merge.jpg"Come here!" Exclaims Chandler as he grabs Monica's hand and pulls her to the entrance of their bedroom. "I have another great idea!"

In this episode (a classic) the two best friends have fallen in love and have decided to move in together (setting aside my personal aversion to the idea of "shacking up"... ). And here they have reached a pivotal moment in the new phase of their relationship: combining themselves. In fact, just moments before, Chandler has triumphantly been a witness to Monica's compromise to allow his favorite, beat up lounge chair into her OCD-level perfect living room.

Successful relationships are all about compromise. I, a proud member of what I consider to be a very successful, blossoming relationship, have learned a lot about the concept of giving and receiving to achieve balance. That's no secret really. Anyone enters our house and can see the fruits of our labors of love, catering to each other, bargaining for the sake of peace. Examples?

On our bookshelves one can find the essence of each of us mixed together. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson leans leftward onto Hacking Windows 2000; Nabakov's Lolita props up The Eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis with the help of Yosemite Valley Free Climbs; The Far Side Anniversary Collection is at the bottom of a stack that includes Fredrick Douglass' Slave Narrative and Stranger In a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Our library has boomed and become more ecclectic simply by marriage.

It's the same with our art. Jon's fractals flank the walls behind our bed. Those face a wall graced by a sweet Norman Rockwell print of an engaged couple filling out their marriage license, circa 1950. Our giant Disney attraction posters brighten the loft, and downstairs a lovely portrait done of us on our wedding day by Jon's mom is displayed above our fireplace. Vintage Coca-Cola signs adorn the kitchen, but Escher's startling, confusing works in black and white are scattered throughout the house.

And speaking of black and white, the decor of our home in general is a perfect example of our fusion. Jon, when I met him, was all but anti-color. Not that you'd have known it as he pulled up in his bright red Jetta. That was a phase apparently. It's like pulling teeth to get the boy to wear clothes that aren't a shade of gray, black or blue. I, on the other end of the spectrum, love vibrant color! Red is my favorite, obviously. So when we set about decorating our home, compromise set it big time! I gave in on the "blue towels" in our bathroom as long as our kitchen could be a cheery, cherry red. He bargained for his black couches by offering me the guest room to decorate as brightly as I wanted to (here I will admit that between the periwinkle and the teddy bears, color and I ran amuck).

We meet in the middle. The movies we watch are almost all my choices. Jon is very tolerant of my love of the classics. Tonight we watched "Dear Ruth", a darling romantic comedy about two people who allegedly met through the mail during the war... too much can be given away even in a brief synopsis. Not that anyone is planning to hunt this treasure of a movie down... but it IS worth it. Anyway, he bears and often ends up enjoying my movies. But I truly can't stand his choice of TV. The Simpsons? Really? Occasionally I'd cave and sit for forty minutes of an interesting History Channel production on the building of the Alaska Highway or the inner workings of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, though. That counts.

One of the most amazing ways we've learned to compromise, though, can be found in our travels. Disneyland is the perfect place for both of us, meeting all the needs of our curiosity, inner-children and romantic dreams. But not all our destinations are like that. We both love to camp, though Jon prefers being as far from the next living soul as possible and I prefer the security of an organize camp ground (electricity, plumbing, drinking water, fire pits and neighbors). We both love seeing nature's beauty. I, however, would rather walk 20 flat miles in a secluded valley, while Jon's primary urge to conquer the highest mountains and navigate the steepest trails.

The treasure at the end of the rainbow is the same: a gorgeous lake or untouched miracle of a meadow. We sigh as one. So, when it comes time for a Yosemite trip, we give one day to Jon (let the trekking begin) and one day to me (reading under trees, exploring neat lodges, actually visiting the Visitor Centers). Our system has worked well so far.

Tonight I folded the laundry, something I do because I hate to clean the kitchen (and Jon cleans the kitchen because he hates to fold laundry). Every day we do a zillion different things, large and small, conscious and subconscious, important and trivial. In everything we do, though, we can find some fragment of compromise. It's the essential ingredient, holding a batter that would be too liquid otherwise together (not because I'm the one cooking, but because a relationship without mutual sacrifice and giving is an absolute mess).

Still holding Monica by the hand, Chandler spouts out his "great idea". "You know those big traffic signs that say things like 'Left Land Ends, Please Merge'?" His loving girlfriend gives a tentative nod. Where is he going with this? "Well, we could get one of those signs and put it up over our bed... because that's you and me!" She's confused; he's elated. Joyfully he cries out, "MERGE!"

Although Monica hits the punchline dead on with an equally enthusiastic and animated, "NO!", I think her reply is unrealistic, shortsighted. If Jon wanted to put a giant, ugly, yellow road sign above our bed, I'd probably agree to it. Of course he'd have to let me put that yellow and white flowered quilt and matching decorative pillows on our bed...

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go_jon.jpgA long, long time ago Jon took me to a warehouse in sunnyvale, an unassuming spot. We parked in an all-but-abandoned parking lot and made our way to the front of the building. I can always tell when Jon is about to surprise me (his eyes sparkle and his dimples show when he fights back the urge to smile). That day, the reason for our stopping, was a surprise. But, as we'd only been dating for a month at the time, I was tentative as we approached.

Inside was a giant, dusty space crowded with mazes of boxes and shelves that stretched to the 20-foot ceiling. The man who greeted us was also giant and dusty, but he smiled when we entered and stretched out his hand. I don't remember his name or his face, but I do remember what he gave to us that day. Our Go board.

It was one of Jon's Valentine's Day presents to me. As the man pulled it from the tissue-lined box and unfolded it for our inspection, I smiled. The top was a warm, natural glossy brown; the black 19 x 19 grid was perfect and even. I ran my hand across the top and imagined how many games of Go we would play together.

You see, even after a mere month I knew that Jon was in for the long haul. The fact that we'd both picked up Go (an ancient Japanese board game boasting the simplest rules and the most impossible strategy) in the weeks before we met had been an unbelievable coincidence. Playing together made the addiction to the game complete.

So that day we invested in a gorgeous board, glass stones and a set of polished wood bowls... all that we needed. Jon wrote the man a check, shook his hand, and we hurried out to the car.

The rest of the day is gone from my memory specifically, but I know we played. And over the course of that year we played at my parents' house in front of the fireplace, at a friend's house as he coached our strategies, in parks, at coffee shops... but the best place to play, the most peaceful and lovely, was the beach. Valentine's Day you can find us at Stinson Beach north of Sausalito. We find a spot overlooking the ocean and we play. For three years now that tradition has ended with a victory for Jon.

After that first V-day loss for me, one who has never fancied losing at anything, I pouted. But it turned out to be a marvelous day anyway. As I stood looking out at the ocean, letting the whispering tide push the soreness of defeat from my mind, Jon, my boyfriend of six weeks, came up and wrapped his arms around me.

I love you.

It was the first time he said it to me, and I was overjoyed. No, I didn't say it back right then. But that's another story, one with much less of a point, because if I'd actually followed my heart and told Jon I loved him when I first felt that way... our first date would have been even more dramatic.

The following year, after we'd been engaged for a few months, after we'd begun planning for the wedding, after we'd moved ahead at a full-out sprint, we went back to Stinson for a rematch. In between we'd played some, but not nearly enough. Between school, work and wedding plans, taking up rock climbing and figuring out where to live and what to drive after we were married, Go had all but stopped. We decided to use Valentine's Day as the perfect excuse to jump start the competition.

Jon won again. What's a girl to do?

go_me.jpgThis summer we've played a lot of Go. Mostly because our friend Amy got a job as barrista at a local coffee shop (not Starbucks) and it gave us a terrific atmosphere in which to match wits. The stakes were raised after each game. Handicaps were raised and lowered accordingly. I won about as much as Jon did, by about as many stones, too.

But losing never gets any easier for either of us. At any point during the game, the person who is smiling believes they are winning. Of course, because we love each other, the winning player often attempt to cheer up his/her opponent. "I love you!" But to no avail. The loser is always a slightly sore loser, denying any and all positive comments from across the table. Sometimes the tables turn dramatically, massive amount of territory change hands, assumptions crumble and goals are dashed. More than once I have been the Phoenix, rising from what had seconds before appeared to be a series of terrible plays and ascending to victory. Just as fast, the roles of cheerleader and grumpy-face switch. It's amusing to watch from the outside.

I cannot begin to explain this game to anyone who has not seen it, heard of it, watched it for more than sixty seconds. This isn't about the tedious strategy, jargon, or history. What it all boils down to is that we learned this game together as we learned the game of life together. Thankfully we're better at balancing jobs and juggling use of the car and planning for our future than we are at the placing of black and white stones on a plain, grid-covered board. But at both we get better each time we takes a stab at playing.

After that first game, after Jon told me he loved me for the first time, I sat down and, as all poets do, allowed that love to inspire me. Ever since it has been in a frame on Jon's desk, reminding him that I admire his talent, and that I will always be there to keep him on his toes.

GO

on a blanket in the sand we match wits
my love and i
smiling strategy & playful plotting
i rush my plays ruthlessly
claiming territory quickly

he eases into battle
setting up tricks and traps for me

I
capture his
pieces

there is a rush of white on our board
the beginning is my hour of gold
i wink at him
so confident

and i place another piece

slowly I unravel
his traps are evident then

too late for me to set traps on my own
i defend

dark shadows stretch over the board
as the sun sinks in the west
snatching my victory
away

he
captures my
pieces

so I lose the game, gaze off towards the horizon
my competitive spirit
subdued

for the moment

he touches my hand
the afternoon is sweet
i live to win another day

-2003

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bath.jpgThis is a reminder to all my female friends, all ages, all occupations, all levels of friendship with me: TAKE BUBBLE BATHS! No, I'm not being too dramatic. This is serious. Women aren't taking enough bubble baths. Life moves at a frantic pace, but that's no reason to keep from pampering yourself. Think of it this way... it's efficient. Simultaneously you can be clean, smell good, relax, catch up on your reading, listen to good music, let fingernail polish dry.

I happen to know several people in dire need of a sumptuous bubble bath. These are the same people who claim not to have the time for such luxury. You're wrong. End of story. A bubble bath is a pleasure which no one should deny to themselves. So get ready, because I'm going to give you tips on the best reasons, times, and ways to treat yourself like a mermaid queen!

SET UP

-Wipe out the bottom of the bathtub. (This sounds high-maintainence, but the last thing you want to see while soaking in the tub after the bubbles have melted is a piece of skin or a non-head hair floating around you.)

-If you're a candle-loving girl, place some around the room. (You don't need a zillion... you don't have to seduce yourself or give yourself enough light to read by! Even one large, scented candle creates mood.)

-Plug in your music source. Laptop, Ipod, radio (if you're still living under that rock...)

-Gather all bubble bath materials. Bath salts, bath bombs, bath powder and bubble bath are inexpensive and come in a variety of scents and even colors! (In a pinch, dish soap will do the trick, but it can tend to dry out your skin!)

-Roll up a towel to use as a pillow for your neck. If there's room, place it on the edge of the tub, otherwise place it in reaching distance so you can wedge it behind you when bath time comes.

-If you've really thought ahead you've washed and dried your favorite bath towel, so it smells delicious! (No? Just find a clean one and put it near by. No one likes to run naked around the house, dripping water and bubbles, hugging her slippery self while digging frantically for a towel!)

-Select reading material. More than enough of it. If your mood changes while bathing, you want a selection. (Crime and Punishment or Glamour?)

-Pin up your hair. All of it. (A bun is best because it leaves your neck clear to lay back in the tub. Fly-aways get wet and run chilly water down your neck/face at the worst moments!)

PREP THE BATH

-Run the water, HOT on full. If the hot water runs out, turn off the water and continue your setup process. After a few minutes you'll have more hot water to add anyway.

-As the water runs, make your bed with clean sheets. (Few things are worse than leaving a perfect bath and slipping between grungy sheets.)

-Go back and add your bath powder or bubbles! (Waiting until there is some water in the tub prevents slimy residue at the bottom of your bath.)

-Cut or file your nails. (The hot water can soften newly chopped nails.)

-Turn off the water. If it's too hot, don't add cold (why tempt fate?). Instead, take the time to light the candles and turn on your music.

-Music... Enya is cliche, Kenny G is old, Nora Jones is very sweet... I tend to take on the Under the Tuscan Sun soundtrack.

This whole process shouldn't take more than an hour and a half, including prep time. Once you master the art, like me, Master Audrey, you can multi-task and cut that time waaaaay down. But as for now, I'd recommend doing this before bed or on a Sunday afternoon when you have no evening plans. NEVER take a bath when you have parameters on your time. Sleep comes easier when your body temperature is a little higher, your blood pressure is a little lower, your eyelids are heavy from the heat... and you smell like a dream.

Now get in! Read. Think. Relax.

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red_box.jpgSo I Googled the word "red". Bored? I was, too. Anyway, I googled my favorite color in text form... and what came back was a surprisingly long list of different things. What surprised me more, however, was how many I'd heard of/utilized at some point in my life. Confused? Let me help you.

A few of the top results were:

Red Hat- Open source computer code, linux based (if this sounds even remotely correct or intelligent, thank the hot techy guy I married).

American Red Cross- Thrice I have given them some of my blood.

Red Herring- unsure

Red Meat- some bizarre comic strip site apparently

Red vs. Blue- funny compilations of graphics, music, dialog and music that utilize scenes and characters from the X-box game Halo

Red Lobster- seafood restaurant that I, for some reason, equate with Sizzler (not necessarily a good thing), and for about six years now I've had a gift card to the place in my wallet. jon is not a fan.

Red Dwarf- a comedy show? not interested.

Red State- I'm a red state girl living in a blue state world

The Red Green Show- Dry humor, weird skits, old guy with a husky voice who picks on a wimpy guy with some kind of accordion device... and yet my family always enjoyed it

Red Dragon- Scary sequel to Silence of the... can't even finish that sentence without cringing

Red Planet- Crappy movie about Mars

Red Robin- Yummy fries, great banana milkshakes

Red Eye- Scary movie that Jon and I saw on Saturday. Ruined the name Cillian (pronounced kill-ian... which became ironic as we watched the film). Good, but slashy ending.

Clifford the Big Red Dog- awwwwwwwww... need I say more?

The Red Ferret Journal- "tantalisingly tasteful, tacky and taut tech trivia"... don't make me say more.

Red 2000- A guide to Spain. (What?)

Red Ribbon- HIV/AIDS awareness headquarters (nothing funny to add because so little I ever do is in bad taste)

On that note I will end this extremely pointless entry. You see, I felt this site was turning into more of a journal than I had originally intended. And, on top of that, I really wanted to write at least two nights in a row. So, after a relaxing evening dining with my husband and my friend, Cindy, at an unassuming restaurant in downtown SJ (yummy pasta!)... I had to think of something. Forgive my ramblings. Be glad I didn't supply links to some of these sites. Who knows where that would have led, right? Tomorrow I'll try to have something more purposeful worked up. Until then... those of us who are about to sleep salute you.

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streetlamp.jpgWe're walking, arm in arm, down a street we're proud to call our own. I'm smiling because our individual strides become like one so easily. Off to our left our gray shadows lope along with us, grazing the bushes and fences on our street. The sun is just low enough to hide behind the houses on our right, and he plays peek-a-boo with us between the roofs and chimneys, blinking brightly every few steps. We're thankful for the breeze that plays with my hair.

Jon smiles at me. He's thinking about how nice it is to have a friend, a love, a gal like me. And my thoughts echo his. Autumn is coming, gently pushing at Summer, easing in around evening time to practice being cool, comforting and lovely.

Jon has his new camera in hand, my anniversary present to him. He's snapping pictures of the flowers, the street lights, the neighbors' cats... and me. I smile. He runs around me in a circle, zooming and clicking, playing with the settings on his new toy.

swinging.jpgWe're coming up to a park where children are playing. Their laughter reminds me of my own childhood, and I look for the swings. No one has claimed them, amazingly. I simply can't control myself, and I skip across the playground to the swingset. Swinging is glorious. Taking my feet up off the ground I feel a thrill. Freedom. I close my eyes and swoop up in a smooth arc into the air, then comes the free, sloping fall. Jon kneels somewhere out in front of me and snaps a few more pictures. Obligingly give him my biggest smile, tossing my hair back and gazing flirtaciously into the lens. My photographer is enjoying his newfound hobby.

Soon we're walking again, turning left and wandering down the warm, bright streets of our neighborhood. A dog waddles up, a malamute mix with alarming white-blue eyes, but his wagging tail puts me at ease. He whines slightly and licks my hand. I miss my own dog so much sometimes. Jon knows, and he takes a firm, sympathetic hold on my arm and navigates me away from the reminder of my Scout.

me_at_night.jpgSomewhere tucked within the friendly neighborhood is a charming square of grass, large enough for children to play tag or to entertain a party, complete with a gazebo graced with lilacs, gracefully curved park benches, pretty street lamps that flicker on as we pass through. We pause to sit, and our seamless conversation about paintings and friends and history stops all of a sudden. The crickets have begun to sing, to each other or to us, we don't know. But their crisp voices herald the night. We enjoy their song together on the park bench.

I take a few pictures of Jon, who objects, saying I am too pretty to be taking the pictures. We laugh, and I hand the camera over again.

jon_at_night.jpgAfter a while we stand and move on, down the street and back towards home. Jon keeps tossing glances over his shoulder, searching for the moon. It makes me think of Jimmy Stewart.

"What is it you want, Mary? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull her down."

That's love, and it's a wonderful love. But so is mine. He tells me that we're lucky. Why, I ask, though I agree heartily and have a long list of reasons on my own. Just look, he replies, at what we are able to do. He means that we can freely stroll down a street at nightfall, squandering our freetime and never doubting our motives for a second. Youth, love, intellect, ambition, faith... all ours to do with as we please. And he means that we can talk about everything to one another, best friends.

Our fingers lock together, and we're silent. Just the padding of our feet, mine bare, on the warm sidewalk. It occurs to me that this walk isn't about exercise, or meditation, or any particular destination. This is about nothing but togetherness. In the process of simply being together, of course, our blood pressure drops, our breathing is deep and soft, purposely filling our lungs with cool, sweet air. Everything is better, even the things that seemed perfect before our walk began.

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disney_love.jpgWe did it! The first year was a huge success, we celebrated our luck and talent, toasted the upcoming 365 days, spent four romantic days in the happiest place on earth... we had our second honeymoon. It was perfect.

On Saturday Jon's dad picked us up at the crack of dawn and drove us to Oakland. The flight was on time. We shared a poppyseed muffin. Heaven should be so great. Jon rented us a convertible... wheeeeeee! And there, at the end of the street, rising from the overcrowded Southern California horizon, was our place.

Magic. Some do not share our enthusiasm for what they term to be a "theme park" or a "kids' place". Let me just say that nothing in this world is more romantic than a summer night stroll down Main Street with fireworks exploding brilliantly over the castle... with the one you love.

Jon and I took a tour on Monday afternoon, "A Walk in Walt's Footsteps". Learning about a man who had big dreams when the world had forgotten how to dream at all, about his wife who stood by his side long before there was any hint of success, we had a glimpse into the inspiration behind our favorite place in the world. Disneyland was built because of, by and for love.

Our anniversary dinner was at the Blue Bayou, we got all dressed up. And over the entree we remembered our wedding day. But then we remembered our first year together. That was the important part. Marriage, year one, amateurs take the cake!

Every day we did something new, riding the omnibus down Main Street, riding the carosel. Year two began on a high note... the note that begins "When You Wish Upon a Star".

The four day vacation was just what we needed. This summer has rushed by us in a flurry of boiling hot days, friends stopping by and staying for a while, work, play, games of Go at the coffee shop, movies, shopping trips, early wake-up calls, rock climbing, bills, trips to the grocery store, dinners with the folks, no cable, travel, reading in the evenings, being very happily married. Taking a break to breathe in the churro-scented air of Disneyland... that's what we got.

So we're back, up at 6:30 in the morning to get to work by 8:00, to work until 5:00, to have fun until 10:00, to sleep until 6:30. The grind. But there's something about the kiss on the nose that wakes me in the morning, or the darling emails we exchange while at work, or the long talks we have about our hours away from each other, that make the grind totally and completely worth it.

At home we learned that the first anniversary is the "Paper Anniversary". How do we know? Well, the Ya-Yas each sent a sweet card (Cindy's was pretty; Amy's was adorned with monkeys.), and enclosed in each was a piece of paper. Binder paper, one-ply toilet paper... both useful gifts. Thankfully my mom let the joke opportunities go by and, instead, gave us a beautiful set of stationary. So thank you to all for the gifts and the kind thoughts, the cards and the encouragement. We're better off because of you guys.

Next year it's cotton! Bring the Q-tips on.

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anne_gilbert.jpgAs a little girl, I fell desperately in love with Gilbert Blythe. If any of you is asking who Gilbert Blythe is, stop reading. You make me sad.

I, after all, was so like Anne. We were indeed kindred spirits. Secretly I wondered if I should have been born with red hair. Many was the time I wished for a slate to crack over a boy's head (and many was the boy who needed a slate-cracking badly!).

Reading was the perfect pasttime; I'd lose myself in the worlds crafted by talented writers. If only someone I knew had been the owner of a row boat... I undoubtedly would have transformed myself into the Lady of Shalot (today Tennyson remains to be one of my favorites). Anne inspired me to teach English (I'd tame those Pringle girls, sure enough), to write (if only my bosom friend would steal one of my pieces and send it to be published behind my back!), to set my standards high.

And Anne had her Gilbert. He was, naturally, handsome, but also smart (as smart as Anne... wonderful competition) and funny. Watching Gilbert grow, in the books and in the movies, how could any girl in her right mind not fall head over heels in love? I was no exception. When it came time to consider the boys around me, Gilbert was my standard. Prince Charming had his strong points, but such perfection was boring to me. Besides, I was no damsel in distress. I was a strong, competent young woman with a destiny of her own. What I wanted was a man who would keep me on my toes, self-assured and intriguing, strong... yes, I was looking for my Gil.

I found him.

One day, in church, my Gilbert strolled in. I remember him because he argued with me, a stranger, about God and faith. He wasn't afraid of me, he was attracted to my outgoing personality. He wanted me to question assumptions. I thought he was so handsome, wearing his red Stanford sweatshirt and blue jeans, his dark blond hair curling around his temples. And those big blue eyes!

Yes, that was the day I met Jonathan. Maybe it fate, maybe a coincidence, maybe an accident. But any way you slice it, the moment was perfect. Jon says he fell in love with me then, long before we even began to get to know one another. *sigh*

We've been married a year. Our vows are still fresh, and we plan to keep them that way, recalling our emotions and our commitment. Occasionally the slate idea still pops into my head. But Jonathan is the man I'd cross a war-torn country for; he's the one I'd write about; he's the one I'll stand beside for the rest of our lives.

He'll always be my Gil.

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cute_bunny.jpgIn less than a week Jon and I will have been married for one year. That's not very long. And it flew by! But we've amassed more information, more insight, more experience in that short time than in any and all times before. I've been a wife for twelve months. While few may be willing to bow to my authority as an all-wise wife, I'd much rather take this opportunity to share my experience rather than my intellect anyway. I, too, have much to learn, grasshopper. So what makes up the first year of our marriage?

In my head I can boil that down into:

-the number of dinners we've eaten together
-the number of breakfasts we've had in bed
-the countless tons of laundry
-the To Do lists we wrote but never quite finished
-the holidays we divided between in-laws
-the gifts we had to sneak and save to purchase as surprises
-the handful of big fights
-the gazillions of happy make-ups
-the number of movies we had to compromise on before we'd see them
-the hours spent on the phone with one another when we were separated by work or school
-the thousands of words I put down in essays and made Jon read before I turned them in
-the number of nightmares I awoke from and was comforted by Jon's presence beside me
-the teensy considerate things I'd think of to do for him
-the many flowers he brought me just because I was so pretty or sweet
-the number of misgivings
-the number of forgivings
-the inumerable jokes we've told
-the number of hours we've spent laughing together over those jokes or at nothing in particular
-the times I've been sick and he's cared for me
-the very few times he's been sick and I've been a good nurse
-the number of pizzas we've ordered because I can't cook
-the number of pizzas we haven't ordered because Jon wants me to eat healthier
-the patience and respect we've learned simply by sharing the space in our home
-the presence of mind I've learned from him
-the breadth of our smiles when we're together
-the amount of encouragement we've extended to each other
-the low blows we've dealt and the buttons we've learned just how to push
-the number of realities we've been hit with
-the different ways we learned from mistakes and leaned on each other to stand up and live again
-the joys we shared at all hours of the day or night
-the secrets we have only with one another
-the dreams we've built and will build and are building
-the way we've maintained an outright belief in adventure and ultimately happy endings

In my short lifetime I've seen good men stumble and hurt the people around them. I've seen good women turn bitter and drive those good men away. I've seen marriages tumble and break on the concrete of our modern society. But I don't believe for one second that failure awaits my Jonathan and me. Certainly there's a chance for failure, but the adventure of life would be much less fun if there was no risk at all. I want our success to be a product of our hard work, our prayers, our guts and blood and sweat. There is no shame in making an effort.

For a book club at church I've been reading a work by a woman with whom I've failed to feel much of a connection. At every turn I've questioned her bias, her authority. Then today, during the exact chapter with which I was prepared to take the most issue, she spoke to me. Whether you believe in God or not (and I definitely do), marriages rise or fall because of the actions of the people who make them up. My job as a wife, as outlined in the bible, is a submissive one. My job as a woman, as outlined by the world, is an independent one. Which do I choose? Do I have to choose?

I believe I am here to help my husband. I can do that by honoring his decisions, making his life easier, catering to his needs. And I'm fortunate in that God blessed me with a man who understands that true love is all about service. Still, our relationship isn't perfectly harmonious. It may never be. But we're off on the right foot. What's more, I read something today in my book that made so much sense I'm ready to memorize it in order to put it into action in my own life:

God said that man needs a helper. The true woman celebrates this calling and becomes affirming rather than adversarial, compassionate rather than controlling, a partner rather than a protagonist. She becomes substantively rather than superficially submissive.

I have always believed I was the protagonist of my own story, the heroine, the leading lady. That's me. But now I'm "us". And the most amazing thing is that I'm more than okay with that. Jon is a wonderful man. He deserves my attention, my respect, a full 50% of my story. By relinquishing that control, affirming Jon's duty as a loving, leading husband, I may be able to conquer the role of wife.

Finally, I've realized that submission must be conquered. Especially today, submission is one of the hardest jobs to do for women. I believe it might well be more difficult than ascending to the top of a high-paid power career field, or juggling several jobs while attempting to raise children. Jon wants me to succeed as me alone, but he loves that I won't even think about establishing myself without him. It's entirely okay to revolve life around my husband. He, after all, wants to do the same for me.

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truffles.jpgAlthough I was recently told that "yummy!" is a juvenile expression, only used by teeny boppers who believe they're frozen in the 1950s, I am determined to bring the phrase back into vogue. After all, so many edible items in this world are too casual, home-style, cozy to be termed "delicious" or "scrumptious"! Think homemade bread, hot and squishy from the oven... or blueberry muffins... or strawberry jell-o. Again, I am a fan of "yummy!", and I refuse to have my vocabulary dictated by the times. Friends, as of now, with the upcoming list of my favorite treat-type foods (not the most original blog idea... sort of a first date convo starter, though), "yummy!" is back.

Okay, let's get the Hostess Cupcakes out of the way. We've covered that one.

But a sentimental favorite of mine, very similar to the cupcakes (probably made from the same material minus the brown dye) are Zingers. Just the thought of the slightly chewy yellow-flavored, solid sugar frosting makes me tear up a little. I remember one road trip with my dad and my brother, Ted. We'd taken the train to Grandma's house (not making it up), and there we bought her maroon Buick La Sabre (where the cliche ends) and drove home via Mt. Rushmore, Badlands and Yellowstone. I have a point. In one bargain motel we stayed in during the drive West, the three of us were very hungry in the middle of the night. Nothing left in the cooler (on trips like this we usually lived exclusively on bologna sandwiches, pretzels and juice), we switched to plan B: a midnight excursion to the nearby 7-11. Dad returned heroically bearing a box of Zingers... which we polished off in 15 minutes. Ahhhh... to be young again. Good memories.

Wow, that was a lot of time on Zingers. Next up... Junior Mints. Don't argue with me. They're like mini York peppermint patties. And they're perfect for the movie theater. Though the last four mints wind up wedged at the bottom of the box, and you spend several minutes straining desperately, twisting your index finger every which way, hoping to dislodge them. But that's my point. They are worth even that effort. Small, sweet, refreshing.

My next favorite is also a horrible choice of food for any woman over the age of eighteen. Cheese croissants... especially from Donut Wheel (Ben, if you read this... note the reverence). Flaky croissant on the outside, some indistinguishable combo of cream cheese, sugar and... come to think of it, I don't know what that mixture really is. Better not to think about it. Ignorance is tasty! (Errr... YUMMY!)

I suppose I have to mention 3 Musketeers... even though they are a rather nondescript candy, actually. But they aren't that bad for you. And that's a major factor now that my hips vary in width in direct relation to whatever I had for dessert.

Anything with filling is usually a keeper for me. Lemon filled donuts, McDonald's apple pies, Home Run chocolate pies (I believe those are or were my brother, Curtis', favorite, too. He'd eat them by the truck full when we were younger). Caramello candy bars and the boysenberry truffles we always pick up in Glacier National Park. The definition of YUMMY!

This entry wouldn't be complete without a tribute to See's. Jon isn't with me on this (one of the few major disparities in our relationship), but I looooooooooove See's Candy. Whenever I went to work with my mom when I was a little girl (on National Mother Takes Daughter to Work Day... now I go with her every other day... but the tradition has stopped), we'd make a lunchtime pit stop at the See's Candy across the street from her office in Redwood City. (Which we now refer to as "HH". We don't like her old office. Use your imagination.) It remains to be a fond memory and an easy way to gain a quarter pound on a Tuesday afternoon. Lemon truffles are my biggest weakness.

Honestly, I could go on. But my mouth is watering, as I'm sure yours is, too. Sleep calls. May your next meal be completed with a very YUMMY snack... and may you never be too proud to say the Y-word.

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movie-reel.jpgLadies and gentlemen... let's play NAME THAT MOVIE! I provide the quote, you get all excited... jump up and down... "I know this one! It's right on the tip of my tongue!" And I'm sure you'll get a lot of them.

I promise not to stump you with my old movies... much... and yes, I'll supply the answers at the end. Don't you dare google! Have fun!

1)I hate you I hate the way you talk to me and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick -- it even makes me rhyme. I hate the way you're always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh ' even worse when you make me cry. I hate it that you're not around and the fact that you didn't call. But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you ' not even close, not even a little bit, not any at all.

2) Get off my plane!

3) Rule number one: I can't kill anybody. So don't ask. Rule number two: I can't make anybody fall in love with anybody else. (smack) You little puddum there. Rule number three! I can't bring the people back from the dead. It's not a pretty picture, I don't like doing it! Other than that, you got it.

4) Of course! From a group of Libyan nationalists. They wanted me to build them a bomb, so I took their plutonium and instead gave them a shoddy bomb casing filled with used pinball machine parts!

5) I won't kill you... but I don't have to save you.

6) I think it's T double-E double-R double-R double-I double-F double-I double-C, C, C.

7) Now what we have here is failure to communicate.

8) Sucking all the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone.

9) Why am I calling you by your first names? I don't even know you. I still call my boss "Mister", and I've been working for him for seven years, but all of a sudden I walk in here and I'm calling you Rick and Sheila like we're in some kind of AA meeting. . .I don't want to be your buddy, Rick. I just want some breakfast.

10) If you build what, who will come?

11) The best thing about visiting the President is the food! Now, since it was all free, and I wasn't hungry but thirsty, I must've drank me fifteen Dr. Peppers.

12) No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.

13) What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.

14) I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be there in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be there in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they built - I'll be there, too.

15) Y'know, this was supposed to be my weekend off, but noooo. You got me out here, draggin' your heavy ass, through the burnin' desert, with your dreadlocks sticking out the back of my parachute. You gotta come down here with an attitude, actin' all big and bad... and what the hell is that smell? (kicks alien) I could've been at a barbecue! ...but I ain't mad.

16) You wanna talk to God? (reaching for his revolver) Let's go see him together; I've got nothing better to do.

17) I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...

18) You're gonna need a bigger boat.

19) God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs...

20) Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.

21) Here it goes: I sped, I followed too closely, I ran a stop sign, I almost hit a Chevy, I sped some more, I failed to yield at a crosswalk, I changed lanes in an intersection, I changed lanes without signaling while running a red light, and speeding!

22) You know, nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance.

23) I only lied about being a thief.

24) Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

25) But why is the rum gone?

26) Yeah. Veg out. Be still like vegetables. Lay like broccoli.

27) You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is, "Never get involved in a land war in Asia", but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line"!

28) Every man's ready for marriage when the right girl comes along, and Lisa Fremont is the right girl for any man with half a brain who can get one eye open.

29) You're killing me, Smalls!

30) He better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb.

31) You mighta seen a house fly, maybe even a superfly, but you ain't never seen a donkey fly.

32) Don't ever risk your life for an asset. If it comes down to you or them... send flowers.

33) The defense department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.

34) I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!

35) Do you know what the most suprising thing about divorce is? -It doesn't actually kill you, like a bullet to the heart, or a head-on car wreck. It should. When... someone you've promised to cherish... "'til death do you part"... says they never loved you... it should kill you instantly. You shouldn't have to wake up day after day after that trying to understand how in the world you didn't know.

36) Well, if you must know, it was because he was very jealous, and I had these days of the week underpants.

37) This certainly is a big, round room...

38) Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide GORILLA? IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TELLING ME?

39) Are you telling me that my children have been running around in nothing but these old drapes?!

40) And by the way, there's a name for you ladies. But it isn't used in high society... outside of a kennel.

41) What would you do with a brain if you had one?

42) It's light beer, and she's gonna throw it up anyway!

43) I could swear that she was padded from her shoulders to her heels, but then she started dancing and her dancing made me feel like every single thing she had was absolutely real!

44) Daddy, I met a man in Rome! And he's wonderful and brilliant and we're getting maaaaaarrieeeeed!

45) Oh Jerry, let's not ask for the moon. We still have the stars!

46) What kind of a name is Bug? What's his last name? Spray?

47) And, Daddy, he took my boot!

48) Mathematicians won the war; mathematicians broke the Japanese codes and built the A-bomb.

49) Here's looking at you, kid.

50) Let me get this straight. You know her; she knows you; but she wants to eat him... and everybody's okay with this? Did I miss something?!

ANSWERS BELOW:


1) 10 Things I Hate About You
2) Airforce One
3) Aladdin
4) Back to the Future (the good one)
5) Batman Begins
6) Charlotte's Web
7) Cool Hand Luke
8) Dead Poet's Society
9) Falling Down
10) Field of Dreams
11) Forrest Gump
12) Gone With the Wind
13) Groundhog Day
14) Grapes of Wrath
15) Independence Day
16) Indiana Jones (the good one)
17) It's a Wonderful Life
18) Jaws
19) Jurassic Park
20) Jurassic Park
21) Liar, Liar
22) The Mummy
23) Ocean's Eleven
24) Patton
25) Pirates of the Carribean
26) Pretty Woman
27) The Princess Bride
28) Rear Window
29) The Sandlot
30) Saving Private Ryan
31) Shrek (the good one)
32) Spy Game
33) Top Gun
34) True Grit
35) Under the Tuscan Sun
36) When Harry Met Sally
37) X-Men
38) Young Frankenstein
39) Sound of Music
40) The Women
41) The Wizard of Oz
42) Miss Congeniality
43) Oklahoma!
44) Father of the Bride (the new one)
45) Now, Voyager
46) Uncle Buck
47) Tarzan
48) A Beautiful Mind
49) Casablanca
50) Lion King


Feel free to post your score!

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edelweiss.jpgIn German the name of the flower translates directly to "noble and white". Historically the blossom has been touted as a love charm, proof of bravery and even as medicine to heal wounds and ward off evil. Edelweiss has long been the national flower Switzerland, and during WWI it was used as the symbol of the alpine troops in both Austria and Germany.

How lovely.

I marvel at the tiny white flowers, bravely springing from the steep, sharp crags. And, of course, I always associate them with the hopeful, sincere song the Captain sings in The Sound of Music. One of my favorites...

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me

Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever

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matt.jpgSummer makes me think of many things, but most of all it makes me think of my best friend, Matt. We met in fourth grade, sitting across from each other in Mrs. Bauhaus' class, coloring a generic black and white outline of a sun. I, the teacher's pet, was filling in the white space with a gloriously soft yellow. Staying inside the lines, of course. I was concentrating, the tip of my tongue pressing diligently against my upper left canine tooth (as it continues to do today whenever I take anything really seriously).

"My sun is a lunatic!"

We knew each other already, of course, but just then, as he held up his sun, complete with crazy green hair and bloodshot eyes, I fell in love. It sounds crazy (like the sun), but it's true.

Matthew and I became best friends. Everything was about running and hiding and seeking and finding and playing and laughing and enjoying our youth. Being ten years old seems so far away. But when I'm with Matt I feel my heart start skipping like I'm that young again. Simple, that was our friendship.

Today I had a terrific memory. Freshly cut grass clung to my wet toes. Matt and I skipped through the sprinklers, our white shirts stretched against our skin. Youth pushed us in and out of the white, wonderful stinging spray. We were beautiful. I spun with my hands straight out, letting the droplets of silver swirl off of my fingertips in concentric circles.

At the time I thought Matt looked exactly like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. He pretended to hate it, teasing me right back. But he loved me. Probably because I didn't scream and run when I saw a bug, like the other girls did. Or maybe it was because I could beat him in a race, or in tetherball. We stuck together.

Of course, I was nursing a baby crush on the kid. Ten years old though I was, I knew the difference between boys and girls. I also knew that life wouldn't be the same without him. But I didn't tell him what I felt; I didn't even know how to say it aloud. Little did I know that he felt the same way about me.

Over the years we did everything. Tennis, swimming, baseball... we watched movies, took long walks, played long uneventful games of Truth or Dare.

And yes, he was my first kiss. Our freshman year of high school we went to see Lost In Space at the theater that was down the street from where we lived. Afterwards he walked me home, something he always did. The evening fell lightly over the trees, darkening Joaquin Murieta (our street). Beneath a street lamp, in the grey-yellow circle of light, we stopped. A perfect first kiss that tasted like rootbeer, that was mine.

But we were always just friends, perfect friends. We didn't have issues (although he never liked anyone I dated, and vice versa... shocker!). Even after I moved to Livermore, after he was no longer the boy next door, we remained close. He even wrote me letters! What a good guy.

On my sixteenth birthday, the day after junior prom, Matt showed up at my house for my party. I was wearing my red prom dress to church that morning, so when I swung the front door open to greet my buddy... his jaw dropped. It was the first time he'd ever seen me in a dress! I don't mind saying that he liked what he saw. But to this day he still manages to picture me in a pony tail, shorts and sneakers, knees scratched and fingernails dirty.

When I met Jon, Matt knew something was different. He made an effort to meet Jon and to get to know him. I've never been so proud. Even though there had always been a hope in the back of both our hearts, in the minds of people we knew, that we two would have a future together... Jonathan Camp had taken my heart completely. He was my future. And Matt was wonderful about the whole thing.

Matt now lives in Arizona, working hard and being near his Mom's family makes him happy. But he misses California and, of course, me. He did make it out for my wedding last year, which meant the world to me. And he made a valiant attempt to catch the garter... but our pal Jeremy kept his record alive and snagged it before Matt could get close. How many is that now, Jeremy?

After the wedding I said goodbye to so many people, but I'll never forget saying it to Matt. He was so proud of me. He loved me so much. When we hugged, he squeezed me close like a brother would do to his sister. Eleven years of friendship had seen us sweep through all the stages, braving shadows and rising to the right moments. That memory, just before I grabbed my husband's hand and drove off into our future... the one I shared with my best friend, is precious to me.

Jonathan is truly my best friend now. No one knows me like my soul mate for life. But nothing will ever unravel or diminish the twelve years Matt and I have. And one of the amazing things about Jon is that he appreciates that. Friendship is golden, and we cherish the relationships we forged before we met each other. Matt, like me, admires Jon for that and for many other things.

Today I called Matt to wish him a happy 23rd birthday. We talked for an hour. And in the end we both wished we could go back to the tree-lined avenue where we first met, to dance in the sprinklers, to sit in the back of his dad's parked pick-up (the orange one with the slightly rusted tailgate), to drink Dad's Rootbeer and skip pebbles down the street, to toss popcorn playfully at one another during a movie... to find that simple time.

Happy Birthday, Matthew Jonathan Carlisle Planer.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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