Life Has Been Grand

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I last blogged! I guess life just got away from me these past few months and I didn’t make it a point to slow down and update it.

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For the most part, life has been good. There have been several changes and additions to my life that I feel very comfortable with.

Home Sweet Home

Living with The Teacher, has been amazing so far and we’ve managed to compromise and create routines to keep us both happy and engaged in the experience of sharing a home. For example, we make it a point to have dinner together every night unless one of us is out of town. Regardless of how busy or tired we are, we always sit down over dinner to spend time together. We also make a point to have at least one formal date night (in the sense that we’re specifically going out or staying in with the purpose of spending dedicated and uninterrupted time together)

We have also done well with tending to our “alone time” for hobbies and decompression. With The Teacher, his “alone time” is usually spent playing video/computer games, reading and grading, while mine has been binge watching shows that I know he has no interest in, taking walks and on very rare occasions, writing.

We’ve definitely grown a lot as a couple over the past six months and I look forward to growth continuing.

New Ride

After months…well, YEARS of living in fear of being stranded during my long-ish commutes, I finally bought a new (to me) suv It’s a Candy Apple Red 2017 RAV4 SE with black leather seats and a sunroof. It’s been a pretty fun suv so far and I’ve wanted one for a few years now. I purchased the RAV4 on somewhat of an impulse on a random Monday I took off from work for rest and relaxation. I had been casually researching suvs online and came across the RAV4 in my search. It was reasonably priced and had all the features I was looking for, so I drove 45 minutes out of town to test drive it and ended up buying it. I initially told no one that I bought it until I pulled into the driveway to surprise The Teacher with the news later that afternoon. He was quite surprised, especially since he had been nagging me to buy a new car over the past year.

Mental/Sexual Health

I’ve had some ups and downs over the last few months mental health wise, but I’ve started to pay more attention to my triggers and have found healthier ways to distress (like reading, writing, walking, resting). For instance, I’ve made it a point to take at least 2-3 days off per calendar month and so far, I’ve done well with that promise to myself, which has given me some much needed mental breaks from the chaos that is my job. I try to make it a point to have at least one of the 2-3 days spent doing very little planned activities. I’ve primarily tried to make it a point to stay at home and relax when I can.

My sexual health has been a tad bit better lately as I think my hormones night be trying to settle down (fingers crossed). I still find myself spotting more than I’d like (which is annoying), having the occasional and unexplained mood swings, cramps and occasional breakouts, but I’ve learned to live with them and have adjusted some of my self care routines to address some of the side effects. The peace of mind knowing that the probability of an unplanned pregnancy is highly unlikely, seems to set me straight whenever I get discouraged by the side effects (especially because we weren’t being careful early on). I will say that it worries me a bit that when it comes time to remove the implant (in a little over two years), will I struggle to conceive (should I want to), because I’ll have hit the age of being considered a “geriatric pregnancy” and complications will ensue.

Bonding and Family Acceptance

Over the past six months, I’ve been able to spend more time with getting to know the Teacher’s family. I’ve grown to really like them and from what I can tell, they seem to enjoy my company as well, which is a relief. About a year ago, I was nervously on my way to meet his father for the first time and now we’re on a first name basis. About two weeks ago, we spent the weekend with his mom and I really got to spend a lot of one on one time with her, which was lovely.

The Teacher has also spent more time with my parents and even came with me to a mini family reunion on my mom’s side of the family around The 4th of July. My family was very welcoming to him and he seemed to genuinely have a great time. I know meeting someone’s extended family can be particularly scary, because you really have no way of knowing (or controlling) how they’ll feel about you.

The Future

Lately, we’ve been invited to or involved with numerous milestones from friends. Weddings, Bachelor/Bachelorette Showers, Baby Showers, Engagement Parties, etc. For each milestone, it sort of makes me wonder what reaching those milestones might be like or if it’s too soon for me to even consider thinking about them. There was a time where I couldn’t realistically envision any of those things happening to me, but now they seem somewhat attainable.

Recently, The Teacher has shown a heightened interest in a ring that I wear infrequently on my right ring finger. The ring is silver and a bit on the plain side. Each time I wear it, he’ll comment on it, remove it from my hand and examine it closely. Sometimes he’ll playfully toss it around, which has made me warn him not to lose it. His response, “Well, I’ll buy you (another) one”. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but he rarely shows interest in the other jewelry I wear–even pieces that he’s given me. This also isn’t the first time I’ve worn rings, I’ve worn them here and there since we’ve been together.

Update : My speculations were true! Last night, The Teacher told me that he plans to give me “another kind of ring” around our anniversary (in four months). His reasoning? He says the two year mark seems like the perfect time. He also said he wasn’t really going to keep his plans a surprise much longer because he needs my help on selecting the right ring 💍 .

Welp, hopefully I do a little better about blogging and less time stuck in la-la land.

 

Running on Social Fumes

I’ve always been a naturally introverted person. I get the most peace and satisfaction out of doing quiet “smaller group” activities/hobbies with close friends/loved ones (or even by myself) than I do in mass crowds of people I don’t know very well in loud/chaotic environments that I’m not quite familiar with.

This is not to say that I am not an open-minded person and that I do not try new things/experiences or enjoy meeting new people, I just approach it all a little differently than I think I should. Somewhat cautiously at times.

For instance, I truly believe that I’ve learned in my 30+ years of life that there are two very prominent versions of me (with subcategories of course). I touch on those subcategories here, but in a nutshell, there is the true introverted me and then there is the “pretending to be extroverted” me. I’ve taken the “test” and while I’m fairly close to the center (having both introverted and extroverted qualities), I feel more natural as an introvert and I’m reminded of this in extended situations where I am unable to “recharge” appropriately.

For example, last week I was on a business trip for the entire week attending a conference. Typically when I travel for work I usually build in one “solo day” (usually the day before business or day after business has ended) where I explore whatever city I’m in and gather myself prior to (or after) dealing with an extremely long duration of social interaction. I love this alone time. Doing this usually helps to reprogram my mind so that I appear “put together” and “well rested”. Granted, most of the people who attend the conference I went to last week are colleagues of mine (scattered across the country) in the field that “I know”, but it’s still draining to spend all day networking, collaborating and doing dinner/drinks to chit-chat about our lives outside of the office. I can lay on the charm decently enough I believe, as I’ve spent nearly a decade working on this “skill”.  I laugh and smile constantly, compliment those in my presence, act genuinely concerned or interested in news (both good and bad) they care to share and I always wish them the best with all of their endeavors (and I mostly mean it). On business trips though–unlike an actual 8 hour work day, there is very little “off time”. From sun up to sun down there is consistent interaction and it’s draining. I can usually keep the energized extroverted version of me going for a good little while until I abruptly hit a wall and run out of gas.  I can recall feeling somewhat “energized” earlier in the week and even earlier parts of each day, but towards the end of the week I had very little drive or motivation to be overly friendly and talkative and really just wanted to be alone. It was like the social side of my brain had gone on a hiatus. I remember attempting to have a quiet breakfast in the hotel on my last day of the trip, only to be met one after the other with an eventual table FULL of my colleagues who didn’t want me to have breakfast alone.

But that was the point.

It took me nearly a day after returning home to gather myself enough to jump back into my routine and even in making plans with my boyfriend, I opted for the day after my return and for a quiet evening “in” (as opposed to us “going out”). Luckily my very sweet boyfriend (mostly) understands this and “gets me” as he is also an introverted-at-times-pretending-to-be-extroverted, as well. Having my solo time the day I arrived home and then our lax 1-on-1 time “in” really helped me recharge socially in order to take on my week. It’s like I gained an extra boost of energy…that will later be depleted.

Speaking of the boyfriend and being social, I’m in this continuous cycle of basically meeting everyone in his life (which is very flattering, but at times overwhelming). I’ve met his best friends, his friend-friends, his co-workers, his boss, neighbors, S.O.s of his friends, old friends, new friends, acquaintances… and so on and soon to be his family (this weekend). As I mentioned a few weeks back, we’re heading to his best friend’s wedding (that he’s in) this weekend and because the wedding is in the town he “sort of” grew up in, we’re staying with his family.

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While in the back of my mind I’ve sort of seen this as kinda being a “big deal”, the idea of it all really hit home while at his best friend’s soon-to-be-bride’s impromptu bachelorette gathering (I won’t go into detail about how last-minute and highly unorganized this was and how it almost interfered with our planned night in time). I sat there nursing a beer and chatting with the ladies (you know, “making nice”) because I want to be a good girlfriend and genuinely be warm and friendly to the people in his life. They are all either married, engaged or in longish-term relationships with friends of his.

They talked about the wedding and all of the activities in between and how much fun it will be! And how as a group, we were going to do all of these *really* fun things! All I could think of how the constant “togetherness” of being around all of his friends (and then family during times where we’re NOT doing wedding activities) was going to be exhausting. Like really exhausting. Fun, but the kind of exhaustion that may require some down time when I return home. I thought about how the only “down time” I’d have to really “recharge” would be the drive there and back where we’d have a few hours of just “us” time..but NOPE! Apparently as of today an out-of-town college buddy of his (who I have not met yet)  will be joining us on this journey to the wedding so now even the car ride over and back will involve, “putting on the extroverted charm so that I don’t appear cold or distant”, social interaction.

Jesus lord.

This week I can’t even mentally prepare for all of that togetherness (for this weekend) because he wants me to meet old high school buddies of his that are in town this evening and more co-workers on Wednesday (I feel like when we started dating he didn’t even regularly hangout with THIS many people–wtf) And I can’t say no…what kind of girlfriend would I be (maybe a more socially energized one)?

Through all of this potentially social, stressful and draining hoo-ha, the one silver lining here is something his best friend’s wife told me on Saturday during our “girls afternoon out” that sort of put all of this into perspective:

I’ve never seen — so happy before and I’ve known him and my husband since college. Whenever I’m around you two, you have this really strong connection and I can tell you are both genuinely crazy about each other. It’s sweet. I remember watching the two of you interact a few weeks ago at dinner and it was THE sweetest thing. You guys just “get” each other and it seems like you’ve been together years.

He’s also very protective of his family and even — has only met his dad ONCE (in passing) and they’ve been best friends for like a decade! The fact that he’s intentionally taking you to MEET his family and stay with them is a big deal (to him).

We think the absolute world of you and we’re so happy that you two are together!

No pressure, right?

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I hope this weekend doesn’t turn out like Crazy Rich Asians.

 

(Mis)Budgeting

As an adult in my early 30s (32 to be exact), I realize it has come time for me to take the official plunge into home ownership (kicking and screaming of course). This has been something I’ve been brewing on for at least a year, but I’m admittedly frightened by the entire process and as a result I haven’t quite pulled the hypothetical trigger…until last week.

Found a realtor, Check! Everything else should just fall in place now, right? Nope. Now comes shopping around for home loans, saving money (which I should have been doing longer than four months now), home inspections, builders, fees upon fees, moving expenses and so on. The entire process (now having heard it over a dozen times) causes me a great deal of anxiety.

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Of course the most important part of this equation is careful budgeting so I CAN save enough for a down payment, other fees and closing costs. Seems simple enough right? I’m careful enough with my money, right? Wrong!

During my lunch break today, I printed out my last three months of bank statements and took a fine tooth comb through every swipe I made with my debit card. To add fuel to the fire, I decided to highlight each swipe in a designated color that i assigned to a specific area of spending (ex. “Entertainment”). And yes, my handwriting is atrocious (I was writing quickly since I did this at work).

Budget labels

As I combed through each line item I realized that the majority of the swipes were under the “Entertainment” category. I lump things like movies, dinners out, exhibits, concerts, alcohol, misc, clothing purchases that aren’t for a specific event, unnecessary Amazon shopping, etc. Basically anything that I don’t need that involves fun or indulgence. It was shocking to me to see that I spend about 20% of my paycheck each month on “Entertainment” and about 10%-12% on groceries/household items. Shockingly, I don’t spend as much on gas as I thought. I’m actually doing fairly well in that category considering the fact that I work about 45 minutes away from where I live. Of course, not shocking 60% of my budget goes towards actual bills like rent, car payment, utilities, student loans, medical bills, vet bills, car insurance, credit credit, etc (things that are necessities).

So what does this tell me?? Well, one I’m apparently a social butterfly–but mostly that I need to chill on my spending on social gatherings (even in the realm of my relationship where we “share” the responsibility of treating for dates–we take turns). It seems simple enough to fix this, but will take some serious adjustments. For starters, I could limit eating out to once a week and only go to places with deals. I could also not order alcohol out (because that’s easily $10 a drink in some places) and “brown bag it” during times where friends are preGaming before a night out anyway. I could also shop MORE based on sales/deals, clip coupons (I really hate doing this), use money saving apps, more closely track my spending…maybe even start using cash more so I’m more aware of my spending habits??? I had been meeting with two friends weekly on Sundays to have an open discussion about how shitty we all are at saving money (to hold each other accountable), but I’ve preferred lazily laying in bed on Sunday mornings with my boyfriend (because we’re both lazy) instead (do you blame me?).

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It all seems overwhelming, but not impossible. It will be painful, but it needs to be done to get to where I want to be within the next year. I just need to approach this in a realistic way that will work FOR ME. Maybe I’ll document this very painful process along the way.