Sunday, February 24, 2013

House Hunting in Nashville- Let the Search Begin

I've never owned my own home. My husband I have been fortunate enough to live in a house for the past year and a half, thanks to the kindness of my in-laws. We've enjoyed low rent costs during our Dunailie days, which allowed us to stay in a spacious home that came equipped with a fenced-in backyard for our two crazy dogs. Finding a house in Nashville that is located in a safe neighborhood, has above average yard space, and low rent costs is next to impossible. However, this mission must be successfully completed during the next few months- A task that my husband perceives as a fun, exciting challenge- and one that I feel terrified about. Terrified is an exaggeration, perhaps, to describe my apprehensions surrounding our inevitable house hunting excursion. I'm just one of those obnoxious people who likes to plan everything and know exactly what's going to happen.

Predictability in life events, meticulous planning, and detailed investigations provide me with a sense of comfort and control, I suppose. I like to know what's going to happen next. I always have. Now, as we venture into this house hunt as first-time home buyers, I have no crutch of predictability or experience to comfort me. I have no idea what I'm doing.

I like to know what I'm doing.
Familiarity and routines are the substances of life that promote security for me. Boring as this may be, I just worry less when I know what's going to happen next.  I am ill-equipped to deal with real estate agents or to attend open house events and foreclosure auctions. Why? I haven't done it before. That's really it. House-hunting and home buying are two subjects about which I know pickles and cheese. Pickles and cheese replaces offensive or expletive words that offend my mother. Saying I know pickles and cheese about home buying makes her happier than saying I know jack shit. Using expletives to explain or define pickles and cheese terminology usage will also offend my mother, though it will be more easily excused. There have been several pickles and cheese words thrown around at our home recently- all of them have been the result of my realization that I must leave what I know behind. I must adapt to a new life circumstance that will make me uncomfortable. It will all work out. I do realize that. I know that, no matter where we move our little 2 person, 2 doggie family, we'll be just fine. The process it will take us to assume new residency, however, will be pickles and cheese. :)

I'm hoping that flipping through magazines and newspapers will enable me to share my husband's enthusiasm surrounding our pending home-buying venture. There are several things holding me back- All of them are really just me, being me-ish. Money, debt, and financial responsibilities are all subjects that I prefer not to discuss or think about. Buying a house means going into debt that will be thrown into the 'don't-think-about-that-right-now' section of my brain- where my husband's pharmacy student loans dwell, along with the monsters may really be under the bed facts, thoughts, and theories of my life.

Paying a mortgage to own our own home seems like a better monthly expense than paying a slightly lesser amount for rent. Making a down-payment will tremendously reduce money we've saved since we married. That part of home buying is the one I really hate, but it's inevitable. The thought of wiping out one's hard-earned cash makes everybody's stomach hurt. I keep telling myself that we'd be making an investment. I comfort my crazy self by saying, 'That's what savings are for'. Still, my tummy hurts.

Apart from the savings account wipe-out that's gotta happen, there's something about moving to a new home that makes me a little sad. It's the realization that, our time on Dunailie must end. We will leave our home and what we know, to take the next step of advancement into adulthood. We'll live in a house that is our own. We'll make new memories in whatever new shelter we'll soon occupy.

Now, we've just got to find it.

We will take the memories made on Dunailie Drive to some new little starter home, whose location is currently unknown.  There, we will make new memories that will last a lifetime. I feel better now about leaving our house behind. A house is just a house. Finding a new one will be fun- once I get over the initial scared-little-girl-ness I feel about it.

Our days at Dunailie are numbered. Let the house hunting begin!

 Over the years, at Dunalie Drive...

Monday, February 18, 2013

LifeLookLens: A Day Without Siri, My iPhoneless Discoveries of T...

LifeLookLens: A Day Without Siri, My iPhoneless Discoveries of T...: I realized recently that I am pathetically lost when I am without my iPhone. I always said I wouldn't be one of those people- The sort who...

A Day Without Siri, My iPhoneless Discoveries of Technological Dependency

I realized recently that I am pathetically lost when I am without my iPhone. I always said I wouldn't be one of those people- The sort who can't carry on a conversation without glancing at their phone to check for appointments, missed calls, and reminders...

That was before I got an iPhone. I am now one of those obnoxious techie device addicts, though I swore I wouldn't succumb to the tantalizing temptations of all things Mac-made.

I found that my new friend, Siri, could be quite helpful to me when I'm navigating my way through adulthood. What I didn't realize until this week is that I have become somewhat dependent on my clever little assistant. She calls me "my lover" and makes me feel special. Without her, I display behaviors of confusion, disorientation and childlike dependency. I wonder if Siri missed me when I ran out of the house and left her behind this week. I doubt she even noticed.

A state of panic resulted while I drove to work and involuntarily reached for my phone to check the time. No iPhone. No Siri. No big deal, I thought, as I tried to remain calm and recall my appointments that had been scheduled for that day. I debated on turning the car around to head back home and grab my forgotten friend, but I'd first need to know the time. I couldn't be late for work so maybe I could go back for Siri during my lunch break. Surely I could make it through the first half of the day without my phone. Surely...

My car's radio clock is never accurate. It would literally take two minutes for me to set it, but I hadn't done this. When time changes occur twice a year, I add or subtract an hour from whatever that car clock reads, accordingly. I like to think that I don't change the clock so I can stay sharp on mathematical capabilities of adding and subtracting, but my decision is more affected by laziness. I got mad at myself for my car-clock-changing boycott when I couldn't check the time on my iPhoneless morning drive to work. I had not needed to use my car clock in quite some time, or I would have noted that my add an hour, subtract an hour calculations were false equations that would not give me a true time answer. How and when my clock became so inaccurate is unknown, but I knew on that day that it could not be 1:00AM. Although Siri wasn't with me to confirm this, the sun's rising and morning traffic reflected that it must be around 7:30...I hoped.

Apart from my helplessness that became evident in absence of my phone, I noted another problem with technology. In a desperate attempt to confirm time of day, I turned on the radio. Certainly, an announcer on one of the stations would state the time of day. They do it all the time, right? Well, they used to. That's right- announcers used to repeat the time of day every 15 minutes or so...if my childhood memories serve me correctly.

I listened to more commercials than I'd intended, and more songs that were outside my musical preferences, before an announcer finally said what time of day it was. By then, I was pulling into the office parking lot. 8:00...just in time for work, no thanks to Siri or radio for providing time information before it was nearly too late to matter. I attest that time-announcing regulations should be implemented to require that radio announcers provide this critical information on a more regular basis. You won't notice this change of time announcing frequency until you rely solely on the communication of radio. I learned what the weather would be for the week, where to buy diamonds at bargain prices, what's happening in the world, current name it. Just not what time of day it was...that information is highly classified and rarely communicated to commuters.

I don't know if every morning is like the Siri-less one I experienced this week, but I don't plan to find out. On my iPhone-less day, I'd needed my phone more than ever. Questions of co-workers are answered by my organizational habits of recording deadlines, appointments, and crucial contact information that only Siri remembers- as it turns out. I could not survive that afternoon without her, or I would surely miss an appointment or would provide false information based on my scatterbrained recollections of work-related information.

Much has changed in our world since the invention of Steve Jobs took us all by storm. We rely on the usefulness of iPhones, laptops, iPads, and email- to do just about everything. Remember when Y2K had everybody worried? I personally didn't concern myself with stocking canned goods and enough water for an army of camels, but I wondered what would happen that year. Turns out, we made it out alright. So did our precious technological devices. It's a good thing they are okay- just kind of pathetic how much we need them.

Maybe you're different. Maybe you haven't gotten an iPhone yet. Perhaps you don't plan to obtain one and you are annoyed when you see people talking on blu-tooths that make them look like a schizophrenic psychopath. Maybe you wear a watch. You're probably smarter than the rest of us, though your daily lifestyle is somewhat out-dated. At least you don't depend on a friend who has no feelings to provide you information that you can't function without. I could have used your old-school habits on my morning drive without Siri. You could've told me how pathetic I was for relying so much on my phone to navigate through my day. You could've also told me what time it was. People need to know that stuff and radio announcers are letting us down when we need them most.

In a world where kids are depending on computers more than ever, Siri is their teacher. Kids aren't being taught how to write in cursive in some states. I don't like that, but maybe it's because my cursive handwriting has been practiced to perfection. That's too bad since people aren't going to know how to read it when I'm an old lady. Someone will have to decipher my last will and testament, for it may as well be transposed in hieroglyphics. Maybe I'd better tell Siri who gets what when I'm gone. Maybe I should write it all down in neat print, rather than cursive.

I'm 25 and am feeling like an old lady already. Times have changed and we are all evolving. I am an iPhone, iPad, tech-savvy adult who is able to find out anything but what time of day it is. The helpfulness of technological advancements is matched- and perhaps, exceeded- by our dependency on gadgets and the frustration that arises when we must do without them.

People get all worked up about this topic of whether or not technology is good or bad. That's putting it all rather simply, but the explanation encompasses the summary of a long and drawn-out discussion or debate. In summary, times have changed. Information is readily accessible with the touch of a button or click of a mouse. Some people have achieved the perfect balance between technological dependency and old-fashioned practicality of logical reasoning and organization. I have not.

My fellow Siri-dependents, we still need to wear watches. Let's not allow cursive to become obsolete- if, for no other reason apart from the aesthetic beauty it presents to the reader. It would be a good idea to keep a hand-written planner in your car. You should set your clock radio in your car, but you probably have one now that does it for you. My old trusty Altima is not equipped with your new fancy, self-setting clock. I bought an old antique alarm clock that I planned to put in my car. It operates without electricity...At least, that's what I hear. I have no idea how to set the alarm on it though. I know that if I wind it up, it will tick for many hours but will eventually stop. People used to have to stay on top of the clock-winding if they wanted to know the time. Old-fashioned lifestyles had their issues, too. Radio announcers were probably giving morning drivers false time information back then. Still, people somehow kept the time. Life now has it's own issues, but it turns out that it always has. Either grab your iPhone or don't forget to wind up your clock. Your choice.

I opt for Siri and vow to never leave her at home again. If anybody knows how to set the alarm on the old Westclock (pictured above), I'd still like to have a back-up plan. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Spring, Flowers, & Grumpy Day Grouchiness

Lifelooklens Photo, Regina Hodge
I've been very busy. I sometimes feel like blogging is more of a chore than a fun hobby. On those days, I'm usually too exhausted to add any new posts. There is a positive outcome and reasonable excuse, pertaining to my delayed blogging posts- The pictures I've taken over the past few weeks have accumulated. This means I have quite a bit of catching up to do, friends. My excuse for neglecting my blog? Er...Well, I just did. I guess that isn't really a good excuse but I forbid myself to lie on blogspot. My full time job as an associate foster parent trainer/recruiter has incurred more overtime than I document on my weekly time sheet. Not because I don't like getting paid, mind you. I just forget how many hours I've worked. Most people would likely think that's weird...or just plain stupid. My job isn't a 9-5, regular clock-in and clock-out kind of occupation, though. I get phone calls for work, anywhere from 6AM-11PM...not every day, thankfully. Still, the line between my personal and professional life is often blurred. I care about my job, but it can be hard to remember how long I've been on the phone or how much time it took to finish up the paperwork that turns into a mountain by the end of the week. I'm not going to bother with paragraphs today. I'm just going to do this post as lazily as possible. For that, I apologize. I am not truly sorry, though, and my apology is offered more out of politeness than genuine motivation. I'm tired. Here are some flowers. They're pretty, aren't they? Of course they are. They're pink flowers. Pink is the best color and flowers are happy little bloomy things that people freak out about all the time. I'm one of those people. Flowers make me giddy. I am not alone in this, as the growing floral industry's profits continue to flowers. :) I took these photos at a baby shower. My aunt handed me a fancier camera than I knew what to do with, but I think I looked professional. I like to think I looked like I knew exactly what I was doing at that baby shower. I took tons of pictures. These are my favorites. There were others that were good, but they featured people. I like taking pictures of people, but it's trickier. People move around and make weird faces and criticize the picture when it shows how they look. Flowers don't do that. Flowers stay in one position, never wavering. Flowers don't ask to see the picture you took of them. Not that it bothers me when people do that, because I do it, too. I'm overusing commas today. I don't know if anyone really knows the rules for commas. I think people make them up as they go. I always thought you could use commas if you wanted readers to pause at a certain point. I'll ask my sister. She's an English teacher. I wonder if she makes up comma rules, too. No matter, flowers are more simple than people. Flowers are easier to understand than correct comma usage. The paragraph boycott I implemented has gotta go. It's getting on my nerves and that means it's getting on your nerves, too. It's been a hectic, crazy, stressful, and tiring week. Flowers will make it better.

Lifelooklens Photo, Regina Hodge
I want to win a photo contest. I have entered a few, but haven't really pursued a career of photography. I just point and shoot. Then, I post my favorite pictures on the internet. I don't watermark them, which is dumb of me. I get annoyed when photographers watermark their photos, but I totally understand why they do it. It's to keep people like me and you from downloading their artwork. I have accepted the likeliness that I will not become a famous photographer. I'm too sporadic in my ambitions to stick with just one. I write, work, blog, sell on Etsy, travel, drive, interview, do paperwork, and a trillion other things besides photography. Photography is a hobby that, if I were a rich girl (cue song, nahnahnahnananana...see, i'd have all the money in the world, if i were a wealthy giiiiiirl....) Sorry, it just happened. That song has to follow those words. Anyway, if I were a rich girl.. I'd be a professional photographer. I'd spend a fortune on cameras, lenses, equipment, and props- on top of the pile of money I'd spend on art school. However, I am not a rich girl. I am still paying student loans for the college years I spent taking classes I didn't feel passionate about. I sometimes think about going back to school. I'd make more money if I did. Not as a photographer, though. In social work, one tops out fairly early- even with a Master's Degree. Still, one can't move up to the top of the social work ladder without a degree. I'm okay with that right now. I am doing work that is making a difference. It's more rewarding than money- to me, anyway. Not that I'm superior to others who choose to obtain every college degree and credential afforded to their occupational field- I just think degrees are sometimes put before a person's intelligence, capability, and quality of work. Still, a degree is a prerequisite for most jobs. That's frustrating for people like me. I have this perfectionism and analytical nature to figure out just about anything I want to learn about. If that makes me sound conceited, I guess that's what people will think about me. I don't stop until I have figured out a problem or learned how to do something. I'm an introverted thinker, whose brain is continuously spinning. Eventually, I will solve what I set out to solve. It's exhausting. I wish I could be blissfully carefree, sometimes. I'm a worrier, though- When I take on something, I want to be the best at whatever the something is. I work hard. Unfortunately, my blog suffers when I do that. My photography ambitions became a hobby when I realized I'd either have to take out tremendous loans or risk getting a degree that didn't guarantee a job. I suppose I'll figure it all out someday. For now, people can just download my pictures. Not that I encourage it, friends. I just know that it's going to happen. I don't give permission, but I'm not coming after you picture-stealing cleptos. I don't have the time. I thought about entering these flower pictures into a photo contest. It never fails that some professional tops my entries. Good for them. They have loans to pay off and I need to get better at this whole picture-taking thing. If I sound more negative than usual, I am. I don't really have a good reason. Just feeling grumpy today. I wonder if floral shops sell flower baskets for grumpy days. I think grumpy day should be a Hallmark holiday, if not a nationally observed special occasion. Valentine's Day stuff is all over the place. What about grumpy cards and balloons with smiley faces turned grouchy. Oscar the Grouch balloons would be funnier. He should probably be the mascot for grumpy day. We could combine Halloween traditions of dressing up by walking around in trash can costumes. Flowers should still be pretty on Grumpy Day. They should just be sold in trash cans with Oscar The Grouch balloons. Pink flowers and green Oscars would go well together. :)

Lifelooklens Photo, Regina Hodge
I doubt that Grumpy Day will work out. People like happy holidays. People like flowers that aren't in trash cans. Oscar The Grouch isn't liked by everybody. He's too grouchy. Pink flowers are good enough for Valentine's Day, baby showers, and all sorts of other occasions- They just haven't been made the official trademark for Grumpy Day....yet.

Lifelooklens Photo, Regina Hodge
My blog is all over the place. Pretty soon, flowers will be all over the place. Spring is almost here. People get all twitterpated in the spring. Flowers make the grouchiest people smile. Pink flowers make everybody happy. They make you forget about all the things that stress you out. You just turn into a simple caveman and say things like...Oooooh, look at this pretty pink flower. It smells good. I like flowers. Thanks for the flowers. Smell these flowers. And that, my friends, is the stuff of life. Those stupid, simple flowers. They require no thought. They aren't a problem to solve- unless you're a gardener. That's one job I'll never take on- Flowers are the solution for my Grumpy Day. I hope they are for you, too. :)