Thursday, Jan. 02, 2014 @ 11:33 am
In January, we were waist deep in landlord hell. She listed the condo for sale a week after we signed a one year rental agreement for the place. Since August, we had been dealing with having to clean and then leave the apartment for showings, which were happening at a frequency of approximately two times per week. She wouldn't let us break the lease, even when we found excellent replacement tenants. Being held hostage in your apartment without certainty of the intent of the buyer was incredibly stressful. We finally exerted 'soft power' and told her that we would move on very little notice in order to encourage a sale and therefore release us from the contract. Within days of our proposal, the unit sold and we were free. A mad scramble ensued to find a new place to rent, coordinate the move, acquire boxes, and sell off furniture. "We" also decided that Alf was not going to be happy in the new place, and that our urban lifestyle was not going to be suitable for his extroverted nature. I wanted to work harder to make it work, but an underlying relationship issue between me and Daniel was boiling up, and Daniel was carrying a lot of resentment towards the cat, and everything that I read was saying that I was sub-human to choose a cat over a human being, so I was forced to let him go. Letting Alf go was one of the most emotionally traumatizing moments of my life. I stupidly went to work and broke into tears in front of two EIT's. I spent hours curled up in bed sobbing until my lungs burned. My god, that cat, I haven't loved anything in the way that I loved him.
In February, we moved into our new apartment. We downsized from 1150 square feet to 650 square feet. We sold every single piece of furniture and purchased smaller replacement pieces. I argued for simple white furnishings and eventually got my way, and Daniel was happy that I pushed so hard for my opinion because in the end I was right in my design ideas, and the place looks great. We decluttered and purged our belongings and the final result is a small but highly functioning apartment. It is a huge relief to be free of so much stuff. In February, things started to go sour at work. My boss had a violent mental breakdown in the office and thirty percent of my workgroup was laid off. I started to think about making a move and began to research my options. We kicked off the camping season with a trip to Camano Island (yes, in February, we are crazy like that) where we were treated to a spectacular whale sighting and started to decompress from the stress of the old apartment and the move.
March was a fairly quiet month. We went to our first Whitecaps game (professional soccer). I participated in an engineering fundraiser in which we created a huge model out of canned food. I went to D's sister's stagette party, which was my first time in a night club in many, many years. I submitted my resume to my dream company. I stepped up my exercise regimen in an attempt to feel more confident about myself on the impending trip to Cuba. At the end of the month, we took an extended Easter long weekend and camped and explored a couple of parts of the Olympic Peninsula.
In April, we went to Cuba for D's sister's wedding. This trip was a giant drama fest. All-inclusive resorts are not our thing. I don't do well in tropical climates (I acquired laryngitis, heat rash, and pink eye). The trip was hugely expensive, and we didn't feel as though they (the newlyweds) really appreciated our being there (we never once hung out at the pool or beach with them). The expense was damaging. I hate being in direct sun and have to be extremely careful to avoid sunburn. Cuba is wildly interesting, and we forfeited a night at the resort in order to see Havana and the Cuban countryside. This cost even more but was the best part of the trip. I'm not sure that I'd go back to Cuba, but I am extremely grateful to have spent time in Havana at such an interesting point in Cuban history. The city is beautiful and scary and vibrant and crumbling, and the economy is beyond fascinating. The morning after we returned from Cuba, I ran the Vancouver Sun Run and was pleased to run the 10km race in under 50 minutes in spite of my various tropical ailments. After the run, my body shut down and I spent a week being incredibly sick, sleeping, sweating, itching, going to various clinics and pharmacies to eradicate all of the bacteria from my system.
In May, I finally got an interview with the new company. A few days later, they offered me a position. I negotiated a slightly higher salary and accepted. This was a huge achievement for me. In mid-May, an engineer made a sexist comment towards me and another female designer during a conference call. I initiated a formal complaint through human resources and concurrently submitted my resignation letter. In the end, I confronted the perpetrator myself and informed him that the comment breached human rights standards and that such comments are not funny and are unprofessional and culturally unacceptable. He was honestly appreciative of my feedback and expressed frustration of cultural differences and the misunderstandings that can result. I left the company feeling confident and that I was not running away from something but rather working towards better defining myself and my career.
June kicked off the cycling season. We cycled to Birch Bay for D's sister's SECOND wedding. Yet another drama fest. DO NOT HAVE TWO DESTINATION WEDDINGS and expect people to attend THEM BOTH. Seriously. Just don't. We showed up in casual clothing and drank a pile of booze and then left early to go to his parent's rented beach cabin where we could actually relax and enjoy ourselves. She was a little pissed at our jeans, but we dressed up REALLY well for the Cuban wedding (we each spent over $300 on clothes/shoes) and she didn't have the photographer include us in ANY photos. We seriously looked awesome and coordinated and stylish and not ONE professional photo. And I wasn't included in the sister photos. ....k I delved too much into the drama there. A week later, we took a week off and cycled from our condo to the island up to Comox and then back down the Sunshine Coast. Car-free holiday. We hauled camping and cooking gear, and it was one of the top five vacations that we've ever done. Seriously amazing to travel by bicycle and really get to know places that you've previously buzzed through by car. When we returned from the trip, I started my new job.
We spent most of July hanging around town and enjoying the beautiful weather. We did take a spontaneous trip to Portland to go to a craft beer festival. Other than that, this month was about riding our bikes around town and spending time getting reacquainted with the city.
August was much like July, only with even better weather. Lots of beach days. One trip up to Kelowna to visit my Aunt and Uncle. Lots and lots of cycling around the seawall, tending my garden, picking blackberries. In August, I also decided to quit Facebook. I didn't remove my account, but I deleted the app from my phone and did not permit myself to check my news feed. Quitting Facebook has given me a lot more mental space and has been very healthyfor me. I miss knowing what is going on with my 'friends', but I was experiencing a lot of jealousy and bad feelings about what some people were posting and decided that the pros didn't outweigh the cons.
The weather continued to be amazing through September. We went camping with a group of people to Hicks Lake and with D's cousin to Fort Ebey. We did an amazing hike up Mount Coliseum, which is one of the most challenging local day hikes. In September, I started using the Oil Cleansing Method to wash my face. This has totally changed the nature of my skin and I no longer experience the constant redness and inflammation that came from using even gentle cleansers. I highly recommend that everyone try this method. My skin has stopped over-producing oil, and I no longer have flakey dry patches. My skin is more elastic and looks younger. I still have the occasional blemish, but the overall improvement is dramatic. I am currently using combination of castor oil and sweet almond oil and am planning on testing grapeseed, rice bran, and olive oils. (Side note: I still use the no-poo method for my hair and will never go back to shampooing it. It's been a year and a half now and my hair is healthier than ever.)
In October, we went to several good shows at local venues. We went camping at Rasar State Park with D's parents, which was relaxing with beautiful fall foliage. The weather started to become worse in this month, and the temperature dropped with the shorter days. In October, I decided to delve into dance classes, which is something that I'd wanted to do for years but never had the courage to try. I tried dance bootcamp, salsa, and ballet, and discovered within myself a hidden love of ballet. In October, I also decided to stop biting my nails, a bad habit that I've had for over 20 years. It has been a difficult journey, but I'm very close to saying that I've broken the habit. I rewarded myself with one new nail polish per week (err.. ok.. maybe two or three per week...) and have discovered that I actually have decent looking hands. A week before Christmas, a coworker complimented my nails, which was a massive confidence boost for me after having gnawed stumps for 20 years.
In November, we went to stay at a cabin outside of Bellingham with D's cousin and another couple. Work exploded in November, and I worked a lot of overtime. Later in November, after having another one of our awful recurring arguments, D and I decided that our relationship needed professional help. We booked an appointment with a counsellor that I'd picked out back in the spring when a similar argument had occurred. Counselling has been excellent for both our relationships with each other and with ourselves. In counselling, we practice the language that we use when we talk to each other. We discuss how certain actions cause certain reactions and are working to break down some of our barriers to intimacy. Through counselling, I am learning about how my sensitive introverted nature causes me to feel things more deeply than others, and that I have spent a lot of energy hiding those feelings to appear as cool as the less reactive extroverts. I am learning that my mother did not support my self-confidence as much as she could have, and that she continues to subtly manipulate me to feel guilt when I take risks or make decisions that she does not agree with. I am learning why I need more downtime than Daniel. We are learning that we need to differentiate ourselves from each other, and that we liked each other better earlier in our relationship because at that time we were more differentiated. Daniel is learning all of these things about me too, and as his understanding of my nature then he can learn to not take my apparent disinterest personally. I simply need more time alone to restore myself from the rigours of the outside world. Highly interesting process. Highly recommended to anyone in a long term relationship.
December busy with work, ballet classes, Christmas parties, and counselling appointments. I took so much public transit in December that I broke down and became a member of Car2Go (car share program) to give myself an occasional break from walking and the taking the bus. Just before Christmas, we hosted two large family dinners back-to-back. First we brined and roasted a fresh ham for my family, and the next day we roasted a turkey for D's family. The dinner with my family went OK, but the one with D's family was a disaster. Similar drama as from Cuba. We will NEVER again host them for dinner. His parents yes, his younger sister yes, but never the whole group or his other sister and her asshole of a husband. It takes a lot for me to not like someone. Seriously, like a lot. Anyhow, we spent my birthday recovering from that mess and then took off for the Oregon Coast for a week of beach walking and reading books in a cozy cabin.
Daniel sat down and added up the number of nights that we spent travelling this year, and it added up to a whopping 60 nights. And that may have been before the Christmas 5-night trip. SIXTY FIVE NIGHTS!!! That really made us think about our goals for 2014. We want to take a step back from all of that travelling and spend more time at home working on projects and developing ourselves. Yes, I love to be away and out in nature, but I think that we also use travel as a way to avoid some of the harder questions in life.
Looking ahead to 2014? I haven't really thought too much about it yet. I need to sort out the direction of my career. I have a couple of project ideas that I want to flush out. I want to find a way to bring more creativity into my life. I want to continue to reconnect with Daniel and to continue to strive for simplicity in my life. I feel as though I should try to develop a friendship with someone that I could meet regularly for coffee and walks and stuff, but I'm not going to put pressure on myself about it. I want to disconnect myself more from my phone and to live more mindfully. To knit more, to sew more, to spend more time in nature. I want to be kinder to myself, to let go of jealousy, to not compare my life to others. Easier said than done. I honestly don't know what to expect for 2014. We are not planning on moving or changing jobs or anything. We will not be having children or getting married. It's actually strange to not be planning to move. Sitting here typing this is making me realize that I really need to think about what I'm doing now. Good job, nice apartment, improving relationship... soo.... now what?? ...