6 Reasons to Marry Your Best Friend

Today I’m supposed to talk about my best friend, which is going to get really sappy really quickly because Will is my bestest best friend. But before I get to him, let me say that I have amazing friends, all different, and all special to me in their own ways and for various reasons. I’ve got friends I’ve had since before I can remember having friends. I’ve got friends with whom friendships were forged under the most trying of circumstances – adolescence. I’ve got friends from college who watched me (and bore with me) as I did a fair amount of growing up and becoming myself, making a fool of myself as expected along the way. I’ve got friends from New York who took on the big city with me, who didn’t bat an eye when I started cutting my clothes up and got my nose pierced, but loved me, accepted me, and appropriately challenged me. I’ve got friends from Raleigh, who, though they are my most recent acquaintances, have become family. Literally.

And when I say literally, I literally mean literally. Whitney has spent the last couple of Christmases with my family, yes, and she is very close to literal family, but I’m talking about the friend who is now actually my family – my husband. We sometimes have surreal moments when we just can’t believe that we are married because still, after two years together, only a quarter of our relationship has been romantic in nature. We were friends for six years before we ever got together, so we often find it hard to believe that we get to kiss each other whenever we want, and we often find it hard to believe that there was ever a time we didn’t kiss each other.

Smooching is only one perk of marrying your best friend, though. Here are some more:

1. Hanging out with friends is simple.

We each have some friends that the other doesn’t know (or doesn’t know well), but we don’t hang out with them all that often because they don’t live nearby. If they did, we’d try to hang out with them a little bit more. The friends we hang out with the most are the ones we’ve both known for years, the ones we knew before we ever got together, the ones who, when we started dating, said, “Well it’s about time!” So I almost never have to go to awkward parties with Will’s friends and make small talk (introvert problems), and he’s only had to do that once or twice with my friends and family. Nope, none of that. We just hang out with people we both know and love.

2. Spending time together is fun and easy.

You’re friends! You’ve already spent time getting to know each other and developing “your things” – the things you always do together and/or the things you only do with each other. You have your favorite restaurants and hangouts, you have your inside jokes, you probably enjoy a lot of the same things, and you know what to expect from each other. Sure, Will and I have our disagreements, and we get frustrated with each other at times, but for the most part, being together is enjoyable. We don’t get tired of each other. We just do the things we’ve always enjoyed doing together, and it’s great!

3. The relationship moves at a comfortable pace.

I have two things to say about this. First, a lot of Christians get married lightning fast. The joke is that they just want to have sex, but they have to get hitched first, so they speed the process along. I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but I sincerely hope it’s not the whole truth because marriage is a huge step, and you really should be sure you’re ready to commit to marriage with that specific person before you do it. Otherwise, you are likely in for a bumpy road and a lot of heartache. I believe it is entirely possible to meet, fall in love with, and commit to a person for the rest of your life in a very short span of time (my parents did it), but it’s rare. By marrying your best friend, you can take it fast AND slow at the same time. A lot of people we met when we were engaged (or about to get engaged) were shocked that we’d only been together for such a short time, but as soon as we told them we’d been friends for six years, they were fine with us getting married.

Second, I always hated online dating because it took me six dates to decide whether I liked a guy enough even to be friends with him, much less date him. But by the time you’ve been on six dates with someone, news flash, you’re dating. The pace of it always made me uncomfortable. But with Will, I already knew I liked spending time with him as a friend. I then learned pretty quickly that I loved being in a relationship with him, that in fact I loved him. With that knowledge, stepping into engagement was a no-brainer, and even though marriage is a scary prospect that brings a lot of change, we were WAY ready for it by the time our wedding day rolled around.

4. There aren’t a lot of surprises.

Will and I were friends for six years. By the time we started dating, I knew what foods he liked, I knew how he liked to spend his time, I knew (more or less) how tidy he was, I knew the kinds of things he would want to do and the kinds of things he’d need to be coerced into doing. By the time we got married, I knew even more, and that knowledge has been invaluable. They say the first year of marriage is the hardest, and I think that’s the case because there’s just such a steep learning curve if you haven’t been living together beforehand. But when you marry your best friend, you know what you’re getting for the most part.

5. You always have a buddy.

We fully acknowledge the fact that we are disgustingly sweet a LOT of the time, and the romantic part of being in a good relationship is GREAT. But sometimes, you just don’t feel lovey-dovey. Sometimes you feel wretched and gross and gassy, and you don’t want to be touched. Sometimes you’ve had a hard day, and you don’t want to deal with it. You just want to watch TV and veg out. Sometimes you’re tired and don’t feel sexy at all. And in those moments, the good thing about being married to your best friend is that you’ve always got a buddy. You’ve always got your friendship – your simple enjoyment of each other’s company – to fall back on. You CAN just veg out together and watch TV. You CAN just lie next to each other in bed and look at Facebook. You don’t feel the need to constantly impress each other, and you don’t have to worry when the googly-eyed phase of your relationship stops being a 24/7 thing. Our googly eyes come and go, but our friendship fills in the gaps in between.

6. You can talk about everything.

I mean everything. Everything from the frequency and consistency of your bowel movements to theories on life and purpose. And when things are tough and you need to talk to someone, you’ve always got your best friend there with you, wanting to hear what you have to say. And when things are absolutely abysmal and you would rather not talk about it because you think it will hurt too much, you’ve got your best friend there too, encouraging you to keep talking or just letting you cry it out.

If you didn’t marry your best friend, I don’t think it’s too late to be married to your best friend. We got there slowly, and with a lot of movies. I think you can too. Find some common ground, have fun together, make jokes, laugh, flirt, watch silly TV shows, talk about your poop, ask about each other’s day, talk about your hopes and dreams and theories on life and purpose, and maybe do a little smoochin’.

*This post was co-written by Will and Beth. We are also available for parties…but bear in mind, we are very awkward at them.*

Miscarriage Resources and Advice

So today I’m supposed to write about the best advice I’ve received since my miscarriage, and honestly, this might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s where I am, and I’m ok with it for now. I’ve read a lot of things that were supposed to be encouraging that really just pissed me off or made me sadder than I was before, and almost all of them were what I would call the “correct” Christian response to miscarriage. If you don’t know what I mean by that, I’m talking about the things that acknowledge the pain (sort of) but then in the same breath wipe it away with a Bible verse or an attribute of God or something similar. Even as a Christian, it’s hard for me to read that stuff because it’s just not that easy. It feels like jumping straight to the resolution of grief without working through the grief, and I just don’t buy that those people truly feel that peaceful or faith-filled unless they’re a lot further removed from it than I am six weeks out. And maybe when they wrote their stuff, it had been a couple of years and they had already reached a deeper level of resolution, but I am most definitely not there, and I refuse to fake it.

The best advice is the most honest, which also seems to be the best way process grief. There’s no need to try and faith it away (one of the books I’ll recommend below actually says that’s a way of denying or repressing grief.) You just slog through it one minute at a time. And the minutes turn into hours, and the hours turn into days, and the days turn into weeks, and sometimes you feel ok, and sometimes you feel lousy, but I’m told that one day several months from now, I’ll wake up and realize that I feel different. Maybe not good or even better, but just different. Six weeks out, all I can tell you is that I’m ok at best all the time, but that’s an improvement over the first two weeks, when I spent more of each day crying than not.

My two favorite pieces of advice so far are:

“Be kind to yourself.” ~Dawn

“Take your time, bro.” ~Dallas

Simple, easy to remember, and necessary, both of these reminders help me to be patient as I trudge through the crap and give myself a lot of grace. And the fact that Dallas calls me “bro” just makes me smile.

Books on Miscarriage

The best thing I’ve read so far has been a book called Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah L. Davis. It’s written for people (particularly women) who have lost babies to miscarriage or stillbirth, or who have lost babies after birth, so not all of it speaks directly to me, and I generally just skipped over the bits that didn’t apply to my situation. What’s great about it, though, is that it’s quite comprehensive. It explains everything that you’re going through, tells you that it’s normal to go through those things, and then shares stories from other women who’ve been there just in case you still feel abnormal. I would recommend it for anyone who has lost a baby big enough to have a name. If you had an early miscarriage, you might feel like you have less in common with the parents whose stories are shared.

A friend also gave me a book called Free to Grieve by Maureen Rank. I’ve flipped through it and read some parts, so I can tell you that it’s a book for Christians, and it’s more story-based than Empty Cradle, which has snippets of women’s stories but not long narratives like this one. My friend said she liked it because it walked her through the grieving process after her first miscarriage and encouraged her that her feelings were normal and ok to have. This book does seem appropriate for women who’ve had an early miscarriage. It answers a lot of questions you might have about the medical procedures you went through, and it discusses options for the future as well as how to protect your marriage after going through a miscarriage.

Another friend gave me a book called Never Alone in the Shadows from this website. It’s a read-a-page-a-day sort of deal, and while it is faith-based, I find it encouraging rather than infuriating because I think it comes from a genuine heart of faith and concern for bereaved parents rather than a desire to straighten it all out as quickly as possible without showing any signs of a wavering faith. It’s taking me a while to get through it, honestly, because I tidied up the coffee table, put some things on top of it, and forgot it was hiding under there. But I shall resume now.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you know of any helpful websites, discussion boards, books, or support groups for women, men, couples, or families coping with the loss of a baby, please comment and let us know. I’d love to build up an arsenal of resources for myself and others who’ve lost babies.

10 Things That Change When You Get Married

I know I haven’t posted anything since I got married. It’s not that I’ve forgotten or that we’re too busy having all the sex for me to blog; it’s that I’ve been trying to figure out what to say. I feel like some big life lessons or revelations are in order considering I just went through (and am still going through) a major life change. I don’t know if I have any big or important things to say, but I feel like I should, and maybe the pressure of that has just had me blocked. So I’ll just start with some basic differences between single life and married life, and then maybe the words will begin to flow out of me like fresh limeade from my Fiesta™ pitcher. Oh wait…we didn’t get the pitcher. Not a good sign, but let’s get started anyway.

  1. You get to live with your best buddy. I know this seems like not that big a change for me considering the awesomeness of my past roommates, but it’s true. Ideally, you marry your best friend, and you’re closer with him than you are with any of your girlfriends because you’re closer in a different way. And then you get to live together, which is just fun! You goof around, watch movies, fall asleep snuggling, wake up next to each other, and come home at the end of good days and bad to your favorite face. It’s great.
  2. People suddenly stop making coy references to your sex life. Before the wedding, questions about the honeymoon were always punctuated with sly winks and elbow nudges. Now when people ask about it, there is none of that. I don’t know if they assume that now that we’re married, we’ve stopped doing it, or if they know that we’ve now started, and that weirds them out too much. Either way, it’s nice that these kinds of conversations have ended.
  3. Your laundry is insane. I know when/if we start having kids, our laundry is going to quadruple, but seriously, washing two people’s clothes seems like a lot more than double just one person’s clothes. I don’t know how that works, but I really need to start doing it twice a week instead of just once.
  4. We run the dishwasher like every other day. Part of this is because when you live alone, you don’t cook for just yourself that much. You eat frozen things or go out with friends or let your married friends cook for you. Cooking for one just requires way too much effort for nothing more than sustenance. I can get sustenance at Taco Bell, and the clean-up is nothing. You only cook for yourself when you’re trying to save money, and then you’re eating sandwiches (on paper towels, because seriously…), mac-n-cheese (and you wash and reuse the pot the next day for more mac-n-cheese), or soup (which you pour directly from the can into the bowl and microwave). But when you are married, it makes more sense financially to cook, so you cook a lot, and then you have all the pots and pans and prep bowls and dining dishes, and it doesn’t take long before your dishwasher is full.
  5. You share a bedroom. This has been one of the most difficult things for me. On our honeymoon, it was fun. We got to have sleepovers every night!! But when we got home, I started to get really cranky in the evenings right around bedtime. This was worrisome, but I think I’ve figured it out. I’m an introvert, so my brain really values alone time. And before we got married, I had built-in alone time every night when I was getting ready for and going to bed. As much as I hated leaving Will at the end of the night and going home alone, I really enjoyed that alone time at the end of the day to wind down and process the day’s events. So after we got married, my brain was pissed at me every night when it was bedtime and someone else was there. But since I’ve acknowledged this shift, things have been much better. My brain has started to understand that it can’t rely on having alone time at night, and that’s ok. I get plenty of it at other times, and I’ve learned to ask for it when I need more.
  6. Your schedule really opens up. Now that I’m not planning a wedding (hallelujah), I have all kinds of free time. Unfortunately, it’s in the afternoons, when most other people are at work, but I’m ok with that (alone time, remember?). Before the wedding, I read that people sometimes get depressed after their weddings are finished because they miss the planning and the stress and all the attention being on them. I am not that girl. But I do like to have goals and to work toward something, so I’m slowly starting to fill my newly reclaimed free time with new projects.
  7. You’ve always got a helper. My car wasn’t starting so well toward the end of last week or over the weekend, and we couldn’t figure out why. Turns out it was just the battery dying, but not quite dead. It wasn’t a big deal in the end, but when we didn’t know what it was, we started to brainstorm how we would get by without one car for a day or two while it was being fixed. Because we live together and share everything and work together to help each other, this didn’t seem like a big deal. I’d drive him to work and pick him up. That way, I could take his car all day and do whatever I needed to do. When you’re single, you can figure out a way to get by without a car, but it takes more effort, and you have to ask people to put themselves out to help you, which I don’t really like doing.
  8. You are more aware of your negative feelings because there’s always someone else around to experience them. Even if you’re just gassy or tired, you can’t feel bad without it coming out in your words, actions and attitude. If you’re single and home alone, you can just stay home alone and not subject other people to your crankiness. Even if you have a roommate, you can escape to the solitude of your own bedroom. But when you’re married and your headache comes out in curtness, you can’t escape that. It’s good in a way because it makes you identify the source of your feelings and work them out, which helps you feel better faster and helps your spouse not get treated poorly. Also, when you’re trying to work out your feelings, you have your best buddy there to help and support you.
  9. You can go to bed at 9:30. Before we were married, it was SO HARD to say goodbye every night and go home. Consequently, the goodbye-ing took forever, and we rarely went to sleep before 11. Now that we live together, we’re brushing our teeth at 9:00, reading at 9:15, and drifting off by 10. AND because you’re married, your friends fully expect you to be a grandma and not go out with them. I got a solid 9 hours of sleep last night, and it was awesome.
  10. You feel like you ought to feel completely different, but you really feel exactly like you’ve always felt. Because of the whole changing-of-the-name thing (which I haven’t officially done yet), I’m having a little bit of an identity crisis, but other than that, I’m still me. I wear the same clothes, do the same getting ready routine in the morning, do the same job with the same coworkers, make the same jokes, think about things in the same over-analytical way, have the same friends, and eat the same foods. The only difference is that now there’s someone else around to witness it all and love me unconditionally through it. There’s someone to watch me silly-dancing while I put on my makeup. There’s someone to laugh at my jokes or tell me I can do better. There’s someone to listen to my over-analysis and tell me if I’m being unreasonable or help me find solutions to problems. And there’s someone to look at the outfits I put on in the morning and say, “You look gorgeous. You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.” (And yes, that is a direct quote.)

Summer 2013: At a Glance

Since I last logged into my WordPress account:

  • I’ve received 338 spam comments.
  • I’ve had surgery on my face to remove a spot of basal cell carcinoma. Don’t tan, kids. And always wear sunscreen. I didn’t use moisturizer with sunscreen for a long time because they all made me break out, but I’m here to tell you that it’s worth continuing the search for a good product. You don’t want to have surgery on your face. You get black eyes from it, and you have to wear an enormous bandage that looks like a Pringle on your face for at least a week. Just find a good moisturizer with sunscreen in it, and don’t tan. Your skin is beautiful the color it is. I promise.
  • Will and I had our engagement photos done. Here’s one of my favorites.
    Photo by Amaris Fotographic - http://www.amarisfotographic.com/
    Photo by Amaris Fotographic – http://www.amarisfotographic.com/
    • I moved. And y’all, I’m done with the moving. I am too old to be hauling all my crap myself, and my friends are too old and too gluten-free to be paid in pizza. Next time, I’m hiring professionals.
    • I helped three other people move. So I moved on a Saturday, our friends Matt and Liz moved the very next day, Will’s mom moved the following weekend (she is smart and hired professionals, but we still helped her unpack), and Will’s sister moved the weekend after that. When that last move was finished, if we had had any kind of energy for it, we would have done a dance. Instead, we just felt really excited on the inside, and you’ll have to take my word for that.
    • I ripped off half my toenail helping with one of those moves. I couldn’t find my shoes, see, because they were all in a box buried under a mountain of my crap in Will’s guest room, so I was in flip-flops, carrying something, and I couldn’t see that I was about to ram my big toe into a concrete step. It hurt, I cried, we went to Urgent Care, they bandaged me up, and I wore those same flip-flops for another two weeks because (a.) I still couldn’t find my shoes, and (b.) the bandage was so big that I couldn’t get anything else on. I’m happy to report that as of last night, all the old, broken toenail is gone, and new, healthy toenail is growing. The tip of my toe still looks a little ragged, but between that and the face surgery, at least I know that my body is very good at growing skin. Way to go, body!
    • I had my bridal portraits taken. For obvious reasons, I can’t display them here, but the ones I’ve seen are GOOD. The rest are still being processed.
    • I had TWO bridal showers in two days, and let me just say, I had no idea people liked me that much. People came from out of town, some just for a night, some just for the day, and they all brought me presents! It was Crazytown. Honestly, I was kind of dreading that weekend because I knew it would be a lot of people time for this introvert, but by the end of it, I just felt so incredibly loved that I didn’t care how exhausted I was (and I was VERY exhausted). So if you were at one (or both) of those showers, thank you. Sincerely. Thank you for loving me.
    • I finished the looooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnggeeeeeessssssssssssssssstt semester in the history of teaching. We started on April 8 and went through August 9. We had a week off for July 4, which was nice because I needed that time to pack/move, but during that time, I was packing/moving, so it wasn’t really much of a vacation. We read three novels, several students “graduated,” and I learned to be very grateful for the lesson plans I made two years ago and the fact that I only had to teach 20 hours a week. Also, taking the summer off from State was the best decision of my life. I don’t know how I would have gotten so much wedding planning done with an extra class. Speaking of which…
    • I had three (four?) craft nights to make wedding decorations, which are now mostly done. We’re just waiting to see how many people are coming so we know how many tables we’ll need so we know how many centerpieces we’ll need so we know how many flowers we’ll need. A last-minute craft night may be in order. We’ll see.
    • We booked the caterer and set the menu.
    • We booked the venue.
    • Our awesome friend Meme designed us some really cool invitations/RSVP cards, which we’ve mailed out. It’s pretty fun now because we get mail from people every day.
    • Oh, and we’ve ordered about a million things from Etsy and Amazon, and people are sending us gifts from our Amazon registry, so we’re getting like five packages a day.
    • We did all of our premarital counseling, which was great. If you’re getting married, I highly recommend it. It gave us a chance to talk about things we might not have talked about otherwise, and it showed us what a great match we really are. When we got to the section on raising children, the pastor said, “Shoot, you could have kids now. You’re ready.” We told him we’d probably wait on that at least until after the wedding, but it was encouraging to hear nonetheless.
    • We planned our ceremony.
    • Our programs are in the works.
    • We got all the wedding attire.
    • I won’t go into all the wedding details as they are numerous, but I’ll just say that while there are things still left to do, if we didn’t do any of them but get a marriage license, the wedding would happen, and it would be fine. People would come, it would be documented, and there would be food. That’s all you really need, right? And to feel that way with six weeks left is a great, great thing.
    • I watched all of How I Met Your Mother. Again.
    • I’ve started watching Doctor Who. And I like it.

So that’s what my summer has been like and why you haven’t heard from me in a while. After my face surgery, I just slept for like two days straight, and Whitney and I decided it was like my body had shut down all other running programs to focus on repairing the breach in The Head. Something similar, though not quite as serious, happened after my toe injury. It’s just been one thing after another, and every time I’ve thought about blogging, an error message has popped up in my brain like the one you get when there’s not enough RAM available to run any more programs.

That semester is over, though, and with most of the wedding planning done, hopefully (fingers crossed), I’ll have more to say to you in the coming weeks. I have some thoughts stirring about engagement and wedding planning and rest and priorities. But we can talk about all that later.

Life After College

This is a bit of a follow-up to last week’s letter to college girls. Today, I’d like to talk specifically to college seniors and recent grads. Let me just warn you up front. It’s going to be pretty grim, but I hope you’ll read all the way to the end because there is a light at the end of the crap tunnel. I’m going to start with the seniors, then talk through my year-after-college experience, then go back to offer some advice to both seniors and fresh graduates. Here we go.

Get pumped, y’all! It’s your SENIOR YEAR!!!! Raise your hand if you’ve got the Senioritis already. Yeah, I remember. I want to walk you through what you’re going to experience over the next two years, and recent grads, back me up.


And why not? You’ve been working your butt off for a long time to get here. You’ve been in school since you were five, and now FINALLY! You’ll be finished with it all and can move on to living LIFE. But first, you’ve got some partying to do. Maybe your partying involves loud noises and Solo cups, or maybe it involves sleep-overs and silly, sober shenanigans. Either way, you want this whole college thing to end with a bang. As well it should. Live it up, still-in-college girl. And take lots of pictures while you’re at it.


At some point your senior year, you’ll start to realize that it’s all ending, and that’s not just exciting. It’s kind of terrifying. “Oh my gosh,” you’ll think, “I’m only 21. Do they seriously let 21-year-olds live on their own and have jobs and pay bills all by themselves?” Some of you will add, “Oh my gosh, I’m getting married. Do they seriously let 22-year-olds be married and live on their own together? To fend for themselves? And buy HOUSES?” Lucky for you, you’re 21 (or 22), and at that age, you still feel invincible enough to keep groping your way forward in the world pretty optimistically. This wears off a bit later on, which I think is a bit of a tragedy because I really want to learn to skateboard, but I’ve never broken a bone (knock on wood), and I don’t want to start now.

So you’ll get flashes of worry, but usually the excitement and just total lack of foresight will wash them away, and you’ll be back to the partying.


CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! YOU MADE IT!!!!!!! I remember two moments from my last week of college very clearly.

  • The first is me walking home from turning in my last college assignment ever. All my exams were over, and I’d just turned in my last paper. And I DANCED down the street and up the hill to my dorm.
  • The second is me standing backstage at my departmental graduation. They handed everyone an index card and told us to write down what we wanted the announcer to say about us as we walked across the stage – people we wanted to thank, future plans, etc. And I was all, “Wait, wait, wait. We’re supposed to have a PLAN?! What the cuss do I know about who I am and what I’m going to do and what they should say about me?” Here’s what I wrote (and I am not even kidding):

“Following a two-month mission trip to Honduras, Beth plans to pursue a career as an educational singer/songwriter.”

BECAUSE I HAD NO PLAN FOR AFTER THE SUMMER. None. Whatsoever. No job, no clue what kind of job I wanted, no clue where I wanted to live or who or what I wanted to be. And in that moment, holding that index card, it was like I was holding the blank page on which I would write the rest of my life, but I had suddenly become illiterate.

Ever-so-Brief Respite from Reality

Maybe you’ll get the summer to rest and sort some things out. Maybe you’ll get to work with deaf kids in Honduras, or maybe you’ll backpack through Europe (I wholeheartedly recommend both). Maybe you’ll move back home and let your mom do your laundry while you figure it out and look for a job. Or maybe you’re one of those on-the-ball people who has a job lined up already before graduation. You won’t get a vacation, but you will get a short honeymoon phase in which “real life” is as awesome as you always imagined it to be. Enjoy this time, however it looks. Enjoy it as much as possible.

Total Crap Time

My whole first year out of college was awful. There were good things – I was living with my sister, which was a lot of fun, I took a stab at what I wanted to do and got into the grad school I wanted, and I developed a few really important friendships – but I remember that year as being just terrible. I cried a lot, I felt very alone and confused, and worst of all, I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard. I’ve had several years to work on it, though, and now I can explain it to you.

My goal in this is not to scare or depress you. I want you to know what’s coming so that you feel less alone and confused than I did, which might keep you from crying as much as I did. I can’t guarantee that, but I also want you to know that when you’re in this time, if you need to cry, you can call me to do it. That way, at least you won’t be alone.

Here’s what’s happening:

  • You don’t know who you are any more. Your whole life, you’ve been a student. I went to preschool, then K-12, then college. I didn’t know anything else, but I knew REALLY well how to be a student, and I was good at it. Then suddenly, I was a barista, and I didn’t know how to be a barista, and I wasn’t sure I was any good at it, and I kind of hated it because they made me wear polo shirts and khakis (double barf). Without realizing it, I had based my entire identity and self-worth on who I was as a student, so when I wasn’t a student anymore, I was lost highly suspicious of my value.
  • You don’t know how to relate to people because your identity is lost. It’s like you’re looking at a big, crazy, people/relationships map, but there’s no X telling you, “You are here.” When you don’t know who YOU are, you don’t know how to be you with anyone else. Every relationship is confusing and hard.
  • You don’t know who God is. You’ve heard all your life (and you believe) that God doesn’t change, and it’s true, but in the Old Testament, people are all the time giving God new names based on how they’ve just experienced him. Hagar calls him “God who sees,” David calls him “God my shepherd,” and Abraham calls him “the Lord will provide.” Through different experiences, people see different aspects of God’s character. So far, you’ve experienced God as a student, and you’ve probably seen many aspects of his character, but now you feel like most of those don’t apply, and you’re left wondering if this God who doesn’t change is still relevant now that you have.
  • Your friends have scattered. Remember when I told you to enjoy college because you get to see your buddies all the time? Here’s why I told you that. Either you are going to move or your people are. You’ll likely know a few folks wherever you are, but it just won’t be the same. People are meant to be with other people, and all the people who know you and love you best will be somewhere else. Total crap time.

Figuring It Out

Friends, it gets better. Just hang in there. Making friends outside of school will be weird for a while because you’re still figuring out who you are, but it is doable because your core identity hasn’t actually changed, and the people you meet will see who you are and like you even while you’re still trying to work it all out. You, like the people in the Old Testament, will experience new aspects of God if you keep looking for him, and you’ll realize that he doesn’t change, but there’s SO much more of him than you ever imagined. And at some point, you’ll get a spark of revelation about what you want to do with your life, and you’ll move forward with courage and ambition because you’re excited about what lies ahead.

*   *   *   *   *


If you’re just out of college, and you are currently in “Total Crap Time,” seriously, it does get better. Email me if you want to chat. You can come over for dinner and alcohol, and I’ll look you in the eye and tell you it gets better. It really does. But in the meantime, it’s ok for it to be crap. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

And if you’re a college senior, I have a few ideas for how to make “Total Crap Time” just “Crap Time.” I have a feeling it’s going to be hard either way, but still, these may help:

  • Make a plan for after college as early as possible. I know this is going to be hard for some of you. My college advisor asked me once what my 5-year plan was, and I laughed at her. I’m still not good at long-term planning, and I think that might just be how I’m wired, but the earlier you can make a plan, the better-off you’ll be for the next tip.
  • Start investing now in relationships/organizations/activities you’ll want to be involved with after college. It will make your transition into the real world MUCH easier if you’ve already got a toe (or foot or whole leg) in while the rest of you finishes up school. If you’re going to stay in the city where your college is, get involved in non-university things with non-studenty people. If you’re going to move, go ahead and establish contacts, get in touch with Meet-Up group organizers, ask around about the best places to live, get people to keep their ears open for possible roommates for you. Finish strong where you are, and enjoy the present, but also, start moving your life (even if it’s just mentally) out of college and into your future world so that when you get there, you can hit the ground running.
  • Seriously consider who you are, completely apart from school. How do you relate to people? How do you express love? What makes you really excited? What makes you really angry? What part do you play in your family/your group of friends/the world? What do you wish existed in the world? What do you wish didn’t exist? What makes you get off the couch or out of bed willingly, eagerly?

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got for you, 21-23-year-old girl (or guy?). Well, that’s all I have in writing. I also have the aforementioned dinner and liquor, and I also have The Three Amigos, which makes everything better. Come on over.

Advice to Movers

A long time ago, I posted the “7 Stages of Moving,” a description of what happens when you change residences. It’s spot-on, I’m told, though I don’t know how helpful it is except for maybe raising awareness of what is going to happen to you as you pack. But having just moved again, I’d now like to offer you some advice. If you’re getting ready to move, listen up.

Start Packing Early. Way Early.

It is NEVER too early to start purging and packing. Even months ahead of time is fine. You’ve got plenty of stuff you’re not going to use between now and then (out-of-season clothes, extra linens, etc.) and plenty of decor you can do without for a bit. Go ahead and take down your curtains if you can. Pack up all those books you keep meaning to read but know you won’t before the move. It will make unpacking more fun because every time you open a box, you’ll be all, “Oh YAY! I’d totally forgotten about this!” It’s like getting new stuff.


When you open a box and are like, “What the eff is this?” you can just take the whole box straight to Goodwill. Bonus!

Get Three Times As Many Boxes As You Think You Need

Twice during my most recent packing, I thought I only needed maybe eight more boxes, and both times, I went to the ABC store and got 10-15, and BOTH times, I packed ALL of them. So do yourself a favor, and when you think you only need eight more boxes, get 25. If you don’t need them for packing, just leave them in your old place so that when you go back to finish cleaning up, you’ve got a couple of disposable trash cans there waiting for you.

Take the Week Off

W-Josh and I both happened to have the whole week off of work before we moved, and it was the best thing ever. You think you need time off after you move, but you are wrong. You’ll be tired, but you’ll make it. You’ll be less tired if you give yourself plenty of time before the move to be prepared for it. We did such a good job that all day Friday, we were just sitting around. We wanted to try and get a few loads of stuff in if we could, but we couldn’t because they were cleaning the carpet (which was fine because our lease didn’t start until Saturday anyway), so I literally sat around all day watching Friday Night Lights and waiting for 5:30 to roll around so we could get things started.

You may not need to take a whole week off. A day or two might suffice, but I’m telling you, if you can do it, do it. It will keep you sane.


This is the most important thing I learned from this move. People are not deceived by promises of pizza and/or beer. You can’t dress up a move as a party. Everybody knows it’s not fun. It’s sweaty and exhausting, and too many people are on gluten-free and/or Paleo diets these days for pizza to be much of an incentive. But if your friends and family love you (and of course they do), they just need to know that they are needed – desperately, desperately needed.

So beg. Beg a LOT. Beg often. Beg in emails. Beg in person. Beg over the phone. Beg on Facebook. Beg on Twitter. Beg with pain in your voice and tears in your eyes and a slight limp or some bandages. You don’t even have to fake it if you think hard enough about how heavy your crap is and how much of it you have. Or if you’ve sliced your thumb open with an industrial tape gun.

And no matter how many people you have committed to helping you, when someone asks if you still need help, the answer is YES. Always, every time, period. Even if 20 people have said they’ll help, you still need more help. You just never know what’s going to come up, and hey, if 35 people show up, boom! Easy work. That’s how we got a full truck unloaded in twelve minutes. TWELVE.

Set Up Teams

You can have an outdoor team carrying stuff out of the old place while an indoor team cleans up behind them. That way, when everything’s out, it’s also clean, and you don’t have to come back later.

You can have an outdoor team carrying stuff from the truck to the door and an indoor team set up to put things in place in your new digs. That way, when everything’s in, it’s also arranged, put-together and partially unpacked.

You can have a muscle team and a motivation team. The muscle team does the heavy lifting while the motivation team cheers and keeps Gatorade at the ready.

You can have a moving team and an unpacking team. The moving team comes on moving day to do its thing, and the unpacking team comes the next day to put all your books on shelves, clothes in drawers, spices on racks, dishes in cabinets, etc.

Help Other Movers Move

This is powerful stuff, man. The more people you’re willing to help, the more people you’ll have willing to help you. It’s like a co-op. Start building up your network now even if you’re not planning on moving any time soon.

That’s all I’ve got! What advice do you have to offer movers?

Google Voicemail Just Doesn’t Get Me

Every woman wants to be understood, and until recently, I didn’t think I was that hard to get. I try to express myself clearly. I think I’m pretty articulate. But now I know I just talk gibberish all the time.

W-Josh has Google voicemail that texts her a transcript of each message she receives. Conceivably, this means that she doesn’t actually have to listen to the messages. She can just read them and respond accordingly. But it NEVER has a clue what I’m talking about. It doesn’t matter how clearly I enunciate. It just doesn’t understand me. A few weeks ago, it thought part of my message was, “yeah yeah.” I wish I could remember the rest of that one. Maybe she’ll help us out by posting it as a comment, but I can assure you that at no point in that message did I say, “yeah yeah.”

So as you may have guessed by now, that cryptic message I gave you the other day was one of Google’s attempts to translate me. I’ll refresh your memory. It said:

Leading well in your private will give you indigestion. This word for the day. It’s not the by. Relax. Church.

And let me pause right here and tell you that when Whitney called me to read this to me, I thought she was saying, “Bleeding well in your private…,” and I was equally amused and grossed out. What the eff, Google? Is there not a logarithm in existence that determines whether or not these things make sense? Granted, it puts the words it’s unsure of in gray and the ones it’s pretty certain of in black, but it was sure about most of this message. The only parts it doubted were:

  • private will
  • It’s
  • the by

I wish I knew how to get the sound byte on here, but since I don’t, I’ll just tell you what I REALLY said.

Buddy, swallowing your pride won’t give you indigestion. This word for the day is brought to you by Freedom Life…Church on Fire!

Now. Lest Whitney and I be accused of having inside jokes, I’ll explain. On US1, close to I-85, there is a church called Freedom Life…Church on Fire. Seriously. Look it up. They have a facebook page. Four people like it. Anyhoe, we think it’s hilarious that that is really the name of the church, and whenever one of us drives past it or just thinks about it, we call the other and say, “Freedom Life!” to which the other responds, “Church on Fire!” Their marquis is always equally amazing. Once when I drove by, it said, “Stop, drop and roll won’t work in hell.” You can’t make this stuff up.

So as I was driving up to VA last weekend, I noticed the message and decided to give Josh a call. And as you now know, hilarity ensued.

But wait! There’s more.

We laughed about it for a while, and then I suggested that I try again, but with VERY CLEAR NON-REGIONAL DICTION (anybody catch that Anchorman reference?). She thought that was a good idea, and I said it would happen when she least expected it, to which she replied, “No. I want you to call me right back after we hang up and try it.”

I felt put on the spot to come up with something to say, but never fear. I went for an old stand-by. That’s right. Lyrics, dude. Recite her some lyrics. (Bill and Ted? Anyone?) I called and left this very clear message:

Rush. Rush. Hurry, hurry lover, come to me. Rush. Rush. I want to feel it. I want to feel you all through me. Oooo, what you do to me.

Here’s what Google thought I said:

Hey Rosh latch hurry hurry love her come to me rush, rash. I want. 2. Feel it. I want. Sincerely you. All the room with me. Ohh. What You do to me.

I give up.

If You Want to Get Married, Come Live with Me

Seriously, since I moved to Raleigh, ALL of my roommates have gotten married…except one. W-Josh, you’re up next!!

I just got home from L-Josh’s wedding, which was lots of fun. Good food, good friends, good weather, I looked cute, Josh got hitched, there was champagne, and I caught the bouquet. I’d call that a successful day, wouldn’t you? Not that catching the bouquet means much. I think I’ve caught at least four in my life, and…tick-tock, tick-tock…here I still am. But it is nice to have fresh flowers in the house, so I’m not complaining.

The thing about the bouquet toss is that so many single gals make out like it’s such an embarrassment to be up there. They make the announcement: “Would all the single ladies please come to the dance floor? ALL THE SINGLE LADIES, COME TO THE DANCE FLOOR NOW FOR THE BOUQUET TOSS.” And maybe three people slink to the dance floor for what they view as the parade of the unmarriagables. But I decided several years ago that if it’s going to be a tradition you have to do at every flippin’ wedding, you may as well make it fun.

So I get REALLY into it. Like stomping-on-flower-girls-who-get-in-my-way into it. I box out my opponents, which, incidentally, is the only time a basketball skill has ever come in handy in my life, including the years I actually played basketball. It’s more fun that way. You get to engage in a little healthy competition, make a slight idiot of yourself and take home fresh flowers. It just feels good.

So Buddy Towne is now down to two Joshes, and even though L-Josh’s stuff is still here, she is gone. I can feel it. I’m happy for her, but sad for us. But hey, at least I get my own bathroom, right? There’s always a bright side.


I’m not calling it a snow day because there is absolutely no snow outside, but apparently there’s enough ice on the roads for Wake Tech to close. I’m not arguing. I wouldn’t have been upset if I’d had to go to work today – it’s only the 2nd day of class, so I’m not ready for a break yet – but I will pretty much never argue with an unexpected day off.

And I’m proud of Raleigh for having learned its lesson when it comes to ice. When I moved back to NC from NY six years ago, it was right around this time. I blogged about it very briefly here. You don’t have to read it. The important part is that I went to Greenville to buy my car, and when I was driving it back to Raleigh, the same thing was happening that happened yesterday/last night – ice. And it took me NINE HOURS to make a trip that should have taken an hour and a half. It was crazy. It took people 8-10 hours to get across town, kids had to sleep in the gym at school, teachers had to stay there with them, people ran out of gas, people had to stay in hotels because they couldn’t make it all the way home from work, there were wrecks all over the place.

And all because nobody took the weather seriously. They all thought, “Oh, it’s just going to snow a little. We can handle that.” But now they’ve learned their lesson. Ice don’t play. If it’s icy, you stay home. You stay home in your jabambas, and you eat cinnamon orange rolls by the fire.

Done and done. And I think L-Josh and I have invented a new mixed drink. We call it Bourbonade. We haven’t actually made it (because we don’t have half the necessary ingredients, most notably the bourbon), but in our minds, it’s bourbon, sugar, water, and a squeeze of lemon…on the rocks. We came up with it through a series of imaginary conversations with our new neighbor, Jackson.

Because he has such a southern name, we always pretend to invite him over for southern-sounding things in a really thick, sugary, Georgia accent. Or maybe Alabama. Sometimes we invite him over for mint juleps, sometimes for lemonade, sometimes for bourbon. Well, today we combined the lemonade and the bourbon invitations and invented Bourbonade. I think it just might work.

Feel free to experiment with your own Bourbonade recipe and report back. And if you want to come over and sip a Bourbonade by our fire, we’ll be here all day. You’ll have to bring the bourbon and lemon, but we’ve got plenty of sugar and ice.

2011 Reading List

I’d been feeling like my life had developed a large void where fictional books ought to be. I read a fair amount, but mostly I gravitate towards memoirs, humor, books about writing, and Christian non-fiction. And then suddenly, I needed to read fiction. What probably happened was that my brain knew it was turning to mush because I’d spent several days watching several seasons of Friends, and my brain decided it needed to tell me to read something as a last ditch effort to save itself before it turned to goo and oozed out of my ears.

I wanted a good story I could just lose myself in – a page turner – nothing that required a degree in philosophy to fully enjoy, but nothing so vacuous and formulaic as Nicholas Sparks either. So I turned to my facebook friends for advice, and here’s what I’ll be reading this year:

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • Rescue by Anita Shreve
  • Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream both by Francine Rivers
  • Into the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French
  • Silent in the Grave by Deanna Rayborn
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • The Magicians by Les Grossman
  • Monster by A Lee Martinez
  • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams
  • The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
  • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • The Confession by John Grisham
  • Lush Life by Richard Price
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

I don’t know if I’ll actually get to them all, but I’ll try to give y’all a book report after each one. Starting now…

At the advice of another friend who did not chime in on the facebook discussion, I just read Phantoms by Dean Koontz. Now. I asked him specifically if it was a book girls would like, and he said he didn’t see why not. What I should have asked was, “Will girls who are reading it alone late at night in a quiet house like it?” But he probably wouldn’t have seen a problem with that either.

Y’all. That mess freaked. Me. Out. It’s not even that the writing is all that good. It’s long-winded, he repeats details unnecessarily, homeboy’s editor seriously should have removed half the profanity (he actually probably did, and what was left was quite minimal in comparison to the original manuscript, which is frankly scarier than the plot itself), the characters’ names stole the spotlight from the action, he used the word “said” almost every time someone said something (answered, replied, stated, exclaimed, queried, asked, wondered aloud, whispered, breathed, shouted – just a random sample of alternatives), and don’t get me started on his flagrant overuse of adverbs.

However, when you’re reading a plot like that in a dark, silent house alone, it doesn’t matter that the writing isn’t perfect. All that matters is that you don’t want “it” to get you like it got everyone in Snowfield.

I got into it. So help me I got really, really into it. Then Whitney got into it too.

I was telling her about it as I was getting ready to go to bed on Saturday night, and she agreed that it was not a good suggestion for me to read. But then on Sunday afternoon, somehow we started reading it aloud to each other, and before we knew it, we’d read nearly 200 pages. I won’t lie. It was better than TV. You might feel silly at first, but seriously, try it. If you have a spouse or friend or roommate who’s willing to read with you, go for it.

In our case, reading aloud made the monster less scary, I think because we weren’t left alone with our imaginations. But it was really fun to get into the story together. Also, there were several parts where, alone, we might have just glossed over the wording, but when we read it out loud, we could hear just how ridiculous it sounded. This provided us with some levity as well as a great deal of entertainment.

All in all, on a scale of one to five, I’d give Phantoms by Dean Koontz two stars for holding my attention from start to finish, keeping me guessing until the end, and freaking me the cuss out. **