I Live In Nebraska Now

Sorry for being gone for so long y’all, I was busy moving to fucking Nebraska. NEBRASKA. To be fair, Nebraska has actually been pretty good to me thus far but WINTER. IS. COMING. And, if the mannequins at the sporting goods store are to be believed, then winter here is like what will happen when the sun dies and the world is cast into bitter, cold, darkness. So, yeah, I’m panicking and frequently asking my hubs (who grew up in Ohio and is much more prepared for this sort of thing) if he thinks that I have enough thermal underwear and maybe should we buy more hand warmers and also can we move back to Texas for the winter? (One yes and two nos for the record).

We moved to Nebraska because my hubs is a Professor and got a badass job at the University of Nebraska. Did y’all know that both Grace and I are married to Professors? Isn’t that adorable? Best friends married to men in academia?! And also our Professor husbands are best friends!! We are best friends who married best friends!!!! WE ARE ADORABLE. (If you know any sexy single Professors please let me know, I am constantly on the lookout for a suitable Professor for Kate so we can complete the trifecta/braintrust).

Anyway, so far I don’t hate Nebraska. Really. They have two great farmers markets in Lincoln, a Whole Foods, a Trader Joes, an AMAZING burger place, a great place for brunch, cheap booze, a beautiful capital building, lots of great walking and biking trails, and just epic tailgating.

On the other hand, their DMW can suck it. When we went to get our licenses my hubs was in and out in about 10 minutes. They didn’t ask him any questions and he only had to show his passport and two pieces of mail. Getting my license took 45 minutes and a pretty intense interrogation. I brought my passport, my Texas license, my social security card, and our marriage license. My hubs laughed at all of the identification I brought and thought that the marriage license was overkill. WRONG. They fucking grilled me on my name change, which has been in place for over a year, and ALL OF MY IDENTIFICATION HAS THE CORRECT NAME ON IT. But they were like “Your middle name [which is my maiden name] isn’t legal because you don’t have a court order.” NOPE. THAT IS INCORRECT. My name was legally changed and this is my recognized name by EVERYONE including the US government. It is the name on my passport, my Texas ID, and my social security card. Y’all, they were literally not going to give me a license. For real. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I was trying to explain the way legal name changes work to the manager of the DMV – that in fact, no, you don’t have to get your birth certificate changed to take your partners last name, and no, you don’t need a court order either. The fuck? I kept referencing my Texas ID, my social security card, and my passport. He repeatedly told me that they didn’t accept any of these as valid identification. THE FUCK? If a US passport isn’t a form of valid identification I don’t know what is. It has my name and my picture on it and has been verified by the federal government. Of course, it was perfectly acceptable identification for my husband, just not for me because vaginas are tricksy y’all. Right before my head exploded and I stormed out of there – he noticed my marriage license AND THEN GAVE ME A LICENSE. Apparently a piece of paper with no picture on it that verifies I am married is good enough even though my passport and Texas ID weren’t. BOOM MY BRAINS ARE SPLATTERED EVERYWHERE. He told me that since I could prove I was married that was good enough for him. Except they still refused to put my maiden name (aka my LEGAL MIDDLE NAME) on my license because that is not cool – you should only have your husbands name. Whatever, I numbly accepted the license (because you have to get a new license when you move to a new state otherwise I would proudly carry my Texas license that was absolutely no trouble to get FOREVER) and got the hell out of there before they decided I was, in fact, a terrorist. Oh yeah, because several times in the conversation the DMV manager told me that they couldn’t give me a license even with all my identification because terrorism. TERRORISM.

After I left, I spent the next several hours on the phone with my Mother and Grace freaking the hell out about all I had just been through. Then, because I can be a real asshole about principle, I decided to do some research to see if other state DMVs would have given me such trouble. The answer is no. A valid passport and state license would have been more than enough for literally every other state. No marriage license needed. And then my brain exploded again. The end.

Cue the Fireworks and Exploding Brains, Please

6627903160d69678267f88bc2225dab4Good afternoon, kittens! As you may have noticed, all has been quiet at Spinsters over the last few months. That’s do to a few reasons, honestly–Mae recently moved to Nebraska with her love, Kate has been absolutely swamped in her corporate day job, and I…

Well, I’ve been really happy, y’all.

Since marrying Professor McGregor last winter, life has been a charmed existence of singing bluebirds and hazy weekends of love/pie. Well, mostly. I was also finishing, then defending my dissertation, and trying to form A Grand New Life Plan. Most blog posts would have been me rambling about how cozy yoga pants are (Why can’t I just wear them always!? Why!?) and waxing poetic about Oxford commas. No one wants to read the innermost thoughts of a lovestruck, pajama-clad, academically addled newlywed. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to write any of those thoughts either. So, I waited for something else to come along. I waited for something that made me so rabidly, bone-crunchingly angry that I either had to write about it or storm out of the house on a quest to kill and maim and destroy.

Then, of course, it happened. One can only go so long without running into a troll. This troll took the guise of a kindly grandmother from California, emailing me about my sewing blog.* In the sweetest, gentlest of ways, she informed me that I was doing myself a disservice by wearing floral dresses and posing cutely for my blog. A woman with a Ph.D. needed to stop discrediting herself with all this “twee” nonsense, grow up, and start wearing pants. The feminists of the seventies did not fight for equality of industry, so that I could wear flowers, infantilize myself, and pose with pointed toes. Perhaps I didn’t understand feminism, she intimated, because surely I was doing it wrong.

So…that happened. Once I’d scraped all the brain goop off my walls, I was properly enraged. I showed the email to Professor McGregor, complete with wild gesticulations and loud scoffs of disbelief. I called Mae, read it aloud to her, and ranted for an hour about demonizing the feminine. That conversation then devolved into mutual complaints about how fucking far away Nebraska is, because AARGH BEST FRIENDS SHOULD NEVER MOVE AWAY. ALSO, FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT WAS KIND OF A PHILANDERING ASSHOLE AND WHY DO ONLY MEN HOST LATE NIGHT TV SHOWS AND I AM SO TIRED OF BABY PICTURES. MAKE THE WORLD STOP BEING AWFUL!

If you’ve been timing how long I could go on being pleasant, without flights of righteous indignation or virtual stomping about, press the stop button now. Six months is my official limit. While I am incandescently happy with Professor McGregor and the home we’ve made, my patience with society is sapped. Hello, my name is Grace. I’m a comically angry blogger and I’ve missed you. Would you like to hear my feelings on gender reveal parties and professional football? Stay tuned.  

*Explanation for the uninitiated: In the non-anonymous world, I also write a sewing blog, on which I post the aforementioned floral dresses and periodically rant about fashion. It’s neat.

The Cult of Side Eye: Fame and Blogging

4ed52b7429991528e46b0e4881512045This morning was a waste. Instead of curing male pattern blandness or writing the Next Great American Cocker Spaniel Novel, I hunted virtual big game. There were villains, unleashing side eye on the innocent, and they must be stopped!

You see, this isn’t my only home on the internet. Away from our wonderful world of sarcastic ranting, I run a small, personal sewing blog. It’s not exactly revolutionary stuff – pretty dresses, witty commentary, and sewing pattern reviews – but I love doing it. Unlike other parts of the internet, the sewing community is almost universally supportive, which provides a lovely mental respite. In the four years I’ve been writing it, there’s been nary a death threat nor a hateful body snark in the comment section. Meanwhile, my first big post for Spinsters earned both, in less than two days.

Unfortunately, checking my stats this morning was a wake-up call. A handful of people found my little slice of paradise, thanks to a site called Get Off My Internets. Despite an hour of perusing threads, I couldn’t find the link itself, but instead discovered an entire side of blogging previously unexplored. This is a site, complete with its own blog and forum, dedicated to making fun of other bloggers. There are threads for all the most popular blogs around, in which people discuss, tear down, and debate every aspect of those bloggers’ posts. From what I could glean, before running away screaming, a lot of that involves speculation about these bloggers’ personal lives. It’s a supremely meta, worldwide burn book. 

It’s, also, fucking terrifying.

First off, blog hate is understandable. The first rule of writing is that universal adoration is a pipe dream. People will find you annoying for all sorts of reasons, no matter how inoffensive your work seems. That’s just fine. I’m a believer in feeling your feelings, as Kate and Mae can tell you. (They’ve had to listen to this motto a thousand times, at least.) If your feelings say that I’m a man-hating socialist, that’s cool. Personally, I think have some redeeming qualities, but you can’t win ‘em all. What scared me about this site wasn’t the hate itself, but the in-depth research and dissection happening in its forums.

There were threads debating whether someone had gained weight, because she was pregnant, or just because she’d eaten too many of her picture-perfect cupcakes. People discussed the financial details of bloggers, down to how much their husbands made at their jobs, and the imprudent travel habits of one D-I-Yer. The attacks were personal, detailed, and sounded like the most salacious tabloid headlines. Only…they weren’t attacking celebrities. They were attacking normal people, who happen to blog.

Is there no longer a line between blogger and celebrity? There’s no denying that the internet is a public forum, of course. We write with the knowledge, often with the hope, that other people will come along and read our work. And yet, most of us don’t blog out of a desire for fame. The statistics are just too dismal. There are millions upon millions of blogs, filling every niche from snarky twenty-something feminism to anthropomorphic basket-weaving. The number of bloggers who have earned traditional fame–TV show, movie contract, book deal sort of fame–is scant in comparison.

We started Spinsters out of a desire for community. Kate, Mae, and I would meet for dinner and rehash all of the ridiculous things that we’d experienced that week, from workplace sexism to dating disasters. Our stories were normally funny, but also touched on what being a modern, single, twenty-something meant. We decided to blog, out of a suspicion that those experiences were common to other women like us and should be shared. Since then, our lives have changed quite a bit–from promotions, to big moves, to marriages–but we still blog for the same reason. We believe that speaking out, that sharing our rants, reminds other young women that they’re not alone. Plus, it’s really fun to wax poetic about beards every now and again.

Who’s to say that other bloggers, who may now be popular through their efforts, didn’t also begin out of a sense of community? Surely, it’s one thing to dissect people who put their lives out there for actual media consumption, for traditional fame, and another entirely to denigrate normal people who are sharing things on the internet. In this modern age, when so much of what we everyone does is on the web, that harsh spotlight could fall on so many perfectly innocent people.

There is a reason we blog anonymously. Originally, I thought it was to protect us from the censure of friends and family, but maybe the world at large is more the threat. If one lifestyle blogger is open to weight comments and financial dissection from a community of haters, why couldn’t three funny harpies be next? The internet is a fish bowl. I suppose it makes sense that, somewhere out there, piranhas are lurking. We have been warned.

- Grace

Coincidentally, my dad just sent me this video of celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves on Jimmy Kimmel. It seems remarkably apropos, no?

The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever

1282199049757270I don’t know when the epiphany came—whether during my third night of uncontrollable sobbing or the hundred year flood—but it was clear and true: Professor McGregor and I had the worst honeymoon ever. I would like to say it was all my fault, but no matter how hard I try, I’ve yet to control the weather or checked baggage or broken toilet seats. The sobbing, though, was definitely all me.

Darlings, there is a reason people fantasize about beach honeymoons. They’re easy! Hop on a plane, get picked up by a resort shuttle, then happily sip neon drinks under an umbrella for seven days. It’s a good recipe. Unless, of course, you’re the type who poo-poos this whole fancy umbrella thing in favor of exploration and the ever-present excitement of “Will there be bedbugs in this hotel room?” Spoiler alert: the professor and I are the latter type. Instead of a nice, relaxing trip to a warm beach, we went to Ireland. In the middle of winter. Without hats.

To be fair, Dublin was utterly lovely for the first week. The sun was shining. it softly rained a handful of times, and the people were doggedly friendly. Unfortunately, I spent that week 100% convinced that I would drop dead on the cobblestones at any moment. Omnipresent fear of your Untimely Doom does put a damper on romantic strolls, kittens. Our second day in Ireland, I was hit by these odd lightheaded spells, accompanied by nausea and fatigue. Then it happened again on the third day, then the fourth, and so on. Luckily, I had enough medical knowledge to know what was up: I was experiencing symptoms of DVT—thanks to use of birth control—and a blood clot was going to travel to my lungs, turn into a pulmonary embolism and kill me dead. There were no other possibilities. (She said in a fearful, crazed tone to her beloved at 3 AM.)

On one hand, my legs weren’t achy or swollen and there were zero chest pains, but on the other…THESE THINGS CAN BE ASYMPTOMATIC. I WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE ON MY HONEYMOON AND LEAVE A GRIEF-STRICKEN PROFESSOR BEHIND ALL BY HIMSELF. HE WOULD THEN, HAUNTED BY MY MEMORY, TURN INTO A BITTER, ANGRY WIDOWER WHO KICKED BABY ARMADILLOS AND NEVER TRAVELED OR FELT JOY AGAIN AND IT WAS ALL MY FAULT FOR BEING AFRAID OF BABIES! *SOB* By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, and I’d been unable to sleep for three nights in a row for fear of my imminent corpsehood, Professor McG had the hotel find an open minor emergency clinic and shuttled me to a Dublin suburb to check things out. After all sorts of tests, I was pronounced completely fine, except for the prolonged lady dark times I’d also been experiencing. Exact prescription: “Rest and eat red meat. You’re probably vitamin-deficient from all the blood pouring from your uterus. Duh.”

images (1)By the time I felt better, it was our day to depart Dublin for the picturesque western coast. Galway, our destination, was famous for its seaside village shops and proximity to amazing natural wonders, like the Cliffs of Moher. We were going to experience real Ireland, by walking on bluffs and drinking tea in cutesy tea shops! It was going to be…awesome hit by a once-in-a-century winter storm! Yes, we arrived in Galway, just in time to be hit by Winter Storm Christine. Fun fact: when they name the weather system that’s about to hit you, the scenic cliffs turn into terrifying death traps. The cutesy tea shop I’d been stoked about? Flooded. The lovely seaside walk? Under water. The meandering stroll to city center from our hotel? Aided by 70 mph wind gusts and sideways hail. Adventures!

Even better, the “four star” hotel we were staying at made Motel 6 look posh. We arrived to a suspiciously stained comforter, broken-in-half toilet seat, and one of those king beds that is really just two twins, with a totally comfortable metal bar joining them together. Trip Advisor had let us down in a rather epic manner. Adventures!

Honestly, the list of travel disasters that hit us could be a mile long. Delta lost my baggage on the way back the States, Irish cashiers were utterly flummoxed by our chipless credit cards, and my umbrella was defenseless against winter storms. And yet…we had a blast.

shameless-honeymoon-movie-poster-9999-1010429406Through fear of my untimely demise and hurricane force breezes, Professor McGregor made me laugh and smile and fall in love with him all over again. He twice walked to the pharmacy to retrieve lady devices (tampons, yo), made sure I was always in reach of hot chocolate, and assured me over and over again that I had not ruined our honeymoon with my weird illness. And you know what? He was right. We had so much fun! It turns out that Irish food is really good, we both look fetching in wool hats, and getting away together was a much needed respite…even with all the crying. Plus, my beloved left with a new favorite whiskey and I with intimate knowledge of the Irish medical system.

So, perhaps I should revise: Professor McGregor and I had the best worst honeymoon ever. 

-Grace

P.S. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and congratulations on my last post! The wedding went off without a hitch – lovely weather, lovely food, and lovely conversation. Just like we wanted.

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I’m Sorry My Name Change Inconvenienced You. Oh Wait, Nope.

Changing my last name to my husband’s was a decision of convenience. My maiden name is almost impossible for anyone who does not speak Welsh to pronounce and after a lifetime of correcting people’s pronunciation of it, I was relieved/exicted to change my last name to something that was easy for everyone to say because it’s so recognizable (Holla is you share a last name with a notable historical figure everyone learns about in school).

But then actually doing it, changing my name, became one of the most frustrating and painful processes of my life. The entire thing is impossible and ridiculous and probably qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. Like, if someone keeps committing crimes, you should punish them by having to change their name every 6 months because then they will never commit a crime again. Basically, I just solved habitual crime in America.

This process has been excruciating. Between filling out all of the forms (so so many of them), and mailing things, and showing up for pictures, and providing proof that I am who I say I am and that I did in fact get married, and then waiting the exact number of days you have to wait, and then getting a letter that the powers that be got my letter and are sending me a letter in acknowledgement of that letter and that in 2-8 weeks I will be the proud owner of all kinds of new cards, and oh yeah, once you get them here are a bunch of other forms you have to fill out to notify everyone of your new name, and WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP?

I could have bought a gun every 4 hours for the months it took me to do all this and I would have had all of the guns in the world and no one would have so much as asked what my maiden name was. I’m just sayin.

But finally, finally, I got through it. At least, most of it. I’m at the part now where I have to notify insurance, banks, etc. of my name change. So, I email HR at my job and let them know about my new legal name.

And then I got an email that went a little something like this:
“Do we really have to do this? Can’t we just leave your name as is? This is a huge hassle for us.”

Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize changing my name was a hassle. Is it a hassle? It’s been as pleasant as eating peach pie for me. I’m so sorry this inconveniences you. Oh wait, nope, I’m not. MOTHERFUCKER.

- Mae

The Things We Do For Pretty.

You guys. Have you ever thought about the thing you do to achieve that seemingly elusive “pretty”? I had never really given my “pretty” routine a good thinking on until recently – but then I did – and now….now I just can’t believe all the things I do for “pretty”.

I eat at least an ounce of walnuts every morning. I don’t particularly like walnuts. But I eat them because I read that they make your skin “pretty”.

I drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water as soon as I wake up every morning. It’s not horrible, but I don’t love it. Again, I read this will make both your skin and hair “pretty”.

I spend hours upon hours researching tips/tricks/advice on how to be “pretty”.

I can not honestly remember the last time I wasn’t on a diet. Because it is so ingrained in my psyche that skinny is “pretty”.

I constantly fuss with my hair because I want it to look “pretty”.

I spend a disgusting amount of money on products that will make me “pretty”.

I spend hours hating myself because despite all of the above, in my eyes, I’m failing at being “pretty”.

FUCK PRETTY. Seriously, fuck it. What about healthy? What about confident? What about intelligent, and funny, and thoughtful, and caring, and compassionate, and kind, and loving? What am I doing to on a daily basis to achieve those things?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to start neglecting my hygiene and do nothing but sit around watching old episodes of Veronica Mars. Ok, so yes, I do plan on watching a lot of Veronica Mars, but I’m also going to do other things. Things that fulfill my desire to be healthy, confident, intelligent, funny, thoughtful, caring, compassionate, kind, and loving. Because fuck pretty y’all. There are so many better things than pretty.

- Mae

I Miss The City, Roach Friend

movingA funny thing happens, when you fall in love. You start spending as much time as possible together—cooking lovely meals, educating your beloved on Mean Girls because he’s somehow never seen it, and gazing happily into each other’s corneas. It’s delightful. It is also the first step on the path to that great relationship milestone: living together.

Professor McGregor and I, much to the scandal of his grandmothers, have reached this sinful destination. We are living together. Since his job is tied to being at a certain university, I made the move. Armed with boxes of books and novelty fabrics, I trekked the 90 miles up Interstate 35 and into Professor McGregor’s delightful 1950s bungalow. This also meant leaving the wonderful, eclectic city I grew up in for a blue collar crossroads town of about 80,000 people. Cue the cultural shellshock. I quite like our little town, but it has been a change.

Readers, I miss Persian food.

That may actually be an understatement. Readers, I would sell my soul and half of my pre-censorship Nancy Drew collection for some sour cherry rice and properly made flat bread. When the dear professor and I go out to eat, we have three options: Mexican food (because this is Texas, not the hinterlands), Italian food, or American food. That’s it! If it’s from an Eastern continent, forget about it. Only heathens would want to eat curry! Saffron is the spice of the very, very delicious devil!  I’m now one of those people who, when traveling, insists on eating things I can’t get at home. Upon visiting Kate last weekend, I even turned down my beloved Dallas street taco place, because surely there was something more exotic. Namely: German food, French sandwiches, and my weight in pastries.

That’s alright, though, really. The professor is a pretty wonderful cook and has promised to make foreign foods for me. At least, my new town has good grocery stores and other places to pick up things on a whim. Except, of course, anything that looks like an upscale beauty store. You know all that fancy makeup we’ve waxed poetic about on Spinsters? I have to order it online. Along with my shampoo and detangler and cardigans and pants and thread, because even the JoAnn Fabrics here is small and terrifying. I’m pretty sure it’s staffed by quilted gargoyles, not humans. When I asked for Swedish tracing paper last week, one of them growled at me. The days of fashion emergencies—”This outfit will only work with a ribbon-trimmed puce skirt!”—are gone. If Target or Loft doesn’t have it, I’m out of luck.

You know what we do have, instead? Giant effing roaches, like the one that just now crawled in our house from the back porch, when I opened the sliding door. Sure, the city has roaches, but they aren’t allowed to get chihuahua sized! I swear to God this one is five inches long and wearing fingers. As I am sitting here, boarded into my office, it’s out there in the living room waiting for me. It’s because I bought that bug throw pillow, isn’t it? The roach is punishing me for cultural misappropriation.

If Professor McGregor doesn’t get home soon, I’m either going to die of thirst or brave the walk to the kitchen, be surprised by the mutant roach, scream, and have it fly into my mouth. Upon whence, I will die of a terror-induced heart attack. This is life away from the big city.

This is love.

- Grace