To everyone else, it's Valentine's Day. I'd like to wish a happy fourth birthday to my natural hair. It was a bold choice against conventional beauty (and wisdom) to chop all my hair off back in 2010, but I've never regretted it. My wild, unruly hair is a daily reminder to embrace myself just as I am.
You can see the evolution of this hair madness in this post. Enjoy your love day.
We've been eating healthier at the start of the year. Resisting refined sugar, fatty meats, etc. While I miss my gummi bears, it feels good to be back in the kitchen with lots of natural ingredients. Grad school means stress and pressure, which equal frequent trips to the Cookout drive-through . With the semester barely begun, I'm enjoying the extra time to cook a meal that will not subtract months from my life.
What's even more fun is getting reacquainted with so many nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables that I used to love. Maybe, I'm getting old, but I forgot out good a prune can taste.
Mostly, I've renewed a kindred fellowship with avocados. Oh, how I love my little green friend. For me, I don't need cheese when I can have avocado slices. When a co-worker taught me how simple guacamole is to make, I was sold.
I remember the first time I made my husband homemade guacamole. I mashed, I chopped, I mixed, I stirred. I was proud. He took four bites and said he wasn't feeling well. Then later he said he didn't care for it. My feelings as a girlfriend weren't hurt. I was more upset that he did not love the vegetable that I held so dear. It was like we were living different lives. Despite this, I married him anyway. I figure, more guac for me.
Avocados are apparently also quite healthy. Good for your blood sugar levels and blood pressure. I know they boost your HDL, aka your good cholesterol. They're an essential part of your anti-inflammatory diet. All kinds of stuff.
So, cheers to our health. Until I can get my hands on some gummi bears, avocados will do just fine.
I mean, it was bad when I was planning my wedding. Now that we are thinking about kids, I pin everything that has to do with pregnancy, babies, conception, and trying to conceive. I even have pins for their imaginary outfits and the imaginary pictures we will take together.
And the information! If you don't know much about fertility like I didn't, there's information. There's information about information. My naturally curious self is like a kid in a candy store. I can't stop!
I think I should, though.
The nice thing about being in your 30s is that you can have great self-awareness. I know me. I'm like an old movie I've seen everyday for 36 years. I know exactly how this ends. My one-track mind suddenly can't get enough about a topic. I research until I'm doing loops around the Internet. Then, it slowly becomes all I think about until I develop a burdensome desire that reaches this insane level that makes you think:
I've seen me do it before. Let's not. Not this time. There's got to be a better way.
At the beginning of the year, we decide what we'd like to see happen and set aside time to pray very specifically. In the baby arena, I ask for one thing this year, "easy, natural conception." Because I know. I know I'll look at fertility by age and start to freak out that my prime years are behind me. I know, if it is a matter of charting, I will OCD my calendar into the ground so that every second of my cycle and all the symptoms therein are documented. I can take my basal temperature every day, get weird about my diet, attack my husband during ovulation time then spend the afterglow upside down (thank you, yoga). This is true to form of my selectively Type A personality. The weird woman inside my head that wants the baby is like a cheerleader yelling, "Be aggressive! B-E aggressive!"
But I don't want to do that -- any of that. Call me crazy, but I want to conceive peacefully, naturally, almost quietly.
When I think about wanting children, I see myself in a somewhat familiar place. See, I waited a long time to find the right guy, and I sat in that proverbial waiting room for years in every emotional state available. Bitter, angry, demonstrative, declarative, hopeful, passive, timid, reckless and often quite bored. If I knew then what I know now--that he'd just show up one day when I least expected him without any effort on my part-- I'd give myself the advice that I could never understand until today. I wouldn't say, relax. I'd say, rest. Have a heart at rest. The emotional roller coaster and "25 Ways to Get Married in 2008" are pointless. Just enjoy life now and trust God. Believe!
So, I'm going to stop, breathe, and pray that when the baby dust fall my way, that it finds me with an open hand full of grace, not a clenched fist. I know what want, but luckily I can say with certainty I already have everything I need. Regardless of my circumstances, I will live these days in peace and joy. I think that's what future me would want.
Last summer, I interviewed several women about their vinyl record collections. I'll spare you the scholarly journal research, but needless to say, there are more male vinyl collectors than women to the point where some people see it as being exclusively a guy thing. One theory is that the very nature of collecting is a masculine task akin to hunting. Some see it as a technical hobby and non-relational, which tend to be for dudes. However, some less tangible aspects, such as the sense of nostalgia, are shared by all collectors, regardless of sex.
I have records, because I love music. I have my whole life. I love every form it comes in. I have cassettes, CDs, and MP3s. I'll start to groove in the grocery store if my song comes on. Just feed it to me any way I can get it.
What is uniquely cool about records for me is that it's a chance for me to collect a lot of albums from my early youth, before I had money and could buy music on my own. They still print new records on vinyl. I have John Legend's first record. But that's not my aim. I enjoy a good used store where I can find an old Heart album for $3, because someone didn't know what they had.
So, it's nostalgia, yes, but it's also a chance to exert some independence back into an era when there was none. Now, it's my copy of Madonna's Like a Virgin or Whitney Houston's first album. I get to listen to it whenever I want. It's a good feeling.
By the way, I'm on the hunt for Bangles' Different Light circa 1986. Let me know if you see it.
After eight months of dragging my feet, I finally changed my last name. Well, it's almost changed completely. The folks at the cable company demand I come down to their branch and show proof. But otherwise, at least to all the important United States government agencies, my bank, my school, and Facebook, I'm Jennifer Scott.
I'm interested if anyone else went through the same existential, emotional experience when beginning the process of changing their names? I almost shed a tear at the DMV. The woman, who could not have cared less, just took my forms, stamped them out, took $20 and sent me on my way with monosyllabic exchanges. I was trying to hold it together and not draw attention from the scowling security guard nearby.
But seriously, my name! Jennifer E. Jones. If you google it just like that, a lot of my old writing comes up. A lot of my journalistic career is there. You can see my picture. It's probably a little more public than I'd like it to be, but nevertheless, it's mine.
There's even a song written about my name!
Not to mention the self-righteous, feminist indignation of it all.. I found myself grumbling, "Why do I have to change my name? What doesn't he change his? What's with this bogus, sexist system set up for women to abandon their identity?!"
The obvious question is, "Well, why did you change it?" After all, it's not 1962. A lady can keep her name, especially if you got married later in life as I did. Plus, my husband was fine with my name as it is. He never pressured me either way. One night when I was sitting in a pile of all the name change forms, he kissed me on the forehead and said, "You don't have to do this."
Then, why did I? Here are a few reasons.
1). I'm an introvert who, at times, is prone to self-isolation. However, marriage is a team sport for life. Or rather, as I like to say, we're now a tribe, and tribes have one name. Different positions within the tribe, but, again, everybody has one name. It's for the sake of solidarity.
2). I don't want to figure out what to call my kids. I just don't have time for that. They get the tribe name too.
3). It's not a bad choice. If I met a guy with the last name Nasalbum, then, yeah. I can live with Scott. It's almost as common as meeting a guy with the last name Jones (came dreadfully close in college).
4). It helps with the change. One thing people omit in the midst of wedding bliss is how different your life will be after "I do". You have to learn how to be a husband a wife, how to be lovers, and how to be roommates. I'm not saying it's hard; I'm just saying it's different. It's change.
5)... which closely relates to #4. It helps you let go. With all the change may come a sense of loss. I feel it. I was independent for a long time before my husband came around. I was used to my stuff, my time, my this, my that. Some of those things weren't necessary to bring into marriage. We can't have two homes and two beds. Kind of excessive. Granted, a name is more than a practical thing, but you still don't need an extra one.
So, it's true. I lost a bunch of things when I got married. I lost my apartment, my bed, my last name, my self-imposed right to be moody and unreasonable in the morning. But I gained so much more. I gained the kind of love and companionship that I seriously did not believe existed. I got an extra set of a family. Not to mention the added income. Just a bunch of happy pluses that add up to more than what I had before.
I'm letting it go, all of it. We had a good run. After all, if being Miss Jones was this awesome, can't wait to see what awaits Mrs. Scott.
A woman in our church died yesterday. I worked closely with her to build our children's ministry. She was always helpful, self-less, and only thought of others. I'm not even sure if she'd seen her 40th birthday yet. I don't sob often, and I certainly do not cry when other people are around. But I cried instantly when I heard the news. That loud kind that makes people uncomfortable.
The news hit me like truck. See, I lost one of my uncles earlier this month and another uncle last summer. I know I got married last May, but this year sorta blows. I saw more loss than I'd ever seen before in a 365 consecutive day period. The end of the year usually calls us to reflect, but it's been hard to see the good stuff this time.
This morning I sought solace in meditation. In the quiet, I recalled the story of Lazarus. See, even Jesus grieved when His friend Lazarus died. He shed a tear knowing full and well that He'd raise Lazarus up in a matter of moments. It helps me see that there's no shame in mourning. Even when we get all Christian-y about things, talking about Heaven, joy, and seeing someone again, it's perfectly natural to grieve. Someone was here, and now they're not. More often than not, it feels way too soon. That's worth a cry that bellows up from the inner depths of sorrow.
With all of this, I notice something miraculous at the same time. If you're curious who people really are, watch what they do and say when someone dies. I saw and continue to see such an outpouring of grace and support. Gifts, food, comfort, phone calls, cards just to say they were thinking of the bereaved. When I came back to Virginia after my second uncle's funeral, I was met at my church with hugs before I even walked in the door. People care. They love... big time in a big way. When I collect every kind word, I am overwhelmed at the capacity to which we can care for each other on this earth.
So, in the end, when I really look back on 2013 and see all tears and heavy hearts, I also see love. So much love. Somehow it's all good, and I manage to look ahead with wonder and hopeful curiousity of what the new year has in store.