practice

Christians, Christians assert, are inherently not fully Christian unless they live in community among other believers. It is the practice of being in community that leads us to fully be (and become) who we are (and who we’re meant to be). We’re part of a single body, with varied capacities but a unified purpose. So it makes sense that you belong with other members of that body. Hands, feet, etc.

Widen the scope and it still works: Humans, too, become ever more human by the practice of being in community with other humans. A human in isolation has little hope of fully developing — we need to talk to, look at, study, love, be loved by each other to learn more of ourselves, in turn. The others are our mirrors and windows, shifting at different angles; they show us bits and shadows and sometimes, full-on reflections of who we are, who we would like to be, what we would like to avoid becoming.

And despite all the aforementioned glass metaphoring, our greatest moments of revelation lie in collisions against other humans (and the stormy circumstances of life-in-general that brew said collisions) that sometimes slice right through and reveal the pinky soft flesh of what we’re really made of, just beneath the manicured lawn of all our pretty surfaces.

And if the being among others — at work, in traffic, at home, and in the church — is an essential part of practicing the art of humanness, each day holds that much more meaning, promise. Each day is another day for practice toward becoming more and more refined as a human person. One more opportunity to collect against your 10,000 hours toward master human-ship.

I’m gonna try my best to go to work tomorrow morning with this in mind. That I’m going out into the world to practice my being among people, and to try my darnedest to do good job at this being (a good) human thing. That I won’t fear colliding into people and things but rather embrace those opportunities to learn a lil about myself, to peer into my pinky dermis and below, see what I’m made of, and grow from there. That it’s a gift to be appreciated and used well, not just squandered waiting for another Friday.

Advertisements

trivia-l

It’s often the smallest things that feel like the biggest deal in the fickle world of my emotional life.

Just as the crush of work has eased a bit, I’ve started using the whiteboard at the entrance to our team’s little cubicle block to present passersby with trivia questions with multiple choice answers. Asking about the history of the English alphabet, the short-lived other name of Uranus, the tone in which most toilets flush… etc. So, anything, really, that struck my fancy from Buzzfeed’s list of fun lil factoids.

It was a bit of a struggle to get people to interact with the board at first — people feel weird about interacting with technically-other-people’s whiteboards, I guess. Or maybe it’s the finality of that dry erase marker — declaring yourself right or wrong, even though literally no one is keeping track of who picks which answer. In any case, because of the board-shyness, for the first couple questions, I’d catch anyone who paused at the question and implore them to PICK an answer right there!

But once it got going, the little conversations that would bubble up around that board made me the happiest little cube-dweller EVER. I’d turn right round and engage people in small talk, conjecturing togetherly about what the last letter added to the English alphabet might’ve been (it was J!!) — and how chatting about fascinating it would be if Uranus had been named LOUISE at one point (it wasn’t; GEORGE was the correct answer there). Just having an excuse to interact with the people who walk, eat, talk, work around me all the time on subjects not related to work was refreshing, even life-giving.

And the beautiful thing is that it costs zero dollars. Takes no more than a few seconds of everyone’s lives. But gives us so much intangible connectivity as coworkers and co-cube dwellers.

I’m notoriously intense as a coworker — that’s what my CFA team pointed out as my greatest strength and greatest weakness. It means I focus first and foremost on work, even at the detriment of the opportunities for connection-making with the people who make it all happen alongside me.

As I walked out of the office at the end of the day, that fateful day of the first trivia question, I realized how springy my step was, how positively whistle-while-you-work I was feeling. All cause of a trivia-l little addition to my ordinary workday. In this way, I remember how it’s in all the little moments that life is actually lived. The big, milestoney markers may be the way you tell the big-brushstroke story of your existence, but it’s all the little crumbs of daily life that make all the difference in your difference-making.

So we trivia on.

Of dictators and heros

We went over to the Cases today and watched Hero.

Fell into a big conversation about whether we would have followed through with killing the emperor or not.

At first, voted No because, Unification and Peace, yawl.

But then, realized that also goes hand in hand with #dictatorship.

So changed my mind, in favor of diversity and chaos. Mark had always voted Yes, but for (typically) different reasons.

He said, cause, family. Ten years. Promises. People who are relying on you.

I said, diversity. Freedom. Even though Chaos.

Big picture vs. individual story. It prevails again and threatens to divide our kingdom!!

Was riding on a veritable cloud nine until thoughts turned dark and I wondered if I enjoyed these conversations with the Cases so much just because they are right at that level of interesting—small enough to be graspable, big enough to scratch that brain itch. Maybe it’s all just an ego trip.

Or maybe it’s just a break from the humdrum, Mark said.

Big vs. small again, indeed.

the people we food with

The February photodump — cam to hard drive — has unearthed a lot of moments of food and people we love. And a glance back through the blog archives reveals that the one post from Feb 2017 is something of a “food and folks” post, too.

Guess February is the month of good food and good company.

We’re in a real groove of normalcy now — there are people we meet up with, month after month. People we make plans with at the end of each meet up, everyone scrounging through our phones for another weekend that’ll work, in a few weeks’ time. We make plans, commit to see each other soon, bring/find food, and eat together for the sake of catching up together.

I’m grateful for these grooves.

I always used to pride myself a lil bit on the fact that my closest friendships were based not on the frequency — or even the overall quantity — of time spent togetherly. “Quality over quantity,” I’d say, my metaphorical nose in the air.

But these days, I’m yearning for the regularity of an oft-seen face. Or two or three or five. Now my calendar is full of people I’ve seen “just a month ago,” which sometimes still doesn’t feel like enough. I want normal-life, humdrum conversations, about work and commutes and recipes we’ve tried — sprinkled in with vast contemplations about life, too, duh.

The important thing — and the thing that makes me a more grown up person now than when I was in college, with my nose in the air — is to recognize these seasons of life as such, and appreciate each for its own reasons.

College was a time of mad dashes through classes and clubs and homework AND friends. I was bombarded by life — in the best way, as college does — and thoughts and conversations and growth and friendships were happening all naturally (and also, somehow, so magically). In the wee hours in a dorm room. At the dining hall over breakfast. During afternoon nap/study sessions in the hush of the library. And those quarterly mad catch-up sessions with the besties were enough, because that’s all my life had room for.

And that was good for then.

But now, days and evenings clock in and out with a cozy regularity that I can sometimes confuse with monotony. And life these days is filled with dinners that need cooking, plants that need watering, sleeps that need getting. I dunno what exactly it is that’s changed, but my heart, it yearns for friends who are close and near. Heart-wise and commute-wise.

How foolish of me to have turned my snooty little nose up at the beauty of relationships built over time and shared everydays.

How grateful I am now, to scroll through photos of familiar faces, month after faithful month — sharing food, sharing our time, sharing stories of the little things that have mattered to us in the past few weeks.

How grateful for these grooves.

(And, ahem, the photos.)

man vs. nature

There’s something satisfying about nature stopping us in our tracks to do something of its own accord — no matter the plans of the humans.

Something deep in the way that a solar eclipse brings a bunch of different people from a bunch of different office spaces all outside — or at least toward the windows — to marvel at a thing that rotates above us every other day, too.

Something sweet about the way traffic stops for a baby squirrel in the middle of a road.

Something majestic about a winter snowstorm — that we try to wrangle with crazy monikers like SNOWPOCALYPSE or WINTERBOMB — that stops societies, businesses, even governments. 😉

Something humbling about the way a houseplant can make you feel — overjoyed and proud like a mama bear when they’re shiny and well, and then despairing the next moment, when they start dropping brown leaves.

All this to say, that

I’d love a snow day tomorrow.

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.

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

IMG_0893.JPG

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.

IMG_0677.JPG

  • 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.
IMG_0684
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.

IMG_0702.JPG

  • 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.
IMG_0682
“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.

IMG_0695

  • Janelle’s crucial snack run!! She provided us with lunchtime sustenance in the form of Wheat Thins and grapes and craisins. ❤
IMG_0696.JPG
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.

IMG_0691

  • Running out the door, somehow right on time.
IMG-0159
beep boop
  • First look, first exclamation: “Hey it’s not that bad!!” -Mark, referring to my dress. Nice. 😛

IMG-0180.PNG

  • The Vogue/GQ-worthy photos on Grounds, flowers over flowers and “Mouth slightly open but not smiling!! Just like Isabel!”
IMG-0143
bridesmaids! ❤
  • Waiting for our Chapel time, chillin on the Rotunda steps with bubble tea in hand.
IMG-0147
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.
IMG-0167.JPG
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.

IMG-0152.JPG

  • 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.

IMG-0146.JPG

  • 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.
IMG-0177
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.
IMG_0697
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: