Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My newest obsession

A couple of months ago, I mentioned to Darby that I would like to start drinking tea. I thought it would be a nice alternative to soda or coffee, so I could enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up cheaply and guilt-free. For Christmas, Darby got me a variety pack of Starbucks Tazo teas in my stocking, and I LOVE them. I've been drinking tea several times a week since then. One thing I love about tea is that there are so many different varieties, but it's a little overwhelming. So, more experienced tea drinkers out there, which brands/varieties do you like? I prefer citrusy and fruity teas, but I really haven't tried a kind I don't like yet, so I'm open to suggestions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The afterthought compliment

When I was young, I was super jealous of my sister Hannah's red hair. This was not helped any by my experiences when we were out and about together. As my mom tells it, when she would have both of us with her at the store, strangers would come up and fawn all over Hannah, saying, "Oh my goodness. How pretty. Look at her beautiful hair." etc. Then, they would glance over at me and say "Oh and she's pretty, too," before returning all of their attention to Hannah. We laugh about that quite often now.

Well, the afterthought compliment returned to haunt me yesterday. But I was surprised who I was compared to this time. Darby and I have been visiting a new church, and yesterday we sat by an older woman during the service. During the "stand and greet" time, she and Darby talked for a little while. As we were leaving, she and I had this conversation:

Her: Your husband is sooo handsome.
Me: I agree.
Her: You're a lucky woman.
Me: (Awkward laughter.) Yeah.
Her: I mean, you're a pretty girl, but really, he is so handsome. 
Me: (Death glare --- well, I felt like it; I think I played it cool, though.)

I mean, c'mon people! It'd be better not to give a compliment at all! I'm used to old women complimenting my husband; they love him. And, I agree, he is quite handsome. But I'm not used to being made to feel like I snagged someone waaaayyy out of my league. What do you think? Am I letting my childhood insecurities affect me too much now? :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On not looking for a job

Last year, when Darby first started the job-search process, I had a little bit of a breakdown. It was not pretty and I'm ashamed of some of the things I said, but I think my general feeling was justified. I realized for the first time that where we end up, both now and in the future, will pretty much always be determined by Darby's job. This is based on the reality of our situation, not some idea that the man's job is the most important and the wife should tag along. Darby is super-supportive of me and wants me to be successful in whatever I choose. But, facts are facts. He has spent years and a lot of hard work training in a very particular sub-field of engineering. Contrary to popular belief, Ph.D. engineering jobs, especially in specific research areas, are not widely available. ESL teaching jobs, however, are. It does not make sense for us to move somewhere for my job without him having a job. The chances of him being able to find an appropriate job in the same city as my job are much lower than the reverse situation, and, practically, we know he will almost surely make more money than I will, so we definitely need his job to be secure.

I thought that I had understood all of this for years, but it just became real to me a few months ago. I realized that I won't ever have the opportunity to apply for all sorts of jobs in all different places. If a great opportunity opens up for me in another city, it probably won't make sense for us to move so I can take it. I think, for the first time, I started mourning those missed opportunities.

However, now that graduation is becoming more imminent, I'm beginning to see the bright side of my situation. I'm holding off job searching until we have a somewhat more definite idea of where Darby will get a job (or at least have it narrowed down to 2 or 3 places). I don't want to waste energy applying for jobs that I might not even be able to take. And, let's face it, job-hunting sucks, so being able to put it off guilt-free is a nice feeling. I think this is one reason I've been able to feel so unworried about our future; there's literally nothing I can do about it. Darby, on the other hand, feels a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to find a job quickly.

I still sometimes feel sad about my situation. Often, I wish that I had been more concerned about my future career plans and set more goals when I was in undergrad. But, had I done that, I don't think I would have settled on ESL teaching, which I love, so it's difficult to say I would change things.

I definitely don't want to make it seem like I'm sacrificing my dreams or goals for Darby. We've both made sacrifices. He certainly would be looking at jobs in a much broader geographical region were it not for my intense desire to return to Texas. Sometimes the best decision for the two of us is not the best decision for either one of us individually. That makes decisions a little more difficult at times, but it's definitely worth it to go through life side by side with him. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

December Books

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
This story traces the history of a fictional Vermeer painting, beginning in the present day and going back to the painting's origins. Because of the title and subject, I thought this was a companion to Girl with a Pearl Earring, but it is actually a completely different author. The stories of the painting's various owners are intriguing, and it's interesting to see how their lives intersect. I also enjoyed reading about Holland, as I'm not very familiar with its history.

A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter by Rachael Herron
Since I started knitting this year, I couldn't resist when this memoir was offered as the Kindle Daily Deal. It's a sweet, simple book, and the stories about how the knitting community supports one another are heartwarming. It definitely made me depressed about my knitting skills, though; the things she describes knitting are crazy hard!

All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
I don't know how Shreve does it, but every single one of her books is such a page-turner. This one takes place in the early 1900s and explores a man's ill-fated obsession with his secretive wife. It starts out a little slow, but by about 1/3 of the way through, I couldn't put it down.  

Working by Studs Terkel
I've been working on this huge book since September, reading just one or two short sections each night before bed. It's a collection of interviews of people from all different professions --- from a prostitute to a banker to a union leader. The people basically just talk about what they do and how they feel about it, but it's really quite fascinating. This was written in the 1970s; I'd love to see something similar done today. A worthwhile read, even though it's quite a commitment.

I've enjoyed tracking what I read this year. I think I'll keep it up indefinitely. I have a poor memory for book and movie plots, so it's nice to have a reminder I can look back at. And the simple exercise of summarizing a book helps cement it in my mind.

And since I love lists, I thought it'd be fun to do a miniature "best of" list for my 2012 books. You're welcome. :)

Best Memoir
Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans

Best Fiction
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Best Food Book
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of 4 Meals by Michael Pollan

Best Series
"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

Best "Gimmick" Book
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker