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This was supposed to be the tail end of my "2007 in Review" post, but I don't know if I will ever get that post written, and I definitely want to get this one written. 

Not exactly flying away to Paris on a moment's notice, but still exciting to me... )
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What happens to romantic relationships as they grow and mature. I often feel like precious little attention is paid to relationships (in the general sense, not the specific), after around the 1 year wedding anniversary or the 3-4 year dating anniversary. It's as if most people suddenly just stop talking about their relationships. Why is this, I wonder? I know that I myself find that lately I have precious little to say about my relationship... though I have not really understood why. I belong to a few relationship communities and I go to write an entry updating people on my relationship... I mean, how could I not want to update, I am overall so happy with it, have so much to brag about... yet I go to put pen to paper and find I have nothing to say. Huh? How did that happen? I have stuff to say, but as I go to say it, I notice it has really little to do with our relationship, and mostly to do with our life, the life we share... and only to do with our relationship in the sense that it is the life of two people in a relationship.

Today, an idea stuck me. I don't know if it has any merit really, but I think it is worth considering. When a relationship is new, it is a big part of a person's life... the joys, struggles, and milestones of the relationship naturally become the milestones, memorable instances, and even defining moments of the person's life. But then perhaps, after time has passed and patterns of relating have been established, the relationship becomes more of an integrated component of the person's life, rather than a new and unpredictable defining feature.

When it comes to more mature relationships, there is often talk about keeping things interesting, keeping things exciting. Yet I wonder, are these missing the point. Early in a relationship, patterns are being established, two people are learning to get along with one another, an incredible bond is being created essentially out of nothing. This is exciting, hopefully joyous, sometimes a struggle, and probably marked with many meaningful milestones along the way. Falling in love becomes a person's whole world, or near enough to it. Navigating all this is a popular topic for discussion, because it's difficult and there are always people out there trying to figure out how to do it right.

In contrast, a more mature relationship is very different--the patterns have been established, understanding increases intimacy but comes at the cost of the excitement created by the unknown and unpredictable. Hopefully there is still plenty of joy and love, and from time to time there will still be struggles--but the character is fundamentally changed because while the relationship may be altered an enhanced, it is no longer being created for the first time. I think that perhaps having a partner becomes more of the internal identity and less a thing of external interest... the relationship becomes yet another of many layers of life, it should be an important and enhancing aspect of how we each experience life, but I think perhaps something which simply cannot remain the sole focal point.

I think this is perhaps why so much of the advice for more mature relationships focuses so much suggesting to try new things, take time for hobbies, and so forth... because if a relationship is a way to experience life, it's only going to be fulfilling if the life itself is worth while. And I think perhaps also why so little is said about more mature relationships, because while a relationship may remain a very important and gratifying part of a person's life, it ceases to be the focal point once it is established. I think perhaps it is natural for the maturation of a romantic relationship to leave a void in a person's life that needs to be filled in a new way (as so many people eventually experience), but that maybe this void should not be interpreted as a sign that the relationship has ceased to serve it's function, or that love has departed. The caterpillar may be gone, and in going it may have created a void... but perhaps it would be best to enjoy and cherish the butterfly for what it is, rather than asking it to fulfill the exact same role as the caterpillar. Perhaps it's time for something other than a romantic relationship to fill that role most of the time, to be the primary source of excitement, change, growth, and challenge in life.

On titles

Apr. 21st, 2007 09:52 am
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I don't know if I've written about this before or not. So I will write about it now.

I've always found it weird to be called "Miss". It was weird to be referred to as "Miss" as "Miss Peter" as "Miss Mary" or any combination. Well, now it's weirder. If you were to ask me what title is appropriate for myself, I'd probably first ask not to be referred to by a title at all, but if one was to insist, "Miss" is certainly the title that sounds right. I mean, I am, after all, a young woman. And people who don't know me obviously do refer to me that way because I look like a "Miss". No objections there... a "Miss" is not a bad thing to look like... soon enough I'm sure I will wish I still looked like one! But now there is the new weirdness that actually "Miss" isn't even, strictly speaking, correct... now that I'm married. "Mrs", while correct, sounds even weirder. I know lots of women at any age are excited about being "Mrs" Hislastname, but I really wasn't one of them. Sure, I was excited to be "Mary" Hislastname, but the "Mrs" part never really occurred to me, probably because I'm just not "into" titles. Anyhow, I've been thinking about this from time to time, but more lately because we were recently visiting Chris and Newt, and their kids refer to us as "Mr. Josh" and "Miss Mary".

Now, certainly I have no objection to the children I normally see referring to me as "Miss Mary"... in fact, it wasn't until this morning that it crossed my mind that actually it's not correct. I don't think I will train my children to address adults using titles, but if a kid's parents do I wouldn't want to undermine it. And I certainly understand why they aren't asking them to call me "Mrs Mary" and refer to the other women who also regularly visit as "Miss Ariel" and "Miss Kristin"... at pre-school ages, trying to figure out what the difference is and why you refer to some adult women one way and some another would be awfully confusing, particularly when they are all Mommy and Daddy's age and all do clearly have partners but no children (I imagine it would be easier if all the "Mrs" were Grandma and Grandpa's age or had kids, and all the "Miss"es were Mommy and Daddy's age--but of course unless you are a teen mom, that's not gonna happen!). And "Ms" is hard enough for *adults* to pronounce correctly without turning it into "Miss", kids almost always turn it into "Miss" no matter how much they are coached on it... I mean, for all I know, "Ms" is what C & N are trying for.

But I do wonder... Did Chris and Newt name me "Miss Mary" because I'm young and therefore it felt natural without really thinking about it? Am I perhaps not the only one who has a stronger association between "Miss" and young-ness, rather than "Miss" and unmarried-ness? Do other people think this way?
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You know, it's odd that I first decided to get married almost 4 years and and I've now been married for almost 2 years, yet I still find myself struggling to understand what a marriage is, even just what it is to me personally.

Logic and my 5 senses tell me that marriage is a piece of paper on file at the court house in Hillsboro, Oregon, granting Josh and I certain fun legal privileges. Yet I have never, not for one moment since being married, believed that that is what a marriage is. But that has left me with a puzzle... if marriage is not the thing I can hold and my hand and order a certified copy of, what exactly is it? What is it made of? Where do you find it? How did it come into being?

I do know that marriage has had a profound impact on my very being, on my relationship to Josh, and on my relationship to the world. It has changed the way I see the world, and my place in it. It has fundamentally altered most of the other relationships I have ever had... some in small ways and some in large ways. It has changed what movies I cry at. It has changed how I think about life and especially about death. It has changed what I believe is possible, not only in a relationship between two lovers, but also in my relationships with other people. It has changed what I think about love. It has changed how and why I think about family. It has filled a hole in my life that I did not know existed. It is scary, yet at the same time wonderful, to have something I don't understand influencing and shaping my life so much. I feel like there are whole new places in my brain, new pathways and ways of thinking. It's like being out in the thunderstorm was yesterday... it's terrifying and it makes me grumble at the inconvenience of it all, yet my heart wants to sing with the power and the wonder of it, because it is just so incredible that I am inexplicably filled with joy just by being involved in it.

But I cannot help but wonder. How did this happen? And why? Is this a repeatable experiment? Or are we managing to repeat the successful results of others even though we are half-blind? And repeatability aside, I really want to know what the basis for the change is... and fundamentally, I want it to be something I can hold in my hand and say, "Look there, see that? That's what's behind this." But the thing is, I can't. Alternatively, I'd like to say that it is because I see myself as married now. The thing is, I saw myself as "practically married", "the same thing as married", "completely committed", "almost married", etc before we were married... and yet somehow "actually married" has been worlds different for me.

Something very profound happened that day, the last Saturday of Spring in the year two thousand and five at the Kinton Grange, before so many people who are important to me. And it bothers me that I have not been able to figure out exactly what. The LDS believe that when two people are married (in the temple as part of a special ceremony in a special room), their souls merge together giving them a common destiny in the eternal after life. I don't believe in their God, nor in an after life, nor do I have a firm idea of what I believe a soul is or if I even believe in one. But you know what? That's kind of what it felt like... or at least as good a description of what it felt like as any I have heard.

Yet at the same time I cannot say it all happened in a day. My life changed forever that day, but I don't think it could have had I not spent months leading up to it learning how to open myself... my heart, my soul, my mind, my emotionally being, my whatever-it-is... to whatever it was that happened. And then I spent months struggling to remain open and not to pull away again from... whatever this is we have created. Truth be told, I still struggle not to pull away some days, even as I grow in confidence that I would never want to, and doubt that I ever could pull free from something so powerful anyway.

Yet, as powerful as it seems to be, again the mystery, as there appears to be nothing there at all. The only thing I can think it is made of is faith, the belief we choose to hold in something which cannot be proven to exist. And that scares me too. If marriage is made of faith, then it exists only in our hearts and minds. In some ways that makes it stronger than anything, because it has no physical form to harm. Yet in other ways, it makes it fragile, like a fairy... that will pop suddenly out of existence, as if it had never been, if there are an insufficiency of people who believe in it. The physicist in me is used to believing in things because I know they are real. Yet my marriage, having a profound impact on my life, is undeniably real... and it forces me to accept that there are things which are very real, and exist because people believe in them. I've always had some idea that things like this exist: government is like this, and in some ways religion is like this too (though I don't imagine religious people tend to think of it in these terms), but I've never had an intimate connection to either of those institutions the way I do to my own marriage.

And all this eventually leads me to a conclusion I never thought I'd make. That our marriage is fundamentally not just something that exists between Josh and I, but something which is somehow connected to other marriages, particularly the marriages of couples we admire, and perhaps all other marriages (though I think probably less or not connected to those many "marriages" in my generation "for health insurance", "for immigration", etc). I don't think it could have sprung into being without examples from older couples. I think the faith required to make something like this exist may require more than 2 people, and more than one marriage... certainly it helps, certainly I doubt we would ever have thought to believe if we had been first required to dream up the concept of marriage ourselves. And certainly a marriage's strength cannot be measured at it's strongest point, but based on what happens when faith wavers, and the faith of the greater community may be needed.

For all I've thought about this, what I have figured out seems to me that it must be only the tip of the iceberg, and I am left with my questions than answers. Sometimes I fear I will spend a lifetime contemplating these questions, and never get to the bottom of this mystery.
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Josh first spotted Mary at ITR games during Mary's first week at Harvey Mudd College. After that, he stalked her, gleaning information from such people as Nick, who already knew Mary from swing dancing. At the second week of ITR games, Josh decided it was time to make his move. He walked up to Mary as soon as she arrived and greeted her as if they already knew each other and then proceeded to introduce himself to her roommate, Rachel, with whom she had arrived. The following evening Josh cornered Mary at the Mudd Occasional Ball (MOB) and asked her to dance the Jolly Dog Polka and wouldn't take no for an answer.

During the following week, Mary came to believe that her stalker had lost interest in her. This did not turn out to be the case. Josh again enlisted the help of his friend Nick to approach Mary one evening while she was sitting alone in the lounge and encourage her to go visit Chessers Suite where Josh lived. To insure that Mary would continue visiting Chessers Suite, Josh enlisted the help of his suitemates to invent a game called chessers and to teach it to Mary so that she would need to continue to visit Chessers Suite to find people to play this new game with.

Over fall break, Josh again went to his friends for help. This time he convinced Matt M. and Jess F. to pretend to develop a great boredom and desire to get off campus. As part of the plan, they of course invited along Mary. Then, pretending it was an after thought they picked up Josh, and of course brought Micah along so that Mary would believe that in fact they were just innocently inviting along a couple members of Chessers Suite. During this trip Mary and Josh had their first real opportunity to talk to each other, but Josh's real goal with the trip was to keep Mary out until she was so tired that she would be tempted to fall asleep on his shoulder in the car. Mary, being the decent girl that she was, managed to stay awake for the entire trip.

When things continued to move slowly, Josh realized that he would have to take more drastic measures. This time he got help from Evil Southie, who allowed him to join the Dungeons and Dragons campaign which Mary was playing in. Once in the campaign, he used a powerful spell to put himself in Mary's head. Thus she got used to his company while she was away for Thanksgiving break.

After that things stayed calm for a little while until it came time for everyone to go home for Winter Break. The morning she had to leave, he walked her to her carpool (with the excuse of helping one of his suitemates carry baggage out to the car), and waved goodbye looking so sad and lonely that it finally just melted Mary's heart.

Over the break, Mary and Joshua came up with excuses to email each other, such as the theft of koalas from the San Fransisco Zoo, and Josh's upcoming birthday party. After they got back from break, sparks flew almost immediately.
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Does trust describe an action or a feeling/thing, in your opinion?

For example, if I say, "I trust my friend with my car." Does that imply an action: "I have given my friend my car keys or otherwise given her access to it." Or does it imply that I hold a feeling: "I believe that if I were to give my friend access to my car, nothing bad would happen (of if it did it would be made up for through $$ or friendship)."

I think I would tend to call the latter faith, and for the sake of clarity, I'd like the word trust to therefore imply the former. While the dictionary.com definitions tend to lend themselves to this distinction to some extent, it also calls trust and faith synonyms. So go figure.

The two concepts are clearly related... a person chooses to "trust" (as in taking the action), very often as a direct result of feeling "trust" (as in faith). But I think the distinction is important too.
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You know what really bugs me? The "can't afford" excuse. I get so tired of hearing it, and so often it seems to me that it's just so not true.

Read more... )
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Watched the 2000 movie version of the Fantasticks. It was... disappointing. It is a musical which should really never have been made into a movie. They did a pretty good job with keeping the mood right though, which is truly commendable and was extremely impressive. However, they departed from the script a bit too much in my opinion. Particularly, they departed from the original songs too much. For several of the songs, they took out the original verses and wrote their own. And for the "It Depends On What You Pay" song, they replaced the WHOLE thing! As Josh pointed out, in the year two thousand you really can't have a man there singing about rape like that. But it's a really good song, and it underscores the stupidity of what is going on.

"The cost, Senior, depends upon the quality of the rape."
"The what?!"
"Forgive me, the attempted rape. I know you prefer abduction, but the proper word is rape. It's short and business-like."

And finally, to add insult to injury (or perhaps injury to insult), at the end, El Gallo leads them through the carnival instead of around the world... which could be a good choice in keeping with the mood of the original musical, expect they made it pretty clear that it was a brief one-night thing, rather than a many months or many years thing. Of course, I don't think they ever say explicitly in the play how much time passes, but it felt longer. Also, they are way too explicit about the rose-colored glasses... ever heard of "show don't tell" in the art of writing? I guess not.

And finally, the worst part is that El Gallo leaves off the last two lines of the closing poem.

There is a curious paradox which no one can explain:
Who understands the secret of the reaping of the grain,
Or why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain,
Or why we all must die of it before we live again?
I do not know the answer, I merely know it's true.
I hurt them for this reason, and myself a little bit too.


To me, it is those last two lines which explain the story, which give the musical it's meaning. It is the difference between a mature love between adults who have known pain and mistakes, and the love of children who know only make believe. They also took out the line exchange at the end between the fathers and El Gallo.

"Look! They've come back!"
"It's a miracle! Let's take down the wall!"
"No. Leave the wall. Remember you must always leave the wall."

Now my mom has always disliked this closing exchange because she doesn't think neighbors ought to have to have big walls on the property line, but that's never how I've interpreted it. I've always assumed that he is referring metaphorical wall, one of respecting individual differences. You must always leave that wall.

They did fortunately at least include "Try to Remember" as the credits rolled. I'd been afraid they would leave it out completely (generally it is both the opening and closing song, though with different verses used at the end than at the beginning).

Deep in December it's nice to remember;
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember;
Without a hurt the heart is hollow.

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