Friday, August 01, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 762: This is how we optimize trunk space


SH and I just returned from vacation and have the post-vacation blues, the blues that go, "Why wasn't I born rich? Why wasn't I born a trust-fund brat? I would not waste the family fortune on cocaine. I would still work hard but I would take more than ten days of vacation in the summer and I would spend it all at the cottage on Lake Superior."

We have desponded over our lack of wealth and lack of vacation time. But while we were at the cottage, we enjoyed every single second of it, even the first two days when we had to build a fire (in the fireplace) because it was so darn cold.

Yes. A fire. In July. I also have been wearing my light coat to work in the mornings. It is coolish here and my tomatoes and nasturium can't figure it out. I can't figure it out. Shouldn't global warming make it, you know, warmer?

So what happened was we were supposed to leave the cottage on Sunday and we were so depressed on Saturday night that we could hardly sleep. We got up on Sunday and listlessly packed the car and then SH got online and discovered there was nobody else checking into the cottage that night. He called the front desk and asked if we could have a late checkout time, which they gave us.

Then he started to wonder if we should maybe just stay at the cottage one more night.

We are not spontaneous people.

This was a crazy, crazy idea.

We do not make last-minute vacation decisions.

1. It is not inexpensive.
2. We had already packed the car. (Commitment escalation.)
3. I had already made plans to see my aunts and uncles on the way home. One of my uncles is about 85 years old and his health is not so great. I worry that I might not see him again. Plus I really like my aunts and uncles and wanted to see them.

But.

1. My husband was going through severe vacation withdrawal and marital health trumps all.

So we decided to stay the extra night.

Which meant we unpacked the car.

Which meant that SH had the whole evening to think about how to re-pack the car in a better way. Even though the initial packing had gotten everything into the car with room to spare. It's not like we looked like the Joads.

But packing is one of SH's things. Getting rid of stuff is not. Arranging the stuff he has is. I would rather optimize space by getting rid of useless things, like old phone bills, but SH is scared to throw anything away and is happy just to arrange and re-arrange his stuff.

(I will hear him in the basement, moving his wine around. He will spend 30 minutes at a time reorganizing the wine.)

SH takes great pride in his packing. Earlier in the trip, he packed some restaurant leftovers into the cooler. I urged him to get on with it already. He had to move a case of Minnesota beer that apparently one cannot get in Wisconsin and then shift the tennis rackets and then get into the cooler and then unpack the cooler and re-pack it with the leftovers

I urged him to hurry his butt up we had places to go and honestly what could possibly be taking so long with putting leftovers in a cooler?

He answered, "You just want me to hurry up and be done with it and I want to admire my handiwork."


The photo is in Cornucopia, on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 45: How can you tell if an elephant has been in your refrigerator?


Me: Hey! Someone scraped off the top of this stick of butter!

SH: It might have been me.

Me: But now it's not a full stick of butter! I can't use it for the cookies!

SH: I needed butter for my corn.

Me: There are bits of butter in the fridge!

SH: This is how we did it in my family.

Me: Yeah, well, your family does things wrong.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 8

You guys, I don't know what happened yesterday with GG and GB - I worked from home because 1. who wouldn't rather work from home and 2. we are getting estimates for painting the garage and the window trim and other things and I had to meet with The Guy, who arrived at 2:04 for a 2:00 appointment and I told him how happy SH would have been with that because for SH, on time is five to ten minutes late whereas for Wisconsin people, on time is five or ten or 15 minutes early and The Guy said he would have been on time but he got stuck behind a truck - but they are a little bit lovey-dovey!

I got on the bus. Someone was in my seat - I couldn't be too mad because it was my friend Liz, but I didn't want to sit next to her because I prefer my own seat so I can spread out - and I had to sit a few seats behind GG. She was not glammed up today. Looks like she hasn't washed her hair in a few days. She had a big black hairband holding it back, kind of a '60s vibe. Baggy jeans with rolled-up cuffs, huge white hoodie. Sunglasses.

Girl with the Weird Bangs was in front of her and they were chatting, chatting, chatting, only I couldn't hear them very well. I caught "reputation" and "I have a bad reputation" which of course made me very curious. Just how bad can a high school girl's reputation be, especially these days when nothing is bad?

GB got on the bus. GWWB stuck her red-leggings-clad leg out to trip him. He laughed and sat next to GG, who had scooted over. GG said, "Hiiiiii!" in almost a "We slept together last night and now I am feeling a little flirty" way except I would guess they probably did not sleep together last night. GB was jaunty, but not that jaunty.

As soon as GB sat, he leaned into her and bumped her with his shoulder. Or maybe she did it first. Rats! I didn't write down who did it first and I can't remember! That's an important detail, don't you think?

He bumped her. She smiled and then she bumped him. He bumped her again and then she bumped him again.

Multiple bumps, you guys!

I caught bits and pieces of their conversation. She was claiming that just because someone jumps from 115 feet, it doesn't mean he will die. GB challenged her. She said, "I can come up with multiple scenarios where he doesn't die. He has a parachute. Or he falls into a truck full of pillows. Or into water."

I wanted to interject that from 115 feet, even water will not cushion that fall, but how can someone who has probably never had the opportunity to jump off a high dive know that water can be very hard, even from ten feet? There are no diving boards any more, are there? Or very few. Do high schools even have diving teams any more? I was on the diving team. I was not very good, but all you had to do was show up to be on the team and I am good at showing up.

GB laughed. He said, "Or the person could open his jacket and swoop, like a flying squirrel."

Oh they laughed and laughed. 

Then - AND THIS IS THE BEST PART!! - he started tickling her again and she squealed, "Stooooop!" and she grabbed his hand and he grabbed her hands and there was HAND GRABBING!

Oh the flirting. I can't stand it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 875: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

Photo: Almost at Madeline Island.

SH: What are you doing?

Me: Eating a bite of cookie.

SH: But you're only eating one bite!

Me: I know. It's only breakfast time. I am not going to eat a whole cookie this early.

SH: But you are eating less than the minimum cookie unit!

Me: What are you talking about?

SH: You should eat cookies in units of at least half a cookie.

Me: You are not the ruler of the cookies.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 7

I was at Danette's house for a Lutheran book club party, which had great food and also had wine, which is not something I associate with Lutherans. Maybe we are getting more ecumenical and the Catholics, who do not have a church event without beer, are rubbing off on the ELCA.

Danette and I were speculating about Goth Girl on the Bus and Goth Boy on the Bus last night. Did he cheat on her? Is that why she is being so cold to him? 

I said that it looks like she really has the upper hand in the relationship and that he likes her a lot more than she likes him. So why would he cheat on her?

But stranger things have happened.

Danette told another person, who also got involved in the conversation, that Goth Boy was really a nice kid.

Which appears to be true but how can you tell? He is not a yeller. He does not glare. He does not seem to be the type of man who would make someone cry. He just wants to be in the presence of Goth Girl. He just wants her to look at him. He wants to put his arm around her and lean his head into hers the way he used to.

But she won't talk to him. He can sit by her, but that's it. 

A detail I have left out that may or may not be relevant is that Goth Boy has bad acne on his cheeks. I look at his face and wonder if his mom has taken him to a dermatologist. He has all the underpinnings to be a very attractive man some day - he is tall and lanky and he just looks sweet, but bless his heart, that acne is hard. Can boys take accutane? 

So Danette and I wonder if Goth Girl is punishing Goth Boy for something? Did she go to that concert alone to Show Him? Or are they only schoolyard sweeties? I had a boyfriend whom I mostly saw at school. We would go out behind the chemistry lab at lunch and neck. We could do this every day because we were in the Panama Canal Zone and the weather is always nice.

He gave me whisker burn, which I didn't know about but figured out immediately when my mom asked, "What's that rash on your chin? It's looks like whisker burn!" My hand flew to my chin, covering it, as I said, "Oh, no - probably just mango rash."

The next day, I told David - who ditched me right before the prom to go with the weird redhead from my PE class but I heard he spent the night in jail so hahahahaha - that he had to shave or I wasn't kissing him any more.

Maybe Goth Boy and Goth Girl only see each other at school, except that makes no sense - they are both on the 57 bus line, so could easily see each other on the weekend.

I wish Girl with the Weird Bangs would show up again and maybe sit by me so I could ask her what's going on.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 230: Roles and responsibilities, or, How ultra-liberal men are down with the sisterhood

SH: We're going to be gone a long time on this trip.

Me: Yes. Over a week.

SH: We have to look nice for some of it.

Me: When we go out to dinner with my aunts and uncles.

SH: The rest, we can just wear t-shirts.

Me: Definitely.

SH: But the underwear.

Me: We will need underwear.

SH: I don't want to pack that much.

Me: You can always wash some.

SH: Or you could wash it for me.

Me: Or you could wash it.

SH: Or you could wash it for me.

Me: I am not washing your underwear while we are on vacation.

SH: But you will be washing your own.

Me: What does that have to do with it?

SH: You can just do mine, too.

Me: Nope. But I will be happy to tell you, Mr. Phi Beta Kappa, how to wash underwear in the sink.

SH: I don't want to know how.

Me: Why not?

SH: When will I never need to know this again?

Me: Next year, when we are on vacation again?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wisconsin 101: This is how we make reservations

Me: I'd like to make a reservation for eight for next Sunday.

Small restaurant in northern Wisconsin: What time, please?

Me: Oh, I don't know. Maybe 5:30? But it might change.

SR: So 5:30-ish?

Me: Yes. I think so.

SR: OK. Any time between 5:30 and 7:00, we got you.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 6

My friend Danette posted this on my wall:

I think Goth Boy wrote to Dear Abby for relationship advice. The 1st letter in today's column is from a 16 year old whose girlfriend is very insecure and he finds it hard to keep her happy for extended periods of time. He signed "Lost in Arizona," to protect his identity and hers, no doubt, but I'm pretty certain it's him. He's crying out for help. It's time for you to step in and offer your wise counsel. What do your other readers think?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 763: After I'm gone

So I just finished reading this book called "Stars Go Blue" by Laura Pritchett and you guys need to read this book now. It is not very long but it will make you cry and cry and cry. It's about an older couple. The husband has Alzheimer's. Their daughter was murdered by her husband a few years before. It's told from both the husband's and the wife's point of view. The wife gets very frustrated with the husband because of his disease and of course because this is not the life she imagined. That's all I'm going to say except it is very good.

So I was reading the book and crying at the end - it is that kind of book - and SH saw me crying. SH never reads fiction. Wait. He has read three works of fiction since we met: "The Kite Runner" while we were flying from Morocco to the US, "The Gathering Storm" when we were on vacation, and then the books our friend from college Jeff Abbott writes. He has read one and a half of Jeff's recent books and refuses to read more until Mila and Sam sleep together.

SH doesn't get being moved by fiction. He gets cranky about non-fiction and political stuff,  but I try to avoid those conversations with him and with everyone. There are enough things to talk about without beating the dead horse of political opinions that are impervious to change.

But I was moved. I saw our future together. I will be old and probably healthy for a long time, because although I got the chubby thigh/flat chest/facial bones that don't age well/can't accessorize genes, I also got the live until I am 96 genes.

SH, on the other hand, does not have the best of genes, although part of his mother's problem is that she was a long-term smoker.

That said, so was my Granma Sylvia and she lived to 96. So smoking isn't the only thing.

Anyhow, I was thinking about SH and being old with him and worrying about his perhaps having poor health and my having to take care of him.

My family had a friend who had Alzheimer's. The worst part about it was that Mr S knew he had it and alternated between lucidity and confusion. During his lucid moments, he would sit with Mrs S to show her all the financial stuff and the house stuff and everything he had handled over the years. His last lucid thoughts were of how to make life easier for his wife. Mrs S is a nurse and did everything she could to care for Mr S, but eventually she had to put him in assisted care.

But SH was vacuuming the house while I was thinking this and I was feeling particularly warm toward him because I hate vacuuming and am so glad that he has taken over that responsibility. I come home to a house where the  bed is made and the dishes have been done and I don't have to vacuum, which is not too shabby, although of course I would prefer it if SH did even more of the chores, but poco a poco is what I say.

So with this warmth and emotion, I began a conversation.

Me: Even if you get Alzheimer's, I won't stop loving you.

SH: If I get Alzheimer's, you may take a lover.

Me: I don't want a lover!

SH: But you could. That's what I'm saying.

Me: But that's not what I would miss about you!

SH: But you could. You might start to miss it.

Me: I would miss your companionship. I wouldn't miss your being annoying, but I would miss you.

SH: You might want a lover. I wouldn't want you to be stuck with me and not have that kind of companionship.

Me: Oh! OK. If I get Alzheimer's, then you may have a lover.

SH: OK.


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 145: The first one to see it has to clean it

Photo: Shirley likes the Monster VaKoom.

I was up late to get to work - SH and I went to a concert last night - and SH got out of bed before I left for work.

The way it usually works is that I get up at 6:18 and leave the house at 7:04 to catch the bus and SH gets out of bed about 8. He stays up a lot later than I do, so it works out, although he never gets that much sleep and I don't know how he can stand it. I crater with less than eight hours but he gets by on five or six hours regularly. I think it's genetic. Yet another crummy genetic hand I got dealt in addition to my chubby thighs -- I need sleep. I would much rather be able to get by on just a few hours of sleep every night because then I would have a lot more time for other things, like reading. Not more time for cleaning the house or doing other chores. More time to do the things I want to do, not the things I have to do.

Anyway. I was up and about to leave for work - it takes me eight minutes to walk to the bus stop and I had to leave in three minutes - and SH let the cats in from the basement, which is where they reside at night. I like to have the cats sleep with us, but they do not believe in sleeping past 4 a.m. and I am a firm believer in sleeping past 4 a.m., so although they start out the night with us, Shirley at my feet - I don't know why - and Laverne over by SH, by 2 a.m. they are gone. SH puts them out. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes I am awakened by thumps and yowls as Shirley jumps off the bed and runs under it in an attempt to remain upstairs. That's when SH gets a flashlight and a broom and has to work. So one way or another, I don't ever get the sleep I want.

I do not leave out the back door, which requires opening the kitchen door to the basement, because I don't want to let the cats out when I leave the house in the morning, so I never see what's behind that door until I get home at night.

But SH was up. He opened the door to let the cats in.

Then he noticed.

SH: Oh no!

Me: What?

SH: Spitup! There!

Me: Oh.

SH: Well?

Me: What do you mean, "Well?"

SH: Can't you clean it up?

Me: I have to leave for work.

SH: I think you have time.

Friends of SH pointed out that his big mistake was noticing - that he should have pretended not to see it at all so I would have to deal with it when I got home.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 5

OK. Goth Girl on the Bus and Goth Boy on the Bus, Friday edition. It was pouring down rain when I got on the bus. Goth Girl was sitting in her usual seat, cross-legged, scribbling furiously with a colored pencil. She was wearing a white blouse with ruffles around the neck, a black and white skirt, a black corset on the outside of the blouse, four orange bead bracelets on her right wrist, two silver bead bracelets on her left wrist, a long necklace with a purple pendant, purple hoop earrings, and an orange beaded hair tie holding her hair in a ponytail. She was wearing dark eyeshadow and had cat-eye eyeliner.

She sorted through a stack of index-card sized papers. I couldn't tell what was on them. She had a fistful of colored pencils and kept changing colors to fill in something. 

When Goth Boy got on, she scooted over but did not look at him. He said hi, she said hi. He was soaking wet because he did not have an umbrella. What is it with people who know it's raining yet don't carry an umbrella? We do have ways to keep the water off our bodies.

She maintained her cross-legged pose, which meant he did not have as much room to sit. He was not wearing a jacket today - it was warm enough yesterday and today to go outside without a coat, which has not happened since October.

He wore black jeans and a maroon t-shirt. I counted the keys on his key clip/lanyard. At least eight. Who needs eight keys? I have two - the house key and the car key. That's it. What are all those keys for? Eight? Who needs eight keys?

He looked over at her but she kept her head down, looking at her drawing. She is a lefty - is that why she has only two bracelets on her left wrist?

The middle-aged white lady who was being comforted by the young African-American guy yesterday afternoon got on the bus.* Her bag of pink sequins cut the rainy gloom a bit. It was overcast enough that Goth Girl was not wearing her sunglasses.

Goth Girl spilled her box of pencils on the seat - at least a dozen of them. Goth Boy quickly moved so he could gather them for her. She said something to him that I did not catch. I hope it was "thank you."

Then they returned to silence, with her looking down and him looking at her hopefully every few minutes.

He put his arm around her! Yay!

Wait. No. He put his arm behind her to pull for the stop.

What is going on with them? If they are broken up, why do they sit together? If they are not broken up, why don't they talk to each other? What is this limbo?

They got off the bus. She opened her umbrella and shared it with him. Maybe there is hope.



* Young AA man, tall, thin, wearing red pants and orange topsiders - I like him already - and a hoodie with a red and white Navajo pattern on it, big sunglasses, to middle-aged white lady as he held her left hand in both of us: Oh honey, we've all been there. We've all had our hearts broken. You just have to get back out there!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Wisconsin 101: This is how we reserve a hotel room

SH: Would you call this hotel to see if we can get a room on July 12?

Me: Why don't you just send them an email?

SH: Because who knows how long it would take them to answer an email!

Me: Fine. Give me the phone, please.

(ring, ring)

VI: Hello. Village Inn.

Me: Hi. Do you have a room available Saturday, July 12?

VI: Yes we do.

Me: Great! I'll take it, please.

VI: OK. What's your name?

Me: Class Factotum.

VI: And your phone number?

Me: 867-5309.

VI: Good! We'll see you then.

Me: Wait! Don't you want a credit card?

VI: Nah. We have your phone number.

Me: What about check-in time? Anything I should know?

VI: Hmm. Yes. If you are going to be later than ten p.m., please call and let us know. We'll leave the key in the room.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 762: Distance makes the heart miss the cats

SH: We could get video chat [on my new smartypants phone].

Me: Why?

SH: When I'm on a business trip so we could see-

Me: What? You want video [wxyz]?

SH: No! So if the cats were doing something cute, you could show me.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 4

Here is the Goth Girl on the Bus update du jour:

Goth Girl was in her usual place on the bus today, sitting cross-legged on the aisle seat. She did pull her knee up when I passed, perhaps remembering yesterday when my bag banged into her. (Which was not on purpose - I try to be polite even to people who annoy me. Actually, I am more polite to people I don't like than to people I do like. Maybe I don't want the people I don't like to know I don't like them? But why would that be so bad? Just one time, it would be really fun to be direct with SH's dad and say, "You are a mean old man who makes people cry and I DON'T LIKE YOU." But I don't. I am a chicken.)

She was wearing jeans, a light plaid jacket over which she later put a black down jacket (this is Wisconsin and it is still cold here), and a gauzy purple scarf shot with silver wrapped around her waist. It all looks good on her because she is 15 and when you are 15, everything looks good. I wish I had known that when I was 15. I also wish I had stayed out of the sun, but we lived in Panama at the time and I was on the swim team and in the sailing club, so avoiding the sun would have meant avoiding my life.

She was also wearing her wire-rimmed aviator sunglasses, even though it was overcast. When Goth Boy asked her about it, she answered, "Dude. I have like the most light-sensitive eyes IN THE WORLD."

When Goth Boy got on the bus, she moved her bags - she has two, but they do go to an arts magnet school and she probably has supplies - and scooted over to the window seat. 

He sat and as he sat, his green and yellow lanyard swung against the side of the seat, the hook clanging against the bus.

She spoke briefly in a very low voice, which was unusual because she is usually quite loud, yet droning. Then they didn't talk, which is also unusual - she usually will not shut up. He fiddled with his iphone and earbuds and she looked out the window. When he would turn to look at her, she kept looking out the window.

I was sitting behind them a few seats. I almost got my regular seat across from them - the seat where the sun is not in my eyes and the heat vent is not blowing on me - but someone else was there when I boarded the bus. She almost disembarked to catch another bus, but after she asked the driver to "blow for that bus," the other bus didn't wait. She returned to her seat and I put my things down again.

So I couldn't see their faces, but I could tell that they were not talking to each other. The Girl with the Weird Bangs was not on the bus today. When Goth Girl and Goth Boy got off the bus, she walked quickly ahead of him to join the Girl with the Green Hair.