Category Archives: love

A quarter of a century ago

Twenty-five years is a such long time, over half of my lifetime.

On September 2, 1992 the temperature was somewhere in the 80s, a nice sunny California fall day. It was warm enough that I was glad that my simple white dress was made of cotton lawn fabric and had short sleeves as we snapped a few photos after our wedding ceremony in the midday sun.

There were so many things I didn’t know that day as I knelt at an altar and agreed to the LDS vows of a forever marriage. For example I would have been devastated to know that three close family members who were present at the ceremony would die too soon. My father would only live two more years because of pancreatic cancer, I would lose my brother-in-law to lymphoma five years later, and my grandmother a decade after that. I couldn’t foresee that I would move more than 15 times in those 25 years or that the wedding gift that I received that day, of a sewing machine from my mother, would become one of the very few possessions that would travel with me for each of those moves.  And of course it was completely beyond my imagination that the eternal wedding vows I agreed to that day would, seventeen years later, be erased by the action of a stake president when he excommunicated my spouse from the LDS Church, or that a year after that I would file for a civil divorce.

Perhaps above all, I could not have imagined that 25 years later I would find myself sitting in a sleeveless polka-dotted sundress in a hipster cafe in Los Angeles sipping a latte, once again a newlywed, as Stijn and I discussed which light fixture would look best in our living room.

Reader, I married him

Just as I was beginning to plan our wedding a few weeks ago, this post came out from Clothilde about her simple Paris wedding.  What she said about planning her event in two months was similar to the timeline that we set for ourselves, and I felt empowered by her thoughts about keeping things simple and “100% you.” Our version of this was a bit different, because of being in SoCal, so here are the choices that we made:

-we’ve worn “wedding” rings for 5+ years (since he first proposed as we watched the sun set one evening at Griffith Park), so that was one thing we didn’t have to worry about for the marriage.  My ring is a vintage eternity band, from the ’20s.  Stijn’s ring is a simple silver band.

-for a few weeks I struggled with what to wear. I’d thought a cocktail dress would be more befitting our stage of life than a traditional white dress, but after looking and looking, I couldn’t settle on anything that felt right. I wore myself out dress shopping (note: I tire of shopping pretty easily).  One afternoon I was thinking about my favorite short story, Isak Dinesen’s “The Blank Page,” and it occurred to me that a simple white dress was what I wanted as I was about to begin the next chapter of my life (something that hinted at so many as-yet-untold stories):

It is in front of this piece of pure white linen that the old princesses of Portugal — worldly wise, dutiful, long-suffering queens, wives and mothers — and their noble old playmates, bridesmaids and maids-of-honour have most often stood still… 

The dress I settled on was a silk a-line floor length gown from J.Crew.  It was light and easy-to-wear for those two very long days of wedding happenings.

-we held our wedding celebrations at our 1921 bungalow-style home in Old Town Orange.  While hard in some ways (parking? food prep? one guest bathroom?), our home is so much a part of who we are, that nothing else would have felt right. We were fortunate to have perfect 75-degree weather and the wisteria and bougainvillea brought tons of color to the pergola in our backyard. Also, we used All-American Party Rental to augment our supply of party goods, and they were wonderful to work with.



-we scheduled a civil ceremony at the historic Santa Ana courthouse.  It’s a gorgeous space and we both love history and this reinforces our local ties.  Plus, it was a no-hassle way to do the business of marrying.  I was surprised by how beautiful it felt to take Stijn’s hands and recite vows as I looked into his eyes.  Our family sat on rows of pews around us.
flowers and bracelets

-for our reception we served drinks (sparkling water, juice, champagne, beer, wine) and cake.  The cakes were from Blackmarket Bakery: Total Eclipse, Citrus Tang and Straight Up Vanilla.  Were I to do it over again I would double the order of the Citrus and cancel the Vanilla (which was tasty but not ohmigawd tasty like the other two).  Several guests mentioned that the Total Eclipse chocolate cake was one of the most decadent that they had ever tried, and others complimented the fact that the cakes were rich but not too sweet.

-for the wedding dinner chefStijn and chefCharlie cooked a traditional Belgian dish, vol-au-vent.vol-au-ventThey also served a variety of cold salad starters and a cheese course accompanied by loaves of Stijn’s own handmade rustic sourdough bread.  While I don’t necessarily recommend cooking your own wedding dinner(!), anyone who knows Stijn can understand why this was what he wanted to do. That Charlie was there to lend a hand (and also his partner and honorary bridesmaid Bonny) is why we were able to pull this off…

dinner time

-both our engagement and wedding photos were taken by longtime friends, who understood me and my style.  D’Arcy‘s colorful shots captured our home well (and were perfect for our event invitation) and Brenda’s classical eye matched the look of the old-timey courthouse venue.


-for my something borrowed, I wore vintage gold bracelets (handed down from grandmothers and great-aunts) on loan from some women that I’ve known for many years.  I loved wearing something so old and precious for the occasion.

-because we have just about everything we could possibly need or want, we asked guests to consider two nontraditional options in lieu of gifts.  The first was to bring books for our Little Free Library, the second was to consider a donation to RIF (Reading is Fundamental) or to First Book (see Although I don’t yet have a definitive tally, my rough estimate is that about $500 was donated to these organizations as the result of our wedding.  Of course we also received many sweet cards and gifts (especially plants, wine, kitchen goods and gift cards), and we have enjoyed each one of them.

-we married on a Friday (the exact 6 year anniversary of our first date) and that night we escaped to The Ranch in Laguna Beach, where we had dinner and sat in front of the fire sipping wine and hardly believing that we were actually married.  It was a perfect relaxed but not-too-far-away setting for that first night together as a couple.

fire and wine

-most importantly, our wedding included so many beloved friends and family members and this is what made it truly memorable.  I marveled at how far many had traveled and how enthusiastic they were about supporting our union.  These past 6 years, since meeting Stijn, have held so many highs and lows, and it’s those people who’ve been ‘there’ for us (both in-person and virtually) who have made this all come together.

the crowd

As for what it feels like to be married to Stijn…I’ll undoubtedly write more about that in the future.  It is not a small thing to combine families and traditions that span the breadth of the globe. Yet for now it has hardly sunk in and I am eager to see what’s next for the two of us as we chart the rest of our lives together.

in de boter vallen…

A dutch-speaking friend recently told me that, based on recent happenings in my life, “met zijn gat in de boter vallen,” which translated literally would mean something like “I’ve fallen into the butter.”  The connotation of this idiom is that I’ve had an unexpected amount of good fortune.

She’s right, in so many ways. Most days bring delight and adventures that exceed anything that I would have predicted for myself a few years ago.

Perhaps the richest part of things right now is the expansion of my world to include strong ties to Europe, and a growing feeling of my second home being in Brussels, here:

BrusselsThere is much fortune that comes from being linked to places that are located on nearly-directly opposite sides of the globe–I feel an expansion of experience and possibilities that’s unlike what I felt when my world was more tightly tied to SoCal.  There’s deep satisfaction from having a suitcase always at the ready, and to feel at ease hurtling through the night and shaking off the jetlag that follows.

But some days it’s hard to have a heart that spans longitudes.  When I’m here, I long for there.  When I’m there, I miss out on so much that’s here.  Those days, like today, I stand in my closet and bury my face in clothes that still carry that damp smell of a home built of stone and plaster.  Where there is a loaf of bread from the local bakery on the kitchen counter.  The loaf is half-gone and there are crumbs scattered on the cutting board.  I take a slice and spread a thick layer of butter, then sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper.  I take a bite.  And another.  And another.

hope there’s someone…

There’s something about Antony & the Johnson’s, that when they come onto my Spotify station I start to feel a bit more raw and tender (and vulnerable). Not such a bad thing to happen, a strong reminder of the people that I care the most about:

What music does that for you?


Given that today is National Coming Out Day, it seemed time for this post that’s been brewing in my mind (and in my drafts folder) for awhile… 

I’ve spoken a bit about dating and relationships on my blog over the past two years, but largely I’m keeping that part of my life private from my online presence.  The reasons for my doing so are various, but are mostly due to my desire to keep personal things personal (which feels right after having lived such a public life on this blog for several years).  And for the record I’m in a relationship right now, so this post is not intended as an advertisement for a dating partner.

So what I want to say is simply this: since my marriage ended and I began dating again, sometimes I’ve dated men and sometimes I’ve dated women.

Because, what I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I have attraction for many different types of people.  And I’ve also learned that it’s a delightful position to be in, at this middle stage of my life, to have the opportunity to pursue those varied attractions in new relationships.  Yes, there have been a few awkward moments in this process and I’ve experienced a few of the challenges that same-sex couples navigate, but for the most part I live in a community where this simply isn’t an issue.  And for that I’m grateful.  Because I think any of us should be able to follow the path of attraction and love, even when it’s not a typical one.

For those brave people who have fought for GLBTIQ rights and freedoms–for those who have agitated and marched and exited closets only to find yourself homeless or unemployed or bullied, I owe you so much.  Thank you.  Thank you for making this world one in which I am free to pursue romance with whomever I want to, without the fear of consequences.


because it’s that time of year…

Since it’s almost V-Day, I’ve got romance on the brain…

Last year around this time, my friends helped me to create a list of criteria for a future partner.  It was a fun exercise to see what they hoped for me, to add a few of my own desires, and to comment when I think they missed the mark.

Based on my dating experiences since then, I’ve added a few things to my list:

  • I’d like my partner to be flexible and adaptable.  To be the kind of person that when you take a wrong turn when you’re heading somewhere, doesn’t panic or get angsty.  But who sees it as an opportunity to explore somewhere that neither of you had anticipated.
  • Enjoying good food is a must.  Having an adventurous palate and knowing one’s way around the kitchen is also pretty important.  Because I get so much pleasure from creating and eating food, I want a partner who can appreciate the effort that goes into preparing a meal, and who enjoys the subtleties of spice and fresh ingredients.
  • I’d like for my partner to be a naturally happy person, whose default mood tends toward the positive and who radiates enthusiasm.  While we all have our down days, I like being around people who feel hopeful, and for whom negative experiences are an exception rather than the norm.  They should smile often and easily, and even be prone to fits of occasional giggling.
  • I also want my partner to be passionate.  About their life, their work, their hobbies, their goals, and their future.  Ok, and a little passion for me should be somewhere in there, too  🙂

One thing that was a surprise to me this past year, was the realization that dating inside of the ivory tower isn’t a necessity–because for a long time I only imagined myself with another professor-type.  Since then I’ve learned that I spend so much time with other academics, it’s actually quite refreshing to get outside of that bubble.  But…on the flip side, I’ve found that some of the non-academic people that I’ve dated don’t like hanging out with intellectuals, or are intimidated by a group of friends who all have advanced degrees.  So I’d have to say that anyone I date that’s from outside that world, needs to also appreciate that my social circle tends to revolve around the university, and not find that too daunting.

This dating stuff has been quite a wild ride.  I’ve found some people who were “right” in all of my categories but for whom I had zero romantic attraction.  And then there were those who were so different from me that I didn’t even know what we find to talk about, but who made me so weak in the knees that I didn’t care much at all about the conversation.  And of course, I have found those that I was attracted to both mind and body (and what a delight).

I never expected to go through dating or courtship again after I settled on marrying John, so this has been totally unexpected phase of life…but also one that’s both more exciting and more satisfying than I could have ever imagined.

While I’m still not thrilled that my ex left me, I am glad that I get to choose a new partner now.  Especially being so much wiser and more practical than I was at age 18 when what was paramount in my future husband was that he was a faithful Mormon.

Previous Valentine’s Day posts



holding hands

Will be taking a bit of a break from blogging for a few days.  Because I need some time to just be with the people that I care about–for walks on the beach and hand-holding and long talks and pie-baking and sitting around the fireplace (as well as for finishing to unpack from our move and to get acquainted with our new foster-kitty, Demeter).

Such happy reasons for an online absence.   🙂

when you hear that unmistakable pounding…


West Wind #2

You are young.
So you know everything.
You leap into the boat and begin rowing.
But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment,
without any doubt,
I talk directly to your soul.
Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water,
let your arms rest,
and your heart,
and heart’s little intelligence,
and listen to me.

There is life without love. It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life
toward it.

~ Mary Oliver ~

At night…

One of my favorite aspects of being in Provence was walking around the old cities late at night, when lanterns threw such charming shadows on the old buildings.  Typically, I was more than a little warmed by local wine as we wandered up and around cobblestone streets, which certainly added a bit of magic to the experience.

This photo is a bit blurrier than most I snapped on those long walks, but I love how it captures the washed-out romance of the night.  Now, if only I could add the loud hum of cicadas and the smell of water splashing in corner fountains and the sight of a few kitties peering down at me from red tile rooftops and an orange crescent moon growing larger every night that I was there.  And maybe you can imagine me taking it all in, wide-eyed and smiling, hardly believing that I wasn’t simply dreaming such beauty.

Last night in Europe…

I didn’t take my camera with me last night, the final night of my Europe trip.  I’d had a long day of snapping pictures and sightseeing in Bruges, and I needed a change.  I was also realizing how, sometimes, being behind the lens stops me from actually experiencing and feeling what’s happening around me.  So I left the camera at home, put on a fancy dress and stockings, and headed to a  gourmet restaurant for a few hours of food-gasm.

Everything tasted so good (artichokes, shrimp, Swiss beef…), the wine was smooth, the service impeccable.   I sopped every last drip of sauce with slices of fresh bread.  My face was flushed with much pleasure as I stepped out onto the breezy dark streets of Brussels, to join new friends at a local bar. They mostly asked me stories about my LDS upbringing–so curious about the Book of Mormon and ancient-modern prophets.  And I told them how, when I was Mormon I never could’ve imagined that someday I would have professional and personal opportunities that would bring me to foreign cities, or that I would even have a paycheck of my own. Back then I couldn’t have comprehended a night that would include so much pleasure, so much culture, so much living.

I got teary-eyed several times yesterday, mostly because I wasn’t yet ready to go home. But also because of the intensity of change…I lack the words to describe how I’m feeling.  Like now, having just arrived home and I’m here sitting in my living room and burying my face in the blue shawl that I wore throughout my trip…and am hoping that it will long retain the scent of last night.