chicago' style apartment- I guess I should have known then I was destined to be a city-mouse (as my cousin Suzanne refers to me) Not everyone was so fond of that place- in fact my mom cried the first time she saw it. I remember the day before I moved in I worked. I came back to find my mother had been there all day cleaning- and the place was still dirty. It took us about a week to get it where it should be. The place had its flaws. There was one other apartment up there- inhabited by the woman who played Owen's mom in the movie Throw Momma From the Train, if that isn't bad enough she would always wait till she heard me come up the steps when I got home then come out and ask me to take out her garbage and other random old people things. The walls were paper thin, whoever built that place never put insulation in because in the winter I slept with hats, mittens and scarves on my body and still woke up with freezing cold cheeks and nostrils, the bathroom was old and in desperate need of a remodeling, and the wood floors I adored upon move-in turned out to have large nails sticking up every two inches- nails that tore up every pair of socks I owned.

These aren't the parts I remember though. I remember the Christmas party I had where we crammed that little place full of friends and food. I remember sneaking down to the street during intermission at the Town Theatre and stealing cakes and baked goods while pretending we were a part of the audience- because we were broke. I remember when Andy and I brought Lola home- and all the puppy training there after that went along with her existence. I remember experimenting out of every cookbook I owned- because this was my apartment and I could do what I wanted. I remember coming home from work to find Andy, Cosmo and Adam playing video games. But one of my favorite memories was when my sisters came out right before Thanksgiving. We decided to go buy a tree and ornaments and decorate and have our own Christmas. To this day whenever I decorate my tree with the ridiculous ornaments we picked out that day- I think of them and how much fun that was- and how I woke up the next morning in mid-November to Kayla squealing "Look we made it snow cuz we decorated for Christmas!"

That apartment was fun- yet I still hadn't really learned what it was truly like to live "alone." I was a short 5 minute drive to Mom's- and I went there a lot- to grocery shop from her cabinets, to do my laundry, and to "borrow" money to pay my bills. It wasn't until I made the decision a year later to move to Chicago, that I truly learned what it was like to live "alone."

Andy and I were dating- but it was at that stage where we both knew the relationship was bad and we were clinging to something that was familiar and comforting just out of not knowing anything else. We had decided to move to Chicago together- but put the lease solely in my name- you know to be "smart" about the decision. He would still pay rent- but in case anything should happen we weren't stuck. I had graduated from college a year and a half prior to this, and finally had my very first job downtown. I had made some amazing friends at this new job and they took me under their city wings and helped me find a place. It wasn't till after I signed the lease (that night actually) that Andy informed me he didn't want to move in with me after all. The relationship ended very soon after and I had a month till I moved into this apartment I had picked out for the both of us to share our life with.

In true Erica fashion- instead of grieving the relationship- I threw every emotion I had that month into moving and purchasing items that were necessary for my new place. So naturally, once I moved in and got past those initial first weeks of exploring the city, going out with my new friends and decorating my new apartment- I woke up to find myself in this big scary city-all alone and utterly broke. I was scared, depressed, and just starting to go through all the emotions of the breakup from this guy I had been dating for the last three years. It was a lot to handle- and I don't know that I did so in a healthy fashion. That apartment was my haven- this tiny, TINY garden apartment unit in Lakeview. It became the place where I sat on my couch all weekend with Lola- only leaving the place to take her outside. For a very long period of time I drove home to Indiana every weekend to spend time with my friends out there rather than attempt to make new ones in Chicago. Which is really insane if you think about it.

The funny thing about that apartment is I don't have a lot of good memories of it. Most of them are of me sitting with Lola drinking wine till 3am crying on the couch. Pathetic as it may be- those are most of my memories. The rest of them are of the shitty jobs I had that year- yes jobs plural as in three. The only good memories I have are of my mom coming to visit and exploring Chicago together. We had a lot of fun when she came out. Although most of the actual memories I have of this apartment were not my finest- I still look back on that apartment and smile. I learned a lot that year and went through some crazy rough shit. It also helps to know that most girls from small towns who move to big cities go through the same thing- and don't always come out as well as I did.

My second apartment in the city was the one I refer to as "the roach motel." Only 2 weeks after moving in did I find that it was infested with roaches. I only lived there a month before I returned home to Indiana- and then only stayed in Indiana for a month before finding my third apartment. The one I wrote about in previous posts- the apartment that saved Chicago for me. That apartment gives me only happy memories- times I miss so very much.

I got to thinking about all the memories I have attached to these places I've lived. I realized that most of the memories I have aren't of the actual places I lived in- more like memories of the state of mind I was in at the time. For whatever reason, I relate those emotional times to wherever I lived. It wasn't until Steve and I started researching places to live in Chicago that I realized how much I miss that city. I miss the neighborhoods and of course all the memories I have since attached to them. But, Steve said something when we were looking that made me smile- he said (frustrated I might add) "I don't know the city like you do- you know where everything is- so you pick the neighborhood." I am not sure why that made me smile. Perhaps because I conquered all the shit I never thought I would out there. Perhaps it is because in hindsight- Chicago helped me in ways I never thought possible. Chicago taught me the hard way- how to fix my problems on my own. And sometimes the hard way is the best way to learn. I wouldn't change anything about my years that I lived alone or the ones spent alone in a big city. I think both were very huge accomplishments for me.

Funny enough- I kept in contact with my landlord at that first brownstone. When Steve and I were looking for apartments to no avail- I said eff it and picked up the phone and called him. Turns out the first floor unit is available starting September 15th- and we're moving in on the 27th. So I guess you could say I've come full circle- back to my first experience in Chicago. I am so excited to go back to that neighborhood, for Steve to experience Chicago, and to be able to have a second chance with that apartment. Well, I guess not the same unit- but the building itself :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

26. Learn Which Friends I Cannot Trust- And Do Not Take It Personally

This lesson was quite hard for me to learn. Being that I was engaged at a very young age, to a guy who was not good for me, I lost quite a few friends. Not for lack of my friends being supportive, but because I was too young to value my friends, and far too young to understand the importance of a balance between my relationship and my friends. I do not regret that part of my life as it taught me a lot about the person I was and the person I needed to be. I have since learned to be the girl who has always put my friends and family first in her life. During the time of my decision to be single for a year, I was able to make them a top priority. A lesson worth its weight in gold. Without the distractions of building a relationship- healthy or otherwise- I was able to not only strengthen a lot of my friendships, but build new ones as well. One thing I was not aware of was where I stood with them.

You see, one of the greatest things about this life we lead is that we are all here- yet very rarely are we all in the same place mentally. I realize this doesn't sound so great- but it allows us to learn from others, allows us to teach others through our own mistakes. I was in a place at that time in my life where I knew who the most important people in my life were. Although I put them first in my life and in doing so was given the ability to gain so much life from them and knowledge about who I wanted to ultimately be- they weren't necessarily in that same place with me. It wasn't always wonderful- especially to see some of my closest friends making the same mistake I made so many years ago. What made it great, is I was able to learn which of those friends I could truly trust with all my heart and soul. Every one of them had other things in their lives- things I cannot humanly assume to understand or feel. Yet, the few who valued my friendship enough to be there for me through the toughest times are the ones I know I could call at any hour of the day and they'd be there for me in any way possible.

I like to think that all of my close friends KNOW they can count on me to help them out- whether it be lending an ear to vent or driving any distance to hold their hand through a rough patch. I also know who I can count on to do the same for me. Funny enough, I always thought I could identify these people. It wasn't till I moved cross country that I realized who they really were. I can count on one hand the friends I called once I moved out here and went through the tough shit. The funny part? They weren't always the people I thought I would run to. There are 6 girls specifically that I have ran to throughout this Arizona part of my life. 6 girls who I doubt know how much I value their friendships. They listened to me vent, cry, rant, rave- whatever I needed. No questions asked. The oddest part of all of it is I think this move cross country has made us closer. Closer than we were when we lived not 10 minutes from each other. Although I haven't seen them in almost a year and a half- they are the first people I call-the first people I want to share aspects of my life with. I know in my bones that I can trust them and count on them no matter what.

Another amazing lesson from Arizona, is that you can know someone almost your entire life- and not speak to them for 10 years for whatever reason- then pick up right where you left off. People can surprise you. Another girl, who I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life- no matter the distance between us- has surprised me more than others. Selflessly offering me a place to live when I needed out of Indiana more than words could express. Not questioning my motives, not judging me- but rather praising me for being as courageous as I was. Ignoring the 10 plus years we had grown and made lives completely separate of one another. I love her dearly and will miss her more than I can express when I leave this place.

I don't know if this is something every girl goes through or if it is just my life. Throughout the last 10 years, I have always had more guy friends than girls. I always found I got along better with them- less drama etc. In the last year have come to value my girl friends more than life itself. For the first time in what seems like forever, I have these amazing women who support me, understand me, and are proud of me- no matter what. It's an amazing feeling.

Whether we've grown up together and seen each other change in ways unimaginable, whether we've just met within the last few years, or whether we have lost touch and been able to reconnect- they have taught me so very much. I don't know that I could ever repay them for everything they have done for me. I would like to think that they hold me in the same respect, that I have done for them what they have for me- but I always look to one of my favorite quotes to remind me that part isn't so important. "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same"

I truly believe everything happens for a reason, that we all have a specific plan laid out for us. I used to take it personally when I discovered that perhaps I didn't weigh in on people's scales the way they did mine. Then I realized that it was okay. Each and every person in my life has been brought there for some reason or another. I am sure you can all look back and pinpoint a friendship you no longer hold dear, that helped you through a very difficult time in your life. When that difficult time set sail- so did that friendship. Perhaps it happened gradually- but it happened regardless. And you know in the bottom of your heart even if you did reconnect it wouldn't be the same- simply because you don't have that one thing in common anymore. Regardless of that- you still hold fond memories of them- those are the footprints on your heart. No matter how quickly they left, they made a huge difference in your life.

I guess the most important part of this lesson is to not take it personally- as hard as that may be. Another thing I never counted on was seeing the friendship from the other side. When I started calling people to tell them we were moving back there was one thing I never counted on- the response I got from all my friends- even the ones I sadly took for granted. It is very humbling and very gratifying to hear the excitement in their voices and relive the memories in your head of those friendships. Even better is knowing how lucky you are to be able to have them again. Like a second chance to do it all over again- this time realizing how effing important each and every one of them is.

Before I ramble on for another 20 paragraphs- I just have to say- KT, Tiff, Stef, Mary, Jenny- and everyone else who has touched my life so hugely- thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I love you to death and cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to see you all again and pick up where we left off. And Joanna- thank you for allowing me to start over and to find the Erica that I lost.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Take Two- 30. Define Somewhere and Make it Home

The last two weeks have been extremely eye opening for me- to say the least. The tornadoes at home were part of it. Being this far away from family when crap like that happens is never fun. Unfortunately, at this stage in my life I've seen enough tragedy to know that early morning and late night phone calls are never good. Ever. So, the 6am text message from a dear friend telling me what had transpired a block away from my mom- the house I grew up in- was scary. Luckily, she was okay. The house flooded, the tree in the backyard fell, and she was without power for 24 hours- but luckily mom and Lola were unharmed. I've been having a lot of issues with missing my friends and family lately. I haven't been home in a year and 3 months and I am stuck here. Plane tickets are too expensive to go home for the holidays, which means another Thanksgiving and Christmas alone in this big house- just Steve and I. Plus my class reunion is this November, the Saturday after Thanksgiving (EXCELLENT planning really) and we cannot afford to come home for that either. I suppose I could sell an organ or an ovary to foot the bill, but in hindsight I realized that was not an option either. When my mom called today to let me know that my uncle passed away- that was the last straw. Someone, somewhere, is sending me signs- huge signs that I can no longer ignore.

When Steve and I discussed moving, we knew we wanted to be somewhere within driving distance of home. Now with the advent of this foreclosure crap, there just isn't any way we can save up that amount of money to move anywhere cross country. Anywhere but home that is. You see, moving back home would be relatively cheap- and since I already am extremely familiar with Chicago, finding an apartment online will be no problem.

I love the idea of moving to Memphis, but I can't bring myself to do it so hastily. I did that when I moved to Phoenix. I relied on other people's opinions of a place I did not know- and although they had the best intentions- this place just is not me and does not -nor will it ever -make me happy. Since Steve and I would rather poke our eyeballs out with pitchforks than move to another apartment in Arizona- throwing almost $3000 out the window in doing so (security deposit, movers for a 4 bedroom, 2 living room house, and a pet deposit) we finally decided that we will be moving back to Chicago.

I don't know how I feel about this. I have mixed feelings about Chicago in general. I have some of the best memories from that city- but they go along with some of the worst memories- being broke and not knowing how to pay my bills, being forever lonely in that huge cavernous place- etc. I know the money issue isn't going to be like it was. We have 2 incomes, which makes a huge difference. It is also just the thought of moving back "there" in general. I don't know that I am ready to go back there. All I know is that my family and friends are more important to me than anything in the world, and being this far away and feeling this helpless absolutely sucks.

I started sending out resumes today and am PRAYING that someone- any of them- will call me back. Another feeling associated with Chicago is the "I'm over-qualified or under-qualified for everything that is available" which is what I went through ever so many times out there. I love my job now. I've never loved a job before. I realize that my job is the only thing holding me here in Arizona. I love what I do. I love that I am helping people. I love hearing the stories of why people want to foster. I love the people I work with. It just sucks. Truthfully- I think I am more terrified of moving back to Chicago then I was making the move out here to Phoenix. I am excited to be near my friends and family- sure that's a given. There are so many other variables though. It's just kind of overwhelming right now. Completely overwhelming. So I guess Chicago is getting a second chance- a "Take two" if you will. Perhaps I can finally make peace with the windy city and make it home.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

30. Define Somewhere and Make it Home

I mentioned in my last blog how crazy things have been. Crazy is an understatement. Although I cannot deny that moving to Phoenix was one of the best decisions I have ever made, I am just not happy here. At the time that I moved out here, I just needed change. Phoenix offered me that before any other place- and at the time I was not the girl who thought out things before I leapt into them. Phoenix is far from what I had ever imagined it would be. I had this idea that downtown Phoenix was going to be like second rate Chicago. No. It is more like a really ghetto version of downtown Indianapolis- but worse. No one lives in downtown Phoenix, they just work here- or run meth labs out of their shacks. It's dusty, dirty, almost always smoggy, and completely overcrowded. Overcrowded is an understatement. It is not uncommon to see horrific accidents 2-3 times within your 45 minute commute, and insurance is outrageous due to all the illegal immigrant drivers. People here have no clue how to drive- merging is an obsolete concept for Phoenixians.

There is absolutely NO culture here- unless you count the Indian reservations and millions of illegal immigrants as culture. I am talking culture in the way of live bands, theatre, kitschy restaurants and bars- hell I'd even settle for ONE family owned bar or restaurant. Not out here, everything is chain restaurants. The food sucks. I realize how much I took Chicago and Northwest Indiana food for granted now. 95% of the time when you went out to eat back home it was phenomenal- out here 95% of the time it is beyond heinous- and I really am not exaggerating. Sure, you can go to Scottsdale (Snottsdale) and find some type of second rate club with all the wanna-be L.A. folks running around- but it ain't my cup of tea. Even those types of clubs in Chicago contained more down to earth people. Some people say "what about Tempe?" Well, I am 28 years old now, and running around with all the ASU 18-24 year old crowd is way beyond me as well. I feel ancient when in their vicinity- they truly are a different breed in and of themselves.

We also spent about 7 months attempting to purchase a house in this HORRID market. Regardless of the market- the houses out here are just- well - ick. Your average Arizona residential block goes a little something like this- cactus, rock, dirt, cactus, white stucco house, brown stucco house, tan stucco house, cactus, dead grass, dirt, cactus, someone's car parked on the dead grass in their front lawn, cactus, more stucco house, cactus, dirt. Every house looks the same. Before moving out here I never knew people could find so much beauty in a garage that they would make it the centerpiece of every architectural house design. There is no character, and people out here don't value that- or even know what that means. This state has this idea that "Oh it's 10 years old- tear it down and build a strip mall."

Even bigger than all of these issues is the fact that I have lived here for a year and 3 months and have yet to make a single friend. Not one. Steve and I are two of the most outgoing people you could ever encounter, yet we can't make friends?! Yes, it is true. What boggles my mind is when I lived in Chicago I made some of my life long friends at random bars just by striking up conversation. You strike up conversation with a random out here and they look at you as though you have 5 heads and spaghetti for arms.

My friends and family have always been the number one priority in my life, and not having anyone really affects me more than I had ever assumed it could. My mom has visited twice, and a couple other friends have been out here, but the bottom line is with gas prices and the economy- it's too damn expensive to fly out here or vice-versa. The only friend we have out here is Joanna, and really without her to keep us grounded, I think we'd go insane. Sure, we have each other, and we are beyond happy with that- but when you don't have friends on top of all the other issues I listed above, you find our life to be a little lacking. Okay- a lot lacking.

I've been depressed for a couple months now. We've been discussing options on what we can do, although we hate it here- Indiana and Chicago are non-options. We know we don't have any desire to live in those areas at this point in our lives- if ever again. We've been researching cities left and right. It's been difficult. We know we want to be somewhere within driving distance of home so we can go over weekends if we'd like. We also know that a city deep in culture is a definite need. Steve would like to be somewhere warm with very mild winters. We finally decided on Memphis. I've been there 3 times, him once. I loved it every time. It encompasses so much of me and my personality and the things I love to do. The people there have always been overly friendly- and we want to live in a not-so-big-city. That is Downtown Memphis in a nutshell. Beale Street, Sun Studios, Graceland, so many more places I could go on and on about. Memphis just feels right- and believe me- we've sat in front of a U.S. map for nights on end contemplating and researching places we'd be open to moving to.

Now, we had originally decided we would move a year from now. It would give us time to save up the enormous amount of money to move all our accumulated crap cross country, plus the security deposit for a loft Downtown, plus extra cash till I can find a job out there. Steve just started a new job working from home, after a year's time as a tenured sales rep he would be able to move anywhere and do business from home. It all made sense and we FINALLY had a plan.

Cue last Thursday. We received an ominous letter in the mail addressed to our landlord. Long story short- he owns not one, but 2 homes out here in Buckeye that he owes way more on than what they are both worth. Both homes are solely in his name, so his wife went and bought a property in Florida under her name and he will be joining her very shortly. Meaning, he is foreclosing on our property. That gives us VERY little time to make a decision on what we need to do. He stopped making payments on our property, and I have no idea what will happen next. I've heard horror stories of tenants coming home to find that the mortgage company has placed all their belongings outside and locked up the property- very very scary. We have two options- 1) use money in our savings to get movers and get a place in Phoenix- probably about $2,000 with a security deposit and movers- with the added bonus that we have NO desire to be here anymore or 2) save like gang busters and plan on moving to Memphis within the next three months.

We've been discussing this at length and have come to the conclusion that we cannot part with all that money to move to Phoenix. I cannot bring myself to do it- it's a lot of money for something I have no desire to do. I started sending out resumes to anywhere that is hiring in Memphis. We've been in contact with a real estate agent that specializes in renting lofts Downtown. We've also written out a budget to figure out where we need to be and how we are going to get there in this short amount of time. The biggest hurdle? Steve needs to approach his supervisor about taking his sales rep position (that he's had for only 2 1/2 months now) to Memphis. This is huge- if he cannot take his job, I do not know that we can make the move.

It sucks in so many ways- but mostly because this was a venture we wanted to be really excited about and prepared for. Unfortunately, it looks like we do not have that luxury. Regardless, I am trying to look on the bright side. I love Memphis, and I am so excited about being surrounded by life and culture. I am also equally excited to be within driving distance of home. An 8 hour drive will put us back in our home town whenever we want to visit our friends and family. People we miss more than life itself. And, hopefully, if we are very lucky- we will be defining Memphis as somewhere- and making it home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

10. Visit Vegas For a Weekend Like a Normal Person

It has been a while since I attributed anything to this blog. The past week has been a large abundance of hell rolled into a big old ball of crap. :) Good times. I'll leave it at that.

10. Visit Vegas For a Weekend Like a Normal Person- is the topic for today. I find it harder than I thought to write about this part of my life. Partly because I feel foolish for still feeling this way and partly because no matter how many years go by, it still hurts more than I could ever express in words.

My parents got divorced when I was only a year old, and my father and his side of the family moved to Vegas. I spent most of my summer vacations in Vegas and some holidays as well. Because of this fact, Vegas has always been different to me. Like a second home. When I drive down the strip it reminds me of things we did there when I was a child. My dad taking me to Circus Circus and winning a ridiculous amount of stuffed animals to fill my suitcase- stuffed animals I wish with every bone inside my body I still owned, trips with Gram, Aunt Mick and cousin Meg to The Mirage to have breakfast or lunch with Auntie Sherrie who worked there, watching the then kid-friendly pirate boat show at Treasure Island with cousin Matt perched atop Uncle Kev's shoulders, doing the roller coaster at New York New York, or Santa pictures with my sisters at the Excalibur. It is an entirely different city to me. Even more so because since my grandpa and dad passed away, it isn't the same.

I remember the first time my friend Ami took me to the boats in East Chicago. I was probably about 22-23. I had never been. It was overwhelming. I walked in and suddenly that sound- the dinging of the machines, the smell off cigarette smoke and money, the change hitting the slot machines. It made me sick to my stomach. I was caught off guard and it literally brought tears to my eyes and a pain in the bottom of my gut. Who would have ever thought THAT sensation would remind me so much of those two men? My grandpa passed away my senior year in high school, and my dad in August of 2000. I was never old enough to gamble when I visited, but in Vegas you do things in casinos regardless of your age. Hearing that noise made me think of getting off the plane and seeing my dad's smiling face waiting for me, the colors and the smells reminded me of holding his hand as he walked with me through any number of casinos to reach a restaurant or a show.

When I went to Vegas for my dad's funeral, my fiance at the time and I stayed at The Imperial Palace- a hotel that since I have been back pains me to look at, walk past, or be in the general vicinity of. I have since realized I will not ever be able to step foot in that place again. Not that that is a bad thing- if you've been there you know why. Skank-y! I remember very scattered bits and pieces of that time period I was there. I remember seeing my Aunt Mick and Uncle Kevin when I arrived- for all intense purposes they are my second mother and father and have been so wonderful to me. I remember seeing Kayla and Cecily- who had grown up so much in the 3-4 years I hadn't seen them. Walking through the house that my dad rented for him and my sisters- I had never seen that house before, and I can still remember how everything was placed inside, like I had lived there all my life. I remember parts of the wake more so than anything else. As long as I live, I will never ever shake the site of my then 8 and 10 year old sisters crying- nor can I ever shake the feeling I had when it was time to go. Leaving him there was not an option. I couldn't leave my dad in this room and just go. My fiance had to pry me away from my dad and carry me out.

That night we walked down the strip. It was the first time I had been to Vegas since The Bellagio was built. The light/water show came on and it was indescribable. Not because of the beauty, but because I felt like I was the only person there. Everything around me was silent besides the music and the fountain. The song the show happened to be choreographed to was one I had never heard before- but it was beautiful. "Con Te Partiro" by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. I had no idea what the song meant at the time- but it was gorgeous. For the first time in a week, I finally felt safe again. I have heard that song a couple times since then, and every time it brings tears to my eyes and the feelings from that evening of my father's funeral always immediately come rushing back to me.. Years later, I found out that the song translates to "time to say goodbye." Some may say that is ironic, I call it a sign. My father, for whatever reason, was watching over me at that moment. That was our goodbye. I don't care what any skeptic says. That's my moment and it won't ever be ruined.

I've been back to Vegas twice since his death. Once over Christmas, when I did not see the strip at all, and once this last Christmas with Steve. My sisters, Steve and I visited the place where my father and grandfather are buried next to each other. I needed that, I think my sisters did too. And, my father. I know he is looking down on us full of pride. This last time I was there, Steve and I stayed on the strip only one night- the rest of time with my family. I found it hard to believe how much it still to this day fills me with sadness. While Steve played poker, I visited The Bellagio again, with high hopes that my dad was with me again, that our song would play. Despite my hopes, it didn't play.

This brings me to #10 on my list. I think it is very clear why this is so important to me. I want to be able to visit Vegas, like a normal person, and not have all these feelings overwhelm me. I know it is okay to have some of them, but not in such an overabundance. I feel it is necessary for me to go there- spend time alone on the strip- and make up with some past demons I have there. Steve and I are going the weekend of August 29th- his birthday and he will play poker most of the trip I am sure. Which leaves me ample time to visit these places of the past and put some of it to rest and come to terms with the rest. I still catch myself in off times thinking- "I'm gonna see dad and grandpa" then it hits me like a lead balloon- that isn't possible. I want that gone. Or at least attempt it to go away.
It was 8 years yesterday- August 5th- and it still feels like yesterday.