This Marriage Thing

I saw the above meme posted on Facebook and realized it hit closer to home than I liked. 

Since getting married (I know, a whole two weeks ago), I’ve noticed “I’m sorry” and “you don’t have to do that” rolling off my tongue A LOT towards Alan when he starts to clean, straighten, wash dishes, etc. I quickly follow it up with thanking him for what he’s doing and acknowledging that it’s awesome that he’s doing _______. I’m doing a mental switch. I don’t HAVE to do it all. I have an awesome partner who is “in it” with me, who cleans, organizes, and unpacks along side of me.

When I feel pressure to get things “just so” before Alan gets home, I’ve started reminding myself that he lives here, too. We are making it our home together, and he’s fantastic at washing dishes and making bookshelves and cooking dinner and so much more. 

Here’s to many more moments of reconditioning my thinking and moving towards deeper partnership with my husband. Here’s to that “modern marriage” mentioned during our wedding ceremony (not that dish washing is all that makes a “modern marriage”).

Discovering China

I’ve traveled pretty extensively, especially for someone my age.  However, most of those travels have occurred in Europe and the USA.  Never have I experienced China—until now.

While preparing for this trip, I thought about my image of China—what pops into my head when I hear the word “China”, etc.  I knew I wanted my stereotypes to completely shatter, and I’m excited to report that they are obliterated.

From the moment I stepped off the plane I began to love this place.  It grew with each passing moment during which I observed the people, the government (my first communist country), the types of cars driven, the driving culture/etiquette, the manners and mannerisms, the restaurant culture, the food, the work ethic, the architecture, the lights, the living conditions, the pollution, the hotels, the tea and tea culture, and so much more.

I am the first to acknowledge that I am lacking much insight into the Chinese world, as my time has primarily been spent in hotels, taxis, and buildings, but I managed to find some time for exploration and found my thirst for knowledge about this country and culture to be unquenchable.  Oh, and the food is incredible.

I’ve experienced multiple cuisines and have yet to be disappointed.  The question remains: will I be able to even tolerate Chinese buffets after this (especially considering I rarely was in the mood for them before this trip)—even out of politeness, if I’m with someone who wants to eat there?  I will also be researching the best cookbooks for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese foods.  Recommendations are welcome!

I’m currently sipping “Honey Grapefruit Tea.”  It’s delicious and amazing.  However, when I asked for the recipe, there didn’t seem to be actual tea involved.  Perhaps my China-knowledgeable friends can shed some light?

This is a place to which I want to return.  I want to learn more about the people, the poor and the rich, the living conditions, and what it means to be “Chinese.”  I’m fascinated and have experienced a “rupture of the mundane plane.”  My international button has been pushed, causing the juice to flow through my veins…and I don’t want it to stop.

Why I Post Controversial Things

Sometimes I post something lighthearted and “frivolous” simply for the sake of breaking the stream of heavy topics on my newsfeed.  However, Facebook is an amazing way to get breaking news, keep up to date with trends, and discuss the hard issues with a broad audience.  I love good discussion, and thankfully I do have an intelligent friends list.  I’ve learned, gained new perspective, and found solidarity through various people in that online community.  I hope that as I post I’m able to do the same for others.

The thing I cannot do is stop.  I read thoughtless memes that only further the deep rooted racism, fundamentalism, and fallacious ideologies that are running rampant, not only in the USA, but internationally.  Days like today make me want to bury my head in the sand and never pull it out.  Days like today also make me want to fight for truth and justice harder than I ever have before.

I’m not claiming I have all the answers, and certainly not all the right answers, but I’m trying to be informed and to encourage others to do the same.  Most of all, I desire the rigid mindsets to soften, to recognize the humanity in each one of us.  To daily practice empathy and compassion requires a diligent and concerted effort at which I fail.  But, if you can put yourself in the shoes of someone under fire by the media, government, or a people group and imagine the ensuing challenges, see if you can maintain the same perspective afterwards.

If we agree, fantastic–we’ll still have areas where we’ll rub edges.  If we disagree, let’s speak to each other with minds that are open to genuinely hearing the other person’s ideas and thoughts.  But, above all, we can practice loving and respecting each other as human beings, if not friends/family/etc.

I’m not a hippie (I stress too quickly to be a hippie…something I’m working on), but I do care about people.

The highlight of my day today was talking with a prospective student and finding out he’s from Afghanistan.  I cannot WAIT to hear his story.  Unfortunately, he probably comes under racist and stereotyping fire frequently in the USA.  For that reason, I continue to post.

“The One In Which Kirsten Moves Out”

Yesterday and today marked a new section in my life.  If it were an episode of Friends, it would be called “The One In Which Kirsten Gets Her Own Place.”

Yes, I moved into my own place yesterday.  It’s been a long time coming, and it’s such a strange new feeling.  This is my space.  I can do with it what I please.  Currently, it’s a little overwhelming trying to figure out where to put things, but I keep reminding myself I can organize and rearrange however many times I want.  I’ve picked out the prettiest shower curtain for my bathroom!

Thank you to every person who has supported me, encouraged me, cheered for me, let me stay with them, suggested jobs, gave references, and shared advice with me over the past three years.  I’m a firm believer of “it takes a village.”  I’m not done yet—far from it.  But, I’m so thankful for the many people by whom I am privileged to be loved.

I have a spare bedroom, so I hope you’ll consider coming to visit.  I promise to have a fire in the fireplace (during the cool months), tea in plenty, and I’ll even have coffee for the coffee lover!

Here’s to a new stage of adulthood!  Cheers!

People Are What Matter

I’m a different person than I was nine, ten, eleven, twelve months ago.

You may think, “Duh! We all are!”  But, when I look at photographs there is a dull ache within me, and I recognize that the person in those images is gone.

I made a decision.  I was moving to England, would attend a program, and start a life in Europe.  And now (from my computer in Virginia), nine months and nineteen days since taking off, I can say for the first time in my life (about a decision), “I wish I hadn’t gone.”

Don’t worry yourself or rush to tell me “But look at all you learned!” or “We shouldn’t have regrets.”  I know the catchphrases, the clichés, and the truth.  I know I had a plan, a reason for going, but never have I ever so wanted a plane to turn around.  In fact, it’s possibly the only time I’ve truly wanted a plane to turn around.

It’s true.  I learned lessons, I realized in a new and more powerful way the ranking that people/relationships hold in my life.  I had an opportunity to help educate two children.  I discovered a long-term relationship is manageable (with so so so much credit going to my incredible and strong boyfriend, Alan).  I experienced love and support from family/friends.  And, I began the hard, growing up process of making decisions for myself and not for other people (something I’m still working on).

Yes, ultimately I came back because of a relationship.  I’m practicing saying that without feeling twinges of guilt or that I’m less of a woman/person for letting a relationship matter that much to me.  It does.  Plain and simple, life in a new and exciting place is lonely and depressing when the person you want to experience it with is not there, and on top of it is five hours behind, so while you’re having a great brunch and want to tell him about it, he’s not even awake.

Do I want a career?  Absolutely (though, not a conventional one).  Do I want to excel in what I pursue?  Without a doubt.  Do I want to do it alone or thousands of miles away from my favorite person?  Definitely not.

I cannot change that I went.  Good and bad came from it.  Though, I am so much happier and full of life now that I’m back.  Is job hunting fun?  No.  Would I recommend living at home?  Not unless you have to (but, I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and family to support me).  I’m thankful for the family and friends who love me, support me, and are excited to make plans with me.

I’ve learned this: people are what matter.

Flowers, Sunshine, and Kites

Easter was glorious this year. The day was sunny and breezy, and, while different from the past four years, it was special. We went to church, had a lovely Easter lunch, Alan graced us with his beautiful playing, and he and I visited my Aunt and cousins, where we laughed a lot, drank mimosas, flew kites, and enjoyed rural Virginia together.

A few snapshots of our day…


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Sharing Moments


Remember that yummy, whole wheat, homemade pizza I was making for dinner last night?  Always ALWAYS use fresh flour, even if what you’re using is previously unopened.  It was eaten, and not terrible with the toppings…but the plain crust was very…bran-like.  We also watched The Thin Man, made in 1934, which is the first of the film series with Myrna Loy and William Powell (my favorite is The Song of the Thin Man).

I love sharing things that I love with people—especially when they’ve never experienced them before.  Today we attended The Walk of the Cross in my town, held every Good Friday to commemorate Christ’s walk to Golgotha.  Then we sat in on the service and ate lunch with everyone afterwards.  I first began attending the Holy Week Services as a little girl. Of course, I’ve not gone every year, as school and work would sometimes get in the way, but it was nice to share with Alan, and to also see some faces I’ve not yet seen since returning from England.

Oh, and a cute little girl wearing pink wellies, a pink rain coat, and carrying her umbrella showed up.  Yes, Abi and I were matching on this grey, rainy day…must be a cousin thing.For the first time in years, we might dye Easter eggs tomorrow evening!  (I asked for a mango in my Easter basket.)

And now…I bid you all adieu and wish you a happy weekend!