Category Archives: relationships

Other people’s words: Plástico

Been thinking a lot lately about the key refrain in Rubén Blades and Willie Colón’s song Plástico. In salsa music, there’s a section of the lyric voiced by the singer then repeated by band members that (as I’ve heard) drives home the key lyric of a song.

In the case of Plástico

Se ven las caras, pero nunca el corazón.
You see the faces, but never the heart.

The song uses it a couple different ways, but what struck me is how this illustrates the necessity of communication and action in order for people to know you–people see your face but not your heart when they look at you. Your heart can’t be seen unless you make it visible through your actions or your efforts to connect with other people (verbally, bloglike, ims, whatever).

When I was a teenager, I naively thought that people just saw quality when it was there. I still think that’s possible, but I don’t think it happens nearly as often as we’d like. Life’s busy and we don’t have time to examine people that aren’t talking to us or interacting with us or others closeby. You can have a great heart, but if you don’t let the world see it through your action, people will only ever see your face.


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Second shift

Another blog comment run long.

A friend of mine recently posted about one of the benefits she sees in not being married yet. (She wants very much to be married, making this an especially interesting post.) Summary version: Working her office job and coming home tired and not wanting to cook, clean, or do other household stuff, and just wanting to unwind is providing her with experiences that will help her empathize with her husband in the future. When he gets home from work not wanting to do anything but unwind, she’ll know how he feels.

One of the comments says she’s being sexist. To quickly address this (because I can’t help myself)…

  • I didn’t see anything there that said that all women should be homemakers and all men should work in an office, it’s just how she sees her future.
  • If she’s decided she wants to find a guy that works an office job and she wants to stay at home, keep a house and raise children, that’s her choice.
  • It’s just as sexist to assume that a woman shouldn’t aspire to being a stay at home mom as it is to just assume that women should all be stay at home moms. Each woman can decide for herself and y’all can just step off!

Ahora… after noting that being able to empathize with your partner is always helpful (as I see it anyway), I started flashing back to conversations with friends studying to be marriage and family counselors….

Though from what I hear, taking care of kids all day, cooking, cleaning, and maintaining a house isn’t as easy as we sometimes like to think, and whoever stays at home with the kids is probably just as burned out as whoever’s getting home from the office.

I remember talking a lot with friends in marriage counseling about this “second shift.” It’s a time that can really set (or show) the tone of your relationship. When you’re tired and you know your spouse is tired, how do you divide up the work that needs to be done?

How much do you give, how much do you take, and how do you balance it so you don’t drive each other (or yourself) crazy? (Giving all the time doesn’t work nearly as well as we sometimes think.)

Love will make a way, and love certainly helps when you’re working this out in a marriage, but there’s probably things we can do now to make this easier down the road. (Principle still holds for living together, but this was originally written for a marriage minded crowd.)

Whether alone or with roommates, we can learn to do more in the sometimes unfun after work time. Some extra clean up so nobody has to worry about it later, a nice meal without there being a fancy occasion, even if it’s just for one (the process will be roughly the same when it’s 2 or more).

We’re building capacity to do these things when we’re tired (though I’m banking on the exercise leading to less tired). The holy grail here: enjoying the doing. We may never get that far, but even if we “only” develop an attitude of “somebody’s gotta do it sometime, so I’m gonna do it now” that puts us in a good place.

There will be some adjustments to make bringing that into a marriage, since there are hopefully two people with that attitude giving and taking on it.

Now if only I did all these nice idealistic things as well as I idealize about them. Always more work to do.

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6 months

About this time of year I tend to think back to what I was up to 6 months ago and how I’ve used the time. (And ain’t it awesome to finally get some real spring this week! Lucille’s been so excited… convertibles are great.)

This set of 6 ain’t lookin’ too shabby.

  • 6 months ago this weekend, I was in Waveland, MS with a work crew
  • Next day was my birthday
  • Started dating a gal I got to know during the Waveland trip
  • Finished up rehearsals and performed the radio show.
  • In the end we only had two traveling performances with veterans, but it was cool to talk with the WWII, Korea and Vietnam vets (the younger, more recent vets all came to the Roswell shows)
  • Did a great karaoke rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody with Jey and Cliff in front of all our friends
  • Followed by a really sucky version of Don’t Stop Me Now, which was supposed to be the easy one
  • Finally went contra dancing… or was that more than 6 months ago
  • Got back into superhero comic books something proper… thanks to DC’s Infinite Crisis event
  • Saw my comic book shop of choice close its doors forever
  • Dumped City of Heroes to start playing World of Warcraft with my friends from Tech and GSU
  • Got so busy with church stuff that I haven’t played WoW in a couple months, leaving my little gnomish trade empire in shambles
  • Had a great Thanksgiving with most of my family (so great it was even okay that we were in Utah)
  • Finally got to meet my li’l sisters boyfriend and realized that he really should be a full member of the family… when they’re ready
  • Started listening to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books on my iPod. Fun, fun stuff, especially the ones read by Nigel Planer
  • Left Comcast cable service for Dish Network, been very happy with it
  • Broke up with the aforementioned gal I’d been dating, learned some interesting things along the way
  • Had a great Christmas with Mom, Dad, Adam and Heather (even though Eric and Jo didn’t come… even though it was our year this year)
  • But we had a rousing round of We Three Kings, which made us feel okay about being abandoned
  • Purchased The Chosen Collection just as it went off the market, have celebrated by watching Angel instead when there’s TV time, because for whatever reason, I like that Buffyverse series more
  • Saw off my quorum instructor, as he moved into a new neighborhood where he, his wife, and their daughter will own their own house
  • Watched him bless his daughter with his tios, primos, and other family members
  • All of which makes more sense if you know that at the beginning of these six months, he wasn’t really keen on doing churchy stuff at all
  • Got my “professional/official” blog going (the one that’s not this one–where I talk about all that eggheaded information architecture and game stuff)
  • Hit South by Southwest Interactive for the first of as many times as circumstances will permit
  • Which is to say that I went to Texas, messed with it, and returned home safely
  • I got to baptize in the temple a time or two, which I love doing because I love saying the prayer (and all the Spanish names), and trying to make it a special experience for the proxy and the one getting baptized. That and working at the veil are the coolest things a man can do in life… well, almost the coolest
  • Said the occasional thing actually worth saying on the xuhoch blog. Mostly political and politics and religion stuff that felt important… though commenting on friends’ posts has been cool and helped reconnect with folks I’d been a bit alejado from
  • Got a few of the hermanos together before Priesthood session to have ice cream… anybody want popsicles or ice cream sandwiches?
  • I’ve been dressing more how I’d like (comes with that replacing old clothes thing)
  • Which has led to at least a few of those much needed Johnny Bravo moments in front of the mirror
  • Helped Mom and Dad get their media player working again so they could listen to General Conference together
  • Which is to say that Dad’s been making it a priority to listen to conference (even cut short a phone call with me so he could listen)
  • Which isn’t something that I did, but it’s mighty mighty cool
  • Visited some families with our branch president… today we even got to actually talk with a family instead of standing outside doors that wouldn’t open
  • That one makes a lot more sense if you know how awesome he is and how much he’s grown in the past 8 months
  • Was officially re-dubbed Superman at work (due to my failure to stop Katrina and subsequent 05 hurricanes, I was stripped of the title, just got it back on Friday)… it’s a sandwich shop thing, so it’s important but makes no sense without explaining a bit

Yeah, a bit of a haphazard list (for effect of course), but there’s the occasional northern California nugget in there.

I’d like to think I’ve grown, but honestly, I’m around myself too much to see many of the changes. I got more proactive at work and started organizing things with friends from church so I can see them more than just FHE or institute night. I’m socializing a bit more in those amorphous large group situations (post-institute) that I don’t really like. (I really just typed that “out loud,” didn’t I?) I’m getting a better fix on how to encourage the hermanos to get out and visit their home teaching families more faithfully.

Still doesn’t feel like enough though. So much more to do. We’ve got families having tough times, we still haven’t quite worked out how to get everyone on the same web standards “page” at work, spiritual matters could use more attention, as could a number of the friendships that I hardly seem to have time to maintain.

And as Cassiel reminds, there’s that whole “find a girl, have a family” thing, but not all of us have Damiel’s luck on that one. (Of course, Marion doesn’t shine her brightest until the follow up.)

Anyway, looks like I’ve got some things to shoot for these next 6… hope I can hit ’em.

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A friend forwarded me this bitter little vid on talking with girls. Update: the Youtube community has marked this 18+ content due to the violence. To give a brief text alternative… Stick figure women reacting violently to a stick figure guy’s increasingly more timid attempts to converse. Stick figure guy then approaches a woman and says “I have money,” only to be showered with affection.

I probably enjoy it more than I should, but I’d claim that inside every guy there’s a part that’s afraid that women think like that. So I’ll justify my enjoyment by saying it’s a chance to laugh at my fears… or by using fancy german words. (Ain’t schadenfreude grand?)

But I’m curious to see when (if) the flip side of this will show up. The viral about guys being really interested then suddenly ignoring you, being generally cold and unresponsive, freaking out about needing their space, treating you like a consolation prize…

Of course, if we’re to keep with the finish of the original, we need some kind of something that brings the boys in, and the change/magic possession needs to come from fears that women have about what turns guys around.

I know what I’d guess, but I’m actually more curious to find out other folks have to say… not just about the right finish, but what are the right scenarios for the girls’ version of this vid?

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extended family

Just got back from a visit with my… quarta abuela (for lack of a better way to put it). We’re not really family at all, but she’s adopted me as another son or grandson. She’s visiting her daughter and grandchildren (she flies up every few months if she can), and insisted that I come by the house before she flies back home on Saturday.

I know the family pretty well. When I visit I tend to get the kids all wound up to the point that they get in trouble for not calming down and going to bed at a decent time. (They’re young kids and very excitable. I actually wish we could play more without getting in trouble.) I’ve known Efraín, the dad, pretty well for a while now, supporting each other in our church responsibilities. He used to work closely with the missionaries, now he’s a counselor in the branch presidency. I’m president of our priesthood quorum, so we still see each other a decent bit. Sharon, Efraín’s wife leads the Relief Society now, so we’ve gotten to know one another by working together more recently (and last summer she got in this habit of introducing me to every single woman she could find, which was funny, if a bit awkward).

Sharon’s mom (the aforementioned “quarta abuela”) is just one of those great older latin women who loves everybody and wants to know why you don’t come by the house more often. (And if you’re single, like some of us, she talks about how she’s gonna find you a good husband or wife.)

To that end (the coming by the house one), she worked on me a good bit tonight to get me to go visit she and her husband back home in Costa Rica. She’s told me more times than I can count how great it is there and how much I’ll love it. (Judging by her description, the only thing I can think of that might be better is an afternoon at the beach just west of Golden Gate Park, but that’s cuz I get my nature and city fixes all at once, and there’s a great restaurant just a block or two away.) So I need to make some time to go in the next year or two, balancing that with trips to visit relatives… and Heather’s gonna kill me if I don’t make it back to SF one of these days (or at least that’s my current excuse).

Unfortunately, I lost the thread I was tracing here. I’m sure it had something to do with the great part of latin culture that leads everyone to invite people over all the time. Certainly makes me feel appreciated. (Especially those “hey… why haven’t you come over to our house in a while? You come to our house tonight!” moments.)

I still don’t think I’ve got across the flavor of things. There’s just something cool about people telling you how great their country is and how much they think you should visit. (And Costa Ricans have a special talent for it.) It’s even better when you can tell that they’re inviting you because they care about you and want to bring you into their lives that way. (Better still when you feel that same caring for them, and understand what they’re really saying when they invite you over.)

Explaining some of the church culture and jargon

Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) don’t have a paid clergy. Within the church, men and women serve voluntarily, men serving in various offices of the priesthood (all worthy men are priests of one kind or another), women serving in the Relief Society, a women’s service organization. Both organizations are essential to the service work that we do within our congregations and in our communities.

Congregations are called wards or branches, large congregations are generally called wards, smaller ones branches. A branch is led by a branch presidency, consisting of three brothers who hold the primary responsibility of serving the needs of the branch, specifically, leading the Sunday meetings, coordinating with the priesthood and Relief Society to serve the members of the ward, supporting the missionary effort, and attending to the spiritual and ecclesiastical needs of the branch’s members.

The priesthood and Relief Society serve the members of a congregation by organizing visits to each family’s home at least once a month, to see how everyone’s doing, offer help and support with any difficulties the family may be experiencing, encourage family spirituality, and share a brief spiritual message each month. Ideally, it’s an opportunity to become friends with those you visit and invest yourself in their welfare.

Terry Pratchett | Mort

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