Brother Mitch is HOME!

Brother Mitch is HOME!

Unless you never read a thing that I post on Facebook and Twitter, by now you know that my brother Mitch is back in Iowa after being deployed with the U.S. Navy. I went ten months without seeing my baby brother. And I was not alone. His friends and our family, as well as his girlfriend, endured the same length of time without seeing Mitch in person.

baby4A lot can happen in ten months:

  1. My sister Sarah became pregnant with baby number four.
  2. Our dad retired from his sales and marketing job of 19 years.
  3. I crossed off a bucket list item when I appeared on the Today Show on Caucus Day.
  4. Nephew Gabriel and Niece Lucy completed another year of school.
  5. Gabriel, Lucy, and and Niece Amelia all grew a ton. I feel like they grow too much when I haven’t seen them in a couple of weeks. I can’t imagine how different they are after ten months!
  6. Numerous terror attacks took place across the globe.
  7. Iranians fired missiles at my brother’s carrier.
  8. My brother’s carrier was featured on CNN for setting a record number of bombs launched against ISIS.
  9. Mitch’s deployment was extended by one month.
  10. As if I wasn’t emotional enough in my normal state, I now get teary eyed around anything patriotic, having to do with the armed forces, etc.

Mitch Navy ProfileMitch shared some amazing photos and videos with us during this past week. The views were breath taking, and the sleeping quarters were insanely small. They provided a unique glimpse into my brother’s new life as a sailor.

Hannah MitchWe only have a few more days with brother Mitch before he goes back to base. This time he is taking a piece of home with him though – girlfriend Hannah. So, while this big sister is fighting back tears, I will be so excited for the new adventure ahead for the two of them together.

troopsThank you SO MUCH to everyone who has offered words of encouragement, given hugs, and simply let me babble (happy babble, interchanged with the-world-is-going-to-end babble) on and on and on and on. We know there will be another deployment, and I will always need my tribe to talk me off the ledge and then hand me a glass of wine.

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Where Am I?

Registering Smurfette, my 2004 blue Cavalier, to drive in Polk County was one of the few remaining moving items I was continually putting off until the next day. I just needed the renewal tags, so I technically could have gone through Scott County online, but I want everything to be up to date and moving headaches over.

And I waited until the last possible moment, as my renewal enforcement deadline is April 1st. My initial plan was to do it this morning bright and early. Yeah, that turned into arriving at the Polk County admin building at around 1:00 p.m. However, I was double ready, as I had my screwdriver ready to put on new license plates. Time to shed the Cedar County plates of old.

My number was called within 10 minutes! Amazing! The lady whose name I did not catch then had trouble finding my new address. “I am east of I-35,” I thought, “so this should not be difficult.” (Note to those not familiar with Des Moines area geography: West of I-35 is the more newly developed part of Polk County, and Polk County quickly runs into Dallas County on the west end.)

The Polk County treasurer’s office lady then told me that I actually live in Dallas County. “Are you sure?” I very politely asked. “Yes, you need to go to Adel to get your car registered in Dallas County,” she said. To her credit, she was nice about it and told me it does get confusing to determine which county one is in when residing in certain areas of West Des Moines.

So I trekked westward 30 minutes to Adel, Iowa. This is pronounced ay-DELL. Siri preferred to pronounce it ADD-uhl. At least I found a little humor in that. I sure felt silly, not even knowing my own county of residence. Good thing this happened before Election Day, so I would not be confused my my ballot. And speaking of politics, this would be a useful county to be in because we are trying to get a Dallas County Republican Women group going. If I lived in Dallas County, I could be a charter member! Also, I liked the thought of having license plates that said “Dallas,” one of my favorite television shows growing up.

I felt a bit deflated after checking online for the address (no easy feat to begin with), finding the address to be the court house, and then having to go across the street to the new location of the Dallas County treasurer’s office. (Update your websites people!) On the up side, I met a friendly person while walking down the street and told her my amusing story. My sister was the only other person who knew of my Polk County error at this point, and she swiftly pointed out to me that the ordeal would make for a great blog post. Little did she know……

I gave my information to a friendly face in the Dallas County treasurer’s office, and she laughed a bit. Well, that was not a very good sign. She told me I did live in Polk County, had me verify my location of residence in a map, and then sweetly explained that she would be happy to renew my registration then and there and just switch it over to Polk County after I paid. Now I really wished I lived in Dallas County. Polk County government workers can’t even figure out who lives in Polk County! I wanted this lady to be my person forever. She was awesome. Maybe I should recruit her to come work at optical.

So, I did not get my new license plates. And now I do not want license plates that say “Polk” on them. I think I will order some signature Simpson College license plates instead. I was also contemplating updating my drivers’ license before it is due, just to get the address and everything updated. I doubt if the photo can get any worse, but you never know. After all of the vehicle registration drama, I was over it though. That will have to wait for another day.

So I called my sister again, as she refers to ever-so-nicely in her own blog post. Good thing this was her day at home with the kiddos so I had someone to give an instant play-by-play to. 😉 And Sarah is a great listener and cheerleader for me. I think she may have even been more annoyed by the situation than I was. Haha.

At the end of the day, I learned you really have to prepare yourself for anything at any time. You just never know when you will be sent on a mini road trip to discover where you live.

Moving to the 50266

I survived yet another move!

The process of moving can be quite deceptive with moments of “this is going to be easy,” to “oh my God, what am I doing,” to “no looking back now!” I can honestly say I made the right decision with moving to West Des Moines. And I can honestly say I went through all of these moments repeatedly.

When I decided to transfer from the Davenport Target Optical store to the Urbandale and Des Moines area Target Optical stores, my new boss and old boss (the stores are in different regions, of course!) made our initial conversations very painless. “this is going to be easy”

Then, while I had my store staffed and my replacement identified and recommended, the process seemed to take forever to finalize. “no looking back now!”

Upon departing Urbandale after my day of apartment shopping with my mom, I encountered the worst driving conditions of the season and was shocked to hear AM radio declare that an ex boyfriend decided to run for Congress in the area I was planning to move to. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Side Note: No ex drama, wish him the best. These things just make one pause and look upward to the skies and say, “What are you trying to tell me?” Same with the blizzard. Why during that day at that time? Lord only knows.

My family jumped on board immediately to offer help with packing, loading, unloading, etc. “this is going to be easy”

Multiple Quad Citians showed their love toward me. They say everyone loves you when you are leaving. 😉 Seriously, I do appreciate their sincerity. “no looking back now!”

The money crunch of moving always stresses one out. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Navigated the roads of Polk County like a pro (and west of I-35 like a semi-pro). “this is going to be easy”

Felt like a complete newbie as I adapted to various stores’ unique processes. “too late to look back now!”

Upon a return trip to my parents’ place in Durant, unsuccessfully attempted to bring back four of my five plants. I guess that two hour stop and leaving them to freeze in my car in sub zero temps did it. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Transferred my Junior League membership to Des Moines. Feeling like a nerdy junior high girl as I prepare to attend my first event here. “no looking back now!”

Felt at home in my new place as soon as I moved in. “this is going to be easy”

If you want to test your will, patience, and self confidence, I suggest picking up and moving to a new area. Nothing builds character like a good move.

Downtown Davenport Adventures: One Year

One year ago today, I moved into my apartment in Downtown Davenport.  The saying is very cliche but true: “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

While I have some Downtown Davenport Adventures yet to post from this past year (my blog has suffered as my life has become increasingly busier), I have quite a few posts that explore the range of experiences that come with living downtown in a small city.

I’ve endured an early morning fire alarm as well as a semi-disastrous impromptu walk along the river.  I’ve enjoyed River Roots Live and BixBrai 2011.  I’ve made comparisons between this home and my last home.

Aside from the collection of narratives, the thing that strikes me the most about living downtown is something that strikes me with all good changes I have made in my life thus far.  I feel as though I have been here for much longer than one year.  After the initial adrenaline rush, it feels comfortable.

I thrive on change, and every change is a little bit different, except for those really positive changes I make.  Moving to Downtown Davenport was one of those positive changes.  Others that rank right up there are choosing Simpson College, diving into my first paid political job, moving across the country and then back again, and giving a boy or two the boot when it was time to cut my losses.

Will I live in Downtown Davenport forever?  I am 90% sure I will not.  That’s the fun part of life: being open to change.  After all, change led me here.  I may be here another year or another ten years.  Regardless, I will have a lot more adventures to share.

Main Street Davenport vs. Main Street Durant

Day 9 in my new digs at 324 North Main Street in Davenport, and I can’t help but compare and mostly contrast my new surroundings with the old.

I’m taking on a Letterman format with this one.

Top Ten Differences between Main Street Davenport and Main Street Durant, Iowa:

10.  On Main Street Davenport, I can open my windows.

On Main Street Durant, I could only open two of my twenty windows because they were either painted shut or too broken to open without losing the entire thing.

9.  On Main Street Davenport, I am within walking distance of the Figge, Redstone Room, restaurants, library, St. Anthony’s church, and a tattoo shop.

On Main Street Durant, I was within walking distance to nearly everything in town, with the hot spots being the Dew Drop, Westfair Drug, Jeff’s Market, and the American Legion.

8.  On Main Street Davenport, my apartment is small and cozy.

On Main Street Durant, my apartment was large and cozy.

7.  On Main Street Davenport, I am greeted by lots of people on the way to my car in the morning – apartment staff, the deli guys, a random homeless person, and a new person who wants to chat.

On Main Street Durant, I was greeted by people honking their horns thinking I noticed who was driving by.

6.  On Main Street Davenport, my new apartment was spotless when I moved in.

On Main Street Durant, I had to clean my apartment multiple times before it was suitable to live in.

5.  On Main Street Davenport, everyone seems to want to swing by and say hi.

On Main Street Durant, only friendly stalkers would want to swing by and say hi.  Everyone else would say, “Where’s Durant?”

4.  On Main Street Davenport, I hear random city noises, but the inside of the building is relatively quiet.

On Main Street Durant, no city noises existed.  I’d hear the occasional fire truck since the station was across the street, along with a teeny bopper squealing tires.  Inside, I could hear downstairs neighbor Kathy yelling at her grandson, arguing with her daughter, or talking to her dead husband.

3.  On Main Street Davenport, I say hi to the property owner in the hallway and the next day I have a discount on my rent.

On Main Street Durant, my landlord only visited the property when something had been broken and I repeatedly called to have it fixed.  And then I had to fight just to get my deposit back.

2.  On Main Street Davenport, I have some anonymity.

On Main Street Durant, everyone was watching.

1.  On Main Street Davenport, I feel at home.

On Main Street Durant, I felt at home for almost four years.

Camping Out in My Old Living Room

I wrote this on Saturday evening, February 12, 2011:

Silence – except for the humming of the old refrigerator.  I savor my glass of Yellow Tail Shiraz and Cadbury egg.  I watch Jag nose his way under the sleeping bag.

Then I become annoyed.  My wireless signal is weak.  No internet.  Am inspired to blog but now must physically write my thoughts in my notebook.

I moved today.  Finally.  From decision time to moving day was only 16 days, but that 16 days took forever.  And then it was almost here and I was scurrying to have everything packed by this morning at 9:00 a.m.

My official paying and move in date is in three days, so now I wait some more.  I’ve had my keys for nine days now.  Susan said to start moving in whenever I wanted to start.  So I took a couple of car loads earlier this week.  I don’t want to abuse my privilege and stay overnight there until the 15th though.  I prefer to pay courtesy with integrity and respect.

I am so excited!  The building is older, nothing too fancy.  But it is cute and downtown.  I feel life there.  One only has to look out from my top floor corner windows to see something happening.

Downtown Davenport

And then I return to my 99% empty apartment here.  I moved my TV with the 99% – figured it would be good to go without it for three nights.  But it’s weird not having the noise.  I won’t be home very early during these last nights here, but I like the late night re-run sitcom TV.  I am doing without it tonight.

I am camping out indoors.  My suitcase, sleeping bag, and netbook are within reach.  One final car load, after some final cleaning, and this home will be history.

I will read my Time magazine and go to bed.  I am physically exhausted even though I didn’t do any heavy lifting today.  Four adults and a toddler helped.  Many hands make for a smooth move, especially when they belong to my fabulous friends and family.

Now the process of unpacking begins.  Of course, I started that today also.  Old things seem new in a different place.  I guess the same applies to me.

From Small Town Mouse to Small City Mouse

Things have been a bit crazy since I last posted.  ‘Tis the season for filing taxes, assembling the annual Scott County Republican Women‘s directory, assembling packets for Gloria Dei’s annual meeting, and taking on new things every day.  The latest new item is moving from Durant to Davenport.

I received a certified letter from my landlord on the last Tuesday in January, notifying me that my rent was increasing by about 30% a month, effective March 1.  My heart sank.  What timing.  I’m totally finding my groove with my semi-hippie lifestyle (sans hallucinogens), and that is when he decides to raise my rent for the first time in almost four years.  True, my rent was cheap to begin with.  But in exchange for that, I accept that my landlord does not do snow removal and also slowly responds to maintenance requests (even when it’s an urgent thing like not having water).  However, raising my rent and having to deal with those slum-lord-ish issues is not acceptable.

I allowed myself to be angry for about ten minutes before I went into action mode.  Anyone who has talked to me about housing during the past four years knows I have continually planned to move to the Quad Cities, only to put it off for another few months or another year.  Now I had my sign.  It was time to do it once and for all.

I’ve had my eye on The Davenport apartment building since doing some work for Landmark Properties as a Victory Enterprises consultant in late 2009.  I called them up, and they had two open apartments.  I looked and fell in love.  Then I crunched the numbers.  With the Durant rent increase, it would cost the same to live in either place.  Within two days of receiving the terrible rent increase letter, I had sealed the deal on a new place and literally opened a new door in my journey.

I am more city girl than country girl, but I’ve been living in a town without a stop light for nearly four years.  How does that happen?  Convenience and cheap rent.  It was easy to move my furniture in storage only four blocks down the road, especially after having hauled it across the country from Houston.  It was easy to commit to cheap rent and no lease.  And it was easy to be in close (lately too close) proximity to family after missing them for so long.

While Davenport is no Houston, it offers just enough city life to get me excited.  I will be within short walking distance of the Mississippi River, Rhythm City Casino, RME, Figge, and various restaurants.  And days after my decision was made, I found out RAGBRAI would be ending on Bix weekend, with everyone celebrating in adjoining streets to my new place.  I’ve found a place to belong!

Durant isn’t bad – it just isn’t me.  I have been able to live here only because I didn’t grow up in this small town.  No one really knows me, and I don’t socialize much here.  It’s my bedroom community.  Working at the church has introduced me to more people, but even that becomes suffocating when people comment on what they saw me doing outside of my car that morning, whether it was checking oil, scraping car windows, or looking ridiculous hauling too much in one trip between my car and apartment.

Moving is a great chance to reflect on a segment of life in one residence, while looking forward to a new start in a new place.  Whether it is moving across town, to a nearby town, or across the country, the act itself can be therapeutic.  I think back to where I was when I moved into this apartment in March 2007 and marvel at all that has happened in life since then.  I recall hosting a bachelorette party here and naming the various rooms “Powder Room”, “Ladies’ Lair”, and “Diva’s Den”.  I think about seeing this place trashed when I moved in and gradually transforming it into a cute place, with help from a little carpet shampooing, paint, and friends and family.

And now I have the opportunity to create new memories in a sixth floor downtown apartment.  I can’t wait to be a small city mouse and have new places to explore and people to meet.  I have splendid visions of my new artsy-fartsy decor, as well as not having to shovel myself out of my apartment in the foreseeable future.

snowed in