Monday, August 30, 2010

Family Tree

My grandfather is, according to my grandmother, a sour kraut. He's almost 100% German, although we're not sure because of some sketchy adoption/missing family background information, but it's safe to say he's pretty German. (Born in America, but you know what I mean.) Generally at any family gathering, he sits back in his chair and watches the goings-on with half-interest and at some point during the festivities turns off his hearing aid. He wears plaid shirts and khaki's every day and most of us assume that he pretty much dislikes everyone.


So you know I took that assessment survey about what I want to do/have/be, and one of those things on the to-do list was find out about my Nana's family before she can't remember. I was visiting my grandparents and actually Grampa was really into it. He started telling stories about his family and growing up and I found out he's been trying to trace his roots for years. He even hired someone who could only find records for so long and then lost the trail. So now Grampa and I are on the case.

Now, I know most people find family tree stuff kind of dull. I, myself, am a history nerd and love it just for itself, but having my grandparents tell the stories? So funny.

Grampa told me that his uncle and my grandmother's father LOVED to argue. Whenever they had big cook-outs or parties and the two of them were there, they would inevitably get into it with each other. At one point my grandfather remembers his uncle coming into the kitchen looking exasperated.

"He's doing it again!" Grampa's uncle told him.

"Who's doing what?" My grampa replied.

"That son of a bitch keeps drinking my drink!"

It turns out that whenever Grampa's uncle would turn his back, Nana's father would take gulps of his drink, thinking no one noticed.

You know that laugh when you're laughing so hard you don't make any noise? My grandfather was doubled-over, killing himself telling some of these stories.

He also told me a neighbor once called his great aunt "ugly as a bucket full of asshole," and then remarked, "I had to agree!"

He was in such a jovial mood he actually SKIPPED WATCHING THE NEWS (that NEVER happens) and told another family member who dropped by to "keep the faith" and then laughed hysterically at his shocked face.

This is the guy that turns off his hearing aid?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reversing Repression

Two years ago, right before I decided to quit my 9-5 and up and move to South Korea for a year-long teaching stint, I was gifted a book called The 4-Hour Workweek. I've never read it the whole way through, but I've gone back to it and read it piecemeal here and there.

I decided to really go back to it. It explores how to figure out what it is you really want in life, and then how to get there. It's not about creating a savings plan so you could do it all when you retire- it's about discovering how to live like you love it and enjoy your whole life.

I love the idea of it, and decidedly took this self-assessment quiz because I've really been at a crossroads and needed to re-focus. (It's basically copied straight from the book, I just cut some of it short.)

1. What would you do if there was no way you could fail? List up to five things you dream of having, of being, and of doing.


1.) Professional-grade camera
2.) Does laser hair removal count?
3.) A second vehicle for when the husband gets home
4.) An entirely new wardrobe, work appropriate but also some sexy, TONS of new shoes, a fabulous store of lingerie, chic purses and totes
5.) A new computer with Photoshop, Lightroom, photo editing software


1.) A better photographer
2.) More well-read
3.) Closer to my brothers, especially my middle before he deploys
4.) A yoga instructor


1.) Travelling, by plane, to somewhere I've never been
2.) Collect Nana's memories of the family before it's too late
3.) Get married (again!) and have the most fun reception anyone's ever had
4.) Go to photography school

2. For all their bitching about what's holding them back, most people have a lot of trouble coming up with the defined dreams they're being held from. Consider these questions:

a. What would you do, day to day, if you had $100 million in the bank?
  • Kiss my husband and watch him get really excited about a new hobby or project.
  • Eat really good, really fresh food- strawberries, brie and french bread for breakfast....mmm....
  • Help someone who really needs it.
  • Wear incredibly gorgeous and yet somehow incredibly comfortable clothing.
  • Take Q for a hike.
  • Find some new place to explore.
  • Take and edit photos.

b. What would make you most excited to wake up in the morning to another day?

  • Knowing that my J was going to be happy and stress-free, which happens so rarely
  • Living in another country, someplace in Europe, and grabbing my camera before heading out to shoot something amazing I'll just stumble upon
  • Teaching children something really meaningful and inspiring

3. Fill in.

-one place to visit: Eastern Europe-Prague? Croatia? Romania?

-one thing to do before you die: climb up to Machu Picchu

-one thing to do daily: love on my little family

-one thing to do weekly: take a leisurely, relaxing bath

-one thing you've always wanted to learn: French

Whoa. I wasn't expecting some of that.

Three biggest things that I learned about myself from this exercise:

There was nothing in there about losing weight.

Most of these goals are really reachable. Really reachable.

I don't want to have a baby right now.

Yeah, whoa.

The Mafia..?

Ok, so I was totally going to write about the fact that I was mistaken for a 46-year-old, and two hours later, a 16-year-old, today, but I walked into this scene right around dinner time:

What is that? Well, that would be my father, "sorting his ammo," according to my mother's response to the question that must have been all over my face.


Let's back this up. My father, about 100 years ago when I was a wee babe, occasionally went hunting with a few of his buddies. (In this scene, picture a small red-headed she-devil crying and yelling from the front porch that they were killing Bambi's mom-that was me.)

They didn't really ever shoot anything; it was just a weekend to get away and be "men", or whatever.

He has not been hunting in years and I have not seen him go anywhere near guns/ammo in over two decades.

"Dad, where'd you get all this?" To which he responds, "Sid".

My father is a mechanic who works in a big shop owned by Sid. Sid is a very large, very loud Italian man with a crazy temper and a generous checkbook come weddings and graduations. He has also, during lunch at the local Chinese restaurant, stabbed a guy in the hand.

His gifts to my father so far? A 9mm, a piano, a coffin, and now, multiple boxes of ammunition.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Photography P.S.


I would love to be a wedding photographer (but also would be crazy thrilled to be one of those super-talented National Geographic photographers...ugh, amazing!) so I have this absolutely favorite site I love to browse through.

It's the Wedding Photojournalist Association site. I love to look at the winning images from their contests- STUNNING.

Really, I would die if I could take photos that fantastic.

Photography Contest Entry!

I love me some photography. Love looking at it, love doing it.

So of course I had to sign myself up for a photography challenge!

Point of View Challenge

A Statue From the ground up
A Reflection From above
A Circle, Triangle, Square shapes from the ground up
A Tree Branch from the ground up
A Shadow From above

A Person From Close up, far away, from left, from right and in their environment

(My brother looking over the Atlantic Ocean, from the

(My youngest brother, head down, heading to the Holy City, from a distance.)

Suprise me! Your own unique point of view

(My point of view, from the Wildlife Refuge, across the prairie.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kiss & Make Up

I just got off the phone with J.

We were IM'ing on facebook and got ourselves into a fight. Well, actually, I pretty much laid into him about stuff that I'd been holding in and trying not to say until I just kind of freaked out. (I did not realize that he was in the middle of a 36-hour shift, which is probably the worst time ever to decide to do this.)

So, then he calls me to basically ask wtf? We're going back and forth and at one point he's half-yelling, "Don't you know how much I appreciate you?!?"

And that pretty much ended that. How can you not start making up the minute they're angrily telling you how much they care about you?

Rain, Job & Sara Bareilles

It's raining today. It's strange to think that summer is really almost gone. I started the summer with J in Oklahoma, and now it almost feels like that was another lifetime.

I am so excited to see him for mid-tour leave! He's actually coming home sooner than expected, so he'll be home in less than 4 weeks! I am trying to plan something great for when he comes home, but I'm not telling him anything about it until we're closer to the date and know he'll be home/can swing it financially. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to jinx it...

Also, I start the new job next week. I'm working as an inclusion aide and I'm excited to get involved in something new. I've worked with children with special needs before but only in an informal way, or as the teacher in an inclusion classroom but my role was not specific to addressing those students who needed additional attention. You know when you walk into an interview and everything just clicks? It's like, yes, I am supposed to be here? Well, I definitely had that feeling immediately about the school so I'm pretty excited, and nervous. (I mean, it is a new job.)

Final random note: I'm into Sara Bareilles "King of Anything".

VERY excited!

Let me just preface this by saying that this will probably only be exciting to me, however...

I think I have found my gym. And I am so excited! I've tried another place around which was ok and tried P90x (at home workout DVD's) but...I don't know, I just wasn't feeling it I guess. However, today was perfect.

In my freshman year of college I worked out pretty frequently. I was in that gym 5 days a week, about 2 hours a day. (I took weekends off to drink and be hungover and/or lazy.) I have never felt so good in my life and had so much self-confidence. I've spent the last several years wanting to get to that point again. Also, I've noticed a small change this year in my metabolism and in my body. I'm still mid-twenties, but I don't want to get into my 30's and be shocked by my own appearance. I want to take charge and get back to being happy with myself.

There's a good and bad to this "freshman year" goal. The good and bad is that I never weighed myself, I don't know what size I was, and there are no measurements that will let me know when I've actually reached the goal. So really, it's just remembering the way I felt about myself.

There's also something underlying here as well. Disclaimer: this may be TMI. Ok, so I know that I am one of those people that brings their self-consciousness into the bedroom. If I don't feel sexy, I'm just not up to my best, which causes this whole thing of guilt and frustration and my poor husband has to deal with it. I HAVE to change this because, frankly, I want to be at my best and I want to get it back in return. I truly think you get back what you put in, and thinking about my body issues just is not going to work for me anymore.

So, I'm going to the gym to feel good about myself. I am going to splurge a little and buy clothing that fits me well, instead of items that were on the junior's sales rack 3 years ago that just aren't appropriate anymore. I am going to work on remembering how to feel sexy and good about myself.

And I'm very excited about it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The b*tching post.


Namely, J is deployed. So now I have a milspouse deployment blog...of sorts. I don't want to just be talking about how he's gone and how much I miss him...but let's not lie to one another, I'm totally going to sometimes.

He left about two months ago, so 10 to go! Where he's at is very hot, they've actually MOVED him (and one other soldier) to a DIFFERENT location in the past two months and changed his job several times as well. Not to mention the frustrations of trying to deal with finances from separate time zones and no consistency in communication, it has definitely been rough.

Also, I refuse to be one of the military wives who does not work, but has no children to care for at home. I think women deserve to work, and also have just as much responsibility to bring something to the table. That was something that really bothered me on base before-all these women opting not to work for no reason. Stay at home moms? Totally fine. Lazy wives that seem to be there only for the paycheck and tramp around the base in their most revealing clothing? Not fine.

This whole past year I worked at a local high school and was really happy there, and by the end of the year I was able to receive certification. HOWEVER, they had to actually send my OK cert. to Massachusetts since I moved back home.

Yes. Back with my family.

Don't even get me started. I love my family, but my mother and I are really starting to get into it lately. I was just really down about J leaving, being unemployed and having to start all over in another state, moving and the stress that comes with it, and having financial issues (and pretty consistent little arguments with J as a result), the guilt of not working and trying to spend as little of the money my husband was bringing in, etc. etc. So the whole time she's been comparing her first year of marriage and mine, basically saying it was the same because my dad worked a lot and she didn't get to see him, and she was unemployed as well.

I want to scream at her. WORKING LONG HOURS does not equal a DEPLOYMENT. Being unemployed because you chose to be (she has lived in the same town her entire life- there was nothing disrupting her job search or networking abilities) is not equal to UP AND MOVING AND STARTING ALL OVER.

She has told me that being negative and depressed (I've gained 10 lbs. since I came home, btw) means that no one will want to talk to me or listen to it because no one likes someone who is negative.

So if you've made it this far listening to me b*tch, thanks for being there in spite of the fact that I'm not particularly cheery at the moment.