If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.

~ Lewis Caroll

Friday, April 16, 2010

One Year Anniversary

Today my coworkers and managers took me out to a celebration lunch.

I've been at my current job for one year now! It's hard to believe that the time has gone by so quickly, but it also seems like ages ago when I was still in college living the easy life . . . going to class in my jammies, waiting tables to make enough money to go out on Thursday night, and enjoying every minute of it. Now it's been 7 years since college, and 10 since high school. Man, time passes before you know it.

I must say, though, that my one year anniversary may seem trivial, but as someone who has faced unemployment (albeit self-inflicted), one year at any job is an accomplishment these days. More importantly, my job no longer makes me want to take up drinking alone in the dark or jump across the border and escape all of my debt in the land of no-extradition. I am actually quite satisfied with my life. Finally! Things are definitely looking up in every direction.

I will be marrying my sweetie in August; I don't believe in soul mates or ever after, but I think we make a pretty good pair. Our faults balance out and we make each other laugh a lot, which is the most important thing.

I just purchased a home! Yay. Closing day is next Friday, so I have jumped that hurdle unscathed. It's another accomplishment I'm quite proud of.

We adopted a new puppy. She is our baby. Literally. I now know what parents of human babies go through, but I have the luxury of crate training.

I've discovered that I don't love teaching as much as I thought I would. I think I will try again another time, but for now it's an epiphony I can live with.

This one year anniversary marks for me a true "I'm an adult!" moment. For the first time in my life, I feel like an accomplished, competent, sympathetic, optimistic, nurturing woman. These traits are things that I believe you have to earn in life. So today I will celebrate adulthood, just 11 days before my 28th birthday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Blogging Beginner

Book blogging. I've been tossing the idea around. I'm sure there are hundreds of bloggers out there who write book reviews, raves, rants, etc. Yet, I've never read one. In order to take on this task, I suppose I should research what's available and what's needed in order to find my niche in the "specialty" blogging world. I think giving an honest opinion of the books I read would help me really remember what I read and actually allow me to "get something out of it," as the saying goes. Also, I would be pushed outside of my comfort zone. Don't get me wrong, I love all genres, but I tend to latch on to one for months or years on end. I've always wanted to re-read all those "classics" from my Master's courses that I plowed through in order to pass the class or pick up some good autobiographies from the likes of fascinating people or even poetry collections. If I take on this challenge, I will revamp my page and devote it strictly to book reviewing. Don't worry--I won't be uppity and snooty like some big-time reviews can be. I just want to read what is interesting, funny, enlightening, and (on occasion) challenging. Plus my Kindle will really get a workout!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One Step Closer

On Monday night we found out our offer was accepted! This is great news--our seller is paying closing, so we definitely made the best possible offer. Today we had our inspection which made me a bit nervous since we are buying a 1930 cottage. However, to my delight, the contractor did an excellent job in his restoration/renovation. There were just a few minor things that the inspector noted, but the seller is having them fixed ASAP. You gotta love early 20th century home construction--it's just built to last.

We discovered some neat original items to the house while we were checking out the "basement." They used to heat the home with coal, and down by the old brick coal burner (not sure of the proper name), is a set of instructions original to the home on how to use the coal furnace. The original staircase, well what's left of it, is also under the house. I'm excited to have these bits of history remain. Plus the seller provided us with before, during, and after pictures of his work, so we can always know what the original property looked like. So much of the original charm remains, but with kick-ass modern touches like ceiling speakers for our stereo, big closets, beautiful dark laminate hardwood floors, and stainless steel appliances.

I have to say, my dream home is almost a reality, and it's never felt so good to be this much in debt!
One more view! That's our electric fireplace. The top windows are super cute original (sealed now, just for show). Great floors with easy cleaning! Plus it's already wired for our T.V. to hang over that mantle.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Our house . . .

is in the middle of our street." Gotta love that song by Madness. Hopefully this will be our house very soon!
Today we extended our official offer and signed what could be our official contract. My realtor is confident that we are making the best possible offer, and the seller would be silly to not accept. I'm hoping that is definitely the case. If not, however, there are other fish in the sea. Unfortunately, our sea is pretty small.

I discovered that I despise subdivisions. Let me clarify, I despise all of the subdivisions in Nashville within my budget. They are junky, unkempt, and every house has at least five cars parked in the driveway or on the lawn at all times. Ugh, that is not what I want to look at every day.

My cute bungalow/cottage home, on the other hand, is supposed to be on a crowded street with lots of people. That's part of the charm of living in a historic neighborhood. I can deal with those who soon shall be my neighbors. I plan on baking a lot of cookies!

Hopefully, we will hear back from the seller today. I'll post about what happens next!

Monday, March 22, 2010

What Being a Grownup Feels Like

I finally feel like a true grownup. I am entering the world of home ownership, and it's scary as hell.

But it's also really satisfying.

I, with my own money and my own credit score, am filling out mortgage applications, taking a "first time home buyer" class, saving for an inspection, and have my very own real estate power team (I being the least powerful member). Because of all the preparation, I'm learning so much about how finance works. No wonder our country is in such a mess! This stuff isn't for the faint of heart or pocketbook. Yet, somehow, I am eligible to enter this world. And I think it rocks!

I know that I am on the verge of adulthood, because closet space and waterproofed foundations are more important than a "super cute" something or other. Although I do want something to be super cute. Who doesn't?

I'm in love with the Craftsman style bungalows and cottages. Nashville is full of remodeled older homes that have fabulous character and leave plenty of room for personalization. I'm not scared to paint or yank up carpet--bring on the DIY.

Tomorrow I'm going to start physically looking at and in the houses I've picked with my realtor. Hopefully one will call my name and say, "I'm your home! Please close on my before the end of April, so you will get your $8,000!" Or something like that.

I'll keep everyone abreast of my progress!

Monday, March 15, 2010

With the New Day Comes New Strength --Eleanor Roosevelt

I have to wonder why when things seem to go wrong, they go wrong in bulk. Personally, I have nothing to complain about, yet I manage to find some "life's not fair" moment every day as of late. It's just one of those life phases where I spend my time anticpating what is to come and being indifferent towards the present. It's the here and now that I'm annoyed with--work, teaching, renting, spending--it all gets to be too much sometimes. Then I turn into a big whiner and annoy everybody, including myself.

However, even though my problems are petty and few, I myst say that I take inspiration from my friends who, at times, carry insurmountable weight on their delicate shoulders.

Pregnancy ups and downs, new motherhood worries, stress over unknown futures, scary illnesses of loved ones, deteriorated friendships, newfound faith, etc.

All of these burdens are carried by a variety of my friends, my women friends. I have to say that as a gender, we are amazingly resilient. It's almost as though we are given no other option than to be strong so that those around us don't fall apart. Throughout history this has proven to be the case, but it takes witnessing it personally by those women we love to truly be inspired. These women, these friends, make me strive for happiness and satisfaction in my own life by remaining strong and faithful in theirs.

To all women out there dealing with the impossible--take faith in knowing that you are not alone. Even the smallest of problems is worthy of your time and worry. Sometimes those are the hardest to get through because we think they should be insignificant. Nothing that makes us stronger is insignificant--these small trials and tribulations are strength training for the soul.

When the shit hits the fan we have our umbrellas ready.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What I've Learned from Wedding Blogs

The number one thing I've learned about from subscribing to wedding blogs, is the importance of an "inspiration board." An inspiration board is a collage of photos--dresses, flowers, cakes, decorations, etc.--that illustrate how well a color scheme works. Thus, the inspiration board inspires brides to choose a color scheme, and possibly, other design decisions.

I have perused the blogs until I felt comfortable enough to create my very own board! Well, mine is actually an inspiration strip (it takes a lot more effort than one would think). I am quite pleased with the result, and I believe it conveys the color scheme quite effectively.

I've started to collect DIY projects and ideas. I found some great buys at TJ Maxx that were on clearance in the home decor department. I just wish it was closer to August, so I could start putting things together. I'm still trying to decide what to do about flowers! They are just too damn expensive. I'd rather spend my money on something else. Maybe wild flowers will work for the ceremony, and I can DIY some non-floral centerpieces for the reception.

Basically, I can't wait to do more! Let me know if my board is inspiring!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow, Snow, Everywhere

The Vancouver Olympic committee is having to spread man-made snow in order for the Olympic games to begin as scheduled. Nashville, Tennessee has three inches of snow on the ground and it's still falling. Something about that just seems wrong.

Don't get me wrong, the snow is beautiful. The first time. Now that we've had a few or four occurences, it's time for Frosty to skedaddle. We just aren't prepared for this type of wet, goopy, mess. Plus the driver's side butt-warmer in my car went out, so driving is less than enjoyable.

I also do not have the luxury of working from home (unless they send us there) since I live practically on top of my cubicle. I would love to be home today snuggled in my Snuggie with a cup o' joe typing away in RFP-land. But alas I trudged in through the mush in my four inch Manolo Blahniks.

That brings me to my final point. I should be comped snow appropriate footwear. I think that would make all this a little more bearable, and I've picked out the perfect pair!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I have to say that friends are what make a girl lucky. I have some of the greatest girlfriends in the entire world--I'm not exaggerating.

These friends have agreed to take on the duty of bridesmaid! A duty that sometimes is underappreciated, but I have to say, I am completely grateful for their support! Even though we don't see each other often, or speak every day, I know they are true friends. Each one has a ridiculously busy life with their own boyfriends, fiances, husbands, and children, but each has selflessly devoted a little bit of themselves to ensuring that I have a fantabulous wedding day. Plus some good times along the way.

So to all the bridesmaids out there, THANK YOU! And to all the brides, be thankful you are a lucky girl.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do you ever just wake up in a good mood for no apparent reason? I'm having one such day. It's strange because I've been in bitch mode for a good week now. I definitely haven't run out of things to complain about, but I think my psyche is ready for a break.

And I've noticed that things are going rather well in cubicle hell today. I think I'll meet all of my deadlines, should I say it, early! Chip-chip-cheerio! Nothing helps brighten ones day better than speaking with a cheesy British accent.

Also, I've cut out grease from my diet. I think my colon is thanking me. Hours on the internet have led me to believe that my gallbladder is disgusted with my choice of weekend foods, so I've decided to jump on the grilled, baked, and steamed wagon for a while.

All in all, today is pretty rockin' and rollin'. I even remembered my umbrella.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wedding Planning Blues

I think I'm experiencing something that all brides inevitably do, the "planning blues." It's not that I don't want to get married, because I do. It's not that I don't want an unforgettable wedding, because I do. I just don't want to plan it all. My mindset now is "I just want to be married." Most people would agree that this is a good thing; I'm focusing on the marriage and not simply the wedding. However they go hand-in-hand.

Why is it that when we ask for a man's input, then get his input, we instantly regret asking for it in the first place? I really want my fiance to help make decisions and get as much enjoyment out of the process as I am. But I find myself more and more frustrated at his suggestions--"hey, let's let our friend who knows nothing about photography take our wedding pics!" or "won't people just know to come to the rehearsal, we'll just send them an email." I truly appreciate his effort to amuse me or offer actual input, but it's not really helping me make real decisions. I need a wedding planning fairy godmother to come put all the pieces together.

I believe these fairy godmothers are called wedding planners. However, my budget is seriously lacking, and a wedding planner is completely out of the question. I need to make a list (you know how I love a good list) and then tackle one thing at a time.

Easier said than done. I just needed to have a little rant. I will take any suggestions, though. Because I'm all about free wedding planner input!

Monday, January 18, 2010

When I Grow Up

Since Fortune did not smile on me during this weekend's lottery drawing, I've turned my daydreaming elsewhere. I will continue to hold out hope for the "big win," but a girl's gotta have a backup plan, right?

After a week of "I hate my job" syndrome (I know I'm not the only one), I started thinking aboutall the careers I would love. What do I want to be when I grow up? I think it's a question weshould all keep in the back of our minds as we grow older, because that's all 'up' is, is older.
As a child I desperately wanted to be a ballerina, something I regret not becoming everytime I venture out to support the arts. I also wanted to be a veterinarian at some point. Otherthan that I never had any childhood dream job. Weird, right? My indecisive nature followed methrough high school and college. I declared an English major because it's what I'm good at, but it's a pretty useless degree to be honest. Nevertheless I perservered through a Master's degreein English. Hey, if you got a good thing going.

All in all, my bountiful college education provided me with no career guidance whatsoever. I love teaching part-time, but I'd rather do it full-time, and it's becoming more and more apparent that I will need to obtain my Ph.D. in order to make this a reality. Long story short, I came up with yet another list! These are careers in which I think I could succeed and have limitedbouts of the "syndrome."

1. write professionally (books or a weekly syndicated column in a newspaper)
2. shoe designer who brunches with Manolo and Jimmy and Brian
3. the head of a successful non-profit, probably in an effort to promote literacy
4. travel, and write about it
5. eat, and write about it
6. book reviewer (for the everyday reader, not the uptight book snobs who secretly love predictable thrillers with trashly love scenes)
7. housewife and avid volunteer

If anyone out there is hiring for any of these positions (number 7, I'm afraid, is dependent on my fiance. Maybe he should make a list?) I am available and can start immediately.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Luck of the Draw

Upon reflection of yesterday's post, I daydreamed about winning the Tennessee Lottery.

I'm not biased towards the Tennessee Lottery over other state lottos, I just figure that my odds are better since I live here. However, I'm so close to Georgia and Kentucky that I could invest in both of those and exponentially increase my chances. But if my TN numbers hit on the KY lottery, I'd be devastated, or I could just play the same numbers in all three states, but I digress.

I've watched in awe and horror as those A&E channel documentaries reveal the evil that befalls lottery winners. How could these lucky average joes let that money ruin their lives. Easily, I suppose. Even the rich who work for their money get a touch of the curse. Just look at Nicholas Cage.

I think it's all about Karma; you just can't get a gift like that and not expect to return the favor somehow. It can't be all bling-bling and poppin' Cristal (apparently wealth equals instant hip-hop status). There has to be a balance of normalcy with excess. I do believe I have the smarts and determination to be a lottery success story!

This is my "to-do" list in no particular order, since this order doesn't really make sense:

1. Pay our (yes, I will share with my husband-to-be) parents' mortgages
2. Pay off all our debt
3. Choose a place to live and buy a home (just one home to start, I can't live two places at once anyway, and I like being pampered by hotel staff)
4. Get my Ph.D. (I can donate and get into any program I want)
5. Use my Ph.D., for a while, just because I can
6. Take a Meditteranean cruise for our honeymoon
7. Get married in Las Vegas with all our family and friends, not just Elvis
8. Retain a trusted money manager
9. Give to well-deserving and carefully selected charities
10. Take exclusive cooking classes in Paris
11. Visit NYC and stand in the Today show's plaza until Matt and Meredith come talk to me (Ann and Al, too)

I think that's a pretty good start to spending my new found fortune. I'm easily entertained and am a pretty uncomplicated person. My needs are few.

Oh, I purposely left off "shoe buying" as that's a given.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Why is it that the more we try to be fiscally responsible, the less money we seem to have?

I'm desperately trying to pay off all of my credit card debt, as is much of America I suppose, before the end of the year. I'd prefer to do it before I get married in August, but I'm not overly optimistic. I have a goal to overpay the credit card with the largest balance and highest interest until it is paid off. For the others I try to pay just over the minimum. Then I'll work my way down through each card until they are all at a $0.00 balance. This is what the "experts" say is the smartest way to approach debt. Somehow, my monthly funding is running out before I can make this huge payment. I make the same amount of money and I'm spending less . . . where is it going!!!??? Ughh, this is so frustrating! I can't tell you the times I've burst into tears just thinking about what a mess our country's finances are in. I count myself lucky that I have not one, but two, jobs. One I'd even like to make a career out of, if I'm ever given the opportunity (but that's another blog entirely). My debt isn't even that astronomical compared to some.

I'm just ashamed that we aren't all more responsible for our actions. I'm as much to blame as the next person, but I truly know better. I want to have a retirement fund, I want my future (possible) children to have a college fund, I want to own a home someday, and I want to take an annual vacation. I want what all Americans want . . . security. I want to know that I'm free to live in the land of the free and not be a slave to "the man." However, as much as I'd like to prove that the American Dream is alive and well, is it? I think we're crushing it and we don't even know it.

However, for those who know me, I can't spend my entire rant being negative. There is a silver lining. I do have the freedom to miss a payment and not get my hand chopped off or be thrown in some hole of a prison. I can drive my foreign made SUV with pride and ignore the dirty glares eco-friendly soccer moms throw my way. I get to teach college students of all walks of life who choose to go to college and make their own dreams come true. I get to be a burden to the state of Tennessee should I choose to further my own education one more time! All in all America is a great country because even in the midst of the economic crisis we've created, we are responsible for getting ourselves out of it--which is possibly the best freedom of all.

Thanks for listening. Meanwhile if anyone from Comcast could fix your customer service outage, I'd like to pay my bill.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The new year is here. Welcome.

Happy 2010. It started out with the best of intentions on the last night of 2009, but quickly 2010 decided to kick us in the ass. I won't dwell on the negative, but simply state that 2010 can only get better!

I have high hopes for this year. I have accomplished many things since 2000; this first decade of adulthood has flown by, and I have learned so many lessons (some the easy way, but most the hard way). I have many things left unaccomplished, but that's irrelevant in the new year. I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my jobs, and my life. I have all of those things, so I must be doing something right.

In honor of being a grown up (hehe) for 10 years, I present my 10 resolutions for 2010:

1. Decide what I want to be when I grow up. (possibly continue in the teaching field full-time?
possibly become a famous author? possibly revert to waiting tables until my true calling
comes along?)

2. Join Facebook and the 21st century. (I can scratch this one off my list, but if Myspace
becomes cool again, I'm gonna be pissed)

3. Pay off all of my credit card debt before I get married in August. (Matthew, if you read this
please don't roll your eyes)

4. Be the best fiance and new wife ever! (or at least the best Matthew will ever have)

5. Accept all the things I cannot change. (then bitch about them in my blog)

6. Give more of myself to my friends because they give so much of themselves to me.

7. Run a half marathon without stopping. (you should always have an expendable resolution--
this may be that one)

8. Make all the other new husbands on my honeymoon wish they had married me. (a.k.a.
accomplish my fitness goals before August 7)

9. Read the original translation of Dante's Inferno on my Kindle.

10. Successfully teach all of my students subject-verb agreement (this may also be an
expendable resolution based on previous experience)

Bonus Resolution: Find out what the hell is going on on that Lost island! (this can take the place
of either #7 or #10)

For those of you who like being spontaneous, lazy, or just think resolutions are stupid, you need to check out http://moninavelarde.com/newyears/.

Happy New Year Everybody!