Reflecting on the past decade, new year

So much has happened in the last 10 years, and in just 2019 as well. I’m sure everyone has claimed that, but Derek and I have gone through so many changes.

From 2010-2019 we went from being engaged to married, we bought our first house (and then subsequently had to give that house up when we felt we had no choice but to leave Pennsylvania), we started new jobs and careers and then got laid off from jobs.

We added two bachelors degrees in graphic design to our education, and then moved cross country to Houston, Texas, for Derek to get a masters degree in fine arts.

We enjoyed life in Houston for three years while he was in school, and I had a job that I loved. We had hoped to stay in Houston for a few more years, but when the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offers a job to teach graphic design, well, you pack up again for another (at least smaller) cross country move.

Derek moved out here first, on August 1, and I joined him on Sept. 12. We were apart for about five weeks, with a one week visit to Chattanooga in the middle of that time period.

It was rough to be separated from Derek for that long, but the time ended up going by fast, and now we’re better off for it.

I always enjoy starting over, for the sense of adventure, but with it also comes feelings of depression and hopelessness. Derek got to move to a new place, and have a plan in place for himself, whether it was starting school as a student or a teacher, but I had to worry for two months about finding a job.

We’re finally over those hurdles, and I’m happy that we’re starting the new year and decade with a little bit more of a permanent plan in place, or at least a longer term plan.

Chattanooga feels more like home to me than any other place I’ve lived in, and we won’t be ready to leave any time soon.

It would be great if we could stay here permanently, but because Derek ultimately wants a tenure track position, there will possibly be another move in our future. The nice thing though is that it won’t be in the near future.

Derek and I seem to do things in twos or threes: We lived in our first apartment in Pennsylvania for two years. We owned our house in Pennsylvania for three years. We went to school for the second degree for two years. Derek went to school for three years for the masters program. We were in Houston for three years. We were in our first apartment in Houston for two years.

It will be a relief to break free from that cycle for a while. No more moving, no more schooling. No more new jobs. I am quite happy with my current job, so I hope this rings true for me as well as Derek.

It’s comforting to know that, with any luck and barring any unforeseen circumstances, a good part of this decade will be the same, with no changes.

So far the first month of 2020 has been quiet for us, and I expect most of the winter to be quiet as well, but we’re enjoying our time together, and enjoying getting back on track.

For this year, I’m looking forward to spring coming, and with warmer weather comes more exploring. We have already seen so much of the Chattanooga area and I’m excited for all the things we still plan to do.

Moving in and an interview

I’m back tracking a bit with this post. I had originally wrote this entry in the beginning of August, and I wanted to wait to post this.

Derek moved to Chattanooga on Wednesday, July 31, and somehow, everything worked out in a way that I was able to go with him, and help him get settled in.

In the middle of July, I applied for a copywriting position. The position opened up on a Friday, and I applied for it on Saturday. They contacted me on Monday. I had an initial screening interview. Then I settled in for an unknown waiting period.

I was just starting to think that maybe they didn’t think I was good enough for an in-person interview, when they got back to me with hours to spare.

Derek and I were up early, out to breakfast at one of our favorite places. The time difference was on our side. It was 8 a.m. in Tennessee, and 7 a.m. in Houston.  I got an email saying they wanted to see me for an in-person interview.

We scheduled an interview for Friday afternoon. I called my boss in Houston at 7:30 a.m. to tell him that yes, I was going to Chattanooga that day. It’s okay, he knew it was a possibility, and he and my coworkers had planned for it.

So, to reiterate, I got the email at 7:15 a.m., and we left at 9:30 a.m. Derek loaded up the last few things into the truck and I quickly packed a duffle bag.

I drove our one car while Derek drove the truck and towed the second car on a trailer. It was a long 12 hour drive, made longer by having to tend to cats in the car, and Derek not being able to drive the speed limit with a large load.

We arrived in Chattanooga at 1:50 a.m., and I felt like I was arriving home. We crossed over the Tennessee River and we could see the other bridges all light up, with the lights reflecting in the water. It was beautiful. And we didn’t even get to see the mountains all around us yet because it was nighttime. 

Our apartment is nice, and an upgrade from what we have in Houston. It is bigger, and townhome style with two floors. It’s also cheaper too. That’s the nice perk of moving to a smaller city.

I was in Chattanooga for three full days, and we packed them in full (and unpacked as well, ha.)

We visited the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, and got to see where Derek’s office is and meet his colleagues. They were all nice and welcoming. The campus is beautiful too.

We also drove around a bit and got the lay of the land. We found the local grocery store, Walmart and tons of restaurants and coffee shops to check out in the future. We live north of the city proper, but Derek will still have an easy commute. Everything is a quick drive away. 

We found a coffee shop that we both liked, called Milk&Honey. After eating there, we checked out nearby Coolidge Park, which is is a large green area on the banks of the Tennessee River. There is also a carousel in the park! We also checked out a couple of stores and found an ice cream shop. This was all in a neighborhood called Northshore.

On our last night together, we were coming home from shopping and Derek took a back road the last few miles home. It was heavily wooded, and the homes back there were gorgeous. On one front lawn we saw a deer and two babies. I thought, “Welcome home.”  

By the time I left on Sunday morning, almost everything was in place, aside from things in the second bedroom, which is to be the office, and wall hangings, which Derek can get to in his own time.

As of today (August 21st) I am still waiting to hear if I got the job. I followed up earlier this week and they told me they are still in the process of interviewing candidates.

I am happy that it worked out this way though, even if the outcome ends up not being what I hoped for. It allowed me to come out and help with the moving process. While I am in Houston, I can picture where Derek is, both at home and at work. This also made the total separation only 38 days and not 42. And now we’re down to 22 days!

Derek at breakfast at our favorite place, before we left for the long 12 hour drive. He looks sleepy, he most definitely was; it was 6:30 in the morning!
Driving over the Mississippi River.
The before picture. I’ll post after pictures once I’m in Chattanooga for good!
Checking out the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s campus. This is the University Center building.
Checking out Milk&Honey, a cafe in the NorthShore.
The Walnut Street Bridge, a pedestrian bridge, spans the Tennessee River. This photo was taken at Coolidge Park.
The front of our new apartment.

One is the loneliest number…

Derek’s in Chattanooga, and I’m in Houston. We’re both alone, but Derek got the better end of the deal. He’s got all our furniture (not to mention the bed) and the cats too, so he’s surrounded by familiar things.

I guess I could say that my cot, and my folding lawn chair are familiar too, but that’s all I’ve got.

It’s hard having the minimum, and because Derek left in a bit of a hurry, we didn’t exactly think about who would need what the most. Derek has complained about wanting the shower caddy, and an extra trash can, which I still have, and I have gone through the motions of trying to microwave something without having a microwave!

It hasn’t been too bad though. We’re already down to 29 days left at most. Less than one month left.

I’ve settled into a routine, which isn’t too different than the routine we had when we were together. I get home from work, cook dinner, and then watch an episode of something through a streaming service. I have gotten into The Last Czars on Netflix, a miniseries about the Romanov family. Then I usually read, and chat with Derek through FaceTime.

Before I know it, it is time for bed. Once I’m settled, I watch YouTube videos. I have settled on watching the YouTube channel Super Carlin Brothers, which features videos on Harry Potter, Disney, etc. Each night I have watched them go head to head on various Harry Potter quizzes. Last night’s video was a Christmas themed quiz. There are so many quizzes that I’ve been watching them for a week straight, and there are enough to go on for another week at least.

Sleeping on the cot isn’t uncomfortable, but I would prefer my own bed. I alternate between sleeping well and not sleeping well. I have been having anxiety dreams about job prospects. I hope that something will work out in real life sooner than later.

Off to Tennessee

My husband Derek got a job as a full-time lecturer of graphic design at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, so we’re moving!

Derek had three applications out, one to Chattanooga, and two others in the Houston area. He made it to the second round of interviews for all three positions. I’m proud of him.

The other two jobs did not work out, and staying in Houston certainly would have been easier, but we are both happy with this outcome.

For as long as I can remember, I have said that I would like to live in Tennessee, and now that’s happening.

I can’t speak for Derek much, but Chattanooga seems like the perfect place for me.

I am glad that Chattanooga is still south enough that the winters are mild, but there will be more variation in the seasons now. I am most excited to see some decent fall foliage. Chattanooga is nicknamed Scenic City, and what could be more perfect for someone who loves the outdoors?

There was also a series of Civil War battles in the area during the Chattanooga campaign, in Oct-Nov. of 1863. As a Civil War buff, I am excited to get to explore these places.

Chattanooga is a travel hub, being close to many different cities. Atlanta, Huntsville, Knoxville and Nashville are all about two hours away. I am looking forward to exploring a new and wide area of the country.

I also love trains, and seeing the Chattanooga Choo Choo is top on my list. Not to mention the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and their excursion trips.

We are originally from Pennsylvania (where we went to college, met and married) and of the things that I miss the most about that area is the mountains. Chattanooga is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and one of the Civil War Battles occurred on nearby Lookout Mountain. I will be happy to have this scenery again.

There is a Riverfront area – the Tennessee River flows through Chattanooga – with farmers markets, restaurants, parks, a pedestrian bridge, kayak rentals and summer concerts.

Yes, I think I will like it there.

I know that Derek will like the fact that Chattanooga has the fastest internet in the United States and at an affordable price too. Chattanooga is also the first city to have its own typeface – an interesting fact for someone who loves typography.

I will definitely miss Houston, but knowing that I will like Chattanooga makes it easier to say goodbye.

There is a lot that we did not get to do in Texas. Unfortunately, there was not enough money, and not enough time. Perhaps we can come back for a visit someday.

Hopefully this will be remedied, with us having two incomes, and Derek not having to work on his master’s thesis on the weekends anymore. Plus, we hope to stay in Chattanooga for longer as well. We were in Houston for three years, for the duration of Derek’s master program.

Derek left on July 31st. He took mostly everything, including the cats, with him in a rental truck, and towed one of the cars behind it. I have been sleeping on a cot in an empty apartment.

We had to sign a 60 day vacate notice, and because we had little notice ourselves, this means we have our apartment in Houston until Sept 12.

If I can’t find a job before then, I will keep working at the Houston Chronicle, where I am a production editor, up until that date. I have been applying for jobs, but so far no luck. I do hope that we do not have to be separated for the full amount of time.

A New Home

Welcome to Seeing the Scenic City!

My name is Rebecca, and my husband’s name is Derek. We have spent the last three years in Houston, Texas, while Derek pursued a master of fine arts degree in graphic design at the University of Houston. Before that, we met and married in rural Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where we also received our undergraduate degrees at Mansfield University.  

Derek is a full-time lecturer of graphic design at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

We are both excited to explore our new home, Chattanooga. We are an adventurous couple, always finding something to do on the weekends. Neither of us had ever been to Tennessee before this opportunity.

Follow us as we see what the Scenic City, and surrounding areas, has to offer!