23 June 2014

A post (about me) that I didn't think I'd be writing quite so soon...

I'm cheating by putting up a picture of my perfect Daisy MeiMei.
Just to get all your guesses out of the way, I'm not pregnant nor getting divorced nor moving back to the UK (nor anywhere else for that matter).  THE DOGS ARE BOTH FINE. I'm not changing jobs and I haven't gotten published.  What I am about to tell you is a big deal, and the fact that I'm doing it via The Lettuce should indicate my level of cowardice at the thought of disappointing some of my good friends, but I suppose it is what it is.

I am no longer pescetarian (eating no meat save fish).  I have reintroduced meat into my diet for several reasons, and I wanted to share those as well as what has happened since this change occurred. Part of the reason I haven't said much about this has been I was not sure that it could be done...but I seem none the worse for wear, so I thought that it was time to come clean.  I was never what I refer to as an ethical vegetarian/pescetarian.  What I mean by that is that I did not stop eating all meat save fish because of my beliefs about animal rights.  While I do believe that there are huge changes needed in the humane way animals are treated, that did not make the decision for me and did not keep me on this path for almost three years.

I stopped eating meat save fish in June of 2011 because it made me feel bad when I ate it.  That is the long and short of it.  I had been telling myself in posts such as this one that I was not going to eat meat anymore out of some reverence for nature...and I think that was partially true, but something else was going on.  I talked to a friend of mine, Joanne, who had been vegetarian in the past but had gone back to eating meat.  I asked her why she made that decision and she said it was very simple:  "My body wanted meat."

My body made a similar decision about two months ago, so I started upping the amount of meat substitutes that I ate in an attempt to ward off that feeling.  After all, this was the right thing I was doing, wasn't it? The noble and earth conscious thing?  Maybe.  But that didn't help how I felt.  I tried to expand my horizons as far as vegetarian cooking went.  I added more fish to our diet.  But still it was there, the feeling that something wasn't right.

A month ago I made a decision after talking about it with Hubs that I would try eating meat and see what happened.  If it made me sick at worst or left me no better off than I was at best, we would investigate what else could be going on with me.  So I tried it...and nothing happened...nothing bad anyway.  Unlike "real" vegetarians which I think now I will never be, if I'm honest, I had been consuming muscle protein the whole time because I continued to eat fish.  So my body had no trouble with the meat I tried.

Now what am I?  What label do I apply to myself and my diet?  The real truth is that I am me, no more, no less.  There are groups...clubs almost, that you belong to when you're trying to live a more vegetarian life. I never fit in any of them.  Maybe if I had been more sensible about how I ate 20 years ago when I tried this the first time I might still be eating a meat free diet.  But maybe not.  Maybe I'm learning that I am selfish, and what I like to eat and what seems to make me feel the best is my primary concern...instead of the state of the world and animals and farming and all that. I don't feel like a bad person for making my choice...but one has to wonder why I haven't said much about it up until now if there is nothing to feel guilty about in my decision.

I believe that the reason for my silence has been simple:  I have some very good friends that have been very helpful to me as I navigated my own pescetarian path, and one of my greatest character flaws is that worry far too much about disappointing others while dishing out almost pathological neglect on myself.  I don't want them to be disappointed in me when they read this...though I'm sure they know me well enough to have been just waiting for this day to come.  I will never be a "real" vegetarian.  But I'm doing what I feel is best for me, and that's all I can do.

09 April 2014

Of Nanos and Bad Dreams and too much Hazelnut Latte

Yep, I'm at it again.  I can't turn down a NaNoWriMo challenge, hard as I (and the universe this time, apparently) try.  One week before it was due to start (Camp Nano this time), the monitor in my beloved little laptop died.  Thankfully all my manuscripts are on Google Drive and most of my photos and other important things are stored here and there online, but it took us until the following Wednesday to secure a new laptop for me.

Got that done and dusted and started in on what would be a departure for me...a mystery novel.  Suspense!  Corpses!  Police Tape!  I was off and running and did about 500 words at the end of what was really day two.  I was on FIRE.

That fire burned out faster than a charcoal grill with the top up.  By day four I was hating my characters and where I was heading, so I didn't write anything at all on days 5 and 6, hoping that a new idea would magically appear in my mind.  It did not.

But after some soul searching and some time spent with Bryn's paws in my mouth, her claws in my hair, and her face snuggled up to mine, wet beard dripping down my neck (all of you that have met her and said "I've always wanted a wolfhound!" - that was for you)...an idea started brewing, and it was right back in the wheelhouse where I've hung curtains and made myself at home: fantasy.  Werewolves this time, I think.  I say I think because I'm not sure yet...my process (much to the annoyance of EVERYONE else I know that writes) is that the characters have to tell me where they are going and what they are doing.  I start with a general idea of what I want the story to be but if someone gets killed off I'm just as surprised as the characters and the readers! Seriously. I know, it's probably some sort of mental illness.

Along those lines, I had dreams last night that I couldn't keep hold of that would have been fantastic filler for the Nano, but those all devolved into what is a pattern for me...the anxiety dream.  This time the whateveritis that is causing me stress was masquerading as aliens and the thingImustdothatIcan't was rescue my loved ones from being taken.  The only two I managed to save were my sister and my niece, but we ended up with a long time friend of mine, Robby (from Ramblings From the Tide) who was all "It's cool man," in his best impression of The Dude (which I'm not sure is really an impression, sometimes, as much as it is really him?) and these two alien skinjobs (yeah, I watch Battlestar Galactica, so?) who were holding us hostage.

Now I don't mean they were of the Lucy Lawless or Michael Trucco variety skinjob.  No, these are my geeky dreams...they looked more like Breckin Meyer from Clueless.  I think one was actually named Travis, now that I think about it.  Anyway, moving on...

I don't know if we saved the earth from aliens.  My alarm went off just as Robby was whispering his Great Plan to us, whispering because the aliens and my niece Joy had fallen asleep and my sister was threatening us with death if we woke her up.  Why all the anxiety?  Well, that brings me to the third point of my post... hazelnut latte.

I don't really have all that much to say about it other than I've had too much lately, it's caffeinated, and I had to have a third point because I am the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, and niece of United Methodist ministers and that sort of structure wears off.

So now that I've wasted all this time not noveling, it's time to grab my lunch and crack open the other laptop and get that word count up.  Or just play bubble safari.  Who knows.

07 April 2014

Sandy Paws Wrap Up or "I told you I'd blog that!"

Screaming at the beach is gnome-much fun!
Photo Courtesy of K. Lazenby
In its own unique way, Sandy Paws time has come and gone again.  We spend weeks on Facebook and in text messages and emails planning and laughing and looking forward to seeing each other.  We despair that we only see each other once a year.  We arrive, and from that moment on there is hugging and laughing and screaming and cheering and spending money and all the exciting things we've looked forward to for the past 364 days.

And it is gone, it is over, in the blink of tearful eyes.  Even though this year my time at Sandy Paws was infinitely more challenging due to the addition of one big furry puppy who only has manners when she pleases, it was still gone and over too fast, and we were heading back up I-95 to our lives and jobs.  How does that happen?  Why can't the enjoyment last as long as the anticipation?  I find myself now back in those 364 days, waiting for Sandy Paws 2015 when I can see my FTH family again...hopefully with a much better behaved Bryn next year.

Now, on to the part of the weekend that made me put my "I'm Gonna Blog That" face on:

I will admit that in the past I have been one of those greyhound owners that I'm about to talk about...and I will extend my heartfelt apologies to anyone that owns a little dog or a big dog or any other kind of non-greyhound or non-sighthound dog that has come to a greyhound event and gotten the Hairy Eyeball from me.  I found out on this trip just how unpleasant even the most well-meaning people can be when they identify your dog as Other or NotAGreyhound and make a point of either looking at you like you've got four heads or telling you how to manage your dog in the sea of apparently ravenous high prey drive greyhounds ahead.  I mean really...I think if we did a survey of the dogs that attended Sandy Paws this year you would find that a great many of them live...are you ready? WITH OTHER BREEDS or even...gasp...CATS AND OTHER SPECIES.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have known, loved, and lived with some real Cat-Zappers.  I saw a foster dog catch my cat in his front paws in mid-air.  I know the possibilities.  But for crying out loud...the reception that Anne and I got when we entered the conference center with Millie (Boston terrier who lives with a greyhound and a bloodhound and was NOT on a flexi-lead, thankyouverymuch) and Bryn (wild-eyed Irish Wolfhound puppy of a mere 9 months who is still not sure about everyone and everything she meets) was less than welcoming.  Granted, not all of the almost 200 people that attended know me personally and/or know that I have a greyhound as well as the Big Hairy Beastie that came with me to Sandy Paws, but it's a good guess that I do IF I AM THERE.

Here are just a few things to chew on if you happened to be in the vicinity of the traveling circus that is me, Anne, and our Nons at the Jekyll Island conference center over the Sandy Paws weekend.

1. The fact that Bryn pulls me around is not funny, really.  It happens when you have a puppy brain in a 97lb body attached to an owner with the upper body strength of a Keebler Elf (to borrow from Sheldon Cooper).  It is a little embarrassing, to be honest, because I've never owned a dog like her before and am still learning the best way for both of us to be able to walk calmly and pleasantly.

2. My wolfhound is not going to eat your (fill in name of other breed here) as long as I am still attached to her and/or am conscious.  There is no need to glare at me or pull your greyhound around on the other side of you to protect your precious greyhound from Bryn.  In fact, you may be called out on your Death Glare if we happen to see you do it.

3. I understand that not everyone likes big dogs.  But for heaven's sake, y'all...this is a sighthound gathering and the hound in question is not an Italian Greyhound!  I'm assuming that most of the people there have at least a passing familiarity with sighthounds that are at least 50lbs and some much more than that (not always because they are big boys, either, but that's another blog for another day).

4. If I tell you that Bryn needs some space then she needs some space.  It doesn't matter how many whatevers you have raised/bred/raced/whatever in your day, I know my dog better than you do.  End of.  I appreciate all the offers for help over the weekend from everyone (including my friend Brian who asked me to let Bryn come running at him...which I did) and the compliments were fab for her and me.  It's hard to believe she has only been in my life for just under 5 months...feels like 5 years some days.

5. A Boston Terrier on a stationary leash that is being held by her owner is probably owned by someone savvy about the prey drives of greyhounds and other sighthounds and will NOT be putting her dog or anyone else's in a dangerous position, at least not consciously.  A person who brings a small breed into a sighthound event on a flexi lead is a different matter, but that, again, is a blog for another day.

Overall we had so much fun...Bryn slept most of the way home when she wasn't trying to chew on her Auntsie's ears or get in the front with Millie.  My FTH family is more precious to me than I can express and even now, as I sit here typing, the thought of THEM...the thought of US...it brings tears to my eyes at how important we all are to each other.

Metrognomes of the world, unite.  Onward and upward...to Mountain Hounds if not before!  (You can see pictures of Bryn at SP14 on her blog, Our Daily Bryn, beginning with the entry for 26 March.)

20 March 2014

In which I rant, and then make a promise...and hope for some happy.

Jumbled desk, clear head.
This has been spring break week where I work, which means the students are off enjoying sun and fun and whatever else you do when you need some time off from hard work.  I will be doing that very thing NEXT week on Thursday and Friday as I will be at Sandy Paws again...where my heart lives and my friends gather, where I was introduced to my Mei Mei for the first time and where I will present her story, An American Greyhound in Yorkshire, to those who know and love her almost as much as I do.

As a result of the students being away, my workload has been different this week, and I was looking forward to it being time when I could do some professional development because I just don't have the money to go to all the workshops and conferences that I would like to attend.  A lot of my self improvement comes from watching recorded workshops and talks given by the leaders in my field and especially by the Deaf Community members that if nothing else give me a chance to see good, clear, beautiful ASL.  Also, I thought I'd have a chance to catch up on some reading for the classes I caption because, as we should know, you can't caption or interpret what you don't understand...at least not in a way that is beneficial to your students.

Well.  It seems that sort of thing has become Not A Good Use Of My Time and equates to "You're not doing anything important."  Direct quote.  I can shrug that off.  I know that the person who said that doesn't really get what I do...no one that isn't an interpreter or captionist really does, truth be told.  Those of you Lettuce Readers that have ever worked as a staff interpreter anywhere can relate, I'm sure, to the raised eyebrows and suspicious looks you get when you say something needs a team of interpreters or that you've just returned from a difficult interpretation and you need a little down time to get your head back on straight.  I expect that sort of lack of understanding and for the most part have come to accept it as part of working for someone else.

What I don't accept is hearing from multiple co-workers that the same person I mentioned before is discussing with THEM how I'm not doing anything constructive and that I need to be given busy work.  I can't just ignore it, when I've also been told that I can't have my office anywhere other than in the main office because employees can't be trusted to do their work if they can't been seen face to face.  What?

I hope it won't come as a surprise to anyone that reads the Lettuce that the job I'm in now isn't what I want to be doing until I retire.  If for no other reason, I have no plans to retire in the United States.  We are here now because we need to be, but when that need is no longer we will leave and go back to somewhere we both feel more comfortable.  But also there is this tiny little person, this continuous, nagging voice that asks me what I'm doing here when I really want to be a writer.  I love interpreting, I love the Deaf Community and I love the language, but I also love writing and storytelling.  I want to make my living sitting in front of a computer and getting all those stories out of my head and into the hands of others.

A very good friend of mine has taken her first steps toward creating a photography business.  Another friend already owns her own interpreting business.  Why not me?  So here, right now in this blog (because once you write it on the tinter'webs you can't take it back), I'm promising you, the handful that read the Lettuce, that I'm going to do what I have to do starting now to make that dream a reality.  All the reasons why I shouldn't, like I'm waiting for Hubs to get a full time job or I'm waiting to pay down that credit card or I'm waiting to make sure that X, Y, and Z are handled...all those things are killing my happy, and I'm not going to keep doing that.  I'm going to climb out from under the bus I've been thrown under and make a go of this. I've said it here before but not followed through...but this is the year I follow through.  This is the year.  This is my happy, and I think that I deserve it.

Watch this space...

20 February 2014

In which I rant...about money...or the lack thereof...

Right, so last week, as everyone knows, the Southern United States was blanketed with the horror known as Winter Weather. I think at our house we had between 5-6 inches of snow plus a healthy dose of ice on top of that. Everything came to a screeching halt, as it should have done, because down here we get that kind of weather so infrequently it doesn't make financial sense for cities and towns to have the equipment to deal with it.

I will say that again, so that those of you sniggering at us for our panic over what you consider to be a daily event can digest it and move on and stop with the ridiculous comments.  It does not make financial sense for us to have the equipment to deal with snow because we get a large amount so very infrequently.  It has nothing to do with how well or poorly we can drive.  We good? Right.

Well, on those two days as might have been expected, the University where I work was closed. The roads were awful and I was thankful that my employer thought that my life was more important than forcing me to drive the 65 miles round trip to get to work because the buses weren't running.

I was thankful until we got word that the governor is not going to grant us leave with pay for those two days. Oh, sorry, that doesn't make sense, does it? In this state, if state offices are closed it is up to the governor to decide if we are given the time off with pay or if we have to use our accrued leave time (of which I have none, I'm not that sort of employee sadly) OR make up the time by the next pay period.

The last week of January saw the first of the Winter Weather and Clemson was closed for a full day (plus two hours the day prior). The governor "forgave" that time so that we didn't have to make it up or use our leave time. Really I could have made it into work that day, but other parts of the state were not so lucky and so it was a good call on her part to close the state offices and a nice thing that she didn't make us make up that time.

Last week it was IMPOSSIBLE for a great many of us to get into work and it was another good call to not only close state offices but declare a state of emergency. But not forgive the time? Really?

The third option is to take leave without pay. Now I'm sure that the governor and many state employees, even those that work in my office, could miss two days of pay out of one check and not even miss it. Me? Notsomuch. Two days means late bills and cutting out groceries and such. We are not destitute but we are not rich either.

I went to the governor's website to see if there was any statement about the leave time or even a place to lodge a complaint. What I found was a proud statement hailing her as the most fiscally conservative governor that South Carolina has had for a long time.

Nice. It's easy to be fiscally conservative when you have money. But does that also make it easy to send the message that you don't care overmuch about your citizen's lives during weather events...that you don't feel that it is important to reward them for doing the smart thing and staying home by giving them the days off?

Whatever. Here's hoping the next predicted polar vortex won't close the University because those of us down here at the bottom can't afford another day away from work.

03 February 2014

In which the language nerd...and proud American...in me rejoices

This was the clear winner, in my mind, for best Superbowl commercial this year.  I'm distressed, but not surprised, at the vitriolic backlash that it has received on social media and in the press.  Let me tell you why I loved it...and the one fault I found in it...

In spite of what is apparently popular opinion, the United States of America does not have an official language.  I will give you a moment for that to sink in.  English, therefore, is NOT the official language of the United States of America.  In fact, recent statistics show that English is spoken by 80% of the population, not 95% as in the United Kingdom where they DO recognize English as the de facto official language (and make you pass an English Language test to live there).

What makes me so proud of my country is the ability for people to come here from other countries and love this nation as their own while still being able to keep their language and culture of origin fairly intact.  While I know that those outside of the USA may look at that statement and scoff, it is true in some parts of the USA.

There are voices, at times LOUD voices, that disagree and would like for the USA to be a bit more homogeneous...more English speaking...dare I say more white?  But I would like to say to anyone thinking of visiting or relocating to my country that those opinions are not shared by all of us.

The places shown in the commercial last night were clearly chosen due to the fact that in those areas, there are higher concentrations of immigrant populations who speak Spanish, Hindi, Tagalog, and even native languages that were here before the English speaking explorers arrived.  Why shouldn't they be able to express their love for their country in the language of their birth and heritage?  Seriously?  Am I the only one that got the point, that this commercial represents what America is at its very heart?

Be sure to click on the link above to watch the commercial and then watch the interviews with each of the language representatives heard in the commercial.  This speaks to the language nerd in me as well as the interpreter...the meaning is the point, not the language or culture.

The fault I found?  No ASL.  American Sign Language is the fifth most used non-English language in the United States.  And yet, it is left off, again.  My second language and, by association, my adopted culture is often left out...did anyone that was only watching the Superbowl on television see the ASL translation of the national anthem? Three or four signs maybe.  But I'm growing accustomed to that being the norm.  Doesn't mean I think it is right and I hope that it will change.

If you're one of the ones "disgusted" or "outraged" by the Coca-Cola commercial (literally, people are saying those specific words and worse...have a look at Coke's Facebook page and Twitter feed) or you are thinking of boycotting the product, take a moment and look at your own family tree.  I bet you'll find branches that came to this country, eager to live in and experience and love "America the Beautiful" even though they may have had to express that sentiment in a different way.  Was their love for this country any less because they spoke a different language?  No.  Absolutely not.

01 January 2014

Let auld...what was it again?

Here's my quickie recap of the year, now that the ball has dropped and there are fireworks waking up my Daisy Mei Mei...

This was the first year since 2005 that saw me remaining in the US all year. This was the year that Clowny died.  This was the year that Bryn arrived, only just. Throughout this year Daisy remained and remains now, happy and healthy and still the most perfect greyhound girly ever.

I attended three greyhound events and sold my books at all three. I finished three 50k+ word manuscripts at three separate Nanowrimo events. I'm staring down the beginning of my third year at Clemson. In a way, I've settled into my life here.

But at the same time the wanderlust that is such an integral part of who I am screams from that deep and dark place in the back of my mind, next to Algebra and the conjugation of Spanish verbs, urging me to leave what is comfortable and move on to the next adventure.  That part of me is at war with the shy and awkward part that occupies the prime real estate in the forefront and begs me to retreat further, spend more time pounding out useless manuscripts and hold up where I am. Draw the curtains is met with unfurl the sail, and the battle wages on.

I won't make plans for this year.  I will take what comes and hope for trips to the UK, more furry babies to join our family (and maybe a human one?), and upward motion in my career and Simon's.

Happy New Year to all of you. Make it a good one.  As for the Dunnes, we are off to bed.

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

At 742 North, Rock Hill, Fall 2022 So I sat down the other day and looked at my travel calendar for this year. Whew! There is a lot coming u...