Shortest Decade Ever

So here we are…  September 11th.  Again.  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since that awful, awful day. I had gone to the city just 4 days after the attack, but couldn’t stand the feeling of helplessness so I started looking for ways to go back in and help. The Red Cross provided the perfect opportunity.

So in remembrance of 9/11, I thought I would repost my experience from the first time I volunteered at the WTC.

Day At Ground Zero

Go West, Young Woman

I haven’t been much for blogging lately.  In part because I’ve lacked the time.  But on a lazy day like today where the San Francisco fog is ruling the land and I have nothing to do but wait for my car to show up, I thought I’d take a moment to share what’s been happening since Chena and I arrived here last Saturday.

The last few weeks have been some of the craziest I’ve ever known.  From the water heater explosion and subsequent renovations to the movers (who were definitely NOT shakers) who stripped me bare of nearly all my earthly possessions, I have been trying to maintain some semblance of balance.  This has not always been easy, but then I never thought it would be.

Water heater aside, the move has been fairly calm.  Last Saturday I was a little frantic as I did a few last minute things around the house, packed the suitcases, and got loaded into the car that was taking us to Newark.  Chena was checked in (which took awhile) and then we were both off to the City by the Bay.

The arrival at SFO was a little stressful as it took me almost an hour to get the correct answer to the question, “Where do I pick up my dog?”  After about 45 minutes of waiting for her to come out of what turned out to be the wrong location, I was in full-blown panic mode.  I was tired, stressed out, and desperately wanted my dog back.  We finally located her in a separate building that we had to actually drive to quite a distance away from the baggage claim.  I don’t know which one of us was more happy when she was finally brought out in her kennel.

Once in the city at the corporate housing apartment in the so-called “luxury” building, I finally felt able to breathe…despite the cigarette smoke which somehow makes its way in from the apartment next door.  Yuck.

The building itself might be considered luxury, but the oversized hotel room masquerading  as a studio apartment?  Not so much.  The living area is small, the kitchen is dark and unattractive, the TV is old (like 15 years at least), the decor is plain, and then sound proofing is non-existent.  The best thing about it is the bathroom, but since that’s where the cigarette smoke seems to seep in the most, I can’t even get excited about that.  Best thing about being in this building, though, is definitely the rooftop deck (FANTASTIC view – you can see both the Transamerica Building and Coit Tower) and its proximity to my office (I can walk to work in about 10 minutes).

My plan is to enjoy it for what it is (convenient and free) until it’s time to move into my permanent new home on September 1st.

I have a deposit down on an Archstone apartment in San Bruno.  For those of you not familiar with the Bay Area, San Bruno is down the peninsula from San Francisco a couple of miles.  It’s maybe 2 miles from the city limits and roughly 10 miles from my office in the Financial District downtown.  The apartment building I’m moving into is brand new with an in-unit washer/dryer, large bathroom, terrace facing the courtyard, and gorgeous kitchen with granite and high-end appliances…  Basically everything a girl moving 3,000 miles from her newly renovated townhouse could ask for.  Secure garage parking is included, the whole community is dog-friendly and smoke-free, and I’ll be walking distance from the BART (subway) station as well as shopping and restaurants.

The only thing I’m slightly (but only slightly) worried about is how close to the airport the building is.  I’ll be 3 miles away which, while convenient, could also be noisy.  The planes apparently do not fly directly over my side of the building, but they still fly pretty close and may therefore be loud.  However, everyone I’ve spoken to and all of the reviews I’ve read have indicated that this is really not a problem and eventually becomes just background that you get used to (like sirens do to city dwellers, or trains to people who live by a station).  In addition, the building itself was built to originally be sold as condos so the concrete walls and floors provide fantastic soundproofing, both from neighbors and the outside.

I want to go back down there and get some measurements and take some pictures (once I do, I’ll be sure to post them).  My car (which was supposed to show up yesterday) has yet to materialize, but when it does, this will be one of my first objectives.

So that’s really the latest on my new western front…  Chena is adjusting, as am I…  I know it’ll take time to really settle in and feel at home, but we’re off to a good start!

Goodbye, Dear Friend

“The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievablylost.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

It’s been a few days now since cancer took my friend Nancy from this world. I’ve lost people before, but never a close friend and never like this. I haven’t really known what to do with myself… I haven’t wanted to go anywhere or do anything. I haven’t even wanted to talk which is EXTREMELY unusual for me. Aside from immediately after I first got the news, I have barely cried…but I can feel tears lurking just below the surface. I feel slow and heavy. And I loathe cancer.

I think part of me doesn’t believe the loss is real yet. After all, Nancy lived in California so, aside from trips we took together and my visits out to see her or hers to see me, it’s not as if I’m missing a part of my daily routine. But there is still a void.

To know Nancy was to love her. You couldn’t help yourself. She was always so vibrant and full of life and laughter, it was impossible not to enjoy yourself in her company. Our senses of humor played well off each other – in fact, we often said that we were funnier together than each of us was on our own.

I met Nancy on my sailing trip to Thailand in January 2005. We really connected so we stayed in close touch and went on to travel to Peru together. I stayed with her on multiple trips out to the Bay Area, and she stopped by to see me on her way back to the West Coast from her year of travel in Europe.

I have a collection of days in my mind that stand out to me as perfect moments in time. If I could fuse them all together into one single string, it’s amazing how many of them would include Nan.

  • Hours spent talking and drinking gallons of wine on her deck in San Jose, wrapped in blankets late into the night.
  • Countless inside jokes shared in Thailand and Peru.
  • The day we spent sea kayaking in Monterey Bay followed by lunch in Carmel.
  • My first trip to Sonoma with Nan as my tour guide…

The list goes on and on.

As I am now only weeks away from moving to the Bay Area, I was so much looking forward to actually living near her… We both were. When I told her the news, she exploded in laughter and excitement. Knowing that she was battling the return of cancer, I also wanted to be there for her. I believe once I finally am settled there, that’s when I’m going to miss her the most.

Right now I’m fighting through my list of regrets… I wish I had known her longer. I wish I could’ve had more travels with her. I wish I could’ve seen her on my last trip to San Francisco when I was looking for my new home (which was only a couple of weeks ago). I wish I could’ve talked to her in her last days so she could hear me say, “I love you” one last time.

I know I can’t dwell on these things, but it’s hard not to. It’s hard to not think of all the why-didn’t-I’s and the I-should-have’s and remember that I wasn’t ultimately in charge of the way this played out – only God was…and for whatever reason, it ended the way it did for a reason. I wish I knew what that reason was, but I have to be okay with the fact that I may never understand it – at least, not in this lifetime. And that’s where my logic and human reasoning need to end, and faith picks up and carries me the rest of the way to acceptance.

In going back through my emails with Nan, I am glad to see that I rarely ended an interchange without telling her I loved her, so I take comfort in the fact that she knew. She knew how much she meant to me. So although I wish I could’ve said it one more time, at least I know I said it a lot beforehand.

But as much as I have pain and sadness and heaviness that comes with the loss of a friend, I am still grateful to have known her. I will forever be thankful that I got to have had her as a part of my life, and that I had the privilege to have been a part of hers.

So…What’s Next?

So I’m 37 today.  37.  It’s an odd number which I suppose is fitting because 2011 is also an odd number and this is so far turning into an odd year.

For my birthday last year, I was in Seattle.  It was cold and rainy and J and I spent the day hanging out while S, Z, and KJ prepared the most fun evening of good food and fun.  It was a great day.

This year has been a little less exotic…  Yesterday I spent hanging out at my aunt & uncle’s with almost all my cousins, my aunt’s awesome Italian cooking, and topped off with a slice of my favorite triple chocolate cake and a traditional candle blowing ceremony.  Today has been very chill so far with a morning spent on the couch with coffee, TV, and a virtually endless barrage of FB notifications popping up on my phone.  I’ll be going to workout in an hour (where my trainer will likely have the rest of the gym sing to me if he remembers that it’s my birthday).  After which, Alyssa will be meeting me in New Hope for dinner.

While my actual birthday may not be as “exciting” maybe as last year, I’m glad since 2011 has been a whirlwind so far and I’m feeling very much like I need to have a little bit of calm amidst the craziness. January brought the confirmation that my job would be transferring me to our San Francisco office.  February was spent understanding the details of this prospect and getting my house on the market.  Right now I’m in the middle of…

  • Mentally and emotionally prepping myself for the move (which is now less than 12 weeks away)
  • Trying to sell my first home which (and no one could have prepared me for how bittersweet this would be)
  • Organizing my trip to SF in 2 weeks to start looking for my new home
  • Coordinating with movers, real estate agents, human resources, and relocation people on the move itself
  • All the other little odds and ends involved with uprooting my life to repot it 3,000 miles away.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining!  I love change…in fact, I thrive on it.  But change is always difficult, even when it’s good, expected, or sought after.

I’m excited about this move on so many levels and for so many reasons…not the least of which is the excitement of wondering what it is that God has in store for me there because I have complete confidence that (as has been evidenced in the rest of my life) He has things up His sleeve that I would never have imagined for myself.

So here’s to another year down, and many more to go!  I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Where’s the Magic?

I was just watching “The Lake House” and was trying to figure out what it is about that movie that appeals to me so much (aside from the whole chick flick boy-meets-girl romantic aspect of it). I came to the conclusion that it’s the magic. I want so much for crazy, magical things like that to actually happen… For something rare and special to be possible. So much of the time I feel like I watch and listen to everyone else’s stories…how perfect their romances are…how beautifully orchestrated their lives have been, only to feel like my life lacks that same magic.

I’ve had some…awhile ago. In my 20′s I feel like I had a far more mysterious and magical life. I saw possibilities and ran after them. Now I’ve become an “adult” and my existence has turned into something very plain and ordinary. Predictable even. My friends and family have, for the most part, all moved on and opened new chapters of their lives and left me behind. You’ve all found spouses and had children while I’ve done little but stand still and wave as you’ve all paraded past.

I’m not trying to sound bleak or pathetic, I’m just wondering where my adventure has gone.

Life, love, the promise of something new… These things seem out of reach right now. I’m 36 and feel like I’m in a holding pattern of sorts – unable to land, but unable to fly to somewhere else too.

There are certainly good things about my current state, I suppose. I love my house and Chena. I have a good job. I have a lot to be thankful for…but my drivers – the things that always propelled me forward in the past – have seemingly fallen out of reach.

That adventurous me still lives, although it pretty much lies dormant these days. Every so often I feel it rise up in my head and say things like, “So change something! Quit your job…move…find that spirit you once had again!” Then the sensible adult says, “Easy tiger… Wait. Have patience.” But for how long? How long do I have to wait? How long am I going to be able to keep myself content in suburbia? How long will I be able to last on life support?

I hesitate to even share these thoughts…  Most people wouldn’t understand – or they would think I was whining.  I’m not, I swear.  It’s just that sometimes these things weigh more heavily on me than others.

So I guess what I’m really wondering is why am I here? What is God’s plan? What does He want from me and for me? Why am I always on the losing end of love? Why do I think I’m never going to have children? What is the point of it all anyway? Am I doing something wrong? Did I miss the boat in some way?

I know there are no answers and I’m not really expecting any. I just needed to vent, so thanks for listening.