Monday, September 29, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 17

Were you guys wondering if I saw Goth Girl and Goth Boy today?

I did. 

Well, I saw Goth Boy. Goth Girl was not on the bus. Is she skipping class this near the end of the year? Bad move, GG. Or maybe not. I never once skipped class in high school but I know people who did and they turned out just fine.

However, I did skip class plenty in college and that didn't end so well for me. Thanks to my friend Alan for picking up my differential equations homework to turn in, but if I had just gone to class with him, I, too, might have a PhD from CalTech instead of just an MBA. Alan went to class. I did not. You do the math. (Because apparently, I was incapable of getting up early enough to do so.) After that semester ended, I changed my major to English.

So skipping class can have an impact on your future. I would be far more employable today with an engineering or science degree than I am with an English degree. Let that be a lesson to you, anyone who wants to major in the liberal arts. It's super fun to major in English - you get a degree for reading great books and then writing what you think about them and sometimes, you become a New York Times bestselling writer, like Jeff Abbott, but most of us English majors languish in obscurity, hoping for a 401K and dental.

Goth Girl, get your butt to class.

Goth Boy, on the other hand, was not skipping class. He got on the bus and sat across from me. I caught his eye as he sat and we did the, "Hey fellow bus passenger" silent nod of greeting, but then I couldn't catch his eye again.

I tried, believe me. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to engage him and ask what he was going to do on summer break. I wanted to ask him what he was listening to. But he just stared off into space, perhaps worried about the weird middle-aged lady staring at him.

I also wanted to gently suggest that he should wash his clothes and take a bath, but I don't think there is a way to deliver that information kindly to a stranger. Either he doesn't know that he is smelly, which is bad enough, or he does know and he is in a home situation where resolving the problem is not easy.

I want to know why his mom and dad don't say, "Son! Go take a shower! Throw those clothes in the wash!"

But then, I come from a family where my parents made sure I had clean clothes and that I myself was clean. Maybe he has bad parents. Maybe nobody washes clothes at his house. Maybe they don't have a washer and nobody will take clothes to the laundromat. I don't know.

I almost wanted to call Child Protective Services to report child neglect, just because of the smelly clothes and body. Then I noticed a tattoo on his lower right arm. 

According to wikipedia, which we all know to be an accurate source of legal information, it is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 in Wisconsin, even with parental consent. This was not a new tattoo. I don't think he is over 18. 

If my kid came home with a tattoo, I would hit the roof. I would especially hit the roof it is was in a state where tattooing minors is illegal. 

I get the feeling that nobody is looking out for this poor kid. It makes me sad.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Marriage 701, Lecture 126: Who's the decider?

SH: You didn't get my text!

Me: No, I was on my way home from work.

SH: But I wanted to know if I should pick up season 4 of Leverage on the hold shelf at the library.

Me: But I gave you a list of what to pick up and what not to pick up.

SH: I know.

Me: And on the list, I specifically said not to get Leverage.

SH: I know.

Me: And you read the list out loud to me and said, "So I am not supposed to get Leverage?" and I said "Yes. Do not get Leverage."

SH: But when I got there, I saw that the hold was going to expire today and if I didn't get it, they would pull it from the shelf.*

Me: So?

SH: So I got it anyhow.

Me: But I told you not to.

SH: But it was about to be pulled.

Me: But I told you not to.

SH: But why?

Me: Because I decided, after watching the first episode of season 3, which you returned for me today, that I didn't care any more about what happened to these people, so I wasn't going to bother to pick up season 4.

SH: You should have told me.

Me: Why? I told you not to get it.

SH: Yes, but I assumed you hadn't investigated and didn't know what you were doing.

Me: You need to stop assuming that I don't know how to run my own life.

SH: You need to give me more details for things like this.

Me: No. You need to learn to follow instructions.

SH: I am not your employee.

Me: Nope, but the fact that I specifically wrote - and you confirmed verbally - not to get season 4 of Leverage, even though it would be on the shelf with everything else, should have been enough. Honestly. Are you just used to dealing with complete idiots?

SH: In almost every aspect of our life, I go more into the details than you do.

Me: Yes, but when I say not to pick up the DVD and I have actually written it down on a list of what to get and what not to get, then you should just do as I ask.







* Our library has a great system for holds. You don't have to stand in line to ask the librarian to retrieve your holds. The library sends you an email that says that your hold items will be on the hold shelf from Start Date to End Date and you go in and go straight to the shelf to get your books and DVDs and then you go to the self check and check stuff out and you NEVER HAVE TO INTERACT WITH ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Marriage 701, Lecture 12: The sound of silence

Me: Oh! This is it! Listen!

It doesn’t help that Romain is so talkative first thing in the morning that I often check his back, to see if I can take the batteries out. I need at least thirty minutes, minimum, to adjust to the new day – preferably without any commentary.

SH: What! You've already been up for an hour and a half! You had 90 minutes without me!

Me: Yes, but I still want you to be quiet.

SH: Why?

Me: You talk too much.

SH: You didn't used to tell me to be quiet!

Me:  You didn't used to talk so much.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 16

Got on the bus this morning. No Goth Girl. So no material for the day.

OR SO I THOUGHT.

A few stops later, Goth Boy got on the bus. No Goth Girl. I have never seen him when she is not on the bus.

And then HE SAT NEXT TO ME!!!

Unfortunately, he was a little bit stinky. He needs better deodorant and could probably wash his t-shirt. And - this sounds really mean but it was true - his breath was a little bit bad. I suspect he rolled out of bed, threw on his clothes from yesterday, and walked out of the house without bothering - or having time for - with the things that the rest of us feel compelled to do as grown-ups: we take a shower and brush our teeth not because we like to do so but because we fear ridicule and the impact to our careers. Some people, of course, are so good at what they do that they can be horribly ungroomed, but the rest of us are pretty fungible and must conform to the non-optional (mostly non-optional) social conventions.

I sat reading my book, wondering what to do. Should I put myself in the story? A good reporter doesn't do that.

But I am not a good reporter. I am not bound by those rules.

I put myself in the story.

Me: Do you not have school every day?

GB: What?

Me: Sorry. I'm nosy. I notice who is on the bus and who is not. Sometimes you are on and sometimes you aren't. I just wondered if you have school every day.

GB: On Tuesdays, we have classes online.

Me: Oh! And I have never seen you on the bus before without that girl.

GB [shrugs]

Me: She is very cute.

GB: We're just friends.

I could swear he said this sadly. He was not smiling when he spoke. I am not that great at reading body language, but I guess I am better than some people. My boss started having weekly meetings with everyone in the office. He told me how much everyone loves the meetings.

I answered, "Are you kidding me? They HATE them!"

"How can you tell?" he asked.

I answered, "Because half of them sit there with their arms crossed and won't give you answers other than 'fine' when you ask how their work is going. Two of the people don't even sit at the table, even though there is room. They sit at the chairs against the wall. You cannot have everyone at the table unless they are literally at the table!"

He seemed perplexed, but this is the same guy blesshisheart who on my first day of work, when I moved to the conference room because my desk was right next to the radio, turned the radio off and then told my new co-workers that I didn't like the music. This was after he had asked why I didn't just turn it off. 

"Because I do not want to be the new person who comes in on Day 1 and tries to change the culture," I said.

Yet he still turned the radio off. And blamed me.

"Do you realize what you did to me when you turned the radio off and told people it was because I didn't like it? It took me months to recover," I said.

He seemed surprised.

So maybe I am not so bad at reading body language after all. I could be a lot worse.

GB: We're just friends.

Said sadly. Without a smile. He likes her. She does not like him back. I want to tell him that it wouldn't hurt to bathe and wear clean clothes, but that probably wouldn't help him with her. It will just help him with other girls. If the chemistry is there, it's there, even for a slightly stinky boy. Stinky is ephemeral. She just doesn't feel the same way about him that he feels about her.

Me: Hang in there. Nice guys do win in the end. They do.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Marriage 701, Lecture 76: The hill he will die on

SH: Hey! I do things around the house! I vacuumed and I walked to get fish fry so we could use the coupon and I picked up pears!

Me: I know.

SH: So you can't say I don't do things.

Me: I don't. You brought it up.

SH: So if I would quit my job, I would help.

Me: Oh you would do more than help.

SH: What?

Me: The person who does not have the job for money takes care of everything around the house. That's the rule.

SH: Well, everything except stuff the person is opposed to on principle.

Me: What? What do you mean, opposed to on principle?

SH: Windows. I don't do windows.

Me: You cannot have a principled opposition to washing windows.

SH: Yes I can. I don't care if the windows are clean.

Me: Uh huh. That's because you have never seen them really dirty.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 873: What eyes do not see, heart does not condemn

SH: What are you doing?

Me: Getting some milk.

SH: But why?

Me: Because this brownie is so rich and a swig of milk will be a nice chaser.

SH: Oh.

He watches me set the carton on the counter, open the cupboard, removed a glass, and pour a small amount of milk into the glass.

SH: If I weren't here, you would probably think about not using a glass and just drinking from the carton.

Me: Ha. I wouldn't even think of it. I would just do it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 15

GG and GB were on the bus yesterday. The first thing I noticed when I boarded was that GG had cut her hair! It was a little longer than shoulder length and now is is short - a little shorter than a Dorothy Hammill. It is cut up in the back but a little longer in the front. It is very cute. She had two little purple barettes securing it on her right side.

I took a photo and posted it here, which prompted a few early-rising friends to ask why I had changed my policy about posting photos of GG and GB when I had previously said I wouldn't. I defended myself by saying that you really couldn't see her face, but I decided that Holly and Dean were right and I took the photo down. It was too invasive.

It is not too invasive, however, to write about them.

So. GG had her short hair. She was sitting cross-legged in the aisle seat, as usual, chin in her hands. She was wearing a purple t-shirt to match the purple barettes. Two wood bead necklaces and one silver chain. A black miniskirt over black leggings. Fingerless purple lace gloves, undoubtedly an homage to Madonna, who is old enough to be this girl's grandmother. 

Wait. Is she? Madonna is what, 53? And this girl is 17 - not 15, as I had thought. Yes - if Madonna had had a baby at 18 and that child had a baby at 18, this girl could be Madonna's granddaughter.

I bet Madonna shudders at the idea of being a grandmother.

I am a step-step grandmother, which is an odd state, because I don't feel old enough to be a grandmother but I AM old enough to be a grandmother. My best cousin, Angie, is nine days older than I am and she has two little grandchildren.

I have three step-step grandchildren, so by the calculus used by the indigenous women I worked with in Chile, I win.

That was always the first question any of these women asked me: How many children did I have?

These women were illiterate and lived on subsistence farms, but they always won because they had children and I did not. They felt very sorry for me indeed. 

For the record, I have never cared about having children, but I am delighted to have step-step daughters and step-step grandchildren. It's all the good stuff with none of the hard part.

Where was I? Oh. Goth Boy got on the bus. Still unshaven. I wonder if he is growing a beard. It's a little late in the season for that. 

He sat. They talked about their weekends. I guess they don't see each other on the weekend, although they could: they are both on the bus line. They could just take the bus to each other's house. Why don't they?

I didn't hear much of what they said because they don't talk while the bus is stopped, only when it's moving and noisy.

There was no shoulder bumping. No tickling. No hand grabbing. But neither was there tension.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 123: Holy man



Me: I know we are watching our expenses -

[SH is considering a job change that would require an enormous pay cut. I am not thrilled. Those women who complain that their husbands don't think about anything but making money? You just hush. It's not a bad thing to have a husband who wants to make a lot of money. I like having money. There. I said it. I like having money. I like not having to worry. I like knowing that it will be possible for me to pay my bills when I am 90.]

Me: And that we need  not to waste money.

SH: Yes.

Me: But I don't think we have reached the point where you have to keep wearing these socks.

SH: There is nothing wrong with these socks! They are perfectly wearable.

Me: There are huge holes in the cuffs!

SH: They're not visible. Once they get too bad, I'll buy new ones.

Me: You don't need new socks. You have an entire drawer full of socks you have never worn.

SH: But none this color.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The working life: Saving money and saving the planet by bicycling to work


How I am saving money by riding my bike to my new job:

1. Pair of biking gloves, $12
2. Workout pants that are snug to the ankle so I don't have to secure the cuffs with binder clips, $40 for two pair
3. Backpack to carry my clothes and lunch to work, $2.99 at Goodwill
4. Spare inner tubes, $12
5. New helmet after I broke the old one, $34.95
6. ER bill after I skidded on the wet pavement and wiped out, probably close to $3,000 but I don't know yet because they haven't put it together, but it was already at $1,500 for the CT scan. Who knows what the doc charges will be?
7. Cupcakes delivered to the guy who found me face down in the grass near the only manhole cover - the only hard item for dozens of square yards - and who took me to urgent care, called Chris, and then moved my bike to someplace safe. He wanted to call an ambulance, but I was cogent enough to tell him no, I have a $2,500 deductible on my insurance. Cupcakes, $39

By the way, I am fine. Nothing broken, no permanent damage, just some bruises and a rather rakish-looking scar in my eyebrow. I was back on the bike two days later.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 14

Goth Girl and Goth Boy were not on the bus today, which is why I cannot call them Goth Girl on the Bus and Goth Boy on the Bus, but they had an interesting conversation yesterday about Mothers Day.

(NB I almost slept in this morning, thinking I would go late to work after spending 2.5 hours on the phone last night with Australia, but then I thought, "No! I can't disappoint my friends by not reporting on GGotB and GBotB," but then they weren't even there and I could have slept late.)

GG was saying that she was chastised on Sunday for not wishing her mother a happy mothers day and I sympathized, thinking that I, too, do not like Mothers Day, just as I do not care for Valentine's Day and told SH a long time ago that I do not expect him to observe a holiday imposed on him from without. Valentine's Day is fine for those who wish to observe it and I do not think less of anyone for doing it, but SH doesn't like it and I don't want to force him. It's enough for me that he does the everyday things - cleans the hair out of the drain in the tub, changes the kitty litter, goes to Wal-Mart at midnight to buy and install a new battery for my car (which he did while we were dating). I don't care if I get flowers.

I feel the same way about Mothers Day - it's externally imposed and I am forced to participate not because I believe in it but because I love my mother and do not want her to be hurt that I am not doing it. But if I had my way, Mothers Day would not exist and people would just show their love and appreciation all the time. 

So GG was saying she was chastised for not wishing her mom a happy Mothers Day and I thought, "Oh girl I feel your pain but really, would it kill you to tell your mom that you love her and maybe to spend a few bucks on a card? We all face situations we don't like in life and we do them because standing on principle won't change anything and it will just hurt people we care about."

Then she said that she was going to say something, but by the end of the day, the day was already ruined so why bother? I hope she has had time to reconsider since Sunday and maybe tell her mom that she loves her and that she is sorry for not saying anything on Sunday because again, how does it hurt anyone to do that?

GB said that they went to his grandmother's on Sunday and there were a bunch of relatives, including some people he doesn't like. I can't decide whether it's better to learn at a young age that just because you are related to someone, it doesn't mean you have to like them, or if it is better to have great relatives and enjoy your youth but then be shocked when you get married and discover that some people are real jerks.

I had a nice childhood with nice relatives, so married life has been an adjustment for me, as I had no practice as a kid being around mean drunks or passive-aggressive blind CC'ing emailers. 

Maybe I will see GG and GB tomorrow. Maybe GB will do more than tentatively stroke GG's hair. Maybe her hair won't be covering her face. Maybe she will tell GB that she made her mom a card and gave it to her on Monday.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 873: Madonna complex


SH: I'm going to see Catalina tonight.

Me: Oh, I like her.

SH: Plus she's hot.

Me: Yes, she is. And she's smart. She's the whole package.

SH: She sure is.

Me: I worry more about your hanging out with her than I do about your hanging out with [younger, slimmer, prettier friend].

SH: What? Why?

Me: Because you might have a one-night stand with [younger friend], but you could fall in love with Catalina.

SH: Well, I wouldn't! I wouldn't have an affair with her!

Me: Why not?

SH: I can't have an affair with her! She's married!

Me: So are you!

SH: But how could I have an affair with a married woman?

Monday, September 01, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 13

Blow by blow, as it happened.



 Goth Girl on the Bus has her hair combed forward, covering her face. She looks like Cousin It.

 She just scooted to the window seat in anticipation of Goth Boy on the Bus's stop.

 And they are talking to each other!

 He is showing her photos on his phone.

 Goth Girl: "These sunglasses are perfect for indoors."

 He just stroked her hair.

 GG: "I didn't have time. I'm just wearing jeans and a hoodie."
GB: "You look fine. "
GG: "I took a shower yesterday. It had been way too long for a girl not to take a shower. I am being European."

 GG: "Can you see my face at all with my hair like this?"
GB: "I can see your chin."

GG: My mom is a huge black man in the body of a little Italian woman.

GB is not fidgeting. GG is Chatty Cathy.

GG put her bag in GB's lap

And they are off the bus. It felt less tense than last week.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 123: The clothes probably wouldn't have fit


SH: Wow. You look really hot in that outfit.

[It is the gym pants I wear to ride my bike to work. They are not bike pants - they are regular gym pants with a wide leg. Wide legs do not work well on a bike.]

Me: I know.

SH: So what do the people at work think when they see you?

Me: I don't know. But hey! They are almost all engineers, so they don't make eye contact.

SH: But they still look at your feet.

Me: Oh man. So they see the binder clips attached to my cuffs to hold the pants in. They're probably thinking, "What a dork!"

SH: Nope. They're engineers. They're thinking, "Hmmm. That's a good idea."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 764: Respite for abused husbands who help around the house but do not get enough warm fuzzies


SH: Hey! You've been ignoring me!

Me: What?

SH: I've been doing things!

[He has taken out the recycling, has vacuumed the kitchen - which is one of his chores, and has trimmed the cats' nails. I have done two loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, made macaroni and cheese and potato salad and onion-blue cheese tart, cleaned the cat box, gone to the farmers market, done this big financial report thingy for SH's project, and other stuff.]

Me: OK.

SH: I need affirmation!

Me: Oh really?

SH: Instead of saying, "Thank you - that's enough for a while," you're saying I should do more. That's mean.