Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the give & take

In several frequented locations of my life I hear (eavesdrop?) conversations of people that are either married or getting married soon. One of the recurring trends lately has been that of separate finances. I was surprised at how many people mentioned they were keeping things separate financially. One went so far as to say his fiancĂ©e would be paying her typical cost of rent towards "my mortgage" once they get married and move in together. There were so many things about that conversation that rubbed me the wrong way. For one-- my mortgage? You mean your (as in you and your new wife) mortgage? Call me old fashioned, but I'm just a joint-checking kind of girl.

There just seems something skeevy about separate finances when married to me. I know some people claim it works for their relationships, but I feel like there is a lot hidden (and selfish) that shouldn't be as a result of that. This wasn't an easy concept for me at first, though. Pre-marriage Jon and I had every intention of combining our checking accounts but we didn't get around to it until a few months after our nuptials. During that time I found myself needing to ask Jon to pay rent with "his money". He would reiterate that it was our money, but I couldn't help but feel guilty for seeing his checking account shrink around the first of the month. When we finally combined accounts I still found myself dreading using his debit card (I joined his account because I hated PNC). It just felt like I was taking from him. Eventually, with gentle reminders that we shared everything, it got easier.

Now that we're "joint" I couldn't imagine being separate. There's an accountability with being joint--I can't make the impulse buys I used to because Jon would know and I know he'd disapprove (just like he can't buy bow ties and bicycle accessories without dreading the imminent glare I'd give him come statement time). There are no arguments about money with being joint--one of us doesn't feel like we're always responsible for certain payments. There's no discussion of who's buying if we treat ourselves to dinner. There are no arguments about how "you wasted your money on [fill in the blank] but we really need a [fill in the blank]!" But I think the biggest perk is that there's a closeness with being joint--there aren't feelings that the money we use for rent or utilities is mine or his. It's ours, which we both contribute to, and we respect the money in our account accordingly. I don't want to make the impulse buys as much because I know half of that is Jon's money and I don't want to take it from him. We call each other out of respect if we see that special item we want to pick up that we normally wouldn't. And the other never spews out "NO!" Sometimes we'll discuss the feasibility of such a purchase, but it is totally respectful, loving, and wise.

Plus, joint-checking is a good incentive to stick around for the long haul ;).

Monday, March 28, 2011

arguments & bigger pictures

Ever since we met with Pastor Dan in January, our marriage has been quite blessed. [Up until Saturday] I couldn't tell you the last time we fought aside from minor disagreements that never escalated into something more than that.

But then Saturday hit and I turned into neurotic Danielle. And poor Jon turned into frustrated Jon. And it spiraled out of control.

We were cleaning our old apartment in preparation for returning the keys, which I had intended to do on Saturday when we were done. I wanted it off of my plate because my plate is much too full and I have been seeking relief. We forgot Jon's garage door opener in his car at the new apartment, as well as his keys. When he informed me that he would just turn everything in on Monday instead of Saturday I lost it. I went into temper tantrum mode because I just hate it when plans change. I work hard to make the plans. I don't like it when they don't work out!

Mini-yelling match ensued in the car on our way home. I cried.

Disclaimer: I always cry. It's my reaction to anger, happiness, sadness, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, joy. If you ever see me crying you probably can't be sure of which emotion elicited it.

It didn't take long for the yelling to cease, for love to overflow. This argument was virtually a non-argument compared to the pre-Pastor Dan era arguments. Perhaps we're growing in our marriage, learning how to communicate. Jon realized that sometimes he could be more patient with me (read: telling me I'm "overly-sensitive" when I'm clearly upset about something is a good way to make me particularly "overly-sensitive") and I realized that I really AM being overly-sensitive most times. Even controlling. I hate not being in control.

The bigger picture? My marriage is affecting my faith in a holy and righteous way. I cannot be in control of everything in my life. That's not how it works. I need to learn that it's okay to let go, that it's essential to trust Christ. Which is somewhat worrisome because I have this deep, scary feeling in the pit of my stomach that something epically difficult is waiting for me in the future, to test my faith, to test my willingness to give up control. In the meantime, I will look to my husband to nudge me back to reality in my daily struggles to keep the reigns.

Friday, March 25, 2011

learning to love

I remember the first time(s) Jon and I said "I love you" better than most other things. Interestingly enough, we both nearly ruined the moment for the other, but luckily we are weird and it ended up making the experience more charming.

It was Christmas Eve 2006 and Jon's parent's house was quiet because they were all at midnight mass. We were sitting on the couch watching TV and Jon looked like he was going to vomit. I asked him what was wrong and he hesitated, finally finding the words, "I.......love you." My wonderful response? "No you don't."

Rewind a little bit here: when Jon and I first started hanging out I vented to him several times about people who say "I love you" after less than a few months because "they couldn't possibly know or feel that." I mean, I must have vented about this on at least five or six different occasions to the boy. I also wasn't quite sure if I really believed that love existed in the romantic sense (I knew God's love and familial love was real but that was about it). I was a skeptic and a hater. I also made it clear to Jon that I would never say it back if I wasn't sure if the words were true. It just meant too much.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. Poor Jon's face fell at my heartless response. I reminded him that I wouldn't say it until I was ready and that I DID like him but I just wasn't sure about the whole love deal. He made it a point to not repeat those words consciously to me again.

Over the course of the next two weeks I had a lot of thinking to do. I still couldn't wrap my mind around romantic love. Romantic love just always seemed so selfish to me. I eventually asked Jon what he thought "love" meant because I wasn't sure. His response was something to this effect: "I view love as an action more than a feeling. Yes, my stomach does flips when I see you, but when I tell you 'I love you' what I'm actually telling you is that I'm choosing to love you and only you. I'm telling you I'll stick it out and work through any problems we have instead of running away." 

I melt. I picked a very smart man. The more I thought about his response the more it made sense. If love was solely a feeling, people would be falling into and out of love every five seconds. I finally came to the realization that I felt (actioned?) the same way.

We were watching Grey's Anatomy on a Thursday night (a tradition we had in the beginning.. well, MY tradition) and this time I felt like I was going to vomit.

Me: "I love you, too."
Jon: "You're not talking about the band [U2] right?"

All we could do was laugh.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the ongoing birthing debate


Previously, I mentioned my many anxieties in regards to bearing children. The cycle is relentless. Our first few months of marriage I was so gung-ho about having kids, constantly pressuring Jon to give in and let us try. Thankfully he was the voice of reason and gently reminded me that we still had a lot of growing up (and together) to do and that the timing wasn't right.

Just before I started school I realized just how crazy I was for thinking that we could handle a newborn in addition to our crazy schedules... we barely see each other as it is! Not long after I realized how crazy it was came the terror of bringing such innocence into this world. As the days have passed that terror has only intensified. Maybe it is being fueled by all of the political unrest and mega-disasters that dominate our headlines, but I'm starting to wonder (worry?) that maybe this is divine intervention. My entire life I wanted children so desperately. Such a drastic change in my heart is bothersome to me.

But then, in a fleeting moment of hope, I see these pictures and all of my anxieties and fears melt away:
Brooke and Ciara (Alex and Natalie's first & second)
Lillian (Paul and Heather's first)
Myles (Cameron and Jessica's first)
(seriously though, our friends make cute babies) I honestly don't know what the coming years will bring. Being that Jon and I have never attempted to conceive there is a chance that we may not even be able to and all my concerns will be for naught. But my heart is aching for an answer, a justification, or a solidified conviction. This wavering is taking a toll and wearing on my soul.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

nesting

I have been nesting like crazy since the move... and I think Jon is at his breaking point.

It's bad. I went from a week-long cooking and baking marathon to cruising every homegoods website I can get my grubby little hands on. Last night, I ordered this and this for our walls (with Jon's permission!). The former has special meaning to me because Jon and I both lived in Illinois and a big part of my heart still resides in Chicago. It's just an amazing city and many of my friends from college still live there. The latter is just totally my style and looks really neat.

I thought I had finally put my urge to decorate to bed. But then we got our change of address confirmation from the U.S. Postal Service in the mail. Included in it? Pier 1 coupons! Needless to say, we have a trip ahead of us this weekend, perhaps for something like this:


Or this:
Mama needs a new dining room table centerpiece!

Monday, March 21, 2011

lillian rae

Previously, I mentioned the roles Heather & Paul have played in our lives/relationship over the past several years. I have also mentioned that they were expecting. Well, early last week, Lillian Rae entered this world as one VERY loved baby. Over the weekend, we finally got to meet her:

Jon refused to hold her. He's always been afraid of breaking new babies.

She is beautiful and I know she will have a wonderful life because she is surrounded by people who love her. She probably has on the order of 10+ sets of "pseudo" aunts and uncles in addition to her biological ones. And boy will we spoil her rotten!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

thunderstorms

They're calling for one of the first thunderstorms of spring tonight. I'm really excited because one of my favorite things is thunderstorms when I'm safely tucked into bed with Jon. I'm not exactly sure why. I think it's a combination of feeling really safe but also really secluded. There's just something about being surrounded by darkness yet given an occasional view of Jon that I find absolutely delightful. Something that I truly treasure in that moment. It feels like we're the only two people on earth.

However, should I ever be alone during a thunderstorm, particularly at night, I hate them. There was one night in college that they were calling for severe storms where I made my friend Phaedra come stay at my apartment with me through the night just in case (and obviously I was blessed with such wonderful friends in college) because I couldn't handle being there alone. Also, I'm pretty sure it never actually thundered that night.

Image source: blog.sidewalkdog.com
It's a total love/hate relationship, but tonight I'm feeling amorous...

Friday, March 18, 2011

sexual abuse & the church

I haven't been sleeping well since we moved. I think it's because my body can sense a difference in the room layout and it hasn't adjusted yet. Last night's restlessness, though, can be attributed to the fact that as I was thinking about this topic I was filled with an overwhelming rage. My thoughts wouldn't rest. I could not find peace. There is no peace in this topic.

Sexual abuse is running rampant in this world, especially sexual abuse of minors. Childhoods are being ripped away. Every 2 minutes (in the United States alone) someone is sexually assaulted. This is not going away.


I have visited well over 15 churches throughout the course of my lifetime. Of all my visits, 2 churches have discussed the ramifications of sexual abuse and how we, as Christians, should react. 1 of those 2 churches fills me with a rage to this day (and not a Godly rage). You see, it is with the most devastated heart that I can say I know more women who have been sexually abused than can be counted on one hand. Of all these women, all but one experienced sexual abuse as a child. Of all these perpetrators, 2 were well-revered members of their church communities. Two of these brave women told me that the abuse they suffered is why they don't believe in God. After all, what kind of a loving Creator would allow such atrocities to happen to such innocence? My heart breaks. And I understand exactly why they feel that way. And I don't find these feelings unjustified in the least. This is why we need to discuss this in our churches!

Before I begin to discuss the church that makes me so mad, I need to be clear: I am feeling a rage that I am sure Christ also feels towards their teaching, but I am not displaying it in a way Christ would. The church that fills me with my unChristlike rage ( was a church I had visited in Chicago when I was going to school. One of the first sermons I attended there the pastor was discussing sexual abuse. At first it was pretty on-par with what I believe. By the conclusion, he entirely lost me: "Both the sexual abuser and the abused need to ask for God's forgiveness for their sins. The victim's body is a temple and by being abused they have desecrated their temple. So they need to seek God's forgiveness for the sins against their body." *Insert stunned look and massive jaw drop here*

There are only a handful of moments in my personal history that I would willingly return to right if given the opportunity. This easily bottoms out at #3. I sat quietly, entirely stunned by the words I had just heard. I made it through closing worship and didn't speak of it again until months later. I think I was in shock. I didn't know how to process it.

If I could go back, the things I would say to this man. Is the body a temple? Yes. Do you honestly believe God would expect a victim of sexual abuse to ask for forgiveness for "their role in the act"? No way. To make it more clear, I have recently read stories about children under the age of 3 being sexually assaulted. How could one even rationalize that a 3-year-old child would be expected to ask for forgiveness for the sins perpetrated against them? I can assure you that no sexual abuse victim was a willing participant. That's why it's called abuse. Another example: someone who has been physically assaulted, shot for example. Does God expect them to ask for forgiveness for injuring their temple? It's absurd. This pastor's view was so jaded and ignorant of the ramifications of abuse. I will forever regret not speaking out and rebuking him because I truly believe his words were not God's.

So, as a church, what can we do? We need to discuss it. Silence just reaffirms the victim's mentality that it was somehow their fault when it so clearly wasn't. We need to have a deeper understanding of it so that when we do discuss it we do not speak damaging, unholy words. We need to provide sexual abuse victims resources to cope with their trauma. But most importantly, we need to love the victims and support them unconditionally: we need to show them Christ's love. It's not our job to make anyone believe in God. However, I truly believe that if we personify Christ's love and support that so many more will want to seek Him out. I also believe that true and total healing can only be found in Christ. And sexual abuse victims need total healing more than just about anyone I've ever met.

I encourage you to talk to your church leaders if you can't recall the last time (if ever) your community focused on sexual abuse. This topic needs to be discussed and discussed righteously.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

oh the places (we'll) go

I'm far from a world traveler, and Jon is the pea to my pod. In fact, we are total home-bodies. We prefer staying in with fresh popcorn and a good show (Pickers, Storage Wars, old people stuff like that). We aren't your typical 22- and 23-year-olds. We don't do bars. The last time we saw a movie in a theater was in 2007 for Juno, with my younger cousin. Our idea of an exciting night out is an early dinner to ensure we hit our 9 pm bedtime. We're wild.

However, despite my desire to waste away my days in the comfort of our home, there are a few select locations that I want to will die if I don't get to hope that one day we could be so fortunate to visit:

1. Greek islands (let's be real, who WOULDN'T want to go to these beauties?)
Image Source: greekislandstravel.org
2. Germany
3. Italy (I'm in it for the food!)
4. Galapagos Islands

However, due to budgeting and scheduling conflicts, we will be resolved to spend our one-year wedding anniversary in good ole Amish Country, Ohio for the meantime.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

spring break and hidden escapes

Our spring break began on Monday and I had the purest of intentions to get a lot of homework accomplished.

Much to my dismay, circumstances beyond my control interfered with my desire to be productive: impromptu pumpkin cookies,
Chocolate chip center. Not my best work.
chocolate covered fruit,
Mostly consumed: bananas, grapes, pistachios, marshmallows, tangerines
and chocolate chip cookies
Jon made them for our neighbor
(and did I also mention Girl Scout cookies?).
Not pictured: 2nd box of Samoas; Thin Mints
I think this urge to be domestic stems from my nesting at the new apartment. It was also a futile attempt to rid myself of this random angst I've been experiencing. I'm not really sure of the source but I think it has something to do with "the time of the month".

Since baking failed to relieve my irritability, I did what any person does when they just can't shake bitter feelings: retreat to my hidden escape. We all have it: some place that we proverbially run to and hide until our bad mood passes. My hidden place is the shower. I love to just sit on the shower floor with the sound of the water and our space heater. Just me, the hot water (you know, the make-your-skin-red-instantly hot), and the sound of nothing. It helped me quite a bit. I feel renewed and much more relaxed than pre-shower. I feel so good, in fact, that I am tempted to run back to the shower to repeat the process. However, Jon still needs to shower tonight and I'd feel bad if I stole all of the hot water.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

your fireproof heart was never wasted

Consider this a 9-day belated ode to sisterhood to mark the anniversary of my sister's birth (9 days ago).

Jacqui is 3.5 years (4 school years) my senior. She also exhibits a fierce independence, ability to speak her mind and hold her own against pretty much everyone that I greatly admire. Apparently, the first words out of her mouth when seeing me in the hospital were "she has chimpanzee feet." It was all downhill from there. For the first half of my life I annoyed the snot out of her. That saying imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Not to 13-year-old Jacqui. I spent a good portion of my childhood trying to be just like her: acting like her, ordering the same food at restaurants, etc. She loathed it. My guess is I secretly knew it drove her nuts and it was part of my master plan to rule the world.

We got to play with a baby snow leopard
As we got older and she moved out (and then I moved out) our relationship changed drastically. I guess us not being stuck around each other all the time did wonders for our nerves. Our relationship has grown and while we still have the uncanny ability to get under each other's skin without really trying, lately I've noticed these times are few and far between. I was blessed to have a big sister who, despite years of torture with the nickname she gave me ("Nerdbird"), actually had my best interest at heart, protecting me from so much evil in this broken world.

So as I continue to "grow up" I will continue to admire my big sister, just in a form that is far less burdensome to her. I look forward to the day that Jon and I have children because I know they will have an aunt who will protect them just as fiercely as their mother will, and who will also probably spoil them rotten.

We gradually grew up. Oh wait?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

only hearts can build a home

I am pleased to report that our move went incredibly smoothly, despite a last-ditch attempt by mother nature to ruin everything. We have, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, the most wonderful friends and family we could ever ask for. Lots of heart went into this move and we appreciate every ounce of it.

Despite getting about 10" of snow in less than 24 hours from Thursday-Friday, Saturday ended up rounding highs out in the 50's with plenty of sunshine. We got the truck around 8:30 and slowly began migrating stuff onto it (since we told everyone we wouldn't have it until an hour later our first hour was very slow). By 10 we had pretty much loaded up everything and the caravan headed over to the new apartment.

Once we arrived, Heather and I ran out to get pizza for everyone. By the time we got back, the whole truck had basically been unloaded. I was [happily] stunned. Furthermore, while the men (my dad, Jon's dad, Uncle Mark, Marc, Paul, and Jon) were unloading, my mom and Heather were inside organizing. This made my job a million times easier. We've started to settle in and make this our home, but there is still a lot of work (read: pictures and clocks to be hung) til it's complete.

Authentic "lived-in" kitchen: I baked pumpkin cookies there today
Our authentic retro bathroom
Our messy dining room with a huge bunch of bananas we bought for $1.30 at Walmart today

Thursday, March 10, 2011

krav maga

In our apartment we have the doorstops that are made out of springs with a piece of plastic at the tip. When you bump into it, it sways back and forth as it vibrates, making this really irritating 'boing' sound.

At 3 o'clock this morning, Marsala hit the one in our bathroom. Jon and I both shot out of bed from a previously elusive sleep (darn you cat!) and quickly realized what had caused the noise. I think it was a ploy to wake us up and give her affection because seconds later she was on our bed, meowing, and rubbing up against us. Anyway, after being so suddenly awoken our adrenaline levels were high and our brains were moving fast.

Me: "I can't fall back asleep because all I can think about is whether or not I passed my exam."
Jon: "I can't fall back asleep because all I can think about is Krav Maga."

Two peas, ladies and gentlemen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

mass transport

I apologize for my lack of interesting stories and recaps of exciting adventures. To say our lives have been hectic the last few weeks would be an understatement. Especially since we have been trying to find time to pack, move, work, and be full-time students.

It should all calm down on Friday--our big move is Saturday so I am taking Friday off of work to finish up packing and take one more small load over to the new apartment. In the meantime, I have a horrendous mass transport exam looming in my immediate future: 6 pm.

Oh, I'm sorry... what?
Don't ask me to explain to you what that picture means because I don't know. Which is probably a really big problem. Did I also mention that if you get more than 1 grade less than a B in your graduate program the university has grounds to kick you out? I have a feeling this isn't going to end well. I'm praying I won't need to drop the class as a result of this one exam because I've come too far. I've worked too hard and put in way too much effort. /end pity party

Needless to say, I will be a much bigger ray of sunshine once this beast is off my plate. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

perks of being puerto rican

Okay, I may not be biologically Puerto Rican (some say I have the stereotypical, loud Puerto Rican personality, though!) but Jon is 50% Puerto Rican.

One perk to being married to a true blooded Puerto Rican? HOMEMADE PLANTAIN CHIPS! I guess Weight Watchers will wait today...

I don't know how I survived 20 years without tasting plantain chips.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

fellowship & adorable kids

Today we were fortunate enough to have a half-day of recreational fun. I'm still astonished as I write that, shocked by our elusive fortune. But before I get to that...

Last night after work I had to run to campus to get some help on a homework assignment that's due Monday. By the time I got out of downtown it was nearly 5:15. Once I got home Jon and I ate (Greek chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh green beans) only to rush around the apartment packing more items. Jon's dad came over to help us load up some cars and then we headed over to the new place. I proceeded to unpack our boxes while Jon's dad showed him how to install light fixtures. It was nearly 9 by the time we left. Exhausted barely describes how I felt once we got home.

This morning we had the privilege of sharing breakfast with our friends Heather and Paul who are probably less than 3 weeks away from having their first baby. It was a great time of fellowship and some much needed laughter. We even managed to convince our friend Natalie to let us drop in on her and her two beautiful daughters for a little bit to continue the laughter. The highlight of that was when Brooke, who is 2, asked Paul if she could see his belly. When he showed it to her she yelled, "EWWWW!" So. perfect.

Unfortunately our fellowship had to come to an end because Jon and I have more homework than usual this weekend. I found time to write this entry because I am stuck and awaiting email guidance from my professor in order to finish this assignment off. While waiting for her response I get to pack more boxes. I am so, so, SO tired of boxes and packing and running up and down several flights of stairs.

I'm hoping to post pictures of our new apartment once we've fully moved in, but in the meantime, a preview:

Our new kitchen, pre-move/pre-nesting

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

adventure nostalgia

I haven't traveled to many places in my lifetime, especially out west. The only time my family went that way was when my dad had a photography conference in Las Vegas. I was probably about 6 or 7, so as you can suspect, there wasn't exactly a lot for me to do out there.

Backstory: in March of my senior year of high school, Jon moved to Arizona for about 8 months to complete an audio recording program at The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Tempe. Those 8 months were easily some of the most difficult of our relationship, especially considering while Jon was in Arizona I moved to Chicago for school. Luckily, he managed to swing an audio internship in the Windy City so we could be reunited in November... just in time for his birthday! Glorious.

Anyway, during one of my 3 visits to Arizona (I was a very spoiled girl), we elected to drive to San Diego to go to the zoo and stay with Jon's cousin, Chris. Because, you know, 19-year-old logic states San Diego is only a few hours from Tempe.

We couldn't leave until after 7 pm (when Jon's class ended) so I drove from his apartment to school to get him at the conclusion of the day. It was horrifying. I never want to drive in an unknown city like Tempe alone again. I miraculously made it to his school in one piece and we began our journey.

Here's the problem: when you put me in a situation where I am riding in a car, and it is 90+ degrees outside, and it is after 4 pm, I can and will fall asleep, no questions asked. In fact, this effect is so great I often cannot overcome it.

So here we are driving through the desert, right next to the US/Mexico border, in complete darkness save the occasional border security checkpoint or random prison. We didn't realize we were close to Mexico until we saw a sign that read, "MEXICO: NEXT RIGHT" (at which point Jon began to freak out and yell, "BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO TO MEXICO!!!!" over and over again). At another point while I was passed out, Jon woke me because we were driving through the creepiest little town we've ever seen. Everything was spaceship themed. The McDonalds, the motel. And there were absolutely no. visible. people. around. I shudder at the thought.

We finally made it to San Diego and crashed for the night. I don't know how I continued to sleep through the whole night because I think I slept the entire 4.5 hour trip. We embarked on our journey to the zoo first thing the next morning. On our way there, the car broke down. Well, the tire more or less fell off without falling off. This was divine intervention, though, because had we broken down in the desert (or that creepy alien town) I think we would have been murdered or abducted. Plus, Chris happened to be an airplane mechanic in the air force so we got towed to base (what what Triple-A!) where he and his buddies fixed our ride. And we still managed to make it to the zoo:

Check out that mane!!
I'm hoping we will have plenty more adventures like this throughout our marriage because I think we could both benefit from some excitement in our lives. This work/school routine is wearing on us!