Exploring Oregon 2009

Exploring Oregon 2009

Monday, April 30, 2012


It's frowned upon, welcomed, impossible and inevitable. 

Lately, it seems to be everywhere, flooding me.  It's a tidal wave and I've been doing all I can to tread water and simply stay afloat in this sea of change.  Some of it is exciting and welcomed change, some of it scares the crap out of me, but either way there's no stopping it, so it's sink or swim time.  Good thing my parents gave me swimming lessons as a kid.

How is it when you would like for something to change, it stays impossibly the same?  Yet as much as you would like other things to stay as they are, they change in the blink of an eye.  Such is life I'm told.

It's hard to believe that last month marked the one year date of our moving into our new home.  How has a year elapsed so quickly?  Was I comatose for half of it?  I seriously feel like I go to sleep at night and weeks pass instead of hours.  How else can this be explained?  Could a whole year really have passed?  If so, then I guess I should start feeling pretty bad about the fact that one of the hall lights has been burnt out since we moved in, and it remains that way to this day.  Or that when we moved in, we immediately painted our master bedroom and the smoke detector is still dangling from its wires from the ceiling.  Is it that hard to get a ladder out and change a bulb or put the screws back in the smoke detector?  Yes...yes it apparently is.

The new place
Aside from that, life in the new house has been amazing.  What a welcomed change it has been.  Our last home was a really nice place, in a great neighborhood, but it just wasn't quite what we wanted.  Just the other night my husband was basking in the glory of living where we do.  We can get on our mountain bikes and ride right out our garage door, directly across the street and onto a trail.  We are within 10 minutes riding distance to the biggest mountain bike trail network in the area, and just down the road from the downhill park.  As if that isn't enough, Jason has friends who come pick him up in the morning to get a couple runs in at Mount Bachelor before work.  He loves that it is easy for someone to swing by and get him because we are literally on the way to the mountain.  We are also right down the road from one of his friend's favorite nearby rock climbing spots.  In fact, I came home the other night to find my husband drinking beer with his rock climbing buddy, Josh, and Josh's friend Matt after having done some climbing.  I realized after Matt left that he was the guy that my husband was telling me about who had been on the Discovery Channel's hit show Deadliest Catch.  I love that show!  Seriously...those are the kinds of bad ass friends we are making living where we do.  I can't tell you how nice it is to live near your friends and to be 'on the way' to something.  We were pretty far out of the way at our last house, so no one ever came over after a day of snowboarding or rock climbing for a beer or a burger...or really for any reason at all.

Jessie & I at my
Halloween Party.
I'm SheRa
Our Amazing Deck
We've had a myriad of parties and social events at our place this past year...because we could!!  I LOVE to entertain, but never had much of a chance to in my old house because it was so small.  If we had more than 4 people over, it would get uncomfortably crowded.  I yearned to have people over for a BBQ in the summer, but our outdoor space consisted of a 9'x9' concrete pad wedged in between our house and our neighbors.  We basically lived in a detached town home.  It was a nice, private space, but despite my best planter gardening efforts, it was not a place where you really wanted to spend time.  While our yard at our new house is a far cry from large, we can at least say we have a yard.  It's a small patch of grass, but our deck is a really nice size and we back up to an open green space in our community that has a walking trail that connects one end of the neighborhood to the other.  So despite our yard being small, I don't feel like my neighbors are right on top of me, and my yard is actually quite private.  It's also nice that we have many large and established Ponderosa Pines on the property.  I love hearing the wind in the trees and just the feeling I get sitting out among them on a nice warm day, listening to my little waterfall run into my pond I installed last summer.  I quite fond of the sound of moving water and tried many different types of table top style fountains in my side yard of my last house, but none could compare to my little pond.  Having enough space to install even this little water feature was a huge plus for me.

Back to the point that this year has flown by; I'm reminded that my darling little nephew turns two next month.  There's a kick in the pants.  He's like a walking yard stick by which time is measured.  Living so far from him, it is a huge reality check to see how much he has grown between every visit.  I've loved him from the very second he came into this world, but my last trip home to visit my sister and her family a month or so ago, may very well be my favorite visit with my nephew to date.  I stayed at my sister's new house for 3 nights, and it didn't take long for my adorable little nephew to adjust to me being there.  The guest bedroom is downstairs, just off the kitchen, and my favorite little guy would come down the stairs in the morning yelling "Auntie!  Auntie!", all excited to see me.  Despite the fact that it was way earlier than I would ever normally want to be up on a day off of work, how could I be mad and not want to get out of bed to that excited little voice beckoning me to come and play?  I still can't believe that a year ago he wasn't even walking, and when I see him next month for his birthday, Jason and I will be giving him his very first bicycle.  I thought it only fitting that he got his first bicycle from his very bike obsessed Uncle and his favorite Aunt.

All in all, the past year has been a good one, personally.  Professionally is another story entirely.  Can we just get over this recession business already?  Like seriously people!  It is making my job a living hell!!  It seems that everything slows down, and I'm certain that in a matter of weeks, I'll lose my job, then a trainload of work comes in, and I'm up to my eyeballs in it.  Things continue on in this crazy way, where we are all incredibly over worked, because we know that this influx of work is only temporary and it wouldn't make sense to bring on people for a short time, only to turn around and let them go after we get over this peak.  Then we hit the peak and plunge back into being slow again.  It's all or nothing, and this yo-yo work load has been going on for the last 3 years.  The worst part about this economy is that we are expected to do more for less.  I was lucky enough to get my job before the economy took a dive, and have worked hard to keep my job through it all.  I have plenty of friends and coworkers who have not been as fortunate, and I'm grateful to not have had the stress of having to look for work in these hard times.  I've learned a lot and grown a lot over the years, and have gone from a kid straight out of college without any idea what I'm doing, to being self sufficient and handling small jobs completely on my own.  This is all great and is the kind of growth I would expect to have over 5 years of experience, but it's a little frustrating when the company has been on a pay freeze during this time, so I'm still being paid the same amount I was when I knew basically nothing.  Doing more for less.  Prime example.  Especially when you consider that the cost of living has still been increasing, which means I really am getting paid less than I was my first year on the job.  Frustrating.  Deeply.  So come on economy, I don't know how much more I can take!

On top of this minor annoyance with my professional life, I got dealt a pretty big blow a couple months ago when I found out that the one person I looked up to more than anyone at my office was leaving.  Whaaaaaaaaaat??  He was the person that actually made me feel appreciated and he taught me so much...how could he possibly leave me!?  He was the guy who interviewed me when I applied for the job and the person I worked most closely with.  He was smart, funny, down to earth, easy to work with and someone everyone respected.  He was a friend.  He still is a friend.  We've kept in touch since he moved on, and I don't doubt that we will continue to be friends, but the work environment is nowhere near the same.  He was a big part of the company and his leaving changed some of the dynamic in the office.  It's just not the same, and it never will be as it was, and that is a hard truth for me to swallow, but I'm adjusting as best I can.

You know what else is a drag?  Getting older.  Yeah...I said it.  It gets harder and harder to stay in shape, and easier and easier to fall out of shape.  I need to start running again as it's been far too long since I've done any regular running.  A couple summers ago I was running a 3 mile loop on the river trail twice a week.  In fact, another one of the reasons I was really excited to move to our sweet new house was that it was just a little more than a half mile off the river trail that I like to run.  To date, I've only done the loop from our new house once in over a year of living here.  It ends up being right around 4.25 miles, and it is a beautiful run, but I really dropped the ball lately.  I do have a couple of excuses factors that kept me from running last summer.  First, when we moved to our new place, Jason bought me a sweet mountain bike (I had to have one since we lived right on the mountain biking trails) and I spent a good amount of time riding instead of running.  There were also cougar sighting warnings (and I do mean the predatory cats, not the older predatory women) in the area I like to run.  Call me chicken, but I'm not a fan of the idea of being a cougar snack.  I'm NOT a fast runner and I like to run alone...with my headphones on.  If that doesn't sound like the description of a potential cougar mauling victim, I don't know what does.

It was a beautiful, sunny and warm day today.  I was honestly tempted to do some running this afternoon, but ended up instead in a coffee shop drinking a non-fat mocha, writing this blog.  In my defense, a new blog post is really overdue, and I already had plans to go mountain biking with Jason this evening.  Seeing as how it was my first ride of the season, I thought my legs would appreciate not doing a run and a ride in the same day, and that Jason would appreciate me not being exhausted within the first 5 minutes of our ride.  I was right.  It felt good to get back out there and enjoy my bike, even when both legs began cramping on the final climb out of the river canyon on our way home.  I'm definitely going to feel this tomorrow.  Who am I kidding?  I can already feel it.  Boot camp tomorrow night should be fun.*

I do need to get out and do more running though as I really want to run a half marathon this summer.  I also have another motivation to get back into shape - I'm going to be a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding this September.  I cannot even tell you how badly I do NOT want to be the fat bridesmaid.  All her other bridesmaids are these tiny, little women and if something doesn't change, I'll look Amazonian standing next to them.  Well, except for the height thing.  I would be a short Amazonian.  I'm sure they exist.  So that is some good motivation.  If that isn't enough, I also need to get my booty (well, more than just my booty...but you know what I mean) back in shape because Jason and I have decided (and by Jason and I, I mostly mean I decided and told Jason) that we are going to start trying to...well...make a baby this fall.  It's become clear that I'm not getting any younger, and we now have the family house and the family car - so all we are missing is an actual family.  My carefree days of sleeping in are ticking away...

Another not-so-fun factor about getting older...having to deal with the skin damage that I inadvertently caused my pasty white self through the years.  I've always tried to be good about using sunscreen and have accepted the fact that I will never be tan.  In fact, my only hope at this point is that one day all my freckles will merge and voila! I'll be tan.  It's happening...slowly.  Despite my best efforts, I've still caused some damage that came to my attention.  About a year ago I noticed a pink spot on my chest.  I didn't think much of it at the time, as it looked like I had scratched myself.  It was a little dry and kind of scabby (isn't that a pleasant visual image??), but it was healing up nicely.  It would just about be gone, and then it would get all dry and scabby again and the cycle would start over.  I finally decided it was time to see a dermatologist after having lost a friend last year to cancer at the young age of 24 and then hearing about a young lady who was on the soccer team in Boise losing her battle with skin cancer earlier this year.  It became clear that I could no longer ignore this problem, as it was NOT going away on its own.  I should insert here that I am one of those people who never goes to doctors.  I've lived in Bend for almost 5 years now and still don't have a general physician.  I've been fortunate enough to stay relatively healthy, aside from some occasional nasty colds which my coworkers were so generous to share with me.  I'm the person who refuses to take anything for a headache, unless it is so bad that it becomes incapacitating.  I'm weird like that.  So making an appointment was a pretty big step for me.

The dermatologist did a full body scan on me and luckily the only area of concern was the spot on my chest. She told me that they would need to do a biopsy on it, but that she was pretty sure that it was skin cancer.  She must have noticed the blood drain from my face because she quickly went on to say that it was the "good kind" of skin cancer.  I wish I was kidding, but she actually said that.  I was not aware that there was such a thing as "good" skin cancer.  At this point, I was looking at her pretty skeptically, so she proceeded to tell me that "if I had to have any kind of skin cancer, this would be the one that I would want."  Boy, is that ever comforting.  Honestly though, it is the most common kind of skin cancer and really quite treatable and the fact is, it really shouldn't be all that surprising to me since both of my parents have been treated for this same exact thing.  Two days later I got the call confirming that it is in fact Basal Cell Carcinoma (the "good" kind) and that I am lucky because it is very superficial.  What this means is that I have multiple treatment options.

The first option is what they call 'Scrape and Burn.'  Really?!!  Who goes with this option?  It sounds horrible!!  Basically they do exactly that, scrape off the infected cells and then cauterize the wound.  <*Shudder*>.  She explained to me that this would leave a round, white scar.  Lovely.  Next option please?  Incision.  Guess what that option entails.  Yup, cutting the infected cells out.  The benefit to this option is that they make sure to cut enough cells out that they get a border of healthy cells to ensure that they got it all.  They actually send off the cells to be tested, making this the most successful method at removing all the infected cells.  The other benefit to this method is it will only leave a small, vertical scar.  The bad thing about this method is that it involves cutting and stitching.  Ack!  I've never gone under the knife before my biopsy, and I was incredibly nervous as that was happening, and it required NO stitching.  The thing is, I kind of have this...aversion.  To needles.  So this means having to deal with getting a local anesthetic administered via a needle to the chest.  This was terrifying when I had the biopsy done.  When you've got a needle in your chest, your immediate thought is that you should hold completely still.  Unfortunately, it takes a while to administer the anesthetic, and it is impossible to hold your breath that long when you are that anxious, but breathing is SCARY because it requires moving your chest.  Yeah, this is what was going through my mind during the shot.  It's completely ridiculous, I know.  So if I make it through that ordeal again, I get to look forward to getting stitched up in the end.  I've never had stitches.  What's worse, is that I would need TWO sets of stitches.  One set that dissolves that is placed under the surface of the skin, and another normal set on the surface that I would need to come back and have removed.  I can't even tell you how queasy it makes me to think about this stuff.  The final option is a topical chemo cream.  It is something that I would need to apply nightly for 5 nights in a row.  I would then take two nights off and then resume the treatment for 5 nights.  This would have to go on for 6 weeks.  The plus side of this is that it requires no cutting, stitching, scraping or burning.  It would leave no scar, aside from what may result from the biopsy.

At first this sounded pretty good, except that the more I thought about it, the less appealing it became.  The idea of having cancer of any kind makes my heart race to think about.  Dragging out treatment for 6 weeks means I would have to live with it that much longer and I just want to get this over with.  It also has the lowest success rate at completely removing all the infected cells.  80%.  That is pretty good, but there isn't any guarantee like there is with the lab tested method of the incision.  Also, I started reading about some of the side effects of the cream and they didn't seem all that appealing.

Ultimately I decided on the incision.  It seemed the obvious choice once I thought about it, despite the fact that it forces me to face some pretty major fears.  My appointment is on Wednesday and I know I'll feel better once it's over, and that I'll get through it.  For crying out loud it is only an hour long treatment...I can do it.  I can.

To top off this stress, I finally caved in and signed up to take the first of my exams needed in order to obtain my architectural license.  I really hate testing, but I can't put off the exams any longer since I want to get them over and done with before having kids around to make studying more difficult.  Since we are going to start 'trying' this fall, that means I need to get my tests underway.  This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that I'm a terrible test taker.  It doesn't matter how much I study or how well I know the subject...as soon as I'm asked a question, my mind goes blank.  I can know the answer, but once put under the pressure of needing to produce the answer, it always eludes me.  If I'm lucky, I can move on to other questions and hope that the answer comes back to me in time.  To add even more pressure, there are SEVEN tests that I have to take, each over 200 bucks a pop.  That's some pretty serious moolah.  The good thing is that my boss will reimburse me the test cost for each test I pass.  This is fantastic, except that it puts even more pressure on because I literally can NOT afford to fail.  What's even better is that if you do fail a test, you have to wait 6 months or something crazy like that in order to retake it.  I do NOT have time for that.

Honestly, when I look back on this last year, I really can't complain.  I've been very fortunate and for the most part am happy with where I am with my life.  Naturally there are things I'd like to change, but isn't that the case for everyone?  Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can get though this needle phobia that I'm going to face this week, and that I can kick my first test's butt on June 4th.  Really, it would be quite awful to start off my testing by failing the very first one.  I can do it, I can do it.  I.  CAN. DO. IT!!!

Finally, I want to thank you all, my family and friends for all the love and support you have given me throughout the years.  Every single one of you have impacted my life and helped shape the person I am today, and I just so happen to be quite proud of that person.  I love you guys.

*UPDATE 5/1/12 - Last night at boot camp was grueling.  Of course it was a major leg exercise workout that involved holding the 'squat position' for as long as possible in between doing a whole bunch of other exercises.  It was a partner workout and one would squat for as long as they could while the other did kettle bell swings, or tire flips, or something along those lines.  So when the person could no longer squat any longer, we would switch places.  We had so many of each exercise that we had to do, like 50 tire flips and 300 kettle bell swings, so we would just keep switching off until we were finished.  I felt really bad for my partner because towards the end, I was having a REALLY hard time holding a squat.  As soon as I got down into the squat position, my left leg would completely cramp up, just as it did on my bike ride the night before.  I was pretty worthless at holding a squat at that point.

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