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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

For want of a pair of socks.

I just walked 6 blocks in the cold so I could get a pair of black socks. Apparently, in the past week, the way these pants fit has changed so dramatically that the hem is now wrong - even with the exact same shoes.

This was, a complete waste of time, since who, in their right mind, is going to care about this half inch of the top of my foot not covered by my shoes?

It is impossible to understand the irrationality of some of the things that drive me crazy, but at least this had a solution: a rejuvenating winter walk and three new pairs of black dress socks.

Back to work.

Love always, ~Heather

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Roommates

I can say, with some certainty now that I have two new roommates. A friend from graduate school and a girl we me through an ad for this really cute townhouse in Old Town.

I want to tell you more about it. Unfortunately, I am so exhausted from the search and the early mornings for interviews that even with an hour long nap since I've been home tonight, I'm still ready for bed at 10:45.

As soon as we sign a lease and everything is official, I'll post the pictures and maybe mini-bios of my new roomies. With all the craziness that's happened since November, I don't want to jinx this!

Good night all.

~Heather

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

See Heather Hunt

Thank goodness, without a gun.

I am working on a gajillion things right now.

We finally found a place to live, but we still need a third roommate, hence the hunting. I am exceptionally choosy about my roommates, because I want to be able to relax when I come home and don't want Budweiser blow-ups as part of the living room decoration (except for Superbowl Sunday). Also, they have to be reliable about paying their own way, otherwise I could get really stuck. So, the search continues.

HOBY is really getting into swing. I love working on pulling the conference together. Last night and over lunch today I laid out how to get the schedules done for the whole weekend. I think I may have even managed to include appropriate transition times ... if this is right then we'll be able to get started finding panelists February 1st ... just a couple weeks behind my original schedule. I'll be hunting down speakers in the very near future.

On a whim and suggestion from Ginny, I applied to direct Scrooge! at a local theater next fall. Fall is usually a relatively laid back time for me, because HOBY is spring, volleyball is winter, and summer is traveling. Plus, I haven't directed in such a long time ... I really miss it. This means however, that tonight after work I had to go to the theater and read through the script (since I wanted to make sure there weren't any really weird additions to the original Dickens tale). I updated my theater resume and have been working on constructing a concept piece. I would love to take another swing at a crazy-modern rendition, but the music really lends itself to my other idea, which I'll tell you about after I find out whether or not I got the job (there could be spies anywhere!).

Volleyball is going really well. Our team is slowly improving. We won one of the three games in our match this week. And, in the most stupendous news to come from my shoulder in a long time, my serve is back! I went overhand the whole game and didn't miss. I forgot how good it felt to be able to really power the ball over the net. My place serving is more by zone than targets, but I imagine that will come back in time (if I can get some practice swings in).

My last big hunt will be for boxes, because I need to start packing up my stuff. I really dislike packing, because I always feel like if I can pack it a month in advance than I should probably get rid of it, because it isn't indispensable. But, if I don't get started a month in advance, I'll never get done. Dana has been encouraging me to downsize a bit, which I probably will, but I don't really forsee myself getting rid of my relative library anytime soon.

My diet plan has been at least holding me steady half-way to my goal for about three weeks now. My end goal is in May, which means even if I wanted to get rid of clothes now, I won't let myself replace them until I'm sure I've gotten to the target weight. That makes me hesitant to just start donating stuff, but I don't really want to move it all either ...

You'd think after all the moving I've done (can this really be move 15 in 7 years???) I'd be better at it. In fact, the only thing I'm really getting better at is filling a box to the maximum sustainable weight.

For now though, I'm going to hunt down my pillow and get some sleep. Big interview tomorrow for the directing position. I love that I'm awesome at interviews, but don't love that people see how young I am and judge me for it and not in the "young and accomplished" way, but in the "she's too young to handle it way." I am a kick butt director though (if I do say so myself) and could really rock this show if they let me.

I had better stay away from phrases like "rock this show" if I don't want to be hunting for a new directing opportunity too.

Love always, ~Heather

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Adventures in Househunting

For those of you who didn't know, I am moving again. The last move I made was a pretty good choice at the time, but after just a few months my apartment complex is raising my rent, so I'm moving on.

My first brilliant plan was to move in with a friend from high school. All was well until she accepted an internship instead of a job (better career wise, oddly) and found a place in her new price range much closer to AU, where she'll be doing her grad coursework. As her friend, there was no way I could frown on this, except this now left me roommate-less.

If you've never been on a serious budget in an urban housing market, you might not realize that having roommates is one of the best ways to defray costs. Sharing cable, phone, internet, heating and cooling alone can save someone in the ballpark of $120/month or $1,440/year - which is the equivalent of a months rent and two months utilities here. So, roommates are a must.

Plus, there is something nice about coming home to people instead of your television.

So, I started a search for roommates, because when I thought I had the other roommate, I had found a perfect little townhouse three blocks from work and 10 minutes from a Metro. It was a dream that would chop over $200 off my rent, give me a bit more space, and let me share with roommates which has emotional and economic benefits. Perfect.

To make this long tale a shorter one, a friend from grad school needed a roommate and we found each other through my away message. We interviewed potential candidates. I made an appointment with the landlord of the townhouse to show the "chosen" roommates the space and turn in their applications (mine was already in his sweaty little palms). For the first time, he stalled in getting back to me, which I assumed was because of the upcoming three day weekend.

In reality, he signed the lease with someone else at the beginning of this week after telling me to take my time finding roommates on Saturday. So now I have roommates and no place to live. And to top it all off, I've turned in my vacate notice to the place I'm in now. Fab-u-NOT.

I have been in a "tizzy" since then (my nice word for something bordering on hysterical anger and nervousness in manic depressive spurts). I saw a place last night. Saw two on my lunch break today. Two more appointments tomorrow AM. One Sunday afternoon. All townhouses, all relatively close to work, all requiring roommates I'm not sure I'll still have by the time I finally settle on a place. I have no idea if my friend from grad school still wants to search for a place with me, or if he was solely interested because the place was found.

My current apartment reflects my mental status, which is no good because I have extended family coming to visit tomorrow. My couch and room need to be completely cleaned because people need to be sleeping there. Ack!

To top off this wonderful week, I found out that the co-program director for HOBY has a terrible personal situation and will not be able to continue. Of course I understand and it can't be helped but we are four months from the conference with nothing but a lousy Excel chart and big ideas. I have to work in over-drive to make this happen. And, without ever having seen the space, I'm supposed to put together the program. By tonight. I can't make the trip down to Richmond, because with all the house hunting and application filling out appointments, I don't have a free weekend day to go.

Loyal readers know that last week I was worried about being challenged in my job. I was brave and took it up with my boss, who has been kind enough to ramp up my workload. Now. Which I LOVE. Which only goes to prove the old adage that when it rains, it pours.

I knew by slowing down for awhile that getting back into the swing of my true lifestyle (non-stop action, over-involved, yet totally exhilarated) would kick me hard. Maybe it is because part of the stress is about my actual living arrangement, or maybe because I have to prove to my boss that I can handle all the extra work I basically begged for - even though my non-work life has exploded with time commitments. It might be that if I don't figure out HOBY then 200+ Virginia high schoolers will miss out on an "outstanding" experience and get a mediocre one; or worse, I'll prove that the former organizers, who kept HOBY old-fashioned, could handle this better than the new young staff that took over.

And with all this talk about moving, I don't even know when I'll have a free weekend to do that! I want to move at the end of the month, but President's Day weekend is too soon since I'd have to pay double rent for half a month. The next weekend I'm stage managing the show at Janney. Then I have to be out of my apartment the following Friday. I can probably just take a day off from work - which would be easier than trying to shove a move into a weekend - but then who could help me move my stuff in the middle of a work day?

And I guess after I'm done cleaning up from my guests this weekend, I should think about starting to pack. *Very long sigh.*

The blessing is, of course, that I have Monday off to recuperate after all the insanity of the next 48 hours. And, as stressed as I sound, I'm actually in pretty good shape right now - this is just my venting mechanism.

I have a good job that finally makes me think. I have a place to live and a bunch of wonderful (hopefully) places to choose from. I have 40 days to find said place. There are HOBY alums all over the state who I can get to help me. I get to see my family and perhaps have my hair cut but my Aveda-trained cousin. Dana, though sick, is going to help me check out the places tomorrow. I will probably be able to get packing boxes from the local grocery store. And, I cleaned the kitchen last night which only leaves two rooms to clean up before tomorrow.

Now that I have sufficiently procrastinated, I'm going to clean up this disaster area, send off the work I managed to get done on HOBY, and get some sleep. You never realize how much sleep you need until you are missing it, so I don't intend on missing a wink.

Love always, ~Heather

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Monday, January 14, 2008

What a Great Weekend

Friday night: Girls Night at Kate's to watch Pride & Prejudice, followed by Bride & Prejudice (Bollywood). All of that was with mojitos, red wine, cookies, quesidillas, and this fabulous goat cheese brie with an apple/nut/cranberry chutney on top. I really need to get that recipe!

Saturday I slept in (9:30!) did some stuff around the apartment, filled out and turned in a rental application for the townhouse, and posted an ad online for roommates. Then I made some bean dip casserole and drove up to the ever-exciting choir party. I love hanging out with the folks from choir. I stayed over with a friend so I wouldn't have to make the drive back and forth (thanks!).

Sunday I sang both masses at church and read Pride & Prejudice in between (not the whole thing, obviously). Had lunch with Ginny, talked to my host mom (for lack of a better term) from Canada, and then picked up Dana to go shopping at Kohls for new work clothes for her new job (congrats!). Target wound up being a better deal though. Dana needed three trips in just to try everything on!

We both got a couple of items before deciding to move on to shoes ($3.24! for brown flats) and then a tour around household items helped us decide we really needed to get out of that store. So we grabbed coupons to a local restaurant from our respective places and went out to eat.

The encounter with the manager deserves much more than the following section, but let me say the manager would have flunked out of customer service school. He didn't want to let both of us use our coupons if we were sitting at the same table. So instead we moved to the bar. Then, when we filled out the comments section on the back of the coupon, the manager read them and came over to tell us how we were really wrong to both want to use our coupons - how it was against a policy they had made up there, and how we were so lucky he let us do it. Yeah, because I really wanted to move to the smoky bar to eat medium quality food and then get yelled at by the manager. Awesome.

After all that, you might think we would have had a bad time, but Dana and I found the whole situation so hysterical we were laughing the whole time. I dropped her off, went home to watch what is probably the last Brothers & Sisters for awhile and then it was totally time to crash.

I barely saw my apartment all weekend - and I loved it. It was so great to be really busy. It was more relaxing than being in somehow. If all my weekends were this way, I'd probably long for a little peace and quiet on the couch. But, for now all I can say is "what a great weekend."

Love always, ~Heather

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Decisions ...

...can be good or bad.

Like killing that strange bug on the ceiling with a newspaper at a bad angle and possibly having it land in my hair on its plummet to the carpet (where it was camouflaged and I was freaking out about it maybe being in my hair so I didn't see it land).

Right now, aside from the bug and newspaper incident, I am trying to decide a good number of things. One of which is where to live, who to live with, and how to go about having the conversations necessary to make those decisions. Townhouse, apartment, condo, north, west, red line, orange line, blue line, ack!

Another is how to handle my job situation. I love the idea of my job, but often find it less than challenging. I am trying to decide if this is something I can handle. I'm beginning to fill my life outside of work with challenging (if not, than time consuming) activities.

I'm playing on a competitive volleyball team one night a week - and I'll probably be doing some strategic coaching with that (since I am one of the more experienced people on the team). I am the co-program director for this year's Virginia HOBY seminar, which is a huge responsibility. I am writing a few new songs and more or less a completely new script to the musical I co-wrote for my senior thesis. I'll be stage managing for the Janney Elementary musical again this year (which means working in flex time).

I have plenty going on. But I'm not sure that loving the potential of my job and outside activities makes up for being less than intellectually stimulated at work. There are going to be big changes inside our organization soon which should mean more work - which is good. However, I don't want to confuse busy with challenging. If anyone has words of wisdom, I'd appreciate them now.

I refuse to believe you can't be completely happy in your job - since I have already experienced this in two jobs before this, I know it is possible. Even if you don't love all the elements, paperwork is worth it if you know that it is for/to document something relevant and important. But, like a mere acquaintance can become a great friend, can a job that doesn't take advantage of what I would consider my best talents develop into a meaningful position? I truly hope so.

I have other decisions to make too, like which of the four books I'm reading to dive into next, or what to do this weekend (aside from getting rid of this cold!).

I am an indecisive person when left to my own devices. I tend to make quicker decisions when I feel like I may run out of options. To maintain the standard that I rarely second guess and have a well-developed policy against regret, I agonize over making a decision in advance - until I am certain I have worked out every possible "reaction" to the action I choose. This is a characteristic about myself that typically serves me well, but is emotionally draining.

With all the decisions I need to make (some much sooner than later!) I think I am going to rely on something that Pritcher once commented to me (via blog): "God is strong enough for your questions."

I'll be sending them up with a healthy dose of prayer. Best of luck in your decision making!

Love always, ~Heather

Below: A picture a la Mom from a snowy, yet somehow warmer day on the Capitol steps in Washington, DC last winter.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Welcome to 2008!

New Year's Eve recap:
  • Cuban-style dinner (ropoveeja (sp?), black beans, rice, fried plantains), pigs in a blanket (best NYEve food ever!), veggies, and more cookies than any one should ever eat.
  • Chatting around the table and then family room with Malise, Yuriy, Katie, and Stacie.
  • Katie, Stacie, and I checking out the fireworks over the Masonic Temple in Old Town Alexandria.
  • When Harry Met Sally (quintessential) followed by a gracious ride home for my guests by SoberRide.
Today I woke up late: 9:38am. So far I've spent the day with ESPN watching bowl game predictions and clicking back and forth with Rose Bowl Parade.

So far, Tennessee is doing well against Wisconsin (go SEC!) though Arkansas is really duking it out (go SEC!) and Florida is about to crush Mighigan (go SEC!). I'll be ducking out in the middle of the FL game to go and look at what is potentially a fabulous townhouse near a metro... perhaps a future homestead???

2008 already looks exciting. Last night before bed I was reflecting on what my life was like at the beginning of 2007....

I did not yet have: a Master's degree, my own place, a real-live job, a number of friends, my fabulous church choir, familiarity with tons of music, TV shows, movies, journal articles, books, or basically any idea what I'd be doing with my life. Now I have that MA, I'm leaving my own place soon to move back in with friends, I have added and lost some "great" friends, I don't mind driving 30 minutes to get to my wonderful church, and I now know a few more things I don't want to do with my life.

All of this to say that 2007 was eventful, and a pretty huge transition year for me. I'm looking forward to 2008 and whatever adventures may be in store for me. And on this first day of the year, cheering rather loudly for my comrades in the SEC!

Love always, ~Heather

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