Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh! Whoa! I'm back!

Well, lucky for me, this move has been pretty awesome. So awesome, I haven't updated in over two months. I've met people, gotten scads of volunteering time in AND made some cool-ass stuff. The "trailing" angst is pretty much gone since I'm in it, and it feels a lot different when you're not just fretting about it.

A unicorn and Hyperbole and a Half
I'm going to start doing some major craft stuff in the next few weeks, and attempt to keep better track so I can do tutorials (I hear you, Heidi).  But-- I am moving my blog to Wordpress, in order to change the URL and because Google can suck my yarn balls.  Very soon, you will be able to read/see my stuff at Jumbo Jibbles.  That is, if anyone still reads this.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

MUST CRAFT - Cranes and Pinwheels



We've been in the new apartment for two full weeks now with none of our stuff. Other than getting tired of wearing the same pair of shoes every day, this hasn't been bad at all.  It's clean and open, and we don't have to mess with tidying much.  But the one thing that has been driving me nuts is having no access to my craft supplies.

Instead of being impatient and wasting money buying things that would soon arrive, I bought a pack of 50mm origami sheets in Japantown (one of the three surviving in the country) and learned how to make paper cranes.  I got pretty ok at it, but it just wasn't enough.  

I've been keeping a list of fun craft projects to decorate the house with, and they are mostly paper crafts like lanterns and pom-poms.  I was really inspired this week by a tip from Hands Occupied on how some crafters are repurposing wedding or shower decorations.  That's all and well for when the moving truck finally arrives (tomorrow!) but what do I do now, when my need is so great?  Oh, hello pinwheels!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Met People! Didn't Die!

I rode with four strangers to San Francisco last night, to attent an "after hours" event at the California Academy of Sciences museum.  Let me tell you-- being in a museum when it's usually closed it awesome, turning down the lights and giving people alcohol is awesomer.  The lines were long and the drinks were $9, so I didn't imbibe, but I imagine it was enhancing.  The main event (for me) was Adam Savage of MythBusters doing stand-up with some other SF comedians.  Here are some clips from the youtubes of the fabulous talent (no sarcasm, I laughed til I cried):

Alex Cole

Dave Thomason

Emily Heller

Emily Heller, Dave Thomason and Janine Brito (didn't see her, but I'd like to)

There were a few stinkers, tired old gender war jokes and one unfortunate (and likely accidental) date rape reference*, but all in all it was a great evening.  A reference to feminism was all it took for me and another of the participants to figure we were on the same foot, and when Adam Savage explained to his teenage sons that "The internet hates women" we both applauded.  I was also surprised how much San Franciscan comedians leaned on the "everyone in SF is gay" stand-by, especially since none of them were.

I'm proud of myself for getting out and hanging with complete strangers. Even happier that a few of them seemed like people I could genuinely be friends with some day.  Making friends is not effortless at this stage of life.

*To be fair, it was something a parent said to a child when they got flustered by a sex question.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Friend Dating

I just posted a "strictly platonic" ad in the personals section of Craigslist. Horror of horrors, what have I gotten myself into?  It's been almost two weeks in the new town, and I'm getting lonely.  I had a good morning yesterday, was very productive, but then I started convincing myself that it would be possible to be ok if I never made another friend in my life. This is so incredibly wrong, and once I convinced myself, I was despondent for a little bit.  I've made a few friends, but since I've met them through other people, I don't want to make them feel put-upon by me wanting to hang out too much. So, I need to embiggen the pool of people.

Damn my extroversion!

So, this ad.  I hope it didn't sound too dorky, but I wanted to be more specific than all the "Looking for a BFF! I like to have fun!" because that's how most of them read.  That, or it is obvious that the ad shouldn't be in the "strictly platonic" section.  Who wouldn't go for this gal:


Well, we'll find out.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

California Trail

It's been long enough since I've written that I can't completely find my way back to where I was. Things happened really fast-- giving notice, selling off our possessions, finding a home for our dog, finding a home for us. My family was certainly not satisfied with the amount of time I could spend with them, and the pressure they put on me didn't help me very much. At the end, I had to keep telling myself that in this particular situation, yes, this is about me. About me and J, and the big thing we were about to do. I had to focus on getting us through it.

And we did. We've been in San Jose for over a week now, still no belongings, and J started his first day at Intel on Monday. It took us three days driving 1,800 miles on I-40, six tanks of gas, and half of the audiobook version of A Storm of Swords. The book made the time go by really quickly, and don't believe anybody when they say that drive isn't beautiful. I'd never driven through Arizona or New Mexico, or Texas for that matter, and it was fun to look at. J didn't seem to be as intent about power-driving, but I kept wanting to drive more once he called it a day. I really wanted to get to my new home.

So, here I am, a week later with no furniture, no job, and no husband around. A person could get very stagnant, so I'm trying to keep busy. It's hard when there's nothing in the house. I have a craft commission, but I don't have any supplies. I want to decorate, but I don't have any furniture. Really, things could be worse.

The best news is, is that I love it here. I love walking everywhere, biking is easy, driving is easy, the food is great and the weather really is quite beautiful. I'm sure I'll start to miss rain soon. I'm going to take about a month before I start to look for a job, and in that time I plan to volunteer, get my commission done and start a class at the local TechShop.  I have a California drivers license, a library card and a few friends.  Really, I'm all set.

There will be a time when I may whine about feeling guilty about not working, but it is not today. Today I have a very positive outlook that this time will be well-spent, and I will have better direction for myself.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lucy Knisley in my Brain

One of my favorite comic artists, Lucy Knisley, just posted a moving comic! So perfect.  We jam out of here in less than one week.


I hope people come to our going-away party at the bar tonight.  I hope I don't cry.

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Would you talk candidly about your boss's management style?"

It is my last day at work, and in an attempt to keep myself here until my two week's was officially up, I volunteered to do two presentations. Today.  Simple things, but requiring two full hours.  One down, one to go, and the only people who came to the morning session were those that obviously wanted my position.  It was hilarious when I realized their interested faces were more like hungry hyena smiles.  I took the time to answer lots of questions.  But then came what I had been dreading: tell us what your boss is really like.

I don't write about it much in case this blog was ever linked to the real me, but our working relationship has been rather toxic.  We get things done, but I wouldn't say things ever worked well.  So, here I am on my last day, in a big open room with my boss across the hall, and someone asks me to describe her management style, candidly, and gives me a knowing smile. WTF, lady? I said, "You know, this may be my last day, but I still work here."  Despite myself, I described my boss's style in very professional terms and listed her visible cons in a more positive light than I've ever been able to talk about them.  Because that's what you do.  I didn't say, "Oh, she's great!" I said she was difficult, but got a lot done and there were lots of opportunities to excel.  Not to expect praise, even think you may be doing things wrong until you get a GREAT eval-- because she will tell you when you're effing up, but not when you're doing something right.  These are things that would have been great to know when I started, so I think I did the right thing.

The same woman emailed me later to wheedle out more details, but I will not oblige.  I don't really know her, and wouldn't want anything more candid coming back to my boss.

I think Allison Green would be proud of how I'm leaving my job: clean office, tour of the files, handbook, farewell email to all staff and patrons I've dealt with.  Tied up all loose ends, fixed things that needed fixing.  People are finally telling me what I needed to hear all along: you did a great job.  Why can't they tell you that before you leave?

Bonus: told to me by my boss, a faculty member worriedly asked her what was happening now that I was leaving, and asked, "Are you the new her?"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

After the flood

4 REAL - This was my fortune at the Chinese restaurant we ate at our first day in San Jose.
It's so hard to write about so much has happened. On July 7th, I got a text from J that said, "Call me-- not in your office". At this point, it had been over a week since he'd gotten the job offer, but nothing final on paper. It could be great or horrible. I went outside and paced around in the disgusting Arkansan heat while the phone rang, and he answered and said, "I got it".

Commence jumping and squeeing!  I calmed myself, strode into Human Resources and tried to tell them the news without peeing on myself.  They know my current work situation, and weren't surprised that I was so damn excited. And to their credit, they were excited for me as well.  I only went to them first so the motive would be clear when my boss murdered me.

I always thought resigning would have more of a dramatic, thrilling feel, but mostly I tried to be calm, respectful and get it over with.  Fifteen minutes didn't go by from phone call to leaving my boss's office.  And to her credit, my treatment has not been any worse than it usually is, since then.  I was able to give three week's notice and I am leaving with my to-do list finished and a detailed handbook for the next supervisor. Good. Bye.

So much has happened since then, such as a reprise of all the problems I've had with moving and not having a job, but this is all I can do for now.  We're one week away from the day we drive away from here never to be Northwest Arkansas citizens again*.  We've got movers, a place for the dog**, a new apartment, some friends in the city and a lot of excitement.  The physical stuff has mostly been easy, and that's what we've been dealing with.  We haven't started to say goodbye yet.

*Maybe when we are old.
**Please, no judgmental comments about how I'm a terrible pet owner. She is going to a home that is ten times better than the shitty home life we've cobbled together for her for the past five years.  Eat me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Apartment Trip

We're getting ready to fly over to San Jose for a week to look for apartments.  So, more radio silence.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Meetup.com in San Jose


Now that it's official, I signed up for a number of groups on meetup.com so I can jump in immediately.  Being in Silicon Valley, you have to wade through a lot of tech stuff, start-ups and New Age-y awfulness.  I was afraid that being in a non-tech field, having no children or power crystals, I'd be up a creek.  In the country's 10th most populous city, though, I will be ok.

The Non-Moms Club- Lots of clubs for moms, for all ages of children, but not a lot for just women specifically.  This group was created not to be anti-mom, but pro-we're-childfree-now.  They do a wide variety of stuff (drinks, hikes, charity), so hopefully I'll meed a variety of people.

Bay Area Ghost Hunters- J thinks I'm nuts, but I've never known any ghost hunters and it looks like fun.  Do I believe in ghosts? Well, not really, but I believe in having a good time.

San Jose ASL Meetup- This will help me practice the little bit I've learned in class so far.  I'm sure I'll be awful, but this is the best way to get better.  I've yet to practice with an actual deaf person.

There's a lot more, a lot of craft groups and biking groups, but I'll stick with these few at first.  The internet has made it really easy for me to have almost too much to do when I get there. Yippee!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dear lord.

It has now been over a week since J got the job offer, and Human Resources has not called to discuss salary.  We have nothing in writing, yet he has a start date in early August.  The math is not adding up for me to give proper notice at my job (and have time to move myself across the country).

Freaking out commencing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Who's on twitter?

In an attempt at search engine optimization, I created a twitter account last November, but haven't used it much. My lack of a smart phone is a hindrance on tweeting, so I never remember to post anything.  I should, as it's a great way to publicize my blog and get more readers/community members.  Every once in a while I do a twitter search for trailing spouse keywords, and today I found the Trailing Husband blog:


That's how people find my blog too!  Depressing, but not depressing at the same time.

I am also now infinitely more google-able.  If you search "trailing spouse blog" (but without the quotes) I am on the second page.  That's up from the 17th!  That means that next time some lady all tripped up on gender expectations and fear of moving figures out that "trailing spouse", as odious as it sounds, is a term she can use, she may stumble onto my blog and feel a little better.  And find other people's blogs, and maybe stop stumbling.  Guys, too, because it's not boys against girls.  Gender expectations make things suck for everyone.

So, if y'all have twitter accounts, let me know and I'll follow you!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Defined by your job?

Eileen at Dissertation Under Construction wrote a piece yesterday called Visibility and Women's Work that really struck a chord for me:

J has worked at a summer theater every summer since I moved to Overcast three and a half years ago, and usually it's great.  Long hours, but the people he works with are mostly fun and reasonably acquainted with the fact that graduate school is work, since some of them are thinking about grad school themselves.  Except for a few people, mostly straight men, who seem to think that intellectual work, especially done by a woman, is not work at all.  I'm aware that I'm extraordinarily privileged, in that my university gave me a funding package which allows me to solely work on my dissertation during the summers.  I don't have to pick up a second job or teach unless I choose to, so when we meet people for drinks after work or whatever, my answer to "what did you do today" is usually "read another book" and not "rigged 500 pounds of lights/built a giant platform for people to dance on." 
She is a grad student, academic and pretty awesome.  But her work isn't seen by some (mainly men) as real.  In my years with J, I've never heard anyone dismiss his work (theoretical physics mainly done from a couch) as fluff.  I couldn't do what she does, and without people like her the breadth and diversity of our knowledge base would dwindle.  Why is it that tasks are deemed less important when you have a woman do it?

I need to realize (and remember, and repeat to myself) that people who think like this are major douchebags, and I don't negotiate with douchebags.  It will still irk me, but I should correct them when I can and move along.

The things I like to do, that really bring me joy, are not what most people would call a career track.  I may never have a career in the sense that J has a career, but that doesn't mean I haven't done something with myself.   Eileen wrote about how what you do for money doesn't have to be what defines you.  It's great if it does, and defines you in a good way, but life isn't always work.

What I need to do is strengthen my non-"work" skills, so the after-work sphere of my life grows larger and more important.  People may not respect the things I like to do (sewing, sculpting) as real work, but I need to.  And I don't think I've been truly respecting my talents.

It's easier said than done, to not give credit to what others think of you.  But starting this summer, I'm going to try to not care.

Eat it, haters.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guest Post: Getting a job immediately, regretting it immediately

Fargo Kidder* is a graduate student, crafter, blogger, and dog lover.

Last time I wrote a post for SCOATS, I focused on my desire to take the plunge and become a creative entrepreneur. Two recent posts  by "a" made me realize I have something else the readers of this blog might be interested in: what happened to me after I followed my spouse.

I was a ball of nerves as my husband and I prepared to move for his job. Don't get me wrong, there were things about the job I had at the time that I was psyched to leave behind. I knew I'd miss my friends, but I had the consolation of knowing we were moving just a 5-hour drive from where we used to live. I really can go back and visit any time. Because we moved to a fun city, we've already got almost a dozen friends coming to visit us this summer. It's nice, too, that my husband's new job allows us to live in a bigger, multi-bed and bathroom apartment that can accommodate company, unlike our old 650-square-foot house. After living in our new city for six weeks, I can say I miss my friends, but it's not so bad.

So the house and friends situations are great, but the work situation is not. My husband will start his new job in a few weeks, and I've been working at mine for just over a month. It was a good thing we opted to move in early May, despite his job not starting until July because I hit what some would consider the traveling spouse jackpot (I discussed this a bit in my previous post, but I'll touch on it again). I landed a job that is just like my old job. It's full time, started six days after we moved, and hey, it pays better. Here's the rub. I know taking this job was absolutely the wrong choice. At the time I got the job offer, I had already planned to work an internship part time while taking my remaining courses online. I would have finished my degree in August and have been able to apply for jobs with a couple years of experience from my old job, as well as no real lapse in employment due to working an internship and going to school full time online. 

Not the guest blogger, but the face says it all.
I keep asking myself "what was I thinking" when I'm on a train commuting to my job in an overly privileged, whitewashed suburb. It's to the point that I've started making myself list five positive things about my situation as I walk from my train stop in to work every day. This only leads me to listing twenty things about how pathetic I feel before stress eating the free candy in my ridiculous staff lounge. So what was I thinking when I applied for, interviewed twice for, changed my whole personal grad school plan for, and accepted this job? I was scared, god dammit! This job let me feel, to a certain extent, that I was still in control of my situation. That I wasn't another early twenty-something, unemployed loser. It justified my following my husband. My husband will always make more money than I do. Between getting married (and no one respecting my choice not to change my name), following my husband, and knowing my lifestyle will always be dependent on his paycheck, I think I needed these two months before his new job starts to feel like I could take care of us. Knowing that I was the sole bread winner, even just for a little while, is something I think I'll always be able to cling to when people call me Mrs. Wronglastname instead of Ms. Me. Or when I'm the armequin (silent mannequin on my husband's arm) at some terrible event that we "should" go to, it doesn't matter because I know that I can, and did, take care of us for two months after we moved. 

Interesting. I didn't realize til I wrote these thoughts down that the last two months will mean a lot to me long term. Maybe taking this job was the right choice at the time. I maintain, however, that I will GTFO the burbs asap. I will find a way to be a creative entrepreneur.

Today, I was originally intending to explore how I can leave this job without bruising my professional reputation too much. I've been there six weeks, and I plan on staying through September, for a total of three months. I've been keeping my eye on some job boards since I feel like it will be easier to leave this job if I had the excuse of "well, I wasn't feeling like this was a good fit and I got this other offer." But then I'll be jumping right into ANOTHER job. Honestly, I feel like I need a break. I have been triple-dipping my life in the part-time/online grad school, full time job, and blogging buckets for too long. My personal life suffers. I'm supposed to lose twenty pounds for my health this summer, and I don't know how to do that while working this much. It's hard to trust my perception of how I feel about anything when I'm this swamped. UGH. What to do?

---

*Ha! Still with that terrible pseudonym. I crack me up.

Trailing/Traveling/Accompanying Spouse Link Round-up

Here are some new blogs I've found:

Way Off Base: military spouse blog, many expat stories

Tales of an Accidental Trailing Spouse: expat blog

The Trailing Spouse Survey: a rather intensive study on 264 trailing spouses from 20 different country (nothing domestic, though)

The Fatidical* Question: This glimpse at an expat women's experience at cocktail parties with her husband pretty much proves that people are jerks.

Tokyo Blond: expat blog in Japan, no kids! (on purpose)

I'm still looking for those illusive blogs by women with no children moving domestically.  Ladies? Ladies?

*Word of the week! I had no idea what this meant (prophetic) and actually assumed it was misspelled.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Read a Town

felt macarons from Little Fluff Stuff
How to read a town, how to research a city, how to figure out where to live-- it all depends on what language you're speaking.  For me, I speak walk-able, bike-able, old architecture, crafting community.  And affordable, but I'll maybe have to learn a new dialect.  Looking at a new town when you've never been to it is hard.  I have no idea what people did before the internet (guess I should ask my mom).  I'm going to share some of the tips I've figured out about judging a town's compatibility.

1. Meetup.com-  Meet-up is a good place to start.  Smaller areas probably won't have a lot of entries, but a large city should yield up a group for just about anything (Southbay Goth Meet-up, LARPers, Raw food and board games night).  Pick your keywords and see what you find.  Now, I'm not sure how wide-spread meetup is, and it may be used more by some age groups than others.  Or maybe you don't even care about age groups.  Check it out.

Knitted cowl from Nisey Knits
2. Since this is at least 40% a craft blog, I chose to do some scouting through Etsy.com. Using their Shop Local search, I found sellers from the area we're looking at.  Then, I sent a handful of friendly notes asking about the availability of craft supplies and whether there was much of a crafting community.  I got answers back almost immediately about stores to go to and offers of help once I get there.  That was probably the most positive thing that's happened so far.  I'd like to thank Little Fluff Stuff (pictured above), maukDesigns, Nisey Knits, and La Plume Ethere for helping me feel at home before it's even my home. I even got an invitation to knit with someone!

3.  Google Street View: I can never use this feature without thinking HOLY SHIT IT'S THE FUTURE.  I've used this to check out my childhood home (they cut down my damn tree!) and find bike-able roads.  Now, I can snail my way through entire neighborhoods.  Looking at things from above always make them look weird and clinical, but street view is nice. The absence of deciduous trees in California makes me sad, but using this I could see that there are plenty of leaves out there.  Through a freak occurrence, J wasn't able to rent a car for his trip, but he could use the street view maps to check out the sidewalks.


View Larger Map

4.  City-data.com- Discussions from their forum often come to the top of my searches when thinking about moving/trailing.  It's a large enough website that you can almost always find someone moving from/to where you're going.  The design leaves much to be desired, but it is chock-full of facts. You won't laugh (you might cry, looking at housing prices) but you'll get some of the big answers.  This doesn't particularly give you the feel of a place, but gives more precise information about demographics/employment/industry than any Wikipedia article.

5.  WalkScore.com lets you know how much your city respects pedestrians and cyclists, which isn't important to everyone but it is to me.  And since it's hooked into Google Maps, you also get a list of cool places, by category, near the address.  For me, if all that pops up under coffee is Starbucks, I've hit a dud.

I hope this helps someone.  When J applied for jobs in Portland, I had more of an idea of what to expect. I'd been there and its reputation preceded it.  This part of California, though, boggled my mind.  And when you're feeling boggled, it's easy to focus on the bad stuff.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Start your trailers!

image from mormon mommy wars
I'm an hour away from driving J out to the airport.  Lots of talking, googling and reassuring has happened since my last explosive post, and I have to admit I reacted harshly.  The place we work isn't necessarily the place we live in California, where all the towns are close together and public transit exists.  So, I am not freaking out anymore*.

He'll fly into California today, interview tomorrow, and come back on Thursday after I get off work.  I took a vacation day today, mostly so I could be completely calm before and after he leaves.  It's been a lovely morning-- we slept in, had breakfast over the Daily Show and went to the farmers market.

Statistics often come from thin air, but I've read several places that moving ranks in the top three for most stressful events in a couple's life.  We're responding to the beginning of this process by getting closer.  I'm sure our friends think we're being jerks to disappear before we've even begun to move, but it's how we're coping. Staying in, reading, remembering why we chose to be together.

But listen to me-- it's just an interview.  I don't need to sell all my winter clothes just yet.

*Still hate palm trees.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not one of those posts!

If anyone has been wondering why I haven't written in a week, it's because J has had two interviews with the same company in the past two weeks and things are moving.  But he doesn't want me to write about that stuff as much, because it felt bad the last time he didn't get a job, and the whole internet knew about it. I understand that.  Unfortunately what he's doing is pretty necessary for this blog to move along, so I've been feeling a little... clogged.  This is go time, the time I really need to write about this so the community I've been trying to build can help me along.

The prospect of moving is exciting, and FUCKING HORRIFYING.  Yes, I would like to move before the Fall semester starts (the busiest/worst/best part of my work year) but now I'm looking around my town saying, "Damn, I like it here", and researching towns where the jobs and thinking, "Damn, I like it here*".  I do like it here.

Powerless, that's what it feels like.  About to go somewhere where I don't know anyone and my only friend will always be gone and really tired when he comes home and it may be a suburb, and maybe I'll end up having kids only because there's nothing else for me there.  I've burst into tears four times today, and I swear I'm trying to find something positive.  I feel even more awful that I'm not jumping up and down.  I am happy about the opportunity, just not so jazzed about where it is.

He's flying to California for an interview next week.  If things go smoothly, we could be out of here by August.

*Here being here, now. Not there.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh here we go! A new word everybody! WINGSPOUSE(tm)

Alrighty, not only have a found a new term to replace our decrepit and roundly-hated trailing spouse, but it also offers a new direction! That is, no direction at all but to support your husband.  WINGSPOUSEe(tm)* is an executive help-meet, but who cares about concise vocabulary, when you don't need to worry about a pesky career anymore!
Can I be a wingspouse™ partner and still have a career?It’s possible to be employed outside of the home and still act like a wingspouse™ in some capacity. A few wingspouses are lucky enough to have a career that directly benefits the executive spouse. However, a true wingspouse™ is a full-time and equal partner to the executive. She enjoys being professionally challenged, but finds a separate career difficult because of executive career expectations, time demands, relocations, or family responsibilities. That’s just the nature of the beast. If this sounds like you, then you probably have the makings of a wingspouse.
Isn't WINGSPOUSE(tm) just another way of saying a woman's place is at her husband's side? Or the kitchen? Maybe I'm looking at this too harshly, but the solution here is not to find your own identity but to find a way to more successfully carve it out of his:
She enjoys the success of the executive’s career and actively participates in that success using her own unique set of skills.
Oy.  Over on the LA Times blog, one writer seems to think this is AWESOME (since when did married women not think being a good wife was important? Feminism doesn't mean marry a man just to torture him).
Wouldn't it be better for her spouse and children if she were to opt for a more traditional role — full-time wife, full-time mom, full-time writer of thank-you notes — a choice that continues to be embraced by many forces in our culture?
My head and my desk are having a party right now.  This is what I was talking about a few days about about not being able to surmount these ideas of traditional roles if I take one.  What also irks me is that it assumes a one-income household is possible for most people.

Good on her for making the website and trying to sell this idea, but WINGSPOUSE(tm) makes me want to WINGSPEW.

*It's all caps or go home. This website is crazy-pants.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Drink of 2011: Golden Pheasant

It's hot! Damn hot! Real hot!  It's summertime in Arkansas and when people say it's like breathing through a wet rag they mean breathing through a hot wet rag.  We've got the AC on, but it's still hot in our old house.  When rubbing ice cubes on your wrists isn't enough, try a golden pheasant.

I don't usually go for complicated drinks, but my boss is a font of knowledge about ancient cocktails and when I heard her tell me about being underage and drinking golden pheasants, I listened.  She said, "Got gin?" And I said, "I have too much gin."  Well, here's a way to remedy that problem.  The recipe I concocted from several websites is this:

3 shots gin
3 shots fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's)
1 beaten egg

Mix all that up in an blender!  Don't get grossed out about the egg. Ok, get grossed out, that's ok. Take a shot of gin and continue.  Mix one shot of that concoction with as much cream soda as you see fit. Put some ice cubes in it.  You really have to taste this to believe it isn't nasty, and unbelievably light for summer.

My search for a new word trailed off

Image from 3DAstronomer.com
Yesterday, Diplopundit linked to my Trailer Trash post, sending a flurry of new folks my way (hello new folks!). It made me realize how hard it is to find a new word for something when the current one is in wide use.  I fall back on "trailing spouse" so often, just because I know people will know what I'm talking about.  And I'll admit I knew that if I stopped using "trailing spouse" altogether, no one new to these discussions would ever find this website.  So am I perpetuating it?

I wish the word "caboose" didn't sound silly when not used in reference to a train.  Because that's what we are, right?  Not the front end, but not dragging either. Attached, carrying half the weight, and pushing when needed.

Trailing makes me think of being a little sister and my older sister getting mad when I followed her around.  Or grades in school getting gradually lower, and falling behind.  Or following someone when they don't know it (like a private detective?).  The only positive thing I can think of is the trail left behind a comet:
Comet dust trails are the collections of large (greater than 0.1 mm) particles that closely follow a comet's orbit like the boxcars of a freight train (although trails are not physically bound together). Dust trails are the youngest meteoroid streams, and when they intersect the orbit of a planet they can create meteor showers. Some asteroids have been dynamically linked to meteor showers. However, dust trails have only been observed around comets. -  Astro.umd.edu
Hrm. Actually, that doesn't sound great either.  Though it does bring my train analogy into play.  Things that trail seem light or superfluous, without great consequence or presence:
An email from a colleague of my husband referred to his Trailing Spouse; you can imagine my reaction. When I told a friend about this, she asked if I were planning to wear Laura Ashley dresses and waft about, chiffon scarves floating in my wake. - La Douce Vie Suisse
I should change the name of my blog, completely.  I just need to leave bread crumbs so other women (like me, when I started this journey) can find there way here, and to other helpful places.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Who cares what people think? The people being crapped on!

My biggest problem I struggle with on this blog is identity.  Now, identity doesn't have to do with anything outside of myself, so my problem is that I personally do tie outside opinion in with how I view myself.  If I didn't, then I'd say "fuck all!" to convention and do my thing.  I just have this niggling desire to change perceptions.

As to the title, it's easy to say, "Just be yourself!" when who you are isn't questioned or judged by society at large.  Fargo Kidder*, from yesterday's guest post, wrote about how wanting to work from home and have a craft business is very tied to women who have children, and include that in their blogging.  It's assumed that a woman with her own business is being supported by a husband, or is doing it while she's taking care of kids.  There is nothing wrong with doing those things, and you don't need to hear it from me.  It's the assumption that galls me.

How is it possible not to stumble under the weight of assumptions?  What would happen if the weight was lifted?

I want to smash that assumption. I want to rend the connotations from the things I want to do that genders them female, that presupposes I can't do things on my own, that says they are less valuable than things a man does, that assumes working from home means you don't have a real job**.  I want to stand as an example of being just as independent, industrious and fucking awesome as men are assumed to be by default.  I want to live my live as a person, not a marked other. 

Problem is, one can't live her live a monolith, especially if no one's looking.  And all this shit I don't like isn't going to change in my lifetime, so I should probably do a little of what I wanna do and not care about what people think.  When I first started reading about feminism, I was so angry (as well a person should be) but it took me a while to  learn to temper my anger with the wrongs of the world with happiness of what's right, and that was a painful time.  You can only fight against bad stuff for so long if you don't take time for some good stuff.  You'll burn out.

I only have one life, and I need two.  One to smash through the glass ceiling, and another to enjoy the fresh air above it.

*I'm still gagging at how bad that pseudonym is. Never let me make them up for you.
**Why is everything we do have to be tied with being mothers?  Even if it has nothing to do with children? 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest Post: Did I mention..?

Fargo Kidder* is a graduate student, crafter, blogger, and dog lover.

Let me start off by saying that I am a very lucky woman. In the past year, I've gotten married, moved to a huge city, my husband has landed a high-paying job, and I, the following spouse, even landed a job that started before my husband's. The job is even one I'm uniquely qualified for - literally, it's my old job, but in a new environment. The thing is, I wasn't happy doing my old job. I was good at it, but unhappy. I thought moving to a new organization while still doing something I enjoyed would alleviate this unfulfilled feeling I'm experiencing. I am starting to think that the organization wasn't the problem.

In theory, I should be psyched that my husband completing his graduate coursework (he's ABD at this point) dovetailed with the start date of his new job and now, my new job. Not psyched, ecstatic! And I'm not. I tend to spread myself too thin, which I've been trying to work on. Sometimes that doesn't always work out...

Did I mention I'm also working on MY master's degree? Luckily my program is flexible and most courses can be taken online. We found out in December we'd be moving this summer, so I secured a summer internship for credit. When I landed my full time job a few months later, I opted to do the internship in addition to working 40 hours a week. I figured it would be easier and more fun to work six days a week than work 5 plus take an online class. I've done that before just fine, but the internship sounds more interesting and practical.

Not the author, but close enough. Pic from Ashleeappendicitus
Did I mention I also have a blog? I won't linky link because I'm guesting anonymously today, but it's about crafts. I've been blogging there for coming up on a year, and it's become one of my favorite things to work on. I didn't realize until making hundreds of crafts for my wedding that crafting is what I really love to do. It's not just an outlet for anxiety for me like it once was. I find myself feeling so strongly about my work that I regularly forgo sleep to work on it, as well as my blog. The longer I'm blogging, the more I'm realizing that I want to dedicate more time to it. But I can't commute to a full time job and make that happen. I feel like I'm missing opportunities with crafting every second at work, and then I'll sneak a second or two to post something or approve comments, and I feel like I'm letting my paid job down.

Did I mention how lucky my husband and I are? My husband somehow landed a job in finance, with all of the perks (money, insurance, etc.) therein. We don't want kids, plus we can already afford for me not to work at all. So why am I so worried about all of this? I simultaneously feel like the small window that has opened for me to develop a business is only going to be open for a short while. If I don't do this now when the conditions are right, then will I ever? My husband is supportive. He knows, probably better than I do, that I can make myself work 40 hours a week from home.

Kids and crafts. A lot of people I know who craft for a living appear to be able to justify it because they're also stay-at-home-moms. Half of their blog posts are about the hat they made their kids, how their kids are napping so they had time to post, how great their kids' contributions are to their work. I don't want kids, and I think it's impressive that these women can run a business plus to do the kids thing at the same time. Now I'm not saying I feel like getting knocked up will justify my craft business, but I think it would be easier for me to say to people, "I am a mom, but I also make a living through my Etsy shop."

The realistic plan I can envision in my head. I finish my master's degree in December. Leading up to that, I can look for part-time employment. With any luck, I'd like to be able to leave my current job in December, work a lower stress part time job, and run my business part time. That way, I can feel my safety net, but still have time to devote to the pursuit I want to eventually do full time.

But what if I'm wrong... 
_________________________________________


*Name changed to protect the innocent-- and unfortunately she let me pick the pseudonym.


For most posts like this, see The Scale of Opportunity and Guest Post: Freeze Dried.  If you'd like a platform to talk about your experience moving with a significant other, please contact me.

FOUR MORE YEARS!

I'm posting this a little late, but J and I had our 4th anniversary last month.  I am an asshole-- things were crazy, money was tight, so I didn't get him anything (that particular month was graduation and birthday also) but a sweet night out.  He, on the other hand, got me a gift that that knocked my socks off.

Each year, we've tried to get each other gifts according to the traditional UK, US or modern US custom.  This year was linen, silk, flower, fruit or appliances.  J got me a rotary cutter (cuts linen! silk! is an appliance!) and a little sprig of artificial flowers from Joann, every single gift choice in one box.  Really, how could I have a better guy?

Photo by J's dad

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summer Book Club: The Wind Done Gone


I got a copy of The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall and am a ways into it.  This is a re-telling of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.  I haven't read this book, so it's hard to make some of the connections.  Randall's main character Cynara, or Cindy, or Cinnamon was born a slave to the character of Mammy (same in the book and the film).  The books appears to take place after the war, after the death of Scarlett and Rhett's daughter, and after Reconstruction.  The characters most of us know by name are given pseudonyms, and it takes a little while to get it all straight. Mammy is Mammy, Rhett is R., Scarlett is Other.  I still have not made connections between some characters in the book and the ones I know from the film, and I'm not sure if that's because I haven't read Mitchell's novel.

[I now see I could easily figure it out from the wikipedia entry, but now I feel lazy.]

The main character does not have a parallel in Mitchell's novel.  There is no point you can attach her to to fill out her character.  She is one of the many unnamed children that may have gone hungry when their mothers were separated from them, to wet-nurse for whites' children.  Through her eyes we see the other side of Tara that the film's romanticized and racist version doesn't show.

This isn't just a retelling, but goes on with the story after reconstruction.  You see Cynara, once a slave of Tara, in her own house in an Atlanta neighborhood, visited often by her lover, R.  The book so far deals with the relationship between Cynara and her mother, Mammy.  How does Other (Scarlett) fit into this?  She and Cynara have the same father, and are thus half-sisters.  Mammy is Other's caretaker, and her relationship with Other is what hurts Cynara the most.  The rivalry between Cynara and Scarlett has little to do with the fact they share a lover-- it's mother's love that is held so dear.

I'm looking forward to finishing this book, which is a pretty fast read.  It's very lyrical and wandering, to the point that I didn't care that I had no idea who the characters were yet, because it was just so beautiful to read.

Want to join the Summer Book Club?  Scoot on over to Freeze Dried and check it out.

Blogs talkin' about The Wind Done Gone:
Racialicious  *  Race Matters *  Dar Kush  * Everything and Nothing

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trailing Spouses, Military Wives and Righteous Indignation

Ask a Manager answered a question from a military spouse today that was VERY pertinent to my interests:

I will be giving my (two week) notice at my job this Friday.  I’m not leaving to take another job.  I’m leaving because the Army is moving us ….. again.  Unfortunately, in order to get the job, I had to fib and tell the bosses that we’d be staying in the area (and would eventually retire here) and I think that’s one of the reasons why they hired me — I said I was sticking around.  Many employers will not hire military spouses if they think they are leaving soon, and the reality is that I usually have to “fib” about how long we’re staying in order to get any job.
Oy! Sound familiar?  This was my go-to excuse for not trying to get out of my current work situation, not wanting to start a job when I knew we might move.  You know who "might" move? Anyone!  I wasted years not letting myself move on, and that totally sucks.  I wish I knew if this lady had a blog, because I'd read the hell out of it.

The commenters on the post chastise her for her "fibbing" and tell her she's an out-right liar.  This got my hackles up immediately.  She can tell the truth and hope she's not dropped for the possibility she may move, she can omit what her spouse does for a living, or she can just stop living her life completely until she drops dead and finally "commits" to a burial plot.

When I asked my HR department whether or not I should tell my boss about J's graduation, we got into a talk about the possibility of relocation if he gets a good job.  I said that was definitely a possibility, but since I have no control over his job prospects, it's hardly fair to judge me for it.  One of the HR crazies even suggested that I let them know about his progress as soon as he gets an interview!  It's like I'd grown a third arm or something, and that third arm was looking for a new job.  Candace at Army Wives Lives answered a similar question to the one above, much more articulately:
Most states do not specifically grant military spouses protection from employment discrimination.  However, you may not discriminate against someone based on marital status.  An employer making inquiries about your marriage for any purpose is simply inappropriate.  They also cannot ask if you are planning to get pregnant and take maternity leave in the near future.
Yes, I do sort of have control over where he gets a job (once he gets an offer) and we are a unit.  I'm stuck to/with him for life, and I'm glad of that, but we are two different people.  I do not want to be thought of in terms of him when looking for a job.  It's enough to pull up roots and move somewhere for someone else, so I found it completely insulting that the commenters at Ask a Manager wouldn't even give her the concession of not offering up conjecture in an interview.

I see it as a bias similar to avoiding women because maybe someday they'll get pregnant and have to take time off.  Planning for the future is a part of being a manager, but there are some assumptions that shouldn't be made, for the dignity of your employee.

So, now I need to go find army spouse blogs, because that is a corner of the internet I never even thought to look in!  If anyone knows a good one, please let me know in the comments.  I'm in a lather right now and will probably have to come back to this later to make it more succinct.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Best of Party Decorations - Part 4 - Maprilween 2011

Here are a few pictures from the party we had on Saturday.  We usually do Aprilween, but because April was so busy, we pushed it back to May. Thus, Maprilween.

Hand-made banners

It looks dreary in the morning-after light, but the photo corner has become the cornerstone of our parties.

Exhibit A. Photo by Chris Clanton

Exhibit B. Photo by Chris Clanton
 Some people really went all the way with their costumes this year.  If there had been a prize for most unwieldy, least-likely-to-get-in-the-door costume, it was this homage to the Wizard of Oz.  What you can't see are the black and white striped stocking, red sparkly shoes and beer-holder.

Photo by Chris Clanton


Lastly, make sure that you delegate tasks according to one's skills.  If someone is good at mowing the lawn and washing the dishes before the party, let them.  Don't force a square peg into a round hole by trying to make them purchase party snacks. All you'll have to show for it will be 8 mini Reese's cups and a miniature bag of Jelly Bellys.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Softie Bananas

Yesterday I went to make a smoothie...

but there was something different about one of the bananas.

It had gone soft!

Voila!  After months saying how I was going to fabricate a banana, I've done it.

This is just a prototype.

These are tracings of an actual banana.  Feel free to print it out and make your own banana.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer Book Club!

Freeze Dried has started a summer book challenge for June over at her blog.  Here's what she's got to say about it:


  • Come up with a list of books that you want to read by June 30, 2011. The list could be as short or as long as you'd like. Those books gathering dust on that shelf there? You want to put those on your list. The ones you're already reading? Perfect, throw them on there too. And feel free to pull from my booklist on the sidebar.

  • The goal is to write one post a week about the book / books that you have read during the week. If you haven't finished a book before your post it due, that's cool beans!, post anyway - talk about your thoughts on the book so far.

  • Ping me so I put you on the blog list again.

  • I think it's a great idea now that J and I have time to read (well, I've always had it, but reading together is awesome).  Once I figure out how to put the little list up on my sidebar, I'll get cracking.  We're halfway through the second book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, A Clash of Kings, and I'm about to start Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone, a reinterpretation of Gone With the Wind.

    Scarlett O'Hara and Mammy.  Image from Popular
     I haven't read Gone with the Wind, but growing up in the South and having seen the movie a few times, I think I can skip it.  If it's between reading "American Classics" and trying something by a marginalized writer, I'll go with the latter.  Gone with the Wind is pretty solidly in the American consciousness, so it's like I was born with it in my harddrive.

    More to come!  I need to do a little write-up on Vox, the classic phone-sex novel by Nicholson Baker.  It's more awesome than it sounds.





    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Tutorial: The Fourth Doctor's Scarf

    Aprilween is fast approaching (or, long belated as it were) and J and I are just now finishing our costumes. After wasting an afternoon with the failed ideas of giant starfish and geometric hats (I really wish I'd taken pictures of these horrible things) I went to my dress closet and decided to match a party dress with a mask and call it quits.   J had been pondering an incarnation of The Doctor (from Doctor Who), but another friend beat him to Number Eleven (Matt Smith).  He's always been fond of the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker.

    The 4th Doctor, from Wikipedia
    Baker played the doctor for seven years, long enough that most people consider him THE Doctor.  We're low on time and resources, so we decided to focus on the unusually long scarf that was the Fourth Doctor's trademark.  Others on the interwebs have made recreations of his scarf (most specifically, doctorwhoscarf.com), but we went the easy-peasy route.  I'll show you how we did it!


     J, you're not THAT kind of doctor!
    CLICK THROUGH FOR TUTORIAL!

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Best of Party Decorations - Part 3 - My 2010 Bday!

    Photo by Chris Clanton

    My signature construction-paper dangles, aqua ribbon bordering the room


    Snack table: any opportunity for a punch bowl
    Pink and aqua! I was really feeling this color combo.

    Photo corner, where Chris Clanton took AWESOME pictures of everyone.

    photo by Chris Clanton
    Photo by Chris Clanton
     Ever have a great party, but forget to take pictures? I've found if you create a space to get your picture taken (and you have an awesome photographer friend) people will be drawn into that space.  Everyone likes a good picture of themselves.


    Friday, May 20, 2011

    At least it's Friday


    Well, I had to turn down the job I had a great chance at because of a measly $3,000, and I found out today I didn't make the cut for the big job.  It's been a week.  I guess the pressure is off now, and I don't have to debate with myself about whether to take a job if I could be moving.  That's solved!  The sadness may not make sense-- because I am not as anonymous as I used to be, I don't talk about my job.  I enjoy what I do, but I have a bad relationship with my supervisor, and all the time I have worked here has not made any difference in that, and not for lack of trying.  What do you do when you do your job well but your boss still doesn't like you?  Well, cry in the bathroom of course!

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    How many applications?

    J has finished eight applications in the past two days. He is a powerhouse.  I'm much better prepared for the future job hunt after my big job application, but helping him proofread and nit-pick on words is good practice.  I like to be a part of things, and this is more fun than scanning a dozen Google alerts for applicable job listings every day. (Anyway, I'd usually ignore the qualifications if it was in a cool city.)

    We finished Game of Thrones last night, and it was so awesome at the end I cried.  Not because it was sad, but because it was the end of the book, but because the ending and what happened to one of my favorite characters was so amazing, terrifying and cool I couldn't hold it in.  And that is why I love reading.

    For those of you not into reading 4,000 pages of this series, you can watch it on the TV, or on the secret internet.  The title sequence alone gives me shivers.  From a maker's perspective, this thing is intricate as fuck and so beautiful (even if it is just CGI).  It looks real enough for me.  If you are geeky enough to read an interview about the making of a title sequence, here ya go.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Best of Party Decorations - Part 2 - Aprilween 2010

    What is Aprilween? Halloween in April, of course.  J and the Painter (his old roommate/our old roommate) celebrated Aprilween in college, and together we have way more awesome memories from this holiday than its parent holiday.  For one, a lot of costumes are ruined by an October Halloween.  Coats don't go with most costumes.  Sure, you see plenty of young women dressed as sexy dental assistants not wearing coats, but they have obviously made their choices.  Hrmph.

    Secondly, there's no Halloween pressure to come up with something grand. You just do it for the fun of it.  Like, when you get a present that isn't a Christmas present, it is so much better.  Because there's no hubbub around it, and it's less likely robbers are going to kill you in your sleep for your gifts in July.

    Thirdly, there must always be a thirdly, costume parties are my favorite thing in the world.  I hear that is even pretty normal for me.  I've found that while it's hard to get everyone to participate at a dance party, almost everyone will come well-equipped for a costume party.  And it's soooo much easier to sidle up to a lovely single lady/gent and talk about costumes than pretty much anything else.  I used to have parties with large tubs of neon PGA punch, and now I have parties where people are dressed like puns and 80s movie references.  I'm betting an equal amount of people are getting laid afterward.

    front of the house, pre-party.  The Painter likes earthy colors, but this is the closest you can get a a party store.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Best of Party Decorations- Part 1 - Branson of the Future!


    Ok, first things first-- what is Branson?  Since we're in Arkansas, we refer to Branson, Missouri.  It's hillbilly Las Vegas, or what Las Vegas would be like if  you took away the drinking, prostitutes, fun, gambling and sand and replaced all that with elderly white people and Starbuckses.  It's where pop and country stars go to die (Nelly was there recently!).  It's the place people tell you they are going for a vacation, and you smirk inside and think about how sad that is that they are excited about Branson and then realize what a smug asshole you are and have to go listen to some Smiths.  But really, how hilariously terrible is a butterfly exhibit called "White Flight" in an area not exactly known for racial transcendence?

    Gaga, Kanye and Justin Bieber masks, for those without costumes
    The idea for the party was to dress up like a celebrity or performer that you'd imagine would take a career dive and end up in Branson.  I dressed up as Gwen Stefani (I have major issues with her "Harajuku" schtick) but there were a few Biebers, Ke$ha, fictional characters who just wanted to be there, Adam Lambert and some Branson tourists.  Birthday friend likes a party with some real thought in it, so we put together a red, white and blue themed party with a photo corner where you could design a tack Blingee-inspired picture or get a photo with a life-sized Dolly Parton or Elvis impersonator.  The IRL Blingees* were my drunken inspiration, but said friend is an absolute Blingee genius, seen here at Use Your Allusion.  She has a master's in kick-ass.
    Job Bluth, of Arrested Development, showed up, also.
    Don't go to Dollar Tree for flag bunting. We bought all that shit.
    My "Hollaback Girl"-era Gwen Stefani.  And for the record, I put a giant pair of sunglasses in EVERY blingee I've ever made.
                                      
                                           Stars, flags and patriotic poofs.  Elvis can barely be seen on the bottom.
    The party was a tremendous success.  There was trepidation from people that coming up with an appropriate costume-- a pop star was one thing, but an aged pop star? With a dash of retro-futurism?  In the end, everyone just showed up looking as much like their character as possible, and with an explanation of just why they thought said character would end their career in the Show-Me State.  This was one of the only parties where I took the decorations down the very next day, they were that blindingly patriotic. 

    *IRL = in real life.  Check out Blingee.com to see what that actually is