We’re thankful for lots of things, and you guys are just a few of them. Hope you’re all happily stuffing your faces and counting your blessings!
I had a hard time and a good debate with friends about this particular day. I couldn’t decide if it was the worst, best day of my life, or the best, worst day of my life. I chose the latter, but I’m not sure it really makes any difference. So what am I talking about exactly? Well, naturally, I am talking about October 12th. Yes, October the 12th was the best, worst day of my life. Why? I ran a marathon. All 26.2 miles of it. I want to tell you the story (which might help to explain why I haven’t been the author of many posts around here lately). Gather round, gather round.
It should first be noted that this was the first time, and will also be the last time in which I ever take part in such a silly endeavor. It all started when my dear friend Kimmi, a colleague of mine, convinced me that it was a good idea. We had been training together with no particular purpose in mind for some time, when she dreamed up this idea that a marathon would be a good idea. We texted back and forth and I somewhat relented and agreed to go along with it. We googled some training plans and given that there were only nine weeks left until it was going to go down, we altered a 12 week plan by skipping the first 3 weeks.
This training began excellently, as it was during the summer and we had all the free time in the world to tackle the challenges laid out in front of us. The world was our oyster, or something like that. We ticked off the days, talked about upcoming workouts and generally just prepped for this. We both clearly had no idea what we were doing, but with a track background I felt at least I had some idea of what I was talking about. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.
Let’s fast forward to race day. The Baltimore Running Festival. It was slated to be this massive day of marathon, half-marathon, 5K, and relay. The whole city was essentially shut down. Katie and her parents had secured a spot at our favorite restaurant , which was right on the course. Free mimosas. A sign cheering us on. Enough said. I was ready to go.
So the horn went off and we headed out on our way. We had to make the decision early on about which group we wanted to run with and initially, we chose pacers that were planning to run 3 hours and 55 minutes. Our goal was 4 hours, so it made sense. After feeling it out, we decided we actually felt better than that and moved up with the 3:45 group (read: we made a really dumb decision). As a social experience, the marathon is awesome–you get to talk to lots of people, see cool signs and hear lots of people cheering for you at random, just because you are insane. We weaved through the streets of downtown, ticking off the miles. 20 to go. 15 to go. Halfway there.
We met Katie and her family at mile 16, which is where they were many mimosas deep and were cheering and taking pictures, much like this one:
(Sweet orange shoes, bro)
I hate to be cliche here, but this was the beginning of the end for both of us, as the streets went from what we call in algebra flat, to what we called in algebra steep. As we climbed up, our mental state was going down. Right around mile 21, we decided it was time to sever ties. Kimmi thought that going faster would just end the pain–I thought that going slower would allow me to finish.
The last 5 miles were an absolute blur of exhaustion, dehydration, a guy in a tiger suit, some gummy bears, my boss running a quarter of a mile with me taking selfies and the finish line.
I didn’t get whatever “bug” people say you get when you cross the finish line that makes you want to do a million more marathons. Instead, I got a medal, a heat blanket, 5 bottles of water, and a seat on the ground next to the other exhausted people. Twins.
I’ll never do it again. Ever. Maybe the half. Maybe a 5k. Maybe I’ll just stick to walking. In the end though, crossing off such a major accomplishment from a bucket list will do!
My dad used to work in a gemstone shop when he was younger (aka the 70s). In my head it was exactly the kind of dirty hippie enclave you see in the movies – probably selling a little bit more than gemstones, if you know what I mean.
But anyway – working at such a place gave my dad a unique interest and knowledge of stones and jewelry, and I have lots of memories growing up of him seeing a random tchotchke/piece of jewelry as we passed a storefront, then dragging my brother and I inside to examine further and also to chat up whatever poor saleslady happened to be working at the time. He’d explain the type of stone, how it got formed, etc. We whined about it at the time, of course, but that little tradition gave me a collection of memories I’m sure I’ll hold onto forever.
So maybe this is where my newfound addiction to agate comes from? Whatever the cause, I keep picking up agate-related stuff. Here’s to you, Dad!
It all started with the slices of Brazillian agate I framed and hung on our new gallery wall:
Then I ordered this cool old print from some kind of turn-of-the-century geology book from my homegirl Charlotte, and hung it with some other artwork in the guest bedroom:
The middle frame is filled with some fabric, per usual, and the top piece is actually a painting from Haiti. One of our thoughtful friends gave it to Chris, because he worked VERY hard when we were in college to raise money and support for earthquake victims (if you’re interested, the particular cause he raised money for and our friend is involved with is the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, and they’re always in need of support!). I unexpectedly love the fact that the canvas this one is painted on is not actually square – of you look carefully you can see how one edge is slightly longer than the others so it’s a bit skewed. That is charm, people!
Also now living in the guest room is a new metal and glass end table. I got it from target on clearance and with a coupon for like $25. The underside of the glass is painted to look like agate and brings a little color into this side of the room. I put a pot full of succulents (planted with the leftovers from our engagement party) on it for now, since it’s a great sun-filled little spot:
Overall I think the agate theme is subtle and cute, and since it reminds me of the best dad in the world it’s that much better.
How about you guys? Any sweet childhood memories manifesting themselves as subliminal purchasing habits in adulthood for you??
I still use physical post-it notes for to-do lists – see them stuck all over my desk?
I know there are all sorts of digital versions that are way more sophisticated and eco-friendly than the approximately five thousand that I go through per week. But there’s something about physically crossing off to-do list items that really gets me going. It’s the grown-up version of getting a gold star.
Since it’s finally starting to get a little cooler around here, I figured it might be a good idea to see what I can check off from our summer to-do list. Although we haven’t been very good at posting projects as we do them, we were actually surprisingly productive during the summer months. Let’s see how we did…
Our Summer To-Do List:
1. Fix our unstable, unlevel, and probably unsafe floor joist. Remember, the one under our fridge? Yeah, we need to take care of that, like, yesterday. We’re getting there. Here’s a halfway photo, with more details to come:
2. Start getting together our bedroom, which is still in the same state as it was when we first moved in. As in, mattress on the floor and a dresser. Check. We hunted for some beds but didn’t quite find one that we liked. So we made one ourselves (full tutorial and plan via Ana-white.com coming soon!).
3. Install some ceiling fans. We had two old, gross, ugly fans in the living room and front bedroom when we moved in, but we’d also like to replace the light fixture that was in our bedroom with a fan, too. They’re just necessary in the stagnant, sticky Baltimore heat. Again, still working on it. We’ll say one down, two to go. so this one gets a third of the way crossed off.
4. Figure out how to make ceiling fans attractive. I have no idea if this one is possible or not, but I’ll do it or die trying! Hopefully we succeeded. We’ll see what you have to say.
5. Make us some furniture. I’ve been trolling Ana White’s site and have a few ideas up my sleeve. Check – see #2.
7. Replace our front and back doors, front first floor window (it’s broken), and maybe second floor front windows. This one gets another third of a cross-off – we have a bangin new front door, but the other two are waiting to be done.
8. Get a head start on some of our bigger projects, which we’ll explain in more detail soon. Ok, this one’s barely started. But we warned you this list was optimistic!
In addition to crossing off some items from the list, we also tackled a few unexpected projects like a mini-makeover of the guest bedroom, some other random updates in the living room, and most importantly some relaxation time, as a couple and with friends.
For our first summer in our neglected little house, I think we did alright. We knew this list was optimistic, and then as time went on the priority list got modified, which is ok. And when push came to shove, we prioritized sanity over productivity and took time to do what summer was meant for: having fun!
How did you spend your summer months?
We’re loving our brand spankin’ new, Brushed Orange, 12-Lite, $20 front door. Everyone who’s come to visit loves it, too – so I’m so glad we stuck to our guns and went with such a bold choice.
We showed you what it looks like from the outside, remember?
But we did paint the WHOLE door that lovely shade, and the difference it makes inside is pretty awesome, too. First of all, just having light streaming in from all of those fabulous little 12 lites (and man, do I love every last one of them!) makes a world of difference:
But if you ask me, the pop of cheery brightness does’t hurt this little baby room, either! There’s something about the color that just makes the space seem cozy but not as tiny anymore.
To keep our privacy at least somewhat intact, we picked up a simple bamboo Roman shade from Lowe’s (this particular kind can be cut to size, but the as-is width of 24 inches was perfect already):
It was super easy to hang (you just screw in some metal hooks to whatever you’re attaching it to, and then attach the blinds to the hooks with hardware that’s included in the box – literally, took me 3 minutes).
Even Ralph loves the new look – it means he can creep out the window at every single passerby, and also allows for some sunbathing on the living room chairs if he plays his cards right:
Just compare that to this old before photo, with the original solid door:
All in all, I’m so glad to be able to come home to this every day, instead!
If anyone knows anything about installing a new door and fixing up a door frame, its Chris Martin. He wrote his song, the Scientist (because it takes one to do it) about replacing our front door:
Yeah, this one was a doozy. There were some hiccups, some arguing, and maybe an instance (or two) of random-object-throwing (but at least it wasn’t at anyone). It was stressful and took forever, but we’re so glad we did it for a lot of reasons. The new door looks great, of course, but this was also something of a breakthrough moment for us – as DIYers and also as a couple.
You see, with all our previous projects (including the new bed frame we’ve been working on recently), we’ve argued and yelled and got mad at each other, pretty much the whole time. In fact, most of our projects involve us just cutting/nailing/screwing/whatever-ing while simultaneously screaming obscenities at each other. Come to think of it, it’s sort of just how we live our lives in general – in a constant, very loud and obnoxious fight. With a few hours of peace here and there. I’m sure our neighbors really mean it when they say they’re glad we moved in.
Ok, I guess that’s a bit of an exaggeration. There are at least several hours in between screaming matches, not just a few. But you get my point. DIY-ing may not seem like a very healthy thing for a relationship, from the outside (and we’re not the only example – everyone seems to agree that renovating a house is a recipe for conflict). And then you’re fighting, and there are power tools. Yikes.
But this project in particular proved to us that DIY-ing can actually bring us together – it’s sort of the homebody version of when your couples therapist tells you to take a long road trip together. (Which, for the record, we’re not very good at, either.) You know, you go through hell but in the end, you’re closer than you’ve ever been?
The trick, we finally figured out, is to keep reminding yourselves that you’re in it together – a fact that can easily escape your memory when something goes wrong (which it always does) and all you want to do is dropkick your significant other because its obviously his/her fault. Sidenote: I want to be clear here that I have never dropkicked Katie – or anyone, for that matter. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to sometimes.
This time around, when we were prepping for the door project (and before any fists started flying or yelling broke out), Katie and I looked at each other warily – both of us dreading the first passive-aggressive comment (from me) or dirty look (from her) that would inevitably lead to an all-out argument. I don’t know if it was the oppressive heat of that particular day in August or the fact that at that point, we’d been tackling projects nonstop for about two weeks, or maybe some other random factor. But we both were just weary, and I think we could see it in each other’s eyes.
So we were there, getting ready to do this thing. And without any discussion Katie just looked at me and said, “we have to just remember: it’s us versus this fucking door. Not me versus you, or you versus me. Us versus the door.”
And I totally got it. So we started, and within ten minutes hit our first roadblock. And while that usually would have marked the commencement of yelling, instead we both took a step back, muttered “us versus the door” a few times under our breath, and then continued to move forward. Then it happened again, and again – and every time, we just muttered a little to ourselves, looked at each other, and moved forward. Another sidenote: as I write this, I’m slowly realizing just how crazy our neighbors must think we are. Either yelling at each other or muttering to ourselves. We’re that couple. Shit.
But anyway, that’s how the whole project went. There were a few close calls, where we were in what for us were some very tame barely-arguments – you know, some clipped tones and standoffish body language going on. But no yelling. No door slamming (probably because we’d already removed the old door at that point, but whatever). No walkoffs. I hesitate to say that it was awesome, because it was sweaty and tiring and pretty damn hard, but it didn’t suck nearly as much as we thought it would. And then, ten hours later, we were staring at a brand-new, properly installed door. Basically in shock, but nonetheless, there we were.
There were countless high-fives, lots of celebrating, and much beer-drinking. And here’s a direct quote from the girl of my dreams: “We actually fucking did it!” Yeah, she swears a lot. But yes, my love, we actually did.
We’ll be back with the actual details of how it all went down (it was a little complicated, mostly because our front door has a transom like most Baltimore rowhomes), but for now we’re just marinating in our own sense of accomplishment – until then, here’s a sneak peak:
Yup, this was one project that was completely worth it.