Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hyperbole and a Half > A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story is my family's go-to holiday movie, and at 28, I'm pretty sick of it.  One year I read In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd, which only made watching the movie worse (give him a try, stuff's pretty funny).  The best part about the movie is that my dad loves it, and it's good to see him laugh.  Usually when he laughs it is at the expense of someone else, which is hilarious when it's not me. We even got him a leg lamp a few years ago, which is ironically, stuck in a bedroom no one uses, away from the window.  You can get a leg lamp at  I'm not kidding.

Not as funny at $99.99

Luckily, we don't watch It's a Wonderful Life or The Santa Claus.  We'll usually end up watching some horrible but entertaining action movie like Transformers.  I'm going to lobby heavily for The Day After Tomorrow which is my FAVORITE movie ever (tying close with Super Troopers).  I'm usually pretty Christmas'd out by the 20th, so Christmas Day is for sleeping, eating and watching stupid movies.   For your internetting pleasure, here's a scene from Super Troopers, with Jim Gaffigan (of Hot Pocket fame):

So, what am I getting at, other than just wasting time at work?  I have decided that Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half needs a movie deal (or some money, whatever, she's awesome) to make a live-action version of her comic-story "The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas".  I want this to be our new family xmas movie, to supplant Ralphie and the Bumpuses' dogs.  This excellent installment tells the story of a young Brosh re-imagining the birth of Christ with the help of her drunken family, because the original story and typical play are plain boring.  

I'm not going to post any more than this, because I don't want to deprive you of the joy and weeping and gagging that I experienced reading this comic.  Hell, even my parents liked it, and they enjoy stuff like Everybody Loves Raymond*.
*And that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Congratulations are in order

No, don't get excited-- not for me, at least.  A close friend of ours (who introduced us, incidentally) is finishing up grad school and just got a job in Chicago.  He and his soon-to-be spouse will be moving there in June or July, which should put us just about in the same boat right.  Except they know where their boat is going! I am so excited for them, and eager to snap up any advance knowledge on the moving process. I talked to him yesterday and said, "This will be your first adult move," and he agreed.  Though he moved to another part of the country for grad school, this is the first non-school, real-job event.  I'm nervous because I've never moved anywhere by myself except for undergrad, and I was only an hour away from my parents.

We're going up to Michigan for their wedding in March. Hopefully by that time we'll know what's going on.  Heck, I'm nervous about even buying plane tickets at this point.

His fiancee is absolutely awesome.  She's got skills out the wazoo, so I'm sure she's not freaking out like I am about uprooting herself.  She has a craft blog called Hands Occupied where you can see all the crafts fall neatly from her brain.  The friend himself trained to be a student DJ at our college radio station on the same day as me, so that's when we met. He's a huge music nerd and a great friend.  He used to make me the best dance mixes for my parties and was one of Justin's groomsmen.  I am very tempted to post a picture of his Eddie Mercury costume from the night Justin and I met (at a Halloween party, of course).  I am going to bawl at this wedding.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Starts and Stops

Once again, I'm feeling the drag of J's advisor halting progress.  What do you do when you can only get your advisor's attention for 15 minutes a week and they won't write your rec letters or even let you know they haven't done them yet? J's feeling pretty sheepish, as his (now) top choice asked for letters probably two weeks ago, and we're still not sure she's got them all.  He had to send her an email making sure she got them, because his letter writers won't respond to his emails about whether or not they will/have written them.  Grrr.  But-- it was the end of finals week last week, so I should have patience.  I just hate to see him get down about it.  Things got exciting for a few days and then shut down.

In other exciting news, our landlord has dropped another bomb on us.  In September, we had actual contact with him when our A/C went out and he casually told us he was thinking about using our home as leverage in a custody battle.  "I figured I'd let my wife live here rent-free, and her lease is up in June."  Yeah, only slightly horrifying.  Renters' Rights in Arkansas are pretty grim, so we had a huge garage sale and sold off maybe 1/3-1/2 of our belongings just in case he got even flakier and we got the boot.  The idea of moving and then having to move again in 6ish months was horrifying.  We decided to get lighter.

Before that  there was talk of him selling the house, which was OK since our neighbors were interested (and intent on keeping us as tenants).  That fell through when the divorce started and he never returned their calls (after they had already paid for home inspections).  J. says we're probably good because nothing moves fast and the landlord is flaky, but I don't want to count on someone being flaky in a way that is beneficial to me.

Talk is back on about him selling off his properties, and luckily the neighbors are thinking about trying to buy the house again.  I got mad at J. last week for seeming to be cavalier about our possible eviction, but he was just way too stressed/depressed by the rec letter quagmire.  Can we just get out really soon?

The current plan is finish the thesis in March, defend in April, all done by May.  And somewhere in there find a job.  I don't know what I can do at this point but be optimistic.  This blog has helped that last bit dramatically.

In happy-go-lucky news, I had a kick-ass birthday party on Friday that made me forget about my birthday blues earlier in the week.  Here are some pictures, taken by my photographer friend:

My amazing sis-in-law

I love how I look like a tarty cherub in this shot.

Our bathroom has really good light, so eventually everyone came in for some group shots.

Detail of decorations

We forgot birthday candles, so Jonathan obliged with his lighter.

My sis and her new boyfriend. It was hard to find the cutest picture, because they are disgustingly wonderful together.

All in all, it was the best party I've ever had.  My sis-in-law and best friend helped me deck the house out in pink streamers and aqua Christmas balls and decorate a corner just for photos (seen above).   There was a glitch in the karaoke system (namely a microphone and amplification) but we remedied it with a hairbrush and really enthusiastic singing.   The rest of the night was taken up with Framboise floats and photo shoots and chocolate tort.  No one got sick. No one got sad. Everyone got hugs. Then everyone went home.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"A Call to Men" at TED Women preaches to choir

I'd heard about the TED Women conference months ago, and just like our towns Bikes Babes and Bling women-specific bike festival (an analog to the "regular" Bikes, Blues and BBQ), it puts a bad taste in my mouth. There's already TED-- so is regular, default TED mean men? Why can't they just get more female speakers normally? And why do women talking about their lives have to be relegated to their own conference? Men talk about their lives all the time-- but their lives are the norm, of course.

I'll admit, the only video I've watched so far is Tony Porter's "A Call to Men", because it was very front-and-center on the page and I was curious why a man talking about what men should do was so central in this women's ghetto.

Yes, good point, all of them, but what does this guy want? A cookie?  We already know and agree with what he's saying, so is this just masturbatory?  I think this talk would have made a lot more sense and actually done something to further the ideas if he'd done this talk at TED (Men).  This is an example with what's wrong and what TED is refusing to fix: if you set women aside and only have those issues be discussed in that homogeneous audience, the people who need to learn the lesson never hear it.  Porter tells an anecdote about a boy who said if his coach called him a girl, he would be destroyed.  Then Porter goes on to say that if this is how a young man would feel being compared to a woman, what the hell are we teaching them about women?

Well, when you set women aside in their own little TED Women conferences, you're teaching TED Men that women don't deserve to be and talk about themselves in the default setting.

Also, I am not saying that what Porter is saying is wrong.  I like him, I like his stories, and to have him going around talking to young men makes me feel pretty good.  I just think the placement in this already wrong-headed (to me) situation wasn't the right choice.  I guess the one who wants a cookie are the male TED organizers.

Would I ever want to give a talk at TED? OMG yes, if I had anything that awesome to say.  So many intelligent, creative people (PEOPLE, gender-neutral) people speak at those conferences, and it would be an honor.  But I think I'd feel slighted if I was put in TED Women instead just because of my lady-bits. Which, this separation says are not the right bits.

****DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS on this video.  For a talk on discrimination, there is a lot of people practicing it in there.  I'm not familiar with the comments on TED's website, but it looks like they are not a friendly place.

Professional photos! Always a great gift.

My best friend's husband took really great photos of all the stuff I've made recently.  He says I was doing him a favor by giving him a reason to make a soft box, but this is awesome:

Tiny Park, Arkansas

I'll post more later.

Party time!

It must seem like I've been having a birthday for a week, because I have.  I cannot let a year pass without a big party (heck, not a few months can pass) and my birthday never gets left out, even if I have to wait a week afterwards.  Finals will be over (a LOT of my friends are still in grad school) so everyone can come.  My sister-in-law arrives today, and we'll have the party on Friday.  I've been into color themed parties lately, so this one will be pink and aqua.  I purchased a Betsey Johnson dress in Portland (lapse of sanity and finances) and need more chances to wear it:

Mine's a little lighter, but pretty much the same. Is it cold right now? Of course! But fancy dress and costumes wait for no weather.  I'm going shopping for decorations soon, and I think I'll just do lots of streamers in my theme colors and some little white lights going around the perimeter of the room.  
There'll be champagne punch, framboise floats, and lots of snacks.  A friend is lending his projector and screen so we can do big karaoke in the living room.  
Pic from last birthday-- for some reason, this really brought the house down.

Some snacks from last year.  My of my friends are excellent cooks, so they bring great things.
The husband, who I will refer to as J. from now on because "the husband" sounds kind of mocking, got me a pair of super super super warm cycling gloves, but even better, he's really going at it with applications and letters, and that makes me happier than anything.  It's really starting to come true.  Will I actually need to rock this birthday party like it's my last one in town?  I avoided a mention of that in the invitations, because I'm pretty sure I said that last year.  Don't want to jinx it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meeting strangers

I rode the bus home for lunch today, and at the stop I kept catching the eye (and vice versa) of a strange looking girl with long dreadlocks and very sculptural clothing.  As we were waiting for the bus, she told me she liked my dress (new b-day dress) and I said I liked her "whole thing", and then blurted, "you look like a plant".  I meant this in a genuinely good way, and she said she liked looking like a dryad.  I am sometimes wary of hippie-looking folk, only because I've had some bad times with trust fund kids and earthy con-men.  My wariness is also provoked by up-to-11 sincerity and earnestness, non-confrontational body language coupled with almost menacing eye-contact.  I'm the kind of person likely to get caught in a streetside scam in the city, catch myself at the last minute and then beat myself up for assuming the worst in people.  The bus I ride home is also often filled with immature young adults in Spencer's tshirts who say things like "gay" and "retarded" really loud and make me feel misanthropic.  I was hoping this was not one of those people in disguise as a tree-person.

Anyhow, as soon as we sat on the bus, she sat in the seat across the aisle and introduced herself.  My "female intuition" didn't pick up anything terrible, and we got into conversation.  Maybe it's birthday mirth, but I was definitely more game for talking to strangers on the bus.  She shook my hand, said she'd just moved down here from a few hours away and works in a store that I frequent very often.  She sews and said the last town she lived in had "a lot of sad people" in it.  If I hadn't been on a tight schedule and meeting the husband, I would have probably jaunted off with her and given her a tour of the city.  We both got out at the same stop and I gave her directions to the library, and she said she'd see me around.

In the middle of my meal, I realized why I was acting pretty much contrary to my usual manner towards strangers on the bus-- I was going to be one very soon.  I hope that when I see a lady that looks cool, and it seems ok to say hi, I may make a friend.  To be so new in town, riding the bus to get a feel for it, must be very exciting but also tiring and a little scary.  I'm glad I got to be a part of her day.

Birthday Blues

Dunno why, but I'm pretty down about my birthday this year. Must've been too much planning/anticipation. Is it a sign of getting older? My dominant feelings have been self-loathing and paranoia.  I try to keep staring at the pleats of my new dress trying to feel more positive, and I don't want to announce my birthday like usual. The best thing would have been to get out of work today, but I did not foresee this dark mood.

Better notes: a friend took marvelous pictures of my sculptures, past and present, this weekend.  Here they are if you'd like to look.  I am at least one step towards a "portfolio", though I don't know what I'll do with it or who will look.

I got a new dress from a crazy Airstream vintage store. Really, a motorhome with awesome dresses in it.  When my sister told me, I said it was probably a psychopath trying to trap fashionable young women, and she'd better watch out.

My incredibly awesome sister-in-law will be in town for my party on Friday. She is a party all in herself: bartender, feminist, works at a rape-crisis hotline, teaches at a girl's rock-n-roll camp, she's in a noise band, another band called Whore Paint, is covered in tattoos and loves me to death.  Oh-- and her band, Made in Mexico, is featured in a secret level of Guitar Hero 1.  You can find videos on youtube* of people playing it and complaining about how damn hard it is. <3 <3 <3

This is a video of her playing with the band Whore Paint:

Most of my tattoos happened under her influence.  She has a different name in every state.

*Mind, this is people playing it really badly.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hungover pre-birthday edition

Oy vey. I thought I was feeling bad from doing too much fine detail on some projects, but I now know it's last night's merriment.  I don't go out much anymore, but events are conspiring to make this a very social winter.  I just finished making my husband a stocking to take with us to my family's Christmas.  We usually have Christmas with his family, due to far-away relatives coming into town.  They are also super chill and don't have holiday drama.  I love that.  My family, on the other hand, is the reason I crinkle my nose when the word  "Christmas" is spoken.  They focus heavily on the "importance" of the holiday, but I can't tell what that importance is (not religion and not "being together", as someone always starts a fight).  There's also a heavy focus on gifts, which can be trying to the members who have significantly less money.  I wish that being areligious would help, but it makes no difference.  We have 3-5 nativities around the house, but no one mentions the J man.  Personally, I'd like a Christmas that is less uptight and obsessed with the idea of Christmas.  It sets a person up for stress and disappointment.

My mom called to solidify my birthday dinner plans tonight (real b-day is tomorrow).  I told her I'd just finished making a stocking for my husband, and there was a pause.  She said, "But I got him a stocking, we've used it for years."  I told her I know, but I made him one, because I'm his wife.*.  She hemmed and hawed about how that was really sweet, and how we could take it with us when we move, but she had a really weird attitude about it.  Is it weird that I wanted his stocking to be something I made or, heck, even bought? She's neither his mom or wife, so why is she being proprietary?  That is just one more facet to why I get stressed about my family's Christmas.

I think instead of Christmas, we should just have a second Halloween. And then in January, we can have Christmas, but we change all the traditions and make it less awful.  Cancel Black Friday. Tithe?  I tried to just donate money one Christmas, and a few people got huffy about it.  Seriously. I wasn't being in the spirit of the holiday for them.

At least I don't have to do three Christmases (I only have two).  Some friends are going out of the country for Christmas, a belated honeymoon, but they still have to observe the holiday separately with both families.  This is really stressful and time-consuming for them, and they see their family often anyway.  Not saying it's all moms, but the moms in these scenarios employ tactics of guilt if they don't see their children ON CHRISTMAS DAY.  And my mom doesn't care if I only stay a day, it has to be Christmas.  I can spend a whole week with my in-laws, but she doesn't care as long as I'm with her on the 25th.  Personally, I think that's pretty fucked up.

So, I'm going to try to nap this sickness off in time for an Indian feast tonight.  Sadly, I think I'm going to have to self-medicate a little before I go, just because thinking about my mom having a power play for my husband's Christmas memories is making me feel awful.  Is she going to make our future children's stockings too?

*Making a stocking isn't something I think is a wife's duty. But certainly if said wife is a crafter.

Friday, December 10, 2010

To India, with love

So, scratch that. I realized I was getting ahead of myself, like when I imagined I'd be a seamstress after two lessons and started a twitter after I thought I'd started a wildly successful blog.  Tiny Park, Arkansas will be a blog or something someday, but really, I don't need two blogs.  

Here's some pics of the clay/pin "robots" I made for a friend to take back to India for her little sister.  I started making these years ago just for fun, but after I invented a position for myself on a non-profit called Art Amiss, I suddenly had to make over 200 of them for a show.  I'm no longer with that group, but people sure do remember those little robots.  That group has asked me to take care of their Etsy site, and I hope I'll get to do some craftin' too.  I don't want to be on the board again, because board members can't submit artwork to shows.  This is the first time I think I'll actually have something to offer.

If anyone knows how to do two columns of pictures, let me know. This was a long one.

The husband sent out his third letter today, which was really a full-on application to a program in Boulder, CO (formerly referred to as NewTownX).  I like the idea of that.  Ohio is still on the line, but France hasn't been launched yet.  He's stressed, but I want to hope that he's feeling good and accomplished.  I'm incredibly proud of him and I'm very happy.  I apologized today for my impatience, which would have been hard to do a few months ago.  I really didn't understand the obstacles in his way.  He seems to be getting over them.

We're going to spend a quiet weekend, but when he goes out to do research tomorrow, I'm going to A-Z in Alma, Arkansas.  It looks like a scary religious compound from above, and is the largest deal/dollar store mall ever.  It is insane.  The things housed inside it must not be, and are very cheap.  I'm taking some friends, and I think our aim is plastic dinosaurs, wrapping paper and op art.  Yes, necessary things.  Sports, furniture, clothing, bridal, floral, rugs, gifts and sports equipment, all in their own giant iron sheds.  And a diner filled with fried everything.  The last time we went, we spent about seven hours and came out dehydrated and thrilled, only spending about $30.  I'll be on the lookout for another factory-second Justin Bieber shirt.  My husband and I have a strange liking for pop star t-shirts and pop stars we don't really know anything about.  He's got a Backstreet Boys shirt he's been wearing for a decade, and has been mentioned in his teaching evaluations.  Good or bad? Who cares, I'm getting some tiny dinosaurs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No more crafts!

Ever since I stopped being anonymous and posted stuff I was doing, readership died! I will keep this blog more spousal/moving/feminist issues-oriented, and keep all the craft stuff somewhere else I can focus on that: Tiny Park, Arkansas.  If you're interested.  We're supposed to hear more back from Ohio next week!  Which is also my birthday! Surprises!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hello? I have good news?

After taking just a few days off posting, I can now tell all my traffic comes from one place: Two Body Problem.  Thank you!  When I update, I go to the top of her blogroll, and people come over.

So, the good news.  The husband FINALLY was able to send out some letters (three to be exact) and he's already heard back from two of them.  Ones a definite no (doesn't have the funding for another scientist) and the other said, "Cool! I know you! Let me get back to you in a prompt manner, but you sound cool!"  This is all very new and exciting, this promptness of communication.  Husband was flabbergasted.

AND luckily, the one that didn't have a job for him was in Madison, WI.  I hear this  place is very cold and the people eat snow and cheese. I like the latter part, but I wasn't made for the former.  I was really looking forward to meeting Joanne from A Mathematician's Wife.  Or, well, asking if she ever wanted to meet up.

Columbus, Ohio, I hear, does have the cold, but it doesn't sound as terribly wintry as Wisconsin. I'm deluding myself before doing the research.  It's cold here in the Ozarks right now, but not terrible.  I am still riding my bike to work, but we rarely have to deal with snow.

I made three small sculptures to give as Christmas presents, and I think I should post some pictures on here.  I don't think the people who I'm giving them to know about this blog, so I think we're safe!  A friend of mine who is building his own portfolio in photography has agreed to take some real pictures of them, which I'll post when they get done. For now, you'll have to do with mine.

Saturn and 63 moons

Trashy park (idea slightly stolen from D. Hayde)

And that's Moon.  The moon. I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe something like The Little Prince?

I'm really just looking for any reason to drill a hole in something.

I feel kind of bad about art-type gifts.  I am not an artist, but I like to make things.  I often give hand-made gifts.  But this time I am experimenting in something I've always wanted to try: sculpture.  And specifically on a very small scale.    So, I'm essentially giving people my experiments, and that doesn't sit right with me.  I feel like something is wrong if a handmade gift wasn't made initially with the person in mind.  Feels kind of dirty.   I don't think the gifts are badly made or my "seconds", but I feel like I am being dishonest.  Giving these as gifts gave me the motivation to try new things, so I think I should stop overthinking it.  I wonder if other artists have these thoughts about giving art as gifts.  I have a few paintings done by friends that they gave to me as a gift, but I didn't see any conflict in their faces.