Archive for January, 2012

A high intensity long weekend

I have today off. I had yesterday off too. One of Beloved’s longtime friends is spending time in Europe, and we had invited him to come by for a few days so we could hang out and talk tech and politics and travel and other things. We’d relax, chill, chat and eat.

Before joining us the friend spent some time in another city in Europe, from which he would come to us by train. Two days before his arrival he called. A railroad strike prevented him from taking his booked train, meaning he would arrive at least 24 hours late. Beloved and I quickly decided that the mountain could come to Moses if Moses was so severely delayed. We rented a car and drove a few hundred kilometers to Lille, arriving a day early to the pretty city. No better excuse for a mini-weekend trip, right?

Photo by James Stringer under a Creative Commons License

We nearly lost our gonads to frostbite from taking in the gorgeous sights all Sunday and slept in the Lille Motel (a most depressing former maternity ward). They have us the “Rotterdam”-themed room, sweet eh? Their breakfast was pretty good too. After some good coffee in a reader-friendly cafe we picked up our friend at the station and drove home, where we arrived with a little time to spare before our ever moody but most lovable cat Moodypuss had to undergo a check at the vet.

MoodyPuss has been losing weight, lately. A friend and ex-vet confirmed my suspicions in this regard and told us to take him in, which we did yesterday. After MoodyPuss had been felt up rather thoroughly and nothing seemed all that off, they asked us for permission for a urine test. And then a blood test. We took Moodypuss back home and received the test results three hours later. Beloved took the call and soon reported that our cat has lost at least 75% of his kidney function, I suppose it’s not surprising for a fifteen year old cat to have kidney problems and I have since learned that it’s not unusual for a cat not to show symptoms until in the later stages of failure, but man…Wish I’d known.

Today MoodyPuss had to go back to the vet (he struggled like a champ when we put him in the carrier, but to no avail: the Mean Hoomins won again). He’ll stay in the clinic for three days, receiving a type of dialysis (blood-cleaning from built-up toxins) and come back to a limited-expectancy life of diet food and no treats. We hope he gains some weight back and can spend a few more happy, healthy months with us.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to work. It will be very relaxing and hopefully no one will strike or be diagnosed with any terminal illnesses.

Today’s little funny

A new issue of The Atlantic came in. Let’s say that the cover “spoke to me”.

Full copyright of cover belongs to The Atlantic.

I’m a writer

.. and I hadn’t really thought of myself like that before.

My official function title is editor, but my tasks are rather beyond those commonly associated with the trade. Not that I don’t do a lot of editing, but I also create content. That gets printed in books. And published online.

I’ve written about a quarter of a book for teaching my native tongue to people (intermediate level). I’ve created material for an ESL book (very basic level) I’m currently working in a team to create a social studies book from scratch. A previous social studies book also contains material that I wrote. I’m sure there are smaller projects I now forget, and I haven’t even mentioned the digital ones.

So far these contributions have only been acknowledged within the company, but I told my boss it’s about time they put my name on a book. In June of this year it will finally happen. Ha!

If I were a cat, this would be me right now.

Picture by Björn Hermans under a Creative Commons License.

Emptying the nest

Beloved and I share a big passion: throwing stuff out.

It regularly happens that a quick session of “picking up because the cleaner comes tomorrow” ends in a trash bag or two of stuff that we just don’t need anymore.

Throwing stuff out makes me feel all domestic too. It’s one of the things I really look forward about the move to the US – throwing stuff out and then..

..then finding a new, smaller apartment (no garden) and make it look good with as little stuff as possible. It makes me think I should start something that lets me work with more images, get a good idea of what kind of interior “design” decisions would work in American homes.

Hence, me requesting a Pinterest account on their website just now. In return, I may soon delete my G+, since it still has not properly taken off and I have no sense of purpose for it anyway.

Anyway, more on minimalism. I find that it often looks a bit like this or like this.

I feel I can create a minimalist style that a)is not so very angular, b) has vibrant colour and c) can house over a thousand books without becoming cluttered. I may yet become good friends with Ikea ūüôā

Why oh why..

do people get hitched?

An interesting question. It’s been written about before on the Happy Sighs blog. On Happy Accident there is a post that ties in closely to the same question. There are plenty voices of marriage skeptics to be heard as well.

So.. why?

Based on reading, reading and more reading, there are quite a few reasons.

– It’s a way to make a public statement out of your love.
– It’s a way to gain legitimacy from a myriad of people and institutions (regarding the theme of this blog: governments and immigration agencies are not the least of those).
– It’s a tradition that many people find valuable and beautiful.
– It takes a lot of social pressure away for many couples.
– It’s a way to formalize certain agreements within a relationship (as well as to communicate them outward).
– It is a way to gain a certain amount of (social/ governmental) privilege.
– It is a ready-made way to draw upon a set of legal measures that make life easier for couples.
– It is a rite of passage into a life phase that may be attractive to people.
– It has religious significance.

There are probably many more reasons.

I wonder if there is an innate desire to marry. Imagine a world in which marriage did not exist and in which there was no way to formalize any love commitment. Do you think people would, leaving all the social and legal aspects behind, desire a rite leading to a state in which romantic love was symbolized?

I doubt it. But that’s easy for me to say. I never wanted to get married to begin with. With regards to commitment I’ve always preferred the ‘wild horse approach’. I feel much more strongly for a commitment that is chosen again every single day and has no externally enforced negative consequences if it ends.

There are more issues I have with marriage, but they deal with the validity of the institution (and the way in which it is wielded to divide people and keep them apart) more so than with my personal feeling about it. On the most personal level it comes down to me not wanting to get married because I don’t like the way divorce works. The idea of negatively incentivizing the end of a partnership goes against my idea of the very nature of partnership. Which is why, when we did get married, we worked create a situation in which divorce would be a formality because all the agreements where already in place, with the consequences as neutral as possible for both of us.

We got married to get our governments off our backs. To allow us me to go with him to the US for his dreams and ambitions, and to allow him to come back with me if that’s what our future holds. Or for both of us to go to the same places under the same sets of rules if that’s where our idea of a future will take us. And the reason that we wanted to be able to do those things is because we love each other. The marriage is a means to achieve the goal of a (more) hassle-free shared future.

There is an interesting tendency in how some (not all!) people respond to our marriage. Those of pro-marriage mindsets laughingly tell us that the practical reasons we cite for our marriage are excuses, things we tell ourselves so as to not have to be honest about how much we love each other and how much we enjoy having a wedding and being the center of attention.

Some of those with anti-marriage mindsets don’t tell us much, but they imply (less laughingly, I may add) that the practical reasons we cite for getting married are excuses we use as a defense to their questioning, things we tell ourselves to feel better about buying into this outdated, obsolete societal tradition of privilege, inequality and gender stereotypes.

It feels a little lonely. It feels a little 16-year-old-and-misunderstood. It feels like the process of us reaching our conclusion on marriage is not getting the respect it deserves from those people. It’s like people don’t believe we really, actually, truly looked the idea of marriage in the face before we decided: “Well, you know what, we may not agree with it on principle and we may not want to do it for it’s own sake, but if this is what it takes to let our governments allow me stay with you then that’s what I will do.”

Naturalization update

Before and during Beloved’s absence there was a fair bit of corresponding with the Naturalizational Powers that Be.

After finding out who is responsible for organizing the test Beloved needs to take, it was easy to find an application form to fill out. Then the bill came, with some further instructions about summoning Beloved to his exam.Summons, yeah. That’s what you get when dealing with national, bureaucratic organizations. They’re not very understanding of things like business travel (it’s fascinating to see how they insist upon treating immigrants as if they’re unemployed as well as unemployable) or demanding work schedules.

I mounted my keyboard and trotted out an e-mail to this new organization, asking about the policy for rescheduling dates for these kinds of affairs. And I was summarily informed that unless I am willing to become an official case manager, I cannot respond to or arrange anything for my husband. Case manager, eh?

I already jokingly tell the Beloved that I am the family’s secretary, but hadn’t thought I could make it official.¬† Anyway. We’ll pay the bill, see when he gets his summons and hope that it will not be at any point during the honeymoon. I don’t feel like being case manager, even if it’s a joke.

Completely unrelated picture: all of us, at the wedding (two are hiding).
the wedding
Picture by Patrick Moran

Living with someone is hard

I’ve never had a roommate.

It was a very conscious decision to not move out of my parents’ house until I was able to move into a place that I did not have to share. When living at home, I was a hermit. I came out at dinner time because it was expected of me. All other hours of the day I was busy pretending no one was there.

At the ripe old age of twenty-two I left home, moved into a decently-sized but extremely run-down apartment on a busy shopping street. It was fantastic, even when my upstairs neighbour copious vomiting was so clearly audible that I got nauseous myself. And when the hatch to the basement rotted through, forcing everyone who came in to take a massive leap as they stepped in the front door. It was my apartment and I did not share it with anyone.¬†Well, I shared it with cockroaches so big that pest control did not believe me when I first called, but at least I did not share it with humans. Cockroaches are scary-looking critters, but they’re not judgmental. Or very sociable. And I could throw them off the balcony without risking a police investigation.

In other words, I took to living alone like a duck to water.

So, when the time came that Beloved and I started talking futures together, and he mentioned going back to the US. I wasn’t worried about staying with him. I wasn’t worried about moving across the ocean. I worried about living with him.

For the last nine months we’ve shared a house (his). I’ve gotten better at it. I’ve (mostly) stopped feeling like a visitor. I’ve mostly stopped treating him like he’s my guest and expecting that he treats me like I am his. We both threw stuff out. Some of my stuff is here. Some stuff we bought together to make the house¬†accommodate¬†both of us. During his three week work trip, the place felt as much my own as the previous placed I have lived.

Still, I suck at relaxing with another person in the house. Whenever there is someone else around, a part of me always remains focused on them. It wears me out. It makes for regular supplying Beloved with coffee and tea and cuddles, but it’s not very healthy for me. I’m pretty sure a large part of my long-term tiredness relates to this inability of mine.

I better fix it. Have any tips?