Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Married and Happy--NOT Smug

I ran across an article posted on the blog Jezebel, which I admit I spend too much time reading, about people who ask single people why they aren't married yet. Jezebel says they expect it from mothers, but this article in the San Jose Mercury News claims that it's even worse coming from "smug marrieds," a term coined by Helen Fielding in Bridget Jones's Diary (which I loved). My first thought which sprung to mind was, "Who are these abominably rude people who ask such personal questions?" I can understand if it's someone who's been in a relationship for a long time but has yet to tie the knot, but to ask that question of single, unattached friends? Not very friendly!

I know from experience that finding and marrying someone is not as simple as flipping a switch. If it weren't for Erich, I was prepared to live a life of spinsterhood--I even joked about looking into becoming a Lutheran nun or just getting two cats and watching them become many, many cats who would keep me company in my life of loneliness. I don't even like cats that much. And I can't have been the only person who wondered if I was gay in my long 22 years without a boyfriend. But I don't like girls that much--definitely straight. For me, the right person had to come along. And believe me, I put up plenty of stumbling blocks for Erich to test his worthiness, and he leaped over all of them without blinking. And that is why we are now married.

But if that hadn't happened, would I be getting nosy questions like that now? My instinct says no, but based on the comments on Jezebel, way too many single women are asked why they are single. There could be some cultures (East Coast? UK?) where such personal, invasive questions are considered acceptable conversation. I can't really make a judgment on that; I only know that in my family and culture, people aren't so nosy.

And yet, in reading the article, I found what seem to be very one-sided claims.

The first:

"Marriage: The Good, the Bad and the Greedy," a study published by the American Sociological Association in 2006, found that marriage can lead to a reduced number of social connections for couples outside of their relationship. In turning the marital bond into something of a social oasis, the recently hitched are less inclined to meet with friends.

No kidding? Well, do you think, sociologists, that maybe it's because these people decided to marry the one with whom they like to hang out the most? And they're enjoying being with that person? Plus, it says "recently hitched." Maybe they are actually kinda busy doing things like figuring out yours, mine, and ours; merging finances and figuring out a budget and short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. There is more to the "honeymoon stage" then just staring at each other, all googly-eyed. And a marriage that will last will also make sure it can stand on its own two feet in this early stage. And lastly, the recently married will probably be thinking/talking about when to start a family. It may just be that the late night drinking and partying is, for the most part, over for this couple. And this is by choice.

And the second one-sided claim:

Or as musician Alesandra Valenzuela, 34, of San Jose, Calif., discovered, they'll take it a step further.

Valenzuela, who is unmarried, said she noticed recently that the behavior of a couple she knew before their wedding shifted when they returned from their honeymoon. In their home stocked with such bridal gifts as a fancy tea set, the newlyweds were suddenly dismissive of Valenzuela.

"They acted all proud of themselves," said Valenzuela, a singer/songwriter. "They acted like they had all of their pieces together and I was stuck eating frozen pizza and living in a house with laundry on the floor. Something changed."

Well, Ms. Valenzuela, I'm not sure evidence like that will hold up in court where your friends stand trial of being more distant since their wedding. Seems mostly a problem with perception, a problem with which I am all too familiar. Proud of themselves? Do you think maybe they're just happy and you're a little bit jealous? On the other hand, if they really think they're happier than you could ever be by virtue of the fact that they have a fancy tea set, there's nothing to be jealous about. Case dismissed.

What all this seems to boil down to is that friendships change when someone gets married. Friendships can change for a lot of other reasons too. The most obvious example is school friendships: I had many friends in high school that I stopped having much in common with when we went off to different colleges. I had even better friends in college who have gone their separate ways--we didn't really stop being friends, but we can't see each other as often in part because of geographical distance, but also because we don't have certain things in common that drew us together, like sharing classes, a major, or a dormitory. Graduation forces these changes and while it's painful, we adjust. Marriage forces change as well, but it's on a much more individualized time frame. Good friends will still make time for each other. But married people will gravitate toward married friends; parents will gravitate toward parents of kids the same age.

"Smug" is in the eye of the beholder. Singletons, please hesitate to judge an attitude as "smug," when it may be just "happy" colored by a little bit of jealousy.

Disclaimer: There are probably a ton of people out there who get married for the sole purpose of being married and smug about it. I don't want to diminish those who deal with these truly annoying people. I speak only from my own experience.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


It's almost Thanksgiving, so I want to make a quick post about Halloween. It was fun! Melissa had a party the Saturday before at her home/my former place of residence. I decided to go as Marilyn Monroe and Erich was a redneck. Here we are, posing at the plex:

And one at the party:

On Halloween day, I met Tim, Erin, and Alayna at my parents' house where Alayna went trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. She looked adorable in her dinosaur costume (though she refused to wear the headpiece), and I decided to go along and take pictures.

I'm pretty sure she's making a dinosaur noise here.

First house! Practicing saying "Trick or treat!" (which sounded more like "go-ko deet!")

"They're giving out candy! Finally my cuteness pays off!"

A ghostly encounter

I also had an opportunity to take nice pictures of the beautiful fall foliage. Most of it has finally blown off the trees by now.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hawai'i, Part 5: Pearl Harbor

My honeymoon posting has lapsed a bit, but I am spurred on by an email from Sarah.

Our first day back from the Big Island, we totally relaxed, and that was very nice. The second day, Tuesday, we drove to Pearl Harbor for a wonderful experience in history. Visiting Pearl Harbor was not so much about excitement as embracing our country's history and fully realizing the impact that the tragedy of December 7, 1941 had on the world.

Now when I say it wasn't about excitement, that's mostly because I, personally, do not get excited usually about military-related things and battleships and such. Some do; I think Erich does. In any case, I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot, and for good reason, Pearl Harbor is ALWAYS. ExTREMEly. Crowded. September/October is the slow season for tourism in Hawai'i in general, but the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial is always packed. We got there mid-morning and had to wait more than two hours before we were able to take the boat over to the memorial itself. In the meantime, we toured the U.S.S. Bowfin, a submarine from WWII and a submarine museum. Afterward, we toured the U.S.S. Missouri, the battleship that helped to avenge the Arizona. I'll try not to inform much further, lest I reveal how paltry my knowledge of history really is. Let's get on to the pictures (it's hard to pick from so many!):

Here's the USS Bowfin.


This was the most spacious sleeping quarters. Holy cow.

This is way bigger than the stand mixer we just got with wedding gift cards.

Can you imagine this being a normal day?

Same memo from above with other pleasant mealtime "reading" material.

Doorway. Can't tell how small it is?

Here's Erich going through the doorway.

He was so tan!

Rockin' the audio tour.

How cool am I? I'm so cool, I got a photo of the view through the periscope.

One-man Japanese suicide torpedo. Chilling.

The main courtyard, where we waited to catch the boat to the memorial.

Approaching the USS Arizona Memorial. The smaller white structures mark sites of other sunk ships.

66 years later, oil from the ship still leaks up to the surface.

The ship isn't even fully submerged, but that fact didn't stop the ship from becoming a coffin for almost 1200 people. Silence was observed in the memorial out of respect for the dead.

One of them was a Keller.

It's a beautiful memorial.

On the "Mighty Mo'":

That is one large vessel.

And now I close with some girly flowers and rainbows:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tagged Again!

From Cheryl again. I love being tagged:

Devise a list of 5-10 courses you would take to fix your life. It's more fun to be in classes with friends, so include one course from the person who tagged you that you'd also like to take. Tag five.

I can think of so many, so I'll pick the first 5-10 I think of!

1. Economics. Ever since I spent a semester in Germany where I contemplated globalization, I've been very fascinated in economics. An intro class would help me understand if I really like it beyond the ideas. (In other words, it may involve too much actual math for my taste.)

2. French. I took four years in high school and three semesters in college, but a lot of it has already flown out of my brain. I would love to join some kind of conversation club with vocab reviews to keep my French alive.

3. Piano pedagogy. I'd like to supplement my teaching experience with actual teacher training. Also, sometimes I think it would just be nice to start over and re-learn piano to fix my technique and realize my potential as a performer. That will probably never happen. But if someone ever hands me a million dollars, I'd want to make sure that's in the budget.

4. On the music vein, musicology. I've always been super fascinated by music history, especially early music, as in J.S. Bach and earlier. If I had all the academic time in the world, I'd become a total musicology geek.

5. Basic accounting. There's got to be better ways to keep track of finances than how I do it.

6. Cooking. I'd like to learn a little more about the basic sciences of food to hone my cooking skills.

7. I'd take that sewing class with Cheryl. I used to sew for fun in high school, but it was always straight lines and never from a pattern, and it would be fun to be able to make real clothes.

Seven is good. I could probably come up with ten more that would be really fun, such as knitting and photography, but I'm not sure if those would actually "fix my life."

And now for tagging: pianomomsicle, Anne, and whoever else reads this and wants to join in the fun!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hawai'i, Part 4: The Big Island (Days 2&3)

If I could use only one hyphenated word to describe our trip to the Big Island, I would easily choose "action-packed." We did so much!

We started by checking out of Volcano House which was bathed in incredibly thick vog, or volcanic fog. It. STUNK. I found it really disturbingly noxious. But, hey, now we've experienced vog. Yay.

As we drove down Chain of Craters road, the vog cleared to reveal a beautifully sunny day. The views were absolutely stunning. The first batch of pictures here shows my fascination with bright green ferns persistently growing out of the cracks in the lava. You can tell how long ago the lava flows were by how big and plentiful the vegetation is, and in some cases you can see the border between destruction and life. Enjoy:

Pahoe'hoe lava (the awesome kind)

The trees in the distance were spared.

We didn't dare take these with us, lest we suffer the wrath of Pele.

Right here is some of the newest land on the planet, bordered by the largest ocean.

We hiked to these petroglyphs, carved by the early Hawai'ians hundreds of years ago. They may someday be covered over with fresh lava.

Lava was flowing out of here until this past July.

We left Volcanoes National Park by late morning and continued to the southern tip of the island. On the way we found something remarkable on the side of the highway: four Hawai'ian geese, also known as the nene. The nene has come back from the brink of extinction, but there are still only about 500 of these birds in the world, all in Hawai'i. I was pretty stoked to have just happened upon them.

We found the coast and a black sand beach and had to get out for pictures.

Click for a larger image.

On our way to Kailua-Kona on the west coast, we stopped at Blue Sky Kona Coffee Company and had a short tour of the plantation. Here's a picture of a coffee tree:

When we got into the town, the second largest on the Big Island, we stopped for our other favorite type of brew at the Kona Brewing Company:

We decided to go ahead and try one of each. :)

We stopped at a grocery store and bought a pound of poke for our dinner. Most things in Hawai'i are more expensive than on the mainland, but there is definitely no way we can get ahi tuna for only $6.99/lb here in Chicagoland. We also bought some frozen peas to keep it cold while we high-tailed it to Waipio Valley on the north side of the island to see the famous Pololu Lookout. We got there just as the sun went down and had enough time to snap this picture:

We had heard that the Big Island of Hawai'i is home to all but two climate types (tundra and steppe are the exceptions, I believe, but don't quote me on that), and having driven around the entire island, we definitely found that to be the case. It is just beyond fascinating to me to actually drive through so many different climates within one day in a relatively small area of the planet. We ate our poke in the dark and drove the rest of the way to Hilo, where we stayed the night in what turned out to be a pretty shady hotel. The next morning we had our helicopter tour of the island. We were nearly doomed, however, when the flight was canceled due to rain and extensive cloud cover. But very luckily, we were able to reschedule for an afternoon flight which was NOT canceled, and everything worked out well. The ride was spectacular and took us to the current lava flow site, which is only accessible by air. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos, but we did get a DVD of what we saw, and it suffices adequately. Sunday evening we flew back to O'ahu. And thus ends our Big Island adventure!

I shall leave you with a video of the nene, because I just realized that I can: