November marked my third year in Chicagoland and it was also the month Nick received word that he would be returning to Dubuque. His stint as an outside sales rep is officially over and we are going “home” very soon.

It’s an odd thing, that word home.

A sense of home was something I felt when I was a very young child, but the sporadic violence and instability of my adolescent and teenage years made it difficult for me to ever be truly at home in rural northwest Iowa. Then, there are these other places I’ve dwelled like Vermillion, South Dakota (undergrad, grad school, booze), Des Moines (transition period, living in my dad’s basement, allergy attacks from living with seven cats), and the Chicago ‘Burbs (my shacking up/married life with Nick and my life in constant traffic).

However, as Nick and I drove back to Dubuque over the Christmas holiday, taking the same highway I drove seven years ago to a job interview, I felt an overwhelming sense of home. I am returning to friends, to family, and to a true community. I will miss some of my Chicago life, but it doesn’t compare to my excitement upon retuning to Dubuque.


Our cottage in the Chicago suburbs. The spare bedroom contains what we affectionately refer to as “the jail bathroom”.

See you in a couple weeks, Dubuque!

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This is a photo of my youngest brother and me when I was about sixteen. There are very few photos of us together, so having this one makes me happy.


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Saying good night to my twenties…

When I wake up tomorrow, I will be thirty. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Eat Beef…because the West wasn’t won on salad…

This slogan was one of the many bumper stickers my grandpa had plastered on the back of his classic junker cars. If he were alive today, I have to wonder what he would think of my participation in Veguary.  Since he was a poor Nebraska farmer who raised pigs and cattle, my guess is that he’d curse a lot and grab my nose with his boulder-like hands and shake my face vigorously. That was his signature Grandpa move.

Veguary has reached  its halfway point and I am starting to consider whether or not I want Veguary to evolve into full-time vegetarianism. Even though I am far away from the small-town farming community where I was raised, the cultural stigma of being a vegetarian within an economy that relies so heavily upon animal products still sits uneasily within in me.  By banishing meat from my diet, am I betraying my roots? And, furthermore, does that really matter?

I have a couple more weeks of Veguary to weigh these questions and decide for myself. In the end, I have to do what I feel is right for the environment and what is right for my health and well-being.

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All About My Mother

Ever since my mother and I attended our joint counseling session last December, my perspective about our relationship has been slowly changing. Through my own counseling, I realized that I have taken too much responsibility in trying to improve her situation while damaging my well-being, my finances, and my relationships. What’s more astounding is that I have been doing this for a decade.

As for my mother’s current well-being, it has not improved since our initial session. She will not go back to her counselor and she is still showing every symptom of a serious depression. I want to help her, but I now know that it’s not possible if she does not want help.  I have been conditioned to pick up the pieces everytime something shatters and now I’m reconditioning myself to enlist others to help, so I am not carrying all of the burden and worry.

Easier said than done, but what a massive relief!

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A Healthy Start to Veguary

Today is the official start to Veguary! I love that we are going vegetarian for the month of February. It seems like a fun way to try out some new foods and get healthier. I have to say that I feel much better tonight than I did after my gorging of a bacon cheeseburger and fries with truffle mayo last night. 

Here’s what I ate today:

Breakfast: Puffins Cereal with milk

Lunch: Baked potato; baby lettuce with strawberries, avocado, and a blush vinaigrette. 

Dinner: Red coconut curry with broccoli, red peppers, onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, and potatoes with basmati rice.

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2012 Hopes

The first real snow has arrived in D’s G (that’s my suburb speak for Downers Grove) and I was busily working from home today when I realized that I have not written my ritual “Good-bye last year. Hello this year” post. 2011 was year a year full of joy, new challenges, and some family conflict. Here is want I want to do better in 2012:

I hope…

to savor the events of 2012 rather than just marking them off like another item on my task list.

to work on being a better friend. I’ve been so wrapped up in work and adjusting to my new surroundings that I’m not maintaining my friendships well.  

to make some serious career decisions. My fifth-year anniversary of corporate servitude was celebrated in December and that milestone is weighing heavily on my mind. I began working where I do because I wanted to do something that was related to what I loved…writing, literature, and education. What I quickly found was that while my position might seem related at first glance, most of my daily duties have more to do with project management and taking care of budgets and invoices. The eighteen year-old version of myself is screaming, “How the f*&% did this happen?”

to work toward being greener and healthier. These two things have fallen by the wayside since we moved to the ‘burbs.

to plan and more importantly celebrate a meaningful, beautiful, and fun wedding. We’re well on our way with that one…

Now, I just need to execute on these items! Cheers to 2012!

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