hollymath: (Default)
Both the questions I've been asked so far -- How did you get in to being poly? and When did you decide to move to Uk? -- have the same (short-version) answer:

In general? LiveJournal. And specifically? Andrew.

Long version got long! So here's the poly bit. )

And here's the getting to the UK bit. )
hollymath: (Default)
I have a stock answer for anybody who finds out I'm American and asks (out of politeness or incredulity, it ends up the same) what brought me here.

"My husband's British," I say. "And he thinks Manchester is the best place in the world."

1:49 this morning is the first time he told me he was sorry for bringing me here. "I thought when I married you I'd be taking you to a country where you'd be safe."

It broke my heart.

He hasn't stopped apologizing since. And my heart hasn't stopped breaking, for all kinds of reasons but this chief among them.

I love the UK. I love living here. I love being an immigrant, for all its miseries and horrors. I am surprised to find what an integral part of my identity this has become.

But of course, most of all I love him. I love the lives we've worked so hard to build together.

That anything, or anyone, could make him, the naturalized Mancunian who resists all my complaints about the weather and about how nice Yorkshire would be, could make him apologize, is almost as bewildering as it is enraging for me. He's 100% convinced he's brought me to a fascist country, where I'll be less safe as an immigrant, as a disabled person.

Considering, of course, how bad the country I'm from is on such things, I think at first he's exaggerating; my heart doesn't just break but feels like it'll shatter when I understand that he is not.

Goddamn anyone who makes him feel like a failure for marrying me and working so unbelievably hard at keeping us fed and housed and as happy as possible. I couldn't ask for anyone more committed to my happiness than he is -- not my parents, certainly not me! -- and goddam anything that makes him doubt or question or regret that.
hollymath: (Default)
Andrew's bemoaning how most people fail to distinguish the signal from the noise (referendums are bad for him).

"They should all listen to me," he says. "I could tell them all the information."

"Yeah, what you're talking about there is a monarchy, though," I say.

"They wouldn't have to vote like I told them. But at least they'd know."

"You aren't even very good at knowing about your own life," I tease. "Much less about everything." I point out a hospital appointment on Monday that he didn't even remember he forgot about until bedtime yesterday.‎

"I know that you should go to hospital appointments if you have arthritis!" he says.

"But you don't know when it is."

"No. That administration. Not policy."

I think about this for a second. "You really do think I'm the civil service in the Monarchy of Andrew, don't you?"

"Not think as such. More like, know..."‎

Ten years

Jan. 22nd, 2016 08:40 am
hollymath: (Default)
Here's what Andrew posted yesterday.

Ten years ago today, give or take a time zone or six, I got married. (Coincidentally, so did Holly.)

I’m not very good at talking about my feelings, so I won’t talk about how much I love her, or how lucky I am, or any of that. And the wedding day itself is not one we particularly look back on with any great pleasure — it was less than two months after Holly’s brother died, and she was moving to another continent away from her family, which among many other things made the dynamics of the whole “not losing a daughter but gaining a son” thing rather different, and not in a good way.

But our wedding *was* the occasion of the one actual romantic gesture I’ve ever made, so I can at least mention that.

Holly and I both enjoy the work of the songwriter Stew. I’m a bigger fan, but we both knew and loved albums like Guest Host and The Naked Dutch Painter. These days Stew is a Tony Award-winning writer of musicals, but back then he and his band The Negro Problem didn’t have even the small level of celebrity he does now.

And because of that lack of celebrity, Stew offered an occasional service where he would write and record songs on commission. So — with the financial help of several friends who helped me pay for it as their wedding gift to us — I managed to scrape together enough money to pay for a song about Holly, for our wedding. (This was a major effort. At the time I was working three jobs just to pay off enough debts to get into a position where I could meet the financial requirements for her getting a spouse visa).

Here it is. https://olsenbloom.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/nows-eternity.mp3

To help make sense of some of the less obvious bits of lyric, my wife’s name is Holly, she comes from Minnesota (“the land of ten thousand lakes”), we’d met over the Internet originally (this was back when that was a relatively rare thing), and she was moving from the US to the UK.

I still think it’s a truly great song, and I’m pretty sure I’d think that even if it wasn’t about a truly great person.
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I'm on a mailing list for Lib Dem bloggers (even though I'm not really one) and today as sometimes happens there I noticed an e-mail asking people to share a link to a video they'd made. There was another e-mail from someone saying it was great and that they would do so.

A minute later there was another e-mail from the second person: "Is that one scarf or two, btw?"

I hadn't been able to watch the video yet, but I already knew the answer to that question.

Reader, I had knitted those scarves.

And yes, there were two (though apparently only one is in the video, as there's more than enough of it to drape around a person). The pattern I used, from doctorwhoscarf.com, called for so much yarn and so much knitting that you could have blanketed an elephant with it. Having realized this after having yards of knitted fabric and realizing I still had half the yarn I'd bought left, I decided to stop there and start another one, so Alex and Richard could each have one as their wedding present, rather than having to share the one. The scarves, I wrote in the explanatory yes-I-know-the-orange-is-wrong-it-was-the-closest-I-could-find (because Alex and Richard are the kind of people who'll know that the orange is the wrong shade, though they're polite enough that you can't expect them to let on), are not the same but two halves of the whole, something I thought reasonably appropriate for a wedding present, especially since I can't think of any two people who better epitomize the idea of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

I was honored when I saw that the scarves were a wedding gift that got packed into their suitcases for their honeymoon in the U.S. As Alex said today (in answering the question about whether there were one or two scarves), "They got a lot of attention on our honeymoon, particularly in Chicago - the Windy City - in November, where people kept stopping us on the sidewalk to ask where we'd got them (and shivering)..."

If ever I were going to burst with pride, it would've been when the famous Alex and Richard told random Americans where they got their Doctor Who scarves: it was from me. And similarly now that Alex and Richard have made a video about the long journey to their marriage, I am again delighted to see my scarves -- well, one of my scarves as it turns out they're sharing one in this video, bless them -- showing up too.

None of my Lib Dem heroes are famous: they're all people who are on worthy committees and reading dry papers and making phone calls and delivering leaflets. When things anger or hurt them, they don't just rage about it on social media; they start writing policy motions. And they get drunk and sing songs making fun of everyone, especially ourselves.

We don't always know the effects that our actions will have. I've helped write Lib Dem policy that has and hopefully will continue to contribute to the life and liberty of LGBT+ people.

We meet and fall in love. We go to each others' weddings. We sit at those weddings around a table set nicely for a fancy meal and get in screaming rows about devolution and what "England" even means.

We make Doctor Who scarves for wedding presents, with thoughtful advice on which version from which season is the most appropriate to the couple. Here I've gone with the Season 18 three-color scarf, less well known than the traditional multicolored Doctor Who scarf you see on cosplayers and such. It was suggested in recognition that Season 18 is a favorite of Alex's, but I think it also serves to demonstrate the unexpectedly unique couple to whom the scarves were given.

You can read what Alex says about the long journey to their married life here, and here's the video:

Transcript. )
hollymath: (Default)
When I was first married, and struggling with how miserable and strange my wedding was, a lot of my friends suggested having some other kind of ceremony more like how I'd have wanted it and less tainted by the emotional rawness of my brother having just died.

I always said I could see the appeal of this in some ways but in other ways it'd just be another thing for me to sort out on my own and anyway Andrew hated the first wedding enough that I can't imagine him offering me anything better than tolerance and humoring me for such a plan, and the whole point of this would be to remove the aspect of obligation and having to please other people from a wedding.

After a while I didn't think about the wedding so much any more and the idea didn't seem at all interesting to any more.

So after years of not thinking about it, I dreamed it last night.

It was so vivid. I can tell you the dress I was wearing -- bright red, and a bit girly for me but I was very happy with it -- and that everybody I know was there. I wasn't dreaming I was in the past, I was dreaming everybody I know now and I knew in the dream that I had been married a while by now.

But it was a big party and everyone was really happy for me and I was really happy. And I woke up feeling like that's almost as good, or maybe better, than having to plan and arrange it in my waking life.

Nine years

Jan. 19th, 2015 12:45 pm
hollymath: (Default)
After my mom handed the phone to my dad, I heard her say something in the background.

"Oh, and Mom says happy anniversary," Dad said. "Seven years it'll be now, right?"

"Nine!" I said. "It was 2006..." I smiled that he seemed so surprised at this. I kind of am, too.

"Time flies when you're having fun!" Andrew said, having discerned enough of the conversation from my half of it.

Our anniversary's Wednesday. I think yesterday or today marks nine years since my parents first met Andrew. Circumstances dictated that they planned their daughter's whole wedding to a stranger, and had only my word for it that this was a good idea. And they never caused me a moment's trouble over it: never raised even the slightest concern that this could be a good idea, never quizzed me about what he was like or where we'd live or what I'd do.

For all they frustrate and confuse and worry me, my parents have been unbelievably supportive of my odd life trajectory, my valuing of things they don't understand (within reason...and I get by without telling them the rest).

I wish I remembered my wedding more fondly, but it was an awful day for me. I was grateful to the friends I had there, who had traveled great distances and driven in bad weather (with a broken foot, in [livejournal.com profile] kmusser's case!), and while Andrew and I were glad to be married...neither of us enjoyed the process of getting married.

Which is sad I guess, but mostly I think it's sad that there's such a narrow cultural understanding of what weddings are like that anyone who feels it was anything other than the best day of their life -- and any woman who didn't "feel like a princess" -- is lacking.

Well, I did feel like a princess, I imagine, in that I was doing this to please other people, some of them strangers.

My wedding was possibly the only day when I felt like I had a public life and a private life and the two were very different. My family don't know the locket I got from my girlfriend, which I usually wore as a bracelet on a watchband, was tied around my ankle with a piece of lace for the wedding. They don't know about her tears at the thought of me moving away.

They don't know that the first words I remember Andrew saying to me as we held hands and walked to where the reception would be were "You're my wife now, Dave," which I knew as a line from a show I don't like.

They don't know that my wedding night was spent playing Apples to Apples with Andrew's and my friends until four in the morning, at which point I cried all over Andrew in the wedding-bed which in our case was a pull-out sofa in my parents' basement because the rest of the house was full of our friends, staying because we're miles from any hotel (though I was secretly thrilled as it was lovely to spend as much time together as we could).

They don't know that I had to explain to Andrew that when people banged their forks on their glasses, they wouldn't stop until we the happy couple kissed. I'd been just about to get up to pee and he had a mouthful of pulled pork, so we kissed quickly and then I went to extract myself from my dress (which luckily I could just about do on my own, one of few concessions I'd gotten on the wedding dress). As soon as I unzipped it, it fell off my shoulders and slid into a puddle around my ankles on the bathroom floor, so I was sitting in just my bra when I heard a knock on the bathroom door and my mom's voice. Apparently people were worried that I was upset. I assured her I was fine -- is a bride not allowed bodily functions on her special day?! -- but the word evidently didn't get around enough because there was no more banging of forks on glasses that day, and I knew from other weddings I'd been to to expect a lot more than the once we escaped with!

My family don't know that Andrew didn't write the song that played at the end of the wedding ceremony. He tried to explain but he talks so fast and sounded so foreign that probably only I could understand what he was saying. He didn't write the song; he had it commissioned as my wedding present. He was rightly proud of it, as it's very good. But if facts were decided democratically, he'd definitely have written it based on what all the people at that wedding thought.

I didn't mind at all that my dad was a couple of years off in how long we've been married. Maybe he's thinking of someone else's wedding.
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Actually got to lie in bed with Andrew for a bit, both reading before sleep. It's the kind of thing I think is normal because my parents do it, but we never do. It's just so rare that we go to bed at anything like the same time. And it's only recently I've been getting back to having the focus or concentration to read.
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It's just when Andrew's most insecure about his qualities as a partner, when he's been especially sick and miserable and clingy, that he manages to illustrate his unique selling points. Things like the amazingly quick turnaround time between comforting me while I have a tiny breakdown about the house, job-hunting, family, etc, and the time where we're having an argument about ants' word for "elephant shrew" in their scent-language.

Finally I've found something to unseat the fraught topic of color (what color is this thing/how many colors are there) as the worst argument to have with Andrew.

Living up to our reputation for having arguments amusing enough to bystanders that we could sell tickets to them, though, I think it's fair to say that we both enjoyed ourselves. Even when I held my hands to my head, wishing that by so doing I could keep any more words from entering or exiting it, Andrew was laughing at me, and the knowledge that I was at least being entertaining provided some solace at that difficult time.
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I left a comment on [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker's LJ, in reply to someone saying he was baffled that his mother addresses stuff to his wife as Mrs. HisLastName, when she didn't change her name. "It's baffling," he said.

My reply ended up getting so long and involved I figured I might as well put it here.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of my mom's, L, about a person roughly my age (20s-30s) who's just gotten married and not changed her name. L told me that this person was frustrated at people addressing her as Mrs. Husbandsname (or addressing them as a couple as Mr. & Mrs. Husbandsname, with no mention of her names anywhere!). L understood the frustration intellectually but she said in practice it was very difficult for her to not address a married woman as Mrs. Husbandsname; it went against everything she'd been taught about being polite and respectful.
As far as I can tell (though I may be misrepresenting this as it's foreign to me), L and my mom and their generation were led to believe that there are hard and fast rules about what is and what isn't polite, and that these rules apply to everyone. Respect or offense can therefore be implied and inferred solely from manners.‎ 

And so they find it hard to extract the intention from the act. I tried to help L separate her good intention -- to be respectful -- from the thing she'd customarily do to show that respect. It was a big leap for her: clearly until quite recently she had no need for a distinction between a desire to show respect and an action that went along with it. And she could be confident that the respect would universally be understood and appreciated as such because everybody she was likely to interact with knew the same rules she did. But now, suddenly the polite act would not necessarily be taken as it was intended. 

I think it must seem very weird, to have these rules that have served you well most of your sixty-some years on the planet subverted by a subsequent generation who emphasize the importance of context and personal preference. It can look like swapping a bedrock foundation of certainty for a vague, nebulous world where you have to work out everything afresh for each new person you interact with. My mom and her friends are fundamentally nice people; they don't enjoy going against someone's ‎explicit wishes, but the bone-deep indoctrination and decades-long habit of "good manners" is going to cause some distress, some cognitive dissonance, if they defy it, especially if they feel they have to leave their bedrock and move to constantly shifting sands.

This kind of cognitive dissonance is going to happen with any culture-clash, of course, but I think it's especially profound when it's to do with politeness and manners. Because manners exist to keep us from having to think too much about how we interact with people, as the point of them is to offer a pre-ordained way to deal with pretty much anything. They allow us to tell ourselves "well, I don't know why Mrs. Husbandsname was so upset, I was doing my best! I was trying, wasn't I? I only want to be nice!" We can avoid as much responsibility for the effects of our behavior as we like, safe in the knowledge that we can blame the vague authority of manners which, being bigger than any one of us, knows better than we do what's good for us.

So I can't say it baffles me. I don't like it, but I do understand it. And I'm grateful it only took me a year after I got married for my mom and my grandma to stop calling me Mrs. Hickey.‎
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Yesterday we got our first piece of mail to the new house! It's from the solicitor, and when I saw it I did remember her saying something about sending us the final details of everything.

But before I put it down I noticed they're still calling me "Miss." Despite having been corrected on this immediately (and, since it was Andrew doing it, somewhat forcefully). I hadn't noticed since then, it doesn't really matter, but it did disappoint and frustrate me enough that I was surprised by the strength of my reaction.

And it isn't just the usual frustration that I have when people spell my name "Hollie": the can't-be-bothered-to-pay-attention kind. It's that and how stupid titles are in the first place (I'd prefer none, really, but don't put enough time or energy into enforcing this) and how much more stupid it is that mine is supposed to indicate my marital status.

But also, I was surprisingly annoyed at "Miss," because it of course implies that I'm not married, and I didn't like that at all. I guess since I went to such a lot of effort and expense and heartache to get married, I want it acknowledged!

I think this is one of the implications of not changing my name that I don't usually think about. Though if I had changed my name I'd be "Mrs." all the time instead, of course, which is just as stupid and unfair a title but at least wouldn't be inaccurate.
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"I love you so much," Andrew told me, "that when I was napping yesterday I dreamed you'd grown a beard like James Hennigan's but I still loved you."

"I'd never do a thing like that, don't be ridiculous." Nothing against James, a hard-working Lib Dem councillor for Levenshulme, but I don't think it'd suit me.


He rolled over so he was half-lying on me -- "anniversary cuddle," he explained this, whereas I was already wondering about the possibility of anniversary coffee -- and then touched the tip of my nose with his index finger, something he knows I hate. "I poke your nose," he said, solemnly and as if imparting important information. Before I could say or do anything, he stabbed at it a couple more times. "Eight pokes for eight years!"

There was wrestling and giggling (some of it more like maniacal laughter) and I ended up pressing my nose against his where he couldn't get to it, but that just made him kiss me, which I thought was appalling because this'd already turned into How You Think Couples Act From Seeing Them In Films (except for the films that would interpret "eight pokes" differently).

But then Andrew got out of bed and I told him off for doing a big fart just as he was leaving the room, leaving me to suffer the consequences, and normality was restored.
hollymath: (Default)
So [personal profile] andrewducker shared this link called "I didn't love my wife when we got married." I've always been intrigued in how definitions of love and relationships change through people's lives, so I clicked on this, but was disappointed to find it was basically the opposite of how I think: this is someone who thinks that what he's doing now is loving and everything previous was some lesser thing.

I wrote a comment that ended up getting both much too long and much too personal to post there, so I'm putting it here:

I did see a couple of things that disappointed me:

1. The nice things he uses as examples are doing the dishes, making dinner, and childcare. This can only be a big deal, a loving gesture, because he portrays these as things he can choose to help with if he feels like it, and that assumes that until then they're her responsibility. I wouldn't be feeling lovey-dovey toward someone who took for granted that I'd do all that stuff, either!

2. Another only-slightly-less-depressingly ubiquitous perspective he seems to buy into is that the way he feels now is the true and proper feeling and everything previous was through a glass darkly. I know people like this, revisionists of their own history, decrying all artistic or entertainment tastes they no longer espouse, rejecting all previous relationships as being with people who were utterly evil and without merit...they're like Bertie Wooster's friend (I can never keep their names straight) who falls in love with every girl he sees, waxing poetic and swooning until the next woman drifts into his field of vision.

This guy's saying his feelings for his wife now are Real Love, and that they weren't until recently? Obviously he's the best arbiter of his own experience, but I'd have to say in my case that I did love my husband before we got married, and he was telling me he loved me from very early on -- long before I thought he could know what he was talking about, but he's been just as adamant ever since. Yet our relationship has changed enormously in the, what, nearly ten years we've known each other (coming up on eight of which we've been married).

Yes it is different when you're skint, it's different when you're cleaning up after each other. It's different when you start to argue, and it's different when you start to speak in your own little language of allusions and running jokes and sometimes your own words (a lot of the silly conversations between Andrew and me that I transcribe, I have to translate to English from the nameless language of which we two are the only fluent speakers in the world). But I would argue that all of those things are still "love". The word wouldn't mean much to me if it couldn't be flexible, if it didn't encompass multitudes.

I learn all the time how to get along better with Andrew, what constitutes nice things for him and how I can do them... and that's great, but it doesn't negate what I did when I knew him less well. It doesn't mean those things weren't love.

I didn't always love as I do now -- love him or myself or anyone -- but I don't think I could love as I do now without having gone through all those other things I named "love" at the time. Because I really meant them (well, most of them, and the declarations of love I felt pressured into don't have any hold over me now), for better or worse. And if I want to believe that I mean it now when I say "I love you" (which I do!), I owe it to myself to take that past love seriously, even as I cringe to remember some of the people I bestowed it on. (Interestingly, I found that doing love-as-a-verb stuff -- offering emotional and financial support, fixing problems, being sympathetic, doing the real grunt work of a relationship -- was really good for masking a lack of love. It's easy for me to act like I love somebody without examining whether or not I really do, and I think that's an important thing about myself that I couldn't have learned if I haven't been so stupid with my love sometimes.)

So I wouldn't trade my understanding of love for this guy's late-comer, one-dimensional love... even if his love looks so pure compared to mine, which is so chaotic and inexplicable.
hollymath: (Default)
The research, based on a survey of more than 19,000 individuals who married between 2005 and 2012, also found relationships that began online are slightly happier and less likely to split than those that started offline.

As someone who got married between 2005 and 2012 to someone I wouldn't know if not for the internet, I thought this was interesting.

But someone I know got married to someone she gave a blowjob in an alleyway the night they met in a club. So I don't think how you find people is all that important -- and I think this is borne out by how little idea I have any more of how I met most of the people I know, online or off-.

I think the stigma of meeting people online is massively less than it was when I first stared dating Andrew in 2004 (admittedly the international element added dramatic intensity! but I don't think it would have been much less a big deal to end up with someone in another part of the U.S.) and when I did it it was much less than it would've been as many years before that (but that's already taking you back to a time when it was a bit weird or unusual to be on the internet at all. But all that also makes it less important how you met someone.

And I'm not going to read the rest of that article I linked to because it looks really dumb.

However I think meeting online has made me happy and secure in my marriage (I don't know if I'm more happy or more secure than I would've been if I married someone I met some other way, of course, so this is the best I can offer) in a couple of ways.

One of those is because I didn't just meet Andrew online but on LJ. I was miserable, lonely and agoraphobic, thus writing a lot of grim depressing rubbish and feeling very unlovable. This meant a couple of things: I really really appreciated him being nice to me, and I was really impressed because I thought anyone who could put up with me when I was like that would probably think everything else is an improvement. (I have never been one to try to be impressive around someone I've just started dating; I figure it's best to skip to the end.)

I was wrong about the latter -- turns out things got much worse before they even started to get better -- but the point still stands; he's still not bored with me. Basically, this is what can happen, it's what happened to me then (and since) and it's something I really like. I don't think this is a good way to live, mind; I think I give my heart away pretty easily and I'm lucky that hasn't gone worse than it has. I wouldn't recommend it, but I think I am stuck with it.

The other thing that's made this online thing work out well for me is that online people are likely to be really far away. Ending up with somebody you met on an online dating site who lives in your own city (or whatever's a trivial distance away, for you) is unlikely to give any particular traits to your relationship, but if they're in another country or something, there's a nightmare of logistical, financial and legal barriers you have to navigate. And I had to think about these things when I was of tender years and lovestruck and trying to please mutually contradictory groups of people (Andrew and my parents, and I thought I was on Andrew's side, but it seemed a real possibility to me that this was just because I talked to him more often about more things).

Having an existential crisis about something that was going to change the trajectory of my life is, again, not something I'd recommend but it worked really well for me because it was clear early on that we'd have to either break up or get married, and having to put all the thought and self-examination and emotional effort into figuring out what I I wanted to do means that pretty much everything that's happened in our relationship since we got married has been able to rest on a base of I've had to be very sure that I want to be here and I am. And of course it isn't a choice made only once and for all, but starting from that bedrock -- and knowing that kind of intense scrutiny is something I can do* whenever I need to revisit it -- has helped me a lot.

It was horrible and felt really unfair at the time, to have to think so early on in a relationship about whether I could commit to it to the degree required to continue with it. But now that I've done it, I'm still benefiting from it. I am not grateful enough to Past Me for putting in all that work, or for choosing right. I still don't know how she did it.

* Indeed it's a really good contrast to my first relationship, which was with someone who hadn't had a girlfriend in like four years, and I'd never so much as held someone's hand in earnest until that point, and it felt like this was the main reason we were together: we'd just fallen into it. I had vivid pictures in my head of the nice, boring life I could fall into with this guy, with the nice boring house and the nice boring kids and nothing would ever go wrong but nothing would ever really feel right either.

I found out soon after that he'd been starting to think about asking me to marry him (just proving how right I was to end a relationship that was perceived in such vastly different ways by the two people in it). It'd have been at a Twins game; I'd have been one of those girls seeing my name on the Jumbotron, followed by my bewildered face. The friend who'd gotten this information out of him was sympathetic. We dissected the situation, trying to figure out what was best to do. "You'd have to say yes," she said. "And then give him a hug and say 'We have to talk about this.'" Though neither of us could articulate this at the time, I think we both thought (and I certainly do now) that this is an uncomfortably coercive way for a guy to get the answer he wants out of a girl, as she has the pressure of all those people and societal expectations pushing for one answer. Even if I had previously wanted to marry somebody, a stunt like that would make me question it, just because of the narrative imperative.
hollymath: (Default)
Andrew, king of the non sequitur, said to me this morning "With my short attention span, you'd have thought by now I'd have gotten bored with being married to you! But I haven't!"

And he just chased me all the way to the bus stop to tell me a ridiculous joke before [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours, who I'm meeting for lunch, could beat him to it.
hollymath: (Default)
I always like it when I catch "Poetry Please" now, just because it reminds me of the Saturday night we spent in York for our anniversary. Getting back to the B&B after the "ghost walk," chilly and glad to be in the cozy warm room on a January night, I put on Radio 4, as I reflexively do, while we were settling down for bed.

It was at the time one of those things where I just thought "oh, this was quite nice," but the intervening time has put a sheen on it: how lovely it was to see the trains and the Viking museum; to eat in the restaurant so Italian even the no-smoking signs were in Italian; to sit in the pub where the ghost walk started, tweeting that it was a good Sam Smith's pub but with no dark mild, leading [personal profile] sfred to rightly ask how it can be good in that case; the gently eerie but mostly historically informative ghost stories we heard as the snow fell softly.
hollymath: (me)
1. Who eats more? My instinct is to say Andrew does, but he's happy to eat one enormous meal in a day, and probably some sweets. I am more of a forager. I need variety; he needs quantity.

2. Who said "I love you" first? Andrew must have. He was sure about this relationship way before I was. But then again, it was much more straightforward for him (not easy, straightforward).

3. Who is the morning person? Me. Andrew's the "stay up until morning" person.

4. Who sings better? Possibly me? There's not much in it; it's not a strength for either of us.

5. Who's older? He is three years older.

6. Who's brainier? Andrew.

7. Whose temper is worse? Again I'm tempted to say Andrew but it's hard for me to be objective.

8. Who does the laundry? I do a lot of it. I often nag him to help me hang stuff up/put stuff away, because I hate doing that.

9. Who does the dishes? I do a lot. He always leaves me the pans to scrub, and the wooden spoon and the cheese grater, and anything he hasn't noticed needs washing, which can be a lot!

10. Who sleeps on which side of the bed? I don't understand how this is measured: is it as you look at the bed from standing up, or when you're lying down in it? Anyway, I'm on my side, he's on his, and I'm the big spoon (to start with; I end up with a titchy little corner of the bed by morning).

11. Whose feet are bigger? Andrew's always telling me my feet are tiny. Sometimes freakishly so.

12. Whose hair is longer? Some of mine. He gets a No.4 all over, but only a couple of times a year; I like the sides about No.2 but usually leave the top longer.

13. Who's better with the computer? To say Andrew's better at computer stuff than me is like saying airplanes fly better than chickens do.

14. Do you have pets? No, but Andrew gets broody when he sees dogs (unless they're small yappy-type dogs or mean dogs; a dog he likes he says has a "good face"). When we live somewhere big enough for what he considers a reasonable size dog, we'll have one.

15. Who pays the bills? Andrew. Well now I'm contributing some money to the joint bank account, but he still actually makes the payments because he can work online banking; I always forget the passwords and get locked out.

16. Who cooks dinner? We eat different things so usually acquire them ourselves; I usually cook, he microwaves or gets takeaway or eats out.

17. Who drives when you are together? We're both unable to drive (me due to blindness, him due to dyspraxia).

18. Who pays when you go out to dinner? Our finances have always been shared.

19. Who's the most stubborn? I think Andrew is. Maybe he would say I am.

20. Who is the first one to admit when they're wrong? Andrew is much better at this than me.

21. Whose family do you see more? His.

22. Who named your pet? I imagine he will

23. Who kissed who first? I dunno; I think we just kissed. But if not, it would have been Andrew kissing me.

24. Who asked who out? "Asking out" isn't quite the terminology for transatlantic relationships, but he definitely initiated it all.

25. What did you do on your first date? Again, we didn't really do dates; we were either 4,000 miles apart or in each others pockets.

26. Who's more sensitive? I think we both are, in different ways.

27. Who's taller? Andrew.

28. Who has more friends? I have more local friends; he has more online friends.

29. Who has more siblings? He does.

30. Who wears the trousers in the relationship? I think he defers to me way too much; I don't like making all the decisions. But then, it wasn't my idea to buy a sodding guitar today!


Sep. 29th, 2012 01:01 am
hollymath: (window)
I've always liked going to sleep while the lights are still on, while music plays or conversation murmurs away, not needing my attention but as soothing as the sounds of waves breaking or wind howling through trees when I know my loved ones are safe and warm.

I remember taking reluctant naps, ignoring the TV blaring, or falling asleep late Christmas Eve while my parents and grandparents played cards, comforted somehow in the knowledge that the world was going on without me.

Now I'm used to Andrew's keyboard clattering as he finally gets around to the blog post he's been not-writing all day, Beach Boys or Monkees or Big Finish audios playing, lights on everywhere on the nights he doesn't notice any of them and doesn't think to turn them off. The microwave dings as he makes cocoa, the house fills with the stink of vinegar if he has fish or chips.

Life goes on, and it's very cozy, and I'm a little sad that the house now depends on me to fill it, and will be cold and dark until I jolly it along again tomorrow morning.
hollymath: (gorilla)
How wonderful and terrible, to have someone there to rest your head against when you are crying so much that even peeing seems hard work.

To have someone there, even in this supposedly-private time, to have someone so thoroughly a part of your life that there seems no line where one ends and the other begins....

Usually I find this distasteful.

He talks about all the past and all the future, and how I am not alone in it because we are entangled together like fibers in a rope, like quantum entities that, the physicists tell me, once in contact are forever after connected. Somehow.

Usually I find this stifling, or terrifying, his certain proclamations about always and forever. I’ve always been honest about it; it’s nothing to do with him, I’m just not a “forever” kind of girl.

I clench a tear-sodden tissue in my fist and think This is what it is to be married.

For once I don’t resent the heavy machinery because right now I see what it is good for. It is great and terrible, huge and sturdy, in all the good and bad ways.
hollymath: (us)
Once there was a hobbit.

And there still is. He still has hairy feet and still has the girl.

He's been working so hard. They both have, but he is bigger and the girl was so sick and so sad when she met him that she's still catching up on her work. He has liked the idea of being big and strong enough to take care of her, and she has liked the idea of being little and quick enough to notice the things he doesn't even know need taking care of.

Their older wiser hobbit friends have told them all this work will be worth it some day. They sit in hobbit-holes of vast luxury, like matching furniture or anything up to eighteen meals a day. They tell these younger two that they know how hard life is and to keep at it because they know a day will come where it no longer feels like the walls are pressing in on you like the garbage mashers on the detention level. And on that day you can run around your new bigger world for the sheer joy of its increased possibilities and decreased tensions.

They have worked and worked and slept and worked and fretted and worked and laughed and hugged and worked. They have thought, and told each other, that the ugliness was getting to be too much, the constant peril looming everywhere was too hard to face up to, the rests were too few and too far between. They thought and told each other that they couldn't go on.

And they kept going on anyway. Because there was nothing else to do.

The girl started to forget about the old wise hobbits with the old wise advice. She didn't need that kind of hope any more, she had habit. She didn't have to think about habit.

But then... Now, actually. Just yesterday. But now, when she least expected it, her phone beeped and trilled and defied her attempts to ignore it. When she finally answered it, her beloved hobbit told her that he had bought a banjo. "And do you know why I've done that?" he asked her. She did not. He told her that he signed a contract for his new job and was now making twice as much money as he had been. He was now making as much as they both had together, working full-tilt boogie, up to this point.

Ever since then, they've been running around and around their new, bigger, brighter world. They are delirious with possibility. Some might say that nothing much has happened, but these two have never known what it was like not to be weighed down by their work and worry.

He bought a banjo to celebrate. Hobbits are peculiar.


hollymath: (Default)

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