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.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Last Thursday was my fourth wedding anniversary, and the first anniversary we've celebrated in Ireland! We met up after work to go sit in a park and exchange presents. I got Ben an engraved lighter and golf lessons (because he had been wanting us to try golf together but neither of us has any idea what we are doing). I messed up the lighter a bit, since it wasn't the preferred type for cigars, but he still liked the gift (I think I had exhausted my gift-giving mojo but maxed out Ben's goodwill by also getting him a few beer-related articles of clothing recently, randomly when the opportunity arose). He got me the Cafe Paradiso cookbook, from the restaurant we loved in Cork two weeks ago, and promised to make me three dinners from that book with any dishes I wanted, including cleaning up and sourcing any weird ingredients. Which was a perfect present! And then we headed to get tapas at this pub near our house which has a really good deal for tapas on Thursdays.

We usually alternate who plans anniversary excursions, and since it was my turn this year I wanted to do some new things in and around Dublin: I signed us up for a sailing class and then dinner at a nice restaurant that does Irish food in a modern way (what I mean by this is that they use vegetables, since traditional Irish food is usually mostly meat, dairy, and potatoes). But I think I had tapped out my planning mojo as well over the last few weeks, what with our trip to Cork and all the stuff we did while my friends were here last weekend. Because, we took the train down to Dun Laoghaire for the sailing class, had a quick lunch first, and then got to the sailing school to find the doors locked! I called them, and they told me the course was cancelled due to excessive wind! Apparently they'd tried calling me but had one digit wrong in my number, and didn't try email because it's still 1995, so we were at the big sailing harbor with all the boats but nothing to do. We made the best of it, and got 99s and walked out along the seawall that encloses the harbor. We could see lots of sailboats already out, between us and Howth to the north, and it was very pretty. We even saw another boat out from the school we had signed up with, but maybe they went out earlier or had more experienced people or something. Our course is supposed to be rescheduled, so hopefully at some point we will get to go sailing.

So we stopped by a market and got some nice bread and other things, and then went home to play Dominion and hang out until dinner that evening. The place we went for dinner also ended up being somewhere Ben had been before, for a work lunch, but the food was delicious and so he was happy to go again.

Being with Ben is wonderful, as usual, but celebrating our first anniversary post-grad school made me so thankful that we made it through that experience together. And so thankful that it is over, we have nicer jobs, and we live somewhere really cool! Life is going so well right now, and we are really excited about so many things to come!

ace

Mar. 29th, 2012 04:07 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Yesterday was Ben's thirtieth birthday. I met him when he was nineteen, so it is very strange to think about him turning thirty. But a lot has happened since we met!

He isn't as into his birthday as I am into mine, but we did have a picnic after work, and I gave him tickets to a music festival later this year which looks amazing. I love a lot of things about Ben, but I am so impressed by how hard he works, and how into his field he is. Ben is single-minded about his career in a way that I am decidedly not, so it's a joy to have seen him develop influence and cool ideas and now be at a job which he is really enjoying. He recently went to the Game Developers Conference, and each year they give all the speakers a deck of cards featuring the faces of top-rated speakers from the previous year. Since his talk last year went over well, they asked him for a photo to be in the deck of cards this year. He sent them this photo of him shuffling cards, which I took on a trip to Cape May a few years back. When he got the deck this year, he checked for his card, which looks like this:

ace of hearts


My husband, the ace of hearts.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Last night we popped over to Edinburgh to attend wedding festivities for [livejournal.com profile] erindubitably and [livejournal.com profile] marrog, which was a lot of fun! I still find it slightly weird that we can go to another country on a weekday evening and be back for work the next day, but the flight to Edinburgh is less than an hour and the flight times worked just perfectly for us. We arrived there, bought some nice Scotch for Ben (who had been regretting not buying a Campbeltown Scotch he had sampled a few months back), and got to the hotel at just about the right time. A lot of fun ensued, including more people dancing in kilts than I have ever seen before, the only time Ben has ever been handed a bag of haggis at a wedding, and probably the most enjoyable dance music selection I have experienced at a wedding. (I exclude the music at my own wedding from this comparison, if only because I can't be expected to fairly judge.) I wasn't sure how many people we'd know, besides Mo and Erin who would be quite busy, but it turns out that if you just keep visiting people you do get to know some of their local friends. It also turns out that when you are enjoying dancing a lot, the effect of the alcohol you had beforehand is rather amplified. I will definitely remember this.

I like seeing all the different ways that people celebrate at weddings: what family members say, how everyone interacts, what things the couple chooses to emphasize or not, and the general individuality of the event (which includes what concessions were or weren't made for family members, how much the wedding is about the couple and how much it is about their social network). And of course it is always cheering to see people who are great together.

piano

Jan. 16th, 2012 05:01 pm
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
As a graduation present, my mom got me a digital piano (a Kurzweil MP-10). It was delivered today and so of course I have spent the last three hours playing it.

The first half of grad school, I kept up with piano, but I started to feel bad about being anywhere on campus other than in the lab, and we never had a piano in our Philly home. So I sort of stopping playing regularly, doing guitar lessons instead since I had a guitar and wanted at least some facility at it. And I'm really glad I did! But I think it's no slight to the guitar to say that it doesn't hold the same place in my heart that piano does... I've played guitar for three years, but I started playing piano when I was not quite five years old. It is so, so good to have a piano again. There just aren't words.

I played through tons of pieces I used to know, some that actually came off pretty well, some of which were understandably rusty. I pulled out the Sonata Pathetique, which I learned in college, and wasn't sure if I would still be able to play it. And while it wasn't at its best, to play it again was such an indescribable experience. I connected with it so strongly, especially the first movement, and coming back to it moved me to tears. Here's a nice video of Daniel Barenboim playing it, whose interpretation I agree with for the most part:



I would like to always have a piano at home for the rest of my life.

ten years!

Oct. 5th, 2011 06:49 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
I've been really sick for the last few days, plus we got the keys to the new place and our lease started, plus our stuff arrived from the US, plus we have to move everything out of our temporary place and get some furniture... but I couldn't let today pass without comment, because this is the tenth anniversary of when I met Ben. I could tell the whole story of our relationship, but actually I did that pretty recently so you can just go read that again if you aren't tired of hearing it.

I'm very lucky to have such a perfect partner, and to be starting an exciting new part of our lives together. I love him more with each passing day.

three

Jul. 26th, 2011 05:42 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Today is the third anniversary of the day I married Ben. My most recent favorite picture of us is off my iPod, taken when we were at a train station after going to the sixtieth anniversary party of some relatives:

me and ben


Needless to say I have high hopes for us making it to a sixtieth anniversary too! I have this photo as the background on my iPod so that every time I turn it on I see this photo of us. There have been a few times when I have been stressed or in a foul mood, and then I see this and am reminded of how good at least this part of my life is. We haven't had the anniversary surprise yet, though; it's tomorrow and I am VERY EXCITED. Also, for my anniversary present for him, I actually took some inspiration from lj: one of you (who?) linked to this essay on men's scents which I read and then remembered later while trying to think of an interesting gift. Ben had mentioned how he would like to try more cologne, and though it's hard to pick a cologne for someone I hedged my bets by getting him two: Hanae Mori for Men, and Versace's The Dreamer. Success!

I have also recently been noticing the many benefits of being in a romantic partnership that is legally recognized. On top of the obvious things like tax breaks and hospital rights, the issues that I have been having with my postdoc matter less to our immediate move, since Ben will have a green card and that gives me a visa. I'm impatient to see the right to a legally recognized partnership given to everyone here in the US, but even the small steps in that direction make me really glad.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
I think that I have written, several times, about how much I like to give gifts. I have talked some about reciprocity in gift-giving, which I largely do not like because I think that constraints tend to give a gift less value than if it is freely given. But I have also talked about getting a lot of joy from giving gifts that people really cherish, whether it's because the gift is very useful, because the gift creates a great memory, or because the gift has a lot of symbolic meaning. Obviously I like when people give me good gifts too, but if I feel I've given someone a really good gift I realize that I kind of dwell on it for awhile, because it gives me a sort of buzz from making someone I care for very happy. (See: repairing Ben's watch.)

Recently, the Christmas gift-giving season came and went; I gave some awesome gifts and some alright gifts. But I think I figured out a deeper reason why I enjoy giving gifts. Gift-giving as an act is an expression of feeling and appreciation, but the core power of gift-giving really comes from empathy. If I want to give you a good gift, I have to put myself in your place and imagine the things that matter to you. What things do you want that are out of reach, what experiences would you enjoy, what items do you not realize you would like? Giving a really good gift is expressing to someone, "I understand you", in addition to "I appreciate you". I think this is the place where cash and gift cards get a bad rap as gifts, because you could argue that the giver doesn't know the receiver well enough to actually choose something. This is so situational, though. Many people like gift cards as a way to treat themselves to something at a place they wouldn't shop on their own, and as someone who is nearing ten years of being in the educational system away from home, cash is definitely welcome sometimes. I mean, for our wedding Ben and I asked people to help out with our honeymoon instead of buying us stuff, which was effectively a cash gift, but being able to have a nice honeymoon is what we wanted. You can also argue that wishlists dilute the empathy involved in gift-giving, although I think they can be helpful at the very least in terms of providing clues. For example, Ben loves to cook, but this means he's received a lot of cookbooks that he didn't really want as gifts; this is something that can be gleaned from the dearth of cookbooks on his wishlist. My wishlist at amazon always has a lot of running stuff, and I receive a lot of running-related presents from people (both items from my wishlist and other things). You could call this an easy act of empathy, from a certain point of view, but my perspective is that running is fundamentally cheap but has a lot of expensive, nice accessories; people who care about me are helping me enjoy running more by giving me running gifts. That shows a lot of consideration of who I am and what I care about.

And of course, today is Valentine's Day, the day when we are encouraged to turn empathy toward our partner. I love Ben and love to make him happy, so this is not a particularly unusual occurrence, but it's a good thing to focus on nonetheless. We are celebrating by having a beer tasting at home this evening, which I am looking forward to, and by finally getting a wedding album with our tax refund this year (we didn't do it immediately after the wedding because we were so financially drained). I suppose Ben is one of the easiest people to understand, for me, so being empathetic toward him is not that difficult. But most of the people that I have chosen to surround myself with are interesting enough that I want to understand them, and have empathy for them. It's inherently rewarding for me, and I think that's the root of why I like to give good gifts.
clevermynnie: (smile)
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and Ben and I are heading up to Lancaster by train to celebrate it with his family that just moved out here. I am excited about it, and excited about the race this weekend, but I thought I would take this opportunity to post pictures I took awhile back of a few (just a few!) of the things I am always thankful for. Which is to say my cats, my sweets, my guild, my marathons, my home.

ben and blinn

emmy

blinn forums
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 [livejournal.com profile] chih, who was later my college roommate and is still a wonderful friend. Read more... )

nine

Oct. 5th, 2010 11:46 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Nine years ago today, a guy I had been talking to online bummed a ride up to Berkeley to meet me, and we hit it off so spectacularly well that we started dating despite living in different cities. Looking back at that time, it really strikes me how much has changed since then, about both of us and what we've gone through, and while I think we've put a lot of effort into having a great relationship, it is also amazing how lucky we were to find each other when we did. Sure, good communication and understanding of another human being takes thought and consideration, but finding someone compatible enough with you that it's worth the work is such a matter of luck (although you can improve your chances by increasing the number of people you come into contact with). I am very, very glad that I was lucky enough to meet Ben when I did. Nine years ago, I did not really know what I was doing, but I got the opportunity to figure it out, with a reward better than I was really capable of imagining at the time. I love how we are growing together, which is a flimsy pretext to include this cute picture of him during a recent brew, showing off our new wort chiller. :)

wort chiller!


In general, I think it's so helpful to be conscious of the things that are going well in life, and sometimes I can lose track of that... but it's hard to lose track of this, impossible to have it slip out of mind, because it permeates everything so thoroughly. Which is also more wonderful than I could have imagined back in our long distance days.

How did I get this lucky?

distance

Jun. 1st, 2010 04:30 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
I was telling a friend of mine today that I ran 13 miles on Sunday and hiked 9 miles yesterday. He asked, "and what day did Ben leave?" Well... yeah.

I realized that I was looking at things the wrong way earlier. It's not that being in a long-distance relationship should make you good at saying goodbye for a trip. It should actually make you incredibly bad at it, or at least it made me bad at it. I have all these associations with goodbyes to Ben, with feeling lonely and burdened and trying to fill the time with anything. So if, say, I know he is leaving in three hours, I start thinking about the many, many other times that I knew he was leaving in three hours to be gone for awhile and I start feeling the same way I did then.

What's a little stupid is, of course, I was recently gone for 3 weeks and he was here. Being the one that leaves is easier, I guess, especially if you are going somewhere fun or doing something new after leaving.

I realized something fantastic though, from this. We were together for just over 4.5 years as a long-distance couple, and we have been living in Philadelphia for a little less than 4 years. This means that seven months from now, we will have been living together for the same amount of time that we had to be apart, and of course after that the long-distance part of our relationship will become the minority of our total time together. That is amazing to think about.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
I'm back in Philadelphia now, trying to catch up with the many things that accumulated while I was gone. One of the errands I had to do was picking up Ben's birthday present... his birthday was almost a month ago but the present took longer than I thought it would, so it became ready while I was gone and I didn't want to send him to get it.

He has this watch, which his parents gave him as a high school graduation gift. It is a really nice watch, and the back plate has his name engraved on it, and when I first met him he wore it all the time. Actually, I remember a few times when I was really sad about the end of one of our visits, and he would give me this watch to hold on to until I saw him again, so for 2-3 weeks I would wear it and think about him. Well, some time after we moved here, something in the watch broke. He took it to a few places that do simple watch repairs and battery replacements but they couldn't fix it, and he told me at the time how he loved the watch but it would cost a lot to fix, so he set it aside and it had been on our dresser for maybe a year. I took the watch to Jeweler's Row, to a reputable watch repair place, and they found that the movement was worn out and had to be replaced. They also fixed the rotating bezel on the front, which had gotten uselessly loose. It took longer than I thought it would, but they did a great job.

So I picked up the watch today, and I admit I was a little worried that Ben would be disappointed, because he's been waiting for this for a month and it's not really a new present, just a reviving of an old present that someone else gave him. But he was blown away! :) I was surprised at how moved he was. I love giving good presents to people I care about.

silliness

Feb. 14th, 2010 09:08 am
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)

ben collage, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

At this point in my relationship with Ben, after 8+ years of being together, 3+ years of living together, and 1+ years of marriage, I am convinced that one of the key elements of any relationship is enjoying your time together. Not just in the heady, charged sense that you have early on, but as in, liking to do a lot of the same things and some different things, having similar approaches to new experiences, being excited about trying new things and exploring together, and in general taking pleasure in each other's companionship. I am lucky to have several close friends whose company I never tire of, but of those Ben is the one who is most completely and utterly compatible with me. As evidence, I present this collage of ridiculous faces he has made at me over the years as I tried to take his picture. (Not even including hilarious webcam pictures he has sent me, of which there are many.) I look at it and think of how completely silly he is, much in the same way that I am completely silly a lot of the time. I have such fun with him! :)

8 years

Oct. 5th, 2009 08:56 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
It was 8 years ago today that I met Ben. It is weird to think that that's almost a third of my entire life we've been together, and basically all of my adult life.

Every time an anniversary rolls around I try to praise some aspect of our life together which is great. It's hard to choose, though, because there are so many. But in grad school, which is not always the most fun time in one's life, what I have found invaluable is his humor and his support for me. I have so much fun with Ben, and simultaneously he is so supportive of what I'm doing and understands my feelings and worries so easily. It makes this whole thing a lot easier, and more fun. I enjoy Ben so much, and more so as time has passed. I feel very lucky. :)
clevermynnie: (Default)
The Women+Power conference was amazing. It was an experience. I don't know where to start talking about it.

And I kind of don't think I can, yet. There was so much to take in, so many ideas but also so many experiences. At the end of Saturday I felt so full, to bursting, with dreams and sadness and hopes and fears. One thing the weekend made me realize about myself: I am a feminist because I have empathy and a strong sense of justice. That's all.

"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart is just going to cave in."

sidetracks

Aug. 30th, 2009 10:01 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
After my oral exam, Ben and I had planned to go to Rehoboth Beach Saturday, to see the ocean, relax a little, and also hit up the Dogfish Head brewpub which is there. But alas, Tropical Storm Danny was off the coast so the forecast there as well as here was for thunderstorms and rain. We decided not to waste the trip, and Saturday did end up being rainy; I was caught in a huge cloudburst on my way back from the store to pick up extra tomatoes for zaalouk. I think as a result I felt a bit cooped up all weekend, at least other than this morning when I went for my 18-mile run. I feel slow because of the heat but at least I'm getting the mileage in. I actually had my highest mileage week ever the week before last, which was cool; last week was supposed to be a cut-back week which is lucky given how little time I had because of my oral.

On a completely unrelated note, one of our cats (Blinn we think) has started peeing in the bathtub. It's a little gross but honestly fairly convenient; it uses up litter less quickly and is easy to clean up. If only he could learn to use the toilet... he has flushed it a few times while playing with the handle, but he also drinks out of it.

Remember how I lost my wedding ring? I finally got a new one. I had been using a replacement for several months, on the slim hope that once the snow melted in the mountains where it fell off that someone could find it, but it was gone. So we finally went and got me a new one. What's kind of funny is that shortly before we did that, Ben lost his. He was trying to take a nap in our bed and apparently his ring felt itchy, so he took it off, but he couldn't remember where he'd put it because he was sort of asleep at the time. He told me, we turned our bedroom upside down and moved everything around looking for it, but didn't find anything. I was pretty sad just because it was important to me to still have one ring from our wedding, but we didn't seem able to find it. Then, that night, we had turned out the lights and were snuggling and talking a little before going to sleep. I rolled over to get more comfortable and felt something metallic against my foot: it was his ring! It got in the bedclothes somehow way down by our feet, and we hadn't turned out the bedclothes (partly because he thought he had put it on a table). It was really nice, after trying to accept that both our wedding rings were gone and while I was actively thinking about how great Ben was, to suddenly find it. It made me feel a bit better about never finding mine.

We watched the movie Rio Bravo this weekend, and I was extremely surprised to hear several of the main characters singing a song together which is a song we used to sing in my Girl Scout troop. You can see the clip of it here. It's called "My Rifle, My Pony and Me"; when I told Ben that we used to sing it in Girl Scouts, he asked, "did you change that line?" I guess most people don't think of Girl Scouts as promoting gun use, but you know, we were all about self-reliance and the wilderness. Also, the song can be sung as a call and response which is easy to teach.

Purple light in the canyon,
that's where I long to be
With my three good companions
Just my rifle, my pony, and me

deployment

Aug. 11th, 2009 02:13 pm
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
One of my best friends, who I have known for a very long time, is being deployed to Iraq today.

While we were in New Mexico, at the end of a long and kind of unfun day, was when I found out she was finally being deployed, and I felt a kind of sinking feeling. She went to the Naval Academy while I went to college, she got specialty training to fly helicopters while I went to graduate school. It was obvious that this was what she was preparing and aiming for, but I am afraid for her safety, so the arrival of her departure made me feel a kind of dread that I wasn't expecting. Talking to her about it directly really helped, though; I hadn't framed her leaving as finally getting to do the thing she's been training for this whole time. I am still nervous but also happy for her.

me: this may sound obvious... but I am kind of concerned for your safety and worried to actually see you go
though I know you will be doing awesome stuff and learning more and I have every confidence in your abilities :)
Caroline: I will be fine. More people die in Chicago gunfights than in Baghdad gunfights every day
More Marines have died in motorcycle accidents than in both wars combined for the last 18 mos
so really, I'm going to a safer environment
me: oh yeah, I remember you telling me that when you were getting motorcycle certification
of course, of all the people living in Chicago they don't all spend time in the gunfight areas
Caroline: neither will I
me: true
Caroline: but thank you for your concern, I am a little nervous too
me: are you also excited?
Caroline: very very excited
I haven't felt like this since I was 6 and still thought Santa was coming down the chimney
me: wow, that is very excited :)
what are you looking forward to?
Caroline: I will be flying a lot, of course
I am excited that all the skills I have worked very hard on and for a long time will get put to use
it feels like the first time playing a real game in a sport I've been practicing for years
me: huh, I never thought about it that way
Caroline: really?
I mean, my whole world is about being a combat helicopter pilot, and it would be frustrating to not ever actually fly in combat
me: it didn't occur to me how you have been learning the skills but can't really put them all together until you are in the field
Caroline: I think a lot of people are confused that I am excited... some people have an impression that deploying is a bad thing... it is stressful, but not bad
me: yeah, I see what you mean... that makes me kind of excited for you, actually
you will get to see what you can do!
Caroline: we work very hard to be safe, too, so most of the time, even when things go wrong, we catch them before it's a disaster
me: I'm sure, I know everyone does their best to keep each other safe

While I think militaries have a potential for abuse, and the military culture has some issues, Caroline is in my view the epitome of what is honorable and noble in the military. I've learned a lot from her. I'm grateful for the perspective and I hope she does amazingly well while remaining safe.
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Sunday was the anniversary of my wedding! Before we got married we would switch off who planned which anniversary, with Ben doing the odd numbers and me doing the even ones. Then last year, which would have been our seventh dating anniversary, we got married instead and went on a honeymoon. So this year we started over and Ben planned it; we went to Atlantic City and spent the day at the beach and on the boardwalk, which was great and very relaxing. We came back in the evening and went out to the Melting Pot, which he picked because we went there for restaurant week in February and really liked it... again, the food was great and the service was amazing; they gave us an anniversary card and gift and were super nice the whole evening. We came home and had the second bottle of champagne from our wedding night! We also have some wedding cake but it's still in California and hasn't been eaten yet.

Being married to Ben is a lot like living with him... some might say, exactly the same. But living with him is incredibly fun, so it works. The years pass and my feelings just get deeper, and while marriage used to scare me, now... if current trends continue, I have unplumbed depths of happiness ahead. :) I can't think of anyone better suited for me to spend my days hanging out with, so here is a picture of the love of my life contemplating his lemon ice on the boardwalk.


water ice, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.



a couple more )

godmother

Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:09 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
I'm back from New Mexico, working to catch up with everything that happened while I was gone. (Curse you Google Reader!) The trip as a whole was pretty good, with some ups and some downs. But one of the coolest things that happened was that I became a godparent.


baptism, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.



Read more... )

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