Talents

Original Photo by  wallyir on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by wallyir on Morguefile.com

“Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” –Benjamin Franklin

Repairs seem to be the order—or perhaps, the disorder—of the day. While at work this morning, I waited for the repairman to fix the church’s dishwasher, only to come home and find my husband busily working to repair our bathtub faucet. Not a trained plumber, my husband still has the talent for looking at such a problem and being able to find a solution. I, on the other hand, would most likely have to do hours of research in order to be able to even discern the problem. Luckily, opposites do attract.

One of the many benefits of my marriage is living with and loving someone who has vastly different talents than I do. My husband has numerous practical skills that I seem to lack, or perhaps just haven’t developed. He loves everything technical and mechanical, easily taking apart a radio, for instance, and finding its problems. Woodworking and even metalwork aren’t farfetched when it comes to his abilities either. He’s one smart cookie as I often say.

Obviously, learning to appreciate our differing talents has been a blessing to our relationship. Even as our skills grow and change over time, we readily compliment and utilize the other person’s talents. As we’ve gotten older and our relationship has changed, we realize that there’s no need for competition within our marriage. God has blessed each of us with our various talents, and we can use them to benefit both of us.

While being married to your opposite can bring about some lively arguments, it can also bring some great opportunities for learning and growth. While I may never reach the technical proficiency of my husband, I can easily let him know just how much I appreciate his work around the house.

I may not be able to fix a faucet or disassemble a television, but I’m certainly capable of expressing my admiration for his efforts and sincerely thanking him for that work.

Cooking

Original Photo by mconnors  on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by mconnors on Morguefile.com

Growing up, I just knew I was going to be a career woman. Unlike the woman in the Enjoli commercial, I might bring home the bacon, but I wouldn’t have to fry it up in the pan. Soon enough my ambitious plans for kitchen freedom would face the reality of adulthood and marriage. As a wife, I would need to learn cooking skills, often to humorous results.

My mother insisted that I take home economics in high school. Much of our class time, though, consisted of discussions of measurements, with very little cooking. Indeed, we spent quite a bit of our time discussing cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons, along with writing down random recipes on index cards. Our one moment in the kitchen consisted of making pizzas with mostly prepared ingredients. For some reason, though, my group ran out of time for shredding the cheese for our pizza; I came up with the brilliant idea of making up for the lack by using Parmesan to fill in the gaps. It was edible, if not exactly Italian.

Still this lack of knowledge of cooking didn’t bother me. I was going to be a working woman and so wouldn’t need such pedestrian information. Yeah, right. When I married my husband, my idea of grocery shopping consisted of buying the big box of frozen corn dogs. For the first few months, my husband and I lived off of such prepared meals. Luckily, I married a forgiving man.

Soon I would need shopping and cooking skills, however. In order to survive on my paycheck, we needed to live as frugally as possible, and that finally required me to fry up the bacon myself. I spent hours and hours reading on the internet and in books in order to obtain the information and the recipes that I would need. Unfortunately, as with my home economics class, I would soon realize that information does not always translate into ability.

For my first cooking adventures, I generally chose casseroles, usually Mr. Food’s recipes in the beginning and later moving on to recipes that I found on the internet. My husband regretfully calls this the “Summer of Casseroles.” My inexperience in cooking led to our eating every variation of tuna casserole possible–whether Mexican or Italian, with vegetables or without, and with rice or noodles. During this early time, I also learned to evaluate a recipe as I eventually realized that not all recipes are good. This would certainly apply to a Spanish casserole that I baked during this time. Although it looked good on the website, the casserole was a soupy mess due to a lack of noodles in the recipe.

I also found a rather brilliant idea in my research–making bean burritos ahead of time and putting them in the freezer. I happily purchased a truckload of ingredients and went to work on my burrito assembly line. My husband came home to witness the process with a somewhat bewildered look. After I had stuffed the freezer with my pre-made burritos, though, he realized how easy it was to grab one for lunch. We eventually grew tired of the many bean burritos, but it was a good idea at the time.

Yes, I was very inexperienced in both cooking and baking. Although I had baked muffins and cookies, I had never baked more practical items such as bread and rolls. This would take yet more research and experimentation, especially when it came to yeast bread. No-knead breads were becoming popular at that time, though, and so I was in luck. Indeed, here was something domestic that was easy; my husband certainly appreciated having fresh bread with his meals. It was only later that I learned how to make fresh bread the old-fashioned way, with lots of elbow grease and loving care.

So now that I’m middle-aged, I will wholeheartedly admit that the skills related to cooking have become my most useful. All of my knowledge of English and American literature would not be able to feed my husband and myself. I have since moved on from these cooking basics to food storage and whole wheat baking, but those early casseroles provided me with the foundation for more advanced kitchen adventures.

Marriage would have been much easier, however, if I had learned to fry up that bacon beforehand, or simply even taken an interest in it. Having a kind husband with a sense of humor—and a strong stomach—made the process of learning to cook a bit easier, though.

Online Dating

Original photo by sullivan on Morguefile.com
Original photo by sullivan on Morguefile.com

For an introvert like myself, online dating was perhaps a natural thing. At the time, it emphasized written communication and allowed for easy selection of future dates. It was a simple matter of creating an account and seeing who responded. Practical knowledge of how to do this safely and effectively was much harder won, though.

As I had a Yahoo account at the time, I began with their dating site. It was free to use and seemed like an easy entry into the practice. I soon found out, though, that free is not always good. I began receiving emails from people who seemed unhinged, or just simply clingy. As a newbie to online dating, I hadn’t thought to create a new email address to use only for the site, and so I had strange men sending emails to my main address. Lesson one in online dating safety.

It was through this online dating site that I met in person my first date, a 40-year-old man who was crazy about Mickey Mouse and repeatedly resorted to the statement, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” said in an exaggerated Southern accent, of course. We had very little in common, and I found his arrogance far from charming. Fortunately, we met in a public place, and so he never knew where I lived. We didn’t meet again, and I soon left Yahoo dating for good.

One growing paid dating site at the time was Match.com. Although it would cost money, I hoped that it would eliminate some of the problems that I found with Yahoo dating. Unlike the Yahoo site, it had an internal messaging system, which allowed for anonymous and safer contacts, unlike the direct emails and IM’s. I also hoped that a paid site would eliminate some of the “crazy factor.”

I created my account on Match.com in 2003 and soon received a message through the system from the man who would be my husband. We IM’d each other for at least a week before we met in person. Soon we were calling each other every night, chatting over IM, and seeing each other almost every weekend. A whirlwind, technological romance quickly formed, and we quickly married. The rest, I suppose, is history.

Although online dating sites have grown in popularity since that time, I realized during my dating years that they were still considered the refuge of the desperate. They were not yet quite mainstream or socially acceptable. Too I found that my friends repeatedly warned me that it was dangerous to date someone online. Of course, these perceptions have changed somewhat over time, but the general lessons that I learned still remain true. True love can be found through the internet even if the process of getting there can be somewhat interesting.

Geek Love

Original Photo by  PMaz on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by PMaz on Morguefile.com

I’ll admit it. I’m not your typical romance-loving girl. In fact, I generally hate that genre. You could call me a nerd girl, one who is in love with science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction. It hasn’t exactly made me “one of the girls,” but geek guys generally enjoy a woman who can jump into the Kirk vs. Picard argument or discuss the intricacies of the themes presented in Battlestar Galactica.

My dad can certainly take credit for making me what I am today. Even as a kid, I remember hearing “Solyent Green is people!” For that, he received Solyent Green crackers for this past Father’s Day. Too he took us to see all of the latest scifi flicks, including Star Trek I and Star Wars. My growing love of Star Trek: The Next Generation renewed his interest in scifi at that time, and so we began reading all of the Star Trek novels from all generations. We later began to attend scifi conventions and thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie that we found there.

My love of science fiction didn’t end when I left home, however. I joined a group of geeks to travel down to Texas to see the latest Star Wars film in one of the few digital theatres of the time. I went on to meet other geeks who introduced me to Photoshop, hobby rockets, and gaming. Being with the geek guys was fun and comfortable.

It was later that I met my husband, the ultimate in geeks. He has been immersed in the geek/computer culture since the 1980’s. While I was studying German and English literature, he was building and growing a BBS. Computers, the internet, virtual worlds, and gaming became his life and passion.

Loving a geek guy is a bit different than your regular husband. Becoming married can be something like an intensive foreign language course. I became immersed in the world of LAN parties, computer partitions, and cyberpunk. Later came Second Life and now, Ingress. Our marriage can be a bit odd at times—whether it’s hearing about the locations of different “portals” in his augmented reality or the ongoing fight of Dr. Who vs. Star Trek, our conversations often have a bit of a Matrix feel.

However, our love remains the same, and our devotion is solid. We may not agree on the best scifi television show—it’s Star Trek—but we love each other. And in a world like ours, that can often be a greater victory than defeating the Death Star.