Friday, July 13, 2018

Lessons from Genesis

This summer, the women's ministry at my church is studying the first eleven chapters of Genesis. It's been interesting and refreshing to learn new things about the text. Here's a list of some of the things from the various meetings that have stood out to me as the meetings have gone on.

* The Bible does not hold the only real stories of God - we have our own too and need to tell them
* What parts of Genesis makes God more personal? He talks to man directly, creates a good place for them to live, good things to eat, and gives them a job to do.
* Offering man the free will to choose to eat from the tree of good and evil was the only way love was possible for God. Sure, he could have created a puppet man who wouldn't sin, but that wouldn't be creating a man with the freedom to choose to obey and choose to love.
* Work shows us our need for rest
* Be clear about which restrictions are from God, and which are not. Humans can add restrictions (i.e. don't touch the tree) with good intent, but those are not the real restrictions
* Man and women are more described as alike in the scriptures than different. Contempt grows out of hunting for the differences. Different, yes, but complementary
* God provides for pleasure and needs, not just needs, in Genesis
* It's a sign of God's grace that he asked "where are you" after the fall, instead of a lecture
* It's a sign of God's love that man didn't just instantly perish after sinning, but he continued to pursue them, even though he was the wounded party in their relationship.
* Even in God's punishments, he doesn't create or condone sin - so God's giving power to the husband is not condoning husbands who abuse their wives, to be clear!
* There is hope in the actions after the fall - naming Eve is a hope for the future of the living
* God providing garments is a sign of his continued care even after they have sinned
* God's mercy was not contingent on asking for forgiveness, it was provided immediately
* God working for good means making you more like Christ, not making you more happy

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day without Dad

Disclaimer: I didn't proof-read this post at all, it's just a stream of thoughts as I'm trying to be open about where I'm at with grief. This is me, as my pastor called it, "digitally bleeding".

Today is Father's Day, the first Father's Day without my Dad. It's a day that people expect me to have lots of feelings, and I do, but I want to clarify that my grief is not deeper or harder on this day, because at the moment, it's hard all the time. In fact, today might be easier than other days because I'm intentionally trying to be careful of my feelings when on other days, the moments might build up without my realizing it. For example, yesterday I went to a Junior Orioles dugout club game with my three youngest sisters - tickets my Dad purchased with the hope of being able to go himself this summer. I think when he bought them, he knew the likelihood that he'd attend the games was slim, but he was hoping he might. So being there without him, I missed him. Working at APL, things have been changing - people retiring, getting new jobs, and other things. Changes that I used to discuss with my Dad regularly. I miss his advice and insight and history with these people, his perspectives on our shared workplace. I miss his general interest in what was going on in my life. My sister told me that in going through his computer files, she found a file called "phone notes" where he had detailed notes from the phone conversations he'd had with each of us. That's how my Dad was - super detail oriented, taking notes in every conversation, thinking on those notes later on and providing new thoughts later.

I'm unsure if it's fair to call what happened to us a "tragedy". We had time with Dad after his diagnosis, longer, statistically speaking, than we were supposed to have. But it still wasn't enough. There were and are still so many things we lost out on. And even though those years were a gift, they were a gift tainted by cancer. I have a hard time pulling from my memory banks a moment not colored by cancer with my dad. I have to go pretty far back to get one, because we've just been dealing with it for that long. And I think that is tragic. That is hard, and it's painful, and while no, it's not a car crash or an unexpected death, it's still earlier than seems fair, Dad's still leaving a big hole behind, and in that sense, I think calling this a tragedy is valid. So, I have lived through a tragedy. Now what? Culturally I feel expected to pick up the pieces and move on. There isn't even a word for me - my mom is a widow, but as she is still alive, I am not yet an orphan - but yet I have experienced this change in my family status. Half-orphaned? Not a thing. And I'm not a little child at home that was left without a caretaker - I'm grown and married and taking care of myself, but yet I have still experienced this tragedy. And I don't know what to do with those feelings. I find myself apologizing for falling apart. It's incredibly inconvenient to find something that makes me miss my dad in the middle of the workday and have to hide my tears there. It's hard on my husband (who has been a champ at supporting me) that his previously optimistic and happy wife sometimes bursts into tears for apparently no reason, or that things will suddenly make her sad that before were totally innocuous. Grief is terribly inconvenient for everyone in present day American society, because we haven't made space for it. Back in the day, women were expected to wear black for months in mourning - not something we do anymore! We have moved past being a culture that grieves, but as a person, I am still mourning my dad - so what do I do? How do I approach his death?

My remaining thoughts on death and this loss are from the perspective of a Christian, so you may want to skip the rest of this post if you're not comfortable with that.

I have been thinking a lot on the concept of heaven, for obvious reasons. I think it is supposed to be comforting to think that I will see my Dad in heaven again. I have a hard time wrapping my head around what that means though. If there is no marriage in heaven (scripture says that), how will the fact that I'm a product of my parent's marriage be represented? Why should I get to have my relationship with my Dad preserved if my Mom does not? What memories will I have, what memories will Dad have, and how will we relate to one another? I have been talking to other Christians about this and really, the answer is that the Bible isn't as detailed about heaven as it could be. Some of it is left to imagination, some of it I will wonder about for the rest of my life. What I have been told is that what is beautiful here is a reflection of what is there, and our relationships with each other are part of what is beautiful here. Some knowledge of relationships here on earth will be preserved there. But even that I have a hard time thinking about, because my relationship with my Dad has always been colored by both his sin and mine. While I miss my Dad in many positive ways, there are some things I don't miss, some memories of his shortcomings on display. And a Dad with no faults is hard for me to imagine. Yesterday, Ryan and I watched the new Netflix movie, "Set It Up", which had this saying, "Like because, Love despite". You like someone because of their good features and love them despite the bad. They have this and that sinful characteristic, "And yet..." (another line from the movie), you love them. That's the view of love that we have here on earth. Love is caring about someone, accepting them, faults and all. And I don't think that's a bad view of love. I loved my Dad, and he loved me, despite his faults and despite mine. He was open about his own faults and tried to help me correct mine. But the relationship we're promised in heaven is one where we don't have to "love despite" - we will just love, because there will be no faults in the perfect presence of God. And honestly, my earthly self is afraid of that, of what that will be like. I don't understand what it will be like, having always lived in a fallen world, and that doesn't seem comfortable. I think this is part of what everyone fears in death - even those who believe in a life with God after death fear the fact that it is unknown to us. It is promised to be better, but it's not what we know, so we don't want to leave this life.

Another thought I've been having in processing all this is about God's plan for our lives. Christians tend to quote Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 about the plans of God, that he works all things together for good and that he knows the plans he has for us. And many of them follow that by saying that they know God has a plan for good for us in all of this and we just can't see it yet, that he foresaw this happening and that somehow this is a part of his perfect plan. I'm going to say I don't think that's true. Not that I don't think God has a plan, not that I don't think God's plan isn't good. I just don't think that God's perfect plan involved my Dad dying when he did. I can't believe that God's perfect plan involved leaving my sister Isabel, who is nine, without a Dad (or any of the rest of us, but her most of all being so little). Cancer and my Dad's resulting death from it have to be a result of the fallen world, not a perfect one. The perfect world would have been one where Adam and Eve didn't sin, where we all lived together without death, without illness, what heaven will ultimately be. I have to believe that God is sad for us, that he didn't want this. I'm not doubting that he saw it long ago but I have to believe he didn't choose it because why would a good god allow this? This is something I'm still grappling with, so this probably isn't as coherent as it could be, but do you get my point? God didn't give man free will wanting him to choose to eat the forbidden fruit. He gave it out of love and continued to provide love even after we ate the fruit, but the perfect plan would have been to not eat it at all. And the resulting experiences of death of our loved ones is not what he intended.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Dear Sweet Sixteen Emily

Each year since I was 13, on my birthday I have written a letter to myself one, five, or ten years in the future (or all three, depending on how much time I have on that particular birthday). 

Read this post from 2015 for my reply to my 13 year old self at 23: 

I'm choosing to reply to my sixteen year old self today as well, because she asked me to. 

Dear Sweet Sixteen -
You have such confidence, starting your letter with "no matter what happens, it's the way God intended it to be". That was far easier to say at sixteen in your tragedy free life. How could you know that in ten years, you'd lose your beloved Daddy? You couldn't possibly have predicted that, but I can tell you that confidence in God's control will serve you well over the next ten years, and know that God can handle it when you don't know if that's true - he's still around in those moments too.

You ask if I remember my friend Bethany from high school. Yes, little Em, I not only remember her, but her mom, who drives you home so often and challenges your thinking in a polite but firm manner, also passed out of this life in the past year. And I have held onto her friendship because she has seen much of the same grief I've seen and is there when we need her, and has poured her life in to mine as I have poured ours into hers. We went to different colleges and she traveled all over the world, but something has held us together, and she sent me postcards from all over the world and I honestly couldn't be more grateful for the friendship that we have.

You talk about love, and the "brilliant feelings" that certain young men give you when they walk by, but say that you're "waiting for true love, like Dave and Julie have". First, let me say that Dave and Julie are pretty good examples. They shared their lessons on marriage with me and Ryan when we got married, and one of the lessons was that it won't always be "brilliant feelings", or as Dave said it "there's not always going to be fireworks". Marriage is challenging, but rewarding. It's waking up every day next to the man you promised to support and partner with forever and choosing each day to continue to love and support him, as he chooses to love and support you. So while yes, sometimes he gives me the "brilliant feelings", mostly he's just a good person who takes care of me while I take care of him and we are happy together. (also, why are you so overly poetic? just say it's a crush!)

You ask about all your friends - some have naturally faded away, and that is OK. Some are closer than ever, but I talked about that when I wrote back to us at thirteen. In general, friendships are a two way street - you can put in a lot of effort, and some people just won't put the effort in back. Those people are not worth it, just let them go. The ones that put effort into relationships with you, those are worth it. Like my friend Christina (who you haven't met yet), or Lindsey, who you have - those are relationships that are easy to maintain because you both put in the effort to stay in touch.

In the end you ask about family - our siblings, our cousins, am I living with Mom and Dad - and again, I can't help but see how you take Mom and Dad for granted. You assume I'll still have the choice of being with both of them because why wouldn't I? I'm sure the day you wrote this, you and Dad had lunch or dinner together, just the two of you. I don't get to do that today, and I miss it. As I move forward, I'm going to try not to take Mom for granted.

Enjoy your teens, little Em. Daddy calls you his rosebud - I guess I'm a fully blossomed rose, with some thorns in my life, but mostly a full life, a bright rose.
- Emily at 26

Saturday, May 12, 2018

After Dad's Service

Today was Dad's memorial service. I was dreading it all week, knowing there would be a huge number of people in attendance and that I would feel like I was on display for everyone there. And there were a LOT of people there. And there was a lot of noise and a lot of talking and a lot of people asking how I was and if I was OK and telling me what a great man they thought he was and needing to be thanked for coming. But mostly, it was better than I had anticipated. Those who spoke on his life spoke eloquently on their memories of him and worked to highlight his strengths. And while a few moments of the things that people said caused tears, I was mostly fine. So that was good.

My Uncle Dan wrote a great message in the guest book. Paraphrasing, he said that we can't let this illness be what we remember of David - rather, we have to remember him how he was. This was a good message to read, as it has been especially hard for me to recall anything more than the his final months recently. Not that I don't have other memories, but the reality of the end of his life and what it was like is so much more vivid to me, because of the strain of it, and because of how recently it occurred. So I'm working to remember other things, better things, moments not shadowed by cancer.

I am acutely aware of the lack of his presence some times. When my sister flew in from TN, and we were all in one room, save for Dad, at that moment I felt a keen sense of loss. Yet in other moments, I feel as if nothing has changed, except that I feel a general sense of sadness, a cloud that's with me because I know that my dad is gone, even if I don't miss him in that moment. I can't pinpoint why I'm sad, or what made me sad, I just feel this cloud descend every so often. In the past week, I have thought of a number of things over the days that I would loved to have told him - things about APL, and about what I'm doing there, things about church, and things just about my life in general. But I also don't feel the same heavy weight of grief that I felt watching him in the last two weeks of his life. I feel a sense of peace, and a sense that this grief is different from what I felt before. It's easier to carry around with me. It's more manageable. It will be with me for a long time, perhaps even the rest of my life, but it will be gentler. The crashing waves have mostly passed, for now.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Series of Rhyming Couplets

I feel like most people know, but if you don't, my Dad passed away this past Friday.
Everyone keeps asking me about it. I am not a very good poet, but it felt like a poem moment.

"How was your weekend?" they say.
And mostly, I just say "okay".

Because I don't want to see pity in their eyes.
I don't want to hear "oh, I'm so sorry" and sighs.

I loved my Dad, I love him still, no questions there.
But I don't know how I feel and I don't want to share.

My dad was certainly great, I can agree.
But death doesn't make a saint, by any decree.

So don't make it like he was perfect because then I feel bad
For holding memories of moments that were sad.

There were things today I wish he could be told about,
Yes, I'm gonna miss him, I have no doubt.

But I don't feel like crying and I'm mostly fine.
And I'm sorry if that doesn't fit with your line.

You have to remember, we were given a warning
Time to prepare for this kind of mourning.

You must keep in mind that I truly believe,
That there's something greater, a precious reprieve.

Realize our feelings of loss started a while ago,
When I learned just how fast cancer could grow.

And many of you say, yes, the gospel, that's the hope,
But you still must feel some need to cry and to cope?

I know you all mean well and I do feel that love,
But I can't get where you want with a push and a shove.

I don't need you just yet, but I know that I will.
So, friends, please wait a while. Just chill.

You can't tell me how to grieve, you can't tell me how to feel.
Just leave me alone, I'll come to you, let me heal.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Poem about faking it

Thanks for your overwhelmingly supportive response yesterday to my post. Perhaps I should give the people I work with the same chance to be supportive. This poem highlights how I struggle with how to tell the news to people at work. The expected dialog goes "Hi How are you? Fine, How are you?", which explains the poem title.

I'm Fine.
"Hey, Emily, how's it going/how are you?"

People pass me in the hall and ask
like it's nothing
expecting nothing
wanting nothing
on their way to the next meeting.

Should I tell them?
say my head is aching
my heart is breaking
my hope is shaken
for the last week
all has seemed bleak
Dad can't draw a full breath of air
but do they really care?

Should I say I need Jesus?
use this moment to shine,
draw a religious line,
say, here's where I stand
My God's got a plan
and I may not understand
but he is there,
he is strong,
he's been holding us all along?

And while all this is rushing through my head, they're smiling. they're waiting.
The social pressure to not be vulnerable presses on me like a weight and so I say...

"It's good."
"I'm fine."
"How are you."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How God is Meeting Me Where I'm At

If you don't know, my Dad has been checked into Hopkins Hospital since last Wednesday. It's been a rough week as they try to solve the buildup of fluid around his lungs making it difficult to breathe, to the point where he's on oxygen. And I have been having a rough week, emotionally, as a result. But this post is about a couple of the ways, in the past week, that God has met me in the midst of all this.

I wrote a sad/angry/emotional blog post early yesterday evening (which I have since decided not to share), about how alone I felt, how angry I was, how I didn't want anyone else to even try to understand or comfort me. And then Ryan and I went to our neighborhood prayer group meeting. I have to admit, I was not in the head space I expected to be in for prayer group that night. I did not want to be there, I did not want other people to know Dad's latest news. But I went because I needed to do something besides sit at home and cry. Both of the other couples in the group have young children, and the smiles of children brought some light to my heart. I shared a few details while I was there (without crying) and God knew where I was at and gave my friend the words to say in her prayers that touched on exactly the struggles I'd been facing, and reminded me I'm not alone in the grief and pain.

That night, after prayer group, I fell back into my pool of grief and pain. (Side note - my husband has been absolutely amazing throughout all of this and I am 100% glad I'm married while this is happening so I can hang onto his anchoring presence). In the midst of my emotions, I texted another good friend of mine that I was drowning in the pool, and she immediately texted me back a prayer to me right there, saying "Help (Emily) know your compassion and empathy...We trust you to enter her pain". And I fell asleep, exhausted, with a migraine from my tears. Her text helped because I wasn't being told that my feelings didn't count, or that I was being selfish (which is what I had been telling myself) - I was being told that it is something completely understandable, and being told to open my hurting heart to let God in, not to erase grief, but to sustain me through it.

Thank you, those of you who are praying for us. I'm going to say it here in my blog post now because I might not be able to say it later. I'm not always able to appreciate what it means for other people to be praying for us, because I'm so wrapped up in what I'm feeling, I don't want to let anyone else in.

I have been listening to the Daily Audio Bible this year, and on two of my roughest days, the scriptures from Daily Audio Bible were exactly on point. The first scripture was from Feb. 21st, on the day that Dad went into Hopkins. It was Psalm 38, which is described as a petition of David. Parts that specifically stood out that day were verses 7-9  "My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you" and the end, verses 21-22 "Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior."

The bit about the back filled with searing pain reminded me of one part of Dad's situation, since he has been dealing with back pain for quite some time, and the sighing not hidden from you hit me for my whole family, processing and coping with where things are at right now. The cry in verse 21, "Lord, do not forsake me" I can feel strongly, because I often feel like God's not hearing my cries. And I'm trying to get to the point where I can pray "come help me", to let God in on my feelings.

Many people have told me they pray for miracles, for Dad to keep fighting on. And I think many of those prayers have been answered, since an initial prognosis of months has stretched into years now. I appreciate those prayers and I think we need those prayers but I can't pray those prayers (see this post from  when we first knew it was terminal:

I feel much the same as I felt when I wrote that - I haven't magically become better able to process cancer just because we've been dealing with it for a while. There were some great days in those past 2.5 years since I wrote that to when I'm writing this, yes, but I am having trouble seeing the hope right now. I feel like the Resistance at the end of The Last Jedi - things look bleak. Things feel hopeless. And then I listened to today's Daily Audio Bible. Today, they read Mark 9:1-29, which contains the story about the healing of a possessed boy. And for this passage, I zoned in on these words in verses 23 and 24: "If you can?" said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”" I still can't pray for a miracle. I'm afraid to let myself hope for one because when we don't get them, and the next disappointing news hits, I'll fall back into that pool of grief and pain, from a higher height, with deeper to sink. But I can pray that Dad might be able to get out of Hopkins this week. I can believe enough to pray that he'll be released tomorrow, be thankful for the people who can still pray for miracles greater than that, and pray that God meets me where I'm at to "help my unbelief".

I am figuring out what little, baby steps I can take. I can only pray for one more day right now. God, give me one more great talk with my Dad, one more chance to ask his advice. Even that, sometimes I feel is asking too much. Because I am one child of nine, and all of us need one more moment, one more basketball game, one more Christmas, one more  graduation, one more wedding - and it spirals into a what seems like a huge, impossible request, and I start crying for what we just won't get to have, for how limiting this is becoming, for things I feel like we've lost. And Dad's still here. I can't even begin to imagine how I'll feel when God finally says no to my requests for "just one more".

I'm still hurting. I'm just hurting within the presence of God now, instead of feeling alone.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Thoughts On Chinese New Year

I was talking to Ryan today about  Chinese New Year, and why it's so important to me, and why I make such a big deal about it every year. Here's some of what I processed with him, to process with you all, blog readers.

We used to go to the lion dance with Popo (my grandma) and uncles. I remember it was terrifying - even though I knew it was men under the costume, the big eyes scared me, and giving the lion money was the bravest thing I ever did as a kid. And then the lion would tear up and orange, and spit it at you! I don't remember how many times we saw that, but it was definitely more than one. And Popo give us lucky money in red envelopes. The week when Chinese new year and valentines day were the same were my favorites as a kid (like this year!). I'd get $2, one for Valentine's Day from Bestemor (my Dad's Danish mom) and one for Chinese New Year from Popo (my Mom's Cantonese mom).

There are a few things that make me feel super Chinese... dim sum, duck and Chinese New Year are the three highlights. (and jok after Thanksgiving). Sometimes other things, like eating tripe and chicken feet and liking desserts with bean paste come up as well, but those are the main three.

In particular, Chinese New Year makes me a little sad. I guess I make a big deal out of Chinese new year because it feels like a way to honor my grandma, a little.

My relationship with my grandma was good - I always knew she loved me because of how she fed me (she was an amazing cook and my Chinese food pales in comparison). She gave me lucky money for my birthday and for Chinese New Year, she always had a treat for me in her purse (candy or fruit), even just how she'd touch my hair showed she loved me, but she didn't speak English very well, and as a kid, I wasn't patient enough to listen carefully, so it wasn't a very deep relationship. So on Chinese New Year I think about how much of her culture and life I don't know about, and I try to make an effort to preserve what little I do remember, like red envelopes, dumplings, and oranges on Chinese New Year. It's important, but also a little sad that I don't know more to remember about her.

I was talking to my sisters Charissa and Isabel about it on the phone yesterday. They don't remember what she did at Chinese New Year at all. They don't know their zodiac signs by heart like I did (but we looked it up and learned that this year, the year of the Dog, is Charissa's zodiac year). I'm trying to preserve it, for myself and my sisters. I hung a red Chinese knot on my front door this morning. Red is supposed to "scare evil spirits away from the house". Ryan and I ate oranges and dumplings and long-life noodles tonight. I had red envelopes for my sisters, and my neighbor's children. I told my co-workers that it's Chinese New Year, to remind them that I come from Chinese roots, and I'm proud of that. I'm proud of being Chinese, and I loved my grandma, so I'm celebrating the Year of the Dog today. Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

5 things I love about Ryan

Dear blog-readers, for Valentine's Day I thought I'd post a sappy list of reasons I love my spouse. He doesn't read my blog so he won't see it, but the rest of you will know. They may not seem especially specific but they are things I value in him.

1) He's a protector
My spouse has this urge to protect people who he thinks are unfairly treated. I call it his "defender" or "white knight" tendency. He will always take the side of a person who is being picked on. This comes up most notably when we're volunteering for church nursery and he has a keen eye for figuring out who the "popular" three year olds are and which ones need a little extra attention, but applies beyond just kids. He's incredibly loyal to people he cares about and defends them above all.

2) He's a committed learner
When Ryan sets his mind to learning about something, he really learns it, and understands it, and works to get better at the things he's learned. He studies even though he's not in school anymore. For example, right now he's studying tax law because he's a volunteer tax preparer for low-income families and he wants to make sure he does it right.

3) He's health-conscious (& sexy!)
I would not workout as much as I do without Ryan. He's committed to taking care of himself through running and other exercise and it's inspiring (though admittedly sometimes annoying) me to be better myself. And of course, being fit makes him pretty easy on the eyes. ;)

4) He knows when to apologize
This sounds weird, but one of the things I love about Ryan is his awareness of his own sin. He's very conscious of it and is quick to apologize for those faults and works to fight against them and be a better husband, and I think that kind of self-recognition is a rare skill. Especially in white men who tend to have big egos.

5) He's funny and fun to be around
Ryan's introverted, so I think many of you reading my blog might not know him all that well. When you do get to know him well, he's really funny - he does a lot of silly voices (another thing that comes up when he plays with kids) and I love that. Sometimes (like today, when I was trying to take a nice photo and he kept doing silly faces) it can be over the top but mostly it's fun.

Bonus (because I couldn't limit to 5) - Ryan makes an effort to be a good listener and not interrupt someone when they're talking. The problem with this is that sometimes he gets frustrated with me for not ever giving him a turn to speak. In my big family, interrupting each other is a given - it's annoying, but a given. This makes it challenging for me to remember to listen to Ryan, but makes him an excellent listener when I need to think through something out loud.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Star Wars is for girls too!

I was at Target today, and I saw this display of cards:

Six "Cards for Kids" for valentine's day. How cute! But then I looked closer, and I noticed something:

The Yoda card was SUPER cute (it says "Be Mine, Will You?" on the inside!) but it's labelled "for a boy" (so is the super man one). That annoyed me a bit. I think Star Wars has made great strides to try to include powerful women (yay, Daisy Ridley!). So maybe we don't need to label the Yoda card as "for a boy" or the wonder woman card "for a girl"? And why is the wonder woman card PINK? Also, the Hello Kitty Card is pink - Hello Kitty is typically wearing a red bow, so why pink-ify her? The really annoying thing was that they DID have cards that weren't labeled by gender:

So why bother to label it at all, if there's the option of just saying "for kids"? Girls can like Star Wars too! Boys who are inspired by wonder woman can grow up believing in truth, justice, and loyalty. These cards weren't just letting kids be kids, they were forcing fandoms by gender.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Don't call me dear, and other general fuming

Today, I had a plumber come to look at a shower leak we've had going on at our house (it's an easy fix problem, phew!). He was really nice, and I'd definitely recommend his services, except that at the end, one thing bugged me. He handed me the invoice for his services and said "Ok, you're all set my dear!" 

Uh, what? We LITERALLY just met. And I'm a grown woman, not a little girl (though, I think if they're not your kid, it's a little presumptive to assume their parents are OK with you using that kind of intimate language). So, unless you're my Dad or my husband, you have no place to call me "your dear"

I'm giving this guy the benefit of the doubt that it was just a slip of the tongue and he didn't mean anything by it, but it's part of a systemic issue that women are "dear" and "sweetie" well past childhood while most guys loose similar terms, like "buddy" after teenage years.

Another story from this week - a former project manager of mine (it was a short-term task that's over now) has recently been featured in an APL wall mural. I congratulated her on it yesterday, and she said "oh yeah, my friends have asked how I got highlighted on that, with the APL founder and other old guys, and I said, you know what, they probably thought old white man, old white man, we need a woman between them, a woman who's maybe an ethnic minority, so they picked me".

She was downplaying it, which was probably some imposter syndrome, but also, she had a point - the mural IS focused on balanced race and gender. Which is fine, but if we're going to represent it on our walls, let's represent it in our halls too! Let's make sure our wall mural represents the reality of our hiring. I love where I work, and I think there are a lot of efforts to promote diversity of thought and diverse teams at APL, but now, the mural bothers me, rather than inspires me, because I feel like it was forcibly designed for graphic appeal, instead of dwelling on the awesomeness of my former manager.

Anyways. both those things were kind of bugging me so I thought I'd come and share my frustrations on my blog a bit. thanks for listening, folks!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Other New Year's Resolution Updates

I told you all how my quit is going, I bought the fabric and started cutting the diamonds - here are a few other updates on other resolutions!

- Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge
I learned that two of my younger sisters also decided to do this challenge, which forced me to pick some books towards my resolution, instead of reading the books in the rut! So, for a book of poetry, a play, or a collection of essays, I'm reading "Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give" by Ada Calhoun, as my collection of essays (thought I might use this as creative nonfiction and read a different collection of essays - we'll see!). For a book recommended by someone with great taste, I read John Scalzi's RedShirts, recommended by Wil Wheaton on his podcast.

- Daily Audio Bible
I have listened to 22 days of the DAB, but not always on the day I'm supposed to be listening to it (usually Sunday's DAB slips into Monday). It's been a lot of fun so far to listen to Genesis and hear the details of stories I know from Sunday School, but haven't read in a while, or to remember that in between the Sunday School stories are other weird things, like Lot's daughters giving up on humanity and laying with their own father, or Tamar, Judah's daughter-in-law, tricking him into doing as he promised by her. Lots of interesting stories in the Bible!

- Start a Podcast 
Well, I finally used my mic and figured out that if I speak a little lower than I normally do, I won't hate my voice as much. And I have a list of podcast episode topics lined up! So hopefully this will be coming to your ears soon. =)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

You Resolved, Now Commit: Learning to Quilt

One way to make sure you stick to things is to "put your money where your mouth is". As seen in my last post, I resolved to make a quilt this year. I have resolved this before and not followed through, so in an effort to follow through, I decided to buy the materials so that the investment of money would help incentive (read: guilt) me into doing it.

I had a Michael's coupon from buying my little sister a birthday gift, so today I went to their store, I found this book of simple quilt patterns (that specifically states that it is designed to help you use a craft store prepared 12 pack of fabrics) and flipped through it. I wanted a book rather than a Pinterest design because 1) I can't lose it online accidentally and 2) it's been reviewed by an editor (I've had many Pinterest fails over the years and didn't want to invest a lot of money into a Pinterest fail quilt).

I landed on the orange pattern above (called 12 Carrots) with the diamond shaped blocks. I love argyle fabric and this had a vaguely argyle feel. My sister Bethany's favorite color is orange, so I have the goal of finishing this quilt to give to her when she  graduates college next May (technically, I'm supposed to finish by December to meet my New Year's resolution, but I decided that if I just get the top done by December, and do bating next spring, I'll count it).

I am not a quilter now (I just read a lot about it - looking at you, Elm Creek Quilt book series!) so I had to get all the fabrics as well. I'm told that eventually, every quilter gets a huge fabric stash, and I guess I'm starting one, because finding orange squares that I liked was kind of hard! I ultimately bought two 12-packs of fabric, pulled out the ones with orange tones, and then got additional single orange pieces to get the 12 I needed for this project (the photo makes some of them look kind of brown due to my carpet - they're not, I promise!). Then I sorted the rest of the mixed fabrics by color for potential future quilt projects, if this goes OK and I want to try another one from the pattern book. Boxes were 50% off, so I got a trunk-like box with script printed on it to store all of my new stuff.

So, I'm now officially committed to Operation Learn To Quilt. I'll keep you all updated as it progresses throughout the year.

PS - this post was heavily inspired by my friend Natalie over at
She is way more coordinated with her sewing and general crafting than I am, and also a much more regular blogger, so if you liked this post, follow her regularly for more of this - because it's unlikely you'll get it from me. :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

My 2018 Resolutions

It's time for the annual New Year's Resolutions post! And this year, being 2018, marks the TENTH year of my telling you all about my goals to better myself in the upcoming year (see the first resolutions post, made at the end of 2008, right here:

I have always been a list maker and a very goal-oriented person, so new year's resolutions are fun for me, and not the drag they are for everyone else.

1) Make a Twin Bed sized Quilt
Very much inspired by a woman at my church, I have resolved to use the old sewing machine I have in my basement and make a quilt by the end of this year. Just one! Hopefully I can pull it off, I have 12 months to learn and do it!

2) Be a Better Neighbor (specifically by knowing the name of everyone on my street)
This one is inspired by the fact that Ryan and I have joined a group of local Christians to pray for where we live, and I want to actually know the names of the people we're praying for. My neighborhood is actually pretty social, but I am not so this is a stretch for me.

3) Do a sprint distance triathlon (Swim 750 meters, Bike 20 KM, run 5 km)
I can already do the bike and run portions (separately though, not on the same day!) but I'm a terrible swimmer, so I need to practice swimming and get fit enough to do them all in one day.

4) Sheryl Sandberg's journal challenge
Sheryl Sandberg's resolution last year was to write 3 moments of joy every day, and I loved it so I've resolved to do it myself.

5) The Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge
I love to read but tend to get stuck in a rut with the kinds of books I read. Challenges like this one pull me out of the rut.

6) Make pasta from scratch
Not a new resolution, but one that I'm hoping to try again this year!

7) Daily Audio Bible
I have time at work to listen to podcasts while programming, and so I'm going to try the daily audio bible app in addition to the podcasts, since my Dad uses it regularly. I'm hoping an app keeps me more accountable.

8) Use my 3D printer to make my own custom designed item
Ryan got me a 3D printer for Christmas, and I'm super excited. I'm resolving to make my own object and print it (not just print designs from the internet)

9) Start a podcast
I've had an idea for a long time to start a podcast and I even have a fancy mic for it, so I just need to get over hating the sound of my own voice recorded and start doing it! By the end of 2018, I want at least the first episode recorded, edited and released.

10) Clean Our Garage/Organize the Storage Areas
Ryan and I have a large house (for two people, at least) that can get messy and disorganized. We just recently started using the basement space. Now I want us to use the garage regularly, and that means I need to keep it neat! So my goal is to organize and clean the garage and other storage spaces so that we can use our house to it's maximum potential.