Sep 28, 2012

Long Distance Woes

I usually try to be positive about my long distance situation. But I can't lie, I've been feeling anything BUT positive about it lately. Yes, bla bla it makes you work harder at your relationship and all that, but I'm tired of working hard. I just want to come home after work and cuddle with my baby.

This week has been missed messages, phone calls cut short, and just about every other thing that could go wrong. This is the bad & ugly of being far away from the one you love.

1. Communication frustration: we run on completely opposite schedules these days. I do a 9-5 and she's got all sorts of classes, clinicals and work that often go from evening til morning, or morning til evening. I hate talking on the damn phone. The only person I make an exception for is K, because it's often the quickest and easiest way to talk. We jump back and forth between texts, phone, and if I'm lucky, facetime or iPad messaging. And although we touch base at least once a day, and I don't go to sleep without an "I love you", you want and need more conversation than the snippet of the day's highlights edited together for your 10-30 minute call.

2. I'm missing your life: even with regular communication, you're not there. You miss things. Sure, you get to hear about anything important, but you miss all the little funny things that happen day-to-day. The concerns, the sighs, the stubbed toe, the chuckle at a TV commercial. There is no possible way to relay all of this information, and it would feel ridiculous if you tried. But it's nice to be there for it.

3. No one to hold: physical touch is a vital need for most humans. I'm not even talking about sex (although, that's a need too!) Just the most basic - and hand rub on your back, a hug, a little squeeze can resonate with something inside you and give you a sense of well-being and feeling loved. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about how much I would love a cuddle from my baby. Sometimes you just want to be held tight, you know?

It just all gets me down. And I know I sound a bit pathetic. And poor K gets streams of sad texts, "Do you love me?" "Do you remember me?" "Will I ever see you again???"

"Of course dove," she reassures me, and then tells me how many days are left until we see each other, and tells me she loves me.

I'm just not good at this sometimes.

The magnet I made for her, to put up in her new apartment (I find it therapeutic to send her things in the mail when I'm really missing her). "Some birds are red, some birds are blue, but none are as fuzzy and buggy as you!" I call her my fuzzybug...

 I usually end up going to bed around midnight. And if I'm talking to her I can hear her bird clock in the background. We refer to midnight as "summer tanager o'clock", as in "oh no! it's almost summer tanager! I need to get to sleep." I also call her my little bird... (I think I literally have infinite nicknames for K, because I'm always using new ones).

Sep 26, 2012

Surrounded by Love

This is too pretty not to share!

As beautiful as this is, you know what I find even more beautiful than the wedding itself? The way they are surrounded and celebrated by friends and family. People snapping pictures, dancing with them and beeming at the brides walking down the aisle. So much love.

(Source: 822 Weddings)

P.S. I need to go to Vermont, look how gorgeous with the mountains as a backdrop...

Sep 23, 2012

Planning My Sister's Wedding

People seem to think it's a little strange when I tell them I'm planning my sister's wedding. "Isn't the bride the one who's supposed to be doing all that?" "Yeah, normally I guess," I explain, "but if you knew my sister you'd understand. She's not really into all of that."

I believe her exact words were: "I want to do everything as cheap and simple as possible."

In fact, we had this huge, heated argument today over whether or not she'd have a photographer at all. She said we could just have someone "snap a couple of group shots" and I nearly had a heart attack. The only captured memories of your wedding day... "snapped" by a friend, which may or may not turn out as quality photos in the least. Horrible shadows. Poor resolution. Nothing to frame. Nothing to share with your parents, or children.

None of this should surprise me. We grew up very close, but I was always undoubtably the bossy older sister, "for her own good!" Somehow in our adult life this has translated into her disagreeing with me on just about everything. Ah well, sibling relationships.

The point is, I think things can be "simple" and "cheap" without doing plain white table cloths with zero decorations. I'm a designer & an artist, and as long as I can remember I've been a DIY-er. For all of our differences, I love my little sissysue so much, and I genuinely just want this to be an incredibly meaningful day for her, filled with people she loves, and memories that last forever.

We went and scouted the family farm today where they'll be getting married this coming spring, and my brain has been brimming with ideas ever since. I'm the maid of honor, and the unofficial wedding planner, and I feel lucky to be part of it all. I'm so happy for her and I want the day to be all about them.

Have you planned a wedding? Any tips or advice? Do you think it matters if weddings are lovely? Any  opinions on using a professional photographer vs. not?

My argument was: "you may not see the importance of it right now, but you'll be thankful to have the photos someday."

the barn for the reception
have you seen these fingerprint guestbook trees? too cute!
the ceremony on the lawn, under the pergola with the pond as backdrop
The happy couple, aren't they cute?

Sep 20, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Finally, I am finished being consumed by the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games, Catching Fire, & Mockingjay). Once you start reading, there's no turning back, you must accept that you will read all three books and just cut out blocks of time for it. (Or rather, stay up late reading even though you have work first thing in the morning...)

I saw no point in reviewing the books separately, because they are clearly one story.

Before I read these, some people had given me the impression they were kinda teen books with romance, a-la-Twilight. Others had told me they were depressed for days after reading them. I didn't really know what to expect.

They are by no means romance novels. And the love interest, love triangle - whatever it is, is not the purpose or theme of the books. Not even close. It's part of the story, but I found myself not really caring about that at all some point through book 2 because there were bigger issues at large.

I don't want to give huge things away--because maybe you haven't read it, but just in case you know nothing about the series: The books are set in the distant future, seemingly in the US, but the US is gone, and a new country called Panem exists in it's place, divided into 12 districts, and then the Capital City. The Capital has the 12 districts in complete submission, and to remind them of its power, each year the Capital randomly selects two children (between ages 12-18), from each district, to compete in a staged tournament called The Hunger Games where they will be forced to fight to the death, leaving one remaining victor.

It is on the day of "the reaping" in district 12, for the 74th annual Hunger Games, that we meet Katniss Everdeen, our heroine. A courageous, rough-edged, whip-smart 16-year-old girl. We follow her on a terrifying, heartbreaking, inspiring journey.

I can understand why these books might leave someone depressed. There are elements of this "future country" that feel eerily realistic, as though the human race could devolve to an existence like this. Lies, greed, wars, and more than anything - forgetting the humanity of our enemies. People getting so caught up in being "right", that we forget that we share this planet with other humans, who have just as much right to life and happiness as we do.

"Collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction."

"In the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen."

The way we paint people as the "good guys" and the "bad guys". The way we love to hate each other. The way we forget that the people on the other side are human. I think that is what I most took away from the books. That tragic point when we find a way to trick our minds into ignoring the humanity and inherent worth of another person, and justify a reason why we deserve to exist on the earth more than they do. How incredibly arrogant and foolish.

If nothing else, these books will get you thinking! Everything's not all perfect with a cherry on top, but in the end you will be left with a glimpse of the good in the world and a future with hope.

Have you read the series? What did you take away from it? Do you think humanity could ever reach a point like this?

P.S. After I finished Hunger Games I saw the movie--very well done! I thought it was very true to the book, while at the same time, taking advantage of the medium to bring the story to life in ways the book couldn't do from a limited first person narration. Can't wait to see what they do with Catching Fire!

Sep 13, 2012

I Eat Change for Breakfast

It's been a hell of a week, and my thoughts have been so scattered I haven't been able to pull something cohesive together for a post. The result: a Thursday mesh of everything. And it's a beast too. Geez, this is what happens when I go for too long without blogging - I puke up a bunch all at once. Remind me not to do that...

A Magical Find

I apologize if you've already seen this a gazillion times on twitter, but I wanted to write a little bit about it. Last Saturday, I was on my way somewhere else, and I happened upon this quaint little shop in town. Some brilliant, creative people opened the shop with a mission to create unique items from completely re-purposed, recycled, reused materials. In only a matter of seconds, my eyes settled on this baby and I was in love. I pretended to look at a few more things, but I knew this was going to happen. I'm not a materialistic person, per se, but sometimes I have connections with inanimate objects and they resonate with some part of who I am. This coffee table spoke to me of travel, hope, adventure, secrets, magic and the future. At first I was wishing it had a world map--I love all things international--but I feel like the US map is growing on me. I've already decided with friends we're having an election party to mark off states' votes on the evening of the election. Possibly involving some shots, maybe just on the swing states. I still haven't decided what to put in the coffee table. Blankets? Art supplies? Letters? Do you have any items in your space that just make it feel like you?

What should a put inside my new giant suitcase?

A Thought on Body Image

I've been working on a post about body image for a long time. It will probably need to be more of a series of posts. Someone posted this post on facebook the other day and mentioned they will use this in their workouts as motivation.

Don't have the real source for this, someone just posted to facebook.

As you can see, it's a poor little sad rhino running on a treadmill, gazing at a photo of a beautiful unicorn. I realize it's just a funny cute cartoon, but I found it sad. That rhino will never look like that unicorn, and it seems to be making him unhappy trying to achieve that. Is that what some of us look like - beating ourselves up because we don't look like unicorns? I'm obviously not against, you know, working out or treating your body well and being healthy. But I think there is something a little off in our culture about body image - where it's unacceptable to look like a rhino, even though... you are one. Ugh. More on that to come. Do you think it's ok for rhino's to strive to look like unicorns?

A Welcome Change

"Ruth, you eat change for breakfast", was what K said to me the other day when we were having a conversation about the future. (Just to clarify, change as in evolving circumstance, not as in the metal currency). K dislikes change. She gets attached to things being a certain way. The future worries her because it is inevitable chock-full of all sorts of change. In that regard, I am the complete opposite. Change is exciting to me, full of mystery and discovery and challenge. She has a big change coming up--tomorrow I am driving to go help her move! Into her first apartment! She had a friend looking for a roommate, and everything fell into place. I am so happy and excited for her (yes, not gonna lie, I'm happy she won't be living at home anymore...). This is a great change for her. She's handling it all in baby steps and doing pretty well. She called tonight, perplexed over which laundry basket to buy. I love her. I'm so proud, my little bug is growing up. And this means we're one step closer to living together. Any big changes coming up in your life that you're excited about?

One Quiet Moment

Busy on my way from somewhere to somewhere to do something this week, I literally forced myself to turn the damn car around, park it for a sec, and take a break to walk out on the bridge to see this sunset. I was surprised how much effort it took to make myself just stop for a moment and enjoy something beautiful. It made me realize, I don't do that nearly enough.

Sep 5, 2012

The New Normal

Wow, this actually happened today at work.

We have a little in-office instant messenger system at work, and today a co-worker sent me this photo and comment:

"I want to be like "oh how pretty", but I just can't."

sorry, don't have the source! :-(

It was just so unexpected and out-of-the-blue, my brain took a moment to register what she was saying. I replied with "you can't what... I'm confused?" And then I realized she meant, she can't look at that lesbian couple and say that's pretty. She can't look at that type of love, and find it acceptable.

For one tiny second there my brain had considered other options, anything but homophobia. Maybe...the hanging lights? One of the brides dresses? But no, it was the couple she found disconcerting - that adorable lesbian, in-love couple.

What I don't get is... this girl is otherwise a really cool, smart, progressive sort of person. How can thoughts like this come from someone like that? (Exhibit A of why I don't want to come out at work. If you think this is bad, you should hear stuff my boss has said! Damn the ass-backwards Midwest.)

After my "I'm confused" message, she explained further:

"I just kind of tilt my head to the side and go, huh? I love the gays... but it is even a little strange for me."

I have about ten thousand things I would have liked to answer. But it really wasn't the time or place. I'm sure I will tell her eventually about me and K, and she'll probably remember this conversation and be embarrassed. 

Here is what I would liked to have said:

Yeah, gay people are soooooo gross. (Just to see if she still defends them...) 

Before you say something you regret, you should probably know that I'm gay... (to be nice and try to spare her embarrassment).

Wait...why is this strange for you? It's two people in love... getting married. That's kind of how weddings work. (to be a smart-ass)

Oh really? So if me and my girlfriend get married, you won't be able to say that's pretty either? (for shock value, she'd probably think I was kidding though)

How would you like it if someone looked at you and your husband and said... "ew, that's strange, who could call that beautiful"? (to be mean)

So, you love "the gays", huh? Then why do you think their love is worth less than your own? (zing!)

How can you judge someone else's love? You think your love is "normal" and put anything that looks different from that down? (plenty of examples like this in history - will we never learn??)

Why is it strange for two people to be in love, exactly? Don't you know how shallow it is to invalidate this couple solely based on their genders? Love is love. Why is that so hard to understand? (attack mode)

...what would you have said?

I think with people like her, they really do want to say "oh how pretty!" and mean it. I think they do want to be accepting and loving of gay people, in their hearts. It's just still a foreign thing to them. Maybe they don't know gay people. Maybe the fact that their government or church doesn't condone gay marriage or gay love makes them afraid to accept it. Maybe they're just afraid of something that looks different than their "normal", and they don't understand it.

So the only fix for all of that, is to help bring a new normal to our country. Pop culture embracing lgbt love. (Thank you NBC for your new sitcom, "The New Normal" to move things along - as well as shows like Glee and Modern Family!) Legalize gay marriage in every state. More and more people coming out, along with lgbt allies speaking out. Campaigns like NOH8. And pretty soon we'll all be looking at this photo and only see it for what it truly is: Love.

Here's a little love I want to share today, to honor the new normal that our country is moving towards.
(Tell me you can look at this and NOT say "oh how pretty!") Source: So You're Engayged. Photographer.

This picture says it all, "For Real".

Sep 4, 2012

Unfortunately, It Isn't That Simple

A while back, I had one of my favorite "coming out" experiences. For the first time, when I told someone about me and K being together, she didn't ask questions about what my labels were, or say "I still love you" in a sympathetic way. She asked real questions. Questions you'd ask any friend you care about when they tell you they're in love...

"Do you think you two will always be together?" It was genuine and honest, and it validated that my relationship was just as likely to last, or not last, as anyone's.

The question made me stop before I answered. I have two answers to this question.

"I don't know," I had to confess. "When we're together, and it's just us, we're happy, and life is good and as it should be. But unfortunately, it isn't that simple. We don't live isolated from the world. We live very much in a world full of prejudice and discrimination and fear and secrets. There are a lot of outside factors that play into our relationship - things I can't control."

It's easy for people on the outside to see me and K and say, "you love each other, what else matters?" But it'd be a lie to say nothing else matters.

Our actual relationship is solid and has been built with much love and much work over the years. And so far, we have managed to overcome so much of this outside crap. Whereas most couples just have to worry about maintaining a happy, balanced, loving relationship - we have to manage that alongside fear of rejection from those around us, along with consistent disapproval and discouragement because we are together. We have unhappy parents. Unhappy friends. I fear coming out at work. K avoids telling people at school.

I'm not try to just start a sob-fest here. I wouldn't trade my relationship for anything and I will not give up on fighting for it. K struggles with her own deep-seeded fears, especially because she is a people pleaser - and this relationship doesn't tend to please people. It's hard to watch her struggle with that, but I know she loves me more than anything, just like I love her. Ultimately we both have to fight our own battles, but I hope, with everything that I am, that in the end we will "always be together".

I guess I just get discouraged sometimes feeling that the odds are stacked against us. What odds have you overcome in your life? Do you ever find life more complicated than it should be? Do you think that being with the one you love is all that matters?

This weekend we went camping together and it was one of those wonderful times when we are isolated from the world and we are just be happy being us.

She's just so cute all cuddled up...
Our little home in the woods.
Always bring back up movies for rainy weather.
"Going Fishing" = 2 hrs of her fishing for "one more" and me reading.
Happy Heart toasting marshmallows.
Egg BLTs, a breakfast favorite!
Me and my love.

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