a little bit more about me

My name is Beth and I accidentally have found myself living in Arizona but I'm originally from Tennessee. My education is in history and anthropology, which means that I know a little about a lot of things and can hold my own at a cocktail party in mixed company. I work in museums, doing all sorts of things ranging from researching and writing exhibits to cataloguing absolute wickety wak. I love comedy, baking, photography, my daughter, dogs, and above all else, napping.*

* 2013 edit: Oh yeah, and my new son too.

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    Saturday
    Jan022016

    A Bad Dream

    "Mommy, did you have a bad dream?"

    I don't really know how to answer since she's only 4, and my crying woke her up. To her, a bad dream is the only explanation. So I tell her yes, and it's just a dream and to go back to sleep. What's funny, like funny in the odd sense and not the ha-ha sense, is that in a way, she's exactly right. I am struggling with my dreams. As in how to make them happen. 

    I always struggle at New Years. For some reason I find myself standing at the starting line for each new year wondering why even when given another year, all the things I was unable to make happen, rather than looking fondly over the memories that were made. It is just in my genetic makeup that every January 1, I am staring down another year not with hope and optimism but with resignation at thinking that this shiny brand new year is also equally unlikely to end with me having come any closer to fulfilling my lifelong dreams of wanderlust and travel, food and writing, leaving my cubicle life behind for good. 

    As my oldest gets older, I find it harder and harder to quiet my growing cynicism that maybe it's really a lie, that maybe we can't do anything we dream. Ever since I was tiny, I dreamt of how I would go places, see things, experience ways of life in far flung places. And yet, I haven't. I've never had the money. In fact, it remains a complete mystery to me how anyone ever does find the money or the time off, and my current financial situation certainly makes those dreams an ever more distant memory by the day. I want so badly to champion the notion that my children will be able to do anything their hearts desire, and wish I could lead by example. But today I stare at our monthly bills and see nothing that can be cut, nothing that can make room for travel, or even more humbly, for time off for us to just be, to find our footing, to at least plan for a life and future that are lived by choice rather than financial necessity and make space for travel...someday. So to lead by example, to call in a resignation from my job is also to demonstrate an irresponsible choice, to choose myself at the expense of the immediate and long-term needs of my family. 

    I spent the morning collecting and analyzing our bills and recent purchases in an attempt to see what can be trimmed to make room for saving. I didn't come up with anything. We are barely scraping by as it is. Examining our families' choices provides no useful data to help make an informed decision. At one end of the spectrum, dreams for retirement so long gone that I honestly have no idea what they ever could have been. No matter, whatever they once were, they were first derailed by paying for their children's colleges and since then, obscured to the point of having been overwritten by the enormous but inescapable costs of health problems associated with aging. In other words, the takeaway message there appears to be: once you have children, surrender your own hopes & dreams as the practical needs will always prevail. I'm not convinced you can't make room for both, but the only other familial model available to us appears to be: don't help your kids with college to make room for your own goals while you stand by watching your kids struggle for long after college thanks to the enormous burden of student loans. Again I think there has to be some middle ground here. I want to show my kids that we (their parents) matter too but you have to balance your goals against the needs of the family and I have no idea how to do that. Mostly I came away from the family conversations about money realizing that it's a flawed exercise to try to follow in the footsteps of your elders. Their choices and decisions were made in different eras, surrounded by different economic conditions, and influenced by their own expectations and experiences. You really are on your own with this stuff. 

    So I have no plans yet. No solutions. Can we afford to consider a bigger house or cutting back on my work this year in the interest of my sanity, and which of those to choose anyway since those two are at odds? Or do we double down on our efforts to live frugally because we're committed to playing the long game? And are those our only choices anyway? For today I'm going back to sleep and dreaming that tomorrow or the next day, we will figure out how to get to a plan that lets us have it all- our own goals and dreams matter but so do those of our kids. 

    Tuesday
    Jun302015

    Still blaming mommy brain 

    Do I get to still blame mommy brain for the following, even though my youngest is about to turn 2? Here is my morning:

    1. Ahhh. It’s amazing I have free time. I am SO organized and can just sit here and enjoy my coffee.
    2. Oh. Right. I haven’t made the kids’ lunches yet. Or mine.
    3. Ah. Wow. Even after throwing together lunches, I’m still doing fine on time! And I did the dishes!
    4. Dawdler Toddler, sit down at the table to eat or you will OMG YOU ARE DRIPPING SMOOTHIE ALL OVER EVERYTHING. Let’s go change you!
    5. Got him changed after a 10 minute wrestling battle. Whew! I’ve got to clean the table, too.
    6. Okay, let’s go to the truck. Still doing uh, okay, I guess on time.
    7. Why are you crying? You need a blanket? Fine. Sigh.
    8. Oh, it’s good Preschooler asked for a blanket, forcing me to return to the house so I could discover I was about to drive off WITH THE FRONT DOOR OF THE HOUSE WIDE OPEN.
    9. Okay, good. Blankets & cuddlies & lunches all packed & loaded in the truck, let’s GO.
    10. Oh. I need gas.
    11. Finally. At school. Should only take 20 minutes to walk both of them in since they’re soooooooo slow.
    12. Ah. I finally get to go to work.
    13. OMG. I never got myself dressed. I’m still in sweats. Back home.
    14. Oh! Good thing I came back. There’s my coffee I never got to drink. That might help.

    I hope.

    Tuesday
    Feb172015

    Monkey of the day

    I am rendered speechless.

    Tuesday
    Dec022014

    Getting slapped around by irony

    Another academic jobs cycle has all but come to a close. After submitting to all available openings in his field, My Better Half scored exactly zero interviews - so far, anyway. We haven't extinguished all hope just yet because some places are still reviewing applications, but let's face it, chances are not good. So we were looking for silver linings yesterday while My Better Half was sorting through the mail. I said "At least we're not going to be moving to North Dakota?" as he unfolded a newspaper clipping that his dad had sent in the mail.

    This article, in fact:

     

    Oh the irony!

    PS - I don't care, I'm *still* not moving to North Dakota. I'm sure it's lovely and all, but it is not for me.

    Tuesday
    Nov252014

    Today's monkey of the day

    This series of portraits is SO awesome. What's that got to do with monkeys, you ask? Why, it's portraits *of* monkeys of course!