Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Outline Form

Hey, it's been ten days since I last wrote here. This is due to a combination of
-schoolwork (which isn't currently any more of an insane amount of work than it usually is, it's just that, well, it's still the insane amount of work it usually is)
-my grandparents coming to visit and needing to be entertained for two days
-the fact that I have to go to two conferences in the next three weeks and I am currently trying to polish both papers I'm presenting (and "polish" in one case actually means "write the entire thing")
-the stupid stupid cold I've had for over a week now, and
-Penn's move over the weekend (the majority of which took place in nonstop pouring rain on the same weekend that some sort of bank robbery/shooting fiasco closed down every major highway into his hometown, leading to a really fun back country road adventure for me and apparently 10,000 other drivers.)

The good news is
-I had fun with my grandparents (when I wasn't being lectured about Barack Obama's evil socialist plans and the utter correctness of Fox News)
-My cold is slowly but surely going away
-The discussion group for one of the conferences has given me positive feedback on my paper so far, thank god, and
-My boyfriend actually lives in the same city that I do! I can get out of class and go to our apartment! We can see each other every day now! I've spent two nights in the condo and so far it's proving to be as nice as I hoped it would be (the kitchen storage space, oh my god, unbelievable), and it's going to be even nicer when there is internet there and an actual bed because we haven't moved any of my furniture over there yet and Penn's mattress was a casualty of the move so we're sleeping in a nest of pillow and blankets on the floor. What, you think I'd actually sleep at my own furnished apartment? No. Beds and couches are for sissies.

I'll try to post more regularly sometime in the future, but it definitely won't be happening until after the weekend because I have my (early) birthday/Halloween party on Thursday night and then I'm going to "Punkin Chunkin" and watching a bunch of redneck guys slingshot pumpkins around all weekend, so in other words, I'm busy. With important stuff.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rules for Cohabitation

Good news! Penn and I got approved for the condo! We sign the lease as soon as it is e-mailed to us and Penn moves in on Saturday. I can't wait to start moving our stuff in and decorating and getting settled (well, I'll be decorating; I'm pretty sure Penn couldn't possibly care less about what anything in our apartment looks like as long as it's functional). I'm not so much looking forward to the transition of the next couple of months. I have a feeling that until I get fully settled into the new place it's going to feel like I'm living in two places at once, and that's going to be hard for me because you know how I like routine and knowing where everything is. The fact that something I need could potentially be not just in the wrong room but in the wrong apartment half an hour away is, um, stressful. To be honest, that's partially why even with my crazy school and travel schedule during the month of November I'm still gunning to be out of my current apartment before I go to Hometown at Christmas break and preferably by the end of Thanksgiving weekend: I'm just really eager to have everything organized in one place. Plus you know how I am. Once I make a decision to do something, I want to plan it and then do it immediately.

Penn and I had a lot of funny conversations this weekend about how we're going to manage our life habits to coexist in the same place non-stop. He had me dying laughing when he told me that by living with me he will now have a major increase in the amount of rules in his life. He was like, "Right now I live by one rule, just one: no other women. That's fine. I'm great with that rule. But now I have all of these NEW RULES to follow!" He keeps joking that I'm going to have to make him a scroll of rules he's going to have to follow to live with me. So, for the record, here are the so-called "rules" that I am going to impose:

1) Put clean clothes on hangers and in drawers. (It is important to note that I didn't say, "Do laundry," or "Fold your own clothes" because I'm planning to do those things myself! I do my own laundry once a week anyway so I don't care about adding his laundry to mine. It's not like adding one other person's clothes makes the job that much bigger. The only rule is that he has to actually use the closet and the dresser to store the things I wash.)
2) Put dishes in the dishwasher as opposed to leaving them in the sink.
3) Don't leave piles of random papers on all the flat surfaces in the house. Stick them in the desk drawer where I don't have to look at them (Note here that I didn't say "Organize your scraps of paper," because I honestly don't care if he wants to stuff a desk full of receipts and Christmas cards from 2006 as long as I don't have to see it when I look around the room.)

See?! Easiest rules EVER! But he thinks we need to compromise. In exchange for me forcing him to use hangers for the rest of his natural life (that's the actual phrase he used, "the rest of my natural life," and then I think he groaned and said, "Fifty years!"), he wants me to try out his method for a month. Which sounds fine, in theory, except would you like to know what his method is? His method is you wash the clothes, bring them upstairs in the laundry basket, and drop them on the bedroom floor. In a pile. A gigantic Clothes Mountain. Maybe if you are really feeling ambitious you pick out the pairs of socks and ball them up so that you don't have to dig through the pile to find matching socks in the morning, but that's assuming you care about having matching socks. Oh, and your nice clothes that can't be too wrinkly for work get thrown on the clothes rack in the corner.
Just so you know, I consider it a major accomplishment that I have already been coexisting with the Clothes Mountain at his apartment for seven months. And I realize that healthy relationships are all about minor compromise but there is no way I could ever live with my own personal Clothes Mountain for even a week without going insane. I have proven that I can live with his clothes in a big pile on the floor without getting too twitchy, but the idea of my clothes in a giant pile is just...no. Luckily, everyone he has polled so far--his friends, mind you--agree that in general life should move towards and not away from civilization. Plus we realized that Penn actually has made a few rules for me to follow*, too, so I think I have now managed to get out of the Clothes Mountain experiment. One of Penn's friends pointed out that while I am correct in thinking that I shouldn't have to try out the Clothes Mountain "method", this means that I will never experience the joy of grabbing the nearest clean shirt off the floor and putting it on. But you know what? I am pretty sure that is an experience I can live without. Because I have been alive for almost 26 years and do you know how many times I have gotten up in the morning and grabbed an outfit off the bedroom floor? Exactly zero.

*Rules Penn has imposed:
1) No pets in the bed when we're both in it (I can cuddle with them when I'm in bed by myself, but he's such a light sleeper he can't handle them in bed shifting around at night. Plus even I have to admit nothing kills a sexy moment like the cat leaping up onto the bed and shoving himself in between you like, "Hey guys! Oh, it kind of looks like you're licking each other! I'm great at this game, I have a sandpaper tongue! Check it out!")
2) I let him have the TV remote pretty much all the time, especially on Football Sundays. (This is because 99% of the time I really don't care what is on the TV because I'm too busy reading, but I think if I can pass off, "You are in charge of the TV" as one of his rules for me then that aids my whole, "Look, we're both making compromises, I don't have to try the Clothes Mountain!" argument. Ha.)

Monday, October 13, 2008


-Kiki took the quiz I blogged about yesterday, and her results were extremely accurate, too! She posted her results in my comments section and I read through them just now and was like, "Yes, yes, yes, mostly yes, DEFINITELY yes..." It's kind of freaky! Now I want everyone to take this quiz so I can see if it is accurate for everyone or just for us. Think it would work for guys? I know the icons are women, but gender doesn't really seem to play into the descriptions...

-Place where I have no interest in ever going? Branson, Missouri. It's one of those things that I feel is pretty much the antithesis of my personality.

-Also the antithesis of my personality? That horrible ad for the National Guard that they sometimes play before movies in the theaters these days. Have you seen it? It combines army brainwashing with Kid Rock and NASCAR. My personal version of hell would be watching that video over and over and over again. I'd try to find it on YouTube, but I don't think you should have to sit through it, either.

-Remember when I was babbling on and on about how good sparkpeople.com is? Well, I still use it regularly (although not quite as much as I was at first; I find that I don't need to track quite as carefully now that I have a better sense of what constitutes a normal portion size). And now I've found another free website where you can enter your bank account information (minus secure info) and make a budget! It's great, it shows you where all of your money is going without you having to take the time to enter anything. I just made a budget that I can start using once I move in with Penn. Because I need a budget. I'm about two months away from finally running out of the money I saved up from bartending/living at home in summer of 2007, so if I'm going to have to start living paycheck-to-paycheck I need to budget much more carefully. I'm still trying to avoid taking out student loans for as long as possible, and I'm going to be forced to take out loans if I can't stay within my budget. I think I can handle the budget I made for myself, though. It has a lot of "fun money" and a lot of wiggle room. Now I'm just ready to get out of my money-sucking apartment (it has been a money-sucking apartment all along, but it didn't bother me as much when a cheaper option wasn't just within my grasp). Anyway, I just started on this new website today so I want to make sure it's safe and nobody is taking money out of my accounts before I recommend it without qualification, but so far so good!

-Penn would say that the above sentence is yet more proof of my organizational "sickness", and he's probably right. But I ask you, who DOESN'T want a balanced budget and a clean house? I'm like a very useful robot! A very useful robot who can love you!

-I taught my dog to ring a bell hanging from the door whenever he wants to go outside. I'm very proud that he learned how to do this. Except that now he thinks he can ring the bell whenever he needs to pee...or check out a cat, or a squirrel, or the UPS truck, or that Wendy's wrapper someone just dropped in the parking lot...


It has been a long time since I did an online personality quiz, but I came across this one during my nightly online procrastination session(s) and I had to post my result here because it's dead accurate. Which is a little scary, considering the "female icon" I supposedly am...
The "How to Get Along With Me" is exactly true. I kind of wish the, "Don't burden me with negative emotions" thing wasn't true, but I have to admit that it is. I don't mind dealing with people that are upset when they are people that I'm close to. I'm always willing to listen to venting from people that are close to me, and I will always take care of a friend who is sad. I will always try to be supportive when a good friend is down. But even then I've never managed to be as empathetic as I would like to be. And while I don't mind dealing with sadness at all, I have absolutely zero patience for negativity and whiny attitudes. I can't stand people who never even try to look on the bright side. (Note: I'm aware that clinical depression exists, and I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the people who choose to focus on the negative in life when they're just as capable of focusing on the positive. I don't get those people and don't like dealing with them).
The "What I Like About Being a Joan" is also completely true. The "What's Hard About Being a Joan" is mostly true, too, although I don't think I put on facades as a general rule. I like to present my best self in public, particularly when I'm making a first impression, but I don't see that as putting on a facade. I see it as playing up my best features (both personality-wise and physical) and trying to play down my flaws. But doesn't everyone do this? Or am I actually putting up a facade and just trying to rationalize it? Basically, what I'm saying is I never feel like I'm not being myself.
The final two family-related sections are freakishly accurate, too. I was constantly the responsible kid, especially in early childhood. And while I'm not a parent yet, I'm already starting to think about how I'll potentially be able to balance early motherhood with keeping at least one foot in my career. I had a stay-at-home mom for the first twelve years of my life, and I think that was good for my childhood. But while I hope that things work out well financially so that I'm able to spend most of my time at home with my babies when they're tiny, I have to admit that I have a hard time envisioning myself as a full time stay-at-home mother. I think I'm one of those women that will be a better mother for being able to get out of the house once in a while and interact with adults in a business setting. I'll appreciate my kids much more, I'll have a lot more patience, etc. I may change my mind once I'm actually a mother, I know lots of women do. But right now I can't imagine not wanting to continue working at least a little bit once I have kids. I'll go completely stir-crazy if I don't. Seriously. Oh, and my children will be organized if it kills me. Or they'll at least learn to keep their messes out of my sight! Haha.

Anyway, try the quiz. I'm curious to see if it's this accurate for everyone.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Joan!


You are a Joan -- "I need to succeed"

Joans are energetic, optimistic, self-assured, and goal oriented.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Leave me alone when I am doing my work.

  • * Give me honest, but not unduly critical or judgmental, feedback.

  • * Help me keep my environment harmonious and peaceful.

  • * Don't burden me with negative emotions.

  • * Tell me you like being around me.

  • * Tell me when you're proud of me or my accomplishments.

What I Like About Being a Joan

  • * being optimistic, friendly, and upbeat

  • * providing well for my family

  • * being able to recover quickly from setbacks and to charge ahead to the next challenge

  • * staying informed, knowing what's going on

  • * being competent and able to get things to work efficiently

  • * being able to motivate people

What's Hard About Being a Joan

  • * having to put up with inefficiency and incompetence

  • * the fear on not being -- or of not being seen as -- successful

  • * comparing myself to people who do things better

  • * struggling to hang on to my success

  • * putting on facades in order to impress people

  • * always being "on." It's exhausting.

Joans as Children Often

  • * work hard to receive appreciation for their accomplishments

  • * are well liked by other children and by adults

  • * are among the most capable and responsible children in their class or school

  • * are active in school government and clubs or are quietly busy working on their own projects

Joans as Parents

  • * are consistent, dependable, and loyal

  • * struggle between wanting to spend time with their children and wanting to get more work done

  • * expect their children to be responsible and organized

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I just finished saying goodnight to Penn. He was here with me on Thursday and Friday night, but now he's on his way back to his hometown for the rest of the weekend to hang out with the guys again. Which I totally approve of, by the way. His friends aren't very likely to make the drive here too often once he moves, so I think he should be hanging out with them as much as possible right now. But I was watching him walk across the parking lot right now as he was leaving and all I could think was how I can't wait until that never has to happen anymore. As far as long distance relationships go, this one has been easy. For one thing, while visiting him requires a suitcase and a hundred mile drive, I have never really considered it much of a long distance relationship. I can see him every 4-7 days and don't have to purchase a plane ticket to do so. That's not exactly a long distance relationship in my book. For another thing, we knew from a few months into this that we wanted to be in the same place as soon as possible and we started talking about plans to make that happen. There wasn't that horrible, "When is this situation ever going to end?" feeling that plagued my first long distance relationship. And since every time we get together we end up staying together for at least 2-3 days straight, I think in the grand scheme of things we probably get to spend more time together each week than most couples in more traditional dating scenarios. Still, I'm going to be really happy when he's with me every night (until we reach the phase where we've been together so long that it's a little exciting to have a night alone, but I think that's quite a way in the future).

Luckily, everything went forward as planned with the new job and Penn finally signed the contract a few days ago and starts two weeks from Monday. I'm so excited for him, and a little bit nervous. I really want this job to go well for him, it's such a good opportunity. b,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, m
[That's from the hound dog, he just climbed onto my lap and slammed his chin onto the laptop]
We also found an apartment that I think (I hope) is going to work out really well for us. We do have a second option already secured as well if our first choice doesn't work out, but this first-choice place has so much going for it that I really, really hope we get approved. First of all, it's insanely affordable for this area of the country. Basically, this place is only about $100 a month more than what I'm paying on my own right now, and so with Penn and I splitting the cost it's going to save me money (and save us a lot of money as a couple). And the place is really nice, too. We got lucky. It's actually a condo belonging to a couple that is on assignment in Japan for the next two years. It was originally renting for a price outside of our price range, but the realtor we went out with last week must have liked us because she convinced the couple to rent the place to us for $300 less than the original asking price AND to include all utilities except cable. The downside to the condo is that I'll be losing access to my little lake, and the new neighborhood is closer to the center of the city so it's a little bit louder. But I'm hoping those will be the only downsides. Everything else seems nicer. The condo itself is really nice. It's on the third floor with a big balcony, it has two bedrooms so we can use one as an office, it has a living room and a separate dining area so I can finally live in an apartment with space for a dining table (I haven't had one for three years now!), and it has such a nice kitchen: granite countertops, a breakfast bar that opens onto the living and dining rooms, slate flooring, stainless steel appliances, tons and tons of storage space. I opened what I thought was the pantry and it's actually a big wine refrigerator! (Which Penn will probably insist on using for fancy beer...and there is an actual pantry, too) When I was showing Penn the place on Friday I told him that the kitchen is my favorite part because it feels so grown-up. I don't know why at almost 26 years old I still think of things as too "adult" for me, but this kitchen is definitely one of those things. I love it, though, I can definitely see myself using it. I'll have counter space again! The other nice thing about the apartment is that the couple that owns it painted all of the rooms. It's going to be really nice to live somewhere without sterile white apartment walls. And luckily enough the paint colors match my own preferences: light browns in the main living areas with navy blue accent walls in the bedrooms and burgundy accent walls in the living and dining room, a chocolate brown kitchen and a sea green bathroom. Being on the third floor should also be relatively quiet since we'll have no upstairs neighbors, and the mailroom and laundry room are all enclosed in the building, which is awesome. No more trekking across the apartment complex in the snow or rain to do laundry!
So the condo itself seems nice. At least it will be visually nice, if nothing else! And locationwise it's great as well. It's on the street that runs behind Penn's big office building, so it will take him fifteen minutes to walk to and from work. And since the subway station is right on the other side of his office building, it will take me only twenty minutes to walk to the metro. I could consider the 40 minute roundtrip walk my exercise everyday. I'll have a pretty long commute to school, but at least I'll be able to read on the subway so I don't think I'll mind too much, especially since I generally only go to campus 3 times a week. And if I feel like driving I should be able to get to campus in about 30 minutes if traffic cooperates, which is only ten minutes longer than it takes me now. I like the idea of being able to take the train, though. The amount of money I would normally spend on a yearly campus parking sticker should be almost enough to get me through a year of commuting on the subway (seriously, isn't that ridiculous?), and it will be nice to at least have the option of not continuing to rack up the miles on my old car. The other nice thing about this condo is that a shopping center with a grocery store and a drug store is right behind the complex, so in theory we won't even have to use our cars to run errands very often. We can almost be car-free now! I've wanted that to be the case ever since I moved up here and it was never actually feasible before, but it will be now. Oh, and do you want to know Penn's favorite part of the new apartment? Right next to the grocery store there is a place called "Buffalo Wings and Beer." It pretty much seems like paradise, in other words.

Obviously, the apartment hunting has gotten me very excited about the idea of moving in with Penn. I mean, I was excited about it anyway, but actually looking at places and envisioning myself living there has made me even more eager than I already was. I almost don't want to post this blog tonight because I feel like I'll be jinxing our chances on the condo, but I'd be happy with our second-choice place as well (which is really big, quiet, still fairly close to the metro, and has the benefit of being right next to a huge park). Anyway, in the past two weeks the plan has changed a lot. The original plan was for Penn to move into the new apartment at the end of this month but for me to continue to stay in my current place until my lease is up in summer. But then the more we thought about it and the more we talked about it, the more that started to seem like a dumb idea. I admitted to myself that even with my own apartment it's very unlikely that Penn and I will willingly spend many nights apart. He'll be here or I'll be there, but either way we'll be throwing tons of money away on an apartment that will be empty at least half the time. When we started talking about how much money we can save in the next year if I move into his place sooner rather than later, it began eating at the frugal side of me to think about all the money we'll waste waiting until my lease is up. And then when I found out that I can break my lease without consequence if I pay a month and a half's worth of rent and give thirty day's notice, we did the math on that and realized that if I move out before the end of the year we'll recoup the lease-breaking fine within a few months and still have almost six months worth of savings. And THEN one of my friends mentioned that she might be willing to take over my lease, in which case we'd be able to save even more money because then I could get out of my lease without losing any money at all.
So basically, we've decided that we'll be shacking up by January. If I have to break my lease to make that happen I'll be moving out of here over Thanksgiving break. If my friend is taking over, I'll be moving to the new apartment over Christmas break. And as much as I try to be logical about this and make attempts to talk myself out of it, I just can't stop feeling anything but excitement.
The reasonable side of me recognizes the fact that many perfectly sane people would find it a little crazy to start cohabitating after only being together for 8 or 9 months. I've always had fairly firm ideas about timelines for things like this, and I guess I never thought I'd be living with a boyfriend after less than a year of dating. But in my Personal Guide to Acceptable Timetables, I always thought I'd be willing to move in with the right guy after a year, so what difference does three months really make? Things just feel right with Penn. My other personal rule was that I was never going to move in with a guy just for financial convenience but only when I saw it as a relationship that was almost definitely moving towards marriage. And, okay, yes, a little bit of this is for financial convenience. But the difference is it's not for my financial convenience, it's for OURS. Ours as a couple. Penn and I have talked about the future enough that I feel confident that we're on the same page and he sees this as starting a home together, not just shacking up because we're sleeping together every night anyway.
I know things could still go very wrong. True, it has been awhile since I worried about this relationship potentially blowing up in my face. In fact, I've never felt this sort of confidence in a relationship before. But I realize that a person can feel completely confident and still have something go wrong. I realize that we're taking a risk by signing a lease together and assuming that the way we feel right now is going to last forever. But at some point you just have to take a deep breath and take the plunge. Otherwise noone would ever commit to anything.
The very worst thing that could possibly happen is that we live together for six months or a year and realize that this relationship isn't going to work after all, that everything we've been feeling since spring is just an illusion. And that would suck, of course. It would be miserable. But I'd move out and go back to my single life and I would survive. I've survived a bad breakup before, I could do it again.
But I'm not actually worried about that. I feel very good about this decision. I've been living completely alone for three years. I've learned a lot about myself in that time, and even though I wasn't always thrilled with being single, in retrospect I realize that I'm very grateful to have had those three years. Many people never live on their own at all, going straight from living with parents to living with roommates to living with a significant other. Well, I can tell you with certainty that those people miss out on a lot. They miss out on some frustration, that's true, but they also miss out on a great experience to have exactly what they want when they want with no regard for anyone else. There is no other time in your life when that can happen, and I feel a little sorry for people that never get to experience the joys I've experienced in living alone. There's a tiny part of me-a teeny, tiny part-that is a little sad to be giving up my independent living situation. But it's not because I'm worried or sad about the next step. No, not at all. It's akin to the feeling I had when I moved away from my hometown for the first time, or graduated from college. I'm excited as can be about the next step, eager to see where my life will go from here. But it's the end of an era, so it's hard not to feel a little nostalgic.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed that our application gets approved. Like I said, I'd be happy in apartment #2 as well, and if we don't get the condo I'm just going to have to assume it's the universe once again doing what's best for us. But I'm going to be really disappointed if I don't get to use that awesome kitchen!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Half Baked

The other day I temporarily forgot my rule about tackling my path to the PhD one step at a time. I started thinking about how this semester is already almost halfway over (seriously, how?!) and then I started thinking about how I only have one more semester of coursework, which means I'm only one semester away from comprehensive exams and having to nail down what I'm doing for my dissertation, and then writing the dissertation and then somewhere in there I have to pass a language exam and all of a sudden this whole earn-a-PhD thing began to seem like an insane unachievable goal, and that's not even beginning to think about trying to get a job someday in the future.
Sometimes when that happens the only way I can relax again is by reminding myself that if this doesn't work out I'll always be a damn fine waitress.
I talked myself down pretty quickly, though. Like within five minutes. But I was reminded that, when it comes to school stuff, there's a reason I really don't like to think further ahead than about three weeks from now. It still just seems like way too much otherwise.

This past weekend Penn was in his hometown celebrating Oktoberfest with his guy friends and I stayed at my place so that he could have some uninterrupted guy time. It was the first weekend in a very long time that we haven't hung out together, and it felt a little weird. I like my alone time and I always will, but weekends like this one just aren't my routine anymore. It was like a return to seven months ago. I took the dog on long walks, did some baking, ate salads for dinner AND lunch without teasing commentary from my boyfriend the meatatarian, watched all those shows on TLC about couples who have too many children...I didn't think my life was boring then, and I didn't think this weekend was boring. But I have to admit that Penn makes everything better. He definitely makes life more entertaining, and it's nice to have someone to blab all my, "Hey, know what I was thinking?!" thoughts to since the cat isn't exactly responsive. Plus he makes a really good pillow. I did decide that I definitely eat better and work out more when Penn is not around, though, so I think that's something we're going to have to work on once we're living together. I refuse to be one of those women that lets her health go down the drain just because she's comfortable in a relationship. It's just hard to convince myself to get off the couch and actually put pants on when he's over here. But I can try, I suppose.

I have more to say, but my computer is almost out of power and I have to get up early to work tomorrow and look at another apartment, so I'm off. Goodnight!