Lola, Seattle, USA

A belated Happy New Year to all of you on Thirty Voices.
I spent the long New Year’s weekend on the Washington state coast. While I’ve lived in Seattle since July 2006, I hadn’t yet made the three-hour drive to the ocean.
It’s kinda muddy. And rocky. And dangerous. Nothing like the sandy beaches of California or Florida. But, I welcomed 2008 in a cozy cottage, with my boyfriend and two very good friends. We cooked, we drank and played games. And slept in.
bf looking at ocean
 I’m not much into resolutions, but I set a few goals for myself in the new year. The overall one is to be healthy – physically, mentally, financially.
So far, I haven’t exercised, had too many drinks and put everything I bought the past week on credit card. I figure I will do better next week. Gotta ease into these things.
Best wishes to all of you in ’08.
Lola, 33, in Seattle

(In response to the Challenge No. 4: Communication)

I’m a very plugged-in person.

I check my e-mail (a lot). I love texting. And I’m usually the winner of IM draw-offs.

Since many of my friends live in the Midwest, it’s important for me to keep in touch with them. I talk to one of my best friends in Wisconsin almost every day, just for a few minutes over the lunch hour. And even though I see them at home, I’m often texting and e-mailing my two roommates.

So, it’s been a bit of a challenge to date someone who has 1). Never sent an e-mail. 2). Does not have a cell phone.

And yet, he somehow manages to be a happy person.

For me, it’s been challenging. But I must admit, it’s also a relief. My ex took his BlackBerry CAMPING, which drove me crazy. And he’d check e-mails and sports scores while out on a date. With The Chef, I have his full attention – no electronic interference.

Not being in touch throughout the day means planning ahead (remember those days?). So, if I tell him I’ll see him tomorrow at 9 p.m., that’s the plan – no quick call to say I’m running late or to change the location. And not having constant communication means being secure and trusting the relationship. If I don’t hear from him, I don’t jump to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to date anymore. It just means he hasn’t gotten to a phone.

I’ve thought about setting him up with an e-mail account (I mean, they’re free) that he could check at work, in between the lunch and the dinner crowds at the restaurant. But that would be for my sake. I don’t want to change him. I don’t want to make him someone he’s not.

Now, I have a new job and yet another cell phone. So while he doesn’t even have a phone, I have two PDA phones that let me check work Outlook e-mail, my personal e-mail and text away like crazy on full keypads. But when I’m with him, I silence the ringer and stuff them deep into my purse. He’s taught me that living in the moment with the person you’re with makes you more connected than any piece of technology.

Lola, 33, Seattle

Tomorrow is my last day at my job. It’s actually been a good job. It’s the job that got me from Indianapolis to Seattle last summer, following my divorce. The job with kind bosses and fun co-workers. A small, casual office with half-day Fridays on beautiful spring weather days, and mid-day golf outings in the summer.

I am comfortable at this job. And I could do this job in my sleep (some early morning shifts, I did just that). But I decided I’m too young to be comfortable – and bored – at a job. Too young to be lazy. And at the same time, too old to be at a zero-advancement job with no dental insurance.

So, I quit.

I start my new job on Monday. A corporate job. A job with tough bosses and demanding clients. A job that might result in end-of-the-day tears in my car. A job where I can’t be hungover in the mornings. I can’t just roll into the office in jeans, flip-flops and an old T-shirt (which has become my uniform).

This is a new direction for my career, a totally different path than I ever envisioned for myself. But I’m living a much different life than I ever dreamed.

 Today in Seattle

 (This morning in Seattle … a view from my neighborhood. You can see the top of Mt. Rainier through the buildings).

Lola, 33, ready to get to work in Seattle

Today is my 33rd birthday.

It’s been a good year. Since my last birthday, I quit my job, sold most of my stuff and moved across the country to Seattle. I’ve met some wonderful new friends, I started dating post-divorce and now find myself with a great boyfriend. I’m writing for myself, not just for my job. And most importantly, I’m happy.

Sure, there are a few things I’d like to change. I’d like to work out more, eat better. Perhaps drink less. (Perhaps).  All in due time.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this site,  You can e-mail your Future Self an e-mail. I’ve done it for the past two New Year’s (to be read the following year), and I’m thinking about compiling one to read on my 40th birthday.

I know that’s seven years off, but I wonder where I’ll be. Will I be married again? Kids? Will I be in Seattle? Will I remember everything that happened the year I was 32?

Seven years ago I was 26. I barely remember myself then. I would love to open up an e-mail today from that Past Self.

In the meantime, I guess I’m not all that grown up. I have my first kickball game of the season tonight!

Lola, 33, Seattle

If I could build a time machine (not a TYME* machine), I would go back to 1992.

I would tell my 17-year-old self NOT to run for senior class president. I would say, “I know you think it’s going to look good on your “resume” but honestly, you’ve already been accepted to college and no one is going to care.” (I would also tell myself to start toning down the bangs. I still hadn’t let go of 80s hair).

The only time people care about the senior class president is in increments of five years post-graduation. When you’re expected – pretty much by yourself – to organize class reunions.

I am still close to a few high school friends. I talk to them regularly and hang out with them when I’m visiting my parents. But after that, I don’t have a huge desire to hang out with the other 130 kids from Jefferson High School.

Not that high school was a bad experience for me … it was just, well, high school. I wasn’t in the girl clique that got dates, but I wasn’t on the outskirts of popularity. I basically bided my time until college, where I blossomed (and grew out a bad perm). And since then I’ve moved on – 1,914 miles away from the rural Wisconsin town.

Back in 1997, I helped organize a five-year at a bowling alley. I was living in another state at the time and worked weekends at a newspaper. Couldn’t make it. (The news of the night: A historic church burned down from a lightening strike and Princess Diana died).

Then in 2002, we had the big 10-year. With the help of a few friends, we made it a gala event. Rented space at the golf course restaurant and hired a DJ. And we were $300 short in paying the expenses. The majority of people showed up after dinner, so they didn’t have to pay the ticket (therefor not contributing to rental fees and the DJ). We passed a hat to collect some of it, but it was a nightmare that ended up on my credit card.

So now it’s 2007. And I find myself with very little interest in organizing a 15-year-reunion. I’ve suggested to a few people about just meeting at a park, or one of the local taverns. But I’m washing my hands of it.

Was I more of a “leader” in high school than I am now? Maybe. And that’s OK with me. At least I have much better hair now. 

Lola, 32, Seattle

(* TYME: What native Wisconsinites call an ATM. TYME machines were the nation’s first ATMs in the 70s and stand for “Take Your Money Everywhere.” If you’re outside of Wisconsin and say “I need to find a TYME machine” people think you’re an idiot.)

I love signs.

This is my favorite road traffic sign in Seattle. It’s horrifying, yet it makes me laugh every time.


Oh my.

Here’s another favorite, from a road trip last summer. It’s somewhere near the Grand Canyon (I was waving a flag because it was the Fourth of July):


I’m helping a friend move this week.

This is a 26-year-old friend I met last summer when I moved to Seattle and immediately signed up for kickball. (I’ve met some great friends through co-ed kickball). He’s never helped me move, and I hope he won’t have to. When he thanks me – as he has repeatedly – for helping pack up kitchen supplies and carry liquor bottles to the car, I think, “don’t thank me.”

It’s “thanks” to all those friends who helped me move five times in the past couple of years. Those friends I’ll never have a chance to repay because, well, they’re in their 30s and are far more responsible than I am. They are “settled down.” They own homes. They’re starting families. They have enough money to hire movers. They are responsible.

Not me. Not anymore. My ex-husband and I owned a few homes. We had professional movers once. But I’ve regressed. Now I’m a uHaul-and-friends kind of mover, with the promise of pizza and beer at the end of the day.

About 1 1/2 years ago, I relied on family and friends to move me out of my house – fast – once I found out my husband had an affair. And then six months later, they moved me out of my apartment. In the blazing July Midwestern heat, they helped me store furniture, sell off many items and take numerous loads to Goodwill. And then they helped pack my little car, which took me to Seattle with the fewest positions I’ve had in a decade.

Someday I’ll get to the point where I’m paying it forward again. But until then, I have some karma-catching-up to do.

Can I count moving as my exercise for the day? Sadly, my arms are kinda sore ….

Lola, 32, Seattle

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