Marriage

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Consolation

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Recently, I was talking to a sweet man from overseas. I’ve known him peripherally for a lot of years, although this was one of the only times we’d really talked.

He asked, “Why are you not married?”

I laughed. “I ask myself that all the time! I guess I just haven’t met the right person yet.”

“But how old are you?”

“I’m about to be 32.”

He paused, and then spoke slowly. “It’s okay. You still look young.”

Sisters getting married, and other reflections

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

My younger sister Becca got married last weekend, and my even younger sister Sarah is getting married in 3 months, and my brother Jeremy has been married for 12 years, and I am single. Yes, this has led to some emotional moments for me, and yes, I sometimes wonder if I’m at all “marriage material.” Yes, I fear future holidays when all of my siblings are with their spouses and I’m potentially alone. Yes, comments that “It will happen when you least expect it!” and “You just need to give it to God” are largely unhelpful. Yes, I have thought about online dating. Yes, I have tried online dating. Yes, I quit online dating – because yikes.

Yes, I want and hope to be married. But right now, I’m not.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul, the Bible’s poster child for singleness, refers to singleness as a gift – and I always assumed that by “the gift of singleness” Paul was referring to a special ability, like being double-jointed or good at art. Like, congratulations! You have the gift of singleness: the cosmic capacity to be alone forever. Enjoy your life of loneliness and despair, because whether you like it or not, it’s what you were designed for.

I sure don’t feel like I was designed to be alone forever. Does anyone?

So it got my wheels turning. What if the “gift” that Paul talks about is not a special talent or competence, but an actual GIFT: a present. An offering. A package wrapped up by the gift giver and presented with a huge smile on his face, because he knew that it was good and that the recipient could love it.

Because I do love it. I love being single. This weekend I did so many things that bring me life: I made delicious soup and drank wine and went on a 9-mile walk and a 5-mile run, and I got a massage, and I went to a movie all by myself (which always feels so indulgent), and I took Toad to the park and cleaned the kitchen and did my laundry and stocked up on groceries and for nearly 48 hours, I barely said a word to anyone because that is what FILLS MY SOUL.

Singleness is not a consolation prize for those who aren’t good enough to be married, just like marriage is not a reward for being amazing, attractive, and accomplished.  Both are gifts in their own right. And the only way I’m giving up this good gift of singleness is if someday I’m presented with an opportunity to trade up for something even better.

Until then, I will revel in the luxury of spending however much money I see fit on pretty dresses for my siblings’ weddings, and welcoming new brothers-in-law to the family, and knowing that at the end of the day, it’s pretty good to be me – just me.

An open letter to Kim Kardashian

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Dear Kim,

This note must come as a surprise to you seeing as how you’ve never even heard of me – that is, unless you saw me on the cover of Disc Makers.  That’s right, Kim: I, like you, am a bona fide cover girl.  We are on the same level.  Recognize.

But even if you don’t pay attention to who I am, don’t worry, Kim.  The feeling is about to get very, very mutual.

Your rise to fame through sex tapes, reality television, and Playboy led you straight into a role as a genuine socialite – which basically means that you’re out and about being famous because you’re out and about being famous because you’re out and about being famous.  Oh sure, you have a perfume, and a fashion line, and a sunless tanner, and a really, really horrible song – your name is your brand, and you work it, Kim.  You work it like your “Fit In Your Jeans By Friday” workout series.

But none of this is why I’m writing to you today.  It’s not your fault that you are beautiful, ergo rich and famous.  People shouldn’t hate you because you have a hot ass, no matter how much you flaunt it – and it’s certainly not a crime to have money.

No, Kim. I’m here to talk about yesterday’s announcement that after 72 days of marriage, you are filing for divorce.

Your August 20th wedding to Kris Humphries was all the gossipy rage – the E! network even did a 4-hour special on the literally made-for-TV, $10 million affair.  That very price tag seems to be a slap in the face to your alleged support of movements such as the “Kiss Away Poverty” campaign, but I digress.  As if the dollar amount on the wedding wasn’t outrageous enough, you and Humphries reportedly earned – profited – an additional $18 million simply to engage in the white gown event.

And then, 72 days later, you ended it.  It’s despicable.

You make a mockery of marriage – something that I, for one, would very much like to experience, but for one reason or another has eluded me thus far.  You cheapen what I hope for, and frankly, it’s insulting.  Myself aside, I know so many people who are currently fighting tooth and nail to stay IN their marriages – because their promises meant something, and because they see their relationship as something more important, more essentially vital, than a mere opportunity for self-promotion.

I hope that I do get married someday, Kim.  I hope that I have the privilege of having a daughter.  And if I do, I can assure you that I will do absolutely everything in my power to teach her that people like you are not the ones to be admired and idolized, no matter how beautiful, no matter how powerful, no matter how wealthy you may be.

Instead, I will point her toward the true hero women:

Lacey, who just returned from spending a month in Haiti, caring for people with so much less than what we have

Greta, who on a teacher’s salary, devotes so much of her time – both work hours and personal hours – to planning, grading, and investing in her student’s lives

Christy, who through her work with Dave Ramsey, passionately educates young people about the importance of making wise financial decisions and avoiding debt

Emily, who has opened her heart and her home to an ever-shifting cast of foster children, devoting her time, energy, and finances to providing these kids with stability and love

Carin, who is channeling her grief over losing her precious son by starting the Ben Towne Foundation, and raising over $1 million in the past year to fight pediatric cancer

Ashley, who welcomed baby Zion as her own, and is raising the most amazing boys

I know women living with devastating medical diagnoses, and fertility concerns, and bone-crushing loneliness, and not enough money, and the death of big dreams – all with grace and aplomb.  These are the heroes.  These are the women that you and I should aspire to be.

You will carry on with your media circus, and probably continue to gain money, fame, and Twitter followers.  But you have a huge privilege, Kim – something that not everyone has – and that’s a platform.  Please use it for something more substantial than your own selfish gain.

Until then, I’m no longer paying attention.

Salutations,
Annie

Just call me angel of the morning

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Morning is my least-creative time.  I am not –  how do you say it? – PERKY.  I don’t wake up before the sun, just bursting with inspiration to get the day started.  And because I don’t work in a traditional office environment, the most “ready” I get these days is a tank top and workout pants.

My best thinking is done when I’m not trying to think.  My best writing is done when I’m not trying to write.  Inspiration often strikes in the middle of the afternoon, when I’m troubleshooting HTML code or talking to a co-worker about email delivery (don’t be jealous).  My desktop is littered with text files, snippets of sentences and scraps of songs, which I usually return to late at night as I’m going to bed.

That’s when I write.

And yet, it’s before 8am, and I’m just typing as I think.

We’ll see how this goes.

Are you ever struck with just how lucky you are?  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had my fair share of pity parties (duh, you know this).  But sometimes, when I can take a step back and look at the good things, it’s a little bit overwhelming.

Today, my brother and sister-in-law have been married for 10 years.  They were 20 and 21 on their wedding day, and at 18, it was my first time being a bridesmaid  – little did I know how well-experienced I would be 10 years later.

When I think about Ashley, and all that she adds to our family, I just feel really thankful.  She is creative and irreverent and passionate, funny, self-deprecating, soulful.  When she really laughs, it’s this explosive, joyful sound that probably makes the angels dance.  And my dear brother loves her so well.

I look at their relationship, and at my sweet nephews (all three!), and I feel hopeful.

Unbeknownst to me, while we were celebrating their wedding 10 years ago, someone who would later become one of my closest friends was ringing in the big 2-1.  Today is Annie Downs‘s 31st birthday, ladies and gentlemen.  If you know her, you love her – that’s just the way it is.  Few people in this world have such a wide circle of influence and friendship, but Annie Downs is something special.  She is hilarious and selfless and ballsy and loyal.  If you live in Nashville and see her today, give her a hug from me.

And because it’s my unimaginative morning time and I don’t really know how to work this in, I’ll just say it: thank you, readers of this blog, for your words of encouragement and love in the past week or so.  I can’t pretend to know why people keep checking in on my little life (especially when I’m always in a tank top and workout pants – honestly, I need an intervention), but I am grateful for your companionship along the way.

Time’s up.  And in the words of Bon Jovi… have a nice day.

The progression of last night’s in-flight conversation

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

“Can I put the arm rest up?”

“Sure.”

[spilling over into my seat]  “I’m still a big girl.  But I’ve lost over 200 lbs.”

“Wow – that’s incredible!  Congratulations – what an accomplishment.”

“No more seat-belt expander for me.”

[high-five with a 70-year old woman, initiated by yours truly]

“I’m Pat, by the way, and this is my husband Bobby.”

“Hi, Pat and Bobby.  I’m Annie.”

– – – – – – – –

“Are you from Nashville?”

“No, but I work for a company that’s based there.  I’m heading back for work, and a friend’s wedding on New Years’ Eve.”

“The company that you work for – do they rate well in customer service?”

“We do, in fact.  It’s one of the things that we’re known for.”

“Well, I tell you what.  You need to move to Mesa, Arizona, and teach those nincompoops a thing or two about customer service.  I have never met such dolts in my life as I did in Mesa, Arizona.  Or as many Ethiopians as I did in the Denver airport.”

– – – – – – – –

“How did you two meet?”

“We were in high school.  I had a girl friend who wasn’t allowed to car-date unless it was with another couple.  So she begged me to go on a double-date with her and her boyfriend, and Bobby here.  I couldn’t stand him.”

“What?  How could you not stand Bobby?”

“I don’t know, I just couldn’t.”

“Okay, go on.”

“My girl friend liked the guy she was going with, but her family told her that she couldn’t marry him, because he wasn’t a Christian.  So she wrote him a Dear John letter.  But, you know what?  She died of typhoid fever.”

[gasp]  “That’s terrible.”

[somber]  “Yes.”  [gung-ho]  “But after that, Bobby called me up to ask for a date with just me.  And I said yes.  And we’ve been together ever since.”

– – – – – – – –

“How have you made marriage last for 49 years?”

“It’s give-and-take.  Always give-and-take.  I love him so much, I hope I die before he does, because I could never live without him.”

– – – – – – – –

“Bobby has had a kidney transplant, two knee replacements, and open-heart surgery.”  [fumbling for his meds]  “I hope we make it to 50 years before he dies.  Want a sugar-free yogurt-covered pretzel?”

“Sure.”

– – – – – – – –

“Have you met Mr. Right?”

“No, I haven’t.  Not yet.  I hope I do someday.”

“Oh, you will.  A girl like you can’t last much longer without being snatched up.  Blows my mind that it hasn’t happened already, actually.  Men are idiots.”

“Thanks, Bobby.”  Smile.  For real.  Big smile.

– – – – – – – –

“Girl, I’ll tell you what.  I can already tell that you have common sense – which is more than I can say for most people in this world.”

“Well, thanks, Bobby!”

“You do.  You’ve got it.  Common sense.  And pretty eyes.

I need to use the restroom.”

– – – – – – – –

I’ll be honest: at first, I felt tempted to open up my laptop and cut off conversation with them.  But I’m so glad that I didn’t.  Pat and Bobby reminded me that life is precious and fleeting, like a vapor, and that the only thing worth passing on is love.  I don’t know how to reconcile the notion that “life is meaningful” with “yeah, but everyone dies” – but this couple, towards the end of their relatively quiet, non-glamorous years, somehow made me believe that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

I think I should switch them.

Everyone dies.

Yeah, but life is meaningful.

Extremely, intensely, marvelously meaningful.

A conversation in Wal-Mart

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Micah: Auntie Oonis, I know that you want to get married and have kids someday.

Annie: Who told you that?

Micah: Grandma.

Annie: Oh.  Well, she’s right.

Micah: Why aren’t you married yet?

[Because God is just busy building some lucky man’s character, bank account, and biceps.]

Annie: I don’t know, buddy.

Micah: Well, if you ever do find a husband, he’d better buy your ring RIGHT THERE.  [points at the Wal-Mart jewelry counter]  … whoa, did you see that girl in Spiderman pajamas?

– – – – – – – –

Don’t worry, Micah – I am living proof that a girl needn’t be married in order to own this sexy piece of machinery:

!!!!!!!!!

Best birthday present ever!  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  I’ve waited my whole life for this moment!

And the very first thing I’m going to make?  Debbie’s curry hummus.

Look out, Denver.

The Romaniuks

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

How can someone’s story be simultaneously so simple AND so romantic?

vadymsheryl

This is Vadym and Sheryl Romaniuk.  Are they not darling?

I’ve been friends with Sheryl even longer than I’ve known my own sisters – we met when we were 18 months old in San Jose, CA, and when I was 6 and my family moved to Colorado, we started to write letters (yes, the kind that were signed “LYLAS”).  Our families vacationed together every summer, and when we both decided to attend the same college in Seattle, we were roommates for the first year.

Post-college, Sheryl made the gutsy decision to join the Peace Core, and was assigned to Ukraine.  Two years is a long time to dedicate oneself to anything, let alone to a country in which vodka is a vital tool in cat neutering.  But Sheryl dedicated herself to the Ukrainian language – which, I should add, uses the Cyrillic alphabet, so it’s even MORE impossible – became fluent, and in the process, fell in love with Vadym.

Long story short, and many twists and turns later, Vadym left his family, his home, his language, and moved to the United States.  In the same way that Sheryl had been so bold, Vadym left behind all that he knew – in order to be with the woman that he loved.

(Imagine me blogging in a low, dramatic voice, because I feel like this should be a plot synopsis on a movie preview.)

This weekend, I had the honor of standing next to Vadym and Sheryl in San Jose, CA, as they said their wedding vows.  Vadym speaks very little English, but spoke his English promises clearly and sincerely.  Sheryl looked like a goddess.

And I?  With all of the traditional Ukrainian toasting, I drank too much vodka and accidentally found myself in the middle of the dance floor during “Chattahoochee.”

But that is neither here nor there.

Vadym has decided that Sheryl is worth anything and everything that it takes to be with her.  And Sheryl has become a haven for Vadym – a safe place in the middle of the chaos that his life surely holds, far from all that he has ever known.

I am so grateful for this beautiful picture of what love and romance are in their most simple and true form.

sv