101 Things <3

A few thoughts on marriage as I write this post about our third anniversary:

-Love is indeed a choice.

-There might be bad days, bad weeks, and even bad years. But there are good days, good weeks, and good years, too 😉 (I read a great article about this in the New York Times back in 2014 but I can’t seem to find it–bummer!)

-While reflecting on the hard times, I recently wrote: There’s virtue in trying, and in trying again, when two people are willing–willing to change when we need to change or stand our ground when it’s better to do that.

-I also wrote, I can’t really make sense of any of this. 😀 Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of love, marriage, relationships in general…

-But I do believe: Marriage is worth it.

I’ve read marriage advice by some very wise people, but the following thoughts from Michael Novak, Catholic theologian, may be my very favorite, and help explain what I’m talking about (this was published in Harper’s in 1976 and I found it in Eugene England’s perfect essay on the LDS Church, of all things):

“Marriage is an assault upon the lonely, atomic ego. Marriage is a threat to the solitary indi­vidual. Marriage does impose grueling, humbling, baf­fling, and frustrating responsibilities. Yet if one sup­poses that precisely such things are the preconditions for all true liberation, marriage is not the enemy of moral development in adults. Quite the opposite.

Being married and having children has impressed on my mind certain lessons, for whose learning I cannot help being grateful. Most are lessons of difficulty and duress. Most of what I am forced to learn about myself is not pleasant…My dignity as a human being depends perhaps more on what sort of husband and parent I am, than on any professional work I am called on to do. My bonds to my family hold me back (and my wife even more) from many sorts of opportunities. And yet these do not feel like bonds. They are, I know, my liberation. They force me to be a different sort of human being, in a way in which I want and need to be forced.” 

!!!

I can’t say it more beautifully than that, so on to the rest of my post:

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I arrived home to Boston on Friday at 6 a.m. on a redeye in time to celebrate Waldir’s and my third anniversary. I surprised him with a little book I made, “101 Things I Love About You,” in which I listed 101 things I love about him and pasted photos.

I’m normally not cutesy with gifts but I wanted to up my game this year and do something to show my love better. I think it was a success, and it was fun to put together. When I got to #101, I wanted to keep going, which is also a success. Thanks, Waldir, for giving me a lot of goodness to love.

I realized while doing this that the practice of writing down what we love about others–whether romantic others or friends or even people we find difficult to love–is transformative. I recommend it.

Waldir took me to Alma Nove, an Italian-Mediterranean waterfront restaurant founded by Paul, Donnie, and Mark Wahlberg, and named after their mother, Alma, who had nine (nove) children. With full and happy stomachs, we headed to the Boston Opera House to see Broadway’s “Finding Neverland,” which was delightful, inspiring, and touching.

Celebrations continued Saturday when we—Waldir exhausted from working and traveling and me from traveling and not sleeping well—stayed in bed half the day. Eventually I journeyed into the sunshine to practice yoga under a tree by the Harvard soccer field. This was blissful for a half hour until the team showed up and blasted hip hop from the loud speakers. 😀 But I didn’t mind the interruption too much–it’s their field anyway, and it’s fun to live so close to all of the action.

Later, Waldir and I attended the temple, which was beautiful. Attending the temple on or right after our wedding date is a tradition we’ve established. After we married, before we honeymooned in Mexico, we stayed in Salt Lake two nights and enjoyed attending the temple. I remember seeing David Archuleta there, which was funny because he and I had been in the Mormon Missionary Training Center (MTC) at the same time. Some fellow sister missionaries swooned over him in the MTC but I mostly noticed how short he is (no offense intended). Speaking of short: my mom, who is 6 feet tall, teases my sisters and I for marrying and dating short men (my sisters are both taller than me and mom expected them especially to marry tall men). “You married short men!” she says. Kaitlin and I sure did. Shalane hasn’t yet married, but we’ll see. It will be interesting to see if our kids get the tall Carson genes or the Scavo and Alatriste genes.

After the temple Saturday night, Waldir and I ate at a Thai restaurant we frequent, and then went home and played a card game, listened to music (including “Singin’ in the Rain,” of course), and talked. I woke up realizing I had food poisoning, which wasn’t too fun. Waldir, on the other hand, has immunity to everything. I’ve gotten food poisoning multiple times throughout our marriage, but him? Never. Today I said, “Your stomach is a rock” and he responded, “This is why our kids need to go to Mexico and eat everything.” I think he’s right.

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election night

November 2016

Ironically, I was with the HDS Muslims (and some other Muslims from around the community) on the night of the election, and it was painful. The past week at school has been even more painful. We’ve been going through stages of grieving. Shock turned to rage turned to deep sadness. I cried in two of my classes—not just a few tears, like, streaming-down-my-face kind of tears. Professors cried. For days, I couldn’t sleep at night…crashed around 4 a.m. to sleep for a few hours.

I’m surprised that the results of this election have been so visceral, raw, and—well, bodily. Post-election discussions at Harvard have addressed the election as a traumatic event, and I really do feel that there’s a lot of community trauma right now.

One of my Muslim friends, who is a first-year student at HDS, has family members in Michigan who have been threatened; as she kept getting phone calls from her mom about these threats last week, she asked her mom what to do. My friend was wondering if she should go home and be with family. Her mom chastised her, told her to get up off the ground (figuratively), and get to work. This response was heartening, full of energy and life. She told her daughter, “Your father and I didn’t immigrate to America for you to quit…”

And so, a fire has been lit—or rekindled—in many of us.

Rise Up

September 2016

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Last week at noon service (a weekly interfaith worship gathering at HDS), I sobbed through the sermon and “die-in,” where black students lay on the floor to symbolize and protest the killings of our black brothers and sisters across the nation. The weight of violence crushed on me, and I poured out tears. I thought about Christ taking the pain of the world. Although that is HIS role—not mine!—I couldn’t help but grieve for the hatred, strife, thoughtlessness, and ignorance of humans. Then Debbie sang Rise Up and I will never forget the feeling in that room as the “dead” rose (symbolic on multiple levels!).

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