This is How We Do It

Does anyone else have Montell Jordan playing in their head now? Sorry about that, but it is playing over and over in my head and literally the only words I can think of are “oooooohhhh oooohhhh This is how we do it!”.

So dudes it was time for a new tactic. The previous one was working okay….scratch that, let’s not lie, the previous approach was crap. Watching job boards and applying for new postings was not resulting in locating my dream job. I mentioned last week that I had a response to a cold-call….well a cold-email.

I wasn’t entirely sure if it was an interview or just the guy agreeing to sit down with me as I had suggested in my email. Well turns out it was an interview. And it went amazing!

This is seriously the way to get a job yo. Forget the sending your resume and being 1 of 140 applicants (no shit, one of my interviews the woman said that was how many they received) just hoping your cover letter will catch their eye. I know I am part of the minority who has the luxury to sit and wait for a dream job. I am not trying to negate the fact that I am lucky to be employed at all in this economy.

But if you are ever in my situation where you can continue working while seeking something new, this is the best method. Look for what you really want to do, not necessarily what is available.

I think when I resolved that I didn’t need to get out of my job asap and should just relax my shit and really focus on what I want to do with my life, things started settling down in my brain. I am not in a hurry. I am excited to take my time.

Interview 1 went great. I am slated to go back next week to meet with their historic preservation expert, to show them my work and what not. Hopefully me and this lady just click. Hopefully she will be like ‘we need this girl!’.

Maybe it will be several more months until we can work out an offer or something, who knows? I am not sure what to expect. I feel like it is the 18th Century and I am a suitor setting out to court a young lady to get her to marry me…..yeah I read way too many classic books.

But I like this process WAYYYYY better. Way Wayy waaaayyyy better. It feels less like a rollercoaster and more like a leasurely jaunt down the lazy river.


How Bizarre

I can’t even tell you how weird this feels.

I had to have FF e-mail me my password it has been so long since I was on there. I logged in to find that I was at CD756 before I entered the first data for Tuesday morning…….this is really truly strange folks.

As is customary for me, I am a mixed bag of thoughts and emotions. I am excited to get this business started again. I am nervous and scared and questioning whether this is the “right time” for this. I believe “What are you thinking?!?!” is being screamed by one side of my brain and the other is like “This better happen fast this time, I can’t deal with the disappointment again!”.

I am not really sure what I am hoping for. Part of me hopes four weeks from now I am looking at another box of tampons thinking ‘yes! we’re regular’. The other part is hoping that this will be my only trip down Tampon Lane because I’ll be reporting a BFP again….does anyone even remember what all these acronyms mean? Fuck me, I need a crash course reminder.

I am not sure if I should classify myself as TTC…..TTC….it feels like such a distant memory full of heartache and worry and stress and….and I just almost hate that acronym more than anything. I don’t want to be trying. Because to me with trying there is a sense that it could turning into failing to conceive. I don’t want to fail. Failing is almost scary enough at this point that I don’t even want to try.

Along with all those stupid thoughts I can’t get rid of, we have the other side of the coin. The return of that part of me that probably talked itself into not having kids at all 8 years ago. The girl who thought ‘if I have kids I can’t have adventures and travel at the drop of a hat and move around as much as I want, you just can’t do that with kids!’.

Obviously I now know what an idiot that girl was. Stupid stupid girl. But part of her is still there. Thinking ‘with one kid you can still do all those things!’. With one kid you can scoop him up, jump on a plane and go!. You can maneuver around an airport with only slight coordination with one kid.

It isn’t that this part of me is thinking no more kids! completely. But she is sort of convincing me that a couple more years of just one kid might be absolutely fabulous….but then….what if? what if this is my window? what if I wait too long? what if? what if? what if?……..ahhh fuck.

What am I gonna do folks? I have no freakin’ idea! There is a HUGE part of me that is ready. That is like ‘yes! let’s do this! please let this happen’. And there is this other part that is kind of okay if it doesn’t happen right away again. I know that is the dumbest and probably the most hurtful thing some of you could probably read. I am sorry. I know I am a selfish good-fer-nothing bitch for thinking that. I just speak my brains thoughts on here, so I hope you’ll forgive me if that at all hurt those of you who are still so desperate to meet your first little ones.

I know I will still make things happen for myself and my family if numero dos comes right now. I will figure out how to take two babies on a plane by myself or I will stop traveling so much. I just realized that tomorrow Jack and I will be boarding a plane for his 15th flight. He is just a couple of weeks shy of 15 months and he is going on his 8th trip. I want to be able to do that for both of my kids. I want them both to have the same adventures and experiences……but I am not dumb. I know I won’t be able to do that.

But the truth is, come next March, we probably wouldn’t be doing as much traveling anyway. Jack will be turning two. That whole ‘hold yer kid in lap’ sitch will end. So that means two tickets…..and he will be two….I have no idea what to expect with that.

He is so sweet and awesome that I can’t possibly imagine him going through this thing that people call the “terrible twos”. Certainly that won’t happen to my sweet little man…..but again, I am not dumb….I know it probably will. A classification like ‘the terrible twos” doesn’t come about by only 2 or 3 parents having kids that go through it.

Le sigh….are you all confused by my brain yet? Basically I think I have worked it out. Thanks for reading as I mentally dump all my thoughts and feelings and work through them. The truth is, this is almost over. March of 2013 my streak of jaunting about the country at will is probably over. So why not go for it and see if the end of that part of my life can’t mean the beginning of another…..a second baby!……soooooo I guess we are trying to conceive again. Heeelllppp I am so effing scared dudes!

Alright eff this

I can’t not talk about it. Obviously because when I try to not talk about something I start writing in-depth posts about grass root structures and what not. My brain is trying to calmly deal with all the change that is potentially happening and I am really good at a lot of things, but keeping shit under wraps is not one of them.

Shiz has been crazy up in here. You know how I am all ‘attack from all angles!’ when it comes to this career thing…..yeah well the downside of that is that you might find yourself with like 3 things going on at once and unable to focus on what is happening.

Here’s how things got wild: about two months ago I applied for a position with the gov’t. For anyone who has gone down this road, it is a LONG process… LOOONGGG. About a month later I got a first interview, then three weeks after that I had a second interview. Then I had a week of waiting to hear back. The job itself? I was kind of unsure of. The positive side was that they had a building stock of about 300 old buildings. So there was potential for me to do something maybe eventually with preservation. The negative side was that I would be spending a good year or more stuck in front of a computer producing bid documents for pre-manufactured metal maintenance buildings. I was looking at it mostly as a possible stepping stone to get where I eventually want to go….or at least where I thought I wanted to go at the time. Needless to say I did not get offered the job, which is probably for the best.

Meanwhile the whole China opportunity came up again. This time I was like ‘you best be sending me!’. Picture sassy finger movements with that sentence. They want to send two more people for a 3 month stint. My resume went to the firm in China to be reviewed. There are three people willing to go and two spots, so technically my odds are good. The bad news is it is completely up to the other firm. My boss is all on board. But it isn’t up to him. And they don’t have laws in China about discrimination or equal opportunity and what not. So the fact that all dudes went last time and two of the three peeps this time are dudes…..I am not counting on it, but there is still a chance.

I was told two weeks ago that I would be hearing about China on Monday or Tuesday last week. The exact same time I should be hearing back about the gov’t job. Meanwhile I got a response to another job I had applied for. I was like ‘shit! I need to know whether this is a possibility ASAP’. The guy was willing to meet with me right away, like as in 24 hours later. Which rocked.

My meeting with him was SUBLIME! He was awesome, his vision was amazing and I could just see myself working with him. The interview went fantastic and at the end of it I found myself with a tentative job offer and him saying ‘think about it and get back to me’. I came home ready to toss all thoughts of my 401K and dental benefits and thinking ‘fuck yes! THIS is why I became an architect’.

Andy and I had a real conversation though. Obviously family comes first. Obviously we needed to make sure this wasn’t going to mean I was going to be on unemployment in two months. Fortunately Andy recently went back to work for a big company. So although I still winneth the majority of the bread, we had a new venue for getting our benefits. A more stable venue. I decided I had to take the risk. Big risks could mean big rewards. I mean this could be a firm I could someday run.

I e-mailed him that afternoon saying ‘okay I am interested, what comes next?’. He replied that he would get me an official offer letter by Monday morning. SHIIIITTT!!!! Here I was worrying how I would decide between China and this gov’t job and I just got scooped up completely by something else. And you know what? I didn’t even mind.

You are probably like ‘Hello, Natalie CHINA!?!?!?!’, but I was totally willing to give that up for this firm. I spent 24 hours thinking ‘OMG I am going to quit my job next week’. It was the most exciting and nervous I have been in a long time. Then….something weird happened. The guy e-mailed me on Sunday and said things were moving too fast. He wanted to take a step back. Check my references. Meet again, etc.

I was a little stunned and like ‘wait…what?’. I mean I wasn’t the one moving too fast, he offered me a job. So then I panicked. Um is this guy mentally stable? Did I just almost make the hugest mistake ever? I sent him my references on Monday morning, but all of a sudden I was gun shy. I was once again ready to consider all my options and approach this latest one with a mountain of salt. I would for sure not be throwing caution to the wind and taking a great blind leap anymore.

So Monday and Tuesday rolled on by….nothing. Wednesday, Thursday…..????? Thursday night I sent an e-mail to the office manager with the gov’t position asking about the decision. On Friday afternoon I got a voicemail saying I wasn’t selected. Someone with quite a bit more experience than me was. Good for them. If someone who has more than 8 years of experience wanted a job drafting pre-manufactured metal maintainance buildings that tells me one thing. They were out of work. So I am glad they got it. And honestly I wasn’t 100% sure I would take that position anyway. So it is better that this person got it.

I also got a “checking in” e-mail from the spastic guy. He was waiting to get a few contracts signed before moving forward, but he was still very interested. This tells me this guy doesn’t have the work log to keep me employed long-term. He may have it in the future, but it definitely makes me nervous that he doesn’t have it now. I told Oak and E that I sort of want to say ‘let’s talk again in a year and see where you are at’. I mean let’s face it. I am not 19. I don’t live in a studio apartment or in my parent’s basement.

I own a house, I have a family, I can’t just take a job and be like ‘well if it doesn’t work out, oh well’. As confident that I am that this economy will only get better from here. There are no guarantees. So caution is the name of the game.

As for China….you guessed it, no information yet. I am looking at my calendar and seeing that they wanted the new group to start in two and a half weeks. When the topic originally came back up I had six weeks. Plenty of time to expedite a passport and apply for a visa for Jack and Andy….now….time has eliminated this opportunity as well.

I am not sure what the deal is. I can certainly tell you I had no idea last week when I was overwhelmed by the idea of having 3 possible opportunities hit me at once, that I would be sitting here this week with nothing. You would think I would have at least a chance of one of those things working themselves out.

But you know what? It isn’t over until the fat lady sings. And this fat lady is just warming up. Not to be deterred by disappointment, I decided it was time to do some cold calls. I started looking at where I would want to work rather than who was hiring.

So yesterday I sent an e-mail to a firm I would LOVE to work for. It was more of an “I know you’re not hiring, but I’d love to sit down with you and learn more about you” e-mail. Well this morning I received an e-mail from the office manager that they would like me to come in for an interview. Now it could just be a meeting like I asked for, but it could maybe turn into something more! Which is exciting. Still moving forward. I refuse to sit still.

Wait, Do I Know You?

I woke up to Aunt Flo. It has been over two years since the last time this lady came for a visit. Pretty crazy right? I had almost forgotten I had a vajayjay until this morning….alright well I remembered I had a vajayjay, but forgot that she did tricks….gross tricks, but still.

I finally broke open one of the two jumbo boxes of tampons that silly me bought a couple of months after Jack was born thinking I might need them….tampons don’t expire right? Let’s hope not. I opened the box to find a bonus little pink and yellow tampon carrying case. SCORE for me!

Sure I probably didn’t need to shove 20 in there, but it was sort of like when I first started my period…you know….5 years ago when I was a teen…I have forgotten how this shit goes. Do I need 14 a day? I can’t remember…..I started wondering how I was going to smuggle them past my 4 male co-workers to get to the bathroom. Or should I celebrate it? ‘Nothing to see here! Just having my PERIOD!!!! No big deal, happens all the time’. Well except that obviously it doesn’t.

Which kind of makes this a celebration right? Like a “YAY Natalie seems to maybe work” celebration. The downside being obviously no one will really understand the idea of celebrating this. grrr. Why can’t you dudes all live next door (yep, in one house, that would be super convenient for me) then we could have like a big red tent party (if you haven’t read “The Red Tent”, do it!). Only our’s would be way cooler because we’d be sipping on margaritas and eating lots of delicious foods that we’re not supposed to have. Also fuck the tent, we’d be at a spa in the A/C getting a mani and pedi. Ahhh sounds delightful.

Obviously I am sure you are on the edges of your seats, but I will definitely be letting you know whether AF will be a regular visitor or return to her sporadic and absentee ways. Let’s hope for the former. Wow….it is weird….I feel like a functional woman.



Yoga is for Older Chicks

I tried yoga for the first time when I was about 16-17. I was mature in a lot of ways, but definitely not when it came to yoga. I approached it as a physical task. Bend over and hold, stand on one leg and hold. The talk of ‘quieting your mind’ and those silly breaths they do at the end where you basically pant like a dog. Well it didn’t work for me.

I went to Bikram for the first time in College and loved it. In general the instructor toned down the poses since the heat added a lot more intensity on its own. I am not a stretchy person. You know when you’re seated and you put your feet together and try to get your knees to touch the ground?…yeah I can’t do that. So the fact that I wasn’t super good at it and I wasn’t into the “om-ing” and panting led to me leaving yoga in the past.

It didn’t even cross my mind again until I was at my midwife and she asked if I did yoga. I came home and found a prenatal yoga video on demand and gave it another go. Prenatal yoga is the shit. It is definitely the best yoga out there. It is super super laid back. You spend a lot of time laying on your side and breathing. So obviously I excelled at that.

Recently my SIL mentioned that she wanted to try yoga. So when a groupon showed up for a month of unlimited hot yoga (Bikram) we both bought it.

After that first class I knew yoga was something different to me now. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of the time I am just trying to get through each pose without dying. But the mental aspect has changed. When they say ‘stay present’ and ‘quiet your mind’, I actually know what that means now. And it doesn’t make me giggle….okay well the dog panting breath thing still makes me want to giggle.

The instructor’s at this particular studio try to push you, but also encourage you to listen to your body and give in to the need to rest….I am not gonna lie, I did a 90 minute hot hot session on Monday and spent the last 15 minutes just laying on my back I was so afraid I was going to puke….um don’t eat a sandwich 30 minutes before a hot hot class. Poor choices.

I guess I decided that it is okay to suck. I don’t need to look awesome when I do yoga. What I need is that mind body connection. Think about what you are doing, talk to yourself, praise it for what it is capable of and own up to your limitations. Breathe in to lengthen, breathe out to stretch

Basically yoga is just different for me now. So if you were like me and tried yoga at one time or another and thought it was hokey, maybe you should give it another go. Maybe you will find that yoga is exactly what you need too. Namaste.

Wait….how did I start talking about grass?

Hola personas importantes. Man, things got a little cray cray for a couple of days and after all that excitement I find myself sitting in a lull saying ‘where’d my excitement go?’

First off, the weekend was good. We had some rainy weather, so whilst I had hoped to be digging up flower beds, hanging trellises, and planting wildflowers, basically I did a whole lotta relaxing with the fam. Which is also super appreciated. But let me tell you, a couple days of rain in Colorado makes the weeds go insanepants up in yer back yard. I was out there last night pulling weeds and thinking ‘if I do this amount every night it will take me 2 weeks to pull them all up’.

Fer yer information needs, two years ago we decided to embrace the fact that Colorado is not Kentucky and paying a shit ton of money to water your grass is dumb. We were fortunate enough to be working with a semi-blank slate. So we tilled, nuked the weeds (so not hippie, I get it), let sit for two weeks, tilled again, then laid $1K worth of buffalo grass sod. Kentucky Bluegrass is less than half the cost, but my hippie sense just knows this is totally going to be worth it…and hopefully that is soon.

Buffalo grass is a tricky beast. The root system (I know, you guys were just so hoping I would talk about the root system, well it is happening right now!) for buffalo grass is totally different than KBG (not to be confused with KGB, acronyms can be dangerous!). KBG roots grow horizontally. That is why they need so much damn water in Colorado because to get any moisture from the ground they would have to grow down deep. Buffalo grass roots grow straight down. So it finds the moisture it needs from the soil and is good to go.

Obviously you can see the water benefits/differences. But the downside of the vertical root system of buffalo grass is that it takes longer to form a barrier for weeds. KBG’s horizontal roots tightly interlock so weeds have a harder time getting in. Not the case with buffalo grass.

I knew going into this that we were signing up for more work for a couple of years…but that it would payoff to not be wasting precious water sources (you’re welcome California!) on watering my lawn. Sure I can just mow the weeds down every week….which is exactly what I do after a couple of rounds of trying to hand pull them all. But it’s obviously more successful to pull the weeds out and get (or at least attempt to) the root. I need to lay down a weed and feed, but at this point the weeds have such a strong hold on the yard, the grass wouldn’t get any feed out of it. So pulling weeds I will do….every night until I can get to the point where my weed-n-feed will be beneficial.

Okay, so right now you are all thinking ‘eff that shit! who would ever plant buffalo grass?’. Believe me I feel that way too at times. But then I want you to think about this little nugget of information – we haven’t watered our grass since the first two weeks after we laid it. BAM! That is amazing. Especially considering my in-law’s water bill goes up by $100 or more a month in the summer. So after two summers we’ve made up the cost difference in the sod.

The experts say it takes buffalo grass about 3 summers to fully establish itself. I think this is a little wishy washy. I would say our grass established itself the first summer, but I am hoping that statement means it starts choking out the weeds after 3 summers. I can tell you that I am now seeing infiltration of the grass. Obviously when we laid it out we covered the entire back yard. Then, thanks to our two rambunctious dogs, the second summer we noticed some serious patches of death.

As I was bent over last night pulling weeds I realized that the grass is spreading! Yeah bitches! So maybe the 3 summers thing means that by next summer it will have spread out and hopefully filled in those dead areas completely….obviously I don’t really know yet. I will for sure report back, which I just know you are so excited about!

Dang now I am wishing I had taken pictures and shit to show you what the grass looks like and what not…..wait… did I start talking about grass? I assure you, this was not the intent when I started writing today. These things just have a mind of their own sometimes.

Anyway, now that we’ve started, might as well finish up. Obviously one thing you are sacrificing with buffalo grass is the lush softness of KBG. BG is definitely a drier grass. It also doesn’t get to be deep green. It is more of a mossy color…..well okay, let me retract that statement. If you water Buffalo Grass it will green up a lot. But in it’s unwatered state (which is obviously what we were going for) it is mossy. It also stays dormant longer and goes dormant sooner than KBG. So whilst my neighbors have had lush green lawns for a few weeks now, our grass is just starting to come out of dormancy. But these were all things we were willing to sacrifice to be able to be more environmentally friendly….well I was at least. I sold Andy on the whole thing by pointing out we wouldn’t need an irrigation system and he wouldn’t have to mow as often.

Sure I will be jealous of you dudes as you roll around in your luscious grass this summer, but we’ll just walk a couple blocks to play in the grass at a nearby school. Problem solved.

The front yard is another beast. I have lots to update you about the status of my garden and I was at the garden center last night getting more supplies to make a second box. I stumbled upon a couple of really awesome articles that have inspired me to turn the front yard into a mix of xeriscaping and planters for growing food.

….there is a part of me that can’t help but think I have about two weeks of momentum on this yard business and then I will be saying ‘eff this, I want to lay in the basement and watch movies’.

Better use the momentum for good….okay well again, I was totally not intending this post to talk about our yard the entire time. Doh. So sorry dudes. More interesting things tomorrow.

Midlife Event – Step 1

Okay let’s start at the very beginning…..a very good place to start….sorry about that, it just happens naturally in my brain. And since my blog is basically an outpouring of my brain, this is what you get folks.

So Step 1 is Discovery.

I recently stumbled upon a poem:

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

That last sentence “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?“…well???? The answer? I have no idea. But knowing where I am, knowing I am potentially 1/3 of the way through this journey and hoping that the next 30 years are going to be absolutely the most amazing years of this journey – I am starting to realize that something has to happen. Something big, something amazing, something wonderful and challenging and unique and just…..more. It has to be more.

Don’t misunderstand, I have no qualms about what I have done thus far in my life. I am not like ‘holy crap! I am wasting my life’. I have done so many wonderful and amazing things. So many unexpected adventures and opportunities. I am soooo grateful for it all.

Right now I am exactly where I wanted to be at this point in my life. Right here. But I definitely don’t want to stay here. Sitting still now would be such a failure to what I have done thus far. I peaked at 29? That can not be.

So Discovery. Discovery of what I want out of the next 30 years of my life. As I said, I have no idea. But I am determined to figure it out. As I said, I caught my first big wave yesterday. I met with the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. He was fantastic for being willing to sit down with me. Our 45 minute conversation involved me chicken scratching as fast as I could. But it basically all boils down to this: there are three paths. Administration, Architecture and Consulting/Outreach.

The good news is, I think I have eliminated the administration route. Do I want to be involved in the approval of grant funding? I don’t think so. Maybe in my last 30 years that would be the way to go. When I have been able to get my hands on some buildings for a good while, I might change my mind about that route, but for now, I think I know I want to stick with architecture.

Afterall, that was my first love. He gave me some names of people and basically said I was doing the exact right thing to do. Go around talk to everyone, get to know what they do, who they are, etc. Take the leads they give me of people to contact and just work my way around until I figure it all out. So step 1 was this first contact. Step 2 will be to contact everyone else and set-up meetings.

Just through these first few weeks of tackling these new feelings, I have really found happiness. I am excited again. Just the prospect of “I am going to get somewhere amazing eventually”, is making me so happy and excited to be alive.

I don’t think I ever said this, but Andy and I are again back to the Africa track. We are going. And I am not just talking about the 30.30.10 trip, I am talking about moving. We are moving there. Maybe not as soon as I might think…..because in my mind we are headed there May 30, 2014. Right after Andy accepts his diploma and walks off the stage (the theoretically stage, he has no intention of walking) I am picturing us walking onto a plane and heading to South Africa…..yeahh. So my ideas might be a bit lofty.

But what is that saying? Shoot for the moon, if you miss, at least you will be amongst the stars.

After my meeting with the DSHPO, I decided I should be investigating on all fronts. I had previously started looking at firms in S.A. (ZA on all their designations, which I thinks kicks ass, it is like BAM, we’re ZZZzzouth Africa bitches and we’re awesome!) and into possible preservation (called Heritage there) entities. Additionally I have looked into immigration/visa/naturalization websites to try to get an idea of the process. I have found a LOT, but I also haven’t stumbled onto that one idyllic site that just says “how to move your life to south africa in 8 easy steps”. Maybe someday I will make millions of dollars creating that website.

The temp intern (the dude sitting in for the dude in China) and I have had some sweet conversations. He wants to convince his wife to move to France. So we have bantered back and forth on our ideas, when we want to get there, etc. Well today that fucker said something genius ‘have you checked out your alumni website for people who live in South Africa?’. Um why the fuck didn’t I think of that? Deerrrrrrrr.

Two seconds later I am composing an e-mail to the only contact listed, a 1971 graduate, saying ‘if you aren’t dead yet, would you mind me sending you several 8,000 word e-mails asking you tons of shit about South Africa?’. So I think we have figured out Steps 2 and 3. I am attacking this Midlife Crisis like I attacked the egg that conceived Jack, it is time to firebomb this bitch!