Feet First

The best way to spend the weekend before you quit your job is definitely lounging around and doing a whole lot of nothing. It really helps you to focus on your life and think about what you really want.


So what do I want? I want more love. More love with Andy, Jack and my friends….not like all together though, I didn’t spend the weekend deciding to start a polygamist colony. So you can now sigh with relief.

But I obviously want more love of life in general. I want to love my job, I want to love getting up at the ass crack of dawn (because FYI I am not a morning person), I want to love it all.

Granted I know I will not love every aspect of every day of my life, but I want to get as close as effing possible.

And so these last few days at work are not as sad as I worried they would be. Instead I am excited….excited to grab life by the balls (assuming life has balls) and go get it.


Yesterday I packed 5 years of my life into 2 boxes. It was the strangest thing to think that 5 whole years could be boiled down to just this. I had half a mind to just chuck those two boxes into a dumpster on my way to the car, but….there is still a piece of me in there. Even though it feels like I am starting fresh and really doing what I wished I had been able to do back in 2008, I can’t just discount the journey that got me here.

I will never regret the things I learned, the people I met, and the places I was able to go as a result of this job. How could someone ever regret adding people and experiences to their life portfolio? Well I couldn’t.

Conversely I thought about taking more, keeping more, keeping it all actually. But then what? Am I going to sit at home and go through every piece of paper, every drawing, every report that I ever wrote? No. We must keep pieces of the past (even if just in our memory) but we must not dwell on them too heavily.

Circumstantially, I found out about an amazing conference coming up and it just so happens that the call for abstracts is due in plenty of time for me to get one together. And even more perfect? One of the suggested topics is something I have spent a good portion of my academic career researching, writing, and inspired by. So this bitch is going for it!

I am diving in – feet first! Let’s do this!



So I know on January 1st everyone reflects on the failings/short-comings of the past year and tries to improve on them, therefore me doing this now, is like me being the last one to the party…..but the party was a month ago and the occupants of the house moved to a new state. Hello! I am finally here.

I think as we become parents…well really just as we grow up as human beings, regardless of parenting – we are constantly recalibrating our lives. Trying to find the perfect balance of things. It is really only through trial and error that we find a balance. And then we think we’ve got it and then we tip over again….or at least that is how my life goes.

Wanting the most out of life often means sacrifices are made in certain areas and I will admit right now that Andy often gets the short-end of the stick. He doesn’t always get the best of me and in a way, that makes sense. It makes sense that Andy is the most understanding and adaptable and can roll with the punches of life. But that doesn’t mean it is always fair.

With my new career direction, I decided it was also time to make sure this period of time isn’t “all about me”. Because it isn’t. This is obviously a very exciting time for me and I have thanked Andy profusely for coming with me on this long journey that is life, and for supporting me and pushing me and all that smushy-wooshy stuff. But telling him is only a one-part component. We can’t just say, we also must do!

Friday I decided to be sick…I am getting all brave now that there are very few consequences. Take that…boss who doesn’t really care!

We dropped Jack at daycare, rented snowshoes and set off on an adventure, just the two of us. Adventures always have to have starbucks, chips and cliff bars. I don’t make the rules people, I just share those rules with you. We went up to a hike we had done two July’s ago with my dad. There was comfort in that we were familiar with the area, but there was newness in the fact that a coat of snow makes everything new and different.

We meandered up the mountain and took the opportunity, when the trail was wide enough, to hold hands as we trudged along. I can’t tell you the last time we actually held hands for an extended period of time. But it felt so sweet. When you spend 13 years with someone, things like holding hands while you walk can slip through the cracks. So can things like, taking a picture together…. I don’t remember the last picture we had together with just the two of us.


Until now that is! Look…so cute….doesn’t it just make you want to barf with the cuteness?

After our adventure we declared every Friday – Date Day. Although Fridays from here on out are just going to be half days….unfortunately I can’t be sick every Friday and still keep a job up. Lame. But 4 hours per week dedicated to just us will help keep the sparks alive, or at least that is the hope. I told Andy that my new observation about marriage is that you have to keep trying things until you find what works. And you have to keep at it until you die…..which was supposed to sound uplifting, but came off sounding a little depressing. Bahhaa I guess I should take “being a philosopher” off of my resume after that one.

The good news is, our Friday time led into Saturday and we *GASP* held hands for a little while again on Saturday! Can you believe it? Hand holding…..how 6th grade of us.

Out of the Tunnel

Whew! I am happy to report I have not cried at work ALL week!!!! In case you are counting that is 4 days in a row! Woohoo! Technically it has been 6 days because once I left the office on Friday it was smooth sailing all weekend.

I came into work on Monday and my boss said ‘I have decided that we will stop teasing Natalie and now just support her’….then later he forgot about that and teased me again. Then Tuesday I almost made him cry when he said ‘do you have that…’ as he was saying it I walked out of the room and came back with the exact thing I knew he was about to ask me for. Ugh this is going to suck, but it will also be okay.

I was feeling a little apprehensive as the week began. I mean a month is a long time from when you get the job offer to when you start. It is hard not to listen to those voices that tell you ‘maybe they found someone else in the meantime and are about to call and tell you ‘you do not have a job” or ‘I bet you’re going to show up on Monday and they are going to be like ‘I’m sorry who are you?”.

Then something awesome happened. I received an e-mail from their marketing director asking me if they could include my resume on a proposal that was going out this week. For those of you not familiar with architecture, that is kind of a big deal. I have been included in only a handful of proposals at the current firm and I have been here for 5 years! So to not even be there yet and them already want me to be on the team that would go interview for the job?….well let’s just say it was the exact thing I needed.

Since that moment, I noticed the other stuff stopped bothering me. I listened yesterday as my current boss taught the “new kids” (i.e. the guys who were recently hired) all about how we go about the planning process. Last week, when I was a blubbery mess, I would have felt a bit envious, a bit jealous that I wasn’t going to be involved in that project. But this week, I was like ‘eh…no big deal. I have done plenty of that and I am ready to move on!’ So I am happy to report that I am totally ready to head out the door in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime stuff is a little crazy. I feel like I have a zillion things to do before I go, plus I have a vacation right in the middle and I might try to sneak a ski day in there if I can swing it.

My very good friend sent me a card that has this quote:

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

Live the life you’ve imagined.


I am happy to report that I am almost to the “confidently” part.

Hey Emotions, Good Plan

You know what is a super good plan when you are resigning to pursue your dreams? Cry. Actually the best plan is to cry on and off several times over the course of a few days and also in front of your predominantly male co-workers.


I can seriously not turn off the waterworks today. I know better…I know that I am stupid excited,….. in addition to completely terrified…but, in conjunction with apparently incredibly sad.

Today I am getting to overhear/participate in the discussions of how to hand my work off to others. And I am finding myself super sad and a wee bit full of regret when I am realizing that I will be missing some parts of projects that I was really excited about. I don’t get to finish the Alaska project…I was able to do a really cool part of it, but I don’t get to do the rest of it. And I won’t be here to find out if these efforts result in some big project later on down the road…..although I did tell my boss I will come right back when they open the Anchorage office….to which he said “we will open it right now!”. LOL (I wish!)

So I got weepy about that. Then he pulled me in his office while we attempted to call HR to see if I needed to submit an official letter….so then of course I openly cried. Like almost full-on ugly cry…..to which he responded ‘um cut that shit out! you are going to be fine! you are going to love it and they are going to love you and it is going to be a big love fest’….which of course made me continue to cry.

Then I wrote my letter and cried….and now I am writing this post and crying….basically I am a big mess.

I do not regret my decision to take this new job. To go after “IT”…you know “the dream”. But I am also a big weepy mess….which is fun…..um not.

The Break Up

My boss finally came back to work….and I worked up the courage to tell him. It actually wasn’t so much courage. I basically almost blacked out as I walked into his office and shut the door. I think I was on auto-pilot at that point. He started saying ‘oh no…noo….I don’t want to hear this…what?…what are you about to tell me?’…..basically it was bad. It was terrible….

I told my friends I might develop PTSD from the experience. He said things like ‘could I have done something different?’, ‘did I do something wrong?’…oh god….just thinking about it makes me shiver with sadness.

I realized after it was over (which is hilarious to say because it is nowhere near over yet) that I basically just broke up with my boss. I had the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk. The ‘you are great…but I need to do this for me’. Ugh it just sucks. I was sitting in his office and about 2 second away from saying ‘you know what? forget it, I will just do both! I can do both jobs, who needs sleep? or time with their family? not me!’

Fortunately I didn’t do that. Yesterday I felt like a bag of ass. I wanted to throw up, I wanted to rescind my resignation and just call this whole dream business off. Today has gotten better. I think probably it has to do with my boss having talked to his wife. I love her too and I can just imagine her telling him that this is something he should want for me…..I know that is what I would do if Andy ever came home from a similar day.

I feel terrible still – I think I broke my boss. He left early yesterday and again today. Sort of a desperate need to get away from me maybe….which sucks. But he also put on a good face for me today and started busting my balls. So that is a good sign. But we’ve also decided that he is going through the stages of grief. For example:

  • you can’t leave – resignation denied! there! I can do that. (Anger/Denial)
  • if I can’t have you no one can…I will just strangle you, that’s what I will do (is violence a stage?)
  • well we will just buy that company (is this bargaining?)
  • I am putting out an ad right now for someone to take that job out from under you (Denial again)
  • you can’t divorce me! I am divorcing you!
  • we are not talking
  • hope you have fun crawling around in the lead paint chips and pigeon poop (is ridicule a stage?)
  • do you have Birkenstocks? you will need some (ridicule again)
  • (on the phone with other offices) she is going off to follow her dreams…yeah she went to school for it and has always wanted to do it….but I came back, so she will too (glimmer of acceptance, then back to denial)

No, he teased me a lot today and I genuinely am concerned that I won’t be here to take care of him, but this is probably a healthy thing for me. I can’t sacrifice my dreams because I am worried about letting other people down….I mean I will still worry, but I have to believe that everyone here will be just fine without me……

Today has been better in that we’ve had a lot of fun talking about it, I feel relief in knowing that the telling him part is out-of-the-way, and everyone I’ve told has been genuinely happy for me. It sucks to leave these people.

They are some of the best people I have ever worked with…and if I could take them all with me I totally would. Don’t ask me what a bunch of nerdy pavement engineers are going to do with historic buildings, but I could probably figure out a way to make that work. hahaha.

I am happy…mostly…but part of me is facing the grim reality that in a few weeks I am going to have to walk out of this office and never come back. I want desperately to see these people again. I have already told them all ‘we will still hang out!’….the whole ‘we will still be friends’ statement.

I know better….I will give it a good effort, but I know it won’t sustain forever. At least not with everyone. It sucks to leave part of my village behind.

….Starting to think faking my own death was the way to go with this one.

The Thing About Installing a Toilet….

You might not know this, but I am handy……okay well actually….I guess not handy per se. I am just ambitious. Yes that is more accurate. I don’t believe there is much around the house that I can’t do with proper time spent in a hardware store. That being said, sometimes this involves 3 trips to the hardware store and a stack of items to return once the project is complete. But, in the end, it all boils down to me being handy! So YAY!

We actually got a shit ton of stuff done this weekend. First up was a much-needed and wonderful date day with the doodalood. We pretty much have a date day every Friday between noon and Jack-retrieval time, but this last one was especially fun. This is what happens when we have a “man-themed” date:

Andy's voyageterrifying


I am sure you all have experiences consisting of “an afternoon doing activities my husband picks out”. Well that was it. Good times. And I am not saying that sarcastically. It actually was fun and hilarious.

So our home improvement-related projects last weekend consisted of:

  • finally installing the rest of the DVD racks we bought 2 months ago
  • finally installing the clothes-drying rack I bought 3 months ago
  • re-hanging a door on our utility room cabinet that Andy ripped off with his huge man muscles
  • putting up one of those broom/mop rack thingies to hang your brooms and mops from the wall
  • making some toilet adjustments

When you look at it all together, basically we sound like super-homeowners. Of course when you consider we could have done this stuff right when we bought the parts….we look like lazy-ass homeowners.

So the toilet – I have decided that it would be almost comical if I wrote an article for like Better Homes and Gardens on how to fix toilet problems yourself. But I am feeling like it would be wildly inappropriate to populate the pages of the magazine with pictures of what your toilet really looks like in the areas you can’t clean next to the images of “Fun Fall Cookies!” or “Savory Winter Casseroles”.

Working on your toilet is probably up there on the list of most disgusting things you could do with your hands. And I am a pretty cleanly person. I clean that bitch often and with plenty of bleach. But there is still grossness. Especially when you have to reset your toilet, which is one of the things we did.

When you are standing in the plumbing aisle, looking at a box labeled “wax ring” you are looking at a brand new clean item. It doesn’t really give you an idea of what your eyes will see when they discover the “old wax ring”. But let me just say…you will need gloves. And it is probably best if you have spent the last 22 months of your life changing a child’s diaper, because then, and only then, will you be able to do what you need to do to complete the job.

Basically the toilet issues we had included a slow drip of water constantly running into the bowl from the tank (culprit – worn out pump componentry) and when the plumber came out last time to check our sewer line (which we have done about every two years – YAY for 50+ year old houses!) he didn’t change the wax ring, so the toilet wobbled when you sat down. Both of these things, in my mind, were super-easy-squeezy do-it-yourselfer type things. Which technically they were….but they were also gross.

We removed the toilet….wait! am I writing a do-it-yourself post? in that case:

1) turn off water and flush

2) scoop water in bowl that doesn’t flush using a red dixie cup into a bucket..remember when those red dixie cups were for beer pong? Yeah well now they are for scooping toilet water into a bucket. Welcome to adult-hood

3) go get every old towel you own…hopefully you have like 4 of those…don’t use the nice ones

4)unscrew toilet base and get your husband to help you lift it up and off the screw posts.

Awesome! Now you get to see the grossness! That wax ring is there for a purpose. It basically acts as a moldable washer between the floor flange and the hole in the bottom of your toilet. So basically poop and pee touch that sucker….eeewww!!!!! Basically it doesn’t look like the brand new one you just pulled out of the box. Oh and it is wax and squished down, so you have to not only touch it, but tediously scrape it off the floor flange.

Here’s where those gloves come in handy! Put them suckers on.

5)find a wax scraping tool. In our case, Andy came back down with a NY motorcycle license plate (add that to your list of tools that you need). Also get some of those plastic grocery bags that you shoved in a box under your kitchen sink. You wonder why you save those things? This is why.

The funny part is, that you would think that the thing making this process extra gross is the potential smell. Turns out – it doesn’t smell. Thank the heavens…..well at least our open sewer line didn’t smell….it is probably because our shit doesn’t actually stink. So you can never yell at me “don’t act like your shit don’t stink!” because mine actually doesn’t.

Alright so after you have scraped all that wax crap out using your trusty license plate, seal off the plastic bag of atrocities, and now it is time to install the new one! YAY!

So you kind of have to tip your toilet to the side and stick the new one to the bottom of the bowl and then set it onto the flange…we decided this would be better to do if we removed the tank.

6) remove your tank (you will need your towels for this part too!). Realize the bolts and washers that connect the tank to the bowl are super rusty and it might be worth $4 to replace that hardware and not have to do this type of toilet reconstruction again anytime soon.

7) go back to the hardware store….WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST!!! Even though you were wearing gloves. Still wash the thoughts off your hands.

8) Stop for a small malt. This project burns major calories and you need to replenish and maintain your strength.

9) After and ONLY AFTER you finish your malt, go back to the project.

10) Reset your toilet with the new wax seal. This is easiest to do if your partner holds the bowl up, with you in a “duck and cover” position on the floor between his legs, and you guide it down onto the screw posts…I am just trying to save you guys time by telling you exactly what works.

11) Now the fun part, squish that sucker onto the wax ring! This is accomplished by both you and your “master plumbing” partner leaning, sitting, and wiggling the bowl downward to get that wax sucker to mold into the perfect seal position. Again it is best if you are still kneeling on the floor between his legs…don’t ask me why this is best, just take my word for it.

12) Screw the base back in. I don’t know why the screw posts are 4 inches long when all you need is 1/2″ probably so your toddler can stab themselves in the eye with them later, but putting the nuts (hahah nuts) back on will take you a good 20 minutes. Once they are hand tightened, carefully tighten them down using a wrench (look real tools!). Not too tight, as the directions warrant….also WTF does “not too tight” mean? Who knows? You just need to use those years of plumbing know-how to tell you when you’ve reached that point.

Woohooo!!! You’re half-way done! Not to mention all the way done with the gross part.

The tank pump.

13) Have a short argument/discussion with your master plumbing partner as to whether it is better to install the new pump while the tank is still detached or after it has been reattached to the bowl. Then go with his suggestion of reattaching it and let him realize how wrong he was when he is crouched down trying to screw the plastic nut (hahah nut) in on the bottom of the tank later. Note to self – you are always right.

14) Uninstall the old pump parts and reconnect the tank to the bowl with your new bolts and rubber washers. Ahhh shiny and new!

15) Let your master plumbing partner install the new pump parts and crouch under and behind the tank to screw on the plastic nut (hahah nut). Go upstairs and get a drink of water and smile at yourself knowing that he made it harder.

16) Come back downstairs to oversee the reattachment of the water line and turn on the water.

VOILA!!! you have now fixed your toilet! Hope you’ve enjoyed this how-to-pretend-you-are-actually-a-plumber guide to fixing a few toilet problems! Happy plumbing everyone!

(Pictures not taken because that would be fucking disgusting!)

Alrighty Then

I can be such a worry wart. It really doesn’t suit me well. I feel like the best place for me is to either be in action or to be content with inaction….did anyone just catch how confusing that is? in action vs. inaction. Such a silly language we speak/write.

I always thrive on information, which is why I usually ask friends, family, coworkers, etc. a bazillion questions about things. Thus the question of the past experiences of you all with putting in notice.

Turns out, I didn’t even need advice. Silly me. Apparently my boss decided when exactly I would be giving my notice by being on vacation for another week and a half. Putting him in the office smack-dab before exactly 3 weeks from NJ-day (New Job Day…or New Jersey Day, which ever you prefer). Alrighty then, I guess I won’t worry about whether 4 weeks or 3 weeks is better, I will go with 3, since it has been decided for me. I think that is best anyway. I have some serious tasks to get done in the next week and a half. Once those are out of the way, I will be in a better position to pass off my projects anyway…thus hopefully buffering the blow to my boss.

Each day I am faced with the challenge of balancing excitement and terror….okay well maybe terror is a bad term. I am trying to embrace the calm side of my brain that trusts everything will work out. That yes, there are unknowns, but it isn’t anything that can’t be overcome. And eventually those unknowns will be known…..why can’t I be more fluid about the unknown? Oh that’s right because I am a freakish controlly planner….yes controlly is a word now.

I am ready though. I am ready to drastically increase my quality of life. And I do plan on making it drastic. I am already busy brainstorming money-saving fun activities that we can do to fill our life with joy and wonder. I pulled out the hiking backpack a couple of days ago and adjusted it for Jack’s current size. He loved being in it. We were just in the living room, but he didn’t want to get out of it. So he spent a good 20 minutes just watching TV in the hiking backpack.

I checked out a book on Colorado snowshoeing trails and am going to check on snowshoe rentals at REI. Andy is heading out of town next weekend, but I have decided the weekend after is the perfect time to try out a new family sport.

I have been brainstorming ways to involve Jack in winter sports. I have been told by a couple of people that they started skiing at the age of 2. I am just not sure if I am ready to try that out. The ski area I frequent lets kids ski free under 6, so I am 1/2 tempted to try it out once this year, just to see where he is coordination-wise.

And I have also seriously contemplated wearing him on my back when I go skiing. My only fear there is that the pack will totally change my balance, and I tend to fall way more now that I telemark (because I start feeling like super good at it and get too cocky and then faceplant). Faceplanting is okay when it is just you and your bones you have to worry about. But I want Jack to love the outdoors, so perhaps dumping him into the snow repeatedly would detract from that? Who knows though, he could effing love it.

I think when I go up sometime I will check with the staff at the resort and see what their policy is on bringing kids in backpacks up on the lift line…..who knows. But in the meantime, snowshoeing seems like the best winter sport whilst wearing your child in a pack! So snowshoeing it is! With peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot chocolate. Better quality of life on order.