Friday, May 16, 2014

Shake the Frame, Six Years Later!

Last week I was poking around on the blog for something, a photo or a date, and I realized that in a few days it would be exactly six years since our very first post, the introduction to our blog and the start of our great Durham adventure. I made a note in my calendar, and today, May 16th, 2014, I am reflecting on the time that's passed since May 16th, 2008, and all the many new joys in Matt's and my life. Both days were Fridays; I don't remember the weather on that day in Boston, where I was writing from, but today in Durham it's a gem of a spring day; sunny, 65 and climbing, birds singing their hearts out.

Here are a few highlights:

We love our house. If you followed the (now hiberating) blog at all, you'll have seen the transition from abandoned, sad little house missing all its life-giving systems, previously "cowboy-ed" into a crappy rental, back to its better bones, and slowly filled with color, beloved items, and love. It's not perfect; the kitchen is still crap and the bathroom is still about to fall into the crawl space. We ignore daily the mold that is likely about to reach out and kill us from behind the tub walls. But we love it, because we've made it as beautiful as we can, and it holds our happiness.

February 2014
April 2014
 Cleveland-Holloway has changed beyond our craziest expectations. Some ways are subtle, like the daily interactions we have with folks on the street, both in the type of folks and in the conversations. The tensions are different; less wrought with talk of drug dealing (though it's not been entirely eradicated) and shady activity, and more to do with real estate, new development, and "new neighbor" drama and list-serv gold that's native to a changing environment. Slowly the empty houses, once so plentiful, have been filling in with new life, much like ours did, though fewer and fewer of them are being renovated by their owners—almost all of them instead by developers and contractors who are selling them "all fixed up" to varying degrees of quality.

While there have been periods of burn-out and others of distress with our neighborhood growing pains, we've settled into what feels like a true era of peace. Nellie and Craig moved into Carlton Street and now have a beautifully designed house and kick-ass yard, not to mention Ludo, a new friend for Cleveland. A year and a half ago we got amazing new friends in Emily-Kate and Laura, who bought and renovated the house on the corner of Oakwood and Primitive, essentially backing up to the swamp behind our house. They brought chickens, bees, fresh garden veggies, doggie friends Ruby and Chispa, spontaneous full moon roof-sits and dinner parties, and then last summer more new friends in Camille and Chris, who moved into Jennifer's house next door to us. Mallard Avenue itself is now completely full of lovely new neighbors, some of whom are so new we're still getting acquainted. We have so many good friends within these few small blocks, and it's amazing to know that any one of them is just a phone call or quick walk away if we need them.

Durham itself has just blown up with creative new businesses, innovation, and life. When we first arrived, the only bar downtown was Talk of the Town, and there were only a handful of restaurants, most of them only open for lunch. A few months later, on election night 2008, the Pinhook opened, and since then there's been a cascade of offerings that shows no sign of slowing. Even more exciting has been the changes to Central Park / Geer Street / the DIY district / whatever-you-want-to-call-it (as long as you don't call it NoCo - ugh). Starting with Fullsteam in 2010, there followed Geer Street Garden, Cocoa Cinnamon, Motorco, The Pit, and more on the way. We've seen the streets crammed with thousands of people for events like Marry Durham and Mardi Gras. We never could have called that one six years ago, when the area was nothing but abandoned garages and shuttered car showrooms, but we're so lucky to be a 15-minute walk away from that magic.

And on some more personal fronts:

We got married. Matt re-created our infamous first-date walk across Boston on September 16th, 2012, and popped the question at Massimino's, 6.5 years after our first meal together there (side note: hear us tell a story about how we met at The Monti last month). We planned for a year, and then tied the knot* on my parents' farm on October 12th, 2013. You can see some highlights below. It was awesome; pretty much our favorite day in history.

Matt & Jessie : wedding highlights from Inkspot Crow Films on Vimeo.
(The password is inkspotcrow)

We got married on Down Yonder Farm, surrounded by our loved ones.
*We decided to wait to get legally married until North Carolina stops being so bigoted and backwards towards its gay citizens. This decision became certain after Amendment One passed. We believe the days are numbered, though, until marriage is available to all, at which point we'll head to the courthouse.

We changed our names. After lots of conversation, we decided to smoosh our three last names into one: Gladdek. We like it! It feels kind of weird to be sans-hyphen after all these years.

My photography business is going well. I feel super lucky with my long-time clients and some newer ones, and have recently started renting a studio in the aforementioned Central Park district, right behind Motorco. I'm (still....) working on a new website... but for the moment my old one is still sufficing.

Matt got a kick-ass new job. After finishing his two Masters programs at UNC, he spent two years working for Quintiles, and then in December of 2013 was offered his dream job: Director of Government Relations at Downtown Durham, Inc. He's over the moon. I've never in our 8+ years together seen this man so happy. Both his office and my studio are a 10-15 minute walk from our house and each other. We meet up for lunch some days. It's a good life!

We're having a baby. See how I snuck that one in on ya? We got the news about two weeks after the honeymoon. Ha. He (yes, he!) is due around July 8th. We don't have a name yet, but we're taking suggestions. We might have to meet the little bugger first.

We're pretty damn excited about this one. We have no real idea what to expect, but we kind of like it that way. As I sit and write, his tiny feet are poking around my left side, visibly making my belly move. What a science-fictiony feeling. I love it.

We're building an addition! Finally! We get to address that crappy kitchen and bathroom, AND add some great extra space for Baby Gladdek. We're thrilled to be working with Center Studio Architecture in downtown Durham, since we're longtime fans of their work. David Arneson and Will Rhodenhiser have already been so awesome and inspiring in their designs. We'll likely get started sometime mid- to late-summer, during which time we'll move into a tiny house (about 450'sq) on Emily-Kate and Laura's property around the corner. If we're lucky, we'll be back in by Christmas, but more likely sometime after that. I plan to photograph the house as-is one last time before things really get torn up; I'll share the photos here when I do.

My dad got sick, like super sick, but fortunately is doing really well at the moment. You can check out his and my mom's blog about the experience here. Right now, we're just going to enjoy the gorgeous spring and summer, and enjoy the foray into grandparent-hood. Like I said, his health is pretty awesome right now, and while we're still going scan-to-scan, I have a very positive feeling about things.


It hasn't been without struggle, but seriously, I'm pretty bowled over with gratitude for the many, many charms and blessings of life in the past six years since that first post. I raise a glass (of sparkling grape juice) to the next six and beyond.

Cleveland is 6.5 years old!
Shake the frame of this house, distress the wood, make it shout!


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