Monday, June 30, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 567: What do you eat for supper?

As I am going through the spreadsheet I keep of the contents of the freezer in the base--

What? You don't keep a spreadsheet of what's in your freezer?

Then how do you know what you have?

Do you go rummage around in it every night, trying to figure out what the food plan is for the week?

I can tell you that I have about 30 pounds of ground llama, but I am not in a rush to eat it because we got it only a few months ago. (I was going to say, "this spring," but we did not get spring this year.)

We have about eight packages of Klements brats that we got with a groupon and from the bargain counter, so they were almost free. They are a year old and we should eat them. The problem is that the only brats I like are the ones my uncle Larry makes. I think Klements is family, too (my mom has done family history research and thinks their great-grandmother was a sister to mine), but their brats are not my favorite.

We have Usinger's stuff, too. We have meat. That's why we bought the freezer. But we will be refilling in July after our vacation, so we need to clear out some space.

SH owes a dinner to some people. Maybe we'll invite them over and serve them the brats I don't like.

Me: We need to start eating breakfast sausage for supper.

SH: WHAT?! No! Breakfast sausage is for breakfast.

Me: The venison breakfast sausage my uncle makes is with the same mixture he uses for the brats.

SH: We can't eat breakfast sausage at supper.

Me: We have a ton of breakfast sausage and it is getting old. We need to eat it.

Plus wouldn't breakfast sausage be an easy weeknight meal? Usually, when we have meat, SH grills it. I usually prefer that, because I do not like the house to smell like frying fish or frying sausage, but breakfast sausage is very easy to cook on the stovetop and it doesn't make the house stink.

Also, SH's idea of a decent time to eat supper and my time of a decent time to eat supper vary by about four hours. So while I wait for SH JUST TO GRILL THE DAMN MEAT ALREADY, I am starving to death and eating whatever I can find in the fridge, including in the chocolate drawer. By the time SH actually cooks, I am no longer hungry. Not that that stops me from eating and Hello! twelve extra pounds since I got married!

SH: But it's called breakfast sausage for a reason.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Marriage 501, Lecture 628: How we roll

I would like to discuss an issue with you. One that divides people and ruins marriages. One that sends usually rational people into fits of irrationality. One that has been discussed to death and yet we are no closer to a resolution than we were decades ago.

It's not even the over/under debate, although that is related. I want to know how a man who is so compelled, so driven by his belief that the paper comes over (I don't disagree with him on that part) that he changes the roll when we are at someone elses' house (I do, however, disagree on that one - you don't mess with someone else's system! That's rude!) can be the same man who thinks that leaving a roll with one square of paper on it is acceptable.

That photo above shows how SH left the bathroom. He used all but one square of paper on the roll and thought that he satisfied his moral obligation by getting a new roll of TP from the linen closet and leaving it on the shelf.

He's not doing it right.

Not actually putting the new roll on the spindle is the moral equivalent of putting the milk back in the fridge with just one tablespoon of milk in it.

What say you? Is SH WRONG on this?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 3

I can't tell if Goth Girl on the Bus and Goth Boy on the Bus are back together. When I got on the bus this morning, Goth Girl was sitting cross-legged on the seat, chin in her hands, eyes closed, as she usually is. I am not impressed with someone who puts her feet on a seat in a public space, but what can you do? I did bump into her knee, but not on purpose. When you have your knee in the aisle, another person's gym bag is going to bump into it.

When Goth Boy got on the bus, she picked up her bags and moved over to the window seat so he could sit. He did, without removing his backpack. His lanyard, which is about 30" long, dropped all the way to the floor. It was the only color on him - he was wearing black jeans, a black jacket, a black hat with what appeared to be the dragon from the Welsh flag embroidered on it, but I only saw it from the side, and black tennies with white stripes. He got a haircut. It looks nice - very short.

Goth Girl was wearing a black skirt, black shirt, and a purple choker. No eye makeup today. No eye drama.

In the past, when he has sat, he has put his arm around her and they have leaned their heads together and stayed that way for the entire ride.

Today, they sat but did not touch, except for one moment when they leaned into each other and bumped. She fidgeted with her sunglasses and talked loudly about how she had been to see this amazing band on Friday and had started the mosh pit: "Dude! I didn't go to the concert to sit and be lazy!"

He twisted his hands and adjusted his earpiece. They did not hold hands when they got off the bus. But they talked to each other.

The Girl with Weird Bangs was not on the bus today.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 678: Fear not the bleach

SH: Would you help me?

Me: Depends.

SH: My t-shirt! I spilled red wine on it last night!

Me: Oh, that's easy. As long as you haven't put it in the dryer. You didn't put it in the dryer, did you?

SH: No. I went online and did some research and saw that I should try baking soda on it. I made a paste of baking soda and water and all that did was make it kind of purple.

Me: Why didn't you just use bleach?

SH: No! I am scared of bleach!

Me: But bleach is what will get it out.

SH: And then I tried Shout, but that didn't work, either.

Me: Why didn't you just use bleach?

SH: Bleach is scary.

Me: But bleach is wonderful. Bleach is what gets red wine out of white shirts.

SH: I don't know how to use bleach.

Me: Yet another thing your mother did not teach you.

SH: Will you fix it?

Me: Yes. I will use bleach.

SH: But that will ruin the shirt!

Me: No, it won't. Bleach is our friend.

And lo, soaking the shirt overnight in a solution of one tablespoon of bleach plus a bowlful of water did, indeed, remove the stain and now SH thinks I am amazing, which I suppose is nice, but I don't really want to be revered for my laundering abilities.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wisconsin 101: This is how we look at lines

8:57 a.m., at the social security office, in line waiting for the doors to open at 9:00.

Guy ahead of me: I shoulda got here at 8. Then I wouldn't be all the way at the end of the line.

Me: But then you just would have spent an hour waiting in line.

Guy: But I woulda been at the front.

Woman ahead of both of us: Either way, you gonna wait an hour.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wisconsin 101: What do we owe our neighbor?

Here is the question: How much do we owe our neighbor?

How much do we owe our fellow human beings? What is our responsibility to each other?

Philosophers and clerics have debated this question. There doesn't seem to be a solid answer, although among the more respectable religions, there is a consensus on not doing things to your neighbor that you wouldn't want done to you.

Things like, don't leave dog poop in your yard for days and days until it starts to smell bad. I had neighbors like that in Memphis. I never would have done that to them, not the least because I have never owned and will never own a dog. I am firmly in Team Cat.

Take your trash can in from the sidewalk once the trash has been picked up. That's an easy one. Not hard to stick to that.

Cut your neighbor's grass when she is on vacation. Water her flowers. Shovel her sidewalk so she doesn't get a citation. These are the things we do for our neighbor and she does for us because we have very good neighbors.

Then we get into the tougher issues.

What is our responsibility to our neighbor with respect to the neighbor's dog and its actions?

Especially when we approve of the dog's actions?

I mean, what is our responsibility (=my husband's responsibility, because I was at work) to our neighbor when her dog catches a squirrel and almost kills it?

I am a huge fan of dead squirrels. The only good squirrel is a dead squirrel. Kill all the squirrels you want, Izzo.

But almost-dead squirrels and almost-dead varmints are another issue. I want them dead but I don't want to be the executioner. Which makes me a total hypocrite, I know. It's like those people who eat meat but get all squishy seeing an animal being butchered. You can't eat meat without being implicit in the process.

Laverne often catches chipmunks and mice. She will meow proudly and wait for me to go outside to congratulate her. I do so, then require that she release the animal. Usually, it's still alive because Laverne and I are on the catch and release program. But one time, she caught a baby possum and it looked like it was on the verge of death. A slow death. My husband and I realized we could not leave that baby possum to die a long death and that we had to do the necessary. He went upstairs to gird his loins. I went inside, because I did not want to watch. He went back outside to get a shovel and dispatch the possum - only to find it gone. It had looked like it was about dead, but it was tricking us. We were both relieved.

Yesterday, while I was at work, our neighbor came over. Her dog had caught and almost killed a squirrel. Almost. Our neighbor - we will call her Suzy - did not want the squirrel to die a slow, painful death, but she knew it was not going to recover. Suzy did not want to kill the squirrel herself. So she asked my husband to do it.

Do we owe squirrel killing to our neighbors? Is that part of the social compact? Is it part of my general approach that I will lend my husband out to do manly things like repair lawnmowers and carry heavy things so I gain status with my unmarried neighbors?

What do you think? Should the man be in charge of killing the almost-dead squirrels? Or is this something Hillel and Jesus would say we do not have to do?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 2

I am very concerned about Goth Girl on the Bus and Goth Boy on the Bus, her boyfriend. Usually, he sits next to her with his arm around her, looking proud because he has a girl, and I can't see his bagging pants or the long key lanyard hanging from his belt loop. I can still see his sweet face that can't look tough despite his gear. He just looks like a nice kid. Today, he got on the bus and walked right past her. Didn't even say hi. He stood the entire ride, the lanyard swinging as the bus accelerated. She ignored him and talked to their mutual friend, Girl with the Weird Bangs. Did she break up with him? I hope not.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 23: Check the contract

SH [after running 8 miles]: Hey! You're not out here to listen to me whining and to congratulate me!

Me: I don't remember that part of the marriage vows.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Goth Girl and Goth Boy, 1

I have been writing this series on facebook about two high school kids who ride my bus. I call them Goth Girl and Goth Boy. Here are two of the very oldest posts I could find about them. There will be more to come. I won't say any more, because you will see the story as it unfolds.

One of the  best parts of this whole tale is the comments I get on facebook. Let's see if my blog friends can meet the standard.

Goth girl on bus yesterday: black leather bustier, black leather miniskirt, black hose, black hightops. 
Today: aviator sunglasses (it's overcast), jeans, gray sweater, gold chain belt.
She is fun to watch. I just wish she would shut up.

The Goth Girl has laryngitis but the girl who soaked her shoelaces in bleach overnight (I wanted to tell her bleach doesn't work on synthetics) is talking enough to fill the silent gap. 

Monday, June 09, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 65: You divide, I'll choose

SH: Hey! What are you doing?

Me: Making you a caprese salad.

SH: Where did you get those tomatoes?

Me: One is left from the batch you got last week and I bought some more today.

SH: I want mostly this [the older] tomato.

Me: Too bad. That's the one I'm having.

SH: Why do you get it?

Me: Because I am the one who is doing all the work.

That is, I bought the basil and the tomatoes. (SH bought the cheese last week and I was worried it would go bad before we could use it.) I washed the basil and tomatoes. I am slicing the basil, the tomatoes, and the cheese.

SH: But the person who is doing the preparation should sacrifice for the other person.

Me: Your mom told you that the sun shines out of your a** one too many times.

SH: Yep.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 23: More kitchen drama

You guys, I was so embarrassed to tell you about how I melted the cutting board and set the oven on fire but you were great and told me how you had done similar things, so I didn't feel so alone.

What I didn't tell you is that I have more than once clogged the kitchen plumbing by using the disposal improperly.

My only defense is that I did not grow up with a garbage disposal - they are not standard issue in base housing - and never developed the instinct for using them.

Because apparently, there is an instinct or, more accurately, a feel. Instinct can't be developed, right? It's something you're born with, like knowing how to accessorize or how to wear makeup.

As in, my sister has the makeup and accessorizing instinct and I most definitely do not. Which would be completely obvious to anyone who meets us both.

Back to the disposal.

It's not just embarrassing that I clogged the plumbing - it's embarrassing that I have done it more than once. Apparently, not only do I not have the disposal instinct, I also am too dumb to learn proper disposal technique.

But - I have always been able to fix it before. It's simple - all you do is remove the elbow joint under the sink and let all the stuff - that weird green vegetable you bought at the Vietnamese grocery store that turned out to taste like bitter grass, for example - flow into a bucket. It's not fun, it's not glamorous, it means you have to remove all of the plastic bags that your husband has stored under the sink in case there is ever a plastic bag shortage and an associated crisis, but it is easy and nobody has to know your shame.

The hard part comes when

1. Your husband is not at home
2. You thought you would just do some quick vegetable prep before going downstairs to enjoy a nice evening alone with "Foyle's War" or "Doc Martin" or whatever show you are watching.
3. You try to put the refuse - cauliflower, I think it was - down the drain
4. The sinks start backing up with water and little chopped-up bits of cauliflower
5. And it all starts leaking under the sink.

And then when you clear everything out and put the bucket under the sink and remove the elbow joint, you discover that the blockage is after the elbow joint.

So you try other methods including trying to plunge it out but that doesn't work. You are left with sore arms and a sink that smells like bleach because you have to disinfect before and after.

You finally, in desperation, call your husband to tell him that the sink is clogged.

He wonders why you are calling.

You are calling because THE SINK IS CLOGGED! And you can't get it unclogged!

But why didn't you just send a text, he wants to know? Or a facebook message?

Because this feels more important than a message?

He does not think this is a big deal. He certainly does not think it is a deal worthy of a phone call.

I think this is a  big deal. The sink won't drain. I have spent two hours trying to solve the problem but have failed. I feel like an incompetent and an idiot.

He suggests that I just leave it for us to deal with in the morning. I go to bed with a clogged sink, dreading waking up to a problem.

The next morning, SH gets up. Goes to the basement. Gets some chemical. Pours a tablespoon of it in the sink.

Almost immediately, the sink starts to drain.

"See?" he says.

I am thrilled at the Miracle of Chemicals and even more thrilled that it seems unnecessary to explain all the drama I went through the night before in my attempts to solve the problem. I do mention that I had removed the elbow joints and he checks them and discovers that I did not have some little thingamabobby in place and he puts everything where it should be and tightens it all up. Done.

And no we have a sparkling clean under the sink area with a reduced volume of plastic grocery bags, which is not a bad thing.

Fast forward months later. It is again a Friday night. SH is doing something. Can't remember. But it involves piddling around the kitchen. I say I am going to peel the carrots for whatever it is I plan to make the next day. I think it was these carrots, which are delicious.

He says I should wait until the next day and I say no, I am going to  peel and prep the carrots now because I've had a long week at work and I like cooking and I want to cook and what business is it of his anyway?

I peel three pounds of big carrots. I push the peelings down the drain and turn on the disposal.

The sink starts to back up.

I turn the water off and call SH over.

He turns the water back on.

I suggest that perhaps turning the water on when the sink is backing up is not the proper approach, but then I remember that I apparently know nothing about sinks and disposals and should defer to the person more experienced with disposals, although in my defense, it's not like SH ever peels or preps vegetables and it's not like he has that much more experience actually using a disposal than I do.

He turns the disposal on and off.

He is also singing the Song of Something Bad Happened this whole time, with some added verses about how could this happen on a FRIDAY and WOE IS HIM and NOW HE IS DESPONDENT.

The sink does not drain.

He turns the water off.

I ask why he doesn't just pour some of that Magic Chemical down the sink again. I like that solution.

I don't know why he doesn't just go to the easy solution like he did last time. Who knows how the mind of an engineer works?

Something prompts him to open the cupboard under the sink and look.

The elbow joint, which he had checked last time and he had said was OK, is leaking.


Not Ha! Now I have another problem to deal with and a husband who is composing even more verses to the Song of Something Bad Happened but Ha! There is a problem and it's not my fault!

Do you know how rarely it happens in this house that something goes wrong and it's SH's fault?


1. He doesn't chop things up and use the disposal
2. He takes 100 times as long to do a chore as a normal person, which means that anything he does is done perfectly but he hardly ever gets anything done

He did set the grill on fire once and that was his fault. And now, the pipe is leaking and it's his fault.

But I cannot relish my joy because the problem still exists, regardless of fault. (If I were one of my husband's clan, then I would be relishing my joy because step one of any crisis is to assign blame.)

Instead, I pull everything out from under the sink (still more new verses to the song along the lines of, "You'll get the floors wet! Watch where you put those!"), get rags from the basement, and start cleaning the water from under the sink.

(Another verse: "There are bits up carrot up there! There! Why can't you see them?")

SH gets the Magic Chemical. Pours a little bit in the sink. It starts to drain.

SH gets the bucket, puts it under the joint, removes the joint, lets the remaining water and carrots drain into the bucket. ("Watch out! Watch out! Here be chemicals!")

He replaces the joint with everything where it should be. ("Woe is me! Woe is me! This is not how I wanted to spend my Friday night!")

I apologize because really, this is my fault for cramming a bunch of carrot peels down the disposal even though there is nothing in my history to indicate that the peels from three pounds of carrots will all go down the disposal at once. I also note that from beginning to end, this endeavor has taken us 20 minutes, so the night is not ruined. Or "RUINED!"

And then I vow never to use the disposal again because apparently, modern garbage disposals are not actually designed to dispose of garbage. I do not do it right and I have not done it right more than once. Now you know the truth.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 53: It's not in the contract

SH: Sweetie, I was just in the bathroom. The toilet needs to be cleaned.

Me: Really?

SH: It's dirty. Not the regular kind but like if someone put dust in it.

Me: Hmmmm.

SH: So maybe you need to clean it.

Me: Hmmmmm.

SH: Because it's dirty.

Me: Uh huh.

SH: Or --

Me: Yes?

SH: Maybe I can clean it.

Me: Maybe.

SH: But I clean the upstairs toilet!

[1. That is the toilet in the bathroom next to his office.
2. As in, it is the only other toilet in the house. I don't really need to specify that it is in the bathroom next to his office - it is just the other  bathroom.
3. I once visited the house of a woman in Junior League with me in Memphis and saw that she had five bathrooms. She also had two refrigerators, one just for drinks kept next to the back door by the pool. "Because the kids come in from the pool and want a drink and I don't want them tracking water into the kitchen." Right. So the solution is to buy another fridge. My mom's solution would have been to tell us to dry off before coming into the house.
4. He might clean it sometimes, but I do it often enough - especially when we have company, because in addition to being the Bathroom by the Office, it is also The Bathroom by the Guest Room - that I count as the Official Toilet and Bathroom Cleaner of the House.]

Me: I also clean the upstairs toilet.

SH: I guess I can clean it.

Me: That would be nice.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 12: A place for everything and everything in its place

Me: So I went to the hardware store to take the lawnmower to be sharpened and I thought, "While I'm here, I'll get a squeegee."

SH: For what?

Me: For washing the windows.

SH: I don't care if the windows are washed.

Me: They need to be washed.

SH: No they don't.

Me: Your parents live in near squalor, but that doesn't mean it's desirable to be in a dirty, cluttered house.

SH: Windows don't have to be washed. I don't care if they are dirty.

Me: You would notice if I never washed the windows.

SH: I am not going to wash windows.

Me: You do not get to get out of household chores just by saying you don't care if they are done. That would be like my saying I don't care if I ever [wxyz] again. That would not mean I would get off the hook.

SH: You wouldn't ever say that!

Me: No, but that's the analogy. You don't get out of doing essential tasks just because you say you don't care if they are done. Anyhow, I was at the hardware store and I found a squeegee.

SH: So?

Me: How many times have I mentioned that I need a squeegee with the washer part on it and not just the plastic blade? That I am tired of having to reach with a rag to wash the window and then grab the squeegee?

SH: I don't know. I don't pay attention to this stuff.

Me: I bought a squeegee. I walked to the car. I opened the back door to put it in the back seat. The one seat was down so the lawnmower fit. And guess what I saw?

SH: What? [He is bored now because he hates stories. He always wants me to get right to the point, even though the point is always the point. Sometimes the story is the point. He will talk about politics for hours, but interesting things, like the drama going on in my office, nope. Doesn't want to hear it.]


SH: Oh! Right! That's the squeegee I keep in the car!

Me: But why? I have mentioned before that I want one and you had one all along. Why on earth would you keep it in the trunk?

SH: For when I am at a gas station and I want to wash the windows of the car.

Me: But the gas station already has a squeegee! Have you ever used the car squeegee to wash the car windows at a gas station?

SH: Nope. I just thought that's where it belongs.