Friday, September 26, 2008


So. Now I know. For certain. I kept trying to tell myself that I was imagining the critter sounds in my attic. Two people looked up there, and I looked up there--no sign of anything.

And then tonight, I hear scratching again. This time, though, not in my attic. This time it was in the ceiling of my living room, which is vaulted (i.e., there is no attic space). At first I thought, SCORE! This proves that the sounds I hear are critters on my roof, not in my attic. Awesome! So I confidently took my big flashlight and went to my deck to gaze upon the bastards running around on my roof. But alas, there was nothing. So then I optimistically thought that it was just that I scared them off. So I went back inside to verify, only to hear more scratching sounds. I gave it one more go, looking on the roof...but there was nothing.

So, what that means is that I definitely have something living in my walls/ceiling. On the upside, now I know I'm not crazy. On the downside, I have something living in my walls/ceiling. I think the downside trumps the upside.

I have no idea what to do next. Two people have looked around and found access point possibilities. There is also the fact that I share attic space with the neighbors, whom I don't know. Do I go ask them if they're hearing things? Will they think I'm crazy, filthy? If the pest control people come, and the access point is on their side, will they pay for it to be fixed? What the crap am I supposed to do???

I hate owning a home. I hate it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Favorite Debate Partner

I try hard not to be materialistic. I really do. It's just that I kind of suck at it. I like stuff. And I like buying stuff. And I like having stuff. And I like having NICE stuff. And I like having LOTS of NICE stuff.

The problem is that my life has not been very conducive to having stuff thus far. I've pretty much always lived on a student budget, and I was pretty much used to it. This summer has been the tightest of my relatively short life--I went three months without a paycheck and had my first two mortgage payments to pay. As a result I have been living pretty sparsely. I've felt guilty for spending $40 on a headboard for my bed, felt guilty for buying name-brand food instead of generic--that kind of thing.

Now, though, my first paycheck is imminent. Soon I will have money. Like....real money. Sure a lot will be eaten by my mortgage, student loans, winter heating bills and so forth. But I'll have money. Like...real money. So. Does that make it bad that I am already spending it?? Is it bad that I can't wait till Oct. to buy stuff?

Yeah. But I'm doing it anyway, and finding lots of creative ways to justify it to myself. I'm smart...I like arguing, even with myself. The best part of arguing with me is that I always win.

It started on Monday when I convinced myself to buy a really cute little accent chair for my living room. I wanted two chairs in there, and I had bought one at Ikea this summer. So now I have two, and the new one was not much more money than the Ikea one (but cooler).

That is fine and good, but now I have decided that the Ikea chair looks really bad next to the new, pretty one. The new one is antique-looking, the Ikea one modern and sleek. So I am in the process of convincing me to buy another accent chair and moving the Ikea one downstairs. I have been thinking about getting a chair for down there in case I want to watch TV down there--or if a guest staying down there wants to watch TV. That has been my main selling point for me, namely that I'm doing it for the convenience and comfort of my guests! It's not about me at all. No! Of course not!

I'm also thinking of telling myself that I'm doing it to keep the economy going. If I can convince me to watch/read the news, I'm pretty sure I can win me over that way, too.

It's like a double-assault on my own reasoning.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hearts and Giggles

My mom and her younger sister, Sue, were here this week. We had fun seeing La Crosse, eating, and playing cards. They agreed to teach me how to play Hearts (the card came), and that hour or so of playing demonstrated something that I rarely think about.

My mom and Sue were little girls together. I mean, duh, right? Of course they were. But because I have known them as adults my entire life, it is so easy to forget that they lived together in a house with their parents--and they were little girls. And they played together. And they fought together. They weren't always Mom and my cousins' mom.

At one point during the game, Mom passed three terrible cards to Sue--as it happened, the same exact terrible cards that Sue had passed to her the previous round. Mom passed them over, face down, with a neutral face. No big whoop. As soon as Sue turned them over, she made a groan and started to laugh as she realized what Mom had done. And that is when my mom laughed harder than I have seen her laugh in I don't know how long. I mean, she Laughed. And she couldn't stop. It made me so happy to see it--I love to watch her laugh, partly because it's not easy to get a full belly laugh out of her.

And that was the moment I fully realized it. That laugh has a history. It is the laugh of a little girl who pulled a trick on her even littler sister. For more than 50 years, that laugh has been there. It went with them to the lake each summer and to their grandparents' farm.

Mom has known Sue longer than she has known me, my brother, and even my dad. They go back. In my vanity, and the vanity of the younger generation more broadly I guess, I rather casually blow off the first 20-odd years of my mom's life as being insignificant--a bit of trivia, a few stories, that kind of thing. But to her, those memories and relationships are as vivid and important as my memories growing up with my parents and brother.

It's particularly odd of me, given my research is so focused on the importance of family history. But it's easier to see the generational connection amongst other people's families, maybe. My mom, though---she's just my mom. The person who exists so that I could exist.

So I had a reminder this week that I need to change my perspective when I look at my mom and her sisters. I hope it's not something I'll forget in my self-interested focus.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One negative comment...

can ruin a day. I don't know why four compliments can be so easily erased by one criticism. Maybe it was because of the way it was worded. This morning, a student with a very obvious chip on his shoulder asked for a clarification from me by telling me I explained an activity badly and he and his friends didn't know what was going on. I instantly assumed it was because I was crap and a horrible teacher and hopeless. It only occurred to me later that maybe this kid is just a shit with an attitude problem who sits in the back of the room and barely pays attention on a good day. And that maybe I had a right to check him on his disrespectful attitude, even if he had been right about my bad explanation. Another kid had asked for a clarification, so I probably should have explained better--I know I'm not perfect and that sometimes I ramble. However, the first student who asked merely said, "Can you explain it again so I'm sure I understand what you want?" That's the polite way to ask for help. His comment made me realize I should have explained better, but it did not disrespect me as a person. Not to mention that most of the groups seemed to have no problem completing the assignment as asked (in both sections of the course).

I could go on a rant about the entitlement that so many kids exhibit today, but the reality is that most of the students I've talked to here have been far from that. They are really great young adults, actually. Maybe that's another reason this kid today made such a negative impression. It doesn't match what I expect from them.

So, despite the inroads I've made in self-confidence the past year, I still find myself vulnerable to those moments of self-despair. I wish I could change that faster.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 anti-drug

There is nothing quite like getting a bargain. I decided to go to Goodwill tonight to see if I could get some plates to take to work (so I don't destroy trees by using paper plates--golly, I'm a good person, aren't I?). So I found some with yellow tags, which meant 50% off. $1.50 for two plates. Booyah.

And being me, and being Goodwill, I decided to meander over to the clothes section. Sometimes Goodwill is filled with nothing but crap. Other times, though...other times it's stocked full of the most perfect crap in the perfect (chubby ass) size. Despite the fact that I have no real money right now, I decided I'd take a gamble on today being a chubby ass gold mine kind of day. Lo and behold--chubby ass clothes aplenty, and all with yellow tags!!

So I got a skirt, a sweater, and a jacket, plus my plates for $11. This was just after my last mall-clearance-rack stockpile two weeks ago when I got two pairs of pants and two skirts for $14. I'm a freaking sale genius!!

So, I guess you can say I'm pretty smug. Only I'm the kind of smug that we Huismans are proud of: smug about our ability to stretch a dollar. Oh, yeah.

I'm not a junkie, because Goodwill is my anti-drug.

P.S. Just to further clarify the depths of my cheapness...they had a really cute sweater there that looked really good on me. But I didn't buy it because it didn't have a yellow tag and was a whole (gasp) $5! The outrageous prices people ask for things these days!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Follow up, and why I love Jon Stewart

If only the media would actually call these people on their B.S. Instead, they leave that kind of investigative and insightful work to comedians. Shortly after writing my blog entry last night, I watched this on the Daily Show:

They call liberals hypocrites (and they are), but it really does take one to know one, I guess.

I promised myself I would not make this into a political blog, and here I've posted three already. I wouldn't do it if there weren't so much infuriating crap to think about lately. We're all screwed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Smoke Screens

The media are incompetent, ridiculous, scandal-obsessed jackasses. However, they are not being overly sexist to Palin. Honest to holy crap, if I hear too much more about sexism against Palin, I'm going to implode. I have been inhaling media coverage of this whole thing, and all I have heard is questions pertaining to her qualification as VP. That is not sexism--that is asking questions pertaining to her qualification as VP. The fact that she is a woman does not mean she cannot be evaluated thoroughly, especially given that so very little is known about her. And this comes from a pretty strident feminist who sees sexism in lots of places most people don't...

A few ridiculous liberal bloggers are making minced meat of Palin's daughter's situation. That's annoying and inappropriate. While I do find it a little bit ironic that the anti-birth-control, abstinence-only advocate (Palin) is dealing with a pregnant teenager, I don't find that to be particularly relevant to her potential VP-ship. I do find it to be entirely relevant to the larger issue of the failure of social conservatism to live in what I like to call "reality." I wish the daughter all the best, but I also wish it would teach her mother that comprehensive sex-ed and access to birth control may have prevented her daughter from having to grow up sooner than they imagined (as she said). Telling hormone-addled teenagers to ignore their addling hormones is a bit unrealistic, and has been since long before several sets of my great-grandparents "had" to get married in the early 1900s.

Lastly, what of social conservatives' view that women should stay home to take care of their children? I hear regularly that putting children in childcare so Mom can work is a bad idea, and women who do it are selfish. And now Palin's career is about to completely overtake her life, leaving her family to fend for itself...and suddenly this is a good thing? I am all for women working or staying home according to their choice, but...really? No one in the social conservative movement seems to remember all that baloney now that they have a fellow social conservative in the running for VP? I guess it's kinda like the famous conservative Phyllis Schlafly and her ilk leaving their families behind to advocate women not leaving their families to go to work. What's good for the gander is only good for some of the geese, I guess.