Category Archives: Marriage

Staying in the Frame

I took a break from culling my family Easter photos to read this article. I loved it. My husband has many good qualities but he often seems to forget that we don’t need to worry about the cost of film these days, and will take a single photo of me and not bother to check if it’s in focus and at all decent/flattering. I was heartbroken after our UK trip when the one photo I had asked him to take, he had taken a single one and it was blurry. We had nowhere to go, and there was no reason that he couldn’t have checked the d*mn viewfinder to make sure our kid and I were in focus. I got pretty mad about it and after much complaining from me, he has improved dramatically, but we still have some of these issues.

Worse is my Dad, who is obsessed with documenting photos but takes terrible and unflattering photos that I don’t want to look at or share.  The complaints of my female friends whose spouses or other family members consistently cut off their heads or don’t focus the camera properly in their zeal to get photos, and never take a moment to look at the back of the camera and see if they got something usable, are numerous.

I’m not a photographer, but a few tips, especially if like a lot of people, you bought a DSLR when you had a baby but never actually use it. First of all, leave your camera out and accessible when you are doing a fun activity so that your spouse remembers to take photos. Secondly, if you are out hiking or playing and bring a camera, make sure to trade off. Nothing reminds the other person to take a few photos like having a heavy camera around their neck. Third of all, if possible, remind them/remember that downward angles are the most flattering, and sometimes, it is okay to interrupt a moment and worry about preserving it by telling a person their hair is in their face (read the room on this one though). Don’t take photos of people while you are sitting and they are standing. If possible, just stand up. Fourth, don’t ever imply somebody is vain because they want a photo of themselves or their kid. Fifth, hire a professional for a family shoot every once in awhile.  Six, keep some of the unflattering photos even if you hate them. Seven, buy clothes you like that you look good in and wear them for special occasions where you know somebody will take a photo. Eight, buy clothes you like that you look good in for family vacation so you don’t hate the way you look in a photo of you with your awkward hiking pants and your stained performance wear shirt that hits you in all the wrong places.

My childhood was well documented on film, but my Dad has been going through slides lately and lamenting how few non-posed photos there are of my mother and her sister, and especially of her mother.  My favorite photos of my mother lately have been ones like this:

Printed February 1984

It is not the most flattering photo, or the best in the world, but tell me you don’t look at that and feel the sheer exhaustion of a new mother. I look at this and I feel the sheer weight of everything that hit my mom that year, the loss of her mother, finally getting the baby she wanted so badly, and she doesn’t know it here but I know she’ll be pregnant again 9 months after having this baby. This picture makes me know my mom better.

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Filed under Marriage, Parenting

5 Years

We accidentally started house hunting recently.  I say accidentally, but it was sort-of intentional, and mostly, we fell into it.  It feels like the natural next step, interest rates are low, our apartment is starting to chafe a bit.

But house hunting means admitting that neither of us plan to be at our jobs for more than another year.  So does buying a house based on these jobs make a lot of sense?  And do we decide where we want to live, and build a life around that, or do we decide what we want to do, and build a life around that?

I do not know the answer.  But it seems to make sense to ask myself that age-old job interview question: where do you see yourself in five years?  And for the first time in my career, I have a real answer.

I see myself working in either public interest, or at a small firm (fewer than 10 attorneys) – but a bigger office than my current one.  I see myself working collaboratively with others.  I see myself having a strong relationship with my coworkers.  I see myself going to court no more than once a week.  I see myself doing some legislative lobbying work, some outreach work, and some academic work.  I see myself doing work that is challenging but not exhausting; well-paced and well-managed.  I see myself with more support than I currently have.  I see myself working at a place that has secure-ish funding, so that every year, I am not at the mercy of a single grant being renewed.  I see myself working the hours that I want to work (and I think that I want those hours to be something more like 7am-3pm) and being able to have the spare time after work that I need to stay in shape, stay healthy, and have a good relationship with my family.  I see myself being able to sleep at night.  I see myself being able to talk about my job at parties without bringing the room down.  I see myself having a commute that doesn’t make me feel miserable about my work or my house.

If I expand that, to where do I see myself living in 5 years, I still don’t see the answer.  Do I have small children who I’m preparing to send to an inner city elementary school?  Do we have a backyard and an adorable corgi?  Do we have a back patio and an adorable beagle? Do we have a garden or a garden plot?  Do I have small children who we load into the rear trailer behind our tandem and pedal around the local trail on the weekend?  Do we have no children and a life filled with travel and adventure?  Do we have children and a life filled with travel and adventure?

Home ownership, it seems, is maybe something that you should do when you feel ready to settle down, when you are at a place that you are happy with, in your career and everything else.  My friends who bought houses when they were in a state of flux seem to have regretted it, or at least wound up with lousy commutes.  And I remember the lease we signed five years ago two weeks before my then-boyfriend got laid off.  How stuck I felt.  That was a one-year lease!  This is a HOUSE!

But then I consider how terribly happy we are here.  How we committed to building a life here even though I didn’t have a job.  That committing to that for the future doesn’t seem impossible.  I have job options here and I like practicing here.  So…why not commit to living here?  Why not continue to be terribly happy?  (The property taxes are insane in this city, that’s why.)

Has anyone else faced these issues?  What did you do?

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Filed under Job Search, Lawyering, Life List, Marriage

Wales (Part I)

We are home.  The trip was awesome.  We spent 3 full days in Wales, and 3 full days with the husband’s family, and it was everything a vacation should be, except maybe relaxing.

The good thing about vacations that are a little bit stressful is that coming home feels like it is also a vacation.  Yes, I have to go to work, but there are no more hours-long train or coach rides in my future, for the time being.

Nonetheless, we did get a chance to relax.  I will recap our cycle trip separately, but for here I will state that the Taff trail is not “mostly flat” and August, while perhaps the dry season for Wales, is still Wales.

I have created a new rule for trips to the UK, which is, “never travel without fleece.”  I waffled on whether or not to bring my fleece jacket, deciding on “no” and brought a lightweight cotton hoodie.  I wish I still owned a microfleece jacket, something like this, as that would have been perfect for the trip.  The last time I was in England during the summer, they were having a heat wave so it was 85 degrees.

I am taking today off work to do laundry, wash dishes, go grocery shopping, and take care of some other household-related tasks.  Hopefully I can find the energy to do that and not just sort through 500 pictures from the trip :).  I shall leave you with this one from the Animal Wall next to the Cardiff Castle.

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Another Year?

A few fellow bloggers have recently resigned themselves to another year of living in a place they are miserable, with a job they don’t love.  One of them and I were talking and I commented that it seemed unfair that she is stuck in a place she hates with a job; and I’m stuck in a place I love, but with no job.  We debated which one was better.

I love the city where I’m living, but when I think about another year of doing what I’ve been doing – another year of waking up, checking the job listing websites, aimlessly writing cover letters for jobs I would be perfect for but won’t hire me; jobs I’m more experienced than, but won’t hire me; and jobs that are total reach positions and won’t hire me, another year of that, even in a city I love, is unbearable.

I am very lucky that I get to live someplace I like, with my family, friends, and my support system nearby, and that I have a fantastic husband who comes home to me every day, tells me how happy he is to be married to me, and eats my somewhat mediocre and salt-free cooking.  But the idea of staying here, jobless, for another year?  Man, that is a bitter pill to swallow.

The husband and I talked and I asked him if I should be applying to jobs that would require us to relocate.  He requested that I don’t just yet, until I’ve exhausted all of the options with a manageable commute in the area.  A job in the hand is worth two in the bush, and he has it, so for right now, we’re staying put. I’ve put in a few applications, but I’m not looking extremely hard to move to other areas of the state.

So yeah. It might be another year of dues-paying and feeling inadequate and non-contributory because I’m not making money (which I should get over, but it’s hard.) But it’s okay, because as Meg says, we all have access to success.  So I’m just going to have to make some kind of success happen for me, professional or otherwise.

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Filed under Job Search, Marriage, Unemployed

Closet reorganization

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A few of you asked for pictures once I sorted out my closet.  I haven’t actually painted it like I wanted to, but it is currently functional, and that makes a huge difference.  I have a tendency to focus on small things that won’t actually help instead of big things that will.

A few weeks ago, I came home to my husband building a shoe rack for me. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but once it was in my closet, it was great for boots and party shoes. I then found two shoe racks when we cleaned up at my folks house, and once I had those, I moved my suits and dresses around. My shoes are generally still littered around the house, but at least now I don’t waste time looking for them in my closet. I also feel better and my husband is happy. I also like to keep the top and bottom racks clear so that when I come home and kick off my shoes (I go from suit to playclothes within five minutes of getting into the house), I just kick them under the shoe rack or toss them on top.  I did have to start hanging my pants halfways on hangers to get enough room to see my shoes, but that actually keeps them a little neater anyway.  I have several pairs of activity-specific shoes, like my dance shoes and my tap shoes, which all go on those bottom shelves that are a little blocked, since I rarely use them but won’t get rid of them.  My hiking boots and winter boots are on the floor to the right of the picture, under my sweater rack, since I also rarely use them.

I’ve been saying for years that I wouldn’t use a standard shoe rack, but it turns out the problem isn’t my shoe rack, it was my closet.  If I can’t see my shoes, I won’t use a shoe rack, so as soon as I got all the long stuff out of the way, the shoe rack was easy.

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Weekend Plans

At Writing Group tonight, it came to my attention that there are married couples out there who have not seen the Weekend Plans video.  Go. Watch.  http://youtu.be/IegSRQwS8ZQ  Then come back and discuss how couples can make friends with other couples.

Without being mad weird or creepy.

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Nesting

When I first started this blog, my purpose was to have my “married” blog talk about the reality of being married, but also about my life after marriage.  I didn’t want to get sucked into a “we” and talk about throw pillows all the time.  I get really sad when smart, funny women bloggers go forth into their next endeavor and feel like they have to write about their married life together.  I started writing a wedding blog to write about the challenges I faced when planning a wedding, and I started this blog to write about the challenges of being an unemployed, twenty-something lawyer working to navigate the world of job hunting, employment, and professionalism. 

Nonetheless, I’m four weeks in at work, loving it, even though it’s really hard, and my husband’s sister just bought a house.  As we walked around it last weekend, I found myself getting increasingly jealous of their home improvement.  I’m not jealous that they have to completely redo their bedroom and bathroom, repaint all of the rooms, and put down hardwood floors, but I am jealous that they get to do those things, and also they’re really happy about it.  I also saw Bunny’s goreous and well organized closet and got majorly envious of her organization.  When we moved in, my husband promised me a proper shoe rack, but I’ve been putting it off.  Finally, I decided I must have one, because I am now in a position to be using my closet daily and need to keep my shoes organized. 

Then I thought, well, if I put in a shoe rack, maybe I could also finally live my dream of painting our apartment just a little bit.  I would really like, for example, to paint my closet a bright, sunny color.  Maybe a yellow or a blue, but I’m open to ideas and suggestions.   

(source)

I’m also obsessed with doing some kind of temporary backsplash or other improvements in our kitchen.  Or at least painting the backsplash.  Maybe the same color as the closet.  Our kitchen is extremely dark and the cabinets have these really ornate old fashioned handles, which I would like to replace as well.  I’m thinking something modern, perhaps in an aged copper-type finish.  Our cabinets are really dark (and I don’t want to paint them), so a bright chrome would be too much contrast.  We also desperately need a new kitchen rug, as husband decided to use ours as a potholder and melted it.  Also it’s too small for our kitchen and very old.  I think it’s actually a bathmat. 

Anyone have suggestions as to what projects are good to undertake, or where to start?  The aim is to just generally have a place that I’m happy to come home to.  (Not that I’m not happy now, but I feel that a few small changes would make a big difference.  We’re pretty sure we’ll be staying another year (at least), as long as our rent doesn’t increase, so I’m looking to actively nest this summer.   (I also want a new couch for the living room.) 

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