Reflecting on 2011

Since it's New Year's Eve, I thought I'd take some time today to reflects on 2011. I'm sure once the new year starts, I'll talk about my hopes for 2012, but for now, it's still 2011. Let's just get this thing started by saying that this has not been a good year, in any sense of the word. A few good things have happened, but for the most part, the bad has far outweighed it. 2011 has been one tragedy after another and I'm not sorry to see it go. I just keep hoping that 2012 will be better, but I'm after the year I've had this year am not holding my breath.


So January started really terribly with the worst flu I've ever had. Really, the absolute worst. I spent almost 10 days really, really sick and still think I probably had swine flu. I didn't go to the doctor, I couldn't leave my house, but Matt had it the year before so I know the symptoms well. Whatever it was, it was the worst way to start the new year.  Then, we learned our only car needed $1,000 worth of work. Work we didn't do, by the way, because we didn't have the money. Our car is still running fine, for the most part, and though we have a little transmission trouble, it's not died yet. The silver lining was that I got a Kindle, which I love, love with all my heart and soul, so the month wasn't all bad.

In February, we had a major freeze. Everything froze for a week, I got a week off work, but we also didn't have water for four days because our pipes froze. No one in town had water after the first day or two, so we were glad we got some, but we still didn't have quite enough to get through four days without. No showers, which really sucked. Then, when that nightmare was over, the damn pipes burst and cost us more than $100 to fix. Then, as if all that wasn't bad enough, I found out someone had hacked my PayPal account and was taking out tons of small transactions, which was bleeding my PayPal account dry. I spent my anniversary, Valentine's Day, on the phone (at work) with PayPal trying to get it resolved--which I did, but my PayPal account was unavailable for weeks after that. Then, Matt's computer decided to act up. Awesome, stupid computer. Thankfully it was an easy fix. The silver lining in February was that Matt and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.

Thankfully, March went by almost without incident, except that my new oven died. Not cool, and not a big problem since it was under warranty, but just adds one more thing to the list of scream-worthy offenses. When April came along, it made up an almost incident-less March in a big way. My ex-husband's grandmother passed away. Though I hadn't seen her in years, she meant a lot to me, and I was so sad to hear she'd passed. April is never a good month anyway, but this made it so much worse.

In May I dyed my hair the worst color of red known to man. The stupid color came out exactly like the damn box, which it never does. Good going, Kristyn, seriously. In June, I started having more problems with my already problematic cell phone. Namely, we couldn't get phone calls, our texts wouldn't always get there and the ones that did were late, we couldn't get data. T-Mobile has the absolute worst customer service I've ever seen. Also in June, the school library decided to be an ass and not let me check out books because even though I'm a student, I wasn't currently registered. Since I needed the books to work on my thesis, this was a particular problem, but one I found a work around for. The good news for May and June was that Matt graduated (finally!!), and I got my really beautiful class ring.

July and August weren't as bad as the rest of the year, except that it was really, really hot. We had a terrible summer, with drought conditions and excessive heat. It was nasty, but not something terrible for just me. I spent most of the summer just working on my thesis stuff and studying for my comps, which I passed decidedly. I did end up in the ER in August for a torn rotator cuff that everyone (mostly Matt and my mom) thought could be something more serious--that sucked. Oh, my blog also temporarily died and we started having problems with our DSL/phone service, which lasted another three months.

September was actually a pretty good month, except that I got pretty sick. My folks came out to Texas for a very short time to go through some of my grandmother's things. Matt and I went up to Plainview to see them, which was busy but was really nice. My mom gave me my grandmother's antique sewing machine, something I absolutely cherish. I was also back to work and actually teaching my very own College Composition (English 111) course. It was absolutely surreal. The end of September was terrible for us, since we had some job issues I'm not really going to discuss, making it impossible for us to save for our move, and further impossible because we had to spend our savings to stay afloat.

November was absolutely unremarkable, except that school kept me busy. December, however, not so much. Once school was over, something I was really thankful for, and everything was done I just spent this month taking some time for myself. Matt and I had a nice Christmas, but after that a mix of good and bad started to occur. I had a day of absolute clumsiness, which was just annoying. Then, my dishwasher died, which I'm so unhappy about since I can't afford to replace it. Then, last night, my damn heater died. We're going to replace the thermostat early next week, but there's no guarantee that's going to fix it. Thank goodness it's not that cold here, but as always, I'm cold so I'm unhappy. I figure that the only good of all that is that the dishwasher and heater died while it was still (barely) 2011. The silver lining this month was that we got a new puppy, Chewbi, who is driving us absolutely insane with his cuteness, and we're loving every minute of it... even if Ani does hate him so far.

Let's see, what else, I've been a terrible blogger this year. I don't think I've written even 50 posts all year, which is not good at all. I think next year I'm going to try to make more of an effort to write here. I do so love blogging, which constitutes taking time out for myself, in a big way, something I didn't do much of this year, even though it was part of my  new year's resolutions.

Some good things did happen this year, most of which I tried to include above. Over the last month, I lost 15 lbs. and all I did was stop eating so many sweets... well, any sweets at all. My teeth have been really bothering me, but dentists are too expensive, so I've laid off most of the foods that hurt them. On the up-side, tooth pain has helped me to kick the sweets, something I thought I'd never be able to do, so that's good. I also got a new phone, an iPhone which I absolutely love, so that was good. Oh, and some of the best news of the year was a clean bill of health. That was awesome. I also consider another year of being childfree a major silver living!  So the year wasn't all bad, just mostly!

So anyway, I'm off. Tomorrow, or the day after, I'll talk about my new year's resolutions from both last year and for the coming year, too. I hope your 2011 was better than mine. Also, if you managed to get through this whole post, thanks for hanging in there with me. If not, I don't blame you at all. Happy New Year's Eve to all.

Meet Chewbi!!

Yesterday, Matt and I welcomed a new addition to our family, a Shih-Tzu puppy we named
Kenobi Chewbacca. We toyed with other names, like Fitzwilliam and Pemberley, and Matt wanted to name him Wicket or Warrick, we also considered Ares and Valancourt, but in the end we decided on
Kenobi Chewbacca because it just fit him better than any of the other names--Matt just talked me into changing it, on the promise that I can call him Chewbi. We also thought it would be easier for him to learn because of the hard sound at the front, and it works because our other Shih-Tzu baby's name is Anakin!  Win, win. 


Chewbacca is 8 weeks old and will be gold when he's grown, but for now he's this adorable brownish color. He's very playful, loves to nap, eats and drinks quite a bit, and already knows how to use the piddle pads. He's really a wonderful dog and we're so happy to have him.

Unfortunately, Ani's not as happy about it. He's been very skittish about the puppy, he doesn't know what to think of him yet. Whenever Chewbi tries to play with him, he runs away or barks at him. At first, I was actually a little bit worried about it, but I read that it can take several weeks for older dogs to warm to puppies, so I'm keeping an open mind. I'm sure Anakin will grow to love him, but it may take time and the puppy may have to grow a little bit, as right now he's tiny.


Look at those eyes!!


I just fell instantly in love with him!!


He is a bit of a biter, but he's teething so it's expected. I've been trying to give him other things to chew on, but he prefers fingers and pant legs--hence the change in his name to Chewbacca.

Now I'm off to snuggle with the little guy while he sleeps. I'm sure there will be many more pictures to come, I'm a little camera crazy like that!! ~.^

2011 Strikes Again!!

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the ones where absolutely nothing seems to go right for you. Yeah, well, yesterday was that day for me. A fitting end to a terrible year, I think, and I suppose I should just be grateful that it's still 2011 so I can blame it on my bad year--something further pointed out by one of my friends while I was complaining about it on Facebook yesterday. And you know, I think I complain at the end of every year that I had a bad one, and that I hope the next one is better, but this year I mean it more than I ever have before. This terribly-terrible year puts all my previous mildly-terrible years to shame. It hasn't been a good one, so I'm glad to count it nearly done!!

Oh yeah, yesterday, so I got up with an overwhelming desire to clean my house, something I had been feeling on Christmas day, too, but ignored. This doesn't happen to me often, it really has to be a mess before I actually want to clean it. You see, I hate to clean, hate it, but I love to live in a clean house. A problem, I know, and something I'm working on. The funny thing is, when the house is clean, I can usually manage to keep it that way with 15-20 minutes of work a day, no problem, but if I let it slip a few days, all my previous efforts were wasted because the house looks like a tornado blew threw it. An issue compounded by the fact that we don't seem to have enough storage space, so even when everything's clean and tidy, it feels cluttered. Something we're going to work on by purchasing another filing cabinet. That should take care of some of the clutter. Amen!

So, I start cleaning up and that's when the problem's start. Matt volunteered to help me (a Christmas miracle!!), and while he was up and around I got the bright idea that I'd clean up behind his chair, where a few things had fallen. Okay, no problem, I sat down in his chair, reached back, and rather than getting stuff I hit the surge bar and turned off his computer, monitor, the printer, and the modem for our net. Brilliant, really, brilliant. He was annoyed, but laughed it off after I got the problem resolved and we went about our day. This, however, was only the beginning and not an issue in itself, except that it initiates a whole string of stupid issues.

You see, after we get the living room picked up, I'm dusting around the TV when again, like a dumbass, I bump into another surge protector. The TV, TiVO, Blu-Ray player, X-Box, telephone, and scented wax warmer all go off. Matt looked at me like I'd lost it, and then burst into a fit of laughter at my clumsiness. Great. So I get that all turned back on and go about my business, into the kitchen, where it's a disaster.  This is when I find out, after loading the dishwasher, that the dishwasher is actually dead. Fantastic. Really, seriously, fantastic. Fortunately, I wash all the dishes really well by hand before I put them in there so all I needed to do was rinse them, dry them, and put them away... of course, I have like five loads to do, so a broken dishwasher is not on my happy list because now I have to wash them all by hand.  Suddenly the dishwasher is nothing more than a glorified dish drainer.

So, what do I do? I walk over to the fixture on the wall, you know the one with the little red and black button to reset some of the electricity in the kitchen, and push the button when again, everything goes off--my thought process here is that maybe the dishwasher just needs to be reset. This time, everything on that side of the kitchen, including the coffee pot which was in the process of brewing, and again the TV, TiVO, Blu-Ray player, X-Box, telephone, and scented wax warmer, because apparently the surge bar that stuff is plugged into is in a socket that's on the same circuit as that side of the kitchen. By this point, I am really not happy, and Matt's laughing hysterically, except about the dishwasher, about which he seemed to have a lot of sympathy for me--if you saw my kitchen, you'd understand.

Okay, so cleaning the house is turning into one oops after another, and I'm trudging on because it's a big mess and I'd really like to get it cleaned up before the new year. Great. So, I start working through the dishes--by hand--when a glass I'm washing breaks in my hand and cuts my knuckle open. I wasn't even scrubbing the damn thing, nor was I holding it very tight, so why it decided to break in my hands is beyond me, but now I'm bleeding all over the place, which ruins the current dish water and means I have to run another sink. Grrrr!! At this point, I actually considered giving up and trying again another day. But no, I'm not that smart.

So, I fill the racks in the dishwasher with clean dishes to dry, clean up my bloody finger--which hurts like hell, by the way--and go into the bedroom to turn off the breaker circuit that's associated with the dishwasher, because if it's not working there's no reason it should be plugged in. Okay, but I don't know which one it is, so I flip off two or three when Matt starts having a cow, then laughing again. Turns out, in my breaker flipping, I managed to turn off everything on that side of the house. The dishwasher, the stove, and the circuit that has the TV, TiVo, et al. plugged into it, so that stuff goes off... again! Okay, so I had a little fit, I admit it, then I unplugged the dishwasher, and turned all the circuits back on so that stuff could reboot again.

By this point, I actually did decide to quit. Then, Matt ran out to Wal-Mart to get a few things we needed and while he was gone I managed to step on one of the floor registers in the kitchen--one of the pains of living in a mobile home, by the way--and the slats in the register in the kitchen are rusting, so they break out under me and I nearly fall into the vent. I manage to avoid it by a narrow margin, but now I'm falling backwards and about to crack my head on a piece of rather heavy furniture. Not cool, thankfully I managed to catch myself on time. Ugh. I just sat down and tried not to kill myself while he was gone.

The last straw, however, was lunch. He got me chicken lasagna at the grocery store, something I love. So, I heated it up and was eating it when I actually broke a fork. That was the absolute last straw! I swear, if I wasn't on meds, I'd have likely just flipped out and lost it. That poor, broken fork would have been too much for me. Again, though, Matt thought it was hilarious. He got me another fork, which was nice of him, but he could hardly contain his laughter. I'm so glad that my tragedy can bring a smile to his face.

After all that, I spent the rest of the day on the sofa, watching 'Property Virgins' on HGTV. Hours of that--and I do mean hours-- drove Matt so crazy that he asked me to put in Mama Mia and then he actually wanted to watch Pride and Prejudice. So, my bad day had a good ending, but now I still have a ton of cleaning up to do, so I'm not terribly pleased with that. My dishes are only half done, my bathrooms need cleaning, the floors need mopping, and I'd really like to shampoo the carpets in the living room. Ooh, and I have like ten loads of laundry to do. So, it's going to be another long day, but hopefully it won't just suck the way yesterday did!

Fingers crossed!!

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas!!  I hope wherever you are, and whatever you're doing, you're having a wonderful day. Matt and I are spending a quiet Christmas at home together and will probably go look for something to eat around mid-day. I decided I wasn't going to spend Christmas cooking this year, so we'll probably have Chinese food, which is something of a tradition for us as this wouldn't be the first year we've done so. We'll also talk to family, though I've not called them yet since we've been up since 7:30am, too early to call California. All in all, we're just spending the holiday relaxing, which is really nice!!

Of course, when we got up this morning we opened gifts, which was a ton of fun!! My family sent us gifts, and my in-laws gave us a few, too, so we had quite a lot of packages to open. We divided them up and sat down to see what they had sent, which is always awesome. I love to get gifts and can't think of a time I've received a gift I didn't like; my family knows me well, so it's always a treat.

From my family I got a pair of really pretty earrings, a very warm pair of slippers,a soft brown and black scarf which is so amazingly lovely, a pretty wire dress-form, and two vintage apron patterns along with fabric, thread, and trim to make one of them!! I absolutely love it all, especially the patterns and all that goes with it. My folks, and Candi, know me very well, indeed.

Matt got a really nice men's care gift set,  a coffee mug, coffee in every flavor imaginable (he's currently drinking "Southern Comfort" and loving it), and a heated ice scraper for the car (which is really neat!!). He's quite happy with his haul this year, too. He loves coffee in a way that's not even natural, so this year was very good for him!

My in-laws got us each a calendar and donated, in our name, to a charity that brings food and water to hungry children in Africa. My friend Nikka also got me a really pretty Vera Bradley 'Frill' wallet. Ooh and we got a BHG Scented Wax Warmer, which we love beyond reason--currently melting Orange Clove Pomander which smells like Friendship tea!

Anyway, I'm about to be off so I can shower and get around, call my family, and go find something to eat. We were under a snow alert for last night, but it didn't quite get cold enough. So, we're having a gray, chilly Christmas, which is just fine with us. Merry Christmas again, I hope it's as wonderful for you as it will be for us!!

Happy Holidays!!

I've been on break for almost a week and it feels wonderful!  I finished up working on Tuesday afternoon, putting my students final grades in the system, and cleaning up my office for the holiday break. Who knew one small office could collect so much stuff?! I do now! Once everything was finished up and cleaned up, I went home and don't have to go back until January 17th, for which I am eternally grateful, though I'm sure this break is going to fly right by... they always do! This one particularly so because I've decided that I really need to write two chapters of my thesis if I'm going to graduate in May. No easy task, that, particularly because I'm stuck--surely a post for another time.

So far, though, I haven't done anything and it's been really nice. I've just spent the time with Matt, doing absolutely nothing because, well, I need the break! I haven't even cleaned my house, which is usually my first priority on school/work breaks. So, while my house is an absolute disaster, I'm not really moved to clean it up. No will to do so, whatsoever. The only thing I seem to have the will to do is game and watch Being Human (U.K.), which is an amazing show, by the way, and a definite post for another time!

For now, I wanted to share with you the Christmas card I made, on PowerPoint, for this year's Christmas.  I'm still quite a novice with this process, so the card isn't a standard size and won't be printed. Still, I wanted to share it here.


What do you think?! Although the card was made with PowerPoint, I did the lettering in Photoshop and dropped it into the card as an image. That way, the letters come out looking crisp and have effects I can't seem to get with PowerPoint alone. I guess what I'm saying is, I cheat! The photo on the card was taken in August, but is a fairly recent picture of us, so I thought I'd use it. We don't really have a Christmas picture, or a recent professional photo, though I'd really like for us to get our pictures done again sometime soon, so a candid was all I had laying around.

Anyway, I'm off!! If I don't drop in to post again before Christmas, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday this year!

Santa, Self-Esteem, & The Spirit of Christmas

The classes I teach, and the one I observe at 8:00 a.m., are doing presentations this week over their research prospectus projects. For the most part, all of the students chose topics you would expect, like the legal drinking age, wildlife management, and teen self-image, but today, during my observation hour, one of Dr. M's students gave a presentation about Santa Claus, which I thought was not only fun, but was also quite seasonally appropriate. I thought it was so fun, in fact, that here I am writing about it myself... in the spirit of the season, of course!

The student took a few interesting stances: that telling your kids that Santa's a real guy, who brings presents, can be damaging to a child's self-esteem, and that kids should be taught about the spirit of Santa and not that he's a real person. While I didn't initially see the connection between Santa and self-esteem, as she spoke I came to understand what she meant. I also agree that kids would be much less damaged by learning about the history of Christmas, and the mythology of Santa Claus as St. Nicholas, rather than teaching kids that a fat guy in a suit will bring them toys if they're good, and not if they're not.

On the self-esteem point, the correlation seems to be that for many kids whose parents cannot afford to give them as much--or anything at all--whose parents can't afford to buy them netbooks, iPods, and cell phones the perception is that they weren't as good or worthy because Santa didn't bother to bring them something as nice--or something at all, in some cases. Not only can I see that point, but I think that as Christmas becomes more commercial, and consumerism makes it possible for kids to ask for things like game consoles and iPads, the idea of Santa is also damaging to parents. Parents who can afford a nice Christmas, but maybe not to fork out $500 per kid on the latest gadgets are crippled by the folktale, stuck between giving their kids something they can't really afford to buy and breaking their hearts by breaking it to them that Santa's a myth, rather than a reality.

To that point, I recently heard someone say that when their kid asked them for a iPod for Christmas, and they said no, the kid came back with, "Why not?! You don't have to buy it, Santa will bring it!!"  If anything, this made me more glad I don't have kids to buy for. Santa and the consumerism of Christmas is making kids bold and parents broke! And really, most people who agree (on some level) that presents aren't really supposed to be the point of Christmas. Whether you believe it's religion or just simply family togetherness, presents are secondary to the spirit of the season, or they should be, at least.

On the second point, that kids should be taught about the spirit of Christmas and St. Nicholas, rather than that he's a real guy, I've always agreed with this point. I still remember when I found out there was no Santa (and likewise no any other imaginary holiday thing) and I remember how upset I was. Why tell your kids a lie, purposefully and knowingly, only to later admit to said lie? To me, it seems almost malicious. It's a tradition and one people follow without really giving it a lot of thought, but to teach kids not to lie, and then lie to them, only to later retract the lie and tell them it was for their own good to have been lied to, well, it seems wrong. I cannot fathom why people do it, except that they believe that to not do it would be bucking the tide and robbing their child of childhood experiences. To teach them about the spirit of Christmas seems a better option, but requires more faith in the child's ability to comprehend notions like history and mythology, something most people are unwilling to do.

So now that you know what I think, tell me what you think!!  Do you think we should tell kids about Santa and let traditions stand?

Work, Health, and the Holidays

I'm officially on break for a week and it feels awesome! This year, because of my schedule, I've managed to wrangle almost an entire 7 days out of the holiday. I worked yesterday from 8am until 2pm, and won't go back to work until next Monday at 8am. Let me tell you, I so needed this time off, both because I need to work on my thesis and because I need time to just do nothing here and there, and recharge my batteries. This semester is coming to an end, the last day of school is December 7, my classes take their final December 8th at 6:30pm, I have office hours every day during the week of finals and then we're done and Christmas break is here. Just like that! So, there's not a whole lot left to do, but there's a whole lot to do in the little time left... if that makes any sense at all.

For thanksgiving, Matt and I will just be staying home together this year. While we received a lot of lovely invitations, we've decided that this year we're just going to give thanks that we're together.  I'm going to make a ham, scalloped potatoes (from a box, because they're easy and we loooooooovvveee them), green bean casserole, cranberry stuffing, pink salad, and those yummy brown and serve rolls, which I really need to take out of the freezer. It's going to be delicious!! We'll still need a few things, but we'll get them as the week wears on toward the holiday. I think what I love most about it is that we'll have enough food to feed us for days and days. I can make meals out of what's left of the ham, assuming Matt doesn't eat it all. I thought about making a turkey, also, since HEB had a deal where if you bought a ham you got a turkey for free, but I decided against. Matt doesn't like it, we don't need that much food, and I didn't want to go to HEB. Thinking back on it now, I wish I had because we could have had the turkey later, another week, and it would have fed us forever!!

Among the many things we're going to be thankful this year, my health is high on the list. I think I mentioned that I had gone to the doctor and had a lot of lab work done because I have some problems that I need to get worked out. Well, I went to the doctor last week (on Friday) and we went over my labs. Everything came back normal, except my estrogen and progesterone levels, which are both very low. I have lazy ovaries, but otherwise, I'm healthy. All this time, I've been thinking I had PCOS, turns out I don't, which is absolutely awesome! Rather my amenorrhea is a result of those lazy ovaries, and not PCOS. Yay!! My A1C was normal (5.5), as was my thyroid--she said my trouble losing weight had to do with a slow metabolism. Both of the ultrasounds I had to have came back normal, which is awesome and hopefully means I won't have to go through that any time again in the near future.

So, I'm quite happy about that, all in all. She did put me on Sprintec, which is a BC pill, and Fluoxetine for my depression. So, between those two meds hopefully my biggest problems will be solved. Now if only I could drop some of this weight, we'd be all set. I feel like I really dodged a bullet with having such a good A1C and glucose levels. As much junk as I eat, my pancreas should have rebelled years ago. All in all, the fact that it hasn't has inspired me to want to eat a little bit better. Ease up on the carbs, particularly sweet foods, but that won't be/hasn't been easy for me. She told me to do Weight Watchers, which costs about $65 for 3 months. So I think, in January, when I can afford the extra cost, I may sign up for the 3 month period and see what I can do about losing some pounds.

All in all, finding out I'm healthy has been the silver lining to an otherwise miserable year, one I'm glad to see is coming to an end. For now, I'm off to take those rolls out of the freezer, so I hope everyone's having a lovely week and has a nice holiday. Season's blessings to you and yours.

Until the Legally Predetermined Period Has Ended, Do We Part?!

During a recent Shadowrun game (a dystopian role playing game), the issue of marriage came up. Matt was telling me that in the Shadowrun world that marriage is becoming archaic, that the marriages that do exist are purely secular, and that such marriages as polygamy are allowed. Somehow, from this, we ended up on the topic of marriage in today's world, a topic we're both interested in for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that we're, well, married. For whatever reason, issues of marriage have always been of interest to me. I love shows like Sister Wives, and maybe my almost obsession with issues of marriage comes from having been once divorced. I don't know, either way, this is a topic that commonly comes up between us.

During that conversation, we broached the subject of contractual periods of marriage. I know, this is a touchy subject largely because the institution of marriage in the western world is a religious one, even though it's controlled by secular bodies and many secular people get married. I think it's also appalling because our culture has this silly, antiquated notion that the only reason to get married is to have a family--defined by two parents (of different sexes) with children, and excluding couples without children, or same sex couples.  Would you believe that young people, of the millennial generation, still say they want to get married to "have a family"? This is their go-to answer, not for the number of other reasons, like companionship or economic stability, but to have a family. This is something students in English 111 say, across the board. It's unbelievable to me.

Anyway,  I still think that contractual periods of marriage is an interesting idea, one that would reduce the divorce rate considerably. So this morning, when my lovely friend Amberly posed this Psychology Today article "Getting Marriage-Whys: What We Really Need to Change," by Susan Pease Gadoua, my interest was immediately peaked. The article talks about the "one-size-fits-all institution" of marriage, discussing, you guessed it, the idea of periods of contractual marriage--something under consideration in Mexico, it would seem. She says, "Instead of holding everyone in the culture to a single standard forever, people in this model of marriage would be set up to succeed. And then everyone would live happily ever after."  And largely, I agree with her... though I do have some problems with her ideas.

Imagine a world where you could be married for a certain period of time, renew your marriage or not, and be free without the stigma of divorce to seek a more satisfying union elsewhere. That would be ideal, wouldn't it?  My biggest problem with this ideology is that it doesn't take into account such issues as the pain that would be caused if one spouse or the other didn't want to renew. Right now, you make a choice and are stuck with it forever, unless you get a divorce, but pain is inevitable either way, right? So, is it really better than divorce? I don't know. It also doesn't take into account the financial feasibility of this option, which in my opinion is quite low.

What I do know is that a happy marriage is worth the promise to stay together forever, without the worries that having to renew a marriage contract would include. Matt and I have a very happy marriage, and though we have problems, I'm not sure I would want to deal with having to renew my marriage license, like I do a driver's license. Though Matt and I have gotten into a lot of conversations about the fact that a marriage license is one of the only licenses that doesn't have to be renewed. Ironically, the law assumes you may go blind, or be unable to drive, but it fails to assume that you may grow discontent with your marriage. Good job, government.

I think, rather than contractual periods of marriage, that putting stricter regulations on getting married in the first place would be a more reasonable answer. Maybe don't let 18 year olds get married?  Maybe make the legal marriage age 25 or after the successful completion of your first college degree, which ever comes first?  There was a time not all that long ago that people getting married at 18 wasn't a problem. People divorced less then. Today, it's a problem--and for the record, I also think young people shouldn't be able to go to college until they're 25 and have some life experience by which to be able to appreciate said education, but that's another blog post entirely.

So take a minute to read the article and then tell me what you think. You've got my opinion!

Oh Friday, How I Love You...

What a lovely week I've had.

If you didn't read that with the utmost sarcasm, go back and re-read it, I'll wait. Done? Okay, now that we've gotten that squared away, it's been a pretty unpleasant week. I had to go to the doctor on Monday, which wouldn't be a big deal except that I haven't been to the doctor for a wellness check-up in, oh, let's say 12+ years. I was so nervous, which is both silly and completely justified, given how long it has taken me to get around to going. I mean, I've had medical insurance for a year and a half, or so, I should have gone before now, but I procrastinated.

The only thing that prompted me to go right now is that something really strange happened with my system, a strange reaction to a steroid shot I got a month ago, which made me worried--thanks, Kenalog shot, you're awesome (*eyeroll*). So, begrudgingly, I went. Of course, my nerves about it meant I couldn't focus at all on Monday, so work was absolutely torturous. I did get through both work and the appointment okay, without bursting into tears randomly, so that was positive. I saw a really lovely doctor, who listened to my plethora of medical problems with patience and made me feel like much less of a basket case.

She said she thinks I have PCOS, since I have all of the classic symptoms. Not, cool... but if that's the case I want to know it so I can start to treat it. Of course, now I'm worried because next year my insurance ends when my job is over, in May, I think, and how am I going to afford to keep being treated. I figure I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. In order to check for that disorder, however, I had to have bloodwork, which I went for yesterday, and two rather unpleasant ultrasounds, which I go for this coming Monday (Nov. 14th). So, now that I'm done being nerve-wracked about the doctors appointment, I get to be nerve-wracked about the ultrasounds. Sometimes, being a woman just doesn't pay.

Also, at my appointment on Monday, I asked her to put me on the pill. This is two fold, both because that random crazy occurance made me concerned that my infertility might be less infertile, and that I might be ovulating (heaven forbid!), and also because the pill helps with the symptoms of PCOS. She agreed and put me on Orthocyclen (Sprintec), which is fine, except that she told me to take one Monday night, one Tuesday Morning, and another Tuesday night to get caught up with the usual Sunday start date. This is where the problem came in. Monday night I took it and felt fine, but on Tuesday morning after taking the second one I got pretty sick. Like, very sick. Like, throwing up all over the place sick. I called the doctor's office Tuesday afternoon, after being sick all day, and they told me it was the estrogen from the pills, to go ahead and take the third pill (Tuesday night), and prescribed me Compazine for the nausea. Fantastic (and I mean that!!), it worked wonders.

Now I feel fine, but after having blood work yesterday, I'm starting to worry they might find something horrible in my test results. I wonder, do people who go to the doctor regularly worry so much about blood tests and pap results? They're testing me for a whole bunch of hormonal problems, most of which are associated with PCOS, for thyroid problems, and all the regular stuff like A1C (tests for diabetes), cholesterol, and all that good stuff. It should be another week or so before I know anything, which makes me stressed out in a major way. Stressing is so stupid, too, because now there's nothing I can do at this point, either way. Ugh. Maybe my problem is the overall feeling of helplessness at not being able to do anything. I'm sure I'll feel better once the results from all those tests are in and I know that I'm fine, or not, or whatever.

Okay, it's time for me to go. Both because I'm writing this on a break, at work, and because I've already said too much for one post. Besides, who really cares about my medical issues besides me and my family? No one, I know. I hope everyone's had a better week than I have, and has a good weekend to come.

Overwhelmed and Alone

I am in such an amazingly frustrated place right now. The year's almost over, I have so much to do, and seems that for all the world I can't get my feet under me. No matter what I do, we can't get ahead and do the things that need to be done. To make matters worse, I feel so utterly alone, it's not even funny. I have thesis, work, and grading which are things I have to do by myself, and it would be fine, if I didn't have to do everything else alone, too. And, to compound the issue, though I'm not much of a crier, I feel like I am going to cry all of the time.  The pressure in my head from holding back the tears is making me feel sick, and I have moments where I feel like I just can't go on another moment... like the only thing I want to do is crawl into bed and not crawl back out until things are better.

The irony, of course, is that if I don't put them in a better state, they're never going to get there, so sleeping off the weight of everything is impossible. Besides, I can't seem to sleep lately, and when I do, I have nightmares. I know not sleeping well is adding to my malaise, but sleep is not something you can force one way or the other. I've considered taking melatonin, but with the nightmares, I'm worried the melatonin will make them worse and the idea of being forced asleep makes my stomach turn with anxiety. So, any sort of sleep inducing medication is a no-go.  A definite no-go.

All of this makes me mostly glad I'm going to the doctor on Monday. But, I'm also afraid, which is adding to my restlessness and anxiety. I haven't been to the doctor in YEARS, so to go now is making me feel shaky and a little sick. But, it's better to get this stuff out of the way, to find out that I'm okay, or not okay, and deal with it. My body chemistry has been all screwed up, thanks I think, to a Kenalog shot I got for a sinus infection, so going to the doctor is a definite must, to avoid babies, which is about the last thing I want, or need in my already frustrated life right now.

There are other things, too, but this being a public forum, I don't think I can rightly talk about them. Besides, Matt would get mad at me if I talked about him or the problems we're having--even though it's my blog--so just assume that we're going through some things that I'd like to talk about but can't. How fucking sad, too, since this should be my place to discuss whatever I want. This should be my place to say how I feel, but I can't. Censorship is not cool, seriously. They say blogging is cheaper than therapy, but it looks like it may be therapy for me anyway... yeah, because we can afford that. Awesome.

Okay, enough pity party. I'm off. I have to proctor an exam in a little while, then teach my classes. Then I have grades to input in my gradebook before I can go home, where I have to finish up my thesis chapter, make dinner and clean the kitchen. So much to do, so overwhelmed.

HRH Mommy Kate... or Not.

Matt and I rather got into a tiff recently regarding the fertility of the new Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton (or Mountbatten-Windsor, if you want to be technical about it). Seems a strange topic for us, I know, especially considering that we're not English, but all of the tabloids here in the US seem so interested in the Duchess's fertility, or lack there of, that we couldn't help ourselves. So, while standing at the checkout at Wal-Mart, reading that Prince William and his new bride are simply overjoyed at being pregnant with twins--another false report, from the fine folks at Star--the debate began.

I suggested, in passing, that it was a shame that she was being treated like this and that there is something ridiculous about expecting her to have babies at all. I mean, who knows, she may want to be childfree, right? Please understand, this in no way suggests that she actually does want to be childfree, because I don't know, it was a hypothetical. It's much more likely, in fact, that she wants to be a mother, as many women do. It's not the point at all, really. The point is that I feel like it's unfair for it to be expected of her, her feelings aside.

Matt adamantly disagreed. He said that she knew when accepting the job of a princess, and marrying a man who stood in line for the throne, a man who will someday be King of England, what she was getting herself into. He contends that she understood what was expected of her, and consented to those expectations by accepting a prince as her husband. He's absolutely unwilling to relent on this point, he believes it's the case and won't be swayed... got to love a man with convictions, I guess.

The problem for me is that he's suggesting that her marrying the man she loves is somehow accepting a job. Like getting married is the same as becoming a secretary or a school teacher. Further, I take issue with the fact that that particular job should be accompanied by the expectation that she'll produce children. How many other jobs require you to have babies to keep them?! She's a person, not a stock animal.  When I said she should be able to marry whomever she wants and still have choices, he said, "right, but she choose to marry a prince and a prince comes with responsibilities." We went round and round for hours, each defending our sides, and though I think he ultimately won the argument, I still have a problem with the idea that she should have to do something she may or may not want to do as a form of patriotic responsibility.

So I suggested that this is the year 2011, not 1601, and people should be able to make their own choices, even royal people--I mean, Queen Elizabeth didn't have children!! He said, "Yeah, and look how well the Elizabeth thing turned out!! Besides, this isn't the real world we're talking about, it's fairyland where people have titles like prince, princess, duke and duchess. In fairyland, princesses are expected to have babies to propagate the royal line." Okay, he has a point, right, I mean we're not talking about every day situations, here. In everyday situations, people almost always have a right to make their own decisions. This is where the argument started to break down, and he started to win. I hate it when he wins!

So I tried again by explaining that I thought she should have a right to marry whomever she wants, without pretense, because even though this isn't the real world these people are living in, she's still a person. Oops, that was the wrong thing to say, because he came back with this gem, "it's not different than a person marrying someone who's childfree, with the understanding that so-doing would mean that they would have no children." He asked me what I thought would happen if, in the childfree scenario, one of the people changed their mind, to which I replied they would probably get a divorce. Yeah, exactly, that was his point. I asked him what he thought would happen if Kate decided she didn't want to have children, even if she did accept the idea initially, to which he replied that she should find another husband.

His only concession was to infertility. He agreed that if she were found to be infertile, due to circumstances that were out of her control, that it would just be bad luck for the crown. He didn't think that that circumstance would breed divorce, though he held fast to the idea that she was probably checked out before he was allowed to marry her to make sure that a) she could have babies, and b) wasn't with child at the time of the marriage. Still, things happen, right?

Whatever the case may be, whether she wants kids or not, I wish the tabloids would just leave her alone. I mean, why is it news to Americans that she's pregnant, or in this particular case, not pregnant? Other than the whole, every girl loves a fairy tale thing. Truthfully, I never was all that interested in the royal marriage, though I must say, she's growing on me. At first, I was incredibly put off by her wearing Princess Di's jewelry, particularly her ring, because I adored Princess Di and was quite broken up when she died. No one will replace her, and I've come to the conclusion that Kate's not really trying to. She seems like a lovely person and though she will always be a person of interest, I just wish it was less interest to rag mags that continually lie about what may or may not be happening in her newly-royal womb.

Sinking, Sinking, Sinking

You know, I've found that the longer I go without blogging, the more anxious I feel about it, which leads me to serious blog avoidance. Hence, no posts this month so far, unless you count the first and it occurred to me when I was typing that that particular problem pertains to everything in my life right now. The longer I avoid something, the more I want to avoid it. It's procrastination, taken to the absolute extreme. Take my thesis, for example. The longer I avoid it, the more anxiety I feel about avoiding it, the less I want to tackle it. So, there it sits, not getting done, because I'm too anxious to work on it. Grading and housework, too, for that matter.

It's everything in my life because I feel like I'm absolutely underwater, right now. I'm behind on everything, falling farther behind every day, and I feel like I just can't get caught up. It sucks to feel like your drowning in your own existence, but that's how I'm feeling right now. What's worse, it's absolutely not an illusion. I am drowning, I am behind, way behind, and every time I feel like I can start to get caught up, something else piles on. Grading, for instance. Grading is my biggest thing right now because it seems to take me forever. I get it done in time for a short reprieve, just for more papers to pile in. It's a part of the job, and I both accept and understand it, I even enjoy it most of the time, but right now it feels like an anchor tied to my feet.

Ugh, I just realized that I haven't written anything in almost a month and I'm back with complaining. Sorry. It's all I feel like doing right now, thanks to some rather annoying physiological things going on with me. So, it's bitch, bitch, bitch and maybe next week I'll feel less like complaining. For now, this is all I've got and you know, I'm okay with that because even though I'm complaining, I feel like it's digging me out of one of the many holes I'm stuck in. This represents one less thing I'm behind on, which actually makes me kind of happy. Weird, right?  I'm complaining about everything dragging me down and saying I'm happy about blogging. It's a bi-polar kind of day, I guess.

For now, I'm off. My students are taking a mid-term and papers will start coming in soon. I hope everyone's in less of a rut than I am right now, I wouldn't wish this on people I don't like, let alone friends. Oh, and please forgive the typos, I'm not really in an edit kind of mood.

Adieu.

Bad Housekeeping

I'm a terrible housekeeper. I figured that little admission might come in handy, considering I'm about to complain about my messy house... no, not messy, downright dirty. And you know, like everyone else I hate living in a dirty house. I just can't understand how it keeps getting like this. If it's clean, I can usually keep it that way for a while, but when it gets out of hand, it gets really out of hand and usually that has something to do with my slacking for a few days. That's all it takes, a few days, and my house is a disaster again. Then, it's the snowball effect and before I know it, we're knee deep in messy. It would probably help if I had help, someone, oh, I don't know, like a husband to take up half the slack. How novel.

Now you're probably thinking that I'm either being dramatic and that it's not really that bad, or that it's the opposite and we're some kind of hoarders who need an intervention. It's really neither, but rather somewhere in between. For example, since yesterday I've run three loads of dishes and i'm not even half done. I've probably got another 5+ loads to wash. Oh, and lets not even get started on the laundry, which I would love to say stays in the bedroom, but in fact seems to gather on the sofa in the living room. Matt takes his clothes off and throws them wherever he happens to be, and that means the sofa. No matter how often I ask him to quit it, he just keep using the living room as a hamper.

While a good part of the problem is that no matter how cleaned up my house is, it never feels clean because of the clutter, the problem is also that I can't keep things clean by myself. I simply can't. Matt makes more messes than anyone I've ever met, hands down. Messes just seem to grow from him, like he's just producing the mess that surrounds his desk from the ether. Today, I picked up a dozen or so cigarette boxes, several handfuls of food wrappers, half a dozen empty water bottles, handfuls of the little papers that they put in the top of the cigarette boxes, tissues, and believe it or not, cigarette butts from times he's spilled his ashtray and not bothered to clean it up. Oh, all that and his desk is still a huge mess! Then, he uses my computer and leaves his trash all over my desk. I got up yesterday and there were ashes on my desk (as there are right now), food wrappers, and his coffee press. All strewn out on my desk. Ugh!

And it's not just his desk (and mine) that are the problem. He lets the trash overflow in the laundry room, with coffee filters, before he takes it out. Do you know how hard it is to sweep up coffee? It's almost impossible to get it all up, in fact. It lingers, in the cracks and under the dryer, and gets all over everything. Right now, there're coffee grounds all over the laundry room floor because he took the trash out and didn't bother to sweep them up. So, yours truly is going to have to do the dirty work because he refuses to see the messes, or he doesn't care, or a combination of both things--though I think it much more likely that he's just ignoring it because he doesn't care if his environment is a disaster.

I suppose I should have known, when we first got together, and his friends came over and were downright shocked that his place was clean. Well, of course it was clean! There was a time when I was a really good housekeeper, before time and messes and apathy beat it out of me. I use to care that my house was a mess, and though I still do, I'm so distracted by the thought that it's just going to look like a mess again in less than a few days, that cleaning it up seems like wasted effort I could be expending doing something else... like grading, or working on my thesis, or preparing for class, or reading a book (hah, yeah, who has time for that?!).

And really, the fact that no matter how clean it is, it never looks or feels clean is a real downer. Living in a mobile home, for quite a long time now, things are just starting to be dingy. The walls are a little tiny bit yellow from the smoke, the carpets are downright disgusting from wear and tear and time and animals, things are breaking and are in need of repair, the blinds are cracking from time and sunshine. It's just disheartening. I can't get it really clean and I hate it. But even if I did, it wouldn't feel clean because of the clutter. We have so much clutter and every time I tell myself we'll get rid of something, I can either not bear to part with it, or Matt refuses to let me get rid of it (he's a HUGE pack-rat, worse than me by a mile).

So I keep telling myself that it's okay that I don't have the time, energy, nor the drive to keep things sparkling clean right now. I work a full-time job (teaching & grading are very time consuming) and am trying to write my thesis. I don't have time to do anything I enjoy right now, let alone to do the things I have to do, like keep my house clean. Matt won't help, and though he always says he will, time has taught me that those are empty promises. I'm getting use to it. But I told him that when we move, things I will be different. That when we move, and have a different house, that things will stay clean and he promises me that he'll help keep them that way.

I'll believe it when I see it, but right now I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I impressed upon him, and myself, that if my friends and family saw my house looking the way it does now, I would literally die of shame and embarrassment. I would never be able to show my face in public again, I would be so humiliated. It's important to me that people I care about be able to come visit me. I don't want to end up a shut in who can't let people come into her house because she's ashamed. I simply cant, and moving to a new state and living in a new place is a good way for us to start over, together, and form better habits. I just keep hoping that the change will fix some of the things that're broken and that we'll be able to work together to keep things clean. We'll see.

Banned Book Week

This week, from September 24th through October 1st, is Banned Book Week. I always miss it, even though it's always the last week of September, but this year I managed to catch it thanks to a random, campus-wide email by one of the English professors. For those who don't know, Banned Book Week is the American Library Association's yearly celebration of "the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment" (source).

For me, it's the time when we look at  our system thankfully, because even though there are people who would, and have, banned books, we live in a country where we're free to read anything we want, despite the objections of the close-minded. This week is a time to learn about books that have been banned not only repeatedly throughout history, but even in the previous year, and to reflect on what's being lost in attempts to ban intellectual property. What a sad world this would be if people determined to ban any material they found objectionable won. Could you imagine? Absolutely no books would exist, because there's no shortage of people who find at least something objectionable. I can't even imagine and even more so as quite a few of the books on the list of banned classics have absolutely changed my life.

So, in celebration of Banned Books Week, here are a few of the many things going on around the web. Check them out.

Banned Book Week Virtual Read-Out - Short readings from banned books. I found this both incredibly interesting and quite inspirational. Best of all, you can make a video and upload it to the Banned Books Week YouTube channel. Follow these guidelines to participate.

Banned Classics--A lit of banned classics. I had no idea how many classics I've both read, and have yet to read, before looking over this list. I'm preparing a list of books for reading just as soon as I get out of grad school. If you're interested in learning why some of them were banned, check this out.

Mapping Censorship--Click on the link below the map to see Google Map's mapping censorship website. [If you can't see the map, try refreshing].


View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2011 in a larger map
For now, and while you're here, please give this short video a watch. It's a short reading from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (for the Virtual Read-Out) and is well worth a listen as the reader reads it in both middle and modern English.



I hope you'll take a moment to check out some of these resources for Banned Book Week and reflect on how fortune we are to have access, via libraries and on the web, to so many banned, or nearly banned, books.

An Open Letter to Curtis Painter

Dear Curtis,

You've got a tough gig, I know. Being back-up to Peyton Manning for the last few years meant you really didn't have to do anything... ever. You had the cushy job of sitting on the bench and the privilege of having a front row seat, week in and week out, to the single most exciting player in the NFL. Period. I'm sure you spent a good deal of time preparing, working with the practice teams, and launching the ball during the pre-season, but no one ever expected you to actually do anything real. To really play, to really throw the ball in a real game, and to really try to lead the Colts to a win. All that lack of expectation must have been awesome. After all, no one was looking at you behind the monument that is Peyton Manning, so why would you need to try?

I get that. I also get that you must have felt a little bit slighted when, on Peyton's injury, the Colts went looking for a retired, second-rate player to lead the team. Why did they need Kerry Collins when you were there, a part of the Colts offense, and could have done it? Right? What's Collins know anyway? It's not like he's got 40,000+ career yards, or anything. I mean, really, what's the next to your 145 or so career yards, anyway?!  Maybe you were right, if that's how you felt, because just like you're no Manning, neither is Kerry Collins. And neither of you ever will be. But I felt for you. I did. Collins led us to two losses in the first two weeks, after all. Clearly, there's a reason he's retired--well, other than he's 38 years old. Then again, he's actually played the game, and scored touchdowns, and earned yards. He's a pro. But hey, so are you, right?

Then they put you in the game last night, against the Steelers. I wanted to root for you, to give you an A for effort, as a good friend of mine said. I thought, "Hey, maybe this guy deserves a chance and I'd love to see him step up." I wanted to want you, Curtis. I really, really wanted to tell that little voice in the back of my head, the one that said "there goes the game" when you came onto the field, to shut the hell up. I wanted to believe we could win with you on the field.

Then, I saw you fumble and vastly overthrow a receiver who was wide open. Wide open, Curtis! Seriously, I could have made that pass. They might as well have gone looking for a fan with a few college passes under his belt and let him play that quarter, after Collins' injury. We'd have been better off. I mean, I actually cringed, and I hate to cringe. I literally did that little cliche movement where you press your teeth together and shake your head. Unsurprisingly, when we lost, I wasn't terribly surprised. Neither was anyone else. But hey, when you make a paltry $400,000 a year, behind Peyton Manning's $20 million a year, who can expect much? I certainly don't, and let must say, I never will.

Sincerely,
Kristyn

 

Still Sick... Seriously.

Bleh, I'm sick. I've been sick all week, but the point is that I'm still sick. Every day I seem to feel worse, so yesterday I went to health services at my school. They say I have a pretty fierce sinus infection--thanks, rude hotel check-in lady in Plainview--and gave me a steroid shot and some antibiotics. I'm hoping that it helps soon, because I'm feeling pretty miserable and since I took Wednesday off, I'm at work today because my students can't afford too many days off. They said 24 hours on the steroid shot, that is before it starts doing anything, and a few days on the antibiotics. Hopefully, I'll be better by Monday.

Of course, being sick means I won't be able to go out to Bluff Dale Vineyard tomorrow afternoon and see The Accidental Band play. That, my friends, is a real bummer. Not only was I looking forward to some good folk music, I was looking forward to a few glasses of good wine. They have a wine called Sweet Caramella on their wine list that I have been dying to have. I was going to invest in a bottle, but since we won't be going, that won't be happening. With 50 papers coming in on Monday, and my formal observation/evaluation on Friday, I need a nice bottle of wine to take the edge off. For now, nothing doing. We'll definitely have to go next time they play there, in October... or maybe it's November. Whatever, either way we're going.

I did, however, feel pretty terrible about having to take the time off, so I got to work on my thesis. I finished my Chapter One corrections on Tuesday and sent them off to Dr. Y. On Wednesday, when I was off work because I couldn't speak or stop coughing, I got three pages of Chapter Two written. So, at least my days off were productive, regardless of my physical condition. My brain clearly still worked, at least a little bit. Then, today, when I get home from work (after 2pm), I'll get to work on Chapter Two again and, hopefully, bang out some more pages because it's due October 15th to Dr. Y for initial corrections and I keep hoping to finish it and get it to her sooner than that. We'll see.

Anyway, the bottom line seems to be that I'm sick and wish I weren't. Too much to do to be sick, honestly. I think I'll start taking Airborne or Emergen-C, or something, regularly from here out. My immune system could clearly use the boost, because when I get stressed out, I tend to catch whatever sickness floats my way. Seriously not cool.

 

Pics from Plainview

I wrote about our trip to Plainview, last weekend, now I thought I'd share some pictures. My sister, or I, took them with her iPhone. After seeing her phone, I'm even more convinced I want one!



Me and Matt (adjusted with Picnik), and me and mom. I don't think I have any pictures of mom and I, so this is awesome. I think she looks great in this pic!



Me and Candi, in both pictures. Candi's 22, can you believe that? We had a good time, it was awesome that she got to come with mom and dad this time.



The left-side picture is me and my papa (my grandma's husband since I was about 8 years old). The right-side picture is me with Candi and my aunt Wanell, my papa's daughter.

I realized that we got home without any pictures with me and my dad, which I was a little bit bummed about, actually. I'd love to have a shot of me and dad! As it is, I don't have one to share. Maybe I'll get one when they're out in May for my graduation. That would be nice.

Alright, time for me to go. It's getting late and I'm not feeling at all well. Good night.

Childfree, Indefensible Apparently

If you read here with any regularity, or take a look at my archives, you'll find that I don't often discuss hot button issues, like religion, politics, or my status as childfree. I am what I am, and being childfree is a part of that, but I don't like to discuss it here because it's not something I feel like I need to defend, especially as this isn't really a "childfree blog." If it were, I would be all over it, and I do enjoy some childfree blogs. Today, however, I'm going to talk about it because I'm feeling a little bit annoyed, and a little bit uneasy, and that breeds ranting.

So yeah, I was reading this article, which basically says that parenting is the ultimate form of cognitive dissonance. He says that parents create the myth of joy to compensate for any potential unhappiness with their irreversible status as parents, and that a study shows that parents are generally less happy than their childless counterparts. Whether I believe it or not is irrelevant (I tend to generally believe it, by the way), it was the comments that really ticked me off.  Apparently, people are still, in the year 2011, saying that people without children are less a part of the human experience than those who have them. Which, I'm sorry, is just ridiculous.

Things like this...
Unless you experience it, it's just like explaining a sunrise to a blind person.

or, this...
You will never understand the full human experience and the meaning of love without a child of your own.

oh, or maybe this sarcastic sentiment...
non-Parent­s know everything about parenting - haven't you heard? ...Non-parent­s- they can tell you everything you're doing wrong and how you could be doing better.

Honestly, I don't know why I read these things. All they do is upset me, and there's no shortage of people saying that those of us who're childfree are less human, or lacking something essential to being complete. Okay, so I don't know what it means to be a mother, but I have a mother and was once a kid. From that vantage point, everyone is at least a little bit qualified to speak to what it means, seeing how they themselves were once--or perhaps still are--a part of the parent/child dynamic. Not from the parent perspective, but as half of the relationship, nonetheless.

Truly though, lately I've had trouble feeling like some of the people in my life understand me and this choice. Which leads me to think that if we have trouble with the people in our own lives understanding us, how the hell can we expect perfect strangers, who may or may not know someone who's childfree, to understand us?

And heaven forbid we should try to defend ourselves and our choices, not that we should have to. It's as if those with children--many, not all--don't want to even try to understand us. Or, are so eager to defend their decisions that they can't possibly see that others might make a different one. I have my convictions, they'll never change, I'll never turn up wanting to have a baby, that's simply not something I'm about to abandon. Likewise, I'm not going to turn up suddenly liking babies or enjoying being around them. It's not who I am. That doesn't make me less human, or less of a person, it means I'm able to understand myself and who I am, on a fundamental level. Very few people can say the same. There's something to be said for that.

Vow Renewal?!

So, now that we've been married for 11 1/2 years, Matt and I have been talking about having a vow renewal ceremony for our 15th wedding anniversary. While we realize it's still 3 1/2 years away, it seems like an appropriate time to be considering it. Weddings, or in our case vow renewals, aren't cheap and we really want to have a ceremony we're going to remember for years to come. While there are several reasons to do this, particularly for us, we're also running into a few problems in the pre-pre-planning phase.

The first reason this is ideal for us is that we didn't have a wedding the first time. I had been married before and wanted to skip the whole ordeal and Matt didn't care one way or another. We wanted to be married, not to have a wedding, so we went to the court house in Waco, a beautiful building, and were married by a justice of the peace. We didn't even have attendants or witnesses. It was just the two of us, together, doing something special for our relationship, no overly expensive celebrations attached.

Unfortunately, no wedding means a lot of things we didn't think about at the time. For instance, we don't have wedding pictures. We don't even have a snapshot of us on that day, which is a bit of a bummer. I'd love to have something to look at, to look back, and remember that awesome day. As it stands, we simply don't have it. So having a vow renewal, which is more like a traditional wedding, would be a good way to commemorate our marriage, with pictures and those we love, and to celebrate 15 wonderful years together.

The second reason goes with the first, that is, because we didn't have a wedding our family and friends weren't able to celebrate with us. This seems like a really good reason to have a vow renewal to me. We agree on that. Also, I'd really like to give Matt the experience of having a wedding, now that we're settled into our relationship and can really appreciate what it means. When we were younger, I don't feel like we could have appreciated it the way we would now that we're older and have been together for a long time. We understand what being married means and that experience enables us to truly understand what it is to vow to love someone for better or worse.

Now for the problems. The biggest problem is that I hate weddings. I know, that sounds horrible, but it's the truth. I hate them, hate isn't even a strong enough word. I abhor them. I don't really understand it myself, but that's my feeling. It could stem from my experience the first time around, but who can say? So, having a vow renewal, which is a wedding of sorts, might be tricky. Yet the idea appeals to me; the weird thing is that I really do want to do it, despite my feelings about weddings.

Another issue, going hand in hand with the aforementioned problems is that any time I think about planning a wedding I feel sick. They cost a lot of money and I'm wondering if it's worth it. We could just get pictures made, but it's not the same thing. We should have the experience of a wedding, on our terms, the way we want one or not at all. I just keep coming back around to the question: Is it worth it? I mean, we're already married.

We also face the issue of who to invite. Of course our families would be invited, but where do we draw the line on that? If we do it at all, I would want it to be a very small affair-- As in, 30 people or less. We would want it to be personal, and private, and small. So, do I invite my aunts and cousins? Well, my Aunt Pam is a given, but what about the others? I wouldn't want to and that might cause family drama. Do I invite my husband's step-siblings? Is there really even any reason for that? Do we allow people to bring dates? Children? I think the kids thing would have to be a big fat no way. I don't like children and wouldn't want them hanging around--but then my sister has kids and how do you really exclude them? Which of our friends are to be invited and which not? How do we invite some and not others?

Oh, and then there's the whole do we have it in a church, thing. Matt and I are neither one very inclined toward religious institutions. I don't like churches, neither does he, so that would be out, but would everyone involved understand? Who's to say, really. I mean, I just keep telling myself this would be our day and no one elses, but there're still considerations to be made. I think I'd like to do it outside, in the autumn, during the early evening. That sounds ideal to me.

Yeah, I'm thinking about all of these things because if we do it, I want it to be well thought out before we even commit to trying it. I also want things the way I want them, and right now, I know how that will look. I have a vision in my head of the whole thing. I know how and what I want, and I want to make sure Matt has equal say because this would be as much for him as for me.

So now tell me, what do you think about the idea of a vow renewal? Would you do it? Do you think we should? Someone give me advice on this. I'd love to hear what others think of the idea. :)

{{PS. Yes, I realize I wrote two involved posts in one day, so don't miss the previous post, with pictures, about the vintage sewing machine!}}

Sewing Machine & Things



I decided, after going through some of that stuff last night, that it might be better to just make a new post with the pictures I was going to put in the last post. Two reasons: the last post is plenty long enough, without pictures, and I'd really like to dedicate a post to this because getting a good look at that sewing machine, and all the things in the boxes, really made me appreciate what I had in a whole new way. I was very, very happy to have the sewing machine because it had been my grandmother's and I loved her, but when I got a good look at it, I really saw the beauty in what I had.

I also realized, right away, that I have no idea how to use it. I don't even know if it works. I didn't plug it in and give it a spin, so it's possible it needs servicing before anything else.



I love the vintage green color. This machine has so many dials, nobs, and levers, I don't know that I'll ever be able to figure them all out. I have a new machine, a Brother, which seems so dumb-ed down next to this machine. Oh, as always click the images to see them larger. I've said so before, but I feel like this machine is worth a closer look!

And I must say, it wasn't until I opened that little hatch on the top, and saw that strange dial looking thing-y, that I realized I really had no clue. Last night, when I was going through the things in the boxes, I came across a little plastic Kenmore box filled with those strange red disks. After looking at them, and the little white stitch diagram printed on each one, I knew they must go with the sewing machine, but I still had no idea what to do with them. Then, this morning, while taking these pictures, I found that little hatch on top (second picture above) and realized they must be used to set the stitch-type. No idea how, but that's my guess right now. I have the manual, so I'll have to check it out later.



I was really impressed by how well maintained the whole thing was for being so old. My grandmother took impeccable care of things. The front door on the table, which it now occurs to me I should have taken a picture of, is a little bit loose and sags a tiny bit (not sure what to do about it), but overall the whole thing is in great shape. Even insofar as the springs that provide resistance for lowering the machine into the table--which you can see in the right side picture above--is still really tight. I was worried that the machine would fall into the table, when I was trying to lower it, but it didn't do so at all. I actually had to push more than I thought to get it down into the table, but it wen't without complaint. Such a neat thing, that!

In addition to the awesome table, which I am so impressed with, I came home with boxes full of stuff. One of the boxes is filled with nothing but fabric scraps, which are more like large pieces of fabric, but aren't quite enough to make garments. Going through that box I found a bag with two riveting tools (which seem to be different) and a whole bunch of metal rivets. I also found a few cross-stitch kits and some embroidery--which I may or may not attempt. Oh, and then there were the bags, yes plural, of thread. Spools and spools! I threw away all of the nearly empty spools, the ones where I could see the spool, and untangled the rest. I literally filled an entire vintage overnight case with spools of thread!



The left side picture is the spools of thread. Before last weekend, I kept all of my sewing things in that box. My scissors, patterns, books, needles, thread, everything. Now, it's full almost to the top with spools of thread in every color imaginable! The right side picture is the door on the front of the sewing table, I decided to take a quick picture of it. All of the presser feet and such are kept in there. The only thing I don't like about it is that there's no space, because of height clearance, to put the cans of oil for the machine in that drawer. Otherwise, it's a really cool feature and allows me to keep all of the machine's things together.




All in all, one of the coolest things I came back with was this neat little box. My grandmother kept her sewing things in. It's metal and is perfect to stash all of the things I wasn't able to store in the vintage overnight box anymore, because it's now filled with spools of thread. So, I'm using it for the same purpose my grandmother was and it's perfect for that. The big, black-handled scissors on top are pinking shears and they are pretty sharp. There're also two pair of sharp metal sewing scissors and a rotatory cutter, in there with the rest of my things. And, of course, pins and other sewing stuff.

Anyway, I've gone on and on long enough, so I think it's time to go. I'm not feeling 100% today and I have to work on my thesis before going to my meeting at 3pm. I hope you've enjoyed the pictures!

Family & the Weekend

I had the opportunity, this last weekend, to see my folks and my youngest sister who came to Texas to iron out a few final things with my grandmother's belongings. It was so nice to see them, I really miss them terribly being so far away. It was also quite hard. They came out this way for a rather quick, whirlwind trip here and back, which is both fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate because it means that the meager two days I had to spare were enough. Unfortunate because my mom has to get her myobloc treatments (which she gets every three months) this coming Wednesday. When it's close to her treatments, her condition starts to really bother her, so to take a trip like this was a brave thing to do right now.

I think the hard part of the weekend was being in my grandma's house, without my grandma. It was so strange. My papa Dwain was there, but it was just as hard for him as for the rest of us, particularly because we were taking a lot of my grandmother's things. He really struggled and said that once we all left, he was headed back out of town to see his friend. He really didn't want to stay in the house, and who could blame him? So I think after everyone left, early afternoon, so did he.

Anyway, after a six hour drive from Stephenville to Plainview early Saturday morning, we spent the day with my folks, my sister, and my aunt packing things up and moving things around. Some cousins from Lubbock (about an hour from Plainview) were coming--and came-- on Sunday morning to take a lot of the stuff, so it was really important for us to get things packed up for them. That was exhausting, to say the least, particularly so for my mom and my aunt, who both suffer from muscular/neuro-muscular disorders.

I did have the opportunity to have some things that belonged to my grandmother, for which I'm infinitely grateful. While she was still alive she gave me the family quilt--which is really neat and is something I plan to hang on the wall after we move. Now that a lot of her things needed to be moved, they allowed us to select a few things. One big thing I got was my grandmother's antique sewing machine. It's the sewing machine that my grandma made my mom's wedding dress on. When she asked me if I wanted it, there was no answer but the affirmative. I definitely wanted it! Then it was a matter of fitting it in our car. We have a little two door Pontiac Sunfire, so getting it in there was tricky business--It's the kind of machine that's bolted into a rather hefty table, so it's not small.

Matt and I did managed to fit it, with several boxes of thread, ribbons, and other sewing paraphernalia. I'm learning to sew, because it's something that makes me feel closer to my grandma, so having that really means a lot to me. The other things were some knickknack type things, like candle sticks, music boxes, things like that that had belonged to my grandma. All in all, I think we came back with five boxes, some bags of lose stuff, and the sewing machine. Matt brought it all in from the car this morning, before I left for work--what a sweetheart, even though I was being particularly unfriendly this morning; I can be really nasty in the mornings, poor guy!

The drive home last night was nice, but uneventful. We stopped at an IHOP in Lubbock and had lunch. While the service was terrible, the food was awesome. I only mention it because they have pumpkin pancakes right now, for fall, and they are absolutely to. die. for. They were delicious!! If you have a chance, eat them, seriously, eat them. Otherwise, we got in late last night and our baby was sooooooo happy to see us. Dogs aren't good when left alone, particularly needy little shih-tzus, and I always worry about him. We had a friend look in on him while we were gone, so we knew he was alright, but I still worry.

All in all it was a really nice weekend. Not terribly restful, but nice anyhow. I would trade rest to see my family any day. Until Saturday, I hadn't seen them since my grandmother's funeral last August. So, it has been more than a year and that's simply too long. I cannot wait until I can be packing up and moving home. Only another 8 months now and something tells me that's going to fly right by!  At least, I hope it does!!

{{PS. I'm at Tarleton right now, but when I get home later I intend to add a picture or two to this post. So, if you see it sans the photos, check back if you're interested in seeing them.}}

Pain

I feel like I complain all the time, but honestly, I have something to complain about  this time. I always feel like I have something to complain about, but right now, I'm in pretty serious pain, so that seems like a legitimate reason. My shoulder is absolutely killing me! I think I may have mentioned a month or so back that I went to the ER to have it looked at, since I was freaked out that it might be arm pain. They told me I have a "rotator cuff sprain" and to just not use it, to do some shoulder exercises, and to take muscle relaxers and it would heal up.

Well, guess what? It hasn't freaking healed up! As a matter of fact, I think it's getting worse. The pain is almost constant now. If I'm in a cold environment, it's worse! It just hurts and no amount of Advil is helping it. The only thing that seems to do the trick is the warm water from a shower and the Flexril they prescribed me. Unfortunately, the drugs make me totally loopy, which means I can't drive, or you know, think. Since I have a job that requires me to stand up in front of people and think, being drugged up isn't going to improve my job performance. It'll just make my students look at me like I've lost my mind, which isn't far from the truth with meds like that.

Matt thinks I need to go back to the doctor. Fortunately, I have medical insurance. Unfortunately, it's Friday and that's too late to get an appointment this week. So, I suffer. Since we're going out of town this weekend--my parents are going to Plainview (about 5 hours northwest of us) to sort through some more issues with my grandmother's belongings--I'll have the chance to take the meds, relax some, and go for a swim at the hotel on Saturday night. I so wish we had a pool, or knew someone who did that was close by, I feel like the weightlessness you experience in the water could be good for my shoulder pain.

Anyway, I have a little less than two hours until my class, my notes are preped and since I'm in pain, Matt's going to come pick me up and we'll, well, I don't know, actually. I guess we might go get food. That seems like the most judicious use of the little bit of time I have before my noon class commences. It will also get me out of the cool office, where I'm hurting, and into the warmth of the sun, where things aren't quite so painful.