Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Motivation

Hey, a guy's gotta have some motivation to finish the dissertation. This may be it. Waaaaay cool. Fuel efficient too. I'll need a new car here pretty soon. Hmmmm.....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Packing Day 1

I finish up my current job in about three weeks, which means that our move to Large State Capital (LSC), is happening in about a month. I officially started the packing process today, which for me involves cleaning of...yes, you got it: the office/prison. It needs another round of de-cluttering, AGAIN. Makes sense, I suppose. I've done A LOT on my dissertation since the last major purge, and the other stuff, like the paperwork from bills I've paid, are in neat, organized, squared-off piles on the floor. Well, they WERE. I have done a good job of cleaning those much of this afternoon. And frankly, I threw out a good amount of paperwork I thought I'd need, but I really don't.

Question for anyone out there who feels like responding: should I throw away my master's degree? I finished it in 1996. It's in the same field as my Ph.D., so I've been hanging onto it. However, here I am finished with coursework, halfway done with the dissertation itself, and I've probably used just a few files from the two file boxes that I've moved three times. I think I'm gonna just chuck most of it, but if anyone else has any ideas on how long to keep this stuff, please feel free to leave a comment here.

It's dinner out, and a friend's coming over. Bye.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lots on the mind

Lots on the mind these days.

First, we had a great vacation to Undisclosed Location. It’s pretty nice there this time of year, though rather warm. Was a really nice way to celebrate our tenth anniversary. TENTH? How’d a decade go by so fast?? In some ways, though, it seems like a long while ago.

Next, the house. Oy, the house. It’s all going OK. I’m still confused about how the closing of our present place is going to go, but hopefully Realtor Woman 1 will work that out for us. We inspected the new place, and Realtor Woman 2 helped us negotiate our way through that. We’re gathering some more information to respond by early next week. Hopefully both transactions will be finalized after this long holiday weekend. I am getting sick of having various provisions up in the air.

Oh yeah: while there were no deal breakers on the inspection, there was a funny thing that happened. First, keep in mind we’re about to buy a fairly substantial 1965 two-story + basement house from the original owner in her 80s. The place has been vacant since the wintertime. Low and behold, Inspector Man and I were crawling in and out of the attic, the crawlspace, the darkest corners of the place. Then we checked out the fireplace in the basement rec room area to find a LIVE RACCOON or ‘POSSUM or something in there! I ran halfway out of the room, and so did Inspector Man. It was still alive. The flue was part-way open. Sort of a comedy going on with the two of us saying, “Holy SHIT there’s something in there, it’s furry, and it’s MOVING!” We were laughing. The fireplace upstairs had a dead bird in it. Nice. Yeah, we need some chimney caps pretty darn quick! Ah, spring in the Midwest.

New subject. Yesterday, Wife and I attended the funeral of an eighteen-year-old young man we never met. We know his mother pretty well, as she works with the local schools as the preschool coordinator. Her son died in an auto accident last weekend. I’ve never been to a funeral of a young person before. The hardest thing to watch was the number of other young people there who had to learn about death way too soon. Another tough part was hearing about the potential this young man had: someone who wasn’t afraid to argue, had good sense of humor, worked with disabled children, and cared about issues of human rights and equality. He was supposed to be off to college to study political science in the fall. We need more intelligent people who give a shit about these good issues working amongst people in the real world, and unfortunately this guy will never get that chance. Sad stuff. The experience really sucked, and I don’t envy the mourning and recovery process that our friend has ahead of her.

Before I forget, on the dissertation data-collection front (oh yeah, this is a blog about my doctoral program, right?), I’ve been blown off twice this week, but fortunately they rescheduled for next week. So, if all interviews come through, then by this time next week I will have completed eight of the ten or so interviews I need to do. Yahoo! As long as I can get a few more done prior to June 15, I should be good to go for analyzing the data late summer/early fall and then writing up the results before or around Thanksgiving.

OK, it’s getting weekend out. Gotta go.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Interviews

During all the haze with our house-selling and searching processes, I have been conducting interviews for my dissertation. I have been looking forward to this time for about two years now, so it feels good to be on a hiatus from writing and now actually conducting interviews. Feels good to be doing something more tangible for a change.

The interviews have gone well so far, with the exception of a broken tape cassette here. Please don't tell me to use a digital recorder instead, as those are worthless to me for doing my own transcriptions (I have an aged transcription machine, foot pedals and all).

I've conducted five interviews, and I think I have a sixth scheduled for after Wife and I return from Undisclosed Location. Only about four or five more, and I should be good to go. Ten or eleven hours of interview data is plenty for this study, thankyouverymuch.

I just wanted a little reminder to myself in the blog about this process, so this post is short. K, bye.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Into Place, Things Are Falling

Like Yoda in this post's title, I spoke. Probably because philosophical and reflective, I am feeling. A good thing, this is.

Today (or what's left of it) is our tenth wedding anniversary. Wife's parents are here to be with Moose while Wife and I go away to an undisclosed location for a week to celebrate. We've been planning this trip for months, and we're very fortunate to have parents that will come in and help out with Moose when needed (I'm including you on this sentiment as well, Mom). TEN years since the wedding day?? I mean, I guess I can believe that. So much has happened since then, and it does feel like it was a while back. But then we start discussing that it's been "a decade," and then one thinks about the swift passage of time. And philosophical, one gets.

The last day of the first decade of our marriage (e.g. yesterday) was a banner day in the house of Chesterley. We bought and sold a house on the same day! Monday we placed an offer on a house we adore in our new city. The owner countered and actually came down quite a bit further than we expected. Tuesday night after a great deal of discussion, roller-coaster emotions ("can we really afford this?"), wailing and gnashing of teeth, we signed on the dotted line and sent in the paperwork yesterday morning. Then, yesterday evening we learned that the response we wrote to the buyers of our current home regarding a few points on the inspection report were accepted, meaning our house sale was a done deal last night. Needless to say we each had a stiff drink and danced around the house like happy people.

And then we slept well for the first time since the beginning of April. We are very thankful that the house stuff, in particular the sale of this place, went so quickly and relatively smoothly. I know of a few others who have struggled with selling a house, and I can only imagine what a long process would do your stress levels. I don't know when before I've been this stressed out continuously for several days in a row. Not a healthy way to be.

We'll get an inspection done on the new house after we return from our vacation. We do adore this house, though I'm determined to not call it "our house" till after the inspection is complete. Still, it's hard not to be placing furniture mentally or planning improvement projects already. Must stop! OK I won't, but I sorta feel like I should say that here. :-)

So Decade 1 ended on a high note for this family, and may all the remaining ones end equally as high. It's amazing how the various aspects of life can fall into place sometimes. And experiencing all of these changes with the same person right by my side over time is simply priceless. I am one lucky man.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Houses and Stuff

I thought our house-purchasing process when acquiring the residence presently known as Chesterley was rather stressful. We came into town for three days, and thankfully we had a realtor who spent the majority of her time with us. Moose was just under 10 months old, so of course he needed 'round-the-clock care, feedings, etc. We put an offer on one place, and of course we were worried it was going to stretch our budget. We low-balled the offer and hoped they'd take it. And then we LEFT TOWN with nothing definite on where we would live, and no plans to return to this town before actually moving here. Stressful! Fortunately it all worked out, they took our low offer, and Chesterley has been a wonderful place to live.

However, selling this house is also pretty stressful in itself. I think we're finding the prospect of leaving this place more difficult as the weeks go by. During the time we've lived here, our family has been through a lot. Between me and wife we've lost two grandparents and a parent, Moose was diagnosed with autism disorder, and we had the typical growing pains of a growing family, money concerns, low academic and career self-esteem, and other difficulties. We've had some high points as well: good progress through a Ph.D. for me, progress through speech and physical difficulties for Moose, increase in the diversity of types of voices taught to sing by Wife, numerous fun parties and other gatherings, great discussions with a gaggle of good friends, and now landing this job and preparing to move on is indeed another high point that we've experienced while living here. It's hard to leave a place where you've grown so much personally and watched your child transform from "plasma" into a real, live, very active, boy.

The house itself has changed quite a bit these last five years, and the changes are all part of the mark we're leaving on this place. New roof, great gardens (thanks to us, I must say!), new interior and exterior paint jobs, some new kitchen cabinets and such, new dishwasher, different curtains, etc. Wife and I enjoy 'keeping house' together, and I think we've come to be pretty good at it. And we always make sure we can afford it first, which is key. Being house-poor is useless. Big tax refunds are awfully helpful.

When we moved here, we didn't think we'd stay here forever. We figured we'd be here four years, and now we've been here five. There are things we've put up with here that we're hoping to not have to deal with in our new place. We have no separate dining room, and yet we enjoy having friends and family over for sit-down dinners. There are a couple of "warts" in the yard in the way it slopes toward in the house in back. Some other choices in the construction materials (cheap-ass vinyl siding, for example) would not have been our choice were we to actually build a house.

Our new location is a much larger city, and fortunately it's not very far from SCT so we've visited the past several weekends to go house hunting. Lots of options up there. Lots of crap, too. Some expensive, and some not-so. Every time we come home to SCT, it hits us both how much we love this house. It's "home." This is the longest we've ever lived in one place together...heck, it's the longest either of us have ever lived anywhere except for the places we grew up. The thought of moving and starting over with our gardens, painting, etc. gets rather exhausting. And then the emotional side kicks in for me. Will the new owners of this place continue to take care of the yard, or will it all weed over? Will they repaint the "roasted red pepper" accent wall I painted in the kitchen as a surprise for Wife? Do they realize that the best son in the entire world learned how to walk, talk, eat and do most things he knows how to do under this roof? I need to get over these emotions toward this building, I realize. And I will. After all, the "home" is just going to move to a different house. Home is in the people, not the walls.

Tomorrow (OK, technically later today) is hopefully our last day for house-hunting, as our time is getting more limited. The hunting process is getting tiresome now...nothing seems to compare to our current house just yet. A couple of great places have had major, unchangeable things that will not work, like it's in the wrong school district or located on a busy road. The scary thing is, we're supposed to be out of our current house on June 26...ACK! Really hope the hunt goes well tomorrow.

It's tough to leave a place where you've done a lot of living...good and bad times mixed together. At least the family itself will stay together, and together we'll find a new container in which to house Chesterley. It's just sort of scary that in a very short time, life is going to change so much. No complaints though...just a little healthy fear here & there.