travelog update: bachelorette in the Shenandoah

An update!


“Wait wait… Is everyone here? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 yep!”

A weekend of rest and relaxation and selfies and goat-petting. And being impressively well organized and extremely well fed. And consequently, being pretty proud of ourselves for adulting so well. A bachelorette weekend, I guess, is a good time to feel like a put-together adult person. ūüôā

Props to Meesh for the Excel-lent event organization and the crucial face masks, to Iz for bringing along all the food love from Mama Lee, to Clarisse for being our grillmaster and headlamp-ed firekeeper (and for the pervy reminders that we are at a bachelorette weekend, after all ;)), to Grace for butchering a hunk of meat nobody else wanted to touch, to Schoi for the scream-worthy spider discoveries, and to Rebs for everything else — killing said spiders, blowing up then destroying decorative balloons, driving us through the mountains (with two in trunk), and of course, for the selfie stick.


in sickness and in health: chronicles of injuries and caretaking

This surgery’s been a long time coming,¬†though we didn’t know it.


Mark hurt his (ring) finger about a month ago, playing frisbee. He dove for a catch (read: threw his body toward the unforgiving earth with too much confidence in his youth and flexibility) and dislocated and fractured his lil digit.

At first, we thought it was just a dislocated joint, especially because he had “popped it back in” right after the crash. It took an x-ray three weeks later to reveal that he had¬†popped it back in…just not to the right place.

The joint (first one up from the base) was popped out about a finger’s width¬†on top of the rest of the hand, and the bone connecting the two joints was chipped, too. The way¬†the surgeon described it, it seemed like the three weeks’ delay had been like a desert storm on that lil chip, wearing away at it until it was no more.¬†Here, questions abound: where did the fragment go?¬†Does it get reabsorbed into the blood stream? Is there a lot of erosion going on in our bodies, normally?¬†If so, what’s doing all that jostling in there? I didn’t know how to phrase these questions appropriately and quickly enough to ask.

So the surgeon reset Mark’s joint (as a “let’s just see if this works” measure) and scheduled the formal surgery (because we were pretty sure the measure¬†wouldn’t work) for the following Thursday. And since the resetting, Mark was told to keep his hand elevated above his heart — it prevents undue swelling — and thus, the multitude of photos of the Markling in¬†the perpetual worshipful-hand-raise pose.


After that first manual resetting, Mark was¬†in a lot of pain. A¬†desperate, helpless, sleepless¬†kind of pain that demands all your attention but only intensifies¬†when you offer it. He¬†texted me all through those first two nights, unable to sleep — midnight… 1 am… 3 am… 5 am… It was heartbreaking, and I was completely useless¬†to help. We tried getting the surgery moved up, but no luck.

Fear and Powerlessness
But it wasn’t all pain and tears. We did some fun stuff this past month, too. @ Thomas Sweet.
also, Pasta.

The surgery day finally came, and as it approached, Mark’s fear grew and grew. It was kind of astounding to me, because I have an¬†almost unnaturally blase attitude toward¬†medical procedures. Needles, blood-giving, surgery…it’s all NBD to me. All the opposite for¬†Mark. He despises needles, hates the thought of steel¬†objects penetrating his dermis,¬†fears physical pain above all else. Don’t tell the terrorists, but he would last zero seconds under torture…

The fear was¬†palpable and uncontrollable. I was even getting frustrated with him¬†— the fear becoming bigger than a matter of¬†the finger and the pain itself¬†and triggering¬†questions of character, of faith. Why is he so afraid/what is it that makes me not as afraid? At the core, I trust in the medical establishment and their ability to make me better. Does he not believe¬†that? Is this a trust-of-establishment thing? Why does he always expect the worst? Is it a God thing?¬†Does he not believe that God has this under control? Is he even praying?¬†

I tried, really, to be patient — though I broke down at the last minute and mini-yelled at him to “Stop meeping!” right¬†as we were walking into the surgery center. Worst, ever. I know. He forgave me, gracious even amidst the fear.

Behind this tight-lipped smile is fear and anxiety, don’t let him fool you and please pray for him.

We met with the surgeon and discussed what the procedure would be like. Mark was small and shivery in his flimsy hospital gown and high-fashion hair net. We tried to watch Food Network to distract him from the gloomy chill of the pre-op area, analyzing¬†cupcake flavors and laughing at the made-up drama of food competition TV shows. It was hard, though, because the surgeon had just told us that it would not be a good idea for Mark to travel right after his surgery, as we had been planning to do. Mark’s brother was graduating¬†the next day, so we had planned to head down to be there.

It makes so much sense, in hindsight, that we would have to stick around at home and let Mark rest over the weekend, but we just had no idea what it would be like.¬†We are¬†— luckily — both pretty inexperienced in hospital procedures and figured that as long as I did the driving, it would be no big deal for us to travel. Wrong-oh. The surgeon looked at us¬†with¬†the single eyebrow raise almost visible through his tight facial control, questioning our common sense, and advised that it would be best to take it easy all weekend, hang out on the couch, watch TV, and administer meds as necessary.

It was disappointing… But I came to be grateful for the dashed plans, because¬†this meant that both our schedules were completely free for the time that we had expected to be away.

Those four-ish hours in the waiting room flew by… I was busy texting updates and emailing prayer requests, reaching out and asking to be touched.¬†My fear bubble had grown, too, because fear is infectious — I was feeling grave and sad and¬†sending out pings in hopes of receiving some back. And receive I did.

People came through.¬†Events like these, I realized, clarify who¬†makes up your community and family. People called, emailed, texted, visited (!), letting us know that they loved us and were praying for Mark. Mark’s family even came up on Saturday to see Mark after his surgery and to grab a meal with us. Afterwards, Mark smiled like a goon and said, “I love my family,”¬†at which I cracked up cause, like, duh.

Scott calls Mark to encourage and to love. “Be strong and courageous,” he said (Joshua 1:7). “WHAT A GOOD GUY,” we said.
Screenshot 2017-06-04 at 9.47.38 PM
A snippet of the post-op email update sent out to the DC small group. Theme: “We are so grateful.”

The surgeon came out, showed me before and after x-rays, complete with new bits of bone and pins poking through. He said that the joint was able to bend¬†all the way to normal range (110 degrees, for those of you counting), so we’re hoping that with physical therapy, Mark can reset the doc’s PR for best recovery.

And thus began our four-day weekend of resting and worrying and relaxing and an uncharacteristic amount of cooking on my part. Like seriously, I have never cooked so many things in the span of four days. Who even am I?


Couch-sleeper, thanks to J&Q’s gracious generosity. After finding out that we weren’t going to be going to Mark’s parents’ place for the weekend, we had to figure out real quick where we’d set this guy up — I didn’t want him to be alone. In short, my housemates are the best.
Mac and cheese cures all.
Bananer bread, gone in three days. Go us.
“This is my favorite thing that you’ve ever cooked for me.” How can I not make it again? It’s super easy — pad krapow gai by Chef John:

It was a weekend of fitful sleeping, for sure, what with the¬†medicine schedule and the jingle-jangle of Rogue the dog’s midnight prowls through the living room. But we did things we’ve never. done. before as a couple: hang around the house for hours, cook multiple meals in a row, (re)watch seasons of¬†TV shows old and new, sit on the couch until my back hurt, do zero things of productivity. Like, normal people weekend activities. I know we were caring for an invalid here, but it felt kind of luxurious to me, in some ways.

And I¬†got a teensy little taste of what it means to serve selflessly — like,¬†putting my needs and wants on a back burner somewhere and thinking first about somebody else. And I noticed that¬†the caretaking¬†got easier over the weekend as I got more used to it. My selfish sharp edges were dulled a little¬†in the face of real need and a very polite customer. Mark was an easy patient, grateful and eager to get better.

#adulting at the grocery store, where we went to take a walk and advantage of the deals.

He has his post-op appointment on Tuesday,¬†the day after tomorrow. And¬†as our super-weekend winds down this evening, the Sunday feels are real. We’re sitting here, both back in our respective productivity modes as I blog with a vengeance and he puts the finishing touches on the wedding website. But for the first time¬†in a long, long time, I feel really refreshed from what was actually a pretty stressful weekend. Ironic, yep. Such great ups and downs we’ve traveled in the span of these past 48-or-60-or-whatever hours — counting in chunks of four-to-six as the prescription bottles dictate, constantly asking for¬†the enumeration of pain levels (on a scale¬†of 1 to 10, how do you feel?), cooking and eating real meals, laughing¬†at the antics of Michael Scott (and falling asleep to an anime episode…), taking stock of one another and feeling grateful for the way things are and not how they could’ve been.

Eating mac and cheese on the floor, enjoying a cold sodie pop and cider while we watch Netflix via the PS3. “I feel like a real American!”

Will have to keep you posted on how we fare through next week and the next; I’m sure the chronicles of physical therapy will bring more ups and downs. But as of this moment, I sit here, grateful for the weirdness, the normalcy, and all the cheezy blogposts in between.

you had one job.

and yet.

despite all the preparations
despite the mind-organizations
you ended up at pho in Richmond;
cause it was perfect weather for soup
you ended up at a house concert for the cutest singer-songwriter couple duo;
cause it was the nice thing to do
fell in love again, yet another memory in tow,
witnesses galore,
and donuts galore,
cause donuts.
and smeyelz. ugh.
pauses and backward movement and french pastries

and yet.


those spheres of ease

there are spheres¬†of life in which you feel at ease, totally in your own skin, and open to newness because you’re okay with all the right-now atoms¬†in your current atmosphere.¬†and then there is everything else, which is the majority of life. at least for me, right now.

love in a tiny kiwi. a lovely keewee.

but those spheres, they are so good. and they exist in the weirdest, randomest places. walking the halls at work for a clear-the-head break, arms a-swinging like the Cake song and teef a-smiling at the unknown peoples because they’re unknown to me; there’s no risk (there’s freedom in smiling at strangers). sweatpants life, veg-ing out at homehome, visiting for the weekend having brought real clothes but teebee.H. not needing them at all,¬†all weekend long. blog mode at a cafe where the temperature is not too cold not too warm just right and zoning in on not to cold not to warm just the right words even though there are other, Real things to be done, and feeling so accomplished at the end of the thought train, at the bottom of the latte cup, zero of the said Real things having been accomplished. phone conversations with really helpful customer service repuhresentatives, knowing what you mean by your uncertain blabbering because they’re just that experienced in customer blabber-needs. spending way too many minutes perusing all the things I won’t buy up and down the aisles of¬†the korean grocery store where I¬†buy my¬†weekly kale because produce is freshest there (huzzah for kale, huzzah for nova groceries).

and running into¬†my mom’s friendladies and saying hello, no hesitation, because I feel able and natural. and getting impromptu shares of life wisdom from an older and wiser soul who’s brimming with it, only needing to be tapped, to be asked.

haaappyyyyy biiirrtthhhdayyyyy too meeeeee

but honestly, it’s not even the content of such conversations — rather the context. what makes these moments possible. that sphere of ease. that comfortsphere. where you’re open to impromptu conversations with acquaintances that aren’t even yours, but your mom’s.¬†knowing full, knowing well —¬†smalltalk is not your strongsuit. going out of your way uncalculatedly to call out to¬†people and open up your bubble to touch theirs, connecting for a moment or two.

what is it that creates these spheres of possibility? I have a feeling it’s something really specific: two heaping¬†cups¬†of really good nights’ sleeps. a liter of contented conversation stores. a mindful of vocab in that (un)foreign language you’re delighted to be discovering, again. three generous drizzles of chocolate frosting over that birthday cake baked at 375, for-ty8 minutes. those two bunches of bananas someone placed in the back of your car so you wouldn’t even have a chance to refuse them when offered. an extra day of rest from the running schedule, because your body — and your mind — needed it though you weren’t even clever enough to know it until you’d had it.¬†eighty-three miles¬†of road driven, harmonizing all the way with singers on your iPod loop loop looping all these¬†years you never updated your music stores.

happpyyy biiiiiirthhhhdayyyyyy! tooo!!! meeee!


how interesting to organize the experience of Life this way — it’s¬†just a practice in negotiating these spheres and the rest. just a long series of¬†navigations in between, from circle to amorphous circle. and the resolutions, the lessons, are to:

  1. expand these comfortspheres, each and all, until they’re the majority and the “restofit,” the exceptions.
  2. find out other people’s spheres of ease and discover them in living in theirs. observe. appreciate. smile aloud, teef and all.
  3. test and exactify that recipe for sphere success — so you can do numbers 1 and 2 better and better. this will probably take some more days off from the relentless schedule of working out and making lunch salads because you’re still only a young padawan (what even is a padawan? why do I use these words I don’t really know?), the greenest grasshopper, and apparently you can’t run and think at the same time. at least not to the same level of intensity. one’s gotta give way to the other.
    1. get better at running, so you can think more.
    2. get better at thinking, so you can run more.

wow. lots to do here. guess I better go get some more sleeps to get started.

but this. yeah this. this is life-giving to me.


This is the post in which I belatedly do a photodump of the photogenic and otherwise-memorable moments of the year that was 2015 and unabashedly and sentimentally caption them to my heart’s content. Saying my goodbyes and thank yous and reminding myself to live another year, full, like this.

January 2:¬†Binky inspires jealousy in little old working-from-home me, ironically sprawled out in front of my¬†work laptop, as if to say, “Try and disturb my peace, mahaha.” Weirdly just like our good old days in high school.
January 9: It’s a potluck! of all kinds of frozen goodies a la Trader Joe’s and a frittata baked in a borrowed cast iron. #adulting, first full year edition.
January 24: WOMEN’S RETREAT AS ALUMS. Year 1.
January 26: Shin told us he would take us out for a fancy dinner but forgot his wallet, so thankfully there was no need for that post-dinner check-stealing dance around the table. Whew.
January 30: Living it up @JPA, fave apartment. So girly but we really don’t care.
January 31: We went skiing and cidery-ing. Where they have snow and APPLs.
January 31: and the tiniest little mousey homes hidden in the floor boards.
February 10: Work building neighbors; we visit each other for cakes and walks and tours of snowflakey office cubes.
February 13: “See, this was some significant moment that I wanted to remember; I remember thinking that I would take this picture to remember that thing I wanted to remember. But all I can remember now is that I wanted to remember that thing I just can’t remember anymore.” Maybe it was something related to love, cause this was suspiciously close to Valentine’s day, when I was wondering about love and all.
February 15: Afternoons upon afternoons of sudoku-ing like old people, on the couch, listening to the sounds of JPA as if we were New Yorkers.
February 17: A lunch break well used. Snowedin at Snowden for the second big snowfall of the yurr.
February 18: Fancy dessert in celebration of a belated Valentine’s (erm actually, more like a continuation of Valentine’s celebratin’). Prolly the most picturesque concoction M ever baked for me.
February 21: Sleepover essentials = Bluebell, Doritos, sleeping bags packing tiny college apartment rooms full of girltalk and “what’s the semester been like for you so far” catch-ups. Actually, no girltalk cause¬†realtalk always trumps.
February 21: Confession: I only ever go to Bodo’s when people visit. No disrespect; maybe it’s just a case of the not-appreciating-what’s-there kinda thing.
February 25: “TEA TIME WITH MADISON!!” It’s not as fancy as you think!¬†Barely enough mugs for all the visitors, but more than enough catch-up stories and warm drink¬†to go around, round, a round.
February 26: Just another snow day, just another sucker for bleak snowy shots.
March 3: Woah. Deep questions on one tutor-date afternoon.
March 4: An evening of feeling full. Of challah bread and refreshing conversation.
March 5: We got snowed in at N. Baker Street and trekked to go shopping for frivolous groceries. It was a lot more fun than Mark anticipated it would be. heheh.
March 5: I like that he lets me propose — and carry out — ideas fueled by enthusiasm and sugar highs. But also keeps me safe by making us take the sidewalk.
March 5: And then walks me home through the snow, across the train tracks, starry-eyed.
March 8: Gelati for a birthday girl! Cutest small group ever. This first full year out of college was also made so special by these ladies (and gents, not pictured) of my small group. We talked, inevitably, about boys and Jesus. And how it all works out together. Under the faithful guidance of the Roses, ragin’ and roarin’.
March 16: (Wut the. I know that boy in green. HAha. And) look how cute those commas are up there on the Paramount sign. I love Charlottesville.
March 16: MDIOUSNUIDUR RSS 5&72. Just another walk down the downtown moll.
March 18: Belated celebration of one of our birthdays. Pictured here is the most incredible pork chop, of my life, droolz.
March 20: Friendcation, 1st edition! The year we conquered Chicago in our little Virginian shoes aaaaaaand fell in love.
March 20: Chicago deep dish.
March 21: Just one of our 2204802382 timer photos in front of the Bean, cause, did I mention Chicago?
March 22: He thinks he is pretty.
March 22: This was also the hallmark year of “What (the HECK) is love?”
March 22: I dunno, but I’m sure one of its forms is surprise birthday cakes secretly lit in hotel hallways and eaten like an ambush, with a lotta beer and comfortable conversation with friendcation friends forever.
March 23: Chicago loved us back and wanted us to stay longer, on that friendcation. Hehe.

oh yah, for more Chicago, go here.

March 30: Passover with the Portico family
April 12: But for real, I think everyone else had the same idea, cause I’m pretty sure there were more people than blossoms. Almost.
April 12: Cherry blossom selfies.
April 12: …these are the real cherry blossom selfies!
April 17: Just-cause drives out to the countryside.
April 17: Ewww get your head out of there.
April 26: A year, also, of SLEEPOVERS! In my APARTMENT. Where I LIVED, by MYSELF! Except when there were SLEEPOVERS! 8) 8) 8) best EVER.
April 26: Some of my favorite things about sleepovers are the glasses and the filling up of floor spaces by cushy material.
April 26: The Quiet Coyote, by GCF Class of 2013.
April 27: Favorite date activity¬†#458982734: Frolic up and down grocery store aisles, preferably eating samples and taking silly, ironic pictures cause he doesn’t even like wine.
May 2: Elena meets Citizen Burger. Proceeds to document, like a true friend of mine. Spends the next hour not eating burger but philosophizing about Life and Stuff. Like a true friend of mine.
May 6: My seester the heepster of RVA. Fooooorgive my redundancy.
May 9: This was a stroll down the Downtown Moll that suddenly broke into dance. With ribbons and calf tassels.
May 9: Chaps. This was the time of the year when I actually got tired of eating ice cream for eating it so often. What is THAT first-world problem all about.
May 16! UVA Class of 2015 graduates. Meesh watches, proud and sunglassesed. Hooray!
May 22: A barbershop dawg, caught in action. RVA.
May 23: Oh yeah, moving back to my parents’ house, long story. Realized anew the beauty of Mama Lee’s cooking and caring.
May 23: Favorite date activity #23209480573: Go to the Meadow.
May 23: and ruin its natural beauty.
June 5: Josh Garrels, best concert, musical-experience-wise, ever. Also the night when I wanted to give up on Mark but didn’t, and then had some sort of revelation afterwards. I think there’s a secret blog post out there about this night.
June 6: Hi, DC.
June 11: Hi, Charlottesville.
July 1: Favorite date activity #893902394. Follow Mark to the gym. Sit on the giant bouncy ball, watching TV. Intermittently make Mark feel awkward by commenting on his muscles and laughing at his heavy breathing. Take sneaky pictures. hee hoo.
July 4: Celebrated our great nation’s independence with barbecue and fireworks with these summer hoodlums. Price: a chair smashed to smithereens by a muscular butt, which is actually just priceless.
July 8: What a beautiful little Little. Catching me up on life over the summer.
July 11: Friendcation, camping edition. But there was wifi so some of us didn’t think it counted. But we also had a campfire and marshmallows! So…yes?! hehe
July 14: Watermelon milkshakes are a thing and they are surprisingly pleasant!
July 15: Meta boba! Yay for short-hair friends and roadtrip friends and Charlottesville-meets-Richmond friends and honestly, just friends who’ve been in your life for longer than a second, cause childhood was full of moving about. Thankful for this one who’s seen me through two kinds of schools.
July 18: Sorry if this is rude but I love old people.
July 22: I think this was the day when I broke the news that I would be moving and you were like, “Don’t worry.”
August 1: Canoeing down the James, free as a bird. That doesn’t fly. And is bad at rowing canoes. Good thing canoeing is a team sport. “YOU STEER I’LL PUSH!” “…WHAT?!”
August 9: DChang visits for some barbecue and coffee over chess. What a classy guy.
August 10: Happy-Anniversary olives.
August 15: Crazy laffs for an alum visit to Cville. Welcome back!
August 15: These people keep me honest and rooted. And always laughing. And peeing. Sometimes the two are related.
August 17: “One lady who loves all the students.” “Noah and my long shower.” Why is no one else falling out of their chair laughing¬†right now??
August 18: Best small group ever; we may have been named “Wizard of Oz Crew” because we’re in search of courage and wisdom and a heart or something. ‚̧
August 20: Words from Bone’s wallet. Preach.
August 21: We drove to Philly! Okay more accurately: He drove to Philly and she took pictures of it all!
August 21: Spruce Street Harbor Park.
August 21: Markling Starry-Eyed and Tall.
August 21: “So…can you explain to me why Japan?”
August 22: Philly explorations.
August 22: Philly boba.
August 22: Philly conquering.
August 22: Philly people!
August 22: Philly phull circles.
August 22: Philly night-bussing.
August 23: Philly selphies.

more of the same, here.

August 26: Puzzles, construction paper, puppy stickers. Clearly this is an MPPS offsite.
August 29: “Something-something super deep and clear; blowing-my-mind blahblahs.” Just a day in the life of a Meesh.
September 2: Sandwiches and burgers with Princess Priscilla, all hail.
September 4: Four pairs of feet at this gallery full of silent music.
September 5: Ah! ūüėÄ (Why does this picture make me crave chocolate chip cookies?)
September 6: Visiting DChang at his not-so-humble abode, Norfolk, VA; he’s not only a domestic goddess but also single. Eh hem calling all my single lady friends.
September 6: DChang, he made this. It’s like Bon Chon, in Norfolk, uh homemade. WHAT.
September 6: ‚̧
September 6: DChang blows us away with his Korean-lady cooking skills once again. Shikhye edition.
September 6: DChang and his fancy dranks. Mint juleps are not what I imagined at all. Blec.
September 6: DChang, showing us his life as king of Norfolk evening skyline. Woohoooooooo rooftop chillin’.

and the full weekend review.

September 9: All like, “Wait, wait, wait can you say that again I wanna write that down.” Hehehe.
September 12: What a treat to see this yet another “long-term” friend and seester ūüôā
September 12: Hallo, welcome to that barbecue place in Belmont with that slop bucket thing everyone is always talking about. Pull up a chair and relax here with our cheeps.
October 2: I wanna have a tiny little [wedding] party here and fill up the Christmas-lit reception room to the brim with good cheese and beer and cake and people loving being there. Celebrating love and other stuff like that. [The Local, Belmont]
October 6: Work desk, overrun with smolness.
October 9: More mind-blowing mconversations with Meesh and Mads. Mloveyou.
October 16: Upper-echelon kind of evening, at the Paramount. Silent-yelling from the balconies, saying we’ve made it now. Wahaha.
October 17: Alums visit! For the fall weather and apple picking and action pictures out the wazoo.
October 17: It’s tea time with Priscilla! Tea bowls¬†and pear pie, all provided.
October 17: Stargazing at Skyline.
October 17: Selfies at Skyline.
October 17: I really, really, really, love, you.
October 23: Played hooky cause, the weather. Ah.
October 25: Photo cred to GloRoh! The prof pic that last all fall long and then some.
October 24: We only hiked the NOT-OLD RAG for only like SIXTY miles, nbd.
October 24: We ate pb&js and had fun anyways. We I love pb&js.
October 31: Incredible feeling #290234: Leaving a place better than you found it. Mm.
October 31: Incredible feeling #290235! Treating your parents to a Chinese buffet lunch cause their love was so tangible, the day of moving-out. I need to treat them more.
November 4: Last Rager at the Roses’. Breaking open the praise jar and finding ponies and declarations of love, for people and for Jesus. Thank you for being our home away from home.
November 5: Gbye lunch, picnic style! Thank you for being the best first real-world job teammates ever. I learned a lot. Way more than can be captured in any QC checklist.
November 9: “(In what specific ways) Do you rebel against the system?”¬†Follow-up conversation still to come. Thank you for the thought-provoking conversation and milkshake.
November 9: Gbye dinner! Documenting how we can have #adulting dinner parties and feed people without worries, and marveling at the hospitality.
November 9: ‚̧ <4 <5… Thank you for being a group that grew together.
November 10: Quit muh job, left for the Midwest, found a hostel in the crack between two buildings. No fear.
November 10: Midwest views, the Great Arch edition.
November 10: Midwest friends, watching Midwest runners going, going, going.
November 10: Midwest men enjoying Midwest desserts.
November 12: Midwest barbecue that captured Mark’s heart so; he said he’d move himself for this. Wowza.
November 12: Midwest hippitude! What a delish and heartwarming dinner that was.
November 12: Midwest plays hard to get. (She loves me.)
November 13: Midwest. Art. Orange. Madison.
November 13: Midwest Mark and Makeshift Moodlighting.
November 13: Look, it’s a giant badminton thingy!
November 14: Traveling west. Unintentional matching, eww.
November 14: Denverrrrrrrrrrrrr, here we come.
November 14: Midwest dog and his seeing-eye person.
November 14: After an Amtrak scheduling freakout and a sobering reminder that no matter what happens, we don’t really have it that bad. Midwest moon smizes at us as we travel west, west, west.
November 15: Got to meet Isaac and his Denver crew. Sweet people! Sweet ice cream.
November 15: Favorite road-trip thing to do #1092384: Sit in the back seat like a child and pretend to sleep while the adults talk in the front about the traffic or the weather or both.
November 15: Just a coupla Virginians and a Coloradan. Awed by Red Rock!
November 15: :D!
November 15: Rock climbing; we’re free spirits.
November 15: Mountains and expensive posters. And Vail shoutouts.
November 15: Memorable Midwest Moment #98277489: Finding the best-ever-curated Recommended Shelves at this Boulder, CO bookstore. Falling in love with the entire city.
November 15: Evening firepit that was not as classy/organized as the picture may make it seem. There was incessant smoke and lying on the floor, huddling for warmth before the it got going.
November 16: Midwest Mark and Madison, touristy checkpoint, check! Denver, CO.
November 16: HAHA.
November 16: HEHEH.
November 16: Apparently Mark is the master of Connect Four; learning something new every new day.
November 17: Denver didn’t want us to leave, either! ūüôā

more here.

November 22: This one day when Mark let me ride shotgun with him, with NO SEATBELT.
November 22: Because I was in charge of hugging the pot of stew for dear life. Mark is the master of feeding masses of people. I’ll make conversation.
November 23: Madison moves madly…to nooooooooooova. Hindsight lessons say: It is not so bad.
November 26: Lee Family Thanksgiving 2015. Simple but classy. Go Mama Lee.
November 28: Last-night view from the bed at home-home. The last things.
November 28: Just hangin’ out, really.
November 28: Starter pack of Mama Lee love for little M’s move to the north.
December 5: First weekend as Nova resident. Mark visits; Madison purchases a metro card.
December 11: “I’m one of those Nova people who take pictures of the traffic cause it’s the most astounding part of my day.”
December 13: boba, shilla, all-inclusive mirror pics, new year’s resolutions. “This makes me feel young again, guys.”
December 14: Got reacquainted with this HUH? face over her winter break from Guate. Talking of adventures, teaching, spices in food, and love.
December 14: And always making plans for the next dinner date ‚̧ te echo de menos.
December 17: Dinners for neighbor friends!! I didn’t food-poisoning her or stressed her out with too many questions. SUCCESS.
December 19: Wedding dates.
December 19: Binky sneaks a peek at the Christmas things. Home weekends are much too short, but also much, very much sweeter for the shortness.
December 22: Yas queeeen, treating me to a walnutty pasta sucecss and that sassy hip flare.
December 25: They’re so proud of me, they framed the thing.
December 25: No photodump post is complete without an ugly-cute picture of the Binks.
December 25: Crisis of the gingerbread people.
December 27: Merry Christmas! May your pipes not leak and cause pools of water in your basements.
December 28: Mama’s dumplings, like the Rockville, MD kind. Maddie and Madison making resolutions anew and saying our goodbyes.
December 31: He visits me in nova now and uses my bathroom to do things like shave his face hairs.
December 31: Bloo Steel, the night when we rode the metro for much too long, even though we weren’t intoxicated or anything. Just absent-minded, silly.
December 31: Partying in DC to say our goodbyes to 2015, reminiscing about three and a half years ago, one summer in Yeosu, Korea.

Whew. Here I come, 2016. I mean, here I am. Take me as I am. Two months late and all.










By the end of my life, I want to have experienced all the layers of love that my circumstances will have offered me.

Mads: All the layers of romantic love, yes, but like, all the layers of all the other kinds, too. Wow. Can you imagine what kind of life you would be able to lead if your goal, each day, was to experience more layers of loves? To give, to receive, to witness, to empower others to do…all kinds of layers, of all kinds of loves! Marriage love and parent love and acceptance love and covering love. And tucking-into-bed love and you-can-shower-first love and let-me-rub-your-tired-feet love and here’s-some-soup! love and dearly-beloved-we-are-here-to-say-our-goodbyes love.

Meesh: Yeah! I mean, the Bible is full of commandments to love one another, honor one another, mhmm!

It is a good thing you are here, Meesh, to tap my path straight and remind me of the purpose of it all. I can wander into lalalayerland far and wide, if left to my own devices. Thanks for remembrin’ us about the Bible. About our God. And of His plans and purposes and layers of love for us. Without that, it’s just indulgent philosophizing.