Category Archives: Musings

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?)

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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.

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.

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

I’ve had this post percolating in my mind for about a week now and I just haven’t had the time or, when I had the time, I had other things going on. And so, I decided yesterday that today would be the day that The Post was going to happen. I won’t go into the details right now, as I do still intend to write said post, but my mind is elsewhere today.

I’m sure I don’t have to let you know that Osama bin Laden was killed and the announcement that launched a thousand impromptu parties went out last night. And while I completely understand the jubilation that seems to be rather wide-spread across the internet last night and still today, I feel sad. Do I think it’s awesome that he’s finally been found/taken care of? Of course. But, thinking about him just reminds me of the things he’s done and the things that he set into motion. It reminds me of the pain. The fear. The terror. He, and his comrades did far more than kill thousands of people.

They changed the face of our nation.

Every story that I hear of freedoms infringed upon in airports pains me. They caused this. Every hateful statement from self-proclaimed “patriots” toward other, completely innocent, human beings breaks my heart a little more. They did this to us. For a brief moment, we stood united against them. Standing together in mourning and in defiance. And then, as time passed, the real damage began to unfold.

Fear.

Intolerance.

Hatred.

Apathy.

Little by little, America has let little bits of freedom slip away in the name of “security”. Little by little, we have stopped caring. And that is why the news of his death makes me sad. To see what we have done in the wake of the actions of a single day, breaks my heart more that words can say.

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Better Late Than Never, eh?

I started this post on Monday, but I got busy and never finished it. So, it’s rambling and has lots of parentheticals and I don’t know if the two halves really go together, as they were written several days apart, but here it is!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Aaron has been busy most evenings and weekends working on projects for classes so I’ve had a lot of time to myself. And while having too much time to one’s self can be dangerous (I’m an overthinker. Too much time thinking can cause various kinds of spirals.), I’m finding ways to keep myself occupied and I’m getting better at avoiding the blues. This is kind of a breakthrough to me.

As I have mentioned, we are looking at  some big changes in our lives in the next year or so and while that is daunting, it’s exhilarating as well. One of the things that will be happening, if all goes as is planned, is that I will be moving off on my own for 5-6 months while Aaron finishes school. I’ll be taking the cats and I’ve got some childhood friends in the area that we’re looking at (the Seattle area of Washington). But if I’m not capable of making use of those lonely hours and not getting bummed, like I had been, then being on my own for months was looking like a bad idea.

But, thanks to the magic of college, I’m getting to “practice” having massive amounts of time alone. (Yay…) To be honest, I was getting a little worried. Ever since the health problems and resulting diagnosis of the summer and my grandfather’s death in the fall, I haven’t really been feeling like my old, (mostly) positive self. But here lately, I’ve been trying (and mostly succeeding) to focus on positive, constructive things instead of being passive. And let me tell you, the changes so far, though small, have been profound.

All the health nonsense, stress from work and losing my grandfather, on top of my already fragile self-esteem, left me feeling pretty bitter and powerless. Plus there’s the stress of having to make BIG, GROWNUP DECISIONS that will alter the course of our lives. All of that had been weighing on my mind in every moment of alone time and I responded in one of two ways. I would either worry myself into a state of despair (despair spiral) or do something mindless to help me ignore said soul-crushing despair (sloth spiral). Then, in either case, I would feel bad about either the sloth or not being able to handle the stress (shame spiral). (I have a thing for ______ spirals.

So, now instead of indulging in self-loathing or laziness, I’m learning to find something else to do–something that doesn’t come with the previous feelings of guilt and worthlessness. I bought a ukulele and I spend a lot of alone time playing and learning new things. (I love my ukulele! But I forgot her name…) I’m also spending a lot of time getting educated about health and fitness and that makes me feel better as well. As Witless Exposition alluded to in a comment on my last post, there’s a lot of unfounded (i.e. not research based) blame and assumed causality involved with PCOS that if I hadn’t taken the time to do my own digging, could have lead to a very dark, guilt-filled place.

So, in short, I’m learning how to use my time alone in a constructive way and improving myself at the same time.

The future looks awfully bright when you don’t focus on the shadowy bits!

ALONS-Y!!

“Look, kid. Bad things happen…”

“…and you can’t do anything about it. Right?”

Note: Some of today’s post deals with ::cough:: feminine health issues. I’m not going to be graphic or anything, but I just thought you should be forewarned, just in case.

I know that I’ve mentioned the health problems that I was having last year, but I don’t think I’ve really gone into too much detail because of the, hrmm, sensitive nature of what I’ve got. I think that up until now, I’ve been mostly ignoring it and haven’t really sat down and thought about it. Today, though, I was trolling about a weight loss website that I’ve been looking into and on a lark, I looked up the condition to see what kind of information they have. I was, am, floored.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Last year I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which has a whole slew of side effects which including abnormal hormone levels (which leads to “lady problems”) , difficulty having children (which isn’t an issue since we aren’t planning on having kids) and weight problems. (You can clicky the link if you want to know more.) The “lady doctor” that I went to gave me birth control pills to regulate my hormones and straighten out my horribly confused system and pretty much just sent me on my way.

This diagnosis and the problems that prompted me to see a doctor were kind of pushed to the side as I was dealing with work stress and then my grandfather dying. I think it’s safe to say that these three factors were what pushed me into depression but the indifference that said doctor showed didn’t help. Finally, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but thanks to the pill, I’m a lot more emotional that I used to be and I don’t like it.

(Poor Aaron! He’s been a doll through all this drama. And, of course, he gets the worst of my irritability and down swings. Thanks sweetheart. I’d be lost without you!)

Basically, my unhappiness with the effects of the pill, which was given to me to manage the PCOS, spurred me to look into in on the weight loss website and that brings us back to where we started.

Me. On the floor.

I found a couple of support “teams” for sufferers of PCOS that are trying to lose weight and I started reading some of these women’s stories. It was all I could do not to burst into tears on the spot. Hearing about the pain and suffering that they’ve been through that is so similar to my own and yet so individual brought all of the fear and stress and frustration bubbling out of the little hole that I’ve been stuffing it into as I’ve been prioritizing “important” stuff.

Is it weird to say that I had no idea how much it had been bothering me? Suddenly, I found myself faced with this bitter, raw place at the center of all the negativity that I’ve been struggling to escape and it was like a light clicked on. (Dammit. I need a tissue.)

When I looked at someone other than myself with the same struggles and worse, for the first time, since it wasn’t me who was suffering, I could admit how much it sucks and how unfair this random toss of the dice has been. Because it wasn’t me… Because it wasn’t just me being a big baby. Because when it’s happening to someone else, I don’t have to pretend that it’s okay. When it’s not me I don’t have to pretend that it’s no big deal just because it’s not life threatening.

And it does suck. It sucks big, hairy donkey balls. It sucks to find out that parts of my personality that I’ve been proud of could be because of what this disorder has done to me. It sucks to know that in treating it, some part of the core of who I am changes a little. And maybe you don’t really notice it, but I do and it makes me sad. It sucks that it’s harder for me to lose weight than it is for a “normal” person. It sucks that people are shallow and I am judged too harshly for something that I have limited control over. It sucks that there is no known cause or cure.

But it feels pretty damn good to be able to face it. And it feels pretty damn good to be able to admit it. And it feels pretty damn good to know that I have people who love and support me and do what they can to make it okay. (Seriously, bad day to wear mascara!) It feels pretty damn good to know that there is something wrong with me and I’m not just a failure. And it feels pretty damn good to look to the future and see promise and hope.

Thank you for putting up with my emotional colonic. I love you guys.

Lali-ho! We shall see where the road takes us!

Vappy Dalintine’s Hay ladies and gentlebugs! You know, I find it funny that the gifts I get from people on special occasions are from previous students and not the ones currently in my class.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off  to.”                                                                                          Bilbo Baggins

 As my husband’s schooling winds down, we find ourselves examining options and preparing to make big scary leaps of faith into the great, wide world beyond this smallness that we inhabit at the moment. I don’t know what’s with the waxing poetical, but I’ll try to keep that at a minimum. Maybe it’s just the abject terror that makes me lyrical?

There are several things that we’ve been considering as I desperately scrounge the web for some glimmer of an idea of what the hell I’m going to do once I say farewell to the frustrating (but familiar) world of education. (Okay, deep breath… In. Out. Better? Not so much…)  Aaron (The husband. keep up, will you!) will be  getting his degree in Communications (with a focus in theater, TV and film) in December so he’ll be looking for something having to do with TV and film. Which, in turn, means that we will have to move away. Far away. The closest possibility is Austin (300 miles) and the furthest is taking a (flying) leap and going overseas.

Going overseas is intriguing and (as I mentioned to twitter) carries the possibility of teaching English abroad. There’s a training center in Prague (about 6,000 miles from home) that we’re looking at as a possible jumping point if we decide to go that route, but just the thought of leaving everything we know and is familiar behind makes my anxiety level vault into epic heights. Still, though, it’s a very real option… The biggest deterrent (funnily enough) is that we would probably have to get rid of the cats which is not a prospect we take lightly. The other thing is the question of what Aaron would do while I’m teaching in “exotic” locations. Lack of the language would seriously impede employment and I know he’s ready to be a largely contributing member of our family unit.

Stateside, we are looking at a few different locals as well. As I mentioned, Austin is a possibility, though a bit boring as we wouldn’t even be going out of state. This might be a more reasonable option, though, since I’m certified to teach in Texas (even though I want out of the teaching game) and Aaron has never lived anywhere but here and we’ve at least visited Austin fairly regularly the last couple of years, so it wouldn’t be too terribly traumatic for him.

Los Angeles is another option. It’s (traditionally) where movie folks congregate, so there’s that. I don’t have any idea what I would do in L.A. while he works at getting into the field, but I’m sure I could find something to occupy myself and contribute.

Seattle, too, has appeared on our radar. Largely because I’ve lived there before and know some people (which is unique to all of the places we’re considering) and because we know there are some delightfully nerdy things that go on there. Plus, Washington is really pretty. (See how grown up our reasoning is? SEE???)

And that’s where we are right now. Mostly lost, weighing options and priorities and planning. And these decisions need to be made ASAP! Our lease is up for renewal, December is right around the corner (when measured in grown up time) and no matter what we decided, steps will need to be taken.

Things are changing and I’m terrified and exhilerated and I can’t wait to see what happens!

Ramble-matic, ENGAGE!

I don’t know what the problem is, but lately every time I sit down to blog, every single interesting idea scatters from my head like a swarm of cockroaches when the lights turn on. (You’re welcome for that charming analogy!) Not only that, but thanks to a lack of computer time, I’m horribly behind on my blog reading! It’s not that I don’t love you wonderful bloggy people, it’s just that I’m bogged down with the new semester and looking busy when I’ve got spare time. (Let’s be honest, now, shall we. How much of your time at work is actually spent working?)

Maybe it’s just this time of year that puts me in a funk. And I can’t even say it’s the weather because of the yo-yo that has been South Texas weather this year. It should not be 89°F in January in this hemisphere! And it most certainly should not be bouncing from a high of 88°F to a high of 43°F and then back up to 89°F within the span of two weeks! And for those of you in the chilly northern states that want to bitch-slap me about now, I apologize. I know things could be worse (much, much worse) it’s just irritating to live somewhere so schizophrenic. For someone that doesn’t like hot weather, I am living in the wrong part of the world!

Mostly, though, if I really stop to think about it, which I’ve been purposely avoiding,  this time of year makes me really melancholy. This was always the time of year that we reconnected with family. It seemed that even when we were living on the other side of the country we would go “home” for the holidays  every couple of years. And here it is, 10 years since I’ve set foot on Georgian soil. 10 years. Is it any wonder that I feel so disconnected and disjointed?

And now, with Grandpa’s passing, I’m kind of scared to go “home”. Just the thought of that old, crumbly house without him makes my heart ache. And then there’s that ever present fear that the warmth and acceptance that have always been there, no matter how long it’s been since we last visited, won’t be there. That it will be awkward and uncomfortable and the ease of slipping into old grooves with people that have known you all your life will be too rusted. I don’t know if I could take that. It’s easier not to face the possibility. It’s easier to wonder and not not test it.

For so long, I’ve been so afraid of putted down roots to be ripped up (again) that I think they might have shriveled up and died. I hold people at arms length. I disconnect. I’m a horrible friend. A horrible sister. A horrible daughter. And now a horrible aunt. I never call. I never visit. And for all the impact I have on the lives of the people I claim to love, I could be living in a monastery cut off from the rest of the world.

It’s kind of funny (in an ironic, not-funny-at-all-but-really-really-sad, kind of way). When I read about people’s day to day lives, whether it be in blog form or on farcebook or twither, and they talk about doing this and that with a friend or family member and it’s quite clear the kind of easy connection they have with these people, even when they’re doing something as mundane as grocery shopping or having dinner or anything like that or even just talking on the phone, it breaks me up a little. I feel a little stab of pain for the real, meaningful relationships that I’ve ignored and abandoned and that feel so far out of reach. I envy you.

If we are the sum of the roots that we put down, what the hell am I?