Thursday, June 23, 2011

To my lovely, amazing husband on our fourth anniversary:

Dear Chris, 

Since we have no money, and I have an abundance of time and my internet works, I decided to write you this celebratory anniversary letter.

I can clearly remember the very first time I saw you.  You were dressed in that brown corduroy blazer that had elbow patches, and you sat in the camel-colored leather chair in my apartment.  Your hair was almost shoulder length and blonde (YES, it was blonde).  I know you may not remember this moment as well as I do, for reasons that will remain unsaid (since this is the freaking internet); however, I know that when you first saw me, when you truly saw me for the first time, it was love at first sight. 

So now here we are, eight years later, four of them spent in marriage.  You're off in Maryland, trying to make a future for us, and I'm here in Urbana, reading pop fiction and watching our free trial of movie channels.  And God, do I miss you.  Sometimes I'll try and break from my routine.  I'll put Game of Thrones down, and turn off the Game of Thrones episode I'm watching on HBO, and I'll head to my computer.  

Apparently, it's just ketchup in those pictures.  Go figure.  Other days, I put on my protective gear, get on my bike, and take to the streets.

Even with these incredibly exciting activities, I'm dying to come see you.  It's one week from tomorrow, and I'm there!  I wonder how you'll react when you see me for the first time in over a month?

I don't think we'll have a run-in like that.  I think it'll be more like this:

We can decide later who gets to ride on whose back.  I'm not only excited about the moment we get to see each other at the airport on Friday night, I'm excited for all the things we're going to do together once I get to Maryland.  I'm sure there will be stuff that I want to do that you don't, and stuff you want to do that I don't, but let's try and be good sports and cooperate.

We'll try to do mostly fun and unique I'll guess we'll stay away from this place:

Maybe we'll go to Ellicott City instead and actually park and go into some of the shops!  It looks like fun. :)

Or maybe we should go bowling?  We haven't bowled in forever!

Ew, no.  Maybe we shouldn't go bowling.  I know, we'll watch a movie!  I'll bring some with me and we can watch them at the hotel.  I'll bring our favorites.

If we feel like getting out of the hotel for a while, we could go to the movies.  We always love doing that. 

And when we're all movied out, maybe we'll go grab a beer somewhere at a local pub.

You know what drinking beer leads to?  Partying.  Big time partying.

Now I'm worried, though.  With all this sitting and movie-watching and beer-drinking, we may need to exercise.  I know you found that beautiful walking trail, so that's where we should go.  First things first, you need to dress in your workout clothes, comfortable and breathable.

Perfect!  Now we're ready to take that trail by storm.  

There is another way we can exercise that I haven't mentioned yet (a brief apology to all those reading this who are not my husband and who may be grossed out by the next few pictures...). 

 It's true.  And I'm so glad I don't have to worry about you talking to people about our intimate life.  I can trust you.

Our nights can also include us staying up really late talking about all the important things in life.  We can really get into the deep truths that surround us and develop ideas that will take us into the next phase of our lives.

Speaking of the next phase of our lives, let's jump from this trip in Maryland to our future.  I feel so lucky to have someone like you by my side.  Like you've said before, sometimes I'll need your support more than you need mine, and sometimes you'll need my support more than I need yours.  But whatever the balance is, it's comforting to know that we've always got each other's backs. 

And I know that no matter what I want to do in the future, whether it's being a stay at home wife/mother, or finding a place for my passion outside our home, I have your support and your wisdom backing me up.  Maybe we could open something like this together?

Really, I don't care what I end up doing to make a living, or what you end up doing.  The only thing I care about is that we get to do it all together.  I so look forward to everything that is in store for us and I'm so excited that I get to live my life being your wife and that I get to have you as my husband.  I cannot wait until you're back home with me.  After that, it doesn't matter where we live, because (as cliché as this is) home is wherever we are together.  

I am missing you big time, though.  I keep trying to find new ways to tell you how much I miss you.

But really, all I want is for you to come back to me.  

Yeah, that's the one.  Baby, come back!  

It's been a fantastic four years of marriage, and an amazing eight years of knowing you.  You are an incredible man, friend, and husband.  I can't wait to see what the coming years bring us and I can't wait to continue experiencing life with you.  

I love you so so much.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Did It!

Well, yesterday at 5:00 pm I picked up my senior portfolio and walked out of Stevenson Hall for the last time as an ISU student.  I finished.  It feels so strange to be done.  I'm looking around my desk (read: our dining room table) and wondering what it could look like now that I'm not a student anymore.  Maybe it'll be clean!  (Never gonna happen.)

I can't believe I'm not a student anymore!  It's been such a major part of my identity for so long.  I mean, I'll be 27 in June.  It reminds me of Tommy Boy: "A lot of people go to college for seven years."  "Yeah, they're called doctors."

It'll be interesting to see how this next year goes.  Chris still has a year of school left, so I'll (hopefully) be able to bring home the bacon.  I left the job that I talked about here.  Chris is going to Maryland this summer for his internship and I'll be staying back to take care of the cats.  We were hoping that I could go with him, but we can't find a good solution that takes care of the cats and allows me to go to MD.  So, this summer will be a lot of reading, writing, pooling, and visiting my mama and sister.  After I head out to MD in July, I'll come back and get down to business.  It'll be business time.  I'll find a job, get lots of money (like millions of dollars every year, probably), and maybe we'll get to have Cable!

For now, though, it's off to find an awesome graduation party dress.  Then some more wine tonight.  So far, being done is pretty fantastic.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I'm feeling so lost.  I just started this new job, this job I drooled over for months.  I hate it.  The job itself isn't too bad.  It's actually exactly what I thought I wanted to do.  I'm creating content to publish on a website, I'm researching in order to create said content, I'm organizing and repurposing my boss's content, and in the mean time I'm also taking some organizational and clerical duties from the office manager.

I've gone to work 3 times so far.  I've cried at least 3 times.  I go back and forth from feeling like I'm just a whiny pansy and I need to suck it up to the fact that I don't care and I'm unhappy at this place.  I should feel lucky to have a job in this shitty economy.  The people are nice enough, the work is perfect for my major, etc etc.  All I can think is that a serving or barista position sounds pretty damn good right now.  Or, god forbid the girl I blogged about here finds out, a receptionist position that doesn't require too much of me.

There are scheduling issues that are really upsetting me right now.  Chris is leaving for the summer, for three long months, and this job has me working Mondays and Fridays.  I told them I needed two Fridays off coming up (one for David Sedaris planned since Christmas, one for graduation) and was met with incredulity.  So, the long weekend I had planned to take to see Chris this summer is probably a no-go.  How will I be able to see my husband at all this summer if my job shits on me when I'd like to switch my hours around?  This has to be because I'm used to the flexibility of the service industry.  Get your shift covered and you're golden.  Now, "you said you want to work Fridays, I don't care if you're graduating from college, you're working Fridays."

So, maybe that's not exactly how it went, but that's how it felt.  What I'd really like to do is quit...ASAP. Like, send them an e-mail RIGHT NOW saying "Thanks, but no thanks," then enjoy the rest of the night before I start worrying about how to pay the bills.  I've done this before, but I'm going to be 27 in June, a college graduate, and I can't keep treating jobs like disposable objects.  I can see the immaturity and fault in my feelings, but that doesn't help me change them.

Ideally, I'd like to have a full time job by mid-summer so that Chris doesn't have to work for his last year of school.  Also, my school loans will be due come January, and that's pretty fucking scary, so I'm thinking a decent income is definitely a good idea.  But, what the fuck do I do when I'm unhappy at so many different jobs?  Suck it up?  Is that what other people do?  Is it possible to find a job you're happy in?  Maybe I take cuts in pay in order to get more flexibility in scheduling.  Maybe I just try to realize that I'm the common denominator in this equation and the jobs aren't the's me.

Chris knows that eventually I'd like to not work.  This is whether we have children or not (though we're planning on having a giant amount of kids).  I'd rather write, read, cook, clean (ok, not really, but it's part of it if I get to do the other things), and be available for family when needed.  Maybe it's just time I let go of that for now and stop crying.  I don't know.  I'm hoping the situation will be looking up soon.  Also, I fucking hate complaining like this when I know so many horrible things are happening all over the world.  But, I can't get over it, no matter how slight it is in comparison to others' hurt.  I feel myself slipping into a rut that I'm afraid of slipping into... a rut where I come home every day and never leave work at work, never stop venting about co-workers or my job, and start to dread Monday on Saturday morning.

Please tell me that you, whoever you are, have a career that makes you happy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Brazilian Sugar Cane, Lukewarm Beer, and an Italian with a Four Inch Knife

Here's an essay I just wrote for my food and literature class.  We were asked to focus on "Terroir," or "the taste of place."  Here goes:

   “Buckle yourself,” Lorenzo told me.
   The jeep was older than I was, 31 years old to be exact, Lorenzo bragged.  It looked it.  I climbed in and realized the seat belt was more like a roller coaster harness than the normal car seatbelt that I was used to.  I reached for the harness and pulled the two straps connected in the middle from the top of the seat over my head and pushed the buckle into the clasp between my legs on the front of the seat.  Here we go, I thought.

  Lorenzo, in his broken English, told me what all the dashboard instruments were.  The only one that sticks in my mind today is the leveling meter.
   “That say,” he pointed with his left hand and held his right hand out, palm down, and rotated it side to side, “if we tip or not.” 
   “Oh,” I said.  I started to freak out.  “Cool.”
   We stopped to fill up the tank first before we headed out to the countryside.  Lorenzo pumped gas into the jeep, ran inside to pay, then came back out with a 6-pack of beer.  I thought, cool, we’ll have a beer or two out in the sugar cane fields.  We pulled out of the gas station, merged onto the highway, and began our excursion.  I was so grateful to him for getting me out of the house.  I had been in Brazil for two weeks and had yet to do anything other than watch Law & Order: SVU with Portuguese subtitles (I remain addicted to this show today).  My Godmother, with whom I was staying, was busy with work and family, seemed distant and was either unwilling or unable to take me around.  On my first day in Brazil she had told me to write down all the places I wanted to visit, but that was the last time we discussed any type of travel.  Lorenzo, her Italian husband who spoke Italian and Portuguese but almost no English, decided to take me out for the day to see the local sugar cane fields.  I had my camera, ten rolls of film, and I was buckled in and ready to go. 
   We rode mostly in a language-barrier induced silence, but the silence was not uncomfortable.  Lorenzo concentrated on the driving while I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the breathtaking scenery of the country roads outside of Piracicaba, my birthplace and the home of my Godmother and her family.  The deep greens of the fields contrasted with the rich browns of the soil and the reds, oranges, yellows, and blues of the houses which made for a plethora of eye candy along the drive.  We finally got to the sugar cane fields and did Lorenzo’s version of off-roading.  My eyes darted back and forth from the “please-god-don’t-let-us-tip-over meter,” the miles of sugar cane, and the occasional remains of a Macumba ritual, what Lorenzo told me was “Brazilian Black Magic.”  The jeep climbed hills that looked small from far away, but which eventually made me realize how much I needed the roller coaster harness.  We drove past villages nestled in the fields consisting of two or three brightly colored and small houses with chickens, dogs, donkeys, goats, horses, and pigs relaxing on the land.  We waved and the farmers and their families waved back.
   After a few hours of driving around, Lorenzo stopped the jeep and pulled out the four inch knife attached to his belt buckle. 
   “You want some sugar cane?” he asked.
   “Yes!” I responded.
   He jumped out of his seat, walked over to the cane stalks on my side of the jeep, and began to cut one of the stalks down, starting to saw at about shoulder level.  After I struggled with the harness buckle and got out of the jeep, legs a little wobbly from the ride, I watched him saw through the cane that I could now see was roughly two to three inches thick.  He brought it to me and we stood over the hood of the jeep as he used his knife to peel off the outside rind from the cane.  When all the rich green was gone, what was left was a creamy colored stringy inside.  He handed it to me.
   “Bite, then suck a little.  It’s good,” he told me.
   I did as told, and it was good.  Its texture was similar to celery in its stringiness, but somehow meaty at the same time.  I wasn’t able to bite any pieces off, but with each bite, I was able to suck more sweet juice from the cane.  Sugar cane, straight from the fields of Brazil.  My first outing in the country since I left when I was 5 years old, and I was standing in a sugar cane field with no one around for miles, next to an Italian man with a four inch knife, both of us eating fresh and sweet sugar cane straight off the stalk. 
   We finally reached the highway after a few more moments of “oh my god we’re tipping over and I’m going to die.”  When the jeep made it back to the paved road, Lorenzo reached behind his seat and pulled out the six pack.  He popped open the top of the first can and handed it to me.
   “It’s okay to do this while driving?” I asked, wide eyed.
   “Yes, is okay here.  You can drink little, but still need to wear seat belt,” he laughed.
   “Obrigada, Lorenzo,” I laughed back, thanking him in my broken but slowly returning Portuguese.
   He popped the top of another beer, we clinked cans, and both took a sip.  The beer was lukewarm from sitting in the jeep, but it wasn’t flat and felt cool going down my hot throat.  There was something exhilarating about drinking a beer while being driven around in a 31 year old jeep by a wonderful Italian man, harnessed in, and with the taste of fresh, stringy sugar cane still in my mouth.  This feeling was Brazil, and it was a good day. 

--Lorenzo, March 2006, driving the 31 year old jeep through the sugar cane fields outside of Piracicaba, Brazil.  (Photo by Me!)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Major Change - or - How a Pun Can Ruin a Blog Post Title

    Today I walked right up to my Spanish major and was all like, hiiiiYA!  I dropped it like a hot potato in a game of hot potato.  I am now solely an English major with a Spanish minor (more like a Spanish minor x 8).  This semester was set aside to complete the last three required courses in Spanish and my very last English course. 

    Instead, I karate-kicked those Spanish classes right out of my schedule and added in two TESOL classes (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), one focusing on Theory and Practice and the other focusing on Cross-cultural Issues. 

    The third English class I picked up is a course on U.S. Latino Literature and Culture...taught in ENGLISH.  I’m so excited for this class.  Holy crap.  It’s taught by the same woman who heads up the ISU journal that publishes in a number of different languages.  I’m hoping she’ll include some publishing information in this course. 

    And lastly, the cap to my English Studies career, a class called Senior Seminar.  We’re reading a great variety of super interesting-looking books, refining the writing we’ve done throughout our career at ISU, and finishing with a writing portfolio at the end of the semester. 
    I had been dreading this semester, my very last semester at ISU as an undergrad, for a long time now.  Pretty much right after I signed up for the classes I needed and the reality of what my last semester was going to look like sunk in, I started feeling icky.  It took me until last night - LATE last night - to actually admit that I wanted to drop my Spanish major and that it was OK.  I think my worst critic about this decision is going to be myself.  Partly because most people don’t give a damn, and partly because I always worry that I’m making a huge mistake - a mistake that I’ll regret for the rest of my life.  But also, when I think about it, I just don’t want to have to defend my decision to every single person who questions it. 

    “Why didn’t you just finish?  You only had THREE classes left?”

    “What are you going to do with only an English degree?”

    “So all those extra Spanish classes you took were for nothing?”

    And honestly, these are my questions to myself.  I need to be nicer to myself.  I’m kind of like the mean girl and the nerd all wrapped up in one.  Maybe that’s where all my bruises come from - they have fights when I’m not paying attention.

    In spite of my own negativity, looking back on my Spanish career at ISU, I’m impressed by what I’ve learned and what I’ve accomplished… and all of it in Spanish!  I’ve studied linguistic issues that affect native and second language speakers of Spanish, I’ve read some great works of literature in Spanish, I’ve researched and presented information in front of classes in Spanish, and best of all, I wrote a beautiful 16 page linguistic research paper in Spanish.  Dang, I’m proud of that puppy.  These are great things and I can take all of this with me when I graduate whether or not I have SPANISH written in giant letters on my degree.

    It’s time to cut myself a break, accept this gut decision and soak up everything I can from my hopefully awesome English classes in this last semester of my undergraduate career.  The fact that I’m no longer dreading the next 16 weeks is already a win in the Emily column.

George Bush Doesn't Care About Fat People

    I love WeightWatchers (WW).  I really do.  They’ve helped me approximately 8 separate times when I’ve felt I needed something more than just sheer willpower and personal responsibility to get my act together and lose weight.  Owing someone money every month is the best way to feel guilty about having that thirteenth peanut butter cup.  Chris (the hubs) and I signed up for it about 4 months ago, we both lost weight, then we lost money and had to cancel our memberships.  We’ve been off of the program for a little over a month now and I believe it’s safe to say, especially since it’s right after Christmas and New Year’s and homegirl likes her cookies (I’m homegirl - in case you didn’t catch that), we’ve both put on a bit of weight. 

    I’m currently looking for work.  We thought that with school loans and Chris’s work, we would be fine financially until I graduated and found a real job.  That is not the case.  I was super excited when one day I came across a listing for a part-time front desk position at the local WW.  I thought, No way, this will be perfect!  I’ll probably get WW for free or seriously discounted and I can work towards being healthier while helping other people be a part of WW, too.  Awesome!

    Turns out I’m too fat to work for WW.  I’m serious.  They require their employees to be within 10 pounds of their healthy BMI weight.  I didn’t even know that a company could do that.  You can’t discriminate against gender, race, age, but I’m too fat to answer phones and file for you?  That’s messed up, WW, that’s messed up. 

    What do they think will happen if they have an employee who actually needs their program to lose weight?  Do they think she’ll occasionally gain weight while on the program?  Do they think she’ll feel like quitting every now and then?  Aren’t these things that EVERYONE goes through when trying a new diet (or lifestyle)?  Are they afraid their members will walk in, see a big girl behind the desk ready to help them sign in, and start puking immediately because of the amount of fat?  Maybe that’s it.  Nobody likes cleaning up puke.  I sure don’t and I’m positive, as the newest employee with the least amount of superiority, I would get stuck on vom clean-up duty. 

    Well, I guess this means I’ll keep looking.  Hostess is hiring a part-time retail clerk.  Maybe I’ll be able to eat Little Debbie cakes all day and I can just continually say “Fuck WeightWatchers!” to all my customers.  We can laugh together, have another oatmeal creme pie (shit, those are so good), and hopefully Hostess will put the skinny new girl on puke patrol.