Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Just Happened.

I went to bed at 11:30 last night but couldn't sleep, so after half an hour I got out Harry Potter and hoped listening would make me sleepy. It didn't; I ended up listening to the last three hours of the book and finishing it, trying the entire time to feel tired. (Now that I think about it, the last few chapters of Goblet of Fire are not exactly dull, so that might have been a stupid plan. Oh well. It was the best one I had.)

I almost always sleep through Mike's alarm, and since I didn't fall asleep until about 3:30, I really should've been out. But I woke up when the quacking began sometime around 6 or 6:30, and then again when he left at 7. At that point I already felt like I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep, and this was made sure by the cat, who decided to set up camp outside my window and bang the crap out of it. So I went upstairs to let her in, which took about ten minutes and required that I walk outside barefoot through sprinklers.

I got back in bed and lay there, unable to fall asleep yet again, and it occurred to me that I should turn off my alarm since I obviously need to get whatever sleep I can this morning. But as I was thinking about it, just before 7:45, I finally started to drift off just the tiniest bit.

And then my alarm went off.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dear Barnes and Noble:

Thank you for being aware that fathers are parents, too. 


Dear the rest of the world: Thanks for being so lame that a simple acknowledgment of the fact that children have two parents makes Barnes and Noble look super awesome by comparison.

Sincerely,
Me

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin—5/10


(If you're interested in reading this series, don't scroll down any more into this post; it's going to be full of spoilers and some of them are big ones. I'll stall a bit so you have a few paragraphs to look away.)

In the first place, yes, I got the tie-in cover. Usually I would never, but there weren't many other options at the Wal-Mart in Childress, Texas (one of many small, small towns on the route from Wichita Falls to Amarillo) and really, I didn't care about this one anyway since I'd heard about the show around the same time I learned about the series. 

In the second place... Gosh, I just really don't know what to say besides meh. This book was not as exciting as I thought it'd be. I really didn't care for the writing, and liked very few of the characters. I couldn't help comparing it to the Wheel of Time series after seeing Robert Jordan's praise on the back cover, and GOT came off worse—which says something.

Martin's writing is even more pretentious than Jordan's, tries even harder to be epic and glorious and solemn, and sounds even less natural to my ear. He spends as much time describing clothing as Jordan does, only with more armor (which, really, you wouldn't think could be described with so many words). And his female characters, if you can believe it, are even less likable than Jordan's.

With the exception of a nine-year-old tomboy princess, I hated every one of them. (This is where the spoilers begin.) Catelyn Stark is cruel to her husband's bastard son Jon, who is a very kind and lovable boy. Cersei Lannister is your average two-dimensional evil queen. Lysa Arryn is absolutely batshit crazy for her spoiled, awful son. Both Cersei and Lysa are the ridiculous trope of women in power who literally live to please their sons (and both of their sons are horrible). Sansa Stark is as stupid a girl as you can imagine; she's infatuated with Cersei's son, always going on about how gallant and noble he is, totally blind to his unbelievable cruelty to her own family members. Daenerys Targaryen starts out being ruled by her disgusting brother, has a beautiful moment of strength in which she finally stops taking it, becomes obsessed with  adopting her husband's violent patriarchal horse culture and bearing a son, and ends up breastfeeding dragons.

Arya Stark is the nine-year-old tomboy princess, and the only prominent female character I didn't absolutely despise. She is a stereotype herself, of course, but at least she's one I can stomach. Naturally she spends most of her time posing as a boy.

Many parts of the story were very interesting, but frankly, A Game of Thrones is a little gory for my tastes. Too many descriptions of people being disemboweled, beheaded, and melted; too many weird body parts chopped off (like ears and nipples); too many horses killed so their blood could be used for bathwater and pregnant women could eat their hearts raw. I skimmed a lot of this book. 

And for me, there was far too much awkward talk about sex. I really hate the way fantasy writers tend to approach this subject. I hate when they use that word to talk about the body parts—"his sex" and "her sex", or someone's "manhood"because of course no made-up society could actually have names for those things. I hate that they only ever seem to use the misogynistic language of men taking women and women being taken. I really, really hate any discussion of a man's "seed". I hate how they fetishize the posterity thing, so that the most glorious thing a woman can do is "give" her husband a son. I hate all the euphemisms, because they sound almost pedophilic, and because they're just bad writing. Mostly I hate how I can always see the writer; how these scenes pull me out of the story and I can't see them happening naturally, I can only imagine the writers living out their every geeky fantasy through the characters. 

So what it comes down to is that I finished the book and felt totally okay deciding that I wouldn't read the next. The story is interesting, despite being full of often-used ideas. The few characters I liked I liked a lot. But it hit on too many of my pet peeves, and in the end the story wasn't interesting enough to counteract that.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Just Leave It Alone Already.

I'm so tired of hearing about Mitt Romney's underwear. Religious clothing is nothing new. People make a big deal about the Mormon garments, but really, are they any weirder than a kippah or the hijab or a Sikh's turban?
Catholic women wore wimples in medieval times; the Eastern European babushka is (from what I've read) something similar. The Bible is full of passages about things like head coverings. Mormon garments aren't just about protection; they're about remembering covenants. Many religions have something similar. 
There's nothing cultish about believing that religious symbols will protect you, either; Mormons just happen to wear theirs under their clothes. 

If you're in the business of mocking others' religious beliefs, there are plenty of Mormon things for you to work with. If you want to talk about why Mitt Romney is a terrible candidate for president, you have plenty of material. But in both cases, you're going to need to look a little further than the underwear.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Help a Sister Out!

Dear blog friends, especially blog friends who aren't also on Facebook and therefore haven't already seen this plug:

My amazing aunt just got her Masters a few weeks ago to become a Nurse Practitioner. She's trying to start a health care clinic in Arizona, and the small business she'll be working for needs to get a $250,000 grant from this Mission: Small Business contest. She needs at least 250 votes by the end of the month (which is now eleven days away) and she has 69 right now—but you can only vote once, which means I can't just keep going back and voting myself.

If you could please take about twenty seconds to help her out, I would really appreciate it! Go to www.missionsmallbusiness.com and log in through Facebook (which is why you can only vote once). Scroll down and search for Healthy Tomorrows in Chandler, Arizona, then vote! And if you want to be really extra helpful, share it with your friends too, and tell them I'll love them forever for helping.

Thank you!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Frustrated

That's what I am tonight.

Frustrated with people who think that if other people's feelings bother them, it's the responsibility of those other people to stop sharing their feelings.

Frustrated with my stomach, which has been really intensely uncomfortable all day and I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Frustrated with my Nike flip flops, about which I was so excited because they cost $20 (on sale) instead of $2.50 and were therefore supposed to be the solution to my flip-flop problems (in which that little circle where the thong connects to the sole digs into my foot and hurts like crap), but have not been; not only do they hurt just as much, these have also started to wear out after approximately one month, which is something those cheap Old Navy sandals never did.

Frustrated that I still can't get my laptop to connect to the wireless network here; that the wireless network has to be rebooted every hour or two because it just goes dormant; that the laptop I'm borrowing doesn't have a standby option and I already downloaded all the drivers and it wasn't fixed, so I have to shut down the computer completely every time I leave it, because Dell laptops apparently have a weird glitch in which if you just shut them without going into standby, they won't turn back on and you have to turn them off by holding the power button. (I am basing this observation off a sample size of two, but really? Two Dell laptops purchased in separate states with the same problem that I've never encountered in another laptop?)

Frustrated that I've turned off certain notifications on Facebook but am still receiving those notifications. I've tried turning them back on and then off again, to no avail. Anyone a Facebook genius? Help me out please.

Really frustrated by this. Off the top of my head I can't think of any regular readers who won't be able to access this link, but let me know if you can't and I'll post it in the comments so you can see.

Sigh. Time to sleep, and hopefully my good mood returns tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Move

1. We left Friday morning and were pulled over almost exactly one mile from home because our trailer wasn't wired to the car. We had talked about driving to the mechanic first to get that done anyway, so we did that and didn't get a ticket. We had to go to Auto Zone to get the kit first, and when it was all finished, we were leaving a few hours later than we'd planned but felt okay about it because having the wiring done was such a relief (and hadn't been too expensive—about $65).

2. After about an hour the car overheated for the first time. We hung out on the side of the road for a while, cooled down the engine, topped off all the fluids, and then went about another hour before it overheated again. We stopped at a Wal-Mart and got several gallons of water to keep in the car and started driving again.

3. About half an hour later, the alternator died (though we didn't know that was what had happened at the time). We waited 45 minutes for a tow truck, who drove us into Wichita Falls ($175) and dropped us off at a Nissan dealership. We waited there too, while they diagnosed the car, and learned that they had no alternators in stock so we'd have to wait overnight. Not having our own transportation, we were fairly limited in our choice of hotels, and the Best Western didn't have any rooms, so we ended up at the Days Inn (about $110, I think; I can't remember specifically).

4. The next morning, we paid $585 for the alternator (they'd given us about a $60 discount to help pay for the hotel room). We finally got on the road around noon, and about thirty minutes later the brand new alternator also died. We called a tow truck, and on the drive discussed our options, since the car obviously wasn't making it to Utah. None of the options were great, but we settled on returning the Uhaul trailer, renting a Uhaul truck, and selling our car. The driver of the tow truck called a friend, who ended up buying the car in the parking lot of the Uhaul store, where the tow truck dropped us off ($145).

5. We rented a Uhaul truck. The employees—Zac Efron and Smee from Hookwere really helpful. They took the entire cost of the trailer rental off our truck rental and gave us an additional $100 discount, so we paid $625 for the whole thing. Then we unloaded the trailer and emptied the car, repacked everything into the truck, and went to eat dinner.

6. We made it to Amarillo that night, where we had to get another hotel room ($85 for a Super 8). (We hadn't planned on staying in any hotels, because if we did spend the night we were going to stay with my dear friend Jennie in Albuquerque, so all of those expenses were unplanned.) We were exhausted and didn't get enough sleep, but couldn't bear the thought of sleeping on the road one more night, so we got up early to make sure we had time to get to Utah. Almost as soon as we crossed into New Mexico we started dealing with the ridiculous wind, which is one of the worst weather conditions we've ever driven through, and made us sort of hate New Mexico with a deep passion.

7. Eight hours later we crossed into Colorado, where the scenery automatically became prettier and we felt like we were finally on the home stretch. It was lovely until a few miles from the Utah border, when a sheriff randomly decided to follow us. He'd passed us in one of the small towns just after Cortez, but apparently pulled over somewhere and then when we passed him, pulled back out. We were going exactly the speed limit (driving a giant truck, hello), not driving erratically, not littering... I really don't know what he found suspicious. But we knew he was following us when Mike slowed down a lot and the guy didn't take any of several opportunities to pass us. This went on for ten or fifteen minutes—until we reached the Utah border. I was pretty pissed, since it was apparently nothing more than bullying and it caused us a lot of stress.

8. The rest of the drive through Utah was fine until we passed Price. Then it was dark, and we had a lot of windy canyons to drive through. That was a little traumatic, I have to admit, after having spent the previous two days in the flattest, most open landscapes imaginable. And the general horribleness of the drive. And the fact that we were still getting there two hours later than we'd hoped. But we made it. 

And that's the story. There's more to it, which I will share if you ask, but otherwise I'm done for the night. I just really wanted to post tonight, since it's been about two weeks since I could really get online and do anything more than Facebook. We're finally in Utah, and we spent all our savings to get here (gas was also a couple hundred more than we'd planned, since we were now driving a 10' truck instead of our little Sentra). We have no car, which is making it a little awkward to look for jobs in Salt Lake. But somehow everything still seems to be going okay. And as long as we can get jobs before the next round of bills is due, I think it will continue to do so.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Babies Growing Up

I was thinking today about how my nieces and nephews match up age-wise. Kennedy and Mia are the oldest, but I had Alex first, because I hadn't married into the Shorten family yet. Now there are three new babies too, and the toddlers in between. In fact, I realized that between my family and Mike's, the nephews and nieces divide pretty cleanly into three different age groups—the big kids, the toddlers, and the babies. This year:

Kennedy—12 in August
Mia—10 in May
Alex—8 in July
Cillian—5 in June
Foxx—3 in May
Jaylee—3 in November
 Sapphire—8 months in June
Brielle—5 months in June
Kayla—3 months in June
 Which is another way of saying that for every kid on my side, there are two on Mike's side. That makes sense because I'm the oldest in my family and Mike has two older siblings. But it's still funny because I'm used to being the one with the big family. Ah, well, just give us time. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

"See you again in Utah." Famous last words.

Instead, I am seeing you again in Wichita Falls! Which is three hours from home. Oh yes.

Our car died this afternoon, in the middle of nowhere between cities. We had to get towed, which was expensive and took forever. He took us to the Nissan dealership in Wichita Falls because there are only two mechanics in the closest town before that and they were both booked. The Nissan guys told us it was the alternator, and that no one in town has the part; we have to wait until tomorrow morning, when we'll pay $650 for a $260 part and an hour of labor. After the tow and the hotel room, we'll have wiped out two thirds of the money we had saved for holding us over while we look for jobs.

We're doing fine, though, aside from a minor meltdown a couple hours ago. We're not sure if it's going to work out for us to see Jennie and Sean in Albuquerque now, which is lame, and we also probably won't get to Utah until late Saturday night at the earliest. But frankly, as long as we get there, we don't really care. And we'll just have to make sure we get jobs right away, which we were hoping to do anyway. Fingers crossed that we won't have any more delays.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The time has come, the walrus said...

Yes, I quote that poem way too frequently. I know. But I watched Alice in Wonderland with Lana and Harper today, so I was even more likely to use it than I always am.

I worked this morning, my last day with the girls. That's kind of a sad thought that I'm not really dwelling on right now. We bought snacks, got gas, picked up the trailer, and dropped off the last of the library books. Mike was a busy worker this morning, bringing at least half the boxes downstairs while I was at work, so we loaded them all into the trailer and brought a few more down. We're taking a break right now to rest and eat.

In some ways, things could have gone smoother. I picked up a cold yesterday, and Mike's still working with an injured leg (though he can, thankfully, now walk with just a limp). It's also been raining constantly since yesterday, which isn't ideal. But it lightened enough that we barely got sprinkled on while we were loading, so that was nice.

In other ways, things have gone surprisingly, blessedly well. I started packing weeks ago, which means we never felt really rushed. Monday and Tuesday of this week were a little stressful as things started to really sink in, and we got a little nervous. But it turns out that even with Mike out of commission for an entire week, we had things done perfectly on schedule. There haven't been any problems with the trailer or the car, and we bought a lot of new boxes, which makes things much easier to carry. All the practical aspects of things have gone about as well as they could.

Goodbyes, however, have not been fun. Not that we expected them to be, of course, but even I was surprised at how hard they were. Thursday night last week we went to dinner with friends because Meredith and Zach were leaving for California at 3:00 Friday morning, and won't be back until after we've moved. Sunday we said goodbye to Dafni, Brandon, Jaylee, and Brielle, which just about killed me. I cried hysterically for the rest of the evening (so yes, I've had better birthdays, though the rest of the day was lovely). Last night I hung out with Talia and Alex, which was fun and sad, but not as hard because Alex is old enough that (1) she can understand what "moving" is and (2) we decided we'll write letters. Hopefully we'll be able to see Lori and Christian tonight, and then we'll be off. I'm actually half thinking we should leave tonight instead of tomorrow morning, because it feels like we're going to have time to kill, and with all of our stuff packed up that doesn't sound very appealing. But it'll be fine, whatever we end up doing.

Well, I'm tired, and I think I hear Chinese food coming, so that's my cue. See you again in Utah!