After last night.

6 Mar
I was listening to an episode of This American Life recently, and the topic of conversation between the guest and host, Ira Glass, turned to marriage.
The guest said that he and his wife/partner are not married in the traditional sense; rather, they commit themselves to each other for set periods of five years and then, at the end of that period, they decide whether to commit themselves to each other again, or to walk away.
The guest thought that this arrangement was incredibly romantic; that it honored the idea of choice, and the fact that each person made the repeated choice to stay in the relationship was the ultimate expression of love.
Ira said that he quite disagreed; that he, married in the traditional sense, took great comfort in the vows of marriage, in the promise of forever that they held. It gave him comfort to know that he and his wife can disagree and have very off-days, but they both know at the end of it that they are committed to the relationship, that they are in it forever.
My story isn’t unique, but I think I still haven’t dealt with it in its entirety, and I hadn’t realized how angry I still was until last night.
My parents got divorced after being married somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 years. They are both extremely religious; my dad teaches at a Presbyterian college, my mom attended seminary and worked for years with the church. They both promised me, repeatedly as I grew up, that they would never get divorced.
And, they did.
My mom got remarried first, to a man very active in the Mormon church. He had been married before as well, and they both took dating each other, blending families, and considering how religion would affect their marriage, very seriously. The vows were hugely important to them. They got divorced within three years. It was devastating to me how quickly it all fell apart.
My dad recently got remarried, extremely quickly and without warning, and jumped into a new family.
I can’t blindly/simply trust in the vows of marriage anymore.
But I do have high hopes for them, I do believe in them, I do plan on marrying A and staying with him forever.
I do definitely hope for and believe in the long commitment that Ira talked about above. And I do believe that the act of making our vows at our wedding strengthens the foundation for a long love like that, and is an important and definite commitment to a life like that.
A and I also feel like we’ve already built and already trust in that foundation; that we are already fully committed to each other.
I don’t think that makes the vows any less important.
I am really excited about taking those vows, about formally binding ourselves together.
I believe that we also want to have a very Godly marriage, but the ways in which we’ve seen this publicly expressed sometimes seem small.
I feel this way:
In one of his novels, J.D. Salinger writes, “…He was a nice man, and he kept in beautiful touch with his God, and all that — but that’s exactly the point. He had to keep in touch. Jesus realized there is no separation from God.”
And in one of his poems, Hafiz writes: “At / some point / your relationship / With God / will / become like this: / Next time you meet Him in the forest / Or on a crowded city street / There won’t be anyone / “Leaving.” / That is, / God will climb into / your pocket. / You will simply just take / Yourself / Along!”
I feel that God is a part of everything, is everywhere. An excerpt we read last night seemed, to me, to espouse an act of turning to a God who was separate and had left, and asking Him to come back and help. The whole thing took on a very diminutive and singsong attitude towards God.
There is a story that A and I have heard frequently, and talk about frequently.
A man is stranded on the roof of a house, and flood waters are swelling up around him.
Another man in a canoe paddles by, and asks if he can carry the stranded man to safety. The stranded man says back, “No, its ok, God will come and rescue me.”
A helicopter flys overhead, and yells down to the man, asking if they can lift him to safety. The stranded man says, “No, its ok, God will come and rescue me.”
A third man on a larger boat comes by, and asks if he can take the stranded man to shore. The stranded man refuses, says, “God will come and rescue me.”
The man drowns. In heaven, he asks God, why didn’t you come save me?
God laughs, and says that He tried to send three different people to try and save him, but the man had refused them all.
I feel like a lot of couples who loudly proclaim that they are turning to God to save their marriage have already missed the three boats/helicopters.
I think God, in life and also in marriage, is in the quiet moments in between.
I am overwhelmed by the idea of marriage, the idea that someone could choose to be with me for the rest of their lives! It is amazing!
And surely the grace and love that that requires comes from God.
In Life of Pi, Yann Martel writes, “If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
It is really hard to believe in the vows of marriage. But I do believe in them, and hope for them, and will make them wholeheartedly to A, and know that he will make them wholeheartedly to me.

always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.

29 Nov

I’ve been thinking about wedding readings! This is a list of (almost all of) the readings I’ve come across so far that I’ve liked.

But I’m not sure which will sound good and true and meaningful while being read aloud. Here are some thoughts:




by, Rilke

Understand, I’ll slip quietly

away from the noisy crowd

when I see the pale

stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.


I’ll pursue solitary pathways

through the pale twilit meadows,

with only this dream:

You come too.


(excerpt from) Compliment,

by Rives

But I’m not insisting you’re some kind of goddess,
(I know you’re suspicious of unspecific love poems).
You’re more like a sunflower,
growing in the courtyard of an old folks home–
you mean things to people on a daily basis,
and this petty poem won’t explain
just how “my favorite” your face is

(full version here).


from I LIKE YOU,

by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

And I like you because when I am feeling sad, you don’t always cheer me up right away. Sometimes it is better to be sad.
You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute.
You want to think about things.
It takes time.

I like you because if I am mad at you, then you are mad at me too.
It’s awful when the other person isn’t. Phooey.
They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose.

I like you because if I think I am going to throw up, then you are really sorry.
You don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that.
You say, “maybe it was something you ate.”
You say, “same thing happened to me one time.”
And the same thing did.

If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one.
If I find four, I give you two.
If we only find three, we keep on looking.

Sometimes we have good luck and sometimes we don’t.

If I break my arm and if you break your arm too, then it is fun to have a broken arm.
I tell you about mine; you tell me about yours.
We are both sorry.
We write our names and draw pictures.
We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too.


by, Hafiz

“Our union is like this:

You feel cold so I reach for a blanket to cover
our shivering feet.

A hunger comes into your body
so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.

You asked for a few words of comfort and guidance and
I quickly kneel by your side offering you
a whole book as a

You ache with loneliness one night so much
you weep, and I say

here is a rope, tie it around me,
Hafiz will be your
companion for


from Still Life With Woodpecker    

by, Tom Robbins

Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.


I am in love, hence free to live    

by, Vera Pavlova

I am in love, hence free to live
by heart, to ad lib as I caress.
A soul is light when full,
heavy when vacuous.
My soul is light. She is not afraid
to dance the agony alone,
for I was born wearing your shirt,
will come from the dead with that shirt on.


from A Farewell to Arms

by, Hemingway

We felt like we had come home, felt no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too, so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.


from The Irrational Season

by, Madeleine L’Engle

“Ultimately there comes a time when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created. To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling.”


from Sonnet 17

by, Pablo Neruda

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

in which there is no I or you

so close that your hand upon my chest is my hand

so close that when you fall asleep my eyes close.


A Romance

by, Stephen Dunn

He called eel grass
what she called seaweed.
He insulated their house with it.
She was interested in
the transparency of her skin.
He walled the bathroom
with barn-siding, he built the couch
with wood he had chopped.
She, a friend once said,
was a calligrapher of the dark.
He dug a root cellar
to store vegetables. He built a shack
for his ducks. Once, while asleep,
he said “the half-shut eye of the moon.”
She spoke about the possible
precision of doubt.
He knew when the wind changed
what weather it would bring.

She baked bread, made jam
from sugar berries, kept a notebook
with what she called
little collections of her breath.
He said the angle the nail goes in
is crucial.
She fed the ducks, called them
her sentient beings.
She wondered how one becomes
a casualty of desire.
He said a tin roof in summer
sends back the sun’s heat.
She made wine from dandelions.
She once wrote in her notebook
“the ordinary loveliness of this world.”
He built a bookcase
for her books.
They took long walks.


from The Velveteen Rabbit

by, Margery Williams

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”


from Love in the Time of Cholera

by, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Together they had overcome the daily incomprehension, the instantaneous hatred, the reciprocal nastiness, and fabulous flashes of glory in the conjugal conspiracy. It was time when they both loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other moral trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore.”


I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone

by, Richard Brautigan

I was trying to describe you to someone a few days ago. You don’t look like any girl I’ve ever seen before.

I couldn’t say “Well she looks just like Jane Fonda, except that she’s got red hair, and her mouth is different and of course, she’s not a movie star…”

I couldn’t say that because you don’t look like Jane Fonda at all.

I finally ended up describing you as a movie I saw when I was a child in Tacoma Washington. I guess I saw it in 1941 or 42, somewhere in there. I think I was seven, or eight, or six.

It was a movie about rural electrification, a perfect 1930’s New Deal morality kind of movie to show kids. The movie was about farmers living in the country without electricity. They had to use lanterns to see by at night, for sewing and reading, and they didn’t have any appliances like toasters or washing machines, and they couldn’t listen to the radio. They built a dam with big electric generators and they put poles across the countryside and strung wire over fields and pastures.

There was an incredible heroic dimension that came from the simple putting up of poles for the wires to travel along. They looked ancient and modern at the same time.

Then the movie showed electricity like a young Greek god, coming to the farmer to take away forever the dark ways of his life. Suddenly, religiously, with the throwing of a switch, the farmer had electric lights to see by when he milked his cows in the early black winter mornings. The farmer’s family got to listen to the radio and have a toaster and lots of bright lights to sew dresses and read the newspaper by.

It was really a fantastic movie and excited me like listening to the Star Spangled Banner, or seeing photographs of President Roosevelt, or hearing him on the radio “… the President of the United States… ”

I wanted electricity to go everywhere in the world. I wanted all the farmers in the world to be able to listen to President Roosevelt on the radio….

And that’s how you look to me.


from One Hundred Years of Solitude

by, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

…”they enjoyed the miracle of loving each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs.”


How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog

by, Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Somethimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!

Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block
and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions
at once, or wind itself around and around you
until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.


also, I can’t resist. The full text of “Compliment” from above:

I remember the first time
you named me “Good morning.”

And how, the night before,
you considered my ceiling,
where the passing cars outside
the passing cars outside
the passing cars outside
cast their shadows and liquid lights
through the slats of my blinds.

You said: “Hey Romeo–
your CD player is skipping again…
but your ceiling’s like fireworks for poor folks!”

And I liked that.

I like the tall pauses you take
when you tell your nephews knock-knock jokes.
And I like your theory
that men and women’s shirts button on opposite sides
so that couples can get dressed facing each other
after making love.

You seem to season your seasons,
your days, your time
with rhyme, not reason,
I’ve seen you. Daily. Nightly.
I’ve watched you housebreak a puppy
just by asking politely.

And your remedy for insomnia?
Is to pile every pillow and blanket into the tub
and you nap there like you’re taking
a patchwork bath,
and I said once: “Oh–I wish I had a PICTURE!”
and you said: “Oh–I wish you and I had HOT SEX,
and then ELVES showed up at our doorstep,
with a PIZZA, to tell us JESUS just built a TREEHOUSE
in the backyard, and he’d like to meet us both,

You’re weird,
with a capital “WE.”
And I’m grateful, I marvel,
you’ve helped me hammer
some of my worst manners into manhood,
but I still admit–I like the way your shorts fit,
and how, overall, you’d call me “smart,”
even though sometimes
I do really stupid shit.

And I like how you giggle with your lips closed
like you’ve got a secret little moon in your mouth.

But I’m not insisting you’re some kind of goddess,
(I know you’re suspicious of unspecific love poems).
You’re more like a sunflower,
growing in the courtyard of an old folks home–
you mean things to people on a daily basis,
and this petty poem won’t explain
just how “my favorite” your face is,
(but I wish I’d been your bathroom mirror
the day they took off your braces).

You’re so pretty.

You’re like a vivid video game
and I’m the idiot kid
just trying to get to your next level–
I like your right-shoulder angel,
Hell, I like your left-shoulder devil.
I admire the lively deeds you do.
So if you come through a doorway again,
in a thrift store poncho,
or a drop-dead evening gown,
twirling and asking:
“Well, whaddya think?”
I’m gonna tell you:

“Shit howdy, Sunshine,
sit your fine self down!
If you’re looking for a compliment–

I think you’ve come
to the right place.”


27 Nov

“There are two kinds of people in this world. The people who think we are in famine, and the people who think we have plenty. Be one of the people who thinks there is plenty. Plenty of friends to have, plenty of love to give, plenty of opportunities for everyone. Don’t be the person who hoards friends or hates to see others succeed because it means there’s one less chance for them.”

(I found this quote on a blog that I read occasionally…I was going to include a link to her here, but it looks like she’s taken down the post in which she includes this advice, from her father. I really love it, though, because I think it is something wonderful, and also a mindset which is easy to lose quickly.)


31 Oct

A’s off fighting the other woman in his life this week, Sandy!

Hurricane Sandy.

He’s fighting her from a Situation Room in Maryland.

He’s doing awesome important things, but, I miss him.

Life, 11th October 2012

11 Oct


Hi friends!

Sometimes when A and I are in different rooms at night, I take silly photos of myself to later include in letters to him.

Just peeking to say hello. 🙂


The one in which Hannah starts explaining.

7 Sep

There are two things that I think are beautiful, are truth, are what I would like to spend my life thinking about.

And they are: theatre, and religion.

I have never felt so at home as I do inside of an empty theatre, and I rarely feel as excited and infinite as I do after talking about, I mean really delving into, religious beliefs and ideas.

I don’t talk about it much because I don’t see how I can pursue either of these arenas professionally, but.

They’re still inside of me, rattling around and making me smile.

A man who I super love and respect (ok, its A, I can’t hide anything!) says that when you find something that you think is really beautiful that you really love like that, it means you’ve found your life’s work.

I don’t have a concise personal theology that I can put easily into words, but I do have a lot of thoughts.


“A man breaking his journey between one place and another at a third place of no name, character, population or significance, sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for mystical encounters of various kinds, or to be less extreme, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy; until–“My God,” says a second man, “I must be dreaming, I thought I saw a unicorn.” At which point, a dimension is added that makes the experience as alarming as it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no further dimension but only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are the thinner it gets and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality, the name we give to the common experience… “Look, look!” recites the crowd. “A horse with an arrow in its forehead! It must have been mistaken for a deer.”
― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead


“An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.”
– Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

(You see, because it is all infinite! Huge! To deny the questions, the doubt — to have conceit enough to believe we understand it all —  is to deny that God is divine.)


“Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself.”
― Miguel de Unamuno


But, I also agree that:

“We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi


“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi


From the documentary “A Life Apart: Hasidism in America”:  “So the Bobover Rebbe told me, he said these words: ‘The world is big, go out…‘”


“I was six when I saw everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all that,” Teddy said. “It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was only a very tiny child then, and she drank her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.”
-J.D. Salinger, “Teddy”

“Well I found God in a soft woman’s hair
A long days work and a good sittin’ chair
The ups and downs of the treble clef lines
And five miles ago on an interstate sign….”
-the Avett Brothers, “Me and God”

The trouble is,’ Teddy said, ‘most people don’t want to see things the way they are. They don’t even want to stop getting born and dying all the time, instead of stopping and staying with God, where it’s really nice.’ He reflected. ‘I never saw such a bunch of apple-eaters,’ he said. He shook his head.”
― J.D. Salinger, Nine Stories

“Jesus knew — knew — that we’re carrying the Kingdom of Heaven around with us, inside, where we’re all too goddam stupid and sentimental and unimaginative to look? You have to be a son of God to know that kind of stuff.”
-J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

“— but, my God, who besides Jesus really knew which end was up? Nobody. Not Moses. Don’t tell me Moses. He was a nice man, and he kept in beautiful touch with his God, and all that — but that’s exactly the point. He had to keep in touch. Jesus realized there is no separation from God.”
-J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

“At/ some point / your relationship / With God / will / become like this: / Next time you meet Him in the forest / Or on a crowded city street / There won’t be anymore / “Leaving.” / That is, / God will climb into / your pocket. / You will simply just take / Yourself / Along!”

“Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed, hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see the God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God are hat wearing Muslims.”
-Yann Martel, “Life of Pi”

“I/ Have/ Learned/ So much from God/ That I can no longer/ Call/ Myself/ A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, / a Buddhist, a Jew. / The Truth has shared so much of Itself / with me / That I can no longer call myself / A man, a woman, an angel, / Or even a pure/ Soul. / Love has / Befriended Hafiz so completely/ It has turned to ash/  And freed/ Me / Of every concept and image/ my mind has ever known.”

“Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next.”
-J.D. Salinger, “Seymour: An Introduction”

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
― C.S. Lewis

“But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

The one in which Hannah starts delving into the abyss.

7 Sep

Eleven thoughts after our first premarital counseling session.

1. I am old and I am sad.

I am 24.

Tomorrow I will start taking the blue and white pills again.

2. I am getting married to the most wonderful man I have ever met.

He is love.

I am love.

3. Everyone in my family is broken.

We were born of brokenness and lived in brokenness.

Yet, I really do love who I am today.

4. I was born during a summer thunderstorm.

My dad took us to church every Sunday, no exceptions. Every Wednesday night, too.

5. When Dad felt like splurging on us

He piled us into a white van and took us to McDonalds.

There was never much money.

6. Right before Mom and He got divorced

I remember standing in the upstairs hallway

before school

asking for lunch money

and Dad cried, angrily wept, and turned his wallet upside down over my hands.

“I’ve given you guys everything.”

he yelled.

7. He and my Mom split up because they never really knew each other.

Everything was covered in the glorious light of God,

but it was fake light, nothing was true.

8. My mom got really sick when I was five and a half.

She laid in bed for two years.

I became the third adult in the family; I helped take care of everything.

9. In our house, there was little honesty.

But once Mom punched a hole in the bathroom wall.

10. One of my bedroom windows opened up overlooking a section of roof.

I wanted to climb out onto it, I wanted to be free.

But everyone in my family was broken; it was my job to fix them.

11. There are a lot of happy memories too, though.

They gave me everything, and they loved me and still love me, I mean really love me.

I am truly lucky, and I truly respect them, and I love them, deeply.