…The mouse will try super hard to make progress to impress the cat when he returns!
Sad news everyone: people die. I’ve gone a long time without having to really think about that, except for when a beloved pet would pass, and honestly I’m still not really thinking about it because it freaks me out and there is no comfort. But I ought to be thinking about it. For one thing, a gentle, poetic fellow I slightly knew has been murdered senselessly on the street, and for another, my husband’s grandfather appears to be on the brink. I feel like a cold bitch because I’m not as upset about either thing as I feel I should be. It all feels far away and incomprehensible. I’m worried about my husband and how he feels, but I don’t seem to emotionally understand that I’ve lost the chance to meet one of the people who raised him and cared for him and who is important to him. I feel I should be more affected.
But since I’m not, I won’t bother you with it. What you do need to know is that my husband left for Kenya today, to be with his family. He has a one way ticket. He will be coming back, but we have no idea when. I’d hazard a guess that he won’t come back in less than a month, which means…
…I have some time to be a surprise when he gets back! I think I might be able to make a visible difference in my body in that time, what do you think? I’m going to try. He’s observant, so if I manage it, I think he will notice. It’s an idea I came up with when I was wondering how best to support my husband in this difficult time. I decided that what I can do is make his return to the states, whenever it happens, as joyful as possible by developing good habits while he’s away. I also want to study a little Swahili.
So now I’m going to set some goals.
Lose 2 lbs a week. In a month I should be at 243 lbs
Be consistent going to Bikram every weekday morning
Go to the gym or personal training 5 times a week (because of the bet) and lift heavier weights by the end of the month
Learn how to keep our room clean and organized. He’s a tidy sort, but somehow my disorderly nature wins when it comes to how the room looks
Practice Swahili flashcards every day
Maybe learn to do something pretty with my hair?
If he’s gone more than a month, I’ll miss him for longer, but I’ll be glad of the chance to make even more difference. I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I feel like I’m not a good enough wife. Well, if that’s really how I feel, this is a chance to do something about it!
What would you do if you had a month to set up a surprise for someone you love/want to impress?
If you read part 1, you may be wondering how our different lives affect the way we exist as a married couple. If you didn’t read part one, the long and short of it is: he’s from Kenya and used to working hard, I’m from California and I’m used to being sheltered. I sound like kind of a loser in these posts, but it’s important to remember that it’s not really in my nature to see or say nice things about myself. It’s possible that I’m not so terrible.
You’d think I’d have an “advantage” of some kind, since I’m living in my place of birth. But he’s better prepared for life in America (or anywhere else) than I am, because he is a-ok with struggling and working hard. It turns out that that’s something everyone has to get used to. I’m trying to learn that from him. I’m improving… I think. For example, before I married, I was often to lazy/depressive to shower, but now I shower nearly daily, even if I am feeling gloomy and lazy. That might sound like a tiny thing, but it has ripple effects on other aspects of life, such as willingness to leave the house and overall self esteem–believing that I’m worth the water.
He is also encouraging me to be more confident. He sees me doing nothing. He asks why. I tell him I’m afraid of such-and-such. He can’t wrap his head around that. He believes that I should put myself out there and act, even if I do the wrong thing.
On a totally different note, I want to tell you the saddest part about being married to an African. I have to watch him learn about racism. Where he grew up, yes there was tribalism, but everyone looked pretty similar, so it was harder to discriminate. Here, he stands out, even among Black Americans. A child spat on him. A policeman “randomly” searched his backpack. Etc.
He keeps asking me, as though I could have an answer, but I never do. I never know why so many police are racist, or how to deal with it. I never know why so many people convince themselves that having a black president makes this a “post racial” society, when it clearly isn’t. Worst of all, I don’t know how, when we have kids, we will explain to our kids that some people will be cruel to them. And I don’t know how we will deal with it if/when we find our child has been discriminated against. I know my husband will go off the rails, and could possibly do anything, and that scares me a bit.
If anyone reads this who has grown up experiencing and learning about racism from that perspective, I would really appreciate knowing how your parents dealt with it, or how you deal with it as a parent. I’m trying to collect answers to that, in preparation for the future.
To take us away from that topic, I’m going to tell you that my husband is silly. Most people don’t know that. My sister thinks he’s an emotionless robot. But I see a side of him that he keeps pretty private. He likes to tease me. Sometimes I like it (like when he hides my phone), sometimes I don’t (like when he starts discussing the reality of death, right before bed). It’s hard to describe the way in which he’s silly…. I’m realizing that I may not be able to come up with specific examples that really make it clear. Sometimes, when I have to pee in the morning, he grabs me and I have to wrestle to escape in time! This is, naturally a risky move on his part, and I’m sure he will eventually take it too far, But I enjoy it because it’s fun and cuddly. He has the sweetest giggle and a bright smile.
Almost every morning, he has me drive him (he has no license, as he’s always too busy to think about getting one) to Starbucks, where he stays and studies until 10 pm. He’s studying to take the MCAT. So I don’t see much of him in the day. Most nights he studies at home, and I rarely interrupt him, because I want him to achieve his goals. I’m pretty good at keeping myself entertained, with audiobooks and art and school work and blogging.
I made him promise not to read my blog unless I give him permission to read a certain post. I have complete trust that he will respect that.
It’s funny that in writing this, I made our differences such a big deal. It never felt like a big deal (though that could be because I never once dated someone with a background similar to mine). Some how, our differences fit together.
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.