A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Break's over, back to work.

That was a nice break, but as it turns out, I miss this place too much. Why did I take it down for a while? Well, there was a bit of a creepster situation, but that was short-lived. That was the initial reason I took it down, but I kept it down because I needed a reprieve from social media in general. I had the revelation that I actually kind of hate Facebook, and took that down, too. That one's very unlikely to be brought back; a life without Facebook is a much more pleasant life, I've found. Maybe I'm just getting curmudgeonly in my advanced age. Anyway, I used the extra time to focus on school and on the relationships that DO matter to me. I've found the reaction to that interesting in itself. People I don't speak to every day or even every week, but who I consider close friends, immediately asked me what was up with my Facebook/blog. It sparked some good conversations, real conversations, and I wondered how many had been lost when we just clicked "like" instead of talking.

 So what happened in the interim? Well for starters, this place turned 6! Happy belated birthday, blog. I'm sorry you spent it alone. That's no way to treat a friend, but I think we just needed some space, you know?

 Well, there's been a lot of activity. The merger at work has been pushed to late January, so I'm stuck in Corinth until then. I've been to Mobile a couple times now to check out apartments and such, but I haven't looked super hard yet. Instead, my time there has been taken up by frolicking at Gulf Shores, learning about innovative latrines at Fort Gaines, dancing to Old Crow Medicine Show under the stars, brunching under giant oaks, looking for gators, checking out Brett's giant new mill, and learning that a couple parts of downtown Mobile at night really remind me of Savannah, GA at night.

 And that's in Mobile.

 It's been busy in Corinth, too, just not with such cool stuff. A lot more math than I care to be busy with, mostly. I'm not gonna lie: I greatly dislike math. It's just not my thing. My newly promoted seeeeeenior engineer boyfriend thinks that any day, it'll click and suddenly, I'll love math. I keep telling him it's not gonna happen. This is an argument I know I will win. I know it's true the way I know I will never use the information that's being wretchedly forced into my brain beyond the sole purpose of regurgitating it on a final exam next week. Then it'll be gone, until the next semester, when I take the last math I will have to take. I think. I hope. Oh, I hope. If for no other reason than to spare him the abuse I give him when I need his help with it. He's a great tutor, but I'm a difficult pupil. Not because I can't (eventually) get the material, but because I'm apparently "combative" about it. I must have a pretty bad attitude to be accused of being "combative" through Skype. Anyway, it's December, to my dismay and delight. The last few months have raced by. I've gotten a little crafty in my downtime, exploring activities like scrapbooking and beadwork. So far, I've completed one scrapbook and was astonished at how much work goes into making one that's just pretty nice. I look at the intricate, detailed ones my Aunt Laura makes and am very humbled. I have a long way to go. There's a lot of clipping and measuring, planning, and placing, and it doesn't just come together like magic. It sounds so easy, but its execution is time-consuming, cumbersome, and complicated. I understand now why people have special craft tables with drawers and nooks and crannies. Ditto beadwork. I'm currently making a rosary with teeeensy delicate chain links that I have to cut and push back together with two types of pliers, and attach to the wire that I've threaded and looped through pearls. It's a little maddening, but rewarding to see the chain grow.

Why am I delving into all this instead of just sticking to knitting? Well, part of it is Pinterest. The other part of it is that I'm almost completely disenchanted with Corinth. It still has its bright points, like the Green Market, Grand Illumination, etc. But day-to-day Corinth has become the pits and I'm not even pretending to have anything in common with most of the people I used to hang out with. Knowing you're moving soon has that effect on you. Before, for my own survival, I had to try to convince myself that Corinth wasn't really that bad. That's no longer necessary. Corinth is great for other people, but I'm not one of them. And I'm not saying that the people I spent time with here aren't great people; they are. We just don't have a whole lot in common, and now that I've been back in college and am moving to a place with some diversity, I know I'll find other people who want to talk about the stuff I actually find interesting. That sounds judgy, but it really isn't. I'm just tired of stupid-fun being the only fun readily available. I'm tired of small-town drama, and I'm not even in said drama. I'm just tired of hearing about everyone else's. There are actually people out there who have no interest in gossip. It's true. I've met some of them. I'd like to meet more of them. There are people out there who can think of more to do than just drink and goof off. Don't get me wrong, there's room for that, but not every weekend. It's just time to go. It's so, so time to go. I've made up my mind, I've paid off all my debt, and it's time. Now I just have to wait on this merger. In the meantime, I craft, study, and Skype. I'm happy, excited, and full of hope.

P.S. Pictured: Not his real sunglasses. He found those. He did not buy them. I promise he's not a tool.


My Grandma Charlie passed away recently, on November 16. My feelings about that are too big to write about right now, but I felt I should say something. I will have a lot to say, in time. But she was just here in Corinth a few short weeks ago, and while I am so, so grateful for that time I got to spend with her, she's still very close by to me and I just...can't. She didn't want a traditional graveside service. It was her request that her ashes be scattered at Yellowstone instead. In spring, when the roads and lodges reopen, the family will all be meeting there to honor her request.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I got my feet on the ground, and I don't go to sleep to dream.

A few nights ago, I dreamt that Brett and I were going on a canoe trip where we were assigned to buddy up with a couple we didn't know. Upon reaching the launching area, we met the other couple. It was my ex boyfriend and his current girlfriend. Awkward City, at first. But everyone was friendly enough, and it seemed things would go well. But part of the deal was that each couple had to bring some food, and I was stressing that the other girl had brought food Brett couldn't eat. I was kicking myself for not mentioning that during the sign up, and sure enough, she brought out a basket full of delectable-looking cheeses and breads. I had no idea how to handle this, because I didn't want to be rude and reject her food, and I knew my ex wouldn't touch anything remotely resembling healthy, but...you know. Politeness vs allergic/clean. I woke up before I had to make any decisions.

The past several months have been a nonstop stream of activity, and it's not slowing down, despite my body flashing big warning signs telling me to cool it. I'm sitting here not even mid-semester, determined to get up and power through. For anyone left in the world to whom I have not yet bitched, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy earlier this year. Narcolepsy. Now, I don't have the kind you see in movies, wherein the narcoleptic falls asleep standing up. Nothing like that. What I have is the kind where I want to fall asleep standing up, or rather, my brain wants to. There's a "sleep" switch in my noggin, and there's a loose wire connected to it, so basically it's flickering on and off constantly. This diagnosis explained a lot of bizarre behavior over the years. Apparently, I've been (and yes, you can become) narcoleptic for a long time, and it's just been getting bad enough to manifest. I thought my only sleep issues were insomnia and sleep paralysis. I finally got fed up enough with the latter to have a sleep study done, and it turns out that chronic sleep paralysis is a red flag for narcolepsy. And that's what showed up. Now during normal sleep cycles, people have roughly 20% REM, or dreaming, time and the rest is deep, restful, slow-wave sleep. I'm the opposite. My brain only rests a little of the time, and the other 80% is filled with vivid dreams. For the past several years, I've been functioning on about 20% of the sleep normal people get. Another tip off for narcolepsy is how quickly you can fall asleep during the day and then how quickly you start dreaming. In 4 out of 5 of my tests, I fell asleep in under three minutes (daytime), and in 5 out of 5 tests, I was also fully dreaming within the first three minutes. Just to make things more interesting, I'm a fairly common breed of narcoleptic: the kind with nighttime insomnia. I suspect this is a learned pattern. For a long time, I've just had a general aversion to sleep because even when I got it, I didn't feel refreshed or anything. What's the point? I'm tired either way. I had gotten used to being tired so it just felt normal and I was able to power through anything. We-he-he-ell.... long term sleep deprivation will turn you into, in clinical terms, a raving batshit lunatic. (I was careful with that phrasing, because I don't want to overstate it.) This nonsense, over time, turns your brain into an eclectic fusion stew of erratic behavior, memory loss, and poor judgment. Yeah. I know. With this diagnosis, everything made sense. And with the necessary medication (a bitchin' nighttime sedative, surprisingly), I was able to start getting the rest I need. And the difference has been...amazing. My overall energy is higher, my dreams are still vivid but not terrifying, and this is going to sound weird, but I'm oddly...grounded. I'm definitely not as impulsive, I'm not as ruled by emotion, and my decision-making is more closely resembling that of a grownass adult. It's so much easier to focus on school work and whatever task is at hand, and so, so much easier to say "no" to superfluous bull that I just don't want or need. That's pretty sweet.

I'm still tired. When I miss a dose, I have brain fog the next day and wonder how the hell I was even functioning before. It takes time to get in a perfect pattern, and I still have days that I'm so sleepy I could just cry. But it's manageable, obviously.

Until two weeks ago, when Brett went to the doctor for a sore throat and found out he had mono. *sigh* When your boyfriend gets mono, it's a pretty sure thing that you've got it too, or are about to have it. I went to my doctor a couple days later, after I started feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Yup. I laughed. Mono on top of narcolepsy, mixed up with full time work and full time college. I am the most tired person you know. I win!...a nap.

I'm not gonna lie. This blows. I'm told I'm no longer contagious, and that's nice, I guess. It's not like I can give it back to the only person getting my smooches. I'm also told that I'm probably going to feel like this for a couple months. Right now, I feel like the morning after the kind of night that inspires Ke$ha songs, so that's not so nice.

But I'ma make it. I think I'm over the worst of it. My schoolwork hasn't suffered for it. Just me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Goin' Down South

So I'm embedded, ticklike, firmly in the armpit of fall semester. I offer this icky analogy, because that's what school feels like right now. I'm taking the less-than-thrilling classes that are required if I want to go on and take the classes that actually relate to my major. They're not hard courses. They're really, really easy, and that's why it's imperative for me to latch on with ticklike tenacity. I have a tendency to get bored when I'm not challenged, and a tendency to slack on whatever I'm bored with. Terrible habits. And I have a tendency to be really good at indulging in my bad habits. Not this time! No. I'm going to remain hunkered down and committed to draining these classes of whatever rich sustenance might be contained within. Through my proboscis.

In other news, I'm making preparations to move south at the end of this semester. My company has bought out another bank based in Mobile, and I've submitted my transfer request. I'm told it ain't even no thing, and the transfer will unfold seamlessly. We'll see. I'm pretty stoked about setting up shop in Mobile. It's less than an hour from Pensacola beach, and about two hours from New Orleans. New Orleans. Good kayaking in Mobile. Also all the fresh seafood I could want but probably can't afford right after a big move.

I'm settling into a routine that involves getting up at a ludicrous hour to work out, going to work for the standard eight hours, and then to school for three hours, four days a week. There's about an hour between work and school, and I use that hour to breathe and maybe eat. I do homework for an hour after class, take about a half hour for myself to do something wicked, like liking things on Facebook, and then I crash. Now it's Friday. It's the freakin weekend, baby, Im about to have me some fun sleep. I'll be social, and even sociable, tomorrow. But tonight...I'm curling up with a nice, hot cup of everclear tea and probably an Indiana Jones movie*. Not the fourth one, because that one doesn't count.

*By "Indiana Jones movie", I might mean "a copy of Atlas Shrugged", because I'm finally reading it. I've always kinda meant to, and now that Paul Ryan's in hot water over making his staff read it, I want to see what all the hooplah is about.**

**Sike!I'll probably watch Indiana Jones.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The stuff you shouldn't talk about in mixed company.

This has been a while in coming.

Over the past several months, I've made offhand remarks on this blog regarding my shifting views on women's healthcare; mainly what should be allowed and who should pay for it. My last post managed to spark, in this exceedingly quiet corner of the internet, a flare of controversy. To some, it looked like I was favoring traditionally Righty policy where these subjects are concerned. That would be alarming for a couple of reasons. Mainly that I've always been vehemently pro-choice, and sorta in favor of having someone drive a van around every city once a month, tossing out free packs of birth control like candy. (Twice a month in Crump, TN. If you've ever been there, I know you agree with me.)

Some of these views have changed on an at-home level. Part of it is personal experience, part of it is indisputable advances in science, specifically an ever-earlier point of viability. Part of it is my growing faith. That last one seems to be the one that rubs people the wrong way. I've gotten a lot more vocal about my faith over the past year (just that I do have faith, that is), and I've recieved some pretty hurtful "subtle" jabs (from friends, no less) on assorted social media platforms, as if I don't know they're meant for me. I'm not stupid. I know when I'm being baited. What I don't know is why, so I generally eye the bait for a minute and then swim away without nibbling. It's not like I'm tapping on anyone's door with my crucifix and telling them I've shown up to make their decisions. I've happily talked about my conversion to Catholicism when asked, and that's about it. I've mentioned church and church activities several times on Twitter, and possibly once or twice on Facebook. So it's out there: I'm a Christian and I'm pretty stoked about it. But I'm not coming down Falwell-style on anyone. I'm not coming down on anyone at all. I'm open if anyone wants to ask me about it. To date, exactly one person has: a brilliant, agnostic lady who is squarely in the "Friends; Lifelong/Best" file. It's an ongoing, interesting conversation, and I think we're both getting a lot out of it. We've been civil and understanding, which is exactly how a conversation of that nature between people of vastly different beliefs should be. The rest of the feedback has been either 1) lack thereof, or 2) see "subtle" jabs, above.

My faith has had an enormous effect on my political views, but not in the ways many are so quick to assume. Take a look around the internet for attitudes about Christians. Check your Twitter and your FB feed. You'll notice something: an endless, and endlessly narrowminded and boring, tirade against people of faith. We're idiots. We're crazy. We hate women. We hate black people. We hate gays. We hate poor people. We hate rich people. We hate Mexicans. We hate gays more than we said earlier. We hate science. We hate sex. We hate drinking. We hate cussing. We hate...oh, antelopes. We hate you. We hate that sandwich you ate earlier.

We especially hate lamp.

I can understand how we got that reputation. My formal religious education was sporadic as I grew up (Navy family, we moved around a lot, etc.) We went to church sometimes, and my parents are Christian, but I didn't really have any experience with a Christian community, per se. Then we moved to Savannah, TN, where I spent my high school years. Hoo boy, if anything will put you off Christianity, it's the Christians you'll encounter in Hardin County. I'm sure there are many actual faithful people hanging around there. I didn't meet many of them, but I did meet a few. (Brandon's Mamaw Hazel, you rock it, lady.) Here's the thing about that: the ones with the good hearts and the right ideas tend to be pretty quiet. It's the loudmouths who act a fool and give us all a bad name. Their numbers are so great, and they are such magnificent d-bags, that just calling myself a Christian apparently raises the hackles of people who have known me for years (and should frigging well know better than to lump me in with the rabble).

Go ahead and yammer some No True Scotsman form data, if you must. I'll wait.

(Just as a side note, I'd like to say that I had nothing to do with the Crusades or any Inquisition. I had jack to do with any of that, and I'd have jack to do with it now. Do I need to add a disclaimer there? You bet. Some of the anti-faith peeps are not above bringing up stuff from five hundred years ago and being all, "SEE?? That was YOUR KIND! So God is BAD and also DOESN'T EXIST!". Well, those weren't my kind. Thanks for playing. Luckily, this distinction is rarely necessary outside the cnn.com and newsvine.com comment boards, probably because the people I choose to communicate with in real life aren't...stupid.)

Have my thoughts on abortion changed? Oh, yes. It's in part because of my faith. It's not all my faith. I'm pretty confident that even without it, I would have reached the same thoughts eventually, just from examining my conscience and the facts. Morality can and does exist without religion. We all have a personal set of morals, whether we believe they're placed there by God or instilled in us by the society in which we were raised. Most of those morals are pretty universal. To me, the biggest one is about stealing. In my preferred religious text, it says "thou shalt not steal," which covers a lot of ground, and it's kind of the gist of several other commandments. Don't take someone else's money. Don't take their spouse. Don't take their dignity (honor your elders, and don't lie to folks). Not taking stuff that's not yours is also the gist of most of our laws. All good, right? So how about... don't take their life. Oh, now we got problems. Because we're about equally split on whether abortion is equivalent to murder. What couldn't be clearer for some of us is unthinkable for others, and vice versa. Some of us really do see both sides. I've always been very vocal in my support of a woman's right to choose what's best for her life and her body. I still support that. So...what's changed? Well...when does what she carries within her body, stop being her body? Even the worst dredges of our society aren't monstrous enough to still believe that lump is just a lump up until it exits its mother's body. For most of us, we view it as a human being, a baby, long before that. When? Subjective. For the record, I've always felt I wasn't capable of abortion. I knew (and yes, I have been in the situation where I thought I would have to make that call) that once I was pregnant, it was a done deal: there would be a teensy, growing human organism in there with it's own unique DNA and entire roadmap in place for that DNA chain to follow, and it would grow and turn into a person with likes and dislikes and probably a Facebook. Without any help or say-so from me, that lump's eye color, fingerprints, and dimple placement were already determined. For me, pregnant=baby. But I still absolutely believed that it was a very personal choice and that no one had the right to tell any woman what to do with her body.

Which leads us right back to the beginning. When does it stop being her body? It's housed by and nourished by her body; her body is the place where it grows; her body supports it...but it is not her body. It isn't a new growth or appendage that will be there forever, it's going to be expelled. It's going to leave her body and leave nothing of itself behind. At what point does a lump become a human being to be protected by legislation? Way too subjective. We're at an impasse. For some, there is never an option to abort, even in the earliest stages of pregnancy. At the other end of the spectrum, abortion should be provided, no questions asked, no couseling mandatory, at 21 weeks and beyond. (Interestingly, a baby in Germany was born last year at 21 weeks, and survived, despite the acceped point of viability being 24 weeks. On a personal note, my friend Phaedra gave premature birth to her son, Declan, in March. He was born at 23 weeks, and is doing just fine at home with his mommy now.)

There are lots of reasons that leave me unable to support abortion. If a pregnant friend comes to me and asks me for advice, I'm going to do everything I can to steer her away from termination. That's in a situation where my advice is sought, and I'll give it honestly. Does that mean I'm about to start protesting at clinics? Only considering  political candidates who are pro-life? Looking at my more liberal-minded sisters with disgust? Hell, no. If there's a fight to be had, the absolute least effective way to have it is in the effort to ban abortion, and the least effective technique in any argument is to open with, "I'm better than you." I'm not.

I think trying to illegalize abortion is pointless at best and counterproductive at worst. It's a waste of energy and time. It's not going to happen, and it shouldn't happen. Try to imagine if, somehow, someway, we overturned Roe v. Wade. If, somehow, all forms of abortion were suddenly made illegal. That is not a victory, it's a death sentence for pro-life ideals. It would provoke such outrage, such unified outrage, the likes of which this country probably hasn't seen. All of the people who were on the fence would immediately rally with the pro-choice side, and abortion would be legal again so fast your head would spin. And then what? Back at square one, only with exponentially deeper grudges and resentment pouring from both sides. In the interim, it's unlikely that the brief illegalization would have prevented much of anything. Abortion has existed as long as pregnancy has existed. Any 3,000 B.C. midwife worth her herbs knew how to stop life. Hell, there are plenty of herbalists now who can tell you how to do it with stuff from the garden. It's always been there. It always will be. The difference between legal/not legal is that a woman who wants one has a much better shot at not dying herself if it's a legal one.

So, no, I'm not joining the throngs who seek to ban or illegalize, because it's not the answer. Taking freedoms which have already been granted is never the answer. That horse is out of the barn and has long since busted through the gate. It's not going back in, and it would be a waste of energy to try to force it. I'm as entitled to an opinion as anybody else, and mine is that abortion is vile and contradictory to nature and whatever it is in us that makes us a little better than gorillas. I want it to go away, but not in a way that takes choice and safety away from anyone. The only way we're going to reduce abortion is by reducing unwanted pregnancy. Now, I'm Catholic. I understand, totally, the logic behind not using birth control, and I have no problem adhering to that.

But the rest of the world ain't Catholic. It's pretty well documented now that most Catholics use birth control, anyway. The world, my friends, is out there having sex. Right now. Married sex, single sex, loving sex, dirty sex, revenge sex, sneaky sex, guilty sex, funny sex. Whatever the reasons, folks are humping and they're going to continue humping. Folks who are less educated about their humping, or who don't have access to products to make humping safer, are going. To. Do. It. Anyway. We are so, so, so far beyond the point in our culture where it's reasonable to ask people to remember that babies are, still, a consequence of all that sexin'. Knowing that very important fact has never stopped people from doing the one thing that makes babies.

Prevention. It's the only way to slow the cycle. Put down your damn protest signs, and stop screaming about Hell to people who likely don't even believe in Hell. And you, over on the left, knock off with the snark and belittling just a bit, ok? All either of you are accomplishing is further polarization, when we just need to say "Eff it, agree to disagree, now how are we going to stop these ladies from getting pregnant in the first place?".  Comprehensive sex education. Now that's a worthy fight we should all be able to get behind. If you want to fight the volume of abortions, fight the BS Abstinence Only programs. Call the schools in your area. Ask questions. Find out what they're actually teaching. We all know that these sort of discussions should happen at home, but a lot of us are choosing to ignore that that just doesn't happen. In a world of Jersey Shore, Girls Gone Wild, 24/7 access to porn, simulated orgasms in shampoo commercials, and innuendo in cartoons, it is not only profoundly stupid to think your child is sheltered, it's dangerous. Even if you keep your kid off the tv and off the internet, his buddies at school still have access to all that stuff, and they're all talking about it. There is no such thing as a sheltered child anymore. Find out how your local schools handle sex ed, even if you don't have kids. Make sure they cover everything from ovulation to syphilis to breastfeeding. The more detail, the better, because 1) they need to know exactly what they're getting into, and 2) no matter how cool a parent may be, there are just some things no one will ask their mom. Organize. Contact local government and get a ball rolling. Do your church youth counselors cover sexuality? Find out. There shouldn't be a single lady out there having sex without knowing exactly how to protect herself and her partner, and how to prevent a pregnancy she doesn't want.

And when birth control fails? Comprehensive counseling when she goes to an abortion clinic. Make sure she's being fully educated about her options, and that she understands what is happening. If it's an elective termination and she's far enough along for the fetus to feel pain, she needs to know that, too. She needs to see an ultrasound image. She needs time to think about it, and she needs to know that support is there either way she chooses. This sort of counseling rubs a lot of people the wrong way. They feel that a woman shouldn't be made to feel guilty in an already stressful situation, but I don't think that giving a woman facts is guilting her; guilt is an emotion that pops up on its own when you do something that violates your personal moral code. It's a built-in mechanism that makes you slow down and think a bit. If the information presented makes her feel anything, good or bad, that's coming from her own psyche. To say that a woman considering abortion shouldn't be fully educated on it because it might upset her, is the same things as saying that women should be kept ignorant so as to keep their emotions in check. "Don't you worry your pretty head about it, lil lady." Um, no. Keeping women in the dark for the purpose of protecting their feelings is not helping them, it's designating them as creatures incapable of making their own decisions...or creatures more likely to be a pawn in furthering someone else's agenda. Bad news.

That's all I got.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The war on vagina.

There are a million things I'd like to talk about but haven't gotten around to here yet. Seeing two Red Wings games in Nashville (and seeing Jack White at one omgomgomg!!!), a ZZ Top show, fishing at the creek, Memorial Day shenanigans, adventures in Memphis, amazing new recipes, the possibility of relocating to Mobile, being asked (and agreeing) to teach Sunday School to ESL 7th graders, and the new gas grill that has changed my life.

I've wanted to bring up marriage equality, biblical exploration, bullying, crop subsidizing, and several news stories that aren't news anymore. Like this one.

Last week,  Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown got in a bit of trouble for saying "vagina". Here's her side of it, in which she pretends like she just has no idea what she did wrong, and that everyone's being mean to her because her vagina is not a Republican vagina. If you don't want to click that link, here's what she said.

"Finally Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'"

The next day, she was silenced...and decided it was because she used the word vagina. Had nothing to do with the fact that she acted like a snotty sixth grader who just discovered Feminism for Dummies.

Does she really need someone to explain to her that, actually, no, conservatives are not interested in her vagina? That they are in fact so disinterested that they don't want to pay for its activities? I doubt it. The statement was inflammatory, it was meant to be inflammatory, and now she's pouting for getting flamed. It isn't the word that's the problem. It's that she threw aside the decorum and levelheadedness that her job (theoretically) requires so that she could make a (sassy! so sassy!) jab and paint it like any Republican personally gives a rat's ass about her sex life. This is the tip of a huge, and hugely stupid, War-on-Women rhetoricberg. Because, you know, people who don't think other people's abortions and birth control should be a shared expense are all closeted, homophobic, misogynistic, old white men in suitsblahblahBLAHBLAHBLAH. (Jeez. The "old white men" bit is as tired as the "flying spaghetti monster" bit, guys. It was tired when I was using it, back in high school. I was a hardcore liberal back then. I also thought Jay Mohr was the hottest guy alive and that nobody, like, got Fiona Apple in the deep way that I did.)

I don't see a war on women. I see a lot of women being spoken for, as if having a vagina (said it!) means we all have the same beliefs and desires. That's the only injustice I see. No one is taking away my "rights" by making me pay for my own (completely elective, btw) reproductive choices. No one is stripping my freedoms or sending me back to the dark ages by holding me accountable to my own decisions. Birth control coverage is a convenience, not a right. Being able to blather like an idiot? That's a right. My body, my choice...my paycheck. I want the government to stay out of my uterus, too, and the best way to keep the government out of it is to not let the government pay for it.

Just sayin'.

More to come. I'm pretty annoyed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shoutout- BC in the haus.

One of my favorite bands, American Aquarium, is currently on a European tour. One of my favorite people, bassist Bill Corbin, has started a blog to give us a glimpse at the touring shenanigans. It's very funny and will make you very hungry. So check it out!

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'll fly away.

On a break this morning, I read a little article. One of those one-page deals with bulleted, interesting information that you'll likely forget once you're done waiting on your oil change (because that's when those articles are the best). This one was called "13 Things the Funeral Director Won't Tell You". Pretty interesting, and good knowledge to have on standby. Burial/cremation is necessary, after all. Most of us, at some point, will have to be responsible for arranging a funeral. Looking at these things obectively isn't too bothersome; it's, as said, necessary. Death is a part of life. It's natural. Done deal. It's either a blackout, or only the beginning. Circle of life. Cue Elton John. (What's unnatural is how we've come to deal with it, or not deal with it, in our overly sanitized, therapy-pushing culture.) It isn't awful that an entire industry exists to sort out the unpleasant task of body disposal. What's gut-punchingly nauseating is that an entire industry thrives on milking the bereft. People who are still in the weird, grief-shock haze of losing a parent, sibling, child, spouse, friend, or good lawyer can barely function well enough to put together an outfit. Phrases like, "You want what's best for your mother, and this is your last chance" apply a cattle prod to the part of the brain where guilt is stored and dispensed.

  (My own mother has been very clear that she sniffs at the idea of a fancy casket, and since it's illegal to just toss someone in a river, a plain pine box will do. I echo these sentiments. My parents, my cousins, Brandon, Brett, and now the internet all know: I couldn't care less what happens to my carcass. The only thing you should feel guilty about is if you spend a lot on its planting, because that's straight-up dumb. My only request is that you do it on the cheap and without embalming, not because of any spiritual reason, but because decomposition is inevitable and it's retarded to pump bodies full of chemicals that will eventually leach into the earth, poisoning innocent rabbits or something.)

A coworker noticed what I was reading and recoiled, horrified. "Why are you reading that??" she wanted to know. I didn't see what the big deal was. I told her it was interesting, and read aloud a couple of the items. She literally clapped her hands over her ears and said, "Oh my God, that's morbid! Why would anyone read about death? Read about happy things!". She then brought out a catalog featuring nothing but baskets, and she and two other coworkers happily fell upon it. Baskets.

The thing is, I wasn't even reading about death. Not death itself, as a concept to ponder, or an individual's death, or physiological markers of impending death. The article was about what the living party does with the physical remains, and it was mostly from a financial perspective. You'd be hard pressed to get farther removed from the emotional aspect of death. It had nothing to do with, you know, into-the-light, salvation or damnation, Sylvia Browne specials, Death. I don't think it was morbid at all. It's not like I was talking about necrophilia.

Her reaction got me thinking about how our society in general deals with death, and my thoughts got so jumbled up that I couldn't come to any profound conclusions (SHOCKER). On one hand, there's a desensitization toward the death of our own kind. It's sad when a lunatic kills a woman, but it's not front-page worthy. Now let that lunatic set a dog on fire, and that's the headliner on CNN.com for half a day. People are infuriated. They want answers. A couple more crack whores in a dumpster, or even a couple more housewives in a dumpster, is something to tsk-tsk about and turn the page, those lost lives already completely forgotten by the time you flip to the feature on Memorial Day recipes. Whatever that desensititivity is, it doesn't seem like it's a good thing. I dunno. Maybe we get cold to those things because there's so much of it, it would overload us to think about it all and we'd never think about anything else. Would that be such a bad thing? If we made it matter to ourselves, maybe we'd work a lot harder to stop some of that ugliness from happening.

On the flip side is the terrified, willfully ignorant, don't-wanna-hear-about-it attitude I encountered this morning. We can watch CSI marathons and make sure Saw grosses over $100 million, and withstand increasingly preachy zombie movies, but OMG don't talk about death! We're so removed from it on a personal level that it seems unnatural. I think a lot of this is because so few people die at home anymore. It's all in hospitals and nursing homes. Old people, and people who have very rural backgrounds, who remember family members dying at home (because that's just how it happened) talk about a quietus, or a moment when you feel the spirit leave a person's body, sort of a reverse quickening. My mother has told me about her grandpa dying when she was 16. The family was gathered in that tiny house in White Holler, waiting. She says when Erskine let out his last breath, a big wind built in the treetops and rushed down into the holler, making quite a racket and unnerving the dogs, who started yelping and trying to get inside. Then it was gone, all quiet. She maintains that his soul was being taken to Heaven.

We live in an increasingly atheistic culture that seeks to ridicule anyone who believes there may be something worthwhile after death. The thought of not having to answer to a higher authority is pretty attractive, but I guess the thought of becoming instantly meaningless at your last breath isn't too comfortable, either. I dunno. I know that my friends who have strong faith aren't too weirded out by death, and the ones who claim we just blip out seem to anxiously avoid the topic altogether. I wouldn't be too keen on talking about the moment where where this bag of bones and happiness, memories, battle scars, strengths, broken pieces, mended pieces, revelations, gained wisdom, good jokes, loving sex, great meals, milestones, traumas, tragedies, triumphs, sacraments, and perfect kisses all suddenly implode into...ashes. All the things that do make us so beautifully human and our lives so worthwhile, do those things not really count? I call bull. They count, and I believe there's so much more afterward. Good stuff. Which is maybe why it doesn't bother me to examine death, or birth, in a matter-of-fact way. That's what we do. We make babies and die, and I think we lose some vital pieces of human experience when we insist on doing both of those things in hospitals. It's no more morbid to know I can bury my parents for free at Corinth National Cemetary (thanks to Veterans Affairs), than it would have been to know I'd bury them in the family plot 75 years ago. It's just bodies, you know? The important stuff doesn't get buried with them. It gets taken to Heaven on the wind.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What rabbit ears?

I know I'm just asking to get punched for this. But...c'mon! It's adorable!

Monday, April 09, 2012

'With a load of iron ore 26,000 tons more than the Edmund Fitzgerald Sarah weighed empty'

Honey-mustard Coca Cola ham (my own recipe. Mmmhmm.)
Onion rice pilaf
Roasted asparagus
Steamed carrots
Dressing (traditional)
Cornbread dressing
Deviled eggs
Chocolate covered peanut butter "eggs"
Sweet tea

I cooked. It was the bomb.

I ate too much. Now I suffer. Still.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Brett: These cookies are really good.
Me: Thanks! Glad you like them.
Brett: The texture's interesting, too. I'm not sure what's going on there.
Me: *slowly forming the stankeye*
Brett: I mean, there's solid, liquid, gas, and plasma...and these cookies. *sees stankeye and visibly recoils* But they're great! Just a little crumbly. They taste great! I'll eat them all.

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I've posted. There's been so much going on, and when there's not, I'm baking oddly textured cookies* and trying to nap.

I find that I'm enjoying my music appreciation class, probably more than anyone has ever enjoyed an online music appreciation class. While the cds accompanying the textbook are definitely the most expensive I have ever owned, in the context of compilation they're pretty bitchin', and I often use them recreationally. I was listening to one while baking normal-textured cookies, and was delighted to recognize one of the selections as the basis for the title theme in The Shining. It's a cool piece. I guess Kubric thought so, too.

Spring break was about two weeks ago. I didn't attend the Jack White show in Memphis, because I waited too long to get reasonably-priced tickets (by reasonable, I mean under $100), and couldn't justify spending that much or asking my companion to. Brett and I talked about several options for a vacation, but it was decided it would be best all around for me to stay at home and rest. I kinda feel like if I had attemted a full vacation with air travel, schedules, and luggage, I would have collapsed into a sobbing pile of resentment and new bathing suits. Instead, I napped a lot and read a lot. The first three consecutive days were spent in the kitchen (not the whole days...I mean, I still slept in my bed). That's honestly what I was looking forward to the most. There's something about walking into a clean kitchen and preheating an oven that just automatically makes me feel happier. I spent hours and hours in the kitchen, reading recipes, trying recipes, tweaking recipes, making baking mixes, pancake mixes, biscuit mixes, add-to muffin mixes. Smashing fresh avcadoes with garlic, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and salsa to make THE BEST GUACAMOLE EVER and munching on it while perusing cookbooks and unconsciously memorizing substitutions.

I made A's on my midterms. Ate gumbo at an oyster bar in Pickwick. Attempted swimming in Pickwick Lake, because it was 86 degrees that day. The water was not 86 degrees. Brett and I challenged each other to go under, so we both stupidly did it, and rushed out to play frisbee in the sun to dry off. Frisbee lasted until the sun went down, and we stood and looked at the lights on the dam until our stomachs loudly reminded us that it was quite time for dinner.

The last two weeks have included a rodeo, a dog show, an independent film festival, an American Aquarium show, and a hike at Big Hill Pond state park. We've eaten out too much. We've bickered. We've cuddled. We have, actually, spent time apart...I went to a bridal shower, and he went on a mountain biking/camping trip with his college homies.

I can safely say that I've never been more day-to-day compatible with any other boyparts owner.

I've been lovingly working on an essay about transgendered children and gender roles vs gender markers. It will be posted this week. I have one more RCIA class, and then I'll be confirmed. No more Halfolic. That's next Sunday. In the meantime, there's a confirmation (not mine, obviously), a wedding, a flurry of Park activity for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh (more on that later as well), a sleep study (we knew it was coming), and a lot of Bodypump.

And tonight, I'm eating peanuts and watching Ghost. #baller

*It was a fluke, and I knew that recipe called for too much shortening**, I just knew it. Lesson learned.
**organic, palm, non-hydrogenated, blahblahblah you know this.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kitsch and Loafing in East Memphis. Also an ode to engineering.

Saturday morning, the beau and I headed westward to Memphis, with the intention of checking out the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (the same one I passed a million times when Lindsey still lived at the Mayflower). There were no solid plans for the rest of the day, no pressing task at home to tend to. So, we loafed. The Cathedral was really something. Very pretty, very big. I didn't take any pictures, because I figured it would feel kinda tacky taking pictures inside a church, especially when people are sitting there praying. We took our time, said our prayers, met a nice priest. There was some sort of function going on for the Latino parishioners in another part of the building, and the sanctuary intermittently rumbled with the bass and voices associated with a vigorous bilingual worship service. Cool. No reason a church can't feel like it's backed up to a nightclub from time to time. Which leads us to....

.... Disco Jesus.

He's watching you. And He wants to put on His, His, His, His, His boogie shoes.

That picture isn't from the Cathedral. No, that would be from Crystal Shrine Grotto, which is where we went next. It's this gaudy, sparkly, hand-dug cave using sculpture and paintings to depict scenes from the bible. I love that we went here. It's pure Memphis kitsch, with its odd blend of muddled Christianity, humor, cheap materials, and a little magic.

We dined at India Palace (hataz keep drinkin that Hatarade!) and decided to go downtown. He had never seen the Peabody ducks being herded, so we tried to make it to the Peabody in time for that. We missed it by about five minutes, so we wandered around the lobby and gift shops, wondering why anyone would be okay with paying an extra hundred dollars for a pair of shoes just because they're in a fancy hotel lobby. (And this is the Peabody. Not The Plaza. I don't think the level of fanciness in this case really justifies excess for the sake of excess. BUT...) I then fell victim to overpriced charm myself, and bought a new coffee mug. Justification: I recently broke my favorite mug in the whole world. It was from Duke's Griddle'n Grill in Ventura, and its abscence in my life is keenly felt every day as I sip from a lesser cup. My new cup falls just a little short of its predecessor's glory, but it's better than most. We went up to the roof and took some pictures and indulged in some brief canoodling, because you just can't not canoodle a little when you're up there in the late afternoon sun and the weather is almost perfect, with just a little chill to it. Plus, there were ducks. Ducks who live in a clean little enclosure and hang out inside a little replica of the hotel.

From up high, Memphis doesn't look quite so broke and crimey. We stayed up there until we got ran out by a flock of red-shirted tourists. Adventurously (and probably stupidly), we ducked through alleys and found shortcuts to nowhere, since we weren't trying to get anywhere. Where we ended up was ambling along the riverbank, with the sun setting and the din from Beale growing. We found a nice bench to park ourselves on, and sat there for a long time. I took pictures of the fading orangey pink glow beyond the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge and listened to him think aloud about the process of diverting the Wolf River and how it might be done differently now. Engineer rambling is the best rambling.

There's a reason I'm drawn to dudes of this profession, ya'll. They're artistic without knowing it, or without considering the way they think to be artistic. But what else do you call a way of thinking in which you constantly look at something and see not just what's physically there to see, but how it got there and what can be done with it? This is second nature to artsy types, and completely foreign to the millions of other people, who see things just as they are and accept them at face value without giving them a second thought. That building just is, that bridge just is, this road just is. Most people only become aware of structures and their congruence with the topography when there's work being done, and even then, only as a matter of personal inconvenience. I mean, have you ever really thought about how you would build a major bridge if someone told you that you had to do it? They don't just grow out of the ground like giant steel potatoes. They have to be designed and planned, and done so with enough confidence in accuracy and reliance on math and the laws of physics to be reasonably sure that this thing that sounds ludicrous will actually work. Once you get past the incredible part of designing it, you get to the equally incredible part of physically building the thing. This extends to everything in our lives that's factory made, every mode of transportation without hooves, every tall building that doesn't collapse in a stiff breeze. The items that are so common and standard for us now and which are produced in factories using workers who are either unskilled or low-skilled...even the mechanisms of production for those things are constantly being tweaked, and those tweaks mean that some engineer is scratching his head somewhere and drawing diagrams and mumbling formulas, to make this work on paper first and be confident enough to risk hundreds of thousands of dollars of comapany money in implementing it. Consider it the next time you notice "Now With 30% More!" on a shampoo bottle.

Whoa. Got lost there for a minute. Anyway, the point is, Memphis is a cool town and it's made that much cooler with good company.

This photo is not from this past weekend, but a couple weekends before, when we heard there would be live wrestling wrasslin' in Selmer. How could anyone possibly pass that up??

The rubber chicken is apparently a big thing. You hold it up in the air and honk it when one of the wrestlers does something cowardly. Tamara suggested that this practice be extended to every sport/discipline, and I tend to agree. Or if you could just honk it when someone near you becomes unbearably lame. Honk, honk, honk.

Friday, February 17, 2012

'There is no sickness, toil or danger, in that fair land to which I go.'*

About every 52 minutes or so (approximately), I think of something I want to sit down and write about. Bishops vs. mandated contraception coverage, Alcorn County's ineffective partnership with Eat Healthy Mississippi, Whitney vs crack, bangs vs. no bangs. But then I have to do homework, or fold four pieces of laundry, or feed my sadly neglected cat, or shove some odd but nutritious combination of food down my gullet and call it a meal, because it's time to head out the door again already.

But tonight.

Since I happen to have all my homework completed for the next week, my laundry is over halfway finished, and my cat is well-fed....

..... it's time to go shop in Collierville.

Just typing that makes me feel all warm and glowy. The prospect of intentionally doing something I don't have to do fills me with giddiness. I may meet up with Megan for a post-shopping snack. I may fly solo. The point is, I'm not doing a damn thing tonight that would ordinarily fall under "priority." Tomorrow morning, I'll be at the gym for BodyPump at 8:00, and I will then conquer chorse and tackle making a heart-shaped, wheat-free, dairy-free pizza for my and Brett's Valentine's.

But tonight, I ride west alone.

If you need me, I'll be at the Avenue.

*Guess who's playing at the New Daisy next month. Yeah. I know.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Pep talk.

*this evening, approximately 6:10, in the church parking lot*

Brett: What now? You wanna hang?

Me: Yeah. But I've got a lot of homework.

Brett: That's cool.

Me: ....I think I'm going to drop a course.

Brett: What??

Me: Dude, I've got some kind of class five nights a week. I'm almost having to schedule brushing my teeth.

Brett: We mostly just hung out and wasted time this weekend.

Me: I know! I could have been studying. But I need some play time, too. I need that down time.

Brett: You could manage your time better and still have down time.

Me: Wait a second. Are you...are you disappointed in me?

Brett: Yeah.

Me: *stunned fury*

Brett: Relax. I just think you're a little overwhelmed and you don't need to be. You've totally got this. You're smart enough. You're organized. We just need to make a little better use of our hang time together.

Me: So if you're sitting there watching tv and I've got my nose up my laptop and I'm barely giving you any attention, you won't be offended?

Brett: Hell, no.

Me: Really?

Brett: Really. There's no reason you can't be productive at the same time you're with me. Has it been a problem when I've brought work over to your place and knocked it out while you're doing your stuff?

Me: ...No.

Brett: Ok, then.

Me: Ok.

Brett: Just think about it.

Me: I don't need to. I'm keeping the class.

*epic, can't-breathe hug wherein my toes left the ground for a minute*

Not dropping any classes.
And not missing out on any sweetness, either.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We're better than this.

Last night, I watched Food, Inc. You might recall the name. It came out a while back and made a stir. For some reason I can't remember, I didn't watch it.

I'm glad I finally did.

I've been eating clean for a couple years now, and I've made a lot of progress. My motivation has been mostly about improving health and healing the effects of a factory diet, not just for myself but for the people around me. It's not just a hobby. It's a lifestyle, and for me, it's segued into an education in nutrition and hopefully a career as a dietitian specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. So food's kind of my thing...but I've become more focused in the nutritional values of food than the food's sources. I still buy organic when possible, but I don't sweat buying regular meat. That's not how I started out. I used to go out of my way to find the highest quality animal products that I could: species-appropriate diets and humane slaughter practices were priorities. Watching this movie last night was a wakeup call, and I realized how much I've compromised my standards.

Well, that won't do.

I seriously almost started crying about this. I've continued to research the health merits of grassfed beef, but as a product. That was the flaw in my thinking. I kinda forgot that beef=cow. Egg=chicken. Pork=pig. This isn't just about health, not by a long shot. It's about stewardship. I don't remember when I started lowering the bar, but it's been raised back up even higher than ever.

I have no qualms whatsoever eating animal products. None. I personally believe they're an important part of a natural diet, and I'll be happy to back that up. But there is nothing natural about the way animals are raised for food in this country. We like to think of happy, healthy cows when we do think of the origins of our dinner. But if that steak came from the grocery store, the reality is that it didn't come from a farm cow. It came from a diseased cow that not only never ate grass, but rarely if ever even stood on grass. Throughout its life it stood and slept in a foot-deep slurry comprised of dirt and its own excrement. It was fed corn because corn is cheap and will quickly fatten any animal that eats a lot of it (see the 66% of American adults who are overweight, or the 34% who are obese, for a shining example of this). The problem with feeding corn to cows? COWS DON'T EAT CORN. They are supposed to graze on grass, clover, alfalfa. Cow stomachs are specifically designed to digest cellulose. Corn makes them very sick. It alters the pH and the flora of their digestive system. The result is a strain of e. coli that didn't exist until concentrated animal feeding operations did. To keep this sick, manure-covered animal alive long enough to fatten it, it's pumped full of antibiotics. Then it's slaughtered in a way that often only stuns the cow (so it's still alive when the skinning starts), dismantled, and the meat is then treated with -I'm not kidding here- ammonia in hopes of killing the e. coli that is present not only in the manure that was on the cow, but in the stomach contents that end up on the equipment. Hopefully, the toxic chemicals are enough to kill the bacteria that wind up on your plate, because, no matter what, there's shit in your meat.

Disgusted? Good. You should be horrified. E. coli outbreaks and antibiotic resistance are direct bite-you-in-the-ass results of deplorable stewardship. We're even feeding corn to fish.

The good news is that you have a say as to what goes in your mouth. You don't have to eat that meat. You don't have to eat produce that's been sprayed with Monsanto pesticides (the same swell guys who gave us Agent Orange). Understand that complaining will accomplish nothing. Your money will. Your wallet is the loudest voice you have. You don't have to support these practices. You do have options. Enough people choosing another way will force the industry to adapt and hold itself to standards set by consumers. Don't let corporations tell you what you will buy and eat.

Think about it.

Woe to the shepherds who only take care of themselves! Should not the shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you did not take care of the flock! You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. -Ezekiel 34:2-4.

Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm -- which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of American farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems. -Wendell Berry

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom. -Bob Dylan

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. -St. Francis of Assisi

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. -Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, January 09, 2012

There's always another point of view, a better way to do the things we do.

I'm just a human. There's so much I haven't figured out and won't ever figure out. I don't get what exactly comprises happiness, or what it is, just that it's completely real and really cool without being quantifiable.

For this girl, it comes in these forms:

  • being, finally, back in school

  • not apologizing for having no desire to be an accountant

  • doing well at work and learning to enjoy being a necessary cog in this odd, funny, sometimes frustrating machine

  • watching and feeling my body become healthier all the time

  • really great sales at Maurices

  • having Christmas with a man who will not only kiss me while I wear a Grinch turtleneck and reindeer antlers, but will do so while wearing antlers himself

  • spending New Year's with said man: we went to the movies (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), he got me a laptop for school, and we rang in the new year cuddled up at his house and watching Coming to America

  • giving up caffeine (mostly) and nicotine (totally)

  • relatedly, sleeping like a sedated ground sloth

  • the gorgeous neon orange yolk of a fresh farm egg

So, a third of the way through January, and no post-Christmas blues. I'm not sure when I would have time to be or stay blue, anyway. Everything is so fast-paced these days. I have class three nights a week, plus one night devoted to an online course (and homework), and the one night I don't have school, I have RCIA. This schedule requires me to workout in the morning, and I'm actually not bitching about that at all. I loooooove waking early, putting up my hair, and going for a run before the sun's up. It puts a better sense of structure on the whole day. Saturdays are for laundry and homework. Saturday night is my free night. And Sunday, my hip is usually attached to Brett's hip. He's working nights for a big installation throughout January, and Sundays are the only day we can really hang. Mass, brunch, and then being boo'd up on the couch, giggling and chuckling and braying, and occasionally watching whatever's on the screen...usually football or Tosh.0, because we're 11 year old boys. Or anything by David Fincher, because he's kinda the man. Discussions regarding spring break have begun. There will be a vacation. Oh, yes. There will be a vacation.