Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I know, I know

So...
If I hadn't noticed the lack of blogging today...I'd have missed November altogether.
I just re-read my last post...the one with the list of projects I planned to accomplish during my stay-cation. Pretty sure you know where this is headed, but I really didn't accomplish any of them.
Now I'm staring down the barrel of a Christmas Eve dinner for approximately 22 family members on my father's side and I have to find a renewed sense of productivity or my guests will be sitting on each other's laps.
Sigh.
More on that later. If I get into it too much right now, I might have that much-talked-about aneurysm.
Speaking of aneurysms, I've had dreams almost every night for about a week about my ex boyfriend, and where in the world that stuff is coming from is beyond me.
But, I'm honest enough with myself to admit that I miss him. A lot. I've been hearing a lot of music on the radio lately that I used to listen to him perform live, and each time it gives me this little bzzzzing shock in the deep, dark bottom of my heart. Damn him for being so perfect for me in almost every way, except for the one little way that he just refused to be good.
My November was such a screwy mess of days and nights, it's hard to wrap my mind around the idea that it was all one month.
It went kind of like this: hockey, work, vacation days, holiday, hockey, work, Lutherlyn retreat (more on this later), my nephew Ethan (the 27-pound 9 month old), working on my portfolio, finishing my office, clearing the flower garden for winter, dreaming about J, hockey, work, family, friends, phone tag, work, writing, reading, work, hockey, football, scrimping and saving, planning for M's return home next month, planning for xmas eve, contemplating -- though not buying -- xmas gifts, seeking addresses, taking photos, work, writing and hockey.
I should just do a blog a week just like that list, sort of a hodge-podge list of nonsense.
I'm going to do a better blog soon, very soon, of my Lutherlyn retreat and building my portfolio complete with pics.
I'm also going to try to blog my way through preparing for my first Christmas in a home that's mine all mine...*hint* it started with a 50% off sale last night...pics to follow.
Thanks for following this single gal's journey into life as a homeowner,
~kll

Sunday, October 24, 2010

vacation

My 'vacation' started Friday after working an event at the arena.
I have to work a bit from home tomorrow, that's just the price of not wanting to go crazy last week. Some things just can't be done ahead of time -- this is a newspaper after all. I'm going to try to get the 'work' stuff done very early tomorrow so the rest of the week can truly belong to me, but we'll see.
This is a working vacation anyway. I have, have, have to cross some house projects off of my to-do list or I'll never get finished! Ever!
Finishing the office is priority number one. I'm almost there...almost!!
#2 paint the unpainted hallway, touch up paint throughout the house, and finish the doorways.
#3 clean the basement, build the shelves, organize a storage area.
#4 have carpets and vents cleaned.
This list is probably done more linearly as opposed to in actual order of priority. I guess it's probably more honest to say that my goal is to get the carpets cleaned and the items on the list leading up to that will make #4 easier to achieve.

The work in my office would probably be easier if I weren't so obsessed with shredding documents. Thus-far, I have not fallen victim to identity theft and I'm not sure if it has anything to do with my obsessive shredding, but I can't stop now. The only thing I wish I could change about the shredding is that I wish I were some kind of crafty lady who had something to put all of this shredded paper to some kind of good use. If anyone knows someone who could used shredded paper in some kind of constructive way, please let me know!
I'm no environmentalist, ask my sister and she'll roll her eyes at the idea of me as an environmentalist, but I deeply want to be in that club. At best, I'm an associate member at this point.
I have always been very energy conscious. I don't leave lights on. I bought only energy-saving light bulbs for the house, I just bought a drying rack and am going to try to eliminate using my dryer, my furnace isn't on yet, though I am using an electric blanket on low at night.
A lot of that has to do with how frugal I am...but I do appreciate the environmental benefits.
I used recycled rubber mulch in my garden. When my tub faucet was leaking, I collected the water each day and used it on my plants. I only use cold water in my washing machine and use cold water detergent.
I switched beers to purchase only clear-glass bottles so I can recycle them -- my city doesn't allow colored-glass recycling. I go through a lot of paper in my day job, but I just can't throw it all away. I stopped using post-its and have taken to saving and cutting up old sheets of paper from things I've either had to print out or faxed items to use the paper again for phone messages, shopping lists, etc. I've even manufactured little notebooks out of the used pages and used them to take notes during meetings. Trying to lower the amount of paper I consume is something I'm very, very mindful of.
I'm going to Camp Lutherlyn next month, where I went as a child and worked as a teen/young adult. They have these fantastic getaway weekends for folks who have projects who they haven't had time to finish. Most of the women are working on quilting or other crafty items. Two years ago I went and spent my time putting all of my photos into photo albums. It took nearly all four days to organize the pictures into categories and then to slip them into various albums. I had intended to put my newspaper clippings into a portfolio/scrapbook during that weekend and to write at least a chapter or two of the book I'm writing. I wrote one chapter and made zero progress on the scrapbook/portfolio. Two years later, I'm have two additional years worth of articles and not a one in any organized fashion or in the portfolio. Now I'm at 10 years of writing that needs to be dealt with -- so I'm heading back to Lutherlyn.
I'll get to use a bunch of my saved computer printouts, press releases and faxes to assemble my portfolio. I have a nice stash saved up and won't have to use any additional trees for my project!
Part of organizing my office will be to put everything that I'll need for that project into a box to take with me to camp. Maybe this year I'll finally get it together! We'll see. Wouldn't that be something to get that finally crossed off of my list?? I can't imagine what that would be like.
I'm thinking about hitting the sack early tonight to get a head start tomorrow morning, it's probably a good idea.
Thanks for checking in on the adventures of a long-time single gal and newcomer to the world of home-ownership. It's a journey I'm enjoying immensely;)
~kll

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October is half-over already?

Some day, I will learn how to enjoy all of my days so that I don't find myself looking up at a calendar in shock that it's the middle of a month I barely realized had started. Some day, I will figure that out.
I know that, at least in part, the flying passage of time has a lot to do with working two jobs -- two jobs that seem to get busier and busier as the year moves along. I did virtually nothing yesterday, except for a few naps, and slept in hardcore both weekend mornings. It was like being in recovery from such an insane week.
I have unpacked my office, and it's about 80 percent organized. I'm working on the final 20 percent today. I need to get started on my basement, it's my final frontier. I'm considering doing some holiday entertaining this year, and the basement is crucial. It's partially finished, and I'd definitely need that space to be presentable to have a significant number of people over for a few hours.
I will be on "vacation" next week. I'm hoping to get a good portion of the remaining to-do list items crossed off during that time. Maybe I'll even work in a massage and the time to read a good book. Who knows?
I made dinner for my cousin Ashley last Sunday and it went really well. Lime-tortilla crusted chicken, lemon pasta, blackberry cobbler and sangria. I impressed myself a little bit for being able to pull it off. She gave me the cutest pumpkin decoration and it inspired me to pick up a few other things and 'decorate' for fall.
I'm really looking forward to the week off. It's not going to be easy to get everything done in time to leave Friday, but I am looking forward to having a few days to do nothing and a few days to get things done without having to worry about going back to work the next morning. I need the time off desperately.
More soon, I promise, ~kll

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Random

I've been neglecting this blog in a major way, but I think living life is probably a bit more important than writing about life...
In the last month and a half, I think that's how long it's been, things have been pretty busy.
I started dating someone who is a wonderful man and we had a good time. It didn't work out, that's life sometimes, but we got out before our friendship was damaged. I'm relieved that we still care about each other so much and still want to be in each other's lives. It was by far the most mature, most genuinely mutual break-up I've ever experienced. I'm sad it didn't work, but we're doing the right thing.
I had my first overnight guests a couple weeks ago. My best friend Chris, his wife Anna and daughter Cassidy, came for a night over Labor Day weekend. It was great! I felt so domestic.
I've had a couple of friends over for dinner, as well. I'm getting closer to having a party-ready house. I need to get an organized to-do list together, divide it up and start making the progress on what a contractor would call a 'punch list.' Whenever I cover a big renovation or big construction project, when things are nearing the end of the project, they always talk about a punch list. It's usually really small things, like 'touch up paint on the second floor window frame, install lightbulbs on the third floor, fix the chipped floor tile in the basement, etc.'
My punch list goes something like this: paint the stairwell, finish the painting that still needs to be done, touch up paint in bedroom and kitchen, have all carpets shampooed, clean basement, purchase basement shelving and organize things for storage, finish unpacking the office, hang up pictures, clean back porch, get rid of packing boxes, and probably about a million other things I can't think of at the moment!
I got my own office at work. It feels better than I ever imagined it would when I used to fantasize about having an office with a door I could close and space to spread out. That little space needs to be cleaned and organized as well, but it's so fantastic even in its messy state. It feels amazing.
My nephew is six months old and weighs somewhere around 25 pounds! He's gigantic.
My neice Arabella celebrates her first birthday this week, her party was yesterday and I had such a fantastic time!
Working at Consol Energy Center has been a little crazy. It's been very, very busy and it hasn't gotten started yet! Hockey starts (pre-season) Wednesday night and then things kick into high gear.
I purchased a digital SLR camera this summer and I just love it. My paper looks better, my facebook pics look better, I'm really enjoying it.
Check out my garden, it's really filled out, hasn't it?








The recycled rubber mulch has worked like a charm. I love it! Maybe next year I'll try a real garden, but we'll see.
All in all, it's been a pretty great summer. I'm settling in to my house, and I love every thing about it. It's just fantastic. Homeownership can be difficult, I've had a couple plumbing issues and some other things that have popped up, but having my own place is just as amazing as I always thought.
I didn't get to go camping this summer, which makes me sad, but I'm serious about getting out there next year. I need to plan a couple of vacations soon. I have three weeks to use and have only used one day so far!
Maybe I'll eventually get into the habit of writing more often here. I need some discipline.
~kll

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What a difference...

I feel like I start a lot of blog posts/phone calls/chats over drinks with the phrase "what a difference a year makes...or something similar.
Every time I point out a difference in my life today from my life a year ago, it's like checking off an imaginary to-do list of things I wanted to eliminate and things I wanted to add.
It's been a little more than two weeks since my last blog, and it might seem incredibly trite, but what a difference two weeks makes!
In that time, I've been spending time with someone who I've known for a long time, but who is also someone I could stand to know a lot better. I'm marveling at the differences in both of us since we first met and opening up doors I have intentionally kept closed for a very long time.
Could I be more vague? Probably.
A few posts ago I mentioned there were only three things that I wanted to change in my life as opposed to the thousands of things I wanted to change a year ago.
I'm down to one thing on that list.
Stay tuned...
~kll ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Letting go

I can't believe it's been a little more than two weeks since my last post!
Every time I post, I think that's the week I'll get into the swing of posting at least once a week ... and then the very next post starts out a little something like 'I can't believe it's been so long since I've written!'
Since my last post, I've made a little more progress on the house. I built my desk -- I also made a sort of big mistake on the desk, but it's something only I would ever know about. Instead of a cabinet on the side of the hutch, there is just a shelf. I accidentally mixed up two of the pieces and didn't discover it until it was much too late and the door to the cabinet wouldn't fit anymore.
Luckily, I've somehow managed to become a little more 'go with the flow' in the months since buying this house.
I've never, ever, been a go with the flow person. I've desperately tried to be a go with the flow kind of gal, I've even given a reasonably good acting performance of a go with the flow person from time to time. But, it's never been real.
It's amazing how buying a house, and doing a LOT of work on that house, can teach you about 'letting go.' I have some perfectionistic, control-freak tendencies. Mostly with my work. While painting my living room in March, I spent a good bit of time alone working to meet a deadline on getting that room done.
It was during that stretch that I learned how to let go a little bit. I had to make decisions every day of this redecoration process about what I was able to live with and what I was able to do without. If the paint wasn't entirely straight, if the tape pulled off some of the paint, if the paint dripped...I had to make snap decisions about what needed to be redone and what I could live with.
It was a great lesson. I've had to figure out some things about 'letting go.' I had to learn how to accept what I was capable of doing rather than expecting more than I could do.
It helped me at work, too. I learned how to set reasonable expectations for myself and to say 'this is how much work I can do in one week' and to stop trying to cram more and more work into each week in this effort to produce a perfect newspaper every week.
It's amazing how much my stress level came down. It's not gone, I'm still in a deadline-based business and am still writing, editing, photographing, and paginating a paper nearly entirely by myself each week.
But, instead of trying to bust out 900 editorial inches of material each week, I'm accepting that it's a lot more reasonable for me to produce about 650 to 700 inches. Sometimes I have guilt about it, but most of the time I accept that it's what I'm able to do.
It's a struggle.
I've been struggling with ideas about the house, too. I have postponed a house-warming party because I have this concept in my mind that everything has to be finished and perfect before I 'unveil' my home to everyone I care about.
I'm trying to apply my new 'letting go' lessons to this, but it's hard. I'm getting a lot closer, though. Once the office is unpacked, which will be easier now that the desk is finished, I can get the carpets cleaned and the air vents cleaned, and I think that is the goal I'm going to stick with for the unveiling.
Finishing the basement into a guest bedroom can probably wait until after my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, and best friends have been over for a quick party.
Does anyone have any personal tips or advice for someone who is trying to learn to 'let go?'
~kll

Friday, July 2, 2010

garden done!

The flower bed project is complete.



Above and below: After moving the dirt around (and finding pieces of glass, aluminum foil, pop tabs and a huge chunk of what appears to be quartz) and planting the flowers. Mostly begonias and marigolds...not much else likes as much sun as my flower bed will get each day.


For the final touch, I added rubber mulch, which is allegedly good for the environment and doesn't need to be replaced as often.



Keep our fingers crossed that the flowers take root and thrive!

~kll

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gardening!

My friend, M, who has this sort of 'character in a novel' opinion of me -- and by that I mean, she sees my entire character and as if she's writing my story she can envision me doing all sorts of things that I'm either already doing or hope to do one day.
A while ago she wrote about my new house and said she imagined me reading while drinking green tea and sitting near a flower garden of my own making. I laughed out loud at that vision as it stretched from Japan to my email inbox.
The email came as I was sitting in my living room, which was just far enough away from the unpacked boxes of clothes and office stuff still crammed in my office but not far enough away that I was able to forget about all of the things I hadn't accomplished yet. And here's M talking about flower gardens!
The previous owners did a few awesome things while they were there. They built a flower bed, planted three perennials in that bed, secured it with a blanket meant to keep out weeds and covered it in mulch. They also planted two big day lilies near the curb, also secured with a weed blanket and covered in mulch.
Because this is my first season as a homeowner, I was forced to take a 'wait and see' approach to the flower garden. I had no idea how many perennials were in the bed so I didn't want to waste too much time or money tinkering with it until I was sure everything that was going to poke through the soil had come up. I was also forced to wait by my amazing energy drain after months of fixing up the house and packing, so it worked well.
This past weekend a friend needed an ear and a chance to get out of the house. I quickly enlisted him in manual labor and unpacked all of the clothing boxes, built a garment rack and moved into the large closet off of the office. It took hours. Now the desk must be built so I can unpack the other office boxes...until the desk exists, there is no where to put said office stuff...
In the meantime, I bought a second flower basket to balance the basket my coworkers gave me a month ago, and I bought a half-flat of flowers. I didn't think I'd need any more than that because I was under the impression that the clematis plants were covering the garden with an ivy-like plant. Then I found out it was a weed...a very insidious weed that was actually choking all of the existing perennials. As shown below:





I knew I had to get rid of the weed blanket for two reasons: 1) it's not killing any weeds 2) I needed to get under it to plant the new flowers.
So last night, over the course of nearly two hours, I worked to get rid of the weed blanket, the old mulch and the massive ivy-like weeds.



Just getting cleaning up the mulch and rolling the blanket was a bit more labor-intensive than I'd imagined.


It took a lot of work with the garden shears, a lot of tugging and finally using an actual set of scissors to disentangle this weed from all of the actual plants. The roots looked like tree roots. When I was done, the pile of weeds stood about knee-high.


Wrapping up the blanket and the old mulch and weeds was one thing, wiggling it into a garbage bag was something the drivers sure enjoyed as they passed my front yard!
After a long, hard fight, I was finally able to recapture my flower bed in the name of flowers and perennials everywhere!
DIRT!

Now over the next couple of days I just have to pick up some more flowers, some new mulch and find the time in my schedule to finish this project!
It's funny, but for me, I couldn't really feel like a piece of property was mine until my fingers were caked with its dirt. When the worms squiggle away from you, the hard-packed earth parts beneath your tools and your very own roots start to stretch out -- it becomes yours.
So, while there are still cardboard boxes filled to the brim in this house, in the end, M was right. I would find the right ways and the right time to turn this house into my home. And last night I sat beside my flower garden, reading and drinking -- well, I had a cold beer -- okay? It was a little warm for the green tea, but the feeling that M 'wrote' for me was definitely there.
~kll

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

randomness

Wow.
It's been nearly a month since I've had any blog to share. It's not that there haven't been bloggy things going on or that there have been no thoughts to contribute -- it's just a slump I guess.
When I look back over the last few weeks and try to figure out where the time has gone, the only thing I can really come up with is a list of things that my time was NOT spent on. It certainly wasn't spent cleaning my house. It most definitely wasn't spent by finishing the unpacking of the dozens of boxes in my alleged office. It sure wasn't spent by cleaning out the flower garden and adding new flowers. It wasn't spent working on that book I'm allegedly writing. Hmmm....What the heck have I been doing?
Well, one thing that has kept me a smidge busy has been building things. I had no idea I was so handy. Or allegedly handy. Since the first week of June I've built four nightstands/end tables, a treadmill, a buffet table, a curio cabinet and have attached a hose holder thingy to the exterior of my house. Once I unpack the boxes in my alleged office, I'll be building my desk.
I've turned on my air conditioning and given up on trying to keep it off all summer. I have it set to 75 degrees, hoping that will spare me some horrific bill.
I bought a bunch of hooks that you attach to walls with an adhesive that supposedly won't damage paint and will hold up to X number of pounds for things like baseball hats, keys, and towels. Nearly all of the hooks hung in my living room have fallen...one of them peeled paint from my lemon ginger wall, which I thankfully I was able to quickly repaint. Those hooks stayed up for days before falling, any ideas on what made them fall or how to keep them up?
I have discovered a LOVE of frozen berries. I love, love, love berries of all kinds (except for cherries, I know it's un-American). But the problem with berries is twofold. 1) They are expensive. 2) They are expensive and come in ridiculously small quantities that, let's face it, I could eat before I arrive home from the store. Frozen berries are relatively inexpensive and come in huge quantities, relatively speaking, and you don't have to worry about them going bad. I buy strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches (I know, not a berry), and I empty some of each into a Tupperware-ish container in the morning, take it to work, let it thaw and eat them plain in the afternoon.
IT'S AWESOME. I get the generic brand and there is literally nothing in the packaging except for the berry or the peach, no sugar added, no preservatives, just berries that are cheaper and frozen.
I desperately need to find some energy, clean my house and unpack my boxes. I'm going to hire a carpet cleaner to come do my house, and I'd like to do it ASAP, but I need to finish some unpacking first.
My to-do list is like an imaginary thing that I keep mentally adding to, but never really writing down because I'm afraid it will completely overwhelm me.
I'm nearing the end of "Eat, Pray, Love." Since moving into my house I've finished two books and am working the third. That's three more than I was able to finish in the previous 12 months. I knew moving would make a difference in that area for sure.
My mother and I saw Sex and the City II on Sunday afternoon. Not to give anything away, but Liza Minnelli performs "All the Single Ladies" and it's HILARIOUS.
I'm actively seeking tips on improving my energy levels. Anyone with any advice, no matter how weird, please send it my way. I just can't quite maintain any level of energy throughout the day and I have so much to do, the list gets longer and I just get drowsier. It's extremely frustrating.
Gratitude: 1) I'm grateful to be heading on a mini-camping adventure this weekend with my friends and family. 2) I'm grateful for Ginger Ale. 3) I'm extremely grateful for the first-time home buyer tax credit. Simply put, there is no way I could have done this without it. 4) I'm grateful for my job, which I still adore. 5) I'm grateful for my coworkers, whom I adore. 6) I'm grateful for things that are covered in chocolate icing.
~kll

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A worthy cause

Bloggers all know that along with writing tid-bits about our daily lives, we tend to be 'lurkers' as well. Reading various other blogs written by people we know, people we kinda know, people who know people we know, and people we will never, ever know personally.

Two of the blogs I check daily have one thing in common today. A Pittsburgh-area mother who lost her two children in a horrific car accident is working to build a play area in a city park as a way of memorializing her children who were 4 and I think 6 at the time they died. A councilman and some 'not-in-my-back-yard' folks are opposing her wish to spend non public funds on public enjoyment and education.

If you're so inclined, read these entries and if further inclined, lend your support.

http://thatschurch.com/2010/05/26/in-this-corner-with-tears-in-my-eyes/

http://callapitter46.blogspot.com/2010/05/kate-and-peters-treehouse-good-news-and.html

It will never cease to amaze me the limits some people will reach while attempting to keep things in their world exactly the way they want it with no regard for others.

~kll

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

changes

There have been so many changes in life this year. Since May 1, 2009, every. single. thing. changed.
Job, changed. Boss, changed. Place I spend majority of my time, changed. Home, changed. People I spend the most time with, changed. Physically, changed. Attitude, changed.
Not all of the changes have been positive all of the time, but nearly all of them are just that – positive all the time.
The amazing thing, however, is that on April 30, 2009, I could have given you a list of 100 things I wanted to change about my life. Today, a little more than one year later, and I can only think of three…and most of them go hand in hand.
There are probably a million things I could dream for, things meant only for wishing stars. But when it comes to reality, things I genuinely want to change – really things I’d like to add to my life … there are just three.
I’ll only talk about one of those things here, the other two are more the type of things that 1) you talk about after they’ve been accomplished or 2) you talk about as you make moves toward accomplishing them.
For now, I’ll just talk about the change that I see as something I can handle immediately. I really want to see and talk to my friends and family more often. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
Through this year of working two jobs, buying and fixing up a house and moving, it’s arguably the thing that fell furthest by the wayside…well it probably comes in second.
This week, I’m hoping to spend some of my free time – I have that now that I’m not painting for four hours a night anymore! – on figuring out a plan to achieve these three things before this year is up.
I guess this is me, warning you, that I’m genuinely going to try to stay in better touch with the people I love most. And if you’re reading this, that might mean you…so prepare yourself ;)
~KLL

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thinking

I've been a little out of it for a little more than a week.
Hearing about Elmer's death threw me for a loop. I'm still trying to ascertain what exactly happened to him and I'm still trying to decide if writing a letter to his foster mother is a good idea.
Part of me is bothered that she may have assumed I knew and didn't care. I know how hard things were for her with him when he was younger and struggling and judging by the few facts I have been able to piece together, it looks like it got steadily worse in the months immediately preceding his death.
Mostly, I just want her to know that she wasn't the only one who loved him and wanted more for him and hoped for more for him.
But it's been several years and I don't want to be a person who causes her more pain by bringing up a painful subject...any advice cyber land?
The hurt is easing a bit, I found the remainder of his letters and read them several times a day for several days in a row until I finally put them out of sight again. Reading them, I could almost feel myself falling for him all over again. I could hear his voice saying the words and I laughed out loud more than once and I remembered why I loved him so much.
Then I missed him and grieved for him. Now I just want to be able to find out as much as I can, I can't explain it but I have to know what happened. I just have to know. I hope to visit his grave and say goodbye.

I think one of the things that bothers me the most about his death -- aside from the obvious -- is that I've had four real relationships in my life. At least they were real to me. The first was Elmer, a guy we'll call L, a guy we'll call XL and a guy we'll call the ex.
If anything were ever to happen to L or XL, or if they were, for some reason, to need me, they would know how to contact me. We have friends, more like family, in common. I don't know much about their daily lives, haven't talked to either in a very long time, but I know they're well and happy and okay.
With Elmer and the ex, the emotions were deeper. When I walked away, I walked away.
There were no hard feelings between Elmer and I. but I didn't necessarily ever want to know if he was married or something. It would have hurt to know that he married someone else.
With the ex, I walked away for very different reasons and there are hard feelings. Very hard feelings.
But I think I've always consoled myself and my know-nothing approach with the theory that if anything ever really happened to either of them of if they ever, for some reason, needed me, someone would let me know. A family member, a mother, a brother, a cousin, a friend would get in touch with me.
Then I found out Elmer had a pretty serious downward spiral and died and it took six years for the news to get to me. And that pretty much blew that theory of mine out the window. And that stinks. And, honestly, it makes me sad.

Do you want to know the truth? I think this particular piece of news hit me at the exact wrong time. I've spent most of the minutes of this halfway-gone year on house hunting, house buying, house closing, house renovating, working two jobs, moving, packing and unpacking, and myriad other stressful life experiences.
Quite simply, I'm exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. What I really, really need is a vacation, a chance to take better care of myself, a few days to sleep in, a few massages, a camping trip, and the free time to take care of myself on a regular basis. And then I can put my thoughts back in order. I need more time to talk to and focus on my friends and family and just get back to being myself.

A friend of mine closes her blogs from time to time with the phrase 'ever on the journey.' I think that's such a beautiful use of words. Thanks for checking in on my journey from time to time. I'm working toward having more exciting adventures to write about shortly -- but for now, thanks for being 'ever on the journey' with me.
~KLL

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My first love

When I was 14 or 15, I met a guy named Elmer over the phone. My friend was ‘dating’ a kid named Jesse and they wanted to set me up with Jesse’s cousin. I was at my friend’s house one day when she handed me the phone…it was Elmer.
This kid was straight up confident. He talked to me for a few minutes, asked me a few questions and within minutes he asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend.
I couldn’t speak for a minute…who was this guy? I’m pretty sure I made up an imaginary boyfriend and told him I couldn’t be his girlfriend.
And then I met him. We used to hang out at this game room and play pool and air hockey and play the jukebox a few times a week. One night, my friend and I walked in to the game room and I looked across the room, locked eyes with this insanely gorgeous guy with blue-green eyes and whispered to my friend, “WHO is he?” It was Elmer. Hands-down the most attractive guy I've ever known.
I couldn’t make this up, the song “Crazy for You” by Madonna came on the jukebox and he started walking over to me. We played air hockey – I won – and he asked me again to be his girlfriend, and I said “Yes.”
We were crazy in love. He used to say “I loooovesss you!” in this weird southern accent that cracked me up. He couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper bag – when he started driving his foster mom loaned him the caravan and we would drive to Mammoth Park and get lost every single time. He made up crazy stories like my dad used to and I remember thinking that he was so much like my dad…and you know they say little girls fall in love with boys just like their fathers. If he was late calling one night he would tell me a story about being in combat in Vietnam and injuring his dialing finger or something equally ridiculous. Before he could finish spinning his silly tale I was laughing and had forgotten to be mad at him.
He wrote me actual love letters. Put them in the mail and everything. I’m pretty sure he was the last person who ever put pencil to paper, went on for three pages about how much he loved me, put a stamp on the envelope (sprayed the envelope with cologne), and put it in the actual mail.
“I love you more than I loved any woman and I’ll do anything to keep the feelings I have for you alive. I know I mess up a lot, but it’s never on purpose. And it seems every time I get you, I somehow let you slip away. But not this time….I’m going to grab a hold of you before someone else does.”
This is from a letter he wrote to me the day before I left to work at summer camp…maybe the summer after I graduated high school, I can’t remember which summer (There were three summers at camp).
“Take this letter with you on your adventures because I don’t want you to forget about me and run off with some tall, dark, handsome Italian guy named Guido or something. I need nothing, you’ll always be in my heart.
“You were the best thing that ever happened to my life. And I appreciate it. I just hope I can make you feel the same and return the favor. I promise you that no one will ever hurt you when I’m with you. You mean a great deal to me and I will always protect you. I don’t have a whole lot to offer you except for my love. I ain’t much, but you got to admit I make you laugh. I love you so very much.
“Remember our song (I cross my heart)? How could you forget? Every time I hear it not being by your side tears a tear from a young man’s heart.
Love always, Remle (a nickname I had for him).”

We were together, off and on for about six years. I can’t remember why we actually broke up, I’m sure it had something to do with me being in college and him being at home.
Once, after college, he called me and the part I remember is him saying that he was trying to remember the last time he was really happy and it was when he was with me. So he was calling in hopes I was still at my parents’ house and that we could see each other.
I agreed. I’m pretty sure I was dating someone else at that time, but it was Elmer. I just had to see him. We were so completely connected.
He picked me up, he wasn’t driving the caravan anymore…we had dinner and we saw how different we were that day. I don’t want to go into that, too much. It’s hard to explain. But I knew it, he knew it…it just wasn’t going to happen that day.
But there is this weird part of me that I think has always assumed there would be this day…well you know.
I cross my heart, by George Strait, was our song, the song he was talking about in his letter. Yesterday while listening to an online radio station, the song came on. It struck me hard. I can’t remember the last time I heard it, but instantly I thought of Elmer. Of his smile, holding his hand, laughing at his jokes…
So I did an internet search …I wonder what he’s up to? Yesterday I found something that I wasn’t sure was him, but if it was him, he was married. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for some reason. Today, I listened to the song again and did another search. The first search was wrong. He isn’t married.

I found this:
Elmer E. Pritts, 25, of Greensburg, formerly of Stahlstown, died Wednesday, April 21, 2004. He was born July 24, 1978, in Mt. Pleasant. He worked as a machinist at R&M Machine in Latrobe. He attended Family Fellowship Christian Center in Donegal and New Life Tabernacle Church in Greensburg.

He died.

Six years ago.

I had no idea. No one let me know. It happened about two years after the last time I saw him. It doesn’t say how he died or what happened. It wasn’t online, so I’m guessing it wasn’t an accident…no mention of a hospital in the obit, I’m guessing it wasn’t an illness. I found his foster mother’s address and am considering sending a letter. She and I used to talk on the phone when he and I would fight…she did her best to help us through anything.

I don’t know how to feel. I’m sad. I really am. I came home from work tonight and dug out my scrapbook. I saw pictures of us at my sweet 16 party and found this letter…I’m not sure where the others are, I know they’re around here somewhere. I wonder whatever happened to the letters I sent to him. I wonder if anyone has read them and remembered how much I loved him…or if he ditched them a long time ago. Knowing him, he wouldn’t have gotten rid of them. I wonder why he died and how. I’m wondering about all the ‘what-ifs.’ What if we had given it another try…what if, what if, what if…
He wanted to marry me. I assumed we would get married after I was done with college…I didn’t expect college to make that impossible. We were just different. We grew apart, dated other people…you know how it is.

Here’s the thing. I loved him, I really did. And he loved me. He might have been the only man I’ve ever been with who genuinely loved me. And we grew apart, lost touch and he died.

I wonder what he thinks of me now. Buying this house, being an editor…sitting on my couch looking at my scrapbook and thinking about him after all this time.

I’m sorry you died so young, Elmer. You deserved a better life than the one you were dealt. I’m sorry we couldn’t parlay our teen/twenties love into something that could have lasted forever like we’d hoped. I’m sorry I wasn’t at your funeral, I hope someone who loved you just as much was there for you.

I don’t know what I thought I was going to do if my googling had ‘found’ him today. I don’t know if I thought I was going to try to contact him, or what. But I know that I’m sad that the point is moot.

“I cross my heart”

Our love is unconditional, we knew it from the start.
I see it in your eyes, you can feel it from my heart.
From here on after let's stay the way we are right now,
And share all the love and laughter
That a lifetime will allow.

I cross my heart and promise to
Give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine.

You will always be the miracle that makes my life complete,
And as long as there's a breath in me, I'll make yours just as sweet.
As we look into the future, it's as far as we can see,
So let's make each tomorrow be the best that it can be.

I cross my heart and promise to
Give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine.

And if along the way we find a day it starts to storm,
You've got the promise of my love to keep you warm.
In all the world you'll never find a love as true as mine,
A love as true as mine.


My Remle, I’m so sorry you’re gone. Love, me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday gratitude:

Friday gratitude:
1) I'm grateful that the only thing I 'have' to do this weekend is work the Pens game tomorrow night. No more weekends spent working, painting, packing, cleaning, etc... Last night I made dinner, had a beer and watched the Pens blow it all from the comfort of my own living room. It was surreal.
2) I'm grateful for manual lawnmowers. Weird, right? My lawn is divided in three sections and each is only accessible by stairs, so there was no possibility of me carrying an actual lawn mower up and down those bad boys. The manual, old fashioned mower weighs less than 30 pounds and is fairly easy to operate. I was still sweat-soaked at the end of it, but I was able to do it myself! My yard looks a little crappy, I think the setting was a little too short at first. But I know for sure it will all grow back in about five seconds and I'll have a chance to do a better job in a week. Added bonuses include no need to purchase gas and no bag to empty or to carry.
3) I had a little emotional overload this afternoon and I'm grateful for a friend who very quickly talked me off the ledge. She's a lifesaver sometimes that one.
4) I'm grateful for a chance to see my grandmother tonight. She kicks ass.
5) I'm grateful to have such a good working relationship with very nearly everyone I have to work with in this job. It's been one year and one week since I got this job and I'm still finding new reasons every week to announce how much I love it. What a difference a year makes!
6) I'm grateful that I don't desperately need to finish unpacking any time soon. All of the unpacked boxes are in the office, which I haven't ordered a new desk for anyway! All in good time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

almost all moved in

May 1 started off rather slowly...I had some trouble waking up, getting out of bed and finding the motivation to finish stuffing boxes full of things. I think it was equal parts sentimentality and legitimate fatigue.
It was incredibly hot for the first day of May, which didn't help -- I'm not a huge fan of sweating and being gross, but most of Saturday was spent sweating and pretty gross.
My parents, my dad's best friend and me worked for roughly two hours -- start to finish -- and removed almost everything from my parents' house and loaded it into my house. Not bad! We were incredibly lucky in two respects.
1) There is NEVER a parking spot in front of my house and I was panicked about where to put the Uhaul, but for the first time ever, the entire block was clear and we had no trouble.
2) It was supposed to rain Saturday afternoon, but we managed to finish and stay dry!
My mother helped me unpack the bedroom so I could have one room mostly finished and then my folks left me to it. I thought I would pass out on the couch watching movies (no cable until Wednesday), but after a relatively quick rest, I began unpacking my living room. I'm almost done, I have two boxes that still need to be emptied and I'm still figuring out the organization of books on my shelves.
The bathroom, kitchen, living room and master bedroom are 90% finished. In the office, it's more like 40% -- mainly because it's the catch-all room where all those boxes and decorations and the like are being housed until I figure out what the hell to do with them all.
I know it's weird for me to talk like this, but when I found out I was one of only about a dozen ushers not scheduled to work at the playoff game on Sunday, I was incredibly relieved. I just couldn't see me waking up early enough (there were three major traffic inducing events in the city), driving down there, standing for at least five hours, and driving home. Luckily, I didn't have to do that and I watched the Pens stink up the joint from the comfort of my parents' couch (again, no cable til Wednesday! Really hoping Versus is part of the package).
I'm sleeping really soundly, which sort of surprised me until I realized that my body was just waiting for the move to finally happen.
I have so much work to do, not sure what I'm doing finishing this except that I feel like I have to write it all out to refocus my mind on something else!
More soon ~kll

Monday, April 26, 2010

moving!

That's right, I'm moving in five days.
That's five more days of painting, cleaning, packing, working two jobs, painting, cleaning and packing! I hold no illusions that everything will be painted, cleaned or packed within the next five days but I do know that the number of nights I will lay my head down to sleep under my parents' roof is dwindling.
How weird to even say that. How weird for that even to be true.
I've been working on this house since March 10 and wanted to be in by April 1 -- I wish I knew what I was smoking way back then, I should get some more of that -- and will be in by May 1. I will be in by May 1 whether I'm ready, the house is ready or my parents are ready.
It's time.
I'm more than ready for the stress of this situation to be over. I'm more than ready to spend Saturdays reading a book instead of painting. I'm more than ready to live with all of my belongings under one roof. I'm more than ready to see what this next phase of my life holds for me.
I'm not all that ready to stop living where I live today, though. I walked through the house this morning and had this weird 'not too many times left that you'll walk through this living room on your way out the door to work' feeling that sucker-punched me in the belly.
It's all good, it's all what I want, it's just starting to feel more sentimental as it begins to feel more real. Even though I've been working my butt off at that house nearly every day for more than six weeks, it hasn't really seemed like it was 'my' house -- you know, one that I'll live in soon. It was more like a place to go to work.
This is weird.
Just wanted to post a quick update, cross your fingers for me this week that I get everything done that needs to be done (we'll let that 'wants to be done list' alone for a few days ;)
~kll

Monday, April 19, 2010

My friend, Bill.

Today I miss my best friend, Bill. He was the other half of my brain...the male version of me. He's been gone for eight years...and one week from today he would have turned 32 and caught up with me. We were less than two months apart in age, with me coming out on the older side of that equation, but he liked being my 'big brother.'
I just heard the song "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. It always reminds me of Bill. It's pretty straight forward. Some days it aches like he left five minutes ago as opposed to eight years ago.
There are still some days I'm still pretty pissed at him for ditching me…we were supposed to grow old together in an apartment near the beach filled with wicker furniture like the Golden Girls.

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There's always one reason
To feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there

So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack
It don't make no difference
Escaping one last time
It's easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

I don't have much more to say. Reading those lyrics has me pretty close to tears and I need to keep it together. It's just been an emotional few days for me.
I'm creeping closer to finishing the house and living there and that brings with it all sorts of emotions. Last night, while packing, I found the taped-shut box of photos and memorabilia from my last relationship. I couldn't get rid of everything all at once so I saved the photos and a few other things, put them in a box and taped it shut. That way I'd know what it was when I came across it again.
We all know I couldn't resist picking that scab, so I opened the box, looked at four things, felt sad, and threw it all away. I miss the guy I thought he was.
But, it's all gone now.
This packing thing is like an emotional roller coaster all its own. Finding things…realizing some things have been lost…deciding to throw some things away…deciding to keep other things…it's a lot to deal with and it's the first time I've ever really moved so we're talking DECADES of decisions I’m reliving a little bit at a time.
If I were a hoarder, I could call A&E and have one of their professional therapists come walk me through it. But, it looks like it's just me, the cardboard boxes, the rapidly emptying paint containers and one hot mess to figure out!

Gratitude:
1) I'm grateful for my parents who are the only reasons I will ever finish fixing up my house.
2) I'm glad I worked ahead a little more than usual last week because it's easing a bit of the deadline burden today.
3) I'm grateful to have accidentally found www.jango.com. It enabled me to very, very quickly create an online 'radio' station with my favorite artists. I used to LOVE country music...but my ex was in a country band and it soured me on the entire genre. I'm trying to ease back into it. I forgot how much I liked George Strait and Rascal Flatts! It's neat to go from George to Daughtry without rummaging through CDs (I have no idea where any CDs are at this point of the packing process anyway!)
~kll

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday gratitude

Today I'm grateful.

1) Someone brought in a huge, gigantic bag of Sarris chocolate-covered pretzels. Seriously, I've seen 20-lb sacks of potatoes that are smaller. Mmm...nom, nom, nom....
2) The sun is shining again! Whoo hoo!
3) I finished deadline a little early today so I'm heading to City Hall to do a quick interview and then over to my house to paint for a couple of hours before my recreation board meeting tonight. I realize that none of the things in that sentence sound like any fun, but the the gratitude comes in because I thought I wouldn't be able to paint at my house at all this week...and the goal, as always, is to finish ASAP!!!
4)Mmm...nom, nom, nom...(yes, it deserves to be mentioned twice)
5) I ran out of coffee this a.m. and got a chance to have some ginger peach tea, which was sent my way by a very thoughtful friend.
6) I'm grateful that I got out of work fairly early last night and was nearly able to get a full-night's rest. For a Monday, that says a lot.
7) I'm grateful that none of the coal miners I know work in WV...and I'm heartbroken for those who are grieving and even more heartbroken for those who are waiting...
8) I'm grateful that my Aunt Diana packed up a bunch of food for us after Easter and I was able to pack a lunch and a dinner for today!
9) I'm so glad to have discovered the 'autoplay' and playlist options on YouTube, which has given me access to a bunch of music while I work.
10) I'm glad that the woman I am today has 10 (printable) things to be grateful for in the middle of the craziest workday of her week...imagine what a lazy Thursday could bring?
~kll

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday gratitude

1) I'm grateful that I have a father who was willing to wake up early on his last day off to go to my house and paint, which he hates.
2) I'm grateful that when my car decided to blow a gasket...or whatever...that I was within a half-mile of my father.
3) I'm grateful that when I 'made' my dad ditch the painting for the car-repair, which he hates even more, he fixed it up in no time.

I'm a lucky girl.
~kll

Friday, April 2, 2010

gratitude

I have been following http://sippiambrose.blogspot.com/ AKA Attitude of Gratitude (A-o-G) for a few years now and about a month ago, he wrote his last post ... at least for a little while.
I'm really hoping he'll return to blogging because he offered something that few people realize they need until they need it. A-o-G is an alcoholic who has been sober for quite a while and his blog incorporates his program following the steps, his gratitude for his sober life, and maybe the world's best quotes to make you think.
I found this blog when my best friend M was searching the Internet for me in hopes of finding some things to improve my mood. She is always right about everything...not in a drive-you-crazy way, but in a why-does-she-have-to-live-in-Japan-when-I-need-her-always-perfect-advice kind of way.
Attitude of Gratitude (A-o-G) found me at a time when I was in love with someone who was also having a 'relationship' with a significantly older, married woman. He also turned out to be an addict ... and so did I.
I turned out to be addicted to his drama without even realizing it. From the moment I met him, he was a person in desperate need of help and I was a person in desperate need of giving help and being needed. It turned out to be a dangerous combination.
A-o-G sort of helped me to 'work the steps' through my own 'addiction' and helped me to understand him in a way that let me let go of him.
It taught me how important it is for addicts to want help and to want a different life. When it came right down to it, he didn't want another life and he didn't want help...he just wanted people to want to help him.
And A-o-G helped me to walk away without looking back. It might sound ridiculous, but the day I decided I was done...I was done. I have absolutely no idea if he's even alive, or living in this state or living in another country -- and it has to be that way for me.
I only bring him up so I can bring up the blog, because I miss it. I miss the daily pearls of wisdom, so I'm going to start re-reading the blog from its inception. That's a solid few years of reading before I hit the point when I joined his journey.
I used to have another blog, which turned into something that was more about my ex and less about me, which I've abandoned.
But at one point, I tried to duplicate A-o-G's efforts and tried to list three things I was grateful for each day.
It was also part of the therapy I took advantage of during the break up, it was my homework to remember three things that were good about each day because there were days that were pretty dark for me and sometimes it was pretty hard to come up with three whole things to be thankful about.
When I instinctively tried to check A-o-G's blog today, it reminded me of how hard I used to try to find something to be grateful for so I could hit my three-a-day minimum.
I can't believe I lived like that!
And that's what this blog is all about. Anything can happen, child...anything can be.
A year ago I was in a dead-end job (excuse the cliche) that I HATED, in an office I despised, working with a handful of people I couldn't handle being around, living with my parents, and basically seeing no way out.
In April 2009, I learned about the job opening for the editor's position and slowly things began to change for me.
On May 1, 2009, I interviewed for and received the editor's position I hold today. On May 1, 2010, I will be living in a house I purchased and am fixing up for myself.
Again, I'm sorry about the cliche, but what a difference a year makes!

Gratitude:
1) I'm so thankful for the sunshine today.
2) I'm grateful for the fun people who work in my office.
3) I'm so excited to see my family this weekend and to maybe get a chance to show off the progress on the house.
Believe me, I could go on and on, but I won't bore you too much today. I'm going to be much more diligent in acknowledging my gratitude before signing off after each post. I owe it to A-o-G, and to M, and to myself to remember that things are oh-so-good these days.
~kll

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hectic!

Life has certainly gotten more hectic since March 10 when I signed on about 30 dotted lines and officially became a homeowner.
I've been painting as much as possible -- updates: kitchen is nearly finished except for the areas that need to be retouched thanks to the stupid painter's tape that ripped off large chunks of paint. The stairway to the second floor is halfway done and will remain that way until we're done moving large pieces of furniture upstairs. The upstairs hallway and doors are primed. The office walls are nearly finished and the trim is under way. The only rooms left untouched are the bathroom and master bedroom, but it won't stay that way for long.
I stumbled on a new blog yesterday about a mom in Pittsburgh who lost both of her children in a car accident days before Easter last year. Through that blog I stumbled on the multiple lyrics, versions, videos and story behind the song "Hallelujah," which was originally written by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in the early 80s.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallelujah_(by_Leonard_Cohen)
It's a very interesting story and a heartbreakingly beautiful song and I can't get it out of my head today. Every time I woke up last night, I heard the chords.
Sometimes, music can say things that you're feeling without having the words to describe them to others. Today, I'm feeling very Hallelujah.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making progress

My 90% finished kitchen:







My finished, but full of stuff that belongs elsewhere in the house, living room:







This has been such a crazy journey already.


Once I finish the kitchen drawers (the ones I forgot were in the living room and therefore forgot to paint last night), do a few more coats of the spiced pumpkin to make it look a little more terra cotta brick and a little less orange julius, hit the trim with a pretty brown color (i can't remember the name of right now), lay some new shelf paper in the cabinets, move the dishes in, cover the refrigerator with white appliance paint, and move the kitchen table from the living room into the kitchen -- it might just be finished.


The living room is waiting for the removal of all unnecessary items, the completion of three bookcases and the arrival of my entertainment center. Most everything else is finished in that room.


The upstairs is probably about 7% finished. Basically all that has happened up there is wall washing and the initial coat of primer on the grooves of the wood paneled walls of the office.


The master bedroom will probably be the easiest room to complete, so I might just save it for last in case I lose some steam.


We moved half of my belongings ... the biggest furniture and a dozen boxes ... last Friday. I have no idea when the remainder will be moved and I'll actually be living there. I'm set against moving in before the painting is complete because I need to get away from it at the end of each night and the new house is just a little too much like a work site and not enough like a home for now.


Once I've picked a final moving date I'm going to take that week off from work so I can unpack, organize, clean, etc, without having to worry about getting my paper done that week. Honestly, it probably wouldn't be the worst idea to take a week off now to finish painting and another week to unpack, but I don't think that would fly.


I'm pretty tired all of the time these days, but it's a different kind of tired. My regular work is so mental that I feel tired some days without much physical exertion. This renovate/regular work/part-time job/packing/moving exertion brings on a whole new kind of tired. I'm hoping to get a really, really good night's sleep tonight.


Originally I intended to paint the wood paneling in the finished part of the basement in addition to all of the regular living space rooms upstairs. Now I know that will have to wait for a while. I just need to finish what needs to be finished so I can live in house! The basement can wait.


My brother has a son, Ethan James. He's very cute.


Work is going pretty well, it's hard to concentrate or be overly creative when you're bone tired, but I love this job. I hope to have it for a very long time.


I'm going to try to get some work done, more soon!


~KLL

Monday, March 22, 2010

quick update

Hello reader(s)?

I have been disconnected for 20 days apparently...and not on purpose. I've been crazy busy!
I closed on my house on March 10 and within a few days the painting extravaganza had begun...and continues.
The closing process is something I will blog about when I'm living in my new house and have regrown my sense-of-humor about the situation. In the end, I own a house.
I can't live in the house yet, I'm still fixing and painting. I've never painted before, so this has been quite an experience.
I had this moment when I was on the ladder, painting the window trim with the windows open and several families walked by with their dogs and children. I flashed on the part of "Sleeping with Enemy" when Julia Roberts' character is shown in a montage of painting and house projects that takes about 45 seconds before she's enjoying her new home with a big smile on her face.
Let's just say that in my movie, the montage couldn't be finished in 45 seconds and I call hijinx on all movies that show independent women in 1-minute or less video montages fixing up their homes by themselves. Hijinx. Those montages give women like me the false sense that projects might be done without losing our minds!
I'm just really tired and am only about 2/10 finished with the project list.
I have nothing else to write about because I haven't had time to do anything else! More soon!
KLL

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Random

I read "That's Church" regularly and I think I'm going to have to steal a concept from the brilliant PittGirl. She posts a regular item she calls "Random N'at," and it's literally a collection of random thoughts. I love this concept, but I want to be honest with you that I'm totally stealing it.

I had to leave work today before I was finished writing a story so I copied it onto my thumb-drive to take home with me. When I tried to open it, I realized that my work computer is now more advanced than my home computer. This has never happened before. I can't open my work file (which is a problem because the story needs to be filed ASAP)!! So, I'm downloading a compatibility pack ... and blogging.

While interviewing a group of high school students about this month's musical "Cinderella" -- how cool is it that I get to write about a bunch of students performing my FAVORITE story as part of my job? -- we were sitting in the music room when the door swung open. Suddenly, an adult man walked into the room, right past us, said nothing, stopped in the corner, dropped his backpack and started rubbing his hands together in what appeared to be folding his hands in prayer. I had this strange feeling and flashed back to the story about the shooting at the LA Fitness in Pittsburgh a few months ago when the man walks into the gym, puts his backpack down and starts shooting. I had this "shouldn't a grown-up be asking this guy what he's doing here" moment when I realized I was the grown-up in the room. It ended up that the guy was early for some other meeting, but I had the strangest feeling about the whole thing and had this weird mental image of shooing the kids out of the room if he got creepier. The kids were thrown off by the guy, too. I don't know what his deal was, it may have been nothing...but I had this feeling like I had to get the kids away from him. I went with my gut. No idea if that was necessary, but it was the weirdest feeling.

I'm still trying to close on the house. It's a long, weird story. It might not be too much longer. Let's leave it at that.

I ate a burrito for the first time today. Did you know burritos don't have to include beans? I had no idea. I got it with rice and cilantro instead and it was FABULOUS!

My birthday is in two days. My parents gave me a toaster, a microwave and a brita water filter. My grandmother gave me the most awesome birthday card EVER. She's awesome!!!!

I loved the Olympics. I wish they were held every year.

I have become ADDICTED to HGTV and random real estate and renovation shows. I spent hours and hours watching them this weekend. I can't wait to get my hands on some paint for my own house.

My download is complete, I have to go write a story about a great student athlete who saw his dreams of a playoff victory in wrestling dashed when his elbow was dislocated in the quarterfinals last weekend. Poor kid.

~kll

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ick-sick

I caught a cold — a whopper of a cold — and it’s kicking my butt.
I have tried harder this year than I ever have tried before to avoid illness and apparently, all of the hand-sanitizer, hand-washing and vitamins in the world can’t keep a cold away for an entire winter. I know it’s just a cold, and I’m trying not to be too “moan….I’m sick” about it, but it’s kicking my good-intentioned butt right now.

In other news, the folks I’m buying the house from are just as eager as I am to get this deal to closing so I might close as early as … next week! I’m trying really hard not to get my hopes up too high (and don’t tell my parents if you know them, my dad’s driving me nuts about moving up this closing date and I don’t want to get his hopes up either), but it might just be possible to close before my birthday, which is in eight days. Those of you who follow this blog might remember that closing by my birthday was an original new year’s resolution…made a month before I’d even found this house.
What a gift that would be!

My best friend and his wife are building a pile-o-house-warming stuff in their basement…sort of the ‘we got married and got new stuff, here’s some stuff for your new house’ pile. I’m really lucky to have them in my life.

I’m really enjoying the Olympics…I can’t wait to see how the hockey tournament turns out. It’s so crazy to watch the hockey tournament games and hear all of those names on the same team. It’s like a hodge-podge of crazy talent. What a great game on Sunday! Here’s hoping the rest of this week’s games are equally awesome!

I need to start packing. It seems a little overwhelming, so in typical KLL fashion I’m avoiding it at the moment. Argh. Boxes, boxes… How does one pack books (a library’s worth) so one doesn’t throw one’s back out…or more correctly, so one doesn’t throw one’s father’s back out? I came home last night to a pile of things on my bedroom floor. My mother had been cleaning out the linen closet and came across a pile of things that belong to me. I get the feeling my parents are ready to change the locks if I don’t get this deal done ASAP!

~KLL

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Etc...

"Et cetera (in English contexts pronounced /ɛt ˈsɛtərə/) is a Latin expression that means "and other things," or "and so forth." It is taken directly from the Latin expression which literally means "and the rest (of such things)."
The phrase et cetera is often used to delete the logical continuation of some sort of series of descriptions." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Et_cetera)

This past week has been all about the et cetera...

The best way to sum it up is to say "there was a little stress, a little craziness, a little sadness, etc."

I just can't go into the et cetera part right now. I will write about my friend Diana's battle with cancer, what she meant to my family and to me, and how much she will be missed -- but not right now.
I will share this line, which her husband, John, said during her funeral. "You go home tonight and you take the people that you love and you hold them tight."
I'm so sick of seeing cancer win more often than it loses. I'm sick of it.

My home inspection, appraisal, and mortgage application appointments were all held this week. I have one issue that I'm asking the homeowners to fix before I agree to move forward with the purchase, which I expect them to readily agree to as I have agreed to take care of the longer list of smaller issues.
I'm extremely lucky to have my dad and his best friend (dad#2) who are eager(?) to help me with that list. Some of the items are more along the lines of 'things I will need to do if I ever decide to sell the house to another person' as opposed to 'things that must be done before I can move in.'
I'm going to start looking at paint colors and plan to pack a few boxes this week. My hope is that I'll be able to move up the closing date, but for now it is still scheduled to close on March 24.

My nephew, Ethan, is due in less than one month.

I'm completely addicted to the Olympics. I used to love figure skating when I was younger, during the Kerrigan/Harding saga, but I really didn't watch much of the Olympics since that time. The summer Olympics hooked me with the opening ceremony and the sand and indoor volleyball -- never mind the Phelps-mania. Now I've been looking forward to watching hockey (have you seen Canada's lineup?) for about a year...but the remaining sports have snuck up on me. I've been surprised by my interest in the skiing, luge, short-track speed skating, etc.

Like I said, this past week was all about the et cetera...
~kll

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another quick one

Just an update:
I made an offer on the house I love, they owners accepted the first offer I made -- I NEVER saw that coming -- and I applied for a mortgage this morning! Crazy!

Today is such a mixed-emotions sort of day.

My friend Diana died last night. Cancer is a stupid, stupid disease, and I'm sick of saying goodbye to people I love because of cancer. Three deaths, three losses to cancer, in six months.

I can't write more about either of these things today. I just can't process them fully. It's too crazy. Everything always happens all at once, right?

I'll write more when I've had time to actually feel the emotions related to these changes in my life.

~KLL

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quickie

I have been busier than usual this week -- which is really saying something, because my normal is busy -- so this will be a quick post. I really thought I would have time to post every other day when I started this blog exactly one month ago.

House update: My dad's best friend (otherwise known as Dad#2) went with me to see the house this week and, as I suspected, he could find no problems at the house. Dad#2 has built many homes and is better than an official inspector -- although I'll obviously have an official inspection. He can find no problems, I can find no problems...and so, I plan to make an offer on Wednesday around noon. I'm going to play the numbers game a little bit, hoping to tweak the final digits into something manageable for a single-income home.

This whole thing has been a little like a roller coaster. I've been so fixated for the last week and a half, I haven't accomplished much outside of the absolute requirements of my jobs. The rest of my focus has been on preparing for this new stage of my life.

Many of my New Year's resolutions have had to take a step to the left as the biggest resolution --moving into my own home -- takes center stage. I haven't had a single bubble bath ... not quite hitting that one bath every 14 days rule ... I haven't been bowling, I have only finished one book, I have only crossed three movies off of my list ... argh!

But, as one of my best friends is always telling me, I need to take a deep breath, be patient with myself, and take time for relaxation. I'm so excited for this next step, but I do need to live in the now. I keep finding myself thinking 'I can do that once I've moved into the new house.' And that applies to a lot of things. I can read once I've moved and I have a reading nook, I can watch more movies once I've moved into the new house and don't want to pay for cable at first. I can do xyz when I move into the new house... I need to remind myself sometimes that the move isn't happening tomorrow!

I really, really hope the 'offer' is taken the way I anticipate it will be taken and that the end result is a home purchase at a price I can afford. I'm going to ask those of you who pray, to say a little prayer for me on Wednesday around noon.

Thanks! ~kll

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Houses...homes...

It seems like two weeks have passed since yesterday morning, so much has happened...at least internally.
Yesterday morning, I was pre-approved for a mortgage as single woman...with no cosigner in sight. Maybe that isn't quite such a big deal these days, but it wasn't that long ago that a single woman wouldn't have gotten an appointment with a mortgage consultant.
Sex and the City is THE television show for many women my age. There is a reason the movie sold out theaters like crazy and the sequel is in the works. For those of you who don't follow the adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte I'll try to 'speak' generally enough that you'll be able to follow along.
Years ago there was a very memorable episode in which Miranda, arguably the most financially responsible and mature woman in the group, decided to purchase an apartment on her own. She was a lawyer, very financially stable, I think she was a partner in the law firm.
She tried to get a mortgage and the mortgage/bank guy was mortified by the idea that she would attempt to purchase a house on her own. "Will your father cosign? An ex-husband? A boyfriend?" And the classic question of the episode was "it's just for you? Just you?" And her stock answer, "Yup, it's just me."
Even Charlotte, her yuppie, rules-minded friend, argued against purchasing a home as a single woman. "It throws off the power structure." There were concerns that Miranda would never find a man if she could so easily prove she didn't really 'need' one.
I had flashbacks to that episode as I walked into the bank Friday morning. I think I was sort of geared up for a fight.
Now, for the financial side of me: I'm INCREDIBLY cheap. I pretty much don't spend money--ever. I've been living with my parents for about a decade. I'm a journalist and we pretty much don't make any money. My best friend, Chris, has been like a financial guru to me from our college days right up until the last bit of advice he gave me about a week ago. I worked really hard to pay off my credit card and my car last fall. I got a much-lower interest loan for my student loan this week and will pay it off about 3 years early (in a best-case scenario).
Apparently, being as stingy as possible translates to a really high credit score and a very quick pre-approval for a mortgage.
I think there may have been a tiny part of me hoping I wouldn't qualify...Sorry Mom and Dad, I have to live here for free forever! Whoops!
I had scheduled a house tour for later that night, but it was for a listing with no photos...and I'm extremely leery of those listings...what are they hiding? As far as I can tell, the house I toured last night is nearly perfect for me. Right price. Right size. Right storage space. Right bathroom space. Right amount of yard. Off-street parking. Hardwood kitchen floor. Appliance inclusions.
Can it really be this easy? Pre-approval in the a.m. house to buy in the p.m.?
Is this the payoff for so many tough years? Am I about to hit my stride? Could that weird little wish to be in my own home by my March 4 birthday, be a reality soon?
This is so not how I envisioned my life turning out when I was a little girl. My career in journalism was something I always knew would happen. But I think I always believed it would be accompanied by a husband and lots of babies. (And a Murphy Brown-sized salary, too...not so much.)
I think I even put off moving out of my parents house, even into an apartment, because on some level I always thought it might be a waste of time. The relationships I had throughout my mid to late 20s always seemed to be 'going somewhere.' So why not wait to move out until the time I would be 'moving-in?'
The last relationship I ended has taught me how silly I've been for so long! This is MY life! MY LIFE.
When I look back on the girl I was, who was waiting for someone to complete her ... I just don't recognize that girl. To be fair, I was never in a financial position before now to purchase a house and ultimately staying at home for so long is what made it possible. But, still I've wasted a lot of time.
Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm grabbing life with both hands. I'm grabbing two big handfuls and I'm running with them. They might just be full of paint I can throw on my new walls...
~kll

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Under attack!

Today, as I prepared to turn my computer at work off for the night I got an unexpected pop-up window announcing that my computer was under attack!

I have to admit that at first I sort of laughed and kept clicking off of the window because I assumed it was an advertisement of some sort...but apparently it's a spy ware virus that operates by trying to guilt you into 'protecting' your computer by clicking 'yes.' I repeatedly clicked 'no,' but it wouldn't stop. It wouldn't even let me log out of my computer.

It felt a little like a pirate was communicating with me via pop-up window. "Beware, you're under attack...argh matey..."

The best part was that my options were to click yes to install antivirus live or to click the button that read "leave my computer unprotected" ... like this is an option that people want to choose!

I had to yank my thumb drive, so I'm hoping it's not infected or anything. I ran home and changed the password to every one of my Internet accounts just in case.

Now, I'm frantically searching my mind. Did I wander into some Internet vortex today that the IT guys are furiously scrambling to fix? Am I going to get in trouble for accessing my bank account and my facebook account during the work day?
The last site I visited, just to kill time while waiting for things to save to my thumb drive, was awkward family photos dot com or something. I told the IT guy I was only in a few Web sites today that I don't access on a routine basis...argh!

It's scary to be under attack by out of sight Internet pirates! I wonder if anything is left of my hard drive...
~kll

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On writing

In my professional life, I'm a newspaper editor, a reporter, a photographer, a paginator, a manager, and chief bottle washer ~ but when you peel all of those layers away, I'm basically just a writer.
I belong to a writer's group in Pittsburgh. We critique each other's work on a mostly monthly basis. The writers in the group are amazing and I'm extremely lucky they let me tag along.

They are so knowledgeable about different aspects of writing, different genres, techniques, etc.

I've known that I wanted to be a writer since I was about five or six years old. I know that sounds ridiculous or impossible, but I have a vivid memory of my father teaching me how to write in cursive and I fell in love with the motion of my hand sweeping the pencil over the page. I never put my notebooks down after that. Watching TV? I would be writing something. Playing with my friend? We had pretend businesses and I was in charge of 'paperwork.'

Storytelling came later. Sitting in the back seat of our van, on the way to our grandparents' homes or maybe on a camping trip, I would stare out the window until I saw something that triggered a story idea and I would amuse myself by spinning tales about whatever I'd seen. People-watching is incredibly important in my storytelling process.
In second-grade, my teacher gave 'awards' to everyone in the class and mine was 'best storyteller.' That was about 25 years ago and I still remember how it felt to claim that prize.

Journalism came a little later. I loved the show Murphy Brown and thought, well...I guess I'll have to be a really important reporter. When I think back on those days, I can't help but laugh at what I assumed my career would be like.
I assumed I would be flown all over the world to cover very important stories, just like Murphy. My college years didn't diminish that expectation very much, I just figured I'd end up at the New York Times one day...(wow, to be 20 again and think those things would come so easily!)

Community journalism came after that.
My first job interview was with a terrifying woman who criticized my college portfolio but praised my spelling. It didn't look good. She brought in an even scarier guy whose first question was 'what is your least favorite form of writing?' I answered scientific and technical -- that class was agony -- and he considered this for a minute before saying 'that's good, most new reporters wouldn't admit that there was any kind of writing they didn't like.' Then he left the room. I overheard the executive editor outside the conference room telling everyone that she finally found someone who could spell...and then she offered me a job.
Three months after graduation from college, I was a reporter with a weekly, community newspaper in a suburb of Pittsburgh.
I spent that first year assuming I would move on to a daily paper in no time...you know, begin that ladder climb. I left for a bi-weekly paper after one year. One month later that paper was closed and I lost my job.
The terrifying lady, who I'd grown to love as a mentor and a friend, gladly took me back. I took a new beat and stayed there, loving my job, for four and a half years. Then I was forced to leave that lovely town and take a neighboring beat. Actually 'beat' is a good word for that job because by the end of my three years there, I felt pretty beat up.
I started questioning my desire to stay in community journalism. I love journalism at the community level and I love weekly papers. I love being the main source of information for a town. I love having the flexibility to cover stories that the dailies don't have room to cover. Did Johnnie catch his first fish? Send me a picture. A second-grade class met their goal of reading 200 books? Let me write that story. Grandma's church group knitted blankets for the poor? Give me a ring!
The world of journalism is having a pretty rough time right now...it's been getting worse since the economy started tanking. As journalists, we all live with the reality that papers can close...at any time and without warning. Last year, our company offered a buy-out and I really considered it. Take the money, use the time off to find a new job...but I just couldn't do it.
When I was at the end of my rope at work, a new opportunity presented itself. An editor in another division of our company did take the buyout. He was the editor in my grandfather's hometown. My mother's hometown. The paper, when I found it, was in horrible shape. It was pretty evident that the former editor had been preparing for retirement for awhile. I felt this surge of enthusiasm for the job again. I sort of begged the boss for the chance to get my hands on that paper and resurrect it. I got that job on May 1, 2009.
It's amazing how loving your job can affect the rest of your life. I love the town I cover now. I love having final say on each week's paper as the editor. I like doing a lot of the photography. I love working with freelancers and teaching them the way I was taught about a decade ago.

Throughout the last 25 years of my life and 10 years of my career, I always assumed I would write a book at some point. It's along the lines of the New York Times assumption...no biggie, I'll just eventually become an author.
That is not how it works.

I'm working on a book, which will be my first full-fledged attempt at a novel, and I realized again this week how lucky I am to be part of this writer's group. I find that when it's time for my piece to be critiqued, these authors are literally saving me from myself. I fall in love with my writing too often. I don't think critically, because I love the story I'm telling at that moment. I'm so glad to have them in my life. I'm so grateful.
I've focused on journalism for so long, I never gained the knowledge about fiction-writing that this group has and is sharing with me. I would love to finish this book and see it go somewhere!

~kll

Saturday, January 2, 2010

On being a pisces...

There is a big part of me that genuinely buys into my horoscope and an equally big part that thinks I'm probably a little crazy for even reading it.

The problem is that I'm a Pisces and every word I've ever read about the basic make-up of a Piscean personality matches me to a 'T.' So every now and then I check in with some random horoscope Web site ~ usually http://shine.yahoo.com/astrology ~ and I'm always struck by how dead-on the 'big picture' readings are for me. The daily versions I don't put a lot of stock in but the monthly and yearly versions usually have me pegged dead to rights.

Portions of my 2010 yearly horoscope:

"Okay, pause for a moment and check your pulse. Still there? Good. That means you survived the last couple of years with both Saturn and Pluto in less-than-perfect places for you. And by "less than perfect," I mean "lousy." Good news! Both of astrology's heavyweights have moved on to more constructive places for you. Now is the time to take that famous Pisces sensitivity (still intact from the challenges of the last while) and put it to work making your life a happier and more comfortable place.

As a result of the last couple of years worth of hassle, you'll be a stronger person with better judgment.

One more noteworthy change from the previous year: Jupiter will be in your sign for most of the year, giving you a new-found sense of optimism and happiness about things no matter how they turn out. There will be a renewed emphasis on health, fitness and personal well-being in the spring -- take advantage of that."

I have to admit this horoscope has hit the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to the last few years being lousy and that I'm starting this year with "a new-found sense of optimism and happiness..."

I would never take a horoscope seriously enough to 'beware of a coworker on the 9th' or to 'wear your most romantic pair of pants on the 23rd' (what in the world does that mean?)...but I like taking pieces of my long-range horoscope to heart in the form of advice. Sometimes advice your friends won't give you like this little bit I cut out of the above passage "You'll be feeling expansive, but be careful not to expand too much -- this transit also comes with a more than usual chance of weight gain." Duly noted Ms. Astrologist, duly noted.

There is something oddly affirmative about knowing that Jupiter is on my side this year and 'the stars have aligned' or something in favor of more happiness. Even if all this carries with it is a placebo effect, who cares? My personal motto, for as long as I can remember having one, is that every person should do whatever they have to do to be happy, whatever that means. I don't mean that people should be selfish and take advantage of others to be happy, this is a much simpler concept.
My best friend Bill, who died almost 8 years ago, needed medication to be at peace. He didn't want to be on medication at all, but my thought was and is that we all deserve to be happy. If that means you need to take a pill, or go jump roping on Tuesdays, or only walk on the left side of the street on Saturdays, you should do what you need to do to make yourself happy -- no matter how strange others may think it is...no matter how strange you think it is. Everyone deserves happiness.
I'm in the process of figuring out what I need to be the happiest that I'm capable of being...and you can bet your bottom dollar that when I figure it all out, I'll be doing it. I'm going to tuck away this little bit of information about Jupiter being in the right spot this year...it's always good to have something in your corner...no matter how cheesy!
~kll

Friday, January 1, 2010

Best. New. Year's. Day. Ever!

I'm not sure I can remember a Jan. 1 in my life that has been as perfect as today has been!

I spent nearly all day today with two of my closest friends ~ definitely two of my longest friendships ~ and their 3 month old daughter, Arabella. I haven't seen them since the day after the baby was born and even though I forgot the gifts I purchased months ago, she and I had a great time getting to know each other. She's an amazingly tough little girl. At 3 months she's holding her head up and darn close to standing. We watched the winter classic game, had pizza, and I talked for several hours...sometimes you forget how nice it is to just to talk to friends. And now I'm enjoying my new electric blanket and writing my new blog!

I can't think of anything in the world I would have preferred to do to ring in a new year!

So, on to the resolutions ~ there are 23 of them...approximately. I tend to overdo it when it comes to list-making. Some are not for public consumption, I think most of us have resolutions that are a little too internal for sharing.

As I mentioned in my previous post, these resolutions are recycled from last year.I'm not going to list them all, but I'll refer to the majority of them from time to time.

I hope to read nearly every book I own this year. I have a book-buying problem. I love buying and owning books. I love being surrounded by them. I love stacking them on my night stand and having one perched on the edge of my bed within reach. The problem is that I've become so busy in recent years it's become more difficult to finish my beloved books. My new theory is that I can directly relate the increased stress in my life to the decreased number of finished books in my life. Many of my resolutions are geared toward relieving stress. So, I have a list of every book I own and before I allow myself to purchase another book, I'm going to finish the books I already own. Given how cheap...er frugal...I am in every other area of my life, it always amazes me how much I'm willing to spend at Barnes and Noble or Amazon!

I have a movie list. I don't watch a lot of movies and I rarely get a chance to go to the theater. Last year, I made a list of all of the movies I always hear people talking about that I've never seen and that I'd like to see. Most of my movie list is made up of classics ~ Schindler's List, Psycho, Citizen Kane, and The Way We Were are among the titles I was able to cross off the list last year.

I'd like to visit each museum in the general Pittsburgh region. I love art and I don't go often enough. I'd really like to get to the Carnegie museums of art and history this year. I would like company for these visits, but be warned...it takes me a very long time to adequately savor each piece before moving on.

I'd like to go no more than 14 days without spending an hour in a hot bubble bath with a glass of pinot noir and soft jazz music. It probably sounds ridiculous that I need to schedule relaxation, but try being a newspaper editor and get back to me ;)

I'd like to go bowling at least three times this year.

I'd like to finish my articles portfolio. This will be a huge task and will take a good bit of time/organization.

I would like to make sure that I visit my out-of-town friends every other month. Tex and Ber one month, Chris and Anna the next month. I plan to visit Japan and my best friend M. I'd also like to make sure that I get to visit Jason, Mandy and Arabella at least every other month. I don't want to let too much time pass between visiting those who mean so much to me.

I would like to visit my grandmother on a regular basis and work on the "Between you and me, Grandma" journal I gave her for Christmas. These journals are amazing. You give it to someone you love and they can either answer the questions and return it to you, or you can do what we're going to do and work on it together. I'll get to learn things about her that I might never have considered asking. My grandfather and I worked on a "Grandpa" journal for most of this year. We didn't get a chance to finish it. My grandma and I will definitely finish our project. Check out these journals, I defy you to click away without thinking about picking up one or nine for the ones you love ~ www.sanddunebooks.com.

I'd like to finish the book I'm writing by the end of the year.

I'd like to be living in a house I own in time for my March 4 birthday. What a gift that would be!

Just reading through all of these lists makes my eyes a little droopy so I am off to sleep!

~kll