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.

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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

last single sunday (or, living in a commune)

It’s our last Sunday as single people, and we’re sitting at the kitchen table typetypetyping away at our respective little screens as JoQuy watch Games of Thrones on the big screen.

It’s a comfortable routine we’ve gotten into — with more typetypetype than we’d like, as the wedding-planning/condo-buying/renovations-researching to do lists have grown, but a comfortable routine nonetheless. Sundays afternoons are our unofficial hangout hours with Joe and Quyen, as the two couples of us return home from respective Sunday services and post-church lunch dates back home to recharge a lil and ready ourselves for the week ahead.

I make my breakfast smoothies (a tradition that Quyen has gotten in on, too), Mark takes care of his unruly inbox, Quyen preps her lunches for the week, and Joe putzes around doing whatever needs doing around the house. Rogue hangs low and revels in the daytime presence of all four of us at home, a rare occasion in itself.

Living at Joe and Quyen’s these past nineish months has been a lesson in the beauties of commune living. Before moving in, I’d been a little worried about the sharing aspect of my living with them — would it be uncomfortable? awkward? inconvenient? to share living room and kitchen? Would I be too much in their way? Will it be a bother than I’m taking up room in their fridge? — but the sharing has been the best part of living here. The sharing of food, of time, of efforts, of conversations. It makes me appreciate and understand those multigenerational Korean families of old so much better.

When all four of us are home at Joe and Quyen’s, there’s a hustle and bustle in the cooking of dinner, in the doing of the dishes, in the taking care of the laundry that elevates daily mundanity to something a little more festive. Unexpected deliciousness appears on the dinner table (unexpected cause you weren’t necessarily involved in the cooking of said deliciousness), and evening “How was your dayyy” rituals are varied and interesting. After living our lives as four individuals — or even as two couples, as we often do on weekends — we can come together as one unit of several parts and take care of the business of homemaking with much more efficiency than is possible in life as a singleton.

In my apartment on Jefferson Park Avenue, Charlottesville — my very first solo home after as a postgrad adulting person — I remember being amazed at how much time and energy it took to toil against the daily entropy of a home. Dust is falling over your scant furniture all the time, and dirty dishes will pile up against you if you don’t keep an eye on that kitchen sink. Not to mention how much time it takes to go grocery shopping, prep the vegs and things, cook a proper meal, and clean up after yourself. All for the pleasure of eating for like 12 minutes. Independence is not only exhilarating and freeing, but also just time consuming and energy intensive. And lonely at times, of course.

Being, instead, a part of a whole means that you can specialize in the niche of homemaking that you enjoy (or are, fortunately or unfortunately, better endowed in). I’ll do the dishes err day to clean up after Quyen’s delicious cooking, and Mark and I were happy to chip in as free labor when JoQuy started putting down their new hardwood flooring to replace the carpet. We help with the dog-walking when they’re staying out late, and they feed me real food when they see me whip out those ramen packets at dinnertime. The economy of this system boggles my mind — and I think: This is how civilizations were built!!!! Cause, seriously, if every person had to live in their own singleton home and keep up with full-time jobs and make dinner for themselves, I dunno how far we would have gotten with society and all. There’s not enough energy (or time) for all that and progress.

And the even more beautiful thing about this whole system is that if you find yourself in a commune with people you love/like/enjoy, home is not only a well-oiled machine of efficiency but a warm place full of good food and company you’re glad to take refuge in.

I knew I had a good thing here when I first moved in, but it’s taken me nine months to articulate exactly why. It’s with bittersweet smiles — and promises of future weekend hangouts — that I close out this one last Sunday, hangin with JoQuy in their living room. They just finished their episode, so the night routine of taking Rogueshi out for his night pee begins — the happy jingle jingle of his collar bids us all a good night.

So many candids, so little time. These are only the July 2017 ones, but someday I gotta do a JoQuy post so they can see (and so I can remember) all the happy moments they had…with their best basement tenant ever ;). Thank you, JoQuy, for being the best upstairs landlords ever. No winky smiley needed there.

 

Better Together

It has happened!

Merk snapped at me — truly and fully — for the first time today.

Yeah, we’ve had our disagreements, our discussions-not-fights, our momentary crankinesses, of course… But this was something different. A line I’d waltzed all over long ago, but one that Mark hadn’t crossed yet.

We were writing up an email response — it was something about the wedding; wedding planning, appropriately, is the greatest test of pre-marriage collaboration — and I tossed Mark some sass, accusing him of not paying attention. “Did you even read this email?”

Apparently that was a trigger question. Because he has been paying attention!! Because he has been putting in a lot of effort, going above and beyond to not leave me floundering in all the planning. And I know that. But I accused anyway, because I am a scraggly human with not enough grace. And he responded, with a snappy word and real contempt in his face. [Description is vague because (…thankfully?) I already don’t remember the content of what he said. Just the feeling around the kernel.]

It didn’t become a full-fledged fight, though. Not because I’m a gracious being, but exactly the opposite. The self-pitying villain in me didn’t have any ammo to go on — everything he had done, I had already done today, ten-, twenty-, thirty-fold. And as always, he’d taken it in stride and with grace.

So the snap was short-lived, we apologized and laughed our way over the bump, and I loved him more than I had before. (For recovery makes the muscle stronger.)

But all of this does get me thinking about something I’ve been mulling over; something that’s been bubbling on the back burner because I haven’t had enough room in the front to bring it up and tend to it:

Wedding planning is indeed hard, and no matter how much I’m trying to be the cool, devil-may-care wedding-planning person, I yam stressed. And this kind of reaction under pressure — and honestly, just plain old tiredness, too — is probably a sign that we’re doing something beyond our normal capacities. Really pushing our comfort-zone limits.

Which is fair. Cause, as a couple, Mark and I are planning an event that’s bigger than any other single thing we’ve ever done in our lives so far. Not only in meaningfulness, but in guest list length and in price tag and in coordinative efforts.

Seeing Mark react like that to me, in this way that he’s never revealed before during these past three years of like and love, made me pause and take stock of what a feat we are undertaking. And how proud I am of us; how grateful I feel to be doing it with him. And how we — neither one of us, as singletons — could be doing it alone. As a together-unit, we’re bigger and stronger and more able to do more, better, things, together. And I didn’t tell him any of this in the moment because I was busy being self-conscious and slow at thinking. So hi, Mark! This is what I was thinking about.

It’s been a very long and very short nine months, a period during which time has stretched and condensed to make itself be felt slow and fast in different spans. I’m anxious to stop carrying around a million little wedding details in my head; but I’m even more excited to be married and start living normal life as a together-unit with you, not just wedding planning, but living and working and running errands and cooking dinner and maybe even throwing parties and feeling like they are no big deal, after all this is under our belt. Lava you.

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Just 8d 18h 18m 18s to go!

what friends are for

s: you’re up late!

m: I just washed up and got into bed. wbu??

s: I’m just chilling like a villain

m: heheh
with cheeps???
that’s what I usually do when I’m chillin like a villin late at night.

s: no cheeps. just me and my la croix.

m: ooh la croix is also nice. yesterday, I crushed a third of a bag of WHEAT THINS while despairing late at night.

s: WHEAT THINS
the worst sort of snack for despair
why were you despairing??

 

m: YES cause you can just crush them forever but they are so SUBSTANTIAL.

s: my fridge is nothing but la croix… literally four boxes

m: LOL
dude. that is no fun.
you should at least have some chezz.
s: anyways. back to despair.

m: I was emailing a long catch-up email and despairing because I was having feelings of purposelessness again. remember when I was talking to you last year about how I feel so pointless and maybe I need more stimulation from my work? and I was all interested in law school?
same feelings.

s: oooh
do you feel strongly enough to act on those feelings?

m: but I’m learning, though, that sometimes feelings are just feelings. not necessarily something to dwell or act on, even. not in a depressing way at all, btw. I was re-thinking it all today at work and was like
hey. I’m not actually dissatisfied, though! I really enjoy my work and job and co-workers. sometimes random feels just creep up and trip me up!!
and these past few months, PMS HAS BEEN SO REAL.

s: dang perhaps the wedding stress slowly creeping in

m: like for a few days right before my period starts, I just get SUPER depressive and cry like a dumb baby!!! and then feel much better once I start my period.
it’s the WEIRDEST thing cause I have never been noticeably pms-y before!!
worst part: I am on track to start my period THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
and for the past few months, the app has been ON POINT.
so if I’m despairing right before the wedding, gently remind me that it might be pms and that I’ll be okay.

s: indeed I shall
so many feelings!! I don’t know what that’s like!!

m: it’s exhausting!!

s: it sounds like it.
but it is what it is.
and you are right, sometimes feelings are just feelings and you just need to ride them out

m: yeah. I am just not learning that. 26 years in and just now figuring out my feelings haha

s: sounds like you’ve been having some pretty serious feels though
I caught up on your blog today at work LOL

m: haha it was you!! hehe it’s always satisfying to match up the spikes in views with the peeps.
and yeah indeed. I really wonder why I’m going through all these feelings.
a lot of it isn’t even stuff in my own life. sometimes I’m just sad for things other people are going through.

s: dude.
it’s amazing you can feel so strongly about things that aren’t even happening to you

m: yeah I cannot explain it at all. just like you prolly can’t explain the mechanics of the relative lack of feelings, right?

it’s prolly a mix of heart stuff, head stuff, and then just crazy hormones

but the world is FULL of sadness sometimes! SO MUCH suffering and GRIEF. it’s incredible.

s: it really is.
but then I always feel kind of shallow about the sadness because I usually move on and forget about it super quickly
until I remember it again
and forget again.

m: ooh. but dontcha know, forgetting is my specialty.
sometimes I feel like I should be doing something more drastic to combat the forgetfulness
but I think actually, that my subconscious self is already taking care of it.
tis why I blog and take pics.

s: you live yo life, mads.
perhaps you can compensate by being extra present in the present.

m: 😀
that IS my compensation. that IS what I’m supposed to be doing (and used to be good at!!)
thanks for reminding me, Sarah

s: that’s what friends are forrrr
I’m excited for burgers tomorrow