Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ladies and Good Ol' Boys

She paused abruptly while taking the dishes from the dishwasher and placing them back in the cupboards. She had been hit with a little glimmer of horror and satisfaction all at once and smirked as she presented herself into the dining room and announced, "You know, I just realized in some sort of way it was probably completely inappropriate for me to be discussing gun control with you and the guys last night."

Her husband looked quizzically at his wife. "Why would you say that?"

"All the women were in another corner talking about decorating their houses and Magic Mike and it was like I completely didn't fit in with them. I mean, did you not pick up on how the women were all so proper and in their own world?"

Her husband didn't notice then, nor did he care to try to remember. To him, it was unimportant. He just exclaimed, "Well, I think we've worked our way into the 'good-ol'-boys' club!"

She gave her usual grimace, the one that she would say meant she was fine, but really meant thoughts were brewing in her head. She knew those women she tried so hard to fit in with, who spent a good part of dinner discussing their weddings, the joys of Pintrest, and all their favorite southern hot-spots didn’t welcome her into their elitist clique.

"My husband and I got married in a court house and shot machine guns on our wedding day," elicited looks of pity and disgust.

"Bless your heart," they agreed. She had been in the south long enough to know this was a condescending insult on their part. It was them saying something that sounded like they cared, but really, they didn’t.

Even trying to gain their acceptance resulted in failure.

"It's just such a cute photo, but I can't possibly put it up because of his booger nose," one lady complained, in regards to a sweet photo of her son with a runny nose.

She, on the other hand, wouldn’t hesitate to put up a grotesque photo if it captured the essence of a beautiful moment. Yet she tried again to wedge her way into their clique, "I can photoshop that out if you want. I can do that..."

The ladies looked at her, almost interested for a minute, but could see through her desperate attempt for acceptance. The hostess changed the subject to complain about a scuff of paint on a walkway that wasn't even noticeable until they pointed it out. At this point, she no longer cared about anything they had to say. All they did was complain about their perfect lives. How a backyard wedding was completely unacceptable, and they didn't have enough in the budget to do a better venue so they would need to wait another year. How the wreath they made from a Pintrest post wasn't good enough because they ran out of burlap. How they didn't have any more paint to cover the scuff that was on the walk way no one would even see if they didn't bring it up in the first place. How they had so much, but it still wasn't enough. “This,” she thought, “is what it is like to be a southern lady?

Yet she was no southern woman. She was a westerner. No matter how hard she tried, she would never be like them. She just didn’t have it in her to be so petty. She found more welcome talking to their husbands along with the company of her own husband. She did everything a southern lady was not to do: fraternizing with the men, drinking liquor and beer, and discussing politics. This made her even more of an outsider to the southern ladies she was trying so hard to impress.

It was then, at that moment, when she drank another beer with her husband and the men, she realized she would rather be a happily married westerner who would never fit into the world of the miserable southern ladies. She wondered, however, if her actions would result in her husband being ostracized from the good-ol'-boys club. Even though the men chatted with her and her husband, at the end of the day, they would most likely have account to their wives, who would criticize how improper it was of her and how her husband shouldn’t allow his wife to act as she did.

Of course, at the end of the day, those men would never hold it against her. Unlike her husband, she was one of the good-ol'-boys. She knew some other men who were friends with the husbands of those women. She knew of many stories that would truly give those women something to complain about. And the husbands of those catty southern women knew this.

She looked at her husband triumphantly. Her hair was completely out of place, her face was greasy, yet she proudly declared, "Yes, dear, we've made it. We are officially good-ol'-boys."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Daunting Task of Buying A Home

In this lovely year of change, we have seen our luck turn around drastically and we are in the situation where we are finally able to get in on the daunting task of home buying. Having rented for the past 5 years, we are very eager to find that place we can call home. Not that we haven't made each little place we rented our home, but we long to find that place we can call ours. There is nothing more sole crushing than giving someone a large chunk of money for something you will never own.

This week, after speaking with a lender about our options, we started looking for things in our price range. We set $110,000 as our limit because we don't really want to pay more than $850 a month after all is said and done. That would give us wiggle room for higher utilities, as well. So we found a few properties we found some interest in. They have most of what we're looking for, and that is a huge plus.

My list of desires include a spacious kitchen, older house with character (crown molding, fun floor plans, things of the sort), a separate area for washer/dryer (could be a room, closet, or in a garage, just as long as it's not out in the open somewhere), electric stove and gas heat, nice residential area, close to schools and shopping, fenced yard, and a fireplace would be a plus, but not necessary.

Jesse's list more includes a shed or garage, brick house, copper plumbing, up to date electrical, and probably a lot of stuff I want as well.

Charlie even has requirements! He says we need a fireplace so Santa can come in and a playground in the yard for kids (a swing set.)

Of the six houses we looked at, two were big fat "nos", one was filled with so much of the residents' crap I couldn't figure out what the house looked like and we just were too distracted by that we didn't even care anymore, then there were the three "love its". Those are the ones that jump out at us for various reasons.

The first is in a nice little suburb by Charlie's school. It's a brick veneer 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom with a giant kitchen and fireplace. I adore the color scheme inside the house with it's pea green walls and sandy brown carpet. Jesse and I agreed we could take the paint off and stain the wood paneling wall in the living room since that is something he's big on. There is a gorgeous fireplace and a big back yard and just so many things I love about the house, especially the neighborhood.

The next one is one subdivision over from that house and is what I would call the Teague Plantation for sure if we lived there. On a half acre of land, this 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house has a sun porch, detached garage, and a view of a lake from the back yard. Obviously a little too much land for us to maintain, it is a gorgeous historic house from the 40's with hardwood floors throughout, but definitely a contender in the list of choices.

The last one is around Lakebottom. It's a typical older brick home with a really neat floor plan on a sloped lot. There is a garage under the house and like the other two, it also has a big porch. I loved the glass windows on the cupboards where you can see the cups and dishes inside. It truly had an old south look to it and there was a lot about that place we loved.

I never really imagined home shopping would be such a daunting task in terms of narrowing down choices. I mean, it is very obvious to find the ones you don't like, but narrowing down the ones you do like to pick THE one is just unbearable at times. I could easily see us in any one of those three houses. I just try to imagine us and all our furniture inside. What would we be like? How would it look? Where would we put photos and pictures on the walls and in which rooms? Would we put the piano in the dining room like it is now or in another area? There is just so much to think about! Especially since we have some pretty nice options to choose from.

It's funny because I always thought when we got to buying a home, the hardest part would be the loan. Apparently I was wrong. The hardest part isn't the money. It's figuring out where you want to see yourself growing old and raising your family. Unlike buying a car, you are shopping for your creature comforts, practicality, and picking who you want for your neighbors and which schools your child will go to and what grocery stores you will shop at. Things that once seemed like trivial problems are now big ones. Frankly, if these are my biggest problem in home shopping, I think I'm doing OK.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago, I ran my first half marathon. It was while I was training for Los Angeles and I finished around 2:45:00. A few months later, I ran my firs Marathon, which was not very good time-wise, but it was more of a personal goal to finish, and in that aspect, I was successful.

In November, I did the Soldier Half Marathon and my goal was to beat my last recorded half marathon time. I succeeded and came in around 2:40:00, although my chip time was closer to 2:38:00.

I was reluctant to wake up this morning. I thought, "Maybe I should just sleep in and rest today." After all, I was convinced the fact I didn't show up as being registered was a bad omen and fate's way of telling me I was not supposed to run today. Of course, I woke up anyway and thought I would just do the run at a comfortable pace and finish when I finish.

The only people I saw at the race were the faster runners. I figured I would run with them at first and taper to where I belong later. But something interesting happened. I stayed with them most of the race. It wasn't until the last few miles they picked up their pace on their way to the finish and I did my usual slowing down the last three miles. I had to change my intervals the last half mile due to a pain I get in my left foot on long runs.

Somewhere around half way through, I determined I wanted to come in at 2:30:00. If I did, this would be a huge PR for me and even at that last half mile, I knew I would be nailing that record time for myself. I really cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the Galloway program director, Shelly Dinkin, for making sure I hit my goal. If it weren't for her, I would have succumbed to the pain in my foot and walked more, happily accepting a time over 2:35:00. But Shelly came back and ran with me to the finish and I credit her with my achievement. She truly shined as my coach today.

By God, a 15 minute improvement in a race time is the most wonderful feeling in the world. Maybe it's the endorphines from the so-called runner's high, or that sense of accomplishment, but the feelings of joy and victory I feel outweigh the pain in my left foot.

I have spent a lot of time training and have seen the benefits of my work in action. From weight loss, increased energy, better moods, and of course faster finish times, I can say running is one of the most beneficial things a person can do to improve their life. All the runs before the sun comes up, training in the hot and cold, sprinting at inclines on treadmills, have paid off. As with all things in life, rewards do not come without hard work and dedication. I look forward to running again next year and hopefully coming in below 2:30:00. I know I have it in me to be a faster runner.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Resolutions

Well, it's that time of the year again. I guess I should make some realistic resolutions so I accomplish them and feel somewhat successful.

1. Read more. Goal: start and finish at least 5 extracurricular books this year. I have the problem of starting a book and never finishing it because other things come up. I'd like to at least finish 5 books this year. I know I can accomplish this. Extracurricular books include books not pertaining to things that are applicable to school or work, but simply for pure enjoyment or personal enrichment.

2. Lose 5 lbs. I know I can do this. So yeah, if I lose 5 lbs over the course of this year, I'll feel good. Current weight as of the beginning of 2013 this morning was 163.3. If I make it to 158.3 at any point this year, I win. More is better.

3. Pay off one debt. Our old apartment lease we broke when we moved will most likely get paid off this year, so I know I'll accomplish that.

Moral of story: set realistic goals, achieve them, feel good, set yourself up for more grandiose goals for the future. Baby steps.