starting, again

Hello, again!


After an extended quiet period, I’m back.  I have news: I got a job!  Starting Monday, I will be an Associate Attorney with a small, Land Use law firm in the greater Hartford area.  It’s a very good fit for me with my Law degree and my Master’s in Urban Planning.  I am just thrilled to be finally (finally!) starting my career.


The last eighteen months have been tough.  December 2012 I finished my Master’s degree.  I had already graduated from law school in May 2012, and I already had taken and passed the New York bar exam.  But December 2012 is when I started waiting.  I waited nine months for Alan to finish his PhD, so we could move.  Then I had to wait six months to take the Connecticut Bar exam, and another three to find out if I passed [I did!].


I didn’t enjoy waiting.  Sure, my friends would mention that they’d love an extended vacation, and yes, it’s been nice to take daily naps if I want.  But I realized early on that rest is only rest if you’re resting from something.  The weekend is sweet because you’re going back to work Monday.  Getting up every day with an entire, open day in front of you gets tiresome and demoralizing.


On the other hand, I really learned how to be alone in these eighteen months.  And I think it’s been a good lesson.  I’m more comfortable being alone with my thoughts, alone in the quiet.  I used to get quite frustrated with the time between 5:00pm, when I wanted Alan to come home, and 7:00 or 8:00, when he actually arrived home.  I hated that quiet, alone time.  I wanted to be talking about my day, making plans for the evening or weekend, discussing dinner or current events.  I wanted to go right from school/work to talking.  I’ve learned to be happy with some quiet, alone time.


I have lots of fun things to tell you about.  Since I’ve gone quiet, I’ve taken up crosswords and Crossfit.  We’ve started to renovate and redecorate the new house.  Alan and I found a church we really like, and have gotten involved in small groups and service.  I bought a whole new work wardrobe (see above RE: Crossfit), and am embracing the idea of a capsule wardrobe.  For nine months, I got to be close to my sister (she was in Boston, we’re 100 miles away in Hartford), and then I got to help her move to Minnesota for an awesome new job.  I’ll work on telling some of these stories, as well as new ones that haven’t happened yet.  I’ll also continue to link to my Instagram account, so you can see snapshots of my life (which is mostly the cats).


Well, today is the last day of my 18 month vacation.  I’m going to do some grocery shopping and maybe take a nap.  :)





getting the house ready to sell

I redid the kitchen last fall.

I just remodeled the bathroom.

The living parts of the house are fairly tidy (empty).  The storage areas (porch, basement, loft, garage) are not.  They have lots of stuff, and they aren’t very well organized.

We’re having a yard sale next Saturday (the 17th), which will go a long way towards clearing those parts out.  My goal is to either sell or pack everything that’s currently in storage by next Saturday.

There’s a small list of other things to do around the house: paint both stairways (the walls, not the stairs), hang two cabinet doors in the kitchen, install crown molding in the bathroom, take down photos, fill holes & touch-up paint.

I had a realtor come over today to look at the house.  I gave him our list of things to do, and we walked through the house.  He asked me if this was going to be a “spring sale.”

“Next spring?!” I asked, incredulous.


“Um, we’re moving in a month.  I want to get the house on the market ASAP so we can put an offer on the house I love in East Hartford.”

“Well,” he said, “this is a long list…”


So that was sort of a bummer.  It’s possible that he was thinking that Alan and I both work full time, and would only have evenings and weekends in which to work.  Alan’s dissertation defense is tomorrow (!!!), and hopefully he’ll be home more after that. [I know I said that when he turned in his dissertation, and he was home more.  But he still worked 60-ish hours a week, which doesn’t leave tons of time for projects.  After defending tomorrow, he has to make the changes his committee suggests, and he wants to write another paper for publication.]

If we’re both home during the day, and working on the house, I don’t see why we can’t get it done in a couple of weeks.  There will be heavy lifting clearing the storage areas, sorting our stuff, lots of painting, lots of cleaning… But we can do it, right?

I’m kind of bewildered right now.  Every day we don’t list our house is another day that someone else will make an offer on the East Hartford house.  I’m making progress, but my injury has slowed me down significantly.  I had hoped that we could list the house, and then keep working on it.


For the next 24 hours, I will focus on Alan’s dissertation defense.  Then we’ll revisit home improvement and listing the house.  It’ll be okay. :)




Week Wrap-Up // Link Round-Up // July 12-18

cherry tree in our backyard; too bad the cherries are mushy and tasteless

cherry tree in our backyard; too bad the cherries are mushy and tasteless

It has been so hot here.  I heard on the radio yesterday that the heat wave has coincided with record humidity here in Western New York, and oh, has it been hot.  Sorry for the absence of posts this week: the heat slowed me way down, which gave me nothing to blog about, and no energy with which to blog!

I’ve been trying to finish up the bathroom so we can get our house on the market.  I got some done Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday I just couldn’t be in that tiny room anymore.  I’ll start (and hopefully finish!) again tomorrow, when it cools off.

Alan submitted another paper to be published this week (it would be his fourth), and is working on yet another.  All those evenings we were going to spend together?  Yeah, right.  But at least he’s not working overnights any more.  And we did find time to start watching Orange is the New Black.

My brother, sister-in-law, and niece are going to be nearby next week, so I’m going to try to visit with them some–in-between working on the house.

Links after the jump! Continue reading


Alan turned in his dissertation yesterday morning.  He got four copies (180 pages each) printed and bound: one at Staples, three at the university print shop.  He stuck around school most of the day to field any potential phone call regarding paperwork.

At 3:30pm I picked him up.  We hung out at home for a few hours.  We were going to go out, but Alan seemed pretty bushed.  He wanted hamburgers and milkshakes for dinner.  I wanted to go to a movie.  I swung by Wegmans and got supplies for milkshakes and burgers, along with some cheese, rice crackers, and raspberries for an appetizer, and a six-pack of beer.  I also got a movie from Redbox.

Alan snacked while I cooked up a couple of hamburgers.  For Alan, I pressed some jarred jalapenos into the patties, and topped the cooked burgers with pepper-jack cheese and arugula.  I pressed my patties thin and cooked them until they were really brown on the outside.  I melted some cheddar cheese over the top and ate them with a fork and knife (no bun).  Alan wanted a vanilla-caramel-bourbon milkshake like he had at a restaurant recently.  I think I did a pretty good job of replicating it.

We watched the movie, and went to bed early, chatting for quite a while before nodding off.  Copper came up and snuggled between Alan’s knees and mine.  Ptoley looked out the bedroom window for a while, and then went downstairs to sleep, as is his custom.

It was such a regular, mundane evening (dinner, movie, bed), but we haven’t had it in so long.  It felt like the best, most romantic date ever.

I got back to tiling the bathroom today (I’m off to mix up another batch of mortar after this), Alan read some wikipedia articles (a hobby of his), and mowed the lawn.  We’re headed out to a restaurant tonight to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  It’s nice to be back to a rhythm: work, rest, friends, chatting, down-time, entertainment, cats, food.  I’m very happy :)



Did you find a typo in the post? Let me know here.


As I’ve alluded in the past few weeks, Alan is finishing up his dissertation.  He accepted a job in Hartford four and a half weeks ago, and immediately went into gotta-finish-the-dissertation mode.

For reference, let me back up to early November 2012.  Alan had just interviewed with a company in DC, and they tentatively offered him a job, which he tentatively said he was interested in.  He started to work hard to finish up: working occasional overnights, working six or seven days a week.  He’s always been a hard worker.  I’d say he’s worked at least 60 hours a week his entire graduate career.  After the DC job offer he bumped that up to at least 80 hours a week.  I didn’t like it, but it seemed temporary–for a while he was hoping to finish before the beginning of 2013.

So at the end of May when he accepted this other job offer (the DC offer was materially changed as a result of the Sequester/Fiscal Cliff budget cut, so when Alan was recruited by this Hartford company, he pursued the opportunity), I was incredulous that he could work any more than he already was.  He had been working 80-100 hours a week for five months!

But he did: he started working harder and longer hours.  Alan’s a night person.  He gets a second wind around 10pm, and does his best work of the day after that.  Additionally, his entire “group” at the university uses the same lasers, so it’s worth it to run a bunch of experiments once they are set up.  And working over-night is good because the rest of his group is generally not there, so the laser is free.

Alan has worked every night for the last four weeks.  He works overnight, comes home somewhere between 2am and 6am, and sleeps until about noon.  Then he goes back to school, and works the entire afternoon, evening, and overnight again.  A couple of times a week we eat lunch together before he goes back in.  And a couple of times a week he comes home at 8pm for dinner, and goes back in at 9 or 10pm.

I am excited because it’s almost over!

The absolute drop-dead date is June 28th–less than two weeks.  That’s the deadline for turning in his dissertation if he wants to defend this summer, and he does want to defend this summer!  He’s aiming to turn it in a week early, so that if there are any issues he can resolve them before the 28th.  So as early as this Friday he could be done with the intense, 125 hour weeks!  We are both so, so excited about that!

People have asked me if I’m excited about moving and selling our house, and I’ve said that I simply cannot think about that yet.  Alan’s crazy schedule affects me: I pick him up and drop him off if he’s too tired to run to work.  I bring groceries by a couple of times a week.  I sleep fitfully until he comes home, and don’t start working on projects (like the bathroom) until after he wakes up at noon.  If I start thinking about the new house and such, I’ll want to talk to Alan about it.  And he simply doesn’t have the spare emotional energy!

So in a week or so our lives (and by extension this blog) will be much more exciting.  I’ll finish up the bathroom renovation, and start on other projects around the house.  We will be researching real estate agents and looking at houses in Hartford (I visited one when Alan interviewed that I looooooooooove, but who knows if it will still be for sale when we sell our house).  I will focus more energy on getting a job in Hartford.  And we’ll have time to do fun things again, like go on bike dates and visit my grandma’s cottage in the Finger Lakes.

We’re close!

tired Alan  |  we went to the Lilac Festival for a delightful day-date before he went into work one day a few weeks ago

Do you have any stories about graduate school?  Did you or someone you love write a dissertation?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Did you find a typo in the post? Let me know here.

cat basket & finals

Last week I read The Joy of Less on my Kindle, and for the first time the minimalist thing clicked with me.  Don’t keep things you don’t need.  It’s so simple!

I eyed the basket in the picture above.  I bought it years ago to hold magazines, but it was quickly claimed by Sebastian (our cat at the time).  I found an inexpensive cat bed that I slipped into the basket, and boom: it was a cat basket.

Copper and Ptoley mostly ignored the basket.  Sometimes they’d sleep there if the fire was on.  But mostly it just sat under a chair, taking up space.

I was looking around the living room, finding things to toss or donate, and I came to the cat basket.  “Do the cats even like this anymore?” I asked Alan.  He didn’t know.  I said that I’d give the cats a week, and if no one went in the basket, I’d toss it.

I pulled the basket out from under the chair, and snuggled it up to the fireplace mantle.  I picked Copper up and plopped him in the basket.  He jumped right out.  I tried to get Ptoley in the basket, but he did that cat thing where he stiffened all his legs, put his claws out, and refused to put all four legs in the basket at the same time.

I thought I might coax Ptoley into the basket by putting his sheepskin in it.  He loves that thing, and sleeps on it almost exclusively.  I put the sheepskin in the basket–it hung way over the edge–and went on with my day.

Soon I found Copper in the basket, wedged in with the sheepskin.

So I had the brilliant idea to cut the sheepskin.  One part would go in the bottom of the basket.  The other part would go back on Ptoley’s chair.  It always hung down over the side of the chair anyway.  So with a few quick measurements–“measure once, cut twice,” Alan added helpfully–I had two pieces.  The one fit perfectly in the bottom of the basket, and the other covered the seat of Ptoley’s favorite chair.

Now, if I can’t find Copper, I look in the basket.  He loves it.  He kneads the sheepskin, and curls up in the basket, even if there’s no fire.

It’s nice that they’re using the basket, but I’m a little bummed.  Copper used to snuggle me, and knead my tummy.  I’ve been replaced by a sheepskin in a basket…  On the other hand, Copper likes to lay on my arms when I’m studying, and then give me very annoyed looks when I use my arms.  So it’s nice that he has somewhere he can curl up and be happy.


I am in my final eight days of the semester/my master’s degree/graduate school!  I can’t believe its going to be o.v.e.r!

Posts will be light this week–probably just some cat pictures.  I’ve got a few more projects to finish up, and I want to do a good job.  This is it–my last chance to be a good student!

Once the semester is over, I’m going to tackle more of the house.  I’d like to clear the clutter before our Christmas party.  It’ll be nice to have a clean house for the party.  It’ll also be nice when we move to DC to not move a bunch of stuff we don’t like or don’t use.

I’ll be back 12/12 with more posts, recipes, stories, and pictures!


Did you find a typo in the post?  Let me know here.

Week Wrap-Up // Link Round-Up // Nov 10-16

This week continues our saga of trying to graduate!  I submitted my Master’s Project (Urban Planning equivalent of a thesis) for first round of grading and feedback on Monday.  Alan’s been hard at work in the lab.  He got home last night around 11:45, and then went down to the basement to solder some equipment for the lab.  The guy works hard!

Tonight I’m speaking at our church’s monthly young adults gathering on service, and using your gifts and talents.  I have a list of schoolwork that I want to complete before Thanksgiving break.  When we get back from break there are only two weeks left in the semester, and I have four huge projects to finish!

click through for links