Monday, July 6, 2015

The First Fourth of July

Fireworks are illegal in California, if you didn't know (I didn't) so when the Fourth of July came up, Justin was super excited to get really good fireworks - legally. He said even the illegal ones didn't do much off the ground. 
We went and got a good bit of fireworks a few days before the 4th - there are stands on every street corner here in Alabama - and let the anticipation of blowing shit up commence.

My uncle, aunt, and cousin from LA came into town so Justin also got to meet them. There's no real way to ease him into this family. We talk about everything pretty openly in this family and from what I understand, Justin's family was a bit more reserved. So when my grandma brought down penis shot glasses and my uncle was talking about BDSM, well, then it was a true family holiday. Justin handled it really well. It was a good day and the family members he met seemed to like him and vice versa. So we all swam and cooked out and drank too much, and then took a break for a few hours to gear up for the fireworks.
Sparklers are my favorite thing about the 4th, so we did those early and then when it was darker we busted out the goods and the lighters and let Justin have some fun.
There was a huge roman candle that he held and it shot off 144 times in a row. We had bottle rocket wars and shot off a lot of other stuff too. He had never experienced a lot of the stuff we got and he was like a kid in a candy store - so adorable.
It was just a good day and a good first 4th of July for him.
It was nice to watch the other neighbor's fireworks together and just enjoy the day together and with some great family members.

Inspired by this LDR Writing Prompt: Defining Moment

Monday, June 29, 2015

Little Photography Adventure

Oddly enough, Justin and I have never been on a real date. Nope. Not one. Unless you count grocery shopping, but I don't. We just kind of fell into a routine at home doing daily things. There was never really a point to "date" when he got here. That doesn't mean date nights don't need to happen in the future, it's just something that hasn't really worked out yet with Emmy and his new work's schedule.
But I do think little adventures are just as fun and as important. I ran errands the other day and on my way home I passed a neighbor that recently got a small herd of horses. I hurried home, grabbed my camera and Justin and off we went to play a little.
There was a donkey in there that wanted to take Justin home. He came up to him once Justin held his hand out, smelled him and just hung out. A couple of the horses ignored us for the most part, but the Palomino (my favorite horse) came up to me (and Justin, once he left his donkey BFF) and let us pet him some. The lip up is my favorite horse expression, so I'm really glad I caught that.
I'm a little rusty with my camera. It's one hobby I've let slip since I got Emmy because I can't take her with me on little day trips because of her car phobia, and I can't leave her in her crate for very long. So I'm limited right now without a pup-sitter. But in the near future I hope to either get out more or be able to take her. I do miss the creative bug biting me.
And Justin really enjoyed it and wants to come along a lot more often. He's not a big picture taker, but he likes exploring as much as I do and likes being a part of things that I enjoy.
< 3

It was nice (and creepy) being alone on a back road with horses (and horses that actually came up to us) and him, just exploring a little and taking pictures. A mid-afternoon mini adventure. Short and sweet and many more needed!

Inspired by this LDR Writing Prompt: Date Night

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summertime So Far

 (The background is where it's about here, haha!)

It's nice having Justin here even though he hates the heat (but who doesn't?). It gets hotter than here in California but our humidity is amazing (not really) and we get heat advisories a lot because a 90 degree day can feel way over 100 easily - and you're sticky almost immediately when you leave the house because of the humidity. Don't bother with hair products here. Messy buns all Summer.
It's so cute to watch Justin and Zoe in the pool. She wants him to go to the deep end with her, play with her, throw her (like 30 times in a row) into the water like she's some kind of baby cheerleader. It's nice to see them get along so well. When she's here and he's at work she asks about him constantly and wants to know if she can draw him pictures or when he'll be back or what his favorite color is. So. Cute.

I finally got to go to Justin's work and hang out a little. It was jam packed when I went, no tables left so a lot of people were standing, and really loud because it's a fairly small place and there were a lot of people. I got to meet some of his bosses and coworkers and everyone was really nice. The next morning I woke up to FB requests from some of them. That was weird (in a good way) because when he lived in California, no one wanted anything to do with me. None of his "best friends" (that ended up basically shaming the relationship and never supporting us) ever added me on social media. His sister did (cannot wait to meet her) and then once he moved here some of his now old co-workers added me on a few sites. Not sure why they waited to add me until after Justin moved away.
But his work reuses a lot of local stuff, which I think is amazing. We had an old plant get torn down and this place took the old bricks from the building and built their bar out of them. A lot of wood in the store is either local, reused signs from other places, and I think the top of the bar was made by people in halfway houses who are trying to get back on the right track. I love when things have a story behind them like that.
It's also dog friendly, which is kind of rare around here. Most places will allow dogs outside at a table but never inside the store. Hopefully one day Emmy will be settled enough around the car and strangers and I can take her down there so I can drink and she can mingle.

This has been a pretty crazy Summer so far. Lots of pool parties, grilling out, and having friends over. Friends that haven't met Emmy, that is, so most of my 'party time' has been wrangling her and explaining that she's growling out of fear not aggression. It's so stressful and embarrassing to have a dog I can't seem to control. She barks/bays nonstop for minutes at a time and it gets on everyone's nerves since they're over to have fun and relax - not get barked at constantly by a dog who refuses to be quiet and listen. Beyond frustrating and I feel that no one really helps me with her when I need it in moments like that. Everyone ends up almost yelling at me and asking why I'm not doing anything - but I'm TRYING so damn hard and nothing seems to work. Didn't help that Justin worked during those crazy moments so I didn't really have any backup. It's just hard to handle her alone all the time. I feel like such a failure with her almost constantly. Does this get better?

Inspired by this LDR Writing Prompt: Happiness

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Raising Emmy: ThunderShirt Success

I had heard a lot of good things about the ThunderShirt but man, I had no idea just how good it really is. I wish I would've bought this the day I took Emmy home from the shelter.
Usually she's quite nervous on walks when strangers, kids, and other dogs are around. She loves other dogs but gets overexcited to the point where her stomach gets upset.
She had gotten to the point where she refused to walk by three houses because some kids had run out wanting to pet her and she hit the pavement and growled in fear while I explained to the kids that they couldn't pet her because she was still very scared of people she didn't know.
She still has a huge car phobia even though I've been taking her on a short ride daily. Sometimes it's to a empty schoolyard and she can run and track, other times it's just a short drive around the block and sometimes I'll have someone drive us down the road and then I'll walk her home. I'm trying to get it in her head that the car equals going somewhere fun and nothing bad ever happens (until she goes to the vet, that is).
So we were struggling pretty hard in a lot of areas. She's very insecure and has little confidence which adds to her fear.

Enter, ThunderShirt. PetsMart had a deal where if you got the shirt you got the pheromone spray for free. I had heard good things about those sprays, too, so I finally gave in and got both because I was at my wits end with her.

The first evening I put it on her, sprayed the pheromones on the shirt's patch and took her for a walk.
She walked right by those three houses she usually panicked in front of. She didn't lunge and bark at the fenced in Dobermans down the road. We walked by a stranger and she growled twice and barked once, then kept walking - usually that would've been panic, growling and barking nonstop, lunging, and then looking over her shoulder in fear for several minutes after they passed by.

I took her to the schoolyard the next day again with the shirt and spray. She didn't whine or get car sick on the ride there, she walked much calmer but she did throw up on the ride home (but hey, I'll take one puke cleanup over two any day).

When I spray the pheromones on a blanket on the couch she hops right on it and passes the hell out. She just visibly looks more relaxed. When we used it (I just ran out and ordered more STAT!) everyone noticed a huge difference in her. She just settles down, is relaxed, doesn't nip much, she listens better. It's very nice.

We had company come over to swim and she's met them before but usually growls, won't let the man pet her or come near her, and she hides under a chair the whole time.
I put the ThunderShirt and spray on her a few minutes before they arrived as well as the spray around the house some.
She growled once when they first came in, never barked, and once we were outside she actually went up to them and let everyone pet her. She didn't hide under a chair, either, she laid in the grass and hung out.
It's like a different dog. She's so much calmer with the spray alone but I notice a difference with both used at the same time too. 
It's been really hot lately, too hot for the shirt on walks, so I'll use the spray on her collar and I still notice major differences on walks.

It's made a huge difference for me dealing with her, but it makes more of a difference to her because she's more relaxed and that's a big deal for a rescue dog.

I need to buy that spray in bulk. 

ALSO, I love her 'Nervous' leash I found on Amazon. It's great because when she growls now most people say, 'Aww, poor thing' instead of glaring at me for walking a 'mean dog.' She's not mean or aggressive, she's scared, so this leash is perfect. It also makes some cars slow down and no one has asked me if they can pet her since I got it. So great since we're still working on a ton of issues! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Missing Him Again and Other Adjustments

It's been a little weird since Justin got his job. We went from being with each other just about 24/7 for a bit over a month and we could talk and watch movies and hang out or go grocery shopping, etc., and he helped me out with Emmy a lot and now things have gotten shaken up. It's weird to re-adjust.
He leaves the house for work in the early afternoon and sometimes isn't home until almost midnight - unless they all get food or hang out after work, then it's later. With Emmy, I usually go to bed by 11 because she's up for the day by 7 no matter if I try to keep her up later or not. So lately when he works, we don't get to tell each other goodnight and I don't get to hear about how work went.
When I ask in the morning it's usually just like, "It was OK" or "Slow, but good" which isn't exactly what I'm looking for (a conversation) so that's a little frustrating too.
It's odd having him gone for up to 10 hours some days when I was just settling in to him being around all the time. Now we both have to re-adjust schedules and do things early in the day because most of our evenings aren't free to be together.
He doesn't get to walk Emmy with me anymore, he misses dance recitals and has to leave in the middle of parties, we don't eat supper together anymore. Some nights everyone else is gone and I can't go anywhere because of Emmy and her crate phobia, so I've ended up home alone a lot lately. It's nice sometimes but other times it's just really depressing.
These are all small things when you look at the big picture, I'm aware of that, but for us everything is still so new that I do miss that little routines we had at night.
One other thing I hate to admit is that I'm almost jealous of his new job. It's so perfect for him and he likes it and the people (he got two promotions in one week even!) and here I am, still getting rejection letters from magazines and agents and finding myself at writing dead ends over and over again to the point of thinking of quitting. He found something he loves in just a month of looking and I've been trying for years now to break out of self-publishing with no luck.

It's been hard talking about some things in person because we were a text/phone couple for almost three years and now instead of writing our feelings down (which is always easier than speaking them) we talk about things face to face. When issues come up, I can't just ignore his texts; I have to talk to him about what's going on. And I do, but his responses are pretty short so I just quit talking. Over text he would offer great advice, but in person...I don't know what's going on. That's been harder for him than me, I think. He acted strangely for over a week and finally I asked what the hell was going on and he finally admitted to how stressed out he had been over a job and other things but had been trying to hide it so I didn't worry. He would do things like that when we were still 3,000 miles away but now that we're in person it influences our relationship way more. When he gets really stressed he doesn't talk much so when I kept asking if he was okay and he said yeah, my mind started wandering to the possibilities of why he was actually acting weird. Was it me? Did I spend one too many days in my yoga pants? Is he having second thoughts? And the worst ones: Was there a girl at work? Was there a girl back in California he was talking to?
Our relationship got a little strained during the job hunt and even after he got the job. We haven't talked much lately even though we live in the same house. When we do it's generic small talk that makes me want to rip my hair out. It's just been weird lately, and I don't like it, and I don't know how to fix it.

I'm sure I sound selfish on many levels instead of being grateful for what we do have, and I am grateful, but sometimes it's good (very good) to vent a little about the small things so you can move on and focus on the bigger picture.

Inspired by this LDR Writing Prompt: Fears

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Little Bit of Luck

Since Justin got here his main stressor has been a job. It took a month which, I think, was pretty quick considering the economy and the field he wanted, etc., but he thought that was too long. It was pretty cool how it all worked out. I'm a huge believer in "everything happens for a reason" and this seemed to be one of those moments.
First of all, you should know that Justin is a huge beer nerd. Like, huge. The boy knows everything about everything beer. Talking to him about beer is like talking to me about dogs. That conversation will go on for hours.
So, when he moved here he really wanted to work at a brewery or a beer shop and not go back into the food industry that he had been in back in California. So, he applied at a couple of breweries and had an interview at one but they hired someone else. He was really bummed about that so he found a local upscale bar that was hiring a lot of people. It was food industry, so he didn't really want to work there and I didn't want him to be stuck in a job he hated.
He interviewed there, they loved his resume and asked him in for a second interview. Meanwhile, I found a few more beer-related places he hadn't checked out yet. He went in for the second interview and, surprise, the guy had the day off - and forgot to call Justin.
So he left, pissed that he wasted his time because someone forgot to call him, and headed to one of the places I found, a bottle shop.
Enter...fate? Coincidence? Destiny? Whatever you want to call it.
The bottle shop had been opened for one month and the guys hadn't hired help yet. They were all pushing 80 hours a week and were in dire need of help. In fact, the next day they had planned to post that they were hiring.
They liked his resume, but what really sealed it was all his beer knowledge. Everyone there clicked, he absolutely loves the shop and today is his second day of training - work starts next week!

I just love how odd it all was. The timing, the lack of that second interview at the bar (which I know he would have taken and hated), the bottle shop in need of help, just everything. So amazing. So he has a job and so far it's perfect and he's super in love with it.

Meanwhile on my end, I never mentioned that I've been on trial basis with a publishing house doing reviews for the submission department. I found out the day after Justin got his job that they're keeping me on after the trial basis - so I have a job now, too! My income will be based on how many books I review and how long the books are, but it's something. It's in my field, I'm getting paid to read, I love it, and I'm making more than I was before this so I'm pretty excited.

Two jobs in two days - both jobs we wanted. So grateful!

Inspired by this LDR Writing Prompt: Defining Moment

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Month in Alabama

Today marks one full month that Justin has been in Alabama - wow. I could post about how this month has been for me, but I thought it would be more interesting - and better fitting - if I had Justin write out what it's been like to live in Alabama for a month. After all, he's gone from a California city where he could walk almost everywhere to my small Alabama town where you could walk to the post office but it would take you like an hour - you have to drive everywhere. He's gone from city lights to fireflies and constant sirens to neighbor kids laughing in the quiet neighborhood. I'm sure it's been a big adjustment, but he seems to be handling it well and I can't wait to read what he writes.

So, let's see...


Today marks my first month in Alabama and what a month it has been. New people, new places, and so many stores I've never heard of. But best of all, I'm with my wonderful girlfriend. It's surreal, in a way, finally being together. I still find myself thinking it's a dream or forgetting I'm not getting back on a plane and going back to California. I'm here for good. We're together at last and I love it! She's been so supportive and helpful with me adjusting. She even cleared out a drawer for me in the bathroom! Things haven't been going 100% how I would have liked them, though. I hoped to have a job by now and be able to support us, but that's proven to be far more difficult than I thought. It's my biggest stressor. I think about it constantly and it makes me feel like a failure. But then there she is, hugging me and telling me it'll be OK. If it wasn't for her, I'd be going insane. I've had a few interviews, including one tomorrow. I just hope it works out. But I know that no matter what, she has my back. I'm excited for the future. I'm excited for OUR future. I'm so happy to feel like part of a family again. And her family is amazing. Her parents are awesome and supportive and helpful. I'm endlessly grateful for them letting me stay with them while I get everything situated. I'm also glad that they like me. That's a very good thing. It's such a great feeling, being able to hold Brittany and be there for her when she's anxious or sad. I love being together. Little things like grocery shopping and cleaning mean so much more because we're together. I love being able to surprise her with flowers in person, rather than having them delivered. I can go on forever about this stuff, but it would never convey how much I love being with her. This move has been long overdue and even though some things aren't going as planned, I will never regret it. I'm with the woman I love and so happy. I can't wait to see what the future holds.