Tag Archives: marriage

Love the one you’re…

As I look back on this blog, I note that it’s been over a year.  I started putting down thoughts in this thing in 2003… that’s 15 years and a LOT has happened in 15 years.  I won’t recap any of it because frankly, you can go read it.  What’s important to talk or think about today is my wife…

Since last I wrote to this rather lengthy blog, I’ve broken off with my fiancee of 7+ years, fallen in love with another woman, and married her.  All that is only background, however, to what I’m actually here to say.

My wife is fat.  She’s not “husky” or “plus size” a “big girl” or “curvy” or any of that other euphemisms that we like to wrap around women and their sizes.  And I’m not a fetishist or “into” “big girls” or whatever other garbage you want to wrap around our relationship.  It annoys me to no end to think that some people would look at us and think that in order for anyone to love her would require some odd deviation from the norm on my part.  Fat isn’t a “bad word” in our house as it seems to be for many people.  It’s just another harmless adjective.

When we first met, I saw a beautiful woman full of life, not a measurement on some arbitrary scale of sizes.  While others saw a “fat girl” I saw this

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How can you resist that face?  And to think that so many men passed her over, or worse yet, abused her because they thought it their right, before she found her way to me.

To be honest, I just don’t get it.  How in the world could so many men before me look at this woman and not see what I see?

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She is so vibrant, so full of life, a wellspring of joy, an amazingly loving companion… she is even willing to work in the garden every summer…

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Just looking back on these photos from the last few months brings tears to my eyes.  How in the world could any man think it right to crush this spirit.  I hang my head in sadness to think how many hours she spent in despair because some man who misjudged her and thought her only good as a target of his rage.

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I love this woman with all my heart and soul and it makes me supremely sad to think that society in general dismisses her because she’s not a size 2.

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She is my love and my life.  And I would not trade her for anything and I love and adore her exactly the size she is.

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World Religions: Islam – Lecture 6: Paths to God – Islamic Law and Mysticism

The following bits represent my notes and thoughts as I watch The Great Courses, “Great World Religions: Islam” by John L. Esposito.  A few things are worth noting:

  1. I encourage those with an interest to seek out the original source material.  You can do that on The Great Courses website.  My notes are just a pale shadow of the whole course but they might whet your proverbial whistle.
  2. These are just my notes and not an attempt to encapsulate the whole course.  As such, it should be painfully obvious that I’m no expert and at times prone to oversimplification and outright error.
  3. There is no third thing.  I just can’t stand having only two things in a list.

Lecture 6: Paths to God – Islamic Law and Mysticism

Islamic law is derived from three sources:

  • Sharia – the teachings of the prophet as embodied in the Quran
  • Sunnah – the example of the prophet
  • Ijtihad – human interpretation of Sharia and Sunnah by the Ulama (scholars) and application of common sense and reasoning.  For the Shia community, this last takes a secondary role to collected writings not recognized by the Sunni community.

The law is designed to establish definitively what it means to be a good Muslim and create a just society that is equitable to all.  For the Muslim faith, action and obedience to the law is considered much more important than questions of theology.

The law covers two basic areas:

  • Duties to God – essentially, the Five Pillars previously discussed
  • Duties to Others – rules about public and family life

Family Law – Family law covers three basic topics which will be outlined below.  It should be noted that these laws vary greatly from region to region to conform to some degree with local customs and have over time evolved significantly.  Legal opinions are passed down by means of the issuance of a fatwa, a formal legal opinion given by a Mufti.

  • Marriage – previous to the Muslim faith, women were treated essentially as a possession to be handed out.  Under Sharia, women became a party to their own marriage contracts and could benefit from their own dowries.  Polygamy was regulated and men were limited to four wives but only if they could legitimately support them.  Men and women are viewed to have equal partnership within Muslim marriage but to have complimentary roles with the man working outside the home while the woman is master inside the home.
  • Divorce – while still permitted, divorce is termed “the most abominable” of things allowed by the Quran.  Previously, a man needed merely to utter “I divorce you” to remove his wife from her position.  Now the rules are significantly more complex and the wife is entitled to financial support.
  • Inheritance – woman can now inherit whereas previously it was only the eldest male child which could see money from the death of a parent.

Sufism represents the mystical aspects of Islam and the lecturer’s description made me think of them like hippies.  They are observant when it comes to Islamic law but they find that the law alone isn’t really sufficient.  They seek direct contact with Allah through prayer, fasting and meditation.  Despite being, at times, in conflict with the ulama, since about the 12th century they have worked to spread themselves through the establishment of monasteries that bring to mind monastic aspects of the Christian religion.


Series Guide

IslamView back-to-back on the YouTube Playlist
Lecture 1– Islam Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Lecture 2 – The Five Pillars of Islam
Lecture 3 – Muhammad-Prophet and Statesman
Lecture 4 – God’s Word-The Quranic Worldview
Lecture 5 – The Muslim Community-Faith and Politics
Lecture 6 – Paths to God-Islamic Law and Mysticism
Lecture 7 – Islamic Revivalism-Renewal and Reform
Lecture 8 – The Contemporary Resurgence of Islam
Lecture 9 – Islam at the Crossroads
Lecture 10 – Women and Change in Islam
Lecture 11 – Islam in the West
Lecture 12 – The Future of Islam

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Random Book Notes: Indian Customs and Culture

This evening I perused a couple of books on Indian culture and jotted down a few notes.  This are far from detailed but they are the tidbits that leapt out at me as I read.  Note that these are VERY quick notes and I’m sure they’re completely overgeneralized in many cases so correct me if I’m wrong but be gentle, please!

  • Gained independence from the British Empire in 1947 becoming, eventually, three different countries:
    • West Pakistan; primarily Muslim
    • East Pakistan, became Bangladesh in 1971
    • India; primarily Hindu
  • Interpersonally, Indians like to invest time in others, really getting to know them.  In some cases it’s not unusual for an Indian person to want to spend a week or more with someone who is a new business contact
  • Indians tend to be intensely curious about Westerners and often gather in crowds around them.  They also tend to have much more conversation about family and personal matters than Westerners
  • Hinduism or Sanatana dharma, the eternal way of life
    • One God – Brahman with three aspects
      • Brahma – the creator
      • Vishnu – the preserver/sustainer
      • Shiva – the completer/destroyer
  • Indians do not tend to use toilet paper and are, in fact, rather disgusted by the Western habit of doing so.  They wipe with their left hand and wash afterwards.  As a result, the left hand is considered unclean and should not be used to touch food.
  • Meals
    • Morning tea: 6:30-7:00am, tends to be sweets, eggs, biscuits
    • Lunch: 1:00-2:00pm, rice and curries
    • Dinner: 8:30pm
    • If invited to an Indian’s house for dinner, it tends to be expected that you will be 15-30 minutes late in arriving
  • Body Language
    • The head and ears are considered sacred, never touch the head of a child
    • Pointing with the fingers is considered rude, instead Indians point with a jerk of their chin in the desired direction
    • Grasping the ears is considered a sign of sincerity
    • A point of confusion is the typical Indian style of head shaking. Shaking back and forth with a bit of sinusoidal tilt is often taken as meaning ‘no’ but in reality indicates fervent agreement
    • Traditional Indian greeting is the namaskar with palms together with fingers extended and a slight bow.
  • Family
    • Most Hindus married by walking seven times around a ceremonial fire; this is just part of the ceremony but this seems to be a repeated theme
    • It is vitally important for a wife to bear a son; only a son can perform the necessary ceremonies required to save the parents from “put” or hell.
    • Daughters are viewed as less desirable because they often require payment of a crippling dowry
    • Indian proverb:
      • Children from 0-5 should be treated as princes
      • Children from 6-16 should be treated as slaves
      • Children 16 and older should be treated as friends
    • Family groups are very tightly knit and children are always in the presence of many relatives.
    • Babies are not allowed to cry but are fed on demand whenever needed.  Diapers are not typically worn and children can pee freely wherever
    • The bond between mother and son is the strongest in most families
    • The bond between wife and husband is next to weakest with only the bond between sisters being weaker

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On the Fairer, Daintier, Gentler Gender

Recently I’ve been spending some time reading a book from 1969 that centers quite specifically around how the male gender should conduct itself.  It details in long-form the recommended manner of performing many of life’s most vital processes: which silverware to use and when, how to conduct yourself if your phone is on a party line, which actors and actresses you should use as role models, and how much to tip the porter when you check into a hotel.  For the curious, the answer is $.25 per bag with a minimum of $.35 even if you only have one bag.  In today’s world, I’m pretty sure that a tip of such magnitude would be hurled back at you with all the force of a Nolan Ryan fastball.

On the whole, I’m surprised at just how little has changed in 40 years.  The expectations themselves haven’t changed much, but merely the determination with which they’re enforced.  A gentleman is still expected to pull out a lady’s chair for her in a restaurant, but where today this is seen as cute and quaint, in 1969 it was viewed as absolutely mandatory.  In years gone by, the man was expected to order dinner on the lady’s behalf and shield her from the waiter but in today’s world this might be viewed as absolute effrontery.  Yesterday’s mandates are seen as today’s curious and somewhat nerdy aberrations.

One somewhat shocking facet of all this is the assumed naiveté of both genders during this time.  In many cases the details laid out for the man’s benefit are stunningly ponderous and obvious.  Doubtless after 37 years on this Earth, I’ve forgotten the ignorance of youth and just how blessedly idiotic I was, but it’s hard to fathom a man who needs advice as simplistic as this tome provides.  Even more stunning is the image that is painted of womanhood.

There was a time in my youth when I firmly held with the belief that women, in addition to having divine powers, were absolutely moral and perfect in every way.  This book, written near the year of my birth, would seem to offer evidence of this fact.  I can easily draw the lines to conclude where I might have come across this simple truth.  Society at large during this time period seems to paint the same picture.  June Cleaver was still held as the absolute good of the American family.

It wasn’t until… well, to be absolutely humble and honest, it wasn’t until a few years ago that this image began to break down for me.  I realized with a rather large gulp that women, as fearsome a prospect as this might seem, were just as human as men.  While men suffer from certain ineffable drives and desires, women too are slaves to similar motives.  The crystalline purity of the female soul was shattered into a million pieces when I realized that biology enslaves us all.  Women are equally as petty, as sexual, as driven by base emotions as the male gender.  This, to me, was the greatest revelation of my adult life.  My entire vision of women as perfect snowflakes was sullied by the realization that in many ways, they are just as base a creature as is man.  In some ways, even moreso.

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On Dating as an Adult

Over the past two years or so as a divorced person I have plied the seven seas of “dating as an adult” and in that time I’ve learned quite a bit. Or at least I hope I’ve learned quite a bit because if I haven’t learned much then that means I have a LOT more to learn. If that’s the case then I’m stoutly and completely terrified of what is to come.

Firstly and foremost, as a guy, I have to say that it’s clear to me that the majority of women in the 30-40 age range that are unattached are psychopaths. Before I met Laura I dated several women and I’ve spent the intervening time trying fervently to FORGET that I ever did so. I’ve had dates that included prolonged female sobbing. I’ve had dates that consisted entirely of discussions about previous boyfriends/husbands. I’ve had dates that consisted ENTIRELY of a woman trying to get revenge for previous shitty encounters with men. (Ursula, I hope you enjoyed the $40 lunch you suggested. Grr.) To be honest though, I’m fine with most expressions of human dysfunction because I fancy myself a bit of an amateur psychiatrist (or else just have an unhealthy identification with Bob Newhart) and at heart I really, REALLY like to help people. To boot, I fancy that I’m really, REALLY good at it. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) they make for VERY poor beginnings to relationships as evidenced by the fact that I can’t even speak to most of these women now because of the emotional sensitivity of what they’ve shared. I’m happy to help and be a friend, but I can’t be everywhere at once. It’s just intensely sad how many very sad women there are in the world. Guys can be real dicks. If you need evidence for this just try dating an older woman.

Secondarily…. well, to understand the secondarily part of this you have to know that I knew my ex-wife for a LONG time before we were divorced, for the vast majority of our adult lives. We dated through college and had two children together and when we divorced it was very amicable. We disagree formidably on some points, but overall we get along very well and very respectfully. So now, with Laura, I find myself trying to build a history to compete with the one that I share with Kathy and admittedly, it’s really, really difficult. To be clear here, I’m crazily in love with Laura. Her smile lights up my life and I imagine the future with her every single day. However, there is a huge weight opposing that. Kathy knows most of my life story. She can tell you the most embarrassing moment in my entire history. She can tell you about the day our daughters were born. She rode in the first vehicle I ever owned. She sat in Dr. Zinsmeister’s class with me in college and got yelled at with me for talking. She holds the keys to a lot of the formative moments in my life and remembers them, often, in greater detail than I do. Sadly, that history is non-transferrable. I can tell Laura all the stories but it won’t be the same. It’s hard work building a whole new history with someone else even if they are devilishly cute and have a smile that lights up the whole room.

The sum total of all this is to say, simply, that dating as an adult is hard. Even if you’re as lucky as I am to find someone with whom you really, really click, the fact remains that you have to work your ass off to build a meaningful history with that person and in the process of finding them, you might have to buy a lot of $40 lunches.

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