Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Marriage is the Worst. And the Best.

I was watching Inside Out the other night for the first time. Oh, the feels. THE FEELS. Literally, figuratively, metaphorically, grammatically. ALL THE FEELS. If you haven't seen it, do it. Right now. If it doesn't move you, I'm 97.9% sure you are a gargoyle. You should see someone about that. I could write a whole book on the lessons and beauty of that movie. But, I'll spare you. One small piece I was struck by while watching, in the tide of emotions, was Riley's imaginary boyfriend. It caught my attention, because, yeah, that was totally a thing when I was eleven.

Heck, it's been a thing my whole life. There's never been a time I didn't love boys and the idea of marriage. Not having a family (no pretend babies in my childhood), but a husband. My first boyfriend was in kindergarten and we would blow kisses to each other from our nap towels. Alas, my first love wasn't meant to be.

In elementary school it was boys with cool hair and who were good at kickball. In middle school it was boys who were rebels and smoked cigarettes behind the school. In high school it was mature older guys who had accents and a job. You work at KFC? That'ts the dream!

And, so on. I dated, I had serious relationships, I feel in "love," and through it all I dreamed of being married. I dreamed about getting flowers everyday and being showered with compliments. I dreamed of starlight picnics and cuddling on the couch. Marriage was going to be the epitome of my life, it was THE DREAM (it did evolve at some point past the guy having a job at a chicken fast food restaurant).

And then, when I was 21, I met John. He was tall and handsome, hard-working, and very funny. We started dating, and then we got engaged, and then got married 6 years ago. There were fairy tale moments (I'll write a post sometime about our engagement story, and you will weep from the beauty of it. WEEP, I tell you) and still are. But.... there's been a lot of shit, too.

I always joke that John and I have not taken the rainbow and butterflies approach to marriage, rather the clawing tooth and nail to make it work approach.

There have been struggles from day one. I remember early in our marriage fighting about something. Whatever the topic was it ended with me saying, "fine, just go." John turned to leave. And I threw a role of paper towels. At his head.

He's hurt my feelings. I've used my words as weapons. We've ignored each other's needs. We've isolated from each other. There's been yelling and tears. The paper towels were not the last thing I threw. It has been ugly. Sometimes REAL ugly.

Eleven year-old me would be horrified.


Oh, the lovely but.

It's all been worth it. Cue the cheeeeeeeese!

Every morning John gets up to let the dogs out (did I mention he's good looking, and a saint?) and when he comes back he shoves into my side of the bed, wraps around me, and steals all my stored up warmth.

He worries about my feelings when I've backed my car into his, not worrying about the unnecessary damage I've done.

He follows me around Comic Con, regardless of what insane outfit I'm wearing.

He tells me not to give up when I feel defeated, reminding me of my giftings and success. His encouragement has, at times, propelled me through grad school when I have had nothing left to give.

Why am I writing all this? Partially so everyone can know how great my husband is, because he does not toot his own horn. I encourage through writing and words, so this is a way for me to show love.

There's the obvious point that marriage probably won't look like you thought it would. And for sure not what you thought it would be as a child.

But, the main point is, no one can tell you what marriage should look like. Some people are able to work solely on butterflies and rainbows in their marriage. Some people fight fiercely, and love equally so. Some people have crap communication but show love in other ways. There's no one way to define intimacy. Priorities are different. Growth is different. Pain is different.

Marriage is hard enough figuring it out between two people - we don't need to make it harder by incorporating other people's views of what is right. Basically, you do you.

Marriage is not at all what I expected it would be. It's not what I was told it would be. There is not a rubric I'm grading it on. Marriage, for me, is the unique, wonderful relationship between me and John. It's constantly evolving, it's high and low, it's painful and healing, it reveals God to me and the ugliness of being human. It's our story, in all its complexity and simplicity.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What. What? WHAT??

This is a follow up post to this post here - Part 1. You can go back and read it, we'll wait. 

Buckle up, here we go!

Example 4 - Gaps in Your Passport Country's History.

I'm a bright girl. I received a great education, overseas and here for high school. I felt quite ready for college. I was sitting in my very first class, brand new notebook, a multitude of colored pens, the idealistic hopes and dreams that only an 18 year old possesses, when reality hit. My teacher did a quick introduction and hit the ground running. No syllabus day (the blasphemy! Syllabus day is the BEST day!), no ice breakers, just a deluge of information. 

About two minutes into the lecture I realized that everyone else is taking notes and nodding and I'm staring blankly at my teacher. I had no idea what he was saying. He was using words I'd never heard of. 

Articles of Confederation? Nope. Never heard of them. Constitution? I mean, I've heard that word. I think. George Washington? Oh! I know this one! First President! 

Needless to say my total of one year of American History before college did not prepare me for this class. My roommate use to make fun of me because my textbook for that class was highlighted. I mean the whole thing was highlighted. Every word. They wouldn't buy it back at the end of the semester. 

Example 5 - Gaps in Your Passport Country's Food. 

I was three and a half when we first visited the States. My parents, realizing what a shock I was in for, packed a whole suit case of Japanese snacks for me. Smart people, my parents.

(As a note, I do not remember this story, yet being the storyteller I am, shall tell it like I do)

Our first morning at my grandparents' house they served us doughnuts. My grandfather had been horrified to learn I had never had a doughnut and everyone was excited to see my response to my very first chocolate doughnut. 

They placed it in front of me. The excitement was palpable. I stared at the doughnut. I got up and left the table.

Confused silence.

I walked back with something in my hot little hand. Seaweed. It was seaweed. I put it on the chocolate doughnut. The seaweed. On the doughnut. The chocolate doughnut. And I ate it.  

Yes, Shocked Doughnut, it's true. 

Example 6 - Gaps in Your Passport Country's Pop Culture.

I saw most of my movies growing up recorded from American TV on to VHS. I watched Apollo 13 approximately a billion times. And then some. I can't remember what movie I was watching later that also had the line, that many space movies have, "Houston, we have a problem." I was probably around 10 years-old, and I was stunned. Like Shocked Doughnut up there. 

What are the chances that the person at NASA in this movie is also named Houston? There's no way! Hm. There must be a different explanation. Oh! I've got it! It must be the position title, so they always know how to address the person listening. 'The Houston' job. 

Yup. I thought I had it figure out and went on my merry way. For almost a decade longer.

Fast forward, I'm 19 years-old and driving through Houston, Texas and my friend points out the direction NASA is.

"Oh, I didn't know NASA was in Houston."





Which, apparently is an alarming thing to yell while driving a car. Lesson learned. 

Also, I haven't ever seen any of the Indiana Jones movies

Yes, Shocked Astronaut, it's true. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Post About Growing Up Overseas, and the Hard Road Home; a Tale of Corn Flakes, Tears, and Grandparents

Growing up overseas leads to a variety of weird experiences in your passport country.

Example 1 - the Dreaded Cereal Aisle.

Most families who live overseas have a very set plan for their first day "home." Ours was always Mexican food (bean and cheese burrito for me) and Walmart. We didn't necessarily need anything, but there's something that cries out to be around ALL THOSE OPTIONS. Oh Walmart, like a mirage in the desert. You think it's exactly what you need to embrace being back in America. And a trip to Walmart is a blindingly good example of some of the struggles I'm thinking about.

The below example is not necessarily the first trip to Walmart story, which is a family affair. It's more of the, your mom letting you run into Walmart on your own a few days later story.

You know that scene in the Matrix where Neo is getting guns to rescue Morpheus and there are aisles and aisles flying by, and then they zoom down what seems an infinite aisle? Yeah, going to Walmart and into the cereal aisle for the first time when you get back to the States is exactly like that.

At first you are excited and want ALL THE CEREAL. And then it starts to get a little overwhelming. And then you start crying because your brain is short circuiting about cereal and you choose Corn Flakes because that's the only cereal that looks familiar. You don't even like Corn Flakes. 

Example 2 - Paying for the Cereal. 

You take your sniveling self and your sad box of cereal (you don't get anything else because if you can't pick out cereal, there's no way you are up to facing the horror of shampoo choices yet) to the check out line. At this point all of your senses are being assaulted - it's noisy, crowded, too bright, and too many smells. You start digging around for money.

American money. Sigh. There is nothing quite as tortuous as a handful of coins you don't recognize and a line of fifteen people behind you, while you try to figure out 66 cents in change. 

You: "Sorry, weird question, how would one exactly make 66 cents in change?"

Cashier: blank look. 

You: "Um, hm, sorry. Never mind. Here. These two big ones are 25 cents right? So that's 50? So I just need 16 more?" Hands over 2 quarters. Nailed it.

Cashier: "Um. Yeah."

You: Staring blankly at the rest of the coins in your hand. You know one is five and one is ten. Hands the cashier a nickle. "This must be the ten cents."

Cashier: "No. That's a nickle."

You: "Sure, sure. Sorry, what's a nickle worth?" It deteriorates from there. It almost always ends with you shoving all of the coins at the cashier and running out of the store. Why are dimes so small? Why are they worth more than their giant sibling the nickle? Who named these ridiculous coins? Why can't we just be civilized and refer to them as their worth - "ten cent coin"?

Example 3 - Eating the Cereal. 

There is always that moment when you realize your passport country isn't actually home, in the truest sense of the word. Sometimes it's while you are eating soggy Corn Flakes. Possibly soggy from all of the tears of confusion. Why is everything so hard and different here? Why don't I fit in? Why is this so much work? Why isn't Walmart the answer to all the questions? Why didn't I buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

This is a low point. You feel all wonky and off-kilter and full of cardboard and confusion. But then, your grandmother, who before last week you hadn't seen in three years, walks over, and takes your bowl of Corn Flakes away. She hands you half of an old fashioned cake doughnut and an IBC root beer in the bottle. Suddenly, things are much brighter.

Okay, enough sentimentality. Example 4, 5, and 6 will be my next post, and to be honest where the real humor begins. This was all just to set the stage for the horror that involves the Constitution, seaweed, and astronauts. You want to tune in for part 2, I pinky promise.