meet the parents

So the first time I met L.’s family, I think they asked me three questions between all of them. (Not an exaggeration, by the way. I think it was: where are you from, what do you do, how did you meet L.) They are conservative, reticent people, but good and nice people all around. The lack of third degree was fine by me, anyway, since meeting my significant other’s parents, siblings, etc really brings out the social anxiety in me. (As if it’s ever far beneath the surface, ahem.) Also, L. and I did the meet the family thing crazy fast: we had not been dating very long when he was planning to go to Boise for a long-scheduled visit, and on a very last minute impulse, I came along. He sprung it on his mom via text (it’s debatable whether she even knew I existed at that point) but they were all gracious enough to not make a big deal out of it.

Anyway, when we visited last weekend, everyone (including me) had loosened up a little. I talked more, they talked more, one of L.’s nieces actually came and gave me a hug before leaving (which was really sweet, thank you, M.) Things went as smoothly as you can get a “seeing potential in-laws for the third time” to be. But this Friday, for July 4, we headed up to Soda Springs to hang out with a bevy of cousins and aunts and uncles, and one grandfather, for the day. And heaven help me, I needed all the introvert social skills I could muster to get through that day, as these people? Not reticent at all.

We got up at 4AM to be in Soda Springs around 8, and then headed to the (very small-town USA) parade, which was kind of awesome. It had farming floats, and multiple teams of cheerleaders/dancers/drill squad-ers, and trucks throwing candy, and more trucks throwing candy, and kids running to pick up candy, and a lot of flags. I wore red, white, and blue (it was subtle, but still, it counts), learned that you more you cheer for floats, the more candy they throw you, and that not all cheerleaders/dancers/drill squad-ers can dance and walk at the same time and will back up the parade. Good knowledge to have, obviously. I also learned how useful those years of researching Mormons really were in that the Mormon-speak didn’t faze me, even if I did have to bite my tongue a couple times. All that aside, L’s relatives are really lovely people and welcomed me with open arms. The drive home, however, occurred in blessed silence and it was the best ever.

weekend in Boise

This weekend, L. and I went up to Boise. L.’s nephew M. turned twelve on Friday, and we went out to Cracker Barrel to celebrate (birthday boy’s pick). The wait staff there was a little inexperienced, evidenced by one of them dropping a coke in my lap. (That’s about as cold and sticky and pleasurable as you would imagine.) One trip to the ladies’ room, and a wrung-out dress later, I was fine. The rest of the weekend was nice and uneventful, with lunch in the park on Saturday, a long walk on Sunday, plenty of reading time (I finished this book), and even some time for me to work. It was apparently also enough time to further traumatize the dog. Four car trips in one month? Not her thing.  Sorry, dog.

The cat, on the other hand, is fine, since we left her at home. She’s had the run of the house, she’s shedding like crazy, and since my allergies have been acting up, today I get to alternate between dissertation writing and de-cat-hairing the house. Yay me.

June travels

June 4, I embarked on a 13-day, 5-state journey. (That sounds very epic. I just mean I flew to a bunch of places and drove to others and just happened to cross state lines.)

First up was San Antonio, for the annual Mormon History Association conference. I had a really good time, with good people, interesting conversation, and just enough sleep. I even managed to visit the Alamo.

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Then came Boise, where L. turned 34 on Sunday and we celebrated with his family with breakfast, board games, brisket and brownies (and some stuff that didn’t start with a B, but why ruin the alliteration?).

Then came Reno, where my dad picked me up, and we drove to Lake Tahoe. After a couple days spent reading and hiking at Ed Z’berg Sugarpine Point State Park,

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we drove to the Bay Area, where museums, baseball games, coffee houses and book stores awaited us in San Francisco and Berkeley.

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this was at Blue Bottle Coffee, but could have been at Peets, Brewed Awakening, Strada, Cafe Borrone, or any other coffee house we stopped at.

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A’s vs Rangers. We were fairly confident the A’s would win, but that…turned out to be very untrue. We lost, 8-14.

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Father’s Day breakfast near Japan town in SF.

The visit was capped off by a drive to Monterey (with a stop in Salinas to see the National Steinbeck Center) and the Asilomar Conference Grounds, which my dad wanted to check out for a workshop he’s hosting next year. Beautiful.

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With my father’s nomadic leanings (and, ahem, perhaps my own), being in the same place at the same time is relatively rare. I’m always grateful when we get to spend time together, and this time was no exception. Thanks, dad, for a lovely trip.

let your geek flag fly

I found myself showcasing my inner nerd yesterday, when I left the house wearing my Wrinkle in Time t-shirt, toting my Strand book bag, holding my dissertation notes, to go discuss Mormon history over lunch with a friend, C.

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I only have the one Out of Print shirt, but I do have three Strand totes, one for every time I’ve been there. Visits to the Strand book store deserve commemoration.

But whatever. Like Pinterest tells me,

642537fea8e5bb868f8c9babb424a725Amen.

#MayAlphaZoo

Last month, L. participated in an art challenge: draw 26 animals, one for every letter of the alphabet, in 31 days. This is the result. (Click on the images to enlarge them, or go here to see them separately. Also, you can  see him speed paint the animals here, if you’re interested.)

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On average, they took him two hours, but there were also illustrations that had him at his computer until late at night. So late, in fact, that I went to bed alone. Which isn’t actually all that bad, all things considered. So much room for me to spread out! That ‘sacrifice’ aside, it was actually really fun to see L. in artistic mode. (Well, except for the part where he would nod and respond to whatever I said to him, but then have no recollection of our conversation afterward. Took me a while to catch on to that and save my comments for more opportune moments.)

It’s hard to say which one is my favorite, but I am very partial to the bear, the octopus, and the chipmunk. (And definitely not the tarantula. Sorry, me and spiders don’t go well together.) But my favorite might be the highland cattle, with a ladybug perched on his nose. Apparently I’m a fan of goofy cows.

to the library!

I turned in the keys to my office at the U on Friday. It was quite bittersweet–I have loved having that office.

ImageAnd although I’ll obviously miss the stipend and support that came with the fellowship most, I’m not kidding when I say how much I loved being able to request every single book in the library that struck my fancy to be delivered to my office, if I wanted to.

Anyway, when a Facebook friend asked where I would be going, now that my fellowship is at an end, my sister A. quipped, “to the library!” Which is totally true. As I have lackluster discipline at best (though the SelfControl app certainly has helped with that!), it’s probably a good idea to go work at the library every once in a while, instead of my house with its myriad distractions (netflix! dog! laundry! snacks!). And since I have the downtown public library, the university library, and the Church History Library to choose from (all within what, a three mile radius of my house?), A. was more right than she knew.

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This seemed appropriate in light of my last post.

smart car in the city

So, L. has a smart car. Do you know what happens when you drive a smart car in Salt Lake City? You get looked at lot. Complete strangers will glance over, look away, glance again, then nudge their neighbor, laugh, and point. SUVs and trucks will not like it one bit when you pass them on the highway. At gas stations, people will constantly ask you how your mileage is, or start talking about electric cars, or just do the point and laugh thing again. We also hear a lot of clown car jokes.

And although I’m a pretty good driver, I’m also an insecure driver, and it took me forever to learn that people weren’t staring at me because I was committing some horrendous traffic violation or something. Now, I just politely smile back, and enjoy parking in tiny spaces, like this one.

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Which is an appropriate segue into a video L. showed me the other day. It perfectly highlights the awesome ridiculousness of the car–and why common sense should prevail and the car should stay in the city.

Friday confessions

idea blatantly stolen from here.

Confession 1:

I don’t pay attention to music. Pandora is my friend because I only have to think of a single kind of music I like, and then it supplies me with a never-ending stream of noise that basically all sounds alike to me. There are definite exceptions, but I generally can’t tell you five minutes later what we listened to in the car on the way to work. Upside? There is very little music I really don’t like.

Confession 2:

I currently have almost $20 in library fees, because I for the life of me can’t remember to take books back on time now that I no longer pass the library on my way to work every day. Even if said taking books back only means giving them to L. so he can drop them in the drive-through book return on his way to work. I know.

Confession 3:

It takes me at least three tries to actually place my order when I shop online, and I am incapable of placing an order over thirty dollars without feeling anxious about spending money. Which is why I wear a lot of Old Navy. And also why I look forward to one day no longer being a grad student.

Confession 4:
At the same time, it terrifies me that I’m nearing the (relative) end of my PhD program and will have to compete with all those other brilliant job seekers out there. I read job ads and my first thought is always a paralyzing “No one’s going to hire me!” As much as I love academia, sometimes I think a different career would have been better for my mental health.

Confession 5:

I’m reading a book about the Nuremberg trials right now. Lest you think I always choose sophisticated and intelligent books, I made my way through this series first. While they are better than they sound, it is not by much. But hey, at least I’m reading, and keeping reality tv where it belongs: at the gym.

Cal confusion

The other day I was wearing my Nike Cal shirt at the gym. I noticed a guy kept looking at me, but since I had just been intimidated out of the circuit room by a bunch of dude bros, I just kind of ignored it. Later I was waiting in the lobby, and the same man came up to me and started talking, saying he’d done his undergrad at Berkeley and had I gone there too?

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Him: So did you go to Berkeley?
Me: Yeah, for a semester. I did my study abroad there.
Him: Huh? Well, I guess Berkeley qualifies as a foreign country…
Me: What?
Him: …
Me: Oh, no, I’m Dutch. It was an actual study abroad…
Him: Oh. Oh!

He was right about one thing, though–Utah and Berkeley could not be more different. Even if the phrase “only in _” applies to both.

on long distance

I think my family is more suited to long-distance living than others, given as we’ve been doing it for a while. It can make things a little complicated, to have my sister and I in the States, my mom and my other sister in the Netherlands, and a dad who flies back and forth between the two, but with Skype, Whatsapp, and frequent flyer miles, we make it work. It can make me kind of jealous, sometimes, when my friends take their family clans for granted, because I don’t have that and will likely not have that. But on a day-to-day basis, I think it’s a miracle my family has survived all that it has and come out as intact as it as, so who am I to complain if it takes some juggling of time zones?

This past weekend, though, I missed my family fiercely. Easter weekend always meant visiting my mom, eating sumptuous feasts, enjoying the sun in her yard, and other such low-key family togetherness. Easter has always been my mom’s holiday, while I associate Christmas much more with my dad. But this Easter weekend, I was stuck so many thousand miles away, and although I did make scones so we’d have some kind of special breakfast, it wasn’t the same and I will confess to crying a little bit that morning.

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I mean, look at all this food! Our breakfast of scones, bacon, and eggs seems paltry by comparison.

It’s something I’ve been working out over the past few months, as L. and I have gotten more serious: being with L., and imagining a happy future with him, means not forgetting about my Dutch side (as if that could happen–if I’m not paying attention and L. asks me something, I’m as likely to blurt out something in Dutch as I am in English) but kind of putting it on hold, if that makes sense. And as happy as I’ve been, it’s also been kind of a mourning process that there are some things I can’t share with L., because of language barriers or cultural differences or whatever.

This isn’t L.’s fault–he’s never been anything but appreciative of my Dutch side, and we already talked about the possibilities of moving to Europe for a while someday, and he listens to me talk about Europe with genuine interest. He practices the vowels in my name in an attempt to get them authentically right, texts me Dutch phrases with a little help of Google Translate, and tells me we can go to the Netherlands any time I want. So he’s doing everything right. It’s just the reality, that a future with L. most likely means  living an ocean away from my friends and family and a place that still very much feels like home. I expect it will get easier over time, even if it’s a bittersweet kind of process right now.

But in the meantime, I’m particularly grateful for Skype, as it got me a little closer to my other home.

And for F., A’s boyfriend, who captured this picture of my mom and my sister, skyping with me and obviously having fun while doing it. It makes me homesick and happy at the same time, which, all things considered, is not a bad place to be.