The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

March 29, 2008

Today started out to be very good. I slept in (always nice!) until about 9 am and then was able to just relax for a bit with a few cups of good coffee (Dunkin’ Donuts Cinnamon Spice with Nescafe French Vanilla creamer), some good yummy breakfast treats (powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar donut holes), and a good book (I recently discovered this author and this is her latest bestseller).

Coffee and donut holes


A good read

                                         Happy reading…

Sitting on the couch in my jammies, with my good boy cat by my side, curled in a ball, the sun shining outside…a very, very GOOD morning.

“K” and I decided to go out for a bit in the early afternoon–we had to run to the library to pick up some books that had come in and also stop at the store to stock up for the next week. This is when things started to go bad. Well, it wasn’t so bad at first. We left the apartment about 1:45 and when we hit the main street that we turn down to jump on the highway, we saw a “whole lot” of runners (there were a whole lot!–at least 300!). Why were there a whole lot of runners you might ask? Well, tomorrow is the Holyoke Saint Patrick’s Day Parade–it is the second largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the country (and no I don’t know where the largest one is held…this is just a fact that I have heard repeated over and over ever since I moved to Holyoke about six years ago). Anyways, the day before the parade there is some sort of race. I’m sure once I read the Sunday paper tomorrow morning I will know more about this race and can comment more. But it was so cool seeing all these people running. Everyone looked so happy–not one person looked winded or like they were thinking, “When the hell is this race over?” I’m just thinking of how I would look if I was running (or jogging, maybe even walking this race). Yet, even knowing all this I said to my sweetie, “Maybe I’ll run in that race next year.” And her reaction, “Yeah, sure…I know how much you love running.” (Imagine that being said in a sarcastic tone and it will be like you were there!) We go to the library and pick up our books (have I mentioned that I love to read?) and head home.

                A cool statue outside of the Agawam Library

I get off on the exit we normally use when going to the store on the way home. There is a lot of traffic. So what normally might take us five minutes to drive takes about 15 minutes. This is bad because we are hungry. Our plan is to go shopping (very quickly I might add), and then run to Subway to pick up some sandwiches for dinner. So the traffic delay is putting us behind schedule. But, we deal.

The grocery shopping goes well, since we pretty much have it honed to a science (like in the produce department, “K” knows to go get the salad, the tomatoes, the garlic, the onion, etc. while I stop at the deli counter to get our American cheese–this way we end at the same time and can advance to the next aisle in sync). We finish in record time–we shop, check out, bag, and pack the car up in only 1/2 hour. It is now 3:15 and we figure we are in the home stretch. We consult with each other regarding the best way to get to Subway/home (same direction) considering the traffic we ran into on the way to the store. Us, being the smart people that we are, decide that it would be much faster to jump on the highway rather than drive through town.

This is where it gets UGLY. We are not on the highway more than five minutes when we run into traffic. And this traffic is way worse than the traffic we ran into in town. I mean, we are moving less than five miles an hour with a stop of at least (AT LEAST) one minute between moving. I’m slightly annoyed, but hey, I can deal with this. I say, “This won’t last long, I’m a patient person.” Fast forward 30 minutes. Yep, we are still stuck in traffic and we’ve moved about 1/2 mile. I’m not so calm anymore. I’ve taken to playing games like, “Pass the Red Minivan Who is Ahead of Me in the Next Lane” and “How Long Will It Take To Make To The Next Green Highway Sign.” Real fun games (insert sarcasm). Not to mention, “K” is not the most patient person. I’m probably 10 times more patient than she is. So every time I look over at her she is either sighing heavily (at best), or swearing at the cars who are driving down the breakdown lane (at worst). I tell “K,” call your mom, maybe she can find out what’s going on. She does and we find out that a semi had rolled over and blocked all lanes of traffic up past exit 17B (we are inching, literally, our way to exit 16). So we decide to try to exit on 16 and go the rest of the way through town. But of course I have to move over two lanes of traffic to do this–not easy to do when people are driving bumper to bumper. But I manage to do so, without making too many people upset. We FINALLY get off the exit and of course there is traffic through town as well because police have been diverting traffic through town. Okay, to make a long story short, we get to Subway, get our sandwiches and arrive home–TWO HOURS LATER!!

We carry everything upstairs, put away the groceries and collapse on the couch with sighs of relief. We eat our sandwiches and oh my god, they taste sooooo good. I guess everything tastes better when you are famished.

So in conclusion, we have decided to be homebodies for at least a week!

Published in: on March 29, 2008 at 8:08 pm  Comments (1)  

New Camera!

March 28, 2008

Well, the title says it all…I FINALLY have a digital camera! I am part of the technological generation! After thinking about it for a long time, I purchased a Kodak camera–red, 7.2 megapixels, tiny. A simple camera for me to use. So now I can take pictures…and include pictures in my blog. I’m incredibly excited (if you can’t already tell!). Here are a few pictures from tonight…

Here’s me (try not to notice the bed head!)

This stuff rocks!

And here is my sweetie!

New beer=happy

And Mr. Man (aka Charlie)

I'm trying to sleep!

And the family princess (none other than Madeline)

The Princess

I think that’s enough for tonight. Hopefully this will all become much easier with time 🙂

Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 9:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Tale of Two Batteries

March 26, 2008 

When I call my sweetie on Sunday night from work to see how she is enjoying her time visiting her family on Easter I find out that she is still at home. Turns out that when she went to start her car, it wouldn’t. Since I was at work, she was stuck at home. The next day I get up fairly early, around 1:30 pm, and we go outside to jump start her car with my car (of course I have to double check how to jump start a car online, just to make sure I know how to do it!). I turn my car around facing hers and we connect everything up and…NOTHING! So I check the connections again and decide that maybe the final connecting piece that should be on “K’s” engine is not on the engine. I readjust and…the engine grinds. So I say, “try again,” and…it starts! Yeah! I park my car so it’s facing the correct way and we hop into “K’s” car and go for a ride to charge up the battery. We arrive home a half hour later and I think, end of story (wrongly, of course!)

Next day, “K” has a dentist appointment to get some cavities filled. I convince her to use my car because I don’t want her getting to the dentists, coming out when she’s done, trying to start her car and having it stall again. She says, “Are you sure?” and I say, “Yes, I really would feel better about it.” So she leaves to go and not one minute later the phone rings. I see on caller ID that it is her calling. Strange, I think. So I pick up and she proceeds to inform me that my car is now stalled! She does also say that her car is working. She goes to her appointment and arrives home. She then uses her Triple A card to call and have someone come out and jump start my car (we decided not to try to jump my car with her car, thinking that this could go on forever with the alternate cars not working). The guy comes to our apartment (in a very timely manner I might add). He jumps my car and then says, “I can check your battery for you to see how much life is in it.” He does, and tells me that it’s not doing so well (it’s a 500 battery and the “juice” left is below the halfway mark, meaning it could go at any time). Thus, instead of going for another half hour drive like we were planning on doing, I decide to go to the Meineke up the street to see if they sell and install batteries.

I speak to Dave, wonderfully nice mechanic, and he says, “yes” to the selling and installing of batteries. However, the battery for my car, a 2003 Hyundai Elantra is something he would have to order. He says he could have it in and installed by the following day. Instead of driving my car home, we decide to leave it there overnight thus bypassing the possibility of it not starting again the following day and needing to call and get it jumped again. So “K” and I have a very pleasant (and windy!) walk home from Meineke’s (thankfully it’s only about half a mile).

Fast forward to today. Meineke’s calls to tell me my battery is installed and the car is ready to be picked up. We take “K’s” car to pick up my car and while we are there, have her battery tested. Turns out her battery is fine! It probably stalled because she hasn’t been driving it much! I tell her it must be fate–that her battery temporarily died so that I could find out that my battery was DEAD. So I paid my $110 for my new 75 month battery and feel much more secure. And also happy in the knowledge that this is the FIRST thing that I have had to pay for my new car besides oil changes. So all is well that ends well 🙂

Published in: on March 26, 2008 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Future Plans

March 25, 2008

The last time I visited the local library (well, not so local since I drive to the one in Agawam–nicer–rather than go to the one in Holyoke–bad area) I picked up some informational books on buying a first home. “K” and I have been thinking and dreaming and hoping on doing this for an extremely long time and since I now have a job that pays respectably and thus I have been able to pay down a good portion of my debt, it is becoming more of a soon future reality. So today, after having my coffee and relaxing a bit, I started looking through some of them. I was able to do some calculations and found that with the debt I have remaining at this point, I could possibly qualify for a $121,000 loan. WOW!! And, even more exciting, probably by the end of the year, I could possibly qualify for a $214,000 loan. After doing all the calculator work, it was so exciting to think that perhaps someday by next summer, we could be living in our own home, paying money towards a mortgage, gaining equity, rather than paying rent.

As I was doing that, I started looking at my current debt and realized that by the end of August I should be able to shave it down considerably. That is because by that time my car will be paid off (saving me approximately $275/month) and I should have only one credit card remaining to pay off (which, with all things working in my favor, should be paid off by December 2008). This is incredibly hard for me to wrap my head around. I have had so much debt for so long, that I won’t know what it’s like NOT to have debt. In fact, when it is all done, the only debt I will have is my school loan from my uncompleted Master’s program (a measly $81/month). Again, WOW!!

So what does all this mean? A lot of dreaming! What kind of house will I live in? Well, I know that we definitely want at least 1 1/2 baths, 2 bedrooms minimum, fireplace (hopefully!), nice outside area, and hopefully a garage. Even better would be 3 bedrooms, a dining room, and computer room. It will be so exciting to decorate it all. We’ve already decided that we’ll have a joint savings account to put money into monthly towards the house. So hopefully in a year it’ll be decorated to our satisfaction.

Even more exciting is that once this is all in place, I can finally start to think about having a baby! Talk about dreaming and hoping!

Published in: on March 25, 2008 at 2:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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The day of…

March 21, 2008

Today is Friday and that means the start of my weekend on for work (I work at a small community hospital where nurses work every other weekend). So essentially that means that I only have half a day off since I leave the house at 6:20 pm in order to arrive at work by 6:30 pm (yes, I am extremely thankful for a VERY short commute). Thus, today is the day of…1) psyching myself up for working three days in a row, 2) completing all things that I still wanted to do on my days off, 3) trying to get a quick nap in, 4) repeating to myself that yes, I really am a nurse, and 5) generally feeling blah and wishing that it was my weekend off!

You’ll notice that I’m blogging (yikes, look at me using these fancy computer terms) quite early. Yes, of course, the one day that I REALLY wanted and needed to sleep in late, I was unable to. After Madeline woke me up to be fed at 4:30 am (she does this by constantly scratching on the bedroom door–and of course I, not “K,” am the only one who hears this noise and is annoyed by it), I was unable to get back to sleep. I’m still getting over a cold and one of my nostrils was completely blocked up, which I hate! So I use the magical Vick’s nasal spray and within two minutes, I can breath again! (quick note–do not use this magical spray for more than three days in a row, no matter how wonderful you think it is–it can cause what’s caused “rebound constriction”–causing you to feel even more stuffed up and then you have to use more of it and eventually you are addicted and will need to be weaned off–this has happened to “K” in the past and she needed to use inhaled steroids to break the habit–doctor prescribed of course!). But even though I can breath, I can’t sleep. All I can hear is the wind howling (and I truly mean howling) outside. Starting last night the wind was incredibly intense. Add to that the gently snoring of my sweetie, “K,” and my thoughts about it being my last day off…well, I couldn’t sleep. So I got up at 6:30 AM!!! That is unheard of for me. Usually I sleep in till at least 10:30 am.

So I made it to the couch, snuggled under my down comforter, and read for about two hours. I also got a good peak at the sun rising–absolutely beautiful. Since I live on the fourth floor of an apartment building I have the perfect view of the mountains in the distance, with the tree peaks at my level–to see the sky a brilliant red that fades to pink is completely breathtaking.

Plans for the day include: enjoying coffee once my sweetie awakens, going grocery shopping, and taking a nap. Not too ambitious so I think I should be able to complete everything. This way, if I actually do more than that, I’ll feel proud of myself!

I have to say it is kind of peaceful to get up early and have time for yourself. The birds are singing outside (crazy birds, don’t they know it’s mighty cold out there!), and the sun is shining. The day feels full of possibility. I guess that’s the best part of any day, is knowing that it can be filled with anything–work, play, happiness, sadness.

Okay, that’s enough philosophizing for me this morning. I believe I might try to get TWO naps in today, and begin one right now!

Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 12:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hello, World!

March 20, 2008

Well, here goes…

I never thought that I would start a blog, but a very close and dear friend of mine has been doing this for well over a year now and I never miss checking his blog daily. Somehow I find it very comforting to know what is going on in his life. Since he lives far away (California) and has just adopted a son (a complete cutie!), it’s one of the only ways I have besides phone conversations (which can be difficult due to the time difference and the fact that I work 12 hour overnight shifts), to feel like I am current with his life. Plus, I find that I find out more about him through his blog than I sometimes can in a quick chat…like his inner thoughts and feelings. Not to mention that he is really computer savvy and inserts tons of photos and videos. Folks, if ANYONE is reading this, it’s going to be quite a while before that happens with me. I don’t even OWN a digital camera! I know, I know, I really do have to join this century 🙂

Anyways, so that’s why I decided to start a blog. Now I have to figure out what to write in this blog. To begin, I’ll provide a short biography…

My name is Kaye E. Van Straten. Now I know immediately that you are thinking…what does the “E” stand for? Well, you can guess and guess, but I’m SURE you will never guess right? What’s that? Emily? No. Ellen? No. Emma? No (now that was not a popular name at the time of my birth!). Eve? Eleanor? Ernestine? Echo? Eden? No. No. No. No. Now I told you this would not be easy. Okay, enough with the guessing. My middle name is after my mother–Ervida. That’s pronounced er (rhymes with ‘sir’), vi (rhymes with ‘tie’), da (like ‘duh’)–got it? I have to admit that many of my friends have made fun of that name (it is an unusual name) but the older I get I think the more I like having a unique name. I do always sign my name “Kaye E. Van Straten” so I guess I have adopted it. So…moving on. I grew up in a small, mid-western town by the name of Sheboygan, which is located in the state of Wisconsin, right on the banks of Lake Michigan. My parents names are Daniel and Ervida, they are still married (which is something of an accomplishment in this day and age) and still live in the house that I grew up in. I went to Carroll College in Waukesha, WI, graduating in 1995 with an incredibly useful (notice the irony!) degree in Biology and Sociology. I had no idea what to do with my life at that time with no job prospects in mind so when my good friend (the one mentioned above) spoke about going to grad school I said, “What the heck, sure!” So I went to the University of WI-Milwaukee for two years, studying sociology, and after NOT writing my thesis, was still accepted into a grad program in MA to go for my doctoral in sociology. Now, let’s just stop and recap…two years of school, and now more school…hmmm….have I mentioned that I’m a procrastinator? Well, needless to say, once I started attending UMASS-Amherst for a year I still hadn’t managed to complete my thesis, and also decided that grad school and the resulting career as an academic was not for me. So I took a year off…

Oh, the year off. Well, let’s just say that turned into many years. I managed to get a job as a relay operator (what’s that you say?–“telecommunication assistant for the deaf and hard of hearing”). Worked there for close to five years before realizing that I wasn’t really going anywhere there. So, what to do? I was feeling frustrated with lack of money and my age, which crazy enough just kept edging up and up (doesn’t life know that I haven’t completed my goals yet!) So I looked in the newspaper, saw that there was always jobs for nurses, did some searching online and found that UMASS had a second bachelor’s program for nurses–Perfect! Only catch was I had to do the pre-reqs and apply and actually get accepted! Well, after two years I did all that. And I completed the program in May 2007. I have been a registered nurse for almost a year. And of course, that’s not enough for me. I decided to go for my nurse practitioner degree starting this fall (which is a LONG program–close to 6 years part-time).

As far as personally, I have been in a relationship with “K” for about 5 years. She’s a wonderful person and I love her so much. (Some other blog I’ll give our whole story as well as the struggle I’ve had with being okay with my sexuality…) If I had to describe myself in five words they would be: kind, shy, procrastinator, ambitious, and loyal. Some of my favorites: food–pizza, drink–Diet Pepsi, color–black, TV show–The L Word, Queer as Folk, Top Chef, Gilmore Girls, and many more. Things I like to do include…watch TV/movies, read, hang out with friends, cook, and relax. I have two cats, Madeline and Charlie. I have one brother, by the name of Kurt. Hmmm…can it be, have I possibly run out of things to say about me? Gosh, I have to say I’m pretty boring.

So I think that’s about it for my first blog. It was actually fun writing this (and that’s something, because I HATE to write….one of the reasons I stopped my academic career!). I’m hoping that this will be something interesting to look back at and read someday. I’m also hoping that I might meet a few cool people during the journey of life. So, adieu for now. Enjoy the day in some way (gosh, now I’m a poet…ha ha). I’d better stop before I get real silly.

Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 12:24 am  Comments (1)