Try Something New 2018

Try Something New: New Things in December

In this blog, I pledged to try one new thing each month in 2018. The new thing could be trying a new food, doing a new activity, or going someplace new. I have asked my fellow readers and my fiancé to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I will tell you all what new thing or things I have tried. I will also discuss the barriers that caused me to not try it before.

Well folks, this is the last Try Something New post. This was fun while it lasted.

My first new thing was joining a choir.

Barriers to joining a choir: I actually wanted to join the children’s choir at my old church, but by the time I quit baton to join the children’s choir, I was about to be too old for the choir, do I became an usher instead. When I was 8 years old, I learned I couldn’t sing after I listened to myself sing using some kind of tube in music class. I still joined chorus in elementary school for 4th and 5th grade since anyone who wanted to be in the chorus could be in the chorus. In middle school, I only did band class because you had to audition for chorus.

Why I joined the choir: There is no choir experience necessary. When I first wanted to try out the church years ago, I wanted to join the choir. Now that I’m a member, I tried it.

I almost didn’t try out the choir. Why? Because during the first exploring membership class, a guy asked if they’d want his horrible singing voice in the choir. One of the people leading the class said no. I also found out that the choir director does private lessons when one parent said her son is taking piano lessons from the choir director. I’m not a very good singer (but singing along to anime years ago improved my singing voice), so I almost didn’t join the choir. During last month’s potluck, I was able to talk to the choir director and found out that most members don’t have formal vocal training. So I decided to try out the choir.

My thoughts on UU choir:

  • I started having fun as soon as we started warm-ups
  • I tell people I’m an alto, but I may actually be the rare female tenor going by everyone singing each part together. Still sang the alto part since I didn’t know women could be on men’s parts (and vice versa. A guy sang soprano for the song Carol of the Bells, though he wasn’t going to sing that high)
  • A week later, the choir (including me) performed Carol of the Bells
  • I have always been a performer, so it’s great to be back into the performing world

I also tried a fancy ham called prosciutto!

Barrier to trying prosciutto: Prosciutto is a ham and I don’t like ham.

Why I tried prosciutto: I didn’t know what it was until I put it on my plate during the appetizer time for a holiday party and when Franklin told me what it was, I didn’t want to put it back on the tray.

My thoughts on prosciutto:

  • It smelled odd
  • It was okay for a few bites
  • It’s ham. Why did I try this? Bad idea, me. But I made up for it by eating all the pepper jack cheese that was there. I love pepper jack cheese.

And to finish things off, I was a guest writer for Black Girl Does Grad School!

There was no barrier to writing the guest post, but I planned to write about my experience in my first semester of grad school. I finally had something to write, but I decided to wait until after I was done with the semester to write it.

My thoughts on being a guest writer:

  • Getting to at least 500 words was the hard part
  • Giving myself time to write my entry helped me to come up with things to add and edit since I was writing during breaks from studying
  • I liked seeing my writing on the internet on a site other than this blog

So that’s it for my 2018 Try Something New pledge. I will soon write up my thoughts on the pledge.

School · Self-Reflection

One Semester Down, Lots More to Go

I used up a lot of my blog brain energy writing a guest post about grad school for another blog, so this blog post will not include everything I would have included. Find my guest post here.

I finished my first semester of grad school last week. Like with my summer math class (which I luckily got a B in, after much hard work studying for the third exam since I didn’t do so well in the second exam and the three exams were worth 75% of my final grade. Needed at least a B in the class since I’m a grad student in an undergrad math class), I had to develop the study habits required to do well in college. Unlike in undergrad, I need to pass with at least a B in my classes. Unlike in undergrad where you need to have at least a 2.0 to graduate, you need at least a 3.0 to graduate from grad school.

I also have the additional challenge of being a “conditionally accepted” student. Because I had under a 3.0 GPA in undergrad (but over 2.75 GPA. I was closer to the 3.0, though), I need at least a 3.0 GPA in my first year of grad school to stay in the computer science program. It’s why I had to learn study habits that I was never taught for undergrad. I’m happy to say that I’m on track for meeting the minimum GPA to stay in the program.

Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis: If you remember back to this blog, I said I had to take prerequisites since my Bachelor’s degree was not in computer science. This class was my easier of the two classes since I’m a developer at work and have learned these concepts before in an intensive 20-week training for my first job out of college. The only difference is that I was learning C++ in this class, which I find easier than Java. I experienced anxiety once during the lab for this class. I liked having a lab in this class since we could practice the concepts we learned.

Final grade: A.

Computer Organization and Assembly Language: This was my final prerequisite class. I’m glad I’m done with that class since that class was a lot harder. This class is what the university calls as satisfactory/unsatisfactory class (otherwise known as a pass/fail class) and you needed at least an 80% to get satisfactory (it IS grad school, after all). I was worried about passing this class because the final exam was 40% of the final grade and that exam was tough, even though I had been studying for that exam since this month started.

Final grade: Satisfactory. (Thank goodness)

I did the graduate career exception option for discrete math. This meant the class would not count towards my GPA, which is good since I would have to apply again as an undergraduate non-degree seeking student if I wanted it to count towards my GPA and I didn’t want this class to bring down my GPA because I need at least a 3.0 to not get kicked out of the program. Pass/fail classes only count towards your GPA if you fail the class, so this didn’t count towards my GPA either. Only my data structures and algorithm analysis class counted towards my GPA.

Current GPA: 4.0

Now that I’m done with my prerequisites, I’ll be getting into the core classes needed to graduate. A professor warned everyone in my class that things will be getting more intense. Next semester, I will take a computer networks class and a database management systems class. Thank goodness the wedding planning won’t kick into high gear again until after the spring semester is over.

DiaryofSelf Marries in 2020

The Importance of Representation in Wedding Media

This blog was originally supposed to be titled “The Wedding Industry is Too White!” This is also kind of a part two of an early blog post I made where I talk about the importance of representation. While it has a very similar concept to my early blog post, this is focused more on weddings.

Raise your hand if you’re not the norm when it comes to what you’d see if you look at photos of weddings. *raises my hand and sees the hands of plus-sized people, non-white people, people with unnatural hair colors, couples made up of two people of the same gender, interracial couples, etc.* Well good news for you is that you will very likely find yourself represented in the real weddings featured on Offbeat Bride. The bad news is that the average vendor is not going to represent people who aren’t regular-sized white men marrying regular-sized white women. They’re getting better, though.

I got the idea for this blog post when I was sitting in my basement thinking about the lack of seeing myself in many wedding vendor websites. Not even two hours later, someone felt the same way about the lack of black representation and posted it on the weddingplanning subreddit. People started becoming inspired to post photos of their wedding or engagement photoshoot so other engaged black people can see themselves. I’m not sure if Franklin would want me to post pictures of us in public (which is why I haven’t posted the engagement video on this blog).

So instead, I decided to choose vendors based on if they represented me on their websites or social media. While being a black woman, white man couple is very rare to see, I gave bonus points to vendors who represented the black woman, white man interracial couple, but there had to be at least black representation. I eliminated a photographer because he only showed white people on his very limited portfolio online.

  • The DJ has pictures of black weddings on the website
  • The photography/videography business is black-owned and has a black woman, white man couple represented
  • The officiant openly affirmed that he is comfortable with interracial relationships (this was asked in the FAQ), and was in an interracial relationship before his partner died, and had black couples represented

For some, me choosing vendors based on what seems like social justice needs may rub people the wrong way, but for me, it’s necessary, especially since I was feeling bad about not having any black vendors before finding our photographer. If you, a vendor, do not feel comfortable about having minorities or same-gender couples posted on your site, that’s your problem and you’re going to lose customers just by showing the cookie cutter skinny white woman with a white man. People notice when they’re not being represented and I decided not to even consider a photographer because their limited selection of pictures to see on their website were of white couples.

Please, I plead everyone who’s not the wedding norm to vote with your wallets, to post engagement and wedding pictures if you’re comfortable, and give more representation for those who are the “other”.

DiaryofSelf Marries in 2020

T – 18 Months: First Wedding Countdown Milestone!

Hello readers! This is DiaryOfSelf and I can now say that I am 18 months away from walking down the aisle and saying I do to marrying Franklin. I’m not going to do any major counting down on any websites or apps until after my cousin’s wedding at the end of April. I’m kind of counting down HIS wedding because I’m going to be a bridesmaid. By the time of his wedding, Franklin and I will be less than 14 months out from our wedding.

So let’s start with what I’ve done so far for my wedding!

  • Booked the venue
    • Comes with an in-house caterer
  • Booked all the major vendors
    • DJ
    • Photography and Videography Team
    • Officiant
  • Asked my grandmother to read a wedding-related scripture
    • The bible scripture will be of my choosing since I don’t want any verses with the wife having to obey or have to be subservient sexist bullshit
  • Decided on the women who will stand beside me during the ceremony
    • Have not asked them yet. I’ll do that about 9 or 10 months beforehand
  • Decided on who will be the best man and two of the groomsmen
    • They won’t be asked yet, but the best man and one groomsman will be asked sooner than the other two because they have to fly from out-of-state
  • Chose wedding colors
    • The colors will be blue and gold, since that’s one of the results that showed up when I was looking at a royal color scheme (since my wedding will have some similarities to the royal wedding)

What we’ll be doing next between the end of the semester and the 12-month mark

  • Get a strict hold on the guest list
    • We’ve been asked by vendors and we just keep giving them a range based off of what we came up with when having the venue consultation back in September
    • We want to start paring down the guest list if we go past the maximum our venue coordinator set and add people if we’re under the minimum
    • We need to decide the minimum age of kids to invite
      • Exception will include my niece, who will be the flower girl (she’ll be 6 at the time of the wedding) and Franklin’s nephew, who will be the ring bearer (he’ll be 3 at the time of the wedding). They’re in the wedding.
  • Maybe we’ll figure out the last groomsman, but I know for sure we will need to get that figured out by the time I asked the women whom I want standing by my side

Ugh, the next six months are going to drag since there won’t be major needed bookings to be done.

DiaryofSelf Marries in 2020 · Rant

Stop Proposal Shaming! Rant and a Recommendation for Proposing

Another edition of “DiaryOfSelf needs to stop going on Reddit because she’s become way too sensitive to any wedding-related things she did or didn’t do”…

It is now apparently a bad thing to to a proposal in front of people. People say proposals are SUPPOSED to be private, and this is an opinion shared by the sheep who go on Reddit AND some people in an online group when I announced how my proposal happened. I had to tell the online group that the way the proposal happened is how I WANTED IT!

I’m somewhat of a narcissist so I WANTED at least my parents there since I wanted someone to take pictures and video. I wonder why everything I’m doing is wrong in the eyes of the internet. Is it because I’m staying traditional and everyone else is running away from and actively avoiding tradition? Is it because I’m somewhat of a narcissist and NEEDED an audience (although it ended up being a small audience)? Why do people feel entitled to be sheep and parrot the same wedding-related bullshit? Just stop, internet. Just stop.

I was proposed to at the beginning of kickboxing class. There were a little more people there than usual for the summer (for some reason, there would barely be many people this past summer compared to my first kickboxing summer), one of the coaches who was recovering from hernia repair surgery was there, and I knew the proposal was about to happen when I saw my parents show up with my brother (I was surprised my brother was there). Like I said, I wanted my parents to be there and I have wanted that aspect since I was with my previous ex.

This leads to my recommendation on proposals. You and your significant other should TALK about how you or your significant other want to be proposed to. Do you want a private proposal? TALK ABOUT IT! Do you want only a small handful of people around? TALK ABOUT IT! Want to be proposed to in front of a lot of people? TALK ABOUT IT! Talk about it during the same time you have the pre-proposal talk when you talk about what you want in the future (like if you want to get married or if you want to have kids). As people say in varying ways, “The proposal shouldn’t be a surprised, but when and how should be a surprise.”

DiaryofSelf Marries in 2020 · Rant

Enough with the Budget Shaming! Another Wedding Rant

I’m going to do my best to not commit budget-shaming myself, but I’m writing this rant for a reason.

Remember when it was seen as a bad thing to not attend college? Now people who go into the trades shame college students for getting a degree and feel like trades give people a real future. Now, when it was thought to be weird to have a small wedding budget, now it’s seen as a bad thing to have a budget larger than $10,000 and sometimes you even get shamed for having a budget larger than $5,000.

And I hear the same unoriginal rhetoric of “We’d rather put the money towards a house” because people don’t have original thoughts anymore or don’t know how to form their own opinions. I hear it from people who were already married! I get it. Not everyone is/was able to afford the wedding they want. It doesn’t mean you have to take out your jealousy on those who want a more expensive wedding.

I first saw the budget-shaming against higher budgets on Reddit. It’s one reason why I don’t really visit the wedding planning subreddit anymore, though they’re more anti-traditional than anti-higher budgets. However, that subreddit seems to attract a huge majority of people whose entire wedding budgets are under $10,000 even though there’s already a subreddit for that. Not only do people on the internet have to budget-shame, people at my job budget-shame too! One person used the unoriginal rhetoric while another person said everyone they knew with weddings $20,000 or more ended up divorcing. So by other people’s logic, Franklin and I will be divorced because we’re not having a small wedding. It got to the point one time that I actually told off some people at work for the budget-shaming. You know, just like I called out sexism on a project I got kicked off of. Luckily the most vocal budget-shamers WILL NOT be invited to my wedding.

Look, I’m not going to spend $60,000 on my wedding that Franklin and I are paying for ourselves, and I’m not going to spend 5-figure amounts of money on a dress. However, we’re definitely going to be spending more than $10,000 on our wedding. I can afford it, and I’ve shared some ways to save money that I learned with Franklin. I don’t tell my brother that I’m having a real wedding while he just went to the courthouse. I don’t tell family members that they’re poor because they had a wedding at their house (I have been to three family weddings held at someone’s house). So why do the people who spent less on their wedding have the right to be openly judgmental on MY wedding or anyone else’s more expensive wedding?

All in all, stop budget-shaming people who want to spend a lot of money on their wedding.