running lightly with just a few cookies

Despite a disappointing show by my own aquafaba cookies, I braved the newly December-cold evening to join the Harvest ladies for a cookie exchange — partly because I wanted to check in with these lovely folks I’d been missing, partly because cookies, partly because a cookie exchange is a whiteppl (orrrr…americanppl?) tradition I’d never ever partaken of before and I was curious.

And the flat, crispy-chewy failure of choc chip meringues (half-batch, no less) felt somehow RIGHT and honest as a representation of my confidence in the kitchen anyhow.

It was FUN. We chit-chatted, oohed and ahhed over the mountains of other, successful batches of cookies, and just caught up on each others’ lives as ladies do. We prayed over Robin as she and Ben are looking toward their move to and new life in Texas.

After it all, we bundled back up and out into the cold(er) night air. I trailed Janelle down the steps and realized that we’d parked in the same row of visitor spots, but didn’t get to walk with her cause she was being carried away on the winds of her excitement to get home / desire to get out of the cold night air into that magic van of hers.

As I watched her skip, jog, run toward that car, I couldn’t help but laugh cause there was something so childlike about her skedaddle. I wanted to skip after her and race to our cars together, but was worried for the too many cookies in my cookie-haul bags. (Cause, what if the force of my gallops crushed the cookies against themselves? and the like.) I watched her dash faster and faster away and suddenly felt so old and weighed down, a bagful of cookies in each hand. Imagined her hands, free of cookie bags — or at least only holding one, lightly filled one, maybe — and grasping instead at the fresh night air.

I walked slowly back to my own car, waving Janelle off awkwardly with the coupla free fingers on my one hand with the smaller bag of cookies and laughing, still, at what a cute, kidlike run hers was. Sad for myself for being so weighed down by cookies, but conflicted about that, cause…like I said, cookies.

Unexpected notes to self re: cookie exchange: Don’t be so greedy with things that they keep you from running in the refreshing night air when you want to. Learn to live with less, to consume less, to enjoy lightness more.

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renovation diaries: bathroom edition

“Much to my dismay, married life has NOT been all fun and games.”

^That’s my honest answer to the well-wishing people in my life who ask me how married life is going.

Just tryna be honest, you know? Because sharing about struggles honestly is way more helpful — for me and for others — than pretending like everything is gucci.

Not only have we been wedding planning/condo buying/honeymoon planning/overtime working for the past few months, we decided that wasn’t enough adulting and threw in some home renovations into the mix! We made the plans, packed up our things, and went off on our honeymoon for two weeks.

Then we came back to madness at our condo — truly, who knew renovations for that tiny bathroom would explode construction all over the house? — and housesat at JoQuy’s for a well-timed 10ish days. We thought we’d be done and ready to stop living out of suitcases, ready to move back home home after that. But the saga (and the nightly tears) only continued… Seriously, I stress-cried every night for two weeks, and Mark was REALLY confused about what he had signed up for with this whole marriage thing, waffling back and forth in his emotional welfare with my waffling back and forth between “It’s okay, it’s not that bad… This way, we get to renovate to exactly what we want!” and “EVERYTHING IS TURRIBLE AND COVERED IN DUST AND I JUST WANT TO DIE I HATE RENOVATIONS.” #renovationsPTSD

Five total weeks of living out of suitcases, a million politely worded emails back and forth with the contractors, two million crying llama giphys (and one mom who pitied yet laughed at me also), one bathroom door that wouldn’t close for a while cause the toilet was too big, a missing drill bit and dustpan and lockbox, two complaints from the condo assosh objecting to secret Saturday renovations, two weeks’ extra time, and five rounds of mopping and swiffering the floors later…we’re finally done. And it’s now a whole different season from when we began this whole saga. Yesterday, they wrapped everything up and we cleaned well into the evening, forgetting/forgoing dinner and eating gas range s’mores at 11 pm instead.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster because I hadn’t wanted to renovate in the first place; this was Mark’s idea. And because this was “SO UNFAIR TO ME,” my inner raging baby was out in full force, weeping and complaining about all the inconvenience and sorrow of this whole debacle. We’ve learned a lot about the depth of Mark’s patience and the shallowth of my capacity for discomfort.

I think yesterday’s wrap up was good timing, though, because we sort of fell to a place where I saw through the clear waters the bottom of Mark’s patience well and was afraid that I might actually hit rock bottom. And I shivered. And pulled myself together, thinking of the weaving of all the different threads of experiences that life actually is — the beautiful and the coarse.

And I wish the proportion of crying llama giphys and life lessons here were a little more balanced in this post, but it just…is not. But the thing is, despite the half-jokes about how renovations were tearing our young marriage apart, we’re still together and bonded a little stronger for it all. Truly.

Go here for photos and more angst.

life at sarlington ridge: day 10

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The internet.

We haz it.

At last!

And we eat cake (and beer) — perched atop the new furniture crush, the c table — while planning our honeymoon to faraway lands. Basil plant, courtesy of Mama Lee, peeks out from between the bookshelf and the bike. The convector hums quietly on and off, giving us the gift of in-the-background temperature control, and we sit in the glow of yellow bulbs we haven’t bothered to change from the last residents. The piles of things are shrinking; the space to breathe, growing.

One by one little thing, our [where the heart is] is getting settled into.

And I’m not taking any little thing for granted.

things to be relieved about

  • The smiley face that came in the text reassuring me, “No worries about the bumper” and thanking me for leaving a note in the first place.
  • That SIGH-der of relief and those 10 days of anxiety that preceded. Dear God we r not ready.
  • How we can stay up late talking about insecurities and anxieties and comfort each other like two wee babes in the middle of a dark night. Waking up together to a faithful new morning again and again.

Here, nature mingles with man.

“Thank you for this wonderful wedding weekend.”

We have: one tiny bathroom with a counter full of two people’s bathroom things, one tiny fridge with two people’s worth kimchi and 4/5ths of a chocolate mousse cake, one address at which we’ve been living one married life for approximately 2.5 days.

Mark makes the bed and runs loads of laundry, to pick up those good hubby points, and I water the plants and go through the piles of paper that crowd the tiny breakfast bar.

Moments from the Wonderful Wedding Weekend that made all of the above little details possible. Overshare warning: This is just a memory dump so I can remember all the little bits. Feel free to skip along through to the pics, if you’re not about the words. 🙂

  • One last sinkful of dishes at JoQuy’s before heading down to Cville.

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  • Friday evening rehearsal, running through it all TWICE in an hour, aw yeah. Being crowded out at 5pm sharp by the next wedding party, which had about 50 (!) people. Asking and finding out about the FULL MASS ceremony that theirs would be, tomorrow, in the time slot at the Chapel right before us. Not freaking.
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YAWL LOOK GOOD
  • Realizing that two bridesmaids and one groomsman would not be making it to the rehearsal. Still not freaking.
  • JT’s gift of a train-flattened, railroad-tracks-rock-throwing penny.

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  • Friday night Kroger run for sundry things like spray bottles for the flower stank and index cards for maid-of-honor speech notes. Reminiscing about “late night Kroger runs” and realizing that it’s only 8:30 pm. Feeling old.
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“This is the one weekend when I will indulge all your photo-taking.”
  • Salon Isabel~ Where we all got our nails did in the comfort of our hotel room.
  • Slow Saturday morning that found me and Rebs at the fitness center of the English Inn — talking about girly things like periods and constipation, as if it were any normal day.

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  • Janelle’s crucial snack run!! She provided us with lunchtime sustenance in the form of Wheat Thins and grapes and craisins. ❤
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snackin’ schoi
  • Getting started early on the photos, thanks to Danielle’s professional 40-minutes-early arrival. Somehow blowing through those 40 minutes and being right on time for the next thing. Wondering about how she would take those hanging-dress pictures, turning around, all of a sudden seeing all those dresses hanging there like it’s no big deal. Wowie.

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  • Running out the door, somehow right on time.
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beep boop
  • First look, first exclamation: “Hey it’s not that bad!!” -Mark, referring to my dress. Nice. 😛

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  • The Vogue/GQ-worthy photos on Grounds, flowers over flowers and “Mouth slightly open but not smiling!! Just like Isabel!”
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bridesmaids! ❤
  • Waiting for our Chapel time, chillin on the Rotunda steps with bubble tea in hand.
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a fine day for bubble tea
  • Getting really really really excited as we all stood and waited and prayed in the anteroom of the Chapel, just behind the piano-playing JT.
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clutch selfie stick
  • Starting right on time cause everyone / everything was ready. What?!
  • Walking down the aisle, arm in arm in arm with mompops. Feeling surreal. Getting there, wishing I could do it again and look at the people’s faces.
  • Shoutout to the blog, once, twice, thrice: Pastor Jeff in his message to us, Markling in his vows, me in mine… Unintended self-advertisement galore.
  • Shivering a lil bit in my shoes up there as we read our vows to each other. Part nerves, part muscle tiredness.
  • Recessional-ing to Better Together together, with our wedding party close behind.
  • Sneaking around the Chapel to get to the reception and realizing that we were on track to beat most of our guests to dinner — even though we had planned so meticulously to get everyone their supper ASAP!! But loitering loitering is a natural human thing — and a sign of a good party — so we just sucked it up and hung around outside The Local while we waited for everyone else to get there.
  • Mark STEPPING ON MY DRESS and finally tearing the hem. “Well… At least we’ve taken all our pictures already!!!!!”
  • The two dads’ welcome speeches, sweet in their own ways.
  • The Local! In all its twinkly lights glory. As the sun set, the warm lights rose and made the conversations sparkle all the more.

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  • Isaac’s best man speech, in which he socially inaccurately referred to Mark trying to “get with Madison.” ROFL.
  • Isabel’s maid of honor speech, in which le blog was given YET another shoutout and in which my sister totally showed me up with her index card eloquence.

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  • So many moments during the reception where I would look up and see pairs and clusters of chatting with other people they didn’t know before. And thinking, “Oh yeah, they would have really good conversations together!”
  • Nominations for: Best Dress, Best Dessert. And compliments like “simple and gorgeous” and “you guys made it look effortless,” which is EXACTLY what we were going for!! Keep ’em coming, yawl.
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photo cred to Minsu C.
  • Realizing, at the end of the evening, that I hadn’t had ANY of the cheese on the plentiful cheese board. And having Jane overhear my offhand wistfulness-for-cheese comment and literally packing up ALL OF THE PIECES. And carting that all the way back up to Nova, stinking up the trunk. ❤ (And making our first batch-cooked meal, mac&cheese, naturally. See Married Life photos, below.)
  • LittleJohn’s and Cookout after party, reveling in post-wedding freedom from dresses and hair and the need to refrain from sugary oily food in order to keep the pimples at bay. FREEDOM.
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our peeps ❤
  • Making our Cville rounds the next morning: Bodo’s and ShenanJoe’s and reveling in the weekend that was wonderful. Feeling all aglow, all belatedly, and making dinner plans to prolong the partying just a little longer.

Aaaaand now some photos of married life thus far:

last single thursday

Last Thursday as single people!

It’s one of those days that started off just dandy (got some good sleeps!) and went on to be frustrating (stayed late at work!) and ended with some overly emotional responses to normal-life stresses (probably PMS! for real, though!).

It’s one of those days that makes me deeply disappointed — in life’s random and unrandom stressors, in myself for reacting to said stressors like a child, in the unfortunate timing of it all… Cause it’s our last evening before the wedding weekend begins!! Why do I have to be this way. 😦 Why is it so hard for me to just suck it up and be nice despite my mood. 😦 Sorry Mark.

But. Growth Togetherly means that we make mistakes and learn from them. The eve-eve of my wedding, and here I am stressed about condo renovations. Talk about relative worries. I think I’ve just reached the end of my decision-making rope — I don’t know what the Best Thing To Do now is. I’m tired of deciding on things and answering questions on whether to spend how much of our money here or there.

But I say all this in light of the fact that PMS looms dark and gloomy over me (and my general tiredness). And with the reminder that I am well loved, despite myself. See: Evidence #1 — a little link gem I found in the inbox after I got home this evening, in an email titled “to make you smile.” He knows me so well.

Here we come, Friday! We’ll do better tomorrow.

P.S. Last night sleeping in my single-person bed. WAH.

last single tuesday (or, people and their pre-wedding well wishes)

Last Tuesday as single people.

Last Tuesday night prolonged by driving from the DC small group, to Mark’s, then home to Annandale. Last Tuesday night going our separate ways after that little drive through southeast DC, bellies full of Stef-provided treats and hearts full of quiet conviction.

Scott is a man of encouragements. He spent the better part of the closing of our meeting tonight just telling us how much we’ve meant to him, Stef, the group, and how impressed he is with our faithfulness. Stef prayed specificities and generalities over us — for the wedding and for the coming together of two families and for the fitting of the ring over that dang still-swollen finger.

Scott reminded us that they’d seen us through so many stages of relationship life! That they’ve known us as boyfriend-girlfriend, as engagees, and now (soon) as a married couple. WHAT A SPECIAL THING! It felt all the more surreal for me to think about this, because I’ve never had a lot of friends see me through a lot of different life stages. All those moves kept my friendships in neat little truncated blocks in the timeline — childhood-in-Korea friends, elementary school friends, high school friends, etc.

Another thing to note about these last few days of pre-wedding life is that these days are sweet and full of well-wishing people in your life coming out of the woodwork. People who, for sure, care about you on a normal day, too, but they take special care to check in. “How you doing? Anything feeling too crazy??” “Are you putting on enough lip balm?” “How’s that chin pimple??” “Here’s a poem that made me think of you guys; it’s about endings (but also beginnings)” —

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THIS MADE MY DAY, MADPAD. xoxoxo times a bjillion.

On Closing the Apartment of my Grandparents of Blessed Memory
by Robyn Sarah

And then I stood for the last time in that room.
The key was in my hand. I held my ground,
and listened to the quiet that was like a sound,
and saw how the long sun of winter afternoon
fell slantwise on the floorboards, making bloom
the grain in the blond wood. (All that they owned
was once contained here.) At the window moaned
a splinter of wind. I would be going soon.

I would be going soon; but first I stood,
hearing the years turn in that emptied place
whose fullness echoed. Whose familiar smell,
of a tranquil life, lived simply, clung like a mood
or a long-loved melody there. A lingering grace.
Then I locked up, and rang the janitor’s bell.
“On Closing the Apartment of my Grandparents of Blessed Memory” by Robyn Sarah from Questions About the Stars. © Brick Books, 1998.

last single monday (or, gratitude diaries)

Last Monday as single people, people! This means that, henceforth, we will be waking each other up on those struggly Monday mornings instead of what we’ve been doing for the past 26 years — just solo struggling.

I packed up 95% of my things out of the basement — slowly but surely, just my style. This move is a lil different from other ones because there isn’t really a home ready and waiting for me. Some boxes will continue to live in storage at JoQuy’s, some boxes are living in storage at the condo, and yet several others are moving over to Mark’s apartment in DC while we live that DC life for a month, awaiting the beauty that lies beneath the surface of our condo, post renovations.

It’s a little bit complicated, but I’m grateful for the fact that we don’t have very many things. Our lives are easy to pack, easy to move, easy to store. The allure of lightness makes me want to buy all our furniture from IKEA so that it’ll be take-apartable whenever we wanted. And I’m not unaware of how lucky we are to have Joe and Quyen who are letting us store some things in their basement, to have Mark’s apartment as a backup home, to have this month’s buffer while we figure out this next giant adulting project that is condo renovations. Seriously. So, so grateful.

Wedding prep in the midst of moving/renovations prep means that sometimes, friends come by your home while you’re packing your evening hours away to drop off things they’re letting you borrow for the wedding, and that you come out to the parking lot and chat with them at their car door while the summer evening wanes around us.

Yena came to drop off the polaroid camera we’ll be using for our guestbook, and we caught up carside about her life, next steps, the wedding preparations, our move — you know, just nbd, normal-life things. I’m a little sad that we didn’t get to hang out forreal forreal to celebrate her last few days in nova, but again, gratitude reigns as I think about what a special friend I have in this girl — girl willing to drive all the way over to MY house to drop off HER special camera that she’s letting me borrow for OUR wedding.

Pulse check on Feelings About Wedding today: I am actually/seriously/finally really excited about the wedding. Craftsy little details are taken care of, borrowed things are borrowed, the piles of wedding things are organized and ready to go. Now all that’s left to do is to trust all the people I’ve delegated pieces to — here ya go, here ya go, here ya go. Please take good care of these chunks. *Insert dancing hamster here cause I’m really just excited to go enjoy the festivities.*

Mark wouldn’t say the same, though — he’s busy contacting contractors and setting up appointments for estimates. Once again…GRATEFUL! He called me on his way home, confessing that he’d been stressed about getting me a gift for our wedding day — to which I said, foggetaboutitt. Let’s just write each other nice letters.

Gratitude is the name of the game today!

Last single Tuesday, here we come.

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7/31/17 last Monday as a single person