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Archive for the ‘Wifehood’ Category

This post is about that most controversial of marital subjects: division of chore labor.  Well, a sub-category, at least. So prepare for some boredom and talk of folding.

As the person who, for most of our relationship, works from home, I am typically the Main Laundry Person in our household. Over the years, we have developed a pretty solid laundry routine, wherein I have no trouble washing the clothing but then when it’s dry I leave it stuffed in the laundry basket or on the guest bed for months on end I fold Carla’s clothes and my own clothes, but only some of my husband’s clothing (underpants, socks) and then leave the rest of his stuff in neat piles so he can deal with it the way he wants to.

He’s not being weird. It’s just that there are specifications that I can’t meet.

For instance, he keeps all his undershirts in a specific drawer and he folds them in identical rectangles so that they all fit in the drawer.

Back when we were first married, I tried desperately to fold the shirts for him. I would go so far as to grab an already-folded shirt out of the drawer and try to use it as a folding template. Seriously. Is there anything more pathetic (or anti-feminist???) than a grown woman fretting over the perfect way to fold her spouse’s T-shirts? Picture me, setting a neatly-folded white Hanes T-shirt on the bed and then placing a recently (yes, we’ll go with recently) cleaned shirt on the same bed underneath it, and then trying to bend each sleeve into the center of the collar until the width matches the sample shirt, and then turning both shirts ninety degrees so I can then fold the bottom of the shirt up in such a way as to meet the desired depth and then triumphantly turning the newly folded shirt over to admire my obviously perfect work only to discover that I’ve somehow folded one sleeve in so far that the collar is not so much centered as all the way to the right, and the act of turning the shirt over has untucked the bottom and the finished product looks nothing like the template AT ALL, they are not in the same universe, this is a Picasso rendering of a folded shirt, maybe a raccoon wandered into the bedroom and tried to make a nest in it, it’s unclear. Certainly the raccoon could have done a better job. So I shake out the “folded” shirt in frustration and begin again. Ad infinitum.

Listen, it is no secret around here that I am terrible at things like folding. Anything that requires precision and straight lines is beyond my capabilities. Whatever. I am good at other things. I type pretty fast. I can load a dishwasher. I’m good with knots.

What I’m saying is, even though I used a template, back in those heady days of trying-to-please-my-husband-in-impossible-ways-early-marriage, the shirts would be too square or too thin or not look in any way like a shirt or whatever and my husband would end up refolding them.

I don’t really blame him. They were ridiculous. Sometimes I’d bury my worst attempts at the bottom of the pile and top them with the one shirt that looked somewhat like a folded shirt should look and less like a deflated smear of whipped cream with a “tagless” tag.  So I knew they weren’t up to his standards.

But I have to tell you something, and that is that I have my own drawer of T-shirts. T-shirts that I folded, all by myself. And they all fit in the drawer. Maybe not perfectly, maybe there’s some squashing. But my T-shirts are for exercise and sleeping, and his T-shirts are for wearing under other shirts, so an errant wrinkle here and there shouldn’t be a big deal. What I’m saying, I guess, is that while I understand his T-shirt folding preferences, I don’t think that they are necessarily any better than my own. Or… maybe they are better, but not so much better that they should require their own individualized folding process. And that maybe he should have just let me fold the shirts and be done with it.

I’m not saying that he’d chastise me or anything. He wouldn’t. Probably, in his infinite patience slash kindness he would thank me. But when he’d inevitably refold the T-shirts, I would feel such a mixture of emotions. Shame, for the horrid failure of my fingers to assemble his shirts into something resembling folded. Frustration, for spending time and energy trying to do something that he felt compelled to redo. Irritation at my husband for being so particular (as though I don’t have a specific way I fold, sort, and hang my own clothes). Wounded exasperation, because I was doing something NICE for him, and he didn’t APPRECIATE it. And despair, because certainly this was an indication that my marriage was bound for failure and also did I possibly have some sort of neurological disorder that was impairing my ability to fold.

I mean, seriously. If you go out of your way to do something nice for someone else, shouldn’t they APPRECIATE IT? So what if it isn’t perfect? It’s the THOUGHT, right? Whatever happened to not looking a Chore Horse in the mouth????? This Chore Horse is SAD!!!!!!

You may wonder why my husband continues to live in my home with me when I tell you the T-shirt thing is just one example of many. The only other example I can come up with is also laundry related: I wash the towels at regular intervals and, because I enjoy being at Towel Zero, that usually means that they are all in the wash at once. And sometimes I forget to, you know, dry the towels. Or maybe if I do dry them, I forget them in the dryer. And then my husband gets mad because he inevitably gets in the shower and then turns off the shower and realizes not only are there no towels hanging helpfully off of the towel rack but there are NO TOWELS AT ALL in the linen closet.

And when he gets annoyed at me, I get petulant. I WASHED THE TOWELS, MAN. Is that not enough for you? (I mean, I also apologize and go get him a towel. Obviously. Am not a sadist.)

Well.

When I get beyond the stage of exasperation, I completely understand where he is coming from. I am not so morally superior that I don’t have preferences for how I do or like certain things. I can’t think of any examples now, of course, because that would cede too much ground, but I am sure they exist. And I do, really truly, understand the rage that comes from exiting a shower, cold and wet and shivery and possibly late for work, and finding that all your towels are placidly soaking in OxiClean for the twenty-third consecutive hour. Let’s be honest. It’s a wonder he hasn’t divorced me and taken all the towels.

What I’m trying to say is that I get where he’s coming from.

And he is, or at least has been on multiple occasions, right that sometimes there just is a BEST way to do things.  The towels, right. I mean, obviously the Best Way is to dry them and put them back in the closet and maybe even hang one on the towel rack for easy post-shower access.

And, why not, let’s talk MORE about towels. For years, my husband would refold the towels that I’d just folded. Shame, frustration, irritation, wounded exasperation, despair. He claimed there was a Best Way. I maintained that my way got them done and folded and in the closet, therefore it was Good Enough. But then he taught me how to fold them (somehow what I cannot achieve with undershirts, I excel at with towels) and he is right: when a stack of towels is folded exactly the same way, it fits better in the closet and it’s easier to fetch down a new towel when you need one! And the rest of the towels don’t slump all over the shelves in desperation! So I acknowledge that there is a Best Way to do some things. Maybe many things. But not all. NOT ALL. Sometimes DONE is good enough.

Have I established that I understand a) there can actually be a best way to do some things and b) when I don’t/am incapable of the best way, my husband is justified in being irritated?

Okay. So let’s go back to my frustration. The frustration of doing something – perhaps not best but done – and having it rejected.

At what point do you say, I love this person and will exhaust my body and soul trying to execute a task to his exact specifications and when do you say, Spouse, love of my life, accept it the admittedly inferior way I do it as Good Enough, or do it your frogspam self?

The towel thing is something I have to work through; it’s mean, to leave a person dripping and towelless with no recourse. Doing towel laundry half way is most definitely NOT the Best Way OR Good Enough.

As I mentioned above, we have evolved a workaround for the shirts issue. I just don’t fold them. I don’t like it, because it makes the task seem unfinished. And it reminds me of my Folding Weakness, and no one wants that shoved in their face week after week. But it works. I don’t have to not-fold his shirts for endless hours. He doesn’t have to refold the Dadaist art I’ve presented to him as a pile of folded laundry. And his shirts are all meticulously rectangled and fitted into their drawer. Everyone wins.

But there are probably oodles of OTHER things where the specificity of the end result is less critical. Like the loading of the dishwasher. Does it really matter that my husband insists on putting the bowls on the top rack of the dishwasher when I would put them on the bottom rack? No, not really, as long as they get clean and don’t prevent other dishes from being included in the wash cycle.

Does it really matter that I leave a puddle of water on the counter next to the sink, when that space is reserved SOLELY for dirty dishes, and when it is washed each night before bed anyway? No, not really.

Does it really matter that I believe the washer can, as it claims to, hold laundry up to the “top row of holes” while my husband believes I am overfilling it and preventing it from agitating properly? (I ask you, when have I ever prevented something, including my own self, from agitating properly???) Since neither of us has ever unloaded the dryer and found a still-dirty item of clothing, not really, no.

My personal opinion is that there is very rarely a Best Way to complete a chore. The person doing the chore should, within reason, have freedom to complete it in his or her individual way. Complete it being the key term; I would be the first to agree that washing a towel and then NOT DRYING IT is not “completing” that particular chore. And if someone is kind enough to do a chore – by it’s very nature a thing that few people actually want to spend their time doing – the other person should be grateful and not nit-picky. And if doing it in some perceived Best Way is such a big deal to the other person, well then, he or she can take it on him- or herself for the future.

This is where I want to hear what egregious errors your own partners have made under the auspices of Doing A Chore. And I want to hear your examples of which things have a clear Best Way and those that can be completed successfully in many ways. And your squabbles about Best vs. Good Enough. Tell me all of them!

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Losing the Will to Sandwich

My husband makes a sandwich for lunch almost every day. He’s been doing this for as long as we’ve lived together, which is going on NINE YEARS. The sandwich is either PB&J or turkey with mayo. Once in a great while, he’ll switch things up and eat roast beef or ham instead of turkey. Sometimes he will use a wrap or “sandwich thins” instead of bread. I know – he’s a wild man.

But recently he came home and told me, rather forlornly, that he has lost the will to sandwich.

This poses quite the problem, Internet. Because he needs to eat SOMETHING. And before you recommend the cafeteria, let me say: taking a lunch is both healthier and quicker – not to mention VASTLY more palatable – than eating in the cafeteria. Sometimes, on long shifts, he ends up eating two meals at the hospital. That means he DOES have to use the cafeteria. So he prefers that at least one meal includes something not packed with sodium. Plus, the cafeteria closes at some point during the evening, which is weird to me. Because so many people work overnight. And THEY NEED TO EAT TOO.

So. He needs a lunch that he can bring to work. And yet the sandwich – which is clearly FAILING HIM – seems to be the only food in the universe that fits all his criteria.

What criteria, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

He needs something that he can eat while sitting at a chair or while standing. (This fact makes me sad.)

He needs something that doesn’t require fussing. (Even adding salad dressing to a salad was rejected as too complicated for someone who is forced to scarf down lunch while standing in the back of a crowded conference room. Don’t even get me started on NEEDING A FORK.)

He needs something that goes well with pretzels/chips and Diet Coke – his sandwich pairings of choice.

He needs something that we can buy/make once a week, that will stay fresh (“fresh”) all week the way cold cuts do.

He is pretty conscious of his health, so he needs something low in sodium, not too crazy fat-wise, and low in sugar.

He (and I, thank you) would prefer that it not be crazy expensive. I mean, caviar is out already because of the No Flatware stipulation. But still.

And it would be awesome if the Savior Lunch Option didn’t require a lot of heavy-duty preparation. We’re talking about something that can be prepared once a week or so and frozen, or assembled hastily before dashing out the door.

See? Criteria up the ying yang.

I know some people have been doing those Bento box-style lunches for their kids. But is there a Man Friendly version that a) isn’t twee and b) can satisfy a Man Size appetite? All I can think of are cheese and meat cubes accompanied by some sort of nut… but that sounds suspiciously like a denuded sandwich.

Is there such a thing as a cold burrito? I don’t mean a burrito that is cold, but a burrito that is SUPPOSED TO be cold. But not a wrap.

Is there some kind of pulled-pork/chicken option that wouldn’t be too time-consuming or sloppy?

Am I overlooking some sort of non-bread food-delivery apparatus?

I am a person who takes eating Very Seriously (you no doubt sense my level of seriousness by the emphatic capitalization), and I cannot imagine forcing myself to choke down a sandwich I didn’t care for day after day.  So I really want to find my husband a workable and tasty solution.

This is what Pinterest was made for, I’m guessing.

I will certainly keep you posted. But in the meantime… Do you have any ideas?

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Internet, I spent Friday night being awakened every two hours by The Worst Headache Ever. Which meant that I got very little sleep (plus, had to deal with a severe skull shattering headache) and then had to work for 13.5 hours.

So all I can muster this morning are a few sad bullets. I’m sorry. You deserve more!

And yet…

Here we go:

— My husband takes a sandwich for lunch almost every day. But he has some sort of mental block against making his sandwich pretty much every night. Which means that he forgets – almost every night – until about three minutes before bed. At which point he inevitably groans, “Oh no! I have to make my sandwich!”

While I have no problem reminding him to make his sandwich, I have my own mental block against making it for him. Am terrible wife.

— My book club met last week. We were supposed to read The Other Boleyn Girl. I went so far as to make a specific trip to my local Borders to buy the book… but then I pulled it off the shelf, saw that it was nearly 700 pages, and read the first sentence (which did not inspire me)… and put it back and drove home. I have heard lovely things about this book, Internet. But I just could not do it. It was too long and too historical-y and too English and just… NO. I could not do it. It is the second time I have wilfully skipped a book for book club. (The last was The Last Song by Nick Sparks.) And this time I did not even bother Wikipediaing it to try to fake my way through the discussion.

And you know what? I did not feel bad. And no one shamed me.  (Not that I EXPECTED shaming.) In fact, two of the other girls hadn’t read it either. And really, we only discuss the books for about 10 minutes anyway so it’s not like I had to keep nodding along with a conversation I didn’t understand the whole night.

— At the beginning of the book club, I was standing at one end of our hostess’s living room with a few girls. And a blond girl who looked familiar walked in the door. As I said – literally just then – she looked familiar… but I couldn’t place her. And I was quite certain I had no idea what her name was. So I quietly asked one of the other girls – A –  if the blond girl was a new member.

And A responded, “Oh no, that’s R. She’s not new, she just doesn’t come very often.” And I looked, and sure enough R – whom I KNOW, as she has attended several book clubs, and who is also blonde – had come in behind the familiarish girl. So I said to A, “Oh! I know R! I was talking about the other girl!”

And then – even though the blonde girl (it turned out) WAS new and had only attended one meeting, which I had been unable to make – MY face turned bright red.

And it wasn’t even EMBARRASSING. I mean, it was a simple misunderstanding between me and A; neither R nor the new girl had heard the conversation; no harm no foul. And yet I got ridiculously, lobsterly embarrassed. Which, of course, made it much worse. Because everyone was all, “What is your deal?” and staring and asking why I was blushing. So I was not only embarrassed about the non-embarrassing situation, I was also embarrassed because I was embarrassed.

And continued blushing for about a skillion years. Because there is nothing like blushing to make you blush MORE. Arg.

— In other embarrassing news (we might as well lay it all out on the table), my husband and I made a quick run to the grocery store last night to pick up a rotisserie chicken ( and a frozen pizza. Which I cut into THIRDS and promptly froze two of the pieces) for a quick dinner since we were both too busy to bother with cooking a full meal. So I – who had been working on the computer all day – just threw on Uggs and a jacket over my workout clothes and threw my hair into a ponytail.

Of course, we ran into one of my husband’s attendings in the stupid self checkout. And because my husband is super nice and physically unable to say a quick goodbye, he got embroiled in a conversation with the attending. I did not want to meet ANYONE in my condition (haven’t I learned ANYTHING from Stacey and Clinton?), so I managed to slowly and carefully double-bag our five groceries (we also bought a package of mushrooms, some frozen vegetables, and one of those $1.25 mini-containers of Haagen Dazs mango sorbet) for about 15 minutes, trying to look very busy and engrossed in the bagging process, whilst very carefully avoiding eye contact with my husband and his attending lest that lead to an introduction.

Finally, my poor husband found a way to say goodbye politely (he LIKES his attending! And did not want to offend!) and we escaped.

We were both a little flustered, since it was a Wholly Awkward Situation. And neither of us really knew what the other should have done. So once in the car, he asked for a General Ruling on how he should act should we ever find ourselves in that situation again.

Because obviously I am not really UP for meeting Important People whilst wearing Nike exercise pants, Uggs, and zero makeup. And yet, I am also not UP for Lurking Creepily and Unfriendly-ly as my husband talks with said Important People.

So we decided that it’s better to introduce me, no matter what I look like. As I pointed out, even if I look like something the cat dragged in, I am still his wife.

— So, as I mentioned, I had The Worst Headache Ever on Friday night. And it started with a Weird Eye Thing – one that I’d experienced once before. But let me back up a little. In the past couple of months, I have also had two other Weird Experiences. So, in true hypochondriac fashion, I immediately connected all these weirdnesses together and got all hyperventilatory over Potential Horrifying Issues.

Which is all to say that I want to record these Weird Things here a) just in case and b) to prove to skeptical doctors that I am not just making it up if I ever have to tell them about the Weird Things.

So, the first Weird Thing happened maybe two months ago. I woke up and went to work. Since I work alone from home, sometimes I am the only person I’m around all day. So I will occasionally say things out loud – read something I’ve written, express my irritation with someone who emailed me, etc. And on this particular day, I tried to read something and couldn’t read it out loud. I could process the words mentally, but I couldn’t get them to come out of my mouth. It wasn’t a physical issue – I could make sounds, just not the sounds I wanted to. Of course, it subsided after a while and I told my husband about it and he didn’t seem particularly worried. Then I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago. The day when we didn’t ski, and my husband was away on an interview, I was indulging in some blog reading. And one of the blogs I read mentioned that Katy Perry song, “California Girls.” It’s a song I like, and I knew the words – the ones about “will melt your popsicle” – and it got lodged in my head. So when I went upstairs to my room I started to sing that particular lyric. And I couldn’t sing it. Not that I couldn’t hit the notes; I mean, I’m sure I couldn’t but that’s not the point. I KNEW the right words, but I couldn’t force my mouth to say them correctly. Like instead of “west coast girls” all I could say was “well so curl” or something. So I got a little panicky and said the words over and over, very slowly, until I could say them again and again without issue. And it took a LONG time. Like, 15 tries. (I still remember this because it was so stupid. Repeating THOSE lyrics over and over in a frantic manner? Ridiculous.)  But once again, the Weirdness subsided and all was fine and I forgot about it until this weekend.

I feel really stupid for writing this all out. Let me remind you, I am a HUGE hypochondriac who has watched far too many episodes of House.

Then there was the Weird Eye Thing. It happened for the first time maybe last week? I don’t recall what I was doing, I think I’d just woken up? but all of a sudden I had all these little sparklies in front of my eyes. Have you ever rubbed the heels of your hands hard against your eyes, and when you remove your hands,  the darkness ebbs slowly away and leaves little holes of light in your visual field? Well, that’s what it was like. Oh yes, I HAD just woken up. And I was trying to get to work but the sparklies were obscuring the computer screen and making it difficult to read.  Like the other Weirdness, this went away after a while.

But then it happened again on Friday night, right before bed. Only this time it was like a specific horizontal zig-zag in the top left corner of my visual field. It did not go away when I blinked, and it seemed to be in both eyes. It lasted for probably 15 minutes, and was so annoying that I couldn’t read my book – it was too much effort to focus away from the zigzaggy sparkles.

Anyway, then I went to sleep and woke up every two hours with this horrible, splitting headache that hurt everywhere but was worst in the right side of my head, somewhat behind my right eye.

My husband speculates that maybe it was a migraine, except that I’ve never had a migraine and it’s very unusual for someone of my advanced age (har har) (but seriously) to just begin getting migraines out of the blue.

Anyway, once again, I feel utterly stupid for telling you this. But really, it’s just in case. (By the way, I am purposely NOT googling “aphasia” and “vision sparklies” [technical term] and “worst headache ever” because I do not need Dr. Google to tell me about the tiny alien that’s hatching inside my brain stem. No siree.)

— Moving on, one of the gals I work with just introduced me to Rebecca Black last week. (Not to her, the person; to her, the concept. Or something.) So obviously I had to listen to her breakout song “Friday” and watch the accompanying music video.

If you haven’t heard/seen it? Just imagine a stylistic amalgam of Justin Bieber, Ke$ha, and Miley Cyrus with lyrics written by Elmo.

— Speaking of Justin Bieber: Whenever I hear “Friday” (three times so far – PLENTY), I somehow get “Baby (Baby, Baby, Oh)” stuck in my head.

Leave it to the Biebster to morph someone else’s song into his music without ever touching it.

— By the way, if you haven’t seen the Jimmy Fallon/Stephen Colbert version of “Friday,” you must watch it immediately.

— My husband and I finally watched Black Swan this weekend. It was both not as good as AND better than what I anticipated. What I most liked – besides the music – was how it made me think about the experience of producing art – that to produce your best work, you need to get in touch with a part of yourself you may not know or like or want to reveal. And letting that part of you out is frightening, exhausting, even destructive.

It left me wondering something I’ve questioned before: If you can only create by unleashing devastation and ruin… Is it worth it? Is it okay to produce something lesser if, at the end, you come out of it intact? Or, it is okay to come out of your art intact if you wind up producing something sub par? Or is it an all or nothing sort of thing – as though you aren’t being true to the art unless you go balls to the wall? You’d think the answer would be simple. But I don’t think it is. Not for artists, and not for consumers of art.

— My husband has only about four fellowship interviews left! It’s very exciting slash scary, to be so close to the end. I’ll be glad to have him all to myself again. And by “have him all to myself” I mean “share him with the hospital and his patients.”

— Have you ever witnessed some sort of Process and realized that there is a better way to do it? Let me give you an example, because that was the vaguest question ever asked: We went to Chipotle the other day and there was a long line. No problem; we are not averse to waiting. And Chipotle was – on the surface – equipped for the influx of customers. They had six people behind the counter on burrito/etc. duty and one person at the cashier. (Not to mention a few people in the back, cooking chicken and onions and peppers and such.)

BUT they were going about it all wrong. There were three dudes whose job it was to either steam the burrito wrapper (my husband informs me I mean “tortilla”), add hot veggies (beans or onions-and-peppers), or add meat. I shall call them the Hot Dudes. And there were two dudes and a girl whose job it was to top the burritos (or tacos or salads or what have you) with lettuce and sour cream and such. I shall call them the Topping Team. It was also the Topping Team’s job to fold and wrap the burritos.

But the Hot Dudes were much too efficient. They had five people’s burritos/etc done and on the assembly line before the Topping Team could top, fold, and wrap even one burrito/etc.

Listen, no matter what, we were all going to have to wait for the same amount of time. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather that I wait while my food is still sitting in its little chafing dishes, rather than growing cold on the counter as the Topping Team struggles to keep up.

(I don’t think it helped matters that two of the Topping Team members seemed brand new. And one of them had to dump the entire contents of a burrito into another wrapper/tortilla because she had so badly botched the folding process.)

Also, the cashier seemed to do double duty as bus boy. So she was NEVER AT THE CASHIER. And so there was a big pile up at the cashier as people tapped their feet and their rapidly-cooling burritos/etc grew ever cooler.

I got very overworked by the whole ordeal, Internet. But my burrito – while not as hot as I’d like it – was delicious. I swear they put crack in those things.

Anyway, my point is, I have a MUCH better system.  Only have one Hot Dude. Have three members of the Topping Team, all who have specific toppings designated to them. And make sure the freaking cashier is there AT ALL TIMES. Then put the remaining two Hot Dudes on bus boy duty. And allow people to stand in line a little longer, so that there are only three people being served at all times: One being asked what kind of burrito/etc s/he wants; one being asked which toppings s/he wants; and one being rung up at the cash register. The rest of the people can wait in line and no one’s food will get cold. MUCH better system, no?

But alas.  It’s not like I can simply suggest this to someone at my local Chipotle. I think that is a shortcut to a burrito full of rocks.

— By the way, one member of the Topping Team was very overzealous with the toppings. She asked my husband if he wanted sour cream and as he was saying “No thank you!” she was dolloping a giant dollop of sour cream onto his burrito. She asked, with a poor approximation of deep chagrin, whether he’d like her to make him a NEW burrito. But we’d already been waiting for 15 minutes or so, and I was already getting frantic over my rapidly-cooling burrito, AND my husband happens to love sour cream, he had just opted out of it for health reasons, so he took one for the team.

— I have the bad habit of never spending my book store gift cards. It drives my husband CRAZY, because he loves almost nothing more than buying books. But I go on a buying binge – usually on a day when I have forgotten my gift cards – and then I’m good for months and months.

Anyway, I have a nice stack of books beside my bed these days… But I’ve had a run of books that have left me feeling pretty “meh,” which is making me doubt my book-choosing ability, and making me feel apprehensive about the quality of the books I currently possess. Plus, our book for next month’s book club is The Art of Racing in the Rain which I have heard is good and yet I STILL feel very “meh” about. PLUS plus, it just so happens that I have all these gift cards lying around. (“All these gift cards” means two gift cards for $10 and $20 respectively, plus one old gift card with about $6.80 on it.) So what I’m asking is, do you have any books that I MUST read? Really good ones that don’t involve vampires or zombies please.

— Last week, my husband and I went to the grocery store (yes, this is our idea of a hot date) (seriously… now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t remember going anywhere with him BESIDES the grocery store in over a week) (and the place we went before THAT was Cheesecake Factory, so that doesn’t really count) and one of the items on our grocery list was mushrooms. He grabbed a package of pre-WASHED, pre-sliced mushrooms. I even asked him, there in the produce section, if they were pre-WASHED. Because if I’m going to wash my own mushrooms, I’d rather cut them myself. (Am Very Particular about food.)

He said yes, pre-WASHED and showed me the label where it said, clear as day, pre-washed. Then we bought them, put them in the fridge, and forgot about them.

On Friday, I pulled out the mushrooms to make as a side. And upon opening them, discovered that they were speckled with that dark black loamy soil particular to mushrooms. A couple of the slices were COATED in dirt.

And I just don’t even know what to DO in that situation. Obviously, I washed them all carefully and we ended up eating them. (Spitefully.) But I was irritated. Not irritated enough to drive all the way back to the grocery store. But definitely irritated enough to whine about it to you. (You: Super.)

Well, Internet. That’s all I’ve got.

I hope, despite this sad sack of randomness, that you have an excellent day.

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I haven’t done a Rules for a Happy Marriage post in a long, long time.

This year made me rethink a lot of what I thought I knew about love and marriage. It’s not that my faith in MY marriage was shaken. It’s that my faith in my ability to know what’s RIGHT was shaken.

But I started this little series not because I think I’m some sort of marriage expert. I mean, that would be pretty ridiculous of me to claim any modicum of expertise, considering we’ve only been married for two years. I started this little series to remind myself of what’s working now. I think it will be fun to look back on these things in the future and laugh about how naïve I was… Or look fondly on something we’ve been doing for decades to make our marriage strong.

So here’s my first Rule for a Happy Marriage of 2011:

Don’t be a Golden Doodle.

Here’s what I mean…

My parents have this dog. (I have introduced you to him before.)

Isn’t he cute?

He’s a Golden Doodle and he’s incredibly sweet and he protects my mom from bears.

But he is a little… clingy.

Especially with my mom, who is his Best Friend in the Whole Wide World.

Any time she’s in the room, he’s right beside her. Any time she calls me on the phone, he starts barking because she’s not talking to HIM. Any time she plays with him, he gets this big goofy look of Ultimate Joy.

But basically, any time they are in the room together, my mom needs to be entertaining him.

(Unless he is flopped out on the floor, worn out from all the clinging. Or rabbit chasing.)

Ugh. Exhausting.

Well, sometimes I know exactly how he feels.

Like many people, my husband works long hours. Sometimes he’ll be gone for 30+ hours at a time. Sometimes he’ll work from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. Sometimes he’ll have a week where he leaves before I wake up and doesn’t get home until 8:00 pm.

Throw in work travel for me…

And we don’t always get a lot of time together. (Thank GOD for electives.)

So sometimes I feel like I’m jumping all over him when he gets home… Panting “Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me!” I’ve been at home alone for lord knows how many days… and I’m lonely and missing him and all I want to do is spend one-on-one time with my husband.

But that’s not healthy.

Because HE needs alone time, too.

Just as I would go crazy if he were in my face 24/7… He would go crazy if he didn’t have a few hours to himself to check sports stores, listen to music, and browse mindlessly through Facebook.

No, I am not perfect when it comes to giving him space for his “me time.”

Sometimes I get pouty and frustrated. Sometimes I feel all “woe is me” that he’d rather be checking espn.com than hanging out with his wife. Sometimes I want to stomp my foot and demand that he focus on me me me.

But I think our relationship is stronger because we give each other space. When we do stuff together, we’re doing it because we enjoy being together. Not because one person is forcing other person into it.

I remember when my husband was in med school he had a classmate – C – who was also married.  C was constantly complaining about his wife, who – according to C, at least – would pounce on him the instant he got back from class or a clinical rotation or a study session and get really mad if he wanted to have some personal down time. It sounded like they got into a LOT of fights about it.

My husband would thank me for not being like C’s wife. Sometimes he still brings it up: how lucky he feels that I give him time for himself.

Listen, I’m not BLAMING her. I get it. You married this person because you want to be with him. And I’m certainly not saying I know everything that went on in their marriage. I only know what my husband told me, second hand.

But I’ve found, in our marriage, that it’s important to resist that overwhelming need to spend every second together.

It’s not always easy. Okay, it’s USUALLY not easy. But I know I’m a happier member of our marriage because I have a life outside of “us.” And I think it’s only fair that I give my husband the same opportunity.

 

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It’s been a long, cold week filled with much snow. So let’s get straight to the bullets!

* Every time I hear a Rhianna song – any Rhianna song at all – I get the Shy Ronnie chorus stuck in my head.

* Tomorrow I get to attend a fancy holiday party! I am going to wear a fancy dress and some high heels and maybe even some makeup. I have yet to decide whether I will wear stockings. The dress is short, and it will be cold outside, so it seems that stocking are A Good Idea… And yet, I will be wearing peep-toe shoes (which are NOT up for negotiation), and I think it might be some sort of fashion faux pas to wear stockings with peep-toes. Am I wrong? Has the “no stockings with peep-toe shoes” rule gone the way of “no white pants after Labor Day”? (Although I still refrain from wearing white pants after Labor Day, or before Labor Day, to be absolutely honest with you. White pants + generous thighs = giant inescapable microscope on the part of me I least want people to look at.)

* There is something wrong with our local Macy’s. First of all, it’s a stand-alone Macy’s, which is odd to me. In my experience, a Macy’s is usually one of the anchor stores in a mall. But that’s not the main problem. The main problem is that the Macy’s employs approximately four people.

I went there twice last weekend. Once, on the way to dinner at a friend’s house. We wanted to pick up a little hostess gift. We got to the Macy’s about 40 minutes before we had to be at dinner. Our friend’s house was 10 minutes away. (This is beginning to sound like a horrible nightmare of a math problem.) We grabbed a cute package of Frango mints after poking around for five minutes and realized we still had tons of time. So I moseyed into the shoe section where I spotted a cute pair of boots I wanted to try on. I stood there for about three minutes without seeing a single shoe salesperson, so we scrapped that idea and headed immediately to the cashier. If you’re keeping track, that means we had 22 whole minutes to buy the mints and leave.

First of all, we wandered around for about 5 minutes before we found a sales counter that actually had a person at it.

(Let me remind you: This was a Saturday evening two weeks after Thanksgiving.)

Then we found a cashier who was helping one person. Apparently, someone was in line behind that person. Her pile of costume jewelry was holding her place. Which was fine with me – I know the holidays make people crazy, and I can be patient when necessary. My husband, on the other hand, sometimes has a hard time. (Which is weird, because he is INCREDIBLY patient with me. But lines or bad traffic get to him really quickly.) Turns out that these two customers each took FOREVER. My husband even scouted out the rest of the store to see if he could find us an alternate sales counter. He could not.

We got out of there 5 minutes late. As in, it took us 22 minutes to make one tiny purchase.

The next day, we went back so I could try on the boots. There were about 40,000 women in the tiny shoe area and just two people to do all the running and ringing up. It took me 15 minutes to wait in line to have the shoe salesman look at the boots I wanted to try on, and then go in the back to get them. He got so confused, poor guy, that he brought back only two of the three pairs I wanted to try on… And one of them in the size of the girl behind me in line. (I let her try them on while I tried on the other pair.)

It was a mess.

I wonder if that Macy’s just can’t afford to hire enough holiday employees? Or if a bunch of the employees were in the back eating birthday cake? Or if it’s just a really bad combination of slow and/or new employees and excess numbers of customers.

All I have to say is I have renewed appreciation for Zappos.

* I found a Giant Dead Spider and a Tiny Dead Spider in the guest bathtub. I now get creeped out every time I go into the guest bathroom, because the tub is apparently some sort of Final Resting Ground for arachnids. And that is creepy.

* The other day, my husband bought some chestnuts and roasted them in the oven. They are too mealy for my taste. But it felt very festive just to be near them while they were roasting. I suppose it would have been MORE festive if they’d involved some sort of open fire. More festive and also more fire alarm-y.

* Speaking of not-actually-festive things, our apartment complex put up a lovely “happy holidays” notice in all the hallways and stairwells. When you first spot it, you think, “How nice of the administration to get into the holiday spirit!” Until you read it. And then you find out that it is a strongly-worded note forbidding live Christmas trees. After all, live trees are the primary cause of fires in December. Then it ends with asking us to spy on our neighbors and report them if they buy a real tree.

Listen, I am all for Fire Safety. Really, I am. And I am all for requiring that renters buy fake trees. It’s for the Good of the Many, people! But isn’t there a better and less fear mongering sort of way to do it?

* When my husband started residency, he got three white coats. Long white coats, which differentiate the Real Doctors from the Medical Students.  That is one white coat per year, if you’re counting.

Here we are, not yet halfway through the second year of residency, and my husband’s second white coat just bit the dust. His pen exploded in the pocket.

In case you don’t know, Giant Blue Ink Stain + White Coat = Noticeable Problem.

Note to self: Do not use Shout Spray on a Giant Ink Stain.

Second Note to Self: Do not dunk the Now Enormously Huge Yet Slightly Diluted Ink Stain in water.

Third Note to Self: Do not try to Oxy out the Now Astronomically Monstrous Ink Stain That Is Still Spreading and Threatening to Eat Your Face and just throw it away while you’re still alive.

The other white coat is serviceable, but is missing all of its buttons.

* Here’s where I admit to you that I do not know how to sew on a button. While I know this makes a small part of my mother (jokingly) think she failed me as a parent, it has really not hindered my progress as a human in the least. One time a button fell off my coat in college. I was able to get one of the guys who lived upstairs from my dorm room to sew it back on for me.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you can’t teach your kids to sew, at least teach them how to persuade an Econ major into sewing for them. That’s got to be a skill of equal value.

* Facebook felt the need to remind me that my wedding anniversary to “[Husband’s Name Here]” is coming up.

It makes me deeply sad to think that this probably HELPS people remember their anniversaries.

* That said, it’s our anniversary!!! We plan to celebrate by going out to a steak dinner. Because nothing says “I will love you for all eternity” like stuffing yourself silly with meat, amIright?

We’ve been together for so long that it kind of surprises me that we’ve only been married two years. Why, we’re still newlyweds!

The newness of “being married” has worn off, for the most part. But every once in a while, I am struck with wonderment that I am bonded to my husband for life.

It’s a pretty crazy thing, that we found each other. Crazy and wonderful.

* * *

What’s up with you today, Internet?

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Thirty

On your twenty-first birthday, I didn’t know you. (Although in the next few weeks, we’d catch each other’s eye and share our first kiss on a dance floor in November.) I remember hearing stories of your birthday, though. My roommate recounted the raucous good time but I didn’t recognize you in the stories; your name wasn’t yet etched on my heart. I look back on old photos –non digital ones, can you imagine? – of all the bottles of champagne lined up in your dorm, listen to those same stories my roommate told me, and marvel at the fact that there was a time before I knew you. Twenty-odd years without you in my life. It’s hard to believe you weren’t always there, somewhere, whispering in the shadows.

When you turned twenty-three, we’d just moved to a new city in a new state. We’d been living together for just a couple of months. You were jobless, twisting. Building Target furniture from boxes while I went to classes and made friends. That was the year I anguished over poems and slammed the door to my bedroom to keep you out while I wrote. It was a year of yelling and getting to know each other’s foibles. It was the year you started pre-med classes – the first rung on the ladder we’re still climbing.

On your twenty-fifth birthday, you were a couple months into medical school. Once again, we’d just moved to a new city in a new state. I fresh out of grad school, teaching college composition and freelancing to make ends meet. You were busy making friends and learning the inner-workings of the brain. That year, you and I took a step away from each other. You were a student; I was a “grown up” with a job. You were still chewing over the possibility of marriage; I was ready to take a leap into forever with you.

When you turned twenty-six, we hadn’t yet been engaged for an entire month. We were giddy with this new stage of our relationship. We’d walk hand and hand through the surrounding neighborhoods, picturing our future, dreaming, head over heels in love with the idea of us. That was the year you made your first real forays into patient care, the year I sat on the edge of my bed and let you look in my ears and test my knees and ankles for reflexes.

For your twenty-ninth birthday, we were – once again – in a new city, in a new state. You were a few months into your residency internship. We hadn’t yet been married a year. I got you your favorite present ever – an iPod touch – and we went to Chicago for a birthday weekend with your family. This was the year we had to learn new independence as well as new dependencies. My career changed course; yours began. We found new pleasure in the few hours we could grab together. I saw, as though for the first time, how kind you are, how strong, how wise. My pride in your accomplishments, your quiet confidence, your compassionate nature… my appreciation for you… my love – they swallowed me whole.

Now, on your thirtieth birthday, I can’t help but look back at the past nine years and marvel at how quickly they’ve slipped past.

The whole time, I’ve loved you. I can’t wait to see what the year, the decade ahead has in store.

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Do you ever have those days where nothing goes right?

Yesterday, I got done with work with plenty of time to make dinner – or at least get it started – before my husband came home.

But I hadn’t taken the fish out of the freezer to defrost.

So I took it out and unwrapped it (my husband stuck it in the freezer with the paper wrapper still on).

First off, my fingers stuck to the giant fish popsicle. Secondly, some of the paper just wouldn’t peel off. So I ran the fish under some cold water to help loosen its iron grip on the paper bits.

That’s when I dropped the fish in the sink, right into the garbage disposal.

If you know me at all, you will know that I immediately threw the fish away. Because I cannot deal with that.

(I know it’s wasteful, okay? But I wouldn’t be able to eat it knowing it had been IN the disposal. Yes, I understand that the heat of the stove would have killed bacteria – maybe – or that I could have washed it off yada yada YUCK.)

So I took a deep breath and considered Plan B: we had some pork chops sitting in the freezer. So I took them out, successfully transported them into a Zip-loc bag, and put them in a dish with some warm water to defrost.

I grabbed the broccoli from the fridge, pleased that we were finally going to use it. (I bought it a week ago Sunday but we didn’t end up eating it.)

I sprayed some veggie spray into the bottom of a big pot and filled the pot with water so I could dump all the broccoli florets into it as I chopped them.

The first floret I cut off the stalk had a teeny little spider on it.

Let me say EW first, before I acknowledge that yes, veggies sometimes have bugs in them. I’ll occasionally find little flies in the red leaf lettuce. Once I had a horrifying experience of chopping off the step of a jalapeno and watching as a giant, spiny caterpillar climbed out of it onto my counter.

So I shuddered a little and tossed the floret into the now-empty-of-fish garbage disposal. But that wasn’t going to keep me from eating the broccoli. I mean, I’d just watch carefully for other bugs.

I cut off a few florets and tossed them into the pot of water.

And then I noticed a pale spot on the top of another floret. Probably just some dirt or something, I thought.

No. Internet, it was a SPIDER WEB. On my broccoli.

For a few seconds, I tried to be brave.

I’ll just cut out the spider webby pieces, I told myself.

But then I came to my senses and decided that no way in hell was I going to eat broccoli that was spider web adjacent.

So I threw out the broccoli and dumped the water down the drain. Then I went to put the pot on the counter, shaking my head at the fact that I’d JUST WASHED IT, and now I would have to wash it AGAIN, just for holding some spider webby crucifers for a few minutes.

To make room for the pot, I unloaded the dishwasher. As I put away the LAST PLATE, I realized that ohmygod I hadn’t actually RUN the dishwasher the night before. So I’d just put away DIRTY DISHES.

If you know me at all, you know that I can’t deal with something like that. So I had to retrace my steps and load the dishwasher back up with all the dishes I’d pulled out… Plus the dishes they’d touched. Which, in the case of the silverware, was ALL OF THE SILVERWARE.

It was 7:30 by this time. There was no way I could wait for the dishes to run through before making dinner. So when my husband called to say he was on his way home, I asked him to pick up a frozen pizza at the grocery. That requires a pizza cutter and tin foil – neither of which were in the dishwasher.

It wasn’t until after 11:00 that I remembered the pork chops, languishing in water, fully defrosted to room temperature, and completely unsalvageable.

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