Thursday, November 30, 2006

Off for a few days

Tomorrow, I take the ever-wonderful 3.5 hour bus ride from Oxford to Cambridge for one final hurrah with the lasses. They better come visit me in Seattle, although I'm sure our cider selection will disappoint.

They've prepped well for my arrival. To paraphrase from an email today: "We drank a *whole* bottle of port between us after formal hall on Tuesday. But not before going to the Castle for other drinks first. What a clever idea. A lot of it ended up on X's floor and clothes, it appears ;)"

I've been assured that this floor, upon which I will be sleeping, became doused in port as a result of drunken drink spillage, not because the port made a second appearance later in the evening. The floor is now a bit "salty," but they've promised it will be clean enough that I won't stick to it tomorrow night.

If I'm well enough to get on the return bus, aka not in bed nursing a three-day hangover, I'll talk to you Sunday evening. Until then, it came to my attention that The Onion posted an incredibly un-funny story about domestic violence. Sure, they parody everything, but this one was handled in poor taste (and the mental images it conjures are disgusting). Crossed a line? Discuss.


The joys of cell phone companies.

First, you must envision all of this taking place with call assistants who have such thick Scottish brogues that I can't understand every third word, no matter how hard I try or how loud I crank the volume on my handset.

Second, I think I popped a blood vessel in my eye after the third call.

"Hello, I'm a current customer, and I'm unexpectedly relocating overseas next week. I need to find out how I can close out my account."
"You can't."
"Erm, what?"
"You can't. It's too early."
"Okay, well what if I pay a penalty?"
"You need to give us 60 days notice if you want to close your account."
"SIXTY days?!"
"In writing."
"Are you serious? Can't I give it to you over the phone, or by email?"

"Hi there, I'm an existing customer and I have to move overseas next week. I know I can't cancel my account until January, which won't actually cancel it until March, but I'm trying to find out how I can make payments when I have to close my bank account."
"Hm, that is a problem."
"Yes...yes, I'm aware of that. It is my problem, after all."
"Tricky, that."
"But surely I can't be the first customer in the history of your company to deal with this?"
"Well. Let me put you on hold."
Long period of intermittent music and static. Two voices pick up the line.
"Hello?" "Hello?"
Apparently, he's brought in his supervisor/trainer.
"You wanted to talk about making bill payments from overseas?"
There's now a lovely double-Scots/Southeast Asian echo going, in which I can no longer understand anything because she's literally feeding him every word, and I CAN HEAR TWO OF EVERYTHING.
"Yeah, that's what I said."
"Well, you can just put it in your husband's name, if he's staying here. Call back the day before you go and say you need to switch the billing info to his debit account."

I hang up, satisfied, then grow suspicious.

"Hi, I'm relocating and need to confirm something I heard yesterday. I'd like to switch the billing info to my husband's debit account. He's a customer, too."
"Oh, sure. I'll just pop the form in the mail."
"Form?? Another form?"
"Yes, it takes 28 days from the time we receive this form for the change to go through."
Me, stammering furiously: "But I was told yesterday that..."
"Ah, well you were misinformed."
"But my bank account is closing in four days! What am I supposed to do? I have his information right here -- hell, I can have him CALL you and talk with me."
"Well, that won't work."
"Because you have to send in the form."

"Hi, look, I'm an existing customer, god knows why, and all I want to do is make a bloody bank account transfer without having to hand-deliver it to wherever the hell you are."
"Ah, you need to fill out a form...."

So the short of it is that I have to fill out a form! and make a "manual payment" by phone from the U.S. on the 20th, which in theory is supposed to work.

In theory, I'm going to be sent to collections before I ever get this right.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One more from the Christmas dinner

How can you not love that face??

proof (?) that leggings aren't the spawn of Satan

Look, when you live in the UK, you either purchase leggings or you have people mutter about you behind your back, or even to your face. ("I'd never wear what she's wearing!") So, I admit it: I caved. I caved knowing that I don't have the right skirt or ballet flats (aka, feet-destroyers) to pull it off, but I went willingly nonetheless...(I'm sorry, billygean! I know you hate them.)

...and the problem is, I kinda like it. So be honest: how bad is this? I wore them out in public already, so you're too late to save me there -- but you can save me from doing it again. Although, I warn you: the brown houndstooth with the green shirt? That's pure me, baby. It stays.

See what England does to you?

Getting ready

Four suitcases down, one to go.

Hey, you try moving most of your worldly possessions overseas and back when you weren't expecting to do so for two more years. Just wait until I get to move our apartment fixings back if I actually find a place of my own this year, which of course depends upon a) being able to pay the rent and b) being able to find a pad in Seattle's ridiculously tight apartment market. Thanks a lot, all you migrating wealth-seeking tech people, turning my old buildings into condos and driving us into hovels on Aurora. Could you go home now?

It hasn't registered that I'm down to my last week in England. This time next Wednesday, we'll be on our way back to the States. There are so many things I'll miss -- Oxford on a crisp, clear winter day; friends in Cambridge; decent beer (yes, even warm beer can be decent). The number one thing, of course, is the part of me who's staying here. Monday night was fun, but it was the first of many events where we're going to be answering the same questions over and over again. Yes, we're living apart now. No, it's not because we particularly want to. Yes, we'll be fine. And you know? We will be. We knew going into this that we were marrying young, and that neither of us was the kind of person who would be able to drop their dreams when the going got rough. If I'd stayed with the Ph.D., I'd be abroad from now until next fall anyway -- and then I'd also have an extra year in the UK, while CB would be going wherever his postdoc takes him.

Is it going to be easy? I can't lie -- sometimes, I wish that one or both of us didn't feel such strong pulls towards the things we want to do. But most times, I'm just grateful that CB is the kind of feminist man who doesn't even ask whether I could resist those impulses. He's the one who's been telling me to follow them, all along. And the good thing is that, if it really came down to this, we would both walk away from it all to be with each other. I just have to have faith in that knowledge, to find the quiet sense of trust underneath the external turmoil. I'll be blogging a lot in the future about the joys of a long distance marriage, in the hopes that all of the other professional couples I know will find a little solace -- there's a lot more company here than you think.

Back to Seattle I go, hopefully a little wiser from living here. I feel like I have a more nuanced understanding of my country now, or at least of how others view us and what I can do to offer a more balanced perspective. I wish I could stay, despite the smoke-filled pubs and manic bus drivers. There's a song that always runs through my head when I'm going through a big transition, and it's playing again tonight.

High winds blowin' in the sky will carry you away
You know you have to leave here
You wish that you could stay
There's four directions on this map but you're only going one way...
You could walk a hundred thousand miles
and never find a home
You always knew someday you'd have to strike out on your own
You look up at the clouds and you can see which way the wind is blowing
Due South, that's the way I'm going
Due South
Saddle up my traveling shoes
I'm bound to walk away these blues
Due South

Okay, so I've never once actually gone south, per se, but so what. I think it conveys the wistfulness and the fortitude pretty well.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Ah, the holidays...since there's no Thanksgiving in the UK, and since we live far enough from the shopping centers to avoid seeing all the twinkly lights, I'm actually enjoying this year's build-up. Our Friday celebration was wonderful, and I'm actually glad I cooked everything from scratch -- except the nut loaf, which I should have. Ours was good, but I bet it would have been better if it also met the home-produced standard. Below, witness our wonderful biscuits, cranberry sauce (yay for the sound of bursting berries on the stove), garlic-and-muscat-wine basted potatoes, and the aforementioned nut loaf.

The real sign of a good Thanksgiving?

We spent the ensuing hours lolling on the couch, rising only when required (e.g., when we really wanted some of the pumpkin pie we made together).

Last night was a little more adventurous, as it was the Geneticals Christmas Dinner. Ever been in a room full of 40 people who spend most of their time talking about tagSNPs and linkage disequilibrium? Oh, and cricket: a disproportionate percentage of CB's lab cohort is Australian, and the Asher's is on right now. It's a massive cricket test between England and Australia. All I know is that the English got killed -- and the ones at our table were so irritated that they got up and left whenever the Aussies brought up the subject.

Naturally, as a very non-genetical person, I'd forgotten that a "dress up" event means "wear your best jeans and leave the Lord of the Rings tie at home." At least CB humored me and dressed up as well.

Then, after being pennied (see me chugging a full glass of red wine below), it was off to the Purple Turtle, a cavernous student union bar which epitomizes the term "dive bar." Swing dancing to bad '80s British rock ensued...that's what happens when CB's good bud is a former member of the uni dance team, and when you combine him with former swing-cat me.

We left the club around 1:30 and walked back to Bryan's office, where I'd wisely stashed a pair of tennis shoes for the walk to the bus. On the way, it became apparent that my feet really didn't appreciate wearing heels for the first time in months. Dancing might not have been the best idea. And that is why any late-night stragglers saw a well-dressed girl walking in nylon stockings through wet streets, heels squishing in the sunken areas where half-frozen mud and leaf muck had accumulated for weeks. By the time we reached the office, all the bits of my feet which weren't blistered were numb, and the nylons were sodden. I can only imagine the conversations his office-mates had this morning when they came in to find a pair of torn, dirty nylons in the bin.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Feels like home to me

We're celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, since we had a longstanding, unavoidable conflict this evening (and who really wants to eat their biscuits at 10pm with bike grease on their fingers after a maintenance class?). I'm actually attempting to cook almost everything from scratch: the cranberry sauce, the biscuits, the rosemary and olive oil-drizzled potato medley, and the veg. We gave up and purchased a nut loaf, although now we're both wishing we'd just tried making it, too. Then again, our oven is very willing but also the size of a breadloaf. Hence, we're already demanding more of it than we should.

This is the first Thanksgiving that CB and I get to celebrate together, snug under the roof of our little apartment, sharing food and enjoying the peace. I can't imagine a better way to spend the day. We will not think about how it is also the last Thanksgiving we'll share for a couple of years. Or at least, I will attribute my misty eyes to onions.

Someday, some year, we'll all be under the same roof for Thanksgiving. Until then, to my family on the west side and my family on the east, and to all of our friends in your myriad places, have a peaceful day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Overheard at last weekend's post-formal hall party

"You say po-TAH-to, and I say po-TAH-to
You say to-MAH-to, and I say to-MAH-to
Po-TAH-to, po-TAH-to
To-MAH-to, to-MAH-to
This song's pants*, isn't it?"

*pants = mild invective for stupid

Friday, November 17, 2006

What the fuck is happening to my country?

Please, if you don't do anything else political in your life, read this story and think about where we're headed. Thanks to Dr. B for the tip. Here's part of it:

An incident late Tuesday night in which a UCLA student was stunned at least four times with a Taser has left the UCLA community questioning whether the university police officers' use of force was an appropriate response to the situation.

Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student, was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and then taken into custody when he did not exit the CLICC Lab in Powell Library in a timely manner.
..Community Service Officers had asked Tabatabainejad to leave after he failed to produce his BruinCard during a random check at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
A six-minute video showed Tabatabainejad audibly screaming in pain as he was stunned several times with a Taser, each time for three to five seconds. He was told repeatedly to stand up and stop fighting, and was told that if he did not do so he would "get Tased again."

Tabatabainejad was also stunned with the Taser when he was already handcuffed, said Carlos Zaragoza, a third-year English and history student who witnessed the incident.
During the altercation between Tabatabainejad and the officers, bystanders can be heard in the video repeatedly asking the officers to stop and requesting their names and identification numbers. The video showed one officer responding to a student by threatening that the student would "get Tased too." At this point, the officer was still holding a Taser.

I couldn't even finish watching the video the first time -- I was shaking too hard and had to stop. It took a long time for me to finish it. Oh my God, his screams...they kept shocking this kid. SIX minutes worth of shocks. I don't think I've ever in my life felt so disturbed. This is what democracy looks like? Being TASED because you can't produce a goddamn LIBRARY CARD in time? Jesus, the reason he couldn't stand up is because he'd been tased! While wearing handcuffs. Because he didn't have his student ID on him. Who the fuck trained these guys?? And how awful is it that the students had no choice but to sit and WATCH because the officers had guns and so no one could help this kid? I don't really care if he was committing an act of civil disobedience, which is what some people say -- you should not be assaulted if you aren't being violent. Is that suddenly a radical proposition??

This is the symptom of a sick society. Why don't we just call this "war" a failure? We've already destroyed the way of life we supposedly set out to defend.

I don't know who to write about this or what to do, but I will find out. This is too sick and wrong to write off as "just one of those misunderstandings" that happens in a time of war. Fuck the war. If this is what we're fighting to preserve, I'd rather just quit.

I've emailed tips to the NYT and every other media outlet I can think of - please do the same with your local paper.

Update: UCLA's student paper does a much better job of analyzing the incident than I did.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spreading wings when I don't want to fly

Today, I sent in the second resume I've submitted this week.

To Seattle.

So, here we go. As I've said before, I don't feel terribly great about any of the choices we have, but one more day of sitting in the house feeling less like myself and more like an animated piece of furniture...and I might go a little bonkers. Don't get me wrong - I do go out, but I have to invent things to do, which sounded great until I remembered that everything in Oxford is expensive, and everything which is not is usually outside (and it is bloody cold right now).

I don't feel like waxing eloquently tonight, so I'm just going to grumble and leave it at that. Thanks for understanding.

(Incidentally, I would really like to land that second job. I am rather excited about it. Crap. Can someone help me figure out a way to convince CB's department that he could complete his Ph.D. in another country?)

So *that's* why ET's parents abandoned him

I would have high-tailed it out of the atmosphere, too, if I'd seen this.

No worries about being invaded by aliens. They'll take one look at that giant monstrosity and think, "Eh? Why bother?"

Monday, November 13, 2006

But really, graduation

I did actually get to the ceremony, although it's not the funnest thing in the world to go through an entire afternoon on a couple of new potatoes and half a bread roll.

It was the perfect culmination to the year: a truly Cambridge event. The robes with hoods so heavy they threatened to strangle you whenever your shoulders shifted. The university's old guard stalking through the Senate House in red robes trimmed with white fur, stamping their silver canes and hissing for audience members to stop making noise when they sit (how dare you walk as if you actually weigh anything in this hallowed ground?!). The Latin rolling like an incantation off the tongues of college presenters. The parading through town and the kneeling and the blessing and the shivering under a mottled autumn sky where King's College stands etched against the clouds, immutable and unperturbed, silent witness to 800 years of this same ceremony.

Somehow, it also seemed fitting that our university "degrees" could have been printed out on my spastic Lexmark inkjet. Maybe the university is still miffed that it can't use dried sheepskin and hand-ground ink sticks anymore.

It was a very nice day, finishing with a visit to our favorite pub of all time and a brain cell-killing film (also the funniest, most cringe-worthy film I've seen in awhile). While our families couldn't be there, I was lucky enough to have part of my extended Cambridge clan in attendance. It meant even more knowing this might be one of the last times we see each other regularly (can't think about that yet, though).

So, here officially closes the year. Frustrations and heartache, yes, but also friends and fieldwork and one step further on this journey. Was it worth it, in the end?

I would have to say yes.

So, graduation

Activities I might discourage you from pursuing the night before a graduation ceremony:

Number One: Attending one of your university's notorious formal halls

Number Two: Using the formal hall as a combination "Reunion of Girl Powers" and "Thank God We Aren't the College Officers Anymore" celebration.

Number Three: Well, this one speaks for itself.

Number Four: Reaching that point in the evening where you foolishly think maybe, just maybe, you aren't completely repulsed by the taste/aroma/existence of certain alcohols anymore.

In my defense, I should note that this is the *FIRST* time I've been out partying since the last time I was with this crew in early September. Bad, girls. You are bad.

I don't think there's any need to detail how the following morning progressed, but fortunately I still appear to be clinging to the tail end of those years when you can recover from things before your 2:00 ceremony begins. Recover by the time of rehearsal? Well...not so much. I don't think anyone really bought my impending flu excuse, either.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Meanwhile, back in my hometown...

What on earth happened? How do I always miss everything? First, I love the fact that most of my town appears to be gathered around this intersection. That there's the most exciting thing to happen since they put in that newfangled Starbucks up on the main road!

This is the highway I drove most days to get to school. The town's off in the trees, and I lived up a hill behind where the photo ends.

I'm pretty sure I know where this house is, and I'll lay you good odds that I went to school with their kids.

The river reportedly crested around 34 feet and ate most of the downtown area.

Note the "flood water area" sign. This is the second prominent photo I remember involving our signs. The first, from the big flood 10 years ago, showed a water-covered landscape with half a yellow sign poking out that said, "Warning: Flood --" Helpful, those government signs.

I used to drive this road to my volunteer jobs, although only during college -- when I graduated from the local high school in 1999, the road was *still * closed due to flood damage from 1995.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rummy resigns

The rats are leaping from the sinking ship.

The morally upright party accepts responsibility


Some of the linked blogs would be funny, if they weren't seriously that delusional. Blaming the losses on ignorant voters who are too stupid to do anything but lie around and wait for some nameless throat-cutting terrorist to come along? Come on, guys. This is *why* you lost. Because deep down, you think the public is just as stupid and malleable as any of those elitist liberals you criticize. Got news for ya: the public is sending you one hell of a message right now. If you really don't want to listen, it's fine...but don't kid yourself into thinking that "conservatism did not lose." A handful of anti-gay marriage amendments and a smattering of potentially reasonable property rights bills don't sound like a roaring victory to me. More like a squashy, low-lying fruit falling off the tree.

The best part

Do you want to know how paranoid I was last night? I was convinced that the epic floods in Washington are part of a cosmic plot to keep west-of-the-Cascades voters from getting to the polls, thereby allowing certain pro-I933, anti-Cantwell contingencies to reach out from their dry deserts to deliver the blow of the righteous.

Whew. Glad I was wrong.

I woke up this morning, and it feels like Christmas. Except for the Virginia marriage amendment part. But here's my favorite sign of the times so far -- Fox News, forced into the "no spin" zone because there just isn't a way to spin this time:

Yeah, that's right. Not much else they can say, is there?

Aw, and President Bush is really disappointed in the results. I'm sure the failure of the South Dakota abortion ban and the failure of a gay marriage ban in Arizona aren't helping his morale.

If you're curious about how the world is interpreting the outcome, check out Simon Tisdall of the Guardian, the BBC's coverage, and additional Guardian commentary. I hope Tisdall is wrong -- we have to turn around our foreign policies and regain a modicum of global respect, or else all of this electoral fanfare is for naught.

Also, based on what I heard on the radio yesterday, a lot of people in other countries didn't understand that we weren't voting for the president. I hope they aren't disappointed when they see he's still in office this morning.

I wish I were home to celebrate in the middle of a jubilant crowd. I lost my political appetite in the 2004 election, and the conservatives have been in charge since long before I could vote. It would have been great to experience serious group optimism again...I hope we still feel this good two years down the line.

At least for now, life feels pretty good. It's about damn time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It ends tonight

(we hope)

(we especially hope the Dems have a plan after the celebration parties)

...At least, it should end tonight. However, indications are that today's just business as usual in the wonderful world of dirty politics. (Scroll down the pages for posts on election-related problems around the country.) The phone call-instigated voter intimidation in Virginia is reportedly under federal investigation. Electronic machines are going haywire in several states -- apparently, elections officials didn't think it would be prudent to check the machines (and learn how to use them) before the morning of the big vote...which means many people are reportedly waiting in line for an hour only to leave or risk being late for work.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Haggard fails to make good

Sure, you could use the opportunity to admit that repressing your gay identity your whole life can lead to a lot of pain for everyone...but why bother when you can call homosexuality what it is: dark and repulsive?

The sad part is that his flock appears to buy it. Note that while I link to this article, I do not endorse the headline. Haggard didn't bare his soul -- he trashed the souls of people who are brave enough to be who they are regardless of what hate-mongering preachers say.

Proving why Virginia should perhaps be drummed out of the Union

Please, please read this article. Then, go join the ACLU.

An excerpt, discussing Ohio, which has a law in place like the one which Virginia may enact tomorrow:

In two appellate courts, judges have struck down the state's domestic-violence law, which protects against battery from a "family member, spouse or a person living as a spouse." The courts found, not unreasonably, that the words "living as a spouse" give an unconstitutionally marriagelike status to unmarried couples.

So, is it safe to say that the voters, legislature and judges of Ohio, as well as potentially those of Virginia, believe that:

1) If you are an unmarried hetero couple, you are immoral; therefore
2) You deserve whatever you get, including having your ass beat by your abusive partners; and
3) We are under no obligation whatsoever to protect your unrepentant selves (see 1).

Are you still convinced that gay marriage issues only matter to gays?

Tell it, sister

Bitch Ph.D. posted some thoughts on feminism, two-career relationships and making choices which resonate so deeply with my own life right now that I can't really summarize them, or the thought-provoking responses which ensued from her readers.

She gets to the core of the monsters in the closet which it seems like all couples face, unless they're both willing to partition the life roles into neat halves (e.g., "you be the breadwinner, and I'll be the homemaker"). Not that I have anything against partitioning -- it works well for some people, and it worked fantastically for my own family -- but it cannot and will never work for me. This has become painfully clear in recent months. I should be perfectly content right now: I have time to write, to think, and I'm liberated from financial worries.

Except that "liberation"? It feels a lot more like dependency. Like Dr. B says, economic dependence doth not a happy feminista make. Particularly when it's one in a cluster of little things which make you feel like it's just about impossible to balance your life and your career if you happen to be a woman -- and, worse, end up making you feel guilty if you want to try the balancing act anyway.

Here is my very serious disclaimer: none of this is intended to reflect on CB, who has been more supportive and understanding of the situation than I ever imagined anyone could be.

That said, graduate school is one hell of a reality check. It should be easier in this world for two book-loving geeks in different fields to find programs and funding in schools which aren't several hundred miles apart. So, off we went on our separate paths because neither of us ever considered giving up school for the other (having had friends with parents who did that, I'm a bit headshy of the notion). It was absolutely the right thing to do, even if my program wound up being something of a disaster. But, like Dr. B, it's all the things we didn't know to plan for which are revealing just how difficult it is to stick to your own principles in real life.

So now, here we are, unexpectedly: one of us is having a deservedly fantastic experience here, is surrounded and stimulated by a vibrant intellectual environment, and is clearly on his way to the career of his dreams. The other, well, the other enjoys having the time to write, but she spends hours scouring the job ads to no avail, is not liking the housewife-type-role she naturally falls into, as she does indeed have more time to be doing the cooking and such, and avoids going into town because she has *always* made her own money and cannot adjust to the idea that it is somehow okay for her to let him be the breadwinner. (This is different from being ungrateful, trust me -- I'm more than grateful. That doesn't mean I'm not uncomfortable, too.) Try as I might, I'm going stir crazy.

And yet, even though I'm admittedly unhappy, and even though I'm fortunate enough to have a partner who sees this (perhaps even clearer than I do) and who has supported the growing sensation that it is time for me to go home...I don't want to leave him. That part is fine -- I'd be more than a little alarmed if I didn't feel that way! -- but unless I find my work, it is time to go, and here is why I'm so hot under the collar: I am absolutely guilt-wracked, plagued ridiculous Donna Reed ideologies to which I've never subscribed but which suddenly haunt me whenever I seriously contemplate leaving. I don't know where these thoughts came from, but they're inside me hammering on my skull, telling me that a good wife doesn't selfishly abandon her husband for a career, of all things (and this spectre is always wearing an apron and smoking a Virginia Slim). A good wife is content to be with someone she loves because being together is all that matters. A good wife doesn't feel overwhelmed and frustrated in a situation she can't control -- she relinquishes the control, the money and the career, and she finds a job wherever she can get one AND SHE IS HAPPY.

I want to strangle this voice with her own apron strings, but the problem is that part of me wonders if she's right, even though I know better. That unconfident bit of me feeds off the responses we've been getting from well-meaning friends, classmates, family and perfect strangers since we announced that we were getting married and moving to separate cities. "But you're his wife!" I still remember one acquaintance saying with confusion, when I explained that I was thinking about moving home. Another person, who I'm pretty sure had the best intentions, gasped and cried, "Oh, that's just terrible! How awful for you both!" when we came to them with the good news that we'd been accepted into our respective programs. I swear she physically recoiled when I told her that we didn't see anything so bad about it. And now, it's starting all over again. I feel like a selfish bitch because I want to move back to the States, find a place of my own and work in the field where I'm pretty sure I belong, rather than spend two years kicking around a country where I'm not happy, where I've never been happy, and where I didn't really want to be in the first place. I know I could work at a coffee shop or as a receptionist, but *I don't want to.* And why should I feel bad about that? Hell, CB could do that, too: drop out of school and follow me to do what I want. He could work as a lab tech or a programmer and probably feel like I do now. But not one person has ever suggested that option, and people think I'm crazy when I try to draw the analogy.

Don't think I feel good about this. In addition to missing the husband, I'm worried about being a financial drain because we'll have two residences instead of one. I'm terrified that something will happen to CB, and I won't be there to help him. The little things are the worst: who's going to hold his hand when he has a bad day? What about when he has to sleep alone in our double bed? I've explained to him before that I feel like I'm being asked to tear away an essential part of myself, no matter which decision I make. And the only thing that tells me I should leave is that I know this part, this incredible man in the UK, will come back to me. When he does, he'll bring my long-absent heart with him, and maybe then I'll finally stop hurting.

These choices, these awful choices. I'm afraid they'll never end, that one of us is always going to be making huge sacrifices for the other instead of both of us finding ways to compromise which still leave us happy. Worse, I'm afraid they'll only end when one of us gives up and opts for something that one person doesn't really want in order to make life easier (historically speaking, that will most likely be me even if both CB and I fight against it with everything we have). Lord, if he gave up his dreams for me, I don't think I'd ever forgive myself. And I am deeply, deeply bitter at a world which provides no support system for couples who share a deep-seated conviction that they will move through this world as equals. Like Dr. B said in her responses to comments:

"...The stuff that both men and women have to deal with--moving a long way, asking your partner to make sacrifices, being broke--*do* affect women more than men. Women are more likely to be told they're "lucky" that their partner supports them, to have partners who make more money, their clothes and grooming cost more, they're more likely to have internalized the expectation to spend more time with the kids and want a cleaner house, etc. etc. etc."

A reader noted some of her situation-specific issues, but they're things I think about, too:

"1. He supports me, but if he is unhappy in an industry job, am I supporting him?
2. In the sciences, men just don't take time off to raise children. There is almost no map to how this would effect his chances for tenure. It is a little itsy bit better for women
3. I chose this completely 'useless' humanities degree, he chose his very 'useful' science degree."

I'll tell you one thing: if we ever have kids, we will both be working parents unless I know in my heart that I want to stay home. (Oh God, see what I just did? I didn't even consider that he might want to stay home instead.)

There's no brilliant conclusion to this, no witty rejoinder or astute observation. I've just noticed lately that an increasing number of women and men I know are going through similar situations as we find the partners who make us willing to struggle through all of this. I don't mean to sound too pessimistic -- plenty of couples get through this and find ways to make it work. I truly believe we are one of those pairs, because I don't think either of us would have gotten into this if we weren't. Nevertheless, Dr. B's post was sobering, and it clearly unleashed a torrent I've been damming up for some time. The last 1.5 years mark the first time I've truly realized how many things in life are unforeseeable and uncontrollable, and it threw me for a loop I wasn't expecting. Growing up can be a real bitch.

Friday, November 03, 2006

We resume our current programming

Oops. One dinner and four hours later, I'm feeling rather silly.

Don't misunderstand: still irate, wronged and generally discontented.

But silly. Do forgive the first-ever dropping of the mother of all curse words on CSS. I blame the heat of the moment. Or the Becherovka. Whatever. (Insert long explanation here to relatives in which I try desperately to convince them that I really don't drink more, I can't admit how seldom I drink. It's downright shameful, according to my hick root standards. Clearly, I am not cut out for the Faulkner and Hemingway Model of Writing Life.)

I go wild...cause you left me here

Let's see: angry Poe on the stereo, rapidly draining glass of Becherovka on the table...getting drunk alone is not something I do often (ever?), so what could possibly precipitate such an event? Oh, only getting screwed today after spending two fucking months trying to secure some sort of job in this country which apparently does not desire my services. I finally had a repeatedly promised meeting scheduled for Monday, and guess what showed up in my inbox at a quarter to six this evening?

"I'm away on Monday, so let's check in after the 14th, I'm pretty free at the end of that week."

Oh, really? That's great. 'Cause that officially marks three full months since we were supposed to meet. It's not like I have job offers lining up at the door here, so I have to accomodate to your flaky ass, but man I wish I could tell you to shove it. Instead, I'm stuck here like some homeless mutt, waiting for anyone kind enough to take me in for a few nights.

I have to go home in January. I have no cash, no job future, nothing. What the hell else am I going to do? But I really, really don't want to go. Leave your love behind, or postpone that calling you have for just a little longer?


Isn't it ironic...

I feel a little sick and a lot guilty for being elated at news about the leader of New Life Church...but I can't help it. I hope this is true. If you devote your career to condemning behavior in which you participate behind closed doors, maybe it's time for a job change. It's really unfortunate that his life is so screwed up, but how exactly do you garner sympathy by using your fame and power to make other people miserable when all they want to do is live as they see fit?

There's gonna be a party when the wolf comes home

Next weekend, I'm taking the 3.5 hour bus ride back to my graduate institution for my official graduation, as one of the strange rules of my institution is that you aren't officially a graduate until you participate in yet another ritualized ceremony. This morning, I'd actually started looking forward to the spectacle of it all: the stooping and kissing of somebody or other's finger (a great idea, really, at the start of the flu season); the formal lunch; the wearing of strange, furry hoods a la Harry Potter (disclaimer: no rabbits were harmed in the making of my hood. I felt excited for all of ten minutes, and then I noticed who else was graduating with me.

This is a November ceremony, which means the convocation is extremely small. Six people from my college will walk on Saturday. Of those six, two of them despise each other. Actually, "despise" is too kind a word. One wishes the other had never come into existence; the other wishes the first would collapse writhing in a blistering pool of fiery substances. And yes, of course, this all comes down to housemate disputes of yore. It would all be hilarious, if she hadn't accused me of truly heinous things which I think the school might halfway believe.

So, our entime graduate luncheon is going to be a frosty, silent debacle. Ever tried to avoid eye contact or conversation with someone who's sharing your very small table? I may have to accidentally cut off my finger with a butterknife if we're seated across from each other. Maybe I can stave off any simmering tension by blurting out what I could hear through the walls most evenings. That should encourage the others to change the subject before anyone spills blood on the steamed potatoes. Alphabetically speaking, I'm just behind this ex-housemate -- thank god, because otherwise I'd spend the entire ceremony terrified that I would finish with a knife protruding from my back.

See? This is why people should not be allowed to live together unless they know what they're getting into ahead of time.

Maybe I can say I've been deported back to the U.S. and convince them to let me graduate in absentia.

Thursday, November 02, 2006



Dubrovnik in the gloaming

No writing tonight -- I'm a little burned out for no good reason. I blame the weather: it is sunny outside, but it is also cold enough for our toes to turn white on bike rides. Evil, evil northern climates.

I hit 40,000 words today on the novel -- a milestone both exciting and frightening. That's all I'm going to say.

I'll regale you with a few more photos, then I'm off to bed. More interesting posts coming soon!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


John Kerry, you stupid, dumbass elitist idiot! You open your big clueless mouth ONE WEEK before the biggest election in the last couple of decades...and you come out with a statement that could single-handedly swing elections back to the conservatives???

Why??? Why can't you just crawl back under the from from whence you came and stay there until the people who *can* win elections are done with their work?

The airplay over here is not good. The BBC's been interviewing our troops in Iraq, and they are understandably (and quite rightly) pissed. Talk shows at home are on this like rabid dogs on rancid meat. Kerry played right into the out-of-touch, elitist liberal stereotype, and a halfwit apology isn't going to fix it. Oh lord...every damn time it looks like victory's in sight, they sabotage it. It's like they want to lose. They're starting to remind me less of national leaders and more of a certain purple and gold football team I won't name out of sheer filial love.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Measuring the cultural divide

Last night, our jack-o'-lanterns blazed on the front window ledge, and our porch light illuminated the short front walk. I'd donned a hasty costume to prepare for any kids who stopped by, and I have to admit that I was eager to meet a few neighbors, or at least see little ghosts and goblins running around the street.

By the time 10:00 rolled around, the candles burned out and my makeup-enhanced scars were starting to smear. I might have been severely disappointed, if not for discovering this story about England and Halloween in the NYT. Way to kill the spirit of the event, guys. And who in their right mind encourages kids to pressure adults for cash instead of candy??