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.


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 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.)

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?

October 3, 2011

It’s a long way up…or down, depending on how you look at it. Hua Shan Steps – via onua.com.ua

A mentor of mine announced today that he will soon be leaving (or mostly leaving) his post at the Ivory Tower in order to take a new position as a director of counselling-and-other-stuff. He said a few words about why this was so important to him. He said that we have places to put people who have struggled and failed and fallen on their faces and can’t seem to get back up again. We call those places “jail”, “hospitals”, and “mental wards”. We have very limited means to help people who have hit rock bottom but haven’t ended up in one of those places, and those means, like unemployment and disability benefits, are becoming scarcer all the time. What we don’t have enough of is ways to help people who are not yet at rock bottom, people who are scrabbling on those treacherous slopes. People who have lost their jobs, or their health insurance, or their homes, who are not desperately in need yet, but will be very soon. We need to help them so that they don’t fall all the way down, and have to climb all the way back up again. It is so much easier to give people a hand as they are starting to stumble than it is pick them up out of the mud and slog back up the mountainside.

He’s right, you know. I feel it all the time. I think that this is a great thing that he is doing. Of everyone I know, this is the man for the job. This is the guy who knows that platitudes aren’t the answer, and there is real work to be done in giving people tangible help, so that they don’t have to fall all the way down and climb all the way back up. I wish him all the best.

It’s a great thing for other reasons too. Here is someone who is leaving a successful academic career, by choice, to pursue a new and different dream, and he’s doing it with confidence and the full support of his community in academia. That’s not something you see every day, especially for someone on my rung of the career ladder. Choosing to leave, to do something other than this thing for which one has trained and toiled with monk-like devotion when it will no longer keep clothes on one’s back, is generally viewed as failure within the academy. Leaving by necessity, because there are no more upward moves to make, and increasingly fewer lateral moves either, is also somehow a “failure”. I don’t believe it, not on the rational side of my brain. But I’ve been here so long, that these are my people, and contemplating leaving is painful, even when there is no place for me to stay. And especially when “my people” don’t seem to understand that I can’t justify starving in order to remain. So it’s inspiring to see one of “my people” say, you know, you can do some good stuff over here too.

Not all who wander are lost, via mouthtosource.org

And so it begins. A journey through the liminal regions of my life. Collecting along the way thoughts, insights, shiny things that will hopefully be useful for whatever comes next. Whatever that may be. At the very least, writing it helps me sort my thoughts. I’d love to put all the shiny things and armfuls of journals into a giant steamer trunk – doesn’t “trousseau” evoke such a lovely image? – but my house is small, and that’s a whole lot of dead trees, and then there is the small problem of actually acquiring the shiny things I find on my intertube wanderings, which just ain’t happenin’ on my current budget. So instead I’ll put them all here.