Monday, December 28, 2020

One Year Down

Yesterday marked mine and Daryl's first wedding anniversary! I woke up to a nice note and a fancy pair of earrings and then more notes hidden around our bedroom/bathroom. It was really sweet, and I just kept thinking how happy I am to have married such a thoughtful person.

Friends have asked me how the last year has been, and honestly, it's been great. I have zero complaints! All my expectations of marriage have been met, and as far as Daryl is concerned, they've been exceeded. It helps that we are both in our late 30s, have stable and well-paying jobs, and know what it's like to feel lonely. I think, though, that even if it weren't for those things, we'd still be pretty happy because he's so thoughtful and kind and affectionate and open. Also, we're very well-suited to each other, and since I'm a believer in the birds-of-a-feather-flock-together idea of love, I think our similarities bode very well for a lifetime of love.

My oldest step-son was saying something today about "following your heart," and I told him that wasn't always the best idea. (He was trying, at that particular moment, to annoy me.) Then he said, "But you followed your heart when you married dad, didn't you?"
"No, I didn't actually."
"You didn't?"
"Well, maybe a little bit, but 90% of my decision had more to do with following my head."

Our conversation ended at that, but it's true. Most of my decision to marry Daryl was based on my interactions with him and the indicators he implicitly gave me. I knew, for example, that he was a good employee and a smart one based on meetings we had both attended and work conversations I overheard. I knew that he was generous with his money and time, based on the gifts he gave his family and the group lunches he paid for. And I knew that he was a good parent because he talked often and fondly about his children. There were smaller indicators, too -- he listened to similar music, he asked me out on actual dates and always walked to my door (I've had men honk their car horns!), and gave me well-worded and detailed compliments. In several small ways, he always, always, always made me feel like I was worth spending time with. It seems obvious, but in my experience, that is the most common failure -- and best indicator at future behavior -- when it comes to healthy relationships.

There's so much more I could write about Daryl and how I made the decision to marry him, but for now, I'll simply say that it was the easiest decision I've ever made in life. My brain determined what my heart rarely does: that this is the way to go in life; this is a person you can create a great life with.

Thing I'm thankful for: ganache truffles

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

On Identity

I've been thinking lately about identity and why people identify themselves the way they do . . . And what I want to say is that I am glad I had the parents I did. AND I'm glad I attended the church I did. Let me explain:

  1. My parents did all kinds of things. I often saw my dad reading thick books in our library/study. He sat in there for hours reading and thinking. I also saw him sitting in his office at Oklahoma State University, surrounded by books that looked much heavier than the ones in our house. I saw him play basketball, saw him laugh with friends, heard him whistle golden oldies, watched him work in the yard, and went on walks with him. My mom often read, too, but she read in her cozy bed. While my dad read non-fiction prose, my mom read mysteries and thrillers. I heard her sew clothes and wedding dresses and watched as she built a successful greeting card company all by herself. I watched her apply make-up in the car and marveled at her ability to talk to anyone and everyone. I heard her whistle, too, but she preferred music of the 60s a bit more than the 50s hits my dad liked. She introduced my sister and me to Hollywood classics, and she treasured art from the Impressionists. She also liked science, and I remember saying goodbye to her at night, when she left to work at the hospital as a nurse's aid.

    Both my mom and dad had varied interests and by just being themselves and living their lives, they imbued in me a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around me. I never thought of my mom as "just a mom." I thought of her as a mom, an artist, a performer, a business owner, and a woman who just . . . got things done. Similarly, I never thought of my dad as "just a dad." I thought of him as a dad, a speaker, an athlete, a psychologist, and a professor. They didn't have one identity; they had several. They didn't put their kids first; rather, they lived their lives and let their children come along for the ride. I didn't appreciate that until much later in life, when I realized that not all people have the advantage of having such fascinating parents. I rarely thought I couldn't do anything because I had parents who did nearly everything. My mom spoke up when she needed to. She knew when there was a problem with the car, and she knew how to talk to the mechanic behind the counter. My dad was the early-riser who made breakfast and waved us off to school each morning. Their sometimes "gender-bending" interests, can-do attitudes, and constant reading essentially gave me a blank slate. I never expected a book to be too hard and never assumed I couldn't do well at math or science. Perhaps more importantly, I never thought of myself as one thing. In my mind, I could be many things: a daughter, a good student, a scientist, a writer, a baker, and a great friend.

  2. The first song I learned in church primary was "I Am a Child of God," not "I Am a Mormon." Similarly, the heading in the first lesson of Preach My Gospel (a missionary handbook) is "God is Our Loving Heavenly Father." Look up any Church manual, and I'll bet a hundred bucks that the first lesson is always about how we're children of God and He loves us. This may not seem like a big deal, but to me, it's a crucial distinction. Being "Mormon" or "Latter-day Saint" is just one small part of my many-sided identity, but really, at the heart of myself is just one thing: I am a child of God. Put simply, I am a person. That's it, really. I am a person and everyone else on this planet is a person, and we're all interested in lots of things. I guess in that way, I'm just a person who is a daughter, who likes to do well in school, who is interested in science and writing and baking and who likes to make and maintain friendships.

Why does this matter, you ask? Especially now? And why did I feel the need to share it here? Truth be told, it was inspired by a friend's Facebook post I took issue with, but more than that, I suppose it matters to me now because the world seems a bit fractured at the moment. I wonder . . . Would we all do a little better, if we remembered that everyone else is just a person, too? Trying to make it in this world while holding on to the things they know and cherish? I think so.

Thing I'm thankful for: Post-it Notes. They really are one of the best inventions ever. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

My Political Ideology


I subscribed to NYT Cooking tonight so I could get my hands on a cranberry curd tart recipe, which I'm very excited about. After I entered my information and paid the subscription fee, I was asked to take a quick survey. There were questions about my age, gender, employment status, and reading habits. Then I got this question:

I didn't know what to click for my political ideology, so I asked Daryl. He immediately said, "Liberal." This led to a short discussion about our political perspectives and why he thinks we land where we do. I guess it took me a little by surprise. I've always said I was "moderate but a little left-leaning" because . . . If I'm honest, I kinda want to be moderate. But Daryl answered so quickly -- no hesitation at all. I wondered if that's how others see me, too.

It's just interesting -- thinking about how to label my political ideology and then about how people see me. My mom certainly thinks I'm liberal and that it's a product of my "liberal education in Austin." Ha! But in other places I've lived, I'd probably be labeled "conservative." Or would I? Maybe not anymore. I just don't know. It's something to think about, though.

Thing I'm thankful for: herbs and spices!

Friday, November 20, 2020

It Takes a While To Run Into Someone Incredible

Sometimes I wish Daryl and I were celebrities and that Daryl was being awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award. The American Film Institute would ask me to speak about him before he receives the award, and I'd have to get on stage in front of dozens of cameras and hundreds of people to say all the things I love about him. It wouldn't be difficult. I often daydream about what I'd say or how I'd inevitably tear up and laugh at myself and look across the room at him, and he would look right back and laugh, too. And then everyone would wish they were married to someone like Daryl 'cause he's the best.

I told him earlier this week that he's my Amal Clooney. Let me explain:

George Clooney was a bachelor into his 50s. Women the world over swooned for him, and while I myself never did, I can definitely see the draw -- he's handsome, has a lovely swarthy and salt-and-pepper complexion, is playful and good-naturedly mischievous, and always seems to have a twinkle in his eye. These traits would be harmless for a man in his twenties, but for a man in his 50s, they are signs of rakishness. They are the reasons he can't hold onto a partner and will be forever confined to bachelorhood. That's what all the magazine articles said, anyway, and maybe George Clooney began to believe them.

But then he met Amal Alamuddin, who is gorgeous and what's more -- she's extremely intelligent, well-spoken, and kind. She's a lawyer who fights for human rights and shines a spotlight on crimes against humanity. Reading about her makes me want to be her friend.

As soon as the two got engaged, it's as though celebrity gossip columnists and Clooney fans everywhere said, "Oh. That's why he was single for so long." Clearly, he wanted no mere marriage. He wanted someone incredible, and it takes a while to run into someone incredible.

That's how I feel about Daryl. I didn't want just anybody. I wanted someone incredible, and it took me a while to run into someone incredible.

If only I could somehow tell the world in a televised event, such as this one or this one.

Thing I'm thankful for: my handsome blue-eyed and brilliant husband, Daryl.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Happy Birthday to Daryl!

It was Daryl's birthday on Friday, and it was actually a difficult day for everyone, so I didn't get a chance to properly highlight him on here. As such, I will list 10 things I love about him:
  • He gives the best hugs and cuddles.
  • He seasons food to perfection and usually cooks dinner.
  • He reads to the kids and me every night, and he reads well!
  • He listens to me prattle on about anything and everything.
  • He shares all the chores.
  • He teaches me about the things he knows and is patient when I ask questions.
  • He waters all the indoor plants.
  • He compliments me regularly.
  • He taught himself to play piano, and he plays it beautifully.
  • He looks good in a race car! (See the photo above!)

Happy 39th, Daryl! I love you so much! You make life better!

Thing I'm thankful for: tomato sandwiches

Saturday, September 12, 2020

I Am 38 Going on 70

 This is a picture of my nightstand:

I just bought this a couple of days ago 'cause I was tired of keeping track of all my pills and when I had taken them last. It's a little depressing.

Thing I'm thankful for: simple usable products

Monday, August 31, 2020

Presidential Election 2020: My Thoughts on Voting

I've never written about a Presidential Election on my blog before, so this is a bit strange for me. I think it's important, though, to talk about where I stand, so that 1) I have a record of it and my posterity has a record of it, and 2) I can help anyone who might be on the fence about who to vote for.

Truth be told, I didn't put enough effort into any votes before this year. I voted Republican because I had a vague sense of what Republicans stood for, and honestly, it was hard to understand where candidates landed on lots of issues during the pre-Internet Age. Now, you can find out more than you probably want to know about each candidate, and I guess in some ways, it's a blessing and a curse. What do you do, for example, when one candidate has been accused of plagiarism, and there is evidence aplenty online of his guilt? (Biden) What do you do when that same candidate has also been accused of sexual harassment? These things may not have seen the light of day, if we didn't have the internet. Similarly, without the internet, we may not know that the other candidate has made extremely crude comments about women or that he lied about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400 list or that he engaged in suspect tax schemes and went bankrupt several times. (Trump)

In 2020, we are privy to the seedy details of people's lives, and when it comes to Presidential candidates, that can leave us feeling downright disappointed and lackluster about voting. We can throw our hands up in the air and exclaim, "Does it even matter anyway?" We can also just vote the same way we've always voted because let's face it -- it's easier. There's next to no cognitive load when you don't have to suss out where each candidate stands on key issues. If you vote one party all the way down the ballot, you can walk away feeling like you've done your civic duty, and no one is the wiser.

But what if there's another way? I submit that there is, and I'll quote my dear friend Carrie for this: "Voting has become infused with a weird sense of morality when it's really just pragmatic. One of them is going to hold the office, so pick the one you like better. Or hate least. [. . .] If you don't like the pool of candidates, then get involved earlier in the process."

She's right of course. Getting involved earlier in the process is the ideal way to do your civic duty. Unfortunately for the upcoming election, it's too late. So what now?  I recommend voting for the candidate you think will be a better president. He may not be the best president or the perfect person, but if you look at the Presidential Election as it really is -- as a job interview -- then remember that with job interviews, you are looking for someone who can do the job well enough and better than the other candidates you've seen. For this election, I encourage you to check out this helpful page from Where Biden and Trump stand on key issues. It's mostly neutral, but maybe just a tad left-leaning.

As for me, well . . . I reserve the right to change my mind as the election gets closer, but currently, I'm planning on voting for Biden, and here's why (in no particular order):

  • He's cautious about reopening the economy during this pandemic.
  • He wants to put pressure on China and boost domestic manufacturing.
  • He plans to spend a lot of money on green investments, supports research on advanced nuclear energy, wants to strengthen emission standards, and plans to re-enter the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
  • He wants to eliminate the death penalty and solitary confinement. (I believe very, very strongly in elimination of the death penalty. For further reading on this, see Just Mercy, Wrongful Execution, and Death Penalty Information Center.)
  • He plans to stop additional construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and he supports the DACA program. (I believe very, very strongly in immigration and in welcoming all we can into this country. See The Effects of Immigration on the United States' Economy.)
  • He's promised to pick a diverse cabinet, which would be a welcome and refreshing change.
There are a few more reasons why I plan on voting for Biden, but they have more to do with the fact that he's not Trump -- and that's probably not constructive right now. Hopefully, though, this list is enough to get you thinking about what your own stance is on some key issues. If you decide you don't want to vote for Biden, that's okay, but again, hopefully this list makes you think about why.

Finally, a word to my fellow Christians: I've heard a lot of you say that the key issue for you is where the candidate stands on abortion. As someone who is devoutly Christian, let me tell you why abortion is not the deciding factor for me.

  1. Abortion is at an all-time low and has been trending downward for years, even before Donald Trump took office. (See U.S. Abortion Rate Continues Long-term Decline in Most States and Five Theories for the Record-Low U.S. Abortion Rate.)
  2. As my friend Emily put it, "I think that ship has sailed and what we should be doing is trying to educate everyone on their safe options." For me, that includes greater access to birth control and sex education in schools.
  3. While I don't condone abortion, there are Christian values that I think are more at-risk right now and present themselves in the following ways: anti-immigration policies, improper stewardship of this planet God created for us, and often, limited access to a fair trial.
  4. As a Mormon, I believe that there are some cases when abortion is necessary, and the Church has specified that those cases are as follows: 1) when the life of the mother or child is at risk, 2) in cases of rape or incest. As such, I don't think abortion is a black-and-white issue. There are more perspectives to abortion than simply Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, so I don't assume to understand the nuances of a candidate's thoughts on this topic.

Thing I'm thankful for: a husband who lets me drone on about the thoughts in my head