Thanks to This Blog, I Found Out my Husband is Afraid of the Same Movie

The other day we were walking up the stairs and he mentioned ever so casually that “Darkness Falls scared me too. I still think about every so often when I realize I’m standing in the dark.” And I was like *yay I’m not the only loser still deeply affected by a horror film about tooth fairies* and then I thought wait, how did I not know this until now? and THEN I realized: “Hey! You read my blog post!” which shouldn’t have been surprising because he always does read them. He’s just been so busy with school and applying for jobs and carefully not mentioning reading my blog because then I’ll ask if he’s read the most recent book chapter I’ve sent him and really passive aggressively mention something along the lines of “so much for reading a chapter a day, huh?” and he’ll feel guilty because he loves me but hates reading apparently, and I’ll feel guilty for feeling pleased that I made him feel guilty and it’s just a whole big thing.

 

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I’m Weirdly Proud of my Grown Up Taste Buds

I don’t like butternut squash. Haven’t since I was a kid. I couldn’t even be tempted with the whole toasted-marshmallows-on-top trick that my mom tried to pull when it wasn’t even Thanksgiving just to make her kids eat some damn squash. There have been a (very) few exceptions–most notably, a butternut squash soup my sister-in-law made for Thanksgiving one year (which blew my mind and made me hesitantly approach the …gourd? going forward). I have a pretty decent recipe for maple-roasted squash, and I did try sneaking some into a mac’n’cheese dish once. I’m still not crazy about butternut squash and prefer to avoid it when possible.

Pivot:
The other day, my husband is listing out what he’s just picked up from the grocery store that we could make for dinner: “some more veggie burgers, tofu for that one dish, raviolis, soyrizo that you love…” and I’m thinking about the doctor’s appointment I have after work and how lovely it will be to get home and cook up those tasty ravs so fast.

I get home, and he’s telling me about his day and I’m like “time-out, lets get those raviolis cookin! What kind did you get? Butternut squash?”

PAUSE.

Backstory:
My husband and I play a little game whenever we go to Trader Joe’s and look at their raviolis. He always says “butternut squash ravioli! you love that, right?” and I say some variation of *puke emoji* and tell him I’ll try literally any other ravioli “flavor” just not that one.

RESUME.

Guys, guess wtf kind of ravioli is in my fridge? Butternut-freakin-Squash Ravioli.

My husband’s exact words: “I thought you love butternut squash ravioli?? Whoops! I can’t ever remember whether you love it or hate it.”

To be fair, there are things I can’t remember for MYSELF that he has to remind me of. I do not like blood orange flavoring. Or mango salsa. Or pumpkin anything that isn’t bread or pie (or *maybe* beer–damn’t, that’s one of the things I need him to remember for me, do I love or hate pumpkin beer??). I love the IDEA of these things, which means I always forget I do not enjoy their actual tastes. So he can be forgiven for having a confusing food associated with me. There are a lot of them.

 

Oh yeah, all of that is to say, I tossed those ravs with some butter, oregano, pinch of salt, dash of turmeric, topped with fresh ground pepper and shaved Parmesan cheese and holy moly they were really freakin’ good! I’m adding this to my “I’m an adult now” palette, right alongside the stouts and porters I’ve been enjoying lately out of the blue.

 

Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives…”
~Ephesians 5:25-28 MSG

The first time I heard this verse, this way, it broke my heart. I’d all but convinced myself I expected too much from the idea of “true love,” that real life looks nothing like the novels or movies I love. I was ready to settle for a faded out shade of love offered by a boy whose brokenness only sharpened my own.

Then I heard those words, and it captured perfectly what I’d wanted my whole life. Here was proof I wasn’t being completely unrealistic in my hopes for a love that lifts up without first tearing down.

I wrote my favorite snippet on an index card and hung it up over my computer: His words evoke her beauty. And I resolved to believe that sort of love was waiting for me.

It wasn’t some magical, life-altering thing. I didn’t end my current relationship — not right away. I wanted still to believe it could happen between us. And when we fell apart completely, I was hollowed out and worried I’d missed my chance.

When I met my husband, he made it very clear from the moment he said hello that he was interested in me. He wooed me like an oldfashioned gentleman, with gifts left outside my door and little notes just to say he was thinking of me. He made me feel wanted and adored and powerful, and not just with him, or because of him. I felt like the whole world should be able to see me that way, too. I’d never experienced anything like him, and I couldn’t find the words to explain just how amazing I felt.

Sometime in those early weeks, I opened a drawer I hadn’t since moving to my new apartment, and right on top sat an index card a hopeful me had scribbled more than two years earlier. His words evoke her beauty.

That’s how he loved me, even before he’d admitted those three words. That’s how he loves me still, seven years after our first date.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries: a Rant

Of all the “sexy” foods and dishes out there, I understand chocolate-covered strawberries the least. I do not understand how one can look remotely sexy eating a chocolate-covered strawberry — unless she does it in one bite, I suppose, but have you seen the size of some of these strawberries? I’m pretty sure choking to death on dessert fruit is the least sexy way to end a date night.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the flavor combination. Burst of fruity-sweetness, wrapped in a hint of bitter warmth. I get that aspect.

It’s just every time I bite into a chocolate-covered strawberry (because, as we’ve established, I’m not “sexy” enough to go with the one-bite game plan), the chocolate shatters and juice spills over my fingers and down my chin. The bits of chocolate that were so hard seconds ago are now quick-melting into my favorite shirt and — somehow — caking under my fingernails. To reduce casualties, I messily shove the remainder of the dripping, melting mess into my mouth, desperately holding the — extremely fragile — stem so I don’t accidentally ingest the green part which I’m sure is fine but this-is-a-sexy-dessert-not-a-salad-damn-it.

And then, of course, I’m stuck holding the half-chewed remains in my sticky fingers. In that moment, I don’t know which is the more important find: a trashcan or a paper towel. Or maybe my husband, who has since removed himself from the situation claiming he doesn’t even really like strawberries anyway.

I’ll usually end up peeling off the chocolate and dumping the now-mushy strawberries (priorities). It would be better all around if we just kept our fruit and chocolate separate.

You are the Best Thing

This weekend, my husband and I will celebrate our first year of married life. It’s insane to me that a full year has passed since the “I do”s and the big dress.

Recently, someone asked how being a newlywed was going. I surprised myself by responding immediately with “it’s really wonderful.” That’s not to say it’s surprising that being married is wonderful — of course it is; why else would people do it? It’s just also hard sometimes, and annoying sometimes, and honestly, a little bit terrifying. But when faced with the question — asked in a way that was meant to illicit a deep, well-thought-out response — my first associated feeling was warmth and light and safety. My lips lifted. And then the words tumbled out. “Really wonderful.”

Trust me, this wasn’t some platitude to change the subject. It wasn’t naivety or boasting or sugar-coating reality. Sharing a living space with someone is annoying. Especially when one is introverted and has grown used to living alone. Suddenly having another person eating my food and using my bathroom and watching my TV 24/7 was uncomfortable (note: I should say that it is “our” food now, and “our” bathroom, and –if anything– “his” TV). I like coming home from work and writing or watching a good, detailed show on the DVR (like GoT) or reading a book or whatever it is that is silent and solitary and not peppered with questions. I’ve had to get used to there being someone who wants to hear about my day and tell me about his (and eventually ask for the umpteenth time “why does she have dragons?”) — literally every single day.

My husband is neurotic about very particular things. We all have our quirks. I’m seriously blown away he loves me so freaking much considering all of my own little weirdo-things.

We are also different people. This should go without saying, but being different people, we have different thoughts and ideas and different things are important or not important or done differently and this leads to fights.

This year has not been a walk in the park, though we’ve taken many. We’ve experienced loss, and learned how difficult comfort can be to find when he grieves differently than I. There have been eye-rolls and firmly-shut-doors (okay, I might have slammed one or two). There have been tears (in my defense, he knew going into this I’m a mess of emotions) and there has been heavy silence. I’ve learned (read: still learning) that sharing a life can be as windy and rocky as it is smooth.

But I’ve also learned that if I’m not feeling well, my husband knows without my saying which mug to serve my favorite soup in. I know he’ll go to three different stores to track down one ingredient for dinner if I say it’s important (and sometimes, even if I say it’s not). He always cleans up after dinner — he’ll say it’s because I cooked, but even if he makes his specialty rice-and-avocado-burritos, he cleans up.

When a funny movie makes him belly-laugh, he reaches for my knee. It’s a subconscious tick — he just likes to be physically connected to me while we’re doubling over with laughter. Sometimes he holds my hand as he’s falling asleep. He tells me he loves my singing (no matter how loudly, stupidly, or off-key I make it), and insists he’s not lying when I scoff.

He thinks I’m strong, and beautiful, and that I see the world with childlike wonder. He can be utterly selfless, my modern-day hero. He epitomizes one of my favorite lines from my favorite movie about my favorite fictional crush: “That boy would stand on his head if I asked him to!” (okay, so the original quote said “Gilbert Blythe” but I’ve thought it so often of my husband that it’s forever warped in my heart to “that boy”).

So despite the challenges that go along with all of life, despite the discomfort of fitting my life with another human being, when asked to dish about all the anxiety marriage can bring, the word that came to mind was “wonderful.” Really wonderful.

There were points during the past year where I questioned everything. I had panic attacks and really low periods and felt really lonely. There were also times I couldn’t fall asleep because my husband wasn’t home yet, and now I’m used to his arms around me at night. It’s all a beautiful, painful, wonderful journey to weave my life with someone else, the best someone else. It’s a journey we’ll continue on for a lifetime of years.

 

“I’m Hungry!”

Once my brother-in-law pointed it out, I can’t help but notice my father-in-law says this phrase often. There’s an emphasis on the “I’m” and the “hungry” follows obediently, the only logical conclusion to the phrase. I’ve started saying it this way myself. He and I are two peas in a pod when it comes to our bellies: we are usually in the mood for a meal.

Recently in NYC, he said “I’m hungry! Annie, are you hungry? Let’s eat!” and I knew we were kindred spirits. We left my sister- and mother-in-law shopping and went to find some grub. My husband tagged along, of course, but he’d had a bagel four hours earlier so he wasn’t very hungry (I will never understand this).

Richard is a character I could never capture on paper, though I’m going to try. We were walking to a nice restaurant for his “birthday prequel” dinner one weekend and he announced:

“If I smell like dog urine, it was for a good cause!”

Their aging Bichon was the culprit. “Yeah,” he said with a shrug, “I picked him up and he peed a little. But you know what? It’s okay!”

Sometimes, in the middle of a conversation that has been going on for several minutes, he’ll giggle and agree with something he said much earlier in the evening. We’ll be discussing politics, and he’ll chuckle and nod and say to himself something like “yeah, I really like the new Fiat.” And my mother-in-law will utter an exasperated “Richard!” and my husband will laugh because he’s the same way (I am constantly reminding my husband that I don’t get to go along with his trains of thought, so he has to tell me how he got from talking about a new bumper for his Wrangler to making a statement about business schools in Southern California in the space of thirty seconds).

My father-in-law adores his kids. When I say Richard adores them, I mean there are moments where it’s almost tangible. Whenever my sister-in-law is in town, there’s a subtle shift. Richard uses pet names like “sweetie” in almost every sentence he says to her. If I’m standing next to him, I can almost feel the warmth and pride filling him when he talks to her.

My husband, too. He and his dad will go out for burgers just because it’s a Wednesday night and they want to. After college, my husband lived at home for a while, and they got used to being buddies. Even though it’s been a few years since my husband moved out, I can tell Richard misses having him home. They’ll talk on the phone and he’ll ask when my husband is coming home next, but instead of the usual way parents ask, it will be something more along the lines of “you’re coming for dinner Sunday, right?” and my husband’s answer is always “sure!”

I can tell you almost word-for-word how every one of their phone conversations will begin. It doesn’t matter which of them calls the other:

“It’s a beautiful day to be outside, you bum!”

“I know, we’re out walking (or on our way to Old Town/Georgetown/DuPont to walk around…).” This family takes a lot of walks.

They go back and forth a little bit, trying to one up each other about all the time they’re spending outdoors, then they discuss the coolest cars they’ve seen recently, then one promises to call the other back in ten minutes and never does. Like clockwork.

As a fairly recent addition to the family, I’ve enjoyed getting to know my father-in-law the way his family does, as a man of wonderful characteristics and even better quirks.

Dental Issues and Turkish Lentil Soup

I recently had dental surgery. I needed a tissue graft for the receding gum of one of my molars. For the squeamish reading this (hi, Mom), I’ll spare the details and just say this process was less involved than a root canal but on par (possibly worse due to lack of sedation) with wisdom teeth removal. I was swollen. I was in pain. I was hungry.

One thing about me: I’m almost always hungry. If I don’t feel like eating and I haven’t just finished a meal, there may be something wrong–mentally or physically–to curb my appetite.

The issue with dental surgery is the limitations it places on one’s ability to eat the way she loves. I have long been a huge fan of soups, so I will admit going into this procedure, I had a plan that was all soup all day and I was fine with it. I had a nice long grocery list laid out with little notes and explanations so my husband could navigate Harris Teeter without me (side note: my husband is excellent at grocery shopping for things he enjoys. It’s the “weird” things: the olive oil, the ginger root, the multiple different colored onions… that throw him.) and I knew I’d be cooking up some awesome soups that for whatever reason, I never got around to making this long, drawn out fall-winter-canwereallycallthisspring? season that seems *finally* (knock on wood) behind us.

So there I was, laying on the couch with an ice pack pressed to my cheek, catching up on Grey’s Anatomy (yes, seriously), and trying not to let my cranky, post-procedure feelings convince me I was getting hangry each time my husband called with another question. He was amazing, by the way. He’d call and say “I can’t find such and such” or “they’re out of this or that” and I’d say it doesn’t matter, I don’t need it, because I just wanted him to get home with the basics so I could eat SOMETHING besides the applesauce they gave me at the periodontist (which was already gone). He kept saying it was important so he was going to find it for me. My knight in corduroys.

Anyway, I started flipping through the recipes I’d jotted down for Carrot Ginger Soup and Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup and this impressively-named Flu Buster Vegetable Soup and realized I didn’t want any of them. I wanted salt-and-vinegar chips. I wanted chocolate-covered pretzels. I wanted a cheeseburger. Basically, I wanted what I couldn’t have. My husband found me wallowing in self-pity and a little bit of drool and frantically tried to help with a bowl of ice cream. (The best thing about this surgery: I was instructed to do my two favorite things–eat ice cream and don’t exercise.) It did help, until my stitches bled (sorry for that detail, Mom).

The perfect soup occurred to me around this time, and I frantically Googled to make sure we had the necessary ingredients (my husband loves me, but I couldn’t bring myself to send him back to the store, no matter how often he offered).

A Digression:

Several weeks ago, we went out to dinner. I was feeling particularly adventurous that night, so I told my husband I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been. I even offered a French restaurant he’d mentioned in the past (I’m not a huge fan of French food. Sorry). He ignored this completely and decided we should go to a Turkish restaurant that he loves near his parents’ house. Normally, I’d be happy with this option, but I was feeling like being dangerous and surprising myself by eating some frog legs or similar “French” cuisine. So I was less than kind as we sat down at the Turkish place and huffily read through the menu. Our waiter told us the soup of the day was Red Lentil Soup, a traditional Turkish soup, and I informed my husband I was going to try it (as if it was some big stand I was taking to display my displeasure that we were not eating somewhere new). All of that is to say, I had the lentil soup, it blew my socks off, and if not for my husband ignoring my wishes (read: demands) to go elsewhere, I would never have even thought to make a soup of pureed lentils and potatoes.

So that is what I needed when my mouth was swollen and my jaw was sore. The Turkish Lentil Soup ordered out of (weird, hangry) spite ended up not only saving the day, but it was probably one of the best dishes I’ve made in general. My husband did a fantastic job with the immersion blender, too. He refused to let me stand up for the time it took to puree the soup.

So there aren’t any pictures, but the recipe I used is below.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup:

  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup (~2 small) potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  1. Put all ingredients in large stockpot; bring to boil.
  2. Lower heat to Medium-Low and simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and blend.

(Let cool to room temperature before eating if you’ve just had dental surgery and can’t have hot things)