Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What is essentialism?

Something happened to me in the past week. Well, the last four days, actually.

Here, I'll show you. This is a blog post I wrote on Friday night but was saving to publish until I had internet access again.

The original title of the post was . . .

How Are Your June Goals Going?
Well . . . they're sort of going.
I've been walking in the mornings. Not every day, but often enough that I'm currently beating my dad on our 7-day fitbit steps. So that's pretty cool. And when I don't go in the morning I try to make it up in the evening after work. 
I finished Blink. But I did not finish Northanger Abbey. I did finally finish A Tale of Two Cities, which I've been reading for years. 
What else did I say I was going to do? 
This is why I have a problem with goals. I set them, but if I don't post them in big block letters on my wall or something, I tend to forget them only a week or two later. 
Okay. . . Now that I've looked them up, apparently my other goals were: 
1. To go to the temple every week and
2. To write a nice note every day. 
Yep. Definitely didn't do either of those things. 
Oh, well. The nice thing about forgetting your goals is that you can always set them again. Or adjust and try something else. 
The point is to keep improving one way or another until you become practically perfect in every way.

Since then, I've had a major shift in thinking. It started when my dad passed off this book to me:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

I think I've become addicted to setting goals. I think I have been doing too much of the diagram on the left and not enough of the one on the right.

That's an image from the book, by the way. 

All things considered, I am not a renaissance woman. I'm not interested in that lifestyle. I would rather do one thing and make my highest possible contribution than be mediocre or fail at a lot of different things.

I know I need to think about balance. It's true. I can't spend every waking hour devoting myself to work. I'd go crazy. But I feel like I've been spreading myself too thin for too long and trying to please too many people.

I need to know my limits. I don't want to have eighteen top priorities on my to-do list. That's an impossible, or at least an unsustainable lifestyle.

So instead of trying to be practically perfect in every way, I'm now planning to concentrate my efforts, say no more often to things I don't actually care about, and focus on the ones that I do care about.

In part this coincides with one of the major lifestyle changes I've been dealing with since moving to Utah. In California, I spent a lot of time with my friends. Like A LOT. And I worked fewer hours per week, which gave me time to volunteer and take on extra-curricular projects. These days, that time is gone. I miss it. But I don't at the same time. That's because I value the work that I do and how it's shaping me as a person. I guess what it all comes back to is that there is a time and a season for everything.

But when I set goals I don't think about the seasons. I tend to think about all the good things I could be doing right then if only I pushed myself a little harder and squeezed in a few more things in place of the time I waste doing things that don't matter. So I come up with more and more good things, not realizing the trade-offs that I'll be forced to make. If I want to learn to play the banjo, that will mean less time for writing.

All I'm saying is, I'm tired of setting goals that I immediately forget, that don't play into my overall purpose in life, and that don't even make that much sense except as a momentary experiment.

I would rather figure out what I'm really passionate about and pursue it consistently through small, measurable steps and improvements.

So stay tuned for that. 

And in the meantime, stop trying to do it all. What is actually essential in your life? How could you make your highest possible contribution?

Oh, and read the book. It's awesome! And I'm probably not explaining it well so you should really go to the source.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Where are you right now?

Right now I am sitting in a big fluffy bed, doing something I never do anymore--watching reality TV.

It's awesome!

Here's what happened. . . . 

My dad is flying into town for my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. And it's a secret. Nobody knows he's coming except me. Well, and my mom and my family back in California. But anyway, don't tell anyone.

And since it's a secret, and since he's going to meet with some of his business associates tomorrow, he got a hotel room instead of staying at my grandparents' house. (They live up by the university.)

But then my dad's flight got cancelled so he had to get a different one. And now I'm just hanging out here in the room, all aloney on my owney, until he gets here.

That's right, folks. This blog is brought to you by the Salt Lake City Sheraton.

I love hotels! They're so clean and anonymous. I could be anyone I want here and I'll never see these people again, so it really doesn't matter. That's how I always feel when I'm on vacation.

Also my dad used his Cool Points to get us a room on the eighth floor and there are big huge windows looking out onto the city and a balcony.

Life is good, friends.

And it gets better! 

Because tomorrow night I'll be staying in Midway at my grandparents' vacation timeshare. I'm feeling pretty spoiled this weekend.

Aside from enjoying my mini-stay-cation and some quality family activities, I'm also planning to spend lots of time writing this weekend. I am really, really excited about that.

But first, let me get back to my reality TV. . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What's your problem with Lindsey Stirling?

First, I want you all to reread the title of this post, except with the same tone of voice that Rory uses when she says, "What's your damage, Heather?" right at the beginning of this clip. Because that's how it sounds in my head.

Also, I just love Lorelai but that's another post for another day.

Here's the thing about Lindsey Stirling. I'm sure I'm gonna like her. From what I hear she's a hip hop violinist. Which is a weird enough combination that I know I'll like it. I already like Vitamin String Quartet which is like pop plus classical. Plus people keep telling me how cool Lindsey is.

But I refuse to listen to her. At least not on purpose. If she happens to come up on one of my Pandora stations (Yes, I still use Pandora. See below.) that's one thing. But I won't deliberately listen.

This is indicative of a real trend in my life: I tend to resist new things unless I'm the one who discovered them. Back in the olden days--which is how Jack, one of the kids I used to nanny for, refers to any time before he was born in the mid-2000s--Spotify did not exist. And I was one of the first of my friends to use Pandora. Then a few years later when Spotify did exist, I heard about it from someone else, and by that time I was already entrenched in my Pandora-listening ways and I refused to make the switch. I hadn't come up with this Spotify notion on my own, so I was sticking to my guns. Still am, I guess. Although now it has more to do with having no idea how Spotify works and not caring enough to learn.

Similarly, I don't take reading recommendations. In fact if someone tells me to read something, that's a pretty good guarantee that I will never read that book. Or at least not for a very long time. And it's no reflection on how much I like the person. In 2006 a boy I had a good-sized crush on told me I should read Three Cups of Tea. When we talked about it, I agreed with him that it sounded awesome and I fully intended to read it very soon.

I finished it last month.

I am also not typically an early adopter. I didn't get a smart phone till six months ago. That was mostly about not seeing the need and also being too cheap to pay for the data plan.

So at first that's what I thought was going on with Lindsey. I hadn't come up with the idea of listening to her on my own; she was recommended to me. So the odds were already against her. But unlike paying for a data plan, getting into Lindsey's music won't cost me anything. I'm not planning to buy her album ever, even if I do like her. I'm don't buy music unless I really, really, really love it. So at most I'd waste an hour watching her YouTube videos.

Finally I realized what was really going on. Jumping on the Lindsey bandwagon won't cost me money. But it will cost me something. Something big. It will cost me my California identity. Apparently Lindsey Stirling has become a clear symbol in my psyche that will indicate to me that I've crossed over to the . . . well, I won't say the dark side. That's a little harsh. But the . . . other side, at least.

See, people in California have never heard of Lindsey Stirling. People in Utah totally have. She's a Utah celebrity. Just like these Kirby Heyborne, Hilary Weeks, and all those Utah people who have been on SYTYCD.

If I start listening to Lindsey, I'll officially give up my California-ness and become a full-fledged Utahn again. Sigh. And I'm just not ready to do that yet.

Sorry, Utah peeps. If it's any consolation, I'm sure I'll give in eventually. Just like I really will switch over to Spotify one day. And I really did finally finish Three Cups of Tea.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Do you have a baby in your tummy?

Sooooo . . . this is a "fun" story. Once upon a time a four-year-old asked me if I was pregnant. It was not one of my best days. I mean, she was cute. And obviously she didn't mean anything hurtful by it. But it still stung.

I'm not pregnant, by the way. Just want to clear that up. I never have been.

But I have been overweight for most of my life. And I think the time has come to talk about it on my blog. Because what is a blog for if not the over-sharing of all your deepest darkest fears, moments of shame, and personal issues?

Oh, dear.

I hope I can do this without offending anyone. This is such a touchy subject for some people that I generally just avoid it altogether. That works out pretty well for me too because the less I think about my weight, the less worked up I get about it. And I do not like getting worked up about things. I am a chill, go-with-the-flow kind of girl.

Maybe I'll just start with some background.

I was about ten years old when I started to put on extra weight. We were living in Washington (the state) at the time, and I was in fourth or fifth grade. I have only hazy memories of how this all started. But I do remember that my parents were concerned. My dad in particular wanted to use this as an opportunity to lose some weight himself. So he invited me to start going on jogs with him around the block and to set some weight loss goals.

I love my dad. I loved spending time with him. But I hated running. It wasn't until I was eighteen that I figured out why. That's when I was diagnosed with asthma. Kind of hard to love something when it literally takes all of your breath away.

Anyway, when I was eleven we moved to California and things got worse. Sixth grade was a dark year for me. I was bullied and I didn't have the emotional wherewithal to fight back. Maybe someday I'll write a post about that too, but I doubt it. All you really need to know is that it was bad. Among other coping mechanisms, I turned to food.

Things eventually got better and I stopped gaining weight. But I was never able to lose the extra pounds I had put on, and since then my weight has stayed pretty much the same for the last fifteen years, give or take twenty pounds.

I think most people can relate to the cycle of dieting. Every so often I get really intensely interested in losing weight and I start tracking my intake and only eating certain things. I've tried lots of different methods. But eventually I lose interest and go back to my old ways. I know there are people who lose weight permanently and I totally admire them. I aspire to be like that someday.

Right now, though, my main goals are focused on being healthy and being able to do the things I want to do rather than on trying to reach a certain number on the scale. I figure if I happen to lose weight in the process of reaching my goals, that's great. But if I don't, I'm okay with that too.

Through all of this, I've had an apathetic relationship with my appearance. It's not a love/hate relationship, though I have experienced both of those feelings at times. But in general, I just tend to ignore the mirror. I live more in my mind than in my body.

And that's the issue that really bothers me.

One of the main purposes of life is to have a body. And if I spend most of my time actively ignoring my body or focusing on my internal thoughts and emotions and intellectual side--my spirit, as I call it--then I'm kind of missing the point of being alive.

That's a really easy thing to do because there are so many things that involve our spirits or our minds more than our bodies, especially in our modern world. Some of them are good things like writing or reading or listening to good music or researching something that interests us. And there are some not-so-good things like video games and tv and movies. There are certainly times when we need to use our minds more than our bodies. At work, for example, I spend a good portion of my time writing emails or using my computer. That's not taxing physical labor, but it's definitely draining.

The problem comes when we get so caught up in things that are not physically real that we lose all sense of our surroundings or fail to develop our bodies the way we develop our minds.

Elder Bednar gave an awesome talk on this subject awhile ago. He titled it "Things as They Really Are." In it, he talks about how Satan is so frustrated by his lack of a physical body that he will tempt us to misuse or flat-out ignore our own bodies in favor of virtual realities. For me, this includes time spent reading or even daydreaming.

Here's an excerpt from that talk:

And for fun, here's a Sesame Street version that emphasizes some of the same ideas. Also, I'm including this because I love Zachary Levi.

I'm not saying all video games are bad or that we should never watch a movie or read a book. What I'm saying is that I've been there. I've experienced how it feels to prefer an alternate reality instead of my own life. And eventually, that path leads me to some really negative things. Things like coveting, selfishness, a lack of gratitude, irritability, stress, and guilt.

So this is my pledge to do a better job of living in my body, flawed as it is. It's just as much a part of me as my mind, my emotions, and my dreams and ambitions. And I need to stop ignoring it. I need to find ways to be physically present in the world around me and to discover what my awesome, powerful, miraculous body is capable of. I need to look away from the screens and look outside of my mind and take in the real beauty that is all around me.

I invite you to do the same. No matter what you look like or how you feel about your body. No matter how many flaws you think it has or how harsh you think your reality is. Be there. Live in your body. See the real world around you. And be grateful for what God has given you. He sent you here to experience this world and have a body because doing so will make you more like Him.

After all, it's only when your spirit and your body are united that you can experience the truest realities, the fullest joys.

As Elder Bednar put it,
Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal estate. President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught, “Our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character.” 3 Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the classroom of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 19:6; Alma 7:12–13).
So go enjoy some "fleshy" experiences today. I'll try to do the same. And since I'm no longer going to worry too much about my appearance, here are a few pictures of me actually enjoying my body or the world around me. I'm hoping the photos will encourage me to have more experiences like these.

Note: You can watch, listen to, or read all of Elder Bednar's talk here. Or if you want to read an abridged version, go here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

How will you live without internet?

So here's the thing. At my new place all the utilities are included in my rent except cable and internet. I don't have a TV and I'm not interested in getting one, so I definitely don't need cable. 

Then I had this crazy thought, "What if I just don't have internet there either?"

I mean, I'm at work all the time and I have internet here. (I'm currently blogging on my lunch break.) It's not like I'd be totally cut off from the modern world.

But what if I made my home a refuge from the world wide web? It would seem so off the grid. In a good way, I think. Like the old family cabin we used to have up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It already looks sort of cabin-ish, right?

Of course, I say this now. Who knows how I'll feel after a week of actually living without internet at home? But I think it would be a fun experiment in simplified living. I am all about doing more with your life when you have less in your way. And I think that most people will agree that the internet is basically one big distraction. 

Sometimes it's a really good distraction. I have nothing against it on principle or anything. I think it's all in how you use it. But in order to make it a good thing for your life, you actually have to pay close attention to how you use it and why. And I find it extremely difficult to monitor myself in this area. Hours pass unnoticed sometimes. It's definitely a weak spot for me.

That's why I'm thinking maybe I need to take a break for awhile. Last year I went six weeks without facebook, and it was a bit rough. But it was refreshing too. And one thing I noticed was that I had a lot more time on my hands. Just think about how much more time I would have if I had no internet at home at all.

I actually made a list of all the things I could do if I didn't have the internet. Because when I first started to consider this idea I was like, "There's no way I could do that. What would I even do after work? How would I entertain myself?"

But it turns out there are a lot of things I like to do that I've sort of stopped doing lately because I'm too "busy." 

What am I busy doing? Who even knows? I don't feel like I spend lots of time on the internet, but maybe I do. How else do you explain all that disappearing time?

Anyway, here's my list. It may seem nerdy, but these are all things that I really like. I just never seem to get around to them anymore.

Things I Could Do Without the Internet

1. Write more
2. Sew. I like to crosstitch but I haven't done it in awhile. And I owe my brother and sister-in-law a project. Oops.
3. Go for walks. I already do this a lot, but it's really, really fun. And I should do it more.
4. Go to the temple and/or work there
5. Read
6. Study topics I find interesting
7. Listen to music
8. Do yoga
9. Get more sleep. Not sure this would actually happen, but at least I'd have the time. Theoretically.
10. Find a few public spots where I have free wifi. It'll force me to get out of the house more.
11. Ride Daphne
12. Take up a new hobby or two
13. Do puzzles
14. Cook and bake
15. Garden
16. Keep up on my written correspondence
17. Make a braided denim rug for my new living room, like this person did.

18. I also used to make wind chimes out of old hardware and wire. That would be fun to do again.
19. Invite friends over and talk to them in person instead of online
20. Volunteer

I'm sure there are other things too.

When I compare this list to the things I'll be giving up like Netflix, Words with Friends, and excessive Facebook use, there's really no comparison for me.

Also, it's not like I'll be totally without access to the internet at home. I have data on my phone that I could use in a pinch, though I'd really want to limit how often I do that.

I'm also throwing in the caveat that I would definitely need to purchase a radio. There's no way I could live alone without music playing in the background or at least the option of music playing in the background. And having a radio seems like the cheapest way to solve that issue without internet. So far on my visits there, I've just been using the music I have stored on my iPad or playing CDs on my laptop, but that selection is getting old fast. I need a radio. I need NPR and a good alternative station and a few pop and maybe even some country options.

So am I going to do it?

Yeah, I think so. At least for a little while. If I hate it, I can just sign up for service later. Plus at the moment I still have internet at my old apartment and I haven't totally moved out, so there's always that option. 

But if I like it. . . . I don't know. I feel like this could be the start of something great for me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Didn't you say you were going to blog every day in June?

Ahem. About that...

First, yes. That is what I said.

But sometimes goals need to be... adjusted.

Also, I haven't set up the internet at my new place and I don't really know if I want to do it yet or ever. I've got more to say on that subject. Some other time in some other post.

The short and short of it is: I think I'll be posting more like 2-3 times a week instead of every day.

Okay? Okay.


PS--Happy Birthday to my not-so-little-any-more brother James! (Even though he won't read this.)

Here he is in his natural habitat: reading a book and not wanting to be in a photo. ;)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Are you or are you not a vegetarian?

I am . . . not. Well . . . not at the moment. Except sometimes. But not usually.

Confused yet?

Let's just put it this way: I will never really be a vegetarian ever again because life is not worth living without bacon.

But as far as other kinds of meat? Eh.

A couple of years ago I decided that since I didn't really care about meat, it might be cool to try giving it up entirely. At the time I didn't do it because I was religiously or socially or ethically opposed to eating meat. I just thought it might be a cool experiment. Kind of like blogging every day has been a cool experiment for the month of June.

I wanted to see how long I could go without eating meat and how much it would actually affect my life. Interestingly enough, once I stopped eating meat, I started to learn about the ugly side of the meat industry, which I won't go into here, and I sort of became morally opposed after the fact. That lasted a year or so. And then it just became a pain.

Like with most things there were some good and bad consequences of going meatless.

1. I definitely put more thought into what I was eating.
2. My fast food choices were extremely limited so I didn't eat out nearly as much.
3. I felt healthier.
4. I learned to cook some interesting foods that added variety to my diet, like Boca Burgers and tofu and quinoa. (I am not good at making those last two. Just so you know.)
5. I figured out which kinds of meat I actually like (pork). Which ones are just okay (beef and seafood). And which ones I really don't like much at all (poultry).
5. I fell in love with the sofritas bowl at Chipotle. So yum.

1. The social inconvenience. It can be really annoying for people who are making you food to have to make something separate for you. And when you're trying to go out to eat with people, it's sometimes a damper for them to have to choose a restaurant based on your food preferences.
2. Every once in awhile it was really, really hard not to want that meat texture. I don't typically crave it, but there's really not much else that has the same chewiness.
3. There's still a little bit of a stigma attached to being vegetarian. Not so much in California, which is where I was at the time. But I can see how it might raise a few eyebrows here in Utah.

All in all, I'm glad I tried it. Every so often I consider doing it again. But usually it only lasts a day or two now. Just enough to get me thinking again about what exactly I'm eating.

I really think the most important lesson I learned was to be conscious in my food choices. You can do that without becoming a vegetarian. Whether it's leaving out a certain food group or fasting once a month or adding a new recipe every week, each of us can find something that helps us think about what we're eating, why we're eating it, and whether or not it's really the right thing to be eating at that moment.

But on the other hand, if you're thinking about eating bacon, it's always the right thing to be eating at that moment.

Just saying.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

What would you tell your nineteen-year-old self?

Today is my half birthday. I am twenty-nine and a half years old.

Typically on my birthdays and other significant dates I get a bit nostalgic, thinking about all the years I've lived and how well (or not) I've filled them with good things. I doubt I'm alone in this.

This morning I woke up before seven on a Sunday, which is what happens when you're as old as I am and you also happen to be a morning person. So I decided to go for a walk up on BYU campus, my alma mater.

I think I've mentioned before that college was not the best of times. It was pretty much the worst of times for me. Well, parts of it anyway. Walking around campus reminded me of lots of other walks I'd taken there back when things were not as promising for me as they are now.

There's one path in particular that I used to love. It's along the western side of campus. Now that they've demolished the terraced gardens on the south hill to make way for the great and spacious Life Sciences Building, this path is pretty much the only get-at-able piece of wilderness within walking distance.

When I was in school, this place was a miniature escape from whatever massive assignment I couldn't face right then. As I walked there this morning, I remembered the girl I used to be. That poor, scared, lonely girl in flared jeans, a ponytail, and her favorite fuzzy green sweater. If I could go back and meet that girl now on one of my walks, I'd give her a hug. I'd tell her she's doing a great job at being a grown-up, even though she wouldn't believe me.

But the most important thing I'd want to tell her is that THINGS WILL WORK OUT.

I'm the kind of person who likes to plan for the future. But in college, I had no plans. I didn't know exactly what I would do after I graduated. I hoped I'd get married at some point, but I didn't know to whom. All in all, my future was one giant haze lurking in the distance, and the sight of it scared me to death.

It was paralyzing in a way. Because how could I keep working toward something if I didn't even know what that something was?

In the decade since then, I'd like to say that I've learned not to worry about the future. But that's not actually true. I still worry. The difference is that I've seen enough of life to know that it's okay to not know what's coming.

Yes, it's important to make goals and to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. But when it comes down to it, the only person who really knows what your life will bring is God. And in general, He only shows you the path ahead one little step at a time. I've also learned that this is probably a good thing. Even if it's frustrating sometimes. Okay. A lot of the time.

So now that I'm twenty-nine-and-a-half years old, I'm going to pretend for a minute that I'm thirty-five and a half. (The thought of ever being thirty-nine is still too creepy.) And I'm going to give my present self the same message I'd give that lonely nineteen-year-old:

"Heidi, things will work out. I know you aren't sure right now what your five-year-plan is. I know you have all these dreams you've been working toward and you don't know if they'll ever be a reality. But you are destined for greatness. Keep working hard. Keep setting goals. Stay close to the Lord. And things will work out. In the end, everything will work out so much better than you can imagine right now."

If you don't believe all this coming from me. Maybe you'll believe it from President Hinckley. This is one of my all-time favorite quotes:

Believe in yourself. Believe in your capacity to do great and good things. Believe that no mountain is too high that you cannot climb it. Believe that no storm is too great that you cannot weather it. You are not destined to be a scrub. You are a child of God, of infinite capacity. Believe that you can do it, whatever it is that you set your heart on. Opportunities will unfold and open before you. The skies will clear when they have been dark with portent.

Appropriately, this quote is from a commencement address President Hinckley gave at BYU-Hawaii in December 2004, right around the same time I used to wander that path on the west side of campus.

I need those words just as much today as I did then. I think we all need them sometimes. We need to remember that there is more to life than what we can see ahead of us. We need to have hope and faith, even when things look dark.

And most of all we need to remember that things will work out.

With God's help, things will always work out.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What should I do to prepare for my first 5K?

Well, I can tell you a couple of things you should definitely not do.

Like don't forget that you have asthma until you're thirty seconds into the race and it's too late to go back and get your inhaler.

Other than the lack of oxygen to my brain and the cough I had afterward that made it sound like I was a lung cancer patient, I had a great time at my first 5K! I've always been opposed to these kind of big group races on principle because I hated the thought of running in a group.

The only times I've ever run in group settings have been in school, and it was the worst. I'll admit, I am not a big fan of running in general, even though I love walking and hiking. Probably has something to do with that pesky asthma thing. So in school I would always come in close to the end and I resented the whole ordeal.

Then last year I made a new year's resolution to go running and it lasted for awhile. I found out that I don't mind running when I'm by myself and can go at my own pace while listening to music. Sometimes I even like it. But still I resisted the idea of a race because I don't like crowds and noise and people in general.

So when I got an email at work about the upcoming Springville Art City Days Family Fun Run 5K and found out that a bunch of my coworkers had been running it together for the past few years, I was hesitant. I guess I got positive peer pressured into it. I signed up, but I was still on the fence about whether or not I would actually go.

Even this morning as I arrived and saw everyone walking up to the starting line, I considered turning back. But I'm glad I didn't. It was a good experience. I didn't run the whole thing; I mostly walked. But I finished in a respectable time and it felt good to know I had done it.

Plus the best part was at the very beginning of the race when I realized that I didn't have to run with anyone at all. I saw a few of my coworkers at the starting line and a few more said hi along the way, but for the most part I ran all by myself, with just my iPhone's pop playlist for company.

The other cool part was seeing how many different people came to participate. There were people of all ages and sizes and ability levels. I definitely didn't feel out of place.

All in all, I had a great time. Thank goodness for peer pressure, huh?

After the race there was a raffle with lots of cool prizes. I didn't win anything. Maybe next year.

So many people. And I didn't have to run with any of them!

Friday, June 6, 2014

How does your garden grow?

Really well! It's quite surprising!

I always expect the worst when I garden, so it's always a surprise when things actually sprout and grow bigger and then become real plants with leaves and everything.

So far I've only planted my planter box at work and all I planted was corn because as it turns out, corn requires a lot of space to grow properly. Which meant I didn't have room for anything else.

I suspect that this tendency to expect the worst hints at some deep psychological flaw I have, but I don't really want to get into all that right now. I'm much too busy catching up on Sherlock via Netflix.

And besides, I'd rather show you these cute photos of my corn plants.

Don't judge me for not thinning them yet. I hate doing it. I'll probably just end up letting them grow all close together. Well, actually I'll probably shift them all around so that they're not too close and then all the ones I move and half the ones I don't will be so disturbed by my messing with them that they'll wilt and die. Oh well. It was  fun while it lasted.

I haven't named them yet or anything, but I might eventually. At this point there's still a chance we could get a late freeze that kills them all off.

See what I mean about expecting the worst?

Okay, that's all you get from me today. I'm really, really busy. We're talking hours of television that need to be watched.

See you all tomorrow. Sometime after my first 5K. Pretty sure I'm going to hate it. I love walking but only as a solitary activity. Crowds are the worst.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Have you ever written fanfiction?

Um . . . yes.

Oh, boy. The secret is out.

It's true. I did write fanfiction. It's actually how I practiced editing and writing before I even started taking any of my editing classes in college. Then as I did take my classes, I kept beta-reading for other fanfiction writers as a way to hone my editing skills. I don't really know why it's called beta-reading, but it is. And it's a good way to practice becoming an editor. I wasn't as interested in the writing side of things until later on, but I liked knowing that I was helping people and building friendships as we all shared our writing with each other. In fact I'm still friends with a few people from my fanfic days. (You know who you are.)

Of course, I never wanted anyone in my real life to find out that I wrote at all, much less fanfiction. So I would stay up really late at night and write and write and write and then post something and go to bed. Not unlike blogging, actually. Then the next morning I'd wake up and desperately want to find out who read something I wrote and how many people read it and what they thought. It was thrilling in a weird secret sort of way.

Sometimes I worry that I'm getting too into this blogging thing. That I'm becoming obsessed with it or something. But then I remember my fanfic days and realize I've got a long way to go before I'm actually obsessed.

To pre-empt the inevitable follow-up question: No, I will not show you where to find it online. But it is still out there on the interwebs. It's just not very good. I mean, it's okay.  But I could do better. In order to protect my now-not-so-secret identity, I won't even tell you what show/movie/book/thing(s) it was about.

But I will share with you this short story from about the same time period so you can see an example of my writing from back then. It actually started out as fanfiction and then I adapted it and used it as my final piece in the only creative writing class I ever took in my whole life. It was during my final semester of college, so that would be fall of 2008. I don't think I've written a short story since then. Maybe one or two, but they're not really my thing. I like this one, though. Mostly for sentimental reasons. I mean, it's really not that good. Don't feel obliged to read it or anything. I know it's long. Okay, I'll stop talking now.


Puzzled. That was how he felt—puzzled. How could something that looked so simple have turned out so complicated?
All the right pieces were there. They should have come together so easily. The picture always looks perfect on the box when you start the puzzle, but then you open the box and see everything jumbled up and you think it will be an impossible task to sort it into meaning. Edges here. Blue water here. Mountains. Wildflowers here. And over here some other things that don’t fit in any category. Five thousand pieces of confusion that may never make any sense.
Goodbye,” he says, holding his hand out to her. He wants nothing more than to softly weave his fingertips in the ends of her curls. But instead she shakes his hand quickly, then drops it. The night is cool and moist with the remnants of a summer shower.
She looks up at him for a moment. In the dimmed light from the porch lamp behind them he wonders if he can make out a frown, but it’s been too long since he was able to read her expression clearly, even in the searing light of noon, and now her eyes just look blank.
With another sigh he backs away slowly. He’s holding his breath as he turns to open his car door.
Call me when you get settled?” She says it like a question, not a command.
It’s not enough, and he imagines himself marching right back across the lawn to her to tell her so. That’s the kind of thing you say to your grandkids when they’re headed back for their third year of college. It’s not the thing to say now.
He nods slightly in response. Then he shuts the car door behind him, being careful not to do it too hard because he doesn’t want her to think he’s slamming it. He starts the engine and shifts into drive.
Twenty minutes later he’s on the freeway already multiple miles away. The darkness of the lonely road engulfing him, he lets a few tears drift down his face and doesn’t bother to wipe them away.
Piece no. 718: the view of their house from across the street.
Driving home from his new office, he looks out his car window. Where everyone else sees the ocean, he sees a patch of green lawn in front of a little, yellow house with white shutters and a porch. The images haunt him wherever he goes. Sometimes he’ll look up in the grocery store and know he just saw her turn the corner into the next aisle, but when he gets there it’s another head of curls framing a stranger’s face and that’s when his heart starts beating again and he reminds himself that she couldn’t be here because he is here and all she wants now is to be where he isn’t.
Yesterday would have been their five-year anniversary. Five years is less than the time they spent as friends before they finally got together; once they were married they couldn’t even make it for three.
He had tried calling her; she hadn’t answered. He hung up once. When he called back he left a short message on the machine. He tried to void his voice of emotion as he wished her well and hoped she was doing great, really great. Still, when he hung up he was certain she would feel the tension he hadn’t been able to erase.
He had also tried not to get her a gift this year. He wouldn’t send it, of course; he’d learned his lesson that first year they were apart. But it was her favorite kind of present: a first edition of an out of print book, The Sculptural Landscape of Jane Frank. He’d gotten some pencils to go along with it. The soft smudgy kind that used to mark her presence all over his laundry and the walls of their house. He just couldn’t bear the thought of letting someone else buy the book as a present for his wife who might love it, but more than that she would love her husband for being so thoughtful. If he couldn’t have that then why should they?
He set it on the top shelf in his hall closet next to the birthday presents he hadn’t been able to resist either. One for Sarah and one for another girl whose birthday he will never forget.
It’s called grieving, and it’s totally natural that you should feel this way. It just takes time, Jon. Don’t be so hard on yourself, huh?”
Her office was light with a modern feel and funky furniture, but not a reclining couch or a notepad full of diagnoses to be seen. He wondered why he’d come. What could this annoyingly straight-haired, fashionably dressed woman possibly know about grieving?
But, I can’t… I don’t think it should be this bad, you know? Not now, I mean. It’s been a year almost.”
I know,” she replied, still in that too-calm voice of hers. “But think about it. How long did you spend being in love with her?”
Too long,” He spat out the bitter words.
Hey,” she said, her voice still calm, but authoritative.
Was she worth it?”
He paused. He knew his answer, but he didn’t want to hear it out loud.
And if you had to do it again, knowing that it wouldn’t last, would you still let yourself fall in love with her?”
It’s the end of another summer and he’s sitting on the beach. He’s absently grabbing handfuls of still-warm sand to squeeze into his fist. The tide is just beginning to come in and the beach stretches out almost impossibly far. Beyond it the sun is setting, and as he’s watching the fluorescent red circle drop into the horizon he thinks that this is the kind of thing he would do with her if she were here.
Everything is the kind of thing he would do with her if he could only see her again.
Piece no. 3,768: the way her forehead would scrunch up in concentration as she sketched his hands.
It had been a thing of theirs, for a time. She would help him to get his hand to fall “naturally” but in just a certain way and then he would stay there, frozen, watching her eyes as she studied him. Talking quietly now and then, they would let the peace of an empty afternoon stretch into evening and when they were done she would show him the record of their time together in the form of some particularly well-recorded tendons, and in her creations he would see himself as he never had before.
He found three of these forgotten pages tucked into one of his books a few months ago. At the time he had hesitated, wondering if he should send them to her, or save them, or just throw them out. Finally he’d slipped them back in where he’d found them.
His signature is so much broader than hers. You could blame it on handwriting differences between genders, but it’s more than that, he thinks.
All done there, Mr. Ellison?”
Uh, yeah, I guess. I, I think so. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
With an indulgent smile on a face full of patronizing sympathy, the man returns, “Now, Mr. Ellison, that’s the question I’m supposed to ask you.”
He nods, storing the words “divorce lawyer” in his memory, labeling them as just another piece to sort into another pile. He can’t fathom how this piece will ever fit into their puzzle.
Her hair had been short on that day they first met, just barely brushing her shoulders. She’d smiled at him in the elevator first.
Hi, I’m Jon,” he’d said, hand extended.
I’m Sarah.”
So you work here, too?”
I’m the office manager.”
Oh, cool.” He hesitated. “It’s my first day.”
Yeah, well, that explains why you think it’s cool to be an office manager.”
Aw, come on, I’ll bet you get to do lots of cool stuff.”
Right. The endless joys of faxing.”
The elevator door had dinged and with a set of wry smiles they’d walked down the hallway together.
He spent that first night of being alone (more alone than he’d ever been before, more alone even than he had been before he met her, or in all those longing years before she was his) at a rest stop, sleeping in the driver’s seat from three to six am. He drove until he was too tired to think, wanting to ensure that there would be no waking moments in which to contemplate his current state. When the sun came up in the treetops he started the engine again. Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake City, he’d drive as far as he had to, so long as it would keep the numbness intact.
Jon? It’s me. Um, I don’t know if… well, uh, anyway I just thought you should know that I got a wedding invitation from Michelle today. She and Harry are finally getting married. It’s in April and um, well, it’s addressed to both of us because, you know I guess you probably didn’t have time to tell them before you left, so… yeah. Just thought I should let you know. Okay. Bye.” He kept the message for months even though it was crowded with words that made him cringe every time he heard her say them: “wedding,” “married,” “finally,” “us.”
Piece no. 2,643: that time they went to the park on a Sunday afternoon and watched all the little kids climbing on the jungle gym.
He laid his hand over her belly, rubbing his thumb back and forth, trying to grasp that there was a life in there somewhere. Their baby.
She looked up at him and he moved his thumb to her cheek.
I love you.”
Really? I hadn’t noticed,” she whispered back.
He just shook his head at her, smiling. I can’t believe this is really happening.”
I know. It’s so fast, isn’t it?”
I guess so, yeah. But I’m so excited.” He smiled again.
Me too, but, I don’t know, I guess I’m just worried, you know? Do you really think we’re ready for this? I don’t even know what you’re supposed to buy for a baby.”
My mom was saying there are all kinds of stores with registries and stuff. We’ll figure it out.”
Yeah. We’ll have to figure everything out.”
What do you mean?”
Well, you know, work, day care, all that.”
He found it amusing how her forehead was beginning to scrunch up a little with worry. “Sarah, seriously, we have months to get ready. It’ll be fine, trust me.” He leaned down to kiss her forehead. “You’re gonna be a great mom.”
Their baby lived four months. They named her Hope. She took theirs with her.
He’s not that old, even though after everything that has happened he feels like he’s middle-aged. But in reality, he’s still in his thirties for a few more years, in fact.
He sits. One hand cups his chin, keeping his head upright. The other hand roams across the table he bought used. His fingers trace connections between the knots and cracks and gouges in the wood. Distressed was what they called it, and the style had seemed fitting.
He gazes out the window at the gray storm clouds on the horizon. He thinks he might cancel that blind date his coworker arranged for him to go on tomorrow. It’s still too soon, and also he has a lot of things to catch up on this weekend, and besides that, he’s not sure he’s willing to inflict himself on some poor unsuspecting woman just yet. And besides all that, he’s still in love with his ex.
So, you see, don’t you? What I’m getting at? Even though it hurts, isn’t it that same hurt that made the happy time you had together so wonderful?” The office is much too white, the furniture too slick. He actually thinks he might have preferred a couch of some sort.
I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry.”
Jon, wait. I know it hurts to talk about it, but I think you really need to—”
He shut the door behind him and practically sprinted to his car. It took him four hours of driving down twisting, aimless roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains and more than half a tank of gas to force himself to finally return to his apartment.
He didn’t know how to keep Sarah from crying in the middle of the night. Every time he tried to hold her she pushed his arms away, or got up to go sit in the rocking chair in the baby’s room, leaving him with his own private grief.
Piece no. 1,084: the ebb and flow of pillow fighting.
He hadn’t meant to make it so, but over time he found he could measure the status of their relationship by the number of pillow fights they had every month. When there were a lot of them or a particularly long one that involved running from room to room in their house, they were doing well. When he couldn’t even get Sarah to toss a throw pillow back at him, he knew there was something wrong.
One time they’d invited their coworkers Harry and Michelle over to their house for a barbeque and by the end of the night everyone had a pillow in their hands and there were shifting alliances and safe spots placed strategically around the house.
The casualty of that night was well worth it for the sly smiles they shared for months afterward every time they noticed the bare spot on their end table where a lamp they’d gotten as a wedding present had once been.
I’m so sorry for your loss.”
He nodded, looking down into Michelle’s eyes and catching the sincerity there in spite of her stale words.
Across the room from him Sarah was surrounded by her family. Her back was turned to him, but he could tell by the way her shoulders were shaking that she was crying again. As Sarah’s mom wrapped her arms around Sarah’s shoulders, Jon wished he could be the one holding her, but when he had tried it earlier she had merely stood there limply then walked away muttering something about just leaving her alone in a low voice that hadn’t sounded like hers.
Michelle tapped his shoulder and gave him a small smile. Then Harry was hugging him and Jon was so stunned and drained at that point that he just let it happen.
He wasn’t sure he had ever seen Sarah wear black before this week.
Here the sun would come out now and again to warm the sand, even in December. Here the distance to the stars appeared farther because the sky appeared bigger with only water to greet it on one side. Here the clouds blew in from the west in gusts and puffs and drizzles. Here he settled to forget everything that had come before. Here he was no closer to finishing the puzzle.
The fluorescent lights overhead only illuminate that he’s alone. It’s past ten and he’s forgotten how to stand up. He looks around their kitchen and thinks about how he needs to start the dishwasher. She left a note about staying with her parents for a few days and how he shouldn’t call her while she’s gone. He doesn’t know where she keeps the extra detergent, or if they even have any, but he’ll manage somehow.
For some reason he’s reminded of the first night they spent together. It had been almost too simple. After years of worrying about ruining their friendship, he’d just told her he loved her because he had to. She had responded eagerly because she needed to.
When he’d met her here in this kitchen the next morning, he’d tried to kiss her and she’d pushed him back a step, back into the early-morning darkness and the reality that everything was changing. And like a coward he had let her one little push propel him farther and farther away. He’d been too broken to do otherwise.
His head jerks up when he suddenly realizes that she’s doing it again. It’s taking more force this time to cast him off from her, but she’s pushing, and because he loves her, and all he has ever wanted was for her to be happy, he has no idea how to get her to stop.
When the phone connected she didn’t say anything and he thought maybe he should have ignored her and not called, even though technically she had asked him to on the night he left and it was the first time in the weeks since then that he’d actually felt “settled” enough to do it.
Hi,” he said finally, giving up on her speaking first.
I’m sorry, is it late there?”
No, I haven’t eaten dinner yet.”
So…what time is it there?” The words stung with memories of other phone calls from times they’d been apart, but this time they weren’t saying hello. This time they were saying goodbye.
Um, it’s a little after five.”
Oh, right, yeah.”
So do you like California?”
Um, I don’t really know yet. I guess, I think so. I hope so.”
Uh huh.”
Sarah?” His voice was too intense and he knew it, but he couldn’t help himself.
Yeah?” From across a continent he could still hear the way her voice trembled on the word.
I… I still love you.”
For a long time they were silent—he kept thinking she was about to say something else and he didn’t want to interrupt just in case.
Then finally she said, “I have to go.”
Right, yeah. Me too. Um, but do you think, I mean, could I call you again sometime soon?”
Uh, I, I don’t know. I think maybe, actually, I really do have to go. But I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”
Oh, okay.” The faint static disappeared before he had time to finish. “Bye,” he whispered.
Piece no. 4,435: the smell of her chocolate chip cookies baking in the middle of the night.
She would never tell him what was in the recipe, which, as he argued, was just silly because she really shouldn’t have to get up at two in the morning and make herself chocolate chip cookies just because she was craving them and she couldn’t stay asleep. If she would only tell him, he could make her a batch every night before they went to bed and then they wouldn’t have this problem. Or she could freeze a big batch of dough for him to thaw out and bake while she kept her swollen feet elevated on the couch.
But there was something in the baking of them, she claimed, that could calm her down after even the most horrible of nightmares. She had them frequently these days. Sometimes about ridiculous things like giving birth to a monster or being at the hospital and then having the baby suddenly disappear. Sometimes about vague things like catastrophic explosions or men with hoods and guns. And sometimes about things that didn’t sound scary at all when she tried to explain them to him but that would still leave her clammy half an hour later.
It was funny how being pregnant had revived her interest in cooking. He knew, because she’d told him, that as a teenager she’d loved cooking with her grandmother, but since they’d been married they had always traded off on the domestic duties, including cooking. So it was strange now to come home to a full meal every night. Not that he was complaining, of course. He just wanted her to know that she didn’t have to do it all on her own, even if she was spending most of her days at home now, and he was putting in as much overtime as possible and saving up his vacation days for when the baby arrived.
Besides, he missed the way they used to share the kitchen. He leaning against the counter, calmly stirring something, she fluttering around nervously, trying to mince, separate, core, and carve all at the same time.
There was one time, right after it happened, that she let him hold her. The night after the funeral, while her mom was out buying groceries, he came into their room to find her curled in a ball in the middle of their bed. Silently he’d shed his shoes and slipped between the sheets, pulling her into him and keeping her tightly there as the sobs ripped through them both.
I’m sorry,” she had whispered. “This is all my fault.”
Jon? It’s Sarah. I know it’s been a long time. Sorry, I meant to call you sooner. I, I hope you had a good Christmas. Um…well…bye.”
For the umpteenth time as he dialed her number over and over he cursed the thoughtless way he’d left his cell phone in his apartment instead of taking it with him when he went to play basketball at the park down the street.
Outside in the January twilight, the palm trees dipped and swung in the wind from a rising storm.
He left twenty-six voicemail messages over the next week. She never picked up.
Sometimes in the darkness as he’s trying to fall asleep after another endless day, he whispers her name, “Sarah.” Then their daughter’s name, “Hope.” Then his own, “Jon.” Reminders that for a precious piece of time he’d had his perfect family.
On that second night of being alone after being with her, he’d stopped at a cheap motel. He couldn’t remember the name of the city now, or even which state it had been in. But he couldn’t forget the feel of the unfamiliar sheets or the flash of the muted television that he left on all night long so that it would never get too dark and quiet.
And he can remember how in the morning he’d had breakfast, his first meal in nearly two days. He had ordered pancakes and orange juice at the counter of a restaurant with shabby bar stools and stocky men laughing over their coffee.
He ate two plates of pancakes dripping with super-sweet syrup. Thirty-five minutes later he pulled off the highway and threw it all up in a corn field.
It was a Tuesday night. They’d just finished dinner. He was thinking about having another roll and wondering if she’d let him help her with the dishes.
I think I want a divorce,” she said. He let the word linger in the air, afraid to touch it for fear it would become real.
I don’t understand.”
I just, I can’t do this anymore.”
Please. Sarah, please don’t. Just, just tell me what to do. I’ll do anything, I swear.”
You can’t fix this, Jon. I… I can’t… I’m really sorry. I just… need to be alone. I can’t be with you anymore.”
Please.” It was all he could get out from beneath the lump in his throat.
Neither of them did the dishes that night.
One winter when they had only been married for a few months they took a trip to a bed and breakfast in Vermont. From the oversized chair next to the window they had sat curled up in each other to watch the snow fall down in graceful swirls of flakes. They’d talked about the rest of their lives together and how happy they were to have found each other finally.
None of their plans that day had included the minute he was living now as the sun came up and he drove in to work along a familiar route that took him down the coastline for a few miles. This moment when he was hoping only to make it through the days until Christmas when he could go home to be with his parents, and his sister, and her husband, and their kids. When he could be at least near Sarah since he couldn’t be with her.
This moment when he was thinking about how on Christmas Eve, he would take Hope’s birthday present to the cemetery and then pretend not to notice when his dad went out later that night and snuck it back to their house to donate to another little girl for her Christmas.
This moment when he suppressed the tears because it had been almost six years since that trip to Vermont and he wouldn’t let himself walk into work with puffy, tell-tale eyes.
In time, the tears came less and less frequently. Not because he was getting better, but simply because he had reached a point where like those graphs he had learned about in high school algebra he was stretching farther and farther out to infinity, though he would never quite touch the x-axis. He had resigned himself to his new life without her. Not accepted, but resigned.
Perhaps one day it wouldn’t matter that acceptance could never be reached. At some point the distance between himself and the x-axis would have to become so small that it could be called unimportant even if it never really went away. That was what he told himself.
He kept going home for Christmas just to be close to her. Every year he would borrow his dad’s old pickup and drive the same route. He left from his parents' house; passed the office where they’d met at work, wondering if Harry and Michelle were still working there; drove through their old neighborhood, pausing only for a minute in front of their little yellow house, now painted a neutral green; then to the cemetery; and last he would make the long drive to her parent’s house where he would inch his way past, hoping to glimpse her familiar movements as shadows against her mother’s antique curtains.
One year her parent’s house had been dark by the time he reached it, and he’d parked the car across the street and just sat there with the heater running for a long time. It didn’t matter if she was there or not. He just needed to imagine that she could be.
On their seven-year anniversary he forgot to buy her a present. And when he realized what he’d done he wanted to call her to apologize.
Piece no: 2,566: not wearing a ring.
Six months after arriving in California he forced himself to stop wearing his wedding ring. He kept it in a box in his dresser. Sometimes he put it on just to make sure it would still fit. One time he slept with it on for a few nights in a row. Then he put it back in the box.
He walked down the hallway to his kitchen, made himself a sandwich, and called that girl he’d met at a mutual friend’s house a few nights earlier.
They went out twice. But, as he told his sister when she called to ask how it was going, “she just wasn’t his type.”
Whenever he returned to Monterey after a Christmas in Pennsylvania it struck him how few trees there were here. He noticed it again as he merged onto the freeway after retrieving his car from the long-term parking at SFO. The snow he didn’t miss too much. But the trees had always been one of those things that as a kid he just thought of as normal until he saw pictures of other scenery and remembered that not all places were the same.
January was the hardest month, of course, but he’d accepted that long ago, and as he neared his apartment he braced himself for another year of storing up the pieces.
It’s the shock of hearing her say his name that makes him realize this isn’t just another dream in which she shows up on his doorstep in that quiet, restless time between dinner and sleep. Behind her the palm trees sway softly and the intermittent noise of traffic drowns the distant sounds of the surf.
Can I come in?”
Yes, yes, of course, please.” He stumbles on the words and regrets each one as soon as it’s out of his mouth. After all these years he still sounds much too eager and the last thing he wants to do is drive her away with his enthusiasm.
But instead of stepping back she walks to his couch and sits down on one side, leaving ample room for him on the other end.
What, what are you doing here?” he asks as he sits.
I came to see you.”
It had to be a dream. There was no other explanation for this moment—yet another moment they hadn’t planned on that snowy day in Vermont.
Jon?” Again it is her voice saying his name that shakes him from his reverie.
I just can’t believe you’re here.”
I’m sorry. I should’ve called.”
No. No, no, no, no. It’s fine. I mean, it’s better than fine. I’m really glad you came. I just, still can’t believe that you did.”
She smiles at him shyly and he can’t help but smile back. And then he’s pulling her in for a hug and her eyes are full of tears.
They sit that way for a few minutes. He wants to just take in the feel of her again: her smell, her body shifting subtly as she breathes in and out. The facts of her presence.
There are still too many things to say. Too many ways this could vanish in the distance like a pair of retreating tail lights in his rearview mirror, or blow away like fall leaves in a big gust of wind. But he has her in his arms. He has that familiar, semi-sad smile. He has the soft lamp light reflecting off her corkscrew curls. And for a second there he had those innocent, brown eyes that have never failed to remind him of Hope. And those things put together like that are enough.
For now those things are enough.
For now until they share a smile over a small table in some sticky sandwich shop and he coaxes a giggle out from between her lips. For now until he drags her barefoot feet to meet the surf, even though it’s January, and they both pretend not to notice that his hand is on the small of her back as they walk in the wet sand. For now until some day when they finally talk about everything that happened and all the little things they haven’t been able to say in the time since she asked him to leave. For now until he pries her out of their old life and fastens her securely into her place in this new one.
For now until he can get all the pieces to fit in just right.

For now those things are enough.