The First Day Upon The Year

Yesterday started The Days Upon the Year, or the Days outside of time.  It’s the five days preceding the Kemetic New Year, which Erin and I made a point of really celebrating this year.  It’s a time when Osiris, Horus the Elder, Set, Isis, and Nephthys are born. It’s a time where Ra, the Sun God, has no control over the happenings of the planet, so a lot of things can happen.

I’ve been feeling the energy building over the last few weeks, and last night, we set up our shrine to the five and lit the candle before Osiris, said a blessing and a prayer, lit some incense and then spent some time in quiet reflectiveness and colored.  We listened to some relaxing music and just enjoyed our time in peace.

Things have been in a constant state of shift here, which I guess is to be expected with the spiritual new year upon us.  The only constant in this world is change, right?  That’s what my minister always says.

When we got back from our honeymoon (which has one more blog update, and we just got our photos back so I can finish it hopefully this week), we immediately got all of our name change stuff done.  We went to the DMV and the SSA office and had zero problems getting everything changed like we needed to.  We’ve printed out the forms to update our passports, gotten our work names updated (I have a new e-mail address with school!), and then opened up a joint bank account.

We re-examined our debt.  Rather than trying to tackle it separately, we’ve decided to tackle it together.  We took every last penny of debt we had (including Erin’s school loans, car payment, and the mortgage) and put them all into a spread sheet before organizing them from smallest to largest.  We looked at how much we were paying on each compared to the minimum balance and then reduced all except the smallest to the minimum payment.  The extra money is all going towards the smallest bill, which happens to be Erin’s braces.

After that is paid of, which will be the end of August, we will move on to the second largest bill, which is the Best Buy credit card.  That should be paid off in September.

At this rate, we’ll have all of the credit card debt paid off by the end of next year, which is a huge deal for us.  This means that we’ll be able to start seriously getting into family planning at the end of next year at the latest.  I could start resurrecting my fertility blog once that gets closer because I don’t want to really get into all the fertility stuff here.

We have an interesting chain of events occur here, as well.  Erin and I have a friend, my best friend actually, who will be moving into our spare room in the next couple of months.  It’ll put her closer to her job and give us a little bit of extra income via her rent payment (which is ridiculously low), which we will be putting entirely towards the debt.  We don’t need her to move in with us to stay afloat, but she needs a place and we’d like to be out of debt sooner rather than later, so we both get helped out in this case.

At this point, Erin won’t be going to Germany, which I’m both happy and sad about.  Happy because I won’t be without her for a month to two months, but sad because she was looking forward to traveling outside of the country.  Now, I’m working on plans to go back to Germany (probably not this summer, but maybe next summer or the summer of 2017).  We want to go to Europe before we have children.  Erin has never been, and I want to take her there.  I want to show her the world, literally, and I plan on doing the best I can.

We’ve been looking into our next summer vacation, and we’ve found a couple of places in the Florida Keys that we’re interested in maybe going to for a week and then hitting up Harry Potter World on the way back in Orlando…

The only problem with these plans?  Graduate school.

Erin will be right in the thick of her second year classes, and if I get accepted into Clemson, I will be in my third semester of graduate classes as well.  It could be that we’re too busy to really go on anything fancy next year, but we’re looking into it just the same.

Speaking of Clemson, I got all my paperwork into the University, so now I’m just waiting to hear back from them.  Their summer term ends in August, and the fall one one starts in August, so I expect to hear from them in the next week or two before getting thrown head first back into the educational learning sphere.  I’m really excited, honestly.  This will provide me with my second masters, the ability to teach at the University level if I ever wanted to, and a really nice bump in pay.  By this time next year, I’ll have enough hours to bump into the next pay level, and that will be amazing.

It’s really the only pay grade that worth it in the educational system.  The only one above the Masters +30 is the doctorate level pay, and the amount of money you make there isn’t worth the extra effort it takes to get the doctorate.  If I ever decided to get a doctorate, I’d leave the classroom and go work in policy or university settings so that I could help the next generation of teachers become better teachers.

As for my teaching job, it’s starting back up week after next, but I’m going to be going to the school the next few days to work on getting my classroom set up.  I have a floater coming into my room during one of my planning periods, so I will have to keep myself really organized this year…

… This should be interesting.

Erin’s probably going to start laughing after reading that line.  My version of organized is… well… not very organized to the general eye of the beholder… and with someone else coming into my room on a daily basis, I’m going to have to keep it clean.

Stop laughing, Erin.  It’s what I have Beta Club students for (to clean my room for volunteer hours).

Aside from that, my last week at my summer job is next week.  I will be going back to the first Saturday of the month to keep me on the schedule.  I’ll still be able to open up during breaks and such if I want to, but if graduate school gets to be too much, I may have to let the job go next summer, which will be a little sad since I’ve been working there for almost a year now.

We’ve been working on not being lazy at home.  We’ve gotten a lot of our wedding photos hung up around the house and we’re working on getting our ancestor shrine up on the walls (we have the frames, now we need to get the pictures printed in black and white).  There is just stuff everywhere right now.  We’re cleaning out the spare closet, organizing wedding gifts, getting stuff put away (slowly), and just working on getting the house back into order.

Like I was saying earlier, this time of the year is a time for great changes and a time when the Evil One (Apep), whose name we don’t speak aloud, can try to come out into the world and cause a lot of problems.  There’s been a lot of chaos that we’re working on getting back into order with all the stuff we have going on, and today we had an interesting experience…

When we got home from the store, the house was really dark.  It wasn’t like a darkness that was normal either.  It was a darkness that felt like it was pressing in on us.  I didn’t mention anything at first until I started rubbing on my anxiety.  When I told Erin about it, she said that she felt the same way.

I said, “What if it’s the evil one?  The uncreated one??”

We turned on a lot of the lights to banish him and then it felt a lot better in the house.

Holy Cow, it’s nearly 2AM… I need to go to bed.

Honeymoon Part 3: St. Kitts and Puerto Rico

IMG_1630On day three, we woke up already docked in the port.  Erin and I got up an had a large breakfast, as usual, and then got our stuff from the room before heading downstairs.  This was our bus tour and private beach day.  When we got off the ship, there was a lot of people around holding signs to tell us where we needed to go.  It wasn’t time for our excursion yet, so we decided to wander around the city for a little bit and see what there was to see.

We made it a point NOT to carry cash around with us because we knew people would be trying to get money from us at every turn.  The day before, we’d been stopped at every turn by people wanting us to rent chairs or umbrellas or buy jewelry or anything else they were selling.  We used the “we don’t have any cash on us” as an excuse to get away quickly from people who were heckling us.

When we walked into the square at St. Kitts, there were groups of people around.  One of them approached us and IMG_1638plopped a monkey in Erin’s arms.  We told him no, and that we didn’t have any money, but he just told me to take some pictures and then switched the monkey to my arms and told Erin to take some pictures.  We told him again that we didn’t have any money.  He looked shocked, pointed us at an ATM at the casino, and then told us it was $20 total.

Excuse me? What?

IMG_1642“Unfortunately,” the casino wasn’t open.  We went around to a back path, and walked up along side the main area completely avoiding the guy, and then cut back onto the main street again.  We went out to the main road where we learned three really interesting things: very little was in English first, all the cars were on the opposite side of the road, and the steering wheels were all on the opposite sides as well.  I took as many pictures as I could that I could get to be clear.

We went hat shopping and I bought a bag.  I tried on almost every single hat at the store until I found one that fit my head.  I have the hardest time finding hats that fit me because my hair is so thick and my family has a “big head” IMG_1658problem, so they almost never fit.   BUT I found one and it was super floppy, and those were my two requirements: super floppy and fits.

When our time came to meet for the bus to go on our tour, we cut around to the back again to avoid monkey-man and then made a break for it to the gate.

We’re standing in a line after confirming we were in the right place.  Then, this native guy, who is black with these pretty kick ass dreads comes up to us as the group and directs us to his bus, which is actually his van and he’s joking around with the other bus drivers, and there are people all around like, “Hey, welcome onboard the blah blah blah wagon” in their super thick accents.

I lean over to Erin and say, “Do you feel like we’re in the middle of a Sense 8 episode?”

IMG_1662Her eyes got all wide, “Oh my gosh! Yes!  I was just about to say that!”

We got a really awesome tour of the surrounding area.  They drove us all the way up to the top of a mountain, stopped the bus, let us get out and take pictures, and then we went down the other side to a private beach where we spent the rest of the day snorkling and gathering shells and trying to even out our sunburns.

When it was time to go, we got back on the bus and headed back to the ship.  We got something to eat, avoided the entrance again, and then headed back to the ship about an hour or so before it took off.IMG_1701

The next day was Puerto Rico.  We didn’t get an excursion because my dad had told us about these forts that were walking distance from the pier.  We got up early, had breakfast, and left the ship for San Juan.  From the dock, I could see a fort, so we started walking towards it.  Everything…. Literally, everything…. was in Spanish.  It was amazing.

“It’s funny.” I said.

“What is?” Erin asked.

“That we had to go all the way to Puerto Rico to feel like we’re in a completely different country…”

IMG_1745“And it’s part of the United States?” She finished.

I laughed, “yes, exactly.”

We went up to the fort and found out that it didn’t open until nine, so we walked across to another fort, and by the time we got there, it was open.  We paid and walked around, read a lot about the Spanish-American War, took a lot of pictures.  There was a cat that was super friendly that we wanted to take home with us, but didn’t think that we could hide her in the ship… or in my bag… or anywhere, really.  She was young.IMG_1766

After the fort, we walked down through a neighborhood onto the main shopping district.  We stopped at a church and then I decided that I wanted a Jesus statue.  We went through a few stores and I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so we went up to the other fort.

IMG_1831They’re almost identical, and we didn’t have a lot of time, so we didn’t go through every part of it in detail.  The worst part of the cruise was that they gave us the least amount of time in the place where we had the most to do.  On our way to the gate, we started talking about our plans to come back and explore the area more.  We’d love to spend a week or more there and explore San Juan more and then go outside the city some and explore everywhere.

We got back on the ship and decided to get room service as the ship pulled out.  We showered, sat around in our bathrobes, ate food, drank, took pictures from our balcony, watched movies, and just spent time together.  We got dinner late, went to a movie, got pizza afterwards, and then went to bed.

 

The New Year is Upon Us

And boy oh boy does it feel AMAZING!

Wep Ronpet and Zep Tepi are approaching soon.  For this area, Zep Tepi is on August 6th, which means that Wep Ronpet begins on August 1st.  Zep Tepi is the Kemetic New Year and Wep Ronpet are the five calendar days that come before it that are the five days that aren’t actually part of the year.  They’re set apart from the rest of the year as the birthdays of Wesir, Heru-wer, Set, Aset, Nebt-het.

I can always feel the energy building as these days get closer and closer.  The desire to clean and organize and center…. So much happens as new creation begins to take place while other creations are coming to an end.

This year, Erin and I are going to celebrate each day with gifts and a big dinner on Zep Tepi.  We’re going to cultivate some family traditions.

The amazing thing that I’m noticing this year is the closing and opening of different events that are happening in my life.

First, last year I was was super baby crazed.  I wanted a kid more than anything else in the world and was getting seriously jealous of people who had kids and were getting pregnant so easily.  Now, I feel those emotions slipping out of me.  I’m no longer jealous.  I’m enjoying where I am now and living in this moment here with my wife.

Secondly, there’s so many things that are growing in my life.  We’re paying down our debt and have a solid plan to make it happen within two years, the elementary program at church is getting stronger every week, the high school program at the church is setting up a Wednesday evening group that they want me to help plan and get going, we’re working on a middle school program and strengthening the nursery program, but that’s not the most exciting thing…

I spoke to the minister today after service and not only did he agree… but he’s excited and wants me to organize….

A PAGAN SPIRIT CIRCLE WITHIN THE CHURCH!  Holy cow!  I’m so excited and blessed to have this opportunity to bring more Paganism into Unity and have the support and love there to make it happen.  There is truly no other church in the area that is this loving and accepting.

The new year is coming and so many GOOD things are happening!

Equilibrium

One of my “blogger girls,” aka the girls I follow in the TTC community, just recently had her baby. I looked at her smiling face and her squishy newborn. I scrolled through and saw all the baby pictures from everyone that had been posted and I felt…

…Happy. 

I felt happy for her and her wife. I felt happy for their families and their friends…

…and I felt happy for myself, that it wasn’t me. 

Usually I get this feeing that I’m happy but in a jealous sort of way, but not this time. I was genuinely happy for her with not a single ounce of jealousy in my body. 

Why?

Because I am so so so glad that Erin and I don’t have kids right now. We have each other, and that’s all I want right now. We want to go and do so many things… We want to go to Europe (if Erin goes to Germany with her client for a month or two, I may see about going and visiting her while she’s over there).  

She’s in graduate school for another years and when I get my acceptance to Graduate school in a couple weeks (because I have little doubt about my acceptance), then I will be going for my second masters and that’s another two years. 

We don’t plan on waiting two years, but Erin being out of school is ideal. We don’t want to have to worry about finding child care or baby friendly things to do right now. I’m feeling selfish with my time with Erin. 

I want to spend all the time I can with her, and a baby would change that. It wouldn’t be bad, just different, and I’m not wanting different right now. Not yet. 

I haven’t felt this at peace with my childlessness in a long time. My infertility isn’t weighing down on me. My urge to procreate isn’t bubbling over into massive bouts of negative emotions. 

I’m so glad Erin and I chose to wait after our first attempt didn’t work so that we could focus on our wedding and having the time of our lives on our honeymoon, which I promise I will write more about soon. Things have just been so busy here recently that I haven’t had the time. 

I don’t know how this peace came over me, but it has and I’m going to hold on to it for as long as I can!

Quickie Before Bed

I haven’t forgotten about my honeymoon updates.  I promise more pictures are coming soon!  We were vacationing for 14 days, so there’s a lot more to tell.

The last few days have been really crazy and busy.  Erin got a raise at work.  She also found out that one of her clients is moving to GERMANY and that she may be going over there for some amount of time to train the new therapists.  She may also end up going over there once a month for maintenance purposes, but it’s all up in the air right now.  The bottom line is that she’s going to get her passport updated with her new name so that she can go to Germany if she ends up needing to.

We went to the bank today and talked to a financial guy about setting up a new JOINT checking account and getting our names changed there so that we could get our names changed at our jobs…. including our direct deposit stuff.

He told us about new thing they are doing called the Better Balance Credit, where there’s 0% interest the first year and if you make more than the minimum payment, the bank will give you $120 extra a year.  We’re hoping that Erin gets approved with a high enough amount that she will be able to do a cash advance on the card and we’ll pay off mine and then payoff the big payment a lot faster without any interest for a year.  Even if she doesn’t get the amount we need, zero interest for a year is less than what I’m paying on my debt now, so it will help.

I’m so happy that she’s willing to do so much to make sure that we’re both taken care of.  If she gets approved for the full amount, this could me a lot of open doors to us a lot sooner than we’d expected… because we could get the debt paid off faster and then use that line of credit to start fertility treatments and BUY SPERM!  Because the bank we are looking at using now is higher priced, but they have better reviews.

This is huge stuff for us!  So I’m super excited!

But more tomorrow (hopefully).  Night!

Unity and the Confederate Flag

Erin and I attend the local Unity church.  We use to go to the UU in town because they have a Pagan group associated with them, but we almost never heard the minister give a message, and the messages we were hearing weren’t spiritual to us, they were humanist (and we’re not very humanist).  We wanted the Gods’ energy in our lives, and we weren’t getting it there.  Then we found out we can go to the Pagan meetings without being a member of the church, so we stopped going.

I’m a member of the Earth Spirit group at the UU church, just not the UU church itself, but we haven’t been to any of the meetings, mainly because I can’t ever seem to figure out when they are and then I don’t know what the topics are, so we just haven’t really gone.  We’ve been meaning to, though, and we probably will at some point.  We attend the Pagan Pride event every year that’s held at that church though, and we enjoy it.

But we absolutely love Unity, and Unity accepts us as not only a lesbian couple, but also as a Pagan one.  We aren’t the only pagans in attendance, and I’m in the possible early stages of starting a pagan spiritual group within in the church itself.  We’re also looking at possibly starting one or two services a year to specifically celebrate pagan holidays…  There’s lots of exciting things happening.

Before Erin moved down here, we attended Jubilee in Asheville and the UU here, but we felt more connected at Jubilee.  Unity is definitely the closest thing in the area to Jubilee, and it’s even more earth/spiritual based than Jubilee was because Jubilee read from the Bible every week.  Unity doesn’t do that, so we are even more at home.  It’s the perfect place, and I get everyone I can to go.  We’re growing, and it’s wonderful.

I’m in charge of the Youth Education there and the kids learn stuff about the Bible, but starting next month, they’re going to start learning other traditions too, which I am really looking forward to.  It’s an extremely strong program that I’m very proud to say I was a part of.

Anyway, I’m saying all of this because while we were on the cruise, something wonderful happened: Nikki Haley ordered the removal of the Confederate Flag from the state house grounds and have it sent to a museum, which is where a piece of history belongs anyway.  Erin and I were lucky enough to watch it from our cabin because we happened to have television at the time, so we got to watch it live.

The entire time, I was whooping and clapping and cheering from the couch.  Finally, Nikki Haley did something I didn’t disagree with and South Carolina isn’t fully being shit on for its choices.  The response on my Facebook feed about the entire thing has been really one sided on my side of the issue.  I guess this means one of two things: I’m not friends with any racist idiot assholes OR they’re just being smart for once and not saying anything.

Since I’ve started going to Unity, I’ve begun working on only focusing on the positive and letting go of all the negative around me.  Unity keeps itself out of politics for the most part, which I appreciate (because the UU can get overly political from time to time and it zaps all of my spiritual energy away when it does), but the church fully preaches that all life is part of the divine energy.  It teaches that there are certain spiritual laws or Truths, but that everything else is debatable and changeable and that they shouldn’t try to force their specific religious thought patterns on each other, and this is what I kept thinking about the government when that flag was coming down: South Carolina’s government as become slightly more neutral.  They’re not longer publicly supporting something that represents such a bad part of history.  They aren’t preventing others from flying the flag, but as a neutral government, they are no longer openly taking sides on the issue.

The Confederate Flag in South Carolina has an interesting history.  The Stars and Bars is actually a Confederate battle flag for the state of Virginia.  It has little to NOTHING to do with South Carolina in the first place, and it didn’t start flying on State House grounds until 1961.  Originally it was put up to commemorate the Civil War, but there was never a date to bring it back down, so it just kept flying ever since then… but something else was going on in 1961 too: South Carolina was being forced to integrate their schools, something South Carolina wasn’t really happy about.  It may just be a coincidence that the flag went up then and never came back down, but it’s a pretty interesting one….

On top of that, the flag has been used by the KKK as a symbol of white power, which is really racist.  Flying the confederate flag in the South is the equivalent of flying a Nazi flag in Germany… It represents a bad part of history, and it needs to go into a museum where it belongs.  You don’t see many Germans running around with Nazi flags, do you?  No.  Because they know better than to be that outwardly racist.

The Confederacy was formed because South Carolina started to get upset that non-slaveholding states were granting their escaped slaves freedom, which then denied them of their property.  They were worried that the federal government was going to continue to make antislavery laws that would cause them to lose their slaves and this ticked them off so they left.  Yes, it was about the states having the right to govern themselves, but it was because of slavery that the issue even came up.

If you don’t believe me, read the “this is why we’re leaving” article from South Carolina written in 1860 here.  Here’s a couple of highlights from it though if you’re curious:

  • “they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery”
  • “They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.”
  • “A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.
    This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
    On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.
    The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.”

There is zero… absolute zero… support that this so call “Confederate Flag” is a symbol of Southern Heritage and not racism or hate or slavery when the whole reason it exists in the first place is because the federal government said “Slavery bad” and the Southern States said, “Fuck you, we’ll leave so we can keep our slaves.”

It’s hate not heritage and I am SO glad it has come down!

Honeymoon Part 2: Two Days at Sea, St. Martin

On the way into the ship, they take your picture in front of a back drop of the ship.  The photographer said, “Can you and your sister come over here and I’ll get your picture?”

I half laughed, and the photographer caught it, “Is everything okay?”

I said, laughing, “She’s my wife.”  He apologized profusely, asked if we were honeymooning, congratulated us, took our picture, congratulated us again, and we walked up the ramp.

When we got on the ship, our room wasn’t ready for about an hour and a half to two hours, so we decided to go get lunch, which was included in the price.  They told us the food was on “Deck 9, Lido, Mid,” so we checked the map they gave us, found an elevator, and carried our carry on bags up to the lunch room.  They recommended we bring a carry on in case our bags didn’t get up to our room until later that evening, since you check them in and they deliver them to the rooms.

We had the option to spend extra money to get our bags up to our room before everyone else, but line karma example 1 and 2: when IMG_9728we got done with lunch, it was close enough to go to our room, so we went down to see if it was ready, and we dropped our bags off… when we went leave, Erin’s bag was waiting for us at the door when we opened.  We drug it back in and then went to go get a drink.  I was a little surprised that we didn’t have my bag yet, but I didn’t care.  When we went to go get a drink, the bar was closing down to get everyone to go to the safety briefing.  On the way to our muster station, we saw my bag outside the room, so we threw it it in there.

After the briefing, we were in the first group to leave, so we decided to go unpack.  The room right next to us was complaining because they’d paid the extra money… and their bags weren’t all in their room yet.  I felt really good about not spending that money.

We finally managed to get a drink and got to watch the ship pull completely out.  We walked around and got an idea of were everything was.  By this time, it was pushing dinner time.  We had picked the “your time dining” option so that we could chose if we wanted to go to dinner early or later, and we will do that in the future when we go on our next cruise.  We got dressed up, went do dinner, and then we we got back to our room the bed had been turned down and we got a print out of the next day’s activities… and Carnival makes these towel animals each night and leaves them on the bed, so it was always fun coming back and checking to see what was next.

IMG_9736That night, we went to a movie out by the pool, got a free glass of champagne at the adult night club, and then went to the LGBT meet up.  We didn’t really meet anyone, but we enjoyed the drinks.  Afterwards, we went back to the room and cleaned up our rum drink glasses from earlier in the day.  We’d ordered some alcohol to be placed in our room prior to the cruise starting and we brought on two bottles of champagne, so we cleaned up the classes from the bar (which we could carry anywhere on the ship), filled them with our own alcohol (which we weren’t technically supposed to do), and then left our room with our own alcohol.  It helped us save money.

We were also awarded some on board credit, which was nice.

The next day, we went to a Harry Potter Trivia event, a Thriller dance lesson, and then a digital scavenger hunt.  We teamed up with a guy who was named Ray, they gave us this list of 20 items an three or four bonus items.  We set off across the ship, snapping photos, laughing IMG_9800-0and running.  When we got back, we found out that we’d only missed two photos, one of which was a picture of a lifeboat that didn’t exist.  When she tallied up the results, she told us that not only did we win, but we had a score that was higher than any score that she’d ever seen, so not only were we getting trophies, she sent us a bottle of champagne to our room as well!

We then went to dinner and to a piano bar where you called out a song and the performer would play it on the piano and play it.

The next day, we had an excursion set up in St. Martin.  Of all the four ports, St. Martin was our least favorite.  There were two main streets in Phillipsburg, and one of them was all food.  The second was all jewelry, and we weren’t shopping for high end jewelry.  I have zero desire to buy a set of earrings for $60 or a $2,000 ring for the hell of it.  The people were so unbelievably pushy, too.  We were both worried by the end of it that we weren’t going to enjoy the other days if they were all like this.

Don’t get us wrong… St. Martin was beautiful.  We swam in the crystal clear ocean and bought some authentic local food, and just really enjoyed ourselves, but we were exhausted from all the awkward “no, thank yous” we kept having to tell everyone.  When we were leaving, we decided that we wanted to make shirts that said, “No, we don’t want jewelry.”  We had money, but this cruise was a $2,000 wedding present from my parents, so we didn’t have thousands of dollars to spend.

I got a little burned that day, and after all the running around town from the scavenger hunt we did, we both slept really well that night.

 

This is Not the End;

**Trigger warning: self-hate and self-harm**

Growing up, my family never really introduced me to “homosexuality” or “gay” people.  I was so sheltered that I didn’t even really know that being gay was something that even existed.

When I turned sixteen, I was going through a super hyper Christian phase in my life.  I was going to church with my friends multiple times per week, and it was in the middle of all this that I met someone, whose nickname was Amy.  I was a writer, she was multiple times published.  We talked for hours and hours and hours about everything, and that’s when I got this really absolutely crazy stupid silly thought.

Wow, I wish she was a boy because then I could actually date her and we could be together.  And then I was talking to a friend who called Amy this word that I had heard, but didn’t really understand fully…. He called her gay.  He told me she had feelings for me.  And I thought, “Really?  That’s possible?”

And then my friend point blank asked me if I had a crush on her.  And that’s when I realized I wasn’t straight.

I started struggling with my sexuality, and it was apparently a lot worse than I remember.  My brain has blocked out a lot of that time, but when Alex was in town, I was showing him my collection of Bibles (because I have a habit of collecting them), and I showed him my first Bible from when I was confirmed into the Presbyterian church… it was filled with bookmarks with bible verses…

And each verse highlighted a section in the Bible where it condemned homosexuality.

really, really hated myself at that time.

And I took a lot of that out on myself through cutting and eventually burning.  There were times when my legs looked like I’d gotten into a fight with a weed whacker and lost.  I have scars that litter my left arm from shoulder to wrist that remind me of a time when I felt so alone and hopeless that I just wanted to feel something… anything… and I chose pain at that time.

I self-harmed on and off from the time I was 16 to about four years ago when I got out of an unhealthy relationship and believed, for a time, that I had made a huge mistake and that what my ex said about me finding happiness ever being gone was true.  I hurt myself a lot during that time until I got help.  And I’m proud to say that I haven’t slipped into those habits since then, but with any addiction and bad habit, there are times when I still think about it… just like I think about smoking again… but I don’t do it.  I find some other source to release the energy I need to.

Yesterday, I went with Erin to a local tattoo parlor and got my ninth tattoo: a semicolon on my left wrist.  It’s part of the Semicolon Project.  The idea is that a semicolon is a place in writing where the author could have ended the sentence they were writing, but they decided to pause and then continue on.  The author is me and the sentence I am writing is my life.  The semicolon is a reminder to keep going.  It’s a reminder of where I’ve been and how far that I’ve come.  It’s also a sign to others that I’ve “been there and done that.”

I posted about it all on Facebook, and one of my former students who graduated this past year responded saying, “It made me feel safe knowing I had you to come and talk to if I ever needed to. Going through high school, your classroom was always a safe place. You understood that sometimes what we were going through was too much for us to have to worry about class that day. You’re the only teacher I’ve ever had that understands we have other classes and other projects and sometimes we needed more time. Thank you so much, Mrs. H****-H****! You are by far my favorite teacher that I will ever have.”

I definitely felt emotional after reading that.  This is why I do what I do… and why I’m not ashamed to have my first permanently visible tattoo (in that I can’t easily hide it like my other eight), even if it is the smallest I’ve ever gotten.

11749515_906910414119_1056890109_n

Elijah, the 8 Year Old Ferret

I was going to update more about our honeymoon today, but something happened today that tore me appart. 

Erin and I have a ferret who is 8 years old. This is very old in ferret years. He was given to me as a rescue by a student who had to get rid of him four years ago. We have had him ever since then. 

At the start of the summer, I took him to the vet where he was diagnosed with a form of cancer called insulinoma. Rather than do surgery, the vet opted for medication and comfort as there was little to no reason to subject such an old ferret to surgery. 

We left him with my parents while we went on our honeymoon. He’d been declining and I didn’t expect him to make it through the summer. 

When we got back, we picked him up the next day. My mom said he didn’t look good. He couldn’t use his back legs, he was covered in his own filth because he couldn’t get to the litterbox anymore, and he was developing sores all over his lower body. 

I called the exotic vet first thing this morning and by nine am, I was in their office waiting to go back. He was just laying in my hands, so completely tired. 

When they called me back, I saw it in the vet tech’s eyes. When the vet saw him, I knew. She gently lifted him out of the carrier and felt his abdomen: the cancer has spread to his spleen. 

It was time to say goodbye. 

I went out to the car and called Erin at work. She answered. I think she knew when I called her. I could hear it in her voice when she said hello. 

“It’s time, baby.” I choked through a tight throat and tears. “I need you to come to the vet. I don’t want to do this alone.”

She dropped everything at work and came. 

We held him and pet him and kissed him and told him we loved him and all I wanted to do was apologize over and over and over again for no reason. This was the right choice. He deserved some dignity in his death, and I didn’t want him to start having the end stage seizures that were next in his illness. 

I sat there, petting him, and he rested his head in my hand. How do we do this for our pets but call it murder or suicide when we have family in the same condition? How do we give dignity to our pets but not our parents? 

I cried. Erin cried. We held each other. I signed the papers, and they took him away. Because of his size, we couldn’t be with him in the end. They told us that they put him in a chamber to relax him and make him go to sleep before they gave him a shot to stop his heart. 

It was painless. 

She brought him back to us when it was all over, and we cried more. They placed him in a towel and then in a box and we took him to my parents’ house to be buried. Erin dug the grave and I sat in the swing with him and just listened to the windchime hit the same note over and over again like it was ringing out some sort of death toll.

Erin placed him in the grave, covered him, and placed the stone with my mom’s help. It was her way of closure, to do it all herself. I couldn’t. 

I came home after lunch. Erin went back to work. I slept for a few hours. 

I haven’t been able to focus since. 

This is the ferret that changed my mind about ferrets. He’s the reason we will probably always have them in our home. And now he’s gone… And our zoo is short one life. And it sucks. 

It really, really sucks. 

   
 

Honeymoon Part 1: Fort Lauderdale and Miami

Holy cow!  I may have to split this post up into different posts because there is so much to write about that I’m not sure I can do it all tonight before I pass out.  Today was an insanely busy day, and I had a lot less time than I was expecting to have.

Erin and I had an absolutely fantastic time on our honeymoon, but getting ready to leave ended up being a lot more daunting of a task than we originally expected it to be.  Erin and I have quite the zoo at our house.  We have five cats, one of them with special needs and another who is just a handful, two dogs, two rats, and three ferrets, one of which is pushing the upper limits on ferret age and has insulinoma.

We also have two different cacti plants (three different species), a mum, four orchids of two different species, a yellow flower I can never remember the name of, and a vine… When I started writing the letter to the guide to the running of our house, it took up three full pages, and that was only after I shrank the font size to make it all fit and fiddled with the margins.

We had a house sitter because that’s really the only way we were going to be able to go anywhere.  Once I got the letter completed, Alex and I started to run our errands, which included filling Elijah’s prednisone that he takes for his insulinoma twice a day and filling up my meds for my PCOS so that I can re-start the fertility process once Erin and I are both out of graduate school (or at least Erin; I’m hoping to go back sooner rather than later, and plan on looking into and possibly applying to Clemson for a Masters of Science soon).

We went to the library and picked up the fourth Harry Potter book on CD to listen to in the car on the drive down and back because we knew it was going to be a long one.  This turned out to be the single best decision for the journey that we made.  We (meaning I drug Alex along with me) also went to the church to make sure that Lucy, who is our office manager, had everything she would need for the next two weeks worth of lessons while I was gone.  I set up my “I’m out of the country” e-mail response and then we headed home.

At this point, I hadn’t even started packing… We dropped Alex off at the train station that night, and it was super, super sad to see him go.  I really wish we lived closer to each other.  He’s been my best friend since I was 16 years old, and it sucks that he lives so far away.

I basically just threw everything I owned into my suitcase and prayed that it would shut.  We got up super early in the morning, packed the car, and were on the road by six in the morning.  I started the driving, and we switched back and forth every couple of hours… around lunch, when we were just inside Georgia before making it to Florida, we noticed that our AC wasn’t working in the car.  It got so bad that we caved and took the car to a shop at a nearby exit.

The guys were fantastic.  They took us straight back, checked out the car, fixed the AC in about 45 minutes, and sent us on our way.  And we had a comfortable rest of our drive down to Fort Lauderdale.  We used a lot of our gift cards on the trip down for gas and food, so we didn’t really pay for anything the whole day.  We listened to Harry Potter and took turns napping, and the drive went by super fast and it wasn’t boring at all.  We will be getting books on CD from now on for our long trips.  They are fantastic.

IMG_9610

Amazing room!

If you have never heard of AirBNB.Com before, then you are missing out on life.  Staying in Fort Lauderdale or Miami for two nights was looking to cost us almost $300, but I went on AirBNB and found a beautiful room for $52/night.  They had a private pool, real comfy beds, and a quiet neighborhood.  I’m telling you… as long as Erin and I are pre-children, we will use AirBNB… and maybe even afterwards too.

The next day, we drove down to Miami, which I am glad we visited, but neither of us have much of a desire to return any time soon.  There’s absolutely no parking, and we spend most of our time trying to find ourselves a place to park.  Eventually, we found one of two garages (the one that didn’t cost $40), and we just parked and walked everywhere.

We started by going down to the beach so we could see the white sand and clear blue waters.  Neither of us had bathing suits, so we just waded out into the water in our clothes.  After that, we walked to the Holocaust monument and explored there before walking back to our car and deciding on a place to eat.

IMG_9705

Frog legs and alligator tail. Yum!

After driving around for forever to find a place to park so we could get food, we drove back to Fort Lauderdale, got food at a nice seafood restaurant (I had frog and alligator and scallops and shrimp.  YUM!), then headed back.  We spent some time in the pool, but we were so exhausted and the next day was cruise day, so we did a lot of sleeping too.

The next day, we got up, packed our stuff up, and headed over to the port.  I dropped Erin off at the curb and went to park the car.  When I got back, our luggage was taken care of and all we had to do was wait in a line that seemed to go on forever.

Erin ended up holding my carry on bag while I had hers and in each of our bags, we had a bottle of champagne, which we were allowed to bring on board, but Erin suffers from baby face and looks like she’s 18 or younger… 12 is the average, it seems.  When she put my bag through the X-Ray, they made her go over to the luggage claim and show the bottle to the security agent (they didn’t do this to me).

When I came up, the agent looked at me and said, “Where’s your alcohol?”

I had a bottle in my bag, but I didn’t feel like opening it for him if I didn’t have to, so I said, “Oh, I’m with her.”  I motioned to Erin.

“And you didn’t bring alcohol?” He said.

I laughed, “Yes, I did.  That’s my alcohol.”  I pointed at my bag in Erin’s possession.  “She’s carrying my bag and I’m carrying hers.”

IMG_9716

The line that never ended

He shook his head, disappointed.  I think he thought we should both have alcohol in our bags (which we did, but I didn’t feel like going through the trouble of opening my bag and letting more people get in line in front of us).  He let us go.

Then we got in the line that never ended; I lost our tickets; Erin found our tickets, we waited more…. Finally got to the front, got our picture taken, got our room keys and walked on board.  Our rooms weren’t going to be ready for another hour so we went up to deck nine, which is where most of the action was… It included the pool, most of the food, and two bars.

IMG_9723

The view from the door just outside our room.

They offered us lunch, so we got food (which was included in the cruise) and then afterwards, we got drinks, took our stuff to our room, relaxed and waited until we took off.

Our room was on deck ten at the end of the hall in the middle of the deck.  You could take five steps out of our door and be right in the middle of all the action, AND the room was so well sound proofed that you could never hear any of the action going on outside.  We were super close to drinks, food, entertainment, and fantastic views.

We spent two days at sea before getting to our first port of call, but I’m going to have to do more of this tomorrow because I’m exhausted…  Tomorrow, I’ll write about how we scored a lot of free alcohol on the ship and how we kept the costs down on our partying while at sea.  Lots of good tips if you ever plan on going on a cruise, just sayin’ :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers