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Tracy

[ website | My Composition Gallery (last updated 12/15/05) ]
~we all want to be heroes~
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(4 took a chance ~ try me)

Sadness, prospects, and the new semester [23 Jan 2009|01:06pm]
So, I came back from Indy a few weeks ago to find that our landlords had discovered the kitties. We made an excuse; they made it clear: get the cats out. We looked for options, but no one here could house two cats (other than the animal shelter--no), and shipping them to Indianapolis by air was going to cost $440. So, Mike and I spent four days driving to Indy and back to settle them with my parents. On the one hand, I'm just grateful that they're safe, we don't have to hide them, and we get to keep our apartment. On the other, we lost a lot of time and--more importantly, with the wedding on the horizon--money.

Annnd, I really miss my kitties.

But again, they're safe and taken care of. They apparently killed a mouse in my parents' garage, so they're earning their keep. And as for the money, we've been able to repair the loss a little bit through some unexpected work from my old company. And it looks like we'll have some more projects coming in from them, maybe, which we didn't account for in our budget. So, I think this thing is going to happen. I've had to finally give up on a few wedding things that already looked improbable--photography, live music--but nothing that was truly a priority. I'm in the swing of planning things again. A trip to the El Paso David's Bridal with Ashly might be on the horizon for this weekend to help me decide on bridesmaid dresses. My mom let the secret slip regarding my birthday present--a gift certificate to Hobby Lobby for invitation supplies and, possibly, decorations. I think it'll be nice to start finalizing plans and getting things in order. So much was up in the air last semester as we tried to figure out the budget. So, we're started with less than we planned, but things are still getting checked off the list, one by one.

The semester has otherwise started out pretty well. I'm in a Melville class, which I kind of hate, but my fiction workshop is being taught by the director of the program, who is awesome, and I'm having an incredible time in my screenwriting class. It's been great to have a class where we all come in and get down to business; we've been "casting" our screenplays and listening to the reading since day one. The professor is really demanding and kind of intimidating, but he will tell you what's working, what's not, and how to make it work better without hesitation. It's a nice contrast to fiction workshop, where the focus is as much on everyone working to figure out how the mechanics of good fiction as it is on the individual writer's story. In screenwriting, we just seem to get to the point. It's also alerted me to a thing I want to work on in my fiction--It turns out I have kind of a filmic eye when I describe things or people in stories (because I don't like long descriptions). This is a good thing in some ways, because I tend to avoid dwelling on stuff that is useless to the story (who cares if the character has jeans on, unless it shows something about them), but I also sometimes focus on settings like sets and characters like actors, and I don't go into the kind of detail that helps the reader experience the story. So I'm learning stuff, and I'm not sure I totally opened myself up to new techniques and things to work on last semester--I was just kind of trying to hold on and hold my own. I feel much more comfortable this semester, even as I have a lot (a lot) more work to do.

That's pretty much what's going on...If I get swallowed by this semester and don't emerge for a while, I'll be looking forward to seeing people at Ami's wedding!

-Tracy

(try me)

Post-election thoughts (and requests). [05 Nov 2008|11:39pm]
I messed this up four years ago, and my behavior going into and following that election is a source of shame for me. I'll try to do it right this time.

Read more...Collapse )

I can't pretend I don't think we did good. America did good. We took a big step forward, and we started to close the door on a few sordid parts of our past. I couldn't be more proud. We re-proved a lot about ourselves that recent years have undone. What this means is not that we can sit back and consider ourselves great, beyond question, beyond doubt. What it means is that we have to keep proving. We can't continue to stand with one foot in that door.

In other words, I hope this election is looked at down the road as more than just an inspiration--though we need to keep that fire lit as well. I hope it is recognized as the election where America renewed its commitment to truth and liberty, and its commitment to safeguard the rights and blessings of all of humanity.

<3.
Tracy

P.S. If this act of responsibility, for you, might mean praying--please pray. Pray for the safety, humanity, and wisdom of those who govern our nation and those who will govern it next.

(try me)

Blah. [27 Oct 2008|10:37am]
[ mood | discontent ]

I'm exhausted. My students (yes, it's always my students) are working on their documented argument (fancy name for a research paper that takes a stance), and they've got assignments coming in every day. Wouldn't be a problem, but the assignments have to do with their topics, so I feel I have to look over them and give feedback (there's nothing worse than being stuck with a topic that won't make a good argument). So, basically, I've gotten myself into this mess. But I think it'll work out for the best. I just want them to have the best chance at a good paper, since this one is worth a lot of their grade.

I've lost a few students to absences or failing grades. That was sad. And I'm pretty sure I've got a couple who will not pass once this is all said and done. (They have to get a C- to pass, just to be clear.) I can't help but take it a little personally, but for the most part my kids are doing quite well, so I know I can't let it get me down. Writing well is hard. Sometimes it'll have to take two tries.

In political news, McCain was here over the weekend. Just a few blocks from my house. Mike and I wanted to go, but you had to go get tickets at the GOP headquarters. It sounded a bit too much like screening to me, so we didn't end up going. I needed the time to work anyway. I wonder how it went? (A quick look: Nothing too incendiary or new, except that we apparently have a real Joe the Plumber who is voting for Obama. It all seemed pretty tame when we drove by.)

My parents are visiting this week (Tuesday), so I'm really excited for that. I've been a little homesick lately when I have the time to think about it. I'm hoping I'll be able to come home for Christmas, but things are a little tight with the wedding this summer. At least I'll be back for Ami's wedding, though, if not earlier. Sigh. Mike and I are doing editing work and trying for some writing prizes, so hopefully that will pad the budget a little.

That's about all I have. Happy Fall to everyone, and have a safe Halloween if you're going out and about.

<3,
Tracy

(1 took a chance ~ try me)

Some friendly news. [11 Oct 2008|07:53pm]
I promise I'll have a real update soon; I've been swamped, but I noticed this bit of follow-up regarding my last post. McCain has officially told his crowd to calm down, not to falsely fear Obama, and to keep things respectful. And, true to the principles I laid out in the last entry, I will judge him as much by those words as I do by the others. I still feel that his campaign on the whole is trying their best to spread some pretty disrespectful lies, but good words are good words no matter what the context or the potential motives. Good job, sir. Good job for attempting to bring some truly troubling Americans one step closer to being civilized.

I have to laugh at this, though: people in the audience actually boo when McCain asks them to be respectful. He handles it well, but guys, seriously..."Boo" for respect?

(1 took a chance ~ try me)

On negative campaigns. [06 Oct 2008|05:19pm]
Around now is when the negative campaigning starts to heat up. And around now is when people start sighing that negative campaigning means we can't get any real information about the candidates anymore. I don't really accept that argument. I believe that we have to be very critical about their words; we have to attempt to figure out what they're trying to accomplish with their words and we have to be vigilant about holding up their claims against the facts. But I also think that it is valid and sound to judge people by the words that they choose to define themselves by, even at this (admittedly petty) stage of the campaign.

So, yes, there's negative campaigning on both sides right now. Here's what Obama's looks like. It's obvious that people on both sides are just in the mood to go "boo." The tactic is the same. They are both criticizing their opponent's character. They're both trying to get you to think the other guy has associated with some dangerous fellows, that he is therefore un-American or dangerous himself, and that he is therefore a bad choice for president.

But most of us have read enough 1984 to recognize what a Two-Minute Hate looks like, and most of us know enough about "Birth of a Nation" to bat an eye when an audience member belts out, "Kill him!"

Say what you will about the validity of negative campaigning in the first place. It's just that there is one side that's relying on fraudulent and mangled information to try to win our trust. More troubling to me, though, is that there is one side that is accepting hateful calls of "Terrorist!" and "Kill him!" as an expression of support for their ticket, and they are smiling wide as it happens.

It's immoral, it's hypocritical, it's hate-mongering, it's disgusting. Maybe negative words are just heat, just words, but I see it as massively irresponsible not to hold words like these against them.

(2 took a chance ~ try me)

Papers and suicides and fishnets and cupcakes. [25 Sep 2008|05:15pm]
[ mood | relieved ]

Update time!

I finally finished grading papers this week--I am happy. 26 visual analyses. The kids did really well, all things considered. And I learned a LOT about grading. Like, I can't take nearly as long as I've been taking. It ate my week to the point that I hardly got my own work done. Now they're coming up on their second paper, which is twice as long and involved--I'm hoping they're ready. Every day I figure out a few more things we haven't talked about--it's funny how much you tend to rely on their experience or their high schools to have taught them some things already. Because, I mean, I know academically that this isn't true. High schools and high school teachers vary immensely. You can't count on anything. And this is a new thing for many of them, analyzing rhetoric. Looking really critically into people's speeches and writing to see how they're constructed, not just what it says. Of course political topics and personages are on the table. I've got quite a polar class politically; I already know that about half of them are writing on either Obama or McCain/Palin, and I'm worried I'll get tons of papers back with "McCain says 'Country First'; that means he's a good candidate" (Not analysis, guys, until you define the expectations behind a "good candidate" and talk about how McCain plays to them) or "Obama is someone we can trust because he's all about change" (Examine those assumptions; what audience might trust someone because they call for change, and why?). I appreciate that they're invested, but that's not going to get them through an analysis, and I'm not sure we've talked about the difference between being invested and being persuasive.

Sigh. Well, there's still a week until the deadline.

The student who was having a rough time is still having a pretty rough time--he's come back to class, and he says he wants to stay for the semester. I know he has things really hard right now. At the same time, though, I'm afraid I'm going to have to be a hardass about all his absences. He's missed more than the limit (the rule is after six, you fail--the logic being that you've missed two weeks of a course that's only fourteen weeks long). I've been giving him make-up assignments, but he's not really doing them. It's frustrating. I guess I'm just going to talk to him after class next time I see him. I really can't keep doing him these kinds of favors--I care very much about his situation, but I think he just needs to take a break from this class and maybe others to deal with these things before he digs himself into a hole academically.

Other than that, I've been working feverishly on my first story for fiction workshop. It's about a girl on a Sioux reservation who's in the middle of a cluster of suicides. (Based on a true story? Pretty much. Suicide rates for American and Alaskan natives are through the roof.) I think it's a bit different from some of the other workshop pieces I've seen so far--really in that I'm not going out on much of a limb. It's pretty traditional. There's a big focus on language right now, I think, and I care very much about that, but I also like things to very clearly happen in a story. I spent years writing really pretty things that no one could make heads or tails of. I'd rather write a successful plot. I think writing the novel did that to me--nice language just isn't enough to get you to 200-300 pages. But, anyway, I turned the story in yesterday; it's up for workshop in a week...I hope people like it!

I've been having some fun, too. There's a great group of other grad assistants whom Mike and I tend to hang around with on the weekends (and at school). Last week we went to an open mic (complete with slam poets, electric guitar solos, and this awesome troupe of performers that I like to call fight-dancers) and then to a karaoke bar, which was honestly quite disturbing and weird--there were these three girls onstage with you the whole time, and they would sing along and dress up for every number, sometimes in full sleazy costume (remember Cher with her sailor hat and fishnets and no panties?)--but it was fun nonetheless. Mike and I and two of the other guys got to belt out some Proclaimers in our best Scottish accents ("Walk 500 Miles"). Fun times.

Which brings me to this weekend's plans, and, to break my promise in my last update, a vaguely political aside. See, we were all supposed to get together this Friday to watch the presidential debates and eat and drink and make fun. In fact, I was going to bake cupcakes for the occasion. But, along comes John McCain and suspends his participation in the debate. (Which, to be honest, I consider a very swaggering and juvenile move--for one, he's been practicing for the debate just as much as Obama, and it's not focused on economics, so he should be prepared to give up a few hours to do what he's been preparing to do for weeks or even months. More than that, he's actually proposing that he give up the responsibility to appear before the American people and respond to and challenge his opponent. A lot of voters will watch the debates to help them make their decision. Even in the face of something as big as the financial crisis, which mirrors--what? every day of a presidency, when you have eighteen equally important issues on your plate, the problems he's canceling the debate for are better addressed by open discussion and honesty to the American people, and to move to cancel them is irresponsible to us. Not to mention such a move brings the potential consequence of canceling the vice-presidential debates entirely--an important consideration, keeping in mind that Sarah Palin has been falling from favor, has not been interviewing well, and has not been responding well to questions--not to McCain's liking or his opponents'. No surprise in him making the move; it's just a new level of dishonesty to the public that could keep a lot of people in the dark who want to make informed decisions. And now, I breathe.)

So, the point is, it looked like this silly attempt at posturing was going to cost me my Friday night fun, send me back to that sleazy karaoke bar, and--most importantly--rob me of the cupcakes I've been craving since I came up with the idea. And that's all I'm saying. John McCain tried to take away a girl's cupcakes. Spread it around the 'Net.

(Fortunately, it looks like people are responding so ferociously that he's pretty much agreed to appear in some form, even if it's not in the flesh. Crisis averted. Cupcakes restored.)

(2 took a chance ~ try me)

Happy birthday Ami!! [24 Sep 2008|08:11am]
I miss you, and I wish I could be there. But I hope you have a great birthday!

Many sharks,
Tracy

(3 took a chance ~ try me)

Hi. [12 Sep 2008|02:37pm]
I'm coming off yet another frustrating week in my grad school life...a surprise, I know, given my earlier enthusiasm! The good thing about this week is that I've pretty much got the procedure down, I'm learning how to contribute more and at what level, and I'm less nervous about my own class. They're really the main issue right now...I think they're getting it, I think they're doing a pretty good job, but they're less and less engaged. And I can't bear to have one of those sterile boring classrooms, regardless of what it manages to accomplish. I'm starting them in their writing groups next week--Mike's maybe going to come in and help me model what a good (or bad) discussion and response to a peer's work looks like. Maybe that will jump-start us again. I hope so.

The other thing is that I had a kid in class email me saying he'd had a family tragedy--someone had been murdered--and I haven't seen or heard from him since. This breaks my heart. People don't tend to do enough to take care of others when this kind of thing happens. I'm not giving up--he happens to be a student athlete, so I've contacted his support network, and hopefully they can reach him and get him in touch with people who can help. On the practical side, I need to know whether he's staying in class. But more than that, I just want to know that he's being taken care of.

I also--I can't help it--I've been really concerned about political stuff. Every day I see a new set of lies being spread and accepted and blatant wrongdoings going unremarked. Here, everyone, is my one political spiel for the year. It's not going under a cut because it's been hanging over my head lately and I feel a very deep responsibility to communicate it to you for your consideration. Here's what I ask:

Make sure that, whatever you believe, whatever you stand for and want to see happen in this country, that you know the truth about exactly where the Republicans stand on the issue.

What this means is that I can't really say anything to those of you who will vote Republican because you oppose the legality of abortion in this country. I understand that the issue is really important to you and that, if ending abortion represents your highest call, the Republican party is your only option. But if you're voting Republican because you think they will keep us safe and secure, because you think they'll put the economy back together, and most especially because of anything unwholesome they've told you about the other guy--please look again.

I'll start here to illustrate. The Republican campaign is attempting to block votes in Michigan by compiling a list of people whose homes have foreclosed. These people, mostly black, mostly poor, are likely living somewhere in the wake of the massive foreclosures and are eligible to vote. But the Republican campaign is actively attempting to block them, to challenge the legitimacy of their votes, which in turn will send them to wait in long lines that they (because they're poor, and because they work) can't afford to spend time in. These voters, many of them eligible, would likely be forced to leave the line, without voting, and the Republicans are telling you it's out of a concern for procedure. That they'll keep the polls fraud-free. They aren't telling you that they're keeping them free of eligible poor families and black families as well.

They're telling you that the economy is fine, but they admit ignorance on the subject. They're telling you that they'll invest in alternative energies, but instead they're offering up places for us to drill for more oil (Sarah Palin in her own home state). After all we've studied and all we've observed over the years, please realize that our biggest problems with oil have nothing to do with the fact that it comes from overseas and not from here. The biggest problem is that we use it, more and more, every day.

They're telling you that they'll promote national security, and they're spinning their wheels reminding you that we are America, that they will be strong for us, and that if it makes you feel safe we will go anywhere we want if we feel the least bit nervous--we don't have to have evidence, we don't have to have documented concerns, we don't have to have the requisite approval from the various world organizations we're so proud to belong to. We don't have to be humanitarian about it. No option is barred. Listen to them when they tell you this, and think about it. There's a big difference between saying, "If good intelligence and evidence lead us to believe there's a threat, we will consider all of our options carefully" and saying, "In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America, and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink...in making the tough decisions of where we go, and even who we target." Sarah Palin said that. Listen to the rhetoric. Listen to the promises made. No options are last resorts anymore. All options are available to us, we can go after anyone to any extent, and we can make these decisions as split-second as we want to. Depending on how nervous we are.

This is not security. Security does not come from the hands of a man who supports an interpretation of American and international law so loose that it allows us to inflict acts that have been clinically defined as torture upon anyone we wish, without establishing guilt, without even establishing reasonable suspicion. We are torturing people--of course by beating their bodies but also by stopping just short of drowning them again and again, or forcing them for days to go without sleep or without sitting down or without changing position. We are destroying their minds. I say "we" because we're responsible. I say "we" because, if we elect a man who has experienced torture himself but cannot use that experience to stop the unlawful mutilation of human beings, we are culpable for his wrongdoing. It's our responsibility.

I voted for the man who is redefining "destruction" for us now. I voted for the man who has decided that torture is actually enhanced interrogation and that prisoners of war, i.e., the suffering young John McCains of the world, are actually enemy combatants and thus are not covered under the very clear and precise law that governs our treatment of human beings in times of war. Without their former name, these people are without rights and without any claim to decency. I voted for that man, and I am culpable. I am responsible for entrusting my country and my sense of human decency to him. I made a terrible mistake. I am ashamed of having done it. I don't want to see anyone I know in this position in the coming four years.

I can't renounce the decision I made. It can't be erased. All I can do is ask you, please, to consider what you've heard and decide for yourselves whether you are willing to commit your life, your humanity, and your honor to people who are still redefining our world in terms of fear, enemies, threats, and destruction. That is what your vote is--a commitment--and that is what it is meant to do. Your vote can torture people. Your vote can kill. Your vote can bomb countries when it's nervous. So listen to them when they're striking those nerves, realize what they're doing, realize what they're asking you to give up in exchange for their version of security and national honor, and don't vote out of those fears. Vote out of what you want this country to achieve, and make sure you know exactly what it is you're voting for.

I don't honestly expect much to convince anyone. All I can hope is that this starts to make amends for my mistake.

(2 took a chance ~ try me)

Hi from Las Cruces [08 Aug 2008|11:03am]
Made it safely, despite a leave time of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and a tornado in Illinois. We are both very tired of driving.

But! Las Cruces is beautiful, the weather is nicer than expected, and we've already met and greeted a few of the people we'll be running into once school starts. Monday starts our week-long teaching orientation, and I think school starts the next Thursday or so. It feels kinda crazy. I'm lucky to have Mike here to help me not freak out.

Today we're switching utilities into our name, then we start the unpacking process--which can't possibly be any worse than the two-day loading the car and throwing out our stuff process. The Buick was packed to the limit--I kind of don't know how we got here without losing anything or throwing it out the window out of frustration. (Mike held a bike wheel with his neck for a while.)

The kitties are also fine, if scared from the drive and sick of being put in their carriers. It's not fun hiding them from the landlord, but we have a few plans and excuses in case of emergency.

I'm updating from campus today, but we're hoping to have Internet in the next few days--hopefully I'll be talking to many of you soon!

Love,
Tracy

(9 took a chance ~ try me)

Anniversary and moving and stuff. [22 Jul 2008|10:07pm]
[ mood | sleepy ]

Yesterday was the two-year mark for me and Mike. We went to The Melting Pot courtesy of a Christmas gift card from my brothers and their families. Quite the experience...very tasty. Mostly I feel happy and lucky that he's mine and I am his. (Love you, baby, with all my heart.)

The apartment is getting barer...I've packed up some books in order to sell the bookshelf, which went today, and the dining room set is pledged to none other than Alex Mattingly's little sis, Naila, which was a strange twist of Craigslist fate. Had a few offers on the TV, the dresser, and the coffee and end tables; the sofa, the chair, and the other bookshelf are likely going to Mike's family or friends; the bed goes back to my family; and everything else gets scrapped or dismantled (we're going to attempt to take his drawing table and my computer desk). It's honestly really stressful, and I hate watching stuff go--most of it has either been in my family for years or has been hard-purchased to fill out my apartment, which I've loved--but it will be a relief in many ways. Certainly financially.

We did run into a problem a few weeks ago due to the kitties. I've been planning on taking them, no questions asked. But recently Bo's been having digestive problems (on the carpet) and Kii has been rambunctious and just really undisciplined (also on the carpet). Coupled with the fact that we're not actually supposed to have cats where we're going, and any damage they'd do would not be taken kindly, I've been trying to come to terms with the possibility of leaving them here. I've changed their food and they seem to be doing better. I just hope I'll get to take them after all.

This is my last week of work as well. My work friends are not going to much trouble to hide being sad. Which is good, 'cause I fully plan to bawl at the end of the week. :) I'll miss them a whole lot. They've been great new friends, and wonderful to work with. I imagine we'll still send some ridiculous emails back and forth. Emily has already promised me some prank phone calls. And I'll still be working for the company as an independent contractor, so if the workload stays what it was, I may have an extra source of cash.

I got an email saying that my textbooks for teaching should be arriving soon--it also told me that orientation for teaching was a week earlier than we were led to believe. Eep. But, that also means that I'm guaranteed at least a week to plan and settle in before classes actually start. I don't get the impression we're going to be encouraged to do much planning of our own--sounds like we follow a pretty common syllabus. But I'm hoping I'm wrong, or at least that I can request to try a few things differently. One of the advantages of being with a dude whose career paths fall pretty closely with mine is that we get to talk about all the things we want to change in our line of work. It just also raises our expectations to levels that we're pretty unlikely to have access to for a while. Oh well. It's still nice to make plans. When I'm not busy being nervous, I really look forward to getting to teach this year.

That's pretty much what's happening, other than some hang-outs scheduled here and there and some last-minute wedding errands to take care of on my week off. I'm getting closer to finishing my book...I think I might be at 80%? The hope is to finish it by the end of September, and then get started on new projects. And, there's packing, for added fun. And spending time with the family. They're holding up okay. I was proud of my mom yesterday--she's been talking about grad school like it's just a jaunt away until I inevitably drift back toward Indy, but yesterday she said that she understood it might take years before I'm able to stay in one place for a while, let alone before it'll be feasible or desirable to move back to Indy. It's weird to think about. But that's sort of what I'm signing up for, and if I'm right, it's what I want. I'm just going to do what she suggested and become a very good pen pal and phone-caller, and to keep up with people as best I can.

Time for bed. :)

(1 took a chance ~ try me)

Yay! [27 Jun 2008|09:29pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

I'm pretty proud of myself today. Mike and I biked this evening to dinner and back--from 91st street and the Monon to 116th street and Keystone. I looked it up and it comes to about 8.5 miles, round trip. We're trying to get in shape for New Mexico so we can mostly use our bikes to get around town, so today was a good milestone! Besides, I'm just happy to have finally found an exercise I enjoy. Plus it's been the best workout I've had since they made us run in band. :)

We're planning to bike some with one of Mike's friends tomorrow, too. Hooray for an active weekend!

(4 took a chance ~ try me)

This and that. [21 Jun 2008|11:24am]
[ mood | calm ]

Well...just bought my wedding dress.

I love it and it makes me feel like a queen (which was actually important in deciding on it over another very pretty choice--like a queen, not a princess. Cute, tulle, etc. is lovely, but I want to look more like a decisive adult than a dreamy Cinderella). The money has really set me back, but it's nice to know that I won't have to worry about paying for that chunk of the wedding six months down the road when I'm waiting for my stipend and hoping for freelance work and flying back to Indy for Christmas. In that sense, it's nice to be doing a lot of the wedding planning this far in advance. It's nice too to spread out the stress of it all--I'm still enjoying it, whereas in six months it would be more of a chore, I think.

We've almost got the reception hall--a little place that caters really amazing Indian--and as soon as we confirm that, we'll have a church--a Quaker Meeting down on Kessler and Allisonville. So, we've been running around a lot to taste things, meet people, discuss options. Plus I've been running around town a lot lately to see people before I go. I'm kind of exhausted.

I guess the only other thing is that I wish my family was more excited. My mom has been great and is really thrilled and encouraging. But sometimes I feel like the others wish I'd just not bother them with it. I try not to bring it up that often--it's not like it's the only thing I do or think about. And I know they have their own very demanding lives, and kids. I just feel sometimes like they couldn't care less. When I saw them for lunch the first Sunday after getting engaged, only Scott really asked me anything about the wedding plans, no one asked about how it happened, and only a couple of them even made an attempt to see the ring. I don't really care about the ring thing; I love mine, and it's a big pearl so you kind of can't miss it, and I don't need someone to coo over it to feel like they've acknowledged my engagement. I need them to call Mike my fiance to their kids instead of my "friend." I need them to ask how Mike is doing and talk to him when he's around. I need them to ask me tough questions, if they're concerned--not ignore the whole thing like it's not going to happen. I realize their lives must be absorbing. But they know what's going on in mine--it's kind of important, I'm going to grad school across the country and I'm entering into the most important commitment of my life; it's very easy to remember that much, and I still feel like I should just shut up about the dress and the catering and hide my ring in my pocket. And the thing is, those things are just an avenue to talk about more important things. I don't need people to show interest in the particulars of the event. That's just the way I've seen other women couch the real point of the matter: that I love this man and I want to build a life with him.

And I admit, sometimes I feel the same way around friends. Not so much anymore, and not around my closest, who actually have talked to me about the relationship itself and have shown me they care about the guy I'm marrying. But it happens. And I just shut up.

I'm trying to move on from needing that kind of acknowledgment, from needing a sign that it's okay to talk about things. One thing Mike has shown me is how much I cater my behavior to the comfort and expectations of others, at the expense of my needs. My instinct is to put the whole wedding subject in the closet if that seems to be what others want. So I stay very aware of how much I talk about it, and when, and to whom, and what their reaction is--and when you do that, you can't help but think about how people cared or didn't care even when they are not around. You can't help modifying your behavior such that if someone gives you no response on a subject, no matter how important that subject is, you stop seeking one. I resent being that person still. Maybe you guys didn't know, but that's who I was through middle school and high school. Ultimately, I didn't care if people cared, as long as they liked me. As long as they shared their time and jokes with me. I got out of that a little in college and I thought I was done with it. I hate that instinct. I'm trying to make it go away.

So, guys, I'm making a huge transition right now and it doesn't just have to do with going to grad school and getting married. They're just related. I'm working hard to become a good writer. There are personality traits that come along with that and one of them is observing things. The other is saying them. Get used to me using big words (it just happens). Get used to me being observant. I'm also very much in love with a man who speaks his mind, expects a lot of people, and refuses to modify his beliefs or behavior in order to make people comfortable. A lot of people don't like him. I do. Get used to me saying so. Get used to me getting more clear in what I believe and what I will not support. This includes the way this group of friends treats each other. It includes the way we have hurt and stifled and pigeonholed people now and in the past into being the way we want them, or into leaving the group entirely. We gave ourselves a right we didn't have. We have to acknowledge we made mistakes and we have to change and be honest and behave better. More on that, perhaps, at a later time, or in comments.

Mostly, get used to me trying to kick some unhealthy habits. It might mean I behave a lot differently than you thought I did. It might mean I feel a lot differently than I suggested I did. It might mean you don't recognize me anymore. I hope that's okay. But if it's not...we can talk about it.

Hope this made sense. It wasn't where I intended this post to end up.

Love,
Tracy

(5 took a chance ~ try me)

Shameless movie plug [07 Jun 2008|07:31pm]
[ mood | impressed ]

Guys, if you have the time and occasion, go see "The Fall." It's a movie set in the 1920s about a little girl with a broken arm who befriends an injured stunt man (whose life is kind of a mess), and he tells her these really elaborate stories. It's visually amazing and the acting is sweet and natural and really heartbreaking at points. I'm aware that it's the kind of film that makes all my personal wishes as a moviegoer come true (epic, honest, beautiful to hear and look at), but I think anyone would enjoy it who isn't fazed by the occasional disconnection or non sequitur in the fairy tale parts. I would also say that you sometimes have to be willing to stay a step or two behind the plot until the pieces all come together, but when they do, it's really rewarding. I enjoyed it more than any movie I've seen in years (again, I have some bias, but still, it was very good).

Besides, I'm worried that people won't go see it and then the DVD will be $30 when I go to buy it in several months. :)

(17 took a chance ~ try me)

Engagement story. [06 May 2008|10:34pm]
[ mood | excited ]

Okay, so last Friday Mike and I were going to go to a play at Butler. The play was written by the editor of Nuvo, who is Mike's friend and likes to invite us to things. On Wednesday Mike sent me a forward from the guy, saying that there was going to be a party before the show at the fountain on Butler's campus, with everyone dressed in their finest and sipping grape juice for good luck. I was really excited and told everyone at work. I even invited Katie. (It turned out she already had plans.) On Friday I came back to my apartment, where I changed into my favorite dress and met up with Mike. He carried his laptop with him, explaining that the guy's play, "iFred," was "web site-specific" and might have some interactive components.

As we were driving down to Butler, he put a new mix CD he'd made in the player. He said it was a mix he'd made just because he was happy--which I attributed to the fact that he'd just finished the bulk of his finals. I noticed a lot of our favorite, lovey songs on the CD. Usually he puts more new songs than old on mix CDs, just to give me lots of new stuff to listen to. I figured he was just that happy.

As we got closer to Butler, he asked if we should park on the lake drive. I asked why. He said, because the party was at the big fountain by the lake. I asked if he was sure. He said, pretty sure. We parked by the lake. We let the song on the CD end, because it is the song we used to sing to each other over the phone.

We got out of the car and walked down around the lake. It became clear that there was no party. There were a few people on benches and a few families walking their dogs. Mike asked if we could go to the top of the steps anyway. I said, sure. By this time I was nervous and suspicious and babbling about how I was so excited for the grape juice party, and how my mom had told me to be sure not to drink any wine.

We climbed to the top of the steps and stood under the carillon tower. Mike turned me around to see the whole lake and the fountain below. He hugged me tight and handed me a bundle of envelopes. They were nested, one inside the other, and had drawings of us as stick figures--holding each other, talking together on a couch. He wrote on each envelope the reasons he loved me. He wrote how much he respected me, how much he loved to be with me, how much he wanted to always be someone I could love and admire. On the last envelope he drew a stick figure of me reading the envelopes, and a stick figure of him on one knee. The envelope told me to turn around. The real Mike was on one knee.

This is my ring.

I said, yes. And cried. And got really happy. And cried again. And so on.

Mike revealed that the conversation he'd forwarded was fabricated, that he'd created a fake e-mail address for the guy who wrote the play and made up the part about the party. He'd called Katie after I called her and asked her not to come. He'd brought his laptop so I wouldn't see the ring box hiding in his pocket. He'd made reservations for Naked Tchopsticks, a sushi and Chinese restaurant that we love but never manage to go to. We spent the rest of the evening having a lovely dinner complete with plum wine (sorry Mom) and a run to the grocery store for dessert (an amazing chocolate silk pie). We cuddled in the car and listened to our favorite songs on the CD he'd made, along with some new ones that we'd like to play at our wedding (next summer, most likely).

It was honestly perfect. I wouldn't have wanted anything more. It was simple and surprising and thoughtful and an adventure. And if I seem to overplay the particulars of how it happened and how loved I felt, it's because I want everyone to know how special every day is with him. In some ways, it wasn't necessarily that different from any other day we'd spend together. He was as thoughtful and genuine and kind as ever. This time just had a proposal attached to it, a promise that what I've already seen of him will be mine for a lifetime.

I feel so lucky every day. I want him to know it and I want people to see how honored and excited I am to share my life with him.

Sorry for the love-fest. :) Thanks for reading.

~Tracy

(13 took a chance ~ try me)

News! [03 May 2008|12:45pm]
[ mood | love ]

Mike and I are engaged. Yaaay! Yay.

Details later when I stop dancing.

(7 took a chance ~ try me)

Grad school update. [11 Apr 2008|09:06pm]
[ mood | excited ]

I'm going to New Mexico, officially. Kind of old news--they were always my favorite. The new news is that I'm lucky enough to take Mike with me.

I grew to like the program and the director more and more as we talked, and he was so eager for both of us to come out. He tried for a month and a half to get some money for Mike to compete with the other school that accepted him (10 hours away in Riverside, CA, I might add). We got a call from him last Sunday. They found an assistantship for him, which means we both will have a generous amount of money and more than enough to go.

So, this is pretty much the coolest thing that could've possibly happened. The odds of both of us ending up accepted to programs within driving distance of each other, let alone the same program, were next to impossible. We certainly didn't expect it.

The program is respected and laid-back. The director will do anything for his students. I'm going to get to teach and learn more about what I love. I've been looking at pictures and houses and New Mexico is absolutely beautiful in a very refreshing way. And I'm going to get to be there with my baby.

It's going to be scary when it actually comes time to move. But right now I just feel like I'm about to go on the biggest adventure of my life.

(try me)

Can't believe I haven't posted about this yet. [21 Mar 2008|07:24am]
[ mood | cheerful ]

We have a new baby in the family!

Susan and Jay had a really difficult time--the doctors were kind of antsy, trying to get Susan to go early and induce, and finally it got to the point where the medicine was making her sick, her body wasn't really responding, and she demanded a c-section. They were surprised with a 9 lb., 9 oz. baby boy. His name is Aiden Christopher. He has big feet. :)

I keep asking my dad to send me pictures, but he forgets. As soon as I get them, I'll post a couple. Jay and Susan are really excited and nervous and cute. And it is fun to be an aunt again.

That's it for now!

(2 took a chance ~ try me)

Yay. [02 Feb 2008|12:23pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

I am 23 now. This changes everything? I don't know. I do feel a little less like a kid. Basically all it does is emphasize to me the adult things I've already been doing, and put into perspective the things I still want to do. So, not a change really, but nice to think about.

The ladies at work treated me to cheesecake, among other thoughtful things, and were just generally really excited and encouraging all week. They're awesome people. Probably the best I'll ever get to work with. They're one of the several groups of people it'll be very hard to leave if I get into MFA programs. (No word on that yet, by the way...probably won't start hearing back until March.)

Then on Friday night, Mike, Jason, Casey, and I took our usual trip to Chipotle, came back, joined Josh for Smash Bros., got tipsy. Played Puerto Rico. I'm too competitive to completely enjoy board games in most situations, but this time it was really fun. Had we finished, I might have won?

Today will probably be lazy. I want to write. I'm halfway done with my novel! I had hoped to finish in a year, and with five months left until the end of June, I just might make it. Even if I don't, it's a goal for this year. I've been trying to work hard on it. Doesn't always work out so well with a full-time job, but it's nice to know I'm making progress.

Anyway, as is the way with my birthdays (I don't know why this happens), it will actually continue to be celebrated in various ways for about a week. I'll have lunch with my family on Sunday, and hopefully sometime next week I'll be able to catch up with my girls. (Something low-key...Melanie suggested Pizza King, which I tried to tell myself we'd grown out of, but then decided might be the best idea yet.) Then the week-long birthday will presumably end.

At any rate, I'm doing well. Still alive. Very happy. Sometimes I think my birthday mainly exists to remind me how lucky I am in the company I keep. Thanks again everyone.

(9 took a chance ~ try me)

[15 Aug 2007|06:13am]
I want to teach creative writing. Most of you know this. This would be sort of an ideal career path, as it's a license--even a mandate--to do your own writing while you talk with students about how it works.

But. Sometimes I think I'd be happy if, for the rest of my life, I could just prod people nearby into writing books.

By which I mean, my dad is currently writing a book (that I will need to spur him on with today). My mom woke up in the middle of the night with an idea for one. I told her to write it. I'd do anything I could to help her get it written.

This makes me happier than about anything else I do in the world. Including writing, much of the time, which because of my neuroses often makes me sad.

I plan coursework in my head for people who want to write. And for people who don't actually want to write but like the idea of being a writer. I do this all the time.

Grad schools need to take me because of this. I can do it without them, but their participation would sure help.

Who has a secret idea for a book that I can prod them to start writing?

(1 took a chance ~ try me)

First anniversary. [20 Jul 2007|06:47am]
Um. I've booked myself into an extremely busy (but awesome!) weekend with my dude and my girls. And God?? :) So I won't get to post anything about this tomorrow, when it would be more accurate. But.

Mike.

Thank you for being someone I can trust, and thank you for trusting in me--for wanting to see me go places and do good things. Thank you for encouraging me in my efforts and for persuading me that it's not necessary to beat myself up in order to succeed. This is a difficult task you have taken on. Fortunately, you are perfect for it.

Thank you for demanding goodness from an imperfect world. Thank you for wanting to make things better however you can. Thank you for trying so hard, and for working as hard as you do.

Mike Meginnis, I love you. Every day I love you. Thank you for being so good, so sweet, so driven, so affectionate. Thank you for making it obvious that you love me too.

Thank you most especially for being mine. I am yours. For a long, long time.

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