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My Homebuying Guide

Here is the My Lesson In Motivation (tongue-in-cheek) Home Buying Guide:

Step 1: Fall madly in love with an architect and decide to buy a house with him (or her – in my case, it was a him)

Step 2: When looking at/purchasing a house with said architect, let his imagination run wild with possibilities

Step 3: Listen to those possibilities with an open heart and admiration for your partner’s genius

Step 4: Reign those wild fantasies in by imposing a strict timeline/deadline and a strict budget!

In reality, this plan basically did work out for us. My wonderful architect is not a residential architect, I’m sure that makes a difference. Instead, mine works in the “science and technology” sector (read: he designs crazy lab space for research scientists at universities and pharmaceutical companies). I think it worked out nicely because he wasn’t a snob about residential design, but understood it well enough to recognize a home’s “good bones” or hidden disasters. He was also looking for a house that would grant him a few hands-on projects. The downside was that he’s used to dealing with multi-million dollar  budgets… which we don’t have! (see Step #4) 

Additionally (which would be a more serious suggestion), we created a “needs and wants” list. Here’s an example of our list:

Need: A yard
Want: A LARGE yard
Need: Bedrooms on a separate floor from livingroom so when Mr. Light Sleeper goes to bed early, he’s not disturbed by Ms. Night Owl watching tv
Want: Fireplace
(etc) 

We reviewed it with our realtor as well, which was a good idea because he could ask things like “which would you rather: a house with a new roof or a house with a new kitchen.” That was easy: roof! Our rental has an avocado colored kitchen and we’ve been living with that for 4 1/2 years, but we’re sick of living there because the roof leaks…

Look at that hideous green floor! The countertops match one of those greens... (and then there's my Prissy Pants as a kitten playing with a paper towel roll for scale... and to distract you from how truly ugly that floor is)

Look at that hideous green floor! The countertops match one of those greens… (and then there’s my Prissy Pants as a kitten playing with a paper towel roll for scale… and to distract you from how truly ugly that floor is)

We ended up getting a house with all of our “needs” and some of our “wants.” Plus, the wonderful architect still got a house with projects to keep him busy.

One thing I’ve personally found funny is that everyone we show the (still empty) house to (with the solitary exception of my mother… who has been SUPER awesome enough to help us with all of our projects so far), says something along the lines of “well, have you considered doing this…?” to which, T always responds so politely, “Oh, that’s a good idea.” And I giggle in the corner because apparently our friends and family don’t realize that they are talking to an architect who has envisioned that house a million different ways. (Seriously, he did a mock-up of a dream kitchen that was so detailed I was in the rendering as a reference for scale. And while he had built a tv into the wall so “we could watch cooking shows,” he had placed a more likely, still image of a Patriot’s game on the tv since neither of us actually like to cook!)

Or our loved ones ask “Why aren’t you doing this…?” To which, one of us will reply “well, we considered it, but then Jen’s wallet started to cry, so it was tabled to a later date/moved down the priority list, etc.” (again, see Step #4).

We also casually shopped for houses for 4 years and had a good idea of what was out there, what we liked, and what we didn’t like. I think that really helped… but might not be a possibility for everyone…

If you came across this page because you’re actually thinking about buying a house: good luck! Happy house hunting! 

Or to my regular readers: what would your home-buying suggestions be?

Other People Can be Awesome!

Wow… it’s certainly been awhile! I’m sorry I vanished.

What have I been up to since I last posted?

  • Well, I’ve attended three weddings (and two rehearsal dinners because my wonderful boyfriend was a groomsman/best man).
  • I did one race, which I still need to update you about! It was fun!
  • I was intensely under the weather for over a week with a super powerful stomach bug
  • And I’ve been working towards buying a house!

All big and crazy things. Although the house isn’t a sure thing yet. We had put an offer in on it earlier, and the owners chose to go with someone else who bid more (can’t blame them there). However, the other bidder had to pull out because their bank wouldn’t give them enough money to buy the house, tear it down, and build something grander that they could sell off. I’m sorry for them, but psyched for me! It’s been a bunch of work already though. I’m guessing that the seller can’t afford to keep their house, which is a major bummer and I feel very badly for them. However, it also meant that they couldn’t afford to do the proper testing required to sell a house. Which means that we’ve had to pay for all of that and we found out about an hour ago that the house failed a major test! (It’s failed a few little ones already). When I say major, I mean it will cost about $20k to fix and it’s not something we can live without (unless we have no interest in ever using any luxury a bathroom offers… shower, toilet, or sink – and I’m not the kind of girl who can give up indoor plumbing). So we’ll see… I’m not sure the owners want us to take $2ok off our offer.

However, this is a motivation blog. You don’t care about my silly house woes which will resolve themselves either way.

So let me talk about motivation. Let me tell you what has been getting me through all of this stress.

I often like to say that I find other people to be motivating. For example, when I first started running outside and was loosely doing the walk/run of the Couch to 5k program, if I could see another person when it came time for walking, I would keep running until they couldn’t see me anymore. A little crazy? Heck yes, but it really helped increase my running distances. Plus, I live near Boston… so there are always people on my running path.

Well, during this last month, I focused again on other people motivating me. Specifically, my wonderful boyfriend. When I was struggling with that stomach bug, I didn’t want to eat anything ever because as soon as I swallowed something, my intestines would seize up. I didn’t even want water. That’s just not right. He was there the entire time, making sure I wasn’t starving myself.

When this home buying thing got a little scary, he was always there making sure we were on the right track. (I hate spending money, it makes me so uncomfortable. No joke, buying a cell phone makes me want to vomit. I had my last cell phone for 8 years before finally getting a new one. I could never be a member of the iphone cult that has to get the new product the second it comes out. Makes me queasy just thinking about it.)

And I really believe that motivation can completely come in the form of other people. It’s super important to have someone in your corner even when you aren’t. My boyfriend is a truly wonderful person who is always cheering me on or taking care of me or supporting me in whatever way I need. He’s a very positive person. I think that’s really important. Negative people have a way of draining motivation from us. And that’s really not helpful when we’re draining our own motivation.

If there’s anything I can wish for you is that you have an equally wonderful person (partner, relative, friend, whatever) to help motivate you towards what you want (not what they want) when you need the extra boost.

Good luck!

Married or Single?

As I’ve mentioned before, my wonderful boyfriend and I have been together for 10 years and we have no plans to ever get married. And we’re both totally ok with that.

There are just a few things that I hate about not having a better word than “boyfriend.”

  1. Whenever we go to weddings, I hate introducing him as a boyfriend… it makes him sound new… most times, we’ve been together longer than the couple getting married
  2. It makes us sound like we’re 16 (and we’re not)
  3. Categories, when filling out forms, don’t seem accurate

To expand on #3, I just went to a new gynecologist and had to fill out all of the medical forms. I had to list myself as single. Personally, I think the forms for that type of doctor should be different, because isn’t she more worried about my risk factors? I have one, committed partner – just like a standard married person. Someone could mark that they are married, but they could be in an open relationship and be seeing a ton of play. Shouldn’t the doctor be more interested in how many people have access to the playground?

Isn’t there a difference?

But that’s beside the point. The reason for this post is because I’m actually really excited about a demographics form that I filled out on a survey! The survey is for Jiminy Peak, where I did the aerial obstacle course a few weeks ago. Here’s the question that got me jazzed:

Fabulous, right?!

I hope that more forms start looking like this. Especially as the group of un-married “co-habitators” continues to increase.  🙂

Ten Tales of T – Day 6 – Quotes on Love

Hello!

To celebrate my 10 year anniversary with my boyfriend, I’m dedicating 10 posts to him. You can read more about it here.

Today, I’m just going to share with you some of my favorite quotes about love, because I don’t have a lot of time. T and I are about to leave for a mini-vacation! I had hours of rehearsal on our actual anniversary, but he’s such a good sport, he was willing to accept a “rain date.” So we’re taking a long weekend and running off to Philadelphia. I’ve never been there before so I’m really excited! Plus, T is a really good travel buddy. 

So here are some of my favorite quotes about love (and I’m silly… so most of them are too):

“Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.” ~ Charlie Brown (I love this one because I LOVE peanut butter)

“All that matters in a relationship is that you like the same pizza toppings.” ~The Simpsons

“Real elation is when you feel like you could touch a star without standing on tiptoe.” ~Doug Larson

“Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.” ~Oscar Wilde

I know I have better ones, but T is packing the car, so it’s time to go! 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Master’s Degree, Earned!

Wow, it’s been a really long time since I’ve written a post (or even read posts from my favorite bloggers, but I’m starting to catch up)! I’m sorry for the long absence!

What did I do in that time? Well, I wrote, revised (4 times), and defended my Master’s Thesis! Whoa!

In reality, my Master’s Thesis was a project with a reflection paper. In the fall, I wrote a play with a community theater group (I led a bunch of creative sessions, took all of the work they created, and blended it into a cohesive script). It was a great time and I would do it again in a heartbeat. So the thesis project was actually directing (and further editing) that script (the play also went up this weekend, talk about exhausting). I wanted to do a project because I felt like that’s the type of thing at which I excel. I can do research and formulate a creative paper, but that’s not my strong suit. Meeting with people and creating something theatrical is what makes me happier. Ironically, I want to teach dramatic literature.

My cast, taking a bow

Also ironic: my final reflection paper (including two appendices – the first draft of the script and the production draft of the script) ended up being 104 pages… what was I saying about not wanting to write a paper?

This past month was ROUGH! To relate it to running terms, I feel like the first year and a half of the program was similar to a few 5ks at a 12 minute pace. This last month was like a marathon at a full-out, sub 6 minute, sprint. It’s not entirely true though, that’s just a symptom of a faulty memory. If I really think about, last semester was brutal and I was stressed all the time. The first half of this semester was no cake-walk either and I was always nervous about falling behind on work.

In early March, my wonderful boyfriend was asking about planning a graduation party. At the time, I really felt as though I didn’t deserve a party. I felt like I really hadn’t done anything special that was worth celebrating. Yes, I was about to finish my Master’s program, but I had really enjoyed the time I spent in most of the classes. Most of it (especially to a faulty memory) was fun! I’ve changed my opinion on that in the last few weeks though. I have worked my butt off! I really do feel as though I have earned something. Although, now I really just want to take a nap! 

Typically in this blog I try to talk about motivation. So what motivated me through this sprint? If I didn’t get my thesis in on time, I would have had to pay $900 for a continuing ed credit over the summer. I’ve already paid over $40,000 for this program and I certainly wasn’t going to finance nearly 1k additional on my own. I was going to finish on time come hell or high water! Luckily for me, my thesis committee is AWESOME and they would edit and return my drafts so quickly and they would even send them back on weekends. They were so good to me! If you haven’t read about my love for one of my professors, you can check that out here.

Going for the thesis defense was so intimidating! The only person I’ve ever talked to about a thesis defense was my best friend who got her PhD in Math. She had to do a whole Powerpoint presentation and everything! I was so nervous!

Luckily for me, though, I had the most amazing thesis committee in world. As soon as I sat down, my committee chair basically said: “We’re not going to be mean to you. It was our job to prepare you to this point, so if we pick you apart, all we’re doing is pointing out how poorly we did our job.” She rocks! They asked me a few follow-up questions to my paper, we talked about ideas and advice if I were to do this again, we talked about my stumbling blocks and how they would have dealt with them, and when it was all over, they gave me a cupcake! I think that’s a good sign. Plus, it’s a sign that I had a really awesome committee!

Not the actual cupcake, but similar...

I’m so thrilled to be done!

But then there is the question: now what? I like to stay busy… so I guess there is a lot of running in my future!

Ten Tales of T – Day 5 – Fav Photo

To celebrate my 10 year anniversary with my wonderful boyfriend, I’m dedicating 10 posts to him. Check out the first one (with more explanation).

This is my very first, favorite photo of us.  This picture was taken at the farewell dinner while we were studying in London, we flew home 2 days later. The crown on my head (and the streamer) is from one of the holiday crackers. They distributed the crackers with desert, and we all got a little crazy with them.

Holiday Cracker example

This picture is also where I really started my “silly picture” phase. After a semester of smiling in everyone’s pictures, I was sick of it, I wanted silly pictures! I still love silly pictures and most people who have taken a picture with me in the last decade know it (it’s gotten particularly worse in the last 3 years, I would say).  My thought is: would you rather see a plastic smile on everyone’s face or see everyone having fun? I vote for having fun! The silly pictures make me laugh every time I see them. Plus, at my memorial service when I’m gone, I’d prefer 80% silly pictures of me! I’d prefer to be remembered for having enjoyed my time!

In this picture, you can’t quite tell, but I’m licking T’s face. And the reason I love this picture is because of his expression. To me, it completely reads as “yes, I know she’s ridiculous… and yet, I find her irresistible!” 🙂

Our relationship is still totally like this picture. He knows I rock the “crazy-pants” but he loves me passionately anyway (in spite of my “crazy-pants” behavior? hmm… because of!).

Ten Tales of T – Day 4

To celebrate my 10 year anniversary with my wonderful boyfriend, I’m dedicating 10 posts to him and our relationship. If you want to read the first three days, you can check them out here, here, and here.

For today’s post, I’m going to jump ahead in time a bit (about a year and half) from the last post. This is one of my all time favorite memories even though it’s about a really lousy day. But it was the first time I could clearly see how much I loved T and how glad I was that he was in my life and how wonderfully he treated me.

He and I both studied abroad in London together for a semester. At our school, our London study abroad program was a little different from any of the other study abroad programs offered by the school. The juniors and seniors in the theater department pretty much just picked up and moved to London along with a professor every other year. The school rented out an entire hostel, rented classrooms at the University of London, and hired a few teachers. And then we watched a LOT of theater (as in 6 days a week… it was a lot and exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything). The group was mostly theater majors, but we picked up a few stragglers too, a few english majors, dance majors, etc. And that year, we picked up one really cute architect who claimed he wanted to learn more about theaters and their architecture… but let’s be real, he just wanted to hang out with me. I thought it was really sweet (I think he regrets it a little because it threw off his education and he graduated late… but he got a long-term girlfriend out of the deal so I don’t know if he regrets it at lot).

T with the Tower Bridge... taken on actual film and pretty lousy lighting... sorry about that!

For class, we had to go see some really large (and famous) street market, although the name escapes me now, that was only open on weekends. A group of us piled onto the Tube to go across London. After about 30 seconds on the Tube, I started to feel terribly sick.

Just as a general note, I passed out a lot in high school… as my form of PMS. Some women get cramps, I pass out at really inopportune times in public. Birth control normally keeps that in check, but for some stupid reason I decided I didn’t want to take it in London (opting for other forms of birth control). Does anyone else do that? Hate the way your birth control pill makes you feel so you go off it only to go running back in a month? I’ve done that a few times in my life and this was the stupidest time, by far.

Anyway, back to the story with me feeling dizzy on the Tube. We had to change trains (to a different line) and when we went to do that, I KNEW I couldn’t make the rest of the trip. I don’t really remember how it went down, but poor T ended up having to carry me out of the underground station, up a flight of stairs and everything. (Thank goodness we were young, so I was still skinny and he was still pretty buff!) We waited outside for a while hoping that would get rid of the dizziness, but it didn’t. He called for a cab to take us back across town to our hostel.

And then things got worse… I threw up along the side of the cab (sticking my head out the window) while we’re driving down the street. The cabbie didn’t hide the fact that he HATED us and thought I was some hungover American (which I wasn’t… American, yes. Hungover, no).

When we finally got back to our building, T escorted me up 4 flights of stairs to my room, helped me take off the pukey clothes (I may have gotten some mess all over my sweatshirt), and put me to bed. Then he went back down to the cabbie, and brought buckets of water so T could clean my puke off the car. He apologized profusely and tipped triple the fee. We were both so embarrassed.

Once the cabbie wasn’t as angry, T came back up to me and held my hand for hours while I took a nap. He never complained or said anything negative. He was just 100% sweet.

This memory just sums up so much of T’s personality for me. He’s selfless, sweet, caring, and he always takes such good care of me! I’m immeasurably glad that he came along to London and that he was there for me when I got sick.

We're on the left. We got to spend some time hanging out in the National Theatre's costume warehouse. It was the coolest thing ever! I think we're all wearing costumes from the Wind in the Willows. Out of the 9 rolls of film I shot while in London, there are only 5 pictures of both of us together!

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