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.

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

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

 

hi Lauren! 7/6/17

hi!!!!

I’m sorry for such a delayed response… But this is what happens when I get a really good, meaty email to respond to — overwhelmed!! But in the best way! Thanks for sharing with me everything that’s been going on with you (haha though I bet it’s still not everything… I’m sure your life is crazy full of even more things). The OBGYN world sounds crazy and intense indeed, just like you said. And it’s good that you’re figuring out your preferences and aptitudes in a concrete way. AND it’s CRAZY COOL that you’re getting to experience something so special, and enjoy it even if it’s just abstractly 😉

Mark and I are househunting as I type! We were just looking for apartments to rent, at first, but Chris (who has a realtor’s license, hah) told us that we could probably afford to buy a condo or something. So we started looking! And just made an OFFER on a place in Arlington. LIFE IS CRAZY. I feel like we’ve just unlocked pandora’s box of craziness — with the wedding coming up in exactly a MONTH, and trying to buy a condo, and planning a two-week honeymoon… Though that will come later, around late September, THANK GOODNESS.

But aside from the above, life really is so normal and humdrum! Sometimes I miss school because I miss the state of always striving and learning. But these days, I feel like I’m just striving. The learning…still happens, from life in general, but it’s less structured and it’s harder to remember the kernels. Life is fuzzier and fuzzier the older I get. I feel less and less wise and less and less sure of myself as I learn more about the world. I think — fuzzily — this has to do with lacking a sense of purpose in life. I think I’m feeling unmoored and unfocused because I’m not sure devoted to anything that requires all of my effort and attention (like I was in school).

Work is fine, it’s enjoyable and I’m definitely grateful to have my job, but…it’s not all-consuming. But then…is it unrealistic to want that from a job? I’m not sure. I want something to fully devote myself to… I feel like the answer to this is probably God-related, and it makes me wonder how lost and unmoored some non-Christians must feel sometimes. Cause they must be out there, right? People made just like me but without the Christianity piece. Is any of this making any sense?

And Mark is my companion in everything. I’m lucky that he’s so solid and unwavering, counterbalacing my own wishy-washiness. But a lot of times, I feel like we’re just two babies embarking on this huge adventure of life and that we have no idea what’s in store. Mostly I am thinking of home (erm condo) ownership as I say this. I flip and flop between feeling like all these things we’re doing — wedding, moving, planning — are so normal and super humdrum and then feeling like the world is a crazy crazy place!! For letting us do such adult things.

Do I sound like a crazy person?! When I get into these thought spiral funks, I do feel that way sometimes. For blowing things out of proportion, mostly.

Hey is there anything I can pray for you about? I’d love to, if you have any requests.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to ramble and write out my thoughts and feelings! I hope my lack of response wasn’t saddening. I had your email marked as unread in my inbox and thought of you every day since you emailed me. 🙂

Signing off, on a rainy Thursday night in nova!
Madison