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I know what I am, but know not what I may be. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Melanie

Alternate Reality : Another Story Altogether
The Present : Cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am.
The Past : These are but shadows of the things that have been.

Update for the Masses [September 1st, 2009,10:05 pm]
Since March, we've...
  • Found (and kept) an orange tabby kitten (June 6). We finally named him Rusty.
  • Spent $1000 that month on pet food, supplies, and vet bills. Rusty has not been cheap (plus Ally got spayed).
  • Vacationed in sunny Jamaica and attended my sister's wedding (June 15-19). No problem, mon!
  • Grown a small nearly-organic garden that produced a bounty of jalapeños, bell peppers, and tomatoes while the squash plant succumbed to squash bugs.
  • Hosted Kristen for a girls-only weekend of chilling, wine, and sushi (well, I did; Robert was out of town). Yum!
  • Come home to death and destruction courtesy of Ally. She shredded her dog bed, three pillows, and a couch cushion over the course of a week. See Blogger. We're crating her again now.
  • Invested in a portable dishwasher to replace me as dishwasher. Joy of joys! I only had to live over a year without it.
  • Purchased a gas grill for making tasty foods. The parents reimbursed us for it to make it a gift.
  • Hosted the parents for a long weekend of shopping, talking, and much eating. My dad and Robert also installed a new sink faucet so that I could finally use that dishwasher (the adapter wouldn't work with our old, non-standard faucet).
Isn't my life exciting? In other news, football starts this weekend. War Eagle!

And here's Rusty (I should secretly call him Tiger):

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Major update, a year in the making! [March 15th, 2009,12:05 pm]
So, we bought a house (April 2008).

We got married (May 31, 2008).

I changed jobs, moving from a Presentation Team Member at Target to an Auto Underwriting Clerk at the Alfa Home Office (June 2008).

We got a dog - a 2 year old lab mix (who is now almost 3). His name is Vinny, short for Vincent van Gogh since his left ear is slightly deformed from being nearly ripped off his head as a puppy (June 2008).

We honeymooned, belatedly, on the Norwegian Jewel with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel (November 2008).

We booked a dual-purpose week-long stay at Sandals in Jamaica during June 2009. My sister is getting married there and we're calling it a second honeymoon/first anniversary trip (November 2008).

I lost my job. Stupid economy (January 2, 2009).

I got a new job - Animal Technician at Harlan Laboratories, Inc. (January 27, 2009).

We got a 42" LCD TV. Awesome! (January 2009).

I was promoted to Animal Care Group Leader because of my zoology degree (February 17, 2009).

We got a puppy - her name is Ally and she's a 13-week-old chow mix (basically just a fluffy brown street dog). She was found outside my husband's office in downtown Montgomery (March 7, 2009).

Vinny bit Ally on the nose, resulting in $110 in vet bills. We think he was just playing too rough so we supervise them more closely now (March 10, 2009).

I got a new CPU tower + mouse + keyboard for my birthday! I have to transfer all necessary music and files from the old one when I get a chance (March 13, 2009).

I turned 25. Old. (March 14, 2009).
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So I've been boycotting LJ... [March 28th, 2008,09:34 pm]
This is the first time I've been back in...ye gods...forever. I'm not breaking down and viewing my comms yet, but I'll post a major update.

A lot has happened since January. On the wedding front...
  • Church, officiant, and photographer are locked in. Church costs aren't so bad, but we're splurging on the pictures. What can I say? I want awesome photos of the happiest day of my life. :)
  • Engagement ring is finally back from being resized down to a 4.5. A 3-week job took twice that long. The story? A tornado hit Prattville and decimated the jewelry store that we bought it from. Good news is that the ring was already sent off, so there was no risk of it being damaged in the storm.
  • Wedding band for me has been decided on and we should get it soon, as we're having a coworker of Robert's purchase it at a wholesale place. It's a 1/4 ct. round channel band in 14k white gold (engagement ring is a 1/3 ct. round solitaire on 14k white gold band) and we're getting it in a 5 so that we don't have to wait weeks for it to come in. A 5 definitely works; I wore my ring as a 5 for awhile before I finally got it sized down again. We'll worry about resizing it later.
  • Dress is back from being altered. Kristen has been schooled in the art of bustling. The photographer finally got to take some pictures of me at the final fitting.
  • Bridesmaids have their dresses and most or all of their accessories (I think). Kristen has to get a stitch repaired in her dress though.
  • We're most of the way through premarital counseling at the church we're getting married in. I'm also transferring my membership there as soon as they get my records sent.
  • I had Bachelorette Party, Part One in Panama City Beach over the weekend. It was lots of fun, but would have been more if I hadn't been a sickface sleepyhead on Saturday night. It's okay though; I'll be sure to be well for Bachelorette Party, Part 2: The Auburn Edition.
  • I'm on BC to make sure I have no unexpected discomfort around wedding/honeymoon time. Yay.
  • Invitations have been bought - we're printing them ourselves. We haven't finalized a design, but we know basically what we want. Hopefully we'll be able to get them out in the next 2 weeks, once guest lists and addresses are gotten.
  • Some decorations/paper products/favors have been purchased by me and/or my mom. Examples: reception candles/candleholders, unity candle set, bubbles, some of the silverware/dinnerware/drinkware/napkinware, etc.
Still to do:
Phew. That's a lot. In addition, we're house-hunting. Our lease is up in July and rent is going up. It's practically a mortgage payment already. We're looking in the 80-100k range for a starter home in Prattville. As we don't have a lot of savings yet, we're looking to use any and all help provided to first-time homebuyers.

AND. I'm job-hunting. My current job, well, sucks. I don't feel like I'm reaching my potential or working toward any goals. See, I don't want a career in retail. Since I've made my non-retail goals clear to everyone above me, they haven't given me opportunities for advancement even though I'm as qualified as or more qualified than those who have been promoted. So...yeah. I'm not going to stay at a job that has me locked into making $8.50 an hour in a non-supervisory position with zero real responsibility despite the fact that I have a college degree.

I started this job because I wanted something easy while pursuing my zookeeper goals. Working has, unfortunately, become my life and the zoo thing is something I can only do a handful of times a month. Also, breaking into the zookeeping field, and particularly getting on at the Montgomery Zoo, is apparently super difficult. Openings are few and far between. I have no idea when I would even be able to apply for a position, let alone get it.

So now I'm looking for a desk job that pays better money than I make now, with nice, normal hours. I'm freaking sick of 4 am.

That's long enough. I'm exhausted and I have to go to the zoo tomorrow morning. PLUS my mom and sister are on heir way to visit and help tie up some wedding things. Bed time.
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Wedding Planning...is 4 months out really THAT last-minute? (edited) [January 5th, 2008,10:27 pm]
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That wedding community is making me insecure. They act like everyone should have everything booked a year in advance. Sorry I don't work like that. This is the girl who wrote nearly all her English papers the night before they were due, and STILL got an A on every single one.

Our wedding isn't going to be massive. It isn't going to be tens of thousands of dollars. I bet the most expensive thing will be my dress (and it's not even that expensive a far as dresses go - no more than $600). Actually, photography may be more than that, but we'll see. EDIT: Okay, yeah, holy hell. Photography is DEFINITELY the most expensive thing. It'll easily be $1500+. Yikes.

I know I should've looked into venues sooner, but, well, I didn't. So now I am. Don't tell me I'm getting a late start; I already know that.

Here are my tentative plans:
  • Ceremony location: In a church. We're looking into nearby Lutheran churches (we have about 7 to choose from). So far, the first one we called has some May dates available, but we won't know which until next week.
  • Ceremony decor: Pew bows, a few white flower arrangements at/on altar. White unity candle set. No aisle runner or flower petals.
  • Service: traditional Lutheran wedding service, no communion, traditional vows (with some wording tweaks).
  • Officiant: chosen church's pastor.
  • Ceremony music: traditional/classical pieces on piano/organ (depending on chosen church's facilities); performed by church's musician(s). No solos.
  • Date: May 17th, 2008. This can change. I don't want it to, but it can if all else fails. I'm going to look at all Lutheran churches with that date open before I make a date change. Other options: May 31st, or sometime in July or later. If earlier works, I may be able to finagle that (sometime in April after Easter).
  • Times: Ceremony around 2 pm, reception around 3 or 3:30 pm (after wedding party pictures).
  • Wedding party: Danielle (Maid of Honor), Kristen (bridesmaid). Robert's choice for Best Man, one groomsman, and probably 2 ushers. No ringbearer or flower girls. Both our sets of parents. Grandparents, if they're able to attend. No additional speakers/readers during ceremony.
  • Guest list size: Medium, 50-100 people (more will be invited). I'm really unsure as to how many people from my family will make the trip down south (from KY and IN), but I don't think there would be any more than 50 of them, probably a lot less. Robert's family is local, but much smaller.
  • Invitations: Simple, classy. Printed by someone we know. Similar to the Genteel template on MS Publisher. Cream-colored with black-only ink. My mom's in charge of creating the invite list for our side; Robert needs to get with his parents about their side.
  • Photography: average package, nothing extravagant. Okay, we might have to splurge here. Ceremony, post-ceremony wedding party shots, and cake-cutting and champagne toast at reception. No videography (or done by Robert's coworkers).
  • Rings: Channel-set round-cut diamond band in 14 ct white gold for me, simple solid metal band for Robert (he wants something sturdy).
  • My attire: Strapless satin A-line gown with Silver beading on bodice, skirt, and train in white. I tried this on at David's Bridal, but I haven't gotten it yet. I have to figure out jewelry (I want to wear the pearls that Robert gave me, and I want some matching earrings), undergarments, and veil/blusher before I make the decision. It is TOTALLY my dream dress though. White strappy heels. Garter set: one to wear and one to toss.
  • My flowers: large-ish bouquet of lilies/Calla lilies/some other large white flower (7-10 blooms, minimal greenery). Probably tied with green ribbons. Smaller and more compact toss-bouquet.
  • Bridesmaid attire: DB chiffon strapless BM dress in Clover (both Danielle and Kristen picked this style). Probably dyed-to-match shoes. Minimal jewelry, maybe a matching necklace and earrings.
  • BM flowers: smaller bouquet of whatever flower I have (3-5 blooms).
  • Robert's attire, Groomsmen attire: Black tux or suit, haven't decided yet. Classic white collared shirts. Clover accents (tie, vest/cummerbund).
  • Boutonnieres (all men) and corsages (mothers): something small and white with a little greenery/ribbon.
  • Reception location: church facilities, if available, or hotel conference room. Dependent on ceremony location.
  • Reception decor: Semi-formal. White table-linens, small centerpieces (some combination of greenery, minimal flowers, simple glass vases/bowls, water, stones, candles/tealights), no assigned seating except wedding party table. Disposable napkins/plates/silverware/champagne flutes in green, white, and/or clear.
  • Reception food: Finger-food platters, hors d'oeuvres, chicken, BBQ, etc. Some possibly catered. All buffet-style and not full meal. No alcohol, except champagne toast (if allowed by venue; sparkling cider if not). Tea, soda, and punch for beverages.
  • Reception music: No DJ; use MP3 playlists and rent sound system, lighting, and dance floor if needed.
  • Cake: no more than 3-tiered; bottom two tiers different flavors - chocolate or red velvet and white with white or buttercream frosting. Sheet cake to supplement tiers if needed. Traditional topper. Decorated with minimal green and floral accents. Probably done by chain grocery, as the flavors/decorations are nothing unusual.
  • Favors: Not sure yet, but will probably be DIY. Bubbles with green ribbon instead of rice/birdseed.
That's all I can think of right now. But don't I have it pretty well planned out in my head? I have general ideas; now it's just time to find the correct people to make them into reality. And I think it's entirely possible to plan our whole wedding in 4 months.

EDIT: Someone on a different wedding site pointed out some things I left out (and I remembered a few things myself).
  • Hair stylist/makeup artist: Need to find one or both of these and schedule a time to try them out before the wedding. Leaning toward a half-updo with maybe some curls. Simple, fresh makeup. (I may just do this myself, as I wear little makeup to begin with. I'm not a fan of eyeliner or lipstick - I feel like I don't look like "me" with them on.)
  • Transportation: Unless there's extra money in the (as yet theoretical) budget at the end, there won't be a limo for before or after the wedding. We'll probably dress at the church, if they have spaces for that, and use our own vehicles.
  • Ceremony programs: Likely by the same person doing invites. Similar style and colors.
  • Guest book(s) and pen(s): Definitely need at least one set. Depending on reception location, we may need two to avoid rushing the ceremony one over.
  • Honeymoon: I want to go to Disney World, but we're going to have to postpone that due to financial and scheduling constraints. So, we're taking a mini-moon instead, probably the weekend after the wedding. No plans yet, but I was thinking domestic beach or somewhere in TN. We may book a hotel room for our wedding night in town.
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2007 In Review [January 1st, 2008,03:21 pm]
So it's 2008. That's crazy. I guess I'll do a recap of '07 like everyone else.

It was my most eventful year possibly ever.

  1. Became financially independent

    On financial independence: It's a double-edged sword. It's empowering to be in control, but it's also stressful.


  2. Acquired ~15k in student loan debt

    Student loans suck. Sallie Mae eats my soul. See my blogger for the lowdown on my finances.


  3. Turned 23

    Twenty-three is old. Not really old, but still old.


  4. Got engaged

    I love Robert, my ring, and the prospect of spending forever with him. :) But, planning the wedding...well...


  5. Graduated from college

    So I finally got my degree. And I'm still not using it. A BS in Zoology without experience is surprisingly unhelpful in Montgomery.


  6. Bought a (used) car

    I have transportation again! Hopefully my '92 Honda Accord will last me quite awhile (it still has under 100k miles on it).


  7. Volunteered at the raptor center for a month

    I'd helped out there in Fall '05 as well. I wish I'd done it more; I really liked it. Cutting up frozen thawed rats was so cool in a gross way.


  8. Got rejected from my dream job

    Apparently a bachelors degree =/= 6 months of experience at the zoo. Not even close. THAT makes sense.


  9. Got a (crappy, semi-temporary) job

    Retail (surprise, surprise) also sucks. At least I'm getting benefits now.


  10. Moved to Prattville to live with Robert

    I was tired of living alone. And our apartment is pretty sweet. Next step: a house with a fully-fenced yard.


  11. Started volunteering at the zoo

    Since I need 6 months experience to be hired, I spend 4 hours a week feeding and cleaning the cages of small mammals, reptiles, and birds. They're about as exotic as anything you can buy at Petsmart. I do enjoy it though.


  12. Began repaying my student loans

    Ouch is all I can say.


  13. Started to plan our wedding

    STRESS. MUCH STRESS. My mom and sister visited recently and helped me out, so at least I'm not alone. Date's still tentatively set for May 17th, 2008, pending site availability.

So that's 2007 for ya. Overall, I'm satisfied with where I am to start 2008. I accomplished some goals and made progress toward accomplishing others. The coming year looks to be very eventful too. I may make another post outlining the goals and plans for '08.

Happy New Year!

ETA: Auburn football highlights of 2007 must be included. We beat Florida, Bama (six in a row, what what), and, last night, Clemson in the Chick-fil-a Bowl in OT. While we only ended the season 9-4, it was still a decent year for us. And I've yet to see us lose to Bama.
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Happiness is all in the perspective. [November 1st, 2007,01:49 pm]
I guess I really am an overachiever. I'd always kind of denied it. Yes, I've been reasonably successful at most everything I've tried my hand at; and, yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to some (okay, MANY) things. I just didn't realize how focused I can be on reaching my full potential and achieving my goals.

My last post put it into perspective for me upon rereading it.

Just because I don't have my dream job and oodles of money less than 6 months after graduating college doesn't mean I should be so discouraged and embarrassed about my current career/financial state. I'm not the first person to take a job they're overqualified for. I'm not the first person to make less money than they think they should. And I'm certainly not the first person to work doing something unrelated to their studies and not their "passion." Even though some people are fortunate enough to find THE job right out of school, I know I'm not the only one who didn't. At least I know what job I want and will have access to it once I gain the requisite (and in this case, unpaid) experience, however fair or unfair that may be.

Sometimes it's hard for me to look on the bright side when, as I wrote in my last entry, I feel like a failure for not living up to my potential. Going through school, I was always above average (just not as high above in college as I was in high school). I had big dreams, like so many people. While college didn't go exactly as planned, I still made it and completed the first step on my path to greatness. The second step wasn't set in stone, but it certainly didn't involve moving to Prattville and working at Target. However, my parents couldn't afford for me to sponge off them financially anymore, so an unpaid internship was out of the question, regardless of location. Dreams always take a back seat to finances.

When I really sit down and think about everything I have, rather than just sulking about what I don't have (yet), it makes me feel incredibly blessed. I'm engaged to a wonderful guy who loves me exactly as I am and who has stood by me through thick and thin. I get to go to sleep beside him every night and wake up next to him every morning. I have a job. I don't love it, but I don't hate it. It doesn't pay well, but it pays something and will provide me with medical benefits before long. When that's combined with Robert's income, we're comfortably middle class and don't have to worry about bills or spending an extra $20 here or there. I have a car that works. It may be far from new, but it gets me where I need to go and it's mine, free and clear. I have Luna, who is like my baby, and who gives me unconditional love and my "animal fix" whenever I need it. I'm not going to lie and up the sap factor exponentially by saying, "I'm the luckiest girl in the world!" If I were, I'd have several million dollars and a dream job in addition to everything else I'm thankful for. But I am pretty damn fortunate to have everything that I do have. I know plenty of people aren't so lucky.

Right now, I'm happy. However, I'm not content to remain at this point in my career. I'm still driven to succeed and achieve and go out and get that job. I just understand it will take time, and that I shouldn't be discouraged because I can't have it NOW NOW NOW. It's not that I hate my current job or my coworkers or think I'm better than any of them because of my education. I just feel like I'm better than that job. No, I KNOW that I'm better than that job. And knowing that I can do more with my life than this is what bothers me the most. It's not that I'm disappointing other people; it's that I'm disappointing myself.

Would I possibly have access to a zoology/zookeeping career immediately in another city? Perhaps. Is it worth giving up any or all of my other blessings for? Absolutely not. I'd rather have a temporarily unfulfilling career and the love of my life than my dream job and nothing else. And before too long, if things go the way I'm hoping, I won't have to choose anymore and I'll have happiness on all fronts. That's my dream and goal for the future: a fulfilling career in addition to marital bliss, not in place of. And that's a goal I know I can reach.
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(no subject) [October 22nd, 2007,03:42 pm]
I'm rather dissatisfied with a good portion of my life right now.

The real world pretty much blows. It's a lot harder to make friends (and not just acquaintances) outside of college. It's also weird to be a "grownup" and not feel like you're in the same figurative place anymore as your college friends.

I feel like a failure on the career front, but hopefully that won't last too much longer. With any luck, I'll be a docent by next month. And I don't know if I'll stick around in retail for much longer or try to find a better (but still unrelated to zoology) job in Montgomery. We get by on the money we make now, but it'd be nice to have more for savings/wedding/honeymoon/house down payment.

Things at home are pretty good. It's strange to have a new home all of a sudden; home isn't my parents' house anymore. I feel like a burden to Robert sometimes because I can be needy about spending time with him. I want him to have his friends-time, but it's hard when I don't have friends here to hang out with. So his friends time = my alone time. And, while I need some of that, I've got an overabundance of it now. I'm sure that'll get easier with time too though.

And here's a random revelation: I've discovered what real love is. Real love is not willing Alabama to lose every game, as an Auburn fan, because you know it makes your Bama fan fiance happy to see them win. :)

Oh, my mom brought my keyboard when she and Drew visited. I have music in my life again now, yay!

She also bought us a little chest freezer. I still need to fill it up more.

And we got Robert's parents' old loveseat recliner from their house yesterday, so our living room now has seating for five (not including the folding chairs at the card table or the desk chair)!
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Re: Last night [September 30th, 2007,03:41 pm]
That was quite possibly THE BEST Auburn game I've ever watched on television. Holy crap. War Damn Eagle.
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(no subject) [September 24th, 2007,10:36 am]
I just thought I'd take this time to point out that I'm in love with the new Matchbox 20 song, How Far We've Come. It seriously makes me dance around and sing along every time I hear it. They were playing it on the radio at work before we opened last week. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Here's the music video:

Here are the lyrics. I will memorize them stat.

ETA: Don't watch any of the covers of this song that YouTube suggests to you. Seriously, some of them are AWFUL. I couldn't listen more than a few seconds. Such a perfect song... why do no-talents feel the need to butcher it and spread it about the internets?

EDIT: Bahleeted. Here's the link to main video now. Matchbox 20 is cracking down on internet thieves.
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(no subject) [August 23rd, 2007,09:58 pm]
The date's been set. Mark your calendars. May 17, 2008. Location? Not so much. One step at a time.

One more day of work 'til my weekend off. I should be in bed already. Waking up at 5 am sucks.
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