Let they who cried raise their hands

*raises hand*

Happy tears. So many happy tears.

Why, you might ask? Well, the fiance is now the husband. My husband, to be exact. There are many like him, but this sharply-dressed, ever-surprising, and very loving man is mine.

I was going to go over the day in a little more detail, but I think a list of my favorite moments is better.

First, three of our close (and mutual) friends helped us get our reception area set up, and the gentlemen did so wearing their formal wear! (Our female friend was sensible and brought her dress to change into.) One friend, who I will refer to as the True Scotsman for his Scottish formal wear (yes, including a kilt!), masterminded putting our initials in lights on the stage. He also drove the other two to Safeway for Chinese food (“Chickadoodle, what do you want?” “…An eggroll?”) and some salad for lunch.

In return, I braided the True Scotsman’s hair. Well, actually, I do that anyway. Everytime. (“True Scotsman, where’s your hair tie? I’m braiding your hair.” *hands it over*)

The True Scotsman and our other two friends (Mr. Fancypants and Ms. Marvel-ous for this post) also got in on some of our pictures, including a few Sopranos-esque pictures in our dimly lit waiting studio. (Our photographers were fabulous, by the way, and every once in a while, we got “LIKE YOU LIKE EACH OTHER, GUYS!” during our photos.)

The ceremony is a favorite chunk of moments. From the walking in, to everyone expressing their support, to my now sister-in-law doing the reading, to the saying of the vows (“I think you just made everyone cry” –our officiant), to the kiss… it was wonderful. Seeing so many happy faces as we walked in and out made my day. Friends and family had come from miles away–some across the country, some I hadn’t seen in years–and it was like we’d never been apart.

In the quiet time we stole after signing our certificate, some appetizers were brought in for us, and the husband applied bandages to some blisters I’d gotten at the rehearsal dinner. (Normally, I’d have done it myself, but 15 pounds/several yards of very puffy dress and petticoats did make that a little more difficult.)

I tried to talk to everyone before dinner. I didn’t get to, but there were plenty of precious moments then, too, including a male friend (Very Tall Guy) expressing his desire to have my dress. (Not entirely sure he was kidding…) Another friend (Exuberance Personified) proceeded to rather lovingly hug-strangle the husband while proclaiming his happiness. I got to reconnect with the friends I hadn’t seen in so long. There were family pictures. I got to see two lovely young ladies who I’d watched when we were all younger, as well as their parents, who are amazing and wonderful people in their own right. A cousin’s toddler daughter was fascinated by my dress.

Dinner kind of flew by, though we did get to eat, which was, y’know, good. Unfortunately, my headache had resurfaced by that point, but about ten different people offered medicine of various kinds, and my oldest brother and a family friend double-teamed me with a shoulder and scalp massage, and my mom took my hair out of its pins. (Thankfully, we’d done all the “official” stuff by that point.) Before that, a friend (Blue-Haired Beauty) exclaimed from her table about writing on so many of the little strips left to give advice to us, “Guys, I think I have a problem…”. My dad and Ms. Marvel-ous gave rousing speeches, and I cried. Again.

We had our first dance and cut the cake (which was amazing, let me tell you). Then, the party really got into full swing. By some miracle of luck and a bit of collaboration, after we figured out that dancing on the stage wasn’t great (there were no speakers on the stage, and it was HOT), we were able to pull the tables on the ground aside to create a dance floor, and a lot of great dancing happened. My dad, as expected, totally got into it. Some friends danced with my cousins’ kids, which was adorable. Very Tall Guy and Ms. Marvel-ous pulled off a show-stopping and un-rehearsed “Shut Up and Dance” routine. A bunch of people joined us for the Cupid Shuffle. (And our amazing informal MC/DJ did a great job of rearranging our playlist to make it work. Can’t thank that guy enough…)

For as much fun as we were having, though, we were exhausted (I woke up at 5:30 that morning… and never managed to get back to sleep!), and when the towncar showed up 45 minutes early, the husband and I decided that everyone could enjoy the rest of the party, but we needed corgi pictures and sleep, and I needed a while to brush my hair out and get the pound or so of (quite gorgeous) makeup off my face.

Naturally, we didn’t make our escape unscathed–there were many noisemakers. The loving chorus of dying goose noises filled the night as we sped away, blissfully gazing into each other’s eyes.

And now, we’re honeymooning in Victoria. (This time, we remembered not to bring apples across the border…) It’s been one hell of a journey, but, sitting next to the husband–my husband–I know it’s going to be one heaven of a marriage.

I’m open, but I’m not THAT open…

Thrice this past week, I’ve been asked how soon I plan to get pregnant after I get married. (Yup, how soon plan. Me. The fiancé gets no say, apparently.)

One, I’ll admit I kinda walked into. Cooing over photos of my cousin’s children and then admitting a craving for tuna (which I haven’t had in forever) does kind of create a natural segue. It really was a “Wow, you really like kids! Are you planning on being a mom soon?” sort of thing. Okay. I can handle that. (My no was followed by the second question of if I already was pregnant. Pro-tip: DON’T FREAKING DO THIS. Not okay.)

The other happened as I was cooing over other photos. I quote, “Oh, I see where this is going: that’s why you’re getting married!”

Look, I get that it’s teasing. I’m not looking to play the victim or cry injustice here. But the implication that kids will take (or worse, already have taken) precedence over other qualities in a spouse really rankles.

Yes, I unapologetically go to mush over babies, and I like working with kids. I’ve always known that I want to be a mom someday. Honestly, I think the fiancé will make a great dad when we’re (yes, “we”! The fiancé gets a say!) good and ready. But I’m not just biding my time by programming–it’s a passion and I want to keep doing it, even after kids, and I don’t love the fiancé just because he could be (as a friend rather aptly put it) a “baby-enabler”. He is so much more than that. He is my partner in crime, my sounding board; he understands and accepts me. He’s a good cook, has an infectious smile and laugh, and plays a mean game of Scrabble. He gives the best hugs and, being far more aesthetically inclined than I, occasionally helps me pick out what to wear. We first bonded over composting and origami, and only later found out that we were compatible in terms of life and family goals, and while kids are a pretty important part of compatibility (you can’t really have half a kid, or only the good parts of a kid), again, I’m marrying him for everything else, too, and quite possibly everything else, first.

Also again, I get that it’s good-natured teasing. I really do. I’m not about to report either coworker for harassment or anything–in this case, it would be counter-productive. However, I have resolved to speak up next time. Not harshly or anything; just “Hey, I don’t appreciate the implication/you asking me about something this personal”. I know they’re good guys and will take it just fine. We all make mistakes. This is just a reminder to me that some have a deeper effect than they seem.

Chickadoodle’s Life is Average

The boyfriend recently went in for a patch test. The whys and wherefores are a long story, and not a particularly pleasant one at that, so I’ll skip that bit.

If you’ve never had one, patch tests aren’t pleasant things in and of themselves. You get large strips with various patches of common allergens (not food allergens, by and large, because this is more of a contact-allergy thing) stuck on your back. For two days, you can’t shower—sponge bathing is allowed, though—twist your torso, or even really bend over or backward all that much. It’s a good way to practice your posture. And end up with sore shoulders. All of this and more, the boyfriend bore with much fortitude. He’s cool like that.

But the fun doesn’t stop there; no sir! For another 5 days after the patches are removed, you need to make sure the outlines of the patches stay well-drawn, and you need to monitor your back for any changes. As we kinda only live together, the task fell to me. I accepted it with much dignity, probably rather more than it was due, but it was kind of fun to have something to take so seriously.

Now, something else one is not supposed to do is get very sweaty, especially while the patches are applied, but this holds true somewhat even after the patches are removed. Sweat has a funny way of eating through permanent marker and ruining adhesive and carrying allergens around on skin. Being that it’s been rather warmer than we’re used to lately, and our apartment very much lacks for air conditioning, this one’s been a little tricky.

The first night, after a day when it hit roughly 10 degrees above the norm (I admit it, I’m a wimp. Temperature hits about 80, and I just want to shut down.), it was the first time to see what sort of damage had been done. The boyfriend readied himself, and a lesser girlfriend might have been overcome with passion by the loveliness that is the boyfriend’s torso, but I would not be so easily swayed. (Okay, I may have looked longer than strictly necessary. But are you really going to tell me I’m not allowed?) First things first: make back less sweaty. Thankfully, I do have a fan.

After cooling him down for a few minutes, I re-drew the markings to indicate where the tests had been, careful to stay as on the lines as possible. The fact that he (unfortunately) seems to be reacting to a few things was helpful. He asked me to take pictures (my pleasure, really!), and to diagram the spots so that we both knew where things might be reacting. While there is really only one orientation to the diagram that makes sense, I am known for a bit of a wicked sense of humor, and labeled down with “your arse” juuuuust to be sure.

It’s a few days in, and so far, things look okay. No nasty, oozing, itching, burning reactions yet, which is a pretty good sign, I’d say. Though it does leave me to wonder what caused this in the first place…

Well, we shall see in another few days. If nothing else, this is one of those moments in a relationship—whether it’s a romantic one or not—that you realize just how accustomed you are to having that person around and how relaxed you are around them.

In other news, I’m finally not breaking stuff at work! Well, at least, it’s not totally my fault… It took my mentor and 2 other SDEs (and a lot of laughing) to figure out where I was going wrong. At one point, my mentor saw the issue and said, “Why did you put that? It’s supposed to be this!”

I came back with a “That’s what you told me to use!”

He actually had to go check his computer to see the ping he’d sent me. I was right. The other two SDEs couldn’t hold back their laughter, and neither could we for that matter.

Now that work’s going much better, I’m almost excited at the beginning of the day. Almost.

What can I say? My life is average.

I think that’s why I love it.

The Last 4 Years: a Contemplation

Well, I’m done.

It’s strange. I feel like a mix of an a-bomb, the “Hallelujah” chorus of Handel’s Messiah, floating just under the surface of a body of water, and David Tennant’s heart wrenching “I don’t wanna go” as the tenth Doctor are all going off in my head in turns, but I’m more or less utterly calm on the outside.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve freaked out about it so much over the past few weeks—the past year, really—that I’m more or less done. I’ve come to accept it: I’m a big, important computer scientist, and soon, I will be unleashed on the world to wreak utter havoc with your online retail experience. I won’t be a student anymore.

Well, not really. I mean, I won’t be attending a school, but you can bet money, food, or various parts of your body that I will keep on learning. That’s who I am; I love knowledge. If I could just walk into a library and soak up all its knowledge, I would. So, I guess that nothing’s really going to change, other than what I do during the day. Like I said, your online retail experience will never be the same. And now, you’re going to be forever paranoid. (This is probably going to be made all the worse by the recent Big Brother leaks that have rocked the U.S. news. I’m sorry.)

Looking back, I can’t say I have many regrets. A few, but none that keep me up at night. If nothing else, I do what I feel comfortable with—that was one of those lessons I learned early on—we’re talking kindergarten, here.

I’ve been a student for the past 17 years. 19-ish, if you count pre-school. I did learn a lot there. Like how to make paintings with colored shaving cream. And how to duck and cover during an earthquake. And that I really, really hate fire alarms. REALLY.

In many ways, college is supposed to be the culmination of our learning. But, thinking back on it, I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. We start general in grade school and go specific in college. Sure, there’s distribution requirements, but it’s easy enough to mold those into what we really want. Not that that’s a bad thing—we need to come into who we are as naturally as possible, and focus on what we want. These four(-ish) years are incredibly crucial, but then, you could make that argument for almost any other moment in your life. I am who and where I am today because I went to college, and a lot of things would definitely be different had I not chosen this path. But I didn’t learn what life is all about. I didn’t learn everything I wanted to—there’s just no way I could do that in four or even ten years.

What I have learned (on a more serious note than a few posts previous) is this: Life is learning. Life is scary. Life is exciting. Life is experiencing ups and downs. Life is unexpected. Life is constantly changing, and even when it isn’t, the world keeps on turning.

I think a lot of this can be summed up as follows:

Des’ree–“You Gotta Be”

Fact vs Fiction

I read an article in my school’s paper the other day about people apparently being up in arms when musicians create personas for themselves, or perform in the “wrong” genre. (For the record, the piece argued against these complaints.) Apparently, if you don’t live in rural Appalachia, you are not allowed to so much as pluck a banjo or sing with even the slightest of twangs. No chanting if you’re not a monk. No rapping if you’re not gangsta. Because then you’re lying, and lying is a big no-no.

And yet, how many of us can claim we haven’t pretended to be someone we’re not in order to impress someone else or benefit ourselves? I mean, dating sites are notorious for the padding of various “attractions” and the minimizing of muffin tops. There are countless stories of embellishing résumés, or just re-wording it to make your job sound more important. I mean, finding a way to call yourself a technician of some sort apparently earns you huge brownie points, even when it’s well known that the word has experienced a sort of importance inflation to the point where it actually means very little.

The fact is, we routinely insert fiction into our lives. (Lame pun very much intended.) It’s not always in huge ways, but we do this because we as humans love to tell stories, and, even more than that, we want to be the heroes of our own. We want to show the world that we own ourselves, that we are capable and in control. We want to prove that we have a purpose, and that the world would not be the same without us. At the same time, we also want stories to compare and add to our own.

Maybe some of this is wrong, but I am attacking it from the perspective of a writer. I tell stories, or try to. It’s a trade of sorts. And it’s nuts how many times I’ve heard “write what you know”. I get it—first get good at what you have the skills for already, and those skills will translate into your future endeavors.

But the thing is, I know a lot more than people suspect. I know what the purple unicorns in my head look like. I know how sandpaper-y the skin of a demon is in my head. I know the scent of foods I don’t yet have names for. And I know them just as well as I know joy and grief and love and hate. I know them as well as I know my family and friends, because they are my own creations.

We all know what’s in our minds and in our hearts, and I don’t think that’s necessarily fiction; at least, not a bad fiction. What’s it hurt that someone who may never have seen sheets flapping on a clothesline in the prairie breeze sings about it, anyway? We all have fond memories of someone or something; a place we called home, or a person we felt at home with. What’s it hurt that those who sing of old myths and sagas never lived them? What’s it hurt that a fantasy author writes about creatures that don’t exist? It’s all a part of the human experience, and I think that’s beautiful, and, more to the point, valid.

Maybe that’s just me, but I’d like to think that there are more people who think this way; who understand that as necessary as it is to live in the moment, it is also necessary to dream of something more or something just plain different. Life is beautiful, but so, too, are dreams.

You Can’t Command Happiness

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing goes right, or something major went wrong at the beginning of the day? You’re feeling like crap, and quite literally nothing could make your day worse. Given that nothing could make your day worse, what is the last thing you want to hear?

Probably something that makes it seem like your problems mean nothing. Something like “Hey, smile!”

Apparently, this is something of a semi-common practice, telling someone who doesn’t look like they’re having a good time to smile, because, of course, if they’d just smile, everything would be better. Often (though not exclusively) directed toward women, it takes on a bit of an objectification element, like “There’s no reason a pretty woman should be sad—she’s pretty! What more does she want?!” There’s also the egotistical element of it: “You should smile because I’m gracing you with my presence.”

If you want someone to smile, maybe come up, introduce yourself, and get to know them? I know it sounds crazy, but the more you get to know them, the more chance you’ll have of saying something that will actually make them smile on your own merit.

As much as it sucks, we do need to accept that unhappy things happen, and that people don’t smile all the time. We all have problems in our lives, and a lot of them can’t be made to go away simply by being made to smile.

Some of you are going to groan when you read this, but the whole reason I’m thinking about this is a post off of Dear Blank, Please Blank: “Dear teenage girls everywhere, Chin up beautiful, you don’t want your tiara to fall off. (:”

Before I give you my response, I want to say that I know this was not meant in unkindness. Had it been, there would have been a lot more snark in there.

“Chin up, beautiful” is just another way to say “Hey, smile!”, which I hate being told. No, random stranger, I will not smile just because you asked. I’ll smile if I’m happy, and you telling me to smile is sending me in exactly the opposite direction. It’s like saying, “What are you sitting around looking not-happy (not necessarily unhappy; just not like you’re having the time of your life) for?” The “beautiful” on the end for me just sort of makes it sound like, “Oh, cheer up–you’ve got your looks, haven’t you?” as though teenage girls don’t go through stress, insecurity and heartache, and especially not about things other than their looks. And if the speaker is just going for the general “Someone out there must think you’re beautiful. I think you’re actually just okay/ugly”, then it’s downright disingenuous. Heck, even if “beautiful” refers exclusively to inner beauty, saying it won’t make someone’s insecurities about themselves magically disappear, not even if you say it over and over again, because that doesn’t necessarily make someone believe it.

It’s not that it was meant unkindly, and goodness knows we all need little acts of kindness in our lives, but “Have a nice day” or “I care about you” is, in my book, much more comforting to hear than what sounds like a command to look put together for the world, even though I might be going to pieces on the inside.

I wish that little sayings like this could make everything magically better, but sometimes, it’s cathartic (if not particularly nice) to just have a good cry.

However, I do rankle at effectively being addressed as a pretty princess. I’m not a princess—I’m a normal young adult woman with my own thoughts and feelings. And princesses are, too, I’ll have you know! We’re all entitled to be and to feel; to cast aside our masks when we’ve had enough and, à la Train’s “Meet Virginia”, scream “I don’t really wanna be the queen”/“I don’t really wanna live this life”.

And then, when we’re done doing that, we’re entitled to pick ourselves back up and go on living.

State of the Chickadoodle: Marvelous Misadventures Edition

I’d like to think I’m a fairly smart person. I’ve made it to the last quarter of my senior year (eeeeeek!) in a fairly prestigious computer science program–still not sure how that’s worked out, but it just goes to show you don’t need to be a genius. (Okay, I do know a lot of how it’s worked: work ethic. What I lack in smarts, I make up for in determination.)

But sometimes, smarts just aren’t enough. At least, book smarts aren’t. That’s why my roommate decided that this year would be the year of marvelous misadventures fairly early on. And boy, have we had several.

First, there were the english muffins. My roommate is fairly good at cooking–she’s the one who taught me how to drain browned ground beef without a strainer. (I still don’t have the knack of this, and I am getting a dedicated meat strainer as soon as I can afford it. Judge me all you want–it works.) However, even she sometimes has slip-ups. Specifically, flipping english muffins into not-so-great positions. She was helping me get half a tuna melt out of the toaster oven, and the plate was just at the right angle that it flipped face-down onto the plate. We were able to resurrect it, thankfully. Not long after, she was cutting an english muffin over the sink, since they produce so many crumbs. There was a flip, a disgruntled noise, and a plop as half the english muffin fell into a bowl of water. I have never seen my roommate look so put out over food.

That’s not to say I haven’t had my share of things go wrong. As it’s just started warming up here, the mosquitoes are starting to come out in force. One landed on a wall last night, and of course, I wanted to get rid of it. But I had no tissue to squish it with, so I did the least sensible thing and backhanded the wall. I got the bug, but it hurt. A lot.

Another marvelous misadventure I’ve had recently isn’t so much a “well, that was stupid” as a “why me?”

See, I got my bottom wisdom teeth out 6 years ago. They were nastily impacted, and were about to undo all the orthodontia I’ve had over the years. That wasn’t cool. During the consultation for that surgery, I was told that they weren’t going to remove my barely budding upper wisdom teeth because it would involve a lot more trouble than it was worth. Thankfully, they have grown in quite straight and will be fairly simple to remove, but still… two wisdom tooth surgeries does not a happy Chickadoodle make. (For the record, while they are growing in straight, my jaw does not have enough room to accommodate them. Believe me–if I did, I wouldn’t get the surgery.)

Remove ALL the wisdom teeth?

Remove ALL the wisdom teeth?

At the recent dentist visit where they said they wanted those upper wisdom teeth out ASAP, it was also discovered that I have a 5th cusp on one of my molars, which makes cleaning between two teeth very hard. I get through it okay, but still, it’s not great. Thank goodness I have fairly healthy teeth otherwise!

Finally, there was a marvelous adventure (not misadventure) where I recently made it so that I am highly confident I will be able to pass all of my classes this quarter so that I can graduate. I am currently taking 2 CS classes, a CS seminar, and a Greek/Latin roots class (easy A for me!) that put me just at full time. I’ll be playing catch-up a little in the Greek/Latin roots class, but other than that, I should be fine.

And so, that’s roughly the shape of things right now. After a week of freaking out since it’s my last quarter and I need to pass everything this quarter in order to graduate, I think I’ll be okay. And then I’ll have to get my wisdom teeth out. Oh boy…