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one year in Michigan

July 6, 2010

Did you all have a happy Fourth? Yes? I hope so. We were incredibly lazy over the weekend, but still managed to get a few things done around the house…

And, my liver informed me that on the occasion of my almost-30th year, it will no longer be processing alcohol. At all. Meaning: I’m hungover after 2 glasses of wine. So if you’re wondering whether you can be hungover without actually being drunk, the answer, apparently, is yes.

Luckily for me, though, my liver still appreciates ice cream, specifically Dairy Queen Blizzards and Turtle Sundaes.  Yum!

Anyways. Michigan!  We’ve lived here for over a year now, but are officially celebrating our first year of living in our current home this week, so I thought I’d share my reflections on our year here.

Over the weekend Jason joked that it was time for us to move again.  We met in 2003 & dated long distance for the year.  In 2004, after graduating from grad school, Jason took a giant leap of faith and moved to Minneapolis, where I was living at the time.  In 2005, we combined households (and took many trips to goodwill to drop stuff off).  In 2006, I finished grad school and we moved to Kentucky.  In 2007, Jason found a great job in Minneapolis, so we moved back to Minneapolis.  In 2009, we moved to Michigan.

That is a lot of moving.

Did you know that I was so, so annoyed when Jason took an interview for a job in Michigan?  I mean, the boy had just switched jobs 3 months earlier and had only earned one vacation day.  And he was going to spend that vacation day interviewing instead of hanging out with his wife?  Not awesome.

But, he went, claiming that it was just interview practice for his dream job in Minneapolis (and I didn’t complain too much about it), and when he came back, he was so ecstatic about the job and his would-be colleagues that it was pretty clear we’d be moving to Michigan.

And let me just say that, other than the images of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that I had stored away from high school and college ski excursions (read: old, smelly motels and run down bars), the only thing I knew about Michigan was that Detroit’s failing auto industry was not helping the state out much.  That is, the pictures flashed on the news were not pretty – the ghost town that is Detroit, joblessness, etc, etc.  I did not have awesome visions of Michigan to go off of when I agreed to move here.  These are images that I won’t repost here because, as it turns out, that is NOT what Michigan is actually like.  (Instead, I’ll post pictures of my Michigan… pretty, isn’t it?)

Michigan has been so so so good to us.  My pre-move self thought that living in small city Michigan was going to be boring.  It has proven to be anything but.  The friends that we’ve made here are amazing.  There are in fact, so many social opportunities or events that sound fun to us that we haven’t had an opportunity to check out yet.  And Michiganders are some of the most ridiculously friendly, happy, and nicest people anywhere.

This plus the fact that living in small city Michigan means that I never pay for parking (or struggle to find it) and that I can still go out for apps and a drink for less than $12, and you’ve got my thrifty heart fluttering.  (Even if my liver is now uncooperative.)

And our 9-acre estate is amazing and affordable.  I read an article online last week about creating a home that you don’t need a vacation from (I wish I could find it so that I could link to it), and that, folks, is what I think we may have accidentally done here.  Sure, there are millions of projects to be done – so many that I do, on occasion, get totally overwhelmed by it all.  But there’s also the sounds of birds chirping (or in the case of the hawk that I’ve recently spotted, screeching), woodpeckers pecking, leaves rustling in the wind.  It’s amazingly relaxing.  Like I might actually become a recluse because I don’t want to go anywhere else.

And the relaxation is a pretty huge contrast to the previous 7 years, in which I completed graduate school by working 80-hour weeks and holidays then followed it up with 3 additional years of training, working 60+ hours/week because there was always something more that I could be doing.  Always another project, another paper to be done.  Two years ago, I would not have envisioned my life as it is now.  I thought I’d be a full time professor, committed to a life of research, paper-writing, and general scientific butt-kicking.  So it’s interesting that I’ve decided that maybe that’s not what I really want anyways.  Don’t get me wrong: I’d love a full-time job and I’d still love to kick-butt.  What I don’t want is the 60+ hours – the working nights and weekends and holidays, the coming home from work so tired that I can barely muster up the energy to talk to my husband, much less figure out what to eat for dinner.

What I do want is simplicity.  Enjoying what I’m doing at each moment – not rushing from task to task without thinking about it.  I want to live intentionally.  I want to enjoy the process of making things, to spend time in the kitchen cooking, especially when accompanied by Jason or other friends.  I want to read a book on the back porch.  To grow my own food.  And pretty much the best part of our move to Michigan is that I now have that ability.  I can blog, create, grow, cook, enjoy.

Sometimes I feel really guilty about this freedom, this staying home without a job business.  Like I should be making money working any job (not holding out for a dream job, or working only part time, a semester here or there), that I should be financially contributing to our household.  But what I’ve been slowly realizing is that by staying home, by doing laundry, by cleaning, painting, and making our house a home, by cooking good, healthy meals, by growing our own food or making bread from scratch, that I am actually contributing to a richer household – just not always in the monetary sense.

So, to make a long story short: we are ridiculously, incredibly, super-happy with where we’re at right now.  As much as I dreaded leaving my beloved Minneapolis for small-city Michigan, I am so so glad that I agreed to make the move.  And I’ll be blabbing on about major projects we’ve undertaken in our first year here tomorrow, for those of you that are into house projects.  See you then!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2010 12:57 pm

    YAH! Congrats on your one year anniversary in your home! I am so happy to read a positive image of Michigan!! I have lived here my whole life and love this state! There is so much culture and love here. But all anyone knows is the bad and ugly. Thank you for showing that your move introduced you to this great state!

  2. July 6, 2010 1:46 pm

    Congrats! I completely agree with you on the vacation in your own home thing. That is why I love living in the country. I get to leave work and the city behind everyday to go relax in the country.

  3. July 6, 2010 2:21 pm

    So well written, I am so happy that you are appreciating the truly important things in life at such a young age. So what if your liver won’t cooperate; lemonade and hot chocolate are some pretty awesome drinks too when sitting on your porch listening to the birds sing or watching the snow fall!

  4. GGG permalink
    July 6, 2010 2:25 pm

    A wonderful blog!!!! I told you being at home could be very rewarding. With your clever mind, I’m sure you don’t find much time to be bored. AND, being your own boss is a real great feeling. (That is until your husband retires and thinks he knows how to run the place!) But for now, there’s no need to even think about that,so keep up the good work:)

  5. July 6, 2010 3:52 pm

    I think you need a cow or a few goats….

    You still have to road trip to charlevoix (the egg harbor of Michigan)

    And….. NO moving!

  6. Debbie permalink
    July 6, 2010 6:28 pm

    What a beautifully written blog! I am so happy that you are so happy there! It sounds ideal.
    When Jason told me “oh it’s just a phone interview; it can’t hurt” I never dreamed it would lead to this.Thanks for believing!
    It’s true that you will never be bored with your creative and adventurous spirit.
    Maybe we’ll all come vacation at your place. RUN FOR THE HILLS!

  7. July 6, 2010 9:07 pm

    I love this post. The photos are beautiful and the words meaningful. Sounds like a blessed life.

  8. July 7, 2010 3:35 pm

    I love it. You sound so content. I can’t wait until we can get a house to really make home. The little apartment is nice, but you can’t beat a front porch.

  9. July 7, 2010 6:14 pm

    Congrats on one year – and you photos show how lovely it is.

    So we will be in Boston and Cape Cod in THREE WEEKS – what are you must visit stores/chains

    Should we go to Dairy Queen?

    What about home decor stores – anything like a US Avoca?

    Looking for some tips please 🙂

    At the cottage, but one kid is sick, so not getting to the beach as much as we would like 😦

  10. July 8, 2010 8:18 am

    Ah! This post gave me goosebumps! I love that you are so happy and finding joy in the simple things in life. We should all aspire to that! Congrats on your one-year-in-Michigan anniversary!

    – e

  11. kazoofifi permalink
    July 8, 2010 12:48 pm

    Belated Welcome to the MITTEN! We ARE an AWESOME state! Great post! (Too many!!!!?)


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