Meet the New Member of our Family

With terminal thanks to the queen of perfect gifts, somebonnie, we now have a pug. Well, a pug on the fridge.

The jury is still out on names. Mr. Bubbles? Mr. Puddles? Billingsley(after my childhood librarian)? Pug-Man? Pugsley? Mr. Pugs-a-lot? Pugalicious? We saw a REAL (non-magnetized) pug puppy the other night who was probably just a couple of months old. He was like a jumping bean on the end of his leash when his ultra-cool, heavily tattooed Davis Square owner got out his collapsible bowl and filled it with water. Très cute.


Really, really, really looking forward to Fall.

I am lousy at dealing with the heat. I like summer as much as the next guy, but I just hated being in our apartment this weekend; we were both so hot we were the equivalent of sick. I lay around all the time, which left me not really sleeping at night. I feel like I was robbed of a good weekend! Too bad it's not practical to have central air for just a couple days.

In the everyone's-doing-it department: I finished The Golden Compass at 1 am this morning in a fit of not sleeping, and started The Subtle Knife today at lunch. As I sat in my office, I noticed the daughter of one of my co-workers reading, and got a funny, distinct feeling about her book, even though she was twenty feet away. I looked closely. She was reading The Golden Compass. She's the first actual, honest-to-god Young Adult I've seen reading this YA book, but I have no doubt they are everywhere. In my world, more and more adults seem to be reading this trilogy, and now maybe children, too. This can only be good.

Meanwhile, when I am not reading fantasy novels for preteens, I am engaged in a heavy battle of the gyms. It looks like Healthworks is about to win, with me returning this morning to my beloved former gym, where all the women are happy and well-adjusted. But other, trashier gyms are so much closer to home, and cheaper at that! I'm just such a baby--it's not that I MUST have smoked glass and a naked hot tub, but more that I can't have chiseled women drooling at themselves in the mirror while bulky, testosteroned men look me up and down, pumping iron. In Watertown, gyms epitomize a blatant class divide. There's a small, cheap gym behind us that features a tanning salon (to me, the mark of a less-than-pleasant environment), and a lavish, expensive gym where all the men carry tennis rackets and resemble my horrible former millionaire boss (the mark of a VERY bad envionment!). I'll probably go with the middle-class gym, with no tanning salon, and no pool either. Just that hot tub. Sure makes me wish Porter Square was actually convenient for me!

It's wrenching to be giving up my wonderful sunrise bikerides with my man. But my body hurts when I bike right now; I just need a different kind of exercise. Like a PowerAbs class, I guess.

Ye Olde Concorde
Yesterday, before it got too hot, we sat on the end of a pier facing Old North Bridge with our feet in the Concord River and read the Sunday Times. It was so nice. Ducks came around us, and I spoke to them, and they swam sweetly in little circles, shaking their tails. But then one duck, a spiteful duck, nipped me on my toe out of anger. I suspect she didn't like that I had my shoes off and my feet over the pier. She was very territorial. Those ducks like to harrass the people who canoe under the Old North Bridge. After a while, a fife-and-drum band came along, and we felt it was time to leave.


City with a Beating Steel Heart

I finally posted my pictures of the Frank Gehry soundstage at Millenium Park in Chicago! Go check it out in triptych. And while you're there, visit the giant reflecting bean, and fountains of glass, light, and faces, Vol I and Vol II.


A Biased Opinion That Is Nevertheless Perfectly Accurate

I'm blogging from Sherman Cafe in Union Square, where all the chocolate chip cookies are Callebaut, all the music is happy and at the perfect volume, all the cappucino is delectable and way too cheap, and all the wireless is free. And the crowd is great. One of my fellow coffee-sippers went to elementary school with me (400 miles away), and a woman with a pug just came in. A pug! Here in Sherman! And free wireless! What more could you want? I'd like to raise my cup of decaf cap to Karyn and Ben, but they're not here right now, bless 'em.


Take Nothing for Granted

From Garrison Keillor's Daily Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was declared in effect. After the Congress passed the amendment, it had to be ratified by a majority of state legislatures. The state that tipped the balance was Tennessee and the man who cast the deciding vote was the twenty-four year old representative Harry Burn, the youngest man in the state legislature that year. Before the vote, he happened to read his mail, and one of the letters he received was from his mother. It said, "I have been watching to see how you stood but have noticed nothing yet .... Don't forget to be a good boy and...vote for suffrage."

At the house, supporters of suffrage sat in the balcony wearing yellow roses. On the house floor, those who opposed suffrage wore red roses. When Burn entered the room, he wore a red rose and the anti-suffrage camp thought they had his vote. But when he was called on to say aye or nay for the ratification of the 19th amendment, he said, "Aye," and the amendment was ratified by a vote of 49 to 47. A witness there that day said, "The women took off their yellow roses and flung them over the balcony, and yellow roses just rained down."
Is it Sept. 24 yet?

From today's Page Six:

John Waters proudly alerted Page Six to a bad review of his new movie, "A Dirty Shame," by the Catholic News Service, which rated the flick "O — morally offensive." The review cited "almost non-stop rough, crude and profane language, full frontal nudity, sexual imagery, obscene gestures, scatological humor, casual portrayal and descriptions of deviant sexual practices, a glorification of freewheeling sex and some sacrilegious imagery." Crowed Waters, "I don't know if I can get a better review than that!" The comedic campfest about sex addicts starring Johnny Knoxville, Tracy Ullman, Chris Isaak and Selma Blair opens Sept. 24.


The Golden Compass

Thanks to Allana, I am completely enmeshed in book 1 of His Dark Materials, an entrancing trilogy by Philip Pullman that reminds me a bit of the astounding novels by Susan Cooper. It's so entrancing, in fact, that once I start in on a chapter, it's hard to stop reading for any reason, like, say, sleeping or eating. I spent my lunch hour reading outside today, so now it's working that is the challenge.

The story is fantastical, so here I am at work, all "Oh, but I wish I was back with Lyra as she races North with her armored bear!"
Steel Mirror

While in the Midwest, we played in Chicago's fabulous Millenium Park:

On those glass-brick fountains are animated images of hundreds of Chicagoans, carefully selected to accurately reflect the diverse ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of Chicago. Water floods off them, and everyone plays in the streams. The entire park is an amazing testament to people in cities, and what's great about the human elements of urban landscapes. Not pictured is Frank Gehry's phenomenal soundstage, which reminded me of a massive insect made of wood and steel.

Down south a couple days later, we skipped around the St. Louis arch at sunset:


Visiting Sikeston

It turns out that I am much more tolerant on the East Coast than in the Midwest. Ignoring sheer ignorance, racism and false entitlement is oddly easier here. I'm not saying the East Coast doesn't have its share of stereotyping and discrimination, but it's unparalleled by the attitudes in the Midwest, where discrimination and a stunning lack of critical thinking seems to be culturally enforced. Especially from my own grandmother, sadly, who has some stubbornly uninformed ideas about people who are Jewish or currently living on the African continent. I corrected her, almost certainly to no avail, so she she later told me that "what's good about Japanese families is that they RESPECT the opinions of their ELDERS." There's something deeply funny about that, except it's hard to laugh, because she votes.

Missouri can be pretty, but in the southern reaches, with an endless parade of Crisco-laden buffets, lack of anyone doing any physical exercise at all (like walking), and the fear-driven stereotypes to which everyone clings so desperately, it really is a different world. It's a world where they pre-emptively ban gay marriage, just for the hell of it. Not pleasant. If it weren't for St. Louis and the Ozarks, and I would say that there's nothing good about Missouri. Unfortunately, so much of my childhood is knotted up with the wide banks of the Mississippi river, the cracked asphalt of St. Louis's trailer courts, the warm indoor pools of the state's hotels and even the endless cotton fields and hazy hot blue sky of Sikeston, MO, that I could never disregard it as a place altogether. In case I'm ever tempted to, there are the graveyards full of my dead relatives, and that's hard to ignore, too. I come from there, the land of lard and laziness. That's my people.


In Brief

The Washington Post this month published an interviewey article on Jessica Cutler, who was fired because of her blog. (Whenever anyone is fired because of their blog, all bloggers take notice.) The article examines an old scandal, but she's news again thanks to her fat new book deal. Anyway, Cutler penned Washingtonienne, a blog about her sex life. Which was pretty active, actually: it involved six men, some of them in impressive government posts. She referred to them by their initials, which were promptly decoded by bloggers across the world.

I found, just for you, the archives of her deleted blog. You're welcome. Rated R for graphic content: Washingtonienne (to begin, you MUST scroll ALL the way down to the bottom, which took me about twelve hours to figure out.)

Mostly what's interesting about Jessica's blog is that it brings to light a certain culture in Washington. Her men gave her money, but she never asked for it. She earned only $25k from her job on Capitol Hill. She wrote a blog meant to be read by her three friends (which she only had for 3 weeks before she was discovered by Wonkette). The question is: are young women working in politics frequently paid by older male sex partners who are big political honchos? And if not, how can they afford to live? And, if so, isn't that a weird, culturally-encouraged power dynamic?

One sharp blogger mentioned Chandra Levy's apartment, which at the time of her affair with Gary Condit was $1,500 a month. She, too, was a Staff Assistant (or "Staff Ass" according to the men of Capitol Hill). How did she afford an expensive apartment? Maybe it was her parents, as the blogger suggested, or maybe it was Condit's money. Then there's Monica Lewinsky. She never said anything about being taken advantage of by Clinton. Actually, Monica harbored honestly romantic feelings toward him. But she also treated that affair as somewhat commonplace. So does Cutler, wondering why anyone even cared about her blog: "I'm a nobody, and everyone in the blog is a nobody." Based on all this, I suspect that it's normal to for young women to get paid for casual sex in Washington. And that's a kinda weird outcrop of democracy. Who knew the Big D would benefit so many in so many ways? Sigh.


One Episode Left

...of Six Feet Under, that is. Obsessed is the word to describe my relationship to this HBO show, ever since we caught a glimpse of it one night in a hotel two years ago (yes, two years ago). When Season One came out on DVD, we tore through the discs and then endured the slow, painful wait for Season Two. Well, it came out in June, and ever since the wedding we have been devouring them whole, sometimes two episodes at a time. Soon it will all be over, meaning I'll have to go through a 6ft. famine, and yet avert my eyes everytime I see an article about the show or one of the actors.

Sadly, Season Three's release date is probably a year off, and Season Four is running now, so even if we got HBO today we'd be far behind. What I need is a good bootleg source, pronto. Last night we watched the second-to-last episode on our Netflix DVD. Six Feet is such a lovable soap opera. What will become of Lisa and her baby? Will Nate and Brenda ever get back together? Will Keith and David get custody of Taylor? Will Rico's marriage crumble? Will Claire get into art school? (OK, I'm not really curious about that one.) Will I ever stop being obsessed with fictional characters?

Don't answer; I'll just wait years to find out.



I'm very fond of these new Magnolia postage stamps. Maybe it's the blue swath, or the semi-gothic richness of white on black; I don't know. But they arrived just in time. I was getting tired of Snowy Egret, and my James Baldwins were nice but not especially enticing. The Magnolias really spruce up a letter. Or a bill payment, as it were.

I had a great weekend, but it didn't involve as many Joy of Cooking breakthroughs as I would have liked. We did make a wonderful roasted rainbow trout on Saturday night, which we had with a very light, delicious local wine (Hardwick's "Yankee Girl Blush"). But I was planning on being most excited about the Indian potato patties we fried up, with jalapenos, mustard seed, and onion. Sadly, they were not exciting at all. Sure, forgetting to add the salt probably didn't help. But still. This was our second disappointing Indian potato-dish recipe. From here on out, I vow not to make Indian food unless it is from an authentic, genu-ine Indian cookbook.

One of our wedding gifts was a Kloss Table One model radio, from Jenny. It resides in my office, where I listen to all kinds of soothing old-school jazz. Right now a lady is singing smokily in French. It really enhances the workday.

Last night I took a very long walk through Belmont. It was wonderful. I love a cool, overcast dusk. I admired many gardens. I was busy wishing I had a dog with me, but before long a young couple walked by with a four-month old pug, who proceeded to knaw on my wrist for a while in affectionate greeting while his mistress restrained him and said, "Palmy, say hello in a nice way." His teeth were just little nubs. Actually, Palmy himself was just a little nub. I told Blue about the pug-man when I got home, and he felt regretfully that I should be the one with a puggy to take for walks. I'm looking forward to the first puppy stage of our marriage (although it's probably a year off at least, alas).


Thoughts from a sweltering apartment

In the face of an impending trip to the Midwest, I bought a dress. It's black, with peach and red flowers and green stems. It has little ties at the shoulders and a gathered waist. I don't have any dresses like it. It's really pretty. I bought it with a friend who despises shopping, and doesn't like to think too much about clothes, but has a knack for knowing exactly what looks good and what doesn't. I'm so lucky to have the friends I do.

Getting married seems like it has introduced a subtext of "domesticity: good or bad?" into my life. I don't think that's a valid question, but it's definitely a discussion topic. Maybe it's always been there and I'm just listening more closely now. I've had a couple conversations this summer with women who aren't especially happy with motherhood. I don't know either woman very well, but in each case I felt impressed that they were so open about such a quiet subject. Each one was a fantastic adventuress and now has a toddler. I love toddlers and adventures. But maybe those things aren't especially compatible.

I have also heard from women who aren't really sure how to see themselves as wives. Beyond enjoying the pleasure of being married to someone wonderful, there are a million and a half power plays, decisions, and identities that seem threatened within those marriages. Being a wife and being a mother suddenly seems so complicated. Not that it was ever simple, but those words and roles are so loaded, socially, and the rebellion against them from people who are those things or want those things is strained, a little taboo, an open secret, and confusing. I like being married for all the reasons that seem so cliche: the security, the shared dreams, the steady stream of love and support.

Speaking of motherhood, my mom's own blog, Somewise, makes like the governor of New Jersey and comes out of the closet today. Go give it a big pat on the back!

Ed: I'm changing to Haloscan comments again so that non-Blogger members don't have to be "anonymous," which is ridiculous! Blogger, behave yourself.


North is Where the Heart is?

As I biked home just now on my brand-new, ultra-lite commuter bike (a gift from my talented and sweet husband, who built it himself and plans to soon add orange flames to the red Italian frame), with my new tiny Palm Pilot and extra-sleek and fabulous laptop (both courtesy of work) tucked inside my high-tech laptop backpack with 6 pockets and a Palm and cellphone holder (another gift), I couldn't shake the distinct feeling that I was being thoroughly outfitted to be as light, portable and documentarian as possible. The only thing is, where am I supposed to go? And what do I document? Surely there must be better uses of all this X-treme portability than biking to Starbucks so I can write. I find that increasingly, as my life seems to pivot in a specific directions, I'm still not sure which way I'm facing. I'm not really bothered by this, though. It's all rather interesting.
New Toy

My new Palm Zire 72 arrived today! It is fabulous! It takes surreptitious pictures and plays MP3s! My (great!) boss asked if I'd like one, and there's only one answer to that question.
Grilled Guilt, Anyone?

Last night at a friend's barbeque, I unpeeled some grilled shrimp (delicious shrimp), and the legs of the animal unfurled as I straightened it out. I glanced at them, and then quickly took a bite, struggling to regain my usual ability to block out the discomfort of eating an animal. Formerly a vegetarian since conception, last year I got hooked on canned tuna, the 'gateway' fish, and from then on it was all over. I developed a ravenous appetite for seafood. The vegetarian part of my identity was crumbling, but I was experiencing a whole new range of tastes, flavors, and textures, not to mention my first filling low-fat protein source.

It's not that I eat fish and then complain about it, or at least that's not what I aim for. I want to unapologetically eat and savor fish, enjoy an otherwise-vegetarian diet, and be proud of making smart environmental and health-conscious choices. But every so often, when I tear a mussel from its little shell home or cut into somebody's bone, I feel a little creeped out. It's this "what on earth am I doing?" feeling quickly countered by the thought, "But it tastes amazing, and look how normal it is for everyone else." It's a weird form of outsider-ish-ness, and it leaves me at an awkward crossroads. I love seafood and I don't plan to stop eating it. I want to be 'normal' for once and not think about it, for god's sake. But last night as I biked home, I thought of that shrimp, running around on his legs. Legs that, at least theoretically, belonged to him.


Getting Tracked

My referral logs are picking up all sorts of new blog-cataloguing tools. There's Syndic8, for one, and blo.gs, which I don't understand (how can they....what's ".gs"?). And apparently you can fantasy trade this blog on the free market now with blogshares. I see that Crawlspace shares sell for about 20 cents each, which is great. Really lifts my spirits. It would also appear that my value has been plummeting over the last month. I don't know how, or even why, but buy, people, buy!

Also, and I know this is an old issue, the "blogs without comments are dictatorial" argument has raised its ugly head again. The problem is, no one has a good rebuttal for "blogs with 0 comments suck." You know? You can either shut out the audience, or you can be confronted with the fact that they have no comments for you. I prefer the former. What we need is a tool that only shows comments when someone wants to leave them, and simultaneously offers a discreet way to let readers know they can leave them. That's a job for you, Avocadola!

I feeling faintly ill today, and a little anxious. Having productivity problems, and waiting on an editor to get back to me on my work. Trying to get published is not like looking for a job; for once I sense that outright harrassment of a person will not get me what I want (although that method did land me a lovely job). So I wait. And wait.


Reviews Are In

I have two recommendations after this weekend. Maybe three. First things first: it's hard to believe I almost left the Newton library last week without it, but good sense prevailed and the book Little Children, by Tom Perotta, has been in my possession ever since. I think I hesitated because, although I really liked Election (the movie and the book), I wasn't sure if I particularly wanted to read about suburban infidelity. My standards for fiction are specific; it's got to feel like really good nonfiction, or it loses my interest (which is happening with Prague, despite all the critical accolades). Little Children is really good fiction. It helps that it is set in Belmont Belleville. Belmont, of course, is where the author lives, and where I was married. Belleville is a fictional town made up of upper-middle-class frou-frous. But the character's feelings aren't fiction.

Recommendation #2: Callebaut. The best milk chocolate I've ever had, seen, smelled or imagined. It's about $9 a bar, which is probably a very good thing. Ranc's makes an outstanding Callebaut ice cream, which I deliriously sampled during our Belleville Belmont walk on Saturday night. We wandered the playgrounds and quiet streets as dusk fell. I don't like the suburbs, but sometimes it's hard not to like Belmont, with its lovely, softly-lit houses and interesting, wildish gardens. Back to Callebaut: I sampled some of the Ghirardelli bar being added to this morning's ice cream (making it for later, alas), and was actually disappointed. I hope I'm not spoiled on Droste now! Once you've had the Callebaut creaminess, I guess you never go back.

Possible recommendation #3: Garden State. Blue and I saw this last night, and I empathized very deeply with the characters and the story. I thought it was very beautiful. That said, I don't think everyone will like it. It is too self-conscious, as the Times said, and sometimes you wish for other things in the dialogue and acting. But the film evokes a series of feelings that are simply true, at least for me: the sense of drifting until you're grabbed by something real---this perfectly encapsulates the experience of being in your twenties. Natalie Portman is so full of life, so beautiful and interesting that it's almost impossible not to profoundly connect with her. And Zach Braff wrote, directed and starred in this movie, which, in my opinion, is a very good thing. And if you can see it after sitting on the Esplanade on a windy Sunday, watching the sailboats capsize and drift, kissing your lover's freckled cheek, then I recommend it all the more.


More on Dual Career Choices

As I continue to ponder the issues involved with having two careers and only one marriage (see recent post), I have another question to add. #5: How can these thoughts even be processed without an annoying amount of pressure on both parties? I mean, if you made it really simple and didn't consider too many issues, it could feasibly not be a big deal. A simple choice: you gravitate toward love and adventure, and the rest can catch up to you when it's ready. But I feel like even perusing the ideas I discussed makes for a pressure-cooker-like environment, and I'm looking to avoid explosions.

In other news, Garden State opens tomorrow! I'm kind of excited about it, I think partly because the website is a pleasure. Good music, small but rewarding effects (wipe the condensation off the home page), and a beautiful trailer, IMHO. And hey, there's always Zach Braff's blog!

Nothing like a good home-cooked meal...

It turns out that Joy of Cooking actually DOES have a recipe for nachos. So last night we had an exciting and innovative meal of my own design, with recipes hacked right from Joy itself: nachos, roasted asparagus, scallion mashed potatoes (with nutmeg...thanks JoC) ("not bad, just...unlike any mashed potatoes I've ever had," said my husband), watermelon, and beer with lime. Eh? Eh? Inspired? Maybe I should open my own restaurant. Cedar's.
Damn Weird Advertising

Check out ilovebees.com for fun and frolic.


Tight Race

God, this map sends chills down my spine. I'm seeing red! At least Kerry is still ahead, if just slightly.
Stirring Things Up

A new set of plates, bowls, and cookware has picked up, dusted off and polished my found-again love of cooking. I think cooking is best when convenient and pleasurable; otherwise, I'd rather go out. I've been journeying through The Joy of Cooking, from which we have not yet had a bad recipe (only occasional undercooking). On Saturday I made a big pot of steamed mussels, which was quite the turnaround from my vegetarian-since-conception self. White wine and garlic sauce, some parsley, and some linguine on the side; delicious!

On Sunday morning, I made fresh blueberry muffins. With nutmeg and vanilla, and tops sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, they put all my prior muffins to shame. The blueberries were so plentiful and fresh they formed a near-custard in the middle of the muffin. They were sublime.

On Monday, the peaches in our basket were ripe and ready to explode, so I made a Peach & Raspberry Cobbler. Again, made similar dishes before, but the Joy of Cooking leads you to a buttermilk batter on top of the fruit that is so dense and rich and delicious that the luscious peaches actually have to compete for attention, especially when topped with lightly whipped cream. Yum.

On Tuesday, I went out for dinner with Allana. The Almond-Encrusted Goat Cheese salad was pretty good, but I wondered what might have made transpired if I were around that gleaming bible of cooking. And tonight, I'm mulling over chips and beer. I wonder if Joy of Cooking has any nacho recipes?


The High Jump

As my new husband considers what his professional options might be a year from now, I consider mine. I wish there was some kind of primer to make this process simpler, especially since it is so heavily painted with gender bias. Do we move far away so that he can pursue his passion, even though I have a great job with a higher income than his? "You can work anywhere," said a couple of his friends in answer to this question. I wasn't really offended, but it wasn't exactly true. I sometimes telecommute, but that's not what they meant. They meant, "Your job is disposable, whereas his job means something. To science." I don't plan on giving my life to science.

My former co-workers assumed I was. "You are going to get dragged all across the country," they'd tell me. "No, I'm not," I respond, confident that none of us knew what we were talking about. Though his parents make assuring references to "my career," they also draw parallels to their own lives, in which woman follows man. My own parents are quieter on the subject, supportive either way, having never moved for love. I need an clear opinion, not an advocate for either of us, but someone who can weigh the risks, drawbacks and benefits. Though I truly crave adventure, I can't envision leaving my happy, settled life. As a result, I can't see what it might be like.

I respectfully submit my questions:

1. If we move for his career, is the dynamic forever changed? Does that make me the follower? Will I lose power in the eyes of the people around us?

2. If one person invests more time in a pursuit, is that person's career inherently more valuable?

3. Who will stay home with the kids?

4. If the ideas and assumptions that drove the initial move turn out to be faulty, am I owed? Is the expectation of payoff or compensation a flawed way of thinking?

All answers gratefully received.


Jumping Hurdles

We spent Saturday at a cross-country horse trial competition, which for me is nearing the absolute height of fun, even if that makes me a dork (and it does). Happily, I have the best husband imaginable, and he was very gung-ho. We ambled around a huge set of fields, and every so often the thundering of hooves would be followed by a huge animal clearing the jump in front of us before thundering away.

The trials are mostly about speed, and that makes them dangerous; we saw one person fall when her horse froze in front of a jump, and throughout the day heard numerous reports of "horse down" and "rider down." But competitive horse jumping is as beautiful as it is dangerous, and for that reason alone, I want to do it someday. I jumped horses for a couple years in college and it was one of the best things I've ever done. It is terrifying to feel the mass of muscle, mood and personality beneath you, to experience the steady increase of speed, and to be aimed directly at a large obstacle. But to clear that obstacle is like a dream. Relinquishing control, but keeping just enough rein in check to remind the horse that you're both pretending you're in charge, is a feeling utterly unmatched by any other experience I've ever had.

Speaking of clearing hurdles, I think marriage has just intensified my love for Blue. It is a little astonishing how powerfully I feel for him, and how different I feel now than I did a month ago. We're both still the same people we were, but I feel very secure, bonded, starry-eyed in love, and it's very good, a really wonderful way to live. I really enjoyed being single, too, and relished having my own space and my own life. And some of what you gain with a partner is hard, like having someone closely observing your life (with its abrupt nonsequitors, pockmarks and inconsistencies), but I wouldn't trade in my old single life, or any life, for that matter, for the one I share with Blue.