Monday, April 30, 2012


I've never had a relationship anniversary before. Neither has John. This relationship has already lasted longer than any previous relationship for either of us, so we've had a lot to celebrate along the way, but a year is still a big milestone.

I usually lose interest after a few months. I get weirded out by the closeness, or i get jealous, or he gets jealous, or things just sort of fall apart.

I don't know what a relationship is supposed to look like at this point. I don't know how we are supposed to behave together, how i am supposed to feel, what is supposed to come next. I don't know what to expect.

I never expected that i would be happier with him every day. I never expected that simply walking down the street and holding his hand would fill me with such joy that i would start to skip. (Not hyperbole, by the way. This has actually happened.) I never expected to miss him so intensely. I never expected that the best part of my day would be falling asleep at his side.

But i'm also filled with a sense of panic and impending doom. Because i don't know what a relationship is supposed to look like at this point. I am excited to be with him in this moment, but i'm also excited for the moments to come, and shouldn't we be in the next moment already? How am i supposed to behave? How am i supposed to feel? What is supposed to come next? Are we going too fast? Are we going too slow?

Fortunately, John is patient enough and loves me enough to handle all the crazy i throw at him. And here's the thing: he doesn't know what the relationship is supposed to look like at this point, either. The difference between us is that he sees this as a time of excitement and adventure, where every day is something new and unpredictable and we get to decide what comes next. I see this as a time with enormous potential for me to screw up in a big way.

I've said it before and i'll say it again: thank God for John. He is brave enough and patient enough and loves me enough to not run in the opposite direction when i start getting freaked out about this stuff. He gently and lovingly helps me talk through my fears and concerns and reassures me in his commitment and affection. After all, i may not know what our relationship is supposed to look like at this point, but neither does he. How will he know if i'm screwing something up?

It's not so much a question of doing things "right", but more a question of making him happy. And so far, he's happy just to be around me. All he wants from me is me. I worry that the day might come when i will not be enough and i will have nothing more to give. I worry that the day might come that i will be too much. But it's been a year and there has been a lot of crazy and he's not running yet. It may be that he actually knows what he's getting himself into and really does want me. That is humbling and exciting and terrifying and awe-inspiring and very, very beautiful. Either way, he is so happy in this moment that he is content just to stay here a while longer.

I'm learning to find that contentment. I still want to run ahead, but i make sure to loop back occasionally to walk at his side for a while, to stroll in silence holding his hand. And then i take off running again, because i have faith that he will still be there when i loop back the next time.

I love everything you are with everything i am, my dearest. Here's to year two.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To Russia, With Love

Being the neurotic egomaniac that i am, i check my blog stats pretty obsessively. I try not to pay too much attention for most of the week, and track my monthly progress every Friday. And at the end of the month, i put together a grand tally.

I don't often look at my audience (the breakdown of readers by country, browser, and operating system), except to occasionally glance at it to see if there is anything weird.

In the year that i have been writing this blog, my all-time record of views per month was in February with 287. Other than that, i usually average about 250 views a month. Not bad, considering my almost total lack of self-promotion.

But in April, i have averaged 20 or 30 views a day, adding up to 530 so far this month. If i continue to get this many hits a day, i should close out the month with 600-700 total views.

This is weird.

So i've been investigating possible explanations, like popular search terms and other traffic sources. But there has been nothing out of the ordinary. As far as i can tell, people have been randomly finding my blog on their way to other things (like "should boyfriends past using webcams" or "athena's nipple nibblers review"), and have been staying to read. And while this is perfectly fine by me, i'm still curious about the sudden surge of readers.

So i looked at my audience tab.

Overwhelmingly, this month's readers are Russian. Or at least, they are reading my blog in Russia.

This is puzzling to me. My blog is written in English, i am American and live in the US, and i don't really write about Russia or travel or anything. Mostly i just babble about M&Ms or complain about my job, and while these are clearly universal concerns (especially the M&Ms), there is nothing i can see that would explain why Russia accounts for nearly 80% of my readership this month.

But hey, as long as they are reading, why should i give a damn?

So thank you, Russia. Make yourself at home. And please, tell your friends. And America? You're losing the race here. Step it up.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Use a Telephone

As the administrative assistant/receptionist for the admissions office of my school, I spend a lot of time on the phone. In the time i have spent talking to strangers, i have concluded that people tend to lose anywhere from 10-80 IQ points as soon as they pick up a telephone. Therefore, i have compiled a list of do's and don'ts that will hopefully make my life easier from this point forward.

DO speak clearly and enunciate carefully. There is often background noise in my office, and i cannot see your face. You need to make sure your words are perfectly articulated. This goes double if you are leaving a message, because i cannot ask you to repeat anything.

Before launching into a ten minute explanation of your problem, including background information on your entire family and a detailed schedule of your week, DO give me a brief synopsis of your question or problem. I don't want to waste your time, since you are clearly busy. And i don't want you to waste my time, because i hate you a little bit. It may be that i am already aware of your problem, because your sister has already called, and i am already taking care of it (true story). It may be that you have called the wrong department and that i need to transfer you elsewhere.

When leaving a message, DO provide your first and last name and a phone number or email address where you can be reached. I am not psychic. If you leave a message with your first name and ask me to call you back, i will not. This is a business land line, not a personal cell phone. I can't just scroll through my missed calls.

DO find a quiet area to make your phone call. As stated above, it is hard enough for me to hear and understand you under the best circumstances. It is not helpful when you are in the living room where your younger siblings are playing rock band while your mom yells at all of you to come set the table for dinner.

DON'T call without knowing what you want. It is not my job to figure out who your enrollment counselor is, how many of your documents you have sent it, how to get your SAT scores delivered, or deduce from your confused ramblings that you are interested in the criminal justice program and want to get some more information on it. Figure out what you want before you call. Write it down if you have to.

DON'T expect me to take care of your entire admissions process for you. First of all, i am not your enrollment counselor, so helping you get into college is not really in my job description. And second, you need to be assertive and proactive. This place you're calling is a college, an institute of higher education. If you can't even make a phone call without relying on me to take care of everything for you, you won't make it past your freshman year.

DON'T be rude. I am not being rude to you. Being rude to me with no provocation will severely tempt me to pretend i am connecting you to someone else and then "accidentally" disconnect you. I won't actually do it, because i am better than that, but when you are rude to me it does not make me want to help you. I begin the conversation on your side. Don't do anything to turn me against you.

DON'T swear. Firstly, it is unprofessional and inappropriate. You are on the phone with a stranger, trying to get into college. Do not use profane or offensive language. Secondly, we are a Christian college. We do not allow profanity on this campus. Using it to faculty, staff, and administrators may adversely affect your admission status.

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to print this out and keep it next to your phone at all times. By the way, these rules don't just apply to me. Any time you are on the phone with anyone for any reason, keep them in mind.

Don't Call Us; We'll Call You

A girl came in today to fill out an employment application for summer work in our office. She was reading through the "Special Skills and Training" checklist and got confused by some of the skills listed.
Girl: "Filling? What's that?"
Me: "Um . . . Do you mean 'filing'?"
G: "Yeah. What is that?"
M: "It's putting paper away. In files."
G: "Oh. How do I know if I have that skill?"
M: "Have you ever had a job where you had to file things?"
G: "No."


G: "What's 'attention to detail'? What's that mean?"
M: It means that you notice when things are wrong. If something has been moved in the office, or if something is wrong in a document. Do you notice when something is wrong?"
G: "Yeah, I guess I could do that."


G: "What other skills should I put?"
M (in my head): Not interview skills. (aloud): "Anything that you know how to do."
G: "Oh. All right."


G: "What's 'organizational'?"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a little less hope

Have you ever met one of those couples that, when you look at them, you think, "That's it. That's the real thing."? Every time you see them together, you have a little more hope in relationships. You know that love is real, and that love lasts.

Have you ever seen that couple ripped apart by infidelity and lies?

My star couple fell in love in a matter of weeks. They spent every minute together. They were best friends. I lived with her two summers in a row. One of those summers was right before her wedding in August.

I went to their wedding. They were the first couple that John and i went on a double date with. I saw them at events, helped her plan an elaborate birthday party for him, watched their life together grow for nearly three years.

Then the truth was revealed: during their engagement, he had cheated on her twice. Scared and disoriented by the speed at which their relationship was progressing, he panicked and did something terrible.

He had also been addicted to prescription pain killers and pornography for nearly their entire relationship. While she knew that he had had these struggles in the past, he had assured her that it was all over. Five months after they started dating, it all started again. He even stole pills from members of her family.

They're in counseling, but they don't know yet where they will end up. She wants to leave, but she feels that the right thing to do is to give it one last try.

Last night, she got very drunk, made out with a stranger, and ended up in the ER. Her husband met us there and drove us home. She asked him to put her rings back on her hand. It may mean nothing, or it may mean everything. A bond like theirs can withstand a lot. But it has taken a pretty heavy blow. Even if they survive this, we all know now that things like this can happen. Grief like this can come to any of us. Love is not all you need.

I still have hope in them, in love. It's just a little bit less.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

well okay then

This weekend, John and i went to Bethesda to visit my brother. My aunt brought us a copy of our hometown newspaper, which featured a front-page story about my brother going home for the first time and seeing friends and family.

This story was just above one about a bee colony being moved.

The bee colony story beat out the article about bomb threats to local schools and my gynecologist running for congress. The bomb threat story had a typo in the name of the town.

This is the same town where there was once a fifteen minute traffic delay because a cow got onto the bridge.

You can't make this shit up.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Overheard in the Office 14

Dude: "Hey, uh . . . (to his girlfriend, in a whisper) I don't know what to say."
His Girlfriend: "Just tell 'em what you want."
D: "Uh, I want to sign up."
Me: "Um, you mean you want to apply to be a student here?"
D: (with a pleased smile) "Yeah."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Every Tradition Starts Somewhere

Seven years ago, i celebrated Easter at home with my family. We did the whole nine yards: Pancake Day (or Fat Tuesday), Lent, Good Friday services, Sunrise Services, Easter baskets, and egg hunts. That was my last Holy Week at home.

Six years ago, i was in Spain from Fat Tuesday (February 20th that year) until the middle of May. I spent all of Lent and Holy Week in Seville and Badajoz and Malaga (with a day trip to Portugal).

Five years ago, Agelseb's mother came up to Boston for Easter weekend, and we celebrated together.

Four years ago, i had no roommate and all of my friends had gone home for Easter break, so i went to CVS and bought crackers and grape juice and a candle. I lit the candle in my room (even though it was against the rules), and took communion and read scriptures alone as my own Good Friday service. I seem to remember also doing my own Sunrise service that year, but i'm not sure.

For the next two years, i did some variation of this service. Once i played worship music softly in the background, once it was silent. Once i fasted, once i did not. Last year i bought fancy bread and high quality grape juice and prayed quietly in my room.

This year, i am expanding this new tradition a little. On a whim, i invited John to participate. He suggested that i invite Benji and Mrs. Benji as well. And then i invited Pammer and Larissa (though none of them could make it). And i have spent much of my week researching Passover seder traditions and the Haggadah. I've been writing menus and reading scripture and thinking about seating.

As it turns out, the Haggadah is really freaking long. Like, fifteen pages, and most of that is the post-meal blessing. I hope no one will be offended by this, but since none of my guests are Jewish and most of the service is a reflection on Jewish history and culture, i cut it down to about three pages. I wanted to keep some sense of the history, but i also wanted to reflect my own culture and the culture and needs of those i had invited to break bread with me. The Haggadah says that anyone who does not mention the lamb, the matzo, and the bitter herbs has not done their job, so i have included those things. Wherever possible, i kept the original language, and only condensed it. I have written only about two or three lines in this service. The details are still being ironed out, but i'm kind of looking forward to this odd new tradition of mine.

First, a blessing for the wine:
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.
drink wine

Then, a blessing on the greens and side dishes:
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.

A blessing on the matzo:
This is the bread of affliction. Whoever is hungry or in need, let him come and eat.

A blessing on the lamb:
This is the Passover sacrifice for deliverance. Whoever is hungry or in need, let him come and eat.
A blessing on the bitter herbs:
These are the bitter herbs of suffering. Whoever is hungry or in need, let him come and eat.

A general blessing:
The Holy One, blessed be He, redeemed not only our fathers from Egypt, but He redeemed also us with them.
Thus it is our duty to thank, to glorify, to exalt, to adore, and to honor the One who did all these miracles for our fathers and for us. He took us from sorrow to joy, from deep darkness to great light, and from bondage to redemption. Let us therefore recite before Him Hallelujah, Praise God!
Now eat and drink to your heart’s delight.

After the meal, all who ate recite the Grace:
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who, in His goodness, feeds the whole world with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the King who is good and does good to all, each and every day. He has done good for us, He does good for us, and He will do good for us. To You alone we give thanks.
Even if our mouths were filled with song as the sea, and our tongues with joyous singing like the multitudes of its waves, and our lips with praise like the expanse of the sky, and our eyes shining like the sun and the moon, and our hands spread out like the eagles of heaven, and our feet swift like deer we would still be unable to thank You Lord, our God and God of our fathers, and to bless Your Name, for even one of the thousands of millions, and myriads of myriads, of favors, miracles and wonders with You have done for us and for our fathers before us.

And then Scripture readings:
Exodus 12:1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.’

Luke 22:19 And He (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
Luke 23:44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'" Having said this, He breathed His last. So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!"
48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. 49. But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

first church of haagen-dazs

I'm not very good at being a Christian. I'm not very good at trusting, waiting, hoping. I'm snarky and rude and often judgmental and proud. I have fallen out of the habit of daily Bible readings. I lose myself in anger and frustration. I don't have a Scripture reference or sermon illustration to answer every question.

I was raised in faith. My family attended church three or four times a week and visited church members every day. We were homeschooled. My best friends were youth group members. We prayed over every meal. Until i got to college, i hardly owned any secular music. I wore a purity ring and had vowed to abstain from sex until i was married.

I don't evangelize. Not in the grocery store, not at work, not at home. Of my four siblings, i am the only one who still identifies as "Christian". The other three all call themselves agnostics. I pray for them, not that they would be convicted of their sin and led to the truth, but that Jesus would find them wherever they are and under whatever name makes most sense to them.

We've been through a lot in the last year as a family. And we've all had our own individual struggles. There have been times when i have felt that i only existed as God's afterthought, as a last-minute effort to correct an oversight. There have been moments when i doubted that God was paying any attention to me at all. There was one night where i was convinced that God did not exist at all.

I don't know why the wicked prosper and the good do not. I don't know why God doesn't tip the scales from time to time, why big miracles don't seem to happen any more, why babies die and my dad keeps getting fired and people starve to death while we throw away our uneaten French fries and hot fudge sundaes and cancer and AIDS exist and there is hatred and bigotry and ignorance and anger and fear and doubt.

I don't know what denomination, if any, i want to belong to. Sometimes, i don't know if i want to call myself a Christian anymore.

I am beset with doubt and instead of praying or talking to my pastor i am blogging quietly at my desk.

But this i do know:

Every time a major catastrophe touches me or my family, everything from dumping Casey to my mom's wedding to my brother's injury, there is a sale on Haagen-Dazs ice cream four days before.

Every time i need peace, strength, hope, and comfort, i am able to stock up on ice cream well beforehand. I like to think of it as God's way of wrapping His arms around me and saying, "Here. Have some ice cream. I love you."

I haven't yet put together a personal theology, nor have i found a more formal one with which to align myself. I may not have read the Bible in a while but i can confidently state that ice cream is not mentioned anywhere from Genesis to Revelations. Maybe in the Apocrypha somewhere, but i doubt it.

Here is what i do know: God is love. We are to love one another. Ice cream is good.

Monday, April 2, 2012

purple heart redeux

After Adam was attacked, i knew i wanted to get a tattoo to memorialize his service and sacrifice. I wanted a purple heart, as that was the award he would receive, but i wasn't really sure where to put it. I thought about my shoulder blades, the nape of my neck, my rib cage, my forearm. But nothing seemed to fit. And then Adam's leg was removed, sixteen centimeters below his knee.

Pammer and i went on a weekend outing together. She wanted to get a new piercing, and i wanted to get my tattoo. We went to a place in Cambridge called Chameleon, and afterwards we went to a vegetarian/vegan diner.

The day before our date, Pammer was at work talking to a friend of hers about our weekend plans. Her friend (an older woman), was skeptical of our plans. "I understand the thought behind the tattoo design, but a tattoo is forever," she said severely. Pammer nodded and said, "So is an amputation."

Sixteen centimeters below the knee.