Oh Hi. Life goes on.

… as long as I stay as busy as humanly possible.

Busy summer!

I’m not going to lie, losing my job was up there as one of the most challenging things I’ve dealt with. In my life. I hate that it’s up there with losing a baby. Not *as* intense, but comparable. It’s in the ballpark.

Still dealing with it, really. But the interesting thing is that, because this grief feels similar to other things I’ve dealt with, I have a roadmap. There’s some solace in the knowledge that this hurt won’t last forever. It will keep hurting and there’s no quick fix, but I know for sure that at some point in the future I will look back on all this and be able to say “boy I’m glad it doesn’t hurt like that anymore.”

In the meantime, one of the best coping mechanisms for “waiting it out” has been to stay busy. SO.

Took a long and epic roadtrip to visit my family in the Northeast (I live in the Southwest). Both dogs came AND the cat came. On a road trip. For days.

Then I was able to spend some good solid quality time with my toddler niece and three of my four siblings. It was a trip to soothe my soul, just being around a big group that loved the heck out of me.

Now I’m back home and GUESS WHAT?! I’m going back to school for a DOCTORATE degree. This is still sinking in, especially because it was not even a twinkle in my eye back at the turn of the year (when I should have been working on an admissions packet).

Near the end of April I emailed the graduate advisor at a local university with (convenient) the exact program I wanted. I had emailed to see about starting an application for fall 2017. But then she emailed back and said, “we have one spot open for Fall 2016 – are you interested?”

WHAT?! So I spent the next month speed-compiling a writing sample and letters of recommendation and all the other stuff that I was expecting to have 6-8 months to get together. And I sent it in. And I got accepted. But not just accepted.

Some PhD programs are “funded,” meaning the students trade work (teaching or research) in exchange for their tuition fees. Funded positions are competitive positions because they’re limited. So normally students compete once to get into a program and then again to receive funding.

I got funding. I’m going to school for basically free.


Cue busy times ahead. And I’m so looking forward to it.

Finish the Book

Or, as a million billion writers say by way of advice: “keep writing.”

Part of life lately has included delving into the world of freelance writing. I can (and still do) graphic design and website work, but although the last many years of my life have included those things, I’m not actually trained in either graphic design or web design. It’s all self-taught.

What I am trained (and educated, and experienced) in is writing. So it made sense to me to take what I’ve had a ton of experience in, working for private companies, and a ton of education in and make a go of it as a freelancer.

The most interesting thing thus far is dealing with the lack of external deadlines and direction. My preferred method of work is for someone to tell me what they want, when they want it, and then leave me alone until it’s done. Now I get to decide what I write, and I’m writing uninterrupted, but there’s no when decided for me!

Everything I’ve read/studied/heard about freelance writing says that it’s hard. Rejection comes often, and the work is a grind in every sense of the word. But then I’ve also heard that if you love writing (and I do) that it’s worth it.

So here I go! And if you know of any blogs or magazines or businesses who could use a good writer for some good content, let me know.🙂

This is Hard.

I’m having a particularly rough week. It’s been a month since I stopped working and the reality of being forced back into a one-income household are staring me in the face.

There’s been a lot of laying awake at night, wondering what I did wrong. I’ve spent a huge amount of time pondering life’s questions between 1:30 and 5:00 in the morning.

Much of this situation is necessarily tied to family building. How will we have enough to adopt, now? And if I start a new full time job, we’ll probably have to wait at least another year before I’ll qualify for any kind of leave. If I don’t work, we don’t have the funds to adopt a baby. If I do work, we don’t have the time.

There’s not much else in my head right now. Just those thoughts, and a vague attempt at coming up with something that will fix what seems to be an impossible situation.

Rough week.

On Political Correctness (or not)

Today is Cinco de Mayo in the States. I live in a corner of West Texas; the country of Mexico is within three miles of my house. I did my Master’s degree at a program that was primarily concerned with social and cultural implications of borderland living, mixed-race literature, and that had a lot to say about cultural appropriation.

Battle of PueblaMy ethnicity is Hispanic. My race is white. I grew up white, with all the privilege that is afforded a white person. I never had to deal with language barriers, ethnic barriers, familial or cultural barriers. Those were things my grandparents lived through – I only reaped the benefits.

Cinco de Mayo is not the only culturally appropriated holiday in the States.

Earlier this week I equated Cinco de Mayo to St. Patrick’s day. My comment was deleted and replaced with a post about how the writer will not tolerate hostility. Let’s make the world a better place.

Second Battle of Puebla by Jean-Adolphe BeaucéCRITICISM makes the world a better place. ENGAGEMENT makes the world a better place. Agreement does not make the world a better place. It feels better, short term. It’s nicer.

But it’s not BETTER.

Passive aggressive wrist-slapping does not make the world a better place.

SHAME makes the world a better place, actually. But shame takes guts. Making people feel shame for actions requires direct confrontation. And direct confrontation is, apparently, not an option.

I was trying to be entertaining and instead I was viewed as hostile. I made a contribution and it was ignored and rebuked. No direct contact, all very passive. No way to actually engage. Just an unspoken shut-out of what was perceived as a dissenting opinion.

Battle of PueblaAn academic posts something controversial. A response is perceived as hostile and is (therefore) a dissenting opinion.

It’s fundamentally insincere to delete a dissenting opinion and replace it with vitriol about “engaging in a discussion about cultural appropriation.” You know what that is?

That’s silencing a voice and replacing it with your own.

That’s the heart of cultural appropriation.

Checking Boxes

Progressing, actually progressing, toward adoption.

So we are progressing in the many Things we Must Do to legally qualify to adopt. Most of these things involve paperwork.

We are actually pretty decent at this.

We were not always decent at this.

paperwork by anomalous4
{image by anomalous4 on Flickr}

We used to be pretty terrible at it, actually. Not only did we have trouble identifying or maintaining key pieces of paperwork, but we also used to get really irritated with each other if one or the other had dropped the ball on whatever documents we were looking for.

You do that for five or ten years and you start to develop a system for maintaining documents, and a lot of patience for each other when dealing with document-heavy requirements.

Right now, specifically, we are collecting things like date of birth of every family member under the sun. Medical clearances – basically doctors’ statements that we are fit to care for children. Addresses for the last ten years (more challenging than you would think…). And lots of financial info.

The financial verification stuff will be doubly useful to us as we are also about to begin the process of getting a personal loan. Adoption is expensive (in the range of a luxury car) but it’s not really the amount itself that’s the kicker, it’s more that it’s all due at once, and generic financing options don’t really exist. Most who adopt either do huge amounts of fundraising ahead of time or go into debt to cover the cost.

We are not fundraisers. Also, we have the income to handle the debt. In fact, we have saved quite a bit towards our budget already. Turns out we ARE able to save money when properly motivated.

All this means that the timeline toward having a child in our home is actually… there. It’s not a dream anymore, we are steadily working our way toward a finite reality.

THAT is kind of bizarre, especially after almost 10 years of pipe-dreams. Takes some getting used to. In a good way.

On Photographers

One of the more interesting self-employment professions.

We recently had a “real” photographer try their hand at some pictures.

I think, depending on the kind of person behind the camera, we are either a photographer’s best buddies or their worst nightmare. We’re incapable of posing – we literally need them to position us like dolls with articulated joints.

The goofy faces never end. Seriously. We could do a three hour session and the self-conscious goofball faces will continue to appear.

In fact, the only real way to get us to quit being morons and actually look somewhat decent is to make us laugh non-stop.

photographer by Elicus
{image by Elicus on Flickr}

Thus, we’ve only had our pictures taken by a professional twice in our many years together. This last weekend was the second attempt. The first one was six years ago (we liked those so much we’ve been using them for everything since then).

We laughed, we goofed, we laughed some more. At one point we did the middle school dance refrigerator shuffle as the camera clicked away. It was fun.

I bet we get some good pictures out of it.