Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A wedding by any other name…

Ever since J and I got in engaged, people have been asking us, “When is the wedding?” Last summer (summer 2013), I decided that it would be in summer 2015, which seems like a long time off but basically, if you want to get married in San Diego anywhere near the water, you pretty much have to book a year in advance. We weren’t prepared to make the financial commitment last summer (to book for summer 2014), so that meant we’d have to wait until 2015. I was fine with that because a) we’re not in any particular rush (since it’s not like our day-to-day lives are going to change), and b) I figured it would give me lots of time to plan and figure out exactly what I want.

Well, ironically, as a consequence of having lots of time to plan and think hard about what I really want, I realized that there are a bunch of other things that I would really rather spend thousands (literally!) of dollars on than a fancy venue, or food and flowers that no one will remember a week later. So we decided to forget doing anything fancy and instead, we’re having a super-casual party at my parents’ house, which also means that we can do it THIS summer.

But once that was all decided, I started stressing out about what to call this thing. In particular, I was feeling oddly uncomfortable with calling it a “wedding”. Part of my discomfort was because the image I have of what this event will look like is totally different from the image usually associated with the word “wedding”. That is, when someone says “wedding”, people tend to think big fluffy white dress, walking down the aisle, someone saying, “do you take this man…” and “you may kiss the bride”. But that’s not what I want at all. We’ll certainly have some sort of ceremony where we will say vows and exchange rings but there won’t be anyone officiating and I’m definitely not walking down any aisle (the white dress is still a possibility but I’m sure it won’t be big and fluffy).

And of course, the other very unorthodox thing about our "wedding" is that we aren’t getting legally married. And I think that was posing an even bigger mental block for me. This is something I’ve been struggling with for a while. If we aren’t going to sign a marriage license, a lot of people would say we aren’t really “getting married”; so then, can we call it a “wedding”? Or to put it another way, if we do call it a wedding, and then people find out we aren’t making it legal, are we going to have to deal with anyone saying, “Oh, so you aren’t really married”? That would just bug the crap out of me…

I sort of agonized about this for a couple of days but I finally came up with a solution that I’m comfortable with, and actually kind of proud of. Instead of a “regular wedding" (whatever that is), J and I will be having “A WALLOP* of a wedding” – *With All the Love, Less the Official Paperwork (yes, it took a whole lot of scribbling to come up with some sort of acronym that captured the idea I wanted AND made something resembling sense – WALLOP came to me at 3 in the morning). So I’m still basically calling it a wedding, but also letting people know it isn’t quite your traditional wedding. I also created a wedding website where I wrote up an explanation of what we’re doing and why. I wasn’t originally going to do a website – it’s not like our event is very complicated and it will just be family – but it makes me feel better that everyone who is invited knows exactly what’s going on.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nailed it

The Bloggess has a fantastic post about turning 40 that is simply too good not to share. My favorite bit:

40 is when you get to be just as stupid and forgetful as you were at 20, but instead of blaming it on being stupid you can pretend that you once knew all of the answers to Trivia Pursuit but you’ve simply forgotten a few things because you’re getting older. And no one can question that. This same logic works for asking questions everyone else is thinking but won’t say out loud, using the wrong fork, calling out people on their bullshit, and forgetting everyone else’s birthdays. It’s not your fault. You’re 40. You’re just young enough to still do everything you still want to do and just old enough to not do anything you don’t want to do ever again.
Go read the whole thing...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving thanks for… finding true love

Like a lot of people, I have a bucket list. I can’t remember when I first started adding things to it but a lot of the items have been there for several years already. Some are sort of cliché (doesn’t everyone want to travel to Australia and Greece?), some are silly, and some make me embarrassed that they are still on there (how many times do I have to say that I need to re-learn Spanish?). But one thing that they almost all have in common is that they are things that I actually have the power, if not the willpower/money/time, to do. That is, there might be various material or mental blocks stopping me from crossing those items off the list, but if I REALLY decided I wanted to do them, I physically could.

The one exception is the first thing I put on the list, however many years ago: “Experience true love”. This is the one thing on the list that I always felt maybe didn’t belong there because while it is something I definitely wanted to do before dying, it is not something that I really have any control over. It’s not like I can just decide to be in love with someone and make them love me back in the same way.

What do I mean by ‘true love’? If you’re like me, you might be hearing lines from The Princess Bride in your head at this point. And in some ways, yes, I’m talking about fairy tale love – not ‘happily ever after’ love or ‘I can’t live without you’ love or ‘I think you’re perfect’ love, but ‘willing to stick it out and work through problems together’ love, ‘life is honestly better with you than without you’ love, ‘I see exactly who you are and while you’re not perfect, I like the whole package’ love. For me, given my history of “loving” men who didn’t love me back, it particularly means feeling loved, not just knowing it intellectually but believing it, emotionally.

Let me be clear: wanting to experience true love sometime in my life does not mean that I was unhappy with being single or that I was sitting around hoping to meet “Mr. Right”. On the contrary, I feel very strongly that the people with the best chance of experiencing true love are those who are most OK without it. But I also think that if I had died without ever truly being in love, I would regret missing out on that experience. I also think that I would probably always wonder whether being happily single could really be as satisfying as being truly in love (it should go without saying that I believe being happily single is WAY better than being in a just any old relationship).

So I am deeply grateful that I met J and that I can cross this one off my bucket list. Loving him, and being loved by him, has added a dimension of happiness to my life that is hard to put into words and that I really could not have imagined before I met him. Our relationship isn’t always roses and sunshine, and neither of us is perfect, but somehow, we are perfect for each other.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving thanks for… a job I love

These days, I suppose I should be thankful just to HAVE a job but I am doubly blessed to have a job that I think is pretty much perfect for me (and perhaps triple-blessed that my job is about as secure as they come). I haven’t always thought so – about seven years ago, just after I got tenure, I did a lot of soul-searching to figure out if I wanted to stay in academia and if I did, if I wanted to stay at my particular university. What I realized was that although it isn’t always perfect and there certainly are a few things I wish I could change (like the personality of some of my colleagues!), there really isn’t any other job that I can imagine being a better fit for me. Being a professor gives me a ton of flexibility to work on the projects that I am most interested in, gives me a feeling of contributing to the world by helping my students become more critical thinkers, and allows me the flexibility to mostly avoid colleagues I find incredibly annoying. Being a professor at my particular institution (a state university) means that teaching is even more rewarding because many of my students are the first in their families to attend college, and the research expectations are not so great that I am constantly stressed out. Of course, being a state school, the pay isn’t great but I get to live in San Diego.

Do you love your job?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Music Mondays: Getting in the holiday spirit

This is another Pentatonix song but they just (like today) released their newest video, Little Drummer Boy, and of course, it's amazing!


And if you haven't seen it, their Carol of the Bells is probably the best arrangement I've heard of a song that a LOT of a cappella groups do...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Giving thanks for… my mom

Today is my mom’s birthday (I won’t say which one but it’s a round number) so this is an easy post. My mom is one of my heroes, for so many reasons, and over the years, my appreciation for how awesome she is has only grown.

Although there are a lot of things to admire about my mom, I think the one trait that I most wish I could acquire is her ability to stay calm in situations that would have me freaking out. When I’m stressed out, or pissed off, or over-reacting to something someone has said/done to me, it always makes me feel calmer to talk to her. She just has a way of putting things in perspective, pointing out that there is no point getting all upset about things that are outside our control, while still empathizing and letting me vent.

Like most children, I definitely butted heads with my parents when I was younger. I couldn’t wait to get out on my own. But it didn’t take long after college for me to appreciate everything they had done for me so that I was actually able to take care of myself. Both my parents are, and always have been, incredibly supportive of everything I do, sometimes in ways that I didn’t recognize until years later. But even more, they are really non-judgmental – I’m pretty sure my parents make a conscious effort NOT to express their opinions about my life choices, and that’s definitely driven by my mom (let’s just say that my dad tends to have stronger opinions about things than my mom so I have to believe that him not saying anything is because my mom tells him he can’t). Unlike many of my friends, I have never once heard anything along the lines of, “When are you going to get married?” “Don’t you want kids?” or simply “Why did you do that?” I can’t tell you how many times one of my friends has related a story about something their parents said or did, basically butting into their lives, that was driving them crazy, and I’ve had to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying, “Hmmm, I can’t imagine my mom ever saying something like that.”

So happy birthday to the awesomest woman I know, and thank you for everything you do for me – I love you Mom!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving thanks for… liking who I am, right now

Women at Forty had a post about how some people get freaked out about turning 40 because if you don’t have the life you want (or thought you wanted), it may seem like 40 is ‘too old’ to do much about it. The point of the post is that “it’s never too late to be who you might have been” - if you don’t like your life, you can always change it, and rather than being a problem, being older instead often means we have the wisdom and power to make changes that we might not have made earlier.

Although I know that the post is supposed to be encouraging and empowering, there was something about that quote (“it’s never too late to be who you might have been”) that didn’t sit right with me. I’ve been mulling it over and I think what I don’t like is the past tense in the second part of the sentence. For one thing, it doesn’t make sense, grammatically – it IS, in fact, too late to be ‘who you might have been’ because the person you might have been is, by definition, something that cannot exist in the present. I realize that the author is referencing the way people will say, “I could have been…” and the quote is trying to respond to that with “You still can be…” but the grammar is just weird.

More importantly, the way the quote is phrased seems, to me, to emphasize looking backward. That is, it refers to the idea of who you wanted to be in the past, rather than who you are now and who you want to be now. Maybe I’m just nitpicking but I would much prefer “It’s never too late to be the person you want to be” or “It’s never too late to love who you are”. Those both put the focus more on the present.

Regardless of how you phrase it, the underlying point is that many people are not, currently, happy with who they are – and as I thought about that, I realized that I am not one of those people. It’s taken a while but I feel like I’m finally in a place where I can honestly say that I like who I am. That’s not to say that I don’t have flaws or that there aren’t things I’m still working to change. But for the most part, I’m pretty happy with who I am and where I am in my life. And I am deeply grateful that I can say that…

Are you happy with who you are, or still trying to figure out how to be ‘who you might have been’?