I am writing part 2 of Married Life (part one is here), and I was wondering if anyone had any questions I should answer. It would be nice to know what people are interested in hearing about. This goes for other topics, unrelated to my marriage, as well. I’d like to write interesting things, and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what would interest someone else.
Meanwhile, I just want to say that I’m extremely excited about Alison’s great Idea, blogger care packages! I’m also a little nervous, because I’m not certain what to send. I’ve never been great at such things. I have some ideas though. Hopefully, I won’t use up all the ideas I have and not be able to participate in the next round.
So RealYvonne suggested I write about my interracial/intercultural marriage. This will be hard for me, because I have too much to say. I have a tendency to rhapsodize about my husband, and if I’m not careful, this will just come out as an advertisement for a man you can’t have.
Michael and I are very different. We are opposites, in balance, creating a whole. Well, nearly opposites, and usually in balance.
We have very different backgrounds. I grew up very sheltered, attending a sweet little Waldorf School, and loving it to pieces for the art and community it provided. He grew up in a small village in Kenya, where his school was sometimes held outside for lack of a classroom. He has a difficult time understanding what the big deal about bullying is in America, because he is used to a whole different level. I actively loved every other student in my high school class. He can slaughter a chicken. I get upset about roadkill.
The biggest difference is in our upbringings. He was brought up to work hard to get what he wants. I was brought up to believe that everyone is special, especially me, and that I was naturally talented in some areas, and so wouldn’t need to work too hard at those, and disadvantaged in other areas, and so didn’t need to work too hard (because it’s everyone else’s job to accommodate the people with learning disabilities). As a result, he is working hard and making something of himself, while I am still coming to terms with the fact that I have to work at all. My mother was most worried about keeping me happy and safe. I never learned to struggle. My husband was raised to be independent and strong.
I personally think his life would be a great movie.
There was a time when it was doubtful that he could afford to go to college at all. My husband certainly could never have afforded to come to the US if he hadn’t chosen to volunteer his time at a clinic near his home. But when he volunteered, he had no idea how it would turn out. He just wanted to help. He translated for American doctors and nurses, and helped out every way he could. He was very proactive in looking for ways to help. And the Americans noticed how bright and hard-working he was. Two doctors and a nurse mentioned that they would like to help him come to the United States for college. He got these women in touch with each other, and they made it happen! The nurse built a room for him in her garage, and the doctor payed for his community college tuition and spending money (much of which he actually sent home to his family).
We met through a friend, and he was pretty quick to decide he was interested in me. I spent a fair amount of time being an idiot and not being interested in him. Partly, I put off dating him because he had made it clear that he wanted his first girlfriend to become his wife, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to marry yet. Partly, I was just interested in someone else. Long, dumb story short, he wore me down and I agreed to date him. A few months in, we decided to get married. By then, I realized what a catch I had, and like I said, I knew when I started dating him that marriage was the likely outcome. All together, the time it took from introduction to wedding was just barely over a year.
Soon he was transferring from community college to Cal Berkeley, one of the top schools in the world. I was employed at my father’s start up, doing graphic design and video work. Since we were (and still are) living at my parents’ house, my earnings were spent on my binge eating, books and school supplies for him, and a lot was sent to his family in Kenya, especially to help with his little brother’s college tuition. We didn’t manage to save any money. He’s finished all his classes now, and is going to graduate in May. My parents are going to pay for his mother’s airplane ticket, provided she is able to get a visa to visit. Michael’s older brother is trying to come up with money for a ticket of his own.
Right now Michael is devoting all his attention to studying for the MCAT. I’m pretty confident he’ll hit it out of the park, given how hard he’s working. After that, med school. He plans to become a neurosurgeon.
Meanwhile, I’ve lost my job (through no fault of my own), and as mentioned above, we have no savings. Lucky thing we also have no bills and just eat the groceries my parents buy. It’s embarrassing to admit that we are basically leeches for the time being. I’m petrified by the prospect of looking for work. I feel unqualified for anything. I’m taking a couple classes, one on motion graphics, the other is intro to web design. I’m hoping to be more employable by the end of those classes.
I can shoot video, edit video and create motion graphic animations. I can do graphic design and illustration. I’m also a pretty good singer. What I struggle with is fear. I am afraid to put myself out there and get rejected. I’m scared of not getting a job, but I’m also scared of getting a job and not being good enough.
I’ll have to learn to be brave, for my future family. I’ll need to be earning money when he’s in medical school; man cannot live on loans alone. It’s terrifying, but I’m lucky. I’m lucky that I married the right man. He pushed me every day, to be more than I think I can be. I hate being pushed, it’s not something I’m used to, but it’s definitely what I need.
So, I’m seeing progress on the scale, and it feels great! I’m super psyched to see this continue. I’m not like I was in October though. In October I was cocky, and mysteriously not obsessed with junk food. I distinctly remember thinking “I wish I had a craving right now, so that I could resist it.” That is amongst the dumbest wishes I’ve ever considered.
No, this time I have cravings. And I try to accommodate them, in a healthful way. I crave chocolate, so I make a wonderful smoothie of frozen cherries, banana, soy milk and unsweetened cocoa powder. I’ve been missing salt, but haven’t come up with a workaround for that yet. I’ve been enjoying bell peppers and brussels sprouts and kale. I’m trying not to use the seasoned rice vinegar I love, because it has both sugar and salt, and that’s hard, because that stuff is killer on veggies. I use lemon juice, or unseasoned rice vinegar. I’m eating mostly fruits and veggies now. Probably I ought to try and have more vegetables and a little less fruit, but as long as this is working, I’m doing what makes me happy.
I’ve noticed that I eat best if I plan the day’s meals out the night before, even though I don’t really do any prep at that time. Just knowing what to go for stops me from munching on things while deciding what to eat. And even if I do munch, as long as I munch veggies, it’s no big deal. I’d burst before going over my calories with celery. I do have to be careful with dates and avocados. I dragged out my rice cooker for making quinoa and steaming veggies at the same time. So easy! Why did I never try that before? It makes me feel so efficient. I’m also in love with the little tubes of “fresh” herb paste. Easy peasy way to get garlic, basil, “italian herbs,” dill, lemon grass, etc. into a lazy-time meal. I made my own super creamy salad dressing out of avocado, onion, garlic, italian herbs and balsamic vinegar.
I tried beets. I’ve concluded that they are beautiful to look at, but not something I want in my mouth. I’m trying jicama. So far the verdict is iffy. The taste is fine, nice even, but the after-texture (is that a thing?) is kind of starchy, like eating a potato raw. Was I supposed to cook before eating?? I’m curious to see if I could cook eggplant, but I’ve heard that the texture can be pretty awful if it’s done wrong.
Any recommendations? What else should I try? I keep forgetting about various kinds of vegetables, so even if you think I’ve already tried it, tell me your favorite vegetable! I want to keep my menu fresh and exciting.
I’m also making progress in the gym. I can now say I’ve jogged on the treadmill for 9 minutes (and that time I only stopped at 9 because I had to pee really badly). For me, that feels huge. I need to be more organized on the weight machines though. And I haven’t even tried the free weights! Plus I need to start getting into that habit of stretching.
My husband can’t wrap his mind around that. He doesn’t understand why I don’t like it when he wants to discuss death while I’m trying to get to sleep. If he brings it up at night, I can’t sleep because it gets stuck in my mind. I have this feeling that everything I see and touch is only a paper-thin painting covering an abyss, and any moment I could fall and become nothing. I can’t stand it. I’m in this beautiful world for a limited time only, and what am I doing with myself? I have no idea. I spend my time feeling lost and useless, or asleep. But I can’t give that as a reason for my husband, he would just ask me how come I don’t know what to do, why I don’t have any ambitions.
Death seems so lonely. I can’t say this to my husband, because he will expect me to be comforted by his presence. What he doesn’t understand is that his presence now does very little, when my mind is stuck on the final future of my life, either me without him or him without me. I can’t bear it. To go on, old and lonely, without my husband, would be worst, I think. Worse than going first to the grave. But it’s hard to be sure.
Why does he seem to enjoy bringing this up? He thinks he can make it all better by holding me. All I want is to distract myself and think of other things. He keeps pressing the issue, “why are you afraid? It happens to everyone.” How is that supposed to comfort me? I cry. He holds me, but I can’t help feeling that his life is as temporary as mine, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
Death kept me awake as a child. I can’t remember how old I was, but I remember sobbing into my mother’s arms until she felt she had to lie to get me to calm down. “It’s ok. By the time you’re old enough to die, they will have figured out a way to stop it.”
I wonder how my husband is so ok with the prospect of dying. Is it because of his Faith? Or is he just that unshakable, that even the end can’t bother him? Is it because he’s making something of his life, instead of wasting his only time on earth being frightened and indecisive? What must it be like to have purpose? To want to work hard for something, even though, ultimately, death will still come and undo everything?
Death was the last thing we talked about when I went to sleep, and he brought it up again when I woke up. It was more bearable in the light of morning, easier to push out of my mind, even while he talked. But he kept asking me why I am so afraid, and that made it difficult to completely dissociate.
How do you deal with your own inevitable demise? Are you afraid? Why or why not?
I’ve grown tired of the look of perplexity and hurt on my husbands face when he asks me, for the millionth time, why I would eat something I know is bad for me. To him, the actions come from a place of logic and reasoning. For me, at least/especially with regards to food, it’s as though Mr. Hyde is making my food choices. And I can never quite explain to my husband what happened. The closest I’ve ever gotten to explaining myself is “I don’t know.” You’ll notice that that’s not very close to an explanation. Occasionally, I’ll spend such a long time trying to formulate a response, that my husband thinks I’m ignoring him and gets quietly frustrated. He’s a saint, so it comes out as mild sarcasm instead of rage. Who knew that “ok, thank you” could be so completely devastating?
So I have to try again, again. I can’t keep disappointing him like this, especially since I’m not on top of any of the other things I need to do. The trick is, I know this lifestyle-change can’t work unless I’m doing it for myself. So here’s me, trying to be excited about this again, like I was in October. I was great in October, and I’m not sure why. I was blogging, gymming, and counting calories on my app like a pro. I lost about 20 lbs that month. But my gym buddy moved away, very suddenly, and everything sort of fell apart. I think part of it was that in October I wasn’t so lonely, and I was employed. But enough moping!
I’m reading a book called “Eat to Live” by Dr Joel Fuhrman. It’s sort of exciting, but also kind of just a more extreme version of stuff I’ve heard before. His case is that if you fill yourself with “nutrient rich” foods (like kale), you won’t have room for cake. He wants animal bi-products and oils pretty much out of the picture, to be replaced with more fruits and veggies and a limited amount of nuts. Follow this plan, he says, and all your ailments will be healed. I’m not really exaggerating much. The sequelae (yay, new word for me!) of obesity begin to reverse themselves, apparently, once you start filling yourself with good stuff and, you know, stop being obese. So, maybe my PCOS will go away? That’s a little unclear, since it’s unclear whether PCOS is caused by, or contributes to, obesity. Certainly, the two often (not always) go hand-in-hand. I’ll be hopeful. Maybe even my beard will go away! Hope will have to keep me going, at least until Results kick in.
So I’m restarting my “color in the day” program (green was a good day, etc), picking up LoseIt! again and trying to go to the gym every day. I’m trying to get in the habit of planning my days in advance, in a planner. Trying to find a new gym buddy–I have one friend who might workout, once he gets over meningitis. Also trying to find a personal trainer.
Have you guys heard of Thumbtack? It’s a website/app that lets you put in what service you want to find a professional to perform, and the area code you want that in, and then professionals send you quotes. Two trainers sent me quotes. Now I have to pick. One is farther away and more expensive, plus I’d have to join his gym, but has 25 years of experience and sounds really good. The other is closer to home and cheaper, but keeps mentioning detoxing and I can’t help but wonder if that’s a gimmick. Still, he has some privacy at his studio, while the other does not. I’m very torn about who to pick, or whether I should try and find others. The problem is that most personal training services seem not to be very upfront about what the price is, and that makes it hard to compare, or even know what my real options are. Ultimately, I know that any personal trainer is going to be able to do me a world of good, simply by being there, giving me direction and forcing me into a schedule. And if that’s true, maybe I should just go for the cheaper one? I’m not a naturally decisive person. I do think I like Thumbtack though, so that’s nice to know.
I’m glad to be back. It took me a long time to get myself back on here, but blogging is fun. I keep forgetting that. Any comment you can spare, even the most inane one you can invent, will make me very happy and help me feel supported. Even views So thank you. Here are some excepts from the book I’m reading.