My husband had not been inside our house since January 3 when he arrived home on June 21. That was 169 days for me to ruin everything, burn the house to the ground, create a massive mountain of dirty dishes… basically it was a lot of time for any number of things to go wrong.
Thankfully I — and the house — survived the long separation without any major damage. In fact, I wanted to surprise my husband by improving some of our space while he was away.
First a friend helped me clean and organize the closet in my office and at the same time we completely cleared out the small extra room. But that wasn’t much of a surprise to my hubby since I had blogged about it, allowing him to see the pictures of the improved space.
What he didn’t know was the next weekend the same fabulous friend came back and helped me repaint our bathroom, changing it from the very vibrant blue it has been since 2009 to a lovely new shade called Bavarian Cream. We also hung a piece of my mom’s art, adding a splash of color. These two projects combined with the bathtub refinishing that happened in February and it seems like we have a new space! (Ignoring the 80-year-old tile and terrible Home Depot vanity…)
Needless to say he was surprised (and pleased) with the new look when he walked into our bathroom for the first time in 6.5 months.
On Saturday a fabulous friend came over to help me organize my office closet and, by accident, also cleaned up my “little room” aka our craft room aka a room that has traditionally been filled with lots of random stuff since we bought our house.
A few years back my in-laws helped us paint the room. Now that it has been cleaned out (again) it’s ready for sewing, painting, and any other craft project that may strike my fancy. I just hope I can find the time to take advantage of the space now that it is ready for action.
The office also benefited greatly from the weekend makeover. I went through multiple old file folders full of pay stubs, receipts, and other miscellaneous documents from the early 2000s while my friend organized all the random things in the closet — luggage, wrapping paper, and keepsakes. Not only are all of those things much tidier, the closet had enough space left over for us to add in the small filing cabinet that had previously been kept in the craft room.
There are still a few piles to go through before I can consider the office seriously cleaned up, but considering I can now see the majority of the floor in the little room and my recycling and garbage cans are full and ready for pick up, I’d say it was a highly productive weekend!
My multiple “home” reference issue started when I moved away from my hometown (Stockton, California) to attend college in Southern California. At school I used home to refer to my parent’s house, but when I was visiting my parent’s house, school was home. Now that I live in Washington, DC, I do the same thing even though I haven’t lived in California for six years.
It’s been 13 years since I really lived in Stockton, but I find myself visiting my West Coast home at least once or twice (or in the case of 2013 four times) a year. And yes, Stockton has a pretty bad rap — it had the highest murder per capita rate in the country during my childhood, was the center of the foreclosure crisis in 2008, and was the first big city to declare bankruptcy in 2012. However, Stockton is also the place I was raised, where I went to school, where I made friends, and where I met my husband. So while I love my East Coast home, I remain a California girl at heart and I can’t get on the Stockton-bashing bandwagon.
I’ve lived in a lot of “big, scary cities” (at least other people seem to think so, I don’t know how many times during the years people have asked, “don’t you think it’s a scary [neighborhood, city, etc]” when they found out I resided in Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Southeast DC. But thanks to the common sense I gained growing up in Stockton, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying. Bad things happen everywhere (unfortunately) and you just have to keep on living.
And while people focus so much attention on the bad stuff, my favorite thing about growing up in Stockton is the incredible diversity that the city offers. From birth I had friends, babysitters, crushes, teachers, doctors, etc. who came from every background. Growing up surrounded by people who may have a different skin tone, religion or sexuality than me burned deep into my mind and heart that all people are just like me, regardless of what we look like. Individuals I met in college, graduate school and after moving to DC were/are amazed about the giant high school I attended and it’s incredible ethnic breakdown. During my senior year at AA Stagg High there were about 3,600 students — roughly 15% Caucasian, 15% African America, 30% Latino and 40% Asian. It was great! I only wish more people had the chance to grow up in an environment that opened their eyes to the fact that we all are filled with hopes and dreams, despite our visible differences. This is something I know I’ll never forget.
Growing up in Stockton I was also exposed to a wide range of foods (I probably could have skipped out on the chicken feet), but I love the delicious Chinese and Mexican cuisine that I can get while visiting my West Coast home. My hubby and I haven’t found anything comparable in DC yet. Just yesterday I stocked up on my dim sum favorites to take back to DC with me. (Yes, my backpack is full of pork buns. Don’t judge me.)
Coming home also means seeing some of my favorite people from elementary school, theatre projects, and my favorite restaurants. (I swear, my whole world doesn’t revolve around food… well, not all of the time.) Even though I only get to see these friends once or twice a year, it’s special to spend time with the people who really know you. Who grew up with you. Who have so many shared experiences.
So Stockton, as I prepare to head back to my East Coast abode, thanks for everything. I’ll see you again in a few months.
But let me rewind a bit and start from last week. It all began with a notice from Pepco (our electric company) saying that our power would be out between 8:30 am–6 pm on Wednesday, November 28. I wasn’t pleased, but with a week’s notice I was able to make arrangements to work at a friend’s house yesterday. I mean, a girl can only work from Starbucks for so long…
So I spent yesterday working with my on-again, off-again intern Bo, went to jazzercise, and got home to find that all the clocks were correct. The power had been on all day. I had no idea what that meant. The slip from Pepco had said that the power would be off on Thursday if Wednesday had inclement weather and they weren’t able to work, although I couldn’t see how sunshine and a light breeze counted as inclement weather.
At 8:30 this morning we still had power which meant I could blow dry my hair and get a bit of work done. I went out to run an errand and when I got back about 10:30 the power had gone bye-bye. I worked for about an hour on my fully charged laptop then really needed an internet connection, so I headed out on a quest for the world wide web.
My first stop was at the house I worked at yesterday and once there I worked from the car (since the alarm at the house was on today, I couldn’t hang out with Bo again unless I wanted to get arrested). I frantically sent a handful of emails and took care of some small projects from the driver’s seat (thank goodness for strong internet connections!). While in my mobile office I connected with another friend who had left a key in her lock box for someone who was planning to stop by her house later today. She passed along the combination giving me space to work this afternoon.
Now I am comfortably ensconced on her couch with random TV playing in the background as I eat my falafel sandwich and work to get caught up after my crazy morning. Thank goodness for friends!
Whenever I am in California, I always make an effort to get to my favorite food places (more than once if I can help it!)
Here are some of my dining must-haves when I am in the Central Valley:
• Dynasty: For my must-have Dim Sum fix, I stop into Dynasty. It’s the only place I have a chance to get my beloved, but rarely eaten, steamed and baked pork buns. Hey, you have to have options! We haven’t found any remarkable Chinese food in DC and there is no Dim Sum in our neighborhood so I try my best to get my fix when in California.
• House of Shaw: I find myself here for a daily visit to grab a delicious iced mocha (except Sundays when they are closed, darn them) and frequently also make this a meeting spot to catch up with old friends. As soon as I walk in the door, the owner is getting my iced mocha ready and when I stay to eat I always enjoy my food too.
• In & Out: I’m not a big burger person, but when in California I have to indulge myself with a plain cheeseburger (just the meat, cheese, and bun) and an order of fries. If the visit is longer than a week I tend to find myself craving a second visit. I think what makes it special and oh so good is the freshness. Yum!
• Matsuyama: Just like Chinese food, our neighborhood in DC doesn’t have any sushi options, so I always like to grab a roll or two for lunch one day. This visit included a tempura shrimp roll and a spicy tuna roll — nothing too crazy, but it was tasty!
• Wine Wizards: I grew up eating here with my parents for special Friday night dinners or Saturday lunches. I also used to waitress at WW during the summers of college and part-time in graduate school. While I wholeheartedly believe I was a terrible waitress I love the food, which hasn’t changed too much since my earliest visits nearly 30 years ago, and typically know almost all of the other people there when I stop in. All of the rotating special soups and quiches are delicious and I know that you can never go wrong with the always available French Onion Soup and Potato Raclette with Ham—two of my winter favorites. I’m getting hungry now just thinking about it!