Saturday, June 28, 2014

'Round Here

You know when there's so much to do and say that you're just paralyzed with what to do next? That's where I am. 

I want to tell you all about the move, how I'm feeling about it, and what's going on with the new job, but I just can't focus on any of it. I thought maybe my reluctance to post (coupled with the fact that I am OVER Facebook, which is how most of my readers get here) was a sign that I needed to retire my blog, but I think that's an overreaction. I don't want to give this up! I'm just stressed and being pulled in too many directions. 

So, I'm taking a little break. I hope to be back in the fall when the dust has settled. Maybe sooner. 

In the meantime, I'll say this: I'm really excited about what's in store for me and for us. I keep telling people that, and I'm sure they don't believe me because I say it without any trace of enthusiasm, but that's just the nerves. I really am excited about having a manageable, predictable schedule. I'm excited about our tiny apartment that will allow us to save money and live in a great location. I'm excited about maybe being able to eat dinner with my husband every night and have an occasional weekend getaway. I'm excited because we'll have affordable healthcare. 

Basically, I'm excited because I believe this move will help us lead a more fulfilling life together. We're going to miss Monterey like crazy, but I think we'll enjoy having a more peaceful day-to-day lifestyle. That's the kind of thing I want to document here on this blog. 

Thanks, as always, for reading. Take care of yourself out there. Be good. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

8 Good Things

1. What do you hate not doing? I've always liked the suggestion that instead of trying to force being good at everything, you should go in the direction of the things you already do really well and enjoy, and use that aptitude and interest to create more great stuff in your life.

2. Giving things away! The move is now less than two months away, and I'm excited about the fresh start. I gave away almost my entire CD collection to my students (I still have the music on my computer, just not the discs). I gave away a yoga book and my Gigantor Laptop Bag, and I've started setting aside some other things to give away.

3. And speaking of bags, after a long search, I finally found  a purse I'm crazy about. Since I no longer need a huge bag that serves as a mobile office (because MY OWN OFFICE), I wanted a kind of chic bag that I can take with me to classes without looking like I'm headed to the grocery store. But I also want to use it when I'm headed to the grocery store. I wanted handles and a cross-body strap, an outside pocket, and one large open area inside. And I wanted it to go with everything. Picky much? Yep. It's pretty much the best bag ever.

4. Knitting a shawl. I also recently finished a hat in a minty blue color that my husband claimed for himself (it's inside out in the photo above--oops), a monster cozy for my Sony Reader, and a set of fingerless mitts (okay, those aren't finished because I need to seam them--boo). 

5. A swimsuit that fits AND covers that area no one wants to shave AND is made in the USA. It's going to be triple-digit weather when we move in August, and I foresee lots of pool visits. I got it on Zulily.

6. Black beans. Pictured above is black beans, sweet potato, and avocado served over spinach. Another favorite lately is black beans and mango salsa served over rice or spinach. 

7. Low-sodium V8. Yes, I'm aware that I'm 100 years old. 

8. The Artichoke Festival last weekend. We were underwhelmed until some of the kids from Samz School of Music performed. I was blown away by an 8-year-old girl singing "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and a 12-year-old singing a soulful, "Give Me a Reason." Then, just when we were thinking of leaving, we found an exhibit of artichoke sculptures. It turned out to be a good day after all.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

8 Good Things

1. What's it like to be a writer? Glamorous to say the least. With a generous helping of the f-word.

3. Making dishwashing detergent for the first time with this recipe without borax. I have yet to try it, but it seems legit. I'm also switching to a borax-free laundry detergent recipe. It's pretty painless to make these detergents. I appreciate the cost savings, and there's something fun about being like, "Well, we're low on detergent. Guess I'd better make some."  

4. Finishing my two-tone cotton cowl. I'm now in the process of making a monster cozy for my digital reader. Also, the woman in my knitting group who lives in Pebble Beach invited us to meet at her place again last week, which was a real treat anyway, but she also had tons of yarn to give away and sell, so no one left empty-handed (because more yarn is exactly what I need a couple months before I move). For a total of $25, I walked away with all the yarn in the photo above. 

5. Peaches! Oh, how I've missed peaches. I got to see my friend who works at the fruit stand, whom I haven't seen since October. I also went to a vegetable stand and saw heads of cauliflower that were probably bigger than a human head. On a related note, even though I don't really think of myself as a Californian (yet), I'm happy that my move won't take me out of the state. I was kind of sad thinking about leaving peach country. 

6. La Guelaguetza in Santa Cruz. It's a festival from Oaxaca, Mexico. I got to see the baile folkl√≥rico in person for the first time. It was a beautiful, but kind of hot, day (read: sunburn). I bought overpriced things, including the red shirt above (the woman in black behind me wanted to know where I got it). 

7. Cooking more and trying harder to use up what we already have. I made some asparagus soup from the Happy Herbivore meal plan (I signed up for a short time last year). Asparagus soup sounded bitter and gross, but it turned out pretty mild and tasty. I've also rediscovered how much I like spinach. 

8. Finding a book at the public library that I thought I was going to have to pay full price for to get on my reader. It's Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. The only thing better than discounted books is free books!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Name Game: Couples Edition

Why did you keep your name when you got married?

The short answer I give is that I like my last name and I'm too lazy to deal with the hassle of changing my name. It's 2014. I think that answer should suffice, but I get the feeling it doesn't.

A friend in Georgia told me that everybody there loves monogramming things. It has to be the monogram with the last initial made big in the middle. She said her friends there short circuit when they find out she and her husband don't share a last initial. Whatever will we do if we can't monogram!

The bigger answer is this: All the reasons I could think of to change my name were about other people. Other people will assume I have my husband's last name. Other people will mistakenly call me by his last name. Other people will think I'm making a feminist statement. Other people will wonder what to call us (Mr. and Mrs. ____?). Other people will wonder how on earth they can monogram something for us. 

I'm the one who has to go to the DMV and Social Security office. I'm the one who has to change my name on my bank accounts and all my online accounts. I'm the one who has to inform my colleagues and students and to have my work email account changed. I'm the one who has to correct my resumes and my syllabi. I'm the one who has to update my W-2s for my various jobs. And I'm the one who has to change my name in my own head and think of myself differently. Since it's up to me to make the change, then it's also up to me to say no if I want to. 

I'm speaking from experience. I changed my name once before, and I always regretted it. I never felt like the name belonged to me, and I have no desire to repeat that experience. 

I do like my name, but mostly, it's that I'm used to it. It's how I think of myself. I haven't changed who I am just because I got married. 

At the start of one semester in an ESL class, I was taking attendance. As I read some of their names, they would say, "I go by Jessie," or, "You can call me Vincent." Students from other countries often change or shorten their names to make them easier for English speakers to pronounce. Not everyone changes their name, though. They are content to wrestle with the English alphabet and let English speakers deal with their names as best as they can. I got to one student who said, "And I go by Ji Young because I like my name," and shrugged her shoulders. So, what's better: changing your name or not changing your name? Neither. Both. It's not my question to answer. 

If a woman wants to change her name when she gets married because she likes the idea of sharing a name, great. It's none of my business. If someone wants to change their name to distance themselves from their family, because they've never felt confident about their name, or because their name is hard to pronounce, great. Again, it's not my name, so I don't get a say in this. 

Everybody should have a name they feel comfortable with. I hope people take some time to weigh their options, but other than that, I'll call you by whatever name you want me to and I won't think much about it.


How should people refer to our titles? Refer to us separately. Hint: We know we're together! Mr. ___ and Ms. ___. Or just forget the titles altogether. We're not living in Elizabethan England.  

What are we going to call our kids? We'll probably follow the Mexican tradition and give our kids one family name from each of us. Since we don't have kids, I'm not worrying about it, so neither should you.

What should people call our family? The ___ ___ family. In Spanish, la familia ___ ___ or los ___ ___.  I don't care which name you put first or if you hyphenate it. See how easy that was?

Was my husband okay with my decision? Before we were talking about marriage, I made it clear that I was happy with my name and intended to keep it if I ever got married again. If you're really asking if my husband allowed me to keep my name, picture me searching my neck for a collar and leash and finding none. 

What should you do or say if someone tells you s/he wants to keep/change their name? The correct response is, "I'll support whatever you decide." 

If you're still feeling dissatisfied with my explanation, it's probably because you already had a strong opinion on the matter and you weren't actually curious in the first place. In that case, check yourself. Otherwise, I hope this clears the air and empowers you to own your name, whatever you decide it's going to be. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One-Bedroom Living

Almost two years ago, my then-boyfriend/now-husband moved in with me, and we've been sharing a one-bedroom apartment ever since.  

A couple years ago, I was searching for a cheaper place, and I found a really cute apartment, but it was even smaller than our current place. I ended up telling an acquaintance about the cute place, and I mentioned it wasn't right for me because there would likely be two of us living there in the near future. She said, "Oh no, you can't live in a one-bedroom. You'll kill each other."

She misunderstood, of course, and didn't realize that we would in fact still be living in a one-bedroom--just one with a few more square feet. It got me thinking, though, Would we kill each other? 

I'm happy to report we're still alive, still together, and still in good spirits, so I guess not.

When we move in a couple months, we'll probably get a two-bedroom apartment because, well, we can, and I'm definitely looking forward to having a bit more space. Even though I don't think we have tons of stuff, we have enough that it's hard to keep everything neat, clean, and organized. 

However, even though our place isn't big enough for our stuff, I can't think of a time when I felt that our physical space was too small for our personalities. We have a living area, a dining area, and a bedroom. When we've had arguments, or even when one person just wants to watch TV while the other person wants to grade papers (ahem), we do have places we can go off to. And there's a whole world outside. I feel like we have plenty of time to do things on our own, and whenever I've felt like I wanted space, I've found it.  

I was thinking a townhouse would be nice, and certainly it's still a far cry from a McMansion, but it's a little odd when I imagine us both being home and not knowing what the other one's doing. As I write this from the living room, I can hear my husband moving around in bed as he takes a nap. I always know where the cat is. Even though I've always been someone who liked having a lot of alone time, I've gotten used to my life as it is, and I do think the physical closeness has made us a cooperative and forgiving couple.

There's no hiding. There's no retreating away from each other, and there's no disguising the unpleasant bits. 

I don't need to tell you that we could all probably live with a little less, and that includes square footage. Sharing this little apartment has probably been the most minimalist thing I've done in the past several years, and I don't even think twice about it anymore. It's just our home. Sometimes I wish it were a little different, but when you just commit to something, it's surprising how quickly you can redefine normal and do things you never imagined you could.