As some of you may know, I have the good fortune to be married a very creatively gifted man. Guion is the singer/songwriter for a band called Nettles, and they are seriously good. Describing Nettles is a difficult endeavor, but I like to think of it as the music that floats over a misty swamp surrounded by Spanish moss-laden trees. Or the sounds that rise up from a garden in the cycle of growth and decay. Or the harmony elicited by a falling star. It’s a mystical Charlottesville folk band, you know? These kinds of things come up.
Over the past four years, Nettles has been in the process of making their first album. Now, they need your help to finish it. Nettles has a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,500 in 25 days. Would you consider helping them out? Every little bit counts.
My sweet parents came up for this past weekend to help us with a handful of home improvement projects. We had a lot of fun with them (and the pups), and we accomplished a lot!
1: Dad installed a disposal
2: Guion replaced the hideous ceiling fan in the dining room with this giant paper lantern ($9 upgrade. Yeah, I’m going to brag about it)
3: Bought a mattress, and Dad and Guion built a platform bed for the guest room! With little bookshelves!
And I fed my houseplant addiction, which I also consider part of the home improvement processs. Lovely starlight ficus for the living room (so that the maidenhair fern can live in its desired shade elsewhere):
We also just had a great time hanging out, talking, walking the dogs, watching “House of Cards,” and laughing. How lucky to have such resourceful, fun parents.
My great happiness
is the sound your voice makes
calling to me even in despair; my sorrow
that I cannot answer you
in speech you accept as mine.
You have no faith in your own language,
So you invest
authority in signs
you cannot read with any accuracy.
And yet your voice reaches me always.
And I answer constantly,
my anger passing
as winter passes. My tenderness
should be apparent to you
in the breeze of the summer evening
and in the words that become
your own response.
I think this poem is about God, but sometimes I think it is about marriage too.
We’ve been married for three-and-a-half years now. Sometimes we don’t listen to each other. Sometimes we forget to pray. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and assess how the other one is genuinely doing. Three-and-a-half years is comparative blip of time, a twitch of an eyelid. Sometimes it feels like ages; sometimes it feels like we’ve only been married for a few days.
We like to ask each other questions at dinner. What kind of restaurant would you be the proprietor of? If you had to spend an entire week with a relative (excepting immediate family), who would it be? What high school friend do you wish you were still in touch with? If you could have any artist write a review of your masterpiece, who would it be and what would they say?
And we listen to each other’s answers, our eyes open, surprised by this person sitting in front of us.
Lately, I’ve been waking up in the middle of dreams. It is a disorienting experience, and one of the consequences is that the half-finished dream sticks with me throughout the day. Today, for instance, I can’t stop thinking about how Kelsey is going to get all of that molten silver out of her hair, and why it is that Rebecca, my BFF from elementary and middle school, decided to marry a morbidly obese man simply because he wrote her a letter on a piece of yellow notebook paper. When conscious, I had to remind myself, “Kelsey’s hair is OK. Rebecca is already married.” But part of me still thinks that reality is awry.
My fleeting obsessions* in 2013:
(*I define “obsessions” as topics that are suddenly deeply fascinating to me. I then go and read armfuls of books on the subject at the public library and start consuming blogs and websites on said topic, until it eventually ceases to hold my interest. The only two obsessions that have never failed to captivate me are reading and animals, specifically dogs. For the rest of my life, I will be obsessed with books and dogs.)
I wish my obsessions would trend toward more useful things, like personal finance, basic math, the tax code, or local politics. But, alas. I am only interested in the inconsequential.
I’d like to see myself get back into foreign languages, personally. I only practice a little Japanese during my weekly meeting at work, in which I take notes in a mix of hiragana and bad kanji. (I’ve forgotten so much. Gomenasai, sensei.) I’d like to refresh Japanese and take Level I French. I think I’m ruined for other languages, though. I once tried to speak a line of French in front of a French person, and she said, “Hm. Weirdly, your French has an… Asian accent.”
As an extension of one of my 2013 obsessions, I think I’d also like to get obsessed with bonsai.
What do you think I should be obsessed with in 2014?
Even though my books are still in boxes and there is no art on the walls, I am finally beginning to feel like the new house is ours. Maybe it’s the familiar tumbleweeds of German shepherd fur that adorn every room, but it’s starting to feel like home.
The bane of my existence right now is the backyard, which turns into a veritable swamp when it rains — a swamp of red clay pools that the new puppy* utterly delights in. (*Right: We got a second dog! Adopted our foster puppy and named her Eden. She is a joyful little terror. So bright and happy; opposite personality of my shy, sensitive Pyrrha.)
If you have any great solutions to a marshy yard — aside from pouring concrete over the entire thing, which I am often tempted to do — please let me know. I had such high aspirations for having a beautiful house. Now I just have a den of dog hair and clay-stained floors and walls. It is good, though; I am learning to surrender my material possessions to the Hands of the Lord, who points to the dogs and says, “This is why you can’t have nice things.” (It’s training ground for future offspring, right? I’d like to have a competition between a toddler and our two dogs to see who could destroy a room the fastest.)
On the brighter side, I enjoy practicing calligraphy 50% more now that I have A Room of My Own. I like to escape there from time to time. Pyrrha is the only one who is allowed to join me. She’s been more jealous of me since adding Eden to the household, and she likes to be reminded of her top position in my esteem.
I am also reading fiction again and deriving great pleasure from it. I just finished Adam Johnson’s fantastic novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, which most recently won the Pulitzer. I rarely read books that are both action-packed AND superbly well-written. (And darkly funny!) It’s great. I recommend it.
I also continue to marvel that I was lucky enough to get to marry Guion. He is a real winner. Par example: In the past year of our marriage, he has morphed into a gourmet chef. I don’t even want to go out to restaurants anymore, because the food they serve me pales into comparison to what Guion can make. And these are primarily meat-free dishes, too; we’ve continued our aspirations to mostly meat-free eating, and I’ve felt better for it. We sit at our refurbished farm table (thanks, family!), light some candles, and keep the dogs at bay.
Just a quick post to share some news, and by way of explanation of my soon-to-be infrequent presence on the interwebs: We bought our first home yesterday!
We’re really excited and thankful for our friends, who are helping us move, and our families, who are coming down to help us paint (almost every room, because I’m waging a crusade against yellowy-cream walls) and fix up the new place.
It still feels very surreal. We unpacked the kitchen last night, and I kept feeling like we were doing a favor for some strangers in a strangers’ house. Regardless, I am eager to move, paint, and get settled. And probably get the first tiny Christmas tree of our marriage (yes, we’ve been very lazy about Christmas decorations all prior years).
Love my sister and bro: Kels and Alex came to stay with us this weekend, with the intention of camping, which was downgraded to hiking, which was further downgraded to just “a walk on the Rivanna Trail.” Not complaining: We had the perfect peaceful weekend with them, and we even got to eat the first meal from the long-awaited cob oven. As you can see, they are an exquisite couple, and we were so pleased to have them. It is so nice to have such beloved family so close by.