Showing posts with label quotidian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quotidian. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2019

color, revisited

Five years ago, in the winter of 2014, I was dipping my toes back into the world of color after having spent six months wearing only black.

I still wear a lot of black.
Photo credit me.
It's easy and convenient and camouflages flaws. (Also, in those six months, I invested in some really nice clothes, and it only makes sense to keep wearing them. )

This winter, though, I've been noticing just how much color has found its way into my wardrobe.
Photo credit me.
Those are the shiny blue inner lining of my dress coat, the green leather of my purse, the rainbow of my mittens, the blues of my hat, the red paisley of my skirt, and the purples of my scarf on the most frigid teaching day of the semester to date. 

All my warmest things are colorful things, so the chilliest, and often grayest, days are also, for me, the most colorful.

Even in moderate weather, though, the colors remain.
Photo credit Taylor.
Here are the same mittens and scarf with a raspberry jacket and many-flowered hat

Photo credit Jim.
And the same scarf and jacket plus a deep teal skirt. (I also had the mittens, the flowered hat, and the green bag this day, you just can't see them in this photo.)

Unlike five years ago, I don't have anything deep to say about my relationship with color these days, but I am enjoying color in all its forms--soft colors in the sunrise, 

Photo credit me.
the sharp colors in the landscape,
Photo credit me.
 and the riot of color in my closet.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ashes and love

Dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return.

Dust thou art.


Today is the day that many Christians put ashes on our foreheads to remember our mortality. To remind ourselves and each other that we live in a broken world and we, ourselves, are part of that brokenness.

On this day, we wear ashes, and we talk about dust, two things that on all other days we sweep up, wipe off, discard.

Remember that thou art dust.


This humble stuff, this grit underfoot.

We are dust, and our world is broken, but we are not alone in the dust and ashes. God remains our partner in the ongoing process of creation.

Today, oddly this year, is also Valentine's Day, when most Americans celebrate love.

Pablo Neruda's "Ode to My Socks" is always and ever my favorite love poem, but it seems a particularly fitting one for today's confluences of love and ashes, of the divine and the quotidian.

The /I/ of this poem recognizes the powerful magic of an everyday, humble object created with love.

I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
with threads of
and goatskin.

He resists the temptation to preserve the gift, to put it away, to protect the magic from the hardships of everyday use. Instead, 

Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
and then my shoes.
Today, remember that thou art dust, but also that thou art love.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

a glimpse of devotion


They are an odd collection, but fit for the purpose, though not all intended for this use. Insight comes to us in a variety of places.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


It's been faculty orientation week at my university, so my colleagues and I are meeting up after a long summer of working in places other than our campus, and this conversation keeps happening:

pretty much every colleague: Hey, how are you?
me: !!! I have a new office !!!
pretty much every colleague: um, okay...that's nice

After the third or fourth time someone gave me the side eye, I realized my excitement about having a new office might be slightly over the top. Why is that?

It's a little bit relief. Last year, my first year as a postdoctoral teaching fellow, I was using the office of a colleague who was on sabbatical, and I was perpetually stressed out about being responsible for the musical instruments, digital camera equipment, and files stored there.

It's a little bit convenience. Things related to my work that have been taking up space in my apartment are now in my office, you know, the place where work happens.

Really, though, it's mostly feeling valued. I've been teaching since 2005, at a variety of universities with a variety of job titles, assigned to a variety of shared office spaces. Because these offices have been shared with other graduate or adjunct instructors, the indentured servants of higher ed in the American twenty-first century, they've usually been spaces that no one else wanted--windowless, basement, interior rooms--filled with furniture no one else wanted. Some have been only big enough for a single desk, shared by 4 or 6 or 10 people who had to work out a rota for use. Some have been big enough for lots of desks, shared by 2 or 3 people each, with no walls to help tune out distraction. These rooms becomes the departmental storage areas, too, for back issues of print journals that no one ever reads, for surplus textbooks that are out of date, for student papers that others leave behind when they move on to the next job. Most graduate and adjunct instructors leave very little in these spaces, carrying everything we need into and out of the building each day, like turtles with our offices on our backs, pausing briefly in our communal space.

These overcrowded spaces furnished with cast-offs and full of the detritus of the department are a reflection of the value universities have for the graduate teaching assistants and adjunct instructors who teach many of the courses on the schedule. Like the meager paychecks they get, it's a reminder that they are at the end of the line when it comes to resource allocation.

So, after twelve years of working in this field, after twelve years of making do with scratch-and-dent, after twelve years of negotiating shared space with near-strangers, after twelve years of carrying my office on my back,  I have a space that is mine. I've moved up slightly in the line. And it feels ridiculously good.

It's tiny, but it's a window. 

The rocking chair and coat tree are mine, other furniture came with. 

Check out that diploma on the wall. 

I mean, it would be nice if the university valued me enough to pay an actual living wage, but for now I'll take the office and celebrate it. Stop by for a cup of tea and celebrate with me.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

looking east in the evening

There's a particularly quality to the light in the eastern sky at sunset that I never appreciated before now. It's a hazy blue-and-pink-side-by-side kind of light. Sometimes, but not always, it blends into lavender and lilac.

Rambling Farmhouse was in a generous clearing, and we could watch the sun climb up through the trees to the east in the morning and sink down into the western treeline in the evening. It was frequently glorious. It was not unusual for me to walk outside just to see what the sky was doing. The first summer Adam owned the house, we kept a ladder next to the garage and spent many evenings on the roof watching the sky.

I don't remember ever looking away from the main spectacle to notice the other side of the sky.

Lovely Apartment is full of windows, but only facing east and north. Occasionally, I think about going up to the roof garden, just one flight of stairs above, to watch the sun set to the west, but I've come to enjoy the subtle beauty of sunset in the eastern sky.

Monday, March 20, 2017

other people's books

The books toward which my hands are drawn in libraries and bookstores are all variations on the fairytale structure: overt retellings, nineteenth-century comedies of manners, high fantasy, so-called chick-lit. While there's nothing wrong with this generally, these categories all tend to feature romance and end as do comedies, with weddings filling the stage. And since my life is decidedly lacking in romance lately, reading only these sorts of books is less than great for my mental health.

I still don't like mysteries, westerns, or horror, so those genres are not a respite for me.

I do like reading books of essays. Some of the most prized books on my shelf are beautifully bound Henry Van Dyke volumes in which the short stories read like essays on profound things. I can still remember buying them one at a time from the antique shop as a teenager. I rather suspect that after the second one, the owner started keeping an eye out for more of them to feed my habit.

Unfortunately, the book of essays is not a very popular form these days. There is no section in bookstores dedicated to essays. Occasionally, a book of essays will make the best-seller list, like Eat, Pray, Love. Even more rarely, one like The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes pops up in a yarn shop.

The place I've had the most luck finding books of essays is in the religious life section. Not theology, not religious history, but the section of books about living life with faith. It's tough to choose off this shelf, though. Some of these veer over the edge into the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad, blow-by-blow memoir of life from birth through conversion like Augustine's Confessions. I don't like throwing books across the room, but sometimes there is no other choice. Others of these books veer over a different edge into preachy, how-to, self-help books. Those I throw into the donation box.

So I find myself relying on the recommendations of friends. Last spring, I read An Altar in the World, because Kathleen put it in my hands and said, "This. Now." In the autumn, I read Love Warrior, because Taylor found it to be profound. At Christmas, I reread Girl Meets God because decade-ago me thought it was amazing. This week I'm reading What Falls from the Sky because Erin sent it to me with the message that it sounded like I needed a new book. (Full disclosure: I do this, too. I gave Erin Girl Meets God for Christmas,  and I *just* handed Kathleen Chalice and Marriage and Other Acts of Charity randomly on a Wednesday with the words, "This. Now.")

While I've enjoyed each of these books and recognized the value of the wisdom they have to offer, I haven't felt like they speak to my soul the way they spoke to the soul of each of the women who recommended them.

These are other people's books.

I'm still looking for my books.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Last night I checked the forecast and saw that this morning was going to be excellent weather for cycling: 48 F by 8 A.M. and rising into the sixties with sunny blue skies. I texted my cycling pals that we should play hooky, and Chris agreed.

Chris and I rolled out of the driveway about 8:45, heading for the new portions of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail on the far, east/south, side of the river.

It never ceases to amaze me that these monuments are part of my regular life. This bit of trail on the east side of the 14th St. bridge over the Potomac connects us to so many destinations.

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is beautiful, but not very photogenic at the moment, with wide smooth asphalt running along the river through floodplain parkland most of the way. The riverbanks were in that awkward stage when everything is starting to develop the green haze of spring, but it hasn't yet managed to cover the curmudgeonly grunge of winter. The Kenilworth tidal estuary marsh smelled like it was just starting to think about developing a funk.

We were a bit pressed for time today, and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail extends deep into Maryland, so we set a time to turn around hoping that it would allow us to cross the DC-MD border.

My only picture from the trail is this one of Chris checking to see if we had reached Maryland when the marks on the trail changed from yellow to orange. We had indeed! Just under two hours and just over fourteen miles from home. 

The ride back felt like the landmarks were coming more quickly. (Why is that always true?) There was an intense and persistent headwind, though. 

And then.

Climbing up the second most awful bridge crossing in DC, all of a sudden my handlebars were not square with my front wheel. Since I was practically crawling up the incline, I was able to get my feet on the ground before I fell over. I reoriented the handlebars and started walking the bike. Chris had the tool we needed to tighten the handlebars, but not in a shape that we could use on this bike.

Meanwhile, I realized that the strap on my shoe had also broken, perhaps while being yanked out of the pedal clips, and every step made the shoe flop off my right foot. We didn't manage to improvise a solution to the handlebars, but I did have a velcro arm/ankle reflector band that was happily repurposed into a shoe-keeper-onner.

Having ridden only twenty-one of the twenty-eight miles of this route, I parted ways with Chris to metro home.

What started out as a grand and spontaneous adventure had gone awry.

This was my first time riding the metro with my bicycle and I learned that my bike and I can fit in a metro elevator with a full-sized motorized scooter, it's occupant, and one other passenger and also that I can carry my bike down a flight of stairs by hoisting the crossbar of the frame onto my hip. Less fortuitously, I learned that up-going escalators will further twist already misaligned front wheels and handle bars. That got interesting fast.

My bike and I rode the bus--using the bus-front bike rack was another first for us--straight to our neighborhood bike shop where a plain, old 6mm alan wrench solved the problem. Such a simple solution. The 6mm alan wrench from the set in my toolbox will be moving to my bike bag forthwith.

It wasn't really a big problem in the grand scheme of bicycles. It wasn't a punctured tire or a broken spoke. Nothing weird happened to the chain or the sprockets. But a slightly loose joint made my bike a dead weight instead of a powerful tool.

All in all, I suppose a disabled bicycle was easier to deal with than a disabled car would have been, I could still make it go where I wanted it to go, and I could lift and carry it when necessary. No tow truck required.

I'm glad to have made this ride to Maryland and halfway back and glad to have learned to use public transportation with my bike. I'm really sad the about the shoes. They were the best shoes, and I knew they were on their way out, but this forces the issue.

Biggest regret, though? I didn't have any knitting for the transit rides.

Friday, September 16, 2016


I slept with the windows open last night and woke up this morning to a pleasantly crisp Lovely Apartment.

Fresh autumnal air made a delightful environment for yoga and breakfast. I drink tea all year long, of course, but it tastes best this time of year.

Sitting here in a summer nightgown--sleeveless, knee length--I have goosebumps on my arms, and my feet are chilly, and I am happy.

It occurs to me that I could have kept the apartment this temperature all summer. But, even setting aside any environmental concerns about air conditioning, it would not have been the same.

Seventy degrees of gently breezy fresh air is not the same as seventy degrees of forcefully propelled conditioned air, just like seventy degrees in early spring feels not the same as seventy degrees in late summer.

Happy first harbinger of fall.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

sit-com life

I spent this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday smiling. My friends Taylor and Stuart, who currently live in Algiers, were staying with our friends Chris and Kendra whose house is across the street from Lovely Apartment. Chris, Taylor, and I were close in college thanks to the United Methodist campus ministry at our alma mater, and I've stayed close with each of them in the intervening years, but it's been more than a decade since I've hung out with both of them at the same time.

Thursday evening, Chris and I were cooking (mushroom pasta and peach crisp, respectively), Taylor was hanging out with us in the kitchen, Chris's kids and Taylor's daughter were playing on the patio, Kendra was at work, and Stuart had gone to his agency's DC headquarters.

Taylor: Kate! Where are the girls?
me: Well, Sofia went to a friend's house after school. We should see her soon. And I just ran into Anna on the sidewalk on my way back from the grocery store. She's taking the bus to ballet, and she'll take the bus home later.
Chris: Running into your kids randomly on the sidewalk is one of the coolest things about having you in the neighborhood.
me: I know, right? They love running into you guys, too. I love our pedestrian life. You know, this is the life I imagined all of you living when I was in Michigan and the rest of you were here, and I was sad when I learned that it didn't exist. I'm so happy to be a part of it now.
Taylor: You're living the sit-com life.
me: 0.o
Chris: o.0
Taylor: Friends close by, babysitting, shared meals. Someone just opens up the front door and walks in. It's like a sit-com.

Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, all of these shows hold up the model of a friend group who don't all live together, but are together all the time anyway. Most of us, I think, experience that kind of living in each other's back pockets in our college dormitory years, if we're lucky, but it's more rare after graduation for a variety of reasons. There were, for example, friends who would open the kitchen door and walk into Rambling Farmhouse, but physical distance and the necessity of driving made those moments rare.

I'd never thought about my current life in these terms, but Taylor is right. Chris and Kendra's kitchen is like the main set of a sit-com where friends gather to live life, to celebrate, and to solve problems. I'm privileged to be a part of the cast in this moment.

There's one way we've surpassed the sitcoms: We've got a next generation. And they already love each other.
Here we come...walking down the street...
we get the funniest looks from...
everyone we meet...

Monday, June 16, 2014

in the joy of fullness

There were eight extra people at Rambling Farmhouse this weekend, and it was glorious.

My friends being my friends, much of the long visit centered on the many meals we prepared and shared together. Even in the work of feeding five adults and six children, there was joy. The quotidian mysteries of prepping, cooking, and cleaning are a solid foundation for deepening friendships.

Today, we are back to three at Rambling Farmhouse, and I am tidying up, still so happy to have shared this time with Chris & Kendra and Erin & David.  These table linens on the line are a testament to friendships newly made and further deepened.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

turning chickens into quilts

I recently rehomed our flock of chickens, who are now happily clucking away at Bluebird Farm. They are also laying prodigiously, so we know they've settled in and are happy.

Back in March when Rachel and David took the chickens, I couldn't come up with a cash value number. I really had no idea what they were worth, on the market generally or to me personally, so Rachel offered me three Romney fleeces from the spring shearing. Sold!

Shearing happened last Saturday, and I spent a pleasant couple of hours this afternoon picking over the fleeces with Rachel, removing balls of lanolin and bits of hay. (Also poop. These are sheep, after all).

Thank you, Lady Baa Baa.

These three fleeces are destined to become quilt batts, the innards between the pieced top and the counterpane bottom, the innards that make the quilt warm. Adam's friend Jen offered to make quilts from his prodigious collection of interesting t-shirts for the girls and a quilt from his button shirts and some of my old clothes for me. There is enough fleece to make batts for these three quilts and also batts for Jen to keep for her own use.

I will have to pay the mill actual cash for processing, but the other exchanges in this chain are forged by friendship, trust, and the barter economy. Each trade is equitable because each party has a surplus of the other's need, and each is satisfied at the end. It's a pretty great way to turn chickens into quilts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

a glimpse of spring

As the snow blankets my  world again today, I remember this glimpse of spring just two days ago.

The earth is there, and we will see it again.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Death is a lot of paperwork. If you've been around in the last six months, you've probably heard me say this. A few of you have even witnessed me shouting it at the sky.

No one ever tells you how hard it is to settle an estate. How in the midst of an emotional storm you have to make decisions and fill in forms and sign things that move money and assets. How you have to deal with people who may express sympathy, but don't genuinely feel it because they deal with ten of you every day.

I've come to think that we twenty-first century Americans cloak the ends of life in mystery, because no one ever tells you the nitty-gritty truth about childbirth or breastfeeding, either, but I really don't understand why. Like giving birth, settling an estate is, I suppose, not a path one can walk until the circumstances of life lead to it, but I think it would be easier if the whole process were more public. Being present for someone else's turn down the path, seeing the process, would make it easier to walk the path, I think.

The worst part for me has been the way that paperwork has the power to interrupt my day. I may be having a good writing day or working on a household project or reading a good book, and a phone call from one of the banks or the insurance agents or the prosecutor's office or the IRS or the SSA can pull me out of whatever it is I've chosen to do and demand my attention. After the phone call (or e-mail or letter), I'm not always able to return to the progress I had been making.

It seems like just when I think I am caught up, when I feel sure I have a handle on everything, something else pops up. This is very unsettling. It's hard to plan my time when recent experience has taught me to be always waiting for yet another shoe to drop. The grief-induced brain fog I've talked about before further complicates the situation. There is always a moment in which I am thinking, "Is this new? Or did I know this and forget? I couldn't possibly have made such an oversight, could I?" Sometimes I did forget, but not always. Seven months on, new tasks are still being added to my list.

Death is a lot of paperwork. Each piece of paper looks simple. Taking care of all of them is really hard.

There are some things that have made my situation easier:
1. I was my husband's only spouse ever.
2. I knew his system for creating passwords.
3. Joint checking accounts.

There are some things that would have made my situation even easier than that:
1. Having my name on all of the assets and accounts, even the ones acquired or created before we were married.
2. Having important papers stored logically in one place.

I am neither a legal nor a financial expert, so I want to be careful not to give blanket advice, but I think I can safely say the following to everyone:

1. Have a will.
2. Give your next of kin the key to your password system.
3. Invest thought, time, and energy into a filing system that even the fog-brained can follow. Show your next of kin how it works.

Death is a part of life, and we do not know when we will arrive there. It is wrong of us to avoid thinking about it and planning for it. It is wrong for people in their twenties and thirties to put off writing a will. It is wrong to sustain the mystery. 

Death is a lot of paperwork, and you should know that because someday you will be the next of kin.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

things I miss

There are things that I miss that are about Adam as an individual. I miss the expressiveness of his face. I miss the way he smelled, like Old Spice, engine oil, and sawdust. I miss the way he would scoot closer to me in the pew after the kids had left for Sunday school. I miss his culinary adventures, unpredictable as they were. I miss his laugh.

I missed Adam truly madly deeply on Christmas Eve when we stood in the darkened sanctuary holding candles and singing "Silent Night" because it was one of the few songs he knew well enough to sing with his whole voice.

There are other things that I miss not about Adam himself but about the role he played in my life. I miss having someone to share the duties of cooking and tidying. I miss having a co-parent. I miss having a sounding board and being someone's sounding board. I miss arguing and disagreeing and convincing and agreeing to disagree and then drinking wine.

I miss having that one person who has committed himself to always being there when I need him and who can demand the same commitment from me.

I miss the warmth of another person who is just here.

I miss having a partner.

Even my tribe of wonderful friends, who each take up a bit of the slack, can not fill this void.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

zweifelt (reprise)

Today, I went to the ballet and to the abattoir. Neither is particularly unusual; both were necessary.

My life is strange. Mostly I like it that way.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


When I settled in to fairy tales as the main focus of my dissertation, Jeff said, "Well, if you're going to do fairy tales, you have to read German." I rolled my eyes and grudgingly signed up for his Reading German for Graduate Research course.

It turned out to be a great class!

Jeff is an engaging instructor, and German has so many cool words. The title of this post is one of the best. The root 'zwei' is the two word, and a literal translation might be  entwoed. It means something like having doubt, being between two things. Since meeting this word, I've felt that it is an amazing label for my life, because I so often have the sense of standing at a place where two roads diverge.

The standard advice for the bereaved is to refrain from making any big decisions for at least a year, but this was slated to be a year of big decisions anyway. So, as I work on my dissertation and prepare for the academic job market, I've been thinking about the sort of place I would perhaps like to live. I have been happy in large cities, in small towns, and in the countryside, but I have also found each of these wanting.

My travel and return this past week have brought these thoughts to the fore again. Last Wednesday, I walked eight-tenths of a mile to the metro, took the train from Arlington to the heart of the District and then walked eight blocks to a café to meet a friend. It was wonderful to be a pedestrian again. Using your own two feet as a means of transportation is empowering, and this is much more viable in Washington than in Jones. Over our not-coffee, Mark and I had a conversation that touched on my work and his, our mutual friends, the state of the universe, and the finer points of public transportation. The hour in the air-conditioned café was just enough to cool me off from the walk to get there, and I left the café ready for my next adventure.

That day, my feet, in coordination with the DC transit system, took me to meet three different friends, to shops and restaurants, and to one of my favorite places on earth.
It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

By Friday, I was back at Rambling Farmhouse, where distances are too great for walking, and public transportation is non-existent. Having dropped Sofia off at school, I stopped at the abbey for terce and then drove to Bluebird Farm, where I spent the morning slinging shit with Rachel. Ass deep in the barnyard manure pile, I looked at my dirty hands, encrusted jeans, and borrowed rubber boots and saw the chasm between them and Wednesday's linen slacks and leather loafers.

Yet, at the same time, Friday morning had a lot in common with Wednesday morning: the company was excellent, the conversation was delightful, and I was having fun. Just as being a pedestrian is empowering (even when it is exhausting)  through the freedom of movement it offers, I find farm and garden work to be empowering (even when it is disgusting) because it offers an intimate connection to the food that sustains me.

And Friday's scenic drive from Bluebird Farm to White Yarrow took me past another of my happy sights: a soybean field in fall color.
I love the combination of green, brown, and gold against the blue and white of the sky.
This year has not been stellar for fall soybean color, but you get the idea here. :-)
After all this, I'm really no less zweifelt about the sort of place I'd like to find work. I do, however, know that what I crave are good friends, meaningful physical activity, and inspiring spaces.

Monday, August 5, 2013


I don't really remember why I started this blog in 2008. That's a little sad, isn't it?

I do, however, remember that one of the things I was hoping for was conversation in the comments section. Blogging is often described as being inherently narcissistic, and I suppose sometimes it is. After all, here I am putting my personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings, what I once might have put into a locked diary, out in the ether for all to see. My conscious purpose has never been to use this space to declaim as from a soapbox. I have always wanted to generate conversation. You talking to me, but also you talking to each other.

Rarely does this happen on this blog, friends.

Though, I have been somewhat gratified to see this sort of conversation developing in the comments on the Facebook links to these blog posts.

But what really rings my bell is the stats page! A couple of years ago, I had almost given up writing in this space because I figured no one was reading. Then I discovered this:
Is this not a thing of beauty? It shows me how many pageviews the posts on kolokolchiki are getting and when. This particular shot shows activity over the past week, and that tall spike is when I posted "how are you" and "black."

I could go on about the stats page for pages, but I'll limit myself to one more thing right now.
This is an analysis of you, the audience of the blog over its entire existence. Which browser gets you here, which operating system organizes your life, where you come from. 

I especially love the map of the world. Readers, you are everywhere! For most of these countries, I can think of someone I know who lives there, but not for all of them. I might have readers who don't actually know me in real life. WHOAH! 

I am humbled. 

Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing links. Thank you for commenting. 

Happy 100th post!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

marriage is phenomenally difficult

I’ve been contemplating this post since reading Jamie Gladly’s “[tap tap] Is this thing on?” post in August 2011. It’s not been an easy post to write and publish. I keep re-reading and editing with the intention of posting and then saving a new draft instead. 

Jamie wrote,
“I think this is the longest I've gone without blogging since I started this blog almost five years ago. It's been a tough summer and I couldn't seem to write non-whiny posts. I've been intensely frustrated with my marriage but that's not blog material. (Sometimes in the Catholic blogosphere it seems that everybody is in shiny happy marriages where they're jointly striving for heaven and Communicating Effectively and nobody else is fighting unproductively about the same damn thing for ten years. And counting. Am I keeping it real or bringing things down if I say that sometimes it's really ferociously hard to be married?)”

To which I reply, "Keeping it real, Sister!" Sometimes it is ferociously difficult to be married, and we should be talking about it with our spouses and with each other. The fact that, on some level, we expect marriages to run smoothly on love is part of the reason marriage is phenomenally difficult. That expectation sets us up for frustration. Marriage isn’t all sunshine and roses. It’s cleaning up puke and ignoring body odor. It’s sometimes putting your needs on hold to meet your partner’s. Then, it’s asserting your needs and asking your partner to make sacrifices. Marriage is balancing on a tightrope in tandem.  

I'm not sure that I would want to try actually balancing on a skinny little tightrope way high above the ground with Adam. We don't generally manage to dance very well down here on the ground. I am, however, proud that he and I have managed to figure out how to make our crazy partnership work for us for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, living in one house or two.

A big part of what keeps me sane is having come to the conclusion that long-term love is a choice and an action, not an emotion. Twitterpated Bambi and Fauna love is nice when it comes, but it doesn't stay. Adam and I know that even though we have committed to love each other until death does us part, we may not like each other every day. The following words have, on occasion, crossed my lips,  “I love you unconditionally, but the conditional love just flew out the window.” And that's okay. Because it is the daily choices to act out our unconditional love that create space for twitterpation to flourish.

When it comes down to it, really, twitterpation is just the chemistry of attraction allowed to flourish until one's cup runneth over. There have been times in my married life where I've been mildly attracted to other men or realized that were circumstances different, I could see myself in a relationship with someone other than Adam. I'm sure Adam has had similar experiences with his female friends and colleagues. The simple presence of these emotions related to other people does not weaken our marriage because we choose not to act on them.

Another tool for sanity is the recognition that any individual argument is probably just the apparent part of a deeper issue. Our ongoing argument about cleaning is a prime example. Adam and I fought bitterly and repetitively for years before we finally realized that the core issue is the difference between tidying and deep cleaning. I like things to be tidy, and I try to put things away as I use them. I sweep the floors often, but I'm lax about cleaning otherwise. Adam rarely just tidies. If he's putting things away, then he also gets out the simple green and the scrub brush. The debris that Adam leaves behind when he makes coffee drives me crazy, but my habit of sweeping the visible bits of floor without moving the furniture baffles him. Since we stopped shouting (at least about this topic), we've been able to learn from each other, and we're both better. But it certainly hasn't been easy or painless.

Conventional wisdom says that children of divorce tend to be either commitment-phobic or commitment-maniacal. It's pretty clear that I'm the latter, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't know if I could handle the niggling day-to-day frustrations of sharing my life with another person if I didn't have a long-term view. So, yeah, when it's working, it's wonderful, but making marriage work is phenomenally difficult.