Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snow Day!

Today we had a snow day! Matthew and I both got to stay home! The University was closed and the post actually closed down too.

2 weeks ago we had a bigger storm, but it happened over the weekend, so we didn't get to have any days off like so many others (mainly the local school districts. I think since the beginning of 2010 they've had six snow days, and I'm really not kidding about that. And yes, we've had TWO storms, both of which yielded about 4-6 inches).

We feed the birds in our backyard, and they greatly appreciate these services when there is snow. They go through it quickly, mostly due to numbers and the squirrel, Winston.

This is the most snow I've seen here in KY. It has been SO nice to get a dose of the white stuff!

Dutch has never encountered snow before, so we thought it best to let him see it face to face.
He was very eager to check it out.

He was really rather interested in it. He didn't mind it at first.

But about this time he seemed to want to escape it, so Matthew snatched him up.

This is William, our cardinal.

Here is a shot from our front yard, and you can see our little path lights all topped with snow!

This is a side note. Check out those little glowing eye balls in there!

Matthew threw a snowball at the door when Dutch was leaning up on it to look out at him in the snow. Dutch was then intrigued by the snow left on the door. Here are a few weird back lit shots of the beasty attempting to get the snow.

We have really enjoyed our freebie day off. We have stayed in sweat pants and on the couch the ENTIRE day. I did do a bit of homework, but over all, not much! Hope you enjoyed your day, with or without snow!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Week 6.

This is late, but voila!

Last week went mostly as planned I think... it seems like so long ago!

Monday: Tonight we had Croque Monsieur sandwiches and wow! So good! I added a little salad with homemade bistro vinaigrette, and a glass of red wine. YUM! CM's are basically glorified ham and cheese, but sooooo good (combining bread, gruyere cheese, bechamel sauce, and ham can only be a good thing).

Tuesday: OCF! So that means we'll have what they have. I'm bringing a side, and it will probably be something potatoey because that's what we have and I'm trying to avoid the commissary (grocery) until Friday!

Wednesday: Leftover chili from our Super Bowl party since we've got it, and Matthew is working his Staff Duty shift that night so he won't be around to enjoy some other creation. And I have class.

Thursday: Going for the roasted veg penne with sausage again since I have the second half of the sausage I used for the recipe the first time around in the freezer and I have the veggies. I'll probably bust out some bread too.

Friday: I think we may actually finally get mwt his delivery pizza.

Saturday or Sunday: One of these days we're going to do a trip to Nashville for dinner (or something) just to get out, and the other we'll do some kind of roast meat. That business tends to be pricey (both of the above), so that's part of the reason we're keeping the meals cheap this week (plus, why NOT keep them cheap?).

Hope you all have a great week!


Monday, February 01, 2010

Blindess, Seeing, Knowing, Identity.

I am scared of being blind.

Today as I walk outside in the snow from my car to the gym, I squint and try to block out some of the brightness of the snow reflecting the sunlight. I left my sunglasses, which I always wear while driving, in the car so I wouldn’t forget them inside. When I enter the gym, it takes me about three minutes to adjust. Though I know it is normal to adjust, I felt concerned that this might be the beginning of the end of my ability to see.

No one in my family is blind. My mother has glaucoma, but apparently that is fixable, and at sixty (or, almost, in two weeks!), they’ve told her that it will actually make her vision better before it gets worse. But it will get worse. My husband’s grandmother is nearly blind. She can only make out things when she is told what they are, and then her memory fills in the gaps of what was missing from her sight. She is almost ninety and is stubborn enough that it doesn’t seem to bother her unless it benefits her for it to. She has the freedom to turn down any book or avoid any movie she wants. Part of me envies this.

I had perfect vision until some time between October and March of my sixth grade year. I had my vision checked in October and it was fine. By January I was getting headaches from squinting and asking to be moved to the front of the class so I could see the board. My mom didn’t believe me, and still has more guilt than is necessary because she didn’t take me to the eye doctor. In March we finally went and it turned out I needed glasses. From that year on, until last year, my vision has progressively gotten worse.

I blame the steady decline of my vision for my utter hatred of the eye doctor. Often people loathe the dentist, but I happen to love it. I have fantastic teeth, have never had a cavity, and didn’t need braces; all the reasons I would hate the dentist are nonexistent for me. Rather, I hate the eye doctor. I find the puff of air to test the surface pressure of the eye intensely violating. Having a doctor, even one I know, stare at me through a bulky, fakely futuristic contraption and command me to look different directions is awkward. But what I hate more than most things… in fact, more than anything I can think of, is the vision test with the letters.

I hate this test because they make me do it first without any aids—I have to take out my contacts or remove my glasses. This leaves me feeling vulnerable and naked. And then, as if they don’t have my chart right in front of them and are not already aware of the fact that I will not be able to see the smallest line of the smallest line, they ask me to read the damn smallest line. And no, I cannot. So they click to a larger screen. Nope. Larger. Nope. Larger. Nope. And we get to the E that takes up the whole little screen, and I can see it’s hazy outline, and I finally squeeze out “sort of.”

Once the rigmarole of the first few checks are done, then they give me back my seeing aids and I get to do the letters again. And I can usually read one of the smaller lines, but not the smallest, and then they ask me to read the smallest line over and over again. Then they start comparing prescriptions with “is one better, or two? Is two better, or three?” I can’t tell a difference between any of them, and usually feel that they are trying to make me choose one over three and give them the satisfaction, which they’ll never reveal to me, of knowing that one and three are actually the same prescription. Finally, they ask me to read the smallest line of letters again, and this is where I start to feel like crying.

What infuriates me, and thus leads me to feeling flushed and watery-eyed, is the fact that I have read this line several times now and have memorized the six-letter sequence. So what now? Do I say that I know that that is a U when it looks like an O? Do I call is an F when I know it is an F, but if I really think about it, I see a T? Two years ago I committed myself to never “guessing” and trying to really look at the letters. That way, in my na├»ve little world, the doctor would know I wasn’t seeing them correctly (or perhaps I was) and they’d be able to give me the perfect prescription. At my last appointment I stuck to this promise I made myself, and when I said “Um, I think that’s a T?” with a kind of innocent questioning tone as if to say “I know that is not a T but I’m trying to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do here so you won’t screw up my prescription like the last guy did and send me to a headache-ridden year before insurance pays for my next vision appointment.” His response was “come on, you know what that is. It’s an F!”

Well… F you is all I could think. What is the point of even doing it again if you’re not going to listen to me!? Of course I know that it is an F. Yes, we’ve been over it five times. But I don’t see that it is an F, and isn’t that the whole point of this damn place!?

I think I get worked up like this because of the aforementioned reasons, plus some of the other tests. The worst is the one where they leave you in a small, dark room for your eyes to adjust. Then they tell you to lean into yet another machine right out of 1984 and they flash a super bright light, and you feel like your cornea is now scarred as you look at the growing red circle the flash has left in it’s wake. Fantastic. They prod and pull at you, and they stare into your eyes and flash lights and bursts of air in them, and then they don’t even listen to you as you struggle with the philosophical angst of the difference between knowing and seeing.

To end it all they show me the price for the brand of contacts I like, and of course they happen to be the most expensive ones. Oh, and since I’ve worn them before, I don’t get the 100$ rebate, I get the $30 one, which fails to refund me even a tenth of the money I’ll spend on ill-fitting, probably wrongly prescribed, contacts.

So I guess the obvious question is why don’t I get lasik surgery? At least that would eliminate the expense and discomfort of contacts. The idea of waking up and being able to see immediately is appealing. Getting to shower without contacts and not having my glasses fog up, but still being able to see the leg I’m trying to shave, sounds wonderful. I confess that being without need—not requiring glasses or contacts, is scary. The eyes are the window to the soul, sure, but that’s not my concern. I’ll still have my eyes, and I’ll still have my soul. But will I be different? Will the freedom of vision be too much? I don’t remember not having to fumble for my glasses when I wake up in the morning. Will I be me without this?

Probably yes. But then, what if they mess up the lasik, and I end up worse off than I am now? That right there is enough to keep me away. Plus, you have to have the same prescription for at least two years in a row: a feat I have yet to accomplish. I’m thinking about this now for no good reason, but I think I’ll go take out my contacts.

Angry Men.

I have been thinking about men and anger. Angry men. There is a difference there-- an angry man and a man who gets angry are different.

And for the record, I'm not thinking about this because I have any particularly angry men close to me.

This semester I have a full-time schedule at school, but I'm actually only taking one class that I show up for. My other six hours are thesis hours, and I get to work on this at home (which is a huge blessing, and sometimes a curse). The class I am taking is Southern Literature.

The first book we read was William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and we discussed this last week. This was my first foray into Faulkner. I bought The Sound and the Fury years ago, but as with so many of my book-hoarder purchases, I have yet to actually read it. For some reason I was dreading and a bit trepidation about approaching Faulkner unguided. After reader the former, I am sad I haven't started reading Faulkner sooner.

But that is actually not the point of this post. I guess that is really to encourage you, if you haven't read him, to pick up old WF. I think starting with As I Lay Dying is a good idea because it is his self-proclaimed tour de force, and is also one of the two books he won a Pulitzer Prize for (and, oh yeah, a Nobel Peace Prize in Lit). It is also amazingly modern in the sense of the modernist movement, and also quintessentially southern. So anyway...

So in this book there are a slew of maddening characters, one of whom is named Jewel. He is fiercely angry. He has a hard time expressing himself at any point, and even the one thing he loves (his horse), he abuses. This is enclosed in an examination about the power or lack thereof of language, but even if that weren't present, the anger issue seems paramount to Jewel as a character.

My professor mentioned that when she was raising her sons, she read a book on parenting boys. One major thing that the book mentioned is that men turn to anger as an emotion because it is socially acceptable. This means that often we see men express anger in lieu of other emotions-- even happiness, excitement, and love. The point she was making was to help us see Jewel in that light, not singular and simply angry, but that perhaps his anger is a shield or a tool for other emotions.

I think this idea is really interesting. I happen to be married to a man who is not particularly angry, and is, on the whole, very good at expressing himself, even if it takes a bit of prodding from time to to time. I have brothers and a father who do this well too, at times. But I know I remember, particularly in their teen years, my brothers being angry. I remember feeling angry as a teenager too, so maybe that doesn't mean anything, but maybe it does. (and for the record, none of us really had any reason to be angry... we all had our issues, but I especially had nothing to be such a jerk about-- sorry mom!)

I wonder how real this is. I don't have children, and I don't really interact with little boys well enough to know whether anger is an issue at a young age. It seems like, if it is an impulse that grows out of being socially acceptable, it wouldn't exist in younger children unless their fathers are particularly angry. I buy into some of the discussion about gender construction, and I think this might be a place where we can see that in action. Girls can be happy, in love, ecstatic, sad, afraid, etc-- after all, we're overly emotional and uber-sensitive, aren't we? But men... if you express these things as a man-- are you less of a man?

I think we're moving away from this, but I want to know what you think. I honestly haven't read much about this, but I've been mulling over it. I know there is a difference in the way Matthew and I deal with just about everything, and we express emotion in different ways too. Is this because he's limited to socially acceptable ways of dealing with stress (play video games! have a beer! don't you dare cry!) as opposed to the ways I do (cry! cry! eat! eat! bake something! blog about it! cry some more! take a shower! exercise!)?

What do you think?

Still mulling...