Posts from the ‘Life’ Category

From one story to another

You have no doubt wondered where I have been these many weeks. Indeed, I’ve been quite a number of places and have traveled far, physically and personally. In November, DH and I packed a truck and moved from Colorado to Maryland so I could start my new job. As you can imagine, this has been a pretty busy  and significant time for us, so you are probably sympathetic to my lack of posting. However, something else has been afoot.

When I began this blog nearly two years ago now (so hard to believe!), I was sitting at the beginning of the end. I could see the faint glimmer of the end of a long journey, and over the next year and a half you walked with me during some dim and discouraging days toward the bright future ahead. Now that I’ve come through the graduation process and earned my degree, I’m ready to start a new phase in life.

I’ve spent a really long contemplating this. Since this is the beginning and no longer the end, I have ultimately decided that it’s time to transition from this story to another. Therefore, it is my pleasure to announce to you a new blog chronicling my journey in a new place with a new job.

The Taylor Approximation is now where I will reside in the blogosphere. It’s still me and my story, just with a new storyline related to my new life as a “grown-up.” 😉

I won’t be taking End of the Fiber down, at least not at the moment. However, if you are currently following me here and would like to keep following on the new blog, I encourage you to sign up over there to receive my latest updates as I will probably not be adding new content here.

Thank you all for sharing this journey with me, and I hope you’ll come share in the new goings-on over at The Taylor Approximation!

 

 

Hello Thirty-One

My birthday was on Sunday, just a couple of days ago. I turned 31, which doesn’t seem like a particularly remarkable age. I already did the big three-oh last year, so now I’m just glad that I’ll be in the low end of a decade for a few more years before ruing the onset of the forties. It is a prime number, which is kind of interesting, but that’s pretty much it.

I really love birthdays; it always feels like such a special day to me, one that only happens once a year and must be savored due to its infrequency. This year was a little bit different, though. With so much going on and being so busy, it was a little hard to remember it was coming up and to ramp up the excitement for it. By popular demand, I did decide to have my signature birthday party again this year. While it was a bit of work to pull a party together in the midst of packing and moving, it did finally draw attention to the fact my birthday was coming up and helped me finally get into the spirit.

The “Slash Bash,” a devastatingly clever name born out of inadvertent punctuation, is a birthday party/fall festival/masquerade ball that I’ve thrown every year or so for the last ten years. In fact, I believe 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the first Slash Bash I had back in college. The attendees have changed throughout the years, but it’s always been a fun time to celebrate with my friends. This year it was also a bit of a going-away party, too. I wanted to thank my friends for the years of friendship and wish them well as we move onto a new chapter in our lives.

While there might not be that much that’s notable about turning 31 in general, there is indeed one notable thing about this year. It was ten years ago, around the time of the first Slash Bash, that DH and I got together. While we’d known each other for a couple of years through our campus ministry, it wasn’t until the end of our Sophomore year that we started talking more. We both stayed in town for the summer doing various things before the semester started, and we got to know each other a bit better during a summer Bible study. Then when Junior year started, we began spending a lot more time together.

I remember him helping me with decorations and such for the Slash Bash at the end of October before my birthday. We were hanging out a lot; it seemed ridiculously obvious that we liked each other. But we weren’t going out on dates or anything, just hanging out a lot, so that made it less definitive to determine if our relationship had changed into something else. I suppose we were both a little shy to talk about it, but finally when he kissed me for the first time, it seemed pretty evident where things were going. :p  That was probably the best birthday present ever.

Except the pair of flaming Vans I got that year. Those were ridiculously awesome, too.

Happy “Anniversary,” BT3. May God allow us many, many more.

Some other beginning’s end

After a two-and-a-half hour march across Paris from the Latin Quarter to Pont de Grenelle, just south of the Eiffel Tower, I was absolutely exhausted. It was our last night in Paris, and DH wanted to see the replica of the Statue of Liberty that stands on the tip of a small island in the Seine. But after six days of walking around the City of Lights, my back and feet were relieved to plop down on a rail by the quay as he took some nice dusky pictures of the stature.

I idly pulled my smartphone out of my purse; we weren’t paying for cell or data coverage here, so I was relying on wireless internet during our trip to connect with the world back home. Our apartment rental came with free access to a city-wide wifi network, but it was a long shot that there would be a wifi hotspot here. However, I was in luck. I connected and proceeded to download something like twenty emails, mostly junk mail and advertisements. However, one message caught my eye.

It was an email automatically generated from the same automated online system I had used nearly two months before to apply to one of the jobs for which I had interviewed in August. Evidently it was news of some kind about my application. I opened it and quickly scrolled through; after many uninformative and irrelevant words I saw the ones that mattered: “You were not selected for this position.”

Halfway through our European trip was not the time to fret about life-altering decisions and revelations. After a few minutes of absorbing the news, I stood up, dusted myself off, and walked to the nearest metro stop. I thought about jobs I might apply for when we got home; we pondered the possibility of living on one income for the foreseeable future. We settled the matter in our minds and proceeded to enjoy the second half of our European trip.

One week later, after 11 hours on a trans-Atlantic flight from Rome to Charlotte, NC, I eagerly turned my phone on to access domestic cellular and data for the first time since we left. I knew my parents would want to know we were back in the states, especially since they were picking us up at the airport when we made it back to Denver. However, what download to my phone was not a voice mail from a friend or family member, but one from the very same job that, one week earlier, I was told I did not get.

All I can figure is that there was some strange goof in the automated system. The voice mail, from that very same morning while I was in the air over the Atlantic, was from a real, honest-to-goodness human being offering me the job. So, with American soil under our feet for a mere two minutes, all of our resolutions and Plan B’s were completely erased and all of a sudden I was faced with a monumental life decision.

It was too late to respond that day, which was just fine. I still had customs and immigration, another flight, and the drive home to process what was even going on. When I called back the next morning–exhausted, jet-lagged, fighting a cold–she reiterated what she stated in the voice mail and gave me until the end of the following day to make my decision.

It may seem like a short turn-around, but in reality there wasn’t that much more to think about. All the time I was applying for the job, talking to them over the phone, going there in person to interview, I was formulating the answer to the question “what if.” All the time I was waiting for their decision I was determining what I would say if they offered. I knew what my answer was going to be. I didn’t need the time to decide, only to find the courage to accept the truth of my decision in my heart.

I know it sounds ridiculous that I could know I made the right choice, know that I had peace about the choice, yet still sob into DH’s shoulder for a long time after I returned her call to let her know my decision. I knew it was the right choice, but the repercussions of it were so significant. I knew I was grieving for what I’d be leaving behind; I was terrified for the new that was to come; I was unsure of all we’d now have to do to get there.

But I knew that I was taking the job and that we were moving to Washington, DC.

After the end of the fiber, a journey I started eight years ago was now complete and another beginning.

************

Closing time…every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Four weddings and two funerals….and a baby shower

Well hello there. I guess it’s been a few days since my last post. Evidently being unemployed keeps me incredibly busy. :p

It’s been just over two weeks since I started my time off. Since then I have, among other things, done some projects around the house, taken the dog on some walks, planned a tentative vacation itinerary, gone out of town for a job interview, prepared a talk for said interview, made travel arrangements for another out-of-town interview, done some running/exercising, made a trip into the city to donate some stuff to a school for a friend, and made two apple pies. Among other things. I have had absolutely no trouble filling my days with activities. But some of the biggest events that I have been involved with these last few weeks were weddings, funerals, and a baby shower.

Earlier in my twenties, I entered a time of life that I called the “Wedding Bell Curve.” At first I knew a few people getting married early in college; this quickly escalated into a number of years of peak wedding activity, including my own, but has tapered off as I’ve entered my thirties. Now I have entered a new time of life that is the “Baby Bell Curve.” This is what one might call an occupational hazard of the first activity. Needless to say, this logically follows the previous statistical curve, and I am currently in the baby peak and in the far tail of weddings.

However, this summer there has been a statistically significant perturbation of the wedding curve. There have been four weddings this summer in our church, and I’ve been to three of them, plus three wedding showers. Two of these weddings have been since I have finished my job, and I’ve been a little bit involved in both of them. I was asked to play violin during one service, and DH did the AV for the second one this last weekend, which lead to me helping with some sound and video setup before the service. While this was minimal involvement, getting ready for a wedding and partying afterward was still tiring work!

However, this was quite a juxtaposition to the other two events that I have helped with recently. Early last week, we had a funeral at church for my friend’s mom, who was still quite young but passed away due to some health problems. Her memorial service was at our church, and I was able to actually come help with food for the reception afterwards, something I was never able to do previously. Then another gentleman, one of the founding members of our church, passed away Sunday. He would have been 92 next month, and he certainly left an amazing legacy of service to society and to the Lord. I just came home from his service a few minutes ago. After these experiences, I really appreciate the hard work of the men and women who normally do this; it’s quite a task to serve that many people after a funeral, but it’s incredibly appreciated by the friends and families. While I’m glad I got to help alleviate some of that burden this month, I’m quite tired now! It’s also emotionally taxing, even if you aren’t that close to the person, maybe a couple of degrees removed. I remember that you can’t take life for granted and I appreciate the time I do have with people now. I also empathize with the families going through this time of grief.

However, I can’t sit on my laurels and blog the rest of the day. While weddings have abounded this summer and life on this earth has run its natural course for a couple of individuals recently, new life still begins every day. So tonight we’re getting together again to celebrate a new baby due in a couple of months for a girl in our church. Finally, another baby shower! I am helping with the set-up, so I’ll need to leave again before too long. But it’s been such an interesting summer–particularly an interesting two weeks–celebrating life and death and new life together that I knew I wanted to formally formulate a few thoughts about them and share them here.

I’m certain God has let me experience all these things at this particular time in my life for some reason or reasons, and hopefully I’ll be able to appreciate what He’s taught me now or later or both. I am, after all, at a critical point in my life story as well. Maybe He’s giving me some precious perspective about life in general and how the choices I make now will influence the course of my days from now on. It’s not just about what job I’m doing or where I am living but how I live in my life situation, what legacy I might leave behind when my days are done. My time in school has prepared me to begin a “real” career now; likewise, I may one day soon enter my own “baby bell curve” and start a family. Plus, the time I have invested in my relationship with God and learning about serving Him in this previous era of my life will equip me to go forward to advance His kingdom in ways only He could conceive. Whatever the next step, it will be a big change, but hopefully one I am prepared to take…one step at a time.

Goodbye…….?

Yesterday was my last day at work, and thus my entire graduate career has come full circle and ended.

When I drove into work yesterday, I had all sorts of emotions simmering softly inside me. I didn’t quite know what to expect the day to be like, if it would feel monumental every moment, if every thing I did for the last time would seem significant. I suppose that, in the end, I knew everything was the last time, but it wasn’t so overwhelming, sort of like I had already accepted the situation mentally and spiritually and was ready to say goodbye and move on to the next step.

It was a little more difficult to say goodbye to people. Most of the folks I work with were valued colleagues but not super close friends. I’ll miss them, but I’ll likely see some of them again in passing if we stay in the same field. However, since we didn’t “hang out” as friends outside of work, those relationships are a little bit easier to surrender. It’s the people with whom I have become close friends with that are hard to leave behind, especially when I might be moving away and can’t even hang out with them outside of work, either. This isn’t anything new in life, though; these days, our culture almost guarantees that life move us or the other people around. Few people stay in one place with the same people all their lives anymore. I’ve said goodbye to friends in high school, college, and throughout grad school. It’s a fact I have somewhat come to accept now, though it is still hard.

My boss always gives departing members a consolation prize–I mean–a parting gift. This gift is almost always the same, and it comes from the same store–the one under the stairs in the lobby of the building. So at least I was sent off in style with a little science swag. You can’t tell in the picture, but that mug is ridiculously huge, by the way.

Having moved fairly often as a kid (always the same town, just to new houses since my parents were contractors on the side), I’m quite familiar with the feeling of vacating a space. I like to walk around a house or apartment or building that I won’t enter into again to soak it up one last time before I leave. NIST is a big, sprawling building, not including the new building that was just completed a few months ago. I didn’t go everywhere all the time, but after seven years I had tasks that took me to nearly every part of the building at least once. In my rounds to say goodbye to everyone, I traversed these hallways one last time. I also said goodbye to my office–dirty, industrial cinder block walls, windows that don’t close, watermarks down the wall from leaks, scuffed floors, dusty blinds, dangling cables and frayed cords. My officemates will soon be moving to new digs in the new building, too, so I don’t even know who will reside in that old office anymore. Hopefully they won’t have to suffer there too long. 😉

I said my goodbyes, got my affairs in order, and left. That morning I came to work expecting to maybe never come back again. What I was not expecting on my last day was to have an email forwarded to my inbox by my boss–a job announcement for a post doc opening in the very same division doing something very interesting. To not have to move, to continue working at a place I love…that’s quite big. When I came to work yesterday I did not expect to be doing what amounted to be an interview with an acquaintance about a possible job. Obviously, this is still very new, and I also have my current prospects to attend to first, but when I came to work yesterday I entered with a sense of finality and left with somewhat of a quandary. I was prepared to make a clean break, but now I still have a lingering possibility of going back. That makes it a little more complicated emotionally. Like I said, this is all very fresh, and it’s possible it won’t even come to fruition, but now there is some cord still binding me there which doesn’t allow me to sever ties completely yet. But, for all intents and purposes regarding my job, it is finished.

So, NIST, this is goodbye. For now. Farewell, and thanks for seven great years.

 

One week and an update

One week from today…that’s all I have left at my current job. It’s amazing how fast and yet how slow the last couple of months have gone. I finally have gotten most of my measurements done; I plan on going over my results with my colleagues tomorrow, and I really, really hope they don’t have any other major things I need to measure to wrap things up. Though, even if they do I guess it’s okay since everything is up and running at the moment. I want to be done, but I also want it to be complete before I move on.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the two jobs I’ve been interviewing for, though at this point dragging out the process and delaying actually having to make life-changing decisions is just fine with me! I also just submitted another job application today. The job announcement was forwarded to me as a group email yesterday, and I thought about it overnight. When I came to work today, I found that my boss had independently printed it out and put it on my desk for my consideration. I took that as a sign to just go ahead, so I filled out all that stuff today. We’ll see how that goes, especially as those other two opportunities simmer on the back burner until time to deal with them.

I’ve also been working on the July challenge of trying four new recipes this month to spice up my inspiration in the kitchen. Challenge aside, I’ve been more motivated about cooking in general, which is a relief, though I am still struggling to stay as organized as I used to be. I imagine that once next week rolls around and I’m unemployed, I’ll actually have more time to be creative, too.

The challenge so far has been interesting in that, of the three recipes I have tried so far, all three of them I have approached with a significant amount of skepticism. For all of them, I have experienced the exact same sensation when sitting down to eat it–an odd expression comes over my face as I wonder how on earth this is gong to turn out, and I do not look forward to trying it at all. It’s very strange how I have managed to pick recipes that all elicit this sort of response.

If you recall, I recounted my experience with Recipe #1, chicken tikka masala, in the original post. It was okay at first and I wasn’t really sure how I would rate the dish, but I have to say it was one of those dishes that did improve as leftovers; I guess the spices really had time to mingle and incorporate. So it ultimately turned out to be a success and there was no hesitant facial expression when eating it again!

I also said that I intended to try sweet potato and black bean tacos for Recipe #2. Same facial expression, similar response upon first taste. It’s okay…nothing wrong with it, but I was just inherently skeptical about sweet potato and black beans together inside of a tortilla. DH said it was good, and it certainly was fine, but for leftovers I just ate the potatoes and beans alone instead of done up taco style. I can’t say the combination was one I will repeat in the future.

I decided that for Recipe #3 I would take advantage of the abundance of Swiss chard I have in my garden. I’ve heard so many people say they love sauteed greens, so I thought I should give it a try. Now, despite the irony that I have a green smoothie and a salad for breakfast and lunch every single day, I really don’t like greens that much, especially not on their own. But since sauteed chard comes so highly recommended, I decided I needed to give it a try. Same facial expression when I sat down yesterday, and this time I seriously for real didn’t like it. For one, I had used too much garlic and onion to season it and it was overwhelming to me. Moreover, I just didn’t care for the flavor of the greens (what little I could taste through the seasoning!). DH said it was fine, but in the end I was glad I didn’t make more than two servings of it.

I’ve decided that for my final recipe, I need to try something that I’m actually looking forward to trying. This might require being slightly less healthy than these other three dishes. Maybe more carbs and fat and less veggies? 😉 I did see a risotto recipe a few weeks ago that looked so creamy and delectable…

It was a dark and stormy night…

DH and I took a tour of Wind Cave while we were in South Dakota a couple of weeks ago. While on the tour, our guide performed a very standard cave tour ritual–our whole group sat on a row of benches, and she turned all the built-in lighting off. There you sit, hundreds of feet underground in total darkness and silence; no stray beam of natural light could make its way to you there. Our guide then pointed out that the first cave explorers did so by the mere glow of lantern light. She demonstrated with an actual candle in a lantern…it was not very bright at all but gave off an eerie glow across the rock formations on the walls and ceiling of the cave.

Last night I cam home from an exercise class around 9 p.m. It had been raining on and off all afternoon and evening with the occasional burst of lightening around the sky. I pulled into the driveway, mashing on the garage door opener to no avail. I supposed the battery must have died, so I hopped out of my car to try the remote keypad mounted to the side of the garage door. Nada. I wasn’t sure what the deal was, so I just parked in the driveway and went inside.

I quickly figured out what what going on…the electricity was out. The appliances were off and, the light switches did nothing. I scrounged around for some flashlights and dug out a pile of candles to light in the kitchen. After determining it wasn’t just a breaker on our house, I called the power company to report the outage. I assumed it was related to the storms going on, but I wasn’t sure. An automated message said they estimated the power to return just after midnight. There was no real point it waiting up just to see the lights come back on, so I got ready for bed by candlelight, then snuggled on the couch with the dog and a book for a bit of reading before heading to bed.

Having no electricity for the evening reminded me of being in the cave. No light to be had other than some small, flickering tongues of flame, the harsh white light of an LED flashlight, or the glow of my telephone screen. And with all the appliances and electronics off, it was eerily quiet. It’s amazing how accustomed we are to the electric hum that’s constantly around us 24/7.

Unfortunately, this also meant the dog could now hear every molecule banging together in the air, and he felt the need to bark at every little whisper of something he heard. I’m sure this was exacerbated by the fact that he knew DH was gone and that it was just a little eerie with the lights off. Well, at least he’s, presumably, a good guard dog, right?

It was dark and quiet when I went to bed, but it was bright and humming when I woke up this morning. I’m thankful that if the electricity had to go off, it at least picked a cool summer night when nothing really was going on instead of a cold day when I was dependent on heat (we don’t have a fireplace, gas or wood, in the house) or an evening when we had a lot of people over. Either way, it’s kind of nice to know you can get by unplugged if needed, at least for a little while. I felt slightly helpless for a few moments, then I realized I could manage just fine. The biggest inconvenience was not being able to see, though I mostly remedied that by candlelight. Long term, though, we depend on it for keeping and cooking food, for washing clothes, heating water, and other basic tasks required for modern convenience. A lot more planning and preparedness would be required to do without electricity for a longer period of time. I mean, people did this for millenia and managed just fine; you just have to get used to it.

Either way, an evening of books by candlelight wasn’t so bad, actually.