Sunday, December 1, 2013

Li'l Bit of Paint

Want to see something awesome? I love paint.
It begins:
 Final product!
Actually, we only painted the front and touched up the windows. The rest of the house is still black/brown.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Landscape Dreamery.

We're moving.




I seriously cannot wait for the next chapter. What's completely awesome is that J's parents have a home they've been trying to get ready to sell for a few years but haven't been able to devote the time and energy that they wanted to. Since they are graciously and EXTREMELY generously allowing us to stay there for a while, we offered to help get it ready. Basically, we'll try and  help them get a better price and we'll get to try out being home owners before taking the leap. I'm so excited!

Idea for having a dog area that doesn't take up an entire yard but also doesn't look totally depressing.  Plus those little guys are so cute!

I've been told there's a chain link fence that is non-negotiable, so I want to come up with some ideas to make it a little more cozy.

Or we could just paint it green! (Or black...)





I would also really love a pergola...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Funny little guy.

 Since J and I will be moving very soon (eee!) I decided to hit up my trusty account and see if there was a family in need for the last few weeks of my MA tenure.

I have used this website before and it never fails which kind of surprises me. I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore since youcan find anything on the internet, but I'm always a little shocked that people leave their kids with me after finding me online. Regardless, 3 out of 3 experiences have been lovely.

This time I get to hang out with two funny little guys, 7 and 8, who enjoy fishing, crafting, reading, and Minecraft. Their family is moving around the same time J and I will be heading out and they're just looking for a little extra help during the moving process.

Basically, they're hilarious and we get along brilliantly. We go on adventures every day and I am so glad I did this because it feels like what summer is supposed to be about.

For example, this is G catching a large-mouth bass. I had to figure out how to handle that fish to get the hook out (which totally creeps me out, but I would never let him see that!) Normally we just reel in sunfish and I look totally capable, but not with a bass. After making an attempt the fish got loose, slimed down my front and landed at my feet. I started screaming, then laughing, the fish flopped against my ankles on its way to the water,  G started laughing, and the whole thing was just ridiculous. We also went canoeing and decided it would be hilarious to try and return to the dock backwards. He was laughing so hard he couldn't even breathe. Ah, so fun. He told me I'm the "kookiest lady" he's ever met. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's adventurin' time!


I am SO excited! This whole blog has been dedicated to my misery for the past year and that's about to change.

We are leaving MA in the next couple weeks and heading out to Arkansas.

To some (aka everyone in my family), this appears to be a hairbrained scheme designed for failure and ultimate unhappiness. Many believe that Massachusetts is as perfect a place you could ever find, with good schools, better-than-average salaries, and communities that actively seek cohesive perfection.

Some of that is true; drive through most towns around here and you will see beautiful, perfectly manicured lawns with stone fences and red geraniums or rhododendrons planted out front. Salaries are a bit higher depending on your field. Education is extremely important in the state and that means for more invested parents and towns.

I like Massachusetts, I do. Maybe we'll come back here someday, but for now my reasons to move far outweigh my reasons to stay.

Job Myth: Because education is so valued here, it would be a step up to work in MA.

Situation: I did not like my job here. I do not enjoy working with students who feel entitled or act like punks. Many students in MA told me that they would have no problem getting certain teachers fired. And they did it. It's an ugly, unappreciated position to be a teacher in that kind of setting. I also struggled to find work, even though I'm highly qualified and experienced. I knew an administrator who taught college classes, and you know what he tells students in the first class? "You want to be a teacher? Move." That's how tough and competitive it is here. I have more opportunities to teach, teach what I like, and move up into administration or the college level in AR. In fact, I'm going from teaching English at a middle school with a tough population and pre-determined lessons to teaching Pre-AP and AP English in AR with more freedom. Yes!

Winner: AR

Money Myth:  I earn more, and thus will have more money, in MA as opposed to Arkansas.

Situation: Yes, my salary is $12,000 more here than it will be in AR. HOWEVER, more money does not equal more happiness. It just means more paper. What actually matters is what you can get for that dollar; in other words, spending power is more important. Last year I made a decent salary. We covered bills and additional costs. Because the job market is so competitive, we each commuted about an hour each day, which took roughly $150 of our cash per week in gas alone. On top of that, food is more expensive, entertainment is more expensive. Massachusetts is called Taxachusetts for a reason, and that certainly makes a dent. We couldn't afford to live on our own here (the cheapest apartment I could find was $940 per month before utilities.) Looking down the line, yes, the money increases each year for a teacher but I have limited opportunities to move up. On top of that, because Massachusetts is so uppity they will not accept my M. Ed. from an Oklahoma university as sufficient and I would need to invest another $40k or so for a teacher prep program in order to keep my license. We would have to do that within the next 5 years or I would lose my livelihood.


Housing Myth:  Just like my cousins and others before me, it is typical to live with my parents, then move into an apartment, and then I'll be able to move into a house in my 30's in order to settle down and start making a family.

Situation:  I have a lot of loans, and because the housing market is ridiculous in MA, this is not a viable option for us. In fact, ever since the housing bubble burst, this has not been a successful strategy for a lot of people our age. A lot of us live at home. In fact, my parents are housing not only my husband and me but also my two younger brothers who are financially unable to step out on their own either.

U.S. Census Stats:

MA: Median value of homes: $343, 500
MA: Median household income: $65, 981

A house costs 5x the amount of money earned by the average couple.

AR: Median value of homes: $105, 100
AR: Median household income: $40, 149

A house costs 2.5x the amount of money earned by the average couple.


Quality of Life Myth:  People in Massachusetts take better care of what they own, are meticulous about their community planning, and have enough discretionary income to enjoy themselves. It's a better life.

Situation: I have to strongly disagree with this one. People from MA are descendants of Puritan ancestors and it certainly shows. Puritans believed in hard work but did not think highly of wealth. That translates now into people working extremely hard, constantly running, running, running, and not feeling free to really enjoy their incomes without guilt, even if they have the ability to do so. Conservative choices are always praised and respected. Colors here are muted; dark navy, red, black, grey, hunter green are popular colors. You are more likely to see a woman without makeup and in sweatpants than you are to see a woman who took time to put herself together well. You are ostracized for being feminine or trying to draw positive attention to yourself in a lot of ways. On the weekends, people here go to their second or third jobs (in my brother's case, his fourth) or work on the yard / house. In AR, we will be able to do what we want without so much judgement, and that will include a lot of canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, grilling, and visiting with friends / family.


PLUS, IT'S TIME TO ADVENTURE! I can feel it in my bones.

Monday, July 8, 2013


J and I have been living in the downstairs apartment of my parents' home for officially over one year now. Here is what I have learned:

1. I am much happier (and I think she is too) when my mother and I do not speak to one another.

2. My mother hates my husband, or is cold and rude to him often enough so that he thinks she hates him, which just amounts to the same thing.

3. I hate the dark and the cold. My friend N came to visit over the weekend and slept on our couch. When she first arrived and brought in her things she noticed how dark it was, even on a bright, hot, sunny day in New England. She actually asked, "Do you think you're likely to get seasonal depression down here?" Additionally, we all woke up around 10-11am the next morning because it is impossible to tell the time down here.

4. I am the worst version of myself here.

5. I have really conflicted feelings about Massachusetts. On the one hand, it's where I grew up. I know how the culture works and how people think, so even if I'm not always happy I'm at least comfortable. On the other hand, I'm a really miserable version of myself. I know that if I move I'm closing the door on Massachusetts and that's what freaks me out I think. Not only would it be hard to come back to this area to teach but my family does not take kindly to members leaving. There is no joyful homecoming; there's perceptible bitter judgement, resentment, and an overall "Fuck-you-you-think-you're-too-good?" or a belief that the person is an idiot and doesn't realize that it doesn't get any better than this. According to my father, "Every state wants to be like Massachusetts, I hate to tell ya."

N also noted to me that during her only interaction with my mother (after my brother checked to make sure it would be ok for N to come in to say hi to her without my mother turning into a total bitch) that she felt like we were freshmen in college again because of the condescending, nasty way my mother spoke to me. (Those were not exactly her words because she's too nice a person to talk about someone's mother like that.) Imagine that every time you make a move, any move, you get screamed at. For example, there is a complex parking situation here with so many cars. While we had people visiting, our normal routine went out the window for the weekend. Late last night, J got up and moved my car back into its normal spot because he knew we would get yelled at. Today, my mother and father both told me that I needed to park closer to the shrubbery or they were going to hit my car. Not like a hey, I don't want to hit your car....but like a hey, move it or I will purposefully hit your car. I ignored them while they turned their attention to my brother to complain about his parking, which had him yelling back in their faces because they pull this shit no matter how anyone parks.

On top of that, I decided to make some pancakes. I had extra batter and was putting it in a container when my mother yelled at me to just throw it out while at the same time my father asked why I didn't just make one last pancake and give it to the dogs. I decided to make the pancake, but my mother then yelled to just throw it out, she doesn't want her dogs to have any of it, and yelled at my father about getting involved. Normally, I would just put the batter down the sink drain but she usually yells about anyone putting anything down the drain so I turned to put it in the trash. She screamed, "Are you fucking STUPID?!?" At that point, I threw the entire bowl in the sink, grabbed my stuff to go downstairs, all while she was yelling that I needed to come back and clean everything instead of "having a tantrum".

This is what I mean. I don't know how to explain it to people; J always thought I was being dramatic or exaggerating when I talked about my relationship with my mother. Now he sees it. N seemed to think I was exaggerating about how difficult it can be to feel like a functional adult when living with her. Now that she's been made to feel like absolutely shit all within the 10 seconds she tried to say hello, I think she gets it. If I had the money/opportunities, I would move the fuck out, believe me. I fantasize about moving out without even telling them and never giving my address. I would rarely call and, if it wasn't for my father, I would most likely never visit.

It's toxic. If this was a relationship, every friend I ever had would tell me to get the fuck out and get a restraining order.

Friday, June 28, 2013

June Debt Check-in

I'm cheating this month.

$5,300.00 (C Car Loan)

$5,834.18 (J Car Loan)
$2,168.66 (J Gov't Loan)

TOTAL$13,845.72 $8,002.84
Result: Decreased debt by $5,842.88 in the past month. This is the cheat. I've traded in my car for a lease, but since I feel like I'm just on a 3-year rental plan, I've stripped the total debt out of the equation here. I still have the monthly payment in my budget but I've decided it doesn't count as debt. 

It makes me feel better.

student loan debt:


$93,001.10 $92,891.37
Decreased $109.73. Meh.

TOTAL= $100,894.21

Thursday, June 13, 2013

National Average

I've hit a new milestone. I went from one to the next in less than a year.

Monday, May 27, 2013

ELA Common Core

This is a good video for the ELA Common Core standards!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


In some ways, this year feels like the year it just won't quit. This has been a really tough year for me.

The latest news is that I got a note in my teacher mailbox on Monday, thanking me for my 'long term substitute' job, letting me know that the position is over at the end of the school year.

The problem is, I was hired as a full-time, permanent member of staff. I have the pay, benefits, etc. of any other full-time teacher. I did not, however, get a contract when I was hired but figured that would come towards the end of the year, same as it did last year in Oklahoma with no problems.

I brought the letter to my department head; she thought it was a mistake and wasn't meant for me.

The principal saw it (it came from the superintendent's office) and said that even if that was the case, because the person I replaced stepped into an 'interim' position and never fully vacated the one I took (?) then it might be for me, but he promised that I definitely had a job there, they absolutely want me back next year, I'd be moving up a step on the teacher pay scale, the whole deal.

Feeling a little better, I tried to go see the superintendent about this situation today only to have a very nasty run-in with his administrative assistant who insisted I was a substitute, even when I showed her the letter of appointment to a 1.0 Social Studies teacher I had received. I need to track down the actual superintendent tomorrow.

Here's the point of the story: I got tricked. I left a situation where I made a little more money because this was a full-time, permanent position. I also turned down 2 long-term sub positions much closer to where I live, working in schools with much more motivated students to take this job. In fact, I would have had my own classroom, laid out sub plans, and be teaching one subject (right now I teach 3) and would not have any alternative ed. classes, which are another layer of difficulty.

I was told one thing, hired, worked my ass off, and abruptly informed that I got screwed. In a way, it doesn't make that much of a difference because all my pay, benefits, etc. are the same either way and I know they truly do want me back next year. However, I don't like being lied to. I don't like being tricked. I don't really want to work for a school system that thinks it's ok to do that. I have been pulled in a million directions, worked with the most difficult students the school had to offer, been paired with a teacher no one else wanted to work with, had to share a classroom so that I NEVER get ONE SECOND alone to just catch my breath, etc. Now, I get a slap in the face for it.

So this is why I'm up at 4:30am. It's just running through my mind.

But then I remembered hearing about this video on a site called SoulPancake that gave me some perspective.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nana, Mum, Me

My grandmother passed away.

She was Nana to this entire town- everyone knew her. The ladies at the bank, the pharmacy technicians at CVS, the people at the grocery store. The guys at the liquor store knew her order and never carded granddkids when they were picking up for her.

She was that kind of nana. She was funny, always dancing, loved people, loved dirty jokes. She cried at patriotic songs on the Fourth of July and shouted Irish songs on St.Patrick's Day. She was the best cook. She was funny and people truly loved her, and she truly loved them.

I love Nana. When I was living in Korea and surprised my family by coming home for Christmas, she was the one who threw her hands in the air when she saw me, gave me a huge hug, and told me how happy she was to have me home for the holiday.

In contrast, when I woke my parents up the night I got in, my mother asked, "How did you get here?"

This is not really about my grandmother. It's about the emotional tear between my mother and me as my grandmother was fading away.

I understand that losing your mother could be stressful, heartbreaking, life-altering. For my mother, it is/was. Of course I would understand that she was hurting and that she needs some cushion of flexibility and understanding while she deals with her loss.

I do understand these things.

The problem is, it was too much. It wasn't her pushing people away, being cold and wanted to be alone, falling into depression, nothing like that. It was aggressively attacking without once trying to be understand that her children lost someone close to them, too. Her husband, my father, had an awful relationship with his own mother and my grandmother loved him and told him constantly that he was her own son.

There are moments that certainly can be forgiven. On Cinco de Mayo, she told J and I she was going to have my brother throw on some steaks, she didn't know what sides and couldn't even think about it, but if we wanted some meat we could have some. J offered to take care of the whole meal and we would buy everything for fajitas, drinks, everything, and she wouldn't have to try to put together a dinner and we could celebrate a little bit. She flipped out, responding that if people didn't like what she was making (even though she just told us she had no plan) then we didn't need to eat with them. She didn't say thank you but no thank you, she just raised her voice as if we were trying to mug her or something. J was offering to buy everything and make a big meal, and she slapped his offer back in his face. He was incredibly offended and hurt, but honestly this is not uncharacteristic of their relationship so it's not like he was totally taken aback. She told me later, during another argument, that I just wouldn't understand and she didn't want anyone celebrating anything near her while her mother was slipping away in the nursing home.

That, to me, is certainly forgivable and understandable.

But there were other things. That same night J and I grilled our own meal outside, choosing to stay away at that point. Later, as we were cleaning everything up, my father approached me as I brought in things to the kitchen. He basically repeated something that my mother had been on us about for about a month, so  I can pretty much guarantee this came from her.

My mother had been pressuring and guilting all three of her children for a while about going to visit Nana. I know that I went about once a week and I thought that was fine. My mother has been telling me for years that Nana was dying and that I needed to hurry to see her, so it was a little bit boy-who-cried-wolf. When I was in Korea she told me that she didn't think Nana would be there by the time my one-year contract ended. I had been through the mourning emotional rollercoaster several times at this point.

When Nana starting looking worse, I went once or a couple times a week. She had undergone back surgery so she was totally out of it when I went to see her. My brother went once a week or so, and my other brother has avoided my parents whenever possible so who knows how many times he went. The point of this is to say that we were being pressured to be more like my cousins, my mother's sister's kids, who were going "3-4 times a week". It was a frequent conversation, actually, about how our cousins were going all the time and clearly cared more about Nana than anyone else did. In fact, my father said that if I didn't care about going to see Nana for Nana's sake, at least I could do it for my mother's. My brother told me that he came in from work one Saturday (works 6 days a week in hard labor) and was covered in diesel oil, exhausted and hungry, and she said, "So visiting hours for Nana don't end for another two hours." He had already been twice that week. Why the pressure?

By the end of the conversation with my father, where I told him I DO visit Nana, I don't understand why all this guilt, etc. etc. It ended with a compromise that I had to turn in like a spreadsheet or some kind of log of my hours visiting Nana and he and Mother would never say my cousins' names to me ever again.

I love my cousins, so it's not that. In fact, I called one of them that night to ask how many times she visited every week and she told me about once. My other cousin a little more, but that was it. At that point I was totally pissed and hurt because these constant comparisons to my clearly amazing, model cousins was a farce. Either my parents were lying to put more guilt or they truly believed that my cousins are that much "better" than her own children.

She's compared us before, and recently, about other things. Mother and I will get into it, but my youngest brother usually bites his tongue on this topic. That means that if HE says it, it's a pretty big f*cking deal, and he yelled back at them a few weeks ago, "If their family is so good, go live with them! You constantly compare us to their kids; you compare C and Kate (cousin) all the time. If they're so great, go let them be your children."

It's been messy.

Once I was told to submit to them some kind of log, I shut them out. I just couldn't believe it.

Then, my grandmother passed away. She had given me a box of her photos several years ago because I was working on a family history book for her and my grandfather. I was the only one who ever cared about the photos, so I had the early ones of her and her mother when she was 3, my grandfather and his brother fishing, their wedding photos, etc. When my Nana passed, I wanted to put together some photos and also figured I could do the photo collages for the wake. I started early on the project the next morning, and in the middle of it my mother yelled down from the stairs that she wanted me to bring up the photos Nana gave me. I asked why and she said she wanted to go through them, "frankly they belonged to the four kids but especially her since everyone knew she was supposed to get all the photos." I told her I would scan and print any she would like, but Nana gave me the originals while still mentally able to make that choice and it was her gift to me. I knew if I brought them to her I might never see them again during her lifetime.

She finally said fine, but asked what I was doing with them. I said working on the collages. She was going over to my grandparents' home later to dig through all the photos (there were buckets and buckets full) and I asked to go along. I said I would bring my laptop and computer to scan them, I wouldn't remove any physical pictures. She said no, it was up to her and her siblings to go through them and she didn't want me coming. I asked, defensively, to go later once they were done to scan the photos. She told me that I was never to go into my grandparents' house by myself- I was welcome only at her invitation. Also, she and her siblings would do the collages since it had nothing to do with granddchildren. At that point I was angry, closed up the photo albums I had been looking through, and made my way for our apartment. She flipped out, yelling that she "shouldn't have to explain myself to anyone, my mother died, I wish you would just offer to help, I'm so tired of you judging my grief" and ran out the door. I was surprised, because I was offering to help by making the collages. That was the whole point. And I wasn't judging her grief, I was getting pissed by how much she was closing me out and acting like I had never loved Nana.

She got out into the driveway, got in her car, and started sobbing. Even though I was still angry and hurt, I went out, opened the door, and started rubbing her back. She told me she "Didn't know how to keep going without my mother", which is a heartbreaking statement. She was upset, but after about 20 minutes she seemed ok and left to go to Nana's house to look through the photos.

That night, I get a phone call from Kate. She was at my aunt's with my mother. She asked me if I wanted to get together with her and a few other cousins at her house a few days later to make collages and the slideshow video the funeral home plays in the background. She was saying that she's not really sure how she ended up on this project since she's "not crafty" and "not a picture person" but there it was.

I was pissed.

I had offered to do this, in fact, had already started scanning and retouching photos that morning when my mother told me to stop, it wasn't my place, and why couldn't I just be helpful?

Hours later, my cousin asked if she could do anything, and my mother asked her to do this. In fact, Kate said later at her home when we were making them that she would rather be doing anything else, this was an awful task, etc. Between every emotion and frustration I had at that point, I had too much to drink and J had to come get me.


I know that I sound like a  teenage girl with this. I know I sound like one whenever I talk about my mother and I can hear her telling me to "Stop being so dramatic." I told J yesterday that I'm glad for several reasons we have lived her this year, and one of those reasons is to see the real dynamic between my mother and myself.

Maybe I am being dramatic, I don't know. I'm too close to the situation right now. Maybe in a year, or whenever we move out, it won't seem such a big deal.

But for now, my mother made it clear that I am not the daughter she wanted, or maybe she just wishes Kate was her eldest. I'm not sure how much of a difference that is yet.

She also made it clear that we are not good for one another. If we were just friends, Cosmo magazine would be telling me this is more toxic frenemy status.

I'm not sure.

What I am sure about is that we are much happier with one another and our lives when we see each other basically only on the holidays.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I have to get away.

So that last post? I was excited about the overall decrease in debt over the last 8 months and so I said to my mother (since I was upstairs, trying to get a few things done up in the sunlight), "Guess how much J and I have lowered our debt?!?"

I told her, she said great.

But she didn't stop there.

She went into her "dictator" mode. (I'm not the person who usually uses this term- this came from another family member recently.)

"Do you have a summer job lined up?" she asked.

"No. I've been looking, but honestly, I'm more concerned about my full-time, regular job since everyone's expecting to be pink-slipped this month." I replied on the defensive.

"So what you're saying is that you're not actively looking."

I have started using my brother's tecnique of just getting up and leaving the room. She kept going, I kept going, and it just escalated.

I basically told her that I'm tired of her constantly checking in about my job search. She has done it to me for years. I told her, of course I'm going to get a job, I have never been unemployed even when J was military and my life was constantly in upheaval. I want to work, I like to work, and I would never assume my husband would take care of everything. I told her that it annoys me when she starts in on me like I'm a wayward teen with no sense of responsibility. It's like, Jesus, I was just mentioning something we've acheived and I'm proud of, and it turns into this. It wouldn't be so bad, but she always takes it too far.

"Frankly, I'm the cosigner on those studen loans, so I am personally invested in whether or not you're working. Those loans are against me, too, and I have no intention of working all summer while you sit on your ass..."

At that point, I got totally pissed. "I have been paying my student loan bills on time, every month, as soon as I was able to do so." (I didn't make enough the first year we lived in Oklahoma as we could barely afford to put gas in our one car.) "I did not realize that your signing on as my cosigner would mean that you were entitled to frequent check ins and a personal say over what jobs I take and how my husband and I handle our finances for the next 20 years."

She told me that she thought she had been very good about everything, considering I had told her I wanted to pay off the smaller loans first (Dave Ramsey's "debt snowball"). I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I mean, are you kidding me? Not only am I paying them off on time, I discussed my plans with her about trying to put more money towards specific ones in order to pay them off sooner than this.

At the end of the conversation, she pulled the, "You know, that's the end. I'm not discussing this anymore. (She does this routine during every fight so she can have the last word.) I have had more important things happen this week..." and then I just gathered all my things and left.

I know she has had more important things, and that's something I need to get into later. But honestly, stop using that card to get away with bullshit that has NOTHING to do with what happened. She has been ESPECIALLY awful recently.


She just came down to try and make amends, but not really. During this conversation, she still used language to accuse without being outright and when I tried to address it, saying things like, "It sounds to me as if you are blaming me on x, y, and z..." She came back with, "I'm not speaking about this. I just want to speak factually."

End of the story: I'm to give her frequent updates on the progress of my loans. On the one hand, I get it because she's constantly applying for new loans and now she's getting denied, but honestly, she owes a ton on the house and her own school loans just hit this year. On the other hand, I do the best I fucking can and she wants to be able to see every loan with a proved decrease and frequent details of "my plan" to eliminate debt.

She might totally be in the right, but that whole encounter just rubbed me the wrong way, you know?

May Debt Check In

Totally skipped April. Whoops!

$5,300.00 (C Car Loan)
$6,288.87 (J Car Loan)
$2,256.85 (J Gov't Loan)

TOTAL: $14,459.94 $13,845.72
Result: Decreased debt by $614.22 in the past two months.

student loan debt:


= $93,591.29 $93,001.10
Decreased $590.19. That's pretty good!
In 8 months, we've decreased our debt abou $11,000.
Whoo hoo!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weight of the World

I have gained 15 lbs. in 10 months and have now reached my heaviest weight.

Something has to change.

The happier I am, the less I weigh. Which means I don't know that I've ever been this unhappy, and I'm struggling to find a way out.

This is really, really depressing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I'm treating this blog lately more like a diary than what I had originally intended any blog of mine to be about: travel, joy, discovery, happiness.

Instead, it reads as depressingly as Dostoevsky without all the Russian brilliance and whatnot.

I need to do this. I need to narrate my unhappiness so I don't forget it and regret making changes when that time comes.

I am unhappy. I am cold. I am often in the dark, and I mean that literally not figuratively. I eat crap food, I never see my husband with his crazy schedule and the demands of my job are fraying my nerves and aging me faster than I could have thought possible.

I don't sleep well. It used to be that I would wake up in the middle of the night, excited about an idea for a lesson plan or a project. Now I have nightmares of failure, disappointing others, running from death in a thousand different forms, facing every insecurity I have.

I need to document this so I don't forget.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon

I took my time on this one.

I'm not really sure how to approach this thing. I think it would be easier if I was further away from it and had some perspective.

By now most people know that two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon at 2:50pm on Monday. Rumors are flying about other devices being found along the route and nobody seems to have a handle on whether or not the JFK Library fire was connected or coincidence.

I had been visiting my lovely friend in New York and was on a bus driving through Boston at this point. I arrived in South Station at 3:10pm.

It was weird. Really weird. I got off the bus and headed into the terminal to buy my train ticket. Walking through, nothing seemed wrong. While I was buying my ticket, a TV mounted in a corner showed the footage. I wouldn't have even paused except a man who had ducked in to watch the news seemed really upset. It just kept flashing "BOMBS ON BOYLSTON" across the bottom. Even then, I didn't feel like I was getting it because that man was the only person reacting. No one else seemed to know or care.

I wandered around the station, watching people's faces to see if anyone knew about it but either they didn't think it wasn't a big deal or people truly hadn't heard. People started streaming into the station and the crowd was bigger and bigger. Suddenly everyone was on a cell phone, and I watched people's faces as they got the  news. Police showed up and my husband called.

As a person trained for terrorism or any kind of outside threat, his first thing to me was to tell me to stay off public transportation. That was the first time I realized that this was pretty serious, based on his voice. He left work and drove impossibly fast to get me. I had left the station and sat in an alcove across the street, watching as more and more police arrived with heavy vests and a K9 unit. Sitting there I overheard a father sitting with his young son pick up the phone, clearly get the message that the bombs had gone off, and then heard him ask about injuries. I only heard his end when he said, "Limbs? Entire limbs?"  That's a surreal, sickening thing to hear.

Traffic was getting heavier while sirens could be heard in every direction. My husband called me and I headed out to meet him, jumping into the Jeep in the middle of the street. He was intense- I think because he had trained for this to happen in other places, but never so close to home. I could see him trying to watch everyone who had a  cell phone and we finally made it out of the city.

There is a  toll on the way out of the city and the person in the booth yelled to us, "Get out now!" as we watched heavily armored trucks, command station vehicles, and police scream past on the other side.

I know this could have been a lot worse. It was just so surreal and I only saw a reverberation and not the incident itself. I can't even imagine.

What was so strange was how fast it became confusing. How strange it was to watch other people get the news. How strange it is to watch a pretty contented, happy city become scary and suspicious.

The destruction and loss of life could have been so much more, I know. But for people in the city not knowing exactly what was happening or having the benefit of seeing a news anchor calmly explain with helicopter footage, it was scary.

What's even stranger is how much it's become just another part of people's lives. It's amazing to me how resilient people are. Yes, it is still talked about, but not in hushed voices. When I arrived home at around 5pm that day, my mother looped it into her, "I've been so stressed today between  Nana's health, my daughter was in Boston, my brother was having chest pains..." A city bombing ranked the same as any other concern.

This is why I don't know how to go at this. I feel, on the one hand, that it's a major deal and scary and I feel so awful for the victims. On the other hand, people went so easily back to their routines. In fact, even when I was in Boston, I watched two girls sharing a bagel, discussing the event matter-of-factly while acting completely casual. At the same time, a man walked past the panes of glass in front of me, delivering the day's shipment of cafe products to a Starbucks while people poured past him to get out of the city.

It would be like going to visit someone in the hospital who you were told was very, very sick only to find them looking like they always had while flipping through channels on their hospital TV. How do you react?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Debt Check-in

$2,000 (Credit Card)
$5,380.00 (C Car Loan)
$6,739.94 (J Car Loan)
$2,4340.00 (J Gov't Loan)

TOTAL: $14,459.94

Result: Decreased debt by $2,528.03 this month.

student loan debt:


= $93,269.86  $93,591.29

Increased $321.43, Damn you, student loans.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dream Home

This is my realistic dream home. As in, it's not little hut in Tahiti or a gorgeous renovated sugar mill plantation  on an island or something. It's an actual home in a place I am interested in actually living and the price is not out of control.

106 Riverview Dr, Maumelle, AR 72113

Why, you ask?

106 Riverview Dr, Maumelle, AR 72113

I love windows. And sunlight. And a great view.

106 Riverview Dr, Maumelle, AR 72113

I can imagine myself here so easily. 


I would snap this baby up so fast if student loans weren't a concern.

Monday, March 18, 2013


This is not J's blog (since he doesn't have one), but it does pretty much sum up everything he has ever said about his experience with New Englanders. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Good news today: Took a pregnancy test just to confirm and it was negative. I can't even think about bringing a kid into our situation.

Bad news today: I have officially gained 10lbs. since moving here and we got a bill from the IRS on our 2011 taxes. I believe that was the year J's military buddy who *claimed* tax experience handled our return. We now owe $612.

And another $800 for this year's filing.

And the government charged J for an "overpayment" on the military bonus he received when he first joined the military, which currently has a balance of $2,400.

We owe the gov't $3812.

Also, just looked at my student loans. In the past three months, we have paid $2,728. My balance has only gone down $743.25.

My job is unstable, he'll be out of school in the summer which means no more BAH payments and the loans will kick in.

I thought living here would mean that we would really be able to make a dent in our financial burden, but I really can't see a way out. I don't even think we could afford to get an apartment anywhere, never mind the pipe dream of someday owning our own home or having a family.

I don't know that I'm making any kind of difference in my job, I don't talk to friends anymore because I'm always so stressed or exhausted, my family relationships are becoming worse by being so close...

Honestly, thank God for my husband and my dog because otherwise, right now, this life feels like it was wasted on me. I feel beaten down and a thousand years old and I hate everything. All I can see is that the rest of my life will be dedicated to struggling to get by and by the time we see light we'll have nothing to show for it.

There is a difference beween being poor and being in debt. Being poor, there's some hope that a lucky break or working a little harder could help you break out. Being in debt is modern-day serfdom, where I am supposed to work and work and work for someone else's gain for, in my case, another 20 years. I will be around 45 before I will feel like I'm allowed to even look up.

I wish I had known this before going to college. I know that it was my mistake, but I honestly did not understand how loans worked, how much the bill would be, nothing. I truly didn't get it at all and I was too stuck in the peer pressure of what school you went to being a mark of how good you are and how successful it would make you. I just had no idea the reality of the situation when I signed into debt slavery.

It. never. ends.

It never ends.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring in New England

This weekend looked like this:

Ugh, Spring in New England 2013.

But also like this:

Shrimp Corn Dogs. I've never had a corn dog of any kind before; we saw these in Trader Joe's and decided we needed to have them. Turns out, they're delicious!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


My husband is sleeping on our sectional couch while I'm on the other side watching The Proposal.

He has grabbed my foot and won't let go. I love that he reaches for me in his sleep, even if it's only to grab my right foot.

<3 p="">

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My "Situation"

I'm sorry that, when I'm living in MA, this blog turns into an outlet of rage, frustration, and general unhappiness.

I know that I'm unhappy here. I don't know how much of it has to do with living with my parents, much as I love them, "familiarity breeds contempt" and "distance makes the heart grow fonder" are the best phrases to describe this situation.

I am extremely grateful that they have given us a place to stay where we pay a much lower rent than the norm around here. I am grateful that we have our own situation and we are not all living on one floor.

The problem is, being grateful and being happy are not the same. Once we move, wherever it is we land, I need to remember all the bad because I tend to put a postive, rosy filter on everything once I no longer have it/ am in that stage. This is why I went back to relationships that didn't work. This is a chronic issue for me and I want to remember exactly how I felt at this point in life so I have no regrets once we move on.

1. My relationship with my mother becomes very strained when we are consistently in close proximity. We bring one another down and I know we are both happier when we are not constantly around one another.

2. My relationship with my brother actually improves because when we don't live close by, we'll make the time to call one another to chat. Here, we live in the same home but NEVER talk.

3. I feel guilty that my parents aren't relaxing in their own home. Having "the kids" home means they still play the "Mom" and "Dad" role and we all revert to the dynamic of our growing up years.
When J and I lived in OK and my parents came to visit, they treated us like peers. Things have completely changed now that we're living together.

4. My mother is very clear that she doesn't give a damn whether anyone, ever, likes her or not. Her strong behavior and comments to me (and my brothers, and my father...) are one thing, but it puts me in a weird place when she gets on J about stuff. I want to defend him. It'll just be little things all the time... "'re not planning on wearing a baseball cap at the table, are you?"  or when chickens somehow got into the yard here, "Is this redneck enough for you? Hahaha!"  (He's from the South.) It's not like she doesn't like him- she does. It's just this way that a lot of my family interacts, where basically everyone tears each other down with sarcasm and jokes.

5. I hate living in a place where I can't tell whether it's day or night because we have basically no sunlight.

This is our bedroom. Guess what time it is!

Answer: 3:30 in the afternoon.

6. I absolutely hate the winters here.

7. I immediately gain weight here. It's always the same amount and I'm not sure why it is. People assume it's just "home cooking", but my mother is not a big cook. In fact, pretty much everything is microwavable if she decides to make dinner at all. So no, the weight has nothing to do with consuming comfort food.

8. The bathroom floods.


As in, I'm in the shower washing my hair today and the drain stops working and water is collecting. I open the curtain to realize that the toilet has also overflowed, and the feeling of being clean is officially over before I even step out.



Friday, February 22, 2013

Debt Check (Feb. 2013)

$2,000 (Credit Card)
$5,670.29 (C Car Loan)
$6,917.68 (J Car Loan)
$2,400.00 (J Gov't Loan)

$770.00 (J Personal Loan)

TOTAL: $16,987.97

Result: Decreased debt by $1,532.75 this month.


student loan debt:

$62,373.11  $62,135.28
$31,271.43  $31,134.58

= $93,644.54   $93,269.86
Result: Student Loan decreased debt by $374.68 this month.

Thursday, February 21, 2013



Very, very happy about that. In fact, I can barely see my computer screen as I type this because me and m'pup have found the sunniest place in the kitchen and are sprawled out to catch some of it. This is especially convenient for him as it aso lets him keep an eye on all those squirrels. He gets to bark at them and thus save the homestead. (He's very brave.)

I have been working towards my goals since the Dream List. I have compared two schools I am interested in and have decided where I would apply. Also, I decided to go for a Ed.S. instead of a doctorate bcause honestly, quantitative research and statistics classes are incredibly boring and I really do not want to write a dissertation that would force me to do anything with those. Now, another degree in history or English? I can totally write me some papers.

Also, decided any kind of online photography program is not for me. I looked into it, and I know I'll need more hands-on. So that's been narrowed down a little.

I also worked out yesterday. Right after, I was talking with my mother, brother, and his girlfriend. She was saying how tall our family is (my brother is 6'4", mom is 5'10" and I'm almost 5'7") compared to her family. I was saying that people usually think we're even taller than we are- most people think I'm 5'10". She then said, "Yeah, you have really long legs that go all the way up."

I hope he marries that girl.

I need to add something to my Dream List, though. My skin is really, really bad. I got off birth control in May of 2010, thinking I probably need to clean my body of toxins if we wanted to start a family. It has been long enough now that I am categorized "infertile" and, even with drugs, who knows if I'll be able to get pregnant. J and I have come to terms with it and have both decided that we could be perfectly happy and fulfilled without having children. I don't know how we'll feel a few years from now, once we've hopefully paid down some debt and are living on our own. For now, though, we're ok with it.

Warning: This is not going to be pretty.

Anyway, so the Dream List: I want to have a better complexion. Once I got off the pills, basically my skin went to hell. I'm often mortified to go out of the house and, when it's really bad, I try all these different ways to not actually have my husband see my face.

This is my skin without any makeup. Not only do I break out, but I'm terrified that I'm startin to get pockmarks that I have no idea how to get rid of! When J and I met, I had much better skin. I feel terrible for him to have to see this, plus I teach, which means I have all eyes on me all day. It's really embarassing.

I'm getting back on the pill in March and am praying that will fix the issue.

In the meantime, IT.IS.SUNNY. and I am so glad to enjoy it before the next snow storm hits, scheduled for this weekend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reasons I Hate the Cold

 1. It makes my skin itchy and dry.

2. It makes me super pale, which is not flattering on me or pretty much anyone else who does not have dark brown/black hair and red lips.

3. My husband's skin is now dry and pale when he used to be confused with a latino. He feels unnatural.

4. The cold is depressing.

5. I hate stepping out of the shower when it's freezing.

6. Heating costs are astronomical.

7. People aren't really friendly when they're cold. Including (especially?) me.

8. No one wants to go outside when it's cold. My dog pretends to be asleep so he won't have to go out to go to the bathroom.

9. Pipes freeze.

10. Roads freeze.

11. I gain weight because I eat more.

12. I never want to get out of bed.

13. Everything I wear is the opposite of sexy because I just want to be warm and no cold hands anywhere near me.

14. Shaving my legs is out because goosebumps (that damn cold shower/bathroom situation) make my skin act like a cheese grater. Basically, using a razor would be debilitating for me and horrifying for anyone trying to use the shower after me.

15. The air is extremely dry. I went to the airport not too long ago and had a horrible freaking nosebleed, which never happens to me, right in front of everyone I was about to board with. I'm talking blood all over my face, hands, everywhere. So embarassing.

16. Static electricty is constant. I get zapped by my couch, my computer, my dog, my car door- everything.

17. My hair is flat, yet has tons of static electricity during the winter.

18. It is never really sunny during the winter, but during cold months, the sun completely sets by 4:30pm.

19. Salt on the roads makes your car look like shit.

20. Once snow starts to melt, but it's still too cold to totally melt, it just makes everything a slushy, muddy mess.

21. Chapped lips is a major concern and nothing but a tub of vaseline will fix it. Also, chapped feet can be fixed the same way!

22. Fresh produce is in short supply.

23. Social lives are in short supply. Nobody wants to do anything unless they have to and/or are in college.

24. Suicide rates go up.

25. Happiness rates go down (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Honestly, I should have looked at this chart from the beginning.
Seems to sum it up.

Update: J has a few additions.

* When it is cold, you have to bundle up. When you bundle up, you always have the feeling of being in a straitjacket.

* If you fall or hurt yourself, it always feels worse in the cold.

* You can't take the top off the Jeep.

* Parking is bad because there are mounds of snow from the plows.