Category Archives: Random

To new beginnings! :)

My Lord! Has it really been almost a month and a half since my last post? Yikes! I can’t promise things will get better right away, but I’m back! :)

It’s been an insane two months since we last spoke. I finished up the school year and with that finished my professional teaching career, hopefully for the long run. I can’t really say that I’m going to miss it, but I will look back with fondness. Even though the career wasn’t a fit for me, I did enjoy the people I got to meet and I can only hope that I was able to make a difference in even a few of my students’ lives. (Blah, blah, blah, sentimental, blah, blah.)

As soon as school was done, it was a mad dash of cleaning and packing, sorting trash, keepers, sellers, donations, etc. (Moving is hard!) Thanks again to our wonderful families for their help loading day! My dad provided his years of packing experience to help us get the most out of that little uhaul and WOW did we fit a lot of stuff into that little space! The last week at home was a strange combination of days spent in frenetic activity and evenings filled with goodbye dinners and last hangouts. My mom was really the only one that almost made me lose it. She teared up almost every time we saw them and we saw them quite often… My mom is a great lady! ::sniffles:: ::cough:: Something got in my eye…

The trip itself was surreal. We had done the math and the most economical way was driving both the small uhaul and my car. Because of the cats, we would have had to rent a much larger uhaul just to fit us all in the cab and the gas mileage would have been much worse, especially if we towed the car, as we had been planning to do. Halfway across Texas, I started to feel not-so-good: headache, congestion, mild achyness. So, by the time we reached Roswell, I was fairly miserable. While Aaron picked up food, I showered, we ate and I collapsed into bed. The rest of the trip was much the same. Drive, feel bad, stop, eat, sleep. We did get to see some fantastic scenery, though, once we got to the mountain-y parts of New Mexico. The tiny bit of Colorado we saw was beautiful, Utah was gorgeous (and we used a dry outhouse rest area in the mountains there… Crazy!), Idaho can BITE me, Oregon was pretty but wouldn’t let us pump our own gas, and then we reached WASHINGTON! :)

I love it here! The weather is gorgeous! (Except for the day it hit 87F… We don’t have A/C. Oscillating fans are amazing!) It’s a bit more humid than I expected, but I shouldn’t be surprized, really, as we’re only a mile or so away from Puget Sound. When the breeze is just right, we even get a hint of ocean air in our apartment. :)

Okay. Back to linear narration.

We stayed in a crappy little American’s Best Value motel for a few days as we scouted for apartments. We found a homey little (stressing the LITTLE) two bedroom that was priced comparably to some studios and one bedrooms we’d seen online. As for myself, I fell in love with the area. It’s a tiny little town that doesn’t even register on some maps/with some companies. It has a very neighborhood feel as opposed to the other place we considered on the opposite side of Seattle that seemed much more sterile and commercial. We put in our apps and waited… And waited… And waited…

I know it wasn’t really THAT long, but when you’re living in a hotel, staying close in case a call comes in, and WAITING, it feels like much longer. FINALLY, five days after we started the process and after we had finally given up and moved into my mom’s friend’s ex-husband’s condo’s spare bedroom, we got the call that the paperwork was through and we could come and fill out the real paperwork and get our keys! YAY!! We said, “We’ll be right there!!” and after signing a bazillion papers, we were handed our keys, picked up the cats and the uhaul and drove HOME. :)

Then there was the grueling unpacking of the uhaul with just the two of us, up stairs, but we won’t go into that, and we returned the cursed thing and went HOME.

And that’s where I think we’ll end for today. :)

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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?)

Inappropriate lamp…

Is inappropriate!

And he's sooo happy about it!! :D

Yeah, I know I’m being a bad blogger, but I can’t really think of anything to write about lately. Hopefully something interesting will happen soon, or I’ll stop being lazy and make something interesting!

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.

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! :)

I really am trying…

…To enjoy the season, but right now, I could punch spring in the face!

This morning started off pretty nicely. I woke up early and it wasn’t terrible since I made myself go to bed early. I did my usual morning routine, but since I was up a little earlier than usual, I took my time about it and ate breakfast at home instead of at my desk before work. When the time came to leave, there was the slightest hint of coolness to the air which was very nice. Traffic wasn’t too horrific and I got to work with plenty of time to spare to check email and enjoy the sounds of spring.

I love birds. Not as pets, so much, but watching and listening to birds outside is always very pleasant for me. So, as I waited for the first bell to ring, I sat at my desk listening to the cacophony of different birds through my slightly propped open classroom door. (Our campus used to be an elementary school and isn’t a single building, so much as a collection of loosly connected buildings that open to the outdoors.) The one benefit of our campus is being able to enjoy some of the rarer local wildlife. We get whistling ducks, woodpeckers, meadowlarks, tree squirrels (Which are an oddity in an area dominated by ground squirrels.) and the normal sparrows, grackles and mocking birds.

And this morning ALL of them were doing their chirpy bird thing at the same time. Except for the squirrels, which are not birds. And it was lovely.

And then, I started sneezing. And my nose started running. And I started getting assaulted by dad-blamed fleas (which were almost gone as of yesterday, but apparently we got a new batch!). And then I remembered why I don’t like spring (not to be confused with Spring, whom I like very much) and I closed my door.