Wednesday, December 16, 2015

List Therapy

(In no particular order)

Things Students Do That Make Me Crazy
1. Not reach the page minimum
2. Use an excessive header for an assignment (Name, date, class, my name, class time, ID number...)
3. Write papers as if they are sending a long text to a good friend
4. Openly claim they do not keep up with world, national or state events (they should start)
5. Submit assignments in irritating fonts- especially Comic Sans
6.  Email me incessantly
7. Try to turn in work late
8. Ask me questions about things that are on the syllabus
9. Make racist, sexist, ignorant remarks
10. Upload things in a format besides PDF or .doc (despite me telling them repeatedly not to)

Songs Getting Me Through This Deployment
1. You and Me by You + Me
2. Ocean Sized Love by Leigh Nash
3. Photograph by Ed Sheeran
4. The Promise- covered by Brandon Heath
5. Sea of Lovers by Christina Perri
6. You Know Me by Bethel Music
7. I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
8. Do What You Have to Do by Sarah McLachlan
9. Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
10. So Far Away by Carol King

Thing Zack Loves To Get In Care Packages
1. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.
2. Candy
3. ZzzzQuil
4. TidePods
5. Nose Spray
6. Vitamins and EmergenC
7. Notes/Cards
8. Pictures and art projects from Lane
9. Protein bars
10. Hand Sanitizer

Shows I've Binge-Watched In the Past 6 Months
1. Marvel Agents of SHIELD
2. Jessica Jones
3. Vikings
4. Wentworth
5. The 100
6. Bloodline
7. Jane the Virgin
8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
9. Call the Midwife
10. The Honorable Woman

Things I Hate Doing When Zack Is Gone
1. Emptying the dishwasher
2. Decorating for Christmas alone
3. Steam Mopping
4. Dog poop duty
5. Sleeping Alone
6. Eating every meal alone
7. Watching TV alone
8. Walking the dogs alone (yay for double leashes though!)
9. Cleaning dog throwup and drool
10. Everything!

Products/Companies I'm Loving Right Now
1. Zulily
2. Emeals
3. New Balance
4. BirchBox
5. Sprouts
6. Comics n Stuff (amazing store at my local mall)
8. Clinique
9. JibJab
10. USPS

Things I Do Instead of Studying
1. Walk the dogs
2. Clean
3. Grade
4. Work out
5. Facebook
6. Play solitare on phone
7. Buzzfeed
8. Laundry
9. Worry about studying
10. Blog

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Two ships passing in the night.

Two ships passing in the night.

That is my husband and I.

We got married when we were 22, which is quite young, but I am quick to explain that I only got married at 22 because of the guy- I didn't want to just be a married person, I didn't want a big party or a pretty dress, I just wanted Zack. Now that we have been married for almost six years, I realized that we've always had at least one of three things happening at any given time: a) We were preparing for a deployment b) we were apart because either I was in another state or country for a long period or he was or c) Zack was injured and/or recovering from an intense surgery. This year, we counted down to a deployment that ended up being cancelled, then very quickly after that dealt with Zack's broken jaw, then I went away, then had about two months together getting ready for Zack to leave (during which he worked long hours almost to the last minute).

In my loneliest moments, I think about why people get married, or at least why Zack and I got married. For me, I have always loved Zack so much that I wanted to live a life where I could be in the same place as him as much as possible. Keeping in mind that we were in a long-distance relationship from the age of 18 until actually three months after we got married and he returned from recruiter's school, being in the same place was always a gift. For me and Zack, being in the same place as each other is always the best thing, so you can imagine the difficulty of not being together.

Zack loves his job. He doesn't love having to be away for long periods of time but he does enjoy his work and feels like his career right now is what is best for our family. I love what I do. I may grumble about being a graduate student but I love the countless opportunities I have to learn and experience new things even though it means time away from my husband and the rest of my family. Do I wish Zack could go with me? Absolutely. Would I follow Zack anywhere he was sent if it was possible? Of course.

This summer I was talking to someone I had just met and they seemed genuinely surprised that any couple would choose to be in a marriage where one or the other was gone so much. How do you communicate? How do you handle it? Even pretty personal questions (How can you abstain that long? Do you think one of you will not be able to take it and cheat? The answers to those being: none of your business and NO.)

But I'll let you in on a secret. This stuff is hard. I miss Zack. I could list about a thousand things I miss about him- but I won't, luckily for you.

Someday, there won't be a series of countdowns, whether counting down to one of us coming home or one of us leaving. We'll be able to make plans and know we will most likely be in the same place to carry those plans out. Even things like deciding to have kids- I know its a big decision for a lot of people, but for Zack and I the most we can say is "someday" because that someday will have to include both of us being in the same zip code, ideally.

And it's our fault- I get that. No one forced us to have these careers, but if you've ever done something you've loved you'd understand. When you find what vocation you are meant for, quitting it to make yourself happier can be quite counterproductive. Yet I still get a little jealous that for my sisters, seeing their husbands every day is the rule and not the exception. That, for most of my friends, if they or their spouse go on a short business trip it may be the longest time they are apart in the entirety of their relationship. That advice from my parents on this topic may be well meaning but won't even scratch the surface because they've always been able to be together.

The point of this is, besides being a little pity party, I just plain miss Zack. I love him so much and we'd love a life where we could see each other every day for the rest of our lives and where we could go on all of our adventures together. Being apart from someone you love this much is difficult and sometimes I don't feel that great about it. It's lonely where Zack is and it's lonely where I am. At the same time, it'd be strange if we were both having the time of our lives apart.

I guess what I'm trying to say is- I miss Zack.

Friday, August 21, 2015

(Not Quite) 27 Dresses

I love weddings.

If I wasn't immersed in this PhD, if I hadn't discovered religious studies, I am sure I would want to be a wedding planner. People complain about planning their own wedding, but I had a great time planning mine- and I planned mine just before Pinterest became popular so I had to make my own "inspiration boards!" I've also been lucky to be close enough to a lot of people in my life who have wanted me to share in their special day by being a part of their wedding party. The funny thing is I wasn't even a bridesmaid until after I had already gotten married! I was the first of my childhood friends to get married (at 22 which in retrospect seems like I was crazy young!). You know that movie 27 Dresses with Katherine Heigl? There's a part (probably the only memorable scene in the whole movie to be honest) where she models all of the different dresses she's worn. In my experience as a flower girl, junior bridesmaid, and bridesmaid I've been draped in floral, squeezed into satin, floated around in chiffon and goodness knows what else. I've become an excellent source for invitation wording etiquette, DJ referrals, explaining the difference between buttercream and fondant, etc. Each wedding I've been in has its own unique memories!

The first wedding I was ever in was for the son of my godparents. It was somewhere around 1991 and  I was wearing peach taffeta with hair so teased it looks almost like I got a perm. I remember dancing with the little ring bear at the reception and being so nervous to walk down the aisle of the big Catholic church!

The second wedding was about a year later for one of my cousins. I was the flower girl again but all of us in the wedding party wore this insane floral print that actually matched a bedspread I ended up having a couple years later. That Halloween I used the dress along with a giant straw bonnet and trick or treated as Scarlet O'Hara (I loved Gone with the Wind).

Do you see a trend here with the baby's breath? The third wedding I was in was for my oldest sister Mindy. I was the awkward age of 11- a young girl who wore a bra already and was too old to be a flower girl but too young to be a bridesmaid. Somehow I ended up with a white dress, ballet slippers and an updo that was really a glorified pony tail with- you guessed it- baby's breath. But also- please notice the fantastical hairdos of my sisters Danielle and Brittney and the decorated wedding sneakers that Mindy wore!

That wraps of my wedding involvement in the 90s- kudos to the couples who got married without Pinterest or - just Bride magazine and a dream.

2010 came around and I was in the best and most important wedding of them all- mine! We had a large wedding party, a huge wedding and so many amazing details and it was just such a fun and great day with Zack and our family and friends.

Six months after I got married, my sister got married! I had barely finished planning mine and my sister was in Oklahoma so I had the job (with Pinterest this time!) of doing a lot of her wedding planning. I was a pro, visiting venues and sending her pictures and scoping out dresses.

Her wedding was very beautiful and so different from mine. It was rustic with gorgeous flowers (as you can see) and just us sisters standing with Brittney. Like my wedding, we all went with the same color and fabric but each had a different style of dress.

After that came David and Crystal's wedding- they were both in our wedding party and got married a little over a year after Zack and I! Zack and I were both in this summer wedding which was really fun and at a really gorgeous venue. This cute little dress did make an appearance a couple years later because it was the perfect color for my Miss Argentina (from Beetlejuice) Halloween costume!
(Isn't Zack handsome!)

After Crystal came Erin's wedding the next spring. So this wedding, for me, has a crazy story attached. The day before the wedding I caught some sort of horrible virus or food poisoning. I was so ill I ended up in the ER pumped with fluids and meds. Once the pain killers hit me (and I was feeling pretty good) I had a ridiculous conversation with the maid of honor, Kelly, telling her my situation and to not tell the bride under any circumstances. Apparently I was pretty comical because Zack and Kelly laugh at me for that phone call to this day! Miraculously I was well enough to pretend like nothing happened the next day although you can tell I'm a little sickly looking in the pictures!

The spring after, I was so honored to be a part of my dear friend Lauren's (nickname: Tibs) wedding! I was already living in California so I returned to Arizona for their wedding. Unfortunately Zack was away so he wasn't able to accompany me but it was an awesome day. We all wore these beautiful chiffon J Crew dresses in different styles and all of the details that went into Lauren and Matt's wedding were so sweet and beautiful. 

Just a few months later I was back in the Arizona heat for my sister Danielle's wedding! I posted about this wedding after it happened on this very blog but I still love looking at the pictures. It was so classy and Danielle's dress was a showstopper. My sisters and I were her bridal party and my family seriously looked FIERCE!

Last but not least is my best friend Preeth's wedding. Preeth and I have known each other since we were seven years old. When I was growing up I didn't think much about my future wedding like some little girls do, but one thing I knew for sure was that I would be in Preeth's wedding and she would be in mine. True to her word even though she was at school in London during my wedding she flew in for my day. When it was her turn we wore gorgeous saris and had just the most amazing day. 

And there you have it! My career as a member of the bridal party. I could attend or even be a part of a hundred more weddings and still look forward to every single one. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bahasa Indonesia di Wisconsin

Where oh where has Bethany been?

Almost two weeks ago I returned to California after living in Madison, Wisconsin for two months. As a graduate student, typically one spends their summers away from home researching or studying. Since I passed my Arabic language exam this spring (yay me!) it was time for me to pick up my study of Indonesian. If you remember, the summer I spent in Indonesia I took courses that were very helpful but after returning home I returned my focus to Arabic. This spring, I applied for a program called SEASSI- South East Asian Studies Summer Institute- for a 2 month long intensive Indonesian program. I was thrilled to be accepted and even more thrilled to receive funding for every aspect of my summer there. Originally, Zack was supposed to be deployed through the summer but when his deployment was cancelled early this year I jumped at the chance to instead go and have a little adventure myself!

Almost everyone who I talked to about going to Madison to study Indonesian would say one of two things: "That's a very weird place to study Indonesian!" or "Madison is so great!"

I've never been anywhere in the midwest but all of the glowing reviews I heard about Madison helped  alleviate my usual apprehension of staying in a strange new place for the summer. After securing my plane ticket I had to figure out where I would live, so I turned to Craigslist for the first time to find a sublet situation. I lucked in in getting a room in an apartment that was about five steps off campus and also right on the main street, State Street, of Madison. It was a little rough living with two college-age guys (the other sub-letters) and bidding goodbye by pristine California house, my husband and my two pups, but I adapted just fine.

The program itself was amazing! For four hours a day, five days a week we had class and almost every day there was an additional activity. I joined the Gamelan class which met twice a week and culminated in a concert at the end of the summer. There was a conversation table every Tuesday where we practiced Indonesian with different language games. On Thursdays after class I'd grab lunch and view the Indonesian films shown by our teachers. On weekends I could count on going to a new brunch place with other students and trying a new bar or restaurant at night- and don't forget the huge farmers market every Saturday morning!

Madison is a beautiful place. It was incredibly humid and the weather was a little temperamental but the city is situated between two beautiful large lakes, Mendota and Monona. I lived steps away from Lake Mendota and the university has a huge terrace area right next to the water that everyone in the area frequented to listen to live music, eat brats and drink local beer by the pitcher.

There were three classes of students studying Indonesian but in total there was only 16 of us. I'm a pretty cynical person usually so I am always surprised by how many truly awesome and genuine people I meet in these kinds of situations. Most of us really liked to hang out together and it was great talking to people interested in Indonesia coming from different disciplines, not to mention people to speak the language with outside of class. I already miss them all, but it seems that many of us plan on being in Indonesia at some point next year so hopefully we will be able to reconnect!

Another surprise was how much of a language you can actually learn in two months. We soared through the first set of books and almost finished a second set of textbooks before the summer was over. I was fortunate to come to the program with a good foundation of vocabulary words that I learned in Indonesia and as the first few weeks went on I recalled more and more. Well before the end of the summer we were writing short essays in Indonesian and carrying on long conversations. One of the difficult things I encountered was the way my knowledge of Spanish would pop up unexpectedly when I was trying to search for the right words in Indonesian! Now that I'm home the opposite has occurred- my mom will say something to me in Spanish and although I can completely comprehend her I can't form a sentence back to her in Spanish. Instead I think of Indonesian which she doesn't know at all!

A lot of the students in the course had never been to Indonesia before so it was exciting to be able to share my experiences of my short time there. It definitely rekindled my excitement for research and returning to Yogyakarta soon.

I missed my family quite a bit but to be honest I was so busy that the summer absolutely flew by. I already miss drinking my Bascom Blend coffee from Badger Market every day, lifting weights three days a week with Connor and Tina, trying new brunch places every weekend and hanging out on the terrace. Before coming to Wisconsin I did not know much about the University of Wisconsin Madison but it is a beautiful campus and seems like a really wonderful school. Madison is a really cool place also with lots of fun activities- although I can't imagine how busy and crowded it must get when school is in session.

I have a lot more to say, like about when Zack visited me and we went to Chicago for the weekend, starting a weightlifting program, etc., but that will come later! Overall I had a great summer!

With my phone and camera I took a ton of pictures this summer, but here are a few:

Most of the students studying Indonesian and our three amazing instructors at SEASSI Night.
Van Hise Hall from a distance- this is where I toiled away learning Indonesian all summer!
Some shots from the area near Picnic Point.

My apartment building!

Just before the Gamelan concert- I wore a batik blouse I bought in Indonesia and Bu Sakti did my hair in a beautiful braided bun with flowers! Below that is the actual concert- you can see how much we are concentrating! 

Did I mention I went on a sunset sail on Lake Mendota?

The lifting crew, Tina, Connor and I

Feeling the effects of two months of intensive study.

The Memorial Union (I tried calling it the MU but no one knew what I was talking about) with coffee, beer, brats and ice-cream- what more could you want?!

Kelas Satu- Class 1- on the last day! 
Kelas dua- Class 2- with the instructors on the last day!

Kelas tiga (one in person student and one distance student) and the instructors!

The view of the beautiful capitol building from State Street.
This is how close I lived to the lake!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Of Jawbreakers and Russian Accents

It's been a long six weeks.

At the end of March, I received a phone call from Zack. "Head down to the ER," he said- and this is not the first time I've gotten that kind of call from him.

"What did you do this time, Zack?" I asked.
"I broke my jaw."
"You're lying. You can't have broken your jaw! There's no way you could be talking to me right now with a broken jaw!"
"The doctor said I need to limit my talking. I'll see you soon."

As it turns out, Zack's jaw WAS broken. While playing flag football for PT that day, he and a teammate both ran toward each other for the ball and Zack ended up with a shoulder to the face. The break was just through one side and his wisdom teeth (which have still not popped up yet even though he's 28) actually prevented the break from going across his jaw. At first he felt sore and ran home to get lunch and feed Nash and then he realized he was having difficulty swallowing so he went to the ER to get it checked out.
That faint, jagged line isn't supposed to be there!

Breaking a jaw is pretty serious business. The next morning he went into a four hour surgery to have metal placed into his gums and wires attached to each other to prevent him from opening his jaw. The surgery was very painful and because he already suffers from sleep apnea, Zack had to stay the night in the hospital. When your jaw is shut all of your medications must be liquid and the strongest medication Zack could take happens to be the one he is allergic to and therefore could not take. Consequently it was a very painful night for Zack who at that point could only communicate by writing on a small whiteboard I had gotten him.

In post-op with a clipboard so he could communicate with the nurses.
After he was released, the work of healing his jaw really began. He was put on a strict liquid diet and had to meet with a nutritionist weekly to weigh in and discuss his eating habits. Most people who break their jaw end up losing a significant amount of weight and Zack was no exception (some people even choose to have their jaws wired shut to lose weight which I think is ridiculous). At first we tried to use this large plastic syringe and a red hose that was supposed to push food into a tiny opening behind his teeth but that was messy and unpleasant. After several trips to Costco and purchasing just about every milkshake straw at our local grocery store we started to figure some things out. Zack had to eat almost 3000 calories a day- something he eventually was able to track on his FitBit Charge that my parents got him for his birthday. Here's what a day in the life of wired shut Zack looked like:

Morning: Vanilla Ensure with Chocolate Syrup
                1/3 a bottle of liquid Motrin (usually used for kids)
                Brush teeth with a soft toothbrush, rinse with Listerine
Snack: Carnation instant breakfast with whole milk
            Brush teeth with a soft toothbrush, rinse with Listerine
Afternoon: Ensure with Chocolate Syrup
                  Tomato soup with chicken stock blended in the Ninja
                  Brush teeth with a soft toothbrush, rinse with Listerine
Snack: Ensure with Chocolate syrup and 1/3 bottle of liquid Motrin
            Brush teeth with a soft toothbrush, rinse with Listerine
Dinner: Something from the official cookbook for broken jaw patients- written in the 1980s!
             Example: Boiled chicken breast, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, spices, blended in Ninja
             Example: Sandwich bread, whole milk, peanut butter and jelly
             Or one of my dinners blended like Chicken Cacciatore, Chili, or Chicken Cordon Bleu (that was all trial and error- don't make me talk about the time he tried to blend up pizza or I thought blended stir fry was a good idea)
              Of course, brush teeth with a soft toothbrush, rinse with Listerine
Evening: Check calories. Drink a protein shake with peanut butter and chocolate
               Brush teeth with a soft toothbrush, rinse with Listerine
               Finish off that bottle of Motrin (yes he went through one bottle a day as instructed by his doctor).

My dinner on the left, his dinner on the right with a big milkshake straw. 
The pain was terrible. In the middle of the night he would try to wrench open his teeth in his sleep- he was dreaming about taking a big bite of solid food! Every time he yawned or sneezed was painful. Wearing his sleep apnea mask was painful. Talking for too long was painful. Several time in the first few weeks he loosened his wires accidentally in his sleep and had to return to the hospital the next morning to get them tightened- which was painful. The doctor described the pain as if you were flexing another muscle, like a bicep, all day long without letting up and how incredibly painful that would be- especially for six weeks. Zack had no choice but to clench his jaw which was causing the pain. Another obstacle was breathing. Most physical activity was prohibited because he couldn't move air through his mouth.
A lot of people just thought he had braces!

For the first three weeks Zack was able to stay home from work. This was a blessing because every day was incredibly exhausting for him and the pain never let up. When he went back to work it was difficult to keep up the constant eating that he needed and all the talking he does for his job took a lot out of him.

The other difficulty he faced was just being understood. After the first few days of using a whiteboard he was able to talk better- but with a very thick accent. If you can, clench your teeth together as hard as you can and try to say a coherent sentence! It took a few days for his Marines to understand him. I adapted pretty well- he's the person I talk to the most, after all, but if he wasn't facing me or was calling to me from another room it was hard for me to understand. Our growth group from church debated whether he sounded Eastern European or from Brooklyn and babies were either curious or afraid whenever they heard Zack speak.  Our three year old nephew Lane was terrified of his NoNo! He hated seeing Zack hurt and hearing him sound "not like his NoNo" in our FaceTime conversations. It took over a month to get Lane to talk to NoNo without covering his ears and running away from the phone! On his birthday the waitress asked where he was from and became confused when he said Arizona- she was expecting Russia!

Restaurants were almost out of the question. He was able to eat a few soups at Soup Plantation but Panera's soups were too chunky and needed to be blended at home. When my parents visited we discovered that more upscale restaurants were very accommodating and willing to blend delicious soups like clam chowder and lobster bisque. While I enjoyed amazing prime rib at Easter Zack actually loved the special loaded baked potato soup I made him. I must admit it was hard cooking for one after these past few years but it was even more of a task to try to make sure Zack was eating enough! If anyone ever needs a recipe for a 1000 calorie protein shake, ask me!

Something he still could do!
Oceanside Broiler did a great job blending their clam chowder for his birthday dinner!
He could also eat their creme brûlée for dessert (although I had to eat the raspberries and the sugar topping!)
He got a little up close and personal to the seals at Oceanside Harbor!
Yesterday, Zack's jaw was unwired. Over the course of the past six weeks he's lost over 25 pounds- he looks just like the scrawny 15 year old I first dated years ago! After all of the metal was removed from his mouth, his gums were very sore and will continue to be for a few days. Because his jaw isn't used to working it will still take weeks for him to be able to eat normally again. The doctor said to start with things like mashed potatoes and that the last thing he will be able to eat, someday, is beef jerky. Zack sounds like "my" Zack again even though I grew quite used to the Russian Zack I heard so much. Zack's biggest wish is to be eating somewhat better by the time we go home to Arizona so he can eat some of my parents' wonderful cooking!

Here's to my accident prone husband- may he appreciate solid food enough not to play flag football again! (Yeah right!)

There's that beautiful smile back!