Oh, it’s not over yet!

December 7, 2011

So the mister and I went to the courthouse for a marriage license today.

Many shenanigans ensued when the mister could not remember his SSN, ventured a guess, and then we drove home to find his card just to make sure – he was not even close, and I am glad I will not be married to whatever stranger is attached to said number.

Anyhooooo…after filling in the form in which the MAN and WOMAN headings were literally the biggest text on the page (lest we forget that Texas is into state-sanctioned homophobia – good thing they reminded me! I might have otherwise made the *terrible mistake* of marrying a lady!), the clerk prints out the license and asks us to verify that our names are spelled correctly. I tell her they are, except for down here at the bottom where it reads:

Mr. & Mrs. His Full Name
123 Our House
Our City, TX 12345

Excuse me? I tell her that isn’t my name, that I am not going to be “Mrs. His Full Name”. I am Dr. Magpie My Name and that I will remain so after we are married.

She explains that it’s nothing official, that my name won’t be automatically changed or anything, but she can’t change this section on the form because it’s the only way the State of Texas will accept it, so that they will know who to mail the marriage certificate to.

They won’t even mail my own marriage certificate to ME!?!?!? Nope, no need to do that, I’ve just signed away my own identity to become the mister’s appendage. I’m a non-entity, and non-entities don’t get mail.


She then told us that we could go upstairs and find a judge to marry us right then if we wanted – apparently they routinely waive the 72h waiting period even though the website says that’s for imminent deployment and other extenuating circumstances.

We did not because the cat had a vet appointment in 45 minutes: priorities!

But I’m also probably going to need a few days to cool down after that horseshit.

What is this, the 19th century??? 

I’m becoming increasingly certain that the “mandatory” 72h waiting period is not there for ill-suited-to-one-another horny teenagers to cool off before deciding to go through with it, it’s to give enraged women whose identities have been thrown away by the state enough time to cool off sufficiently so they don’t say, “FUCK THIS SHIT!!!” and walk out on their grooms to spite the patriarchy. If that’s true, a simple way to avoid the problem would be to not erase people’s identities by default…but then, this kind of thinking is probably why I am not and never will be governor of Texas.

I just feel so fucking impotent. What could I do except say “OK, if you say so”? I mean, we’d already paid for it (you have to give them the check before they print it and the “Mr. & Mrs. His Appendage” bit does not appear except on the printed license). I wanted to shred the paper into tiny little pieces, shove it all in my mouth, and then spew it all over the office. But if I did that they would probably decide that I was mentally unfit to consent to this marriage and then where would I be? Out the $72 and committed, probably. Fuckers.

I am so furious. If the certificate they send us in the mail says “Mr. & Mrs. His Full Name” anywhere but the envelope I will probably cry. I mean, that could be ANY WOMAN. As far as Texas is concerned, his ex-wife, myself, and any future wives are all interchangeable? ASSHOLES.


(Soundtrack for reading: Texas, I’m Trying, But You’re Killing Me Here, set to the tune of LCD Soundsystem’s New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.)

This year I became a Texan.

I’ve been living here since 2004, but was a full-time student until 2010, so during that time I elected to remain a “resident” of my home state (Texas gives students the option), since that meant I was voted for the last presidential election in a blue state, plus the damn county here wanted to charge me $300 for the privilege of issuing me a new Texas title on the vehicle I already own. Grrr. So I dragged my feet on adopting Texas as my new home for a long time.

This year I figured I should finally get around to it. I grudgingly forked over that $300, then waited for 3 hours at the DPS to apply for my new driver’s license. Handily, applying for a Texas driver’s license and for voter’s registration can be done all in one go. On the DL form, there is a question that asks “Would you like to register to vote?” I checked “yes”, and received my new license in about 3 weeks, as promised. I did not however, receive my voter’s registration card in the estimated 8 weeks…but I forgot all about it until the week of our local midterm elections 4 months later.

It speaks for itself, really.

Noting that I had not received the same volume of junk campaign flyers as the mister did, I remembered that I had never received my voter’s registration card either. So I called the county clerk’s office, spent about 30 minutes wading through a labyrinthine voice menu (I HATE those! What’s wrong with touch tone entry???), and finally reached a human being who confirmed that the county had no record of me as a voter. I read off the receipt I had from my driver’s license, indicating that I had indeed applied. That did not clear anything up at all. I asked if I needed to submit a new registration, but was told not to, that this could trigger an inquiry into “voter fraud” if my original registration of which only I seem to have a record were to resurface. I was told I should turn up to my local precinct, vote on a provisional ballot, and that this would result in someone more capable turning up my presumed-pending registration.

So that’s what I did. (It was kind of exciting – I’d never voted in person before. Shortly after turning 18, I moved to California, which does NOT allow full-time students from out of state to be residents, and so I’d always voted absentee.) The folks at my precinct were very helpful, and studiously walked me through the provisional ballot system so that nothing was amiss, and they assured me that if my registration were somewhere in the system, casting this ballot was sure to turn it up.

Two weeks ago I received a disappointing piece of mail in which I was informed that my provisional ballot was rejected because there was no record of my voter’s registration anywhere. I felt chastised, and a little hopeless about trying to navigate this whole mess again in order to become an enfranchised voter without triggering any kind of mess.

Then, miraculously, a week ago I FINALLY received a voter’s registration card in the mail, after no further action on my part. It states that it is valid from 3 December 2011, to 31 December 2011. So, not early enough for my ballot in the last election to be counted and just in time to expire before the new year. *LOLsob*

To sum up:

Stated method for becoming a registered voter: 1) check the box on your DL application, 2) receive registration in mail

Actual method: 1) check box on DL application, 2) call country clerk when nothing happens, 3) DO NOT re-register in order to avoid any accusation of voter fraud, 4) vote via provisional ballot, 5) have provisional ballot rejected because you are not a registered voter according to everyone, 6) FINALLY receive a voter’s registration card valid for a 29 day period during which no elections are held, and which does not retroactively include the provisional ballot that you have already cast, 7) later, rinse, repeat upon expiry of current 29-day-long enfranchisement?

It’s almost like they don’t want me to vote.

A Little Bit of Whimsy

November 25, 2011

Do you ever feel a little out of place? Like something’s just a bit off? As if you’ve perhaps slid into an alternate universe in which everything is so very much like what you know that you wouldn’t even know that you were somewhere else except for a few glances out of the corner of your eye in which something is not as expected? I feel like this sometimes. A bit like Alice in Wonderland. It’s occasionally disconcerting, but mostly just a little reminder to be mindful. To not make assumptions. And if I am feeling a bit out of place, to find my way back to where I belong. Finding my way back is a little more difficult when I find myself quite far down the rabbit hole of career choices, but I’m working on it. In the meantime, here are the creatures I’m encountering in my head.

These guys are just deliciously creepy...by Christina Hachatryan

Adelaide Gazelling, by GrandeOleBestiary

Queen Cat...no source found

Rainy Day Rabbit by Magda Trazaski

Rainy Day Rabbit by Magda Trazaski

Deer Heart...can't find a source

Rabbit Mask by Corrine Perier

I wonder which critter is occupying my head.


October 31, 2011

I don’t have a whole lot to say about these pictures, except to note that my eye is continually drawn back to them. Something about the pattern and contrast…

A baby tapir. Such a shame that they lose the spots. (Couldn't track down the original - if anyone knows who the photographer is, I'd love to give them appropriate credit.)

Coverlet reminiscent of Mexican folk art. Oh, the colors are so rich! From here.

Giant Leopard Moth, Austin, TX, by nikkorsnapper on flickr.

Rabbit Paper Cut Art by Elisa Mora

Leaf Cut by Lorenzo Duran

…reminds me of sun-dappled forests. Finally, we have a season other than “armpit” and I can’t get enough.

The long light of fall (couldn't find an image credit),

Chicken Lust

October 19, 2011

I am having nesting urges. I do not want babies. I want chickens. I want to get up in the morning and let them out of their hen house and listen to them cluck with glee as I dole out kitchen scraps. I want to eat eggs with vibrant orange yolks for breakfast, and know that they got that way because the hens are keeping our resident cockroach population in check. Circle of life, and all that jazz.

We live in an urban neighborhood, but houses on our street (including our own) all have small yards, and it is even LEGAL to have chickens (under a certain hen/sq. ft. density – no roosters allowed). We eat a lot of eggs and I feel like a small flock of less than half a dozen would satisfy my farm girl itch for a while.

However, it would be rather impractical given our current state of uncertainty. What if we take new jobs in the next 6 months? Who do you give your chickens to when you move out of state? I have no idea.

So, no chickens for now. Look, but don’t touch. I know how you feel, kid.

Fucking chicken. Can't even take it home with me.


October 18, 2011

I just love this little guy.

Personal Creature by Ellen

It really resonates. So light and airy and free and hopeful, but if you get too scientific about it, the little bugger should be struggling to achieve takeoff. How does it get off the ground with all those beautiful holes in its wings?

(link to the artist’s etsy page)

Buy me a pony

October 16, 2011

Let's be honest, I'd much rather have one of these than a KitchenAid mixer, but wedding guests aren't Santa Claus

Ooof. Wedding registries.

As a guest, I love ’em. Makes it easy to shop, and you know you’re getting people something they love.

As a bride, putting together a registry is causing me a lot of angst. I know that guests will very much appreciate having a registry to choose gifts from, but I can’t help but feel that I am being greedy and selfish by creating this huge list of “buy us things!”. Which is ridiculous of course, but I am really not great at holding myself to the same standards and expectations that I do other people. It’s fine and legit for other people to have registries, and I appreciate when they do, so what is this idea that as soon as I make a registry I am a little troll? Perhaps it is because we are having a “destination” wedding…which is only really true for about half our guest list. With family and friends on both sides of the Atlantic, no matter where we have it, it’s going to be a “destination” for some of them. I guess I feel bad implying that those who are already forking out the big bucks just to be there should buy us a gift on top of that. But you know what, our guests are all adults, and they can decide whether they want to buy a gift or not. But I want to make it clear that it is not expected. Is a short note to the effect of “your presence is presents enough” on the registry page of our website sufficient, or does that imply that those who can’t come are expected to buy us a gift? I don’t know.

Jan Brett's Christmas Trolls - I loved this book as a kid. They stole pretty mittens and the like even though they had no use for them. They just wanted pretty things.

So anyway, I am squashing the troll feelings and having a registry, but then the next problem is what to register for. We live in a small house, and given our respective employment status, we are open to the possibility of moving in the near future (which is also making the purchase of our own trans-Atlantic flights a bit sticky – it’s hard to buy them when you’re not sure where you should fly out of next July), so we don’t really want to accumulate a lot of stuff, especially in the eventuality that we will be moving overseas. However, we sure could stand to replace the mismatched Goodwill flatware, and the bargain basement “non-stick” pans I’ve had since college which are shedding Teflon. I am scared to cook with them, and it would be cool to replace with some really solid, pass it on to the grandkids cookware instead of continuing to buy the $6 pan from Ikea whenever another one bites the dust. (I inherited my great-grandmother’s cast iron Dutch oven, which is so meaningful to me, but that is a story for another time.) And recently there seems to be a small appliance flu going around – the blender, food processor, and crock-pot have all kicked the bucket within the course of a few months. But I use these so much I don’t really want to wait until next July for someone to buy them off the registry.

So yes, there are a few traditional registry things that we would love to have, and so we will register for them. I wish that were the end of it. However, I am told that we should register for 3 times as many items as there are invited guests (really!?!?) in order that there will be plenty of things for them to choose from, and we need to register for things over a wide price range (which OK, if we only register for fancy enameled cast iron cookware, that’s not leaving a lot of options for our equally cash-strapped friends). But we don’t need a lot of cheap gadgets and stuff…so what about registering for some real grown-up art? There is some great stuff on etsy from artists I love in the $15-$50 range, and if we move, it’s easy to pack. But it feels weird to register for such luxuries when many people we know are as precariously employed as we are.

And then, the question of where. I am inclined to just do an amazon universal registry. I love me the little one-click that can add things from anywhere else so it’s all in the same place and easy to find. But it won’t keep track of purchases from other sites so if guests forget to go back to the amazon list and say they bought it, we might end up with 3 copies of the same etsy artist’s print – I think it might be hard to return the duplicates in that case.

Pile of Presents

Some “registry guides” suggest registering at one online-only site, and then a couple of brick-and-mortars. I don’t know if this is for real or if this is another myth from the WIC. I can understand that some people who like to shop (I am not one of these) prefer to go into the store and pick it up themselves, but given that we are traveling to the wedding, we are not going to be registering in brick-and-mortars near the wedding destination. Guests who might buy gifts from brick-and-mortars on this side of the pond will not want to pack them all way over there, and we will not want to pack them all the way back, so perhaps the brick-and-mortar point is moot.

Some people register for honeymoon activities, which is great, but we’re not sure we can afford a honeymoon in the first place, so I would hate to have people buy us “zip-lining through the rainforest canopy” or something and then not go. My mom thinks we should do a honeymoon-type registry for the wedding itself, giving people the opportunity to “be a part of it” by paying for the bagpiper, or the ceilidh band, or the highland games, or something. Certainly, there are some guests who I think would love this, and we would surely appreciate it, but I am really hung up on the idea that some more traditionally-minded guests will see it as us asking them to pay for the party that they’ve just shelled out to travel to. Ugh.

I’m just really not sure what to do about any of this, and trying to sort it out makes me want to go hide under a rock.

What say you, oh wise intertubes?


October 15, 2011

Soooooo…I’m doing a boudoir shoot. Very soon. I am two parts trepidatious and one part very excited.

This is a tricky thing to talk about on the internets, but I’m going to do it anyway, because I think it’s better to say it than to treat it like a big elephant (heh) that no one will acknowledge.

I’m a little bit nervous about baring some skin for photos. Thing is, I’m not all that hyper-modest in general. Bodies aren’t something to be ashamed of and they are beautiful and healthy in all kinds of shapes and sizes and the sooner we all get around to cutting it out with the ranking them in terms of acceptable levels of thinness, we’ll all be a lot happier and healthier.

Here’s the thing. I think I’m pretty attractive. Yes, I said it. I’m a lady with decent self-esteem when it comes to how I look. I like the way I look. I have a nice smile, pretty eyes, great tits. On an average day, I don’t wear any makeup, because I think I look just fine without it thankyouverymuch (though I do enjoy putting a little on for special occasions, just because it makes me feel indulgent). I don’t spend a hell of a lot of time looking in the mirror.

Pretty Lady by Lisa G.

So when I see myself in photos, still wearing 25 of the 40 extra pounds that I packed on while writing my dissertation and self-medicating the stress of that process with far too much pasta and booze, I’m always a little surprised. Is that what I really look like? Because it’s not how I picture myself in my head, and it’s not what I see when I look in the mirror.

Hmmm. So now I’m confronted with a body that I don’t really recognize, and the fact that maybe I’m not so unprejudiced about fatness as I thought. There are certainly times when I’m a bit frustrated with how fast that weight went on, and how slow and stubborn it is about coming off. I’d like to say that it’s not about meeting the Beauty2K-compliant standard of thin (I’m not even going to try chasing that one). I’d like to say that it’s really only about feeling annoyed that my climbing harness doesn’t fit and I really don’t want to buy a new one, dammit. It is certainly that, and it’s also that the extra pounds sometimes throw me off balance when I’m doing the things I like to do – sort of like wearing my shoes on the wrong feet. My body doesn’t fit me right now they way I am used to it fitting, and that’s frustrating. But that’s not all – I’m not gonna lie, there are days when the self-esteem isn’t so bouyant, and I’m not feeling quite so galvanized against the cultural soup of body-policing, and I feel kind of down about how I look in my clothes (I blame the patriarchy). Which makes me a weeeeee bit nervous about how I’m going to feel in various states of undress. But hiding my body behind clothes is sort of not the point of this whole thing.

So, while I can say with total honesty that I don’t judge other people based on their size, I struggle to hold myself to the same standard (don’t revoke my feminist card yet, I’m working on it). And it makes me a little anxious about preserving this body in images, especially supposed-to-be-sexy images.

Illumination by Colette Calascione

But here’s what makes it OK. First, the soon-to-be-mister thinks I look fucking hot and the sexxxaaay pictures are for me and him, really. Second, the lovely Lauren* is shooting. Have you seen her photos!?!? (Also, check out her boudoir portfolio – it’s like no boudoir I’ve ever seen.) What I love most about Lauren’s photos (there are so many things to love) is that you see people, not bodies, in them. She has an incredible knack for capturing people’s emotions, their humanity, and it totally eclipses any silly fixations on things we usually see of ourselves in photos. Lastly, as a good friend’s mom is wont to say in response to someone balking at a difficult/scary/uncomfortable prospect, “If it isn’t illegal, immoral, or dangerous, it’s probably good for you.” Smart lady.

So now I’m only one part trepidatious and two parts excited. It’ll be an adventure.

*Incidentally, Lauren is the first commenter here on my blog – yay, Lauren! I fell in love with her photos right after we got engaged and before we’d even decided where to hold the wedding. A friend had pointed me to Offbeat Bride in order to prevent me getting sucked into the WIC, where I saw Lauren’s work, and thought, “hmmm, maybe it would be worth holding the wedding here in Texas so she could shoot it” despite the fact that we never had any intention of getting married in Texas – it had to be home, or Scotland. Via Lauren’s site, I found APW, which is where I spend most of my online wedding time these days. And then, AND THEN, Lauren announced that she was moving to Scotland and setting up her wedding photography business there, and I knew it was meant to be. So we booked her, and she offered not just her photography services but advice and commiseration on the bureaucracy involved in moving to Scotland as a US citizen (which we still plan to do as soon as we can both find jobs there).  Ergo, she is awesome. And everyone lived happily ever after. The end. (She probably had no idea until just now that I’ve been blog stalking her for so long.)


October 12, 2011

Aren’t these beautiful?

Ahhh! So precious. Mokoto Kagoshima

Terribly impractical – I mean, how do you stack them in the cupboard? But they are so pretty and peaceful. I could just stare at them all day. What’s the attraction? Well, I wonder. They look an awful lot like someplace familiar.

Home - photo by the soon-to-be-mister. He's never seen it without snow. It's just as pretty.

Pretty, innit? Every time I go back, I wonder why I left.

The Big Uglies

October 11, 2011

The Little/Big Uglies - whimsical paper cutouts by Vladmir Stankovic

*deep breath*

Some days, being objectively no better or worse than other days, are just crushing. I’m not really sure why, but there it is. Today is one of those days. Monday’s productivity lost to a sinus infection, looming deadlines at the end of the month and the year, and a general sense of futility with regard to the emotional fulfilment that I seem to feel entitled to in my job (HA!). Plus the never-ending to-do list of tiny little wedding things – very few of which are particularly urgent or important at this precise moment, but if dealt with now, they will never get the chance to pull the whole train off the rails later on when there are bigger and more important and more urgent things. Today, it is all sitting on my chest, and my throat feels tight. I try to breathe, let it all out in the exhale but it’s still just parked there. It feels about the size of one of our cats. We have large enormous cats.

One or two of these things would not be so bad, but there isn’t just one or two. What’s that they say about balancing work, life, and family? It’s actually very easy: just pick two. I think the same is true of balancing the Big Uglies in one’s life. Right now, it’s the job, and the wedding planning. The third is our financial no-fly zone. One of us is (under)employed (unhappily, but at least securely and with health insurance), and the other of us is unemployed (unhappily, sans health insurance). Fuck this economy, is about all I can say about it at the moment.

Some days, it’s all a bit much. Today is one of those days – it’s a little hard to breathe, and although my boss has been making rumblings that he’d like to see me spend less time in my office (where I am productive) and more in the lab (where I appear productive, to him), I find myself holed up behind my desk so that I don’t “accidentally” deliver a fatal puncture to someone’s jugular with the sharp end of a P1000 pipettor. Yikes. It’s not anyone else’s fault, or even mine, really (stop berating yourself, Magpie). These things that I am dealing with so poorly are at least for the present, very much outside of my control. And the things within my control (like the itty-bitty wedding planning goblins) are being beaten within an inch of breathing in my effort to wrest some semblance of productivity out of my day, even if it’s not the kind that really matters. I’m just not sure how to refocus the frustrated rage toward something useful (like the tedium of generating sequencing primers). Instead I sit here quietly hyperventilating, which is neither solving my problems, nor is it accomplishing anything useful towards my work. Tomorrow will probably feel better, even though it is unlikely that any of the Big Uglies will have worked themselves out overnight.

Anyone else feel like this sometimes? How do you snap out of it? Or at least redirect it?