Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Parties

We had Christmas parties two nights in a row on December 11th and 12th thanks to the two places I intern with. It was so nice to have holiday parties to go to, they always get me in a festive spirit.

The party on Saturday night was held at the director's home. It was a potluck, and Bobby made our signature pumpkin chocolate chip vegan cookies- our friends call them "pillow cookies". We usually make them together but this time it was all Bobby.

Yet here I am, kind of implying that I deserve some credit. It's the proud way in which I'm displaying them. I should be ashamed.

On our way out the door. We had a great time meeting new people and catching up with some people we already knew through the organization.
The next night, Sunday, we headed to the party hosted by the other organization I intern with. They held it in their teahouse, which benefits their schools in Cambodia. They were serving mar-TEA-nis and lots of really good appetizers from the Chinese bistro downtown.
I really love the teahouse! It's such a calm and cozy atmosphere. It's been open for a little over a year and I'm excited to see what the future holds for them.
I'm kindly bringing Bobby a beer. I'm a teetotaler, so that drink in my hand is an innocuous mix of sprite and peach nectar.
It was also one of the co-directors birthdays, plus he and his wife (the other co-director) were celebrating 16 years of marriage. Lots of good things to celebrate that night :)

We ended it with mochi green tea ice cream, and then headed home. It was nice to spend leisure time with all the great people I get to work with. I'm excited for the next year of being a part of these awesome organizations.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


The world map above our dining room table.

In the next few months Bobby and I are going to be traveling to Jordan and Egypt with his parents, his sister, and his brother-in-law. As a person with an irrational fear of flying, the 12 total flights involved over a two week period kind of makes me want to dissolve into a puddle of terror. I've flown so many times in my life-my first flight I was maybe 2, I flew alone from California to Texas when I was 7, my mother worked for an airline and we flew every month, I've taken long trans-Pacific flights to Japan and back... and I still experience overwhelming anxiety and fear every damn time I have to get on a plane. Literally, as the plane door is closing I'm actually thinking "Welp, I had a nice life. Guess I'm ok with dying". As though I'm on some sort of deathtrap, instead of taking part in the safest form of transportation on the planet. It's ridiculous.

I look with longing and envy at the children who only know they don't like sitting in their chairs, and want to play, who aren't obsessing over every bump and sound. I despise the cavalier teens, burrowed into their seats in hoodies, i-pod earbuds firmly in place, so laid back and bored and just... whatever. Or the cool and collected business men and women in their suits, frantically typing on their laptops. They could be in their office for all it mattered. And then there's me- I'm gripping my armrest and sweating profusely, trying to calm my breath and not cry. Once we take off and we've been in the air for a bit, I get exhausted from being terrified and then I'm just stressed- barring a spike in anxiety accompanying any turbulence or strange sounds. And when we start to descend? I start cheering inside, so ready to land. When we hit the ground without exploding, I truly feel as though I've been given a new lease on life, as though I've been spared- "I made it!" I exclaim inside my head. So unbelievably stupid.

So on a lazy Saturday Bobby and I got all of our visa paperwork filled out, with me commenting every few lines "we are going to die", to which he would respond "no we're not". I had a weird mix of being excited to be going to Egypt and Jordan, and dreading the way in which we have to go there. Getting visa pictures at Walgreen's and writing my passport number over and over again in black ink really made it seem very real. I think I need to start preparing for this trip. I really want to be that person who is cool with flying. I found a website with all these little exercises and readings to help with fear of flying, and I am totally going to get a doctor to write me some sort of prescription that will calm my crazy ass down. If I'm going to be plummeting out of the sky to an inevitable death, I wouldn't mind being a bit out of it, you know? For the long haul from Dallas to Germany I'm thinking I might take Ambien and just sleep through it. Hopefully I'm not one of those people who eats in their sleep or doesn't fall asleep and then acts insane... although, at least I won't know what's going on, so, again, still serving its purpose.

Me, happy to be done with paperwork, probably right before I declared our inevitable death for the umpteenth time.

Bobby, smiling, probably right after assuring me for the umpteenth time that our deaths are not inevitable. I really don't know how he puts up with it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gender Biased Reasoning behind DADT

This was motivated by a discussion on Facebook, in light of the ruling to repeal DADT. We were talking about how McCain had mentioned that soldiers didn't need such "distractions". I found that interesting, and the more I thought about it, I began to see a pretty frustrating double standard of the way sexual assault and aggression is dealt with in the military.

It's interesting that all of this "no gays in the military" concern is often based in some sort of fear of aggressive sexuality, of unwanted advances, etc. To that I would say- take a gander at the sexual abuse, rape, and harassment that our female service members go through already. That's not something that "might" happen that you're afraid of, it happens at a rate that is higher than for civilians- much higher. One in three women report being raped while serving, and 14% of those rapes are gang rapes. So while everyone is wringing their hands worrying that a gay man is going to hit on someone he is stationed with and offend someone, female service members are actually, in real life, not theoretically, getting sexually assaulted and harassed. And yet instead of dealing with the the REAL, ONGOING, PROVEN problems when it comes to sexual harassment/aggression/assault in the military and the women who have to deal with it, there is all this projected hand wringing over maybes.

This mentality seems to imply that it's just par for the course for a woman to be raped or harassed, but apparently it's just sick and unnatural and terrible and far worse and "distracting" for a dude to get hit on by another dude, or worry about a guy having a crush on him. By all this talking about thinly veiled sexual aggression fears over what MIGHT happen, the fact of the real problem that is already going on is being either ignored, or is seen as being not as bad as potential male on male situations.

Just so I'm clear, it is NEVER ok for anyone to have to deal with unwanted sexual advances. It's not "easier" or "better" or "harder" being a man versus being a woman in those situations. I'm just saying this whole line of argument about "distractions" makes no sense to me. If these kinds of "distractions" are so terrible for unit cohesion, then why hasn't the military done more to protect its female service members? And to give them adequate counseling and care after being raped? Or to make it more difficult for this kind of thing to go on? This problem of military sexual abuse is so rampant, in fact, that the military now allows a woman to anonymously report a rape, without having to formally charge her attacker. This way, if she is afraid of accusing her attacker she can report the incident so that she can get medical care afterward- but often the doctors are untrained in rape trauma, which furthers the damage. All this is to say that if we're going to hand wring over the men having to suffer unwanted advances in a hypothetical future world, we damn sure should be doing more to address what's already happening now.

Which brings me to a logical conclusion question- if "distractions" or possible sexual advances are terrible enough to prevent gays from serving openly, shouldn't those who are against gays serving openly also be against women serving? At least their concerns would be consistent. Because right now, it kind of sounds like people are saying "the current sexual harassment and assault problems we have are ok, 'cause, you know, it's hetero-normative. But potential gay sexual harassment problems are wrong because being gay is wrong". It also sounds like they care more about men being protected from sexual abuse than about women being protected from it. Lastly, let's not forget that women can sexually harass men, stalk them, act violently against them, etc. We already have a mixed sex military, and thousands of cases of sexual abuse, so the concerns about sexual tension or problems with gay people serving are, sadly, redundant. If people want to think that such problems will only begin to exist when gay people serve openly, then they are willfully ignoring reality and being hugely insensitive to the experiences of those in the military who have been victims of abuse.

One of hundreds of articles on the issue of military sexual abuse can be found here-

In Which I Use Copious Amounts of Text to Explore My Quarter Life Crisis

Somewhere in New Mexico, September 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do next. Or, I suppose, what to do *now*. In August of 09 I was laid off, having just made my last monthly payment to pay off all my debt in this world, save some student loans. I had some money in savings. I had no mortgage to hold me in one place, and no more outrageous monthly debt payments that required me to take the highest paying job I could find, regardless of whether it was anything I was even remotely interested in. I had no children, nor even any pets, so I was only responsible for taking care of myself, which allowed for much more creativity and flexibility in where I lived, and furthermore how I lived- couch surfing, for example, is much easier solo than with, say, 2 cats, a dog, and a 4 year old in tow. I was young and healthy, so despite being unemployed I was able to get fair health insurance for about $100 a month. So I spent the last semester of school writing my thesis, furiously applying for jobs, and taking advantage of my unemployed status by moving to California to live in Hollywood with my good friend Jess. I bookended my California stay with a 3 week long road trip to get there in the first place, and wrapped it up with an Amtrak ride from L.A. to Seattle, then back down to San Francisco, then back to L.A. to meet up with Bobby and road trip back home to Texas in time for Thanksgiving and a final edit of my thesis. When I graduated in December of 09 with my hard earned masters degree- until my unemployment I had worked full time and gone to school full time- I was finally closing in on a job lead. It was not my dream job, but a very good paying job that would allow me to live in my studio apartment downtown, 4 miles from work, and pay off my student loans while saving to leave the country (I’d been planning a one to two year jaunt that had been scheduled to begin May 2010, but would now be pushed back to May 2011). After several interviews over two months I landed the job in February, and started training in March. And halfway through March? Bobby got a job in Colorado…that started in two weeks. Since you all know I’m living in Colorado now it’s not hard to know that I chose to move to Colorado with Bobby. Our original plan was that we’d be here one year. I looked for jobs (and am still looking for jobs) but our college town is rather small and jobs are hard to come by. So, I took on the two internships I’m currently working through, as well as the volunteer shifts with the no-kill shelter, plus online classes towards a post-grad certificate. I assumed I’d keep myself busy this year, and come May 2011 we’d leave the country...

But now? We’re kind of re-thinking that plan. Bobby has a very good job with a tech company, doing all sorts of crazy computer science software development things that I’m pretty sure are witchcraft, and whatever magic he’s doing with programs makes him very happy. It seems foolish, in this terrible economy, to exit the job market without another job in hand. Unfortunately his job is not work from home friendly at the moment, so that isn’t an option. All of this led to us hanging out in the hot tub for about two hours a week ago, talking about potentially changing our “one year in Colorado” plan. Now, it looks like we’ll be here another year. Which leaves Bobby in the exact same position, working for the same company, good to go and happy about it. And I’m happy for him. But as for me? Interning and volunteering keep me busy, but I’m used to being VERY busy. I mean, I’m the girl that took 4 grad classes while working full time, serving as the Democratic Precinct chair in Dallas, campaigning weekends for Obama, and dating 3 or 4 boys at once while going to the gym 3 times a week and also somehow managing to do things like shower and eat and sleep sometimes. I thrive on busy. And while this year I’ve been clocking around 30 to 40 hours a week between my internships, volunteer duties, class work, and housework/cleaning/errands, I miss being breakneck, productive, I-am-a-mistress-of-productivity watch me work and bow in awe at my organizational skills kind of busy. I get so much more done the more I have to do.

So, the point of this insanely long navel gazing post is that I’m now wondering what I need to do next year. When we were just going to be here for one year before skipping off to back pack through Europe and pick fruit on organic farms in exchange for room and board, a “just for now to make money” job was fine. But bordering on two years seems to be presenting itself as an opportunity to start making some grown-up choices about future careers. I find myself perusing the course listings at the local university to see what kind of a “this is what I am, so hire me” degree I can get. Mostly, I’m trying to get licensed as a teacher. I would always say- back when my leave the country plan was May 2010, before the unemployment spell that set it back a year- that I wished I had a teaching degree before I left the country, because then I could teach at international schools, instead of just teaching English. I actually really enjoyed teaching English, but most of what I didn’t enjoy was directly related to not speaking the same language as my students, and not being able to build a rapport with them very easily as a result. If I was, say, teaching social studies in Germany at an international school like my friend did, most of my struggles with teaching would be gone. Not that teaching is ever going to be easy! I’ve had a manual labor job, driving a forklift for 6 days a week, sometimes up to 12 hours a day in Kansas summer heat, and I’ve worked long shifts as a waitress under a despotic boss who didn’t understand things like breaks and lunch time, yet teaching left me more exhausted most days than either of those jobs. But it was a good exhausted.

So right now I’m spending hours researching Colorado requirements, and tests, and costs. But I’m also second guessing spending that much time on getting certified, because while I enjoy teaching it still feels very much like a “just for now” career. I suppose that’s fine though. It’s something I enjoy, and if it allows us to live in an apartment instead of a tent while traveling all the better. Although, is it weird that a part of me prefers the tent? Really all this comes down to the fact that, ironically, the problem is precisely what I detailed waaaaaay up there in the first paragraph- I have too many options. I don’t have anything that is swaying my decision one way or the other. Bobby was enamored with the idea of my world traveling trip from our first date, so I know he’s on board, and he’s really the only other human in my direct sphere of interaction impacting what I do. He’s also so very supportive of anything I want to do- from law school to teaching to anything I happen to be talking about at the moment. He understands that he’s set, and I’m still figuring things out. The problem is that it’s truly all wide open. And sometimes all that wide open space, the endless possibilities, can be overwhelming. There isn’t a big, blatant, “This is the right way to go” sign. There is no right answer. It’s harder than you might think to deal with all that open space. With no fences or roads or blocked off areas the freedom sometimes paralyzes me with indecision, because I can’t automatically ignore this area or that possibility due to x,y,z constraints. Nope, it’s pretty much all available to me. There is no right answer. There is no right answer. I just need to say it enough until I believe it. That way I can make a decision about what to do next without immediately thinking “but is that the right thing to do?”

This long ramble was inspired by this post at a blog I love-

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Second Hand Satisfaction

I think- I'm not sure, but I think- the fact that I am super excited about a $1.50 produce basket from Goodwill hanging from a $9 shelf means I'm a pretty low maintenance kind of gal...

Am I the only person who gets nerdily excited over cheap, sturdy, secondhand kitchen goods that make life more organized?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I had an epically bad break-up a few years back. Epically bad not because of the break-up in and of itself, but because of the nuclear fallout of bullshit, lies, and rumors that swirled around it for about two years after, culminating in a grand explosion of family and relationship drama with a storyline twist and surprise ending that could rival the best soap operas and cheesiest reality shows. The final twist did not, at all, involve me, but everyone assumed it did- and actually assumed I was somehow the twisted architect of all of it. Yeah. Maybe someday I'll tell you all about it. It's hilarious, in hindsight. Anyway, while it's all cleaned up and neat and tidy now, there is one lingering vestige of that time that remains...


Yeah, I know, that makes no sense, right? Here's the deal. The ex's oldest sister- whom I had never been close with, but whom I respected for being what seemed like a super mom- was into coupon shopping. Like, the CVS game I get things for free and get paid to shop I'm a master of home finances kind of coupon shopper. And the second oldest sister, with whom I was, at one time pre-nuclear fallout, quite close, introduced me to the coupon skills of the oldest. This overlapped, about a year later, with the epic storyline twist explosive ending of my relationships with everyone in their family, save one of my still closest friends, the youngest sister. But... that oldest sister? She writes a great coupon blog ya'll. So, I still check it. At first, I felt weird. But it's a public blog, intended for public use, so I say, whatever. I'm also lazy and don't want to clutter up my own blog roll, so I just use her links to other sites for more said coupon deals. Chick knows her shit, I gotta give her that. In fact, when I've taught coupon gaming to others, I've specifically recommended her blog because it rocks. I'm pretty sure oldest sister hates my guts, but I still respect her skills in this area. So, I don't feel bad for reading it. Should I? Is that weird?

(Oh, and of course now you all know I'm one of those people with the coupons...hope you don't think less of me.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Tree 2010

Last Sunday Bobby and I got a tree. Neither of us had any kind of Christmas decorations when we moved up to Colorado, so the idea of having to get everything down to the ornament hooks almost dissuaded us. In the end though, we decided it would be nice to have a tree, since it would be our only holiday decoration. We started the day off by having a late breakfast downtown at Snooze, a place we usually ditch once we hear the waiting time. This day we were in luck- only 15 minutes.

Bobby, hitting Snooze.

Me, dreaming about pancakes.

This place was awesome. Well worth the wait. And maybe next time we'll wait longer now that we know how good it is.... maybe.

Bobby, looking shifty, drinking his whiskey cider at 11:30 a.m. I found this particularly hilarious because Bobby rarely drinks at all, so it was even more absurd that he chose to have a breakfast cocktail. But it was hot, so that makes it a breakfast drink, right?

At first, we tried to go all eco-friendly thrift store chic with our tree trimmings- but then when we realized the thrift stores (we checked 3) were selling craptastic dinged up ornaments for 3 times what Target sold them for, our frugality won out. We picked up the tree and base at Loew's, and then went across the parking lot to Target and got a box of 50 ornaments, multi-colored lights, and a star for under $30. I love buying second hand for lots of reasons but when it's MORE expensive for LESS quality, well, I'm not going to cling to principles blindly.

While Bobby built the base I queued up a She-Ra and He-Man holiday special. Thanks Hulu!

The tree, in its new home. The rest of the pictures speak for themselves- let the trimming begin!

Well, wait, maybe this needs explanation- I'm not giving the tree a haircut, I'm cutting the baling... ok, back to pictures!

I love how our tree turned out. It smells great, looks beautiful, and it makes me grateful for sunsets at 4:30. More time to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Salt Lake City Thanksgiving Trip: Last Day and Temple Square Lights

Our last full day in SLC was Saturday. Jen was in the kitchen bright and early with Jacob, making a blueberry pie from scratch before she had to go in to work. He was in the kitchen a lot with her, and he loved it.

All ready to go in the oven! He's so proud.

He drank some of the leftover lemon juice. I laugh every time I see this picture- he's trying so hard to maintain a smile but that stuff is sour. Jen added sugar to it and he was over the moon.

We all went out to lunch after Jen went to work. I was hanging out with Tyler to let Mel and Josh eat their dessert. Plus, I haven't gotten to see him since he was a newborn, and now he's 6 months old. The next time I see him in May, he'll be a year old and walking!

All of us minus Jen and Damon at lunch.

Jen ended up being home by the time we got home, because her boss was awesome and sent her home after only a few hours. The boys played with Tyler on the couch...

and of course here we all are in the kitchen. It was a good place to hang out.

All this Tyler time was totally worth getting sick for 4 straight days as soon as I got home. Definitely worth it. Look at that face!

Bobby and I were leaving the next morning so I wanted to get a group shot. No one remembered to clear off/move the table so... just ignore that part :)

Seeing the lights on Temple Square was also on my to-do list, so we all headed out while Jen and Damon watched the kids. It was so pretty.

We woke up early Sunday morning and started our long drive home. The roads were pretty clear most of the way.

And we got a gorgeous snowy sunset. The last two hours were a bit rough, as it really started to snow hard and we were on smaller highway, but we made it home just in time. As I said above, I woke up SICK Monday, and by Tuesday I was a shaky, coughing, feverish snot zombie. Wednesday was not much better, Thursday marginally so, and just today I'm feeling back to normal. I'm so glad I didn't get sick in Salt Lake! I'm not going home to Texas for Christmas, so this was my holiday season family get together. It was a great trip and I'm really glad we were able to make it despite all the crazy weather predictions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Salt Lake City Thanksgiving Trip: Snowy Hot Springs Hike

Last fall, during our 3 week long Western U.S. road trip, Bobby and I stayed with Jen and Damon for about a week. During that time, Bobby took me to what he says is one of his favorite places- the Diamond Fork hot springs. It's about an hour one way to hike to them- two and a half miles, and you gain 1,000 feet in elevation. I loved them as much as he did, so making the hike was on our agenda from the start. I let Mel know a few weeks before the trip, and then we let everyone else know Wednesday night that they were welcome to come. I knew it would be hard to logistically make it work, between all the people and the two kids. In the end, they decided late Thanksgiving night that they would spend Friday sledding and hot tubbing with Damon's family in their condo in Big Cottonwood canyon, so Bobby and I set off on our own for a snowy hike. After 12 hours in the car on Wednesday, and sitting and eating all day Thursday, I was ready for some exercise!

The trailhead is about an hour from Salt Lake, just outside of Provo. With all the recent snow it was a gorgeous drive.

The road to the trailhead is off of the main highway, and then it further narrows into almost one lane. And yes, the road is completely covered in snow- it seemed to be the theme of our trip.

This is the first thing you see upon going through the gate at the start of the trail- you pretty much follow the river all the way up. At the start of the trail, you are walking alongside it, but about 1/3 of the way in you are up pretty high, and there is a steep dropoff to the river below.

I was so excited! It was cold- I think in the 20's- but I remembered the hike being very steep, so I wasn't worried about being cold for long. Plus it was jaw dropping how pretty the snow was. I like the hiking as much as the hot springs for sure.

I love how everything was white and frosty blue. I kept saying it looked like Narnia. It was funny because later than night, when we were showing each other pictures of our day, Mel said she said the exact same thing while they were sledding in the mountains.

The bridge is the halfway mark. Bobby is digging out his GPS here so he can check the mileage and elevation.

View from the bridge. I liked the sound of the river following us the whole way.

The river got steamy, and the trail began to be very constantly steep, so we knew we were close!

Hello old friend, I've missed you. We were lucky that there weren't many people there, just one other couple.

They took our picture for us when they got out to get dressed. Thanks nice stranger couple!

The view from the hot springs. It was awesome to be sitting in steamy water, with cold rocks to lean your cheek on, while you took all this in.

But you better believe that those clothes were COLD when we put them back on. By that point a family of 5 had come to the hot springs, and I had to gracefully change out of my suit under my towel. I'm pretty much a ninja, and did it without flashing anyone.

On the hike back down I took a lot more pictures. The trail is pretty narrow most of the way, but when it opened up there were these gorgeous clearings of fresh snow. If I had on snow clothes I would have snow angel'd all over the place.

Oh, hi there! I'm just being a creepy nerd behind a rock in the middle of the woods.

Halfway back down! At this point I'm fantasizing about dinner.

Bobby, on a rock, back at the trailhead. We made perfect time and finished before the sun set.

I love Bobby's truck. It's an old '91 Toyota, with funky gold rims and the paint is weathered off the hood, but it's dependable and has four-wheel drive. We wouldn't have had a Thanksgiving without it!

When we got back to Jen and Damon's the rest of the family was still at the condo, so we headed to the Red Iguana Mexican restaurant. Usually this would entail a 45 minute wait. But by some Thanksgiving miracle, we walked in and were seated instantly. This mole sauce made my night. Seriously, if you are ever in Salt Lake, try and put a hot springs hike and a meal at the Red Iguana on your list. You won't regret it.