Archives for posts with tag: The Boy

I’ve been dealing with some serious shit recently. One of my clients died a week ago. He was a little guy, under 10. If you live in the Capital Region you’ve probably heard about it, but I’m not going to go into detail. Suffice to say, I’ve been caught in a maelstrom of grief, anger, disbelief and worry. I found out while I was on my on-call week. I got a phone message from CPS asking for information about this kid, and that he had died. I had to kind of sputter into the phone to the answering service that this was *my* client. I hung up the phone and promptly burst into tears.

Jarak was home as it was Saturday. I told him what happened and he just held me while I cried. All I knew at that point was that I needed him to be there for me. And that all that was keeping me held together was his touch. If he hadn’t been there last weekend I honestly don’t know what I would have done. He was there in between all of my phone calls to hold me. He didn’t ask a lot of questions, he was just there. After 3 years, he knows what I need when I’m upset and I’m so grateful for him.

The grief keeps hitting me in waves. I’ll be ok most of the day or evening, and then it will slam into me and I can’t work or do anything except go home and cry. And Jarak is just there for me. More than any other time, I’m realizing why we have partners. We have partners, husbands, wives to support us when things go to shit. To hold us when there are no words and the only thing that will make us feel better is human touch and connection.

We drove down to Maryland for my cousin’s wedding this weekend. The wedding was amazing and beautiful, if absolutely nothing like ours will be. I’m so very happy for them. We spent Friday night in Philadelphia with one of my college roommates and our cake maker. I haven’t seen her in 6 years, and we picked up right where we left off. There is a reason we were such good friends in college. And our cake is going to be Epic.

Going to a wedding, visiting old friends, and seeing family after this past week was a welcome break, but probably the best part of it was spending 3 uninterrupted days with Jarak. I fell asleep on the couch last night snuggled up with him. I’d been anxious since we got back into New York, but something about touch makes it all go away. We’ve been through a lot as a couple, with 2.5 years of long-distance and financial issues, and learning to communicate, but this week and this weekend has really hammered home to me that there is no one in this world who I’d rather have with me than him as I tackle the rest of the adventure of life. He makes it better just by being there, and that’s what makes him the perfect partner for me.

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I totally missed my 1 year blogging mark. I haven’t blogged since before Thanksgiving. December was a whirlwind of 80 client caseloads, 3 day a week workouts, cooking, baking, travel to York, PA for Christmas, creating our wedding website and making our registry list and finally mailing out our save-the-dates. It was all very boring, and also very tiring. I have tended to want to plop on the couch, watch Netflix and knit after work instead of blogging. So here we are on February 10th, the last day of my 20s and I have 2.5 months of blogging to catch up on. Except I won’t.

Today I want to talk about milestones, specifically birthdays. I turn 30 tomorrow. Whoa… 30. Except that I’m not freaked out about it at all. It helps that almost all of my friends are 1-10 years older than me. 30 doesn’t feel old compared to my friends who are in their early 40s. In fact I’m happy and excited and feeling very proud of myself for all that I have accomplished in the past 30 years. I’m approaching it in a “Woo! I rock!” kind of way. I went to a Goth Night on February 1st and if it was your birthday month you got a tiara. So I now own a plastic silver tiara with pink stones. I normally hate pink, but it’s a tiara and it’s awesome. I wore it at my birthday potluck this past Friday. It was fun.

In terms of accomplishments, there are some things that I wish I’d been able to get around to already, but life conspired against me, and I just have to make them happen when I can. Namely, studying abroad never happened, and when I was 18 I was convinced that I would be married and finished having kids by the time I was 30. Instead I’m engaged and will not end up starting a family until I’m 31 at least. (Although things may change.)

What have I accomplished in the past 30 years?

-I completed both my BA and MA by the time I was 24

– I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and am working towards my Registered Art Therapist and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist certifications.

– I have dated enough people to know what I needed and what was toxic for me so that when I found Jarak I knew that he was perfect for me.

– I have made many good friends who will still be my friends in 10 years (I hope)

– I made two major moves, one from college to grad school in Boston, living on my own for the first time, and then the second one from Boston to Schenectady to live with Jarak.

– I financed a good (used) car that will last me for at least 10 years.

– I learned how to bake bread, from my parents’ recipe.

– I weathered a horrible relationship, graduate school, being perpetually broke/underemployed, dealing with demons of my past and my parents’ divorce, with the help of my absolutely fantastic therapist in Jamaica Plain. 6 years of work means that I now know how to ask for help when I need it.

–  I Grew The Fuck UP. (seriously, I want to smack my 15, 18, 22 and 25 year old selves…)

I think that’s a pretty good list. The last one really kind of sums everything up. I’m much more calm, settled and patient than I was even 5 years ago.

So what does this year bring?

-Jarak and I are getting married!

-My cousin and our good friends are also getting married.

– I get to welcome my niece into the world in April.

-I get to meet my cousin’s awesome baby.

– Travel to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Portland, ME and Halifax Nova Scotia (our honeymoon!)

Maybe I will start a garden, start a compost pile/bin at our friend’s newly purchased house. We will also begin saving for a house and hopefully will have a house before we start our family. In addition, I hope to move into private practice for more flexibility and more money with less pressure to work 45 hour weeks with no breaks.

Wedding planning is kicking into high gear. We’re starting to design our invitations, and have brewed our first batch of Wedding Beer, a Robust Porter. We went suit shopping for Jarak yesterday, and I’m trying to find some sort of bodice/bustier thing to wear under my dress to smooth out any (perceived) lumps under the satin. We’re doing cake-tasting with my college roommate in Philadelphia at the beginning of March. We’re starting to shop for things like dessert plates, cocktail glasses and napkins. I joked to Jarak that now I’m actually allowed to bug him about wedding plans every weekend, now that we’re less than 5 months away from the wedding date. He agreed. The crazy thing is that I’m not super-stressed about anything right now. A little worried about how we’re going to pay for it all, but other than that? Meh… All that really matters is that the people who we love show up, we declare that we are madly in love with each other and want to stay that way, and then we eat and drink. I refuse to worry about tiny details like whether all the shades of purple and blue match, or that we “should” do thing x, y, or z.

And now I’m off to continue reading Game of Thrones, which I started last week and am thoroughly engrossed in. Tomorrow after work I will go have a beer or 3 at Bier Abbey to celebrate actually being 30, and hopefully will remember to blog more.

It’s been a hell of a week. No, literally, hell. I’m on call at work, which means that I can’t ever relax completely on my “off” hours. I always have to have my damn work phone with me. Add that to the fact that I’m seriously overworked and underpaid, and my bosses don’t appear to care, and it’s been a very rough week. Like coming home, throwing my keys on the table and pronouncing “I hate everything” and then throwing myself on the bed. Apparently I turn into a four year old when I’m tired and stressed out. Fortunately, my on-call week ends at 8am tomorrow morning.

Jarak, fortunately, has been wonderful. I’ve been careful to let him know that I’m not mad a him, I’m mad about work. And he’s been taking care of me. I’m super lucky to have him, and he has made things better. He took yesterday off of work, and we spent the whole day together. It wasn’t some grand trip or event, it was just puttering around the house, running errands, lunch at the Indian grocery, and then making dinner and bottling the stout we brewed at the end of August. (It fermented for something like 73 days. It’s nuts) Having a full day with him was wonderful.

On a different note, we’ve been doing lots of wedding-y stuff. It’s going slowly…We’re working on our website (by we, I mean Jarak built the thing, and comes to me for design approval on things. He’s awesome and creative like that.) We ordered our save-the-date magnets from a local printer who neglected to proof them beforehand, and our 3.5×4″ magnets were rotated 90*, so our photos were squished. Jarak grumped at them mightily about that, and they’re reprinting them for free, but still… argh! It took UPS 3 tries to deliver our box of envelopes because the driver rings the doorbell and then leaves… We have purple envelopes! And they’re local and recycled paper! Yay!

I’m trying not to compare our wedding to anyone else’s. What I know is right for us, and fits our budget/style/personalities is in some ways totally different than what is expected by people for a wedding. My cousin is getting married in March, and our good friends have invited us to be in their wedding next September. There will be huge differences in style, budget and aesthetic among all 3 weddings.

Other than the fact that we’re doing this on a (relative) shoestring, the main difference is how much we are doing ourselves, or are asking for help from friends and family. We have made our mead, will be brewing 2-3 batches of beer, and I will likely make some sort of yummy for the reception. Both of our families are full of amazing cooks who we are asking to help provide food. My college roommate who is a fantastic pastry chef is making the cake.  My mother is altering my dress. Our friend who used to be in a band is providing our PA system. We are focusing a lot on local businesses for things that we can’t make or do ourselves.  Our rings will likely be made locally (I have yet to find a pre-made ring that’s exactly to my liking.), our flowers will be from a local farm, the wine will be from a local winery, and perhaps best of all, Nick and Britin Foster of All Good Bakers have agreed to provide sticky buns for the morning of the wedding. These are all things that we believe strongly are important. And we are so blessed to have so many amazing people who are willing to help us out and make our day an awesome success.

Neither of us are particularly religious, and as such we are getting married outside with a friend doing the ceremony. Our siblings and my Bestest Friend Ever are standing up for us, and are standing up by family, instead of by gender. We will likely have an uneven number of attendants. Jarak and the boys will not be wearing suits. (Seriously, outdoors in late June? Shirts and ties are fine.)We will not be having champagne. All of these are things that we’ve been questioned/challenged on already. Fortunately, the questioners have graciously accepted our explanations.

Still, it’s hard to not slip into the mode of “oh, she’s getting/doing that? why can’t I do that?” Or “I wish I could afford that.” Even if it’s not something I want or need! Stupid wedding industrial complex and the cultural expectations that are wrapped up around weddings. Defending our choices is easy now, but I worry that I’m going to be sick of defending and explaining them come June when someone decides that I “have” to do something or we “must” buy this thing.

On a related note: in light of the “something old something new” rhyme, I’ve gotten it into my head that I’d like to borrow a sapphire/lapis necklace from someone. It feels rather silly and minor, but I think it would be a neat way to roll the last two parts of the poem into one. My engagement ring is my something old something new. The amethyst was in a necklace that my father gave me when I was 12.

I’ve had this post kicking around in my head for weeks, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to best get it all down in pixels.

A few months back, Jarak and I were having tasty beers with our friends Logan and Mariana. (They are our closest friends here in Schenectady, and Logan is going to be our officiant. We are in their wedding 3 months after ours.) Somehow the topic of divorce came up, and we realized that 100% of our parents, for all 4 of us, are divorced. Two of the dads have remarried, Jarak’s being one of them, but at the core, none of our biological parents are married to each other anymore.

My parents were married for almost 30 years. They were my role models for marriage. When they separated when I was 25, I felt like my world was ending. (That was also the summer of my car dying, and the very real possibility of shoulder surgery. Summer of 2008 sucked.)Growing up, I felt really proud that they were still together when the parents of my friends and my parents’ friends were getting divorced. I never thought it would happen to me.

It’s a very different thing to experience parental divorce as an adult than I expect it is to experience it as a child. While all of my friends who have divorced parents have had 10 or 15 or even more years to get used to it and for it to become the new normal, I’ve had about 4 years. The wound is still very fresh for me. And as such, the idea of getting married feels very scary, and very brave right now. And I’m absolutely terrified at this point.

I know multiple people my age, and maybe a bit older, who have been married and are already divorced. Someone recently posted to Facebook about how 50% of marriages end in divorce and that everyone should “save themselves the money that they would spend on  a sham wedding.”I read that and felt like I’d been hit. It wasn’t intended to hurt, but it did, because it brought out all of my insecurities and fears about making this huge commitment to this man who I am madly in love with.

I can write about this now, because I’ve talked to Jarak, and my dad, and other friends about my fears. I’m afraid I’m going to say or do hurtful, awful things. I’m afraid that when things get hard, I’ll want to run away and I’ll act on it. I’m afraid of forever. Because forever is HUGE. Like mind-bogglingly huge. Looking at wedding rings and realizing that we need to make good choices now, because these will be the rings that we wear for the rest of our lives. I’m not yet 30, my family lives well into their 90s. I can’t even wrap my brain around 60+ years with the same ring on my hand, let alone in a relationship with the same person. Don’t get me wrong, Jarak is absolutely who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but “forever” in the romantic abstract is very different than forever in the “I will be with this person from now until one of us dies.” It’s a big promise, and I worry if I can keep up my end of the deal.

We are writing our own ceremony, and our own vows. I’m beginning to understand why the traditional vows have “In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.” among other things. It’s going to be important that we have something in our vows about sticking through the hard times, and that even if we don’t like each other sometimes, that we will still stick together. We’re a good team, and we’re really good for each other, but there may be a time when one or both of us feels like that’s not the case. My dad gave me some good advice today. He told me that we will hurt each other badly at times, and that we will have to learn to forgive, both Jarak and myself. I know that while I can forgive others fairly easily, it’s much harder to forgive myself.

Our wedding is the beginning of our marriage. And we’ve talked more about how we want our marriage to be, than how we want our wedding to be. I would do just about anything to make Jarak happy, and to take care of him. I’m reasonably certain he would do the same for me. I hope that going into this big huge commitment at 30, after being together for 4 years at that point, and being clear eyed about the idea that there are going to be parts that are really hard, will somehow fortify our marriage against the boogeyman of divorce. What is a wedding, but one of the biggest expressions of hope for the future any two people can do?

I hate wedding planning. Or rather, I’d like it a whole lot more if I had more money. Weddings involve lots of Things and Things cost money. We’re broke. Not poor, but broke, as in “If we didn’t pay 1/3 of our incomes to student loans we’d be great.” I’d also like it a lot better if stupid Facebook didn’t bombard me with stupid ads down the side of the page about getting married and “the white dress diet” and shoes and ack!

I keep picking up wedding magazines, hoping that they’ll tell me something interesting or new or doable, and then I put them back. I don’t need to spend $5.99 on a magazine that is trying to sell me a vision of my wedding that is totally different from the one that I already have. This is what happens when you have two artist types designing a wedding. We already know what we like, and just because this season’s hottest color is pink, doesn’t mean we’re going to have anything to do with it. I bought one, a Martha Stewart one with neat hair ideas and some cool favor ideas. All of the others stay on the rack.

That being said, I’m a girl, and I’ve been envisioning my wedding since I was about 10. I clearly remember having a conversation with one of my 5th grade friends about what we wanted our weddings to look like and I said I wanted a purple dress. She informed me that I couldn’t have a purple dress unless it was an evening wedding. May I remind you, we were 10?

My parents got married outdoors at my grandparents’ house in rural coastal Maine. It was simple and beautiful. I’ve always kind of wanted to recreate that. However, my father has sold his house, and Jarak’s parents’ back yard is half swamp when it rains, so backyard wedding was right out. And this is where we ran headlong into the Wedding Industrial Complex. Searching for reception venues kept bringing up big banquet halls, plated dinners, and lots of fancy, expensive stuff. We didn’t want any of that.

My dreams for the wedding:

outside
lots of flowers
purple things (dresses, flowers, etc.)
good food and drink, maybe potluck
dance party!

Jarak’s requirements:

not too hot
open bar
as little money as possible

These did not connect very well at first. We agreed on open bar and outside, but otherwise? We were on two separate planets. I’ve been to a lot of weddings. Jarak has been to three or four, and two of them were with me. We had to be on the same page before we could even begin planning. We had a number of very grumpy conversations about money and not spending it frivolously, and whatnot. We started the budgeting process with the question of “What is reasonable/ what are we comfortable spending on this.”Getting on the same page in terms of the language that we were using was really important.

We finally realized that we needed to ask for help. We suck at asking for help. We don’t like to impose on anyone. But once we started to ask, it became clear that people would love to be part of our wedding and to help us out. One of my aunts was overjoyed when I asked her to help with the flowers. We’re bartering for things, we’re making things, and we’re learning to ask for help.

A big issue of contention was my dress. It seems like madness, when you have very little money, to spend upwards of $200 on a dress that you will wear once, for 10 hours at most. We had our biggest fight over the damn dress. At first my mother was going to make it, and it was going to be silk, and all handmade and beautiful. I wanted a princess dress, with a corset bodice, full skirt, sweetheart neckline and straps. All white, mostly plain, not a whole lot of sparkle and certainly no ruching. My mother and I went out to go try on dresses so that she could see what looks good on me, and what I like. We went to a big boutique and I was feeling fat and yucky and grumpy about shopping. I tried on about 20 dresses, and decided none of them were good enough,(bling! ruching! pickups! Lace! Ivory! ugh!) which annoyed the heck out of the consultant. After an hour, we gave up and went home. We stopped to get coffee for me, tea for mom, and to split a really good raspberry chocolate cheesecake. It was the perfect palate cleanser.

And then we found my dress. We went to a little secondhand store in Milford NH called I Do, Again. It’s this tiny boutique with used, bought-and-never-worn, and store samples of wedding, prom and other formal dresses. The woman who ran the store was in the middle of packing it up to move into a bigger space. I tried on a few dresses, which headed in the right direction, and then pulled on an Ivory (!) strapless (!) dress with a lace(!) and beaded(!) overlay on the bodice. It laces up the back corset style, and it fits absolutely beautifully. It’s polyester, not silk, and has a hideous pink waistband. I almost said no. However, when the shop owner found a purple scarf from one of the other dresses in the shop, tied it around my waist and stepped back, I started to cry. Seriously, me, the “I hate shopping, and most girly stuff annoys me” girl, cried when the purple sash went around my waist. It was perfect. And it was under $120. I totally had one of those “Say yes to the dress” moments, and I wanted to smack myself, because I don’t do stuff like this! So my mom and I are going to alter the dress to make it perfect. We’re removing the pink waistband and will add a purple one, we’re taking in the top of the bodice and making the straight neckline a sweetheart and adding a halter strap because I hate strapless dresses, but it will be beautiful. And now I can worry about other things, like finding compostable wine glasses, designing our save the dates and invites, sewing Jarak’s vest, and… and.. and…

I’m realizing that the reason I don’t like any of the wedding magazines is because they’re for people who don’t have their dresses, who don’t know what they want their flowers to look like, who don’t know what the invites and save the dates should be etc. Wedding magazines are not designed for artists. I’m marrying and artist, I am an artist, and it is awesome. And we’re going to look spiffy!

Sundays are my “get things done” days. I am simultaneously making yogurt, making bread, cooking rice and lentils for dinner tonight and lunches during the week. Fortunately, most of these projects involve paying attention to things for short periods of time, and then walking away.

Friday Jarak and I headed to my dad’s house in Southern NH to pick up the remaining items that I had stored at that house. Unfortunately, my parents have had to sell their gorgeous 4 bedroom colonial that we built the summer before my freshman year of high school. It’s on 20 acres of former dairy farm, mostly fields, with a stream, pond and an orchard my parents started when we moved in. Closing is on Thursday, and everything needs to be out by then. The house has felt less and less like “my house” and more like somewhere I visit. I haven’t lived there since I was 22, and after my mother moved out, it felt even more foreign. When I arrive at that house, my dad says “welcome home” and it’s really not home anymore. The apartment I live in with Jarak is home now.

Even though I have complicated feelings about the house, the fact that I won’t be able to visit the property anymore hit me really hard Saturday morning. I had a good cry, and felt sad about it for a while, and then moved on to the hugely frustrating and exhausting task of moving my bedroom furniture down a flight of stairs and into the trailer. We also helped my father move some of the larger things that he couldn’t do by himself into the trailer that he’s using to move.

Packing up my childhood room was strange, and interesting. It’s remained relatively unchanged since the last time I lived in that house. Which means that there was a lot of high school still on the walls. Posters of panthers, artwork I did in middle and high school, the shelf that held the porcelain doll and other delicate girly things that were given to me, the collage of Airwalk ads I tore out of Wired magazine when I was in 8th grade. Very, very high school still. It was interesting making decisions about what things should be moved, and what could be trashed. I found myself saying “I won’t use this, but I’d like to put it in my little girl’s room some day.” Noticing the shift from nostalgia to dreaming about my future girl who I could share my girly things with was interesting. The bed I grew up sleeping in is a family heirloom, and even though there’s no space for it in our apartment, we had to take it, because our first child will sleep in that bed. This whole move was an exercise in planning for the future while acknowledging the current sadness and closing of a chapter.

Over at A Practical Wedding, there’s often a lot of talk about being a team, and doing the hard things together. This weekend I really understood why I’m getting married. Beyond the fact that I love him more than anything, Jarak and I are a great team. We help each other, even when it’s annoying and we don’t really want to do it. Having a partner means that the really hard things are doable, and not so painful and daunting. We each are made better by the other. I could not have done this weekend without him, which I’ve made sure to tell him and thank him for multiple times. Watching Jarak help my dad was really special, because they’re two of the most important people in my life, and seeing them work together really brought home the idea that he’s family now, even if we’re not officially married yet.

Jarak and I have gotten really good at moving recently. We’re also really tired of moving at this point. I woke up this morning and realized that my abs hurt. Our hands hurt yesterday. Jarak was a rockstar and did all of the driving, mostly because we borrowed his step-mom’s car, but also because driving with a trailer scares me, and I had a humiliating experience trying to back up a trailer when I was in college, and have been avoiding it ever since. I really hope that the next time we move, it’s into our first house. For the first time in 7 years, all of my belongings are in the same state. I have moved one particular dresser 3 separate times. (I replaced the dresser I’ve been using with one from my room in NH, so we had to put my old one in storage.)

We’re looking forward to a few weeks (months?) that don’t involve being on the road. In the past month, we’ve gone to a wedding in Burlington, VT, driven to Midcoast ME to visit my grandmother and aunt, and been to my dad’s in NH twice. It’s been a lot of driving, and a lot of not being home. My cat has not been happy with us.

On the up side, now that we have my other bookcase, we finally have space for all of our books. We’re at 5 book cases and counting. I emptied two banker’s boxes of books today.

Now to put lentils and rice away, clean up the kitchen, and wait for the dough to rise so that I can form loaves and bake it. Then either reading or netflix.

Today was a day where I was very, VERY glad I have a partner like Jarak. He made me go to the emergency room this morning. Not only that, but he got up 3 hours before he usually does on his day off to drive me to the ER, sat with me while I was there and drove me to  the drug store to get my prescriptions and then drove me home and put me back to bed.

Why did I have to go to the ER at 8:30 on a Friday morning when I’m usually so healthy? I will tell you internets. I have had a sensitive tooth for about a year now. Cold makes it all stabby. I clench my jaw when I sleep and had worn the tooth pretty badly creating the sensitivity. I also have a filling in that tooth that’s been redone once already. About 10 days ago that tooth started hurting. At first it was occasional, and it got progressively worse. I was in so much pain yesterday at work that I was nauseous. I was getting nerve transfer from my tooth into my scalp. This is the worst toothache of my life! And I’ve had braces. I called Jarak’s dentist who couldn’t get me in until Tuesday. Great…Ibuprofen, acetaminophen and the topical oral anesthetic stuff were barely touching it. I fell asleep on the couch at 7pm last night and went to bed proper at around 10.

I woke up this morning, got ready for work and minutes before I walked out the door was hit with excruciating pain. I quickly realized that there was no way I was going to get through today, even though it’s a relatively short day. I called out of work, called the school I work with to let them know I wasn’t going to be in, and then sat down on the bed and cried I was in so much pain. It takes a lot for me to call out of work. I need to be either throwing up, running a fever, or in tears. Today was the in-tears kind of day. Jarak suggested that we go to the ER. I felt kind of silly going to the ER with tooth pain, but then again, people go to the ER for much less pain than this. We’re talking spikes up to 10 on the 1-10 scale.

So we head over to Ellis ER. It’s pretty quiet this time of day, thank goodness. I told him he didn’t have to come, but he gave me the look that said “are you nuts? of course I have to be there.” What he said was “if they give you the good drugs, you need someone to drive you home.”  My blood pressure was the highest it’s ever been, but the nurse said that with dental pain it’s pretty understandable. Initial doses of penicillin and  Motrin were given,  and we were in and out of the ER in under an hour with a script for penicillin, script for oxycodone and a recommendation to take 800mg of ibuprofen or 1g acetaminophen pretty regularly and to avoid the narcotics if I can. I took one of the oxys when I got home because I needed it to stop hurting. Then we went back to bed. I’m relatively pain-free right now, which is nice, because it’s hurt continuously since Sunday night. I feel super-guilty about calling out of work though, because, technically, I could be at work. Except that no one wants a therapist who’s in pain or doped up on oxy.

We realized something while we were sitting in the ER.  He is the person I want to be notified first if anything happens. The nurse asked for an emergency contact, and I gave them Jarak’s name, not my parents, for the first time ever. We live together, and if anything were to happen, I want him to be there more than I’d want anyone else. Which led me to realize that he needs my parents’ contact information. I have his family’s contact info because I’ve come to visit so many times and I was living there, but he doesn’t have any way to get ahold of my family. It’s one more way that we’re cementing our relationship as a partnership.

The other, totally unrelated way that we’ve done that recently is that I am now on his AAA account. It’s not just facebook official, it’s AAA official.

So in short, pain sucks, but my boyfriend is amazing. Also, I’m shite at allowing myself a sick day.

In the three weeks that we’ve been living together on our own, I’ve learned a number of things about Jarak, about myself, and about our relationship.

  • Being able to cook is super-important to both of us. We had a working kitchen the night we moved in. It was the first thing we set up, other than the bed. We had at least one frying pan, and our coffeemaker set up and ready to go for the next morning. We made our galley kitchen feel way more spacious simply by pushing the fridge to the short wall facing the galley, and putting my bread table/shelves where it used to be. Much more spacious now.
  • He won’t do my breakfast dishes after  I rush to work in the mornings, but he will do his dishes after he makes lunch for himself. I mistakenly assumed he would clean up after me. No way.
  • I generate about twice as much laundry as he does. He gets to wear the same thing every day. Uniforms are useful. I have to wear something different every day because A) I work with teens and they notice, and B) I work in an office and it just Won’t Do to wear the same thing.  Suffice to say I’m a bit jealous.
  • When one of us gets sick, the other gets sick, within a span of about 8 hours. I had a sore throat on Thursday night, and by Friday it had developed into a full-blown cold. He came down with a cold at the same time. When we were seeing each other 6 days a month, we rarely ran into this. Now that we see each other every day, there are a lot more germs flying around. But when the options are kissing each other and risking a cold or not kissing and potentially avoiding a cold? We’ll take kissing every time.
  • I don’t like to make house decisions without his input. There are some things, like putting plastic on the windows that I’ve done because it needs to get done and I know he won’t object. (Holy drafty old windows batman! I couldn’t open the thermal curtains without the wind driving cold air in last weekend.) And then there are things like deciding which floor lamp to buy, or which floor pillows. At first I felt like I was being silly deferring to him, but then I realized: it’s our house, not just mine or his, and it’s important to me that he is happy with what I pick out. Grocery shopping is one thing, house shopping is another.
  • The quality of your relationship before you move in together dictates the quality of living together. He makes me happy just by being around. Even when I’m exasperated, I now that I still love him, and that we’ll figure it out. (I’ve only ever lived with one other partner, and that relationship was in trouble from the word go. Moving in together did not fix it, it made it worse. This is so much better and so different and it’s amazing.)
  • I stink at letting anyone else cook. I always want to do it my way. And I need to back the hell off because otherwise it creates hurt feelings and tension. Even if it’s way spicier than I usually like, I need to at least try it, because it makes him happy, and it’s polite, and it’s probably good for me.
  • He is a brilliant spatial analyst. He made our tiny office feel cozy without feeling cramped, made excellent use of the space we have, and still found room for a set of shelves for all of his technical stuff. (We have more Cat-5 cable than any household really should. We also have shells for 3 computers kicking around, one will be the media machine, and one will eventually become my desktop and replace my aging MacBookPro.)
  • We have So Many Books! My two folding 2 bookshelves from my old place are full, and we have 4 banker’s boxes of books waiting for a home, and there are still more sitting in storage. Duplicates may get edited, and some of the stuff that never gets read may get given away, but still. So many books!
  • Waking up next to him never gets old. Getting to hug him every day never gets old. In fact, it’s awesome. And it makes me so happy. It still feels surreal, even 3 weeks later. I imagine that eventually it’ll be “normal” but after 2.5 years of long-distance, every snuggle feels special. I’m going to revel in this for a long, long time.

There are probably things that I’ve missed. We’re still working on communicating effectively about things, and making requests in ways that the other person can understand. It’s a process. We usually get it by the third try, and  before someone gets grumpy.

Have any of you gone through this process? What did you learn when you moved in with your partner?

First, the good things! My spent-grain bread came out well, although it could have used slightly less water, and maybe 10 more minutes in the oven. Next time we buzz the grains in a blender before baking. Barley husks are pointy and have a nasty tendency to get caught in soft places in your mouth. (Which is most of it.) Also, today Jarak and I made spent grain cookies. Oh my goodness so tasty! Chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Yum.

Hard things. My cat Mystique has been acting up. She keeps pooing on my bed. I wash my top blanket, she does it again 3 days later. Clean litter box almost every time. I’m very frustrated. Hopefully it will stop when we move into our own place.

Other hard things, and ones that are way more important: learning to live with the love of my life. I knew that the transition from seeing each other for 6 days a month, (3 at my place, 3 at his) to living together would be hard. I just didn’t realize how it would manifest itself.  We’re having to learn to communicate and negotiate in ways that we haven’t previously. I like to make decisions quickly, looking at the facts I have and saying “ok, let’s go for it” (or not.) Jarak deliberates. He looks at all the options and then mulls them for a while. He gets grumpy when rushed or when he feels pushed into something. I got a glimpse of it this summer when we were planning to go to Seattle for my friend’s wedding, but it really crystallized for me during our apartment search.  I see something and go “yes, let’s do this” and he says “wait a minute, what about these things that need to get fixed.” It’s a nice check for my gung-ho self, but sometimes creates hurt feelings when the whys of decisions or opinions aren’t spelled out, from either of our directions. We keep reminding ourselves to work on communicating better, and that we still love each other. We may have an apartment though. Details when things are solid and signed.

Sometimes though, it’s less Big Relationship Things like communication and more the “we planned poorly and now we’re in a mess.” Last week we got 4″ of snow, and I had an 9am meeting. I pulled Jarak’s big rear wheel drive  Crown Vic out of the driveway so that I could get my car out, and realized that A)rear wheel drive cars don’t handle the same as front wheel drive and B) he had postponed snow tires. Our residential street had yet to be plowed, and I couldn’t get enough traction to get up the slight incline. After fussing and sliding and getting frustrated, and his mom not having any luck either, I finally went and woke him up and said “I can’t do it, the car is stuck, and I have a meeting to get to, can you get up and move your car? Thanks, love you, bye!” And because he is wonderful and helps me out of messes, he did. First gear and patience, (which I didn’t have) got the car unstuck, while I raced off to my meeting (which had been cancelled!) And then he went back to bed. He works nights and 8am is not a time that he often sees. For the record, my AWD Subaru managed just fine thanks.

To end with a Good Thing. Which is a very good thing. I get to see my boyfriend, my partner, Every. Single. Day. That is SO COOL! Even if it’s for 3 minutes when he’s half asleep and I’m headed to work, I can still wake him up and give him a kiss. Every Single Day! And sometimes when he gets home from work after I go to bed he’ll wake me up to say hi, and then let me go back to sleep. I get him all evening on two nights a week, and most of the day on the weekends. (Our days off don’t match unfortunately.) Getting to see him and connect with him every day is totally worth any amount of frustration I have.

Jarak and I keep saying that our eventual kids are going to learn science not from school, but from us at home. We bake, we brew, he got diet cola and mentos for Christmas 2 years ago, I garden. You know… science! However, I’m horrid at physics, because I never had to take it. Unlike Mass and NY, NH doesn’t require physics to graduate high school.  A year each of bio, and chem and one other science,  and 3 years of math, but no physics. Go figure.

Grolsch style bottle. We have the second from right style.

We have been using Grolsch bottles for our saison and recycled 360 Vodka bottles  for our mead. Note, both have swing tops. Who’s the kid who tries to open each bottle by pulling up on the bottom wire? Me. Jarak turned one around and pushed the hinges with his thumbs. I go: ” why did I never think of that?” And he says “I took physics.” and smirked as only he can. It was quite amusing.

360 Vodka bottle

So we made a sylvan stout this weekend that will be super-tasty. It’s modeled after the super-delicious Pretty Things beer  Babayaga. See? They’re nice enough to give us a basic recipe.  I want to call it “Chicken Legs” and see if anyone gets the joke.  And we made a hyssop-yarrow beer from the second runnings of the grain. Both are bubbling away nicely now that we kick-started the yeast by keeping upstairs for a while  where it was warm.

We saved the spent grain from this batch of beer to make bread with. There are a million spent-grain bread recipes out there, but I couldn’t find any that I really liked. Most of them are based off of Mark Bittman’s No Knead Bread recipe.  But I have neither the space or the dutch oven for it.  I considered using this one, but then thought “wait, I can make bread, why not just add spent grain to my existing half whole-wheat half white recipe.” So I did. I have the sponge rising right now.

No, I have no idea what the measurements are, because the only two things I measure in the first part of baking is the 2 1/4 cups of water and the 1 tablespoon of yeast. I add flour to make it look like soupy oatmeal and  then let it sit in a warm place for an hour.  The rest of it is fairly straightforward. After the first rise add 2T sweetener, 3T oil and 1T salt. dd flour until it’s not sticky, knead it until it fights back when hit, let rise again for an hour, pound down  and shape into loaves. Let it rise until doubled in size and then bake for 35min at 350*F. This is the same bread that I’ve been eating since I was eating solid food. In my house we call it “Daddy Bread” because my dad is an expert at it. I’m getting pretty good at it too at this point.

This is why we need a big kitchen. I bake, he brews (I help), I will eventually get into canning and other preserving methods. We need a kitchen we can acutually do stuff in.