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.


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.

Josie the Dog

L. has two pets: Josie the Dog and Mara the Cat. I am not a cat person, and I’m even less a dog person. I’m allergic to both, and, although these particular two are kind of growing on me, I frankly don’t really see the use of pets. (My apologies to any animal-loving readers I might have–I can almost hear the cries of outrage over here.)

Anyway, it took Josie a really long time to understand that I too can open the back door for her to go run around in the backyard. I tried so many times to get her to come with me, but she’d make it as far as the kitchen and then just go back to wherever L. was, waiting for him to go with her. A couple weeks ago, though, I had grabbed one of L.’s hoodies, because I was cold, and she willingly went all the way to the back door with me. It felt like a major victory, which is a little sad and more than a little telling about the kind of day I’d had.

Josie the Dog

Josie, years ago. She’s older now, but the eyes are the same.

We’ve come to a bit of an understanding since then. L. still has to be the one to let Josie out in the morning (she’ll wait in front of whatever door he’s behind till he comes out), but sometimes she’ll come with me if I say “outside!” loud enough. And the other day, when I was sick, she came right up and put her head in my lap. L. says that’s what dogs do when they sense you’re not feeling well, and I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it was certainly adorable and I petted her for her trouble despite my allergies. I can’t quite get her to listen to me when I want her off the couch, and I came home to dog vomit on the carpet this afternoon, but hey, baby steps to dog appreciation here.

yes, yes you did

Now, I know that I’m not a typical student. I only remember not doing the reading once during the five years or so it took me to get my BA and MA–and I scrunched down in my seat in shame the whole time I was in that classroom. I hate missing classes, I never turn in anything late, and I’m still traumatized by the recent 8 out of 10 I got on an assignment. Short version? I’m an overachiever that is deathly afraid of failure. (But at least I’m aware of it, right?)

But as a teacher, the number one thing I hate is when students miss a class, don’t notify me beforehand, and then come in to ask me if they’ve missed anything important. Yes. Of course you did. What do you expect, I sit around designing course objectives and syllabi and readings just for fun? This especially irked me in Germany, since we weren’t getting paid for teaching (just gaining “valuable work experience,” insert eye roll here). Next time, I’m going to send them this poem, and hope they get the point. Or learn to ask their fellow students, not me. (Let’s keep expectations low, here.)

Did I Miss Anything?

Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people
on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren’t here

From Did I Miss Anything? Selected Poems 1973-1993, 1993
Harbour Publishing

Copyright 1993 Tom Wayman.
All rights reserved.


Meet L. He’s kind, funny, quirky, and loves IKEA as much as I do. (Not a mean feat.) We met online (thank you, OKCupid!), spent two weeks exchanging increasingly longer messages (with a combined total of 30,000 words) and after a series of epic dates, each one better than the last, we decided to make this a thing. We went Facebook official on Sunday (I know, I know, why is that even a thing?!), so I figured it was high time my blog readers met him.

Once I'd told my mom we were kind of a thing, she requested a picture. This was the result. (The middle one is my favorite, even if it is blurry.)

Once I’d told my mom we were kind of together, she requested a picture. This was the result. (The middle one is my favorite, even if it is blurry.)

Why I like him? He thinks my oddities are adorable, rather than weird, says my accent is lovely and surprising, loves that I talk like I write, and listens to me talk about Europe without getting bored. He banned his dog and cat from the furniture as soon as he found out I was allergic, is generous with his time and his money, and is just the right kind of ambitious to fuel my own passions. He’s an artist, but not a starving one, and combines creativity with an analytical mind that keeps on surprising me. He shares my snarky sense of humor, sings along with musicals in the car (and doesn’t mind that I’m way off-key), and, truth be told, my knees go kind of weak when he looks at me.

Our first kiss was in an IKEA parking lot and as odd as it may sound, it couldn’t have been more romantic. Here’s to us making plenty more memories in the time to come.

on silence and peanut butter

It’s been kind of quiet over here, mostly because I’m slammed with work. I sent in paper proposals for three conferences, expecting at least one rejection, but then I got accepted to do all three. Then there’s the talk I’m doing at the U in April,  plus that pesky dissertation, three fellowship/grant applications, Wednesday mornings at the Natural History Museum, and oh, that class I’m taking, so I’ve been scrambling to get everything done in a way that satisfies my overachiever soul. (Which does not include getting an 8 out of 10 on a simple class assignment, by the way. When I got that back, I folded it in half neatly and stuck it at the bottom of my bag, hoping to never see it again. The fold of shame.)

I’m been so busy that I haven’t even been keeping up with my shows, and instead of spreading them out over the week like I’m used to (Tuesday: HIMYM, Wednesday: NCIS and NCIS LA, Thursday: Criminal Minds, Friday: Big Bang Theory, Saturday: Hawaii Five-O) I’ve taken to binge-watching them all in one tv-packed night. (And yes, listing that out makes me realize I really need to get a life that does not revolve around CBS.com or Netflix.)

But you know, I’m still breathing, and I like the work I’m doing, so it’s not all bad. Also, I have a 48 oz jar of peanut butter sitting at my desk at work (I didn’t even know they came in that size before I went to Costco!), and I’ve decided writer’s block is a good enough excuse to sneak a spoonful. It consistently brightens up my day. I finally understand why my sister E. keeps a jar of frosting at her desk…I might have to start doing that next.


I’m giving up “I can’t” for Lent.

It probably doesn’t sound like much, if you’re not blessed with a perfectionist, neurotic personality and an incredible amount of insecurities, like me. But the truth is, I find myself saying “oh, I can’t” a lot, when a more accurate phrase would be, “I don’t know how,” or “I’m not very good at this yet,” or “I’m afraid to fail so I just won’t try.” I like being in my comfort zone, which is a kind of small space, when I think about it–especially when I think about the kick-ass things I am capable of when I put my mind to it (like going for that PhD, even when it meant I had to move to Germany for it, or applying for the Tanner fellowship, even if that meant moving again, and starting over, again, by myself, again). In many ways, I am an incredibly strong woman, so why do I limit myself so often with that “I can’t?”

So I suppose I’m giving up that comfort zone up for Lent. This is not a yes experiment, and you will not see me sky diving or switching careers or anything. It’s attempt to spend forty days not limiting myself–or at least not out of fear. It’s an attempt to figure out what I really mean when I say “I can’t”: I won’t? I don’t want to? I don’t know how to? I’m scared to try?

Rachel Held Evans has forty ideas for Lent over at her blog, and she suggests the following questions to ask yourself, including

2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? How do I address that issue over the next 40 days?

5. How do I want Lent 2014 to affect not only the next 40 days but also the next 40 years?

And when I think about it, well, getting rid of those self-imposed restrictions that limit how I see myself, and by extension, others around me, and even God, seems to fit the bill pretty well.

If you’re giving something up this year, tell me what in the comments. If you’re still looking for a practice, I’d recommend the post I linked to for some very accessible ideas!


I turned 27 on Saturday, March 1st. I spent it with L., a wonderful guy I’m dating, and whom I’ve been quiet about because it’s been going so well and I didn’t want to jinx it. On Friday, we drove down to Provo to see John Lithgow’s “Stories by Heart,” in which he mixed a PG Wodehouse and a Ring Lardner story with stories of his own childhood and was absolutely captivating for two hours. Thank you, E., for gifting me the tickets!

On Saturday, I got to sleep late, skype with my family (who, in three different skype conversations, all proceeded to sing me happy birthday because my family is adorable), bake a cake (Smitten Kitchen’s bittersweet chocolate and pear, in case you were wondering), and spend about two hours at the Sam Weller’s bookstore, combing every shelf to my heart’s content. L. bought me two (second-hand) books, Madeleine L’Engle’s And Both Were Young, and Zoe Ferraris’ Kingdom of Strangers, both authors I’ve read before and both books I didn’t know existed, so that was exciting.

On Sunday, I first went to church (and even went up when it was time for the birthday blessing/prayer, even though my introvert self resisted the idea of getting up in front of everyone), then met up with L. again, for a walk through Liberty Park in the sun and an afternoon spent at Beans and Brews, with a book, a muffin, and a soy hazelnut latte.


Yes, I have once again managed to find a guy that thinks reading together at a coffee place is a perfectly reasonable and wonderful way to spend an afternoon. I’m sure you see why I like him.

I have been swamped with papers to write and chapters to research and a bunch of other stuff to do, so it was absolutely lovely to take the weekend off. You know me, I like low-key birthdays, and this was about as low-key as it gets, and about as perfect.

good morning, good morning, good morning

A month or so ago, I met with one of the priests in my local church to discuss confirmation/reception into the Episcopal Church. I felt much better about my presumed heterodoxy after that meeting, and came away with a few book recommendations as well. She also mentioned the following poem to me. It’s lovely and especially fitting for a Monday morning in which I had to drag myself out of bed.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Hello, sun.

this and that, the ephemeral edition

–Remember back when I got word I had been granted the Tanner fellowship, and I was so excited about the library privileges and private office that I said I didn’t care they weren’t offering me health benefits? Well, my sister E. pointed out the other day that I may have jinxed myself then and there, as I have never had as many health-related issues as this year, nor sent as many claims to my insurance. Oops.

–I am definitely not Babble’s target audience, as I saw a post on what to wear for Valentine’s Day, and I only thought, wait, Valentine’s Day has a dress code? Why do I not know that?

–I tried out two new coffee places last weekend. With other people. (That deserves it’s own sentence, grammatically incorrect as it is.) Look at me, being all social and stuff! Also, dad, if you ever feel like coming back to Salt Lake, I now know an abundance of places to go for coffee. (That should tempt him.)

–Sunday morning, in church, the priest offered a lovely homily on breaking down the walls that make for an us-vs-them mentality, and gave a shout out for economic and marriage equality in the process. I’m generally not very good at actually listening to the sermon, but the Episcopalian homilies are so nice and short even my attention span can handle it. (That’s saying a lot. The ‘hey look, a squirrel’ thing is very applicable to me.)

–The snow has melted here, and the weather is lovely and mild, and I’m using my bike again instead of relying solely on Trax. I’m knocking on wood here, as it’s only February and people have been warning me it can snow till unbelievably late in the year here, but it’s nice while it lasts.

–Tomorrow I’m indulging my inner nerd and going to see the Utah Symphony play at Abravanel Hall. Why? Because the concert is called The Magic of Harry Potter and there’s no way I’m going to miss that.