Where to begin? The last couple of years for me have been one hell of a rollercoaster, to say the least. I’ve been moving around a lot and can’t seem to stay put. It seems no matter where I end up, no place has truly felt like home to me. I avoid making permanent gestures- decorating the walls of each apartment, buying matching furniture, getting to know my neighbors (though to be fair, some of them are not really worth knowing). I’m not confident that we’ve found a place to call home yet because Wisconsin might not be the right place for us. But, as my yearly posts seem to go, I’ll start from the beginning of the year!
January: My first winter in my 23 years of life that didn’t have snow. It got down to the 40s, but Portland didn’t receive snow that winter and I as beyond grateful. No winter boots, no freezing in the car on the way to work, and definitely no slipping and sliding around in my little hybrid car. Rob and I did a little more exploring of the coast when we could, and I fell in love with the ocean. I have only been to any ocean in the last couple of years, and the Pacific is greater in every way except that 95% of the time it’s too cold to swim in, especially as far north as Oregon.
February: FINALLY! I landed a pharmacy job. Many of you know that my day job is a pharmacy technician, and while I don’t love it, it offers decent opportunities no matter where I move. I’m nationally certified as a technician, so pretty much anywhere recognizes my experience and I can find work. While it took longer than I had hoped to land a hospital job, finally one came through and offered really great pay. It was an enormous relief, and soon we were starting to float along just fine with bills and the like. I took a coast trip with Rob, Brendon, Drake, Kyle, and Jess where we basically just played on the beach for a few hours. It was cold, but still a solid day. I also got to catch up with Lindsay Anne, who is just a peach! We went to Cathedral Park and drove through a cloud.
March: One of the best and most memorable days of my life happened in March, and I look through pictures regularly because I can almost feel what it was like being there again. I hiked a short, but intense mountain known as Silver Star in the lower Cascades range in Washington. I came across the hike on a website that lets you narrow your hike search down by type, such as scenic view, pet friendly, or overnight hike. Because I’d still consider myself a novice when it comes to the outdoors, I wanted something that was just a day hike and that offered a killer view. And boy, did I ever get one. Standing 4,300 feet in the air, Summitting Silver Star peak was one of the few times over my adult life where I felt truly at peace. I was exhausted, but could finally breathe. Alone but at ease. Far away from everything I knew, but I remember being very, very calm. I stood in awe at the 5 notable peaks around me, as well as the gorge and the Pacific Coast Range. A stunning 360 degree view left me speechless, and I could have stayed there for hours. I never feel like I get enough pictures, but replicating a feeling like that would be challenging. Not a whole lot else happened during the month of March, but I’m alright with that.
April: April was a rough month. I’d categorize it as one of those time periods where you don’t want to remember what it felt like, but every pain is compared to it. Rob and I had spent 8 months away from home at this point and had hardly made a single friend. While we had plenty of time to focus on our relationship and talk about future plans, we both needed platonic friends who would could be around. We talked about moving right into downtown Portland to try immersing ourselves in the city. We also brought up the thought of what felt like 10 steps backward: moving back to Wisconsin. Through a lot of discussions, and even more teary eyed nights, we decided that nothing was going to replace the feeling of being near our friends. They were what made me compassionate and loving. Those are the people who I pour out everything to, and plan road trips and adventures and movie nights with. I wasn’t getting that in Portland, and I was more than lonely. The decision was made, and we started planning our journey back. I honestly didn't take any photos that month.
May: I had been looking forward to may since the day I left Wisconsin. My best friend was getting married. Married! And I was going to be there no matter what it took. We booked our tickets early and planned the cheapest options available to save money for moving home. We revealed to just about everybody that we’d be coming back for good just one month later, and everyone was ecstatic. Seeing everyone was like a little reunion, and I felt like I had made the right decision with Rob to undo everything we had worked for. Seeing Leah get married to her high school sweetheart was a huge highlight of 2015. She looked beautiful, was calm and collected all day, and let me steal her away the day before for our own little bachelorette party. I was by her side the whole day and couldn’t help but feel so, so proud of the person she’s grown up to be. What an angel. I also visited the Vista House just east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge and took on my fear of heights.
June: We’re moving!....Again! Though I felt like I had just made this huge cross-country move and wanted to find new things on the west coast, it was time to move back. I tried it, and missed everyone and everything too much. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, as I’d been eyeing Oregon for quite some time, and I had finally done it. As a temporary goodbye to the west , Rob and I planned a week long road trip down the coast to visit my family in San Francisco. We started at the very northernmost tip of Oregon and stopped anywhere we thought looked interesting. We made a lot of stops in the first 2 days! While we were on the road, I got the call offering me a pharmacy position in Wisconsin, which secured my employment weeks in advance and put my mind at ease. To avoid the costs of hotels and campsites, we slept in my little hatchback with an air mattress that just barely fit. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything, no matter how cramped it was. We drove the 101 highway the entire way there, and the beautiful places we stopped to see were well worth sleeping in the car. We got to San Francisco and stayed with my brother and sister-in-law. They adopted a little cocker spaniel that week, and we got to explore Point Reyes, the golden gate bridge, and Rob got to ride the BART for the first time. The trip home was quick and we took the interstate most of the way. The only place we really stopped was Crater Lake, as we both had been there and just needed to see it again. Still just as awe-inspiring. We packed up the truck on June 8th, and got home 5 days later. I said goodbye to the waterfalls and spectacular views, and we started the huge journey home. The rest of June was spent catching up with everyone in Wisconsin and looking for apartments in Milwaukee.
July: One thing I’ve learned: Commuting more than 20 minutes to work is treacherous. I was living in Madison without an apartment for over a month and had to work a Monday through Friday job in Milwaukee. It wasn’t easy, to say the least. I saw Rob very little, and he was busy trying to find a job in Milwaukee himself. I had some problems with a coworker during my first month, and I had to bring it to management because coming to work was near unbearable. On top of all of that, I’ve been getting periodic headaches that are debilitating and distracting and I wound up in the ER for the pain. I got a diagnosis of cluster headaches, and there isn’t much treatment for them. They come in waves, and about 2 weeks of every 4 months is hell after 3pm. Honestly, it’s really strange that they start at the same time every day, but it’s also kind of nice to be able to prepare for the worst. It’s still an ongoing issue, and I’m not sure if there’s an end in sight. Other than work, I planned a day trip to Devil’s Lake with Leah for her birthday, and we had a blast! There’s nothing like hiking up a bluff in 80 degree weather and then jumping in the cool, crystal clear lake. We had a picnic and took some photos and overall, was really a lovely day. Other than that, I did my first real portraiture shoot in ages (probably since before I had gone to a Flickr meetup the summer before!), and was so proud of the images I was producing. It was good to be back in the swing of things.
August: After sleeping on couches and floors and apartments with too much cat hair, I finally had my own apartment. It seemed nice at first, but just a few weeks in it proved to be the worst place I’ve ever lived. The rental company refused to do basic maintenance, we had a lot of problems with plumbing and water leaking, and we couldn’t even get blinds installed because nobody wanted to buy them for the apartment (we still don’t have any to this day, just a sheet draped over the window. Ugh!). We’re waiting for Rob to either get more hours at his current job or get another job that can help us afford a more livable place. I picked up a second job at the Roman Candle Pizzeria, as I used to work at a different location when I lived in Madison. Basically the same! I kept shooting and kept finding new models. Things were okay.
September: This was, by far, the busiest month of my life. Between my two day jobs, planning out 2 styled shoots with 10+ vendors, and shooting weddings and portraits non-stop, I put in near 400 hours of work total. I learned a lot, discovered my limit when it comes to double shifts, got to dogsit for the most perfect and insane dogs, and set myself on a path for next year that is looking hopeful. I really dived into my photography business more than ever, and started really pushing the business side of it. I produced a lot of portfolio-worthy images, and am proud of everything I accomplished in one month. Also, towards the end of the month I got a haircut! Chopped off a solid 6 or so inches and got an asymmetrical bob that I really enjoy.
October: During the month of October, I had the opportunity to photograph one of my favorite weddings to date. This intimate, backyard wedding seriously gave me inspiration for future weddings I’d like to shoot! I got to photograph the 2nd styled shoot I was planning in September, and the images are so dreamy. Probably the best part of this month was my brother, Josh, and sister-in-law, Kalie, moved home (sort of) and now are about an hour away from where I lived. Josh got an offer from a startup in Chicago that he took, and they moved not 2 weeks later. It’s so comforting to have them so close and to have us all in the Midwest again is awesome!
November: Birthday month! I always do something special for my birthday and expect at least a little attention from my friends. This year, I kept it pretty low key and just went on a vegan food tour of Chicago with Rob. We ate at 3 different restaurants, took home a lot of leftovers, and ate as much as we could. This tour included Native Foods, Pick Me Up Café, and the Chicago Diner. Seriously, if you’re in Chicago, try out their food (not just vegans!). It only snowed one day in November, which is probably some record breaking weather for Wisconsin. Of course, it was the day before my birthday, and then it all melted. But most importantly, Rob finally moved in with me. He had been living at his parents house for the 3 months prior while I resided in Milwaukee to work. We celebrated with taco Tuesday!
December: The final month of 2015 had a lot more downs than it had ups, and I am having a hard time coping with a lot of different things. I don’t manage anxiety or depression very well, but both hit pretty hard around this time of the year. I spent my fair share of time reflecting on whether or not we made the right decision to move “home”, and I’m still very torn. I loved the Northwest more than anywhere I’ve ever lived, but it was so lonely. I still can’t decide if it was for the best. Maybe this year, I’ll figure that out for myself.
That's it, folks. Check back in a few days because I've got some more goodies coming for the New Year's celebration. :)