by Lara on October 14, 2014

in life

Years ago when I was young and wild, I took that Myers-Briggs personality test and was told I was an ENTJ – extroversion/intuition/thinking/judgment.  Boy was I wild.  I jumped head first into everything, regrets lasted all of one night of crying and I was bouncing back harder than ever.  I was feral.

Taking the test again over the years, the E and the N have morphed to Introversion and sometimes Sensing.

Thinking and Judging never changes.  I’m always in my own rational head and always wanting things to be a little bit better.

I guess I have my parents to thank for the neuroticism of judging.  My mother was as OCD as they came without it interfering with being a functioning human and no matter what I did, no matter how excellent or photorealistic of a drawing I did, my father would point out a flaw.  It was his way of encouraging me to always strive to be better.

I’m the woman who will tell you that there’s something in your teeth, that will pick shed hairs off the back of your cardigan, that will grab the scissors and trim the string hanging from your dress.  It’s not to be critical, but to help you be your best.  I want you to keep your word, to give me your all, to be your best – because I’m busting my ass in life, overly generous and trying to anticipate your needs.

So after patiently and not so patiently wasting 5 years of my life in a relationship where I was always striving for very basic things to be better – things that are necessary in a healthy relationship – at 35 I’m finding myself absolutely intolerant of human flaws in my love life.  I can’t stand the thought of throwing away another 5 years on someone who isn’t meeting up to what I want.

Is what I want unreasonable?  Am I not a good partner?  What’s the difference between settling and compromise?  Am I the kid on the playground who refuses to share?  But I give and give and give!  Do I get blinded in the beginning stages of a relationship and not see the warning signs that are now so glaringly obvious?  Do I chronically attract man-children?  How do I even begin to attract the right men?  I have no fucking idea.  Because of this, I’ve come to a conclusion.

I think I need to be alone.

He’s moving out in a week or two and the sense of relief is so palpable I’m giggling.  I caught this one in the early stages of decay and I can honestly say the break-up will throw us into life-tests we both desperately need.

I need to be alone for a good long while.

I don’t think I’m humanly capable of living with someone ever again.  I think I’m getting too set in my ways.  Or not.

Alone sounds so good right now.



He’s taking his furniture and I will soon have a lot of gaps to fill… lots of decorating and enjoying my new house on my terms.  This excites the shit out of me.

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+ & –

by Lara on September 14, 2014

in life



  • It’s been a while since a + & - post!  So what’s new?!  I deleted my facebook account a week or so ago and there are some definite pluses and minuses to that.  The most important benefit is not having that time suck in my life anymore. It’s a pleasant relief.  No matter how much I tried to tailor my feed, I wasn’t seeing the things I wanted and was getting pulled into unpleasant childish comments and arguments and those stupid quizzes and buzzfeed posts.  It was like watching a train wreck.  The sad part about no more FB is that I have absolutely NO idea what the hell is going on anymore.  Part of this is my fault.  There are plenty of online resources to see what food festivals and whatnot are happening around town.  I need to use them.  I was lucky enough to hear from a friend that a mutual friend had been in a horrible accident.  So… not knowing the major personal events of my friends is a bummer.  I’m barely online as it is though – finally finished going through over a month of backed up posts in my Feedly this weekend – so I probably wouldn’t  be too up-to-date on friend happenings anyhow, so I’m now begging friends to keep me posted on the important stuff.  I want connections to be real.
  • I’m becoming a hermit, completely happy to pad around the house, cook on my expanse of countertops and slowly organize those little piles of crap lingering in closets.  My current view:

my happy place

  • See that pumpkin on my dining table?! I’m pretty excited about Fall.  I do most of my winter shopping throughout Spring and Summer – finding bizarre clearance items like sweaters and jackets at 90% off so I have a nice stash of tags-still-on cold weather wear to dive into.  Sweater dresses have been speaking to me and I’ll probably take the plunge and grab a cream and/or grey one like this:

cable knit dress

  • I finally got some color added to my back tattoo on Thursday and took both Thurs/Fri off.  It’s been a slow, lazy four-day weekend and I feel recharged and ready to kick some ass at work, after being seriously burnt out.


  • Work has been killing me lately.  Actually, this 3rd year at my firm has been full of challenges and frustration.  Just when I felt fully confident in my position, we moved to another floor which was a horrible process, and we got a huge case that’s tearing everyone on my team apart.  I am the sole admin support for the 6 attorneys working on the case and I’ve been completely overwhelmed, made some small mistakes, been yelled  at mercilessly and have been on a roller coaster of emotions, wondering if I should start looking for another job.
  • I’m having a hair crisis.  Growing out long and all one length (when I promised I would never have long hair again) is driving me mad.  I almost cut blunt bangs again this morning, just to have some personality and edge.  After looking at some old pictures of my bangs separating and being unruly… and generally reminding myself of the hassle, I put down the scissors.  Pray for me.
  • Is it bad of me that I don’t want to have a house warming party?  My coworkers, my father and my friends are all asking when the party is going to be.  First off – these are too many different worlds colliding.  My dad wants to invite HIS friends to show off that his daughter is making out okay in life.  My lawfirm coworkers and punky friends will most likely not get along.  My dad suggested an “open house” which would be less pressure.  I suppose I could prepare a bunch of food and sit around all day while people come in and out and random times.  Sounds like a blast!


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settling in

by Lara on August 17, 2014

in life

It’s been a week since moving into the house!

It’s been an exhilarating whirlwind.  The closing almost didn’t happen last Friday.  Between there being an issue with me having too much credit from the seller and no one had any idea how to apply it, the lender’s computer system going down, me racing to the bank to have money wired at the 11th hour and my attorney trying to leave early to go on vacation… I almost had a nervous breakdown.  THEN, my girlfriend met me at the apartment and drove me to U-Haul (after postponing my hold on a truck twice while the closing dragged out), I found out the dumdum who took my call changed the reservation to the next DAY, not an hour later.  I was completely defeated.  So my friend was an absolute saint and we packed up her giant SUV with half of the boxes on Friday night and the other half on Saturday morning and my dude and best dude friend moved all the heavy furniture on Saturday afternoon.  It all seems like a lifetime ago now, trying to recall the insanity of little late night trips back to the apartment, scrubbing and mopping and hauling a terrified cat to the new house and locking the door to the past one last time.

So this house!  I’m in love with it!  It could not be more perfect and comfortable.

It’s been non-stop cleaning and organizing and decorating and shopping.  I’ve been in heaven!

living roomMy first project was painting a bar cart I picked up a consignment store.  I primed it, sprayed it with an aqua gloss enamel and then a glossy top coat.

bar cart

Now I just need to stock up on booze!

The bedroom is clean and simple.  Really, everything is.  I hate clutter.  Nightstands should arrive tomorrow.

cherry night stand

I canceled cable!  Between network TV, internet and a Roku with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, we’re pretty set.  I don’t miss it a bit.

I ordered some prints on etsy.  There’s sooo much wall space.  Still not sure where these will go.

I’ve always wanted some Ernst Haeckel prints and got 2 small ones.

ernst haeckel

Plus these two:


eva design studio - geometric fox

I could spend a fortune on prints and frames.  Decorating is a challenge.  I like so many different styles and I’m trying to show restraint and keep things streamlined and consistent.  It’s hard.

My dad is bringing some things over on Tuesday, including a huge set of caribou antlers to go above the TV, a mahogany desk he made for me when I was younger and a book case to finally get the office organized.

My dad, oh my dad.  My Serbian side of the family has a tradition of giving a gold coin to a new homeowner.  My dad’s mother tossed one on the unfinished floor of the house he built (that I grew up in).  So, earlier this week, my dad helped me pick up a mid-century console from a weirdo on Craigslist and when we got it in the house, he quietly pulled out a gold coin and placed it on the console.  Of course, we both burst into tears and he told me how proud he was of me and how proud my mother would be and how he wished she was here and ooohhhh goodness, we were joyful wrecks.  It was so touching and sweet.

Living with a dog is getting better now that he has a big yard to run in.  Ulti has surprised me with his bravery in the new house.

Everything is falling into place and I’ve never been happier!


An Open Letter to Lowes

by Lara on August 3, 2014

in life

Dear Lowes:

I’m closing on my first home this Friday.  I’m really excited and have a ton of projects I plan to work on.  The first of these projects is to paint the living room walls and ceiling and get my closets organized.

Today I visited your Forest Hill Avenue store in Richmond, VA with list in hand.  I’ve had a now well-worn Olympic brand paint chip in my bag for about 6 months.  That’s how long I’ve been looking forward to getting a certain shade of grey mixed.  I also purchased an old bar cart this weekend and needed some primer and gloss enamel spray paint.  While I was browsing the spray paint, one of your sales associates (tall man with tan skin, dark facial hair and glasses) walked up to me and made a comment about me not knowing what I was doing.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured he was joking and I told him that I did indeed know what I was doing and thank you.  Not 5 minutes later he was back saying, “I thought you said you knew what you were doing.”  I wasn’t finding the color I wanted in a gloss enamel (your color selection in all brands but your in-house brand Valspar is pretty weak, which is an obvious ploy to bottleneck customer’s options with other brands).  He showed me that the different finish on the caps indicated if the paint was flat or glossy.  This was his only helpful tidbit of advice after he steered me to Valspar gloss spray paint – which is not enamel, which is what I wanted.  Of course, the color I wanted was out of stock.  We exchanged a few more words about me trying another Lowes and if I needed more help.  I told him I was buying my first house and that I was just browsing around.  He said congrats and moved on.

So, as I was filling my cart with the Zinsser ceiling paint and the Olympic brand satin paint I wanted, and reaching up to get a gallon of paint I could barely touch, trying to have it not fall on my head, your salesman was back.  He yelled at me from the end of the aisle and instead of helping me with the paint, he yanked it from my hands, “You don’t want this paint!”  He went on and on about how the Zinsser ceiling paint was unnecessary, because I could just use Valspar, and how the Olympic paint I picked was no good and pulled the other 2 gallons in my cart and placed them back on an empty shelf.  I was rendered speechless but since I couldn’t get a word in, it really didn’t matter.  He went on and on about how I should use Valspar paint… comparing the Olympic I had chosen to a more expensive gallon of Valspar, saying the price difference was nominal and that the Valspar had primer built in and had low VOCs and odor.  Just so  you know, the Olympic paint had these features as well, which I pointed out.  It didn’t matter.  I told him I really didn’t care if the paint had primer since the walls are already painted white.  He kept preaching about Valspar.

He called over the paint mixing associate and they both tag teamed me, fast-talking about the superior nature of Valspar paint.  When I finally had a chance to speak, I told them that I hadn’t heard good things about Valspar paint and that I have also had bad personal experiences with it. I was then given a lecture on how I must have heard about the lower end lines because there are 6 different grades and of course, it was only the inferior grades I must have heard about.  Then there was another lecture about the Zinsser ceiling paint, a brand I have had great experiences with.  According to your salesman, I didn’t need it because the regular Valspar wall paint would be good enough.  I told him that I wanted to get my wall paint tinted grey and wanted a white ceiling paint with one-coat stain-blocking abilities.  I pulled out my paint chip.  This was yanked out of my hand and promptly given to the paint mixing guy, who was told to find a similar Valspar shade.  He wrote notes all over it and walked away.  Someone was going to find a “similar” shade after I have been carrying around this particular paint chip for months?  Hell no.

At this point, I was infuriated but I’m a lady so I thanked everyone for their help and decided I had had enough.  I went to get my paint chip back, and I see that “flat” had been written on it when I had told then I wanted satin on the walls and flat for the ceiling.

No one was listening to me.  No one cared about what I wanted.  No one let me speak my mind and make my own choices.  I can guarantee that if I were a man in the same position in your store, I would not have been treated like this.  I was treated like an incompetent child.  I am a 35 year old professional woman.  My father is a contractor.  I have grown up around construction sites and ran my father’s construction company for 15 years.  I have painted with every brand of paint and I know an inferior product when I use it.  I also know a blowhard sexist pig when I see one.

I will be following my father’s advice (who is a European craftsman who would rather die than use a builder grade product) and will be purchasing Benjamin Moore paint from a local vendor who will treat me with respect.  It will also be a cold day in hell before I set foot in a Lowes store again.

I understand that one bad apple shouldn’t ruin the bunch.  The thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve been harassed and talked down to by men who work in your stores.  In case you haven’t noticed, women are pretty competent with home improvement projects.  Have you taken a look on Pinterest or DIY and home decor blogs?  Women are spearheading creative and inventive online tutorials for taking matters into our own hands instead of waiting for a man to do things for them around the house.

You may want to consider some sensitivity training for your employees because, I promise, one day one of your employees is going to rub a particularly litigious woman the wrong way and your legal team will be settling for millions of dollars outside of court for sexual discrimination.


Lara R.


all systems go!

by Lara on July 20, 2014

in life

Lord have mercy things are moving so fast!

The home inspection went fantastic.  The house was built in 1947 – a post-war baby boomer home, solidly built, with some small issues that my dad can knock out in a day.  The HVAC system needs to be serviced and I had no idea how much that was going to cost so, to keep the home warranty valid and to not gamble with my money, I countered after the inspection and requested that the seller have the heat pump serviced and to give me an additional credit of $1500.  She agreed 100%!!! I’m getting this home for less than the neighborhood comps! My agent was shocked and I’m thrilled!

My dad came by at the tail end of the 3.5 hour inspection, interrogated the inspector and then reviewed the report with a fine-tooth comb.  He’s giving his elusive thumbs up and everything is going forward!  I close on August 11.

My landlord has agreed to let me out of my lease early! In fact, he’s showing it to two couples tomorrow so, I spent the entire afternoon in a whirlwind cleaning frenzy that I wasn’t anticipating doing until after I moved all my stuff out.  The apartment is spotless and will just need to be kept tidy until I move out!

I’ve been bringing home boxes from work every day and slowly and methodically packing up my things. I’m getting rid of a bunch of crap, cleaning as I go, thinking about where everything is going in the new place and feeling really good about the whole experience.

The man and his large walker hound are moving into my apartment at the end of the week.  (Pray for Ulti.)  His roommate is being difficult so, we have to get a POD for him to temporarily hold his stuff between now and the closing date. He’s done packing and I’m giddy.

I took a million measurements of the house when I was loitering for hours at the inspection.  Then I measured my furniture and played with general layouts.  Here is the space I’m working with:

floor plan

Both beds are queen sized and the sofa is huge.  I left out a bunch of furniture in that mock-up but I’m really pleased with the way it’s all going to work out.  The empty room at the top center will be the office/craft room and I’m still up in the air about arrangement.  The closets are small so, I’ve been on Pinterest looking for closet solutions.  I also made a spreadsheet of what we have and what we need and what is going in which room.  I don’t think I could nerd out any more than I have.

There’s also the cancelling of the cable with one provider and only getting internet/netflix/hulu at the house with another provider and using a Roku.  I need to open water and electric accounts, get homeowner’s and title insurance, and I’m sure there’s a ton of other tiny but super important things I’ll need to do from now till August 11.

I’m already exhausted! :)

Any tips from you homeowners out there?

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