Monday, July 22, 2013

Bookcasing It Up

We've been itching to start a new project for a couple of weeks and working on our home office seemed like the perfect thing to dig back in with. We still had boxes full of books stacked in the space that was to become our office, which made me feel like I hadn't "completely" moved in yet.

I fell in love with the cool clean lines of Ikea's white furniture. A little clicks on Google and I found out that the Expedit bookshelf was a mere inch shorter than the awkward built in nook we have in the space designated to be the office.There are a lot of books in our household, so having a tall bookcase with a lot of space for storage was a necessity. We decided to buy 3 2X4 Expedit bookshelves and 1 Expedit desk. The bookshelves would be laid on their sides and stacked one upon the other. Before we got started assembling the bookcases, I painted the back of the nook with the Dark Pewter paint we had in the family room to create some contrast with the mint green and white. 

After we assembled the first bookshelf, we realized that the Expedit desk attached to the thin dividers in the bookcase not the thick border that we had as the top. A little troubleshooting brought us to the following solution: marking where the desk grip would go, used a table knife, a screwdriver and a hammer to remove a chunk of the border. 

It worked like a charm! Soon after we had stacked all three bookcases on top of each other and had secured them all to the wall. 

I finally got rid of all the boxes filled with books and my house was officially completely unpacked. Since we have a hefty collection of books, a lot of which are heavy textbooks, I wanted to make sure that the bookshelf was styled right. I needed the styling to incorporate all of our books, be functional but also look aesthetically pleasing to the eye. That how I ended up separating all the books by color and arranging them in alternating patterns of books lying down/standing up. The bottom 2 rows I'm planning on putting some drawers and baskets to store office supplies and my scrapbooking odds and ends. 

It was only a 6 or 7 hr project that had a big overall effect on the functionality of our home. We finally have some use for that room right beside the front door and we can stop working from the dining room table. Now we just need a comfy sofa, a couple of lamps and a nice chair to finish off the room.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thoughts On Death

* Today marks the 2 year anniversary of my godfather's death after battling with cancer for 3 months. I wrote this shortly after his passing.

I think about death a lot… probably too much for a 22 year old with no apparent health risk. My thoughts of death got even more exacerbated when my godfather got cancer in March 2011 and passed away 3 months later. I watched a seemingly healthy 51 year old man waste away  but also saw the overwhelming love and support that came from everyone around him. His sickness and death definitely made me re-evaluate my priorities.

Growing up, I was an ambitious little thing; I wanted to see the world, cure cancer and make millions of dollars. I had spoken about being a career women and dedicating my life to science. As I started getting older my goals became a little more realistic and grounded and I was on the path to achieving all I had ever dreamed of. Then my godfather got sick and my whole life paradigm got shifted. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer; they didn't find it until it had already metastasized to other organs. His diagnosis shook our family to the core, no one was expecting it and nobody was prepared. Dozens of people visit his sickbed, without even asking friends raised $12,000 to help with his medical expenses. As he started getting sicker, more and more people would visit him and even though most of the time he was tired he never turned anyone away. People would come to his house, they would sit around to reminisce about the ways he had touched their lives by extending a helping hand when they were in need. He wasn't a volunteer worker or a great philanthropic, he was a humble man who worked at a local bank but he never turned anyone asking for help away.

When he passed away, hundreds, I mean hundreds people visited his wake. They were packed in like sardines, just hoping to see him one last time and offer words of comfort to his widow. This overwhelming show of support at his death made me completely re-evaluate my life, what I wanted to do with it and why. It made me question my decision to do a PhD, to spend a dozen years studying and not making my family a priority. It made me re-evaluate my upcoming marriage, seeing my godmother distraught at the passing of her first and only love, after 25 years of marriage and 35 years together, gave me a renewed sense of the incredibly powerful commitment marriage was going to be. As I saw my cousins cry over his deathbed, I thought about my own future children, how they’d become the most important thing in my life and how I could prepare to do the best possible job as a mother.

It has been the saddest moment in my short life but also the instance where I felt that I learned the most profound life lesson. I learned than on your headstone it doesn't say how many countries you've visited or how you many hours you spent at the office. People at your funeral don’t talk about the pictures from your trips or how big your house was. The speak of what a great human being you were and how your help and support made their lives better, They speak about your great job as a loving father and how you bought roses for your wife every Friday.

Because once you’re dead that’s it. It doesn't matter how high up you made it in your career or how many cars you bought in your lifetime, nobody will care to remember that.  It will all be forgotten, it will be meaningless. His death made me realize that most of my goals would give me temporary satisfaction and a great sense of accomplishment and pride but they weren't going to be talked about at my funeral.  They would also be forgotten. In the end people will be the only thing the matter, the people that you love and the people who love you. So then and there, I decided to concentrate my energies on being my best at the things that WILL be remembered. The things that people at my wake will sit down to reminisce about. My energies will be better spent making the life of the people around me better, happier and maybe just maybe somebody will sit at my funeral and speak of how I changed their life for the better too.