Thursday, June 30, 2011

HERE HAVE SOME UPDATES

Every time I sit down to write this week (or even think about it), my mind wanders and bombards my fingers with too many things to say at once. I feel restless, almost. It's an odd feeling and I don't know what to make of it because I'm not sure why I'm restless. I have my theories, most of them related to previous postings, I'm just unsettled, or getting existential, something. It's almost the weekend and I don't want to spend it obsessing over anything. So we'll let it do a slow burn in the back of my mind until something becomes obvious.

I've mostly been content to read other blogs, to escape my own life for a bit, smile, think, tear up even. I've been keeping my Reader at under 500 and I'll consider that a small victory. When I'm not trolling around other people's corners of the Internet, I've been trying to work on my apartment. I bought a guilt-inducing bookshelf from Target, but I think it really makes my entryway look nicer. I just need to put some damn photos in the frames that are sitting on it. I've got some picked out, I just need to wait until the next pay cycle to do anything about it. (On that note: I really need to color my hair, too, but my current plan is to cash in all the damn bottles and cans in my kitchen, which SHOULD pay for a box of dye, so that will thus be my motivation to get that shit out of my house.) Ugh. Money.

In other news... I am officially down 28.4 pounds as of today. I KNOW, holy shit, right?! I'm having fewer and fewer days where I cringe when I look in the mirror (those will never go away, I'm sure) and even though there are some days where I definitely don't feel "thin" - I feel better. I'm getting there. I've got probably another 20 to go, to get where I want to be - I mean, in theory, I could go even further and be in my healthy weight range, but I'll be honest, I don't need to be superskinny, and also: I like my curves. However, I am not a tall individual, and I don't really think my frame is meant to carry this much weight - in fact, I think it's eager to unload it, which is why I think I've done this well this fast. I'm dreading the inevitable plateau, but it might not come for a while. Because I've been a huge Point Nazi over the last week to make up for a crappy week the week before, which I think is helping, when I've been letting myself be a bit relaxed over the few weeks prior... plus, well. I'm active, but not as active as I could be. So if I start to get stuck, I could take the cellophane off of my Jillian Michaels DVD.

Even so, I'm proud of myself - this is the longest I've stuck with anything and I really feel like it's sticking. Even on days where I'm not tracking (ie, family reunions, of which I have THREE in as many weeks' time, whereas: POTLUCK CITY), I'm still eating less and making better choices. I'll never be one of those health food aficionados and dammit I still love me a good cheeseburger, but: moderation. That's really all there is to it.

What's also fun is that in two weeks I have a wedding back up in my hometown (of which I'm fairly certain I wrote a post about but never posted, hmm) - the likes of which will be attended by a handful of people from my high school, including but not limited to my senior-year ex-boyfriend. There's something to be said for being down almost thirty pounds. PLUS I have a new pair of glitter shoes coming from Katherine that I am stupidly excited about. (After borrowing her blue ones for one night in Vegas I decided that I NEEDED to have my own pair. If you take a look at my wardrobe, you will see why.) (It brings out my eyes) (Don't judge me). It's almost as good as dropping a bunch of weight for a high school reunion. Which I still have another two years for so I will look fucking amazing by then.

I will then officially also be able to cross that off of my Thirty Things list (bet you forgot about that one, I almost did too!) - I mean, I'm not stopping at 30 pounds, but that was what was on my goal list (it has a nice symmetry to it - 30 pounds before 30), mostly because at the time, it seemed damn near impossible. I didn't even think I'd be able to do it. But here I am. GO ME.

HA, funny story, also. Speaking of weight loss. (RELEVANT SEGUE.) I was up at my sister's last weekend and I get this text message from my mother who is somewhere in the next town over at some festival or something or other and there's this guy there that she really thinks I should meet. My sister and I shared in some strenuous eye-rolling but she didn't give up and finally I told her to text me a picture. She actually did. Firstly, he looks a lot older than she was guessing, secondly, he's moving to fucking Colorado in, like, less than a month. WAY TO GO MOM. After the last debacle, we've decided that she's not allowed to play matchmaker anymore anyway... but my point, is that in her efforts to talk me up (God only knows what she says and what she thinks is appealing) she apparently decided that it was a selling point to announce how much weight I've lost. I'm like, WTF MOM. First of all... that makes me sound like I was a huge fatty to start with (which I WASN'T, I mean, I felt like it, but in the scheme of things, it wasn't THAT BAD) and secondly THAT'S NOT SOMETHING YOU TELL PROSPECTIVE DUDES. Seriously. I mean, any guys that read this? Is it a turn-on to you if someone is all "and you should meet so-and-so, she recently dropped a bunch of weight!" - NO. I don't think it is. Firstly, it's embarrassing because then you're all "Hi, I'm the girl who lost a bunch of weight because apparently I was super fat before" and secondly... it makes it sound like you're almost desperate or something. Maybe I'm just getting carried away but I would prefer that this weight loss NOT be a huge selling point to my awesomeness. Ideally, I would just show up and BE HOT, without the lingering disclaimer that I didn't used to be. Or something.

Parents just don't understand. /cue 90s Will Smith

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

*knock knock* HOUSEKEEPING!

Because at some point I'm sure someone will click through and go, "um, WTF?" - I've been jacking around with my template and tried to personalize it a little bit. And since I have NO WEB DESIGN SKILLS WHATSOEVER it's pretty much consisted of me shoving in crappy pixellated images here and there. It looks pretty shittastic. But as previously mentioned, I'm a little low on funds so I can't pay to have it fixed up all nice-like. I'll keep tweaking it but... eh. At least it matches the little cards I handed out at Bloggers in Sin City. So there's that. I don't know.

I also don't know how to get rid of those obnoxious gray drop shadows, because they seem to be tied into the template somehow. They annoy me.

Speaking of annoying, you may have noticed that I opted not to do the end-of-post ads. They were irritating me. (It took all of, um, a day for me to decide this). They're off to the side now where pretty much nobody will notice them, but whatever. I also signed up for the Amazon affiliate thinger which I think might be more useful because I tend to link to Amazon all the time ANYWAY so at least this way maybe I can profit on it. Anything beyond that, we'll see. Quite frankly, I'm still relieved at how much I was able to save by reducing my insurance coverage on my car, so I'm not quite so frantic to try to scrape some pennies together. I can come up with some sort of "game plan" now. Or something. I don't know.

So, that's about it, I guess. SHORT POST YAY.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Evolution

It's funny to watch how things change and grow over the years - specifically, relationships. Friendships, mostly. It's hard to think of friendships as a fluid, ever-changing entity because they're one of those things that you get to be so comfortable with, that you don't expect them to change. One day, you look at them with new eyes, and realize that they have. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Sometimes they're just different. It makes sense that they do, of course - we all change as people, so it would only make sense that everything around us would feel that ripple effect as well.

In an insomnia-fueled bout of introspection this weekend, I started thinking about my old friendships, the ones that pre-dated the becoming of Who I Am Now. I guess going up and spending time with my family in my hometown area tends to have that effect. I feel like almost a stranger when I am there now; I left without looking back and it's not home anymore. Only a handful of people from my life from that time remain in my life now.

My best friend from high school got engaged a few weekends ago and I found out from a text message from my sister, who probably saw it on facebook. A pang of unfamiliar emotion went through me; I guess I realized just how much that friendship has faded and disappeared. It's highly likely that I won't be invited to the wedding - why should I be? Our friendship lasted longer than most of my high school ties did - we went to the same university and hung out on occasion, but it became apparent that we were on two different paths and two very different people. Nostalgia can only support a relationship for so long, I think. It was a little sad to acknowledge that I'd so completely lost touch with someone I used to spend so much time with.

Meanwhile, my lifelong rival is now probably my closest friend from those days. And when I say lifelong, I mean, I remember the competition stemming back to first grade.We were the two smartest girls in our class - hell, we were probably the two smartest people in our class, period, and we were always trying to out-best each other. I'm not saying that to be vain - it was an uncontested matter of fact. We knew it, our classmates knew it, our teachers new it, the standardized tests knew it. In the end, I lost the valedictorianship to her, thanks to one solitary A-minus from a fucking art class. I got As in everything else - English, History, Math. Advanced math. Chemistry. Physics. PHYSICS, FOR GOD'S SAKE. That fucking art class. It ruined me. Had I known, I would have taken a damn study hall or something instead. Do you KNOW how infuriating at 3.999 GPA is?! It's maddening. Knowing that perfection is always out of your grasp. Art is so goddamn subjective anyway. Seriously, all these years later (eleven, if we're counting), I'm STILL BITTER. It was the spring of my freshman year and I knew that that fucking A- would fuck me over in the long run. If I'd have gotten that damn 4.0, maybe I could have gotten more scholarships in college, maybe I wouldn't be so in debt right now, maybe I wouldn't be ready to have a money-inspired anxiety attack, maybe I would be in such despair right now. The butterfly effect, right? Who even knows? Such is life. So I took 2nd place, bitter though I was, and Stacey and I both went on to be successful, productive members of society. It wasn't until much later that I even had any idea that I'd driven her ambition as much as she'd driven mine. That she saw me as the one to beat, that I was her motivator, as she had been mine. It was flattering, when I realized it. That the girl I'd been competing with my whole life saw me not only as her equal, but her competition, as well. Of course, she had to know that I was on her heels the whole way, hoping and praying that she'd stumble. (Sorry, Stace.) It was a mutually beneficial situation, though - without each other, we may have both given up. In such a mediocre public school district, it was hard to keep yourself adequately challenged. It would have been easy to coast. In retrospect, I am so grateful to have had her as my pacekeeper; I might have just jogged along aimlessly otherwise.

I don't really keep touch with many people from my class. I accept their friend requests on facebook, but I don't really seek them out.Why would I? They made me miserable. They made me feel inferior. I felt awkward and ugly and uncool. But at least I was smart. I had my niche, as cliche as it was. The smart girl. The overachiever. I was in every club and activity imaginable. (And people wonder why I run nonstop to this day - it's all I know! Being idle does not suit me.) I see a few, from time to time. My sister is married to one. I saw a bunch at their wedding, the ones I cared to see. She had to talk me into going to my five-year reunion so she'd have someone to hang out with. I actually ended up having fun in spite of myself. I sometimes wish I could see them more often, just so I can prove how awesome I actually am. I know I am one of the most changed people since high school. It was a gradual process, but I fit in my skin now. I still feel like I have something to prove to these people, even though I owe them nothing. I think they respect me more, now. They expected big things of me, which I never really considered before. I'm like an ambassador of sorts, carrying our flag, representing the place we come from. They accepted me more, now, too. I left that reunion no longer feeling bitter toward them. So I have that peace now. I still feel the need to impress them, of course, but I don't worry about them as much. My biggest concern is looking stunning at the 10-year reunion. I don't want to be the one who got fat.

But the two girls who I spent the most time with, I barely speak to now. We drifted apart, like I suppose I should have guessed. I'm bothered by how little it bothers me. I can keep tabs on them with all our fancy media these days. (They're both engaged now, incidentally. I happened to see that on facebook, when my curiosity led me to see what the other girl was up to these days.) I am losing track of most of the others - I don't recognize their new last names. I'll see them again; the ties that bind you in a small town never really go away. One girl at our 5yr likened it to being a family - we all grew up together, and we can't escape that. Our pasts are intertwined together, for better or worse.

I like that my (former) rival and I are now better friends than we ever were. We communicate on some of the social media platforms that our former peers probably don't "get". She offered to come fetch me when I was miserable and seemingly stranded at the Denver airport on my way to Las Vegas. I promised to return on purpose sometime, and I intend to. I would love to catch up and hear about her new life out west, what she's been up to over the last eight years, the details that don't make it to twitter or facebook. To reframe the past so we're no longer in competition.

To that end, my relationship with my sister is changing, too. I've long been jealous of those who are super close to theirs; I felt like we were wasting something. We were intensely competitve and fought a lot growing up, but mended those rivalries once I moved out and headed to college. I learned that she actually missed me and had actually looked up to me all those years, when really I thought she hated and resented me.

I recently gave her the link to this blog. Being dedicated though she is, she is starting at the beginning and working her way through the archives. It's like ripping my soul open and leaving it exposed and bare; I was so afraid she was going to judge me- what would she think of my stupid pseudo-relationships and chronic depression and insecurities? These are things that get pushed under the rug, that we don't talk about. But it is turning out different than I expected. She is relating to things I have written, she asks me questions. When I was at her house on Saturday, we stayed up until 1:30, talking about stuff we've never talked about before. It will take some getting used to, but I don't feel like I have to hide things anymore. And isn't that what a sister is for? To be that one person you can tell absolutely anything to? It only took us twenty some odd years to get to that point, but we've got a lot of getting old to do, so it's something to build on.

Slowly, slowly, too, I am trying to hide less behind my keyboard, and trying to say what's on my mind with my voice. I stumble over my words a lot, and I look off into space a lot. But I am trying to get out of my comfort zone, because I want to have those deep and meaningful conversations with the people I'm closest to. It's never been easy for me, but if I take baby steps, maybe I can get there. I can evolve into the person I have the full potential to be. I remind myself, too, that things like money, while frustrating, suffocating, all-consuming, is not really what matters. It's a means to an end, and that end is really not an end at all, but a continuous path of growth and change and people. It's always the people. To be completely lame, I'm quite rich in friends, and I am very lucky in that regard. I am surrounded by the best people I could hope for, which is why I will never leave this area, never uproot, never stray. I've got it really good, and I would be an idiot to cut and run.

Now that I've cheesed up this post, I, um, yeah. Awkward. FEELINGS. Ew.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Let There Be Angst

I fucking hate money. I hate it. I shouldn't still be living paycheck to paycheck, calculating everything to make sure I don't run into the red every other week. Most people's “big ticket” purchases that they have to think about, consider for a while before taking that pluge – they're usually in the couple-hundred dollar range. Mine is anything over $30. If I spend that much, on my total purchase amount, or God forbid, a single item, it sends me into a depressing guilt spiral. THIRTY FUCKING DOLLARS. I can't buy a pair of shoes or a nice top at Target without feeling like I just blew my paycheck on a flat screen or something. It's terrible.

I was doing okay for a while, I was comfortable, I felt good about it. The only thing that really changed was getting that new (to me) car. Granted, the old one would STILL be costing me money on repairs, and was rapidly becoming dangerously unreliable, so it was the right thing to do, but my insurance has skyrocketed and having to pay that difference every month is really starting to hurt. Fortunately, I was able to borrow the money from my dad instead of a bank, and he's extremely flexible, otherwise I'd be so fucked right now I don't even know. I would have to have gone without, I guess. A permanent pedestrian. The problem is, I need my car and the gasoline that goes in it. Public transportation in this town is useless for me, as it comes nowhere near my home and goes nowhere near my office. It's a crapshoot if I could even get anywhere I needed to anyway. Let alone when I needed to. I also need to be able to run across town to our other location at any given moment, anyway, so investing in a bike or something would be equally as pointless. Then what do you do when winter rolls around? Then what?

It doesn't help, either, that my presence has been requested up home for various family events for three weekends in a row. That's three trips to the gas station, and while gas has gone down a little, it's still $30-40 a pop.

I've been racking my brain trying to think of ways to get more money. (Simply asking for a raise at my job is, unfortunately, out of the question right now. I'm not sure it would get me anywhere anyway.) I keep drawing blanks. So I think about what can go, what I can cut back on.

There's not much I can do. I don't have cable, so I can't cut that. I'm on the cheapest plan I can get for my cell phone. I could drop my car insurance down to liability only but that makes me so, so nervous, especially having a previously salvage-titled car. I imagine repairs would cost a lot extra. It's infeasible for me to get a roommate because my apartment is a small one-bedroom; moving isn't even an option, because not only would I not be able to find anything cheaper in this town, but the cost of moving alone would probably bankrupt me. I could sell plasma, but that's maybe $40 a week, IF I could find time to go twice. It's been a while since I've gone, but I always feel icky after. I suppose I could quit Weight Watchers, that would give me that $40 a month back, but I've come so far and been working so hard... and I've been a lot healthier, in general, since I've started, so there's something to be said for that, too. Of course, if I keep going at this rate, at some point I'm going to have to reinvest in some clothing pieces, and that will be another expenditure. I hope the stuff in the back of my closet fits soon.

I don't pay for Internet, it's included in my rent. The only utility I pay is electric, and those bills are always less than $20, so I can't complain there. I have to pay my credit cards until they're done. I've defaulted on my student loans so many times they've probably got red marks all over my file, but when things get tight, I always have to let those slide until I have money again. I don't even want to think about how much I owe on those; it's just an insurmountable number and it makes me want to cry.

The problem is, my main job is so all-consuming, both energy-wise and time-wise, that I really have no other avenues I can pursue. I already technically have a second part-time job, but they've had to scale back our hours considerably. So I can't really even count on that, either. I think finding a third job would be the death of me. I could make an effort to sell the Pampered Chef stuff, but it's a lot of work to only walk away with about $30 commission. I can't get people to book shows and I've given up on trying.

I have nothing to sell, nothing I can make or create. I could try selling down my media collection but nobody's going to buy that shit on Amazon unless it's dirt cheap, not when you can stream on Netflix. I'd make maybe a dollar on each DVD and then I'd be left with nothing to watch. And it would only be a one-time quick fix. It wouldn't help the overall problem.

I could try to take some of my old clothes to one of the consignment shops and try to get some sort of commission of it, but last time I tried, I was turned down on everything - probably because my items were too large and frumpy for their skinny-bitch tastes.

Even if I would entertain the idea of getting a new job – which is NOT something I want to do anyway – what the fuck would I do? I've been out of design for too long to get a job there, so fuck my entire degree. It's useless to me now except for me to be able to say "yes, I did in fact go to and subsequently graduate from college." I'm about three versions behind on the Adobe Creative Suites, I can barely remember how to use InDesign and I'm a total hack at Photoshop. Illustrator is the only thing that would save me. If I wanted to get a job similar to the one I have now, for the sort of stuff I've come to specialize in, there are no other jobs around here that would even be close... even if there were, it's not something I could find in this economy anyway. I'm lucky to HAVE a job.

I don't know what to do. I've cut back on everything I can. I can barely afford to put anything in savings every month, so right now, I have nothing to even fall back on or pull from. I can't save money because every time I have money, there's something else that needs paid. I'm spending it just as fast as I'm earning it, and not even on frivolous shit. I'm glad I had a surplus of cash and a decent tax refund last year so that I could go to Las Vegas and experience that, because it sure as hell looks like I won't be doing that again, as heartbreaking as that is. Or go anywhere, for that matter, unless it's for work. I don't see any end in sight to this and the only thing that will change a year from now is that I will maybe, MAYBE, have my credit cards close to being paid off. The smart thing to do there would then be to throw that allotted cash at my student loans but I'm so far buried under those that it feels like it would be a waste of money, when I could use it on things like food and my bills. Immediate needs.

I just feel so helpless and, mostly, worthless. I have no monetary worth. This is where I've ended up and this is where I'm stuck. I know it won't always be this way – it can't always be this way, I refuse to believe that – but I'm already twenty-six. I should be somewhat established and settled by now.

I dunno. Poor me, tiny violins, boo-hoo, whatever. I'm sorry. I just kind of hit a wall earlier and it was either blog or curl into the fetal position. Though I can't promise I won't do that after I hit post.

[EDIT/UPDATE!]

I called my insurance guy over lunch and asked about how much it would cost to change to liability only... it should drop my monthly payments back down to what they were before, if not a little less. HUZZAH. He was insistent upon warning me that if I get into an accident, that they won't pay for it, to which I was like, "I'm aware, but if I get in an accident, it probably won't be my fault because everyone in this down drives like an asshole and I'm one of of the few [comparatively] decent drivers in this town and I NEED MONEY TO LIIIIIIIIVE."  (I think I may have actually said "yep, I know.") It makes me kind of nervous to remove that full coverage, but I've been driving with liability-only coverage for TEN YEARS and was just fine. One of my friends at work pointed out that, the beauty of having a salvaged car is that they have to fix it up really, really well in order to be able to resell it, so it's probably in better shape than some random used car that I would have gotten elsewhere. So maybe it wouldn't cost too much to repair. At least this way, I can start putting money into my savings account so, God forbid, something DOES happen to my car, I can at least AFFORD to fix it. So, there's that. Maybe it will be enough to get me by for now.

Steph's got me really wanting to do some freelance photography now... I don't know how many times she had to beat me over the head with the idea before I actually decided to consider it as being something viable. I've been taking pictures almost as long as I've been writing (if not longer) and it's one of the other loves of my life, I don't know why I haven't tried to do more with it. I could always try to matte up some of my existing photos and sell those on Etsy... if they don't sell, well, it's not like I'm out anything worse than not trying. If they do, then YAY. They got a lot of compliments the time I took them to a show but nobody was really buying that day, in general. I might need to borrow some more sophisticated equipment (even though my little Canon takes AWESOME pictures, I don't think anyone would take me seriously if I showed up with it) and see what (or who) I can practice with to build up some sort of portfolio.

It's truly amazing how much just a little spark of hope makes a difference. I might get through this after all.

I mean, I'll probably get into a fender-bender on my way home now that I've lifted my insurance coverage a bit, but hey. At least I won't have to eat Ramen for a week.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

(Insert Something With The Word "Babies" In The Title Here)

Reading Terra's post about the choice to not have kids got me thinking (again) about my own stance and reasoning for not wanting to breed. (Go read it, it's awesome, it's what I would have written if I were as eloquent as she is.)

I would like to preface all of this by: I respect people that have kids, I truly do. It's a huge and wonderful thing and they're probably better people than I am. This is about me and my hangups and my decisions, selfish as though they may be. Don't throw things at me.

It surprised me that she receives so much pushback when she tells people of her choice not to have kids. I mean, I tell people that, and they largely discount it, probably because I'm STILL SINGLE OMG and then they always patronizingly tell me, "oh, you'll change your mind." Yep. I will hang up a permanent "closed for business" sign on my uterus for all time, just to spite you. You don't know me. The only one who does know me, is me. This is a huge, life-changing decision, and I will be the one who decides it, thankyouverymuch.

I guess people just don't know how to react when you choose something they didn't. Just as the people who want and love kids can't imagine why you wouldn't want to have kids... I have a hard time imagining why people DO. I get that it's supposed to be this extremely rewarding experience, blah blah blah, and someone has to perpetuate the species (though, dear lord, LOOK AT US. We'd probably be doing the universe a solid if we just stopped reproducing RIGHT NOW.). I understand all of the reasons for it. I just don't think it's something I want to participate in, myself.

I don't hate kids. I like other people's kids. Once they're old enough to be interesting. Babies are cute, sure, but they don't do anything but sit there, throw up, cry, and poo. YES PLEASE SIGN ME UP FOR ONE. They drain your finances and require constant attention and monitoring. They are exhausting. I would happily pass on this stage. I like older kids. I mean, I coach softball. I can't hate kids that much. It's actually my softball girls that make me think that maybe I might change my mind someday. They all worm their way into my frigid soul and make me feel like a better person. I just don't know what to do with the littler ones and I feel that whenever I do interact with them, I'm usually patronizing and ridiculous. If they're under a year old, I am terrified to hold them for fear of damaging them. Also, I like being able to give them back. That part is key.

I think my problem is that I didn't quite inherit the maternal gene that I was supposed to. Like I'm broken or something. Like Terra, I don't hear my biological clock ticking... I'm not even sure if it's plugged in. Just a flashing "12:00" in ominous glowing red digits.

I've talked about this not-wanting-kids thing on here before. I've maybe shared some of my reasons, I don't remember and I don't want to dig for it. Some are selfish, some are practical. (The practical ones are usually what I give people - they don't judge you quite as harshly.) A lot of them have to do with fear.

Fear of being off my antidepressants for nine months. Fear of slipping into a suffocating post-partum wasteland after. Fear for my own mental health and sanity. Fear of losing my identity. Fear of being miserable for almost a year, because my body tends to be somewhat fickle as it is, and I've learned how to deal with it, but throw in a new set of complications and hormones and I would turn into a timebomb waiting to self-destruct. I get that pregnancy isn't pleasant nor is it supposed to be... but that's a LONG TIME to be uncomfortable in your own skin. Don't even get me started on all my psychological issues about body image and self-esteem. I'm sure those would resurface with a vengeance.

My biggest fears, though, are much broader. I can't imagine being in charge of someone else's life. To be responsible for another human being. To have that blank slate that you have to mold into a moral, respectable person that doesn't choose "serial killer" as what they want to be when they grow up. How? How do you do this? How do you instill everything you know about the world into your mini-you? It blows my mind, really. It's a gradual thing, I know... but I am a person whose world heavily revolves around to-do lists and specific tasks done at certain times. Patience is not one of my virtues. (Which, in itself, is a huge problem.)

Financially, there is no way in hell I'd be able to support a kid. I can barely support myself. Granted, one would hope that if I were to embark on this endeavor, I'd have another half who would be another-halving the monetary aspect of it, but... yeah. I don't want to have to live off the system. Which right now would be my only choice, and even then, it probably wouldn't be enough.

I just don't think I'm built for that lifestyle anyway. I've been pegged as the "career woman" in our family and quite honestly, they're right. I have a lot of ambition stored away in me, even if I don't know what I want to do with it. I want to live my life full of crazy passion and spontaneity and trips to Las Vegas and unwashed dishes and sleeping in on Saturday mornings, to be able to take off for the weekend without even having to tell anyone (though I usually do, because I like someone to know where I am.). I like being free, even if it does get overwhelming sometimes. I like my life as it is, and where it's headed on this particular trajectory.

I can't get excited about smudgy fingerpainted drawings or "jam hands" (quoth Elliott from Scrubs)(sorry, I can't find a link, so I'm just going to assume you know what I'm talking about) or projectile vomit or the horribly soul-sucking Thing that is children's entertainment. Can't do it. I draw the line at Disney movies, I love those, but I can't deal with anything involving bright colors and obnoxiously grating sing-along songs and overly cheerful grown adults in strange costuming who, seriously, this is your life? I hope they get paid well.

I digress. My point is, I don't feel like I need to shove a tiny human through my ladybits in order to still have a valid and meaningful existence. I'm sure, if I had kids (and I reserve the right to change my mind someday, you never know), I would do just fine. I'm so competitive and such a perfectionist that I would totally feel the need to be the Best Mom Ever. Clearing my fearhurdles is the biggest thing... that, and being able to take a breath and accept having to sacrifice my fabulous single-girl lifestyle for a greater good. I'm too young and immature to do that yet. I don't know how people younger than me are doing this without blinking an eye. IT'S TERRIFYING TO ME, why is it not terrifying to them?! Then again, they probably have that maternal gene that I don't. I barely feel like I'm mature enough to be in the age bracket of people-getting-married. When my mom was my age, she was having her second kid. I can't even imagine that. We're in such different places.

I get that society has changed. People are getting married later, they're having kids later. That emphasis about Doing More (I think I already linked my post about that somewhere, I AM TOTALLY NOT EVEN KIDDING YOU, I THINK I AM HAVING AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS THIS WEEK, these things keep coming up in my brain like a broken record. I mean, this blog is rife with these types of crises, but this week in particular, it's crazy) that is placed on us... it's a lot of pressure. It's a lot of pressure even just doing it by yourself. Throw in a marriage and a mortgage and a kid or two and the idea of it makes me want to hide under my blankets. I can't do it. I like to think I can do it all, but I really can't.

And I really don't like being made to feel inferior about the whole damn thing, either, thanks. I can recognize my limitations and I think that in itself is a pretty admirable thing. Some people can't. Some people choose not to. I don't think it works out real well for them.

Lastly (oh good, we're almost done)... just because I don't want kids, doesn't mean I want to end up alone, either. I would still like to find somebody, get married. Build a life that may or may not end up with kids. Marriages without kids are just as valid as those that have them. It's another reason it makes me so angry when politicians use that as an argument for opposing gay marriage. NOT EVERYONE WANTS KIDS, OKAY? Does that mean I can't get married, because I don't plan to have kids? No, it does not, so STFU already. Plus it is hurtful to those that can't have kids but desperately want to. You are invalidating them, too. (Wait, this is sounding familiar... oh yeah: this post.).

My point is: I'd still like to get married and be happily domestic (well... as domestic as I get, anyway) even though I don't want kids.

I shall leave you with this quote from Roger Ebert that I pulled from his blog, which isn't totally about movies and is frequently very interesting and insightful, I keep bookmarking various posts of his, for future reference, I don't know.

Anyway, the bolded emphasis is my own:

The biological reason we fall in love may be to encourage reproduction. Yet why did nature provide homosexuality if that is the only purpose? Why do people marry with no prospects of children? Babies are not the only thing two people can create together. They can create a safe private world. They can create a reality that affirms their values. They can stand for something. They can find someone to laugh with, and confide in. Someone to hold them when they need to be held.
- Roger Ebert, on his blog

Babies aren't everything. And I've long ago forgotten what the point of this post was other than to support Terra and her post and chime in with my own reasons for not wanting to have kidlets of my very own. Everyone that chooses their own path has their own reasons for doing so, for reasons that are legitimate to them, even if they don't make sense to you. If it's not your life and doesn't affect your life directly, then just hold your peace. We get choices for a reason. And other peoples choices are allowed to be different than yours.

On the bright side, if I ever change my mind, I've got at least three maternity dresses that I bought at Target when I was at the peak of my weight gain, so I've got a head start there...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I need a better DJ Name...

So, the new thing is apparently Turntable.fm, which I hadn't heard about until one of my chronic early-adopter coworkers told me about it on Tuesday. The gist is that you can DJ songs and just go down the line of the DJ table and it will play the next song in everyone's queue. Your room can then "awesome" the song (which gives you points and simultaneously makes your avatar start jamming out... because I'm a dork, I love my little red-haired pigtailed avatar and watching her bob her head) or "lame" the song (which if enough people click "lame" your song will cut off and your turn is over). I watched/listened for a little bit yesterday before jumping in and DJing myself. (I'm always self-conscious that people are going to hate my music, and judge me accordingly? I don't know.)

This really isn't something I would have found or cared about on my own, but the fact that a handful of my coworkers use it makes it really fun. We've got a couple other local social media guys that hang out in our room too (see how I just took part ownership in it?). Today we are doing a Color Theme where all the songs or artists must have a color in their name. It's super fun. If you're bored, stop on by our room - it's the 3 Guys from Iowa room. I'm going to be DJing until I run out of color songs.

All you need is a facebook friend that's already in, to get in. Otherwise you have to wait for an invite. If you're friends with me, come on in!

Screenshot taken during my last turn. I'm the one in the middle with the spotlight on me.


Umm.... the end? This is why I don't usually blog about this sort of stuff. Heh. ABRUPT ENDING IS ABRUPT.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Losing My Direction

I don't usually get in a weird funk like the one I seem to currently be in unless I have for whatever reason managed to not take my meds for a few days. Seeing as how I have been quite diligent in this regard, I have no idea what's causing this or what "this" even is.

I suspect it's something rather superficial and very emo.

I feel like I've been wandering in a haze for a while now, and it's finally starting to chip away at me like some sort of flesh-eating fog (that was a thing, right? Stephen King maybe? I didn't make it up. I don't know. EXISTENTIAL FOG IS EXISTENTIAL.)

I suppose it's normal, at this stage in one's life, to stop and look around and ask “what the hell am I doing?”

The problem is, I am not doing anything wrong. I am actually quite content with where I'm at in life. Maybe it's just because I'm a product of my generation, where I'm being told to do more, be more, live bigger, live my best life, to do everything.* It's a lot of pressure. I feel inferior to the people my age who have accomplished so much already. Who are doing the big things, swallowing their fears and taking that leap. Who relocate across the country because they can. People who tell convention to fuck off because they're doing it their way. People who live their dreams every day.

*Granted, it's better than being told to just fucking hurry up and get married and pop out some babies already, because my place is in the kitchen. So there's that.

When I think about it, it makes me feel so small. What if I AM living my best life? What if this is the best I'm capable of?

I've been taught never to settle. Whether it was something I taught myself once long ago, I can't quite tell you. I've always been too hard on myself. Always pushed too hard, had to be the best, had to be perfect. I was the only one that expected high things from myself... no one else. My family never once set any unrealistic expectations or put any pressure on me. I was left largely to my own pursuits of excellence, traveling at my own breakneck speed, telling myself that I wasn't there yet, wasn't quite good enough.

But when is it good enough?

Am I settling now?

I always shrugged off the fact that I didn't have a five year plan, a ten year plan. Life is unpredictable and you can never really know where it will take you anyway. At first, it made me feel spontaneous and liberated. Now, it just makes me feel lost and confused. I don't know where I want to be in five years. I don't know if it's because I genuinely don't know, or because I am scared to try to define it. If I set a definite goal, carve it in stone, even write it in ink, I'll have a marked milestone that will result in a measurable failure. I already fail at too many little things (not saving enough money each paycheck, eating too many Points every day, not fitting in time to exercise, not listening to my messages in a timely manner, not spending enough time with my parents/grandparents, not putting myself out there, not dating, not doing this, not doing that, the list is endless, really)... I already beat myself up over those, I don't even know what my shaky confidence would do if I let myself down on a grander scale.

So, yes, maybe: I am afraid. There, I said it.

I don't know what I'm afraid of, so I can't face it. I don't know where I want to be, so I can't outline it. I don't know what path my life is supposed to take, so I can't follow it.

I'm stuck.

Maybe THIS is my quarter-life crisis, after all. For as many people as will tell you that it's a bullshit concept, there are just as many more that will tell you it's a real thing. An honest-to-God period of transition and confusion. I may have had episodes before, but at least I knew where I was headed: graduate college, find a job, no, not that one, a better job, okay, done. Now excel at that job. Great.

… now what?

Do I define myself in terms of my career? I've got a good thing going with my job. I've made a few lateral moves but I'm poised to maybe go somewhere. I'm not making as much money as I'd like, but can't everyone say the same thing? I feel bad complaining about that, even, when the economy is so shitty and people can't even find a job. Let alone one that they like. So I'm especially lucky in that regard, it just doesn't maybe feel like it when it comes time to pay the bills.

Any dissatisfaction I have comes down to this: I'm not getting paid to do what I love most. I mean, I love what I am getting paid to do, but it's not the same thing. You know it's not, and I know it's not.

Granted, nobody's going to pay me money to fuck around on the Internet or write shouty and sometimes incoherent blog posts. (I mean, if someone out there does want to, CALL ME.) Nobody wants my mediocre photographs and I'm not crafty enough to make anything people would want. My design skills are rusty at best and I can never in good conscience ask someone to pay for a shitty design. (Although if we circle back to me being my own worst critic, maybe it's not that bad. I gave out verbal disclaimers to all the cards I handed out at BiSC – I can't remember the psychological term for that, where you degrade yourself before anyone else can have the chance? – that they were crappy, I threw them together at the last minute, etc... and, honestly? People were complimenting them. As stupid and lame and sappy as it is, it kind of made me want to cry happy tears. I was apologizing for something that maybe didn't suck after all.) So, I don't know. I have nothing bankable except my insanely back-breaking work ethic. I will work hard and I will do a good job. The “what” is unimportant. If you ask me to do it, I will, and I will do a damn fine job of it.

Just... not anything for myself.

My soul is only happy when it's creating something. I realize I don't need to be getting paid to create; in fact, if I were, it would probably take away some of my intrinsic joy in the creation of it. However, I wish there was a way I could at least profit a little bit, so I could spend less time working and more time creating. More time just being.

Less time wanting to crash as soon as I walk in the door. Seriously, how can a desk job be that exhausting? But it is. I've especially been feeling it this week.

I frequently get told that I'm too young to work this much. Perhaps they're right. But what else am I going to do? It's depressing to come home and sit around with only a laptop and a cat to keep me company. If I'm going to putter around not doing anything, I may as well be productive.

So where does that leave me? Nowhere. I've talked myself in a circle and I'm no closer to solving my anxieties than I was when I started. I'm still as uncertain as I was before, still feeling as incomplete as I was before. Still feeling as useless as I did before.

It's that helpless, useless feeling that makes me want to stay in bed and never get out. Where it would be easier just to curl up under the covers and let the world pass over me, pass around me, forget that I am here. It worries me a little, because I recognize that feeling as a sign of trouble. It's my indicator. Depression is about to kick my ass again.

And I don't really know how to fix that, either.

What about you, Internets? How did you find your way?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Whose Heart Is It Anyway?

"Good artists copy. Great artists steal." - Pablo Picasso

If I were to have ever gone into the field of law, I would have specialized in intellectual property law. My senior year at ISU, we had a guest lecturer come to one of our design classes and explain the way intellectual property law worked, how copyrights worked, proving ownership, when something was an infringement, how do you even "own" an idea, etc. I scribbled a ridiculous amount of notes and was absolutely fascinated by the whole thing.

Being in the creative field, it's something you are always - always - aware of. Nobody likes to have their ideas or designs (or words) ripped off. Especially if someone else profits off of them. Hey, that's mine! If anyone should be making money off of it, it's me! But it's so, so hard to protect content, especially in this digital era we live in. For the most part, people are too stupid to learn how to attribute something, which is a large problem in and of itself, but people are also inherently greedy, and those with less of a sense of integrity are not above borrowing for their own gain. It's always an uphill battle to fight, but it's so important, too. Truth, justice, etc. I don't like seeing people get away with shit like that. (Or, just be like Disney, and assemble the Best Legal Team Known to Mankind... they are notorious for being ruthless with copyright infringers.)

It's also important to know the rules, because everyone has a client that wants to borrow/steal an idea of someone else's that's obviously an infringement - and you have to not only educate them on why That Is Wrong, but also to cover your own ass.

Which is a long, roundabout lead-in to the specific example I wanted to talk about today.

I'd heard about the big Thing over Urban Outfitters supposedly ripping off this Etsy seller and her "I heart [state]" necklaces. I was all set to join the torches-and-pitchforks brigade... I mean, how could I not? Damn the man! How dare they! Furious Exclamations of Wrongdoing!

I about keeled over at the cost of her necklaces (I know, I know, they're not THAT expensive, but please keep in mind that I buy most of my jewelry at Target because I am POOR and to me, $55 is a lot to spend on a piece of jewelry) but I favorited it and pinned it and decided I would come back to it on an occasion in which I had a random chunk of money that needed to be blown on something superficial. Only it wasn't superficial - it was a STATEMENT.


The heart is in the wrong place, of course, but that can be moved, I think...


The other night on Twitter, Doniree had linked to the Minnesota necklace and we both squeed over how cute they were and that even though they were expensive I wanted to get one on principle... then Katherine chimed in and was like, "hey, guys? She's not the only one with that design." Which caused me to kind of blink at the screen for a minute. She wasn't? Then how could she be raising such a holy war against Corporate America, if it wasn't hers in the first place?

I suppose it made sense, and that she just happened to be the one that all of the news stories had linked to, but for some reason it temporarily broke my brain. I joked that I was wondering if there was a cheaper vendor that had the same thing, and Katherine probably gave me the side-eye and was like, art = money or whatever. I'm just a cheapskate. I would never try to undervalue someone's art. But the fact that there was More Than One and only One was Getting the Attention was something that I filed away in the back of my mind (where a lot of thoughts go to collect dust. It's a scary place in there.)

THEN, I read this post and this post on Regretsy (which is a parody/derivative site in and of itself, but they know that, and they own it, and don't claim to be anything otherwise, even though they themselves are kind of profiting off of the ideas of others), and then my brain kind of exploded a little bit more. Because they had such very good points. Sure, Urban Outfitters was probably in the wrong, but the ultimate question is: who are they stealing from? If not Truche, then who? Who had done it first?

Now, we're all a bunch of saps and we love our states with some kind of ridiculous devotion (hell, I love Iowa, even though I'm sure most of you probably wouldn't, which is also why I drool all over everything that Raygun puts out)... and we like to have evidence of traveling to different states. Which means: America eats that shit up. We buy stuff to represent our state... and the we buy things in other states to remind us that we liked those too. I am a HUGE SAP for cheesy souvenirs. I admit this freely. And I know I'm not the only one.

So, it's not at all surprising that people would make a damn necklace in the shape of a state. First of all: nobody owns the rights to that shape. It is what it is. Somewhat arbitrary border lines. Whoever invented the state probably owns it. (I don't know what the term I want is. Founded? Prospected? Claimed? Whatever.) Secondly, nobody owns the heart shape. Or the phrase "I heart...." because WE ALL USE IT. If anything, we can trade it back to Milton Glaser, the designer who created the ubiquitous "I heart NY" graphic that gets reproduced on everything, everywhere, by everyone, and parodied and borrowed so many times that I'm surprised he hasn't sued the entire country. [Graphic design nerd alert.]

It's also not uncommon for multiple people to have the same idea. Usually, someone else just beats you to it. I mean, to be fair, once one of the sellers realized that someone else was already doing it, they should have backed off. It would have been the ethical thing to do. The Regretsy post even states that now that she knows she wasn't the first one to sell this particular design, it is unethical for Truche to keep selling them herself. But you know she won't stop. And you know she's made a metric fuckton of money since this whole pot got stirred.

I don't really know what my point is, other than (a) be careful to have your facts before rounding up angry hordes otherwise you will all look like assholes (see also: the great non-Rapture of May 2011), (b) don't steal on purpose even if Picasso says it's ok (c) sometimes people fuck up.

But if you do fuck up, and you KNOW you've fucked up, at least try and be a decent person and do the right thing.

Even if the right thing might mean you don't make a metric fuckton of money.

Yeah, right. I know nobody will take that seriously.

Honestly, though. We're going to go 'round and 'round forever in the "whose idea is this" game. Which should be a lesson unto ye: ALWAYS find a way to document the date that you came up with your idea, should you need to prove it later. Not that there aren't ways for other people to manipulate that sort of data (I AM SO TRUSTING OF HUMANITY, CAN YOU TELL!?) but the best thing you can do to protect your creative endeavors is to, well, firstly, back up EVERYTHING, but also try to keep everything dated. I know, it's a huge pain in the ass, but this is what we've come to.

Granted, a little national attention never seems to hurt anyone. It looks like Urban Outfitters has either removed all the options OR sold out of everything except Italy (and, to be fair, it sounds like the latter, because in their official statement, they took the same position: it wasn't Truche's original design and so they have the right to sell it too, nah-nah-nah), AND Truche herself is rolling in probably more orders than she knows what to do with. And the more people that realize she wasn't necessarily the original, the more they might try to search for other sellers/options. Which means, potentially, everyone could win just a little bit, in this case.

So, what does Truche's competition look like? Is she going to "win" based solely on the name recognition that she now has? Is she going to use that momentum to fire off cease & desist orders to all of the other sellers who have something similar (although who, in all likelihood, may have had them first)? Sometimes, whoever yells loudest is the one that that everyone listens to, whether they're right or not. Is she going to end up looking like a huge ass? Or is she just going to take the publicity and run with it (which is what I would do, if I were her.) I noticed today that she is going to be temporarily closing her shop so she can catch up on orders. Poor victim, indeed.

Even if she isn't necessarily the original (and who the actual original is, we may never really know)... is she the best?

I decided to solve this completely subjective scientific inquiry with my mad online shopping skillz. I browsed the other sellers, both linked to from the Regretsy article and also by my own searches. At the end of the day, since the idea does not seem to be proprietary to any one person in particular, what I wanted to find was the style and craft that I liked the best. I mean, sure, I'd like the price to align with my budget, but I'm not one to begrudge an artist the price for their time and effort.

As with most things in life, RESULTS MAY VARY. I'm still leaning towards Truche's version, probably because I did see that one first and so it became the yardstick that I was comparing against, but there are some other sellers out there offering similar quality and various price points.

(Clicking on the image SHOULD take you to the listing if you want to buy one for me, but sometimes technology hates me.)


I like this artist's style quite a bit... very smooth and polished, a larger heart. She didn't have an Iowa though, so I'd have to have it custom made. Same price point, $55.



I like that they included Iowa in their offerings, but I'm not sure I like this one as much. I'm on the fence about the hammered-metal look anyway, and the heart is kind of tiny. This one is only $40, though, and the heart is situated in the proper geographic location. ;)



These are super cute (she mentions Iowa in the listing, even if it's not in the picture) and I do like the type element to these. AND they are only $28 which is the closest to being in my budget. And so far, the only one I've seen that has utilized letters instead of the hearts. So that makes them a bit more unique, in my mind.


Another option, again, custom request required. It's cute, but I'm not really sure it matches my aesthetic? It's very raw and dark and industrial-looking. Then again, I'm starting to own a lot of dark colors (THEY'RE SLIMMING!) so maybe it would... Hmm. Except these are $68 and even MORE out of my price range, so... never mind. [EDIT: Oh lord, that's in CANADIAN dollars, which means it's even MORE expensive in USD... dammit.]

Lastly... the cheapest option and possibly (?) one of the more original ones out there, this one is made of painted wood. You can't really beat $10 for the price... I'm just not sure if maybe I would prefer one of the metal options? Then again, this might get me by until I can, you know, AFFORD one of the metal options.

What do you think? Do you support Truche or is she just as guilty as Urban Outfitters?

More importantly, which necklace should I start saving up for?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saturday Night's Alright (For Vlogging)

GUYS. I made a vlog last night.

Or something that kind of resembles a vlog.

I apologize for this hot mess of cinematic atrocity, profusely and without end. It's terrible. I'm acknowledging that outright, so you don't sit and whisper mean things to each other about it. I realize this. There's just nothing I can do about it.

I'm actually going to blame Ashley for claiming that vlogging was “life-changing” and Jenn for being all enthusiastic about the 20sb Vlog Day (which I ignored... until I saw everyone else's... and we all know how I feel about being left out of things.) So I'm only... what, ten days behind everyone else? Meh. FASHIONABLY LATE.


There's some weird static or something throughout most of it and I have no idea where it's coming from or how to make it NOT BE THERE, plus I wasn't really talking loudly enough, possibly because I felt weird talking to my computer, I can't quite say... Either way, it's really hard to understand. BUT, I'm too lazy to re-do it and I invested five minutes of my life into making it and another ten into trying to watch it and because I love you so much, I'm going to try to transcribe it below. Because there are parts where I can't even understand what I was saying and I'M THE ONE WHO SAID IT.

I also seem to have a very concerned look on my face throughout the majority of this. I frequently had to pause it to write said transcription, and I generally look very distraught on all the freeze frames. (Except for the one that Vimeo chose to leave as the preview image. In that one, I just look like a moron.) Probably because I know what awfulness it is. PLEASE DON'T THINK LESS OF ME. I'M SORRY I HAVE UNLEASHED THIS INTO THE WORLD.

Anyway, enjoy, I guess. Unlike this girl, I only mention cats once.



TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, people of the Internet. (really scary shot where I lean in toward my computer for some reason). This is Kelly, and I blog at a blog called “Insert Clever Title Here”, which came about because I couldn't think of a name for my blog. The link for that is, cleverly enough, insertcleverlinkhere.com.

This is my first attempt at a video blog, or “vlog” (air quotes), which I actually dislike the word vlog almost as much as I hate the word blog. Which is quite a bit. I have put off ever doing a vlog because I expected it would be... just about as awkward as this, with me sitting here talking to my computer. (and then I think I say “like... so” but there's a big pause and, look, I don't know.)

Recently there was a specific vlog day, hosted by 20something bloggers, which I, again, skipped out on, but then I started looking at everyone else's vlogs, and then Ashley from Writing To Reach You made the claim that vlogging would change your life. So far, my life does not feel changed, but I've been talking for about a minute now, so maybe it just takes a little longer than that.

The theme was “introduce yourself” which seems like a good idea for one's first vlog.

I am 26, which means I am on the downhill slope to 30, which is scary, and it will be scary until I actually turn 30, and then I suspect it will not be scary anymore. On that note, I also have a second blog, of thirty things to do before I turn thirty, (incoherent mumbling but I think it was because my screensaver came on?), which is at mythirtythings.com, and I'm a good chunk of the way through my list. I have cheated a little bit, and taken some things off the list, because they seemed like they were going to be not possible or because I didn't care about them anymore, so... I can do that, because it's mine.

I'm from Iowa, which is not as bad as you think. I promise. I have a cat, and one of my goals in life is to not become the crazy cat lady. But I don't think I will be getting additional cats because (conspiratorial whisper) I hate the cat hair. And the shedding. Drives me crazy.

I am entirely too dependent on technology, as evidenced by the fact that I was using my blackberry earlier to look up some directions, and it sent us a half an hour in the wrong direction, because it told us to turn left instead of right. And, yes, here in Iowa, we measure distance by time, not by miles. I coach softball in the summers and I play softball, on a slowpitch team. Which is about as athletic as I get. I don't run. I should run. But (mumbling, I can't tell what it is and I don't remember, sorry. I'm sure it was riveting.).

Ummmm. I work a lot. I am a workaholic. The first step is admitting you have a problem. But I love what I do, so, that's good. I hate cleaning my apartment, which is fortunate that you can't see most of it. It's embarrassing. I don't have people over hardly ever. Um, what else... I recently went to Bloggers in Sin City, which was amazing, as you may have noticed by the fact that I posted about it for a week. But it was truly the best experience I've had, probably... in my life. I met so many amazing people and it was really something that made me step outside my comfort zone. I used to be really shy. And now I'm talking to the Internet on my computer, so... that's exciting.

Umm.. what else, what else... I can't really think of anything. I don;'t know why I'm doing this right now. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I fully expect full life-changing things to happen... tomorrow... otherwise, I'm blaming Ashley. For everything. Also, I don't know how to edit videos, so it's going to have to be whatever happens here, is what it's going to look like. (No, that sentence doesn't make any sense to me either.) My next goal will be posting this, so if you're watching this, that means I succeeded, and you should probably be proud of me. I will be proud of me. I really don't have anything to say, I don't know why I thought this was a good idea. And I hate the sound of my voice. And the fact that I have to look up here (points at camera) instead of, like, at me, because I feel like if I look at me, then I'm talking to a person, but then I'm not looking at you, it's very awkward, I'm sorry. I don't... I don't know. I've never done this before. I probably won't do it again. It's awful. (random mumbling.) Yeah. We're done here. Thanks for suffering through.. five minutes? oh my God, I'm sorry, I'm very sorry, (scrambles for “stop” button).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturdaaaaay, Saturdaaaaay

TODAY IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME AS LONG AS IT DOESN'T RAIN.

First: okay, I'm working at my part-time job, but it's only for three hours, which is the perfect amount of time.

Second: going garage-sailing with my friend Trish. I LOVE ME SOME GARAGE SALES. Currently, there is nothing that I *need* but you never know what sort of awesome shit you can find, for CHEAP. Last time I was at one I found a supposedly-fully-operational Polaroid camera for a dollar. Which I still haven't found film for. Because it's SO EXPENSIVE because THEY STOPPED MAKING IT and now I can only get it off, like, the black market of instant film, aka eBay. Wah.

It still goes nice with my vintage camera collection though. Which I should show you sometime. Remind me.

Third: going to a FREE show of The Cues, our beloved local band that plays at Prom almost every year. Plus I used to work with the lead singer before he left for other opportunities so I totally have an IN, if that's something that was at all useful. Trish and I will be joined by Calee and it's going to be an awesome evening. I've never actually been down to the marina so that will be new and fun.

In other news, now that I've decided to look into taking myself more seriously as a blogger (I know, right? YAWN. I'll try not to let it interfere with the quality programming you are getting currently, but the American dream is to somehow make money doing what you love, right? And while I do love my day job, I capital-L LOVE blogging and writing, so. No time like the present, right?), I looked up my page rank. Which is not something I understand, other than higher = better.

Funnily enough, I was at a 2 before I decided to buy my own URL. Now I'm back to zero. Bummer. EVERYONE START LINKING TO THE NEW URL SO I CAN START WINNING AGAIN.





Also, I have something in the works for next month that is going to be so exciting I just might pee my pants. Or maybe you won't find it as exciting as I currently do BUT YOU SHOULD and that's all I'm going to say for now.

Also-also, because people have been asking about the outcome of this... we're going to have lunch sometime next week, I'm going to try to keep an open mind, we'll see what happens, but honestly, I can't really get past the fact that I've never seen him as anything other than a friend. It also doesn't really help that I might be developing a small inkling of a thing for this other guy I know. That's all I'm going to say on THAT for now, too. If it actually becomes a Thing, I promise, I'll tell you.

Anywho, busy day ahead, I will catch you on the flipside. Whatever that actually means.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friiiiiday, Friiiiiday

(Sorry, I hadn't actually utilized that yet and I wanted to while it was still culturally relevant).

I'm going to kind of phone it in (again) today. YOU GET SNIPPETS AND LINKS, is what you get. It's been a draining week, for things I don't really feel at liberty to discuss, as they are largely work-related, but, alas. Friday is for short days and afternoon naps and for grownup softball and contentment.

It is also for the Naked MJ tumblr created by my dear friend Calee, who, for whatever reason, felt compelled to buy a naked Michael Jackson doll off of eBay one time (from the non-creepy era) (don't worry, it's not anatomically correct and thus probably safe for work) and finally found a use for it.

It's for this beautifully written post by my friend Steph about her wedding, which I have not written about yet because I am a slacker and have not gotten a chance to edit all my photos yet.

It's for celebrating a 3rd place victory with my softball girls after lamenting a loss on Monday. My team returned to me on Wednesday and played like the girls I remembered. I hate the end of the season, because it's such a quick fleeting moment. I don't know if they'll remember me, and to be honest, I don't remember all of the girls I have coached before. I mean, statistically speaking, six years with teams around 10 players? I would have had over sixty girls pass through my life. Granted, some have been repeats, and those are usually the ones I remember. I remember all of my coaches growing up, though. Tori and Jen and Christina and Leah. Maybe my girls will remember me simply for being the only non-parent coach they've had. Hopefully as a positive female role model. Who knows? I'll have a new group of girls next year, laced with the same emotions of sadness at the end of the season. I think I'm starting to know how teachers feel, but on a much smaller scale, and with a much smaller impact. It's hard not to get attached.

It's for not being hard on myself for falling off the wagon this week - I did so good last week, counting points, and I was rewarded with reaching my 25-pound milestone this week (technically 26, but tomato-tomahto). I've eaten too much nearly every day this week and I expect to see a gain on the scale next week. But it's okay, because this is a journey and not something that needs to define me, like I thought it used to. And I'll get myself back on track, and it will only be a minor setback. I need to learn to not be disgusted at myself when I make mistakes. I'm human, after all.

It's for celebrating the end of this exhausting and stressful week, and taking a huge breath, because I MADE IT. We'll start over next week, and everything will get back on track, and back to the way it should be, and if we're extra lucky, maybe I'll even clean my apartment, so I can stop stressing out about that, too. ANYWAY. TGIF, etc.

Today's rambling post brought to you by lack of quality sleep and probably too much diet soda this week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I think it might be time...

In lieu of the roughly million and a half other things I'd like to talk about instead, I'm just going to throw it out there that, as I have no time capacity to look for a second part time job, and I am still recovering from the fact that my car insurance has quadrupled and my rent is going up next month, I might look into monetizing this ol' blog because it's one of the only things I have at my disposal.

So, you might see ads, and I'm sorry for selling out, but... a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

PLEASE DON'T THINK BADLY OF ME. I'M SORRY.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Winning Isn't Everything... But it Still Sucks to Lose

This is what it comes down to: I hate losing.

I've learned to do it. I've learned to do it with grace. Given the situation, I can even do it with a smile and a self-deprecating joke.

Tonight, though. Tonight was a disappointment followed by unexpected bitterness.

The disappointment: we should have won. Truly, we should have. We played a team that we have beaten all season. They weren't a good team, by any means.

But they showed up to play today, and our girls didn't.

I don't know what happened to the team I had all season. They weren't there tonight. I don't know who I was coaching, but it wasn't my girls. We did the best we could. We got off to a bad start, pulled ahead, and lost it again. We fell apart.

As a coach, there really isn't much more I could have done. I put together the best lineup I could. I gave them pep talks and I cheered them on. I shouted directions from the sidelines and I reassured them that no harm was done whenever there was a flub. I watched helplessly as things refused to go our way. I reminded them that the game wasn't over until the last inning, and I all but begged them not to give up on themselves.

Even so, afterwards, I had nine sullen girls on my hands, disappointed by a loss that should never have happened. We should have won that game. We should have had a chance to play for the championship title on Wednesday against my recently-proclaimed nemesis, the team that has yet to be defeated this year. We were the only team that could give them a run for the money. We managed to tie them once. That's closer than anyone else has done.

Yet, there we were. Sitting in the grass behind our dugout, dejected, quiet. I just wanted to give them all hugs. I wanted them to know that they had played hard, they'd played their best, and sometimes these things just happen. It sucks, but it doesn't define us. I don't want it to define our season, either. The best we can do now is 3rd place, which, in a league of 4 teams, really isn't saying much. From the beginning of the season, I had predicted us to be the 2nd place team. Sure, I would have loved to try for the championship, and who knows, under the right conditions, we may have snagged it.

It wasn't meant to be.

We did finish 2nd in the league for the overall season. I will be pleased with that. Between a 2nd place finish and the fact that I won my very first game as a head coach, I have no complaints.

But I feel sad for the girls, who expected a better outcome.

I reminded them before the game to never take it for granted, because they could surprise us. (And weird shit always happens in tournaments. It's almost inevitable.) Don't get cocky. Play hard, even if we beat them effortlessly last week. We were guaranteed nothing. In a way, I was reminding myself, too. I'd been plagued by an odd anxiety all day yesterday about this game. I told myself that I needn't worry, but that didn't stop me from obsessing over the lineup and from showing up ten minutes earlier than I told the girls to be there. It's almost like I saw it coming. I knew it was a possibility, but it was never one that I wanted to acknowledge. I wasn't prepared to end the season like this. I wanted to fight for first place. I so badly wanted to play that game. I knew it would be a good one. I wanted one more opportunity to face the unbeatable team, to see if we could be the ones to do it.

I was oddly calm throughout the game, even though I felt my heart sinking with each inning that we scraped through. I felt the game slipping through our fingers but I refused to let my disappointment register. I didn't want the girls to take it any harder than I knew they were going to anyway. I tried to keep us fighting until the end, and it was all I could do.

The bitterness comes in because we lost to the team with the bitchy assistant coach. The one that my player told me had been talking shit about them on the field. I was furious. It was unsportsmanlike and a bad example to be setting, and besides, nobody talks shit about my players. When I mentioned it to other people, that coach's reputation preceded her: everyone knew exactly who I was talking about, and knew she was terrible. It was a bitter pill to swallow, losing to her. I had set that as a subconscious goal from Day 1: we would not lose to her. I would not give her the satisfaction of a victory over us.

Pride is not a particularly easy thing to swallow.

There's not much that can be done, though. They get to go on to the championship game on Wednesday, where they will undoubtedly lose. We will have to content ourselves with aiming for the bronze medal. It's all that's left.

A loss is a loss, it's not the end of the world. I'm left eating my words, when I said once that it was good for them to lose every now and then. And it is. But not tonight. I would have rather taken a regular season loss. It's rough to end the season on a sour note. Even if we win on Wednesday (and I'm determined that we will), that's all that it is: a consolation prize.

It left such a bad taste in my mouth to have to enter the scores into the system tonight. To acknowledged that we'd been bested by the team I'd vowed never to lose to. To watch their name appear in the championship bracket instead of ours.

This is my sixth year coaching. I've had teams place in all sorts of areas at the end of the season. I think I have another bronze medal somewhere. Two of my previous five teams took the gold medal. One is draped over the team picture in the entryway to the living room. The other, well, there weren't enough for the coaches, so I have no physical mementos from the season other than the team picture. Last year was the most invested I've probably been in a team, as I was treated as more of a co-coach than an assistant coach. I finally had more confidence to be more than the assistant coach.

This, though. Year six. It's the first year I've been in charge of a team. It was a learning experience, to be sure, but at the end of the day, I just wanted to make sure everyone was having fun - myself included. All in all, I'm not sure what I'd change, if anything. We gave it a good run.

I guess it's hard because I always felt I had something to prove. As the youngest coach in the league, as the only female head coach (although, unlike last year, not the only female, period). Among the sea of softball dads and softball moms, the only one who was there because I genuinely loved the game. I wasn't getting paid. I wasn't helping out a family member. I used to question whether or not even belonged there, being so unaffiliated with anyone. That, and I didn't play softball in college. I mean, I played for almost my entire life, but does that qualify me to coach? Maybe. It's hard to say.

No matter how the season ends, I can't complain. We've only lost three games all summer (plus one tie, in which nobody won, and nobody lost). We bonded as a team. The girls that were catty with each other at the beginning, even if they aren't exactly friends now, have at least stopped antagonizing each other. These are the things that matter.

When I get an email from a parent telling me their daughter enjoyed being on my team this year, or that they're disappointed when they had to miss a game because of a family vacation, when they're excited to be there, when they volunteer to bring treats for the team. Those are the things that matter.

Years from now, nobody will remember our win-loss record. They may or may not remember that we finished second in the league, or that we (hopefully) finished 3rd in the tournament. If we get a medal, it will go on a shelf, probably. It will be brought out at their high school graduation with all of the other awards and achievements that they rack up through the next few years. It will eventually get put in a box and stored away. What they will, hopefully, remember instead, is that they had fun playing softball. What I can only hope they remember is their awesome coach from 2011, the year we wore red tshirts, the year we had goodies at almost every single game. That she was nice, and encouraging, and made the game fun. So that maybe when they're in their twenties, they'll still love the game so much that they will get involved with coaching too, and pass that on to another generation of girls.

Those. Those are the things that matter.

Not the numbers on a scorecard.

A scorecard that's already in my garbage can.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kerfluffle'd

You know what happens, dear Internet, when you write a post bitching about being single, even if you have not even finished/published said post?

This. This is what happens.



Yes. That is a vase of goddamn flowers that arrived to my workplace on Wednesday afternoon.

The only other time in my life that I have received flowers was from my mother when I was in college and they told me I had mono and I was pretty sure my life was ending because if I had mono then there was no way I would be able to continue to work my ass off to get accepted into the actual graphic design program and WOE, ALL THE WOE IN THE WORLD. (Spoiler alert: my "mono" subsided rather quickly and I did get into the graphic design program, which I then promptly stopped giving a fuck about halfway through my sophomore year when I was blindsided by a massive bout of depression and somehow still managed to pass off mediocre work enough to get decent enough grades to land on the Dean's List. Even in the midst of wanting to spend my entire consciousness mired deep in unconsciousness, I was still a fucking perfectionist.)

I may have gotten off track.

So there's this thing of flowers waiting for me down at the front desk, and I carry them up the stairs with a massive look of puzzlement on my face and helpless shrugs as all my coworkers are all, "ooooooh and who are THOSE from?"

Turns out they are from a friend of mine from college who secretly had a not-so-secret crush on me for I don't even know how long, probably longer than I even knew about, but didn't actually fess up to until about two years after we had graduated and he was safely back in Ohio. We met in student government (YES I AM A NERD, THAT IS NOT THE POINT). I hired him on as my treasurer (excuse me, Director of Finance) when I was the president of our hall council. And somewhere in that time frame of me being this bad-ass bitch to be reckoned with (I mean, okay, it was residence hall government in college, but still. I was intimidating and I got shit done and people actually listened to me and dammit I miss those days), he apparently developed a crush on me. While simultaneously being scared of me. I don't know. Which... I sometimes suspected but never really had confirmation of until someone flat out told me. It was one of those "oh" moments. Obvious in hindsight. Anyway, while I knew he was back in the area, I hadn't actually seen him or spoken to him in at least six months. Which is why it was SO BIZARRE and AWKWARD and OUT OF LEFT FIELD.

(If you're sitting there going "awwww" right now then I'M GOING TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE.)

I am vexed, Internets. Because while he claimed that they were just something nice to brighten my day (which I can only assume I made some sort of relevant status update on facebook), I suspect ulterior motives. It caught me totally off guard and like anyone with a pair of ovaries, I am obsessing over this and what it meeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaans.

Now, he is a very nice guy. I will cede that. Nice enough to randomly send flowers? ehhhhh. Maybe? I don't know.

I also don't know what the protocol is here. I DON'T KNOW HOW I AM SUPPOSED TO RESPOND TO THIS.

I mean, obviously I said thank you, and we started small-talking via facebook message and made plans to meet up for lunch next week and I'm really only one of the few people left in town that he knows so maybe he just wants, you know, a friend, but. BUT. I am very suspicious by nature and I feel all sorts of awkward about this.

For starters... I've never seen him as anything more than a friend. I just don't see an "us" working out very well*, and so I've always done my very best to not ever lead him on. I don't want to waste his time or mine if I end up being right. Once it was out in the open, his prior infatuation, it was something that he would joke about. I didn't expect it to ever come up again. Ever.

*For example: we have very very different political viewpoints. to his credit, though, he's eased up on the militant Republican propaganda to a more moderate stance, but, hi. Have you met me? I mean... I have Republican friends and I will consider the conservative viewpoint before deciding to dismiss it if I do not agree with it, but I'm just not sure I could date one. Not successfully.

But he doesn't push the issue of an "us" or even approach the issue, if it is an issue, so while part of me is relieved, the other part of me is, well, still suspicious.

It doesn't help that Every Single Person I tell this to is all OMG YOU MUST DATE HIM, HE SENT YOU FLOWERS, THAT'S SO CUTE, AWW, etc. In my gchat conversations of the last few days, the general consensus is: go for it, it might be one of those things where he was totally right in front of you the whole time, blah blah.

Yes, it is cute. Yes, it was sweet. Totally fucking random, but sweet. An yet.. it's so loaded. Flowers, they're a Thing. A big thing. A boy doesn't just randomly send flowers to a girl... right?

I'm trying to frame it in my mind, the same way that all my friends have automatically done. I'm trying to envision what it would be like if I gave him a chance, "you never know", etc. But I'm still drawing a blank. Why is this? Why can't I just be swoony and happy about it like a normal person?

This is my problem, guys. I am kind of a bitch. I mean... not really. I used to be, I've gotten soft. But I feel like I am always mean to the guys that actually like me, and even though I recognize that they are sweet and nice and, you know, interested... I just can't make myself be. It's like I'm turned off by the fact that they're into me. (What that says about my self-esteem, I don't want to know. It's either self -esteem issues or I'm one big walking cliche. Neither option seems like a particularly flattering one.)

It's not like I fall for the assholes, though, either. Other than that being horribly cliche, it's also a waste of time and I've been there, done that. I have an asshole radar the way some people have gaydar. It's finely honed and I have a zero-tolerance policy for douchery. Instead, I merely fall for those who are otherwise uninterested or unavailable. (Or, let's face it, usually both.)

Wouldn't the obvious choice be to find someone who liked me? Who obviously has liked me for a long time? Despite the fact that I have never given any indication of a reciprocation? OH GOD, I AM THE UNREQUITED INFATUATION. Funny, I never pegged myself as the heartbreaker type. That was supposed to be my sister. She was the outgoing, flirty, fun one. Until we got older and switched roles, I guess. Now she's the one that's married living in suburban bliss and I'm a starving artist living in a shoebox apartment with men metaphorically falling at my feet. (Men. Man. Whatever. There might be more out there, WE DON'T KNOW). So, that was a life turn I never would have seen coming.

So, I don't know what to do. I don't even know what etiquette calls for here. I guess I will see what happens. I will go to lunch and we'll probably have awkward small talk and he'll probably continue to be shy and not make a move and I can go on my merry way pretending like I don't know that he wants to. Then spend my time feeling guilty about it because the evidence is sitting on my goddamn desk.

I'd rather go back to complaining about being fat and poor. At least those were tangible problems with identifiable solutions. Ugh.

Yes, I know. It sucks so much to be me. Small violins, playing everywhere. STFU.