Thursday, November 28, 2013

8 Good Things

Thanksgiving happened to fall on my Good Things day :)

1. Celebrating our 1-month anniversary yesterday (we went to Zumba and then ate Vietnamese food--the story of our relationship).

2. Really positive feedback from students this semester. The thing is, when they tell me what a great influence I've been on their lives, I don't pat myself on the back. I do what I can to be a good teacher, but it's the students who ultimately have to decide if they want to make the effort and take advantage of the opportunities I present to them. For those that do, I'm just happy to be a part of this important time in their lives.

3. Getting my Etsy shop up and going. I just have a few items right now, but I'm working away at more. I wanted to get the store open in time for Christmas shoppers, but I have a giveaway and a "grand opening" planned for Cyber Monday.

4. Also knitting-related: I found a fellow knitter one evening when I went to a cafe to grade papers. I told her about my group, and she joined and RSVPed to the next meetup right away. Victory!

5. Putting Christmas lights up. Shut up, okay. I don't have a lot of time these days, so I took advantage of a day off last week to put up some lights. And Christmas lights are better than Prozac. See also: Christmas music!

6. No-fuss Thanksgiving. I made a soup with turkey and rice.

7. My sister getting a job she wanted and moving back to our home state of Washington. I'm really happy for her.

8. Living in a small town. I love running into people I know all the time. I used to hate it, but now it's weird if I don't see someone familiar now. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

DIY Death

NPR posted this story about some new (well, old really) trends in death rituals, such as DIY funerals and alternative burial practices.

Although I'm not really keen on thinking about my own mortality, I don't have a problem talking about the logistics of what to do with me when I'm gone. So, let me lay it out for all the interwebs to see:

1. If my body can be donated for research purposes or if my organs can be given to someone else, by all means do that first. Do not keep me on life support indefinitely hoping for a miracle when you can help me be someone else's miracle.

2. I want to be cremated or buried in such a way that my body will decompose naturally into the soil. My preference is for cremation, but hopefully my death won't be for quite some time, and I might be in circumstances in which the people around me will feel the need for a burial. I understand. Just don't clog up the ecosystem because of my dead body. 

3. Any funeral that takes place on my behalf should be a celebration of my life. Please, no black clothes and somber music. Something like this maybe?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

8 Good Things

Since taking my hiatus, I'm not quite back in the blogging rhythm, as evidenced by my late posting and lack of photos! Still, there are many good things in my life.

1. A really great car coat from Eddie Bauer. It was a splurge, but I'm tired of bunchy, low-quality coats, and this fits the bill. It's been getting pretty chilly at night here lately, and with night being so long, I need a good coat.

2. A nice meetup with my knitting group. We've had a hard time finding good locations to meet lately, so I suggested the community room at my apartment complex, and it turned out to be cozy and great for our needs. 

3. This video of Madison Kimrey, a 12-year-old with more gumption than you can shake a stick at. 

4. Running again ... sort of. I went for a run recently. It wasn't too terrible. My feet are still in bad shape, but they're coming around. 

5. Continuing to make progress in yoga. I just love moments when I realize that a pose used to be harder. I also feel much stronger in everything I do. I've been taking this class for a little less than a year. The progress has been slow but worth it. 

6. Nearing the end of the semester. Just four more weeks to go. This semester has been fun but exhausting. I'm ready for a break. 

7. Travel plans for January! Speaking of a break, the husband and I are planning to visit Colorado this January. I haven't been out of California in a long time, and for me that's pretty weird. Plus, can you say honeymoon? It'll be so nice to get a way for a while.

8. A new, well-fitting sports bra. TMI and another splurge, I know, but it makes such a big difference! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On Hipsterism

How do you define hipster

In 2006, I bought myself a Macbook. It was the first computer I owned that was my very own. Does that surprise you? It surprised me when I thought about it recently. Yes, I used computers before then, but I was happy to share whatever computer was available. When I graduated and had plans to become a teacher, I figured I should have easier access to a computer. I also had the money to buy a good quality product. That was it.

It was around that time I started seeing that I was heading in a different direction than a lot of my contemporaries. It wasn't intentional. I just preferred knitting to playing video games and listening to music via ear buds. I thought it was fun to plant vegetables because I could be outside getting dirty. I didn't know that what I was doing was actually a trend and that there were people calling it "voluntary simplicity" until later.

Which is why when I saw this video some time ago, I was mildly alarmed when I saw a little bit of myself in it.

Don't get me wrong; I love this video. But it got me thinking that maybe those young homesteaders, people obsessed with bicycles, and foodies were all just hipsters trying to be cool and different without genuine appreciation for the things they were doing.

The genuine appreciation is key, isn't it? My dad has a mustache, but he's not a hipster. First, his is not the mustache of a gold miner. Second, he comes from a generation in which mustaches were normal. His mustache isn't ironic. 

I don't knit out of irony either. I don't make things from scratch to be that funny and/or weird person. I don't even do it for bragging rights (usually). I just think it's fun, and it's far more emotionally and financially rewarding than buying everything pre-made all the time.

I kind of doubt anybody thinks I'm a hipster, but I'm concerned that the word hipster has come to mean pretty much anything anyone between ages 16 and 40 does. I look around at the people I like a lot, and I think someone would probably call them hipster because the people I like a lot tend to be passionate about things that don't exactly fit into mainstream pop culture.

While searching for the video above, I came across this excellent explanation of the difference between a nerd and a hipster, which comes down to earned appreciation rather than cultural appropriation. Basically, my friends and I are nerds more than hipsters. Maybe.

He also illustrates that cultural appropriation is a sticky subject, and there's no easy way to determine whether someone is doing something because they understand and embody the philosophy behind it or if they just think it's neat. And, by the way, the people who understand and embody the philosophy behind something might also be doing it because they think it's neat. I might not knit things just to be noticed, but I'm also not doing it for my own survival or to carry on a family tradition. 

The point I've come to is: who cares? Really. There is always a subculture that everyone else hates. Every generation says, "Kids today don't know anything about anything." In 50 years, will we be able to look back and say definitively what a hipster was during this era? Probably not. We won't even care. They'll be absorbed into the amalgam of the 2010s. In fact, given the word's flexible and slippery definition, it's already happening. Hipsters aren't the Harlem Renaissance; there isn't a distinct political or artistic legacy they're leaving behind. 

And if I'm wrong about that, if there is a hipster legacy, then that's even more reason to accept it. I say there are better ways to spend your energy than trying to determine whether or not someone is genuine about their interests and facial hair. If someone loves irony, let them be ironic. Enjoy the things you enjoy and let everyone do the same.

Friday, November 8, 2013

8 Good Things

1. Fall! Monterey's average high in its warmest month is 70, while its average high in the coolest month is 58. Despite this whopping 12-degree difference, we do kind of have seasons. Sometimes they come at the wrong times, but seasons they are, and fall has been crisp and unpredictable, and I'm digging the shorter days.

2. One of the "seasoned" knitters in my knitting group loving a hat I'm working on that I designed myself. She asked me for the pattern, and that's when she found out I was making it up in my head as I went. I take this as a big compliment.

3. A really cute apron given to me by one of my ESL students. She had to go back to Korea, so it was a wedding gift/goodbye present. I'm actually really moved by her gesture. She was a terrific student, so I'm going to miss her, and the apron just happens to be perfect for my taste. I'm still emotional after all the love and good will surrounding my wedding, and the apron was, shall we say, icing on the cake.

4. Um, did someone say cake? Does anyone actually save their cake top and eat it a year later? I can't even keep peas tasting fresh in the freezer for that long. Anyway, the good thing is that my husband and I had no qualms about devouring the cake top within a couple days. I love him. And I love cake.

5. Huaraches from Mexico. My sister-in-law sent me a cute pair of brown ones a few weeks ago, and they're great. Since the weather's been cooler, I've been wearing them with fun, striped socks. Newsflash: I've given up trying to be cool.

6. The Killing. It's a mini-series available on Netflix. It seems I like depressing crime dramas (Netflix recommended it for me because I said I liked Top of Lake--also depressing and it made me feel dirty for having watched it). It gave me bad dreams, which I guess means it's good?

7. Sleepytime Lemon Jasmine Tea. Just really tasty tea and bonus points for the Chinese bear on the box. 

8. Jarrito mugs (ceramic mugs that look like little pitchers). A while back I downsized my mugs to little stackable ones, and I'm kind of over that. I want giant mugs! Sometimes, when I go to a certain friend's house, they serve homemade atole in jarritos, and I love it. (By the way, this is also a quick plug for Etsy. Support local artisans this holiday season.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gratitude to Begin the Month

Our first dance looked something like this. 

I'm not even sure where to start. I think I'll start where everyone should start: by being grateful.

Nearly one week ago, I married my sweetheart in front of 90 dear friends and family. There isn't another word to describe what I'm about to say, and I don't use this word often or lightly, but I truly feel blessed. How else can I describe something that makes me happier than I've ever been, something that is more deliberate than luck, but not something I could ever have planned or expected? 

I shared this sentiment with my friend who flew back to Monterey from the east coast for one day to attend my wedding. She reminded me that it was because of who we are, our kindness, and the joy we bring to others that there were all these people not just coming to the wedding but offering to help and expressing such heartfelt congratulations. In other words, we've earned this attention, although I can't see that for myself. 

I'm grateful I got to spend time with my family and friends, to experience the whirlwind that is my 6-year-old nephew, to meet in-laws, to do Zumba with everybody, to partake in Mexican wedding traditions, and to eat lots of cake. 

I'm also grateful for all the distant friends and family who've shown their support. Most of my in-laws, who've only seen me on Skype and who don't speak much English have long ago accepted me into the family. My students have all expressed their congratulations as well as curiosity. And I can't even begin to count how many Facebook likes and comments I've gotten in the past couple weeks! 

Lastly, of course, I'm grateful that I've found someone so kind-hearted, sincere, and understanding. We had the perfect day to kick off our life together. 

October was a beautiful month.