in my Father's house...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

theologians throughout history have expounded on this. but today's post is NOT a study of my Father's house, but a story of what i have experienced in this house.

this past weekend, husband and i hopped on our not-so-private jet for a long weekend visit in arkansas. (for the readers out there who don't know me so well, i am a bi-coastal elitist, who rarely makes an appearance in the "fly-over" states). yes, i said arkansas. the very arkansas whose whole foods store can fit in my 1BR condo in arlington.

i felt odd telling my co-workers that i was going away for the long weekend to arkansas. "what's in arkansas?" exactly, what is in arkansas????!!!???  believe me when i say, i feel you. but it's not what is in arkansas that draws us there. it is who.

you see, in my Father's house, david and i have been loved beyond measure, not only by the Lord Himself, but by fellow believers - believers, for whom dubbing them "close friends" would almost be insulting. because these people, who are so different from me, are family.

david and i don't have any family nearby, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. no blood relations. no moms, no dads, no brothers, and no sisters. in the absence of this kind of family, the boswells and the paynes became our family. they opened their homes to us, opened their hearts, their fridges, their laundry machines, and their spirits. and to be truthful, it is the very last thing - this divine part of them, that makes our kind of family connection deeper than any other kind of familial relationship.

it's rare to find one person to whom you can share your greatest fears and your greatest hopes. it's rare to find anyone to whom you can fully let your guard down and be your truly insane, twisted, selfish, tired, annoyed, grumpy, vulnerable self and still be loved in spite of it all. you're lucky if you find one person who can be this to you. our Father has given us this blessing in spades...

...until a year ago when the boswells and paynes abandoned us and moved away. it was heartbreaking, like a dagger ripping through the heart when these people first told us they were moving, then another dagger when they actually moved. so this weekend, the carlsons and the paynes met up at the boswells and it was a sweet family reunion. it felt just like how going home should feel. but then monday rolled around and we had to say our goodbyes. AGAIN. apparently we are gluttons for punishment. when the hubby and i finally landed in dc last night, we kind of just looked at each other and said, "i'm sad".

so in my Father's house, i have family. and though these family members have moved away, there is opportunity for new family additions. because in my Father's house, there is never a shortage. and that is my experience. 

confucius say wha??

Thursday, May 24, 2012

husband and i have been talking, for some time now, about "settling down", going back and forth between buying a house or staying put in our 1 BR condo starter home. momma chiang, first introduced here, has been an active participant in these discussions. i can't and won't go into the details of how this all came about mainly because it's only 9:40 a.m. and i'm pretty sure it's still frowned upon to consume alcohol at this time of day. and i honestly can't talk about it without some liquid courage/ frazzled nerves soother.

last night momma chiang called at 8:12 pm to discuss a house we had recently checked out. i don't want to bore you with the details so i'll just give you the highlights. around minute 42 of our phone call momma chiang asked, "what does the property look like?" no, not the house, the actual land. she said, "I need to know what the land looks like. Is it wide in the front and tapers into a more narrow back, like a reverse triangle? or is it narrow in the front and then widens as you go back?" for all you realtors out there, have you ever gotten such a question? momma offered an explanation. and here, i am going to try my best to give you a word-for-word replay. "you want to know why i ask? i'll tell you. because in chinese culture, and this is true 100% of the time, if you have a wide front yard and then a narrow back yard, that means you can't manage money and all the money you have coming in, there's no depth, so you can't hold on to it. you'll always be poor. but if you have a narrower front yard and a wider back property that means you can amass your wealth." so now i've finally cracked the code on the cause of all our financial woes. it can all be traced back to the fact that we just don't have a wide enough back yard. if only we had lived in a place that had a narrow front yard and a wide back yard, david and i could have avoided all our law school and credit card debt. NOW she tells us. clearly she has been holding out on us, never before telling us of this undeniable truth. did i mention that my mother has a masters in engineering? yes folks, she is intellectually brilliant, so you can see how the logic she just presented was flawless. when it comes down to it, can you even argue with such impenetrable logic [read INSANITY]??

during the course of the conversation, whenever we tried to bring up the fact that we cannot/do not want to be encumbered with a sizable mortgage, momma chiang responded with: "david, gracie, you have to do the math and tighten your belly. you don't have to starve yourselves, but you must tighten your belly." it's things like this that make me smile. it reminds me of the days when momma would take big brother and i sneaker shopping - back in the day when we insisted on reeboks, and she kindly suggested la gear, you know, the french sneakers, not the california ones. =) these are the wonderful joys of growing up in a not entirely english speaking household.

the last golden nugget of our phone call  came after the hubs suggested looking for a cheaper house farther out from the district (my soul life died a little after he uttered those words). my mom quickly said that of course that was an option, but then started listing research and statistics about how long commutes are bad for your health. here's the kicker, again, i'm making an effort to give you a word-for-word replay, "david, i'm ok with this as long as it is a good school district. but long commutes to work are bad for your health. so you have to consider, if gracie is the one who will be carrying a baby during pregnancy, it may be hard for her to have a long commute." can someone explain to me an alternate scenario? ladies and gentlemen, my mother, the (mad) scientist.

i'd like to conclude by saying: asian parents, when they are not being crazy (it's rare, but it happens), can be pretty awesome. they view it as their duty to help their children - even their fully able, productive adult children. (of course in asian culture, i'm not entirely sure you're allowed to have or acknowledge children who aren't successful and productive). so truth be told, the hubs and i are really grateful for momma's offer. she's crazy, but she's a keeper.

yes i can!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

today was one of those days. where i straddled (barely) on the tight rope between the land of ok and the land of not ok. like a masterful artist, i walked that rope like a pro, deathly afraid that my will - my concentration - would falter for one millisecond and i would teeter off that rope and tumble into the abyss of not ok.

the good thing is that the day is almost over. unfortunately it's not ending quite as i had hoped. husband was supposed to come home on time, and we were going to walk to get some ice cream. but he's stuck at work and now, here i am, on the verge of teetering again.

it's looking like tomorrow may start something like this, "oh Lord. another day? can we have a serious discussion about this week's mega millions numbers?" hey you gotta be in it to win it.

but there's always the hope that it may begin like this:

until then, despite an ice cream-less night, there's always remains the comfort of my bed. excuse me while i burrow myself underneath my covers and shut the world out and hope for a more ok tomorrow.

please. don't go. we'll do ANYTHING.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

we have a confession. we're having an affair - a glorious, wild, all consuming love affair. it's the kind of love that's more like a drug addiction. strong enough to bring us to our knees and borrow from britney spears - "Baby hit me one more time." we are irrevocably in love with... THE WEEKEND.

each friday, we wake with anticipation of our lover's arrival. it's so full of hope and promise. when lover arrives, we are driven to do crazy things, like brave traffic on the 66 to venture out to the boonies, a.k.a.  chantilly. we hop in the car to baltimore and drive with the windows down and the ac on. OOOOOOH LA LA LA. i even ate a cheesy goopy casserole for lover.

now, sadly as sunday evening winds down to a close, the carlson house has become the house of blues. for no matter how much we plea, nothing we say or do can make our lover stay, not even for an hour longer.  our lover is abandoning us, leaving in its wake the horrible stench of an approaching monday.

all we can say is goodbye lover. see you next friday.

i promised a special friend i'd keep the post short on words, and heavy on pictures. this one's for you andy. this picture is truly worth a thousand words.

the white rabbit

Friday, May 18, 2012

I've noticed something. I'm late.  I'm late .  For a very important date.  No time to say "Hello, Goodbye". I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. NO. I. AM. NOT. THAT. KIND. OF. LATE. I'm T.V.-"late." And I have only one person to thank for this epiphany. The ever-lovely Schmes, otherwise known as Leslie, beautiful mother, former college roommate, and still beloved cold hard truth teller friend of mine.

isn't she gorgeous?

About two months ago, I got this random Schmes text: "Gracie. Have you been watching Downton Abbey? Because I found your British Twin. You are Mary Crawley!!" In case you haven't noticed, I'm asian american - jet black hair, squinty eyes, and cursed with conjunctive torso longitis*. How can she and I be twins? Does she look like me? Do i look like her? hey, that would't be such a bad thing.


Perhaps Schmes meant in character? So I did a little research and this is what I found out about Lady Mary Crawley: "She is feisty and is quite shallow and mean at times, but she cares greatly for her family and friends; even their servants. Mary is used to getting all the attention, especially from men as her parents are trying to marry her off." OH. Yeah. There it is. I see the twin similarity now.

But alas, I digress. Back to my entertainment-lateness. This is a trend Schmes has brought to light. Each year, with a few exceptions, I stand my rebel ground and refuse to join entertainment bandwagons. Only to be utterly disgraced a year or years later. Shall I parade some of my most valiant efforts for you all?

harry potter. book 2. i was a freshman in college when i caught wind of the great HP. seriously? this is a children's book. it cannot be that great. i go to cal don't you know. this is the place where great philosophers are produced. pass me the proust (nose in air). since i seem to be living proof of adages, let me throw this one in: pride goes before the
 (only it was so much of a steeper fall) summer after my freshman year, i was bored out of my mind at home and picked up big brother's copy of HP 2: chamber of secrets. I'm no longer ashamed to admit this, I could not put it down. in fact, i went out and bought book 1 so i could catch up, even though the first fifty pages of book 2 sums up book 1. The only thing that allows me to still hold my head high is that i can say, i never waited in line for the midnight release of the next HP book.

then there was LOST. I am not into sci-fi. So when LOST was all the rage during its first season, when the internet was ablaze with theories, i refused. refused to start the show. At the end of the second season, husband's old roommate (a.k.a. the son we never wanted) convinced us to watch just the pilot episode, since he had the first season dvd. i'm not going to lie. we pulled an all nighter, missed church the next morning, cause we watched straight on through (i think, on the upside, this says something about my commitment). and by the end of it, we were humming that creepy credits song. don't pretend. you all know what i'm talking about and i know it's playing through your head now.

a year before i got married, i was sitting on the stoop of a friend as we watched her then 1 year old son play with his dad. she whispered to me, "grace, i'm so tired. i stayed up late last night reading the twilight series on my computer." i looked at her in horror and unconcealed judgment. i think i may have said something like this, "wow, glo, it's about vampires. VAMPIRES. teenage vampires right?? i think i've lost a little respect for you." fast forward to three months ago, when out of boredom i picked up the first book in the series and could not put it down. (i'd again like to highlight my commitment) i finished the series in four days. vampires, love, teenagers? yes please. i'll take two. what can i say? TEAM EDWARD =D

and now there is downton abbey. i guess the question is no longer to downton abbey or not to downton abby, but when to hop on the downton abbey bandwagon?

*conjunctive torso longitis: extremely long torso paired with short stubby legs.

the apple and the tree

Thursday, May 17, 2012

As you all know, this past weekend was Mother’s Day. I’ll take the recent holiday weekend as an opportunity to introduce you to the one and only, Momma Chiang. She is THE ORIGINAL Tiger Mom – move over Amy Chua because you ain’t got nothin’ on this tough lady. She is strong. Steely even. And, she is crazy. Not your run of the mill crazy. It’s the undiagnosable kind of crazy. The kind of crazy that makes your friends think your mom is adorable, only you know better. And you’re afraid. VERY afraid, because it’s the kind of crazy for which medication does not exist.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my mom. But we definitely have that somtimes tense mother-daughter relationship. Can’t live with her. Can’t live without her. And thanks to Husband, I have been led to understand the source of this tension. It’s because I am CRAZY too. There it is. In black and white for all to read. Yes. The old adage that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is sadly true.

This past holiday weekend…as my mom was, I’m sure, rewriting the draft of her annual Mother’s Day phone call speech to inform us  (read: guilt us) of how we have forgotten about her, my brother and I prepared to surprise visit her. So Husband and I boarded a plane and John boarded a train and we met in Albany. SURPRISE MOM! Well if ever there was a more understated state of surprise, I have not seen it. It’s almost like she knew we were coming, except she didn’t because when I walked up to the door, she thought I was the UPS delivery lady. What does that say about my body build and my outfit???

Let me tell you what I learned about my mom. As my mom has gotten older, I’ve become a little more worried that she would one day wire money to some representative from the Bank of Nigeria. Well I could not have been more wrong. Turns out I have a something else entirely to worry about. As we were waiting for our lunch to be brought to our table, my mother proudly announced to us that she applied for an American Express card, in my name, so that she could get 10,000 Delta miles in furtherance of her China trip this coming November. Better yet, she gets these miles after she spends $500.00 on the card – in my name. There's a word for this kind of behavior. It's called identity theft. Who knew that my mother would be the criminal and I would be the prey?

Identity theft aside, it was a great Mother’s Day weekend. We went to Saratoga where we filled up on sun, gelato, hat shopping, whiffle ball, and antiquing.  Oh and some fresh air - some really fresh pure air.


I’ll end today’s post with Saturday evening’s festivities. My brother and I were anticipating a night of watching the Caps-Rangers do-or-die Game 7 when my mother informed us that she cancelled her subscription to cable months ago. What do you mean you cancelled cable!?! Since Husband and I have settled into the DC region, I have all but abandoned my New York teams (the Knicks being the exception, thank you Jeremy Lin). So how were my brother and I going to play out our sibling rivalry via the Caps and Rangers without cable? We all piled into the car and drove down the main strip in my mom’s town searching for a sports bar. Sadly, there were none to be found until we drove by Hooters. Faced with very little options, we decided to go in and watch the game. My mother’s response: “Hooters? Oh, they have chocolate.” Yes mother, that is indeed what they are famous for. What can you say to the woman who thinks the two “O O” inFile:Hooters Logo.svg are supposed to be eyeballs, except, I <3 her.

And even though the Rangers won, I got this on you big bro - enjoying that pure oxygen. 

so happy together...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And they lived happily ever after...

Three years ago, Husband and I stood before God and man to proclaim our love and commitment to one another. It's been a fast three years and a slow three years, full of joy, love, and dare I say it - lots of anger.   When we first were about to embark on a married life, that life of togetherness held so much promise of enduring happiness, romance, and love. We both believed that once we crossed that threshold of single to married, we would only live a life of loving each other more. What we have realized since getting married is that, yes we love each other more, more deeply than we could have imagined, but we also love our own selves more than we thought. What marriage has taught us is that where we each thought we loved the other more, the hard truth of the matter is that we each loved our own self more. That's why marriage is so hard and so rewarding. We have to work at letting our selfishness go, our sense of victimhood, our sense of being right; when we do, marriage is great - the sweetest. And when we don't - well, it's not so great, and yes husband and I happen to be masters at the latter, and only beginning to learn the former. Even though I am not always so good about expressing it, there's no one I'd rather have by my side,  fighting for me, and yes, even when he is fighting against me. I love him so. Happy Anniversary Hubby! High five for not killing each other...yet!