Last week, Facebook made an automated 10 year look back for all members. It was interesting to look at since I joined in May of 2004 (Wash U in STL was one of the first schools to be invited). But what was more interesting for me was for me to remember back to 2004 and think about how my life has changed.
I was still at Wash U, it was my senior year, second semester as a Printmaking and Drawing major (I had transferred into Printmaking at the request/threat of the Illustration professor the previous summer, fortunately taking all my Illustration credits with me so I graduated on time). I was applying (later to find out unsuccessfully) to various jobs with the TXPW hoping for a job at a living history farm or historical house. I ended up, after graduation and lots of job rejection letters, deciding to stay in St. Louis, renting a cute rear house in Maplewood, and doing odd jobs. I had a variety of jobs for the next two years: being a file clerk, stuffing envelopes, working in a bindery in a printshop, typesetting and making graphics for a self published book, selling furniture, doing calligraphy jobs, and more I can’t remember. I adopted my Mollie cat that first summer. She was and is a great companion still but especially during those two lonely years living by myself.
The reason I ended up deciding to stay in STL was J was pretty serious about the idea of getting married. We waited for his parental approval (not sure that came until after we adopted E…) and eventually married in Texas in 2007 (I had decided by then that I wanted nothing more than to move back to heaven on earth). J had a job in STL but he promised by our 5th anniversary that we would live in Texas. We bought a house and decided that me working for about $10/hour just wasn’t worth it so I decided to sell handmade cards and take on more calligraphy jobs. It probably worked out to be the same $$, maybe a little less, I was just at home and didn’t have to pay for clothes etc. We were open to children at the time but none came knocking. We acquired our standard poodle Sunny in February of 2008. Quite an adjustment for Mollie but she likes him.
After 3 years in that home we bought, real estate became depressed but J was starting to apply to more jobs in Texas. He actually got a couple interviews and was encouraged to keep applying to various things while I moved everything out to a rental home and painted our house and got it ready to sell. I think we had it listed in January or February of 2010 and it sold in May! That was a relief but still no job in Texas. They just weren’t believing him that we were serious about relocating.
Eventually he received an offer from SAP that he accepted and we moved (before our 4th anniversary!). Fortunately he is considered part of a “mobile workforce” so we found a place in the country to rent and now own and he mostly works from home and occasionally travels. Dashiell joined our fur family soon after our move. Mollie was a bit suspicious at first of the intruder.
We started thinking seriously about adoption after that (adoption credit with the IRS and an employee benefit made it all the more financially within reach) and settled on Taiwan and were matched with E. We’re matched again late last year and waiting for approvals for F now.
The really odd thing about the last 10 years is that 15 or so years ago, I would have never imagined the journey to what I believe and who I love (count as my family) now. Although I’ve had a number of Chinese friends over the years, I dated and married an Asian man! Learning and accepting cultural differences was a challenge but it helped me to prepare for our sons. I’ve always liked Chinese brush paintings but now I’m learning the Chinese language! Also preparation for our sons. We adopted a 7 year old non-English speaking son in 2012 and are adopting another one! We live in the country and have various livestock and aim toward being more and more self-sufficient and off grid!
We have various future ideas and plan for going more off grid but our goal is that by the time J retires in 30 or so years (LOL) we won’t be paying for much in the way of power or living expenses (since our mortgage is paid off by then!). Our next step will be getting a fireplace insert installed in the summer or fall of this year so we won’t use the central heat on a regular basis/ever. After that will be a milk cow. Then I’m not sure. Maybe get a windmill (not a turbine, too ugly) for harvesting wind power? Maybe solar panels? Maybe keeping bees? Maybe installing rainwater collection for our water needs with the well as back up? Maybe leasing or buying some land to raise beef cattle, alpacas, and sheep? Maybe replacing our washing machine (when it gives up the ghost) with a manual, non-electric model? I’m hoping that eventually we won’t need much electricity for much of anything besides refrigeration, cell phone charging/internet, ceiling fans in the summer (we have tile floors throughout the house and so I could easily sweep instead of vacuum), and lights at night, and maybe for the pump for the well and rainwater tank. Going without much electricity just takes more effort and work in some instances but I’m game especially when I will have more time with children grown.
What a life–a very happy life overall (I’m quite an optimist, not extreme but more positive than most people–LOL) but an unpredictable life so far. I’m very thankful to God that He has given me all these experiences and various family and friends through the years to I can continue learning and growing and adapting.