Category Archives: Me

“I liiiive!!”

The tone of this post ended up varying dramatically between informational and increadibly personal, so get what you can out of it?

The first ever Geek Girl Con was this weekend and, let me just say, I count myself fortunate to have been able to attend.

First off, my first con experience was PAX2011 earlier this year and it was more than a little overwhelming. You always hear about amazing “coming home” experiences people have at PAX, feelings of belonging and so on, but, for me, it was so big and loud and, honestly, intimidating, that I think the warm fuzzies I’d been hoping for were just not in the stars. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my time at PAX, but it just wasn’t as… accessible? as I thought it would be. I think that, maybe, a lot of the warm stories of PAX awesomeness that I’ve heard are from people that went when it was smaller and more intimate. What I saw was huge crowds, long lines, big vendors and glimpses of awesomeness. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m not a big fan of huge crowds or waiting, but having to show up an hour early or more for some of the events just to get in (and earlier for decent seating) kept us from spending our time more enjoyably. We did get to meet some nice people, but there was a sense of transience to those interactions since, with so many people in attendance,  it wasn’t likely you would see anyone more than once. It may also be that my own enjoyment of PAX was soured by the sadness of my husband leaving for Texas immediately afterward. One of my fonder moments, and one that still makes me tear up, was sitting on the floor of the main theater during the first night’s concerts, leaning against Aaron and crying as the Video Game Orchestra played a medley of songs from Final Fantasy. (Final Fantasy was one of the reasons we hit it off when we first met.) Highlights for me included seeing Felicia Day “in the wild” of the show floor, the Wil Wheaton panel, the concerts, the cosplay (always love!) and this:

Sorry about the blurriness! (I really need a new camera.)

On the other hand, this weekend, Geek Girl Con (henceforth to be referred to as “GGC”) proved to be everything I had hoped PAX would be, and more. As would be expected for a first year con, GGC was small. At first I was a bit leery of its smallness, as I was concerned that I would run out of things to do (HA!) but I think the smallness of it was exactly what I needed. As you would know if I was a good blogger and updated every now and then, I’ve been in a kind of personal limbo and this weekend really gave me a shove in the right direction. I feel like this weekend really was the beginning of a very personal journey that I’ve been too scared to start. But more on that later.

Right. Small con.

The first and most mundane benefit of GGC’s smallness was the shortness of the lines. As I’ve mentioned, I hate waiting. But, it seems, nerds love a good queue, so lines it is. I suppose it probably has something to do with some of us, myself included, having a penchant for being early to things or something, but I digress. To paraphrase a fellow con-goer (Hi Emily!): at GGC going to the wrong place for a panel may cost you five or six spots in line, whereas at PAX, it would be hundreds. Plus, since it was such a small con, you did get to keep seeing line buddies and it was a much better opportunity to really get to know people. AND! The small venue meant you got to see most of the cosplayers at least once.

But really, the beauty of GGC was its heart. Organizers, sponsors, volunteers, guests, vendors and attendees alike really believed in the con and it showed. To take something the lovely Bonnie Burton said and use it completely out of context, “You don’t put geek girls in a corner.” and to me, that seemed to be what this whole weekend was about. I know that like many other female geeks, I’ve personally experienced that kind of “but you’re a girl” discrimination from a very young age and GGC seemed to be thumbing its nose at that idea. Just as many of us have had to “prove” our geek cred or we’re not taken seriously, that seemed to be the spirit of the whole weekend. There was kind of a feeling of “Fine. You don’t want to include us in your oh-so-wonderful-and-exclusive [blank]? We’ll make our own and we’ll make it better.”

I missed out on a lot on the first day because I planned poorly. I hadn’t really given that much thought to the panels I wanted to go to as most of the programming I was interested was happening on Day Two. As a result, I had large gaps in my schedule that found me kind of just staying in the same room by default because the panels seemed like they might be interesting, but I think I missed out on some stuff I really would have really enjoyed if I had planned better. It also didn’t help that I had been up since 5AM to be there by 7AM (I was the first attendee at Geek Girl Con! Ever!) because they were giving away 50 tickets to the sold-out Whedonesque Burlesque and I was determined to go. Needless to say, I was a little foggy most of the day.

Boobies and Blasters: The Women of Star Wars was a lot of fun and I did get to go to the Character Studies panel with Amy Berg, Sarah Kuhn, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Jessica Mills and Stephanie Thorpe, all of whom have, in various media outlets, created and/or portrayed strong nerdy/geeky female characters. I think everyone on the panel agreed that much of what they put into these characters comes from their own experiences of being a slightly odd (or not so slightly, in some cases), misunderstood or marginalized person and building characters based on the fact that they never saw those kinds of characters portrayed in any kind of meaningful way in the media. Just like I kept hearing all weekend, everything that they discussed really focused around the idea of working to fill in those gaps in the media that bother us. Again, if you can’t find examples of what you want to see, do it yourself.

Also, something Javi said really struck home with me and kind of pushed me down a path of introspection that I’ve been avoiding for a long time. He basically said that everyone has a crappy childhood and suffers their own kinds of pain, even the people that claim theirs didn’t suck and maybe especially them. And then the panel went on to not judging people based on appearances and all that lovely stuff, but I kind of got stuck there, amidst my own musings. I’ve always felt a little guilty that I was never really bullied by my peers, which, looking back, I have absolutely no explanation for. Over and over I’ve heard stories of people being picked on, beat up and things like that, but I’ve never been able to relate to that kind of torment and, so, even among “my people”, I’ve felt a little odd. It was almost as if I felt like I had missed out on a very important initiation that left me outside of really belonging to this group that I love so much. But when Javi said what he said, I asked myself a horrible and revealing question: What were my pains? Wow. It was all I could do to not burst into tears, sitting there on the third row. So, yeah, I’ve done my time. I have suffered to say “no” to being what people want me to be and just to be who I am. I’m not going to go into details here, because this is way too public of an arena than I’m comfortable with for something that personal, so we’ll just move along.

The evening had it’s own kind of reveals, if you know what I mean. Needless to say, Wheadonesque Burlesque was really fun! It’s kind of amazing that the acts ranged from so vastly hilarious to incredibly sexy, but they pulled it off. I was also sitting on the middle aisle so I got to see Wash’s dino tail up close and personal.

I think I’ll stop there for now as I’m sure I could probably churn out another 1500 words about Sunday. I just have to say that it seems to me that the sentiment among a lot of geek women is rather similar to the “It gets better” campaign and it also seems that it is up to us to make it so.

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“So, how are the kitties adjusting?”

As you might already know, I started my new job as a kitchen prep at Chipotle. It’s going well, so far, but it is EXHAUSTING. The muscles I used to have, from my time in the Chili’s kitchen when I got out of high school, are LONG gone, so it’s probably going to be a painful transition. That is, I’m so freaking sore…

But I really don’t feel like dwelling on my little aches and pains, so we’ll move on…

TO KITTIES!!

One of our biggest concerns with the move was how the cats were going to handle the change. Silly us, apparently. They took the car ride like champs, sleeping in their kennel the whole way. The only issue was in the hotel rooms. Elliot (the orange tabby) was terribly confused as to where upstairs had gone. You see, they’ve lived a very sheltered little life, only leaving our two story apartment for quick visits to the vet. So, I’m sure they had no real comprehension of the world at large. The vet’s office was just another room, somehow connected to the apartment. They went there and then came back. On the trip, every time we stopped for the night and let them out of the kennel in the hotel room, Elliot began a fairly systematic search for “up”. She climbed on the highest furniture and stood her tallest, searching every corner for her room. (The spare room that all there stuff was in at our old apartment.) It was adorable. Molly, on the other hand:

Once all of their stuff was present, the frantic search for “up” has ceased. As soon as we let them out of the kennel after we had unloaded the uhaul, Molly set off to look for boxes to get into and Elliot started running back and forth on the couches, just as happy as she could be to have her stuff back.

Now that we’re settled, they are totally happy with the sunbeam situation. In our old apartment we only got sun inside for about an hour in the afternoon, in a very small patch. Our new place has a large patch of sunlight in the spare room for most of the morning into the early afternoon, when it moves into our bedroom until sunset. Molly and Elliot are seriously ecstatic about the arrangement. They spend the majority of the day lying in the sun, only moving to stretch.

The rest of the time, they spend sitting in the window. They LOVE the windows. Since we now live in a climate that allows/requires open windows, their little kitty world has just been vastly broadened. I can’t say how many times I’m sitting in the living room, watching Netflix or on the internet and I hear meowing from one of the rooms. Most of the time it’s just Elliot freaking out about the trash truck or something outside and then she comes running to tell me what happened. :)

Last week, though, I hear Molly’s distinct meow from the spare room. LOUD. And she didn’t stop, so I got up to investigate. There she was, on top of a stack of boxes, meowing at me. So, of course, I went over, petted her, picked her up and made a general big deal of her and she was all purrs the whole time. That same day? Three more times! The last time, I got this:

I don’t know what I would do without our girls. And we all can’t wait to have the man of the house back.

Living a virtual life

My discipline is slipping again. I’ve gone from blogging daily, to blogging a few times a week, to blogging once a week and, now, it’s even worse than that. It’s not at all that I don’t like blogging. I do. I just haven’t had anything noteworthy to write about… Which is funny, really, because if I look back on the things that I’ve blogged about in the past, that’s never stopped me before! But, I’m back. Hopefully, I can get my blogging mojo. I’ve written enough posts about being a bad blogger, blah, blah, blah… Moving on. ;)


Ever feel like your online persona is more interesting/attractive/liked? ;)

At lunch one day recently, my coworkers and I were talking about social networking. Someone (probably me, I don’t remember) mentioned Google+ and one of our science teachers was trying to understand what the purpose was. He’s not on Facebook, though his wife and children are and this is a discussion we’ve had before when Facebook or Twitter were mentioned in reference to some news item, like the Wiener’s wiener pic “scandal”. In short: What’s the point/function of social media?

From an outsider, like our science teacher friend, social media can be kind of confounding. He wasn’t the only one that was inactive, but he had lots of questions. What do people post? Why would you want to post personal information in the internet? Why would anyone care? Who can see your information? And so on. Our youngest faculty member was no help, due to her cynical attitude about everything. (Darn kids!) She took more of a mocking tone that seemed to confuse the unbelievers. (SHUUUUNNNNNNN!) Her stance was kind of a “I never update my Facebook, so people that do are lame!” There was a bit of mocking of someone she knew that “had a whole other life online” and I have to admit to getting a bit annoyed.

Afterall, I am highly active on Twitter and most of my interactions are with people from all over that I have never, and probably won’t ever, meet. And, frankly, for someone who has mild/moderate social anxiety, Twitter is a godsend! I like my imaginary Twitter friends. They are awesome and (most are) nerdy and computer savvy and I never have to talk to them on the dread phone! (Seriously! While I don’t mind talking on the phone too much when people call me, just thinking about making a phone call causes severe anxiety! Stomach in knots, shaking, the whole bit. The telephone function of my smartphone is not my friend!)

So, I spoke up in defense of active social media users. I mentioned the necessity of Facebook for me to communicate with my family, though I’m not a fan. (Why won’t you people use email? I shouldn’t find out about my cousin’s wedding the day of and on Facebook! I know I wouldn’t have been able to go as you’re half a country away, but still! Come on, people!!) Plus, it’s great to see pictures of my distant family and their families grow up and change. It’s neat. I also brought up the Geek Girl Book Club and talked about all the awesome people I’ve met from around the world. I must say, the naysayers seemed quite impressed by the idea of a social media book club and I think the nonusers began to see the more practical use of “living” online. Score one for us!

Of course, not to be outdone, someone from the “social media is stupid” camp replied with “I just don’t want to hear about what people had for breakfast! What should I care?” An easy “Then don’t follow that person.” retort took care of that but then, The Youngster scoffed about some girl that she knows that has a whole online support system. I have a hard time understanding how you could ever see that as a bad thing. Just because you aren’t physically surrounded by your supporters doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable, right? O_o

It’s funny, though, that even though I am a staunch supporter/user of social media, I find myself caving to the embarrassment of having imaginary friends. In fact, that’s part of the reason that I call you people my imaginary friends, though not the primary. (My primary reason is that from the small snippet of information you can glean from knowing someone only online, you get an imaginary image of what you think they are like. Also, it amuses me and that’s what really matters!) Meaning that if you reference something an “online friend” said, people look at you as if you’ve just reserved a seat for Harvey. “Can you get a drink for me and my pooka friend here?” But, be they pooka or not, I love my online friends!

 Actually, it’s funny how the camaraderie and acceptance of my “geeky tweeps” have made me even bolder in my nerdiness (as if I needed more of that). I’ve never been ashamed of being a nerd/geek, but I find that it comes out in casual conversation with “normals” now. I find myself talking about my overly well-thought-out arguments about why the Transformers movies are a travesty, complaints about the inaccuracies of the LotR movies vs the books, the sad state of current-gen gaming and the disappointments of a lackluster showing at E3 this year and the list goes on.

One could argue that this isn’t necessarily a good thing, since I tend to run at the mouth anyway and have seen that “WHY are you still talking?” look glaze over my share of eyes. But, that’s been an always thing. I have a tendency to forget that not everyone thinks the things I love are as amazingly interesting as I do… And the older I get, the less I seem to care. My tendency to lose myself in the wonderousness that is fangirlism is just a part of who I am. So, I’m a teensy bit entirely too passionate about odd things like the brewing of perfect espresso or linguistics… If you don’t like it, you can grin and bear it or avoid me. It’s no skin off my nose! (But seriously, I really want to go study espresso in Italy… It’s that bad.)

I’m vocal about the things I love. I care deeply and I care often. Things that move me, move me beyond words. I can be eloquent, but more often I find myself stuttery and twitchy (to my eyes), much like Wat’s ravings in A Knight’s Tale. (Which is why I avoid politics. The idiocy and futility of American bipartisan politics stirs up the blood too much.) “Pain! Lots of Pain!”

And look at me, getting off topic! That never happens! (-_^)

As I was saying before I went on a huge tangent… I find myself referencing the brilliant things that people on twitter say as “My friend on Facebook…” or things like that instead of “my online friend” or “my twitter friend” since most everyone has a Facebook and they then assume that this is a person that you know in “real life” that just happens to be on Facebook. Which, of course, is more acceptable to more people than scary “strangers” that lurk online, whom you’ve never met and COULD BE LYING TO YOU!@!!@@#!!!!Q!! But, really? Who the frak cares?! My imaginary friends often have way more in common with me than the people I associate with daily. That’s why they’re my friends! They “get” me, damn it!

So what if it turns out that my allegedly male twitter friend, @jonathanhilluk, is actually the Duchess of Cambridge in disguise? We enjoy arguements great discussions about the virtues of various types of coffee drinks and if Disney movies have taught us anything, other than the benefits of the suppression of women, royalty pretending to be commoners is perfectly natural! Or who cares if “female” twitter friend/blogger @and_we_drown is actually a bro dude trying to turn over a new leaf? “Her” blog is both insightful and entertaining. We should applaud “her” for trying to improve “herself”!

Do I have any reason to believe that either of them are “lying” about who they are? Of course not! Through, Jonathan’s lack of a true profile picture makes one wonder… (-_^) If they were, though, it wouldn’t change the fact that the persona that they’ve created is awesome and, other than opening a discussion of gender and identity, I don’t think it would change the fact that I think they’re both awesome.

Phew! Can you tell I had coffee this morning? (Yay! French press!)

TL;DR: Online relationships/communities can be just as valid and fulfilling as “real” ones, so, don’t be a dick! (But then, when doesn’t Wheaton’s Law apply?)

Unrepentant User of Incorrect Grammar Am I!

Da Jesus Book: Hawaii Pidgin New Testament

Image via Wikipedia

As a little reminder, I am currently an English teacher. I have a bachelor’s in English and I write a mean literary paper. My grammar (when I’m paying attention) is usually pretty spot on. Also, linguistics was one of my favorite things to study in college. Proceed if you dare.

I love the English language.  It’s fascinating to me. It’s complicated and ridiculous at times, but that just adds to its charm. (I have a love for languages in general. They all rock pretty hard and I wish that I knew more of them.) That being said, one of my favorite things about English is its propensity for being butchered. I say this in all love and good will. Some of the grammar rules are downright silly and when you try to justify them to an English language learner, you’re left shrugging and replying with the dumbfounded teacher’s standard retort: “Because that’s the rule.” I hate when that’s the only answer I have to give, but it happens sometimes. I do the best I can to offer clear and reasonable explanations for grammar rules but some are just odd and incomprehensible. (Don’t ask me for examples, jerk! I can’t think of any right now! It’s been a long week!!)

And getting back on topic: I love broken English! It makes me happy in ways that I can’t explain. One of the happiest moments of my life was poring over a version of the New Testament of the Bible that had been translated into Hawaiian pidgin called Da Jesus Book. I could have just died from sheer wonder at how the way the words fit together and the beauty of them when you read them aloud. For example, instead of:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16
King James Version (KJV)

You get:

Jesus say, “God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da kine life dat stay to da max foeva.”

(John Tell Bout Jesus 3:16)

Is that not wonderful?! I’m dying! I love it!! And it’s a love born out of appreciation for the spoken word and the differences between languages. Linguistics is incredibly fascinating and I would throw out some examples but I have a tendency to gush and I’m sure not everyone finds these things as interesting as I do, so we’ll move on.

(But just a quick little example anyway for anyone that cares: Native Spanish speakers have a hard time differentiating between the /s/ phoneme “SSSSS” and the /z/ phoneme “ZZZZZ”. When quizzed, they will usually identify both of them as /s/ because there is no /z/ sound in Spanish. For some, (usually bilingual from a young age) they can’t recognize the difference when it’s subtle but for others it is impossible for their ear to pick up on /z/ at all because their ear was never trained to decipher it as a child. Craziness!! So cool!! I could gush for a few more paragraphs, but I won’t. You’re welcome!)

All that being said, with native English speakers and educated people, I can be a bit less forgiving… Fine. I can be downright judgmental, depending on the situation. But I am aware of it and I try to curb my tendency to bash people over the head with their keyboards correct people. I’m mostly successful, because I know that no one likes the grammar police and no one likes to feel stupid or to think that someone else thinks that they are stupid. I do find myself, however, getting a little judgy when people who should know better, repeatedly use the same incorrect grammar. It irks me. I understand lazy writing and lax proofreading –I’m guilty of it more often than not– but some things REALLY get to me. But again, we won’t go into that.

In spite of being a stickler for good grammar in some situations, I often find myself being “creative” when it comes to my own writing. I get no end of eye-rolls from my husband when I make up non-existent words that fit grammatical rules of prefix/root/suffix and that can actually be deciphered using the same rules. It amuses me. And, hey, if Shakespeare can do it, why can’t I? The problem is that I sometimes find myself forgetting if words are “real” or not. But, again, I don’t really mind. People can roll their eyes at me and get judgy, but I’m having a grand old time over here in my little corner of the internet.

Getting to the meat of the issue, I did a little poll on Twitter and Facebook yesterday about a word that has been part of my vocabulary since I was very young. This is the question I posed: “ya’ll or y’all”. The results surprised me. As I was expecting, people from northern states or from other countries chose “y’all” because of the grammatical “correctness” of it. (And let’s just ignore the fact that contracting “you all” at all is grammatically incorrect.) It was people from southern states that surprised me. I was expecting more to say “ya’ll”, but quite a few did not. (I love that my former roommate threw me a curve ball with her “Not a contraction.” theory and “yall” entered the running. Fantastic! Isn’t language great?) What I found interesting is that almost all of the southern people that chose “y’all” told me WHY. (Contraction. “You all” minus “ou”, apostrophe goes here, etc.) I’m thinking that, perhaps, many of them grew up with “ya’ll” like I did and after learning grammar rules applied them to the apparently much contested word. I can’t be sure, but that’s my theory.

Anywho, the reason the question occurred to me at all was that I was reading a snarky website that was making fun of people with horrible grammar. For anyone without the desire to click on said link, some examples include things like a little knick-knack for teachers that says: “YOUR THE BEST!” ::shudder:: The thing that got me thinking was a greeting card that said: “HEY YA’LL!” In the comments, someone brought up the point that, as someone from the South, they had always seen it written that way (ya’ll). Of course, there was a snide “In case your not joking…” kind of reply to the comment that explained contractions in a condescending way. I get it. Contractions, “you all” should be “y’all”, blah, blah, blah. But when it came right down to it, I actually prefer “ya’ll”.

That’s right. I prefer the “wrong” version.

But I’ll tell you why. Firstly, since I grew up seeing it written as ya’ll, to me, it looks “right”. But my second reason is (slightly) less visceral than that. Pronunciation. When I look at “y’all”, in my mind, it would be pronounced with a slight yuh (i.e. yuh-all) and that’s not correct at all. I can’t help it. “Y’all” reads yuh-all to me. It could be that my mind is just trying to justify my preconceptions and I’m okay with that. But don’t think I’ll ever be able to get behind “y’all”. Yuh-all. Give me a break! ;)

 So, in short, if you see me writing “ya’ll”, it is not out of ignorance. It is a deliberate action of defiance against grammar rules. Or not. But I do so knowingly. And I will continue to do so, in spite of what anyone has to say!

Ya’ll come back now, y’hear?

Fitness Frustrations

This post came out sounding a lot more disgruntled than I intended it to. I guess it’s a combination of tiredness and… Well, no, mostly just the fact that I’m sleepy! (-_^)

This whole fitness thing is so strange. I’m just starting to feel like my old self again, that old strength returning to these tired (recovering) bones. I’m starting to feel strong again, which is a huge relief, and on top of that, I’ve been losing weight. And that’s the weird part. I mean, yes, weight-loss was part of The Plan, but it wasn’t the main goal. I do need to lose weight if I want to run and not wreck my poor knees, so bit by little bit, it’s coming off. The thing is, I’m not losing it uniformly. I’ve noticed a lot of change around my face, and my legs are starting to tone up nicely (I’m getting that nice “line” of muscle back on my calves! Woo!) and my hands and wrists are looking less sausage-y.

But.

It’s all disproportionate! My waist has decreased, but not nearly as much as my legs, so my new pants that were fitting so nicely all over are now pretty much the same in the waist, but starting to get baggy on my legs. It’s so irritating!

AND!

I keep hitting weird plateaus where for a week or two my weight stays EXACTLY the same. Every weight in. EXACTLY THE SAME. And my scale goes to the first decimal. This past week and a half was like that. Every couple of days or so. Same time. Same conditions. SAME EXACT WEIGHT TO THE FIRST DECIMAL! I started to think my scale was broken. Finally, though, this morning when I weighed myself I’d magically dropped over a pound since Tuesday. Odd. (And yes, I know this sounds contradictory to the “weight doesn’t matter” thing, but after progressing pretty steadily, these little speed bumps are irksome.)

And on top of weird weight-loss woes, the lovely wardrobe I’ve spent the last three years accruing with my grown-up teacher salary, mostly doesn’t fit me anymore. I still have some clothes from ages ago that kind of fit, but it’s that back of the closet stuff you always mean to get rid of, but never get around to tossing. And it’s from the broke, bygone era of mostly t-shirts and jeans. Except the jeans are long gone from over-use. So, yeah, I have no jeans. Partially because I REFUSE to wear stretch denim because it feels gross and partially because the only place I’ve ever found regular denim jeans no longer sells them.

So, yeah, if you see me wearing slacks and t-shirts on the weekends (a lot), that’s why. I have no coordinating clothing anymore. I have slacks that fit, but few nice shirts that do. And I have tees that fit, but no jeans that do.

Huzzah.

The Trouble with Tribbles…

…And inconsistent workout facilities.

Just in case you missed it, here’s a recap of what’s going on with me: Working on getting into running shape, quitting teaching and moving to Seattle in August. (Did I cover those last two on the blog, or just on twitter? I don’t recall…) There. You’re all caught up. ;)

Disclaimer: I know I’m talking about health and fitness a lot lately, or maybe it only seems that way to me, but, as I’m sure you can imagine, it’s at the forefront of my mind. If you find this sort of thing boring, I apologize, but to me it’s vastly more interesting than my oh so common complainy pants posts, so you’ll just have to deal with it until something more interesting comes along. Here’s a picture of some otters I took at an aquarium to assuage any potential wrath:

See? he's yawning!! How could you be mad at that cute little face?!

So, yeah, turns out this post will be not only fitness related, but of the whiny variety as well. I’m having a bit of trouble this week. Pretty regularly now, a coworker and I had been taking advantage of the small exercise room provided by our district for after-work workouts. And on the days that she was busy with kid-related stuff, I would go home and either go walking with my husband or do some laps in the apartment pool. Since the beginning of the hot season here in south Texas, which started in February or March this year, walking in the afternoon was taken off the docket due to my propensity to overheat. We would still go in the morning on the weekends, but then even that got too hot, but we always had the pool.

Fate, it seems, has decided to make my life miserable. This weekend we went swimming on Saturday, noting that the pool was kind of green. Then, with much hesitation, we sucked it up and went swimming again, on Sunday, in an even greener pool. (Icky!) We decided not to use the pool again until the situation was remedied. (I think the filter isn’t working. There wasn’t any suction.) And upon further inspection yesterday, it is, in fact, closed with no sign or anything to let us know what’s going on.

Then, yesterday, after work, I changed into my workout clothes and headed over to the workout room… It had a sign on the door:

I was not only irritated that it was closed, (and I changed in the bathroom for nothing!) , but yesterday was May 31, not June 1, so the sign was a big fat liar! Way to lie, liar sign! I was pissed to say the least.

THEN! To top it all off, got into the car, pulled out my ancient muddy pond brown Zune and found this:

Note the cracks and large black spot on the upper left side. I love you, Zune! Please, don’t die!! (Although, upon further inspection, I kind of love it that Elphaba is staring fixedly at the black spot! Maybe she can fix it with her magics! Though that didn’t work out too well for her, so maybe not…) (Also, that’s Donna Vivino as Elphaba. She is amazing! I just needed to let you know.) Upon discovering the injured Zune, I called Aaron for the fiftieth huffy time of the day just to share my dismay with someone.

And this was all on top of the previous huffy calls that were due to missing texts that threw off my crock pot plans! CROCK POT PLANS THAT I WOKE UP AT 5:00AM TO BRING TO FRUITION!!!

Ahem. Sorry. It was all very upsetting.

Anyway, in typical “me” style, I’ve said all that just to get to my point: My avenues for exercise have been decreased dramatically! Too hot/humid to walk (I mean, it’s almost 100F out there, people! Heat Index! UV rays! Solar… Flares…?). Exercise room at work, closed. Pool, closed. I’m at a loss. What’s a girl to do? (ToT)

Thoughts on self-image and other such nonsense.

Sigh. Why do I need so much time to get this stuff out? This is a bit of the post that I should have written a month ago. It’s about me even though it starts out in that strange, round-about way that I seem to need to use to talk about myself. Oh well. (Also, it’s very long, clocking in over 2000 words… Oops!)

I had a lot of time on my hands yesterday as students worked independently to complete their final project. This meant that I spent a lot of time on the computer just dinking around. I caught up on blogs I had been neglecting, (even if I didn’t take the time to comment) and all the stupid little time-sink stuff that I keep in my RSS reader for just such occasions and I still had time left over. This is always a problem because it takes me to parts of the internet that make me sad or frustrated or just plain old angry. So, surf, surf, surf and end up on cnn.com… Not good. First read an article about the amount of vacation Americans receive vs their European counterparts and apparently (according to the article) Americans perceive working harder than they have to as a sign of success. Yikes!! What’s wrong with us? No THANK you! It makes me sad.

Then, also on cnn, I watched a video about growing trends in Asia (Korea and China) of having plastic surgery to look more “Western”. The story follows a 12-year-old girl who was about to have eye surgery to look “pretty”. At one point they ask the girl to pick which woman in a fashion magazine is beautiful. Both women were gorgeous, of course, but she said that the Asian woman was ugly because of her eyes. It saddens me that the standard of beauty that is making girls in our country feel inferior is affecting people in other countries as well. It’s infuriating that parents would not just allow, but pressure their children to get ridiculous surgeries to make them “attractive”. It’s sick and I’m moving on before I get all angry again.

So, saying all that to get to my point. (Of course.) What do these two articles have in common? Self-image. Who hasn’t know some person at some point in their lives that was completely convinced of some falsehood about themself? Be it “I’m not pretty.” or “I’m not talented.” or any other negative thing that you can think of. And of course, you have the opposite as well: The odious guy/gal who’s convinced they are God’s gift to whichever sex is the object of their affection. The poor soul that couldn’t carry a tune to save their soul but still tries their luck in the local talent show (or on American Idol, ouch).

Well, look at that, I still haven’t gotten to the point… It’s really quite crazy how much of our self-worth is derived from outside sources. From an early age, we start examining the world around us and our perceptions of the world are formed. And, of course, when the topic of self-image is discussed, for me, it’s all about weight. When I was little, I was pretty thin. My brother and I were homeschooled and our day went kind of like this: wake up (at some reasonable hour after dawn), breakfast, assignments for the day, PLAY!!! We didn’t spend more than a few hours on school work and then we had fun. We ran everywhere we went and we lived outside. Needless to say, with that kind of activity level we needed plenty of calories to keep us going.

Then, we moved across the country to Washington state. The people we stayed with when we first moved there (one of my dad’s old army buddies) had four girls ranging from teens to my age (I turned eight shortly after we moved there). I am convinced that this had something to do with my weight gain. After all, their youngest “sparked” early, so to speak, and I’m pretty sure the estrogen laced environment jump started my own puberty, though I didn’t have a period until I was 13 and again surrounded by pubescent females. (One of the symptoms of PCOS is irregular periods and weight gain. I rest my case.) On top of this, their mom convinced my mom that home schooling wasn’t good enough and we were enrolled in public school. So, yeah, take two high energy kids, make them get up predawn to ride the bus, put them in a classroom all day and top all that with homework and what do you get? Chubby McChubbchubbs! Phew! We plumped like well-cooked sausages!

Now, as I was a kid and totally unaware that I had been signed up for all the crap that comes with being overweight, I totally didn’t even notice that I was chubby! I could have cared less! Afterall, what was better for swimming in glacier-fed rivers than an extra layer of fat to keep the cold out? (And we were out in that river as often as we could be! Pools are for chumps!) But as childhood melted into adolescence, and we were again enrolled in public school for our high school years, it began to become an Issue. My dear, misguided but well-intentioned mother started suggesting that maybe “we” should try to lose some weight. (Seriously! I look at pictures of myself back then and I was NOT fat. Thick, sure, I do have a rather broad frame, and yes I might have been a little chubby, but not anything that really needed Addressing.) Suddenly, with my mother’s concerns and finally being exposed to the insecurities of other girls my age, I became very aware of my weight.

Now, let me just pause here to say that growing up, chubbs and all, I’ve never had any health problems. Even well into adulthood, no problems. I’ve always been fairly active (because I enjoy it) and most of my fresh out of highschool jobs were pretty physically taxing. I’ve always been large, but I’ve also always been STRONG. Think fat layered over muscle. I could have snapped most of my male friends in half if I had ever had call to. ‘Nough said.

So, tender, naive me suddenly had inferiority thrust upon me. I had never been self-conscious in my LIFE! I mean, my entire freshman year I wore horrible (brightly colored) knit fabric shorts and character tees! I couldn’t care less what people thought of me! Because of this absolute lack of guile, no one bullied me for being weird. I was completely content in my own odd little world. (I only ever had one person pick on me and it was my best friend’s asshat boyfriend and I pretty much just blew him off.) I befriended everyone (because I’d never been hurt) and it was great. But then the wrecking ball of “You need to lose weight.” came crashing down on my happy little world. Suddenly, there was something wrong with me. My mommy told me so. My friends, who were much thinner than I, told me so through their own self-deprecation. The evidence of high school life told me so.

Looking back now, toward the end of my slightly chubby freshman year, I sprouted and by the end of highschool I was 5’10” and a muscular 200ish. Right about now, I wish I could go back and tell that tall, awkward girl not to worry about her weight! I am convinced that if I hadn’t been so conscious of “being fat”, my weight wouldn’t have progressed to the point that it reached when I hit rock bottom. Because there was such a focus on weight and not health, I felt horrible about myself and would binge on junk (because I was fat anyway, right?) as an emotional escape. My down points are littered with tears and empty cookie trays. All because someone convinced me that there was something wrong with me.

The funny thing is that through all of my “fat” youth, I never felt fat. I was healthy. I was strong. And I never struggled with any of the problems that you hear so much about. Walking, going up stairs and all that jazz, were no issue for me. I was just carrying that same padding over swathes of muscle. (Seriously, 18 year old me could kick your ass!) I biked. I walked. I swam. All for the joy of those things for themselves. UNTIL someone told me I NEEDED to do them. Someone stole the intrinsic joy of feeling my muscles flex beneath skin (and yes, fat as well). Now, as I’m taking back my body from the vacuum of self-loathing, I’m starting to feel that joy again. I love the rush of power I feel as I cut through the water effortlessly or kick it into high gear on the elliptical and I can’t wait until my doctor clears me to run, because that will be mine!

It’s strange, but I feel oddly self-conscious about my decision to lose weight. I think it’s that same low self-worth rearing its ugly head, but I think it’s also because I don’t want people to take it the wrong way. I’m not losing weight because there was anything wrong with being heavy. (And if you view it that way, I’m very sorry, but I’m going to have to punch you in the face.) The truth of it is that I was no longer a tiger in a fat suit. Actually, a hippo is a really awesome analogy. They look like big cows that you could push over in a drunken, hickish haze, when, in fact, they’re a mound of rippling muscle that are the most dangerous thing in water. I was perfectly fine with myself that way. I was healthy. I felt good. But after my recent struggle with depression and the resulting weight gain, (on top of a mostly sedentary teaching job) for the first time in my life, I felt fat. Instead of that kick-ass hippopotamus (I WILL BREAK YOUR BOAT IN HALF!), I felt like one of those sad declawed, enormous house cats that can’t even lick themselves properly (“I wash mahself with a rag on a stick.”).

This heavy feeling, in conjunction with knowledge of the health problems that led to my grandfather’s death and unhappiness with my life at the moment, in general and with some very specific things, eventually led to a kind of breaking-point moment when I said enough was enough. I decided to take a lesson from some of the wonderful, free-spirited people I stalk follow on Twitter and do something about it. (Which in turn has made me slightly less sympathetic to people griping about their crappy lives. Sorry! Something in your life you don’t like? Do something about it!!) I decided I was done letting my life happen to me. My life was going to have purpose, damn it, and I was going to be the one making the decisions! I decided I wanted to leave the area. Making that happen. I decided I wanted to get healthy and stop feeling like an over-sized loaf of a cat. Making that happen. I decided what I want to do with my life. Soooo gonna make that happen!

Holy crap! I need to wind this up now, don’t I. So… the TL:DR version: If you’re not happy with something in your life, do something about it! Especially those of you that don’t have kids that you need to provide for. (You know who you are!) I’m done working just to pay for the things that distract me from work. I’m done making excuses. I’m just plain done!

So, yeah. I’m not the person to come to if you want a sympathetic ear right now, but if you need someone to tell you to get off your ass and chase those dreams or someone to cheer you on along the way, I’m your gal!

Now, go out and do something you WANT to do for no other reason than the fact that you can!!

“Oh! what a tangled web we weave…”

“When first we practice to deceive!” But how much worse then can it be, than when the one deceived is me?

An interesting thing happens every time we go on a field trip to visit a college campus… The teachers are way more interested in the programs than the students are ! It amazes me how many affordable opportunities are available now that weren’t even around 10 years ago when I started college. We mostly visit low-cost schools, like the local technical and community colleges and some of the two year programs that they offer are phenomenal! Every trip, I shake my head in regret that either they weren’t around or I didn’t know when I was making BIG choices about my future.

And, yes, some of the yearning to go back to school is just a “Grass is greener” situation, but the one thing that causes a real reaction every single time are the culinary arts programs. UGH!! I die a little on the inside as we tour the kitchens and listen to the instructor talk about what they teach and all that. Every. Single. Time. You see, when I was a sophomore or junior in high school, I decided that I was going to take my love for baking (and cooking, to a lesser degree) and turn it into a career. Hooray! Bright-eyed and full of hope, I shared my dreams with everyone! I was going to be a chef (or pastry chef, I hadn’t decided)! Hooray!! Little did I know that culinary arts programs (at the time) were incredibly expensive and didn’t include housing! Hooray…?

My hopes soundly dashed (we was po), I went to work as a kitchen prep at a newly opened local Chili’s and let my dream die. When I hated being a prep (who wouldn’t), I told myself that it was proof that I wasn’t cut out for working with food and sank further into complacency. I eventually started college at the local university, once my dad got laid off and I qualified for financial aid. I petered around, majoring in Psychology at first, considering Art and settling on English (cause it was easy for me). Got my degree. Got my teacher certification. Started teaching…

It wasn’t long before I started feeling dissatisfied with my job and I started regretting my decision to get a degree in English. More and more, as time has gone on, I’ve longed for the days of working at the coffee shop where I worked in the middle of my college career. And as I’ve been examining the infinitely opportune future, I’ve been feeling the pull to go back to school and get that culinary training that I’ve always wanted.

Today, though, was just the straw that broke the camel’s back… The culinary arts professor at the technical school we visited was talking about the food industry and how different it was from other careers. And then, he described, with perfect clarity, the feeling of joy and gratification that I’ve always felt when serving good food to people and my heart surged with longing. That! Just exactly that! That is what I’m missing! That passion that I’ve only ever felt when working with food! He talked about taking a bunch of raw ingredients that weren’t much on their own and creating something wonderful with them. AND THEN! While it’s still fresh and new, you place it into the hands of someone that can immediately enjoy it. I’ve felt that again and again. At the coffee shop, when I got the order just right. At home, when I cook something that makes the dining room go quiet. A feeling of peace and joy that I’ve never felt as a teacher.

And I want it back.

I am really at a loss for words…

Note to self: Next time you have an awesome idea for a post, don’t wait to write it. You’ll regret it.

So, yes, the post I was planning to write that was full of inspiration and whatnot is gone. At least four times I’ve sat down to write it and the words elude me. And not only the words, but the spirit behind the post seems to have left me as well. Not cool, Dobby, not cool.

It seems that it’s not just my writing that’s being effected, either. Along with my writing inspiration, all other forms of inspiration appear to have left me as well. I feel like doing NOTHING, all the time. I don’t want to read, write, surf the wed, watch TV, play video games and housework, HA! I have no motivation. I still do these things because I know that I should enjoy them or they need to be done, but it’s only with extreme effort. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Is there a flu or something that only makes you feel tired and unmotivated?

And Now for Something Completely Different…

I had two ideas for two completely different types of posts on Thursday. One was thoughtful and personal, kind of like a lot of what I’ve been writing here lately. The other, nerdy and silly. So, since I’ve been really, really introspective lately, I thought I’d give you a dose of nerdtasticness. It didn’t quite turn out that way, though. I inadvertently turned my nerdy post into something introspective… But it’s all good in the end, right?

WARNING: This is a really long and opinionated post that was written over several days, so continue at your own peril! Here’s a kitty:


If you don’t know by now that I am a nerd, or geek, if you prefer, then either you haven’t been here long or you just haven’t been paying attention. I am proud of being one of the “tip-tops of think-thunk” to quote MC Frontalot. It may make me a bit of a hipster, but it’s kind of cool to belong to a group that not that many people would willingly be a part of. (Don’t get me wrong! There’s plenty of “out” nerds, and we’re growing constantly, but I think we’ve all been in a situation that made us a little hesitant to speak up.) I’ve had very well-meaning people declare “You’re not a nerd!” when I refer to myself as such, but what they miss is the fact that I’m damn proud to be a nerd. We are the internet. We are teh hotness. We are amazing and we’re stepping out!

Aherm… Stepping off soapbox… ::Straightens shirt and pushes up glasses:: Sorry about that. I can be a tad bit overzealous if I’m not careful… (Remind me to avoid cults.)

Back to the original reason for this post: Lots of nerdy things happening!

Firstly, I must trumpet from the rooftops that we bought tickets for PAX Prime!!! What is PAX, you ask? PAX is (in a nutshell) a gaming convention, run by the guys over at Penny Arcade that is unlike anything that has ever been before. PAX is place where nerds from around the states congregate for three glorious days of gaming, music and other random nerdiness. For mor information (also, in a nutshell) click here. We have been wanting to go since the beginning, but we finally took the plunge and bought tickets! I’m so excited!! From what previous attendees have gushed, it’s kind of like coming home to a place where everyone “gets” you and it sounds FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!

In other nerdy news, last weekend saw the beginning of the HBO interpretation of George R. R. Martin’s (unfinished) series A Song of Ice and Fire. The new show, Game of Thrones, named after the first book in the series A Game of Thrones, premiered on Sunday, but the real drama (I’m a sucker for web intrigue, so sue me.) occurred when a New York Times reviewer, Ginia Bellafante, published her “review“. In my opinion, she fairly dismissive of the whole thing (obviously not her cup of tea) and doesn’t do much reviewing of the show. Instead, she makes a bunch of tongue-in-cheek comparisons to other shows before sticking her foot straight into her mouth with the following:

The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

From The New York Times, April 15, 2011. (Emphasis mine.)

 The internet EXPLODED in outrage with self-proclaimed “Geek Girls” rushing to defend their love for Martin, and I’ll admit that I was one of the offended.

Now, let me just say that, yes, I have read all of the A Song of Ice and Fire books to date. But when I first picked up A Game of Thrones, I was appalled at all of the sex. It was not what kept me reading. I did not feel that it added to my enjoyment of the book and was often gratuitous, though, in the context of the story, fitting. I finished it, because that’s what I do, and I threw it away. Which is something I never do. I felt that the story and characters were very well written, but I didn’t care for all the sex.

And then, of course, since I had unprecedentedly thrown away a book, my future husband just had to read it! He devoured the first one and went on the read the next two. This, of course, made me curious as to what was so intriguing that he, a reluctant reader, would plow through it so heartily. I reevaluated my snobbery and finished them.

SO! Getting back to the topic at hand, I was furious for several reasons:

  • First, I resent the fact that she makes the assumption that all women lurve smut to such a degree that they would sit through something so horribly intolerable (in the mind of said stereotypical woman) just to get some. I may be the exception to the rule, I don’t claim that I know the mind of all women, but I can’t be the only one that’s not a fan.
  • Secondly, while she doesn’t come out and say it, she implies that all the women she knows would prefer regular fiction over fantasy. However, I doubt that she knows the reading habits of every single woman she’s ever met. It’s more than likely that somewhere hidden amongst all of the women she’s met, there are a few that read fantasy.
  • Thirdly, BOY FICTION?! The very connotation of such a term is… GAH!! I have no words! There’s just a throbbing, red blotch in the center of my vision at the thought! I would expect someone who writes for The New York Times to have a bit more professionalism. Hooray for sexism from within my own sex…

She did, of course, publish a response piece to all the criticism that was blasted her way, but she doesn’t do anything more than make excuses for herself. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with the extremities that people go to when they disagree with someone. Threatening someone or their family/friends/pets/etc, name-calling and personal attacks are all out-of-bounds when discussing opinion people. I mean, come on! Don’t give the woman more ammunition against nerd-kind. You’re not doing anyone any favors by acting that way.

And this is where I was planning to go on to talk about Portal 2 and the new season of Doctor Who, but I think I’ve gone on enough. Thanks for reading! :)