Home for Christmas

We’re on our way back to Chicago today, but we’ve been in Minnesota since Sunday celebrating Christmas with our families. It’s been a good week. Here are some highlights:

We learned that the coffee shop where we had our first date is closing at the end of the year. We tried to go to say goodbye, but they were closed until Friday, so we went for a selfie outside.

Outside the Dunn Bros. where we had our first date just over nine years ago

We made the questionable decision to go shopping on Christmas Eve. Found this giant moose made of lights at the mall.

Merry Christmoose!

We celebrated with my partner’s extended family, and his aunt made me a stocking like she’s made for everyone else in the family. His family has always been welcoming, but this was an extra sweet reminder that I belong.

A beautifully cross stitched stocking from my partner’s aunt

We celebrated with my family, and my nephew was very excited to see us. We got many hugs, which were the best presents (which is saying something, because the other presents were also lovely)!

My nephew helped us open the present he gave us.

We had a smaller celebration on Christmas Day with my partner’s immediate family. I made the Yorkshire puddings this year from a recipe by Nancy Birtwhistle of Great British Bake-off fame, and they turned out so great!

Gluten-free Yorkshire puds!

It’s been a lovely week. I’m writing this Christmas night and feeling very loved and content. I do NOT want to go back to work on Friday, but that is what it is.

I hope you’re all having your own lovely winter holiday season, whatever that looks like for you. If you’re not, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that we’re slowly returning to the light now that we’re past the Solstice.

‘Tis the Season

Greetings, readers, from the shiny new Accidental Fudge site! Here’s hoping the links to these posts that populate to Facebook actually work now.

The holidays are upon us. This is, on the one hand, a lovely time of year – it’s festive and there are happy twinkling lights all over my neighborhood and we’re going to take some time off work to go visit family. On the other hand, this is a really challenging time of year – it’s dark around 4pm, my partner’s work is bonkers and leaving him exhausted, and there’s so much pressure to participate in the unfettered commercialism of the season. I feel like I’m never going to have money again.

It’s also the season where we’re all sniffling and pretending we’re not sick, which is a different kind of no fun.

Tonight, I am volunteering at the Old Town School. Tomorrow night, we’re wrapping presents and packing for our trip. Saturday morning, I’ll pick up the rental car, and then when my partner’s done with work, I’ll pick him up and we’ll start driving. I’m a little overwhelmed. It’ll be fun, and whatever we get done, we get done. But it does feel like there’s a lot to do between now and Saturday night.

Next week’s blog may be a little late, as we’ll be on the road on Thursday.

Whatever holiday celebrations you are or are not participating in, I hope your season is filled with love and twinkling lights.

It’s All About Community

Happy Thursday, dear readers! I am getting back into the swing of life after a wild couple of weeks, and I nearly forgot to blog – I keep thinking it’s Friday.

Last week, my partner and I made our way to the Rocky Mountain Song School in Lyons, CO. We got a late start, leaving Chicago for Lincoln, NE around 2:45 Friday afternoon, because we were trying to get the rest of the packing for our move done before we hit the road. We got to our hotel in Lincoln around 1:15am. It made for a short night.

We drove to a friend’s house in Denver the next day. It turned out her roommates were gone, and she was dog-sitting for some other friends, so after we hung out for a while, she left to do that and we had the house to ourselves. It was nice – I was especially exhausted, and was able to crash early.

The next morning, we got breakfast with friends who just moved to Denver from Chicago. It was great to see them, and after we ate we went for a little stroll around the neighborhood to look at street art. Then we drove back to the house, packed up our stuff, and headed up to Lyons. It was a bit rainy on the way there, but thankfully by the time we got there and were setting up, it had stopped.

It was so good to be back at Planet Bluegrass. The details of the individual days are a little muddled in my brain, but it was a great time. Monday I took a couple of classes that involved writing to some prompts, and that generated some ideas that led to me writing a complete set of lyrics to a new song that night. Over the next two days, I worked out music for it (my first attempt was entirely too moody, which I realized after another class), and Wednesday night I got to perform it at the open stage, with eight of my favorite humans, who came up with harmonies literally fifteen minutes before we went on to perform. It was incredible.

Practice

Practicing/learning harmonies 15 minutes before going on stage (Photo Credit: Rah Foard)

Performing

Performing at the open stage (Photo Credit: Rah Foard)

Other highlights of the week:

  • I made it my mission to do new things. I took a bunch of classes that intimidated me, and stayed out of my comfort zone most of the time.
  • I went swimming! It was my first time going shirtless in public (it’s been almost three years since I had top surgery). It felt good.
  • I reconnected with some of my very favorite people. I was surrounded by the most incredible community, and the safety that community created gave me the courage to try new things, take risks, and get out of my comfort zone. I was continuously reminded of how important community is, even to an introvert like me. Life doesn’t happen in isolation.

It’s been a whirlwind since we got back. We got home Saturday evening, and picked my partner’s dad up from Union Station (we borrowed his car for our trip, and so he came down to help us move and to get his car back). Sunday we did a lot of running back and forth between apartments. Monday, I headed off to work, and my partner and his dad coordinated with the movers to get the bulk of our stuff over to the new apartment! At this point, we have I think 99% of our stuff over at the new place, and we’ve been sleeping there all week. It’s a chaos of boxes, but last night my partner got most of the kitchen unpacked (I’m feeling under the weather and crashed early – hoping I can be more useful with the rest of the unpacking), and we HAVE to have everything unpacked by Saturday morning, because that’s when the reusable boxes are being picked back up. So…it’s going to be a bonkers couple of days. But it’s a great new space, and it’s already starting to feel like home.

Move and Vacation

We are inching ever closer to our move date, and the number of packed boxes in our apartment has increased since last week. We’ve been coordinating some maintenance needs with the new landlord so that we don’t need to have them come and fix things when we’re actually there.

We’re down to the wire for packing now, though.

My partner has been in Minnesota for the past few days, hanging out with his parents before borrowing his dad’s car to drive to Song School. He gets back into town this afternoon. We leave for Song School tomorrow.

I am so excited for Song School, for seeing dear friends and digging into the practice of songwriting. I am also worried that I’ll struggle to be present, knowing that we move two days after we get back. I’m hoping I’ll be able to set that aside and fully engage while we’re on this trip.

On that note: there will be no blog next week, as I will be in Colorado and off my phone as much as possible. The next time I write a blog will be from our new apartment!

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere

Moving is a lot of work.

Our reusable moving boxes from Chicago Green Box were delivered on Saturday.

30 big green bins. So far we’ve packed 17.5 of them, and it feels like we’re running out of places to stack the packed ones. We basically have to finish by the end of this weekend, because Monday my partner heads to Minnesota to hang out with his family for a few days before we borrow their car for our trip to Colorado, and I’m hoping to not have to pack too much on my own.

It feels like we have so much to do before we leave for Colorado next Friday. I believe we can do it, but it’s going to be a challenge.

I am excited for Song School, though. Looking forward to seeing friends and filling my brain with the wisdom of other songwriters. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in my own songwriting lately, so I’m hoping this helps to shake some things loose.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind week.

Friday night after work we made our way to the airport, where we caught a flight (complete with hilariously punchy flight crew – well done, Southwest) to Minnesota to celebrate my partner’s mom’s retirement.

Saturday was the party, and we also ended up seeing a friend for a bit that evening. Both were fun!

Sunday morning we got breakfast with my bestie, who I’m pretty sure we hadn’t seen since Christmas, so that was delightful. That afternoon we got lunch with my parents, which also went well.

Monday morning we stopped at a favorite coffee shop for coffee and pastries before heading to the airport to fly home. That flight was less fun – the crew was still great, but there was a fair bit of turbulence on either end of the trip.

Tuesday I worked from home, because I needed some space to recover from our trip. Yesterday I had to rent a car to drive out to Lisle, IL for a day-long meeting. And this morning, I returned the car and am now on my way to work.

The rest of the week also looks pretty busy. Tonight I’m volunteering at the Old Town School. Tomorrow after work and all day Saturday we’re planning to do some major sorting and purging of stuff in anticipation of our move in August. Sunday we have separate plans for social things in the morning/afternoon, and then we’re seeing a show together that evening.

All good things, but it does feel like a lot right now.

What do you have going on this week, readers? I’d love to hear from you!

Home Again, Home Again

Happy Thursday, dear readers!

I mentioned last week that I was getting ready to go on my first ever work trip. I got home from DC yesterday afternoon. It was a good trip overall, if not exactly what I expected/intended it to be. Here are some highlights:

  • I got to see our colleague who moved to Israel 3.5 years ago, who I’m always emailing/Skyping but who I hadn’t seen in person since she moved. It was great to catch up and hang out.
  • I learned things that I think will ultimately help me do my job better. Some of the sessions I went to went way over my head, but even those at least gave me things to look up once I get settled back at the office.
  • I got to meet up with my friend Heather Mae, who is one of the most genuinely kind people I have the pleasure of knowing (and also happens to be one of my favorite musicians). Taking an hour to grab coffee with her made my week. We have brains that operate in similar ways (#BipolarAdventures), and it’s always nice to be able to talk to someone who just gets it.
  • I did NOT do the networking I had planned to do. This had a lot to do with the fact that I’m just not great at networking, and because our 1800+ person conference (which was not the only large conference happening at the convention center) was a bit overwhelming for this socially anxious introvert. But I did think of things I can do better next time, and I have ideas of where to follow up on things from home.
  • I walked about 5 miles a day, most of them without even leaving the building where the conference was held. It was a lot.
  • I successfully got through airport security both ways without setting off any machines! I think that’s a first. (Usually if I have good luck on one leg of the journey, I won’t on the other. Or I set off all the machines. Body scanners are gender binarist bullshit.)

I’m on my way into the office now. I desperately wanted to work from home today, but I think my office mate would kill me if I left her alone for another day, so here we are. I’m exhausted, but still generally feeling good about the trip. As much as I enjoy traveling, I’m very ready to get settled back into my routine at home.

Adventures

Hello, dear readers! How on earth is it Thursday already? (At the same time: how is it only Thursday?) I am in that weird space where my body is exhausted but my brain is manic. #BipolarAdventures

It’s been a pretty good week. Here are some highlights:

  • On Sunday, a friend came over for breakfast so we could celebrate the fact that she finished grad school. (She graduates today!) I love the fact that we’ve cultivated this friendship that largely revolves around weekend breakfast/brunch and good conversation.
  • Monday night, my partner and I each played a set at the Acoustic Explosion (where six performers play 25 minute sets every Monday night). Both of our sets went well, and despite the nerves, we had fun.
  • This week at work has been busy, because I’m trying to wrap up some projects before I go on my first ever work trip next week. Sunday I’m flying to DC for the national conference for the company that makes our client database (which is what I manage at work). I’m not going to have time for sight-seeing, unfortunately, but I’m hoping I’ll get to connect with a friend or two. I’m also hoping for some good networking opportunities at the conference. I haven’t been to DC since I was in high school!

Trying

Readers, it’s been a week. I’m wrestling with some sort of upper-respiratory nonsense that I hoped was just allergies but that kept me home with a fever yesterday. I feel pretty gross, and I’m really glad I had a doctor appointment scheduled for today anyway.

But let’s take a step back. I want to tell you about my weekend, when I did not feel like my head was trying to explode.

Friday night, I picked up a rental car. Saturday morning, I got up early, packed my knitting and some snacks, and hit the road to go visit my grandmother in northeast Iowa. I had not seen my grandmother in almost seven years, though we’ve been writing occasional letters back and forth for a year or so. In her last couple of letters, she expressed a desire to sit down and talk with me in person. About a month ago, when I got her last letter, I contacted her and said I would like to come for a visit, and we agreed on this past Saturday as a date.

I started on testosterone five and a half years ago, so a few things had changed since we last saw each other. I had sent her a picture of me a few months ago, so my appearance wouldn’t come as a total shock.

I really had no idea what to expect from this visit going in, but overall it went better than I could have hoped. She greeted me with a hug. We went out to lunch and she caught me up on all the latest family news. When we went back to her apartment, the talk turned more serious – she had a lot of questions about my life, and I tried to answer them honestly. I learned that her little Baptist church had recently done a study on LGBTQ issues, because their pastor recognized that we’re not going away and felt the church should decide how they were going to respond. (She sent the books they studied home with me – I haven’t read them yet, but I do want to know where she’s coming from.)

The big takeaway of the visit was that we love each other and we do want to be in each other’s lives. It was a very long day (ten total hours of driving, plus the four hour visit), but worth it. We’ll see where we go from here!

Happy Holidays!

Somehow, we’re suddenly less than a week from Christmas and less than two weeks from the end of the year. I’m a bit in disbelief. In some ways, this felt like a very long year. In others, it flew by.

I’m going to save my reflections on 2018 for the next post, though.

This week, I want to talk about what I’m looking forward to in these last couple of weeks of 2018.

  • Road trip: Since it looks, at this point, like the weather is going to cooperate for our trip, I am looking forward to the drive. My partner and I enjoy road trips. We don’t own a car, so it’s always an interesting change of pace.
  • Family: I am looking forward to seeing both my partner’s family and mine, even if family events around holidays sometimes feel daunting. We don’t see our families all that often these days, so the chance to get together is great.
  • Friends: We’re scaling way back on social commitments for this trip, but I am extremely excited to see the couple of people we were able to work into the schedule.
  • Time off from work: Work has actually been pretty okay lately, but I’m excited to have some time away from the office.
  • Lights: There’s not going to be snow on the ground for Christmas, but my favorite part of the season is the lights everywhere, at this darkest time of year.

I am not sure if I’ll be posting anything next week – we will be traveling home next Thursday. May you and yours have a merry end to the year, and may we all find some light in the midst of the darkness.