Twas the Day After Christmas

and all through the house..people were sad and disheveled because they drank too much on Christmas.

This is the Hundsdorfer way. Yesterday morning began with early rising in the Baytlin Abode, grabbing presents and Bailey's, driving to Ma's house, making coffee (spiked with said Bailey's..and yes, it was 8:30 in the morning), baked homemade cinnamon rolls, opened presents, and had a raucous good time.

Before Ben and I left to go to his grandfather's for a small lunchtime meal (the first of two..ugh), Donald and Ella were playing around in the basement. Now keep in mind that Santa brought them each lots of great gifts. Were they playing with any of these gifts?! No. They were playing with a plastic Wal-Mart bag. Not even a bag that the gifts came in - a Wal-Mart bag that they found who knows where. And they played with this bag for half an hour. It was amazing and confirmed my belief that children don't need toys..they need packaging. I just sat there in awe, watching them play with this plastic bag. Amazing.

We went to Ben's fam's and it was peaceful and nice. Then we came back to my house where madness yet again ensued. This was the first year that we held family Christmas at my mom's house and it was a lot of fun. I know Ma was stressed out but she was remarkable (as usual). We played games (I won Farkle, justsayin') , drank gratuitous amounts of alcohol, and were often politically incorrect.

Anyway, the point is that this Christmas was grand. The thing about our family that I love is that we don't have to have extravagant things (though the camera I got is pretty cool) but that we all love each other and we like giving more than getting. We also have traditions that aren't traditional (i.e. spiking Grandma's coffee with Bailey's) which make Christmas with my family particularly awesome. And as I get older, I've been able to appreciate it even more, especially since we are getting ready to start our own family - I know that I have a great model of a family and I see care and love in every person who I spend the holidays with.

Anyway, I hope your holidays were great, no matter what you celebrate. I also hope this new year brings wonderful thing. I'm still contemplating new year's resolutions so I'll keep you updated on those things...also, in the new year I'll be able to say that I'm getting married thisyear. Weird. :)



Wrapping Up...

...more than just presents.
As I type this, I've just finished my Life Assessment paper and have started thinking about my Advocacy packet. The Advocacy Packet is the last assignment I have in my first semester of grad school. Granted, I still have one more final but I'm not counting that for now. It's sorta surreal how much has changed in the past 5 months.
I went from being at my home away from home (urbana) with my family there to moving close enough back home to say I've moved back home. I'm going to grad school which basically means I'm pretending to be an adult. I've made lots of great new friends who I am REALLY thankful for. In so many ways. And I'm already a quarter of the way done with grad school. Like boom. semester two. real stuff. practicum. what?!
And I've been super busy with homework and Ben's been doing his thing, but we're still madly in love. which is good to be able to say after 5 and a half years. But even more important than that, we still make each other laugh - and not like giggly laughs (though there is that) but like guttural laughs that reverberate and make you cry. I love those laughs.
We're preparing to celebrate our 6th Christmas together. That sorta seems like a lifetime. But actually it's really short. and there will be so many more.
But anyway, it is strange and wonderful all at the same time and sometimes I just like to think of all those things I have to be grateful for or those things I should be in awe of everyday. Not just thanksgiving. So all of those things that were on my thanksgiving list, I'm still thankful for right now. and all other times.
and there are other things I'm thankful for, too, like:
seedless cuties
microsoft word reference maker
Summer and Winter TOMS
apple cinnamon candles
gummi things
spinny rings
microfiber blankets
and lots of other stuff. TONS of other stuff.
anyway, here's to the end of a semester and the beginning of break! *clink*
love, kayt


I'm feeling particularly grateful...

...which may be a little about the time of year (Thanksgiving and all) but also a little bit about my procrastinating on school work.

And often I think about all I have to be grateful for and it's amazing. I have so many wonderful things going on in my life right now and I'm extremely humbled by what I have. There is this facebook thing goin' around about the 20 people you are grateful for. I like it, but I don't necessarily wanna do it there. So I thought I would do something similar here. That being said, I'm going to list just a few of the people/things that I am grateful for in no particular order.

1. Benjamin. because you get me. and because I get you. and we still love each other. which is amazing.
2. Mama. because you are my rock always. and you listen to me scream with tears running down my face and can still remember to tell me to breathe.
3. DC. because I always remember the one night and the many night since that I have felt protected and loved by you.
4. Gma and Gpa. because you have been supportive even when I know it was hard to be supportive. and I'm pretty grateful I have a relationship with you.
5. Anna. because you listen without judgment and you get it. even when you don't get it, you get it. because our relatively short relationship doesn't seem so short at all.
6. Josh. because sometimes you need a crazy story to tell. and a best friend to do crazy things with.
7. Courtney. because you care so much and love so vehemently.
8. Jimmy. because sometimes you need the person you've been friends with for lots of years.
9. School. because I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to continue challenging myself and learning.
10. Ross. because sometimes guidance and role modeling should include Arrested Development quotes and snarky sarcasm.
11. Brown School friends. because sometimes we can't have filters but we still need people to understand that we can't always have filters.
12. Donald and Ella. because sometimes I need a reason to color in coloring books and read children's stories and live the childhood I didn't really have.
13. Laughter. because sometimes a workout should include abs that hurt from laughing and cheeks that hurt from smiling.
14. Health. because I have safe water and access to health care, which many people can not say.
15. Art. because art in any form provides outlets for emotion and provides aesthetically pleasing stimuli which make me happy.
16. Rex. because you make Mama happy and you do for me as though I were your own. 
17. Megan P. because you have encouraged me to be the best ally I can be.
18. freedom. because my well-being relies on being able to challenge and question and go against the status-quo.
19. Sue Asher. because you have been an unexpected source of TONS of support for several years.
20. My UofI family. because even though I'm not there and I miss you all like no other, I know that there is still a support system in place if I need to call upon it.

Clearly I'm thankful for much more than this. And perhaps I will expand upon this list because I'm also thankful for a lot of arbitrary things like Nerd candy, the internet, rice, books, and coffee(shops) but not for any deeper of a reason than they give me sensory pleasure somehow. I clearly also missed a lot of people who are very important to me. But it feels like a good time to express some of this, at least, it's as good a time as any.
now back to this midterm that nags at me.


Here comes the...

...person who happens to be walking down the aisle.

Just kidding, but seriously..I'm not a bride. I don't feel like a bride. And I don't want to feel like a "bride." A bride is someone (or something) that is ornate. I am not an ornate person. I don't like feeling ornate. I like feeling comfortable. and simpy. but classy. yet casual. that's me. Do you know how many brides are like me? none. (that's a lie)

But when searching for wedding dresses, that's what it felt like. We (and by "we," I mean "I"..) tried on like 800 dresses which was really more like 15 dresses total, but it seemed like 800. And not one screamed "pick me because you'll feel comfortable and look classy while being simple and conveying the casualness of your wedding" or anything even remotely like that. As a matter of fact, most of them that I tried on said "well, maybe, but only if you want to feel stuffy or self-conscious or like a glutton because you just spent $300 on a dress you don't REALLY want." So anyway, Mom and I did the whole "Mom and daughter go dress shopping and have wonderful bonding moments over how beautiful the daughter is in the dresses and how wonderful her wedding day will be" except it was more like "Mom and daughter go dress shopping and have hilarious bonding moments over how awkward daughter looks in dresses and how ridiculous dress shop workers are and how hilarious the wedding will be because it is so unwedding like."
Good times.
But then, something just short of a miracle happened. We went to a well-known dress shop in my hometown. It was a last ditch effort and we had extremely low expectations. I didn't even try on a dress the first time I went in because we had been working in the attic all day and smelled like we had been working in the attic all day. We found a couple dresses that, I'll admit, on the hanger were not the most appealing but we decided we'd come back and see what we thought for real. And we did. And I found THE ONE. The One that is The One besides Ben. I tried on a dress and it felt like pajamas. And there was no beading or lacyness (though I had grown fond of lace, which is UBER strange). And it is chic. But super comfy. Basically it covered all four of my criteria (see first paragraph for criteria).
Now you may be saying, "Yes, Kaytlin, but surely this magical dress required your life savings and the promise of your first born child. Is it really worth it?"
Let me tell you, my friend, that it did not ask such things. As a matter of fact, it was LESS THAN HALF of what those poser dresses asked of me. Shh. this dress does NOT realize its worth.

So that's been a WONDERFUL thing to check off my list of wedding type things. Besides that I got this little thing we like to call a PRACTICUM in Brown School.

Actually this is a huge deal, if you didn't catch my poorly executed written sarcasm. It may be the biggest source of stress and subsequently the biggest sigh of relief that a first year student feels. It's at this lovely place called Stepping Stones to Success, Inc. They do workshops and programming around leadership, diversity and anti-bias, AND sex ed. It's like it's custom made for me. Plus it's a sweet deal that comes with laptop, printer, and desk. Huzzah.

 As for the things I discussed in my last blog, well, most of the air has been cleared. Life has calmed down considerably.
I have this feeling, though, that I'm forgetting to inform you of something.

**edit: that thing was the fact that I'm the new co-chair of Outlook,the Brown school's LGBTQA group, which I'm super excited about, despite what my forgetting may convey**

alright. well, I'm gonna go because actually while I'm attempting to be witty writing here I should be spending this energy writing a midterm, or a life assessment paper, or my gender presentation.
g'nite my loves (all 3 of you, ha)


Wedding Woes and other life issues

Since I was 10 years old and could even pretend to fathom that I would get married one day (which I had my doubts about, trust me) I knew that it would be an interesting time in my life. I knew that family strife (if you could call it that) would make things complicated but at that point no ones knows exactly how complicated these things can get.

Now, I understand that every family has a level of dysfunction. I also understand that everyone thinks their family is the worst. I know that there are families that have higher levels of dysfunction than mine does, HOWEVER...I'm pretty sure that mine takes the cake in most social circles.

In every wedding blog I've ever read, there have been discussion about family crises and family drama and how it seems nearly inevitable that someone doesn't get along with someone else but on your wedding day, you don't even think about it, and they usually can cooperate for that one day. I really hope so. Actually, I know that will be true (minus the me not thinking about it part) but I know that everyone will play nice and no one will get hurt that day. But in the meantime.....DAMN.

So now I'm going to tell the story of me. And why I am the way I am. and how I came be to (starting after the sex part and all). This is the way I remember it.
I was born in Japan on a military base. My mother was in the Navy and my dad was along for the ride. I have an older brother, DC, who was eight when I was born. DC was my mom's son from another marriage and it seems like DC and Mom lived a lifetime together before my dad and I came along. Thus started the family dysfunction.
I was - and still am - my father's pride and joy. I was his sole reason for doing anything (which we all know is problematic in a marriage - never put kids first).  When I was three, we moved from Japan to a (sort of) Chicago 'burb. Mom was stationed at Great Lakes and then was sent on a 6 month tour to Guatanamo Bay, Cuba. I was 6 years old. Meanwhile, Dad took care of DC and me. I was a tomboy, having two men as role models and a mother who was non-traditional. Finally, Mom came home.
I turned 7 at the end of August and that weekend was labor day weekend so we were going to go on a family trip to the Wisconsin Dells. Our bags were packed and we went to bed, ready to leave the next day.
Then my life changed forever. This also happens to coincide with the point where I don't remember so well.
At some point in the middle of the night, my dad pulled me from my bed. Groggily, I walked to the living room where my brother was already sitting and my mom was crying. How confusing.
There was yelling, fighting, a gun, then DC and I crouched in a corner and DC was holding a gun. Finally, Dad said we were leaving and took me and some of the luggage out to the van. I wanted my kitten. DC and I had just found a kitten the week before and DC said I could have it for my birthday (what a great older brother!). I didn't want to leave the kitteh behind.
Dad went back in the house to get my cat. I fell asleep in the van.

I woke up and Dad asked me where I wanted to go.
My answer: Grandpa and Grandma's.
Dad's reply: That's not going to work.
Me: Disneyworld.
Dad: Okay.

Why wouldn't Grandpa and Grandma's work, you ask? Because Dad had just tried to kill my mom, their daughter.
Dad had taken me after this happened so technically I had been kidnapped.
Court proceedings, prison visits, and all sorts of messiness ensued. Ask me if you want deets, I'm pretty forthcoming..I just don't wanna type it all out.

Then it gets complicated because, you see, one would think that I hate my dad after all of this but the kicker is...I don't. I love him. and I love my mom. and I've been to therapy to figure all that out but I've worked through a lot of it (not all, but a lot). But you see, my family hasn't been to therapy and therein lies the rub. They haven't figured any of it out. And while they all crumble into scared pieces, I'm left to pick up the pieces and say "what about me? Isn't this supposed to be Ben's and my day?"
My dad is not a bad guy anymore. He's still confused sometimes about what he should do concerning the decision he made 15 years ago but he loves me and that's all he's ever done. Maybe loved me too much. My mom made poor choices, too. Therefore, I don't play the blame game. It sucked that it happened. Yes my dad made that decision. But it was 15 years ago and here we all are.

So when it comes to wedding woes, I think it's okay that I got 'em but it's getting worked out. I guess I just need to get this off my chest because it's going to be a big part of that day and I think it will continue to be a part of this process whether I go back to therapy or not.
Luckily I have a wonderful partner in Ben who just lets me cry and get mascara and eyeliner on his shoulder and a mom who wants to make it go away but knows that she can't. And even my dad, who just learned that I have these issues is trying. Regardless, it doesn't change who I am, what I do, and how I act and that's where I'm coming from, dysfunction and all.


Happy National Coming Out Day! And other updates...

Happy National Coming Out Day! It was and is a time (day, week, month, eternity) to celebrate love in any form.. It's a day to recognize what the process of simply being is for some people. The fact that we need a day to celebrate and acknowledge the coming out process says a lot about how far we still have to go. So to all my LGBTQIetc. friends, Happy Coming Out Day! 

Secondly, it was Columbus Day. Wah wah. Columbus Day is not a day to celebrate or honor. Granted, most people don't. Most people don't even know what Columbus Day is for (ahem, Mom)...but honestly, schools continue to propagate the myth of this great dude who came and started it all. This holiday is very similar to Thanksgiving and the pilgrims. We need to work on thinking about our collective histories truthfully and rethink how we celebrate these "holidays." I am all about have a day of Thanks. I think that is not necessarily culturally specific, however, celebrating the pilgrimage to America and our "Founding Fathers" (who, by the way, happen to be illegal immigrants....just sayin') and in effect the genocide of hundred of thousands of Native Americans seems, oh, I don't know....just wrong. Anyway, I guess this is just a PSA about Columbus Day. Rethink it.

So that's my social justice-y rant. Now for other updates. 
Mom and I went wedding dress shopping the other day. I came to one conclusion: Kaytlin = awkward dress wearer. But seriously, I found one that I kinda like. It's more expensive than I want to spend/feel comfortable spending but it is really adorable and fits really well, so we'll see. We'll just keep our fingers crossed for some drastic price cuts. And it's the first step in the right direction, I think. I really don't like trying on dresses though. It's a very public affair which just lends to our cultures fascination with bridal imagery. There aren't public dressing rooms when I'm trying on a pair of jeans but when I try on a fluffy white dress, I should share that with the world. Bull. Anyway, it's a strange experience when some women you have never met tell you whether you should pick a dress. "Excuse me, do I know you and why do you care?" Plus, it's an environment that sucks you in and makes everyone in the environment a voyeur. Frightening.

We also found the paper for our origami flowers (talk about one of the most difficult shopping searches ever) so I'm excited to start working on those. As well as the straws for the pinwheels. ALSO and perhaps one of the most exciting things...one of my friends in my Social Work cohort is making our cake - HUZZAH! 

I feel like people must think that I'm not excited at all to be getting married. I'm very unenthusiastic about it, I admit. BUT that's not because I'm not excited. It's just that the whole "getting there" part is A LOT of work. And I've said from the beginning that I'm going to be the UnBride. And I'm living up to that. So just know that I am pumped to be partnered with Ben forever, however, getting there is more really a lot of legwork to just have the awesome party I want to have.

So that's it for now. The all-in-one blog of social justice and wedding crap. 


I have something to say...

about bullying
and those beautiful gay folks killing themselves.

...It's bullshit.

And it has crushed my heart more times than I can imagine....
now I'm saying this from a perspective of a straight woman who has (oddly enough) never been bullied by anyone other than my older brother (and that was kinda like his job). This is not to say that there weren't things for me to be bullied about and perhaps - almost definitely - kids made fun of me behind my back. I dressed oddly (I'm just sayin' that stretchy pants were pretty awesome), I was (and still am) overweight, I had (and still have) freakin' freckles, and last but CERTAINLY not least, I had a mullet. Plenty of fodder for these kids, but I don't know if it was just that I was so damn lovable or so damn intimidating but no one bullied me.
That being said - I can only imagine the pain of those people. And I know it hurt. And it is completely unnecessary and uncalled for.

This isn't a case of "kids being kids" because while yes, calling someone "four eyes" has a certain amount of angst and pain connected to it...it's a whole different level of hate to call someone a "faggot" and mean that in the worst way possible.

And you know what? These kids aren't picking up these messages from Spongebob or Bob the Builder or Jimmy Neutron or Dora. They are learning this from parents, from adults, and from news channels that give airtime to hate mongers like the Westboro Baptist Church.

I don't feel right making an "It Gets Better" video, Dan Savage style because honestly, I don't know what that's like. I personally don't know what it feels like to "get better."  I CAN say that I've met REALLY FUCKING AWESOME queer folks in my lifetime who have shown me strength beyond imagination. They have taught me things I will never forget. They are also some of the funniest, most caring, and inspiring people I know. I do know that I proudly count some of those queer folks as my closest and dearest friends. I do know that there are certainly people who ache along with every single gay person who experiences discrimination and bullying. I'm one of them.
I do know that until bullying stops and until gay kids stop feeling the need to end their lives because they feel worthless, unloved, or are experiencing unbearable pain, we can never call ourselves a land of Freedom.
I do know that until we stop teaching our children hate in ANY form, our legacy is not one to be proud of but rather one that breeds violence and injustice.
I also know that we are capable of so much more. I know that everyone deserves love. I know that, regardless of one's identities, whether gay, whether straight, whether black, white, tall, short, homeless, wealthy, etc., you have worth. You are somebody's somebody. Even if that somebody is simply YOU.

Please. Just stop hating. Stop HATING people, stop HATING things (unless you hate HATE...which is sort of hypocritical) Stop HATING ideas. Maybe you LOVE someone a little less, maybe you don't have an affinity for somethings, maybe you don't agree with an idea. But stop HATING.

Use your words to spread love. spread peace. spread hope.
I send all of those things to you. Thank you.


Oh How Neglectful I Am...

I'm sorry to have neglected you, blog friends. I've thought about you often, I promise.

However, I've been busy/lazy - too busy or lazy to decide what was important enough to write. TODAY, though, is of the utmost importance. Mostly because the Emmy's are on...IN HONOR OF MY BIRTHDAY. or maybe not, but nevertheless, they are co-occurring and it's thrilling.

A couple of highlights from life as of late (besides the whole Kaytlinpalooza thing - which is exciting in itself):

-absolutely nothing new in the way of wedding planning. well, okay some pretty huge decisions have been made...some decisions that required tears and heartbreak but were necessary. Luckily I have some pretty strong rocks on my side that help me make those decisions and let me sound-off/ask the right questions.

-Orientation for Grad School started. It's been an intense week full of information overload and uber confusion regarding the rest of my life. But I'm not concerned. It's good confusion, one that reeks of many possibilities - an overwhelming amount of possibilities. I've met some pretty cool people who will be my peers as well as some awesome mentors. I'm really excited about the things I'll be able to do and it's made me really grateful for the training/mentorship that I received at U of I.

-Kaytlinpalooza: which is really less intense than it sounds..but it's really fun for me. (and sometimes those around me). Really it just consisted on something really nice everyday for a week - like fresh peaches, birthday cards, or a nice date night out. I chalk it up to Kaytlinpalooza but really it's just me really enjoying what I have. It's also a catchy name (it may not seem like it at first, but it really is - try it on for size; go ahead, use your own first name and add 'palooza' at the end. it will make you smile, promise.)

-Skype dates: life savers, let me tell you.

Anyway, since the Emmy's are wrapping up, I guess I should, too. ONE DAY I will have an update worth reading, I promise. Until then, stick with me and we'll get through this together. My next update will include details on self-awareness day and actual classes. 


Live and Learn

Yes, it's been awhile. Yes, I've been busy. Yes, I will try to do better.  No, I will not make any promises.

So the apartment is broken in: Anna and Jeremiah stayed for Art on the Square and Josh stayed when he got back from Colorado. It's been wonderful to have people with us again.

Anna and Jeremiah's visit was wonderful. We had a lot of fun at the square, our piece looked amazing. And I say "our" with all genuineness, Anna did just as much as I did. We saw the sights, did all the typical Southern Illinois stuff (minus the cow-tipping) and just had fun. It was really sad to see them go, but alas.

Then Josh got home from Colorado last weekend so that's been fun. He spent a day at the Rogier-Reedy spa (as he calls it). He takes the GRE tomorrow so we'll wish him luck with that. Tomorrow night I get to see my loves that I've been missing dearly and it will be much appreciated. Jimmy is coming home briefly before heading to AZ, Josh leaves for China on Friday, and BSue (who will be in st. louis) whom I haven't seen in FOREVER. It will be glorious.

I had an interview today at Wash U for a student ambassador position. Find out Friday. Keep your fingers crossed.

And wedding stuff. Oh the wedding stuffs! Well, there have been some snafus, a lot of tears, some difficult decision making but I think it's all for the best. It generally sucks to have a family that is as effed up as mine is. IknowIknow, all families are dysfunctional..and I agree. However, when you have someone try to kill someone else and then you try to make them all share a smallish space* amicably...that goes beyond the threshold of dysfunction, I think. But it will all work out, this I know, I just gotta figure out how to inform all parties of changes made.

We are slowly coming along on favors (as in, I emptied out a ton of CD cases) and we have to figure out exactly how we want the service to go. I suppose at some point I should probably think about dress shopping. We've come in wonderfully under budget in a lot of things. We book the Masonic Temple for our reception, which means we have to figure out decorations and whatnots. I know it will all be fabulous, no matter what.

One things we have finished and can check off the list is ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS. All done..and they are marvelous, I must say. Here's a sample. More/All can be seen on my facebook page.

Photos by Marv and Sue Asher, Concept Photography
But for now, that's the update. I wish I had more to give but I don't, at least not right now.
*is any space really that big when another person who tried to kill you is in it..I think not.


Settle Down

So I'm sitting in our living which looks like this:

and the rest of our apartment looks just as snazzy as well. We finally have some time to relax and watch TV without the nagging feeling that "oh no, Anna and Jeremiah are coming to stay this weekend and they can't even get up the stairs" because they can. And they can get to the futon to sleep on.

Funny Story about the picture that's on the wall: When I was a senior in High School, I was in the AP Art program and that painting pissed me off. The bulldog has no nose. And it's sort of a terrible composition (read: no composition)
So I took it off the wall. And put it in the art room. A few days later, it magically reappeared in the hallway. WTF?!
So I took it down again...and put it in my car.
It's been in my basement ever since.
The Highland News Leader ran an article about the dedication of this painting to the High School a few weeks ago. That article is framed next to it. I wonder if they even realize it's missing. I wonder if anyone who works at the high school reads this blog. I hope I don't get in trouble.

Anyway. This is the final moving update. It's official, we've moved. I miss Urbana quite often, but I'm sure once I start school it will get much better. 

Also, we are getting our engagement photos done tomorrow by 
Marv does wonderful work. You should check it all out. He's truly an artist. 
It must run in the family! ;) 

I'll let you all know how that looks...plus how the wedding planning goes. We have some quirky fun things in the works AND we are going to look at a possible reception site SOON! (As in hopefully tomorrow!)
But for now, my computer is running out of battery (because I'm down in the living room, as I said) so I need to get going, take the whitestrips out, and go to bed.


exciting news!

Well, as the Monday winds down and becomes Tuesday, I'm here in our office where my side is finally starting to resemble a workspace. Ben's side, on the other hand, looks like he'll be living out of boxes for a little while.  We've finally gotten all of our things into the new place and are slowly putting things in order/where they belong and making it look like home (which it will be for a long time). I'm excited to get things all put in order and put things on the wall so it looks like a real home.

But that is neither here nor there. What I'm really writing about is the exciting email I got this morning.

So I've been going on and on about this wedding blog that I follow pretty religiously (as in it is part of my morning routine in the morning - who doesn't love a good wedding story to start their day?). A few weeks ago, there was a post about an online wedding invite/website that is pretty awesome and was created by a woman who wanted to make wedding planning easier/cheaper for everyone. Cheaper? Easier? Awesome! THEN they were having a giveaway for packages for these online wedding invitation/website. All you had to do was leave a comment about WHY you deserved to win. So I did. And I WON! SPECTACULAR! I got the email this morning! You should probably check out this website because these are some pretty fun/awesome invitations, too! This is really awesome because it will definitely save us money on postage plus it helps us in our cause to go green/be less of a drain on society/the environment. Plus, it's cool because I actually won something. and save for crane machines, I never win anything.*

Anyway...hopefully sooner rather than later, we'll have this place up and running like civilized people and I can take good pictures to show you what wonderful decorating skills Ben and I have. when that happens, I'll post them here and on facebook so you should check it out and leave comments about how much you want to come stay here so we can arrange that as well! ;)



Home is Where the Heart Is...Part Zwei

So last night was about moving away from my home for a mere four years. Tonight, I'll be reflecting on this monumental move out of my (mostly) childhood home.
This one is a little bit tougher and a little bit easier at the same time. It's a strange feeling of moving away and yet, I'm still moving closer. For instance, instead of driving 2 hours to visit home and staying here for days on end, I'll drive 15 minutes, stay as long as I like and then drive home to my own place. So while I may not be staying here relentlessly, I'll likely be visiting more often and actually get more facetime with those who matter (i.e. not "my" room).

That being said, it has been my room for the last 8 or so years (since DC moved out) and I truly made it my room. The walls are bright orange and the trim is blue - remnants from my obsession (and I don't use obsession lightly) with U of I. The sign outside the door says "Kaytlin's Room: Enter at Your Own Risk" - a truthful warning most of the time.

There have been a lot of memories made in this basement...from snow days with friends to every New Year's Eve in high school to summertime "crunchtimes" and all the spaces in-between. There have also been a lot of changes made to this basement that perhaps make this transition a little bit easier. For one, Rex and Mom have put in a bar. It's an addition I find fitting, signaling the maturity of our family, I think. While I was in high school, I "needed" a space where we could all be at one time. Where we could lounge lazily and watch a movie or six. Now, what we ALL need is a space where we can enjoy a drink while enjoying each other's company and watching the game.

I guess what I find myself thinking as I write this post is that this transition out of this home doesn't really seem that difficult. I imagine it is more difficult for Ma than it is for me. Not because I won't miss having a room here; not that it is going to feel "good" to have my room become the extra room but because I know that when I need it to be, it will be MY room. If I need to stay here sometime, I know (almost for sure) that I will be able to. And no matter what, this will always be home. This will always be where I grew up. And as long as Ma lives here, I can always come home.

As I've said before and will say again, home is where the heart is. My home is here, where my family is, but my home will also be where Ben is. And we're building that together. It's going to be something great, not just the house we live in but the home we make. We've been working on it for awhile now, testing those waters in college, but now we get to run the show and I'm excited to see where it takes us.
Stay tuned! Next blog: new place updates!


Home is Where the Heart Is...part 1.

So here's the highly anticipated blog about my transition into real adulthood. It's taken me awhile to write for a couple of reason:
a. The last couple of nights have been jam-packed with moving things. Packing, lugging, unpacking, building, packing more shit, unpacking...etc. I've been dog tired at the end of the night and the thought of writing this blog filled with emotions seemed more draining than cathartic (which I think it is supposed to be).
b. I didn't quite have what I wanted to say pieced together. I mean, there's a lot to say about moving from one phase of life into about a million more phases all at once. I should at least try to do it eloquently...and not in a jumbled mess of what my stream of consciousness looks like.

So here I am on a Saturday night after a lighter day of building and arranging and purchasing ready to sit down and think about what it means to me to be leaving a place that feels like home in so many ways, doing it again in my real home, and moving into what is about to become my HOME home. Confused yet?

Let's start here. What it means to leave Champaign-Urbana, the magical place that I came to love. At the beginning, I despised that hell hole with every fiber of my being. Being in Chambana meant I wasn't in H-town. It meant I was away from my mom (which I'll get to later). It meant that I had to focus on school, I had to communicate less with my friends, and I had to think about the future. Major bummer. BUT THEN! And it's a BIG 'but then'...I met my campus family. Ross had asked me what I was going to miss the most. I couldn't quite articulate what I wanted to say. I wanted to say a lot of things...
I'll miss the quad even though I didn't spend a LOT of time there.
I'll miss the WRC (of course).
I'll miss Espresso Royale.
I'll miss Green Street (and everything that entails).
I'll miss the fact that I can usually call any number of my friends if I get bored and at least one of them will go get coffee with me.
...But instead I said I'll miss the familiarity. Which is true. But not entirely true. I'm not unfamiliar with our new locale...I'm just not four straight years familiar. And by familiarity, I think I really just meant FAMILY. because that's what everyone there is to me. There are my friends who are like these long lost brothers and sisters that I like to cook for and hang out with all the time. And we can party and be stupid and then the next day show up to class and take exams and all that good stuff. There are those people that were supposed to be supervisors or professionals, but instead treated me like their daughter, sister, and/or friend. There are those professors who care enough about me (one of 500 of their students) to ask me to get coffee with them or to stop by their office and just chat. And there are the people that have quickly (or not so quickly) become my role model and who I strive to emulate and make proud. Those are the people that come to mind immediately when I think about leaving that place and moving on. I just want to make those people proud to have known and taught me nearly everything that I stand for now.

I imagine that these are all or mostly all of the same feeling I had four years ago when I went from high school and college. But I was a different person then (thankfully, I think) and I will be a different person 1 year from now, 2 years from now, and 5 years from now.

I know that all of these things do not simply exist in the Champaign Urbana bubble. I know that I will eventually find these people here and at Wash U. and later on in life, whatever that may be. Hell, I may become one of those people to someone else someday. But that doesn't change the fact that these are people...: Anna, Jeremiah, Ross, Teryl, JennScott, Michelle, Bethany, Leslie, Ryan, LauraGrace, VivS., Sarah, JessicaE., Janel, NickGooler, Chantal, PatGill, and ALLLLLLLLLLLL those other wonderful ones*: who have MADE my four years at U of I something I will cherish and never regret.
I will never forget the first semester of hell. But that first semester of hell will never tinge the feelings of joy I feel when I think about my experience there. 

That's what I'll miss. Those people. and many more people. because yes, I can find a coffeeshop in St. Louis that I love (I already have one in Eville..CHECK!), and yes, I will make my own imprint on Wash U the way I did with U of I..but I can't replace those people and memories I have, nor would I ever want to. It's time for a new couch...and I'm getting one**, and I'm excited. I have butterflies. I'm sad, scared, excited, happy, antsy, nervous, etc. I have moments where I cry. I have moments where I shake with happiness. I wouldn't trade ANY of it for the world.

*clearly I'm missing people. It's bound to happen. Sorry.
** Ross had an analogy about Chambana being an old comfy couch that has your ass grooves worn in and you know exactly where all the springs stick out, etc. but sometimes, it's time to get a new couch because that old couch has been used past its prime (or something like that). It made sense.

So clearly this is part 1. I'll do part 2 another time. I'll discuss my feelings on moving out of my childhood home, too. Be ready for tears, Ma.
And maybe part 3 will be about the new place. because I can.



The boxes keep piling up..

We're gearing up for our move south in 9 days. NINE DAYS! Holy crap. and while it's been fun and all, I hate packing and moving and leaving people and packing. And in all the hustle and bustle of moving, Ben took a look at his Dental School schedule for the next few years.


Which means 2 things:
a. I'm probably going to have to get an animal mate so I can avoid discussing my days with walls and tables, and
b. we're moving the wedding to NEXT summer. 2011. WHAT?!

Oh man.. this means that legit have to start booking and planning things. Which I wasn't  prepared to do yet but I'm getting there.

We've been deciding a lot of things. And actually MAKING decisions. We found an awesome reception place (keep your fingers crossed) - the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton. It's an awesome little art gallery/event venue that I'm sorta in love with...for now. We haven't been there...but the pictures of this place are adorable. We have to go check out the event room and figure out what the extra costs are going to be, but this would be perfect for me. PERFECT.

this is the gallery. beautiful. I hope this works out.

Also we're looking at July 16 or July 23rd (which depends on availability of church/reception site).

Man look at all this wedding stuff. It's for real now. Once I've had some time to process this all, I'll come back and write about the readings, etc. that we are considering and how the ceremony process looks. But for now, I'm too amped on all this aesthetic stuff and these big details. the "small" stuff will come later (because that stuff will come pretty naturally, I think...)

Anyway..just an update.


whoa, another revamp.

I apologize for lack of posts and then changing it up on you every time. Though this time was a total surprise and it makes me pretty happy :). And I also apologize that because I don't blog often (enough), my blogs end up like small novels. feel free to stop reading at any point that you become bored.

((still here? COOL!))

What have I been up to lately, you ask? (Probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway).

Well, I've been...
--getting 40-hour training for Illinois Rape Crisis Services. It's a pretty intense process and it leads me back to where I started this whole journey of social justice work and activism. It's sort of baffling to me how I've changed so much over the past 3 years and yet I find myself coming full circle to rape education, prevention, and survivor support. And the fact that I can find myself still so positive about all of that is extraordinary to me (particularly given my attention span). It also lets me think a lot about the ways in which my work is so greatly shaped by the fact that I started out in rape education. You see, for me, rape education and prevention is a tangible thing. It's not as abstract or theoretical as oppression theory or even the "simple" isms (i.e. racism, sexism, classism, ageism, etc.). It's something that happens and something should and needs to be done about it. That is not to say that the isms shouldn't be eradicated either, but I'm just saying that rape seems to be something sort of, kind of manageable (but yet, so overwhelmingly not. ugh). This tangibility and the fact that every rape is someone's individual story (whereas sometimes instances of an ism could be seen as something less individual, more institutional, etc.) leads me to approach all of these things with a sort of empathy as though I'm dealing solely with individuals. This may or may not be a problem. I don't know yet. it probably is a problem, or at least will be in the long run because the way I think about it requires me to assign a problem to someone/something I care about. Selfish, much? Anyway, re-approaching* the issue of rape from this stance has been sort of eye-opening and overall good (I think) for me to re-evaluate the ways in which I should approach the other issues I care about.

--Reading blogs...like it's my job (which in some ways, it sort of is). I REALLY enjoy blogs. I enjoy blogging. I enjoy everything about blogs, from the little tidbits of information you can glean unwittingly to the tone of blogs (which very much mimics my style of living - pretty casual and conversational). But sometimes those tidbits of information on blogs make me RAGE. Especially some of the articles on sites like Feministing.com and other feminist sites which highlight both wins in the realm of feminism but also EPIC FAILS in the fight to maintain a Just society. For instance, first thing this morning, Facebook notified me about this article on female genital mutilation that is occurring not only in the US, but IN THE NAME OF RESEARCH!? WHAT........THE..............FUCK! (and I say that with utmost respect to my readers). Seriously?! This article went viral through my newsfeed where every one of my Vagina Monologues Ladies picked up on it in outrage (clearly). It's this sort of shit that we think happens elsewhere and we spend time speaking out against when our own (probably overpaid) scholars our instigated and perpetuating it here....FUUUUUUUUUUUhhh. If this isn't enough to incite riots in the street (which it should) - Feministing also linked to Louisiana's new legislation require ultrasounds before abortions. Yes, please make this ultimately life-changing and excruciating decision (which in all likelihood was not a split second decision) that much more difficult for someone to bear. please. BUT not to bring you all down with such crap nonsense, there are also highlights, like a particularly intelligent woman who is graduating high school while doing an experiment that includes Seventeen Magazine. If you haven't read her blog about this, do it. You'll probably learn something (and fight adultism at the same time. Two-for-one - WIN!).

--Planning our move. We're moving in mid-July to a new (unfurnished) place. Which then requires us to make large purchases like a sofa, washer and dryer, desks, etc. On top of all of that, we are moving from 2 different locations, really. Here in Champbana and also our parents' houses. This complicates a lot of things, too. Not unmanageably, but just enough that it is kinda sorta stressful and requires a decent amount of foresight.

--more WEDDING stuff. I know, the phases of my wedding "planning" are so sporatic, it's ridiculous. BUT I have been doing some research on photogs (though I would love for Ms. Crystal Wasson to do our wedding as her first). I've also been scoping out some dress designs that I may or may not wanna wear. And also just trying to think about how we want the day to feel (which includes incessantly scoping out reception sites...annoying). This also includes reading A Practical Wedding (the blog that I've been doting on) habitually.  Two years seems like such a long time (especially when I consider that the grad program that I haven't even started yet is a whole 2 years long).

--Working. At the job that I absolutely love and will miss dearly. Not because of the work so much - though I must say that getting to work within the realm of social justice, even if it is just scheduling rooms to have meetings about social justice is extremely rewarding work (for me...not for everyone) - but rather because of the people I get to work with daily. Seriously. My boss sent me a Dinosaur Comic which then led to me spending hours looking at more Dinosaur Comics. And that's just the sort of relationship we have. Which I love. It's going to suck when I have to have a legit business professional relationship with a boss (read: non-friendship) - I don't even know if I am capable of such things. Hurumph.

--Growing up. This is the worst part about what I've been doing which sort of encompasses all of the last points (duh) but also includes things like meeting up with friends from college for the last (or close to last) time before we all go our separate ways and figuring out budgets and savings. Planning for the next couple of years and realizing that, holy shit, I won't be living at Mom's house for a month over winter break and I may not be spending the night there on Christmas Eve. What?! I'm going to be inviting my parents and Ben's parents over to our place for dinners. Like adults do. We're going to have an office in this new place. *shudder*..*squeal*..I'm scared but super excited. What does that even mean? Is this a condition I should get checked out?

Anyway- I've decided that these novellas are ridiculously long, if not unfocused. I'm going to attempt (and I say this loosely) to make a list of blog topics. And perhaps institute a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. We'll see how this works out. be patient. I'm bad at habit forming and routine.

*Not that I ever left or stopped caring about the issue of rape, I just distanced myself for a bit. It's hard to do all of that work at once.

that's it. Whew! Did you make it! Did you skip some? (Be honest, it doesn't sting too bad).
Always and forever,


New musings...

So I'm back at it, little by little. I try to do it in small doses because it's really easy to get sucked up and sucked in. I've stumbled upon (not literally, though that is a possibility) a nifty little website that is extremely helpful when thinking about some of the more quirky, fun, non-traditional, yet practical ways to have a wonderful wedding. I've been thinking more and more about the different aspects of the wedding and I'm able to picture it a little bit better now, though not completely. There are a few things that Ben and I have been discussing:
a: iPod DJ. This means we aren't hiring a DJ...and it also means that we'll hear all of the music we want to hear and none of the music we don't (i.e. Stevie Nicks*/Country) - idea taken from the aforementioned website (as are quite a few of my musings.)
b. a different wedding reception site that is not your typical Southern Illinois fare - which means, perhaps, maybe, possibly getting out of a VFW/KFC/Auxiliary hall and into someplace that is more suited to Ben and me. The only A few of the problems are:
- limited radius of travel : we have quite a few older folks who may be attending this wedding. I'm not trying to make a whole group of people scurry into St. Louis.
- money: things cost money. period. nicer things cost more money.
- number of people: IDEALLY the wedding reception would be someplace artsy and somewhat intimate..but when you have quite a few attending, intimate quickly becomes stifling.
UGH. I just want someplace cool, hipster (*gasp, yes I said it*), trendy, quirky, fun, interesting,...you get the idea. I want a place that reflects who Ben and I are as a couple. (which is really what I want the whole wedding to be, hence the egalitarian nature/feminist leanings).
c. unique ideas for guestbook things: SO on this website I mentioned, there was this post about a photographer - actually there are lots of posts about lots of photographers** but this isn't about the photographer. This is about something that was the subject of a photo. The intercultural wedding that the photographer was taking pictures have utilized a watercolor painting of a tree (similar to something one might see in Chinese culture) and had their guests leave finger/thumb prints as the leaves of the tree. I don't think they had people signing by their finger/thumbprints but I think that would also be an interesting addition. I like this idea because I like the idea of having something that we could hang up and have around all the time as opposed to only a guest book (which I still like as well, for those priceless pieces of information that they are filled with) which would only be brought out once or twice and maybe later for posterity reasons. This painting idea is also pretty reflective of how I think about the people who will be invited to the wedding - they are all people who have left or are continuing to leave thumbprint on my mind and heart. (Isn't that just cheese-tastic!)
d. A LITTLE BIT of dresses. NOT MUCH. I'm not quite ready for that step yet, but we have been talking about it. We're planning a July wedding (thus far) and it probably gonna be HOT. Granted, we'll be inside. Still, I don't wanna sweat at all in that dress. for personal reasons. like I don't like sweat dripping into places it shouldn't. That's just nasty. So I'm weighing my options. and thinking about how I perhaps want to take a little bit of the tradition out of that, as well.
e. Good news: I've found a couple of options for photogs maybe. hopefully. Ones that may work within our budget and do the kind of work I want. HUZZAH!
It's interesting to me how when I have a bit of free time (i.e. Summer break) my mind drifts to this wedding stuff even though we still have TWO YEARS and there are things that are much more pressing at hand - for instance, us moving in two MONTHS. I have a whole new planning space that I should be planning out and I should be playing interior designer now. And I am, a little. But it always drifts back to the wedding. which in some ways is disappointing. I'm antsy and a little sad that it is so far away, though I know that I would be ten times worse with my mind preoccupation if it were any closer. Part of me want to just go to the courthouse but I know that I would miss that family/friends presence. I think that's the part that excites me more than anything (besides the photographer capturing the day) is knowing that this is something I get to share with the people I love the most. I'm so sentimental, sometimes.
Oh well. It'll all come together. It has thus far. And things keep changing. Who knows, maybe one day there will be a blog that says SURPRISE, WE'RE MARRIED - but don't count on it. I've got checks and balances to my madness, I promise.

* Stevie Nicks (aside from Fleetwood Mac) has a voice that grates my eardrums and has the potential to make them bleed. She sounds like a lamb (to quote Kara from AI...**deepsigh**) and it bugs the hell out of me. There will be no Stevie Nicks so for those of you who thought you were going to hear "Landslide"..sorry, find another wedding.
**Have I mentioned how much I love wedding photography. Perhaps once or twice.

That's it for now, everyone. Happy musings.


Life Changing events

Well, we're graduated (mostly)! It was a pretty intense weekend full of caps, gowns, tassels, pictures, and traditions. I was reminded why I don't want a traditional wedding - it's BORING. haha, but it was fun, and I got to see my papa and one of my brothers. My mama and the grandparentals came up Saturday which was wonderful. I really love my family (when they are separate...the wedding is going to be a whole other story).

So I say we graduated mostly because Ben is still taking another class. He's finishing up his business minor this summer and then he'll be completely done. Luckily he'll have a few weeks of break before we have to pack up and head south to our new abode.

Turns out, I graduated with High Distinction from GWS which is pretty exciting. It hasn't really hit me yet that I'm done with undergrad. I imagine it won't happen til I move, but I figured I could do some thanks and such now...because it is official and all.

So first off, thanks to my mama. She's been my rock these past four years, from her driving 2.5 hours on a random Saturday morning to get coffee with me because I missed her so much to helping us move and everything in between. I've talked to her nearly everyday of this journey and she always knew what to say (and sometimes what not to say). Even though neither one of was really sure what we were getting into, we both made it and sometimes (only sometimes) I think she deserves the diploma just as much as I do (then I remember all the papers I wrote...and I think otherwise..;)...haha)

Then comes Ben: Ben has definitely been here for me all along. Sometimes it seems amazing and surreal that we've made it this far together. When a lot of people aren't even starting their lives together until now, it seems like we've lived a lifetime. seriously...and we aren't even married yet (as if you didn't know). I don't know that I can even begin to thank him enough for all he's done for me.

Then to my campus family:
Anna, my love: I would be long gone if it weren't for her. legit. While we've only been besties for about 2 years..it almost seems like 20. There's never a moment I won't/can't/don't share with her. Her family has taken me with the greatest hospitality. Our family dinners are reminiscent of my family dinners back home and our few heart-to-hearts were also much needed and always helpful. Luckily, this lady is one of my bridesmaids so I'll have plenty of excuses to see her after we graduate. (which is good because if I didn't, I would just have to make up excuses).

Courtney, babe! Even though she's not on campus, we've been there for each other the whole time...seriously through some of the toughest stuff people can go through. And we made it. Plus, now SHE'S engaged, too. Whoa..it's like we're growing up and becoming adults or something (which, by the way, I'm morally opposed to and refuse to do. It's in complete contradiction of my life goals, which include being a kid forever). I'm looking forward to moving back home so we can get back into the swing of things and start a crazy adventure of whatever comes next.

Joshua, he's the guy that I didn't have to talk to but once or twice a semester, but when we did see each other, it was the most fun, relaxing, crazy, awesome, lovely, at-home feeling ever. He was always the release I needed. As he once said "Our friendship is like riding a bike, we never miss a beat." - or something that was equally touching, if not confusing. he's like the brother that...well, I had..but didn't have. He's like another brother. yeah. that's it.

Jim...always keeping me on my toes. All the time.Which is good. and hilarious. I love him. I have always loved him. Since 4th grade when we became best friends..and have remained ever since (which is an intensely long relationship, btw.) I've said all I've needed to say to him over the years..and it's all true. and still holds true. And he knows it.

The rest of my extended family (new and old) - BSue, Katie, RaRa, Michelle, Megan, Bethany, JennScott (oneword), and all those you other wonderful WONDERFUL people - just a general thank you for writing on my facebook wall and giving me something to smile about. For having a personality that keeps me happy. For allowing me surround myself with positivity. And for keeping me on my game.

finally, my mentors:
Ross... I joke that he has single handedly changed my 4 year plan. And actually, it's not a joke. It's true. hardcore style. From the moment I met him, I knew that I was about to embark on something excited (which is what FYCARE was). And then he proceeded to believe in me enough to open up a plethora of opportunities from leading a crusade to get a women's center to getting FOIA'ed, from being nominated and selected for the excellence in leadership award to working on my ally skills and becoming a voice of social justice. I actually don't know what I would be doing with my life if I hadn't met him. I would probably be doing something that I hate doing in psychology, being anti-social, and perhaps not even on this campus. I think I can also speak for Ben when I say he has been a huge mentor in Ben's life as well. Our relationship is healthier because of some of the ideas that Ross introduced and we are both better people for it. I definitely would not be the force to be reckoned with that I am now. and you can stick that in your email and FOIA it!

Teryl ...I'm sorta sad that we just got to start working together the last semester of college, but she's definitely been my mama here on campus. I know that I can go be safe in her office. I can bitch about my day...and it's likely that she's having a similar issue. She takes care of me and makes sure that everything is going well...something I need every now and again.

Professor Gill...I only had her 2 semesters but she was perhaps the most interesting, fun-loving, and encouraging professor I've ever had. She did for me in my last 2 years what professor Pintar did for me my freshman year: she inspired me to be critical.

Clearly this is not everyone who has had an awesome impact on my life..but right now (literally in this moment) I'm feeling particularly grateful to these people. More than half of these people don't actually read my blog and for those of you reading for the purposes of figuring out what a feminist wedding looks like, I'm sorry that I've been on hiatus from wedding plan (though I have started looking at wedding dresses and figuring out what I want to do with that - traditional white, non-traditional, ball gown, wedding gowns, fun summer dress..the option are endless). For those of you who DO read this blog and if you know ANY of the people I've mentioned, you should consider yourself fortunate. Extremely fortunate. Like you should tell them how grateful you are to know them because these are awesome people.

If you are one of the people who I mentioned and read this blog, thanks again, from the bottom of my heart. You clearly make my world and I owe at least part of my success to you.

For now, until more wedding news (which may be some dress ideas as well as some ideas for receptions and things), good night and count your blessing..i've counted a few of mine.


A little break from weddings...

We've taken a little hiatus from wedding planning period. I haven't even looked at wedding stuff in a while - though we did get all of our invitations and thank you notes purchased, thank you very much.

No, this blog is about the wonderful evening I just spent with Jessica Valenti (from the blog Feministing) and Jaclyn Friedman, the co-editors of Yes Means Yes, a kickass anthology of pro-sex, anti-rape work. Now, not only are these women awesome and inspiring but they were really funny and gave me some things to think about.

First of all, I should start out by saying that not much in the presentation/discussion was something I hadn't already heard/seen/read somewhere before. That being said, it was presented excellently. It also makes me wonder, as someone who is an anti-rape activist/advocate (can you tell I'm loving the backslash this evening?) what I have to contribute to the body of work that is out there. Is there something I can contribute or will I simply be a broken record of things that have already been said? I think there are things I can contribute for sure, but what form will that come in? I always joke that I want to infiltrate the school systems with feminist thought and comprehensive sex ed (which they both talk about a lot and made my heart smile), but is that enough. What if I want to reach more people? Will I have something unique to say? Does that even matter? What about the work I'm doing here (work being a slightly dramatic word for blogging)? Does that count? My ideas aren't really new - but they might be to someone, right? Ugh, the questions.

It also is simultaneously frustrating and awe-inspiring to be surrounded by "forward thinkers" - those that challenge the rape culture because I want to have ideas, but damnit, they are already taken. haha..I'm just kidding, kind of...but it does make me wonder where my voice is.

Secondly...and this may answer a lot of my questions that I just posed to myself but then again, I could again be repeating something that is already going on somewhere else...Jaclyn said something tonight that made me think about anti-rape organizations and the work they do and how, in order to really begin the shift of rethinking masculinity as a culture and to begin dismantling something we've had in place for so long, we need a "critical mass" of people to join the cause.

which leads me to my next train of thought - THAT SHOULD BE A ORGANIZATION'S NAME!..it makes perfect sense. I want to start a group (perhaps at Wash U when I go there, instead of trying to do something here in 2 weeks) called Critical Mass. the mission would be to inform and educate as many people as possible to help the culture reach a critical mass of people working again sexual violence. I think it's catchy. and we would have shirts - possibly hoodies (that's why people join groups anyway).

Tonight also made me reflect on some of the work I've been fortunate enough to do surrounding sexual violence, but it also made me reflect on the work I haven't done, or have fallen out of. It's weird to think that I got where I am now, doing the work I do because of sexual violence prevention education. It was my in to all things social justice. Now, I do very little work that directly impacts sexual assault. Which makes me sad, in a way. Sure, I'm doing a lot of social justice things, being an ally and all which helps the overall culture of oppression which feeds into rape culture BUT what am I doing to actively address this specific issue of violence that got me started in the first place? Why have I become disconnected? MORE QUESTIONS..

Anyway, it was a wonderful evening with a wonderful chat full of disturbing images and examples of the culture I live in. Personally, I think things like Purity Balls and Abstinence contracts should be outlawed - Purity Balls reek of pedophilia to me. I am disturbed by our society's simultaneous infatuation and fear of sex. Being that wishy-washy about something can't be healthy. As well as the fact that the information that our society presents in biased by gender.

Which is why I like the idea of a feminist wedding and raising feminist children (of which there were 2 before the presentation tonight, you can follow the dad that brought them there on twitter at rebeldad) - we can start with these things that are taken for granted in society : patriarchal weddings, gendering our children, and make a difference to someone, somewhere.

I often wonder if I will ever make a difference in someone's life like my mentors have done for me. I can only hope...but who says you can't start with your own kids, right?

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the rape culture, feminism, and gendering for now. I need to go read some crossdressing memoirs now...



I've been lucky enough to have a lot of support and interest from people in my life about this whole wedding thing. Yesterday I had the great pleasure of discussing feminist weddings with a friend of mine from my senior seminar. She, too, is a betrothed feminist (I would say engaged feminist, but that can have other meanings, too). It was really interesting talking to her because we both have very different approaches to our weddings but overall, our ideas of marriage are similar.

We were discussing some of the questions people have asked us (and she has had a lot more questions than I have). It's amazing what people come up with. It's astonishing how many people are happy that we're getting married, but when we question the traditions of marriage - people question why we're getting married. It's sort of ironic. Something is strange about people happy for you to do something but only in a certain way. Why can't we do this how we want to, DAMNIT!

Anyway. we on a little hiatus of wedding planning seeing as we're in the closing weeks of the semester. It's a little hectic right now between activism and finals and papers and madness. I'm really looking forward to the end. Although, I'm feeling bits and pieces of that detachment from the people here. *deep sigh*

Alas, we are still working on our place to stay - i.e. signing the lease, figuring the logistics of moving in, etc. Also slightly stressful.

I'm going to stop complaining now. It's been a really awesome day - and I have to keep reminding myself to take these things one day at a time. As much as I'm looking forward to the end, I gotta remember to appreciate them. Cheesy, right? .....yeah. eh.

that's it for now. stay tuned.


Great news!

I found out last night that cousin Marv can do our engagement photos! Huzzah! That's what I really care about a lot (not that I don't care about the wedding pictures...) so that's VERY exciting. It really made my night last night when I found that out.

It's also Good Friday, so we're going home this evening and tomorrow is going to be an insane day...hopefully. I'm going to be dyeing Easter eggs, having a potential walk-through of the house again, and making it to SIUE to make some copies for a friend. Not to mention all of the preparing that we'll probably have to do for Sunday. None of this is wedding stuff, though I'm sure at some point - it will creep in there. It tends to do that.

I'm also Ally of the month this month. Which is pretty exciting and it's an honor I'm really proud of. It's also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Ben's super involved being the president of Men Against Sexual Violence. I'm pretty lucky to have found a guy who's a feminist and will openly call himself a feminist and will speak at rallies and such. Which is also what makes this feminist wedding thing infinitely better. I know that I'm not just doing this stuff and he couldn't care less either way...he wants it to happen, too.

Well, anyway - just wanted to give that brief update on the state of pictures. If anyone has suggestions for photographers (that aren't pricey) or knows how to use a good camera and has a bit of artistic inclination...let me know.



Am I doing this right?

So we're still trucking along...it was sorta strange being back at school because people are still congratulating us (which is nice, no doubt) but it's been like a week and a half now...and I'm not used to all that. Plus, I have to get my head back in the game - the game of school that is.

That is also difficult when I've been inundated with potentially buying a house *gasp* and also receiving my financial aid package from Wash U...which is very exciting but also kind of overwhelming. I don't know what these things mean for my future. It's all very confusing with a lot of steps that I haven't thought about before - obviously because we've never done this before.

Also, I got a little frustrated perturbed upset when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for pictures for this whole shebang (where did that word come from?). I wanted cousin Marv to do them but as it turns out he doesn't do weddings anymore...and I don't think know we can't afford his cohorts' prices so now we have to turn to someone else. Let me just say, as I've mentioned previously, pictures may be one of the only things that I will insist must be done right. Everything else (at this point) can be or do whatever..the photographs are important to me...is that a Bride-zilla moment? How un-feminist is that?

This whole feminist wedding thing has been uber-conscious lately, too. Especially given that I'm in a lot (read: all) gender studies classes. It's kind of weird in some classes to go in there and talk about gender justice or the queer community, or radicalism and then be engaged.  I mean, I like being engaged...love being engaged. I love Ben...however...in some ways I feel like a poser or something. I don't know - it's hard to negotiate and it's also hard to explain what I'm doing to alleviate the marriage traditions and oppression. Mostly because the things we're doing seem so small in comparison to the world of hurt that is out there. I mean, I know that no one expects us to uproot the whole institution...but I feel like I'm constantly on the search to be doing more. And when there are things that I do want to do (i.e. have a bouquet) and I don't really know the symbolism behind those things (though I think bouquets have something to do with minimal showering in the middle ages or something) - I don't know what I'm perpetuating. I don't want to be frowned upon and I just want to be able to revel in happiness...but it's a lot of pressure. I want to be really excited but I'm also not really like that. I'm not a giddy person. I don't generally like giddy people. I don't know how to react. Blargh: That's how I'm going react to everything.

To leave this note on a happy one: I asked Anna yesterday. And while she can't really talk because she's lost her voice..I'm pretty sure she was excited. That's my side of the wedding party down. Ben, I'm pretty sure, is 0 for 2...though I'm sure his side knows who they are. I guess we still have 2 years but hey - you can't ever have enough time (or can you?)


Day 5

I promise that this will eventually wear off. BUT...

Tonight I asked Courtney to be in my wedding. That's one attendant on my side...one more to go.

I'm also discovering that explaining a feminist wedding is like explaining that I do work that deals with sexual violence to someone. You get lots of whys and how comes or silences. Which is not to say that it is disapproving, but it's not the most comforting  and it's interesting . Mostly because we are doing it because it's something that we want for us...not necessarily to make a huge political statement, but kinda. I don't know. Ben and I aren't really all that political but when it comes to the type of work that we do, we can't be apolitical.

A lot of the stuff we're doing isn't necessarily feminist as much as anti-wedding establishment. For instance, attempting not to buy into the industry too much. That is to say that I won't be dropping a ton of money on my wedding dress. We're going to cap it at 200 bucks, I think. And I'm hoping not to even approach that. We're also looking at ways to do a bunch of stuff at home. Ben wants to grow our flowers so as not to support the cut flower industry (which is awful for the environment)...I don't know how feasible that is. But hey, we can make the effort, right? We decided on our party favors, too. That will save us some good money there.

Also, we've thought of this predicament of having vegetarian friends in what may be one of the most vegetarian-hostile places around. None of the caterers that I've looked at thus far have any sort of vegetarian entree. Ugh. We'll have to get that all figured out, too. It's hard being a earth/people conscious person.

It's all going to work out. We're lucky that we have such creative people working with us. I wanna have some fun, artsy, trendy things come out of this fiasco.

On a brighter note, we get to go look at a house tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this place works for us. It would be fabulous to know where we're going to be in a few months.

Anyway..that's it for now. Those are the only revelations that I've had the past couple of days - we'll see how the rest of it goes.


3 days in

So we're 3 days into this engagement thing and we've got some stuff planned out. We currently have 28 months - MONTHS - til W-Day. that's a considerable chunk of time. Hopefully we'll be able to save up some moolah in that time so that we can at least do some of the stuff that we want, i.e. not get hitched at the courthouse.

We're planning the wedding tentatively for July 28, 2012. No particular significance other than the fact that Ben will hopefully have some time off of school and *fingers crossed* I'll be in a school getting my summers off. This is what we're hoping for anyway. I've been on hyper mode since Sunday - which I think is fair enough. I mean, this is exciting stuff and I've never been one to dream weddings, therefore I do not have this sort of stuff planned out already nor do I have any idea what this should look like. Also, I wouldn't want to have done that because this isn't just about me or what I want - it's really about the two of us. Really the only reason this feminist couple is getting "married" in this ceremony setting is so that our families can be there and we can have a big party afterward. I mean, who doesn't like to party? (also, I really want the photographs..I love engagement and wedding pictures).

Ben's been really great about the whole thing. I don't know that he was really expecting this sort of frenzy but we've been communicating a whole lot about what we want this to look like, what we agree with, what we want changed from the traditions, etc. Unfortunately, because most of the planning will probably happen while he's busy being all dentist-y...there may not be a whole lot of time for this scrutinizing later.

We're also looking at a house soon in Alton, pretty much right next to the Dental School. It's exciting to be moving again...but also overwhelming. It's weird to think that we won't be living on a campus soon. I'll be commuting to school. We'll be living in a legit house somewhere. Weird.

Well, that's it for now. Today was Ben's birthday so all the festivities and celebrations of this week are adding up and I'm getting much tired much earlier. Plus, we walked around the St. Louis Zoo all day today with little kids. That can take it out of even the most energetic.


The mess has turned..

Into something extraordinary.

Last night - on our 5 year anniversary - the love of my life proposed to me. I'm now engaged, which is weird to say. But it's also wonderful. and strange. It's like this weird feeling of absolutely loving it and not quite knowing what to do with it.

Here's what I mean:
I do social justice work. I see inequity in a lot of places in life with the people I work with daily. Some of my closest friends may not get to marry if that's what they want to do because of who their chosen partner is. I can get married because of circumstances like my partner just so happens to be of the appropriate gender for my gender..whatever that means.
I don't like where the idea of "weddings" comes from. It's a "woman as property" mentality. The father gives away the bride. The groom puts a ring of possession on the bride's finger. She's veils her face for modesty. It all screams patriarchy and subservience to me. Not what I want to perpetuate.
That being said:
I have the ability to get married, to have the benefits of marriage (of which there are many). No movement needs martyrs. By my not getting married, it doesn't mean that some non-normative couple somewhere can get married. I'm not taking marriage away from any one - but does it mean that I'm supporting an institution that discriminates? Does it matter?
The ring is beautiful. I'm not going to lie, I really like it. Ben didn't ask my dad. I might have my dad and brother walk me down the aisle. Not to give me away but so I don't fall. Okay, maybe not, but seriously...only because it's an honor that most fathers want..and I feel that my brother deserves. What honor is that? I'm not sure. At this point, the giving away has lost its literal meaning but I suppose there are still connotations of that. Ben and I also have a relationship that defies patriarchy in a lot of way. We are equal partners in our relationship. We share housework. He may one day make more than me, but because he will "deserve" to - because he will be a dentist. I make more than he does now.
It's tricky, this engagement thing. Especially because we will have a long engagement. Plenty of time to think about these issues with the institution that I have. But I'm excited. I'm happy to call him my fiance. It fits us well.
I'll deal with these issues, I'm sure. It's only been a day. Wish me luck
love and kisses,


what my life has become...

...is a giant mess. It's a sort of organized mess, though. It's been this way for about a month and a half now.
First of all, let me start out by saying that I didn't get the Fulbright. That being said, I'm not torn up about it. Yeah, it sucks that I don't get to go to Vienna but actually I think I would have done a lot of floundering there. There are a lot of things that I would have missed terribly back here and plus, this just means that I can start school even sooner and get out into the real world even sooner. So that's update number one.

 For the rest of my life, these are probably things that I should have been updating all along but it just makes me rage so I couldn't find the time or energy to do such things:

It all started about a month and a half ago with a single phone call that said this whole ordeal was going to last a week (bahahah!) There was a resolution in the Student Senate that attacked the director of OIIR (the office I work for on campus) calling out her and some other administrators for acting unethical when dealing with the RSO Students for Chief. They were placing this argument in a discourse of first amendment rights and freedom of speech (which was BS). I decided to speak out about it in a couple of student senate meeting. Unfortunately my opinion was the dissenting opinion of the time and was not the most popular (though I am wont to think it was the right opinion) and therefore, because people in power and in the know didn't like what I was saying, they decided to use some silencing tactics on me.

The following week I was subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which meant that someone wanted to see what I was sending in my emails and texts. Luckily because I'm a student (though also a worker), I was protected by FERPA (which is an acronym for some sort of confidentiality of school stuffs which I don't remember). The fact is, though, that this was an attack on my integrity and ethics as well as, like I previously said, a sly way of silencing me without blatantly abridging my own first amendment rights - the very rights "they" claim to want to be protecting. Whose student rights do they care about - those who agree with them only?

Also, along with all of this, I have personally been attacked as having been working for OIIR and people assuming that I've been sent to these meetings on behalf of administrators. Which is not at all true. It's amazing how I can't have my own opinion, and when I voice an opinion (though it's probably not mine, according to some) I get attacked. Crazy logic.

Then the Student Senate put another resolution on the table called the Unity Resolution that called for a committee to try to find another symbol, mascot, or emblem (choose whichever word suits you) in order to  mend the rift that has plagued our school. Of course, those who want to preserve and bring back the Chief are up in arms about that as well. So of course, I decide that those tactics of silencing are certainly NOT going to work and I write an editorial to the Daily Illini, our school newspaper. There I'm also attacked and told that I don't know what "pain" is. you can check out the DI editorial here.

Anyway...this is the sort of thing I've been dealing with that have negatively made me rage and be angry. On the up-side...I'm Ally of the Month for April which is a pretty big honor for me. Plus, I've got a lot of support from people around me throughout this whole thing. And I got into Wash U's program (I don't even know if I've mentioned that yet) which is SUPER EXCITING.

Well for now that's the update. I'm hoping to go into more detail on some of the FOIA stuff for sort of posterity reasons but also because I think it's good information to have as a resource.
But i'm sleepy now...so I'm signing off.


Because I don't want to get too ahead of myself

I've been holding back on updating too much. I mean, it might turn out that my life in the next year isn't very exciting at all and I've started this blog in vain.
I'm realizing more and more everyday that my insights that may seem like little nuggets of wonderfulness are only such to me. I learn life lessons everyday - but sometimes I think those life lessons are only applicable to myself. For instance, today I was sitting on the couch reading some articles for such and such a class and I looked into the kitchen where Ben was doing something at the sink. I just smiled to myself because I realized that, though sometimes the days get really long, I really do love him. Sappy, yes? but oh so true.
Also, I have morsels of conversation that will forever stay with me, but they aren't recreate-able. Like the conversation I had with one of my supervisors the other day: we were discussing ways to relinquish unearned privilege (i.e. white privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc.). I didn't understand how this was even possible but he really made me go deeper that I had been willing to do. I really REALLY appreciated it and now I have a different way of approaching my everyday interactions.
But in actuality, the real reason I'm updating are not for these moments of awe, but because last weekend (a week ago yesterday) I received an email that my Fulbright proposal was recommended to the next level. That's pretty serious.
Again, I don't want to get ahead of myself (as the title states) but it's pretty exciting, and certainly documentable news. That means out of all the proposals from all over the United States that were proposed for Austria, mine was 1 of probably 35 or 40. That's pretty good in itself.
I should know (hopefully, fingers crossed) around the beginning of March whether I'll be going or not. Until then, I'm going to be pretty busy. Hopefully sometime next week, I'll be able to update you on the grad school front. I'm supposed to find out from Wash U the week of the 15th.
Until then!
kaytlin ({})



and enjoying my final few days before the hectic-ness that is the last semester of undergraduate college! What!? I know...it seems like just yesterday I was hugging away at my teddybear wishing I could come home because I missed it so much. Now I'm kinda antsy to get back into the swing of things. My, how life changes in four short years.

I was in NC for a week. It's always nice to see everyone, but it can be draining, too. It's hard to explain to people that I only come for a week because a week is about as much as I can handle. It's not the most booming of towns, really I could go for two days and get everything that we usually do in a week done. Dad is doing well, though, which is good. and the whole family is functioning, however dysfunctionally.

But like I said, I was glad to get home and now I'm kinda ready to be back at school. Mostly because I'm have a few new things on the table like a new job and independent study, plus new classes and a class with Anna Banana :-D. It will also make time go by faster so I can find out about the Fulbright and admissions to Wash U. Those are the biggest things weighing now. As long as one of those two things comes through for me, I'll be a happy little duck.

I've worked on a couple of paintings today. I think at some point I want to go take pictures, though I'm not sure where or of what. Maybe I'll think on that tomorrow whilst I memorize my monologue.

Well, that's about it. My life isn't too exciting yet, and I bet it won't be for a little while at least, though I'll keep this updated.



Ahh, the Hoffman clan...

...is so welcoming and wonderful. These last few days have been super. So much laughter and Chicago and laughter and loveliness.

Tomorrow we are going to the Art Institute and the Bean so it should prove to be a good time. Lucy (their french bulldog) loves me. Anna's house is beautiful. Just overall this has been wonderful. I love this family. This may become my second home (if the Hoffman's allow, of course).

Anyway, going to go now. I head out for NC on Wednesday. hmmm...


A new year..

...and a new blog for me.

I've decided/know that this year is going to be a year with a lot of changes. It's going to be a transition year because both Ben and I are graduating from undergrad in May. Ben will be off to dental school somewhere and my future still lies in the hands of the Fulbright committee and various other institutions to decide where (if anywhere) I will be next year.

It's going to prove to be an interesting last semester, too. I'm starting a couple of brand new jobs/independent studies, I'll be working on my senior thesis, and hopefully performing in the Vagina Monologues again *fingers crossed.*

If all goes well, by the end of this year, I'll be writing this blog from Austria. Although, if not, that's not all bad either.

Tomorrow is our annual New Year's bash at the apartment followed by some time with my bestie, Anna, and a week in NC with my dad. We start our last semester of undergrad in 18 days.

What a year this will prove to be, I hope you join me in my journey :)

Auf wiedersehen,