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)” —

Screenshot 2017-08-01 at 11.50.58 PM
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.

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.

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.

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


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!


are marvelous, are terrible, are suffering, are jubilant.

are complicated, are multifaceted, are difficult to please, are predictable.

I’m a whole tangled mess of feelings tonight about human beings. It’s been a weird and emotional few days — feeling exultant, grateful, terribly annoyed (and then terribly sorry), and so, so sad about so many different things.

There are complicated feelings about friendships and relationships and the troubles of mankind. And troubles of my friends, too. People are going through some real deep and sad things, and here I am sitting and wallowing in an incomprehensible self-pity. There’s grief over a lost romance; uncertainty about sacrificial decisions made for family; deep, inconsolable hurt from people who had been trusted. And then there’s me, crying about who knows what.

After a certain point, I can’t point my finger at any one thing as the cause or the beginning, and Mark just rubs my shoulder as my eyes leak tears cause of overflow.

There are a few things I am certain of:

  • Music has a weird magic about it that makes us feel complicated and wondrous things. I think it’s a tool (and a gift) that God’s given us. For our pleasure and development. And his glory.
  • Community is crucial and lifesaving (and lifegiving).
  • I am a rude, rough-around-the-edges kind of person who needs more of God’s grace in her life.
  • Cuddly kittens are therapeutic.
  • Humans are marvelous, are terrible, are suffering, are jubilant. Are complicated, are multifaceted, are difficult to please, are predictable.

I love and hate these feelings tonight.


love and timing

  • How much is a love experience shaped by the trappings of life at that moment? The life stage you’re in. The hard/sad/awesome stuff you’re going through. The level of maturity your heart and head are at. People talk about connections — soul, heart, mind, spirit?, humor! — but just how much of all of that is about…timing? Different lovers you meet don’t necessarily result in different kinds of connections because of who they are, but because of who they are at that moment. And who you are at that moment. And how ya got there.
  • Is this why there is such a magic/aura/myth about first love? Because, in its most glorified form, first love takes place early on in your formation as a human — teen years, early 20s, young adulthood — though each of those, obviously, is different and beautiful and anguished in its own way. But all in all, those are magical times, even as just a singleton. Add the explosive reactants of loving and of being loved, and the reactions are that much more formative. Is it, too, about the new pathways your brain is forging in that first relationship? Is each following iteration a follow-on glide down the already formed pathway? So the first glide — or cut, depending on your perspective — is the deepest. Could we almost call it the first learn?
  • What about, then, effort and time? Relationships — romantic and otherwise — need time to bloom and to breathe. They require you to stop rushing about and to give them some attention and love. (Much like a garden, a pet, a catch-up dinner in the WMA.) To plan an actual evening away from duties and responsibilities, even if that requires planning to travel an extra three hours back and forth that day (for. real.). Cause it’s worth it to you. Maybe that, too, is a matter of the timing of your life. Relationship-building requires you to be the type of person ready to put in that kind of effort, and a person with some breathing room in your calendar to devote to the growth of a relationship blossom.

Sometimes I get stuck in Feeling ruts, trip-falling hard on a crag that makes me plunge SPLAT into an emotion puddle. I look up and get up, shake off and keep on walking, but soaked, drenched, in allll the feels. It takes me a whole evening-night of bleary-eyed blogging to dry off sometimes.

One big puddle tonight. And I’m bleary eyed and stubbornly sad indeed, and wondering about these age-old questions again again again, again.

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. 🙂

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.