What are we talking about today?

I used to have theme days. I've stopped doing that for now. My husband died in February and I'm trying to find a new normal. You'll probably read some sad stuff here for a while, mixed in with my usual ranting about bicycles and buses and books. I like 'B' words.

29 June 2015


It took me a day and a half to change my Facebook photo after I first thought about it, and that's because it takes me a little bit of time to decide whether it's worth it to upset people that I care about.

From lusi on freeimages.com.
Goodness knows I know what it's like to be disappointed by friends. After years of treating friendship far too lightly, I finally learned to give more gravity to how I approach other people. Gravity can hurt when things go in an unexpected direction. The people I care about are only human, after all.

Which leads me to now, and considering who among my dearest friends, people whose friendship is well worth fighting for, would be surprised by me taking a stand they disagreed with. Who would have a hard time with this. Who might need to step back from our online friendship for a while.

So yesterday's post was in part the beginning of a conversation. A conversation about whether friendship can survive disagreement. An acknowledgment that people may want to stop talking to me for a while. A chance for them to see that I don't do things that I know might cause a rift without putting some thought into it first.

I mostly haven't heard from those friends yet. Maybe they didn't notice (I don't really think their worlds revolve around me, after all), maybe they're less surprised than I thought they would be, or maybe they just need time to think things over, too.

Because friendship, when you agree AND when you disagree, is worth fighting for.

28 June 2015

Why I Changed My Facebook Photo

Like many others, I've changed my Facebook and Twitter photo to this:

Want one like it? Get yours here.
... to the shock and dismay of many who know me and apparently thought they had me pegged.

I knew people would be shocked. I knew some would be downright angry and disappointed. And I know some people will probably put this down to my grieving and being really confused right now, etc. etc.

The thing is, my position is actually that the government should get out of marriage altogether. We've built so many systems around whether people are married or not (I've spent years checking that box on oh-so-many forms), but I remain unconvinced that it's the government's business who I'm spending my life with.

So much for what I think about that. Why change my public photo and upset so many friends and family members?

1. I have a lot of good friends who get a lot of ugliness from people who call themselves Christians. It's time for me to stand with them for a while.

2. I see so much nonsense, from all ranges of the ideological spectrum, on my feed every day. And while I'm chuffed to have such diverse friends, it's also wearing on me. I have an "unfollow without remorse" policy, meaning that if I'm just getting tired of what someone is saying and can't read another word, I click the button to get them out of my newsfeed. But I'm tired of doing all the work, so I'm using this to weed out the friends list a bit.

3. I think it's well past time for Christians to stop spending so much energy on this and redirect that energy into other things instead of acting like the whole Bible is about gay marriage and abortion. Let's go picket outside the Golden Corral for a while (gluttony). Let's protest at the Lexus dealership and the Neiman Marcus (materialism). Let's stop being okay with people driving to our churches in cars that cost more than some of our neighbours make in a year, and walking into our sanctuaries wearing clothes so expensive that the money spent could have fed a family of four for two weeks. Let's go after the very real problems of poverty and homelessness, to name only two, in our cities instead of thinking it's their own fault for getting into that mess (loving your neighbour, doing for the least of these... I seem to recall Jesus saying something about that).

Do I believe that changing my Facebook and Twitter photo and shocking a few of my friends (some of them in a good way, btw-- there are people who didn't know I had it in me to take a stand!) will accomplish this? Of course not. I'm a lot more likely to get result #2 than result #3. But my silence is not always golden, and in this, I'll risk having fewer friends for the sake of using my voice.

(FYI, I won't delete comments for disagreement, but I will for ugliness. And if you leave me a long rant, I'm probably not going to read it, because I have other things to do. To paraphrase Javert, "Save your breath and save your keystrokes.")

21 June 2015

A Small Forest

It would probably be easier
to just have a bonfire.
Image from mordoc on
You hear stories, especially on cable TV, about people who manage to live completely off the grid with no paper trail documenting their life. I suppose there are many reasons that kind of lifestyle would be attractive, but right now, there's just one that is calling out to me: No paperwork.

Seriously, why does life take so much paperwork? Even death takes a ton of paperwork. I have days when I feel like Chadwick's life has been reduced to a file drawer full of paper. This human with a huge personality and a capacity to care so much about so many things is now a never-ending series of pages with the "Deceased" box checked and my name on the "Surviving Spouse" line. Except it will end, one of these days, and I'll be left with memories and a file folder. 

And even though all my bills are paperless, in my attempt to stop this single-handed deforestation, I have a box of notices that needs to be shredded and recycled. A project that I need to finish soon, mind you, because I'm going to need a place to store that file folder.

If that's all I have left, I'm hanging on to it as tightly as I can.

14 June 2015

Library Love

Image from Goodreads.
I just finished reading This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians can Save Us All, by Marilyn Johnson. And it's fantastic. Biggest takeaway: Learn more about the Connecticut Four, who are the subject of Chapter Five of this book. They fought back when the FBI demanded information about who'd been using the library computers. Learn about them-- this is the kind of thing we need to know.

If you read the Goodreads reviews, you'll see the responses are mixed. The points about the book being disjointed and not having a clear idea of what it's about are fair enough. Especially interesting, IMO, are the reviews from librarians, since this book is about their field.

However! I loved it, in no small part because libraries have kept me reading my entire life. I just dashed off a Goodreads review of Full House, a book I read as a freshman in high school that was solidly among my list of books to never, ever take home, because my parents would have freaked out. Our fantastic little library in my hometown kept me sane as a teen, allowing me to escape from the weird that is high school and my parents' insistence on keeping the TV running all the time. (Sidebar: when my family raced to my side after Chadwick passed away, they went something like 36 hours without the TV on because we just don't watch it that much, until my father finally couldn't take it any longer and turned it on. And that's what happens to people who don't spend enough time in a library.)

As much as I would love to own many of the books that I read, as much as I want to support authors, my book buying budget is sadly limited to buying just a handful of books a year, and in recent years that budget has been entirely spent on textbooks. So I use the library as my second bookshelf, so to speak, until such time as I'm independently wealthy and can build my own library with a small bedroom and kitchen attached.

Do you use your local library? What's your favorite thing about it? If you don't use the library-- why not?

08 June 2015

Whether There Will Be Weather

Tomorrow is a "one water bottle, two layers of
sunscreen" day,  for those keeping score at home.
The last few days have been bad ones, in terms of getting through the day still standing. In terms of diving deeper into the soul-crushing side of grief. In terms of, I just don't want to do this anymore.

So when I checked the weather a few minutes ago, my second thought after, "Ugh, hot," was "Ugh, what does it matter?" It's something that seems so important, what the skies are doing to us at any moment, but checking it right now just looks like another weirdo human thing I do out of habit, a weirdo human thing Chad will never do again.

And of course, my more rational side knows that truthfully it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, what the weather is like in Austin one day in June, but tomorrow morning at 8 AM when I'm on a bike to ride to work, it's kind of something I need to know. And even more so at 5 PM when I'm headed back, so I know how many bottles of water I should take and how many layers of sunblock I'll need to apply.

But then I get home, and he's not here, and the 5 PM things pale in comparison to the overnight emptiness in my room. When will I get off this sad-go-round, I wonder?

Post title is a quote from The Whether Man in The Phantom Tollbooth: "It's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be." Indeed.

30 May 2015

It's Getting Reel

Housewarming gift (garden warming?)
from a friend. I love it.
Since I completely abandoned theme days a couple months back, it's totally okay for me to blog about green living-ish things on a Saturday, yes? Of course it is.

So, we moved house (yes, again) at the end of April, and this time we're in a proper house. With a yard. I haven't lived in a proper house since I was 21, y'all. And while we could have paid someone else to continue maintaining our yard, I wasn't down with that and decided to do it myself, because...

I chased this guy around the tree
to get his picture! He was not impressed.
... I've dreamed for years of owning one of those reel push mowers. No gasoline, no motor, just my own calories being burned to cut the grass to reasonable levels. Unfortunately, between me finishing grad school, both Denise and me trying to unpack, and the relentless rain we've been having in Central Texas, we've only managed to cut the grass once since owning the mower. And that was Denise who mowed (Denise who has never dreamed about owning a push mower, but as with so many other things, has been swept along in this particular adventure whether she wanted to be or not. It's dangerous being my sister), because I was writing papers and stuff.

Any ideas what these are? Can I
put them on my cereal without any
ill effects?
This morning, after we managed to go about 24 hours without any new rain, I decided the grass was as dry as it was likely to get and hauled the mower out to make my yard look less like a tropical rainforest in the making. I gotta tell you, someone along the way has made some curious landscaping choices in this yard, including a line of rocks through the middle--whatever the rock line used to contain is long gone, so now I just have this weird set of rocks that make it really hard to mow the middle.

And there are sticks. Lots and lots of sticks. Reel mowers don't do well with sticks, as both Denise and I have discovered.

And there's a tree in front of the house that has dropped a few small branches into the flowerbed that lines the front, and I guess no one ever went in after them until today, when I dragged them out.

Does it look better? Probably not. I doubt anyone will be featuring this house on Curb Appeal any time soon.

Who else is doing yard work this weekend?

10 May 2015


Yesterday morning I had a work event to go to, so I rolled out of bed and strolled past my neglected homework on the way out the door. Because why wouldn't my work have two events during the final weekend of my semester when I'm trying to write two papers and pass this thing? (I'm not really blaming my boss. He had no say in the timing of either of these events. And I knew that this was exactly what I was signing up for when I decided to work for a nonprofit.)

The group on a mid-ride stop. Image 
grabbed from Senator Ellis' twitter feed 
(he's the gent in the middle
with the colourful jersey).
So the event was a 10-mile bike ride with some legislative interns, which is always fun, even for me who hates group rides. (It makes me nervous to bike alongside that many people, but I can deal.) After getting them all biked up and ridden around and our equipment put away, I had a couple of office-y things to do before I locked the doors and rolled off...

... to the Farmers Market. Yep, I had errands to run after the ride. All told, here's what I did:

  • Got stopped at an intersection because of a pro-legalisation march in the middle of town
  • Bought eggs at the Farmers Market
  • Picked up a book at the library
  • Rode through the Capitol grounds while the pro-legalisation group was demonstrating (they were not handing out samples, I'm afraid)
  • Stopped by the rummage sale at church
  • Figured out how to watch a video on UK's Channel 4 even though I'm in the US (with a lot of help from my friends) (and I still haven't had time to watch it, but it's on my to-do list)
  • Went grocery shopping
  • Finished one of my grad papers, even though I had to stay up to 4:30 AM to do it

Pic taken with my allegedly smart
phone. I got really lucky with the
dancing marijuana leaf.
I gotta tell y'all, I really underestimated the value of having someone in my house who was willing to do a lot of this stuff for me. It's been a while since I've had to do everything for myself. But! One paper to go, and I am DONE with this grad school thing. And there's nothing not to like about that. I'm looking forward to spending a Saturday soon just laying around with books and cups of tea and possibly some bon-bons.



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