Sunday, February 21, 2016

Everything Has Changed

I’m not the same man I was the last time I posted on my blog. Or, at least, there are many things about me that have changed. I’ve started a job, I’ve moved, and I’ve been ordained to the priesthood at church. It’s a busy and exciting time, with an emphasis on “busy.” It’s so busy, in fact, that I’m hardly going to say anything about all of these wonderful and exciting developments. But I’ll say a little bit about each. That’ll have to do.

When I received and accepted a job offer, Melanie and I made finding a new home a priority. Living with Melanie’s parents for a year and a half was a necessity, and it had a lot of perks. But nothing compares to having your own space. And so, we began some serious house hunting. We had kept our eyes peeled for rental homes before I received the job offer, but once we knew I had a guaranteed income, we were empowered to act on any promising homes we found. When it came down to it, we were strongly considering two different rental properties: a townhome and a duplex. Originally, we had avoided looking into townhomes and duplexes because we didn’t want to have neighbors that were technically living in the same physical building. But there are some significant perks to these types of rental properties that weren’t typically available when renting a house, such as having your landlord take care of landscaping responsibilities and certain utilities, or having a much smaller security deposit. The townhome we fancied was in a pretty good location, not too far from where we had been living. The townhome community itself was built in 2007 and so was quite new, meaning it looked and felt rather fancy inside. It had some nice amenities, such as a clubhouse and swimming pool, and the guy who showed us the property seemed ready and willing to rent it to us. It was very tempting. But we were also considering a very large duplex, a duplex so large that the term “duplex” seems misleading. The duplex seems like a townhome of its own, with three levels, four bedrooms, an attached two-car garage, and approximately 2,000 square feet of living space. It’s an older property—built in 1970—but it’s been updated inside. And did I mention the space? The rooms are huge. It was also about $200 less per month than the townhome and even closer to Melanie’s and my works. And so, after giving it much thought, we decided to apply for the duplex. And we got it. And we’re living here now. And it’s absolutely wonderful. I love the location, I love the space. I’m ecstatic about these things. Here’s the first photo taken in our new home, with things still looking rather sparse:

When it comes to my new job, I started on Tuesday. The first day was new hire orientation, which included being taken out to a very nice lunch. That was cool. I then spent the next two days getting the impression they weren’t 100% sure what to do with me just yet. I think there weren’t any new projects for them to start me on, so they were kind of killing time. I was told to do things like investigate the company website and learn more about it, to set up a LinkedIn account, and other activities that probably aren’t the most pressing things one could do when on the clock. But by late Thursday afternoon, I was actually doing some real work, and I’m feeling incredibly optimistic. I already was optimistic, but I just think I’ve fallen into something really great here. The team is terrific, the scheduling and dress code are both very relaxed, the pay is good—I don’t know that I could realistically be happier working a “real” job.

And then there was today. Melanie and I have been preparing for ordination into the priesthood of Community of Christ for months now. Today, we were both officially ordained. It was a beautiful service with lots of love and support from friends and family. Melanie’s brother Brent even came down from Seattle to share the moment with us, which was pretty awesome. I was the first to be ordained during the worship service, being ordained to the office of elder. It was cool because the second I was done being ordained, I was able to hop up and assist in Melanie’s ordination to the office of priest. Serendipitously—or perhaps it was divine intervention—Melanie and I were extremely color-coordinated not only with each other, but with Jenn, one of the people ordaining us. None of this was planned or known about ahead of time. Melanie and I were both dressed before we saw that we matched. Here are some photos a friend of ours took of the ordinations. You’ll see what I mean.

Monday, February 08, 2016

We Interrupt This Program…

I’ve yet to finish my review of 2015, as if anybody notices or cares. Life has been so hectic lately, I just haven’t found the time to write. About anything. And a lot has been going on. Most of it is very good news, so I’m going to jump in and share some of the basics.

The biggest news is that I am starting a new job on February 16th. I am going to be an “email specialist,” which is something I’d never heard of but which, so far as I understand it, involves being on the more technical side of creating emails. In my particular case, it is my HTML skills—which are minimal—that will be put to use. Getting this job is a big deal for many reasons. One reason is that I haven’t worked in almost 10 years. Okay, that’s not quite true. I worked aplenty as a graduate student, and not just as a student but as an instructor of college-level courses and as a TA. I got paid for that, so it was all legitimate work. But it wasn’t traditional work. I also had a brief stint as a tour guide in Nauvoo during the summer, but that didn’t feel so much like getting a job as participating in some neat opportunity that happened to include an income. My email specialist job will be the first “normal” type of job I’ve had since I was a customer service representative in the summer of 2006. And I’m stoked, believe it or not. I’ve applied and been interviewed for a few positions over the last couple of months, and this job has been the most appealing by far. The rapport I felt with the people who interviewed me was off the charts compared to any of the other interviews I’ve had. The job sounds the most intriguing of any job I’ve applied for. The pay is better than any other job I’ve applied for. As an added bonus, I have a couple of good friends who work at the same company (in other departments). It’s all shaping up to be a very positive experience. I really believe that. I’m hopeful, and even expectant, that this could be a company I’ll be happy to be with for an indefinite period of time, and maybe for decades. Crazy, right?

One of the biggest perks of getting this job is that Melanie and I can finally afford to move out of her parents’ house. I’m sure her parents will appreciate it as much as we will. I’ve actually been amazed at how positive an experience it’s been to live here. Overall, I haven’t minded it that much at all. But it will certainly be good to re-embrace adulthood and live independently. Melanie and I have spent the last several days doing quite a bit of house hunting. It’s already exhausting. And heartbreaking. We’ve found a few really promising homes in fantastic locations, only to learn they are already taken by the time we call on them. You can get a lot of bang for your buck if you’re willing to move clear to the other side of the valley and live in what feels like the middle of nowhere. We’ve driven to see some of the homes out that way, but we only get about halfway to them before our faces take on sour expressions and our hearts start telling us there’s no way we can really imagine ourselves living that far away from what feels like our world. I don’t want to settle for something that is merely tolerable, just to move out. I believe if we’re patient we will get something we are extremely pleased with. But it’s hard when you’re chomping at the bit. Perhaps it will cloud our judgment. I don’t know. I’ve got a couple of decent leads that we’ll be acting on, but we’ll see.

I also have good news when it comes to my health. After two months of near-constant illness, I am feeling pretty darn close to normal. To recap, I had strep during the second week of December, was bitten by a mystery bug the following week, came down with bronchitis the next week, and then spent all of January bouncing up and down with colds, sore throats, and even the stomach flu. Even when I felt relatively decent, my breathing was never okay during this time. Often when I’d breathe out, it would sound like coffee percolating. I had a wheeze and shortness of breath. I felt very asthmatic, or how I assumed most asthmatics must feel. I’d never been diagnosed with asthma, so I wasn’t sure. On top of all of this, a white cyst had appeared on my left tonsil and had remained for weeks. That was peculiar. And so, I finally returned to a doctor (at an urgent care facility) over this most recent weekend. They tested my breathing, gave me a breathing treatment they usually give to asthmatics, then re-tested my breathing and found that I had nearly doubled my lung capacity. (I think I just didn’t do the first breathing test very well because I didn’t know exactly what I was doing. But anyway.) They x-rayed my lungs to check for pneumonia, which came back negative. But, due to all of my symptoms, they gave me prescriptions for an inhaler, an antibiotic, and a steroid. Within hours of taking my first antibiotic and steroid, I felt immensely better. My breathing feels normal, and I haven’t wheezed or percolated since. However, the urgent care doctor said he couldn’t really say anything about the cyst on my tonsil. He told me to go to an ear, throat, and nose specialist. I did that this morning. Apparently, all signs point to it being no big deal. I’m just supposed to ignore it, unless something crazy happens like it starts growing or hurting. The doctor said it will likely fall off at some point, but that it’s likely benign. And that gives me peace of mind. I wasn’t too worried about it, but with a new job on the horizon, I didn’t want to find out I need to have my tonsils removed or start chemotherapy or something crazy. So, I’m pretty thrilled.

So, that’s where life is at today. We’re on the cusp of significant changes, and it’s mostly exhilarating, so I’m in pretty good spirits.