Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to Eat a Caramel Apple: A Demonstration

This is Ange eating a caramel apple. Notice the eyes squeezing shut so tight.

Notice the champion caramel apple eater (me). BIG bites. Whoa.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pretty Little Flower

Every spring this little lonely daffodil raises it's little head out of the piles of leaves I refuse to rake in the fall. It only lives for a few weeks (mostly because I suck at anything gardening related and don't do anything to encourage life), but every year it makes me happy to see it. It seems like it springs out of nowhere and all of a sudden I'm like "Oh hello little flower! I've missed you!" This usually means spring is right around the corner. This came up about two weeks ago so I'm hoping that means I'll have a warm sunny birthday.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our (first) Wedding(-ish) Story

Or Gay Marriage Part 2

While we were on vacation in California this past weekend Ange and I done and got hitched! Ok, well kind of but not really. We did file our paperwork to become officially registered domestic partners!

Here's the story:

Ange and I have been wanting to make our relationship "official" for some time. To us, we are married, but to the outside world, we are not. We had been toying with the idea of going and getting married in a state (or country) that would allow us to get married but just hadn't gotten around to planning our "destination wedding."

When I accepted the job at CSU-Chico we started to arduous process of figuring out what hoops we needed to jump through to make sure she is recognized as my legal spouse and is entitled to (most of) the benefits that would be extended to a legally married couple. When you are LGBT you always know that there are hoops. So we found out that we would have to legally register in the state of California as domestic partners. We then had to figure out whether we needed to already be citizens of the state (No) and if what we would need to do (fill out a paper). So I downloaded the form and we did nothing with it for 2 weeks. Procrastinators much?

So while we were in California this past week we decided we'd fill out the forms and hand deliver them and yay! we'd be "official." So we downloaded the forms to my mom's computer and looked them over. Ange realized that she had the opportunity to legally change her name if she so desired. Since I am an academic (that sounds SO fancy doesn't it?) and I have already had publications under my name I had decided not to change my name for professional reasons. Since she had a day to think about it she did what any reasonable person would and posted a poll on Facebook! That's NOT to say that her decision was based solely on the opinions of her Facebook "friends." We had discussed it previously and continued to discuss it all day with my mom and Dale and amongst ourselves. Basically we could not come up with a reason not to, and all the feel good reasons to do it were enough. So we filled out the forms later that night with Ange changing her last name to Bledsoe-Briggs. We then decided to deliver them the next morning. 

The next morning we were looking over the papers again and it dawned on us that we would have to pay an extra $15 to hand deliver the papers and we weren't even sure that would expedite the process any. We tried to call the SOS's Office but the recording very hilariously informed us that due to the Governor's budget cuts there were not enough staff left to answer the phone and all you could do was listen to the menu over and over. Lovely. 

So we decided to just fill out the form, have it notarized, and then stick it in the mail and wait for our certificate and lovely "Your Future Together" brochure to come in the mail.

Side bar #1: First of all, "Your Future Together" is the silliest thing ever. Apparently all married or domestic partners get a copy of it when you get married/registered. In spirit, it's fine. It has bland tips for having a healthy relationship. However, I'm sure almost no one reads it and flings it in the trash. Keep the money and pay someone to answer your phone instead of printing up stupid booklets. Secondly, the brochure is created for heterosexual couples so why are you sending it to us? It's all heterosexual imagery, and all the health issues are covered from the perspective of a straight person. Not. For. Us.

Side bar #2: If heterosexual senior citizens want to become domestic partners rather than get married, which they would do to preserve certain financial benefits related to social security, they have to pay $10 to register. If you are a same-sex domestic partner then you get to pay an additional $23! Why? Because apparently once we get partnered we're all going to start beating each other. Old people apparently do not beat each other, but we do. Good to know. I mean, whatever, $23 to support LGBT domestic abuse programs is minimal but still, double standards people. Annoying. 

So long story short, for $33 we get a little certificate that says we are officially domestic partners, a lame booklet that isn't really for us, and the knowledge we're helping some people get out of domestic abuse situations (maybe--the whole program seems fishy to me). Funsies. We still aren't married, but we're a step closer. We don't get any state or federal benefits for being partnered, but we do get insurance from my employer (which is technically a state benefit) and the satisfaction that we are somehow legally acknowledge (although at a drastically less level than married heteros). 

So we drive on over to the UPS store to get our form notarized. PEOPLE. If you want a serious notary to sign your forms head on over to Long Beach, California to the Spring St. store because I have never seen anyone as serious about being a notary as this girl. My mom had already warned us that she was VERY serious about her duty and that we should not expect jovial joking around with her. She was so right. 

We went in the store and there was a man who asked us if we needed help. We said we needed a form notarized and he said the woman who was the notary would not be in for another 10 minutes. Apparently when you are a fancy public official you don't have to come to work on time! So we went next door to get a coffee and wait. 

After about 10 minutes we went back over and the same guy was at the counter and told us to hold on a minute. Now, it was just me, Ange and my mom in the store. But Ms. Professional Notary comes out from the back and says "Did someone need a Notary?" just like someone would say "Does someone need a doctor?" She was so serious. We had to stifle some giggles. We said yes we needed to notarize a form and she said very formally "What will I be notarizing?" We handed over the form and she scrutinized it as if it were the Declaration of Independence. Since there were two signatures required on the form it was going to cost us $20 rather than $10 (SIGH) but whatevs. What's $10 more than what we were already going through? She then took our identification and began copying it down in her special Notary book. While she was working on this she made us read through the form AGAIN to be sure we understood it all and to make us write N/A in any open space "just in case."

After she got done copying our information down she asked us if we were both here on our own free will and were not being coerced into this. I almost held up my right hand to swear to it, but I kept it together and just said yes. I was surprised that was all she asked. No proof that we were partners (whatever that would be), no financial statements, just swearing it and filling out the form. She then filled out her portion of the form...which took forever. She literally read through her statement WORD FOR WORD and even marked all the his/her/they parts of the form, either crossing out what didn't apply or circling what did. I was dying. 

Then she took about 5 minutes trying to line up her stamp so it was situated perfectly. Then she stamped it and seriously let the stamp sit there for like 30 seconds. Just to make sure it was good and inked I guess. It took all of my willpower to not lose it. I quickly folded it up, stuck it in the envelope and dropped it in their mail crate. We hit the road to drop off my mom and head out on our "honeymoon" at the freshwater springs spa. 

When we were at the coffee shop I picked up a bag of shamrock cookies because they looked yummy. We decided they were like our wedding cake. And they were like good luck charms right?

About 20 minutes down the highway we were chatting about our domestic partnership and I started to say "And it only cost us $53!" but I only got the "And it only cost..." when I realized that I forgot to write a damn check for the registration!!! 





We'd only been partners officially for 30 minutes and I'd already ruined everything. Of course I am dramatic and no good in stressful situations so I started going into hysterical convulsions and flapping my arms around the car screaming about how I'd already ruined everything. Luckily Ange has been with me for 2 and a half years and is used to me being ridiculous so she calmly exited the freeway, pulled into a parking lot, googled the UPS store and called them to see if it was ok if we came back and took the envelope out of the carton and put the check in. They said no problem. Huh. Who knew that the super serious crew would be so flexible with the US mail? So we buzzed back to the store, I made Ange go into the store to retrieve the mail and put the check in because I was too embarrassed by my carelessness of our new partnership to show my face. She was out in about 2 minutes and we were back on our way. Day saved. I knew I picked a good one! 
So that is the first wedding-ish story we have. I'm sure there will be more to follow as laws progress and we gain more rights and freedoms in this oh-so-lovely country of ours. But for now, I present, The Bledsoe-Briggs Family!

So happy together :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How I Looked for a Job

As I mentioned previously, I often make decisions in random spastic ways, and this pattern has usually served me well and I alluded to the fact that my new job search was somewhat similar to the way I had chosen my undergraduate university.

All is ready to be revealed because I got a job offer and I accepted! Yay, yay, yay!

So one would think that with higher and higher levels of education you would you have more choices in the world available to you. That's kind of true in some ways, but not so much in others.

You see, there's only so many places that a person with a PhD can work. And the job openings for those people don't open up often. So when you go out to look for a job your choices are somewhat limited. You go where there are job offers and that often means you have to do a nationwide search. And that's what most PhD students do.

That's mostly what I did...but with some limits. I know that the economy is bad right now and just getting A job anywhere I can should be my goal. But in the words of one wise person, homie don't play that. I really cannot be expected to move just anywhere. Besides the fact that I am generally picky about my surroundings, I have actual real-life concerns like is my family going to be discriminated against or worse, hate crimed? Why in the world would I choose to move somewhere more backwards and conservative than Indiana? And while we're at it, why do I want to live anywhere uglier than Indiana and farther away from civilization?

So I needed a plan. And here it is:

Oh how I love MS Paint

Anywhere in the "Not Even" zone would be immediately passed over for consideration. Generally speaking, these are very conservative states where my family would be in danger and/or highly undesirable places to live anyway for a multitude of reasons (ratio of city to farmland, distance from the beach, plethora of Southern twang, etc.). Now I'm sure some cities in the zone are "just lovely," but frankly no amount of convincing on the part of a native is going to convince me I would want to live anywhere in the zone. So I didn't apply anywhere where jobs were listed in this area.

I heard from a lot of people that this was a fool-hardy decision; I shouldn't limit myself so much. Well guess what? I applied for 52 jobs outside of that zone. FIFTY TWO. That's a lot. I was sure I'd get SOMETHING.

And guess what?

I did. Suck it naysayers.

And not only did I get A job in the desirable zone, I got one of my top choices in my very top zone of ideal living.

I accepted a job at California State University-Chico on Monday. My heart is singing on the highest mountain-tops. Starting this fall I will be a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Chico State. I've never been so happy in my entire life. Once again, random strategies for world domination have worked in my favor. Go me!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

National Enquirer...I mean, really?

Who the hell reads the National Enquirer? 

I was recently going to the bathroom in my place of employment and there was a National Enquirer on the back of the toilet. Now, in my building, knowing my co-workers it was purchased as a joke. But it got me thinking...

Who the hell reads that trash? I mean, there can't be that many people who think it's a funny enough joke to support the on-going printing of it. So that must mean they have actual readership. 

Besides the one time they actually got a story right (see: John Edwards, skanky politician extraordinaire) they usually talk about alien babies and tragic completely ridiculous and made-up celebrity stories.  Their stuff is so far-fetched that it is nowhere near believable. How do people think it is a good investment of their money?

They even have a website which I'm almost embarrassed to link to, but it's such a crapfest I couldn't help myself. Besides the crappy content, it looks like a 5 year old designed it. So many blinky .gif images! Arghhh!

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. Do you know anyone who reads this shit show like for real? Not for jokes?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Night We Accidently Went to Mardi Gras

So last night Ange and I were hanging out with my sister and her husband Clint and we decided we'd all get dinner together. Leslie and Clint were upstairs getting ready and Ange and I were sitting downstairs trying to brainstorm some place to go and eat. Leslie is a notoriously picky eater so when it comes to eating out our choices are limited (we usually either eat at Applebee's, Chili's or Cracker Barrel). So Ange I were trying to decide where we wanted to eat. We were trying to brainstorm places Leslie would find acceptable and that we would not feel blah about eating. We had decided Olive Garden, Red Lobster (which would be a long shot with Leslie--she could find a hamburger or something but she wouldn't want to smell fish) and were trying to think of another place when Leslie popped her head down the stairs and said "I was thinking about trying that place we saw that one day when we were driving around Mooresville looking for a place to recycle."

Over Christmas Leslie, Hilary, Scotty & I spent about an hour in the car looking for a place closer to Leslie to recycle than the Kroger by my dad's house. Well we never found a place (sad Indiana, really?) but as we were driving through the next town over from my sister's town of Camby we drove down the main street in Mooresville and saw some quaint looking shops and a restaurant. Of course until Leslie mentioned this I had not given it a second thought. I generally don't spend much time in Mooresville and would not think to go out of my way to dine there. But since we were already in Camby I said why not.

Now I only vaguely remembered the restaurant that Leslie was referring to, and really all I remembered was that she maybe said something about "huh, a restaurant in downtown Mooresville" and that was about it. But unlike (typical) Leslie, Ange and I are always game for new places so we set off for a new adventure. At this point I have to say I was already impressed that Leslie was willing to venture out to an unknown restaurant without knowing anything about it. That's kind of out of character for her so that was exciting enough.

So we drove over to Mooresville which takes usually about 8 minutes, but since it's been raining like the second coming of Moses the road we were going to go down was flooded so we had to take a longer way around. Now Mooresville is a hole in the wall town. They have about 3 roads that constitute their downtown. I was thinking the restaurant was on the main road going West-East. Leslie thought she remembered seeing it on the main road going North-South. Since we had to take an alternate route to get there we were already on the North-South road so we drove down it and found no restaurants of our memory. So we had to turn around and stalk the West-East road. We slowed down at a place that was brightly lit and had a larger name sign that said Zydeco's. Leslie and I both agreed this was probably the place we saw when we were cruising around though we both remembered it a little differently. 

Leslie was looking at it and said "The sign says it's Cajun/Creole..." and I immediately thought "Uh oh. No way are we going here" because of aforementioned picky eating habits. We had to cruise down the street to turn around to find a place to park and Leslie started inquiring about what the heck Cajun/Creole even meant. Ange and I were trying to explain it to her in terms she would understand. And I don't mean that in a condescending way, but if you've never tried to explain "cultural" food to someone who usually eats chicken nuggets and hot dogs, it's challenging. No way can you just say "Oh you know, etouffee, gumbo, etc." She'd have no idea. So in our bumbling attempts to explain it she says "Is it kind of like food you'd get in the Bahamas? Like maybe I could find something like jerk chicken?" And Ange and I simultaneously said "No" and "Yes" at the same time. I looked at Ange and said "You and I would not make that comparison but trust me, in Leslie's food world, they are very similar." Ange agreed after I brought up that perspective. So Leslie thought she could find something to eat and said "Let's go!" Again, I was slightly shocked at this new adventurous food eating person who looked a lot like my sister. Shocked, but excited.

We parked and went in. We saw they had live music when we drove by but still nothing had occurred to us that we would be walking into a PACKED restaurant. We walked in and it was like one of those scenes where the music grinds to a halt and everyone in the bar stares at you. That didn't really happen, but it kind of felt like it. Like everyone was staring at us and like "Who the hell are you guys?" Some lady comes up to with us with a list and asks what name our reservation is under. After we explain we don't have a reservation she looks at us puzzling and tells us to follow her farther back away from the live music. Everyone is dressed strangely and having a very good time but still nothing really alerts us to anything special. When we get back to the back of the restaurant the lady explains that they really don't have any tables open since people have booked Mardi Gras weekend for a year in advance, but last night she had several tables not show up and she didn't want to risk that again so she was going to run around and see what she could do for us. Only then do we realize we'd naively walked into a New Orleans bar (they only one for probably 25 miles) on the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Whoops. Call us unaware. 

So we ended up getting a table in the bar upstairs (which we didn't even know existed until the lady brought us up two wobbly dark sets of stairs) where there was another live musician playing and more people dressed up in crazy Mardi Gras get up. It was like stepping into bizarro world. We just kept saying "Is this really happening?" The food was awesome, the music was really good, and for as packed as they were the hospitality and service was pretty stellar. I would definitely visit again in the future and would highly recommend it to anyone in the area. You might just want to check and see if there is some big event going on beforehand. In case you unknowingly walk into a Mardi Gras celebration. Trust me, it happens.

His face is mostly red from the bbq, not the beer.