The Firefly Priority

The main reason why I didn’t blog, write, or really communicate with anyone the last few weeks is because my sister was in town.  And no offense but I wasn’t going to sacrifice a single moment with her just to blog.  For her birthday this year we got her a round trip plane ticket to come see us for a week.  After a few discussions we decided to offer a more extended trip and changed it so she would stay for a month.  I am very happy we did because the poor kid had jet lag for the first four days she was here.  There would have been some serious caffeinated beverage IVs if she hadn’t had more time.  It worked out though because I used the mornings that she slept to help the house recover fro the move and make some sense of where I was going to put things.

At least Firefly got to recover from jet lag in the Guest Suite (we are giving it a fancy name to entice our friends out for a visit).  It was seriously put together only a few hours before her plane got here. and I added more stuff as time went on.  Some day I’ll paint it to match the color scheme.

gueststuff

Having Firefly here was a wonderful experience for Honey and I, and for her too I suspect.  We had fun showing her around, taking her to the shops and restaurants we liked.  We had excuses for day trips and of course we got to spoil her a little bit.  She’s 17 so we weren’t really baby-sitting or playing Mom & Dad, but she isn’t really an adult yet either so we had some say in the rules.  She was incredibly helpful with cooking and cleaning and a wonderful guest.  I also took her to a local University for her first college tour, it was a beautiful campus but she wasn’t feeling it.  In hind site I should have waited longer into the trip because she was just at that critical moment of homesickness for her friends that made her just see it as being far away from everyone she knew.  I tried unsuccessfully to explain that even if she goes to a college close to home or to the same school as some of her friends that doesn’t mean she will necessarily continue her friendships with them.  It’s hard trying to explain how everything changes once you graduate from high school without completely terrifying someone.  By the end of her trip, her tune had changed.

We had many heart to hearts while she was here, talking about college and our parents and what her real options were vs what she was being told her options were.  I think some of it helped.  We have offered to let her live with us for a while after graduation if she wants to set up residency here and eventually go to school, but we’ll see.  Going to school on the other side of the state would be a change, let alone across country.  I just wanted to let her know she has options, the world doesn’t seem as big as it is when you only grow up in one place.  The trip was good her because she came alone and got to where she needed to be be by herself, it probably taught to trust herself a little bit more.

Since she came here right as we moved in she became part of our lives in our new place.  I must admit saying good-bye to her at the airport was ridiculously hard, in fact the week before she left I was near to tears on quite a few occasions.  She was also upset at the prospect of leaving, we offered to have her stay longer if she wanted (another three weeks) and she deliberated on that for quite a while.  In the end she thought she should go home, I think because she didn’t want to deal with our parent’s reaction.  She told me the day she left that she wished there had been rain and delays so she could had stayed.  She killed me when she said that, it made me want to pull her out of line and call my parents on the way home explaining she wasn’t coming back.  I won’t lie, I gave serious thought to what would happen if we just never put her on a plane back.  But I wanted her to make a decision and have it just be hers, not what others wanted for her.  She has to make a lot of decisions in the next few years, so I figure a little practice wouldn’t hurt.

fireflywfireShe had a lot of firsts on this trip.  First of all she flew across country by herself, with a layover on each side of the trip (even I haven’t done that).  She saw fireflies for the first time, heard cicadas, saw new and unusual bugs, saw many real lightning storms, met relatives she only saw as a child, got to play with fireworks, read different types of books, explored new towns, roasted a chicken, and got caught in a downpour while swimming…what can I say, it rained around 6 inches while she was here. And of course her and I talked to each other in more of a sister way, than in the mom and child way that we have had in the past.

She told me things that broke my heart and then things that gave me hope.  This trip while giving her a break from daily life also gave her a chance to see the world from a different angle, which is probably important at this stage of the game.  It also made her know that even if there is distance, Honey and I have her back no mater what.  Sometimes just knowing that makes it easier to deal with the crap.  While I know the issues she has to face from growing up with the same cast of characters, the setting is a bit different and the plot has way too many twists.   I had Mimi to go to, hopefully Firefly feels like she can come to us.

Of course we were not the only ones that didn’t take her departure well.  Bailey was practically beside himself when he saw her luggage out of the closet and whenever she left the room he followed.  I think he is also onboard if she decides to come live with us, what do you think?

baileynotpleased

I do NOT approve

We have talked a lot since she got back, she seems to be doing ok.  She is keeping herself busy with friends and trying a few things to keep her mind busy so she doesn’t get summer brain rot.  I’m trying to keep myself busy too, with making the house ours and starting up my writing schedule again.  Since she was here at the beginning of our life at this house, it has been an adjustment in her absence.   But that just gives us a chance to do some more research into all things fun on the East Coast for her next trip out.

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So…Who Would Like to Go First?

Me, that’s who.

Last week I presented my Final Project in my History of Photography class.  I am doing very well in the class, but the assignment is worth 25% of my final grade so I didn’t want to mess up.  The assignment was to find 30 photos, ten from each of the three time periods of Historical (1839-1919), Modern (1920-1976), and Contemporary (1976-present).  These thirty photos had to be all under the same theme and we had to make a Power Point Presentation in class that was to last 10-12 minutes.  Considering that the last time I used Power Point I was not even old enough to drive and I hadn’t made a class presentation since the early 2000s, I was a little overwhelmed by the project.  But I chipped away at it for a few hours each day for the last few weeks and used my researching skills to give a pretty darn good presentation.  I was “randomly” selected to present on the first day of the presentations (I suspect a fix was in, hehe), our teacher asked us who wanted to go first and I volunteered because I figure the quicker I got it over with, the better.  I was right, just ten minutes after the completion of my project my brain began to go back to its normal level of anxiety. My timing was perfect and I had all of the information that was required.  Some presentations I have seen last a few as 3 minutes and as long as twenty and some don’t even have the name of the photographer on the screen.  It’s been a long two weeks, and I still have one more to go.  My topic was Street Photography and how it captures a more true form of history because it is real people caught in a moment of their lives, studio photography is a manipulated truth.

I used the works of Charles Nègre, John Thomson, Robert Frank, Jerry Berndt, Mary Ellen Mark, and Martin Parr.  I won’t take up the next 10-12 minutes of your time, but here were some of my favorites, please excuse me for not listing the year, title, medium, size, and owning party.

Charles Nègre- Rubberneckers (see even back then!)

John Thomson

Robert Frank

Jerry Berndt

Mary Ellen Mark

Martin Parr

Love & Raw Chicken

Happy Valentine’s Day to All!  I hope this day, regardless of relationship status gives you some love and mushy vibes.

Honey and my plans for the evening include a quick meal followed by our History of Photography class until 10pm.  I would have suggested cutting class if our teacher hadn’t so stealthily scheduled the first test tonight. But how does the saying go?  The couple that studies together, stays together?  We had tried to do a nice meal at home (we don’t like to deal with restaurants for Valentine’s Day) on Saturday, but after ten hours of helping my mom move I was in no mood, so we had some local junk food.  We hoped to move the romantic dinner to Sunday night, but some not so pleasant news got in the way.  Nothing major, just a bummer-I’ll talk about it in a week or so. We did still have a wonderful dinner at home courtesy of one of my Valentine’s gifts: a French oven!

It is amazing what a chicken, a little olive oil, salt & pepper, and thyme can do!  I have to admit is was my first time preparing a whole chicken, I knew what I would have to do-but still.  He was in his office- a room away from the kitchen and heard my girly complaints. The conversation went like this:

Me: ew (looking at the chicken heart in my hand) Sorry I am being such a baby about this. (side note: I apologize for crap like this all the time)

ew (looking at the liver and other various innards)

Honey, could you come look at this and make sure I got everything out.

Honey: Just a minute, oh make sure you get the neck.

Me: The neck!

Honey: Yeah, sometimes they leave it.  If you got the bag out, I’m sure it’s fine.

Me: Bag!  There is no bag, everything is loose. (He walks into kitchen and gazes upon me and mangled bird)

Honey: No bag…oh..EW!

Honey has cooked many a bird in his culinary life and I have never heard him “ew-ing” while he did it, this made me feel better.  Suffice to say we made it through alright, in fact the leftovers were even good.  After a few minutes and a required bathing of the chicken I got use to handling raw chicken.  I plan to make many a wonderful meals with that thing, thank you Valentine!

Aging Technologies and Me

Well, that didn’t go well.  Turns out my day time class of Photography I is using film only, I have a broken film camera somewhere in Honey’s closet that hasn’t seen the light of day since the beginning of Bush’s 2nd term.  I could have gotten it fixed, but really what is the point?  Apparently the class will be converted to digital next semester, but I will most likely be working during the time those classes are offered.  The fun thing is you have to take Photography I to qualify for Digital Photography I this semester.  Blah!

I have nothing against film, I used it for a lot longer than most people but now learning to develop film seems like it would be taking a computer class and learning Windows 95.  So I dropped it. I is lame, I know.

Grades Are In

For the first time ever, I got straight A’s.

That is two A’s in PE (also a first) and two A’s in my history classes.  To be honest I thought I was going to get two A’s and two B’s. Since now my grades are posted I feel like I can open up a bit about my experience in these classes. I hesitated about posting about it during the semester because of some paranoid delusion that somehow my teachers would find this thing-I’m odd, you should have realized that by now.

One of the classes that I though I would get a B in was my Step class, half of my final grade was based off of absences. Up to two absences put you in the A range…I was absent three times.  Once was the time after I twisted my ankle doing the mile and a half in the other PE class, once was on Halloween because I wanted to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids, and once was the day before Thanksgiving.  The last absence has a story.  I did show up for the class, I had every intention of working out that day and burning some calories before I gorged myself on some turkey goodness-but I had occasion to leave.  When I walked into the gym and found my teacher setting up an obstacle course (something she had never done before) I began to worry.  She walked around to the twelve stations and explained we must do each exercise for two minutes straight (things like plank, jumping rope, pull-up etc) and then do a lap around the gym in between each exercise, I said to myslef… HELL no.

And this is why….

First I thought of the practicality, I knew these exercises were going to make me sore-I couldn’t be sore like that while we cooked for Thanksgiving.  Then I thought of the betrayal, we were being “punished” (in a way) for showing up to class.  My other teachers that day had light schedules and had even let us leave class early so we could get home to our families.  That particular class was made up of 40 women, and one man-most of us were over 20, a lot of the class was middle-aged.  The teacher was weakening the chefs of Thanksgiving!  I had really wanted to work out that day, I felt tricked.  Also something the teacher had said the previous class popped in my mind: she usually called in “sick” the day before Thanksgiving, but she was out of sick days so she couldn’t.  I realized with having an obstacle course she did not have to work out.  I quietly walked out of the class, I didn’t make scene I just left.  I ended up ditching the other PE class too (it was immediately following the Step class) because I was worried what she had in store for us too.  I found out later she gave a particularly rough class of circuit training.  I went home pissed and expecting to get some crap from John about ditching, but I didn’t.  He said he was proud of me for saying no and listening to what I wanted, which was a happy painless Thanksgiving.  And somehow I still got an A.

In my other PE class, which was more running and weight lifting, I achieved an A by my progress and willingness to do homework.  That’s right, we had homework in PE class.  Every week we had to do a third day of exercise and log it. Between that and the paper I had to write in the other PE class, there were about two weeks where I felt like I was writing down everything I ate and did.   Also every couple of weeks she would post a 20 question assignment that would take around 20-30 minutes to complete.  No big deal, but it always seem to be due the same day as my history papers.  To be honest I dreaded taking this class, and there were days where I just didn’t feel up to it, but the teacher was wonderful.  She was understanding and supportive and didn’t treat you like a 2nd class citizen for not being in shape.  I did make some progress in her class.  I dropped 3 minutes off of our timed mile and a half run and all of the weights I could lift, doubled by the end of the semester (like now I can press 103lbs with my legs-pretty cool, huh?).  Though I will not miss running in the 40 degree night air, I will miss the endorphin rush I got from that class.

Now onto the History classes.  Early Western Civ was better than I thought it would be.  I learned a lot more than I planned and it wasn’t all boring, in fact it gave me an interesting prospective on religion (not God, religion).  The only thing I didn’t like about the class was my teacher’s inconsistencies.  For example she change the test format on the second test without telling us and in some papers she would look more heavily at some aspects and then ignored them in the next paper.  I had to use a different citation style than I have before and I would occasionally ask her questions. I would write the papers under what she said to do, and then she would knock off points because she said it wasn’t right when I followed her instructions.  Ah well, I got an A and learned something I feel good about it.

My  American History class was different than I expected.  I unfortunately don’t feel like I learned as much as I wanted to.  I think the condition of state school system was most apparent in that class.  For most of the semester I didn’t know what my grade was.  I wrote two papers for that class and never saw them again, two days before the final I saw my scores on them.  The class was filled with a bunch of rude, just out of high school Republicans compared to the cultured, middle-aged Democrat teacher.  I think when the teacher discovered he could not have the type of intellectual debate between the students that he wanted, he took less interest in us.  There was this one guy in the class that drove me nuts (and the teacher too I think).  He was parroting what he heard on FoxNews and when someone (teacher or student) would ask him to explore it a little further he would shut down and call the occupiers lazy idiots who just wanted a handout.  I felt particular pleasure when he attempted a bigoted joke about Canada and then messed it up because he couldn’t spell Canada! After that he shut up a little more in class. Every so often I would speak up in class as a counter to that particular student, but only if I was truly brave.  The guy scared me a little physically (he was very tall and a fitness trainer), he sat right next to me (joy), he could barely fit in the desk, and stepped on my backpack every couple of days.  When I moved a few seats away I got a little more gutsy in raising my hand.

Anyway, it’s done.  I’m glad I stuck with it and earned my first ever 4.0 GPA for a semester.

Emerging from Under the Pile of Non-Refundable History Textbooks

And I’m back.

Finals ended for me yesterday and it is my hope that a good portion of my sanity will return to me before the weekend starts, but we shall see.  I put a lot of effort into the last few weeks of class so I could maintain my unusually good grades.  In some classes the last test was around 30% of my grade, to me this seems a bit much-but maybe that’s why school and I never got along.  My grades are required to be in by next Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped me from obsessively checking the board online.

In other news, Christmas is upon us.  A few weeks back John and I offered to host a Christmas Eve potluck for our families (well his mom and my 12 local relatives).  During finals I really tried not to think about so I could just focus on school, but now I have no excuse-I have to think about it.  I am going to have around 15 people at our house in 9 days….Thank Gods it’s Potlock. I will admit I have let the cleanliness of the house slack a little bit for the last few weeks, nothing gross just not nearly as tidy as I would like.  Also the yard is insisting on some attention.  We got a little bit of rain in the last few few weeks and it makes all of my heat-stroked weeds make astounding comebacks.  On the plus sign the lower yard now has the appearance of having a green lawn (but really it is just cut weeds).  Tomorrow my war begins with the weeds.

It has also been consistently cold here in San Diego, relatively tame to the rest of the world-lows in the 30s and 40s, but to us SoCal wimps it feels like a frost giant has us in a bear hug.  While studying I was getting too cold form being stationary (and still having an unusable heater) so I would grab both animals and the space heater and retreat to my office.  It brought on a slight truce between Bailey and Kate, but there are still acts of dominance.  Bailey also started a new thing, he jumps up on my lap when I am at the computer.  Bailey is a sweet cat but he has not been much of a lap cat away from the couch and a comfy blanket.  He is also still a 25+lb cat, so the fact he insists on cuddling on my lap and staying there for more than 30 minutes, indicates to me that the house is colder than usual.  Either that or he is just that needy now, which going by the yowls that I hear from the yard when I just go to water is completely possible.

But now it’s time for bed, nighty-night all.

Talk to you soon.

Hopefully Writing is Habit Forming

With it being NaNoWriMo season, it has had me thinking about my own temporarily abandoned novel.  I will not be participating in the NaNoWriMo for fear of my GPA taking a a sharp nose dive, but I wonder if this is just an excuse…  A lot of people who are attempting this challenge have full time work, spouses, kids, and I’m sure many are students.  But here I sit in my cozy home office, fearing something that might absorb me for a limited time.  Writing is hard, it’s wonderful, but it’s hard.  I read a few things about the people attempting this feat of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month, it seems a lot of them have already written books (published and unpublished), and it makes me feel like a big ole coward.  These people have accomplished what I have been threatening to do for almost twenty years.  It is my goal to finish the damn thing by 30 (I also plan to loose 30 more pounds, fix the kitchen, complete my Frida garden, and find the meaning of life), but I realize I need to adopt some new habits.

Writers are constantly writing, regardless if it is bad or good, most writers can usually be seen scribbling down a few things every day.  I have a laptop (with a good battery life) I have no excuse.  I think part of my problem, which a teacher of mine pointed out about herself the other day, is that I self edit.  I don’t include all of the things I want to because of a fear of over-examination or poor word choices.  I need to realize editing (while good in small doses while writing) can be done later.  I have written a lot in my mind, but sometimes when I come to my laptop I encounter an issue/problem and then end up editing out the whole idea.  I say no more.  Writing will be my hobby, craft, and goal for each day-even if it is not on “the novel”, I will write.  It think that it will be a great way to explore new styles and find a clearer voice.  Or at least not find my thoughts so boring (well I am stuck with them all day), I might even share some stuff on here-we shall see.