Monday, December 30, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 796: 911

My sister's wedding was in Colorado Springs but we flew out of Denver to come home. We arranged to meet a friend of SH's for lunch in downtown Denver before going to the airport. SH had arranged everything. He gave me the name of the restaurant and the address, then he drove while I navigated, which has become a considerably easier task since I learned how to use the talking GPS on my phone.

I looooove the talking GPS lady on my phone. I do have a very good sense of space, although I have never done well on those tests where you are supposed to figure out what the box looks like once it is folded. You know, from the Iowa Basic Skills tests we took in ninth grade - they show you the diagram of a box flattened out - and then you have to pick the drawing of what it looks like once it's assembled. I don't know what skill they were testing for with that one, but whatever it is, I should avoid that profession because I got only an 80 on that section.

Anyhow, if I can see a map of a place so I can get a picture in my mind and then if I have a map, I am fine, unless I am traveling in a place like the Bay Area where they don't believe in putting signs up. If I am looking for the Embarcadero exit, it helps to have a sign noting that the Embarcadero exit is approaching, to give me time to get into the exit lane, and then a sign announcing the exit. But California doesn't appear to believe in that kind of signage. Perhaps they are worried that the Germans are going to invade.

So in a place where things are not marked well, the GPS lady is a lifesaver. She got us from my mom's house in Colorado Springs to the restaurant in downtown Denver and she even knew which streets are one way.

Thank you, GPS lady.

SH and I parked and then walked to the restaurant. Mike was not there yet.

The restaurant was not open.

As in, completely dark. Door locked.

And this is where, once again, you see the divergence in how SH approaches problems and how I approach them. He is the engineer, determined to take everything apart to figure out why it isn't working, which is a good approach in a production environment where you expect the problem to be replicated.

In real life, when all you want to do is eat lunch, it is maybe not the appropriate approach.

What SH did:

1. Cupped his hand over his eyes, leaned into the window, and looked into the restaurant to see if anyone was there.
2. Exclaimed, "But it's not open! Why isn't it open?"
3. Looked for a sign on the door proclaiming hours. There was none - the restaurant was not doing it right.
4. Whipped out his phone and looked up the restaurant on to find the hours. The hours were not posted on Informed me that the restaurant and yelp were not doing it right.
5. Called Mike to inform him that the restaurant was not open.

What I did:

1. Looked up and down the street for other restaurants.
2. Saw a restaurant next door.
3. Walked to the other restaurant, put our name on the wait list, asked how long it would be (ten minutes), and returned to SH.

What happened:

Mike showed up. We walked next door. We ate at the other restaurant.

It was easy.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Travel tales: A perfect guest room

SH and I went to California, as you guys know, because I told you that I met Lisa there and did other California things. I forgot to mention how cool it is to meet other people because of this blog. I have made some really neat friends via CF. In person, I have met Rubiatonta and Holly and have become facebook friends with several more bloggers whom I hope to meet in person someday: Jen, Tish, Marta, and Bethany. Blogging is great: the best part is entertaining people (that's what I hope to accomplish) and the second-best part is making these new friends who enrich my life.

None of that has anything to do with what I'm about to write, but you know I digress. So SH and I went to San Francisco for his work trip and my vacation to see my SF friends, the main one of whom is Kim, who is the wife of my friend Luke from grad school. The network of friends expands through marriage. I can't think of any of my friends' spouses whom I do not like, although SH has an old friend who is not my favorite, probably because this friend told SH not to marry me. Ha. He did. I win.

Kim is my pedicure friend - any time I go to SF, we get a pedicure and then go to the consignment stores. We usually find some nice things, although consignment in the Bay Area is a lot more expensive than in Milwaukee. I went to a consignment store in Menlo Park (after my lunch with Lisa) where there were used items - used clothes! - that cost over $300. I suppose it was a bargain over the original price, but still. Three hundred dollars? For something that someone else has worn? That's a little much for my blood, but then, I work with people who wear jeans to work, so I don't need to spend that much to look better than they do.

Yes, I am a competitive dresser. I might not be as fancy as some others, but I do know to cover my shoulder blades and my bosom at work and I wear dresses or a skirt and a jacket. High heels. But heels only in the office - to walk to the bus stop, I wear walking shoes because I am not stupid. I don't like pain and I do not intend to ruin my Ferragamos by wearing out the soles on the sidewalk.

Back to Kim. Kim and Luke invited us to stay in their guest apartment. It's a small studio apartment under their house. Only one window, which was fabulous for me, because light wakes me up if the cats don't and if I am away from the cats and not on a schedule, I want to sleep as late as possible. Super quiet. Kim runs a school for toddlers and the kids started arriving at 8 a.m., but we didn't hear a thing.

She showed us to the room. Beautifully decorated. Comfy, cozy bed. Anything you might need in the bathroom: toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo. A kitchenette stocked with cookies, chocolate, tea, coffee, beer, vodka, popcorn, and mandarin oranges.

And the best thing of all: the latest issue of People magazine on the TV stand, along with a bowl of sea salt chocolates.

This is not how you stock a guest room unless you want your guests never to leave. This is not the guest room of someone with the "Fish/rotting/three days" philosophy.

But this is the guest room Kim has. It is the perfect bait to get me to return. I might go there and never leave. I will sit on the bed, reading People, eating chocolate, and contemplating my pedicured toes.

PS I note also that my friend Bonnie always has chocolate and several issues of People in her guest room, as well. SH and I are very lucky to have such lovely friends.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 1: Mawwiage

You guys, I have never not had fun at a wedding. All weddings are fun, aren't they? They are how comedies end - the joyful union of two people. Tragedies, of course, end with everyone dead. But we are talking about weddings and happy and fun and joy.

But I didn't know how much more fun a wedding was when it is your sister getting married. It is a million times better than a regular wedding.

My sister got married last weekend in Colorado.  It was so much fun. Almost all of my aunts and uncles were there. Jenny's friends from high school and travel nursing - people I had not seen in 20 or 30 years. Great rehearsal lunch, fabulous wedding and reception, wonderful family party at my aunt's house the day after the wedding.

Jen pulled this all together in ten weeks. While she was working full time. From Washington DC.

It was a short notice wedding, in the planning for a long time but waiting for a complicated divorce to come through.

Caveat: My sister met her husband well after he filed for divorce. She is not a homewrecker. It took a few years for the divorce to come through. The papers sat on the desk of a Maryland judge for ten months - no, I am not making this up - and how do you get a judge to hurry up? You don't. There is no way to nag a judge to make a decision already after all the depositions have been taken.

So. As soon as the divorce came through, Jenny called me to tell me they had set a date and voila. Would I be offended if she didn't ask me to be a bridesmaid? No I would not. Should I have been? I have been feeling a little guilty about not being offended, but her maid of honor has been her best friend for 30 years. 

I have been her sister for longer than that, but I never sneaked out of Jenny's bedroom window with her to go out and do things she was not supposed to be doing. Sneaking out together creates a bond that can never be broken. My best friend bond is with Julie P, with whom I drank rum and Tab when we were in 10th grade. There is nothing like rum and Tab to make you decide that liquor is not your thing.

At the rehearsal, which I attended because Jenny said, "You are really good at figuring out what needs to be done," which is a nice way of saying I am bossy and love to run things, I watched Jenny and Matt practice. I had to keep blowing my nose, not because I was emotional but because it is winter and in winter, even in Colorado, where the wedding was held, I get a runny nose.

It was as I was blowing my nose into the handkerchief that my grandmother had embroidered that I realized what the "something old" Jenny needed to carry was.

The handkerchief.

Into which I had been blowing my nose.

So when I got back to my mom's house, I quick washed it in the sink in very hot water, then ironed it dry. Stuck it in my purse, the one that looks like Brenda's purse on "The Closer," which was not the right purse for a wedding, but SH and I had spent a week in San Francisco right before the wedding, him working at a business meeting that had been planned before the wedding and me on vacation, and I didn't have much suitcase space. I didn't want to ruin Jen's wedding with an everyday purse, but I think people managed to overlook it. Plus I think Jen would rather have had the cheese curds and the eight bags of birdseed brittle that I brought.

I am not going to give you a blow by blow of the wedding, because there is not really a plot and I am not that good at describing an event. But it was fun and wonderful. 

I will tell you that sometimes, staying in a hotel instead of at your mom's place is the way to go, too. I am totally from the Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste, but my brother and his dog were staying at my mom's and my mom was heavily involved in the planning and the execution of the wedding and having two extra houseguests was not going to make her life any easier, even though SH and I try to be considerate houseguests who clean up after ourselves and make dinner and don't leave our towels on the floor or over the wooden chair in the guest room. 

SH needed another stay at a Hampton Inn to get his 2014 status anyhow, so we stayed at a Hampton a few miles from my mom's house and it was really nice. The nicest thing about it was that we could have the room as warm as we wanted and we wouldn't see it on our heating bill next month. The next nicest thing was there were no cats, no dogs, and no other people to wake us up in the morning, so we slept until the shockingly late - for us - hour of 9 a.m. And I watched TV until I was sick of it and reminded that we did the right thing to cancel our cable three years ago. Once every three years for "Say Yes to the Dress" is enough. 

PS Obviously, that is my sister up above. Isn't she gorgeous? I think this is one of the best photos I have ever taken, despite the blurriness. She was so happy and so were her friends. I loooove this photo.

PPS My brother tried to get the pastor to say, "mawwaige" during the ceremony,  but was unsuccessful. However, Greg did catch Jenny's eye during the vows and mouthed "mawwaige" to her, causing her to break into uncontrollable giggles, reminiscent of our youth when Greg and I would get Jenny laughing at supper and milk would come out of her nose. Some things don't change.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


It's so nice to have so many of Lisa's readers over here. I'm glad to have you!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 745: Secret Santa

My grandfather and moi, fishing. I didn't know enough when I was 12 to hate my body, although I knew I was a chubby kid, so I wore halter tops and flaunted that Milwaukee Roll.

I have a question for you guys: What is your family strategy on Christmas gifts? (If you do, indeed, celebrate Christmas. If you do not, please substitute the gift-giving holiday of your choice and know that I am not deliberately trying to exclude you, but I do celebrate Christmas and come from a Catholic/Lutheran background, so this is my only experience. I cannot speak to anyone else's experience, just mine.)

Back to the question: When I married SH, I acquired four wonderful nieces and nephews and an awesome sister in law (and her dad!) who are just the nicest people you would ever want to meet. But SH and I have not been in the habit of buying gifts for the siblings in law and the nieces and nephews.

I also acquired two wonderful step-step daughters, their husbands, and their three wee little boys, all of whom have this lush, silky, strokable black hair that I covet with a fierce passion. Plus I love their fat little cheeks and their fat little hands and their fat little feet.

But we do not give gifts to them - nor they to us - during the holidays. Yes, wedding and baby gifts for the steps. Yes, high school graduation gifts for SH's side. But not birthday or Christmas gifts.

Perhaps it is because I come from a big family. I didn't used to think it was that big - doesn't everyone have 26 first cousins? It is a normal-sized family for where my parents are from. Actually, it is a small family for northern Wisconsin. My dad's father had 11 siblings and each of those siblings had at least six children. My dad's cousin Greg came from a family of eight. Greg's dad died before he was 40, leaving a widow with eight children - who remarried a man 15 years younger than she was. She must have been some hottie. My dad's dad and mom - Al and Sylvia, had only three, so they were not holding up the family duties.

But even when I was a kid, family presents were not Done. I don't know if it was a money thing - probably - or because we were rarely together during the holidays - because of my dad's career, we were all over the world. But we did not exchange cousin to cousin gifts or aunts and uncles to nieces and nephew gifts at Christmas. So that's how my expectations were set. And that's how I have acted.

My sister was married last week. She acquired an instant family: a 4 year old stepson, a teenage stepdaughter, and an adult stepson whom I have yet to meet. He didn't attend the wedding. No I do not know why. I want to know. I intend to find out.

And of course I acquired new nephews and a niece.Which is wonderful. The niece knows all the words to "Bust a move," which I may have mentioned or will be mentioning in my post about the wedding, and can dance like a rock star. The nephew is a sweetie - good natured and loving. He loves my sister, he loves my mother. My mother is so happy to have some grandchildren that she can hardly stand it.

At the rehearsal lunch, some of the guests were talking about wedding to Mark, the stepson, and telling him that I was his new auntie. "You know what that means, don't you?" one of them asked. "More presents at Christmas!" Then she looked at me expectantly.

I froze. I am not a good spontaneous liar - I really have to think about a lie and craft it and practice it so I can deliver it with confidence. But caught on the spot, I blurt out the truth unless I can keep my mouth shut, which is not my wont.

So I just shook my head, laughed, and said, "Nope. Not in this family."

Which was not the most politic thing to say. But it was the truth. Not that the truth should always be said out loud. Like if your best friend in the world asks, "Does this dress look good on me?" and it's way too short and totally mutton/lamb, you might not say, "It makes you look like a hot mess." Instead, you remember this is your friend and you love her and try to adhere to these guidelines:

1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?

Then you say, "You know, I think there are other dresses that flatter your beautiful (arms/ankles/neck) more. Let me see if I can find something." You have told the truth but not in a hurtful way.

So I have two issues here:

1. I was too blunt, although really, it's not like a four year old would notice, especially a four year old who was already so rattled by the whole experience of flying to Colorado and meeting two dozen new people, including 12 new great-aunts and uncles.
2. Do I get Christmas presents for the four year old? I don't get them for the steps, who are all under three. So I can't use age as a cutoff.

I wouldn't want to say, "But these kids are my sisters. They count more." I don't want to make those distinctions: SH's steps and his nieces and nephews are my family as much as my sister's family. We are all one. Indeed, my uncle's daughter from his first marriage (this uncle is married to my mom's sister) commented to me that my grandmother - her stepgrandmother, never treated her as any less than a full grandchild. Laurie told me how grateful she was for that as a kid.

And another aunt, who had a small child when she married my mom's brother (her first marraige), told me she had been so worried how my grandmother, a devout Catholic, would treat her when she joined the family. "She loved me and she loved my kid," my aunt said. My grandmother was not one to condemn others - all she did was love, which I think is a far more Christian way to live than to tell other people they are doing it wrong. I am not a big fan of proselytizing - people come to the faith far better by watching someone like my grandmother than by being told, "Do this!" by someone who is not conducting a loving, exemplary life.

But I digress. I am not talking about preaching or anything. I am talking about Christmas presents for nieces, nephews, and grandkids. What do you guys do? Does it depend on the number of people? Do you have different rules for different statuses? (Stati? Or is it a Greek word that doesn't take the "us" to "i" conversion for plural? The plural of octopus is not "octupi." It's a Greek word.)

Man I am long winded. I haven't written in a while. There's a lot going on.

Anyhow. Tell me what you do about gifts in your family.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Travel tales: The joys of blogging

Last week, when SH and I went to California, I got to meet Lisa at Privilege. If you don't read her blog, you should. She is super smart and super interesting so of course I was completely intimidated to meet her.

First, there were the clothes. I was going to spend six days in California and then fly to Colorado for my sister's wedding. In my suitcase, I had to pack clothes for California and clothes to wear to the wedding and I had to keep my winter Wisconsin clothes because I am not going to fly into Milwaukee wearing shorts. I am not going to fly anywhere wearing shorts. I have a sense of propriety and showing the tops of my thighs seems very mutton dressed as lamby.

Not to mention I refuse to be cold. It's not even the lack of style for the people I see in sloppy shorts and t-shirts at the airport that bothers me - it's the idea that they might be cold. I wore my Lands End rated for 15 below down jacket even when I was indoors in San Francisco. There are people who are about to walk out into a Wisconsin winter - which SH claims are not as harsh as they used to be but dang it's still cold - 9 degrees is cold - wearing nothing more than shorts. For dumb.

Anyhow, I had limited packing space what with the clothes and the cheese curds for my brother and Kim, my pedicure pal in SF, and the birdseed brittle that my dad's cousin had given me to give to my mom. She gave me about 15 bags but I only took half of them to Colorado.

1. I had limited space.
2. The birdseed brittle is really good and I wanted to hoard it for myself.

So I didn't have a lot of room for nice clothes.

And Lisa has such great style. Not that I think she is a judgy person. I mean, we all judge. We do. Don't think you don't. But it's the people who judge out loud who are tough to deal with. Those of us who just think to ourselves, "Well, that's not the look I would choose" are not harming the feelings of other people. And I also have to admit that I have, on more than one occasion, gone to the grocery store, the library, and Target in my gym clothes and snowboots, so whom am I to judge? But I will say I have never gone out in public in my pajamas. One has to draw the line somewhere.

The good thing is I live in the midwest and really, people here are not that fashionable, so you don't stand out that much if you aren't all Done.

But I was worried about meeting Lisa just because when you meet someone you admire, you want to be admired in return and I didn't want even a slightly raised internal eyebrow commenting silently on my midwestern casual vs California chic.

Fortunately, Lisa warned me that she would be wearing tennies because her foot hurt and jeans because she is retired. Even so, she looked smashing in her black motorcycle jacket and her chic, blonde going on gray long braid.

The second reason I was intimidated is she is such a fabulous writer. I like what she has to say and I like how she says it. She writes so elegantly, so intelligently. That Shakespearean rag. She writes about everyday things but looks at them in a way I have never considered. I love this post.

So I was already nervous to meet her and then I had to drive. In northern California. On the highway. I hardly drive on the highway here. I take the bus to work. SH is a control freak who has to drive whenever we are together. I've probably got about 20 hours behind the wheel this year.

I have become a little old lady on the road and omigosh they drive so fast in California! And the CA Dept of Transportation does not believe in signage, so I had to completely trust the lady on my GPS to know where to exit. If I had just trusted my reading ability, I would have ended up in the ocean. Signs, California! Get some signs!

And then I had to find a parking space and figure out if I needed the purple zone or the gray zone. It was exhausting. I was a post-adrenalined wreck.

But then she was right there on the street corner and we went to lunch and y'all, it was so great. I realized how much I miss being around smart people. I'm with SH every day and he's a genius (or pretty close), but I don't work with people at Lisa's level or SH's level. I'm not at their level, either, but I sure appreciate their level. (I was always the smartest kid in the class until I graduated from high school. Then I went to college and realized that holy smoke, I was nowhere near the smartest person around and never would be the smartest person again. I'm used to it now, but I love being around smarties.)

And although SH is super smart, but he is not well read because he majoring in engineering instead of English, which was quite practical of him and if I had to do it again, I would stick with engineering, but man is it fun to be around someone like Lisa who is smart and majored in literature so can make all the in jokes.

We talked about blogging and Tish Jett and her book, which I am about to get - I had to wait for the second printing. And we talked about mawwaige and work and aging and the loss of beauty even when you didn't think you had any beauty. Oh - the "you" in that is me. I have seen photos of Lisa in her 20s and she was lovely then and she is lovely now. I am the one who never thought she had any beauty but has discovered that youth by itself is beauty and the loss of youth is a loss.

She insisted on treating lunch, which was so nice of her. She wanted to have leftovers for SH. That's our meal in the photo above. My plate is the one with the fork. I have not learned to eat with chopsticks and really don't have the patience or the interest to start now. SH loved the leftovers - he had them for breakfast two mornings in a row - and we also had a supper of them. Lisa went a little crazy ordering, but we sure enjoyed it. We don't have a big Asian population in Milwaukee so don't have the dining options they do in California.

It was a great day. The end.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 631: SH misunderstands the purpose of a vacation day

SH: Would you peel me an orange?

Me: No!

SH: But you're home.

Me: Yes. I am home.

SH: And it's a weekday!

Me: Yes. I am taking a day off from work.

SH: So you're home.

Me: Yes.

SH: Doesn't that mean you can peel me an orange?

Me: No. It means I am taking a DAY OFF FROM WORK so I can do things I want to do!

SH: Doesn't it mean that you want me to annoy you?

Me: No. It means I want  you to go away. GO AWAY!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 623: For better or for annoying

Me: My gosh you are being annoying. Would you please stop?

SH: I haven't seen you for two days!

Me: Are you saying you have a lot of annoying built up and it has to get out?

SH: Yes. I'm annoyed at work.

Me: So why don't you take it out on work?

SH: I can't. I have to take it out on you because I am married to you.

Me: That's so great.

SH: I'm sorry for being annoying.

 Me: That's a big fat lie. You are not sorry.

SH: Wait! So I apologize for being annoying and that's not enough?

Me: Nope. I want you to actually stop being annoying, not just say you're sorry.

SH: I don't think that's possible.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 745: Unequally yoked


SH: Maybe I'll vacuum while you're at the gym tomorrow morning.

Me: The class is at 9:00.

SH: I know.

Me: You're funny.

SH: What do you mean?

Me: That you would actually be up and doing chores at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.

SH: It could happen.

Me: Yeah, right.

SH: It could!

Me: Well, if it doesn't, why don't you go ahead and wash the kitchen floor, too?

SH: What? I already do a ton of stuff around here! I'm going to put the snow tires on tomorrow!

Me: I clean the bathroom, do laundry, change the sheets, and cook every week. The tires get changed twice a year. Are you really trying to claim that a twice a year task means you get out of every weekly task?

SH: Changing the tires is a pain in the neck.

Me: Yeah whatever. Why don't you wash the floor?

SH: Because we don't have a mop.

Me: I use a rag.

SH: Because I don't want to.

Me: Yeah, but if you'll wash the floor, then I won't nag you about vacuuming. I only want you to get the vacuuming done on Saturday morning so I can get my chores done early.*

SH: I think I would rather vacuum early than wash the floor.

SH: Oh no! Look at my socks. These are my Good Socks, but they have holes.

Me: Too bad. I guess you need to throw them out.

SH: That's wasteful! Can't you darn them?

Me: I could, but I won't.

SH: Why not?

Me: Because I hate darning. And you have an entire drawer full of socks. You might have enough socks to last the rest of your life.

SH: But I really like these socks.

Me: Nobody said you can't darn them yourself.

SH: I don't know how.

Me: Figure it out. I did.

SH: Please?

Me: I will darn your socks if you will wash the floor.

SH: I don't know.

Me: Up to you.

Saturday, 2:27 pm. The house has not been vacuumed. The tires have not been changed.

But the sheets have been changed, three loads of laundry done, and the menu planned and ingredient prep done for the upcoming week.

* SH is of the "Relax first, work later" school whereas I am German.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The working life: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

You guys, I came to coffee late in life, which is of great sadness to me because I think about all the missed coffee opportunities that I can never reclaim. I didn't sip coffee in coffee houses in Chile or Brazil or Ecuador or Guatemala. I didn't try coffee in Italy when I was there with my sister taking the cooking class in the afternoons and the language class in the mornings, the language class where one of our first lessons was about all the different kinds of coffee to be found in Italy: macchiato, espresso, cortado (that might be Spanish), etc.

I didn't try coffee in Spain or France until a few years ago.

I started my coffee journey with the gateway coffee: mocha. SH and I were traveling and decided to try one. He had started to drink coffee so he could stay awake during business meetings when he traveled. They all seemed to start at the unreasonable hour of 8 a.m., well before any rational person has gotten up, so he needed the caffeine.

I tried a mocha and thought, "This is chocolate milk with a little bit of coffee flavor in it."

I liked it. It was good, if a little too sweet. But I kept drinking it and then when SH bought a coffee maker for our house, I thought, "I bet I can make this at home."

And I could and I did.

Then I discovered that caffeine was the main provenance of my headaches, so I had to switch to decaf, so I just bought a jar of instant decaf and made my homemade decaf mocha that way.

Then I thought, "I might like plain coffee," and I did, as long as I added enough milk and cream.

I still used the instant coffee, but noticed that it did not taste as good as the occasional latte I would buy from the coffee shop formerly known as Alterra and now known as Colectivo, a name bestowed by people who have obviously never been in a colectivo before, because anyone who has ridden in a shared taxi in Latin America knows that is not the image you want to give to your brand.

I started to develop a coffee palate, as did SH. Which meant we started to get the Good Beans and grind them ourselves. And we started to notice that hotel coffee is swill and would pay to get Good Coffee at a coffee shop rather than drink the Free Swill at the Hilton Garden Inn or wherever we were. (Maybe Hilton has good coffee - I can't remember. But the place we stayed in Memphis last month had really crummy coffee.)

Once I had to get a job - I know, I know - you weep for me that after several years of being a golddigger I was forced to rejoin the working world that almost everyone else participates in as almost none of us are trustafarians - I realized coffee was even more important.

For one thing, walking from the office to the coffee shop was a way of getting away from The Man. All I will say is I am friends - as in, we have socialized with each other even after I am not longer sharing a workspace with them - with almost every boss I have ever had. The only one I am not friends with is the guy who laid me off and I would still meet him for coffee if he asked.

I do not see that ever happening in my current situation. Let's leave it at that, shall we?

So coffee at work - a big deal. A  nice little break in the morning, a way to socialize with my work friends, a little treat to make up for the dreariness of working for The Man, of getting up at 5:45 a.m., of waiting for the bus when it's 18 degrees (in November),  of having to do the TPS reports that nobody reads, of being in a cubicle, of having to hear the people around me eat carrot sticks and dry granola all day long.

Coffee: one of the few good things that happens in my day before 5:25 p.m., which is when I return home.

But I am not profligate. I do not buy coffee every day. It is not cheap, and my take-home pay after taxes is not that much. It's demoralizingly not that much - such is life when one returns to the workforce after a long absence: one must take pay that is much less than one earned before.

So I do not waste money on coffee. Indeed, I have a strategy: on coffee day, I buy the largest size available, where the cost per ounce is the lowest, but then only drink half the cup. I save the remaining half for the next day. I write my name on the cup and I put it in the break room fridge and the next day, I take the cup to the microwave and heat it and voila! coffee!

I have been using this strategy for over a year.

Yesterday, I went to the fridge to retrieve my coffee.

I looked in the door where I always put it.

It was gone.

I closed the door, opened it, and looked again.

It still wasn't there.

I closed the door again. Waited a few seconds. Opened it again. Not there. Not anywhere else in the fridge. It was gone gone gone.

Someone had stolen my coffee. With my name on it. Someone had stolen it.

I stormed back to my desk. Then I went to my friend's desk. Told her what happened.

"Oh," she said. "I bet I know what happened. I've seen Carly throw things away out of the fridge."

"What?" I asked.

"Yeah, I was in the kitchen and saw her toss a cup of coffee once. She said, 'That's been in there a while.' I didn't realize it wasn't her coffee until Maggie [our mutual co-worker] came over to me an hour later and said that her coffee was gone! Carly threw away Maggie's coffee! It had been in the fridge for one day!"

I seethed. That bitch. Throwing away someone else's coffee. Who does that? Well, obviously, Carly.

I went over to Carly's desk to ask if she had tossed my coffee, but she was out for the day.

So I made a sign and put it on the fridge, telling people not to throw things away that do not belong to them. I was tempted to go to Carly's desk and throw away her food, but decided that might not be such a good idea. But I will be watching her like a hawk. And I will now have to put a sign on the coffee similar to what I had to write on my Dr Peppers after they started to disappear - I put a sticky note that said, "Don't touch. I have ebola." I will write, "Carly, touch this coffee and  you are a dead woman."

Monday, December 09, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 654: Dry as dust, just like my mom used to make

Me: What should we have for Thanksgiving?

SH: Steak.

Me: What else?

SH: I don't know. You said something about Caesar salad.

Me: I guess.

SH: I could grill the lettuce.

Me: That might be good.

SH: Or creamed onions. We could have creamed onions.

Me: I don't want to be cooking all day.

SH: All you do is throw the stuff in a pot and cook it!

Me: What?! No! You have to make a cream sauce, which means starting with a roux and then adding milk. It's some work.

[I reach for my notebook and start writing.]

SH: What are you doing?

Me: Writing this down.

SH: For your blog?

Me: Yes. Of course.

SH: But you just open a can of soup. That's all. If you write down that I said it's no work, then you are not being accurate.

Me: Whatever. I am not aiming for accuracy here.

SH: It's just soup.

Me: Soup?

SH: It's my mom's recipe. I want you to make my mom's recipe.

Me: [long silence, as SH's mom is not the best cook in the world or even anywhere close. SH thinks that Oreos are the best cookies ever, probably because he never had a decent homemade cookie when he was a kid.]

SH: It's just the Cream of Shrimp soup, some sherry,* and the onions.

Me: Oh. OK. That's not much work.

* When SH's parents are involved, alcohol is never far away.]

Friday, December 06, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 653: And on the seventh day, God created you to annoy me

SH: Wait. Are you doing laundry tomorrow?

Me: What day is tomorrow?

SH: Saturday.

Me: And don't I always do laundry on Saturday?

SH: You're not going to do it without notice, are you?

Me: How long have we known each other?

SH: Eight years and three weeks.

Me: And have I not done laundry every single Saturday since we've met, except when we were out of town?

SH: Yes.

Me: Does that not count as notice?

SH: No. You have to tell me, "SH, I am doing laundry" so I can decide which clothes need to be washed.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 763: The price one pays to dance

SH wanted to have a political fundraiser at our house. I did not. We argued about it and I finally said Fine but I am not doing anything for this event, including cleaning, and I will not stay in the house while it happens.

SH said fine but would I please please please make my Memphis Junior League onion dip for the event. I said OK but that's it.

And of course I ended up setting the table because it's easier to do that than to deal with a stressed-out SH but I extracted promises of reciprocity from him, the main one being that by gosh this winter he was going to take dance classes with me or else you know what.

It was just supposed to be wine and cheese, but not the Good Wine because unlike Jesus, we do not serve the Good Wine to everyone. We are not that generous. So SH had to order Not So Good Wine. I didn't care because I don't drink wine and if I did, I know where SH keeps the Really Good Wine.

He bought some cheese and a few of his political friends said they would bring cheese so that was it.

But then he worried what if someone doesn't drink - what can he serve them?

One friend said diet soda, but SH did not want to have diet Coke sullying the table, even if he wasn't serving Good Wine.

He decided to get sparkling cider. And then we thought about coffee.

Which made him worry. We have several coffee mugs, but he is emotionally attached to them, especially to the Good Mug that he got in Bayfield at the artists shop three years ago when we were on our way to Madeline Island and were waiting for the ferry. He loves the Good Mug and has asked me not to put any silverware in it when it is sitting in the sink because what if one of the cats knocks into the silverware and knocks the mug over and it breaks? That would be so bad. It would lead to the Song of Something Bad Happened with the additional trauma of not being able to fix the problem as is usually possible. This would be the Song of Something Bad Happened And It's Irreversible, which would be a level of drama that I have yet to see.

I said just put out the darn mugs. He hesitated.

But not the Good Mug, I said.

He pulled a few out of the cupboard, but still hesitated.

What do you think is going to happen? I asked.

What if they get broken? he asked.

I laughed. These are your people! You really think they are that klutzy? I am not worried they would break them. I am worried that they would expropriate them or tax them!

He rolled his eyes. He does not think my political jokes are as funny as I do.

Nobody drank coffee.

Someone spilled beer in the living room. And someone I didn't even know asked if he could take some of the leftover cheese home, which I thought was a bit tacky, but whatever.

And now we dance.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Marriage 601, Lecture 124: It's not even a pass/fail test

SH: I  have to do that stupid fast for work.

Me: What do you mean, a fast for work?

SH: For my blood sugar. For the health insurance. To get the discount.

Me: Oh.

SH: So it's a good thing I already finished those M&Ms. Now I have to go twelve hours without eating.

Me: I couldn't do that.

SH: It's not so hard. Hey. What are you doing?

Me: Eating.

SH: Eating what?

Me: Bread.

SH: Aren't you going to offer me any?

Me: I thought you were fasting.

SH: Oh yeah.

Me: So do you only get the insurance discount if you get a certain score on the blood test?

SH: No. I just have to take it.

Me: So it doesn't matter if you show high blood sugar on the test or not.

SH: No.

Me: Want some bread?

SH: Yes. Give me some. And a clementine, too.