Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where I've Been

Working. And when not working, at home. I know--riveting.

Last week I threw a fit and told Jason that I want a life. We work so much and rarely get out that it's almost a waste to live here. So, being the Great Fixer, he took me and Lucy hiking. Well, it's not really hiking since we just sort of putzed around the woods, but we did get out and it felt great.

I've also been able to set up a little corner for me to write, read and have some elbow room. Maybe now some of those creative juices will get flowing again. Maybe.

One of the things that has followed me into my little corner is my stack of wedding magazines. Dear god I had no idea how much stuff went into wedding planning. Well, I did have an idea, but that was from the catering/venue/strictly business side of it. Hotel room blocks? Got it. Brie vs. chevre? Totally understand the difference. Attrition, rental agreements and down payments? Check. But veils? Flowers? Center pieces? Save the date cards? Flower girl dresses???? NO. It's all a giant mess in my head. And now it's spilled onto the floor of my corner. In short, the wedding stuff is kind of stressing me out.

I was not the girl who had her dream wedding planned by the age of 12. I was the kid planning her escape to the back woods of Oregon. I was the one fantasizing about leaving Ohio with a cloud of dust trailing a Nissan Xterra (in reality, I left calmly and quietly in my Mercury Sable with my father driving). My room was painted blue and plastered with photos of rivers and mountains, not pink and filled with lace. So no, I am not completely adept when it comes to comparing napkin colors and this lack of vision is starting to become problematic. I know I want it to be classy, fun and memorable, but how does one do that? And how does one do that for less than $10,000?

But that's why there is Ma Chilton and a small army of girlfriends, cousins, aunts and soon-to-be family members to help me through it. Only 48 hours after getting engaged, Ma and I went to Columbus, met up with my fabulous friend, Sarah and her sisters and found my dress. As far as we know, it's a record.

And the reason for the record purchase was that at first Jason and I thought we would rush it and get married this summer. We were just that excited about becoming hubby and wife. But this summer means that we would've had a scant 7 months to plan a destination wedding. So, after rushing through the dress buying phase (and admittedly spending roughly a month wrestling with buyers remorse) and finding a venue only days after getting back to Bozeman, we decided to put the wedding off until summer of 2010. Most people see putting a wedding off as something bad, or perhaps a sign of bad things to come, but for Jay and I it was a huge relief. Both of our mothers blurted out "Oh, thank God!" when we told them, and now many more of our friends and family will be able to attend. For some, the fast approaching date was too soon to get their ducks in a row. So technically, we didn't "put off" the wedding, we simply re-scheduled it.

But now, I've been granted time (lots of time) to turn myself dizzy with magazines, planners, 'helpful' guides and websites. So other than working or hanging out with Jason, I'm pushing my wedding around the floor of my corner. Go me.

In other news Ma and Pa Chilton are in Paris this week celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. I can't tell you how excited I am that they're there. Ma has always wanted to go to Paris and for multiple reasons throughout their marriage the trip was always put off. But now (right this very minute!) my parents are enjoying breakfast in Paris. Knowing my Ma, she has probably told more than one waiter to suck it when it comes to the bad attitude--a sight I would pay top dollar to see.

In all seriousness, I can't think of anything more romantic and amazing for those two. After forty years, they have been through fifteen or so moves, more than one career change, raised two kids, three dogs, five cats, two lizards and one gerbil. They've had ten or more cars, experienced a few car accidents and consequently, they've grown heads full of gray hair. They've had moments of joy, fear, disappointment and hope. And to think it all started with two teenagers meeting in the hallway of their high school. There's this and so much more to say about my parents. But maybe the best way I can sum them up is with a verse from a Willie Nelson song: "I'm going to love you till the wheels fall off".

I hope Jay and I are so lucky.

I love you Mom and Dad!

Cheers,
Nicole

Thursday, December 25, 2008

We're Engaged!

Happy Hanukkah, everyone! Today in front of my parents, my brother and his girlfriend Jason got down on one knee and asked, "Will you?"

AND I SAID YES!!!

So while there aren't any pictures right now (I left the cord to my camera at home) I wanted to send a quick note out anyway to break the news and wish everyone a very happy holiday.

I'm so excited!

Cheers,
Nicole

Monday, December 1, 2008

Turkey Day!

This year Jason and I had three Thanksgivings. Two were spent in Great Falls with Jason's family and one was hosted in our house. Our good friend and roommate Dustin was on his way to India for two months and since he was always so fond of food we thought what better way to say goodbye than with a feast. We had some friends over and after more than a few rounds of charades (and a few glasses of wine) we all sat down to a beautifully prepared dinner cooked by none other than Jason and Dustin (I was conveniently working a shift at the shoe store all day--oops!). Here are some photos from that fun night:



Cheers,
Nicole

Friday, November 14, 2008

Coffee Shop Blues

At the risk of losing my mind, I have left the house. I know, I don't have any money (it's a side effect of unemployment) so what am I doing whipping out the credit card for a $3 cappuccino? It's simple: it's either small, moderate, only slightly unnecessary spending or therapy, which as we all know is way more expensive than over-priced coffee. So there. I'm justified.

When am I going to find a new job?????!!!!! I am SO not okay with uselessness. But I know I am much more lucky than some. I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard some crazy statistic that last month 516,000 people filed for unemployment for the first time in the US. All I could think was that I was one of those people. Yikes. But I still get to work the occasional shift at the shoe store so it's not like I'm without options. And the other thing is that I am not alone. I have a fabulous boyfriend, amazing parents and great friends to help me through. Not to metion that Lucy the Little Pup and Fatty Cat are great, though often-times demanding companions. So while I may be a statistic on NPR, I'm okay.

Back to it.

NC

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

video

Okay, so maybe I'm toeing over the line here. Maybe I'm venturing into the land of the crazy pet owner by posting not only pictures but videos of my dog. Next thing you know I'll be wearing a tee-shirt that spells out "I *heart* my Chineranian" and carrying her around in a pink rhinestone studded purse. But considering that she is only three-pounds and still has a soft spot on her head, I am both proud and astonished that my itty-bitty little dog has learned to fetch!

Jason took this video last night just about the time she was catching on to the whole 'mama throws the ball and I bring it back' scenario. And yes, that is a normal tennis ball that she is carrying.

We're so proud.

Cheers,

Nicole, Jason and Little Lucy

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Undedermined

Still no job. Not yet, at least. I have been really, really lucky in that the shoe store has given me a few relief shifts here and there. It's odd how much I actually like selling shoes but I'm glad for that as well. I'll be heading in for a shift in a little bit. I'm taking a minute to get some coffee and breakfast before starting.

I left work last night and found I had a flat tire (thank you Ma and Dad for AAA Gold Card!!!!). Considering that I drive a Subaru this really sucks because if the tire can't be fixed then all four will have to be replaced. It's an all-wheel drive car so if one tire is worn differently than the rest then it will throw the differential off. It's like wearing one new and one old shoe. The guy that fixed my tire last night was a character: tall, cowboy boots, handlebar mustache and a Stetson hat. He was clearly timing himself and probably had the whole thing done in less than five minutes. Now my car and I are limping around town on a doughnut until I can get it fixed. I'm not sure how much that will cost and frankly I don't think I want to know yet.

Cheers,
NC

Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Old Nemesis...

I went for a second job interview on Tuesday. I put on a great suit, did my hair, applied a little lip gloss and *gasp* donned a pair of nylons. Such are the lengths I will go to earn a paycheck.... Anyway, I also prepared in my head a list of questions that I might be asked and then I answered them, just to practice. I recited to myself the answer to my least favorite question: "what would you say your greatest weakness is?". I came up with a list of questions I had about the company: how would I be evaluated? What is their turn over? Is the complimentary coffee in the break room from Farmers Brothers or Starbucks?

But when I got there I was led to a small room and presented with a three-page math test. Yeah. I was not prepared for this. I had gone there thinking I was going to be interviewed. Silly me.

Didn't this company believe in calculators? Didn't they see on my resume that I did in fact graduate from high school and college? Isn't that proof enough that I can do basic math? Why, I wanted to know, was I being faced with three black and white pages of potential humiliation? Screw up just one simple question that an elementary school kid could do and boom--you're done. I made some half-hearted joke that I have an English Lit degree. I smiled and pretended not to panic. I believe I even chimed "No problem!" as the woman interviewing me left the room. She left. I panicked.

I hate math! I have always hated math! Well, not always...I used to like it until I got to 4th grade. That was where I had a teacher who resembled a troll and had one hell of a case of halitosis (she could stink up a room with a single word--I kid you not). When we would grade our tests we had to call out in front of the whole class how many we got wrong. God help the kids who did poorly. With each bad mark the kids would send up a chorus of "Oooooooooo!" just so you knew that you sucked and your existence on this planet was being called into question. Ms. Troll would allow and therefore encourage the chastising. My grades suffered so my parents sent me to a nun at a freaking convent for tutoring, but she was even worse. She didn't carry a ruler, she just ate your soul.

And now here I was: grown up, wearing a suit and flipping through a math test. I had done just fine in life without this sort of thing. I grumbled, sighed, and even got a little flushed in my face. Somewhere in the back of my head I could hear Ms. Troll screaming with sick delight, "you'll never make in life if you can't master math!" That bitch even cackled.

So I completed the test and, with the exception of two questions, did just fine. But I was shaky, rattled and now off my usually confident game. If there was a math test, what else? Would they be calling in character witnesses? Asking to see my high school senior thesis? A cavity search? I mean, really! If they had already digressed me back to my self-conscious 11-year-old self, what was next? Maybe this was all part of their evil plan, I thought. They wanted to see how you did under pressure and then, THEN they would bring out the big questions. You know, the topics that actually pertain to who you are and what you bring to the job you are being considered for. Maybe they wanted to see me squirm...

I gathered myself and straightened my skirt. I would not be intimidated. I've done harder things than this, I thought. I've given presentations to boards, I've landed huge deals. Hell, my first sale on Saturday at the shoe store was over $600.00 and that was before I'd finished my morning coffee. I know I can do sales. I know I can do customer service. I am creative, I am quick, I am driven and I can play well with others, damnit. So no, Ms. Troll, you don't have to "master math" to make it in life. I got my chutzpah back and had the uncanny desire to track down the troll and tell her off.

I'm not sure if I'll be getting that job. This is odd for me because I've never interviewed for a position and not been hired. But not everybody fits in everywhere, as my dad so aptly pointed out. If we did the world would be a very boring, gray place.

So it's back to the drawing board for me. I've been combing through websites and writing cover letters with the best of them. I'm sure something will come along soon and as when I know where the next playground will be, I'll let you know.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Breakable by Ingrid Michaelson

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fate

On Monday I was officially laid off. This news came about ten minutes after hearing that my fallback job (shoes) was also not going to pan out because they too were going through a round of layoffs. Scary? Um...a little. I'd never been laid off before.

I was told that my last day would be Friday, October 31st.

So I went home, grabbed one of our homemade oatmeal stouts and headed for the garage. Because I knew my end at the magazine was just around the corner, I had already scheduled an appointment with a headhunter. Our first interview was for the next day, so even though I had only been laid off for about an hour, I was already in job search mode. I needed to clean up my resume, write a couple cover letters and find my interview suits to get ready. Of course, when I had left my old job in June of 2007 I had absolutely no intention to ever wear my old, heavy, constricting suits again. The only reason I had kept them was because they cost so much and I didn't want to be without. True to my nature, I had only kept them based on the patented Ma Chilton "just in case" philosophy. Begrudgingly, I pulled out my old clothes from my days in Eugene. I unfolded sweater sets, evaluated my conservative heels and wondered whether my old skirts would fit. Essentially, I was not happy to be elbow-deep in boring wool suits that had the distinct odor of moth balls. I slammed a few boxes on the ground. I stomped my foot. After a few angry minutes of digging, drinking and kicking, I scooped up my haul and, with some degree of consternation, deposited them on the laundry room floor.

Returning to the garage I dove into a box of books in search of my very professional looking black leather folder. More than anything, it's a prop for interviews. Sure it keeps my files and resumes in order, but basically it just looks good. As I was extracting the folder I came across my college text books. I was thumbing through them, remembering the days when I actually believed my guidance counselors when they said brightly/ignorantly, "you can do anything you want with an English lit degree!" Bullshit, I thought, as my eyes ran over a section of Milton's Paradise Lost. You most certainly cannot do anything. You can do a lot of things but "anything" is not one of them.

As I was just about to storm off into the house for another beer, Jason pulled up. Smiling and calm, he walked up to me with a dozen long stem red roses in one hand and a Costco-sized box of Dove chocolates in the other. He hugged me, told me it would all be okay and that we would get through this. I started to cry. He then walked me inside, sat me down and we spent the night eating pizza, drinking beer, playing dominoes and just taking it easy. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

I've sent my resume out to a few businesses in town and have managed to snag an interview for tomorrow. The job would be perfect for me and I'm really hoping I'll get it. But that is all I'm going to say because I don't want to jinx it. And as I've been bragging about my chocolate and rose toting boyfriend to anyone who will listen, he said he's happy to brag that even though his girl got laid off on a Monday she had a job interview lined up before the end of the week.

Take that, world--we're going to be just fine.

Cheers,
NC

Song of the day: Move Along by the All-American Rejects

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Brief Moment

Well, the magazine I work for has been discontinued. That's right. Done. The rest of the company is still around, and will continue to grow and expand, but the magazine that I sold advertising for has been discontinued. Nothing official has happened with my job yet (and I probably shouldn't speculate about my fate on a public blog) but, just so you all know, this is what is happening in my life right now.

This all came to a head last week at the same time that my parents were here visiting. We'd had a great weekend with them. Jason took dad hunting on the ranch (the ranch is a cattle ranch near Red Lodge that is owned by the company Jason works for. They have a hydo project on the land so he is out there fairly often). Ma and I shopped, reviewed all relevant gossip and basically got a chance to just be. The four of us talked, laughed and ordered more than a few rounds. It's great to be able to hang out with your parents while getting drunk and talking shit over a game of dominos... And I mean that.

Anyway, family traditions aside, we made sure that Ma and Pa saw all the highlights: Virgina City, the town of Red Lodge, the Wild Bill Museum, Yellowstone (complete with a grizzly eating an elk while being circled by wolves), four-point bucks jumping over wooden fences at sunset in the snow, two of the hydro projects that Jason works on and downtown Bozeman. It was a great trip and I was so glad they came out.

I guess that's it for now. As soon as I know what my fate will be I'll let everyone else know.

Cheers,
NC

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Summer Recap

Tonight I've found a rare quiet moment to get caught up on this blog and myself for that matter. It has been such a busy summer. Jason and I were trying to add up the thousands of miles we've driven this summer and I think we got lost somewhere after 5,000 (hey--he produces green energy for a living so don't even try to wag your finger at our carbon footprint). So what's the tally? Where have we been? Between the two of us, we've been to Oregon twice, White Fish, Salt Lake City, Great Falls three times and then drove to Seattle and flew from there to Hawaii. We've been home fewer weekends than we've been away. And we've also had a house guest or two, making the summer all that more enjoyable. And it has been so much fun, almost so that I'm a bit sad to see the summer end. But now, with the distinctive chill in the air and pumpkin motifs popping up in the grocery stores, I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to a cozy and maybe even quiet fall.

Tonight Jason is in Great Falls for his niece's birthday. I was at the synagogue for services tonight so I'll follow him there tomorrow for the rest of the weekend. We recently said goodbye to one of our roommates (the same roommate that accused my cat of pooping in his room) and the other two roommates are either on a trip or gone for the night. So strangely, I'm here alone for the first time in at least two months. It's been a challenge living with four other boys, a cat and occasionally a dog (long story about the dog--don't ask). The one roommate, a.k.a. The Perfect Roommate and/or Best Roommate Ever is so quiet and discreet that it's like he doesn't live here at all. He also pays on time, never causes a fuss, and when we do see him he's a pretty cool guy to talk to. The other roommate is a friend of Jason and I. He works for the Montana Conservation Corps so he's gone three weeks out of four. But when he is here, we have a great time cooking and hanging out together. It's sort of akin to being back in the dorms where ones home was also the center of their social life. And when Jason and I are both here, we're usually cooking, gardening, cleaning, watching a moving, talking, chasing the cat--basically keeping very busy. Needless to say, these quiet moments are very rare for all of us.

What's funny for me is that nights light these, where it's just me, good music, a glass of wine and the laptop used to be my standard evenings. It was easy to keep up on my writing and reading then. The routine was come home, eat, kick up my feet and start typing or grab a book. These days I actually have a social life and home isn't as quiet as it used to be. Not that I'm complaining--it's just startling to make the comparrison between then and now. I'm a lucky girl.

So besides lots of travel, parties, plans and activity, what did we do? Well, we went tubing on the Madison, ate lots of salads from our garden, swam with sea turtles in Hawaii, bbq'd our hearts out, made new friends, visited with my parents in Oregon, hung out with Chris in Maupin for an afternoon, wandered through Pike Place Market, perfected Thom Kha soup, saw the Bison with Jeff in Yellowstone, soaked in some great hot springs and watched plenty of suns set to the sound of bellowing donkeys. To sum it up, we had a great time.

Ma and Pa will be flying out next month to spend a week with Jason and I. Dad is looking forward to bird hunting with him at the ranch (Jason's company owns a ranch where they have a hydro project) and Ma is looking forward to some quality girl time. It will be great to be able to show them around Bozeman and to hang out with them some more.

Lately I've been attached to an album by Ethan Hipple & Podunk Road (http://www.ethanhipple.com/) circa 2005. It's called Prairie and from when I can tell, it's the only cd the group produced. That, and their myspace page hasn't been visited since 2007...BUT it's a fabulous collection of music. They do a gorgeous version of Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show) that just splits me.

They also have this verse on one of their tracks: "I got the blues so bad one time I put my face in a permanent frown, but I'm feeling so much better I can cake walk into town." Well isn't that just the truth for me.

Cheers,
Nicole