Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 Book Reviews!

In case you need something to read in the new year.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The premise of the KonMari tidying method is to pull everything, all of your possessions, onto one spot (starting with clothes and then moving onto to subsequent categories) and while holding each item, decide whether is sparks joy. The idea behind starting with everything in one place, rather than room by room, means it will be less likely that you forgot about that box in the closet in that room.



There are such simple stanzas, but the lines force the reader to linger and digest more than what lies on the page. Some other lines included:

"Generation./Strange word: both making and passing"



The book does include some very thoughtful and important points, like specifically calling out the fact that "the components of a slut's sluttiness include: displaying agency, being active rather than passive, choosing her actions....Agency is a critical element of the sexual double standard, in which only girls, never boys, are called to tasks for their real or presumed sexual aggression."Women who don't toe the party line or play the game have been called aggressive or slutty since the beginning of time. Calling a woman a slut "convinces girls and women who have been victimized that they are the ones who have done something wrong," when in fact it is a tool to subjugate women. Young women "[recognize] that sexual equality does not in fact yet exist in practice. When a girl and boy are identically sexually active, only the girl is treated punitively."



Advising women how to stave off rapists does not work. Nor does policing women's lifestyle choices. The idea of putting the problem squarely on women's shoulders rather than the men who rape also didn't sit well with Zerlina Maxwell, who stated in March of 2013, "I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there." Many people lost their collective shit over such a statement and when the surrounding culture has given free passes to men regardless of what they do, it's not a big surprise.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016!

2016, I expect great things from you. Or just sucking a helluva lot less than 2015. No pressure.

Personal

-ride bike at least once a month april-october once bike is fixed (All I have to do is reattach the seat and buy a new helmet.)
     Yes! We only ended up on one bike ride, but it felt so good to be back riding.

-read at least 30 minutes a day (books) ( I stare at screens too much.)
      Got back into the habit of reading before bed. I tried to make it relaxing or novels because if I read about rape culture, I tended to having rage dreams.

-set firm bedtime (10:30) with screens (tv/computer/cell) off at 8:30pm (I find I sleep much better this way)
       I started setting alarms on my phone, but gradually, I started making it to bed early. I slip up sometimes, but I know that my body feels better when I'm in bed, showered with a book by 10:45 at the latest. I had terrible insomnia last fall, partly due to screen time, partly due to learned behaviors, but happily, none this fall.


House

-update guest bathroom (It needs love. And non-awful blue colors)
      Not yet. We are debating about how much to do to the bathroom since we know we plan to sell our house in 2020/2021, provided no zombie apocalypse is currently happening.

-new living room carpet (We've needed it for a while.)
    Definitely will be happening in the next 18 months.

-combine our two offices to make room for growing our family (I'll let you figure that one out. ;)
     I've started purging my office and we started making adjustments to Justin's office.

-fill in fence gaps and put up two gates in the backyard; one by neighbors, one by shed
     Ran out of money before this could be done, but it's on the docket for 2016.

-room by room inventory of items needed/tasks to be done
     Done


Financial

-set up a charity budget (feeding america/mspca/vet ranch) & volunteer at local food bank (I always scramble to donate at the last minute and want to give more.)
      Not necessarily a monthly budget item, but we did donate more this year. I didn't volunteer because they only have hours during the week, which means I'd need to take time off work. This is not completely off the table, but requiring some scheduling.

-pay off secu loan (Oh, it's ON.)
      DONE DONE DONE DONE!!!!

-pay off small loan (A student loan that needs to be gone. For a variety of reasons).
      DONE DONE DONE DONE!!!

-set up student loan paperwork with work, for non-profit forgiveness (Apparently, I may be able to get loan forgiveness after ten years at the AGA. If that happens, I may dance naked in the street.)
     Sadly, my loans didn't qualify. :(

-redefine budget with the aim of eating out less (Yup. It's our biggest expense next to the mortgage.)
     I realized that we will always end up eating out and guilting myself doesn't help. I'm just upping our food allowance each month and saying fuck it!


Writing/Photography

-photograph more with SLR (I love that my phone is handy but I need to get out and use my bigger camera more.)
      YES! Especially visiting friends in Pittsburgh, I get the chance to snap a lot of shots.

-enter at least three chapbook contests with Moose Girl (Yes. I want this beaut published.)
     I had an epiphany on my birthday and deleted half the poems. (Turning 29 makes you do crazy things.) I like it trimmed, may add one or two more poems before I submit places.


Health
-schedule a neurological visit to try to solve headaches (See the last year of my life. My headaches have really ramped up in the last year and a half and they need to be gone. I may also have an eye exam, in case I need glasses.)
     Turns out I needed to drink a ton more water and not have a shit sleep schedule. I didn't have an exam, but instead tracked my headaches. Feel much better this year!

-have updated full physical with blood work since last one was nearly 3 years ago (See item about growing family ;)
      Had one which worked out because we had to fill out wellness paperwork for our insurance company. Ugh.



Goals for 2016:


Personal

-Go away for my 30th (Berkeley Springs, WV)

-More time with friends. I miss my people. I want more brunches and take out on my couch.

-Leave work at work. I need to stop checking email after hours.


Marriage

-More dates with the husband

-Anniversary photo session in April


Writing

-At least one writing date a month. I really really miss sitting down to write.

-For realises, submit Moose Girl to two chapbook contests. I'm going to grab the latest issue of Poets and Writers and see what is available.


Financial

-Pension paperwork for husband. It needs updating.

-Create wills for each of us.

-Pay off ACS/student loan

-Pay off credit card

-Tackle five house items: bedroom update, laundry room update, fix problem areas in roof, pave driveway and install a wrap fence around 3/4ths of the yard.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday Snippets: 2016

I hope and pray that 2016 is better than 2015. There was a lot of personal pain as well as the disgusting display of the "justice" system murdering people.



(from: http://jessehimself.tumblr.com/post/136172321508)

Maybe he'll think twice before assaulting a woman again

#BelikeDarsh

Heck yeah JK Rowling

10,000

Snowflakes up close

Faith in humanity

The doctor said that the 91-year-old had been listening to the radio show and though she didn't know who Trump is, she felt the presidential candidate's ideas were hurtful. So when the patient, who happened to have an appointment with the doctor that day, arrived to the office, she gave him the five stuffed animals and also offered him some words of support.

Aww!

The minimum wage needs an increase bad. That is all

11 Accomplishments by BLM

Texas cuts off funding for Planned Parenthood’s HIV prevention program

Crime Myths Debunked

#TamirRice A sweet boy who was murdered. End of story.

A chuckle for your day

Horrible

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Quality: A Year in Review

I really liked the idea of picking a word for each year. Quality seemed right at the end of 2014. 2014 was a hard year but not nearly as hard as 2015. I had great plans for 2015 but starting the year with a massive migraine was foreshadowing. There were good moments (renewing our vows, lots of trips/mini-vacations, snuggles) but there was a lot of hard too. I'm not the only one. A lot of my immediate community had quite a shit year too.

Some of the good moments:

-Bid adeu to two Teflon pots that our former roommates destroyed and replaced with one stainless steel small pot.

-Sitting at home, after our vow renewal, snuggling in our dress up clothes.

-A day trip to the beach.

-Got rid of a trash can, to further cut down on waste. I'd like to get rid of more, but we'll see how that goes.

-Had a "tune up" session with my therapist when my anxiety drop kicked me in my teeth this fall.

-Re: anxiety-one good thing that came out of it was realizing just how much my darling husband was in my corner. He never doubted me.

-Stopped feeling guilty for binging on Netflix. Jessica Jones is so fucked up but amazing. And I will rewatch Ghost Whisperer till the cows come home.


For reference:

-Halfway through 2015

-Beginning of the year




Monday, December 28, 2015

Book Review-Asking For It

I was a fan of this book by page 12 when Harding asked for a permanent ban on the holiday song, "Baby It's Cold Outside." I, too, have forever hated that song and yet it blasts through my car radio every. damn. winter.

And yet Kate Harding's latest book, Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture-and What We Can Do About It is hard to read. Just like checking the news, Twitter or Facebook these days is hard. This book took me about two months longer to read than most books and it was because it was easier to look at puppy videos or the one with the cat wearing a hat. Fuzzy animals were easier than reading about the man who was accquited of rape by saying he fell into a woman's vagina. While that article might seem mind-boggling, it's not even rare these days. Because rape culture and what it entails is not new to any person, man or woman, black or white, trans or cis, who has suffered through it. Rape culture "condones physical and emotional terrorism against women and presents it as the norm."

The book is broken down into three parts (Slut Shaming, Victim Blaming and Rape Myths; Law and Order; and The Culture of Rape). In the first part, Harding presents the seven rape (American) myths and references them frequently throughout, from "He didn't mean to" to "She lied" to "Rape is a deviant event". The rape myths are pervasive and a very common one is the idea of instructing women on how to dress or enjoy a night out. The author makes clear that policing women's every move is asinine and dangerous.
       "This ubiquitous idea that by controlling our behavior, appearance, and whereabouts we can keep         ourselves from being raped does nothing to help women (let alone potential victims who aren't           women). It merely takes the onus off the rest of society to seriously consider what we can all do         to prevent sexual violence....Blaming women's drinking instead of men's decision to rape means         throwing up our hands and saying, 'Well, as long as the criminals keep choosing this one sort of           victim, there's nothing to be done about the second worst crime there is!' We might as well say           outright that it's perfectly legal to rape a drunk person."

Advising women how to stave off rapists does not work. Nor does policing women's lifestyle choices. The idea of putting the problem squarely on women's shoulders rather than the men who rape also didn't sit well with Zerlina Maxwell, who stated in March of 2013, "I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there." Many people lost their collective shit over such a statement and when the surrounding culture has given free passes to men regardless of what they do, it's not a big surprise.

The second section, Law and Order, explores how police departments don't routinely trust rape reports ('Women falsely report rape to call attention to themselves.'...17.6 percent [of officers] agreed...with one of the most pernicious rape myths there is."), sexual assault in the military, missing and untested rape kits, of which there is a massive backlog. The rest of the criminal justice system is also explored and is also equally depressing.

The third and final section, The Culture of Rape, gets into the nitty gritty of rape culture. Yes, it is terrorism committed against women, but there are other aspects like, "a women who wants to be sexual on her own terms without being punished for it, who wants the power to say both yes and no as freely as a man can." How many times have we heard "Well, if she didn't want to get pregnant, she should have kept her legs shut?" Women are not permitted to enjoy sex on their own terms. Period.

Another poisonous aspect of rape culture is the fact that "men are taught to see women as passive objects to collect and discard as it suits them....you end up with a lot of men who are really angry at women who speak publicly without asking permission." Not even just speaking publicly, existing, protesting, writing, etc.

Thankfully, Harding ends the book with the small measures of hope that exist today; student activists pushing forward with Title IX accountability for colleges, consent laws being enacted across the United States and even the power of social media as a way to hold people accountable and for victims to share stories and support.

This thoroughly researched book was hard to read. But very very necessary. While the book did focus on the United States, it is a good starting point for anyone trying to learn more about how insidious rape culture is. It is dangerous to women, especially women of color, disabled women, or any woman who doesn't fit into the chaste virgin stereotype. It's dangerous for a man who wants to navigate a healthy relationship but is confronted with harmful stereotypes about women and masculinity. But arming ourselves with the knowledge of how to combat the lies perpetrated by rape culture is a step forward to changing this toxic mindset.

(Photo credit: Amazon.com)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Snippets: Work Break

Starting 12/18 at noonish, I have a work break until the Monday after Christmas. I am so blessed to work for the amazing company that I do. Especially with the new perks they mentioned this month!


(image credit: http://jessehimself.tumblr.com/post/134737720943)


Warms even the Grinchiest of hearts

Wow, yup, so oppresive

Welcoming refugees in Canada

And fuck you too

Ugh, fucking people

Examples of micro-aggressions: racism edition

Thank god someone's saying it If Trump wins, I'm moving to Sweden. Husband has some distant relatives there and they have banging family leave policies.

Baby and cat; some of my favorite things

Exactly, Bernie

holy shit

10 Things You're Saying When You Ignore Someone's Gender Pronouns

Japanese Women Demand Right to Keep Their Surnames After Marriage

Rock on, little man! Had that been my little girl, that kid would have been hog tied to a Santa pole.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Great Falls


We went to Great Falls on Sunday with some friends and accidentally walked about 5 miles. My legs let me know in the most colorful language the next day.

Some other pics are here!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Adventures in Homeownership: Ah, laundry

I've mentioned before that we've had issues with our laundry room. Last Saturday, after I had finished painting our bedroom closet, I decided to run a load. Now the aforementioned babysitting that needed to occur happened later in the cycle, so I set it and was in the kitchen, doing dishes when I heard a sizable gushing onto the floor in the laundry room. I ran in and slammed the button to turn off the machine.

The pipe was so clogged that I couldn't even run the machine for a full minute before a geyser erupted from the pipe. I was home by myself so I spent an hour toggling it before I realized I could just remove the washing machine exit hose from the pipe and stick it straight into a bucket, thus avoiding spills. I did four loads of laundry this way until we fixed the pipe Tuesday night. (side note, hauling a full bucket-think those orange Home Depot buckets-of water to the sink eight times for a load of laundry was so not on my bucket list...ahem.)

It comes in handy sometimes, having a husband who hoards items in the garage. We had a rubber piece that would fit the pipe nicely, so we cut it to flush the system.


 

Husband cutting said pipe.


Section of pipe cut. Fun fact, when we flushed it, we found noodles, hair and what looked like a baby tooth. I'm not even going to hazard a guess.


A better view of the cut.

I thought I had grabbed a pic of the fixed solution, but I was probably so busy hugging the working set up, I forgot. But we literally took two hose clamps and a rubber sleeve and slapped everything back together. And it works! I did a load last night and it was purring fine. And by purring, I mean sounding like a freight train because the damn thing is loud as hell. Another purchase for next year.