clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
When I came back from Norway to my home with Ben, he told me that life was a lot more boring without me. "When you are gone, I am just this guy at home, drinking beer and playing video games with his cats." An idyllic life to be sure, but one that is apparently nicer with a partner around. I like being told I add value.

Actually, I enjoy doing solitary things when Ben is at home more than I enjoy doing them when he's out. We'll get snacks for each other, or point out something cool to the other person, and overall it's just nicer. We hang out together a lot as well, obviously, playing games or watching shows or cooking, but I really value how compatible we are in terms of solo pursuits. I think it made my time spent raiding less of an issue than I have heard it can be for many couples, because Ben had plenty to do on his own as well.

And since we have two cats, we don't even have to argue over who gets the lap cat when gaming! Life is pretty sweet sometimes.


Feb. 22nd, 2012 04:41 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
I have been writing gratitude letters recently. I think it's partly due to feeling a bit isolated here, partly due to having to re-find basic necessities, and partly due to big life changes which have provoked some amount of looking back at previous stages.

I'm not writing to friends, long-lost or otherwise... mostly because I try to vocalize gratitude and love for the friends I keep in touch with, and the ones I'm not in touch with aren't so responsive. But maybe I should do some of that too. I wrote to my piano teacher when I lived in Berkeley, telling her what a great teacher she was and a wonderful person to make music with. I wrote to my favorite doctor at student health in Philadelphia, who I always requested and who took the time to explain things and listen. And I wrote to my undergrad physics major advisor, who was critical in getting me into Penn and who set a great example as a scientist who valued communication. I thanked each person and told them why I still think fondly of them, and I have gotten back really nice responses.

I can't help feeling that I should expand my gratitude letter scope. It's pretty, well, gratifying.


Dec. 12th, 2011 04:12 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
There are so many things I love about weekends here.

I love eating the food that Ben cooks for me, pot roast and pan-fried fish and stuffing and roasted potatoes and the like, and figuring out good beer pairings like oysters with Kelpie.

I love walking around or heading out to a market or hike if it's clear, and when it's rainy I love relaxing with some tea on our extremely comfortable couch, reading and sharing fun tidbits.

I love going to the greengrocer or the off-license with the great beer or the butcher or the health food store, because there are so many great little shops in our neighborhood. We can buy fresh scones around the corner every morning!

I love playing D&D remotely with our Philadelphia group. We started a new campaign where I play a bard, which means I can cut people with my words!

I love going for a low-key run and finding that I can go faster and faster without trying very hard, and coming home to hot soup and a shower.

And I love having our cats here!



Nov. 24th, 2011 11:24 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
It's a little odd to have, instead of a big family-oriented holiday, just another Thursday. But I love eating Thanksgiving food, so I've already got cranberries and Ben and I will likely make the full spread this weekend.

I have been reading a lot about gratitude recently, prompted by a podcast about happiness that I started listening to. I think I do a reasonable job of staying conscious of all the things I am lucky to have, and of communicating gratitude to people who deserve it (which is quite a lot of people). But it's interesting how essential gratitude is to a happy disposition (oh, I guess the New York Times just wrote about this as well).

One of the most exciting things to be happy for recently is the arrival of our cats! Our friend took care of them in Philadelphia through the end of their quarantine period, and they arrived here in Ireland last week, care of the pet transit company that Ben found. It was a long trip for them, so upon arriving here they were apparently more glad to be out of their carriers than nervous about the apartment. And they seem to be doing great! They are both very affectionate with us, they seem to be eating, drinking, and sleeping normally, and they are also playful as usual. I think it may have been harder to move them to our friend's house than moving them here, but then I didn't get to see their behavior when they were on the plane or getting driven around (which they usually do not like). And there is plenty of stuff here that they recognize, our belongings and us of course. It is very, very nice to have our cats back.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Recently I got asked to tell the tale of me and Ben. It is a nice story, and I know some of you have heard it before or were there for most of it, so you can fact-check my framing of this if you want. :) I will try not to ramble on for too long; a more detailed history is available under the ben tag.

Telling the story of how I met Ben actually starts with how I met [ profile] chih, who was later my college roommate and is still a wonderful friend. Read more... )
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
Edinburgh is, in a nutshell, exactly what I needed. I can't remember the last time a trip has done for me so perfectly.

And I still have a lot of trip to go! :D

sunny days

May. 20th, 2009 04:22 pm
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
Last weekend I finally got to take some time to relax, which was great. I lounged around the house, lifted weights for the first time since Providence and got really sore, made a strawberry rhubarb pie, read a bunch of old New Yorkers, etc. There was also a block party Saturday night, which was very very fun: it was the pet project of our neighbor who just graduated from a management program at Penn, who put the whole thing together and invited everyone on the block as well as his family and friends to celebrate his graduation. Everyone brought food outside, and our neighbor stocked a huge bar which we had in our backyard (our backyard has more space than his, and is accessible from a small alleyway so that we didn't have the hard liquor on the street, although a keg was out on the street). And there was live music! There was a flamenco guitar and percussion duo, and a trio with guitar, drums, and violin. It was a great time, and the audience was very diverse which was a blast.

I'm preparing a little more for the trip to Boston next weekend, which is exciting both in terms of professional opportunities and in terms of travel. We won't present all the new results we have since we haven't submitted our paper yet, but it'll still be a good experience (and we're working on the paper). I have the hotel and train tickets, and I think Steph and Scott, my friends in Providence, will be able to come up and see me. This has to be a record for the most times I've seen them in the space of a few months since we all lived in the same place.

Oh, and I joined the physics intramural softball team again this year. :) Our first game is this evening. I went to one of the informal practices and was glad to see that the big improvement in my skill over the course of the last season has persisted, i.e. I can still hit the ball decently and catch ok. I can't throw very far which is probably some combination of my poor upper body strength and lack of knowledge in throwing technique; I keep meaning to look up some information on throwing well but I never think of it when I have time. It's weird though because this time last year was right around when I started exercising a lot: during the last softball season I didn't lift weights and I didn't run more than 10 miles per week, and that irregularly, whereas now I do a lot and have run two marathons. That's cool when I stop to think about it.
clevermynnie: (Default)
There was a poem I used to love, by Adrienne Rich, but I forgot what it was called or about, just that it reminded me of the beautiful feeling of weekends with Ben. I am going through some old files, and I found it! Here it is, from Twenty-One Love Poems.


I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you've been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I've been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You've kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone . . .
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carried the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.


Nov. 23rd, 2008 09:41 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
It was great!

starting corral, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

halfway kiss, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

finish line, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

finisher!, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

I slept pretty badly last night, and our cab got lost this morning, but I was so excited I didn't feel tired, and we got to the starting area with plenty of time to check my stuff and stand in the very long bathroom lines. They had starting corrals based on the predicted finish time you give in your registration, and the start was in three waves to spread out the runners (there were about 18,000 overall, 16,000 of whom were running the marathon). Race-wise, I felt great for the first 15 miles, a little slower for 15-20, kept going but didn't feel very happy from 20-24, and then picked up speed and found a bit of energy to have a finishing kick at the end. I got very tired of the taste of sport beans and gatorade... in Manayunk, at mile 18 and 22, they had an unofficial beer aid station with bacon, cheese, and chips! But by that point I wasn't feeling awesome and I was afraid if I tried to down something like that, I might throw up.

The weather was chilly (low 30s) but otherwise fine: no wind or precipitation or anything like that. I wore an extra shirt because of the cold; my longest training runs were in the mid-40s, which is the average temperature for the Philadelphia Marathon but we are having a cold snap this year. One consequence of the cold, though, is that two of the water stations that were in the shade had black ice by the time I got to them, from people tossing water cups and the water freezing. We all had to slow down and walk very carefully!

The event was very well-organized, the volunteers were great, and I was amazed at how many people came out to cheer (even to cheer strangers!). Ben got up early to keep me company at the start, then went to a nearby train station to read for some time, then went back to see me at the halfway point, then back to the train station, then met me at the finish. :) My parents and a few of my friends plus Ben signed up to either get e-mails or text messages of my splits; it was useful for Ben so that he knew when to come back, and fun for my parents to watch. I came home to a lot of e-mails from them as they had tracked my progress.

I ran a 5:24, which isn't an impressive time but is in the range I was expecting. I am hoping this will be the first of many marathons and I can train to improve my time. But I'm very glad to have done it! I think if you consult guides and make a good training schedule, and stick pretty assiduously to it, it is not that hard to at least manage to finish like I did. I never thought that something like this was within my reach, but I feel very empowered and strong for having accomplished it (and along the way, gotten more active and managed to keep a running schedule with no training buddy).

So I am pretty sore now and rather tired, but very happy. Very, very happy.
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
Today is my birthday, as some of you have already noted (thanks! ♥), and I am spending it at work preparing slides for my literature review talk at our group meeting tomorrow. This is despite it being a university holiday, fall break, and my birthday! Oh well. This is still better than that birthday I had where I had a midterm, a talk, and a cold.

I did have a really nice weekend though. On Saturday Ben and I drove to Cape May, New Jersey; it is on the southern tip of New Jersey between the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay, and it has lots of nice beaches and Victorian houses. We started out at the Cape May Wildlife Refuge, on their beach and dunes trail, which was a 2-mile roundtrip with lots of plant identification placards and sea birds, and some tiny crabs and a big horseshoe crab skeleton. Ben kept picking up bits of crabs and poking me with them while I was trying to take pictures of them. Then we went to the Emlen Physick Estate, which has a big Victorian house that you can tour. They also had glassblowers and a mechanical organ outside. The inside of the house was beautiful and well-preserved, though unfortunately photos were forbidden. There was also a guy impersonating the original house's owner, who gave this short speech that was supposed to teach you about the time period. Ben said it well, that "it was like PBS assaulted me and I couldn't escape"; really hard to keep a straight face during something so cheesy. But it was interesting and the decor was really elaborate and cool. Then we went to the Cape May Point State Park, which had lots of trails along the beach and through a coastal forest, a big lighthouse, and lots of birds! Cape May is prime birding territory, with lots of birds' migration paths going through the area. We saw swans, egrets, sparrows, gulls, plovers, ducks, mockingbirds, and we actually saw a Cooper's hawk attack a group of sparrows, catch one, and drag it into the bushes to eat. (We saw this from a platform with maybe 30 birdwatchers and a couple park rangers on it who exclaimed about what was going on.) Then we went to Sunset Beach, which faces west over the Delaware Bay, and watched the sun go down while nearby, a couple got married and there was a flag ceremony using a casket flag from someone that died in WWII. The sunset was amazing.

I had a great time, but one fun part of the day is that I got a new toy for my birthday, a camera to replace the one I've had for 6 years. It is such a colossal improvement. What's funny, though, is that at such a big birding place and also at Sunset Beach, we saw so many multi-thousand dollar cameras that people had for their hobbies. Ha, well, I still like my new camera. :) The great zoom enabled a lot of photos that I just couldn't have gotten on my old camera. And it has lots of features I am already using, and a lot more for me to figure out.

photos! )

orange, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

So I'm officially 24 now. I am so happy with my life and the last year. I married my great love, I made a lot of progress and learned a lot in my job, I'm training for a marathon (I went 19 miles yesterday!) and in good and getting better shape, I adopted two sweet and wonderful cats, I grew tasty food in my backyard and made delicious food at home, I got to go to new places in the U.S. and outside of it (Crater Lake and Turkey, chiefly), I'm preparing a piano recital for December (more about this later), and I've gotten to see almost all my old friends recently because of the wedding and make some new ones too. It is easy to get frustrated with yourself or some aspect of your life you aren't happy with, or to be frustrated over circumstances you can't change. It's important to remember the good things, and to appreciate them as much as you can. And to always work for and aim for improvement, for a crescendo instead of an arc. To become more complex, more intricate, more knowledgeable and more balanced, able to see and connect as much as possible, to recognize beauty and joy and integrate them into yourself. There is wonder in all things.


Jul. 22nd, 2008 12:29 am
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
Going to bed to get up in the morning and fly to Mammoth. Love to everybody.


Dec. 23rd, 2007 10:46 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)

ring, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

Ben asked me to marry him, and I said yes.

Read more... )

six years

Oct. 5th, 2007 07:19 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)

ben and me, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

Six years ago, on a Friday night, was when I met Ben for the first time. We met through [ profile] chih, talked online a lot, and then he came to Berkeley to meet me. Since then we've both changed, definitely for the better, and I'm happy to say that we've both improved ourselves quite a bit for each other. We were long-distance for almost five years, with a few summers off, and now we've been living together for about a year. Ha, I mistyped that as 'loving together'. :)

I could say a lot of things, and I've said a lot of them a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago , five years ago. It is incredible to think that I've been with Ben more than a quarter of my life, and yet not, because it's hard to imagine not being with him. For a long time, we loved each other and we were so perfect together, but there was also this element of story. We were apart, it was tragic, and there was this ideal of someday, when we'd be together and live in the same place and cuddle up every night. And it seemed unachievable, and during my last year in Berkeley it started to wear on us, and yet here we are.

There are always more things for us to discover together, and Ben is so knowledgeable and so fun that I really feel I have the perfect companion. I love walking to campus together, watching weird shows together, going places and singing Feeling Groovy about a cemetery or something. I love how last night, as I was reading the New Yorker in bed, he snuggled into my back and fell asleep. I love Ben so much, and I'm so happy! There aren't words, but I don't need them anyways. :)

the path

Sep. 5th, 2007 03:29 pm
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)

path, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

This weekend, Ben and I spent the first two days doing chores and various things, mostly around the house stuff because I want my house to look nice for my mom. We're expanding our basement storage, we made coq au vin with this wine that tastes much more awful than last year, and we cleaned up a lot. And watched the 60s movie Bedazzled, which was strange and funny. Then on Monday, we drove up to the Poconos, to the Thunder Swamp trail. It's a 50-mile trail system, which we hiked about five miles of, in a very green and pretty, gently-rolling-hills kind of area. It's the sort of hiking environment that Ben loves: lush, fertile, with no particular destination. We saw several tiny frogs, a very large black snake, and small fish in a stream that flowed backwards under a bridge, making it terrible for pooh-sticks. And we found ourselves someplace quiet, where if you stop you can only hear insects, birds, and the wind.

creek falls, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

cape cod

Jul. 30th, 2007 07:08 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)

houses, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

My my my it’s a beautiful world
I like swimming in the sea
I like to go out beyond the white breakers
Where a man can still be free
(or a woman if you are one)
I like swimming in the sea

I drove up to Providence Friday night, and Steph and I drove to Cape Cod for the day on Saturday. I had heard it was a blast, and I expected to have fun. But I had, seriously, one of the best days ever. It was SO fun. Read more... )
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
It's been interesting, living apart from Ben after living together for nine months. reflections on compromise )

So as of right now, it's been five weeks since I saw Ben, and I'll be seeing him and lots of friends in Seattle this weekend. Then only four weeks until he moves back here. I'm happy and fine and enjoying myself without him, but it's so nice to talk to him on the phone or on WoW, and I'm really excited to see him. I've been going to dinner, doing laundry, running by the Schuylkill, packing, reading papers, and thinking about how wonderful it will be to hold him.

Skipping beats, flashing jeeps
I am struggling
Daydreaming, been sitting, the corner cafe
And I'm left in bits, recovered tectonic, trembling
You get me everytime

Why'd you have to be so cute
It's impossible to ignore you
Must you make me laugh so much
It's bad enough we get along so well
Say goodnight and go
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
One thing that's great about Philadelphia is if somebody visits you who likes to walk. When Joao and Gersende visited in October, we walked around the city a lot, and this time with Steph I had a pretty good idea of what routes to take that went by nice things. So we basically walked around and talked non-stop the two days she was here. :)

Saturday was beautiful, as previously mentioned, and after I met her at the train station and we had lunch at my house, we walked over to the Penn campus so she could see where I work. We popped into Ben's building to take a peek at the piece of ENIAC they have there (Ben works in the room where it operated, actually!), and then walked down Locust Walk and to the biopond. We sat and talked there, in the warmth of the late afternoon, and saw a blue heron! It was beautiful, but kind of a bully to the other birds. We saw it eat a fish, which was amazing because the fish looked way too big to fit down its throat but it slowly swallowed it, and the tail was still flapping as it disappeared into the heron's beak. There were also tiny cute sparrows bathing in the dirt, which I love to see. When the sun was starting to go down, we went back to my house and ate out at Grace, a nearby pub with great burgers, great spicy fries, and great Pennsylvania beer on tap. Then back home to sit in my backyard and watch fireflies and talk, though we were a little late for the fireflies so we didn't see many.

On Sunday we did a downtown walk, going up South St. to 6th, up 6th St. to Independence National Historic Park, then northwest to Chinatown, southwest to City Hall, southwest to Rittenhouse Square, and back home. Along the way we saw the Liberty Bell, ate tasty lunch at Mai Lei Wah, got boba, looked along the sightline from City Hall to the Museum of Art, popped in to the Victoria's Secret sale to paw through the bra bins, went to H&M for the first time, and sat in Rittenhouse, where every bench was taken, to talk. The weather was perfect and it was a lot of fun. When we got home we ended up making chocolate mousse at 11:30 at night, with cherries and walnuts, and watching videos on youtube.

Steph's train left around noon yesterday, so in the morning we went to the Italian Market. I hadn't wanted to go on Sunday because I drive there, but I also live near two churches so if I move my car on a Sunday I'm not getting a space near my house when I get back. And I had seen produce stands set up there on weekdays, so we went... but it was really dead, a big disappointment. There were a few produce stands, but maybe a fourth of what's there on weekends, and a lot of stores were closed for Monday (many of the butchers, the spice store, the sandwich place). We did end up having coffee at a really nice place, and going to the less awesome spice store, and getting things at Giordano's, which was open. But we'll have to go again the next time she's here, and now I know not to take people there on Mondays.

I had such a fun weekend!


Jun. 23rd, 2007 11:40 am
clevermynnie: (wealthy young woman-about-town)
It's beautiful today, blue sky and warm but not hot, and soon I'm going to the train station to pick up Steph. This last week in particular has made me realize that I am really coming to love Philly.

Some of it is getting out more, seeing the fun neighborhoods and things to do, the culmination of slowly trying to get to know the city over the last year. It's also partly the weather... I was really dreading living here for the summer, because when we moved here permanently last August it was just miserable, in terms of both temperature and humidity, and I dreaded three months a year like that. But even though I know I still have July and August to get to, I was surprised to find that June hasn't been that bad. In New Mexico, I always found June to be the worst month, where it was straight hot and no breaks. But July and August there are monsoon season, with thunderstorms every afternoon, which is actually pretty fun. Here June isn't like that; sometimes there are really hot and humid days, like the day I left for LA when it was 95 and very humid. But mostly it's been tolerable, with sometimes weeks of mid-70s and cold at night! I can take the occasional hot day, which is all we've gotten so far. Of course, I'm inside all day on weekdays, in a heavily air-conditioned building. But I do have a twenty minute walk to and from work each day. Anyhow, it's a relief to know that I only have to deal with two months of yucky summer.

Another thing that has certainly contributed is our house, which I love, and our garden, which I am coming to love. Now, our initial plans ended up gang agley, probably because the seeds weren't watered enough while we were both gone for a week. So most of the exciting and wonderful things we planted don't seem to have sprouted, though we do have peas, tomatoes, cilantro, and parsley at the very least. But some things are growing, and I'm thinking of getting cheap tiny pots and starting some seedlings in those for the herbs we really wanted that didn't come up. I mean, we still have loads of seeds. The rest of our yard is a profusion of weeds, beautiful thriving ones. And in fact, I spent a lot of time weeding the patch where stuff is planted, which is sort of enjoyable. It's sort of like my backyard is offended that we put seeds in it, and killed off our seeds and replaced them with morning glories in a massive attempt to give us the finger. 'You think I need help to grow things?!'

Something that occurred to me with the roses I bought last weekend is that they will probably get really big. See, my mom grew many roses in New Mexico, and is an excellent gardener, and almost without exception all of her roses are two or three feet high. So I thought this was the height that mature roses get to, until I saw roses growing around London and Philly in the last few months and saw ones that are six or seven feet high. Gigantic! At first I thought it was some sort of super-rose breed, until I realized that New Mexico is a desert, and the only wild roses you see there are those tiny ground-cover ones, and probably if you grow a plant in the environment it's suited to, it'll get much bigger. Something to look forward to!

Of course, something that's helping me immensely to enjoy Philly more is the lack of problem sets I have now. And while I probably will take one or two more problem set classes, I'll never take more than one at once, so this is a condition I will happily continue in. :)

be happy

Dec. 25th, 2006 10:39 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
The last few days have been really, really good. I went to a big get-together with a lot of food on Saturday night, and saw people I haven't seen in ages (Jeanine, Andrew, Steph, Scott, Sam, Caroline, Ken, Mike, Brian, Ashley). Yesterday I went sledding and had a blast, and then cooked massaman curry and played Trivial Pursuit with my dad, and gave him the best present I've ever thought of, which made him (and me) really happy. I came over to my mom's today and had delicious food, and also managed to give her and Kevin nice presents, which I'm really proud of. I've finally managed to come home without being overwhelmed, stressed, weirded out, or unhappy. It's really great.

It's times like this I can't help but feel incredibly lucky. I try to appreciate what I have, though... I'll talk more about how this year in particular ties in to that later. For now, Merry Christmas, friends.
clevermynnie: (Default)
Snow! Lots of snow! Hooray!

My flight home last night almost continued on to Phoenix without stopping in Albuquerque, because of the ice and then the fog, but we did manage to land eventually. Then I got to drive slowly back on icy roads with my dad, but the weather cleared up some while we were driving. This morning it continues to snow, big fat dense flakes.

The last few years I was living here, New Mexico was in the grip of a very bad drought, so the winters were cold but dry, and the skiing in town was pathetic. But it's improved since then, and recent yeras have had pretty good snows, although whenever I visit there seems to be little snow. So it is indescribably nice to come home to snow; it reminds me of being very young and enchanted with everything. :)


clevermynnie: (Default)

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