Lessons Learned in Cajun Country - 1 year in.

May 23, 2012

Let's face it, the first year in Cajun Country is winding down. I feel like I've learned a lot, then again I still miss a lot of things about Monroe. Never thought I'd say that, right? Monroe and I have a love/hate relationship. I do miss the first house Jeremy and I lived in together, living across the street from the best ice cream ever, and our days working together at Restaurant Sage while we were engaged. Life has changed a lot in 3 years, and not at all in a single way I had planned. 

Had you asked me 5 years ago where I would be this would not be it at all. Jeremy wasn't on my radar, teaching wasn't on my radar. It was just Ellie. Ellie, and a whole lot of "what on earth do I plan to do after graduating". And well, since yesterday was the last teacher day of school (let's forget about summer school tomorrow) let's review just what all has happened in the past year. 

Somehow in our relationship we have morphed from two Psychology undergrad students, I myself living some crazy days in my cute little one bedroom townhouse with my dog & Jeremy off in a far closet of the BCM driving his Honda Shadow, to a teacher and a Psychology student working on a Specialist degree. It retrospective it has been an interesting ride. But 7 years in Fun-roe, a few boyfriends, and a dog later here I am married and living the graduate wife life in south Louisiana. 

The 1 year anniversary of us living in our downsized apartment and stuffing the life out of that 3rd bedroom with extra furnishing from our house in Monroe is fast approaching. Just so happens that our 3 year wedding anniversary is the anniversary of us moving here. 

Last May Jeremy moved back to Monroe to help me pack up, shoved everything we owned into a UHaul, and with him and the help of my parents we drug our lives down here. I am not going to lie, it was much harder than I expected. It wasn't until recently that I have been more at ease being here...just the being here part, this tiny oddly shaped apartment is going to make me insane. [how do you decorate a place with no kitchen? honestly I still need to do a show you my tiny apartment post.] So after some time here, here are a few lessons I have learned:

1. A fear of lizards and snakes is not something you should bring to swamp land. I am daily screaming at the top of my lungs and running for my life. The guys living next door have gotten a huge kick out of this, I have to give them props though because they tend to save me from lizards often. 

2. I apparently have a Yankee accent. I like to think of it as more of a back-woods-North-Louisiana accent, but no. Here it is "up north". At least one a week someone here tells me how cute my accent is. [secret: I never want to pick up this cajun accent]

3. Where North Louisiana is the Southern Baptist Belt, South Louisiana is Catholic land. Don't come here looking for a huge Southern Baptist church, you will never find it. 

4. It is hot. Very hot. Winter does not exist here. Invest in some of those reflective window things for your car. 

5. Shrimp trolling is done at night. News to me, my kids thought I was living under a rock not know that information. 

6. Swamp People is filmed in the town I work in. Still very funny to me. (that first sentence sounds so grammatically incorrect)

7. When your husband is in a "hard" graduate program...meaning not at all like my easy peasy Education Masters program, you will never see him. Get use to eating dinner alone. 

8. Although it was impossible to keep that carpeted house clean, it is also impossible to keep this tiled apartment clean too. Thanks dogs. 

9. Community is big with real Cajuns. They honestly value their good friends like they are family. I was lucky enough to be placed in a school that acts as a huge family. My crazy Cajun raised partner teacher has become one of my best friends. She lets me whine and moan and I let her do the same. She is such a great support and really encourages me to work my butt off. This girl is seriously organized and creative, she loves teaching and inspires me to love my kids and job. After last year I really needed this school year and kids. We were talking this week about how much we complain about stupid stuff, but hands down God has really blessed us with a great year. The community I experienced really made me learn to care again. As anti-sappy as I am I get teary eyed thinking about how much I love my kids and partner teacher. I would love to be able to retire after teaching 30 years with Lauren and all the other great teachers I have become friends with this year.

10. Little things count. With finances being guarded like graduate school has forced them to be these days you really have to appreciate every little thing. Going and doing is not as free as it was in the days of us both working and pulling in a nice chunk of the money together in Monroe. Luckily neither of us are super gift-y. My love language is obviously frozen yogurt dates or a clean house that I didn't clean. Although there are some things I won't speak of, I am convinced Jeremy's love language is coffee and eating anything not deemed healthy. Poor thing requested I make the "good fries" last night, he must have lost this mind thinking I would fry food on a weeknight. One of the best things we did this year was the "I love you because..." board I found on Pinterest. It is nice to leave words of affirmation when you rarely have time together during school. 

11. I have too much clothing. I didn't know this until I moved into the tiny little apartment. Where my life fit in one closet, one dresser...plus one drawer in Jeremy's dresser back in the old house I have taken over two closets in this house, thrown shoes a foot deep in one closet and stored bulky things under the bed, and stuffed sweaters in any nook or cranny I can find. You wouldn't know this seeing me during anything other than work hours...I immediately scrape off the day's makeup and ease into workout clothes upon the clock striking 3:30. It is sort of a carriage to pumpkin situation. 

And one last one:
12. Murphy's Law is mean. We moved here with the finances "perfectly" laid out, so laid out that we felt we could go to Italy with what we had saved. We sold our motorcycle, because it was the "responsible" thing to do. Bought Jeremy a car, because who wants to drive a bike in the rain when your wife lives 5 hours away; then move here only to have Jeremy's "new to us" car show it's true lemon side, have the air conditioner break in my paid off Mustang....and literally 7 hours from home and $500 after that was fixed [and two weeks after paying our non-refundable money for Italy] someone plowed into the back of my Mustang at a red light completely totaling it. We decided to bite the bullet and sell the horrible no good very bad lemon of a car only to discover we had been sold a lemon that had frame damage that wasn't reported to us, money lost there. So in the span of all this mess we had to put down money to buy 2 new cars at once, take on two car notes essentially doubling what we were paying before [remember my car was paid off], and take on insurance that was through the roof. I thought we were going to financially fall apart. Somehow we haven't though, not for lack of Murphy trying, God has provided; and I've managed to convince myself that it wasn't all punishment for going to Italy. Just goes to show how the best laid plans can go wrong.