Tuesday, December 31, 2013

[One for the Books]

And thus, with the click of a mouse, I join the thousands (millions?) of people making lists and reflecting over the past year on New Year's Eve. I meant to last year, and I still have the post in draft form, but for whatever reason, the thoughts would not form coherently enough for me to click that orange "Publish" button. But if I thought 2012 was a doozy of a year, I had no idea what 2013 had in store for me.

The Year of the Roller Coaster

Nah, not the real thing--I haven't been able to ride them anyway since my migraines became what they are today. More along the lines of the ups and downs. Oh, my, yes, every year is a roller coaster year. I can't get away from the fact that my even saying it's a been one is the ultimate cliché. Though, if truth be told, I'm pretty sure this particular RC was an underground RC, because there were a lot more downs than ups. Yup, this was the year of disillusionment.

In fact, the main reason I haven't been posting on here (now that my brain is working clearly enough to identify my motivations) was because I didn't want to be a downer. Yes, I know--you didn't know I had such a filter, did you? Oh, but I do, and there's a lot that goes through my mind and my emotions that comes nowhere near the internet. But, for tonight, the filters are set to low, so here goes:

On the job front, my hours grew smaller, and despite sending out dozens and dozens (no exaggeration, I promise) of résumés, all of which were quite respectable (unfortunately, so are my competitions' as well...), the only hiring that happened was on a freelance or per-project basis. Most companies didn't bother to respond at all, but the ones who did, well, they were kind in their rejection, but consistent:
Dear Nicole:

Thank you for your expression of interest in the [position] and for taking the time to apply. After careful consideration we have decided to pursue other candidates for this particular role. However, your background and experience may be a fit for a future opening. We invite you to view and apply to other career opportunities, update your resume and profile, and view the status of your application for any other open positions for which you may have already applied via the appropriate link below.
 Meanwhile, in the comments sections of every job-related or ACA-related article I read, I saw red as I read people say in the most casual of ways, "Well, if you don't like your job or it doesn't pay you enough, find a new one!" Yeah, like it's that easy. Instead, I watch people who happen to have connections getting the jobs I've worked to be eligible to earn after more or less deciding, "Oh, hey, I like books," and with little other preparation, step right into the dream job. Don't get me wrong--I don't begrudge them getting to do the job. I just find myself frustrated that I don't get a chance, even when I'm technically a stronger candidate, simply because I don't have friends (or relatives) in high places.

As recent as this month, I've realized that, barring something drastic occurring in my favor, my art dream is no longer going to happen... again. Without enough income (and frankly, I'm not sure if I'll have enough income to even pay my mortgage this upcoming semester), I can't take the classes, and it was a degree that was already going to take me at least eight years to finish. So it's been the year of realizing that, in a world of where a few people get to go for it, I'm not one of them. At least, not as far as I can see.

The year was even more disheartening on a personal level. In 2012, my dad was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, and this year, I've been watching his decline. He and my mom have been working to make sure she'll be okay when he passes on and the monthly income drops by 60%. This also means a lot of their reminding me that they "won't be able to help [me] anymore pretty soon," so guilt trips (and financial reality fears) galore. Y'know, as if it weren't killing me enough just on the personal "my daddy is sick" level.

Oh, and social life? Barring one birthday trip to visit my best friend in KC in October, and being the photographer for another close friend's wedding earlier this month, there has been no social life whatsoever. It's been a year of working, sleeping (not enough), and getting over being sick (as I spent at least a third or more of the year sick or battling some of my worst migraines). I mean, really--nothing. Besides most of my friends now being parents of small children or living too far away, I don't have any disposable income, so going out was, well, out.

So, maybe it wasn't the year of the roller coaster. I mean, I did have some good moments, for sure, but not enough to keep my sense of optimism or idealism intact. I've become pretty jaded, especially in the last few months. I'd say it was the year of the hermit, being annoyed by excessive clickbait (I mean, seriously! It's driving me nuts!), wasted effort, clashes between wanting what's best for myself and having to compromise or give up entirely...

Okay, short version: 2013 sucked balls. There, I said it. 2014 sure as hell better be better, or 2015 may see me checked in at a mental institution (if there are any left), though I'm not sure if I'll be catatonic or frantic. I know this: I can't keep going this way. Something has to change, and soon. I'm at my wits' end, and I hate feeling trapped and like I have no say in my own life, both of which I feel at the moment (and have for awhile). If I didn't get to snuggle with Sassy every night, I'd have lost it a long time ago.

See why I haven't written in so long? Yeah. Here's hoping for a change soon.

Peace to you and yours.

-Niki

Friday, October 25, 2013

[Pretty]



Language-sensitive warning: the "f" word is used, but it's perfectly chosen--not gratuitous.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

[That Proverbial Straw]

Fair warning: due to PMS symptoms starting to pop up, the stress of still having not found a full-time job, it being wedding season, me having more physical pain that I can cheerfully ignore at the moment, taking my Zoloft later in the evening than normal, and too much isolation lately, this blog post will be a whiner. Don't like it when I whine? Then don't read. I need to vent before that proverbial straw breaks my back.

Job hunting sucks. That's all I'll say on that subject for now. It just sucks. And it makes everything else that sucks occasionally, suck perpetually.

Y'know, I turn 30 in less than three months. I started writing on this blog when I was seventeen. If you'd told me then that at this point I would still have never dated anyone, never been kissed, etc., it probably would've devastated me. Most days, though, I'm okay with it. I don't love it, because I do feel like I've missed out on some pretty standard maturation milestones, and it doesn't help that some of my friends my age now have kids who are dating already and are teenagers. (Cue a major WTF?!?!?!) Seriously, a kid whose diaper I changed when she was an infant when I freakin' babysat her is a year away from graduating high school. And somehow, in the area of romance, I'm behind her.

So yeah, there are days (like today) when it all gets to me. When I log on Facebook and see someone else posting engagement photos. When I just want to give up trying to date because nothing ever, ever changes. It doesn't help, either, that pretty much the only socialization I've had all summer is with my parents (and, I might add, it's been hard to see them not in great health, especially my dad). Really. And the fact that, while my Zoloft does help with the mood swings and constant mild depression, I'm still emotional little Niki whose logical brain and rampant emotions appear unable to communicate with one another. I just would like to not feel perpetually stuck in a rut that seems to be a combination of ages 14 and 22 as far as life progression.

I want things to change, yet I don't have the means to make any change happen.

I'm tired of this stuff always being what it has been for so long.

I'm not an idiot. I know that finding a boyfriend won't magically fix loneliness. There are no magic fixes for this stuff. But I want to feel like I'm moving forward in life somehow, instead of idling at the same traffic light day in and day out.

I do feel an urge to reread Ecclesiastes right now... "There's nothing new under the sun..." You're preaching to the choir, Teacher, you're preaching to the choir.

Apologies if you've read this far for any lack of coherence or overall bitchiness. I'm just tired and needed to put these thoughts out there instead of letting them fester in my head all the time.........

Sunday, March 24, 2013

[Wait--What?!]

Lately, I've been making myself a delish banana-[dark-chocolate]-peanut-butter-oatmeal-and-almond-milk smoothie every day. I kept wondering why I was gaining weight, since this was in place of a standard meal, not added on. Then, of course, I looked up the nutritional facts. Everything was healthy, but also significant in calories and fructose sugars (healthier than processed, but still sugar).

So, today, I thought I'd make it a little leaner and use regular peanut butter and carob powder instead of my dark chocolate peanut butter. Surely that would save me at least 20 calories, right?

Wrong.

It's a classic example of why reading labels, despite what you think you "know" about foods is important. Check it out (click for a larger image):


Holy peanut butter, Batman! Not only is the dark chocolate peanut butter lower in calories and sugars, it's also made with more natural ingredients! Compare:

Dark Chocolate PB:

Peanuts
Evaporated cane juice
Cocoa
Cocoa butter
Palm fruit oil
Vanilla
Lecithin (from sunflowers)
Salt
Plus--no hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup, and it's gluten free

Standard Creamy PB:
Roasted peanuts
Sugar
Molasses
Fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed, cottonseed, soybean)
Salt

Granted, I did get the DCPB from the natural foods section of the grocery store, and the standard is generic peanut butter, but still!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

[What a Couple of Boobs!]

I know... I'm writing again, already! But... I've been provoked. Someone has pushed the feminist button. Actually, two someones. And big-time. And personally. And I'm pissed.

See these?


They're boobs. Breasts. Ta-tas. The girls. Bazookas. And a bunch of other positive and negatively connotated names. And yes, they're mine, and yes, they're rather large. 34F, to be exact, and my small frame does not particularly appreciate it, either.

Here are some more facts:

I did not choose to have them. They are there because large breasts run in my family and because I developed at an early age. Whether I wear "modest" clothing or not, they are noticeable. Unless I wear a turtleneck or a t-shirt, I will show cleavage. It's unavoidable.

I have large breasts. I did not choose to have them. I can, however, take pride in my appearance. I'm allowed to be comfortable in my own skin, just as a woman who is tall, slender, and who wears a more average-sized cup bra is encouraged to feel. This self-confidence in my sexuality does not make me a sex object. It does not remove my humanness.

The fact that I have F-cup breasts does not make me a sex object. Do I make myself clear? I am not now, nor will I ever be, someone in whom anyone may only be interested in "only for sex."

Twice now, in the past month, have I experienced men assuming this about me. Men, whom, I might add, claimed to be Christians. One of whom, I disgustedly add, plans to be a pastor. (And believe me, if I hear he becomes a candidate in my town and is still not grown up beyond where he is now, I will not remain silent, though I'm normally not the sort to interfere, because no man who desires to be in the role of a pastor should be a man who sees sex as "only sex".)

Fact: I have a libido. I am a virgin, and I have yet to kiss or be kissed, but I do know that I have a libido. But the presence of a libido, large breasts, a vagina, a uterus, ovaries, estrogen, etc., etc., etc., does not now nor will never make me nothing more than a sex object. 

Under no circumstances should you ever look at another human being as "just" a source of anything--sex, love, education, food, etc. To do so is to remove their humanity. To ignore their trials, their griefs, their triumphs, their laughter, etc., is to reduce them to mere objects, and that, my friends, is a grave sin. That's the danger of misogyny, misandry, racism, casual sex, human trafficking, homophobism, etc.,: we are each human. We are none of us summed up by parts of our bodies or physical desires. So to treat each other or even ourselves like we are is WRONG.

Period.

And my boobs will tell you the same thing. Right, Girls?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

[Knowing Me Better Than Before]

Somehow, I get the feeling that 2013 is going to be a red-letter year. In what way, good, neutral, or bad, and in what category or categories, I have no idea. But I get that vibe. Something just feels... different.

The gamblers and betters among my audience are welcome to make your wagers in the comments section. We'll declare winners come December 31st. ;) I've got a few theories, but I've been badly wrong before, so... no wagers from my corner. 

I do have much I could write about. I'm not hypocritical about what I tell my students ("There's never nothing to write about--use your tools!")--I promise. The main reason I haven't been writing lately is because a lot of what I have to say or report on personally news-wise isn't really suited for a completely public audience. If I had a limited audience, like my students do with their class blog, I might be a little more open, but despite what my friends and family seem to think based on what I share on Facebook, I don't actually share all that much of what's actually, truly personal. There's a lot more going on than what I share with, well, almost anyone. 

Part of this is due to the fact that it seems as though as soon as I open my mouth about something, something will immediately happen to either make me look like a liar or to completely dash my hopes, so I prefer not to jinx myself anymore until my hopes of any sort are fully realized. Another part is just because I don't have as much of a handle on words as I did before my wreck. Yes, still. And since I'm now on an antidepressant to control my migraines (it kind of helps, though not totally), by the time I find the words to express why I'm feeling what I'm feeling, the Zoloft's pretty much gotten my emotions back under control. Heh. No, really. 

And, really, a lot of what I have to say is potentially controversial (politically, etc.), and I'm just tired of all the debates and snarling back and forth that seems to keep getting nastier and nastier all the time. I prefer to pick my battles. I don't have the energy to fight all the fights that I care about. 

What can I say? I'm truly an INFP. If I don't get a chance to shut down and recharge, I suffer, and because I spend so much time doing extroverted work (school, work, communication, artwork), by the time it comes to the internet these days, especially blogging, I'm in need of satisfying my introverted core.

Anyway, that's why I've kind of disappeared off the radar. It's not permanent, I'm sure, so hang tight. I'll be back. I don't know when, but when it happens, look out. I'll be unstoppable. :)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

[The End of an Era?]

I'd like to say I waited this long to write about the new year so my post wouldn't get lost in the crowd, but that wouldn't be honest--I'm just a hopeless procrastinator. But hey--at least I'm honest about it. ;)

2013 does promise to be an interesting year, though, to be sure. For one thing, it's the year I turn 30.

30.

Whaaaaa--?!?!?! That used to sound old, and not that long ago!!!

It's also the year I intend to take hold of and continue what I began in 2012--taking control of my own life. Or at least, taking more proactive steps in achieving the things I want in life. I guess when you get close to 30 and realize that life isn't just going to fall in your lap (y'know... you don't look like a model and you're an introvert, so you don't encounter many people in day-to-day life in order to make connections...), you realize it's time to ignore the little embarrassment personality and start taking some chances. So, I've got some goals (not resolutions--resolutions are vows or promises... whereas goals are things I'm moving toward doing, but won't beat myself up if they don't come to fruition when I want them to) this year. Some social, some professional, some personal.

I'm not writing them down here, though. If I put them down in words, they sound too much like the resolutions I've made pretty much every year of my life so far (at least since adolescence). But I'm not the same person. I've changed, my motivations have changed, my sense of introspection has changed, my resolve has solidified.... so I don't want to create an echo of something that's truly something new.

This time next year, it's my hope and goal that certain things will be different. What those things are, though, are between me and God (and Sassy, who hears everything). Some, you may guess. Others, you may not. And no, I won't tell you if you're right. ;)

Happy new year, kids. Let it be filled with creativity, growth, and a greater understanding of ourselves.