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Clutter Brain

I can’t brain when there’s clutter, and for this I blame my mother. More specifically, I blame the genes she passed on to me.

She has always kept a spotless, well-organized house. As a teen, I resented that my room was held to her impossible standards. As an adult, I wish I could channel just five percent of her inner clean freak. But I’m frequently distracted by life, multiple jobs, and some minor health issues that make cleaning and organizing the absolute last thing on the planet I want to do when I get home from work.

For me, chaos present in my physical surroundings equals chaos in my brain and vice versa , and I have a very hard time getting people to understand this about me. I hate the presence of clutter, but if something is amiss or disorganized in my life, I am simultaneously unable to do anything about it. It leads to a sort of depression, and I can spend a lot of my time in a pretty negative headspace if I don’t have some clean, organized, everything-in-its-place visual to help me focus.

So for the past year, with two homes in two states, I’ve been a total stress ball. However, something happened recently that freed up some real estate in my brain: we moved everything out of the condo. Despite the fact that we were rarely there, I knew that the garage was stacked with unsorted boxes. And that was enough to completely immobilize me at the apartment too. I couldn’t fix anything at the apartment. I couldn’t redecorate it or organize it in my mind or even develop a plan for “one day,” because I was completely without zen. But now the condo is finally empty, and the second it happened, there was an almost audible click in my brain.

We spent this weekend putting together an entertainment center and a bookcase that we ordered from Amazon. One of the biggest problems we’ve had in moving from a 2,000+ sq. ft. condo to a 500 sq. ft. apartment, is that all of our furniture was too damn big. These things actually fit our space. Yay!

They’re not special by any means, but I love them. And I’m starting to (finally!) love this little apartment. Because slowly but surely we’re turning it into something that works for us. Here’s a before and after of our little living room:

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After we got it set up, Dan stared at the spot between the entertainment center and the bookcase. He stood in it and said to me, “We need something right here.”

“No!” I cried in terror. “Please! There has to be white space.”

Dude about gave me a heart attack.

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Champaign Fireworks: July 4, 2014

We sat in lawn chairs in our building’s parking lot and watched fireworks with the neighbors Friday night. It was an enjoyable 30 minutes, even with the power lines in the way, because we didn’t have to deal with a crowd or drive anywhere special to see them.

Champaign was not my first choice for relocation last year when I was job hunting. I really, really, really wanted to move to Milwaukee. But for this and many other reasons, Champaign keeps growing on me.

champaign illinois fireworks

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Milwaukee, Summerfest, and Dave Matthews Band

Milwaukee July 2014
Clockwise from top left: Milwaukee skyline from Marcus Amphitheater lawn; Lake Michigan shoreline from Marcus Amphitheater lawn; DMB plays Marcus Amphitheater; Grant Park Beach; Kopp’s Frozen Custard.

Bad News First

On Wednesday, we went to Milwaukee for a couple of days to catch Dave Matthews Band at Summerfest and hang out with Dan’s mom. It was the kind of mini-vacation that threatened not to be a vacation at all. First, it was 57° and misting the entire time we were at “Summer”fest. Yes, we were in Wisconsin…but damn!

Then, during DMB’s second set, the speakers went out. If you had lawn tickets–and we did–then you were treated to the muffled sounds of a band the size of ants being drowned out by Bonnie Raitt playing the next stage over. (Nothing against Bonnie Raitt at all, but I paid for DMB tickets.) I understand that we live in an imperfect world. Things happen; there are technical glitches. However, when the second half of a performance blows, there’s no recovering.

But it was our stay at Candlewood Suites that really sucked. The room they put us in had a bum door. It was nearly impossible to open and we knew it when we dropped off our bags at check-in, but we had places to be–namely, Summerfest. We left thinking the door would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience. We got back to the room many hours later, completely exhausted after the concert. All we wanted to do was crash, so we threw our hips and shoulders into the door to get it open. We were in, and went quickly to sleep.

It turned into a real problem the morning when Dan went out to Dunkin’ Donuts to grab breakfast while I slept in. When he came back, he couldn’t get the door open from the outside, and I couldn’t get it open from the inside. Much crankiness ensued, including some rage Tweets and a Facebook post warning all who were watching not to ever book a room at the Candlewood Suites hotel in Milwaukee. We got moved to a different room after the maintenance guy judged the problem to be to complicated for a quick fix. We took the problem to the front desk and ended up with a downgrade to a Queen from a King room. When the hotel staff told us, “Don’t worry, it’s a cheaper rate,” our response was “Damn right it is.”

The only thing worse than an uncomfortable bed? A smaller uncomfortable bed. And that’s exactly what we got.

And Now the Good News

Despite the problems, the trip still had plenty of great moments. On Friday morning, we drove to Grant Park Beach in Dan’s hometown to watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan. It was a breathtaking 10 minutes. When it was over, we went back to the hotel and slept until checkout.

grant park beach sun rise south milwaukee
Sunrise over Lake Michigan. Grant Park Beach, South Milwaukee, WI.

For lunch we went to Kopp’s Frozen Custard, where we didn’t order frozen custard at all. Instead we ordered jumbo cheeseburgers. It was the best diner-style cheeseburger I’ve ever had the pleasure of cramming in my pie hole.

We spent some time with Dan’s mom too. On Thursday evening, we sprung her from her retirement home, and in return she treated us to Trattoria di Carlo. She talked about her grandmother and grandfather who went to college here in Champaign-Urbana at the University of Illinois (total coincidence we ended up here–my father went to U of I too), how her mother taught for a while in Homer, Illinois (another crazy coincidence), and how when Dan was little they caught him literally swinging from a chandelier. (There are other great Baby Dan stories too…maybe another post?)

Somehow, toward’s the end of our meal the dinner conversation turned to pot. Dan mentioned that (legally) smoking pot was on my bucket list, when I corrected him and said, “Actually, I don’t want to smoke it. I’d prefer to try mine in brownie form.” To which my mother-in-law replied, “Me too!”

 

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