Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful, thankful, thankful

I really meant to do an outfit post this week. In fact, I meant to do several, but between work and NaNoWriMo, things have been crazy, mostly in a good way.
But since this is my first non-Thanksgiving-y Thanksgiving (I'm at work right now, if that gives you any indication of how non-Thanksgiving-y I am feeling), I thought I'd say a little something about how thankful I am for a million things. Well, at least five. I won't make y'all read a million things.

First off, I'm grateful for my husband who is amazing and wonderful and hot. I am seriously in love with that man. So, yay for three years together, yay that our second anniversary is coming up, and yay that we're stuck together forevaaaaaaa!

I am thankful for the cuteness of my kittens and my sweet Kiku. Their cuddles and purrs make me unbelievably happy.

I am thankful for the times I've been able to share with family this year, particularly the time my parents took us all on a cruise. Sun, food, family, the Caribbean.... It just doesn't get any better. Also, I'm thankful I'll be seeing them again in less than three weeks!

I am thankful for old friends, particularly those that are in Costa Rica, and who are inviting us to share Thanksgiving with them. Also, the friends whose emails, calls, skype sessions, and facebook messages have gotten me through. Love, love, love y'all.

Finally, I am thankful that I am feeling so much better and that I have amazing readers who have been beyond supportive through what's been a really trying time for me. Included in that, I'm thankful for the wonder of modern medicine and for my faith, which have allowed me to see - almost for the first time - the incredible beauty of the place where I now live.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States and all my fellow expats!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

FFB: Sexuality and harassment

Jeans: J Crew
Tee: Target
Scarf: Target
Belt: thrifted
Jacket: Land's End Canvas (gift from my mom)
Shoes: Steve Madden (ditto)
Bag: thrifted
Earrings: Turkey

So, first off, a million thanks for all the amazing comments on the last post. I've been humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude with the responses I've gotten from people I know in real life and people I've only ever met online. To be honest, I thought this would finally be the post when I got negative comments, but they never came. Everyone has been amazing, and for that, I thank you. I truly have amazing readers and friends.

Second, it's time for another FFB post. I totally forgot to post last month, though I've still the idea for a post kicking around in my head, so I didn't want to forget this time around. This month's topic is sexuality, you know, just to keep things light around here because that's how I roll.

I've been thinking a lot about modesty and harassment these days, partly because I read this article, partly because I work with teenagers, and partly because of the culture in which I live. To be really honest, I can't use the word "modest" to describe my own style. Not that I don't think I dress modestly, because I do and people tell me this a lot. That's fine. What's not fine is the association I have when it comes to that word. When I was about sixteen or so, this guy at our church basically told me that the way I dressed was "causing boys to stumble" which, as a feisty and articulate teenager, pretty much pissed me off, and I let him know that. I mean, my parents were still buying my clothes (and vetoing a lot of my sartorial choices) and they didn't have a problem with it. Besides, were the guys then not at all responsible for the way they reacted? Oh, and by the way, what was I supposed to do when I was wearing men's jeans and girl's tee shirts and STILL getting inappropriate comments from the boys at school? Because as far as I could tell, causing someone to stumble was not an exclusively female trait.

And I know, I should probably not be holding on to instances like this one (because, yes, there were instances. Plural.) and letting them color the way I view the word "modesty", because it's a perfectly innocuous word. It's fine. It's even good in some ways. It's just that in my brain, it's so inextricably linked to these types of experiences and power differentials that I just can't. And to say that it's this kind of thing that will suddenly throw up walls of protection around every woman in the world is just wrong. Because that doesn't work, and I know this. I live in a culture where men are expected to show their manliness by making comments about the women in their presence, especially the women they don't know. I can't walk to work without getting a look (you know the kind), a comment, a whistle, or a honk. I just give my best side eye and carry on. But you know what? It's infuriating and dehumanizing sometimes, and I hate it. And I'm covered up!

I'm almost thirty. I've found ways to fight it, both publicly and privately, but when I think of my students? It just breaks my heart because we keep telling them that if they'd just cover up a little bit more, they'd avoid it. But it doesn't work like that. I cover up because I'm more comfortable that way, because I get cold easily, because it's more practical for my job, but not because it's going to magically keep people from making all kinds of unsolicited comments and / or assumptions about me and my body. I've lived through too much to think it works that way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A story

Top: Kohl's
Skirt: Target
Belt: Ann Taylor
Booties: Aldo
Scarf: gift from my mom
Earrings: Kohl's
Adorable kitteh: Elefante

So, yeah, this outfit is basically the flip of this one here. I'm fine with that because I can't even tell you how happy the combination of green and leopard makes me. If it works, it works, and I'm cool with that.

Y'all, since we moved to Costa Rica, things were hard. Like, really hard. The work hours are long, there's little distinction between my personal life and my work life, and we're poor. The rains get to me, especially because the rainy season lasts about eight months here. I wasn't sleeping well - I'd wake up from a nightmare and I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. The nightmares were nearly every night for about nine months. Nine. Months.

And then there were the headaches. They'd start in my shoulders, move up into my neck, attack my jaw, and settle behind my eyes. Sometimes they were so strong that I'd feel nauseated. To make things worse, they'd last for two weeks at a time. And this, too, went on for nine months.

I didn't want to eat, I cried all the time, I imagined that Kiku or the cats had been hit by a car, I had no energy to do anything besides my actual teaching. And it sucked. It really, really sucked. I felt like I didn't even know myself, and I hated what I was putting B through, because, seriously? This was not what he signed up for, this weepy, sickly, emotional mess of a woman. Even if he was beyond supportive and stuck with me and told me it was okay and I could cry to him whenever I needed, and he LISTENED! Even then, I felt awful.

So we went to the doctor and told him everything that was going on. It didn't surprise me, not at all, but it did make me feel validated somehow. I'd thought I was going crazy, becoming someone else, and his diagnosis made me feel like it'd be okay. It's depression. Big surprise, right? So now I'm on Paxil and I've been on it for about a month and I feel like myself again. And I haven't wanted to talk too much about it because of the stigma, but really? I'm talking about it because of the stigma. Because I've been around a lot of Christian circles where if you just trust Jesus it's alright, and I was trusting and things weren't okay. Because mental illness sometimes - often - has additional physical consequences. Because I know I'm not the only one who's gone through this and has been too afraid to see a doctor about it.

So this is my story, and even though I don't like sharing a lot of these personal things with the internet, I think it's important. And y'all, I feel so much better now.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sew Fun

Top: Self made
Belt: thrifted
Skirt: Gap
Booties: Aldo
Earrings: gift from my sister-in-law

You guys. I made this shirt. Sure, I got some help on the hems and the finishing, but I brought in a little sketch and a ton of this slippery fabric to my sewing instructor and she taught me how to draft the pattern and we made this shirt. A.May.Zing.

I might be obsessed with the way it frames my tattoo perfectly and the shade of turquoise that makes me look extra tan. B's a fan of it when it's tucked in, otherwise he says it's too baggy, but, hello, that's kind of the point. It's supposed to be baggy and loose.

You guys, I feel like I'm living the dream. I wanted to learn to sew when I was a kid, but my parents don't know how and my grandmothers live really far away, so I never learned. My home ec class in 7th grade was kind of a disaster because I broke so many needles and basically messed up every project I did. It was sad and disappointing.

Now, though? Now I can manage simple straight seams and even some curves, and yeah, sometimes I have to rip the seams out, but you guys, I'm sewing! I'm inordinately proud of myself, for real. And it's been really fun to be able to transform a pile of fabric into something functional for my everyday life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friend Friday: Books

Cardigan: J Crew
Tank: Target
Skirt: J Crew
Tights: Simply Vera via Kohl's
Booties: Aldo
Belt: Banana Republic
Earrings: Target

It's Friend Friday and I'm remembering to post, which means it's a big day. And it's November, which means I've spent the last four days writing frantically, just like I did last year. Real talk, I finally finished my first draft of last year's novel on the 31st of October. Mm hm. We'll see how this year's goes....

Anyway, this week's topic is books. I'm thinking I'll probably do a mix of what I've just read and some of my favorites. So, five books in no particular order:
1. On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voigt - I read this about once a year and I love it. It's about an innkeeper's daughter who follows a young earl to the end of the earth. Except, you know, it's better than I make it sound.
2. Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead by Nick Drake - I just read this while on our mini vacation. A mystery set in ancient Egypt? Yes, please.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - This another of my all time favorites and it's a classic. I don't even know why I love it so much, I just do.
4. Edge of Grace by Christa Allan - This is one I read fairly recently, and, wow. A book that deals with deep faith and the things that can tear a family apart? Yeah, amazing.
5. Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes - I'm about half way through this, and it's pure fluff. But I read a lot of fluff, especially if it's free on Kindle (hello, I'm poor) and that's fine.

Any recommendations?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Green and leopard

Turtleneck: Express
Cardigan: Apt. 9 via Kohl's
Skirt: Self made
Tights: Simply Vera via Kohl's
Booties: Aldo
Earrings: gift from my sister-in-law
Belt: came with a blazer

Well, I'm back in the mountains after four blissful days on the Pacific coast. And I'm back to work, though our post-exam schedule will be considerably easier for me. Of course, I'm trying to figure out what to do with all this spare time I have now. Any hobbies I should take up? You know, besides my pinterest obsession.

I built this outfit around the cold weather and the fact that I have laryngitis. And yes, I have taught with (mild) laryngitis. All it takes is an interactive lesson plan and some decent classroom management. And telling your students you're sick. They're always nicer when you tell them.

This really fit the bill for keeping me warm and had the added bonus of being comfortable and comprised of my favorite color (green) and my favorite print (leopard). Add my favorite booties and some funky fishnets, and I'm all set.