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Archive for February, 2013

Waiting

Life is in a strange place right now. I feel like I’m just waiting.

Waiting for spring, waiting for more people to come visit, waiting to buy a house, waiting to find a church, waiting for sequester, waiting for other personal things.

As my friend, who is in a remarkably similar place in her life, so eloquently put it in her blog yesterday, this is like a time of Sabbath in our lives. With less going on, it’s a time to sit back, rest, and think about what the future might look like and to prepare for days ahead. I feel like I’m recharging a bit, which hopefully means I will be rested and ready for the next season in life.

That doesn’t mean that waiting is always easy. I sometimes get antsy or bored or even annoyed. I complain about being cold or finding bugs in our rental or not having friends or not having found a church yet. I’m learning to appreciate the opportunity to rest, but I’m getting a little restless.

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Goal of the Week

While chronicling my journey to graduation on my previous blog, A Light At the End of the Fiber, a new institution began to develop in my weekly routine. While a chronic list-maker, I never seriously set any kinds of goals for myself in order to accomplish things I knew I needed or wanted to do. While tackling a huge project such as finishing a PhD program, it became evident that shorter-term, definitive goals were key to staying the course and keeping on track with progress.

Not only did this short-term goal-setting work for my academic pursuits, I naturally found it relevant in my personal life as well. Ultimately, I found myself implementing two regular short-term goal systems in my life. One was a monthly challenge for projects on a longer scale. The cornerstone of my goal-setting, however, was the Goal of the Week. Each week I would determine to accomplish one thing on my to-do list that just wasn’t getting done on its own. That way I had a definitive goal to accomplish, plus a bit of accountability to my blog readers on actually getting it done.

Now that we’re fairly settled into our new life and new routine, I’ve decided that I could use a little extra kick in the pants to finish a few lingering things on my to-do list. This sounds like the perfect time to resurrect the Goal of the Week.

For this upcoming week at the Taylor house, I actually have two goals. The first is to put a couple of items up on EBay that we’ve been putting off since Christmas. It’s time to just get that done. Secondly, I’ve slacked a bit on keeping in touch with people, probably since I’ve been actually talking to a few friends in person lately. However, I still have plenty of friends who haven’t been here to visit; I miss them and have determined to drop them a line this week.

Those are my goals for this week, and I’m excited to get those checked off the list! And since a new month is coming up quickly, it sounds like a perfect time to tackle a monthly challenge. I’ll be thinking of projects on the appropriate timescale that are relevant to life at the moment. Stay tuned for updates!

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The chapter closes

Today, the current chapter in our ongoing dining table saga has closed.

After nearly two months of waiting patiently, we finally got the dining room chairs we ordered from West Elm around New Years. We got the actual table a few weeks later when it came in to our local store but have been lacking the seating. This hasn’t been too urgent since Bart and I could use the wooden bench my dad made for us, but it’s been a little inconvenient with so many guests recently.

So finally, after much waiting and ado, I present our new dining ensemble:

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Shiny!

Such a complete ensemble deserved a yummy meal to go on top of it, so tonight I attempted my second Indian meal ever, chana masala, a chickpea stew. I based my meal on the two recipes here and here. It turned out quite spicy, and while not exactly the same as you might get at an authentic restaurant, our thoroughly Western home smelled sufficiently Indian, and we both enjoyed it. However, I still miss the Indian buffet with my friend Archita back in Boulder! We also need to reciprocate a visit with Laura and Sujit soon, and I suspect I could probably convince them to make us something yummy and authentic. 😉

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Today was Presidents Day, meaning I enjoyed an extra day off this weekend. This is also one of the few minor Federal holidays that Bart also gets off from his work. We had all kinds of plans to enjoy the long weekend together, but those immediately got derailed about 15 minutes before Bart’s normal quitting time. A computer emergency cropped up at his work, so he put in another full day’s work before crashing late that night and another more than half day on Saturday before they got far enough to call it quits.

Originally, we had planned to finally go to the International Spy Museum in downtown DC on Saturday morning, something we’ve had on our list for a while. With the unexpected turn of events, that ultimately didn’t happen. However, while Bart was working, I ran a few errands in town and got caught up on some chores around the house (I even dusted…I hope you were sitting down for that revelation). When he finished, we spent a nice, relaxing evening at home while Bart unwound.

Our Sunday plan was still on, though–we had yet another friend come to visit! Just call us Hotel Taylor, evidently. Bart used to work with Aaron in Colorado until he decided to move back to upstate New York over a year ago. We’ve kept in touch, and since he was in DC for a conference this weekend, he called us up to hang out before he had to return home.

We were scheduled to pick him up in the Capitol Hill area after his conference ended Sunday afternoon. Just as we pulled off the highway into downtown and were stopped at a light, we saw him walking across the street right in front of us. Our timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. However, Aaron–unaccustomed to having people honk at him in traffic–didn’t see us when we tried to get his attention. We called him up and told him we were close, and he hung tight at a neighboring intersection while we tried to figure out how to reach him just a block away. Such a seemingly simple task nearly took, well, an act of Congress. We had never been in this area of town before, and we are not accustomed to driving in District traffic on a busy Sunday. However, we finally managed to make a left turn, backtrack through Chinatown, and pick Aaron up before making our escape from downtown.

We got to hang out Sunday evening and Monday morning before returning him to the train station for his trip home. In fact, since Union Station was only a few blocks from the Spy Museum and it opened early for the holiday, all three of us were actually able to go check it out before he headed home. So, while we didn’t get to do it on Saturday as planned, Bart and I still managed to make it happen this weekend after all, and with the pleasure of more good company.

Bart and I topped our weekend off with a fun meal. We tried our hand at crepes, another meal we experienced and enjoyed in France. We made savory crepes with a meaty filling and topped it off with a simple fruit and yogurt crepe. I regret that forgot to take any pictures of our delicious dessert; fortunately, there are leftovers, so I’ll probably get a second chance to share. I’m not exactly a food blogger here, but evidently I take great pleasure in sharing my food experiments with you. 😉

So, while initially derailed, we got our long weekend back on track. Not only did we hit a fun activity on our list, we also got to visit with yet another friend. Despite the traffic, it’s just another perk of living in the DC area.

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Three months

Today marks three months–three months–since Bart and I arrived at our new doorstep in Maryland. It’s hard to believe that’s one quarter of an entire year instead of just a few weeks, but as I get older it’s my observation that time moves both more quickly and more slowly all at once. In some ways we feel established, yet in many ways we still feel unsettled. It’s hard to say when or if one wakes up some morning to realize that one is finally settled and adjusted, but I assume it will come eventually.

Likewise, I’ve been at my job just short of three months. Today, my boss said that my name came up when he was talking to the new scientific director, who is a current employee filling in for the one who retired just before Christmas. He didn’t know who I was because we haven’t met yet, so my boss said I should go over and say hi sometime. For a workplace with a smaller number of employees, it’s still easy to miss people since we are spread over a number of buildings on a rather large campus. And since the turnover rate is quite low, one can be the “new kid” for a while. Despite that, I’m slowly feeling less new as far as my position goes; I have more stuff to do and know more about the workings of the group. However, due to the incredibly technical nature of research, I still often have more questions than answers. This will be another slow adjustment; I presume I will also wake up one day and realize that I am finally familiar and fluent with all our projects. It will also help when new projects start and I am involved with those from the beginning.

Month three brought some significant first-time accomplishments, but there are still always things to do around here.

Things we have done:

  • Had two sets of house visitors!
  • Crossed the Mason-Dixon line (twice)
  • Learned about the Mason-Dixon line
  • Finally closed our old bank accounts
  • Finally got new tires and an oil change
  • Finally finished the Wheel of Time book series
  • Acquired metro passes
  • Made it from our house to I-495 and I-270 without Google Maps
  • Started completely over again on our church search
  • Visited the Korean market in Rockville
  • Walked around Baltimore
  • Celebrated our eight year engagement anniversary (as of yesterday!)

Things we still haven’t done:

  • Spend time at national monuments, buildings, and museums (just a few minutes here and there so far)
  • Find a church
  • Make local friends
  • Find a decent Mexican restaurant
  • Receive our dining chairs from West Elm
  • Host a guest from either of our families
  • Call the home warranty place about our leaky fridge
  • Get an emissions test for my car
  • Catch the Bond villains exhibit at the Spy Museum
  • Use our metro passes
  • Visit a Civil War site
  • See the state capital building
  • Remember capital vs. capitol (we looked it up, but I keep forgetting)
  • Yardwork

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Blasts from our pasts

In the last two weeks, the Taylors have been inundated with some of our best and dearest friends from our past. After nearly three months of being a bit alone in these parts, being on the east coast is starting to pay off.

Two weekends ago, we hosted two of our good friends for an evening–our first house visitors ever here! I’ve known both Kenda and Nathan since I was a kid, and it was through me they met each other in college and began dating and eventually married. They’ve been living in Georgia for a number of years now, but Nathan just got transferred to Maine…quite a transition, especially at this time of year! We could definitely sympathize with their significant move. Since their route conveniently took them through Washington, DC, we were excited to have them stop over on their way.

We had a great time hanging out on Saturday night, going out to dinner in a neat place in town and chilling at our house. Their cats Sam and Frodo, however, were less impressed with the long-distance move and spent the entire visit under the spare bed. On Sunday morning, we drove downtown to do some sight-seeing. For what it’s worth, early Sunday mornings are a pretty good time to visit the National Mall; parking is free and available, and there aren’t too many people around. Granted, it was kind of cold on an early winter morning, but we still had a good time. We had a wonderful visit with each other, but we were evidently not smart enough to take a picture of all of us together. Oops! So Kenda and Nathan, we owe you a trip to Maine this summer or fall to get that group photo.

This weekend, we had another set of house guests…my best friend from college, Laura, and her husband Sujit. They also live in Raleigh, which is by far the closest we’ve lived to each other since we graduated college. Since Laura and I were both busy with various advanced degrees, we haven’t seen each other a lot in the last eight years, but now that we live on the same coast, we will actually be able to see each other now! Unfortunately, they weren’t in town when we visited at Christmas, but they were free this weekend and made the trip up with their dog, Trina (she enjoyed her visit much more than Sam and Frodo!).

We spent a lot of time just hanging out and relaxing at our house, but we did take a trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Saturday morning. It was a little chilly walking around the water (I’m seeing a pattern, here), but we survived by ducking into the lobby of the science museum to thaw for a few minutes. We topped off our sightseeing with a delicious lunch at Cheesecake Factory.

Baltimore Inner Harbor

Baltimore Inner Harbor

I learned my lesson, and we managed to snag a group picture in front of the USS Torsk submarine.

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We all stand by a harbor submarine

Visiting with old friends–and the prospect of getting to see them more often–has become a great perk of living here. Not only do some of them live closer, but more people have business in this area and come through. In fact, we have yet another friend who will be in town next weekend and is coming to visit us, and Bart’s mom will be in the area for a conference in a couple of months and will be able to spend the weekend with us.

Not only are we enjoying visitors around here, but it seems like our weekends are starting to fill up with activities and plans. I expected that we’d start doing more when the weather warmed up, but our spring fever seems to be starting early. I don’t mind at all; it beats hibernating at home and being tired and bored and a little lonely. Bring on spring, and bring on friends!

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This Saturday, Bart and I decided to drive to Delaware for the day. Just because we can.

The Delaware border is less than two hours away from us, and since it’s a small state, we decided that it would the appropriate scope for a day trip that would knock another new state off our map. We didn’t really know what to do in Delaware, though, so we did a little investigating about the state beforehand. We found that, well, there isn’t just a ton to do in Delaware. However, we found a few interesting things to see.

We started by making our first trip to (or, rather, near) Annapolis and crossing the Bay Bridge over the Chesapeake. All these crazy long bridges over water on the east coast are fascinating and just a tiny bit terrifying to me. It was a point of interest all its own.

Annapolis Bay Bridge

From there, we drove across the farms of the Maryland and Delaware countryside over to Dover. We quickly drove around the state’s legislative mall, seeing the capitol and other governmental buildings of the nation’s first state.

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Welcome to Delaware

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State capitol building

From there, we arrived at our main stop of the day, the Fordham Brewing company. Our friend Nathan, a true beer aficionado, mentioned that there are a number of craft breweries located in Delaware. Though we are not beer aficionados ourselves, we decided that, since we didn’t know what else to do in the state, a brewery tour might be an interesting activity since we were there. Fordham brews its own labels as well as the Old Dominion brand. For five bucks each, we took a tour, met some friendly people, got some tokens for sampling in their tasting room, and came home with a souvenir pint glass each. Since I’m not a beer drinker, they were super nice to let me try two whole bottles of their hand-crafted sodas, which were quite delicious, especially the black cherry!

After some lunch at a local seafood place next to the Dover International Speedway (yes, there is a NASCAR racetrack in Dover, Delaware), we decided to head south to the Atlantic coast. At 30 degrees in snow flurries, we didn’t exactly hop out of the car to take a stroll along the beach, but since we were so close to the ocean, we decided we wanted to at least see it for the first time since moving here. We drove to Rehoboth Beach and down the road a little ways for some modest coastal views before turning back toward Maryland. We’ll save some lighthouse scouting and beach strolling for a warmer day.

All in all, we had a nice day trip to Delaware. While not everything about the move has been perfect and we miss so much about Colorado, we are not negligent to appreciate the flexibility this new location affords. Three hours in any direction can get you somewhere incredibly interesting and diverse, even in the crummiest part of winter. Plus, Bart and I enjoy hanging out more than we get to during the week, and we also end up having some of our best conversations and discussions while watching the countryside pass by.

For the moment, we primarily have some local activities on our short-term weekend agenda, but as the winter fades and spring hints at its return, we have some more interesting day and weekend trips up our sleeves.

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