bet you miss your friends

It finally caught up with me. I’ve been so busy setting up house, getting the girls into school, volunteering for the Clinton campaign, and hanging out with family that I haven’t actually had a chance to realize I’m really effing lonely.

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Until Saturday. There was a cool kid event going on, so I took the girls. It was a “pop-up free-range playground” event where tons of boxes, tape, tubes, fabric, wheels, ropes, and other recycled materials were out on a playground and no parents were allowed in while kids played and obeyed the only rules “have as much fun as you can and try not to hurt yourself or others.” Volunteers supervised and helped with scissors, but NO PARENTS ALLOWED. There was free coffee nearby in the area for parents to hang out.

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If I were still in Little Rock, I would have rounded up my parent-friends and we would have been drinking coffee and chatting while our kids played. In fact, that’s what all the other parents there seemed to have done. They were chatting in groups, rocking younger siblings on hips. I got myself a coffee, sat down, and tried to figure out how to make friends. The longer I sat there, the more I felt like the odd kid out at a middle school dance. I wanted to burst into tears.

I miss my friends. I am so lonely.

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When I got home and finally did let the tears flow, Jon reminded me of my freshman year self, bounding up and down the halls of my dorm, basically insisting people be my friend. I don’t know where that girl went, but I am not her anymore. I certainly wish I had her energy. I know I’m good enough, smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me, but I just don’t have it in me to walk up to a group of people already engrossed in conversation and attempt to say hi. Hi. I am so very new here. Hi. I am desperate to make some friends. Hi. Can you please talk to me? Hi. Can you see me over here just wishing you would break the ice and let me into your circle? You seem really cool with your rad glasses and your star-embroidered Ergo. You said you’re from Birmingham and I’m eavesdropping but I’m a displaced Southerner too. Oh, wow, you have twin boys and I have twin girls, and OMG your new baby is so cute and please let’s be friends.

I know eventually, we will have friends. It’s going to happen somehow. But it really sucks in the meantime.

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Update: after I wrote this mopey post, we visited a church, and I really liked it. I also found out they have a moms group that meets on Fridays, and the one this coming Friday is about tapping into your creativity. So I’m going to go and try to be brave and try to make some friends.

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hi from denver

My last post here was over a month ago, and that was technically a guest post. Moving 1,000 miles keeps you pretty busy, I guess!

We’re settling in nicely to our new house and new city. There’s just a handful of boxes still lingering around. We successfully navigated the DMV, and are now licensed drivers with little green mountains on our car instead of my beloved plaid Lyon College Alumni Arkansas plates. We’ve toured schools and applied to a great one for the girls. (Best quote overheard while touring hippie Montessori schools: “If you’re going to choose to go meditate, I would encourage you to put away your polo bat so you can truly focus on your individual self.”) We’ve welcomed my sister and her husband to Denver, too, and helped them move into their apartment just 1.5 miles from our house. I got a bike! We got little trailers for the girls to ride behind us so we can be a family of cycling urban explorers.

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Jon and Etta trying out her new bike trailer for the first time. She’s a natural!

Perhaps the most unbelievable thing? Me, anxiety ridden me? I feel pretty great. Maybe it’s just the Effexor, since we haven’t made new friends yet or really developed a routine, and Jon’s been off for the last month, but I actually think we’re starting a really great new chapter here. I love the weather. I love the mountains. I love the feeling of a million new restaurants just waiting to be tried. I miss Little Rock a lot already, and I reallllly miss our friends and family in Arkansas, but I am feeling bizarrely optimistic.

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Yesterday Jon and I celebrated TEN FREAKING YEARS of marriage. I had a big realization as I was writing Jon’s card– usually at such milestones, we’re like “I can’t believe we made it this far!” But as we hit 10 years, for me, it’s more like “I don’t believe I would have made it through the last 10 years without this strong rock of a relationship at the center of our shared life.” This marriage is GOOD. Everything else in my world may be uncertain, but this is the place where I feel loved, supported, understood, and buoyed to face whatever comes. Even stuff like moving all the way to Denver, apparently.

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Now that we’re settled, I hope to get back into writing more and sharing with you as we build a new life in a new place. I think we’re going to be writing another great chapter of our story here.

House Hunters: Bufflo Fam in Denver

As you know, my family is moving from Little Rock, Arkansas to Denver…next week. Initially, our plan was to stay with family there for a few months as we explored the city and figured out which neighborhood we wanted to live in before committing to buying a house. Then, a few weeks ago, we found out we had an opportunity to buy the house Jon’s grandparents built in the 1950s, which his aunt and uncle have been living in for the last several years. The only thing was, we needed to decide soon, because the Denver real estate market moves fast. Number one real estate market in the country fast. Cue a whirlwind trip to Denver.

As we ate breakfast on our first morning there, we realized that, like every house hunter on HGTV, we had three main choices before us: the grandparents’ house, a city house, or new construction in an area of Denver called Stapleton (a redevelopment of an area that used to be the airport into a “New Urban” community).

The Grandparents’ House

Jon’s grandparents’ house obviously held a lot of emotional pull. The idea of keeping the place in the family really appealed to us. Plus, it had a lot of great midcentury modern appeal, and great mountain views. The main drawbacks were that it was in Wheat Ridge, an area of town farther from the Children’s Hospital than we had initially been considering, and that it would need significant renovations to get it to where we wanted it to be.

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New Construction

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A lot of people who heard we were moving to Denver asked us if we were considering Stapleton, because it’s apparently one of THE places to be if you’re a family with young kids. We toured the community and several model homes. I can’t lie, the homes are large and gorgeous, and I could imagine that we would easily make friends with other families just hanging out in the community’s playgrounds. There is also lots of shopping, dining, and great schools nearby. However, the lot sizes are very small, with postage stamp yards, and the area had more of a cookie-cutter, suburban feel than we are really into. We currently live in an older neighborhood full of 20s Craftsman bungalows, and that’s the style we like.

So we crossed off Stapleton, which left us considering the grandparents’ house and a house on the east side of the city where we had been thinking we would buy before the grandparents’ house came into consideration. We knew we’d need to see some houses in the city in order to really decide if the grandparents’ house was a real contender, so we connected with a Realtor through a friend, and planned a very ambitious day of house hunting. We saw 12 properties in one day!

City House

Since the Children’s Hospital is on the east side of Denver, we were considering areas like Park Hill, Five Points, Cole, Whittier, and Congress Park. One way in which Jon and I differ from most couples on HGTV shows is, we’re in almost complete agreement about the kind of homes we like. I really think either of us could pick out a house for the other one without them there, and they’d be totally pleased. In fact, I once did that when we first moved back to Little Rock– I chose our rental house on my own, but Jon loved it! Our Realtor said we set a speed record for seeing houses for him. We could walk right into a place and know if it was a contender or not, and if not, there’s no sense wasting time there.

Of the 12 places we saw, we ended up with 5 strong contenders:

  1. The Garden Bed House: had an amazing front yard with a ton of raised beds for Jon’s “victory garden,” and a large back yard with a covered patio too. However, the interior living space was smaller than we’d like, and the ceiling in the basement was a little low for my 6’3″ husband.FullSizeRender 5
  2. The Funky Victorian: was on an AMAZING triple lot with a pond and gazebo. Had been nicely renovated with an amazing kitchen and dining space. The main drawbacks were there was no bedroom on the main floor, which we prefer for Claire, and the ceilings in the upper floor were slanted in strange ways because of the roof– Jon might not have been able to shower in the master shower because it was so low!FullSizeRender 3
  3. Race St: I walked into this little Victorian bungalow and loved it. It had been nicely renovated into a big open kitchen/dining/living room, had two bedrooms on the main floor, had a second floor master suite, and a great basement with playroom, guest room, and full bath. However, the yard was the size of a postage stamp, mostly eaten up by the large garage. Also, we weren’t entirely sure about the schools it was zoned for.FullSizeRender 4
  4. The Congress Park House: This house and street reminded me a lot of our current neighborhood. It had a great Craftsman feel, and the tiny closets to go along with it. The main drawbacks were that it was near a noisy street, the back yard was looked down on by a large apartment building behind it, and the basement had a real hobbit feel with curvy floors that hand’t been fully dug out to level it. Also, because of its location, it was at the very top of our budget. FullSizeRender
  5. The Hip Bungalow: This house was very similar to the Race St. house, but had cool exposed-brick walls in the main living space, and a slightly larger yard. However, it had no finished basement, and all the bedrooms were upstairs. We were the very first people to see this house, and it was already under contract the next day. Not kidding about how fast the Denver market moves. FullSizeRender 2

Decision Time

Ultimately, we were left considering the Grandparents’ House and the Race St. House. The day after all our showings, we had to catch a morning flight back home. When we went to bed that night, I felt like my heart was leaning toward Race St., and I felt like Jon was leaning toward the Grandparents’ House. We slept on it and didn’t talk about the decision until we were on the way to the airport the next morning. “So, which house are you thinking about this morning?” I asked. “Oh. I decided which one I wanted at 3 am when I couldn’t sleep,” Jon said. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I’ve been with this internal processor for 13 years now, and he always needs some time to work out things in his head. What surprised me was when he said “Race St.”

He realized that what appealed to him about the Grandparents’ House was mostly emotional, but that Race St. seemed like the place we would be the happiest, in the area we had been considering all along, before the Grandparents’ House came into play. At the airport, we called our Realtor and told him to start writing up an offer. Given the seller’s market, we had to offer full price, and all closing costs, and I even wrote them a letter about why we loved their house so much. We anxiously waited to hear if we got the house, and the next morning, the call came.

WE GOT THE HOUSE! Looks like our 10 year wedding anniversary gift to each other will be a house in Denver.

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*Image of Stapleton via Flickr user BeyondDC under a Creative Commons license.

life lately: the long and short of it

Greetings from the den of our new house! We’ve been here going on 3 weeks, and I am proud to say we are mostly unpacked. The lingering boxes are almost entirely books and things that go in the linen and hall closets, and we have grand plans to get some nice built in shelving up to hold all of that stuff. There’s still nothing hanging on the walls, either, but I’m pretty happy with our progress. Being surrounded by boxes really stresses me out, so I kind of go crazy to unpack as quickly as possible. I was lucky to have a weekend without the babies, so I got a lot done in that time.

Of course, the babies weren’t here because our AC broke when we moved in, despite having passed an inspection only a few weeks before. Three different people told us we needed a new unit, and worse still, we were told it would be weeks until they could install it. Going AC-free in the humid Arkansas summer, with two tiny tots, is not a good time. So the girls were sent off to Nonni and Poppi’s, which was nice and cool. The good news is, we finally had an AC guy come and look at it, who assured me that while most people want to sell new units, “most folks just need a $5 part.” He had it working in under an hour for $90, and gentle readers, I very nearly kissed him on the mouth. He was a humble fellow, though, so I refrained, because I didn’t want to give him a heart attack. He said it may run for years to come. (If you’re local and in need of an HVAC repair guy, let me know– I’d be happy to pass on the info of such an honest guy!)

Another update is that Baby Claire has still not had her shunt surgery. It got rescheduled thanks to a bronchial infection that made having surgery soon after too risky, and we are expecting to get it on the books soon. I will let you know!

I also realized that something big happened to me lately, and you may have noticed on Instagram, but I never wrote about it….

After over 3 years of dreaming, I CUT OFF ALL OF MY HAIR.

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The initial chop in December. The front was still long enough to tuck behind my ears.

Now, this actually happened back in December. After a few months with a bob, I decided to go all the way to pixie town. And ever since then, each appointment, I’ve gone a little shorter. Six months later, the verdict is: I love it. It feels very “me,” as if my hair somehow matches my sensibilities. Which, considering I have been described as “impish” by others, a hairdo most suited to some sort of sprite just seems to make sense.

Since there may be some of you out there waffling on a drastic external change, can I please be the one to say: GO FOR IT.

My thinking on taking a step I had been waffling on for years was partially influenced by my recent brush with death. I mean, once you’ve faced down mortality, something as insignificant as hair just seems like a blip, not even worth agonizing over. The worst that could happen wasn’t anything scary, it was just the possibility I might not like my hair for a while until it grew out.

At the girls' first birthday.

At the girls’ first birthday.

Of course, instead of hating it, I loved it. I strangely feel more feminine with short hair, perhaps because my face can stand out that much more without hair detracting from it. Now I’m very proudly #teampixie, and I have gathered a whole pin board of continued inspiration.

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If you’re thinking of going short, I think now is a great time. I called it when I first saw the trailer, but I think Carey Mulligan’s Gatsby bob is going to have lots of girls wanting to go short. A picture of her is already my most-repinned pin. And then you can declare the Lumineers’ “Flapper Girl” to be your summertime jam as you enjoy the feeling of cool breezes on your neck in the sweltering summertime heat:

Cut off all of your hair
Did you flinch, did you care
Did he look, did he stop and stare
At your brand new hair

we’re moving!

Our new house! Plans to change the exterior colors are already in the works.

Big news, gentle readers: we’re moving.

Only this time, for a change, it’s not a huge affair across state lines, as has been twice in the last 6 years, but just a couple miles from where I now sit. Of course, this time the move involves both two small humans and a cat who will surely hate us for a while, if that time he got suicidal when we took him on a weekend trip is any indication, so it’s still a pretty big deal.

The reason for this move is, after 3 years of renting and 3 years of further medical training for my husband, he has accepted an attending position in the hospital where he’s trained for the last 3 years. In other words, we’ve decided that Little Rock, AR is the place for us for the foreseeable future.

The house search has been long and arduous. There were difficulties in securing a loan thanks to screwups on the part of the bank who last gave us a loan for our house in Charleston. We got outbid/rejected on 3 houses we really really loved. I started feeling like my dreams of a perfect 1920s charmer within biking distance of my husband’s work with no carpet, a good-sized yard for the dogs, a nice kitchen, and a bedroom/bath on the ground floor for Claire were an impossibility. Actually, it turned out that they were: our new home is not the character-filled old home that Jon and I both usually prefer, but a 1960s ranch, smack in the middle of a street full of beautiful 1920s homes. So yeah, we are kinda getting the ugly house on the block. Except that it’s been fully renovated, has gorgeous dark hardwoods, and a really beautiful kitchen, even if it’s darker and more masculine than I would have chosen were I designing my dream kitchen from scratch (think lots of white and subway tiles and LIGHT). And we’re going from a 1200 sq ft 2 bed/2 bath to 4 beds/3 baths, with a huge carpeted den that I foresee will become our main hangout with the girlies the majority of the time. We’re not going to know what to do with ourselves with all that space! And if I ever get sad about the lack of crystal doorknobs or quirky built-ins, I will console myself by stepping into my WALK IN CLOSET, which is a real treat after 6 years in very old houses with very tiny closets.

Oh hey there, pretty kitchen. Busy backsplash aside, you’re pretty good lookin’!

We close on Monday, but won’t move in for a week or so while we have the house painted. Currently EVERY SINGLE WALL is a weird mustard-y beige, and that just can’t stand. This gives me time to oh…start packing?

I look forward to setting up our nest in our new home, and fully expect to be doing a lot more DIY/decor/home type blogging along the way. I’ve got all kinds of plans.

packing and panicking and other fun times

Image "To Go", a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mojodenbowsphotostudio's photostream

Yesterday I packed the first of what will surely be many boxes in anticipation of moving in two weeks.  And yesterday evening, I sat on the couch, sobbing into my husband’s chest.  He asked me why I was so sad about moving, and I couldn’t even put it into words.  Still can’t.  All I can muster is, “It’s just SO HARD.”  Yes, I’m scared about what is going to happen to us financially if we can’t sell our house here.  Yes, I’m scared about finding a job in Little Rock.  And yes, I’m looking forward to meeting all the people in Little Rock that I’ve already befriended online, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, and I’m looking forward to spending time with my family, so you’d think I’d be overjoyed.  But I’m not.  At least not yet.  So for now, I’m packing boxes, and tallying up lasts– last Monday morning drive to work, last trip to the beach, last visits to our favorite restaurants–and I’m piling up Kleenex, and I’m stacking up worries.  If you notice I’m quiet around here, or otherwise, please send up a little prayer or some positive vibes for me, as these next two weeks are sure to be very, very hard.

a breakup

As the sun sets on our time in Charleston, I'm realizing how much I'm going to miss it.

Three years ago, I crazily agreed to move to Charleston, SC, sight unseen, for Jon to do a residency in pediatrics.  I hadn’t even laid eyes on the place until a marathon weekend when we came to buy a house (our first house!).  While the first year was so so so very hard, being my first year post-college, my second year of marriage, Jon’s super-hellish intern year, and the farthest we’d ever lived from all our nearest and dearest, we eventually realized it wasn’t so bad here.  After working a crappy real estate job for a year and a half, I got laid off due to the recession and found a much better (though lower-paying) job at a college with coworkers I enjoy and the opportunity to take some graduate English classes and realize that English lit really is my passion.  And it seems that now, just as I’ve hit my stride, we’ve begun the slow process of saying goodbye.

In some ways, I feel like we’re still living with a girlfriend we’ve already broken up with.  We’ve already got one foot out the door.  And even though our house is up for sale, and I’ve already taken to browsing cute houses in the neighborhood we’re hoping to live in in Little Rock (where Jon is now going to be doing a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine), it’s like Charleston is making a last-ditch effort to win our hearts and keep us from walking away.  She’s decking herself out in golden sunshine and gorgeous flowers- camellias and pear trees and azaleas– hoping to catch our eye with her beauty.  She’s warming up and whispering in our ears about lazy afternoons spent sitting on the beach.  She’s even started sweet talking us– my boss can’t stop lamenting my leaving and telling me what wonderful things I’ve done for the department.  And she’s trying to make us jealous, flirting with a new crop of medical residents and suggesting that maybe she’ll be just fine without us.

The truth is, I didn’t expect it, but I fell for Charleston.  I love the narrow streets and hundreds-of-years-old houses of downtown, with jasmine covered fences and gnarled live-oaks dripping with Spanish moss.  I love that there are 80+ amazing restaurants to visit and enjoy.  I love the weather.  I love being able to go to the beach every single weekend.  I love my neighborhood and my cute old house.  So while I’m ecstatic to be moving back home to Little Rock, closer to friends and family, and while I’m already scoping out the perfect Hillcrest bungalow, I’m also a little bit heartbroken to be giving up this unexpected love I found for an old Southern belle.  And as she keeps turning on her charms, it’s getting harder and harder to face the fact that we’re leaving at the end of June, no matter how excited I am to go back home.