Bus commuting

26 August 2014 § 2 Comments

I started a new job at the beginning of August. (A big girl job, as I’ve been calling it.) Along with the office, coworkers, and regular work hours, I have also become a bus commuter.

The university where I work subsidizes the cost of the bus pass to an incredible $25 a year, so it seemed ridiculously expensive by comparison to pay to park and for gas–even in my reasonably efficient Civic Hybrid. Plus, my bus commute takes about 50 minutes, roughly the same time it would take for me to drive 25 minutes, park, and then walk 15-20 minutes to my building.  Finally, I commuted to a nannying job every day this summer, and while it was crucial for me to have my car to drive my charges around, toward the end of three months of daily commuting, every time I got in the car I felt (maybe irrationally) like I was statistically due for a wreck. Adding all of this up made it an easy choice to take the bus, but logistically I still had some things to figure out.

In a way that is probably typical of someone raised in a Texas suburb, but nonetheless embarrassing and revealing of my privilege, I had basically no idea how to take a bus. Trains/subways in cities I’ve lived in or visited have not been a problem because they stop at every stop. Faced with needed to communicate with the bus driver that I needed to get off, though, I was at a loss. So I watched the online how-to-ride videos through the city’s transit website. I felt dumb, but the reason they have those videos is for people like me, who have never had to get on a bus. I mastered the commute in a day or two, and I’ve been happily riding ever since.

I listen to audiobooks and podcasts, while enjoying not having to pay attention to the road. I’ve definitely messed up the schedule and missed a couple of buses, but I find the whole process preferable to driving myself. Here’s to many more years as a bus rider!


5 March 2014 § 2 Comments

Currently, there is nothing that I like better than fixing things up around the house. I think it’s a combination of renting, so I don’t HAVE to fix anything (only the things that are in working order, but I’d like something nicer, or things that didn’t come with the house). So we can call the landlord when showers/kitchen sinks/washer drains aren’t draining, but I can replace the cruddy old bathroom faucets, which were still in working order, but not very nice. I replaced them with affordable, highly functional options from Home Depot, and that was a bear because the bolt on one of the old faucets was completely rusted in place. A day of spraying WD40 rust formula on it and laying upside down while saying all the swears and feeling like my arms might fall off from super-intense plier-ing (not a word? I don’t care) may not sound like fun to you. BUT having a tangible and obvious output for work that I do, as well as making things nicer or more functional in our living space is just SO AWESOME.

Faucet | Inviting Joy

NEW FAUCET with a special shout out to my dad, who served as my personal plumber helpline throughout the project, swears and all.

We also bought a used dryer really cheaply from the lovely handyman that came to fix the rent house and he delivered it, which was oh-so-helpful. About two weeks later, though, the drum stopped tumbling. Fortunately, that happened when Hubs’s clothes were in there, and not mine, and also fortunately we have so much closet space in this new house that we just hung dry all of Hubs’s clothes. But we needed to fix the dryer, and at first I was bummed because new (to us) things breaking is disappointing. But thank goodness for THE INTERWEBS, the source of my powers. Apparently, if an appliance breaks, you want it to be the dryer because 90% of the time you can fix whatever is wrong with it yourself. So I watched some youtubes, and it turned out that the most likely scenario when the drum stops tumbling is that the looooong skinny belt that goes around the drum and attaches to the motor has slipped off or broken. I took the dryer apart (YOUTUBES) and the belt had broken. I found an appliance parts store close-ish, drove there, and told them the belt part number that I needed. I also picked up a new pulley (another part that can malfunction), and a new lint trap because the old one was coming apart at the edges and the wire mesh was pokey. Then I replaced the pulley and belt, vacuumed out years of dust with the shop vac and wahoo:

The other thing that I’ve done so far, which isn’t really fixing things but makes a huge difference in any room, is hanging curtains. It may seem like curtains aren’t that big of a deal, but I agree with my girl Sherry over at Young House Love that curtains can make as much of a difference as painting. And since we’re in a rental and we likely won’t be doing any painting, the curtains are all we’ve got. And I love curtains, I think because I love fabric. I don’t have photos of our curtains, but I just love how they warm up the rooms and give us privacy.

My next projects are a serious clothesline outside on the wooden supports that came with the house (we won’t even need the repaired dryer!) and garage storage/organization. What are you working on around the house?


24 February 2014 § 5 Comments

The last twelve months, I’ve felt the most unsettled that I ever have in my adult life. Selling our house, an internship in Chicago, a move North Carolina, and another [local] NC move, against a constant background of trying to finish my [damn] PhD and my parents’ [unsurprising, but no less bothersome] divorce has been a challenge. And to do it all in the midst of feeling disconnected from our support network in Tennessee has sucked.

When things are that tricky, it’s hard for me to write in this space, even though I do think writing helps me process and feeds me creatively, which I sorely miss when I’m having a hard time. I think of people that complain openly and frequently on Facebook and I so desperately don’t want to be that person that I don’t write here, where I really could and really need to. And something about calling the blog Inviting Joy got me stuck that I only should write when I’m finding joy–not just inviting it. I think I should give you, my readers, more credit. At least two of you have mentioned that you’ve missed seeing me here–messages of support that meant so much to me. And this blog isn’t Facebook, so here I am.

My cousin shared a link for a 30 day writing challenge, and when I saw the subheading “write yourself alive,” I couldn’t resist. I want to write myself alive. I’m going to write for an hour every morning, as I am in the midst of another transition: from employment to [f]unemployment/dissertating, which will hopefully result in the PhD finally being done FOREVER. I’ll share some of what I write and some of it I’ll keep private, but I want to publicly commit to this practice and thank you for reading.

That woman

7 August 2013 § 2 Comments

I have become that woman: the one who misses her animals so much that she kisses the animals of strangers.

Example 1: Isabella the St. Bernard.
She was beautiful and the first really big dog I’d seen in this neighborhood composed entirely of highrises. Though we have a lake view, we do not have places for dogs to exercise, so all the high energy dogs I’d seen looked uncomfortably bulky. Isabella was just right, probably because St. Bernards mostly just lay around all day, burning calories sleeping and drooling. As she walked right toward me on my way to work, big, drooly mouth in a doggie grin, I couldn’t resist. “CanIpetyourdog?” I said in a rush, even as I squatted down to give her a big hug. Her person was kind and understanding as I chatted his ear off, eventually moving out of the way so they could get back to whatever they actually needed to do. But not before I kissed her sweet, furry noggin.

Example 2: Lucy the contraband kitten.
She dashed out of another apartment on my floor in the highrise, which DOES NOT ALLOW CATS. (Believe me, I checked). Slightly drunk on good food and wine, I paused while unlocking my door and asked, “Would you let me cuddle that kitten?” When he said yes, I went to their door and put my arms out. She was tiny, with a fast beating heart and black bunny fur. She didn’t struggle in my arms, but looked around interestedly until I kissed her and handed her over.

Royal Baby Fever!

23 July 2013 § Leave a comment

I know that a lot of people think it’s stupid that everyone cared so much about the Royal Baby, but I LOVED it. It was just so fun for me to bond with the other fans at work and to watch so many people around the world get so excited about the new little prince. Maybe it’s all just superficial and shallow, but I actually did feel connected to all the cheering people. And welcoming a baby is special, regardless of the baby.

In June, my high school BFF and I watched Birth Story, which is a documentary about Ina May Gaskin and the Farm midwives. Each time the babies were born, we both cried. Something about them coming earthside, having not been there a moment ago and then suddenly being there, slays me.

Imagining that happening for William and Kate, whom I love a little bit (in a non-stalkerish way), and being so thankful to have something so joyous in the news after all the heavy, hard things that have been there lately made me watch the video of them coming out of the hospital so the world could meet their baby over and over again.

In search of a unicorn

26 June 2013 § Leave a comment

After roughly a week of renting our house back from the investors who bought it, Hubs and I were donezo. We thought we didn’t want the hassle of homeownership, but the hassle of home rentership felt waaaay worse in spite of our unusual and best possible situation:

Our landlords were easy going and good about giving us notice when they needed something.
We didn’t have to pay a deposit for our month and half of renting.
We didn’t have to pay pet rent or a pet deposit.
There was no limit on the number or size of pets we could have.
We didn’t have to sign a lease.
The house was in good repair and so we didn’t have to ask the landlords to do any maintenance.

Any rental situation we enter into will most likely be one that includes: a for real lease, a deposit and maybe a pet deposit, relying on someone else for maintenance, and restrictions on number/size of animals. (Obviously we aren’t going to sign a lease that doesn’t allow two cats and a big ole pup, BUT I would like to have the option to foster other big dogs or maybe get Tonks a brother). Combine that with the things that weren’t awesome about renting:

Our landlord showed the house at least 10 times to find another tenant for when we moved out (not as bad as having the house on the market, but still not our favorite. We worried about cats escaping and still had to figure out what to do with Tonks those days).
We will never see a single stitch of that six weeks of rent ever again.
Not being in control.

And we are now on the market to buy again. I know, I know! I am a flipflopper. But I think that this actually is the right step for us because once we had our house ready to sell, I loved living there. Hubs and his dad fixed the windows and they all worked and looked amazing. We paid painters and our bedroom went from overly sunny yellow to calming light green in a day. We did a deep clean right before we listed the house and it had never been cleaner. I loved entertaining there and being able to walk to work and to restaurants and parks. I loved not having to worry about moving for the five years we lived there, and even though it was expensive, in the end I am so thankful that we didn’t pay all the money we paid in mortgage principle and interest to a landlord.

Some lessons from this first round of homeownership:

No more HOAs please.
Paint before you move in (or pay someone else to do it).
Keep the house clean by hiring a cleaning person (this one I learned earlier on, and would apply to a rental, too, but it makes such a difference).
Don’t let things linger, like windows that need fixing to stay open. Get ‘er done and you’ll feel so.much.better.
We like to commit to a place for longer than a 12 month lease.

There’s not much on the market right now where we’d like to live in NC. In exchanging emails with our realtor, we’ve been pretty specific about our [high] standards. His latest response was to tell us that the type of house we’re looking for will be “hard to come by and might even be like hunting down a unicorn these days.” We’re not worried because we know the right house (unicorn) is out there.


22 June 2013 § 3 Comments

In Nashville, I had the best yoga teacher. I loved her and she loved me, and with my soul sister, Dro, I enjoyed her class every Sunday morning. We shared her class with people we loved, including Hubs and a manfriend of Dro’s that sometime later on became an ex.

People have different ideas about territory after a break up. I tend to be more on the conservative side. For instance, if you initiate a break up with my soul sister (and why the hell you’d do THAT is a whole ‘nother issue), then you lose the privilege of going to the yoga class she introduced you to. Even if it’s the best yoga class you’ve ever been to, it’s respectful to not go there anymore.

But this fella just kept showing up to the yoga class. And I got SO mad about it, mad that he hurt my soul sister and mad that he had the gall to keep showing up to my sacred place (though probably it wasn’t gall, probably it was just non-awareness, which was really his main problem). I was more mad than Dro ever was because she is brave and strong and forgiving. Plus, she didn’t need to be that mad because I was pissed enough for everyone involved (and even some not involved people).

I was so mad that I wished to never see him again, actually thought it determinedly on multiple occasions. Then one day in December our teacher said that she was going to stop teaching the class after the new year. And I had wished SO HARD never to see this guy again that I felt as though the class ending was something that I made happen with all my angry wishing. I was gutted.

I finished up my class series in other teachers’ classes, but I didn’t feel connected to my yoga practice the way I had. After I ran out of classes March 1, I just stopped going. Did some exercise videos here and there, but basically wasn’t active.

Fast forward to now. I’m alone in Chicago for a science writing internship (!) and craving the familiar, I find a yoga studio and pick out a Sunday morning class. It starts at the same time as my old class. I walk into the studio and immediately feel connected to the exposed brick wall on one side of the studio – my Nashville studio has one of those, too. The class is challenging, but it feels so good to hear familiar words and my muscles haven’t forgotten everything.

As we settle into savasana, the teacher puts on this song. Tears well up and spill over; my Nashville teacher played this song for us in savasana all the time. I let go of my lingering anger at that silly man, and of my even bigger anger at myself, that I let my anger at him drive me away from my yoga practice.

It’s MY yoga practice to grow and nurture, and it’s back.


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