Monday, June 29, 2009

Marriage 101, Lecture 211: Giving gifts

I love the diamond earrings SH gave me our first Christmas together. And the pearl necklace. And the pearl earrings. And the other pearl earrings. And the other other pearl earrings. And the wonderful camera. And the fabulous trips.

But one of the best presents he has given me as far as making my everyday life better -- although diamond earrings go with everything, including gym clothes, I don't care what The Rules are -- is the label maker.

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Oh, little enabler. You are to my kitchen as an extra bladder would be to my body were I to have plastic surgery* -- the thing that truly makes my life better, even if it is almost invisible.

Yes, SH is The Engineer in the house, but let's not forget I started out as an engineer as well**, with every intention of majoring in biomedical engineering, going to med school and then having a career designing artificial body parts. One of the reasons I chose Rice was that it was right across the street from the Medical Center where Denton Cooley and Michael DeBakey practiced. I knew my medical superstars. I even considered Johns Hopkins' six-year BS/MD program, but they had an application fee for their school and it cost nothing to apply to Rice, so Rice it was. All my eggs in one basket.***

Anyhow. I have some of that engineering compulsion to categorize and organize the world within me. My last corporate job was as Data Queen. Part of the assignment was to create a taxonomy of box styles. Boring, you think? Not to me! I had a blast. Now that my world is reduced to one house, there is little left to organize, especially because SH won't let me touch the 458 boxes of phone bills from when he lived in California and the tuition receipts for Marissa's college education that she completed ten years ago. I am reduced to inventorying the contents of the freezer.

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Here you see three containers of Cote d'Ivoire Peanut Butter Stew. (This link looks like a decent approximation, although my recipe does not have the plantain or potatoes.) It is fabulous. I got this recipe from Erica, a woman I worked with for a short while when I was a temp at the World Bank. This was when I was hoping to become a permanent employee of the World Bank after I was in the Peace Corps, but I learned that once they see you as a secretary there, they will never see you as anything else, even if they see your resume. One of the section heads looked at my resume and asked if I wanted a job as a secretary in his group. I pointed out that I had an MBA with a 4.0 GPA from a top-20 school and had set my sights a little higher than secretary. He just shrugged. Maybe that was the minimum requirement for secretary there. Who knows?

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Hummus on top, made with the Cooks Illustrated process. Do it this way and you will never bother to buy it again. It is so easy and so yummy. Next to it is a one-day supply of Kopp's frozen custard, Mocha Chip, I think. Underneath is some Cuban Pork and Okra Stew (SH loves that I am incapable of differentiating between the 'R' and the 'P' on the machine), also a delicious meal. If you come here to eat, you will not leave hungry, I promise.

* After the bladder, though, I would definitely get the bosoms, the butt lift, and the tummy tuck. And maybe a face lift. Have you noticed how everything starts to sink after a Certain Age?

** Second semester freshman calculus is what happened, although in retrospect, I think I would have been OK if 1) I had gotten my homeworks back before the tests so I would have known I WASN'T DOING IT RIGHT and 2) I had worn my glasses to class so I could have seen the board and known I WASN'T DOING IT RIGHT. After all, when we did calculus in marketing in grad school, I got it just fine. It's amazing what 1) wearing glasses, 2) preparing for and 3) ATTENDING CLASS will actually do for your understanding. For what it's worth, I went on to take differential equations my sophomore year and got a B+. I was going to be darned if I quit because I couldn't do it. I was going to quit because I wanted to.

*** How dumb was that? One of the first things I learned in business school was diversification. Good lesson.

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