Posts tagged ‘life’

March 2, 2016

A Labor of Love aka ‘We can’t let shit go.’

Dealing with all the flooding caused by the City demolishing the house behind Hallie (the duplex we bought from the Landbank in Sept of 2013) had worn us out. I stopped posting about it because it seemed rather hopeless honestly. The more days that past, the more the hard work we had completed was getting ruined. The Land Bank stated we had to prove that they caused the damage and so with that and the fiery motivation that drives me, I set off to jump through some hoops.

After estimates, inspections, our insurance refusing to cover the damage (it was part of the process that was required) and SO MUCH PAPERWORK, we finally met with the City Attorney’s office in May of 2015. It was awkward coming face to face with the Head of the Land Bank, the villain of our story. He kind of reminded me of John Ritter from Three’s Company minus the humor , obviously due to the seriousness of the situation. Both Joel and I agreed though, it was hard to dislike the guy.

I had never felt so much like an adult as I did that day, spouting facts with a cool calmness while assuring the City Attorney that the building could still be saved once the water drained. It was exhilarating and completely freaky all rolled into one. In the end, an agreement was reached.

It was about a month before we received the deed to the adjoining parcel of land where the demolished house had backed up to the yard of the duplex. It was another month before a crew could come out dig up the yard and replace the pipes which did ultimately join the two properties. Another month, for all the water to drain out of the basement and for the house to dry out. Another month after that, dealing with all the electrical getting approved. You get the idea, a lot of time had to go by before it could be worked on again.

I cannot emphasize enough how much Joel completely busted his ass on the upstairs unit. I worked on it here and there, but mostly kept Cam from getting into everything. We did have some help for several weeks, when Joel’s friend, Geoff was in town and was looking to make a little extra money during his stay. (Shout out to you, Geoff!! I was glad I wasn’t helping carry out an original, extremely heavy clawfoot tub!) Our neighbor, Tim was also cool and helped Joel carry in the appliances. (Unfortunately, the new fridge didn’t work and I was helping carry the new one out and a replacement back in.) #agony

Without further ado, here’s the completed 2 bedroom, 1 bath upstairs unit of Hallie.

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February 9, 2015

The Story of My Success.


I started out in life thinking if I could just turn 18, I would be an ADULT and things would be amazing! I wouldn’t have to follow rules, do chores and listen to parents. I knew better. If I could only get my own place. If I only had a car, I wouldn’t have to ride my bike everywhere, even in the winter. If college applications didn’t go off the parent’s income even though I lived on my own, I wouldn’t have to wait to start when most people were finishing. If I didn’t have to work AND go to school, it would be so much easier to graduate.

Life is supposed to go a certain way, right? The idyllic childhood, the partying, yet scholarly trip through college. Which of course enables you to land a perfect job, IMMEDIATELY, because that is what college is for. To ensure that you, me, people in general, succeed in life. All that money paid out, all that higher learning is supposed to give you an edge. A step up.

From there it gets even better. It’s TRUE! You just have to meet the ONE. The right person you will spend your entire life with. (But do it in your 20’s or it will be too late!)
Once you find THAT person, it will be magical! There will be singing and dancing (at least in my version) and everyone is happy and life is easy. If you really want to achieve ‘The American Dream’ , then you get married AND buy a house! To add a completely blissful cherry on top, have children. Then your life is truly complete. And apparently there are no more goals to reach until you die.

That was how the version in my head went. I’m not sure exactly where I came to have those exact standards or ideals, but it turned out it was all kinda bullshit. I lived my life in sort of earnest, trying to become something. Someone important. Once I made it to California, I would be an actress. Once I had my invitation business, I gave myself 5 years, then I was going to be featured on Oprah. I wanted public acknowledgement that I was good at what I did. If only I had more money for advertising. If only I could get more exposure. If I just had unlimited resources and time…


I’ll say one thing for getting older, it’s like a fantastical discovery. There are no set rules, there is no “I’ve been through so much crap that I should be good and have it easy for the rest of my life’. Believe me, I wish that were true. If you are one of the few whose life has gone exactly according to plan, then kudos to you! For the rest of us, it’s about learning. Joel and I were just half-joking the other day, about how we felt like we were all filled up on Life’s massive learning experiences for awhile. Because you know, they are rather all-consuming and overall just plain exhausting.

For now though, success to me equals getting Arden to school on time, fed breakfast. Her lunch and backpack in hand along with finished homework. It’s helping her navigate all the drama of getting along and interacting with other kids. It’s getting Cam fed solids as he flops around in his Bumbo seat, then to sleep when he’s extremely irritable. It’s working on the orders I do have, while dreaming up new ideas. It’s getting the insurance to finally pay the claim that collectors have been calling on for almost a year. It’s jumping through all the hoops to file with the City for our flooded duplex. It’s getting another room in the new house repaired/organized/painted/cleaned/livable.

The secret of my success is never giving up. Forever and always, persistent, stubborn and determined. It’s appreciating what I do have and respecting how far I’ve come. It’s knowing that I’ll accomplish so much more, as long as I keep trying. It’s being thankful for the support I have from Joel, who’s always amazing. (and that there IS the singing and dancing that I’d always hoped for!) It’s excepting that while my life isn’t a made-up ideal, it is one heck of an adventure that I’m fortunate to be a part of.

November 6, 2013

The wheels are turning.

erin nametag

Yesterday was election day and I worked the polls. My elite title is ‘Roster Judge’. In simple terms it means I sit at a table with 2 other people looking friendly, yet official. In front of me is a sign ‘A-G’. If your last name falls under those letters then you have come to the right place. Otherwise, step on down. I hold the key to many secrets. Actually, it’s a spiral bound book that has all the registered voter’s names and addresses, their precinct number and a box to sign in that better match the picture of their already-scanned signature. It’s my job to check identities, to ensure people are who they say they are and also to prevent them from voting twice. I possess a wealth of knowledge, culled from extensive training. In a world of uncertainty and constant change, it’s strangely comforting knowing that whatever goes wrong, there is a way to solve it and it’s all detailed in our manuals. The first time I manned this post was last year’s presidential election. Thankfully this time I just had to take a refresher course and be on my way.

We are required to gather at our assigned polling location at 5:30 a.m. I don’t usually even entertain the thought of getting up that early ever and it’s slightly unpleasant. There is always a bake sale selling stale doughnuts and store-bought baked goods to lure in profits for the school. One of my fellow co-workers was kind and bought enough semi-tempting treats for everyone in our group and at 8:30 once the sugar hit my system I suddenly felt alive.

Once inside our super secret lair, also known as the school gymnasium, it’s a mad dash to get ready for voters. Carts are dropped off the day before from the Board of Elections, which includes all our voting machines, work booklets and various other supplies. This rag-tag bunch then sets out on their assigned tasks to start the day. Because of course, there is always some joker there at 6:00 a.m. even though our location doesn’t officially open until 6:30.

Everything comes to us completely locked and sealed and then a magic spell is cast on it for good measure. Seriously though, they take really immense measures to ensure everything is on the up and up for each election. There are seals to be taken off of each lock on the cart, on each machine, on each box of supplies. Each must be recorded. Then when it’s all done, everything gets new seals (which are also recorded) ensuring quality and freshness or at the very least you can certainly tell if anything was tampered with.

Working with this group is very much like seeing extended family at the holidays. It starts off a little awkward. Then you hang out, have discussions, disagreements, snack and listen to middle school kids make lots of bad choices on their instruments. Add in some old-fashioned, good-natured ribbing and by the time it’s all over at 8:30 p.m., you are hugging and saying goodbyes with promises to see them all next year (or rather election.) It’s an experience. One that’s interesting and for one day a year, I like being a part of.

I love voting sticker

October 15, 2013

The Importance of Friends

Making friends as a child is fairly simple. The kids I went to school with were practically always the same year after year. It was easy to have things in common, we all went to school, lived in the same town, liked recess and our parents just didn’t understand. We ruled our own little world and that world was pretty limited.

The older a person gets, the harder it becomes. Sure, you can meet a potential friend at work or the gym or some other activity that you both engage in. Now though, the initial interview becomes more complex. You can’t just play on the swings then invite someone over for a sleepover. It’s not as easy as saying ‘You wanna be my friend?’ There is LIFE and it complicates things. As an adult, I’ve become much more selective. I don’t want to hang out with people just to be around someone. I don’t want to sit across them wishing I could run.

I need to have a connection, a common thread. I was just saying to Joel last night how interesting it is with my bookclub, for example. What started out as a large group quickly dwindled by the next couple meetings. By the 6th month in, it was just the 6 of us. Despite the fact we (mostly me) don’t make a very huge effort to read the book, we still get together every month. To talk, to eat, to laugh. We are all vastly different. Different jobs, economic backgrounds, interests, families. What we do share is a dry, witty sense of humor. We can speak our mind and say completely inappropriate things. We call each other out and hold each other accountable for our shortcomings. It’s awesome.

They, along with my other friends have been with me through thick and thin and for that I am thankful. A friendship takes effort. It takes a willingness to give, understanding, support and not always getting to be right. It takes accepting someone flaws and quirks because you, yourself are not perfect. And while you may not always agree with what a person does or the choices they make, I have learned, that true friends stick by each other no matter what.

All photos taken by Lisa Penzone of Pellegrini Penzone Photography.

My best friend Amy

Wedding group phot with Julie & Laura and their families

The Bookclub Girls

Wedding group photo with Beth and Harry copy

Wedding photo Michelle and Bryant

January 25, 2011

Oh thank you for letting the holidays be over!

I do not like Christmas. It does not mean a joyous good time. It means let’s-see-how-much-crap-we-can-cram-in, in additional to our ordinary lives. There is present buying, with money you don’t have. Trips all over to visit family and far-off friends and in my case, taking on a million projects and then stressing to finish them all. These activities are supposed to bring happiness, but all I know is that I feel dread as they approach.
Somehow, I manage to pull it all together. Or at least have allowed myself some lee-way. Gifts are no long wrapped perfectly with hand-crafted tags; the house is not perfectly clean. We went out for wings for Christmas dinner and it was glorious. As a matter of fact, the actual Christmas day was perfect. I love when there are barely any cars on the road and the world seems like it is just ours. It was relaxing. Oh, how that doesn’t come frequently enough!

It is already the end of January. 2011 is in full swing. I’ve resolved to prioritize, do things smarter. I’ve begun looking at things in a different way and breaking them down to reasonable tasks instead of one more deadline looming over my head. Instead of thinking: I have X, Y and Z to do, I have just been working on them bit by bit. I am surprisingly getting more done. I guess my actual resolution is to find more of that peace and relaxation that has eluded me for so long.