Reading and Learning Together

Reading and Learning Together

September had been a rough month for us. I haven’t got to see much of Ms. Coco because of her commute, work schedule, and her travel commitments. These commitments have put a strain on her, myself, and our relationship in ways I didn’t realize until recently.

We decided to read several books this month that the other person recommended. Books have been a comfort to me this month while I miss my very busy partner. I have also been scribbling in them, ways to ease her burden of work and commuting so we have more time together. I’ve even scribbled down some calculations about how much time Ms. Coco spend commuting every day to see if there are some ways to get some of that time back.

The first book she recommended was Whatever Happened To Interracial Love? By: Kathleen Collins. This book was very confusing to me at first but looking back on it several of the short stories stood out.

Recommended to me by my significant other was not something I would have read, but I’m glad I did. While some of the stories were hard to read and follow, I liked how the author used her style and voice to create a unique experience.

In one of the short stories, Collins uses racial differences to paint an exciting narrative about two roommates and their interracial lovers.

In another short story, Lifelines, Collines uses letters from her Characters Husband to add a fun twist to her stories about a married woman and her husband who lives overseas. They are corresponding about selling her families house in the Adirondacks. The two characters have a different view of why they are selling the home. She is excellent at putting emotions into these stories.

The second book I read was The Magnolia Story By Chip and Joanna Gaines. This book surprised me.

Another recommendation, not something I would have looked twice at if I hadn’t watched their TV show. This book had some great lessons, and I enjoyed reading it.

It follows the story of Chip and Joanna’s journey of building their relationship, business, and family together. The narrative jumps back and forth between Chip and Joanna telling the story with Joanna contributing the majority of the story.

My favorite part of this book is how Chip and Joanna struggled with their dating life, marriage, and even kids. Build their business also put stress on their life but they found a way to overcome it all together and where stronger for it.

Three great pieces of advice I got from this book.
1. Don’t own a TV, if you want to be productive, quality time is more important.
2. Sometimes you have to leap of faith.
3. Keep on going, and you will find a way.

The next book that Ms. Coco chose for me was “How to Be Married” by Jo Piazza. It’s about the lessons she learned during her first year of marriage while she traveled around the world asking for marriage advice from people in many different cultures. Surprisingly some of the information in this book Ms. Coco and I have already received much as Jo Piazza did. I’ll tell you more next time.

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Routines and Comfort Zone

Routines and Comfort Zone

I know when my favorite TV Game of Thrones comes on. Sunday night, and I know I’m usually free and can rely on where I’m going to be to watch it. If something happens, I know I may watch it the next day too.

I have lots of little routines like this in my life. It’s my comfort zone. Sometimes I get out of my comfort zone, something disrupts it, and I have to adjust for that. Sometimes the adjustment is very modest, like leaving my cell phone in another room so it doesn’t distract me before I got to bed so I can have a restful nights sleep.

Other times the disruption is much larger and can change how I think or make me reevaluate what I believe. I don’t always understand emotions or feelings that I have let alone those of other people. I think emotional intelligence is an important skill to have and is not one I have mastered. Ms. Coco and I often have different views on the world and different reactions to things. I try very hard to understand how she sees the world and why she feels a certain way, I’m not sure how successful I am at either one of these indevours.

This month has been full of new routines, chores, and experiences. You think that being with someone for a year or two even you would have an understanding of who they are, what they are thinking, and how they feel. Ms. Coco and I are always surprising each other with new challenges both actual and hypothetical. These tests can be easy to overcome at times or sometimes become a recurring disruption.

Sometimes I worry that a disruption will be too large for us and it will fundamentally change how we feel about each other. I have faith in her to be able to adjust to my lack of understanding, and I know Ms. Coco will eventually forgive me for my lack of empathy at times. But I still worry that things will change which keeps out of my comfort zone, I’m hoping that never actually changes so that I can continue to try to improve my understanding of her and her life.

Moving In

Moving In

September is going to be all about moving and chores. We have been working all this week on packing boxes, dismantling furniture, and packing up an oversized truck. We also need to create a system for household chores. There are tasks that I don’t like doing, just like I know Ms. Coco has things she would prefer that I took care of, I know I can’t stand that nasty device called a vacuum.

This last week we have been moving. We finale decided keeping two sperate houses didn’t make sense because we spent all our time in one location. I did like the commuting back and forth between our separate places every couple days but our Poodle puppy Mr. Bates isn’t so fond of it, and Mr. Bates is not welcome at one of our houses because of their policy against dogs.

Ms. Coco told me she hates the idea of moving, to be clear not moving in with me, but physically packing and moving stuff. I offered to take care of the majority of it if she could help out a little. Me packing and moving seemed to work out ok for the most part, but Ms. Coco and I have different ideas when it comes to packing. Ms. Coco would rather use the throw everything away approach or throw away most of her stuff and then pack the rest up in well-labeled boxes that are preferable unpacked by someone else. I’m more the load everything into a truck and then just get it into the new location and find out where it goes later.

I know that moving is stressful for her. She has told me this several times. I was trying to limit how much stress she felt while moving. I don’t know how well I did, but I hope she will want to oversized with me again in the future. I hope there is an another move together in our future; she is my most valuable asset, and I would not feel at home without her.

The Purge…by Ms. Coco

The Purge…by Ms. Coco

September is halfway over, and it seems like we haven’t done an update in a while. The Gentleman Farmer and I traveled to Cuba during August and didn’t focus on a specific challenge. I think our month was challenging enough with everything else happening in our lives. I had a great time in Cuba. It wasn’t at all like I expected…but I don’t think I had too many expectations from the beginning. Food was delicious – most places – drinks were flowing, and people were living it up with what they had. It is a beautiful country, and I am saddened Hurricane Irma destroyed many parts of the island last week.

This month the Gentleman Farmer and I are focusing on household chores. I have finally moved in with him, officially, and we are adjusting to this new dynamic of our relationship. I cannot speak for him, but some things are easier than I thought, and others – not so much. Our cohabitation is the first time I have lived with anyone other than family, and there are certain things one should get acquainted.

I believe I am overwhelmed by the idea of moving. When I prepared to go to Kentucky, I freaked out – didn’t pack anything but towels – and my family had to pack for me. The GF suggested that I allow him to pack for me since I get anxious about the move. In theory, it sounds fine. However, when I move I purge items, I do not want to carry into a new space. The GF is not that way. He throws items into any box in an unknown fashion to me. So my anxious behind packed a lot of boxes and then unpacked them at our newly shared residence. My concern when moving in is where do I place all of my treasured items? I have purged all that I want, and I am down to my necessities. I don’t want them to be placed into a room like I only live in that one space, or kept in a box, or maintained in a casual space because there is nowhere else that it belongs. And that includes piled on a table until we get tired of looking at it. It’s a work in progress, I know.

With household chores, I had a system when living alone. I mainly cleaned on Sundays after church. I did laundry, cleaned the bathroom and living room, and deep cleaned the kitchen. Now that it is two of us, I try to keep areas more functional than if I was alone. The Gentleman Farmer cooks most of the meals, so I offer to clean afterward. I like to do laundry, so I will wash, dry, and fold clothing. The only thing I will not do is put the GF’s clothes away. I know where he puts them, but he likes to get dressed in different parts of the house. Also, I try to respect that he may like his belongings in a particular place. The Gentleman Farmer handles the handiwork – as well as attempts to share his knowledge with me – inside and outside of the house.

All in all, I think the transition has fewer bumps than I thought. I have realized over the course of my adult life that I like to find my stuff where I left it or have a place for it, I want to feel lived in a space I inhabit, and I want to feel respected. Those things will not change. We gon be alright – shoutout to Kendrick Lamar – if we remember to respect each other’s belongings, space, and feelings.

Viva la Wifi in Habana

Viva la Wifi in Habana

I miss communism. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to live in a communist country at least not all the time. On first impression life in Cuba is much slower than the U.S. Our first day in country and you can tell we are some serious differences. It was like stepping back in time 50 years, a time before computers and the internet.

Our first experience with a drastic societal difference was when we went to eat our first day. As Americans; we are used to fast, prompt, and detailed service, when dining out. Our first lunch in Cuba was everything we were unaccustomed to experiencing when dining. It was slow, very slow; our server sat us in the small section of the restaurant that was air-conditioned and then left. While we waited, we noticed that all the plates, silverware, and cups were quite dusty and most of the items on the menu were not available. Our meal was long almost three and half hours. None of our food came out at the same time, and there were no apologies made for any of it, this is just how Cuba is, no need to rush and you eat what’s available.

The laid-back feel of Cuba would be something we would slowly get used to over the week-long trip. We had to learn to settle into 2-3 hour meals. We were, after all enjoying a luxury that most Cubans rarely, if ever, experienced eating at some the nicest restaurants in Cuba.

Cuba is a throw-back to simpler times a time before the internet. I would not say “the good old days” a phrase that irks me every time I hear it. But a time before we were all addicted to our smartphones and devices. Regression can be a bit jarring, we have so much to distract us from our everyday life and problems, and when it all taken away what do we do. We talked to each other, we argued with each other and had some great times exploring Cuba without worrying about recording every second of it for social media.

I enjoyed the change of pace for a bit. Like going camping for the weekend. At first, it is enjoyable to be out in the woods and enjoying nature in all its beauty, but then mosquitoes start biting you, it starts raining, and you have to dig a hole in the woods to use the bathroom. You start to miss home and all the luxury and amenities that affords. I missed being home but I want to remember what it was like to be in Cuba where things are hard to come by, access is limited to the internet, and people still have to entertain themselves. I don’t think it will be long before Cuba changes, although I kind of hope it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure we will never know those simpler times again.

 

 

5…6…7…Hold…by Ms. Coco

5…6…7…Hold…by Ms. Coco

In my last post I stated an exercise I wanted to incorporate into the Gentleman Farmer’s daily routine. We talk for five minutes uninterrupted about whatever is on our minds. Oftentimes we do this without having an actual timer. I think it’s pretty easy but sometimes the GF has trouble filling up his time. I chalk this up to men using less words to describe what’s important to them. However, we’ve done this for two weeks without missing a day. I think this definitely helps us to connect in ways we may not be aware. Case in point; the GF and I were working on what the Gottman Institute calls “love maps.” This love map is a series of questions that allows partners to see/realize where their partners are emotionally. One question asked was describe your partner’s day in great detail. We knew that about each other because we discussed our day hours before during our five minute exercise. We realize our stressors, cares, concerns, and accomplishments in those 10 minutes on a daily basis. 

Another update: salsa. Like the Gentlenan Farmer and I both stated, we’ve had a great time dancing. I more so have learned how my dancing impacts my partner’s thoughts and feelings about our relationship. I always think I have the best intentions and am displaying them in ways he can understand. However, that isn’t the case. We both have learned that we have to do more, be more, and act more in ways that we both understand to have a solid relationship. This came from our salsa classes! I’m staring my babe in the eyes, smiling and wishing he’d look back at me while he’s learning new steps and is concerned with leading us to be the best dancers we can possibly be. We are both learning to dance with each other but also I want to have the most fun with the person I’m with while doing justice to this very cultural dance. Whew! That’s hard sometimes. Emotions are high and the pressure is on! Haha. I want to be seen as the person I see myself as….including being a beautiful dancer. We’ll get there yet. We went to a dance showcase of other students from the Salsa Center. They did an amazing job and I see us up there soon! Why not?!?! 

Our trip to Cuba is next week! I’m excited to spend time with my sister and her boyfriend, two of my friends, and, of course, the Gentleman Farmer. The beach is my happy place and I hope we will have many sunny days ahead with lots of learning about the culture and people of Cuba. I imagine us dancing in the streets, going to the market, sunbathing, museums, food, and lots of fun! 

Forward Basic

Forward Basic

Ms. Coco and I have dived into Salsa dancing this month. We have done several private lessons with our salsa instructor. We are preparing for our trip in August.

They say if you can dance together then you can do anything together. I think, how well you dance also tells a lot about how well you will work together.

Sometimes in life, we get grumpy or frustrated. I feel like I get grumpy more than most. I liken it to the bell curve of life, sometimes you are on the up slope, and everything is fine, at others you are on the down slope reverting to the mean. If you can learn to dance with your partner through life cycles, then you’ll be ok.

Dancing with style and grace is not always easy. When you first learn the Salsa basics, there are specific step to follow. In life, love, and relationships there are also generally accepted steps to follow.

First, you have to find the beat in salsa. We do this with a halftime step that’s not as quick as the music so we can get on the beat.

The leader of the dance signals to move into the first step, usually something basic and easy. A forward and backward step that one dancer must lead and the other must follow. Dancing can be awkward at first as you learn to move and dance together. It’s not just about learning the steps, but how to hold yourself, and how to signal your partner as well. If I want my partner to turn, I try to squeeze her hand one count before the turn, so she knows it’s coming.

Like relationships sometimes we miss the signals and have to catch up find our way back to what our partner is doing. It’s not important if our steps are right but that we enjoy dancing with each other.