Beanie level: Eunuch in drag

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed ever since all the ads appeared that the website loads extremely slowly? It’s rather prohibitive in coming to this site more often.


February 8, 2022 – Day 8

Mea culpa – life got busy. But, here I shall share not an Italian love song, but a Neapolitan (dialect) love song. The song is called Era de maggio (It was May), but I’ll post the English translation. You can readily find the Neapolitan lyrics with an easy google search if so inclined. The song starts in a minor key, but hang on until 1:08, and you’ll see how enchanting it is.



February 5, 2022 – Day 5

Batter my heart, three-person\’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o\’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp\’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv\’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov\’d fain,
But am betroth\’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. – John Donne


February 4, 2022 – Day 4

The translation of each stanza (not literal, but nonetheless captures the spirit of the poem) follows the Italian:

Sui campi e sulle strade
silenziosa e lieve
volteggiando, la neve

On fields and streets below
In wildly whirling flight
Falls noiselessly the light
The snow.

Danza la falda bianca
nell\’ampio ciel scherzosa,
poi sul terren si posa

The white flakes dance their best
In heaven’s hall on high,
Then, tired, down they lie
To rest.

In mille immote forme
sui tetti e sui camini,
sui cippi e sui giardini

On roofs and chimneys steep
That wrapped in silence and,
On graves and garden-land
They sleep

Tutto d\’intorno è pace;
chiuso in oblio profondo,
indifferente il mondo

And all is peace profound:
Lost in oblivion quite,
The world lies still and white,

Ma ne la calma immensa
Torna ai ricordi il core,
E ad un sopito amore

Infinite calm supreme
Descends from heaven above,
And of a slumbering love
I dream.



February 3, 2022 – Day 3
Love always finds a way back to you

I first went to Italy as an “adult” (read: teenager in college) in 1997. I fell in love with it, and in particular, Florence. I bought some Italian language CASSETTE TAPES specific for travelers so that I could avoid being that obnoxious American who would arrogantly expect others to speak English even though I was a guest in their country. I was surprised at how quickly and naturally Italian came to me. I loved Italian and I loved Italy. Yet, even then I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to pursue anything Italian.

Being the firstborn daughter of a Chinese-American family, I was expected to uphold the family honor – go to a prestigious university, have a respectable (and stable) job, marry well, and have children. My dad wanted his children to learn German and French because he felt they were more practical languages – by his definition because he used to do a lot of business in both countries, so he wanted translators he didn’t have to pay. HAHAHA! I was assigned German, my sister assigned French. My sister excelled in French because she loved it. I learned to appreciate German, but I always found it a struggle.

I never realized how much I had hidden my love for Italy until my friend once asked me where I would want to retire, and without hesitation I said “Florence, Italy.” My sister, who was there with me at the time, expressed shock. I always longed to go back to Italy, and did a few times. But, I think I closed off my heart to it a bit, knowing I could never find a justification to delve further in that my parents could approve of.

Lo and behold, I’m (still) finishing my PhD and I find out (rather circuitously, I might add) that a lot of good scholarship I will eventually need is in Italian. I finally had a reason, a legitimate reason to study Italian that my parents couldn’t object to. Not only that, but coincidentally I decided to try a dating app on a whim one night because I was bored and experiencing writer’s block on my PhD thesis. I was matched with a postdoctoral researcher, who just happens to be Italian. We only dated for a month. But, he had kissed me on our second date, and somehow it pierced my heart – not necessarily for him, but it penetrated the barriers I had put up against loving Italy too much. And suddenly, I just couldn’t deny wanting to learn Italian and learning about Italy any longer. It was as if that kiss was the crack that broke the dam.

Italian kisses are dangerous – in case you were wondering.

I poured over Italian grammar books, scoured YouTube videos for lessons, audited an Italian class not attached to my university, participated in Duolingo death matches to practice my Italian. It brings me a lot of joy – joy that I haven’t really experienced much of in my life.

Part of my grieves because had I pursued Italian like I wanted to when I was 19, I would have been fluent by now. Who knows? But, the other part of me is so happy in the midst of this – because something I thought I would never be able to love, I could love finally.

Delayed, yes – but not denied. Something I loved came back to me.

P.S. I have to admit today is a bit bittersweet for me. It is my Italian postdoc’s birthday today, and for reasons I won’t go into, I can’t really wish him a “buon compleanno”, but I’ll say it in my heart with a wish for him to be well, and pray that it will find its way to him.


    Comment was deleted


    Florence is so beautiful. Good luck with your thesis and your Italian!


    It’s wonderful that you’re finally getting the chance to embrace it!


    It’s not too late for love. Wish you an EARLY retirement!


    I don’t think one can love Italy too much! It sounds like you’ve given yourself permission to do so, buona fortuna! Cool personal story, pineapplegongzhu ~


    What a lovely story it is! Thanks for sharing it with us! I particularly love this -because something I thought I would never be able to love, I could love finally—

    I’m happy that finally.. love comes back to you.


    I’m so happy you’re finally able to embrace your love of Italy. Like the “met as kids” trope in dramas (but better), although there was a delay, this was just meant to be ❤ Best of luck with your studies!


    I recently went to Italy (read: 2017), and loved it. We just booked a cruise back there in 2023. I’m glad you came back to your love.


    “Italian kisses are dangerous” 😂
    Now, for real, what a lovely story! I’m happy that you’ve found your way to Italian


    My new ship is you and Italy, I will go down with it. 😘


      @hotcocoagirl: Haha, thanks! It makes me feel much more secure knowing I have your backing. <3 But, hopefully, this ship will sail so you won't have to go down with it. HAHA!


    This is just feel so sweet and hopeful. The coming home of an innocent “first love”. I bet it’s even sweeter because it was quite unexpected for you.


      @gadis: Awww, thanks! I do feel hopeful. And it is rather innocent. And you’re right, it is all the sweeter because even a year ago I would never have thought I would be able to have it. I don’t even think I had considered it a possibility, I had buried it so deep. And yet, I guess it was planted and not buried – so it finally bloomed!


    Oh, what can I say? I love Italy so much. I miss Rome so much… pandemic has taken away form me my yearly Italian trip (although I was in Turin in December).
    I love Italian as well, when I lived in Brussels I learned French because it was useful and I was living there, but… did I like it? NO!
    I just learned Italian for fun, because the language is beautiful!!
    My favourite singer (look aside, babes, he was there long before you!!) is Ligabue. If you don’t know him, I can’t recommend you enough to listen to his songs, they are real poems.


      @eazal: Oh my goodness, THANK YOU for the recommendation! I shall look him up straight away. Do you have any other suggestions of classic Italian singers with melodious tunes and sweet lyrics? I don’t want any of the dark songs that for whatever reason my professor likes to play for us in class to teach us passato prossimo or futuro semplice…HAHAHA


        Just listen to Certe Notti. That was the first song our teacher used for a listening, and Ho messo via. I can’t be thankful enough!!


February 2, 2022 – Day 2
Anyone ever read the book by Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages”? I rather liked it, if only because it explains how we both receive and express love. His main argument was that many times we express love the way we wish to receive it, but in reality, the person we love may receive love in a different form. Then, lots of misunderstandings and hurt feelings can result because we’re not looking to love someone on their terms, but ours.

The Five Love Languages are:
1. Words of affirmation – this may sound self-explanatory, but the key to it is that the affirmation must be sincere. It must be grounded in truth.
2. Quality time – this may also sound self-explanatory, but the key is that a person is given your undivided attention. So, watching TV together is not considered quality time because the attention goes towards the TV rather than the person.
3. Gift Giving – okay, this one really is self-explanatory, but what I find adorable is that the gift does not have to be expensive so much as thoughtful.
4. Acts of service – When you serve someone by doing something for them – taking out the trash, opening the door, basically making their life easier by some concrete action.
5. Physical Touch – this one is interesting because people always equate it with intimate sensuality (or, you know, that other closely related word which I will not type as I am trying to keep this post Rated G – but you know what I mean), but it can be something as common as a handshake. It can be a hug. It can even be a playful fist bump.

Another note is that sometimes how someone receives love is different from how someone expresses love. For me, I receive love through quality time, but I express love through acts of service. Funny, huh?

Anyway, which one is yours, and what are the ones your loved ones have? Has it been difficult to love someone on his/her terms rather than your own?



February 1, 2022 – Day 1

So, I’m going to be slightly cheating here because I only JUST remembered today that it is Love, February! On Facebook I have my own little tradition – counting down to Valentine’s Day with SUPER CHEESY chat up lines. This year I felt like it was time to do some Covid-themed chat up lines. Drum roll please….

1. is that Covid in my lungs or has your smile just left me breathless?
2. I’m just a boy, standing 6 feet away from a girl, maybe asking you to love back another foot. Thanks.
3. You can’t spell virus without U and I
4. I saw you from across the bar. Stay there.
5. If Covid-19 doesn’t take you out, can I?



Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #14:
Through the fiery furnace

There is a famous New York City pastor called Tim Keller. He’s a brilliant theologian, pastor, and apologist for the Christian faith.

During one of his Oxford visits I spoke with his wife, Kathy Keller. Now, while I adore Tim Keller, my respect for him skyrocketed after listening to a recording of them doing a marriage seminar. Kathy Keller did NOT sound like a simpering, sweet, demure, submissive, agreeable pastor’s wife. Oh no. She was a fiery, independent, smart-as-a-whip woman with a tongue that was as sharp as a double edged sword. Oh snap! What can I say? Strong women appreciate other strong women.

When I met Kathy Keller in real life she did not disappoint. She was exactly how I imagined she would be. Quite the firecracker. To be honest, she had all her defense mechanisms up while talking to me. I don’t blame her. When your husband becomes a celebrity minister in the evangelical world, you become the target of many unkind, undeserved, and frankly, uneducated censures when your husband doesn’t preach what people presume he should.

Anyway, as I was talking to Kathy Keller she remarked “I feel I have to protect Tim because he’s so soft-hearted.” We were standing close to Tim Keller as he was engaged in a conversation with another Oxford student. Kathy turned and gave him an affectionate pat on the back.

In that moment, as she was facing her husband, all the defense mechanisms fell. I saw her love for him that was so unguarded, genuine and true that if I had to describe it it looked like a string of gold that had been heated until it glowed. It looked so vulnerable exposed like that, I felt I could have reached out to break it; but it was so holy and pure that I almost shrank back from its sacredness. It was obviously the kind of love that had gone through the fiery furnace of affliction again and again and again, and came out stronger and more beautiful each time.

I stood transfixed in awe and whispered to myself, “One day when I meet my husband, this is the sort of love I want.”

I wish you also this kind of sacred love that can withstand all the trials of life. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Love, February


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #13:
Too bad I’ll never see him again

This is another love story of a couple from my parents’ church in Orange County. Barbara is from California, Chris is from New Jersey. But, during the spring semester of 1982, Chris visited Barbara’s roommate, Linda, whom he served with on a mission field with InterVarsity in the Philippines. Barbara wasn’t actually keen on his visit since it was in the middle of exams.

But, when he arrived, even though she was already in bed, she got up and put on her green bathrobe (apparently Chris still calls it her UGLY green bathrobe) and went down to welcome him (good old-fashioned manners, ya know?). Soon Barbara was glued to her seat on the floor, finding him fascinating to listen to. Over his visit she started to go out of her way to spend time with him. She was more herself with him than she had been with any other guy she knew. When he left her wrote “Too bad I’ll never see him again, who knows what could have happened?”

BUT….apparently what DID happen is that Barbara’s dad gave her as a graduation gift an airplane ticket to New York! She stayed with a friend in Brooklyn, but Chris came to pick her up from the airport, and showed her around the Jersey Shore. They had a whirlwind of fun that included holding hands and taking the romantic carriage ride in Central Park (*snort* such a touristy thing to do, Barbara and Chris!).

When Barbara got home she wrote him a thank you letter, on notebook papers….and added “I think I fell a little in love with you in our time together.” He wrote back. Then, they started to call each other regularly…on the landline! They were young and poor so their phone bills were expensive, and another airplane trip was out of the question. They became long-distance boyfriend and girlfriend in August 1982, but only saw each other again in December 1982.

Their first kiss was in the LAX Terminal when Chris got off the plane to visit Barbara for Christmas!! They dated long distance until 1986, and Barbara said it wasn’t always easy. Chris finally got a job transfer to California, they got engaged in Honolulu, and then were married in October 1986!

And the rest is history!

Love, February

Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #12:
We’ve got a problem.

This is the love story of one of my favorite couples from my parent’s church back in Orange County, Robert and Jill. They also have this GREAT Christmas tradition of making tamales which are SO GOOD! I snagged quite a few in the previous years before coronavirus.

They grew up in Orange County, and had the same friends in high school, but didn’t know one another. Then, during college they became friends. The summer after college they were both in that dreaded holding position before jobs or grad school. They ended up hanging out a lot, so much so that Jill’s mom said “Are you guys going out?” And Jill, exasperated said “No, MOM! We’re just friends.”

Then apparently at a party Jill flirted hard with Robert to the point where I guess he didn’t want to be in the friend zone anymore. The following conversation ensued:

Robert: We have a problem?
Jill (worried): What problem!?
Robert: I think I’m in love with you.
Jill: Oh, well, I think I like you, too.
Robert: Oh, thank heavens!!!

And that was that! They have been married for 28 years, have two children and a dog named Enzo. Jill says that some days she still has no idea who Robert is. HAHAHA! The great adventure of marriage and getting to know someone down to the very depths – a wonderful lifetime pursuit!!



Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #11:
God, I am NOT okay with You answering this prayer!

Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

This is the love story of my two dear friends in Oxford. It’s quite cute because we, as Aaron’s church community, got to see it unfold before our very eyes! Aaron is a PhD student at Pembroke. When he arrived, he quickly (as in within 3 weeks) became part of our little circle of postgraduate friends who would hang out together. But, little did we know…..

Back in South Africa there was a lovely lady who was missing him quite a lot. Roberta and Aaron went to the same church back in Cape Town, but they never met until Aaron joined Roberta’s small group. I think there was a bit of instant attraction because Roberta wanted to take up running, and Aaron is a natural runner. He offered to accompany her on runs. Roberta was pretty smitten with Aaron, and I’m fairly sure Aaron was smitten with Roberta, but both of them individually heard “Wait” from God, so they said nothing to each other.

During a weekend away for their church’s small group community they prayed over Aaron as he was about to leave for Oxford. They specifically prayed that Aaron would find a loving and warm church community in Oxford. Roberta was experiences ALL THE FEELS, knowing he was leaving, fearing that he might meet his future wife in Oxford. She had written a letter (of encouragement) for him……….6 pages long. HAHA! When he dropped her off at home, she ran in to grab the letter but asked him not to read it until he left.

Fast forward to Aaron in Dubai’s airport on the layover to England, he opened Roberta’s letter. He thought it was a confession, but it wasn’t. In fact, I think he was really impressed that 6 pages were filled with nothing but encouragements for him (with no any strings attached). Aaron says that in the airport was the first time he asked God to give him Roberta specifically.

Back in Oxford all of us (Aaron’s church community) are happily bobbing, but unbeknownst to us, Aaron is messaging his church family back in Cape Town saying how their prayers for him have been answered as he’s forming a really good group of friends. This sends Roberta into a tailspin. “GOD, I AM *NOT* OKAY WITH YOU ANSWERING THIS PRAYER!” She was seriously fretting that Aaron would meet his wife within the next week.

Roberta goes crying to her flatmate who sensibly says “Do you think that holding in your feelings for Aaron is an attempt to control the situation rather than surrender it to God? Maybe you should tell him……”

Fast forward to Roberta half-confessing, half-crying to Aaron on the phone, and Aaron giggling (he wasn’t trying to be mean) because basically he was going to confess to Roberta that he liked her a week later…she just beat him to the punch. This was in November 2017. In March(?) or maybe it was May, Aaron messages me and says “Hey, fancy a walk?” I said “Sure”, but I must have also been messaging another friend at that time because a second later I said to this friend “My friend just asked me out on a walk. I think he’s going to tell me that he’s going to propose to Roberta.”

I guessed right. By May they were engaged, by September they were married. And we all got to meet Roberta in October (or maybe it as November)! It was really lovely to meet the woman who captured our Aaron\’s heart. And she fit right into the group, like a glove!

So, we are doubly blessed to have her with us these 2+ years… and here’s to many more!!!

Love, February


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #10:
Ummm…don’t you WANT my number??

This is the meet-cute of my best friend, Michelle and her husband, Brian. N.B. I knew he was a keeper when she actually LET me meet him.

Picture the scene: Seattle, on a Saturday evening at a bar.

Brian was at the bar trying to get the bartender’s attention with no luck. Michelle comes sauntering by to place her own order when she notices Brian flailing a bit.

Michelle: Do you need any help getting the bartender?
Brian: No, I’ve got this.

5 minutes later….Michelle: Hey (to the bartender), you have customer (gesturing at Brian) here.

Then, Brian orders exactly what Michelle ordered, Hefeweisen, even though he hates it. They get to chatting. The friends Brian was with left the bar at midnight, and he just casually lets them go (even though they are his ride home). HAHA! Brian looks all sweet and innocent, but there’s definitely some cunning in that scientist brain of his!

Once Michelle realizes that Brian is strained she offers him a ride (probably just like he wanted her to, sneaky dude). She drops him off at home. I’m editorializing here, but I maintain he was in this combination of tipsy AND nervous being around Michelle – so he just got out of the car. Luckily, Michelle is a go-getter (like the awesome auditor she was):

Michelle: Aren’t you going to ask for my phone number??

And the rest, my friends, is history! I was a bridesmaid at her wedding. And just to prove to you what good friends we are, and how pushy former auditors can be, when Michelle said “I’m getting married!!”, my first response was “Congratulations! So, I’m going to be a bridesmaid, right??”

Michelle: Well, I wasn’t really planning on having any bridesmaid.
Me: No, you have to have bridesmaids. [Turns out Brian wanted 4 groomsmen, so Michelle had to wrestle up 4 bridesmaids]. And how’s this for audacious:

Me: Great, so I’m going to be your maid of honor, right???
Michelle: Ummm….well, I was going to have my high school best friend be the maid of honor.
Me: Yeah, but I’m super organized, I make decisions (like a good auditor should), and I would make a good speech.
Michelle: You have some good points.
Me: I know, right??

I didn’t get to be maid of honor, but Michelle basically divided up the maid of honor duties amongst the four of us. I DID get to give the “maid of honor” speech…and almost cried really badly. But, whatever, everyone was crying with me…because we were so happy for Michelle and Brian. <3

Love, February


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine\’s Day #9:
Love in the Time of Corona

A few friends began relationships right around the time of the first lockdown last year. But, I\’m quite pleased to report a special one which resulted in engagement in December, and planned for \”elopement\” in a little more than a month!
They have been given pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

Wynn and Janet met in a bakery. I think it was supposed to be a low pressure, breezy coffee date, but they couldn\’t stop talking to one another, so they ended up going to dinner. Then they met for coffee two days after that. Two days after THAT they became official.

Then the lockdown happened. They\’ve been together ever since. There were no dramatic ups and downs. As Janet put it, \”We knew what we were looking for and found it in each other.\”

She acts all composed, I DO remember her being VERY nervous meeting his closest friends for the first time during a games night (this was when restrictions had lifted briefly). I think she was fretting about what to bake them. HAHA! Classic Janet.

The sweetest part of their courtship was when Janet mentioned how anxious she was about the relationship. It just seemed too easy – it was just so easy to love Wynn and be loved by him, she thought it was a sign that they wouldn\’t work out.

But, each time her anxiety got the better of her, and she said \”we should break up\”, Wynn would calmly counter with \”No, we can work through this.\” And that was that. They worked through it.

Janet showed me a picture of her engagement ring in December, and now she\’s making her bridal bouquet out of pages from old books for her elopement in MARCH!!! EEEEEEEKKKKK! I\’m so excited for them!!!

Love, February


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #8:
Defining the Relationship…..twice

I met Seth at church when he started graduate school at Berkeley. One of my first impressions of him was actually the love story he told about how he and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Alexa got together.

They met at Ohio State. Alexa was looking for a Christian fellowship group and Seth was the president of InterVarsity. They met for an impromptu worship session with his best friend, and then the three of them had a Bible study together the next year. The trio hung out together a lot discussing philosophy and other nerdy topic, alongside daily prayer walks around campus.

It soon became apparent to Seth that Alexa liked him. As an honorable Christian guy, he felt it was only appropriate to give the dreaded “DTR” (define the relationship….as in, NOT romantic). He was gentle and kind in his first DTR to Alexa. And while Alexa respected the boundary, her heart was still tied up with Seth. In April, after Seth had chipped his tooth, Alexa came by to cheer him up. Seth had again sensed that Alexa hadn’t really let him go, and felt a second DTR was necessary. He was not as gentle this second time around.

From Alexa’s point of view the second DTR was a lesson in letting go and trusting rather than trying to control everything. She wanted Seth to like her very badly but there was literally nothing she could “do” to make that happen.

After this second DTR, Seth sensed a change in Alexa in that she gave him some space. He found himself attracted to her in a while he hadn’t before. So, now he had some wrestling to do with his feelings; included in this was also his acceptance to Berkeley for graduate school. He took a step of faith on the last day of senior finals:

Seth: I think I like you, would you like to start a relationship? I can give you time if you want.
Alexa [GASP]: Is it ok to say I have already thought about it and yes I\’d like to start a relationship?

Seth had to break the news to his friends. HAHAHA! Alexa says that when she finally felt she was letting go of control that is when Seth turned around and chased her!

As Seth describes it, starting their relationship long distance had its benefits. They had to learn how to talk to each other and resolve conflict before hanging up. They discussed what loving one another really meant, especially in light of the Bible’s teaching about commitment. Another important conversation ensued:

Seth: How would I know that I\’m ready to say \’I love you\’? I don\’t know who I\’ll be in the future?
Alexa: It\’s an act of faith and grace.

After two minutes of silence on the Berkeley waterfront, Seth said: Alexa, I love you and by the grace of God I\’ll love you all my life.

They got engaged that Christmas Eve, and Seth moved back to Ohio to get married while Alexa finished undergraduate. Two kids and at least 16+ years of marriage later, I still remember their love story, which is why I wanted to share it, and I just love them as a couple! They are always encouraging, thoughtful and faithful in their walk with the LORD and in loving one another.

Love, February

Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #7:
If you truly knew me, would you stay?

The Music Man is obviously not a love story of a friend, but too compelling to forego. It’s a musical by Meredith Wilson set in 1912 River City, Iowa about a charismatic conman, Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer in order to swindle naive Midwestern townsfolk into buying musical instruments and band uniforms. He intends to skip town without giving musical lessons before the town gets wise to his scheme.

The only one who stands between him and his latest swindle is the town’s prim and straight-laced librarian and piano teach, Marian Paroo. He attempts to seduce her in order to keep his cover, but fails. Finally Marian finds evidence to expose Harold as a conman, but just then the band instruments arrive. Amongst the children excited for the instruments’ arrival is Marian’s own younger brother, Wintrop, who has become silent and withdrawn into himself after the death of his father. Suddenly full of joy and loquaciousness, Wintrop is wholly transformed, and Marian notices that the entire town has come alive with excitement, kindness and unity over the promised band.

But, why is this a compelling love story? Well, partially because Marian, despite her misgivings about Harold Hill, is able to recognise the good that came through even with his lies. He gave the town something fun to look forward to, to rally around, to be proud of – to dream. But, I think it’s more of a love story for Harold. He had spent his entire life conning people into believing he was someone he was not. He was charming, effervescent, and accepted – so long as they believed his facade. When Marian confesses not only that she loves him but that she knew all along he was a conman, he’s stunned.

Here was the one person who was never fooled by him, yet chose to love him for who he truly was – both good and bad. He’s still in shock when the town finally figures out he’s a swindler, but rather than run away he decides to stay and stand trial. I won’t give a way the ending for any of you who haven’t watched it. But, I highly recommend watching, especially Marian’s defense of him at the climax.

The YouTube excerpt is when the band instruments arrive with the Wells Fargo wagon, and shows the excitement of the whole town:

Love, February


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #6:
Infatuation to friendship

Not all love stories are romantic. Can men and women be friends? Ah, the age old question. Personally, I think yes. Case in point, during my Berkeley days I had to go to the student-run “Computer Help Desk”. It was manned by students in EECS (Electrical Engineers and Computer Science) or others who were well-versed in computers. I’m a luddite, so when my computer acted up, I went for help.

Lo and behold, there was a cute guy manning the desk. But, when I told him my PC was acting up, he said “That’s because PCs are inferior to Macs,” and began to wax lyrical about the superiority of Apple to Microsoft. I literally don’t care what computer I’m using. But, I found his overenthusiasm for Macs amusing, and him even more interesting. Hmmm….but how to make him notice me?

That night I chatted with my roommate, who is also a Mac user, about how weird it was for this guy to love his Mac so much.

Roommate: You don’t understand, Nicole. Mac users LOVE their Mac.
Me: Yeah yeah, I mean, I like my computer too, but because it does what I need it to.
Roommate: No no, Nicole. Mac users L-O-V-E their Macs.
Me: Huh. Really? Interesting……….

Next came about 30 mins of trial and error as I started to insult Macs to my roommate trying to figure out which ones would get a rise. I wanted to have enough comebacks and zings to be cheeky, but avoid being offensive. It’s a delicate balance. I waited a few days, and then returned to the Computer Help Desk.

It worked like a charm. To this day he still thinks this was the first day we met. Oh, no no no, Jason, we met a few days prior. Anyway, I would CASUALLY go to the Computer Help Desk area to check my emails while on campus (there were computers you could hop onto for a few minutes). And then I would CASUALLY just chat with him.

One day we got into an argument over the Hong Kong metro system. It was about the position of the Central station in comparison to Causeway Bay on the Island Line. I insisted Causeway Bay was west of Central, Jason insisted it was east of Central.

Me: Fine, let’s take a bet. If I’m right you have to treat me to dim sum. If you’re right, I’ll treat you to dim sum.
Jason: Fine. Let me look it up!

See, here’s the problem. The moment he agreed to the bet, I had already won. Because no matter who won, we were already on a date. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Turns out I lost. Rats. But, we were in Berkeley. The dim sum place I chose was in San Francisco. A full 1.5 hours away on public transit. I basically had him for a full half day date.

We had a good time. We soon made this pact to be movie buddies, accompanying one another to the movies that no one else wanted to see. We became good friends. Then one day it dawned on me that I really valued him as a friend, and I was perfectly content that way. That was the end of my scheming. Jason seemed to date a lot more than I did. I couldn’t blame him. After all, he was intelligent, fun and NOT a player: a rare quality in a good-looking Chinese guy. Whenever he had girlfriends I would respectfully keep my distance to acknowledge the relationship boundaries. Not that it was really needed. Jason isn’t the type to cheat. Hilariously we had a conversation about this a while back:

Jason: You know, Marie never liked you.
Me: What?? She never even MET me!
Jason: Yeah, she never liked you. She thought you liked me.
Me: Well, yeah, because I did.
Jason: Really?
Me: Yeah

Men really are daft. Anyway, I’m pleased to say that Jason and I are still friends after all these years. Jason still defends the superiority of Apple. He denies it, but it’s true. I bought my first iPhone from him, as well as my second. He now teases me that I have to concede he was RIGHT about Macs now that I own Mac products. Yeah yeah yeah, whatever, Apple boi.


    This is a lovely story and I also agree men and women can be very good friends. I have some very good men friends and, as you said, I try to keep my distance from their girlfriends until they understand our friendship. One of my best friends, Jonathan, started to date a girl who I thought was a bit picky, but it was not me the one who date her, so… but she won my heart the day she told him: “If you all go on a trip, you can share the room with M., she’s your best friend and I totally trust her”. I was surprised, as I thought she didn’t like me at all (they are now married and have a lovely baby boy).
    And I’m writing this from my Mac, which is connected to my iPad and my iPhone. I’m an Apple beanie!


    Lifelong friendships are indeed underrated in the love story scene. I remember I wrote my nonfiction piece in my undergrad creative writing about my relationship with my best friend, and everyone thought I was confessing my romantic love for her.

    Nah, you can love and value someone without them being a romantic interest.


    Yes, 100% you can be best friends with absolutely anyone without any romantic notions. I’m an Apple convert as well.


    Awww, this is a delightful story! I’m so happy for you both. And I laughed out loud that you argued over the station stops in HK 🤣


    Lovely story!


    On June 20th, 2014 I sent a message to a boy on FB! I even know that it was 10:43 pm!:))
    I told him “I saw your comment on a Friends fan page and I really loved what you had written. Can I be your friend?”
    As an introvert, it has always been so difficult for me to start a conversation but I forced myself to do that and I’m so happy I did!
    Because after that we became friends and since that day, I’ve never met anyone as wonderful as him. No romance..
    He’s my best friend. we live in different cities but we talk to each other every single day. His girlfriend is a gem as well, she always says “ I admire your friendship”.. and those words are so precious for me..

    I’m happy I read about other Beanies and their friends^^


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine\’s Day #5:
I dig you, Pompeii

This is the love story of two of my very dear friends, but their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Hannah and Luke met one another on an archaeology program in Rome. The way Luke tells it there was instant spark the moment he met Hannah. He even imagined quite early on what it would be like to be in a relationship with her – even having kids with her (their daughter is about to turn 1 very soon!).

For part of the program they were in Pompeii. On their last night there Hannah and Luke had a heart-to-heart and decided that it wouldn’t be practical to start a relationship long distance. Hannah also had freaked out because Luke is younger than her, and she didn’t want to date someone who (she thought) wouldn’t take the relationship seriously.

Picture the scene: Hannah sitting on her bed, lamenting to her roommate how not dating Luke was probably for the best (but obviously she was very disappointed). Meanwhile Luke was on the phone with his parents lamenting how he met this wonderful woman but they decided not to date because of the long distance.

His parents, being direct as only the Dutch can be: “If you really like her then you’d be stupid not to give it a shot.”

Well, that was the only encouragement Luke needed. He raced over to Hannah’s dorm room.

Hannah says her heart leaped at the knock on her door, hoping it was Luke. And it was. He said they should just go for it.
After that, they dated long distance for a year. They moved to Oxford when she started her masters’ program. They were engaged by March 2013, married in August, then moved to Greece for a year for another archaeological program. They’ve bounced around as academics must.

What is their love like? I think one of our mutual friends once said it best “I just want to find the man who loves me as much as Luke loves Hannah.” I couldn\’t agree more.


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine\’s Day #4:
Love in the Golden Age

Another love story from my former spiritual director, although this is of her father, George.
George and Louise dated for two years whilst in college. When it was time to graduate she was ready to get married, but he wasn’t. They parted amicably and went on with their lives.

Louise met Bill, married him, and built a life together raising three children. George, after a stint in the army, met Marilynn. They married and also had three children. Too soon Marilynn became very ill. George cared for her until her death, then finished raising their teenage kids alone. Some years later Louise was widowed. Both spent more than a decade alone.

Then came their fifty year college reunion. Although they had had no contact in the intervening years, George and Louise found each other again then. They traveled the world together, sharing their interests, friends, and families. Although they did not marry, their romance brought joy to them and all who knew them.

Love, February


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #3:
What a difference a day makes

My former spiritual director recalls the love story of Connie, a cook from a fraternity house during her college days.

Connie and Joe met in a bar in Utica, NY. As they were talking Joe lamented that no women would want to marry him. Connie replied “That’s not true, I’d marry you.”

They got married the next day.

As Connie was the cook of the fraternity house, she and her husband would attend its annual formal dance. This is where my spiritual director saw them dancing together. They had been married for 30 years by that time. She said that as she watched them dance they looked just as in love as if they were newlyweds.

Love, February


Love Stories Countdown to Valentine’s Day #2:
One yellow rose

A friend has allowed me to share her parent’s courtship, but their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Her parents, Nathan and Margot, met at church during their university days. They were in the same college-age youth group. They had been dating for a while, but Margot was still unsure about whether she was ‘in love’ with Nathan. As a poor student Nathan couldn’t afford to take Margot on lavish dates, but he always worked hard to buy her a dozen red roses each Sunday when he took her out on a walk around the parks.

He even proposed to her twice. And was rejected twice.

Then, one day early on in the week Margot decided it was high time to determine whether or not there was a future for her and Nathan. She asked God for a sign. “If he is THE ONE, Lord, then…..hmmmm…..have him bring me a single yellow rose on our next date.”

This seemed like a good litmus test for a legitimate sign since it would be so out of character for him to buy her anything but a dozen red roses. She prompted forgot about her prayer.

The next Sunday Margot came to the door to see a downcast Nathan.

Margot: Nathan, what’s the matter??
Nathan: I went to buy you a dozen red roses today at the market, but they were all wilted and dying. I found these other beautiful roses, but they were so expensive I could only buy one. I hope you don’t mind having a yellow rose today.
Margot [shocked]:….
Nathan [apologetic]: Don’t be upset!!! I promise you, I’ll buy you a dozen red roses next week!!! I PROMISE!!!
Margot: Ummm….no…. that’s okay…..

She didn’t tell him about her prayer until about 2 weeks later when they were on another date.

Margot: Ummm….do you remember how you proposed to me a couple times before…..?
Nathan: Yes…..?

Apparently the story drops off there, at least in Margot’s version. Nathan still claims he proposed to her, and she accepted. She says she nudged him. (Actually, can’t really blame the guy. After all, she did say ‘no’ twice before).

However, over 30+ years of marriage, and 3 kids later I am happy to report they are very much still a wonderful couple, and I am certainly grateful since they are the parents of one of my very dear friends.

Love, February