On California, Austin, Blogging and the Weather. . .

It seems as though referring to trips to California in the plural in my last post was apt. I'll be going the week of July 22nd, then again in either late September or early October when my mom's having a pretty major surgery. July is vacation, the other trip will be to help care for my mom while she heals. I won't know, though, until maybe the month before her surgery date when it will be exactly so that I can book the trip. If I have a decent flight on American Airlines in July, then I'll fly with them again.

For now, though, I've been working with Demand again as a freelance writer/web content producer. It's been pretty rewarding to be back to work doing that, even though transitioning back into being my own boss is taking some time and the editorial queue is a little bit slow going at the moment, which means projects sit for a week before they approved or sent back for re-writes. I'm also going to be applying for some other freelance work and I've applied with Leapforce to work as a search engine evaluator--but Leapforce requires a process before being accepted to work with them as an independent contractor, so that might be another week or two before I know anything from them.

Let's see, what else? There's not a whole lot else going on because I'm at home so much. There'll be an event at the capital in Austin on Monday for women's rights and though I'd like to go, only having one car makes that impossible. So, I don't think I'll be making it down there, particularly since it's not a short drive. Unless I can catch a ride with someone else going that way. Even still, I'm not sure I'll be able to go.

Oh, and I've been considering changing my blog's name. I don't know that it gives off the right vibes, but making that kind of change is a huge process and so far, I'm certain it's worth it. It would be easy to just buy a new domain name and point it, via redirect, at this blog, but then I'd have to maintain two URLs. To do otherwise and change everything over would be a huge amount of work and I'm not sure I wouldn't royally screw it up. Besides, I'm not sure what I'd change it to. Just something I've been thinking about.

Otherwise, the only thing going on is that the summer here is atrocious! It has been above 100 degrees almost every day this week and it's only June! And, for whatever reason, my air conditioner--which works and is blowing cold air--can't keep up with the heat so our house is like 80+ degrees at the hottest part of the day, even though I have the air turned down to 68 degrees all day and night. It's insane. Matt and I are thinking we'll get a window unit for the kitchen window to help give our AC that extra little push, but my biggest fear about that is that it won't work and we'll have waisted the money. We're also going to get insulated curtains for the bedroom windows and maybe new ones for the living room, too, I don't know yet. Maybe, also, new weather stripping for the door. Being hot is for the birds.

And now I'm rambling. Sorry. It's been a difficult week. I'm feeling a little bit low, so my brain is all over the place. Time for me to go, I've got work to get to.

On Trips to California...

Well, I had planned to work tonight (at Demand), but their system is down(ish), so I won't be doing that. At least I got one article written and submitted, I suppose that's something. It would figure that the first night I go back to work for them that something goes wrong. Maybe I'm cursed? And I'm not sure how much work I'll get done this weekend since Matt's off until Monday--well, he's working tonight, but he'll be off tomorrow through Monday. Ah well, c'est la vie. Not going to worry about it.

Instead, let's talk about taking a trip. More specifically, a trip to California to see the fam. Since I haven't landed a job yet--though I have plans otherwise because job hunting really brings me down--and neither has Matt, and we're not moving yet, I'm going to take the opportunity to go visit my folk and my little sister. I'm planning to go July 8th - July 15th, that's the plan right now. Unfortunately, I can't get my ticket until the first week of July, which means my plans aren't 100% set in stone. But, there have been a few snags with the planning process, too.

Like, for example, the how of making this trip has proven to be a little bit arduous. Mostly because Matt's being a stubborn pain in the ass. Okay, he's being protective and loving, but in this case that translates to stubborn-pain-in-the-ass!! You see, I am not going to be taking the train again. No how, no way, unh uh! If there are any questions about that, refer to my post about the train ride from hell. 'Nuff said. So then, if not then train, how? The obvious answer is to fly, right? Ha, fly right! My mom use to tell us to "shape up and fly right" when we were kids. Anyway, flying isn't obvious for and if you have any questions about that you can refer to my post about the flight from hell... well, okay, maybe not because that happened before I had this blog. Blek! Here's a synopsized version...

*deep breath* I got super sick, threw up the whole way, thought the fight was non-stop but it turned out to be one stop with no plane change, so I got off the plane in Las Vegas, thinking I was in Ontario because, in my sick haze, my brain couldn't differentiate because I'd been to both airports so many times, spent another 20 minutes in the bathroom throwing up, realized I was in Las Vegas, had nothing but my carry on bag, no cellphone, no money, couldn't get a hold of my mom because I didn't have her cell number and she wasn't home because she had gone to Ontario to get me, finally resorted in a crying, anxiety attack soaked fit to call my dad's work, where the secretary mistook me for Candi and I had to nearly yell at her to get to her realize it was an emergency and I needed to talk to my dad. *whew*

Yes, it was a freaking mess. Mom came to Vegas with Candi to pick me up. So you see, flying isn't at all my thing. And, honestly, I didn't want to do it. So, I suggested that I rent a car and drive. This is where my stubborn streak and Matt's met in a head on duel. He said absolutely not. He didn't want me to drive 2,600 miles round-trip alone. I said he couldn't forbid me, that's not how it works, and that I'd do what I wanted. I'm about to turn 35 and don't like being treated like a child.

Besides, if I drove I could bring back my table (an end table I bought from Carriage House Antiques but haven't ever been able to bring home), and some books my aunt wants me to have, and potentially the antique double bed frame my folks want to give me. Driving would be smart and I could bring Chewbi.

He still said no. He wasn't having it and I'm none-too-pleased to say that I think he won this one. It looks like, despite my former bad luck with planes and my fear of flying, that I'll be doing just that... flying. On the upside, it's only about 4 hours if I fly, which is nice. So, I think that rather than flying Southwest, which has always been hit-and-miss with me, and whom I'm feeling sour towards because they're fat-haters, I'll fly American Airlines instead. We'll see. I've never flown American, but they've got to be better than Southwest, right? Right... I hope.

Anyway, it should be a nice trip, despite my ugly feelings about being made to fly. I plan to scan all of our family photos--there must be thousands of them--so that I can have digital copies. That'll be quite the huge project, but it'll be fun too, to go through all that stuff with my mom. So, fair warning, lots of family photos and nostalgic fond memories forthcoming once I'm home. I'll be taking my Macbook, so I can scan them directly to my computer. Though, I'm thinking it might be better to scan them onto my mom's computer and then make a copy so that we have them on a PC, since everyone seems to have PC. I don't know, I'll work it out.

And... they have a POOL!! July in the desert heat with a pool. That's going to be awesome. Although, I've gained quite a bit of weight this year (so much for accepting myself!), so I'm a tiny bit embarrassed about the people out there seeing me like that. But, they're my family so they love me anyway. :) Being fat is totally not keeping me from jumping in that pool at my earliest convenience. Or, hell, even if it's not convenient! I'm swimming while I'm there!!

So, it should be fun, except that, again, Matt's not coming. He's got work and trying to work out the logistics of trying to kennel our dogs was a hug headache. Maybe he'll be able to go next time. I sure hope so, I always miss him so much and I know my family would like to see him. Ah well. :(

Okay, enough rambling. I think 1050 words or so is more than enough for now. Back to work, hoping their system is back up. Good night.

**Teeny tiny itty bitty little update: Might be that I'll be going the week of July 22nd since buying a ticket a few days before you fly (ie. buying a ticket on July 3rd for a July 8th trip) makes it, oh, like, twice as expensive. We'll see, I'll keep you posted! ;) But hey, on the upside, if I got that week I'll be able to spend my 35th birthday with my parents. Okay! Now I really am going to bed. Good night... again!

Catching Up. . .

Long time no see!

Yes, yes... I know it's my fault. If I was around here more, we might see more of each other, but I've busy, you know? Doing... stuff.

What stuff?

Well, let's see... I've been watching Mad Men on Netflix while my back heals. That show is infuriatingly addictive. I absolutely hate almost all of the characters, but I can't stop watching it. It's insane, sexist, misogynistic fun!

I've also been putting together a professional portfolio website so I can work toward more freelance clients. What's that, you want to see it? Okay, why not?!

[IMAGE REMOVED]

Click the image to go see the site live. Let me know what you think. I'm looking for feedback.

Let's see... what else?

Oh yeah! One more thing. It's looking like, unless one of the jobs I applied for comes through, that I'll be going to California in July. I'll fly out there, stay with my family for a week, then fly home. It'll either be July 8th - July 15th, or July 15th - July 22nd. I'll depend on a few factors, like Matt's work schedule (though I think the first one would be better because that's his long week. He wouldn't have much time to miss me). We'll see.

That's all I've got for now. Hope you're having a great summer. Now, I'm off to watch more Mad Men. Infuriating TV show! ;)

Blog Maintenance Updates

While sitting around tonight, avoiding cleaning my house, I got to fiddling with my blog. Nothing new there, right? I'm always moving the virtual furniture. This time, I made some different and notable changes, so I thought I'd share them with you.

  1. I messed with my theme, but only to change the header image on the left-hand sidebar. Otherwise, it's the same theme, which I'll likely keep for the foreseeable future because I love how it looks. Do you like the new image?

  2. I updated my social media icons with new colors that reflect the colors in my header.

  3. I added more ways to reach me and get in touch, including: Twitter, LinkedIn, About.me, and email contact icons.

  4. I moved my "blogroll" to a links page called "blogs & websites" that you can find on the top navigation bar.

  5. I moved some citation-type information to the footer so you know where I got my header image & how to find those cute little social media icons.

  6. I added an Instagram widget (my favorite iPhone app, by far!)

  7. I moved my admin link off the sidebar.

  8. Finally, I installed a plug-in that allowed me to make a really neat archives page, rather than the boring drop-down menu I had before, which can also be found on the navigation bar. Take a look, it's really neat. It categorizes it by the month, then includes either a title or a picture for the link to the post, depending, of course, on whether or not the post has any images. Too much fun!


That's about it, but it's the most blog maintenance I've done in a while. I may also mess with my theme link hover colors, but I'm not sure it's worth it since the theme coder included the stylesheets in a separate folder, making it impossible to edit the CSS from the built-in editor--which, as much as I love this theme, was almost a deal breaker because I'm a person who likes to make small tweaks to my themes.

So, what do you think?

PS. My site can now barrel roll. My life is complete. ((Go to the search bar on the left side, type barrel roll, and experience the magic)).

On Pain & Missed Opportunity...

“I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.” ― Flannery O'Connor

That pretty much sums up my week, so far. It's been a tough one, but I'm trying to pick myself up and soldier on, because the only other option is to give up, and that's no good. Besides, I'm not a quitter, even though it would be easier than the other options, particularly right now when my back is killing me and I've received bad news. I'm also having a pretty hard time figuring out how we got all the way to Wednesday without me noticing, but then I remember that the pain killers are to blame.

On Sunday, while cooing Chewbacca, I bent forward at a bad angle and strained my back. I wasn't even picking anything up and hadn't even bent all the way down, I was just a bit stooped when I felt something pull. After that, all there was was excruciating pain. Matt helped me to the sofa, where I promptly moaned that I didn't have time for a bad back, that I had a job interview in Sugar Land (outside Huston) on Tuesday. He just patted me on the leg and said I wasn't going to Sugar Land, that I couldn't even move, let alone drive 9 hours round trip.

On Monday, I could still hardly move so Matt took me to emergency. They poked, prodded, found out I have no reflexes, and said I'd strained it. They gave me a shot of morphine--which burns like crazy, by the way--and sent me home. The pain was still so bad that even the morphine didn't touch it. Instead, the drugs made me ambivalent to the pain, which I suppose is the next best thing. They prescribed Flexeril (muscle relaxer) and Norco (Vicodin & Tylenol), which I promptly took when Matt came home with them. All that and I still hurt.

Then, yesterday, while laying on the sofa in pain, again lamenting my missed opportunity in Sugar Land, I got an email from Epic that said they had chosen a different candidate and two from other places I'd applied notifying me that I wasn't a fit for their positions. Three rejections and one missed interview is a lot of bad news for one day. Particularly  for as much pain as I was in. I tried, really hard, not to feel sorry for myself. Rather, I applied for more jobs.

Today, I'm still in a fairly substantial amount of pain. I hurt more than I did yesterday, actually, but I've taken my meds which I'm hoping will take the edge off. I'm also up and trying to move around. I can walk and sit, and stand, and the doctor said that I should be fine by next week. I've filled my time with applying for more jobs. Whatever I'm feeling, that always makes me feel like I'm trying to be proactive and take control of my future.

And I am. I know I am. I'm just no good at waiting for the right position to come through. Patience is not my greatest virtue. Neither is dealing with pain, but I'm managing. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.

39 Years


This is my mom & dad, Cheryl & Glenn, probably when they were engaged, so somewhere around 1973. I should know, but I don't exactly. It's definitely the early 70's, they're so young and her hair gives it away. Not to mention those sleeves. Honestly, though, it had to be the early 70's because my parents didn't even meet until 1973. I love this picture.

This month they'll celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary.

Though I can never remember their exact wedding date--for some reason, I always want to say June 22nd--I am always able to remember how many years they've been married because they had me almost exactly four years after they wed.

Wedding: 1974. Me: 1978.

It's just so surreal to me to think that they've been married almost 40 years. I've been with Matt for 14 years and there are days when that seems like a long time. 40 years is literally a lifetime. In a world where so few people actually make it even to 10 years, my mom and dad will make it to 50!

I love you both so much and I miss you every day. Happy Anniversary (a tiny bit early) to the most wonderful parents in the world. I hope you have a beautiful 39th year of marriage.

DMA via iPhone...

I mentioned in my last post that Matt and I recently went to the Dallas Museum of Art. Since I love museums, this place is heaven to me. Being surrounded by so much artistic history always makes me feel profoundly small, in the best possible way. Unfortunately, museums aren't good camera-fodder because they disallow flash and don't allow patrons to photograph guest/loaned exhibits. So all of the beautiful Greek & Roman masterpieces will have to live in my memory (and in the $45 book I bought in the gift store).

I was allowed to take pictures with my phone in the permanent exhibits, but didn't get many because my phone's battery couldn't take it. Siri's navigation is fantastic, but she's a serious power hog, too! So I only got a few snaps, but I wanted to share a few of my favorites. Forgive my crooked photography, I never can tell if my pictures are straight.

I loved the modern art exhibit, though Matt wasn't all that impressed and was anxious to see the classical European pieces. I thought this exhibit of vintage gadgets was particularly fun...



My pictures do it absolutely zero justice. Especially that Electrolux in the top of the second shot. So neat! I also really liked the way this statue from New Guinea photographed. He looks like he has wings...


I stood for a long time and looked at this little owl mouth mask, also from New Guinea, while Mat was taken with this backgammon board  in the Indonesian/Asian exhibit...



How cute is he?! I'm sure he wasn't meant to be cute, but he still manages it remarkably. Then there was this nymph statue Matt insisted I photograph...


She's from India, 11th century. I'll spare you what he actually said when he saw her, but lets just say he thinks they foresaw plastic surgery centuries before it was actually invented. Awesome to see him appreciating art.

This guy was more my speed...


I had mentioned that we didn't stay and see the whole place, but before we left, Matt got to see his classical European masterpieces. This one was my favorite...


There's that crooked photo I was talking about. Both of the shots I got of this one (The Abduction of Europa) were off kilter. I need to work on that. Anyway, the next time we go, I'm going to insist on seeing the sculpture garden. I can't wait to go back soon and I'm pretty sure Matt's looking forward to it, too. I hope the Loren Mozley exhibit is still there. I loved his pieces!

An Interview & An Art Museum

I had a job interview this morning in Dallas, so Matt and I decided to make a day of it. The interview was with Epic Health Services for a marketing position--a job I would love to get.  I think it went well, the woman who interviewed me was very nice and the whole process was very encouraging. She did say she was interviewing other candidates and that it'll probably be the end of next week, or beginning of the week after, before I hear anything. Still, I feel that I'm qualified and that Epic would be a wonderful opportunity, so I'm hopeful! More about that when I know more. For now, my fingers are crossed.

After my interview we had Ponchos--which Matt loves and I don't so much love--then went to the Dallas Museum of Art to see the "The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece" exhibit. Though we had to pay admission to see the works, it was very worth the cost. Each and every one of the pieces was stunning. The only thing I regret about it is that I wasn't able to take pictures because the exhibit is on loan from the British Museum. Still, being able to see the "Discus thrower (diskobolos)" (Roman period, 2nd century A.D., after a lost Greek original of about 450–440 B.C., from the villa of the emperor Hadrian at Tivoli, Italy) was surreal. Many of them were so life-like, as though, had they been fully in-tact with all their limbs, they might have stepped off the dais. It was wonderful.

We spent some time looking at the permanent exhibits, too, but only got about a quarter of them seen before we were out of steam. The museum is huge and since we plan to go back sometime in the near future, there was no reason for us to rush it. Some of my favorites, though, were the weapons and jewelry from all over the world. Some of the pieces were just so beautiful. There wasn't enough light in the museum to use my Nikon, but I was able to get a lot of pictures with my iPhone, which was at 4% battery life when I got home for all the use it got today--Siri gives great directions, after all.

After the museum we hit Central Market again, which was both a great idea and a terrible one. We got a bottle of shiraz, a small bottle of saki (for Matt, who insisted), a six-pack of vanilla ale,  honey mead with mulled spices (Matt again!), cheese curds (yeah, Matt), muffins that are absolutely to die for, milk chocolate sea salt caramels, coffee beans, and a six-pack of cream soda. What we didn't buy is anything remotely necessary or useful. I informed him that when we move to the Metroplex we cannot shop there. We'd never get home with anything we actually need, rendering grocery shopping completely pointless. He laughed, but didn't disagree. He also didn't agree, which could mean we're in trouble.

After that we had IHOP to wait out the rush hour, then headed home. Really remarkable how a day can be such exhausting fun! We used Siri to guide us around the Metroplex, which was both amusing and frustrating, but we realized that as big as it is, it's not that difficult to get around up there. A serious plus considering our plans to move up there when we're able to secure employment. In all, it was a lovely day and Matt's promised me that sometime soon, since he wouldn't go today, that we can go to Ripley's Believe it or Not/Madame Tussaud's. I can hardly wait!

Childfree & Childed: Changing the Conversation

When I was in grad school, I wrote a paper for my Classical Rhetoric course entitled "Aristotle's Children." Though it sounds like a survey of the classical rhetors, it was in fact a discussion about the rhetorical battle between the childfree and those with children. The paper focused on the language that permeates the struggle between these two groups. Because, frankly, the language is ugly on both sides and it's making the situation worse for everyone involved. Both sides are culpable. The language coming out of both sides is hateful, petty, and divisive. We need to change the conversation.

One perfect example (but by not the only example) is a recent yahoo answers rant that calls parents "breeders" and then goes on to wonder why these people judge and dislike us. Maybe it's because we call them names like "breeder" and "mombie." If someone referred to me like that, I'd dislike them, too. I certainly dislike those who call me selfish, say I'm less of a person and woman, and/or assert that I'm responsible for the world's ills. Clearly, the language and the way we engage with one another is the problem. Until we change our approach, until both sides start to respect those who have made a different choice enough not to call them names, we will never see the equality the movement is ultimately seeking. Nor will parents find peace from judgment for their willingness to bring more people into the world. And that's the point, right? Equality of choice for everyone.

Because, just like feminism's goal is to seek equality with men, the childfree goal is to seek equality with the childed. It's a fight we can't completely win, of course, but there's can be nobility in seeking it if we allow ourselves to fight fair. Our decision to remain childfree should be as acceptable as the decision to have children, but the name calling--on both sides--needs to stop if we're ever going to get anywhere. Since we, the childfree, are the ones who've made a deliberate, and very adult, choice to remain without children, shouldn't it be us who is willing to rise above the hateful name calling and be the bigger person? Should we treat others the way we want to be treated? Isn't that the golden rule? Do unto others and all that.

Shouldn't the bottom line be that everyone's choices deserve to be respected? Obviously, it's a rhetorical question. Everyone's choices definitely deserve to be respected and this should be reflected in the way we speak to one another. We're all people, after all, and we all have feelings. It's as bad, or worse, for us to call them "breeders" and "mombies" as it is for them to call us "selfish" and "soulless." Everyone needs to take at least one step back and refocus on their points. Wash out our proverbial mouths with soap, wash away hateful, disrespectful language and then reengage one another with not only a new perspective, but a new vocabulary.

We should also think about what our points really are before we make them. What is it we're really trying to communicate? Do we really hate one another? Or, are we simply frustrated with the lack of respect for one another? For me, it's the lack of respect and attention to the fact that we're human beings and are, therefore, much more than our reproductive choices. And when I say we, I mean all of us, on both sides. Everyone deserves respect, as long as they're willing to give it, and suggesting that we're defined by the choices we've made with our reproductive systems is demeaning and disrespectful.

Ultimately, if every single childfree person would vow to stop using the word "breeder" then it would go away. If every childed person dedicated themselves to stop calling us "selfish" then the sentiment might change. We should stop judging one another. If we all dedicated ourselves to making a more respectful choices, then we would all interact in an environment built on a platform of mutual respect and consideration. Think about it.

Day-trip to the Fort Worth Zoo & Central Market. . .

Things have been a little bit tense around here, for a lot of reasons I don't really want to talk about, so we decided to take a little road trip to Fort Worth on Saturday. Though Matt would normally have had to work, he had secured a de-crew because he and his co-worker were trading days. The plan was to go to the Fort Worth Zoo and then have Red Lobster. I had everything mapped out, though both of those things were pretty easy to find, so we hit the road around noon, stopping only briefly to have lunch (Wendy's is awesome) in Granbury. The drive was actually really nice.

The zoo was amazing. Not only is it huge, but the animals are all happy and well cared for. All of the habitats are nice and clean, the people are nice. Some of the animals were such hams! Like my favorites, the Meerkats and the Cheetahs. . .


Matt claims to have just gone to see the monkeys, but when got off of the little train, he was pretty impressed with the longhorn, too...

By the time we got to the birds, I was wishing that I hadn't forgotten the memory card for my camera. I remembered to charge the battery, but somehow managed to forget the memory card. Since my camera has no internal memory, I had to leave it in the trunk. Still, these pretty pink birds would have looked amazing through my DSLR's lense...


The sea life was also really neat. They have an exhibit where you can touch living hermit crabs and starfish. Very cool. I sort of wanted to touch the upside-down jelly fish, but they were locked away for obvious reasons. Then you walk outside and they have a whole bunch of pelicans and costal birds...


On the way out I got some pictures of the flowers they're growing on the bridge where you enter and exit the park. So pretty and fragrant...


We spent about three hours at the zoo, in all, and by the time we went for dinner we were exhausted. Lots of walking and the zoo is particularly humid because of all of the water, so we were sweating like crazy. On the upside, I woke up on Sunday feeling like I'd gotten a work out. I even managed to remember sunscreen so I didn't burn to a crisp.

We had dinner, which was good, even if the service was horrible, then Matt suggested that we go to Central Market so we headed back up the street and picked up a few things. Matt's reason for going there was that he absolutely had to have cheese curds. Yuck!b But, while we were there we got muffins, coffee, gourmet marshmallows, orange blossom honey, and the most amazing milk chocolate sea salt caramels.


We've come to the conclusion that Central Market is the most amazing market. We both absolutely wanted to buy everything! We're going back on Wednesday, when we're in the Metroplex again (more on that later).

After Central Market we headed home, blaring Mumford & Sons, both having had a really nice day. It really helped clear some of the tension and uneasiness. On Wednesday we're going back to the Metroplex, which I'll talk more about later, and when our business is concluded we're going to the Dallas Museum of Art to see a Greek exhibit. I can't wait!

And on that note, I leave you with this video of us in a photo booth at the zoo. It's the first time we've ever been in a photo booth in the 14 years we've been a couple. Too much fun...



Good night!