My Wonderful Tess

Blog time! And what I’d really love to do is write a bunch about my wonderful wife Tess. Honestly it’s embarrassing looking back at my journals and seeing how little I wrote about her. We dated for 2.5 years! But there is hardly anything. Note It was a low journaling time frame anyway, but I still wrote enough and on days when Tess was definitely in the picture that you’d think I would have mentioned Tess more. Especially because I discussed her at length with all sorts of people in my life on many many occasions.
Tess journals about almost every day consistently (usually 3 days or so at a time, but still). So if I’m dead and you’re reading this to figure out what more of my dating experience with Tess was like, you’ll have to get the nitty gritties from Tessa’s journal. Hopefully she’ll let you read it. Or if she’s dead too and she can’t stop you. If we’re both dead you totally have my permission to read her journal, she’ll doubtless be embarrassed about stuff but I’ll make it up to her up here.
Anyway, when she pointed out my low mention of her I thought about and I realized why. There are two major reasons. First, we didn’t get married until I was 30. As result, I had dated A LOT. You can go back through my journals and find all sorts of details about various other people I dated in the past. And even I got tired of reading about these two great dates I had with so-and-so in one entry, and then my entry two weeks later was just the whole thing didn’t work out and I didn’t have anything more to add. So I all but officially decided not to write about dating stuff unless I was officially dating the girl.
Second, Tess and I weren’t officially dating for most of our our 2.5 year courtship. Which is silly to say, because I called her every night (even after either of us went on a date with someone else), and we went out at least once a week almost the entire duration. So, are these valid reasons for not writing more? Probably not, but that’s what happened haha.
However, now we’ve been married for 7 months! And I want to give a deeper glimpse into our relationship. I’ll probably jump all over with this, sorry in advance.
One big thing that has shaped our relationship both pre and post marriage is each of our disabilities. Mine is obvious, being in a wheelchair makes it harder to go dancing (which Tess loves, and we do at times anyway) or travel, or visit our friends in their homes (which is fine because they’re all happy to come to ours). Tessa’s was alluded lightly to in our dating story posters I posted last August, but it explains a lot of her preferences.
During the six weeks of silence Tess struggled a lot and eventually saw a therapist who diagnosed Tess with a sensory disorder. Basically my understanding of this is that bright lights, loud noises, and physical touch all just impact Tess exponentially more than most people. Everyone’s first instinct (including mine) is just to disregard this and is basically to assume she can shrug it off, it’s just lights or noise, she’ll get over it. And really this approach is probably what Tess would tell you, she doesn’t like special attention, and technically she’ll get over it. Apparently the best she can explain it is when her body gets all this sensory input and she doesn’t know what to do with it, it tenses her up, and shuts her brain down. If Tess and I go to a movie at the movie theater, it tenses her up so much that she comes home and literally shakes for hours at times.
The movie aspect has been particularly interesting because I used to go to the theaters and see pretty much every appropriate movie that came out that interested me, but Tess never wanted to go. Note that she was only diagnosed a year before we were married, so even she didn’t really understand why she didn’t like movie theaters (or more accurately, she didn’t understand why anyone else did) so during most of our dating we didn’t have this base knowledge to frame our understand of experiences on. Even her family doesn’t really seem to grasp this, but they’re learning.
There’s two ways I can think to relate to it. Everyone can relate to whatever noise going on being too loud, like standing right in front of a speaker at a party, or the shock of the sound level in a movie when it first starts. For me, I quickly acclimate to the volume at a movie so easily that the first shocking burst of sound isn’t even a big deal anymore. But I still wouldn’t park in front of a speaker at a dance party. Imagine if our regular noise level feels more like standing in front of a speaker for Tess? If you had to do that for 3 hours straight, it’d leave you tense too.
The other analogy I can think of is sometimes when I’m sick, usually with some sort of fever, my whole body feels sensitive. Or how aware you are of even light touch when you have a bad sunburn. Now, this isn’t to say Tess feels pain at any light touch, you don’t have to treat her like glass, but a lot of touch just seems to have this level of unpleasantness to it. That being said, expectation does seem to mitigate this a lot, to the point where if she’s expecting to hug you it’s not unpleasant, and somehow any touch from me seems ok now (more on this later), but one of her biggest pet peeves is still when old ladies have to hold her arm the whole time they’re speaking to her. Physical touch from strangers is super uncomfortable still.
Oh, one more thing, she apparently has a hard time interpreting what people’s facial expressions mean. It’s probably genetic, at least one of her sisters says she’s the same way. But it makes it a little awkward for her in social circumstances with people you don’t know well when it’s hard to understand their facial cues. Another factor in her being more introverted than me.
That foundation being set, it explains a lot of Tessa’s preferences. She prefers to listen to a show more than watch it because their facial expressions confuse her a bit the first time, she likes shows much more once she knows the whole story because it’s easier to understand their expressions when she knows the full context. She dislikes movie theaters because of the assault of noise and color. She didn’t like hugs because of the surprise touch. She didn’t like being in groups of people over like 4 because the awkwardness of reading faces, plus the likely risk of noise and stranger touch. Etc.
One super interesting exception to all of this though is dance. Apparently people with a sensory disorder benefit greatly from some sort of physically taxing outlet they enjoy. For Tess that is dance, preferably Lindy Hop swing dancing. “But that includes loud noises! And touching strangers! That doesn’t make sense!” Yeah maybe, apparently is it’s the expectation, but she loves it. At dance she knows what to do with all this intense sensory input, that loud beat coming in is the rhythm to dance to. That pressure on the small of your back means they want you to spin, and so on. She loves it, and it’s beautiful to watch her dance.
I’ve known I wanted Tess for a long time. Our first date she gave me a hug, and she sat on my lap and rode to the car, and at the time she seemed totally comfortable with it. Angels must have been there holding back her anxieties on the first date, because it took us around a year after that before I could even lightly put my arm around the back of her chair. I’m grateful I had that experience of what it was like physically if she was comfortable around me, because it helped give the patience to work back up to it.
In dating various different potential concerns popped up and left, but the two biggest most consistent ones I remember talking about a lot was physical touch, and feeling loved. I know physical touch is my number one language of love. And I don’t just mean intimate touch. I mean even with a friend, an excited wave from across the room just seems to carry way less weight for me as a greeting than a hug, or even a hand on the shoulder as they pass by wordlessly without making eye contact. Also, in the hospital they explained that for people who lose sensation in most of their body, touch in the places they can feel tends to become more important than usual. So I double knew I needed touch. Understanding at least that touch was hard for Tess for some reason was a big concern for me.
Feeling loved was the other big one. My number one language of love was already off the table, but even though I was willing to accept that, her not being willing to be a couple didn’t inspire confidence. And her not being ready to be official also meant that I couldn’t regularly express how much I cared about her, or it made her feel bad. I had a handful of people who wanted me to move on from Tess primarily due to this aspect. I just always thought there would be some breakthrough where touch would be completely ok like the first date, and she’d be able to show love for me like I wanted to show for her.
Sorry this blog has been a bit of a drag so far, but here’s where we start ramping up to happier stuff! For the most part I’d say we never made any all at once breakthroughs. We just slowly progressed. This is silly to look back on, but I think the first big step in touch was playing a board game, she let me put my hand between on her knee between her crossed legs and leave it there. Handholding v0.3!  But over time she got used to my hugs, a year or so in she let me put my arm around the back of her chair, then progressively more on her shoulders. Eventually she’d let me kiss her cheek good night if I asked (and I always had to ask), or hold her hands for short bursts if I asked. Then she’d start doing these things even if I didn’t ask, but I could tell it took effort, she was just doing it for me because she understood it meant a lot to me.
At the point we got married, holding hands everywhere felt natural to me. I guess there’s a good chance she’s just super good at faking it now, but it feels to me like she actually enjoys holding hands, or my arm around her, or snuggles in general. Seven months into marriage, our regular morning routine is after whoever gets me out of bed around 6:50ish I remove an armrest on my chair, go back into the bedroom, park next to the bed, and quietly say “I love you” to Tess. If she’s awake enough to hear me (most days) she crawls over and into my lap, places her head on my chest, and we just snuggle silently for 5-10 minutes before i go off to work. I can’t express how grateful I am for little things like this. I’m sure one day we won’t be able to maintain this routine for whatever reason, but this time is very special to me.
Tess also curls up on my lap when I get home from work, when either of us is unhappy or uncomfortable for any reason, or any other number of times. We hold hands on and off as appropriate through church or symphonies or whatever. She kisses me goodbye and kisses me hello.
One of the most common questions we get asked, or our friends get asked if people are afraid to ask us, is “can you have sex?” And the answer is yes. I won’t go into detail on marriage only level intimacy, but even here we are doing wonderfully. Anyone who could see the frequency or depth of our physical intimacy now wouldn’t worry about us at all :).
As for feeling loved. For the longest time the only real indicator I had that she liked me was that she’d answer every night when I’d call, resist ending the call, and she’d let me take her out every week. She’s a strong woman, and I knew she wouldn’t keep doing something she didn’t want to. Earlier on I heard through her sister and mom how much Tess liked me, that she was somehow able to tell them, but unable to verbally express to me haha. Eventually we worked up to her saying cute things like “it’s not as terrible to be around you” or “i guess it’s more ok now”. At some point during our courting we were at a point where it was clear we were only seeing each other, but we weren’t official enough to say “i love you” and her be comfortable. But i needed to say it somehow, so in a conversation we somehow ended on the random word “platypus” as our code word for “I love you”. We used it all the time for quite a while until we could just say I love you for real, and now it’s just a cute rare use word. I got her a stuffed platypus for Valentines day 2016, and we both had the plan to get these Lego platypus’ for each other, so we did that for date night in March sometime. Now she tells me she loves me almost as often as I tell her, and I tell her multiple times a day.
Also now she makes meals she knows I love, watches movies with me she knows I love, tries out video games she’s not sure she’ll like, she tells me she misses me when I stay late at work, and in short does all sorts of things to let me know I’m appreciated and loved, including saying it straight out. I’ve never been so happy!
I could go on about specific stories but this post is already huge so I think I'll leave it here for now. But here's some pics of our Platypodes.

Mexico Trip 2016

Oh MAN is it blog time! First of all I want to say that married life is the greatest thing, Tess is the greatest person. I love her beyond words. Christmas we got each other some board games and puzzles and the Lego Big Ben set and it was brief but wonderful. We serve at the Oquirrh temple Saturday afternoons, we play board games and watch shows and have people over to do double dates on weeknights, and life is all around great.

But! I wanted to write this post to document our adventures in Mexico recently! Note that neither Tess nor I are big picture takers, so sometimes we thought to get pictures, but most of the trip we totally spaced it. Uh, sorry.

So Mom knew that most of the family would be gone this Christmas, and presents alone with Mason wouldn’t be fun for any involved parties, so she looked for a vacation to do to make it more memorable. What she found instead was a service trip opportunity called Builders Without Borders of Utah. Around October she ran into one of my original therapists there, Jason Terry, and he told her the trip is wheelchair accessible enough (since most of the stuff I might help with is based out of the LDS stake center). So mom told me I should try it some year. And i was like “SOME year? If you’re going and can help with bed and bowel needs, Tess and I would probably come THIS year! We don’t even have kids yet!” so Tess and I discussed a little and let it set for a few days, but decided to do it!

We met a few times the end of the year leading up to it. Jason, who came last year, told me at a meeting “yeah, it feels really disorganized now. And it will be really disorganized when we leave. And when we get there it will feel really disorganized the whole time. But at the end of the week we’ll look back and be amazed at what got accomplished!” It might even have been worse this year because one of the two main people leading this, Chris, had his mom die the week before Christmas, and the viewing on the 26th, so him and his wife Angie (the other leader) didn’t even caravan down or cross the border with everyone.

We left Christmas day around 3 (which was sad, I really like hanging out with Tessa’s siblings, and I had all these new games I haven’t even read the rulebooks for yet…) and we drove to Las Vegas where the whole service group stayed overnight, taking over 70 rooms (some of which house more than the allowed occupancy). Apparently we had around 260 people in total.

Monday morning we woke up, met at a Target near the border, lost two trailer tires in transit (and one AT Target!) waited forever in line at the border, and finally crossed like 3 hours later than planned. We tried to be all organized and get number stickers for the order we’d go through, but it didn’t seem to matter haha. And unless people were having discussions I don’t know about then it was a pretty painless process, just a long wait is all. We had pre-packed 10 trailers earlier in the month and gave the border an exhaustive list of what was in them ahead of time, so it was pretty smooth.

Related side note: they hardly checked anything on the way in or out, if we had been wanting to sneak illegal stuff in or out of Mexico it would have been stupid easy. Although honestly it is actually refreshing to find that trust still exists at places like this.

This is us driving up to the border. On this street everyone got a text from their carrier letting us know we weren't in Kansas anymore. Er, California.

Here's a picture of some of our cars and trailers. You can see the bridge in the background of people crossing the border on foot.
Our Caravan was something like 70 cars, we lined up in 3 lines and sat around so long that people were getting out of the cars and chatting with other cars. In the top right you can see where people were actually crossing.

Things are DIFFERENT across the border. The road system in Tijuana (where we were staying and helping) is so convoluted. There are just rocks on the road at random. People walk carelessly into the street if they feel like it. There was even a magazine rack in the middle of the median for jaywalkers! Even though Tess and I have the same phone plan she got Internet service everywhere and I didn't, but we all got to the Stake Center and unpacked material. Then we went 10 minutes up the street to a smaller church where we unpacked computers and cloth. Usually we'd have unloaded everything at the Stake Center and used it as home base, but the power transformer went out at the Stake Center like 3 days before. So for most of the week we used it only as a building supplies storage. (I saw the power out at various places like 4 times in the short time we were there!)

Here's a picture at the Stake Center the last night we were there. Notice the purple lights of the night club next door

Ok, crazy road thing. Most of the roads we frequented had 4 directional traffic. That is to say they had a lane going North (Blue) and a lane going South (Red), than another lane going North and another lane going South. It was terrible! The result of this is that you couldn't just go through an intersection and turn right, or you'd be cutting across traffic going the other way (plus the medians just didn't allow it) So instead, if you need to turn right after an intersection, you instead turn right AT the intersection, go half a mile the wrong way, flip a U-turn, come back a half mile to the intersection you just left, then make a right turn. This way you're in the rightmost Northbound lane rather than the middlemost Northbound lane, and you can turn right without cutting across any traffic. Here's 1000 words about it.

This also meant no left turn when leaving the hotel. So to get to our church, we'd right turn out of the hotel, flip a U-turn, go down PAST our church, flip a U-turn again, then make a right turn into the church. It was silly! Note: I do realize not all of Mexico is like this, Utah has a bunch of pretty weird intersections too honestly. But the whole mandatory U-turns to get anywhere system was the worst. Maybe I could make a killing selling "U-turns are life!" T-shirts though?

Our hotel was actually kinda nice, nicer than the one we stayed at in Vegas, and it was less than $50 a night in American dollars! This was the hotel

This was our room

View from the foot of the bed

Bathroom (I showered in that chair, probably wouldn't have included a bathroom photo otherwise)

Beautiful window view.
Yes, that's a pile of tires.

But we only hardly did anything at the hotel but sleep. So it's a little silly I have this many pictures of it. Congratulations on viewing them.

From this point on Mom Dad and Mason had a very different trip from Tess and I. Dad was one of 15 project site leaders, each site was building a house or adding to an existing house. Apparently Chris and Angie work with the local LDS Stake President to figure out who to help (not everyone helped were members). So of the 260ish people probably 240ish were assigned to a job site. The rest of us stayed at the church and taught classes, but I'll come back to that later.

My Dad's job site was to add a room to this guy's house. Adding a room sounds like a small thing, but since this guy's house was one room with no stove and no bathroom, adding a room literally doubled his house space! I won't go into the details of how they got rained on and only had tarps with holes, and how this guy would just sell broken furniture on the corner where this was, and cool solutions my Dad's group had to come up with and such. But here's a few pictures.


Above is the final shot from us. They didn't get it to a fully finished project before they left, but it was firm and waterproofed and half wired for electricity. Builders of Utah has been coming to this same area for 9 years in a row now, and the locals have learned how to finish the projects themselves, with our donations still buying the supplies (we don't just give them money). So they finish up.

For us not on a job site, we helped out at the church. My goal was computer classes. It was a little bumpy at first for a few reasons. #1 computer classes isn't a standard part of these trips, so it's not as structured as job sites or sewing classes. We were doing it because #2 a kid on the trip was doing the classes for his Eagle project. And all of that combines with #3 I don't speak Spanish and #4 I don't know what the people want to learn so it was hard to prepare anything in advance.

Really for me the biggest bump was #2 though, the Eagle scout. Apparently his original project was just to make monitor stands for these 9 machines that had been donated, but only 1 actually needed a manually made stand. I get the impression teaching computer classes for his project wasn't his idea at all, because he totally was not involved. The first day I tried not to takeover but he was doing nothing to address the problems. I talked to his parents day 2 and got permission to make things happen on my own haha.

So! 9 desktop computers had been donated for us to use. They all had Linux (since it's free), there wasn't much to be done about that, but they all had openoffice and chrome so they do mostly everything the average user would want anyway. The problem was everyone thought "oh, the church has internet access, so it'll be fine!" However, church internet is wireless, which the desktops couldn't receive. Even if they did, when all the Builders people with their 300 mobile devices were at the church at night the wireless network was as good as not existing anyway. So we needed to hard wire in, but we didn't have the devices, and the router was in the top corner of the clerks office behind a locked door AND a locked gate.

So, Tess and I had an adventure going to Office Max and buying some Ethernet cables and a switch, Chris got someone with keys to come unlock the office, and we moved all the computers to a small classroom across the hall from the router. I was trying to figure out how to wire them up when a helpful kid named Gentry showed up and did all the manual labor I couldn't. He strung the wire through the ceiling across the hallway and down into the little classroom and got everything hooked up. We could only fit 5 computers, snugly, but it worked. This kid was the best though, an Austin Hone type, just super friendly and helpful and "what next" asking and such. I wish it had been his Eagle project haha.

To my utmost shame I totally forgot to take pictures of the computer room or any of this!. Most of the pictures on this blog were from the first day or the last day, because this wasn't really a vacation and as such I wasn't really thinking of stuff like pictures haha. Just imagine in your minds eye a tiny classroom with 5 computers on TV tray size tables, with a space in the middle small enough that my chair can't turn around. Now imagine me in the middle of that room, jumping up on top of my wheelchair and doing a little tap dance. There ya go, that's even better than pictures, right?

Throughout the week I only taught computer classes to about 8 people. The first 3 I asked what they wanted to learn, they spoke a bit of English, and they asked for Excel and PowerPoint. I did my best to teach them about formula fields and slide transitions, not sure any of it stuck though. One of the other guys who wanted to help with computer classes told me about though, which has all sorts of tutorials, even in Spanish, and that helped a TON. So with a few of the remaining people I got them started on those. The other big breakthrough was using Google Translate on my computer. One day a Spanish kid (Eriberto!) came in when I was dinking around on the desktops and was trying to talk to me, so I busted out Google Translate on my phone, and we'd talk back and forth. It worked passably but for some reason it would stop listening mid sentence a bunch, and I'd have to manually type the rest slowly on my phone. However, on my computer I type fast, so for classes I'd park where we could see each others screen, and we'd type in our respective translates back and forth. It was kinda odd to get to the end of an hour after a long conversation with the person next to you but realizing you hadn't spoken aloud anything more complicated than "yeah!" or "no" haha.

There was one guy who wanted to email his son who was on a mission, but he didn't know how! But to me the most interesting story was this guy who owned a construction business, and had an email address, but didn't know how to reply to emails! We logged in and I showed him where the reply button was. And then he was like "ok I understand that now. The other thing that confuses me is when they want symbols in the email, like dollar signs and stuff" So I explained that some keys have 2 symbols on them, and when you hold the shift key it does the top symbol. The sad?/crazy?/interesting? part was he came with his 16 year old son (the son spoke great English and was mostly raised in Cali by his mom), and the son was doing Javascript tutorials effectively on another computer, so I know the son knew how the shift key worked, the Dad just never asked I guess!

The last big part of the trip I saw was the sewing classes, which is what Tess did most of the trip. In the church gym they set up a bunch of folding tables in a Ū shape (including that accent mark) and set up 20+ brand new donated sewing machines. The stage at the back of the gym was massively full with all sorts of donated cloths of mostly bright or otherwise garish cloth, but the locals loved it! This picture is a good representation of what pretty much every day looked like, it's the viewpoint from the bottom of the Ū.

Or a rare more orderly shot.

For the Builders ladies there, and a few adept sewing locals, they had these blue aprons that said cosiendo chicas (sewing girls) so people who came to learn knew who to ask questions. Each day from like 11-5 the room was open to just whoever showed up (which was a bunch of peope, as you can see). Our group had a specific type of thing they planned to teach each day (pajama pants day, blanket day, etc) but if someone showed up and already had something in mind they wanted to make, the cosiendo chicas would help with whatever project they wanted.

At first Tess helped out in the big room most of the day, but it was pretty loud in there and left her extra tense by the evenings, so as the week went on she ended up spending progressively more time in side rooms with just a few ladies teaching them how to knit or crochet or the like. Tess had 3 favorite ladies, here is on of her favorites, Becky. We don't know why she had an eye patch, Tess never asked haha.

Some of the stories Tess tells about the whole thing are how the ladies just loved putting together what Tess thought were funny combinations of colors and patterns, like this orange and purple blanket.

To make blankets, it's essentially three pieces, a front, a back, and the batting in the middle. And they wen't through SO MUCH batting! To start our group bought six rolls of the stuff. I wish I'd taken a picture, but the rolls are basically 6 feet in diameter. A single roll takes up an entire truck bed, and sticks a few feet over the top of the truck. They had to buy and bring them one at a time. They used so much we ended up buying a seventh one the last day. And even with that, Tess got this shot of a girl gathering scraps from other peoples projects to make one more blanket.

Also, Tess gave up on trying to get the ladies to pin the edges of the blankets together before sewing them together, so the edges of the blankets were all sorts of skeewampus. A lot of the participants seemed to care more about quantity than quality haha. Even with that though, this is a shot of the amount of LEFTOVER cloth we had at the very end! (which we left behind still)

I felt like the whole sewing thing was great. I'd roll in every once in a while and kiss mi esposa (my wife!) and all the teenage girls thought we were the cutest couple ever. I loved seeing some of the ladies adore my wife though. I adore Tess and know she's absolutely wonderful, but since I'm the more outgoing one I tend to overshadow her and people don't know her as well. It was fun having something where they got to know Tess more than me, and see them find her as wonderful as I know she is too.

So! Those were the main events going on. The rest of this blog will be random stories.

In one of the emails from the group organizers with a packing list for Mexico she said bring rain protective gear because "the rain in Mexico is SO wet!" Tess and I laughed about that a bit, because isn't wet wet, and dry dry? What's "SO wet" mean? But we got to see! It did rain while we were there, and the air is a lot more humid so the effects seem to penetrate and linger a bit more. What particularly stood out to me though was the rain gutters. I'm so grateful for our roads here, I know it has to be hard to put big enough gutters and level or sloped streets in all the right places so even if it rains really hard its barely a problem. The part of Tijuana we were in did not do this very well. There were so many dips that retained water forever, and a few places driving through the water that I was pretty sure it was going to soak in to my fully submerged lowered floor.

Also, they made a funny token effort at wheelchair accessibility. I went to go get Little Ceaser's pizza one day, and the only sidewalk in I could see was one from the street, which meant I had to drive my chair completely around the building. Half way around the building was the street corner, with a ramp from the street to the sidewalk and a wheelchair painted on it, so I know they're trying. But the angle the street and the curb met was like a V shape, there's no way my chair would make it haha. Luckily I was already on the sidewalk and didn't have to get up that curb, but I went 8 more feet and there was a lamp post coming right out of the dead center of the sidewalk! I couldn't have fit around it on a scooter! Nice try Tijuana, but not quite the full effort haha. Luckily RJ had come with me, so he just went inside alone and got the pizza. I'm grateful how well planned and maintained Utah streets and sidewalks are though.

Ordering food! I definitely don't speak Spanish... It's really not that big of a deal though because if you go into KFC, point at the giant menu, and say "numero quatro, no combo" they figure it out easily enough. So I thought I had this figured out pretty good, and decided to take Tess through the McDonalds drive through to show off my manly ability to provide for my wife! We pull up, they say something I presume was a welcome, and i respond "uno momento" so I can consult Tess on what she wants. We decide on just two big macs, so I get their attention again and say as clearly but natively as I can "dos big macs, no combo", they said a question sounding phrase which I guessed meant "will that be everything?", so I said "si" then sat back feeling pretty proud of myself. But then they said something else that ALSO sounded like a question, and I had no idea what it was, so I doubled down and echoed my original statement, "dos big macs, no combo" with a tone of finality. More gibberish. So pleading I say "no habla espanol. Dos big macs, no combo?" They sounded a little exasperated, but in their response I thought I heard "ocho", and in my mind I was like "HAH! Eight! That's a number! That must be the total! I'll pull forward now!" We got the right food and the receipt looked right, so I guess technically I succeeded. But in retrospect, I'll bet when I replied "si" they had just asked "would you like anything else?" or "would you like a drink with that?", so I said yes, and ordered two big macs as my drink. Super smooth...

Temple time! The Tijuana LDS Temple was barely dedicated a year before we got there (Dec 2015 by President Uchtdorf). Tess and I decided to go do a session I think Wednesday morning? We took it slow and walked the grounds (the weather was beautiful sunny and not too warm) before and after. I again didn't think to take a picture, but my parents did when they went!

The temple was back a bit from the street, with a huge parking lot, and was so clean and orderly compared to the chaotic streets. Truly just driving through the front gates you could already feel the difference.

On the inside, I felt like the temple had extra tall roofs! I come pre-dressed in my whites, so I waited in a big center room while Tess went to change. A local temple worker come up and started talking in Spanish, and I told her I didn't speak Spanish, so in English she asked "where are you from?", I told her Utah, and she said "Oh! President Hinckley is from Utah!" and I was like "yeah!" but I was thinking "what a random thing to say! She know President Hinckley passed away like 9 years ago, right?" but gratefully before I said anything stupid, a matronly American looking temple worker came up to talk to me too, and I noticed her name tag said "Temple Matron Hinckley" and my mind went "OOOOOOoooo the TEMPLE president is also named Hinckley! That makes so much more sense!" but I thought it was funny.

Anyway, it was the first time I ever used a translation headset, and it worked flawlessly, and I kept wanting to study how the headset worked, but I resisted the urge haha. Anyway here's my dad's picture of the temple.

The last three short random notes I feel like sharing are #1 no matter where I was, it felt like every five minutes somewhere a car alarm went off within ear shot, I don't know why this is haha. #2 we were there on New Years Eve, a great time to celebrate with fireworks, but it seemed like the only fireworks they sold were glorified bombs. Massively loud, never saw a sparkle myself. #3 on the way to the stake center, there was this one street light that was forever long, and always took like 15 minutes minimum to get through. So! Enterprising individuals apparently saw the opportunity, and hired people to walk between the cars and try to sell all sorts of random stuff. Flowers, candy, blankets, "fireworks", food, you name it, I thought it was interesting haha.

Anyway, all things told it was a fantastic experience! I admittedly was very unsettled the first night and felt super out of my element, but by the end I felt pretty comfortable! I was definitely ready for home though. It's something I'd love to do again some day, but it's also not something I'd want to do every year. Maybe that's just 'cuz I was already working overtime at work the weeks leading up to it, and needed a vacation.

I'm so infinitely grateful for my wonderful wife who was willing to come on this adventure with me though, even though she hates Mexican food, and a loud huggy culture is the exact opposite of her ideal circumstances haha.

A true random entry!

Sunday with church at 12:30! Time to journal some random thoughts and stories.

#1 First, journaling on journaling. I miss back when I first started my blog and I’d just write down any interesting thoughts I had, even one liners, and post them almost daily. I think it’s fairly common knowledge that acknowledging things you’re grateful for makes you notice even more things you’re grateful for, and all around makes one happier. In the same vein though, I found writing down things I found interesting made me notice more things I found interesting, and thus made life more vivacious! Really it seems like it’s all plusses and no negatives.
Thinking about it, I feel like there are two main reasons I haven’t continued.
A) the hard part is finding time to write. I’m not a short winded person, and often I like to tell the stories in a bit of detail like the rest of this post. Back when I blogged regularly I had my computer, always. But now I have my smart phone instead, it’s way easier to lug around, but it’s harder to write a long articulate thought on. And once I get to my computer at work, even if someone doesn’t need something first thing (which is common) it feels a little weird doing personal journaling on my work computer.
B) The leisure time I do have in the morning is mostly taken up by scripture study. Currently my goal is a half hour a day. I’m really enjoying this goal by the way. Goals like “a chapter a day” were too easy for me to zone out and hurry through so I could move on to whatever was next in life, and I wouldn’t really feast or ponder. 10 minutes is too short for me to get in depth. 20 minutes I often zone out thinking about work or whatever is next. But with 30 I manage to force myself to hone back in, or stay focused knowing it’s a meaningful chunk of time, and as result I get a lot more out of it. Plus, it’s ok to stop and look up other articles or see how the modern translation of the bible compares or write an email to ask my institute teachers of the past a question or whatever, because these things don’t increase the time chunk allocated. It’s great! And as a side note to this side note, I prefer reading on my phone to my computer, the bookmark system on gospel library doesn’t work right on the website, so I can’t track where I’m at with the computer alone anyway. But I digress, the point is the 30 minutes is a long time chunk, and usually makes me late getting to work at 8 like I prefer (I don’t really have to be there until 9, so showing up at 8:15 isn’t bad from a job perspective, just a personal one. I love having a great job that allows this flexibility though :) )
So, there you have it. I’d love to blog more, I’m going to try, but I fully recognize there’s a good chance it’ll fall flat haha. My one conciliatory prize for you is that writing about writing isn’t the only aspect of this entry. Onwards and forwards!

#2 We* went and saw Josh Groban last night with the tickets my parents got us for Christmas! It was a fun adventure because mom realized day of that we didn’t have handicap tickets, so we had to rush over midday to swap our seats, we even had to show my handi-placard despite the fact I was there in person! But it worked out, pretty good seats at the Usana amphitheater, although I’ll bring binoculars next time… it was mostly great! His voice was as rich and clear as you’d expect, despite the fact he kept commenting on how thin the air is here haha. He’s a fun guy! speaks in total rapid fire. Almost half his show was Italian or french songs, I wish he’d sing stuff I knew, or at least put the English translation on the giant projector behind him. But the MOST interesting part was he swore a few times, and you can just feel the Utah audience tense up haha. He didn’t even swear a lot, but I think just based on his music it was unexpected from him. On the way home, both mom AND Tess swore once too, it was contagious!! Sadly I can’t repeat the swear joke my mom made because I’m a firm no-swearer even for comedy (the most tempting of reasons for me), but it was hilarious.

#3 So I have a new set of people getting me in and out of bed now. Mostly guys from the singles ward (Jeff Garner, Talin Schick, Brandon and Tyler Idunnotheirlastnames. Thanks guys!) plus Delynn Summers as the angel who does my bowel care at 5 AM. It’s always interesting to see what things they pick up naturally, and how fast they learn the stuff that doesn’t come natural. Altogether this set has been one of the fastest learning sets ever, I basically showed them once and they’re set for the next time already. So that’s cool. But I find it super interesting how one guy instinctively gets how to swap out my pee bag while another takes a few minutes to get it off. Or how one guy easily gets the basic instruction of “get my hair wet and comb front to back until it’s organized” and others don’t. And it’s not like one guy doesn’t get all the things and another is good at all of them, each has a different blind spot, it’s just interesting. Oh, except apparently I use ⅓ as much toothpaste as literally everyone else in the world. You don’t need a ton you guys! I went to the dentist just week and had no cavities again for like my 11th time in a row!

#4 Now on to a serious topic. Ducks.
I didn’t learn this until a few weeks before my wedding, but Tess loves feeding ducks. When she is doing so she shows some of the most childlike glee I’ve ever seen her exhibit.
The first time we went the ducks were all spread out down the river, and when we’d approach they’d swim to the other side and ignore the stuff we threw at them. Finally we got to the very last duck and he knew what was up and came close so we could throw bread down to him. Slowly the other ducks noticed what was going on and joined the party, and we had somewhere around a dozen ducks before we ran out of bread, Tess was giddy, it was adorable, it’s likely you as a reader have never even seen her like this.
Anyway we finally went a second time this past weekend, and this time the whole pack of ducks recognized us or something, because they were all on board right from the start. We had 11 ducks and we fed them all about half our bread. Tess loves throwing it equidistant from a few ducks and watching them race for it. One duck gets it and the other few just accept it and turn back to watch for the next throw.
To me the interesting part was halfway through when another duck flew in from nowhere. As soon as this girl landed 8 of our 11 previously enthralled ducks immediately started swimming the opposite direction. We even ran ahead and threw bread in front of them but they could not be deterred! You know in high school movies when the awkward teenage girl protagonist comes to lunch for the first time, and the whole crowd of popular cheerleaders immediately stands up, puts their noses in the air, and haughtily walks away? That totally happened with the ducks!! So anyway we fed the 3 remaining and the newcomer, eventually the others came back, but! Whenever the newcomer got the bread first in a close race, the others would follow him around and peck at him! I felt bad for our awkward picked on duck! But it was super interesting to see the duck social… structure? Hierarchy? Thing. The duck social thing. Apparently it’s serious business.

* Author’s note, I’m “totes murried” now (as the kids should never say it) and I don’t want to be typing “Tess and I” or “I ‘n Tess” or “me and my spicy wife” all the time, it sounds like a lot of work. So if I ever just say “we” and don’t specify who we are, you can safely assume it’s me and my wonderful wife who beats me. (at board games)

Life Update July 2016

Time for another life recap! Looks like I only went nearly 3 years without posting this time so I’m making forward progress! *awkward cough*

Well, things went downhill for my job at SRS/MPI/Autopoint and I got hired to work at Vivint in April 2014. I knew I’d fit in there when I made wheelchair jokes in the interview and they laughed rather than getting awkward. Seeing as I’ve worked there over two years now I could write whole entries on my experiences there so far, but to sum up a recap I’ve love my entire time there, and I’ve been on the front lines of building two new products ground up for the company and it’s been super fun. I love it there and lately I haven’t even bothered to maintain cordial terms with recruiters because there’s just no way I’m leaving anytime soon.

I got called as an Elders Quorum president at the Ventana ward and was very humbled by the experience. Then I moved in with Bryan and Kayla for nearly a year and had a great time. I bought a condo in Bluffdale mid 2015 and rented it out for a year. And I went skydiving somewhere in there. All big things maybe I’ll write more about someday.

As for the focus of this post though, in Feb 2014 I met Tessa Sommer. And now I’m writing this post at the tail end of our honeymoon at the Shakespearian Festival (all the shows we saw here were AMAZING by the way! Much Ado About Nothing, The Coconauts, and Murder For Two). Anyway at our reception we had some posters detailing our story, and I wanted to post them here. So here!
tess intro.jpg

So! There you have it! We live together now in our condo in Bluffdale, and we’re working through kinks, but I’m so ridiculously grateful for the many blessings in my life, particularly my eternal companion.