Friday, February 25, 2011

Designer Imposters

Remember Designer Imposters perfume? I was a big fan of whatever they called their version of Love's Baby Soft, probably called Infant Bliss.  I'm still not sure why women thought smelling like small children who couldn't yet wipe themselves was sexy. 

I'm feeling a little guilty about my latest sewing breakthrough: I re-created Kara-line's Louisa, after months of stalling.  I've still got to attach the sleeves, but that shouldn't be bad.  I took apart the muslin I'd been working on in my sewing classes (I stopped going on October) and spent 6 hours today cutting it out and putting it together (yay for vacation days!)  Here's the pics:

J left for the day and I covered the house in sewing crap.
Don't let anyone lie to you-- sewing requires space or you'll go crazy.

Dress almost done


I still feel bad about re-making someone else's dress, but it was a really good way to get into sewing. Plus, I want to wear this dress 5 days a week, and there's no way I could afford that many Portland-made dresses.  It's ok if you're not selling it, right?  If you like the Louisa dress, go check out the Kara-line website.  The dresses ain't cheap, but you fill out a little survey of what you like about your body and your favorite colors and stuff, and they'll send you a BOX OF DRESSES to choose from.  You have three days to prance around in front of mirrors and pick the one that suits you best.  I praise the designer.

Tomorrow I'll finish up the sleeves, and then to Joann for more fabric. I will make another one.  By the time it's warm enough to wear little dresses, I'll be so fuckin' cute you can't look straight at me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

28 Days of Blogging: Blurgh Edition

Yeah, so I didn't post yesterday-- what of it? I've double-posted enough. J sent me a draft version of his resume today.  I can't imagine taking everything from a curriculum vitae and whittling it down to resume proportions.  It looks really good, and I'll admit I got a little thrilled by something so normal, yet so strange.

I started an ASL (American Sign Language) class this week, to see if this is something I could possibly do for a living. Unfortunately, the class is very casual, and a few of the students don't seem to be there to learn (i.e. super annoying).  The teacher is nice and patient, but hopefully she'll tell this one guy to:

Did y'all just get rick-rolled? That was unintentional.  This was the best rick-roll ever. And seriously, I really was just looking up how to say STFU in ASL.  Never found a video, but here it is in fingerspelling:
Just so's you know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The scale of opportunity

More blog-searching today (and somehow this is a productive day at work) and I found a "trailing spouse" blog, albeit an expat* one.  She doesn't like the term trailing spouse either**, but her blog is endlessly positive:
As a trailing spouse, identity can be a tough thing (because if you're like me, that last thing you want to be called is a "trailing spouse"). But if the career you had before isn't going to work out abroad (or you lose yours via a layoff like me), maybe there's something else you'd love to do and try. Maybe, in fact, this is your big opportunity for that something you used to put on hold. 
Chantal at One Big Yodel 

I don't want my opportunity, a positive thing, tinged with the fact that I only have it because it's the consolation prize for having no control***.  Here's my internalized misogyny (it's just popping up way too much this week) again, in that I can't see my worth if I didn't come to it myself, as if taking that opportunity is just backsliding into a dependent female role. I don't, however, feel this way when it comes to education.  If J was working and I was going back to school or taking classes in whatever field I settle on, that feels ok. But if it's to start an Etsy or make Halloween costumes (traditionally female pursuits) it's not.  See what I did there?  Thanks world.  You've made me a woman-hater.

How do I cleanse my mind of these tendencies?  I feel fucked all-around.  And I haven't even touched upon the stink of privilege in all this.

*I'm more interested in domestic relocation.
**Yeah, I changed my title again, because no one's going to find this blog otherwise.
***I'm speaking for myself, not Chantal.  She has her shit together.

I don't think that means what you think it means

Meaning, traveling spouse.  Oh yes, we threw confetti and buried the bedraggled corpse of the trailing spouse, parades were had, but traveling spouse has something to say: she's not who we think she she is.

I don't know why I didn't make the connection between traveling with your spouse and a spouse who has a job that requires lots of travel. Do I need to change the name of my blog again? Or can we beat the other team!  Now that I'm looking at it, Secret Confessions of a Traveling Spouse sounds like an erotic journal of adultery on the road.  I'm sure that would get me better pageviews, but not exactly what I was going for when I created this blog.

Every once in a while, I do some googling to see if anyone can find me yet.  (The answer is no.)  I went through 20 pages of google results and found nothing leading directly to this site.  Fortunately, out there in the far un-optimized reaches, I did find a few blogs and some good resources and articles.  Feast your eyes!:

"My life as a trailing spouse" - Good narrative from women's perspective
CNN article about couples emphasizing husband's career
Male Trailing Spouse of Philharmonic performer -- sounds just terrible
Experience Project - I am a trailing spouse (lots of stories)
Trailing Geek (trailing husband) (blog roll has lots of similarity to mine) (trailing husband)

There were more, but mostly expat stuff or boring rehashed stuff about the negatives.  I'm still searching for someone like me.  So far A Mathematician's Wife is the closest, though she's not nearly as neurotic as me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Mom: The Original Traveling Spouse

Inside my mother's jewelry box
This is hard to write about: my mom was a traveling spouse once, but I rarely think of her as a reference and I've only talked to her about these issues a few times.  She did a great job raising us and is a fantastic woman, but something in me doesn't want to admit we're in the same situation or want the same things.  I'm sure she didn't appreciate being moved from her friends and family into a shitty small town where she knew no one, but I feel like I've got that pressure plus the pressure to do something with myself despite the tenuousness of my geography.  But damnit, didn't she feel that same pressure?

Why do I have the right to say she's trailing instead of traveling? She probably wouldn't have much of a problem with that term, except for the Human Resource-y nonsense of it, since she knew what she was signing up for getting married in a conservative area in the 70's.  My mom's public and private stance on women's rights is different, but she has unequivocally stated throughout my life that a man is the head of a house, and women should not lead in church congregations.  When I had to interview her for a class project in 7th grade, she said she did not believe in feminism*.

It's hard to reconcile these things when you've known a person to be independent, strong, argumentative and (mostly) pro-choice.  She's worked on and off at different clerical jobs and held volunteer positions on many non-profit boards, but without a good retirement fun from my father, she would be without funds or resume.  I'm not saying she hasn't worked-- she raised two children, very well and keeps a beautiful, comfortable and organized house.  Since my father's quintuple by-pass in 2000, she's been a nurse, dietitian, physical therapist and chef.  She made herself into a fixture of the volunteer community in her town, and it's hard to find someone who doesn't know her (or who hasn't heard of her).

Part of me says, "But she could do all those things anywhere," and another says, "So could you". Yet another part (I'm in lots of pieces today) reminds me that it's hard to leave your community no matter what your job was (at home or out of it).

Readers out there know there's a bit of rebellion in this, or my need to not follow in my mother's footsteps.  Her babying of my father, outright refusal of feminism and the right of women to lead religious services was always baffling to me, she who told me I could be anything I wanted to be.  Except for what caveats?  There's a huge chip on my shoulder, but it's a shared chip with all the other women in my generation.  Do what we want to do, or worry that what we want to do is just a result of society's influence on us? I want to be a mother someday (maybe....) but I don't want to be labeled as a mother.  I want to do it without the resulting diminishment in society's eyes**.

But other than the low worth given to women/mothers by our society, am I attributing negative attributes to motherhood because of my own fraught relationship with my mother?

Stay tuned, kids. This is the first time I've delved into these waters, so I think I should do it a little at a time.

*I did not have the vocabulary to argue this at the time, and it would be years before I would call myself a feminist.
**Oh yeah, internalized misogyny checking in.  But you know what I'm saying. This culture does not respect women, and it certainly doesn't respect mothers.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Make a damn shirt or something

It was a weird doldrummy day (too much damn wind and no sun) so I spent too much time on the internet. By 9:30pm, I was jittery from too much sitting and told myself I needed to make something and NOW.  So I decided to get out the pieces of my Louisa dress (bought in ye olde Portland and being re-created so I can wear it 7 days a week) and see how far I had to go.  With all this crazy warm weather reminding me about Spring, I need to finish this pattern so I can make myself dresses.  When I got it out, I had an almost-finished dress missing ONE SLEEVE.  That's just the muslin and I'll have to cut it out and sew it together again with my fabric, but HOLY SHIT SO CLOSE.  Knowing I didn't have the focus to start taking it apart tonight, I decided to just go grab a piece of fabric and sew some lines on it.

I made a shirt, or what is supposed to be a shirt.

And it fits kinda like a shirt, and kind of looks like one.  That is the shot of confidence I needed.  Tomorrow (after the soccer game, aaagggh) I'm going to re-start the dress project.  Be on the lookout for a finished product in the next few weeks!  And make fun of me and call me a quitter if you don't.

Homemade Cheez-its steal the show

Casey at Good Food Stories put together a FANTASTIC recipe for homemade Cheez-it crackers.  Not one to be left out of the action, I had to make them for the Food Feud last night.  They were a little bit of a scene-stealer:
Close-up on crunchety-flakety-cheesety wonderfulness

The recipe made about 5 little ramekins full of crackers to hand out.
We had to hide some for later.

Only because I grew up in Junk Food America, I would suggest a little more salt for this recipe, or just sprinkling some salt on top before baking.  They were delicious on their own, but to get closer to the original, definitely saltier.  On a positive note, these didn't feel like I was eating something totally horrible, but on a negative note (in terms of likeness) these didn't feel like I was eating something totally horrible for me.  Also, you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons more ice water to get the dough to start forming.  This may just depend how exact you are in measuring your other ingredients.

J's Glazed Carrot Soup and neighbor's Sweet Potato Bisque with yogurt sauce were beautiful and tasty. And pretty good mixed together.  The game was a tie.

Guest and dog chillin'

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Food Feud! Homemade Cheez-its! Vintage socks!

Tonight is the 3rd "food feud" between J and our neighbor, and tonight's challenge is soup.  J is making a a glazed carrot soup from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (approximate recipe here) and I'm cheerleading with some crackers: Garlic Parmesan Flax and Homemade Cheez-its.  The flax crackers look about what you'd expect:

They taste healthy. I want that to be a good thing.

The Cheez-it imitators are not done yet, but I am supposed to post every day and I know I won't have a chance once all the guests get here.  The night's movie is Wizard People, Dear Reader, an alternate audiotrack of Harry Potter, set over the movie.  It is pretty awesome and we've seen it 20 times.  Brad Neely, the creator, is from Arkansas, and we never miss a chance to point that out.  Here's the greatest cartoon every made:

Other good things from this week:

J makin' soup

Goat cheese truffles (made for a friend's bday)

Unplanned matching socks for a soccer game. They are both pairs we've had since we were in high school.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Livid and inarticulate: Planned Parenthood Funding Axed in Budget Cuts

The House voted today to stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood.  The vote passed 240-185.  That means 10 Democrats voted for this?  Planned Parenthood (bless them, fund them, donate to them) gets one third of their funding from the government. And I never thought that I'd link to Fox News, but there's an article about how a proposal from Betty McCollum (D-MN) about cutting Nascar funding (WTF) was voted down, while cutting family planning funds down.  Drag racing up, women's lives down!  I'm trying to track down how representatives in Arkansas voted, but I know it's not good.  What can you do? Sign a stupid internet petition, write a real letter, call, show up in person with a sign? Right now, bills are being crafted that will make it ok for a person to kill a doctor for performing an abortion if that person is doing it to save the fetus's life [Update: it's gone now, but why did it exist in the first place???].  It is all I can do to not send emails to all representatives in AR that just say "YOU FUCKING SUCK".  I know it's not the end, but really? Birth control for horses, but not for human women.

Never let anyone say that there is no need for feminism anymore. Make them explain why.  Make them explain this. And this. And this.

Traveling Spouse blog lacking spousey or travely business

If the blog has been scattered, please forgive.  Right now, nothing bad and nothing great is going on.  J was given some great advice about industry jobs that made him really happy, and he's hard at work on his dissertation. PhD Comics are less depressing and more funny now.  SCOATS abides.

I don't know where my privacy line is right now.  I love writing here and it makes me feel better, but I also don't want to turn into an emotional-vomit blog, or say things to embarrass myself/J.  Telling him about the blog made me feel WAY better, because I was getting proud of it and wanted to share my happiness with him.  But now I've lost a little bit of that bitching edge and have become too un-anonymous to talk about more details without incriminating J.  No more talk about bosses or advisors, and sadly that could be really interesting.  Actually, it IS really interesting, but I'm playing it safe.

I will end this meaningless sorry I haven't been writing post.  Here's a shout-out to my favorite How to be an Adult blog, Adult Concerns.

It's just a shoe.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm now a hacker. All your crumpetroom are belong to ME.

I accidentally hacked into a stranger's gmail account yesterday.  Repeatedly.  But I had no idea I was doing it.

Years ago, I had an address that was just for event planning, and was set to re-direct to my commonly-used address.  I thought I would use that address for my new twitter account, but twitter said it was already used.  We'll say the address was (if this is a real address, please forgive me).  "Hrm... why am I using on twitter? I'm not even on twitter," I thought, and decided maybe I should check in and see what was happening.  Password denied! I don't know what harebrained password I was using two years ago, but nothing was working, so I tried my security question:
Does poop smell bad?
...yes?  Me and J and our old roommate were kidders, and there was no dearth of poot jokes in our home, but "Does poop smell bad?"  That's just not even smart.  I typed YES, which wasn't right, then tried NO.  Success!  I guess I was banking on someone unable to ever type a lie of that magnitude.  Or maybe I was just really confident at that time?  Who uses a yes or no answer for a security question? When you get two guesses?  This guy?

So I am in my old account, and there are no emails. No labels that I've made. People in the gchat list THAT I DON'T KNOW.  I went to the account settings and saw that it was re-directing to another email, so I emailed that person and told them I had filed a complaint with Gmail and he/she would be summarily booted.  Ha!

Soon after I receive an email:
I signed up for this gmail account years ago.  i'm not sure how you obtained access to it, but if you notice, the user name is K** ****, which is my other gmail account.
Oh, really huh? You think you can just squat in and make it yours? I've had that account for years... I... my.... my account was, wasn't it?

Yeah, I tried that, and got in immediately.  What I had done was hack into an innocent woman's email account and send her a menacing message, all because I couldn't remember that I'd put "the" at the beginning of the username.  Damage control!

I am so sorry.  I just figured this out. I was just a few letters off on the user name, which I haven't used in years.  Please forgive me.  But you really should beef up your security question to something that isn't yes or no.  I am not a hacker, but I was able to get in really easily.

 She was really nice about it, and responded with lots of Eastern emoticons (O.o) and said she figured I wasn't a hack from all my "nice little tweets".  I would have looked myself up, too, if some crazy person had commandeered my account.  Really, she was very, very kind about it, when she did not have to be.  Thank you, true owner of  Oh, internet.

So, make sure your security password is not "Does poop smell bad?" and also keep up with what accounts you actually own.  And if you want to have more than one twitter account on one email, just put a period in there somewhere (cru.mpetroom = crumpetroom).  Twitter ain't that smart.

When I do something stupid, from now on it will be referred to as "going to the crumpet room".

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Glee: Yer Doin It Rong

I'm a little late saying anything about last week's Valentine's Day episode of Glee. Not that anyone was on tenterhooks waiting on my grand decree...

Ashley Fink (Lauren Zizes) in the middle, with Chris Colfer and Amber Riley. Image from Wetpaint
I was a huge Glee fan during the first season, because they pushed some boundaries and introduced more diverse characters*.  Not as good as Huge, but still pretty dern good.  Sure, they did some questionable stuff, but how could you stay mad at a show with gay teenagers, ambiguous sexuality, plus size ladies, several differently-abled characters, teen pregnancy realism (sort of) and unbridled female determination?  Yeah, the second season turned around and slushied all of that (fat phobia, genderqueer hate, misogyny, slut-shaming).  Ok, perhaps that existed the whole time, but it felt like an envelope was being pushed right? Maybe just a small envelope?

Sometimes I find it mind-boggling how some jokes get through without someone calling foul, but entire plotlines? This episode found Puck, the bad-boy character, suddenly falling in love with the newest Glee-member, Lauren Zizes (played by Ashely Fink, from Huge!!). She's been a pretty fantastic recurring character though the show's run, but unfortunately the show's creators aren't content with her being an awesome, mouthy wrestler-lady, they have to always film her eating (close-up on her mouth) and milk the fat jokes for all they're worth.  They brought her on as a main cast member, but so far have made everything about her weight.

The show starts with Puck staring at Lauren while a voiceover says, "You can't choose who you fall in love with."  Really? That's how you're going to start this?  Would they have used that line if he was staring at Quinn?  First "ugh".

Lauren gets a main part in this episode, where Puck decides he wants her after she tells him she doesn't want him.  I immediately thought, is this supposed to be an interesting plot because he wouldn't normally go out with a fat girl?**  I felt really bad making that connection., but not so fast, brain-- he goes on to tell her several times he likes her because of her curves and body, even once saying he likes her despite her curves.  And then he serenades her in the choir room in front of the whole Glee Club-- with "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen.  I really liked this song until this episode.  The whole club was clapping along and having a great time, while Lauren sat silently.

The song ends and she tells him, "That was the first time anyone ever sang me a love song. And it made me feel like crap".  Ok, maybe someone will learn a lesson: like someone for who they are, not for their body type.  Don't reduce a person to a body part.  Don't tell someone they're attractive despite something you don't like.  Don't make your attraction sound like a kink (unless you're just going for some kinky fun times, of course).  They end up on a date by the end, but you never hear Puck say that he understands that she wants to be loved for who she is, not because he's suddenly curious about big beautiful ladies.

Fink peeking at other Huge cast members. Really, if you haven't watched this excellent, short-lived show, do so now.
Leslie at Two Whole Cakes (lovely blog) saw the song as awesome and empowering, and I'm glad that some good can come out of this episode that was played so cheaply for fat-laughs.  But I saw it as sexual tourism, not to another country, but another body type.  He's wowed by her body and the way she rejects him, and that just doesn't stack up very romantically in my mind.  He plys her constantly with food.  He assumes she doesn't want to go out with him because "guys like [him]" have hurt her before.  Ugh ugh ugh.  I wish some lesson had been learned, and that we don't have to wonder if Lauren is always wondering if he loves her as a person or a body.  But Glee isn't great on lessons, really. My favorite quote EVER about Glee's shortcomings is from Satah at This Ain't Living
SUGGESTED AD CAMPAIGN FOR GLEE: remember that one time you liked what we did? We take it back!

I've obviously been thinking about this awful episode too much, and should not be expending my valuable (limited?) thought resources on a teen musical dram-edy.  I want more diversity on TV where the character's non-white/hetero/thin/cis identity is NOT all the writers can think of.

And this is what he could have sung and it wouldn't have been as bad, but still pushing it:

*If I use any terms that are not ok, PLEASE TELL ME.  I'm not always sure, and I try to look everything up and get the terms right.  I'm not asking for a 101, just a helpful nudge.
**Don't think I'm fat-hating by saying that. In the context of the episode, with the writer's obsession about her weight/eating food, it's obvious that's the direction they're taking. And in 2011, it's just sad that this is still how TV works.

New planet? Scientists debate whether or not to "friend" Tyche

[This post was supposed to be posted yesterday, but blogger was futzing. So I'm still in the 28 days of blogging race!]

I know this isn't a science blog, but I read about the possibility of a new planet beyond Neptune and the anthropomorphizing in the article made me chuckle. Words like "hiding" and "hidden" made it sound like a sneaky little planet, so I drew a masterful picture in MS Paint:

Tyche creeping on Neptune and Pluto

The article described it as "hiding in the Oort cloud", reading, but not commenting on Neptune's blog, and checking out Pluto's Facebook profile every few months to see if her Planet status has changed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Progress! Hope! Will the Traveling Spouse travel soon?

J had a meeting with a prof that knows a thing or two about professional development (this kind of person does not exist in his own department!). The prof laid some truth down on him: that it's perfectly sane to look at industry/government jobs; get your dissertation done, like yesterday; send out 100 applications, no joke. It's kind of daunting, all this work outside of finishing his dissertation AND defending/teaching/advisor-wrangling, but I haven't seen him look so optimistic in a long time. I will be seeing less and less of him for these next few months, but I am so happy for him (and us).

And then there's the iceberg that I've been turning my head away from: how long will it take to find a job? The economy is getting better, but I'm not going to kid myself. I could be working my current job for another year while he tries to find something. I am so tired of people asking me when we're moving, or having to turn down an opportunity because "we're leaving soon". I need to stop living life like I'm about to move, but that gets harder as time goes by. I try not to think about the things I've passed on because of "leaving".

Maybe I should go crazy and start looking for another job? No, that's madness. I'd rather tough it out here (I'm obviously good at that- toughing it out) than mess with another company by getting trained and then leaving. The least I can do is not put anyone out.

Or is that kind of attitude why I feel so resentful?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Secret Confessions now on Twitter

Hands Occupied suggested I get a twitter account, so here I am.  I'm really terrible at design, so please don't vomit when you see my profile page.  I am not quite sure what to post there other than when I have a new post up, or articles concerning the traveling spouse, but I promise you won't be inundated with a live-feed of my feelings.  Also: Wife in a Suitcase? That does not help my negative feelings about all this. At least she isn't in several suitcases.

Thorn in my side

When I decided to start this blog, I first did a lot of googling to see if any existed.  Yay! But no. Most of them either have not been updated in years or are about the trailing/travling spouse subject only in title.  I just spent an hour combing through Observations of a Trailing Spouse to find only a handful  of posts that had anything to do with trailing.  Hrmph. How do I make my blog come closer to the top?

Maybe I'll post an all-memes-in-one image:
Come to me, my pretties!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Academia to Industry

J's been thinking about the possibility of moving his attention to industry or government jobs instead of academia.  There's lots of good reasons for this, and most of them mean that things will be better for me (except for the possible cheap tuition), but I got incredibly freaked out.  He says there's no way he wouldn't finish his PhD (too damn close) but the seemingly sudden change from life in academia to "What would it be like to work at Mac?" at first seemed like an odd lapse of attention.

We had a friend who got married. Less than a year later that friend decided he was gay.  That freaked me out too, because nobody had any idea! These things coming out of nowhere, when you think you really know somebody, things that change the game plan, this is the feeling I got. The, I-can't-control-anything feeling.  So, even though Industry gives us better options, I couldn't shake the feeling there had been a bait-and-switch.  Why had I been waiting around all during grad school?

There wasn't really a fight, just me wailing and throwing out some tired whining about tying myself to someone and following for the rest of my life (yeah, find an answer in there that you can live with).  If Industry is such an option, why was this the first time we'd talked about it?

It also made me realize that a lot of things I get angry about, information I was never given, wasn't necessarily information he had at the time.  When we got married, he never thought it would take him over six years to get a PhD.  All the sweet things he told me, he really believed.  It was my fault for believing it and not doing my research.  I also realized that I am SO LUCKY that I didn't have the drive to go to grad school.  I'm not that guy.

Ugh, cans of worms over here.  Lots of love and devotion, but a whole lotta worms.

Happy Valentine's Eve!

[UPDATE: I just wanted to make sure that the anecdote about the friend coming out was not to say that coming out is horrible, but the situation was an unnerving surprise.  Everyone wants the one they love to be truly happy, but my heart breaks for her every time I think about it.  It's hard not to think about how I would feel in that situation.]

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Too emo to live!

I erased that last post, because that's not what this blog is. This is a blog about being awesome and figuring stuff out. Plus, 30 minutes later J and I were snuggling and eating ice cream, and talking about awesome things we will do in the future.  I got no time for whinin' and shit.

Here's a picture of a dog in the snow, since that's all that's in my Facebook feed and I guess it's what people like.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I wish it were my job to build giant vegetables

Remember that giant artichoke?  Well, there's asparagus too.  I worked on these two objects for about a month I guess, but I haven't been able to post their progress because I'm blog friends (and real friends) with the recipient: Heidi at Hands Occupied.  She knew I was making them, but I wanted the whole package to come as a surprise.  It was almost an even bigger surprise: it was delivered to the wrong house, but eventually made its way to its new home.

My lovely photographer friend took lots of pictures so I could someday begin a portfolio.  TONS of pictures after the jump.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Get out of the house and do something

Yeah, it's like this.

Too many blank, white days have passed with nothing accomplished, so today I set out on foot to visit a friend. We walked a total of 5 miles today, shopped out some of her awesome felt goodies, and got some work done in her studio.  J decided to give me my Valentine's gift early, on account of the snow day.  As soon as I saw the box, wrapped in paper from the local bookstore, I knew what it was and started jumping up and down.  A tiny box/book of softie patterns, perfect practice for making 3D fabric sculptures! The Softies Kit (I didn't know what a softie was, but I guess it's what I've been making) is adorable, with 15 patterns for cute things ranging from elephants to ham bones.

A side-by-side comparison shows that I am still practicing.

I sent off the artichoke and asparagus (I haven't posted too much about them, because the bride-to-be they're for reads this blog-- could be reading and sniffling right now) on Thursday, and I got a call that they've arrived in Michigan!  Total relief-- what kind of insurance can you get on handmade awesomeness?  They loved them, so mission accomplished.  I'll do a post on the making of them soon.

Work has been cancelled for the 7th time in the past 3 weeks, so I'm in the middle of a 5-day weekend.  This is the mother of all get-out-of-jail-free cards of adulthood, so I'm making the most of it.  I've dove head-first into a mound of snow.  Drank a lot of Bailey's.  Going to have beers and watch an improv show.  Made an elephant.  Written some blog posts.  Watched  LOT of Louis CK.  And frankly, thought a lot about things I'm good at and how I need to work really hard to hone my little talents so I can do something amazing with them.    But now I'm going to trounce around in the snow some more in my lovely plastic bag boots.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snowed in with the one I love

Bonnie "Prince" Billy and the Cairo Gang's The Wondershow of the World* is the album I'll be listening to on repeat all day.  I don't usually post about music, because I have no way of explaining why I like a certain song to convince someone to listen to it, but this is one that always makes my heart feel tender.  The line, "Will you love me if I change?" makes me think of Simply Bored's comment in the guest post a few days ago: would we have done the things we say we'd have done if we hadn't made a decision to stick to someone else? What would we find out about ourselves, when we really ask, What would I have accomplished otherwise?  Would I be here, with J, if I'd done the things I convince myself I regret not doing?  Would he still love me, or even have found out he loved me, if I'd gone away and come back a year later.  Who will I be if I decide to start being more honest to myself about what I can achieve?  If I am as successful as my what ifs? will it lead me somewhere that I can't be with him anymore?

Did passing up a good opportunity get me where I am today, and can I admit that giving something up and gaining a wonderful relationship isn't as retrograde as rationality tells me?  Can I not be ashamed to honestly say, If I had gone for it, I would not be here?  Here, where I don't have a career, am not multi-lingual, not fiercely independent, defined somewhat by my relationship?  Where being someone's wife can't be chipped out from what I truly am?  Why is being a woman, in love with a man, caught up in so many feelings of guilt and looked upon with condescension? I can't change the world in that respect, but I can change the way I react to it.  It is so much harder to learn to ignore something, than to rail against it.

With Cornstalks or Among Them

Where were you again tonight? 
(with cornstalks or among them) 
Moonless night my love burned bright. 
(o out among them) 

I'm not impressed by fields of cane. 
Our house is good to me, and plain. 
Happiness can live here still, 
if coming back you only will. 

Or I can fnd you out among 
(o out among them) 
and sleep next to you and hear it sung 
(o out among them). 
I have saved enough that I can go. 
But where to find you, I don't know. 

Please to fnd me, here I am 
(with cornstalks or among them),
 devoured by fields unmade by man 
(o out among them). 
You love me still, although it's strange. 
Will you love me if I change? 

There was one life with you before, 
and one life more, and one life more. 

*Follow the link to all those songs on youtube. If you are similarly snowed in, please listen to some of these songs.  And then if you are really sad on account of it, see him and Zach Galifianakis's version of Can't Tell Me Nothin' by Kanye West.  But don't watch this video until you've listened to some of his music. It is amazing to listen to that beauty and then see that video and wonder, "Who the fuck is this person?"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Trailing/Traveling Spouse talks $$$

Slate has a five-part series on how to manage money as a couple, which has made me think J and I need to talk about some stuff.  Currently we are what the article refers to as Sometimes Sharers, meaning we make our own money, keep it in separate accounts, but use a shared credit card for shared expenses.  It's also reminded me that I currently am a really bad budgeter for a lady in her late 20s.  That is, I don't budget at all, and I've regulated my spending pace so that I never really look at my account.  I think about this every few months and say I'm going to start paying attention to my Mint account, but this never happens.

Currently, J has everything in his name because he lived in our current house before I moved in. So, we pay for shared expenses on a shared credit card, and at the end of the month he splits everything in two and I write him a check.  I don't have to answer for my craft store splurges, but I do have to answer for the accidental priority shipping of a 10-pound wedding gift this weekend.

When we move, all of that will change. As much as talking about money makes this grey, cold day seem drearier, I'll probably feel better if we break the ice on our finances.  I really don't want our first fight about money to happen when I'm in a new town without a job.  I told J I don't want to have an allowance, and he said, "You won't get an allowance-- BECAUSE I AM SO MEAN!" Oh, I love that man.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guest Post: Freeze-dried

Freeze-Dried is a female grad student on-her-way-out-of-the-twenties. She's into SF/F, food, hugs and some (albeit very little) exercise. She is Mostly Harmless and can be reached at

Dear A.b.,

Ever since you’ve invited me to do a guest post in this space, I’ve been wondering about what I can say as a traveling spouse that you haven’t already – incredibly honestly and eloquently – addressed.  And I’m convinced that I can’t do an abstract idea-post related to being a traveling spouse*. My solution, forgive my indulgence, is to focus on me.

A couple of years ago, I decided to follow my partner, (not just because it is the right thing to do**), but because I wanted to***. At the time, although I was in a job that I thoroughly enjoyed, I hadn’t really begun to think of it as a career. After an initial wave of uncomfortable dependence (that passed with support from the spouse), I eventually maneuvered my way into my first unplanned “home-maker” year. I learnt to cook. I also learnt how not to trip over one’s laundry, and how to fold clothes (no, it is an ancient art, really) and sometime down that road, found out that I really wanted to find a career in the academe.

But more recently - sometime over the Christmas break, actually - I discovered that a lot of who I am has come to be built around one relationship. To most people that meet me now, I’m a spouse before I’m a person, much more in fact than P is. This is significantly different from our pre-travelling situation. Back then (it does feel like ages ago), I was an individual / a woman before anything else. I suspect a lot of this difference has to do with having chosen a dependent life.

Between commuting to work, hanging out with P and getting stuff done for school, for want of both time and interest, I do very little else. Consequently, new people meet me as a role rather than as a person. On the other hand, P, given the nature of his job and of our situation still has a more independent life than me. For instance, he meets people at his workplace as a so-and-so-specialist and the dynamics of a job allow for development of (a certain kind of) familiarity, while grad school can be very immersive and isolating.
Anyway, people meet P as an individual / a man before meeting him as a spouse.

[Okay, now is a good time for that interjection: P works his job (although he’d rather be pursuing his art), so that we can have the life that we do. For this, he has my highest respect. I must clarify that this post should in no way suggest that he is insensitive or otherwise oblivious to my concerns.]

Meet my freaking-the-fuck-out moment: In my own mind, I have become a spouse who is incidentally, doing other things.

Self, meet Insecurity. Insecurity, meet Self.

For me, this realization has been attended by some seriously debilitating angst, helplessness, and – surprise, surprise, possessiveness – the kind that has, in the past, made me run in the opposite direction. Coming to terms with this idea (that despite all the things I do, even I think of myself as a spouse first) hasn’t been easy. It means un-learning some things and re-learning some others. It means walking out of this comfort zone of a secure and familiar identity (that I didn't even realize I was building) and learning to be at home with the unknown. And perhaps most scarily, it means having to do this – being a traveling spouse – without losing myself.

A dear friend (who re-appeared quite of the blue to buoy me through this very personal crisis) said, “Being possessive is okay. But what matters is what you do when they’re around and what you do with yourself when they are not.” All suggestiveness aside, that’s my new goal. Yes, with the traveling spouse deal as it is, I don’t necessarily know how, if at all, I can have a completely independent identity without going back to a non-nomadic lifestyle. Hell, I don’t even know how I’m going to work at this.

But, I’m determined to atleast try.

*’cause almost everything about being one is so personal, init?
**Which is an expectation where I come from
*** A complete distrust of long-distance relationships may also have had something to do with this decision.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mists, Bells, Soccer Balls

Lazy Sunday!  We spent another morning in the coffeeshop, me reading The Mists of Avalon (so perfect for being snowed in!) and J editing chapters.  I love to look over at him scribbling on pages of crazy science, witnessing him slowly coming to the end of this stressful time.  The road our house is on is almost unfrozen, but was too small for the snowplow to get past.  Instead, it tried to come through, pushed up an impassable ridge of snow, and backed out again.  I should be thankful I haven't had anything to do that requires the car.

So, other than reading today I've done a fat lot of nothing.  I recently found an old baoding ball necklace I bought when I was a pre-teen, and have been twirling it around my fingers while I read.  It is the most beautiful sound in the world (hear it here).  I did some internet sleuthing and figured out how the bell works.  Here's what it looks like on the inside:

I also found out that the study of bells is campanology.  I'll add campanologist to my list of dream professions with candy designer, parade float maker and professional direction-giver.

Tomorrow I have promised my wonderful new library friend that I will play on a soccer team with her.  I think it is only 2 or 3 games, but I'm concerned that my inability to play soccer, as well as the below-freezing temperatures may impact my drive to win. That drive is pretty low, anyway.  I was a goalie long, long ago, but it's going to take more than me watching a few youtube videos to prevent me from embarrassing myself.  Seriously, if you toss a pen at me I duck.

Tomorrow get ready for a guest post from my Ghost of Christmas Future, Freeze Dried.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Future Landlords

I am way more interested in photographing snowflakes.
Did I say our old landlord had already sold our  house? Not so fast.  The paperwork was finally turned in, but filled out incorrectly so it's February 5th and we don't know who to send our rent check to.   Zoinks!  We stopped by our neighbors' house (future landlords, nice people) and got to talk about what a nut the old landlord is, and I got to hold a baby for a while.  I was surprised at how little I minded being plastered with baby spit, or having my nostril yanked.  I think the only reason babies like me is my glasses (also covered in baby spit).

While we were talking to her, the husband was over at our house shoveling the walk from our door to our driveway.  We'd just gotten back from the coffeeshop and had to immediately jump and help (he had brought over an extra shovel).  We hadn't shoveled anything for a few reasons: one, we don't own a snow shovel because this NEVER happens; two, because it keeps snowing and I am not Sisyphus; four, we were getting around fine on the snow, which isn't slippery; and four, if you shovel your own sidewalk, it seems dickish not to keep going and do a whole block.  So, we couldn't tell if he just really likes doing yardwork so much that he crept into our yard, or he was passive-aggressively saying that if we're his tennants, we'd better get on that.  I was leaning towards the first explanation, but it gave J a Manly-Man Responsibility Complex.  He was worried about having our landlords right across the street, "and this is why," he said, referring to the marathon snow-rearranging.

I mean, we don't own a snow shovel, and I really doubt they will require us to go and purchase one when it may not snow like this for another decade.  There's more snow in the forecast, and I'm hoping it will cover up the icy sidewalks that were previously covered in nice, non-slippery snow.

It's kind of cute that J thinks he needs to "man-up" on yardwork when he thinks the landlord is judging him.  So silly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

28 Days of Blogging

I'm attempting a blog post a day for February, egged on by my friend at Freeze Dried.  I already missed February 1st, but I didn't know about it then, and it was the first snow day so I had s(no)w-work fever.

 Today is the first day back on campus since Monday, and we didn't have to be here until 9:30.  That gave me and J time for one last late  breakfast and we got to walk to work together.  Penguin-walking, because this town doesn't have any budget for inclement weather plans, and the roads and sidewalks were still pretty crappy.  As of this writing, it is snowing again.  I'm doing my best to get work done (writing a blog post on the side isn't productive, I know) but it's hard with my student employees yacking about the snow and me wondering if I need to tell other employees to just not come in.  I haven't had to deal with weather safety too much in my time here, but now I feel like it's up to me whether to make these students drive/bus up here.  If the University thinks it's safe enough to be open, I guess I should trust my employees to get here.

J and I talked a little last night about The Future.  He said he felt selfish in his current path.  I think it counts that he actually thinks about that, and it's not selfish if I said I'm ok with it.  Plus, I've gone this far with him, and I want to see it to the end (or at least the beginning of the next step, with a job).  And, on a sort of sad note, I've built my current life around what he's doing, so I'd be totally out to sea if he abandoned it.  I guess if he went into industry we'd still move (I don't like to think about how I would react if I found out we would not leave our current town) so really  he should do what will make him happiest in his career.  He's worked so long I think he deserves to have a job that fulfills him.  Just because I'm unhappy at my job doesn't mean I want him to be brought down with me.    We could both use a change of scenery.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yay! Step one! Eat it, Boehner and Shitty Democrats!

The various campaigns to strike a re-definition of rape from HR3 have had their first success: the wording has been taken out, but it's still a heinous bill.  Laugh at twitter, but it can get fiery.  Keep calling and writing your senators and don't stop thinking about people who have less than you-- be that money, privilege, access or power-- and how this affects them.  Here's some Kristen Schaal on The Daily Show to remind us all how effing stupid and mean people can really be.  J just declared this video "semi-epic".  I agree:

Tiger Beatdown's latest post has the list of the shitty Dems who decided to vote yes on HR3, one of which is, of course, from Arkansas.  Hello Mike Ross!  So, I went to his website to see if I could shoot off a "You sir, are a douchebag" letter, and lo and behold, even if you type in a zipcode that applies to his district, you still can't send an email.  The contact form just loops back to the same spot, and the code is messed up.  So, if you can hear this, MIKE ROSS, YOU SIR, ARE A DOUCHEBAG.  I spare no eloquence in these matters.

Going back to work tomorrow, just in time to start dreaming about the weekend. Thanks snow!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day #2

6 inches of snow? NO ONE driving on our road.

Too many projects going on, nothing getting done.

I went with friends to work out on Monday afternoon, and received a call that the whole university would be closed on Tuesday.  Magic.  Then I received a call on Tuesday for the Wednesday closing. More magic.  I have spent these two snow days (not ice days, fortunately) working on a puzzle and doing some light housework.

First puzzle since I was a kid. Strangely satisfying.
I told myself I'd spend these days (if they happened) doing really productive things, like starting on the next sewing project (large floor pillow).  Nope.  The snow is really nice, power isn't going out from the very light ice and we've got enough good food to keep us happy.  It's good getting to spend this much time with J.  Some free time is good for him.  So far, he's made a batch of kombucha, biscuits and yogurt.  And not once talked about work.  He seems relaxed, and even started working on his food blog!

On Monday I got an email from Heidi at Hands Occupied asking if I might write some guest posts while she moves with her (future) husband in the summer. I am thrilled.  We've got some things in common in the "trailing spouse" department, so I'm really glad to be her sounding board, and vice versa, about identity/marriage/moving issues.  However, she'll be very likely taking that step before me.
Heidi's fiance is an excellent craft helper with their ribbon wall.

[UPDATE: we are closed for Thursday, too. As an adult, I don't think I can ever hope for such luck again.]
Photo by Chris Clanton