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.



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! 😀 (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 🙂
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! 🙂

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.









looking carefully

There’s something about peering into the face of a person, up close and personal, as they say, and seeing a kind of beauty that just isn’t seen from further away.
And then, there must be a kind of beauty others see in me, too, when the face is peered into with care and unjudgment. Not cause I think I’m pretty (I think I am pretty, sometimes) but just by virtue of the first statement of this post applying equally to all humans, which is a category of things including me.
Like, there are sometimes when I catch a reflection of myself somewhere, under certain lighting or in a certain kind of mirror, and think: oh…yay!! And other times when the same situation happens, and my response, instead, is: …AW MAN. And I think that this peering closely and unjudgingly thing can have the tendency to elicit the first kind of response in people, of the people they’re observing.
Something very beautiful about that, right? Something like “Understanding leads to love.”
Not fully developed thought-connection that I think is related, but like I just disclaimed, not fully developed:
Per Pastor John Piper:

God is the only being in the universe whose display of his own glory is love. Display of one’s glory, done by anyone else, would not be love — that would be selfishness and pride and undue self-glorification. But God is unique in possessing this quality because the display and experience of God’s glory is the only sure source of full satisfaction of man’s soul (not to mention his chief end, right?) in this entire universe. So God must show himself as glorious and must require all his creation to sing out his glory. And in this, he shows LOVE.

Observing God, seeing and knowing his glory, leads to increased gain of love.
Looking closely at his humanly creations, peering close into moments of unguarded normalcy and undaunted peer-backs, leads to increased gain of love.
So maybe…by the law of the a = b, a –> b, b –> c, then a –> c ness of the logic of the law (dear math/philosophy majors, please forgive me)…maybe these peerings, up close and personal, as they say, are like…seeing moments of God in people.
Woah. Is that too bold? Either way, isn’t he beautiful, our God of love? Dah. I wish to peer more deeply more closely more intimately. More love-ingly.


women inspiring woahs

woah number 1:

Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

A Dialogue of Watching
by Kenneth Rexroth

Listen Online

Let me celebrate you. I
Have never known anyone
More beautiful than you. I
Walking beside you, watching
You move beside me, watching
That still grace of hand and thigh,
Watching your face change with words
You do not say, watching your
Solemn eyes as they turn to me,
Or turn inward, full of knowing,
Slow or quick, watching your full
Lips part and smile or turn grave,
Watching your narrow waist, your
Proud buttocks in their grace, like
A sailing swan, an animal,
Free, your own, and never
To be subjugated, but
Abandoned, as I am to you,
Overhearing your perfect
Speech of motion, of love and
Trust and security as
You feed or play with our children.
I have never known any
One more beautiful than you.

woah number 2:

It’s the birthday of a writer described by Time magazine as “indisputably theworld’s number one woman writer“: Rebecca West (books by this author), born Cicely Isabel Fairfield in London (1892). As a teenager, she began writing for a radical feminist journal. She didn’t want to embarrass her mother, so she used a pseudonym, taking the name of the heroine in Henrik Ibsen’s playRosmersholm.

Her journalism soon extended to reviews. She described T.S. Eliot as “a poseur,” Tolstoy as “overrated,” George Bernard Shaw as “a eunuch perpetually inflamed by flirtation,” and said of Somerset Maugham: “He couldn’t write for toffee, bless his heart.” She wrote: “Writers on the subject of August Strindberg have hitherto omitted to mention that he could not write.” At the age of 19, she wrote of H.G. Wells: “Of course he is the old maid among novelists; even the sex obsession that lay clotted on Ann Veronica and The New Machiavelli like cold white sauce was merely an old maid’s mania.” After he read the review, Wells asked to meet West, and the two became lovers, and had a son. West was frustrated that so much attention was given to this scandal and her laissez-faire parenting.

woah number 3:

It’s the birthday of Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, born in Tongham, England (1866). She is famous as the muse of poet W.B. Yeats – he said that when he met her, “The troubling of my life began.” They remained close friends throughout their lives, and Gonne inspired many of his greatest poems.

Gonne grew up in a wealthy family. Her father was a military attaché who traveled all over Europe. She went to boarding school in France, and she was well-traveled, cosmopolitan, confident, and beautiful – six feet tall with red hair. One contemporary described her: “She has a beauty that surprises one – like the sun when it leaps above the horizon. She is tall and like a queen out of a saga.” She returned to Ireland to keep house for her sick father, and after his death she returned to France. There she fell in love with a married right-wing politician, a French nationalist who hated England and encouraged Gonne to join the Irish nationalist cause. The cause soon became her passion, as she traveled the countryside witnessing the persecution of the Irish by the English landowners. She started a newspaper to support the Irish cause, campaigned tirelessly for the release of political prisoners, and organized the Daughters of Ireland, a group of revolutionary women.