Friday, August 31, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 225: Parking ticket getter

You guys know the rules of panicking, right? Or the rules of how to approach a crisis? You know that SH and I vary on our rules.

His rules, roughly summarized, are these:

1. Panic.
2. Freak out
3. Assign blame.
4. Do a root cause analysis for the purposes of assigning blame and, not as important, preventing the problem from occurring again.
5. Solve the problem.

My rules:

1. Solve the problem.
2. Will this be an ongoing problem? Is it likely to be repeated? If the answer to these questions is "no," then forget the problem ever happened.
3. If the answer is "yes," then figure out what's wrong in the process, fix it, and then forget the problem ever happened.

So how do you think I reacted when SH told me he had gotten a parking ticket last week? After he got a parking ticket in May?

How do you think SH would have reacted if I had gotten the ticket?

You know there would be freaking out and assigning of blame.

May I note for the record that I have gotten only one parking ticket in my life - and got towed, to boot, but that was in 1982?

Did I panic? Did I assign blame? Did I do a root cause analysis?

Nope. I just rolled my eyes and said, "Please stop doing that. I could be spending that money on shoes."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The working life: Dear Sir or Madam

Part of my new job is working with overseas customers. For my customers who speak Spanish, I write my emails in Spanish. It's a slow process, as it's been years since I used Spanish at work and since I did a lot of writing in Spanish, but google translate is useful. They don't always get it right, but it's a good start and I correct what they say. It seems that google translate does not really understand the subjunctive, which is a problem for many English speakers learning Spanish. But I write in Spanish and it's not perfect, but it's decent and I think the customers, who often reply in English, appreciate it.

For other languages, I have to default to English. I suppose I could do the same thing for French and Portuguese - start with google translate and go from there, but I haven't had the need to use either language. It would be very useful if I spoke Malay or Chinese or Arabic, though.

But I don't. Which is why I have googled the people I am writing to so I can determine if the person is a he or a she.

I have also googled to learn more about prospects. I discovered - after getting a LinkedIn invitation from a prospect whom I had googled - that if one is logged into LinkedIn and one looks at the profiles of other members, other members know that one has looked at them.

Which makes me think about the googlestalking I have done of old boyfriends. Hey. I'm curious. I like to know how the story ends. And in many cases, I want to satisfy myself that I am better off without the jerk. I have to say that I am better off without all of them, so it all worked out. SH was worth waiting for. But I still want to know.

So yeah - I googled a prospect and he sent me a LinkedIn invitation asking me why I had looked at his profile. I didn't want to say, "Because I want to make sure that you are not a complete loser and liar and that my company is interested in doing business with you." It was awkward. Especially because I don't think we want to work with this guy. Oh well.

Most of my googling, though, is just to learn if I should address someone as "Mr" or "Ms." Sometimes, it's to try to figure out which is the first name and which is the last. I have to tell you that google has been useless for that.

So I can understand why this customer in Hong Kong can't get my information right. I can understand why this customer (fortunately, this customer is "Dr Fong," so I don't have to worry about which title is correct) might call me "Mister."

What I can't understand is why, in the same email chain, all in one week, Dr Fong calls me, "Mr Class Factotum," "Factotum," "Mr Class R," and "Mr Factotum Class." Maybe he's waiting for me to answer, "That's it! You've guessed the correct answer!"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 684: Freakout du chats

On Sunday, we put the flea stuff on the cats.

Usually, we use Frontline. But we were at Costco last year and they had their own brand of flea stuff for cats and it was a lot cheaper than Frontline.

So we bought it. Why not? SH has bought Kirkland products in the past and they have not been a problem. We don't buy so many any more since we started our "Not Made in China" ban, but their coffee is fine. Butter is fine. SH gets all his Eye of Newt at Costco. Our doctor told him what I've been telling him, which is all those supplements just give you expensive urine, but our advice falls on deaf ears.

Why would the cat flea stuff be any problem?

We put it on the cats. The first thing we noticed was that there was a lot of it - the backs of the cats' necks were soaking wet. We separated the cats so they wouldn't lick the wet product off each other and tralalalala, we were done.

When I got home from work on Monday, I noticed the cats' hair was still spiky and oily where the solution had been. "They've been trying to lick it off all day," SH said. "There were clumps of hair all over the place. I'm afraid they're going to lick themselves raw."

It looked bad. To the interweb I went.

It chilled my blood.

Cats have died from this product.

I jumped up. "We have to wash it off them!" I said.

"Wait!" SH said.

"No! Now!" I grabbed a washcloth from the bathroom and came back to the kitchen.

"You're not going to use a regular washcloth on them, are you? Aren't there any rags?"

I glared at him. "The washcloth can be washed, you know. We have to do this now."

I wet the washcloth with warm water, squirted a bunch of Dawn on it - "Dawn? You're using Dawn?" SH asked.

"Yes! It cuts grease!"

- grabbed Shirley, and started rubbing at the greasy spot. She held still - maybe she just thought she was being groomed - while I got her fur good and soapy. Then I moved her to the sink, put her under the tap, and turned on the water.

"Wait!" SH shouted. "You're going to get water all over the place!"

"I can clean it up!" I shouted back. Shirley started to squirm and fight. I had to let her go. I grabbed the dish towel to dry her off. "That's the DISH TOWEL!" SH said.

"I KNOW!" I said.

I was so busy taking care of the problem that I hadn't even explained to him. "Cats have DIED from this!" I said. "We have to get it off them NOW!"

I repeated the process with Laverne, who howled mournfully as I ran the water over her neck but let me do it. She submits to almost anything.

"Wait! What do you mean cats have died?"

"I mean cats have died from this product. They've gotten really sick!"

SH was stunned. "But I've never had anything bad from Costco!"

I shrugged. "Who knew?"

"But I thought it was a good product!" he said frantically as the blood drained from his face. "I never would have bought it if I'd known it was going to hurt our cats."

"I know," I answered. "Why would you even think that? But we got it off them and they seem to be fine. The cats who got sick got sick right away, but I didn't want to take any chances."

He shook his head.

"You're a freak outer about washing the cats," I told him.

"You just jump into things! You don't plan!"

"It needed to be done!" I answered.

"But if I were going to do it, I would have made a plan. I would have gotten all the materials in place and thought about how to do it."

"Yeah, well, we didn't have until Saturday to get this done," I told him.

He laughed. "Nope. So I'm a freak outer."

"Yes, you are. And I'm a get things doner."

On Tuesday morning, I emailed SH to ask how the cats were doing. He wrote back, "They are OK. Laverne seems back to normal, and Shirley is a bit lethargic but seems to be improving. It appears that they've stopped grooming each other constantly since you washed their necks. You did the right thing, but I still had to freak out!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The working life: Laundry

One of the dumbest purchases I've made. Anyone care to guess why? At least I got it at consignment and didn't pay retail.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 121: Maybe this is how to get things done

During our fight the other day, I pointed out calmly (because I am the one writing this story, it is my version you will get) that SH is in the habit of making promises to me that he does not keep. We had this conversation:

SH: Name one!

Me [looking at the HoneyDo list on the fridge]: You never put in the garden lights, although maybe that's not so bad because my garden is awful this year. You still haven't cleaned out your crap in the basement.

SH: The basement doesn't matter! There's space!

Me: You have not put a coat of sealant on the balcony.

SH: Yet. I haven't done it yet. There's still time before winter.

Me: You won't empty the soda out of these Coke cans we got in Morocco and you don't want me to do it.

SH: You wouldn't do it right.

Me: Because it's so hard to put a small hole in the bottom of a can to drain it?

SH: I haven't had time. None of these are time sensitive. They're not important.

Me: Why can't it be important just because I want it?

SH: There's nothing urgent about them.

Me: Then quit promising you'll do things if you have no intention of doing them.

SH: Fine.


When I got home from work on Friday, SH came downstairs.

SH [proudly]: Look!

Me: What?

SH: The cans. The cans are gone. I emptied them for you.

Me: You did it just because I wanted you to?

SH: Yes. Don't say I never do anything.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 631: If you want it, claim it

SH: You ate the little cheesecakes with the chocolate crust!

Me: So?

SH: Those are the ones I wanted!

Me: You should have dibbsed them.

SH: That's not how I roll.

Me: Too bad. You don't dibs, you don't get the chocolate crust.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 655: Queensbury rules

SH and I had a fight last night. It was Our Fight - the same fight we have every time we fight. I am assuming that you, too, have A Fight. Or maybe you guys don't fight. Maybe SH and I are the only otherwise happy married couple who fight occasionally and there is something seriously wrong with us. I don't know.

Anyhow, we always fight about the same thing: he's a process-obsessed, procrastinating, cluttered control freak and I am an outcome-focused big picture person, ie, I don't sweat the details.

SH would say I am careless. I would shrug and say, "Big deal. I am 95% perfect instead of 100% perfect and that's good enough for me. I don't care about the small stuff. I don't sweat the tiny details."

If you have ever been around engineers, you know that details are the only things they sweat about. And they sweat profusely over tiny details.

So that's our fight, which always evolves to "Why did this happen why why WHY?" vs "Let's not worry about that when it would take far less effort just to solve the problem."

I refer you to the traffic fight of '10, when we were going to the airport and there was a traffic jam. SH wanted to figure out why there would be a traffic jam on Saturday morning and I wanted to find an alternative route to the airport so we wouldn't miss our plane. It took me a good five minutes to convince him to turn around and go another way. He insisted on staying in the jammed-up lane so he could see what was going on.

Here's what happened at the end of the fight last night.

Me: Would you be better off married to someone else? Would you like to be married to someone just like you? Someone who procrastinates, never gets things done, and flies off the handle at little things?

SH: I was married to someone like that!

Me: And how did that work for you? [Yes, channeling Dr. Phil.]

SH [sheepishly]: Not very well.

Me: I am shocked.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wisconsin 101: The sky is lower here

As I am walking the 19 year old, in this country for three days, Chinese exchange student to his bus stop at lunch during my lunchtime run, after I have explained that No! You can't walk across the street when the red hand is up - you have to wait for the white man! (And it is as I am typing that that I realize how bizarre that sounds - you can't cross unless the white man says so. I wonder if they ever considered making that figure green?)

Chinese guy [looking up at an office building]: Is that a sky- sky- sky?

Me: Skyscraper?

Chinese guy: Yes! Is that a skyscraper?

Me: For Milwaukee, it is.

Chinese guy: How tall is it?

Me: Maybe twenty stories.

Chinese guy: Wow!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chats du jour: Lonely

You might think the reason that Laverne climbed onto my chest and purred and purred and purred this weekend is because she misses me.

You would be partly right. She misses me, but only because I am the one who will let her outside when she whines. SH ignores her entreaties. She knows whose resistance has been battered by years of whining (in stereo) in this house. SH can still resist it because he hardly ever hears it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The working life: 13 miles from my fridge and yet there is food all over

Now I remember how people get through the working day.

They eat.

That's all that happens here all day long. The guy behind me crunches on apples. Very crisp apples. Good thing he's such a nice guy or there would be problems.

I hear the sound of Pringles from two cubicles over. Other crackling turns out to be candied ginger, which my co-worker generously passes around. She also has the office supply of very dark chocolate.

I myself have filled my top drawer with emergency food: a jar of peanut butter, a ziplock bag of almonds, three granola bars that are sweeter than candy bars, and two bars of 72% chocolate that my friend Bonnie left on our pillows this weekend when SH and I went to her lake house.

The two very cool women who work three cubicle aisles away are always eating something good. I met them the day I heard the sound of M&Ms being poured into a bowl. Of course I had to investigate: who pours M&Ms in a public space if she doesn't want to use them as bait? I casually walked over, as casually as one can when 1. she is wearing high heels for the first time in years and 2. she is desperately drawn to the prospect of M&Ms.

I introduced myself. I looked around, trying to be discreet, but it's hard to be discreet when you aren't wearing your glasses and are spying on what someone has on her desk.

So I just said it: "Did I just hear the sound of M&Ms being poured into a bowl?"

The two cool women looked at each other in confusion.


"I thought I heard the sound of M&Ms hitting the bottom of a bowl. You know that sound."

Everyone knows the sound. Don't they?

They looked at each other again, only this time they laughed.

"That was Cheerios!"

I was crushed and humiliated. My disappointment far outweighed my humiliation. I turned and walked away, my dreams of chocolate shattered. (This was before I had Bonnie's chocolate.)

Two days later, there were leftovers in the break room - leftovers of Chex mix with M&Ms. I filled a bowl with it and took it back to my desk. On the way, I stopped to offer some to the two cool women.

They shook their heads. "We don't like chocolate," they admitted. I was sad because I knew that meant they would never have chocolate bait at their desks, but happy because it meant I didn't have to share after all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The working life: The showers are different here

You guys know how I am about showers, right? I do not like to shower in a tub that has been used by someone else and not cleaned since that use unless the other bather is my husband, my sister, or my mother. I especially don't like using used soap or being in a shower with a mildewy shower curtain. (Which is why I always provide little hotel soaps for my houseguests and which is why I keep a spray bottle with a mild bleach solution in the bathroom for when I need to zap the mildew on my shower curtain. I always assume my neuroses - is that the plural of neurosis? - are universal.)

Other things don't bother me. Food drops on the floor? So what? I washed it recently. And like I'm going to let perfectly good cake go to waste? I've used SH's toothbrush before and just shrugged when I realized it.

He, however, freaked out.

I know.

You're shocked.

I don't get bothered by a lot of things that other people squeal over, but I don't like the used shower. Maybe it's because I have been in so many nasty showers in my life. I made it through ten weeks traveling through Latin America staying in the South American Handbook Fs and Gs. The As and Bs were the expensive hotels. The Cs and Ds were the moderate hotels. The Fs and Gs were the places where Peace Corps volunteers stayed, not because we wanted to be down with the people but because we couldn't afford anything nicer. In Panama City, Panama (not the Panama City in Florida where one recruiter really liked to go, or so he told me in my interview), Fs and Gs were also the places that rented by the hour.

Imagine the shower in an F/G. Now make it ten times worse.

Those are the showers I was using.

With bare feet.

Now you understand my squeamishness. (Fortunately, these showers were usually very poorly lighted, so the dim light combined with my myopia hid some of the horrors from me.)

Now you might also understand why I never get sick. That, and the fact that my cleaning lady in Chile used my vegetable brush to scrub the toilet.

Anyhow, now I am quite demanding about my shower. By "demanding," I mean that I get grossed out in a dirty shower.

But my squeamishness does not apply at the Y.

It has never even occurred to me to be grossed out by the showers at the Y, even though they are used by a host of strangers throughout the day.

It wasn't until I saw a woman walking into the showers today with a plastic grocery bag tied around each foot that I even thought, "Oh! Perhaps I should wear flip flops in what is essentially a public shower being used by people who are carrying who knows what diseases on their naked feet!"

And then I thought, "But then I'd have to carry flip flops in my gym bag. They would be wet after the shower. It would be inconvenient to take them back to my office."

So I've decided to make a YMCA exception. Besides, they clean those showers every day, don't they?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The working life: I miss my granny gym

Here's the crummy part about going to the downtown Y at lunch. The good part is that it is even there - that I have the option of going to the gym at lunchtime instead of trying to find a way to kill an hour. It does not take me an hour to eat. It takes me about five or ten minutes, depending on how hungry I am. I bring my lunch. I don't like going out to lunch - remember the part about how the purpose of this job is for us to come out ahead on the money? Spending $8 a day on lunch eats into the margin really quickly. If I'm going to blow $160 a month, I want it to be on shoes. (Or $160 less whatever my made at home lunch costs, to get a truer figure of incremental spending.)

Plus I really don't like all the ritual that goes with eating out. The waiting to be seated. The waiting for the menu. The waiting for the waiter (ha - who's doing all the waiting?) to return with the water that is supposed to be without ice and lemon but always has ice and lemon because the waiter never pays attention. And so on.

I'd rather be at the gym. Not that I like to exercise - I don't, I hate it - but at least that's somewhat productive. It's a chore I want to get done no matter what. If I could transport myself home to do laundry during lunch, I would.

So. There is a gym only two blocks from my office. Perfect. It has classes at lunch. Perfect.

But here is the big difference.

The suburban Y where I have been going for a few years is full of retired ladies and stay at home moms.

The downtown Y is full of working people. Except for me, young working people. Young, single working people who are still at the stage of their life where it's not so hard and indeed is a social requirement to maintain a hardbody.

I am a middle-aged body.

They are 20something bodies.

I have to see them naked. I have to keep up with them in the high-intensity aerobic class. (Actually, I don't. I went once and never returned.)

I don't feel bad about myself after spending time with the retired ladies, who look really good, but look really good for their 60s and 70s. And who have arthritis and joint problems but who work out anyhow. Next to them, I look OK and I feel grateful that I am not in pain all the time the way some of them are.

But every time I leave the downtown Y, I feel demoralized. There is no way that I will ever look like the 20somethings. A fit 40something still does not look like a fit 20somesomthing. In fact, I never looked like these 20somethings. Never. So I feel demoralized for now and for my past.

Maybe the solution is to stop going to they gym.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 451: You're not doing it right, infinity

SH: Hey! You didn't do it right!

Me: Now what?

SH: That tupperware is still greasy. I'll have to re-wash it.

Me: Naw. Just wipe it out with the dishtowel. It's easier than washing and washing and washing it.

SH: That's not the right thing to do.

Me: Sure it is.

SH: But then the dishtowel gets dirty.

Me: So?

SH: Then I can't use it to dry my clean hands. So the proper thing to do is to use a paper towel.

Me: That's wasteful. Just use the dishtowel.

SH: It gets dirty.

Me: Then toss it in the laundry.

SH: What if it's not close to the end of it's clean life? It should last a few days at least.

Me: We have dozens of dishtowels. It's not really an issue.

SH: Are you blogging about this?

Me: Yes.

SH: Go ahead. I'm going to keep washing and washing and washing until the grease is gone.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 321: Root cause analysis

SH: You made spinach last night!

Me: Yes.

SH: But you didn't make any for me!

Me: Did you want me to? I knew you would be coming home too late to eat here.

SH: But I could have had it for lunch.

Me: Oh. But the pine nuts would be soggy.

SH: I don't care about that. You know I ate frozen foods* and Ramen when I was in the apartment. When I'm working, I don't have time to fix something - I just heat up whatever there is. I'm certainly not going to prepare any vegetables for myself.

Me: OK. I'll start making vegetables for you.

SH: But why didn't you make spinach?

Me: Because I didn't think of it.

SH: But why?

Me: Asked and answered, counselor.

SH: I don't understand why you wouldn't make any for me! You know I like sauteed spinach!

Me: And I shall make it in the future.

SH: But why didn't you make it last night?

Me: No amount of nagging or whining is going to make spinach appear in your past.

* For a man of such a sensitive palate, he ate some disgusting food when he was living alone. Hot Pockets and that genre are just nasty.

Friday, August 17, 2012

House work, 2

Here is what I am learning:

1. If you have only a few hours free every evening, it takes a lot less time to clean your house than if you have the entire day at your disposal.

2. It is not necessary to vacuum the floors every week. A broom works just as well, does not have to be hauled up from the basement, and does not scare Laverne. [Shirley loves the vacuum cleaner. Shirley would marry the vacuum cleaner if she could.

3. A house does not have to be as clean as I used to think. And if I am out of it for 11 hours a day, that's 11 hours when I don't have to see how dirty it is.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 487: Home work

The nice thing about being the person who leaves the house to go to work every day is that I am now the person who can expect the person who stays at home to do chores.

I come home from work now to find the bed made, the dishes done, the cats fed, the litterbox cleaned, the mail brought in and sorted, and the recycling emptied.

I also have discovered that if I leave a note, a magic elf takes care of other chores: returns books to the library, picks up groceries, and goes to Walgreen's for sudafed and feminine products.

I like delegating. My magic elf is doing a great job and I think I might be able to expand his services to doing the occasional load of laundry.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The saga of the shoes

Now that I am a working person, I have a lot less time to blog. I don't remember work being this demanding in my old job, but in my old job, I was a much higher-level person and for many years, I had my own office. Even when I did have a cubicle, I had some degree of privacy. I.e., I could goof off online without fear of being seen. That is, I could watch my eBay items and I could blog with impunity. Don't worry - I still got all my work done. Not that my boss ever knew that - he had no idea what I did and was not interested. That is not a good sign. If you have a boss like that, start looking for a new job. If your boss says that your job is "boring" and he "doesn't understand," you are first on the chopping block. How can someone value that which he does not understand?

But now I work in a fishbowl. And I am new. At a much lower level than I used to be. Either I have gotten crummy or that's the way the employment world is these days: it's a buyer's market. The IT dept blocks a lot of sites. I don't know if blogspot is one of them because I have no intention of going to my blog from work. I am no fool.

But here I am: gone most of the day without a lot of time to blog.

So what do I spend my free time doing?

Lately, it's been filled with my attempts to make my Ferragamo shoes fit. I told you guys about the shoes I got on eBay, right?

Of course eBay.

1. There are not many nice shoe stores in Milwaukee. Sad but true. I could go to Chicago, which is not far, but even if I were there, would I want to spend $450 on a pair of shoes? No. I would not. Nor would I want to spend $20/hour to park.
2. The purpose of my new job is to come out ahead on the money, not behind. Hence my new work wardrobe is coming from eBay and the fancy consignment stores. As fancy as they get in Milwaukee. This is a midwestern city, bless its heart, where fashion is not the main point of living or dressing. Staying warm is. For truly fancy consignment, I need to go to Chicago, where there are a lot of rich ladies who don't want to wear something more than once.

So I bought Ferragamos #1 on eBay. They fit perfectly. I love them. I am wearing them right now. Simple, elegant, classic. Black pumps with the Ferragamo toe. I got A Deal. They looked like they had never been worn when they arrived. I later learned from the eBay seller that he got them at an estate sale, ie, someone had died. I asked if she had left other shoes.

I saw Ferragamos #2 and Bruno Magli #1 on eBay as well. Ferragamos #1 had fit just fine, so I thought maybe I had found my size: 8.5 medium.

I bought both pairs.

They are too tight.

Even though they are also 8.5 medium.

But they are beautiful. I want to wear them.

I already tried the water in the ziploc bag/freezer trick one commenter suggested.

Didn't work.

So now, every night, when I get home from work, I take off the shoes that fit - actually, I take off my walking shoes. I wear walking shoes to the bus stop and put my decorative shoes on once I am on the bus. I have no desire to cripple myself by walking five blocks in high heels.

So I take off the walking shoes, spray the insides of Ferragamos #2 or Bruno Magli #1 with water, put them on and walk around, willing them to stretch.

It hasn't worked yet, but I have faith.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 922: This was all his idea in the first place

SH: It's different with you at work every day.

Me: I know.

SH: The cats miss you. Laverne doesn't whine if you're not home. She only whines for you. She knows I won't put her out.

Me: You're mean to Laverne!

SH: I miss you, too.

Me: Thanks, sweetie.

SH: Before, you used to come home from the gym in the morning and you'd make me lunch.

Me: You can make your own lunch.

SH: Then you'd peel me an orange.

Me: You can peel your own orange.

SH: And the house used to be clean. Every Thursday night, the house would be really clean. I noticed this Thursday that it wasn't. I guess the house doesn't clean itself, huh?

Me: Nope. And you'd better come up with better reasons to miss me than you're having to prepare your own lunch and that you're having to make the bed now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 431: Stuff mover


SH: What are you talking about?

Me: I just put this business card and these papers on the counter and now they are two feet away, stacked in the middle of the counter.

SH: Now they're neat.

Me: Now they're where I can't find them and where I would have forgotten about them if I hadn't noticed them just now.

SH: They were messy before.

Me: They were where I wanted them before! QUIT!

SH: Neat.

Me: You freak out - you almost have a heart attack! - if I get within one foot of your stacks of crap in your office.

SH: That's because I have my stuff the way I want it.

Me: SO DO I!

SH: But my stuff is in tidy piles. Yours is all over.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 244: Hoarders

Me: Here. Would you throw this away, please?

SH: It's the program from the wedding! [that he attended last week - the daughter of some old friends of his. I did not go because I have never met the daughter and I would have had to take a day off from work, which I didn't want to ask for as I had just taken two of my first three weeks off, although I do have to recommend on one week, off two as a really good work schedule.]

Me: I know. I read it.

SH: I can't throw it away!

Me: Then recycle it.

SH: No! I have to keep it!

Me: No. You don't.

SH: It's special.

Me: No. It's not. You don't keep that sort of thing unless it's from your own wedding.

SH: Give me that. I am not throwing it away.

And that, my friends, is what is going to lead my sister, who is the executor of our will, to put a match to our house rather than cleaning it out after SH and I both die in a car accident from someone who has had 14 DUIs.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 634: No time for love

After SH comes home at 8:45 from a meeting.

SH: So are we going to [wxyz]?

Me: I doubt it.

SH: Why?

Me: Because it would not be how you roll for you to come home after being gone all evening and go straight to a focused activity.

SH: I could.

Me: Ha. No. First, you'll go upstairs to check your email and facebook and that will take 20 minutes. Then you'll say you're starving. It will take you 15 minutes to assemble your supper just right* and then choose the proper wine. Then it will take you 20 interminable minutes to eat because you are the slowest eater in the world. Then you'll tell me that you have one more quick thing to do upstairs but it will take you 20 minutes and when I start yelling at you to get your butt down here, you'll tell me not to be cranky. By then, it will be well past 10. I get up at 6. So no. It's not going to happen.

SH: It's because you don't care.

* Vegetables reheated in the microwave, but meat gets warmed in the toaster oven.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 965: Soap opera

The other day, when SH was gone at a wedding that I did not attend because it was on a Sunday and I would have had to take Monday off, which is not something I want to do with a brand-new job where I have already taken two weeks off and intend to take off time for my sister's wedding in a few months, I took advantage of his absence to discard the empty dish soap container. I even wrote about it on facebook.

I was happy that I had a chance to throw something in the recycling without SH 1. washing it out first (this is the man who uses soap and water to wash the measuring cup I use for soaking my biteguard in a mild bleach solution, even though I have pointed out that there are no fats or proteins that need to be emulsified and that mere rinsing with water should be sufficient) or 2. turning it over to drain it to get the last half a teaspoon of product.

Sometimes, you just want to throw something away without a lot of drama.

So I tossed it and then I put something on facebook about how I had tossed with without SH's interference.

That was Sunday.

Two days later, when I got home from work, this is what transpired.

SH: You threw away the detergent! I had to pull it out of the recycling to drain the rest of it!

Me: You read the post, didn't you?

SH: What are you talking about?

Me: You read what I put on facebook.

SH: You know I hardly ever read your facebook posts. [Yes, I am aware of that and slightly insulted.]

Me: I wrote about this. You did it because I wrote about it.

SH: Did what?

Me: Drained the detergent.

SH: No! I did it because you weren't doing it right.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 994: The shoes, again

Me: I need the car tonight.

SH: Why?

Me: Because I have a meeting at city hall.

SH: But I need it. And it's only four blocks to city hall. Can't you walk?

Me: Not in the shoes I want to wear.

SH: So wear different shoes.

Me: But those shoes wouldn't go with my dress.

SH: So wear different clothes.

Me: That means that I get home from work at 6, after walking half a mile from the bus stop (in walking shoes that I take to work), eating supper, packing my lunch for tomorrow, packing my gym bag for tomorrow, and then changing clothes, thus adding yet another chore to my less than one hour of free time the entire evening.

SH: Why can't you wear the shoes you use to walk to the bus?

Me: Because they're ugly. And because I don't want to carry the other shoes. I don't want to carry a big ol' bag to city hall.

SH: Nobody will even notice.

Me: I will know.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Is this the bus to Cartagena?

I don't think I told you guys that I took the bus from Milwaukee to northern Wisconsin. SH couldn't leave town until Saturday (which of course turned into Sunday - I love my procrastinator, I do), but I had arranged to take two weeks off starting the Wednesday before we went to the cottage so thought I would take advantage to go early to visit family.

We have two cars, but I am not allowed to drive one of them - the yellow one. Not that I am interested in driving it. SH's prize and joy is the same age he is. As in, they are both '65s. Which is a good age for a man, but not for a car.

Which left the good car (aka the Red Car), but if I drove that car to my aunt's, then SH would have to drive the Old Car. It has no a/c, the windshield wipers don't really work, and it gets horrible gas mileage. Plus then we would have two cars to take back to Milwaukee.

So I took the bus. I took Greyhound from Milwaukee to northern Wisconsin.

This is a route that takes SH about three hours to drive. It takes over five hours by bus.

Which - whatever - I don't care because if I'm not driving, I can be reading a book and not feel guilty about it.

Not that I would read while I'm driving. I mean that I can read without feeling like I should be cleaning the bathroom or cutting the grass.

But here's the deal: Greyhound lies. They lie, lie, lie. They are worse than the airlines. At least airlines have competition. We were supposed to leave at 8:50 a.m. Not that I would know it was time to leave because although there are several TVs in the bus station, there is only one tiny little clock, high on the wall behind the seats.

We didn't leave until 9:20. We didn't even board the bus until after 9. At no point was there an announcement explaining the delay and giving us a new departure time. While we were standing in line at Door 6, which was differentiated from Doors 1-5 only by the number above it and not by the destination, i.e., all the doors opened to the same place, aka The Sidewalk, a man came up to us and asked if we were waiting for the bus to Green Bay.

Yes, we were.

Well, he said. It was going to be late.

Yes, we noticed, I said. It is now our official departure time and we are still standing in line.

He shrugged. "I was late," he said, "and there are other buses to board before you."

Thanks, guy. Thanks for your explanation and your apology. Seems to me Greyhound is pretty sure that its passengers don't have other options and treats them accordingly.

Although I was less sympathetic to the what appeared to be standard Greyhound passenger once I sat down and realized that the kid behind me was going to kick my seat repeatedly, even after I turned to ask him to stop. I didn't look at him when I said it. I looked at his mother, the subtext clearly being, "Make your kid behave, lady, as he is violating all kinds of social norms."

She refused to make eye contact with me and said not a word to her child about the kicking. My friend Anita said I was too nice and should have used my mom voice with the kid. I'm out of practice. I do have one, you know, even though I do not have children. I have more than once told strangers' children to Get Their Feet Off the Sofa in a store. Seriously, people. Your kids are jumping on furniture you don't even own? Tacky. (And yes I know I should have used my mom voice with the kid on the dock at the cottage.)

Fortunately, the kid fell asleep, so I didn't have to take more action.

But the bus was delayed. The driver never announced the long stop in Green Bay that I thought I had remembered from the website, so I wasn't sure it was happening. If I had known I could get off the bus, I would have done so just to find some food. I thought I had brought enough food with me for a five-hour ride, but I was wrong. I was starving. I ate my two hard-boiled eggs, my emergency granola bar in my purse, and my little sandwich, but that wasn't enough. All I could think of was food. We passed the Nueske Bacon headquarters, which was torture. We also passed a lot of steak on the hoof. I was hungry enough that I thought eating a raw cow might be a good idea.

When we arrived at my stop, the bus driver got off the bus and closed the door behind him. I was stuck waiting inside the bus. Know what? You can't open a bus door from the inside unless you are the driver and know the magic code. I could see a Subway sandwich shop ahead of me - so close - and yet I could not get off the bus.

Five minutes later, the driver finally returned. He looked surprised to see me. "There's nothing on my manifest about a passenger getting off here," he said.

I was not shocked to know that Greyhound does not supply the drivers with the necessary information.

Moral for next time: pack as much food as I would for a plane, because I will be just as trapped.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 527: Late again

Me: What time do you need to leave for your meeting?

SH: 10:30.

Me: I would like to go to the library with the car. It opens at 9. I would rather not walk - it's too hot and I'm lazy.


Me: What is your shower strategy?

SH: What do you mean?

Me: Well, if you're not planning to get in the shower now, I'll take mine. But I thought you might want to take yours right away.

SH: It's only 8:45.

Me: I know.

SH: It's 8:45. Do you know me?

Me: So shower at 10:25?

SH: Yes.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 966: Who's the gold digger now?

Me: Hey! You went to the fair today but didn't have time to water my flowers like I asked?

SH: I had work!

Me: But I emailed you right when I got to work! I noticed that my flowers on the porch were droopy. It wouldn't have taken you very long.

SH: Just scooping the box, making the bed, and washing the dishes - that's enough home stuff for the day, isn't it?

Me: Oh. Sure. I never did any more than that when I was the gold digger.

NB In his favor, SH did bring me some treats from the fair: a piece of Oreo cake, which does not contain Oreos (the cookies mothers who cannot bake feed to their children) but instead is a big hunk of chocolate cake covered in thick, fluffy, Cool-Whip-y frosting and sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbles. He also brought me a little goat milk soap shaped like a sleeping cat. He had left it on my pillow for me to find. So I guess on the balance, he comes out ahead today.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Wisconsin 101: My Milwaukee Roll

I've started dieting again. Months of using half and half and eating cheese with impunity have caught up to me. My sister is getting married in a few months and I do not want to have to buy a new dress. I already have nice dresses, thank you very much. I just need to fit into them.

Dieting for me is not hard. It's just boring. I know what I need to do to lose weight. For me, it's simple: eat less. I already eat (mostly) healthful food and exercise. I just eat too much healthful food. And half and half.

But I know which foods keep me from getting hungry and are also nutritious. It's a lot of hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken breasts (marinated in mojo at least, so there is some flavor), and beans.

I found sparkpeople based on Jen on the Edge's recommendation. It's a site where you track your food and exercise. I love measuring things and tracking progress and this is a lot easier than keeping handwritten notes and guessing about calorie counts.

Although I do take issue with sparkpeople's assertion that two cups of white beans have 613 calories. Come on.

Here's the drawback with dieting: If you forget the lunch you packed the night before because you are so tired from getting only six hours of sleep - thank you fellow citizens who spoke and spoke and spoke at a meeting the night before, then it is harder to eat healthful food.

I forgot my lunch. And my breakfast. I am not interested in eating breakfast at 6 a.m. when I get up, so I just bring a few hard-boiled eggs with me to work.

I have had a very hungry day. I bought a latte from the coffee machine and ate a spoonful of peanut butter from the emergency peanut butter that I keep stored in my desk, but that only took me so far.

I tried to buy a not-too unnutritious lunch, but I was torn between price and protein. The sandwiches were seven dollars. SEVEN DOLLARS! That's a lot. That's almost an hour of work at minimum wage. The salads didn't have any meat but were also about seven dollars. For lettuce.

Then I spied some chia seed pudding. Chia seed, ground cashew, and agave. The sign next to it claimed that chia seeds are very high in protein. Protein was what I wanted, especially protein that was only $2.99.

I bought it.

I ate it.

It was so sweet it almost made me sick to my stomach. But I ate it all because this was my lunch.

It didn't last.

At 3:35, I finally went downstairs to the vending machines, where I saw a vending machine gyro.

Let me translate that for you: I saw a meat product. In a vending machine.

And yet I bought it.

I bought vending-machine meat.

For $2.25.

I ate some.

It was disgusting. Imagine vending-machine meat and that's what it was.

I threw most of it away.

But SparkPeople said that I still at 350 calories of gyro.

And I spent almost six dollars on crummy food anyhow.

I should have bought the seven-dollar sandwich.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Wisconsin 101: We love our shoes

I'm standing at the bus stop after work, waiting for the bus. Which is late. Which I can't understand because this is Milwaukee and we don't have Traffic here. This is not Chicago. It's Milwaukee.

But my bus was late. Which made me worry that I had missed it by not leaving work early enough. The schedule just tells me what time the bus hits certain points and my stop is not listed, so I have to interpolate. What if I calculated the bus' speed wrong? It leaves St Paul at 5:08 and hits State and Water at 5:16. When is it at Plankinton?

See? You do use algebra in real life. Take that, NYTimes columnist who just wrote that algebra is unnecessary.

Anyhow, I am standing there in my fabulous shoes, even though I should have changed into my ugly walking shoes for waiting for the bus, as my high heeled shoes are not designed for much more than sitting. Yet I was reluctant to remove these shoes from my feet because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I bought them two years ago at a consignment shop - they looked new - and did not find anything to wear with them until three weeks ago, when I found a blue dress (on sale!) at The Limited.

So me and my shoes are standing. Waiting. Traffic is slow. Stopped at the light.

I hear a shout. I look up. It's a middle-aged guy with long grey hair pulled back into a ponytail. He is burly and has that Harley dude look about him. I do not mean that as an insult. Harley is king in this town as you might imagine. But he has that look: kind of tough, a working man who goes out to the tavern with his friends after work, someone who will stop to fix your flat tire but is not someone you would want to anger.

Harley Guy [shouting out of the back of the car]: I LOVE YOUR SHOES!

Me: What?

HG: Your shoes! I LOVE YOUR SHOES!

Me: Oh! They are fabulous, aren't they?

HG: Yes!

Me: AND I got them on sale!



HG: Hey! Are you waiting for the bus?

Me: Yes.

HG: Want a ride with us?

Me: My bus is almost here.

HG: OK. We're going up Water Street.

Me: Oh, well I'm going all the way to [first ring suburb].

HG: OK! Bye!

Me: Bye!

I turned to another person waiting for the bus and said smugly: "Forty eight years old and I still have it."

Then I thought about it some more. "Or maybe he was just going to drug me and take my shoes."

Friday, August 03, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 328: Rock star

SH: One of my rocks is missing.

These are the rocks he brought back from Madeline Island. He started out with six, of which he was supposed to pick just one to bring back, but ended up with all six, plus another handful that he collected on our last walk on the beach, which preceded watching the sunset, getting caught in the rain, and drinking pina coladas.

Me: How do you know?

He had put the paper place containing the rocks on his dresser when we got home last night. As soon as he left the room, Shirley jumped up onto the dresser to see what was what. We have had to remove almost all small items from our counters and our dressers - anything that can be knocked down by a 6 1/2 pound cat has been put away.

There are many things that can be knocked down by a six 1/2 pound cat. Many, many things.

Including rocks. Even Lake Superior rocks.

I heard a thud, then a whack, then more loud whacks and bangs as Shirley batted the rock around under the bed on the wood floor.

I grabbed the plate of rocks and put it in the dining room, which is the cat DMZ. No cats in the dining room. Not that there haven't been many cat attempts to breach the barrier. Not that SH doesn't leave the door open and is then shocked, shocked! that the cats got into the living room, making a beeline for one of the few nice pieces of furniture we own, a wing chair I had reupholstered four years ago. The cats love to claw on that.

But Shirley is still batting around her rock. I finally found it - I had to put on my glasses before I could spy it - and rather than make the long trip to the dining room from the bedroom, I just tossed it into my nightstand.

It's just a rock.

SH: One of my rocks is missing.

Me: How do you know?

SH: Because I counted them. There are supposed to be 15, but there are only 14.

Me: You know how many rocks you brought back with you?

SH: Of course. [pause] Are you surprised?

Me: No, Sheldon.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 233: For better or for shopping

SH: I'm going to the mall to look at suits.

He has decided he needs a summer suit. They are on sale at Joseph Bank. I looked online and rendered my opinion. Olive OK, khaki no. Who wears a khaki suit? Nobody, that's who.

Me: OK.

SH: Do you want to go with me?

Me: Are you joking?

As in, 1. I have spent the entire day doing laundry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and cooking. And coloring my hair, which was reverting to gray + mousy blonde. I just sat down with my book and you want to know if I want to shop?

SH: No.

Me: I don't even like shopping for bacon with you. Watching you buy clothes would put me in the looney bin.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 467: For worse and worse

SH: I want to go into that abandoned house.

Me: I don't.

SH: Not right now. It's getting dark.

Me: Good. Because the last thing we need is for you to put your leg through a rotting floor.

SH: I have life insurance.

Me: It wouldn't kill you. It would just maim you. Then I'd be stuck taking care of you.

SH: I have disability. And I just had a tetanus shot.

Me: Oh that's a comfort. But you'd still need caretaking.

SH: Are you saying I'm not a good patient?

Me: You? A crybaby? Oh, no. Not at all.