Sunday, October 29, 2006

Open House-aversary

Today is our house-aversary!

Okay, I know that's a fake word. See, last year, on this date, an intrepid group of folks helped JG and me pack up our one-bedroom apartment and move into our new house: #716. After a quick rundown of my system (“Here’s the fragile room”, “This is stuff that can go on the bottom of piles”, etc.), they artfully packed up two pickups, two minivans, and several cars full of red Staples copy boxes and our paltry hand-me-down furniture. Due to our general lack of possessions, we started at 8am and finished in time to have lunch, which was provided by JG’s parents, bless them. I can’t look around this house without thinking about our friend who unloaded and sorted our many books; there’s also a very handy friend who changed our locks for us right after we pulled in the driveway. I am so grateful to have had that support when we were moving, and without those great people, that day would have been so very stressful. Instead, it was pretty fun and definitely memorable.

We never had a proper housewarming party because the first few months of home ownership were a blur of sorting through boxes and figuring out things like water and heat, so! Today, we tried to make up for it with a house-aversary party – an open house with lots of snacky foods, tours of rooms we’d painted, and stories of the past year.

Our fresh jack o’ lanterns welcomed our friends throughout the afternoon, and we enticed them into staying with mulled cider, taco dip, veggies, candy corn, and baked goods – chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and snickerdoodles, oh my! I gave a few tours of the house, making a point to emphasize the six (!) rooms that JG painted since April. Everyone murmured admiringly, especially regarding his cutting-in and taping expertise. Our friends’ young boys individually added to the entertainment value by thumping out a beat on JG’s klong yaw, discovering The Complete Calvin and Hobbes with a little hyperventilation, and wearing a Dalmatian costume for the entire time. My made-up holiday was such a great excuse to make a lot of food, invite friends over, and talk and laugh about the past year. Our friends couldn’t believe it had been that long already, and honestly, neither could I.

After the last guest had left, we’d blown out the candles in our pumpkins, and set the house back in order, I sat down on the couch with a leftover mug of mulled cider cupped in my hands. I sipped and reflected on how different the house looked in just twelve months, how automatic to me that the notion of home was equivalent to this little blue split-level in the middle of our street. It warmed me to know that people loved our house because I love it, too.

Happy House-aversary, #716!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Guts and Seeds

I didn’t know that there is something oddly satisfying about reaching a hand into the center of a pumpkin and emerging with a handful of stringy entrails and dripping with juices. Ah, Halloween.

It was my second stab (ha) at carving a pumpkin. The last time was three years ago when JG took me to his parents’ house in an effort to continue reclaiming my childhood. See, his growing-up was filled with rituals like carving pumpkins, taking bike rides, and going sledding. For me, these were rare, if nonexistent activities, for better or for worse. Ever since I’ve met him, JG has been catching me up, so to speak. He cleaned out my pumpkin before I cautiously carved a picture of a witch, and my first-ever jack o’ lantern came back to school with me for its place of honor in my dorm room.

Tonight, JG had to give me a refresher course on the best way to dismember my victim. I let him do the initial incision and cut out the cap, and then came my task of extracting the innards so that JG could toast up some seeds for snacking. It's my habit to anthropomorphize things, and it was a strangely visceral motion to grasp the guts of something, even if it was inanimate. I thought, morbidly, that it was how I imagined harvesting organs might be … not that I know anything about harvesting organs. For the next couple of hours, I sat pretzel-style at the kitchen table with my pumpkin cradled in my lap as I punched out the creepy Welcome sign pattern and connected the dots with a tiny saw. JG finished his pumpkin at least an hour before I did and he got to work on the seeds. Soon, the aroma of toasted seeds mingled with the fresh vegetable smell from wet pumpkin on my hands. Two blisters and a sore right arm later, I had a nicely carved pumpkin for our front stoop and pumpkin seeds to nosh, plus the tension-taming experience of wrestling a big old gourd into submission and quality time with the boy. Maybe it's not everyone's idea of a fun Friday night, but I'll take it any day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hashing It Out

Technology, you have not been my friend of late. In light of recent events, I approach our relationship with trepidation and I hope that you can be nicer to me in the future.

I think I know when we started to grow apart. I was setting up my laptop, and when I lifted it slightly over my head to adjust the cord, I let out an earsplitting “AUGH!” and flopped on the couch. I flopped partly out of pain, but mostly due to humiliation, because I somehow managed to drop my laptop on my face. My klutziness rewarded me with a fat lip, a bruised ego, and JG muttering about how he’d be called up for spousal abuse one of these days, blah blah blah.

And then you got back at me for my flagrant misuse of my laptop as a weapon, albeit against myself. I set up my power cord on top of the couch cushion next to me, and suddenly, I felt an intense pain in the top of my head. Every time I moved, it got worse, and I panicked, making trapped-animal noises while JG looked at me, stunned. I reached up, discovered the problem, and whimpered, “My hair…is caught on my power cord!” My superfine hair was snarled around the rubber button on the belt-like part of the cord. JG had to unwind it as I cringed all the while.

So, now I’m a little bit wary of the new toy you've brought into my life. After years of old-school day planners, I finally took the plunge and got a PDA. Aren’t you proud of me, Technology? So far, this little iPod impersonator hasn’t smacked me around for being klutzy or long-haired, so I’m beginning to think that you’re using it to get on my good side. Or maybe also to give me alerts about meetings and provide a central holding place for the contact information of my friends who insist on moving or getting married. (Or both! Geez.) If you’re trying to make nice, you’re doing a good job. I’ll try not to drop my laptop on myself in the future and we can call it a deal. Okay?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It Has to Boil

I was not a patient child. I am not currently a patient, ah, young adult. When I was younger, I was told that “a watched pot never boils”, which never made sense to me. The literalist in me knew that water would eventually have to boil, given enough heat. Who cares if someone’s watching it? While I'm on it, the pot doesn't boil, the water does, so ha! I bring up this tired cliché because I find myself watching yet another pot, and I don’t know if it will boil, much to my dismay.

A few months ago, after a particularly trying week at work, I made a decision to start looking for another job. It wasn’t an aggressive job search, but I wanted to see what else might be available. Since then, I’ve started interviewing for a position at a company that has an amazing, if not the best, reputation in the area. The position is fairly similar to what I do now, and there are various opportunities and areas where I could grow; in my current company, my professional development is no one’s priority except mine, and that is a continuing frustration. One of my interviews was with a girl who has the job currently, and as corny as it sounds, I felt like we were kindred spirits in our love for spreadsheets. Each time I’ve come in for an interview, I’ve felt totally welcome and comfortable, and after three interviews in three weeks, I’m excited about the prospect of taking on this role.

Or as I might say outside of an interview setting, I reallyreallyreally want this job!

My second interview at the beginning of this month was supposed to be the final one so that the department could bring someone in by the end of the month. When I expected to have a decision by mid-October, I got a call for a “supplemental interview” instead. I took the afternoon off last week, had more good interactions, and was told that I'd hear something by last Friday.

When my cell phone vibrated, I jumped out of my skin, took a deep breath, grabbed a notepad, and answered it, trying to sound as cool and collected as possible. Agh – false alarm! It was my darn eye doctor, scheduling me for my annual appointment! It turned out to be my only call that day. The response to my cautiously inquisitive e-mail read, “Sorry, please give us until Monday.” Okay. As if I had a choice.

I didn’t stew too much over the weekend, but I slept terribly on Sunday, my mind gears turning all night long. I wasn’t nervous as much as anticipatory, and I’m not sure which is worse. The next day, I watched my cell phone as if it were about to escape and compulsively checked for voicemail when I got up to grab something off the printer. My day was hellish enough to make me yearn for a phone call and a job offer, so when I received neither, I was nothing but nerves, and frayed ones at that.

I sent yet another e-mail when I finally got home, skipping the previous polite niceties, and received a response this morning: “This is not typical for us, and I completely understand your need for an answer. With decision makers out of town, we will not be able to get back to you until later next week.”

Ugh. I hate waiting. If the water in this pot doesn’t boil, I will be really sad.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

RA Was Here

I took it upon myself to reorganize the supply closet at work because things had gotten out of hand. I might have simply lost patience in the alley of chaos, but you can read it however you like. Not only were the actual supplies in disarray, but the lack of floor space due to random junk resulted in an uncomfortably cramped situation for any more than one person. Upon closer examination, I realized that in addition to strewn-about office supplies, the closet was storing oddities like broken computer elements, forsaken messenger bags, and wall paint that hadn’t been used in three years. What the heck? Who just threw this stuff in here? It didn’t make any sense.

In a short time, I collected no less than 7 leather computer bags from random companies that had sent us free stuff, and it was clear that no one in the office was using them. I piled them up on a table with the witty couplet, “If you don’t take ’em, RA will donate ’em!” I recycled or shredded outdated supplies and marketing materials and cleared the floor space of should-have-been-trash items like a completely used Post-it easel pad. Why on earth did someone not throw it out?

The closet only had a metal-wire shelving unit, which worked fine for things like folders and envelopes; however, things like pens just slipped through the spaces, which resulted in the most-needed supplies being scattered around the closet. And so, I ordered a remedy from our supplier about which I was unnaturally giddy: stackable storage containers! Plus, an excuse to use the communal label-maker! (I bet JG is glad we don’t have one at home, because I would label everything in sight.) I spent a happy hour to sorting out, containing, and gleefully labeling away.

I readily admit that my love for the label-maker is a bit extreme, but I assure you that this overhaul was needed! In addition to my discovery of a bounty of bags (anyone in need of one?), I also uncovered a surplus of almost useless supplies that we will never need to reorder. Keep in mind that there are only nine people in my office, and five of them only come in once a week…

  • 24 bottles of Wite-Out
  • 60 old-school, wooden pencils
  • 600 push pins
  • 9 100-count boxes of paper clips
  • 6 5,000-count boxes of staples (that’s 30,000 staples, people)

The result of my labor is a slimmed-down, functional, walk-around-able supply closet, and when someone exclaims, “What happened to this closet?” I’m proud to shout, “I happened!”

Saturday, October 21, 2006

'Tis the Season

We’re knee-deep in it now, so I can finally say it without being smacked upside the head with annoying Indian summer: I love fall. This love was originally fueled by the death of my seasonal allergies and the beginning of school – oh, the joy of brand new school supplies! – but these days, I like to think that my affections have developed some maturity.

Fall is the time of year to wear corduroy and wool without feeling oddly overlayered, and I can bust out my favorite red, fuzzy scarf, after its patient hibernation in the coat closet. The commute that I breezed through only a week ago has become an ever-changing display of leaf fireworks, much to my distracted dismay. Around these parts, leaves fall down as soon as they change color, and I just can’t take it in fast enough. The best sight of all is seeing the leaves all burnished and coppery from the setting sun; I take mental pictures with my eye because I know I can’t photograph it well enough. I’ll start to bring soup for lunch and JG and I will plan to carve pumpkins and toast seeds. Soon, we’ll start stocking up candy for the local superheroes and princesses, and my schemes for fun Halloween costumes can finally take shape, haha! On the weirder side, I observe that the neighboring front yards are cropping up with oversized outdoor decorations that the inventor of the snow globe surely did not intend.

When I came home from work yesterday, I was bouncing around to the tune of “fall is so great”, and I persuaded to JG to take a stroll around the block with me so that I could snap photos of our neighborhood. I think I missed all of this last year because we were in the tumult of moving, but I am going to make a point of savoring it this year. I took my pictures while JG and I caught up on our Fridays, and it was great to be outdoors in the late afternoon. The air had that perfect chill that makes your ears turn pink around the edges, which made returning to our cozy house all the sweeter.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Soapbox E-mail

The following is an e-mail I sent out to the Today show this morning in response to a series focusing on the college application process for three high school seniors. At last, a real-world application of my high falutin' classes on rhetoric.


To Whom It May Concern:

I've just seen the introduction to Today’s series on the college application process, and I agree that this process is very important and can be very stressful. However, as a recent college grad, I believe that there is too much emphasis right now on getting into college and not as much interest in the process of finding a job and a place to live after graduation. This second process has higher stakes and a much lower success rate, and so many students have a vague view of it.

As a high-achieving senior in high school, I was taught that once I was accepted into college, the world would be my oyster. All I had to do was get into The Right School and that was it. When I graduated from college, I had a strong degree under my belt and two internships with contacts who could give glowing references, and I was prepared to have a smooth transition into the so-called real world.

I was a fairly naive job-seeker, but I quickly came to find that I was at the mercy of hiring managers. My lack of real experience was the greatest strike against me, despite my internships. I was very diligent in tracking my resume progress, following up after the requisite ten days, and I know that out of 40 resumes submitted within a period of ten weeks, I received all of two interviews. Ultimately, I found a decent job with great benefits by the time I needed to pay my rent, but it was hardly the smooth transition I had envisioned. Although I had a marketable degree, I wasn't special - I was one of many, many college graduates vying for a fixed number of positions. I worked very hard to avoid having to move back home, and I was fortunate to find a position. I doubt that the students the show is profiling aspire to live in their parents' houses for the first year or two out of school, but that is an increasingly popular trend.

I found the process of applying to college much easier and user-friendly than that of finding a job. For me, the college application process was friendly and welcoming; they made me feel as though they wanted me to come join them at their school. Assuming I was accepted to the school, I was in a position of power, and I was able to weigh pros and cons for my future. In the job application process, however, no one other than me was invested in whether I received a job. Hiring managers looked for excuses to eliminate, whereas admissions officers looked for a wide pool of applicants. These days, each resume receives about ten seconds of face time, which is a stark contrast to the hours admissions officers spend to determine the incoming freshman class.

My intent is not to downplay the college application process but to emphasize the lack of education available for the job search. The assumption that a college education is a free pass to a well-paying, prestigious job and the opportunity for select housing is completely unfounded. While the college application process is certainly a turning point in students' lives, the job search dictates where that person will live and what standard of living is affordable; it is the potential launching pad for the future of the person's career. College only lasts for four years, but the job search can affect one's entire working life, which might last for more than forty years.

I think a series on the job search for graduating seniors in college would be a reasonable follow-up to this current series. I would recommend, however, not focusing on only high-achieving students in highly attractive courses of study; rather, a cross-sample of students of all courses of study would be more accurate. After all, I believe the most popular majors are psychology and communications, not engineering and business.

I'm sure that this e-mail address receives a lot of mail everyday, and I hope that my e-mail does not get lost in the shuffle. After living through this process, which was by far the most discouraging and desperate experience I’ve had, I feel very strongly that college students need much more education and perspective on what is waiting for them. To focus major news stories solely on the college search helps to perpetuate this myth that a college degree entitles that graduate to a well-paying, exciting career and comfortable living. I believe that is a disservice to a growing population of Americans.

Thanks for your time,


Monday, October 16, 2006

Double Feature

I can’t remember the last time I was so tired after a weekend. It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but, oh, the tiredness. Saturday was a double whammy of college football consisting of UD’s homecoming game against Hofstra and then driving up to a friend’s house for the much-anticipated Penn State game versus Michigan. UD and Penn State hadn’t won games in the same weekend, so this was the weekend to break the trend. In SportsCenter style, here are the highlights:

  • I was surprisingly peppy in the morning, as evidenced by my running up the stairs from our bedroom, punching the air (Rocky-style), and yelling, “IT’S GAME DAY!” at the top of my lungs. JG stared at me blankly, then asked who I was, because his wife sure didn’t run in the mornings, much less glory over game day.
  • We had a perfect fall day with a supersaturated blue sky for our tailgate, and I must say that eating bratwurst is nicely complemented by seeing multiple generations of Blue Hens converge upon a practice field for the sake of outdoor grilling, throwing foam footballs, and wearing blue and gold.
  • As we were packing up our meal, my phone vibrated unexpectedly in my jeans, and surprise! It was my freshman-year roommate and our whole band of friends from our hall! We headed over to their tailgate, where numerous cases of beer had already met their demise; it was a lot of "HEY, how are you?!" and "I can't believe you remember that!" I hadn’t seen these guys in about a year, and they're all moving and getting fabulous jobs and going to grad school – what the heck?
  • After at least a half hour of yelling at/catching up with my friends over the sound of someone’s thumping bass system and someone else’s car alarm, I was good and hoarse, which was convenient for the yelling I was about to do during the football game, since our boys can’t seem to tackle anyone. We won in sloppy fashion, but I’ll take it.
  • The Penn State game was more of a knitfest for me than anything due to certain promises made, but I do remember two Penn State quarterbacks getting concussions, which left the third-string guy having to try and win the whole thing. I also recall yelling at two football players to stop fighting as if I were someone’s mom – “Hey, you two! Stop that right now!” – when they were actually blocking, or something.
  • I committed what I'm sure is Penn State blasphemy when, in response to the claim that it would be poetic for Joe Paterno to die on the football field, I retorted, “How does that poem go? There once was a man named Joe…” Thankfully, one of the other girls chimed in with, “…and it was his time to go…” We were just kidding, and I know it’s morose to limerick-ize someone’s death, but seriously, how is that poetic? I think it would be traumatic. It would have to be after a come-from-behind win over Notre Dame at Beaver Stadium or something. I’m sad to report that Penn State couldn’t pull it out against Michigan, and there was no joy in Mudville.
  • I knitted my way through the football game and through the ultimate Frisbee game the next day. (I don’t do Frisbee; it was better for me to sit in a sleeping bag, looking like an amputee from war, than to run around and pretend like I could actually catch something and be useful.) And yes, I did it! I managed to finish all three scarves for JG’s volleyball seniors, even with knotting fringe at the ends and making them presentable with twirly ribbon. I stayed up until 1am, and that’s an hour I haven’t seen in quite a while. Mondays are hard enough, but sleep-deprived Mondays are just wrong.

Needless to say, I am bushed from all of that, but I guess that’s the high price of a really fun weekend. Maybe that’s why those party-hopping celebrities go into the hospital for exhaustion all of the time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mail Order Thrill

It’s here! My new John Mayer CD came in the mail today! JG carries it up from the mailbox and I grab the scissors en route to opening my (not so) long-awaited package from my buddies over at Amazon. Heartbeat quickening, I break through the box and that weird cellophane stuff that always reminds me of Parafilm from my chemistry days of old. Then I have it in my hands, with just a thin layer of shrinkwrap between me and Happy New Music Land! I tear through it on my way to the CD player and pop the disc in.

I press Play, and oh! The strains of that popular radio single in my very own living room! I can play it anytime I want now! But enough gloating, there are liner notes to explore. Ooh, big fat ones, this time. I feel the anticipation of learning a whole album’s worth of new songs with the cheat sheet right in my hands, with the plus side of black and white photography. But that’s just like my John. So down to earth. I flip back to read the thank you section and what’s this? A line for me? “My Fans keep me honest.” Swoon! Okay, fine, it’s not just for me, but whatever, I am totally included in the act of keeping John Mayer honest. It’s there, in print! If anyone needs me, I’ll be hanging out with John. How can you not love a guy who put the periodic table on his first full-length album? Sigh.

I’m not normally a blithering idiot, but I buy music so rarely that a new album is a little personal holiday. I don’t have an mp3 player, and while I appreciate the flexibility and customization afforded by having playlists and things, I love albums. I love the cover, the liner notes, the order of the songs. I love imagining John Mayer in a studio, thinking about how he’s going to craft not only the songs, but the album as a whole. I love thinking about the songs that didn’t make the cut, and what is it about the ones that did? Were they extra special? Were they that much more honest? To me, the whole mp3 thing takes away that magic because I can’t imagine that artists intend to write singles outside of the context of an entire album. I don’t want a piece, I want the whole pie.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Best of Intentions

I am really good at making personal goals, if I do say so myself, and not just for the New Year. On a fairly regular basis, I mentally mash together a ball of things I’d like to start or stop, and it just rolls around my head until the superfluous ones fall off and I’m left with the things that are pretty necessary to life (go for oil changes regularly) and/or just plain common sense (get the heck out of bed when the alarm goes off). You’ll notice that I didn’t say that I am good at reaching personal goals, so I get very excited when I manage to accomplish something in which I am not naturally skilled.

The items that have repeatedly fallen off the ball o’ goals are many and varied. I’m on my third time trying to learn how to play the guitar. I’ve never really stopped biting my fingernails. My mail-filing system has broken down to a pile of envelopes with a mishmash of post-its sticking out to remind me of something. My exercise routine hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like it to be, thanks to a few hellish weeks at work, but hey – there’s no time to re-start like the present. And by “the present”, of course, I mean “tomorrow”, because my current attempt at a regimen doesn’t include weekends.

There is one goal that I am bound and determined to get out of the way, and I am dedicating today and the rest of this week to that end. I am going to knit scarves for the seniors on the girls’ volleyball team that JG is coaching at the high school where he teaches. I made this claim before the team was determined, without knowing how many seniors there would be or even how long the season would last. Well. There are three seniors, Senior Night is a week from tomorrow, and I have all of 1.1 scarves completed. This is not good.

The plan for today is to hunker down on the couch and knit for the rest of the night. Oh, I’ll take a break to make dinner and eat, but while JG watches his normal Sunday TV lineup, the twitching, clicking bump next to him will be me, knitting. Any time this week that I would normally spend reading or browsing up ways to spend my online gift cards will, instead, be spent in the sweatshop of my own making, driven by the intent to start a tradition and attain the level of supercool coach’s wife. Even if my intentions aren’t entirely pure, at least they’ll be fulfilled.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Cheese with My Whine, Please

This week has been a jumble of overlong workdays, mornings that came too early, and an enduring, mysterious dry skin condition that leaves me sadly unkissable, unless I’m in the mood for some burning pain. Oh, sign me up.

When I attain this rare state that consists of edgy, hurting, and stressed, the smallest things set me off. It’s raining today…That stupid song keeps playing during my commute… They change the time of one of my favorite shows! ARGH! The nerve!

And then, I got an email that just added another one to the list.

At my company, when there’s a new hire, the hiring manager sends out an email that introduces the person and some basic stats, like start date, education, and hobbies. We also get an email address so that we can send early greetings and that person sees people’s names before the first day. I try to send a welcome email more often than not because I loved getting them when I was first hired. So I write a quick email to the new girl about who I am and what I do, and I can’t wait to meet her, and so on and so forth, and I sign my name how I like to be addressed.

That last part is the key.

I firmly believe that when you receive an email, you should address your response in the way that the person signed it. For example, I wouldn’t normally spell Tracy as Traycee, but whoever I’m emailing obviously does, so I should respect that. Even if it induces some eye-rolling on my part.

Well. The new hire wrote me back, and if my name was Traycee, she spelled it Tracy. ARGH.

It’s not like my name is some fake-o way of spelling things, but I am particular about it. I think it shows attention to detail and, again, respect, to pay attention to how your recipient wants to be addressed. I suspect that this obsession stems from my name being misspelled, wrongly capitalized, and incorrectly spaced for my entire life. Not that I have any baggage. Or whatever.

I know it's a stupid thing.

My lips still hurt.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Spirit and Soreness

This weekend, JG and I attended the UD football game against New Hampshire, the #1-ranked Division 1-AA team in the country. He grilled burgers for dinner while I sat in the back of the Subaru. We had great football weather – snappy breezes and some low clouds – and it was exciting to be at the stadium for a night game. We even busted out our blue-and-gold, tacky-but-spirited scarves for the evening.

New Hampshire won with a score of 52-49, which is much closer than we expected it to be, but our defense could have been so much cleaner. I think it’s safe to say that I have never screamed as much as I did at the game. In my four layers of UD clothing, I hopped all over as we scored 7 touchdowns (!) and messed up 2 blitzes. I was that tiny, high-pitched girl who knows more about football than you’d give her credit for, especially when I hollered bloody murder about those flubbed sacks that went on to become touchdowns. For the love…!

I’m paying for my enthusiasm today; my throat is not happy with me. Even with the soothing/burning sensation of hot chocolate on the way home, tea on Sunday, and a conscious effort not to talk too much, my voice is two octaves lower than it should be. My reward for my team spirit was a sore and scratchy throat, accompanied by sneezing and coughing. Ugh. I don't care, Saturday's volume was worth today's discomfort! After all, the team needed me!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Flipping the Calendar

The first of the month has always been special to me because JG and I started dating on a first of the month. Every time I flip over the calendar page, I shout out how many months it has been, like last month's exclamation of, “Happy 47 Months!” You see, four years ago, we started dating on the first of October.

We were sophomores in college at the time. During the previous summer, we worked at a camp together as lifeguards and program facilitators, and even though we had become best friends during the school year before, that summer drew us closer together than ever. I think that there’s a certain bond that exists between people who have scrubbed canoes together that doesn’t come out of normal dating. We spent a month just being friends at school, getting reacquainted with our other way of life; JG would ride his bike to my dorm and shout up to my window, and we’d go to brunch together on weekends. One night, in my room, JG whispered to me, “I can’t ask you to marry me now, but do you think you would be my girlfriend in the meantime?” And I was a big fan of that.

At first, I was pretty averse to the “girlfriend” term. It seemed so temporary, so fleeting, when I felt that what we had was solid and real. We didn’t hold hands as we walked around campus because I thought it somehow flaunted our together-ness. I was having a hard time getting used to being part of a package deal, but JG was patient with me. Eventually, I got over both of these hang-ups and I was happy to hold JG’s hand as I introduced myself as his girlfriend. What a thrill!

So here we are at 48 months, after getting engaged by month 23 and married by month 33. We used to give each other cards or a small token each time the 1st came around, but nowadays, it’s more often an early-morning greeting in bed or an email at work to brighten up the daily grind. The real gift is that we get to be with each other everyday, and I’m so glad for the reminder when each new month comes around.